Tuesday, January 24, 2012

One Year After Egyptian Revolution, Military Dictatorship Lives On

More at The Real News

"Israel Kidnaps Two More Palestinian Lawmakers: UFree Calls for International Action"

Oslo, Norway -- Jan. 24, 2012
Israel’s violent seizure and arrest this week of two senior members of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) is a brazen violation of international law and the diplomatic immunity universally accorded to elected leaders of government and parliament, charges the Oslo-based NGO UFree Network.
Former Jerusalem Affairs Minister Khaled Abu Arafah and fellow lawmaker Mohammed Totah were forcibly removed Monday, Jan. 23, from the East Jerusalem headquarters of the International Committee of the Red Cross, where they had sought refuge for more than 18 months to avoid Israeli revocation of their residency status in the city.
"Together with Ahmed Attoun, a PLC member who was arrested in September, Abu Arafah and Totah had been staging a sit-in on the premises of the ICRC since July 1, 2010, to protest against a decision of the Israeli authorities to deport them," the ICRC stated in a press release. "Under international humanitarian law, East Jerusalem is an occupied territory, and its Palestinian residents are therefore protected persons within the jurisdiction of Article 4 of the Fourth Geneva Convention."
Other than issuing this statement, the ICRC has done nothing more, insisting that the organization holds no diplomatic status in Israel and thus cannot protect the lawmakers from arrest.
However, Mohammed Hamdan, chairman of UFree Network, an Oslo-based NGO that advocates for the rights Palestinian political prisoners and detainees in Israeli detention, says that is not enough.
“It is time for the international community -- including the International Committee of the Red Cross -- to start enforcing humanitarian law,” says Hamdan. “The Israeli government forced its way onto the grounds of an international organization, arresting democratically elected lawmakers and forcing them to leave the city of their birth. These are the actions of a thug, not the ‘oasis of civilization’ it claims to be.”
UFree Network is calling on all members of the public who believe in democracy and the rule of law to send letters to their representatives in parliament across the world, demanding that Israel be held to account and pressured into releasing the imprisoned PLC members. A sample letter can be found on UFree Network’s website www.ufree-p.net
Shortly after the 2006 PLC elections, Totah, Abu Arafah and two other Palestinian politicians were ordered by Israeli authorities to resign from the Hamas-led government chosen by the people or have their East Jerusalem permanent- resident status revoked
When they refused, the four men were prosecuted before an Israeli military court and sentenced to two to four years in prison.  Shortly after their release in the summer of 2010, the Israeli authorities again threatened to forcibly transfer the men and strip them of their East Jerusalem residency rights. When they refused to leave once again, Muhammad Abu Tir was sent back to jail and the three remaining MPLCs to refuge at the ICRC compound to avoid a similar fate. They had sheltered there ever since.
Meanwhile, Israel is currently holding 26 PLC members in its jails, with the latest being Dr. Aziz Duwaik. The Speaker of the PLC was first imprisoned by Israel on Aug. 6, 2006.  He was released on June 22, 2009, before being re-arrested Jan. 19 of this year, while traveling to the West Bank city of Hebron.
“With the PLC scheduled to meet in February, for the first time since 2007, Israel is obviously running scared at the prospect of a unified, strong, Palestinian government,” said Hamdan, noting that elections are planned for May this year. “It’s time for the United Nations, its member countries and human rights NGOs around the world to prove that democracy is what they want and support.”
For more information, visit www.ufree-p.net
Take Action: http://ufree-p.net/Details.aspx?Type_ID=3&Rotator_ID=10

Monday, January 23, 2012

24 Iraqi Civilians Murdered; Marine Gets 3 Months

Just goes to show, we don't need drones to commit war crimes.


January 23, 2012 "CBS" -- CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. - A Marine accused of killing unarmed Iraqi women and children pleaded guilty Monday to dereliction of duty in a deal that will mean a maximum of three months confinement and end the largest and longest-running criminal case against U.S. troops to emerge from the Iraq War.

Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich of Meriden, Conn., led the Marine squad in 2005 that killed 24 Iraqis in the town of Haditha after a roadside bomb exploded near a Marine convoy, killing one Marine and wounding two others.

It was a stunning and muted end to a case once described as the Iraq War's version of the My Lai massacre in Vietnam.

Watch Wuterich's interview with CBS' "60 Minutes" in 2007

The incident in Iraq is considered among the war's defining moments, further tainting America's reputation when it was already at a low point after the release of photos of prisoner abuse by U.S. soldiers at Abu Ghraib prison.

Eight Marines were charged with killing the Iraqis, with Wuterich facing the possibility of life behind bars. In the end, seven Marines were acquitted or had charges dropped, and Wuterich pleaded to the single, minor charge.
The killings still fuel anger in Iraq after becoming the primary reason behind demands that U.S. troops not be given immunity from their court system.

Wuterich's plea interrupted his trial at Camp Pendleton before a jury of combat Marines who served in Iraq.

In a hearing to determine if the facts of the plea were accurate and that he agreed, Wuterich acknowledged he was negligent in his duties because he told his squad to shoot first and ask questions later, or words to that effect.
Honestly, I probably should have said nothing," Wuterich told the judge, Lt. Col. David Jones. "I think we all understood what we were doing so I probably just should have said nothing."

Later he added: "I shouldn't have done that and it resulted in tragic events, sir."

Wuterich acknowledged he had been trained in rules of engagement before going to Iraq and again when he was deployed.

He admitted he did not positively identify his targets, as he had learned to do in training. He said he ordered his troops to assault the homes based on the guidance of his platoon commander at the time.

Wuterich faces a maximum of three months confinement, two-thirds forfeiture of pay and a rank demotion to private when he's sentenced, likely on Tuesday. The plea agreement calls for manslaughter charges to be dropped.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Sgt Shamar Thomas & another Iraq Vet Outside Whitehouse at Occupy Congress

protest: Sgt Shamar Thomas and another Iraq vet outside White House I Pic
from @)PacificJustice twitter

Friday, January 13, 2012

"We Remember Tom Hurndall"

ISM via Aletho News

Tom was 21 years old when he was shot. A photography student, he had left the UK to volunteer as a ‘human shield’ in Iraq. Here he heard about the ISM, one of whose volunteers, Rachel Corrie, had just been killed by a bulldozer whilst protesting house demolitions in Rafah. He headed there himself, arriving on the 6th April.

On the day of his shooting, Tom was with other ISM activists walking through Rafah when Israeli sniper fire started. Almost everyone ran for safety, but Tom noticed that three children, aged between four and seven, had remained motionless, paralysed with fear. Tom went back for them. He got the little boy to safety, and then went back for the two girls. He was wearing a fluorescent vest, and was clearly unarmed. An Israeli sniper shot him in the head.

There was a two hour delay at the border of the Gaza Strip before an ambulance was able to take him to a hospital in Be’er Sheva. In a coma, he was transferred to a hospital in the UK, where he died the following year.

The soldier who shot him, Taysir Hayb, was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to eleven and a half years in prison. A British inquest into the killing found that the killing was intentional – in other words, murder.

Tom’s shooting followed the murder of Rachel Corrie, run over by a bulldozer on the 16th March, and the near fatal shooting of Brian Avery, shot in the face in Jenin on April 5th. Later that month, another Brit, filmmaker James Miller, was also killed by a sniper in Rafah. The Israeli military have refused to accept any responsibility for what they did to Rachel, Brian or James.
Hurndall was trying to save Palestinian homes and infrastructure but frequently came under Israeli fire and seemed to have lost his fear of death. “While approaching the area, they (the Israelis) continually fired one- to two-second bursts from what I could see was a Bradley fighting vehicle… It was strange that as we approached and the guns were firing, it sent shivers down my spine, but nothing more than that. We walked down the middle of the street, wearing bright orange, and one of us shouted through a loudspeaker, ‘We are International volunteers. Don’t shoot!’ That was followed by another volley of fire, though I can’t be sure where from…” – Robert Fisk, The Independent, 2009
Tom Hurndall was a young man with a dream…he paid for it with his life. -The Telegraph, 2004
Tom, blind to nationalities and borders, exuded humanity. He wanted, he wrote in his journal, “to make a difference”. He did. He also had an outrageous sense of humour and will be missed, most of all, because he made those of us who were his friends smile. He is survived by his parents, sister Sophie, and his brothers Billy and Freddy. - Carl Arindell, The Guardian,  2004.
Today International Solidarity Movement pays tribute to Tom Hurndall for his bravery and sacrifices. He is never far from our thoughts, and he continues to inspire our Palestinian, Israeli, and International volunteers throughout our campaigns in the Occupied Territories. Tom would want us to remember him. But we also know he’d want us to remember that thousands of innocent Palestinians have died under similar circumstances. These people’s deaths have not been investigated, and have often been lied about, claiming the victims to be combatants or explained away with empty phrases like “caught in the crossfire” or “tragic accident.”

While the ISM acknowledges that the Israeli military court found Wahid Taysir guilty of manslaughter, an injustice was committed by his early release from prison in September 2010 due to “good behavior.”

The international community will continue to question the policy and decision makers responsible for Tom’s murder and the murder of thousands of other innocent people.

Sunday, January 08, 2012

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Chicago and Nabi Saleh Honor Gaza's Children with Mass Balloon Release


On the third anniversary of Gaza Invasion, Chicago and Nabi Saleh Honor Gaza's Children with Mass Balloon Release

CHICAGO, IL (December 31, 2011) -- Over two hundred people gathered to honor Gaza's children with a mass release of balloons marking the third anniversary of Operation Cast Lead, Israel's brutal military invasion of Gaza. After marching from Millennium Park to Grant Park, participants released one balloon for each of the 344 children killed during the 22-day attack on Gaza from December 27, 2008 -- January 18, 2009. In a parallel event, families in the Palestinian village of Nabi Saleh also gathered for a balloon release. In response, the Israeli army fired tear gas and mustard gas at those who participated in the action, including children, and arrested at least seven .

The Chicago event was organized by Chicago Movement for Palestinian Rights (CMPR)."We organized this event to express our grief over deaths of these children and celebrate the resilience of the people of Gaza," said CMPR member Ishan Chakrabarti. Tied to each balloon was a card with the name and age of each child killed in the Gaza Massacre. The balloons and ribbon were 100% biodegradable and the cards were made from Lotka paper embedded with flowerseeds. "Wherever they land, these cards will plant seeds in the ground that will bloom into beautiful flowers to pay tribute to the memory of each child," said Chakrabarti.

At the event local community members performed selections from "The Gaza Monologues," a collection of monologues written by Palestinian children who survived Israel's assault. Immediately before releasing the balloons, participants also observed a moment of silence.

Message from A Rider of the #30 Bus

Someone took the time to etch this message in to the metal window casing.  Nice job!

Monday, January 02, 2012

Boycott Divestment Sanctions -- Call to Action -- Omar Barghouti -- Seattle

Thursday January 5, 6:30 PM
St. Marks Cathedral
1245 Tenth Avenue East, Seattle, WA 98102 
Bloedel Hall
BDS Israel: The Legacy of Dr. King and Mandela
Donations Welcome

"#Occupy Oakland: For Wanda, For Tatiana, For Uncle Bobby . . . For Oscar"



Today [Jan. 1, 2012] is the third anniversary of Oscar Grant’s execution by BART police officer Johannes Mehserle. For any of you unfamiliar with this story: Oscar, a young father, a young worker, unarmed, was shot in the back while lying prostrate in police custody on the Fruitvale BART station platform; after days of rage in the community, Mehserle was charged with murder and ultimately convicted of involuntary manslaughter, for which he served less than half of his two-year sentence.

The Oscar Grant Committee and Occupy Oakland organized a march in remembrance, beginning at the plaza we renamed after Oscar and ending with a rally at the Fruitvale BART. My husband and I walked up to meet the crowd when they arrived at the BART, which is just a few blocks from our house. The streets were lined with police cars and near the edge of the rally, there was a big black SUV with a couple of laughing cops inside. Most every cop we saw was smiling or shooting the breeze with fellow officers; none of them seemed to be taking this occasion too seriously. After all, they are collecting some nice fat overtime pay.

These annual rallies for Oscar have a certain “old home week” feel – there are the same faces and the same litanies of police brutality, with another year’s worth of injustices added to the list. Another mother or two gets up to tell the story of how her baby was murdered or jailed by BART cops or OPD.  This year, we also heard from Kenneth Carrethers, a man who was beaten by Mehserle six weeks before Oscar was killed. Some people believe that if that incident had been properly investigated at the time, Oscar might still be alive.  We heard from several of our OO comrades who were arrested during Friday’s melee. It was reassuring to see their faces, to know that they were not spending New Year’s Day in jail (there are still a couple of people who have not been released). Khalid, one of our most articulate and eloquent comrades (and someone who has been arrested multiple times at OO), told us to occupy our neighborhoods – to not let anyone go hungry on our block, to give comfort to a mentally ill neighbor, to take care of each other. He is so right. It’s the main lesson we are all teaching each other at Occupy; it’s really all that matters.

Sunday, January 01, 2012