Saturday, April 30, 2011

May 3rd: Rev. Joy Powell court date - political prisoner for resisting police abuse

from Sarah Buckley

Hey Everyone, I wanted to give folks a heads up about Rev. Joy
Powell's court date scheduled for Tuesday May 3rd at 9:30am in Albion
New York. Rev. Joy Powell was an community activist and leader and
was targeted for her outspoken stance on Police Brutality &
misconduct, Gentrification and community empowerment. Joy drew strong
connections and connected the dots that led to the dis-empowerment
and oppression of her community. In Joy's words-

"...realizing violence and poverty ran hand in hand. I began to hold
press conferences concerning my strong views of injustice..."

There will be at least 2 cars leaving from buffalo at 8 am Tuesday May 3rd.

Message Sarah Buckley or contact me if you are
interested in coming. there is room!

We need to show that people like Joy are not alone and they have support.

We'll be heading to Albion to meet other supporters of Joys from
Rochester, NYC and Albany. This will be a great oppurtunity to stand
up for those took stands the community. This kind of underhanded,
illegal targeting of activists can not be tolerated. We have to stand
together. Please come out if you are interested contact me or 886-0544 there is room!

Brandon from Malcolm X Grassroots Movement was the one who informed
me of this and if you want more information of the group of people
coming from NYC please contact.
Brandon King

for more info about Rev. Joy Powell this website

Tuesday May 3rd,
Orleans County Courthouse, 9:30AM to 5:00PM

Orleans County Courthouse
Courthouse Square
3 South Main Street
Albion, NY 14411-1497
Ph: 585.589.4457

Rev. Joy Powell is an anti-police-brutality activist in Rochester,
NY. In 2006, she was framed and sentenced to 16 years at Rochester
State Penetentiary.

The Hunger Strike is Over (Chile)

April 27th, 2011  325 Magazine

Received via email:

Today, April 26th, our partners, kidnapped in the “Bombs Case” montage,
have decided to finish -in the day #65- their hunger strike since February
21th. About the decision that they have taken, we’re waiting that the
comrades themselves write a release with their reasons, because no ‘news’
will tell us how they feel or why the hunger strike is over, if it is not
them themselves who tell us.

However, the fight for their freedom continues and now we must support
them in their recuperation after the long fast, no only materially but
morally too, as has been going on. So that the solidarity doesn’t stop.
Our forces go for them.

That the fear doesn’t destroy solidarity…
That the solidarity destroys prison.


Voices from Solitary: Colorado Department of Corrections in Need of Correction

April 30, 2011 Solitary Watch
by Jean Casella and James Ridgeway

For seven years, Clair L. Beazer has been an inmate in the supermax Colorado State Penitentiary in Cañon City–which, as we’ve written before, qualifies as the solitary confinement capital of the Western World. In this essay, Beazer describes the effects of years of solitary confinement, pointing out that while it is particularly torturous for inmates already suffering from mental illness, this “interminable, indefinite” isolation also causes lasting psychological and physical damage to all prisoners who endure it.

Beazer notes that “at long last,” some hope is offered by the bill introduced in the Colorado state legislature to limit the use of solitary confinement. In an instance of grim irony, we received his essay, written last month, just a day before lawmakers chose to back away from most meaningful portions of the bill.

In most instances the law is a simple matter of doing what you should rather than what you want. One consequence of continuing to do what you want regardless is that a conscientious legislator someplace may find it necessary to propose a law to compel you to do what you should do.

Just such a circumstance has come about in the state of Colorado’s Department of Corrections (C.D.O.C.), of whom some are known to say the reason they’re called the “Department of Corrections” is because they’re always getting it wrong.

The C.D.O.C’s execrable practice of warehousing the mentally ill in lockdown 24/7 is unconscionable. To sentence men without due process to a solitary existence in a lonely cell with only the company of their psychoses and personal demons for interminable, indefinite periods, some lasting decades would and does appear on the surface alone indefensible. To further exacerbate their evil usage by holding them thus until their mandatory release date only serves to discharge infinitely more dangerous parolees into the public.

Enduring this type of incarceration has many debilitating effects, the most common being depression with accompanying apathy and lethargy. The minimal activity and lack of meaningful exercise can atrophy their legs and some can barely walk after years of inactivity, and you can bet that there is little market for ex-cons who can’t even walk a quarter mile after release.

Then there’s the other end of the spectrum, motivated, active, angry inmates that compulsively work out 2, 4, 8 hours a day in the fashion of the hardened vengeful convict portrayed by Robert DeNiro in the movie “Cape Fear.” For months, then years, then decades, driven by their isolation, not even allowed IN PRISON to walk out of a cell without a two or three-man escort. In restrains, handcuffs, shackles, bellychains, lock-boxes. Surrounded by thick concrete walls, high fences, barbed wire, razor wire, armed tower and perimeter guards, electrified kill fences.

Ominously and inevitably their long-awaited day arrives, and when it does the C.D.O.C. dutifully, imprisoned in full restraints, escorts them to the prison gates, where and when they unleash them upon the public. Not surprisingly, their recidivism rate is exponentially and in some cases horrifyingly higher, as is their toll on society…you know, the public the C.D.O.C. ostensibly exists to defend.

The public may want to consider if perhaps the Prison Industrial Complex (of which the C.D.O.C. is definitely a part with its Incarceration Capitol of the World designation and proud title) finds it more profitable to release their home-made monsters. After all, we all know that high-profile horrific crimes can and often do drive news cycles, and have for years. Surely after all these years of high-profile horrific crimes that lead the news cycles somebody, anybody, everybody must have noticed that they drive incarceration rates.

Even so, no one is surprised that the C.D.O.C. has come out in fierce opposition to the Senate Bill 176 (introduced by Sen. Morgan Carroll, if passed the C.D.O.C would need to limit the solitary confinement of mentally ill prisoners –Denver Post, March 14, 2011) , as they claim it is because they say there is no indication officials are abusing the use of solitary confinement. Please allow me, from my true insider perspective, to disabuse you of that notion because for those of us actually in solitary confinement, we say they are abusing the over-use of solitary confinement.

They also make the preposterous claim that the average stay is 18 months. Let me tell you that those numbers are about as an off the books as C.D.O. (Collateralized Debt Obligation) at AIG. I personally have been in Ad Seg for 7 years. Let me to a survey, to my immediate right 7 years, to my left 8 years, next to him 4 years and under me 10 years. In my 7 years, I’ve only witnessed 2 men get of Ad Seg. 2!

The C.D.O.C. is in need of correction and the honorable Sen. Morgan Carroll and Rep. Claire Levy are the conscientious lawmakers trying to write another C.D.O.C. with Senate Bill 176, which is a start, a good start, at least, at long last.

I (we) don’t have much hope up here in the shameless incarceration capital of the world, and maybe, just maybe these venerable legislators can compel the C.D.O.C to stop doing what it wants and force it to begin doing what it should.

You can read an earlier essay by Clair Beazer here, and write to him at the following address: Mr. Clair L. Beazer, CSP #49801, C.C.F., Box Number 600, Canon City, CO 81215-0600.

Bristol – Stokes Croft erupts into rioting again + Telepathic Heights evicted (UK)

Friday, April 29th, 2011 325 Magazine

Rioting erupts again late at night after a demo/party against the recent police brutality – The fighting breaks out of the activist ghetto and every underdog can become an instigator, mainly due to the police causing chaos through horse charges and riot unit surges – The tension grows deeper.

One week after the Telepathic Heights raid, people gathered to fight and protest police occupation, against the wishes of the hated ‘community leaders/spokespeople’, ‘business representatives’ and other pathetic individuals pleading ‘peace’ with the class enemies.

Running battles with police riot units all the way up Cheltenham road, burning barricades in St.Pauls, trouble in Cotham, widespread disorder and violent resistance against the cops in the affected areas. 15 people are reported by mainstream media as being arrested in the disturbance.

Reports circulating that Horfield prison has also erupted in a prison riot, news of which is being suppressed. Also, a few days earlier police had suppressed a film night about the riots held in a residential area with a massive police presence, leading the film to be shown in a residents back garden.

Let’s make fighting the police a hot and fun summer delight and spread the rage into other cities – Let’s see Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool, London burning with an anti-police – anti-system fire! Ambush!

‘let’s show these bastards what a real crisis looks like.’


Telepathic Heights evicted

29 April 2011

Telepathic Heights is stormed by over 100 police, riot unit units, helicopters, district shut down again. 4 squatters have barricaded themselves onto the roof and as of writing are refusing to come down. A crowd is gathering. Police climbing team in attendance. Police snatch squads active on the ground snatching folks they don’t like the look of, under the premise that they believe them to have been involved in violent disorder. Prisoners being taken to Southmead pig sty because Trinity police station is full of last nights lot. UPDATE: OFFICIAL ARRESTS FROM THE LAST 24HRS NOW NUMBER 30

Stokes Croft Riot after massive police raid against Telepathic Heights squat in Bristol (UK)

Saturday, April 23rd, 2011

Update 24.4.11: Reports of 2 comrades remaining inside the cells in Bristol. 1 comrade from Telepathic Heights, accused of manufacture + possession of molotovs + making threats with the items, plus 1 from the street, anarchist comrade and former soldier Elijah Smith. Elijah Smith was remanded, but was since granted bail. Due to administrative incompetence he is still in prison. Write to him: James Hutton AKA Elijah Smith, 19 Cambridge Road, Horfield, BRISTOL BS7 8PS. Others arrested that night have received charges or are on bail, whilst a few have already been before the judge receiving low penalties.

April 21, 2011. 10pm. A riot starts after a 160 strong multi-regional police force coordinated assault shuts down a district and breaks down the door of a squat named ‘Telepathic Heights’ in Bristol.

The cops then violently harass local people and get attacked in return. Telepathic Heights is in the busy cultural area of Stokes Croft, Bristol, where there are many bars, cafes, squats, community projects, etc. 300 people fight the police for hours and hours in response to the police occupation of the neighbourhood. A corporate supermarket is looted and destroyed, whilst none of the other (independently-owned) shops on the streets are touched in the disturbance.

Everyone is in the streets. Barricades are lit, the cops face an anger that has not been seen for a long time. It seems like it is just beginning. Bristol has been burning now for some time… it will be a hot year of discontent.

9 people are arrested: 5 from the street, and 4 from Telepathic Heights accused of possession and manufacture of molotovs.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Jericho Amnesty Movement LA chapter mtg Sat, 2:00 PM at So Cal Library

The LA chapter of Jericho Amnesty Movement will meet tomorrow,
Saturday April 30 at 2:00 PM (following a noon meeting of the Peoples
Justice Conference planning committee) at the Southern California
Library for Social Studies and Research, 6120 S. Vermont Ave., Los
Angeles (between Slauson and Gage). The main agenda item is planning
for the Jericho workshop at the Peoples Justice Conference May 14 at
LA Trade Tech College, in the form of a "courtroom drama" style
People's Trial of the State for human rights violations and crimes
against humanity in the case of the political prisoners and
liberation movements.

here's the script outline:

Proposed Jericho People's Trial on Human Rights Violations against
Political Prisoners for Peoples Justice Conference

The proposal is to stage a mock trial of "The People vs. The State"
on charges of perjury, murder, torture, human rights violations, and
crimes against humanity. We would have a presiding judge or panel,
and a lawyer representing the People (perhaps Nana Gyamfi and/or
James Simmons? Guillermo Suarez?), a defense attorney for the State
(a ringer, perhaps Jim Lafferty or Colleen Flynn from NLG?), and a
series of witnesses for the People, plus one witness for the State
(someone in an Obama mask). (3-5 minutes to present indictments, cast)

Witnesses for the People:

Hank Jones or Ray Boudreaux or other Panther elder -testify about
torture, frame-ups, assassinations and shoot-out under direct
examination, relate to continuing attack on SF 8.
Cross-examination: Weren't you gun toting radicals? Defense of
self-defense plus explanation of other survival programs (10-12 minutes)

Lawrence Reyes - testify about Puerto Rican Nationalists, Young
Lords, Macheteros, etc, relate to Vieques and continuing struggles of
students, labor.
Cross examination: Weren't these people guilty of seditious
conspiracy to overthrow the govt of the US in Puerto Rico? Defense of
right to independence and self-determination (10-12 minutes)

Shorter testimony: Native (Corine of SB AIM?) re Peltier, other human
rts violations (5-7 min)
Chicano/Mexicano (Meztli of Brown Riders) re: Alvaro Luna Hernandez,
Ramsey Muniz, ICE raids (5-7 min)
Asians (Mo Nishida re Asian/PI prisoners) (5-7 min)
European descent (Michael Novick re: Dave Gilbert, Tom Manning,
Marilyn Buck, read from Daniel McGowan). Cross-examination: Don't
people have their constitutional right to remain silent?
Counter-attack on Grand Jury/FBI witch-hunt (5-7 minutes)

General T.A.C.O. - testify on impact on community of destruction of
BPP (drugs, criminal mentality, mass incarceration, unchecked police
terror), continuing attacks on freedom fighters (BR3, LA2, ankle GPS).
Cross examination: Aren't you crazy radicals who plot to attack
police stations? Defense of above-ground self-defense, watch-a-pig
programs. (10-12 minutes)

Prosecution rests.

Defense calls Obama: These are all sad events of the past for which
Bill Clinton has already apologized. I am proof that US is now a
post-racial democracy. Cross-examination: Aren't you just a front man
for empire? Remove Obama mask to reveal skull mask underneath it. (5 minutes)

Defense (State) summation: We did and do the same thing any state
does to protect its interests and profits. (1 min)

Prosecution (People's ) summation: Guilty or murder (Fred Hampton),
torture (SF8, Sekou Odinga), perjury (Geronimo, Mumia, Peltier),
crimes against humanity (MOVE bombing). (2 min)

Judge addresses audience: ladies and gentlemen of the jury, have you
reached a verdict?:

All: Guilty as charged

Honduras: Director of Radio Uno Survives Assassination Attempt

Date: Thursday, April 28, 2011

(Versión original en español, haz clic aqui)

The Committee of Relatives of the Detained and Disappeared in Honduras
(COFADEH by its Spanish initials), urgently denounces that at 11:30pm on
Wednesday, April 27th, 2011, around ten armed men wearing ski masks
attempted to assassinate Arnulfo Aguilar, the Director of Radio Uno in the
city of San Pedro Sula, in front of his house.

Aguilar told COFADEH that he succeeded in locking himself into his home
while the men surrounded the house trying to jump over the wall. He
reports that he called the local Police Division #1 where he was told they
would move immediately, however it was a full hour before, in a very
indifferent manner, officers of Patrol #123 did no more than escort
Aguilar to the central boulevard and left him there.

The General Coordinator of COFADEH, Bertha Oliva, attempted a series of
calls to high-ranking officials of the police, even with the very Security
Minister Oscar Alvarez, where she was told that their mobile phones were
turned off and that the minister has left orders to not call him after 10

Arnulfo Aguilar has protective measures granted by the Inter-American
Commission of Human Rights resulting from the series of attacks that he
and his team at Radio Uno have suffered. The attacks include death
threats, kidnappings, and attacks against the radio equipment itself, all
taking place since Aguilar and the entire radio collective assumed a
position of opposition to the coup d'etat of June 28th, 2009.

Aguilar denounced that in the last few months, various members of the
collective have been victims of kidnappings and attempted kidnappings.

Aguilar told COFADEH that, “tensions have risen since April 26th when we
began tackling the subject of the Armed Forces involvement in supplying
weapons to the drug cartels.”

According to a US Defense Intelligence Agency report leaked by WikiLeaks
entitled “Honduras: Military Weaponry Feeding the Black Weapon Market”,
serial numbers found on anti-tank weaponry discovered in Ciudad Juárez,
Mexico and San Andrés Island, Colombia, match the serial numbers of
weapons that had been sold to Honduras. Beyond the weapons, the US
authorities confiscated a series of M433 grenades from criminal
organizations in Mexico, which can also be traced back to the Honduran

For COFADEH this latest attack against Arnulfo Aguilar is very worrying
and, once again, places the State of Honduras in a delicate position given
that it has done nothing to protect the lives of Aguilar or the Radio Uno
collective. We have already seen the serious consequences that come when
the state doesn't urgently implement these measures. Such as the case of
the journalist Nahum Palacios, who also received protective measures from
the IACHR and yet was assassinated by numerous masked men armed with
AK-47s, shot dead while heading to his home in Tocoa, Colon on the night
of March 14th, 2010.

For all the reasons described above, we demand immediate actions to
protect Aguilar, who succeeded in saving his life, but he has told COFADEH
that he has concerns further actions could be carried out against him,



Committee of the Relatives of the Detained and Disappeared in Honduras


Tegucigalpa, April 27th, 2011

Over 800 inmates escape Tunisian prisons

By BOUAZZA BEN BOUAZZA, Associated Press Apr 29, 2011

TUNIS, Tunisia – More than 800 inmates escaped on Friday from two Tunisian
prisons after fires were set in cells, the official news agency said.

Soldiers and security forces quickly fanned out in a search of the
fugitives and at least 35 were caught within hours, TAP said, citing
military sources.

TAP reported that 522 inmates from the prison in Kasserine escaped after a
fire in two cells, and another 300 inmates escaped from the Gafsa prison.

The two towns are both in Tunisia's center-west region, some 150
kilometers (about 95 miles) apart. Personnel at the prison in Gafsa were
on strike at the time, likely making the mass exodus by inmates easier.

The North African nation has been hit by social unrest since the country's
long-time autocratic ruler was ousted Jan. 14 in an uprising.

Some 11,000 inmates escaped from Tunisian prisons shortly after Zine El
Abidine Ben Ali fled into exile. Of those, several thousand have been
caught and nearly 2,000 turned themselves in after the Justice Ministry
warned the escape could worsen their cases, TAP reported.

Earlier, in the capital Tunis, police fired tear gas at hundreds of
Islamists protesting what they said were offensive comments toward Islam
by two teachers.

Protesters chanted "God is Great," and carried banners including one
reading "We do not pardon those who insult the prophet."

Several hours of peaceful protest degenerated when some demonstrators
sought to take on police, who immediately fired tear gas.

The demonstration on the main Avenue Bourguiba was the latest since Ben
Ali was brought down, hounded out of the country by protesters angry over
unemployment, corruption and repression.

Tunisia's uprising prompted protests around the Arab world.

Guantanamo Detainees Stage Hunger Strike to Protest Confinement Conditions

Guantanamo detainee Fayiz al-Kandari, a Kuwaiti aid worker, lost 20 pounds taking part in a month-long hunger strike to protest his indefinite detention and conditions of his confinement.

Friday 29 April 2011
by: Jason Leopold, Truthout

Within the past month, more than 15 Guantanamo detainees protested an indefinite detention order signed by President Barack Obama in March that resulted in their relocation to another camp at the prison facility - where they said the conditions are worse - by staging a hunger strike, Truthout has learned.

Tanya Bradsher, a Department of Defense (DoD) spokeswoman, confirmed detainees staged a hunger strike, but she put the number at "less than ten."

However, Guantanamo guards said the hunger strike, which started around the first week of March and ended a little more than a week ago, also involved some of the 14 high-value detainees who are segregated and housed in Camp 7. Their actions are considered classified and would otherwise not be confirmed by the Pentagon, the guards said.

Bradsher said, "Detainees will hunger strike for various reasons, but most consider it a way to 'stay in the fight,'" a line of reasoning that serves to perpetuate the myth peddled by the Bush administration that all of the individuals imprisoned at Guantanamo are the "worst of the worst."

The DoD's own files on the detainees released by WikiLeaks last Sunday showed that a vast majority of them were innocent and were sold to the US as bounty.

Far from being an effort to "stay in the fight," the hunger strike detainees waged was simply a way for them to protest the conditions of their confinement and the executive order signed by Obama creating a formal system of indefinite detention.

Lt. Col. Barry Wingard, who represents Kuwaiti detainee Fayiz al-Kandari, one of the ten who spent the past month fasting, said his client was on a hunger strike, "due to the fact that he was forced to move [to a new camp] where the rules are more stringently enforced."

Wingard said al-Kandari, whose petition for habeas corpus was rejected last year, went from 150 to 130 pounds during the hunger strike.

Another Kuwaiti detainee, Fouzi Khalid Abdullah Al Awda, lost 25 pounds during the hunger strike, according to accounts other detainees gave to their lawyers.


Detainees who refuse nine consecutive meals are classified as hunger strikers. It's unclear if any of the detainees were force-fed by Guantanamo medical personnel, a procedure that in and of itself has been described as torture. Bradsher did not respond to specific questions about force-feeding. Wingard said al-Kandari was able to avoid being force-fed by earning "points" and eating a piece of fruit, for example. Al Awda, the other Kuwaiti detainee, was said to have taken the hunger strike seriously, avoided all food and fainted several times.

Guantanamo force-feeding kit. (Source: Pentagon/Wikimedia)
Guantanamo detainee Fayiz al-Kandari, a Kuwaiti aid worker, lost 20 pounds taking part in a month-long hunger strike to protest his indefinite detention and conditions of his confinement.

Bradsher cited a DoD report that said if military personnel had to resort to force-feeding detainees, the process would be administered in a "lawful" and humane manner."

Human rights groups, however, would beg to differ.

In January 2009, Jamil Dakwar, director of the American Civil Liberties Union's Human Rights Program, sent a letter to Secretary of Defense Robert Gates calling for an end to the Pentagon's force-feeding policy, which requires guards and medical personnel to strap a detainee into a chair and secure his head to a metal restraint. The letter was prompted by reports that about 25 to 30 detainees waged a hunger strike to protest their indefinite detention.

Dakwar said, "force-feeding is universally considered to be a form of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment" and cited a 2006 United Nations report that said the manner in which detainees are force-fed, "are matters of grave and distinct human rights concerns."

According to the 2009 DoD report, entitled "Review of Department Compliance With President's Executive Order on Detainee Conditions of Confinement, "The current feeding program is being conducted solely as a medical procedure to sustain the life and health of hunger strikers."

The force-feeding policy parallels the Federal Bureau of Prisons policy and has been upheld by federal courts. The 81-page report describes how detaineed are force-fed and says it is considered "a medical procedure with the sole purpose of preserving life and health, and in accordance with Common Article 3 and DoD policy."

Enteral feeding is the process of providing nutritional support for a patient by passing a tube through the nose into the stomach (a nasogastric feeding tube), through which nutritional supplements, such as Ensure Plus or Boost Plus, can be infused. This is a common medical procedure used to safely provide nutrition to a patient who is not taking food by mouth, but whose intestinal function is intact (e.g., a patient whose jaw is wired shut). The nasogastric tube used is size 10 or 12 French, which would be 3.5-4.5 millimeters in diameter (slightly larger in diameter than a piece of cooked spaghetti but less than a pencil eraser). The tube should be well lubricated (viscous lidocaine should be offered, but some patients prefer other lubricants). After insertion of the tube, its placement in the stomach is confirmed prior to allowing the nutritional supplement to flow in from a hanging bag by gravity. This procedure usually takes about an hour, after which the feeding tube is removed. Once stabilized, most patients can be sustained on two feedings per day.

The DoD report was based on a two-week investigation of conditions at Guantanamo, which was conducted "to ensure all detainees there are being held 'in conformity with all applicable laws governing the conditions of confinement, including Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions,' pursuant to the President’s Executive Order on Review and Disposition of Individuals Detained at the Guantánamo Bay Naval Base and Closure of Detention Facilities, dated January 22, 2009."

The review concluded that the "conditions of confinement at Guantanamo" were in compliance with Common Article 3 of Geneva.

Stripped of Privileges

For people who take for granted the small luxuries in life, the complaints raised by the detainees that led them to stop eating may seem trivial and petty. But the little things are all these detainees have left to hold on to.

A majority of the detainees who staged the hunger strike had been housed at Camp 1 since at least 2008 and had become accustomed to certain living conditions, such as keeping their cell doors open while they prayed, having meals prepared with at least a minimum amount of care and being treated with some respect by the military guards.

Camp 1 closed down, but a single cell block remained open to accommodate ten detainees who spoke English, were well-educated and whom the DoD had segregated because the agency believed they were "troublemakers" and an "influence" on other Guantanamo prisoners, according to several Guantanamo guards.

The detainees who remained at Camp 1 included UK resident Shaker Aamer, an "enemy combatant" who has been imprisoned at Guantanamo since 2002 without charge and was brutally tortured and placed in solitary confinement for at least a year, according to an account he provided to one of his attorneys who repeated the statements in a sworn declaration released by the DoD in 2006.

An assessment on Aamer prepared by a military analyst in November 2007 and released last weekend by WikiLeaks portrays the man the government claims was a close associate of Osama bin Laden as a mythical figure. The military assessment, the veracity of which is questionable, states that Aamer controls other detainees, has the power to call on detainees to commit suicide, is "extremely egotistical," "manipulated debriefers and guard staff" and, on the advice of his attorney, Clive Stafford Smith, led a hunger strike in 2005 involving more than 100 detainees. Smith has vehemently denied the assertion and took to Twitter to ridicule the allegaiton.

Aamer did not participate in the hunger strike that began in early March and ended about a week ago, according to two Guantanamo guards currently stationed at the prison who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Consolidating Detainees

The circumstances behind the hunger strike unfolded in January and February, weeks before Obama issued his indefinite detention order, when Guantanamo officials began the process of permanently shuttering camps 4 and 1 and moved all of the detainees interned there to camps 5 and 6.

Candace Gorman, an attorney who represents an Algerian detainee named Abdal Razak Ali, noted on her blog on February 13 that in January, the military closed Camp 4, "the least restricted of the Guantanamo camps and moved all of the men to either camps 5 or 6. Both supermax facilities of the worst order."

"The men know that this is just the latest sign that the Obama administration has no intention of closing Guantanamo," wrote Gorman, whose client's petition for habeas corpus was recently denied by US District Court Judge Richard Leon.

In January, detainees at camps 5 and 6 marked the ninth anniversary of Guantanamo's opening by staging a "sit-in."

"After seeing reports of the uprisings in Tunisia the men started their own protest by putting up signs everywhere they had access," Gorman wrote. "Examples of some of the signs: 'where are the courts?' 'what about our rights?' 'where is democracy?' All very good questions."

Guantanamo officials told the ten remaining detainees in Camp 1 in February that they were going to be moved to Camp 5.

"They were told [Camp 5] would be better," said one Guantanamo guard. "They were told they could bring nonessential items they collected. But after they were transferred, those items were confiscated. They were essentially lied to. Overall, they just felt the living conditions were worse at Camp 5."

Being relocated to a new camp meant the detainees were now under the purview of a new camp commander, new guards and new rules. That meant they had to start over as if they had just arrived at Guantanamo.

"The guards were not treating them well when they got to Camp 5," said a military official knowledgeable about the detainees' relocation, who requested anonymity in order to speak openly about the issue. "The guards were a lot more rough on the new detainees. [The detainees] were restricted from going outside. Their mail was being opened. They asked that their food not be thrown together. This isn't how it was for them at Camp 1."

The detainees protested, but they were ignored. So they stopped eating. The hunger strike lasted about a month.

A little more than a week ago, it came to an end after Guantanamo officials agreed to some of their requests, which included meals that were carefully prepared, additional recreation time and the ability to pray together.

Wingard said al-Kandari is still hoping for justice, despite the fact that he lost his habeas case and will likely spend the rest of his life in Guantanamo without charge.

He said the former aid worker told him that, "Back in the Bush days, they would torture us, but at least we had a shot at eventually being released. Now, with Obama, they beat us up psychologically and make sure you know that no one is ever going to leave Guantanamo."

Spies in blue April 26, 2011

A secret memo indicates that SF cops may be
working as FBI spies ­ with no local oversight


San Francisco cops assigned to the FBI's
terrorism task force can ignore local police
orders and California privacy laws to spy on
people without any evidence of a crime.

That's what a recently released memo appears to
say ­ and it has sent shockwaves through the civil
liberties community.

It also has members of the S.F. Police Commission
asking why a carefully crafted set of rules on
intelligence gathering, approved in the wake of
police spy scandals in the 1990s, were bypassed
without the knowledge or consent of the commission.

"It's a bombshell," said John Crew, a long-time
police practices expert with the American Civil
Liberties Union of Northern California.

The ACLU obtained the document April 4 under the
California Public Records Act after a long
battle. It's a 2007 memorandum of understanding
outlining the terms of an agreement between the
city and the FBI for San Francisco's
participation in the Joint Terrorism Task Force.

And, according to Crew, it effectively puts local
officers under the control of the FBI. "That
means Police Commission policies do not apply,"
Crew said. "It allows San Francisco police to
circumvent local intelligence-gathering policies
and follow more permissive federal rules."

Veena Dubal, a staff attorney at the Asian Law
Caucus, agreed: "This MOU confirms our worst fears,"
she said.

Dubal noted that in the waning months of the Bush
administration, the FBI changed its policies to
allow federal authorities to collect intelligence
on a person even if the subject is not suspected
of a crime. The FBI is now allowed to spy on
Americans who have done nothing wrong ­ and who
may be engaged in activities protected by the First

FBI activity under this new "assessment" category
has since come under fire, and a recent report in
The New York Times showed that the FBI has
conducted thousands of assessments each month,
and that these guidelines continue under Obama.

And if the feds do control San Francisco police
policy, then the San Francisco cops could be
spying on innocent people ­ a dramatic change
from long standing city policy. "The MOU is
disturbing," Police Commission member Petra
DeJesus told the Guardian. "The department is
assuring us that local policies are not being
violated ­ but it looks as if it's subject to

It's the latest sign of a dangerous trend: San
Francisco cops are working closely with the feds,
often in ways that run counter to city policy.

And it raises a far-reaching question: With a
district attorney who used to be police chief, a
civilian commission that isn't getting a straight
story from the cops, and a climate of secrecy
over San Francisco's intimate relations with
outside agencies, who is watching the cops?


San Francisco has a long ­ and ugly ­ history of
police surveillance on political groups. SFPD
officers spied on law-abiding organizations
during the 1984 Democratic National Convention;
kept files in the 1980s on 100 Bay Area civil,
labor, and special interest groups; and carried
out undercover surveillance of political groups
focused on El Salvador and Central America. {not
to speak of the 'red' squad, Cointelpro, the
coordinated attacks on groups like the Black Panthers - cm}

Those abuses led the Police Commission to develop
a departmental general order in 1990 known as DGO
8.10. The local intelligence guidelines require
"articulable and reasonable suspicion" before
SFPD officers are allowed to collect information on anyone.

Even those rules weren't enough to halt the spies
in blue. In 1993, police inspector Tom Gerard was
caught spying on political groups ­ particularly
Arab American and anti-apartheid organizations
and groups Gerard described as "pinko" ­ and
selling that information to agents for the Anti-Defamation

As the ACLU and Asian Law Caucus noted in a
December 2010 letter to Cdr. Daniel Mahoney:
"That scandal was not just about the fact that
peaceful organizations and individuals were being
unlawfully spied upon and their private
information sold to foreign governments, but that
the guidelines adopted in 1990 had never been
fully implemented by SFPD. No officers had been
trained on the new guidelines and no meaningful
audit had ever been implemented."

Over the years, the commission has tried to keep
tabs on police intelligence and prevent more spy
scandals. The general order mandates that local
police officials have to request general
authority from a commanding officer and the chief
to investigate any activity that comes under
First Amendment protections ­ and must specify in
the request what the facts are that give rise to
this suspicion of criminal activity. The order
also states that the chief can't approve any
request that doesn't include evidence of possible
criminal activity.

Those requests are reviewed monthly by the Police
Commission and there are annual audits of the
SFPD files to monitor compliance ­ so the notion
that the local cops are joining the FBI spy squad
without commission oversight is more than a little

Officials with the FBI and SFPD are doing their
best to reassure the local community that there's
nothing to worry about. But so far their replies
seem to duck questions about whether FBI
guidelines trump local policies. For example, the
MOU states that "when there is a conflict, [task
force members] are held to the standard that
provides the greatest organizational benefit."

We asked Mahoney to clarify: does that mean the
local cops could be held to the FBI's standards?

"The San Francisco Police Officer(s) who are
assigned to the Joint Terrorism Task Force always
have and continue to be required to follow all
SFPD's policies and procedures," Mahoney replied
in a statement.

That's confusing; do they follow SFPD policies,
or obey the MOU?

We asked FBI special agent-in-charge Stephanie
Douglas whether SFPD officers are involved in
surveillance and "assessments" (that FBI code
word for creating spy files on individuals and
groups) and whether they are identifying as SFPD
or FBI officers.

"The FBI only initiates investigations on
allegations of criminal wrongdoing or threats to
our national security," Douglas replied April 21.
"Our investigations are conducted in compliance
with the Constitution, the laws of the United
States, the Attorney General Guidelines, the
Domestic Investigation and Operations Guide,
and all other FBI policies."

Okay, that's typical FBI-speak. Here's more: "The
JTTF is a task force comprised of FBI special
agents, agents from other federal agencies, and
local police officers who have been officially
deputized as federal task force officers (TFOs)
who have the power and authority of a federal
agent. Because all JTTF TFOs are actually de
facto federal agents, they are required to
operate under federal laws and policies when
involved in a JTTF case."

So the cops are actually feds. But wait: "Our
standard JTTF MOU recognizes, however, that the
JTTF TFOs do wear two hats, as it were, and
directs JTTF TFOs to follow his or her own
agency's policy when it is stricter than the FBI
policy under certain circumstances," Douglas concluded.

Again: not exactly clear, and not exactly reassuring.

"At some point they need to say whether SFPD
officers are engaged in assessments," Crew said.

These questions have spurred the Police
Commission and Human Rights Commission to
schedule a joint hearing in May to discuss what
the document means, why SFPD never alerted the
civilian oversight authorities, and whether a
clarifying addendum can be tacked onto the agreement.


The concerns are likely to be intensified by
recent developments in Portland, Ore.

Portland dropped out of the Joint Terrorism Task
Force in 2005 over concerns that local cops would
be violating privacy laws. But in November 2010,
the FBI thwarted a bomb plot allegedly linked to
terrorists, and city officials came under pressure
to rejoin the JTTF.

But Mayor Sam Adams has insisted on language that
would bar local cops from doing surveillance and
assessments, which, apparently, won't fly with the feds.

On April 20, Willamette Week, the Portland
alternative paper, wrote that Adams "effectively
scuttled" Portland's reentry into its local JTTF
because of his anti-spying language.

In an April 19 letter to Adams, U.S. Attorney for
Oregon Dwight Holton stated that Adams' proposal
of only allowing officers with the Portland
Police Bureau to be involved in investigations
and not in FBI assessments was a deal-breaker.

"Unfortunately, as currently drafted, the
proposed resolution does not provide a way in
which the PPB can rejoin the team," Holton wrote.
"There is a single provision that stands as a
roadblock to participation ­ specifically the
provision that seeks to have the City Council
delineate only certain investigative steps a task
force officer can take part in. Specifically, the
resolution seeks to dictate for the JTTF which
stages of an investigation task force officers
from the [Portland police] can work on."

"Investigation and prevention of complex crimes
and terrorism are typically fluid and
fast-moving," he added. "It makes no sense to ask
[Portland police] officers to be in for one part
of a conversation, but out for another part of
the same conversation as investigators discuss
findings from assessments, investigations, etc.
in evaluating and addressing terrorist threats in
Portland and beyond."

The message isn't lost on San Francisco civil
liberties activists. If you don't let your cops
join the spy squad, they can't be a part of the task force.

"It was one thing to join the JTTF 10 years ago
when they were operating under guidelines that,
while not to the ALCU's taste, were at least tied
to some level of suspicion," Adams said. "But
they have taken their procedures and guidelines
and moved them to the far right. It's one thing
to say that it's necessary for the FBI to do
that, and quite another to say that local
agencies have to forfeit their own policies ­ and
with no public debate or decision-making."


Further complicating the question of police
oversight is the fact that George Gascón, who was
police chief when civil liberties groups started
asking for a copy of the MOU last fall, refused
to turn over the document without asking the feds first.

In a Jan. 4 letter to the ACLU and ALC, Gascón
and Mahoney stated that the SFPD could not speak
to information about the duties, functions, and
numbers of officers assigned to the Joint
Terrorism Task Force "without conferring with our
partners in the Federal Bureau of Investigation."

"I am sure you can appreciate the delicate
balance we hold in crafting policy that not only
supports our mission in the ultimate protection
of life, but also in advancing democratic values
through collaboration with the communities we serve,"
Gascón and Mahoney wrote.

And Gascón is now district attorney.

"It raises the question of accountability," said
Public Defender Jeff Adachi "We want to make sure
that police officers working in the city,
regardless of whether it be for the feds or the
SFPD, are complying with general orders and
policies established by the department. But when
officers go on an assignment with the feds, we
don't know if they are operating under parameters
set by local law."

Unearthing the FBI's hitherto clandestine MOU
with the SFPD appears to be yet another sign that
local police are increasingly being subjected to
federal policies not in keeping with local procedures.

As the Guardian previously reported, the 2008
decimation of San Francisco's sanctuary city
legislation and the 2010 activation of the
federal government's controversial Secure
Communities program, which both happened during
former Mayor Gavin Newsom's tenure, means that
the city of St. Francis now ranks among the top
38 counties nationwide that are deporting "noncriminal

Dubal also noted that the FBI came to the SFPD in
1996 asking for help with the task force, but
also sought a waiver from the Police Commission
so officers could participate without having to
follow local rules. "And within two weeks, then
Mayor Willie Brown said, not in our town," Dubal
said. "So in 1997, the SFPD said we are not going
to join unless we can follow our own rules. And
in 2001, when the SFPD joined, it was under an
MOU that required them to comply with SFPD rules
and was signed in 2002 by then-SFPD Chief [Earl]

Dubal said that after local law enforcement
agencies sign an MOU with the FBI, they designate
and assign officers to work from FBI
headquarters. "In the past, two SFPD officers,
paid with San Francisco tax dollars, physically
worked in the FBI's office in a secure room where
you can only go if you have security clearance.
But they still can't spy without reasonable
suspicion, and they also need audits."

Crew and Dubal said that in a recent meeting,
SFPD officials assured them that local police
were following General Order 8.10, but that they
are open to creating an MOU addendum to clarify this.

Crew and Dubal remain unsure if the FBI would be
agreeable to signing off on that. They note that
the FBI has previously stated that its JTTF has
sensitive investigations going on so it can't
give the public all the information. "Fine, but
the issue is, Are these investigations based on
suspicion, or are they based on religious
background, associations, ethnicity, and travel
patterns?" Dubal said.

They also doubt that the MOU would even have
surfaced if not for comments that then SFPD Chief
Gascón made, first in October 2009, then in March
2010, that triggered an uproar in the local
Muslim, Arab, and Pakistani and Afghani communities.

At the time, Gascón, who has a law degree and
graduated from the FBI Academy, had just landed
in San Francisco fresh from a stint as police
chief for Meza, Ariz., where he drew praise for
speaking out against Maricopa County Sheriff Joe
Arpaio's inhumane treatment of undocumented
immigrants Given this seemingly progressive
stance, Gascón shocked civil libertarians in San
Francisco when he said he wanted to unearth
SFPD's intelligence unit, which was disbanded amid
scandal in the early 1990s.

"We have to realize that in the post-9/11 world,
San Francisco is an iconic city, like New York,
Washington. and Los Angeles," Gascón said. "If
somebody wanted to make a big statement about
something they disliked about America, doing it
here would definitely get attention. We need to
know what is going on under the surface of the city."

But Gascón did not say how a revived police spy
unit, which had been shut down in large part due
to Crew's work, would operate. And six months
later, he upset Bay Area Muslims during a March
2010 breakfast by reportedly saying that the Hall
of Justice building was not just susceptible to
earthquakes, but also to an attack by members of
the city's Middle Eastern community who could
park a van in front of it and blow it up.

Gascón subsequently claimed that he "never
referred to Middle Easterners or Arab Americans,"
but that he had instead singled out the
Afghanistan and Yemen communities because they pose
"potential terrorism risks"

"In light of Gascón's comments and his desire to
resurrect the intelligence unit, people were
asking, 'Is it possible that the SFPD is also
doing the same thing?'" Dubal asked, noting that
she started getting complaints in 2009 and throughout
2010 about the FBI.

"Folks were saying that the FBI was asking about
their religious identity, their family situation,
and their political activities," she recalled. "I
certainly saw an upswing in innocent people being
contacted. People were saying, 'What the hell? ­
the FBI knocked on my door at 5 a.m.'"


A 2011 Human Rights Commission report documents
frequent complaints from Arab, Muslim, and South
Asian communities facing racial and religious
profiling while traveling and unwaranted
interrogation, surveillance, and infiltration by
local and federal law enforcement personnel at
their homes, places of worship, and workplaces.

The report recommended asking the supervisors and
the Police Commission to "ensure that all SFPD
officers, including those deputized to the Joint
Terrorism Task Force, follow and comply with
local and state privacy laws, including DGO 8.10."

On April 5, the Board of Supervisors voted 10-0
to approve a resolution, sponsored by Sup. Ross
Mirkarimi and cosponsored by Sups David Chiu,
Eric Mar, David Campos, and John Avalos, to endorse
the HRC report.

All this is happening against the backdrop of FBI
guidelines that have been loosened twice since
September 2011, first by U.S. Attorney General
John Ashcroft in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist
attacks, then by Attorney General Michael Mukasey
in the dying days of the Bush administration, and
now by the Obama administration.

And as The New York Times reported in March,
records obtained through a Freedom of Information
Act request show that between Dec. 2008 and March
2009, the FBI began 11,667 assessments of people
and groups for criminal/terror links, completed
8,605 assessments, and launched more than 400
intensive investigations based on the
assessments. The FBI also told the Times that
agents continue to open assessments at about the
same pace

Crew noted that Mukasey's guidelines marked the
first time since 1976 that the FBI has been
allowed to do assessments and collect files
without a suspicion that a crime has occurred.

Dubal observed that the most relevant documents
to emerge from a recent FOIA request to determine
if the FBI has engaged in disturbing intelligence
gathering activities are those related to "geomapping."

"The materials are not particular to Northern
California, but they show how FBI maps
communities based in ethnic concentrations," Dubal said.

Dubal also pointed to the case of Yasir Afifi, an
Egyptian American student from Santa Clara, who
found an FBI tracking device on his car when he
took it in for an oil change. In March 2011, CAIR
filed suit in Washington, D.C., alleging that the
FBI violated Afifi's First, Fourth, and Fifth
Amendment rights by failing to obtain a warrant.

DeJesus recently told the Guardian that the
Police Commission was never made aware of the
MOU's existence. "The chief should have checked
in with the commission president, at the very
least," she said. "The idea that they were not
reporting this to anyone is disconcerting."

"The SFPD does not have the authority to enter
into a secret agreement with the FBI whereby some
of its officers are allowed to conduct
intelligence operations in violation of the
Police Commission's General Order 8.10," Crew added.

In a Jan. 25 letter to Mahoney, representatives
from the ACLU and the ALC noted that "in the
past, the SFPD had not previously deferred to the
FBI on whether or how to openly address how San
Francisco police officers will be supervised and
held to well-established and painstakingly and
collaboratively crafted San Francisco general orders."

"These are low-level investigations that require
no criminal predicate, meaning that when
initiating an assessment, FBI agents can conduct
intrusive forms of investigation without any
criminal suspicion," Dubal said. "These include
interviewing innocent Americans, infiltrating
organizations, using open source data to spy and
surveil, going into religious centers such as
mosques to spy and surveil, and recruiting and
using informants."


Date: Thu, 28 Apr 2011


Comrade Capers is currently in a bad situation
and needs all outside support he can get. He's
been put on Grade B (the hole) and is refused his
right to a fair hearing on the charges, as well
as to see a doctor. The CO's at San Quentin are
messing heavily with him since last December,
after they learned by reading his letters that
he's one of the people who founded UIM-FIRST.
They wrote him up for possessing a pen that he
got from the hobby craft manager in December. He
was allowed to have this pen, but was put on
Grade B for nearly two weeks, until they finally
asked the hobby craft manager about the pen. In
the meantime did they stress him out so bad, that
they had to take him to an outside hospital to
prevent him from suffering a heart attack. After
that, he was put back on Grade A and the charges
have been dropped.They openly hate on him for
being a Muslim and for being part of UIM-FIRST.
He was called a terrorist and especially three of
the CO's try to put him back on Grade B and mess
with him since then.One of them overheard how Mr.
Capers talked to a female officer and how he told
her he'd "cross her up if she continues to fuck
with him." He didn't threaten her with physical
violence! The female officer (Puerto Rican) and
her partner (African-American) knew he was using
street language and how he meant it, and
therefore didn't write him up. The other CO who
overheard them wrote him up for this statement on
April 6th, taking advantage of an opportunity to
put him on Grade B. The supervisor of the unit
refused to sign the rules violation report, and
the CO therefore went to another unit to get the
signature he needed. The reason why Mr. Capers
made this statement towards the female officer
was that she refused to give him complaint forms
he needed. He's sick since beginning of April and
wanted to see a doctor, because he's been
coughing blood, but they didn't give him an
appointment. He still didn't see a doctor until
today! He was put on Grade B on April 12th and
all his property has been taken. Photos of his
loved ones, food, clothes, writing material. Just
everything. On April 20th did he go before the
Institutional Classification Committee and was
denied his right to a fair trial. They are
supposed to schedule a hearing before they
finally find him guilty, but they didn't do it
because of "pending an investigation", and told
him they call him back sometime later. The
"investigation" can go on for months and until
then will he remain in the hole. He has a right
to this hearing to defend himself and present
witnesses, but when he tried to talk and asked
questions, was he told to be quiet and that "it
is not the time for him to speak." He HAS a
witness who will testify for him. This man was
present when the incident occurred and said there
was no problem until CO number 3 fabricated one.
One of the African-American CO's told him "These
white folks is after you Capers. They hate
you."The only way to get him a fair hearing and
medical treatment is outside support. They not
gonna stop until they see there are people
outside who watch them. The purpose of keeping
him on Grade B for as long as possible is to
interrupt all communication between him and the
outside. He's not allowed to use the phone, they
keep his mail for weeks, and he has no writing
material and stamps until somebody in there gives
him some. He needs urgently help, so if you are
willing to support him than please write the
warden. They usually fear attention from outside
and hopefully will it not only help to resolve
the current problems, but also prevent further
harassment for being part of UIM-FIRST and a Muslim.
The warden's address is :
Attn. to Warden Mike Martel
San Quentin, CA 94964

Mr. Caper's information is: Lee Samuel Capers
P.O. Box K-01264 (his CDCR #)
San Quentin, CA 94974

All help you can provide is much appreciated and
every letter makes a difference!!! Read his report about his situation at
Death Row Committee Prisoner Writings
Sabine Capers, UIM-FIRST Co-founder & Outside Coordinator

Syrian rights group says 42 killed nationwide

By BASSEM MROUE, Associated Press April 29, 2011

BEIRUT – Security forces opened fire Friday on demonstrators trying to
break an army blockade on the southern city of Daraa, while thousands of
others across Syria defied a protest ban and denounced President Bashar
Assad's harsh crackdown on a six-week uprising. At least 42 people were
killed, including 15 in the march on Daraa, according to witnesses and a
human rights group.

The protesters in cities across Syria — including the capital of Damascus
— called for Assad's ouster, with some chanting "We are not afraid!"

Human rights activist Mustafa Osso said 42 people were killed, but the
death toll could rise. His human rights group, based in Syria, compiles
casualty tolls from the crackdown.

A witness in Daraa — the heart of the uprising — said residents stayed
indoors because the city has been under siege by the military since
Monday, when thousands of soldiers backed by tanks and snipers stormed in.
People were too afraid even to venture out to mosques for prayers, the
witness said.

"We are in our houses but our hearts are in the mosques," the witness
said, speaking by satellite telephone and asking that his name not be
published for fear of reprisals.

Large demonstrations broke out in Damascus, the central city of Homs, the
coastal cities of Banias and Latakia, the northern cities of Raqqa and
Hama, and the northeastern town of Qamishli.

In Damascus' central Midan neighborhood, witnesses said about 2,000 people
marched and chanted, "God, Syria and freedom only!" in a heavy rain, but
security forces opened fire with bullets and tear gas, scattering them.

"Oh great Syrian army! Lift the blockade on Daraa!" protesters chanted in
the Damascus suburb of Barzeh, according to video footage posted by
activists on YouTube.

The government had warned against holding any demonstrations Friday and
placed large banners around the capital that read: "We urge the brother
citizens to avoid going out of your homes on Friday for your own safety."
Syrian TV said the Interior Ministry has not approved any "march,
demonstration or sit-in" and that such rallies seek only to harm Syria's
security and stability.

Since the uprising in Syria began in mid-March, inspired by revolts across
the Arab world, more than 450 people have been killed nationwide,
activists say.

Assad's attempts to crush the revolt — the gravest challenge to his
family's 40-year ruling dynasty — have drawn international criticism.

The U.S. hit three top Syrian officials, Syria's intelligence agency and
Iran's Revolutionary Guard with sanctions. The sanctions affect Maher
Assad, Assad's brother and commander of the Syrian Army's Fourth Armored
Division, which is accused of carrying out the worst atrocities in Daraa;
Assad cousin Atif Najib, the former head of the Political Security
Directorate in Daraa Province; and intelligence chief Ali Mamluk, the
White House said.

Although Assad himself is not among those hit with sanctions, officials
said he could be named at a later date if the crackdown continues.

Assad's government says the protests are a foreign conspiracy carried out
by extremist forces and armed thugs, not true reform-seekers.

Syrian TV said military and police forces came under attack Friday by
"armed terrorists" in Daraa and the central city of Homs, killing four
soldiers and three police officers. Two soldiers were captured, the report
said. The station also said one of its cameramen was injured in Latakia in
an attack by an armed gang.

Outside Homs, thousands chanted "We don't love you!" and "Bye, bye Bashar!
We will see you in The Hague!" as the sound of gunfire crackled in the

A devastating picture was emerging of Daraa — which has been without
electricity, water and telephones since Monday — as residents flee to
neighboring countries. Daraa is where the uprising kicked off, sparked by
the arrest of teenagers who scrawled anti-regime graffiti on a wall.

Residents inside the city begged for international intervention Friday.

"Nobody can move in (Daraa), they have snipers on the high roofs," a
resident told The Associated Press using a satellite phone. "They are
firing at everything."

At the Jordanian side of the Syrian border, several Daraa residents who
had just crossed over said there is blood on the streets of the city.

"Gunfire is heard across the city all the time," one man said, asking that
his name not be used for fear of retribution. "People are getting killed
in the streets by snipers if they leave their homes."

An AP reporter at the border heard gunfire and saw smoke rising from
different areas just across the frontier. Residents said the gunfire has
been constant for three weeks.

Assad's regime has stepped up its deadly crackdown on protesters in recent
days by unleashing the army along with snipers and tanks. On Friday,
protesters came out in their thousands, defying the crackdown and using it
as a rallying cry.

Syria has banned nearly all foreign media and restricted access to trouble
spots since the uprising began, making it almost impossible to verify the
dramatic events shaking one of the most authoritarian, anti-Western
regimes in the Arab world.

A witness in Latakia said about 1,000 people turned out for an
anti-government rally when plainclothes security agents with automatic
rifles opened fire. He said he saw at least five people wounded. Like many
witnesses contacted by The Associated Press, he asked that his name not be
used for fear of reprisal.

The Muslim Brotherhood urged Syrians to demonstrate Friday against Assad
in the first time the outlawed group has openly encouraged the protests in
Syria. The Brotherhood was crushed by Assad's father, Hafez, after staging
an uprising against his regime in 1982.

"You were born free, so don't let a tyrant enslave you," said the
statement, issued by the Brotherhood's exiled leadership.

But he has acknowledged the need for reforms, offering overtures of change
in recent weeks while brutally cracking down on demonstrations.

Last week, Syria's Cabinet abolished the state of emergency, in place for
decades, and approved a new law allowing the right to stage peaceful
protests with the permission of the Interior Ministry.

But the protesters, enraged by the mounting death toll, no longer appear
satisfied with the changes and are increasingly seeking the regime's

"The people want the downfall of the regime," said an activist in the
coastal city of Banias — echoing the cries heard during the Egyptian and
Tunisian revolutions.

Witnesses and human rights groups said Syrian army units clashed with each
other over following Assad's orders to crack down on protesters in Daraa,
where the uprising started.

While the troops' infighting in Daraa does not indicate any decisive
splits in the military, it is significant because Assad's army has always
been the regime's fiercest defender.

It is the latest sign that cracks — however small — are developing in
Assad's base of support that would have been unimaginable just weeks ago.
Also, about 200 mostly low-level members of Syria's ruling Baath Party
have resigned over Assad's brutal crackdown.

Meanwhile, diplomats say the U.N.'s nuclear watchdog agency is setting the
stage for potential U.N. Security Council action on Syria as it prepares a
report assessing that a Syrian target bombed by Israeli warplanes in 2007
was likely a secretly built nuclear reactor meant to produce plutonium.

Such a conclusion would back intelligence produced by Israel and the
United States. Syria says the nearly finished building had no nuclear
uses. It has repeatedly turned down requests by the International Atomic
Energy Agency to revisit the site after allowing an initial 2008
inspection that found evidence of possible nuclear activities.

Three diplomats and a senior U.N. official said such an assessment — drawn
up by IAEA chief Yukiya Amano — would be the basis of a Western-sponsored
resolution at a meeting of the 35-nation IAEA board that condemns Syria's
refusal to cooperate with the agency and kicks the issue to the U.N.
Security Council. All spoke on condition of anonymity because the
information they discussed was confidential.

Separately, the U.N. Human Rights Council approved an investigation of
Syria's crackdown and demanded that the nation immediately release
political prisoners and lift restrictions on journalists and the Internet.
The action came on a 26-9 vote, with 7 abstentions. Opposition among many
Arab and African nations forced the U.S.-drafted resolution to be watered
down to omit Syria's unopposed candidacy for the council.


Associated Press writers Jamal Halaby at the Jordanian-Syrian border, Diaa
Hadid in Cairo, Elizabeth A. Kennedy in Beirut, John Heilprin in Geneva,
George Jahn in Vienna and Matthew Lee in Washington contributed to this

2 dead: Riots erupt in Uganda after brutal arrest

By GODFREY OLUKYA, Associated Press April 29, 2011

KAMPALA, Uganda – Army troops and police fired live bullets at rioting
demonstrators Friday, and at least two people were killed and 120 wounded
in the largest anti-government protest in sub-Saharan Africa this year.

Rioters burned tires in downtown streets as security forces fired tear gas
and guns, and a Red Cross spokeswoman said 15 of the wounded and been hit
by live bullets. Battles between protesters and police were also reported
elsewhere around the country.

The protests are the first serious demonstrations in sub-Saharan Africa
since a wave of anti-government protests swept leaders in Tunisia and
Egypt out of power. Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, who has been in
power for a quarter-century, has vowed repeatedly that his government will
not be taken down by protests.

The breakout of violence came one day after a brutal takedown of the
country's top opposition politician, Kizza Besigye. Police smashed through
the window of Besigye's vehicle with the butt of a gun and doused him with
tear gas at close range before bundling him into the back of a pickup
truck and speeding off.

"They arrested him like a chicken thief. We cannot allow such things to
continue. Museveni must go," said Brown Ndese, one of the protesters.

Red Cross spokeswoman Catherine Ntabadde said at least two people were
killed and 120 people wounded. Uganda police spokeswoman Judith Nabakooba
said the police were working to contain the demonstrations and did not
immediately have a casualty figure.

Some 360 people were arrested, the government said.

Besigye was freed on bail on Thursday but did not make any public
appearances or statements on Friday. Radio reports quoted an aide as
saying Besigye was in poor health and that he was to fly him out of the
country for treatment.

Besigye withstood long volleys of tear gas sprayed directly on him
Thursday, but it wasn't clear how sick or injured he was. Attempts to
reach Besigye aides for comment failed.

Besigye has held five "walk to work" demonstrations to protest rising
prices and what he calls a corrupt government. On Friday, demonstrators
carried posters praising Besigye, and questioned why police needed to use
violence to arrest him. Opposition members of parliament have demanded an
explanation from the government over his treatment.

Ugandan Minister of Internal Affairs Kirunda Kivejinja said at a news
conference Friday that police had no intention of arresting Besigye in
such a harsh manner on Thursday.

"The way he was arrested was due to the way he reacted," Kivejinja said.
"When police advised him not to use a particular road, he instead got out
of his vehicle and called his supporters."

About comparisons to Arab uprisings, he said: "Uganda cannot be like
Tunisia and Egypt. ... Here we simply have Besigye who does not want to
cooperate. He is defiant against lawful orders."

Earlier this month Besigye was shot in the right hand by what he says was
a rubber bullet fired by police. He now wears a thick white cast that
reaches halfway up his right arm.

Uganda's Daily Monitor newspaper reported on its website Friday that
military forces and police fired live ammunition and tear gas at
demonstrators in the eastern town of Mbale, some 200 miles (300
kilometers) outside Kampala. Demonstrators fought back with rocks.

The U.S. Embassy in Uganda condemned the escalation of violence and it
called on all protesters to obey the law and cease all destruction of

"The U.S. Mission in Uganda also urges the Government of Uganda to respect
the right of all citizens to peacefully express their views as enshrined
by Uganda's constitution. Above all, Ugandan authorities must avoid using
excessive force against civilians in this situation. Constructive dialogue
is needed now," the U.S. statement said.

Besigye came second in Uganda's February presidential election to
Museveni, threatening to end the opposition leader's political career
after three straight losses to the longtime leader. Official returns
showed Museveni winning 68 percent of the February vote, though Besigye
says those returns were falsified and that both he and Museveni got just
under 50 percent.

Besigye, though, has had a political resurrection in recent months as the
country has seen huge price spikes in food and fuel.

In an interview with The Associated Press at his home last week, Besigye
said many Ugandans face a "crisis of survival," that the health care
system has broken down and that young people cannot find jobs.

Besigye was the president's personal physician before being dismissed for
saying in 1999 the government was becoming a one-man dictatorship.

Uganda is a young country, with half its nearly 35 million citizens under
15. An estimated 1.2 million have HIV/AIDS. The average yearly income is
just $1,200, though many here have hopes — and fears — over newly
discovered oil that will soon be pumped. An oil curse has befallen other
African countries, providing more incentive for corrupt leaders to remain
in power in order to steal from public coffers.

Andries Tatane: Murdered by the Ruling Classes Apr 24 2011

South African activist Andries Tatane was buried in the small rural town
of Ficksburg yesterday. He was murdered by the police on a demonstration
of four and a half thousand people last week. Shawn Hatting from the
Zabalaza Anarchist Communist Front has developed the first libertarian
communist response to the last of a growing number of police murders of
grassroots activists in South Africa.

by Shawn Hattingh (ZACF)

On the 13th April, people in South Africa were stunned. On the evening
news the sight of six police force members brutally beating a man, Andries
Tatane, to death was aired. The images of the police smashing his body
with batons and repeatedly firing rubber bullets into his chest struck a
cord; people were simply shocked and appalled. Literally hundreds of
articles followed in the press, politicians of all stripes also hopped on
the bandwagon and said they lamented his death; and most called for the
police to receive appropriate training to deal with ‘crowd control’ –
after all, elections are a month away.

Andries Tatane’s death was the culmination of a protest march in the Free
State town of Ficksburg. The march involved over 4,000 people, who
undertook the action to demand the very basics of life – decent housing,
access to water and electricity, and jobs. They had repeatedly written to
the mayor and local government of Ficksburg pleading for these
necessities. Like a group of modern day Marie Antoinettes, the local state
officials brushed off these pleas; more important matters no doubt needed
to be attended to – like shopping for luxury cars; banking the latest fat
pay check; handing tenders out to Black Economic Empowerment (BEE)
connections and talking shit in the municipal chambers. Therefore, when
the township residents had the audacity to march, and call for a response,
the police were promptly unleashed with water cannons and rubber bullets.
If the impoverished black residents of Ficksburg could not get the hint,
in the form of silence; then the state and local politicians were going to
ensure that they got the message beaten into them.

The reason why specifically Andries Tatane was murdered was because he had
the cheek, in the eyes of the officials involved, to question police force
members about why they were firing a water cannon at an elderly person –
who clearly was not a threat to the burly brutes that make up South
Africa’s arm of the law. For that act of decency, he paid dearly: with his
life. The message was clear – how dare anyone question the authority of
the state and its right to use force wherever and whenever it deems

A war on protestors

The sad reality though is that Andries Tatane’s murder at the hands of the
state did not represent something new or even an isolated incident. For
years, the South African state has been treating people that have embarked
on protests with brute force and utter contempt. Activists from community
based movements – such as the Anti-Privatisation Forum (APF), Abahlali
baseMjondolo (ABM), Anti-Eviction Campaign (AEC) and Landless People’s
Movement (LPM) have routinely been harassed by the state, arrested and
beaten. For instance, on the day of the elections in 2004, LPM members
were tortured by the police in Soweto. Some activists have also been
subjected to attacks by vigilante groupings; to which the state and the
police have often turned a blind eye. In reality, the state views
community based movements as enemies and when they protest the state often
dishes out violence. The fact that the vast majority of community based
protests are peaceful, usually involving little more than people
blockading a road and burning old tires, does not deter them.

Andries Tatane’s awful death, for standing up for what he believed, was
also by no means the first at the hands of the South African state.
Numerous people involved in community protests, much like the one in
Ficksburg, have been murdered by police officials. As recently as
February, protests erupted in the town of Ermelo; situated in one of South
Africa’s poorest provinces – Mpumulanga. The people involved were
demanding the exact same basic necessities as the Ficksburg protestors.
The state did not respond by listening or engaging the people, but rather
sent 160 riot police, euphemistically named the Tactical Response Team
(TRT), to end the protests. The country’s Police Commissioner, General
Cele; personally warned the Ermelo protestors and organizers that the TRT
was going to restore ‘order’. In the process, two people were shot dead by
the police and 120 more were arrested. Raids were conducted throughout
impoverished areas – due to the legacy of apartheid, residents in these
areas are mainly or exclusively black – and, as part of this, an 80 year
old woman was detained. An illegal curfew was also implemented by the
police and anyone on the street was automatically shot at with rubber
bullets. Indiscriminate violence by the police reportedly became the order
of the day. In one incident, captured on a cellphone camera, a teenager
was called out of a shop by a group of policemen. When he approached their
car, he was repeatedly shot at with rubber bullets and forced to roll down
the street as ‘punishment’. Other people were also reportedly whipped by
the police with sjamboks – the imagery of colonial and apartheid style
punishment no doubt being deliberate. People were literally driven off the
streets by state organised terror. The bitter reality, however, is that
Emerlo and Ficksburg were simply microcosms of how the state routinely
dishes out violence towards those that it views as a threat: in 2010 alone
1,769 people died as a result of police action or in police custody.
Sadly, Andries Tatane will become part of these statistics.

Sinister interrogation processes have also accompanied the outright
violence that the state has directed towards protestors. In the case of
the Ermelo protests, a person who the state accused of being one of the
organisers, Bongani Phakathi, was interrogated for 14 hours by the crack
Hawks unit. Amongst other things, he was questioned about whether there
were funders behind the protest. The questions asked to Phakathi reveal
the level of paranoia that the state has shown around the ever-growing
community protests. In fact, the state has repeatedly claimed that there
has been a sinister ‘third force’ behind the wave of protests. To
supposedly uncover this ‘third force’ and to intimidate people, the
National Intelligence Agency (NIA) has been unleashed on communities over
the last few years. In the process, many people have been arrested,
interrogated and some have even been charged with sedition. For example in
2006, 13 people were charged with sedition in the small town of Harrismith
because they were involved in a community protest. Almost all, however,
have been released for a lack of real evidence and in the end the state
was forced to drop the sedition charges. Nonetheless, the South African
state’s goal of intimidating people is clear. What has also become
patently clear is that there is no ‘third force’; the claims about a
‘third force’ are simply being used to ‘legitimise’ the use of
intelligence agencies against people. The only ‘third force’ driving the
protests are the conditions that people are being forced to live under –
it is sadly not an exaggeration to say the dogs that guard the property of
the rich, and that are used by the police, live under better conditions
than the poor in South Africa.

It is also clear that police force members, who are the foot soldiers of
the state, are taking their cue from leading state officials and
politicians – whether tied to the Democratic Alliance (DA) or the African
National Congress (ANC). The likes of General Cele has encouraged the
police to “shoot to kill” if they feel threatened. The ANC, DA and
Congress of the People (COPE) have more than once branded people embarking
on protests as criminals that need to be dealt with. Even sections within
the country’s trade union leadership, and some ‘leftists’ associated with
them, have at times called community protestors and activists thugs.
Despite uttering regrets about Andries Tatane’s murder, politicians have
also continued to say that protestors need to be subjected to effective
‘crowd control’. Likewise, police officials stated that anyone who
“taunts” the police, despite the death of Tatane, must still be dealt
with. The fact that those in the state believe that they have a right to
‘control’ people and ‘deal with them’ speaks volumes about their
oppressive worldview. In response to a wave of protests in 2009, the
Cabinet also released a wrath of statements including one saying:

“The action that we will be taking is that those who organise these
marches, those who openly perpetuate and promote violent action, the state
will start acting against those individuals”

The Cabinet’s and the state’s message was clear: it was saying to the
poor: protest and the state will come for you, isolate you and crush you.
Such thuggish statements have become common on the lips of South African
state officials. It is in this context that Andries Tatane was killed.

The way the current state views and deals with community protestors also
has remarkable similarity, and continuity, with the practices of the
apartheid state – despite the state being in the hands of a supposed black
nationalist liberation movement – the ANC. Besides apartheid-style
brutality, the post-apartheid state still makes use of apartheid laws to
deal with protests. Under these laws, anyone wanting to protest has to
apply 7 days in advance. Linked to this, the state can refuse permission
on a number of grounds. If permission is not granted then any protest
involving more than 15 people is deemed illegal. The state is then ‘free’,
according to its own laws, to arrest or take action – a euphemism for
firing rubber bullets – against the people involved. Freedom of expression
is hollow under such circumstances. With such practices it is also no
wonder that the South African state is attempting to pass laws that would
allow it to classify vast amounts of information that would stop any
public scrutiny of its practices, abuses and short-comings. The state is
not an entity of the people; it is an entity of oppression.

The wider war

Of course, the suppression of protestors, such as Andries Tatane, is
merely the outward sign of a larger and more intense war that the elite in
South Africa have been waging on the majority of people. In fact, the
elite, through capitalism, have been exploiting people through wage
slavery; stripping people of their jobs to increase profits; turning
houses into a commodity; stripping peoples’ access to water to make
profits; denying people without money access to food; and cutting people’s
electricity when they are too poor to pay. For years people have,
therefore, been robbed by the rich and state officials. As such, the elite
– made up of white capitalists but now joined by a small black elite
centred mainly around the state and ANC – have forced the vast majority of
people in South Africa to live in misery. Indeed, the elite in South
Africa has created and entrenched a society that is defined by continued
exploitation of the poor and workers; that is defined by continued racial
oppression of the majority of workers and the poor, and that is defined by
extreme sexism. The rich and state officials (the ruling classes) have
grown rich and fat out of this situation – living off the blood, sweat and
cheap labour of the, predominantly black, workers and the poor. It is for
this reason that the rich and politicians have come to enjoy one of the
highest living standards in the world. They enjoy lavish houses, serving
staff, massive pay checks – lifestyles that even the royalty of old could
only dream of. Thus, it should not be surprising that South Africa is
statically the most unequal society in the world – it was and is designed
by the ruling classes to be so: their wealth and power is based on it!

The state is war

It is this extreme inequality and deprivation – and accompanying
experience of exploitation, oppression and humiliation – that drives
people, including Andries Tatane, to protest. While we should rightfully
be appalled by the death of Andries Tatane, and other people embarking on
protests, at the hands of the state; we should, however, not be surprised.
The state is the ultimate protector of the unjust and unequal society we
have. If the status quo is even remotely threatened or questioned, the
purpose of the state is to neutralise the threat and/or silence or co-opt

In fact, anarchists have long pointed out that states, of whatever
variety, are inherently oppressive and violent. States are centralising
and hierarchical institutions, which exist to enforce a situation whereby
a minority rules over a majority. The hierarchical structure of all states
also inevitably concentrates power in the hands of the directing elite.
States and the existence of an elite are, therefore, synonymous. States
are the concentrated power of the ruling class – made up of both
capitalists and high ranking state officials – and are a central pillar of
ruling class power. Thus, the state serves dominant minorities and by
definition it has to be centralised, since a minority can only rule when
power is concentrated in their hands and when decisions made by them flow
down a chain of command. It is specifically this that allows minorities
who seek to rule people (high ranking state officials) and exploit people
(capitalists) to achieve their aims.

The fact that the state is an oppressive and hierarchical system, which
operates to protect and entrench the privileged positions of the ruling
class, has also resulted in the continuation of the racial oppression of
the vast majority of the working class (workers and the poor) in South
Africa. The anarchist Mikhail Bakunin foresaw the possibility of such a
situation arising in cases where national liberation was based upon the
strategy of capturing state power – as has happened in South Africa.
Indeed, Bakunin said that the “statist path” was “entirely ruinous for the
great masses of the people” because it did not abolish class power but
simply changed the make-up of the ruling class. Due to the centralised
nature of states, only a few can rule – a majority of people can never be
involved in decision making under a state system as it is hierarchical. As
such, he stated that if the national liberation struggle was carried out
with “ambitious intent to set up a powerful state”, or if “it is carried
out without the people and must therefore depend for success on a
privileged class” it would become a “retrogressive, disastrous,
counter-revolutionary movement”. Over and above this he stressed that
national liberation and the end to all forms of oppression, including that
of race, had to be achieved “as much in the economic as in the political
interests of the masses”. Through their position in the ruling class
(based on their control of the state), the black elite have escaped the
effects of racial oppression and have become oppressors themselves (their
power over the state at times has even been used by them, for their own
interests, against other sections of the ruling class like racist white
capitalists), but racial oppression for the majority of the working class
continues. The privileged position of the black ruling elite – like their
white capitalist counterparts – is based on the continued oppression of
black workers, who have been and are deliberately relegated by the state
and capitalism in South Africa to the role of extremely cheap labour.
Thus, although the working class in South Africa includes white people,
the main source of wealth for the white and black ruling elite depends on
the exploitation of the black working class as a source of super cheap
labour. It is this combination of racial oppression and exploitation on
which the wealth of the elite rests. Thus, when the state and capitalism
remained intact in South Africa, after apartheid, the continued
exploitation of the working class and racial oppression of the majority of
impoverished people were assured. It is this situation that has created
the conditions that have led to the protests in townships in places like
Ficksburg and Ermelo, and it is this situation that has assured that they
will continue.

Indeed, the oppression and exploitation of the majority of people will,
and does, happen even under a parliamentary system. This is because even
in a parliamentary system a handful of people get to make decisions,
instruct others what to do, and enforce these instructions through the
state. When people don’t obey these top-down instructions or disagree with
them, the power of the state is then used to coerce and/ or punish them.
Thus, the state as a centralised mechanism of ruling class power also
claims a monopoly of legitimate force within ‘its’ territory; and will use
that force when it deems necessary – including against protestors raising
issues like a lack of jobs, a lack of housing and a lack of basic
services. It is this violent, oppressive and domineering nature of all
states that have led anarchists, rightfully, to see them as the antithesis
of freedom. The brutal reality is that protestors in South Africa, like
Andries Tatane – demanding a decent life and greater democracy – have
ended up victims of the mechanism of centralised minority rule: the state.
In terms of trying to silence protestors – whether by baton, water cannon,
rubber bullets or live ammunition – the South African state has also been
carrying out one of the main tasks it was designed for: organised


The fact is that capitalism and the state systems are one of the key
reasons why South Africa is the most unequal society in the world. The
state entrenches and enforces this status quo: a status quo based on the
exploitation and oppression of the vast majority of people; made up of the
workers and the poor. Andries Tatane too was a victim of this system.
Indeed, for as long as capitalism and the state exist; inequality will
exist and people will be forced to live in misery. When they raise issues
and protest; the state will try to silence them either by co-option or
violence or a combination of both. The fact also is that for as long as
the state and capitalism continue to exist there will be thousands upon
thousands of Andries Tatanes, Ernesto Nhamuaves, Steve Bikos and Hector
Pietersons. The state and capitalism, to paraphrase Bakunin, are in
combination a vast slaughterhouse and cemetery – sometimes killing workers
and the poor suddenly and openly; sometimes killing them silently and

For as long as the state and capitalism are in place people will also be
driven to protest against the oppression, exploitation and inequalities
that are generated by, and that are part and parcel of, these systems. If
people want a just, fair, equal, genuinely democratic, non-racist,
non-sexist and decent society then capitalism and the state systems need
to be ended. Certainly, people should demand and organise to win immediate
gains like jobs, better wages, housing and services from the state and
capitalists; but ultimately for as long as these systems of class rule
exist; domination, inequality, and oppression will exist. Thus if genuine
material equality is to be achieved, people are going to need to organise
to take direct control of the economy, and run it democratically, for the
benefit of all and to meet the needs of all. Only under such circumstances
will the poverty, which has been driving people like Andries Tatane to
protest, be ended. Only under such a system will racial oppression too be
ended. Likewise, if people want a genuine democracy and a say over their
lives, and not to have their concerns dismissed, then people are going to
have to get rid of the state and replace it with a form of people’s power
based on structures of self-governance like federated community/worker
assemblies and federated councils at regional, national and international
levels. There have been historical experiments, although on a limited
scale, with such structures of direct democracy including in South Africa
during the anti-apartheid struggle. We need to learn from these. In fact,
if we want to ensure that there will be no Andries Tantanes in the future
we need to revive the best practices of Peoples’ Power and build towards
achieving a free and egalitarian world: a world based on the principles
that have become known, through a 150 year struggle for justice, as

This article was originally published on the Zabalaza Anarchist Communist
Front site.

The clip screened on the television news in South Africa is online

There is a collection of other articles on the police murder of Andries
Tatanes here.