Gun attack on Turkish editor outside court during his trial for exposing Turkey-Syria weapons convoy
An assailant has tried to shoot the editor-in-chief of Turkey’s Cumhuriyet newspaper Can Dündar , before the court was to announce the verdict on his case, Reuters reported, citing witnesses. The paper had published reports implicating the Turkish government in having links with extremists.
An assailant has tried to shoot the editor-in-chief of Turkey’s Cumhuriyet newspaper Can Dündar , before the court was to announce the verdict on his case, Reuters reported, citing witnesses. The paper had published reports implicating the Turkish government in having links with extremists.
The gunman shouted “traitor” before firing at least three shots at the journalist, an eyewitness told Reuters, adding that Dündar, who was unarmed, was not injured in the incident.
Reportedly at least one journalist who was covering Dündar’s trial was injured, however.
Dündar, 54, and his colleague, chief of Ankara bureau of Cumhuriyet, Erdem Gul, 49, stand accused of trying to topple the government, something they allegedly attempted to do in May 2015 by publishing a video purporting to reveal truckloads of arms shipments to Syria overseen by Turkish intelligence.
The Cumhuriyet report in May 2015 claimed that Turkey’s state intelligence agency was helping to transfer weapons to Syria by trucks.
Both Dündar and Erdem spent 92 days in jail, almost half of that time in solitary confinement, before the Constitutional Court ruled in February that their pre-trial detention was a violation of their rights.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan repeatedly stated that the trucks really belonged to the MIT intelligence agency, but were carrying aid to Turkmens in Syria, who are fighting both Assad’s forces and Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL).
The journalists remain under judicial supervision and are banned from leaving the country, according to the state-run Anatolia news agency.
Their detention fuelled criticism from international human rights groups, as well as from the EU. US Vice President Joe Biden said that Turkey was setting a poor example for the region by intimidating the media.
The journalists’ arrests and trial prompted numerous protests across Turkey.
The Labour Party may not have an issue with anti Semitism but they certainly have a serious issue with Black people and their history
Leading Black activist Jacqueline Walker of Thanet Momentum, is now suspended from the Labour party for comments about the primacy of Black suffering.
Ms Walker responded on Facebook to a question about the Holocaust by contrasting the Jewish holocaust to the “African holocaust.”
The mere mention of any other holocaust is a flagrant violation of the law against questioning the primacy of Jewish suffering. The Labour of Judea cannot tolerate such behaviour.
Walker wrote: “As I’m sure you know, millions more Africans were killed in the African holocaust and their oppression continues today on a global scale in a way it doesn’t for Jews.”
Walker wrote, “the chief victims of those failures however are not people of Jewish descent, but are the many other representatives of other minorities under-represented in the structures of the LP and discriminated against inside and outside the LP economically, culturally and politically in contemporary Britain.”
The Labour Party has a serious problem with the truth. Anyone who dares to describe the world as it is is immediately ousted by the Jewish Labour thought police (LFI, John Mann MP and others).
First Labour showed itself dismissive of the working class, now we know it is also not interested in racial equality. The Party is bewitched by shekels and this kind of interest does not come cheap.
To read more: In the last decade the French left together with the Jewish lobby has been harassing the genius French black comedian Dieudonné. Here is my take on The Meaning Of Dieudonné: http://www.gilad.co.uk/writings/the-meaning-of-dieudonne.html
The Turkish government is shutting down Zaman newspaper, previously a strong critic of President Erdogan, which it seized control of in March. A number of other media outlets are also being closed by Ankara, according to CNN Turk.
Zaman was taken over by Ankara in early March. Following the seizure, the government immediately appointed new trustees for Feza Media Group, which owned the paper.
Police also raided the newspaper’s offices to enforce a Turkish court order stating that the media outlet must be brought under government authority. The newspaper’s editor-in-chief, Abdulhamit Bilici, was fired soon after.
Once the state took over, the newspaper soon turned into a government mouthpiece. The first edition under the new ownership featured the image of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Critics slammed the government for the move, with Zaman supporters taking to the streets of Istanbul in protest. Police deployed tear gas, water cannon, and rubber bullets on the demonstrators.
Along with Zaman, a number of other Feza Media Group outlets will be shut down, including Cihan News Agency. Küre.tv will also be closed.
Erdogan has been fiercely criticized for his crackdown on press freedom in recent months, including the pre-trial detention of two journalists who published a report which purportedly showed intelligence officials transporting arms to Syria.
In late April, Turkey barred foreign journalists from entering the country, without providing any explanation for the move.
News of the shutdown of the media publications comes as Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu effectively resigned following a rift with Erdogan, whose leadership has become increasingly authoritarian.
The New York Times had a piece Tuesday on how security lines at airports are getting longer—in many cases, dramatically so, with waits of several hours at some times and airports. For example, the Times reported,
Ben Cheever, a support engineer for a cybersecurity firm, recently missed a flight in Seattle despite getting to the airport two hours ahead of his 6 p.m. departure to San Diego. Two lines spilled into the airport lobby, he said. A third was reserved for passengers who had signed up to a trusted traveler program called T.S.A. PreCheck that allowed them speedier access.
A lot of people love PreCheck. People not only like speedier lines, but it also plays to the natural human tendency to appreciate special treatment. But as I have noted before, there are serious questions about where this background-check program is headed. What is now a whitelist for a select few may turn into the normal manner of travel, subjecting virtually every passenger to increasingly intrusive database checks, excluding only an unfortunate few who become effectively blacklisted. As I observed last year,
by manipulating the system and the lines, the TSA can push more and more people to seek refuge from poor treatment within a government background check program that demands an ever-increasing amount of information about our lives.
What does the TSA say is the solution to longer security lines? According to the Times,
Both the airlines and the T.S.A. said that one way to alleviate the longer wait is to sign up for PreCheck, which allows eligible passengers to go through the speedier lanes without having to take off their shoes and belts or remove laptops and other electronic devices from their bags.
Is the TSA intentionally making everybody stand in long lines in order to pressure passengers into “voluntarily” submitting to (and paying for) background checks? I don’t believe that 3-hour waits are part of an intentional PreCheck-boosting plot, and the agency has incentives to avoid political backlash as angry travelers call their members of Congress. The Times cites a shortage of TSA screeners, budget cuts, and a growing number of passengers as the explanation for the longer waits. Nevertheless, when conditions are bad it’s a natural question to ask. The agency has a stated goal of moving as many Americans as possible into PreCheck, and will no doubt make use of the current situation to increase pressure on people to do so, as we saw officials doing in their comments to the Times. The structural logic of the situation gives the TSA an incentive to make life difficult for those who resist joining their background check program. It’s a parallel to the airlines’ incentive to make seats as uncomfortable as possible for those lowly passengers who hold out paying fees for “upgrades.” As Tim Wu put it, “in order for fees to work, there needs be something worth paying to avoid.”
Governor Bolaños Lasso (Photo credit Diaro del Cauca)
An army sergeant and a corporal have been arrested for the murder of Indigenous governor Bolaños Lasso in southwest Colombia, local media reported Tuesday.
The Prosecutor General’s Office confirmed the arrest of the two low-ranking army commanders who are part of the Jose Hilario Lopez battalion, of the Army’s 3rd Division, and said the pair are under investigation for the murder of Lasso.
Lasso was killed from gunfire on a road leading from Puracé, an Indigenous community in the Cauca Department, to the province’s capital of Popayán, on Oct. 19, 2015, according to the army.
“While the troops of the battalion Jose Hilario Lopez moved to the village of Santa Leticia, in Purace, where they prepared to take a position to provide security for election day October 25, they heard several shots,” representatives of the 29 Army Brigade said in an statement.
Commenting on the death last year, Colombia’s Indigenous Regional Council of Cauca (CRIC) said that Bolaños had “no known type of problem” that may have provoked his assassination.
No motive for the murder has been established as yet by authorities. The two soldiers will go on trial before the Third Municipal Criminal Court Guarantee Control charged with the murder of protected persons.
Murders and mistreatment of Indigenous Colombians is a regular occurrence in the Cauca region. As teleSUR reported in November, the Colombian army killed one campesino and wounded five others after it raided a rural area in what military officials say was an effort to “manually eradicate” illegal coca crops.
The slaughter stoked ire among many human rights activists including former Colombian Senator Piedad Cordoba who, in the aftermath, said the army needs to “sit down” with other organizations and social movements and “agree on another way of doing things.”
It’s not often that government officials admit to failure in the face of popular resistance. When they do, it’s an occasion for celebration.
Draft registration was reinstated in 1980, supposedly to prepare for possible deployment of US troops in Afghanistan on the side of the Islamic fundamentalist warlords and “mujahideen” who were then fighting against the USSR. The US government put me in prison for refusing to agree to fight on the side of the people who would later become the Taliban and Al Qaeda! It’s no wonder that people of my generation, or later generations, have no faith in the ability of the US government to decide for us in which wars, or on which (if any) side, we should fight.
Today in U.S. News & World Report, Steven Nelson has the most significant piece of reporting about draft registration and the Selective Service System in decades, asking questions that journalists, politicians, and the public should have been asking years ago.
It’s been obvious — to anyone who wanted to look — that resistance forced the government to abandon the attempt to enforce draft registration in failure in the 1980s, after show trials of a handful of the “most vocal” nonregistrants. But this is the first time that responsible Selective Service officials and former officials have confirmed this on the record.
The article is worth reading in full, but I’ve posted some key excerpts below, followed by my analysis and comments:
Gender-Neutral Draft Registration Would Create Millions of Female Felons
by Steven Nelson, U.S. News & World Report, May 3, 2016
A key congressional committee voted last week to require young women to register for potentially compulsory military service, but the gender-equalizing reform threatens to make felons out of women who refused to participate.
Though prosecutions currently appear unlikely, men jailed for not registering with the Selective Service System and some former authorities who participated in the cases are concerned about criminalizing a large swath of the population.
“It will inevitably lead to massive resistance, whether visible in the streets or women just blowing it off the way men have,” says Edward Hasbrouck, prosecuted for not registering in the 1980s. “Congress is smoking crack if they think women can be forced to register.”
Hasbrouck served more than four months in prison after catching the eye of an ambitious federal prosecutor, Robert Mueller, who went on to be FBI director. He originally received a suspended sentence, but recalls an unamused judge sending him to prison in late 1984 [actually 1983] for doing peace activism to satisfy court-ordered community service….
The government was “faced with far more people who had initially refused to register in the start-up period than they had ever imagined — it was beyond their worst nightmare. They were self-deluded in the way people today who think they can just wave their wand and women will sign up for the draft are self-deluded,” Hasbrouck says….
In all, 20 men were prosecuted in the 1980s for not registering, a diverse and geographically scattered group including ideological advocates of individual rights and members of the historical peace churches.
The last indictment came in 1986 when Terry Kuelper of Arkansas was slapped with the felony charge. He agreed to register before trial and the charge was dismissed. Court proceedings ended when Gillam Kerley of Wisconsin was released from a three-year prison sentence after four months, with the case ending in 1988….
Former Selective Service associate director Edward Frankle … developed a process for … enforcement of the registration law…. “We did what we had to to keep at least some level of credibility in the system,” he says. “You couldn’t just totally ignore it — how could you do that and still with a straight face say, ‘Yeah that’s the requirement’?”
In the late ’80s the Justice Department discontinued prosecutions. Dick Flahavan, a spokesman for the Selective Service who was with the agency at the time, recalls the Justice Department “decided that since there was no draft … there are limited resources and the FBI’s time would be better spent chasing white collar crime than some Mennonite kid through Pennsylvania.”
“We said, ‘Fine, we understand,’ and that’s why it ended in ’88,” he says. “The agency did agree to what the Justice Department proposed, a suspension of prosecutions [during peace time]. Since they did the prosecutions we didn’t have much leverage anyways.”…
Flahavan says the Selective Service had hoped for a much stronger approach from federal prosecutors, but was rebuffed.
“What we would have preferred was every year in all 95 judicial districts there be a prosecution to keep the heat on and the publicity going,” he says. “But they couldn’t sustain that.”
If someone registered just before trial, the prosecution would be dropped, Flahavan notes, making the pursuit of resisters “really a losing proposition for the feds” and often “a big waste of time.”
Wilfred Ebel, acting director of the Selective Service System in 1987, when further waves of prosecutions were being considered, says he can’t recall the precise discussions that led to abandonment of new cases. Former Attorneys General Ed Meese, who left the department in 1988, and successor Dick Thornburgh did not respond to requests for comment, nor did Mueller….
Though hard numbers are elusive, Hasbrouck says with confidence “compliance with the address update requirement is and has been since 1980 essentially zero.”
A central insight of both Gandhian and anarchist political theory is that governments have power only to the extent that people are willing to carry out or comply with their orders. But few of the people pontificating lately about whether extending draft registration to women is “desirable” (from one or another perspective) have stopped to ask whether it is possible. So far as I know, no historian or scholar has made a study of draft registration since 1980. (If I’ve missed something, please send me a link or citation, or post it in the comments.) There’s been no GAO audit of the accuracy of the Selective Service database of registrants and their current addresses since 1982.
Despite the refusal of the Justice Department to prosecute nonregistrants, the Selective Service System continues to refer names of possible nonregistrants identified by automated data-matching to the Justice Department “for possible prosecution”. According to the latest Selective Service System Annual Report to Congress for Fiscal Year 2015 (page 16), “If a man fails to register or fails to provide evidence that he is exempt from the registration requirement after receiving Selective Service reminder and/or compliance mailing, his name is referred to the Department of Justice (DOJ) for possible investigation and prosecution for his failure to register… During FY 2015, 146,997 names and addresses of suspected violators were provided to the DOJ.” None of these nonregistrants were investigated or prosecuted, nor have any of the other millions of suspected draft registration resisters whose names have been referred by the SSS to the DOJ in the last thirty years.
If resistance rendered draft registration of men unenforceable, why would anyone think that young women will be more willing to sign up to kill or be killed on command than young men have been?
Resistance to any attempt to extend draft registration to women is inevitable, but people tend to (wrongly) discount the practical or political significance of silent resistance, despite its effectiveness. That’s a major reason why the ongoing resistance to draft registration by young men has been so little noticed or understood.
Much of the active political life of subordinate groups has been ignored because it takes place at a level we rarely recognize as political. To emphasize the enormity of what has been, by and large, disregarded, I want to distinguish between the open, declared forms of resistance, which attract most attention, and the disguised, low-profile undeclared resistance….
For many of the least privileged minorities and marginalized poor, open political action will hardly capture the bulk of political action…. The luxury of relatively safe, open political opposition is rare… So long as we confine our conception of the political to activity that is openly declared we are driven to conclude that subordinate groups essentially lack a political life…. To do so is to miss the immense terrain that lies between quiescence and [open] revolt and that, for better or worse, is the political environment of subject classes….
Each of the forms of disguised resistance… is the silent partner of a loud form of public resistance.
And Scott said this in Two Cheers for Anarchism (Princeton University Press, 2012, Chapter 1):
Desertion is quite different from an open mutiny that directly challenges military commanders. It makes no public claims, it issues no manifestos, it is exit rather than voice. And yet, once the extent of desertion becomes known, it constrains the ambitions of commanders, who know they may not be able to count on their conscripts…. Quiet, anonymous,… lawbreaking and disobedience may well be the historically preferred mode of political action for… subaltern classes, for whom open defiance is too dangerous.
To make this happen, Congress and the public need to hear from young women who don’t plan to register for the draft. Otherwise they won’t think about the prospect of resistance by women to draft registration, or take it seriously. I’ll be happy to publish or link to “I Won’t Go” or “We Won’t Go” statements, anonymously or with names as the authors wish. If there are other things I can do to help young women prepare to resist draft registration, or to support their resistance, or to support the ongoing resistance by young men, please let me know.
A Jewish rights organization has taken three local councils to court, alleging discrimination over the public authorities’ decision to boycott Israeli goods produced in illegal settlements in the West Bank.
Jewish Human Rights Watch (JHRW) has taken Swansea, Gwyneedd and Leicester councils to the High Court in London, alleging their boycott of Israeli goods is anti-Semitic and violates the 2010 Equality Act.
A solicitor for JHRQ, Robert Festenstein, said: “We would like to see the motions quashed. I don’t understand why they would pass it in the first place.
“I mean, they wouldn’t pass a motion saying something derogatory about women, so why would they do that about Jews?”
Andrew Sharland, a lawyer representing Leicester’s council, which approved the boycott back in 2014, said the JHRW is trying to “stifle criticisms of Israel.”
“What this challenge really concerns is criticism of the State of Israel, and the claimant’s desire to suppress it,” he said.
A number of councils across the country began boycotting Israeli goods around 2009 in response to Israel’s invasion of Gaza.
Earlier this year, the government issued guidance to public authorities saying such boycotts are “inappropriate” unless formal legal sanctions or embargoes have been put in place by central government.
The Cabinet Office warned that boycotts could “undermine good community relations, poison and polarize debate, weaken integration and fuel anti-Semitism.”
The campaign group War on Want has decried the JHRW legal challenge as “shameful.”
War on Want senior campaigner Ryvka Barnard said: “It’s shameful that local councils are being attacked for ensuring their policies are in line with international and UK law.
“The illegal settlements are a part of the systematic abuses of international law and human rights committed by Israel against the Palestinians.”
Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn has also criticized the government’s guidance on boycotts as an “attack on local democracy.”
Relatives of Berta Caceres, Indigenous and environmental leader murdered in Honduras March 3, reaffirmed their distrust of the public prosecutor after having been excluded from the investigation, regarding the arrest of four suspects Monday.
“They excluded us from the investigation process from the beginning, we have no way of knowing whether the arrests are the result of exhaustive proceedings, nor do we know whether these include the masterminds at all levels,” they said in a statement.
They also stated that the alleged involvement of active and retired military linked to the company DESA demonstrates the involvement of state agents in the murder of Caceres.
Children and other relatives of Berta Caceres learned of the arrests through the media “and not through the channels they are entitled to by law,” the statement said.
The Honduran Office of the Public Prosecutor reported that 10 coordinated raids were carried out Monday in connection with Caceres’ homicide in the capital Tegucigalpa, as well as in La Ceiba, and Trujillo.
The four suspects are scheduled to appear in court in the following days, the OPP added.
Caceres’ death prompted massive international condemnation and led to huge protests in Honduras, a country that currently has the one of highest murder rates in the world.
Honduran radio journalist Felix Molina | Photo: Facebook / Felix Molina
Prominent Honduran radio journalist and critic of the country’s 2009 military coup Felix Molina has been wounded after suffering an assassination attempt on the eve of World Press Freedom Day and the two-month anniversary of the murder of another renowned Honduran figure, Indigenous leader Berta Caceres.
“I declare myself a survivor of the insecurity that the majority of the country faces,” Molina said in a statement released by the local human rights organization Cofadeh on Tuesday from the University School Hospital in Tegucigalpa where he is being treated for injuries from the attack.
Molina was the victim of a double attempt on his life on Monday. In the second attack, he suffered four bullet wounds, two in each leg, while taking a taxi in the capital city.
Photo: Facebook / Cofadeh
Hours earlier, he had reported on his Facebook account that two youth had pulled a gun on him while he rode in a taxi, asking him to hand over his phone. One of the attackers shouting at the other to shoot, but the driver sped away before the trigger was pulled.
Medical professionals reported that after receiving treatment, Molina’s life was not in danger due to the non-fatal location of the gunshot wounds.
“It is not my intention to speculate on this act, but with the repeat of the attack on the same day I think this was not a simple telephone theft but rather a direct attack against me,” Molina continued in his statement to rights defenders from the hospital, adding that he awaited a thorough and fair investigation. “If it is that, I am the most interested to know because I want to continue practicing journalism without fear, and continue living without fear.”
Human rights defenders were quick to point out that the attempt on Molina’s life was not an isolated event but part of the systematic repression and intimidation against activists and journalists that has sharply increased since the U.S.-backed military coup that hurled the country into crisis.
The human rights defense network of the western Honduran department of Lempira released a statement through Cofadeh holding the Honduran government responsible for the attack on Molina.
Human rights defender and prominent resistance activist Gilberto Rios wrote on social media that it is urgent to spread the news of the attack nationally and internationally.
“It is important that the world knows that is happening in Honduras everyday,” Rios wrote. “Freedom of expression is a precious right and there are not many journalists that identify with popular causes. No more assassinations of journalists!”
In the immediate aftermath of the 2009 U.S.-backed coup in Honduras, Molina was a pivotal source of information amid a media blackout around the coup and repression against massive protests taking over the streets. Through his radio program Resistencias, aired on Honduras’ Radio Globo, and other alternative media, he has reported on pro-democracy and resistance movements from the front lines of struggle, despite receiving death threats.
The human rights situation in Honduras has drastically deteriorated since the 2009 coup, and the country has become one of the most dangerous countries in the region for media workers, second only to Mexico.
Since the 2009 coup that ousted President Manuel Zelaya, 59 journalists have been assassinated in Honduras. Four have been murdered since the beginning of 2016.
Last week the House Armed Services Committee approved an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act requiring women to register with Selective Service. This means that if Congress ever brings back the draft, women will be forcibly sent to war.
The amendment is a response to the Pentagon’s decision to allow women to serve in combat. Supporters of drafting women point out that the ban on women in combat was the reason the Supreme Court upheld a male-only draft. Therefore, they argue, it is only logical to now force women to register for Selective Service. Besides, supporters of extending the draft point out, not all draftees are sent into combat.
Most of those who opposed drafting women did so because they disagreed with women being eligible for combat positions, not because they opposed the military draft. Few, if any, in Congress are questioning the morality, constitutionality, and necessity of Selective Service registration. Thus, this debate is just another example of how few of our so-called “representatives” actually care about our liberty.
Some proponents of a military draft justify it as “payback” for the freedom the government provides its citizens. Those who make this argument are embracing the collectivist premise that since our rights come from government, the government can take away those rights whether it suits their purposes. Thus supporters of the draft are turning their backs on the Declaration of Independence.
While opposition to the draft is seen as a progressive or libertarian position, many conservatives, including Ronald Reagan, Barry Goldwater, and Robert Taft, where outspoken opponents of conscription. Unfortunately, the militarism that has led so many conservatives astray in foreign policy has also turned many of them into supporters of mandatory Selective Service registration. Yet many of these same conservatives strongly and correctly oppose mandatory gun registration. In a free society you should never have to register your child or your gun.
Sadly, some opponents of the warfare state, including some libertarians, support the draft on the grounds that a draft would cause a mass uprising against the warfare state. Proponents of this view point to the draft’s role in galvanizing opposition to the Vietnam War. This argument ignores that fact that it took several years and the deaths of thousands of American draftees for the anti-Vietnam War movement to succeed.
A variation on this argument is that drafting women will cause an antiwar backlash as Americans recoil form the idea of forcing mothers into combat. But does anyone think the government would draft mothers with young children?
Reinstating the draft will not diminish the war party’s influence as long as the people continue to believe the war propaganda fed to them by the military-industrial complex’s media echo chamber. Changing the people’s attitude toward the warfare state and its propaganda organs is the only way to return to a foreign policy of peace and commerce with all.
Even if the draft could serve as a check on the warfare state, those who support individual liberty should still oppose it. Libertarians who support violating individual rights to achieve a political goal, even a goal as noble as peace, undermine their arguments against non-aggression and thus discredit both our movement, and, more importantly, our philosophy.
A military draft is one of — if not the — worst violations of individual rights committed by modern governments. The draft can also facilitate the growth of the warfare state by lowering the cost of militarism. All those who value peace, prosperity, and liberty must place opposition to the draft at the top of their agenda.
Now that the Indonesian government has officially opened a probe into what the CIA called “one of the worst mass murders of the 20th century,” it’s time for the U.S. government to come clean about its own involvement in the orchestrated killing of hundreds of thousands of Communists, ethnic Chinese, intellectuals, union activists and other victims during the mid-1960s.
President Joko Widodo this week instructed one of his senior ministers to begin investigating mass graves that could shed light on the slaughter of more than half a million innocents by soldiers, paramilitary forces and anti-Communist gangs.
That orgy of violence followed the killing of six generals on Sept. 30, 1965, which the Indonesian military blamed on an attempted coup by the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI). It marked the beginning of several decades of military dictatorship and further mass murders in East Timor and West Papua.
The PKI, which had some three million members, and millions more sympathizers, was by the early 1960s the strongest political force in the country aside from the military and the revered father of Indonesia’s independence, President Sukarno.
As one CIA adviser warned in 1963, “If the PKI is able to maintain its legal existence . . . Indonesia may be the first Southeast Asia country to be taken over by a popularly based, legally elected communist government.” Two years later, the military-led bloodbath put an end to that threat.
Indonesia’s government, whose leaders include military veterans of that era, still refuses to open criminal investigations into the mass murder, as called for in 2012 by Indonesia’s National Commission on Human Rights.
But some survivors nonetheless welcome the chance to expose truths that have been vigorously suppressed over the years by mass political arrests, press censorship, and pervasive indoctrination programs in the country’s schools.
To help tell the whole story, Indonesia’s human rights commission and major international human rights organizations have called on the Obama administration to declassify U.S. government documents related to the massacres, as it did recently with respect to Argentina’s “dirty war” from 1976-83.
But President Obama, like his predecessors, has so far been reluctant to shed light on tragic events in Indonesia more than half a century ago.
“The extent of America’s role remains hidden behind a wall of secrecy,” complained Joshua Oppenheimer, maker of two acclaimed documentaries about the massacres: “The Act of Killing” and “The Look of Silence.”
“C.I.A. documents and U.S. defense attaché papers remain classified. Numerous Freedom of Information Act requests for these documents have been denied,” he observed. “If the U.S. government recognizes the genocide publicly, acknowledges its role in the crimes, and releases all documents pertaining to the issue, it will encourage the Indonesian government to do the same.”
It’s easy to guess why Washington is so reluctant to bare the truth. The limited number of documents that have been released suggest that U.S. officials goaded Indonesia’s military into seizing power in 1965 and then liquidating PKI supporters throughout the archipelago. The full record could look even uglier.
Indonesia became a focus of U.S. strategic concerns as far back as 1940, when Imperial Japan threatened its immensely valuable rubber plantations, tin mines, and oil wells. President Franklin Roosevelt’s showdown with Tokyo, which culminated in the Pearl Harbor attack, stemmed from his determination to resist the loss of the islands’ strategic resources. Years later, Richard Nixon would call Indonesia “by far the greatest prize in the South-East Asian area.”
Prompted by its appreciation of Indonesia’s value, the Eisenhower administration financed a full-scale but unsuccessful military rebellion in 1958 against the neutralist Sukarno government. The Kennedy administration tried to patch up relations, but President Lyndon Johnson — angered at the regime’s threat to U.S. rubber and oil companies as well as Sukarno’s friendly relations with the PKI — cut off economic aid while continuing training and assistance to the anti-Communist military.
As one senior State Department official testified in executive session before Congress just a few months before the 1965 coup, explaining the administration’s proposal to increase military aid, “When Sukarno leaves the scene, the military will probably take over. We want to keep the door open.”
Prompting the Slaughter
To prompt the army to act against Sukarno, U.S., British, and Australian intelligence operatives planted phony stories about PKI plots to assassinate army leaders and import weapons from Communist China to launch a revolt — elements of a “strategy of tension” that would later be used in Chile.
According to former CIA officer Ralph McGehee, the CIA “was extremely proud” of its campaign and “recommended it as a model for future operations.”
Months after the bloodbath began, the well-connected associate editor of the New York Times, James Reston, would write, “Washington is being careful not to claim any credit” for the coup “but this does not mean that Washington had nothing to do with it.”
The events that triggered the military takeover remain murky even today, thanks to the regime’s systematic suppression of evidence. What seems clear, however, is that the PKI was largely caught unprepared when a group of junior officers — acting either on their own or as part of a “false flag” operation mounted by the anti-Communist General Suharto — killed six generals in the name of stopping a right-wing coup against Sukarno.
Suharto and his colleagues quickly arrested the killers, blamed the PKI for the atrocity, and aroused popular outrage by spreading false stories that the murdered generals had been sexually mutilated.
They also charged that Indonesia’s Communists were targeting Islamic leaders. In response, the country’s largest Muslim organization issued an order to “eliminate all Communists.”
On Oct. 5, 1965, U.S. Ambassador to Indonesia Marshall Green informed Washington that Muslin groups were “lined up behind” the army, which “now has opportunity to move against PKI if it acts quickly. . . Momentum is now at peak with discovery of bodies of murdered army leaders. In short, it’s now or never.”
Green was hopeful: “Much remains in doubt, but it seems almost certain that agony of ridding Indonesia of effects of Sukarno . . . has begun.” To help make sure that came to pass, Green advised telling coup leaders of “our desire to be of assistance where we can,” while remaining in the shadows.
Green proposed fanning the flames of popular anger through covert propaganda: “Spread the story of PKI’s guilt, treachery and brutality (this priority effort is perhaps most-needed immediate assistance we can give army if we can find way to do it without identifying it as solely or largely US effort).”
To that end, he later instructed to U.S. Information Agency to use all its resources to “link this horror and tragedy with Peking and its brand of communism; associate diabolical murder and mutilation of the generals with similar methods used against village headmen in Vietnam.”
By mid-October, Green reported that the embassy had discussed strategy with Army and Muslim contacts for a “step-by-step campaign not only against PKI but against whole communist/Sukarno clique.”
Soon he was reporting the good news: the army had executed hundreds of Communists and arrested thousands of PKI cadre, with help from Muslim death squads.
“I, for one, have increasing respect for [the army’s] determination and organization in carrying out this crucial assignment,” he wrote.
To help the army succeed, Green endorsed Washington’s decision to bankroll the military’s clean-up operations against the PKI, adding that “the chances of detection or subsequent revelation of our support . . . are as minimal as any black bag operation can be.”
In addition, by December 1965 the U.S. embassy began sending the Indonesian military lists of PKI leaders — facilitating their liquidation.
“It really was a big help to the army,” said Robert J. Martens, a former member of the U.S. Embassy’s political section. “They probably killed a lot of people, and I probably have a lot of blood on my hands, but that’s not all bad. There’s a time when you have to strike hard at a decisive moment.”
In a December 1965 story, Time magazine offered the first significant account in the American media of the scope of the killing:
“Communists, red sympathizers and their families are being massacred by the thousands. Backlands army units are reported to have executed thousands of Communists after interrogation in remote jails. Armed with wide-bladed knives called ‘parangs,’ Moslem bands crept at night into the homes of Communists, killing entire families and burying the bodies in shallow graves.
“The murder campaign became so brazen in parts of rural East Java, that Moslem bands placed the heads of victims on poles and paraded them through villages. The killings have been on such a scale that the disposal of the corpses has created a serious sanitation problem in East Java and Northern Sumatra where the humid air bears the reek of decaying flesh.
“Travelers from these areas tell of small rivers and streams that have been literally clogged with bodies. River transportation has at places been seriously impeded.”
By February 1996, the U.S. embassy was estimating that at least 400,000 people had already been killed across the country — more than died from the atomic bomb attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
C.L. Sulzberger of The New York Times remarked in April that “the killing attained a volume impressive even in violent Asia, where life is cheap.”
Speaking for official Washington, in a column titled “A Gleam of Light in Asia,” the New York Times’ James Reston called this bloodbath one of “the more hopeful political developments” in Asia, one that could not have “been sustained without the clandestine aid it has received indirectly from here.”
The full extent of that clandestine aid remains a contested question, but historian Bradley Simpson, in a 2008 study of U.S. relations with Indonesia in the 1960s, observed that “declassification of just a fraction of the CIA’s records demonstrates that the agency’s covert operations in Indonesia were more widespread and insidious than previous acknowledged. These records also reveal that the Johnson administration was a direct and willing accomplice to one of the great bloodbaths of twentieth-century history.”
New Mexico’s Tom Udall declared last year as he introduced a Senate resolution to promote reconciliation on the 50th anniversary of the Indonesian massacres, “the United States and Indonesia must work to close this terrible chapter by declassifying information and officially recognizing the atrocities that occurred. . .
“The United States should stand in favor of continued democratic progress for our vital ally Indonesia and allow these historical documents to be disclosed. Only by recognizing the past can we continue to work to improve human rights across the globe.”
The world is still waiting on President Obama to heed that call.
Jonathan Marshall is author or co-author of five books on international affairs, including The Lebanese Connection: Corruption, Civil War and the International Drug Traffic (Stanford University Press, 2012).
Rights activists have called for the bodies of hundreds of Shia Muslims massacred by the Nigerian army last December to be exhumed for further investigation into the exact number of victims.
Residents in the northern city of Kaduna, where the carnage took place, have rejected the official death toll and said a local inquiry into the incident suggests the government figures may be a gross underestimation.
On December 12, Nigerian soldiers attacked Shia Muslims attending a ceremony at a religious center in Zaria, accusing them of blocking the convoy of the army’s chief of staff and attempting to assassinate him.
A day later, Nigerian forces raided the home of Sheikh Ibhrahim al- Zakzaky, who leads the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN), and arrested him after killing those attempting to protect him. Both incidents led to the deaths of hundreds of members of the religious community.
Rights groups say there is evidence Nigerian military had secretly buried hundreds of bodies in mass graves.
Meanwhile, Mohammed Mustapha and Nura Adam, two eye-witnesses, have also painted a horrific picture of the massacre.
Referring to a mass grave outside Kaduna, Mustapha said the local “government claimed they buried 347 people here but we know the actual number is far more than that.”
Mustapha also recalled how earth-moving equipment was brought into the cemetery near the Nigerian Defense Academy in the troubled region on December 14 to dig a pit for the burial.
He also noted that at about 11:00 p.m. (2200 GMT) armed forces cordoned off the narrow path leading to the burial ground shortly before trucks filled with bodies arrived.
“I counted six huge trucks and several military vans laden with dead bodies driving into the cemetery for the mass burial which residents were not allowed to witness,” said Adam.
“It took them five hours to finish the burial, which was an indication that the bodies were more than 347 because it doesn’t take that long to thrown in such a number of bodies into a pit,” he added.
Adam also said the bodies should be exhumed to confirm the exact number of the dead, adding that the world would be “shocked by the true number of those buried.”
However, Abdulhakeem Mustapha, counsel to the Kaduna state commission of inquiry probing the incident, has said local public officials do not have any authority to force the central government in Abuja to take action over the massacre.
“This is an investigative committee. It doesn’t have powers to issue orders,” said Mustapha, adding, “It is going to make its recommendations to the government on what it believes are the best ways to resolve the problem based on its findings.”
Last week, Amnesty International said in a report titled “Unearthing the truth: unlawful killings and mass cover-up in Zaria,” on April 22 that the Nigerian army killed over 350 supporters of Zakzaky and tried to meticulously destroy evidence of the crime by burying the victims in mass graves.
The report also blames Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration for failing to probe army crimes against civilians.
Despite Buhari’s pledge to investigate the war crimes, “to date no concrete steps have been taken to end endemic impunity for such crimes,” it pointed out.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) has also slammed the carnage and said Nigerian forces committed several instances of bloodshed against the country’s Shia community in mid-December 2015.
The Nigerian army had also targeted Shias in August 2014 as people were holding a demonstration to condemn Israeli attacks on the Palestinians.