Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Vigil to support Palestinian Political Prisoners- Saturday, April 27 at Westlake Park, 4th & Pine, Seattle

Join us to protest the illegal detention and torture of Palestinians by the Israeli Army.  Currently there are over 5000 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli military prisons, including 170 administrative detainees, 12 women and 185 children.
Some of these prisoners have been on hunger strike for months to protest their illegal detention.
Please Join us to demand freedom for all Palestinian Political prisoners.
When: Saturday April 27, noon - 2pm
Where: Westlake Park, downtown Seattle
Thank you for your support and hope to see you there.....
 Amin Odeh
"Stand up for what is right,even if you are standing alone"

Friday, April 19, 2013

Celebrating Ethnic Cleansing in Israel on Independence Day! Bravo Zochrot!

Watch to the end!

Vigil to support Palestinian Political Prisoners- Saturday April 20 at Westlake


We have decided to cancel our Vigil for tomorrow after receiving reports of attacks on Arab and Muslim Americans  across the country in the past couple of days because of the Boston Bombing. Most of the victims were women wearing hijab (Head Cover) since they are usually easy to identify.
Our main concern is the safety of our community and especially the safety of our Muslim women with hijabs who usually join us at the vigils.
Thanks for your understanding and your support!

Join us to protest the illegal detention and torture of Palestinians by the Israeli Occupation.  Currently there are over 5000 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli military prisons and detention centers, including 170 administrative detainees, 12 women and 185 children.  Some of these prisoners have been on hunger strike for months to protest their illegal detention. The longest hunger striker is Samer Issawi and he has been on a hunger strike for over 270 days.
Please Join us to demand freedom for Samer Issawi and all Palestinian Political prisoners.
When: Saturday April 20, noon - 2pm
Where: Westlake Park, downtown Seattle
Thank you for your support and hope to see you there.....

Amin Odeh
"Stand up for what is right,even if you are standing alone"

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Israeli Forces Demolish Store Belonging to Bedouin Orphans

"We realize pretty well that Wadi al-Niam is being targeted by the Israeli occupation. However, we similarly realize that our people in the village are stronger that the machines used in demolitions, and they will never break our will as owners who have the right to live in dignity on our lands.

BEERSHEBA, Israel (Ma'an) -- Israeli forces on Thursday demolished a store belonging to orphans in Wadi al-Niam, a Bedouin village in the Negev.  
"The demolition is immoral and unjustifiable. How can a state which claims to be an oasis of democracy and equality explain demolition of orphans' homes and means of living?" said Labbad Abu Affash, head of the village committee. 
The store belonged to orphans from the Jirjawi family, a Ma'an reporter said. 
Abu Affash told Ma'an the whole village was slated for demolition. 
"We realize pretty well that Wadi al-Niam is being targeted by the Israeli occupation. However, we similarly realize that our people in the village are stronger that the machines used in demolitions, and they will never break our will as owners who have the right to live in dignity on our lands." 
At the demolition, Talab Abu Arar, a Palestinian member of Israel's Knesset, had a heated argument with an Israeli commander and a representative of Israel's land department. 
Abu Arar tried to enter the store to prevent the demolition but police officers used force to stop him. 
Earlier in April, Israeli forces demolished Bedouin village al-Arakib for the 49th time. In Arara village, Israeli forces demolished a partially-constructed home, a tent and a barn.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

#NoDrones & #FreePalestinianPrisoners, Seattle, April 17

Obama indicted by citizens of Seattle and Peter Dunstan.

Many Vets for Peace at this event.

Unhappy citizens demand end to droning!

The Amazing Jim Page

Prisoners' Day: Palestine Remembers Loved Ones in Israeli Gulag

April 17, 2013

 Center for Political and Development Studies, Palestine
The Palestinian people mark Prisoners' Day on April 17 every year, expressing the continuity of struggle to liberate detainees in the occupation jails. It's a day of freedom. A day of refusing injustice, chains, and the dominance of occupiers over their life and dignity.
 Prisoners' Day marks the release of Mahmoud Baker, the first Palestinian prisoner held by Israel after 1967, on April 17, 1974 in a swap deal. According to the statistics published by the director of Statistics Department at the Ministry of Detainees and Ex-Detainees and former prisoner Abdulnasser Frawna: 
 1- 4750 Palestinians are detained in the Israeli jails including children, women, sick, handicapped, elders, MPs and former ministers etc. They are held under very tough conditions where they are deprived of their basic rights and they are exposed to various forms of torture and treated inhumanely, all of which constitutes a grievous violation of international conventions and norms. 
 2-  The majority, 83.5%, are residents of the West Bank, 9.2% are residents of the Gaza Strip, the rest are from 1948 Palestine and Jerusalem. They are scattered into 17 jails and detention centers, most importantly Negev, Nafha, Rimon, Jablou, Shatta, Ofer, Askalan, Hadarim, Ishel, Ahli Kidar, Hasharon, Ramla and Majido prisons.
 3- 14 Palestinian MPs, two former ministers, dozens of teachers, journalists, political leaders and academics are arrested. 4- 168 Palestinians are held under administrative detention orders without charge or trial. 
 5- 14 female prisoners are held in the Israeli jails, the oldest is Linah Aljarboni from 1948 lands, who has been detained since 2002 and sentenced to 17 years. 
 6- The number of child prisoners hit 235, 35 of them are under 16 years old and child arrest has escalated recently. 
 7- 533 prisoners are sentenced to life once or several times. 
 8- 1200 prisoners are sick and they suffer various diseases. 170 of them need urgent surgeries. 85 of them suffer various forms of disabilities (physical, psychological, mental and sensory) and 25 prisoners have cancer, one of them, Maysraa Abu Hamdia, passed away on April 2nd 2013 of throat cancer. The remaining prisoners live under the constant fear of dying. This increases their suffering and their health is jeopardised due to the medical negligence of their captors. 
 9- To date, the number of elderly prisoners who were arrested before singing the Oslo Accords in 1994 is 105. Everyone of them has a story to tell. 77 of them has been in prison for more than 20 years. The 25 prisoners are called "Deans of Prisoners" or "Generals of Patience". This is a term Palestinians use to describe those who spent more than quarter century in the Israeli jails. Karim Younis from the 1948 lands town of Arara is considered the Dean of Prisoners. He spent more than 30 years in Israeli jails so far. 
 10- The number of the martyrs of the prisoners' movement hit 204 after the killing of Arafat Jradat who was tortured in Israel's jails and the death of Maysraa Abu Hamdia as a result of medical negligence. Since 1967, 71 Palestinians prisoners died because of torture, while 52 others died because of medical negligence, 74 prisoners were intentionally killed directly after arrest, and seven prisoners were killed by Israeli bullets inside Israeli jails. 
 Israel's Prison Service implements a policy which violates the rights of prisoners including arrests during night raids, medical negligence, banning family visits, solitary confinement and administrative detention, ignoring all international conventions and human rights.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

'No Justification' for US Torturing Terror Suspects - 'Truth Commission' Report

A leading bipartisan think-tank says it is “indisputable” that the US tortured captives in the aftermath of 9/11. The report condemned the country’s detention practices as “a grave error” using the testimonies of dozens of inmates and officials. 
The 600-page document, the most comprehensive published study of US anti-terrorist policies of the last 12 years, concluded that there was “no justification” for torture in moral or strategic terms, as information obtained through it was frequently unreliable. It also noted that the behavior of the US authorities, which includes the continuing operation of the Guantanamo detention center, has “damaged the standing of our nation, reduced our capacity to convey moral censure when necessary and potentially increased the danger to US military personnel taken captive.” 
The report also calls for the closing of Camp Delta and questions officials’ assertions about the likelihood of released captives returning to fight against the United States. 
Although many of the indictments have been aired at various points over the last decade, they have never been delivered to the public in more detail or with greater authority (an even longer Senate Intelligence Committee report on torture based on classified data has been completed, though it may or may not be made public). 
The study was commission by the Constitution Project, a legal advocacy group, and jointly led by two former congressmen –Republican Asa Hutchinson, who was an Under Secretary for the department of Homeland Security during the George W. Bush administration, and James R. Jones, a Democrat and former Ambassador to Mexico. 
The report asserts that “President Bush’ authorization of brutal techniques by the CIA made US personnel throughout the world believe that the “gloves are off”, and that they could indulge in systemic “illegal” activities, “where rare exceptions [of torture] fast became the rule”. 

The document states that “sleep deprivation, stress positions, nudity, sensory deprivation and threatening detainees with dogs” were used in “many instances” and“across many theaters” – with witnesses describing similar techniques used in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo. Aside from waterboarding – which it alleges may have been used on a wider scale than the White House originally claimed - it also details regular use of humiliation techniques, such as leaving captives covered in their own feces for days on end. 
The Constitution Project says most of those involved made the “best efforts to protect their fellow citizens”, but “good intentions did not relieve them of their obligations to comply with existing treaties and laws. The need to respect and maintain legal and moral codes to maintain the minimum of human rights is especially great in the times of crisis”. 
To determine whether torture took place, the Task Force says it avoided “subjective” criteria, but used international law and previous instances where actions were defined as torture, including times when the US condemned other countries for using the same techniques it later adopted itself. Now, the authors fear the United States has lost any moral high ground, while its deeds “aid to repressive regimes elsewhere when they seek approval or justification for their own acts.” 
While the testimonies pertain mostly to the years immediately after the Twin Towers attacks, the Obama administration is accused of maintaining “ongoing secrecy” in its dealings with suspected terrorists, raising “troubling questions”, even if it “ended the most inhumane treatment of detainees”. The report says its lack of accountability, inconsistency and an unwillingness to place a firm legal framework in its interactions with suspects, means that the now-abandoned techniques could be brought back as a result of any serious future terrorist attack on US soil. 
It is even more scathing of the Obama Administration, and the Congress’ failure to shut down the Guantanamo detention camp in Cuba. 
The authors call for authorities to shut down Guantanamo as early as next year, arguing that those prisoners who have been cleared, must be released, while the US mainland penal system and courts can process those who are still under suspicion. 
Regarding force feeding at the Camp, which has been a regular tactic to counter hunger strikes “is a form of abuse and must end”, referring to previous ethical guidelines declared by the World Medical Association.  At least 45 inmates are currently on a hunger strike in a protest against their conditions that’s lasted over two months. 
In conclusion, the reports authors, who believe they are attempting the role of a “Truth Commission” that Obama failed to establish when he was elected in 2008, say that the administration has only one way to rebuild the tarnished image of the country. 
The United States has a historic and unique character, and part of that character is that we do not torture,” says the study. 
"Publicly acknowledging this grave error, however belatedly, may mitigate some of those consequences and help undo some of the damage to our reputation at home and abroad.”

Monday, April 15, 2013

Gitmo Is Killing Me -- By SAMIR NAJI al HASAN MOQBEL

ONE man here weighs just 77 pounds. Another, 98. Last thing I knew, I weighed 132, but that was a month ago. 
I’ve been on a hunger strike since Feb. 10 and have lost well over 30 pounds. I will not eat until they restore my dignity. 
I’ve been detained at Guantánamo for 11 years and three months. I have never been charged with any crime. I have never received a trial. 
I could have been home years ago — no one seriously thinks I am a threat — but still I am here. Years ago the military said I was a “guard” for Osama bin Laden, but this was nonsense, like something out of the American movies I used to watch. They don’t even seem to believe it anymore. But they don’t seem to care how long I sit here, either. 
When I was at home in Yemen, in 2000, a childhood friend told me that in Afghanistan I could do better than the $50 a month I earned in a factory, and support my family. I’d never really traveled, and knew nothing about Afghanistan, but I gave it a try. 
I was wrong to trust him. There was no work. I wanted to leave, but had no money to fly home. After the American invasion in 2001, I fled to Pakistan like everyone else. The Pakistanis arrested me when I asked to see someone from the Yemeni Embassy. I was then sent to Kandahar, and put on the first plane to Gitmo. 
Last month, on March 15, I was sick in the prison hospital and refused to be fed. A team from the E.R.F. (Extreme Reaction Force), a squad of eight military police officers in riot gear, burst in. They tied my hands and feet to the bed. They forcibly inserted an IV into my hand. I spent 26 hours in this state, tied to the bed. During this time I was not permitted to go to the toilet. They inserted a catheter, which was painful, degrading and unnecessary. I was not even permitted to pray. 
I will never forget the first time they passed the feeding tube up my nose. I can’t describe how painful it is to be force-fed this way. As it was thrust in, it made me feel like throwing up. I wanted to vomit, but I couldn’t. There was agony in my chest, throat and stomach. I had never experienced such pain before. I would not wish this cruel punishment upon anyone. 
I am still being force-fed. Two times a day they tie me to a chair in my cell. My arms, legs and head are strapped down. I never know when they will come. Sometimes they come during the night, as late as 11 p.m., when I’m sleeping. 
There are so many of us on hunger strike now that there aren’t enough qualified medical staff members to carry out the force-feedings; nothing is happening at regular intervals. They are feeding people around the clock just to keep up. 
During one force-feeding the nurse pushed the tube about 18 inches into my stomach, hurting me more than usual, because she was doing things so hastily. I called the interpreter to ask the doctor if the procedure was being done correctly or not. 
It was so painful that I begged them to stop feeding me. The nurse refused to stop feeding me. As they were finishing, some of the “food” spilled on my clothes. I asked them to change my clothes, but the guard refused to allow me to hold on to this last shred of my dignity. 
When they come to force me into the chair, if I refuse to be tied up, they call the E.R.F. team. So I have a choice. Either I can exercise my right to protest my detention, and be beaten up, or I can submit to painful force-feeding.
The only reason I am still here is that President Obama refuses to send any detainees back to Yemen. This makes no sense. I am a human being, not a passport, and I deserve to be treated like one. 
I do not want to die here, but until President Obama and Yemen’s president do something, that is what I risk every day. 
Where is my government? I will submit to any “security measures” they want in order to go home, even though they are totally unnecessary.
I will agree to whatever it takes in order to be free. I am now 35. All I want is to see my family again and to start a family of my own. 
The situation is desperate now. All of the detainees here are suffering deeply. At least 40 people here are on a hunger strike. People are fainting with exhaustion every day. I have vomited blood. 
And there is no end in sight to our imprisonment. Denying ourselves food and risking death every day is the choice we have made. 
I just hope that because of the pain we are suffering, the eyes of the world will once again look to Guantánamo before it is too late.

Sunday, April 07, 2013

Iain Banks: Why I Am Supporting the Cultural Boycott of Israel

This week writer Iain Banks announced he has cancer and may have just months to live. Here he explains why, in 2010, he decided his novels would no longer be published in Israel 
Iain M Banks
Friday 5 April 2013
The Guardian
I support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign because, especially in our instantly connected world, an injustice committed against one, or against one group of people, is an injustice against all, against every one of us; a collective injury. 
My particular reason for participating in the cultural boycott of Israel is that, first of all, I can; I'm a writer, a novelist, and I produce works that are, as a rule, presented to the international market. This gives me a small extra degree of power over that which I possess as a (UK) citizen and a consumer. Secondly, where possible when trying to make a point, one ought to be precise, and hit where it hurts. The sports boycott of South Africa when it was still run by the racist apartheid regime helped to bring the country to its senses because the ruling Afrikaaner minority put so much store in their sporting prowess. Rugby and cricket in particular mattered to them profoundly, and their teams' generally elevated position in the international league tables was a matter of considerable pride. When they were eventually isolated by the sporting boycott – as part of the wider cultural and trade boycott – they were forced that much more persuasively to confront their own outlaw status in the world. 
A sporting boycott of Israel would make relatively little difference to the self-esteem of Israelis in comparison to South Africa; an intellectual and cultural one might help make all the difference, especially now that the events of the Arab spring and the continuing repercussions of the attack on the Gaza-bound flotilla peace convoy have threatened both Israel's ability to rely on Egypt's collusion in the containment of Gaza, and Turkey's willingness to engage sympathetically with the Israeli regime at all. Feeling increasingly isolated, Israel is all the more vulnerable to further evidence that it, in turn, like the racist South African regime it once supported and collaborated with, is increasingly regarded as an outlaw state. 
I was able to play a tiny part in South Africa's cultural boycott, ensuring that – once it thundered through to me that I could do so – my novels weren't sold there (while subject to an earlier contract, under whose terms the books were sold in South Africa, I did a rough calculation of royalties earned each year and sent that amount to the ANC). Since the 2010 attack on the Turkish-led convoy to Gaza in international waters, I've instructed my agent not to sell the rights to my novels to Israeli publishers. I don't buy Israeli-sourced products or food, and my partner and I try to support Palestinian-sourced products wherever possible. 
It doesn't feel like much, and I'm not completely happy doing even this; it can sometimes feel like taking part in collective punishment (although BDS is, by definition, aimed directly at the state and not the people), and that's one of the most damning charges that can be levelled at Israel itself: that it engages in the collective punishment of the Palestinian people within Israel, and the occupied territories, that is, the West Bank and – especially – the vast prison camp that is Gaza. The problem is that constructive engagement and reasoned argument demonstrably have not worked, and the relatively crude weapon of boycott is pretty much all that's left. (To the question, "What about boycotting Saudi Arabia?" – all I can claim is that cutting back on my consumption of its most lucrative export was a peripheral reason for giving up the powerful cars I used to drive, and for stopping flying, some years ago. I certainly wouldn't let a book of mine be published there either, although – unsurprisingly, given some of the things I've said about that barbaric excuse for a country, not to mention the contents of the books themselves – the issue has never arisen, and never will with anything remotely resembling the current regime in power.)
As someone who has always respected and admired the achievements of the Jewish people – they've probably contributed even more to world civilisation than the Scots, and we Caledonians are hardly shy about promoting our own wee-but-influential record and status – and has felt sympathy for the suffering they experienced, especially in the years leading up to and then during the second world war and the Holocaust, I'll always feel uncomfortable taking part in any action that – even if only thanks to the efforts of the Israeli propaganda machine – may be claimed by some to target them, despite the fact that the state of Israel and the Jewish people are not synonymous. Israel and its apologists can't have it both ways, though: if they're going to make the rather hysterical claim that any and every criticism of Israeli domestic or foreign policy amounts to antisemitism, they have to accept that this claimed, if specious, indivisibility provides an opportunity for what they claim to be the censure of one to function as the condemnation of the other.
The particular tragedy of Israel's treatment of the Palestinian people is that nobody seems to have learned anything. Israel itself was brought into being partly as a belated and guilty attempt by the world community to help compensate for its complicity in, or at least its inability to prevent, the catastrophic crime of the Holocaust. Of all people, the Jewish people ought to know how it feels to be persecuted en masse, to be punished collectively and to be treated as less than human. For the Israeli state and the collective of often unlikely bedfellows who support it so unquestioningly throughout the world to pursue and support the inhumane treatment of the Palestinian people – forced so brutally off their land in 1948 and still under attack today – to be so blind to the idea that injustice is injustice, regardless not just on whom it is visited, but by whom as well, is one of the defining iniquities of our age, and powerfully implies a shamingly low upper limit on the extent of our species' moral intelligence. 
The solution to the dispossession and persecution of one people can never be to dispossess and persecute another. When we do this, or participate in this, or even just allow this to happen without criticism or resistance, we only help ensure further injustice, oppression, intolerance, cruelty and violence in the future. 
We may see ourselves as many tribes, but we are one species, and in failing to speak out against injustices inflicted on some of our number and doing what we can to combat those without piling further wrongs on earlier ones, we are effectively collectively punishing ourselves. 
The BDS campaign for justice for the Palestinian people is one I would hope any decent, open-minded person would support. Gentile or Jew, conservative or leftist, no matter who you are or how you see yourself, these people are our people, and collectively we have turned our backs on their suffering for far too long.