Archive | May 26th, 2013

Zio-NATO Puppets not committed to peace

NOVANEWS

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov
Russia says militants fighting against the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad are not committed to peace.

“We expect various opposition groups would react in a constructive way. So far, however, the news is discouraging,” Lavrov said during a meeting with Syrian First Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Miqdad in Moscow on Wednesday.

“The situation urges for an immediate stop of fighting and the start of a political dialogue,” Lavrov said, adding that the future of Syria must be decided by Syrians themselves.

Meanwhile, in a communiqué issued after a meeting of the so-called Friends of Syria in the Jordanian capital Amman, the alliance said it would “further increase their support for the opposition and take all other steps as necessary.”

The Syria crisis began in March 2011, and many people, including large numbers of soldiers and security personnel, have been killed in the violence.

The Syrian government says that the chaos is being orchestrated from outside the country, and there are reports that a very large number of the militants are foreign nationals.

Damascus says the West and its regional allies, such as Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey, are supporting the militants.

In an interview recently broadcast on Turkish television, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said that if the militants take power in Syria, they could destabilize the entire Middle East region for decades.

“If the unrest in Syria leads to the partitioning of the country, or if the terrorist forces take control… the situation will inevitably spill over into neighboring countries and create a domino effect throughout the Middle East and beyond,” he stated.

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Zio-Nazi/American Backed Syrian Zio-NATO Threaten to Wipe Out Shiite, Alawite Towns

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syrianrats

bloomberg.com

Communities inhabited by Shiite Muslims and President Bashar al-Assad’s Alawite minority will be “wiped off the map” if the strategic city of Al-Qusair in central Syria falls to government troops, rebel forces said.

“We don’t want this to happen, but it will be a reality imposed on everyone,” Colonel Abdel-Hamid Zakaria, a spokesman for the Free Syrian Army in Turkey, told Al-Arabiya television yesterday. “It’s going to be an open, sectarian, bloody war to the end.”

Fighter planes and heavy artillery pounded the city today, the U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said in an e-mail. It said two people were killed during clashes between rebels and government troops backed by Hezbollah fighters, bringing the death toll from clashes at Al-Qusair in the last three days to more than 90.

Al-Qusair is close to the highway linking Damascus to the coast and has been a conduit for weapons from Lebanon to the rebels. The government offensive began with attacks on villages on the city’s outskirts last month.

Bassam al-Dada, a political adviser to the Free Syrian Army, said from Istanbul yesterday that Assad’s forces were still at the outskirts of the city. “Our people are still fighting inside and very strongly, but it’s not an easy situation,” he said.

‘Major Setback’

“Failure to hold the town would be a major setback for opposition forces, impacting their ability to maintain clear lines of supply between safe havens in Lebanon and combat units in Syria,” said David Hartwell, senior Middle East analyst at IHS Jane’s.

The conflict in Syria, which began in March 2011, is increasingly dividing the country and the surrounding region along religious lines.

The Shiite Lebanese militia Hezbollah and Shiite-led Iran have been key allies of the Assad government, whose upper ranks come from the Alawite sect, derived from Shiite Islam. Leaders of the rebel army and political opposition are mostly Sunni, and they are backed by key Sunni powers including Saudi Arabia and Turkey.

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince and Minister of Defense Salman Bin Abdul Aziz is in Turkey to meet President Abdullah Gul and Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu today, according to Turkey’s state-run Anatolia news agency. The trip comes days after Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan met U.S. President Barack Obama.

Emergency Meeting

The Arab League will hold an emergency meeting today to discuss Syria at the request of Qatar,Egypt’s state-run Middle East News Agency reported. Talks will focus on Al-Qusair and the participation of Hezbollah and the Iranian Revolutionary Guards in the fighting, the agency cited an unidentified league official as saying. Hezbollah is backed by Iran and is classified as a terrorist group by Israel and the U.S.

Hezbollah’s open involvement in the Syrian crisis is worrying because it pits the militia against Sunni extremist groups, according to Hartwell.

“While it may suit states such as Qatar, Saudi Arabia and even the United States to see this type of sectarian conflict develop as a means of retarding the regional influence of Iran (via Hezbollah) and al-Qaeda, the results in terms of long-term regional instability could be dramatic,” Hartwell said in an e-mailed note.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is returning to the Middle East this week and is seeking to promote peace talks. Syrian opposition leaders, due to meet May 23 in Istanbul to choose a new leader, have rejected attendance at any peace conference that includes Assad or his inner circle.

The Syrian uprising began with peaceful protests that evolved into a civil war after the government began attacking the demonstrators. Radical Islamists, some with ties to al-Qaeda, have since joined the fight against Assad.

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No Fear–Memory Adjustment Pills Get Pentagon Push

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wired.com

The Pentagon hasn’t come close to solving the PTSD crisis plaguing the current generation of troops. But a cutting-edge realm of treatment might change that — by wiping away the fear that military personnel associate with traumatic memories.

The Pentagon this week announced an $11 million grant for three research institutions, all of them long-time hubs for the military’s ongoing PTSD investigations. Experts at Emory University, the University of Southern California and New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center will study the effectiveness of D-Cycloserine (DCS). DCS is a pharmaceutical thought to help extinguish fearful memories. It’s usually taken right before exposure therapy, a process that involves recalling traumatic experiences in an effort to nullify the menacing associations that accompany them.

“We already know that exposure therapy is an effective [therapy] for PTSD, and we want to figure out how to optimize it,” Dr. Barbara Rothbaum, who will lead the Emory team’s research, told Danger Room. “I really think that this study will move beyond the theoretical. We can rescue people.”

Exposure therapy is thought to work by allowing patients to revisit traumas in safe settings. Every time the mind remembers an event, it “rewrites” that recollection. By helping a patient rewrite traumatic memories to be less frightening, studies suggest that exposure therapy can significantly improve symptoms like nightmares and flashbacks.

Adding DCS seems to hasten that process, targeting the precise brain pathways responsible for regulating fear responses. 

Researchers will look at two different kinds of exposure therapy: Virtual reality, where a patient is fully immersed in digital combat scenarios, and prolonged imaginal exposure therapy, which asks them to simply remember and recount fearful memories. A total of 300 patients, all of them veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan, will partake. They’ll undergo seven individual weekly sessions of one of the therapies. Before each session, half will receive DCS, and the rest will get a placebo.

Experts have already spent plenty of time figuring out how DCS works. It’s been around since the 1960s, when it was used to treat tuberculosis. Now, however, researchers are more excited about the drug’s potential ability to alleviate symptoms of depression, schizophrenia, obsessive-compulsive disorder and, of course, PTSD — without a lifetime of pill-popping.

“Most drugs, you dose every day,” Rothbaum says. “But DCS is only useful during exposure therapy, so you’re taking the drug right before the session. And when your series of sessions end, the medication ends too.”

DCS seems to enhance the brain’s learning process. For PTSD treatment, the drug could, ostensibly, help patients more quickly internalize that, say, driving down a suburban American highway is far different — and less dangerous — than driving on a Baghdad street. The drug also binds to receptors in the amygdala, the region of the brain that governs fear response. So by blocking out fearful reactions while a patient revisits trauma, experts think DCS can, literally, “extinguish” fear right at the source.

Emory researchers have already tried using DCS and virtual reality in humans with PTSD, fear of heights and obsessive compulsive disorder. Since 2006, Rothbaum and a team of experts have been comparing exposure therapy, used along with DCS, Xanax or placebo, in patients. “Results so far are positive,” Rothbaum says, though they haven’t finished analyzing the data.

That said, results from some other human studies on DCS aren’t encouraging. Just last year, several disappointing trials using DCS were presented by researchers assembled at the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies conference. “The early results are not as positive as we [had] hoped,” noted Dr. Charles Marmar, head of the psychiatry department at NYU, of his team’s study that combined DCS with cognitive behavioral therapy.

But even a glimmer of hope seems to be enough for the Pentagon. So far, what they’ve tried to treat PTSD — which afflicts at least 250,000 of this generation’s soldiers — isn’t working. Conventional approaches, like antidepressants and behavioral therapy, have been a massive failure. So it makes sense that military officials are increasingly open to out-there ideas: They’re already funding research into yoga and acupunctureneck injections and “digital dream” computer programs — although promising approaches taking advantage of “illicit” substances, like marijuana and ecstasy, have thus far been nixed.

Of course, this latest study will be bigger and more thorough than its failed predecessors. It also builds on years of animal research suggesting that DCS has potential. And there’s no doubt the project is calling on some of the Pentagon’s top civilian scientists. Dr. Rothbaum has been evaluating PTSD treatments, including preliminary studies on DCS, for decades. And Dr. Albert “Skip” Rizzo, from the University of Southern California, pioneered the use of virtual reality therapy to mitigate PTSD symptoms.

Not to mention that this research team will also be conducting genetic tests on every patient. In particular, they’ll be looking at a gene dubbed “BDNF.” Experts already know that a variant of the BDNF gene can make fear extinction tougher. By comparing patient results to genes, Rothbaum says they hope to “figure out what’s the best treatment approach, and whether DCS can really rescue those patients, where maybe therapy alone can’t.”

Of course, the idea of using drugs to tweak memories isn’t without controversy: An online debate flared last year among two camps of neurologists and neuroethicists, arguing over whether the existence of such drugs would “alter something that makes us all human,” or open a Pandora’s Box of illicit use “by people doing things they’d like to forget themselves, or that they would like others to forget.”

Then again, those debates hinge on DCS, or some other memory extinguisher, actually working. DCS’s efficacy is far from proven. And earlier research efforts that tested supposed “fear-extinguishing” drugs, most notably a series of much-touted, Pentagon-funded studies on Propanolol at Harvard, have all been disappointments.

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A US Senate panel votes to arm foreign-backed Zio-NATO Rat’s in Syria

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Sen. Robert Menendez, democratic chairman of the Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee

Sen. Robert Menendez, democratic chairman of the Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee
A US Senate panel has voted in favor of a bill authorizing the government to provide foreign sponsored militants in Syria with lethal weapons and military training.

On Tuesday, democratic chairman of the Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee, Sen. Robert Menendez, introduced the bill which authorizes the US government to directly back foreign sponsored militant groups with arms.

The bill, which also authorizes a 250-million dollar fund to help the transition of the Syrian government, was supported by both the Democrats and Republicans with a 15-3 vote.

To take effect, the bill needs to be approved by the entire Senate and the House and signed by President Obama. This is the first time Washington directly supports the foreign sponsored militants.

“Vital national interests are at stake and we cannot watch from the sidelines,” Menendez said.

This comes while Sen. Mark Udall (D., Colo.) warned his fellow senators of the dangers of arming rebel forces whose intentions are unknown, saying “I think we have to ask the question, who are we arming?”

“To tell you the truth, I don’t think we know who we’re arming. The truth is it changes every day,” he added.

The crisis in Syria began in March 2011, and many people, including large numbers of Syrian soldiers and security personnel, have been killed in the violence.

The Syrian government says the chaos is being orchestrated from outside the country, and there are reports that a very large number of the militants are foreign nationals.

On Saturday, President Bashar al-Assad said militants from 29 different countries are fighting against the government in Syria. He stated that foreign intervention is the most important factor aggravating the situation in his country.

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Final Communiqué of the Conference “Peoples Want Peace”

The conference entitled “Peoples Want Peace”, organized by the World Peace Council and the Peace Association of Turkey, concluded successfully with the participation of more than 20 national peace committees and international organizations, peace-loving journalists and artists in Istanbul and Antakya from 25th to 29th April 2013 (*).
24 MAY 2013

*The conference program included debate sessions in Istanbul, contacts with peace loving forces of Turkey such as trade unions and mass organizations and a peace concert in Antakya which has turned to be the largest anti-war demonstration in the region for solidarity with the people of Syria.

* The conference took place during a period of growing aggressiveness of imperialism and intra-imperialist contradictions, for the sake of control of energy resources and pipelines, as well as spheres of influence in the broader Middle East. The conference stated that the actions of imperialism for hegemony in the world and, in particular, in the Middle East are the main reason behind all the conflicts, tensions and wars in the region. Despite the antagonisms and rivalries imperialists are hand in hand in the attack against peoples’ rights and peace. The imperialism of the U.S., the E.U. and the NATO, along with the pro-imperialist reactionary regimes of the region share common responsibility for the crimes against the peoples of the region. Our conference is in solidarity with and salutes all the popular forces, peace movements, oppressed peoples who resist the provocations, threats and warmongering of the imperialists and their collaborators in the world and especially in the region.

* The fact that the NATO recently set up new radar facilities and installed Patriot missiles in Turkey, have been dangerous steps for the peace in the region and in the world. Instead of reinforcing NATO in the region, we call upon all peoples and countries to raise their voice and get rid of it.

* Imperialism in the Middle East instigates and uses the Islamic inter-sect conflicts and within this context supports the religious fundamentalist provocative organizations by supporting any kind of cloaks of the war drive forces under the pretext of “humanitarian intervention”.

* We believe in the absolute right of the Syrian people, who suffer from subversive attacks and terrorist actions supported by imperialism and the reactionary regimes of the region, to determine their political path and leadership without any foreign interference. The people of Syria may exercise this right only if they terminate the foreign-backed military and political interventions. The conference declares complete and unreserved solidarity with the people of Syria, its demands for economic, political and social changes and calls upon the involved parties to solve the conflict through negotiations, nevertheless recognizing the right of self-defense of Syria.

* Our conference states that, along with the other regimes in the region, mainly Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Israel, the current government of Turkey commits a crime against humanity in Syria in collaboration with the imperialist forces as USA, EU and organizations like NATO, having thousands of innocent civilians as their victims. The conference forewarns the government of Turkey to stop these prevailing policies.

* The international conference “Peoples Want Peace” calls upon anti-imperialist forces, peace-lovers, honest jurists, intellectuals and journalists to step forward to create an international non-governmental war crimes initiative to investigate the crimes against the Syrian people. Furthermore, the conference has decided to enforce the communication and networking in order to counteract the imperialist and reactionary black propaganda, foremost, on Syria.

* The international conference welcomes the resistance and struggle of the people of Turkey against inter-sect religious conflicts and warmongers and declares its solidarity with the forces of peace.

* The conference attaches importance to the cessation of warfare with regards to the Kurdish Question, which has caused irreparable sufferings for decades. However, it is noted that the frame proposed by the government of Turkey as solution for the Kurdish question fits “religionization” of the whole society and the region, and implies changes of the borders which will necessarily cause new conflicts in the Middle East.

* Our conference underlines the demand that the Middle East be purged from imperialist powers and nuclear weapons. We, once again, underline the position of the World Peace Council for the question of Palestine to be solved in accordance with the relevant resolutions of the UN and the establishment of the independent State of Palestine within the borders of 1967 and East Jerusalem as its capital, that Israel should respect the international agreements, abolish the siege of the Gaza Strip, and cease the occupation of the Syrian Golan heights and the Lebanese Shebaa farms.

* “The Peoples Want Peace” Conference calls for a nuclear weapons -free Middle East, including known nuclear weapons as in the case of Israel and unknown ones as in the case of NATO settings in Turkey.

* Keeping the consciousness about the risks of the use of nuclear energy, that have been experienced through recent tragic accidents, we state that every country has the right to freely choose the technique of producing energy and that the nuclear energy programs cannot be a reason for allegations or threats against any country. Thus we declare our solidarity with the people of Iran who resist the imperialist threats. On the other hand we declare our solidarity with the working men and women of Iran in their struggle for freedom and democracy, social and economic rights. We also condemn the economic sanctions applied by the US and EU upon Iran, under the pretext of its nuclear program, but in fact penalizing the large masses, and demand the abolition of all sanctions.

* Our conference protests the attempts for affiliation of Cyprus to NATO using the economic crisis as additional pretext for it. We support the solution of bi–zonal bi–communal Federation with political equality, as set forth in the UN Resolutions regarding Cyprus, top level agreements between the leaders of two communities in 1977 and 1979 and the principles of International Law.

* Our conference, which gathered in Istanbul and Antakya on 25-29 April, once more, declares its solidarity with all the forces of peace which struggle against imperialism and war, with all poor and oppressed who fight against imperialist wars and exploitation.

World Peace Council-Peace Association of Turkey
7 May 2013

Participants of the Conference

US Peace Council

Brazilian Center for the defense of solidarity and the struggle for peace

Greek Committee for International Detente and Peace

National Peace Council of Syria

Swedish Peace Council

Free-thinkers Association, Germany

International Association of Democratic Lawyers

World Federation of Trade Unions

European Peace Forum, Ukrain Anti-fascist Committee

Belgrade Forum for a World of Equals

Frankfurt Solidarity Committee for Syria

Palestinian Committee for Peace and Solidarity

Jordanian Peace and Solidarity Council

Jordanian-Syrian Solidarity Committee

Global Network against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space

Working Circle for Peace Policy, Germany

Lebanonese Peace Committee

Association for the Defense of Peace, Solidarity and Democracy of Iran

Peace Association of Turkey

World Peace Council

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Top 10 Western ‘hits’ on Syria

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Syrian soldiers patrol the Sheik Said neighborhood of Aleppo.

Syrian soldiers patrol the Sheik Said neighborhood of Aleppo.
By Finian Cunningham

While Western politicians make unfounded allegations against Iran over military assistance to Syria, these same politicians appear to be blind when it comes to the well-founded knowledge that American and British troops are running training camps in terror techniques for the extremists ripping Syrian society apart.”

Listening to Western “governments” – otherwise known as criminal regimes led by war criminals – pontificating and pronouncing on Syria is like riding a rollercoaster of hilarity, absurdity and downright lies.

A selection of the “best”, that is, the worst, of these Western talking points has been compiled below into a top 10 Western ‘hits’.

This list is by no means complete or in order of importance. Press TV readers are invited to add more in the comments section below this column.

It has to be said, however, that this is no laughing matter; more a heart-crying shame, given the massive unnecessary human suffering that these criminal Western regimes are inflicting on a sovereign people and country over the past two years, with a total death toll of nearly 80,000 and counting – most of them civilians, men, women and children.

The rollercoaster of depravity seems to be gathering dizzying speed as the so-called international peace conference in Geneva looms sometime over the next few weeks. This is the political confabulation allegedly aimed at finding a negotiated peace settlement between the government of President Bashar al-Assad and members of the Syrian so-called “opposition”.

Supported by Iran, Russia and China, these aforementioned governments can be appraised as honest brokers in trying to find a peaceful solution to the Syrian crisis. This is because their collective position is eminently reasonable, making no preconditions on the outcome and promoting a genuine dialogue between the Syrian people.

However, the same cannot be said for that other sponsor of the Geneva event, the United States, and its NATO allies, Britain and France, along with their regional Turk, Arab and Israeli puppets.

Here follows a recent selection of their dubious credentials and duplicities – a top 10 – which taken together does not augur well for a successful peace settlement to end Syria’s torment.

1. US, Britain and France arming up for peace

All three rogue states are now openly saying that they will escalate the supply of weapons to their proxy mercenary army of “rebels” in Syria if the Syrian government does not “get serious” about negotiating a “peaceful settlement”. The more relevant question is: are these Western regimes “serious about peace”?

It rather sounds like the Western powers are trying to hold a gun to Damascus’ head and demanding that it sign up to Western terms for “political transition”, that is, regime change. Note that US Secretary of State John Kerry is now backing Britain and France in their attempt to scrap the European Union’s embargo on weapons sales to Syria.

That embargo is, of course, a ridiculous charade anyway, as all of the three above Western regimes have been funneling “non-lethal” weapons and other military support to their proxy mercenaries via the conduits of Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. But what the latest thinly veiled threat of aggression from the US, Britain and France portends is that if the Geneva summit does not go according to their geopolitical objectives of regime change in Damascus, they will then flood Syria with even more killing power. Perhaps also “no-fly zones” and Western boots on the ground.

The British Guardian newspaper quotes UK foreign minister William Hague’s spellbinding cynicism: “We have to be open to every way of strengthening moderates and saving lives.” So, in Hague’s warped world, giving anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles to the Western-backed terrorists running amok in Syria will lead to peace and save lives.

Hague, Kerry and their French counterpart Laurent Fabius should be prosecuted for war crimes and crimes against peace, indicted on their own words, instead of being indulged as statesmen.

2. Western unelected minions make demands on sovereign Syrian government

As it turns out, Syria’s government has quickly responded to declare its willing participation in the Geneva peace summit next month. The Assad administration has even nominated possible negotiators, including the Syrian Information Minister Omran al-Zoubi. Meanwhile, the Western and Arab patronized exile group, the so-called Syrian National Coalition, with their American-educated accents and predilection for luxurious Qatari hotel suites, are pooh-poohing whether to even attend the Geneva conference. The SNC leader Ghassan Hitto, a Texan-based Syrian businessman, is being groomed as “premier-in-waiting”, but like many of his exile cronies, he has no popular base or mandate from the Syrian people. This is the same offshore foreign party that is demanding that President Assad abandons his office forthwith and takes refuge in some overseas land.

This Western political excrescence imposed on Syria is distinct from the genuine internal political opposition within Syria. There are legitimate voices for political reforms within Syria, whom the Damascus government has recognized as necessary for a national dialogue to advance Syrian society. But this legitimate opposition is ignored by the Western regimes. Wonder why?

3. EU funds al­-Qaeda

This shocker follows the news that the European 27-nation bloc is to end its embargo on the sale of oil from Syria that is under the control of the mercenaries. It is a deliberate and stated EU policy to help boost the war chest for the militants. So who are these “deserving rebels”?

More than 100 militant groups are believed to be operating in Syria, which have come from nearly 30 countries, including Libya, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, the Russian Caucus, Qatar, Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, as well as Britain and France. Most of these groups are self-styled Jihadists who claim to be Muslim, but in reality are nothing more than psychopathic terrorists, cutthroats, rapists and opportunistic bandits. The name “Free Syrian Army”, supposedly led by the tin-pot Brigadier General Salim Idriss, is in fact a baseless hologram that the Western sponsors of these proxy terrorists use to create the illusion that the Western, Turk and Arab regimes are supporting “moderates” with a “good cause”. That’s why these “moderates” set off no-warning car bombs to kill and maim “fellow Syrians” or mutilate and cannibalize corpses.

The West’s proxy terrorists have gloated in the most unspeakable cruelties against Syrian civilians and consistent with this vile conduct is their proclaimed affiliation with the Wahhabi al-Qaeda network. This is the clandestine network created and trained by Western military intelligence, funded by Saudi oil money, to carry out global operations of terrorism and destabilization, most notoriously the 9/11 attacks in the US.

Thus while instigating a fake global “war on terror” cover for ruling elites to hijack and ransack democracies, including their own, the US taxpayers have been saddled with $6 trillion in debts from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq – just those two criminal genocidal wars alone – according to a recent Harvard University study.

After all this expenditure to “defeat” terrorism, the European Union is proposing to pay these same terrorists for the oil that they can loot from the fields and people of Syria. Meanwhile, the EU maintains economic sanctions on the Syrian government, depriving citizens of badly needed welfare and services. Whoops, the rollercoaster just did a loop-the-loop.

4. Israel provides air force for al-Qaeda

When the Israeli air force hit Damascus earlier this month, the al-Qaeda extremists on the ground were reportedly ecstatic over the attack on an Arab country by the Arab-land-thieving Zionist regime.

The strikes were also in part timed and designed to provide air support for these same mercenaries trying to make military headway against Damascus. This has got to be the apogee of absurdity in the Syrian conflict. The Zionist regime has been telling the world ever since its criminal inception in 1948 that it is living under an existential threat from Arab revenge. Yet this same self-pitying genocidal regime teams up with the most extreme and deformed Arab Wahhabi ideologues and throat-slitters. That really shows that the Western-backed Zionist and Wahhabi despots are one and the same.

5. West goes to war in Africa, but supports same terrorists in Syria

France, supported by the US and Britain, is still conducting a war of conquest in the West African country of Mali. This was justified by President Francois Hollande as an intervention to wrest control of northern Mali from “Islamist extremists”. The French media helped in this duplicity by reporting on “floggings, amputations and prohibitions on civil freedoms” under “Sharia law” imposed by militants in northern Mali before the French invasion. But when reports and video footage emerged this week of similar barbarities being imposed in the self-styled “emirates” of northern Syria by Western-backed Al-Qaeda groups, Hollande and his Western allies had nothing to say about that. Indeed, the Western regimes want to impose “no-fly zones” in those Syrian areas “liberated” by extremists, so that they are more free to extend their reign of terror on Syrian civilians.

6. West accuses Russia of “destabilizing” Syria and the region

Washington’s John Kerry this week castigated Moscow for going ahead with the supply to Syria of the Russian-made S-300 anti-aircraft defense system. This followed the same protest from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Russian President Vladimir Putin. These statements have surely got to qualify Western politicians as certifiable for a mental hospital. The destabilization of Syria and the entire region is a verifiable result of institutionalized violence emanating from Washington, London, Paris and Tel Aviv. Only a few weeks ago, the Zionist regime perpetrated yet another war crime by launching its third air strike on Damascus since January – acts of aggression countenanced by Washington. The Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov displayed charitable patience when he explained to the Western imbeciles the probity, and indeed necessity, of the S-300 batteries. “The system is sent to countries that need to defend themselves from air strikes,” said Lavrov. Don’t count on the Western imbeciles comprehending that simple truth.

Meanwhile, the Americans, British and French are flogging billions-of-dollars-worth of fighter-bombers, tanks and missiles to Israel, Saudi Arabia and the other Persian Gulf dictatorships. Much of this offensive capability is directed at Iran. Talk about Western doublethink and duplicity about who or what is destabilizing the region.

7. Blame it all on Iran and Hezbollah

Similar to the Western perverse logic about Russia “destabilizing” the region, US President Barack Obama and others have denounced Iran and Hezbollah for supporting Syria – a country that is besieged by a covert war of aggression instigated by these same Western powers. In a saner world, Iran and Hezbollah should be lauded for their international solidarity and neighborly compassion. And let’s remember that Hezbollah was incited to intervene against the foreign-backed terrorists in Syria after the latter began firing missiles and rockets into Shia villages along the Syrian-Lebanese border in recent months. Under international law of self-defense, Hezbollah is entitled to join forces with the Syrian army to rout these criminals from their havens, as they have done this past week in Qusayr in Homs Province.

John Kerry said: “Active military support to the Assad regime simply exacerbates the sectarian tensions and perpetuates the regime’s campaign of terror against its own people.” Make-believe stuff from the Kerry fairy.

Kerry should be asked about illegal Western active military support for renegade killers attacking a sovereign country? How is that for sectarian tensions?

William Hague added this mental somersault: “It is very clear that Syrian regime is receiving a great deal of support… from outside Syria from Hezbollah and Iran. This is a regime that is increasingly dependent on external support,” added Hague, who apparently cannot see the glaring irony that it is the terrorist mercenaries who are increasingly dependent on external support, that is, American, British, French, Turk, Israeli and the despotic Arab dictatorships of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the UAE and Jordan.

8. Invisible American, British and Israeli troops

While Western politicians make unfounded allegations against Iran over military assistance to Syria, these same politicians appear to be blind when it comes to the well-founded knowledge that American and British troops are running training camps in terror techniques for the extremists ripping Syrian society apart. These NATO troops have set up camps in neighboring Jordan and Turkey from which the operatives launch into Syria. Video evidence has also emerged of Israeli commandos operating within Syrian territory, as well as violating the ceasefire demarcation line in the Golan Heights. Western mainstream news media have added to this absurdity by reporting that the “Syrian army has fired into Israel” – meaning that Syrian troops have responded to Israeli violations in the territory of Syria that Israel illegally annexed in 1967 and continues to illegally occupy in contravention of international law.

9. Turkey and Jordan appeal for help over refugee crisis… that they themselves created

Up to five million Syrians – 20 per cent of the population – have been burned out or turned out of their formerly safe and comfortable homes to eke a miserable living under tents. Some 1.5 million of these refugees are subsisting in campsites in Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon. The humanitarian crisis is costing the Turk government of Recep Tayyip Erdogan some $50 million a month, or a total of $1.5 billion over the past two years. That bill is set to skyrocket as the number of Syrian refugees fleeing to Turkey is projected to double to more than 900,000 by the end of this year. Thus Turkey and Jordan are pleading for financial help from the international community. Yet, these countries would not have this refugee and financial problem if Turkey and Jordan did not allow mercenary armies to operate from their territories to maraud, pillage and terrorize Syrian people from their homes. Turkey and Jordan have taken an active part in creating a humanitarian crisis and now they want to the rest of the world to stump the bill. Indeed, so do the US, British and French rogue regimes.

10. Violence ‘spills over from Syria into Iraq’

This is how the Western media report it, but the truth is that violence and mayhem is spilling over from Iraq and Afghanistan into Syria and into many other countries across the region and the world. When the US-led NATO powers embarked on their criminal wars of aggression in Afghanistan and Iraq in 2001 and 2003, the world has been living ever since under a Western reign of imperialist terror. The genocidal wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have cost more than 1.5 million lives. Those huge crimes have paved the way for a lawless world where Western regimes feel emboldened to attack and ransack any country they deem. Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, Mali are some of the present sites of Western imperialist warmongering. Libya was previously. Iran is probably next. The US-led war on Syria has therefore necessarily to be understood as part of a criminal continuum for global dominance in the service of global capital. And the Western regimes and their leaders should be seen as criminals working hand-in-glove who should be arraigned in a democratic court of justice.

All of the above is but a shortlist of Western regime crimes and duplicity that is most saliently exposed in the terrible conflict being imposed on Syria.

The Syrian people deserve peace and all good people around the world no doubt wish them success in future negotiations. But, given the litany of crimes, lies and deception attributable to the US, Britain and France in particular, the omens leading up to the Geneva summit do not bode well.

That raises the question: should Syria and its allies in Iran, Russia and China even attend this so-called conference in Geneva? Perhaps Iran could convene an alternative summit dedicated solely to the internal Syrian parties, and deliberately excluding the enemies of Syria from the US, Britain, France and their myriad puppets. That alternative peace summit in Tehran could be held under the auspices of the Non-Aligned Movement, of which Iran is currently the presiding chairman.

Posted in SyriaComments Off on Top 10 Western ‘hits’ on Syria

Boston and the CIA ‘Snafu’: The grey eminence behind Turkey’s Erdogan and AKP

NOVANEWS
by F. William Engdahl

In the first part, geopolitical analyst William Engdahl discussed the role of CIA’s Graham Fuller in creating the policy of using angry Jihadist Muslims as trained terrorists in Afghanistan and elsewhere against the Soviet Union. Herein—largely drawing on the revelations made by FBI whistle-blower Sibel Edwards—Engdahl throws the spotlight on the entire CIA-sponsored Islamic Jihadist operations run through Fetullah Gülen across Turkey into Central Asia and Russia and China.

VOLTAIRE NETWORK | FRANKFURT (GERMANY)  

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Part I: Graham Fuller, Uncle Ruslan, the CIA and the Boston Bombings

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Graham Fuller (foreground) and Turkish Muslim guru Fetullah Gülen who has dark ties to CIA and fanatical Jihadist groups worldwide.

The open press statement of denial by senior reportedly former CIA official Graham Fuller in April of a link between the Boston Bombings and the CIA, labeling the reports “absurd,” may go down in history as one of the worst intelligence blunders [1] in the past century. The public admission by Fuller, on a website reported tied to the CIA, of his relationship to the Uncle of the alleged but not ever convicted Boston bombers opened a can of worms the CIA might well wish never had been opened.

The public admission by Fuller, on a website reported tied to the CIA, of his relationship to the Uncle of the alleged but not ever convicted Boston bombers [2] opened a can of worms the CIA might well wish never had been opened.

A deeper look into Fuller’s role reveals him to be a key figure in what FBI whistle-blower Sibel Edmonds terms American Deep State rogues. Edmonds worked as an FBI translator from Turkish, Azerbaijani and Farsi languages during and after September 11, 2001 when she uncovered damning email and other evidence of criminal networks linking the actors of 9/11, drug networks out of Turkey and terrorists in and around Al Qaeda together with senior Pentagon and other US Government officials. [3]

Fuller, A Deep State Rogue

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Whistleblower Sibel Edwards has revealed extraordinary information on the U.S. government’s support for international terrorist networks and organised crime. She was described as “the most gagged person in the history of the United States” by the American Civil Liberties Union.

As later identified, among the people uncovered by Edmonds’ translation efforts at FBI were notorious neoconservative Richard Perle, Iraq war architect who headed Bush’s Defense Policy Board advisory committee in 2001; Douglas Feith, neocon Under-Secretary of Defense under Bush-Cheney; Anwar Yusuf Turani [4], key figure in the anti-Beijing Uygur separatist operations under the name East Turkistan National Freedom Center in Washington DC. East Turkistan is their name for China’s Xinjiang Province where Uygur riots took place several years ago. Turani modestly calls himself President-in-exile, East Turkistan (Xinjiang), though it’s by no means clear who if anyone elected him.

In her classified translations Edmonds discovered that a criminal network had penetrated the highest levels of the US Government including Pentagon and FBI, and were engaged in illegal sales of weapons, including nuclear, of drugs and more. Criminal activities were being protected by claims of State Secrets, she asserted. Repeated attempts to call attention inside the FBI to what she was convinced was a conspiracy against the United States from within came to no avail. Her gripping account to bring attention to an alarming rogue network inside Washington is the subject of her autobiography, Classified Woman – The Sibel Edmonds Story. [5]

Attorney General John Ashcroft went all the way to the Supreme Court to muzzle her under a little-used Doctrine of State Secrets. Edmonds, suffering under an unprecedented Bush Administration gag order, was banned from revealing the complicity of high-ranking US and Turkish figures uncovered by her and duly reported at FBI before she was fired in 2002 for “blowing the whistle.” She partly got around the Government gag by posting photos with no comment on her website. Others filled in the names. [6]

Graham Fuller was one of the 21 American Deep State rogues Edmonds posted.

In 1995, according to investigative journalist Daniel Hopsicker, the uncle of the alleged Boston bombers, Ruslan Tsarnaev, “incorporated the Congress of Chechen International Organizations in Maryland, using as the address listed on incorporation documents 11114 Whisperwood Lane, in Rockville Maryland, the home address of his then-father-in-law.” [7] Father-in-law was Graham Fuller whose daughter was married to Uncle Ruslan.

Chechnya, an autonomous province of Russia deeply involved in oil pipelines from the Caspian Sea, has been the scene of Islamic jihad terrorists since the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991. In 1995 when Uncle Ruslan founded the Congress of Chechen International Organizations from Graham Fuller’s home, the Islamist Jihad terror war against Moscow was raging full-force in Chechnya. Putin and Russian intelligence have repeatedly claimed the terrorism was being fed from outside.

As more is coming out on the role of Fuller, the evidence points to the conclusion that the Chechnya terrorists were also a project bearing the footprints of the “former” CIA political Islam expert, Graham Fuller. By 1988 Fuller had formally moved from a very senior post at CIA to the neo-conservative think tank, RAND Corporation, where he officially worked on the “Middle East, Central Asia, South and Southeast Asia, and problems of ethnicity and religion.” [8]

While at RAND Fuller played a key role gaining asylum for a Turkish national in the USA. Fetullah Gülen, a Turkish national who was forced to flee in 1999 and seek asylum, won his US residence permit due to the intervention of two senior CIA or former men. One was Graham E. Fuller. [9]

Foreign Policy Journal describes the role of Fuller and the CIA in getting indicted Turkish fugitive Gülen asylum in the USA: “Fethullah Gülen became a green card holder despite serious opposition from FBI and from Homeland Security Department. Former CIA officers (formally and informally) such as Graham Fuller and Morton Abromovitz were some of the prominent references in Gülen’s green card application.” [10]

Jihad Spreads to Central Asia

From his new luxurious heavily-guarded estate in Saylorsburg, a remote part of eastern Pennsylvania, Gülen launched a series of fundamentalist Salafist mosques and madrasses, not only in his native Turkey where he was the alleged power behind Turkey’s AKP regime of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, himself a product of Gülen’s schools, but across the Islamic regions of Central Asia as they separated from the Soviet Union in the chaos after 1991. [11]

According to Edmonds, an authority on the subject, “US Islamization Operations in Central Asia via Gülen started in late 1997, early 1998. That brings me to …Graham Fuller.” [12]

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Fethullah Gulen, lives in Pennsylvania. From there he runs a $25 billion international network. He is tied to hundreds of Gulen charter schools in the United States itself, 36 of which are located in Texas alone.

A memoir by former head of Turkish intelligence, Osman Nuri Gundes, claims that Fethullah Gülen’s worldwide Islamic movement based in Pennsylvania has been providing cover for the CIA since the mid-1990s, and that in the 90s, the movement “sheltered 130 CIA agents” at its schools in Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan alone. [13]

Gülen schools in Russian Chechnya and Dagestan regions, both locations of fanatical Jihadists since 1991, were ultimately banned by Putin. The Russian government has banned all Gülen schools and the activities of the Gülen-linked Nurcu sect in Russia. Over 20 Turkish followers of Gülen were deported from Russia in 2002-2004. In 1999 Uzbekistan closed all Gülen’s Madrasas and shortly afterward arrested eight journalists who were graduates of Gülen schools, and found them guilty of setting up an illegal religious group and of involvement in an extremist organization. In Turkmenistan, government authorities placed Gülen’s schools under close scrutiny and have ordered them to scrap the history of religion from curriculums. [14]

Responsible Turkish journalists I’ve met with relate that Gülen-loyal police tied to Edrogan’s AKP have infiltrated the Turkish police, intelligence services and other key state institution and are systematically arresting, purging or silencing all nationalist military, trade union and other secular figues opposed to creation of an Islamic Sharia state in Turkey, uprooting ninety or more years of Kemalist legal foundations. More than one hundred Turkish journalists have been arrested for writing critically about the actions of Gülen’s AKP.

Gülen’s public profile is as a humble, deeply spiritual Imam of love and brotherhood. His record in practice is anything but. Gülen once stated, “You must move in the arteries of the system without anyone noticing your existence, until you reach all the power centers, until the conditions are ripe.” Sounds a bit like Lenin in the old days. Certain networks in Washington including people in and around Fuller obviously have no problem with that.

Why would the CIA and US agencies want Central Asia? As Obama adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski, notes in his now-famous book, The Grand Chessboard, “For America, the chief geopolitical prize is Eurasia…America’s global primacy is directly dependent on how long and how effectively its preponderance on the Eurasian continent is sustained…It follows that America’s primary interest is to help ensure that no single power comes to control this geopolitical space and that the global community has unhindered financial and economic access to it.”

Washington has used Turkey and the AKP fundamentalist networks of Gülen to wreak havoc across the post-communist oil and mineral-rich regions of Central Asia. Graham Fuller’s foot prints are all over those covert operations as are Fetullah Gülen’s. In 2008 Fuller published a book titled, “The New Turkish Republic: Turkey as a Pivotal State in the Muslim World.” As Sibel Edmonds describes, the process involved using Turkey with assistance from ’actors from Pakistan, and Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia’ as a proxy, which in turn used Bin Laden and the Taliban and others as a proxy terrorist army before 9/11. [15]

Edmonds notes regarding US operations in Central Asia, “This started more than a decade-long illegal, covert operation in Central Asia by a small group in the US intent on furthering the oil industry and the Military Industrial Complex, using Turkish operatives, Saudi partners and Pakistani allies, furthering this objective in the name of Islam.” [16]

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Her middle name suggests a reference to her father’s CIA posting in Turkey.

What did Uncle Ruslan Tsarnaev, uncle of the Boston alleged bombers do when he was married to Graham Fuller’s daughter? Ruslan worked for companies connected to Halliburton, doing oil deals in the Caucasus and as “consultant” for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) in the former Soviet Republic of Kazakhstan. Russia barred USAID from its soil in late 2012, alleging USAID together with CIA was attempting to influence the internal political processes in the country. [17]

Some are beginning to ask whether the Boston bombing might have been a deception operation carried out by the Rogues associated with Graham Fuller and the network within the CIA and Pentagon, to make it appear Putin was behind the ghastly events. In any case, when Graham Fuller went to the press to publicly denounce CIA links to the Tsarnaevs he made what is likely to go down as one of the greatest snafus in US intelligence history. He lost his cool, and with it, has put the spotlight on the entire CIA-sponsored Islamic Jihadist operations run through Fetullah Gülen across Turkey into Central Asia and Russia and China.

[1] Laura Rozen, “Former CIA officer: ‘Absurd’ to link uncle of Boston suspects,” Agency, Back-Channel Al-Monitor, April 27, 2013.

[2] Laura Rozen, “Former CIA officer: ‘Absurd’ to link uncle of Boston suspects, Agency,” Back-Channel Al-Monitor, April 27, 2013.

[3] Daniel Hopsicker, “Boston bombers’ uncle married daughter of top CIA official,” April 26, 2013.

[4] See “The Government-in-Exile of East Turkistan Republic

[5] Sibel Edmonds, Classified Woman – The Sibel Edmonds Story, First Edition, 2012.

[6] Sibel Edmonds, “Sibel Edmonds’ State Secrets Privilege Gallery.”

[7] Daniel Hopsicker, Op. Cit.

[8] 2006 Campagna-Kerven Lecture Series, Speaker Bio – GRAHAM E. FULLER.

[9] Emine Dilek, “The Tale of Uncle Tsarnaev CIA Chief Graham Fuller and a Turkish Islamist Who Lives in USA,” progressivepress.net, April 27, 2013.

[10] Sibel Edmonds, “Turkish Intel Chief Exposes CIA Operations via Islamic Group in Central Asia,” boilingfrogspost.com, January 6, 2011.

[11] Pelin Turgut, The Turkish Imam and His Global Educational Mission,Time, April 26, 2010.

[12] Sibel Edmonds, Op Cit.

[13Ibid.

[14Ibid.

[15] Sibel Edmonds, cited in “The Turkish Lobby, the Neocons, and the Crusade to Free the Ergenekon Terrorists,” rastibini.blogspot.de, December 15, 2008.

[16] Luke Ryland, “Court Documents Shed Light on CIA Illegal Operations in Central Asia Using Islam and Madrassas,” lukery.blogspot.de, July 10, 2008.

[17] Emine Dilek, Op. Cit.

Posted in USAComments Off on Boston and the CIA ‘Snafu’: The grey eminence behind Turkey’s Erdogan and AKP

Coca Fumigation Hinders Colombian Peace Negotiations

NOVANEWS
Martin Jelsma and Tom Blickman
 1 November 1998

The fumigation of coca and opium poppy fields with chemical herbicides is becoming a key obstacle in the peace process in Colombia, surprisingly gaining steam since the change of government in August. Before officially being sworn into power, the President elect Andrés Pastrana had met already – on July 9 – with Manuel Marulanda (‘Tirofijo’), top-leader of the FARC-EP, who explicitly mentioned an ending to aerial spraying as a top priority issue, second only to the disbanding of the paramilitary and the cleansing of the armed forces cadre linked to them.

More and more Colombian and international officials question the effectiveness of fumigation. But while Pastrana is trying to manoeuvre fumigation out of the peace process by promoting a solution along the lines of alternative development for the drug cultivation areas – a viable solution supported by the FARC and ELN guerrillas – the United States Government is determined to continue the fumigation strategy, making it a precondition for Colombia to pass the yearly decertification process which takes place in March every year.

The US is pressing the use of more agressive herbicides, and sprayings with a illegal granular herbicide have been confirmed and denounced by the Defensoría del Pueblo, the Colombian governmental human rights ombudsman. In addition, the Republican majority in Congress is endangering the delicate negotiations to start the peace process by threatening to withhold US counter narcotic aid to Colombia if the so-called “despeje” – a troop pullout from the a vast swath of Colombian territory effective since November 7 – interferes with counternarcotics efforts in the area. The “despeje” is crucial in the agreement between Pastrana and the FARC rebels to start the peace talks.

All these elements together put the fumigation issue at the very crossroads of crucial developments taking place right now in and around Colombia, making it one of the decisive factors for events in the near future. It may well come soon to a point where a clear decision has to be made between two incompatible variables: aerial fumigation or a peace process.

Chorus of opposition in Colombia

This year, the pace of chemical fumigation efforts has been doubled. The target of eradicating 50.000 hectares for the full year, had been more then met already by August. Last year, according to police figures, 48.123 hectares have been sprayed. (1) Nevertheless, the total area under drug-crop cultivation expanded by 10 percent, according to the US which is monitoring coca areas by satellite. (2) The fields were simply moved to other areas. One can imagine what will happen next: these fields will then be sprayed and cultivation which in itself is not particularly friendly to the ecosystem will again move to other regions. A ‘vicious’ circle, contaminating ever-expanding areas.

In fact, fumigation of coca and opium in Colombia is practically the only counter-narcotics programme to eradicate illicit cultivation. Alternative development projects to help peasants shift to the cultivation of legal agricultural crops has barely been put in place due to lack of funds and poor organisation of PLANTE, the agency responsible for its implementation.

The fumigation is sponsored financially and politically by the United States, but opposition in Colombia is growing. Fumigation is not effective, and is damaging to the environment and health of the peasants whose food crops are also touched by the indiscriminate spraying. (3) Nevertheless, the US wants to introduce new granular herbicides tebuthiuron and imazapyr – to replace the liquid herbicide glyfosate used up to now. The introduction of the new granulars is controversial. It is supposed to be more effective than glyfosate, but it also does more damage to the environment.

The former minister of the Environment, Eduardo Verano de la Rosa, opposed the introduction of tebuthiuron. “If everything we’ve analysed so far is true, and this has to be proven scientifically, our forests, our massive Amazon forests, could basically be converted into prairies,” he said. A proposed field test was used, but the Environment Department is likely to be overruled by a potent lobby, including the vigorous police chief, General Rosso José Serrano, and Colombia’s National Drugs Council, who are in favour of the new chemicals. (4) October this year, the Defensoria del Pueblo denounced the illegal use of imazapyr in the province of Putumayo in May 1998.

The US Environmental Protection Agency requires a warning label on the chemical that says it could contaminate ground water, a side-effect Colombian environmental officials fear will prevent peasants from growing food where coca once grew. The chemical’s manufacturer, Dow AgroSciences, a subsidiary of Dow Chemical Co., strongly opposes its use in Colombia: “Tebuthiuron is not labelled for use on any crops in Colombia, and it is our desire that the product not be used for coca eradication as well,” the company says. (5)

Apparently, the introduction of tebuthiuron has more to do with safeguarding the lives of the pilots – among them many US citizens – than concern for the environment. Colombia’s National Police chief Serrano, has spoken in favour of testing tebuthiuron, arguing that it can be applied to crops more effectively and with less danger to crop-dusting pilots. The new granular herbicide can be dropped from a higher altitude, offering greater protection from guerrilla gunfire for pilots. The State Department contracted two private firms based in Washington (Dyncorp and East Inc.) to supply US pilots and advisors for the Guaviare region, where two such US pilots were killed at the end of July in an as yet unclear accident.

The new Environment Minister in the Pastrana Administration, Juan Mayr – a renowned conservationist – is taking the same approach as his predecessor. The aerial crop-spraying programme has failed, Mayr said shortly after he was appointed. “The cultivated areas have increased, which demonstrates that fumigation hasn’t worked,” he said. Though he didn’t say whether he favoured scrapping the current programme altogether, Mayr added: “We can’t permanently fumigate the country.” (6)

Colombia’s newly-appointed chief of the government’s anti-narcotics office, Ruben Olarte, joined Mayr. He branded the country’s US-backed drug crop eradication programme a failure, saying it had done nothing to halt a steady increase in illicit drug plantations. “Unfortunately, we have to recognize that crop eradication, in the manner that it has been carried out so far has failed,” he said. “There is no doubt that there will have to be a profound revision of the crop eradication programme.” (7)

Jorge Devia, governor of the state of Putumayo where the newly established Villa Garzon anti-narcotics air base will intensify fumigation efforts, has joined the expanding chorus of voices in Colombia urging the United States to curb its policy of aggressively spraying coca. He says the US-financed aerial eradication has displaced coca farmers ever deeper into the jungle, poisoned legitimate crops and created peasant resentment that may favour leftist guerrillas. Devia: “The peasant farmers will just cut down more trees and plant more coca.”

Equally, the governor of Guaviare, Hernando Gonzalez Villamizar, does not expect results from continued spraying: “After seven years of fumigating, there’s more coca than ever.” And the chorus is supported openly by Klaus Nyholm, head of the United Nations International Drug Control Programme (UNDCP) in Colombia: “the fumigation of [drug] crops is not effective,” he said on numerous occasions. And: “I don’t think you can spray your way out of this mess.”(8)

US pressure

Despite the increasing evidence that fumigation only worsens the problem, and the growing opposition in Colombia itself, the US does not show any signs of revising its policy. On the contrary. Fumigation, or “the crop eradication programme” as its called in official language, is one of the cornerstones in US policy towards Colombia. A confidential memorandum listing the conditions for next year’s certification – leaked to the daily El Espectador – states as point number two:

Increasing and expanding the eradication programme: The eradication programme put in place by the National Police has yielded excellent results in 1997, achieving a 25 per cent reduction in the Guaviare department, the area with the highest concentration of fumigation. Unfortunately, a massive increase of coca cultivation in other regions took place. Our mutual challenge is to confront this increase. We support the expansion of the aerial eradication programme in Caquetá and the initiation of operations in Putumayo in 1998. To achieve effective results North-American pilots need to be integrated fully in eradication operations in the South, without needless restrictions. We are strongly in favour of a test programme for an effective granular herbicide, which should be economically viable and environmentally safe. (9)

In June, the US Congress donated Colombia an extra donation six Bell 212 helicopters to intensify aerial fumigation efforts, the first two of which were handed over on the 29th of August. According to investigative press reports, Washington’s counter-narcotics policy also contains a recently approved launch of a multimillion-dollar covert programme – CIA and/or DIA (the Defence Intelligence Agency), employing mercenaries, private contractors and active-duty military personnel – to support the Colombian armed forces. The State Department denies covert aid. (10)

On the other hand, for the first time, the Clinton Administration is showing at least some willingness to acknowledge that repression alone does not work. Investing in alternative development programmes to counter drug cultivation in Colombia – which they used so far – are taken into consideration as well. Pastrana has insisted that aerial fumigation of drug crops is useless without providing coca growers with a legal alternative. At his August 7 inauguration, Pastrana announced his intention to create a Marshall Plan for government investment in coca-growing regions. Clinton announced support. (11)

Pastrana is asking for international help and US administration officials appear willing to listen. Peter Romero, acting Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American affairs, said Washington had “several hundred million dollars on the table for Colombia,” some of which could be available for alternative development. “What Colombia has to do is put together a strategy,” Romero said. “We’re just waiting to see that strategy, to evaluate it.” (12) Clinton administration officials agreed to back alternative farm programmes on a case-by-case basis. “The US has not been opposed to alternative development,” said a senior State Department official. But such programmes only work, the official said, “if the government has control of the area and if the peasants believe there is a penalty for continuing to grow coca.”(13)

Subsequently, the White House is seeking re-assurance that no change in position had taken place on the fumigation issue within the Pastrana government. ‘Anonymous spokesmen’ of the Clinton administration made clear that during a meeting with Pastrana just a few days before his inauguration, Pastrana had promised to keep the fumigation programme intact. “We told President Pastrana that we support the peace process, but that we have certain concerns because we don’t want any region of Colombia turned into a sanctuary for drug traffickers,” one of the sources told the Colombian daily El Espectador.(14) “Peace is possible, but not at the expense of narcotics.”

Oil on the fire

“My government will not allow peace to be hijacked by narcotics,” Pastrana said just before a three-day state to the US at the end of October. “We need to ‘denarcoticize’ our relations,” he repeated upon arriving in Washington. (15) Fumigation is one of the issues of ‘denarcotization’. “When we see that in the last four years the area cultivated with coca have expanded from 40.000 to 80.000 hectares, then something wrong is happening,” Pastrana stated earlier. “And if we combine this with the fact that the environment is being destroyed, we have to ook for a different strategy”. (16)

But Pastrana faces stern opposition in the US to achieve his goals. The White House is under pressure from the Republican majority in Congress who consider Clinton’s policy “totally inadequate”. On 22 July 1998, they introduced the so-called ‘Western Hemisphere Drug Elimination Act’ to US Congress. Representative Bill McCollum of Florida made its goal perfectly clear, introducing the Act to the House of Representatives:

“The $2.3 billion authorization bill being introduced today is designed to provide the resources and the direction to wage a real war on drugs before they get to the borders of the United States. The Administration plan promulgated earlier this year calls for a reduction of illegal narcotics flowing from overseas by 50% in ten years. This is totally inadequate. The plan put forth in our legislation is designed to cut the flow of drugs into our country by 80% within three years. It is the most dramatic, exhaustive, targeted effort ever conceived to stop the drug flow from Latin America.” (17)

On the basis of this authorization bill, considerable extra funding for the aerial eradication programme in Colombia will be made available for 1999, 2000 and 2001 (“Section 201. Additional eradication resources for Colombia”). Included is the highly controversial $72 million for the purchase of six UH-60L Black Hawk helicopters for the Colombian National Police, justified as needed in the context of “Focused opium eradication strategy”. Furthermore $70 million for conversion kits for fifty UH-1H helicopters for conversion into Superhueys; $18 million to sustain support of police helicopters and fixed wing fleet for eradication purposes through fiscal year 2001; $6 million for minigun systems for police aircraft through fiscal year 2001; and $2 million for the purchase of DC-3 transport aircraft. The total for Colombia is $208.25 million.

To make matters worse, the House also approved an amendment to the bill making Colombia ineligible for future US anti-drug aid if the troop pullout from a vast swath of Colombian territory -an agreement between Pastrana and the FARC rebels crucial to start the peace talks – interferes with counternarcotics efforts in the area where it occurs. The Clinton Administration opposes the bill, and the Senate still has to approve it.

Meanwhile Clinton announced $280 million in new assistance to Colombia, supplementing the House allocation, during Pastrana’s visit end October. The new money will be used to counter drug activity as well as for development efforts. The two leaders agreed that “education, prevention, law enforcement, judicial action, extradition of narcotraffickers, aerial and other forms of eradication, alternative development and efforts to end armed conflict are all essential elements in the overall strategy to combat illegal drugs.”

Fumigation & the peace process

The complete destruction of the Miraflores anti-narcotics air-base -principal operational centre for the fumigations – in a major FARC nation-wide attack between 3 and 5 August, underlined the importance of the issue for the peace negotiations agenda. The attack was a clear message of FARC’s increased military force, as well as a reminder that peace can only be negotiated in Colombia. The July meeting between president elect Pastrana and FARC commander Marulanda was just a first step in a long process.

White House drug czar Barry McCaffrey said the FARC attack showed that “Colombia’s Marxist rebels” are criminal gangs making huge profits from the drug trade and recent attacks cast doubt on their commitment to peace talks with Colombia’s new government. “They are after demilitarization, they are after a cessation of aerial eradication – that’s the only way to get at coca production and opium production – and the FARC wants that stopped,” he said. “Of course the danger is all they are after is consolidation of their gains prior to the next phase of their movement … If you look at their actions, particularly this offensive, it’s almost as if their dominant focus is to maintain money-making criminal activity.” (18)

McCaffrey gives counternarcotics operations a counterinsurgency goal: “The facts of the matter are that the FARC is heavily involved in protecting, transporting and, in some cases, operating drug labs. It’s given them such an enormous source of wealth that, arguably, their firepower, their pay scales, their intelligence services are more sophisticated than that of the [government] forces that guard this democracy.” (19)

UNDCP station chief Nyholm utes the presumption of the existence of a narcoguerrilla, popular among drug warriors in and outside the US Congress. From the contact his office has had with the rebels, Nyholm concludes he has “indications that FARC wants to cut off its connections with drug trafficking”. He is convinced that they will abandon drug production if the international community and the Colombian government will give aid to the areas were there is cultivation.(20)

Both Nyholm and former PLANTE director Palou have had contacts with FARC and ELN representatives about their willingness to participate in crop substitution programmes, were forced eradication operations against small farmers to be suspended. The ELN directly proposed becoming a partner in PLANTE programmes, channelling alternative development funds to coca- and opium farmers in regions under their control. This was received positively by Palou, who did not discard this as an option.(21)

In the midst of speculation and suspicion on the content of the peace negotiations, the High Commissioner for Peace, Víctor G. Ricardo, assured that during the conversation between Pastrana and Marulanda, nothing had been agreed in secret, apart from the demilitarization of a designated area to allow for peace talks to start within 90 days of the presidential inauguration. Pastrana reiterated: “The only promise is that we are going to make peace. There is an engagement for peace.”

Comments made to the press by both Pastrana (‘aerial fumigation of drug crops is useless without providing coca growers with a legal alternative’ and ‘I per finding alternatives for the small peasants instead of forced eradication’) and Marulanda, hinted at some sort of tacit agreement on fumigation and counter-drugs policies reached at the informal meeting. Marulanda:

“We proposed […] the substitution of coca to other crops, on the basis of aid to the peasants. Let’s take as example a community, we look among us for a team of agronomists who can tell us what to produce over there. On that basis, we could start to stop with illicit cultivation, taking into account that we have to secure annual financial assistance for the peasants until their own crops start to produce. He [Pastrana] said he liked our proposal very much and that he was going to put it into practice: not to use repression to resolve this problem. Pastrana agreed that to start with, there would be no more violence against coca cultivators, we are going to look for a distinct solution.” (22)

The offer of FARC to help to eradicate production, trafficking and cultivation in return for social investments in the area is looked upon favourably by Pastrana. According to Pastrana’s High Commissioner for Peace, Víctor G. Ricardo, there was “a identification of this aspect, because the President declared he would make an alternative plan for the substitution of crops, and they said they would commit themselves to collaborate to eradicate them in Colombia from the moment when there would be a viable alternative.” (23)

Pastrana used the offer of FARC during his talks with Clinton on August 3, to support his request for financial aid for his Marshall Plan. (24) But the fumigation programme has not been suspended, largely because of pressure from the US In order to get US to concede to the “despeje” – the demilitarised zone under FARC control since November 7 – fumigation continues.

Meanwhile….

The Defensoría del Pueblo in a recent report estimated that fumigations have already destroyed 150.000 hectares of rainforest in such important ecosystems as the Amazon and Orinoco basin. If the current rhythm of fumigation is continued 70 per cent of these areas will be converted into prairie and large amounts of infertile land by 2015. For every hectare of coca sprayed, four hectares of natural vegetation are devastated. In addition to the direct damaging effects of the herbicides, fumigation leads to more trees being cut down by peasants who seek for new land to replace their damaged coca fields. “Every hectare fumigated means a hectare substituted”, says Gloria Elsa Ramírez of the Defensoría. (25)

Despite assurances from the Environment Ministry that tebuthiuron will not be used in Colombia, a granular herbicide is already in use in some spraying campaigns, according to an account of a fumigation that took place in May in Cartagena del Chairá, in the Caguán region, published in the independent Colombian daily El Espectador:

“Nobody expected that the feared ‘spray’ would be a bombardment of white pellets falling from the air planes. Like it was Christmas. The elder settlers said that it was a hail-shower, and the children who were born near the river and never experienced winter, started to play with the pellets. But when the pellets bounced on the ground they poisoned the soil. Everybody got diarrhoea and the leaves started to shrivel. Where the white pellets fell a black spot of burnt leaves was left. Chicken and pigs wriggled until they lay moribund with their legs in the air, and cattle left a trail of stinking diarrhoea. Meanwhile the planes continued spitting out the pellets of death on the coca, the yucca, the bananas, and on the drains, the houses and children. Looking from the planes everything is coca, and if its not coca, never mind – everything is subversion.”(26)

Recently, the Defensoria del Pueblo denounced the illegal use of the granular herbicide imazapyr —similar to tebuthiuron— in Puerto Guzmán in the province of Putumayo in May 1998. (27) Again, indiscriminate fumigation was reported, resulting in the spraying of 53 school children who curiously watched the planes and escorting helicopters flying over the schoolyard. Some of the children were hit with the granular and were blinded for one or two days. Legal food crops and live stock were hit also.

The use of imazapyr is not permitted in Colombia. Still, extensive fumigation with the forbidden chemical seems to have taken place. Hundreds of hectares of natural rainforest were destroyed in the ecological sensitive area around the Laguna del Quemado, which is very important for the reproduction of fish and other animals. No coca cultivation exist within various kilometres of the lake. Farmers in the Caguan area in Caquetá and Miraflores in the Guaviare also reported the use of granular herbicides.

Omayra Morales, a representative of the Andean Council of Coca Leaf Producers, reported continuing fumigations around Miraflores in the Guaviare region: the spraying of the indigenous reserve of Puerto Córdoba, near Miraflores, which destroyed virtually all the yucca in that area; and in Lagos del Dorado, where even the village itself was fumigated, resulting directly in the death of an eight days old baby. (28) Mrs. Morales also describes how her own household was completely destroyed in a fire on July 12 — she survived a similar fire-attack about one-and-a-half years ago, and holds the military responsible for both.

The fighting between the FARC and the armed forces in and around Miraflores on 3, 4 and 5 August almost completely destroyed the village. The destroyed anti-narcotics base is now to be rebuilt within the village itself, according to Omayra Morales in order to use the civilian population as protection against similar attacks in the future. In a petition a group of Miraflores inhabitants vehemently opposes this plan, and the current use of the few buildings left in the village for military purposes.

War against drugs or against insurgency?

Counter-narcotics operations are constantly being tangled with counter-insurgency operations. In the view of many US drug warriors they are fighting a “narco-guerrilla”, implying the existence of a guerrilla cartel. Although it is true that the FARC and ELN are taxing cultivation of coca and the production of pasta base, they are not organizing the traffick outside Colombia. In sharp contrast with the Army itself – see for instance the recent catch of 750 kilo’s of cocaine in Fort Lauderdale in a plane of the Colombian Air Force (29) – and the paramilitary forces, who – according to most observers – are backed by the Army.

A recent initiative by the Colombian Army to set up an anti-narcotics elite brigade will only make matters worse. (30) The fight against drugs in Colombia has always been a matter for the National Police – subjected to the Department of Defense – although the military have been involved in supporting the police, for instance in escorting fumigation air planes with helicopter gun ships to fight guerrilla ground fire.

Now the army is contemplating an anti-drugs brigade of their own, with financial and technical assistance from the US, who made a first offer already in 1992. In Colombia, this led to a debate on how that would help the peace process. (31) But, in fact, much of the counter-narcotics expenditure ends up with the military. Since 1990, according to a February report by the Government Accounting Office (GAO), the US earmarked $731 million in counternarcotics support to Colombia. Of the planned US$ 40 million assistance in September 1996, only one-third went directly to the Colombian National Police, while the remaining two-thirds went for the military. (32)

Human rights groups argue that the linkage between guerrillas and drug traffickers has allowed Washington to expand covert counter-insurgency operations in Colombia without having to face public or congressional scrutiny, particularly on human rights issues. Since much of the money spent by the US government in Colombia is covert aid, it does not have to be reported publicly. “The lack of transparency really is the key,” says Robin Kirk, who monitors Colombia for Human Rights Watch/Americas. “More or less, the Defense Department can spend its chunk of money as it sees fit, and it’s impossible to know where it’s going. The amount of CIA money being spent in Colombia is impossible to find out.” (33)

A case in point is the sale of Black Hawk helicopters in 1996. Human rights groups objected vociferously to the sale, as Black Hawk helicopters purchased previously by the Colombian government had been used to strafe local hamlets during counterinsurgency operations. In Congressional testimony on the helicopter sale in September 1996, debate focused not on the human rights implications of the sale or its likely impact in stemming the flow of illicit drugs out of Colombia, but rather on how fast the helicopters could be delivered. Human rights concerns were portrayed as unfortunate, but no more.

Ambassador Peter Romero, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Latin America, noted: “I think all of us in the room would agree that the performance of the army particularly has been very disappointing with respect to adherence to human rights standards. There continues to be instances of extrajudicial killings, disappearances, torture, from very credible sources.” But he went on to justify the sale nonetheless, while admitting that once the helicopters are provided, the US government has no means of ensuring that they not be used in counter-insurgency operations. (34)

The US Congress’ own watchdog, the GAO, questioned the US government’s ability to effectively monitor use of anti-narcotics assistance, something it has done repeatedly for years. In four reports from 1991 to 1994, the agency concluded that US officials lacked sufficient oversight of military aid to ensure that equipment was being used efficiently and as intended in Colombia and Peru. In its February 1997 study, the GAO reported that this problem lingers and has spread, citing the Mexican government’s use of US-supplied, counter-narcotics helicopters to transport troops used to quell the uprising in the state of Chiapas. (35)

The militarization of counter-narcotics operations is complicating the peaceful resolution of the conflict in Colombia. Fumigation is essential in US counter-narcotics strategy in Colombia. The tenacious insistence on continuing with the programme now endangers attempts to end Colombia’s 30 year internal war. “Insisting on financial and technical aid to fumigation makes you a participant in an armed conflict,” says Ricardo Vargas of CINEP, a Colombian human rights organisation. “Today it is impossible to separate the problem of illicit cultivation from the conflict itself. Support to fumigation operations by the military, when the commitment of troops is conceived as fighting the so-called narco-guerrilla, makes fumigation part of counter-insurgency objectives.” (36)


References

1. Los cultivos ilícitos siguen en bonanza, El Espectador, 29 August 1998.

2. Como arar en el mar, Revista Semana, 26 January 1998.

3. For an overview of the environmental damage and health problems caused by fumigation, see: Coletta Youngers, Coca Eradication Efforts in Colombia, WOLA: Washington June 1997. The briefing also reports helicopter gunfire on civilian populations prior to aerial fumigation.

4 Colombia wary of US-backed herbicide, Reuters, 15 April 1998; and Coca, Poppy Killer May Harm Amazon, Associated Press, 23 April 1998.

5 Tebuthiuron granules, sold commercially as Spike 20P, should be used “caully and in controlled situations,” Dow cautioned, because “it can be very risky in situations where terrain has slopes, rainfall is significant, desirable plants are nearby and application is made under less than ideal circumstances.” See: Colombia to Test Herbicide Against Coca Crops, The New York Times, June 20, 1998; and Herbicides versus market forces, The Economist, 11 April 1998.

6. Drug Eradication Programme Fails, Associated Press, 16 August, 1998.

7. Colombia Calls Drug Crop Eradication A Failure, Reuters, 9 September 1998.

8. “Las Farc quieren romper con narcos”, El Espectador, 26 July 1998; Colombian Farmers Cultivating More Coca Crops Than Ever, The Houston Chronicle, 23 August 1998; and Colombia Fights its Dependence on Coca Economy, The Miami Herald, 31 August 1998.

9. Condiciones de E.U. para certificación, El Espectador, 10 August 1998. Translated from the Spanish original text: Expansión e intensificación del programmea de erradicación: El programmea de erradicación adelantado por la Policía Nacional logró excelentes resultados en 1997, habiéndose logrado una reducción del 25% en el departamento del Guaviare, el área de mayor concentración de la fumigación. Infortunadamente se presentó una masiva expansión de cultivos de coca por fuera de esa zona. Nuestro mutuo desafío consiste en enfrentar dicha expansión. Apoyamos la ampliación del programmea de erradicación aérea en Caquetá y el inicio de operaciones en Putumayo durante 1998. Para lograr resultados efectivos, los pilotos norteamericanos deben ser socios totales en las operaciones de erradicación que se adelanten en el sur, sin restricciones indebidas. Estamos firmemente en favour de un programmea de ensayo de un herbicida granular eficaz, que en materia económica sea viable y ambientalmente seguro.

10. US Launches Covert Programme to Aid Colombia, The Dallas Morning News, August 19, 1998; and US officials Deny Direct Colombia Aid, The Dallas Morning News, August 21, 1998.

11. US Will Help Coca Growers Switch to Other Crops, The New York Times, 13 August, 1998.

12. In Colombia, Plan To Replace Coca Is Scorned, The New York Times, 20 August, 1998.

13. Colombian Farmers Cultivating More Coca Crops Than Ever, The Houston Chronicle, 23 August, 1998.

14. Paz pero no a costa de narcóticos, El Espectador, 9 September 1998.
15. Colombia Urges Peace with Rebels, Associated Press, 22 October 1998; and Colombian President Seeks to Ease Drug Friction with US, Associated Press, 28 October 1998.

16. Fumigación, piedra del escándalo, El Espectador, 17 October 1998.

17. Introduction of the “Western Hemisphere Drug Elimination Act”, Hon. Bill McCollum of Florida in the House of Representatives, July 22, 1998 (H.R.4300 House of Representatives).

18. US Drug Czar Questions Colombia Rebels On Peace, Reuters, 9 August, 1998.

19. US Launches Covert Programme to Aid Colombia.

20. “Las Farc quieren romper con narcos”, El Espectador, 26 July 1998.

21. Eln ofrece coordinar sustitución de cultivos, El Espectador, 15 August 1998.

22. Marulanda said this during a conversation with the Secretary-General of the Partido Comunista de Argentina, Patricio Echegaray, which was published in the Argentinean daily Clarín. Otro camino para los cultivos ilícitos, El Espectador, 10 September,1998.

23. Paz pero no a costa de narcóticos, El Espectador, 9 September 1998.

24. Segundo impulso, Revista Semana, 14 September, 1998

25. Olor a desierto en la Amazonia y Orinoquia, El Espectador, 16 September 1998.

26. Así son las temibles “fumigas” en Caquetá, El Espectador, 2 May 1998.

27. Utilización de Imazapyr en las fumigación de Cultivos Ilícitos en el Departamento del Putumayo, Report of the Defensoría del Pueblo, 30 October 1998. Samples out of the area were analysed at the Universidad de los Andes and identified as imazapyr.

28. Drugs and Development, monthly newsletter of ENCOD, No. 11 September 1998.

29. Las largas alas del ‘cartel azul’, El Tiempo, 11 November 1998. The article documents the long history —since 1984— of drug and arms trafficking of the Colombian Air Force, the so-called Blue Cartel.

30. Ejército a combatir narcotráfico, El Espectador, 24 September, 1998.

31. Controversia por Ejército antinarcóticos, El Espectador, 27 September, 1998.

32. General Accounting Office, Drug Control: US Counternarcotics Efforts in Colombia Face Continuing Challenges, February 1998, GAO/NSIAD-98-60. According to the Dallas Morning News, the United States earmarked more than $830 million in counternarcotics support to Colombia since 1990, citing the February GAO report and other official data. Only one-third went directly to anti-narcotics assistance, while the remaining two-thirds went for military-related expenditures. US Launches Covert Programme to Aid Colombia, Dallas Morning News, 19 August, 1998.

33. US Launches Covert Programme to Aid Colombia, Dallas Morning News, 19 August, 1998.

34. Coletta Youngers & Peter Zirnite, El peor enemigo de sí mismo: la guerra antidrogas de Washington en América Latina, in Democracias bajo fuego – Drogas y poder en América Latina, TNI/Acción Andina/Brecha: Montevideo 1998, p.220-221

35. General Accounting Office, Long-Standing Problems Hinder US International Efforts, GAO/NSIAD-97-75, February 1997, p. 16; Youngers & Zirnite, op cit., p. 267.

36. Ricardo Vargas, The Impact of Aerial Fumigation Efforts in Colombia, statement at conference The War on Drugs: Addicted to failure, Washington, June 11, 1998.

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Damning report documents continuation of ‘false-positives’

NOVANEWS

 

News from Colombia 

In spite of a changed discourse towards human rights in Colombia, little has changed. Whilst the Colombian government, with support from the UK, the US and governments across the European Union, has worked tirelessly to build up a false image of Colombia as a country with a drastically improved human rights record, the reality is that Colombia continues to have one of the highest levels of human rights abuses in the world.

A new report released today by the respected Colombian human rights observatory, CINEP, details the severe human rights crisis in Colombia focusing particularly on the continuing cases of ‘false positives’ and the continued existence of state linked paramilitary structures across the country. The ‘false positive scandal erupted in 2008 when the Colombian government accepted publicly that the Army was killing civilians, normally from the poorest regions and neighbourhoods, and dressing them up as guerrillas fighters in order to boost figures. The UN reported in February that there had been more than 5,000 victims. Few members of the Army have been charged and many Army officials implicated in the scandal are still in uniform. Juan Manuel Santos, the current president of Colombia, was Defence Minister when this practice was most systematic. Now as President, Santos has denied that any civilians are being killed in this way – earlier this year he claimed that no ‘false positives’ were reported in 2012. His claims directly contradict the repeated findings of human rights organisations and this latest report from CINEP which asserts that in 2012 the Army and the Police killed twelve innocent civilians and then presented them as guerrillas killed in combat. The report concludes that the continuation of the practice is a direct result of the government’s determination to falsely exaggerate its military dominance over the guerrillas. Far from disappearing, during 2012 the number of ‘false positives’ is at its highest level for several years.

In addition to the twelve murders, the report also reveals how the practice of ‘judicial false positives’ continues. In Colombia there are thousands of political prisoners: social activists who are accused of involvement with the guerrillas and are sent to jail either without being charged or under trials that disregard international standards on due process. These activists are targeted in order to silence them, directly prevent them from opposing government policy, and to deligitimise their democractic protest by accusing them of being guerrillas. CINEP recorded 39 people were falsely charged of guerrilla involvement during 2012. The direct relationship between democratic protests and ensuing illegal prosecution was most clearly demonstrated in August when 23 peasant farmers from northwest Colombia were detained after taking part in protests against a planned hydroelectric plant. Such detentions have continued into 2013 with the detention in May of eight members of the peasant farmer organisation ASTRACATOL.

The report also highlights the continued existence of right-wing paramilitaries across the country. In terms of both human rights violations and breaches of International Humanitarian Law the paramilitaries, operating with direct and indirect support from Colombian state forces, were once again the principal authors. As with ‘false-positives’, the Colombian government has made efforts to deny the existence of these paramilitary groups; they instead refer to them as criminal gangs in an effort to deny their entrenched relationship with Colombian state institutions.

 

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Attempted murder and death threats made against oil workers

NOVANEWS

 

News from Colombia 

“Death to those guerrilla sons of bitches. We invite you to their funeral in 48 hours”.

This was the death threat distributed in the oil producing city of Barrancabermeja earlier this week. Four oil workers, member of the oil workers trade union USO, were named.

In a public statement the union expressed its complete condemnation of threats against its members and called on the government to ensure that guarantees are given for trade unions to operate in safety. Colombia is still the most dangerous country in the world to be a trade unionist. 20 trade unionists were killed in 2012. The death threat was signed by the paramilitary organisation Los Rastrojos who have a strong presence in the region in spite of complete military control of the area. the threat also makes a direct reference to the union members work saying that they were “upsetting the tranquility” and that the oil company Occidental Andina is “here to stay”.

The threats come in a month that has seen several threats and attacks against USO members. On 7 May 2013 Rafael Rodriguez Moro narrowly escaped after he was shot at by gunmen on a motorcycle as he was shopping in a chemist and on 9 May 2013 another union member, Ariel Corzo, received a text message death threat to his phone.

USO has repeatedly denounced attacks against its members and particularly the pattern of increased attacks at times of industrial dispute. It has called on the government to make statements defending the legal right to organise in a trade union but as yet the government has kept complete silence. As is common for attacks against trade unionists nobody has been charged for any of the threats or attacks. Indeed of more than 3,000 trade unionists killed since 1986, there is an impunity rate of 95%.

The union called on its members to not weaken in face of the threats and to continue with determination in their struggle for workers’ rights.

 

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