Giles Ji Ungpakorn, a Thai academic, socialist, and dissident currently wanted for lèse majesté shares this analysis of the Red Shirt movement as they prepare to conclude their Bangkok protests.
Red Shirt protests in Bangkok, which started in mid-March are about to be wound up. The leaders have accepted a compromise with the military-backed Abhisit government. Elections will not be held immediately, but on 14th November. Earlier Abihist had indicated an election in February 2011 at the earliest.
It is unclear whether the blanket censorship will be lifted. One clear demand that the Red Shirt leaders are expecting is that the Red Shirt TV channel (People Channel TV) will be allowed back on air. It is unclear whether websites like Prachatai will be unblocked. Another demand is that the law be applied equally to all. The Government claims that tomorrow the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister will “surrender” to the police regarding charges of murdering citizens back on 10th April. But it is unclear whether any real charges will be filed against them.
Nothing has been said about the political prisoners, both those in jail for lese majeste and those in jail for blocking roads during the recent protest.
The obligatory declaration of cinematic patriotism for Indian Muslims necessitates a continuous performance of “loyal citizenship” invariably through offering the sacrifice of a “disloyal” one. This leaves little space for critical engagement with the nation and the state.
The obligatory declaration of cinematic patriotism for Indian Muslims (discussed in Parts I and II earlier) necessitates a continuous performance of “loyal citizenship” invariably through offering the sacrifice of a “disloyal” one. This leaves little space for critical engagement with the nation, the state, and the unending wars. An example of this ritual performance is the sequence in My Name is Khan where Rizwan Khan, played by Shahrukh Khan (SRK), reports the “doctor” in the Los Angeles Masjid to the FBI. How do we know the “bad” doctor is an al-Qaeda member or a terrorist? Dr. Faisal Rahman does indeed talk about his “blood boiling” at the oppression of the Muslim Ummah in Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine, Chechnya, Kashmir et al and even exhorts the handful of audience in a completely open space inside the Masjid to “join him and do something.” The details of that “something” are never revealed.
On Jan 21st, a group of student activists at Georgetown University provided guest speaker, General Patraeus, with an unexpected welcome, successfully interrupting his address by reading out the names and ages of those killed in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. In the process, they’ve reminded us of the power and necessity of dissent, which, in this case, was effectively achieved by less than a dozen remarkable students.
This Friday, International Human Rights Day was marked for the first time in Israel. In Tel-Aviv, some 5000 people marched in a general human-rights march. It was a quiet event that was covered very favorably and widely by the press. What wasn’t being covered by the press? The second March to Sheikh Jarrah, which ended up with 24 arrests and one demonstrator in the hospital.
Putting Sheik Jarrah in Context
In 1875- Ottoman times- the Committee of the Sephardic Ethnic Group bought these lands. There was a small Jewish community living there until they gradually started fleeing, during the violence, in the area, during the 1920’s and 30’s and up until 1948. From 1948 to 1967, the land was under Jordanian control. At that time, 28 Palestinian refugee families were given lodging on this land by the Jordanian government, under the condition that they give up their UNRWA benefits and pay symbolic rent, for three years, by which time the houses will be passed under their names. The last part never happened.
The israeli group, BOYCOTT! Supporting the Palestinian BDS call from within, have circulated a call to action, asking Israeli citizens to contact officials at the University of Trondheim, and express their support for a decision in favor of an institutional boycott against Israeli universities. The letter sent by the group itself follows.
Boycott the Israeli Academy Now! – Open Letter from Israeli Citizens to the Board of Governors of Trondheim University
Dear Trondheim University Officials,
We, Israeli citizens, activists and supporters of BOYCOTT! Supporting the Palestinian BDS call from within, an Israeli group in support of boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel, applaud faculty members at the University of Trondheim and University College of Sør-Trøndelag in Norway for their principled support for the cause of justice in Palestine by proposing a motion to boycott Israeli universities. We support this historic step in the direction of applying effective pressure on Israel and holding it accountable for its occupation and apartheid policies, which violate international law and fundamental human rights.
I’ve probably told this story — orally — hundreds of times in the past nine months. It’s a story I find fascinating, and I ask it of every Israeli I meet: How did you become a dissident?
A Zionist Upbringing
I was born and raised in Israel. A daughter to “Atheist Jews”, secular Zionists, white collar, upper middle class, capitalists, Neo-Liberals, who “built this country”. I’ve had many internal struggles with these values and identity labels. Always self aware, at some point I decided to just accept that I will never be in the mainstream, and to accept the “rebel without a cause” label I’ve been given by my family.
Through the Zionist thicket of my own family’s education, school, and the Israeli media, I found myself rootless, alone, but most of all numb. It seems to me that the biggest achievement of Zionist propaganda is to make the majority of Israelis numb and confused. I would despise school (which I often described as “oppressive”), my army service (“jail with better visiting conditions”), and national ceremony (“disgusting solidarity”).
Israel Police on Tuesday detained Haaretz correspondent Amira Hass upon her exit from the Gaza Strip, where she had been living and reporting over the last few months.
Hass was arrested and taken in for questioning immediately after crossing the border, for violating a law which forbids residence in an enemy state. She was released on bail after promising not to enter the Gaza Strip over the next 30 days.
Hass is the first Israeli journalist to enter the Gaza Strip in more than two years, since the Israel Defense Forces issued an entry ban following the abduction of IDF soldier Gilad Shalit in a 2006 cross-border raid by Palestinian militants.
Last December, Hass was arrested by soldiers at the Erez Checkpoint as she tried to cross into Israel after having entered the Gaza Strip aboard a ship run by peace activists from Europe.
Upon discovering that she had no permit to be in Gaza, the soldiers transferred her to the Sderot police.
When questioned, Hass pointed out that no one had stopped her from entering the Strip, which she did for work purposes.
Egypt is part of the American “axis of the rightful” and is usually praised by Washington for upholding all the goodies of democracy. On 1 February 2009, Magdi Hussein, a journalist and former editor of the Al Shaab newspaper, was arrested for having crossed into Gaza. He was held up on silly charges, and then sentenced by a military tribunal to two years in jail… Obviously, Hussein’s greater crime was criticizing the Egyptian collaborationist role with Israel in the December 2008 on Gaza. Even voicing the slightest support for the Palestinians or criticism of the Mubarak dictatorship can land journalists or solidarity activists in jail. It is worth reading Adam Morrow and Khaled Moussa al-Omrani, eIntifada [http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article10369.shtml article]:
Egypt is part of the American “axis of the rightful” and is usually praised by Washington for upholding all the goodies of democracy. On 1 February 2009, Magdi Hussein, a journalist and former editor of the Al Shaab newspaper, was arrested for having crossed into Gaza. He was held up on silly charges, and then sentenced by a military tribunal to two years in jail… Obviously, Hussein’s greater crime was criticizing the Egyptian collaborationist role with Israel in the December 2008 on Gaza. Even voicing the slightest support for the Palestinians or criticism of the Mubarak dictatorship can land journalists or solidarity activists in jail. It is worth reading Adam Morrow and Khaled Moussa al-Omrani’s, Electronic Intifada article:
While in the Gaza Strip, governed by Palestinian resistance faction Hamas, Hussein witnessed the destruction wrought by Israel’s recent campaign, during which more than 1,300 Palestinians were killed, and infrastructure demolished. Hussein visited numerous bombed-out mosques and homes, as well as the badly damaged Palestinian parliament building, Gaza’s Islamic University and the al-Shifa Hospital, teeming with critically injured civilians.
Following yesterday’s article on the criminalisation of dissent by Seumas Milne in The Guardian (posted below), The Guardian today reveals that the Government’s new ‘counterterrorism’ strategy due next month called Contest 2 will define as ‘extremist’ anyone who believes in ‘armed resistance, anywhere in the world. This would include armed resistance by Palestinians against the Israeli military.’ It would also include those who ‘fail to condemn the killing of British soldiers in Iraq or Afghanistan.’
The gall of this plan is quite breathtaking. Not content merely with providing political and material support to Israel’s illegal occupation, not to mention launching illegal wars and occupations of its own, the British Government will now explicitly label all resistance to these illegal and unethical projects as ‘extremist’.
This represents a shift from the misuse of anti-terrorist legislation to attack and smear organised resistance as violent or as being infilitrated by violent extremists, towards the active repression of citizens who oppose the policy or ideology of the British Government, apparently even pacifists. A Whitehall source told BBC Panorama that Contest 2 is a “move away from just challenging violent extremism. We now believe that we should challenge people who are against democracy and state institutions “
And of course there is no suggestion that ‘Contest 2’ will cover those who support atrocities by the British or Israeli state. Nothing extreme about massacring Arabs obviously. And those who are “against demoracy”? How about the EU’s response to the election of Hamas?