Category Archives: Activism

Mission Accomplished: Why Solidarity Boats to Gaza Succeed Despite Failing to Break the Siege

When Mike Treen, the National Director of the ‘Unite Union’ in New Zealand arrived at the airport in the capital, Auckland, on August 1, a group of people were anxiously waiting for him at the terminal with Palestinian flags and flowers. They hugged him, chanted for Palestinian freedom and performed the customary native Haka dance.

For them, Mike, as all of those who set sail aboard the Freedom Flotilla to Gaza last July, were heroes.

But the truth is Mike Treen and his comrades were not the only heroes for braving the sea with the aim of breaking the hermetic Israeli military blockade on the impoverished and isolated Gaza Strip. Without those who were present at the Auckland airport, upon Mike’s arrival, and without the thousands of supporters all across the world who have mobilized as a community – held numerous meetings, raised funds, created a powerful media discourse, and so on – Treen’s attempted trip to Gaza would not have been possible in the first place.

The first boats to successfully break the Gaza siege, in October, 2008 were the ‘Free Gaza’ and the ‘Liberty’. They carried 44 people from 17 countries. The activists wanted to push their countries to acknowledge the illegality of the Israeli blockade on Gaza and to, eventually, challenge the siege.

Their triumphant arrival in Gaza ten years ago, marked a historic moment for the international solidarity movement, a moment, perhaps, unparalleled. Since then, Israel has launched several massive and deadly wars on Gaza. The first war took place merely weeks after the arrival of the first boats, followed by another war in 2012 and, the deadliest of them all, in 2014. The siege grew tighter.

Also, since then, many attempts have been made at breaking the siege. Between 2008 and 2016, 31 boats have sailed to Gaza from many destination, all intercepted, their cargo seized and their passengers mistreated. The most tragic of these incidents was in May 2010 when the Israeli navy attacked the ‘Mavi Marmara’ ship – which sailed alongside other boats – killing 10 activists and wounding many more.

Even then, the stream of solidarity boats continued to arrive, not only unhindered by the fear of Israeli retribution, but also stronger in their resolve. Palestinians consider the killed activists as ‘martyrs’ to be added to their own growing list of martyrs.

However, none of the boats made it to Gaza; so why keep on trying?

Last May, I arrived in New Zealand as part of a book tour that took me to other countries as well. However, in New Zealand, a relatively small Pacific island with a population that does not exceed five million people, the solidarity with Palestine was exceptional.

I asked about the strong Palestine solidarity work in New Zealand, inquiring with the coordinator for ‘Kia Ora Gaza’, Roger Fowler, who, at the time, was busy with final preparations for the Freedom Flotilla.

In New Zealand, he said, “for many years support for the Palestinian struggle lingered, often perceived as being too distant, and falsely portrayed as being ‘too complicated’. But the global outrage at Israel’s murderous attack on the ‘Mavi Marmara’-led humanitarian flotilla to Gaza in 2010 was a major turning-point that changed all that.”

Fowler, himself, along with other New Zealand activists joined the ‘Lifeline to Gaza’ convoy soon after the attack on the ‘Mavi Marmara’, reaching Gaza with three ambulances, packed with badly needed medicine, as the Israeli siege also deprived the Strip of hospital equipment and urgently needed medicine. Coordinating all of this was not a simple task as it also needed to be streamlined with the global efforts for the convoy, which included the dispatching of 140 other ambulances and 300 activists arriving from 30 countries.

“There were many moving scenes as Palestinians learned how far we had come from to offer solidarity – their Israel overlords had told the Palestinians for years that nobody cared about them, which is a big line,” Fowler told me.

I also spoke with Mike Treen upon his return from his Gaza sea journey. Treen is a seasoned activist, who works daily at defending the rights of workers from across the country. He sees his struggle for workers’ rights in New Zealand as part and parcel of his global solidarity outlook as well.

“In my role as part of the union movement in this country, I was also able to explain (to New Zealanders) that innocent working people (in Gaza) are the victims of this siege and that Israel has driven unemployment to over 50% for working people – one of the highest rates in the world,” he told me.

Treen, just like Fowler, understands that the boat solidarity is not merely an issue of providing urgently needed supplies, but as a well-coordinated effort at exposing the evils of the Israeli blockade.

“Unless Israel is directly bombing Gaza, the siege and its hideous human implications simply drop off the radar of public consciousness,” he said.

And this is precisely the real mission of the Gaza flotillas: While Israel wants to normalize the Gaza siege as it is currently normalizing its Occupation and Apartheid regimes, the solidarity movement has created a counter discourse that constantly foils Israeli plans.

In other words, whether the boats arrive on the Gaza coast or are hijacked by the Israeli navy, it makes little difference.

The power and effectiveness of this kind of solidarity goes even beyond Gaza and Palestine. “Our involvement in international solidarity endeavors, such as the Freedom Flotillas has, in turn, sparked a resurgence in other important elements of building the strength of the world-wide movement for justice”, Fowler told me, soon after Treen’s return to New Zealand.

Mike Treen also has his work cut out for him as he is now busy engaging the media and various communities in his own country, sharing his experiences on the boat, which led to his arrest, beating, tasering and deportation.

And like the horrific Apartheid regime in South Africa, the Israeli Apartheid will collapse, too, because Palestinians continue to resist and because millions of people, like Mike and Roger, are standing by their side.

Our Opponents’ Actions Show We’re Winning

The People United Will Never Be Defeated from the Free Farm

When in the midst of mass social transformation, it is often hard to see progress until you have the benefit of looking back after success has been achieved. One way we measure success is by recognizing the growing popular movements across multiple fronts of struggle. Another way is by observing the actions of our opponents.

Just as movements organize and develop a strategy to build power, our opponents do the same to weaken popular power. Classic signs that a movement is getting closer to achieving victories are when our opponents try to co-opt the movement, mislead the movement, adopt the language of the movement and position themselves to claim they always supported the goals of the movement, called “victorious retreat.”

In our sixth class on How Social Transformation Occurs, we examine the obstacles that movements confront in achieving social change. One of the tasks of the movement in this stage is to achieve national consensus and overcome the obstacles of the power holders.

Co-Option Can Be Turned To The Movement’s Advantage

New resistance movements have emerged since the Occupy Movement rose up in 2011, including the Fight for 15, Black Lives Matter and Idle No More, to name a few examples of many. Popular Resistance grew out of the Occupy Movement as a vehicle to report on, monitor and help grow the resistance movement.

With the election of Donald Trump, a new “resistance” developed. One example is Indivisible, the activist group rooted in the Democratic Party, which was organized by former Democratic staffers. In May 2017, the biggest Democratic “resister” of them all announced her plans, as reported by CNN, “Hillary Clinton officially announced Monday her post-2016 election plans: A political organization aimed at funding “resistance” groups that are standing up to President Donald Trump.” It is called “Onward Together.”

Clinton lost the presidency because she was an establishment candidate running in an anti-establishment electoral year. The Clinton Foundation was a foundation funded by millionaires and billionaires as well as big business and trans-national corporations. She epitomizes what people are organizing against, yet now she calls herself a leader of the resistance.

It is sadly amusing but ironically makes the point that the resistance is winning. We have grown since 2011 to the point that establishment-elites want to claim to be part of the resistance.  Our job is to let those who joined groups like Indivisible and Onward Together know there is a genuine resistance that Democrats are emulating, which stands for true transformation and rejects the policies of Hillary Clinton and the economic and political elites she and both Wall Street parties represent.

Photo from Education Votes

Stealing Our Language, Another Sign That Victory Is Close

On multiple issues, those in the power structure of elected officials and their think tanks are stealing the language of the movement.

One example is the campaign for National Improved Medicare for All (NIMA). We use that specific language because every word describing it matters. Those who want to protect the status quo use the word “Medicare” to describe fake solutions that do not achieve the real goal. The Center for American Progress, the top Democratic Party think tank that is funded in part by the insurance industry and healthcare profiteers, has put forward “Medicare Extra for All.” This is not NIMA but a public option using the popular word Medicare to fool people. Another fake Democratic plan is a “Medicare Buy-In” or plans that would lower the age for Medicare. These are all false solutions.

Democrats are pushing NIMA-sounding like approaches because 85% of Democratic party voters support a national single-payer system based on improved Medicare. Republicans and businesses are also moving in this direction. If the movement does its job well, by the early 2020s there will be a national consensus across political affiliations and ideologies in support of the solution to the US healthcare crisis, National Improved Medicare for All. Learn more about this at HealthOverProfit.org.

Healthcare is one example. This week, the people of Missouri rejected another false policy put forward by big business in a disguise called “Right to Work.” By a landslide vote, the people of Missouri rejected a right to work voter initiative, which would have eroded workers’ rights to collective bargaining.

This vote comes at a time when the nation needs a national renaissance of worker power. It is time for unions to remake themselves after 80 years of decline. Unions need to become democratic in structure rather than hierarchical. Unions need to do two things to recover from decades of setbacks: (1) break from the Democratic Party and build independent political power, and (2) they need to represent all workers and communities, not just members of their union.  The recent teachers’ strikes which occurred in multiple states showed teachers going beyond the limits set by unions. UPS, where workers voted 92% for what would be the largest strike in US history, is in the throes of debating a new contract, which Teamsters for a Democratic Union believes sells out UPS workers.

Another example is the constant killings of black and brown people by police across the country. National consensus is developing against this brutality thanks to Black Lives Matter and others, as can the ‘take a knee‘ protests in the NFL. Despite pressure from President Trump and team owners, players are continuing to take action against racist policing by patriotically taking a knee during the singing of the national anthem.

Police violence against black and brown people is a long-term problem, going back decades.  In the era of Bill Clinton, the phony solution of community policing was put forward.  It is phony because it failed to give power to the community to reject police who have demonstrated racism and violence. What is needed is community-control of police and community-based solutions to crime and violence. When the people are in control, then the police will do what they should be doing, and some claim to be doing (and some officers actually try to do in a system that does not work) — serve the community.

From Medium ‘How to Build a Movement of Movements.’

Unity, Solidarity and a Movement of Movements Are Keys to Success

The most powerful tactic of the opposition is to divide the movement. The corporate-CIA group, Stratfor, most clearly described this strategy. They divide activists into four types of people: “radicals, idealists, realists, and opportunists.” Their strategy to defeat social movements is to isolate the radicals, offer the opportunists money and access to elected officials, convince the realists to compromise on a non-solution and push idealists to see their ideal cannot be achieved and accept something that looks like a step toward the ideal. The key group is the radicals, who focus on the root of the problem, push necessary transformational solutions and refuse to compromise. Movements need to make a place for radicals and listen to their views so as not to be taken off track.

The problem is that the current system does not work for people but is designed to work for the economic elites. There may be good people in the system, trying to do the right thing, but they cannot overcome the system by working from the inside.

The movement must work to pull people from inside the system into the movement. A police officer’s family needs National Improved Medicare for All.  A black police officer’s son will face racism from police officials just like any other black youth. Youth face outrageous tuition, school debt and wages too low to live on. Business owners know their employees would benefit from health care for all and that they can’t compete with businesses in nations that have national healthcare programs. People in the media see the misleading reporting they are required to produce to advance in their careers and know this is not why they wanted to become a journalist. There are people in every segment of the power structure that see the problems and want to help put in place solutions.

Drawing people to the movement is one of the tactics in building national consensus and a movement that represents all the people while weakening the power structure. We need to develop strategies to keep movements unified, bring people into the movement and connect our different fronts of struggle to build a movement of movements.

We have written about how the next decade provides an opportunity for tremendous social transformation that puts in place progressive policies to meet the necessities of the people and protection of the planet. The people in power also see that change is coming, movements are growing and the status quo is unable to deal with multiple crisis situations that cannot be ignored.

Transformation is on the horizon if we remain clear in our vision for economic, racial and environmental justice, pull people to the movement from the power structure and undermine the tactics of those trying to co-opt, mislead and divide.

Together, we can create transformational change. We are closer than we realize.

Answering “What Should I Do?” Is Easier When You Know The Roles Of Social Movements

People have the power protest inside Ferguson City Hall protest October 13, 2014

The United States is going in the wrong direction on a wide range of social, economic and foreign policy issues and people are justifiably upset and angry. One question we are regularly asked is: “What should I do?” In our last two newsletters, we examined the stages of successful social movements to show how movements can progress toward victories. This week, we attempt to answer the question by describing the fifth class of the Popular Resistance School, “The Roles of Individuals and Movements” and how to be effective at them.

There are many necessary roles in the popular movement at this time, which means there is something for everyone to do. We are at a critical moment when the fifteen core issues of the movement for economic, racial and environmental justice as well as peace are in crisis and people are organizing to solve them.

As we wrote in 2011, during the preparations to occupy Freedom Plaza in Washington, DC, on a broad range of issues from taxing the rich to getting money out of politics to strengthening the social safety net and more, there is already majority support. In 2014, Josh Sager demonstrated that while in electoral politics the US appears to be center-right (and shifting ever rightward), the people’s positions are center-left. National consensus for solutions to the crises is growing despite the lack of commercial media coverage.

The necessary ingredients for winning major social changes – national consensus on issues and a mobilized ‘movement of movements’ – are developing, but these ingredients merely create the conditions for change. To realize those changes, we need to understand what the various roles are that people need to take on and how to be effective in those roles by avoiding the pitfalls that could undermine our work toward the society we desire to create.

There are four basic roles in a movement and each one is needed. Some people can play more than one role or can move from one to another and some will be most comfortable focusing on one role.  The prominence of each role changes throughout the development of a successful social movement, as the tasks of each stage, differ. People often gravitate toward one role and that can be seen early in life in the way they respond to challenges. Review this list and consider which roles resonate with you.

  1. The Advocate or Reformer: The advocate is most drawn to working with those in authority to create change, perhaps through educating legislators, writing policy or using the courts. The movement role played by the advocate is to translate the demands of the people’s movement for the power structure and to act as a watchdog for the movement.
  2. The Organizer or Change Agent:  The organizer works to bring people together to solve problems, especially in a way that is empowering such as using horizontal, democratic processes for making decisions. The movement role played by the organizer is to grow the movement and to facilitate coordinated strategic activities.
  3. The Helper or Citizen: The helper is typically a more mainstream person who is drawn to providing direct aid to solve problems.  If a neighbor can’t shovel the snow off their sidewalk, the helper will do it. The role that the helper plays in the movement is to show that there is widespread support for the aims of the movement and to bring greater legitimacy to the movement.
  4. The Rebel: The rebel is one who is most likely to make a lot of noise about an injustice. When something bad happens, the rebel wants everyone to know and will confront the power holders about it. The role that the rebel plays is to highlight injustice and to take direct action in order to create the tension required for changes to occur.

To be effective, the roles need to be handled in ways that achieve the grand strategy of the movement; i.e. (1) To grow the movement by pulling people toward it, especially people in the power structure; (2) To create unity in the movement so solidarity is strengthened and people work together for common objectives; and, (3) To deepen our understanding of the issues and the solutions to injustices and crisis situations that are needed.

Each of these roles can be played in ways that achieve these strategies or, if done poorly, can undermine the movement. For example, an effective advocate will be accountable to the people in the movement and will represent their views, while an ineffective advocate may start to ally more with the power holders than with the people and might try to convince the movement to compromise in ways that violate their fundamental goals.

An organizer will ideally provide the tools and support that empower people to be creative and to make decisions and take actions that are strategic, while an ineffective organizer will behave in a way that is hierarchical, ordering people to take action and excluding diverse views instead of building consensus for the action. The heads of some non-governmental organizations may come to believe they are the movement, rather than recognizing their power comes from the movement.

The rebel can create conflicts with police or others that repel people and push them away from the movement. Using overly strident tactics can actually empower the police or those in power to crack down on the movement. Done well, the rebel shows courage that becomes contagious. We discussed this and more with George Lakey, an activist who has been involved in many social movements and has trained many activists, on the Clearing the FOG podcast, available here on Mondays.

In particular, Lakey admonishes people to avoid being drawn into conflict by right-wing white supremacists because this will legitimize state suppression of the movement and repel people who are unpersuaded from the movement. There will be a white supremacist rally in front of the White House in Washington, DC on August 12. In response, a coalition of organizations from DC and surrounding states are organizing a celebration of diversity in Freedom Plaza from noon to 5:00 pm. It is our hope that this effort will show support for the movement’s goals without being confrontational in a counterproductive way.

We Must Work Together and Use Conflict To Become Stronger

Successful movements are diverse in many ways, including the roles that different people and organizations play. Sometimes people will fail to recognize the value of people who play roles different from theirs in the movement and may, as a result, weaken the movement by attacking allies. A rebel may view an advocate as too supportive of the power structure. An advocate may view a rebel as too radical.

If the people and organizations that play different roles within the movement develop trust and a collaborative relationship, then there will be space to discuss whether the advocate is getting too close to the power holders or the rebel’s actions might be isolating rather than drawing people into the movement. Without that collaboration, the movement may weaken itself through discord.

That said, even the best collaborations will encounter internal conflict. Lakey describes how conflict can be constructive for a movement rather than destructive. Conflict may take a movement that is stagnating and bring it to a deeper level of collaboration. It can bring new energy to the movement when simmering concerns are aired and resolved. Lakey writes:

People who face strategic hard choices are more likely to come up with creative and wise next moves when the four roles fight it out — fighting fairly while acknowledging differences. The research is clear: Over time, diversity actually does produce the best outcomes. Or at least diversity works when everyone agrees on the bottom line: The role the group plays in the larger movement.

The most successful tactic of those in power is to divide a movement. So it is essential for a movement to find ways to confront conflict in a constructive way that builds unity rather than sowing division.

A current example of this is the coalition of peace and justice movements that are organizing to oppose President Trump’s military parade in Washington, DC in November, which happens to be the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day (changed to Veteran’s Day in 1954). A number of different groups were organizing responses to the parade. In February, those groups came together to organize in a collaborative way that has space for a variety of actions under a common theme of divesting from war and investing in peace. The website is NoTrumpMilitaryParade.us. You can sign on as an organization or an individual there.

The coalition has written a statement and is asking other organizations to sign on in support. The statement acknowledges the many ways that militarism causes harm at home and abroad. At home, militarism normalizes violence, which results in violence in our communities. Spending on the Pentagon is consuming an increasing proportion of our federal discretionary budget, now almost two-thirds, when those dollars are needed for housing, education, health care, jobs and more. The military is the biggest polluter and user of fossil fuels in the world, contributing to environmental destruction and climate change. All organizations who agree with the statement are invited to sign on. This will be published on August 8, but sign-ons will continue after that. Read the statement and sign-on here.

When we create a movement of movements, which is essential for ultimate victory, we are bringing diverse people and organizations into a coalition together. A coalition adds strength to the movement as people united by a common goal emphasize communication and coordination while respecting each other. Coalitions allow organizations and individuals to participate in ways that are consistent with their unique strengths.

Understanding the roles of individuals and different organizations in a movement is a key to building a successful social movement. One organization or network of individuals cannot do everything. One individual cannot play every role. Organizations and individuals supporting each other, developing strategy and tactics together after listening to different views, create unity. Solidarity of vision and purpose is what creates a powerful movement.

To answer the question, “What do I do?”: Find your role and find your issue, then get involved either locally or at the state, national or international level. If you are already involved, then understanding how the roles contribute to the goals of the movement may make your work more effective. And whatever you do, know that you are part of a growing movement of movements that has the power to create transformational change.

Important Update on the Zionist Storming of the Gaza Freedom Flotilla, Al Awda, by Doctor on Board

Events from 29 July when the Israeli Navy stormed the Freedom Flotilla al-Awda hijacked and diverted it from its intended course to Gaza to Israel.

*****

The last leg of the journey of al-Awda (the boat of return) was scheduled to reach Gaza on 29 July 2018. We were on target to reach Gaza that evening. There are 22 on board including crew with US $15,000 of antibiotics and bandages for Gaza. At 12.31 pm we received a missed call from a number beginning with +81… Mikkel was steering the boat at that time. The phone rang again with the message that we were trespassing into Israeli waters. Mikkel replied that we were in International waters and had right of innocent passage according to maritime laws. The accusation of trespassing was repeated again and again with Mikkel repeating the message that we were sailing in international waters. This carried on for about half an hour, while Awda was 42 nautical miles from the coast of Gaza.

Prior to the beginning of this last leg, we had spent two days learning non-violent actions and had prepared ourselves in anticipation of an Israeli invasion of our boat. Vulnerable individuals, especially those with medical conditions, were to sit at the rear of the top deck with their hands on the deck table. The leader of this group was Gerd, a 75 year old elite Norwegian athlete and she had the help of Lucia a Spanish nurse in her group.

The people who were to provide a non-violent barrier to the Israelis coming on deck and taking over the boat formed 3 rows – two rows of threes and the third row of two persons blocking the wheel house door to protect the wheel house for as long as possible. There were runners between the wheel house and the rear of the deck. The leader of the boat Zohar and I were at the two ends of the toilets’ corridor where we looked out at the horizon and informed all of any sightings of armed boats. I laughed at Zohar and said we are the Toilet Brigade, but I think Zohar did not find it very funny. It was probably bad taste under the circumstances. I also would be able to help as a runner and would have accessibility to all parts of the deck in view of being the doctor on board.

Soon we saw at least three large Israeli warships on the horizon with 5 or more speed boats (zodiacs) zooming towards us. As the Zodiacs approached I saw that they carried soldiers with machine guns and there was on board the boats large machine guns mounted on a stand pointing at our boat. From my lookout point the first Israeli soldier climbed on board to the cabin level and climbed up the boat ladder to the top deck. His face was masked with a white cloth and following him were many others, all masked. They were all armed with machine guns and small cameras on their chests.

They immediately made to the wheel house overcoming the first row by twisting the arms of the participants, lifting Sarah up and throwing her away.  Joergen, the chef, was large to be manhandled so he was tasered before being lifted up. They attacked the second row by picking on Emelia the Spanish nurse and removed her thus breaking the line. They then approached the door of the wheel house and tasered Charlie the first mate and Mike Treen who were obstructing their entry to the wheel house. Charlie was beaten up as well. Mike did not give way with being tasered in his lower limbs so he was tasered in his neck and face. Later on I saw bleeding on the left side of Mike’s face. He was semi-conscious when I examined him.

They broke into the wheel house by cutting the lock, forced the engine to be switched off and took down the Palestine flag before taking down the Norwegian flag and trampling on it.

They then cleared all people from the front half of the boat around the wheel house and moved them by force and coercion, throwing them to the rear of the deck. All were forced to sit on the floor at the back, except Gerd, Lucy and the vulnerable people who were seated around the table on wooden benches around her. Israeli soldiers then formed a line sealing off people from the back and preventing them from coming to the front of the boat again.

As we entered the back of the deck we were all body searched and ordered to surrender our mobile phones or else they will take it by force. This part of search and confiscation was under the command of a woman soldier. Apart from mobile phones, medicines and wallets were also removed. No one as of today (4 August 2018) got our mobile phones back.

I went to examine Mike and Charlie. Charlie had recovered consciousness and his wrists were tied together with plastic cable ties. Mike was bleeding from the side of his face, still not fully conscious. His hands were very tightly tied together with cable ties and the circulation to his fingers was cut off and his fingers and palm were beginning to swell. At this stage the entire people seated on the floor shouted demanding that the cable ties be cut. It was about half an hour later before the ties were finally cut off from both of them.

Around this time Charlie, the first mate, received the Norwegian flag. He was visibly upset telling all of us that the Norwegian flag had been trampled on. Charlie reacted more to the trampling of the Norwegian flag than to his being beaten and tasered.

The soldiers then started asking for the captain of the boat. The boys then started to reply that they were all the captain. Eventually the Israelis figured out that Herman was the captain and demanded to take him to the wheel house. Herman asked for someone to come with him, and I offered to do so. But as we approached the wheel house, I was pushed away and Herman forced into the wheel house on his own. Divina, the well known Swedish singer, had meanwhile broken free from the back and went to the front to look through the window of the wheel house. She started to shout and cry “Stop! Stop! They are beating Herman. They are hurting him”.  We could not see what Divina saw, but knew that it was something very disturbing. Later on, when Divina and I were sharing a prison cell, she told me they were throwing Herman against the wall of the wheel house and punching his chest. Divina was forcibly removed and her neck was twisted by the soldiers who took her back to the rear of the deck.

I was pushed back to the rear of the boat again. After a while the boat engine started. I was told later by Gerd who was able to hear Herman tell the story to the Norwegian Consul in prison that the Israelis wanted Herman to start the engine, and threatened to kill him if he would not do so. But what they did not understand was that with this boat, once the engine stopped it can only be restarted manually in the engine room in the cabin level below. Arne, the engineer, refused to restart the engine, so the Israelis brought Herman down and hit him in front of Arne making it clear that they will continue to hit Herman if Arne would not start the engine. Arne is 70 years old, and when he saw Herman’s face go ash colour, he gave in and started the engine manually. Gerd broke into tears when she was narrating this part of the story. The Israelis then took charge of the boat and drove it to Ashdod.

Once the boat was on course, the Israeli soldiers brought Herman to the medical desk. I looked at Herman and saw that he was in great pain, silent but conscious, breathing spontaneously but shallow breathing. The Israeli Army doctor was trying to persuade Herman to take some medicine for pain. Herman was refusing the medicine. The Israeli doctor explained to me that what he was offering Herman was not army medicine but his personal medicine. He gave me the medicine from his hand so that I could check it. It was a small brown glass bottle and I figured that it was some kind of liquid morphine preparation probably the equivalent of oromorph or fentanyl. I asked Herman to take it and the doctor asked him to take 12 drops after which Herman was carried off and slumped on a mattress at the back of the deck. He was watched over by people around him and fell asleep. From my station I saw he was breathing better.

With Herman settled I concentrated on Larry Commodore, the Native American leader and an environmental activist. He had been voted Chief of his tribe twice. Larry has labile asthma and with the stress all around my fear was that he might get a nasty attack, and needed adrenaline injection. I was taking Larry through deep breathing exercises. However, Larry was not heading for an asthmatic attack, but was engaging an Israeli who covered his face with a black cloth in conversation. This man was obviously in charge.

I asked the Israeli man with black mask his name and he called himself Field Marshall Ro…..Larry misheard him and jumped to conclusion that he called himself Field Marshall Rommel and shouted how can he an Israeli take a Nazi name. Field Marshall objected and introduced himself as Field Marshall ? Ronan. As I spelt out Ronan he quickly corrected me that his name is Ronen, and he Field Marshall Ronen was in charge.

The Israeli soldiers all wore body cameras and were filming us all the time. A box of sandwiches and pears were brought on deck for us. None of us took any of their food as we had decided we do not accept Israeli hypocrisy and charity. Our chef Joergen had already prepared high calorie high protein delicious brownies with nuts and chocolate, wrapped up in tin foil to be consumed when captured, as we know it was going to be a long day and night. Joergen called it food for the journey. Unfortunately when I needed it most, the Israelis took away my food and threw it away. They just told me ”It is forbidden” I had nothing to eat for 24 hours, refusing Israeli Army food and had no food of my own.

As we sailed towards Israel we could see the coast of Gaza in total darkness. There were 3 oil /gas rigs in the northern sea of Gaza. The brightly burning oil flames contrasted with the total darkness the owners of the fuel were forced to live in. Just off the shore of Gaza are the largest deposit of natural gas ever discovered and the natural gas belonging to the Palestinians were already being siphoned off by Israel.

As we approached Israel, Zohar, our boat leader, suggested that we should start saying goodbye to each other. We were probably 2-3 hours from Ashdod. We thanked our boat leader, our Captain, the crew, our dear chef, and encouraged each other that we will continue to do all we can to free Gaza and also bring justice to Palestine. Herman, our Captain, who managed to sit up now, gave a most moving talk and some of us were in tears.

We knew that in Ashdod there would be the Israeli media and film crews. We will not enter Ashdod as a people who had lost hope as we were taken captive. So we came off the boat chanting “Free Free Palestine” all the way as we came off. Mike Treen, the union man, had by then recovered from his heavy tasering and led the chanting with his mega-voice and we filled the night sky of Israel with Free Free Palestine as we approached. We did this the whole way down the boat into Ashdod.

We came directly into a closed military zone in Ashdod. It was a sealed off area with many stations. It was specially prepared for the 22 of us. It began with a security x-ray area. I did not realise they retained my money belt as I came out of the x-ray station. The next station was strip search, and it was when I was gathering up my belongings after being stripped that I realised my money belt was no longer with me. I knew I had about a couple hundred Euros and they were trying to steal it. I demanded its return and refused to leave the station until it was produced. I was shouting for the first time. I was glad I did that as some other people were parted from their cash. The journalist from Al Jazeera Abdul had all his credit cards and USD 1,800 taken from him, as well as his watch, satellite phone, his personal mobile, his ID. He thought his possessions were kept with his passport but when he was released for deportation he learnt bitterly that he only got his passport back. All cash and valuables were never found. They simply vanished.

We were passed from station to station in this closed military zone, stripped searched several times, possessions taken away until in the end all we had was the clothes we were wearing with nothing else except a wrist band with a number on it.  All shoe laces were removed as well. Some of us were given receipts for items taken away, but I had no receipts for anything. We were photographed several times and saw two doctors. At this point I learnt that Larry was pushed down the gangway and injured his foot and sent off to Israeli hospital for check-up. His blood was on the floor.

I was cold and hungry, wearing only one tee-shirt and pants by the time they were through with me. My food was taken away; water was taken away, all belongings including reading glasses taken away. My bladder was about to explode but I was not allowed to go to the toilet. In this state I was brought out to two vehicles – Black Maria painted gray. On the ground next to it were a great heap of ruqsacks and suit cases. I found mine and was horrified that they had broken into my baggage and took almost everything from it – all clothes clean and dirty, my camera, my second mobile, my books, my Bible, all the medicines I brought for the participants and myself, my toiletries. The suitcase was partially broken. My ruqsack was completely empty too. I got back two empty cases except for two dirty large man size tee-shirts which obviously belonged to someone else. They also left my Freedom Flotilla tee-shirt. I figured out that they did not steal the Flotilla tee-shirt as they thought no Israeli would want to wear that tee-shirt in Israel. They had not met Zohar and Yonatan who were proudly wearing theirs. That was a shock as I was not expecting the Israeli Army to be petty thieves as well. So what had become of the glorious Israeli Army of the Six Day War which the world so admired?

I was still not allowed to go to the toilet, but was pushed into the Maria van, joined by Lucia the Spanish nurse and after some wait taken to Givon Prison. I could feel myself shivering uncontrollably on the journey.

The first thing our guards did in Givon Prison was to order me to go to the toilet to relieve myself. It was interesting to see that they knew I needed to go desperately but had prevented me for hours to! By the time we were re-x-rayed and searched again it must be about 5 – 6 am. Lucia and I were then put in a cell where Gerd, Divina, Sarah and Emelia were already asleep. There were three double decker bunk beds – all rusty and dusty.

Divina did not get the proper dose of her medicines; Lucia was refused her own medicine and given an Israeli substitute which she refused to take. Divina and Emelia went straight on to hunger strike. The jailors were very hostile using simple things like refusal of toilet paper and constant slamming of the prison iron door, keeping the light of the cell permanently on, and forcing us to drink rusty water from the tap, screaming and shouting at us constantly to vent their anger at us.

The guards addressed me as “China” and treated me with utter contempt. On the morning of 30 July 2018, the British Vice Consul visited me. Some kind person had called them about my whereabouts. That was a blessing as after that I was called “England” and there was a massive improvement in the way England was treated compared to the way China was treated. It crossed my mind that “Palestine” would be trampled over, and probably killed.

At 6.30 am 31 July 2018, we heard Larry yelling from the men’s cell across the corridor that he needed a doctor. He was obviously in great pain and crying. We women responded by asking the wardens to allow me to go across to see Larry as I might be able to help. We shouted “We have a doctor” and used our metal spoons to hit the iron cell gate to get their attention. They lied and said their doctor would be over in an hour. We did not believe them and started again. The doctor actually turned up at 4 pm, about 10 hours later and Larry was sent straight to hospital.

Meanwhile to punish the women for supporting Larry’s demand, they brought hand cuffs for Sarah and took Divina and me to another cell to separate us from the rest. We were told we were not going to be allowed out for our 30 minutes fresh air break and a drink of clean water in the yard. I heard Gerd saying “Big deal”.

Suddenly Divina was taken out with me to the courtyard and Divina given 4 cigarettes at which point she broke down and cried. Divina had worked long hours at the wheel house steering the boat. She had seen what happened to Herman. The prison had refused to give her one of her medicines and given her only half the dose of the other. She was still on hunger strike to protest our kidnapping in international waters. It was heart-breaking to see Divina cry. One of the wardens who called himself Michael started talking to us about how he will have to protect his family against those who want to drive the Israelis out. And how the Palestinians did not want to live in peace…and it was not Israel’s fault. But things suddenly changed with the arrival of an Israeli Judge and we were all treated with some decency even though he only saw a few of us personally. His job was to tell us that a Tribunal will be convened the following day and each prisoner had been allocated a time to appear, and we must have our lawyer with us when we appear.

Divina by the end of the day became very giddy and very unwell so I persuaded her to come out of hunger strike, and also she agreed to sign a deportation order. Shortly after that possibly at 6 pm since we had no watches and mobile phones, we were told Lucia, Joergen, Herman, Arne, Abdul from Al Jazeera and I would be deported within 24 hours and we would be taken to be imprisoned in the deportation prison in Ramle near Ben Gurion airport immediately to wait there. It was going to be the same Ramle Prison from which I was deported in 2014. I saw the same five strong old palm trees still standing up proud and tall. They are the only survivors of the Palestinian village destroyed in 1948.

When we arrived at Ramle prison Abdul found to his horror that he his money, his credit cards, his watch, his satellite phone, his own mobile phone, his ID card were all missing – he was entirely destitute. We had a whip round and raised around a hundred Euros as a contribution towards his taxi fare from the airport to home. How can the Israeli Army be so corrupt and heartless to rob someone of everything?

Conclusion

We, the six women on board al-Awda, had learnt that they tried to completely humiliate and dehumanise us in every way possible. We were also shocked at the behaviour of the Israeli Army especially petty theft and their treatment of international women prisoners. Men jailors regularly entered the women’s cell without giving us decent notice to put our clothes on.

They also tried to remind us of our vulnerability at every stage. We know they would have preferred to kill us but, of course, the publicity incurred in so doing might be unfavourable to the international image of Israel.

If we were Palestinians it would be much worse with physical assaults and probably loss of lives. The situation is therefore dire for the Palestinians.

As to international waters, it looks as though there is no such thing for the Israeli Navy. They can hijack and abduct boats and persons in international water and get away with it. They acted as though they own the Mediterranean Sea. They can abduct any boat and kidnap any passengers, put them in prison and criminalise them.

We cannot accept this. We have to speak up, stand up against this lawlessness, oppression and brutality. We were completely unarmed. Our only crime according to them is we are friends of the Palestinians and wanted to bring medical aid to them. We wanted to brave the military blockade to do this. This is not a crime. In the week we were sailing to Gaza, they had shot dead 7 Palestinians and wounded more than 90 with live bullets in Gaza. They had further shut down fuel and food to Gaza. Two million Palestinians in Gaza live without clean water, with only 2-4 hours of electricity, in homes destroyed by Israeli bombs, in a prison blockaded by land, air and sea for 12 years.

The hospitals of Gaza since the 30 March had treated more than 9,071 wounded persons, 4,348 shot by machine guns from a hundred Israeli snipers while they were mounting peaceful demonstrations inside the borders of Gaza on their own land. Most of the gun-shot wounds were to the lower limbs and with depleted treatment facilities the limbs will suffer amputation. In this period more than 165 Palestinians had been shot dead by the same snipers, including medics and journalists, children and women. The chronic military blockade of Gaza has depleted the hospitals of all surgical and medical supplies. This massive attack on an unarmed Freedom Flotilla bringing friends and some medical relief is an attempt to crush all hope for Gaza. As I write I learnt that our sister Flotilla, Freedom, has also been kidnapped by the Israeli Navy while in international waters.

BUT we will not stop. We must continue to be strong to bring hope and justice to the Palestinians and be prepared to pay the price, and to be worthy of the Palestinians. As long as I survive I will exist to resist.  To do less will be a crime.

• A version of this article appeared in 21st Century Wire.com

On 65th Anniversary Of Korean Truce, Activists Criticize US For Delaying Real Peace

South Korean ‘Youth Resistance’ protests at the US embassy in Seoul demanding a permanent peace treaty and normalizing relations with North Korea.

South Korean peace and justice activists have been writing to us at Popular Resistance complaining that the United States is not responding to the positive steps being taken by North Korea before and after the meeting between President Trump and Chairman Kim. They have sent us information about protests they are organizing in South Korea against the United States as well as in Washington, DC.

Their views show a great divide between the United States and the calls for a permanent peace which includes removal of US troops as just last week the Congress passed a National Defense Authorization Act which forbids removal of US troops from Korea. The John S. McCain Act states the “significant removal” of US troops is “a non-negotiable item as it relates to the complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearization” of North Korea..

The activists argue that the temporary halt in war games which practice nuclear and other military attacks on North Korea are insufficient. They want to see movement toward a real peace treaty and removal of economic sanctions, especially allowing South Korea and North Korea to normalize relations. And, they want US military forces out of Korea, permanently.

On July 27, in a protest in front of the White House, South Korean activists claimed the June 12 agreement between North Korea and the United States called for normalizing relations between North Korea and the US and establishing a permanent and solid peace regime in Korea. They believe that to conclude North Korea-US peace treaty includes withdrawal of the US military from Korea as the core. They call on the Trump administration to fully implement the June 12 declaration and immediately withdraw US troops from South Korea. They pledge all-out national resistance against the United States, to advance the realization of the world where US troops are withdrawn, the Korean people are masters of their country, and the nation is reunified.

They report on a protest held at the US embassy in South Korea on July 29th. Two members of Youth Resistance, “a democratic peace group of patriotic youths formed in October last year for anti-war, peace and national independence,” strongly condemned the United States for its continued military presence in South Korea. This was the ninth protest they have held at the US Embassy in Gwanghwamun next to the Seoul Museum of History.

In the protest, Seo Hyeong-hoon and Min Ji-won rushed toward the US embassy shouting slogans demanding the United States to get out of South Korea. They unfurled a banner that said “Permanently Withdraw United States Forces in Korea” and threw leaflets into the air. Police violently responded, Seo Hyung-hoon head was pushed onto the ground, his arm held backward, and his face slammed to the ground by the police. Allies at the protest witnessed the violence and took photos and video. They report that these events were witnessed by many foreign tourists in the area.

The two peace advocates were taken into custody and brought to the Jongno Police Station. They and their allies are protesting against violent suppression of legitimate demonstrations.  The two protesters condemned the US for failing to fulfill the June 12th Singapore Declaration signed by President Trump and Chairman Kim. Protests were held throughout the night to get them released from custody.

Seo Hyung-hoon wrote:

North Korea has not carried out nuclear tests and missile launches in the past nine months. They have abandoned thePunggye-rie nuclear test center and released three American criminals. In contrast, the US has done very little beyond the temporary and conditional interruption of war exercises. No action has taken place on the threat of US nuclear missile attacks. The US is preventing progress on substantive dialogue with their excuse that a denuclearization timetable is needed. Trump’s actions show he did not genuinely engage in this dialogue, as the sanctions for North Korea have been extended for another year.

The United States has made a military colony in South Korea and established a puppet regime. We seek peace for our nation and the people of Korea.  We want a peace treaty that will last and defeat US imperialism. We understand these high-level talks will not develop on their own and the people must take action. We seek peace because we will be the first to be hit by a US military attack. Our destiny should not be controlled by the presidents of the other countries. We are our own masters and must struggle with our voices and actions to achieve a lasting peace.  There is no peace without a peace agreement that includes US military forces leaving the country!

They argue that the US must convert the unstable armistice agreement to a stable peace treaty. Under Clause 60 of Article 4 of the Armistice Agreement that was signed on July 27th, 1953, it says that within three months a conference of both sides will “settle through negotiation the questions of the withdrawal of all foreign forces from Korea, the peaceful settlement” of issues between the countries. Instead, on October 1st, the US signed a mutual defense treaty with the South Korean government which neutralized the armistice agreement and institutionalized the long-term presence of the US military.

After the embassy protest, Youth Resistance member of the Min Ji-won said:

It has been a month since the meeting between President Trump and Chairman Kim in Sentosa Island, Singapore, but there is still tension with the United States. We strive for the promise of a new relationship, a permanent and solid peace regime. North Korea has canceled the Punggye-rie nuclear test site and returned US military soldiers remains. What is the US doing in return?

In 1945, when the Korean people enjoyed the joy of liberation from Japan, the United States entered our land as an occupying military force. Since then, their unilateral occupation has continued. The United States joined the armistice agreement, which was signed on July 27, 65 years ago. As long as US forces remain on this land, the pain of the war will not disappear and our people cannot achieve justice. The Koreans are no longer deceived by the United States, which is pouring cold water into the atmosphere of peace and unity.

It is US soldiers who undermine our independence and democracy which are the long-time desires of the Korean people. US military abuses are not being overlooked by Koreans, no matter how much they try to hide their aggression and violations of human rights. Our people are no longer deceived by the United States. Now that the people’s aspirations for unification are swelling up, US forces must leave the country. It is time to write a new history that will mark the end of the 73-year-long history of the United States trampling on Korea. Youth Resistance is on the path of glorious struggle to demolish US forces and open the horizons of self-reliance, democracy, and unification. Youth activism reveals the light of the nation and our passion shows the pulse of the nation to rise against US militarism.

On July 27, at dawn, Lee-Jeok who is the permanent representative of Peace Treaty Movement Headquarters and others held a candlelight ceremony of the General MacArthur statue. The Korean people rage against MacArthur as he came to South Korea as the occupier in 1945, divided Korea, and threatened a nuclear attack in the Korean War. Following the ceremony, a coalition of groups held a rally in front of the US Embassy to demand the immediate signing of a Peace Treaty and permanent withdrawal of US military forces.

At protests occurring in South Korea, the Democratic People’s Party (Welfare Party for Democracy) has been conducting demonstrations for 122 days in front of the White House and at the US Embassy. The Democratic Party’s chairman Lee Sang-hoon said, “The Max Thunder war games must permanently be suspended. The peace agreement with the United States must be concluded!. The US Army must leave Korea”

Strategy and Conscience: Subverting Elite Power So We End Human Violence

Given the overwhelming evidence that activist efforts are failing to halt the accelerating rush to extinction precipitated and maintained by dysfunctional human behavior, it is worth reflecting on why this is happening.

Of course, you might say that the rush to extinction is being slowed. But is it? Even according to BP’s chief economist:

Despite the extraordinary growth in renewables in recent years, and the huge policy efforts to encourage a shift away from coal into cleaner, lower carbon fuels, there has been almost no improvement in the power sector fuel mix over the past 20 years. The share of coal in the power sector in 1998 was 38% – exactly the same as in 2017…. this is one area where at the global level we haven’t even taken one step forward, we have stood still: perfectly still for the past 20 years.

And, to choose another measure that highlights our lack of “progress”: species extinctions proceed at a rate of 200 each day, which is vastly greater than the long-term background rate, with another 26,000 species already identified as “under threat“.

But it wouldn’t matter what measure you analyzed – efforts to prevent cataclysmic nuclear war, to halt the many ongoing wars, to contain and reverse the prevalent and grotesque economic exploitation, to end slavery or the sex trafficking of women and children, to halt or even slow the rampant destruction of the biosphere, including the rainforests and oceans – we are rapidly losing ground (and often despite some apparent gains such as adoption of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons by many non-nuclear states on 7 July 2017).

Not only are we destroying the rainforests – currently at the rate of 80,000 acres each day  – and oceans, as a fellow long-standing nonviolent activist, Kelvin Davies, recently observed to me: the oceans and remaining rainforests are ‘being emptied of life’ as impoverished people, forced to the economic margin, hunt remaining wildlife, including tropical fish, for food and/or trafficking.

Before we blame impoverished people for their destruction, however, it is the consumption by those of us in industrialized countries that is generating the adverse circumstances in which they are forced to survive. For one simple example of this, related to our diet alone, see “Emissions impossible: How big meat and dairy are heating up the planet.”

Of course, you might object that it is not activist efforts that are responsible for the failure to halt elite violence and our complicity in it. It is the failure of corporatized society to seriously consider and respond intelligently to the scientific and other evidence in relation to all of the violence in its many manifestations. However, any explanation of this nature fails to understand and appreciate why progressive change has always occurred in the past.

Social progress is the result of people of conscience strategically challenging elite power in such a way that new norms become so widely accepted that elites are compelled to work within them. This has always been essential for the simple reason that elites are insane and have never acted sensibly, whatever the issue. Elites have only ever orchestrated events to maximize their own power, profit and privilege whatever the cost to the rest of us and the Earth itself. Hence, violence, war, grotesque economic exploitation and ecological destruction are rampant across the planet; that is the way elites want it; that is what maximizes elite power, profit and privilege.

As an aside: if you aren’t convinced that the global elite is insane, then perhaps you might ponder the possible implications of the recent call by US President Donald Trump, for the creation of a new Space Force as a sixth branch of the U.S. military – ‘We must have American dominance in space’ – in violation of the Outer Space Treaty of 1967.

While this enterprise, if it gets Congressional approval, would be staggeringly profitable to the global elite while further gutting social and environmental programs to pay for it, the proposal also raises the possibility, as Professor Karl Grossman graphically expressed it (given that there is no way to have the envisaged weapons in space without nuclear power) that “the heavens are going to be littered with radioactive debris”  for millennia (but in substantially greater amounts than is already there).

Of course, if you want even more evidence of elite insanity, then look no further than the current hysteria generated by Donald Trump’s supposed “treason” for having a meeting with Russian president Vladimir Putin in Helsinki with the intention of improving mutual understanding and the prospects of peace between the two countries.

Some informed and thoughtful analysts believe this could lead to an elite coup to remove Trump from the US presidency.

So, to consolidate the information presented above, let me encapsulate the nature of geopolitics in one paragraph:

The military forces of the United States are not intended to defend the United States against military attack. The military forces of the countries in NATO are not intended to defend the respective member countries against military attack. The military forces of the United States and NATO are controlled by the global elite and used by the global elite to aggressively attack, in violation of all relevant national and international laws, any country that seeks independent control and development of its resources, particularly fossil fuels, strategic minerals and water. The global elite, which is in total control of the global economy and world affairs generally, does this in order to expand its own power, profit and privilege. It does this no matter what the cost to any individual (outside the elite), people, country and the biosphere. Why does the global elite do all of this? The global elite does this because it is completely insane.

Hence, to return to my point about the driver of social progress historically: Did the trans-Atlantic slave trade end because elites decided to halt the practice? Did gains for some women during the 21st century occur because elites committed themselves to ending patriarchal privilege? Did the British walk out of their colony in India because the British elite suddenly perceived the injustice of their violence and exploitation?

Despite the successes of activists of earlier generations, however, those of us who identify as activists of this generation are failing, quite comprehensively, to respond intelligently, powerfully and strategically to the vast challenges posed by an elite that has expanded its capacity to intimidate, outflank and overwhelm us (which is why, incidentally, slavery is now far more widespread than during any earlier period in human history, violence against women still manifests in a grotesque variety of forms all over the planet and even India has strayed monstrously from Gandhi’s vision).

In essence, strategic lessons learned by earlier generations of activists are forgotten or ignored as we stumble powerlessly to the extinction that is shortly to claim us all.

While I could write at some length about our shortcomings as activists in the era of perpetual violence and war, grotesque economic exploitation and pervasive climate and environmental destruction, I would like to focus on what I regard as the two key issues: strategy and conscience.

The global elite is deeply entrenched and manages world affairs, particularly through its capitalist economy. The global elite has developed over hundreds of years during which time it has fully and deeply penetrated all of the major power structures in world society, most of which it created (or moulded during their creation), so that the primary levers of power in the modern world – key financial institutions such as central banks, the major asset management corporations and the giant corporations in key industries (such as, but not limited to, the banking and weapons industries) – as well as the instruments through which its policies are implemented – including governments, military forces (both national and as ‘military contractors’ or mercenaries), key ‘intelligence’ agencies, legal systems and police forces, key non-government organizations such as the Vatican, and the academic, educational, media, medical, psychiatric and pharmaceutical industries – are all fully responsive to elite control.

More precisely than this, as explained in his forthcoming book Giants: The Global Power Elite, Professor Peter Phillips identifies the world’s top seventeen asset management firms, each with more than one trillion dollars of investment capital under management, as the giants of world capitalism. The total capital under management on behalf of all seventeen corporations is in excess of $US41.1 trillion; it represents the wealth invested for profit by thousands of millionaires, billionaires and corporations. These seventeen giants operate in nearly every country in the world and are “the central institutions of the financial capital that powers the global economic system”. They invest in anything considered profitable, ranging from “agricultural lands on which indigenous farmers are replaced by power elite investors” to public assets to war.

Phillips goes on to note that the global elite develops and coordinates its policies through a variety of private planning fora such as the Group of Thirty, the Trilateral Commission and the Atlantic Council which determine the policies and issue the instructions for their implementation by transnational governmental institutions like the G7, G20, International Monetary Fund, World Trade Organization and the World Bank. Elite policies are also implemented following instruction of the relevant agent, including governments, in the context. These agents then do as they are instructed.

Or, if they do not, they are overthrown. Just ask any independently-minded government over the past century. For a list of governments overthrown by the global elite using its military and ‘intelligence’ agencies since World War II, see William Blum’s book Killing Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II or, for just the list, see Overthrowing other people’s governments: The Master List.

As a result of coordination through the above elite fora, for example, gigantic media, public relations and entertainment corporations are used to reinforce elite dogma promulgated through national educational institutions so that most western humans become powerless consumers of elite product, informational and material, as the elite pursues ever-increasing profit, power and privilege. Oblivious to the way in which they are caught up in the elite drive to make us consume, even most western activists are major consumers, failing to limit their consumption in line with some appreciation of the per capita ecological carrying capacity of the Earth.

Hence, as should be obvious by now, with a deeply entrenched global elite in total control of major economic/financial, political, military, legal and social (including educational and media) power structures, only a comprehensive and sophisticated strategy has any prospect of succeeding, whatever the issue, and certainly the fundamental one: elite power.

In other words, if we want to end war (or even just one war), halt exacerbation of the climate catastrophe (in a region, country or the world), end environmental destruction on a vast range of fronts, terminate economic exploitation including (modern) slavery, end the sex trafficking of women and children, end the military occupation of Palestine, Tibet, West Papua… then we are going to have to think, plan and act strategically, which includes engaging and mobilizing, in a focused way, a significant proportion of the human population. Simply ‘campaigning’ on the basis of a few ideas and tactics that we think worked in the past, is not enough. Campaigning without strategy – and all that strategic thinking, including a penetrating analysis of the very nature of society and its power structure, entails – is a waste of time.

This is why most work of virtually all ‘activist’ NGOs is useless. They work within the elite-designed and managed global power structure, fearfully self-limiting their actions in accordance with elite-approved processes, such as those ‘within the law’ and lobbying elite-controlled governments and institutions, as well as international organizations such as the UN. By participating in elite-controlled processes, our dissent is absorbed and dissipated, as the elite intend.

This is the great achievement, from an elite perspective, of ‘democracy’: to the extent that people can be persuaded to participate in the delusion that democracy exists (anywhere on Earth) and that voting and lobbying changes anything important, they are unwitting victims of elite-manipulated processes and propaganda.

This also explains why virtually all NGOs invariably end up promoting elite-sponsored delusions such as, for example, those in relation to the climate catastrophe which talk of an ‘end of century’ time frame (about 70 years more than we actually have), staying within 2 (or 3 or 1.5) degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial level (rather than the .5 degrees that is actually necessary) and, the most fundamental delusion of all, that we must substitute renewable energy for fossil fuels (which is certainly necessary), rather than (in addition) profoundly reduce – by at least 80% – consumption generally, involving both energy and resources of every kind – water, household energy, transport fuels, metals, meat, paper and plastic – while dramatically expanding our individual and community self-reliance if all environmental concerns are to be effectively addressed.

But elite-sponsored delusions are widely promulgated by its corporate media on a vast range of issues with only the rarest ‘activist’ NGO, concerned to focus on what it defines as its primary mission, taking a stand on these apparently ‘separate’ issues. So, for example, elite-sponsored delusions that are widely promulgated by its corporate media convince huge numbers of people that US-NATO wars against impoverished and militarily-primitive countries are in ‘self defense’ and that terrorists are a genuine threat to ‘national security’. At a more mundane level, elite-sponsored delusions propagated through its corporate media promote everything from genetically-mutilated, poisoned and junk food to psychiatric drugs. These products are also highly profitable but because their insanity includes lacking any sense of morality, elites are unconcerned about the damage they inflict on us in these regards just as in all others.

Some grassroots activist groups are more politically savvy than NGOs but usually still lack comprehensive and sophisticated strategies. On rare occasions, it should be noted, one of these campaigns or national liberation struggles succeeds, because of such factors as the raw power of nonviolent action (even without strategy) or because they could rely on the NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) effect to facilitate mobilization of significant numbers of people in a local area.

However, the global elite is unconcerned about the occasional local ‘setback’ which does not adversely impact its global agenda and where minor gains by grassroots activists can, if necessary, be subsequently reversed (including by simply violating the law, as the elite routinely does with impunity). Consider again, the above example of Trump’s call to violate the 1967 Outer Space Treaty or routine violation of legally-declared (and sometimes World Heritage-listed) national parks in Africa, Asia and Central/South America as major corporations seek to exploit oil and mineral wealth. The law is designed to intimidate and impede us; it is rarely used in an attempt to hold elites accountable and has little, if any, impact when it does: a corporation may, occasionally, be fined (an expense against generating monstrous profit). Fundamentally, elites are above the law: they draft it to defend their interests against the rest of us.

But to reiterate the main point: given the sheer number of (sometimes even large-scale) mobilizations on one issue after another around the world that achieve nothing of substance in relation to the issue itself (consider the demonstrations against the imminent war on Iraq, held in over 600 cities around the world and involving as many as 30 million people, on 15 February 2003), it is painfully clear that most grassroots activists have no conception of strategy either, including the appropriate strategic focus for their tactics.

And this applies equally to those national liberation activists in occupied countries such as Palestine, Tibet and West Papua, as well as those activists living in the many countries, such as Cambodia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, run by dictatorships or where the elected government, such as that of Brazil, has been removed in a coup.

As touched on above, however, lack of sound strategy (including the structural analysis on which it must be based) is not the only shortcoming in our efforts to halt elite (or even our own) violence.

In the past, a primary motivator of activists, and particularly the great ones such as Mohandas K. Gandhi, was their conscience: The ‘inner voice’ that called them to action on both the personal and political levels.

But there is more to conscience than being called to action. So what is so important about conscience? Conscience is the mind function that asks the deeper questions such as ‘What is the right way to go about this?’, ‘How must I behave if I am to model what I ask of others?’ and ‘How will we design this campaign so that its conduct helps to create the world we envision?’ (rather than the simpler question ‘How will we win this campaign?’).

Moreover, living by one’s conscience requires courage: This includes making strategic choices to take significant or, occasionally, even great risks when elite violence threatens to intimidate a struggle into submission and silence.

It was his unyielding conscience, deeply guiding his personal and political behaviour (including his commitment to nonviolence and his extraordinarily austere lifestyle), and his superlative understanding of strategy that made Gandhi the great activist that he was. Why?

Because Gandhi’s nonviolence was based on certain premises derived from his conscience – including the importance of the truth, the sanctity and unity of all life, and the unity of means and end – his strategy was always conducted within the framework of his desired political, social, economic and ecological vision for society as a whole and not limited to the purpose of any immediate campaign.

It is for this reason that Gandhi’s approach to strategy is so important. He is always taking into account the ultimate end of all nonviolent struggle – a just, peaceful and ecologically sustainable society of self-realized human beings – not just the outcome of this campaign. He wants each campaign to contribute to the ultimate aim, not undermine vital elements of the long-term and overarching struggle to create a world without violence.

So what do we do?

If you would like to better understand why so many human beings, including those within the elite, are devoid of anything resembling a conscience, you can do so by reading what happened to them as a child in “Why Violence?” and “Fearless Psychology and Fearful Psychology: Principles and Practice“.

If you are interested in acting in ways that maximize the chance that elite opponents and their agents will reflect, deeply, on what they are doing, while fundamentally changing the power relationship between you and your opponents, then you are welcome to consider acting strategically in the way that Gandhi did. Whether you are engaged in a peace, climate, environment or social justice campaign or a national liberation struggle, the 12-point strategic framework and principles are the same.

The strategic aims and a core list of strategic goals to end war and to end the climate catastrophe, for example, are identified in “Campaign Strategic Aims” and the strategic aims and a core list of strategic goals to defeat a political or military coup, remove a military occupation, remove a dictatorship or defeat a genocidal assault are identified here: “Liberation Strategic Aims“.

If you would like a straightforward explanation of “Nonviolent Action: Why and How it Works” and an introduction to what it means to think strategically, try reading about the difference between “The Political Objective and Strategic Goal of Nonviolent Actions“.

If you anticipate violent repression by a ruthless opponent, make sure that you plan and implement any nonviolent action as history has taught us: “Nonviolent Action: Minimizing the Risk of Violent Repression“.

If you are interested in nurturing children to live by their conscience and to gain the courage necessary to resist elite violence fearlessly, while living sustainably despite the entreaties of capitalism to over-consume, then you are welcome to make “My Promise to Children“. After all, capitalism and other dysfunctional political, economic and social structures only thrive because of our dysfunctional parenting which robs children of their conscience and courage, among many other qualities, while actively teaching them to over-consume as compensation for having vital emotional needs denied.

Why this emphasis on children you might ask? For good reason. It is dysfunctional human behavior that got us into this civilizational mess and allowed the emergence of exploitative social, political and economic structures. So if we do not emphasize the importance of profoundly changing the way in which we nurture children so that they behave functionally in context, everything else we do to preserve humanity and the biosphere must ultimately fail. The onslaught of our dysfunctional species will simply overwhelm the biosphere, sooner or later, whether it is this generation or the next.

But we don’t have to settle for improving our parenting. We can improve our own functionality and access our conscience and courage too. How?

If you are already guided by your conscience to act powerfully in response to elite violence, you might also consider joining those participating in “The Flame Tree Project to Save Life on Earth“, which outlines a simple plan for people to systematically reduce their consumption while progressively increasing their self-reliance, and consider signing the online pledge of “The People’s Charter to Create a Nonviolent World“.

You may believe that you can halt elite violence without engaging your conscience (and the deep internal search that this requires) and without using Gandhian nonviolent strategy. Even if you are right, the key question is then this: Is the world you will get any better than this one?

And don’t forget the time frame. Major historical struggles, including those noted above, took decades (whatever the merits and shortcomings of their strategies) or, as in most cases, are ongoing. How long do you want to wait before you invest time in learning how to think, plan and act strategically when the future of humanity and the biosphere is now at stake?

So, to conclude: The global elite controls all significant human affairs and even exercises almost total control over the individual lives of human beings. Because the global elite is insane and its psychological (and hence behavioral) dysfunctionality is of a particular kind, it cannot pull back from its existing regime of violence and exploitation, even in response to imperatives from the biosphere.

In this circumstance our choice is simple: near-term human extinction based on our unwitting complicity in elite violence or a conscientious, courageous and strategic response that fundamentally undermines elite power.

This will require a significant number of interrelated nonviolent strategies that each tackle elite violence in one context or another.

You are welcome to consider the options presented just above for your own involvement.

What Should “We” Do about Julian Assange?

Ecuador’s president Lenín Moreno is reportedly close to reneging on asylum granted to WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange by Ecuador. Assange, who holds Ecuadorian citizenship and is entitled to protection as such by his country of citizenship, is expected to be turned over to the UK very soon.

And for what? WikiLeaks dared to expose the perfidy of the United States to the world’s public. The pro-transparency organization enraged the US military-industrial complex by publishing a slew of classified documents, emails, and graphic accounts like the “Collateral Murder” video that adduced US war crimes in Iraq.

In other words, Assange is being painted as a criminal for revealing the crimes of US empire. War is peace. And revealing crimes is criminal.

In mid-July, during president Donald Trump’s visit to England, one press headline reported: “Trump UK visit:’100,000′ take to London’s streets in astonishing show of opposition to ‘horrible’ president.”

And prior to the US-UK attack on Iraq (based on fixing the intelligence and facts around the policy), police estimated “at least 750,000” people turned out demonstrate against partaking in the war against Iraq.

Julian Assange, as a publisher, performed a massive service to humanity in allowing those who want to be informed about what acts their governments are involved in, support, or are silent about. WikiLeaks respects “our” right to know.

Clearly, Assange must be protected. Now is a moment that calls for people power, and its seems this time a people’s movement stands a good shot at a moral victory. Imagine, for a moment, if a million people showed up at the Ecuadorian embassy in London ready to form a swarm around Assange when he emerges, thereby barring police access to a man charged with no crime.

Imagine if the day of Assange’s exit were co-ordinated worldwide by an organized resistance to empire and its cronies, and another million people plus from around the world joined the Brits at the Ecuadorian embassy. Imagine if they all of them wore Guy Fawkes masks and black hoodies and Assange were provided with the same by the crowd. Then the massive crowd raises umbrellas and plays a shell game such that Assange’s whereabouts in the crowd becomes nigh impossible to ascertain.

The feasibility or probability of success of such a proposal is unknown to this writer.

What is palpable is that a man, in service of the wider humanity, has courageously put himself in the crosshairs of the 1%-ers. This poses a challenge to the 99%-ers. What are “we” going to do about it? It surely is incumbent to protect one of “our” own, gain a victory for social justice and humanity in the process, and — at the same time — slap back at the 1%-ers.

If someone co-ordinates this, I pledge to buy my ticket to London.

What Should “We” Do about Julian Assange?

Ecuador’s president Lenín Moreno is reportedly close to reneging on asylum granted to WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange by Ecuador. Assange, who holds Ecuadorian citizenship and is entitled to protection as such by his country of citizenship, is expected to be turned over to the UK very soon.

And for what? WikiLeaks dared to expose the perfidy of the United States to the world’s public. The pro-transparency organization enraged the US military-industrial complex by publishing a slew of classified documents, emails, and graphic accounts like the “Collateral Murder” video that adduced US war crimes in Iraq.

In other words, Assange is being painted as a criminal for revealing the crimes of US empire. War is peace. And revealing crimes is criminal.

In mid-July, during president Donald Trump’s visit to England, one press headline reported: “Trump UK visit:’100,000′ take to London’s streets in astonishing show of opposition to ‘horrible’ president.”

And prior to the US-UK attack on Iraq (based on fixing the intelligence and facts around the policy), police estimated “at least 750,000” people turned out demonstrate against partaking in the war against Iraq.

Julian Assange, as a publisher, performed a massive service to humanity in allowing those who want to be informed about what acts their governments are involved in, support, or are silent about. WikiLeaks respects “our” right to know.

Clearly, Assange must be protected. Now is a moment that calls for people power, and its seems this time a people’s movement stands a good shot at a moral victory. Imagine, for a moment, if a million people showed up at the Ecuadorian embassy in London ready to form a swarm around Assange when he emerges, thereby barring police access to a man charged with no crime.

Imagine if the day of Assange’s exit were co-ordinated worldwide by an organized resistance to empire and its cronies, and another million people plus from around the world joined the Brits at the Ecuadorian embassy. Imagine if they all of them wore Guy Fawkes masks and black hoodies and Assange were provided with the same by the crowd. Then the massive crowd raises umbrellas and plays a shell game such that Assange’s whereabouts in the crowd becomes nigh impossible to ascertain.

The feasibility or probability of success of such a proposal is unknown to this writer.

What is palpable is that a man, in service of the wider humanity, has courageously put himself in the crosshairs of the 1%-ers. This poses a challenge to the 99%-ers. What are “we” going to do about it? It surely is incumbent to protect one of “our” own, gain a victory for social justice and humanity in the process, and — at the same time — slap back at the 1%-ers.

If someone co-ordinates this, I pledge to buy my ticket to London.

Red Fawn Fallis and the Felony of Being Attacked by Cops

What happened to Standing Rock water protector Red Fawn Fallis is what has happened to many women political dissenters who go up against Big Government/Corporate power.  After she was viciously tackled by several police officers (caught on video), she was brought up on serious charges of harming those who harmed her.  Fallis, after months of intense corporate/military surveillance and handy informant reports, was targeted as a coordinator and a leader, a symbol and an inspiration.  For daring to make a stand for her people against the encroaching poison and destruction brought by the Dakota Access gas pipeline, she became a political prisoner.

Native-American women suffering dire consequences because of the ever-expanding needs of capitalist/white rule is nothing new.  Native-Americans have endured environmental racism for a very long time—from New England merchants to men seeking gold and to “tame” the West.  Late 20th century technology brought uranium mining and nuclear testing to the Southwest, bringing new and far-reaching disaster.  The Dakota oil pipeline, carrying explosive crude Canadian oil, goes through tribal lands, without tribal consent, potentially poisoning their water and desecrating their sacred sites.  Women have been on the frontlines of DAPL resistance, with their traditional ties to “Mother Earth” and to ancient matriarchal spiritual leadership.  But Standing Rock women resister/water protectors, faced all-out war from government/corporate forces.

In a militarized police state, colonized Native-Americans taking a stand to protect their land and water from rapacious banks and oil companies can expect what was unleashed against them.  In one battle late in 2016, troopers from North Dakota and neighboring states launched an attack against hundreds of united, unarmed Native-American protesters and their allies.  Rubber bullets, icy water cannons, concussion grenades, mace and tear gas did enormous damage.  As head of the Medic and Healer Council Linda Black Elk put it, she was attacked as part of the “continued legacy of oppression by the United States government.”  Native-American women have felt this legacy of oppression in particular ways directed at “squaws.”  Natïve women were raped, imprisoned, tortured, mutilated and killed by white colonial settlers, and that tradition and mentality still lives on in the experience of Red Fawn Fallis and her fellow women water protectors.

White police forcibly assaulted, stripped and searched demonstrators.  In a very familiar pattern, Prairie McLaughlin, daughter of LaDonna Brave Bull Allard, Lakota historian, was cited with “resisting arrest,” after objecting to being forcibly stripped.  An officer broke Apache-Navajo Laurie Howland’s wrist during her arrest.  Echoing Annie May Aquash, who was killed during the Wounded Knee uprising, Howland thought the white officers objected to her not being white and not praying to Jesus. Women dissidents against governmental authority, from Shaker Mother Ann Lee, to women militant suffragists, to black freedom riders, to revolutionary weatherwomen, have met male police violence, as “unnatural” noncompliant women.  For black and Native-American women, branded by a racist culture as even more beneath contempt, it is always worse.  So naturally, Red Fawn Fallis, singled out as a leader by the authorities, would be thrown down and arrested, and then brought up on serious charges which she would have no hope of beating.

It was October 2016, when 40-year-old Red Fawn Fallis was arrested after being tackled and pinned by several officers.  Fallis came from a family well used to resistance and its consequences.  Red Fawn is an Oglala Sioux from Pine Ridge.  Fallis’ mother Troylynn Yellow Wood was active in AIM (American Indian Movement) and was at the Wounded Knee protest in 1973.  She died shortly before the Standing Rock demonstrations.  She had taught her daughter to fight for “social and environmental justice” and to “stand up for her people.”  Red Fawn was serving as a medic at Standing Rock.  She was known as a “mother” to young activists, known to be “dedicated to peaceful tactics.”  When she was accused of shooting at a police officer, her supporters found it hard to believe.  Terrell Ironshell of the Indigenous Youth Council said that Fallis told them:  “You don’t have to be afraid of the government.  This is our land.”  Apparently the government has not yet been convinced of that.

On October 27, 2016, there was a 400-person rally near a DAPL construction site.  The police used the occasion to raid an “1851 treaty camp” and to take and destroy ceremonial and sacred items from a sweat lodge.  They dispersed the crowd with rubber bullets, tear gas and a “long-range acoustic device.”  There were 147 arrested that day and all were released except Red Fawn.  Deputy Thad Schmit said he spotted Fallis “being an instigator and disorderly” so he “took her to the ground.”  She allegedly fired a gun while down, and according to the arresting officers told them they were lucky she didn’t “shoot all you fuckers.”  [What military conference do they go to for this stuff?]  A video taken at the time clearly shows her being violently tackled by a dozen police, who then pinned her down, with a gun (according to witnesses) in her back.  The scene is horrific and typical of fascist militarized authorities quelling unarmed protesters.  It was the same response shown when black women protesters confronted Ferguson police and when Occupy demonstrators met up with the NYPD.

The initial (state) charge against Red Fawn Fallis was “attempted murder” of a police officer.  This was dropped in November in favor of federal charges of “civil disorder” and “possession of a firearm by a convicted felon” (a felon for allegedly driving the car while her male companion shot and wounded another man).  US authorities ordered her held without bail—standard for political prisoners, whether black Panther or Weatherwoman or water protector.  At a June 2017 hearing, she was denied bail, purportedly because the judge said Standing Rock protesters were “violent.”  In October she finally was released to a half-way house in Fargo, after being in North Dakota jails for months.

In January 2018, she had a trial, but, of course, the defense could not use the abrogation of treaty rights or the elaborate military-style surveillance and intelligence reports used to target her, reports which equated her with “jihadist fighters”; or the role of the swarmy FBI informant Heath Harmon, who insinuated himself into a relationship with Fallis, and said he provided her with the gun she allegedly fired.  With the defense hamstrung, as it always is when a woman political is a supposed terrorist, “eco-terrorist” in her case, she and her lawyer Bruce Ellison (Leonard Peltier’s attorney—hm), decided it’d be best to take a plea deal for civil disorder and possession of a firearm, with the dropping of the discharge of firearm (potentially a life sentence).  She also had to express remorse for causing any danger to the police [!].  After some delays, Red Fawn was finally sentenced on July 11, to 57 months in federal prison, with 18 months credit for prison time served.  She will serve about 39 months and three years probation.  She is appealing, but—vicious government prosecutors in North Dakota courts not known for Native-American sympathies–?  Not much chance.  Interestingly, Fallis said, before sentencing, she “wanted to move forward in a positive way away from Harmon and the things he tried to put on me while I was trying to push him away.”  Guess he got even.

When it comes to political dissent, the US government has a long history of violently suppressing it.  When it comes to women dissenters, US authorities have a long history of saving special kinds of punishments for them.  In 1973, black liberationist Assata Shakur was pulled over in a traffic stop, ended up being shot and then falsely accused of shooting her attacker.  Knowing she’d be killed in prison, her comrades helped her escape to Cuba.  In 1990, environmentalist Judi Bari was blown up with a car bomb in California, very likely by the FBI and the Pacific Lumber Company.  She was charged with “possession of an explosive device.”  She never recovered from her injuries.   Muslim- Pakistani scientist Aafia Siddiqui, a Boston doctor, was caught up in the horror of false terrorism charges in the early 2000s.  After years of imprisonment, rape and torture, she was set up for a staged shooting of US army officers in Afghanistan, was herself grievously wounded in the stomach, and, as an accused “terrorist,” got 86 years in prison.  Occcupy’s Cecily McMillan was sexually accosted by an NYPD officer, tackled by a number of other officers, and was charged with attacking the police.  She served time in Rikers and was released.  Black Lives Matter activist Sandra Bland was pulled over in Texas for not signaling for a lane change, was tackled with her head hitting the ground, charged with the felony of attacking an officer, and was found hanged in her cell a few days later under suspicious circumstances.  In a police state, you can be a New Jersey mother on a beach and get accosted by cops, a black woman at a waffle house and be tackled by officers, a young woman jaywalking and get attacked by the police.  This is the mark of an authoritarian, patriarchal power structure.

Red Fawn Fallis will serve hard time in federal prison because she stood up to government/corporate power.  The Free Red Fawn facebook page says—on July 12, 2018—that she is a “political prisoner.  She stood up for justice against environmental genocide, encroachment of our land and water.”  Like other Native-American and Puerto Rican women politicals, Fallis sees her status as a war captive of the US government.  She knows she faces a long prison sentence, but has heard her supporters sing outside her window.  She says, “So I stand strong. . .  I grow stronger every passing hour.”  She was treated brutally and with a punishment far in excess of any possible crime.  Such treatment of women political prisoners is the mark of a state which has little patience for defiant women resisters:  a fascist state, a police state –not one beginning with Trump—Standing Rock and Ferguson happened under Obama. The repression against those women who have fought for freedom and justice began with the first settlers.

Reclaiming Democracy

Media release by Heather Stroud before her trial at York Magistrates Court on 16th July for chaining herself to the gate at Third Energy Fracking Site at Kirby Misperton, North Yorkshire, UK (30th January 2018)

*****

It’s not pleasant to stand in front of a court and defend myself; however, the overwhelming evidence of harms that fracking would bring to our community, and, in fact, globally through depleted clean water resources and rising temperatures, is so great that I felt I had no choice but to take action.

Fracking is just a symptom of a bigger, far more insidious problem where our government, in servitude to corporate lobbyists, has placed the rights of corporations above that of humans and of the natural world. Without social licence to frack, this abandonment of their mandate to serve the people, raises issues of the states’ disregard for democracy and human rights. As a further step in this decline of democracy Westminster have proposed to fast track fracking licensing decisions, taking them out of the hands of local people and local councils.

By chaining myself to the gate at KM8 I was symbolically claiming back democracy, democracy that rightfully belongs in the hands of the people.

Just to borrow some words from Benedict Cohen, international human rights lawyer:

Rights are not conferred on us by the state. Rights are conferred on us by virtue of our being human. The rights of nature are there because it is nature herself, who is the universal law giver.

200 years ago people from the African continent were kidnapped and enslaved with their humanity and rights denied. 100 years ago women’s rights to vote or participate in decision-making were denied. Today we look back and think how appalling these ideas of denial were. What wasn’t obvious then is obvious today. These changes, however, didn’t come about without struggle and, all too often, the criminalisation of those seeking justice.

It is the failure of the state that opens the door to protest. My defence was premeditated – premeditated, thought through, because I was not willing to sit by and see irretrievable harms damage done to our environment- irretrievable damage that could have devastating consequences to all life forms.

I prepared my statement of defence before I had decided what action I would take. As a signatory of the Earth Protectors Trust, I shall be using article 9, of the European Convention on Human Rights, and defending myself based on being a person of conscience, who felt obliged to take action to prevent further harms.

Just to read a joint statement by The World Bank, an organisation I wouldn’t normally be in alignment with; “The ‘status quo’ is driving a transition of the Earth’s eco-system into a state unknown in human experience.”

To further quote from 475 scientists in 48 countries: “Without concrete immediate actions, by 2050 it is extremely likely that Earth’s life support system…. will be irretrievably damage.”

What will our children and their children think if they are facing a world that can no longer sustain life? It is this reckless industrial scale plunder of the earth’s natural resources that is hurtling us all toward extinction.

I send out a plea to all of us, to stop and pause, to seriously think about what we are doing.

Governments, corporations, military and banking – the big power decision makers could be part of the solution. It’s about waking up to what is, rather than this narrow quest for endless industrial growth and profit.