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Hillary’s Double-Standard on Protests


Ray McGovern displaying the aftermath of his arrest during a speech by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on February 15, 2011
By Robert Parry | Consortium News | March 11, 2106

Hillary Clinton has excoriated Donald Trump for failing to stop a supporter from roughing up a protester during a speech, saying “This kind of behavior is repugnant. We set the tone for our campaigns — we should encourage respect, not violence.” Yet, in 2011, she did nothing to stop security personnel from brutalizing a 71-year-old veteran who stood silently with his back to her during a speech.

The protester, Ray McGovern, a retired Army officer and CIA analyst, was wearing a black “Veterans for Peace” T-shirt, when he was set upon within sight of Secretary of State Clinton, who ironically was delivering a speech about the importance of foreign leaders respecting dissent. The assault on McGovern left him bruised and bloodied but it didn’t cause Clinton to pause as she coolly continued on, not missing a beat.

The Feb. 15, 2011 incident at George Washington University in Washington prompted an email from Clinton’s personal adviser Sidney Blumenthal who noted that “something bad happened” and suggested that Clinton have someone reach out and apologize to McGovern. Clinton, however, chose not to do so, although criminal charges against McGovern were dropped.

Subsequently, McGovern was placed on the State Department’s “Be On the Look-out” or BOLO alert list, instructing police to “USE CAUTION, stop” and question him and also contact the State Department’s Diplomatic Security Command Center.

After learning of the BOLO alert, the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund (PCJF), which is representing McGovern in connection with the 2011 incident, interceded to have the warning lifted. But McGovern wondered if the warning played a role in 2014 when he was aggressively arrested by New York City police at the entrance to the 92nd Street Y where he had hoped to pose a question to a speaker there, one of Clinton’s friendly colleagues, former CIA Director and retired General David Petraeus.

After that arrest on Oct. 30, 2014, McGovern wrote, “God only knows (and then only if God has the proper clearances) what other organs of state security had entered the ‘derogatory’ information about the danger of my ‘political activism’ into their data bases. Had my ‘derog’ been shared, perhaps, with the ever-proliferating number of ‘fusion centers’ that were so effective in sharing information to track and thwart the activists of Occupy including subversives like Quakers and Catholic Workers?”

On Feb. 15, 2011, McGovern attended Clinton’s GWU speech, deciding on the spur of the moment after feeling revulsion at the “enthusiastic applause” that welcomed the Secretary of State “to dissociate myself from the obsequious adulation of a person responsible for so much death, suffering and destruction.

“The fulsome praise for Clinton from GW’s president and the loud, sustained applause also brought to mind a phrase that as a former Soviet analyst at CIA I often read in Pravda. When reprinting the text of speeches by high Soviet officials, the Communist Party newspaper would regularly insert, in italicized parentheses: ‘Burniye applaudismenti; vce stoyat’ ,  Stormy applause; all rise.

“With the others at Clinton’s talk, I stood. I even clapped politely. But as the applause dragged on, I began to feel like a real phony. So, when the others finally sat down, I remained standing silently, motionless, wearing my ‘Veterans for Peace’ T-shirt, with my eyes fixed narrowly on the rear of the auditorium and my back to the Secretary.

“I did not expect what followed: a violent assault in full view of Madam Secretary by what we Soviet analysts used to call the ‘organs of state security.’ The rest is history, as they say. A short account of the incident can be found here.

“As the video of the event shows, Secretary Clinton did not miss a beat in her speech as she called for authoritarian governments to show respect for dissent and to refrain from violence. She spoke with what seemed to be an especially chilly sang froid, as she ignored my silent protest and the violent assault which took place right in front of her.

“The experience gave me personal confirmation of the impression that I reluctantly had drawn from watching her behavior and its consequences over the past decade. The incident was a kind of metaphor of the much worse violence that Secretary Clinton has coolly countenanced against others.

“Again and again, Hillary Clinton both as a U.S. senator and as Secretary of State has demonstrated a nonchalant readiness to unleash the vast destructiveness of American military power. The charitable explanation, I suppose, is that she knows nothing of war from direct personal experience.” [For more of McGovern’s account of his arrest, see’s “Standing Up to War and Hillary Clinton.”]

Proposed Apology

In the email exchange, Blumenthal suggested that Clinton “have someone apologize to Ray McGovern,” but referred to the incident and McGovern in condescending terms, noting that McGovern’s mistreatment has “become a minor cause célèbre on the Internet among lefties.” As for McGovern, Blumenthal said the former CIA analyst who was a presidential briefer to George H.W. Bush has “become a Christian antiwar leftist who goes around bearing witness. Whatever his views, he’s harmless.”

Clinton responded, “I appreciate your sending thgis [sic] to me. Neither State nor my staff had anything to do w this. The man stood up just as I was starting and GW – which claims their quick actions were part of their standard operating procedures to remove anyone who stands up and starts speaking while an invited guest is talking – moved to remove him. GW claims he was not in any way injured.”

However, McGovern was not speaking, simply standing quietly until he was attacked by the police. As for Clinton, no apology was forthcoming, nor any further explanation of why she failed to stop police from roughing up a peaceful protester in her presence. She now has chosen to lecture Donald Trump on the need to demonstrate respect toward protesters.

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and

March 11, 2016 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular | , | Leave a comment

Canadian duplicity and Israeli Apartheid

Israel Boycott divest sanction 1f1a8

Author’s Note: An elaboration of the Israeli-imposed deprivations on the Palestinian population is presented in an extraordinary , data-driven web-site called “Visualizing Palestine”, which also formed the basis of a student presentation at Hamilton’s (ON, Canada) McMaster University.

Information from the site, and the McMaster outdoor presentation, form the basis of much of the information in this article.

Special thanks to McMaster Muslims For Peace and Justice, and Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights.

By Mark Taliano | American Herald Tribune | March 10, 2016

If Canada were to support real, productive change, it would support rather than condemn peaceful citizen initiatives such as the Boycott Divest Sanction (BDS) campaign.

Instead, Canada continues to support international lawlessness abroad, and an on-going domestic policy of police state repression, welded to a nexus of complicit agencies — most notably mainstream media — to stifle our freedom of dissent.

International law presents a powerful case against apartheid Israel.

In an earlier article, for example, this author noted that,

“The International Criminal Court (ICJ) ruled in 2004 that the West Bank wall was ‘illegal in its entirety,’ and that compensation should be paid to those affected. Additionally, the U.N General Assembly passed a resolution supporting the ICJ’s call to dismantle the wall.”

Not only is the wall a breach of international law, but it also represents a “land-grab”. 85% of the wall is located on the occupied West Bank. Upon completion, 46% of the West bank will be locked into ghettos.  Even now, there are separate, apartheid road systems which separate Israeli from Palestinian drivers.

The territory of Gaza is accurately described as an “open air prison”. The illegal blockade of the land, air, and sea, is itself is a form of collective punishment, and a violation of the Geneva Conventions and international humanitarian law.

Israel imposes a “diet” on Palestinians. A 2010 study entitled, Humanitarian Minimum| Israel’s Role in Creating Food And Water Insecurity in the Gaza Strip provides strong evidence that Israel’s imposition of food and water insecurity on Gaza is part of its illegal military strategy of collective punishment.

According to REPORT TO UNRWA: THE GAZA HEALTH SECTOR AS OF JUNE 2014, 90 % of the water in Gaza is unfit for human consumption. A June, 2006 Israeli airstrike on the Gaza Power Plant contributed to a nexus of health deprivations, one symptom of which is that one third of Gazan households are provided with running (unclean) water for 6-8 hours once every four days. Whereas an Israeli uses about 300, liters of (clean) water per person, per day, Gazans are restricted to 70 litres (contaminated) water per day. Again all of these deprivations were pre-planned.

Meanwhile, cement quotas undermine rebuilding efforts: it would take 17 years to adequately rebuild infrastructure. Despite the fact of power shortages and poor healthcare infrastructure — 50% of Gazan hospitals were damaged in 2008/09 — 21% of medical permits to exit through the Eretz crossing are denied.

Engineered homelessness also adds to the deprivations: In 2014 alone, 18,000 Palestinian housing units were destroyed, and 108,000 Palestinians remain homeless.

Israel also breaches the Fourth Geneva Convention in terms of its treatment of Palestinian prisoners:

  • Whereas prisoners must not be detained outside the territory under occupation, Israel detains all Palestinian prisoners in Israel. There are 6,700 Palestinians in Israeli prisons, but there are no Israelis in Palestinian prisons.
  • Whereas prisoners are not to be subjected to torture, Palestinian prisoners are regularly tortured.  200 prisoners have been killed by torture, medical negligence, or the use of fatal force.
  • Whereas prisoners are not to be sentenced without a proper trial, since 2000, Israel has placed 20,000 Palestinians under administrative detention – without charge or trial.

The institutionalized racism, the war, the occupation, the imprisonment, and the intentional denial of human rights and freedoms takes a tremendous, sometimes hidden, toll. The United Nations (UN) estimates that about 370,000 children in Gaza require psycho-social support.

The totality of these imposed restrictions amounts to genocide:

The definition of “genocide”, as defined by Articles II and III of the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide:

“Article II: In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group, as such:

(a) Killing members of the group;

(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;

(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;

(d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;

(e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

Article III: The following acts shall be punishable:
(a) Genocide;

(b) Conspiracy to commit genocide;

(c) Direct and public incitement to commit genocide;

(d) Attempt to commit genocide;

(e) Complicity in genocide. ”

All of this illegality is an outgrowth of a racist settler-colonial dynamic where illegal discrimination is politicized. Political operatives have distorted and degraded the teachings of Judaism and Islam to the point that engineered religious facades are used as instruments of division to wage illegal war and genocide.

The duplicity of the Canadian government in condemning the BDS movement on the one hand, while publically stating on the other that Canada will be a “frank voice in the Middle East” is a symbol of Canada’s duplicity.

The “perception management” wing of our military –industrial-media complex presents Canada in a favourable, judicious light; whereas sustainable evidence demonstrates that our foreign policy posturing conceals a deeply-rooted and degenerate criminality.

March 11, 2016 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Solidarity and Activism, Timeless or most popular | , , , | 4 Comments

Hillary Clinton – Another great President for Israel

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By Miko Peled | American Herald Tribune | March 11, 2016

The 2016 AIPAC convention looks like it’s going to be sad and lusterless. With President Obama conveniently in Cuba, Israeli PM Netanyahu doesn’t feel like making the trip to the US so he will speak to the attendees via satellite. Donald Trump apparently only goes to his own events, Bernie Sanders does not seem to be an AIPAC type of guy, he has no taste for PACs altogether making it unlikely that he will show up. So the list of speakers is pretty boring. But wait, breaking news! A ray of light is finally shining in on the lusterless AIPAC convention: Hillary Clinton, still a serious AIPAC pawn, and a politician that loves herself some PAC money, confirmed that she will be there in person! So for now at least, Hilary promises to be the main highlight of this year’s AIPAC event.

There will obviously be others there to speak for AIPAC: Questionable dignitaries like Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barakat, and war criminal Avi Dichter (former head of Israel’s secret police, the Shabak), are confirmed. Other lesser dignitaries from Israel include mayors of small cities, two bit politicians, journalists and other hangers-on who jumped at the opportunity to get a free all-expenses-paid trip to America. There are a few has-beens, drab ambassadors, greying senators and members of congress that are excited to speak in front of any crowd. That’s really all the attendees have to look forward to. Oh, and of course there are the symbolic Palestinians, willing to debase themselves and shame their families by standing with Israel and showing the world what a wonderful democracy she really is, (after all, they too deserve a free trip to America). This year these are Ali Abu Awad and Mohammad Darawshe.

Hilary Clinton who likes to call herself “Progressive” apparently did not get the memo telling her that during the AIPAC convention Progressives will be on the outside of the D.C. convention center. While the above-mentioned speakers will be groveling, explaining, excusing and justifying Israel’s genocidal policies, Progressives, and all other people of conscience will be outside demanding justice for Palestine. We will be demanding the right of return for all Palestinian refugees, freedom for Palestinian prisoners and calling in no uncertain terms for the end of Israel’s seven decade long strangulation of Palestine.

AIPAC has a lot of problems these days, and the following is a short list of these problems. BDS is gaining more victories every day, it is gaining more support and recognition worldwide, thanks in part to the attempts by Israel and its supporters to legislate against it; the presence of Students for Justice in Palestine on campuses is more pronounced than ever. Like wild flowers in spring they are spreading all over the US; there is a growing understanding in the US regarding the issue of Palestine, and the conclusion that more and more people are reaching is that Israel is an embarrassment. It has become more apparent to people in all walks of life that the plight of the Palestinians has to end, that the legitimacy that the world has bestowed upon the settler-colonial project in Palestine, also known as Israel, was premature if not all together wrong, and that it is time to remedy the situation.

But for Hillary none of this matters, so it is likely that her speech will begin with reminding the crowd of the unending love between her and Israel. She will reminisce on the wonderful relations that her husband Bill had with Israel – after all it was he who pushed and facilitated the peace process which acted as an enormous fig leaf and allowed Israel to steal more Palestinian land, erase the West Bank and destroy what little there was of the Palestinian economy, he made sure that life for Palestinians would become completely intolerable.

Hillary is not likely to mention this, but what is arguably the biggest gift President Bill Clinton gave Israel was to sign Executive Order 12947 on January 23, 1995. This order designated as “Specially Designated Terrorists,” or STD’s a list of people and organizations that Israel deemed to be “threatening disruption of the Middle East peace process.” It made opposition to the same process that brought disaster after disaster upon the Palestinian people, i.e. the “peace” process, a crime. This order legalized the persecution and prosecution of Muslims and Arabs in America, focusing particularly on those whom the Israeli government did not like.

The list of organizations that were designated as terrorists includes Hamas and Hezbollah, the PFLP, (Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine), and other Palestinian organizations that are dedicated to resistance against the Israeli occupation and who realized early on that the peace process was a sham. It lumped them in with Jewish underground terrorist groups, Al Qaeda and several other international terrorist organizations. This order made it possible for President George W. Bush to close the Holy Land Foundation (HLF) in December 2001, and order the Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC) to seize millions of dollars that were donated by American Muslims to feed the poor in Palestine. The Holy Land Foundation, which at the time was the largest Muslim charity in the United States, was accused of funding Hamas, which thanks to Bill Clinton was a designated terrorist organization. It was a false accusation based on lies, falsified evidence and unsubstantiated testimonies and it brought about the closure of the organization and the imprisonment of Shukri Abu-Baker, Ghassan Elashi, Mufid Abdulqader, Abdulrahman Odeh and Mohammad Elmezain, also known as the HLF-5.

Hilary will surely tell the AIPAC crowd that she will outdo Bill and she will do even more for Israel. She may rest assured that the AIPAC convention attendees will welcome her warmly, and they in turn can expect that if elected she too will be a good president for Israel. Sadly, there are still a handful of millionaires and politicians in the US who are not embarrassed to stand with Israel. But the list is obviously shrinking and pretty soon AIPAC will find itself with a very short list of speakers willing to come to its conventions. As for 2016, if they are very lucky maybe Marco Rubio or Ben Carson will have time to stop by.

Miko Peled is an Israeli writer and activist living in the US. He was born and raised in Jerusalem. His father was the late Israeli General Matti Peled. Driven by a personal family tragedy to explore Palestine, its people and their narrative. He has written a book about his journey from the sphere of the privileged Israeli to that of the oppressed Palestinians. His book is titled “The General’s Son, Journey of an Israeli in Palestine.” Peled speaks nationally and internationally on the issue of Palestine. Peled supports the creation of a single democratic state in all of Palestine, he is also a firm supporter of BDS.

March 11, 2016 Posted by | Corruption, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Clinton’s Email Hypocrisy


By Bart Gruzalski | Consortium News | March 11, 2016

Hillary Clinton’s smooth-talking subterfuges about her email server continued in the debate on March 9. Univision’s Jorge Ramos raised the issue: “When you were Secretary of State you wrote 104 emails in your private server that the government now says contained classified information according to the Washington Post and others. That goes against a memo you personally sent to employees in 2011 directing all of them to use official email precisely because of security concerns. So it seems that you issued one set of rules for yourself and a different set of rules for employees at the State Department.”

After asking who approved her private server, Ramos asked the memorable question: “If you get indicted will you drop out?”

The key line in Clinton’s response: “Here’s the cut-to-the-chase fact: I did not send any emails marked ‘classified’ at the time.” We’ve heard that line over and over again the past weeks.   Ramos asked his question again: “If you get indicted would you drop out?” Hillary: “Oh, for goodness, it’s not gonna happen. I’m not even going to answer that question.”

By continually claiming that none of her emails were marked “classified,” Clinton has convinced many of her supporters that she is innocent of putting classified information at risk: Her parsing of words — “marked classified” rather than simply “classified” — continues to work for her.

We have excellent reasons for doubting that Hillary “never sent classified emails.” Hillary stated clearly that she was “well aware of the classification requirements.” The Washington Post discovered the email equivalent of a “smoking gun” when it reported that Clinton had written three-quarters of the classified emails herself. That undermined her defense that they weren’t “marked” classified. If any should have been marked “classified,” It was her job to label them.

Under pressure by Fox host Bret Baier on March 7, Hillary added that it was the State Department’s job to classify the emails she sent out. The suggestion that it was the State Department’s job to classify her outgoing emails is ludicrous. No one else had the access to her private server. In her 2011 email to State Department employees, she shows that she is aware of the dangers of using a private server.

Hillary will undoubtedly continue to dance around questions involving her email. Even if she is forced to testify before a grand jury, her grand jury testimony will remain sealed. Those who are asking her the hard questions in public need to ask very simple and direct questions that leave her no wiggle room. One such question: “Did you ever originate emails containing top secret information?”

Clinton has tried to sidestep the email brouhaha by pointing out that Colin Powell, who was Secretary of State under President George W. Bush, used a private email address. The critical difference is that Powell did not use a home server. The potential security breach is not created by using a private email address, but by sending and keeping emails on a private home server.

Hillary will have to become an unparalleled Clintonesque wordsmith to keep the waters muddied. She may wave off a direct question, saying she’s answered it already (she hasn’t answered the one above) and asking for the “next question.” That response is already losing its effectiveness.

Regardless of what the FBI and Justice Department do, it’s hard to imagine what will protect Hillary from being indicted in the forum of public opinion. Hillary did send classified emails. That was part of her job as Secretary of State. She should not have used a home server which allowed classified information to be hacked. That too was her responsibility as Secretary of State.

Professor Emeritus Bart Gruzalski specialized in ethics, has published three books and over fifty articles, including online publications at Consortiumnews, Truthout’s Speakout, Counterpunch, and PolicyMic. EMAIL ADDRESS:

March 11, 2016 Posted by | Deception | , | 1 Comment

Russia to disarm world’s largest nuclear ballistic missile submarine

RT | March 11, 2016

In 2016 Russia is set to disarm the missile system of the Typhoon-class Arkhangelsk submarine, the largest in the world. The disarmament will be carried out in accordance with the New START agreement between Moscow and Washington.

Working in accordance with the New START treaty between Russia and US, the country’s leading Zvezdochka shipyard in the northern Russian city of Severodvinsk will disarm the missile system of the Arkhangelsk submarine, the shipyard’s press service told TASS news agency on Friday.

“We will remove the covers of the submarine’s missile launchers and seal them, thus making it impossible to use the vessel’s missile weapons,” the press service said. “We are not talking yet about dismantling the submarine itself. The tender for this procedure has not yet been announced.”

According to the data published by the Russian nuclear agency Rosatom, the sub’s disarmament is estimated to cost some 28 million rubles (about US$ 400,000).

The nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine Arkhangelsk TK-17 was designed in 1987 under the Project 941 ‘Shark’ (or ‘Typhoon’ according to NATO classification). The project was aimed to equip the Soviet Navy with nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines, and resulted in the creation of the largest class of submarines ever built – large enough to accommodate decent living facilities for the crew of 179 when submerged for months on end, and to stock an arsenal of 20 intercontinental ballistic missiles.

Three of the six Typhoon-class submarines built in the 1980s have already been dismantled at the shipyards in Severodvinsk. Of the three that remain, Arkhangelsk and Severstal are set to be dismantled. Dmitri Donskoi just recently underwent a modernization procedure and is now equipped to test the latest sea-based missile system Bulava.

The New START treaty (on Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms), which was designed to reduce American and Russian nuclear stockpiles, came into force in 2011. It replaced the previous 1991 agreement, introducing lower ceilings for the numbers of warheads and delivery systems deployed.

Commenting on the progress made on the treaty’s fifth anniversary in February, US Secretary of State John Kerry complimented both sides on successful cooperation in the field.

“[New START treaty] continues to be an area of cooperation and continued dialogue between the United States and Russia. I share President Obama’s strong belief that our two countries, which ushered in the era of nuclear arms, have a special responsibility to lead the world beyond it,” he said in a .

However, the latest moves by the US – such as plans to upgrade 180 B61s strategic bombs stocked in European air bases to a modernized B61-12 version – have raised doubts whether the US adheres to the nuclear arms non-proliferation treaty (NPT).

Opponents of the program have argued that instead of scaling down atomic weapons stockpiles in accordance with the NPT, the overhaul is actually creating more states hosting modern nuclear weapons – a provocation that theoretically weakens Russia’s deterrent.

Moscow keeps the presence of American nuclear weapons in Europe in mind when shaping its own military policies as reflected in Russia’s newest military doctrine published in 2014, spokesperson for the Foreign Ministry Maria Zakharova told German television last year.

“The comprehensive analysis of the situation points to the threat posed by the increasing military capability of NATO and its endowment with global functions, which it performs in violation of the international law, as well as the encroachment of the military infrastructure of NATO members on the borders of the Russian Federation,” she said.

Read more:

Is the world ready for further reduction of nuclear weapons?

NATO eyes long-term breach of nuke non-proliferation treaty, Russia to respond – senior diplomat

March 11, 2016 Posted by | Militarism | , , , | 1 Comment

Justice for the Women of Sepur Zarco

Indigenous women win precedent-setting case against former soldiers in sex slavery trial in Guatemala

The women of Sepur Zarco, forced into sex slavery at the hands of the Guatemalan military in 1982, listen to trial proceedings at the Guatemalan Supreme Court (Photo by Quimy de Leon)

Women of Sepur Zarco, forced into sex slavery at the hands of the Guatemalan military in 1982, listen to trial proceedings at the Guatemalan Supreme Court (Photo by Quimy de Leon)
By Jeff Abbott and Julia Hartviksen – NACLA – 03/11/2016

Nearly 20 years since the signing of Guatemala’s 1996 Peace Accords, justice has finally been served for 15 Indigenous Q’eqchi’ Mayan women of Sepur Zarco, who were forced to become sex slaves for members of Guatemala’s military during the country’s long civil war.

On February 26, Guatemala’s Supreme Court sentenced two former military members, former Lieutenant Coronel Esteelmer Reyes and former Military Commissioner Heriberto Valdez Asij, to prison terms of 120 and 240 years, respectively, for crimes against humanity. Reyes was also found guilty of three assassinations, while Asij was deemed guilty for the forced disappearances of seven men. (Despite the significance of the guilty verdict, prosecutors from the Guatemalan Public Ministry had initially requested that Reyes and Asij be sentenced with 1290 years in prison for war crimes, plus 50 years in prison for each assassination charge.)

On March 2, the perpetrators were also ordered to pay reparations to the victims. Reyes will owe 500,000 Quetzales (about US $65,000) to each of the victim-survivors, and Asij has been ordered to pay 250,000 Quetzales (about US $32,500) for each of the seven forcibly disappeared men.

Judge Yassmín Barrios of the Guatemalan Supreme court made the historic decision following a short, emotional trial, which began February 1 in the Guatemalan Supreme Court in Guatemala City.  The case, the first time in the world where a case of wartime sexual violence was tried in the national courts of the country where the violence occurred, represents a landmark legal decision in Guatemala and a major victory against the impunity for war crimes in the country.

The charges against Reyes and Asij relate to crimes committed in the year 1982, a time when both men were stationed at the Sepur Zarco military base in Alta Verapaz. During this period, the soldiers murdered men in the community, and forced women in the area to work as domestic servants and sexual slaves, subjecting them to degradation, abuse, and rape. In 2010, 12 of those women, all of Mayan Q’eqchi’ descent, brought the case before a mock tribunal meant to address sexual violence during Guatemala’s 36-year-long war. In 2011, the case was brought before a criminal court. Grassroots organizations and international NGOs alike fought to bring the case to the Guatemalan Supreme Court, amidst repeated attempts to derail their efforts.

Lily Muñoz, a sociologist who worked as an independent consultant assisting the legal organization, Mujeres Transformando el Mundo (MTM) on the case, explained the significance of the historic ruling. “It represents justice for war crimes that were committed against women,” she said.

Though the case represents a landmark legal decision for Guatemala, Sepur Zarco is not an exceptional case of sexual violence perpetrated by the military during the war. “This case serves as a precedent not only here in Guatemala, but also on the global scale,” said Lily Muñoz, a sociologist who worked as an independent consultant assisting the legal organization, Mujeres Transformando el Mundo (MTM) on the case.

The case’s success has led to more than 30 Achi’ women from the community of Rabinal, Baja Verapaz, who also suffered from sexual violence at the hands of the military, to begin mobilizing for legal justice for crimes of sexual violence as a tactic of war.

Survivors of the Sepur Zarco sex slavery case at the Supreme Court trial (Photo by Quimy de Leon)

Survivors of the Sepur Zarco sex slavery case at the Supreme Court trial (Photo by Quimy de Leon)

This case also illustrates the gendered dimensions of such brutality – a brutality that preyed upon the vulnerability of indigenous women in rural Guatemala at the height of the internal armed conflict. “It is particularly interesting that sexual violence against women was a part of the sentence, and in the context of an armed conflict. This marks such violence as a war crime, as a crime against humanity. It’s a war crime, but it is a specifically gendered crime, that was tried in the national court of the country where the crimes were committed,” Muñoz said.

She continued: “The military men created conditions of extreme vulnerability for the women of Sepur Zarco. They took their husbands away from them, and they robbed them of their lands and livelihoods – in short, everything they required for social reproduction – and then later, of their sexuality and their ownership over their own bodies.”

As Muñoz explained, Judge Barrios drew on the testimony of a Brazilian anthropologist, Dr. Rita Laura Segato in coming to a decision in the case. Dr. Segato had argued in her testimony that “In the context of the Guatemalan internal armed conflict, women’s bodies were converted into military objects.”

The anthropologist argued that, in this way, that women’s bodies came to represent the “social body,” and for that reason, “the soldiers violated and ‘profaned’ women’s bodies.”

Following Dr. Segato, Muñoz explained that the military sought to “break the community, physically and morally” and did so through sexual violence against women. In this sense, the violence perpetrated against women carried lasting physical, emotional and psychological aspects, and also symbolic meaning for the victim-survivors and other community members. In reading the sentence, Judge Barrios recognized these long-term, destructive impacts the violence of the Sepur Zarco base had on the women who brought the case forward.

The case itself represents a historic shift for the Guatemalan courts, whereby claims of violence brought forth by indigenous women have been recognized by the mainstream justice system, a system that has consistently silenced their voices.  “This case has shown that we can trust the testimonies of the (indigenous) women,” said Ada Valenzuela, the director of the Union Nacional de Mujeres Guatemaltecas (UNAMG). “Even 30 years later, the testimonies of the women were supported through other testimonies, and evidence.”

Despite the fact that the women’s faces were covered during the trial for the purposes of anonymity, it was the women themselves who pushed for the case to move forward, despite being told that it would likely not win. “The women from Sepur Zarco said that if this case were to go to court, then they wanted to go,'” Valnezuela said.  “And we decided that we were going to accompany these women in this process. This was a very valiant decision.”

The women were also accompanied by a coalition of Guatemalan feminist organizations in Guatemala, known as the Alliance to End Silence and Impunity, which includes UNAMG, MTM and the Equipo de Estudios Comunitarios y Acción Psicosocial (ECAP). UNAMG and ECAP have worked to provide psychological support for the victims of the internal armed conflict and the women of Sepur Zarco since 2004.

The case also complicates the characterization of the simplified but still all too common narrative of Guatemala’s civil war in which Marxist guerrillas are presented as fighting against state. In fact, in many cases, it was poor rural campesinos, organizing to gain ownership of their own land who suffered the most intense brutality of the conflict.

According to Muñoz, all of the women’s husbands were involved in negotiations with the National Institute for Agrarian Transformation (INTA) to gain legal ownership over land they had lived on for centuries. Many of these lands have since been transformed into fincas for the production of sugar cane and oil palm.

“The conditions that began the war have been maintained today,” said Valenzuela. “The inequality, the question of land, the question of opportunity, (among others), are continuing today. According to Valenzuela, Sepur Zarco “has woken up the women of Guatemala. [It] represents hope for justice for other women who suffered violence during the war.”

Jeff Abbott is an independent journalist currently based out of Guatemala. He has covered human rights and social moments in Central America and Mexico. His work has appeared at VICE News, Truthout, and the Upside Down World. Follow him on twitter @palabrasdeabajo.

Julia Hartviksen is a PhD Candidate at the Gender Institute, at the London School of Economics and Political Science. Her research focuses on the materiality of violences against women, and the gendered impacts of oil palm in Guatemala’s Northern Transversal Strip. Follow her on twitter @_yulinka_.

March 11, 2016 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , | Leave a comment

Muslim student reported to UK terror police for pro Palestine activism

Rahmaan Mohammadi, a 17 year old student from Luton, explains how he was reported to the counter terrorism police for his pro Palestine activism. Mohammadi was speaking at a Stop the War Coalition event in London on March 10.

March 11, 2016 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Full Spectrum Dominance, Islamophobia, Video | , , , , | 2 Comments

Israeli Army Shuts Down “Palestine Today TV” In Ramallah, Kidnaps Three Journalists

IMEMC – March 11, 2016

Dozens of Israeli soldiers invaded the main headquarters of Palestine Today TV, in the al-Biereh city, in the Ramallah and al-Biereh District in the occupied West Bank, and shut it down on Friday at dawn. The army also kidnapped its director, a cameraman and a Technician.

Palestine Today said in a statement that the soldiers stormed and searched the home of its director, Farouq ‘Oleyyat, in Birzeit City, and kidnapped him.

The agency stated that the soldiers also confiscated equipment from ‘Oleyyat’s home, after violently searching it.

It added that dozens of soldiers also invaded Palestine Today’s headquarters, in the Tahouna area, in al-Biereh, after completely surrounding the area, and confiscated broadcast equipment.

The soldiers also invaded Transmedia Productions and News Services Company, in al-Biereh, and kidnapped a cameraman man, identified as Mohammad ‘Amro, and Broadcast Technician Shabeeb Shbeib.

Transmedia is a Media Company that provides satellite TV service to various stations, including Palestine Today.

Two nights ago, the Israeli Cabinet, headed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, held a meeting and came up with a list of punitive measures against the Palestinian people and various media agencies.

The cabinet decided to shut down many TV stations and media agencies, for what it called “broadcasting incitement materials,” referring to their covering of the Israeli assaults and violations against the Palestinian people, in occupied Palestine.

In related news, Israeli soldiers detained eight Palestinians near the Halamish illegal colony, built on Palestinian lands belonging to Nabi Saleh villagers, northwest of Ramallah on Thursday at night.

Media sources said the soldiers interrogated the eight Palestinians, from Beit Rima and Deir Ghassana towns, and detained them for several hours. The soldiers said “they were searching for knives,” no arrests were made.

March 11, 2016 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Full Spectrum Dominance, Subjugation - Torture | , , , | 2 Comments

NATO eyes long-term breach of nuke non-proliferation treaty, Russia to respond – senior diplomat

RT | March 11, 2016

The Russian military will have to “adequately” respond to Washington’s plan to upgrade its nuclear bombs in Europe in apparent violation of a nuclear arms non-proliferation treaty (NPT), a senior Foreign Ministry diplomat said in a media interview.

The renovation of the US’ nuclear arsenals in Europe masked as a “regular modernization” is in contradiction with the terms of the NPT, Mikhail Ulyanov, director of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s Department for Non-Proliferation and Arms Control, said in an interview with Kommersant daily.

Washington’s plan to upgrade the 180 B61s strategic bombs stocked in European air bases to a modernized B61-12 version has been implemented as part of the US/NATO nuclear modernization program. The B61s were designed back in the 1960s to counter a possible Soviet threat and have since been kept at NATO air bases in Germany, Belgium, Italy, Turkey, and the Netherlands for about five decades.

The US Defense Department had long sought to improve its existing stockpile, arguing that maintaining the aging electronic parts in the 50-year-old bombs has made their upkeep “unpredictable and irregular.” In the end, it didn’t come cheap for the NATO allies in Europe: the cost of replacing obsolete components is estimated at $28 million per bomb. The program is scheduled to be completed in mid-2020s.

“Thus, NATO has set a course for a long-term violation of its responsibilities under the NPT,” Ulyanov argued.

Opponents of the program have argued that instead of scaling down atomic weapons stockpiles in accordance with the NPT, the overhaul is actually creating more states hosting modern nuclear power – a provocation that theoretically weakens Russia’s deterrent.

“Concerns in this regard, expressed not only by us, but also by the Non-Aligned Movement [NAM] member states, are basically ignored by NATO members,” stressed Ulyanov.

The official stressed that Russia will take all necessary steps to provide an adequate response to US plans to expand its nuclear potential.

“In the military sphere, as a general rule, any action forces a counter-reaction. I am certain that the Russian response to the deployment of new US bombs will be adequate, and its parameters will be determined by a thorough analysis of all circumstances,” the diplomat added.

The Non-Proliferation Treaty came into force in 1970. The signatories recognize only five states – the permanent members of the UN Security Council – as eligible to possess nuclear weapons. Since it was opened for signature in 1969, a total of 191 states have joined the agreement. Its ultimate goal is to reduce the possibility of a nuclear conflict by preventing the dissemination of nuclear weapons and promoting peaceful application of nuclear technology.

The Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) was founded in 1961. Its members’ original goal was to preserve neutral status during the Cold War. Two-thirds of its 120 members are the signatories to the NPT, which makes it the largest group of states engaged in nuclear disarmament.

March 11, 2016 Posted by | Militarism, Progressive Hypocrite, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , | Leave a comment