ODESSA — Eight foreign reporters were prohibited from entering the southern Ukrainian city of Odessa to cover the events commemorating the second anniversary of the massacre in the city, a lawyer representing one of the people accused of involvement in the deadly events said Monday.
“About eight journalists were not allowed to enter [the city],” Kirill Shevchuk told RIA Novosti.
He added that the reporters, including those from Poland, France, the Netherlands and Germany, were turned back at passport control in Odessa’s airport.
On May 2, 2014, pro-Kiev radicals blocked anti-government protesters in Odessa’s House of Trade Unions and set the building on fire by hurling Molotov cocktails inside. According to the official data, 48 people died and more than 250 were injured in the fire. No perpetrators have been brought to justice.
The mourning rally was scheduled for 2 p.m. local time (11:00 GMT), but because of an alleged bomb threat local authorities blocked the access to the tragedy site for people who wanted to commemorate the victims of the massacre.
Even as May Day protests were expected in cities across the world on Sunday, as economic crises and a rise in unemployment have fuelled anti-government sentiment, Brazil saw some radically different scenes.
Hundreds of thousands of people marched in Brazil’s main cities on International Workers’ Day in a show of support for the embattled President Dilma Rousseff.
Protests were seen in 16 of the country’s 27 states, called by Central Union of Workers (CUT) and numerous other labor and left-wing organizations.
The support for the embattled leftist leader Rousseff in Brazil was in sharp contrast to France which was on high alert after protests against planned labour changes this week sparked a frenzy, with cars set on fire and dozens of police officers being injured in Paris in clashes with protesters.
On Sunday, the Brazilian city of Sao Paulo saw the largest march with around 100,000 people, according to organizers, in three separate marches.
Rousseff appeared at the CUT march in Sao Paulo, alongside the mayor of Sao Paulo, Fernando Haddad, and the president of the Workers’ Party, Rui Falcao.
During a speech to the crowd, Rousseff announced a new policy measure, according to Brazilian daily O Globo, saying that her flagship social welfare program Bolsa Familia would be increased by 9 per cent.
Bolsa Familia is an ambitious cash-transfer scheme that has helped elevate millions of Brazilians out of poverty. Funds are channelled through the mothers of poor and working-class families.
The scheme was launched nationwide by President Lula’s administration in 2003 and its exemplary success has cemented support for Rousseff’s Workers Party among the poorest in Brazil.
On Sunday, Rousseff also announced that 25,000 new houses would be built within the Mi Casa, Mi Vida (My Home, My Life) program, the renewal of the contracts of foreign doctors in the Más Médicos (More Doctors) program, an increase in paternity leave for public officials and an adjustment to the rental tax to benefit workers.
In other cities such as Rio de Janeiro, Curitiba, Fortaleza, Manaus, Joao Pessoa, Recife and Salvador, Rousseff supporters marched, saying they would not allow her impeachment.
The Brazilian Senate is currently considering whether to open an impeachment trial against Rousseff, over alleged fiscal irregularities in 2014 and 2015.
Our corporate and state media deliberately fails to report what is happening daily in Palestine. This account from Reuters three days ago was not used in any British mainstream media:
JERUSALEM // Israeli police shot and killed a pregnant Palestinian woman and her teenage brother yesterday at a checkpoint near Ramallah in the occupied West Bank, police and witnesses said.
Israeli police claimed the pair approached the vehicles-only lane at the Qalandiya military checkpoint and tried to carry out an attack. They said the woman was holding a knife and both she and the man walked rapidly towards police and security guards in a vehicles-only lane at the Qalandia checkpoint outside Jerusalem.
Alaa Soboh, a Palestinian bus driver who said he witnessed the incident, said the pair had appeared to be unfamiliar with crossing procedures and were swiftly challenged at the checkpoint.
“As soon as the two crossed, [Israeli forces] started screaming ‘Go back, go back’, and then they began shooting,” he said.
“The first one they shot was the girl, the boy tried to go backward, when they fired seven bullets at him.”
A witness told the Palestinian Maan News Agency that Israeli forces fired more than 15 rounds into the woman’s body.
The Palestinian Red Crescent said Israeli forces denied Palestinian paramedics access tothe woman for medical treatment, the agency reported.
The pair were identified as 24-year-old mother of two Maram Abu Ismail, and her 16-year-old brother Ibrahim Taha. The siblings were from the West Bank town of Qatuna.
The victims’ family, interviewed by Palestinian media, said that Maram was five months pregnant at the time of her death.
No Israelis were injured in the incident.
The military checkpoint where the two were killed is a main access point for Palestinians to cross from the occupied West Bank to Jerusalem and has been the site of a number of alleged, actual, and attempted attacks since October.
In the past six months, Israeli forces have killed at least 193 Palestinians, 130 of whom Israel said were assailants.
Many others were shot dead in clashes and protests.
Frankly I do not believe that the pregnant woman was walking towards the heavily armed soldiers openly wielding a knife from a distance. If she were attempting to stab a soldier, she would have concealed any knife, and not called attention by walking in the vehicle lane. Even if the account were true, I do not accept that a group of soldiers could not defend themselves against a heavily pregnant woman with a knife, spotted at a distance and approaching on foot, in any other way than by putting fifteen bullets into her, even if her sixteen year old brother was with her – and witnesses say he was backing away when he was himself shot.
The truth is that Palestinian lives simply do not matter. They did not matter to the Israeli soldiers who callously shot them dead rather than try to discover what was actually happening, and they do not matter to the British media who do not report this, yet find massive room for ludicrous accusations against British supporters of Palestine. Reuters tells us that 193 Palestinians have been killed in six months. These two will be added to the 130 whom Israel claim were assailants, a very large number of whom were in reality not. But even the Israeli figure admits Israel has killed 63 Palestinians who were not assailants, and many thousands more have had their homes destroyed to make way for yet more illegal Israeli settlers.
An everyday story for Palestinians. A terrible personal tragedy for the murdered woman, her murdered little brother, her unborn child and her surviving small children.
And here is the secret. The British media are frightened that you will care. That is why they do not tell you.
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.
BETHLEHEM – The Israeli who shot and killed a pregnant Palestinian woman and her teenage brother at the notorious Qalandiya checkpoint in the occupied West Bank on Wednesday was a private security contractor, not a member of the police forces, Israeli media revealed on Sunday.
The Israeli Justice Ministry released a report on Sunday, which revealed that Maram Salih Hassan Abu Ismail, 23, and her brother Ibrahim, 16, had been shot and killed by a privately contracted security guard, and not a police officer as had previously been thought, Israeli Channel 10 reported, noting that the police officer only fired warning shots into the air.
As a result, newspaper Haaretz wrote, the Justice Ministry’s police investigation unit won’t be opening a probe into the killings.
It remains unclear if and by whom a further probe will be conducted.
The revelation comes as serious questions have arisen over Israeli forces’ version of the events that led to the death of Abu Ismail and her younger brother earlier this week.
The contractor shot and killed the siblings after Israeli forces said that Abu Ismail, who was five months pregnant, threw a knife in the direction of Israeli forces at the Qalandiya military checkpoint.
However, witnesses at the scene said the two siblings posed no threat at the time the Israeli officer killed them, as they mistakenly entered the wrong part of the checkpoint and did not understand Israeli soldiers speaking to them in Hebrew.
Israeli police has so far refused to release security camera footage of the Qalandiya shooting, despite having done so in past cases under investigation.
An Israeli police spokesperson was not available for comment on Sunday.
Maram and Ibrahim Abu Ismail are among more than 200 Palestinians to be killed by Israeli forces or settlers since October, the majority during alleged or attempted small-scale attacks that have left nearly 30 Israelis dead.
UN investigations have shown that, in a number of instances since the unrest began, Israeli forces have implemented a policy of extrajudicial execution, shooting dead Palestinians who did not present imminent threat at the time of their death.
CIA torture victims are a big step closer to accountability.
A federal judge has ruled against two CIA contract psychologists, James Mitchell and John Bruce Jessen, in their effort to dismiss a case brought against them on behalf of three victims of the torture program they designed and implemented for the agency.
Senior Judge Justin Quackenbush announced his decision rejecting the psychologists’ motion to dismiss during an argument last Friday in Spokane, Washington. Yesterday, the federal court issued its written opinion.
The ruling is an historic first. Those responsible for the CIA’s torture program never previously had to answer for their actions because no victim’s case has ever proceeded beyond a motion to dismiss. Thanks to this order, we now enter into the pretrial discovery phase of the litigation, an essential step before any trial of Mitchell and Jessen for their key role in the torture of our clients. During discovery our clients will be able to obtain evidence from Mitchell and Jessen to help prove their case at trial — although the Senate torture report already makes public many of Mitchell and Jessen’s actions in the CIA torture program.
The case was brought by Suleiman Abdullah Salim, Mohamed Ben Soud, two survivors of the CIA program, and the family of Gul Rahman, who died as a result of his torture. All three men were subjected to torture techniques and methods that Mitchell and Jessen designed and helped implement for the CIA. To this day, Salim and Ben Soud suffer psychologically and physically from the effects of their torture. Gul Rahman’s family has never been officially notified of his death, and his body never returned to them.
In their effort to evade accountability, lawyers for the two psychologists had argued that the decision to torture the three men was a political one and therefore not appropriate for determination by a judge. They also argued that they are entitled to the same legal immunity as government officials because they were government contractors.
As the court recognized, however, our judiciary is well equipped to handle claims of torture, and it does not turn a blind eye to prisoner abuse even in wartime. The court pointed out that years of case law “demonstrate the present fallacy of Defendants’ argument that the court must decline jurisdiction because the case falls within the realm of war and foreign policy.”
The court also explained that contractors do not qualify for immunity unless they “merely acted at the direction of the Government” in carrying out lawful government contracts. Mitchell and Jessen went far beyond carrying out orders. They designed, sold, and implemented an unlawful torture program (and earned tens of millions of dollars in the process).
After over a decade of trying, it looks like CIA torture survivors will finally have their day in court.
NAZARETH – The Israeli occupation police refused to release a video documenting the murder of a young Palestinian lady and her brother who posed no threat to the occupation troops, Hebrew press said on Sunday.
According to the Israeli police version, 23-year-old Maram Saleh Abu Ismail and her 16-year-old brother Ibrahim refused their order to stop and posed a threat to officers.
The Israeli police further claimed that Maram wielded a knife before she was shot along with her brother, who was walking behind her, by the Israeli police.
Eyewitness accounts, however, contradict such Israeli claims, saying the two casualties posed no threat and were at a distance from the occupation troops, who talked to them in a Hebrew language which they did not understand.
Haaretz newspaper quoted Israeli police sources as stating that videos documenting live scenes cannot be released during the investigation phase.
According to the newspaper, similar recordings legitimizing police use of force were released in the past. Israeli police claimed, after searching the casualties’ bodies, that Ibrahim was holding a knife, which was discredited by eyewitness accounts.
The newspaper said a snapshot picked up at the scene shows the two martyrs lying on the ground 15 meters away from the checkpoint and in a place where no Israeli police officers were deployed.
MK Dov Khenin (Joint Arab List) demanded that “Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon and Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan launch an immediate probe into the scene and release the video.”
Khenin said no recordings were released despite the fact that the checkpoint was equipped with several cameras.
Maram, who was shot dead by the occupation troops, is a mother of two children and was expecting another baby. She was killed on her way to al-Maqasid hospital in Occupied Jerusalem.
America considers civilians legitimate targets in all its wars of aggression. Fundamental laws of war prohibit attacking them – ignored in all US combat operations.
CENTCOM lied, calling its October 3, 2015 bombing of the Kunduz, Afghanistan Doctors Without Borders (MSF) hospital a “tragic incident.”
It turned truth on its head, claiming “personnel involved did not know that they were striking a medical facility. The intended target was an insurgent-controlled site which was approximately 400 meters away…”
CENTCOM commander General Joseph Votel willfully lied, claiming US forces “had no idea” they were attacking a medical facility.
False! CENTCOM knew it was an MSF hospital, yet ordered the attack anyway, falsely claiming it was used as a Taliban command and control center – before acknowledging otherwise.
Dozens of doctors, other medical staff and patients were massacred in cold blood, many others injured, victims of US imperial viciousness.
MSF provided CENTCOM and Afghan authorities with precise hospital coordinates several times. While under attack, it informed their authorities about what was happening, the facility struck multiple times for over an hour with precision weapons – a war crime by any standard.
MSF called the attack an “abhorrent and a grave violation of international humanitarian law. (A) war crime (was) committed.”
The Pentagon denied MSF’s demand for an independent investigation into what happened – conducted its own to whitewash mass murder.
CENTCOM’s report acknowledged violations of rules of engagement and laws of war breaches, while at the same time denying culpability for an indisputable high crime.
Votel said more than a dozen US servicemen were disciplined for what happened, meaningless wrist slaps at most. None face criminal charges for deliberate mass murder. Coverup and denial reflect longstanding Pentagon practice.
CENTCOM’s commander willfully lied, saying “(t)he investigation found that the incident resulted from a combination of unintentional human errors, process errors and equipment failures, and that none of the personnel knew they were striking a hospital.”
“The trauma center was a protected facility but it was misidentified during this engagement.” It was on a “no strike” list, its precise location known, yet willfully attacked anyway without just cause.
In response to CENTCOM’s whitewash, MSF’s Meinie Nicolai called Votel’s briefing “an admission of an uncontrolled military operation in a densely populated urban area.”
“It is incomprehensible that, under the circumstances described by the US, the attack was not called off.”
“The threshold that must be crossed for this deadly incident to amount to a grave breach of international humanitarian law is not whether it was intentional or not.”
“(A)rmed groups cannot escape their responsibilities on the battlefield simply by ruling out the intent to attack a protected structure such as a hospital.”
“(V)ictims and their families have neither the option to pursue legal action (for justice) nor claim compensation for loss of life and livelihood.”
America commits war crimes with impunity in all its theaters of conflict. US warplanes destroyed or damaged several Syrian and Iraqi hospitals along with numerous nonmilitary related sites, these actions continuing on a regular basis.
Pentagon coverup and denial doesn’t wash. Repeated high crimes go unpunished – naked aggression without mercy most of all, attacking nonbelligerent nations threatening no one, raping and destroying them, the highest of high crimes.
NYT editors disgracefully called mass murdering and injuring dozens of MSF doctors, medical staff and patients a mistake, a catastrophe, “gross negligence,” and war zone blunder – failing to condemn a willful war crime and demand full accountability.
They ludicrously cited Pentagon officials claiming “they acted promptly to retrain all troops in Afghanistan about the rules for using deadly force and… have taken precautions” to avoid repeat incidents.
They continue on a regular basis in all US war theaters. Mass civilian casualties don’t matter, considered a small price to pay to advance America’s imperium – an agenda the NYT wholeheartedly endorses.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
His new book as editor and contributor is titled Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.
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.
A Sikh man and a Pakistani-American man were arrested at gunpoint after fellow bus passengers claimed they were discussing a bomb threat in Arabic – even though they were speaking Punjabi. The Sikh Coalition has filed a complaint against the accusers.
Daljeet Singh, an asylum-seeker from India, began chatting with Mohammed Chotri, a Pakistani-American man, while the two were traveling on a Greyhound bus in February. The two conversed in Punjabi.
When a woman on the bus claimed she heard the word “bomb” mentioned in their conversation, she urged the bus driver to pull onto the side of the road. The bus was passing through Amarillo, Texas, at the time.
The driver dialed 911 and two other passengers restrained the men in their seats until police arrived and arrested them at gunpoint, the Hindustan Times reported.
The men were detained for 30 hours and eventually released after being cleared of criminal wrongdoing by the FBI and the Potter County Attorney’s Office.
The Sikh Coalition has filed a complaint against the woman, identified as Tianna Lynn Decamp, which urges her prosecution due to the fact that she “knowingly reported a false and baseless bomb threat.”
The complaint also urges for criminal charges to be filed against passengers Anthony Lamar Lillie and Kelly Michael Morris, for “unlawfully restraining Mr. Singh on the bus.”
“By filing this complaint, we hope to bring attention to the crisis facing minority communities today. The list of things brown people can’t do on public transportation is growing — we can’t get a can of Diet Coke, we can’t switch seats on a bus or a plane, we can’t speak in a language other than English, really we can’t be human beings,” Gurjot Kaur, senior staff attorney for the Sikh Coalition, told NBC News.
Singh said in a statement that the only crime he committed was “wearing a turban, having a beard, and speaking in a different language to another brown man on a bus.”
“I still cannot believe that this happened to me in America,” he said.
Potter County Attorney Scott Brumley told the Globe-News that he will review the complaint before deciding if any charges should be filed.
The February incident occurred the same month that a Sikh actor, model and designer was barred from taking a flight to New York after refusing to take off his turban. Just two months prior, a passenger on a Delta flight falsely believed a breastfeeding Sikh mother posed a terror threat.
In their book “Network of Death”, three German journalists revealed illegal arms supplies from Germany to Mexico. However, instead of being praised for their efforts, all three of them may face a court trial on alleged breach of the German Press Act and disclosure of secret information.
The book written by German journalists Daniel Harrich, Danuta Harrich-Sandberg und Jürgen Grässlin revealed illegal arms supplies by German company Heckler & Koch to Mexico. It turned out that the weapons — G36 assault rifles made by the firm — appeared in the Mexican states of Guerrero and Chihuahua, although the supplies to these states were prohibited by German authorities.
In 2005, the German regulatory agency allowed the delivery of 9,000 assault rifles to Mexico between 2006 and 2009 on the condition that they won’t be available in the Mexican states of Guerrero, Jalisco, Chiapas and Chihuahua.
However, it recently became known that the arms not only leaked to these territories, but were also allegedly used during the assault on Ayotzinapa students on September 26, where six people were killed, 25 injured and 43 disappeared.
In their book, journalists not only revealed the fact that the German company illegally delivered G36 assault rifles to Mexico, but also accused German authorities of negligence and complicity in the deal.
“In our latest book, […] we’ve published highly sensitive documents as proof for our assumptions that not only Heckler & Koch is responsible for this, but also the Federal Office on Export and the Federal Ministry of Economics,” Grässlin said in an interview with Sputnik.
According to the journalist, both authorities made the deliveries to Mexico possible, although the German Foreign Ministry had initially prohibited the supply of weapons to the country. In 2010, Grässlin filed an application with a request to start an investigation into the case, but as a result only employees of the company, and none of the authorities were prosecuted.
“The Stuttgart public prosecution office still refuses to prosecute those in the Federal Ministry of Economics and the Federal Export Office responsible and co-responsible for it, and this is a scandal,” Grässlin said.
Instead, surprisingly, the Munich public prosecution office is currently considering an option to prosecute journalists themselves.
Under paragraph 353d of the Criminal Code, the journalists might be charged with “violation of professional and special secrecy”. The law prohibits disclosing messages, documents or any other information from a criminal case. The violation is punishable with a fine or imprisonment of up to one year.