Archive | March 16th, 2015

Amritsar Treaty & Kashmirs’ Struggle


Image result for Kashmirs’ Struggle PHOTO

By Sajjad Shaukat

In fact, the misfortune of people of Jammu and Kashmir started on March 16, 1846 when the

Treaty of Amritsar was signed. Under the Treaty, British colonialists sold Kashmir alongwith its

people to a Dogra Hindu, Gulab Singh for 7.5 million rupees. The Treaty of Amritsar which was

signed by Gulab Singh, Hardinge, Currie and Lawrence had common cause among the parties

with the aim to end the Muslim rule in Jammu and Kashmir. Gulab Singh thus became the

founder and first Maharaja of the princely state of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K).

As a consequence of the Treaty of Amritsar, a reign of terror was unleashed by the

Dogra dynasty on the Kashmiris. During the Dogra rule (1846-1947), Kashmiri Muslims were

leading so miserable life that it was difficult to differentiate them from beasts. Slave labour,

heavy taxes, capital punishment for cow slaughter, and living under constant terror was order of

In this regard, Yousaf Saraf in his book, ‘Kashmiris Fight for Freedom’ calls it “free forced

labour” and “instead of donkeys and horses, Kashmiri Muslims were used for transportation of

goods across the far-flung areas.” Atrocities of the Dogra regime could also be judged from the

book of Sir Walter Lawrence, ‘The India We Served’. While describing the pathetic picture of

the Kashmiris, he writes, “Army was employed in forcing the villagers to plough and sow, and

worse still, the soldiers came at harvest time and when the share of the state had been seized”

and “there was very little grain to tide the unfortunate peasants over the cruel winter.”

On April 19, 1931, the ban of Eid Khutba ignited widespread demonstrations in the Jummu city.

For the first time, people openly opposed the oppression. On July 13, 1931, thousands of people

thronged the Central Jail Srinagar. As the time for obligatory prayer approached, a young

Kashmiri stood for Azan. The Dogra soldiers opened fire at him. In this way, 22 Kashmiris

embraced martyrdom in their efforts to complete the Azan.

The people carried the dead and paraded through the streets of Srinagar, chanting slogans against

Dogra brutalities. Complete strike was observed in the city, which was followed by weeklong

mourning. This incident shook the whole state and the traffic from Srinagar to Rawalpindi and

Srinagar to Jammu came to halt.

However, upon these ruthless killings, the Kashmiri leadership realized the need to form a

political party, Muslim Conference (MC) with a view to waging struggle for their freedom.

Later, in 1934, state’s first elections were held and MC won 10 out of 21 seats, and after two

years in 1936, it succeeded in getting 19 out of 21 seats. Indian Congress was upset with this

situation and tried to create division in the ranks of Kashmiri leadership. Afterwards, on July 19,

1947, MC passed a resolution to merge Kashmir with Pakistan, considering the geographical

proximity—majority of Muslim population (77%), language and cultural relations of Jammu and

During the partition of the Sub-continent, in 1947, the ruler of Jammu and Kashmir, Hari Singh,

in connivance with Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and Governor-General Lord

Mountbatten, had decided to join India, quite contrary to the wishes of the majority of Kashmiris.

When a contention arose between India and Pakistan on the Kashmir dispute in1948, India took

the issue to the United Nations Security Council and offered to hold a plebiscite in the held

Kashmir under UN supervision. On February 5, 1964, India backed out of its promise. Instead, in

March 1965, the Indian Parliament passed a bill, declaring Kashmir a province of India.

While passing through various phases, the struggle of Kashmiris which has become an

interaction between Indian state terrorism led by the Indian security forces and war of liberation

by the freedom fighters, keeps on going unabated.

Despite the employment of various forms of state terrorism by the Indian security forces, war of

liberation intensified since 1989.

A recent report on human rights violations by Indian Army and its paramilitary forces in Indian-

held Kashmir disclosed that since 1989, there have been deaths of 93,274 innocent Kashmiris,

6,969 custodial killings, 117,345 arrests and 105,861 destructions of houses. Indian brutal

security forces have orphaned over 107, 351 children, widowed 22,728 women and gang raped

Besides Human Rights Watch, in its various reports, Amnesty International has also pointed out

grave human rights violations in the Indian-controlled Kashmir, indicating, “The Muslim

majority population in the Kashmir Valley suffers from the repressive tactics of the security

forces. Under the Jammu and Kashmir Disturbed Areas Act, and the Armed Forces (Jammu and

Kashmir) Special Powers Act and Public Safety Act, security forces have extraordinary powers

to shoot suspected persons.”

Particularly in 2008, a rights group reported unmarked graves in 55 villages across the Indian

occupied Kashmir. In this context, in August, 2011, Indian Jammu and Kashmir State Human

Rights Commission (SHRC) officially acknowledged in its report that innocent civilians killed in

the two-decade conflict have been buried in unmarked graves. Notably, foreign sources and

human rights organizations including Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP)

have pointed out that unnamed graves include thousands of innocent persons, killed by the

Indian military and paramilitary troops in the fake encounters including those who were tortured

Now, leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi is

implementing new Kashmir diplomacy in order to eliminate the struggle of Kashmiris. In this

regard, BJP and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) led by Mufti Mohammad Sayeed have

forged a coalition government on March 1, 2015 after inconclusive elections in Kashmir. For the

purpose, an agreement between BJP and PDP was signed, aimed at robbing the mandate of the

Kashmiri people who posed confidence in PDP for their betterment. Nevertheless, PDP’s wooing

of BJP is grave act of betrayal to its voters.

And, Modi hurriedly decided to forcibly annex disputed territory of the Indian-occupied

Kashmir, uncovering its intentions to wrap up the article 370 of the Indian constitution which

ensures a special status to J&K.

In this respect, on the one hand, BJP government gave a green signal to the Indian security forces

to continue various forms of state terrorism on the innocent kashmiris, while on the other, it has

also been cajoling them through positive measures in order to divide them. In this connection, on

January 15, 2015, during the Indian Army Day, Indian Army Chief Gen. Dalbir Singh

ordered a day’s pay contribution by the entire Army to the Prime Minister’s Relief Fund to

help flood-affected people in the Indian-held Kashmir—totaling an amount of Rs. 100 crore.

Returning to our earlier discussion, the Treaty of Amritsar is the genesis of Kashmiris’ struggle

which keeps on going, and will continue untill they get their legitimate right of self-


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Iraq: ‘jihadis’ caught wearing dresses, bras, and makeup


Zio-Wahhabi Rat’s are shaving off their beards and dressing as women in a bid to escape from battle, Iraqi forces have claimed.


A series of pictures have emerged showing men who have reportedly been caught trying to escape from northern Iraq wearing dresses, bras and make-up.

The photographs, posted on Instagram, show authorities appearing to pull back burkas to reveal young boys and even men with moustaches.  In one a scared teenager wearing pink eyeshadow is held by the throat as an official takes a picture.


One man is pictured in a flowery red jumpsuit with a thick blue blanket pulled over his head.


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3QUNAYTRA:  The Zionist plan to create a new front in Qunaytra is falling apart.  With exceptionally good intelligence, the SAA has been able to anticipate many operations designed to link up with the Der’ah Front by creating supply corridors. Yesterday, that scheme was smashed by a coordinated operation involving SAAF, SAA and militias like Hizbollah:

Mas-hara:  We have received reports that 150+ terrorists were either killed or wounded when the SAAF flew 4 sorties over this town firing salvo after salvo of rockets at congregating Alqaeda terrorists followed by a barrage of artillery fire from an area to the northeast.  All this was to soften up the rats and cause some panic in their ranks.  It succeeded.  Vans and flatbeds were seen through binoculars fleeing back behind the Zionist lines.  Reports in Rafeed indicate Zionist hospitals are flooded with wounded rodents – all bearded and malodorous.

Nab’ Al-Sakhr:  An assault by SAA infantry on a nest of rodents belonging to the Alqaeda group netted 6 foreigners:


The others were not named.

Rasm Al-Khawaalid:  A mortar was destroyed along with its 2 operators.  No names.

Al-SuwaysaAlqaeda/Nusra’s franchise “Liwaa` Al-‘Izz” (yawn) lost over 32 rodents, among whom were 3 leaders.


image:×330.jpg 17Tal Dhubyaan:  Near Kafr Shams.  A pack of rats was dealt with harshly by the SAA killing 5 and wounding several others.

Al-Tayha:  Being cleared out and prepared for an artillery site by SAA.  Some remnant rodents still infest the area.

The City:  At the Electric Company, the SAA killed 27 rats and wounded scores:

Abu Raami Al-Ghareeb (Id peding. Identified by captured rat and warbler)

‘Abdul-Hafeezh Al-Juhaymaan (false id carried by SAUDI ARABIAN MONKEY.  Known Saudi by flies in his beard)

Ahmad Al-Hareeri

Subhi Muhammad Qashboor

Mahmoud Faadi Al-Faa’oori

‘Ali Muhammad Al-Masaalima

‘Ali Ahmad Al-Masaalima


The City:  At the Post Office.  2 rats killed by police. No other details.

The City: Al-Karak Quarter.  No details about a firefight.

East Al-Ghaariyya:  3 armored vehicles were melted down for sale to Japan’s auto industry.  Inside the vehicles were 16 rats all of whom are now in Hell:

Muhammad Qaassim Al-Tulfaah

Maazin Hilmi Al-Masri

‘Abdul-Rahmaan ‘Abdul-Majeed Al-Masri

Ahmad ‘Umraan  

Yaasser Ahmad Al-Ghazzaawi

Faarooq Hassan Al-Maydaani

The rest were not identified and believed to be foreign.


army 3Kaheel near the Jordanian border in the eastern part of the province.  A nest of vultures was destroyed.

Saydaa Al-Jawlaan:  In the Golan area.  A pickup with 23mm cannon was destroyed by an RPG.  8 rats killed and several seen wounded and being taken to field hospitals.  The rats left their weapons and ammo behind.  We thank them for the gift to our militias.

Al-Shaykh Miskeen: Still besieged by SAA with about 60% now liberated.  A battle started 2 days ago and is continuing into today and Monday.

Ibta’:  Also 2 days ago.  A nest was destroyed.  No other details.

‘Itmaan:  To the north of the province.  A vehicle with 8 rats was destroyed on the dirt road.  Many weapons and much ammunition recovered

Basr Al-Hareer – Mulayhat Al-‘Atsh Road:  A vehicle was destroyed.  No other details.

Umm Al-Daraj Well:  Nusra/Alqaeda took a big hit. No other details.

Fighting reported on-going here: Zimreen, Daa’il, Tafass, Naahita, Al-Lijaat between Al-Shaymara and Al-Shiyyaah, Kafr Naasij, ‘Aqraba


Australian Halal Certifier Sues Islamaphobic Campaigners

  • Industry advocates say halal certification opens lucrative export markets, but anti-Islam groups claim halal is part of a secret plot to conquer the world.

    Industry advocates say halal certification opens lucrative export markets, but anti-Islam groups claim halal is part of a secret plot to conquer the world

Halal certifier Mohamed El Mouelhy says anti-Islam campaigners have personally accused him of funding terrorism.

The head of one of Australia’s largest halal certification industry groups announced he is suing an “Islam-critical” organization that claimed halal certification businesses are funding a “Muslim conspiracy” to take over Australia.

“It’s good to put those bigots back in their holes. They are racist, bigots. There is no other word for it,” Mohamed El Mouelhy told SBS news Wednesday. El Mouelhy heads the Halal Certification Authority, a business that provides halal approval to Australian companies. Halal is an Arabic word used to describe foods allowed under Islamic dietary laws.

Mouelhy stated the case in the New South Wales Supreme Court centers around two videos posted online by the Q Society – a group of self described “Islam-critical” campaigners.

Q Society is one of a handful of anti-Islam groups that have been lobbying Australian businesses to dump halal certification. The campaign has gained momentum amid a surge of Islamophobia in Australia.

The case isn’t about money, Mouelhy explained, as his business hasn’t been harmed by anti-halal campaigners. Instead, he argued the two online videos are damaging to his reputation.

“My integrity is being questioned. I don’t like that, because I’m an honest man,” he said.

Mouelhy’s suit names not only the Q Society, but also its national President Debbie Robinson, board members Peter Callaghan and Ralf Schumann and anti-halal campaigner Kirralie Smith. Smith is both a member of Q Society and runs the anti-halal website

One of the videos involved in the lawsuit allegedly features Smith speaking at a Q Society event. During the video, Mouelhy is allegedly portrayed as “reasonably suspected of providing financial support to terrorist organizations” and “part of a conspiracy to destroy Western civilization from within.”

In 2014, the Australian Crime Commission conducted an extensive investigation into money laundering nationwide and found no evidence of links between the Halal industry and terrorist organizations.

Smith’s website also contains other videos accusing the halal certification industry of profiteering off “gullible customers.”

During a separate video on the website, Smith claimed that giving businesses the freedom to pursue halal certification is undermining freedom of religion.

Smith’s website claims to merely educate Australian consumers about Islamic food customs. However, Q Society’s activities aren’t limited to Halal. In 2011, the group spearheaded a petition aiming to block Muslims from using a suburban community center in Melbourne for Friday prayers.

The Q-Society also organized a meeting in the town of Bendigo in 2014 aimed at stopping the construction of a mosque. The ‘Stop the Mosque in Bendigo’ Facebook page claims there is nothing bigoted about denying a Muslim community a mosque.

On its website, Q Society claims Islam is a “totalitarian ideology” and claims Australia is already being subjected to Shariah inspired gender segregation, forced imposition of halal foods, and “huge mosques and their minarets built as a show of Islamic supremacy.”

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Interview: The Return of European Fascism

  • Protesters oppose fascist party meeting
  • Protesters oppose fascist party meeting

teleSUR speaks to Sabby Dhalu, Co-Secretary of U.K.-based Unite Against Fascism about the rise of fascism 70 years after the liberation of Auschwitz.

We mark Holocaust Memorial Day, against the backdrop of a growth in right-wing populism in Europe, are the far-right parties that are making gains in any way influenced by fascism?

Many of the far-right political parties and organizations across Europe are influenced by fascism insome way. In Europe there are four different types of far-right parties and organizations. There are overtly neo-Nazi fascist organizations such as Golden Dawn in Greece and Jobbik in Hungary. Both use Nazi imagery, and both have a dual strategy of fighting elections and organizing violent and intimidating street movements. They use racism and hatred against Muslim and immigrant communities in a similar way Nazis and fascists in the 1930s whipped up racist propaganda against Jewish people.

Other parties such as the Front National in France and the now defunct British National Party (BNP) are described by academics as “Euro-Fascist”. These types of European fascist parties seek to gain electoral support by hiding links to fascism and neo-Nazism. But the Front National was set up by supporters of Vichy France. The British National Party was founded by former members of the National Front and included supporters of fascist paramilitary group Combat 18. 

Another development is far-right street movements the most notable of which is Pegida in Germany which organized large demonstrations with slogans opposing immigration and its growing Muslim population. Its similarity with fascism is its emphasis on street movements and whipping up racism against minority communities. These demonstrations were supported by the far-right Alternative for Deutchland and Neo Nazi NPD, but attracted a broader layer of people. However this movement has faced broad opposition in Germany, with large anti-racist demonstrations opposing Pegida. This seems to have demoralized Pegida as its most recent demonstration was half the size of previous ones.

Separately, there are other type of far-right groups which are racist and populist such as UKIP in Britain and Geert Wilders Freedom Party in the Netherlands. These parties are not fascist parties, although one could argue their clear focus on blaming immigrant or Muslims for economic downturn in Europe is influenced by fascism even if not consciously.

The English Defence League (EDL) is a similar movement in Britain, although much smaller its largest demonstration was attended by 3,000 people. It also faced big and broad opposition that mobilized against it for several years in Britain, which succeeded. Support for EDL demonstrations has massively reduced over the last two years, with demonstrations reduced to less than 500 attendees. However it is attempting a resurgence following the Paris shootings by organizing demonstrations against Mosques and Muslim communities. 

Why do you think these parties are growing? Does that offer any historical parallels with the 1930s?

The underlying factor that has propelled the Front National in France and UKIP in Britain to top the polls, as well as other gains for the far right in last years European Parliament elections, is austerity, the resulting economic downturn, or recession, and crucially the tendency to blame immigrants, whether it’s Eastern European migrants within the EU, Muslims or black people.

In response to the growth of the far-right, both center-right and social democratic mainstream parties have tried to steal the far-right’s clothes by appearing to be hard on immigration and Muslim communities. 

The main beneficiaries of this concession to racism are the far right and fascist parties themselves. Far from curbing the growth of the far-right, it gives the appearance that the policies and rhetoric of far-right parties are normal.

In Britain we are seeing big campaigns in the mass media criticizing immigrants often in a contradictory fashion. On the one hand immigrants are blamed for unemployment by taking jobs off people born in Britain, then on the other hand they are blamed for not working and taking so-called handouts from the benefits system. Ironically it is black, Asian, Muslim and Eastern European migrants that are hit hardest by austerity. These communities are the lowest paid, the most likely to become unemployed and disproportionately hit by austerity and economic slowdown.

In addition to blaming immigrant communities for the economic crisis, racism is also used to distract people from their fall in standard of living. Salma Yaqoob, a prominent Muslim woman commentator, described Islamophobia as a “weapon of mass distraction.” So measures such as banning Muslim women from wearing the Niqab – the full face veil – in France, and the Islamophobic discussion which accompanied this, was a distraction from the high unemployment, austerity and fall in standards of living in France.

Clearly there are similarities with the 1930s, the economic situation, with recession or stagnant growth and the racism described above is very similar to the way Jews were targeted across Europe in the early twentieth century and the 1930s. However the current political situation in Europe is not a repeat of the 1930s. While many fascist or far-right populist parties are polling high votes in some elections, and there are large street movements in some countries, it is unlikely that such parties can take power in the same way fascists movements did in the 1930s.

What lessons do you believe history provides in the fight against fascism?

There are several lessons. Firstly after World War II and the horrors of the Holocaust were exposed, the whole world said, “never again.” Yet here we are in Europe experiencing the biggest growth of the far-right since the 1930s. Instead of conceding to the far-right’s agenda on racism, mainstream political parties should challenge the far-right on this and highlight the many positive benefits of immigrants.

For example, whereas immigration is often portrayed as having a detrimental effect on the economy, the reality is that immigration has in fact been an engine for economic growth. Also history shows us that we should show a sense of humanity to refugees and asylum seekers fleeing persecution and encourage a culture of respect and equality towards all human beings.
History has proved that economic policies such as austerity do not work and lead to a growth in support for far-right organizations. Therefore Europe must instead adopt a system that encourages economic growth and improves living standards for everyone.

And finally, history also shows us that when fascist groups are attempting to build, whether it is at the ballot box or on the streets, we cannot ignore them. We must organize and unite the broadest coalition against fascism: the trade unions, liberals, socialists, communists, Jews, Muslims, Christians, Black, Asian, lesbian and gay communities, students and young people. Everyone stands to lose if fascists gain power, so we must unite the broadest section of society against it.

That unity is important. We should always remember the famous words of Pastor Niemöller, who spent the last years of his life in a Nazi concentration camp, who said:
‘First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.’

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UNASUR Extraordinary Meeting on Venezuela Begins in Quito

  • The 12 UNASUR foreign ministers at the summit
  • The 12 UNASUR foreign ministers at the summit
The bloc of 12 South American countries will discuss recent U.S. actions against Venezuela.

An extraordinary meeting of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) began Saturday afternoon behind close doors, in the regional body’s headquarters in Quito, Ecuador.

During a  conference at the beginning of the meeting, UNASUR’s Secretary General Ernesto Samper explained that the bloc’s aim is to preserve peace and democracy in Latin America.

“The main principles that gave birth to UNASUR were the preservation of this region as a peace zone, the reinforcement of democracy and the guarantee of human rights … those are the three points in which we are and will continue to work on,” he explained.

The bloc of countries will discuss Monday’s executive action approved by U.S. President Barack Obama, declaring Venezuela an “extraordinary threat to national security.”

The foreign ministers will also review a report on the situation in Venezuela, drafted by a delegation that visited the country in the first week of March.

So far, many regional leaders – such as Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa, Bolivian President Evo Morales, Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega and Argentinian President Cristina Fernandez – have rejected and criticized the measure taken by the U.S. government.

Social movements from across the region have also expressed solidarity with the people and the government of Venezuela. Even the main group of opposition parties in Venezuela rejected the claims that Venezuela posed a threat.

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South America Rejects US Aggressions on Venezuela

The Union of South American Nations has rejected the U.S. approach to Venezuela
  • The Union of South American Nations has rejected the U.S. approach to Venezuela 

At Saturday’s Extraordinary Summit of the Union of South American Nations, the bloc came out strongly in defense of Venezuela.

Venezuela received strong backing from the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) Saturday afternoon, at an emergency summit addressing the recent aggressions from US President Barack Obama.

Obama had signed an executive order earlier in the week declaring Venezuela an“extraordinary threat to national security.”

At a press conference following the meeting of the foreign ministers, UNASUR Secretary General Ernesto Samper read out a statement that said, “The member states of UNASUR reject the executive order approved by the United States government which declares Venezuela a threat to national security.”

The statement describes the executive order as an “interference” and a “threat to sovereignty and to the principle of non-intervention.”

“We call upon the United States to evaluate and implement dialogue as an alternative,” adds the statement

“The UNASUR member States believe the internal situation in Venezuela shall be resolved through the democratic mechanisms established in the Venezuelan Constitution”

As a result the 12 nation body called for the “derogation of the Executive Order.”

In an exclusive interview with teleSUR after the statement was released, Venezuelan Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez said that “UNASUR has stood firm against imperialism,” and that the meeting was “aware of the seriousness” of the threat “not only for Venezuela but for the whole region”.

Referring to the UNASUR statement Minister Rodriguez said that “we know Venezuela is not alone” which she explained was important as “if there were to be an intervention on Venezuela, we wouldn’t know when it would move beyond our borders”

She added that “UNASUR ratified the principle of unity, of independence…this meeting was marked by the Latin American spirit of liberty” and that despite any differences between the bloc’s 12 nations “we can agree on the biggest issues.”

​Minister Rodriguez described the Executive Order, signed by President Obama as a reflection of a “a political class that does not believe in the principles of international law.” Addressing the claim that Venezuela represents a threat to the United States and carries out human rights abuses, as Obama claimed, the Foreign Minister added that  “we see terrible racial discrimination cases (in the U.S.) … hundreds of human rights violations” and that the U.S. hasn’t ratified key international treaties on gender equality or childrens’ rights”

She explained that Venezuela seeks an “equal dialogue with the U.S. government.”

Earlier UNASUR Secretary General Ernesto Samper had explained that the bloc’s aim is to preserve peace and democracy in Latin America.

“The main principles that gave birth to UNASUR were the preservation of this region as a peace zone, the reinforcement of democracy and the guarantee of human rights … those are the three points in which we are and will continue to work on,” he explained.

In recent days, many regional leaders – such as Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa, Bolivian President Evo Morales, Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega and Argentinian President Cristina Fernandez – have rejected and criticized the measure taken by the U.S. government.

Social movements from across the region have also expressed solidarity with the people and the government of Venezuela. Even the main group of opposition parties in Venezuela rejected the claims that Venezuela posed a threat.

UNASUR Statement (Unofficial translation)

The member States of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) manifest their rejection of the Executive Order issued on March 9, 2015 by the government of the United States of America, for it constitutes a threat of interference against sovereignty and the principle of non-intervention in other States’ affairs.

The UNASUR Member States ratify their commitment with the application of International Law, Peaceful Resolution of Disputes and the principle of Non-Intervention, and calls upon governments to withhold the use of coercive unilateral measures that violate international law.

UNASUR reiterates its request to the United States’ government to evaluate and implement dialogue with Venezuela as an alternative, under the basis of respecting sovereignty and self-determination of the people. Consequently, we request the derogation of the Executive Order.

Quito, March 14, 2015.  

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Italy Takes Regional Anti-Mosque Law to Constitutional Court

Members of the Muslim community in Italy leave Rome
  • Members of the Muslim community in Italy leave Rome’s mosque after prayers

Following a series of protests across the country, Italy moved to block a regional law recently passed which was aimed at preventing the building of mosques.

Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi (center-left) declared on Friday that his government had gone to the Constitutional Court to examine the so-called “anti-mosque law” – a series of measures that were approved by local authorities (far-right) in the northern region of Lombardy at the end January.

The legislation possible breaches several constitutional rules of the country, such as freedom of religion, and could have over-stepped its ability to rule in state-religion matters, or given too much power to local mayors.

The law created various urban and political restrictions so that the building of mosques would be impossible. For instance, religious minorities that have not benefitted from any official recognition are now compelled to adapt their places of worship to local aesthetic canons, in addition to other bureaucratic obstacles.

Lombardy officials would also be required to convoke a public referendum before approving the building of any religious facilities in the region.

Islam is the only religion in the country that has not yet received official recognition. It is practiced by over a million Italian citizens and is the second biggest religion in the country according to a 2011 survey quoted by Russia Today.

The northern region of Lombardy, one of the wealthiest in the country as well an industrial heartland, has been ruled by the far-right Northern League allied with Italian Force. Matteo Salvini, leader of Northern League, responded to the government’s move by saying “Renzi and [Interior Minister] Alfano are the new Imams” on his Facebook page.

However, when the law was passed, surprisingly Renzi – who frequently comments on everyday political events on social networks – did not react. As for Alfano, one week before passing the law, he controversially conflated immigration and terrorism during a speech to legislators.

European countries are facing a wave of Islamophobia recently, and more and more frequently governments, especially at the local level, are granting the requests of part of their electorate by approving anti-Islam laws or measures. In 2009, Switzerland was the first country to prohibit building minarets – a measure later approved by referendum. More recently, the right-wing government of Austria initiated legislation in February that forbids the foreign funding of Muslim organizations in its territory.

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UK Asylum Seeker Hunger Strike Enters Day 6

A man at Harmondsworth in 2006. Harmondsworth is the U.K.
  • A man at Harmondsworth in 2006. Harmondsworth is the U.K.’s largest detention center

Over 100 asylum seekers have gone almost a week without food to protest conditions described by a recent parliamentary inquiry as “unjust.”

Asylum seekers being held in U.K. detention centers entered their sixth day of protest Saturday, demanding better conditions and faster processing.

“Everybody is suffering here because of (the) unreasonable time of detention – because nobody knows when they are releasing us,” one asylum seeker stated on the blog, detainedvoices.

Over 100 asylum seekers at the Harmondsworth Detention Center have been on a hunger strike since Sunday morning. When the protest started, local media carried footage of asylum seekers protesting in the center’s exercise yard.

Since then, similar protests have broken out in at least five other U.K. detention centers.

Another Western country, Australia, is also facing widespread protests in its own detention centers.

On social media, asylum seekers have said security personnel have begun searching rooms for cameras and phones “so guys can’t send any videos outside.”

Now Security officers are searching our rooms for cameras and camera phones so guys cant send any videos out side. 

“They say, ‘We don’t like the way you have started a hunger strike and that (the) media are seeing (it),’” they said.

The hunger strike began a week after a parliamentary inquiry called for a 28 day detention limit and better conditions for asylum seekers. It also recommended authorities stop detaining pregnant women and vulnerable asylum seekers such as torture victims and the elderly. The U.K. is the only member country of the European Union that doesn’t have a maximum period for detaining asylum seekers.

Describing the detention system as “expensive, ineffective and unjust,” the report found some asylum seekers were kept behind bars for as long as four years, and without being given any time-frame for possible release.

The inquiry concluded the system puts the health of detainees at “serious risk.”

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Why a fourth Naziyahu term may be a good thing

Binyamin Netanyahu isolated

By Alan Hart

If I had to express my hope in one sentence it would be this. A fourth term as prime minister for Binyamin Netanyahu would see Israel becoming more and more isolated and could improve the chances of Western governments being moved to use the leverage they have to cause the Zionist (not Jewish) state to end its defiance of international law and denial of the Palestinian claim for justice.

Another way to put it would be to say Netanyahu is a disaster for Zionism so let’s have more of him.

A vision of the disaster Netanyahu’s leadership has been bringing on was put into words by former Mossad chief Meir Dagan when he addressed the anti-Netanyahu “Israel wants change” rally in Rabin Square on 7 March. He said:

Israel is surrounded by enemies. Enemies do not scare me; I worry about our leadership. I am afraid of our leadership… Netanyahu is dragging us down to a binational state and to the end of the Zionist dream.

It would not surprise me if Netanyahu’s unspoken and unspeakable response was something like, “That will not happen because we’ll resort to a final round of ethnic cleansing before it could happen.”

In my imagination Netanyahu shared his thoughts on how to defuse the demographic time-bomb of occupation with a group of deluded, neo-fascist Jewish settlers. One of them said: “Yes, and while we’re completing our ethnic cleansing programme we’ll blow up the Dome of the Rock.” Another said: “And we’ll chop off some Palestinian heads as Lieberman suggested.”

What Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman actually said when as leader of the right-wing Yisrael Beitenu party he addressed an election rally in Herzliya on 8 March was the following:

Whoever is with us should give everything as they wish. Whoever is against us, there’s nothing else to do. We have to lift up an axe and remove his head, otherwise we won’t survive here.

Zionist equivalent of “Islamic State”

The question those words provoked in my mind was this.

If Israel continues on its present course will the future see the emergence of a Zionist equivalent of the self-styled “Islamic State“ (IS)?

Because a two-state solution in the shape and form the Palestinians could accept has long been dead, killed by Israel’s colonisation of the occupied West Bank, an enterprise best described as ongoing ethnic cleansing slowly and by stealth, a binational state is the only hope for a political resolution of the conflict.

The creation of a binational state would put under one territorial roof the land of Israel prior to the 1967 war, the occupied West Bank and the besieged Gaza Strip.

In theory and principle, a real and true binational state would be one in which allof its citizens enjoyed equal political and all other civil and human rights.

Because the day is approaching when the Arabs of Israel-Palestine will outnumber the Jews, the creation of a binational state would therefore lead to the de-Zionisation of Palestine and, to quote Meir Dagan again, “the end of the Zionist dream”.

Question: If Netanyahu stays in power, and given that he is not remotely interested in peace on terms the Palestinians could accept whether in two states or one, what are his options for defusing the demographic time-bomb of occupation and keeping Zionism alive?

Muhammad Dahlan – Netanyahu’s instrument

The strategy he has been working on for many months is to have Muhammad Dahlan, the former Fatah leader in Gaza, replace Mahmoud Abbas as president of the Palestinian Authority

In Gaza Dahlan plotted with Israel and its American protector to destroy Hamas. But things didn’t go as planned. Hamas became aware of the Israeli- and American-backed Dahlan coup-in-the-making and launched a pre-emptive strike to drive Fatah’s forces out of the Gaza Strip.

Then, in June 2011, Dahlan was expelled from Fatah because of the widespread belief, given voice by Abbas, that he, Dahlan, was the one who did Mossad’s bidding and administered the polonium that killed Arafat.

Three months later, fearing that Dahlan was plotting against him, Abbas ordered the Palestinian police to raid his home and arrest his private armed guards (no doubt some of them were Israeli assets).

In the past year or so, in regular contact with one or two of Netanyahu’s most trusted aides, Dahlan has been planning his comeback and is seeking to replace Abbas as president of the PA.

What does Netanyahu think Dahlan could do for Zionism?

My guess is that be believes Dahlan as president would be prepared to use force to compel the Palestinians to accept whatever crumbs they were offered from Zionism’s table – a few Bantustans here and there which they could call a state if they wished.

Though such a scenario might play well in Netanyahu’s warped mind, it is totally divorced from reality (par for his course). There is no power on earth or anywhere else that could force the occupied and oppressed Palestinians to surrender to Zionism’s will. Their incredible – almost superhuman – steadfastness for the past 67 years says so.

It follows that if the elections about to take place give him the opportunity to cobble together a new coalition to enable him to continue in office as prime minister, Netanyahu will have to come up with another way of defusing the demographic time-bomb of occupation and the real threat it poses to the existence of the Zionist state.

On the basis of his performance in recent weeks I think it’s not unreasonable to speculate that Netanyahu would begin a fourth term as prime minister by entertaining the hope that the creeping transformation of anti-Israelism into anti-Semitism will gather momentum and cause more and more European Jews to flee to Israel.

In my view that’s most unlikely to happen on the scale that would be necessary to defuse the demographic time-bomb of occupation, and that would leave Zionism with only one option – a final round of ethnic cleansing.

A pretext for it could easily be created by half a dozen Israeli agents dressing up as Palestinian terrorists and killing 30 or 40 or more Jews in what would be a bog standard false flag operation. In response, Israel’s military might would be fully mobilised to drive the Palestinians off the occupied West Bank. Those who didn’t flee to Jordan, Syria, Lebanon or wherever would be killed. Butchered. And if Lieberman’s wish was granted, some would be beheaded.

What if the opposition Zionist Union wins?

Question: If the Zionist Union coalition wins more Knesset seats than Netanyahu’s ruling Likud Party (the polls suggest that it will), and if (it is a big if) its leader, Isaac Herzog, could then put together a majority that would enable him to replace Netanyahu as prime minister, would that improve the prospects for peace on terms that would provide the Palestinians with an acceptable amount of justice?

…defeat for Netanyahu and victory for Herzog would result in an injection of false and phoney optimism into the international politics of the conflict.

Despite the fact that I believe Herzog really meant what he said when he declared that it was “not too late for peace” and that (unlike Netanyahu) he would put real effort into getting a real peace process going, my answer is no. The truth is that Herzog as prime minister would not be allowed by Israel’s right wing in all of its manifestations to deliver enough in the way of withdrawal from occupation to satisfy the Palestinians’ minimum demands and needs.

So, I say, defeat for Netanyahu and victory for Herzog would result in an injection of false and phoney optimism into the international politics of the conflict. We would have President Obama, Prime Minister Cameron and others telling us that a new page had been turned and that the door to peace was now open.

And that would be nonsense.

If there is ever to be a real peace process it has to start with the governments of the major powers, led by the one in Washington DC, putting Israel on notice that if it does not end its defiance of international law and continues its occupation and colonisation of the West Bank it will be isolated and have sanctions imposed on it.

In my view, the prospects of governments being prepared to use the leverage they have to try to cause Israel to be serious about peace on the basis of justice for the Palestinians and security for all would be significantly improved if Netanyahu remains in power.

Another way of putting it would be to say that Netanyahu, unbalanced if not clinically mad, is, actually, the best public relations man for the Palestinians and their cause!

The latest and the last of the pre-election polls conducted in Israel indicate that Herzog’s Zionist Union will win four more seats in the Knesset than Netanyahu’s currently ruling Likud party, but… According to the Times of Israel, all of Israel’s analysts are of the view that Netanyahu is almost certain to be more successful than Herzog in putting together a new ruling coalition.

Also worth noting is that of the 1,230 Israelis polled, 43 per cent said they wanted Netanyahu to remain as prime minster and 35 per cent preferred Herzog.

Because of Israel’s proportional and very bizarre election system – it enables parties with only three or four seats to make or break governments and therefore gives them enormous bargaining power – the haggling to determine who will be Israel’s next prime minister will probably go on for weeks. My guess is that Herzog will be unable to put together a big enough coalition to give him a majority in the Knesset and that Netanyahu will get a fourth term as prime minister.

For the reasons stated above I hope I am right…

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