Monday, May 31, 2010

International solidarity and the Freedom Flotilla massacre

Editorial, The Electronic Intifada, 31 May 2010
Israeli naval ships flanking the Mavi Marmara.
Israeli soldiers aboard the Mavi Marmara.

A passenger aboard the Mavi Marmara carries a bloody stretche

Early this morning under the cover of darkness Israeli soldiers stormed
the lead ship of the six-vessel Freedom Flotilla aid convoy in
international waters and killed and injured dozens of civilians aboard.
All the ships were violently seized by Israeli forces, but hours after the
attack fate of the passengers aboard the other ships remained unknown.

The Mavi Marmara was carrying around 600 activists when Israeli warships
flanked it from all sides as soldiers descended from helicopters onto the
ship's deck. Reports from people on board the ship backed up by live video
feeds broadcast on Turkish TV show that Israeli forces used live
ammunition against the civilian passengers, some of whom resisted the
attack with sticks and other items.

The Freedom Flotilla was organized by a coalition of groups that sought to
break the Israeli-led siege on the Gaza Strip that began in 2007.
Together, the flotilla carried 700 civilian activists from around 50
countries and over 10,000 tons of aid including food, medicines, medical
equipment, reconstruction materials and equipment, as well as various
other necessities arbitrarily banned by Israel.

As of 6:00pm Jerusalem time most media were still reporting that up to 20
people had been killed, and many more injured. However, Israel was still
withholding the exact numbers and names of the dead and injured.
Passengers aboard the ships who had been posting Twitter updates on the
Flotilla's progress had not been heard from since before the attack and
efforts to contact passengers by satellite phone were unsuccessful. The
Arabic- and English-language networks of Al-Jazeera lost contact with
their half dozen staff traveling with the flotilla.

News of the massacre on board the Freedom Flotilla began to emerge around
dawn in the eastern Mediterranean first on the live feed from the ship,
social media, Turkish television, and Al-Jazeera. Israeli media were
placed under strict military censorship, and reported primarily from
foreign sources. However, by the morning the Jerusalem Post reported that
the Israeli soldiers who boarded the flotilla in international waters were
fired upon by passengers. Quoting anonymous military sources, the
Jerusalem Post claimed that the flotilla passengers had set-up a "well
planned lynch." ("IDF: Soldiers were met by well-planned lynch in boat

The Israeli daily Haaretz also reported that the Israeli soldiers were
"attacked" when trying to board the flotilla. ("At least 10 activists
killed in Israel Navy clashes onboard Gaza aid flotilla")

This narrative of passengers "attacking" the Israeli soldiers was quickly
adopted by the Associated Press and carried across mainstream media
sources in the United States, including the Washington Post. ("Israeli
army: More than 10 killed on Gaza flotilla")

Israel's Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon stated in a Monday morning
press conference that the Israeli military was acting in "self-defense."
He claimed that "At least two guns were found" and that the "incident" was
still ongoing. Ayalon also claimed that the Flotilla organizers were
"well-known" and were supported by and had connections to "international
terrorist organizations."

It is unclear how anyone could credibly adopt an Israeli narrative of
"self-defense" when Israel had carried out an unprovoked armed assault on
civilian ships in international waters. Surely any right of self-defense
would belong to the passengers on the ship. Nevertheless, the Freedom
Flotilla organizers had clearly and loudly proclaimed their ships to be
unarmed civilian vessels on a humanitarian mission.

The Israeli media strategy appeared to be to maintain censorship of the
facts such as the number of dead and injured, the names of the victims and
on which ships the injuries occurred, while aggressively putting out its
version of events which is based on a dual strategy of implausibly
claiming "self-defense" while demonizing the Freedom Flotilla passengers
and intimating that they deserved what they got.

As news spread around the world, foreign governments began to react.
Greece and Turkey, which had many citizens aboard the Flotilla,
immediately recalled their ambassadors from Tel Aviv. Spain strongly
condemned the attack. France's foreign minister Bernard Kouchner expressed
"profound shock." The European Union's foreign minister Catherine Ashton
called for an "enquiry."

What should be clear is this: no one can claim to be surprised by what the
Palestinian Centre for Human Rights correctly termed a "hideous crime."
Israel had been openly threatening a violent attack on the Flotilla for
days, but complacency, complicity and inaction, specifically from Western
and Arab governments once more sent the message that Israel could act with
total impunity.

There is no doubt that Israel's massacre of 1,400 people, mostly
civilians, in Gaza in December 2008/January 2009 was a wake up call for
international civil society to begin to adopt boycott, divestment and
sanctions (BDS) against Israel similar to those applied to apartheid-era
South Africa.

Yet governments largely have remained complacent and complicit in Israel's
ongoing violence and oppression against Palestinians and increasingly
international humanitarian workers and solidarity activists, not only in
Gaza, but throughout historic Palestine. We can only imagine that had
former Israeli foreign minister Tzipi Livni indeed been arrested for war
crimes in Gaza when a judge in London issued a warrant for her arrest, had
the international community begun to implement the recommendations of the
UN-commissioned Goldstone Report, had there been a much firmer response to
Israel's assassination of a Hamas official in Dubai, it would not have
dared to act with such brazenness.

As protest and solidarity actions begin in Palestine and across the world,
this is the message they must carry: enough impunity, enough complicity,
enough Israeli massacres and apartheid. Justice now.

Israel boat raid sparks condemnations, protests

By SELCAN HACAOGLU and LEE KEATH, Associated Press

ANKARA, Turkey – Turkey withdrew its ambassador to Israel and called for
an emergency session of the U.N. Security Council as condemnations erupted
across Europe and the Arab world Monday over Israel's deadly commando raid
on ships taking humanitarian aid to the blockaded Gaza Strip.

Government after government demanded an explanation from Israel, which
said its soldiers were trying to defend themselves against armed
activists. The White House said it was trying to learn more about "this

"It should be known that we are not going to remain silent in the face of
this inhumane state terrorism," said Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip
Erdogan. Most of the nine dead were apparently from Turkey, once a close
ally of Israel.

In Istanbul, a crowd tried to storm the Israeli Consulate. North of
Jerusalem, Palestinians hurled bottles and stones at Israeli soldiers. In
Jordan, hundreds urged their government to follow Turkey's lead and cut
ties with Israel. Dozens of Egyptians protested outside the foreign
ministry in Cairo criticizing the Egyptian government holding pictures of
late President Gamal Abdel Nasser.

Israel said the activists attacked its commandos as they boarded the six
ships taking tons of supplies to Gaza, while the flotilla's organizers
said the Israeli forces opened fire first.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned the violence. The European
Union's foreign affairs chief, Catherine Ashton, said the bloc was deeply
concerned and she called on Israel to carry out an inquiry. British
Foreign Secretary William Hague deplored the killings and called for an
end to the Gaza blockade.

Greece, Egypt, Sweden, Spain and Denmark summoned Israel's ambassadors
demanding explanations for the violence, with Spain and France condemning
what they called the disproportionate use of force. Greece suspended a
military exercise with Israel and postponed a visit by Israel's air force
chief. Germany called for an immediate investigation but was careful not
to directly place blame, and said it was seeking information on six German
citizens believed to have been aboard the ships.

In Tehran, dozens of angry students pelted the U.N. offices with stones
and eggs in protest, burning Israeli flags and chanting, "death to Israel"
and "down with U.S." Police blocked them from reaching the building. The
president of Iran, a key supporter of Hamas, called the raid "an inhuman
act." In Baghdad, an estimated 3,000 Shiite followers of the anti-American
cleric Muqtada al-Sadr shouted "Death, death to Israel!" and "Death, death
to America!"

Riot police used tear gas to drive back hundreds of protesters
demonstrating outside the Israeli Embassy in Paris. There were also
demonstrations in Rome, Cyprus and more than 20 cities in Greece.

In Athens, riot police used tear gas and stun grenades to disperse around
2,500 Greeks and Arabs protesting outside the Israeli Embassy. Some
protesters threw stones and tried to push past police lines to reach the
embassy. About 2,000 people demonstrated peacefully in Thessaloniki.

Abdel-Rahman al-Attiya, the head of the Gulf Cooperation Council, a
regional group, said "Israel is a renegade entity that violates
international law" and said the attack should be considered "a war crime."

In Saudi Arabia, which has promoted a wider Arab-Israeli peace proposal
calling for a land-for-peace swap, the Cabinet headed by King Abdullah
called on the international community to hold Israel responsible for its
"barbaric" policies.

But the strongest reaction came from Turkey, where Deputy Prime Minister
Bulent Arinc said Turkey was canceling three joint military drills and
calling on the U.N. Security Council to convene in an emergency session
about Israel. Turkey is currently a member of the council.

He also said a Turkish youth soccer team currently in Israel would be
brought home.

The raid also brought heightened attention to Israel's blockade of the
Gaza Strip, imposed after the Palestinian militant group Hamas seized
control of the tiny Mediterranean territory in 2007. The blockade — along
with Israel's fierce offensive against Gaza in the winter of 2008-2009 to
stop Hamas rocket fire on Israeli villages — has fueled anti-Israeli
sentiment around the Arab world.

The Cairo-based Arab League called an emergency session for Tuesday to
address the attack, as the two only Arab states with peace deals with
Israel — Jordan and Egypt — sharply condemned the violence.

The incident also put Egypt in a tight position. The only Arab country
bordering the Gaza Strip, it has helped enforce the blockade by cracking
down on smuggling tunnels that are a key source of goods to Gaza's 1.5
million people and by rejecting pressure that it open its border crossing.

A group founded by Nelson Mandela that includes Nobel Peace Prize winner
Desmond Tutu and former President Jimmy Carter said "the treatment of the
people of Gaza is one of the world's greatest human rights violations and
that the blockade is not only illegal, it is counterproductive."

In Beirut, about 500 Palestinian and Lebanese activists protested in front
of the U.N. headquarters, setting Israeli flags on fire. In neighboring
Syria, more than 200 Syrian and Palestinian protesters staged a sit-in
before the offices of the United Nations.


Lee Keath reported from Cairo. AP correspondents from around the Mideast
and Europe contributed to this report.

Cuba to transfer political prisoners close to home

By ANNE-MARIE GARCIA (AP) - May 23, 2010

HAVANA - The Cuban government has agreed to move many of the country's 200
political prisoners to jails closer to their homes, and will give medical
attention to some ailing prisoners, a church official told The Associated
Press on Sunday.

The government's decision comes just days after a rare meeting between Cuban
President Raul Castro and two church leaders, including Cuban Cardinal Jaime
Ortega. After the meeting, Ortega said he was optimistic that there was
willingness on the government's side to compromise.

"The office of religious affairs of the central committee of the Cuban
Communist Party advised the Catholic Church on Friday that as of next week
the political prisoners will be transferred to jails in their place of
origin," Orlando Marquez, a Havana church official, told AP.

It was not clear if all of the political prisoners would be moved, or how
many of those who are ailing will receive treatment.

Marquez also said that a senior church leader, Havana auxiliary bishop Juan
de Dios Hernandez, had visited hunger-striking dissident Guillermo Farinas
in his home in central Cuba on Saturday to tell him of the government's
decision to move the prisoners.

Farinas has refused food for 89 days, though he receives nutrients through a
tube and has appeared strong and alert in recent phone conversations with
the AP.

Another Cuban dissident, Orlando Zapata Tamayo, died Feb. 23 after a lengthy
hunger strike in jail.

Farinas called his hunger strike to protest Zapata Tamayo's death, and has
said since then that his main demand is better treatment for 26 political
prisoners said to be in poor health.

He told the AP on Sunday that Hernandez had assured him that some of the
ailing political prisoners would be transferred to hospitals, though he did
not know how many.

Farinas said that "given the show of good faith" on the part of the
government, he would be willing to end his hunger strike if the government
provides church officials with a schedule for the liberation of the others.

The government had no immediate comment on the supposed concession. Cuba's
communist leaders have long denounced members of the opposition as common
criminals and paid stooges of Washington. As recently as this month, Cuban
officials have denied that the country holds any political prisoners.

But there have been several signs in recent weeks that Cuban leaders are
taking a more conciliatory approach to the dissidents.

On May 2, the government reversed a decision barring the Ladies in White -
composed of the wives and mothers of jailed dissidents - from holding their
weekly march. The breakthrough followed Ortega's mediation.

The meeting Wednesday between Ortega and Raul Castro was covered extensively
by state-controlled media, and a photo of the men and another church leader
was printed on the front page of the Communist Party-newspaper Granma.

The day after the meeting, Ortega said no deal had been reached on prisoner
releases, but he called the meeting - which lasted more than four hours - a
"magnificent start."

Another church leader who was at the meeting, Archbishop Dionisio Garcia,
told AP "that there was good will" on the part of the government on the
issue of dissidents.

Dutch Guerrilla in Colombia Leaves Puzzling Trail


BOGOTÁ, Colombia

THE personnel file compiled by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of
Colombia on Guerrilla No. 608372 seems mundane at first.

It says she was born on Feb. 13, 1978, taught languages in Pereira and
Manizales, and in 2002 joined the Antonio Nariño urban warfare cell in
Bogotá, from which she received explosives training. A photograph shows
an alluring young woman in a beret. Nom de guerre: Alexandra.

But as a cache of documents captured by Colombian security forces from a
guerrilla redoubt in 2009 confirms, this was no ordinary rebel. The file
is a new piece of the puzzle surrounding the woman, whose real name is
Tanja Nijmeijer and who is capturing the imagination of her adopted
land, Colombia, and her home country, the Netherlands.

“She’s one of the most fascinating figures in our long war, present at
many of its critical junctures over the last decade,” said León
Valencia, a former guerrilla here and one of the authors of a newly
published book about Ms. Nijmeijer.

The book and a separate documentary, which was broadcast this month on
Dutch television, are adding to Ms. Nijmeijer’s complex tale, contending
that the Dutch-born guerrilla is not only alive but has risen to the
inner circle of the rebel group, known as the FARC, as a personal
assistant to Víctor Suárez, a top commander better known as Mono Jojoy.

Raised in the village of Denekamp in the north of the Netherlands, Ms.
Nijmeijer took up radical politics as a student of Spanish in Groningen,
a university city, where she joined its squatter scene. From there she
went in search of adventure a decade ago to Colombia, then in the throes
of the ugly war that continues at a reduced level of intensity to this day.

After a short while, she chose a side, joined the FARC and in 2003
vanished into Colombia’s jungles.

The world might never have heard of Ms. Nijmeijer, now 32. But Colombian
soldiers chanced upon her diaries, handwritten in Dutch, in a FARC camp
raided in 2007, which caused a sensation here that year, offering a rare
window into daily life within the FARC.

In some entries, she described the boredom of the guerrillas, living in
the hinterlands, far from cities. In others, she longed for her family
in the Netherlands. In yet others she described her sexual escapades
with fellow rebels, while lambasting the domination of female recruits
by their male commanders.

Throughout her writings, she touched repeatedly on a theme that seemed
to vex the rebels themselves: whether they stood for anything anymore,
having evolved from their idealistic origins into a force that
comfortably financed itself from the drug trade and survived by
kidnappings, extortion and the forced recruitment of children as combatants.

“How will it be when we take power?” Ms. Nijmeijer asked in one entry.
“The wives of the commanders in Ferrari Testa Rossas with breast
implants eating caviar?”

Ms. Nijmeijer, then said to have adopted the code name “Eillen,”
lamented that rank-and-file guerrillas like herself had to be content
with the occasional treat of a bag of potato chips and bottle of soda
pop. She bristled, “Sometimes I want to stop following orders from a
bunch of sexists who try to kill birds with assault rifles.”

Not much was heard from Ms. Nijmeijer after the disclosure of her
writings, save for a video from 2005 obtained by Colombian officials and
broadcast on television here. The images showed her in fatigues,
flashing a smile and asking her parents to forgive her for disappearing
into this country’s war.

SIMILAR tales of adventurers from wealthy countries who move to Latin
America to assist armed revolutionary movements rarely end well.

For instance, New York’s Lori Berenson finally emerged this week from 14
years in Peruvian prisons for aiding a plot by the Túpac Amaru rebel
group. Before that there was William Morgan, the Ohio-born gunrunner who
fought with Fidel Castro before being executed as a traitor when the
Cuban Revolution began eating its own.

Ms. Nijmeijer’s odyssey from Dutch bourgeois comfort to remote Latin
American encampments puzzles many, including her own family. “She’s a
member of an organization that takes hostages and deals in drugs,
there’s no denying that,” her aunt, Mariette Olde Dubbelink, said by
telephone from Denekamp.

“This is a very difficult situation for us,” said Ms. Dubbelink, who
speaks on behalf of Ms. Nijmeijer’s family. “We don’t know if she is
alive or not. That is the big question.”

In January, Colombian military officials told Ms. Nijmeijer’s family
that the FARC had mentioned in their radio communications a woman called
Holanda. That was proof, they said, that Ms. Nijmeijer might still be
alive. But the Defense Ministry, questioned here on her status this
week, declined to comment.

Details about Ms. Nijmeijer that have emerged from the book and
documentary describe an existence of intrigue and daring. She arrived in
Colombia about a decade ago with a job to teach English in Pereira, in
western Colombia, and then ventured with European and American peace
activists into FARC-controlled areas.

Later, she embarked on a double life in Bogotá in 2002 when she joined
the rebels, teaching business English to well-heeled students at the
Wall Street Institute by day while training with the FARC’s urban
guerrilla operation by night.

Under the guidance of Carlos Lozada, a Soviet-educated FARC commander,
Ms. Nijmeijer learned to concoct bombs. But pressure by security forces
provoked the FARC to move Ms. Nijmeijer and much of her unit from Bogotá
into the rural interior, where they have remained for the last seven years.

The FARC made use of her language skills, and as late as 2005 she seemed
to be in good spirits, according to the video images broadcast here.
Then her circumstances seemed to change, judging from what she revealed
in her diaries. Monotony set in. She tired of living in encampments
without privacy, and of being humiliated once in front of her comrades
after criticizing a superior.

“Would I have been happy as a civilian in the Netherlands?” she wrote.
“Engaged, married with children?”

BUT later in the same passage she expressed pride in her experiences in
Colombia: “I’ve seen it all. Here I move like a fish in water, the
jungle is my home. The FARC is my life, my family.”

Liduine Zumpolle, a Dutch human rights activist and one of the authors
of the new book on Ms. Nijmeijer, thinks that, over all, she regrets her
decisions. “Tanja joined the FARC with romantic ideals in mind, and now
she is trapped,” she said.

FARC leaders have a different view, it seems, after having apparently
forgiven Ms. Nijmeijer for the transgressions expressed in her diaries
and recognizing that the tale of their Dutch combatant might hold some
allure for other idealists interested in the rebel group.

“It goes without saying that she’s beautiful,” the FARC boasted on its
Web site this month. “She also speaks English, Spanish and Dutch. But,
it’s surprising how modest she is! That must be because she comes from a
family that worked on the land. She’s proud of that heritage.”

In a haunting part of the documentary “Closing in on Tanja” by the
filmmaker Leo de Boer, Ms. Zumpolle, the rights activist, and Ms.
Nijmeijer’s mother, Hannie, travel to Colombia and try to make contact
with her on a radio channel received by the guerrillas. They give her
instructions on an escape route. Silence follows.

“We don’t know,” said her aunt, Ms. Dubbelink, “if she heard that appeal.”

Sunday, May 30, 2010

6/21: Reception for Puerto Rico Delegation to the UN


Every year a Delegation from Puerto Rico comes to the United Nations to testify
before the U.N. Special Committee on Decolonization to make the case for the
liberation of Puerto Rico, Vieques, repression and the Puerto Rican Political
Prisoners and POWs.

n The June 21 Hearings of the U.N. Decolonization Committee
n The Student Strike at the University of Puerto Rico
n The Continuing Vieques Struggle
n The Movement to Free the Puerto Rican Political Prisoners
and other struggles on the Island.

DELGATES WILL BE ATTENDING from El Movimiento de Afirmaci¨®n Viequense (MAVI), El
Comit¨¦ de Familiares y Amigos de Avelino Gonz¨¢lez Claudio, El Frente Socialista de
Puerto Rico (FS-PR) , El Partido Nacionalista de Puerto Rico, El Movimiento Al
Socialismo (MAS), El Movimiento Socialista de Trabajadores (MST), ProLibertad, and
other organizations from New York and Puerto Rico.

Monday, June 21, 2010
Bread & Roses Gallery
Martin Luther King, Jr. Labor Center/1199
310 West 43rd Street, Manhattan
Between 8th & 9th Avenues

6:30 P.M. Reception ¨C 7:00 P.M. Program

For more information, please contact us at or (718) 601-4751

Police kill Landless People's Movement militant in Johannesburg May 30 2010

The Landless People's Movement in Johannesburg continues to face
repression. A number of its leaders are now in hiding. Police attack in
eTwatwa, Ekurhuleni; one person is dead and another seriously injured.

Saturday, 29 May 2010
Landless People’s Movement Press Statement

On Sunday 23 May residents of the bond houses in Protea South, Soweto,
attacked the Landless People’s Movement (LPM) in the shacks in Protea
South. They went around disconnecting us from electricity and beating
those who had been connected to electricity. They tried to burn down
Maureen Mnisi’s shack and two people were shot. One died on the scene.

Today the police attacked the LPM in eTwatwa, Ekurhuleni. At least three
people were shot with live ammunition. One person has died and another is
currently being operated on in hospital.

The background to the police attack on the LPM in eTwatwa is that on
Tuesday 24 May we organised a march on the Councillor for Ward 65, Cllr
Baleka. The different extensions each had their own demands but at the
last point of the memorandum we all united on one demand which is that the
Councillor must immediately step down. We indicated that we expected a
response to our demands within seven days.

On Thursday 26 May the Provincial Government sent us a fax saying that
they would meet us next Wednesday.

The situation in Extension 18 of eTwetwa is very bad. There is no
electricity, no sewerage, no roads, not even water – there is nothing. The
Councillor did start a project to build toilets but she said that only 717
of the 1 149 people would benefit as the rest of the people would be
evicted to make way for a new road to be built by the provincial
government. They want to move these people to transit areas. Obviously we
cannot accept this. We have stayed in Extension 18 for many years.

We were expecting to attend the meeting with the Provincial Government on
Wednesday next week. But yesterday, on Friday, Cllr Buleka, using the car
of the Erkuleni Municipality drove around calling us to a meeting to be
held today. But we had already suspended her. We no longer recognise her.

So today a meeting was held in the community and it was decided to go the
councillor’s office. The councillor’s supporters provoked the protestors
and in the end stones were thrown at her office. At 10:00 a.m. the police
came and they used their guns. They used live ammunition. We have one of
their bullets. They shot one woman dead. Another woman is in hospital
right now having an operation.

After the shooting the people became even more angry. Some community
members burnt a shack of one of the councillor’s supporters in retaliation
to the murder of their comrade. The police attacked the people again and
used teargas. Even more community members arrived and between ten and
fifteen people were arrested by the police. The police are noe hunting all
the LPM leaders from extension 18 and extension 10 in eTwatwa. We have all
gone into hiding.

The ward councillor must step down. There are no services in eTwatwa and
the councillor is oppressing the people, trying to stop us from organising
and even supporting the plans to have us evicted to a transit area.

We are calling for Msholozi to come down. He must come down to the people,
hear our anger and then act against the councillor and the police. If he
refuses to do this then he is clearly the President of the politicians and
not the president of the people.

The situation in Protea South is still tense. The police are around. On
Thursday we had a meeting with Eskom. Eskom said that they can’t install
electricity to the shacks as we are not proclaimed. It is true that the
government has never proclaimed the area in which we have built our
shacks. But the people have proclaimed it. Anyway, the RDP houses, the
Masakhane houses and the bond houses are all on land that has been
proclaimed. It is just the shack dwellers that are denied the right to
stay in Protea South and denied the right to services. Eskom did say that
they will launch a pilot project with one electricity pole for every 82
families. But the total number of shacks is around 6 400. One electricity
pole for every 82 families is not a good enough response to our demand for
electricity. If the government continues to deny us legal access to
electricity we will continue to appropriate electricity for ourselves.

Protea South remains in darkness after the shack dwellers burned the
transformer in response to the attempt by the residents of the bond
houses, who are calling themselves the Homeowners Association, to
violently disconnect us from electricity. Everyone has now been
disconnected. If the poor are not allowed to have electricity why should
we allow the owners of private houses to enjoy it?

The Homeowners Association continue to say that they don’t want shack
dwellers here and that they want us to be removed.

Every time the government says that Operation Khanyisa - community
organised electricity connections - are ‘criminal’ they turn poverty into
a crime. It is the government’s criminalisation of poverty that has
incited the homeowners to attack us.

Bheki Cele is the one that has called on the police to shoot to kill. When
as the poor we are turned into criminals we are placed in the line of
fire. When we organise to fight against oppressive councillors and for
access to services the police are shooting us. But when the poor go to
vote then the police are there making sure that we are safe. When we are
killed by the police we hold Cele responsible.

Organised shack dwellers have to defend ourselves when we are attacked by
the police, the rich or, as it happened in Kennedy Road in Durban, the

Self defence is no offence.

We are very worried about the World Cup. Billions are wasted on the World
Cup, billions that should have gone to meet the most urgent need of the
poor. The government tells us that we must ‘feel it’ but in Protea South
we don’t even have electricity. Some of us are in hiding from the police.
People have been shot and two people have died in recent days.

The government expects us to be silent to everything that has been done to
us. We will not be silent.

For more information and comment please contact:

Ben Mofokeng (eTwatwa) 078 679 9435
Edward Leople (eTwatwa) 083 885 5009
Maureen Mnisi (Protea South) 082 337 4514

The Shacks of Two Landless People's Movement Activists are Burnt Down in Johannesburg as the Police Look On May 30 2010

On Saturday one Landless People's Movement activist was killed, another
seriously injured and many more beaten and arrested in a viscous police
attack in the eTwatwa settlement in Johannesburg. Early on Sunday morning
the homes of two LPM activists were burnt down as the attack on LPM
degenerated into what threatens to become a full fledged ethnic pogrom in
the settlement.

There are striking parallels with the attack on Abahlali baseMjondolo
(AbM) in Durban late last year. AbM and LPM have quite different modes of
internal organising but work closely together and are both, along with the
Western Cape Anti-Eviction Campaign and the Rural Network, part of the
Poor People's Alliance. LPM also has links to the Zabalaza Anarchist
Communist Front.

Landless People's Movement eTwatwa
Emergency Press Statement Sunday 30 May 2010

The Homes of Two LPM Leaders are Burnt in eTwatwa as the Police Look On

Early this morning the shacks of two members of the Landless People's
Movement (LPM) Executive Committee in eTwatwa, Ekurhuleni, were burnt

After the police attacked the LPM yesterday, killing one person and
seriously injuring another, David Mathontsi, chairperson of the new LPM
branch on eTwatwa, went to the Far East Hospital to visit the wounded.
While he was away from his home the supporters of the local ward
councillor went to his shack looking for him and his wife. They pointed at
his children with a gun. David did not return to his shack and managed to
get his children out.

At 2:30 this morning David received a call to say that the councillor's
supporters had returned to his shack with the police. David's younger
brother was looking after the shack. He was shot at but managed to escape
after which the shack was burnt down by the councillor's supporters as the
police looked on. David and his family have lost everything that they own.

The group, still with police protection, then burnt down the shack of
another member of the LPM Executive Committee in eTwatwa. After that they
began to go door to door, still with the police, looking for all the
Tsonga people and driving them out. What started as an attack on LPM
turned into an attack on all the Tsonga people in the settlement. The
attack on LPM turned into a kind of xenophobia. The LPM is not an ethnic
organisation and its Executive Committee in eTwatwa is very mixed.

The secretary of the LPM in eTwatwa was arrested. She is an old woman. As
the police arrested her they hit her with the butts of their guns and with
their boots. They also seriously assaulted the LPM youth as they arrested

The leadership of the LPM in eTwatwa are all arrested, in hospital, dead
or in hiding.

What is happening in eTwatwa has some clear similarities with the attack
on Abahlali baseMjondolo in the Kennedy Road settlement in Durban in
September last year.

For more information and comment on the ongoing events in eTwatwa please
contact David Mathontsi, Chairperson of the eTwatwa Landless People's
Movement on .

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Parole Letters for Jalil Muntaqim and Robert Seth Hayes

From: "Political Prisoner News"
Date: Mon, May 24, 2010

Both Jalil and Seth are requesting letters to the parole board.
Letters for Jalil must be received by the Parole Board no later than June

Seth has actually postponed his upcoming parole hearing, as he is
pursuing an Article 78 appeal of his last denial. However, he would
still like people to write letters to the parole board, as they can
be used in the appeal as well.

If you have not already done so, please sign the online petition for
Jalil before forwarding to your listserves.

Jalil June 2010 Parole Hearing
June 10, 2010 Deadline!

Jalil is asking that we write letters to the parole board supporting
his request (Re: Parole application of Anthony Jalil Bottom
#77A4283). Please address the letter to:

Ms. Andrea W. Evans
Board of Parole Chairwoman
New York State Division of Parole
97 Central Avenue, 4th floor
Albany, NY 12206

and cc to:
Mr. Mark Saben
Facility Parole Officer 1
Auburn Correctional Facility
P.O. Box 618, Auburn, NY 13021

And also send a copy to: NYC Jericho, P.O. Box 1272, New York, NY 10013

The more personal and individual your letter is, the better. You can
write about visiting or communicating with Jalil, or if you haven't
been in direct touch with him, you can write about the articles
you've read by him or any other knowledge you have of his activities
while in prison. Please say that you are aware of the case for which
he is serving his sentence. You can also talk about your own
perspective; for example, if you are a teacher, you know how valuable
it is that Jalil has counseled young prisoners. Any particular slant
you can give to your assertion that he will be an excellent candidate
for release can give the letter more force.

To check out some of Jalil's achievements while incarcerated, please
click here!

You can also sign the online petition for Jalil by clicking here!

Robert Seth Hayes June 2010 Parole Hearing

Seth is also asking that we write letters to the parole board
supporting his request. Please address the letter to the Parole
Commissioners (Re: Parole application of Robert Seth Hayes #74A2280)
but send to:

Cheryl L. Kates, Esq.,
P.O. Box 711,
Honeoye, NY 14471

Robert Seth Hayes is a U.S. political prisoner and former member of
the Black Panther Party who has been imprisoned in New York state for
more than three and a half decades. When Seth was convicted in 1974,
his sentence was 25 years to life. The implicit understanding at the
time of his sentencing was that Seth would serve 25 years as a
minimum, after which time he would be eligible for release based on
his record and conduct in prison.

In June 2010 Seth will be going before the parole board for the
seventh time. At each of Seth's previous parole hearings, he was
denied release due to the serious nature of the crime he was
convicted of and given another two years in jail. The refusal of
parole for the serious nature of the crime seems contrary to the
spirit of the law, for it is something that a prisoner can never
change, and the giving of parole is based upon the prisoner's
behavior while behind bars.

Seth is not the only one being subjected to these unfair rules. This
has become common practice for the New York state parole board, who,
by denying parole based on the seriousness of the conviction, are de
facto re-sentencing many prisoners to life in prison without the
possibility of parole.

Seth's prison record is exemplary, and if a decision about Seth's
parole were to be based on his conduct and personal growth, he would
have rejoined his family and his community years ago.

Please write a letter to the parole board to let them know that you
think Seth deserves to be released. Write your own letter, or use the sample letter.

If you have a personal relationship with Seth, please consider
writing about this relationship in your letter. If you work with a
community organization or union, have a professional job, or are a
rock star, please consider mentioning this in your letter (or writing
on letterhead, etc.).

If you decide to personalize your letter, you may choose to include
information drawn from the short biography, where some
of Seth's accomplishments are highlighted.

More information about Seth can be found on a web page that has been
put together by his supporters at

Peter Erlinder arrested by Rwandan government, call for his release

Peter Erlinder is a long time people's attorney and former president of the
National Lawyers Guild. In addition to defending political prisoners here
and abroad he also represents prisoners and the victims of police misconduct
here in the US.

Peter has been arrested by the Rwandan government under that countries'
genocide law for defending unpopular defendants. The NLG press release is
attached. I am pasting it below in case the attachment is lost. Please take
a minute to CALL the numbers below, especially the state department and the
white house.

National Lawyers Guild Demands Immediate Release of Attorney Peter Erlinder

Vigorous Legal Advocate Arrested in Rwanda

For Immediate Release: May 28, 2010

Contact: David Gespass, 205-566-2530

Heidi Boghosian, 917-239-4999

New York-The National Lawyers Guild (NLG) demands the immediate release of
its former president, Professor Peter Erlinder, whom Rwandan Police arrested
early today on charges of "genocide ideology." He had traveled to Rwanda's
capital, Kigali, on May 23, to join the defense team of Rwandan presidential
candidate Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza. Erlinder is reportedly being
interrogated at the Rwandan Police Force's Kacyiru headquarters.

"Professor Erlinder has been acting in the best tradition of the legal
profession and has been a vigorous advocate in his representation of
Umuhoza. There can be no justice for anyone if the state can silence lawyers
for defendants whom it dislikes and a government that seeks to prevent
lawyers from being vigorous advocates for their clients cannot be trusted.
The entire National Lawyers Guild is honored by his membership and his
courageous advocacy," said David Gespass, the Guild's president.

Erlinder traveled to Kigali after attending the Second International
Criminal Defense Lawyers' Conference in Brussels. Since his arrival in
Kigali, the state-sponsored Rwandan media has been highly critical of

The Rwandan Parliament adopted the "Law Relating to the Punishment of the
Crime of Genocide Ideology" (Genocide Ideology Law), on July 23, 2008. It
defines genocide ideology broadly, requires no link to any genocidal act,
and can be used to include a wide range of legitimate forms of expression,
prohibiting speech protected by international conventions such as the
Genocide Convention of 1948 and the International Covenant on Civil and
Political Rights 1966.

Sarah Erlinder, Arizona attorney and NLG member said, "My father has made a
career defending unpopular people and unpopular speech-and is now being held
because of his representation of unpopular clients and analysis of an
historical narrative that the Kagame regime considers inconvenient. We can
help defend his rights now by drawing U.S. government and media attention to
his situation and holding the Rwandan government accountable for his

Before leaving for Brussels and then Kigali, Professor Erlinder notified the
U.S. State Department, his Minnesota Congressional Representative Betty
McCullom, Representative Keith Ellison, and Minnesota Senators Al Franken
and Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar.

Professor Erlinder is a professor of law at the William Mitchell College of
Law. He is a frequent litigator and consultant, often pro bono, in cases
involving the death penalty, civil rights, claims of government and police
misconduct, and criminal defense of political activists. He is also a
frequent news commentator. Erlinder was president of the National Lawyers
Guild from 1993-1997, and is a current board member of the NLG Foundation.
He has been a defense attorney at the UN International Criminal Tribunal for
Rwanda since 2003.

The National Lawyers Guild, founded in 1937, is the oldest and largest
public interest/human rights bar organization in the United States. Its
headquarters are in New York and it has chapters in every state.

Call and demand the immediate release of Professor Peter Erlinder:

Senator Al Franken

(202) 224-5641

Or send an email at

Senator Amy Klobuchar


Fax: 202-228-2186

Or send an email at

Representative Keith Ellison


Or send an email at

Representative Betty McCullom

(202) 225-6631

Fax: (202) 225-1968

Or send an email at


From: []
Sent: Saturday, May 29, 2010 11:30
Subject: [MLTF] Fwd: [necdiscussion] Free Peter Erlinder--Keep the


This is immediate and critical. Peter is in serious jeopardy in a Rwandan
jail. The embassy and State Department insist all they can do is provide
consular services and they cannot interfere in Rwanda's internal affairs. We
cannot and must not allow them to slide on this nonsense. They have already
been flooded with calls from NLG members and we need to keep it up. My
apologies if you have already seen this, but it warrants being reminded.

David Gespass


Sent: 5/29/2010 9:47:43 A.M. Central Daylight Time
Subj: [necdiscussion] Free Peter Erlinder--Keep the Pressure On!

*The U.S. Embassy has **initially indicated that the case of Peter Erlinder,
former NLG president who was arrested this morning in Rwanda, is a "local

We do not believe that this is an intractable position!

It is critical that we mobilize a large number of people to call and fax
urging Peter Erlinder's release. We know nothing about the conditions under
which he is being held.*

Please contact your local representatives* and (urge them to) demand they
pressure to the U.S. Embassy in Rwanda to release Peter immediately.

*Call the White House*:

*Call Secretary of State Hillary Clinton*

Secy of State Hillary Clinton
(202) 647-9572

State Department Main Switchboard
TTY:1-800-877-8339 (Federal Relay Service)


Senator Al Franken: (202) 224-5641


Senator Amy Klobuchar: 202-224-3244

Fax: 202-228-2186

Email at

Representative Keith Ellison: 202-225-4755

Email at

Representative Betty McCullom: (202) 225-6631

Fax: (202) 225-1968

Email at

Hotline for American Travelers:
Public Communication Division:
Bureau of African affairs

Main fax number for bureau of African affairs: Fax: 202-647-6301

Johnny Carson - Africa foreign relations committee
Phone: 202-647-2530
Fax: 202-647-0838

Rwanda embassy (NY):

Telephone: +1 212 679 9010 or 1 212 679 9023
Fax: +1 212 679 9133

Stephen J. Rapp war crimes ambassador
Phone: 202-647-6051
Fax: 202-736-4495

Susan Rice, US AMB to the UN
Accredited Journalists: 212-415-4050
Opinion & Comment line: 212-415-4062
Fax: 212-415-4053

Rwanda Mission to the UN in USA:
phone: +1 212 679 9010 or 1 212 679 9023
Fax: +1 212 679 9133

Amb. James Kimonyo
1714 New Hampshire NW
Washington, DC 20009
Tel: 202-232-2882

Fax: 202-232-4544

Friday, May 28, 2010

The Torture of Ameer Makhoul

Lawyers Say Spying Confession Inadmissible


A leading human rights activist from Israel’s Palestinian Arab minority was charged yesterday with the most serious security offences on Israel’s statute book, including espionage.

Prosecutors indicted Ameer Makhoul, the head of Ittijah, an umbrella organisation for Arab human rights groups in Israel, with spying on security facilities on behalf of Hizbollah after an alleged meeting with one of its agents in Denmark in 2008.

Mr Makhoul, who had been held incommunicado by Israel’s secret police, the Shin Bet, for much of the time since his arrest three weeks ago, appeared in court and pleaded not guilty. In his first public statement, he told the court: “The Shin Bet controls the Israeli justice system.”

As a gag order was lifted on the case, his lawyers said Mr Makhoul had been tortured during his detention, including being told by interrogators that they would leave him “disabled”. The three lawyers said he had been forced to make a false confession, which they would argue was inadmissible.

Mr Makhoul’s arrest had angered many in Israel’s Palestinian minority, nearly a fifth of the population, who suspect he is being persecuted for his leading role in promoting internationally the boycott movement against Israel and his prominent opposition to Israel’s attack on Gaza nearly 18 months ago.

He has been backed by human rights groups abroad, including Amnesty International, which declared him a prisoner of conscience and accused Israel of “pure harassment”.

Mr Makhoul’s brother, Issam, a former MP for a joint Jewish-Arab party, told Israel Radio yesterday that Mr Makhoul had been threatened by the Shin Bet back in January 2009, shortly after he organised protests against the Gaza attack. The Shin Bet had told him that they would frame him and “make him disappear”, Issam Makhoul said.

Mr Makhoul’s wife, Janan, who saw her husband in court for the first time since he had been arrested, said he was in constant pain and had impaired vision. She added: “He is very exhausted and he told me about the torture he underwent in his interrogation. Thirty-six hours without sleep tied to a chair stuck to the floor.”

Mr Makhoul, 52, is charged with assistance to the enemy in a time of war, conspiracy to assist an enemy, aggravated espionage and contact with a foreign agent. According to the indictment, he passed on “strategic intelligence” to Hizbollah agents on at least 10 occasions via encrypted e-mails.

The militant Lebanese group is said to have used Mr Makhoul, whose organisation is based in the northern city of Haifa, to provide information on security installations in the north.

Mr Makhoul is alleged to have provided details of the locations of two Shin Bet facilities, a Mossad office, a military base and a Rafael armaments factory, as well as trying unsuccessfully to gather information on the security arrangements of Benjamin Netanyahu, the prime minister, and Ehud Barak, the defence minister.

A senior Shin Bet officer told the liberal Haaretz newspaper: “Part of the information that Makhoul transferred could be delivered by anyone with a pair of eyes and Google Earth [a computer program providing satellite images]. But Makhoul, as an Israeli Arab, has freedom of movement and access across Israel.”

Prosecutors also accused him of passing on the names of six Israelis as potential spies and providing analysis of trends in Israeli politics and society.

Hizbullah, prosecutors suggested, was especially keen to learn about its success in hitting Israeli security installations with rockets during its military confrontation with Israel in 2006.

In a related case, Omar Said, 50, a pharmacologist and political activist, was charged yesterday in a Nazareth court with contacting and transferring information to Hizbollah after meeting an agent in the Sinai resort of Sharm El Sheikh. He denied the allegations and said he too had been forced into making a confession.

Hassan Jaja, a Lebanese businessman living in Jordan, is alleged to have initiated contacts between Hizbollah and Mr Said and Mr Makhoul.

The Adalah legal centre, which represents Mr Makhoul, said his indictment was based on a confession extracted during nearly two weeks in which he was denied a lawyer, kept in a small isolation cell, deprived of sleep and food, and shackled in a painful position to a small chair.

The combination of methods, known in Hebrew as the “Shabeh”, created high levels of mental stress and acute, continuous physical pain, said Abir Baker, a lawyer with Adalah. The interrogation method violates international law and was banned by Israel’s supreme court in 1999.

Hasan Jabareen, head of Adalah, said that, when Mr Makhoul complained of serious pain, the interrogators tied him even tighter, threatening that he would be “left disabled”.

Issam Makhoul said the family was concerned that the court had denied his lawyers the right to see a medical report from a state physician who visited him twice during his interrogation.

Ms Baker said recent amendments to Israel’s security laws had given the Shin Bet “dangerous powers” to deny suspects the right to see a lawyer for up to 21 days, with limited judicial oversight.

Such powers were being used almost exclusively against Palestinian citizens held in detention, she said, though the state had refused to provide figures on how frequently the law was being employed.

She said, during periods when suspects could not see a lawyer, interrogators were more likely to use illegal torture methods.

A report by the Abu Dhabi-based National newspaper in January 2009 supports Issam Makhoul’s claim that his brother was threatened in an earlier Shin Bet interrogation. Mr Makhoul told the paper at the time that a Shin Bet officer “called me a rebel threatening the security of the state during time of war and said he would be happy to transfer me to Gaza”.

Mr Makhoul’s case, said Mohammed Zeidan, head of the Human Rights Association in Nazareth, had left everyone in Israel’s human rights community “afraid”. “The Shin Bet wanted to take him out of the game and they have succeeded,” he said. “Ameer has been disappeared.”

Mr Zeidan added that the case had strong echoes of what he called recent “unwarranted legal assaults” by the Shin Bet on two other Palestinian leaders in Israel.

Sheikh Raed Salah, of the popular Islamic Movement, was arrested in 2003 and spent two years in jail awaiting trial on charges of assisting a terror organisation before he was released in a plea bargain in which he admtted only financial misdemeanours.

Since 2007 Azmi Bishara, the leader of the Balad party, has been in exile after he was accused of espionage while out of the country. Critics say the Shin Bet effectively silenced him without having to produce evidence.

“It has become clear over the past few years that this could happen to any of us,” he said.

On Wednesday, in a related development, the parliament passed the first reading of a “loyalty bill”, introduced by the far-right Yisrael Beiteinu party, that would strip anyone found guilty of espionage of their citizenship.

Jonathan Cook is a writer and journalist based in Nazareth, Israel. His latest books are “Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East” (Pluto Press) and “Disappearing Palestine: Israel's Experiments in Human Despair” (Zed Books). His website is

Boy killed at Vietnam refinery protest

by Ian Timberlake Ian Timberlake – Wed May 26, 2010

HANOI (AFP) – A boy was killed and a man left in critical condition when
violence broke out during a protest at the site of a planned oil refinery
in northern Vietnam, residents and hospital officials said Wednesday.

The incident occurred Tuesday more than 150 kilometres (90 miles) south of
Hanoi on land designated for the Nghi Son oil refinery.

Land disputes and complaints that residents have been cheated out of
compensation have become the most common cause of protests in Vietnam, a
mainly rural country that is rapidly industrialising.

In the latest incident, women, children and the elderly had been among
those demonstrating peacefully for three days to protest "unfair"
compensation they had received for their land, a 68-year-old retired
government worker said.

He blamed police for the death in Tuesday's clashes, explaining that he
had covered the boy's face with a cloth as residents carried the body

"I could not say whether he was shot or beaten to death. But I can confirm
that he was killed during a clash, and he was killed because of the
police," said the retired government worker, who declined to be named.

A groundbreaking ceremony occurred two years ago for the
6.2-billion-dollar refinery, a joint venture between state-owned Vietnam
Oil and Gas Corp (PetroVietnam), Japan's Idemitsu Kosan Co and Mitsui
Chemicals Inc, and Kuwait Petroleum International.

The refinery, the country's second, was due to be operational by 2013,
officials said at the time, although it was not clear how far construction
had got.

On Tuesday evening angry residents descended on the home of the local
government's chairman, causing damage inside the house and burning two
motorcycles, the 68-year-old said.

Local government officials were not immediately available for comment.
District police confirmed that an incident had occurred Tuesday but gave
no details. "This case is under investigation," an officer said.

A 60-year-old woman cited witnesses from her family as saying that a
policeman had shot the child in the stomach, wounded a woman's hand and
shot a man in the head. The boy was reportedly 12 years old.

The wounded man was in critical condition, according to an administrator
at the main hospital in the northern province of Thanh Hoa.

The Dan Tri online news site quoted the province's head of public
security, Dong Dai Loc, as saying one person had died and two were wounded
in the clashes.

The 68-year-old retired government worker said: "They did not do anything
wrong. They remained calm, while there had always been hundreds of police,
uniformed and plainclothes, watching them."

The online news site printed what it said was a police
statement about the incident. It said some people threw bricks and stones
at police, who fired a warning before "extremists" tried to take the
police gun. The statement did not clarify who fired the fatal shot.

The retired government worker said things were quiet on Wednesday after
local officials went into hiding but tensions could flare again "if the
authorities do not deal with the situation properly".

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Lynne Stewart and the Guantanamo Lawyers

Lynne Stewart and the Guantanamo Lawyers: Same Fact Patterns, Same
Opponent, Different Endings?

By Ralph Poynter

In the Spring of 2002, Lynne Stewart was arrested by the FBI, at her
home in Brooklyn, for materially aiding terrorism by virtue of
making a public press release to Reuters on behalf of her client,
Sheik Abdel Omar Rahman of Egypt. This was done after she had signed
a Special Administrative Measure issued by the Bureau of Prisons not
permitting her to communicate with the media, on his behalf.

In 2006, a number of attorneys appointed and working pro bono for
detainees at Guantanamo were discovered to be acting in a manner that
disobeyed a Federal Judge's protective court order. The adversary in
both cases was the United States Department of Justice. The results
in each case were very different.

In March of 2010, a right wing group "Keep America Safe" led by Lynn
Cheyney, hoping to dilute Guantanamo representation and impugn the
reputations and careers of the volunteer lawyers, launched a
campaign. Initially they attacked the right of the detainees to be
represented at all. This was met with a massive denouncement by
Press, other media, Civil rights organizations ,and rightly so, as
being a threat to the Constitution and particularly the Sixth
Amendment right to counsel.

A second attack on the Gitmo lawyers was made in the Wall Street
Journal of March 16. This has been totally ignored in the media and
by civil and human rights groups. This latter revelation about the
violations, by these lawyers, of the Judge's protective orders and
was revealed via litigation and the Freedom of Information
Act. These pro bono lawyers serving clients assigned to them at
Gitmo used privileged attorney client mail to send banned
materials. They carried in news report of US failures in
Afghanistan and Iraq . One lawyer drew a map of the prison. Another
delivered lists to his client of all the suspects held there. They
placed on the internet a facsimile of the badges worn by the Guards.
Some lawyers "provided news outlets with 'interviews' of their
clients using questions provided in advance by the news
organizations." When a partner at one of the large Wall Street law
firms sent in multiple copies of an Amnesty International brochure,
which her client was to distribute to other prisoners, she was
relieved from her representation and barred by the Military Commander
from visiting her client.

This case is significant to interpret not because of the right wing
line to punish these lawyers and manipulate their corporate clients
to stop patronizing such "wayward" firms. Instead it is
significant because, Lynne Stewart, a left wing progressive
lawyer who had dedicated her thirty year career to defending the
poor, the despised, the political prisoner and those ensnared by
reason of race, gender, ethnicity, religion , who was dealt with by
the same Department of Justice, in such a draconian fashion, confirms
our deepest suspicions that she was targeted for prosecution and
punishment because of who she is and who she represented so ably and
not because of any misdeed.

Let me be very clear, I am not saying that the Gitmo lawyers acted in
any "criminal" manner. The great tradition of the defense bar is to
be able to make crucial decisions for and with the client without
interference by the adversary Government.

I believe that they were acting as zealous attorneys trying to
establish rapport and trust with their clients. That said, the moment
the Department of Defense and the Department of Justice tried to
remove Julia Tarver Mason from her client, the playing field
tilted. Ms Tarver Mason was not led out of her home in handcuffs to
the full glare of publicity. There was no press conference. The
Attorney General did not go on the David Letterman show to gloat
about the latest strike in the War on Terror, the purge of the Gitmo

Instead an "armada" of corporate lawyers went to Court against the
Government. They, in the terms of the litigation trade, papered the
US District Courthouse in Washington D.C. They brought to bear the
full force of their Money and Power-- derived from the corporate
world--and in 2006 "settled" the case with the government, restoring
their clients to Guantanamo without any punishment at all, not to say
any Indictment. Lynne Stewart, without corporate connections and
coming from a working class background, was tried and convicted
for issuing, on behalf of her client, a public press release to
Reuters. There was no injury, no harm, no attacks, no deaths.

Yet that same Department of Justice that dealt so favorably and
capitulated to the Gitmo corporate lawyers, wants to sentence Lynne
Stewart to thirty (30) YEARS in prison. It is the equivalent of
asking for a death sentence since she is 70 years old.

This vast disparity in treatment between Lynne and the Gitmo lawyers
reveals the deep contradictions of the system --those who derive
power from rich and potent corporations, those whose day to day work
maintains and increases that power--are treated differently. Is it
because the Corporate Power is intertwined with Government Power???

Lynne Stewart deserves Justice... equal justice under law. Her
present sentence of 28 months incarceration (she is in Federal
Prison) should at least be maintained, if not made equal to the
punishment that was meted out to the Gitmo lawyers. The thirty year
sentence, assiduously pursued by DOJ under both Bush and Obama, is an
obscenity and an affront to fundamental fairness. They wanted to
make her career and dedication to individual clients, a warning, to
the defense bar that the Government can arrest any lawyer on any
pretext. The sharp contrasts between the cases of Lynne and the
Gitmo lawyers just confirm that she is getting a raw deal--one that
should be protested actively, visibly and with the full force of
our righteous resistance.

Lynne Stewart will be re sentenced sometime in July, in NYC.

Ralph Poynter is the Life partner of Lynne Stewart. He is presently
dedicated 24/7 to her defense, as well as other causes.

Upcoming Events from the Scott and Carrie Support Committee

In this update:
1. Dinner for Scott tomorrow!
2. 06/06: Ssshh! Secret Café to benefit SCSC
3. 06/24: Prison Justice PMA at the US Social Forum
4. 07/23: Day of Solidarity w/ Scott DeMuth
5. 07/25-08/25: Midwest Conspiracy Tour!
In this update:
1. Dinner for Scott tomorrow!
2. 06/06: Ssshh! Secret Café to benefit SCSC
3. 06/24: Prison Justice PMA at the US Social Forum
4. 07/23: Day of Solidarity w/ Scott DeMuth
5. 07/25-08/25: Midwest Conspiracy Tour!

1. Dinner for Scott tomorrow!
* When: Tuesday, May 25th, 6:30pm
* Where: PPNA Building, 821 E. 35th St., Minneapolis
It’s time for a pizza dinner! SCSC members will be hosting a delicious pizza dinner
(vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free options will be available) to raise funds,
awareness, and full belly feelings to support Scott. All donations will go to the
legal defense fund.

2. 06/06: Ssshh! Secret Café to benefit SCSC
* When: Sunday, June 6, 10am-2pm
* Where: Somewhere in Mpls! Ask yer friends…
Word on the street is that a scrumptious brunch will be served on Sunday, June 6th.
Pancakes, waffles, tofu scramble, bloody marys, mimosas, coffee, tea, various kinds
of bread, live music could all be there waiting for you, but you didn’t hear that
from us. All donations will go to the legal defense fund.

3. 06/24: Prison Justice PMA at the US Social Forum
SCSC is co-sponsoring a People’s Movement Assembly at the US Social Forum this June
in Detroit (info at: Here’s the description:

The U.S. is a prison empire: racist mass incarceration, political repression,
torture and widespread criminalization. The organizations struggling against this
state violence have been limited by geographic isolation, generational gaps and the
sheer amount of work to be done. Although we face particular challenges by region or
circumstance, we share a vision of justice and solidarity against confinement and
control. This Assembly would be a vital step in making our work more national in
scope and more coordinated in action. Organizations involved in anti-prison and
prisoner support work will identify points of unity and plan shared actions. These
include greater coordination in regional campaigns around shared issues and a
national strategy of action for prison justice groups that unites our diverse
campaigns. Largely through small group discussions, this Assembly will serve as the
culmination for a number of proposed workshops that address imprisonment and
repression. The Assembly will emphasize strategic areas of collaboration and
resistance to racist and political repression. It is organized by a network of
groups organizing against prisons and the drug war, in support of political
prisoners and formerly incarcerated people.

4. 07/23: Day of Solidarity w/ Scott DeMuth
…start planning now!
* When: Friday, July 23rd
* Where: Your town
We’re putting out a call for events around the nation to show solidarity with Scott
as he prepares for trial in September. Host a fundraiser…a concert, a house party, a
movie screening, a brunch, a play. Do something creative…street theater, a puppet
show, an art auction. Stage a rally. Convene a panel of speakers. Whatever you want.

Anything you can do to raise awareness of Scott’s case and to help us raise money
for his legal defense will be amazing and ever so greatly appreciated. Email us at
scottandcarrie [at] riseup [dot] net to let us know what you have planned!

5. 07/25-08/25: Midwest Conspiracy Tour!

SCSC is excited to be teaming up with the RNC 8 Defense Committee, supporters of
Hugh and Tiga and friends to bring The Conspiracy to your town! Featuring
presentations about all three of these cases and upcoming trials, as well as
information about AETA, grand juries, dealing with state repression, legal
trainings, and more, this will be a roadshow to remember even before you read about
it in your FBI file.

The tour will be running from July 25th to August 25th, and will be going around the
country. Tentative dates and locations are here:
*Winona July 25
*Madison J26
*Milwaukee J27
*Chicago J28
*Cleveland J29
*Pittsburgh July 30 + 31
*Buffalo August 1
*Philly A3
*DC A4
*Carrboro A5 + 6
*Asheville A7
*Lexington A8
*Bloomington A9
*St Louis A10
*Omaha A11
*Denver A12
*Salt Lake City A13
*Bay Area A14 +15
*Santa Cruz A16
*Arcata A17 [we need contacts here--do you know any?]
*Portland A18
*Tacoma A19
*Seattle A20
*Rock Island A23
*Iowa City A24
*Minneapolis A25

Flyers, a website and a more detailed announcement will be coming out soon. For more
information, questions, or whatever singularities, email midwestconspiracy (at)
gmail (dot) com.

For more about the RNC 8, visit
For more about Hugh and Tiga, visit

We’re looking forward to seeing you!

Chicago: Jail Jon Burge, Terrorist Cop

For over twenty years Chicago cops led by former police Commander Jon Burge beat and tortured prisoners, Blacks and Latinos with complete impunity. After years of people's struggle a special prosecutor ruled in 2006 that Burge and several detectives under his leadership tortured more than 100 suspects into confessing to crimes through beatings, electric shock and other heinous methods between 1972 and 1991 while in custody at either Area 2 or Area 3.

The city of Chicago, it should be noted, spent millions of taxpayers dollars defending Burge and his crew.

Burge is finally is set to go on trial this month. Of course, that may change. However, at this time a rally has been called on that day to demand that Burge be locked up once and for all. If you are in or near Chicago you ought to be there.

Did I mention that twenty of those tortured are still sitting in jail trying appeal.

The following is from South Side Chicago Anti-Racist Action.

Jon Burge Faces Protests During Torture Trial

As notoriously racist and corrupt former CPD Detective Jon Burge goes to trial, community groups and the recently exonerated are organizing protests to give Burge a Chicago welcome:

Jail Cops Who Torture! Retrials for Their Victims! Cut Their Pensions!

Over 20 years of terror, Police Cdr. Jon Burge and his “Midnight Crew” tortured 200+ Latino and African American men and their children to obtain confessions. 20 of these victims are still incarcerated, hoping to be re-tried. Burge has been evading justice since ‘93 and the City of Chicago has spent over $10 MILLION in taxpayer dollars paying for his defense even after the Police Department Review Board ruled that he was guilty of using torture! Take A Stand Against Torture on May 24th, 2010* @ Daley Plaza (55 W Randolph St) 8:30-10AM *Trial date may change. Visit for more info.
* Spread the word: Facebook event and Flyer: JPG or PDF
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Jail Jon Burge Committee Calls for Justice on May 24
Taking a stand against torture, the Jail Jon Burge Committee urges the residents of Illinois to join in a cry for justice from 8:30 to 10:00am on May 24, 2010. The event will signal the commencement of the trial of former Chicago Police Department Commander Jon Burge, accused of perjury and obstruction of justice during a civil suit related to torture.
The event will feature appearances by victims who were tortured during Jon Burge’s tenure as commander, as well as their families. Speakers will include Mark Clements, Marvin Reaves and Nick Escamilla, who are all victims of Burge’s torture regime. Attorney Flint Taylor, renowned advocate for police torture victims, and 21st Ward Alderman Howard Brookins, fierce public advocate, will also appear.
The group has three demands, which include new trials by all who have alleged they have experienced police torture; cessation of pensions of all those who engaged in torture, as identified by the Special Prosecutor’s review; and indictment, trial, and imprisonment for all those found guilty of perjury related to their role in torture. United with organizations across Chicago, the Committee will advocate on behalf of these victims, their families, and Chicago taxpayers, who continue to bear the financial burden of Burge’s defense costs.
In 1993, the Police Department Review Board determined that Jon Burge had used torture to obtain confessions between the years of 1972 and 1991, torturing an alleged 200 African American and Latino suspects. Following an investigation by a special prosecutor that concluded in 2006, Burge was found to have committed torture in multiple instances. Due to the statute of limitations on torture crimes, however, Jon Burge and his “Midnight Crew” were never indicted for their offenses. The trial of Burge for perjury and obstruction of justice related to the special prosecutor’s investigation marks the first time that Burge will be held accountable for even a fraction of the crimes that he has committed.
The Committee urges all interested and concerned parties to join them in their cry for justice at the May 24 Event. Groups wishing to endorse the event should contact the Committee by calling 312-939-2750 or by emailing contact (at)

jon burge goes on trial in chicago Police Terrorism is as Amerikkkan as Apple Pie.

Street Visuals May 27, 2010

A former police commander accused of overseeing the torture of more than 100 African American men goes on trial today in Chicago. Former Lieutenant Jon Burge is accused of lying when he denied in a civil lawsuit that he and other detectives had tortured anyone. He faces a maximum of forty-five years in prison if convicted of all charges. The accusations of torture date back forty years, but Burge has avoided prosecution until now. Go here for more on this.

In a seperate, yet related story, Seattle police are investigating whether members of their department tried to influence Q13 Fox into not running video of a Gang Unit detective telling a man he'd "beat the (expletive) Mexican piss" out of him before stomping him. A former employee of Q13 told Stranger reporter Dominic Holden that the station got preferential treatment from Seattle police while news editors would overlook stories that were unflattering to law enforcement. A current employee told Holden the station's official statement about why they sat on the video for three weeks was a total lie. Go here for all of that.

Artwork of Antonio Guerrero Brightens up a Former Jail

International Committee for the Freedom of the Cuban Five
May 26, 2010

It is hard to think of a more appropriate venue for the art exhibit
of Antonio Guerrero, one of the Cuban Five imprisoned in the US, than
the Social and Public Art Resource Center (SPARC) in Venice
California. The art facility was formerly the Venice jail that held
prisoners from 1929 until the early 1970's. Judy Baca, renowned
artist and founder of SPARC, made the jail its headquarters in 1977
and "liberated" the space for the arts.

From May 22 - June 11 the front of the SPARC facility will display a
huge banner with an iconic image, taken by Cuban photographer Liborio
Nidal and painted by Antonio, hanging on it as a powerful symbol of
resistance announcing the works of Antonio being exhibited inside.

The small cell inside the gallery provided a distinctive touch for
the exhibit entitled "From My Altitude". Over 150 people attended
opening night and were able to appreciate a prisoner's shirt hanging
inside the cell, mimicking one of the painting's of Antonio. Those
attending the opening entered the cell and signed postcards to
President Obama asking for the immediate release of the Cuban Five.

The gallery opened its door at 7:30 pm on Saturday and right away a
numerous audience poured into a reception area and then to the
gallery that filled it to its capacity. Judy Baca gave the welcoming
and explained the struggle that SPARC is currently enduring to save
its historical building from budget cuts coming down from the City of
Los Angeles. At her side was Debra Padilla, SPARC's Executive
Director, and known Hollywood actor Edward Asner.

Many people were motivated to come primarily to enjoy an art exhibit
and to hear Mr. Asner, only to be shocked and outraged to learn for
the first time about the case of the Cuban Five.

The reception was followed by a program at Beyond Baroque, a Literary
Arts Center Theater next door, that was formerly the Venice City Hall
which included the projecting of the evening's program to the outside
patio wall for the over flow crowd.

Suzanne Thompson, from the International Committee for the Freedom of
the Cuban Five, produced and mc'd the program. Thompson first
introduced a documentary-in progress on terrorism against Cuba by
film maker Saul Landau and Jack Willis entitled "Will the Real
Terrorists Please Stand Up".

The documentary was followed by a pre-recorded message by Danny
Glover, who was absent due to the filming of a movie in Nigeria.
Glover read two letters between Adriana Perez and Gerardo Hernandez
and the story of a small bird saved by Gerardo in the high security
prison in Victorville California. This short story offers just a
glimpse into the human quality of Gerardo and his four brothers. (See
link below)

Alicia Jrapko the US Coordinator of the International Committee gave
an update on the case and invited people to get involved. In
reference to the prison shirt painted by Antonio, Jrapko ended her
presentation by saying "Let us continue our fight for justice until
the shirts of Rene, Gerardo, Fernando, Ramon and Antonio stay behind
and the return to their homeland is realized."

The program ended with actor Edward Asner, who has been an important
voice in many struggles for justice inside the United States. Asner
read two poems from Guerrero's book of poems "From My Altitude" and a
letter from the book "Letters of Love and Hope". He also talked about
the importance of continuing the struggle to free the Cuban Five.

The Shoo Flies band provided entertainment at the after party at the
Beyond Baroque backspace patio.

On Sunday May 23rd, at the SPARC and UCLA Cesar Chavez Digital Mural
Lab, Dolores Huerta, President of the Dolores Huerta Foundation and
Co-founder of the United Farm Workers Union, spoke at a brunch in
support of the rights of family visits for the Cuban Five.

After the showing of the documentary "Against the Silence" produced
by De Mano a Mano Productions, Huerta explained about the injustice
of the denial of family visits and told people that she was going to
commit herself to work harder on the case and asked others to join
her and to continue organizing until the US government grants visas
to Adriana Perez and Olga Salanueva to visit their imprisoned husbands.

Danny Glover Youtubes on the Cuban 5

The Bird and the Prisoner 6:46

Letter from Adriana to Gerardo 2:09

Letter from Gerardo to Adriana 1:02

5/28: Friends of Avelino Gonzalez Claudio Mtg

(718) 601-4751

Invitación a Reunión Constitutiva de los Amigos de Avelino – Nueva York
Invitation to Attend Founding Meeting of the Friends of Avelino – New York


Friday May 28, 2010
Viernes 28 de Mayo
St. Mary’s Episcopal Church
521 W126th St. (Btwn. Broadway and Amsterdam Ave.)
Take the 1 train to W125th St.


La Campaña – Puerto Rico, Hartford, Nueva York
The Campaign – Puerto Rico, Hartford, Nueva York

Mensaje de Comité Familiares y Amigos de Puerto Rico
Message from the Family and Friends of Puerto Rico

Video/Film: ¡Avelino!

Proposal: Meetings/Structure/Finances/Committee Needs
Propuesta: Reuniónes/Finanzas, Necesidades Organizativas

Auspicia: ProLibertad, Iglesia San Romero de las Américas, Jericho-NY, Popular
Education Project to Free the Cuban 5 – List in formation.

RSVP: (718) 601-4751


Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Lori Berenson Granted Parole in Peru

Lori and Salvador are Granted Parole!

Dear Friends and Supporters of Lori,

On May 25, 2010 a Peruvian judge, after carefully studying Lori's
application for what in Peru is termed "conditional liberty"
(parole), determined that Lori has earned her freedom. Lori and her
son Salvador will be leaving prison in a few days and moving to an
apartment in Lima.

Parole requires individuals to live within the city in which they
were incarcerated (Lima, in Lori's case) - we do not know if there
are exceptions for foreigners or whether Lori will be permitted to
travel to the US while on parole. Parole in Peru is based on good
behavior, work and study. In September 2009 Lori officially filed
her application under a Peruvian law which established eligibility
after serving 75% of her 20-sentence, less time off for work and study.

Lori appeared before the judge in court on Monday, May 17th, for a
hearing, defended by her husband, Anibal Apari Sanchez, a Lima lawyer
and candidate for Mayor of Villa El Salvador, a suburb of Lima with
over a half million inhabitants. Lori will be a single mom - Anibal
and Lori are legally separated but remain friends and both share
concerns for Salvador's proper upbringing.

Salvador, now an active one-year old boy, will certainly enjoy the
opportunity to run around outside the confines of the prison. He is
learning both English and Spanish but babbles continuously in
"unknown tongue." He is a very happy child and loves to be with people.

We want to express our gratitude to all of you for your expressions
of love and support all these years. You have truly sustained us
through some very dark hours and the dawn of a new sunny day has arrived.

With appreciation, always.

Rhoda and Mark B.

English Website:
Spanish Website:

Jailed U.S. citizen Berenson gets parole in Peru>Eduardo
Garcia and Teresa Cespedes

Tue May 25, 2010 7:29pm EDT

LIMA (Reuters) - A Peruvian court granted parole on Tuesday to Lori
Berenson, a U.S. citizen who served 15 years of a 20-year prison
sentence in Peru for aiding leftist guerrillas during the dark days
of the country's civil war.

She was imprisoned in 1995 after being pulled off a bus in Lima and
charged with being a leader of the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement
or MRTA, a leftist insurgency active in Peru in the 1980s and 1990s.

Her family always maintained that she was unfairly convicted and
never took up arms during the period of social unrest in the Andean nation.

Lawyers for the government said they would appeal, though she is
expected to be released by Wednesday following the ruling by Judge
Jessica Leon.

President Alan Garcia will visit President Barack Obama at the White
House in the coming days, although neither president has commented on
the case. Garcia's justice ministry has said it wants to deport
Berenson, but the court said she must check in with authorities once
a month in Peru, where she will work as a translator while pursuing a
dream of opening a bakery.

Wrapped in a shawl with her brown hair pulled back in a long braid, a
quiet Berenson smiled and hugged her husband after court officials
announced the decision at a prison in the Chorillos neighborhood of
Lima, where she has been living with her infant son.

"We are thrilled and so pleased that the Peruvian judge ruled that
Lori has earned her conditional liberty, as they call it in Peru,"
her mother, Rhoda Berenson, said by phone from New York. "She and her
baby can now start a new life together."

"This decision is going to be criticized, but it was well founded,"
said her husband, Anibal Apari Sanchez, a former MRTA member who is a
lawyer and represented her at the hearing. "It's legally impossible
for her to be deported."

Berenson married Apari in 2003. Inmates in Peru are allowed conjugal
visits, though court officials said the couple's romantic
relationship has ended.


Berenson, 40, a New Yorker who studied at the elite Massachusetts
Institute of Technology before moving to Latin America to work as a
human rights activist, won her release a year after giving birth to a
baby boy, Salvador.

Berenson became eligible for parole this year after serving most of
her sentence.

Shortly after she was arrested, an anonymous military court jailed
her for life. But under pressure from the United States, a civilian
court retried her and sentenced her to 20 years.

Berenson spent many years in a grim prison high in the Andes
mountains. She was transferred in early 2009 to the capital Lima to
get healthcare during her pregnancy.

At the time of her arrest, Berenson was with the wife of Nestor
Cerpa, who in 1996 led a group of MRTA rebels that took hundreds of
diplomats and government officials hostage at the>Japanese ambassador's house in Lima.

The crisis dragged on for months until then-president Alberto
Fujimori sent in commandos who had dug tunnels underneath the house.
They killed more than a dozen insurgents in a surprise raid.

The MRTA was a small rebel group compared to the Maoist Shining Path,
which launched a brutal war against the state in 1980. Over the
subsequent two decades nearly 30,000 people died in a bloody civil war.

(Additional reporting by
Wade and Marco Aquino; Editing by
Barbara and