Category Archives: Genocide

Decolonization Displaces Neoliberalism in Bolivia

In the central interior of the Canadian province of British Columbia is the unceded territory of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation. A corporate entity, Coastal GasLink (CGL), abetted by colonial-government structures, is preparing to lay a pipeline in this territory. The Dinï ze’ and Ts’akë ze’ (hereditary chiefs) did not grant consent for this; in fact, the proposal from CGL was unanimously rejected.

On 22 July, the Gidimt’en (Wolf and Bear) Clan of the Wet’suwet’en filed a lawsuit against CGL in the BC Supreme Court connected to the enforcement on 7 January when 14 people were arrested resisting a BC Supreme Court injunction granting CGL access to the pipeline right-of-way through Wet’suwet’en territory.1

Given the state of siege and corporate Canada’s unwelcome intrusion onto Wet’suwet’en territory, what is crystal clear is that colonialism continues unabated.

Ongoing colonialism and ongoing genocide remain a reprehensible and undeniable fact in “British Columbia.”2

Overcoming Colonialism and Genocide: The Bolivian Template

To combat the insidious effects of colonialism the colonialism must be undone. South of Turtle Island is the landlocked nation of Bolivia where decolonization has been underway. Author Benjamin Dangl chronicles this in The Five Hundred Year Rebellion: Indigenous Movements and the Decolonization of History in Bolivia (AK Press, 2019). The brilliance of The Five Hundred Year Rebellion is that it lays out one actionable template for reclaiming what settler-colonists robbed from Indigenous peoples.

There are 38 different Indigenous groups in Bolivia; populous among them are the Aymara, Quechua, and Gurani. Indigenous peoples in Bolivia have mobilized en masse to reclaim their history and empower themselves through grassroots activism. The movements were labor-, union-, academic-, and politic-oriented.

Dangl writes that after the Spanish destroyed Incan society, the Indigenous-led National Council of Ayllus and Markas of Qullasuyu (CONAMAQ) sought to reconstitute and solidify Bolivian ayllus (a centuries old community structure in the Andes). The Andean Oral History Workshop (THOA) reconstructed the historical narrative of Indigenous Bolivians.

Bartolina Sisa and Túpac Katari © Hugo Quispe

Important in restoring the historical Indigenous narrative was Katarismo organized by campesino movements in the 1960s and 1970s. Kararismo is named after the Aymara martyr Túpac Katari. In 1781, Katari with his wife Bartolina Sisa (women were an important part of the movement; p 71-78) and thousands of campesinos used road blocks (an effective tactic often used by the Indigenous resistance movements) to lay siege to La Paz, the seat of government in Bolivia. However, this uprising failed and Katari was brutally quartered by the Spanish. Katari, subsequently, has been used as a icon of the resistance against the police state and military regimes. (p 49, 61)

Out of Katarismo arose the Unified Syndical Confederation of Rural Workers in Bolivia (CSUTCB). The Kataristas resisted the military governments in Bolivia and the National Revolutionary Movement (MNR) that overthrew a military government in 1951. While the MNR brought in some land reforms, it sought to erase Indigenous identity. (p 25-28) The Kataristas, however, reinvoked Indigenous memory.

The CSUTCB indigenized the Bolivian Workers’ Central by, for example, recognizing Indigenous sartorial. (p 65) The solidarity was important in overthrowing military regimes.

Dangl details the importance of THOA in bringing Indigenous history to the forefront after years of being suppressed by colonialism, academia — and even Marxism (p 93). After the ayllu network was reconstructed by CONAMAQ, Indigenous surnames were retained, Indigenous narratives were incorporated into education, and Indigenous languages and culture were promoted. (p 94-104)

One particular history recovered by THOA was of the Indigenous resistance leader Santos Marka T’ula: “T’ula’s life is the vehicle of the narrative, positioned as a crucial step in a much longer journey toward justice.” (p 126)

Notable in the history of the Indigenous peoples has been a strong socialist component from the days of the Incan empire, Tawantinsuyu, to the Movement toward Socialism (MAS) governing Bolivia today. The ayllus are communal, featuring sharing and mutual aid (p 139- 140) — and even anarchistic in that leadership is rotational and decision-making consensus-based. (p 153)

Dangl describes the election of an Indigenous leader, Evo Morales, as a “watershed moment” in Bolivia. (p 163) Morales is currently standing for election to a fourth term as president of Bolivia. This is hardly rotational, but his MAS governments have made great strides for the people of Bolivia while continuing to face challenges and criticisms.

The Five Hundred Year Rebellion traces the historical path of colonial repression, historiographical and cultural destruction which was met with Indigenous resistance and the struggle for decolonization.

Solidarity is a key, and the Wet’suwet’en have reached out in their fight against colonialism.

Bolivia offers a template that might be useful in Indigenous contexts elsewhere. As such, Dangl’s book is an important source to consider for carrying out a successful resistance and achieving justice.

  1. .See Unist’ot’en.
  2. See Kerry Coast, author of The Colonial Present: The Rule of Ignorance and the Role of Law in British Columbia (Clarity Press and International Human Rights Association of American Minorities, 2013). Review; Tamara Starblanket, Suffer the Little Children: Genocide, Indigenous Nations and the Canadian State (Clarity Press, 2018). Review; Tom Swanky, The Great Darkening: The True Story of Canada’s “War” of Extermination on the Pacific plus The Tsilhqot’in and other First Nations Resistance (Burnaby, BC: Dragon Heart Enterprises, 2012). Review; James Daschuk, Clearing the Plains: Disease, Politics of Starvation, and the Loss of Aboriginal Life (University of Regina Press, 2013); Robert Davis and Mark Zannis, The Genocide Machine in Canada (Black Rose, 1973).

Roméo Dallaire denies Canadian Genocide and distorts Rwanda’s

Is Roméo Dallaire a genocide denier?

After a (question free) talk at Concordia University this week I followed the famous Canadian general out of the room to ask why he still supports ruthless dictator Paul Kagame. Kagame is the individual most responsible for the mass slaughter in Rwanda in mid-1994 since his forces invaded the country, engaged in a great deal of killing and blew up the presidential plane that unleashed the genocidal violence.

In 1996 Kagame’s forces invaded the Congo to overthrow the government in Kinshasa and when their installed president kicked them out they reinvaded in 1998, causing an eight country war that left millions dead. According to a 600-page report by the UN high commissioner for human rights, Rwanda was responsible for “crimes against humanity, war crimes, or even genocide” in the Congo.

With Dallaire refusing to answer my question I asked a Radio Canada journalist seeking to interview the former general to ask why he supports Kagame. The reporter was there to question Dallaire about the use of the term “genocide” in the Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. Dallaire said he had “a problem” with the use of the word “genocide” to describe what happened to First Nations. “Is that an act of genocide? Is it?” he said. “My definition of genocide, I read it very deliberately at the start of the Rwandan genocide, and it was a deliberate act of a government to exterminate deliberately, and by force and directly, an ethnicity or a group or an entity of human beings.”

Numerous media outlets picked up Dallaire’s comments. A La Presse headline read “Dallaire denounces the use of the term ‘genocide’” while Rebel Media’s The Ezra Levant Show reported on, “Rwandan genocide witness General Roméo Dallaire’s strong denouncement of Justin Trudeau’s agreement that the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women findings indeed constitute a ‘genocide.’”

While Dallaire is opposed to labeling Canada’s dispossession of First Nations a genocide, he has repeatedly employed the term to describe rights violations in enemy states. In recent years he’s compared the situation of Darfur in Sudan and Baha’i in Iran, as well as Syria and Libya, to Rwanda. If Western interventionists are targeting a nation Dallaire is happy to employ the “G” word or “R” comparison.

Interestingly, Dallaire’s criteria for a genocide — “a deliberate act of a government to exterminate deliberately” — better applies to indigenous people in Canada than to the Tutsi in Rwanda. Dispossessed of 99% of their land, indigenous people have faced state-backed efforts to starve and sterilize them. They’ve also been made wards of the state, had their movement restricted and religious/cultural ceremonies banned. Residential schools and other so-called child welfare initiatives sought to eradicate their ways, or in the infamous formulation of the deputy superintendent of the Department of Indian Affairs from 1913 to 1932, Duncan Campbell Scott:

Our objective is to continue until there is not a single Indian in Canada that has not been absorbed into the body politic and there is no Indian question.

Prior to confederation, British forces conquered today’s Nova Scotia through terror, putting the heads of Mi’kmaq soldiers on spikes and offering bounties to kill women and children. Founder of the Halifax fort, Lieutenant General Edward Cornwallis led the charge and by the mid-1760s the Mi’kmaq had been largely wiped out in Nova Scotia.

After British forces conquered Quebec General Jeffery Amherst’s forces gave indigenous chiefs in the Great Lakes region blankets and a handkerchief from a smallpox hospital. Commander of British forces in North America, Amherst wrote:

You will do well to try to inoculate the Indians by means of blankets as well as to try every other method that can serve to extirpate this execrable race.

By the 1820s the Beothuk in Newfoundland were extinct. On the West Coast in 1862 colonial officials are accused of enabling the spread of smallpox among First Nations, which devastated the indigenous population.

Unlike the Tutsi in Rwanda, indigenous people in Canada didn’t end up in power after the “genocide”. Nor did Jews in Germany, the Herero in Namibia, Armenians in Turkey, Maya in Guatemala, etc. Rwanda is a peculiar case where the minority — 10% of the population — targeted for extermination ended up ruling after the bulk of the violence subsided.

That’s partly because the genocidal killings were not a long planned attempt to exterminate all Tutsi, which even the victors’ justice dispensed by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) effectively concluded. Instead, it was the outgrowth of a serious breakdown in social order that saw hundreds of thousands slaughtered by relatively disorganized local ‘militias’ fearful of the Kagame-led foreign invasion that eventually conquered Rwanda and drove a quarter of the population out of the country. Probably an equal — and possibly a greater — number of Hutu were killed.

Dallaire has propagated a wildly simplistic account of the tragedy that gripped Rwanda and Burundi in the mid-1990s. He has promoted the Kagame-inspired fairy tale used to justify a brutal dictatorship in Rwanda and its expansionism in the region (as well as Western liberal imperialism). According to the most outlandish aspect of this story, Hutu extremists murdered the Hutu presidents of Rwanda and Burundi and much of the Hutu-led Rwandan military command, weakening the Hutu government to its most frail point in three decades, and then decided to begin a long planned systematic extermination of Tutsi. In this depiction of Rwanda’s tragedy, the individual most responsible for unleashing the genocidal violence is the hero who ended “the Genocide”.

Dallaire is not innocent of Kagame’s violence. In his 2005 book Le Patron de Dallaire Parle (The Boss of Dallaire Speaks), Jacques-Roger Booh Booh, a former Cameroon foreign minister and overall head of mid-1990s UN mission in Rwanda, claims Dallaire had little interest in the violence unleashed by Kagame’s RPF despite reports of summary executions in areas controlled by them. Booh Booh says Dallaire turned a blind eye to RPF weapons coming across the border from Uganda and he believes the UN forces under Dallaire’s command may have even transported weapons directly to the RPF, “becoming an objective ally of one of the parties in the conflict.”

Dallaire’s criticism of the Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls is consistent with his political interventions. He has long been a cheerleader for Canadian and Western domination of the world. As I detail in this article, the former general opposed calls to withdraw Canadian soldiers from Afghanistan, supported the overthrow of Haiti’s elected government in 2004 and bombing of Libya in 2011. He has also called for increased military spending and for Canada to join US ballistic missile “defence”. Now he appears to be denying a genocide perpetrated by a government he represented in the Senate and worked for in the military. Boil it all down and it simply becomes: ‘Our side is good and our enemies are bad.’

But, of course, this is what passes for foreign policy in Canada.

Facing the Facts: Israel Cannot Escape ICC Jurisdiction

The Chief Military Advocate General of the Israeli army, Sharon Afek, and the US Department of Defense General Counsel, Paul Ney, shared a platform at the ‘International Conference on the Law of Armed Conflict’, which took place in Herzliya, Israel between May 28-30.

Their panel witnessed some of the most misconstrued interpretations of international law ever recorded. It was as if Afek and Ney were literally making up their own law on warfare and armed conflict, with no regard to what international law actually stipulates.

Unsurprisingly, both Afek and Ney agreed on many things, including that Israel and the US are blameless in all of their military conflicts, and that they will always be united against any attempt to hold them accountable for war crimes by the International Court of Justice (ICC).

Their tirade against the ICC mirrors that of their own leaders. While Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s anti-ICC position is familiar, last April, US President Donald Trump virulently expressed his contempt for the global organization and everything it represents.

“Any attempt to target American, Israeli, or allied personnel for prosecution will be met with a swift and vigorous response,” Trump said in a writing on April 12.

While Trump’s (and Netanyahu’s) divisive language is nothing new, Afek and Ney were entrusted with the difficult task of using legal language to explain their countries’ aversion for international law.

Prior to the Herzliya Conference, Afek addressed the Israel Bar Association convention in Eilat on May 26. Here, too, he made some ludicrous claims as he absolved, in advance, Israeli soldiers who kill Palestinians.

“A soldier who is in a life-threatening situation and acts to defend himself (or) others (he) is responsible for, is receiving and will continue receiving full back-up from the Israeli army,” he said.

The above assertion appears far more sinister once we remember Afek’s views on what constitutes a “life-threatening situation”, as he had articulated in Herzliya a few days later.

“Thousands of Gaza’s residents (try) to breach the border fence,” he said, with reference to the non-violent March of Return at the fence separating besieged Gaza from Israel.

The Gaza protesters “are led by a terrorist organization that deliberately uses civilians to carry out attacks,” Afek said.

Afek sees unarmed protests in Gaza as a form of terrorism, thus concurring with an earlier statement made by then-Israeli Defense Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, on April 8, 2018, when he declared that “there are no innocents in Gaza.”

Israel’s shoot-to-kill policy, however, is not confined to the Gaza Strip but is also implemented with the same degree of violent enthusiasm in the West Bank.

‘No attacker, male or female, should make it out of any attack alive,’ Lieberman said in 2015. His orders were followed implicitly, as hundreds of Palestinians were killed in the West Bank and Jerusalem for allegedly trying to attack Israeli occupation soldiers or armed illegal Jewish settlers.

Unlike democratic political systems everywhere, in Israel the occupation soldier becomes the interpreter and enforcer of the law.

Putting this policy into practice in Gaza is even more horrendous as unarmed protesters are often being killed by Israeli snipers from long distances. Even journalists and medics have not been spared the same tragic fate as the hundreds of civilians who were killed since the start of the protests in March 2018.

Last February, the United Nations Independent Commission of Inquiry on Gaza’s protests concluded that “it has reasonable grounds to believe that during the Great March of Return, Israeli soldiers committed violations of international human rights and humanitarian law. Some of those violations may constitute war crimes or crimes against humanity, and must be immediately investigated by Israel.”

In his attack on the ICC at the Herzliya Conference, Afek contended that “Israel is a law-abiding country, with an independent and strong judicial system, and there is no reason for its actions to be scrutinized by the ICC.”

The Israeli General goes on to reprimand the ICC by urging it to focus on “dealing with the main issues for which it was founded.”

Has Afek even read the Rome Statute? The first Article states that the ICC has the “power to exercise its jurisdiction over persons for the most serious crimes of international concern, as referred to in this Statute.”

Article 5 elaborates the nature of these serious crimes, which include: “(a) The crime of genocide; (b) Crimes against humanity; (c) War crimes; (d) The crime of aggression.”

Israel has been accused of at least two of these crimes – war crimes and crimes against humanity – repeatedly, including in the February report by the United Nations Independent Commission of Inquiry.

Afek may argue that none of this is relevant to Israel, for the latter is not “a party to the Rome Statute,” therefore, does not fall within ICC’s legal jurisdiction.

Wrong again.

Article 12 of the Rome Statute allows for ICC’s jurisdiction in two cases; first, if the State in which the alleged crime has occurred is itself a party of the Statute and, second, if the State where the crime has occurred agrees to submit itself to the jurisdiction of the court.

While it is true that Israel is not a signatory of the Rome Statute, Palestine has, since 2015, agreed to submit itself to the ICC’s jurisdiction.

Moreover, in April 2015, the State of Palestine formally became a member of the ICC, thus giving the court jurisdiction to investigate crimes committed in the Occupied Territories since June 13, 2014. These crimes include human rights violations carried out during the Israeli war on Gaza in July-August of the same year.

Afek’s skewed understanding of international law went unchallenged at the Herzliya Conference, as he was flanked by equally misguided interpreters of international law.

However, nothing proclaimed by Israel’s top military prosecutor or his government will alter the facts. Israeli war crimes must not go unpunished; Israel’s judicial system is untrustworthy and the ICC has the legal right and moral duty to carry out the will of the international community and hold to account those responsible for war crimes anywhere, including Israel.

Facing the Facts: Israel Cannot Escape ICC Jurisdiction

The Chief Military Advocate General of the Israeli army, Sharon Afek, and the US Department of Defense General Counsel, Paul Ney, shared a platform at the ‘International Conference on the Law of Armed Conflict’, which took place in Herzliya, Israel between May 28-30.

Their panel witnessed some of the most misconstrued interpretations of international law ever recorded. It was as if Afek and Ney were literally making up their own law on warfare and armed conflict, with no regard to what international law actually stipulates.

Unsurprisingly, both Afek and Ney agreed on many things, including that Israel and the US are blameless in all of their military conflicts, and that they will always be united against any attempt to hold them accountable for war crimes by the International Court of Justice (ICC).

Their tirade against the ICC mirrors that of their own leaders. While Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s anti-ICC position is familiar, last April, US President Donald Trump virulently expressed his contempt for the global organization and everything it represents.

“Any attempt to target American, Israeli, or allied personnel for prosecution will be met with a swift and vigorous response,” Trump said in a writing on April 12.

While Trump’s (and Netanyahu’s) divisive language is nothing new, Afek and Ney were entrusted with the difficult task of using legal language to explain their countries’ aversion for international law.

Prior to the Herzliya Conference, Afek addressed the Israel Bar Association convention in Eilat on May 26. Here, too, he made some ludicrous claims as he absolved, in advance, Israeli soldiers who kill Palestinians.

“A soldier who is in a life-threatening situation and acts to defend himself (or) others (he) is responsible for, is receiving and will continue receiving full back-up from the Israeli army,” he said.

The above assertion appears far more sinister once we remember Afek’s views on what constitutes a “life-threatening situation”, as he had articulated in Herzliya a few days later.

“Thousands of Gaza’s residents (try) to breach the border fence,” he said, with reference to the non-violent March of Return at the fence separating besieged Gaza from Israel.

The Gaza protesters “are led by a terrorist organization that deliberately uses civilians to carry out attacks,” Afek said.

Afek sees unarmed protests in Gaza as a form of terrorism, thus concurring with an earlier statement made by then-Israeli Defense Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, on April 8, 2018, when he declared that “there are no innocents in Gaza.”

Israel’s shoot-to-kill policy, however, is not confined to the Gaza Strip but is also implemented with the same degree of violent enthusiasm in the West Bank.

‘No attacker, male or female, should make it out of any attack alive,’ Lieberman said in 2015. His orders were followed implicitly, as hundreds of Palestinians were killed in the West Bank and Jerusalem for allegedly trying to attack Israeli occupation soldiers or armed illegal Jewish settlers.

Unlike democratic political systems everywhere, in Israel the occupation soldier becomes the interpreter and enforcer of the law.

Putting this policy into practice in Gaza is even more horrendous as unarmed protesters are often being killed by Israeli snipers from long distances. Even journalists and medics have not been spared the same tragic fate as the hundreds of civilians who were killed since the start of the protests in March 2018.

Last February, the United Nations Independent Commission of Inquiry on Gaza’s protests concluded that “it has reasonable grounds to believe that during the Great March of Return, Israeli soldiers committed violations of international human rights and humanitarian law. Some of those violations may constitute war crimes or crimes against humanity, and must be immediately investigated by Israel.”

In his attack on the ICC at the Herzliya Conference, Afek contended that “Israel is a law-abiding country, with an independent and strong judicial system, and there is no reason for its actions to be scrutinized by the ICC.”

The Israeli General goes on to reprimand the ICC by urging it to focus on “dealing with the main issues for which it was founded.”

Has Afek even read the Rome Statute? The first Article states that the ICC has the “power to exercise its jurisdiction over persons for the most serious crimes of international concern, as referred to in this Statute.”

Article 5 elaborates the nature of these serious crimes, which include: “(a) The crime of genocide; (b) Crimes against humanity; (c) War crimes; (d) The crime of aggression.”

Israel has been accused of at least two of these crimes – war crimes and crimes against humanity – repeatedly, including in the February report by the United Nations Independent Commission of Inquiry.

Afek may argue that none of this is relevant to Israel, for the latter is not “a party to the Rome Statute,” therefore, does not fall within ICC’s legal jurisdiction.

Wrong again.

Article 12 of the Rome Statute allows for ICC’s jurisdiction in two cases; first, if the State in which the alleged crime has occurred is itself a party of the Statute and, second, if the State where the crime has occurred agrees to submit itself to the jurisdiction of the court.

While it is true that Israel is not a signatory of the Rome Statute, Palestine has, since 2015, agreed to submit itself to the ICC’s jurisdiction.

Moreover, in April 2015, the State of Palestine formally became a member of the ICC, thus giving the court jurisdiction to investigate crimes committed in the Occupied Territories since June 13, 2014. These crimes include human rights violations carried out during the Israeli war on Gaza in July-August of the same year.

Afek’s skewed understanding of international law went unchallenged at the Herzliya Conference, as he was flanked by equally misguided interpreters of international law.

However, nothing proclaimed by Israel’s top military prosecutor or his government will alter the facts. Israeli war crimes must not go unpunished; Israel’s judicial system is untrustworthy and the ICC has the legal right and moral duty to carry out the will of the international community and hold to account those responsible for war crimes anywhere, including Israel.

View the Frontline Documentary on Gaza that PBS Pulled

PBS stations around the U.S. were scheduled to show a riveting new Frontline documentary, “One Day in Gaza,” but at the last minute PBS pulled it.

The film is missing important context about the issue, but it includes footage that Americans, as Israel’s top funders, should see – including a young, unarmed teen being shot in her head.

BBC, the coproducer of the film, broadcast it to British viewers. We are posting it below so that Americans can also view it.

Recently, hundreds of PBS stations around the United States were scheduled to broadcast a powerful new Frontline documentary: “One Day in Gaza.” But viewers tuning in found that it had been replaced by a slightly updated Frontline report on Robert Mueller that had been broadcast two months before and had been streaming online ever since.

PBS no longer has the Gaza film listed on its schedule.

The documentary was to be aired on the one-year anniversary of events that took place on May 14, 2018, when tens of thousands of men, women, and children in Gaza gathered with the intention of deploying the tactics Gandhi had used in freeing India from British control.

The demonstration that day was the 8th march in what Gazans named the Great March of Return.

Palestinians months earlier had announced their plan for a mass, peaceful demonstration in which Gazans would march for an end to Israel’s crippling 12-year blockade and, especially, for  their right to return to homes stolen by Israel in order to create a Jewish state. Palestinians’ right to return to their homes and ancestral land is well established in international law. This fundamental right, affirmed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, is at the center of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Israel had responded by immediately deploying a hundred snipers.

In the first seven weekly marches, Israeli forces killed about 50 of the marchers and injured over 7,000.

During the 8th march on May 14, the day depicted in the film, Israeli forces killed 60 more and shot 1,000 – an average of one person every 30 seconds.

While this was going on, a glittering Israeli celebration was taking place as a new, transplanted U.S. Embassy opened in Jerusalem, a city that Israel illegally annexed following the Six-Day War that Israel launched in 1967.

Who were the protesters?

Over 70 percent of Gazans are from families that Israel forced out in its founding war to establish “the Jewish state.” Israel confiscated their homes and land and has prevented them from returning ever since. This violates international law.

For 12 years Israel has perpetrated a strangling blockade of Gaza, causing 52 percent unemployment, hunger, the kind of malnutrition that causes growth stunting in children, and increasing hopelessness.

And this blockade is just the most recent one.

On April 15, 2002 the UN Food and Agriculture Organization reported, “The total blockade has paralysed the Palestinian economy… it is now in a deep recession, with millions of people severely impoverished and extremely food insecure.”

For many years it has been tremendously difficult, sometimes impossible, for Gazans to leave Gaza, and for others to enter it. As a result, many people describe Gaza as the largest open-air prison on earth.

While U.S. news coverage in general, and the Frontline documentary in particular, emphasize the rockets fired by Gaza’s diverse resistance groups, the fact is that Israeli violence preceded the rockets and has greatly exceeded their impact.

In the past year alone, Israeli forces have killed at least 293 Gazans, while Gazans have killed 6 Israelis. Palestinian rockets from Gaza, which are largely homemade, have killed a total of about 40 Israelis in the whole time they’ve been being shot, while during the same time period Israeli forces have killed over 6,000 Gazans. (See this Timeline of deaths and this Israeli source for more info.)

The film says that Israel “fought three major conflicts with Hamas,” but doesn’t mention that during these, Israeli forces killed about 3,600 Gazans (many of them women and children), while Gazan fighters killed approximately 80 Israelis, the large majority of them soldiers.

Powerful but flawed

The Frontline documentary One Day in Gaza is an extremely powerful, if flawed, record of the events of May 14, 2018.

It provides Israeli views, Palestinian views, and riveting, often tragic footage of the day’s events. However, perhaps because of its striving to be “balanced,” or due to constraints imposed by Israel’s powerful lobbies in England and the U.S., the film often leans toward the Israeli narrative and obscures some important points.

The Israeli interviewees in the film are calm, articulate, and seem well-trained in presenting their talking points. Perhaps this is not surprising given that one is an army spokesman, a second is a high-ranking officer, and two are Americans who immigrated to Israel (although this fact is not revealed in the film).

Not interviewed in the film are any of the members of the Israeli group, Breaking the Silence, composed of former Israeli soldiers who describe widespread military practices of gratuitous violence and cruelty.

Below is some background on two of the Israelis featured in the film:

Col. Kobi Heller

Perhaps because of time constraints, Col. Heller’s, background and political persuasion are left out of the film.

While Heller comes across as reasonable, professional, and reluctant to commit the murders we see from his troops, his resumé suggests that there is more to his story.

Heller is a member of Israel’s Religious Zionist movement, a group that has become known for its zealotry and sometimes extremist views of Jewish supremacy. He is called a “kippa shruga,” a term for the type of Jewish fundamentalist known for believing that Arabs should be expelled from Israel and for opposition to any Palestinian state, no matter how small.

It turns out that he has a previous connection to Gaza. Heller is a settler who studied at a religious Zionist yeshiva in a Gaza settlement that combined religious studies with military training. In 2005 the yeshiva was moved to Israel when the Israeli government forcibly expelled the settlers. This caused fierce objections in the settler movement. Many in the army were outraged at this action.

Heller is from Israel’s notorious Golani brigade, increasingly a bastion of the Israeli far right. An Israeli professor states:  “The officer corps of the elite Golani Brigade is now heavily populated by religious right-wing graduates of the preparatory academies.” The New York Times reports that many Israelis are concerned at this development, particularly since a booklet was handed out to soldiers during Israel’s 2009 assault on Gaza that contained a rabbinical edict against showing the enemy mercy.

The Times reports: “The rabbinate brought in a lot of booklets and articles and their message was very clear: We are the Jewish people, we came to this land by a miracle, God brought us back to this land and now we need to fight to expel the non-Jews who are interfering with our conquest of this holy land.”

Adele Raemer

An Israeli woman featured in the film is Adele Raemer. She is described as an “Israeli grandmother” who lives two kilometers from the Gaza fence.

In the film she describes her fear of Gazans who wish to return to their homes in Israel. The film does not mention that Raemer is originally an American from the Bronx.

In 1975 she immigrated to Israel and took up residency in the Nirim kibbutz on the border with Gaza. Since the area had originally possessed no history of Jewish habitation, the Zionist movement had established it in 1946 to create a Jewish presence in the Negev in order to claim it as part of a future Jewish state.

Raemer has written that her life in the kibbutz is “95 percent heaven.” Despite being located in a desert, it has green grass and a swimming pool. A little over a mile away, Gazans are enduring a water crisis that has caused Gazan children to suffer from diarrhea, kidney disease, and impaired IQ.

Hamas and Islamic Jihad leaders

The film shows the the flaws and sometimes fatal logistical failures of Hamas and Islamic Jihad leaders during the Great March and says that Hamas has “refused to recognize Israel.”

However, the film doesn’t include the fact that Hamas has offered Israel a decade-long truce, that it is Israel that breaks the truces, and that Hamas has said it was willing to accept a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders.

In reporting these leaders’ flaws and mistakes, the film fails to mention the extreme difficulties Gaza’s leaders face, including the fact that by assuming this role they face very possible assassination by Israel. Many resistance members have been blown to pieces by Israeli drones.

Those who survive are trying to run a resistance movement, deploy efficient logistical support, and make wise decisions during chaotic conditions in one of the world’s most isolated and longest-besieged enclaves.

Most important, the Palestinian journalist and peace activist who originated the march and is interviewed in the film, Ahmed Abu Artema, says that the film attributed far too much significance to Hamas, and neglected the “primary role played by civil society activists in Gaza.”

In a detailed critique of the film, he writes: “The documentary did not show the reality of the prison that Gaza has become. One shot of the cattle market that exists at the Erez crossing would have been enough to convey the reality of this cage, where there is no freedom of movement, no economic growth, no future prospects – no hope.”

The U.S. connection

The film also fails to inform American viewers of our connection to Israeli actions – that the U.S. gives Israel over $10 million per day. (The U.S. has given Israel on average 7,000 times more per capita than it has given other people around the world.)

And in its framing, the film neglects the fact that a prime driver of Trump’s decision to move the U.S. embassy is billionaire campaign donor Sheldon Adelson, who attended the celebration with his Israeli wife Miriam. (Adelson once said that he regretted serving in the U.S. army rather than the Israeli one – video here.)

Despite its flaws, Americans should see it

But the film cannot do everything, and it does some things extremely well. Overall, it’s not difficult to see why Israel partisans would not wish it broadcast to Americans.

It shows footage that the American public almost never sees. It was this kind of footage that eventually led to Americans ending the Vietnam war.

One of the main take-aways from the film is the extreme ruthlessness of Israeli forces.

Fully armed Israeli soldiers from one of the most powerful armies on earth are seen targeting multitudes of thin, unarmed men, women, and children. The film shows Israeli snipers shooting people in the head, in the back, in the legs.

It shows a youth whose leg was amputated and reports that many of the demonstrators lost limbs that day. (The UN recently reported that 1,700 Gazans shot by Israeli snipers are currently at risk of amputations.)

While U.S. news reports often downplay these actions, the film shows them in all their tragic and horrific reality.

The film shows people who are just standing there suddenly being picked off by snipers. It shows a 14-year-old girl chatting with a friend, then suddenly being shot in the head. And it shows her little brother, who had been with her, later describing how his sister had been killed. This is not footage that Israeli hawks wish American audiences to view.

Another takeaway from the film is the poverty of Gaza’s imprisoned population, particularly compared to the gathering in Israel to celebrate the U.S. Embassy move to Jerusalem.

Amid the expensive suits and fashionable dresses, American-born Israeli official Michael Oren bemoans the fact that the situation in Gaza has blemished his enjoyment of the festive occasion.

This contrast with Gaza is stark.

With no powerful lobby to represent them and little clout in U.S. media, Palestinians are at the mercy of Israel. The film shows that many in Gaza feel they have little to lose after years of escalating oppression. Some voice impossible dreams that had motivated them, that they could recover their lost homes. Some simply hoped to see them. A few voice the fury that results from dispossession, imprisonment, and brutalization.

While this goes unremarked in the film, there are indications that the “tear gas” Israeli drones poured on people may have been particularly virulent. In the film we see some people convulsing, and one man is delirious. This seems reminiscent of a mysterious gas used in Gaza in early 2001 that caused similar symptoms (reported in the James Longley documentary Gaza Strip).

Courage

While Israeli soldiers shelter behind diverse barriers, armed with advanced weaponry and guided by female soldiers watching it all on TV screens in a remote bunker, it is the Palestinians who demonstrate incredible, sometimes tragic courage.

We see them without weapons, without body armor, without helmets, without uniforms. Old and young, men and women, strong and disabled, they wield slingshots, wave flags.

They’re out in an open field, Israeli forces in front of them, drones overhead. When yet another demonstrator is shot, the blood pouring out, they run to rescue him or her, and then sometimes they, too, are shot. Yet they continue.

The contrast between the Israeli and Palestinian women taking part in the day’s hostilities is acute. Israeli female soldiers are far away, watching the action on computer monitors, telling soldiers when and where to shoot. Their faces are blurred to keep their identities secret. One seems to question what she’s doing, but there’s no indication that she stops.

Gazan women join the mass gathering. They’re out are in the open field, marching, carrying flags, helping the injured… and getting shot.

Theft of a nation

For over 70 years, Israel has gotten away with its astoundingly massive theft of the land and homes of the non-Jews it dispossessed to create an ethnically defined nation, and its decades of violence to maintain this ethnic cleansing. A Palestinian historian has validly termed this the Palestinian Holocaust.

One Day in Gaza shows some of Israel’s millions of victims, their attempt to be free, and what’s being done to them. Americans are not supposed to see that.

While Artema’s biting critique of the film is valid and necessary, it is useful to be aware that for many Americans much of the film will be revelatory.

PBS’s action

PBS’s cancellation, however, has prevented Frontline‘s more than 4.6 million viewers from seeing it.

While PBS calls itself “a trusted window to the world,” someone at PBS shuttered the window on One Day in Gaza.

PBS spokespeople state that Gaza will be broadcast at some point in the coming months, but say they don’t know when. Since the film’s scheduled broadcast date was specifically focused on the one-year anniversary of the day it depicts, it seems odd for PBS to be so unconcerned about broadcasting it in a timely manner. BBC, on the other hand, aired the film on May 13.

According to a Frontline statement, One Day In Gaza was pulled because Frontline “decided to air a timely update to our documentary on the Mueller investigation.” The Mueller investigation report had been broadcast on March 16 and 17 and has been available online ever since. It can be viewed here.

The updated version that bumped One Day in Gaza can be seen here. The update consists of a few minutes added at the end of the report. This new information had already been reported widely in U.S. media, including PBS’s own primetime news program News Hour.

PBS vs local stations

PBS wields considerable power. A national study rated PBS “the most-trusted institution in America.”

Its Frontline program claims to be “American television’s top long-form news and current affairs series.”

According to its website, PBS is a “near-universal media service, available in 9-of-10 U.S. television households. For many Americans, public television is their connection to the world.”

PBS emphasizes the alleged independence of its nearly 350 television and radio stations, stating they are among “the last locally owned media organizations in the country.”

However, in reality it appears that local stations have less control than this implies. When someone at PBS prevented the broadcast of Gaza, that decision prevented all the local stations around the country from airing it.

The fact is that local PBS stations do not have independent access to the film – even though it received funding from the stations.

While most Americans may think that PBS is a public institution, given its name – Public Broadcasting Service” – it is not. It is, in its own words, “a private, nonprofit media enterprise.” One that is, however, largely funded by American taxpayers.

Its ownership is a bit convoluted and multi-layered. While it says it is “owned by its 350 member stations,” its funding comes from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. CPB is another private nonprofit, but 95 percent of CPB’s funding comes from the federal government. Most of this money is then given to the member stations.

Phone calls to a PBS station, KQED in San Francisco, revealed that KQED had received many calls complaining about the cancellation and asking when Gaza would be shown. KQED’s customer service representative explained that none of this is in KQED’s hands.

“We Answer to You”

Frontline has refused to divulge who was involved in the decision to pull Gaza. It seems likely that its Senior Editorial Team – consisting of Raney Aronson-Rath, Executive Producer; David Fanning, Founder and Executive Producer at Large; and Andrew Metz, Managing Editor – would have been involved. Fanning has previously been accused of censoring content regarding Israel/Palestine, a charge he denies.

Frontline‘s website announces: “We answer to no one but you.”

It’s unclear who the “you” is. It does not appear to be the member stations who fund it, or the many people whose federal dollars financed the film and wish to see it.

While PBS holds on to the film and fails to release it, people in Gaza continue their David against Goliath struggle.

On May 15th, Gazan men, women, and children again protested, and Israel again unleashed its heavily armed military, injuring 144, including 49 children. The same day, Israeli soldiers also fired at fishermen who were fishing off the coast of Gaza, injuring one of them – a frequent occurrence that Americans rarely, if ever, see on the News Hour.

And so it goes.

Perhaps at some point PBS/Frontline management will decide that the massacre of 60 people and the shooting of a thousand others in a single day is important enough to merit scheduling the film – particularly when the perpetrator has received more U.S. tax money than any other nation in the world.

This post will be updated if PBS schedules a new broadcast date.

It will be updated again if PBS actually shows it.

WATCH: One Day in Gaza    Download: Torrent | Magnet Link

Rwanda: 25 Years on, U.S. Taxpayers Paying Millions for Homeland Security’s Sham ‘Genocide Fugitive’ Trials in Boston

April 6, 1994 – April 6, 2019

On 6 April 1994, the Hutu presidents of Rwanda and Burundi, their top military staff and six French crew members were assassinated when surface-to-air missiles shot down the Rwandan presidential jet on approach to Kigali airport. It is now well established that the assassination plot that decapitated the Hutu-led governments was executed by Rwanda’s now president and strongman-for-life, then Major General Paul Kagame, commander of the terrorist Tutsi-Hima army that invaded Rwanda from Uganda.

Now, 25 years later, while Kagame and the Rwanda genocide industry commemorate the 25th anniversary of the so-called 100 days of genocide, U.S. taxpayers continue to pay millions of dollars for yet another bogus asylum show trial targeting another genocide survivor and fugitive from the terrorist Kagame regime. Meanwhile, reporting on the trial in federal court in Boston, Massachusetts, the Boston newspapers have not challenged the vested-interests of their quoted sources or the machinations of the Department of Homeland Security and its Immigration & Customs Enforcement.

The wreckage of the presidential Mystere Falcon airplane, shot down on approach to Kigali airport on 6 April 1994, at rest after air-to-surface missiles caused it to crash into the presidential compound. Photo by Cranimer, New Vision newspaper, Kampala, Uganda.

Jean Leonard Teganya, 46, is a wanted man who has spent much of his adult life trying to start over and recover from the atrocities he survived in Rwanda.

Teganya was a medical student who volunteered at the hospital in Butare, Rwanda in the spring of 1994, treating the sick and wounded when no doctors or nurses were available (due to the large numbers of casualties).

Mr. Teganya was also a victim of the violence in 1994, rescued by fellow students after being attacked by an armed militia in Butare. He fled Butare around 20 June 1994, after killings intensified in the region in parallel with the arrival of the Rwandan Patriotic Army.

In June of 1994 Mr. Teganya fled Rwanda during the mass exodus of some 2 million Rwandans to neighboring countries. Mr. Teganya ended up in Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of Congo) at Nyakavogo, a (mostly) Hutu refugee camp that in September of 1996 was attacked by Paul Kagame and the Rwandan Patriotic Army (RPA) in violation of international humanitarian law.

A trial in a federal court in Boston commenced against Jean Leonard Teganya on 11 March 2019. Photographs of the scars of his wounds were shown to the Boston jury by the attorneys from the public defenders office that are representing him.

Witnesses for the prosecution, flown in from Rwanda for the trial in Boston, swore under oath that Mr. Teganya wore the hats, shirts and scarves of the ‘extremist Hutu’ parties. Prosecution witnesses described in great detail the insignia that was on Mr. Teganya’s hat: a machete and tool. He helped commit genocide, the U.S. prosecutors and immigration agents in Boston said, then tried to claim asylum.

‘The defendant had a problem,’ Assistant US Attorney Scott L. Garland told a jury in US District Court in Boston during opening arguments in the trial against Teganya,’ reported the Boston Globe. ‘His problem was that his application for asylum would be denied if the US found out what he had done in Rwanda, because persecutors cannot claim asylum.’

More than two weeks of hearings later, witnesses for the defense described Mr. Teganya as an amicable, quiet man devoted to helping other people. They described an intelligent, sensitive and caring fellow student who did not participate in party politics. More than 15 witness stated under oath that Jean Leonard Teganya never wore the signature clothing of the more radical Hutu political parties.

Where and how were the Rwandan prosecution witnesses to Mr. Teganya’s alleged crimes identified and who identified them? These are some of the pivotal questions that an ICE agent on the witness stand at Mr. Teganya’s trial was unable or unwilling to answer with conviction.

Did the ICE agent commit perjury?

Hutu, Death Agents, Have become Its Victims

As the cataclysm unfolded in Rwanda in 1994, the western media reported from behind the RPA lines. The RPA narrative became the mainstream establishment narrative (that remains the predominant one): Tutsis as victims, Hutus as killers.

When the United Nations High Commission for Refugees special rapporteur Robert Gersony reported on the RPA’s widespread killing of scores of thousands of Hutu inside Rwanda, the report was squashed: all Hutus were killers, all Tutsis were victims. Gersony went silent and stayed silent.

As a survivor of the mass atrocities and genocide that occurred in his home country of Rwanda during the civil war, Jean Leonard Teganya was one of millions of innocent non-combatant Rwandans uprooted and driven from his homeland.

Forced to flee at the age of 21, from one country to another, he was for all practical purposes a fugitive from injustice (at the hands of the RPA), forced to survive or perish under the constant nagging memory of the horrors that he witnessed and the threat of arrest and persecution by the current regime in Rwanda.

His real crimes? He is a Hutu. He is an intellectual. He is a survivor. He had a U.S. government issued work permit and (for over two years) he was working at a prestigious university.

Mr. Teganya persevered in finding a new home, building a new life, raising a family.

And the worst crime of all? Jean Leonard Teganya was on the path of gaining asylum in the United States of America.

When president Paul Kagame and his Directorate of Military Intelligence in Rwanda learned that Mr. Teganya was legally employed as a laboratory technician at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge Massachusetts, and that Mr. Teganya was about to gain legal U.S. residency status through the formal immigration process, they set about manufacturing a case against him.

The RPA slaughtered hundreds of thousands of unarmed non-combatant Rwandans–mostly Hutu women, children and elders–and also uncountable Congolese citizens during the Rwandan and Ugandan invasion of Zaire in 1996 and 1997.

At the height of the slaughter in Zaire, the New York Times and other major international media published story after hand-wringing story that basically manufactured consent for the ongoing genocide against the unarmed innocent Hutus in Zaire.

The New York Times article of 13 April 1997 that basically gave the green light for the continued massacres of innocent non-combatant refugees in Zaire–mostly women, children and the elderly.

On 1 October 2010, the 20th anniversary of the RPA invasion of Rwanda (1 October 1990), the United Nations published an extensive Mapping Report of atrocities in the DR Congo. The Mapping Report established clear patterns and documented atrocities declared to include war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide committed by the RPA and its allies.

Zaire (the Congo) was not the first place that Hutu refugees experienced massacres, torture and unimaginable brutality at the hands of the RPA. The Hutu people also experienced atrocities of this unimaginable and unprecedented inhuman scale, magnitude and character during the four years of terrorism and war prosecuted by the RPA in Rwanda.

Jean Leonard Teganya’s flight from Rwanda in 1994 led him from Zaire to India to Canada.

According to the ICE press release of 4 August 2017, Jean Leonard Teganya was arrested in Massachusetts on that date but the press release does not disclose the full circumstances of context of Mr. Teganya’s status in the United States, or his employment at MIT:

Jean Leonard Teganya, 46, was charged with one count of immigration fraud and one count of perjury. Teganya made his first appearance in federal court in Boston on Friday afternoon.

As alleged in court documents, approximately 800,000 people were murdered during the Rwandan genocide in 1994. Prior to and during the Rwandan genocide, Teganya was a medical student and medical trainee at the Butare hospital in Butare, Rwanda. Several witnesses present in Butare during the genocide described Teganya as active in the political party of the genocidal regime, the MRND, and its militia, and stated that he actively participated in the persecution of Tutsis, the group that was largely targeted during the genocide.

According to court documents, Teganya left Rwanda in mid-July 1994, and traveled to Congo, India, and then Canada. In 1999, Teganya applied for immigration benefits in Canada. Canadian authorities twice determined that Teganya was not entitled to those benefits, and ordered his deportation because he had been complicit in atrocities committed at the Butare hospital during the genocide. After 15 years of litigation, Teganya evaded the order of deportation and fled across the border into the United States. On Aug. 3, 2014, Teganya was encountered walking on foot after he crossed from Canada into Houlton, Maine. Teganya was taken into custody and later made false statements on documents submitted to U.S. authorities by failing to disclose the extent of his affiliations and activities with the MRND and Hutu extremists.

If you were to read only what was written about Jean Leonard Teganya by the Boston Globe and the Boston Herald in the years, months and weeks that preceded the trial, or the stories that appeared after the trial began on 11 March 2019 and before closing arguments were heard on 3 April 2019, you would be convinced that Jean Leonard Teganya is a monster of human being capable of the most sadistic violence.

Asylum trial portrayed a monster. Defense aims to change the narrative,” reads Maria Cramer’s Boston Globe article of 2 April 2019.

No matter the stories’ leads, most of these articles quickly spin off into the never-never land of established lies, false accusations and manufactured evidence that are peculiar to Rwanda genocide asylum trials held in the United States and Canada over the past 20 years.

Like the select group of Kagame agents and regime insiders that peddle them, these falsehoods, tactics and methodologies of oppression have become the staple mechanisms and tools of strong-arm long-arm authoritarianism used to reach outside Rwanda and silence, terrorize and extradite (from the U.S., Canada, U.K., Netherlands, etc.) any Rwandan that in any way challenges the Rwandan regime.

When all else fails, there is always the RPA assassination program.

In March 2019, Paul Kagame publicly and unapologetically bragged about the necessity and righteousness of the assassination of former RPA/RPF cadre member Seth Sendashonga–assassinated by RPA agents in Nairobi Kenya in the late 1990’s.

The Rwanda Genocide Industry

On the U.S. side, working for the dictatorship in Rwanda, and keeping tabs on Mr. Teganya from the moment he entered the U.S. in his quest for asylum, crossing the U.S.-Canadian border in Maine in August 2014, was Brian Andersen, a special agent with U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Customs and Immigration Enforcement (ICE), Human Rights Violators and War Crimes Unit.

Brian Anderson testified at Jean Leonard Teganya’s trial in late March 2019, and he is cited by the Boston Globe without any due journalistic diligence or even a modicum of investigative reporting to vet or uncover the truth about Anderson’s history and practices used to hunt down supposed genocidaire fugitives.

“Brian Andersen, a special agent for the Department of Homeland Security, which investigated the case, testified that his team found the witnesses in Rwanda and established contact with them,” wrote Maria Cramer, for the Boston Globe on 1 April 2019.

No April fool’s joke, what the Globe did not report is how special agent Mr. Andersen has worked with the Kagame regime to hunt, frame and persecute many Rwandan Hutus, survivors of the cataclysm of 1994.

Special agent Andersen has been involved in at least four previous high profile but bogus Rwanda genocide asylum cases, two of these in Boston, one in Manchester New Hampshire, and one in Utah.

Expert witnesses for the prosecution in several of these cases have included Dr. Phil Clark, a British academic at London’s School for Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), Zachary Kaufman, an academic at the Kennedy School of Government, and Rony Zachariah, a doctor with Medecines Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders) who was present in Rwanda for a short spell before being evacuated during the atrocities of April 1994.

Each of these three experts has made a career out of whitewashing the crimes of the Kagame regime through publishing, public speaking, and/or testifying at one-sided Rwanda genocide tribunals or asylum hearings.

Dr. Phil Clark has been discredited by his own peers in the international academic community. Clark has for many years maintained friendly relations with Kagame and peddled the RPA narrative in complete disregard of evidence of the RPA’s crimes to the contrary; Clark’s tight relations with Kigali suggest some significant financial or material reward for helping to spread the propaganda of the regime.

In the October 2017 immigration trial of Prudence Kantengwa adjudicated by Federal Immigration Judge Sanchez, federal prosecutor Mary Kelley succeeded in getting Dr. Phil Clark qualified as an expert: the immigration judge dismissed Clark’s direct ties to the Kagame regime. Dr. Clark testified by videoconferencing from London; he was allowed to refer to his notes, even search the Internet–while under oath and on the virtual witness stand–to buttress his testimony.

Witnesses for the defense were required to appear in Boston in person, and Judge Sanchez disallowed Rwanda scholar Dr. Susan Thomson as an expert witness for the defense, claiming that Dr. Thomson’s testimony would be duplicative of issues addressed by Dr. Phil Clark. In fact, based on her multiple highly critical reviews of the genocide text edited by Dr. Phil Clark and Dr. Zachary Kaufman (see below), Dr. Susan Thomson would likely have offered testimony in strong contradiction to the prosecution’s expert witness Dr. Phil Clark.

Defense witnesses who did appear at the Kantengwa hearings were not allowed to surf the Internet, refer to documents or books, or even access their personal notes while giving testimony.

Federal prosecutor Mary Kelly harassed the two leading defense witnesses (Keith Harmon Snow and Claude Gatebuke) that Immigration Judge Sanchez did qualify as experts. Ms. Kelley attempted to intimidate, stifle or completely silence the witnesses.

In the Kantengwa case, Immigration Judge Sanchez found in favor of Rwanda and its collaborator, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and thereby set the stage for the extradition and deportation to Rwanda of Prudence Kantengwa.

In the appeal brief filed by Kantengwa’s defense attorneys (William Joyce, “Brief in Support of an Appeal of an Immigration Judge’s Decision,” filed in Falls Church Virginia, A 098 277 297) the appeal attorney explicitly flagged the unprofessional and immature behavior of federal prosecutor Mary Kelley, both in the context of her hysterical outbursts and harassment of the two qualified defense experts and in the context of Prudence Kantengwa’s initial immigration trial adjudicated by U.S. Federal Judge Klein.

Judge Klein, who initially heard Ms. Kantengwa’s case, noted for the record in her written opinion the DHS trial attorney’s [Mary Kelley’s] lack of respect for the court and unnecessarily combative questioning of Ms. Kantengwa and her witnesses. Tr. #1 at 1242 (“I want whoever reviews this case to listen to the tone of this trial attorney [Mary Kelley] throughout this case.”); id. at 1250 (Judge Klein to attorney Kelley: “…it gets to the lack of respect that you have for this Court…”); IJ Klein Dec. at 48 (“On various occasions during cross-examination, DHS counsel’s tone toward the respondent was accusatory and aggressive.”).

This aggressive questioning continued in Ms. Kantengwa’s hearings before Judge Sanchez, in part leading to the reticence of witnesses to respond to questioning…(DHS accusing Ms. Kantengwa of violating and ICTR sequestration order)…(DHS likening Ms. Kantengwa to a Holocaust denier)…(DHS accusing Mr. Gatebuke of misrepresenting his identity)…(DHS accusing Mr. Gatebuke of having a bank account in the Caymans)…(DHS comparing Mr. Snow to Adolph Hitler)…(bond counsel for Ms. Kantengwa to DHS: “I don’t know why your [sic] harassing [the respondent].”) The end result of this very aggressive and possibly inappropriate line of questioning plus the investigator [ICE special agent Brian Andersen] running in and out of the court room led to an atmosphere of intimidation both to the experts and to the respondent.

Though a seasoned Judge from another court arena, Judge Sanchez was newly appointed to the Immigration Courts and the trial of the United States v. Prudence Kantengwa was one of the first immigration cases he heard.

Ms. Kantengwa’s appeals attorney also noted the conflict that arose in the court when a defense witness refused to reveal his sources. Defense expert [Keith Harmon Snow] testified that he had interviewed a Rwandan genocide survivor who had witnessed crimes against humanity and who was himself the survivor of severe and inhuman forms of torture committed by the Rwandan Patriotic Army. Judge Sanchez asked the expert [Snow] to reveal the name of witness/victim and when the expert repeatedly refused to name the source or provide to the Court any video or audio recordings of said victim’s statement, Judge Sanchez ruled that the expert’s [Snow’s] opinions on torture in Rwanda be stricken from the record.

In his decision, Judge Sanchez afforded less weight to the expert’s [Snow’s] testimony on the grounds that he was “non-responsive to DHS questioning” and he refused to provide the names of sources to the Court upon demand.

During the trial, attorney William Joyce, the defense counsel for Prudence Kantengwa, strenuously objected to the requirement that experts require names of sources, particularly given the presence in the courtroom of the ICE agent — Brian Andersen — who conducted an investigation in Rwanda of Ms. Kantengwa and her sister Beatrice Munyenyezi.

The appeals attorney also noted in the Kantengwa appeal that:

In fact, there is a serious question as to whether the ICE agent [Brian Andersen] sitting at the [prosecution] table who was also running in and out of the courtroom and providing information to government counsel was attempting to intimidate Mr. Snow. In fact, the respondent’s counsel requested an off the record discussion to discuss what could be considered possible intimidation towards Mr. Snow.

The tactic used by Mary Kelley and Brian Andersen of targeting innocent Rwandans who showed up at hearings in support of other defendants or respondents, or who have been named or identified in immigration hearings, is not without precedent, as noted above.

Dr. Zachary Kaufman, who is Dr. Phil Clark’s academic and editorial colleague, has also maintained a tight relationship with the Kagame regime, effectively serving as one of Kagame’s hired guns. Dr. Clark’s relationship involves material and financial rewards in exchange for whitewashing the regime and gaining access to the country and the largess (and privileges) secured by the criminal RPA cadres and their illegal networks in Rwanda and Congo.

Paul Kagame has numerous times been invited (and appeared) as speaker at the Harvard University Kennedy School of Government where Kaufman and genocide expert and stateswoman Samantha Power both have deep historical and current ties. Like Clark and Kaufman’s publications, Samantha Power’s publications on ‘genocide in Rwanda’ are laden with inaccuracies, omissions, distortions and selective truths.

Clark and Kaufman published an edited volume titled After Genocide (2009) that was criticized by Dr. Susan Thomson, a Rwanda scholar whose professional work and vocal criticisms of the regime lead to her being declared persona non grata in Rwanda. Thomson and other scholars also signed a public letter criticizing Dr. Phil Clark’s work and his ties to the Rwandan government. Thomson’s dislike of the Cark/Kaufman book was so strong as to provoke her to write not one but two book reviews that were subsequently published in academic journals.

The preface of After Genocide was written by Paul Kagame and, besides a few chapter contributions by Clark and Kaufman (and a collection of more honest and professional academic chapters), there is also a chapter by another of Paul Kagame’s leading hired guns, the English-speaking propagandist Tom Ndahiro.

Recall that the Tutsi aristocrats and their Ugandan brethren who invaded Rwanda were English speakers, while the Tutsi that suffered the genocidal onslaught in 1994 were French speakers. Kagame and company did not trust, or care about, French speaking Tutsis who ‘stayed behind’ in Rwanda in the 1960s and 1970s when the Tutsi aristocrats fled, and when so many innocent Tutsis targeted in retaliation for Tutsi guerrilla (Inyenzi) attacks against Rwanda also fled to neighboring countries.

Zachary Kaufman was quoted in one of the main Boston Globe articles about Jean Leonard Teganya. Reporter Maria Cramer brought Kaufman into the story to provide an official authoritative and definitive quote to repudiate the defense attorney’s demonstration that Rwandan witnesses for the prosecution are coached, and the defense team’s demonstration of witnesses’ inconsistencies.

In the same story, the Globe briefly discussed the two other recent cases that involved Brian Andersen, Munyenyezi and Kantengwa, but special agent Andersen is not mentioned in connection to those two cases. Instead we read Harvard University expert Zachary Kaufman declaring the final judgement on the matter:

Teganya is the third Rwandan since 2012 to face prosecution in New England for allegedly hiding links to the genocide to obtain asylum…

In 2012, Prudence Kantengwa, a Hutu, was sentenced to 21 months for lying on her asylum application about her affiliation with the party that orchestrated the genocide, the National Republican Movement for Democracy and Development.

Three years later, Kantengwa’s sister, Beatrice Munyenyezi, a Hutu mother of three who had moved to New Hampshire, was sentenced to10 years for lying about the killings and rapes she ordered as head of a roadblock in Butare, where Tutsis were stopped, checked for identification, and often murdered on the spot.

Like Teganya, Munyenyezi argued that the witnesses against her were motivated by the possibility of financial compensation or by fear of the Rwandan government.

But other scholars of the genocide said they are skeptical that the government has interfered with witnesses’ testimony.

“I have never seen any evidence of such,” said Zachary Kaufman, a senior fellow at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government and a lecturer at Stanford Law School. “It is not unexpected that an accused genocide perpetrator would try to muster any defense they could…”

At least one of the Rwandan witnesses for the prosecution in the Teganya trial has appeared in court for more than one of the cases ‘investigated’ by ICE special agent Brian Andersen. Witness statements show remarkable similarity in the kinds of details they provide and, under cross-examination, in the omissions or contradictions of their testimonies.

The reasons and process whereby Rwandan Hutus have come under the gaze of special agent Brian Andersen are very irregular, if not illegal, and the four previous cases are all interconnected. Mr. Andersen is not alone in the decision-making process that has led to the expenditure of millions of dollars for each of the five cases to be explored herein. Mr. Andersen’s ally in hunting down and persecuting innocent Rwandans in the United States includes Boston federal prosecutor Mary Kelley.

What the Boston Globe also did not report about special agent Andersen is that the Federal Court in Utah found against the Department of Homeland Security and the efforts of Brian Andersen, after the judge in the case realized that the investigation had been botched, the evidence fabricated.

Special agent Andersen and prosecutor Mary Kelley have deployed what has become standard boiler-plate language, tactics and the production of fraudulent witnesses, in the pursuit of ‘justice’ meant to satisfy the dictatorship in Rwanda and silence its critics.

Mr. Andersen and other agents have traveled frequently to Rwanda, where there is no possibility of independent research or investigation, and where ‘witnesses’ are often produced by or coerced by the Kagame regime into satisfying its interests of suffering the repercussions of violence against themselves or their families. In other cases, witnesses are promised lenience on their prison sentences or financial rewards for their cooperation. Some witnesses agree to testify to settle old scores.

“Did the government of Rwanda play any part in selecting the witnesses?” the Boston Globe on 1 April 2019 reported that Assistant U.S. Attorney Scott Garland asked Andersen this question under oath. “No, they didn’t,” Andersen replied.

Of course they did. Did special agent Thomas Brian Andersen commit perjury?

Under cross-examination on the witness stand at Mr. Teganya’s trial in Boston, special agent Brian Anderson was asked how he found the Rwandan witnesses who testified to Mr. Teganya’s alleged crimes. Special agent Andersen faltered, badly.

The Boston Globe did not report on special agent Brian Andersen’s poor performance under cross-examination.

Brian Andersen committed perjury, and it is not the first time. What happened in Utah?

Finally, after hearing some truthful testimonies by defense witnesses, and under the byline of reporter Laura Crimaldi, the Boston Globe began waking up and reporting about Jean Leonard Teganya’s character and the ordeal he survived with greater accuracy and depth.

During much of the 100-day Rwandan genocide in 1994, Jean Leonard Teganya said, crowds of victims assembled each day outside the teaching hospital in Butare — overwhelming medical staff with the severity of their wounds.

A month into the violence, Teganya, a Hutu and then a third-year medical student, said he, too, became a victim. Attackers beat him over the head and slashed his leg and ankle with a machete in a secluded area near his dormitory, he said.

Answering questions from his defense lawyer for about three hours, Teganya delved into his life story for the jury, discussing his Tutsi mother, his education at a Catholic seminary and medical school, and the chaos at the hospital in Butare, the country’s second-largest city.

Paul Kagame Terrorism Inc.

While Jean Leonard Teganya was helping the sick and wounded in Butare, and throughout the four year war, the Rwandan Patriotic Army (RPA) was perpetrating massive war crimes and crimes against humanity against anyone in their warpath. From 1990 through 1993, the RPA’s scorched earth policy decimated entire villages in northern Rwanda, and this is where the RPA began its slow march to conquer territory across Rwanda. As the RPA continued its steady war of terrorism, hundreds of thousands of refugees were uprooted from homes and villages, forced to become refugees in their own country.

Northern Rwanda is an area of the country where the masses–mostly Hutu, but also some Tutsis and Twa–shared a collective history of generations of extreme violence and injustice suffered at the hands of the Tutsi aristocracy that once ruled the kingdom from central Rwanda.

Paul Kagame and the other Tutsi guerrilla invaders from Uganda were raised on stories of how their noble Tutsi ancestors were the benevolent benefactors of the Rwandan masses. The masses in this case included the predominant Hutu population of over 80-90%, with between 10 and 10% Tutsi, and about 1% Twa. The ethnic categories take on little meaning when one begins to comprehend the nature of the Tutsi aristocracy, their client-patron relations, systems of reward and punish, shifting allegiances and alliances.

The RPA was backed by powerful foreign allies, and their atrocities were whitewashed by the international media and the academics that have always peddled the Tutsis as victims narrative. This narrative was constructed in large part by the human rights establishment, following the lead of the London-based non-government organization African Rights.

From 1990 on, RPA terror cells began infiltrating Kigali, the capital, and all other areas of Rwanda, and with them came atrocities that were frequently blamed on the Habyarimana government. These included assassinations, massacres and disappearances. By March 1993, Rwanda’s internally displaced persons (IDPs) population exceeded one million people.

Hungry, homeless, out of work and money, suffering horrible trauma, despair and the sadness and grief of having lost family members whose lives (and deaths) were further defiled by the inability of survivors to property attend to burials and burial customs. The RPA practiced a scorched earth policy. They did not want to have to administer a territory or deal with local populations. The RPA displaced people and villages, shelled IDP camps, machine gunned huge crowds of people that they first lured into public spaces, and then they marched on. They killed some captives, buried them in mass graves, incinerated them in hugs ovens, baked them to death in tractor-trailer shipping containers, bulldozed them into the forests, and used survivors as porters to transport ammunition, dig trenches, cook their meals, serve as their sexual slaves, and they usually shot them in the end no matter.

As the RPA occupation of Rwanda continued, the Hutu majority government of Juvenal Habyarimana was framed for genocide against Tutsis in Rwanda as early as 1993, while the RPA enjoyed increasing authority, power-sharing and impunity for the horrible and widespread atrocities that were being committed in broad daylight, under cover of night, in villages, in prefectures, across the country in the form of targeted assassinations and other dirty tricks. Trained at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, Paul Kagame was schooled in art of ruthless, lethal, contemporary guerrilla insurgency.

Racketeering? Perjury? Conspiracy?

It is important to first realize that special agent Brian Andersen apparently has some kind of special mission to hunt down, arrest and extradite anyone that the Kagame regime accuses of participation in genocide.

One of Mr. Andersen’s fellow Hutu hunter’s is the federal prosecutor Mary Kelley, also based out of Boston Massachusetts.

Kelley and Andersen worked together to frame, arrest, prosecute and imprison Prudence Kantengwa (Boston, MA) and Beatrice Munyenyezi (Manchester, New Hampshire) the sisters of Jean Marie Vianney Higiro.

Paul Kagame has been trying to get his hands on Jean Marie Vianney Higiro since Higiro fled Rwanda in 1994. The former director of the RWandan Office of Information (ORINFOR) during the Habyarimana regime, Higiro and his daughter, a U.S. citizen, were evacuated from Rwanda on 7 April 1994 by U.S. marines who escorted them to Bujumbura, Burundi, and then flew them to Nairobi Kenya on route to the USA.

The trial of Beatrice Munyenyezi was also fraught with irregularities. One of these was the prosecution’s introduction of formerly highly classified satellite images taken by U.S. intelligence reconnaissance satellites during flyovers of Rwanda in June 1994. These photos were introduced by a Pentagon analyst. Their existence had never previously been disclosed.

In his opening statements in a Concord, New Hampshire (USA) courthouse on February 23, 2012, federal prosecutor John Capin launched the U.S. government’s trial against a 41 year-old Rwandan so-called ‘genocide fugitive’ by wielding satellite photographs purportedly showing the road blocks where she “commanded extremist Hutu militia and ordered the rapes and killings of Tutsi” in Rwanda in 1994.

In a remarkable development, this is the first time in the history of the ‘Rwanda genocide’ trials or related Rwanda asylum hearings where Pentagon satellite photographs have been produced as evidence, and the first time that the existence of satellite photographs taken over Rwanda during the so-called ‘100 days of genocide’ has ever been verified.

Later in the Munyenyezi trial the U.S. prosecutors produced a ‘Pentagon analyst’ who testified about the satellite photographs. The Pentagon analyst was Mr. Eric R. Benn, Technical Executive, Analysis and Production Directorate, National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA). The photographs introduced into the public record include very high resolution images shot over Rwanda in May, June and July of 1994.

Under cross-examination during the Munyenyezi trial, the Pentagon analyst admitted that other photos–that would have exonerated the accused–existed, but after a hastily arranged court recess the analyst changed his story declaring that no such photos existed.

“My sister and her attorneys were denied access to exculpatory evidence that consists of satellite photo taken in April 1994.” Jean Marie Vianney Higiro has watched as his sisters have been framed and attempts have been made to frame him. “The photos that the Pentagon submitted to the court were taken in June, and they do not show any roadblocks. The defense attorney for Beatrice asked if there were photos taken in April [1994] because that’s when they [prosecution] said the roadblocks were there. The gentleman from the Pentagon said yes these photos existed. Then there was a break in the trial. When the trial resumed the gentleman said the photos did not exist. These photos [April and early May] would have shown that there were no roadblocks when my sister was allegedly checking ID cards. They were denied exculpatory evidence.”

Declassified Pentagon photos purportedly showing the location of (nonexistent) road-blocks in Butare that were produced in the case of United States v. Prudence Kantengwa.

Brian Andersen played some role in advancing the false story of roadblocks in Butare, where Beatrice Munyenyezi was alleged to have been checking IDs to single out Tutsis to be raped or killed, and he thus played a role in framing Beatrice Munyenyezi.

On June 22, 2010 a Search and Seizure Warrant was approved by the U.S. District Court in New Hampshire for the purpose of invading the Manchester N.H. home of Beatrice Munyenyezi.

The warrant was based on the affidavit of Thomas Brian Andersen, Jr., the same ICE Special Agent involved in the case of Jean Leonard Teganya. In his affidavit, Andersen distilled the Hutu/Tutsi conflict in Rwanda down to a few essential details that helped to frame Beatrice Munyenyezi as a genocidaire.

When the story of Munyenyezi’s arrest was reported in Boston Magazine, ICE special agent Brian Andersen was the hero and Beatrice Munyenyezi was “The Monster Next Door.”

Beatrice Munyenyezi claimed she was a refugee from the Rwandan genocide,” wrote Boston Magazine. “Federal agent Brian Andersen suspected she was someone far more sinister.

Compounding the injustice against Jean Marie Vianney Higiro and his family, ICE agents had Prudence Kantengwa arrested and tried for perjury based on the non-existent roadblocks story. When ICE agents interviewed Kantengwa, they claimed, she did not mention the roadblocks in Butare that became the pivotal (though falsified) evidence against Beatrice Munyenyezi. Kantengwa did not mention the roadblocks because they did not exist. Kantengwa was nonetheless adjudged guilty of perjury.

Both Prudence Kantengwa and Beatrice Munyenyezi were denied exculpatory evidence and both remain in prison today.

Prudence Kantengwa was further judged guilty of perjury on account of her alleged failure to mention that her husband, Athanase Munyemana, was a member of the MRND party. Note, this is one of the boiler plate accusations used against many Rwandans falsely accused by the regime in Rwanda and by the U.S. asylum courts. First, for decades Rwanda was a one-party dictatorship where membership in the government MRND party was obligatory. Second, Althase Munyemana was a state prosecutor in Rwanda who had been transferred to the Service Central de Renseignements (Central Intelligence Services). As a prosecutor, sent by a government minister to work for the CIS, Munyemana was forbidden by Rwandan law from joining any political party.

Federal prosecutor Mary Kelley apparently also worked for Homeland Security, at which time she had both the Kantengwa and Munyenyezi cases referred to the District Attorney. Kelley was also the federal prosecutor in the case against Prudence Kantengwa. Kelley tried to connect Jean Marie Vianney Higiro to both of his sisters’ cases–to frame him as well. This was clearly a direct collaboration with the Kagame regime.

In October 2017, during the Kantengwa trial, federal prosecutor Mary Kelley was forced to disclose a report written by one of her [the prosecution’s] expert witnesses that Kelley disclosed was funded by the Rwandan government.

Another of Mary Kelley and Brian Andersen’s comrades in their Hutu hunting quest is Eugenie Mukeshimana, a Rwandan Tutsi woman who is clearly a paid activist/lobbyist for the Kagame regime. As one Rwandan confided privately: “this is one of Kagame’s hired guns.”

Working in some very irregular capacity as an “interpreter”, Ms. Mukeshimana is also some kind of special adviser to the federal prosecutors in Boston.

Eugenie Mukeshimana has appeared in federal court every day, advising the federal prosecutors at the trial of Jean Leonard Teganya.

Eugenie Mukeshimana has a substantial Internet presence, and she is known by rwandan nationals (with U.S. citizenship) for her pro-regime activism in political and legal circles in Boston, Washington, New York and New Jersey.

Jean Marie Vianney Higiro remains under constant surveillance and monitoring by the Department of Homeland Security and Federal Bureau of Investigation.

On 9 November 2016, the day after the U.S. presidential elections were decided, two F.B.I. agents appeared at the home of Dr. Jean Marie Vianney Higiro. This was only 12 hours after Donald Trump was elected. While the agents failed to observe protocol by reading Dr. Higiro his Miranda Rights, Dr. Higiro was nonetheless cooperative and invited the two agents into his home. He also answered all their questions for over an hour.

The Obama administration had clearly made some deal with Paul Kagame, and it was time to clean house and tidy up unfinished business during the last days of Obama’s lame-duck presidency.

“I thought they were going to arrest me,” Dr. Higiro says. “It’s not over. Who knows what’s going to happen.”

Taxpayers in the United States should demand that a Federal Grand Jury be convened to investigate the corruption, perjury, racketeering and conspiracy being perpetrated in bogus Rwanda genocide asylum trials.

The following people (not an exhaustive list) should be deposed under oath:

  • ICE agent Thomas Brian Andersen
  • ICE agent Kevin Cronin (who has also traveled to Rwanda, works with Andersen to frame refugees and U.S. citizens of Rwandan origins)
  • ICE agent Jordan Regan
  • U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services agent Meghann Boyle
  • Federal prosecutor Mary Kelley
  • Federal Prosecutor Andew Lelling
  • Federal Prosecutor George Varghese
  • Homeland Security Investigations agent Jeffrey Stillings
  • Rwandan “interpreter” and RPA agent Eugenie Mukeshimana
  • MSF doctor and RPA agent Rony Zachariah

How many scores or hundreds of millions of U.S. taxpayers dollars are being spent on these fraudulent trials?

The fifteen-day trial of Beatrice Munyenyezi in February and March 2012 was concluded with four additional days of deliberations by an all-white jury. On 15 March 2012 the jury delivered a deadlocked decision and the U.S. government declared a ‘mistrial’. The re-trial began 10 September 2012.

Mark Howard, one of Beatrice Munyenyezi’s attorneys, revealed to the press the huge sums of money spent by the U.S Judiciary to try Rwandan genocide suspects.

Howard estimated that U.S. taxpayers paid between US$ 2.5 million and $US 3 million for Munyenyezi’s first 2012 prosecution and trial in federal court. Howard estimated (at the time) that the second 2012 retrial was likely to cost an additional US$ 1 million.

Howard’s estimates include attorney fees, agent salaries, the ‘extraordinary expense’ of investigating in a foreign country, the costs of bringing some fifteen witnesses to New Hampshire, and the hiring of experts.

In the case of Jean Leonard Teganya, some 15 witnesses appeared for the prosecution, with at least 18 witnesses for the defense. Most of these witnesses were flown in from other countries.

The combined costs of the four or five trials mentioned herein must have (or will) exceed $15 million dollars.

According to ICE statistics from 2017:

The investigation leading to Teganya’s arrest was conducted by special agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Boston and supported by ICE’s Boston Office of the Chief Counsel and ICE’s Human Rights Violators and War Crimes Center (HRVWCC). Established in 2009 to further ICE’s efforts to identify, track, and prosecute human rights abusers, the HRVWCC leverages the expertise of a select group of agents, lawyers, intelligence and research specialists, historians, and analysts who direct the agency’s broader enforcement efforts against these offenders.

Since 2003, ICE has arrested more than 380 individuals for human rights-related violations of the law under various criminal and immigration statutes. During that same period, ICE obtained deportation orders against and physically removed 785 known or suspected human rights violators from the United States. Additionally, ICE has facilitated the departure of an additional 108 such individuals from the United States.

Currently, HSI has more than 160 active investigations into suspected human rights violators and is pursuing more than 1,750 leads and removals cases involving suspected human rights violators from 95 different countries. Since 2003, the HRVWCC has issued more than 70,400 lookouts for individuals from more than 110 countries and stopped 213 human rights violators and war crimes suspects from entering the U.S.

Souls on Ice

ICE special agent Brian Andersen appeared as an expert witness during an immigration hearing in Salt Lake City, Utah. On trial was a woman named Agnes Mukantagara, a Rwandan refugee who was forced to seek asylum at the U.S. Embassy in Kigali, Rwanda, after coming under threat by the Kagame regime. Agnes Mukantagara was working for the U.S. Embassy at the time of her falling out with the regime, and the U.S. Embassy facilitated her admission into the United States.

Agnes Mukantagara appeared in Boston in an immigration hearing involving Prudence Kantengwa. Homeland security operative and federal prosecutor Mary Kelley spotted Agnes Mukantagara and Beatrice Munyenyezi sitting in the courtroom and Kelley pressed ICE to launch an investigation to find out who they were and ascertain their immigration status.

On the witness stand at the Mukantagara trial in Salt Lake City, special Agent Brian Andersen reportedly admitted that Agnes Mukantagara’s case originated in Boston after she appeared in federal court as a witness in Prudence Kantengwa’s case. Andersen also reportedly said he was sent to Kigali to investigate Mukantagara.

In Kigali, Rwanda’s national commission created to hunt down genocidaires provided special agent Andersen with an office where he could work and interview potential witnesses. The government commission brought witnesses to that office for special agent Andersen to interview–witnesses selected to provide Andersen with information that would serve the regime’s interests.

When asked under oath if he had moved outside of the office to perform his duties and gather information special agent Brian Andersen reportedly said ‘no.’ When asked whether he knew that Agnes Mukantagara’s first husband had been murdered by the RPA, Mr. Andersen reportedly said ‘no.’ When askd whether he had met Mukantagara’s relatives during his stay in Kigali, he reportedly said ‘no.’ When asked whether he knew that the government commission trains and schools witnesses, special agent Brian Andersen reportedly said ‘no.’

Later it came to light that Mary Kelley has undertaken her own special research project to learn what she could about Agnes Mukantagara. In so doing, Kelley discovered that one Agnes Mukantagara was tried by one of Rwanda’s public Gacaca Tribunals. Agnes Mukantagara was found guilty of genocide, but not as an organizer, and she was sentenced to life imprisonment. (See, for example: John Quigley, The Genocide Convention: An International Law Analysis, Routledge, 2016: p. 35)

Mary Kelley apparently used the information she so proudly discovered about Agnes Mukantagara, one convicted of genocide at a Gacaca Tribunal in Rwanda, to help make the case against Agnes Mukantagara, one who fled from the threat of the RPA to the U.S. Embassy in Kigali, in Salt Lake City, Utah.

There are/were two Rwandan women with the name Agnes Mukantagara.

Based on Kelly’s tip, the Rwandan regime set about to manufacture a dossier against Agnes Mukantagara. The whole case began in court in Boston, under the ever vigilant Hutu hunting eyes of prosecutor Mary Kelley and special agent Brian Andersen.

After Brian Andersen’s testimony in Salt Lake City, under cross-examination by the defense, the judge found in favor of Agnes Mukantagara’s request for asylum, ruling against the Department of Homeland Security. The DHS, of course, immediately filled an appeal.

Photography Credits: Keith Harmon Snow

“The Essence of Being Palestinian”: What the Great March of Return is Really About

The aims of the Great March of Return protests, which began in Gaza on March 30, 2018 are to put an end to the suffocating Israeli siege and implementing the Right of Return for Palestinian refugees who were expelled from their homes and towns in historic Palestine 70 years earlier.

But there is much more to the March of Return than a few demands, especially bearing in mind the high human cost associated with it.

According to Gaza’s Ministry of Health, over 250 people have been killed and 6,500 wounded, including children, medics and journalists.

Aside from the disproportionately covered ‘flaming kites’ and youth symbolically cutting through the metal fences that have besieged them for many years, the March has been largely non-violent. Despite this, Israel has killed and maimed protesters with impunity.

A UN human rights commission of inquiry found last month that Israel may have committed war crimes against protesters, resulting in the killing of 189 Palestinians within the period March 30 and December 31, 2018.

The inquiry found “reasonable grounds to believe that Israeli snipers shot at children, medics and journalists, even though they were clearly recognizable as such,” the investigators concluded as reported by BBC online.

Many in the media, however, still do not understand what the Great March of Return really means for Palestinians.

A cynically titled report in the Washington Post attempted to offer an answer. The article, “Gazans have paid in blood for a year of protests. Now many wonder what it was for,” selectively quoted wounded Palestinians who, supposedly, feel that their sacrifices were in vain.

Aside from providing the Israeli military with a platform to blame the Hamas Movement for the year-long march, the long report ended with these two quotes:

The March of Return “achieved nothing,” according to one injured Palestinian.

“The only thing I can find is that it made people pay attention,” said another.

If the Washington Post paid attention, it would have realized that the mood among Palestinians is neither cynical nor despairing.

The Post should have wondered: if the march ‘achieved nothing’, why were Gazans still protesting, and the popular and inclusive nature of the March has not been compromised?

“The Right of Return is more than a political position,” said Sabreen al-Najjar, the mother of young Palestinian medic, Razan, who, on June 1, 2018, was fatally shot by the Israeli army while trying to help wounded Palestinian protesters. It is “more than a principle: wrapped up in it, and reflected in literature and art and music, is the essence of what it means to be Palestinian. It is in our blood.”

Indeed, what is the ‘Great March of Return’ but a people attempting to reclaim their role, and be recognized and heard in the struggle for the liberation of Palestine?

What is largely missing from the discussion on Gaza is the collective psychology behind this kind of mobilization, and why it is essential for hundreds of thousands of besieged people to rediscover their power and understand their true position, not as hapless victims, but as agents of change in their society.

The narrow reading, or the misrepresentation of the March of Return, speaks volumes about the overall underestimation of the role of the Palestinian people in their struggle for freedom, justice and national liberation, extending for a century.

The story of Palestine is the story of the Palestinian people, for they are the victims of oppression and the main channel of resistance, starting with the Nakba – the creation of Israel on the ruins of Palestinian towns and villages in 1948. Had Palestinians not resisted, their story would have concluded then, and they, too, would have disappeared.

Those who admonish Palestinian resistance or, like the Post, fail to understand the underlying value of popular movement and sacrifices, have little understanding of the psychological ramifications of resistance – the sense of collective empowerment and hope which spreads amongst the people. In his introduction to Frantz Fanon’s Wretched of the Earth, Jean-Paul Sartre describes resistance, as it was passionately vindicated by Fanon, as a process through which “a man is re-creating himself.”

For 70 years, Palestinians have embarked on that journey of the re-creation of the self. They have resisted, and their resistance in all of its forms has molded a sense of collective unity, despite the numerous divisions that were erected amongst the people.

The March of Return is the latest manifestation of the ongoing Palestinian resistance.

It is obvious that elitist interpretations of Palestine have failed – Oslo proved a worthless exercise in empty clichés, aimed at sustaining American political dominance in Palestine as well as in the rest of the Middle East.

But the signing of the Oslo Accord in 1993 shattered the relative cohesiveness of the Palestinian discourse, thus weakening and dividing the Palestinian people.

In the Israeli Zionist narrative, Palestinians are depicted as drifting lunatics, an inconvenience that hinders the path of progress – a description that regularly defined the relationship between every western colonial power and the colonized, resisting natives.

Within some Israeli political and academic circles, Palestinians merely ‘existed’ to be ‘cleansed’, to make room for a different, more deserving people. From the Zionist perspective, the ‘existence’ of the natives is meant to be temporary. “We must expel Arabs and take their place,” wrote Israel’s founding father, David Ben Gurion.

Assigning the roles of dislocated, disinherited and nomadic to the Palestinian people, without consideration for the ethical and political implications of such a perception, has erroneously presented Palestinians as a docile and submissive collective.

Hence, it is imperative that we develop a clearer understanding of the layered meanings behind the Great March of Return. Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians in Gaza did not risk life and limb over the last year simply because they required urgent medicine and food supplies.

Palestinians did so because they understand their centrality in their struggle. Their protests are a collective statement, a cry for justice, an ultimate reclamation of their narrative as a people – still standing, still powerful and still hopeful after 70 years of Nakba, 50 years of military occupation and 12 years of unrelenting siege.

The Moral Travesty of Israel Seeking Arab, Iranian Money for its Alleged Nakba

The game is afoot. Israel, believe it or not, is demanding that seven Arab countries and Iran pay $250 billion as compensation for what it claims was the forceful exodus of Jews from Arab countries during the late 1940s.

The events that Israel is citing allegedly occurred at a time when Zionist Jewish militias were actively uprooting nearly one million Palestinian Arabs and systematically destroying their homes, villages and towns throughout Palestine.

The Israeli announcement, which reportedly followed “18 months of secret research” conducted by the Israeli government’s Ministry of Social Equality, should not be filed under the ever-expanding folder of shameless Israeli misrepresentations of history.

It is part of a calculated effort by the Israeli government, and namely by Minister Gila Gamliel, to create a counter-narrative to the rightful demand for the ‘Right of Return’ for Palestinian refugees ethnically cleansed by Jewish militias between 1947-1948.

But there is a reason behind the Israeli urgency to reveal such questionable research: the relentless US-Israeli attempt in the last two years to dismiss the rights of Palestinian refugee rights, to question their numbers and to marginalize their grievances. It is all part and parcel of the ongoing plot disguised as the ‘Deal of the Century’, with the clear aim of removing from the table all major issues that are central to the Palestinian struggle for freedom.

“The time has come to correct the historic injustice of the pogroms (against Jews) in seven Arab countries and Iran, and to restore, to hundreds of thousands of Jews who lost their property, what is rightfully theirs,” said Gamliel.

The language – “.. to correct the historic injustice” – is no different from language used by Palestinians who have for 70 years and counting been demanding the restoration of their rights per United Nations Resolution 194.

The deliberate conflating between the Palestinian narrative and the Zionist narrative is aimed at creating parallels, with the hope that a future political agreement would resolve to having both grievances cancel each other out.

Contrary to what Israeli historians want us to believe, there was no mass exodus of Jews from Arab countries and Iran, but rather a massive campaign orchestrated by Zionist leaders at the time to replace the Palestine Arab population with Jewish immigrants from all over the world. The ways through which such a mission was achieved often involved violent Zionist plots – especially in Iraq.

In fact, the call on Jews to gather in Israel from all corners of the world remains the rally cry for Israeli leaders and their Christian Evangelical supporters – the former wants to ensure a Jewish majority in the state, while the latter is seeking to fulfill a biblical condition for their long-awaited Armageddon.

To hold Arabs and Iran responsible for this bizarre and irresponsible behavior is a transgression on the true history in which neither Gamliel nor her ministry are interested.

On the other hand, and unlike what Israeli military historians often claim, the ethnic cleansing of Palestine in 1947- 48 (and the subsequent purges of the native population that followed in 1967) was a premeditated act of ethnic cleansing and genocide. It has been part of a long-drawn and carefully calculated campaign that, from the very start, served as the main strategy at the heart of the Zionist movement’s ‘vision’ for the Palestinian people.

“We must expel the Arabs and take their place,” wrote Israel’s founder, military leader and first prime minister, David Ben Gurion in a letter to his son, Amos in October 5, 1937. That was over a decade before Plan D – which saw the destruction of the Palestinian homeland at the hands of Ben Gurion’s militias – went into effect.

Palestine “contains vast colonization potential,” he also wrote, “which the Arabs neither need nor are qualified to exploit.”

This clear declaration of a colonial project in Palestine, communicated with the same kind of unmistakable racist insinuations and language that accompanied all western colonial experiences throughout the centuries was not unique to Ben Gurion. He was merely paraphrasing what was, by then, understood to be the crux of the Zionist enterprise in Palestine at the time.

As Palestinian professor Nur Masalha concluded in his book, the ‘Expulsion of the Palestinians’, the idea of the ‘transfer’ – the Zionist term for “ethnic cleansing’ of the Palestinian people – was, and remains, fundamental in the realization of Zionist ambitions in Palestine.

Palestinian Arab “villages inside the Jewish state that resist ‘should be destroyed .. and their inhabitants expelled beyond the borders of the Jewish state,” Masalha wrote quoting the ‘History of the Haganah’ by Yehuda Slutsky. .

What this meant in practice, as delineated by Palestinian historian, Walid Khalidi was the joint targeting by various Jewish militias to systematically attack all population centers in Palestine, without exception.

“By the end of April (1948), the combined Haganah-Irgun offensive had completely encircled (the Palestinian city of) Jaffa, forcing most of the remaining civilians to flee by sea to Gaza or Egypt; many drowned in the process, ” Khalidi wrote in Before Their Diaspora.

This tragedy has eventually grown to affect all Palestinians, everywhere within the borders of their historic homeland. Tens of thousands of refugees joined up with hundreds of thousands more at various dusty trails throughout the country, growing in numbers as they walked further, to finally pitch their tents in areas that, then were meant to be ‘temporary’ refugee encampments. Alas, these became the Palestinian refugee camps of today, starting some 70 years ago.

None of this was accidental. The determination of the early Zionists to establish a ‘national home’ for Jews at the expense of the country’s Palestinian Arab nation was communicated, openly, clearly and repeatedly throughout the formation of early Zionist thoughts, and the translation of those well-articulated ideas into physical reality.

70 years have passed since the Nakba’ – the ‘Catastrophe’ of 1948 – and neither Israel took responsibility for its action, nor Palestinian refugees received any measure of justice, however small or symbolic.

For Israel to be seeking compensation from Arab countries and Iran is a moral travesty, especially as Palestinian refugees continue to languish in refugee camps across Palestine and the Middle East.

Yes, indeed “the time has come to correct the historic injustice,” not of Israel’s alleged ‘pogroms’ carried out by Arabs and Iranians, but the real and most tragic destruction of Palestine and its people.

Palangkaraya: Dreaming about the “Soviety” Capital of Indonesia and the US-Backed Killing Fields

Believe it or not, but decades ago, Indonesia was a socialist country, the cradle of the ‘Non-Aligned Movement’, with the progressive and fiery President Soekarno leading the nation. The Communist Party of Indonesia (PKI) was then the third largest Communist Party in the world, after those of China and the Soviet Union, and was it not for the US-orchestrated coup of 1965; it would easily have won elections in 1966, democratically and comfortably.

President Soekarno landed

All the key natural resources of Indonesia were in the hands of its people and the government; firmly and uncompromisingly. Indonesia was becoming one of the world leaders: still a poor country, but optimistic, determined and full of hope.

Soekarno was a dreamer, and so were his Communist comrades.

But besides being a ‘political poet’, Soekarno was also a pragmatic civil engineer, who knew a thing or two about both architecture and city planning.

One of his great visions born at the end of the 1950’s was to build a brand-new capital for his enormous country of thousands of islands. It is believed that one day he calculated the precise location of the ‘geographical center’ of Indonesia, inserted a pin there, and declared that this is where the new ibu kota (capital or ‘mother’ city) would be constructed.

The proverbial pin had marked the area which, in reality, was in the middle of the impenetrable jungle of Kalimantan (Indonesian part of Borneo), some 200 kilometers from the nearest city of some size – Banjarmasin.

Before construction began in 1957, there was only a village – Pahandut – soon to become the capital of the new Autonomous Region of Central Kalimantan, with Soekarno’s comrade, Tjilik Riwut accepting the role of the first governor. One year later, however, the future city was renamed, becoming Palangkaraya.

The task of designing the urban area came from Comrade Semaun, who was one of the founders and the first chairman of the PKI. He graduated from the ‘Communist University of the Toilers of the East’ in the Soviet Union. He often performed tasks of a city planner and, together with Soekarno, he was determined to erect the ‘second Moscow’ in the middle of Kalimantan/Borneo, with magnificent research centers, theatres, concert halls, libraries, museums and public transportation, as well as fountains, wide avenues, squares, parks and promenades.

Soviet architects, engineers and workers, (but also teachers) were invited to help with this mammoth task.

In the middle of the wilderness, between two tropical rivers, Kahayan and Sabangau, one of the greatest Asian projects of all times was slowly beginning to take shape.

President Soekarno inaugurating future capital city

It was launched by President Soekarno himself, who on 17 July 1957 marked the inauguration of the monument in the middle of a new roundabout, which was expected to become the very center of the new city, of the new province, and eventually of the entire Republic of Indonesia (RI).

The project started to move forward, feverishly, and enthusiastically. Soviets, side-by-side with their Indonesian comrades, were building roads and erecting structures.

There were even plans to construct tunnels, practically bomb shelters, against potential attacks by the Malaysian and British forces; tunnels which could, at some point, be further deepened, widened and serve as the basic infrastructure for the underground public transportation of the city (metro).

The revolutionary zeal of Soekarno’s idealism was igniting both local and foreign (Soviet) builders. It was that chaotic but marvelous ‘nation and character-building’ period often described by the greatest Indonesian novelist Pramoedya Ananta Toer – without any doubt the greatest era of the otherwise gloomy history of the archipelago.

*****

Then, suddenly, full stop!

On September 30/ October 1, 1965, the West, together with treasonous Indonesian military cadres led by General Suharto and by the religious cadres, overthrew the young socialist democracy, and installed one of the most brutal fascist dictatorships of the 20th century.

What followed was genocide. The country lost between 1-3 million intellectuals, Communists, atheists, artists and teachers. Rivers were clogged with corpses, women and children gang-raped, almost all progressive culture banned, together with the Chinese and Russian languages.

Communism and atheism were banned, too. Even words like ‘class’ were forbidden, together with the Chinese dragons, cakes and red lamps.

The Palangkaraya ‘project’ came to an abrupt halt. Soekarno was put under house arrest in Bogor palace, where he later died.

Soviet engineers and workers were flown to Jakarta and unceremoniously deported. All Indonesians who came in touch with them, without exception, were either killed, or ‘at least’ detained for a minimum of one year; interrogated in detention, tortured and in the case of women, raped.

The ‘Killing fields’ were not only in Java, but also both north and west of the city of Palangkaraya.

The master plan, drawings, in fact, almost all information related to the ‘second Moscow’ in the middle of Borneo, suddenly ‘disappeared’.

Palangkaraya is now geographically the largest city in Indonesia, but it counts on only about 250,000 inhabitants.

Like all other cities of the archipelago, it has inadequate infrastructure, notorious absence of cultural life, and it is dotted with miserable slums. It has absolutely no public transportation.

Big dreams fully collapsed. But not only that: now, almost no one in the city or anywhere in the country, is even aware of those grandiose plans of the past, of that enormous project to build a ‘different Indonesia’. A truly independent, anti-imperialist country led by President Soekarno and the Communist Party of Indonesia (PKI), has died; was smashed to pieces. The stepping down of General Suharto changed nothing. No renaissance of socialism ever arrived. The Communist Party and thoughts are still banned.

*****

While working on a documentary film about the natural devastation and collapse of the third largest island on earth – Borneo – we came to Palangkaraya, the first time, in October 2018.

What impressed us the most was how thoroughly the regime has wiped out everything related to the city’s past.

People were scared to talk, or they simply ‘did not know’. As I recorded on film, children knew absolutely nothing about the past, except those few deceptive and primitive barks that were forcibly injected into their brains.

We searched, but could not find any detailed references or drawings – here, or even in Jakarta, Bandung and abroad. All gone!

Obviously, the great past of Indonesia remains classified, as ‘top secret’. It is because the contrast between the revolutionary dreams and monstrous present-day reality, is too great and potentially, ‘too explosive’.

*****

Pararapak Village, South Barito District, Central Kalimantan Province.

Mr. Lanenson, a 78 years old Dayak man appears to be the only person who can still ‘remember’, and is willing to talk openly about the Soviet people and their involvement in this country.

Mr. Lanenson (Photo:  Andre Vltchek)

Mr. Lanenson is a strong, determined man; he is proud. His face is animated, and he speaks loudly, passionately, as almost all progressive men of his generation (be it the greatest Indonesian writer Pramoedya Ananta Toer who has already passed away, or the extremely talented Javanese painter Djokopekik who is still active and full of spite towards the present regime), are capable of speaking.

He worked with the Soviets, closely, side-by-side, like a comrade. Before 1965, he was employed by the Kalimantan road project agency (PROJAKAL), in the human resource division.

Soviets building new capital in middle of jungle

And he was one of those who were later arrested, jailed and brutally interrogated, simply because he interacted with the Soviet citizens, and because he was trying to build, together with his foreign friends, a much better Indonesia. He spent an entire year in Suharto’s prisons, without one single charge being officially brought against him.

After the coup of 1965 which took place in Jakarta, there were arrests and massacres of people who were suspected of being related to the PKI, or for being ‘Soekarnoists’. Everyone related to Russia had been taken away. I was held in a detention camp in Palangkaraya.

Army treated prisoners inhumanely. Every morning we woke up and were beaten and shouted at. Guards were brutalizing us.

Mr. Lenenson’s eyes were shining with excitement when his mind began wandering to the bygone days before 1965:

Russians, they are very hard-working and good people; they were never confrontational towards the local people. I even remember all little details about spending time with the Russian people. In the afternoon after we finished working, we played badminton and sometimes football, together. At times, Russian friends would ask me to catch a wild pig, a boar, so we could roast and eat it together. I still remember the name of a Russian teacher -Ms. Valentina. But Muslims were very confrontational even then; some were ‘anti-Soviet’, only because most of the Soviet people were not religious.

Does he still remember the enthusiasm of Soekarno era; the ‘different Indonesia’ of dreams, hard work, and of ‘nation and character building’?

The optimism and enthusiasm were there; I felt it when working together with the Soviet people, building the city of Palangkaraya.

He also strongly believes that if the coup of 1965 had not happened, Palangkaraya would be an absolutely different place.

He spoke a few words in Russian to me – simple and disconnected words, but surprisingly, with perfect pronunciation. Rabota – work. Zdrastvuite– good day…

At one point, it began to rain. A heavy, tropical downpour. I could not record well, but he was unwilling to stop.

“You can stay overnight,” he suggested.

‘Like in Afghanistan’, I thought, ‘whenever I work there and begin to speak Russian’, people want to host me, feed me. They want to speak and remember. Because the dreams of the past is all they have left now.

*****

Back in Palangkaraya, Ms. Ida, Tjilik Riwut’s daughter, sits in café that she owns, surrounded by black and white photos of her father, the former governor of the province, who is in them working, speaking and travelling together with President Soekarno and various other top officials, as well as with many common local people.

She and her daughter Putri, do not know much about the 1965 massacres. Or they say they don’t know. Many topics, including this one, are fully taboo, until now. Or especially now, that the island of Borneo is thoroughly ruined, mined out, deforested and poisoned by foreign corporations and local thugs described as ‘businessmen’; those who got into the driving seat after the 1965 genocide. Perhaps, they simply do not want to address the topic. I will never find out. Whatever it really is, ‘they don’t know’.

But Ms. Ida speaks, openly, about the days when the city was born:

I still remember when the Russian engineers were building the infrastructure here. Palangkaraya was built from zero. Russians, together with the local Dayak people, were cutting through the forest, putting tremendous effort converting wilderness into the city.

Behind her back is an old photo of her father, with his famous quote engraved on top of it:

It is my obligation, to fight for this region, and it is also my obligation to listen to the voices of the people. It is because we are servants of the people and our nation.

We hear basically the same things from a famous local journalist, Mr. T. T. Suan. Unfortunately, we find him bed-ridden, in grave medical condition. We do not want to disturb him, but his family insisted that we come in and sit at the edge of his bed. During the exchange, his daughter held his hand and shouted into his one good ear (he is deaf in the other ear, after being beaten, brutally, after the 1965 coup, as he was accused of ‘collaborating with Tjilik Riwut’).

With weak but determined voice, he explained:

I still remember that era, when we, together with the Soviets, were building progressive Palangkaraya City. This was era full of enthusiasm and discipline. Yes, Russians really taught us about discipline: when we came to the office in the morning, and planned our activities, you could bet that by night, everything would be implemented.

We asked him about the disappeared master plan of the city.

Lost in dreams, he began recalling details that he still remembered by heart:

The main roundabout – that is where the huge lake was supposed to be. That would be the center of the city, where all protocol roads would be growing from. Around there, the most important and impressive buildings would be located: government offices, National Hospital, library, university, museums, theatres as well as National Radio of Indonesia.

Indonesian people and the world are not supposed to know all this. But it has to be known, documented, and explained. Before it is too late, before everything disappears, before people who can still remember will pass away.

We are frantically calling and contacting the TjilikRiwut family, which is now spread all over Indonesia. We are told that some members of this family may be in possession of the master plan of the city. But we receive no reply. The master plan was either destroyed, or it was converted into a ‘top secret’ document, and is rotting somewhere in a metal safe box. The optimism of the socialist era is banned; strongly discouraged, almost never discussed. Grand public projects have been stopped, after the 1965 extreme capitalist and pro-Western regime had been injected from abroad, paralyzing the nation.

As elsewhere in Indonesia, fabrications and censorship of facts is total. Both the press and academia are complicit.

An architect and professor of the University of Palangkaraya, Wijanarka – author of a book about Soekarno’s design of Palangkaraya City (“Sukarno dan Desain RencanaI bukota RI di Palangkaraya”), avoided meeting us, refusing to comment on the political context of the story:

Just read my book. This book is about the search of architectural form of the city. But if you ask me anything related to the Soviet Union, I will tell you that I don’t know, because I only care about the architectural aspect of this, not about politics.

Obviously, a socialist, Soviet-style master plan of the city is part of the ‘politics’, as he had shown no interest in it.

*****

On our second visit to the city, an electric tower collapsed, after a storm. The entire city was covered in darkness, without electricity. It was desperately dark at night, except for ridiculously brightly-lit cigarette advertisements, banks, and a few hotels that were using their own private generators.

Collapsed electric tower in Kelampangan (Andre Vltchek photo)

When we reached the village of Kelampangan where the wreck of the high-voltage tower lay on the ground, we saw dozens of workers smoking, laughing, and doing nothing.

As a matter-of-fact, a few of them called me ‘bule’, a violently racist but very common Indonesian insult which means ‘albino’.

“We are waiting for cranes,” one of them said, after I asked why everyone was chatting, smoking and doing nothing.

Someone was flying a drone above the accident site. Police officers were laughing. The city suffered, for several days, before ‘the crane arrived’ and the line was fixed. Nobody complained. People are used to the total collapse of their island and the country. Nothing is expected, nothing is demanded from the system; in Palangkaraya, or elsewhere in Indonesia.

*****

At the library of Central Kalimantan, an employee began to speak, enthusiastically into my camera and into recorder:

At that time, after 1965, most of the educated people of the city were either killed or arrested, without any clear charges… sometimes everything was blurry: we never knew precisely what was happening in Jakarta, everything was just a rumor… There is not one single book or reference about the km 27, where the mass killings took place, or about the killings in Pararapak village… Also, in the libraries, we never saw anything resembling the master plan of the city…

Once she found out what the purpose of our visit was, and once she saw my name card, she backpedaled:

Do not use my name, you hear me? If you do, I will sue you!

*****

The village next to the Km 27 (from Palangkaraya) is called Marang. I film illegal gold mining boats or platforms, floating on the river. There is no cover, no fear of getting caught while ruining the environment, illegally.

Misery is everywhere.

Again, nobody knows anything. People are openly laughing in our faces, when we ask about the mass killings and the mass graves.

Finally, an old lady, Ms. Aminah opens the door of her wooden house and speaks about those terrible events of the 1965 coup. It is as if she was waiting for us. She came to the door, listened to our introduction and question, and began speaking:

During those times I was still a teenager. I only heard old people telling stories through the word of mouth. We, Marang villagers, did not know what really happened in Palangkaraya, or in Jakarta. We only knew, that people who were registered as the PKI were arrested and killed. I remember at that time our village was full of fear and obscurity. But here, fortunately, no one was arrested because we had no official members of the PKI.

In the building called Ureh (Gedung Ureh, in Palangkaraya City) everyone who was suspected of supporting PKI or somehow related to it, was detained. Yes, hundreds of people were detained there, with no adequate facilities. Men and women were forced to be mixed together. Some women were raped, got pregnant. Torture was common. From there, people were brought here, to KM 27, and killed.

How many? “Many, many…” She does not know, precisely. She was too young; she was too scared.

We drive to Km 27. There is a river, a ‘secondary forest’. Silence. Nobody knows. Nobody knows anything here, or in the Pararapak Village. At both places, there is dead silence, periodically interrupted by the badly tuned engines of scooters belonging to the villagers.

We found a creek where thousands of bodies were dumped. Everyone whom we approach is laughing. It is bit like in Oppenheimer’s film “Act of Killing”.

These used to be Indonesian concentration camps, of which the largest one was located on the Buru Island, where almost all the intellectuals who were not murdered, were detained after the so-called‘1965 Events’. Here, outside Palangkaraya, those who are not afraid to speak, call these smaller camps and killing fields “Buru in the rice fields”.

The West, which takes full advantage of the mass plunder of Borneo and entire Indonesia, calls this country ‘normal’, ‘democratic’ and ‘tolerant’.

*****

Balanga Museum, Palangkaraya. This was supposed to be a tremendous National Museum, if the plans of Soekarno had been implemented.

Now it is just a complex of beat-up, one storey barracks, badly kept, underfunded and understaffed.

We visited a building dedicated to the collection of photos and artifacts from the Tjilik Riwut era.

Two museum curators, or call them attendants, had absolutely no idea about how Palangkaraya was exactly built. Nothing about its master plan, not even precisely what the ‘master plan’ consists of.

“Socialist past of Indonesia?” wondered one of them, after I asked. “Actually, honestly, we do socialize here, even now.”

The senior attendant knew nothing about the mass killings in the region. When we insisted, she began looking at us with fear. She wanted us gone, far away, but was too polite to insist that we leave the premises.

The other woman began explaining about the genocide:

Everybody knows about it, but all evidence was destroyed. Stories flow from grandparents to parents, to us, children. But only stories; nothing concrete.

Pupils – girls from a local junior high, some of them 12, others 13 years old first giggled, then blushed when asked about the city and its history. They knew absolutely nothing about the past of Paklangkaraya. Asked about conditions in the city, they answered, in unison:

The city is cool!

What about the future of the city? We got pre-fabricated, ‘pop’ answers:

We hope for the future of the city full of cars, schools…

*****

The Indonesian writer J.J. Kusni, who was born in Central Kalimantan, but spent many years in France, is now back. With his wife, he lives in Palangkaraya.

So far it is not clear whether he was exiled in France, or whether he went to study in Europe and stayed there for decades. What is known is that during Orde Baru (Suharto’s fascist “New Order”) he was banned from entering Indonesia.

We met him, and he explained that now he would oppose moving the capital of Indonesia from Jakarta to Palangkaraya, because the conditions had changed, after several decades:

I believe that now Palangkaraya and Central Kalimantan have the characteristics of semi-colonies. In Seokarno times it was very different, it all made sense: if you’d move the capital to Palangkaraya, militarily, we’d have space to maneuver. And the others – Malaysia and the British – would not be able to attack us easily. Central Kalimantan is in the middle of the country.

J.J. Kusni tells us about the concentration camps, and the killing fields. He also paints a bleak picture of despair, when speaking about the present state of the city and the province.

*****

Could Palangkaraya be described as a total failure, a cemetery of dreams?

Most definitely!

Palangkaraya today

An enormous territory of the city is covered, like in the rest of the cities of Indonesia, by badly planned neighborhoods. There are slums on the banks of the rivers; brutal shanty towns, some on stilts, with no basic sanitation and the extremely sparse supply of water and electricity.

Huge mosques are being constructed everywhere.

There is no culture here, and very few public spaces.

Just a regular Indonesian city, where the “state is unable to provide basic services for its citizens” (the definition of a failed state, in theory).

Kiwok D. Rampai, a 74 years old senior archeologist, known for his many studies about the history of Central Kalimantan, especially the culture of the Dayak people, likes to speak about the optimism brought by Soekarno to Palangkaraya:

I remember Soekarno’s era as a period of high optimism and enthusiasm. Palangkaraya was built by Soekarno, together with Dayak people of Central Kalimantan, and the foreign workers, especially those from the Soviet Unions. Everything was done with great dedication…

Unfortunately, the historical studies conducted by Mr. Kiwok for decades, have not been well promoted. Allegedly there was even an attempt to eliminate the documents, most likely for political reasons.

*****

In the library, we asked whether there are many Indonesian and foreign investigators and researchers interested in the history of the city.

“No one ever comes to ask questions similar to those you asked,” is the answer.

The Soviets are gone from Palangkaraya. Their legacy had been wiped out by the loud shouts of hatred, by blood spilling, implanted ignorance and by determined propaganda and intimidation campaigns.

Nowadays the Soviet Union is no more, too, although the strong anti-imperialist Russia, in many ways, has replaced it on the global stage.

Everyone remembers the “Russian Road”, the one that leaves the circle and moves westward.

It is allowed to mention, even to glorify this well-built artery. But only if it is done ‘out of context’. “Russians built the road; good road, perhaps the best road ever built in Indonesia.” Full stop. Nothing about socialism, Communism, the Soviet Union. Nothing about Soekarno the PKI, and nothing about the anti-imperialist mood of the young, independent – yes truly independent – country.

In reality, Russians (not really ‘Russians’, but people from all parts of the Union of the Soviet Socialist Republics), came to Kalimantan in order to support the newly independent, socialist Republic of Indonesia. They came to offer internationalist help and solidarity, to build the capital city, and eventually the industry, infrastructure, hospitals and schools. That’s what the Soviets regularly did: in Africa, Vietnam, and Afghanistan or in the Middle East.

After the 1965 US-backed coup, a new sort of people came, mainly from the West, but many from Java, even from Kalimantan itself. They helped to cut down the beautiful and pristine tropical forest, flatten the mountains, poison the rivers and exterminate countless endemic local species. They planted malignant palm oil plantations. They robbed people of their land and, in fact, of everything, and they advised the Indonesian regime how to conduct ‘transmigrasi’ – the program designed to turn the native population into a minority in its own land, so they could never aim at independence. They also educated, or call it ‘re-educated’ the entire nation, including the Central Province of Kalimantan: ‘They forced the masses to love their tormentors. They turned them into obedient beings. They destroyed their ability to dream, to fly, to struggle for a better future.’

The Palangkaraya of Soekarno has collapsed. It is no more.

We tried to find a quiet place to discuss the city with the granddaughter of Tjilik Riwut, who recently returned from Jakarta.

There were two places she could think of. One was a bar filled with smoke and loud shouts, as well as monstrous rock and pop fusion ‘music’. But it was impossible to talk there, due to the decibels.

The second was in one of two semi-decent hotels. But it turned out to be a whorehouse disguised as a karaoke bar.

We ended up in the garden of our hotel.

“What do people do in this city of a quarter of million?” We wondered.

There was not much she could think about. There was not much we could think about either.

We mentioned the metro, National Theatre, huge beautiful museums, galleries, concert halls, the circus, research institutes, parks with fountains, public hospitals, and universities with well-stocked libraries: all public, all for the public. We tried to engage her in a conversation about Soekarno’s and her grandfather’s dreams.

She changed the subject.

We didn’t.

And the result is this essay, and soon a book about the great socialist dream that never came through. A dream that was silenced, smashed and smeared by nihilism, servility and selfishness. But perhaps, only for the time being.

The dream was called Palangkaraya. And it was made of tremendous stuff: of zeal, of men and women, side-by-side, altruistically, building a new capital city of their new, beloved Indonesia, in the middle of nowhere, for the people – always for the people!

This dream is too beautiful. It can never be betrayed. It should never be forgotten. And therefore, we will not allow it to be forgotten.

• First published by New Eastern Outlook (NEO)

Canadian Legal System’s Complicity in Genocide

[T]he US government no less than the government of Canada is required to obtain the consent of the Indian nations’ before assuming jurisdiction to invade, occupy and govern the yet unceded Indian national territories.

– Bruce Clark, Ongoing Genocide caused by Judicial Suppression of the “Existing” Aboriginal Rights (2018), p 25-26

I have only been physically inside a courtroom once, and that was to support a falsely accused colleague. It struck me that a typical western courtroom is set up not to exude justice but to intimidate, not just the accused but all people present, with the power of the State. The judge is invariably seated centrally on a dais, able to observe all that transpires below in the courtroom. When the judge enters, all present are required to stand, and none may be seated until permission is granted by his “honor.” When the proceedings are displeasing to her honor, she may strike a gavel on the dais to summon order in the courtroom.

Witness the power of the State: the power to mete out punishment for persons found guilty of something the State has determined to be illegal. It is a power that may be, and has been, wielded in what would be construed to be a thoroughly criminal manner in a moral universe. After all, gift giving and dancing were once deemed illegal by the Canadian State, and thus the tradition of First Nation Potlatches were banned until a sense of sanity and seeming propriety prevailed.

Such legal chicanery is not surprising to those who subscribe to Emery Dahlberg’s admonition that power corrupts.1 When law is unjust or when the punishment for wrongdoing is unjust, then the State has abused its power. The State’s power to prescribe justice can, moreover, be argued to represent State violence – in that the threat of punishment is used by the State to coerce behavioral compliance with the societal norms as dictated by the State.

To any informed person, Canada is undeniably a nation state erected on pre-existing nation states. The founding of Canada was unquestionably rooted in the genocide of the Original Peoples of the territory.2 Genocide is a heinous act often rooted in racism and supremacism. One group of humans considers itself privileged and accords itself rights, god-given or not, to the land and resources regardless of whichever people inhabit such territory or how long the territory has been the domain of its inhabitants.

That the law is not a moral construct is adduced by the fact that it has served as a vehicle for carrying out great crimes. The so-called New World was gifted by the Papal Bull Inter Caetera (1493) for division among the Spanish and Portuguese. Non-Christian savages had no rights according to the papacy. Albeit this was later superseded by the Papal Bull Sublimis Deus (1537). Nonetheless, the entirety of the western hemisphere remains controlled by elitist European settler-colonialists.3 Hence, Original Peoples find themselves stripped of sovereignty, ethnically cleansed from gargantuan swaths of unceded territory (reality check: who knowingly agrees to ceding a people’s territory anyway?), marginalized from decision-making regarding their lands, with many people having been forcibly assimilated into the dominating culture.

How to achieve actual justice for the dispossessed?

Bruce Clark is a man who made his living in the courtroom as a lawyer. He is an expert in law as applied to Indigenous peoples, having achieved a doctorate in comparative jurisprudence. Clark believes in the notion of applying law to achieve justice. Justice is a concept that is higher than the self, thus Clark took on the establishment to seek justice for his Indigenous clients. In the end he was punished for his zeal for justice.

I first became aware of Bruce Clark when he was providing counsel to the Sundancers at Ts’Peten (Gustafsen Lake). To protect the claimed rights of an American rancher to property on unceded Secwepemc territory, the provincial government resorted to para-military measures to evict the Sundancers; it was astoundingly reprehensible to me. Natural law was stood on its head by the provincial authorities. It is a matter that all “British Columbians” and “Canadians” should make themselves deeply informed about and act thereupon according to their consciences.

Bruce Clark is speaking and writing words extremely discomfiting to many non-Indigenous people. He is the author of Justice in Paradise and Native Liberty, Crown Sovereignty: The Existing Aboriginal Right of Self-Government in Canada. Just published is a collection of Clark’s subsequent writings, Ongoing Genocide caused by Judicial Suppression of the “Existing” Aboriginal Rights. In Ongoing Genocide Clark presents the legal case for Indigenous sovereignty such that the layperson can readily grasp the arguments.

Clark examines the constitutional law, international law, and case studies based on the law of the invaders. When interpreted without bias, the compelling arguments of Clark strongly refute any credence to the newcomers’ doctrine of discovery, especially over lands previously inhabited for millennia. That invader courts should have any authority in the territory invaded is, on its face, risible.

While constitutional and international law should be preeminent, in Canada writes Clark, “The modus operandi of the legal establishment and its collaborating Indian accomplices is the suppression of the constitutional and international law that the establishment intentionally is breaking.” (p 15)

The corruption in the system is political, economic, and legal. Clark finds that the legal profession and the judiciary are complicit in misprision of treason, fraud, and genocide. (p 31) The legal system has politicized law through artifices such as “the rule of judicial discretion” substituted for “the rule of law.” (p 40) Clark criticizes, “The lie, recently invented by the Supreme Court of Canada in willful blindness, is that the aboriginal right is no more than ‘the right to be consulted’…” (p 142)

The legal system has shielded itself from scrutiny in its complicity with crimes committed. Writes Clark,

Immunity anywhere signifies the non-existence of the rule of law everywhere. But again that will not happen, because like Canada the legal establishment of the United States practices the same willful blindness to the unconstitutional genocide at the historical heart of its legal system. (p 50)

A number of court decisions are mistakes, per incuriam, and are not a binding precedent, writes Clark.

Clark cites legal documents and precedents, in particular, the Royal Proclamation of 1763 which sets aside the Hunting Grounds to Indian nations in which the Indians are to be unmolested.

Clark has tried to challenge the constitutionality of Canada’s usurpation of Indigenous territory. A Catch 22 has been designed to block this. Clark relates how the Supreme Court demands a lower court ruling on the matter while the lower courts insist it is a Supreme Court matter. (p 127) It is clear to Clark that an independent, third party adjudication is required, this having already been established in the 1703 case of the Mohegan Indians v. Connecticut for Indian land claims throughout British North America.

Pressing to have his legal arguments heard and a decision rendered in court ultimately cost Clark his career as a lawyer. But this was not the end of Clark or the quest for justice.

Clark remains dangerous to the system that upholds the dispossession. A Vancouver Sun diatribe against Clark revealed this. Clark is described as “too radical for B.C. courtrooms, and too rambunctious for the Ontario bar,” and “a colourful but fatally misguided militant zealot.” Yet the critic acknowledges, “… Clark’s well-articulated ideas are definitely threatening to the status quo.”

Clark touches upon many topics in Ongoing Genocide among them the effects of Indian Residential Schools, the Indian Act, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (“… an expensive fraud upon the public but a cruel imposition upon the victims, who are encouraged to air their innermost suffering in the mistaken belief that it will lead to closure.” [p 20]), the so-called 60’s scoop of Indigenous children, and more.

The book concludes by pointing out an error in the Supreme Court Case Tsilhqot’in v. British Columbia, 2014 that is at odds with precedents such as the Royal Proclamation of 1763 and section 109 of the Constitution Act, 1867. In recent years the BC provincial government and federal government have apologized for the wrongful hanging of six Tsilhqot’in chiefs.4 Despite this, the BC government and Taseko Mines have continued to undermine Indigenous sovereignty, with repeated attempts to set up and operate a platinum mine in the Tsilhqot’in nation.

Ongoing Genocide caused by Judicial Suppression of the “Existing” Aboriginal Rights puts forward the case over which Canadian law courts dare not deliberate. That should not preclude people of conscience becoming informed. Is Canada a just society? Read the book and judge for yourself. Then do something about it. Humanity requires many more brave warriors like Bruce Clark.

  1. I hold that Dahlberg’s aphorism should not be considered too simplistically – that it has many layers. E,g, there is probably something already present in the nature of many humans that leads them to covet power.
  2. See Tom Swanky, The Great Darkening: The True Story of Canada’s “War” of Extermination on the Pacific plus The Tsilhqot’in and other First Nations Resistance (Burnaby, BC: Dragon Heart Enterprises, 2012). Read review.
  3. A noteworthy exception is Warisata (Bolivia) which has been governed by an Indigenous president, Evo Morales, since 2006.
  4. Emilee Gilpin, “Minister Carolyn Bennett says exoneration of Tsilhqot’in chiefs opens door to reconciliation,” National Observer, 27 March 2018; Tom Swanky, “Exoneration of the Chilcotin Chiefs,” 10 September 2015.