In the last ten years, the expansion of corporate sugarcane and oil palm plantations in northern Guatemala has encroached on the lands of Maya Q’eqchi’ indigenous people—many of whom fled to this region during the country’s 36-year genocidal war. These plantations have already displaced hundreds of families—even entire communities—leading to increased poverty, hunger, unemployment, and landlessness in the region. The companies grabbing land are controlled by European-descendent Guatemalan oligarchs who are benefitting from rising global commodity prices for food, animal feed, and fuel (biodiesel and ethanol). In the face of violent expulsion and incorporation into an exploitative system, peasant families are struggling to access land and defend their resources as the basis of their collective identity as Q’eqchi’ peoples or R’al Ch’och (“sons and daughters of the earth”).
Hours after the death of former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher, the history books are being re-written and the beatification of the Iron Lady is well underway.
Current British premier David Cameron praised Lady Thatcher for having “saved Britain” and for making the has-been colonial power “great again”.
Tributes poured forth from French and German leaders, Francoise Hollande and Angela Merkel, while US President Barack Obama said America had lost a “special friend”.
Former American secretary of state Henry Kissinger and former Russian leader Mikhail Gorbachev also lamented the loss of “an historic world figure”. Polish ex-president Lech Walesa hailed Margaret Thatcher for having brought down the Soviet Union and Communism.
Such fulsome praise may be expected coming from so many war criminals. But it is instructive of how history is written by the victors and criminals in high office. Obama, Cameron, Hollande and Merkel should all be arraigned and prosecuted for war crimes in Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Pakistan, Somalia and Mali, among other places. Kissinger has long evaded justice for over four decades for his role in the US genocide in Southeast Asia during the so-called Vietnam War in which over three million people were obliterated in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia.
The British state is to give Thatcher, who died this week aged 87, a full military-honours funeral. The praise, eulogies, wreaths and ceremonies are all self-indictments of association with one of the most ruthless and criminal political figures in modern times.
So, here is a people’s history of Thatcher’s legacy.
She will be remembered for colluding with the most reactionary elements of Rupert Murdoch’s squalid media empire to launch a war over the Malvinas Islands in 1982, a war that caused hundreds of lives and involved the gratuitous sinking of an Argentine warship, the Belgrano, by a British submarine.
By declaring war, rather than conducting political negotiations with Argentina over Britain’s ongoing colonial possession of the Malvinas, Thatcher salvaged her waning public support in Britain, and the bloodletting helped catapult her into a second term of office in Downing Street. Her political “greatness” that so many Western leaders now eulogize was therefore paid in part by the lives of Argentine and British soldiers, and by bequeathing an ongoing source of conflict in the South Atlantic.
It wasn’t just foreigners that Thatcher declared war on. Armed with her snake-oil economic policies of privatisation, deregulation, unleashing finance capitalism, pump-priming the rich with tax awards subsidised by the ordinary working population, Thatcher declared war on the British people themselves. She famously proclaimed that “there was no such thing as society” and went on to oversee an explosion in the gap between rich and poor and the demolition of social conditions in Britain. That legacy has been amplified by both successive Conservative and Labour governments and is central to today’s social meltdown in Britain – more than two decades after Thatcher resigned. Laughably, David Cameron, a protégé of Thatcher, claims that she “saved” Britain. The truth is Thatcher accelerated the sinking of British capitalism and society at large. What she ordered for the Belgrano has in a very real way come to be realised for British society at large.
During her second term of office in the mid-1980s, the Iron Lady declared war on the “enemy within”. She was referring to Britain’s strongly unionised coal-mining industry. Imagine declaring war on your own population. That is a measure of her pathological intolerance towards others who did not happen to share her obnoxious ideological views – ideological views that have since become exposed as intellectually and morally bankrupt.
For over a year around 1984, her Orwellian mindset and policies starved mining communities in the North of England into submission. Her use of paramilitary police violence also broke the resolve and legitimate rights of these communities. Miners’ leader Arthur Scargill would later be vindicated in the eyes of ordinary people, if not in the eyes of the mainstream media. Britain’s coalmines were systematically shut down, thousands of workers would be made unemployed, and entire communities were thrown on the social scrap heap. All this violence and misery was the price for Thatcher’s ideological war against working people and their political rights.
The class war that Thatcher unleashed in Britain is still raging. The rich have become richer, the poor decidedly more numerous and poorer. The decimation of workers’ rights and the unfettered power given to finance capital were hallmarks of Thatcher’s legacy and are to this day hallmarks of Britain’s current social decay. But that destructive legacy goes well beyond Britain. The rightwing nihilistic capitalism that Thatcher gave vent to was and became a zeitgeist for North America, Europe and globally. The economic malaise that is currently plaguing the world can be traced directly to such ideologues as Margaret Thatcher and former US President Ronald Reagan.
A final word on Thatcher’s real legacy, as opposed to the fakery from fellow war criminals, is her role in Ireland’s conflict. Her epitaph of “Iron Lady” is often said with admiration or even sneaking regard for her supposed virtues of determination and strength. In truth, her “iron” character was simply malevolent, as can be seen from her policies towards the Irish struggle for independence from Britain. In 1981, 10 Irish republican prisoners, led by a young Belfast man by the name of Bobby Sands, died from hunger strikes. The men died after more than 50 days of refusing prison food because they were demanding to be treated as political prisoners, not as criminals. Thatcher refused to yield to their demands, denouncing them as criminals and callously claiming that they “took their own lives”. No matter that Bobby Sands had been elected by tens of thousands of Irish voters to the British House of Parliament during his hunger strike. He was merely a criminal who deserved to die, according to the cold, unfeeling Thatcher.
As a result of Thatcher’s intransigence to negotiate Irish rights, the violence in the North of Ireland would escalate over the next decade, claiming thousands of lives. As with Las Malvinas dispute with Argentina, Thatcher deliberately took the military option and, with that, countless lives, rather than engage in reasoned, mutual dialogue. Her arrogance and obduracy blinded her to any other possibility.
As the violence gyrated in Ireland, Thatcher would also embrace the criminal policy of colluding with pro-British death squads. Armed, funded and directed by British intelligence, these death squads would in subsequent years kill hundreds of innocent people – with the knowledge and tacit approval of Lady Thatcher. It was a policy of British state terrorism in action, sanctioned by Thatcher. One of those victims was Belfast lawyer Pat Finucane, who was murdered in February 1989. He was shot 12 times in the head in front of his wife and children by a British death squad, after the killers smashed their way into the Finucane home on a Sunday afternoon.
Thus whether in her dealings with the Las Malvinas row with Argentina, the British working people or Irish republicans, Margaret Thatcher was an intolerant militarist who always resorted to demagoguery, violence and starvation to get her political way. She was a criminal fascist who is now proclaimed to be a national hero.
Reports this week say that Thatcher died with Alzheimer’s, the brain-degenerating disease in which the patient loses their faculty for memory. Western leaders, it seems, would also like to erase public memory of Thatcher’s criminal legacy.
Rebel: The Story of Gerry Adams
CAIRtv | April 3, 2013
In an October 21, 2001, speech before the convention of the American Jewish Congress, Daniel Pipes stated: “I worry very much from the Jewish point of view that the presence, and increased stature, and affluence, and enfranchisement of American Muslims…will present true dangers to American Jews.”
Daniel Pipes Supports Internment of Japanese-Americans:
“Yes, I do support the internment of Japanese Americans in World War II.” From Daniel Pipes’ website, 12/28/04
Flames have enveloped all floors of the highest building in the North Caucasus, southern Russia. All people have managed to leave the building. The Grozny-city complex in the Chechen Republic includes luxury apartments and a 5-star hotel.
The local emergency service said the call about the fire on between the 4th and 5th floors was received at around 18:00 PM local time (14:00 GMT).
According to witnesses’ pictures that immediately started to appear on Twitter, all stories of the building are covered with flames.
At the same time there have been reports suggesting that the fire started on the top floor and the bottom floor was on fire as well.
All people have managed to leave the the 145-meter skyscraper ; one woman was seen to be supported by others, witnesses said. Local police confirmed no one was injured.
Fire units and ambulances have arrived at the scene. Nearly 300 people are involved in extinguishing the fire. The area around the Grozny-City complex has been cordoned off.
In two hours the fire has completely engulfed three sides of the skyscraper from the top to bottom as the flames spread rapidly due to the plastic trimming on the building. It has also reached the world’s largest clock face, located near the apex of the building.
Firefighters have managed to extinguish the flames on the lower floors. However, the fire has spread very quickly, making it difficult to tackle the blaze from the ground. Helicopters have been sent from the southern city of Pyatigorsk to help out, but have not received the go-ahead for lift-off.
“We are ready, but the helicopters won’t be able to maneuver between the buildings, which are packed tight,” said emergency ministry official Aleksandr Barsuk.
A criminal case has been launched in connection to the violation of fire safety rules. According to the initial version the cause of the fire was a short circuit, LifeNews tabloid reported citing a local police source.
“According to preliminary information, the cause of the fire in the skyscraper was a short circuit. A more concise report will be done after experts examine the building,” the source told the tabloid.
In the burning skyscrapers called “Olympus” is an apartment belonging to French film star and tax exile Gerard Depardieu. LifeNews tabloid reports local administration confirmed the Frenchman’s apartment is on the 27th floor, facing the so-called “heart of Grozny”- central mosque.
“The fire has completely enveloped the right-hand side of the skyscraper. Both the wall and the window of the actor’s apartment have been damaged,” the tabloid quoted a local police source as saying.
The head of Chechen Republic Ramzan Kadyrov granted the actor the status of “Chechen’s honorable resident” and presented an apartment in Grozny-City shortly after the Frenchman was granted Russian citizenship.
The Grozny-City complex was partly open in 2011. It consists of seven skyscrapers both condominiums and a hotel: one 40-storey (currently on fire), one 30-storey, three 28-storey and two 18-storey buildings. The completed complex would boast 1000 apartments.
“We will reconstruct the building, and make it more beautiful with help from Allah,” said Kadyrov on his Instagram account.
During the Six-Day War, Israel attacked and nearly sank the USS Liberty belonging to its closest ally, the USA. Thirty-four American servicemen were killed in the two-hour assault by Israeli warplanes and torpedo boats. Israel claimed that the whole affair had been a tragic accident based on mistaken identification of the ship. The American government accepted the explanation.
For more than 30 years many people have disbelieved the official explanation but have been unable to rebut it convincingly. Now, Dead in the Water uses startling new evidence to reveal the truth behind the seemingly inexplicable attack. The film combines dramatic reconstruction of the events, with new access to former officers in the US and Israeli armed forces and intelligence services who have decided to give their own version of events.
Interviews include President Lyndon Johnson’s Secretary of Defence Robert McNamara, former head of the Israeli navy Admiral Shlomo Errell and members of the USS Liberty crew.
This important documentary explores the decade long war in Afghanistan. It was produced as part of Hizb ut Tahrir Australia’s recent campaign on the decade anniversary of the war. It is high time for a honest and rigorous assessment of this war and, in the Australian context, continued involvement in it. The politicians, from both sides, have regurgitated the same platitudes, built on false narratives, for ten years, as more soldiers have died, more civilians have perished and more of Afghanistan has been destroyed.
- Top Israel Lobby Senator Proposes Permanent US Air Bases For Afghanistan (alethonews.wordpress.com)
A female Bahraini doctor says the Al Khalifa regime forces have ‘severely’ tortured her and several other doctors, who treated injured anti-regime protesters, in order to extract false confessions.
“We were forced to sign false confession blindly without reading them and these confessions were taken or extracted by severe torture and I mean by severe torture physical and psychological torture,” Dr. Fatima Haji said in a recent interview with Russia Today.
“We’d been denied sleep for days and had been standing for days. We were not given food or fluids and were hardly allowed to go the toilet,” Haji stated.
She further said the inmates were beaten by wooden sticks and hollow pipes. They were also electrocuted, sexually harassed and threatened with death and rape.
Haji is one of a group of doctors who were sentenced to five years in jail for their role in anti-regime protests. However, they were acquitted in 2012.
The confession they were forced to sign said that they were in possession of arms in the hospital where they worked and that they were trying to topple the Manama regime.
In a gesture of solidarity with Guantanamo Bay prisoners, who are continuing their month-long hunger strike, activists across the world have launched a week-long fast. The campaign will also include protest rallies and vigils.
The action, organized by the Guantanamo prisoners support group Witness Against Torture (WAT), began on Sunday and is to last through March 30. Some activists plan to continue fasting every Friday until the prison is closed, the group says.
The fast will be accompanied by public gatherings to protest against the existence of Guantanamo prison and the condition of people held there.
“We will gather for action in New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles, and other cities domestically and internationally next week to denounce the barbaric practice of torture and indefinite detention and to demand justice for the men at Guantanamo,” WAT says.
The activists also released a list of 166 names of Gitmo detainees, calling on supporters to flood the prison with letters of solidarity and remind the management “that the world has not forgotten the hunger strikers.”
Human rights advocate Andy Worthington believes demonstrations like the recent one are crucial for changing the situation in Guantanamo, stating inactivity “would be a victory” for those whose aim is to keep the prison open.
“Those of us working to close Guantanamo are up against powerful forces of indifference or hostility to our cause, despite the obvious justice of our position. People should not – must not – be put off by this indifference or hostility,” Andy Worthington told RT.
WAT organized similar fasts of solidarity annually since 2010. The group itself was formed back in 2005 and has since been trying to make the US government close the notorious prison through vigils, marches, nonviolent direct action and other measures.
Lawyers of the detainees say more than a hundred of Guantanamo prisoners have been on a hunger strike since early February, with some putting their health at considerable risk. The protest was reportedly caused by mistreatment on the part of the guards, including searches, confiscation of personal items and desecration of Korans.
Guantanamo Bay management has been downplaying the scale of the protest, saying that it considers only a handful of detainees to be genuine hunger strikers.
- Human rights watchdogs turn blind eye on Gitmo hunger strikers (alethonews.wordpress.com)
… Israeli forces have sprayed Palestinian homes in the village of Nabi Saleh with Skunk as a punishment for organizing weekly protests against the Apartheid Wall built on occupied land. …
Twenty-seven Palestinian children, age seven to 15, were arrested while on their way to school in the West Bank city of Hebron. Three were detained for two days; twenty-four others were held for almost twelve hours.
The principal of the Hebron Public School reported that he was standing at the gate to his school at 7:30 a.m. when about 22 soldiers arrived and immediately began taking children from the street without speaking with the principal, teachers or the children. The street was full of children on their way to five area schools. Several adults arrived and tried to prevent the soldiers from taking the students but soldiers pulled the children away.
Israeli soldiers arrested 29 students, age seven to 15. They made them walk to checkpoint 29 and violently forced them into the jeeps. Some of the children reported injuries. The soldiers drove them to the police station near the Ibrahimi Mosque, brought 27 children inside and released two on a nearby road. They questioned the students without parents, a lawyer or teachers present and without permission from parents or other adults. Eight of the children were in grades one through four.
Obaida Babyeh, age 15, a student at the Ibrahimi School, was one of the two released near the station. He said, “We were passing to go to our school and they arrested us. The soldiers pushed us into the jeep, then they took us away from the school checkpoint. They hit me on my knee. Then the commander came and talked with them in Hebrew. The commander slapped me and my friend on the face and let us go.”
Teachers from the school came to the police station but were not allowed in. Soldiers told the teachers that they were checking the children against photographs and would release children whose photos they did not have.
At 2:00 p.m. soldiers released the eight youngest children and transported the remaining 19 to the Jabarah and Junaid military stations where they continued to question them. Some were questioned at both locations. The students were fingerprinted, photographed and questioned multiple times without the presence or consent of family, lawyers or teachers. Throughout the incident the children were held together with adult detainees.
Ahmad Abed Al Ra’aoof Sudky Burqan, age 14 and a student at Hebron public elementary school, said, “I was in a small store with my friend on our way to school. When we came out of the market to go to our school the soldiers grabbed us from behind. They took us to checkpoint 29, and then pushed us into the jeep. They took us to the first police station [Ja’abra], then to another one [Junied]. They questioned us, and took our finger prints. I was there from 7:30 a.m. until 7:00 p.m.”
At 7:00 p.m. soldiers released twelve of the students and transported seven to Ofer military prison. Soldiers released four of them from the prison late on the night of 20 March. Three of the children remain in Ofer. Israel is currently detaining 195 Palestinian children, 93 of them in Ofer prison.
For several weeks prior to the incident, members of Christian Peacemaker Teams and other internationals monitoring checkpoints near the schools observed soldiers asking children about photos on a camera before allowing them to pass through to their schools. Students attending school near the Old City must pass through military checkpoints each day as they walk to and from school.
On 20 March, Israeli officials committed at least four clear violations of rights guaranteed to these children under international law:
Parents or legal guardians should be informed of the arrest of children within the shortest possible time thereafter, in a language understood by the child and the parents or legal guardians. (The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), article 9 (1) and (2); Beijing Rules, Rule 10.1)
All children should be free from compulsory self-incrimination, which includes the right to silence. ‘Compulsory’ should be interpreted broadly and not limited to physical force. The age of the child and the length of the interrogation, the child’s lack of understanding and the fear of unknown consequences may all lead a child to give a confession that is not true. (Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) article 40(2)(b) (iv); CRC General Comment No. 10, paragraphs 56-58; Convention against Torture, article 15; ICCPR, article 14(3)(g) and (4); Geneva IV, article 31)
There must be independent scrutiny of the methods of interrogation of children. This should include the presence of a lawyer and relative or legal guardian and audio-visual recording of all interrogations involving children (CRC, art 40(2)(b0(ii) and (iv); CRC General Comment no. 10, para 58; ICCPT, art. 14(3)(b); HRC General Comment no. 20, para 11; HRC Concluding Observations, Israel (29 July 2010), ICCPR/C/ISR/CO/3, para 22; Convention against Torture, art. 2; UN Committee against Torture, General Comment No. 2, para 14, and Concluding Observations, Israel (14 May 2009), CAT/C/ISR/CO/4, paras 15, 16, 27 and 28)
Children should not be held with an adult population while in custody. Under the Convention on the Rights of the Child, parties should establish separate facilities for children deprived of their liberty, including distinct, child-centered staff, personnel, policies and practices.
According to UNICEF (Children in Israeli Military Detention; Observations and Recommendations, February 2012), approximately 700 Palestinian children aged 12 to 17 are arrested, interrogated and detained by the Israeli army, police and security agents each year. In the past ten years approximately 7,000 children have been detained, interrogated, prosecuted and/or imprisoned within the Israeli military justice system. This is an average of two children each day.
- Stranded in Shuhada: Hebron’s Qurtuba school (alethonews.wordpress.com)
Video clip (apparently filmed in 2002) demonstrates clearly how agent provocateur-police officers frame peaceful demonstrators to get them arrested.
On this video, an undercover cop pushes a non-violent bystander (a journalist according to the video) against uniformed police officers to get him arrested, and then the masked provocateur leaves the scene without the cops bothering him/her.
Police (at least) in the UK, Canada, US, Italy, Greece have been caught using provocateurs at demonstrations. This is done to get an excuse to put an end to the demonstration, and to restrict people’s right to protest in the future.
You can find videos of some of these events by searching the internet, use the words “police agent provocateurs + name of the country”.
Not every police officer is in on this. This is mainly being orchestrated by a relatively small group of corrupt insiders who in reality work for high-level organized crime, usually called the “shadow government” or “deep state”.
“Police agent provocateurs” are also the reason why violent-activism is counter productive: If there isn’t enough radical behavior at demonstrations, the police might actually stage some. So if there is a far-right/left group willing to stage riots against the establishment, the “deep state” controlling the establishment is getting just what THEY WANT out of the these extreme-groups.
- Undercover ‘agent provocateurs’ assault man at Montreal protest (alethonews.wordpress.com)