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US Air Force launches surveillance flights in newly-built airfield in Niger

Press TV – August 17, 2019

US Air Force has launched flying operations from a recently constructed remote air base in the West African country of Niger in efforts to carry out intelligence gathering missions over the impoverished region.

“This joint-use runway allows for a better response to regional security requirements and provides strategic access and flexibility,” said commander of US Air Forces in Europe-Air forces Africa (USAFE-AFAFRICA), Gen. Jeff Harrigian in a statement as quoted Friday in a report by the US-based Stars and Stripes military news outlet.

“Air Base 201 gives Niger and the US incredible capability in a challenging region of the world,” Harrigian added, referring to the 6,200-foot runway built by American forces in the southern Sahara Desert in Niger.

The USAFE-AFAFRICA commander further praised the American troops for completing the largest-ever, airmen-led construction project in Air Force history.

According to the report, Niger’s government granted authority to the US military for conducting armed drone flights over the country back in 2018, shortly after the ambush killing of four American soldiers in the country by alleged ISIL-linked militants in October 2017.

Citing a USAFE-AFAFRICA spokesman, the report further noted that construction on Niger’s Air Base 201 is still continuing, with full flying operations expected to begin later this year.

Air Force C-130 cargo planes and other aircraft on resupply missions, in coordination with the Nigerien air force and the country’s civil aviation authorities, began flying limited Visual Flight Rule (VFR) operations into and out of the air base on August 1, added a USAFE-AFAFRICA statement as cited in the report.

It further noted that VFR operations are conducted without instruments to assess an airfield before full flight operations begin, including drone missions.

The report also cited the US Air Force as saying that the $110-million airfield in Niger “is the most austere location from which the Air Force has attempted to operate,” noting that it was finished earlier this summer following delays caused by the challenges of working in a remote desert, “including sandstorms, locust swarms and difficulties in transporting supplies to the base in central Niger.”

US Africa Command says several militant groups operate in the border area between Niger, Nigeria and Chad, including ISIL in West Africa, which has emerged as a priority for the American forces in the region.

August 17, 2019 Posted by | Militarism | , , | 1 Comment

Babi Yar: The Einsatzgruppen Killings

Babi Yar Memorial in Ukraine
By John Wear | Inconvenient History | May 19, 2018

One of the worst atrocities attributed to the Einsatzgruppen was the Babi Yar massacre, which allegedly occurred in a large ravine outside Kiev in the Ukraine. The allegation is that Einsatzgruppe C rounded up 33,771 Jews in Kiev and shot all of them over the period September 29-30, 1941.[1] German Reserve Police Battalion 45 and Police Battalion 303 are said to have assisted in the operation.[2] This article will examine the veracity of these allegations.

Einsatzgruppen Report

The figure of 33,771 Jews murdered at Babi Yar comes from Einsatzgruppen Event Report 106 of October 7, 1941.[3] That the Germans let copies of the Einsatzgruppen reports fall into the hands of the Allies is strikingly odd. They could have easily burned these few stacks of incriminating papers before the Allies conquered Germany.[4] The authenticity of the Einsatzgruppen reports has also been questioned because, like so much other “evidence” of Nazi atrocities, the documents emerged from the Soviet occupation zone.[5]

The Einsatzgruppen reports that have been produced are copies which often show clear signs of postwar additions, inaccurate and inflated figures, and rare signatures which appear on non-incriminating pages. Such reports would not constitute valid proof to historians or a legitimate court of law.[6] It is also surprising that the alleged mass murder at Babi Yar took place almost four months prior to the Wannsee Conference, where the mass killing of Jews was allegedly first planned.[7]

The very few figures given in Event Report 106 are provable fabrications. This report claims that there were about 300,000 Jews in Kiev at the time the report was made. The population of Kiev at the time of the report, however, had shrunk from 850,000 or more persons to about 305,000 due to evacuations. So if there had still been 300,000 Jews in Kiev on October 7, 1941, there would have been practically no one in Kiev who was not Jewish. The German experts who made the Einsatzgruppen reports would not have made such a major mistake in their report.[8]

Cremation Eyewitness

Today there are no remains to be found of the tens of thousands of Jews allegedly murdered by the Einsatzgruppen at Babi Yar. The official Holocaust story claims that the Nazis sent a special team back to the site in 1943 to exhume and burn the bodies.[9]

The Jew Vladimir K. Davidov is apparently the only survivor who claims to have participated in the cremation of bodies at Babi Yar. Davidov stated that on August 18, 1943, he and 99 other prisoners were taken to Babi Yar and forced to dig up the bodies of the Jews shot in 1941. He claimed that 70,000 bodies had been buried in the mass graves of Babi Yar. Davidov said that he and about 35 to 40 other prisoners escaped their own murders during the night of September 29. About 10 of his comrades were killed during this escape.[10]

According to Davidov, the prisoners exhumed the dead bodies and later burned them on grilles that consisted of granite blocks with train rails laid upon them. A layer of wood was piled on top of these grilles with the dead bodies piled on top of the wood. This resulted in an enormous stack of bodies 10 to 12 meters high. According to Davidov, there was only a single grille in the beginning, but later 75 grilles were built.[11]

Davidov said that the cremation of the bodies at Babi Yar was finished on September 25 or 26, 1943. The German Luftwaffe took an aerial photograph of the area around Babi Yar on September 26, 1943.[12]
John C. Ball, a Canadian mineral-exploration geologist with experience interpreting air photos, has published this photograph with the following commentary:

Photo 2—September 26th, 1943:

This photo was taken one week after the end of the supposed mass cremations in the ravine. If 33,000 people were exhumed and burned evidence of vehicle and foot traffic to supply fuel should be evident in the area where the Jewish cemetery meets Babi Yar ravine, however there is no evidence of traffic either on the end of the narrow road that proceeds to the ravine from the end of Melnik Street, or on the grass and shrubbery or on the sides of the cemetery.[13]

Ball writes regarding an enlarged section of the same photograph:

An enlargement reveals no evidence that 325 people were working in the ravine finishing the cremation of 33,000 bodies just one week earlier, for many truckloads of fuel would have had to be brought in, and there are no scars from vehicle traffic either on the grass and shrubs at the side of the Jewish cemetery or in the ravine where the bodies were supposedly burned.

1943 air photos of Babi Yar Ravine and the adjoining Jewish cemetery in Kiev reveal that neither the soil nor the vegetation is disturbed as would be expected if materials and fuel had been transported one week earlier to hundreds of workers who had dug up and burned tens of thousands of bodies in one month.[14]

Ball’s findings are all the more valuable since according to Davidov the cremation of the bodies at Babi Yar was completed on the same day or the day before the photo of September 26, 1943 was taken. This would have left behind clear evidence from the cremation of the bodies that would have shown on the photo. Carlo Mattogno and Jürgen Graf write:

[T]he cremation of 33,771 bodies would have required approximately 4,500 tons of firewood and approximately 430 tons of wood ashes and about 190 tons of human ashes would have been generated by the process. Moreover, several dozen tons of granite (gravestones and monuments) would have had to have been transported from the Jewish cemetery to Babi Yar and back again in order to construct the support for the 75 “ovens.” If the claims put forward about Babi Yar were true, all of this would have had to leave behind unmistakable traces on the air photo of September 26, 1943.[15]

If 33,771 Jews had been shot at Babi Yar, large numbers of rifle bullets would have also remained at the site. To shoot people with rifles, one needs at least twice as many bullets as there are people to be shot. Since the lead core of bullets survives practically forever, finding the remains of these bullets would have been an easy matter.[16]

No one ever conducted a detailed forensic investigation to confirm the witness statements and allegations at Babi Yar. Why was no detailed forensic investigation ever conducted at Babi Yar? The only reasonable answer is that the mass shootings of Jews at Babi Yar never took place. Since there is no material evidence for the mass shootings and cremation of the bodies at Babi Yar, and since the photograph of September 26, 1943 disproves these allegations, Davidov’s eyewitness testimony is clearly inaccurate.[17]

Survivor Eyewitnesses

Some Jewish survivors and authors have described the massacre at Babi Yar. Elie Wiesel wrote in one of his books that after Jews were executed at Babi Yar: “Eye witnesses say that for months after the killings the ground continued to spurt geysers of blood. One was always treading on corpses.”[18] Wiesel later repeated this claim with some embellishment: “Later, I learn from a witness that, for month after month, the ground never stopped trembling; and that, from time to time, geysers of blood spurted from it.”[19] This story lacks all credibility.

A. Anatoli Kuznetsov wrote a novel titled Babi Yar to document the alleged Babi Yar massacre. The author was born in Kiev on August 18, 1929.[20] Thus, he was only 12 years old when the alleged massacre of Jews at Babi Yar took place. This is a relatively young age and tends to lessen his credibility.

Kuznetsov wrote: “On September 29th, 1941, for example, every single eye witness of what happened in Babi Yar was executed, but the people of Kurenyovka knew all about it an hour after the first shots had been fired.”[21]

So Kuznetsov says that he knows of no living eyewitnesses to the massacre of some 33,771 Jews at Babi Yar. Kuznetsov attempts to document the alleged atrocity at Babi Yar with almost exclusively hearsay evidence.

Dina Mironovna Pronicheva was a Jewess who says she survived the alleged massacre at Babi Yar. She is the only person believed to have fallen into the ravine unwounded and feigned death. Assuming various non-Jewish identities, she survived the German occupation of the Soviet Union during World War II. While nobody seems to have interviewed Pronicheva with a tape recorder, there are 12 written records of her testimony dating back to the 1940s. These records differ in substance, and most of the texts fail to meet the standards of contemporary oral history interviews.[22]

Despite the inconsistencies in her testimony, historian Karel C. Berkhoff writes that historians of the alleged Babi Yar massacre should use Pronicheva’s and other testimonies much more extensively. Berkhoff writes: “The fact remains that only very few sources come as close as Pronicheva’s testimonies do to the horrendous details of Kiev’s Jewish Holocaust.”[23]

Berkhoff and other historians fail to acknowledge the extreme disparity in the eyewitness testimonies regarding the events at Babi Yar. For example, Pronicheva’s accounts emphasize guns and rifles as the murder weapons. Other eyewitness accounts have included clubs, rocks, rifle butts, tanks, mines, hand grenades, gas vans, bayonets and knives, burial alive, drowning, injections, and electric shock as the murder weapons at Babi Yar. Herbert Tiedemann asked: “What would an unbiased court do if it had to pass judgement on an alleged mass murderer, if the witnesses were in such thorough disagreement?”[24]

Jürgen Graf writes concerning the contradictory testimony of witnesses at Babi Yar:

According to the established version of the facts, these 33,711 Jews were shot and their bodies thrown into the ravine of Babi Yar on 29 September 1941. But the first witnesses told completely different stories: The massacre was perpetrated in a graveyard, or near a graveyard, or in a forest, or in the very city of Kiev, or on the banks of the Dnieper. As to the murder weapons, the early witnesses spoke of rifles, or machine guns, or submachine guns, or hand grenades, or bayonets, or knives; some witnesses claimed that the victims had been put to death via lethal injections whereas others asserted that they had been drowned in the Dnieper, or buried alive, or killed by means of electric current, or squashed by tanks, or driven into minefields, or that their skulls had been crushed with rocks, or that they had been murdered in gas vans.[25]

Conclusion

Witness testimonies of the alleged Babi Yar massacre have been given full credence by historians even though these testimonies contradict each other and claim the most ridiculous impossibilities. Also, no one ever tried to secure any evidence in order to prove the murders. The Soviets after the end of the war turned the ravine of Babi Yar into a municipal garbage dump, and later into a garbage-incineration site. It is no less incomprehensible that the Soviets intended to build a sports facility over this site of the alleged mass murder of 33,771 Jews.[26]

The air photo taken of the ravine of Babi Yar on September 26, 1943 shows a placid and peaceful valley. Neither the vegetation nor the topography has been disturbed by human activity. There are no burning sites, no smoke, no excavations, no fuel depots, and no access roads for the transport of humans or fuel. We can conclude with certainty from this photo that no part of Babi Yar was subjected to topographical changes of any magnitude right up to the Soviet reoccupation of the area. Hence, the mass graves and mass cremations attested to by witnesses at Babi Yar did not take place.[27]

Endnotes

[1] Winter, Peter, The Six Million: Fact or Fiction?, The Revisionist Press, 2015, p. 25.

[2] Brandon, Ray and Lower, Wendy, The Shoah in Ukraine: History, Testimony, Memorialization: Bloomington, Ind.: Indiana University Press, 2008, p. 292.

[3] Tiedemann, Herbert, “Babi Yar: Critical Questions and Comments,” in Gauss, Ernst (ed.), Dissecting the Holocaust: The Growing Critique of Truth and Memory, Capshaw, Ala.: Theses and Dissertations Press, 2000, p. 521.

[4] Mattogno, Carlo and Graf, Jürgen, Treblinka: Transit Camp or Extermination Camp?, Washington, D.C.: The Barnes Review, 2010, p. 204.

[5] Winter, Peter, The Six Million: Fact or Fiction?, The Revisionist Press, 2015, p. 25

[6] Mattogno, Carlo and Graf, Jürgen, Treblinka: Transit Camp or Extermination Camp?, Washington, D.C.: The Barnes Review, 2010, pp. 203-211.

[7] Tiedemann, Herbert, “Babi Yar: Critical Questions and Comments,” in Gauss, Ernst (ed.), Dissecting the Holocaust: The Growing Critique of Truth and Memory, Capshaw, Ala.: Theses and Dissertations Press, 2000, p. 497.

[8] Ibid., pp. 499, 521.

[9] Winter, Peter, The Six Million: Fact or Fiction?, The Revisionist Press, 2015, p. 25.

[10] Mattogno, Carlo and Graf, Jürgen, Treblinka: Transit Camp or Extermination Camp?, Washington, D.C.: The Barnes Review, 2010, pp. 220-221.

[11] Ibid., p. 220.

[12] Ibid., p. 221.

[13] Ball, John C., Air Photo Evidence: Auschwitz, Treblinka, Majdanek, Sobibor, Bergen Belsen, Belzec, Babi Yar, Katyn Forest, Delta, B.C., Canada: Ball Resources Services Limited, 1992, p. 107.

[14] Ibid., p. 108.

[15] Mattogno, Carlo and Graf, Jürgen, Treblinka: Transit Camp or Extermination Camp?, Washington, D.C.: The Barnes Review, 2010, p. 222.

[16] Tiedemann, Herbert, “Babi Yar: Critical Questions and Comments,” in Gauss, Ernst (ed.), Dissecting the Holocaust: The Growing Critique of Truth and Memory, Capshaw, Ala.: Theses and Dissertations Press, 2000, p. 500.

[17] Ibid., pp. 498-524.

[18] Wiesel, Elie, The Jews of Silence, London: Vallentine Mitchell, 1968, p. 37.

[19] Wiesel, Elie, Paroles d’étranger, Paris: Editions du Seuil, 1982, p. 86.

[20] Kuznetsov, A. Anatoli, Babi Yar: A Document in the Form of a Novel, New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1970, p. 14.

[21] Ibid., p. 365.

[22] Brandon, Ray (editor) and Lower, Wendy (editor), The Shoah in Ukraine: History, Testimony, Memorialization, Bloomington, Ind.: Indiana University Press, 2008, pp. 294-295.

[23] Ibid., p. 309.

[24] Tiedemann, Herbert, “Babi Yar: Critical Questions and Comments,” in Gauss, Ernst (ed.), Dissecting the Holocaust: The Growing Critique of Truth and Memory, Capshaw, Ala.: Theses and Dissertations Press, 2000, p. 523.

[25] Graf, Jürgen, “The Moral and Intellectual Bankruptcy of a Scholar,” Inconvenient History, Vol. 3, No. 4, 2011.

[26] Tiedemann, Herbert, “Babi Yar: Critical Questions and Comments,” in Gauss, Ernst (ed.), Dissecting the Holocaust: The Growing Critique of Truth and Memory, Capshaw, Ala.: Theses and Dissertations Press, 2000, pp. 524-525.

[27] Ball, John Clive, “Air Photo Evidence,” in Gauss, Ernst (ed.), Dissecting the Holocaust: The Growing Critique of Truth and Memory, Capshaw, Ala.: Theses and Dissertations Press, 2000, pp. 275, 284.

August 17, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Timeless or most popular | | 1 Comment

Kashmir Caged: A Fact-Finding Report

Army patrol on the road | Image courtesy Kavita Krishnan
By Jean Drèze, Kavita Krishnan, Maimoona Mollah and Vimal Bhai | Indian Cultural Forum | August 14, 2019

We spent five days (9-13 August 2019) traveling extensively in Kashmir. Our visit began on 9 August 2019 – four days after the Indian government abrogated Articles 370 and 35A, dissolved the state of Jammu and Kashmir, and bifurcated it into two Union Territories.

When we arrived in Srinagar on 9 August, we found the city silenced and desolated by curfew, and bristling with Indian military and paramilitary presence. The curfew was total, as it had been since 5th August. The streets of Srinagar were empty and all institutions and establishments were closed (shops, schools, libraries, petrol pumps, government offices, banks). Only some ATMs and chemists’ shops – and all police stations – were open. People were moving about in ones and twos here and there, but not in groups.

We travelled widely, inside and outside Srinagar – far beyond the small enclave (in the centre of Srinagar) where the Indian media operates. In that small enclave, a semblance of normalcy returns from time to time, and this has enabled the Indian media to claim that life in Kashmir is back to normal. Nothing could be further from the truth.

We spent five days moving around and talking to hundreds of ordinary people in Srinagar city, as well as villages and small towns of Kashmir. We spoke to women, school and college students, shopkeepers, journalists, people who run small businesses, daily wage labourers, workers and migrants from UP, West Bengal and other states. We spoke to Kashmiri Pandits and Sikhs who live in the Valley, as well as Kashmiri Muslims.

Everywhere, we were cordially received, even by people who were very angry about the situation or sceptical of our purpose. Even as people expressed their pain, anger, and sense of betrayal against the Government of India, they extended warmth and unstinting hospitality to us. We are deeply moved by this.

Except for the BJP spokesperson on Kashmir Affairs, we did not meet a single person who supported the Indian government’s decision to abrogate Article 370. On the contrary, most people were extremely angry, both at the abrogation of Article 370 (and 35A) and at the manner in which it had been done.

Anger and fear were the dominant emotions we encountered everywhere. People expressed their anger freely in informal conversation, but no-one was willing to speak on camera. Anyone who speaks up is at risk of persecution from the government.

Many told us that they expected massive protests to erupt sooner or later (after restrictions were relaxed, after Eid, after 15 August, or even later), and anticipated violent repression even if the protests were peaceful.

A summary of our observations

  • There is intense and virtually unanimous anger in Kashmir against the Indian government’s decision to abrogate Articles 370 and 35A, and also about the way this has been done.

  • To control this anger, the government has imposed curfew-like conditions in Kashmir. Except for some ATMs, chemists’ shops and police stations, most establishments are closed for now.

  • The clampdown on public life and effective imposition of curfew have also crippled economic life in Kashmir, that too at a time of the BakrEid festival that is meant for abundance and celebration.

  • People live in fear of harassment from the government, army or police. People expressed their anger freely in informal conversation, but no-one was willing to speak on camera.

  • The Indian media’s claims of a rapid return to normalcy in Kashmir are grossly misleading. They are based on selective reports from a small enclave in the centre of Srinagar.

  • As things stand, there is no space in Kashmir for any sort of protest, however peaceful. However, mass protests are likely to erupt sooner or later.

Reactions To The Government’s Treatment of J&K

  • When our flight landed, and the airlines staff announced that passengers could switch on our mobiles, the entire flight (with mostly Kashmiris in it) burst into mocking laughter. “What a joke”, we could hear people say – since mobile and landline phones and internet have all been blocked since 5 August!

  • As soon as we set foot in Srinagar, we came across a few small children playacting in a park. We could hear them say ‘Iblees Modi’. ‘Iblees’ means ‘Satan’.

  • The words we heard over and over from people about the Government decisions on J&K were ‘zulm’ (oppression), ‘zyadti’ (excess/cruelty), and ‘dhokha’ (betrayal). As one man in Safakadal (downtown Srinagar) put it, “The Government has treated us Kashmiris like slaves, taking decisions about our lives and our future while we are captive. It’s like forcing something down our throats while keeping us bound and gagged, with a gun to our heads.”

  • In every lane of Srinagar city, every town, every village, that we visited, we received an extensive schooling from ordinary people, including school kids, on the history of the Kashmir dispute. They were angry and appalled at the manner in which the Indian media was whitewashing this history. Many said: “Article 370 was the contract between Kashmir’s leadership and India’s. Had that contract not been signed, Kashmir would never have acceded to India. With Article 370 gone, India no longer has any basis for its claim over Kashmir.” One man in the Jahangir Chowk area near Lal Chowk, described Article 370 as a ‘mangalsutra’ (sacred necklace worn by married women) symbolising a contract (analogous to the marital contract) between Kashmir and India. (More on people’s reactions to the abrogation of Articles 370 and 35A below)

  • There is widespread anger against the Indian media. People are imprisoned in their homes, unable to communicate with each other, express themselves on social media, or make their voices heard in any way. In their homes, they watch Indian TV claim that Kashmir welcomes the Government decisions. They seethe with rage at the erasure of their voices. As one young man in Safakadal put it, “Kiski shaadi hai, aur kaun naach raha hai?! (It’s supposed to be our wedding, but it’s only others who are dancing!) If this move is supposed to be for our benefit and development, why not ask what we ourselves think about it?”

Reactions To The Abrogation Of Article 370 and 35A

  • A man in Guree village (Anantnag district) said: “Hamara unse rishta Article 370 aur 35A se tha. Ab unhone apne hi paer par kulhadi mar di hai. In Articles ko khatm kar diya hai. Ab to ham azad ho gaye hain.” (Our relation with them (India) was through Article 370 and Article 35A. Now they have themselves committed the folly of dissolving these Articles. So now we are free.” The same man raised slogans of “We want freedom” followed by slogans of “Restore Articles 370 and 35A.”

  • Many described Article 370 and 35A as Kashmir’s “pehchan” (identity). They felt that the abrogation of these Articles is a humiliating attack on Kashmir’s self-respect and identity.

  • Not all demanded restoration of Article 370. Many said that it was only the parliamentary parties who had asked people to have faith that India would honour the contract that was Article 370. The abrogation of Article 370 only discredited those “pro-India parties”, and vindicated those who argued for Kashmir’s “azaadi” (independence) from India, they felt. One man in Batamaloo said: “Jo india ke geet gate hain, apne bande hain, ve bhi band hain! (Those who sang praises of India, India’s own agents, they too are imprisoned!” A Kashmiri journalist observed, “Many people are happy about the treatment the mainstream parties are getting. These parties batted for the Indian State and are being humiliated now.”

  • “Modi has destroyed India’s own law, its own Constitution” was another common refrain. Those who said this, felt that Article 370 was more important to India (to legitimise its claim to Kashmir) than it was to Kashmir. But the Modi Government had not only sought to destroy Kashmir, it had destroyed a law and Constitution that was India’s own.

  • A hosiery businessman in Jahangir Chowk, Srinagar said, “Congress ne peeth mein choora bhonka tha, BJP ne saamne se choora bhonka hai.” (Congress had stabbed us from the back, BJP is stabbing us up front). He added, “They strangled their own Constitution. It’s first step towards Hindu Rashtra.”

  • In some ways, people were more concerned about the effects of the abrogation of 35A than that of 370. It is widely recognised that Article 370 retained only nominal, symbolic autonomy and had already been diluted. With 35A gone, though, people fear that “State land will be sold cheap to investors. Ambani, Patanjali etc can come in easily. Kashmir’s resources and land will be grabbed. In Kashmir as it stands now, education and employment levels are better than in the mainland. But tomorrow Kashmiris will have to compete for Government jobs with those from other states. After one generation, most Kashmiris won’t have jobs or be forced to move to the mainland.”

“Normalcy” – Or “Peace Of The Graveyard”?

Is the situation in Kashmir “normal” and “peaceful”? The answer is an emphatic NO.

  • One young man in Sopore said: “This is bandook ki khamoshi (the silence at gunpoint), kabristan ki khamoshi (the peace of the graveyard).”

  • The newspaper Greater Kashmir had one (front) page of news and a sports page at the back: the two inside pages were full of cancellation announcements of weddings or receptions!

Invitations cancelled I Image courtesy Kavita Krishnan
  • Between 5-9 August, people had suffered for lack of food, milk, and basic needs. People had been prevented even from going to hospitals in case of sickness.

  • The Government claim is that only Section 144 has been imposed, not “curfew”. But in reality, police vans keep patrolling Srinagar warning people to “stay safe at home and not venture out during the curfew”, and tell shops to close their shutters. They demand that people display “curfew passes” to be allowed to move about.

  • All of Kashmir is under curfew. Even on Eid, the roads and bazaars were silent and desolate. All over Srinagar, mobility is restricted by concertina wires on streets, and massive paramilitary deployment. Even on Eid, this was the case. In many villages, azaan was prohibited by the paramilitary and people were forced to do namaaz prayers at home rather than collectively at the mosque as it usual on Eid.

  • In Anantnag, Shopian and Pampore (South Kashmir) on the day of Eid, we only saw very small kids dressed in Eid finery. Everyone else was in mourning. “We feel like we’re in jail”, said a woman in Guree (Anantnag). Girls in Nagbal (Shopian) said, “With our brothers in police or army custody, how can we celebrate Eid?”

  • On 11 August, on the eve of Eid, a woman at Sopore told us she had come to the bazaar during a brief respite in the curfew, to buy a few supplies for Eid. She said: “We were prisoners in our own homes for 7 days. Even today, shops are closed in my village Langet, so I came to Sopore town to shop for Eid and to check on my daughter who is a nursing student here.”

Eid in Pulwama | Image courtesy Kavita Krishnan
  • “It’s Army rule not Modi rule. There are more soldiers here than people”, said a young baker at Watpura near Bandipora. His friend added, “We’re afraid, because the army camp nearby keeps imposing impossible rules. They insist we have to return within half an hour if we leave home. If my kid isn’t well, and I have to take her to the hospital, it may take more than half an hour. If someone visits their daughter who lives in next village, they may take more than half hour to return. But if there’s any delay, they will harass us.” The CRPF paramilitary is everywhere, outside nearly every home in Kashmir. These are clearly not there to provide “security” to Kashmiris – on the contrary, their presence creates fear for the people.

  • Sheep traders and herders could be seen with unsold sheep and goats. Animals they had been rearing all year long, would not be sold. This meant they would incur a huge loss. With people unable to earn, many could not afford to buy animals for the Eid sacrifice.

  • A shopkeeper from Bijnore (UP) showed us the stacks of unsold sweets and delicacies going waste, since people could not buy them. Shops and bakeries wore a deserted look on the eve of Eid, with their perishable food items lying unsold.

  • An asthmatic auto driver in Srinagar, showed us his last remaining dose of salbutamol and asthalin. He had been trying for the past several days to buy more – but the chemists’ shops and hospitals in his area had run out of stocks. He could go to other, bigger hospitals – but CRPF would prevent him. He showed us the empty, crushed cover of one asthalin inhaler – when he told a CRPF man he needed to go further to get the medicine, the man stamped on the cover with his boot. “Why stamp on it? He hates us, that’s why”, said the auto driver.

Protests, Repression, and Brutality

  • Some 10,000 people protested in Soura (Srinagar) on 9 August. The forces responded with pellet gun fire, injuring several. We attempted to go to Soura on 10 August, but were stopped by a CRPF barricade. We did see young protestors on the road that day as well, blockading the road.

  • We met two victims of pellet gun injuries in SMHS hospital in Srinagar. The two young men (Waqar Ahmad and Wahid) had faces, arms and torso full of pellets. Their eyes were bloodshot and blinded. Waqar had a catheter in which the urine, red with blood from internal bleeding, could be seen. Their family members, weeping with grief and rage, told us that the two men had not been pelting stones. They had been peacefully protesting.

Pellet gun victim | Image courtesy Vimal Bhai
  • On 6 August, a graphic designer for the Rising Kashmir newspaper, Samir Ahmad, (in his early 20s) had remonstrated with a CRPF man near his home in the Manderbag area of Srinagar, asking him to allow an old man to pass. Later the same day, when Samir opened the door to his house, CRPF fired at him with a pellet gun, unprovoked. He got 172 pellets in his arm and face near the eyes, but his eyesight is safe. It is clear that the pellet guns are deliberately aimed at the face and eyes, and unarmed, peaceful civilians standing at their own front doors can be targets.

  • At least 600 political leaders and civil society activists are under arrest. There is no clear information on what laws are invoked to arrest them, or where they are being held.

  • A very large number of political leaders are under house arrest – it is impossible to ascertain how many. We tried to meet CPIM MLA Mohd Yusuf Tarigami – but were refused entry into his home in Srinagar, where he is being under house arrest.

  • In every village we visited, as well as in downtown Srinagar, there were very young schoolboys and teenagers who had been arbitrarily picked up by police or army/paramilitary and held in illegal detention. We met a 11-year-old boy in Pampore who had been held in a police station between 5 August and 11 August. He had been beaten up, and he said there were boys even younger than him in custody, from nearby villages.

  • Hundreds of boys and teens are being picked up from their beds in midnight raids. The only purpose of these raids is to create fear. Women and girls told us of molestation by armed forces during these raids. Parents feared meeting us and telling us about the “arrests” (abductions) of their boys. They are afraid of Public Security Act cases being filed. The other fear is that the boys may be “disappeared” – i.e killed in custody and dumped in mass graves of which Kashmir has a grim history. As one neighbour of an arrested boy said, “There is no record of these arrests. It is illegal detention. So if the boy “disappears” – i.e is killed in custody – the police/army can just say they never had him in custody in the first place.”

  • But the protests are not likely to stop. A young man at Sopore said: “Jitna zulm karenge, utna ham ubharenge” (The more you oppress us, the more we will rise up) A familiar refrain we heard at many places was: “Never mind if leaders are arrested. We don’t need leaders. As long as even a single Kashmiri baby is alive, we will struggle.”

The Gag On Media

  • A journalist told us: “Newspapers are printing in spite of everything. Without the internet, we do not get any feed from agencies. We were reduced to reporting the J&K related developments in Parliament, from NDTV! This is undeclared censorship. If Govt is giving internet and phone connectivity to police but not to media houses what does it mean? We had some people come to our offices, speaking on behalf of Army and CRPF, asking “Why are you publishing photos of the curfew-affected streets?”

  • Kashmiri TV channels are completely closed and unable to function.

  • Kashmiri newspapers that carry the barest mention of protests (such as the one on Soura) are made to feel the heat from the authorities.

  • Foreign press reporters told us that they are facing restrictions on their movement by the authorities. Also, because of the lack of internet, they are unable to communicate with their own main offices.

  • When we visited Press Enclave in Srinagar on 13 August, we found the newspaper offices closed and the area deserted except for a few stray journalists, and some CID men. One of the journalists told us that papers could not be printed till at least 17 August, because they have run out of newsprint which comes from Delhi.

  • As mentioned above, one graphic designer working with a newspaper suffered pellet gun injuries, during a completely unprovoked attack by CRPF

A checkpoint in Srinagar | Image courtesy Vimal Bhai

Does Kashmir Lack Development?

In an op-ed in the Times Of India (August 9, 2019), former Foreign Secretary and Ambassador Nirupama Rao wrote: “A young Kashmiri told this writer a few months ago her birthplace was in the “stone age”; that in terms of economic development, Kashmir was two hundred years behind the rest of India.”

We struggled to find this “backward”, “stone age” Kashmir anywhere at all.

  • It is striking how in every Kashmiri village, we found young men and women who go to college or University; speak Kashmiri, Hindi and English fluently; and are able to argue points of Constitutional and international law in relation to the Kashmir conflict with factual accuracy and erudition. All four of the team members are familiar with villages in North Indian states. This high level of education is extremely rare in any village in, say, Bihar, UP, MP, or Jharkhand.

  • The homes in rural Kashmir are all pucca constructions. We saw no shacks like the ones that are common in rural Bihar, UP, Jharkhand.

  • There are poor people in Kashmir, certainly. But the levels of destitution, starvation and abject poverty seen in many North Indian states, is simply absent in rural Kashmir.

  • We met migrant labourers from North India and West Bengal at many places. They told us that they feel safe and free from xenophobic violence that they face in, say, Maharashtra or Gujarat. Daily wage migrant labourers told us “Kashmir is our Dubai. We earn Rs 600 to Rs 800 per day here – that is three or four times what we earn in other states.”

  • We found Kashmir refreshingly free of communal tension or mob lynchings. We met Kashmiri pandits who told us they felt safe in Kashmir, and that the Kashmiris always celebrate their festivals together. “We celebrate Eid, Holi, Diwali together. That is our Kashmiriyat. It is something different, special,” said one Kashmiri Pandit young man.

  • The myth of the “backward” Kashmiri woman is perhaps the biggest lie. Kashmiri girls enjoy a high level of education. They are articulate and assertive. Of course, they face and resist patriarchy and gender discrimination in their societies. But does BJP, whose Haryana CM and Muzaffarnagar MLA speak of “getting Kashmiri brides” as though Kashmiri women are property to be looted, have any right to preach feminism to Kashmir? Kashmiri girls and women told us, “We are capable of fighting our own battles. We don’t want our oppressors to claim to liberate us!”

The BJP Spokesperson’s “Warning”

We met BJP spokesperson on Kashmir affairs, Ashwani Kumar Chrungoo at the office of Rising Kashmir, a Kashmir newspaper. The conversation was initially cordial. He told us he had come to Kashmir from Jammu to persuade people to support the abrogation of Article 370. His main argument was that since the BJP had won a 46% vote share in J&K and had won an unprecedented majority in Parliament, they had not only a right but a duty to keep their promise of scrapping Article 370. “46% vote share – that’s a license”, he said.

He refused to acknowledge that this 46% vote share while winning only three Lok Sabha seats (Jammu, Udhampur and Ladakh) was possible only because the voter turnout in the three other LS seats (Srinagar, Anantnag and Baramulla) was the lowest in the whole country.

Should a Government impose an unpopular decision on people of Kashmir who have not voted for that decision, at gunpoint? Chrungoo said, “In Bihar when Nitish Kumar imposed prohibition, he didn’t ask the alcoholics for their permission or consent. It’s the same here.” His contempt for the people of Kashmir was evident from this analogy.

Towards the end of the conversation, he became increasingly edgy when confronted by facts and arguments by us. He got up and wagged a finger at Jean Dreze, saying “We won’t let anti-nationals like you do your work here. I am warning you.”

Conclusion

The whole of Kashmir is, at the moment, a prison, under military control. The decisions taken by the Modi Government on J&K are immoral, unconstitutional and illegal. The means being adopted by the Modi Government to hold Kashmiris captive and suppress potential protests are also immoral, unconstitutional, and illegal.

  • We demand the immediate restoration of Articles 370 and 35A.

  • We assert that no decision about the status or future of J&K should be taken without the will of its people.

  • We demand that communications – including landline telephones, mobile phones and internet be restored with immediate effect.

  • We demand that the gags on the freedom of speech, expression and protest be lifted from J&K with immediate effect. The people of J&K are anguished – and they must be allowed to express their protest through media, social media, public gatherings and other peaceful means.

  • We demand that the gags on journalists in J&K be lifted immediately.

Jean Drèze, economist
Kavita Krishnan, Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) and AIPWA
Maimoona Mollah, All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA)
Vimal Bhai, National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM)

August 17, 2019 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

America’s Benevolent Bombing of Serbia

By James Bovard | FFF | August 16, 2019

Twenty years ago, President Bill Clinton commenced bombing Serbia in the name of human rights, justice, and ethnic tolerance. Approximately 1,500 Serb civilians were killed by NATO bombing in one of the biggest sham morality plays of the modern era. As British professor Philip Hammond recently noted, the 78-day bombing campaign “was not a purely military operation: NATO also destroyed what it called ‘dual-use’ targets, such as factories, city bridges, and even the main television building in downtown Belgrade, in an attempt to terrorise the country into surrender.”

Clinton’s unprovoked attack on Serbia, intended to help ethnic Albanians seize control of Kosovo, set a precedent for “humanitarian” warring that was invoked by supporters of George W. Bush’s unprovoked attack on Iraq, Barack Obama’s bombing of Libya, and Donald Trump’s bombing of Syria.

Clinton remains a hero in Kosovo, and there is an 11-foot statue of him standing in the capitol, Pristina, on Bill Clinton Boulevard. A commentator in the United Kingdom’s Guardian newspaper noted that the statue showed Clinton “with a left hand raised, a typical gesture of a leader greeting the masses. In his right hand he is holding documents engraved with the date when NATO started the bombardment of Serbia, 24 March 1999.” It would have been a more accurate representation if Clinton was shown standing on the corpses of the women, children, and others killed in the U.S. bombing campaign.

Bombing Serbia was a family affair in the Clinton White House. Hillary Clinton revealed to an interviewer in the summer of 1999, “I urged him to bomb. You cannot let this go on at the end of a century that has seen the major holocaust of our time. What do we have NATO for if not to defend our way of life?” A biography of Hillary Clinton, written by Gail Sheehy and published in late 1999, stated that Mrs. Clinton had refused to talk to the president for eight months after the Monica Lewinsky scandal broke. She resumed talking to her husband only when she phoned him and urged him in the strongest terms to begin bombing Serbia; the president began bombing within 24 hours. Alexander Cockburn observed in the Los Angeles Times,

It’s scarcely surprising that Hillary would have urged President Clinton to drop cluster bombs on the Serbs to defend “our way of life.” The first lady is a social engineer. She believes in therapeutic policing and the duty of the state to impose such policing. War is more social engineering, “fixitry” via high explosive, social therapy via cruise missile…. As a tough therapeutic cop, she does not shy away from the most abrupt expression of the therapy: the death penalty.

I followed the war closely from the start, but selling articles to editors bashing the bombing was as easy as pitching paeans to Scientology. Instead of breaking into newsprint, my venting occurred instead in my journal:

April 7, 1999: Much of the media and most of the American public are evaluating Clinton’s Serbian policy based on the pictures of the bomb damage — rather than by asking whether there is any coherent purpose or justification for bombing. The ultimate triumph of photo opportunities…. What a travesty and national disgrace for this country.

April 17: My bottom line on the Kosovo conflict: I hate holy wars. And this is a holy war for American good deeds — or for America’s saintly self-image? Sen. John McCain said the war is necessary to “uphold American values.” Make me barf! Just another … Hitler-of-the-month attack.

May 13: This damn Serbian war … is a symbol of all that is wrong with the righteous approach to the world … and to problems within this nation.

The KLA

The Kosovo Liberation Army’s savage nature was well known before the Clinton administration formally christened them “freedom fighters” in 1999. The previous year, the State Department condemned “terrorist action by the so-called Kosovo Liberation Army.” The KLA was heavily involved in drug trafficking and had close to ties to Osama bin Laden. Arming the KLA helped Clinton portray himself as a crusader against injustice and shift public attention after his impeachment trial. Clinton was aided by many congressmen eager to portray U.S. bombing as an engine of righteousness. Sen. Joe Lieberman whooped that the United States and the KLA “stand for the same values and principles. Fighting for the KLA is fighting for human rights and American values.”

In early June 1999, the Washington Post reported that “some presidential aides and friends are describing [bombing] Kosovo in Churchillian tones, as Clinton’s ‘finest hour.’” Clinton administration officials justified killing civilians because, it alleged the Serbs were committing genocide in Kosovo. After the bombing ended, no evidence of genocide was found, but Clinton and Britain’s Tony Blair continued boasting as if their war had stopped a new Hitler in his tracks.

In a speech to American troops in a Thanksgiving 1999 visit, Clinton declared that the Kosovar children “love the United States … because we gave them their freedom back.” Perhaps Clinton saw freedom as nothing more than being tyrannized by people of the same ethnicity. As the Serbs were driven out of Kosovo, Kosovar Albanians became increasingly oppressed by the KLA, which ignored its commitment to disarm. The Los Angeles Times reported on November 20, 1999,

As a postwar power struggle heats up in Kosovo Albanian politics, extremists are trying to silence moderate leaders with a terror campaign of kidnappings, beatings, bombings, and at least one killing. The intensified attacks against members of the moderate Democratic League of Kosovo, or LDK, have raised concerns that radical ethnic Albanians are turning against their own out of fear of losing power in a democratic Kosovo.

American and NATO forces stood by as the KLA resumed its ethnic cleansing, slaughtering Serbian civilians, bombing Serbian churches, and oppressing non-Muslims. Almost a quarter million Serbs, Gypsies, Jews, and other minorities fled Kosovo after Clinton promised to protect them. In March 2000 renewed fighting broke out when the KLA launched attacks into Serbia, trying to seize territory that it claimed historically belonged to ethnic Albanians. UN Human Rights Envoy Jiri Dienstbier reported that “the [NATO] bombing hasn’t solved any problems. It only multiplied the existing problems and created new ones. The Yugoslav economy was destroyed. Kosovo is destroyed. There are hundreds of thousands of people unemployed now.”

U.S. complicity in atrocities

Prior to the NATO bombing, American citizens had no responsibility for atrocities committed by either Serbs or ethnic Albanians. However, after American planes bombed much of Serbia into rubble to drive the Serbian military out of Kosovo, Clinton effectively made the United States responsible for the safety of the remaining Serbs in Kosovo. That was equivalent to forcibly disarming a group of people, and then standing by, whistling and looking at the ground, while they are slaughtered. Since the United States promised to bring peace to Kosovo, Clinton bears some responsibility for every burnt church, every murdered Serbian grandmother, every new refugee column streaming north out of Kosovo. Despite those problems, Clinton bragged at a December 8, 1999, press conference that he was “very, very proud” of what the United States had done in Kosovo.

I had a chapter on the Serbian bombing campaign titled “Moralizing with Cluster Bombs” in Feeling Your Pain: The Explosion and Abuse of Government Power in the Clinton–Gore Years (St. Martin’s Press, 2000), which sufficed to spur at least one or two reviewers to attack the book. Norman Provizer, the director of the Golda Meir Center for Political Leadership, scoffed in the Denver Rocky Mountain News, “Bovard chastises Clinton for an illegal, undeclared war in Kosovo without ever bothering to mention that, during the entire run of American history, there have been but four official declarations of war by Congress.”

As the chaotic situation in post-war Kosovo became stark, it was easier to work in jibes against the debacle. In an October 2002 USA Today article (“Moral High Ground Not Won on Battlefield“) bashing the Bush administration’s push for war against Iraq, I pointed out, “A desire to spread freedom does not automatically confer a license to kill…. Operation Allied Force in 1999 bombed Belgrade, Yugoslavia, into submission purportedly to liberate Kosovo. Though Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic raised the white flag, ethnic cleansing continued — with the minority Serbs being slaughtered and their churches burned to the ground in the same way the Serbs previously oppressed the ethnic Albanians.”

In a 2011 review for The American Conservative, I scoffed, “After NATO planes killed hundreds if not thousands of Serb and ethnic Albanian civilians, Bill Clinton could pirouette as a savior. Once the bombing ended, many of the Serbs remaining in Kosovo were slaughtered and their churches burned to the ground. NATO’s ‘peace’ produced a quarter million Serbian, Jewish, and Gypsy refugees.”

In 2014, a European Union task force confirmed that the ruthless cabal that Clinton empowered by bombing Serbia committed atrocities that included murdering persons to extract and sell their kidneys, livers, and other body parts. Clint Williamson, the chief prosecutor of a special European Union task force, declared in 2014 that senior members of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) had engaged in “unlawful killings, abductions, enforced disappearances, illegal detentions in camps in Kosovo and Albania, sexual violence, forced displacements of individuals from their homes and communities, and desecration and destruction of churches and other religious sites.”

The New York Times reported that the trials of Kosovo body snatchers may be stymied by cover-ups and stonewalling: “Past investigations of reports of organ trafficking in Kosovo have been undermined by witnesses’ fears of testifying in a small country where clan ties run deep and former members of the KLA are still feted as heroes. Former leaders of the KLA occupy high posts in the government.” American politicians almost entirely ignored the scandal. Vice President Joe Biden hailed former KLA leader and Kosovo Prime Minister Hashim Thaci in 2010 as “the George Washington of Kosovo.” A few months later, a Council of Europe investigative report tagged Thaci as an accomplice to the body-trafficking operation.

Clinton’s war on Serbia opened a Pandora’s box from which the world still suffers. Because politicians and pundits portrayed that war as a moral triumph, it was easier for subsequent presidents to portray U.S. bombing as the self-evident triumph of good over evil. Honest assessments of wrongful killings remain few and far between in media coverage.

August 17, 2019 Posted by | Book Review, Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , , | 2 Comments