it’s official: nakba is removed from the curriculum in occupied palestine

here is the latest news from the zionist terrorist colonist regime:

Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar briefed the cabinet on plans for the start of the school year, and announced that the word “nakba” will be taken out of lesson plans.

“It can be said with certainty that Arab Israelis experienced a tragedy in the war, but there will be no use of the word ‘nakba,’ whose meaning is similar to holocaust in this context,” said Sa’ar. “The education system in the Arab sector will revise its studies about the homeland, geography, and society in elementary schools.”

interestingly, palestinian refugees are asking unrwa to remove material about the nazi holocaust from the palestinian curriculum in their schools:

A group of refugee camp committees in the Gaza Strip wants the United Nations to remove history of the Jewish Holocaust from its classroom curriculum.

According to a letter sent to UNRWA director John Ging, the committees urged the refugee agency to scrap its program because mention of the genocide “confirms the Holocaust and raises sympathy for Jews.”

UNRWA did not immediately return calls seeking comment.

prisons within prisons within prisons within prisons within prisons

holding an american passport, having the privilege of white skin, and living in palestine means that one needs to be conscious of these privileges and also use them strategically to support palestinians. the summer camp last week was one example of using my white privilege to help palestinian refugees learn about their villages and use that knowledge and experience to imagine how to fight for their right of return. i think this is urgent for this generation to be given as many tools as possible to fight for this right and to acquire knowledge from their elders and their own experiences as the risk of losing the generation that holds first-hand memories. one of the youth on the trip has an 89 year old grandfather who recalls acutely every last detail of his village beit ‘itab. part of the next phase of this project is to get the youth to record the oral histories of their elders as well as to use that history as another tool to fight for their right of return. i use the word “project” advisedly. it is not some little program that we are working on here that is temporary or fleeting. it is something that we are hoping to project into the future to help this generation realize their right of return. to break out of their prisons in the refugee camps, in their bantustan cities and villages. to take their land back.

i taught my indigenous american class last night in deheishe, in which some of the same youth from camp are students, and i started to worry a bit about the upcoming delegation. first, here is a description and a way you can support the project by donating to the middle east children’s alliance:

The Indigenous Youth Delegation to Palestine, the first-ever delegation of its kind, is scheduled for August 2009. Youth leaders from grassroots indigenous groups in the US, namely Seventh Native American Generation (SNAG) Magazine, Huaxtec, and Native students at Haskell University, will travel to Palestine at the invitation of five Palestinian youth centers. After more than two years of communicating through the internet, these young people will have the opportunity to learn firsthand from each other by sharing tools of empowerment and education.

The trip to Palestine is part of an ongoing process to connect the shared experiences of Indigenous peoples across the world, to build solidarity, justice and peace. The group will create print media, blogs, a Native/Palestinian music CD, video, photo essays, poetry and other forms of media to share their stories and involve their communities in building a national and international movement for indigenous rights.

i think that this project is hugely important as global indigenous solidarity is necessary. i think the youth can learn a lot from each other. at the same time one of the differences between indigenous youth in the americas and in palestine is time–a few hundred years difference. and i worry that the palestinian youth will look to the american indian youth and see this as their fate: four hundred years of living in refugee camps, of removal from their land, of imprisonment.

one of the more well known american indian political prisoners is up for parole again. leonard peltier, jeremy scahill reminds us, has the possibility of being released from prison in a couple of weeks:

“I AM but a common man, I am not a speaker but I have spoken. I am not all that tall, but I have stood up. I am not a philosopher or poet or a singer or any of those things that particularly inspire people, but the one thing that I am is the evidence that this country lied when they said there was justice for all… I am just a common man and I am evidence that the powers that put me here would like to sweep under the carpet. The same way they did all of our past leaders, warriors and people they massacred. Just as at Wounded Knee, the Fifth Cavalry sought its revenge for Custer’s loss and massacred some 300 Indian men women and children, then gave out 23 Medals of Honor and swept the evidence of their wrongdoing aside… I don’t want to spend the rest of my life in this prison. And I don’t want you to spend the rest of your life in some prison of the mind, heart or attitude. I want you to enjoy your life.

If nothing else give somebody a hug for me and say, ‘This is from Leonard.’”

In the Spirit of Crazy Horse,

Leonard Peltier

NOTE: Read Leonard Peltier’s full June 26 statement. Peltier is up for parole on July 28. His supporters and friends have launched a letter-writing campaign to support his release from prison after 34 years.

americans, like their zionist allies, love to lock people and communities up in prisons. they have this, among other things, in common. there are over 11,000 palestinian political prisoners languishing in zionist terrorist colonist jails, among them are some more well-known political leaders and figures. last week the campaign to free ahmed sa’adat issued a letter calling for his release as well as all the other political prisoners:

Dear Secretary-General of the United Nations Ban Ki-Moon;

We, the undersigned organizations and individuals, call upon you to immediately take action in defense of the lives, health and rights of the over 11,000 Palestinian political prisoners held inside Israeli occupation jails. This number includes numerous elected members of Palestinian Legislative Council, among them Ahmad Sa’adat, General Secretary of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine; Marwan al-Barghouthi, Fateh leader; Abdel-Aziz Dweik, Hamas leader and President of the Council, just freed after three years in prison, and dozens of other elected political leaders, in addition to thousands of other Palestinian activists, union members, community organizers, fathers, mothers, sons and daughters.

Palestinian prisoners suffer in conditions that violate international standards and norms, and are imprisoned because they refuse to accept a brutal occupation of their land and their people. Ahmad Sa’adat recently waged a nine-day hunger strike in protest of the policy of isolation and solitary confinement that has recently been escalated against Palestinian prisoners. Palestinian prisoners have been denied family visits, at times for years, denied access to all books and magazines, and denied even communication with their fellow prisoners in the isolation units. Palestinian prisoners, including Sa’adat, are currently denied necessary health care and medical treatment.

Palestinian prisoners are placed into isolation because they are national leaders and because the Palestinian prisoner movement has been an inspiration to all Palestinians and all who struggle for freedom. Ahmad Sa’adat’s hunger strike has sparked thousands of people around the world to appeal for his release, as a living example who symbolizes the steadfastness and strength of the Palestinian prisoners amid isolation and dire conditions, and it must compel all of those outside the prisons to act. Many Palestinian and international human rights and social justice organizations have called for the release of Sa’adat and to ensure the safety of his life and health, as well as for freedom and protection for all Palestinian prisoners.

The fate of these 11,000 Palestinian political prisoners is a fundamental issue of justice. Palestinians, in Palestine and in exile, are denied their rights – to return home, to self-determination, and to freedom, and those who seek to secure those rights are subject to imprisonment, whether within the open-air prisons of Gaza under siege or the walled-in West Bank, or the jails of the occupation. The silent, and at times, active, complicity of international agencies, particularly the United Nations, in the denial of Palestinian rights must not continue.

We call upon you to uphold your responsibilities and exert all pressure to end torture, cruel and inhuman treatment of Palestinian prisoners, and to free every Palestinian political prisoner from Israel’s occupation jails.

Sincerely,
http://www.freeahmadsaadat.org/
Campaign to Free Ahmad Sa’adat

the number of palestinian political prisoners grows every month with the zionist terrorist forces’ nightly raids into palestinian refugee camps, villages and cities. here is a report on the month of june alone:

The Palestinian Ministry of Detainees reported that the Israeli army kidnapped more than 380 Palestinians in several parts of the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem during the month of June.

The ministry added that the army also kidnapped four Egyptians in the Negev after claiming that they crossed the border and entered a military base.

Hundreds of Palestinian workers were also detained in the Green Line as the Israeli Police claimed they were working there without permits.

Riyadh Al Ashqar, head of the Media Department at the Ministry, stated that last month witnessed a significant escalation in Israeli attacks against Palestinian fishermen in the Gaza Strip, and that the soldiers kidnapped sixteen fishermen.

He added that Israeli security personnel interrogated the fishermen and tried to blackmail them by telling them that they would be allowed to fish in Gaza’s territorial waters should they collaborate and spy for Israel in Gaza.

The minister added that, for the first time, soldiers detained a four-year old child, identified as Mohammad Mousa, after claiming that he hurled stones at police vehicles in Jerusalem. 31 residents, including three children below 12, were detained in Hizma village, near Jerusalem.

The army also kidnapped three women, and tortured one of them at the Atara roadblock, north of Ramallah.

The tortured woman was identified as Nahed Farhat, from Ramallah; the soldiers kicked her, dragged her on the ground and punched her before blindfolding and cuffing her, and took her to a detention facility.

Soldiers also broke into the home of female legislator, Dr. Mariam Saleh, searched the property and kidnapped her son Salah after kicking and punching him and his brother.

Troops confiscated the legislator’s mobile phone and some private documents.

In its report, the Ministry said that Israeli courts issued more than 220 administrative detention orders and imposed high fines on dozens of detainees.

Troops broke into several detention facilities, searched the rooms and attacked a number of detainees.

mohammed ballan compiled a list of some of the palestinian political prisoners’ names, which jasmin ramsey at pulse media reported. however, this is just a small fraction of their names, names that must be spoken, remembered, and the demand for their release must be fought for:

It is also imperative to note that these name are only roughly 200 names when in fact there are over 11, 000 in Israeli prisons. Unfortunately, there is no transparency, and the names of these prisoners remain elusive due to the nature of their imprisonment. No human rights organizations or governmental organizations have access to all of the names and identities of these Palestinians. Although they may be erased from our regular world, we will not forget their existence and let them run through the pages of history.

It should also be noted that of those Palestinians detained, only a minor proportion have actually committed acts of “terrorism” (as defined by Israeli law) or orchestrated attacks against the Israeli civilian and military infrastructure of occupation.

For some of the sources used to compile these names, please visit:

http://addameer.info/
http://sumoud.tao.ca/?q=
http://www.miftah.org/Doc/Factsheets/Miftah/English/Prisoners.pdf
http://palestinianprisoners.blogspot.com/

PALESTINIAN PRISONERS:

10,000 men, 1500 women, 500 children under 12 yrs old.

Mainstream media coverage, including Israeli/Arabic/Palestinian/Western news stations: 0.00 minutes, 0 news articles

Names (a mere fraction of them)

Abdullah Hussein Abdullah Odeh
Samah Abdullah
Muhammad Ouni Muhammad Daadou
Amin As’ad Mustafa Salim
Mahmoud Shukri Abd al-Karim Hamshari
Ali Kamal Hussein Abu Salim
Muhammad Saleem Shaheen
Azzam Yusuf Mahmoud Yasin
Roulan Tawfiq Abdullah Dighlis
Nahed Taysir Tawfiq Abu Diyak
Mu’in Mustafa Musa Feshafesha
Muhammad Bassam Tawfiq Walway
Muhammad Amin Ahmad Yunus
Nadel Khalil Ahmad ‘Aalouna
Adam Ghazzan Ahmad Harami
Khadeer Ali Muhammad Bisharat
Mahmoud Radwan Mahmoud Musleh
Samed Muhammd Hassan Asleem
Ehad Mansur Ibrahim Khleelya
Muhammad Saleh Suleyman Mardawi
Saleh ‘Amer Swey’ad S’aida
Amin Abd Muhammad ‘Arbash
George Ghabi Yusuf Bihnan
Ghassan Nu’man Mahmoud Taha
Jibr ‘Ouda Ali Mukhamra
Nitham Mustafa Sawafta
Samer Mahmoud Karim Haimouni
Ibrahim Muhammad Khalil Dababsa
Khalil Suleyman Khalil Jrouf
Ashraf Hussein Mahmoud Abu Ghlass
Tamer Badr Qubtan Abu ‘Arqoub
Muhammad Ibrahim Muhammad ‘Oud
Tawfiq Abd al-Qader Talib Omar
Ziyad Hassan Abd al-Jalil Kahla
Ayman Yaser Khalil ‘Amru
Imad ‘Ezat Muhammad Awlad Muhammad
Mustafa Sawafta
Muhammad Zuhdi Abd al-Rahman Mahfoudh
Muhammad Ahmad Abd Quttamsh
Amru Hassan Muhammad ‘Amru
Osama Muhammad Suleyman Sabateen
Najeh Yusuf Muhammad ‘Amru
Mu’mmar Muhammad Khalil Ta’amra
Ouda Ismail Muhammad Za’anouna
‘Asem Mahmoud Abd al-Rahim Salama
Amna Mouna
Bedran Abd al-Qader Ibrahim Badir
Ahmad Hassan Ahmad Shaqura
Amin Sarhi Salama Abu Mandil
Hussam Suleyman Mustafa ‘Arouq
Omar Mustafa Muhammad Omar
Fadi ‘Essam Sha’ban Saleem
Jum’a Qader ‘Atiya Abu Farha
Mundhir Mahmoud Muhammad Abu Zaghreet
Ala’ Rubhi Hussein Saleh
Muhammad ‘Ayed Muhammad Rub’i
Ghada Jasser
Nayef Ahmad Abd al-Fatah Butran
Khawla Zeitawi
Khaled Ramadan Tawfiq Ismail
Sa’di Mahmoud Hassan ‘Ouda
Ahmad Mahmod Muhammad Saleh
Haitham ‘Asmat Reja’i Zahran
Muhammad Ahmad Fraj Asleem
Asma’ Hussein
Samar Subaih
Bara’ Subaih
Fadi Husni ‘Oud Abu ‘Aoun
Abdullah Qa’dan Khidr Sa’ad
Mutleq Saleh Qassem Bani Jaber
Rasheed Muhammad Rasheed ‘Aql
Ahlam Jawhar
‘Isa Ahmad Amin Abu Eid
Murad ‘Ezzat Muhammad Qassem
Haitham Muhammad Ahmad Baradi’iya
Muhammad Ahmad Shehadeh Farhan
Muhannad Abd al-Fatah Mahmoud Hatataba
Suad Ghazal
Ahmad Mustafa Ali ‘Araj
Muhammad Ibrahim Muhammad Abu Jheesha
Ibrahim Mufleh Saleh Abu Jheesha
Muhammad Abd al-Karim Ismail Hameedan
Abdullah Hassan Ahmad Qandil
Muhammad Na’eim Nimr Muhammad
Manal Ghanem
Nor Ghanem
Khayri Nasr Yusuf Wahdan
‘Asem Ahmad Muhammad ‘Isa
Hani Mahmoud Hussein Taneena
Nadeem ‘Aoud Mahmoud Smara
Sa’ad al-Din Muhammad Abd al-Majid Hassoun
Muhammad Ibrahim Ismail Abu Ismail
Sana ‘Amer
Rafet Suleyman Hussein Radaideh
‘Ouni Yusuf Mahmoud Omar
Rasem Suleyman Abu Rayhan
Sameeh ‘Isa Abd al-Haroush
Ismail Hassan Ali Jabour
Jibril Hassan Hassan Jabour
Imad Yunus Suleyman Jabour
Tawfiq Ahmad Za’al Jabour
Arafat Mahmoud Muhammad Abd al-Aziz
Ayman Munir Tawfiq
Sa’eed Wajia Sa’eed Al-Outban
Na’el Saleh Abdullah Barghouti
Fakhri ‘Asfour Abdullah Al-Barghouti
Akram Abdulaziz Sa’eed Mansur
Muhammad Ibrahim Mahmoud Abu Ali
Fu’ad Qassem Aeafat Al-Razem
Ibrahim Fadl Nimr Jaber
Aseel Al-Hindi
Hassan Ali Nimr Salama
Uthman Ali Hamdan Musleh
Sami Khaled Salama Yunus
Karim Yusuf Fadl Yunus
Maher Abd al-Latif Abd al-Qader Yunus
Salim Ali Ibrahim Al-Kayl
Hafedh Nimr Muhammad Qundus
Majd Al-Kokhen
‘Isa Nimr Jibril Abdrabo
Muhammad Abd al-Rahim Sa’eed Mansur
Ahmad Fareed Muhammad Shehadeh
Muhammad Ibrahim Muhammad Nasr
Rafe’ Farhoud Mahmoud Kraja
Talal Yusuf Ahmad Abu Al-Kabash
Ziyad Mahmoud Muhammad Ghneimat
Mustafa ‘Amer Muhammad Ghneimat
Khalid Sa’adi Rashed Abu Shamt
Uthman Abdullah Mahmoud Bani Hussein
Heza’ Mahmoud Heza’ Al-Sa’adi
Bashir Suleyman Ahmad Al-Muqt
‘Asem Mahmoud Ahmad Wali
Seitan Nimr Nimr Wali
Sidqi Suleyman Ahmad Al-Muqt
Hani Badwi Muhammad Sa’eed Jaber
Muhammad Ahmad Abd al-Hamid Al-Tus
Nafidh Ahmad Talib Herz
Fayez Mutawwa’ Hmad Al-Khour
Azi Jum’a Muhammad Al-Nams
Ahmad Abdurrahman Hussein Abu Haseera
Muhammad Misbah Khalil ‘Ashour
Nour Al-Hashalamoun
Walid Nimr As’ad Diqqa
Muhammad Abd al-Hadi Muhammad Al-Husni
Tawfiq Ibrahim Muhammad Abdullah
Mustafa Mahmoud Musa Qar’ushi
Marian Saleh
Rashda Hamdan Muhammad Abu Mikh
Ibrahim Nayef Hamdan Abu Mikh
Ibrahim Abd al-Razeq Ahmad Beyadsa
Ibrahim Mustafa Ahmad Baroud
Ali Badr Ragheb Musulmani
Fawaz Qadhem Rashda Bukhtan
Khalid Ahmad Dawoud Muheisen
‘Asem Saleh Ali Jundal
Wasfa Ahmad Abd al-Qader Mansur
Aladdin Ahmad Reda Al-Baziyan
Ahmad Ali Hussein Abu Jaber
Abd al-Latif Ismail Ibrahim Shaqir
Afu Misbah Nufal Shaqir
Saleh Muhammad Yusuf Al-’Abd
Tareq Dawoud Mustafa Al-Hlees
Abd al-Nasser Dawoud Mustafa Al-Hlees
Ibrahim Hussein Ali ‘Elyan
SamirIbrahim Mahmoud Abu Ni’mah
Hazem Muhammad Sabra ‘Asilia
Hamza Nayef Hassan Zayed
Samer ‘Asem Salem Al-Mahroum
Abdurrahman Fadl Abdurrahman Al-Qeeq
Khaled Muttawa’ Muslim Al-Ja’eedi
Ahlam Al-Tamimi
Aziz Dweik
Maryam Saleh

part of the point of compiling a partial list of the names of palestinian political prisoners is related to the utter lack of media attention palestinian political prisoners get in the international media. last week when the free gaza movement’s boat was captured by zionist terrorist colonists and twenty one internationals were imprisoned, the media story focused on them because the media is not interested in covering the imprisonment of the indigenous fighting to free their land. in response, they produced this video about palestinian political prisoners and the 1.5 million palestinians imprisoned in gaza, the world’s largest open-air prison:

cynthia mckinney was one of those jailed by the zionist terrorist colonists and she wrote “letter from an israeli jail,” the title of which, of course, alludes to martin luther king’s “letter from a birmingham jail,” which reads in part:

But I’ve learned an interesting thing by being inside this prison. First of all, it’s incredibly black: populated mostly by Ethiopians who also had a dream … like my cellmates, one who is pregnant. They are all are in their twenties. They thought they were coming to the Holy Land. They had a dream that their lives would be better … The once proud, never colonized Ethiopia [has been thrown into] the back pocket of the United States, and become a place of torture, rendition, and occupation. Ethiopians must free their country because superpower politics [have] become more important than human rights and self-determination.

My cellmates came to the Holy Land so they could be free from the exigencies of superpower politics. They committed no crime except to have a dream. They came to Israel because they thought that Israel held promise for them. Their journey to Israel through Sudan and Egypt was arduous. I can only imagine what it must have been like for them. And it wasn’t cheap. Many of them represent their family’s best collective efforts for self-fulfilment. They made their way to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees. They got their yellow paper of identification. They got their certificate for police protection. They are refugees from tragedy, and they made it to Israel only after they arrived Israel told them “there is no UN in Israel.”

The police here have license to pick them up & suck them into the black hole of a farce for a justice system. These beautiful, industrious and proud women represent the hopes of entire families. The idea of Israel tricked them and the rest of us. In a widely propagandized slick marketing campaign, Israel represented itself as a place of refuge and safety for the world’s first Jews and Christian. I too believed that marketing and failed to look deeper.

The truth is that Israel lied to the world. Israel lied to the families of these young women. Israel lied to the women themselves who are now trapped in Ramle’s detention facility. And what are we to do? One of my cellmates cried today. She has been here for 6 months. As an American, crying with them is not enough. The policy of the United States must be better, and while we watch President Obama give 12.8 trillion dollars to the financial elite of the United States it ought now be clear that hope, change, and ‘yes we can’ were powerfully presented images of dignity and self-fulfilment, individually and nationally, that besieged people everywhere truly believed in.

It was a slick marketing campaign as slickly put to the world and to the voters of America as was Israel’s marketing to the world. It tricked all of us but, more tragically, these young women.

We must cast an informed vote about better candidates seeking to represent us. I have read and re-read Dr. Martin Luther King Junior’s letter from a Birmingham jail. Never in my wildest dreams would I have ever imagined that I too would one day have to do so. It is clear that taxpayers in Europe and the U.S. have a lot to atone for, for what they’ve done to others around the world.

What an irony! My son begins his law school program without me because I am in prison, in my own way trying to do my best, again, for other people’s children. Forgive me, my son. I guess I’m experiencing the harsh reality which is why people need dreams. [But] I’m lucky. I will leave this place. Has Israel become the place where dreams die?

Ask the people of Palestine. Ask the stream of black and Asian men whom I see being processed at Ramle. Ask the women on my cellblock. [Ask yourself:] what are you willing to do?

part of the context of those prisoners, who were refugees seeking asylum, mckinney writes about in her letter was reported on last week by irin news:

Some 15,000 mainly African asylum-seekers in Israel have put the regulatory, security and welfare response under strain, according to the Interior Ministry and UNHCR.

Israel does not have a refugee law, despite being a signatory to the 1951 refugee Convention.

However, regulations can allow asylum-seekers to work, and grant temporary protection and non-refoulement (a commitment not to force people back to where they came from).

About 200-300 asylum-seekers arrive each month, mainly overland from Egypt, according to the Immigration Authority and NGOs.

The UNHCR local office reports 14,766 asylum-seekers in Israel, while the Refugee Rights Forum (RRF – eight NGOs active in promoting the rights of refugees and asylum-seekers in Israel) suggests a number over 17,000.

The difference may in part be explained by the fact that UNHCR does not count asylum-seekers who are no longer in touch with them, according to William Tall, a UNHCR representative in Israel.

In the run-up to the handover of the RSD process to the Interior Ministry on 2 July, UNHCR has helped train 25 immigration officers who will begin work in July.

what happens with palestinian political prisoners–when internationals and asylum seekers are perhaps far from view–is something mckinney did not witness. in electronic intifada, jonathan cook reported on the most recent reports of the routine torture of palestinians, including youth, inside zionist terrorist colonist jails:

Despite the 1999 court ruling, a coalition of 14 Israeli human rights groups known as United Against Torture concluded in its latest annual report in November that Israeli detention facilities are still using torture systematically. Israeli doctors are also being relied on to treat the resulting injuries.

Last week, Physicians for Human Rights-Israel (PHR-I) and the Public Committee against Torture in Israel (PCATI) published a joint report examining hundreds of arrests in which Palestinians were bound in “distorted and unnatural” ways to inflict “pain and humiliation” amounting to torture.

The report noted instances where prisoners, including a pregnant woman and a dying man, were shackled while doctors carried out emergency procedures in a hospital.

According to the report, the doctors violated the Tokyo Declaration, the key code of medical ethics adopted by the WMA in 1975 that bans the use of cruel, humiliating or inhuman treatment by physicians.

Ishai Menuchin, the head of PCATI, said his group had been lobbying strenuously against Israeli doctors’ complicity in torture since it issued a report, “Ticking Bombs,” in 2007, arguing that torture was routine in Israel.

PCATI highlighted the testimonies of nine Palestinians who had been tortured by interrogators. The report also noted that in most cases Israeli physicians treating detainees “return their patients to additional rounds of torture, and remain silent.”

In June last year, PHR-I drew the IMA’s attention to two cases in which the attending doctor failed to report signs of torture on a Palestinian.

Anat Litvin of PHR-I told the IMA: “We believe that doctors are used by torturers as a safety net — take them out of the system and torture will be much more difficult to enact.”

The groups stepped up their pressure in February, writing to Avinoam Reches, the chairman of the IMA’s ethics committee. They demanded that his association investigate six cases of doctors who failed to report signs of torture.

In one case, a prison doctor, under pressure from interrogators, agreed to retract a written recommendation that a detainee be immediately hospitalized for treatment.

Reches promised to conduct an inquiry. However, last month the two human rights groups criticized him for failing to investigate their claims, accusing him of holding only “amicable and unofficial” conversations over the phone with a few of the doctors concerned.

“We have sent to the IMA many testimonies from victims of torture who were referred to doctors for treatment,” Dr. Menuchin said. “But the IMA has yet to do anything about it.

“A significant number of doctors in Israel, in detention facilities and public hospitals, know torture is taking place, but choose to avert their gaze.”

This month, Defence for Children International-Palestine Section issued a report on the torture of Palestinian children, noting that in several of the cases it cited, Israeli doctors had turned a blind eye. A boy of 14 who was beaten repeatedly on a broken arm reported the abuse to a doctor who, he said, replied only: “I had nothing to do with that.”

The report stated that the group “has not encountered a single case where an adult in a position of authority, such as a soldier, doctor, judicial officer or prison staff, has intervened on behalf of a child who was mistreated.”

Campaigners against Dr. Blachar’s appointment as the head of the WMA say its Israeli sister association’s inaction on torture is unsurprising given its chairman’s public stance.

Derek Summerfield of the Institute of Psychiatry at King’s College London, said: “The IMA under Dr. Blachar is in collusion with the Israeli state policy of torture. Its role is to put a benign face on the occupation.”

Dr. Blachar told the Israeli website Ynet last week that such criticisms were “slanderous,” saying he and the IMA denounced all forms of torture.

The WMA, with nine million members in more than 80 countries, was established in 1947 as a response to the abuses sanctioned by German and Japanese doctors during the Second World War.

In 2007, the WMA’s general assembly called on doctors to document and report all cases of suspected torture.

the defence of children international advocates on behalf of the children who are arrested and tortured every month by zionist terrorist forces. here is a recent video they produced to illustrate their predicament:

dci’s most recent urgent action is for wa’ad arafat mustafa al-hidmy and below is information about how you can take more action on his behalf. he is but one child prisoner, but his situation is indicative of the hundreds of palestinian children languishing in zionist terrorist colonist prisons:

Name Wa’ad Arafat Mustafa al-Hidmy
Age at arrest 16
Occupation Student
Place of residence Surif, Hebron, Hebron, OPT
Date of arrest 28 April 2008
Charge No charge
Place of detention Ofer Prison

UPDATE: July 2009

21 September 2009 Possible release date
21 June 2009 Fifth administrative detention order (3 months)
26 March 2009 Fourth administrative detention order (3 months)
26 November 2008 Third administrative detention order (4 months)
27 August 2008 Second administrative detention order (3 months)
6 May 2008 First administrative detention order (4 months)
28 April 2008 Date of arrest

Background information

Wa’ad was arrested from the family home in the village of Surif, near Hebron in the West Bank, at 3:00am on 28 April 2008. He was asleep at the time and woke to the sound of Israeli soldiers banging on the front door.

The soldiers entered the house and after identifying Wa’ad, tied his hands behind his back with plastic cords and took him out of the house to a waiting jeep where he was blindfolded. Wa’ad was placed on the floor of the jeep and told to ‘shut-up’. During the drive to the settlement of Karmi Zur, soldiers in the back of the jeep placed their legs on Wa’ad’s body. On arrival at the settlement Wa’ad was asked some questions about his health before being transferred to Etzion Interrogation and Detention Centre, near Bethlehem. In an affidavit given to lawyers for DCI-Palestine in June 2009, Wa’ad recalls that: ‘I did not know why they were arresting me. I started to wonder whether I had done something wrong without knowing.’

Two days later, Wa’ad was transferred to Ofer Prison, near Ramallah, where he was interrogated by a policeman in blue uniform. During the interrogation the policeman told Wa’ad that he had been informed by a third person that Wa’ad had participated in a demonstration organised by Islamic Jihad, an organisation banned by the Israeli authorities. Wa’ad could not recall there being any demonstrations organised by Islamic Jihad where he lived during the previous year and that in any event, he had not participated in any of their demonstrations. Wa’ad recalls that the interrogation only lasted around five minutes.

Several days later a prison officer handed Wa’ad a document written in Hebrew and informed him that it was an administrative detention order for six months. Wa’ad recalls feeling depressed because ‘I was expecting to be released because I had not confessed to anything and I had not done anything.’ Two days later Wa’ad’s order was reviewed by the Administrative Detention Court and reduced to four months.

Months passed, and in August, three days before the expiry of the first order, a prison officer again handed Wa’ad a document written in Hebrew and informed him that he had been given a second administrative detention order for four months – ‘I became anxious, but felt helpless. I was expecting to be released after the expiry of the first order but this new order surprised me.’ Several days later the Court reviewed the second order and reduced it to three months.

Wa’ad recalls becoming nervous in the week before the expiry of the second order – ‘I was afraid that the order would be renewed again.’ Two days before the expiry date, Wa’ad was issued with a third administrative detention order for four months, which was confirmed by the Court.

‘I feel a great injustice because of this detention that, according to what I understood from the lawyer and judge, is based on confidential material. I do not know the real reason behind my detention because I cannot remember doing anything that would put the security of the state at risk.’

In March 2009, a few days before the expiry of his third order, Wa’ad was issued with a fourth administrative detention order, for four months, which was later reduced to three months by the Court – ‘I did not know what to do in such a situation. I became unstable and unsure when I would be released. Such a situation is driving me crazy.’

On 14 June 2009, nearly 14 months after his arrest, Wa’ad was visited for the first time by his parents. Up until this time, they had been denied a permit on unspecified security grounds, and only his younger siblings had been allowed to visit him. During the 40 minute visit, Wa’ad recalls telling his parents that he was ‘certain’ to be released on 25 June. However, on 21 June 2009, Wa’ad was issued with a fifth administrative detention order for three months – ‘now I am extremely depressed and do not know what to do.’

Wa’ad was imprisoned once before in September 2005 for throwing stones and Molotov cocktails and has a 20 year-old brother who is also being held in administrative detention in the Negev, inside Israel.

Wa’ad will lodge an appeal against the issue of his fifth administrative detention order.

Administrative detention

Administrative detention is detention without charge or trial and is often based on “secret evidence.” Israeli Military Order 1591 empowers military commanders to detain Palestinians, including children as young as 12, for up to six months if they have “reasonable grounds to presume that the security of the area or public security require the detention.” The initial six month period can be extended by additional six-month periods indefinitely. This procedure denies the detainee the right to a fair trial and the ability to adequately challenge the basis of his or her detention.

There are currently at least 449 Palestinians being held by Israel without charge or trial in administrative detention, of which six were under 18 when they received their order. For more information visit the DCI-Palestine website at Freedom Now.

Recommended action

The detention of a child in these circumstances does not conform to Israel’s obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child or the UN Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. Please send Urgent Appeals to the Israeli authorities urging them to:

* Immediately cease the practice of holding persons under the age of 18 in administrative detention; and
* Immediately and unconditionally release Wa’ad from administrative detention, or charge him with a recognisable criminal offence and promptly try him in a proper court of law with internationally accepted standards for a fair trial. Any further action should take into consideration the fact that Wa’ad has now been detained without charge since April 2008.

Appeals to:

Prime Minister,
Office of the Prime Minister,
3 Kaplan Street, PO Box 187, Kiryat Ben-Gurion, Jerusalem, 91919, Israel,
Fax: +972- 2-651 2631,
Email: rohm[at]pmo.gov.il, pm_eng[at]pmo.gov.il
Salutation: Dear Prime Minister

Ehud Barak
Minister of Defence, Ministry of Defence,
37 Kaplan Street, Hakirya, Tel Aviv 61909, Israel
Fax: +972 3 691 6940
Email: minister[at]mod.gov.il
Salutation: Dear Minister

Minister of Justice, Fax: + 972 2 628 7757; + 972 2 628 8618

Attorney General, Fax: + 972 2 627 4481; + 972 2 628 5438; +972 2 530 3367

there are prisons within prisons within prisons in palestine because of the zionist terrorist colonists occupying palestinian land. and for those occupying palestine even a five-month-old baby is a threat who cannot be released from the prison that is gaza as was the case last week:

Israeli forces at the Erez crossing stopped a 5-month old baby from crossing into Israel. His mother and five-year old sister both had a permission to leave the Strip, so the 5-year old girl could receive medical treatment in Israel.

As Israeli troops refused the infant to enter Israel, the mother and both her children were forced to turn back home without receiving medical treatment and might be unable to receive another permission to enter Israel.The five-year old girl needed medical help in Israel, as doctors in Gaza were unable to diagnose why the girl has been suffering from chronic fevers.The mother decided to take her baby with her, because she didn’t know how long the treatment would take, assuming that a five-month old infant didn’t constitute any threat for the state of Israel.The permits the mother and her daughter received were only valid on Tuesday and they had a hospital appointment for Tuesday afternoon in the Al-Maqased hospital in Jerusalem.

palestinians in gaza are particularly trapped as are people like natalie abou shakra who has been trying to return home to lebanon, but has been having to confront the egyptian regime who is keeping her trapped inside the prison that is gaza. and for those palestinians from gaza who manage to leave and try to return, mohammed omer’s story is an example of what they will face upon trying to return home:

June 26, 2008 is a day I will never forget. For the events of that day irrevocably changed my life. That day I was detained, interrogated, strip searched, and tortured while attempting to return home from a European speaking tour, which culminated in independent American journalist Dahr Jamil and I sharing the Martha Gellhorn Journalism Prize in London — an award given to journalists who expose propaganda which often masks egregious human rights abuses.

I want to address the denials from Israel and the inaccurate reporting by a few journalists in addition to requesting state of Israel to acknowledge what it did to me, prosecute the members of the Shin Bet responsible for it and put in place procedures that protect other journalists from such treatment.

Since 2003, I’ve been the voice to the voiceless in the besieged Gaza Strip for a number of publications and news programs ranging from The Washington Report on Middle East Affairs to the BBC and, Morgenbladet in Norway as well as Democracy Now! These stories exposed a carefully-crafted fiction continuing control and exploitation of five-million people. Their impact, coupled with the reporting of others served to change public opinion in the United States and Europe concerning the dynamics of Israel and its occupation of Palestine.

After receiving the Martha Gellhorn prize I returned home through the Allenby Bridge Crossing in the Occupied West Bank between Jordan and Israel. It was here I was detained, interrogated, and tortured for several hours by Shin Bet and border officers. When it appeared I may be close to death an ambulance was called to transport me to a hospital. From that day my life has been a year of continued medical treatments, pain — and a search for justice.

Lisa Dvir from the Israeli Airport Authority (IAA), the agency responsible for controlling Israel’s borders in an June 29th article by Mel Frykberg for the Inter Press Service stated, “the IAA was neither aware of Omer’s journalist credentials nor of his coordination.”

The statement is wholly inaccurate and impossible on two counts. First, because I’m Palestinian, I am unable to enter Israel or leave Gaza, even through the Rafah border with Egypt, without Israeli permission, something quite difficult to get. Each time I’ve left Gaza for speaking tours required substantial lobbying and political maneuvering by several governments. In 2006, it was the American governments who ultimately won my visa. In 2007 the Dutch Parliament invited me back to speak to the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and in 2008 when it was announced I won the Martha Gellhorn Prize, several European countries requested Israel grant me a visa but it was MP Hans Van Baalen of the Netherlands who, with great efforts, secured and guaranteed my passage out of Gaza and Israel, as well as the return for both the 2007 and 2008 trips on the condition I travel and be escorted by members of the Dutch Embassy in Tel Aviv while within Israel or the occupied West Bank. Therefore I was under diplomatic escort with the full knowledge of the Israeli government when I arrived at Allenby on June 26th. In fact Israeli security had blocked my re-entry for four days, causing me to miss a family wedding and wait in Jordan.

Secondly Dvir’s claim that the IAA didn’t know I was a journalist is proved false by the actions of the Shin Bet and border police. During the interrogation an Israeli security personnel searching my belongings repeatedly asked ‘Where’s the money from the prize, Mohammed?’ The prize is only given to journalists. Not only were they fully aware I am a journalist. They knew exactly how much I received, for what and where.

Dvir further perjured herself when she claimed, “We would like to know who Omer spoke to in regard to receiving coordination to pass through Allenby. We offer journalists a special service when passing through our border crossings, and had we known about his arrival this would not have happened.” Her denial shocked a Dutch diplomat in Tel Aviv who had confirmed with the state permission for me to cross on June 26. Again, I was traveling under diplomatic escort and when I asked to phone the escort — waiting on the other side of the terminal — Shin Bet’s response was they knew and didn’t care.

While not admitting that the interrogation and torture took place, Divr then dismissed any actions by the Shin Bet as out of her department’s control: “I’m not aware of the events that followed his detention, and we are not responsible for the behavior of the Shin Bet.” But the Israeli Airport Authority, Divr’s department, like most port authorities, is responsible for border security and those who enforce that security in Israel are members of the army and the Shin Bet.

Unfortunately Dvir’s diversions were just the beginning. In the days following my detention and torture, the Israeli Government Press Office acknowledged that despite traveling under diplomatic escort I was searched “due to suspicion that he had been in contact with hostile elements and had been asked by them to deliver items to Judea and Samaria (Occupied West Bank).” This has been mentioned and quoted in different papers. Like everyone else entering, my bags were x-rayed and cleared multiple times excluding the possibility I was carrying some type of contraband. And I was traveling in the Dutch Embassy’s car directly to Erez crossing with Gaza , as communicated to the Israeli authorities. There was zero possibility of me delivering ‘items’ to anyone.

Confronted with the medical reports and injuries including bruised ribs Israeli officials told the BBC on July 1, 2008 that, “He lost balance and fell, for reasons unknown to us,” other officers suggest, “Mr. Omer had a nervous breakdown due to the high temperature.”

Despite the attempts at denials, the emergency medical technician who sat in the back of the ambulance with me reported, “We noted fingerprints on his neck and chest,” the type bruising caused by excessive force often used in forensics to identify an attacker.

When Associated Press reporter Karin Laub called me on my cell phone for an interview after my ordeal, I detailed how I was stripped and held at gunpoint. Her reply? “Go on,” she stated. “This is normal about what we hear happening at Ben Gurion Airport. It’s nothing new.”

Torture, strip searches and holding award winning journalists or any other human beings at gun point is normal at Israel ’s largest airport? Ms. Laub’s apathy continued. In her article for the Associated Press on June 29th she wrote that she interviewed “Dr. Husseini who claims there were no signs of physical trauma.”

There’s only one problem with this. This Dr. Husseini never treated me. The Minister of Health in Ramallah confirmed that Husseini never made any such statement to the AP reporter. For reasons known only to her, Ms. Laub appears to have fabricated this comment and purposely ignored the medical reports and the statements by the attending paramedics — counter to journalistic ethics and standards upheld by the Associated Press. Despite this, no independent investigation took place.

Meanwhile the Jerusalem correspondent for the Los Angles Times, Ashraf Khalil, conducted an investigation into my case and noted in his article on November 3, 2008, that my medical records describe: “Tenderness on the anterior part of the neck and upper back mainly along the right ribs moderate to severe pain,” and “by examination the scrotum due to pain varicocele (varicose veins in the spermatic cord) at left side detected and surgery was decided later.” Fevers and falls do not cause such distinctive marks. Kicks, punches and beatings do. Continuing Khalil explains that, “Paramedic Mahmoud Tararya arrived in a Palestinian Red Crescent Society ambulance and said he found Omer semiconscious with bruises on his neck and chest. Tararya said Israeli security officers were asking Omer to sign “some sort of form written in Hebrew. The paramedic said he intervened, separated Omer from the soldiers and loaded him into the ambulance, where he remained semiconscious for most of the trip to a hospital.”

Khalil notes in his article that Richard Falk, the U.N. human rights official wrote to Verhagen, the Minster of Foreign Affairs of The Netherlands and stated: “I have checked out Mr. Omer’s credibility and narrative of events, and I find them fully credible and accurate.”

Recovering mentally and physically from torture and interrogation is far from easy. This should not happen to anyone. My objective is for my case to focus attention on universal human rights, the right of freedom of expression and freedom of movement. There are places in this world where these freedoms do not exist. Israel insists it is not one of those places, but both the government and the complicity of individual journalists in covering up what they did to me prove otherwise. Ironically, the day the Shin Bet chose to detain, interrogate and torture me — June 26 — is the date set aside by human rights groups as the International Day Against Torture.

the situation with gaza, while different from the west bank, 1948 palestine, and palestinian refugees outside of the region can be solved–indeed all of the above problems can be solved with the same solution: the right of return for palestinian refugees. when palestinian refugees are granted the right of return there will be no more problems with the zionst terrorist colonists putting palestinians in prison. there will be no more problems with them controlling the borders and torturing palestinians. this is what palestinians want and this boycott, divestment, and sanctions (bds) is one of the main methods they are using to seek this desired and long overlooked right. in the last month or two i’ve been trying to seek new signatures for the u.s. campaign for the academic and cultural boycott of israel. i had an email conversation with norman finkelstein, whose academic work i admire so much and whose work has been fundamental my own research project. he told me that he speaks about bds when he gives talks, but that he thinks ending the siege of gaza is more urgent. while i agree that the situation in gaza is urgent, i also think that the underlying core issue is the right of return given that the majority of the population in gaza are refugees for starters. ending the siege of gaza is necessary, but it is only a small part of the solving the problem. the larger issue is liberating palestinian land and fighting for the right of all palestinians to return to their homes and land. period. he asked me if i would help organize a protest in the west bank in coordination with his new year’s convergence on gaza and i told him that i would share the information, but that the people i know would rather energy be spent on bds and and right of return. and then i saw the new facebook group for the march and changed my mind. below is the image associated with the group:

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i do not know if norman helped to create this image or agreed to it. but this image is highly offensive to me. to me this image says that this march is about norman and not about the people of gaza who are featured only as silhouettes in the background below the white man who is the only subject featured prominently in this image. it reminded me of his talk in shatila refugee camp in lebanon a couple of years ago when he said, one the one hand, that it is up to palestinians to decide their own fate, but on the other hand that they should agree to a two-state solution and give up the right of return to their original homes and land. the people in the camp were incredibly irate as you might imagine. it seems that when norman was in gaza a couple of months ago at least some people had a similar reaction to his discourse as an activist, though not as a scholar. natalie abou shakra has two posts about this in relation to the march as well. the first one is entitled “the white man teaches the native”:

SO, did I not tell you about Mr. Finkelstein’s discovery of civil resistance and suddenly teaching the Palestinians… “how to fight”?
Off the record, Mr. Finkelstein: the first twenty years of the Palestinian struggle was a civil, non-violent resistance. After 1967, Palestinian civil resistance went hand in hand with armed struggle…
What a disappointment:

and here is her second post entitled “tarzan in africa”:

So, Norman Finkelstein visited the Gaza Strip around a month ago with the Code Pink delegation that came in via the Rafeh Crossing.

Norman Finkelstein in “my” opinion is an excellent researcher, his books on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict are widely read…
But, when Norman Finkelstein visited Gaza, “I” [and many other Palestinian intellectuals and political analysts] were… dissapointed.

Norman Finkelstein spoke to Hamas officials in Gaza, and told them “what they have to do,” to… “turn down the rhetoric,” and accept the two-prison- oops- I mean the “two-state” solution.

Norman Finkelstein decided to call for a breaking of the siege by US citizens coming into Gaza marching to the Beit Hanoun Crossing [known as Erez Crossing on the Israeli side]. So, Norman Finkelstein comes to Gaza for… four days and he: takes on the leadership of the Palestinian civil resistance.

Now… don’t get me wrong. “We” welcome any initiative to break this medieval, hermetic siege on Gaza. I mean, if Norman Finkelstein is capable of organizing a march that can manage the oppressive, totalitarian, dictatorial Egyptian regime, open the Rafeh Crossing, break the Apartheid wall, then go to “Erez” to break the siege- we support him!

However, the siege is part of a political umbrella.

The BDS movement shows nowhere on the radar of Norman Finkelstein.

Norman Finkelstein did not show any support for the inalienable right of return for the six million refugees, the core of the… “conflict.”

Norman Finkelstein did not admit to the fact that the two-prison solution is a… racist solution, a 19th century idea which does NOT support the INALIENABLE right of return.

Norman Finkelstein: Israel is an occupation; it is the longest occupation the 20th century has witnessed, of the WB and GS, it is a colonization, and is an Apartheid; against the 1948 indigenous population, not to mention its Bantustanization of the GS and WB.
In the last genocidal war against the Palestinians, more than 93% of the Israeli citizens supported war crimes in Gaza. “Israel now looks very much like Germany in the 1930s” says Gideon Levy from Ha’aretz.

“I” mean: who supported a two state solution in Apartheid South Africa? A state for the Black and a state for the… White?
Norman Finkelstein must choose a side: with oppression or against oppression.

Uri Avnery, Peace Now, patronizingly will reply back saying he accepts the return of only… 20,000 refugees. He is anti-BDS and anti-ROR [right of return]. He is… a “leftist” Zionist… from when does the “left” accept a … religious state? [or state to begin with]. He is like the “master” who decides. “I” mean… am “I” stupid? How can a democratic state exist when it has a… religious identity?! I must be really stupid here Uri, I mean… for me not to understand your “democracy.”

Israel must transfer to a secular, democratic state a la South Africa.

Meaning: a state for ALL of its citizens disregarding gender, race or religion.

I mean… I am really dissapointed with Norman Finkelstein’s visit to Gaza.

As soon as PACBI was founded in 2004, the Knesset formed a committee which included Ehud Barak, Tzipi Livni and Benjamin Netanyahu, with Uri Avnery behind the curtains, to counteract it.

The worst thing to hear right now is…”let the Palestinians decide what their fate will be.” Really? Was that the case with South Afica? The BDS and One Democratic state are UNIVERSALISTIC in their slogans: social justice, secularism, democracy…

In South Africa, no one said okay for Bantustans!

When Norman Finkelstein came forward after an ISM Gaza talk in the Commodore Hotel in the port area in Gaza, he said “gather up students from the US group, and let them get on the borders with cameras- let’s see if their [Israeli soldiers] are going to shoot when America is watching!”

Norman… you completely neglect the Palestinian civil resistance that existed since… 1936. Yes, I assure you. We, Arabs did have that going on. But, will the White man ever challenge his standards of “us”?

If Norman Finkelstein flirts with Zionism… then?

here is one of the many examples of why the situation in gaza needs to be dealt with in a way that recognizes the issue of the right of return that would help all palestinians in the long-term. abd al-rahman talakeh was arrested for “infiltrating” his own land, though he was born as a refugee in gaza. this news item illustrates the way in which prisoners, gaza, and the right of return is all connected and why the right of return is the only solution to all of the above problems:

A Palestinian from Gaza was indicted in an Israeli court on “terrorism” and “infiltration” charges Sunday, according to the country’s Prime Minister’s Office.

In a statement to Ma’an, Israel claimed that the Palestinian refugee, Abd Al-Rahman Talalkeh, was arrested in the Negev desert on 1 June after having left Gaza and entered Israel via the Sinai Peninsula.

He was indicted at a Beersheba court in the Negev, which was both the target of the alleged “infiltration” as well as the prior residence of 16,000 refugees who pre-Israel Zionist militants expelled to the An-Nuseirat camp in Gaza, where Talkalkeh was born in 1984.

Israel alleged that the young Palestinian said he received military training by the Popular Resistance Committees in Gaza, intended to establish “a terrorism infrastructure inside Israel,” and was well-versed on the use of a variety of weapons.

The Popular Resistance Committees did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

but the issue with norman finkelstein reminds me of why it is important to listen to those you work with so that you are not imposing your will on them, so that you are working in solidarity to help people realize their goals and rights and dreams. naomi klein, who has been speaking out on bds recently, including when she was just here also shows the limits of even those supporting boycott. although i also love her writing, i was quite disturbed when i saw her talking in bil’in and when she somehow managed to rationalize the fact that she was wearing shoes made in the zionist terrorist colonist regime. i mean, does one really need shoes that are identical to birkenstocks? is that really so hard to boycott? here she is rationalizing away:

unlike klein i think that boycott must be across the board. no exceptions. right of return. no exceptions. i wish that these white folks who are famous, who have a wider audience would get behind these two fundamentally important aspects of palestinian resistance. they have the power to influence so many people and i think that listening to refugees and to the larger civil society in palestine is the only way to act as foreigners, as white people who want to see rights realized in palestine. is that really too much to ask?

zionist narratives of palestinian land

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navigating palestine can be a difficult task given that the land has been so judaized so that villages are covered up with forests and colonies and the names altered so as to cover up the crimes committed by zionists over the years. one of the people who has eased this process is salman abu sitta whose book the return journey: a guide to the depopulated and present palestinian towns and villages and holy sites is an indispensable tool. this book, which has all the necessary place names in hebrew, arabic, and english maps palestinian villages onto a zionist colonist map to aid people in finding the remnants of palestinian villages as well as navigating zionist roads. this book, along with walid khalidi’s all that remains and the palestine remembered website, enable one to uncover these villages that one day palestinian refugees will return to. since i’ve spent the better part of this week driving around 1948 palestine mapping palestinian villages for a project i’m involved with i thought i’d share some of the more egregious things i’ve seen.

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the map pictured at the top of this post is a page taken from the return journey. it is the page for my friend’s mother’s village, المغار or al maghar, which proved quite difficult to find nonetheless because of the colony of beyt el’azari on its land. there are a number of colonies in the area, or settlements, which even the zionist terrorist colonists call them inside 1948 palestine as this photograph below shows. this colony was also on the land or next to the land of al maghar as well as the village of qatra, which is next to al maghar. sometimes the zionist terrorist colonists make names that sound similar, which makes it a bit easier to find. but once you find the area the next task is to find remnants of palestinian life that the zionist terrorist colonists have covered up.

gederot settlement on the land of qatra
gederot settlement on the land of qatra

in this area in the ramla district of palestine there were a number of ways that palestinian life was covered up. for one thing, the orange groves that my friend’s mom always talks about were hidden from the road and locked up with a gate by zionists who seem to feel ashamed or fearful of having stolen these orange groves. thus the street is lined with trees they planted to make it more difficult to find them.

hidden orange groves in qatra
hidden orange groves in qatra

likewise there are checkpoints within these colonies, often gated, often with guards, to keep non colonists out. and oftentimes one can find a prison or army base inside as in these photographs here. sound familiar? is this any different than on the other side of the so-called “green line”? these are colonies too. or “settlements” as the zionist terrorist colonists call them and yet i don’t hear anyone talking about freezing these. nor do i hear them talking about removing any of these colonies. and yet for me they remain the major stumbling block as maintaining these settlements or colonies prevents the palestinian refugees from returning to their villages and their land.

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one reason that these settlement colonies erase palestinian history is so that they can re-write it in a way that specifically asserts their own presence in palestine, which manipulates and perverts the historical record. the picture below is a perfect example of this. it is posted on the sea wall in yaffa and it says:

The fortified walls around Jaffa have been known since the Byzantine, Crusader, and Ottoman periods.

The part of the North-Western fortifications which were revealed here, protected the city from naval invasion by foreign armies and pirates.

This section of the wall is part of the sea wall formation revealed by the Israeli Antiquities Authority, in the Jaffa port and to its North.

The North-Western sea-wall came out of use during the 19th century.

notice that the words palestine or palestinians are never mentioned in the text even though this is the population and place discussed in it. by omission and by asserting that one of the zionist colonist agencies is responsible for “revealing” the wall, they are implying that this is their wall.

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sometimes when one is driving in 1948 palestine one is lucky and can see the old palestinian homes from the road as with the village of عجّور or ajjur. there is a colony on their land that is gated, and the big house in the photograph below is inhabited by zionist terrorist colonists, but one can see what remains of this village clearly from a main road.

ajjur village
ajjur village

in اللد or lydd, which is a city in which some palestinians still live–both those who are from lydd and internal refugees from other cities like yaffa who are not allowed to return to their homes, and where zionist terrorist colonists also live on palestinian land, one can see a prominent poster supporting the zionist terrorism of meir kahane’s kach movement (also known as the jewish defense league in the united states), which even the united states designates as a terrorist organization. one usually sees his poster around places like khalil, but he’s apparently popular in lydd, too.

pro-kach sign in lydd, palestine
pro-kach sign in lydd, palestine

in دير آبان or deir aban i found a zionist terrorist colonist’s restaurant on the land of the palestinian village with a ton of palestinian homes on the hill just above his establishment. i find it rather amazing that one can live among this living testimony to the fact that their presence here is only because of the ethnic cleansing that took place and continues to take place. there is no escaping it in villages like deir aban.

zionist colonist terrorist restaurant on the land of deir aban
zionist colonist terrorist restaurant on the land of deir aban

one of the most horrifying features of the ethnic cleansing of palestine is the jewish national fund’s park system that conceals palestinian villages. in the jerusalem area there is the begin national forest that covers up the villages of القبو or el qabu and رأس أبو عمار or ras abu ammar. and then there is the american independence park. this enormous park covers up the villages of خربة اللوز or khirbat el loz, صطاف or sataf, دير الشيخ or deir al sheikh, دير الهوا or deir al hawa, بيت عطاب or beit itab, and سفلى or sufla. there are a number of signs around the park showing who funded it–zionists like brandon and lily tartikoff–and others whose names i did not recognize. i posted one such sign below at the information center we stumbled upon today. that center had a ton of brochures and maps for the various parks. the one for the american independence park is so bold as to mark on it the villages of safla, deir al sheikh, beit itab, and safla. there is large hebrew version at the information center (see below) and a legend of items of note that correspond to it. in the numbers that correspond to palestinian destroyed villages they even mark them as such (see close up in hebrew of deir al sheikh below). here is what the brochure we found in english says:

American Independence Park stretches over some 30,000 dunums on the northwestern slopes of the Judean Mountains, along the road arteries forged by KKL-JNF from Mehasiya junction near Beit Shemesh to Bar Giora junction and from Bar Giora, Tzur Hadassah and the HaEla Valley. Mount Ya’ale ridge, Nahal Sorek nature preserve and the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv railway line are north of the park and the Sansan ridge to the south.

American Independence Park was made possible through the generosity of partners and friends of KKL-JNF in the United States. KKL-JNF began developing the park with the help of friends of JNF of America in 1976, to coincide with the bicentennial of American Independence and to mark the friendship between the two freedom-loving countries. The park was developed in an area planted with trees in the 1950s by new immigrant residents of the area and adjoining Beit Shemesh who arrived int he country with the establishment of the State of Israel.

certainly i don’t dispute the relations between the u.s. and the zionist entity, but what they have in common is not freedom, but colonialism. i would love to see what american indians think of such a name and the notion of “american independence” in this context in particular.

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the palestinian village deir al sheikh as "historic site"
brought to you, in part, by...
brought to you, in part, by...

ilan pappe has an excellent chapter on the jewish national fund (jnf) parks in his book the ethnic cleansing of palestine entitled “the memoricide of the nakba. he says:

JNF parks do not only offer parking spaces, picnic areas, playgrounds and access to nature, but also incorporate visible items that tell a particular history: the ruins of a house, a fortress, orchards, cactuses (sabra), and so on. There are also many fig and almond trees. Most Israelis think these are “wild” figs or “wild” almonds, as they see them in full bloom, towards the end of winter, heralding the beauty of spring. But these fruit trees were planted and nurtured by human hands. Wherever almond and fig trees, or olive groves or clusters of cactuses are found, there once stood a Palestinian village: still blossoming afresh each year, these trees are all that remain. Near the now-uncultivated terraces, and under the picnic tables, and the European pine forests, there lie buried the houses and fields of the Palestinians whom Israeli troops expelled in 1948. However, guided only by these JNF signs, visitors will never realise that people used to live there–the Palestinians who now reside as refugees in the Occupied Territories, as second-rate citizens inside Israel, and as camp dwellers beyond Palestine’s border.

The true mission of the JNF, in other words, has been to conceal these visible remnants of Palestine not only by the trees it has planted over them, but also by the narratives it has created to deny their existence. Whether on the JNF website or in the parks themselves, the most sophisticated audio-visual equipment displays the official Zionist story, contextualizing any given location within the national meta-narrative of the Jewish people and Eretz Israel. This version continues to spout the familiar myths of the narrative–Palestine as an “empty” and “arid” land before the arrival of Zionism–that Zionism employs to supplant all history that contradicts its own invented Jewish past.

As Israel’s given “green lungs,” these recreational sites do not so much commemorate history as seek to totally erase it. Through the literature the JNF attaches to the items that are still visible from before 1948 a local history is intentionally denied. This is not part of a need to tell a different story in its own right, but is designed to annihilate all memory of the Palestinian villages that these “green lungs” have replaced. (228-229)

the jnf website that pappe refers to is particularly appalling. on first glance one might think that this is a site dedicated to ecology, the environment, and conservation if one did not understand the historical irony that led to the creation of these forests (and if you are a jew living in the west you likely have contributed to the creation of these forests every time someone planted a tree in your name). ironically pappe shows just how these forests run counter to any notion of environmental conservation:

The three aims of keeping the country Jewish, European-looking, and Green quickly fused into one. This is why forests throughout Israel today include only eleven per cent of indigenous species and why a mere ten per cent of all forests date from before 1948. At times, the original flora manages to return in surprising ways. Pine trees were planted not only over bulldozed houses, but also over fields and olive groves. In the new development town of Migdal Ha-Emek, for example, the JNF did its utmost to try and cover the ruins of the Palestinian village of Mujaydil, at the town’s eastern entrance, with rows of pine trees, not a proper forest in this case but just a small wood. Such “green lungs” can be found in many of Israel’s development towns that cover destroyed Palestinian villages (Tirat Hacarmel over Tirat Haifa, Qiryat Shemona over Khalsa, Ashkelon over Majdal, etc.). But this particular species failed to adapt to the local soil and, despite repeated treatment, disease kept afflicting the trees. Later visits by relatives of some of Mujaydial’s original villagers, revealed that some of the pine trees had literally split in two and how, in the middle of their broken trunks, olive trees had popped up in defiance of the alien flora planted over them fifty-six years ago. (227-228)

with respect to the parks in the areas of the district of al quds that i was visiting today, the jnf forests and their zionist narratives are explained by pappe as follows:

The JNF website here promises its visitors unique sites and special experiences in a forest whose historical remnants “testify to intensive agricultural activity.” More specifically, it highlights the various terraces one finds carved out along the western slopes: as in all other sites, these terraces are always “ancient”–even when they were shaped by Palestinian villagers less than two or three generations ago.

The last geographical site is the destroyed Palestinian village of Sataf, located in one of the most beautiful spots high up in the Jerusalem Mountains. The site’s greatest attraction, according to the JNF website, is the reconstruction it offers of “ancient” (kadum in Hebrew) agriculture–the adjective “ancient” is used for every single detail in this site: paths are “ancient,” steps are “ancient,” and so on. Sataf, in fact, was a Palestinian village expelled and mostly destroyed in 1948. For the JNF, the remains of the village are one more station visitors encounter on the intriguing walking tours it has set out for them within this “ancient site.” The mixture here of Palestinian terraces and the remains of four or five Palestinian buildings almost fully intact inspired the JNF to create a new concept, the “bustanof” (“bustan” plus “nof,” the Hebrew word for panorama, the English equivalent for which would probably be something like “bustaorama” or “orchard view”). The concept is wholly original to the JNF.

The bustans overlook some exquisite scenery and are popular with Jerusalem’s young professional class who come here to experience “ancient” and “biblical” ways of cultivating a plot of land that may even yield some “biblical” fruits and vegetables. Needless to say, these ancient ways are far from “biblical” but are Palestinian, as are the plots and the bustans and the place itself.

In Sataf the JNF promises the more adventurous visitors a “Secret Garden” and an “Elusive Spring,” two gems they can discover among terraces that are a “testimony to human habitation 6,000 years ago culminating in the period of the Second Temple.” This is not exactly how these terraces were described in 1949 when Jewish immigrants from Arab countries were sent to repopulate the Palestinian village and take over the houses that had remained standing. Only when these new settlers proved unmanageable did the JNF decide to turn the village into a tourist site.

At the time, in 1949, Israel’s naming committee searched for a biblical association for the place, but failed to find any connection to Jewish sources. They then hit upon the idea of associating the vineyard that surrounded the village with the vineyards mentioned int he biblical Psalms and Song of Songs. For a while they even invented a name for the place to suit their fancy, “Bikura”–the early fruit of the summer–but gave it up again as Israelis had already got used to the name Sataf.

The JNF website narrative and the information offered on the various boards set up at the locations themselves is also widely available elsewhere. There has always been a thriving literature in Israel catering for domestic tourism where ecological awareness, Zionist ideology and erasure of the past often go hand in hand. The encyclopedias, tourist guides and albums generated for the purpose appear even more popular and are in greater demand today than ever before. In this way, the JNF “ecologises” the crimes of 1948 in order for Israel to tell one narrative and erase another. As Walid Khalidi has put in his forceful style: “It is a platitude of historiography that the victors in war get away with both the loot and the version of events.”

Despite the deliberate airbrushing of history, the fate of the villages that lie buried under the recreational parks in Israel is intimately linked to the future of the Palestinian families who once lived there and who now, almost sixty years later, still reside in refugee camps and faraway diasporic communities. The solution of the Palestinian refugee problem remains the key to any just and lasting settlement of the conflict in Palestine: for closet to sixty years now the Palestinians have remained steadfast as a nation in their demand to have their legal rights acknowledged, above all their Right of Return, originally granted to them by the United Nations in 1948. They continue to confront an official Israeli policy of denial and anti-repatriation that seems only to have hardened over the same period. (232-234)

below are images of the village of sataf that i took today. anyone who knows anything about palestinian architecture knows that these stairs and homes are palestinian.

sataf, palestine
sataf, palestine

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the final village we went to tonight was al walaja or الولجة . i have seen part of this village before as a checkpoint on my way home cuts the village into two as will the apartheid wall when it is completed. whenever i take this road home i see all of the old palestinian homes with zionist terrorist colonists picnicking and wading in the well, but palestinians from this village, of course, cannot do the same. they are refugees and not allowed on their land–even the side that is on the “west bank” side of the checkpoint. we were looking for another part of walaja today and perhaps we found it. we drove up a dirt road, which is usually the first indication that you’re heading towards a palestinian village. up the road we found a parking lot, which was rather crowded for dusk. we soon discovered that zionist terrorist colonists were celebrating a wedding on the ruins and blood of the villagers of walaja.

but this was par for the course. what we saw as we walked up the path was an entire recreated “roman village” on the ruins of a palestinian village. much as pappe explains above, this village tries to root zionists in this land by somehow connecting themselves to the romans and thus creating some bogus narrative of continuity. they had a section on agriculture, pottery, mosaics, baking bread, and it is all set up like those colonial villages we have in the united states to narrate away the ethnic cleansing and genocide american colonists did to the american indians. same story, same narrative, same methods of concealment. below you’ll see photographs of signs, fake donkeys and shepherds showing the methods of irrigation or farming, and “roman” agricultural tools on display. just when you think they cannot sink to new lows they invent new ways of erasing the past and trampling on palestinian history, rights, and people.

"roman site" on the palestinian village of walaja

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fake donkey with shepherd
fake donkey with shepherd

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archaeological dig site in the palestinian village of walaja
archaeological dig site in the palestinian village of walaja

destroying the indigenous at home and abroad

there is a new petition to sign for leonard peltier one of the oldest american indian political prisoners in the united states. here is the text of the petition as well as the link to sign it:

Convicted in connection with the deaths on June 26, 1975, of Ronald Williams and Jack Coler, agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Mr. Leonard Peltier remains imprisoned at the United States Penitentiary in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, despite proof that he was convicted on the basis of fabricated and suppressed evidence, as well as coerced testimony. In fact, the court record clearly shows that government prosecutors have long held that they do not know who killed Mr. Coler and Mr. Williams and, according to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals: “Much of the government’s behavior at the Pine Ridge Reservation and its prosecution of Mr. Peltier is to be condemned. The government withheld evidence. It intimidated witnesses. These facts are not disputed.” In spite of these facts, Mr. Peltier has served more than 30 years in prison.

After careful consideration of the facts in Mr. Peltier’s case, we have concluded that Leonard Peltier does not represent a risk to the public. First, Mr. Peltier has no prior convictions and has advocated for non-violence throughout his prison term. Furthermore, Mr. Peltier has been a model prisoner. He has received excellent evaluations from his work supervisors on a regular basis. He continues to mentor young Native prisoners, encouraging them to lead clean and sober lives. He has used his time productively, disciplining himself to be a talented painter and an expressive writer. Although Mr. Peltier maintains that he did not kill the agents, he has openly expressed remorse and sadness over their deaths.

Most admirably, Mr. Peltier contributes regular support to those in need. He donates his paintings to charities including battered women’s shelters, half way houses, alcohol and drug treatment programs, and Native American scholarship funds. He also coordinates an annual gift drive for the children of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation — a successful program that, in 2006, expanded to include other reservations throughout the country.

Leonard Peltier is widely recognized in the human rights community for his good deeds and in turn has won several human rights awards including the North Star Frederick Douglas Award; Federation of Labour (Ontario, Canada) Humanist of the Year Award; Human Rights Commission of Spain International Human Rights Prize; and 2004 Silver Arrow Award for Lifetime Achievement. Mr. Peltier also has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize six times.

Mr. Peltier is now over 60 years of age — a great-grandfather — and suffers from partial blindness, diabetes, a heart condition, and high blood pressure.

Rather than presenting a threat to the public, Mr. Peltier’s release would help to heal a wound that has long impeded better relations between the federal government and American Indians.

Mr. Peltier deserves to be reunited with his family and allowed to live the remaining years of his life in peace.

We, the undersigned, support justice and human rights for all people of all nations; recognize that the U.S. courts, by their decisions, have recognized the undisputed misconduct in Peltier’s case, yet have failed to take corrective action; determine the U.S. government’s handling of the Peltier case as a clear abuse of the legal standards of American justice; and do hereby call for justice for Leonard Peltier in the form of an immediate grant of parole.

for those who want background information on peltier’s case the film incident at oglala offers some important context:

dahr jamail, famous for his unembedded reporting in iraq, has a new article aptly entitled “destroying indigenous populations” which is an important read for understanding the wider context of american colonialism at “home” and its imperial advances in iraq:

The Fort Laramie Treaty once guaranteed the Sioux Nation the right to a large area of their original land, which spanned several states and included their sacred Black Hills, where they were to have “the absolute and undisturbed use and occupation” of the land.

However, when gold was discovered in the Black Hills, President Ulysses S. Grant told the army to look the other way in order to allow gold miners to enter the territory. After repeated violations of the exclusive rights to the land by gold prospectors and by migrant workers crossing the reservation borders, the US government seized the Black Hills land in 1877.

Charmaine White Face, an Oglala Tetuwan who lives on the Pine Ridge Reservation, is the spokesperson for the Teton Sioux Nation Treaty Council (TSNTC), established in 1893 to uphold the terms of the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868. She is also coordinator of the voluntary group, Defenders of the Black Hills, that works to preserve and protect the environment where they live.

“We call gold the metal which makes men crazy,” White Face told Truthout while in New York to attend the annual Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues at the United Nations in late May. “Knowing they could not conquer us like they wanted to … because when you are fighting for your life, or the life of your family, you will do anything you can … or fighting for someplace sacred like the Black Hills you will do whatever you can … so they had to put us in prisoner of war camps. I come from POW camp 344, the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. We want our treaties upheld, we want our land back.”

Most of the Sioux’s land has been taken, and what remains has been laid waste by radioactive pollution.

“Nothing grows in these areas – nothing can grow. They are too radioactive,” White Face said.

Although the Black Hills and adjoining areas are sacred to the indigenous peoples and nations of the region, their attempts at reclamation are not based on religious claims but on the provisions of the Constitution. The occupation of indigenous land by the US government is in direct violation of its own law, according to White Face.

She references Article 6 of the U.S. Constitution: “This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.”

The spokesperson for the TSNTC declares, “We need our treaty upheld. We want it back. Without it we are disappearing. They might have made us into brown Americans who speak the English language and eat a different kind of food, and are not able to live with the buffalo like we are supposed to, but that is like a lion in a cage. You can feed it and it will reproduce, but it is only a real lion when it gets its freedom and can be who it’s supposed to be. That’s how we are. We are like that lion in a cage. We are not free right now. We need to be able to govern ourselves the way we did before.”

Delegations from the TSNTC began their efforts in the United Nations in 1984 after exhausting all strategies for solution within the United States.

Homeland Contamination

There is uranium all around the Black Hills, South and North Dakota, Wyoming and Montana. Mining companies came in and dug large holes through these lands to extract uranium in the 1950’s and 1960’s prior to any prohibitive regulations. Abandoned uranium mines in southwestern South Dakota number 142. In the Cave Hills area, another sacred place in South Dakota used for vision quests and burial sites, there are 89 abandoned uranium mines.

In an essay called “Native North America: The Political Economy of Radioactive Colonialism,” political activists Ward Churchill and Winona LaDuke state that former US President Richard Nixon declared the 1868 Treaty Territory a “National Sacrifice Area,” implying that the territory, and its people, were being sacrificed to uranium and nuclear radiation.

The worst part, according to White Face, is that, “None of these abandoned mines have been marked. They never filled them up, they never capped them. There are no warning signs … nothing. The Forest Service even advertises the Picnic Springs Campground as a tourist place. It’s about a mile away from the Cave Hills uranium mines.”

The region is honeycombed with exploratory wells that have been dug as far down as six to eight hundred feet. In the southwestern Black Hills area, there are more than 4,000 uranium exploratory wells. On the Wyoming side of the Black Hills, there are 3,000 wells. Further north into North Dakota, there are more than a thousand wells.

The Black Hills and its surroundings are the recharge area for several major aquifers in the South Dakota, Nebraska, and Wyoming regions. The crisis can be gauged from the simple description that White Face gives: “When the winds come, they pick up the [uranium] dust and carry it; when it rains or snows, it washes it down into the aquifers and groundwater. Much of this radioactive contamination then finds its way into the Missouri River.”

She informs us that twelve residents out of about 600 of the sparsely populated county of Cave Hills have developed brain tumors. A nuclear physicist has declared one mine in the area to be as radioactively “hot” as ground zero of Hiroshima.

Red Shirt, a village along the Cheyenne River on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, has had its water tested high for radiation and local animals have died after consuming fish from the river.

After three daughters of a family and their mother died of cancer, a family requested White Face to have the municipal water tested. The radiation levels were found to be equal to those inside an x-ray machine. Little wonder then that the surviving sons and their father are afflicted with the disease. People procuring their grain and cattle from the region are advised to be extra cautious.

One cannot but feel the desperation of her people when White Face bemoans, “It’s pure genocide for us. We are all dying from cancer. We are trying not to become extinct, not to let the Great Sioux Nation become extinct.”

The Ogala Sioux are engaged in ongoing legal battles with the pro-uranium state of South Dakota. They are aware of the unequal nature of their battle, but they cannot afford to give up. White Face explains how “… Our last court case was lost before learning that the judge was a former lawyer for one of the mining companies. Also, the governor’s sister and brother-in-law work for mining companies [Powertech] and a professor, hired by the Forest Service to test water run-off for contamination, is on contract with a company that works for the mining company. When I found out the judge was a lawyer for the mining company I knew we would lose, but we went ahead with the case for the publicity, because we have to keep waking people up.”

Other tribes, such as the Navajo and Hopi in New Mexico, have been exposed to radioactive material as well. Furthermore, the July 16, 1979, spill of 100 million gallons of radioactive water containing uranium tailings from a tailing pond into the north arm of the Rio Puerco, near the small town of Church Rock, New Mexico, also affected indigenous peoples in Arizona.

Her rage and grief are evident as White Face laments, “When we have our prayer gatherings we ask that no young people come to attend. If you want to have children don’t come to Cave Hills because it’s too radioactive.”

The exploitative approach to the planet’s resources and peoples that led to these environmental and health disasters collides with White Face’s values: “I always say that you have to learn to live with the earth, and not in domination of the earth.”

Nuking the Colonies

The US government practices another approach. In occupied Iraq and Afghanistan, the uranium that has caused genocide of sorts at home has proceeded to wreak new havoc.

Two Iraqi NGO’s, the Monitoring Net of Human Rights in Iraq (MHRI) and the Conservation Center of Environment and Reserves in Fallujah (CCERF) have extensively documented the effects of restricted weapons, such as depleted uranium (DU) munitions, against the people of Fallujah during two massive US military assaults on the city in 2004.

In March 2008, the NGO’s were to present a report titled “Prohibited Weapons Crisis: The effects of pollution on the public health in Fallujah” to the 7th Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council

Muhammad al-Darraji, director, MHRI and president, CCERF, was to present the report with an appeal, “We are kindly asking the High Commissioner for Human Rights to look at the content of the report in accordance with the General Assembly’s resolution 48/ 141 (paragraph 4) of 20 December 1993, to investigate the serious threat (to the) health right in Fallujah and Iraq, and to relay the results of this investigation to the Commission on Human Rights to take the suitable decisions.”

Attached to the aforementioned is another report co-authored by Dr. Najim Askouri, a nuclear physicist trained in Britain and a leading Iraqi nuclear researcher and Dr. Assad al-Janabi, director of the Pathology Department at the 400-bed public hospital in Najaf. Their report includes a section on the “Depleted Uranium Crisis” from Najaf, 180 miles from where DU was used in the First Gulf War.

Dr. Najim begins the report by noting that Coalition Forces, mostly US, used 350 tons of DU weapons in about 45 days in 1991, primarily in the stretch of Iraq northwest of Kuwait where Iraqi troops were on their retreat. Then, in 2003, during the Shock and Awe bombing of Baghdad, the US used another 150 tons of DU. He says that cancer is spreading from the conflict area as a health epidemic and will only get worse. The cancer rate has more than tripled over the last 16 years in Najaf.

According to Dr. Najim, “When DU hits a target, it aerosolizes and oxidizes, forming a uranium oxide that is two parts UO3 and one part UO2. The first is water soluble and filters down into the water aquifers and also becomes part of the food chain as plants take up the UO3 dissolved in water. The UO2 is insoluble and settles as dust on the surface of the earth and is blown by the winds to other locations. As aerosolized dust, it can enter the lungs and begin to cause problems as it can cross cell walls and even impact the genetic system.”

One of Dr. Najim’s grandsons was born with congenital heart problems, Down Syndrome, an underdeveloped liver and leukemia. He believes that the problems are related to the child’s parents having been exposed to DU.

Detailing a skyrocketing rate of cancer and other pollution-related illnesses among the population of Fallujah since the two sieges, the report states, “Starting in 2004 when the political situation and devastation of the health care infrastructure were at their worst, there were 251 reported cases of cancer. By 2006, when the numbers more accurately reflected the real situation, that figure had risen to 688. Already in 2007, 801 cancer cases have been reported. Those figures portray an incidence rate of 28.21 [per 100,000] by 2006, even after screening out cases that came into the Najaf Hospital from outside the governorate, a number which contrasts with the normal rate of 8-12 cases of cancer per 100,000 people.

“Two observations are striking. One, there has been a dramatic increase in the cancers that are related to radiation exposure, especially the very rare soft tissue sarcoma and leukemia. Two, the age at which cancer begins in an individual has been dropping rapidly, with incidents of breast cancer at 16 (years of age), colon cancer at 8 (years of age), and liposarcoma at 1.5 years (of age).” Dr. Assad noted that 6 percent of the cancers reported occurred in the 11-20 age range and another 18 percent in ages 21-30.

“The importance of this information confirms there is a big disaster in this city…. The main civilian victims of most illnesses were the children, and the rate of them represents 72 percent of total illness cases of 2006, most of them between the ages of 1 month and 12 years…. Many new types and terrible amounts of illnesses started to appear [from] 2006 until now, such as Congenital Spinal cord abnormalities, Congenital Renal abnormalities, Septicemia, Meningitis, Thalassemia, as well as a significant number of undiagnosed cases at different ages. The speed of the appearance these signals of pollution after one year of military operations refers to the use of a great amount of prohibited weapons used in 2004 battles. The continued pollution maybe will lead to a genetic drift, starting to appear with many abnormalities in children, because the problems were related to exposure of the child’s parents to pollution sources and this may lead to more new abnormalities in the future. According to the security situation with many checkpoints and irregular cards to allow the civilians to enter or exit the city until now, all this helps to continue the terrible situation for this time. Therefore, we think that all these data is only 50 percent of the real numbers of illnesses.”

The Sioux tell their youth to avoid their radioactive native lands if they wish to procreate and prosper. Those in Iraq have no option but to lead maimed lives in their native land.

On February 4, 2009, Muhammad al-Darraji sent President Barack Obama a letter, along with the aforementioned report. A few excerpts are presented here:

“We have the honor to submit with this letter our report on the effects on public health of prohibited weapons used by the United States during its military operations in Fallujah (March-November 2004). It was our intention to present the report to the Human Rights Council of the United Nations on 4 March 2008, but both security and political reasons played a significant role in making this task impossible. The report, now in your hands, contains vast evidence and documentation on the catastrophic and continuous pollution in Iraq (to prevent) which nobody has taken any real action to help the victims or clean up polluted places. Some months ago, and in June 2008, I sent this report directly to some US congressmen. Two of them went to my town, Fallujah, and visited the general hospital to investigate the claims contained in our report. No substantial result came out of this visit. In February 2009 one of my colleagues, who worked in the hospital’s statistical office and helped gather information about the pollution, was killed by unknown individuals. The blood of my friend is the driving force that led me to write to you directly in order for you to release the facts for which my friend paid with his life. Therefore, we are kindly asking you to look at the content of the attached report and to investigate the serious threats to the right to life of the inhabitants of Fallujah and other polluted places in Iraq, as well as to publicly release the results of this investigation under right of information about what really happened in Iraq.”

The president has yet to respond.

———

Jason Coppola and Bhaswati Sengupta contributed to this article.

ow-drones

and there’s more. irin news published a timeline of violence in iraq that falls on obama’s watch–these are obama’s wars now and the blood is entirely on his hands:

Iraqi deaths have been caused by US-led forces, Iraqi forces, foreign insurgents, sectarian violence and indirectly by war-related effects on their health, on food security and sanitation. Estimates range from 100,000 to well over a million.

22 June 2009: A bomb in Husseiniya vegetable market on northern outskirts of Baghdad killed five. Parked car bomb in central Baghdad’s Karrada District killed five. Suicide bomber killed himself and seven others outside west Baghdad’s Abu Ghraib municipal council building.

20 June: A suicide truck bomb killed 73 and wounded about 150 others outside a mosque in Kirkuk, 250km north of Baghdad.

12 June: A gunman killed the head of parliament’s biggest Sunni Muslim bloc and five other people at a mosque in west Baghdad.

10 June: 33 killed and 70 wounded in a car bombing in the town of Batha, west of Nasiriyah in Dhiqar Province.

8 June: A bomb attached to a minibus killed seven people and wounded 24 others at a bus terminal in southern Baghdad.

3 June: 9 killed and 31 wounded by a bomb planted in a cafe in southwest Baghdad.

21 May: A suicide bomber killed 12 and wounded 25 in a market in Baghdad’s southern Doura District. Three US soldiers also killed in the attack. In Kirkuk, a suicide bomber killed seven people and wounded eight.

20 May: At least 41 people killed and 82 wounded in a car bombing in the Shula District of northwest Baghdad.

6 May: A truck bomb killed 10 people and wounded 37 others in a vegetable market in Doura District, southern Baghdad.

29 April: At least 51 killed and many more wounded in a twin car bomb attack in Baghdad’s Sadr City.

24 April: At least 55 killed, including 20 Iranian pilgrims, by two suicide bombers outside the Al-Kadhim Shia shrine in Baghdad.

23 April: A suicide bomber killed 56, mostly Iranian pilgrims, in a restaurant near Muqdadiyah town, 80km northeast of Baghdad. A woman suicide bomber also killed 28 in an attack on police in central Baghdad.

6 April: Car bombings in mainly Shia districts of Baghdad kill at least 34 people.

26 March: At least 20 killed by a car bomb near a Baghdad market.

23 March: At least 25 killed by a suicide bomber in Jalawla, northeast Baghdad.

10 March: A suicide bomber kills at least 33 tribal leaders and army officers outside the town hall in Abu Ghraib, west of Baghdad.

8 March: A suicide bomber killed 28 at a Baghdad police academy.

13 Feb: A female suicide bomber killed 35 pilgrims, mainly women and children, near central city of Hilla.

4 Jan: A female suicide bomber killed 35 pilgrims at a Baghdad religious procession.

2 Jan: At least 23 killed in a suicide attack in Yussufiyah, south of Baghdad.

and the escalation of the massacring in pakistan is entirely obama’s war. today obama’s bombs fell on pakistanis attending a funeral for another massacre perpetrated by obama’s bombs the previous day:

At least 45 people have died in a missile strike by a US drone aircraft in Pakistan, officials there have said.

The people killed in South Waziristan region had been attending a funeral for others killed in a US drone strike earlier on Tuesday.

Intelligence officials said at least 45 people had been killed and dozens more injured in the later strike, when two missiles were fired.

But a local official told BBC News the death toll was more than 50.

jeremy scahill contextualizes the savagery of these drone massacres:

Three days after his inauguration, on January 23, 2009, President Barack Obama ordered US predator drones to attack sites inside of Pakistan, reportedly killing 15 people. It was the first documented attack ordered by the new US Commander in Chief inside of Pakistan. Since that first Obama-authorized attack, the US has regularly bombed Pakistan, killing scores of civilians. The New York Times reported that the attacks were clear evidence Obama “is continuing, and in some cases extending, Bush administration policy.” In the first 99 days of 2009, more than 150 people were reportedly killed in these drone attacks. The most recent documented attack was reportedly last Thursday in Waziristan. Since 2006, the US drone strikes have killed 687 people (as of April). That amounts to about 38 deaths a month just from drone attacks.

The use of these attack drones by Obama should not come as a surprise to anyone who followed his presidential campaign closely. As a candidate, Obama made clear that Pakistan’s sovereignty was subservient to US interests, saying he would attack with or without the approval of the Pakistani government. Obama said if the US had “actionable intelligence” that “high value” targets were in Pakistan, the US would attack. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, echoed those sentiments on the campaign trail and “did not rule out U.S. attacks inside Pakistan, citing the missile attacks her husband, then-President Bill Clinton, ordered against Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan in 1998. ‘If we had actionable intelligence that Osama bin Laden or other high-value targets were in Pakistan I would ensure that they were targeted and killed or captured,’ she said.”

amazingly there are still muslims who think obama is great because he cited a few suras from the qur’an. but i maintain actions speak louder than words. you cannot claim to respect islam on the one hand and massacre muslims on the other.

“the genocide of the fta”

milagros salazar published an important report in ips with eyewitness accounts of the survivors of the massacre against indigenous awajun and wambis indians in peru:

Sobbing, an indigenous woman dressed in black cries out as she sees us arrive: “My son, my son, they have killed my son!” She is Andrea Rocca, the mother of Felipe Sabio, a young man who died in a clash between police and indigenous protesters in the northern Peruvian region of Amazonas.

Men, women and children from the village of Wawas were gathered around the doorway of the Sabio family home when IPS and other journalists arrived on Saturday Jun. 13.

Fear and consternation have been aroused by the death of Sabio, who was regarded as one of the few educated men in this village, a four-hour drive from the town of Bagua, where the violent clash took place on Friday, Jun. 5.

“He was a defender of indigenous rights and he gave his life to defend our territories,” said Germán Llagkuag, Sabio’s uncle, who told journalists they must publish the indigenous people’s side of the story, as they are being blamed by the government of President Alan García for the violence and bloodshed that put an end to their two-month protest and roadblock near Bagua.

The indigenous groups are protesting decrees issued by the government for the implementation of the free trade agreement (FTA) signed with the United States, which promote private investment in their territories and open up the Amazon jungle to oil, mining, agribusiness and logging companies.

A multi-party congressional committee had declared in December that the decrees were unconstitutional.

As a result of the scandal caused by the death toll among police and indigenous people, the government said on Monday that it would recommend that Congress repeal two of the most controversial decrees.

García said on Jun. 12 that what happened in Bagua was a “genocide against the police by extremist elements who want to hand us over to foreign models of development.” He was referring to the deaths of 24 police officers in the Jun. 5 clashes with native people at the Curva del Diablo (Devil’s Curve) on the Fernando Belaúnde Terry highway near Bagua and at the nearby Petroperu oil pipeline pumping station No. 6.

In response to what he interpreted as an accusation by García, the next day Bolivia’s indigenous President Evo Morales called what had happened in the Peruvian Amazon “the genocide of the FTA.”

The Peruvian Ombudsman’s Office says that five indigenous people were killed, but participants in the protests put the number much higher. The search for bodies continues, and committees in over 300 indigenous villages in the area are making lists of people who have not yet returned home.

Salomón Aguanash, chair of the regional committee for the defence of indigenous peoples’ rights, who led the protests at Curva del Diablo, identified another victim who was added to the Ombudsman’s Office’s list: Jesús Carlos Timias, from the village of Uracuza, who brought the official death toll of indigenous protesters to six. Five local townspeople were also killed on Jun. 5, in Bagua.

In addition, 50 indigenous people were arrested and held until Jun. 12 according to human rights organisations, and 85 indigenous people have not returned to the villages of Santiago, Nieva and Cenepa, Aguanash said.

“My husband wasn’t just an ordinary man, he was intelligent and educated. He would solve people’s problems around here, and he joined the protest because Alan García wanted to take our land away from us by a law and hand it over to the corporations. The president is to blame for what happened,” 27-year-old Violeta Pitug Wanpush told IPS from her bed, as she had given birth just the day before.

Pitug Wanpush is Sabio’s widow, and this week she has had to face both life and death up close.

On Jun. 6 they brought her the body of her dead husband from Bagua with a bullet wound on the left side of his chest, and five days later her daughter was born. She also has three other young children.

“My children cry all day and ask me, ‘Where’s daddy?’ How am I going to look after them now without my husband? Here I am, absorbed with this thought and this suffering,” she said between sobs, her baby in her arms and her three other children, ages two to four, clustered around her.

Her husband Sabio, a correspondent for a local radio station, was reporting on the indigenous protest to the communities in coordination with the Regional Organisation of the Indigenous Peoples of the Northern Amazon (ORPIAN).

He was shot near the main square of Bagua on Jun. 5, when the police were trying to disperse local people who were angrily protesting the deaths of the indigenous demonstrators a few hours earlier on the Fernando Belaúnde Terry highway and in nearby ravines.

“We were about to leave”

Aguanash told IPS that 15 days before the bloody events of Jun. 5, some 2,600 indigenous people from five villages in the district of Condorcanqui went to Curva del Diablo, where they were joined by 140 more from San Ignacio in the province of Cajamarca region, and another 1,000 from Paután in the Nievas district in Amazonas province.

Among the demonstrators on the highway was 19-year-old David Jausito, an Awajun Indian from the village of La Curva, who was the first to die in the clashes at Curva del Diablo, according to Aguanash.

“The police fired first from the helicopters, and then two armoured cars came toward us along the highway. There were bullets everywhere, and several of our brothers fell, but David was the first,” the indigenous leader told IPS.

David’s mother looks on in silence, but his father, Moisés Jausito, speaks briefly. “He went to check out what was happening at the protests. We never thought they would kill him,” he said, showing us a photo of his son in his nursing assistant uniform.

David Jausito had come to Bagua in February to study at a local technical institute, to become a nursing assistant. His body was taken back to his village on Jun. 10 and was buried a few metres from his house.

His grave reflects the poverty of this jungle community: he lies beneath a patch of earth marked by a simple white-painted wooden cross, surrounded by flowers.

“When someone dies in the community, it affects all of us,” said Lucio Rocca, David’s cousin, who said that most of the members of the La Curva community attended the burial in solidarity with the indigenous demands.

Rocca was with his cousin when the clash occurred at Curva del Diablo. “The shots were fired directly at people’s bodies. The police took us by surprise, because we were going to leave that very day before 10:00 AM, that was the agreement. We were about to leave,” he told IPS.

Aguanash confirmed this account, which was also given to IPS by other indigenous people who took part in the protests.

The media reported that the police guarding Petroperu pumping station No. 6, near Bagua, had agreed to a non-violence pact with the indigenous people. According to official reports, native protesters killed police officers they were holding captive there in cold blood on Jun. 5.

“These police brothers are not to blame, and neither are we. This happened by order of the government,” said Aguanash, who called on Lima to cancel the arrest warrants out for the leaders of the protests.

Five leaders of the Peruvian Rainforest Inter-Ethnic Development Association (AIDESEP), an umbrella group of indigenous associations, including its president, Alberto Pizango, have been accused by prosecutor Silvia Sack of disturbing the peace and attacking the state by advocating “sedition and revolt.”

According to Sack, the indigenous activists could be sentenced to up to six years in prison.

for some context here is a report by john vidal in common dreams:

It has been called the world’s second “oil war”, but the only similarity between Iraq and events in the jungles of northern Peru over the last few weeks has been the mismatch of force. On one side have been the police armed with automatic weapons, teargas, helicopter gunships and armoured cars. On the other are several thousand Awajun and Wambis Indians, many of them in war paint and armed with bows and arrows and spears.

In some of the worst violence seen in Peru in 20 years, the Indians this week warned Latin America what could happen if companies are given free access to the Amazonian forests to exploit an estimated 6bn barrels of oil and take as much timber they like. After months of peaceful protests, the police were ordered to use force to remove a road bock near Bagua Grande.

In the fights that followed, at least 50 Indians and nine police officers were killed, with hundreds more wounded or arrested. The indigenous rights group Survival International described it as “Peru’s Tiananmen Square”.

“For thousands of years, we’ve run the Amazon forests,” said Servando Puerta, one of the protest leaders. “This is genocide. They’re killing us for defending our lives, our sovereignty, human dignity.”

Yesterday, as riot police broke up more demonstrations in Lima and a curfew was imposed on many Peruvian Amazonian towns, President Garcia backed down in the face of condemnation of the massacre. He suspended – but only for three months – the laws that would allow the forest to be exploited. No one doubts the clashes will continue.

Peru is just one of many countries now in open conflict with its indigenous people over natural resources. Barely reported in the international press, there have been major protests around mines, oil, logging and mineral exploitation in Africa, Latin America, Asia and North America. Hydro electric dams, biofuel plantations as well as coal, copper, gold and bauxite mines are all at the centre of major land rights disputes.

of course the united states has a large role to play in this war against the indigenous in peru as with other parts of the world as haider rizvi reports for ips:

The United States government is coming under intense pressure from rights organisations and environmental groups to redefine its trade pact with Peru, a tool that they charge the government in Lima is using to justify oppression against the indigenous population.

“Whether or not the U.S. intended it, the reality is that the U.S.-Peru Trade Agreement gave license to the [Alan] Garcia administration to roll back indigenous rights and has contributed to increasing social conflict and human rights abuses in Peru,” said Andrew Miller of Amazon Watch.

On Monday, Miller’s group joined a broad coalition of 14 other organisations in sending a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and other high-level officials calling for immediate U.S. action regarding the ongoing political conflict in Peru between the state authorities and indigenous rights movement.

Last year the Garcia administration issued several decrees to implement the U.S.-Peru free trade agreement. The decrees are controversial because they are designed to regulate investment in the Amazon, which is a source of concern for environmental organisations as well as the indigenous population.

On Jun. 5, the police opened fire on indigenous activists at a roadblock near the northern Peruvian town of Bagua. The demonstrators were blockading traffic to protest the government’s policy to let foreign investors use indigenous lands in the Amazon. In the clashes, an as yet uncertain number of protesters were killed, along with a number of police.

Analysts of U.S. policy towards Latin America describe the bloody incident in Bagua as the latest rendition of the discord that exists between the United States, Latin American governments and the indigenous people of the region.

“The increase in foreign direct investment since the 1980s has ignited countless humanitarian and environmental crises throughout Latin America as the leaders of developing world are being forced to choose between the perceived economic benefits of free trade,” note researchers Arienna Grody and Lincoln Wheeler.

In a report for the Council on Hemispheric Affairs, a Washington-based think tank, they describe Garcia as “a robust ally of foreign investors and multinational corporations” who has strongly defended Peru’s development initiatives by claiming that it was in the benefit of the poor.

on the political front the it seems that the battle is heating up as the prime minister tendered his resignation over the massacre as ángel páez reported in ips:

At the initiative of the opposition parties, the Peruvian parliament approved the creation of a committee to investigate the clash early this month between indigenous protesters and the police near the town of Bagua in the northern province of Amazonas, which according to official reports left a death toll of 34.

Among other things, the committee is to determine whether the police acted on their own or under orders from Interior Minister Mercedes Cabanillas, and if so, if she received the order from President Alan García.

In addition, Prime Minister Yehude Simon said Tuesday that he would step down in the next few weeks, once the situation has calmed down, and that the government would ask Congress to overturn the controversial decrees that opened up the rainforest to oil, mining and other interests and triggered the indigenous protests.

At a Jun. 3 cabinet meeting, two days before the tragic Jun. 5 incident, the president allegedly issued an order for the security forces to break up the roadblock that native demonstrators had held for 50 days along the Fernando Belaunde Terry highway, an important artery in the Amazon jungle.

Sources with the national police directorate told IPS that Cabanillas called together the police general staff that same day, Jun. 3, to begin planning the operation, which was to involve the use of force.

In the meeting, Cabanillas met with the national police chief, General José Sánchez Farfán, the head of special operations (DIROES), General Luis Muguruza, and the head of police operations (DIREOP), General Bernabé Garavito.

General Muguruza travelled to Bagua the next day to take command of the operation, which began at dawn on Jun. 5 at the spot on the highway known as the Curva del Diablo (Devil’s Curve), near the town of Bagua, where the protesters were manning the roadblock.

it’s not just rhetoric

there was an interesting discussion on al jazeera’s “riz khan” show with anand naidoo this week on the genocide against the tamils in sri lanka. it featured devinda subasinghe, sri lanka’s former ambassador to the u.s. and mexico; anna neistat from human rights watch; and jan jananyagam from tamils against genocide. i’ve seen jananyagam quite a bit on al jazeera and generally think she’s an excellent speaker, though there was one major flaw in her argument. the stuff she pointed out on the destruction of culture, language, books as well as the massacre against the tamils is important. too, her response to the ambassador who asks her to “dial down the rhetoric” was key: “it’s not rhetoric when people are held in camps.” she details the situation of tamils in concentration camps, as does neistat, although as typical for human rights watch neistat thinks there are two sides which there can never been when you have those responsible for massacre and those massacred. but in the second part when jananyagam compares the situation to palestine she’s wrong: the conflict is different not because palestinians rightly refuse to acknowledge the right of a foreign people to colonize their land. it is different because the palestinian people’s land is colonized whereas in sri lanka neither the tamils nor the sinhalese are colonizers. in any case, it is worth watching this discussion.

but i would also recommend listening to nora barrows-friedman’s interview with norweigan dr. mads gilbert on the subject as he has lived and worked with the tamils in sri lanka as well as in gaza. his sense of the situation and its parallels are far more apt. there are other parallels too, for instance, the sri lankan government thinks it should investigate its own war crimes just like the zionist entity as catherine philip reports for the telegraph:

The European resolution that Sri Lanka is aiming to defeat has already drawn the ire of human rights groups for failing to push for an international war crimes inquiry. It calls on the Sri Lanka Government to conduct its own investigation into breaches of international law and allow unfettered access to camps where more than 200,000 displaced Tamil civilians are detained.

and there are not only parallels, but also deep ties between the state terrorism of the zionist entity and the sri lankan government as the pakistan daily reports:

In May 2000, just one day after India refused to give Sri Lanka any military assistance in its war against the Tamil Tigers, Sri Lanka and Israel resumed diplomatic relations. Although the corporate media are focusing on Sri Lanka’s military assistance from China, little mention is being made of the nation’s military links with Israel.

After the establishment of diplomatic ties between Jerusalem and Colombo, Israeli military technicians arrived to maintain Sri Lanka’s Israeli-made Kfir fighter-bombers and Russian MiG-27 aircraft and provided Sri Lanka with Dvora fast naval attack craft. Israeli arms and ammunition also began flooding into Sri Lanka, with still no mention of the Israeli-Sri Lankan ties in the media.

Soon, Israeli military advisers and “consultants” were regular visitors to Colombo’s new Access Lanka Building, owned by relatives of Sri Lanka’s top military officers. Among Israel’s security exports to Sri Lanka was state of the art electronic and imagery surveillance equipment. Israeli Air Force pilots reportedly flew Sri Lankan attack aircraft against Tamil Tiger targets on the Jaffna peninsula. Israeli military personnel were also reported to have taken part in Sri Lankan military attacks on Tamil units.

Due to Israel’s military assistance to Sri Lanka, India reportedly began aiding the Tamils in the 1980s. It is also believed (and not that hard to believe either) that Israel’s Mossad recruited agents among Sri Lanka’s large contingent of foreign workers in the Persian Gulf Arab states. There were also reports that Israelis were also providing weapons and training to Tamil guerrillas in order to maintain a “market” for Israeli arms suppliers in the civil war-wracked island nation.

On March 2, 2007:

Cambodia discovered that the Mossad and Cambodian criminal syndicate allies continue to obtain bought-back Cambodian weapons from Cambodian government warehouses and are selling them to guerrilla groups throughout Asia, including Sri Lanka’s Tamil Tigers, anti-Laotian Hmongs, the small anti-communist Free Vietnam Movement, and Burmese tribal guerrilla groups. WMR photographed a number of Zim shipping containers portside along the Mekong River in Phnom Penh. From this and other port facilities, including the port of Sihanoukville, bought-back Cambodian weapons, some originally provided to the Khmer Rouge by Israeli tycoon Shaul Eisenberg and the Chinese, are making their way to insurgent groups around Asia, possibly including Iraqi guerrillas battling U.S. forces in Iraq.”

Tamil guerrillas have claimed to have destroyed an Israeli-made Sri Lankan fast naval attack craft,” which was deployed off the Lebanese coast during the 2006 Israeli attack on Lebanon, with a C-802 Iranian-made Noor missile.”

Although Sri Lanka suspended diplomatic ties with Israel in 1970 over the failure of the Israelis to withdraw from illegally occupied Palestinian territory, however, operating an Interests Section within the U.S. embassy in Colombo, Israeli-Sri Lankan ties began to grow closer in the mid to late 1980s. Israel provided Sri Lanka with military advisers and established a special commando unit for the Sri Lankan police.

In 1990, Sri Lankan President Ranasinghe Premadasa ordered the Israeli Interests Section at the U.S. embassy to close and two Israeli diplomats in Colombo were ordered to leave. In 1990, Premadasa also ordered a government investigation of charges that Mossad was training both Sri Lankan and Tamil guerrilla forces.

On September 25, 1991, Reuters reported from Colombo:

“Sri Lankan President Ranasinghe Premadasa, fighting against a campaign to have him impeached, yesterday accused the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad of plotting against him because he closed the Israeli interests section in the U.S. embassy. He spoke at the opening session of parliament.”

On May 1, 1993, Premadasa was assassinated in Colombo during May Day festivities by a suicide bomber said to be a Tamil guerrilla. Twenty-three other people were killed in the blast. On May 28, 1993, Abdul Hameed Mohammed Azwer, Sri Lankan minister of state for Muslim affairs, said in Jeddah, “Israel was enraged by when they were expelled from Sri Lanka by Premadasa and I suspect the Mossad was behind the dastardly murder of this respected leader.”

Premadasa’s assassination remains an Asian “cold case.”and On September 23, 1997, Attorney General Sarath Silva released 18 Tamil suspects in the assassination of the president, citing lack of evidence – leaving the Attorney General with an ‘unsolved case’.

During a March 2009 trip to Israel by Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickremanayake, talks were held with Israel’s leading arms suppliers on increased military aid by the Israelis to Sri Lanka.

Israel continues to supply Sri Lanka with arms and excessive military training even after the United States and Britain stop endowing military supplies to Sri Lanka over the government’s human rights violations.

there are differences, too, of course. for instance, the number of tamils massacred compared to the number of palestinians as gethin chamberlain writes in the guardian:

The UN today described the death toll in Sri Lanka as “unacceptably high”, as an unsubstantiated report suggested 20,000 people had been killed in the final days of fighting between government soldiers and Tamil Tiger rebels.

Precise figures for casualties have been impossible to confirm as daily reports from doctors working at the scene were regularly disputed by the Sri Lankan government. The UN has come under pressure over its statements on Sri Lanka, particularly with regard to casualty figures.

catherine philip also chronicles the struggle of families separated by the war in concentration camps. while palestinians in gaza are living in the world’s largest open air prison, within gaza they can move around, albeit bombs still fall, and people are still fired upon from the land and sea borders. but these new concentration camps created by the sri lankan government are trapping innocent tamil people inside because the sri lankan government thinks it is “protecting” tamil civilians:

The Tamil Tigers came for Rajibalan in February during a rare pause in the shelling. Every family in his village, Palamattalan, inside the besieged no-fire zone, was to give a son or daughter for the fight — taken by force, if necessary. There would be three more months of fighting until the war was over and 18-year-old Rajibalan and his family would wade together across the Nanthikadal lagoon in surrender.

When they did, they were met by government troops at the Omanthai checkpoint. “The soldiers announced that all the LTTE people would have to register separately from the civilians,” his sister, Sentura, recalled. “They said if they did so, they would be released, but if they did not, they would get 15 years in jail.”

That was more than a week ago. Sentura has not seen her brother since. He is just one of the 9,100 “terrorists” that the Sri Lankan Government is holding in special detention centres separate from the 270,000 sent to civilian camps. Yesterday Sentura wept as she recounted her struggle to find out where her little brother had gone. “Those who went on their own and those who were forced by the Tigers are treated just the same,” she cried. “What will happen to my brother now?”

Hundreds of Tamil civilians pressed up against barbed-wire fences at the 1,400-acre (570-hectare) Manik Farm camp yesterday, clamouring to speak to the crowds outside desperately searching for missing relatives. Some spoke of children lost in the chaos of the flight, others of brothers, like Rajibalan, taken away by the army. A Roman Catholic nun who came looking for her sister’s family when she received a note that they were in the camp left despondent after four hours of searching in the sticky heat.

The task of tracking down lost relatives is complicated by the fact that inmates are forbidden to leave the camp just as foreign aid vehicles are forbidden to enter — because of the risk, the Government says, that fighters inside may escape. When the UN pressed for unfettered access, Sri Lanka said that it would be given as soon as it had finished screening the camps for remaining fighters — in three to four weeks.

However, on a rare military-led visit to the camp yesterday, officials admitted that no such screening was taking place, raising questions over the purpose of the continued detentions. “No formal screening at the camps, no,” Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara, the military spokesman, said.

The only screening for those fleeing the conflict zone has already taken place, at the checkpoints where young men and women were separated from their families. The military calls the process “voluntary” and denies using the threat of prison sentences to encourage confessions.

The Sri Lankan Government originally expressed its intention to keep civilians in the camps for up to a year but promised, under Indian pressure, to resettle 80 per cent within six months. Statements made by military officials at the camp yesterday suggest that the Government is in no hurry to allow the civilians to walk free.

legalizing apartheid

i’m not one who feels loyalty to states in general. i do not feel loyalty to my country, the united states, for example. i would never serve in its imperial army and i left my country, in large part, so i would not have to pay taxes there any more because this means supporting its imperialism and its massacres around the planet. but imagine if the united states decided to announce itself to be a white christian state and all those non-white christians had to pledge allegiance to that sort of state. of course, the united states, like the zionist entity, is a colonial regime and therefore american indians are put into this position. this is the position that palestinians are being put into:

On Wednesday, the Israeli Knesset approved in the first reading a bill that would incriminate publicly denying Israel as a Jewish State, and that such denial would be punished up to a year in prison.

The bill is one of several similar bills presented by right-wing members of Knesset demanding racist laws that denies the very existence of the Arabs and Palestinians in their homeland.

The bill wants all Israeli citizens, including Arabs and Palestinians, to recognize Israel as a “Jewish Democratic State”.

Any act or publication that denies Israel’s “identity” as a Jewish State would be considered as an issue that would cause “acts of hatred and disloyalty”.

The bill was approved by 47 members of Knesset, while 34 voted against it, and Knesset spokesperson, Reuven Rivlin, from the Likud party, abstained.

The controversial bill was first presented by extremist right wing member of Knesset, Zevulun Orlev, of the Bayit Hayehudi (Jewish Home) party.

The new bill needs to pass three more votes at the Knesset and a committee review before it becomes a law, Israeli online daily, Haaretz, reported.

Orlev proposed this law linking it to former member of Knesset, Azmi Bishara, who resigned from the Knesset and left the country in 2007.

Bishara is facing charges of what Israel calls “assisting the enemy” because he visited Lebanon and Syria.

Meanwhile, member of Knesset Haim Oron of the Meretz party, strongly denounced the bill and said that it is considered as “creating thought police”.

On Sunday, the Knesset passed a bill outlawing marking the Nakba, which is when the Palestinians were forced out of their homeland so that Israeli can be created.

The bill was denounced by Naomi Chazan, head of the New Israeli Fund. He said that this bill crushes the feelings of Palestinians who lost their lands, and harms the efforts to achieve co-existence.

Several Civil Rights organizations in Israel said that such a bill could harm the rights of Arab citizens.

Furthermore, a bill introduced this week by Israel’s Foreign Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, of the extremist Yisrael Beiteinu Party, required the Arabs to pledge loyalty to Israel as a Jewish State before they can obtain identity cards and citizenship.

the arab association for human rights in 1948 palestine published a briefing on the legislation and you can download an english-language version of the bill by clicking on this link. palestinian knesset member jamal zahalka sees the new racist law as an attempt at thought policing palestinians:

As the Israeli Knesset was debating the new law, which punishes any citizen who does not recognize Israel as a Jewish Democratic State, Arab member of Knesset Jamal Zahalka, described the law as racist and a thought crime.

Zahalka said that any person who demands democracy and equality would be punished and imprisoned, and that this means dozens of Jewish and Arabs university lecturers, intellectuals and politicians who propose a bi-national state or a state for all of its citizens would be punished and imprisoned.

He also said that what this law means is that the state “would have to form a police unit that targets the thoughts of the residents, the intellectuals, and imprison them for having ideas and thoughts that are not coherent with the State’s policies.

Zahalka also said that no matter what laws are passed, the Arabs and progressive movements in Israel will not accept a Jewish State that is based on Zionism, and would always reject Zionism regardless of the price they would have to pay.

“You are presenting racist laws, day by day, your government is sick with delusions and racism”, Zahalka added.

His statements were met with anger by right wing members of the Knesset who shouted at him and said “if you don’t like our laws, then get out of here, and leave the country”.

He responded by saying “we are the natives of this land, you are the immigrants and we will remain in this country like a fork in your throats”.

Right wing MK’s then started insulting Zahalka and uttered dirty words against him, before the Knesset head forced him out and ignored the racist statements of right wing MK’s.

After he was forced out of the Knesset hall, Zahalka said that the atmosphere at the Knesset is poisoned with racism, and added that this law is a challenge to democracy and a challenge to Israel as a state for all of its citizens.

He added that Israel regards itself as the state of the Jewish people, which places the Arabs as an unwanted ethnicity.

meanwhile another law is underway in the racist fascist zionist entity. and i’m pretty sure that this would fall under the rubric of cultural genocide, too, given the way that people’s history and culture are interconnected. it seems that the new bill that would make it a crime to mourn the dispossession of palestine. imagine, just imagine, for one moment what would happen if germany made it illegal to mourn the nazi holocaust. you get the picture. here is the news item:

Bill calling for one year in prison for anyone speaking against Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish and democratic state passes preliminary reading. Bill’s initiator MK Orlev: This is our lesson from Bishara affair. Meretz: Government is losing it
Amnon Meranda

‘Nakba law’ not alone: The Knesset on Wednesday morning approved in a preliminary reading a bill introducing one year in prison for anyone speaking against Israel’s existence as a Jewish and democratic state, should the call contain a reasonable possibility “that it may lead to acts of hatred, scorn or lack of loyalty to the State or its government authorities or law systems which have been established legally.”

Forty-seven Knesset members voted in favor of the motion, 34 voted against it, and one MK abstained. The bill was initiated by MK Zevulun Orlev (Habayit Hayehudi), chairman of the Knesset’s Education Committee.

Following the vote, a harsh argument erupted between MKs Jamal Zahalka (Balad) and Arie Eldad (National Union), leading to Zahalka’s removal from the auditorium.

A heated discussion erupted at the Knesset before the vote. Meretz Chairman Chaim Oron slammed the government, saying, “Have you lost your confidence in the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state? This crazy government – what exactly are you doing? Thought Police? Have you lost it?

“Israel’s citizens have the right to say that they believe Jewish and democratic is an incorrect wording. I think they are wrong, but what does this have to do with the criminals area? Enough with this story.” MK Orlev replied, “You used very shallow demagogy.”

‘You want to punish people for thinking?’

MK Zahalka said before the vote, “Many intellectuals in the academia who talk about a country belonging to all its citizens belong in prison, according to MK Orlev. Arab and Jewish leaders who seek real democracy in Israel also belong in jail, according to Orlev… He wants to put anyone who doesn’t agree with him in jail.

“This is the proposal: Whoever says ‘death to the Arabs’ should not be put in prison, but whoever says ‘a country of all its citizens’ should not be put in prison. This is a crazy law aimed at managing the political discourse according to laws.”

Knesset Member Ronnie Bar-On (Kadima) said that his movement opposed the bill in principle for the simple reason that “a democratic Jewish state is performed, not talked about. We want to do this, and you with your remarks are thwarting the matter once and again.

Turning to Orlev, Bar-On asked, “What is there in your proposal that it not covered in Basic Law: The Knesset or in the Penal Law? You want to punish people for speaking? Soon you’ll want to punish people for thinking.”

MK Ahmad Tibi (United Arab List-Ta’al) said in response to the bill, “We will not recognize a Jewish and Zionist Israel despite the draconian law, even if we pay a personal price. This coalition will soon propose a low banning ‘expressing shock over the occupation’ and calling for a penalty of five years in prison for anyone expressing such shock.”

al jazeera’s “inside story” with kamahl santamaria focused on this subject the other night. it features mohammad darawshe, a palestinian from 1948 palestine, zionist terrorist colonist paul eidelberg, and independent mp from england claire short. short and darawshe make some good points. eidelberg offers up the same lies and zionist propaganda and is not satisfied enough with finding ways to silence palestinians by criminalizing their own history and identity, but also feels the need to do so live on tv by silencing darawshe:

interestingly, at one point santamaria asks eidelberg about the zionist entity’s declaration of independence which states:

“I commit to being loyal to the state of Israel as a Jewish, democratic and Zionist state, to its symbols and values and to serve the country as needed through military service or an alternative service as decided by law.”

eidelberg gets one thing right when he says, in response to questioning about the above-quoted document: he says that this statement is pretty much null and void because it is not possible to have a state for all its citizens and be a jewish state. exactly. claire short makes a great point about the british empire and the citizens of the empire who opposed british colonial rule and used resistance to do so and yet remained citizens. her example is much better than eidelberg who tries to compare this to the united states, which doesn’t work with his analogies–it only works when you think of american indians having to pledge such a loyalty oath or deny their history of genocide and colonialism.

on cultural genocide

in jonathan cook’s brilliant book disappearing palestine, he documents a number of ways in which zionists ethnically cleanse palestinians from their land historically and currently. but in one section of the book he talks about other forms of genocide:

“Genocide” is widely, and mistakenly, assumed to refer only to an act of mass extermination of a racial or ethnic group akin to the industrialized murder of Europe’s Jews committed by the Nazis. In fact, the word’s legal definition is far broader. The lawyer who coined the term, Raphael Lemkin, was a Polish Jew who fled to the United States during the Second World War. Lemkin’s determination to alert the world to the horrors of genocide was prompted not just by the Holocaust but by earlier massacres: of the Armenians by the Turks during the First World War, and of the Assyrians in Iraq in 1933. In 1943 Lemkin offered this definition of genocide:

Generally speaking, genocide does not necessarily meant he immediate destruction of a nation, except when accomplished by mass killings of all members of a nation. It is intended rather to signify a coordinated plan of different actions aiming at the destruction of essential foundations of the life of national groups, with the aim of annihilating the groups themselves. The objectives of such a plan would be the disintegration of the political and social institutions, of culture, language, national feelings, religion, and the economic existence of national groups, and the destruction of the personal security, liberty, health, dignity, and even the lives of the individuals belonging to such groups.

(132-133)

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i wrote about this happening from afar when the al quds capital of arab culture festival took place and the israeli terrorist forces kept trying to shut it down. tonight i witnessed cultural genocide up close. i smuggled friends in from beit lahem to al quds to attend the palestinian literature festival. we got there early and ate lunch and wandered around the old city. we ran into shadia mansour and dam in the street. we discovered there was a hip hop concert tonight too, which we went to later. but first we went to the palestinian literature festival, which was kicking off a week of events tonight at al hakawati also known as the the palestinian national theatre.

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as we walked down salah el din street towards the theatre we started seeing lots of israeli terrorist forces vehicles. and then we discovered that these cars were blocking the back entrance of the theatre. we could not go down that street because that would mean that we would risk my friends going to jail for being illegally inside their own country. so we walked down another block to enter on the other side. i walked a bit ahead to make sure there were no soldiers and it seemed okay so we walked in. but all of a sudden we saw people carrying food trays (for the reception that was supposed to be starting just then). everyone was walking out. i ran into my friends basem and sami and they told us that special forces were inside and that they shut down the festival. everyone was heading out to the french cultural center about four blocks down the street where we were going to be allowed to continue. supposedly. the photographs above are shots i took of what we saw when we first approached the theatre and of people leaving en masse.

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the festival organizers regrouped quite well at the french cultural center, but the israeli terrorist forces followed us and as the picture above shows, lined salah el din street for quite some time after the program got started in the new location. all of my friends were very upset that they agreed to move. they wanted to see the festival organizers resist this attempt at cultural genocide and let them attack this group of literati because they believe that it would have really kickstarted a third intifada. on the one hand, this would have been good for the foreigners here to really see what zionists do to palestinians on a daily basis. on the other hand, they still witnessed it, but a much milder form of it. it would have been better if they started with the tear gas. in any case, the venue was moved and the program proceeded. however, because all of the translation equipment was in al hakawati, it was problematic because all the readings were in english and there were a number of people, including my friends, who wanted to hear the readings in arabic. there were two groups of readings today. the first moderated by ahdaf soueif included carmen callil, henning mankell, and claire messud; the second was moderated by victoria brittain and included abdulrazak gurnah, deborah moggach, and m.g. vassanji.

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the sound system at the french cultural center was really difficult to hear and because we were outside in this location there were so many street sounds that made it difficult to pay attention. and i found it disturbing that the program just began and people did their readings of their literature and went on as usual. of course this is one way of resisting and asserting that palestinian culture will continue in al quds, in palestine. but at the same time there are ways to connect the literature and the situation a bit more concretely. a couple of writers remarked about the attempt at cultural genocide, but from my perspective it was not enough.

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at least on the walk over and during the readings i got to see and talk a bit to two of my favorite writers who are here for the festival: poets nathalie handal and suheir hammad (suheir above with ahmed). and i cannot wait to hear them read their poetry because this is the real reason i’m so excited about the festival. tomorrow the festival will begin its travels across palestine to ramallah, jenin, beit lahem, khalil for the rest of the week because palestinians cannot travel freely culture must travel to them.

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after the literature festival my friends and i went down to borderline, a palestinian restaurant in sheikh jarrah, to see the hip hop concert. it featured local groups like g town and dam (photo above) and shadia mansour and others from europe and the united states. what is striking is that if we’re talking about cultural resistance the writers who read tonight were not palestinian nor was their literature that they read from particularly political or connected to palestine. and yet the concert went on without any israeli terrorist forces anywhere in the vicinity of the restaurant. here is an older video of shadia mansour and dam at a ramallah concert singing a duet of “bidi salam”:

and here is the ma’an news report on today’s events:

Israeli police and armed border officials shut down the Palestinian National Theater in East Jerusalem on Saturday, in an effort to quash the Palestine Festival of Literature and prevent international writer and poets from addressing Palestinians.

The weeklong festival, sponsored in part by the British Council and UNESCO, was scheduled to begin at 6:30 with two panel discussions by authors from Canada, Britain, South Africa and Australia. The second annual festival will travel around Palestine and decided to begin and end events in Jerusalem in honor of Al-Quds Capital of Culture 2009.

In a last minute effort to let the show go on, organizers moved the event to the French Cultural Center also in East Jerusalem. Audience members crowded on the lawn outside the building as book readings and discussions on the theme of displacement in world literature were interrupted by power cuts and police sirens.

The spectators and litterateurs were greeted at the new event by five Israeli police vehicles stationed outside the garden wall.

According to some reports the initial decision to close down the performance at the National Theater was made at the request of the Israeli Interior Ministry. The move mirrors efforts to quash celebrations of Jerusalem culture for the 2009 Capital of Culture events.

The French consul, as well as Head of the Palestinian President’s office Rafiq Al-Husseini, attended the event. Al-Husseini, as well as the six authors who spoke in an abbreviated format, condemned the Israeli actions.

Al-Husseini also praised France for stepping up to host the event, viewing it as empowering Palestinian demands for reopening closed offices in the capital.

boycott sri lanka

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just as the boycott, divestment, and sanctions campaign against the zionist entity picked up steam after the recent israeli terrorist savagery of gaza, so to have tamils pulled together an economic boycott campaign against sri lanka. you can click on the previous link to find out more about their campaign. their website has a lot of great information on the context of the conflict in sri lanka and about various products to boycott and ways you can help. they also have a list of companies and products to boycott, most of which are related to clothing, which means when you go shopping check your labels to make sure it wasn’t made in sri lanka (or the zionist entity for that matter). and here are their top 10 reasons to boycott sri lanka:

1. More than $4 Billion USD from several countries directly or indirectly assist the Genocidal War
2. Sri Lanka: One of the Top Red Alert Countries for Genocide
3. 250,000+ Civilians Waiting Death due to Blockade of Humanitarian Aid and Military Operations
4. 370,000+ Civilians Killed by Sri Lankan Government Military Operations
5. 150,000+ Civilians are Forcedly Held in Detentions Camps
6. Daily Aerial Bombardment on Safety Zones
7. Sri Lanka: #1 Human Rights Violator in South Asia
8. Sri Lanka: Listed 2nd Worldwide in Disappearances
9. Sri Lanka: Out of 173 Free Nations, 8th Worst In Press Freedom
10. Sri Lanka: Voted off United Nations Humans Rights Council

the no to sri lanka campaign produced a two-part video that encapsulates the orchestrated genocide against the tamil population since england granted independence to the island in 1948:

in the past week there have been a number of egregious developments in sri lanka related to the recent genocide against the tamils and also the crack down on information by the sri lankan government. most recently, they kidnapped three doctors who have shared the atrocities they’ve witnessed with the world since the international media has been barred from covering the conflict as mark tran reports for the guardian:

Human rights groups today called for the immediate release of three doctors amid fears they would be mistreated by the Sri Lankan authorities for giving out information about government shelling and civilian casualties.

The three, who were last seen on Friday in a holding area at a checkpoint, had been working for the government in the conflict zone in north-east Sri Lanka, treating the sick and wounded, until leaving the no-fire zone with about 5,000 other civilians. Their whereabouts are now unknown.

According to a health ministry official, the doctors were detained by the military and turned over to the police, who were inquiring into allegations that the three had disseminated false information.

The government banned independent media from the war zone, so the three – Thurairaja Varatharajah, who is reportedly seriously injured, Thangamuttu Sathyamurthi and V Shanmugarajah – were frequently quoted by the press. Working from hospitals and makeshift medical centres in the war zone, they gave vivid accounts of the suffering of civilians and spoke of the continuous shelling of areas with large concentrations of civilians, despite government denials of the use of heavy artillery.

Physicians for Human Rights, in the US, said it had been told the Sri Lankan government was detaining doctors “incommunicado, possibly in retaliation for adhering to their ethical obligation to protect the lives of their patients in all circumstances”.

tony birtley covered this story on al jazeera as well, although i still find it alarming that al jazeera continues to report that 17,000 “fighters” were killed and refuses to call them civilians:

i’ve been writing about similarities i’ve seen between the situation of the tamils in sri lanka and palestinians in gaza for a while now. there is one striking difference emerging and that is the fact that tamil survivors of this genocide have been interned in prison camps in sri lanka and the government is saying they will remain imprisoned in these camps for 2 years. of course all palestinians in gaza are living in the world’s largest prison. but within that prison there are internationals and palestinians who are doing the best to help the new palestinian refugees. in sri lanka no international aid organizations have access to people imprisoned in these camps nor do other tamil people as gethin chamberlain reports for the guardian:

Many of the quarter of a million people held in internment camps in Sri Lanka face up to two years behind razor wire, a government official said today.

Despite international concern over conditions inside the camps, the defence ministry spokesman, Lakshman Hulugalle, said Sri Lanka was not prepared to let the UN dictate terms over the length of time people could be held.

A UN spokesman, Gordon Weiss, said he was “shocked” at the revelation, which ran counter to previous government assurances.

“It was our understanding that the government was to return 80% of the people to their homes by the end of the year, or at least try to,” said Weiss.

The UN, Britain and human rights groups have been pressing the government in Colombo to release people from the camps as soon as possible. But Hulugalle said: “The UN can’t dictate terms to us. They can always make a request but the UN hasn’t asked us to release people. The government has a plan to resettle them. Let these agencies come and join us.”

Hulugalle said the government had already resettled almost 200,000 people after the east of the country was liberated from Tamil Tiger control. “We were able to resettle them within nine months. This operation will take a little longer – one and a half to two years,” he said.

Some elderly people with close relatives who could look after them had been released, but many others would have to stay behind for up to two years.

Responding to criticism of conditions inside the camps, where detainees have told the Guardian they are short of food, water and medicines, Hulugalle said: “You can’t expect five-star hospitality in an area like that. What we are providing are the basics – security, food, health and schools. These are basic. You can’t expect an Oxford college.”

Hulugalle said the government had turned down an offer of 750 previously used blankets from the Hilton hotel group because people did not want to be treated as second-grade citizens. “They are not beggars,” he said.

The government says it needs to hold the civilians until it can establish whether or not they are Tamil Tigers.

The news came as the Red Cross suspended delivery of supplies to displaced civilians after the Sri Lanka blocked access to camps it controls in the country’s north.

“There is no access to these camps at this particular moment,” said a Red Cross official in Geneva.

as a result of this blockade against giving aid the icrc has now had to suspend its services according to al jazeera:

An international aid group has suspended its aid operations in Sri Lanka due to restrictions placed on it by the government.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) told Al Jazeera on Wednesday, a day after Sri Lanka’s government declared victory over the Tamil Tigers, that “additional restrictions” meant it had no choice but to halt its activities.

About 265,000 ethnic Tamils were displaced in the military’s recent offensive against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, or LTTE, and many of them have been sent to overcrowded camps in the country’s north.

here is a rare eyewitness account inside these concentration camps from the world socialist website:

There are four major detention centres for Tamil civilians at Chettikulam, in an area known as Manik Farm, about 33 kilometres west of Vavuniya. Each camp houses about 40,000 people. A few people we spoke to had been allowed to visit Manik Farm and described them as overcrowded with minimal facilities.

In Vavuniya itself, refugees have been housed in 23 small detention centres established in public schools and other government buildings. Every camp is packed with between 1,000 and 3,000 people. We were able to visit two schools. Both centres were guarded by armed policemen and soldiers. Barbed wire fences have been set up around the camps. Few people are allowed inside. The media is completely barred.

At one school, we could only see the faces of people as we spoke to them across a high, razor-wire topped wall. As we spoke to one person, two children began crying, asking us to take them away from the camp. Inside, up to 40 people are crammed into each school room. Small tents have been erected in school grounds.

From what various people told us, conditions inside the camps are crowded and unhygenic. In some centres, detainees can bathe twice a week. In others, there is not even enough water to wash. There are not enough toilets in any of the camps and hundreds of people have to use one toilet. Infectious diseases, including diarrhea, viral fever and chickenpox, are becoming common.

We were told that hundreds of children had been wounded during the fighting over the no-fire zone. Some had still not been treated. Virtually every family we spoke to had lost at least one member. The trauma of being trapped for months in the war zone is now being compounded by the conditions in the camps. No one can leave. Relatives who visit can only provide a few essentials.

Several older people told us that every day the army seizes young men and women from the camps and takes them away. No one knows where. In some cases, masked informers are used to identify “LTTE suspects”. The military claims that about 3,000 LTTE fighters fled with the civilian refugees.

In every sense, these centres are concentration camps. The armed police and soldiers who zealously guard them, are to not there to “protect” the refugees as the govenment cynically claims, but to prevent anyone from leaving and any information from filtering out.

We tried but were unable to visit Vavuniya general hospital. Armed guards are posted to prevent anyone from entering. Visitors have to nominate a particular patient and are thoroughly checked. Those who had been inside told us that the hospital was overflowing with patients in beds, on the floors, in the corridors and temporarily erected tents.

Several detainees spoke to us about the conditions inside the camps.

A 37-year-old woman was being held at one school with her two children. “We were forced to flee to the army-controlled area due to the intolerable shelling and hunger. We were kept in a school before being brought here.

“[Before we left the no-fire zone], there was a huge blast while an aircraft was flying overhead. A lot of people were wounded or killed, including my husband. My husband was a teacher. Since his death, my children do not talk much. I ask myself why we were left alive. Since we left our home about three months ago we have not had a proper meal.”

She explained that she was afraid the army would drag her way like other young women.

A man in his sixties condemned the government’s claim that the military had been conducting a humanitarian mission to “liberate” Tamil civilians. “No one in the world should have to experience this tragedy,” he said.

He explained that while he and his family were fleeing with others, his wife had been killed in an air strike. His sister and several others died on the way. “I am living to expose these atrocities when I get an opportunity. The security forces think that each and every Tamil is an LTTE member and an enemy,” he said angrily.

Another person explained: “We are herded here like animals and are compelled eat whatever we are provided. We have lost everything. But still we can work. They should allow us to leave and settle in our own places.”

what makes these atrocities possible? well, in spite of the fact that some european union countries are expressing outrage, the fact is that they aided and abetted the sri lankan government in its genocide and now in its concentration camps as leigh phillips reports for the eu observer:

The European Union on Monday (18 May) called for an independent inquiry into alleged human rights violations resulting from the conflict in Sri Lanka and demanded those responsible be held to account.

However, at the same as issuing strong language condemning attacks on civilians, certain EU member states continue to arm the Sri Lankan authorities in breach of the EU’s code of conduct on arms exports, according to the latest data from European governments.

“The EU is appalled by the loss of innocent civilian lives as a result of the conflict and by the high numbers of casualties, including children, following recent intense fighting in northern Sri Lanka,” said European foreign ministers in a statement following a meeting in Brussels on Monday (18 May).

“The EU calls for the alleged violations of these laws to be investigated through an independent inquiry,” the statement continued. “Those accountable must be brought to justice.”

A number of EU member states – including Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, the UK, France, Italy, Lithuania, the Netherlands and Poland – have however continued to arm the Sri Lankan government since the election of hardline president Mahinda Rajapaksa in 2005.

According to the EU’s latest report on arms export licences published in December, the nine governments authorised arm sales licences to Sri Lanka to the value of €4.09 million in 2007, the same year that Colombo launched its final offensive on the Tamil rebels.

The licensed material ranges from small weapons, ammunition and explosives to missiles, ground vehicles, naval vessels and aircraft, with the eastern European member states mainly supplying small arms, while western member states sell the bigger hardware. Additionally, in 2008, Slovakia authorised the sale of 10,000 rockets to the country.

The EU report is compiled annually to ensure that European countries comply with the EU’s Code of Conduct on Arms Exports. Until 2008, the Code had not been legally-binding but instead more of an ethical benchmark for the EU club.

there are some hypocritical americans speaking out about these war crimes, though, of course, they would never–and have never–done the same thing for palestinians despite the fact that the contexts are so very similar. here is the tamil news network report:

Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission of the U.S. House of Representatives in a communication sent to President Obama said that the United States has to take concrete actions to to hold the Sri Lankan state accountable for its actions for rebuffing the international community, and urged the President to instruct the Department of Justice to look into the possible linkage of Sri Lanka officials to crimes committed during the prosecution of the war. The note mentioned Gotabaya Rajapakse, Basil Rajapakse, and Sarath Fonseka as possible perpetrators of war crimes.

“All credible efforts by members of the international community, including those by the United States through our outstanding Ambassador to Sri Lanka, Robert Blake, and those of Britain, France, Norway and the European Union, were either rebuffed or went mostly ignored by the Sri Lankan Government, which has made a determination that it will resolve the issue militarily.

“It has become increasingly obvious that the Sri Lankan government believes that there will be no political price to pay for its impunity. We believe this must change and that there are concrete measures that United States can take right now to hold the Sri Lankan state accountable for its actions, now and in the future,” the communication said.

“[W]e call on you to instruct our Ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, to immediately call for an emergency session of the Security Council to discuss the ongoing situation in Sri Lanka,” the letter added.

“We ask you to publicly instruct the U.S. Executive Director to the IMF to use his voice and vote to suspend any further action on the pending $1.9b loan to Sri Lanka,” the letter further said.

meanwhile jeremy page in the times online takes some of this context and explains this is why the consumer boycott of sri lanka is necessary:

The next time you buy some lingerie, a T-shirt or a pair of rubber gloves, you may want to reflect on this: they were probably made in Sri Lanka. And, like it or not, your purchase plays a role in the debate over how to respond to the Sri Lankan Government’s successful but brutal military campaign against the Tamil Tiger rebels, which reached its bloody climax this week.

Since 2005 Sri Lanka has been allowed to sell garments to the European Union without import tax as part of a scheme designed to help it to recover from the Boxing Day tsunami of 2004. That means its clothes are 10 per cent cheaper than those from China and other competitors – helping the island to earn at least $2.9 billion (£1.9 billion) from the EU annually. Britain accounts for much of that.

Britain has also helped to rebuild Sri Lanka’s tourist industry: Britons accounted for 18.5 per cent of the foreigners who visited the former colony’s famous beaches, wildlife parks, tea plantations and Buddhist temples last year. Only India sends more tourists. Many Britons also own property there, especially around the southern city of Galle, not far from where Arthur C.Clarke, the British science fiction writer who settled in Sri Lanka, used to love to scuba dive.

So the question facing British shoppers and holidaymakers is this: should they continue to support Sri Lanka’s garment and tourist industries? Sadly, the answer must be no.

the “war on terror”: creating refugees one village at a time

tam tam and i have been planning a trip we want to take next summer. we’ve been thinking about where we want to go and who might want to join us. one of the criteria we have agreed on is that the place we go cannot be involved in or complicit with any colonial or imperial adventures. and, as you can imagine, this leaves out a number of places in the world. for instance, in nancy better’s article in the new york times today seems to be reporting that americans should take their summer vacations in the zionist entity (a place where tam tam is not allowed to visit because she is a palestinian refugee in lebanon):

Our Golan Heights excursion unleashed a torrent of questions about the war for independence and Israel’s 1948 declaration of statehood. We found answers at the Ayalon Institute, formerly a clandestine munitions factory built by the Haganah (the pre-independence armed forces) under a kibbutz near Tel Aviv. Restored and opened to the public, the institute is not mentioned in many guidebooks and gets little press. Yet Charlie — who devours detective novels and has twice toured the International Spy Museum in Washington — declared it his favorite site.

The place conveys a real sense of danger; had the Haganah members been discovered, they would have been hanged. The factory operations were concealed by a bakery and laundry; a 10-ton oven and a large washing machine hid entrances to the shop floor, which housed as many as 50 workers who, at the peak, produced 40,000 bullets a day. The noise of the washing machines camouflaged the din of the manufacturing process below ground.

David was especially fascinated by the sunlamps that munitions workers used to get an artificial tan. “It’s like an alibi,” our guide explained. “They pretended to leave the kibbutz each morning to work on a neighboring farm and then they sneaked back into the factory to make bullets. People would be suspicious if they looked too pale.”

Next we traveled to Akko, site of a medieval Crusaders’ fortress and later an Ottoman citadel. When the Turks were defeated by the British in 1918, the fortress became a high-security prison that held Jewish freedom fighters. Today the Underground Prisoners Memorial Museum pays tribute to them. A gloomy, ominous air hangs over the prison cells, with their thick stone walls, iron bars and narrow windows. Our group was mesmerized by the gallows room, with a noose centered over a trapdoor in the floor.

the above is just a sample of what the article says. you may click the link and read the entire piece and in it you will not find one use of the word palestine or palestinian. there’s no mention of the fact that akka is a palestinian city and that those so-called “jewish freedom fighters” were and are terrorists who massacred palestinians, stole their land, and created 750,000 refugees. there is no mention of syria either in their little excursion to occupied golan.

conversely, adrian bridge’s recent article in the telegraph on sri lankan tourism talks about the tamils, although as if they are only resistance fighters and not a massive civilian population massacred and made into refugees:

With the fighting still fresh, outrage over the number of civilians killed and fears that pockets of Tamil Tiger fighters may continue with terrorist attacks, the Foreign Office continues to advise against all travel to the north and east of Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka travel experts, however, hope that in the long term, the ending of the 26-year-long civil war will signal a fresh start for tourism in what is potentially one of the most attractive holiday destinations in Asia.

“This is a good step forward but we have to be cautiously optimistic; there is still a lot of work to be done to bring about a true peace,” said Jean-Marc Flambert, who promotes a number of hotels in Sri Lanka.

“But in fact the best beaches on the island are on the east coast. Also, with the rainy season there coming at a different time to the rain in the south and west it could turn Sri Lanka into a year round destination.”

the above link came to me via the amazing rapper @_m_i_a_ on twitter (aka maya arulpragasam) and her perfect tweet in response to the article was:

I SAY YEAH … IF U like swimming in blood and hiking and biking on mass graves and eating chemically contaminated fried fish for lunch.

the problem with this story about sri lanka and its war against a civilian tamil population is that even news sources like al jazeera continue to report in a decidedly biased way. take this report by tony birtley on al jazeera today in which he says that 17,000 tamil fighters were killed:

tamil net gives us rather different figures:

Sea Tiger Special Commander of the LTTE, Col. Soosai Sunday noon said that around 25,000 civilians injured in the artillery attack of Sri Lanka Army are dead and dying now without receiving medical attention. The LTTE has repeatedly requested the ICRC through Mr. Pathmanathan to evacuate the injured through Vadduvaakal or Iraddaivaaikkaal, but there was no IC response. Within a 2 square kilometre area, there are dead bodies everywhere while the remaining thousands are in bunkers amidst the use of every kind of weapon by Colombo’s forces. The SLA is not even allowing the people to flee but prefers to fire at them, Soosai said.

for people who want some background on the conflict al jazeera put up a time line on their website starting from sri lanka’s independence from british rule–1948 (yes, the british “leave” one colony and ensure the existence of a new one in the same year)–through the recent genocide. additionally the conversation on democracy now! yesterday between anjali kamat and ahilan kadirgamar that provided some context that doesn’t demonize tamils seeking liberation:

i think that the above interview is important for the way it reveals the orwellian language used by the sri lankan government in which internment camps become “welfare centers.” all of this has been enhanced and made possible by the u.s. exporting of the so-called “war on terror” in which any government wanting to clamp down on resistance groups can commit massacres and genocide and get away with it.

suren surendiran’s article in the guardian today gives us some further context and a broader understanding of the toll this has taken on the tamil people of sri lanka:

Sri Lankan military killed thousands of Tamil civilians over the past few months (not to mention the years before) using the full might of its fire power by way of artillery and air strikes. It has, with intent, starved its own people by refusing to send food and medicine in sufficient quantities and in adequate frequencies.

Crucially, this genocide by the Sri Lankan state has been enabled by the international community, including Britain.

What is deeply disappointing is the fact that powerful liberal states which have long espoused human rights, the Geneva conventions and, most recently, the responsibility to protect, have all allowed thousands of innocent lives to be lost unnecessarily and with full knowledge.

The slaughter went on every day, with many women and children being killed not just by the shelling but due to starvation and lack of medical care. Yet the international response, especially those of the UN and western liberal states, has been pathetic. Mere statements after statements were released by heads of states like Gordon Brown and Barack Obama and institutions such as the UN, EU and various non-governmental organisations such as Amnesty, HRW and Crisis Group. No one showed real leadership in stopping this genocide which took place in broad daylight.

Even now thousands of displaced young Tamils are being abducted and disappeared, the wounded and injured are not given medical care and families are separated and abused in overcrowded barbed-wire-fenced camps. Thousands are still lining up at check points which have no independent observers present. International media has no way of reporting without government interference.

Sri Lanka is conducting this war beyond its means. Its economy is in a mess due to mismanagement, as stated by the World Bank. Sri Lanka’s Central Bank is seeking an emergency loan from the IMF due to its fast depleting reserves. Yet, year on year defence budget has been consistently rising by huge percentages. Regional powers and others have assisted financially and otherwise to continue with this government’s war with its own people. Unemployed youth from Sri Lanka’s rural south who could be put to more constructive development use were being used for destruction and killing.

Pretending to promote human rights and high moral values, western governments are turning a blind eye to the state terrorism in Sri Lanka, but also incentivising such horrendous violations by granting large sums in loans and grants. Hypocrisy of the international community is obvious as they argue any sanctions against such financial assistance will hurt the wider economy of Sri Lanka. The same wasn’t true it seems for the poor Zimbabweans or the Palestinians of Gaza City.

of course, i wrote the other day about the zionist entity providing sri lanka with its weapons in order to carry out this genocide. the genocide may be over in sri lanka, but the trauma will not be over for a long time. nor will the refugees lead a normal life for some time to come either. and while this massive refugee crisis comes to a head the one in pakistan just continues to worsen also because of a so-called “war on terror” instigated by americans. unhcr is now reporting that refugees may be reaching 1 million:

The number of displaced people registered since May 2 by authorities with help from UNHCR climbed above the 1 million mark over the weekend and continues to rise rapidly. Most of the displaced are staying with relatives or friends, placing huge economic and social strains on the country. More than 130,000 others are staying in camps supported by UNHCR. The 1.17 million recently registered join another 555,000 Pakistanis displaced in earlier fighting since last August.

and for those who need reminding that this is a united states-made war on the civilian population of pakistan, the u.s. bombed the region yet again this week as alamgir bitani reported in the independent:

A bomb blew up in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar on today killing 10 people, hours after a suspected US drone aircraft fired missiles at militants in another region on the Afghan border and killed 10.

The violence came as the Pakistani military battled Taliban militants in a northwestern valley in an offensive that has forced more than 900,000 people from their homes.

The blast in Peshawar blew up a passing school bus and city police chief Sifwat Ghayyur said four children and two women were among the dead.

“It was a remote controlled bomb. Ten people have been killed and 18 wounded,” Ghayyur told Reuters.

according to mainstream american news media, they are praising these actions in pakistan calling them “effective” on cnn as reported in common dreams:

U.S. airstrikes aimed at al Qaeda leaders in Pakistan have been “very effective,” with few civilian deaths as a result, CIA Director Leon Panetta said Monday in a rare public acknowledgment of the raids.

Asked about criticism of the missile attacks by counterinsurgency experts, Panetta said he did not want to discuss specifics, “but I can assure you that in terms of that particular area, it is very precise and is very limited in terms of collateral damage.”

“Very frankly, it’s the only game in town in terms of confronting or trying to disrupt the al Qaeda leadership,” Panetta told the Pacific Council on International Policy in Los Angeles.

i just wonder what is effective about creating 1 million refugees? bombing civilian villages? sowing the seeds of future generations who will seek justice for sure and perhaps vengeance. though who knows because the media campaign in pakistan seems to be as mythologizing as the american media with respect to distancing the war from the united states as declan walsh reported in the guardian the other day:

The human exodus from the war-torn Swat valley in northern Pakistan is turning into the world’s most dramatic displacement crisis since the Rwandan genocide of 1994, the UN refugee agency warned.

Almost 1.5 million people have registered for assistance since fighting erupted three weeks ago, the UNHCR said, bringing the total number of war displaced in North West Frontier province to more than 2 million, not including 300,000 the provincial government believes have not registered. “It’s been a long time since there has been a displacement this big,” the UNHCR’s spokesman Ron Redmond said in Geneva, trying to recall the last time so many people had been uprooted so quickly. “It could go back to Rwanda.”

The army reported fierce clashes across Swat, a tourist haven turned Taliban stronghold. After a week of intense aerial bombardment with fighter jets and helicopter gunships the army has launched a ground offensive to drive out the militants to rout the militants from the valley. Commandos pushed through the remote Piochar valley, seizing a training centre and killing a dozen Taliban, a military spokesman, Major General Athar Abbas, said. Gun battles erupted in several villages surrounding Mingora, Swat’s main town. Abbas said the military had killed 27 militants, including three commanders, and lost three members of the security forces. The figures could not be verified, as Swat has been largely cut off since the operation started.

The Taliban leader in Swat, Maulana Fazlullah, remains at large. His spokesman vowed the rebels would fight until their “last breath”.

The operation continues to enjoy broad public support. Opposition parties endorsed the action at a conference called by the government, dispelling the notion that the army was fighting “America’s war”.

farooq sulehria has a great piece in dissident voice on the way that this media and military campaign has been playing out in pakistan, and here is the upshot:

Over 700 people have been killed in U.S. drone attacks on Pakistan since 2006, with 164 killed in 14 attacks under Obama’s watch. These drone attacks are further fueling anti-U.S. sentiments.

Instead of finding an exit strategy in Afghanistan, the Obama administration is practicing an Iraq-style surge. But it is U.S. presence in the region that will sustain the conditions that breed Talbanisation. The longer the USA stays in Afghanistan, the longer the Taliban’s defeat will be delayed and the suffering of the poor masses prolonged. For those lucky enough to survive bombs dropped by the Pakistan military in Swat, they will also have to deal with the possibility of having their throats slit by Taliban hit squads. Or they have the option to become refugees in their own country.

and just like the american support for the zionist entity when it gives it massive bombs to pound gaza (which it is doing as i type, by the way) and then gives money to rebuild gaza (which it only pledged, it never actually gave the money), the americans are paying to bomb pakistan and now paying to supposedly help the refugees:

Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, has pledged $110m in humanitarian aid to Pakistan as part of Washington’s new strategy for helping Islamabad counter Taliban’s growing influence.

Clinton announced the aid package during a press conference at the White House on Tuesday.

She said the money is meant to ease the plight of at least two million Pakistanis who have fled fighting in the country’s Swat valley and are living in squalid tent cities.

US officials said $100m in aid would flow from Clinton’s state department and the other $10m will come from the defence department.