Criminalising Palestinian solidarity

(Gallo/Getty)

The Electronic Intifada’s Maureen Murphy writes today at Al Jazeera:

The United States government has criminalised the Palestinian people, and now it is increasingly treating US citizens who stand in solidarity with Palestine as criminals as well – including those courageously putting their lives on the line to break the siege on Gaza.

I am a Palestine solidarity activist in the US, and one of 23 US citizens who have been issued with a subpoena to appear before a federal grand jury as part of what the government has said is an investigation into violations of the laws banning material support to foreign “terrorist organisations”.

None of us have given money or weapons to any group on the State Department’s foreign terrorist organisation list. But what many of us have done is participate in or help organise educational trips to meet with Palestinians and Colombians resisting the US-funded military regimes they live under.”

Murphy goes on to discuss the process of criminalisation as well as the green light U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has given to Israel to attack the Second Gaza Freedom Flotilla. Click here to read the piece in its entirety.

Zelaya’s Return: Neither Reconciliation nor Democracy in Honduras

Credit: FNRP

by Adrienne Pine

This article was first published in NACLA.

Over the past few weeks U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and latter-day media “experts” have hailed Manuel Zelaya’s return to Honduras and the pending reintegration of the country into the OAS as a restoration of democracy. Here in Honduras, it is clear that such claims could not be further from the truth. Despite the triumphal language of Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez, Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos, Honduran president Porfirio Lobo, and even Zelaya himself following their signing of the Cartagena Accords, Honduras today is no closer to reconciliation than it was in the months following the June 28, 2009 military coup.

As Dana Frank points out in The Progressive on May 27, the Cartagena Accords ensure the reinstatement of Honduras into the OAS in return for only one “concession” that is not already ostensibly guaranteed: that the trumped-up charges, leveled against Zelaya by the same court that legitimated his unconstitutional expulsion from the country, be dropped. That this should be sufficient for Honduras’s return is perplexing, given that the country was expelled under Article 21 of the OAS Democratic Charter, which reads in part:

When the special session of the General Assembly determines that there has been an unconstitutional interruption of the democratic order of a member state, and that diplomatic initiatives have failed, the special session shall take the decision to suspend said member state from the exercise of its right to participate in the OAS by an affirmative vote of two thirds of the member states in accordance with the Charter of the OAS.

Continue reading “Zelaya’s Return: Neither Reconciliation nor Democracy in Honduras”

Human Rights in the Rear View Mirror: Colombian Commandos Training Mexican Military and Police

by Cyril Mychalejko

In another misstep of the historic failure of Plan Colombia and the U.S.-supported War on Drugs, Colombia is training thousands of Mexican soldiers, police and court officials in an effort to boost Mexico’s fight against drug cartels.

Trainings have mostly taken place in Mexico, but now Mexican troops and police are traveling to Colombia to receive training from “Colombia’s battle-tested police commandos,” The Washington Post reported on Saturday. The article also suggests that, in addition to asserting itself as a regional power, Colombia is acting as a proxy for Washington because increased U.S. military presence in Mexico is not politically viable.

White House Drug Policy Director Richard Gil Kerlikowske, while meeting with Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos Calderón in Bogotá on January 18, said that Colombia “serves as a beacon of hope for other nations struggling with the threat to democracy posed by drug trafficking and related crime.”

A Beacon of Hope?

Kerlikowske’s deceptively rosy assessment of Colombia and the effectiveness of Plan Colombia is severely undermined by the facts on the ground.

Continue reading “Human Rights in the Rear View Mirror: Colombian Commandos Training Mexican Military and Police”

Honduran Taliban Vows to Protect Sharks

Music shop owner in Jalalabad, where Taliban has yet to express concern for marine life. (Photo: Hashim Shukoor/McClatchy)

by Jesse Freeston

Lots of news came out of Afghanistan this month, but perhaps the most terrifying is evidence that the pre-invasion ban on music is being implemented in the eastern city of Jalalabad. McClatchy journalist Hashim Shukoor reported attacks and threats against the city’s music vendors. The story was reprinted hundreds of times, and rightfully so, because editors and readers alike understand the importance of music to any society. But what if a similar attack was taking place somewhere else? Would we know about it?

Honduran percussionist Carlos Roman, from the group Montuca Sound System, explained to me in a recent interview that “what musicians and poets say is a reflection of their reality” and added that “music is one of the ways that societies have developed over time.”

Roman understands very well the significance of a regime that sees music as a threat. He is currently recovering from a joint attack by the Honduran military and police that left him with his head split open and his equipment destroyed or confiscated.

Continue reading “Honduran Taliban Vows to Protect Sharks”

Honduran Regime Targets Musicians

Produced by Jesse Freeston for The Real News Network, this video covers the military and police repression of the Sept. 15 concert in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, of popular anti-coup musical group Cafe’ Guancasco, as well as continuing efforts by the U.S. State Department and the United Nations to legitimize the regime of Porfirio Lobo Sosa.

US covering up reality in Honduras

Produced by Jesse Freeston of The Real News Network, the following video explores the current human rights situation in Honduras and the reasons we should question Hillary Clinton’s claim that the Pepe Lobo administration has “taken the steps necessary to restore democracy.”

A Process of Change – Nasrallah to Petraeus

It’s important to remember that Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah’s speeches consist of more than mere rhetoric. One of the reasons for Nasrallah’s enormous popularity in the Arab and Muslim worlds is that, unlike other Arab leaders, he says what he means and means what he says. Hizbullah is the only force to have defeated Israel – once in 2000, when the brutal occupation of south Lebanon was brought to an end, and once in 2006, when Israeli troops attempted to reinvade in order to dismantle the resistance, but bled on the border for five weeks instead. During the 2006 war Israel bombed every TV mast it could find, but failed to put Hizbullah’s al-Manar off the air. Nasrallah spoke on al-Manar of “the Israeli warship that attacked our infrastructure, people’s homes and civilians. Look at it burn!” As Nasrallah uttered these words, a Hizbullah missile did indeed disable an Israeli warship, forcing Israel to move its fleet away from the Lebanese coast.

In mid-February 2010, Shaikh Nasrallah made a speech which may well mark a fundamental change in the Middle Eastern balance of power. The speech, quoted below, should not be read as a string of empty threats, but a signal of new weaponry and fighting capabilities.

Continue reading “A Process of Change – Nasrallah to Petraeus”

Afghans to Obama: Get Out, Take Karzai With You

Patrick Cockburn writes of the impotency of Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s seven years in power. Karzai was at the State Department this week for a meeting with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and his Pakistani counterpart Asif Ali Zardari to discuss a joint strategy against terrorism, though the visit was inconveniently soured by the killing of as many as 100 Afghan civilians or more by US military strikes. However awkward, Karzai refused to allow the this symbolic display of ‘unity’ pass by and expressed his gratitude for Clinton “showing concern and regret” and added that “we hope we can work together to completely reduce civilian casualties in the struggle against terrorism.” Yet on Friday he adopted a markedly different tone to the media and demanded an end to US air strikes. With elections looming clearly Karzai recognises the political implications of his past grovelling and schmoozing with the Americans. Biting the hand that feeds you springs to mind.

When President Hamid Karzai drove to Kabul airport to fly to America earlier this week, the centre of the Afghan capital was closed down by well-armed security men, soldiers and policemen. On his arrival in Washington he will begin two days of meetings, starting today, with President Barack Obama and Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari about their joint efforts to combat the Taliban. Karzai is also to deliver a speech at the Brookings Institution think tank on “effective ways of fighting terrorism.”

The title of his lecture shows a certain cheek. Karzai’s seven years in power since the overthrow of the Taliban in 2001 have been notable for his failure to prevent their resurgence. Suppose the president’s motorcade this week had taken a different route and headed, not for the airport, but for the southern outskirts of Kabul, he would soon have experienced the limits of his government’s authority. It ends at a beleaguered police post within a few minutes’ drive of the capital. Drivers heading for the southern provincial capitals of Ghazni, Qalat and Kandahar nervously check their pockets to make sure that they are carrying no documents linking them to the government. Continue reading “Afghans to Obama: Get Out, Take Karzai With You”

Israel’s garrison-like hilltop settlements

It is a mark of how the US media’s uncritical coverage of Israel is eroding when you see Roger Cohen in the New York Times consistently being allowed the space to describe the desolate scenes in the West Bank which are punctuated by “garrison-like settlements on hilltops”. In his latest article he writes of US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s visit there, in which he states: “If you’re looking for a primer of colonialism, this is not a bad place to start.” This type of language represents a promising shift in the Times’ op-ed pages.

The sparring between the United States and Israel has begun, and that’s a good thing. Israel’s interests are not served by an uncritical American administration. The Jewish state emerged less secure and less loved from Washington’s post-9/11 Israel-can-do-no-wrong policy.

The criticism of the center-right government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has come from an unlikely source: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. She’s transitioned with aplomb from the calculation of her interests that she made as a senator from New York to a cool assessment of U.S. interests. These do not always coincide with Israel’s.

I hear that Clinton was shocked by what she saw on her visit last month to the West Bank. This is not surprising. The transition from Israel’s first-world hustle-bustle to the donkeys, carts and idle people beyond the separation wall is brutal. If Clinton cares about one thing, it’s human suffering.

Continue reading “Israel’s garrison-like hilltop settlements”