The Republican/Democrat duopoly has, for far too long, ignored the most important issues facing our nation. However, alternate candidates Chuck Baldwin, Cynthia McKinney, and Ralph Nader agree with Ron Paul on four key principles central to the health of our nation. These principles should be key in the considerations of every voter this November and in every election.
Foreign Policy: The Iraq War must end as quickly as possible with removal of all our soldiers from the region. We must initiate the return of our soldiers from around the world, including Korea, Japan, Europe and the entire Middle East. We must cease the war propaganda, threats of a blockade and plans for attacks on Iran, nor should we re-ignite the cold war with Russia over Georgia. We must be willing to talk to all countries and offer friendship and trade and travel to all who are willing. We must take off the table the threat of a nuclear first strike against all nations.
Privacy: We must protect the privacy and civil liberties of all persons under US jurisdiction. We must repeal or radically change the Patriot Act, the Military Commissions Act, and the FISA legislation. We must reject the notion and practice of torture, eliminations of habeas corpus, secret tribunals, and secret prisons. We must deny immunity for corporations that spy willingly on the people for the benefit of the government. We must reject the unitary presidency, the illegal use of signing statements and excessive use of executive orders.
The National Debt: We believe that there should be no increase in the national debt. The burden of debt placed on the next generation is unjust and already threatening our economy and the value of our dollar. We must pay our bills as we go along and not unfairly place this burden on a future generation.
The Federal Reserve: We seek a thorough investigation, evaluation and audit of the Federal Reserve System and its cozy relationships with the banking, corporate, and other financial institutions. The arbitrary power to create money and credit out of thin air behind closed doors for the benefit of commercial interests must be ended. There should be no taxpayer bailouts of corporations and no corporate subsidies. Corporations should be aggressively prosecuted for their crimes and frauds.
Progressives find hope—in Ron Paul
It’s no secret that Ralph Nader has held the Democratic Party establishment in low regard for decades now: the marginally more palatable alternative in an ugly duopoly, he claims, is still quite ugly. But lately Nader’s disdain has reached a new high. “It’s gotten so bad,” he tells me, “that you can actually say a Republican president—with a Democratic Senate—would produce less bad results than the present situation. That’s how bollixed stuff has gone.”
Not that he was ever particularly optimistic about the Obama administration, especially its potential to make headway on curtailing corporate welfare, now Nader’s signature policy objective. But in that, as with so many aspects of Obama’s presidency, the adjectives “disappointing” or “inadequate” don’t even begin to capture the depths of progressive disillusionment. Looking ahead to the 2012 presidential race, one might assume that Nader has little to be cheerful about.
Yet he says there is one candidate who sticks out—who even gives him hope: Rep. Ron Paul of Texas.
That might sound counterintuitive. Nader, of course, is known as a stalwart of the independent left, having first gained notoriety for his 1960s campaign to impose greater regulatory requirements on automakers—a policy act that would seem to contravene the libertarian understanding of justified governmental power. So I had to ask: how could he profess hope in Ron Paul, who almost certainly would have opposed the very regulations on which Nader built his career?
“Look at the latitude,” Nader says, referring to the potential for cooperation between libertarians and the left. “Military budget, foreign wars, empire, Patriot Act, corporate welfare—for starters. When you add those all up, that’s a foundational convergence. Progressives should do so good.”
I thought I’d bring up the subject of Ron Paul with Nader after seeing the two jointly interviewed on Fox Business Channel in January. Nader had caught me off guard when he identified an emergent left-libertarian alliance as “today’s most exciting new political dynamic.” It was easy to foresee objections that the left might raise: if progressives are in favor of expanding the welfare state, how well can they really get along with folks who go around quoting the likes of Hayek and Rothbard?
“That’s strategic sabotage,” Nader responds, sharply. “It’s an intellectual indulgence. … If they’re on your side, and you don’t compromise your positions, what do you care who they quote? Franklin Delano Roosevelt sided with Stalin against Hitler. Not to draw that analogy, I’m just saying—why did he side with Stalin? Because Stalin went along with everything FDR wanted.”
There may be an insurmountable impasse between the camps on social-safety-net spending. “But,” Nader says, “you could get together on corporate entitlements, subsidies, handouts, giveaways, bailouts. Ron Paul is dead set against all that. So are a lot of libertarian-conservatives. In fact, it’s almost a mark of being a libertarian-conservative—in contrast to being a corporatist-conservative.”
“Do you read all these right-wing theoreticians?” he goes on. “Almost every one of them warned about excessive corporate concentration. Hayek did, [Frank] Meyer did, even Adam Smith did in his own way.” He leaves the mechanics of a left-libertarian political coalition to be sussed out later.
If the issues around which progressives and libertarians can coalesce, I ask Nader, are the most intractable, deeply entrenched problems, is he proposing that such a coalition would be more tenable than the one currently cobbling together the Democratic Party, with its many Blue Dogs and neoliberals?
“Exactly,” Nader says. “Libertarians like Ron Paul are on our side on civil liberties. They’re on our side against the military-industrial complex. They’re on our side against Wall Street. They’re on our side for investor rights. That’s a foundational convergence,” he exhorts. “It’s not just itty-bitty stuff.”
Nader cites opposition to “the self-defeating, boomeranging drug war” as another source of common ground, in the face of both parties’ indifference—with the scant exceptions of a few House Democrats who favor decriminalizing marijuana—to drug prohibition’s many ills. Ron Paul’s rejection of the very notion that personal drug use should be a criminal offense is something that has resonated with younger supporters, often catalyzing their first moment of political consciousness.
“This is one place where conservatives and liberals can get together,” Paul tells me. “Because it’s sort of a nullification approach—a states’ rights approach.” California attempted to legalize marijuana outright via ballot initiative “because they have millions and millions of people who are using it, yet the federal government’s position—Obama’s position—is still to go after people even if it’s being used for medicinal reasons, and putting sick people in jail.”
“But of course,” Paul goes on, “the conservatives are very weak on states’ rights when it comes to marijuana, which I find rather ironic. Why don’t they just stick to principle and say, ‘Well, we’re for states’ rights. Let the states do this.’ But no, they come down hard and say, ‘We need a federal law’.” He sounds exasperated. “I think both sides should work harder at being consistent.”
Some critics allege that Paul himself has proven inconsistent on states’ rights when it comes to the Defense of Marriage Act, which created federal criteria for the recognition of marital unions. Campaign literature distributed by the Paul campaign, under the header “Barack Obama’s Assault on Marriage,” asserts that the administration has shown “a profound lack of respect for the Constitution and the Rule of Law” by no longer defending one of DOMA’s provisions in federal court. “As President,” the literature reads, “Dr. Paul would enforce the Defense of Marriage Act, stopping Big Government in Washington, D.C. from forcing its definition of marriage on the states.”
The flyer’s aggressive tone suggests it may have been written with an eye towards appealing to Evangelical voters. In our interview, Paul offers a nuanced position. He wasn’t in Congress in 1996 when DOMA was approved, but says he “probably” would have voted for it. “Looking back,” Paul tells me, “I believed it protected the states over the federal government’s dictates.”
How sharp is the divide on social issues between progressives and Paul’s more conservative supporters? I ask for his opinion on the central role religion has seemingly taken in the Republican presidential contest, something that has distressed progressives and libertarians alike. Texas Governor Rick Perry preceded the announcement of his bid with a massive Evangelical prayer rally in Houston, just miles from Paul’s congressional district.
“It certainly is his judgment call,” Paul says of Perry’s decision to convene a stadium-sized worship event. “There’s nothing that says he should not do it. But whether it’s the wisest thing to do? For me, I would consider it unwise.”
Paul is typically demure about his own belief in Christianity—willing to speak about it when prompted, but never ostentatious. “It might be the way I was raised. We weren’t ever taught to carry religion on our sleeves.” He references New Testament admonitions against going “out on the sidewalk” to “make a grandstand.” “You’re supposed to go quietly into your closet to pray,” Paul says, “and not be demonstrating in any particular way. So I think I have followed that more than others.”
I ask him at what point journalists should be entitled to press candidates on their personal doctrinal views. Ordinarily, Paul says, it’s inappropriate. “But if you start using religion precisely to gain political advantage,” he adds, “then I think it’s much fairer to ask those questions.”
Nader takes a grim view of Perry, who polls indicate is the Republican frontrunner. “It’s easy to say he may self-destruct, but he’s starting to get some of that Reagan teflon. The Republican Party is going to self-destruct with Perry. I don’t think he’s like Reagan. He’s too cruel and vicious.”
There are nascent movements underway to bring disaffected progressives into Ron Paul’s fold. A new organization called Blue Republican, advertised on the Huffington Post and elsewhere, urges Democrats to pledge their support for Paul. While Nader isn’t willing to endorse Paul’s candidacy at this point, during our interview his praise grew increasingly effusive. “Ron Paul has always been anti-corporate, anti-Federal Reserve, anti-big banks, anti-bailouts,” Nader says. “I mean, they view him in the same way they view me on a lot of these issues. Did you see the latest poll? He’s like two points behind Obama.”
“That’s where the hope comes from,” Nader continues. “Because the left will reach out. I mean, they’re already reaching out. They want as many allies as possible. It’s the right-wing that is being split, and that’s historically been the case—the corporatists make sure authentic conservatives are vectored in other directions. They’re vectored on the social religious issues, abortion, more recently on raising the debt limit. ‘Keep going after the libs,’ the corporatists say. Because otherwise, authentic conservatives may develop a cooperative effort with the ‘libs’ on other issues, which are our issues,” he concludes. “The big issues.”
Michael Tracey is a writer based in New York. His work has appeared in The Nation, Reason, Mother Jones, and other publications.
The war against Libya is built on fraud. The United Nations Security Council passed two resolutions against Libya on the basis of unproven claims, specifically that Colonel Muammar Qaddafi was killing his own people in Benghazi. The claim in its exact form was that Qaddafi had ordered Libyan forces to kill 6,000 people in Benghazi. These claims were widely disseminated, but always vaguely explained. It was on the basis of this claim that Libya was referred to the U.N. Security Council at U.N Headquarters in New York City and kicked out of the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva.
False claims about African mercenary armies in Libya and about jet attacks on civilians were also used in a broad media campaign against Libya. These two claims have been sidelined and have become more and more murky. The massacre claims, however, were used in a legal, diplomatic, and military framework to justify NATO’s war on the Libyans.
Using Human Rights as a Pretext for War: The LLHR and its Unproven Claims
One of the main sources for the claim that Qaddafi was killing his own people is the Libyan League for Human Rights (LLHR). The LLHR was actually pivotal to getting the U.N. involved through its specific claims in Geneva. On February 21, 2011 the LLHR got the 70 other non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to sent letters to the President Obama, E.U. High Representative Catherine Ashton., and the U.N. Secretary-General Ban-ki Moon demanding international action against Libya invoking the “Responsibility to Protect” doctrine. Only 25 members of this coalition actually assert that they are human rights groups.
The letter is as follows:
We, the undersigned non-governmental, human rights, and humanitarian organizations, urge you to mobilize the United Nations and the international community and take immediate action to halt the mass atrocities now being perpetrated by the Libyan government against its own people. The inexcusable silence cannot continue.
As you know, in the past several days, Colonel Moammar Gadhafi’s forces are estimated to have deliberately killed hundreds of peaceful protesters and innocent bystanders across the country. In the city of Benghazi alone, one doctor reported seeing at least 200 dead bodies. Witnesses report that a mixture of special commandos, foreign mercenaries and regime loyalists have attacked demonstrators with knives, assault rifles and heavy-caliber weapons.
Snipers are shooting peaceful protesters. Artillery and helicopter gunships have been used against crowds of demonstrators. Thugs armed with hammers and swords attacked families in their homes. Hospital officials report numerous victims shot in the head and chest, and one struck on the head by an anti-aircraft missile. Tanks are reported to be on the streets and crushing innocent bystanders. Witnesses report that mercenaries are shooting indiscriminately from helicopters and from the top of roofs. Women and children were seen jumping off Giuliana Bridge in Benghazi to escape. Many of them were killed by the impact of hitting the water, while others were drowned. The Libyan regime is seeking to hide all of these crimes by shutting off contact with the outside world. Foreign journalists have been refused entry. Internet and phone lines have been cut or disrupted.
There is no question here about intent. The government media has published open threats, promising that demonstrators would meet a “violent and thunderous response.”
Accordingly, the government of Libya is committing gross and systematic violations of the right to life as guaranteed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Citizens seeking to exercise their rights to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly are being massacred by the government.
Moreover, the government of Libya is committing crimes against humanity, as defined by the Explanatory Memorandum to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. The Libyan government’s mass killing of innocent civilians amount to particularly odious offences which constitute a serious attack on human dignity. As confirmed by numerous oral and video testimonies gathered by human rights organizations and news agencies, the Libyan government’s assault on its civilian population are not isolated or sporadic events. Rather, these actions constitute a widespread and systematic policy and practice of atrocities, intentionally committed, including murder, political persecution and other inhumane acts which reach the threshold of crimes against humanity.
Responsibility to Protect
Under the 2005 World Summit Outcome Document, you have a clear and unambiguous responsibility to protect the people of Libya. The international community, through the United Nations, has the responsibility to use appropriate diplomatic, humanitarian and other peaceful means, in accordance with Chapters VI and VIII of the Charter, to help to protect the Libyan population. Because the Libyan national authorities are manifestly failing to protect their population from crimes against humanity, should peaceful means be inadequate, member states are obliged to take collective action, in a timely and decisive manner, through the Security Council, in accordance with the UN Charter, including Chapter VII.
In addition, we urge you to convene an emergency Special Session of the UN Human Rights Council, whose members have a duty, under UNGA Resolution 60/251, to address situations of gross and systematic violations of violations of human rights. The session should:
Call for the General Assembly to suspend Libya’s Council membership, pursuant to Article 8 of Resolution 60/251, which applies to member states that commit gross and systematic violations of human rights.
Strongly condemn, and demand an immediate end to, Libya’s massacre of its own citizens.
Dispatch immediately an international mission of independent experts to collect relevant facts and document violations of international human rights law and crimes against humanity, in order to end the impunity of the Libyan government. The mission should include an independent medical investigation into the deaths, and an investigation of the unlawful interference by the Libyan government with the access to and treatment of wounded.
Call on the UN High Commissioner of Human Rights and the Council’s relevant Special Procedures to closely monitor the situation and take action as needed.
Call on the Council to remain seized of the matter and address the Libyan situation at its upcoming 16th regular session in March.
Member states and high officials of the United Nations have a responsibility to protect the people of Libya from what are preventable crimes. We urge you to use all available measures and levers to end atrocities throughout the country.
We urge you to send a clear message that, collectively, the international community, the Security Council and the Human Rights Council will not be bystanders to these mass atrocities. The credibility of the United Nations — and many innocent lives — are at stake. 
According to Physicians for Human Rights: “[This letter was] prepared under the guidance of Mohamed Eljahmi, the noted Libyan human rights defender and brother of dissident Fathi Eljahmi, asserts that the widespread atrocities committed by Libya against its own people amount to war crimes, requiring member states to take action through the Security Council under the responsibility to protect doctrine.” 
The letters signatories included Francis Fukuyama, United Nations Watch (which looks out for Israel’s interests), B’nai B’rith Human Rights Commission, the Cuban Democratic Directorate, and a set of organizations at odds with the governments of Nicaragua, Cuba, Sudan, Russia, Venezuela, and Libya. Some of these organizations are viewed with hostility as organizations created to wage demonization campaigns against countries at odds with the U.S., Israel, and the European Union. Refer to the annex for the full list of signatories for consultation.
LLHR is tied to the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), which is based in France and has ties to the National Endowment for Democracy (NED). FIDH is active in many places in Africa and in activities involving the National Endowment for Democracy. Both the FIDH and LLHR also released a joint communiqué on February 21, 2011. In the communiqué both organizations asked for the international community to “mobilize” and mention the International Criminal Court while also making a contradictory claiming that over 400 to 600 people had died since February 15, 2011.  This of course was about 5,500 short of the claim that 6,000 people were massacred in Benghazi. The joint letter also promoted the false view that 80% of Qaddafi’s support came from foreign mercenaries, which is something that over half a year of fighting proves as untrue.
According to the General-Secretary of the LLHR, Dr. Sliman Bouchuiguir, the claims about the massacres in Benghazi could not be validated by the LLHR when he was challenged for proof. When asked how a group of 70 non-governmental organizations in Geneva could support the LLHR’s claims on Geneva, Dr. Buchuiguir has answered that a network of close relationship was the basis. This is a mockery.
Speculation is neither evidence nor grounds for starting a war with a bombing campaign that has lasted about half a year and taken many innocent civilian lives, including children and the elderly. What is important to note here is that the U.N. Security Council decided to sanction the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya on the basis of this letter and the claims of the LLHR. Not once did the U.N. Security Council and the member states pushing for war once bother to even investigate the allegations. In one session in New York City, the Indian Ambassador to the U.N. actually pointed this out when his country abstained from voting. Thus, a so-called “humanitarian war” was launched without any evidence.
The Secret Relationship between the LLHR and the Transitional Council
The claims of the Libyan League for Human Rights (LLHR) were coordinated with the formation of the Transitional Council. This becomes clear with when the close and cagey relationship of the LLHR and the Transitional Council becomes apparent. Logically, the Obama Administration and NATO had to also be a part of this.
Whatever the Transitional Council is and whatever the intent of some of its supporters, it is clear that it is being used as a tool by the U.S. and others. Moreover, five members of the LLHR were or would become members of the Transitional Council almost immediately after the claims against the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya were disseminated. According to Bouchuguir this includes Mahmoud Jibril and Ali Tarhouni.
Dr. Mahmoud Jibril is a Libyan regime figure brought into Libyan government circles by Saif Al-Islam Qaddafi. He would undemocratically be given the position of Transitional Council prime minister. His involvement with the LLHR raises some real questions about the organization.
The economist Ali Tarhouni on the other hand would become the minister for oil and finance for the Transitional Council. Tarhouni is Washington’s man in Libya. He was groomed in the United States and was present at all the major meetings about plans for regime change in Libya. As Minister of Oil and Finance the first acts he did were privatize and virtually handover Libya’s energy resources and economy.
The General-Secretary of the LLHR, Sliman Bouchuiguir, has even privately admitted that many influential members of the Transitional Council are his friends. A real question of interests arises. Yet, the secret relationship between the LLHR and the Transitional Council is far more than a question of conflict of interest. It is a question of justice and manipulation.
Who is Sliman Bouchuiguir?
Sliman Bouchuguir is an unheard of figure for most, but he has authored a doctoral thesis that has been widely quoted and used in strategic circles in the United States. This thesis was published in 1979 as a book, The Use of Oil as a Political Weapon: A Case Study of the 1973 Arab oil Embargo. The thesis is about the use of oil as an economic weapon by Arabs, but can easily be applied to the Russians, the Iranians, the Venezuelans, and others. It examines economic development and economic warfare and can also be applied to vast regions, including all of Africa.
Bouchuguir’s analytical thesis reflects an important line of thinking in Washington, as well as London and Tel Aviv. It is both the embodiment of a pre-existing mentality, which includes U.S. National Security Advisor George F. Kennan’s arguments for maintaining a position of disparity through a constant multi-faced war between the U.S. and its allies on one hand and the rest of the world on the other hand. The thesis can be drawn on for preventing the Arabs, or others, from becoming economic powers or threats. In strategic terms rival economies are pinned as threats and as “weapons.” This has serious connotations.
Moreover, Bouchuiguir did his thesis at George Washington University under Bernard Reich. Reich is a political scientist and professor of international relations. He has worked and held positions at places like the U.S. Defense Intelligence College, the United States Air Force Special Operations School, the Marine Corps War College, and the Shiloah Center at Tel Aviv University. He has consulted on the Middle East for the Foreign Service Institute of the U.S. State Department and received grants such as the Defense Academic Research Support Program Research grant and the German Marshal Fund Grant. Reich also was or is presently on the editorial boards of journals such as Israel Affairs (1994-present), Terrorism: An International Journal (1987-1994), and The New Middle East (1971-1973).
It is also clear that Reich is tied to Israeli interests. He has even written a book about the special relationship between the U.S and Israel. He has also been an advocate for a “New Middle East” which would be favourable to Israel. This includes careful consideration over North Africa. His work has also focused on the important strategic interface between the Soviet Union and the Middle East and also on Israeli policy in the continent of Africa.
It is clear why Bouchuiguir has his thesis supervised under Reich. On October 23, 1973, Reich gave a testimony at the U.S. Congress. The testimony has been named “The Impact of the October Middle East War” and is clearly tied to the 1973 oil embargo and Washington’s aim of pre-empting or managing any similar events in the future. It has to be asked, how much did Reich influence Bouchuiguir and if Bouchuiguir espouses the same strategic views as Reich?
The “New North Africa” and a “New Africa” – More than just a “New Middle East”
A “New Africa” is in the works, which will have its borders further drawn out in blood like in the past. The Obama Administration and its allies have opened the gateway for a new invasion of Africa. United States Africa Command (AFRICOM) opened the salvos of the war through Operation Odyssey Damn, before the war on Libya was transferred to NATO’ Operation Unified Protector.
The U.S. has used NATO to continue the occupation of post-Second World War Europe. It will now use AFRICOM to occupy Africa and create an African NATO. It is clear the U.S. wants an expanded military presence in Libya and Africa under the disguise of humanitarian aid missions and fighting terrorism – the same terrorism that it is fanning in Libya and Africa.
The way is being paved for intervention in Africa under the guise of fighting terrorism. General Carter Ham has stated: “If we were to launch a humanitarian operation, how do we do so effectively with air traffic control, airfield management, [and] those kind of activities?”  General Ham’s question is actually a sales pitch for fashioning African military partnerships and integration, as well as new bases that could include the use of more military drones against Libya and other African countries. The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) have both made it clear that the Pentagon is actively trying to establish more drone bases in Africa and the Arabian Peninsula to expand its wars. [WP] In this context, the AFRICOM Commander that there are ties between the Al-Shabaab in Somalia, Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb in North Africa, and the Boko Harem in Nigeria. 
The War in Libya is a Fraud
General Ham has said: “I remain confident that had the U.N. not made the decision, had the U.S. not taken the lead with great support, I’m absolutely convinced there are many, many people in Benghazi alive today who would not be [alive].”  This is not true and a far stretch from reality. The war has cost more lives than it could have ever saved. It has ruined a country and opened the door into Africa for a neo-colonial project.
The claims of the Libyan League for Human Rights (LLHR) were never supported or verified. The credibility of United Nations must be questioned as well as many humanitarian and human rights organizations that have virtually pushed for a war. At best the U.N. Security Council is an irresponsible body, but it has clearly acted outside of due legal process. This pattern now appears to be repeating itself against the Syrian Arab Republic as unverified claims are being made by individuals and organizations supported by foreign powers that care nothing for authentic democratic reforms or liberty.
 United Nations Watch et al., “Urgent Appeal to Stop Atrocities in Libya: Sent by 70 NGOs to the US, EU, and UN,” February 21, 2011:
 Physicians for Human Rights, “PHR and Human Rights Groups Call for Immediate Action in Libya,” February 22, 2011:
 The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the Libyan League for Human Rights (LLHR), “Massacres in Libya: The international community must urgently,” respond, February 21, 2011:
 Jim Garamone, “Africa Command Learns from Libya Operations,” American Forces Press Service, September 15, 2011:
 Gregory Miller and Craig Whitlock, “U.S. U.S. assembling secret drone bases in Africa, Arabian Peninsula, officials say,” The Washington Post, September 20, 2011; Julian E. Barnes, “U.S. Expands Drone Flights to Take Aim at East Africa,” The Wall Street Journal (WSJ), September 21, 2011.
 Garamone, “Africa Command Learns,” Op. cit.
ANNEX: SIGNATORY OF THE URGENT LETTER FOR ACTION ON LIBYA
February 12, 2011 – Geneva, Switzerland
1. Hillel C. Neuer, United Nations Watch, Switzerland
2. Dr. Sliman Bouchuiguir, Libyan League for Human Rights, Switzerland
3. Mary Kay Stratis, Victims of Pan Am Flight 103, Inc., USA
4. Carl Gershman, President, The National Endowment for Democracy, USA
5. Yang Jianli, Initiatives for China, USA – Former prisoner of conscience and survivor of Tiananmen Square massacre
6. Yang Kuanxing, YIbao – Chinese writer, original signatory to Charter 08, the manifesto calling for political reform in China
7. Matteo Mecacci, MP, Nonviolent Radical Party, Italy
8. Frank Donaghue, Physicians for Human Rights, USA
9. Nazanin Afshin-Jam, Stop Child Executions, Canada
10. Bhawani Shanker Kusum, Gram Bharati Samiti, India
11. G. Jasper Cummeh, III, Actions for Genuine Democratic Alternatives, Liberia
12. Michel Monod, International Fellowship of Reconciliation, Switzerland
13. Esohe Aghatise, Associazione Iroko Onlus, Italy
14. Harris O. Schoenberg, UN Reform Advocates, USA
15. Myrna Lachenal, World Federation for Mental Health, Switzerland
16. Nguyên Lê Nhân Quyên, Vietnamese League for Human Rights, Switzerland
17. Sylvia G. Iriondo, Mothers and Women against Repression (M.A.R. Por Cuba), USA
18. David Littman, World Union for Progressive Judaism, Switzerland
19. Barrister Festus Okoye, Human Rights Monitor, Nigeria
20. Theodor Rathgeber, Forum Human Rights, Germany
21. Derik Uya Alfred, Kwoto Cultural Center, Juba – Southern Sudan
22. Carlos E Tinoco, Consorcio Desarrollo y Justicia, A.C., Venezuela
23. Abdurashid Abdulle Abikar, Center for Youth and Democracy, Somalia
24. Dr. Vanee Meisinger, Pan Pacific and South East Asia Women’s Association, Thailand
25. Simone Abel, René Cassin, United Kingdom
26. Dr. Francois Ullmann, Ingenieurs du Monde, Switzerland
27. Sr Catherine Waters, Catholic International Education Office, USA
28. Gibreil Hamid, Darfur Peace and Development Centre, Switzerland
29. Nino Sergi, INTERSOS – Humanitarian Aid Organization, Italy
30. Daniel Feng, Foundation for China in the 21st Century
31. Ann Buwalda, Executive Director, Jubilee Campaign, USA
32. Leo Igwe, Nigerian Humanist Movement, Nigeria
33. Chandika Gautam, Nepal International Consumers Union, Nepal
34. Zohra Yusuf, Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, Pakistan
35. Sekou Doumbia, Femmes & Droits Humains, Mali
36. Cyrille Rolande Bechon, Nouveaux Droits de l’Homme, Cameroon
37. Zainab Al-Suwaij, American Islamic Congress, USA
38. Valnora Edwin, Campaign for Good Governance, Sierra Leone
39. Patrick Mpedzisi, African Democracy Forum, South Africa
40. Phil ya Nangoloh, NamRights, Namibia
41. Jaime Vintimilla, Centro Sobre Derecho y Sociedad (CIDES), Ecuador
42. Tilder Kumichii Ndichia, Gender Empowerment and Development, Cameroon
43. Amina Bouayach, Moroccan Organisation for Human Rights, Morocco
44. Abdullahi Mohamoud Nur, CEPID-Horn Africa, Somalia
45. Delly Mawazo Sesete, Resarch Center on Environment, Democracy & Human Rights, DR Congo
46. Joseph Rahall, Green Scenery, Sierra Leone
47. Arnold Djuma, Solidarité pour la Promotion Sociale et la Paix, Rwanda
48. Panayote Dimitras, Greek Helsinki Monitor, Greece
49. Carlos E. Ponce, Latina American and Caribbean Network for Democracy, Venezuela
50. Fr. Paul Lansu, Pax Christi International, Belgium
51. Tharsika Pakeerathan, Swiss Council of Eelam Tamils, Switzerland
52. Ibrahima Niang, Commission des Droits Humains du Mouvement Citoyen, Senegal
53. Virginia Swain, Center for Global Community and World Law, USA
54. Dr Yael Danieli, International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies, USA
55. Savita Gokhale, Loksadhana, India
56. Hasan Dheeree, Biland Awdal Organization, Somalia
57. Pacifique Nininahazwe, Forum pour le Renforcement de la Société Civile, Burundi
58. Derik Uya Alfred, Kwoto Cultural Center, Southern Sudan
59. Michel Golubnichy, International Association of Peace Foundations, Russia
60. Edward Ladu Terso, Multi Media Training Center, Sudan
61. Hafiz Mohammed, Justice Africa Sudan, Sudan
62. Sammy Eppel, B’nai B’rith Human Rights Commission, Venezuela
63. Jack Jeffery, International Humanist and Ethical Union, United Kingdom
64. Duy Hoang, Viet Tan, Vietnam
65. Promotion de la Democratie et Protection des Droits Humains, DR Congo
66. Radwan A. Masmoudi, Center for the Study of Islam & Democracy, USA
67. María José Zamora Solórzano, Movimiento por Nicaragua, Nicaragua
68. John Suarez, Cuban Democratic Directorate, USA
69. Mohamed Abdul Malek, Libya Watch, United Kingdom
70. Journalists Union of Russia, Russia
71. Sindi Medar-Gould, BAOBAB for Women’s Human Rights, Nigeria
72. Derik Uya Alfred, Kwoto Cultural Centre, Sudan
73. Sr. Anne Shaym, Presentation Sisters, Australia
74. Joseph Rahad, Green Scenery, Sierra Leone
75. Fahma Yusuf Essa, Women in Journalism Association, Somalia
76. Hayder Ibrahim Ali, Sudanese Studies Center, Sudan
77. Marcel Claude Kabongo, Good Governance and Human Rights NGO, DR Congo
78. Frank Weston, International Multiracial Shared Cultural Organization (IMSCO), USA
79. Fatima Alaoui, Maghrebin Forum for environment and development, Morocco
80. Ted Brooks, Committee for Peace and Development Advocacy, Liberia
81. Felly Fwamba, Cerveau Chrétien, DR Congo
82. Jane Rutledge, CIVICUS: World Alliance of Citizen Participation, South Africa
83. Ali AlAhmed, The Institute for Gulf Affairs, USA
84. Daniel Ozoukou, Martin Luther King Center for Peace and Social Justice, Cote d’Ivoire
85. Dan T. Saryee, Liberia Democratic Institute (LDI), Liberia
Dr. Frene Ginwala, former Speaker of the South African National Assembly
Philosopher Francis Fukuyama
Mohamed Eljahmi, Libyan human rights activist
Glenn P. Johnson, Jr., Treasurer, Victims of Pan Am Flight 103, Inc., father of Beth Ann Johnson, victim of Lockerbie bombing
Source: UN Watch (Refer to note 1)
One day in 2007, Israeli Border Police officers swept into the in the village of Anata just north of Jerusalem and began firing rubber bullets at a group of children who had thrown rocks at them. One Israeli bullet landed in the skull of a 10-year-old Palestinian girl named Abir Aramin, tearing the back of her head off and killing her. Aramin was the daughter of a prominent Palestinian activist named Bassam Aramin, who helped lead the group Combatants for Peace, a group that fosters dialogue between former combatants on both sides of the conflict. The little girl’s death sparked international outrage, generating headlines around the world.
The Israeli government went into damage control mode, denying any wrongdoing in connection with Aramin’s death and insisting without evidence that she had been struck in the head with a rock.
Meanwhile, the pro-Israel media watchdog group CAMERA claimed that the uproar surrounding Aramin’s death was a plot to inflame anti-Israel opinion and that all media reports suggesting that the Border Police killed her were categorically false. CAMERA declared that “stone-throwing Palestinians, as opposed to Israeli border police firing rubber bullets (as initially reported), may very well have been responsible for the death of Aramin.” Staffers from CAMERA called Haaretz reporter Danny Rubinstein to demand that he “clarify” his reporting on the killing by noting that “the Israeli border police are not necessarily to blame.”
Israeli state pathologists refused to perform an autopsy on Aramin, forcing her family to pay for their own examination, which proved she was shot by a rubber bullet. Though an officer testified that he may have shot Aramin, the Israeli Supreme Court rejected the family’s demand to put him and a colleague on trial. The whitewash continued until this week, when an Israeli court conceded the Border Police’s guilt in the young girl’s killing by ordering the state to pay the Aramin family $432,000 in damages.
Though the cover-up has unraveled, CAMERA has yet to correct its baseless claims. Since the group’s staffers are so accustomed to complaining to the media about supposed falsehoods, they surely would not mind fielding demands to correct their own bogus assertions, especially those they made to whitewash the killing of a little girl. CAMERA can be reached here and at (617) 789-3672.
Update: CAMERA has posted an extremely defensive, intellectually contorted semi-clarification of their original piece on Aramin’s killing.
The government of Uganda and the“carbon credits” firm New Forests Company — accredited by the United Nations and largely financed by the World Bank and the European Union — are under intense public pressure after evidence emerged that over 20,000 poor Ugandan farmers were brutally evicted from their lands in order for the U.K.-based company to plant trees. The atrocities, publicized in a September 22 report by the non-profit aid group Oxfam, have made headlines around the world.
Under the guise of saving the environment from global warming and climate change, armed enforcers reportedly burned locals’ houses to the ground — along with at least one child who was inside his home when it was set ablaze. The goon squads also reportedly terrorized and beat the residents, threatening to murder anyone who resisted.
“We were beaten by soldiers. They beat my husband and put him in jail,” Naiki Apanabang, who obtained her family’s land in recognition of her grandfather’s military service, told Oxfam investigators. “The eviction was very violent.” Apanabang and her eight children no longer have enough food to eat — let alone money for schooling.
Ugandan authorities granted the UN-accredited carbon-trading firm a license to plant trees on the land in 2005. So-called “carbon credits” earned from the plantation would then be sold to companies to offset their emissions of CO2. The problem was that tens of thousands of people had been living off of the land for decades.
According to officials and New Forests Company, the residents were “illegal encroachers.” The locals, however, provided a very different account. Some of them had been given the land after fighting for the British Army during World War II. Others were invited to settle there by then-dictator Idi Amin some 40 years ago.
Legal cases to resolve the issues are still ongoing. And the High Court had even granted restraining orders against the evictions before many of them happened. But now, it might be a moot point: Residents’ homes, farms, livestock, schools, hospitals, and churches have already been demolished. Apparently no compensation has been provided, either.
“People from New Forests came with other security forces and started destroying crops and demolishing houses and they ordered us to leave. They beat people up, especially those who could not run,” explained 60-year-old grandfather Lokuda Losil, who acquired his 30-acre plot in 1973. “We ran in a group, my children, my grandchildren, my wife and me. It was such a painful time because the eviction was so forceful and violent.”
Now, Losil and his family — eight children and six grandchildren — have nothing. “I have lost what I owned. Where I am now, my kids cry every day. I cannot sustain them and they do not go to school,” he told Oxfam. “Even eating has become a problem.”
The group’s report is filled with similarly tragic testimony from people whose lives were destroyed. And Western newspapers who sent reporters to the area discovered even more brutality.
The New York Times, for example, reported that “villagers described gun-toting soldiers and an 8-year-old child burning to death when his home was set ablaze by security officers.” Other victims told of marauding hordes burning down communities, brutalizing residents, and threatening to shoot anyone who hesitated.
“But in this case, the government and the company said the settlers were illegal and evicted for a good cause: to protect the environment and help fight global warming,” the Times reported.
The company, meanwhile, claimed the climate-driven evictions were done “voluntarily and peacefully.” In an interview with Al Jazeera, New Forests Company Chairman Robert Devereux insisted his company was “extremely socially responsible” while denying the documentation in Oxfam’s report.
“What our responsibility is, is to try and ensure — to the best of our ability — that [the evictions] take place humanely,” he explained. “I believe we did that.”
But the victims see it much differently, unanimously telling investigators horror stories of brutality, shootings, wanton destruction of livelihoods, and more. “The communities Oxfam spoke to describe the evictions as anything but voluntary or peaceful,” the report noted.
Despite downplaying the brutality, the World Bank- and EU-backed company still tried to distance itself from the process used to remove the farmers: “Evictions from government land — which go on in Uganda every day — are solely in the hands of the government and its designated authorities,” New Forests Company officials claimed. “We are expressly prohibited from dialogue and interaction from any illegal encroachers.”
So far, none of the affected villagers has been compensated for the loss of their homes and livelihoods — let alone the abuses, according to reports. New Forests Company claims the Ugandan government prohibits offering compensation to the victims. It remains unclear what, if anything, authorities are doing to provide restitution.
“Today, the people evicted from the land are desperate, having been driven into poverty and landlessness,” Oxfam noted in its report. “They say they were not properly consulted, have been offered no adequate compensation, and have received no alternative land.”
The group’s research estimates the number of victims at around 22,500, although the number could be “substantially higher,” it said. “They had functioning village and government structures, such as local council systems, schools, health centers, churches, permanent homes, and farms on which they grew crops to feed themselves and surpluses to sell at market. They paid taxes. Theirs were strong and thriving permanent communities.”
During government meetings in Uganda about the evictions, at least some high-ranking officials dissented. “These acts against our citizens should stop immediately. Investment is only good if the residents benefit from it,” the Lands Minister said in 2009. “Human beings are more important than trees.”
The chair of one of the affected districts sent a letter to the Ugandan Prime Minister calling for an end to the “brutal and forceful evictions.” But they went ahead anyway — even after the High Court ordered them temporarily halted.
Oxfam is calling on the company and its financial backers — the EU’s European Investment Bank, the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation, and some private investors such as HSBC — to investigate the atrocities and make the findings public. The charity is also demanding not only a transparent process to compensate the victims for their losses and the abuses suffered, but also a reform of policies so that similar abuses do not happen again.
“Oxfam believes that the affected communities in Kiboga and Mubende deserve to have their case heard and to see justice done,” the report concluded. “In Oxfam’s view, NFC and its financial backers must be held to account for the lost livelihoods and shattered lives of families evicted from the land they farmed.”
Following a wave of outrage and damning worldwide publicity, the British company said it would conduct an investigation. It remains unclear whether the UN, the EU, and other supranational bodies will continue to aggressively push “carbon trading” as a means of dealing with discredited theories about the supposed effects of human activity on global warming.
Ironically, the UN had predicted there would be some 50 million “climate refugees” by 2010. Instead, the regions cited by the global body’s Environment Program (UNEP) as being at risk witnessed soaring population levels. The only true climate refugees, it seems, are the poor farmers being kicked off their land to make way for plantations generating “carbon credits.”
The British newspaper, The Guardian, reported on Thursday that Israeli troops recently invaded the village of an-Nabi Saleh, known for being a center of non-violent resistance, and went house-to-house forcing children out of bed in the middle of the night to photograph them.
The Guardian article also details some of the other mistreatment of Palestinian children by the Israeli military, referencing a recent report from Defence for Children International showing that eight recommendations made last year by the organization have not been carried out by the Israeli military and government.
These include detention of children without charge, forced interrogation of children with no lawyer or parent present, the failure to investigate reports of torture by Israeli forces against Palestinian children, the refusal to inform parents that their child has been detained and the holding of criminal proceedings against children in military courts, among others.
In the invasion of Nabi Saleh Wednesday night, residents reported that the soldiers said they plan to make a file of all the children in the village to use to identify any child that may later throw stones at the army.
The village of an-Nabi Saleh, home to around five hundred people, is one of several West Bank villages that hold weekly non-violent protests against the Israeli Annexation Wall that is being built on village land. At each protest, the Israeli army uses lethal and semi-lethal weapons to attack the non-violent demonstrators.
The inhabitants of the village say that they depend on international and Palestinian human rights organization to help document the illegal Israeli practices and violations of human rights by the Israeli military, in order to save their children from these practices.
The Guardian article also quotes a July 2011 report by Israeli human rights group B’Tselem which details the practice of photographing children in the night: “The photos were taken for what the army calls ‘mapping': the army did not have any basis for suspecting any particular minor they awoke to photograph, but they wanted to build a reservoir of pictures they could later use for identification purposes, should the minor be involved in stone-throwing or other violent activity. In response to a report on the issue which was broadcast on Channel 10 News, the army said that ‘it uses a variety of means to maintain order and security’.”
BETHLEHEM — A Palestinian Authority ministry and national research institute released a joint study Thursday which estimates that the Israeli occupation cost the Palestinian economy around $7 billion in 2010.
“Without the occupation, the Palestinian economy would be almost twice as large as it is today,” the PA Ministry of National Economy and the Applied Research Institute of Jerusalem said in a statement.
Losses sustained due to Israel’s occupation are equivalent to 85 percent of Palestinian nominal GDP, the study found.
Without Israel’s control of resources and access to Palestinian territories, the economy “would run a ‘healthy’ fiscal surplus, ending its dependence on donors’ aid,” the report said.
The research quantified, for example, Israel’s ban on Palestinian access to the Jordan River, Dead Sea and groundwater aquifers in the West Bank, as costing Palestinians $1.9 billion in lost agriculture revenues, $1.2 billion in mineral resources and $143 million in Dead Sea tourism.
Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip cost the Palestinian economy $1.9 billion, and restrictions on water another $1.9 billion, the study said.
Israel earns around $900 million per year through control of West Bank mining and quarrying, the research authors estimated, and $150 million from commercial Dead Sea products.
ARIJ and the national economy ministry said they had to under-estimate the figures due to a lack of data, leaving out costs which they could not quantify.
Relating to the issues of trade access and resources, the authors of the study said that the “majority of these costs do not have any relationship with security concerns,” and were motivated by Israel’s wish to restrict the development of a competitive Palestinian economy.
Minister of National Economy in the Ramallah-based government Hasan Abu Libdeh said the report backed findings of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, and demonstrated the case for taking Palestinian statehood to the UN through President Mahmoud Abbas’ membership bid, submitted Friday.
“No matter what the Palestinian people achieve by our own efforts, the occupation prevents us achieving our potential as a free people in our own country,” the minister said.
“It should be clear to the international community that one reason for Israel’s refusal to act in good faith as a partner for peace is the profits it makes as an occupying power.”
The PA will produce regular reports on the costs of Israeli restrictions on the Palestinian economy, the release said.
A senior Iranian commander says enemies of the Islamic Republic have created and supported the terrorist group of the Party for Free Life of Kurdistan (PJAK) against Iran.
Enemies of the Islamic Republic, such as the US, UK and Israel created the PJAK to create insecurity in Iran, and on top of them Washington supports the terrorist group, Deputy Head of the Operations Department of the Iranian Armed Forces Brigadier General Ali Shademani said on Wednesday.
Shademani said that Western countries would throw their support behind the PJAK as long as it fights against Iran, but they would set up a new group or come up with a new scheme once the terrorist group failed to fulfill their objectives, IRNA reported.
Referring to wars waged by the global arrogance in the region, the Iranian commander said the enemies resort to military options whenever they can’t pursue their objectives through economic, political or cultural means.
Members of the PJAK terrorist group — an offshoot of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) — regularly engage in armed clashes with Iranian security forces along the country’s western borders with Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdistan region.
The Ground Forces of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) launched new operations against the Party for Free Life of Kurdistan (PJAK) earlier this month. The new operations came after the terrorist group refused to pull its forces out of Iran’s northwestern areas within a one-month grace period offered to the group by the IRGC.
The numerous operations by the IRGC inflicted heavy casualties on the group and forced its members to leave the country’s soil.
The IRGC deployed its forces on the zero points of the country’s northwestern border after clearing out terrorist groups from the border area.