Archive for January, 2008

A Poem From Palestine

January 31, 2008

***********************
I Believe in Miracles

By Nahida


You can break my bones
My free spirit is invincible
You can cause me the loss of sight
The light of my insight
You’ll never take away

In the shadows of darkness
Lies the corpse of your might
You can destroy my house
The windows of my hope,
You cannot break
The pillars of my faith
You can never shake

You can threaten me
With weapons of death
And mass destruction
Implanting fear in my heart
You cannot achieve
Nor can you cut off
My divine connection

With a missile
You can tear my body apart
My soul however
Is out of your reach
And is forever intact

You claimed victory in six days!
Victorious are those
With a dignified gaze
Facing tanks with tender flesh
And only with stones,
The F16 fighter blaze

You can never defeat my will to be
Because my power that you cannot explain
Grows from within the roots of my pain
You depend on the United States
For wealth and war supply
My infinite strength stems from

My creator, the One most high

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Iraq conflict has killed a million, says survey

January 31, 2008

REUTERS
Reuters North American News Service

Jan 30, 2008 13:29 EST

LONDON, Jan 30 (Reuters) – More than one million Iraqis have died as a result of the conflict in their country since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, according to research conducted by one of Britain’s leading polling groups.

The survey, conducted by Opinion Research Business (ORB) with 2,414 adults in face-to-face interviews, found that 20 percent of people had had at least one death in their household as a result of the conflict, rather than natural causes.

The last complete census in Iraq conducted in 1997 found 4.05 million households in the country, a figure ORB used to calculate that approximately 1.03 million people had died as a result of the war, the researchers found.

The margin of error in the survey, conducted in August and September 2007, was 1.7 percent, giving a range of deaths of 946,258 to 1.12 million.

ORB originally found that 1.2 million people had died, but decided to go back and conduct more research in rural areas to make the survey as comprehensive as possible and then came up with the revised figure.

The research covered 15 of Iraq’s 18 provinces. Those that not covered included two of Iraq’s more volatile regions — Kerbala and Anbar — and the northern province of Arbil, where local authorities refused them a permit to work.

Estimates of deaths in Iraq have been highly controversial in the past.

Medical journal The Lancet published a peer-reviewed report in 2004 stating that there had been 100,000 more deaths than would normally be expected since the March 2003 invasion, kicking off a storm of protest.

The widely watched Web site Iraq Body Count currently estimates that between 80,699 and 88,126 people have died in the conflict, although its methodology and figures have also been questioned by U.S. authorities and others.

ORB, a non-government-funded group founded in 1994, conducts research for the private, public and voluntary sectors.

The director of the group, Allan Hyde, said it had no objective other than to record as accurately as possible the number of deaths among the Iraqi population as a result of the invasion and ensuing conflict. (Reporting by Luke Baker; editing by Andrew Roche)

Is NATO Committing Genocide in Afghanistan?

January 31, 2008

Targeting Protected Groups

Counterpunch, January 30, 2008

By LIAQUAT ALI KHAN

Sloganeers, propagandists and politicians often use the word “genocide” in ways that the law does not permit. But rarely is the crime of genocide invoked when Western militaries murder Muslim groups. This essay argues that the internationally recognized crime of genocide applies to the intentional killings that NATO troops commit on a weekly basis in the poor villages and mute mountains of Afghanistan to destroy the Taliban, a puritanical Islamic group. NATO combat troops bombard and kill people in Taliban enclaves and meeting places. They also murder defenseless Afghan civilians. The dehumanized label of “Taliban” is used to cloak the nameless victims of NATO operations. Some political opposition to this practice is building in NATO countries, such as Canada, where calls are heard to withdraw troops from Afghanistan or divert them to non-combat tasks.

Dehumanization

In almost all NATO nations, the Taliban have been completely dehumanized – a historically-tested signal that perpetrators of the crime of genocide carry unmitigated intentions to eradicate the dehumanized group. Politicians, the armed forces, the media, and even the general public associate in the West the Taliban with irrational fanatics, intolerant fundamentalists, brutal assassins, beheaders of women, bearded extremists, and terrorists. This luminescent negativity paves the way for aggression, military operations, and genocide. Promoting the predatory doctrine of collective self-defense, killing the Taliban is celebrated as a legal virtue. To leave the Taliban in control of Afghanistan, says NATO, is to leave a haven for terrorism.

Continued . . .

Survivors detail Suharto-era massacres

January 31, 2008

Survivors Describe Mass Killings Under Indonesian Dictator Suharto

ANTHONY DEUTSCH

AP News

Jan 27, 2008 17:02 EST

Hiding out in the dense, humid jungle, Markus Talam watched Indonesian soldiers herd manacled prisoners from trucks, line them up and mow them down with round after round of automatic weapons fire.

It was 1968, and the killings were part of a final offensive by forces under Gen. Suharto to wipe out the communist party and secure his position as leader of Indonesia, now the world’s most populous Muslim nation.

“They gunned them down and dumped their bodies in a mass grave dug by other prisoners. I remember the sound of the guns clearly: tat-tat, tat-tat, tat-tat … over and over again,” said Talam, 68, who was later jailed for 10 years after being named a leftist sympathizer.

Suharto, who died on Sunday at a Jakarta hospital, seized control of the military in 1965 and ruled the country for 32 years, suppressing dissent with force and supported by an American government at the height of the Cold War.

Estimates for the number killed during his bloody rise to power — from 1965 to 1968 — range from a government figure of 78,000 to 1 million cited by U.S. historians Barbara Harff and Ted Robert Gurr, who have published books on Indonesia’s history. It was the worst mass slaughter in Southeast Asia’s modern history after the Khmer Rouge killing fields in Cambodia.

Continued . . .

Malalai Joya: My country is using Islamic law to erode the rights of women

January 31, 2008

The Independent, Thursday, 31 January 2008

After six years in control, this government has proved itself to be as bad as the Taliban – in fact, it is little more than a photocopy of the Taliban. The situation in Afghanistan is getting progressively worse – and not just for women, but for all Afghans.

Our country is being run by a mafia, and while it is in power there is no hope for freedom for the people of Afghanistan. How can anyone, man or woman, enjoy basic freedoms when living under the shadow of warlords? The government was not democratically elected, and it is now trying to use the country’s Islamic law as a tool with which to limit women’s rights.

Continued . . .

Arrested chief justice brands Musharraf as brutal

January 31, 2008

Angela Balakrishnan and agencies
Wednesday January 30, 2008
Guardian Unlimited

Pakistan’s ousted chief justice today denounced the president, Pervez Musharraf, as an “extremist general” who believed in “brutal justice” for sacking 60 top judges and keeping him under house arrest for the past three months.Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudry, who was sacked when Musharraf declared emergency rule last November, said in a letter to western leaders that his wife and three children, one of whom has special needs, were even forbidden from going on to the front lawn of their home in Islamabad as it was occupied by police.

Continued . . .

U.S. veto kills resolution to condemn Israel, despite Gaza crimes

January 30, 2008

Once again in the Security Council

Granma International, January 30, 2008


NEW YORK, Jan. 29 .— The UN Security Council has suspended discussion on a resolution regarding the precarious situation in the Gaza Strip, where Israel continues to carry out indiscriminate attacks on the Palestinian people, after the United States once again opposed condemning Tel Aviv in any way.

Washington, which has veto power, is attempting to legitimate the conduct of the Zionist government, which through its blockade and air and land invasions, has impoverished the Palestinian people of Gaza and left many victims, alleging “self-defense” against the launching of missiles by resistance forces.

The first version of the non-binding resolution was rejected by the United States, ANSA reported. In recent days, experts from the United States and Libya, which currently holds the presidency of the Security Council, worked to try to reach a compromise, but were unable to do so given the obstinate position taken by the United States.

Meanwhile, Tel Aviv maintains its blockade on the Gaza Strip, where the Palestinian population is surviving without electricity and with food and medicine shortages.

Pioneering Blackwater Protesters Given Secret Trial and Criminal Conviction

January 30, 2008

By Jeremy Scahill, AlterNet. Posted January 29, 2008.

Protesters who re-enacted one of Blackwater’s worst civilian massacres in Iraq got jail time, while the real killers remain free.

Last week in Currituck County, N.C., Superior Court Judge Russell Duke presided over the final step in securing the first criminal conviction stemming from the deadly actions of Blackwater Worldwide, the Bush administration’s favorite mercenary company. Lest you think you missed some earth-shifting, breaking news, hold on a moment. The “criminals” in question were not the armed thugs who gunned down 17 Iraqi civilians and wounded more than 20 others in Baghdad’s Nisour Square last September. They were seven nonviolent activists who had the audacity to stage a demonstration at the gates of Blackwater’s 7,000-acre private military base in North Carolina to protest the actions of mercenaries acting with impunity — and apparent immunity — in their names and those of every American.

Continued . . . 

British media’s advice to Musharraf

January 30, 2008

The News International, Wednesday, January 30, 2008

By Rauf Klasra

LONDON: The British media has told President Pervez Musharraf that if he is serious about giving Pakistan a real transition to democracy, then he should heed the timely advice of 100 retired military officers, who now want him to resign, as many of them once “trained the future president”.

This single advice given by a leading British newspaper, the Guardian, sums up the outcome of the four-day long stay of Musharraf in London in his bid to win the hostile British media, public and its think-tanks since he removed judges, detained lawyers, beat the members of civil society, curbed media freedom followed by assassination of Benazir Bhutto.

At the end of Musharraf’s visit to Europe, the British media has come out with its own analysis of the speeches and commitments he made with the European leaders during his eight-day-long trip to four countries.

Prominent among many reviews published on the visit of Musharraf, the Guardian has simply told Musharraf to hear the voices of those who want him to resign.

Continued . . .

Government leaders pay tribute to Indonesia’s former dictator Suharto

January 30, 2008
World Socialist Web Site, January 30, 2008
By Peter Symonds

The death of former Indonesian dictator Suharto on Sunday at the age of 86 has elicited a stream of tributes from world leaders and in the international press. There is something both disturbing and ominous about praise for a man who was responsible for the murder of at least half a million people in the 1965 coup that brought him to power and the deaths of another 200,000 following the 1975 Indonesian annexation of East Timor.Suharto’s funeral, with full military honours, took place on Monday in the central Javan city of Solo. While he was forced to step down in 1998, the regime that Suharto established remains largely intact, despite its more recent democratic trappings. Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, himself a Suharto-era general, presided over the lavish ceremony, hailing the dead dictator as “a loyal fighter, a true soldier and a respected statesman”.

While no prominent US official attended, a White House spokesman announced that President Bush had sent “his condolences to the people of Indonesia on the loss of their former president”. Two of South East Asia’s longstanding autocrats—former Malaysia Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and Singapore’s elder statesman Lee Kuan Yew—flew to Indonesia to pay their last respects to the military strongman.

Continued . . .