Archive | October 12th, 2015

Nazi Forces Continue to Kill Palestinians on Grounds of Alleged Stabbing Attempts

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The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) condemns in the strongest terms the crime committed by Nazi forces on Monday morning, 12 October 2015, in occupied East Jerusalem, which resulted in killing Mostafa al-Khateeb on the grounds of suspicions, as this crime amounts to extra-judicial execution. Committing such crimes as a policy adopted by Nazi forces is a translation of the decisions taken by the Nazi government and statements made by its members inciting for killing Palestinian civilians, who carry out and/or attempt to carry out stabbings against Nazi forces, police and settlers. Furthermore, PCHR denounces this crime that is added to the series of Nazi crimes committed in East Jerusalem in particular, and the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) in general. Therefore, PCHR calls upon the international community to take immediate action and fulfill its legal and moral obligations to protect the Palestinian civilians in the oPt. PCHR believes that the silence of the international community towards these crimes encourages the Nazi regime to continue its policy that violates international humanitarian law.

According to investigations conducted by PCHR, at approximately 08:20, on the abovementioned day, while Mostafa Adel al-Khateeb (18), from Sour Baher village south of occupied East Jerusalem, was inside his car near al-Asbat Gate, which is one of the Old City gates, Nazi forces ordered him to step out of the car to be searched. Once he did, Nazi forces directly opened fire at him, as he was putting his hand in his pocket, raising suspicion for Nazi forces of an attempt to stab Nazi soldiers in the area. As a result, he was killed by over 10 bullets; some bullets hit him in the head and others penetrated his body.

The Nazi police was confused when addressing the incident. In the first statement made by the Nazi police, it was reported that the young man had stabbed a settler. However, they issued another statement claiming that he stabbed an Nazi soldier, but a third statement claimed that he refused to obey the Nazi Border Guard officer’s orders to be searched and that he was hiding a knife in his pocket to stab somebody over there. The final statement explained that he attempted to stab an Nazi soldier in the place, but the bulletproof vest protected the soldier.

It should be noted that this crime is the fifth of its kind committed by Nazi forces in Jerusalem within 10 days. On 03 October 2015, Nazi special officers killed Mohannad Shafiq Halabi (19) on the grounds of stabbing 2 settlers near the Hospice Hotel in al-Wad Street in the Old City. Few hours later, an Nazi police officer opened fire from a close range at Fadi Samir Mostafa Aloon (19), from al-Eisawiya village, northeast of East Jerusalem, as they claimed that he attempted to stab a 15-year-old settler. In addition, on 10 October 2015, Nazi police officers opened fire at Ishac Qasem Badran (16), from Kufor Aqeb north of the city, after he stabbed 2 settlers in al-Mesrara area, where he was left bleeding to death. Also on the same day, Nazi forces opened fire at Mohammed Sa’id Mohammed Ali (19), from Shu’fat refugee camp, after he stabbed 2 officers of the Nazi special forces in al-Amoud Gate area. As a result, Ali was immediately killed.

PCHR strongly condemns the use of excessive force by Nazi forces against the Palestinian civilians in disregard for their lives.  PCHR stresses that in the above-mentioned cases, Nazi forces could have used less force against the victims or could have arrested them. PCHR calls upon the international community to take immediate and effective actions to put an end to such crimes and reiterates its call for the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 to fulfill their obligations under Article 1; i.e., to respect and to ensure respect for the Convention in all circumstances, and their obligation under Article 146 to prosecute persons alleged to commit grave breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention.  These grave breaches constitute war crimes under Article 147 of the same Convention and Protocol I Additional to the Geneva Conventions.

 

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After 70 Years: The UN Falls Short, and Yet..

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by Dr: Richard Falk

(Prefatory Note: A shorter somewhat modified version of this post was published in Al Jazeera Turka, but only in Turkish translation. The thesis set forth is that the UN has disappointed the expectations of those who took seriously its original promise of war prevention, but that it has over its lifetime done many things that need doing in the world. It also provided a meeting place for all governments, and has developed the best networking sites for all those concerned with the state of the world and what can be done by way of improvement. The UN System faces an important test in the upcoming UN Climate Change Conference to be held in Paris at the end of November. The event is billed as the make or break session for the governments of the world to agree finally to serve the human interest by establishing a strong enough framework of constraint governing the release of greenhouse gasses that will satisfy the scientific consensus that global warming will not eventuate in human disaster. If Paris is generally regarded as successful, the UN stock will rise steeply, but if it should fail, then its stature and role of the Organization could become even more marginalized. Either way, it is important to appreciate that the UN as of 2015 is a very different kind of political actor than when it was founded in 1945, disappointing to those who hoped for permanent peace and some justice, while pleasing to those who sought from the outset a wider global agenda for the Organization and felt that its best contributions would likely be in a wide range of practical concerns where the interests of major political actors more or less overlap.]

After 70 Years: The UN Falls Short, and Yet..

When the UN was established in the aftermath of the Second World War hopes were high that this new world organization would be a major force in world politics, and fulfill its Preamble pledge to prevent future wars. Seventy years later the UN disappoints many, and bores even more, appearing to be nothing more that a gathering place for the politically powerful. I think such a negative image has taken hold because the UN these days seems more than ever like a spectator than a political actor in the several crises that dominate the current agenda of global politics. This impression of paralysis and impotence has risen to new heights in recent years.

When we consider the waves of migrants fleeing war torn countries in the Middle East and Africa or four years of devastating civil war in Syria or 68 years of failure to find a solution for the Israel/Palestine conflict or the inability to shape a treaty to rid the world of nuclear weapons, and on and on, it becomes clear that the UN is not living up to the expectations created by its own Charter and the fervent hopes of people around the world yearning for peace and justice.

The UN itself seems unreformable, unable to adapt its structures and operations to changes in the global setting. The Security Council’s five permanent members are still the five winners in World War II, taking no account of the rise of India, Brazil, Indonesia, Nigeria or even the European Union. Despite globalization and the transnational rise of civil society, states and only states are eligible for UN membership and meaningful participation in the multifold operations of the Organization.

How can we explain this disappointment? We must at the outset acknowledge that the high hopes attached to the UN early on were never realistic. After all, the Charter itself acknowledged the geopolitical major premise, which is the radical inequality of sovereign states when it comes to power and wealth. Five permanent seats in the Security Council were set aside for these actors that seemed dominant in 1945. More importantly, they were given an unrestricted right to veto any decision that went against their interests or values, or those of its allies and friends. In effect, the constitution of the Organization endowed the potentially most dangerous states in the world, at least as measured by war making capabilities, with the option of being exempt from UN authority and international law.

Such an architectural feature of the UN was not a quixotic oversight of the founders. It was a deliberate step taken to overcome what perceived to be a weakness of the League of Nations established after World War I, which did look upon the equality of sovereign states as the unchallengeable constitutional foundation of an organization dedicated to preserving international peace. The experience of the League was interpreted as discouraging the most powerful states from meaningful participation (and in the case of the United States, from any participation at all) precisely because their geopolitical role was not taken into account.

In practice over the life of the UN, the veto has had a crippling political effect as it has meant that the UN cannot make any strong response unless the permanent five (P5) agree, which as we have learned during the Cold War and even since, is not very often. There is little doubt that without the veto possessed by Russia the UN would have been far more assertive in relation to the Syrian catastrophe, and not found itself confined to offering its good offices to a regime in Damascus that never seemed sincere about ending the violence or finding a political solution except on its own harsh terms of all out defeat of its adversaries.

Of course, the General Assembly, which brings all 194 member states together, supposedly has the authority to make recommendations, and act when the Security Council is blocked. It has not worked out that way. After the General Assembly flexed its muscles in the early 1970s emboldened by the outcome of the main colonial wars geopolitics took over. The GA became a venue controlled by the non-aligned movement, and in 1974 when it found backing for the Declaration of a New International Economic Order the writing was on the wall. The larger capitalist states fought back, and were able to pull enough strings to ensure that almost all authority to take action became concentrated in the Security Council. The Soviet Union went along, worried about political majorities against its interests, and comfortable with the availability of the veto as needed. The General Assembly has been since mainly relegated to serving the world as a talk shop, and is hardly noticed when it comes to crisis management or lawmaking. Despite this development the GA is still relevant to the formation of world public opinion. Its Autumn session provides the leaders of the world with the most influential lectern at which to express their worldview and recommendations for the future. Even Pope Francis took advantage of such an influential platform on which to articulate his concerns, hopes, and prescriptions.

There is an additional fundamental explanation of why the UN cannot do more in response to the global crises that are bringing such widespread human suffering to many peoples in the world. The UN was constructed on the basis of mutual and legally unconditional respect for the territorial sovereignty of its members. The Charter itself in Article 2(7) prohibits the UN from intervening in matters that are essentially internal to a state, such as strife, insurgency, abridgement of human rights, and even civil war. Such an insulation of domestic strife runs counter to the practice of intervention by geopolitical actors, and in this respect gives the UN framework a legalistic character that is not descriptive of the manner in which world politics operates.  

True, when the political winds blow strongly in certain threatening directions as was the case in relation to Serbian behavior in Kosovo that seemed to be on the verge of repeating the Srebrenica massacre of 1995, NATO effectively intervened but without the blessings of the UN, and hence in violation of international law. Then again in Libya the Security Council actually gave its approval for a limitedintervention in the form of a no-fly-zone to avoid a humanitarian catastrophe befalling the besieged inhabitants of Benghazi. In that setting, the SC relying on the new norm of ‘responsibility-to-protect’ or R2P to justify its use of force. When NATO immediately converted this limited UN mandate into a regime-changing intervention that led to the execution of Qaddafi and the replacement of the Libyan government it was clear that the R2P argument acted as little more than a pretext to pursue a more ambitious, yet legally dubious and politically unacceptable, Western agenda in the country. R2P diplomacy has been further discredited by the failure to offer UN protection in the extreme circumstances of Palestine, Syria, and now Yemen.

Not surprisingly, Russia and China that had been persuaded by Western powers in 2011 to go along with the establishment of a no-fly-zone to protect Benghazi felt deceived and manipulated. These governments lost their trust in the capacity of the Security Council to set limits that would be respected once a decision was reached. This is part of the story of why the UN has been gridlocked when it came to Syria, and why R2P has been kept on the diplomatic shelf. The Security Council to be able to overcome the veto depends upon trust among the P5 sufficient to achieve a consensus, which was badly betrayed by what NATO did in Libya. Human rights advocates have long put forward the idea that the P5 agree informally or by formal resolution to forego the use of the veto in devising responses to mass atrocities, but so far, there has been little resonance. Similarly, sensible proposals to establish an UN Peace Force that could respond quickly to natural and humanitarian catastrophes on the originating initiative of the UN Secretary General have also not found much political resonance over the years. It would seem that the P5 are unwilling to relax their grip on the geopolitical reins on UN authority established in the very different world situation that existed in 1945.

Kosovo showed that, at times, humanitarian pressures (when reinforcing dominant geopolitical interests) induce states to act outside the UN framework, while Libya illustrates the long term weakening of UN capacity and legitimacy by manipulating the debate to gain support of skeptical states for intervention in an immediate war/peace and human rights situation. The hypocrisy of the R2P diplomacy by the failure to make a protective response of any kind to the acute vulnerability of such abused minorities as the Uighurs in Xinjiang Province of China, the Rohingya in Rankhine State of Myanmar, and of course the Palestinians of Palestine. There are, of course, many other victimized groups whose rights are trampled upon by the state apparatus of control that for UN purposes is treated as their sole and unreviewable legal protector.

In the end, what this pattern adds up to is a clear demonstration of the persisting primacy of geopolitics within the UN. When the P5 agree, the UN can generally do whatever the consensus mandates, although it technically requires additional support from non-permanent members of the SC. If there is no agreement, then the UN is paralyzed when it comes to action, and geopolitical actors have a political option of acting unlawfully, that is, without obtaining prior authority from the Security Council and in contravention of international law. This happened in 2003 when the U.S. Government failed to gain support from the SC for its proposed military attack upon Iraq, and went ahead anyway, with disastrous results for itself, and even more so for the Iraqi people.

It is helpful to appreciate that disappointment with the role of the UN is usually less the fault of the Organization than of the behavior of the geopolitical heavyweights. If we want a stronger UN then it will be necessary to constrain geopolitics, and make all states, including the P5 subject to the restraints of international law and sensitive to moral imperatives.

Another kind of UN reform that should have been achieved decades ago is to make the P5 into the P8 or P9 by enlarging permanent membership to include a member from Asia (additional to China), Africa, and Latin America. This would give the Security Council and the UN more legitimacy in a post-colonial world where shifts in the global balance are still suppressed.

Along with the above explanation of public disappointment, there are also many reasons to be grateful for the existence of the UN and to be thankful that despite the many conflicts in the world during its lifetime every state in the world has wanted to become a member, and none have exhibited their displeasure with UN policies to leave the Organization. Given the intensity of conflict in the world, sustaining this universality is itself a remarkable achievement. It perhaps expresses the unanticipated significance of the UN as the most influential and versatile hub for global communications.

There are other major UN contributions to human wellbeing. The UN has been principally responsible for the rise of human rights and environmental protection, and has done much to improve global health, preserve cultural heritage, protect children, and inform us about the hazards of ignoring climate change.

We could live better with a stronger UN, but we would be far worse off if the UN didn’t exist or collapsed. The only constructive approach is to do our best in the years ahead to make the UN more effective, less victimized by geopolitical maneuvering, and more attuned to achieving humane global governance.

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Solidarity with the Palestinian popular resistance! Boycott the Nazi regime now!

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Whether the current phase of Israel’s intensified repression and Palestinian popular resistance will evolve into a full-fledged intifada or not, one thing is already evident—a new generation of Palestinians is marching on the footsteps of previous generations, rising up en masse against Israel’s brutal, decades-old regime of occupation, settler colonialism and apartheid.

World governments, especially in the west, are calling this a “cycle of violence” where both sides are to blame, ignoring the root cause of the colonial conflict and their own complicity in enabling Israel to maintain it and to violate international law with impunity. Almost all Palestinians today are calling for a full boycott of Israel and for isolating it internationally, in all fields, just as apartheid South African once was.

In this latest round, Israel has fanned the flames of Palestinian grassroots resistance by stepping up its attacks against al-Aqsa mosque compound, the Noble Sanctuary, located in the heart of the Israeli occupied Old City of Jerusalem. Fanatic, government-backed Jewish fundamentalist settler groups have persistently desecrated the compound, often verbally insulting worshippers with vile racism and openly calling for the destruction of the mosque. This has triggered widespread anger and protests in Jerusalem and among Palestinians everywhere in historic Palestine.

Typically, the Israeli army’s response was to protect the criminal settlers and punish the Palestinian victims, ultimately denying almost all Palestinians access to their holy site.

These threats are taken seriously by Palestinians who suffer daily the consequences of Israel’s official policy of “Judaization” of the city, a policy of gradually colonizing the land and replacing its indigenous Christian and Muslim Palestinian population with illegal Jewish settlers. This policy, which amounts to ethnic cleansing and a war crime under international law, is implemented through incessant land confiscations, expansion of the colonial wall, house demolitions, settler take-overs of Palestinian homes, extrajudicial killings, arrests and expulsions, all supported by Israel’s “justice” system, a constantly reliable, rubber-stamp partner in crime.

The latest Israeli attack against the al-Aqsa mosque in occupied East Jerusalem, moreover, is not an isolated incident. Hundreds of historic churches and mosques have been destroyed by Zionist militias and later the Israeli state since 1948. Last summer, during the massacre in Gaza, Israel bombed to the ground 73 mosques. Many Palestinian churches and mosques have been defaced or otherwise desecrated this year alone by Jewish extremists in so-called “price tag attacks,” including the Church of Loaves and Fishes (Multiplication), overlooking Lake Tiberias, which was set on fire last June.

These racist and criminal attacks against Palestinians and their freedom of religion come as an extension of a massive shift in Israel to the extreme right and the unprecedented prevalence in Israeli society of overt, deeply-seated colonial racism and racial hatred against the indigenous Palestinian people.

Virtually all Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza are denied access to Jerusalem, which is besieged by walls, watch towers and barbed wire, and are subject to daily assault and humiliation.

In a typical so-called “period of calm”, Israel enforces its medieval siege of Gaza, conducts incursions into Palestinians cities, confiscates Palestinian land, including in the Naqab (Negev), destroys Palestinian property, and builds illegal Jewish-only settlements. In its ongoing attempts to entrench its system of apartheid and colonial rule, Israel denies Palestinians their full spectrum of rights in the most banal of ways, from a child’s right to education to a mother’s access to health care, to a farmer’s ability to reach his/her land and to the right of a family to even live together in one home. And all this is done with the blessing of the courts.

In light of the apathy or direct complicity of world governments and the UN, and as a result of Israel’s impunity in perpetuating this system of injustice against Palestinians, in historic Palestine as well as in exile, the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement has made great strides in redefining Israel’s positioning in the world stage as a pariah state.

Through boycotts of institutions that are complicit in Israeli violations of international law, through divestment from corporations supporting Israeli oppression and through a principled call for sanctions against Israel, the BDS movement has increased the isolation of Israel and started to impose costs on its regime of settler-colonialism, apartheid and occupation.

The World Bank has revealed that Palestinian imports from Israel are falling significantly. Israeli businessmen are reporting that European investors are no longer willing to invest in Israel, while a UN study confirms that foreign direct investment in Israel dropped by 46% in 2014, as compared to 2013. A Rand study predicts that BDS may cost Israel between 1% and 2% of its GDP each year over the next ten years, and, most recently, credit rating agency Moody’s has reported that BDS is a potential threat to the Israeli economy.

More needs to be done, however, to hold Israel to account and shatter its still strong impunity. Complicit governments must be exposed. Corporations that are enabling and profiting from Israel’s human rights violations must pay a price in their reputation and revenues. Israel’s military machine, including its research arm, must face a comprehensive international military embargo, and all Israeli leaders, officers and soldiers who are involved in the commission of the current and past crimes must be prosecuted at the International Criminal Court as well as national courts that respect international jurisdiction.

Israel is not just oppressing Palestinians; it is exporting its ruthless model of securitization and repression to the world. Israel is deeply involved in training and arming death squads in Latin America, often as a US proxy, selling weapons and military expertise to dictatorships in Asia and Africa, often to both sides of a civil war, and militarizing police forces in FergusonLos AngelesLondon and cities around the world. Israel today is a key player in domestic repression against racial, social, economic and environmental justice movements around the world.

The Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC), the Palestinian leadership of the global BDS movement, calls on people of conscience around the world to support Palestinians in their quest for freedom at this crucial moment by stepping up BDS activities against Israel’s regime of oppression. In particular, and related to the current mass revolt on the streets of Palestine, we call on supporters of the Palestinian struggle to:

  • Build awareness about Palestinian rights under international law and support for BDS through media outreach, including social media;
  • Campaign against Israeli military companies such as Elbit Systems;
  • Support boycott and divestment campaigns against complicit companies, such as G4S and HP, that are most blatantly complicit in Israel’s infrastructure of oppression;
  • Pass effective and strategic, not just symbolic, BDS resolutions in unions, academic associations, student governments and social movements that can lead to concrete measures, and enhance the cultural boycott of Israel;
  • Consider legal action against Israeli criminals (soldiers, settlers, officers and decision-makers) and against executives of corporations that are implicated in Israel’s crimes and violations of international law.

Like their parents’ generation, the thousands of Palestinian youth in Jerusalem, Gaza, Ramallah, Hebron, Bethlehem, Jaffa, Nazareth and elsewhere who have taken to the streets in large protests against Israel’s occupation and apartheid are first and foremost shaking off despair and liberating their minds of the myth of oppression as fate. They are also nourishing the entire Palestinian people’s aspiration to self-determination and living in freedom, dignity and a just peace.

It is high time to isolate Israel’s regime of militarization, securitization and racism as a danger not just to Palestinians and the Arab region, but to humanity at large.

 

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Nazi Attacks on Fishermen in the Gaza Sea

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The Israeli navy regularly attacks and captures fishermen in Palestinian waters off the Gaza Strip. (Photo by Rosa Schiano)

Nazi Naval forces continued to carry out attacks on Palestinian fishermen in the Gaza Strip during the reporting period (01-30 September 2015), including 7 shooting incidents that resulted in wounding a child accompanying his father on Beit Lahia shore. Moreover, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) documented 3 shelling incidents by Nazi gunboats and a crash incident due to which fishing boat was drowned.

The Nazi naval forces did not comply with the ceasefire agreement concluded between Nazi and Palestinian armed groups under Egyptian auspices on 26 August 2014.  This agreement includes allowing Palestinian fishermen to sail within 6 nautical miles in the Gaza Sea.  According to PCHR’s investigations, all attacks took place within the distance of 6 nautical miles, which proves that Nazi forces’ policies aim to tighten restrictions on the Gaza Strip’s fishermen and their livelihoods.

 

Violations of the International Humanitarian and Human Rights Law

Nazi attacks against Palestinian fishermen, who do not pose any threat to Nazi soldiers, in the Gaza Strip constitute a flagrant violation of international humanitarian and human rights law, relevant to the protection of the civilian population and respect for its rights, including every person’s right to work, and the right to life, liberty and security of person, as codified in Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), despite the fact that Nazi is a State Party to the Covenant.  Furthermore, these attacks occurred in a time where the fishers did not pose any threat to the Nazi naval troops, as they were doing their job to secure a living.  Nazi violations in the reporting period were as follows:

First: Shooting Incidents

During the reporting period, PCHR documented 7 shooting incidents and 3 shelling ones.  The shooting incidents took place within the allowed fishing area as follows: the northern Gaza Strip and Khan Yunis. One of the shooting incidents led to injuring a child while he was accompanying his father on Beit Lahia shore.

 

Second: A child wounded adjacent to northern Gaza Strip shore.

–         At approximately 18:00, 03 September 2015, Israeli forces stationed inside the watchtowers adjacent to al-Seyafa area, northwest of Beit Lahia village, north of the Gaza Strip, opened fire at a group of fishermen who were angling in the vicinity of the border fence. As a result, Belal Omer Yousef Abu Amr, 10, from al-Manshiya area in Beit Lahia village, sustained a bullet wound to the right thigh while he was accompanying his father, who was angling 50 meters away from the border fence.  Abu Amr was taken to Kmal ‘Edwan Hospital to receive medical treatment, where a medical source stated that his wound was moderate.   

 

Third: Damaging Fishing Equipment

–          At approximately 19:30 on 26 September 2015, an Israeli gunboat collided with a fishing boat that was sailing within 3 nautical miles off Khan Yunis shore.

Foaad al-‘Amoudy, head of the Fishermen Syndicate, said to PCHR’s fieldworker that an Israeli gunboat approached a fishing boat owned by him along with three other persons. The aforementioned fishing boat was sailing within 3 nautical miles off Khan Yunis shore. The Israeli gunboat pointed torches at the fishing boat and then collided with, due to which the fishing boat was drowned. The fishing boat owners headed to the place later, where the boat sank, but they did not find it.

Table of Nazi Attacks on Palestinian Fishermen in the Gaza Strip in September 2015

Month Shooting Shelling Injuries Damaging Fishing Nets
September 2015

7

3

1

1

  

Table of Nazi Attacks on Palestinian Fishermen in the Gaza Strip since the beginning of 2015

Month

Firing

Injuries

Arrest Incidents

Number of Detainees

Confiscation of Fishing Boats

Confiscation of Fishing nets

Damaging Fishing Equipment

January

12

4

2

8

1

2

4

February

15

March

12

2

2

6

3

1

April

15

1

2 (fishing boat – net)

May

27

7

1

2

1

1

3

June

10

4

14

3

2

3

July

7

3

8

4

August

6

2

1

1

September

7

1

1 fishing boat

Total

111

22

40

13

5

15

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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India: A Government Of The RSS, By The RSS, For The RSS

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The Modi Government, instead of being a ‘Government of the people, by the people, for the people,’ is proving to be a ‘Government of the RSS, by the RSS and for the RSS.’

Recently, the country has witnessed the Prime Ministers and top Ministers of the elected Government of India reporting meekly to an unconstitutional, communal fascist authority – the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) in a secretive session.

This summit proves that the Sangh leaders (Bhagwat, Togadia, and others) that declare India to be a Hindu Nation and indulge in hate speech against Muslims, Christians, Dalits and women, are not ‘fringe elements’ – they are the bosses of the Modi Government.

Reportedly, at the ‘coordination meet’ of the Modi Government with the RSS, the Culture Minister in the Modi Cabinet, Mahesh Sharma pledged to rid India’s educational and cultural institutions of ‘cultural pollution.’ Later, the Culture Minister elaborated on what he meant by ‘cultural pollution.’ The Minister said that the Gita and Ramayana ‘reflect India’s soul’ and must be taught in schools, while the Quran and the Bible are mere religious texts which are “not central to the soul of India.” He declared that Hindi is India’s “national language” and should be made compulsory in all Indian schools. According to him, “Indian culture” is defined by “women of three generations cooking in the same kitchen” and called for “protecting Indian culture” from pollution by “Western culture.” He also supported the ban on meat imposed by several BJP State Governments during the Jain festival. The Minister claimed that his Government had a mandate for saffronization because “125 crore Indians had voted for the Modi Government knowing what is RSS, what is BJP.” And he supported the renaming of Aurangzeb Road after APJ Abdul Kalam, saying that “Kalam was a great nationalist in spite of being a Muslim.”

In other words, the Modi Government has made it clear that it shares the same view of ‘Indian culture’ that the RSS does. It equates ‘Indian culture’ with Hindu upper caste culture, Hindi language, Sanskrit, vegetarian diet, Hindu religious texts, and the Hindu joint family and specifically the domestic roles defined for women in such families. In this RSS vision of India, a Muslim or Christian can be an Indian citizen only ‘in spite of’ his/her religious identity; languages other than Sanskrit and Hindi cannot be ‘national’ languages; vegetarian diet of the tiny upper caste minority will be imposed on the vast majority of non-vegetarians; and women’s freedom will be branded as ‘Western culture’. And while the Bible and Quran are seen as representatives of only their respective religions, the Hindu religious texts will be taught as representative of ‘Indian ideology’ and ‘Indian culture.’

What the Culture Minister left unsaid is the grim truth of what is being done to voices that challenge this bigoted model of ‘Indian culture.’ People like Prof Kalburgi, Narendra Dabholkar and Govind Pansare are killed for raising their voice against Hindutva bigots and conmen, writer MM Basheer is prevented from writing his version of the Ramayana, Hindutva goons use force to take AK Ramanujan’s essay on the many interpretations of the Ramayana off University syllabi, films ranging from documentaries on communal violence to a popular film like PK are threatened with bans or vandalism, saffron vigilante groups mete out violence to women wearing jeans, inter-faith couples in public places or couples celebrating Valentine’s Day.

Not long ago, VHP leader Pravin Togadia, one of the men to whom the Modi Government reported at the ‘coordination meet’ convened by the RSS, demanded that a law be enacted to criminalise any Muslim who has more than two children.

The Agriculture Minister in the Modi Cabinet has called for ‘Yogic farming’ to ‘increase potency of seeds by positive thinking.’ The RSS chief recently said that those Hindu values that “do not conform to scientific standards” should be discarded; but the problem is that the RSS claims various kinds of unscientific and obscurantist ideas to be ‘scientific.’ For instance the RSS ideologues claim that the figure of Ganesha proves that India invented plastic surgery, or that the myth of the Pushpak Viman proves that India invented aviation! Similarly, the Hindutva ideologues tend to proffer ‘scientific’ apologias for casteism and patriarchy. The manner in which HIndutva outfits have issued death threats to rationalists shows the hatred they have for science and rationality.

The Government is defending its ‘coordination meeting’ with the RSS by claiming that the RSS is a ‘civil society organization.’ The truth is that the RSS and its hydra-headed outfits are directly implicated in a wide range of communal pogroms and bomb blasts, assassinations of intellectuals and activists, caste massacres and violence against women’s freedoms.

In the Lok Sabha election campaign, Modi sought votes based on a promise of ‘development’ and ‘acche din’ (good times). He did not state that he would be taking his orders from the RSS, or that his Government would be interfering in kitchens and classrooms. The Modi Government certainly cannot claim any mandate for their unconstitutional agenda of imposing the narrow and bigoted RSS vision of India on the whole country.

The RSS has come out onto the stage from behind the curtains and is now openly showing that it holds the reins of the Modi Government in its hands. Meanwhile, enthusiasm and aggression with which Modi ministers are advancing the RSS agenda stands in stark contrast to the utter abdication of their actual ministerial responsibilities.

The open and brazen RSS display of authority over the Modi Government belies the illusions of the liberal right-wing ideologues who claimed that Modi would not toe the RSS line and would only deliver ‘development’. The fact is that both the corporates and the RSS see the Government as their tool and expect it to implement their agendas speedily and faithfully. The RSS is also in full cooperation with the pro-corporate agenda of the Government, as was seen by the manner in which the BMS withdrew from the workers’ All India General Strike. The corporate agenda has faced robust resistance and even won victories; the RSS agenda will also be resisted tooth and nail.

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Congratulations and Good Wishes to the People of Nepal

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The CPI(ML) congratulates the people of Nepal for having adopted a secular democratic Constitution. We honour the many heroic citizens of Nepal who struggled and sacrificed their lives in the struggle against a feudal monarchy. The Constitution adopted by Nepal today is a tribute to that remarkable republican movement spanning several decades.

The CPI(ML) condemns the arrogant Big Brotherly attempts by the Modi Government to interfere in Nepal’s sovereign process of framing their Constitution and tacitly foment unrest in Nepal. The sinister attempts of India’s ruling party to pressurize Nepal to opt for a Hindu Nation rather than a secular republic – such as the letter written by BJP MP Adityanath to Nepal’s leaders demanding that Nepal declare itself a Hindu Rashtra, ban cow slaughter and conversion – are also condemnable.

CPI(ML) wishes the people of Nepal well as they embark on this new secular democratic republican journey.

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Good Muslim/Bad Muslim: APJ Abdul Kalam/Aurangzeb?

NOVANEWS

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Kanika Singh

History has its heroes and villains, and one of the arch villains of Indian history has been Mughal emperor, Aurangzeb. We all love to hate him. He is blamed for and is representative of practically everything we hate about Mughal India or ‘Muslim rule’ as we popularly and incorrectly remember it. There is a long list of ‘good’ people he has killed: his elder brother, Dara Shukoh, who was a sufi and of creative mind, Sikh Guru Teg Bahadur, Maratha leader Sambhaji, Sufis like Sarmad; re-imposed the jaziya, demolished temples and forced Hindus to convert to Islam. He is considered a symbol of oppression and tyranny. So, what was so wrong about renaming Aurangzeb Road after the ‘much-loved people’s President’, APJ Abdul Kalam?

Firstly, the commonly accepted notion that Aurangzeb was a religious fanatic who oppressed the Hindus is a myth. This idea is part of a larger notion of history, albeit an incorrect one – that with the coming of Mohammad Ghori ((Turkish invasions), began the ‘Muslim’ rule in Indian sub-continent. And that this rule was characterised by oppression of Hindus and destruction of temples. The rulers are believed to be driven by religious zeal and hatred for Hindus. There is little historical evidence to support such an argument, however, the fiction of Hindu oppression in medieval India continues to guide Hindu right wing politics. Such a notion of history divides the past into Hindu, Muslim, and British periods, based on the assumption that personalities and actions of individuals (great men) determined history. And the chief factor determining their personality was religion. This approach to history has long been discarded by scholarship as an inadequate way of understanding complex social processes. We now study Aurangzeb or any other historical personality, in their larger milieu, their actions being shaped by the context and vice versa. Moreover, when Muslim tyranny is invoked, we often forget that all monarchies are oppressive systems. Wars were regularly fought among competing powers through all times in history, and the leaders of these competing groups could often be of the same religion. Similarly, rulers of different religion (and indeed, ‘opposing’ religions, by today’s popular view) would often collaborate for political gains. This is most evident in the relations between Mughals and Marathas, and Mughals and Sikhs chiefs.

As far as temple destruction is concerned, noted historians, Richard Eaton and Richard Davis have pointed out that attacks on temples and temple deities which legitimized a rival ruler, were frequent part of medieval warfare and an accepted part of political behaviour. Eaton’s study of pattern of temple destruction by Turkish armies shows that only those temples which continued to be used by rival rulers to buttress their own authority, were attacked. Temples like those at Khajuraho, which appear to have been abandoned by Chandella rulers before the Turkish armies reach central India, were not destroyed. Another example, cited by Davis, is that of Pallava king Narsimhavarman, looting the image of Ganesha from the Chalukyan capital of Vatapi, in 642 AD. Fifty years later, the armies of the same Chalukyas invaded north India and brought back images of Yamuna and Ganga, looted from the defeated powers there. In early 10th century, the Pratihara king Herambapala seized a solid golden image of Vishnu Vaikuntha when he defeated the Sahi king of Kangra. By the mid 10th century, the same image was seized from the Pratiharas by Chandella king Yasovarman and installed in Lakshmana Temple in Khajuraho. Temples were sites of contestation even before the coming of Mohd.  Ghori, and, this pattern continued with the Turkish invasions of 12th century.  Thus painting a picture of fanatical and tyrannical ‘Muslim’ rule has no basis in historical evidence. As far as Aurangzeb’s reign is concerned, there are several instances of him giving grants to temples.  Those who claim he was anti-Hindu should chew on the fact that in the war of succession between ‘orthodox’ Aurangzeb and his ‘liberal’ brother Dara Shukoh, there were 21 Hindu generals on former’s side and 24 with the latter. Aurangzeb’s supporters included two of the most prominent of Rajputs, Mirza Raja Jai Singh Kachhwaha and Raja Jaswant Singh Rathore. And, Aurangzeb imposed the jaziya tax on Hindus, after the death of Jaswant Singh, when relations with Rathores deteriorated. Thus, political needs and demands of the situation, and not religion alone, determine rulers’ policies.

Further, renaming of Aurangzeb road is not merely an example of contesting interpretations of history. We must look at this issue from the point of view of its potential. What is the motivation for such renaming and what does one gain from it? Also, which group stands to gain? More than an academic dispute, such representation of history is a potent weapon for contemporary political gains. Identification of medieval period as ‘Muslim’ rule and particularly, as oppressive, has led to a popular, common sense understanding of Muslims as cruel and religious fanatics. This feeds into Islamophobia and only leads to further marginalisation of Muslims. Any attempt at affirmative action for the community is seen as Muslim appeasement. Muslims have come to be seen people who should be kept in check, lest they come to power and unleash the same violence again. And, this is to be achieved by assertion of the Hindu identity; which was humiliated with the coming of Muslims, and suffered oppression during the long centuries of ‘Muslim’ rule. Picking out historical characters, making villains out of them, and then seeking retribution by removing their trace, or replacing them with someone desirable; all of this goes towards mobilization of the Hindu population on a communal plank and is meant to make them feel avenged. The dangers of such a representation of history were manifest most obscenely in the demolition of Babri Masjid and the communal violence that followed.

Moreover, we should not mistake this act as a gesture of honouring Kalam. By this single stroke, the government has tried to show that it is not anti-Muslim, but only against ‘bad’ Muslims. Aurangzeb, the ‘bad’ Muslim is replaced by Kalam, the ‘good’ Muslim. Anyone who opposes removal of Aurangzeb’s name, ends up being labelled a dangerous fanatic, fit to be deported to Pakistan. As Gopalkrishna Gandhi argued, if the BJP government was truly serious about honouring the legacy of Kalam, then it could not have ignored Kalam’s opposition to death penalty. Commuting Yakub Memon’s death sentence would have been the most fitting tribute to the late President, as Gandhi argued. And that the Delhi government of AAP should have facilitated and celebrated this move of renaming, puts a question mark on its intent.

Removing Auragnzeb’s name from a particular road is not the end of the story. It was not too long ago when BPJ decided to celebrate the ‘Jat King’ Raja Mahendra Pratap Singh at Aligarh Muslim University insisting that he was not being given his due in a ‘Muslim’ university. The latest is Delhi BJP spokesperson, Ashwini Upadhyay’s demand that Shahjahan Road be renamed as the Emperor was the epitome of lust. This comes only a day after Union Minister of Culture, Mahesh Sharma pointed out that it was right to rename Aurangzeb road after APJ Abdul Kalam, as the latter was a humanist and a nationalist despite being a Muslim. Those who revel in correcting history and righting the injustices of the oppressive Muslim rule must ask themselves, what is more fanatical: a road named after Aurangzeb, or believing that all Muslims are anti-human and anti-national.

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Corbyn’s Agenda Galvanizes a Seismic Leftward Shift from Below

NOVANEWS

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Kalpana Wilson

Thousands of people had already gathered in London’s Hyde Park on 12th September for a mass demonstration in solidarity with refugees when news started spreading: Jeremy Corbyn had been announced the winner of the Labour party leadership contest. While Corbyn had been the frontrunner for weeks, few had predicted the scale of his victory in which the other candidates representing varying shades of Blairite neoliberalism were completely marginalised as he received 60% of total votes including 50% of the votes of full members of the Party. An over half a million-strong electorate consisting of Labour Party members, registered supporters and members of affiliated organizations like trade unions had chosen Corbyn overwhelmingly – despite the Labour Party machinery having ‘purged’ thousands of leftists who had joined in the course of the campaign by disqualifying them from voting. Later that afternoon, in an important first act as leader of the opposition, Corbyn addressed the ‘refugees welcome’ demonstrators as they ended the march and held a rally opposite Parliament, making an impassioned speech against war and for humanity and justice for refugees.

While in other countries in Europe the wave of resistance to austerity and neoliberalism has found expression in new political formations and alliances like Podemos in Spain and Syriza in Greece, in Britain it developed unexpectedly around the candidacy of veteran left-wing MP Jeremy Corbyn for the leadership of the Labour Party. Corbyn has not only been hailed as indisputably the ‘most left-wing’ figure to ever lead a major party in Britain but received the largest share of votes of any party leader in British history, bringing to a decisive end the stranglehold of what Tariq Ali calls the ‘extreme centre’: the neoliberal pro-austerity, pro-war consensus in British politics.

It was the movement which emerged around Corbyn’s candidacy and developed its own momentum which took the campaign from its initial objective of simply making sure a left perspective was represented in the contest – Corbyn struggled to get the 35 MPs required for a nomination, securing the last few nominations only minutes before the deadline – to a decisive victory. While the extent of Corbyn’s win was not predicted even towards the end of the campaign, it was clear that something was building when Corbyn’s campaign meetings as he toured the country drew audiences overflowing onto the streets, and young people – long dismissed in Britain as apathetic about politics – literally tried to climb in through the windows. It was not however Corbyn’s generally low-key speeches which were electrifying audiences – it was the agenda he was standing for : an alternative to austerity which included a  guaranteed living wage and an end to zero-hours contracts; reinstating the benefits which have been savagely cut by successive governments; abolishing tuition fees for university education; nationalization of banks, energy companies and railways; taxing the rich; ending military intervention abroad and scrapping the Trident nuclear weapons system; and a ‘new kind of politics’ built on grassroots democracy.

While some commentators have hailed the result as representing a return to the Labour Party of Keir Hardie who formed it in 1900 to represent working class interests in Parliament; or to the approach of the post- Second World War Labour government of Clement Atlee, celebrated for setting up the National Health Service and the welfare state, and others have used this parallel to argue that Corbyn is hopelessly outdated, there are fundamental differences: Corbyn is in fact very far from a 21st century avatar of ‘Old Labour’.

Firstly, the Labour Party has historically always been a pro-imperialist party. Long before Tony Blair’s crusade in Iraq, its strategy was to support the empire and use its resources. As Tariq Ali puts it, ‘Keir Hardie’s socialism floundered on the battlefields of the First World War’. The early years of building the welfare state also saw the British Labour government trying desperately to sustain colonialism, unleashing appalling repression on the independence struggle in Malaya and restoring French colonial rule in Vietnam and Madagascar, as well as presiding over the creation of Israel and the dispossession of the Palestinians. It was also a period of acute racism in Britain faced by workers invited from former colonies in South Asia and the Caribbean to work in British industries – racism in which the Labour-affiliated Trade Unions actively participated. Corbyn’s politics on the other hand is one in which anti-imperialism and anti-racism have been central – he has not only been at the forefront of the ongoing anti-war movement but, like his close ally and newly appointed Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell, is a long standing supporter of the Irish Republican movement and the Palestinian struggle and an advocate for refugee and migrant rights.

Secondly, the policies being put forward by Corbyn and McDonnell do not represent a return to the Keynesian corporatism built on the plunder of imperialism represented by the pre-Blair Labour governments of the last century. Corbyn’s politics are clearly not revolutionary, being framed in terms of the reform of capitalism rather than its replacement. Nevertheless, policies such as basic social provision and protection of workers’ rights – particularly when this extends to all workers including women, migrants, contract workers and all those whom corporatist trade unions excluded in the past but who now form the majority of the labour force – become threatening to capital in an era of neoliberalism precisely because they expose the limits of what is possible in the context of contemporary globalised capitalism. Capital will not be prepared to accept the kind of compromise with elements of labour which characterised the 1960s and 70s in the Global North. Instead the struggle to implement these policies can only strengthen working class movements, lead to greater confrontation and potentially open the way to more radical transformations.

However one must not underestimate the vulnerability of the newly elected left forces within the Labour Party. The hostility of the majority of Labour MPs (less than one in ten voted for Corbyn) – many handpicked by the earlier Blairite leadership – and the clear intention of some to get rid of Corbyn before the 2020 general elections makes the way ahead extremely challenging. This is exacerbated by the fact that some of those Corbyn has appointed to his Shadow Cabinet (the main opposition party’s ‘government in waiting’) in the name of inclusivity are also hostile to many of his policies. On the other hand, the Labour Party is no longer the tightly controlled corporate spin machine it has been since the 1990s in which members (never as right-wing as the career Blairite MPs and political managers) were sidelined. With a large influx of new members who back Corbyn (50,000 more people have joined the Party in the week following Corbyn’s election and numbers continue to grow) a clear division has emerged between the majority of its members and the majority of its MPs.

Part of Corbyn’s appeal has been what is seen as a new kind of more democratic political practice – in his first Prime Minister’s Question Time, traditionally a heckling session between the parties epitomizing Westminster’s macho political culture, Corbyn successfully changed the format by asking questions he had solicited directly from the public. When right wing newspapers, more used to ridiculing feminists, cynically managed to turn attention from the fact that Corbyn’s Shadow Cabinet had an unprecendented number of women members (16 out of 31) by condemning the fact that the so-called ‘top jobs’ of Chancellor and Home and Foreign Secretary went to men, Corbyn pointed out that such a definition of ‘top jobs’ was a legacy of the 19th century imperial state – given his policies, Health and Education ministries were equally if not more important. When the mainstream media attacked him for not attending the opening of the Rugby World Cup to ‘cheer for England’ – part of a sustained campaign to brand Corbyn ‘unpatriotic’ – social media hit back with the news that Corbyn had spent the day on a regular commitment – holding an 8-hour-long ‘surgery’ for constituents in his impoverished inner London constituency to meet him about their problems. But of course this approach can only continue to be meaningful if Corbyn and his allies are able to sustain and take forward their commitment to the concrete policies they have set out, and not allow them to be diluted under pressure, and many are urging serious consideration of the experience of Syriza in Greece.

Predictably, the last week has seen the Conservatives along with the Labour right and the corporate media launching a massive counter-offensive to try and prove their claim that Corbyn is ‘unelectable’ in the 2020 general elections – despite the fact that many of his policies have already been shown by opinion polls to be extremely popular and Corbyn himself received the biggest majority of any Labour candidate in the last elections (in which many lost their seats).  Though the Conservatives’ efforts so far have been the stuff of satire (a mass email claiming that Corbyn threatened ‘national security, economic security and your family’s security’ coincided with pushing through more welfare cuts and a Trade Union Bill which removes the basic right to organise)  and the media has come up with some bizarre Cold War-style innuendo – notably describing Corbyn’s preferred form of transport as a ‘Chairman Mao-style bicycle’ and claiming that he and new Shadow International Development Minister Diane Abbott went on a ‘motorbike holiday to East Germany’ during an alleged ‘affair in the 1970s’, the potential impact of the triumvirate of the Conservatives, the Labour right and the whole spectrum of mainstream media from the supposedly left-of-centre Guardian to the right-wing Murdoch press cannot be underestimated.

Clearly there is a need for a sustained movement both inside and more importantly, outside the Labour Party, building grassroots struggles and continuing to find new ways of bypassing the media.  The Corbyn victory did not reflect the potential of the Labour Party to be a progressive party – in fact the Labour machinery did everything possible to prevent it and is still largely controlled by the Blairite right. It was the movement which coalesced around the possibility of change the campaign represented which propelled it to victory. Corbyn as a leader appealed precisely because of his steadfastness to his principles over 32 years as an MP which had led him to vote against his own Party over 500 times.

The Labour Party as an institution is still committed to imperialist war-mongering and deeply entwined with corporate capital. This is what underpins the almost ridiculous attempts to discredit and undermine Corbyn from some of his own MPs who have reproduced and fuelled the hysterical attacks of the mainstream media – for example in creating an issue over Corbyn not singing ‘God Save the Queen’ (Britain’s monarchist and imperial national anthem) at a remembrance service for the Battle of Britain. Most recently Labour’s candidate for London Mayor, Sadiq Khan, has launched an attack on Corbyn as a supporter of ‘terrorism’ and affirmed not only his own loyalty to and reverence for the Queen but that of his extended family in Pakistan – indicating the extent of sycophancy which the Labour establishment requires from ambitious Black and South Asian career politicians.

Some Blairites are already rumoured to be planning defection to the Tories; but the majority will stay and continue to try to undermine Corbyn.  On a local level too, some of the most protracted battles against neoliberal policies have been confronting Labour-run Borough Councils – such as the movement for social housing in East London where Labour Councils have been carrying out mass evictions and selling off housing stock to corporate developers. Corbyn may have stronger allies in Parliament in the anti-austerity Scottish National Party MPs (who are determined to force Labour to keep Corbyns’s promise to get rid of Trident nuclear weapons based in Scotland, a major plank of their own campaign). Some believe an alliance with left pro-independence forces in Scotland may prove more effective than attempts to revive the discredited Scottish Labour Party.

Some commentators have drawn parallels between Corbyn’s win and the growing popularity of left-of-centre candidate for the Democrats’ presidential nomination Bernie Sanders in the US. However, the differences are not simply that Sanders is generally far less radical in his politics. Sanders’ main supporters are in overwhelmingly white states, and he has faced criticism by Black Lives Matter campaigners, among others, for not engaging sufficiently with questions of racism. This contrasts with Corbyn’s support base – his constituency of Islington North, which has re-elected him seven times, is one of the most ethnically diverse in Britain, with only 50% considering themselves to be ‘white British’  – and he has consistently been involved with issues affecting Black and ethnic minority communities. When it comes to foreign policy, the differences were underlined when Sanders was recently compared to Corbyn by lobbyists for Hillary Clinton in order to discredit him. They suggested that like Corbyn, Sanders would recognize Hamas and Hezbollah as political forces and had been on friendly terms with Hugo Chavez. Sanders responded angrily that it was ‘vicious’ to suggest that he would talk to ‘Middle Eastern terrorists’ or to link him with a ‘dead communist dictator’!

There is no doubt that the election of Jeremy Corbyn as opposition leader has given a massive impetus to the left in Britain. But it would be extremely dangerous were those who campaigned for and elected him to treat this as a mission accomplished, a tendency encouraged by the parliamentary system. As events since then have only served to underline, it is essential that it is followed by sustained struggles to build a powerful multidimensional movement which can continue to shape the political landscape and hold him and his allies to account.

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Refugees in Europe: A Crisis of Racist Borders, Imperialist Wars and Predatory Capital

NOVANEWS

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Kalpana Wilson

Recent weeks have seen hundreds of thousands of people who have been forced to flee their homes, from tiny children to the very elderly, the majority from war-torn Syria, arriving in Europe, and facing yet more distress and trauma at its borders. September’s events came at the end of a summer of repeated man-made tragedies which saw hundreds of people drowning in the Mediterranean when their boats capsized off the Libyan coast, others dying from suffocation in trucks crossing into Europe, and yet others trapped in appalling conditions in makeshift camps in Calais and elsewhere on the French coast. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, approximately 2,500 people are believed to have died or gone missing trying to reach Europe so far this year.

With a wave of public sympathy following the publication on 2 September of the shocking photographs of the body of three-year old Aylan al-Kurdi, who drowned with his family who were attempting to cross from Turkey to Greece, European governments appeared to open a chink  – albeit a temporary and woefully inadequate one – in the gates of Fortress Europe, as a number of EU member states agreed to ‘accept’ more refugees – although Germany was the only country to make moves to admit significant numbers. Within a few days however, the Fortress was back in place with a vengeance, with Germany closing its borders with Austria (suspending its obligations to ensure free movement for citizens within the EU) and Hungary’s right-wing government completing a massive border fence with Serbia and police proceeding to unleash violence, teargas and water cannon on trapped refugees, including many with small children. Recent events have led to a recognition that there is a ‘refugee crisis’ – but many have argued that this is a misnomer. It is a crisis of racist borders, a crisis of imperialism, a crisis of globalised capitalism and its effects, as more and more people are forced to leave their homes by imperialist wars without end, livelihoods destroyed by neoliberalism, and environments vitiated by pollution and climate change. Understood in this way, the distinction between those stigmatized as ‘economic migrants’ and those recognized as ‘refugees’ (the latter  defined  narrowly in the terms of the Geneva Convention as those fleeing persecution) becomes increasingly blurred.

The last few weeks have been marked by the growing disjuncture between governments which continue to promote a discourse of racism and xenophobia and fear-mongering, and responses on the ground. While for example David Cameron notoriously described refugees as a ‘swarm’ of people ‘wanting to come to Britain’ and callously apologized for the inconvenience to ‘British holidaymakers’ travelling to France when a young Sudanese man was crushed to death by a truck in Calais while trying to reach the UK, this has contrasted with the  mass demonstrations taking place in support of refugees in London, Berlin, Copenhagen, Vienna and many other European cities, in some cases clashing with far-right anti-migrant protestors; banners proclaiming ‘Refugees Welcome’ being unfurled at football matches; people organising convoys of supplies for the camps in Calais and elsewhere in France; and spontaneous supportive responses being encountered by exhausted people who have been travelling on foot across Europe. In early September, 250,000 people in 48 hours signed a petition calling for Britain to take its ‘fair share’ of refugees. Many evoked parallels with the 1930s when Jewish refugees fled Hitler’s Germany, often facing a hostile reception whipped up by the same newspapers currently slandering ‘asylum-seekers’.

Of course, much of this is being expressed in the language of humanitarianism and ‘compassion’ rather than solidarity. But there is also a growing awareness of the inseparable historical and contemporary connections between Western governments’ actions and the ongoing forcible uprooting of people from their homes, making it all the more ironic that the British government should have responded to the crisis with assurances that it would once again seek to ‘bomb Syria’. In recent years West Asia has seen an endless cycle (now being repeated in Syria) where repressive leaders, previously armed and backed  as allies of the West, have overnight been re-labelled as ‘evil’ dictators and legitimate targets of ‘regime change’ at the first sign of economic independence, or simply to fit into short and long-term gameplans of corporate capital; resistance movements have been mercilessly hijacked, progressive elements destroyed and the most reactionary elements within them fostered, trained and armed; and country after country has been devastated by imperialist military intervention. This has been central to creating the current crisis of mass displacement.

But refugee activists have also expressed concern that while the Syrian refugee crisis has dominated headlines, and European governments have been forced to respond, acute racism means that refugees from Africa – particularly the Horn and Sub-Saharan Africa – who make the even more lethal sea crossing from Libya to Italy (which 2,200 people, again including young children, have died making this year alone) continue to be ignored or demonized as ‘illegal immigrants’. These are people who have been forced to leave their homes by ongoing imperialist plunder and promotion of wars and conflicts across many parts of the continent. Many are also seeking to escape from state persecution of LGBT people and patriarchal practices like FGM, exposing the hypocrisy of Western governments which point to these issues to justify imperialist intervention, and then accuse those fleeing them of lying in order to refuse them asylum!

It is also important to recognize that the racism and inhumanity encountered by refugees at the borders cannot be separated from the way they are treated once within those borders. Recent months have also seen protests by refugees themselves in countries from Australia to Britain against the system of indefinite imprisonment in detention centres, and forcible deportations during which a number of refugees have been killed by immigration officers and private security companies.  In Britain, these have centred on Yarl’s Wood, Britain’s only women’s detention centre which is run by the private security company Serco. The imprisoned women have staged repeated protests against the sexual assaults and racist abuse they face as well as the injustice of detention and deportation. This summer has seen a series of vibrant mass demonstrations in solidarity with the women inside, to ‘Surround Yarl’s Wood’ and demand the closure of all detention centres. The Movement for Justice, which organized these protests, was itself formed by refugees alongside other young anti-racist activists. Meanwhile, refugee and migrant women and men workers, some of whom have experience as political activists in their countries of origin, have been at the forefront of some of the most militant and sustained struggles of unorganized workers in Britain, such as those of contract cleaners in Universities and in the London Underground trains, and leading activists have been targeted for deportation as a result. It is now more than ever clear that across Europe the struggle for refugees’ and migrants’ rights must be at the heart of any politics which seeks to resist neoliberal austerity, racism and imperialist war.

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The Mystery of Fleeing Saudi Zio-Wahhabi Princes

Affluent Saudis, including Royal family members, are in a rush to flee the country in the wake of nation-wide unrest which has engulfed the oil-rich kingdom since the Saudi Arabia – US’s closest Arab ally in the volatile Middle-East– waged a devastating war on poverty-stricken Yemen.Having assumed the throne, septuagenarian King Salman has adopted unstable domestic and foreign policies such as excessively empowering his ambitious son Mohammad Bin Salman, the deputy crown prince and minister of defense which led to brutal reshuffles in nearly all key government positions.According to local sources, the dispute between disgruntled royal family members and the totalitarian monarch has reached its climax and as the seething volcano of social discontent is about to explode in any minute, the fearful princes began to flee to western countries–namely France and United Kingdom— with various pretexts, leaving a country enmeshed in a bloody foreign war, fragile security situation and an economy in a complete shambles.

In the meantime, faced with hundreds of runaway princes withdrawing large sums of cash from the kingdom’s central bank, the Saudi officials seek to impede the massive capital outflow by imposing certain restrictive monetary measures. The new restrictions strongly prohibit money transfer to abroad if exceeds $ 500.000 per month and only possible when the person buys a property in the overseas and after presenting the pertinent official documents ,the applicant shall be able to send that precise amount of foreign currency. There are plenty of cases showing desperate Saudi princes fabricating real estate documents to transfer their assets.

Many political observers believe the propinquity of Yemeni revenge for the Saudi war atrocities is the most important factor in the large exodus of Saudi princes.

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