Jimmy Carter called a war waged in Vietnam by the United States — a war that killed 60,000 Americans and 4,000,000 Vietnamese, without burning down a single U.S. town or forest — “mutual” damage. Ronald Reagan called it a “noble” and “just cause.” Barack Obama promotes the myth of the widespread mistreatment of returning U.S. veterans, denounces the Vietnamese as “brutal,” and has launched a 13-year, $65 million propaganda program to glorify what the Vietnamese call the American War:
As we observe the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War, we reflect with solemn reverence upon the valor of a generation that served with honor. We pay tribute to the more than 3 million servicemen and women who left their families to serve bravely, a world away . . . They pushed through jungles and rice paddies, heat and monsoon, fighting heroically to protect the ideals we hold dear as Americans.
Which ideals might those have been? Remember, this was the bad war in contrast to which World War II acquired the ridiculous label “good war.” But the Pentagon is intent on undoing any accurate memory of Vietnam. Members of the wonderful organization, Veterans For Peace, meanwhile have launched their own educational campaign to counter the Pentagon’s at VietnamFullDisclosure.org, and the Vietnam Peace Commemoration Committee has done the same at LessonsOfVietnam.com. Already, the Pentagon has been persuaded to correct some of its inaccurate statements. Evidence of the extent of the killing in Vietnam continues to emerge, and it has suddenly become universally acceptable in academia and the corporate media to acknowledge that presidential candidate Richard M. Nixon secretly sabotaged peace talks in 1968 that appeared likely to end the war until he intervened. As a result, the war raged on and Nixon won election promising to end the war, which he didn’t do. There would seem to be at work here something like a 50-year limit on caring about treason or mass-murder. Imagine what it might become acceptable to say about current wars 50 years hence!
And yet, many lies about Vietnam are still told, and many truths are too little known. After Nixon sabotaged peace negotiations, U.S. and Vietnamese students negotiated their own People’s Peace Treaty, and used it to pressure Nixon to finally make his own.
“Suppose Viet Nam had not enjoyed an international solidarity movement, particularly in the United States,” writes Madame Nguyen Thi Binh. “If so, we could not have shaken Washington’s aggressive will.”
The People’s Peace Treaty began like this:
Be it known that the American and Vietnamese peoples are not enemies. The war is carried out in the names of the people of the United States and South Vietnam but without our consent. It destroys the land and people of Vietnam. It drains America of its resources, its youth and its honor.
We hereby agree to end the war on the following terms, so that both peoples can live under the joy of independence and can devote themselves to building a society based on human equality and respect for the earth. In rejecting the war we also reject all forms of racism and discrimination against people based on color, class, sex, national origin, and ethnic grouping which form the basis of the war policies, past and present, of the United States government.
1. The Americans agree to the immediate and total withdrawal of all U.S. forces from Vietnam.
2. The Vietnamese pledge that, as soon as the U.S. government publicly sets a date for total withdrawal, they will enter discussions to secure the release of all American prisoners, including pilots captured while bombing North Vietnam.”
Nine leaders of the U.S. antiwar movement of the 1960s have put their current thoughts down in a forthcoming book called The People Make the Peace: Lessons from the Vietnam Antiwar Movement. The movement of the 1960s and early 1970s was widespread and dynamic beyond what we know today. It was part of a wider culture of resistance. It benefitted from the novelty of televised war and televised protest. It benefitted from hugely flawed but better-than-today economic security, media coverage, and election systems, the impact of the draft, and — of course — the creativity and courage and hard work of peace activists.
Those contributing to this book, and who recently returned to Vietnam together, are Rennie Davis, Judy Gumbo, Alex Hing, Doug Hostetter, Jay Craven, Becca Wilson, John McAuliff, Myra MacPherson, and Nancy Kurshan. Their insights into the war, the Vietnamese culture, and U.S. culture, and the peace movement are priceless.
This was a war that Vietnamese and Americans killed themselves to protest. This was a war in which Vietnamese learned to raise fish in bomb craters. This was a war in which U.S. peace activists illegally traveled to Vietnam to learn about the war and work for peace. This is a war in which people still die from weapons that explode these many years later or from poisons that take this long to kill. Third-generation victims with birth defects live in the most contaminated areas on earth.
Nixon recorded himself fretting about the People’s Peace Treaty with his staff. Two years later, he eventually agreed to similar terms. In the meantime, tens of thousands of people died.
And yet the Vietnamese distinguish clearly, as they always did, U.S. peace advocates from the warmongering U.S. government. They love and honor Norman Morrison who burned himself to death at the Pentagon. They carry on without bitterness, hatred, or violence. The rage still roiling the United States from the U.S. Civil War is not apparent in Vietnamese culture. Americans could learn from Vietnamese attitudes. We could also learn the lesson of the war — and not treat it as a disease called “the Vietnam syndrome” — the lesson that war is immoral and even on its own terms counter-productive. Recognizing that would be the beginning of health.
Privacy activists are flooding Congress with messages of opposition to the cyber surveillance bill due to be considered by the Senate, using faxes rather than emails in order to poke fun at lawmakers’ antiquated understanding of technology and privacy.
Fight for the Future, a nonprofit fighting for privacy and against government surveillance, has set up a page dubbed “Operation: Fax Big Brother,” which lets anyone generate and customize a fax protesting the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA). Each fax is then sent to all 100 Senators. The group has not said how many faxes have been sent so far.
CISA sailed through the Senate Intelligence Committee in March, with Oregon Democrat Ron Wyden being the sole dissenter. Senate is expected to take up a vote on the bill before the August 7 recess. A similar proposal, known as CISPA, was approved by the House of Representatives in 2013 but died in the Senate after public opposition compelled President Barack Obama to threaten a veto.
“Groups like Fight for the Future have sent millions of emails, and they still don’t seem to get it,” Evan Greer, the group’s campaign manager, told the Guardian. “Maybe they don’t get it because they’re stuck in 1984, and we figured we’d use some 80s technology to try to get our point across.”
According to the group, since 2012 civil liberties activists have sent hundreds of thousands of calls and tweets and over 2.6 million emails to Congress opposing overreaching cybersecurity laws. However, the fax stunt does not just have publicity value. Lawmakers often use analog technology like faxes and pagers in order to hide their digital tracks from Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) inquiries, claims a Senate staffer who spoke to the Guardian.
Sponsored by Senator Dianne Feinstein, a California Democrat, CISA seeks to enlist the support of corporations in collecting user data in the name of cybersecurity, providing them with liability protection if they share the data with federal agencies such as the NSA. Once they have the data, federal agencies would be able to share it freely with each other. What’s more, information shared with the government by the companies will be specifically exempt from FOIA disclosures.
Gabe Rottman, a legislative counsel with the American Civil Liberties Union, described the bill as a “new and vast surveillance authority that might as well be called Patriot Act 2.0 given how much personal information it would funnel to the NSA.”
The US Chamber of Commerce and a number of major corporations are backing the bill. In addition to Facebook and Google, Comcast and AT&T also favor CISA, as do Bank of America and Blue Cross Blue Shield Association.
Proponents of CISA have cited a spree of data breaches over the past year, from corporations such as Sony and healthcare provider Anthem to government agencies including the Department of State and Office of Personnel Management (OPM), as a reason to beef up cybersecurity. Critics have countered that CISA is not doing anything to protect networks from threats, and everything to vacuum up Americans’ data.
“With all these breaches, there’s a lot of fearmongering going on in DC,” says Fight for the Future’s Greer. “They just say: ‘This is a problem – we’ve got to do something!’ And this is the something they’re going to do. It’s not just that this won’t fix things – it’ll make them worse. And it’ll give sweeping legal immunity to some of the largest companies in the world and open us all up to new forms of surveillance.”
As many of you already know, Alison Weir (no relation, and she pronounces her name WEER while mine is pronounced WAH-YER) and her organization, If Americans Knew (IAK), have been expelled from the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation (USCEIO). I decided to get to the bottom of this important development, so I got in touch with Rube Joshner at the USCEIO, who agreed to be interviewed on condition of anonymity.
Barb Weir: For our readers who may not know, could you please explain why the USCEIO expelled IAK and Alison Weir from your organization?
Rube Joshner: Alison Weir violated our most sacred principle against racism, which is at the foundation of all our work.
BW: My goodness! Is she a closet Zionist? Does she advocate an exclusivist Jewish state. Does she support the ethnic cleansing of non-Jews from Palestine or defend the theft of Arab land?
RJ: I’m not sure what you mean by Zionist. I’m not familiar with the term, but as for the rest, no, just the opposite. She violated our anti-Semitism clause.
BW: She’s an anti-Semite?
RJ: Not exactly, but she’s been seen with anti-Semites and she failed to denounce them to their face. We require all of our members to do everything possible to expose and denounce anti-Semites whenever possible, and especially to their face.
BW: I thought that was the job of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL).
RJ: The ADL is too busy defending Israel to fight anti-Semitism. Our organization criticizes Israel, which gives us a much better platform to fight anti-Semitism. In fact, we believe that the best way to defend Israel is to more-or-less liberate a significant part of 18% of Palestine and let Palestinians live there, as long as they are demilitarized and cannot defend themselves.
BW: I thought you were concerned with defending Palestinians.
RJ: We think that the best way to defend Palestinians is to fight anti-Semitism. Anti-Semitism is the cause of all the Palestinians’ problems.
BW: So you’re not opposed to Zionism?
RJ: There you go with that word again. What do you mean?
BW: I’m talking about the project to create a Jewish state where none previously existed. You’re not opposed to a state that prefers Jews?
RJ: Where did you get that idea?
BW: I thought you had a policy against racism. Isn’t a Jewish state a racist idea?
RJ: We support the principle of separate but equal, and you won’t find anything against a Jewish state in our policy on racism. That would be anti-Semitic.
BW: Are you planning to expel all the groups that oppose a Jewish state?
RJ: As I said, our first duty is to fight anti-Semitism. Sometimes a group that opposes a Jewish state will get expelled.
BW: Do you have a plan for accomplishing this?
RJ: I’m glad you asked. We’re just now drafting a new application form with a list of questions that is not in the old form. We may even apply it retroactively. Would you like to see it?
1. Are you now or have you ever been an anti-Semite?
2. Have you ever attended a meeting of anti-Semites?
3. Have you ever associated anyone that was or is an anti-Semite?
4. Are you willing to provide the U.S. Campaign with a list of all anti-Semites that you have known?
5. Have you ever tolerated the presence of anti-Semites without denouncing or challenging them?
RJ: I hope that shows we’re serious about fighting racism and defending Palestinians.
Barb Weir is the pseudonym of a writer in Northern California.
Email to the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation
Free Palestine Movement | July 21, 2015
Please be advised that the Free Palestine Movement resigns from the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, effective immediately.
We resign because of the disgraceful, disrespectful and unjust treatment of Alison Weir and her organization, If Americans Knew, in the procedures to expel her from the Campaign on the spurious grounds of insufficient avoidance of anti-Semitic persons and institutions.
We resign because it is clear that the decision had been made to expel IAK before the proceedings to do so had ever begun.
We resign because, in defiance of the most basic principles of justice, Ms. Weir was not given the opportunity to confront her accuser.
We resign because no evidence was presented that she herself is anti-Semitic.
We resign because the USCEIO policy on racism is so broad that someone who is not racist can be found in violation for being insufficiently vigilant about confronting and challenging anti-Semitism whenever it is encountered. This is so vague that the rule can be applied arbitrarily, as has been the case with IAK and Alison Weir.
We resign because the language of the policy on racism was formed through procedures and meetings that allowed persons selected arbitrarily by the staff and leadership of the USCEIO to control the wording, consultation and approval process of the policy and to disregard, disrespect and manipulate attempts by member organizations to participate in the process.
We resign because the policy implicitly gives priority to anti-Semitism and Islamophobia as forms of racism and does not even mention Zionism in the policy statement.
We resign because the cause of Palestinian suffering and ethnic cleansing is not anti-Semitism, but rather Zionism.
We resign because the USCEIO is in violation of its own policy on racism because it tolerates Zionism in its midst and neither confronts nor challenges it.
We resign because the mission of the USCEIO is hypocrisy: to apply double standards to racism and to tolerate Zionism while using anti-Semitism as a tool to determine who may be permitted to participate in the Palestine Rights Movement.
We resign because we prefer to take the courageous Palestinian resistance as our standard, and not anti-Semitism.
We resign because, unlike the USCEIO, we recognize that Zionism is the main problem and almost the only problem for Palestinians, and not anti-Semitism, and that the eradication of a state founded on Zionism must be our primary goal and almost our only goal.
We resign because we believe that a manipulative USCEIO gatekeeper entity does not serve the interests of justice for Palestine and Palestinians, nor for Americans, nor for Jews. We will seek the future of justice in more likely places, which is to say almost anywhere.
We do not give our consent to be considered one of the many cameo organizations, used to inflate the apparent size and importance of the USCEIO even though they have long stopped participating. We believe that the USCEIO is a much smaller organization than it pretends, and should be treated as such. Please remove us from all mailing lists and from the regional list serve, with its threats to remove anyone who steps out of line.
Finally, we join others in thanking the USCEIO for revealing its true face of arrogance, repression and hypocrisy to all who care to see. In this respect you have rendered a great service.
Free Palestine Movement is an accredited NGO of the United Nations whose purpose is to defend and advocate for the human rights of all Palestinians, and in particular the right of access to all of Palestine. Visit Free Palestine Movement’s website.
Syrian Prime Minister Wael Halqi has said joining the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) will allow Damascus easier economic and trade cooperation with friendly nations. Russia and Belarus are also discussing a new loan to Syria.
“Negotiations with Russia on joining the Eurasian Union and customs-free zone are being held. We see this as a benefit and strengthening the relations with friendly states, which will facilitate economic and trade cooperation with them,” said Halqi in an interview with RIA Novosti Tuesday.
According to the prime minister, Russia and Syria have signed a number of contracts for the construction of gas processing plants, irrigation facilities and power stations. In 2013, an agreement was signed for Russian companies to develop oil fields on the Syrian coast. The first phase is worth $88 million and will last for five years.
The countries are also discussing the expansion of loans to Damascus.
“Negotiations with Russia and Belarus on the provision of new lines of credit continue. It will help to meet the needs of production, create new opportunities for the development of the internal market and economic process,” said the prime minister.
He expressed the hope that Russia would help the Syrian government “to cope with the brutal attacks, including the unjust economic sanctions imposed by the West.”
Halqi said that credits between Iran and Syria have already been implemented. The two countries have signed and implemented two lines of credit, of which $3.6 billion Tehran has allocated for projects related to oil and $1 billion for the delivery of humanitarian aid, including food, medicines, hospital equipment and components for power plants.
The prime minister said that Syria appreciates all the efforts made by the Russian leadership to maintain the policy and economy of Syria during the years of crisis, and specifically thanked Moscow for donating 100,000 tons of wheat as humanitarian aid to the Syrian people.
This summer marks the twentieth year of Christian Peacemaker Team’s presence in Palestine. While that does not seem to be a reason to celebrate, we do feel we should mark the occasion.
Iranian fencer Taher Ashouri has refused to take on his Israeli opponent at the 2015 World Fencing Championship currently under way in the Russian capital city of Moscow.
On Tuesday, the 23-year-old Iranian sportsman prevailed over Kazakhstan’s Dmitriy Alexanin and Latvian competitor Tomas Makarovas in his first two contests of men’s senior épée section at Moscow’s famous Olympic Stadium sports complex.
Ashouri, however, conceded defeats against Finnish, South Korean and Swedish representatives, Kasper Roslander, Na Jongkwan and Christian Gustavsson, in the three following matches.
The Iranian fencer then refused to fence in an encounter with the Israeli opponent, Ariel Drizin, in the next round, and was subsequently given a ban by the sports governing body and excluded from the rest of the contest.
The épée is the modern derivative of the dueling sword used in fencing.
The 2015 World Fencing Championship started in Moscow on July 13 and will run until July 19. Some 912 fencers from 108 countries are competing in the event to win a title of champion and, equally as prestigious and important, to qualify for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Cameron plans to extend UK involvement in the wars raging in Iraq and Syria, while mounting an hysterical attack on British Muslims.
Last week’s hike in the military budget was not symbolic. Today David Cameron has proved he wants to take Britain back to a lead military role in the Middle East.
He has called for a ‘fresh assault on Isil’. As the extra 2.5 billion pounds voted for the military in the budget kicks in, he has called on the top brass to organise more SAS troop deployments, drone attacks and RAF bombing missions, not just on Iraq, but in Syria too, despite the parliamentary vote in 2013 explicitly ruling out such an attack.
David Cameron makes the extraordinary claim that his experience over the last five years has proved that drone attacks, spy plane flights and special forces are ‘vital in keeping us safe’. But this is precisely the period which has seen the emergence of Isis and constant warnings from the government about the growing threat of terrorism.
The whole history of the ‘war on terror’ suggests in fact the precise opposite. From the attack on Afghanistan in 2001 to the invasion of Iraq two years later and the Cameron lead assault on Libya in 2011, the war has devastated the Middle East and beyond, creating a series of failed states in which violence has flourished.
Since 2001, jihadist organisations have been able to spread from isolated pockets in Central Asia to a vast swathe of the world from Pakistan through the Middle East and into sub-Saharan Africa.
Last time the British people were being asked to back attacks on Syria, it was to support an (illegal) attempt to remove President Assad. Though Cameron was stopped by popular and parliamentary pressure, continued Western intervention in Syria and the renewed bombing of Iraq have plunged the region further into chaos. Infrastructure, both political and physical, has been further pummelled.
The West’s main allies in the conflict, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey, have been backing violent jihadist groups in Syria for years, including al-Qaida affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra. The outcome has been a catastrophic unravelling of whole societies. In the words of Patrick Cockburn :
‘In both countries, the collapse of central government has exposed and sharpened differences between arab and kurd, Sunni and Shia, Muslim and Christian, secular and religious. And as Syrians and Iraqis live in a permanent state of war,, these differences are almost always settled violently’.
Now, our government wants to intervene on the opposite side, attacking one of the horrific forces that the West’s policies have helped conjure up. Forget the promises that bombing Iraq or Syria would not lead to further military involvement. Today’s open commitment to deploying special forces is not mission creep, its a brazen admission that Cameron wants to go back to full spectrum war in the Middle East.
The terrifying thing is that in this context, failure to learn the lessons of history will not just lead to repetition, but to a cycle of violence that threatens to consume whole regions of the world.
And this is a war abroad that will be accompanied by hysterical attack on the Muslim population at home. If the only foreign policy they can conceive of is escalating violence, domestically they can’t see beyond threats, intimidation and scapegoating.
In an utterly depraved move, the government have accompanied claims that unidentified Muslims who won’t condemn Isis are driving people into their hands with youtube footage showing the carnage created by British bomb attacks in Iraq. Apparently this is supposed to scare young Muslims from joining Isis. It is more likely to look like bringing the war home.
Worryingly, it looks like the Labour leadership is set to fall in with this march to war. The party’s acting leader, Harriet Harman, has been invited to a high-level security meeting on Isis on 14 July 2015. ‘Indications’ have been made that Labour is re-thinking its position on attacking Syria.
In 2013 anti war opinion and protest derailed Cameron’s war plans. Now, Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour leadership campaign takes on a new significance, but campaigning against a new front in Britain’s war in the Middle East has become a matter of urgency.
Fensuagro, the largest agricultural workers union in Colombia, held its 11th National Congress on June 5 – 8 in Bogota. The theme there was: “We advance for peace, rural peoples’ rights, and food sovereignty.” Fensuagro – the full name is the United Agricultural Trade Union Federation – reelected Húbert Ballesteros as vice president and member of its board of directors.
Ballesteros, however, is a political prisoner, one of 9500 Colombian political prisoners and one of 130 Fensuagro leaders who are in prison. His victimization symbolizes repression directed at Fensuagro since 1976, when the union was formed. As of December 2013, assailants had killed 1500 Fensuagro members over 37 years. More have died since then. […]
Fensuagro has a stake in the outcome of peace talks underway in Cuba between the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). The reason is twofold: persecution visited upon the union during the civil war and Fensuagro’s revolutionary orientation shared with the FARC.
Fensuagro exemplifies peaceful mobilization at the Colombian grassroots on behalf of social justice and, in effect, works in parallel fashion with the FARC’s armed struggle for the same purpose. If the union’s record is any indication, Fensuagro will likely be continuing its fight even if, ultimately, the FARC is unable to negotiate peace with justice.
Húbert Ballesteros’ own story reflects Fensuagro’s militancy and its leadership role in targeting monopolization of land in Colombia, the basis actually of capitalist power there. The regime’s enmity toward union and Ballesteros surely is no accident.
An agrarian strike broke out in August 2014 and 200,000 strikers soon carried the action to 17 Colombian departments. Over two weeks authorities arrested 500 strikers; nine strikers were killed. “Colombia has seen one of the most powerful mobilizations in its history,” a contemporary observer said. […]
Political Declaration of the Fensuagro Congress
June 14, 2015
We declare that:
As a consequence of the structural crisis taking place in rural areas of Colombia, very high levels of impoverishment and absolute dependency are affecting vast sectors of the Colombian population, especially those living in zones of misery surrounding big cities and in rural areas. The cause is application of neo-liberal policies and institutional and fiscal adjustments imposed by the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank, and the Organization for Cooperation and Economic Development. A submissive national government takes its turn in carrying them out.
We point to efforts complementing policies aimed at greater concentration of wealth in our nation, consolidation of trans-national finance capital, and plundering of our territories. These include: free trade treaties; the legal project on Zones of Interest for Rural Social and Economic Development; expanding agricultural business enterprises, concentration of land ownership; the impetus behind mining and energy development; and the recently-approved National Development Plan, especially the part on Transformation of the Countryside.
The war continues as the principal instrument for plunder and concentration of wealth on the part of the Colombian oligarchy. It operates in conjunction with transnational capital and the destructive power of imperialism. Rural peoples; indigenous peoples; African-descended communities; and, generally speaking, the working class of our country are being robbed continually of their fundamental rights. The executive and legislative power and the judicial branch that are harmoniously integrated with the interests of trans-national and national capital constitute part of this machinery of war.
Violence and systematic persecution against rural and indigenous peoples is no recent phenomenon. This cropped up in the first years of the previous century and continued throughout the entire 20th century and into the 21st century. The current armed conflict stems from the historical causes of violence, from political persecution, from plundering of rural peoples, and from overt North American imperialist intervention in our country.
The fact of more than 9,900 political prisoners in Colombia shows that to designate a country like ours as the continent’s “oldest democracy” is a solemn lie. Numbers don’t lie: more than seven million displaced persons, thousands of disappeared, around 25 million acres of land stolen from rural people.
The peace negotiations taking place in Havana, Cuba, between the Colombian government and the FARC-EP guerrillas, represent Colombian society’s best hope for reaching a definitive agreement that might end armed confrontation and open the road to a political solution leading to a long, stable peace and social justice. From our Federation, we call upon the two sides to … not rise from the negotiating table until they sign a final agreement. We call upon the national government immediately to implement agreements already reached on agrarian policies and also those agreements likely to contribute to building confidence in the negotiations process.
Fensuagro declares itself in favor of the constituent process. Necessary time must be dedicated for organizing and promoting the convocation of a Constituent National Assembly. It may be possible there to transform agreements reached in Havana into the reality of a new political constitution that would establish peace as a fundamental principle for Colombians, and establish social justice and democratization of wealth and the nation’s political life. The National Constituent Assembly must embrace the fundamentals for constructing a democratic society marked by self-determination, anti-imperialism, and unrestricted national sovereignty. Peace must become a basic principle for the Colombian people, guaranteeing them the right to free health care and education, the right to enjoy suitable housing, access to drinkable water, high quality foods, dignified work, land for the landless, and other modalities permitting direct state support for rural people’s economy.
Wealth and natural resources will have to be declared the strategic patrimony of Colombians thus prohibiting privatization and sales to foreign owners. Land will have a social and ecological function. No longer will monopolized land-holding in the hands of a few be legitimate. Legislation will have to be developed guaranteeing effective and efficient control of tax evasion by trans-national and national companies and by finance capitalists. Those companies violating fundamental rights of workers will be expelled from the country. Millions of rural inhabitants dispossessed of lands, territories, and wealth are still waiting upon the state to give them back. Four years in existence, the Law of Victims does not pass the test. According the government itself, only 215,000 acres have been returned out of 25 million acres that farming people say drug-trafficking big land owners stole from them ….
… We commit ourselves to join with social and popular forces in consolidating the Agrarian, Small Farmer, Ethnic and People’s Summit (1) and converting it into a space of unity in diversity. Its goal is permanent mobilization and struggle against the trans-nationals for the sake of retrieving land, territory and a worthy life. We also commit ourselves to organizing and preparing people – centered protest actions in a spirit of unity and leading toward the Agrarian and People’s Strike. …
…. Likewise, we call for a redoubling of efforts from the agrarian sectors, small farmers, and social, political and people’s organizations to strengthen the “Broad Front for Peace” that is working to achieve an immediate, bilateral ceasefire, for de-escalation of military actions, and the signing soon of an agreement putting an end to armed confrontation. The Broad Front seeks a stable, durable peace and social justice. The door thus would be closed to reactionary forces intent upon condemning the Colombian majority population to the harsh, painful road of war and systematic violence. The country’s social organizations and people’s organizations have borne the brunt of that experience….
(1.) “On September 13, 2013 and as a result of the agrarian strike of August, people’s organizations installed the Agrarian Summit. [Participants] since then have been trying to balance problems of the agrarian sector with the demands of the State.” They are giving consideration to renewing the agrarian strike.
W. T. Whitney Jr. translated.
Iran will join the Eurasian economic, political and military bloc, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), after sanctions are lifted on the country, a Russian presidential aide has said.
The announcement came after foreign ministers of the organization met ahead of a summit by SCO and BRICS leaders in the Russian city of Ufa.
“The Iranian application is on the agenda for consideration. Sooner or later, the application will be granted after the UN Security Council sanctions are lifted,” Interfax quoted Russian presidential adviser Anton Kobyakov as saying.
Iran and the P5+1 group of world countries are currently involved in make-or-break talks in order to reach a nuclear agreement which would have sanctions lifted on Tehran.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told Interfax that the removal of a conventional arms embargo on Iran is a “major problem” in the negotiations.
“I can assure you that there remains one major problem that is related to sanctions: this is the problem of an arms embargo,” he said in Vienna.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani will head to Russia on Thursday to participate in the summit of SCO and BRICS nations.
Iran has an observer status on SCO, awaiting the removal of sanctions to become a full-fledged member.
SCO currently consists of China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. Kobyakov said the organization has received 11 new applications for membership, including from Egypt.
Russian officials have said India and Pakistan will join SCO as full members after years of holding observer status as Prime Ministers Narendra Modi and Nawaz Sharif will join regional leaders in Ufa.
The Iranian president will attend the BRICS summit of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa as a special guest and will also deliver a speech to the event.
The BRICS accounts for almost half the world’s population and about one-fifth of global economic output. Its New Development Bank is seen on course to challenge the dominance of US-led World Bank and International Monetary Fund.
Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton has censured growing anti-Israeli movements in the United States, saying the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign wants to “isolate and delegitimize Israel.”
The former secretary of state called for suggestions to fight the movement in a letter to Democratic donor Haim Saban and Jewish organization leaders.
“I know you agree that we need to make countering BDS a priority” and to “fight back against further attempts to isolate and delegitimize Israel,” she wrote.
“BDS seeks to punish Israel and dictate how the Israelis and Palestinians should resolve the core issues of their conflict,” she said.
The former first lady also described the campaign as “counterproductive.”
“From Congress and state legislatures to boardrooms and classrooms, we need to engage all people of good faith, regardless of their political persuasion or their views on policy specifics, in explaining why the BDS campaign is counterproductive to the pursuit of peace and harmful to Israelis and Palestinians alike,” she said.
The BDS campaign, which began in 2005, encourages organizations and institutions such as universities and churches to divest from Israel until the fundamental rights of the Palestinians have been recognized.
The boycott campaign called for “various forms of boycott against Israel until it meets its obligations under international law.”
In 2013, two US academic groups — the American Studies Association and the Association for Asian American Studies — supported the boycott.
The movement received backing from one of the largest Protestant churches in the US last week.
The United Church of Christ’s general assembly voted overwhelmingly in favor of divesting funds at its synod in Cleveland.
Clinton also expressed her complete support of Israel if she gets elected president next year.
“Time after time I have made it clear that America will always stand up for Israel — and that’s what I’ll always do as president,” she said in the letter.
Staffordshire Police have been accused of making a “heavy-handed” intervention during a protest outside an Israeli arms factory organized to mark the anniversary of last year’s Gaza conflict.
At least eight people were arrested Monday during the demonstration outside a factory in Shenstone, which is owned by a subsidiary of Israeli defense contractor Elbit Systems.
An activist with London Palestine Action, speaking in personal capacity, told RT that the demonstration was meant to be a “fun, creative” experience, but was met with “aggressive [and] forceful police tactics.”
Campaigners estimate 200 people attended the protest near Birmingham, which was the site of a similar blockade in August 2014.
The protest was timed to mark the one-year anniversary of start of the Gaza conflict. Activists held a memorial service for the 2,200-plus Palestinian victims, 490 of whom were children.
Protests were also held in Tamworth and Broadstairs in the UK, and Melbourne in Australia.
Shenstone protesters targeted the UAV Engines factory where engines for Hermes, one of Israel’s primary armed drones, are manufactured.
Drones owned by the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) may have been used in attacks that resulted in civilian deaths and violated international law, according to reports by Human Rights Watch and The Guardian.
A variety of campaign groups including War on Want, Campaign Against the Arms Trade and the Palestine Solidarity Campaign united under the umbrella movement “Block the Factory” to organize the day of action.
Protesters posted videos on Twitter indicating a heavy police presence. At one point, a police officer is seen dragging a man holding a megaphone out of a crowd and arresting him.
Speaking to RT, activist Alex Levan, 31, said organizers had intended the protest to be peaceful.
“There were lots of police from early on,” he said. “They were very rough, they manhandled protestors, [and] they were very heavy-handed.”
“The idea was to reclaim the space around the factory and to turn it into a real festival environment, a creative activist environment with workshops, with a family space, with arts and crafts.”
“But the police were heavy-handed, they’ve made at least 10 arrests, but there will probably be more. These were completely unprovoked arrests, these were peaceful protests,” he added.
“But we did spend the majority of the day, from the early hours of the morning, blocking the factory.”
The protest succeeded in halting factory production for the day.
Activists called on the British government “to initiate an immediate two-way arms embargo – to stop arming Israel and to stop buying weapons from Israel.”
The Hermes, which is partly produced in the UK, carries two Spike-MR (medium range) missiles, which are produced by Israeli firm Rafael Advanced Defense Systems.
It can stay airborne for up to 24 hours at altitudes of up to 18,000 feet (5,486 meters) and is equipped with optical, infrared and laser sensors that enable it to identify and track targets.
Human Rights Watch claim to have found evidence Spike missiles were used against two Red Cross ambulances during Israel’s conflict in Lebanon in 2006.
Six medical workers and three patients were injured in the attack. The Geneva Convention forbids armed forces from targeting medical staff or hospitals.
Staffordshire Police Chief Inspector Steve Smith said: “At Tamworth this morning, a number of individuals climbed onto the roof of a factory building as part of a protest. All seven voluntarily came off the roof. Police officers then directed them to leave the area under public order legislation. No arrests were made.
“At Shenstone, a number of protesters locked themselves to fencing and others blocked the road. A civil injunction is in place around this location so police have the power to arrest anyone breaching this injunction.
“So far eight people, seven men and one woman, have been arrested on suspicion of breaching a high court injunction.”