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Condemn Use of U.S. Military to Escort Scab Grain Ship in Longview WA

Philly Workers’ Voice Blog

San Francisco Labor Council Resolution – Adopted January 9, 2012  by unanimous vote

Whereas, EGT, a joint venture led by multinational grain giant Bunge, agreed to hire union Longshoremen when accepting millions in taxpayer funds to build a huge new grain exporting terminal at the Port of Longview WA, but once the terminal was built has tried to void its contract and refused to hire ILWU labor. With the use of brutal police and courts and 220 arrests in the 225 member ILWU Local 21, EGT has managed to get enough scab grain across picket lines into the new terminal that EGT appears poised to load a ship soon in violation of their agreement with the port;  and

Whereas, a solidarity caravan of thousands of union members and community activists – endorsed by ILWU Locals 10 and 21, the S.F. and Cowlitz County (Longview) labor councils and many others – is being organized to support our brothers and sisters in Longview, for an emergency mass protest when requested to do so, to confront union-busting by Wall Street on the Waterfront; and

Whereas, according to Longshore & Shipping News, within a month, the empty grain ship will be escorted by armed U.S. Coast Guard vessels and helicopters, from the mouth of the Columbia River to the EGT facility. The Coast Guard is an integral part of the US Armed Forces, operating under the Department of Homeland Security (except when engaged in combat operations abroad, as it did in Iraq, when it operates under the Navy); and

Whereas, this is the first known use of the US military to intervene in a labor dispute on the side of management in 40 years – not since the Great 1970 Postal Strike when President Nixon called out the Army and National Guard in an (unsuccessful) attempt to break the strike. The use of the Armed Forces against labor unions is something you expect to see in a police state. This is part of a disturbing trend where the US military, acting as enforcers for the 1%,  is poised to be used against our own people, as exemplified by the new law allowing the military to imprison US citizens indefinitely without trial; and

Whereas, now the US military, which has been oppressing, bombing and threatening other nations [a military that’s paid for with the workers’ taxes] is now being used against us, against American working people and our unions. To quote ILWU international President McEllrath: “ILWU’s labor dispute with EGT is symbolic of what is wrong in the United States today. Corporations, no matter how harmful the conduct to society, enjoy full state and federal protection while workers and the middle class get treated as criminals for trying to protect their jobs and communities.”

Therefore be it Resolved, that the San Francisco Labor Council condemn in the strongest terms the announced use of US Armed Forces (Coast Guard) to provide an armed sea and air escort for the empty grain ship, which is due to call at the new EGT grain terminal, Port of Longview, Washington, to load scab grain for export to Asia. We condemn this use of the military as part of a union-busting campaign to lower the cost of labor on the waterfront and destroy the union;

And be it further Resolved, that the San Francisco Labor Council join with allies in other cities on the West Coast to participate in any press conferences and demonstrations that are organized to denounce this use of the military to intervene in a labor dispute on the side of Wall Street on the Waterfront;

And be it finally Resolved, that the Council circulate this resolution to affiliated unions, Bay Area labor councils, the California Labor Federation, as well as labor bodies in Oregon and Washington, for concurrence and action, and urge labor leaders including Richard Trumka and Mary Kay Henry to take a strong stand against this brazen assault on our labor rights and civil liberties.

January 10, 2012 Posted by | Economics, Solidarity and Activism | 1 Comment

Psychologists’ Collusion in Ongoing Illegal Detentions


As we commemorate the 10th anniversary of the arrival of the first prisoners at Guantánamo Detention Center, several thousand miles away sits another United States detention facility, less well-known but with a history perhaps even more gruesome. Obscured throughout the decade-long “global war on terror,” the detention center at Bagram Air Force Base in Afghanistan is where two detainees died in December 2002. Initial autopsies at the time ruled both deaths homicides, according to a 2,000-page confidential Army file obtained by the New York Times. Autopsies of the two dead detainees found severe trauma to both prisoners’ legs. The coroner for one of the dead noted, “I’ve seen similar injuries in an individual run over by a bus.”

In January 2009, to much fanfare, newly-elected President Barack Obama signed a directive  authorizing the closing of Guantánamo Detention Center. But a month later the new administration discreetly told a federal judge that military detainees at Bagram had no habeas corpus rights to challenge their imprisonment. At the same time, the Pentagon was moving forward on plans to build a new prison in Bagram, renamed the “Detention Facility in Parwan” (DFIP). This facility was designed to accommodate 600 prisoners under normal conditions and as many as 1,100 during a “surge.”

Today, President Obama has abandoned his inaugural pledge to close Guantánamo and there are more than 3,000 detainees at Bagram — five times the number of prisoners when the president  took office — with a scheduled expansion of the facility by the end of 2012 to house up to 5,500 detainees. One troubling constant across the developments at Bagram is the presence and involvement of psychologists at these facilities, which clearly violate international legal standards for the treatment of detainees. Among the military psychologists present during the early years of the Bagram prison were Colonel Morgan Banks, Captain Bryce Lefever, and Colonel Larry James, notable for their key roles in formulating American Psychological Association (APA) much-criticized ethics policy on psychologist-assisted interrogations.

According to Banks’ biographical statement, he “spent four months over the winter of 2001/2002 at Bagram Airfield.” More broadly, Banks provided technical, consultation, and interrogation support to all Army psychologists. He also assisted in establishing the Army’s first permanent SERE training program. As for Lefever’s biosketch, it notes that he also served at the detention center at Bagram Air Base. He “was deployed as the Joint Special Forces Task Force psychologist to Afghanistan in 2002, where he lectured to interrogators and was consulted on various interrogation techniques.”

The third military psychologist, James, was the Chief Psychologist for the Joint Intelligence Group at Guantánamo when, according to his book, Fixing Hell, he flew to Afghanistan to transfer three juveniles who had been forcibly and arbitrarily detained at Bagram. James described these boys as “the most fragile . . . children [he] had ever met,” yet he oversaw their being loaded onto a cargo plane at Bagram Air Force Base, “bound [and] blindfolded,” for a flight that typically lasted over 20 hours. Others who appear to have been transferred from Bagram to Guantánamo that same day reported being chained around the waist, wrists, back and ankles and the intense pain of being unable to speak, see, hear, move, or even stretch or breathe properly. The boys were essentially kidnapped, and were returned home a year later, having never had access to legal counsel and having never been charged with a crime.

Public information about exactly what transpires at Bagram today is scarce. The BBC was allowed a rare, one-hour visit to the new Parwan/Bagram prison in 2010. The report noted that “Prisoners are kept in 56 cells, which the prisoners refer to as ‘cages’. The front of the cells are made of mesh, the ceiling is clear, and the other three walls are solid. Guards can see down into the cells from above.” These detainees were moved around in wheelchairs, wearing goggles and headphones to block sight and sound.

In 2011, Daphne Eviatar, an attorney for Human Rights First, interviewed 18 former detainees from the main facility in Parwan and was permitted to observe seven detainee hearings there. In her detailed report she noted:

After many years of completely denying detainees in Afghanistan the opportunity to defend themselves against arbitrary detention, the United States government has finally implemented a hearing process that allows detainees to hear the charges against them and to make a statement in their own defense. Although a significant improvement, these new hearings fall short of minimum standards of due process required by international law.” [Emphasis added.]

In a subsequent interview with CBS News, Eviatar stated:

[Parwan] is worse than Guantánamo because there are fewer rights…There was no evidence presented, there was no questioning of the government’s evidence, whether this person had done anything wrong, whether he deserved to be in prison. So that’s a real problem — you have a complete lack of due process.

And in 2010 the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) confirmed the existence of a separate, second detention facility at Parwan. Many former prisoners have referred to it as the Tor Jail, translated as “Black Jail.” Nine former prisoners interviewed separately by the BBC spoke of almost identical treatment there: distressingly cold cells, perpetual loud noise, constant light, and, violating any sense of privacy, camera surveillance. One former prisoner said American soldiers made him dance to music to obtain permission to use the toilet.

Today, there are clear indications that psychologists continue to be involved in the detention and interrogation of detainees at Parwan/Bagram. Such activities stand in direct contravention of APA policy based on a 2008 petition resolution. Approved through a member-led referendum, this resolution prohibits psychologists from working in settings where “persons are held outside of, or in violation of, either International Law (e.g., the UN Convention Against Torture and the Geneva Conventions) or the US Constitution (where appropriate), unless they are working directly for the persons being detained or for an independent third party working to protect human rights” (or if they are providing treatment for military personnel).

Significant evidence that psychologists are working at Bagram/Parwan in violation of APA policy comes in part from a symposium on “Operational Problems in Behavioral Sciences” sponsored by the United States Air Force Medical Service in August 2011. The first slide of the partially redacted powerpoint presentation on the “BSCT Mission” describes the role of the Behavioral Science Consultation Team (BSCT) as providing: “…psychological expertise and consultation in order to assist the command in conducting safe, legal, ethical, and effective detention facility operations, intelligence interrogations, and detainee debriefing operations” (OTSG/MEDCOM Policy Memo 09-053).

A later slide reveals that the current BSCTs at the Parwan Detention Facility are composed of a psychologist or forensic psychiatrist, who must be licensed for independent practice, and a “behavioral science technician.” Further confirming the presence of psychologists, a June 2010 newspaper article about Parwan by the military editor of the Fayettville Observer notes: “Air Force Maj. Colin Burchfield, 34, a clinical psychologist, observes the behavior of both detainees and guards on TV monitors.”

Disturbingly, and contrary to the APA’s 2008 referendum policy, one of the key documents still used to support the ongoing involvement of psychologists at the Parwan facility is an earlier 2005 report from the APA’s “Presidential Task Force on Psychological Ethics and National Security” (the PENS Report). The PENS Report, cited in the Operational Problems powerpoint presentation described above, endorsed psychologists’ engagement in detainee interrogations — despite evidence that psychologists were involved in abusive interrogations and practices that violate international law.

Six of the nine voting members of the PENS Task Force were on the payroll of the U.S. military and/or intelligence agencies. Five of these six served in chains of command that had been accused of the kinds of abuses that led to the creation of the Task Force, including the three psychologists linked to the early Bagram prison: Dr. Morgan Banks, Dr. Bryce Lefever, and Dr. Larry James. The PENS Task Force concluded that psychologists have an important role to play in keeping interrogations “safe, legal, ethical, and effective,” and the APA Board approved the PENS Report in a highly unusual emergency vote.

The APA’s claims that it stands strongly against torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment are belied by the organization’s repeated failure to take assertive and meaningful action. There is no clearer example than the continuing participation of psychologists in detention and interrogation activities at the Parwan/Bagram prison — a site where international law itself is seemingly confined indefinitely to a small, dark cell.

But health professionals, human rights advocates, and intelligence professionals of conscience worldwide have refused to accept this status quo. One noteworthy and promising effort is an online petition campaign calling for the annulment of APA’s PENS Report. The initiative has been supported by many distinguished members of APA, as well as non-psychologists such as psychiatrists Robert Jay Lifton and bioethicist Dr. Steven Miles; scholar-activists such as Daniel Ellsberg and Noam Chomsky; attorneys who have represented Guantanamo detainees; eminent veterans of the intelligence community; and many other psychologists and human rights advocates. Please consider joining this call and signing the petition at   


Trudy Bond is an independent psychologist, steering committe member of Psycholgoists for Social Responsibility, and a member of the Coalition for an Ethical Psychology.  For questions, responses or media contact, please contact her at

Roy Eidelson is a clinical psychologist and the president of Eidelson Consulting, where he studies, writes about, and consults on the role of psychological issues in political, organizational, and group conflict settings. He is a past president of Psychologists for Social Responsibility, associate director of the Solomon Asch Center for Study of Ethnopolitical Conflict at Bryn Mawr College, and a member of the Coalition for an Ethical Psychology. Roy can be reached at

Brad Olson is an assistant professor and co-director of the Community Psychology Ph.D. Program in downtown Chicago. He is President-Elect of Psychologists for Social Responsibility (PsySR) and co-founder of the Coalition for an Ethical Psychology.

Stephen Soldz is a psychoanalyst, psychologist, public health researcher, and faculty member at the Boston Graduate School of Psychoanalysis. He edits the Psyche, Science, and Society blog. Soldz is a founder of the Coalition for an Ethical Psychology and served as a psychological consultant on several Guantánamo trials. Currently Soldz is Past-President of Psychologists for Social Responsibility [PsySR].

January 10, 2012 Posted by | Progressive Hypocrite, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | 1 Comment

“Think of the crimes you are doing to the people” – protestors challenge Israeli road apartheid

Video uploaded by on January 10, 2012
Ali Abunimah writes:

Today Palestinians attempted to drive on the road from Jericho in the Jordan Valley in the Israeli occupied West Bank, up to Ramallah. As many of the roads in the occupied West Bank are reserved for the exclusive use of Jewish settlers, Palestinians found themselves violently blocked, and then arrested by Israeli occupation forces.

Haitham al-Khatib posted this video of what happened. People tweeted about the protest using the hashtag #CarProtest.

January 10, 2012 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Timeless or most popular, Video | Comments Off on “Think of the crimes you are doing to the people” – protestors challenge Israeli road apartheid

The Delusions of ‘Liberal’ Zionism

By Roger Sheety | Palestine Chronicle | January 10, 2012

The most recent diatribe by Israeli writer A. B. Yehoshua published by Haaretz represents the latest nail in the ideological coffin of so-called liberal Zionism.  Writing out of his comfortable home in Haifa, a city that was ethnically cleansed of most of its original Palestinian residents by the end of 1948 through multiple terror campaigns and massacres, Yehoshua spends an entire article at once fuming over what he calls Palestinian “passivity” in the face of daily Israeli brutality in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and simultaneously dreading what he believes is the inevitable forthcoming bi-national state between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.

Yehoshua personifies a certain type much favoured by the Israeli/Western left, a supposed liberal Zionist who speaks of co-existence and dialogue and yet can barely tolerate the indigenous Palestinian population that remains so close to him; a novelist and playwright with several awards to his name, who is written about and praised endlessly by Zionist apologists (particularly in North America) as an example of Israeli liberalism and generosity.  Harold Bloom, the eminent American literary critic, referred to him as “a kind of Israeli Faulkner” in the New York Times.  According to the Village Voice, “Yehoshua’s stories find their way right into the unconscious … Nobel prizes have been given for less.”

Yet for all his apparent sensitivity, his artistic pathos and various accolades, he remains a man who can scarcely hide a deep-seated contempt for Palestinians and non-Zionist Jews alike.  By their words you shall know them, therefore let us more closely examine Yehoshua’s Haaretz article, titled “An unwelcome intro to the bi-national state” which begins as a response to an earlier article by Avraham Burg:

“Apart from the religious camp (owing to the structure of its religious identity), apart from the camp of the secular extremist right (owing to the violence of its fantasies), and apart from the post-Zionist left (owing to its humanitarian-cosmopolitan vision), all other political and ideological camps in Israel grasp and articulate the fact that a bi-national state in Eretz Israel is a dangerous and unfavorable possibility, both in the short term and (more particularly) in the long term.”

In his odd division of Israeli society as it stands, Yehoshua fails to mention the indigenous Palestinian citizens of Israel who form about twenty percent of the state.  He also fails to mention the four million Palestinians currently living under harsh Israeli military occupation in Gaza, East Jerusalem and the West Bank.  The several more millions of Palestinians in Diaspora and exile, who are entitled to return to their usurped homes under international law, also do not exist for Yehoshua.  It is not clear then, after all these classifications, who exactly does Yehoshua speak for besides himself?  He also informs us without explanation that bi-nationalism, as he sees it, is a terrible thing, that it is a “dangerous and unfavorable possibility both in the short term and (more particularly) in the long term.”

A clarification of Yehoshua’s dread, however, comes in this paragraph:

“Even if many of us believe that it is possible to prevent the creation of such a state through forceful political steps, there still remains an obligation to prepare for it, both intellectually and emotionally, just as we prepare for other states of emergency. The aim of such preparation is to guarantee that a bi-national state will not undermine Israel’s democratic structure, and will not completely destroy the Jewish-Israeli collective identity that took shape over the past several decades.”

At this point the reader must ask, what does Yehoshua mean by “bi-nationalism”?  Although he is afraid to come out and say it, most know that, within the context of Palestine/Israel, what Yehoshua really means by “bi-nationalism” is a true democracy:  full and equal rights for all regardless of ethnic or religious background; one person, one vote, a non-apartheid entity between the river and the sea—this is what frightens and disturbs him and other Zionist ideologues.  Indeed, so dangerous is democracy to Yehoshua that Israel must prepare for it as it “prepares for other states of emergency.”

But who is to blame for this creeping, ominous bi-nationalism (that is, real democracy)?  It is not only those do-gooders in Israel, the “humanitarian-cosmopolitans” as he calls them (that is, non-Zionist Jews), who are at fault, but also the Palestinians.  “We must realize that a bi-national state would not arise solely due to Israel’s doings,” Yehoshua writes, “its establishment also would be abetted by the silent cooperation of Palestinians, both within Israel and beyond its borders.”  Thus, not only are Palestinians at fault for being indigenous to Palestine, but they are also to blame for demanding to be treated as full equals to Israelis.  What chutzpah.

Further, Palestinians are conspiring to bring about this evil bi-nationalism through what he calls Palestinian passivity:

“This [Palestinian] vision also explains the otherwise unfathomable passivity of the Palestinians with regard to organizing civil, non-violent protest against the settlements. Perhaps it also accounts for their staying asleep at nights when thugs burn their mosques.  Unlike their brethren in Syria and other Arab states – who, bare-chested, confront army bullets fired by their own compatriots – the Palestinians passively watch accelerated settlement construction; and with their sub-conscious patience they drag us toward a bi-national state.”

Here we arrive at the climax of Yehoshua’s colonial hubris, for it seems that he is not at all aware that Palestinians have been resisting colonial powers and demanding recognition of their inalienable rights long before there was ever such a thing as the apartheid entity of “Israel.”  In fact, only a few weeks before Yehoshua penned his article, Mustafa Tamimi, 28, was murdered by Israeli Occupation forces in his village of Nabi Saleh, shot in the face by a cowardly “soldier” with a high-powered tear gas gun while hiding in his armoured vehicle.  Tamimi was indeed figuratively “bare-chested,” to use Yehoshua’s childish, clichéd, macho language, as he confronted his aggressors but it did not save him from his fate.  During that same week, Israeli bombers also killed and maimed several Palestinians in Gaza who, “bare-chested” or not, were unlikely to even see their killers before being obliterated by Israeli bombs.

Yehoshua, however, also extends his colonialist attitude to other Jews, or at least to those who do not agree with him:

“Simultaneously, relying on thousands of years of ‘expertise,’ the Jews once again inseminate and cultivate themselves in the womb of another people’s identity, a people that belongs to the huge Arab nation.  In so doing, Jews here act exactly as their ancestors did in the Ukraine, Poland, Yemen, Iraq and Germany; partly out of fear, partly out of passion, the Jews pull themselves toward a situation that brought calamity to them in the past and which, still more poignantly, will deliver a mortal blow to any possibility of national normalization under Israeli sovereignty.”

What is one to make of such bizarre incoherence?  Yehoshua, as according to Zionist ideology, conflates the histories, experiences and aspirations of, for example, Yemeni Jews to those of Ukrainian Jews.  They all act, think and feel the same, you see.  Not only that, but by behaving as if they were indigenous to their countries of birth (which in reality they are), they also “pull themselves toward a situation that brought calamity to them in the past…”  In other words, it’s their own fault if they were persecuted in their countries of birth because they dared to belong there; they “inseminate and cultivate themselves in the womb of another people’s identity” in his words.  Furthermore, this would be tragic not because of the persecution as such but because it would prevent “any possibility of national normalization under Israeli sovereignty.”

For Yehoshua, Jews living outside of Israel live in a state of abnormality and artificiality.  To become normal and real they must, naturally, move to Israel.  “Diaspora Judaism is masturbation,” he once told The Jerusalem Post, “Here [in Israel], it is the real thing.”  To the New York Times he stated that a “full Jewish life could only be had in the Jewish state” and that Jews outside of the state were only “playing with Judaism.”  In a speech to the American Jewish Committee he stated, “[Diaspora Jews] change [their] nationalities like jackets.  Once they were Polish and Russian; now they are British and American. One day they could choose to be Chinese or Singaporean… For me, Avraham Yehoshua, there is no alternative… I cannot keep my identity outside Israel. [Being] Israeli is my skin, not my jacket.”

As offensive as this is, it remains perfectly consistent with Zionist ideology which still views Judaism, a religion, in nineteenth century European racialist, supremacist and nationalist terms.  Yehoshua thus remains the unrepentant colonialist par excellence, for he knows what is best not only for Palestinians, who trouble him so much by their mere existence, but also for non-Zionist Jews who freely choose to live within the nationality and country of their birth as is their right.

Unlike more openly racist anti-Palestinian figures like Avigdor Lieberman, Newt Gingrich and the increasingly unhinged Benjamin Netanyahu, Yehoshua, like many other supposed liberals, conceal and couch their hostility to Palestinians within artistic and academic pretensions, sophistry, figurative language and whatever lavish acclaim is given them.  But scratch just a little below the surface and you discover that Yehoshua’s liberalism goes no further than his ingrained ideology; a liberalism which, when it approaches the Palestinian person in particular, suddenly stops and fully reverses itself.  There is a clear and concise word for this phenomenon—it is called hypocrisy.

– Roger Sheety is a writer and researcher.

January 10, 2012 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | 3 Comments

Israel’s student debate champions are “hasbara” agents for the state, says their coach

By Ali Abunimah – The Electronic Intifada – 01/10/2012
Hasbarists considered it a victory that students from Ireland “a particularly hostile country” affixed a Star of David to the Irish flag. Hebrew caption says “Winning at hasbara.” (Ynet)

Last week, Israeli media were filled with pride and praise for Omer and Sela Nevo, two brothers and students from Tel Aviv University who won the World Universities Debating Championships in the English as Second Language category, held in Manila.

The English edition of Israel’s Ynet reported on it briefly, noting:

Six months ago, the two won first place at the European championship held in Ireland. Also, this is the second time in the past three years that an Israeli team has won the world championship.

Student debaters as undeclared agents of the state

“So what” you might ask? Isn’t this just Israeli youth being like youth from all over the world and excelling in an international contest? Not according to the debate team’s coach, Yoni Cohen-Idov, himself a former debate champion, who explained that one of the main purposes of Israeli debate is hasbara – propaganda – for the state. Indeed, Cohen-Idov stresses that the effectiveness of student hasbara agents stems from the very fact that “they are not understood to be ‘agents’ of the state.”

Writing in the Hebrew edition of Ynet on 5 January, translated for The Electronic Intifada by Dena Shunra, Cohen-Idov explained (emphasis added):

Israeli debate has an important goal: hasbara. There is one place in this world where students from the National Muslim University in Malaysia embrace Israelis after they clobber them, where Catholic students from Ireland (a particularly hostile country) stick a blue Star of David on their national flag, and Turks wave blue and white banners – and that is the debating stage.

Israel’s debaters are the best ambassadors that the state can offer: they can convey a message, be persuasive, talk to an audience, function under pressure – and they are not understood to be “agents” of the state. You should have seen the compassion shown by Iraqi students to explanations by the Israeli delegation during the world competition, during Cast Lead, in order to understand what I’m talking about.

Despite this, most Israelis – including government offices and authorities – have not yet understood the meaning of that foreign word, and they are somewhat amused at the fact that we’re learning and teaching how to argue. Initiatives of many debaters to help with Israeli hasbara, even on a volunteer basis, met with no response; even in educational institutions, the penny hasn’t entirely dropped. The whole world is already in on the secret of debating, and sees Israel as an empire. It’s time for us to wise up, too, and start using our excellent debaters for goals that are even more important than bringing in wholesale quantities of trophies.

While debate ought to be about quick and critical thinking, the Cohen-Idov is eager for his charges to become – voluntarily – mouthpieces of state propaganda, even explaining away Israel’s Gaza massacre (“Operation Cast Lead”) to Iraqis.

This eagerness to recruit students into state propaganda efforts fits into a broader context where the National Union of Israeli Students is involved in several state propaganda efforts including paying students for spreading Israel’s message online, and subjecting students to compulsory Ministry of Hasbara training before sending them on foreign delegations.

Apparently, conquering the flag of “hostile” Ireland is the next great victory.

January 10, 2012 Posted by | Deception, Timeless or most popular | Comments Off on Israel’s student debate champions are “hasbara” agents for the state, says their coach

Military court approves illegal interrogation of a minor

10 January 2012 | Popular Struggle Coordination Committee

Major Sharon Rivlin, a judge at the Ofer Military Court, accepted as admissible the testimony of a 14 year-old Palestinian boy who was unlawfully arrested in the dead of night, questioned without being allowed sleep, denied his right to legal counsel and not told of his right to remain silent.

A motion to rule inadmissible the confession of 14 year-old Islam Dar Ayyoub from the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh was denied by a military judge yesterday. The motion was part of a trial-within-a-trial procedure at the Ofer Military Court, where the boy is being charged with throwing stones. During the trial, it was proven that the boy’s interrogation was fundamentally flawed and violated the rights set forth in the Israeli Youth Law in the following ways:

The boy was arrested at gunpoint in the dead of night, during a violent military raid on his house.

  1. Despite being a minor, he was denied sleep in the period between his arrest and questioning, which began the following morning and lasted over 5 hours.
  2. Despite being told he would be allowed to see a lawyer, he was denied legal counsel, although his lawyer appeared at the police station requesting to see him.
  3. He was denied his right to have a parent present during his questioning. The testimony of one of his interrogators before the court suggests that he believes Palestinian minors do not enjoy this right.
  4. He was not informed of his right to remain silent, and was even told by his interrogators that he “must tell of everything that happened.”
  5. Only one of four interrogators who participated in the questioning was a qualified youth interrogator.

The above mentioned Israeli Youth Law and the protection it is meant to ensure for minors during their interrogations is not officially part of the Israeli military code for trying Palestinians in Israeli military courts. However, the Military Court of Appeals repeatedly ruled that it should be applied when interrogating Palestinian minors in the Occupied Territories nonetheless.

Nevertheless, the military judge determined that the boy’s confession should not be ruled inadmissible, saying that “In my opinion, the infringement on the defendant’s rights in this concrete case, did not amount to a violation of his right in a way that will sufficiently endanger his right to a fair trial […].” The decision was made despite a psychiatric expert opinion handed to the court which determined that a boy of 14 undergoing such an interrogation could not be considered to have given a statement of his own free will.

Adv Gaby Lasky, the boy’s lawyer, said, “A reality in which the military court decides to accept the confession of a 14 year-old as admissible evidence despite severe and undisputed violation of his rights during both his arrest and interrogation, is unacceptable. It is an incomprehensible decision, unveiling the fact that legislation allegedly intended to protect minors’ rights is no more than lip service when Palestinians are concerned. This ruling sends a clear message that illegal arrest and interrogation of Palestinian minors can continue unhindered.”

See here for the defense’s closing arguments (in Hebrew).

See here for the judge’s decision (in Hebrew).

January 10, 2012 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Timeless or most popular | Comments Off on Military court approves illegal interrogation of a minor

My children keep asking me ‘will there be another war’

10 January 2012 | Palestinian Centre for Human Rights

On 10 January 2009, at around 16:30, Wafa al-Radea (39) and her sister Ghada (32) were targeted by two Israeli drone missiles while walking on Haboub street, one of the main roads in Beit Lahiya. The sisters were walking during the Israeli announced hour long ceasefire, and were on their way to a clinic nearby because Wafa felt that she was close to delivering a baby. Both women were severely injured in the attack.

“When people came to help I could hear them speak but was unable to respond. They were saying that I was dead,” remembers Wafa. While Ghada was taken to hospital with severe injuries to her legs, people had covered Wafa as they thought she was dead. Eventually an ambulance brought her to a hospital where doctors carried out a caesarean section surgery in an attempt to save her baby. It was only during the surgery the doctors realized Wafa was still alive. While her son, Iyad, was born, doctors amputated Wafa’s right leg and attempted to treat her other injuries. On 12 January both sisters were transferred to a hospital in Egypt for additional medical treatment. Wafa underwent a series of operations until the end of April and then had 3 months of rehabilitation. Wafa and Ghada returned to Gaza on 29 and 27 June 2009.

Wafa vividly remembers the months she spent in Egypt. “My clearest memory of that time is the unbearable pain caused by the changing of the bandages. It took nurses 5 to 6 hours each time. I underwent many surgeries. After an operation to transplant skin from my left thigh to a lower part of my leg, nurses removed the transplanted cells by mistake when cleaning the wound. I had to undergo the same surgery again, this time taking skin from my arms. I was screaming because of the pain. My brother Walid (25) lost consciousness and was bleeding from his nose. He couldn’t bear what was happening to me. I was very angry at everyone after the operation.” Wafa’s brother Walid was with her throughout the whole period in Egypt. She didn’t see any other relatives from Gaza. “It was very difficult for them to visit me because travelling to Egypt is costly and they had to look after the children,” she says.

Wafa is the mother of 8 children: Ehab (20), Lina (19), Hani (17), Shourouq (15), Mo’taz (13), Saher (12), Jehad (9), and Iyad (3). During her time in Egypt Wafa had limited contact with her children. She says: “in the first 3 months I couldn’t speak to my children over the phone. I refused. I was unable to talk. They were waiting for me for 6 months. The children were curious to know what happened to me.”

“When I left my children I was walking and my children had not seen my wounds. The most difficult moment was when I came back with only 1 leg and many injuries. I was a different Wafa. When I came back I was supposed to be happy and the people were supposed to be happy for seeing me but everyone was crying,” Wafa recalls. “I noticed that my children watched my every move. Jehad kept following me with his eyes, watching how I went to the living room, how I sat down. He refused to go out and play with other children. He just wanted to stay with me in the home. I was very affected by the situation of my children. They are always ready to help me whenever I try to move or do anything.”

Wafa’s eldest daughters, Lina (19) and Shourouq (16) had taken care of Iyad while their mother was in hospital in Egypt. “One of them would go to school in the morning and leave Iyad with her sister. In the afternoon it was the other way around.” She continues: “when I came home they brought Iyad and put him on my lap. He was blond and beautiful and I thought he was a nephew. I couldn’t imagine that he was my son. I asked them about Iyad and they told me that he was on my lap.” Wafa takes a lot of strength from having her children around her. She says “I am very grateful and happy for having my children. They help me with everything and keep my morale high. Even when I am sad, I would smile if my children came to me. I want them to feel that I am happy because I am with them.”

Wafa finds it difficult to accept help from her children: “I always used to be the one who would help them. Before, I used to go to the school to check on the children and walk to the market to do the shopping. Now if want to go out I must use a car. And if I want to move in the house I must use a wheelchair. I also use the walkers and if Iyad wants to take my hand I cannot give him my hand because I am afraid that I will fall. I need my hands to hold the walkers.”

Wafa received one year of physiotherapy in Gaza for her back, pelvis and her left leg. Despite several attempts, so far she has no prosthetic leg. She also still undergoes treatment for her left leg. “My leg is getting better but I am still in hospital from time to time, for example when I have inflammations. One month ago I was in hospital for 6 days. In winter my wounds hurt more and I feel pain in my pelvis, back, abdomen and legs.”

Despite constantly being confronted with the past Wafa tries to focus on the future. “I hope that our children will not have to pass through similar experiences when they are older. I wish that their lives will be better. But my children keep asking me ‘will there be another war, come again and kill us all?’ They are afraid and I see how the war negatively impacted on them,” she says.

Wafa feels great frustration over how the crime against her and her sister caused so much suffering and yet goes unpunished. “It has been 3 years since they [Israel] attacked us and there is still no response. I spoke to many people from human rights organizations about my story and what is the result of it? There is no result or action whatsoever.”

PCHR submitted a criminal complaint to the Israeli authorities on behalf of Wafa al-Radea on 07 October 2009. To-date, no response has been received.

January 10, 2012 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | Comments Off on My children keep asking me ‘will there be another war’

Third Parties Are Not Spoilers

Open Letter to the Wall Street Journal

By Ralph Nader | January 10, 2012

How unbecoming it is for the self-styled freedom-loving Wall Street Journal (“Ron Paul Nader?” Dec. 21) to use the politically bigoted word “spoiler” to describe a hypothetical Ron Paul-Libertarian party presidential run.

Why is a third-party candidate called a “spoiler” when the nominees of the Republican and Democratic parties, that have given us a spoiled political system (corrupted by the highest bidder) are never referred to in such a pejorative way? These two decaying parties do not own the voters in this country, though they act that way through their many state laws obstructing outside competition.

Since all candidates are supposed to have the equal right to run for election, then they are either all spoilers of one another in seeking votes or none of them deserve to be called “spoilers.” Candidates from smaller parties are not second-class citizens. After all, either of the major party candidates “takes away” far more votes from the other than any third party candidate does.

January 10, 2012 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering | Comments Off on Third Parties Are Not Spoilers

Ballot Access Concerns

Open Letter to the New York Times

By Ralph Nader | January 10, 2012

Attorney General Eric H. Holder, Jr. followed his declaration in the New York Times in late December that ballot access for voters “must be viewed not only as a legal issue but as a moral imperative” with a lawsuit to block an allegedly discriminatory South Carolina law. Too bad he does not feel the same way about state ballot laws that obstruct access for candidates who are not members of the Republican-Democratic Party duopoly.

Decade after decade, state laws have erected many barriers against the rights of Third Party and Independent candidates to achieve ballot status, challenge this duopoly and give voters more choices.

Neither a smug Congress nor the federal executive and judicial branches have advanced any comparable rights for candidates as they belatedly have with voter rights. In fact, the U.S. Supreme Court and Congress have repulsed efforts to seek federal relief from draconian state ballot hurdles.

At the least, Congress should replace the 50 different state requirements for candidates seeking federal office with one uniform federal ballot access law closer to the far more accessible standards for candidates in all other western nations. The value of candidate rights and voter rights are mutually reinforcing.

January 10, 2012 Posted by | Aletho News | Comments Off on Ballot Access Concerns

Waging War against Iran is a Criminal Act, in Violation of International Law

By Prof. Francis A. Boyle | Global Research | January 7, 2012

Article 2 (3) of the United Nations Charter requires the pacific settlement of the international dispute between the United States and Iran. To the same effect is article 33 and the entirety of Chapter VI of the United Nations Charter that mandate and set up numerous procedures for the pacific settlement of the international dispute between the United States and Iran. And of course Article 2(4) of the U.N. Charter prohibits both the threat and use of force by the United States against Iran.

Furthermore, both Iran and the United States are parties to the Kellogg-Briand Peace Pact of 1928, upon which legal basis the Nazi Leaders were prosecuted by the United States, inter alia, at Nuremberg for Crimes against Peace, sentenced to death, and executed. In Article I thereof the States Parties “condemn recourse to war for the solution of international controversies, and renounce it, as an instrument of national policy in their relations with one another.” The United States has been illegally threatening war against Iran going back to the Bush Jr. Administration. Article II requires the United States only to pursue a pacific settlement of its international dispute with Iran: “The High Contracting Parties agree that the settlement or solution of all disputes or conflicts of whatever nature or of whatever origin they may be, which may arise among them, shall never be sought except by pacific means.”

Finally, both the United States and Iran are parties to the 1899 Hague Convention for the Pacific Settlement of International Disputes. This seminal Hague Peace Convention establishes numerous mechanisms for the pacific settlement of international disputes between contracting parties that are too numerous to analyze here. But they are discussed in detail in my book Foundations of World Order (Duke University Press: 1999). According to article 27 thereof, if a serious dispute threatens to break out between contracting powers, it was the DUTY of the other contracting powers to remind them that the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague is open to them, and such reminder could not be treated as an unfriendly act of intervention by the disputants. Today the world needs one State party to either the 1899 Hague Convention for the Pacific Settlement of International Disputes or the 1907 Hague Convention for the Pacific Settlement of International Disputes to publicly remind both the United States and Iran that the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, together with its International Bureau and the entirety of the 1899 Hague Convention for the Pacific Settlement of International Disputes , are available to the two States in order to resolve their dispute in a peaceful manner.

After the terrorist assassination of Archduke Francis Ferdinand in Sarajevo in June of 1914, Serbia made an offer to Austria to submit the entire dispute to “the International Tribunal of The Hague”—i.e.,to the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague. Austria did not accept the offer, the First World War broke out, and about 10 Million Human Beings were needlessly slaughtered.

The death toll from World War III will be incalculable. Humanity must not allow our history to repeat itself! Otherwise, that could be the end of our Humanity.

Francis A. Boyle is Professor of International Law

January 10, 2012 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | Comments Off on Waging War against Iran is a Criminal Act, in Violation of International Law

Two Arab League observers wounded in protestor attack in Syria

KUNA – 1/10/2012

KUWAIT – Two Kuwaiti military officers have been lightly wounded in an attack by protestors on a team of the Arab League observers in Syria, the Kuwaiti Army announced on Tuesday.

– The team of the Arab League mission in Syria was attacked by unknown protestors, said a statement released by the directorate of morale guidance and public relations of the general staff of the Kuwaiti Army.

The attack resulted in injuring, lightly, two Kuwaiti officers of the mission, the official statement said. The two Kuwaiti officers were transported to hospital where they were given the necessary treatment, it said.

Now, the officers are in good health condition and have resumed their duties at headquarters of the Arab mission. A team of the Arab mission, including officers from Kuwait, the UAE, Iraq, Morocco and Algeria was attacked during a mission in the northern city of Lakatia, on Monday.

On Jan 8, the Kuwaiti Army announced sending a number of officers to join the Arab League observers’ mission currently monitoring the situation in Syria as part of the Gulf Cooperation Council’s team within the delegation.

A statement by the army said this comes virtue of the decisions of the ministerial council of the Arab League regarding the Arab Initiative and the protocol concerning League observers in Syria.

The GCC had decided to send a team of officials representing all member countries to serve within the Arab League monitoring mission and within the restraints and guidelines of International Law and agreements.

January 10, 2012 Posted by | False Flag Terrorism | Comments Off on Two Arab League observers wounded in protestor attack in Syria