Category Archives: Human Rights

Human Rights Activist Deported from Colombia in Run-up to High Stakes Election

While enroute to observe the presidential elections in Colombia, Teri Mattson was denied entry by Colombian authorities and had her passport seized. After arriving at 6:55 am on May 22, she was forced to spend the day and the night at the Bogotá Airport before being deported the following morning and flown out of the country.

Although Mattson resides in Mexico and first flown there, her tribulations did not end there. She was then held in Mexico without passport or phone while immigration waited for the first available flight to the US, because she is a US citizen. Only when Mattson exited the plane in the US were her phone and passport returned to her.

Colombian authorities falsely claimed that Mattson “represents a risk to the security of the State.” When contacted, the US embassy refused to aid her on the bogus grounds that they do not get involved when someone is accused of being a security risk.

There are serious security risk issues involving the presidential elections in Colombia, but Ms. Mattson was not one of them. The front runner in the election campaign is Gustavo Petro, a former mayor of Bogotá. Petro was at one time a left guerilla, whose politics have now shifted more to the center.  His vice-presidential running mate is Afro-descendent environmentalist Francia Márquez.

Were the Petro/Márquez ticket to win on May 29, theirs would be the first administration on the left elected in Colombian history, which has gotten both the current right-wing Colombian government and Washington apprehensive. There are credible rumors that the election may be cancelled.

Both Petro and Márquez have already survived assassination attempts on the campaign trail. Breaking the constitutional requirement for neutrality by the armed forces, the commander of the Colombian army issued a direct attack against Petro. This prompted Medellín’s mayor to warn: “We are one step away from a coup.”

According to the Task Force on the Americas, Colombia has been turned into a regional US military and political proxy in their regime-change hybrid war against Venezuela. Petro has pledged to reopen relations with Venezuela and adhere to the terms of the peace agreement with the FARC if he becomes president and survives.

Given this background, Teri Mattson traveled to Colombia with a group of international trade unionists to observe the election. Colombia, incidentally, is the most dangerous place in the world to be a union activist.

Mattson was a fully accredited election observer invited to Colombia by the Permanent Committee for the Defense of Human Rights. CPDH is a leading human rights group in Colombia founded in 1979.

Mattson had previously visited Colombia in 2021 on a delegation to investigate state violence against social movements. She has been an official accredited election observer to Honduras, Venezuela, Ecuador, Mexico, and Nicaragua.

Mattson is the host of the weekly podcast WTF is Going on in Latin America & the Caribbean. She is a Latin America organizer with Code Pink and on the board of the Task Force on the Americas.

The Task Force on the Americas, Code Pink, and COHA are among the organizations denouncing the deportation. The CPDH holds the Colombian government responsible for the “persecution and violation of Teri Mattson’s rights, and for the violation of democratic rights and the lack of democratic guarantees in the current elections.”

The post Human Rights Activist Deported from Colombia in Run-up to High Stakes Election first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Human Rights Activist Deported from Colombia in Run-up to High Stakes Election

While enroute to observe the presidential elections in Colombia, Teri Mattson was denied entry by Colombian authorities and had her passport seized. After arriving at 6:55 am on May 22, she was forced to spend the day and the night at the Bogotá Airport before being deported the following morning and flown out of the country.

Although Mattson resides in Mexico and first flown there, her tribulations did not end there. She was then held in Mexico without passport or phone while immigration waited for the first available flight to the US, because she is a US citizen. Only when Mattson exited the plane in the US were her phone and passport returned to her.

Colombian authorities falsely claimed that Mattson “represents a risk to the security of the State.” When contacted, the US embassy refused to aid her on the bogus grounds that they do not get involved when someone is accused of being a security risk.

There are serious security risk issues involving the presidential elections in Colombia, but Ms. Mattson was not one of them. The front runner in the election campaign is Gustavo Petro, a former mayor of Bogotá. Petro was at one time a left guerilla, whose politics have now shifted more to the center.  His vice-presidential running mate is Afro-descendent environmentalist Francia Márquez.

Were the Petro/Márquez ticket to win on May 29, theirs would be the first administration on the left elected in Colombian history, which has gotten both the current right-wing Colombian government and Washington apprehensive. There are credible rumors that the election may be cancelled.

Both Petro and Márquez have already survived assassination attempts on the campaign trail. Breaking the constitutional requirement for neutrality by the armed forces, the commander of the Colombian army issued a direct attack against Petro. This prompted Medellín’s mayor to warn: “We are one step away from a coup.”

According to the Task Force on the Americas, Colombia has been turned into a regional US military and political proxy in their regime-change hybrid war against Venezuela. Petro has pledged to reopen relations with Venezuela and adhere to the terms of the peace agreement with the FARC if he becomes president and survives.

Given this background, Teri Mattson traveled to Colombia with a group of international trade unionists to observe the election. Colombia, incidentally, is the most dangerous place in the world to be a union activist.

Mattson was a fully accredited election observer invited to Colombia by the Permanent Committee for the Defense of Human Rights. CPDH is a leading human rights group in Colombia founded in 1979.

Mattson had previously visited Colombia in 2021 on a delegation to investigate state violence against social movements. She has been an official accredited election observer to Honduras, Venezuela, Ecuador, Mexico, and Nicaragua.

Mattson is the host of the weekly podcast WTF is Going on in Latin America & the Caribbean. She is a Latin America organizer with Code Pink and on the board of the Task Force on the Americas.

The Task Force on the Americas, Code Pink, and COHA are among the organizations denouncing the deportation. The CPDH holds the Colombian government responsible for the “persecution and violation of Teri Mattson’s rights, and for the violation of democratic rights and the lack of democratic guarantees in the current elections.”

The post Human Rights Activist Deported from Colombia in Run-up to High Stakes Election first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Political Appointments: Downgrading the Australian Human Rights Commission

With all the hollering and scolding of Russian barbarity in Ukraine and Chinese viciousness against the Uighur populace, one could be forgiven for thinking that Australia’s politicians were presiding from the summit of human rights superiority.  The vote to remove Russia from the Human Rights Council was also greeted in Canberra with hooting sounds of approval.  The savages were being banished from such bodies that have had, over the years, the membership of such joyful paragons of human rights as Saudi Arabia.

This smugness did not convince the international standards body on human rights, which has found that the Australian Human Rights Commission should be downgraded in its standing.  The reason: seemingly political appointments, without a rigorous selection process, of Ben Gauntlett to the position of Disability Discrimination Commissioner in 2019 and Lorraine Finlay to the position of Human Rights Commissioner last year.

The Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions, which conducts the review every five years, considers whether the body in question meets the UN Principles on National Institutions which considers institutional independence for the purpose of ensuring the effective promotion and protection of human rights.

In a statement, the AHRC noted three possible fates: reaccreditation at the A-level; a “downgrade to a B-status institution” or a deferral of the process to permit “serious matters of compliance to be addressed.”  In some ways, the Commission has been given the worst of all worlds: being neither the most appalling, nor the best in terms of practice, it has to languish in the purgatory of deferral, with the Australian government having a period of 15 months to address the problems.

The GANHRI statement had all the flavour of a committee chastisement.  It acknowledged the efforts of the AHRC to address old problems but not enough had been done to heed “previous recommendations.”  It took issue with a selection process where the Attorney-General “may consider that a full selection process is not required” or where the “availability of an eminent person” would make conducting a selection process fairly meaningless (as was the case of Finlay’s appointment in 2021).

Reiterating the same concerns expressed in 2016, the body stressed that “such appointments have the potential to bring into question the legitimacy of the appointees and the independence of the NHRI.”

While human rights standards are always a hard thing to measure, being often hostage to political fortune and self-interest, this was a notable threat.  It means that Australia will be given, quite rightly, mere observer status, its voice, and relevance in the field, reduced.

This latest glaring spotlight on Canberra’s human rights resume continues a legacy of much contradiction.  The country was very encouraging of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, being one of several nations tasked with drafting it.  Attorney-General Herbert V. Evatt, who led the Australian team, saw the document as very much in keeping with the spirit of the “fair go”.

As he promoted that view, Evatt also gave a cast iron guarantee that the White Australia Policy, in place since 1901 as a barrier against the hordes of Asia, would remain unthreatened.  A fair go was very dependent on who had won, to adapt that expression of Cecil Rhodes, that most ruthless of British Empire builders, first prize in the lottery of life.  (For Rhodes, it was the Englishman.)  As Evatt reasoned, “There is no relationship between the Declaration of Human Rights […] and the exercise by a country of its national right […] to determine the composition of its own people.”

In 2018, Australia was elected to sit on the UN Human Rights Council for a three-year term on the crest of two arguments: that it would be the first Pacific state to sit on the body; and because of the country’s commitments to civil and political rights.  Its tenure did not prove particularly impressive, marked by a tendency to conduct “constructive bilateral dialogues” and meek positions.  Elaine Person, Australia director at Human Rights Watch, noted that Canberra had a preference for “making generic statements of concern in Geneva.”

Those generic statements about certain countries and their human rights records have suddenly disappeared – at least regarding those selected autocratic states Prime Minister Scott Morrison is so keen to condemn.  Forceful remarks can be found about Hong Kong, the Uighur populace, and Ukraine.  Officials in Canberra can take some comfort that Australia’s sadistic refugee program and its inglorious record on Indigenous protection can be momentarily eclipsed.

The behaviour surrounding the AHRC is all part of a conscious bankrupting of integrity in a range of public institutions.  This month has been particularly frenetic on that score, with the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) proving a favourite forum.  A body responsible for scrutinising decisions made by government ministers and departments is now stacked with Liberal Party loyalists.  These include former West Australian Liberal state politician, Michael Mischin, who is assuming the role of deputy president, and former NSW Liberal Minister, Pru Goward, and Morrison’s former chief of staff, Anne Duffield.

Call it the pestilence of the friendship-made complex: You pick the girls and chaps of your stripe, avoid a rigorous selection process and eschew advertising vacancies.  Discretion will be based on loyalty; criticism of the government will be minimised.  It ensures a lack of independent thinking does much to destroy the basis of a public service above scorn and dispute.  Those days, if indeed they ever existed, are gone.

The post Political Appointments: Downgrading the Australian Human Rights Commission first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Gaza’s Forthcoming Crisis Might Be Worse than Anything We Have Ever Seen

“The water is back,” one family member would announce in a mix of excitement and panic, often very late at night. The moment such an announcement was made, my whole family would start running in all directions to fill every tank, container or bottle that could possibly be filled. Quite often, the water would last for a few minutes, leaving us with a collective sense of defeat, worrying about the very possibility of surviving.

This was our life under Israeli military occupation in Gaza. The tactic of holding Palestinians hostage to Israel’s water charity was so widespread during the First Palestinian Intifada, or upirising, to the extent that denying water supplies to targeted refugee camps, villages, towns or whole regions was the first measure taken to subdue the rebellious population. This was often followed by military raids, mass arrests and deadly violence; but it almost always began with cutting Palestinians off from their water supplies.

Israel’s water war on the Palestinians has changed since those early days, especially as the Climate Change crisis has accelerated Israel’s need to prepare for grim future possibilities. Of course, this largely happens at the expense of the occupied Palestinians. In the West Bank, the Israeli government continues to usurp Palestinian water resources from the region’s main aquifers – the Mountain Aquifer and the Coastal Aquifer. Frustratingly, Israel’s main water company, Mekorot, sells stolen Palestinian water to Palestinian villages and towns, especially in the northern West Bank region, at exhorbitant prices.

Aside from the ongoing profiteering from water theft, Israel continues to use water as a form of collective punishment in the West Bank, while quite often denying Palestinians, especially in Area C, the right to dig new wells to circumvent Israel’s water monopoly.

According to Amnesty International, Palestinians in the occupied West Bank consume, on average, 73 liters of water a day, per person. Compare this to an Israeli citizen, who consumes approximately 240 liters of water a day, and, even worse, to an illegal Israeli Jewish settler, who consumes over 300 liters per day. The Palestinian share of water is not only far below the average consumed by Israelis, but is even below the recommended daily minimum of 100 liters per capita as designated by the World Health Organization (WHO).

As difficult as the situation for West Bank Palestinians is, in Gaza the humanitarian catastrophe is already in effect. On the occasion of the World Water Day on March 22, Gaza’s Water and Environmental Quality Authority warned of a ‘massive crisis’ should Gaza’s water supplies continue to deplete at the current dangerous rate. The Authority’s spokesman, Mazen al-Banna, told reporters that 98 percent of Gaza’s water supplies are not fit for human consumption.

The consequences of this terrifying statistic are well known to Palestinians and, in fact, to the international community as well. Last October, Muhammed Shehada of the Euro-Med Monitor, told the 48th UN Human Rights Council session that about one-quarter of all diseases in Gaza are caused by water pollution, and that an estimated twelve percent of deaths among Gaza’s children are “linked to intestinal infections related to contaminated water.”

But how did Gaza get to this point?

On May 25, four days after the end of the latest Israeli war on Gaza, the charity Oxfam announced that 400,000 people in besieged Gaza have had no access to regular water supplies. The reason is that Israeli military campaigns always begin with the targeting of Palestinian electric grids, water services and other vital public facilities. According to Oxfam, “11 days of bombardment … severely impacted the three main desalination plants in Gaza city.”

It is important to keep in mind that the water crisis in Gaza has been ongoing for years, and every aspect of this protracted crisis is linked to Israel. With damaged or ailing infrastructure, much of Gaza’s water contains dangerously high salinity levels, or is extremely polluted by sewage and other reasons.

Even before Israel redeployed its forces out of Gaza in 2005 to impose a siege on the Strip’s population from land, sea and air, Gaza had a water crisis. Gaza’s coastal aquifer was entirely controlled by the Israeli military administration, which diverted quality water to the few thousand Jewish settlers, while occasionally allocating high saline water to the then 1.5 million Palestinian people, granted that Palestinians did not protest or resist the Israeli occupation in any way.

Nearly 17 years later, Gaza’s population has grown to 2.1 millions, and Gaza’s already struggling aquifer is in a far worse shape. The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) reported that water from Gaza’s aquifer is depleting due to “over-extraction (because) people have no other choice”.

“Worse, pollution and an influx of seawater mean that only four percent of the aquifer water is fit to drink. The rest must be purified and desalinated to make it drinkable,” UNICEF added. In other words, Gaza’s problem is not the lack of access to existing freshwater reserves as the latter simply do not exist or are rapidly depleting, but the lack of technology and fuel that would give Palestinians in Gaza the ability to make their water nominally drinkable. Even that is not a long term solution.

Israel is doing its utmost to destroy any Palestinian chances at recovery from this ongoing crisis. More, it seems that Tel Aviv is only invested in making the situation worse to jeopardize Palestinian chances of survival. For example, last year, Palestinians accused Israel of deliberately flooding thousands of Palestinian dunums in Gaza when it vented its southern dams, which Israel uses to collect rain water. The almost yearly ritual by Israel continues to devastate Gaza’s ever shrinking farming areas, the backbone of Palestinian survival under Israel’s hermetic siege.

The international community often pays attention to Gaza during times of Israeli wars; and even then, the attention is mostly negative, where Palestinians are usually accused of provoking Israel’s supposed defensive wars. The truth is that even when Israel’s military campaigns end, Tel Aviv continues to wage war on the Strip’s inhabitants.

Though militarily powerful, Israel claims that it is facing an ‘existential threat’ in the Middle East. In actuality, it is the Palestinian existence that is in real jeopardy. When almost all of Gaza’s water is not fit for human consumption because of a deliberate Israeli strategy, one can understand why Palestinians continue to fight back as if their lives are dependent on it; because they are.

The post Gaza’s Forthcoming Crisis Might Be Worse than Anything We Have Ever Seen first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Women’s History Month is About the Human Race

It’s a no-brainer.  Every day should be women’s appreciation day. Sure, we have these Hallmark milestones in the country – Black History Month, Native American Culture Month and now, March, Women’s History Month.

See the source image

[Death toll in Bangladesh garment factory fire rises – CBS News November 25, 2012 ]

My own roots are embedded with strong independent women mentors. For my Scottish grandmother, she came over to Canada as a teen and worked all her life as a cook, nanny, hospital nutritionist. She played the stock market on low wages and set up her only child with some decent funds.

My mother was a single mother with my half-sister. She went from Vancouver — where her husband was a playboy with a gambling problem who had the “mafia” after him — to Flagstaff, then to Hermosa Beach, and then she married my father. Mona, my mom, was the central force of several military wives groups in places like Paris, France, Munich, Germany and Tucson.

My aunt Edna came from England to Massachusetts with two other women from the old country. They opened up an ice-cream shop in Northampton, and then eventually got deep into the restaurant field setting up a high end eatery called The Whale Inn.

I went there on vacations, recalling the stories of Liz Taylor and one of her husbands having a marriage reception there.

I absorbed stories of my German great grandmother Elfrieda who, as a midwife in North Dakota and Minnesota, delivered hundreds of babies. Another relative, an aunt, survived the allied bombing of Dresden with her five children. She helped an entire neighborhood live by scurrying them into an abandoned warehouse cellar she had used for potatoes and cauliflower.

The first women’s day in the USA – February 28, 1909 — occurred a year after the Manhattan garment workers’ strikes when 15,000 women marched for better wages and working conditions. Most of them were teenage girls who worked 12-hour days. Then, in 1911, in one factory, Triangle Shirtwaist Company (where female employees were paid $15 a week in sweatshop conditions: low level lighting, in tight conditions at sewing machines) 145 female workers were killed in a fire. This pushed lawmakers to finally pass legislation meant to protect factory workers through stringent safety measures.

See the source image

[Triangle Factory Fire Photograph by Granger]

Fast-forward to today: I’m teaching a memoir writing class at OCCC-Waldport with mostly women in attendance. Memoirs are different than autobiographies, and this publishing arena is now greatly populated by women memoirists. All three “textbooks” I use in the class were written by women. Additionally, Mary Karr’s The Liars Club, and Cheryl Strayed’s, Wild, are two memoirs we reference.

Time and time again, memoir writing classes I’ve facilitated in Texas, Washington and here have been predominately attended by women who for all intents and purposes are the keepers of the family history.

Throughout my career as educator and journalist, I have seen more and more women take the lead in many fields. One magazine article I published focused on the graduating class at Washington State University’s veterinarian sciences program. All those DVM graduates were women.

The dean of the school stated there is an active recruiting campaign to get “more men into the field.” Imagine that, women undertaking vet sciences, which in 1950 was almost exclusively a male-dominated field.

The reasons for the shift in gender representation are complicated, but one truism stands: Veterinarian sciences is largely a pet field, one where communication with pet owners is vital. It is a field where the patient is actually the human. From field, to barn, to yard, to house, to bed – that’s the shift in the veterinarian field, as illustrated by our dogs and cats.

It begs the question: Are men as empathetic and responsive to the patient’s owner’s psychological and spiritual needs as women?

One of my areas of study, marine sciences, has seen a break in the male domination to sometimes a 50-50 representation of women in some grad programs.

But there are still rough waters: In 2019, on World Oceans Day, the theme was “gender and the ocean.” According to Robin Nelson, a biological anthropologist at Santa Clara:

We frame science as this idea that folks with the best ideas, folks who are willing to work hard, are those who are going to succeed. But absent safeguards protecting vulnerable scientists, she said, those folks who could be super talented, wonderful scientists get pushed out of our fields.

Peter Girguis, an oceanographer at Harvard University, echoes this:

In the absence of gender equality, we’re doing mediocre science.

In 1980, President Jimmy Carter proclaimed “Women’s History Week” in March to coincide with International Women’s Day. Seven years later, Congress declared all of March to be “Women’s History Month.”

There are problems with “a month,” as Kimberly A. Hamlin, an associate professor of history at Miami University in Ohio and author of Free Thinker: Sex, Suffrage, and the Extraordinary Life of Helen Hamilton Gardener, states:

But Women’s History Month unintentionally reinforces the prevailing idea that when women do something, it is called ‘women’s history,’ and when men do something it is called ‘history.’ Women’s History Month also allows state school boards and curricular committees to feel as though they are including women without doing enough to update textbooks and state standards, ultimately undermining the very goals that reformers and historians aimed to achieve with the designation.

I clearly remember when I was the only “guy” in the women’s literature class I took at the University of Arizona where I eventually received a BA and BS. I learned so much about women in history, not just female writers.

We are talking 102 years ago when the 19th amendment granted some women the right to vote (a number of other laws prohibited Native American women, Black women, Asian American women, and Latinx women from voting, among others).

In that lit class, I learned a bit of historical misstatement: What was deemed the first expedition to sail around the globe on a voyage to study and sample the world’s oceans occurred in 1872. Of the 243 people on board the Challenger, not one was a woman.

However, it wasn’t the first. Nearly a century before the Challenger voyage, a woman — Jeanne Baret — sailed around the world on a scientific expedition of her own. She disguised herself as a male assistant on a 1766 voyage led by a French explorer to document plants and ecosystems in distant countries. Baret is the first woman on record to have circumnavigated the globe.

7 Countries With Horrific Sweatshop Situations”

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To continue with the piece above, which will be in the local rag, out here in Lincoln Co, Oregon (Central Coast — Newport News Times), I have to put in some work of a feminist and radical, Linda Ford:

Elizabeth McAlister, in jail since April, remains steadfast, modest and unassuming. She hesitates to give interviews. She did write after her arrest about why she resists the Empire’s weapons: ‘We came to Kings Bay Submarine Base animated by the absurd conviction that we could make some impact on slowing if not ending, the mad rush to the devastation of our magnificent planet.’

Such sentiments, such absurd convictions, that anyone can interfere in the Empire’s global destruction, have to be punished. Such female dissenters have to be jailed and silenced. There should be no more silence surrounding America’s women politicals. Whether considered terrorist threats because, like Aafia Siddiqui, they are part of a group deemed an enemy race; or considered terrorist threats because, like Elizabeth McAlister, they resist and expose America’s global domination—such women will be made political prisoners of the Empire.

— “Women Politicals of the American Empire” by Linda Ford (DV)

“In The Eye of the Beholder: USA History of Imprisoning Women Politicals” (DV) Part One of review and discussion of Linda G. Ford’s Women Politicals in America: Jailed Dissenters from Mother Jones to Lynne Stewart

and

“Long Live the Armed Struggle!” (DV) Part Two of book review, and … The Revolution Will Not Be Televised or plugged onto Twitter, or in the Streets with Your Placards, or Sending in ‘Save the Whale’ Postcards

I was born a protester … My mother had to go to the school a lot and talk to the principal.

— Dorli Rainey (In conversation with author Paul Haeder)

I am being jailed because I have advocated change for equality, justice, and peace. … I stand where thousands of abolitionists, escaped slaves, workers and political activists have stood for demanding justice, for refusing to either quietly bear the biting lash of domination or to stand by silently as others bear the same lash.

— Marilyn Buck, at her 1990 sentencing (epigram in Linda Ford’s book, Women Politicals in America: Jailed Dissenters from Mother Jones to Lynne Stewart)

*Quote from, Elizabeth Gurley Flynn. In Spokane, WA, 19 years old. She went to lumber camps in Montana and Washington, speaking at IWW meetings. She stated she fell in love with her country.

+–+

This is not a blanket endorsement of all women, all of those of the female persuasion not having baby blood on their hands. In capitalism, the male dominated death machine is easily transferred to the other sex.

Women in Defense

[ Women in Defense, a career development and networking organization affiliated with the National Defense Industrial Association, a leading industry group. ]

Offensive-polluting-skin peeling-depleted uranium fed-bunker busting-napalm spreading-TNT concussions Industries, described by the misnomer as Defense Industries (Edward Bernays would be smiling), they have garnered the woke label with their CEOs in pant suits and skirts: Definitely do not ask these women over to babysit — that is, if the baby is not blue-eyed, blond, white or of the red-white-and-blue variety.

As of Jan. 1, the CEOs of four of the nation’s five biggest defense contractors — Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics and the defense arm of Boeing — are now women. And across the negotiating table, the Pentagon’s top weapons buyer and the chief overseer of the nation’s nuclear stockpile now join other women in some of the most influential national security posts, such as the nation’s top arms control negotiator and the secretary of the Air Force. (How Women Took Over the Killing Machine, AKA, MIC!) 

It’s a watershed for what has always been a male-dominated bastion, the culmination of decades of women entering science and engineering fields and knocking down barriers as government agencies and the private sector increasingly weigh merit over machismo.

And, as Lockheed Martin CEO Marillyn Hewson told POLITICO, it’s also the result of “quieting that little voice in your head that doubts whether you can do that next job or take on that special assignment.”

But turn yourself blue trying to convince the Norte Americanos that war is bad, that when Nazi’s get supported by the USA in places like, err, Ukraine, that THAT in itself is really that region’s issue, and that missiles and guidance systems and bioweapons and cluster bombs, the lot of it, guided by these hailed women above, well, they do the bloody work the same, whether the CEO is male or female. Though, I have to say, all this macho stuff pushed down the Marvel Comic Book bred Norte Americanos, for decades, you know, the Charlie’s Angels jujutsu and now the Black Double Oh Seven, it has done the job of convincing redneck women that their role in this game is to, well, kill babies descriminately and indescriminately.

Because they are baby killers!

Yet, feminists should not view this ​rise” of women as a win. Feminism, as the most recent wave of imperial-feminist articles shows, is increasingly being co-opted to promote and sell the U.S. military-industrial complex: a profoundly violent institution that will never bring liberation to women — whether they are within its own ranks or in the countries bearing the greatest brunt of its brutality. As Noura Erakat, a human rights attorney and assistant professor at George Mason University, put it in an interview with In These Times, women’s inclusion in U.S. military institutions ​makes the system subjugating us stronger and more difficult to fight. Our historical exclusion makes it [appear] desirable to achieve [inclusion] but that’s a lack of imagination. Our historical exclusion should push us to imagine a better system and another world that’s possible.” — (“Against the Feminist-Washing of US Militarism“)

Here, the real heroes, a la women:

Social leaders in Guatemala

[Global Witness report points out that women who act as social leaders are the main victims of murder for carrying out their work. / Photo: Global Witness NGO ]

Finally, put a dress on this person. A little bit of eyeliner. High heels. Hmm, replace one criminal, a male, with a female criminal, and we still have criminalty:

Exclusive: The Pentagon’s Massive Accounting Fraud Exposed
How US military spending keeps rising even as the Pentagon flunks its audit.”

“Holding U.S. Treasurys? Beware: Uncle Sam Can’t Account For $21 Trillion.

Lindorff-Pentagon-Juhasz_img

Or not:

Meet the first female 3-star general in the US military]

Meet the first female 3-star general in the US military - We Are The Mighty

 

The post Women’s History Month is About the Human Race first appeared on Dissident Voice.

The Next Step in Palestine’s Anti-Apartheid Struggle is the Most Difficult

When Nelson Mandela was freed from his Robben Island prison on February 11, 1991, my family, friends and neighbors followed the event with keen interest as they gathered in the living room of my old home in the Nuseirat Refugee Camp in the Gaza Strip.

This emotional event took place years before Mandela uttered his famous quote “our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians”.  For us Palestinians Mandela did not need to reaffirm the South African people’s solidarity with Palestine by using these words or any other combination of words. We already knew. Emotions ran high on that day; tears were shed; supplications were made to Allah that Palestine, too, would be free soon. “Inshallah,” God willing, everyone in the room murmured with unprecedented optimism.

Though three decades have passed without that coveted freedom, something is finally changing as far as the Palestine liberation movement is concerned. A whole generation of Palestinian activists, who either grew up or were even born after Mandela’s release, was influenced by that significant moment: Mandela’s release and the start of the official dismantling of the racist, apartheid regime of South Africa.

Even the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993 between Israel and some in the Palestinian leadership of the PLO – which served as a major disruption of the grassroots, people-oriented liberation movement in Palestine – did not completely end what eventually became a decided anti-Israeli apartheid struggle in Palestine. Oslo, the so-called ‘peace process’ – and the disastrous ‘security coordination’ between the Palestinian leadership, exemplified in the Palestinian Authority (PA), and Israel – resulted in derailed Palestinian energies, wasted time, deepened existing factional divides, and confused Palestinian supporters everywhere. However, it did not – though it tried – occupy every political space available for Palestinian expression and mobilization.

With time and, in fact, soon after its formation in 1994, Palestinians began realizing that the PA was not a platform for liberation, but a hindrance to it. A new generation of Palestinians is now attempting to articulate, or refashion, a new discourse for liberation that is based on inclusiveness, grassroots, community-based activism that is backed by a growing global solidarity movement.

The May events of last year – the mass protests throughout occupied Palestine and the subsequent Israeli war on Gaza – highlighted the role of Palestine’s youth who, through elaborate coordination, incessant campaigning and utilizing of social media platforms, managed to present the Palestinian struggle in a new light – bereft of the archaic language of the PA and its aging leaders. It also surpassed, in its collective thinking, the stifling and self-defeating emphasis on factions and self-serving ideologies.

And the world responded in kind. Despite a powerful Israeli propaganda machine, expensive hasbara campaigns and near-total support for Israel by the western government and mainstream media alike, sympathy for Palestinians has reached an all-time high. For example, a major public opinion poll published by Gallup on May 28, 2021, revealed that “… the percentages of Americans viewing (Palestine) favorably and saying they sympathize more with the Palestinians than the Israelis in the conflict inched up to all-time highs this year.”

Moreover, major international human rights organizations, including Israelis, began to finally recognize what their Palestinian colleagues have argued for decades:

“The Israeli regime implements laws, practices and state violence designed to cement the supremacy of one group – Jews – over another – Palestinians,” said B’tselem in January 2021.

“Laws, policies and statements by leading Israeli officials make plain that the objective of maintaining Jewish Israeli control over demographics, political power and land has long guided government policy,” said Human Rights Watch in April 2021.

“This system of apartheid has been built and maintained over decades by successive Israeli governments across all territories they have controlled, regardless of the political party in power at the time,” said Amnesty International on February 1, 2022.

Now that the human rights and legal foundation of recognizing Israeli apartheid is finally falling into place, it is a matter of time before a critical mass of popular support for Palestine’s own anti-apartheid movement follows, pushing politicians everywhere, but especially in the West, to pressure Israel into ending its system of racial discrimination.

However, this is where the South Africa and Palestine models begin to differ. Though western colonialism has plagued South Africa as early as the 17th century, apartheid in that country only became official in 1948, the very year that Israel was established on the ruins of historic Palestine.

While South African resistance to colonialism and apartheid has gone through numerous and overwhelming challenges, there was an element of unity that made it nearly impossible for the apartheid regime to conquer all political forces in that country, even after the banning, in 1960, of the African National Congress (ANC) and the subsequent mprisonment of Mandela in 1962. While South Africans continued to rally behind the ANC, another front of popular resistance, the United Democratic Front, emerged, in the early 1980s to fulfill several important roles, amongst them the building of international solidarity around the country’s anti-apartheid struggle.

The blood of 176 protesters at the Soweto township and thousands more was the fuel that made freedom, the dismantling of apartheid and the freedom of Mandela and his comrades possible.

For Palestinians, however, the reality is quite different. While Palestinians are embarking on a new stage of their anti-apartheid struggle, it must be said that the PA, which has openly collaborated with Israel, cannot possibly be a vehicle for liberation. Palestinians, especially the youth, who have not been corrupted by the decades-long system of nepotism and favoritism enshrined by the PA, must know this well.

Rationally, Palestinians cannot stage a sustained anti-apartheid campaign when the PA is allowed to serve the role of being Palestine’s representative, while still benefiting from the perks and financial rewards associated with the Israeli occupation.

Meanwhile, it is also not possible for Palestinians to mount a popular movement in complete independence from the PA, Palestine’s largest employer, whose US-trained security forces keep watch on every street corner that falls within the PA-administered areas in the West Bank.

As they move forward, Palestinians must truly study the South African experience, not merely in terms of historical parallels and symbolism, but to deeply probe its successes, shortcomings and fault lines. Most importantly, Palestinians must also reflect on the unavoidable truth – that those who have normalized and profited from the Israeli occupation and apartheid cannot possibly be the ones who will bring freedom and justice to Palestine.

The post The Next Step in Palestine’s Anti-Apartheid Struggle is the Most Difficult first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Canadian Emergencies Act, Justin Trudeau, and Civil Disobedience in Context

On Valentines’ Day 2022, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau declared the 1988 Emergencies Act in response to the Trucker Freedom Convoy in Ottawa and US-Canada border protests in Windsor (ON), Emerson (MB), Coutts (AB), Osoyoos and Surrey (BC). This stunning political development ignored the House of Commons in favour of making the announcement at a press conference.

Prior to the September 2021 election, Trudeau spoke of “consequences” for the unvaccinated. He described vaccine passports as a reward for Canadians who “did the right thing,” and said he had “little patience” and “no sympathy” for those who were “anti-vaxxers.” In the weeks and months after the election, the unvaccinated learned what type of punishment the Prime Minister had in mind. Unvaccinated travelers were no longer allowed to board a plane or train. Unvaccinated workers in many job sectors were fired, and prohibited from collecting employment insurance. In Quebec, the unvaccinated couldn’t go to Walmart or Costco, and the government considered imposing a tax on those who refused to get the shot. In New Brunswick, unvaccinated people could be refused entry to a grocery store. Premier Blaine Higgs pledged to make life “increasingly uncomfortable” for the unvaccinated, prohibiting entry to liquor and cannabis stores.

When Prime Minister Trudeau mandated on January 15 all truckers crossing the border must be vaccinated, he sparked a protest. An estimated ten percent of Canadian truckers were unvaccinated. Factoring in American truck drivers, the Canadian Trucking Alliance and the American Trucking Associations estimated that as many as 32,000, or 20%, of the 160,000 Canadian and American cross-border truck drivers could be taken off the roads by the vaccination requirement. The mandate would trigger huge supply chain issues and disrupt the economy. As well, the Trudeau minority government announced plans to require vaccination for all inter-provincial trucking.

In protest, a Metis woman and a Jewish-Canadian truck driver forged a trucker convoy drive to Ottawa. The idea took off. Once the 50KM long convoy arrived in Ottawa on January 29, its first official event was a prayer service. It was opened by two clan mothers, one Dene and one Cree. Others leading the prayer service included an Iraqi-born Arab Shia Muslim and an Afro-Canadian evangelical Quebecois pastor from Montreal, and a white Mennonite pastor from Ontario.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Trudeau went to an undisclosed location. He occasionally emerged to name-call those in the convoy white supremacists, Nazis, homophobes, racists, misogynists, transphobic and more.

An orphan protester with a black mask walked outside the Parliament Buildings carrying a Confederate flag. He was shunned by all he met. A Confederate flag? To what end? To incite the original eleven Confederate States of America (South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Texas, Virginia, Arkansas, Tennessee and North Carolina) who fought against the Union in the American Civil War (1861-65) to secede from the USA in 2022?

Canadian and American mainstream media were eager to report about the lone balaclava-clad Confederate flag protester. They implied truckers in Ottawa longed to establish slavery well north of the Mason-Dixon Line. Spectator World reported convoy protesters disavowed the Confederate flag balaclava clad protester, asking him to leave. Could the masked man waving a confederate flag be an agent provocateur? A $6,500 reward was issued by convoy protesters to identify the mystery man with the swastika.

Back in the early 1980s, Mark MacGuigan, Secretary of State for External Affairs, spoke to a passionate group of peace protesters at a hall in downtown Vancouver. They were protesting the Cruise Missile and nuclear arms race. As I listened to MacGuigan, suddenly, a masked grim reaper costumed with an outstretched 8-foot arms stood on stilts above the seated crowd. The Dickensian reaper accusingly pointed its fingers at MacGuigan who left the stage. That night on the local Vancouver TV stations, there was news footage of the grim reaper chasing MacGuigan into his waiting limousine. Its ghoulish mask and stilts made for great political theatre. Former Vancouver City Councillor, David Cadman, remembers people in the peace movement asked around to find out who the masked reaper was. I was told phone calls were made to far-left Marxist and anarchist groups in the Vancouver area. But no one knew who the reaper was. News headlines shifted focus away from peace protesters concerns about the nuclear arms race and cruise missiles. Now, the Vancouver peace movement was blamed for intimidating a member of the Federal cabinet. How convenient for the government. Could the masked grim reaper on stilts have been an agent provocateur?

After all, we have seen this before. Violent protesters at economic Summit protests in Quebec turned out to be government agents. Handcuffed and lying on the ground, their police boots gave them away as agents infiltrating and violently undermining the peaceful protests.

Former elite RCMP sniper Daniel Buford, charged with protecting Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, has been part of the Ottawa convoy. He recently warned that firearms were stolen in Peterborough, and that people in the convoy needed to be vigilant to prevent anyone from planting weapons in any of the trucks on Parliament Hill. Buford was arrested this afternoon. There are reports that firearms have been seized from protesters in Coutts, Alberta. But, history has shown that sometimes government agents will go to any length to frame and discredit those engaging in peaceful protest or civil disobedience. Just ask the RCMP who burned down a barn in Quebec and blamed the barn-burning on the FLQ.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau contends the Emergencies Act is required because the Freedom Convoy involves activities that are “directed toward or in support” of terrorism. He has said in Parliament that his declaration is “proportionate” to what is happening in Ottawa and across the nation. Yet, the “national emergency” had already been resolved peacefully with local law enforcement at the Ambassador Bridge from Windsor to Detroit on February 13, and subsequently at the Coutts, Alberta-Sweetgrass, Montana border on February 15. The latter involved reports showing footage of protesters and police shaking hands and giving each other hugs.

Rosemary Barton of the CBC alleged the protesters were trying to overthrow the government. She must not be familiar with world history. The Truckers Freedom Convoy is no storming of the Bastille in Paris in 1789. It bears no resemblance to the October Revolution in Russia in 1917 when Lenin, with armed workers, sailors and soldiers clashed with government forces. Playing ball hockey, honking horns and staying away from the Parliament Buildings is no way to overthrow a government. Nonetheless, the Liberal minority government’s key ally in Parliament, NDP leader Jagmeet Singh, warned the truckers were engaged in “an act to overthrow the government.”

In other reports by Canada’s national broadcaster, security expert David Shipley suggested the Russians were behind the trucker convoy protest.

Some in the media have dubbed the truckers protest as Canada’s January 6. In any event, no one in the trucker freedom convoy has barged into the Parliament Buildings. They waited in vain for Prime Minister Trudeau to give them a hearing. Trucker freedom convoy leaders wanted to air their grievances and have a discussion with the Prime Minister. But Justin Trudeau, despite his long history campaigning on empathy, had no interest in understanding, or listening, to what these ordinary working-class citizens who’ve provided basic essential services to the nation for the past two years had to say.

Trudeau must have forgotten his March 2021, tweet “While many of us are working from home, there are others who aren’t able to do that – like truck drivers who are working day and night to make sure our shelves are stocked. So when you can, please #ThankATrucker for everything they’re doing and help them however you can.” Having arrived in Ottawa, helping the truckers however he can was the last thing on the Prime Minister’s mind.

Questioning the media “Narrative,” Rex Murphy wrote in the National Post: “In Ottawa, the sky isn’t falling, despite what the political elite would have you believe,” underscoring “Trudeau’s Monumentally Misguided Emergency Measures are an Insult to Canadians.” While the Wall Street Journal in an Editorial cautioned the Prime Minister, “you’ve lost the political plot. Time to adopt a new strategy more tolerant of the need to return to life not dominated by pandemic fear and government commands.”\

Before February 14, 2022, only once had a Canadian government sought Emergencies Act powers. This was when Justin Trudeau’s father, Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau, passed the War Measures Act to deal with the FLQ Crisis. In October 1970 British diplomat James Cross and Quebec Deputy Premier Pierre Laporte were kidnapped. Although negotiations led to Cross’s release, Laporte was murdered by FLQ kidnappers.

Since January 29 in Ottawa, there have been parking tickets issued to truck drivers by the Ottawa Police. There have been a couple of people arrested for carrying gas cans to truckers who run their engines overnight to keep warm. (Carrying gas to refuel a vehicle is a new punishable offense). When Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson wrote to the convoy leaders asking that all trucks be removed from residential neighborhoods, the truckers agreed. Unlike the FLQ Crisis, no one had been kidnapped. No one has been murdered.

The overwhelmingly peaceful protests in Ottawa have featured children playing on bouncy castles, protesters playing ball hockey, hourly singing of the national anthem, dancing to House of Pain’s “Jump Around,” linking arms and singing “We Are The World,” feeding the homeless, cleaning downtown streets of litter, shoveling snow – and yes honking. These protests have been mild compared to other acts of civil disobedience over the past century.

In 1914, the War Measures Act was passed in Parliament and in effect during the First World War, and was enacted again during World War II.

From May 15 to June 16, 1919, there was the Winnipeg General Strike. More than 30,000 strikers brought economic activity to a standstill in what was at the time Canada’s third largest city. Numbers of people died. There was gunfire.

In response to the Winnipeg General Strike no War Measures Act was declared.

In late 1934, unemployed workers planned to trek from Vancouver to Ottawa. In Regina in mid-June 1935, eight elected representatives of the trekkers were invited to Ottawa to meet R.B. Bennett on June 22. The meeting turned into a shouting match, with Bennett accusing Trek leader Arthur “Slim” Evans of being an “embezzler.” Evans, in turn, called the Prime Minister “a liar” before the delegation was finally escorted out of the building and on to the street. Back in Regina, trekkers were thwarted by the RCMP in attempts to travel east by car, truck or train.

On July 1, 1935, there was a clash between trekkers and police in Regina. Charles Miller, a plainclothes policeman, died, and Nick Schaack, a Trekker, later died in the hospital from injuries sustained in the riot. Prime Minister R.B. Bennett characterized the On-to-Ottawa Trek as “not a mere uprising against law and order but a definite revolutionary effort on the part of a group of men to usurp authority and destroy government.” The Federal Minister of Justice Hugh Guthri falsely stated on July 2 in the House of Commons that “shots were fired by the strikers, and the fire was replied to with shots from the city police.” During the lengthy trials that followed, no evidence was ever produced to show that strikers fired shots during the riot.

The War Measures Act was not declared.

In May 1962, a meeting of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Saskatchewan passed a resolution vowing physicians would close their practices if Medicare came into force. “Keep Our Doctors” committees were established throughout the province and a campaign, backed by the Regina Leader-Post was undertaken, with warnings that most doctors would leave Saskatchewan if socialized medicine was introduced. On July 1, 1962, the doctors strike began and 90% of the province’s doctors shut their offices. The strike by doctors lasted 23 days, and numbers of people died for lack of care.

The War Measures Act was not declared.

In 1990, for 78 days between July and September, Mohawks blocked the Mercier Bridge. There were numbers of violent confrontations between the Mohawk and non-indigenous commuters. 31-year-old Sûreté du Québec Corporal Marcel Lemay died after he was shot in a gun battle between SQ and Mohawk warriors. Mohawk elder Joe Armstrong, age 71, was struck in the chest by a large rock and died of a heart attack the next day. Routes 132, 138 and 207 were all blocked to the blockaded Mercier Bridge. (24)

The Emergencies Act was not declared.

In 1993 in Clayoquot Sound, British Columbia, more than 700 people were arrested in 1993 during a peaceful three-month anti-clearcutting protest on Vancouver Island. They objected to the B.C. government’s logging plan for the Clayoquot, which would have allowed some form of logging in two-thirds of the 350,000 hectares of forest, home to some of Canada’s largest and oldest trees. Logging companies said the protests imperiled economic growth.

The Emergencies Act was not declared.

In the summer of 2021, after news of unmarked graves of First Nations children were reported in Kamloops, nearly fifty churches across Canada were vandalized, and desecrated, over 30 burned down by arsonists.

The Emergencies Act was not declared.

And in 2020 and 2021, Black Lives Matter and anti-colonialism protesters variously 1) toppled a statue of Prime Minister John A. MacDonald in Montreal, decapitating his head, 2) toppled statues of Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth II in Winnipeg, and 3) Captain James Cook in Victoria, among others. Those opposed to the Trucker Freedom Convoy were outraged that Terry Fox was draped with an upside-down Canadian flag, and was holding a “Mandate Freedom” poster. Yet, the Terry Fox statue by Parliament Hill remains unharmed, the flag and poster removed.

Ironically, while truckers protest a mandatory vaccine mandate for driving trucks across the Canada-US border, those charged with keeping the peace near Parliament Hill – the Ottawa Police – are not required to get vaccinated. They can opt to take COVID tests instead.

Back in 2013 at a Liberal fundraiser, Justin Trudeau, in response to a question about which country he admired the most – said China. “There is a level of admiration I actually have for China because their basic dictatorship is allowing them to actually turn their economy around on a dime. There is a flexibility… having a dictatorship where you can do whatever you wanted, that I find quite interesting.”

In passing the Emergencies Act, Justin Trudeau may hope to turn the Canadian economy around, vaccinating our way to an economic boom with his newfound “flexibility,” freezing protesters bank accounts, cancelling their licenses to drive, and doing whatever else he wants to crush dissent. (Many hundreds of police are beating and arresting protesters as I write this). But, when political power is fueled by political calculations to divide citizens between an “in-group” and an “out-group,” at what point does the damage done to society become permanent?

During a press conference on February 17, a Francophone reporter pointed out that Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino had been “insinuating for days” that weapons were being brought to Ottawa, or were in Ottawa with the convoy. Mendicino replied, “I am not saying that there is an intelligence saying there are weapons in Ottawa.”

Trudeau is getting pushback. Seven provinces have registered their opposition, stating the Prime Minister has not satisfied them that the nation is faced with “an urgent and critical situation of a temporary nature that … seriously endangers the lives, health or safety of Canadians and is of such proportions or nature as to exceed the capacity or authority of a province to deal with it,” as outlined in Section 3 of the Act. That development was reported, among others, by signatory to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, former Premier of Newfoundland, Brian Peckford.

Speaking to protesters gathered in Ottawa, Peckford expressed his firm opposition to the actions of the Liberal government. He added that former Charter signatories – Premiers Peter Lougheed, Alan Blackney, and Angus MacLean – would also view the actions of the Prime Minister as unconstitutional. Peckford emphasized key provisions of the Charter guarantee every citizen “the right to pursue the gaining of a livelihood in any province” and “the right to enter, remain in and leave Canada.”

The post Canadian Emergencies Act, Justin Trudeau, and Civil Disobedience in Context first appeared on Dissident Voice.

The Right to Protest in the Stolen Indigenous Territory Called Canada

Canada will always stand up for the right of peaceful protest anywhere around the world and we are pleased to see moves to deescalation and dialogue.

— Justin Trudeau

So said Canada’s prime minister Trudeau about the farmer protests in India. One assumes that “anywhere” includes Canada. Nonetheless, Trudeau has rejected dialogue with the peaceful trucker convoy, and instead of deescalation he turned to his “final option,” the Emergencies Act that seemingly permits police violence against Canadians.

It is time for a renewed, nation-to-nation relationship with First Nations peoples, one that understands that the constitutionally guaranteed rights of First Nations in Canada are not an inconvenience but rather a sacred obligation.

— Justin Trudeau

What does the sacred obligation of a nation-to-nation relationship with First Nations peoples look like for Trudeau? On 7 February 2020, the Unist’ot’en Solidarity Brigade reported a RCMP raid with helicopters, snipers, police dogs, and tactical teams.

The invasion was carried out by heavily armed RCMP despite the Wet’suwet’en having made it clear that they are unarmed and peaceful. The Wet’suwet’en had also made it clear through the unanimity of the hereditary chiefs that they do not want a pipeline going through their unceded territory.

Carleton University criminology professor Jeffrey Monaghan questioned police legitimacy and police violence against legitimate dissent by the Wet’suwet’en. The professor considers the RCMP unreformable and called for its dismantling.

Police violence is Canada’s method of settling differences. This is now being witnessed against truckers and their supporters.

This is how peaceful protest is handled by Trudeau’s government:

And the tweet below says it all for police (at this point shouldn’t police be called for what their actions reveal them to be?: goons) tactics as they barge on horseback through crowds of people and end up trampling a woman with a walker.

The peaceful protest was turned violent by police on Trudeau’s order.

The below image is sure to immortalize Trudeau’s push for power.

The trampled upon woman, identified as Roberta Paulsen, is one of the growing list of victims of Trudeau’s Emergencies Act. Rebel News reporter Alexa Lavoie was hit three times with a club by a cop who then shot a tear gas canister at her leg from point-blank range.

This is Trudeau’s legacy: the lengths one man, backed by his party, will go to force people to surrender autonomy over their bodies, and in the case of Indigenous peoples, their land.

The post The Right to Protest in the Stolen Indigenous Territory Called Canada first appeared on Dissident Voice.