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The false conventional wisdom about the Iran nuclear talks

By Cyrus Safdari | Iran Affairs | February 27, 2014

I’m seeing a false narrative being constructed by the media around the Iran nuclear talks which, as usual, will become repeated so often that it becomes ‘true’ by virtue of repetition, as is the case usually with most of the conventional wisdom about Iran.

According to this false narrative, Iran was engaged in nuclear “weapons-related” research which was stopped in 2003, mostly, and this was the cause of the confusion all along and the reason why the US thought Iran was making nukes and not negotiating with Iran.

And now Iran has to ‘come clean’ about this past research which misled the US into thinking that Iran had a nuclear weapons program, causing the US to impose sanctions on Iran, which then led to Iran ‘giving in’ to the sanctions and accepting talks whose ‘goal’ is to reduce or eliminate Iran’s nuclear program.

This is of course a PR spin that was invented by someone. It has the benefit of providing a nice little story line in which everyone comes out not a bad guy, and we can all just put it down to a case of miscommunication — like some sort of TV sitcom episode.

But that’s not what happened at all.

The only question is why they’re pushing this spin in the media. An optimist would say that the US side is pushing this narrative in order to portray its eventual agreement with Iran as some sort of victory, and the Iranian side may allow this face-saving move by the US if only to remove sanctions. BUT, i’m not an optimist. I think that just as the entire nuclear issue was always a red herring and distraction, just as ‘WMDs in Iraq’ was always just a pretext for an entirely different policy, I think that the presumption should be that the talks too are just pretextual and a tactic.

But we’ll see.

Anyway, everything in that narrative that the media is trying to cook and feed average Americans is complete baloney, and I could type out a book to debunk it. So just for example about the claim that Iran was involved in ‘nuke-related’ research: When the 2003 NIE came out saying that Iran had stopped its nuclear weapons program in 2003, the IAEA, whilst welcoming that conclusion, also pointed out that they had no evidence of a nuclear weapons program prior to 2003 either and NOTHING has changed since then, except that the IAEA head Elbaradei was replaced by US puppet Amano, who had sworn loyalty to the US and then started trying to give credence to the “Alleged studies” claims by renaming them ‘possible military dimensions’ and then issuing the ‘secret annex’ as part of the IAEA’s 2011 report that the previous IAEA head had dismissed as unverified claims. And to date NONE of the the claims have ever been verified, aside from anonymous claims of additional supporting information which no one has seen.

And that’s just one problem with this narrative. I could go on and on.

The point is, watch out for these false narratives and ‘conventional wisdom’ and don’t just ignore these claims in analysis pieces or reportage that proceed on such assumptions.

Aside from tha,t “nuclear related” research per se does not have to be reported by Iran to the IAEA anyway.

February 27, 2014 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , | Comments Off on The false conventional wisdom about the Iran nuclear talks

UNRWA’s human rights curriculum suffocates Palestinian resistance

By Ramona Wadi | MEMO | February 27, 2014

The curriculum taught to students in schools run by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) has been criticised by Hamas through a statement issued by the Education Ministry, which declared the human rights textbooks provided by UNRWA to be detached from Palestinian reality.

The statement denounced the syllabus distribution prior to proper consultation with the ministry and deemed the dissemination of human rights enshrined within the curriculum an exercise in “brainwashing Palestinian students and convincing them to accept the Zionist enemies”.

Apart from providing narratives which have been assimilated into Western mainstream discourse about human rights, Palestinian historical memory was also obscured by providing an alternative history of the Nakba which absolves Israel of the atrocities committed to establish the settler-colonial state, as well as depicting peaceful resistance “as the only way of achieving freedom and independence”.

According to the Times of Israel, UNRWA spokesperson Chris Gunness insisted that “UNRWA’s education system takes, as its basis, the curriculum taught by the PA. We have done our utmost in developing these materials to be sensitive to local values while also being true to the values that underpin the work of the United Nations.”

However, the issue is of greater complexity than the obvious disagreement about the legitimacy of armed struggle endorsed by Hamas and the peaceful resistance which UN-affiliated entities continue to uphold as sustainable.

It is important to evaluate the alleged universal values of human rights, the probable complicity between UNRWA and the PA as entities affiliated to the imperialist narrative and the inherent selective application with regard to human rights within the imperialist concept of what constitutes humanity.

The “universal” declaration of human rights is a fabricated substitute for freedom providing a backdrop for the constant and premeditated violations. Within this framework there exists oppression and selective application of human rights, decided by the imperialist collective that is also responsible for restraining the legitimacy of the armed struggle in return for a set of competently quoted and intentionally compromised rules.

By relying upon vague terms such as universal qualities and the concept of human rights, the UN is ensuring the depletion of history and memory as a means of preventing nations from asserting their liberation, thus consolidating the subjugation upon which imperialism is dependent.

Extending the imperialist interpretation of human rights to Palestinians remains a conspiracy through which to sabotage armed resistance and the insistence upon the dismantling of the Zionist state, which Hamas has repeatedly insisted upon.

The manipulation of Palestinian history by UNRWA in agreement with the PA, which has repeatedly exhibited its allegiances with oppressive institutions and the settler-colonial state, is an exercise in erasing memories to increase agreement with the dominant narrative.

While resistance is a natural phenomenon against oppression, discourse pertaining to human rights is just a convenient intervention to stifle the reclamation of freedom, perfectly compatible with the alleged values imparted by the UN.

Implementing the compromised education curriculum would limit the possibility of an organised and legitimate armed struggle against the settler-colonial state, as well as indoctrinate Palestinian students against their rights to assert their own historical legitimacy

February 27, 2014 Posted by | Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , , | Comments Off on UNRWA’s human rights curriculum suffocates Palestinian resistance

Israeli forces kill Palestinian man during Birzeit arrest raid

Ma’an – 27/02/2014

267709RAMALLAH – Israeli forces killed a Palestinian man on Thursday after opening fire on a property in Birzeit, locals said.

Muatazz Washaha, 24, was found dead inside the house following a stand-off between Israeli military forces which lasted several hours.

Witnesses said that the victim was hit in the head by a rifle-fired Energa shell.

Israeli forces were reportedly trying to arrest Muatazz for being an activist with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

During the dawn raid, Israeli forces stormed the house and detained his brother, Ramiz, and two other men. Earlier reports suggested Israeli forces were targeting another brother, Thaer.

Palestinian firefighters rushed to the scene after the house caught on fire as a result of Israeli artillery shelling.

Palestinian Authority Minister of Detainees, Issa Qaraqe, said Israeli troops raided Birzeit at around 3 a.m.

An Israeli army spokeswoman said that Israeli forces raided Birzeit to arrest a man suspected of “terror activity.”

“After the suspect was called to turn himself in, he barricaded himself inside his house, effectively resisting arrest. Under the premise that he had weapons in his possession, the forces used different means to complete the arrest, including live fire.”

An AK47 assault rifle was found in the house, but no shots were fired at any point towards Israeli forces.

February 27, 2014 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , , | Comments Off on Israeli forces kill Palestinian man during Birzeit arrest raid

Kerry proposes Beit Hanina as future capital of Palestine

MEMO | February 27, 2014

US Secretary of State John Kerry is proposing for the Palestinians to establish the capital of a future Palestinian state in Beit Hanina instead of all of occupied East Jerusalem, which Israel captured in the 1967 war, Palestinian Al-Quds newspaper reported on Wednesday.

Beit Hanina is located to the north of the old city, on the road to Ramallah.

According to the newspaper, Kerry’s proposal for the Palestinian capital to be located in only a small part of East Jerusalem, along with his other suggestions, enraged Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who left his meeting with Kerry last week furious, threatening to torpedo the framework agreement. Kerry is said to have adopted the Israeli positions completely, including demanding that the Palestinians recognise Israel as a Jewish state and retain the ten Israeli settlement blocs in the West Bank as part of a land swap. Kerry also hinted that the Jordan Valley will not be part of a future Palestinian state and refused having any international presence in the Palestinian territories when Israel pulls out.

Meanwhile, the New York Times reported that US President Barack Obama has decided to intervene in the talks and “pressure both sides” to reach a framework agreement within the set deadline. Obama is meeting with Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House on Monday and has invited Abbas to visit Washington next month.

Regarding the possibility of extending the negotiations between the Palestinians and Israel after the April deadline, Kerry told reporters that the parties took seven months to reach an understanding on their positions and he did not believe that anyone would feel concerned if it took another nine months to reach a final agreement. “I very much hope we should be able to make both parties take what is necessary to enter the most important stage, that is the final stage. To negotiate the final status based on a clear and specific framework.”

February 27, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Progressive Hypocrite, War Crimes | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Fukushima Dangerously Contaminated the USS Reagan

Documents Say Navy Knew

By Harvey Wasserman | CounterPunch | February 27, 2014

A stunning new report indicates the U.S. Navy knew that sailors from the nuclear-powered USS Ronald Reagan took major radiation hits from the Fukushima atomic power plant after its meltdowns and explosions nearly three years ago.

If true, the revelations cast new light on the $1 billion lawsuit filed by the sailors against Tokyo Electric Power.  Many of the sailors are already suffering devastating health impacts, but are being stonewalled by Tepco and the Navy.

The Reagan had joined several other U.S. ships in Operation Tomodachi (“Friendship”) to aid victims of the March 11, 2011 quake and tsunami. Photographic evidence and first-person testimony confirms that on March 12, 2011 the ship was within two miles of Fukushima Dai’ichi as the reactors there began to melt and explode.

In the midst of a snow storm, deck hands were enveloped in a warm cloud that came with a metallic taste. Sailors testify that the Reagan’s 5,500-member crew was told over the ship’s intercom to avoid drinking or bathing in desalinized water drawn from a radioactive sea. The huge carrier quickly ceased its humanitarian efforts and sailed 100 miles out to sea, where newly published internal Navy communications confirm it was still taking serious doses of radioactive fallout.

Scores of sailors from the Reagan and other ships stationed nearby now report a wide range of ailments reminiscent of those documented downwind from atomic bomb tests in the Pacific and Nevada, and at Three Mile Island and Chernobyl. A similar metallic taste was described by pilots who dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, and by central Pennsylvanians downwind of Three Mile Island. Some parts of the atolls downwind from the South Pacific bomb tests remain uninhabitable six decades later.

Among the 81 plaintiffs in the federal class action are a sailor who was pregnant during the mission, and her “Baby A.G.,” born that October with multiple genetic mutations.

Officially, Tepco and the Navy say the dose levels were safe.

But a stunning new report by an American scholar based in Tokyo confirms that Naval officers communicated about what they knew to be the serious irradiation of the Reagan. Written by Kyle Cunningham and published in Japan Focus, “Mobilizing Nuclear Bias” describes the interplay between the U.S. and Japanese governments as Fukushima devolved into disaster.

Cunningham writes that transcribed conversations obtained through the Freedom of Information Act feature naval officials who acknowledge that even while 100 miles away from Fukushima, the Reagan’s readings “compared to just normal background [are] about 30 times what you would detect just on a normal air sample out to sea.”

On the nuclear-powered carrier “all of our continuous monitors alarmed at the same level, at this value. And then we took portable air samples on the flight deck and got the same value,” the transcript says.

Serious fallout was also apparently found on helicopters coming back from relief missions. One unnamed U.S. government expert is quoted in the Japan Focus article as saying:

At 100 meters away it (the helicopter) was reading 4 sieverts per hour. That is an astronomical number and it told me, what that number means to me, a trained person, is there is no water on the reactor cores and they are just melting down, there is nothing containing the release of radioactivity. It is an unmitigated, unshielded number. (Confidential communication, Sept. 17, 2012).

The transcript then contains discussion of health impacts that could come within a matter of “10 hours. It’s a thyroid issue.”

Tepco and the Navy contend the Reagan did not receive a high enough dose to warrant serious concern. But Japan, South Korea and Guam deemed the carrier too radioactive to enter their ports. Stock photographs show sailors working en masse to scrub the ship down.

The $4.3 billion boat is now docked in San Diego. Critics question whether it belongs there at all. Attempts to decontaminate U.S. ships irradiated during the Pacific nuclear bombs tests from 1946-1963 proved fruitless. Hundreds of sailors were exposed to heavy doses of radiation, but some ships had to be sunk anyway.

Leaks at the Fukushima site continue to worsen. Despite its denials, Tepco recently admitted it had underestimated certain radiation releases by a factor of 500 percent. A new report indicates that particles of radioactive Cesium 134 from Fukushima have been detected in the ocean off the west coast of North America.

Global concerns continue to rise about Fukushima’s on-going crises with liquid leaks, the troubled removal of radioactive fuel rods, the search for three missing melted cores, organized crime influence at the site and much more. The flow of information has been seriously darkened by the pro-nuclear Abe Administration’s State Secrets Act, which imposes major penalties on those who might report what happens at Fukushima.

But if this new evidence holds true, it means that the Navy knew the Ronald Reagan was being plastered with serious radioactive fallout and it casts the accident in a light even more sinister than previously believed.

The stricken sailors are barred from suing the Navy, and their case against Tepco will depend on a series of complex international challenges.

But one thing is certain: neither they nor the global community have been getting anything near the full truth about Fukushima.

February 27, 2014 Posted by | Deception, Nuclear Power, Timeless or most popular | Comments Off on Fukushima Dangerously Contaminated the USS Reagan

The Efficacy of Combative Resistance

By Stuart Jeanne Bramhall | Dissident Voice | February 26, 2014 

You occasionally read a totally mind bending book that opens up a whole new world for you. The Failure of Nonviolence  by Peter Gelderloos is one of them, owing to its unique evidence-based perspective on both “nonviolent” and “violent” resistance. It differs from Gelderloos’s 2007 How Nonviolence Protects the State in its heavy emphasis on indigenous, minority, and working class resistance. A major feature of the new book is an extensive catalog of “combative” rebellions that the corporate elite has whitewashed out of history.

Owing to wide disagreement as to its meaning, Gelderloos discards the term “violent” in describing actions that involve rioting, sabotage, property damage or self-defense against armed police or military. In comparing and contrasting a list of recent protest actions, he makes a convincing case that combative tactics are far more effective in achieving concrete gains that improve ordinary peoples’ lives. He also explodes the myth that “violent” resistance discourages oppressed people from participating in protest activity. He gives numerous examples showing that working people are far more likely to be drawn into combative actions – mainly because of their effectiveness. The only people alienated by combative tactics are educated liberals, many of whom are “career” activists working for foundation-funded nonprofits.

Gelderloos also highlights countries (e.g., Greece and Spain) which have significantly slowed the advance of neoliberal capitalism via combative resistance. In his view, this explains the negative fiscal position of the Greek and Spanish capitalist class in addressing the global debt crisis. Strong worker resistance to punitive labor reforms and austerity cuts has significantly slowed the transfer of wealth to their corporate elite, as well as the roll-out of fascist security measures.

The Gene Sharp Brand of Nonviolence

Gelderloos begins by defining the term “nonviolent” as the formulaic approach laid out by nonviolent guru Gene Sharp in his 1994 From Dictatorship to Democracy and used extensively in the “color revolutions” in Eastern Europe and elsewhere. This approach focuses exclusively on political, usually electoral, reform. Gelderloos distinguishes between political revolution, which merely overturns the current political infrastructure and replaces it with a new one – and social revolution, which overturns hierarchical political infrastructure and replaces it with a system in which people self-organize and govern themselves.

The nonviolent approach Sharp and his followers prescribe relies heavily on a corporate media strategy to promote their protest activity to large numbers of people. This obviously requires some elite support, as the corporate media consistently ignores genuine anti-corporate protests. As an example, all the nonviolent color revolutions in Eastern Europe enjoyed major support from the State Department, billionaire George Soros and CIA-funded foundations such as the National Endowment for Democracy and the National Republican Institute.

Is Nonviolence Effective?

Gelderloos sets out four criteria to assess the effectiveness of a protest action:

  1. It must seize space for activists to self-organize essential aspects of their lives.
  2. It must spread new ideas that inspire others to resist state power and control.
  3. It must operate independently of elite support.
  4. It must make concrete improvements to the lives of ordinary people.

As examples of strictly nonviolent protest movements, Gelderloos offers the “color” revolutions (see * below), the millions-strong global anti-Iraq war protest on February 15, 2003 and 2011 Occupy protests, which were almost exclusively nonviolent (Occupy Oakland being a notable exception).

In all the color revolutions Gelderloos describes, the goal has been strictly limited to replacing dictatorship with democracy and free elections. None attempted to increase economic democracy nor to reduce oppressive work and living conditions. In fact, most of the color revolutions forced their populations to give up important protections to integrate more thoroughly into the cutthroat capitalist economy.

So-called “democracies” such as the US are just as capable as dictatorships of engaging in extrajudicial assassination, torture, and suspension of habeas corpus and other legal protections. However US corporations generally find “democracies” more investment-friendly. Owing to greater transparency, they are less likely to nationalize private industries or arbitrarily change the rules for doing business.

Besides failing to meet any of his criteria, the 2003 anti-Iraq war movement failed to stop the US invasion of Iraq and the 2011 Occupy protests failed to achieve a single lasting gain.

Successful “Combative” Protests

He contrasts these strictly nonviolent  protests with nearly 20 popular uprisings (see ** below) and two (successful) US prison riots that have incorporated “combative” tactics along with other organizing strategies. Most have been totally censored from the corporate media and history books or whitewashed as so-called “nonviolent” actions (e.g., the corporate media misportrayed both the 1989 Tiananmen Square rebellion and the 2011 Egyptian revolution as nonviolent protests).

The US, more than any other country, uses prison to suppress working class dissent. Most prison struggles employ a diversity of tactics combining work stoppages and legal appeals with property damage, riots and attacks on guards. Nonviolent protest tends to be particularly ineffective in the prison setting. A nonviolent hunger strike usually reflects a situation in which prisoners have so little personal control that the only way to resist is to refuse to eat.

Gelderloos also analyzes a number of historical combative uprisings, pointing out their relative strengths and weaknesses. He devotes particular attention to the Spanish Civil War (a failed working class revolution), the anti-Nazi partisan movements during World War II, combative Indigenous peoples resistance to European colonizers and autonomous liberated zones created in Ukraine, Kronstadt, and Siberia following the Bolshevik Revolution and in the Skinmin Province of Manchuria in pre-World War II China.

Who Are the Pacifists?

He devotes an entire chapter to the major funders and luminaries of the nonviolent movement. Predictably most of the funding comes from George Soros, the Pentagon, the State Department and CIA-funded foundations such as USAID, NED, and NIR. Among other examples, Gelderloos describes the Pentagon running a multi-million dollar campaign to plant stories in Iraqi newspapers to promote “nonviolent” resistance to US occupation.

*Examples of political/regime change color revolutions:

  • Philippines – Yellow Revolution 1983-86
  • Serbia – Bulldozer Revolution 2000
  • Georgia – Rose Revolution 2003
  • Ukraine – Orange Revolution 2004
  • Kyrgyzstan – Tulip Revolution 2005
  • Lebanon – Cedar Revolution 2005
  • Kuwait – Blue Revolution 2005
  • Burma – Saffron Revolution 2007

**Examples of combative uprisings (despite being a partial list, it effectively illustrates the extent to which combative resistance is censored out of the mainstream media and history):

  • 1999 Battle of Seattle – contrary to media whitewashing (I was there), the combative component wasn’t a matter of a few Black Bloc anarchists breaking windows. Numerous “peaceful” marchers joined in destruction of corporate storefronts, looting and throwing rocks at police. Inspired 3rd world WTO delegates to shut down Doha round of WTO negotiations.
  • 1990 Oka Crisis (near Montreal) – in which Mohawk warriors took up arms to stop a golf course expansion on their lands. Successful in defeating the golf course expansion.
  • 1994 Zapitista (Mexico) – armed uprising against NAFTA. Successfully seized space, liberating numerous villages which continue to be run by popular assemblies.
  • 2000 2nd Palestinian Intifada – successful in seizing and defending space, defeating the CIA/Israeli army invasion of Gaza in 2009. Inspired combative insurrections in Tunisia and Egypt.
  • 2001 Kabbylie Black Spring armed protest to liberate Berber territory occupied by Algeria. Successfully seized space to bring back traditional assemblies and reverse erosion of Berber culture. Won increased autonomy of Kabylie, including official recognition of Berber language.
  • 2003-2005 Bolivia Water and Gas Wars against strict water privatization implemented by Bolivian government and Bechtel. Successful in ending years of Bolivian dictatorship, slowing advance of neoliberalism and restoring indigenous autonomy. Received no elite support until 2005 union and political party support elected the movement into government, putting neoliberalism back on track.
  • 2006 Oaxaca (Mexico) Rebellion – coalition of indigenous people, teachers and workers fought police and military and ran Oaxaca by popular assembly for one month. No elite support until assembly taken over by politicians who convinced them not to fight back against the military. Greatly improved quality of life while it lasted.
  • 2006 CPE France – combative (rioting, burning cars, fighting police and occupying public buildings) uprising against new legislation allowing bosses to fire younger workers without cause. Defeated new law.
  • 2008 Athens insurrection – millions-strong armed uprising (consisting of arson attacks on banks and police stations, occupation of vacant lots and buildings to create community gardens, community centers and popular assemblies) triggered by police murder of a teenager. Besides destroying debt and tax records and providing brief period of self-governance, it inspired new cycle of anarchist activity throughout Greece.
  • 2009 Guadalupe General Strike – inspired by poor living standards, especially high cost of living combined with low wages and high unemployment. After three days of rioting, setting fire to cars and businesses and opening fire on the police, demonstrators won an increase of $200 euros per month in the lowest salaries and 19 other demands.
  • 2009 Oscar Grant riots (Oakland) – prompted by police murder of an African American named Oscar Grant. Spontaneous rioting, property damage, looting and shooting back at police. Resulted in first case in California history in which an on-duty police officer was charged with murder. Influenced Occupy Oakland to adopt a diversity of tactics that included combative resistance.
  • 2010 Tunisian revolution – contrary to corporate media white washing, this was a violent uprising in which protestors burned tires and attacked the office of the ruling party. It failed to create any new self-organized spaces. It only received elite support, which pressured Tunisians to accept a purely political solution (i.e. regime change), when local authorities failed to quell popular unrest. Economic tyranny and police abuse/violence remain unaddressed.
  • 2010 15 M Movement and General Strikes (Spain) – millions took part in general strike against austerity measures incorporating sabotage of the transportation infrastructure, blockades, looting, rioting and fighting with police. Established numerous police-free zones (which persisted for months) throughout Spain run by popular assemblies. Occupied numerous hospitals and primary care centers and established urban gardens and collective housing facilities. Prevented privatization of numerous health clinics and inspired anti-capitalist focus of Occupy movement.
  • 2011 Egyptian revolution – combative rebellion (contrary to corporate media claims that it was nonviolent). Protesters burned over 90 police stations and used clubs, rocks and Molotov cocktails to defend themselves against police and government thugs. Set up self-governing assemblies in Tahrir Square and inspired a large number of activists to remain in the streets to fight the repressive Islamic government that replaced Mubarak.
  • 2011 Libyan Civil War – began as spontaneous uprising but quickly transformed into a foreign military intervention. Gelderloos uses Libya to demonstrate why revolutions that wish to end oppressive social relations must never allow military or political revolution to assume precedence.
  • 2012 Quebec student movement – rioting, looting, property damage and fighting back against the police prompted by massive tuition hike. Provided thousands of young people direct experience of self-governing assemblies and successfully spread critiques of debt, austerity and capitalism throughout Canada. Forced government to reverse tuition hike.
  • 2013 Mapuche (indigenous nation occupied by Chile and Argentina) struggle – long history of combative resistance continues to present day. Employs both nonviolent and combative methods, including arson, sabotage against mining and logging companies and armed land occupations. In January 2013 (5th anniversary of unprosecuted police murder of Mapuche teenager) they liberated large tracts of land.

Email Dr. Stuart Bramhall at: stuartbramhall@yahoo.co.nz

February 27, 2014 Posted by | Book Review, Solidarity and Activism, Timeless or most popular | Comments Off on The Efficacy of Combative Resistance

Crimea parliament announces referendum on Ukrainian region’s future

RT | February 27, 2014

The parliament of Ukraine’s Autonomous Republic of Crimea has announced it will hold a referendum to determine the region’s future amid the turmoil in the country.

The region’s parliament said the all-Crimean referendum is about “improving the status of autonomy and expanding its powers.”

“According to the underlying principles of democracy, the presidium of the Crimean parliament considers that the only possible way out of the situation on the ground is applying the principles of direct rule of the people. We are confident that only by holding an All-Crimean referendum on the issue of improving the status of the Autonomy and expanding its powers Crimeans will be able to determine the future of the Autonomy on their own and without any external pressure,” Oksana Korniychuk, the press secretary of the head of the parliament, said in a statement on Thursday.

As a result of “the unconstitutional seizure of power in Ukraine by radical nationalists supported by armed gangs,” Crimea’s peace and order is “under threat,” the spokeswoman stressed.

The Wednesday clashes near the parliament’s building in Simferopol, which led to two deaths and about 30 injuries is “a result of rampant political extremism and violence gripping the country,” which could bring Ukraine to “complete chaos, anarchy and economic catastrophe,” Korniychuk said.

The Autonomy’s parliament thus takes “full responsibility for the future of Crimea,” relying on the will of its people, she said.

Korniychuk spoke hours after an unknown group of people barricaded themselves inside the building of the Crimean parliament and installed Russian flags there. The group, however, allowed MPs inside, including the speaker of the parliament, Vladimir Konstantinov. The MPs then held their session as planned.

Hundreds of protesters gathered near the building on Thursday, demanding a referendum on the status of Crimea be held. They held banners reading “Crimea for peace!” and “Crimea for a referendum!”

The demonstration came a day after two rivaling rallies of ethnic Russians and ethnic Crimean Tatars clashed near the parliament. While the pro-Russian rally demanded the parliament dismiss the new Ukrainian government as “illegitimate,” the Tatars spoke out against a split. Some of the demonstrators openly demanded Crimea be returned to Russia, from which it was separated in 1954, while others shouted “Crimea is Ukraine!”

February 27, 2014 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , | Comments Off on Crimea parliament announces referendum on Ukrainian region’s future