Archive | July 25th, 2016

Group SSUK condemns excess of Free Speech on Syria

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By Paul Larudee 

The group SSUK (sŭk), has registered its strong objection to, and condemnation of, the participation of Dr. Tim Anderson in the Crossing Borders Conference on Refugees, to convene July 7-10 on the Greek Island of Lesbos. Dr. Anderson is the author of The Dirty War on Syria: Washington, Regime Change and Resistance. Their complaint is that Anderson presents facts and a point of view that SSUK does not like.

We understand their concern. It is difficult enough to justify their support for some of the world’s most vicious terrorists without having someone like Dr. Anderson presenting genuine facts and arguments against doing so. How much more daunting, therefore, to justify violating international law and the UN Charter, and forming alliances with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the world’s great imperialist powers for the sake of “freedom and human rights”? That’s a hard sell even without a voice like Dr. Anderson’s pointing out the hypocrisy.

But money can fix everything. SSUK’s White Helmets allies can bring $23 million from the US government, £15 million from the UK and millions more from private sources to mobilize a great marketing effort and twist a few arms to silence Dr. Anderson.

Dr. Anderson has nothing in his arsenal but facts and reason, and he is not even making an effort to silence the SSUK supporters of takfiri mercenaries. Perhaps he thinks that mere truth will be persuasive.

SSUK is trying to impress upon conference organizers that free speech must be sacrificed in order to win the fight for Syrian human rights. Rights like… well, like free speech. After all, isn’t victory more important than human rights?

 

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Propagandists try to censor discussion on Refugee Crisis

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By Rick Sterling | American Herald Tribune | June 7, 2016

Syria Solidarity Movement is an international network in solidarity with the Syrian people and their struggle to retain a secular, independent state.

Unfortunately, there is an organization in the UK called Syria Solidarity UK (SSUK). The similarity in names has caused some confusion, especially because their “solidarity” is with the “Syrian Revolution”.  In reality, this ‘revolution’ consists of long exiled Syrians with heavy Muslim Brotherhood influence, some daydreaming Trotskyists, Western or Gulf or Turkish supported political agents and tens of thousands of terrorists and mercenaries supplied, paid, assisted and promoted by Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Israel, Turkey, USA, France, UK.

The genuine and positive forces seeking change in Syria disappeared long ago. James Foley documented the reality in Syria after his illusions were dispelled in Fall 2012. So did the native Aleppan known as Edward Dark. Initially he and his friends supported the uprising but then realized what it meant. While there is an array of takfiri factions, the conflict has crystallized into its essence: a brutal war of aggression with foreign funded mercenaries and international takfiries on one side, and a struggling multi-ethnic, multi-religious Syrian army and allies on the other.

SSUK and their American counterpart Syrian American Council are an integral part of Team Regime Change. They receive direct and indirect funding from the governments they are allied with. They are promoted in the Zionist establishment in the USA. Their voice is amplified by the media. Yet that is not enough. They aggressively attempt to block, prevent and censor any other voices.

In 2014 the voice of Mother Agnes Mariam was disrupted and attacked at various venues in the USA because she talked about the reality in Syria rather than what was being proclaimed by Washington and Doha. Her voice was shamefully shut down in London. The reason: because she opposed the media propaganda narrative about the chemical weapon attack in August 2013. Now some of the same sectarian propagandists are trying to prevent Dr. Tim Anderson from speaking at a global conference in Greece examining the refugee crisis and its causes. Dr. Anderson brings an analysis of the Dirty War on Syria and its connection to the refugee situation. That is what SSUK cannot abide and why they have threatened to disrupt the conference.

Under pressure from SSUK, the “Crossing Borders” conference organizers withdrew their invitation to keynote speaker Dr. Tim Anderson. This censorship led to hundreds of calls for the the conference to be true to its stated goals. To their credit, conference organizers realized the error and Dr. Anderson who will be presenting a paper and speaking at the conference. Now, the sectarian and bullying SSUK is again on the rampage; they are threatening to disrupt the conference and urging speakers to withdraw. After five years of continuous propaganda and demonization of the Assad government, what kind of academics or activists are so pathetic they cannot stand to hear a different perspective? What could be more relevant to an examination of the refugee crisis than an examination of the root causes?

The true nature of SSUK and their ‘revolution’ is revealed by their own actions. They talk about ‘freedom and democracy’ but practice censorship, repression and intimidation.  Their threats need to be rejected and their actions condemned. They evidently do not want to solve the crisis; they want to escalate it.

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When Phoenix Came to Thanh Phong: Bob Kerrey and War Crimes as Policy in Vietnam

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By Douglas Valentine 

By now everybody knows that former Senator Bob Kerrey led a seven-member team of Navy Seals into Thanh Phong village in February 1969, and murdered in cold blood more than a dozen women and children.

What hardly anyone knows, and what no one in the press is talking about (although many of them know), is that Kerrey was on a CIA mission, and its specific purpose was to destroy that village of civilian peasants. It was illegal, premeditated mass murder and it was a war crime.

And it’s time to hold the CIA responsible. It’s time for a war crimes tribunal to examine the CIA’s illegal activities during and since the Vietnam War.

War Crimes As Policy

War crimes were a central part of CIA strategy for fighting the Vietnam War. The strategy was known as Contre Coup, and it was the manifestation of a belief that the war was essentially political, not military, in nature. The CIA theorized that it was being fought by opposing ideological factions, each one amounting to about five percent of the total population, while the remaining ninety percent was uncommitted and wanted the war to go away.

According to the CIA’s mythology, on one side were communist insurgents, supported by comrades in Hanoi, Moscow and Peking. The communists fought for land reform, to rid Vietnam of foreign intervention, and to unite the north and south. The other faction was composed of capitalists, often Catholics relocated from North Vietnam in 1954 by the CIA. This faction was fighting to keep South Vietnam an independent nation, operating under the direction of quiet Americans.

Caught in the crossfire was the silent majority. The object shared by both factions was to win these undecided voters over to its side.

Contre Coup was the CIA’s response to the realization that the Communists were winning the war for the hearts and minds of the people. It also was a response to the belief that they were winning through the use of psychological warfare, specifically, selective terror ? the murder and mutilation of specific government officials.

In December 1963, Peer DeSilva arrived in Saigon as the CIA’s station chief. He claims to have been shocked by what he saw. In his autobiography, SubRosa, DeSilva describes how the VC had “impaled a young boy, a village chief, and his pregnant wife on sharp poles. To make sure this horrible sight would remain with the villagers, one of the terror squad used his machete to disembowel the woman, spilling he fetus onto the ground.”

“The Vietcong,” DeSilva said, “were monstrous in the application of torture and murder to achieve the political and psychological impact they wanted.”

But the methodology was successful and had tremendous intelligence potential, so DeSilva authorized the creation of small “counter-terror teams,” designed “to bring danger and death to the Vietcong functionaries themselves, especially in areas where they felt secure.”

How Counter-Terror Worked In Vietnam

Thanh Phong village was one of those areas where Vietcong functionaries felt secure. It was located in Kien Hoa Province, along the Mekong Delta. One of Vietnam’s most densely populated provinces, Kien Hoa was precariously close to Saigon, and is criss-crossed with waterways and rice paddies. It was an important rice production area for the insurgents as well as the Government of Vietnam, and thus was one of the eight most heavily infiltrated provinces in Vietnam. The estimated 4700 VC functionaries in Kien Hoa accounted for more than five percent of the insurgency’s total leadership. Operation Speedy Express, a Ninth Infantry sweep through Kien Hoa in the first six months of 1969, killed an estimated 11,000 civilians-supposedly VC sympathizers.

These functionaries formed what the CIA called the Vietcong Infrastructure (VCI). The VCI consisted of members of the People’s Revolutionary Party, the National Liberation Front, and other Communist outfits like the Women’s and Student’s Liberation Associations. Its members were politicians and administrators managing committees for business, communications, security, intelligence, and military affairs. Among their main functions were the collection of taxes, the recruitment of young men and women into the insurgency, and the selective assassination of GVN officials.

As the CIA was well aware, Ho Chi Minh boasted that with two cadre in every hamlet, he could win the war, no matter how many soldiers the Americans threw at him.

So the CIA adopted Ho’s strategy-but on a grander and bloodier scale. The object of Contre Coup was to identify and terrorize each and every individual VCI and his/her family, friends and fellow villagers. To this end the CIA in 1964 launched a massive intelligence operation called the Provincial Interrogation Center Program. The CIA (employing the US company Pacific Architects and Engineers) built an interrogation center in each of South Vietnam’s 44 provinces. Staffed by members of the brutal Special Police, who ran extensive informant networks, and advised by CIA officers, the purpose of the PICs was to identify, through the systematic “interrogation” (read torture) of VCI suspects, the membership of the VCI at every level of its organization; from its elusive headquarters somewhere along the Cambodian border, through the region, city, province, district, village and hamlet committees.

The “indispensable link” in the VCI was the District Party Secretary–the same individual Bob Kerrey’s Seal team was out to assassinate in its mission in Thanh Phong.

Frankenstein’s Monster

Initially the CIA had trouble finding people who were willing to murder and mutilate, so the Agency’s original “counter-terror teams” were composed of ex-convicts, VC defectors, Chinese Nungs, Cambodians, Montagnards, and mercenaries. In a February 1970 article written for True Magazine, titled “The CIA’s Hired Killers,” Georgie-Anne Geyer compared “our boys” to “their boys” with the qualification that, “Their boys did it for faith; our boys did it for money.”

The other big problem was security. The VC had infiltrated nearly every facet of the GVN-even the CIA’s unilateral counter-terror program. So in an attempt to bring greater effectiveness to its secret war, the CIA started employing Navy Seals, US Army Special Forces, Force Recon Marines, and other highly trained Americans who, like Bob Kerrey, were “motivationally indoctrinated” by the military and turned into killing machines with all the social inhibitions and moral compunctions of a Timothy McVeigh. Except they were secure in the knowledge that what they were doing was, if not legal or moral, fraught with Old Testament-style justice, rationalizing that the Viet Cong did it first.

Eventually the irrepressible Americans added their own improvements. In his autobiography Soldier, Anthony Herbert describes arriving in Saigon in 1965, reporting to the CIA’s Special Operations Group, and being asked to join a top-secret psywar program. What the CIA wanted Herbert to do, “was to take charge of execution teams that wiped out entire families.”

By 1967, killing entire families had become an integral facet of the CIA’s counter-terror program. Robert Slater was the chief of the CIA’s Province Interrogation Center Program from June 1967 through 1969. In a March 1970 thesis for the Defense Intelligence School, titled “The History, Organization and Modus Operandi of the Viet Cong Infrastructure,” Slater wrote, “the District Party Secretary usually does not sleep in the same house or even hamlet where his family lived, to preclude any injury to his family during assassination attempts.”

But, Slater added, “the Allies have frequently found out where the District Party Secretaries live and raided their homes: in an ensuing fire fight the secretary’s wife and children have been killed and injured.”

This is the intellectual context in which the Kerrey atrocity took place. This CIA strategy of committing war crimes for psychological reasons? to terrorize the enemy’s supporters into submission–also is what differentiates Kerrey’s atrocity, in legal terms, from other popular methods of mass murdering civilians, such as bombs from the sky, or economic boycotts.

Yes, the CIA has a global, illegal strategy of terrorizing people, although in typical CIA lexicon it’s called “anti-terrorism.”

When you’re waging illegal warfare, language is every bit as important as weaponry and the will to kill. As George Orwell or Noam Chomsky might explain, when you’re deliberately killing innocent women and children, half the court-of-public-opinion battle is making it sound legal.

Three Old Vietnam Hands in particular stand out as examples of this incestuous relationship. Neil Sheehan, CIA-nik and author of the aptly titled Bright Shining Lie, recently confessed that in 1966 he saw US soldiers massacre as many as 600 Vietnamese civilians in five fishing villages. He’d been in Vietnam for three years by then, but it didn’t occur to him that he had discovered a war crime. Now he realizes that the war crimes issue was always present, but still no mention of his friends in the CIA.

Former New York Times reporter and author of The Best and The Brightest, David Halberstam, defended Kerrey on behalf of the media establishment at the New School campus the week after the story broke. Halberstam described the region around Thanh Phong as “the purest bandit country,” adding that “by 1969 everyone who lived there would have been third-generation Vietcong.” Which is CIA revisionism at its sickest.

Finally there’s New York Times reporter James Lemoyne. Why did he never write any articles linking the CIA to war crimes in Vietnam–perhaps because his brother Charles, a Navy officer, was in charge of the CIA’s counter-terror teams in the Delta in 1968.

Phoenix Comes To Thanh Phong

The CIA launched its Phoenix Program in June 1967, after 13 years of tinkering with several experimental counter-terror and psywar programs, and building its network of secret interrogation centers. The stated policy was to replace the bludgeon of indiscriminate bombings and military search and destroy operations–which had alienated the people from the Government of Vietnam–with the scalpel of assassinations of selected members of the Viet Cong Infrastructure.

A typical Phoenix operation began in a Province Interrogation Center where a suspected member of the VCI was brought for questioning. After a few days or weeks or months undergoing various forms of torture, the VCI suspect would die or give the name and location of his VCI comrades and superiors. That information would be sent from the Interrogation Center to the local Phoenix office, which was staffed by Special Branch and Vietnamese military officers under the supervision of CIA officers. Depending on the suspected importance of the targeted VCI, the Phoenix people would then dispatch one of the various action arms available to it, including Seal teams like the one Bob Kerrey led into Thanh Phong.

In February 1969, the Phoenix Program was still under CIA control. But because Kien Hoa Province was so important, and because the VCI’s District Party Secretary was supposedly in Thanh Phong, the CIA decided to handle this particular assassination and mass murder mission without involving the local Vietnamese. So instead of dispensing the local counter-terror team, the CIA sent Kerrey’s Raiders.

And that, very simply, is how it happened. Kerrey and crew admittedly went to Thanh Phong to kill the District Party Secretary, and anyone else who got in the way, including his family and all their friends.

Phoenix Comes Home To Roost

By 1969 the CIA, through Phoenix, was targeting individual VCI and their families all across Vietnam. Over 20,000 people were assassinated by the end of the year and hundreds of thousands had been tortured in Province Interrogation Centers.

On 20 June 1969, the Lower House of the Vietnamese Congress held hearings about abuses in the Phoenix VCI elimination program. Eighty-six Deputies signed a petition calling for its immediate termination. Among the charges: Special Police knowingly arrested innocent people for the purpose of extortion; people were detained for as long as eight months before being tried; torture was commonplace. Noting that it was illegal to do so, several deputies protested instances in which American troops detained or murdered suspects without Vietnamese authority. Others complained that village chiefs were not consulted before raids, such as the one on Thanh Phong.

After an investigation in 1970, four Congresspersons concluded that the CIA’s Phoenix Program violated international law. “The people of these United States,” they jointly stated, “have deliberately imposed upon the Vietnamese people a system of justice which admittedly denies due process of law,” and that in doing so, “we appear to have violated the 1949 Geneva Convention for the protection of civilian people.”

During the hearings, U.S. Representative Ogden Reid said, “if the Union had had a Phoenix program during the Civil War, its targets would have been civilians like Jefferson Davis or the mayor of Macon, Georgia.”

But the American establishment and media denied it then, and continue to deny it until today, because Phoenix was a genocidal program — and the CIA officials, members of the media who were complicit through their silence, and the red-blooded American boys who carried it out, are all war criminals. As Michael Ratner a lawyer at the Center for Constitutional Rights told CounterPunch:“Kerrey should be tried as a war criminal. His actions on the night of February 24-25, 1969 when the seven man Navy Seal unit which he headed killed approximately twenty unarmed Vietnamese civilians, eighteen of whom were women and children was a war crime. Like those who murdered at My Lai, he too should be brought into the dock and tried for his crimes.”

Phoenix, alas, also was fiendishly effective and became a template for future CIA operations. Developed in Vietnam and perfected with the death squads and media blackout of Afghanistan and El Salvador, it is now employed by the CIA around the world: in Colombia, in Kosovo, in Ireland with the British MI6, and in Israel with its other kindred spirit, the Mossad.

The paymasters at the Pentagon will keep cranking out billion dollar missile defense shields and other Bush league boondoggles. But when it comes to making the world safe for international capitalism, the political trick is being more of a homicidal maniac, and more cost effective, than the terrorists.

Incredibly, Phoenix has become fashionable, it has acquired a kind of political cachet. Governor Jesse Ventura claims to have been a Navy Seal and to have “hunted man.” Fanatical right-wing US Representative Bob Barr, one of the Republican impeachment clique, has introduced legislation to “re-legalize” assassinations. David Hackworth, representing the military establishment, defended Kerrey by saying “there were thousands of such atrocities,” and that in 1969 his own unit committed “at least a dozen such horrors.” Jack Valenti, representing the business establishment and its financial stake in the issue, defended Kerrey in the LA Times, saying, “all the normalities (sic) of a social contract are abandoned,” in war.

Bullshit.

A famous Phoenix operation, known as the My Lai Massacre, was proceeding along smoothly, with a grand total of 504 Vietnamese women and children killed, when a soldier named Hugh Thompson in a helicopter gunship saw what was happening. Risking his life to preserve that “social contract,” Thomson landed his helicopter between the mass murderers and their victims, turned his machine guns on his fellow Americans, and brought the carnage to a halt.

Same with screenwriter and journalist Bill Broyles, Vietnam veteran, and author of Brothers in Arms, an excellent book about the Vietnam War. Broyles turned in a bunch of his fellow Marines for killing civilians.

If Thompson and Broyles were capable of taking individual responsibility, everyone is. And many did.

Phoenix Reborn

There is no doubt that Bob Kerrey committed a war crime. As he admits, he went to Vietnam with a knife clenched between his teeth and did what he was trained to do ? kidnap, assassinate and mass murder civilians. But there was no point to his atrocity as he soon learned, no controlling legal authority. He became a conflicted individual. He remembers that they killed women and children. But he thinks they came under fire first, before they panicked and started shooting back. The fog of war clouds his memory

But there isn’t that much to forget. Thanh Phong was Kerrey’s first mission, and on his second mission a grenade blew off his foot, abruptly ending his military career.

Plus which there are plenty of other people to remind Kerrey of what happened, if anyone will listen. There’s Gerhard Klann, the Seal who disputes Kerrey’s account, and two Vietnamese survivors of the raid, Pham Tri Lanh and Bui Thi Luam, both of whom corroborate Klann’s account, as does a veteran Viet Cong soldier, Tran Van Rung.

As CBS News was careful to point out, the Vietnamese were former VC and thus hostile witnesses and because there were slight inconsistencies in their stories, they could not be believed. Klann became the target of Kerrey’s pr machine, which dismissed as an alcoholic with a chip on his shoulder.

Then there is John DeCamp. An army captain in Vietnam, DeCamp worked for the organization under CIA executive William Colby that ostensibly managed Phoenix after the CIA let it go in June 1969. DeCamp was elected to the Nebraska State Senate and served until 1990. A Republican, he claims that Kerrey led an anti-war march on the Nebraska state capitol in May 1971. DeCamp claims that Kerrey put a medal, possibly his bronze star, in a mock coffin, and said, “Viet Cong or North Vietnamese troops are angelic compared with the ruthless Americans.”

Kerrey claims he was in Peru visiting his brother that day. But he definitely accepted his Medal of Honor from Richard Nixon on 14 May 1970, a mere ten days after the Ohio National guard killed four student protestors at Kent State. With that badge of honor pinned on his chest, Kerrey began walking the gilded road to success. Elected Governor of Nebraska in November 1982, he started dating Deborah Winger, became a celebrity hero, was elected to the US Senate, became vice-chair of Senate Committee on Intelligence, and in 1990 staged a run for president. One of the most highly regarded politicians in America, he showered self-righteous criticism on draft dodger Bill Clinton’s penchant for lying.

Bob Kerrey is a symbol of what it means to be an American, and the patriots have rallied to his defense. And yet Kerrey accepted a bronze star under false pretenses, and as John DeCamp suggests, he may have been fragged by his fellow Seals. For this, he received the Medal of Honor.

John DeCamp calls Bob Kerrey “emotionally disturbed” as a result of his Vietnam experience.

And Kerrey’s behavior has been pathetic. In order to protect himself and his CIA patrons from being tried as a war criminals, Bob Kerrey has become a pathological liar too. Kerrey says his actions at Than Phong were an atrocity, but not a war crime. He says he feels remorse, but not guilt. In fact, he has continually rehabbed his position on the war itself-moving from an opponent to more recently an enthusiast. In a 1999 column in the Washington Post, for example, Kerrey said he had come to view that Vietnam was a “just war. “Was the war worth the effort and sacrifice, or was it a mistake?” Kerrey wrote. “When I came home in 1969 and for many years afterward, I did not believe it was worth it. Today, with the passage of time and the experience of seeing both the benefits of freedom won by our sacrifice and the human destruction done by dictatorships, I believe the cause was just and the sacrifice not in vain.” Then at the Democratic Party Convention in Los Angeles last summer Kerrey lectured the delegates that they shouldn’t be ashamed of the war and that they should treat Vietnam veterans as war heroes: “I believe I speak for Max Baucus and every person who has ever served when I say I never felt more free than when I wore the uniform of our country. This country – this party – must remember.” Free? Free to murder women and children. Is this a consciousness of guilt or immunity?

CBS News also participated in constructing a curtain of lies. As does every other official government or media outlet that knows about the CIA’s Phoenix Program, which continues to exist and operate worldwide today, but fails to mention it.

Why?

Because if the name of one targeted Viet Cong cadre can be obtained, then all the names can be obtained, and then a war crimes trial becomes imperative. And that’s the last thing the Establishment will allow to happen.

Average Americans, however, consider themselves a nation ruled by laws and an ethic of fair play, and with the Kerry confession comes an opportunity for America to redefine itself in more realistic terms. The discrepancies in his story beg investigation. He says he was never briefed on the rules of engagement. But a “pocket card” with the Laws of Land Warfare was given to each member of the US Armed Forces in Vietnam.

Does it matter that Kerrey would lie about this? Yes. General Bruce Palmer, commander of the same Ninth Division that devastated Kien Koa Province in 1969, objected to the “involuntary assignment” of American soldiers to Phoenix. He did not believe that “people in uniform, who are pledged to abide by the Geneva Conventions, should be put in the position of having to break those laws of warfare.”

It was the CIA that forced soldiers like Kerrey into Phoenix operations, and the hidden hand of the CIA lingers over his war crime. Kerrey even uses the same rationale offered by CIA officer DeSilva. According to Kerrey, “the Viet Cong were a thousand per cent more ruthless than” the Seals or U.S. Army.

But the Geneva Conventions, customary international law and the Uniform Code of Military Justice all prohibit the killing of noncombatant civilians. The alleged brutality of others is no justification. By saying it is, Kerrey implicates the people who generated that rationale: the CIA. That is why there is a moral imperative to scrutinize the Phoenix Program and the CIA officers who created it, the people who participated in it, and the journalists who covered it up ? to expose the dark side of our national psyche, the part that allows us to employ terror to assure our world dominance.

To accomplish this there must be a war crimes tribunal. This won’t be easy. The US government has gone to great lengths to shield itself from such legal scrutiny, at the same it selectively manipulates international institutions, such as the UN, to go after people like Slobodan Milosevic.

According to human rights lawyer Michael Ratner the legal avenues for bringing Kerrey and his cohorts to justice are quite limited. A civil suit could be lodged against Kerrey by the families of the victims brought in the United States under the Alien Tort Claims Act. “These are the kinds of cases I did against Gramajo, Pangaitan (Timor),” Ratner told us. “The main problem here is that it is doubtful the Vietnamese would sue a liberal when they are dying to better relations with the US. I would do this case if could get plaintiffs–so far no luck.” According to Ratner, there is no statute of limitations problem as it is newly discovered evidence and there is a stron argument particularly in the criminal context that there is no statute of limitations for war crimes.

But criminal cases in the US present a difficult, if not impossible, prospect. Now that Kerrey is discharged from the Navy, the military courts, which went after Lt. Calley for the My Lai massacre, has no jurisdiction over him. “As to criminal case in the US–my pretty answer is no,” says Ratner. “The US first passed a war crimes statute (18 USC sec. 2441 War Crimes) in 1996–that statute makes what Kerrey did a war crime punishable by death of life imprisonment–but it was passed after the crime and criminal statutes are not retroactive.” In 1988, Congress enacted a statute against genocide, which was might apply to Kerrey’s actions, but it to can’t be applied retroactively. Generally at the time of Kerrey’s acts in Vietnam, US criminal law did not extend to what US citizens did overseas unless they were military.

[As a senator, Kerrey, it should be noted, voted for the war crimes law, thus opening the opportunity for others to be prosecuted for crimes similar to those he that committed but is shielded from.]

The United Nations is a possibility, but a long shot. They could establish an ad hoc tribunal such as it did with the Rwanda ICTR and Yugoslavia ICTY. “This would require action by UN Security council could do it, but what are the chances?” says Ratner. “There is still the prospect for a US veto What that really points out is how those tribunals are bent toward what the US and West want.”

Prosecution in Vietnam and or another country and extradition is also a possibility. It can be argued that war crimes are crimes over which there is universal jurisdiction–in fact that is obligation of countries-under Geneva Convention of 1948–to seek out and prosecute war criminals. “Universal jurisdiction does not require the presence of the defendant–he can be indicted and tried in some countries in absentia–or his extradition can be requested”, says Ratner. “Some countries may have statutes permitting this. Kerrey should check his travel plans and hire a good lawyer before he gets on a plane. He can use Kissinger’s lawyer.”

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I$raHell has long been a major threat to peace

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Interview with Alison Weir by Mohsen Abdelmoumen
American Herald Tribune

Mohsen Abdelmoumen: Can we say that the United States is a sovereign State when we see the historical weight of the Zionist lobby on its policy decision?

Alison Weir: Adherents of political Zionism have influenced U.S. policies for decades and have often played a central role in elections. Despite this, Americans will be able to forge independent policies when enough people become aware of the facts and demand different policies.

You cite the staggering US aid to Israel, either $ 10 million per day or 7,000 times more per capita than other countries. What justifies such help to Israel from the United States?

I personally don’t feel it is rational or justified. It is the result of political lobbying by well-funded organizations and obfuscation by the American media. Most Americans have no idea that our government gives such an enormous amount of money to Israel. For this reason, our organization is placing billboards around the U.S. informing people of this fact.

You are threatened with death, you undergo pressures, because of your commitment to the Palestinian cause. Where are the Western values such as “democracy” and “freedom of speech” in all this?

Zionists have little attachment to principles such as democracy or freedom of speech. However, I believe that the majority of Americans believe in these and are disturbed when they are violated. Again, however, most are unaware of how deeply these principles are being damaged by Israel partisans.

As an intellectual committed to the Palestinian cause, how can you explain that when people like you are disparaged, defamed and threatened, some leaders of the Arab-Muslim world collaborate actively with Israel, including some Palestinians themselves? Is not the Palestinian cause the cause of all the humanity?

A group in Malaysia has a wonderful name: “the Movement for a Just World.” I feel that the Palestinian cause is part of that. All people should work for justice for all people, without exceptions.

You were supported in 2015 by 2000 activists and world-famous personalities, among them the Professor Richard Falk, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied, Hedy Epstein, Ann Wright, Arun Gandhi, Ray McGovern, Cindy Sheehan, and James Abourezk former Senator and founder of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee. Can you tell us about this open letter they signed?

Some individuals who say they are “pro-Palestinian” seem to wish to control the discourse on this issue and keep aspects of it, such as the power of the Israel lobby, hidden. A group called “Jewish voice for peace” that was formed about the same time that I began “If Americans Knew” has always contained Zionists among its members and, while its stances have evolved as more people have become involved in the Palestine solidarity movement, it has a history of taking weak stands on some fundamental aspects of this issue and failing to support full justice for Palestinians; it refuses to consider Zionism racist. This group has become quite powerful and currently has a budget of over $2 million. While the organization has done much valuable work and worked to build relationships with many groups and individuals, it has also used its power to try to control the movement and marginalize committed activists who support full justice for Palestinians. When JVP’s actions against me became public, many people opposed them and called for such attacks to end. Some created an Open Letter supporting me and opposing the divisive attacks, and over 2,000 people signed it, including many members of JVP. It appears that the majority of activists support me and If Americans Knew. Some, however, taken in by JVP’s accusations, or who themselves wish to dominate the movement, support what JVP is doing.

Why do the Zionist lobbies persecute Mrs. Alison Weir? Are they afraid of a Righteous bringer of light?

I think that Zionists of all stripes fear exposure of the full facts on this issue. While open Zionists, soft Zionists (people who only oppose the Israeli occupation of Gaza and the West Bank but support Israel’s core, discriminatory identity), and many people who say they are no longer Zionists but who still seem to have an emotional attachment to Israel have long opposed If Americans Knew, my book seems to have particularly triggered escalated attacks on me. This book, which is thoroughly cited, exposes the fact that Zionists have worked to manipulate the U.S. since the late 1800s and contains facts that Israel partisans clearly wish to keep hidden. Fortunately, despite their attempts to bury the book and to prevent my speaking engagements, the book is enjoying considerable popularity and we have now sold over 25,000 copies. It is now listed on Amazon as a bestseller in several categories. I expect its success will lead to even more attacks on me of all sorts ; some of the most insidious, sadly, will quite likely continue to be from those who claim to be part of the Palestine solidarity movement.

How is it that we saw Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit to terrorist Al Nusra treated in Israeli field hospitals? Do Daesh and Al-Qaeda come from the same terrorist matrix as the State of Israel?

From its earliest beginnings, the Israeli strategy has been one of “divide and conquer.” Israeli leaders feel that any and all actions that cause strife within and among its neighbors benefits Israel, and Israel has often played a role in creating and/or nurturing such strife. This tactic has been discussed in a number of Israeli strategy papers.

You lived with Palestinians in the occupied territories, what is your testimony about their daily life under Israeli occupation?

In some areas they are shelled and invaded frequently, people killed and injured routinely. Even in the areas that are usually free of this outright violence, Palestinians are living in prisons in which Israel controls their lives and prevents their ability to protect their children – Israel decides where and whether they can travel and takes any action against Palestinians it wishes, strip searching women and children; abducting men, women, and children at will; imprisoning them without trial; perpetrating physical and psychological torture against them with impunity; preventing them from free contact with the rest of the world.

Does not Israel constitute a threat for peace in the world notably with its nuclear power?

Israel has long been a major threat to peace. It has caused numerous wars and encouraged still more. Its possession of nuclear weapons threatens the region and beyond and its actions could trigger a global conflagration.

More and more voices in the world are protesting against Israeli domination, as we saw it during the last open-air massacre in Gaza. How do you explain this change in favor of the Palestinian cause?

With the Internet, more and more people are learning the facts. People are increasingly seeing Israeli violence that used to be hidden from the world.

How do you explain that the Zionist state of Israel is called the Jewish state by referring to the Hebrew religion; and why are those who are against the Israeli criminal policy or the Zionist lobbies qualified anti-Semitic?

Israel does not define “Jewish” as a religious designation, it defines it as an ethnic identity. Israel claims that anyone who exposes or opposes its human rights violations is “anti-Semitic” as a tactic to prevent such opposition and to marginalize those whose facts they wish to hide. As a former Israeli Knesset member said a while ago, “It’s a trick; we always use it.”

Is not the Christian fundamentalism the real creator of the Zionist State of Israel, as it is found in some ancient texts either in Britain or the United States?

No, this isn’t what led to the creation of Israel. While there are some passages within Hebrew and Christian texts that some individuals have long interpreted as meaning that all Jews are meant to go to Israel (these interpretations are contested by most respected theologians, including fundamentalist theologians), such groups never brought this about. It was the political Zionist movement largely begun by Theodor Herzl in the late 1800s that Israel and others accurately consider the movement that founded Israel. This movement worked to propagandize every sector of the United States, including both Christians and Jews. There is quite a bit of information about this in my book. Today, while many Christian fundamentalists support Israel because of the manipulation that occurred and still occurs in the U.S., more and more of these individuals are changing their views when they learn the facts. There are now many Christian fundamentalists (and Jews) who are working fervently for justice for Palestinians.

You founded If America Knew and you are President of the Council for the National Interest, can you explain to us what is the role of these two organizations?

I founded If Americans Knew to give Americans the full facts on Palestine and on the role of the United States in this conflict. Most Americans have no idea that the U.S. government gives massive amounts of money to Israel and shields it from deserved international condemnation. Similarly, most Americans have no idea of the history of this issue, and of the ongoing oppression of Palestinians. Finally, most Americans have no idea of the size, history, and significance of the Zionist lobby in the U.S. and the degree to which it influences policies that are immoral, irrational, and that cause great harm to people throughout the world, including Americans.

The Council for the National Interest was founded in 1989 to counter the Israel lobby. Its goal was to work for policies that would be in the interests of all Americans, an extremely diverse population, rather than for one tiny interest group. Its two main founders, former Congressmen Paul Findley and Pete McCloskey were both pushed out of office by Israel partisans when these men began to advocate for justice for Palestinians. Both are deeply principled individuals who had also opposed the Vietnam War and racism.

What can a world scale activist as you are say to all resistants worldwide against Zionism and the fascist State of Israel?

I’m very surprised, but honored, to see you refer to me as a “world scale activist.” I’m just one of a multitude of people who are joining together to work for justice for Palestinians and to oppose violence, racism, and oppression. I have no doubt that we will eventually succeed. The main point is to continue our work, to refuse to be divided from one another, and not to give up. We are an extremely diverse movement and I believe that is part of our strength, along with the worthiness of our cause and the nobility and courage of those who came before us. We are of all different faiths and backgrounds, of all ages and races, and we won’t be stopped.

Who is Alison Weir?

Alison Weir is an American writer and an activist for the Palestinian cause. She is the founder and director of the non-profit organization If Americans Knew and president of the Council for the National Interest. In 2001, Alison Weir left her job as editor of a weekly newspaper and traveled alone to the Palestinian territories during the Second Intifada. She visited the West Bank and Gaza and witnessed the scenes of violence, seeing the truth of the conflict on the ground, and from where she wrote about her encounters with Palestinian suffering and with the “incredible arrogance, cruelty, selfishness” of Israelis. She was amazed by what she learned: That the truth of the conflict, on the ground, bore almost no resemblance to the stories told in US media. She returned to the US determined to change that. She began to speak and write on the topic and founded If Americans Knew, a nonprofit dedicated to accurately informing Americans. More recently, she also accepted a position as president of the Council for the National Interest.

Alison Weir was a civil rights activist and Peace Corps volunteer. Alison Weir has spoken all over the United States, including two briefings on Capitol Hill, presentations at the National Press Club in Washington DC (broadcast nationally on C-Span), Center for Policy Analysis on Palestine (one also broadcast on C-Span), at World Affairs Councils, and at numerous universities including Harvard Law School, Columbia, Stanford, Berkeley, Yale, Georgetown, the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Vassar, the Naval Postgraduate Institute, Purdue, Northwestern, and the University of Virginia.She has given papers at various international conferences, lectured in Ramallah and at the University of Qatar, presented at the Asia Media Summits in Kuala Lumpur and Beijing, and given speaking tours in England, Wales, Iran and Qatar.

Alison Weir has also written widely on Israel-Palestine, the US connection, and media coverage. Her first book, Against Our Better Judgment: The Hidden History of How the U.S. Was Used to Create Israel, was published in February 2014 and has received high praise. Her essays and articles have appeared in a number of books and magazines, among them The New Intifada(Verso), Censored 2005 (Seven Stories Press), Encyclopedia of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict (Rienner), The Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, San Francisco Bay View newspaper, CounterPunch, and The Link.

Alison Weir has received various awards and in 2004 was inducted into honorary membership of Phi Alpha Literary Society, founded in 1845 at Illinois College. The award cited her as a “Courageous journalist-lecturer on behalf of human rights, the first woman to receive an honorary membership in Phi Alpha history.”

Posted in USAComments Off on I$raHell has long been a major threat to peace

Real ‘aid’ means ending exploitation of Africa

NOVANEWS
Map of Africa
By Yves Engler 

What is wrong here? While Canadian companies exploit African resources for their own benefit this country’s charities call on us to join Africa “hope” walks.

Last week Toronto-based Lundin Mining hired the Bank of Montreal to help it decide what to do with its stake in the massive Tenke Fungurume copper-cobalt mine in Eastern Congo (Kinshasa). Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for Toronto firms to make economic decisions that affect hundreds of thousands of Africans and for Canadian companies to exchange African mineral assets among themselves.

A number of companies based and traded here have even taken African names. African Queen Mines, Tanzanian Royalty Exploration, Lake Victoria Mining Company, African Aura Resources, Katanga Mining, Société d’Exploitation Minière d’Afrique de l’Ouest (SEMAFO), Uganda Gold Mining, East Africa Metals, Timbuktu Gold, Sahelian Goldfields, African Gold Group and International African Mining Gold (IAMGOLD) are all Canadian. With a mere 0.5 percent of the world’s population, Canada is home to half of all internationally listed mining companies operating in Africa.

Active in 43 different African countries, Canadian mining firms have been responsible for dispossessing farmers, displacing communities, employing forced labour, devastating ecosystems and spurring human rights violations. And, as I detail in Canada in Africa300 Years of Aid and Exploitation, numerous Canadian mining companies have been accused of bribing officials and evading taxes. Last year TSX-listed MagIndustries was accused of paying $100,000 to tax officials in a bid to avoid paying taxes on its $1.5-billion potash mine and processing facility in Congo (Brazzaville). In April a Tanzanian tribunal ruled that Barrick Gold organized a sophisticated scheme of tax evasion” in the East African country. As its Tanzanian operations delivered over US$400-million profit to shareholders between 2010 and 2013, the Toronto company failed to pay any corporate taxes, bilking the country out of $41.25 million.

While Canadian companies loot (legally and illegally) African resources, government-funded “charities” (aka NGOs) and the dominant media call on Canadians to walk for “hope” in Africa. Last weekend the Aga Khan Foundation Canada organized the World Partnership Walk in 10 cities across the country. In an article titled “How the World Partnership Walk” lets Canadians bring hope to African communities the organization’s International Development Champion, Attiya Hirj, writes about visiting Aga Khan Foundation and Global Affairs Canada sponsored projects in Tanzania and Mozambique. Hirj says her “trip really opened my eyes to what rural communities truly need, which is a sense of hope.” She suggests the situation can be remedied if enough Canadians come “together to fundraise and generate awareness through activities such as the World Partnership Walk.” There is no mention of the need for African resources to be controlled by and for Africans.

Hirj’s article reflects an extreme example of Canadian paternalism towards Africans. But it’s deeply rooted in our political culture.  Gripped by a desire to rid “darkest Africa” of “nakedness” and “heathenism”, Canadian missionaries helped the European colonial powers penetrate African society. In 1893 a couple of Torontonians founded what later became the largest interdenominational Protestant mission on the continent and by the end of the colonial period as many as 2,500 Canadians were proselytizing across Africa.

Today, all the media-anointed Africa “experts” promote a similarly paternalistic version of ‘aid’ and largely ignore Canadian companies’ role in pillaging the continent’s wealth. But, Canadians concerned about African impoverishment should point their fingers at the Canadian firms controlling the continent’s resources and offer solidarity to those sisters and brothers fighting for African resources to be controlled by and for Africans.

Posted in AfricaComments Off on Real ‘aid’ means ending exploitation of Africa

Nazi regime erases key Muslim, Christian holy sites from al-Quds ‘map’

NOVANEWS

The Israeli tourism ministry has published a map of the occupied Old City of al-Quds (Jerusalem), which omits significant Muslim and Christian holy sites and entire neighborhoods in the area.

The so-called Old City map, which is distributed free of charge at tourist information centers across the city, does not refer to the venerated 14-hectare compound that comprises al-Aqsa Mosque — Islam’s third holiest site — and the Dome of the Rock, as “al-Haram al-Sharif,” and simply refers to it by its Jewish name of the Temple Mount, Al Jazeera reported.

Moreover, the map makes no reference to the Church of St. Anne, which is a Roman Catholic church located near the Lions’ Gate and churches of the Flagellation and Condemnation in East al-Quds.

The Lutheran Church of the Redeemer, the second Protestant church in Quds, is also shown on the map with a tiny and hard-to-find name.

The map, however, highlights dozens of sites whose historical importance is disputed, and a large number of them are indeed illegal settlements constructed in the Muslim and Christian quarters of the Old City of al-Quds.

Among 57 numbered sites, almost half are buildings occupied by illegal settlers in East Jerusalem and are largely unknown to licensed tour guides.

One such tour guide, requesting anonymity, said the map favors Jewish sites regardless of their touristic value and appears religiously flawed.

“When I saw it, I thought it was a map for only Jewish tour groups. The narrative it shows is quite exclusive to one religious group,” the tour guide said.

Aziz Abu Sarah, a resident of al-Quds, said, “The St. Anne’s Church, which I think is one of the most amazing places, is not on the map. There are many Christians coming to Jerusalem, and they are going to get a map that doesn’t identify their holy sites. It’s not a smart decision.”

361e8c45-9ce5-43a0-a7ca-ec13daf948caHe further suggested that the inclusion of certain sites within the boundaries of the Old City of al-Quds is aimed at promoting a one-sided Jewish representation of East Jerusalem and ignoring its Christian and Muslim identities.

“Politically speaking, it adds sites that are controversial, like the settlements in East Jerusalem, and I think that makes it political and one-sided,” Abu Sarah said.

“There are a bunch of sites that are not only historically unimportant, but that are run by settlers,” said Betty Herschman, the director of international relations at Ir Amim, an Israeli human rights NGO that gives tours of East al-Quds to diplomats and others.

She added, “That is to the detriment of historically relevant Christian and Muslim sites, which you would think would be far more prioritized on a map of the Old City, the hub of the three major monotheistic religions.”

“This map, in addition to erasing important Muslim and Christian holy sites in the Old City, completely erases entire neighborhoods around the historic basin, supplanting them not only with Hebrew names but with the names of settlements,” Herschman argued.

She stressed that the settlements, for example Bet Orot, are built by radical and illegal settlers within the heart of Palestinian neighborhoods.

“The map is legitimizing private settlement around the historic basin,” Herschman said.

More than half a million Israelis live in over 230 illegal settlements built since the 1967 Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories in the West Bank and East al-Quds.

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Footage of Nazi soldier kicking knife ‘represents clear violation of international law’

NOVANEWS

Human Rights Defenders (HRD) in Palestine released a video last week showing an Nazi soldier kicking a knife toward the body of Abd al-Fattah al-Sharif — who was shot point-blank in the head by an Nazi soldier in March — an action the group said represents a clear violation of international law.

The video shows an Nazi soldier casually kicking a knife — allegedly used by al-Sharif during an attempted stabbing attack — to the other side of the road in the town of Tel Rumeida in the southern occupied West Bank district of Hebron, as al-Sharif’s body lay a few meters away.

The footage was taken before al-Sharif was shot execution-style in the head by an Nazi soldier, a graphic video of which was released in March, leading to widespread condemnation by rights groups and the UN demanding an investigation into the apparent “extrajudicial execution.”

Badi Dweik, an activist from HRD, said in a statement released Saturday that the group decided to make the video public in order to challenge current narratives unfolding at the ongoing military trial of Elor Azaria — Nazi soldier charged with manslaughter after killing al-Sharif. Azaria has claimed that he shot the immobilized Palestinian because he saw al-Sharif reaching for the knife, or feared he had explosives strapped to his chest.

However Azaria’s commander testified in court on Thursday that al-Sharif posed no threat before he was shot dead, and when asked why he shot al-Sharif, Azaria answered: ‘This terrorist was alive, and he needs to die.’”

An additional video surfaced at the start of June, showing an Nazi ambulance driver kicking the same knife near to al-Sharif’s body after he was killed.

The video footage, obtained by Israel’s Channel Two, was expected to be shown to an Nazi military court to disprove claims by the Nazi soldier who killed al-Sharif that he shot the young Palestinian point-blank in the head after al-Sharif moved to grab a knife, according to the Zionist media outlet Ynet.

The footage shows that the knife allegedly used in the attack was far from al-Sharif when he was shot, notably showing an ambulance driving over the knife before it was kicked closer to al-Sharif’s body.Nazi military prosecutor reportedly said that an Zionist ambulance driver, Ofer Ohanna, who was near the scene kicked the knife towards al-Sharif’s body following his murder, according to Hebrew-language news outlet Maariv.

The new video that has surfaced reveals that the ambulance driver was not the only one to tamper with evidence at the crime scene, but that an Nazi soldier also manipulated a piece of key evidence by moving the knife, which Dweik emphasized was a violation of international law. Al-Sharif was shot alongside Ramzi Aziz al-Qasrawi after the two Palestinians allegedly stabbed and moderately wounded Nazi soldier at a military checkpoint in the Tel Rumeida area of Hebron on March 24.Although it was widely believed that Al-Qasrawi was killed immediately, new witness accounts documented by Nazi human rights group B’Tselem have since emerged that “raise concerns that al-Qasrawi was also executed with a shot to the head, as he lay injured on the ground after having been hit by gunfire elsewhere in his body.”

Al-Sharif, meanwhile, was left severely wounded for several minutes without treatment, before Azaria stepped forward and put a bullet through his head, killing him.Azaria was charged with manslaughter, rather than murder as had initially been expected, and is being held on a military base in “open detention” where he is free to roam and has received visits from his family. His trial opened in early May.

Palestinians have long held fears that Nazi soldiers and settlers tamper with crime scenes involving Palestinians, with human rights groups accusing Nazi of practicing a policy of extrajudicial executions.

Posted in Palestine Affairs, ZIO-NAZI, Human RightsComments Off on Footage of Nazi soldier kicking knife ‘represents clear violation of international law’

Another confusing and misleading human rights report by United Nations observers in Ukraine

NOVANEWS

Aftermath-of-shelling-of-neighbourhood-in-eastern-Ukraine-shelled-by-Ukrainian-armed-forces-UNHCR-photo-300x200

Eastern Ukraine neighbourhood shelled by Ukraine armed forces (UNHCR photo)
By Roger Annis

Five days ago, the United Nations Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) released another in a long line of reports purporting to provide an overview of the human rights situation in Ukraine. This latest report is titled “Accountability for killings in Ukraine from January 2014 to May 2016”.

The report is 20 pages long with 31 additional pages of appendix examining “Cases of violations or abuses of the right to life in Ukraine from January 2014 to May 2016”. A press release by the UN body summarizes the content of the report.

The OHCHR report is another outlandish collection of selected facts making a strong inference that a large part of the “abuses to the right to life” it examines are the fault of the Donetsk and Lugansk people’s republics and their self-defense forces.

As with past reports, the OHCHR makes an equivalency between, on the one hand, the governing regime in Kyiv which is bound by all of the international conventions on human rights which previous Ukrainian governments signed onto and, on the other hand, the people’s republics and armed forces of Donetsk and Lugansk which are not so bound. The Donetsk and Lugansk republics cannot sign on to international human rights conventions because they are shunned and unrecognized by most international bodies… including the OHCHR!

At last check, it is not the republics of the former eastern Ukraine which have invaded Ukraine, but Ukraine that has invaded and imposed an ‘Anti-Terrorist Operation’ against the people there. Yet the UN report describes Kyiv’s civil war as a “separatist conflict”.

Adding insult to injury, the UN press release says, “According to the report, the killings are being “fueled by the inflow of foreign fighters and weapons from the Russian Federation”.

The UN report fails to mention that even if such  a patently false description of the conflict as being a “separatist conflict” were true, Ukraine is nonetheless duty bound by international convention to protect its nominal citizens and not wage war against them.

The UN report speaks of shadowy “armed groups” in Donetsk and Lugansk who it says are responsible for extra-judicial killings as well as prisoner abuse, torture and killings. Yet when it comes to the extremist and neo-Nazi paramilitaries who are joined with Ukraine’s armed forces in waging civil war, they are given the polite description of “volunteer battalions”. Sounds downright patriotic and heroic!

When it comes to the Kyiv regime itself, the UN report language is all kid glove. For example, in professing concern about the Odessa Massacre of 48 people on May 2, 2014, UN press release writes:

The report also highlighted the violence that took place on 2 May 2014, in Odesa, during which 48 people died as a result of clashes between “pro-unity” and “pro-federalism” groups. OHCHR “remains concerned that the authorities have still not taken appropriate measures to ensure effective investigations into the 2 May 2014 events, nor to protect the independence of the judiciary,” the report said.

On that day in Odessa, nearly all of the victims were peacefully protesting against the coup in Ukraine in February 2014 which deposed the country’s elected president. They were targeted for killing when the trade union building in the center of the city where they had taken refuge from a right-wing mob was set on fire.

Further in the press release we read:

Furthermore, the report found that the lack of accountability remains widespread in Ukraine, despite efforts by the Government [sic] to bring perpetrators from its own ranks to justice and the pre-trial investigations by the Office of the Chief Military Prosecutor into cases of killing, torture and ill-treatment by members of the armed groups of the self-proclaimed [sic] “Donetsk people’s republic” and self-proclaimed “Luhansk people’s republic.”

While acknowledging the challenges faced by the authorities in ensuring justice, including the lack of access to the territories where many of the alleged acts took place, the report noted “an apparent lack of motivation to investigate some cases … especially when it concerns acts allegedly committed by Ukrainian forces.”

What about the Minsk-2 ceasefire agreement, signed by Ukraine on February 12, 2015 and endorsed by no less that the UN Security Council several days later? Not a word of it in the OHCHR press release. In the 20 pages of the report, one finds several references to the need to implement what is called the “Minsk Agreements”, but no detailed description of the content and import of the agreement is provided.

How bad is the official state of human rights in Ukraine? Two months ago, the UN’s Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture took the unprecedented step of cancelling in mid-visit an official visit looking into reported cases of torture by Ukrainian government forces and by rebel authorities in the east. The reason for the cancellation was that Kyiv refused to live up to its obligations under Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture, an international convention to which a previous Ukrainian government signed on. It requires signators to provide unfettered access to prisons and other places of detention. The subcommittee was intending to investigate reports of secret prisons operated by Ukraine’s police and military services.

Oh, don’t look for information in this latest UN report on the telling experience of the UN’s Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture two months ago. Blank. Apparently, that would be unrelated to “Cases of violations or abuses of the right to life in Ukraine from January 2014 to May 2016”.

Posted in UkraineComments Off on Another confusing and misleading human rights report by United Nations observers in Ukraine

Deir Qaddis resists ongoing Nazi theft of village land

NOVANEWS

Image result for ISRAELI theft of village land CARTOON

Occupied Palestine – On the morning of July 14th, Nazi excavators arrived on Majid Mahmoud’s farmland in Deir Qaddis to begin work on an illegal expansion of a wastewater facility for the nearby illegal settlement of Nili.

Construction vehicles and Occupation forces were met by about fifty Palestinians from Deir Qaddis and nearby Nil’in in protest of the Nazi theft and destruction of village land, who refused to leave until the construction was halted. Through nonviolent means the villagers managed to temporarily prevent the destruction of their grazing lands, though excavation and land clearing did resume in the days afterwards. Nazi illegal Illegal settlements around Deir Qaddis have been expanding for decades, swallowing up thousands of dunams and dispossessing farmers and agricultural workers in the area.

Majid’s land, now on the other side of a settler road, has been rendered mostly inaccessible by both the expansion of illegal Nazi Jewish settlements and the threat of violence from Nazi forces and private settlement security.

“We have no rights under this Occupation. I cannot ask the soldiers why they are on my land. It is as if I am being beaten, but cannot question it or raise my hands to stop it,” Majid said. “We have all the papers to prove ownership, but it does not matter.”

Majid and members of the local council are planning to bring the case to court and have all the documentation necessary to do so. They are not optimistic, however, about their chances.

Though the people of Deir Qaddis did succeed in halting the illegal construction on Thursday, it has since resumed. Fares Naser, mayor of the village, has little confidence that the settlement expansion and illegal construction will ever end. “It will not stop,” said Fares, “and the next generation will wonder why it is this way.”

Deir Qaddis is surrounded on three sides by the Apartheid Wall and the illegal Nazi settlements of Nili, Modi’in Illit, and Na’aleh, cutting it off from much of the West Bank. According to Fares, only 4,000 of the village’s original 10,000 dunams have not yet been seized by Nazi forces and settlers. Over ninety percent of the Deir Qaddis is classified as “Area C,” territory in which Nazi regime maintains full military and civil control.

In 1999, Nazi regime assured the people of Deir Qaddis that all land lying west of the town would remain untouched. Nazi regime has since broken that promise, with both state confiscation and private theft of valuable farmland within Deir Qaddis. According to international law, all Nazi Jewish illegal settlements are illegal, as is nearly every piece of the Nazi colonial apparatus. Nazi regime will continue to build, and the people of Deir Qaddis will continue to resist the ongoing theft of their land and livelihoods.

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What explains US-Russia tango over Syria

NOVANEWS

Image result for US-Russia tango over Syria CARTOON

By M K Bhadrakumar 

A 5-hour meeting between a visiting foreign minister and Russian President Vladimir Putin is not only rare but difficult to recall. Putin makes rare exceptions to receive foreign ministers. And he always receives them after their talks with Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. By all these yardsticks, US Secretary of State John Kerry’s meeting with Putin last Thursday in the Kremlin was extraordinary.

He drove into the Kremlin straight after touching down in Moscow Thursday evening and had talks with Putin lasting till 1 am in the wee hours of Friday morning. Putin’s rare appearance for a joint press briefing with a foreign minister (Kerry), Puitn’s ‘body language’ and, of course, the subsequent joint press conference by Kerry and Lavrov — they distinctly sought to convey the impression that the US and Russia were on to a big joint venture apropos the Syrian conflict. ( here and here)

None of the three statesmen – neither Putin and Lavrov nor Kerry – was even remotely affected by the negative energy radiated by the high-profile summit meeting of the NATO, which had taken place in Warsaw hardly four days ago whose leitmotif was the strong determination of the western alliance to defend  and deter Russia’s perceived aggressive tendencies in Eurasia.

Kerry is going to meet a select group of European allies later today in London to brief them on “the concrete steps that the U.S. and Russia are planning to take”. He disclosed that he had a phone conversation with Lavrov on Tuesday, and,

  • We both [with Lavrov] believe that we have understanding of the direction we are going in and what needs to be achieved. Our teams will meet shortly in order to continue to do that, in order to bolster the cessation of hostilities, in order to increase our capacity to fight against Al Qaeda, an Nusra, as well as fight back against ISIL.

It all sounds too good to be true. But then, Kerry is a seasoned diplomat with 30 years as a senator behind him during which he also headed the senate foreign relations committee and now as America’s top diplomat for over 3 years. Why is the US all of a sudden giving such hype to a peace project with Russia, an aggressive regional power, to kickstart a political process Syria?

The US has always sought a “selective engagement” of Russia on issues of concern to Washington while pursuing the containment strategy on another track. Lavrov may have gently rubbed this in when Kerry phoned him on Thursday to discuss the “concrete steps” on Syria as follow-up to his talks in the Kremlin last week. Curiously, the Russian Foreign Ministry readout makes a wry reference to Lavrov also, inter alia, availing of the opportunity to gently remind Kerry how the Obama administration is also simultaneously moving heaven and earth to humiliate Russia on another front by keeping it out of the Rio Olympics. These seasoned diplomats must be having the hide of rhinoceros — the readout says, “Mr. Kerry agreed that sports should not be politicized”. (here)

Won’t Moscow be aware that Kerry might even be dissimulating a concord with Russia over Syria? Won’t Moscow know that the Obama administration is on its last leg and time has run out? The point is, there is a powerful lobby in Washington, including the Pentagon and apparently within the State Department itself, which opposes any form of US-Russia cooperation in Syria that does not lead to the ouster of President Bashar al-Assad in a near term. (Read a briefing by the Brookings Institution, on the hawkish opinion in Washington.)

Indeed, the US is engaging Russia assiduously against the backdrop of the dramatic events in Turkey. The ground has shifted in the geopolitics of the region. Interestingly, Kerry made the hurried unscheduled trip to Moscow last week within 4 days of the NATO summit even as the failed coup attempt was getting under way in Turkey. Actually, Kerry was about to meet with Putin in the Kremlin — or had been conversing with him already –even as the coup began in Turkey. Something doesn’t quite gel here, isn’t it? Suffice it to say, much depends on how far back Kerry (Obama administration) actually had known about the coup that was in the making in Turkey. (Read a breath-taking, blow-by-blow account of the ‘Turkish coup’ by senior editor Murat Yetkin in today’s Hurriyet.)

Of course, the failed coup in Turkey becomes a defining moment for the Syrian conflict. The Turkish military and state intelligence – and the political leadership – are all passing through such turbulence that Ankara simply lacks the presence of mind or the sheer capacity to continue to pursue an interventionist policy in Syria in a foreseeable future. Meanwhile, great uncertainties have crept into Turkey’s relations with the US and Europe. Moscow cannot but be aware that Turkey desperately needs to hold the Russian hand — and that indeed adds to Russia’s politico-military options in Syria. The thinking is reflected in a commentary by a top Kremlin pundit Fyodor Lukyanov in Moscow Times.

Clearly, the US policies on Syria are floundering. The Syrian forces have laid siege to Aleppo and the US-backed rebels are trapped inside the city, while Turkey may have begun disengaging from reaching aid to them. Washington has no option but to engage Moscow to work out some sort of face-saving compromise formula.

But what does Russia get in return? Participation in Rio Olympics? It shouldn’t be surprising if the International Olympics Committee has a last-minute change of heart and says ‘Da‘ to the Russian team, finally. If that happens, it will be in the best traditions of Russian-American trade-offs, and Kerry worked hard on it.

Posted in SyriaComments Off on What explains US-Russia tango over Syria

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