Archive | January 22nd, 2019

hospitals in Gaza shut down due to power shortage

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The Palestinian Ministry of Health in the Gaza Strip on Sunday warned of an unprecedented humanitarian and health disaster in the enclave after seven hospitals were forced to suspend services because of the power shortage.

Head of al-Rantisi Children’s Hospital, which is one of only two facilities in Gaza equipped to treat cancer patients, Mohammed Salmiya said in a press conference, “For the first time since Israel imposed the blockade on the Gaza Strip, we are unable to make further efforts to run power generators for additional hours.”

Abu Salmiya said that, based on daily field reports by technical and administrative staff, what is available at Gaza hospitals is less than 17% of the fuel needed during power outages.

Abu Salmiya noted that the austerity measures taken by the Ministry of Health will soon become useless as the crisis is worsening.

Gaza’s Ministry of Health appealed to those concerned to make serious actions toward ending the crisis and fulfilling Gaza patients’ right to receive proper treatment.

The Ministry of Health in the Gaza Strip has been suffering from growing crises in different fields as a result of the Israeli 13-year-long blockade on the enclave, and the sanctions imposed by the Palestinian Authority government for about two years.

Gaza hospitals need 45,000 liters of fuel per month to operate generators during power outages which last for 8-12 hours a day.

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Jailed Press TV anchor’s children subpoenaed to testify


Marzieh Hashemi, anchor of Iranian English-language television news network Press TV

Press TV anchor Marzieh Hashemi’s son, Hossein, has told Press TV’s website he and his siblings have received subpoenas to appear before the grand jury in Washington, D.C.

This is a transcription of what Hossein Hashemi said:

My name is Hossein Hashemi. I am the eldest son of Marzieh Hashemi, also known as Melanie Franklin. I just want to give an update from where we stand. Currently, the information that is available to us is that she has been detained as a material witness. There aren’t any charges against her. The officials have let us know that much in regard to her case. However, she is being detained in a Washington DC facility. It is a prison system. She has an inmate number and she is being held in a cell.

So, we have been very curious as to how someone who does not have any charges against them can be held in the circumstances. We were able to speak with her. My sister spoke with her last night. This is over 48 hours since she was detained, since she was apprehended that we made contact with her. Up until that time, we had very little information even about the fact that there were no charges and so forth.

She seemed OK. She was upset about the kind of treatment that she was receiving as a person who [faces] charges would be treated.

She had only eaten pretzels because her dietary restrictions limited her from the kinds of food that the prison facility would offer.

She is also upset about the fact that her hijab was removed during processing and later on she was only able to cover her hair with a T-shirt apparently.

So, these are the issues that she was upset about it.

I think from our perspective obviously we want more clear answers. The fact that she has not been charged has made it difficult for us to know what kind of lawyers to pursue and what route forward we should go with, because lawyers have specialties and the fact that she hasn’t been charged makes it difficult … we have hard time understanding how someone who is not charged can be held in a facility like that.

I think it is important to know that she is an American citizen and she is a journalist. She is somebody who does documentaries on Black Lives Matters and is critical of a lot of the domestic policies of the United States government, the school-to-prison sort of pipeline and the white community and also the wars abroad and the regime change policies that the United States enforces all the time and puts major budgets behind.

She is critical of all these things and that is all plays into it. We don’t know whether those are the reasons for her apprehension, but it is difficult to not become sort of conspiratorial about what is going on with a person as high-profile as my mother.

Additionally, I and my siblings have also received subpoenas to appear before the grand jury in Washington, D.C. So, that is also concerning. We don’t know what this is about yet, but we are trying to work it out and the main request we have is information to let us know what it is that she is being held for precisely and that will help us proceed in the correct way hopefully.

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Updates: some U.S. political prisoners January 2019


By John Bart Gerald | Night’s Lantern 

Writing from another country I remember the Americans I’m supposed to forget, those forced into the lives that made them prisoners or simply targets of law enforcement programs. Some are religious people, Christians and Muslims. Many were Black Panthers. Some were and are radicals. Most are Americans. All cared for their communities and people. They were condemned by society at large. Under the FBI’s COINTELPRO activists in the Sixties and Seventies political and community movements but particularly the Black Panthers were targeted and hunted and engaged in fire-fights by law enforcement. Any police casualty brought charges of murder in court. How many community leaders were convicted for killing a police person? And yet through many years have maintained their innocence despite the mechanism which increases the chance for parole if a crime is confessed and regretted. One reason I don’t forget them is because I don’t really believe they’re guilty. Here are updates for some political prisoners in the U.S.. (1)

Among U.S. political prisoners with the roots of imprisonment in the last century, is Rap Brown (Hubert Gerold Brown), known today as Imam Jamil Al-Amin. As a young leader he was pissed, acerbic and unafraid. His late speeches are devout, eloquent, historically wise, American, concerned with the survival of his people, and religiously humble. His rhetoric frightened U.S. law enforcement since the 1960’s. Convicted of murdering a police person (a crime confessed to by someone else with accuracy, three times – then recanted), maintaining his own innocence Al-Amin was sentenced in 2002 to life imprisonment without parole. Placed in a maximum security prison and principally in solitary confinement far from friends, supporters, family for years, he was transferred to Eastern U.S. prisons for medical treatment with several medical conditions which the prison system was slow to diagnose and treat. He was found to have a rare form of blood cancer. His writings are suppressed. He’s not permitted interviews.(2) With 16 years in prison, currently an appeal of his conviction slowly makes its way through appeals court. I think he’s silenced because he’s a wise man. Wasted by his country yet of deep human value he continues to frighten the establishment because he provides a bridge of peace between Islam and Christianity. When the struggle becomes conscious then we understand that we don’t have an option. Struggle is the price you pay for your soul. We all doing life without parole.   – Imam Jamil Al-Amin

Abu Hamza al-Masri, born Mustafa Kamel Mustafa in Egypt, is a British Imam with a reputation for hating people he considers enemies of Islam. He was extradited to the U.S. to face trial in a Manhattan court not too far from the former World Trade Center(s), for alleged war related crimes in Yemen, Afghanistan and Oregon. At his trial the jury wasn’t allowed to hear substantial evidence of his work for M-15 British Intelligence. Allegations against him were not based on any violence he committed but on his alleged responsibility for crimes; most of the evidence presented was his words, sermons, statements, opinions, feelings, his freedom of expression.(3) He wasn’t found guilty of hate speech but of 11 counts of terrorism, and he is serving a life-without-parole sentence in the U.S. supermax prison, ADX Florence Colorado, essentially in solitary confinement, in “a cage like cell.” Since apparently the conditions of his incarceration violate human rights law prohibitions against torture and degrading treatment,(4) contravening the conditions of his extradition from Europe to the U.S., the Imam has appealed for removal to prison in Great Britain. He is blind and missing both hands which were lost in an explosion when he was younger (British media have continually referred to him as “the Hook”). With diabetes and psoriasis as well, under U.S. prison conditions at ADX Florence the stumps of his arms become continually infected.

An American, a Robert F. Wagner High School and Brooklyn College graduate who earned his M.A. in international relations in London, Fahad Hashmi, as a Muslim was targeted for association with radical friends and was extradited from England to New York, held in solitary for three years before trial, was threatened with a 70 year sentence for storing a friend’s luggage which held clothing for Al-Quaeda, and was sentenced on a plea bargain to 15 years which he is serving at ADX Florence, the supermax facility. Relying on technicalities and the prisoner’s innocence, the prosecution and imprisonment of Fahad Hashmi affirmed American law but betrayed American justice.

In 2018 Jalil Muntaqim (Anthony Bottom) was denied parole for the 9th time. According to Jericho New York he “was convicted of the 1971 murders of two New York City police officers, a crime for which he accepted responsibility and demonstrated remorse. During his 47 years in prison, Jalil earned two college degrees and served as a counselor, teacher and role model for other incarcerated people. Jalil is a rehabilitated individual who poses no risk to the community. He will be appealing this very disappointing decision.”(5)

Held for 22 years in solitary confinement in 2016 former Black Panther Russell “Maroon” Shoatz won through a legal action against Pennsylvania’s Department of Corrections his reprieve from continual solitary confinement, as well as $99,000; his case commenced in 1973 protested the prison’s cruel and unusual punishment. The United Nations Special rapporteur on Torture Juan Mendez noted the conditions of Shoatz’s imprisonment as outside a civilized norm.

Dr. Mutulu Shakur (Jeral Wayne Williams) once of the Black Liberation Army (Black Panthers) was sentenced in 1988 to sixty years on RICO conspiracy charges and for bank robberies which involved deaths of guards and police. Led to believe he would be released Feb. 10, 2016 due to laws in force at the time, he wasn’t released and was given a parole hearing for Dec.16, 2016, his 8th. Parole was denied. The government is suspected of psychologically tormenting the well-respected Dr. Shakur so that he might confess to masterminding the 1979 prison escape of Assata Shakur. In March 2018 Mutulu Shakur filed suit against the federal government for his release alleging violation of his First Amendment Rights (principally his free speech) by the Parole Board as the reason for denying his release. (6)

Arrested in April 1985, according to Wikipedia Thomas William Manning is expected to complete his current prison term in 2020, at which point he is to begin his next prison term of 80 years for another set of charges including the murder of a New Jersey police officer. Manning was convicted of shooting back after the officer emptied his gun at Manning and his group of families. The inhumanity of the sentencing was always intended to render the prisoner without hope. Attempts to trash and humiliate Tom Manning, American, a Vietnam veteran, and each of the Ohio Seven (“United Freedom Front”, “Sam Melville Brigade”) suggests the bitter hostility of the system to white working class people if they assert both socialism and a brotherhood of black and white. In prison Manning has held to uncompromised anti-racist, American truths strongly, constantly, with hope, paintings and words. In 2006 a show of his artwork was canceled by a timorous University of Maine. (7)

Jaan Laaman, also of the “Ohio Seven” (“United Freedom Front”, “Sam Melville Brigade”), is serving a 53 year prison term, following a 45 year prison term. Both by court action and example he has become known as an advocate for rights of freedom of expression for prisoners, in 1977 winning his State Supreme Court case against the New Hampshire State Prison to receive his reading materials which is said to have opened prisoner education programs through New Hampshire. He is a founder of the website, an outlet for prison writing. On March 21, 2017, he was placed in solitary confinement for violating communications protocols (issuing of statements which apparently the prison system did not favour). He’s also threatened with transfer to a CMU (Communications Management Unit) to completely segregate his communications from the outside world.(8)

The histories of John Africa’s movement and Mumia Abu-Jamal have been interwoven from the start in the tragedies which took people of faith from their lives and community, where the children of some were shot by police, where community workers and pragmatic idealists were ground up by the system’s violence. From one perspective they were falsely accused honest people, put in jail under insufferable sentences to silence them about the crimes committed against John Africa’s “family” by the Philadelphia police. The best known witness Mumia Abu-Jamal who reported on the police bombing of the MOVE residence by Philadelphia police was subsequently charged with murder of a police officer and placed on death row. The injustices of his charges and trials, and courts and judges and incarcerations and threats of death against all of them are a grocery list of white racism to keep the black community in line, and Mumia Abu-Jamal’s history is mythic in his survival over death row, beating his medical death sentence beating the silence imposed on him, to become one of the best known writers and revolutionary writers-from-prison in history. Under a ruling Dec. 28, 2018 by Philadelphia Common Pleas Judge, Leon Tucker, Mumia Abu-Jamal is finally granted an opportunity to argue for his freedom in a retrial. Judge Tucker found that the judge who presided over Abu-Jamal’s previous and thought to be final appeal should have recused himsef. (9) A day later six cartons of materials thought to be related to Mumia’s case were discovered in the Philadelphia D.A.’s storage room. After assessment and if necessary these may provide Abu-Jamal’s lawyers with leverage for additional appeals.(10)

Mike Africa of the MOVE 9 was finally released on parole Oct. 23, 2018. One of nine MOVE members convicted to 30 years imprisonment for the killing of one police officer who died of a single bullet wound in a police storming of the MOVE home; MOVE members were generally without arms and living under a peaceful ethic and it was always possible that the police officer was killed in the storm of gunfire from his fellow officers. Historically, the severity of the sentencing seems to have been an attempt to silence witnessing of the many police crimes in the Philadelphia Police’s handling of John Africa’s community group.

Compared to others here the Kings Bay Plowshares are up against comparatively short sentences for comparatively harmless actions. The religious basis of their protest against the full power of nuclear militarized America is also problematic, in that they were arrested because they chose to confront the government, rather than through the government’s need to oppress them. For nearly half a century the Plowshares movement has broken the security of Nuclear submarines, missile silos and facilities to hammer on nuclear weapons, beating swords into plowshares. Their symbolic acts of faith are like prayer a worship of something stronger and more sacred than the weapons of mass destruction and as a group its members have, without injuring others been sent to prison for months to several years at a time. They’re a help to the anti-prison movement in that they’re innocent of crimes against other people and yet are condemned and treated as criminal. At their King’s Bay Florida action April 4, 2018 having presented their passion play for Christ carrying real hammers, real blood amid real nuclear weapons they were arrested with a sign quoting Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., “The ultimate logic of racism is genocide,” and began their long tedious journey through a court system challenging the faith of those in the court system. Once a decision is made concerning the “religious freedom motions” (the defendants were allowed the opportunity to present the court with the religious motivation for their actions as pleas for dismissal), the case could be dismissed or a trial date set before the end of January.(11)

In 2003 Dr. Rafil Dhafir was taken from his medical practice in upstate New York and sentenced to 22 years, not for any alleged violence but for sending medical supplies to the children of Iraq, victims of the U.S. and Coalition bombing campaigns. He was born in Iraq. His attempts to alleviate the suffering of the children there by supplying medicines, was in no way wrong though through misuse and misapplication of the law was made illegal. Medical supplies were wrongly embargoed. Dr. Dhafir as a Muslim, was referred to as a suspected terrorist by New York’s Governor Pataki . To avoid his appearance as a humanitarian the FBI also prosecuted him for medicare fraud and money laundering. Dr. Dhafir donated over a million dollars of his own for medical supplies to children. When a petition for Executive Clemency was prepared for him he refused to ask for mercy as a criminal because he committed no crime. Under Federal guidelines Dr. Dhafir is eligible because of his age for release since he has served at least 10 years (16 years in February) but his release requires the warden’s approval; that hasn’t happened. Katherine Hughes followed the injustices of Dr. Dhafir’s arrest, trial and conviction.(12) She quotes Dennis Halliday who resigned as chief of the UN’s Humanitarian Aid program in Iraq, 1997-98, because he found the sanctions against Iraq, genocide. Of Dr. Dhafir he said, “I am stunned by the conviction of this humanitarian, especially as the US State Department breached its own sanctions to the tune of $10 billion. The policy of sanctions against Iraq undermined not only the UN’s own charter, but the Declaration of Human Rights and the Geneva Convention as well.” Dr. Dhafir was obeying humanitarian law. By denying medical supplies to a civilian population it had decimated, the U.S. was violating the Convention on Genocide. Dr. Dhafir was placed in prison because he was innocent, and because the U.S. legal system has been denying its people the use of the Nuremberg defense, the citizen’s need to counter his or her country’s acts of genocide.

Dr. Aafia Siddiqui suffered a very strange conviction by a New York City jury which found her guilty of attempting to assault and murder the U.S. military personnel who were holding her prisoner in Afghanistan. As their prisoner Ms. Siddiqui was shot by them in the stomach. Tried in New York the young mother of three was peculiarly sentenced by a New York City judge to 86 years in prison. Currently the Government of Pakistan is attempting to counter this madness by seeking her return to serve the rest of her sentence in her own country. There is evidence that she has been additionally damaged in U.S. government custody. She was able to complain of physical abuse and sexual abuse at the hands of prison officials in Texas, to Pakistan’s consul general. She accused male prison staff of urinating on things belonging to her. The gratuitous severe abuse of Ms. Siddiqui by U.S. authorities is not traditionally American and may be a psyops program to dehumanize Muslims, women or both, preparing the public for greater indecencies.

Ramiro “Ramsey” Muñiz, an Hispanic community leader who ran for Governor of Texas for the Raza Unida Party in 1972 and 1974, was multiply arrested in 1994 on what seemed to be manufactured drug charges and was sentenced to life without parole. The Raza Unida Party was hurt badly and may have been the government’s target when it incapacitated Muñiz. He and his wife have always asserted his innocence and lobbied many years for his pardon and release. Now ill, on Dec. 10, 2018 he was released from Lexington Federal Medical Center (Kentucky) “on compassionate grounds under federal supervision.”(13)

Juvenal Ovidio Ricardo Palmera Pineda (whose nom de guerre is Simón Trinidad) was extradited to the U.S. when captured as a rebel FARC leader in Colombia. A Colombian professor and peace strategist, accounts of U.S. government trials against him reveal juries that wouldn’t convict him, numerous mistrials and one confused conviction for holding 3 Americans hostage (in a war zone controlled by FARC forces) for which he was sentenced to sixty years. Wikipedia reports that he’s held in the ADX Florence Colorado supermax prison in solitary confinement. Colombia’s civil war is officially at peace. He’s a prisoner of war after the war is over, If released and deported he would face multiple charges under the current Colombian government.

Anayibe Rojas Valderrama of FARC with the war name,”Sonia,” was captured in Colombia in 2004, and extradited by the Americans to face drug charges. She was convicted on drug charges Feb. 20, 2007 in Washington D.C. to serve a sentence of 16 years. After serving 11 she was released on good behaviour and deported to Colombia last August where she was immediately charged with money laundering.(14)

On May 17, 2017.Oscar López Rivera was released from prison by President Obama. The Puerto Rican nationalist had served 55 years in U.S. prisons.

Initially eligible for parole in 1998 but denied parole ten times, Robert Seth Hayes was finally granted parole July 24, 2018, after 45 years in prison.


1. My most recent essay updating American political prisoners appeared in 2016: “The torture of U.S. political prisoners: some updates” (2016)].

2. “The unofficial gag order of Jamil Al-Amin (H. Rap Brown): 16 years in prison, still not allowed to speak,” Obaid H. Siddiqui, June 30, 2018, SF BayView.

3. “Abu Hamza found guilty of 11 terrorism charges,” Karen McVeigh, May 20, 2014, The Guardian.

4. “Hate preacher Abu Hamza: US prison is too tough,” Callum Adams, Dec. 17, 2017, The telegraph.

5. “Jalil Muntaqim Denied Parole Once Again!” Current.

6. “Tupac’s Father, Mutulu Shakur , files Lawsuit against the U.S. Government for Illegally Holding Him in Prison,” Sha Be Allah, March 29, 2018,

7. A background note: in the 1970’s Manning and his group which included several Vietnam veterans, worked out of an alternative bookstore in Portland Maine, community organizing, caring for prisoners and their families, antiwar and anti-racist. Portland police discovered a death squad in police ranks with the intention of disappearing the group. The bookstore was broken into, an employee raped, and they were under continuing threat from the KKK.

8. “Political prisoner Jaan Laaman is still being held in segregation,” staff, May 25, 2017, 4strugglemag.

9. “Judge: Mumia Abu-Jamal can reargue appeal in 1981 Philly police slaying,” Bobby Allyn, Dec. 28, 2018, WhyY News.

10. “A Potentially Tectonic Event Shakes up the Mumia Abu-Jamal Case,” Dave Lindorff, Jan. 11, 2019, Counterpunch.

11. “Update on the Kings Bay Plowshares,” Dec 27, 2018 / “Legal Update,” Bill Quigley, Nov. 19, 2018, The Nuclear Resister.

12. “Is this Fairness? Is this Justice? Post-9/11 Muslim Charity Prosecution,” Katherine Hughes, Sept. 20, 2014, Truthout. Her website DhafirTrial is recommended.

13. “Hispanic activist Ramsey Muniz free after 24 years in prison,” AP, Jan. 9, 2019, KRISTV.COM.

14. “No Peace in Colombia as ex-FARC Guerrilla Sonia Awaits Release From US Prison,” W.T. Whitney, July 30, 2018, counterpunch; “Tras ser deportada a Colombia, alias “Sonia” será procesada por lavado de activos,” Judicial, Sept. 25, 2018, El Espectador.

Graphic by Julie Maas

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First Palestinian child killed by Nazi forces in 2019 was struck in head with tear-gas canister


Abdel-Raouf Ismail Mohammad Salha (13) succumbed to wounds sustained during Great March of Return on 11 January 2019. [Twitter]

The first Palestinian child killed by Nazi occupation forces in 2019 was struck in the head by a tear-gas canister during the suppression of protests in the Gaza Strip.

According to Defence for Children International-Palestine (DCIP), Abdel-Raouf Ismail Mohammad Salha – just 13-years-old – was “struck on the left side of his head by Nazi-fired tear gas canister that caused a brain injury on the afternoon of January 11”.

The child was pronounced dead from his injuries three days later in Gaza City’s Shifa hospital.

“Crowd control weapons such as tear gas canisters can become lethal weapons when fired at children, especially if the point of impact is on a child’s head or torso,” said Ayed Abu Eqtaish, Accountability Program director for DCIP.

In 2018, the NGO documented “three cases where children died after tear gas canisters fired by Nazi forces struck them”.

On the day in question, Abdel-Raouf was “participating in a weekly protest in the Abu Safia hill area, southeast of Beit Hanoun”. At around 4pm, while the boy was “standing approximately 150 meters (492 feet) from the perimeter fence with a group of other protesters”, Nazi forces in military jeeps from the other side of the perimeter fence “fired tear gas canisters at the group”.

“The witness saw Abdel-Raouf collapse and a wound bleeding from his head”, DCIP added.

Doctors told DCIP that “the force of impact caused a skull fracture and fragments of bone to enter the boy’s brain”.

In 2018, DCIP “independently verified the deaths of 57 Palestinian children at the hands of Nazi forces or Jewish Nazi settlers across the Occupied Palestinian Territory”, including 49 killed in the Gaza Strip.


Israel killing of Palestine children in Gaza protests amounts to ‘war crimes’ 

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Nazi regime said poised to dramatically worsen Palestinian prisoners’ conditions

Israel said poised to dramatically worsen Palestinian prisoners’ conditions

Government-appointed committee said set to recommend reducing terror convicts’ family visits, mixing Hamas and Fatah members together, potentially roiling Palestinians

A Palestinian prisoner holds the bars of a jail cell, illustrative (Channel 2 news)

A Palestinian prisoner holds the bars of a jail cell, illustrative (Channel 2 news)

Israel could soon significantly downgrade the prison conditions for Palestinian terror convicts, in a move likely to spark outrage among the prisoners and outside the prison walls.

Hadashot TV news published what it said were conclusions soon to be presented by a committee established four months ago by Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, tasked with examining the possibility of worsening the prisoners’ conditions to the minimum required by international law.

Erdan announced the formation of the public committee in June in a bid to put pressure on the terror groups to which they belong, chiefly Hamas, to release Israeli citizens and soldiers’ bodies held in Gaza.

According to the report, the committee intends to recommend that Israel drastically reduce family visits for security prisoners, and stop letting them buy meat, fish, fruits and vegetables outside prison. They will also be prohibited from cooking meals in their wards and cells, and their food grinders and blenders are to be taken away.

Additionally, the Israel Prison Service will stop separating the prisoners according to the terror groups to which they belong, meaning that members of rivals factions such as Hamas, Fatah, and Islamic Jihad will be staying in the same ward and even in the same cells.

Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, speaks during a press conference in Tel Aviv, on September 13, 2018. (Roy Alima/Flash90)

Other recommendations cited in the report include limiting the number of television channels available to the terrorists, closing the canteens in the wards, and canceling the status of “ward spokesperson” — meaning that only on a few, specific topics will a representative of the prisoners be allowed to speak on their behalf.

The report said the repercussions from such measures, if they are approved by Erdan, could be dramatic — both inside the prisons and in the Palestinian streets — and would require special preparation by the Prisons Service.

Speaking at a counterterrorism conference in Herzliya in June, Erdan said that studies carried out by the ministry concluded that some Palestinians commit terror attacks seeking to be caught and jailed as a way to run away from problems at home, and suggested that worsening conditions could help reduce possible “incentives” for carrying out attacks.

Palestinians have often criticized Israel’s treatment of terror convicts, and prisoners have launched several mass hunger strikes in recent years, seeking to improve their conditions. Last year, hundreds heeded a call by popular Fatah figure and convicted murderer Marwan Barghouti to go on a hunger strike.

The demands back then included the resumption of a second monthly visit by family members (a benefit that was canceled by the International Committee of the Red Cross due to budget cuts), the prevention of family meetings being canceled for security reasons, and the restoration of academic studies and matriculation exams to prisoners. Other demands included more television channels being available in cells and cell phones in security wings.

After 40 days, a deal was struck with Israeli authorities, which the prisoners claimed had met 80 percent of their demands

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Nazi regime vows to ‘worsen’ conditions for Palestinian prisoners

Israel vows to ‘worsen’ conditions for Palestinian prisoners

Planned moves unveiled by Israeli security minister include limiting water supplies and cutting number of family visits.

People gather in front of International Committee of the Red Cross office in Gaza City to show their support to Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails [File: Anadolu Agency]
People gather in front of International Committee of the Red Cross office in Gaza City to show their support to Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails [File: Anadolu Agency]

Israel’s Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan has announced plans to “worsen” conditions for Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, including rationing water supplies and reducing the number of family visits.

The planned moves, which are expected to come into force in the coming weeks after being approved by the Israeli cabinet, were sharply criticised by Palestinian leaders and activists who described as them as another escalation of human rights violations by Israel.

Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Erdan said the plan will also see jails removing cooking rights and limiting prisoners’ access to television as well as blocking funds to the Palestinian Authority.

The minister said that family visits had already been halted for prisoners affiliated with the Palestinian movement Hamas.

“The plan also includes preventing members of the Knesset [Israel’s parliament] from visiting Palestinian detainees,” added Erdan, who last year set up a committee to make prison conditions harsher for those who “committed acts of terrorism”.

The policy of separating Hamas prisoners from those affiliated with rival Palestinian faction Fatah will also come to an end, as Erdan said that holding inmates in cells based on organisational affiliation resulted in “strengthening their organisation identity”.

The minister also said that there will be “clear limits” on the amount of water a prisoner consumes each day, including a cap on the number of times they are allowed to shower.

‘Israel behaving as if above international law’

Mustafa Barghouti, head of the Palestinian National Initiative party, told Al Jazeera that the Israeli government acts like it has a free hand to oppress Palestinians in any way they want.

“The only way to force Israel to abstain from this behaviour is to impose sanctions on Israel,” he said, speaking from the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah.

“Israel is behaving as if it is above international law and this must change.”

The Palestinian Prisoners’ Commission denounced Erdan’s plans and said they were an attempt to make Palestinian prisoners’ lives even more unbearable.

Qadri Abubaker, the head of the Prisoners’ Commission, called for a strong national stand against these measures.

Such decisions and laws “calls for everyone to rally at the official, popular, legal, media and human rights level to expose these arrogant policies against our heroes in prisons”, he told Wafa, the official Palestinian news agency.

Hunger strikes

According to official statistics, the number of Palestinian prisoners behind bars has reached 5,500, including 230 children and 54 women.

Rights groups say more than 1,800 are in need of medical care, with about 700 suffering from serious or chronic illnesses.

Many Palestinian prisoners say they have been subject to torture and violence while in custody. There have been many protests against poor conditions in recent years, including several hunger strikes.

During Wednesday’s press conference, Erdan said the Israeli government would “not be deterred by threats and [hunger] strikes”.

“We must make conditions worse [for prisoners] to fulfil our moral duty to terror victims and their families,” he added, going on to assert  that the Israeli prison service was ready to “deal with any scenario”.

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Palestinians vow hunger strikes if Nazi Camp worsens conditions

Palestinians vow hunger strikes if Israel worsens jail conditions

Detainees say Israeli proposals, including water rations and limits on family visits, are a ‘declaration of war’.

Israel holds 5,500 Palestinian prisoners, including nearly 500 administrative detainees, according to rights group Addameer [File: Majdi Mohammed/AP]
Israel holds 5,500 Palestinian prisoners, including nearly 500 administrative detainees, according to rights group Addameer [File: Majdi Mohammed/AP]

Hundreds of Palestinians held in Israeli jails, detention facilities, and interrogation centres are preparing to launch a mass hunger strike once Israel implements new measures that will worsen conditions for prisoners.

In a joint statement, prisoners, including administrative detainees who are held without charge, said their decision was in response to a “new level of oppression”.

“These measures are a declaration of war that marks a new phase of our struggle,” the statement read.

They also called on Palestinian factions and activists to stand in solidarity with them and demanded nationwide rallies.

Israel holds 5,500 Palestinian prisoners, including nearly 500 administrative detainees, according to the Jerusalem-based Palestinian prisoners’ rights group, Addameer.

The call to action is in response to Israel’s plans to worsen what are already poor conditions for Palestinians held in its jails. Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan announced the measures last week and the Israeli government is expected to enforce the measures in the coming weeks.

One of the more “serious” changes pending approval by the Israeli cabinet, is ending the policy of separating Hamas prisoners from those affiliated with rival Palestinian faction Fatah, according to Amjad al-Najjar, spokesperson for Hebron-based Palestinian Prisoners Club.

“This has worried prisoners the most,” al-Najjar told Al Jazeera from the occupied West Bank city of Hebron.

“This may cause fights to break out which could even lead to killings inside the prisons – especially in light of the current political climate,” he said.

Other measures include rationing water supplies, blocking funds to the Palestinian Authority, reducing the number of family visits, and preventing access to jail canteens.

For the past 12 years, detainees have mostly lived off food they pay for from the prison canteen.

There, they would buy things like chicken, meat, and canned goods as an alternative to prison meals that are not enough to “sustain detainees throughout the day”, al-Najjar explained.

“If they (Israeli Prison Service) take that away, the alternative is simply not an option,” he added.

‘Diseases’ among prisoners

During the first Palestinian Intifada, or uprising, al-Najjar was sentenced to 25 years in prison, but spent six years in detention before being released as part of a prisoner swap deal in 1995.

At the time, prison canteens did not exist, and prisoners had to rely on meals distributed by the Israeli Prison Service (IPS).

Najjar said portions were small, and often infested with bugs.

“It would cause cases of food poisoning and all sorts of chronic diseases among prisoners,” he recalled.

“For lunch, each serving wouldn’t be enough for a child, let alone a grown man,” he said.

Israel has for years held Palestinians in overcrowded prisons with poor hygiene standards which each prisoner confined to a 2.9sq-metre cell, according to Addameer.

Some of the most severe policies Palestinians are subject to include the use of isolation for punishment and medical negligence.

Every year, dozens of Palestinian prisoners are held in isolation under the pretext of “security”, Lana Ramadan, Addameer’s international advocacy officer, told Al Jazeera.

“The length of time in isolation that prison officials can order extends from 12 hours … to longer periods of six months to one year,” Ramadan said.

Another major issue is medical negligence, where doctors employed by the IPS have minimal medical qualifications and are not under the authority of the Israeli Ministry of Health.

Ramadan noted that medical issues among Palestinian prisoners are widespread and range in severity from chest infections and diarrhoea to heart problems and kidney failure.

“Although all prisons include a medical clinic, physicians are on duty irregularly and specialised medical healthcare is generally unavailable,” she said, adding that most prisoners are usually prescribed painkillers instead of being given treatment for their condition.

In the past, such conditions have forced prisoners to start open-ended hunger strikes in order to secure basic rights. At times, prison authorities would resort to force-feeding, a practice that sometimes led to the death of Palestinians.

The most recent hunger strike, called for by Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti, lasted 40 days in 2017. It called for the installation of public telephones, resuming bi-monthly family visits, and ending the policy of solitary confinement, among other demands.

The strikes succeeded in forcing some changes, such as the installation of pay phones.

‘Not the first time’

This is not the first time Israel has tried to limit the rights of detained Palestinians, most of whom are held in jails inside Israel, in contravention of Article 76 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which requires that an occupying power hold prisoners from an occupied land within that area.

Palestinian leaders condemn existing conditions and say the new measures are another escalation of human rights violations. Rights groups say a lot of the proposed measures are de facto in place already.

In June, Gilad Erdan announced the formation of a special committee with members drawn from the Israeli government.

According to Ramadan, the committee was meant to “to determine ways in which conditions can be reduced to a bare minimum”, and then publish recommendations within 90 days of its formation.

Ramadan said the committee began enforcing some of the recommendations before gaining the Israeli government’s approval, including restrictions on access to food, education, and installing security cameras that infringe on privacy.

By October 2018, a ministerial committee also passed a bill completely denying Hamas prisoners family visitation rights.

Measures as a political tool

According to Nadia Hijab, director of the Palestinian policy network, Al Shabaka, the measures are a political tool for Israeli politicians who are looking to garner support in the run-up to elections.

“As [Israeli Prime Minister] Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party heads into the election, they are no doubt seeking to show they are even tougher on Palestinians,” Hijab told Al Jazeera.

Netanyahu’s government announced elections for April 9, after the ruling coalition came up short of the votes needed to pass a contentious piece of court-ordered legislation.

He is also facing mounting pressure over a series of corruption investigations into his affairs.

Hijab believes that the government’s aim is to drive prisoners into another hunger strike in an attempt to detract attention from Netanyahu‘s problems.

That is a view shared by al-Najjar.

“They worsen conditions in order to win over the Israeli right with the hopes of securing votes,” he said.

“They want to win elections off of the suffering of Palestinian prisoners.”

Posted in Palestine Affairs, ZIO-NAZI, Human RightsComments Off on Palestinians vow hunger strikes if Nazi Camp worsens conditions

100 Palestinian prisoners injured in Nazi Camp

 Image result for NAZI CAMP CARTOON

At least 100 Palestinian prisoners were injured on Monday during clashes with the guards in the Nazi Ofer Camp in the illegally occupied West Bank, according to the Palestinian Prisoners Club Association.

The association, which is a Palestinian non-governmental organization, said in a press statement that the prisoners were injured as a result of the successive repression and assaults of the Nazi services against the prisoners on Monday.

According to the statement, the Israeli guards of the prison used rubber-coated metal gunshots, tear gas canisters, percussion bombs, clubs and dogs.

“Most of the prisoners were injured by rubber-coated metal gunshots and many of them were referred to Israeli hospitals,” said the statement, adding that most of them were brought back to the prison and 20 remained for treatment.

The association warned that “such an aggressive assault on the prisoners is brutal and hasn’t happened in ten years.”

The statement called on the international organizations to immediately intervene to put an end to the brutal and aggressive escalation against the prisoners.

Zionist Radio reported that a number of Palestinian prisoners violated the prison’s discipline and set fire on the prison’s rooms after the prison’s administration punished 12 prisoners for hiding smuggled cellular phones.

An official Palestinian figure said that Nazi Ofer Camp has around 1,200 Palestinian prisoners out of 6,000 Palestinians imprisoned in Nazi Camp,

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It’s Time to Heed King’s Call for the Abolition of Poverty


As long as what’s called “Western civilization” has existed, people have been punished for being poor. This isn’t something the Western world invented, but it’s been a consistent characteristic of it. In Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community? Martin Luther King Jr. wrote, “The curse of poverty has no justification in our age. … The time has come for us to civilize ourselves by the total, direct, and immediate abolition of poverty.” Through this call to abolish poverty, King put forth an indictment of Western civilization and of capitalistic society.

The abolition of poverty contains the radical admission that the unacceptable doesn’t deserve repair or reform. It’s an honest approach to problems that can be so big and intimidating that they may tempt us to deny what’s plainly true. King was pointing out the mistaken perception that racial capitalism is civilized or advanced. Those who benefit most according to the logic of everyday terror say that we must accept the violence of capitalistic accumulation and the ruthlessness of money. They would have us believe this is as good as it can get. It’s not.

From furloughed workers to the unemployed and others facing dire circumstances, we live in a time that has made crowdfunding a regular go-to for people who are struggling to meet their basic needs. The lack of a universal safety net has forced people to try to create their own. The fundamental basis of solutions that many on the left are arguing for — such as socialism — can be explained with this crowdfunding trend. We are saying that it’s completely absurd to work and pay taxes, yet still not have health care, functioning schools and all the needed resources for our communities that tax revenues are supposed to pay for. Our rights should not be made into luxuries, and we should not have to crowdfund for necessities that should be paid for with the wealth our labor generates.

A society that has the nerve to call itself “free” should never operate according to a model of fraudulent scarcity, as the United States is doing. The growing austerity practices that oppress us while wages remain virtually stagnant will not be debated or wished away. This exploitative system does not combat poverty, it develops it. Poverty is not a simply a byproduct of racial capitalism; it’s a fuel that keeps it going. A rejection of poverty must include an outright rejection of this system that creates and encourages it.

Knowing that suffering is wrong should be enough of an argument to condemn a system that prioritizes the wealth of a select few at the expense of countless others. What cannot be accepted is this everyday reality that veils itself as something sustainable. As King wrote:

The contemporary tendency in our society is to base our distribution on scarcity, which has vanished, and to compress our abundance into the overfed mouths of the middle and upper classes until they gag with superfluity. If democracy is to have breadth of meaning, it is necessary to adjust this inequity. It is not only moral, but it is also intelligent. We are wasting and degrading human life by clinging to archaic thinking.

Dr. King suggested many strategies for combatting poverty. Among King’s solutions was an annual income for everyone or “universal basic income.” However, it’s worth noting that King’s proposals came in the context of his time. Who knows what King would have advocated if he saw how much worse things have gotten, and how wealth disparities have grown? Currently, a version of the basic income idea has been enthusiastically revived among the wealthy philanthropic class. This fact alone should encourage our skepticism. Our liberation will not be handed to us by the elite. The work of abolishing poverty means abolishing astronomical wealth too. Wasteful spending on things like the nearly $1 trillion military budget and the money lost not taxing wealthy corporations is enough to drastically alter the impoverished conditions many suffer across the nation.

As we work to confront extreme wealth disparities, we also must focus on building the communities we deserve. We should challenge those around us to think about how we’re already practicing anti-capitalism. For instance, a closer look at why people feel the need to give to others asking for help through crowdfunding platforms may reveal principles more suited to a better world. Anti-capitalist principles associated with anarchism, socialism and other important politics that may be unknown to many people going about their daily lives are already being practiced (but not necessarily in name of ideology, or identified by jargonistic terms).

There’s organizing work happening that can always be expanded in making the significance clear to people pushing back in whatever ways they can. To some extent, what we need to achieve could be explained to people through this logic of crowdfunding. We need to build our own institutions where we amass what resources, skills and contributions we have together in order for everyone to have what they need. This sort of solidarity around the fair exchange of what we have to offer based in solidarity is mutual aid.

Disaster response, in this time of climate crisis, is another place where we regularly see practices of mutual aid playing out. After disaster strikes, people regularly mobilize and organize their communities to survive amid government neglect and state negligence. People share food, housing and other resources until things return to some sort of normalcy. Building programs that disregard the boundaries around usand respond to the consistent crises of racial capitalism is a central tenet of what’s called “intercommunalism.” This was the practice of the Black Panthers, a programmed response to the violence we know is coming.

Rather than await the next storm, starvation or stranding, we can be preparing so we don’t have to suddenly crowdfund when it arrives. We need to be creating our own institutions that are tasked with fighting the problems capitalism inflicts. Reactionary practices do not offer stability — participants simply enter back into the precarious position of awaiting the next disaster — but the intention behind many of them can help us re-examine our values and push our own institutional practices toward liberation.

The abolition of poverty will not simply happen overnight. We have to bring it about in our everyday lives. It’s not going to be given to us by liberal politicians or charitable billionaires who are part of the problem themselves. We’ll have to work where we can and how we can without dismissing our own circumstances in the name of purity. Abolishing oppressive forces means circumventing and undermining them to create our own realities. The abolition of poverty starts with honesty and ends with what we truly deserve.

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The Irish Revolution’s Overlooked History of Nonviolent Resistance


This month marks the 100th anniversary of Dáil Éireann, Ireland’s Parliament. Amid the better-known events of a century ago that led to Ireland’s independence from its union with Britain, such as the Easter Rising or the island’s partition with the Anglo-Irish Treaty, the significance of Dáil Éireann’s founding on January 21, 1919 is often underappreciated. This is unfortunate, since it played a crucial role in the Irish Revolution’s outcome and was a path-breaking event in the emergence of nonviolent civil resistance methods over the last century.

The usual story of Ireland’s independence struggle runs something like this: Revolutionary movements such as Wolfe Tone’s United Irishmen in 1798 or the Fenians in 1867 staged a series of violent “risings” against British rule that, while creating romantic nationalist heroes, were easily suppressed (Google “the battle of Widow McCormack’s cabbage patch” to get a sense of how they often turned out). These “physical force nationalists” were opposed by “constitutional nationalists” such as Daniel O’Connell and Charles Stewart Parnell who instead pursued a nonviolent reformist agenda within the British political system that gradually proved more successful.

A political cartoon from 1886 showing men kicking British Prime Minister William Gladstone and the Home Rule bill in the air.
A political cartoon from 1886 showing men kicking British Prime Minister William Gladstone and the Home Rule bill in the air.

O’Connell’s Catholic Emancipation movement won civil and political rights for Irish Catholics in the first half of the 19th century. Toward the end of the century, Parnell welded most of the British Parliament’s Irish representatives into the Irish Parliamentary Party, a block of votes that traded its ability to make or break majorities for concessions such as land reform that helped transfer farms from absentee British landlords to their Irish tenants. The chief goal of the constitutional nationalists was Home Rule, which would grant Ireland its own parliament and significant autonomy, though still as part of the larger British constitutional system and under some measure of British sovereignty. After a decades-long fight and several near misses, the British finally granted Home Rule in 1914, only to suspend it with the outbreak of World War I.

This is where momentum shifted back toward physical force nationalism. As majority-Protestant areas around Belfast in the north raised a militia and imported arms to resist Home Rule and keep the British union as it was, majority-Catholic areas in the rest of Ireland responded in kind. In an environment of increasing militarism, Patrick Pearse and a small group of armed rebels seized key positions in Dublin on Easter Monday in 1916 and proclaimed an Irish Republic completely independent of Britain.

The British military’s heavy-handed response — reducing the center of Dublin to ruin, executing the Rising’s leaders, imprisoning thousands not even involved, and declaring martial law — further radicalized the country. Within three years, the Irish Republican Army, or IRA, had launched a bloody insurgency campaign against British troops and local police units. The Anglo-Irish War, fought as a series of ambushes, assassinations and civilian reprisals, finally forced the British to cede Ireland its de facto independence in 1922, but only after partitioning off six counties that would remain part of the British union as Northern Ireland.

The usual story’s framing of violent versus reformist methods in Irish nationalism is true as far as it goes, but also incomplete. What it misses is a powerful third tradition of radical, extralegal, but still nonviolent resistance. In the 19th century, many rural communities, often organized by women in the Ladies’ Land League, refused to pay rent to British absentee landlords or work for their local land agents at harvest time. Indeed, our word “boycott” is named for Captain Charles Boycott, a land agent in County Mayo ostracized by his local community in 1880 during a noncooperation campaign.

An Irish Land League poster from the 1880s.
An Irish Land League poster from the 1880s.

Nonviolent methods grew more widespread leading up to and during the revolutionary period. In the years preceding to the Easter Rising, Dublin saw major industrial and transportation strikes; activists such as Helena Molony, arrested for destroying a picture of King George V during his coronation visit to Ireland, refused to pay fines and took jail sentences instead; and some Irish juries would not convict locals accused of opposing the British war effort during World War I. After the Rising, railway workers refused to carry British troops and munitions, other work-stoppages secured the release of political prisoners, and hunger strikes by Irish nationalists in British custody brought international condemnation down on the British government.

The key figure in this tide of nonviolent defiance was Arthur Griffith, the founder of Sinn Féin. Griffith was not a principled pacifist, but he believed nonviolent methods would prove more effective against British rule in Ireland. His was a nationalism that advocated dissolving the political and economic ties that linked Ireland to Britain by acting as if they no longer existed, an approach signaled by the name Sinn Féin, which is Irish for “Ourselves.”

Founded a decade before the Easter Rising, Griffith’s Sinn Féin movement came into its own in the revolutionary environment of the Rising’s aftermath. When the British government, desperate to replace soldiers killed at the front during World War I, decided to extend military conscription to Ireland in early 1918, Sinn Féin joined labor unions and Catholic clergy to coordinate a massive nationwide civil disobedience campaign. Almost two million people signed an anti-conscription pledge after Sunday masses that April 21. Arresting Griffith and other movement leaders only strengthened opposition, and ultimately the British found conscription unenforceable.

The anti-conscription campaign was a springboard for Griffith’s most innovative idea: using British elections themselves to select, legitimize and seat a rival Irish government outside the British system. When elections to the British Parliament, long delayed by World War I and featuring a newly expanded franchise with the inclusion of women voters, arrived in late 1918, Sinn Féin candidates, again backed by labor activists and Catholic leaders, swept to victory everywhere except the unionist strongholds in the north. Following Griffith’s policy of “abstentionism,” they refused to take their seats in the British Parliament and instead, acting as if British authority no longer existed, gathered at Mansion House in Dublin to declare themselves Dáil Éireann, or Assembly of Ireland, establishing the independent Irish government that exists to this day.

While the British outlawed the Dáil as a “terrorist organization,” it continued to operate underground in accordance with its newly drafted constitution, appointing government ministers, sending diplomats to foreign capitals, and issuing bonds to raise money hidden from British authorities in sympathetic Irish banks. Operating as a parallel government, it attracted increasing allegiance from ordinary Irish people.

Crucial to its growing legitimacy was the Dáil’s ability to extend its authority down to local communities. In early 1920, Sinn Féin again swept elections, this time at the city and county levels, gaining control of many local governments that quickly flipped their loyalty to the Dáil, refused to cooperate with British tax collection, switched their purchasing contracts to Irish-owned firms, and closed workhouses associated with the hated British poor-law system. Even more dramatic was the creation of “Dáil Courts,” a multi-tiered parallel judicial system that spread across most of Ireland. British courts formally remained in place, but they essentially ceased functioning as enforcers of British law when local people instead began taking their disputes to the new Dáil judicial system that became, in the words of one local observer, “the only authority in the County.”

The nonviolent defiance of British authority led by Dáil Éireann existed alongside and overlapped significantly with violent methods during the Anglo-Irish War. Many nationalists supported both approaches and moved back and forth between the Dáil’s political resistance and the IRA’s military operations. But while mainstream, popular historical accounts give the violence more attention and credit for the Irish Revolution’s outcome — often through romanticized accounts of leaders such as Michael Collins — they underplay or miss entirely other critically important aspects of the struggle.

The historical evidence is clear that the Dáil’s campaign of noncooperation and parallel government did just as much or more to make Ireland ungovernable and force the British into negotiations. These actions eventually led to an independent country in the 26 southern counties and the formal handover of administrative power to the Dáil as that country’s legitimate government.

Arthur Griffith.
Arthur Griffith.

If the methods developed by Arthur Griffith and Dáil Éireann are underappreciated in the usual story of Ireland’s independence struggle, the same is true of their contributions to the history of nonviolent civil resistance more generally. Few realize the impact Griffith’s innovative techniques for withdrawing authority from an occupier had on better-known nonviolent campaigns that followed him. India’s is the most notable. After attending a Dublin Sinn Féin meeting in 1907, Jawaharlal Nehru wrote: “They do not want to fight England by arms but to ignore her, boycott her, and quietly assume the administration of Irish affairs.” Leaders of the Swadeshi movement that organized boycotts of British goods praised Griffith as a “model.” And, perhaps most significantly, Gandhi himself cited Griffith’s direct influence on his own ideas, though he decried the later turn to violence by many Sinn Féin members.

This influence shows how Griffith’s noncooperation techniques embodied by Dáil Éireann were important early contributors to one of the most significant developments of the last century: the emergence of organized civil resistance as an alternative to armed struggle. Indeed, as researchers such as Maria Stephan and Erica Chenoweth demonstrate, nonviolent civil resistance movements since 1900 are twice as likely as violent ones to succeed against an oppressive regime or foreign occupier.

And the case of Griffith and Dáil Éireann suggests such comparisons may actually understate the power of nonviolence. The Irish Revolution is an example of nonviolent strategies operating effectively, if more quietly, within an otherwise violent campaign, revealing how even seemingly successful violent movements may actually owe much of that success to overlooked nonviolent techniques operating behind the scenes. Dáil Éireann’s centenary, then, is a chance to celebrate this still-underappreciated revolutionary power of nonviolence.

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