Archive for the 'Crawford Demonstration' Category

Averting your eyes?

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

“Then force entered in; might making right; power and its tool, violence, and its most devoted ally, the averted eye.”*

There is so much injustice in US society that to catalogue it all would take pages. Yesterday’s Don’t Suppress OWS event focused on that directed toward the peaceful protestors of the Occupy Movement, who had brought to national attention the staggering economic equality that exists in this country.

All the injustices are connected. The police state at home, the wars and brutality here and abroad, the devastation of the planet, the abrogation of rights, and on and on.

Are you averting your eyes? I know that some people are not. They act in some way to stop the madness that reigns in this society. Some give money to support things like yesterday’s action. If you didn’t, you still can here or go to the event website where on the right hand side there is an address where you can send a check .  If you prefer other organizations or issues, there are lots of places to make a difference with your contribution. Find one and give what you can. Then you will know you are not averting your eyes and allying yourself with violence.

Some people go to the streets. If you haven’t ever done that, you are missing an experience not like any other. Do it now. Then you and others will know you are not averting your eyes and allying yourself with violence.

Some people organize protest at all levels. There is so much work to be done at computer terminals, in meetings, in courtrooms, on the streets. Find an organization and do something to help it. Then you will know that you are not averting your eyes and allying yourself with violence.

Failure to do something, to act, is averting your eyes and allying yourself with violence.

I am profoundly grateful for all the people on this planet who are working wherever they are to stop violence and injustice. I know that we are all connected in a vast web. I call on everyone who has not yet taken action to join us. We have right on our side. We will be able to answer our own consciences when we are asked how we could have lived in this time and allowed these horrors to happen with the true reply that we worked to stop them.

*From Ursula Le Quin’s  The Dispossessed, Harper Voyager 2011,p.256

Defending Against Enemies Domestic

Monday, October 17th, 2011

Click below to see a powerful clip of the defense by Marine Sargeant Shamar Thomas of the peaceful citizen protesters of Occupy Wall Street.

Sgt Thomas

Sargeant Thomas reminds me of some of the veterans I met at Camp Casey and in the anti-war movement generally.  This kind of warrior defied some of my notions about soldiers.  I came to believe that they would defend “their people” to the death with their bare hands if necessary, though they are very smart and would have exhausted a lot of other options before getting to that desperate stage.  They would not, however, attack anyone unprovoked, they might not attack anyone actually, provoked or not.  They defend.  These women and men have been horrified at the use that the US has made of their service.  Some of them have refused deployment to fight US wars of aggression like Sgt. Mathis Chiroux and Lt. Ehren Watada.  Others have become strong and faithful anti-war activists like Colonel Ann Wright pictured below.

Col. Ann Wright

Sgt Matthis Chiroux

Lt. Ehren Watada

I am glad to have met people like this who show me that my ideas and stereotypes are often mistaken.  I thank all military personnel in the world who will not attack others and who defend their people from the domestic enemies who threaten them.

Abdul Rahman Shalabi: Longest Hunger Striker

Wednesday, September 28th, 2011

“I am a human being who is treated like an animal,” wrote Abdul Rahman Shalabi to his lawyers in September of 2009, and reported here by Andy Worthington.

Abdul Rahman Shalabi has been on hunger strike for years.  Unlike most of the large number of hunger strikers who began eating after being force fed through tubes down their noses twice daily, Abdul continued to refuse food.  What he has suffered from this alone is unimaginable to me.

From Saudi Arabia, he says that he want to Afghanistan to teach the Qur’an. He had not finished his own studies, but he was urged by his instructors, who thought he was competent to do so, to go to Afghanistan and teach there.

As so often in these stories, there are unsubstantiated allegations from unnamed sources, probably a fellow prisoner under torture, that he was a body guard of Osama Bin Laden and was seen with him.  It is, however, most likely that he is exactly who he says he is.

Though there are reports of his having taken some nourishment, he is still said by Andy Worthington and his lawyers to be dangerously underweight and very ill.

Dr. Matt Wynia, Director of the Institute for Ethics at the American Medical Association says:

“The American Medical Association (AMA) has repeatedly stated opposition to force-feeding competent individuals against their will.[6] The World Medical Association Declaration of Malta concludes that ‘forced feeding contrary to an informed and voluntary refusal is…never ethically acceptable…[and] feeding accompanied by threats, coercion, force or use of physical restraints is a form of inhuman and degrading treatment.[7]‘”

Inhuman and degrading treatment of prisoners is a war crime and a crime against humanity.

To force feed Abdul Rahman Shalabi, prisoner guards chain him to a restraint chair and force a tube down his nose very much against his will.  From years of imprisonment and being treated like an animal, his health is greatly affected, and he remains dangerously underweight.

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Let us demand the release of all these prisoners and remember the sufferings of Abdul Rahman Shalabi.

This Is What US Torturers Do

Tuesday, May 10th, 2011

“‘On a couple of occasions, I entered interview rooms to find a detainee [sic] chained hand and foot in a fetal position to the floor, with no chair, food or water. Most times they had urinated or defecated on themselves and had been left there for 18, 24 hours or more. On one occasion, the air conditioning had been turned down so far and the temperature was so cold in the room that the barefooted detainee was shaking with cold. When I asked the (military police) what was going on I was told that interrogators from the day prior had ordered this treatment and the detainee [sic] was not to be moved. On another occasion, the (air conditioner) had been turned off, making the temperature in the unventilated room probably well over 100 degrees. The detainee [sic] was almost unconscious on the floor with a pile of hair next to him. He had apparently been literally pulling his own hair out throughout the night.’

“That description was taken directly from an email written by an FBI agent on August 2, 2004, and sent to officials at the agency’s headquarters in Washington, DC, describing the torture of one detainee [sic] as witnessed by the agent while he or she was stationed at Guantanamo.

“After reading those horrific details, would you take at face value the information this detainee [sic], who may have been a teenager, an elderly man or a person who suffered from mental problems, gave up to his interrogator?”

The above segment of Jason Leopold’s article on TruthOut certainly helps me to see why the “confessions” under torture of some of the prisoners at Guantanamo, which you can read about here and here, as well as the false statements made by some prisoners about others were made.

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A guard house at Delta Camp, a part of the prison facility at the US Naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, July 23, 2008. (Photo: Fred R. Conrad / The New York Times)

I would be naive to believe that such practices have stopped.  How will I know that, as the executives of two US regimes have declared, “America doesn’t torture”?  I will know that it is over when there is official recognition that the US has practiced torture, when those responsible are held responsible in courts of law which assure that their rights are protected, something not offered to the prisoners at Guantanamo and other US torture sites around the world and in US domestic prisons.  When the US is ready to take responsibility for these unspeakable practices, then I may be able to believe they are over.

Mahmoud Al Mujahid

Friday, April 22nd, 2011

If one has ever stretched the truth, especially when there is danger, maybe not even the danger of more torture and death but just danger of losing face, one can sympathize with Mahmoud al-Mujahid.

It appears that he told US authorities when he was first sold into US custody in Pakistan that he had been inspired by a sheik with whom he studied, I presume in his native Yemen, to go to Afghanistan to teach the Quran.  He changed his story at one of the review boards, a part of the kangaroo court system for these prisoners at Guantanamo, in November 2007.  You can read a document about that here.

In that hearing he said he had come to Afghanistan in July of 2000, though not at as he had said inspired by a sheik to teach the Quran.  He said that this misleading statement of his had been on his conscience for years.  He denied categorically, however, knowing anything whatever about the attacks on the US or indeed about any terrorist activities.

The US has alleged that he was bin Laden’s body guard, which he denies as ridiculous.  The US, for its part, presents no evidence whatever to support this allegation. or any of the allegations of Mujahid’s having “been seen” with bin Laden in various places.  You can read Andy Worthington’s account here.

These prisoners are presumed guilty and it is not considered necessary to present credible evidence against them.  This presumption of guilt leads to lies, even “white lies” such as Mahmoud made.  Adding torture to the mix means that, as the law of the US and accepted international law dictate, anything said under torture is worthless in a court of law.  Such injustice is done with US taxpayers’ money and in the name of the country.  Let us work to stop such gross injustice and to free Mahmoud al-Mujahid.

NO MORE WARS!

Thursday, March 24th, 2011

“We’ve heard this all before.  Same story, different war”

“Libya for Libyans, not for Wall Street Dividends”

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Times Square Recruiting Center

So we chanted as we held up signs and marched around in the plaza in front of the recruiting center on Times Square.  It rained, sleeted, and snowed before we left.  Do I really protest in bad weather as much as I think or do I just remember the ones in bad weather?  At least it was not raining bombs on us, as it is on people in Libya.

“Pentagon bombs fly.  People die!” was another of our chants.  The death in Libya by US bombs of children has been reported.

War is never good, war is never helpful, and US wars are never about humanitarian issues.  Libya has the most oil of any African country.

There are also the constitutional issues.  There has not been a US declared war in my entire life, though the US has been almost continually at war during my 65 years on the planet.  Presidents before Obama have at least consulted the Congress, which is the body that is supposed to declare war.  This president did not bother even with that formality

A Letter From Japan

Saturday, March 19th, 2011

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Can we really believe that these tattered buildings are protecting the world from radioactive material?

Via Jack:

Megumi Miyata, a Japanese citizen, he has sent to friends a message that has touched us. We reproduce below translated and we ask, please, spread it as Megumi says: “Please change the world”:

Dear Friends,

For all the blessings and love, for your willingness to help and pray, I feel a great gratitude to you all.

I just received a message from a friend who has information of a Japanese army officer. Said that the Fukushima nuclear plant’s nuclear reactor had begun to melt and that there is nothing you can do to prevent the explosion, all you are trying to do is simply delayed.

There are four or five times in Fukushima nuclear fuel in Chernobyl, and what makes this situation worse is that Fukushima has six reactors next to each other and the third reactor is used as MOX (mixed oxide) containing plutonium and as you know the plutonium has a very high radioactivity.

What I mean is that, please do not waste this opportunity.

True, there are many reports circulating in Japan right now, a lot of allegations and rumors. It costs a lot to figure out what is really true. The TV says one thing and see another newspaper. There are e-mails and mobile messages warning about new earthquake warning. And the electric company does not inform us of the truth in time. All this confuses and exhausts us and the worst could be that people fall into a panic.

But the fact is that the danger we are facing now is yours as well. If the explosion occurs, the radiation would spread throughout the world by sea, food, air …

The disaster at Three Mile Island in 1979, Chernobyl in 1986, humans did not learn the lessons that cost us so much. A Japanese proverb says: “After swallowing you forget that burn.” Means that when food is burning through your throat feel the pain and say no more … but after a moment we forget as if nothing had happened and took another bite that burns.

I heard there was a protest in Germany against nuclear power plants. Please follow.

If we all can not learn the lesson of this disaster will cost the planet. Please do not waste your time. If you believe that the Japanese need help, there is something we can do:

Please make a difference!

We said “No more Hiroshima and Nagasaki,” and we Japanese, the only country to have suffered atomic bombings, we are faced with this human disaster once again.

Natural disasters can not stop, but the human disaster if
we can stop. It is time. Do not you think?

With love and hope

Megumi

Last of the “Supposed Foot Soldiers” from Yemen

Wednesday, February 2nd, 2011

The last of the Yemeni “supposed foot soldiers” still held in the Guatanamo torture camp on Andy Worthington’s list is Mashur al-Sabri.   As Worthington reports, his story is replete with accusations that may not be trustworthy, coming from unidentified sources.  During his presentation in New York in January, Worthington said that it was probable that some of the unidentified allegations against prisoners were exacted under torture from other prisoners.  That would seem to make them useless as evidence and may be the reason that the US does not try these men in real courts–there is no credible evidence against them.

What does seem certain is that al-Sabri is from Yemen, went to Afghanistan in the summer of 2000 and lived in Jalalabad for a year.  He went to the Taliban lines at Bagram and Kabul.  It must be remembered that the Taliban were one group of Afghan warlords among a number of such groups and that they battled the others during many years in a conflict that had nothing to do with the US, except that the US had provided arms and funds to various groups of warlords in the country, including al Qaeda, to fight against the Russians during their occupation some decades ago.

The rest of what Worthington reports is all from unidentified sources and thus of unknown credibility.  The accusations include that al-Sabri worked for Osama bin Laden.  Worthington says these unidentified sources allege that al Sabri “was ‘believed to have sworn bayat [an oath of allegiance] to Osama din Laden,’ because he and others around him knew bin Laden’s travel dates and routes, and another ‘source’ identified him as ‘a member of al-Qaeda’ because he was ‘following Osama bin Laden’s orders to keep [a] guest house up and running.’”

David, a lawyer who has been supportive of this blog since it started, tells me that the Geneva Conventions for prisoners of war is that they would be turned over to their country at the end of hostilities.  They must, of course, also be humanely treated.  Humiliation of prisoners is prohibited by the Geneva Conventions, and, of course, torture.  They must be allowed contact with their families, and are guaranteed other rights which all the prisoners at Guantanamo have been denied.  There is not evidence that Mashur al-Sabri  ever fought against the US.  Contrary to US statements that these prisoners were “captured on the field of battle,” he was sold by bounty hunters.  He, along with most of the others still in Guantanamo, should be released immediately.

I hold Mashur al-Sabri in mind today and ask you to do that, too, and to join me in committing to work for the release of all those held unjustly by the US everywhere in the world.

An Intelligent and Eloquent Man of Integrity

Tuesday, January 25th, 2011

Intelligent, eloquent, having great integrity.  Are those words that leap to mind in the context of prisoners at the US torture camp at Guantanamo?  Here is the story of Asim Thahit Abdullah Al Khalaqi, a man whom those descriptions fit well.

David Gilson wrote in Mother Jones on July 11, 2006 about the infamous CSRT (combat status review tribunals), those one time hearings without lawyers before panels of US officers who were to determine if prisoners really were “enemy combatants” that undefined term that the Bush regime lawyers made up though it is not recognized in either US or international law, to deny people protections under the Geneva Conventions, and imprison and torture them.

The prisoners could respond directly to the accusations made against them in these hearings, though they had no access to lawyers and could not even examine government claims which were often secret.  The US Supreme Court later ruled that these tribunals violated US law and the Geneva Conventions, which was a major step in getting legal counsel and some legal protections for these prisoners.

Gilson researched the CSRT transcripts which were released under the Freedom of Information Act and found this exchange between Asim Al Khalaqi and the tribunal:

Al Khalaqi: Are these evidence or accusations?

Tribunal President: They are in the form of both….

Al Khalaqi: I’m sorry, I just don’t understand. How does it fit the two pictures or definitions? For example, if I say this table is the chair and the chair is the table and they are the same thing, does that make sense?

Tribunal President: No, that doesn’t make sense. But this process makes sense to me and hopefully it will make sense to you, because you’re the one who’s going to have to provide us with evidence and tell us that you did or did not do these things as listed on the summary of evidence.

Al Khalaqi: So I just answer the accusations. But I’m going to call it accusations. I’m not going to call it evidence.

Tribunal President: Very well, you can call it as you wish.

After years of torture and abuse, Al Khalaqi still had the personal integrity and courage to make a dignified statement of a logical point of great importance.  Though real evidence in these cases has never been forthcoming, it appears that Al Khalaqi was a missionary from Yemen who went to work in Pakistan and then in Afghanistan.  It is known that there were many such.  He was picked up at the Pakistan border after the US invasion and turned over to the US, as so many were.

Ultimately, Al Kalaqi was cleared by a real court for release under the Bush regime, but Obama has refused to release him along with many other prisoners from Yemen.

Failing to execute a court order is a serious offence.   Being a missionary is not.  Al Khalaqi, who was cleared by a court for release remains in prison.  Obama is still in the White House.  Bush and others of his regime who were responsible for these abuses originally are free.

Ann Wright Reports on Afghanistan

Sunday, January 23rd, 2011

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Ann Wright working to close Guantanamo

“The change that I noticed and that was talked about the most by Afghans was the huge increase in U.S. military bases—now over 400. We saw the construction of a huge base just north of Kabul. The high wall on the front side of it stretches over two miles and encloses a large training area. In the shadow of the wall, just across the road in an internal displacement camp, are tens of thousands of Afghans who have fled the fighting in the South and East of the country. They are living in abject misery in small dirt hovels, with no water or sewage and only a few sticks of wood each day to cook a tiny meal. Yet across the road are hundreds of millions—if not billions—of dollars spent on infrastructure for military training and operations. Villas built with the huge profits from the multi-million dollar U.S. logistics contracts to support our military presence are rented back to the international community contractors and non-governmental agencies for $10,000 to $15,000 per month. Yet most Afghans live in poverty.”

This was reported by Ann Wright the former Department of State officer who opened the US embassy in Kabul which had been closed for a decade after the invasion by the US.  Also a retired Colonel in the US Army, Ann was one of three State Department officers who resigned in protest of the illegal US invasion of Iraq.  She has worked since to stop US aggression, torture, and injustice.  I met her at Camp Casey, of which she was Commander and which would really not have existed without her organizational skills and commitment.

In this interview with the Maui Times upon her return from a fact finding tour of Afghanistan, Ann also reported that a US embassy even larger than the gigantic one in Baghdad, Iraq, is also under construction.

She also reported that many Afghans with whom she spoke said “They believe that as long as the U.S. military is in Afghanistan there will be many who will fight against the U.S.—just as they did against the Soviet soldiers—and will destroy the schools, clinics and roads that the United States has built.”

Ann continued:

“No matter what our political leaders tell us about the rationale for the U.S. involvement in Afghanistan, the United States is the latest invader and occupier [in a historic string of them]. Most Afghans in the countryside haven’t even heard of the events of September 11 or al-Qaeda training bases. What they see is another foreign military force in their country killing Afghans.”

You can read the full interview here.

Why is the US still there?  Why do we allow this regime, like its predecessor to continue to spend trillions of dollars of our money on this occupation?  When are we going to demand an end?

Read more about Ann here and here and here.