Wednesday, November 9, 2011
Cynthia McKinney from South Africa & on Libya
Cynthia McKinney report from South Afria:
Hello all, I'm in Cape Town, South Africa for the Bertrand Russell Tribunal's third sitting. The topic for this weekend is the extent to which practices in Israel bear the hallmark of the features that characterized South Africa's apartheid. The lawyers have prepared the legal advice, the testimony has been assembled, and as a juror, I have to read it before in the morning and that's only a few hours away for me!!
The Session opens with remarks from Stephane Hessel of Indignez-Vous! (Get Indignant!) fame, followed by Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Cape Town is 6 hours ahead of eastern time. Tune in at any time because it's being livestreamed by Khalil Amod of Channel 4 News, who was a part of the DIGNTY Delegation to Libya during the US/NATO bombing. The broadcasts are multilingual so non-English-speakers are most welcome. In fact, we have testimony/Jurors in French, Spanish, English, Hebrew, and Arabic. You can find us livestreaming online at: http://www.russelltribunalonpalestine.com/en/.
Just being here in this remarkable country, that has overcome so many odds, is breathtaking. Listening to one of the anti-apartheid stalwarts brought chills to me as he recounted how it was the people in the United States who really turned around the rest of the world. Because people in the U.S. chose to go to jail rather than live another day with apartheid on the planet, really did make a difference for the rest of the world.
I have long said this about our power in the U.S., but here was someone who had come the hard way through armed struggle validating a point I have made so many times, I am tempted to give up. And then, this evening, Desert Rose (available on youtube) performed four songs that just took my breath away: Who is Your God? About the Palestinian struggle; Love is Your Mother; a new song called Revolution (I played the talking drum on that one!!); and the national anthem. What a national anthem the South Africans have. Even the tones of the emotional tune evokeSoweto, Biko, Hani, Robben Island, and so much more. By the way, these South Africans realize the incompleteness of their triumph: we couldn't go to Robben Island today because the workers are on strike at the country's most popular tourist attraction.
Imagine that. Robben Island now a tourist attraction when, one of the ANC organizers who spoke to us this morning reminded us that during his 18 years in prison with Nelson Mandela, that Mandela did not even get one slice of bread and was forced to wear short pants because Black men were always to be boys and no bread was accorded to Blacks, while he, and Indian, got to wear long pants and got a measure of bread. Thus, apartheid rules even etended into the prison. One white ANC member was among that group of top ANC people imprisoned and he was segregated from the others and was sent to another prison that served Whites. The stories that just flow from the lips depicting experiences of these people are just amazing.
Also, Alice Walker has joined us as a juror on the Tribunal. She struck a chord with all of us today as we visited a neighborhood that managed to rise above the apartheid rules of the day, District 6, until the Afrikaaner government decided that the land could be better served for gentrification. So the people were evicted and given the equivalent of $2,500 and told to leave. We placed flowers on a heap of stones that the people used to defend their dignity and their land as the authorities came with bulldozers to bulldoze their homes.
It was a particularly poignant moment for our group because Jeff Halper of the Israeli organization against home demolitions was with us. It was at this moment that I really began to understand the depth of the similarities experienced by the South Africans and the Israelis/Palestinians. And what Alice said was so simple: these things hurt so much. Everyone nodded in agreement and I gave her a stout "amen."
Tomorrow's opening day promises to be evidence packed.
I find myself teary-eyed a lot these days because of all the death and destruction, hatred and meanness that I see around me, especially from this country that I know can do so much better. But my sister from London, Elleanne, sent me this video and it did give me a glimpse into the hope of the young people and the young-at-heart people of OCCUPY and that did lift my spirits. Crank up your volume, listen to this, and enjoy: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0dntZZe9h84. You might actually conclude by thinking that things aren't so bad, after all, because maybe these people of OCCUPY really do get it, mean it when they say they won't be fooled, and that can only mean that time is running out for the bad guys and gals. Now that's a thought that gives me hope.
Tune in to the Russell Tribunal livestream here: http://www.russelltribunalonpalestine.com/en/.
Introduction to "The Humanitarian War" by Jonathan Teil
A Video of Lies, Deception, and Betrayal in sparking the war against Libya
27 October 2011
We're human beings! There is a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious that you're so sick at heart that you can't take part. You can't even passively take part. And you've got to put your bodies upon the gears, and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus and you've got to make it stop. And you've got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it, that unless you're free, the machine will be prevented from working at all!
Mario Savio, December 1964
In December 1964, the United States was a cauldron on fire. Fervent anti-Vietnam War protests occurred alongside demonstrations and sit-ins as part of the broader Civil Rights Movement that included calls for recognition of indigenous rights, Black rights, Puerto Rican self-determination, Chicano rights, and women's rights. At this important moment of synchronicity, Blacks wore signs proclaiming, "I am a man" and young White pro-civil rights and anti-war demonstrators at University of California, Berkeley declared: "We're human beings!"
It is to our humanity that I now appeal.
During this long month of October, I can say without a doubt that all of our institutions, even those that exist solely for the pursuit of peace, have failed us: from international organizations founded so that there would be no more war, to international institutions whose sole mission is to render justice, the mighty prerequisite for there to be any peace at all.
No justice, no peace.
And what kind of justice am I talking about?
The kind of justice that satisfies the soul that the idea of justice, the ideal of justice, has been served.
I'm talking about the substance of justice that gives form and mass to appearance. Therefore, the justice of which I speak must be open--able to be seen by the public. However, merely the appearance of justice, without its substance, is shallow and recognizable. The skilled eye can easily spot a sham, a kangaroo court, a railroaded defendant. Especially when a foundational ingredient of justice is missing: and that is, truth.
In my ascendant order, justice begins with truth and peace ends in affirming human dignity.
No truth, no justice; no justice no peace.
So what kind of peace am I talking about? The kind of peace of which President John F. Kennedy spoke at American University in 1963. President Kennedy said:
'There are few earthly things more beautiful than a university,' wrote John Masefield . . . He admired the splendid beauty of a university because it was, he said, a place where those who hate ignorance may strive to know, where those who perceive truth, may strive to make others see. I have therefore chosen this time and place to discuss a topic on which ignorance too often abounds and the truth too rarely perceived. And that is the most important topic on earth: peace.
What kind of a peace do I mean and what kind of a peace do we seek? Not a Pax Americana enforced on the world by American weapons of war. Not the peace of the grave, or the security of the slave. I'm talking about genuine peace, the kind of peace that makes life on earth worth living; the kind that enables men and nations to grow and to hope and build a better life for their children. Not merely peace for Americans, but for all men and women; not merely peace in our time, but peace in all time.
I speak of peace because of the new face of war. . . .
I speak of peace, therefore, as the necessary, rational end of rational men. . . . But I also believe that we must reexamine our own attitudes--as individuals and as a nation. . . . Every graduate of this school, every thoughtful citizen who despairs of war and wishes to bring peace, should begin by looking inward, by examining his own attitude towards the possibilities of peace . . . towards freedom and peace here at home. . . . Our problems are man-made, therefore they can be solved by man; and man can be as big as he wants. No problem of human destiny is beyond human beings; man's reason and spirit have often solved the seemingly unsolvable. Peace is a process--a way of solving problems. . . . World peace, like community peace, does not require that each man love his neighbor, it requires only that they live together in mutual tolerance. Submitting their disputes to a just and peaceful settlement.
Peace need not be impractical and war need not be inevitable. No government or social system is so evil that it's people must be considered as lacking in virtue.
That was President Kennedy in 1963. He was not awarded a peace prize, but instead received a bullet through his brains. Time and time again, he refused to go along with the abominable schemes of his own Pentagon (using nuclear weapons and implementation of Operation Northwoods are two examples).
However, we are now in the 21st Century and our United States President Barack Obama has been honored with a Nobel Peace Prize. In light of events ordered by our Commander-in-Chief in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen, and Somalia--for starters--clearly, the Nobel Committee at best acted prematurely, or perhaps have defined war as peace without letting us in on their new lexicography. In addition, these aforementioned countries are merely appetizers, Libya was a much more substantial course, as Syria, Algeria, and maybe Iran are thought by many to be the next course in this multi-nation feast of blood. Russia and China surely constitute the piece de resistance of the main course; and U.S. citizens at home and abroad seem to be the dessert. Sadly, any visit to any airport since 9/11/01 or now, a ride down a Tennessee road where the Transportation Security Authority (TSA) reign, it feels like the dessert is being rolled out before the main course.
We know that truth is the first casualty of war. We've seen it time and time again. Lies have accompanied every modern war--from World War II to the Vietnam War. Why would it be any different for these 21st Century wars? It is not. 935 times our leaders lied to us in the run-up to the war against the people of Iraq. And with Libya, some commentators have written that the lies have been even more offensive.
One lie has already been unraveled and I want to focus on that one right now.
The Libyan who went to Geneva and collected signatures on a letter demanding an investigation of the murders of thousands of Libyans by the Jamahirya government is now on video in an interview revealing how he used a network of friends to get the signatures on the letter and that he just relied on the word of others that thousands of Libyans had been killed by the Jamahirya government. When asked point blank if he had any evidence whatsoever to prove that the allegations contained in the letter were true, he answered, "no."
Everything that we have witnessed in Libya, all of the bloodshed, is based on the word of this one individual and he admits on camera that he had not one whit of proof that the letter's contents were true.
[BK NOTES: The idea that the Gadhafi's murders, political assassinations at home and abroad and the execution of political prisoners - 1,000 in one day - are based on this guy's petition is patently false - and nothing is based on what he has to say. Rather, the evidence of Gadhafi's crimes have been presented to the world and apparently Cynthia refuses to believe it.]
He was not even allowed to occupy the first position as signatory to the letter! The very first signatory to the letter is United Nations Watch, a non-governmental organization affiliated with the American Jewish Committee. NATO commented recently that they have owned this operation from the beginning, unlike in Iraq.
And now look at Libya.
What of the, by some estimates, 20,000 people killed? What of the Libyans whose murders are readily available on the internet in videos, including the Qaddafi family.
What of the Libyans whose skin is dark like mine and who have been targeted for murder because some Libyans would rather be identified with Whites or Europeans and not the Africans that they are.
What about the migrant workers, who under the Jamahirya were viewed as partners in the development of Libya and Africa? Many of them lost their lives because they chose to stay because the Libya jamahirya had been so good to them. Those who did not stay, fled to unsafe refugee camps set up along the Tunisia border, some of whom were financed by the very countries contributing to the bombing.
What about the families of those migrant workers who depended on remittances from their loved ones just to survive?
What about the families of those incinerated underneath US/NATO bombs, whose names we will never know, and whose fate their loved ones will never know?
What about those left homeless by US/NATO bombing? In the Jamahirya, every Libyan was entitled to a home. In fact, the Jamahirya was in the process of building tens of thousands of housing units, readily visible all over the country. Now, those habited and uninhabited have been destroyed. While I was in Libya, I learned that the Jamahirya had set aside funding to repair homes and businesses damaged by the weapons of US/NATO and their allies.
What about the infrastructure totally destroyed, including the pipe factory for the Great Manmade River?
What about future generations of Libyans cursed to look like the deformed babies ofBaghdad and Fallujah due to US/NATO's use of depleted uranium?
What about the future of the African states and the African Union that depended on Libyan finance for many of their activities?
And finally, what of us? Citizens of the United States whose tax dollars and silence--and in some cases, outright support--allowed this travesty to take place. The Libyan people must be stunned by the silence of their friends.
What a spectacle of Hillary Clinton giving an order to kill and then laughing when she is told that it is carried out. Hillary Clinton willingly joined ranks with Tzipni Livni, who during Israel's Operation Cast Lead, defended Israel's war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide against the people of Gaza; Clinton joins league with Henry Kissinger as someone having given a green light for murder. Maybe now she will qualify for a peace prize, too.
US contractors are on the ground in Libya with reports of Blackwater being among the Qataris, British, French, Italian, US, and other Special Forces. The Libyan people have been irreparably harmed and with the murder on 20 October of their Chief of all the tribes, Ali, unarmed at his home in Bani Walid, there are rumors of revenge killings already having begun.
Video images of the last moments of what we are told are Muammar and Muatassim Qaddafi, amid shouts of God is Great, make me shudder. In my opinion, the dignity of all of us has been debased by the cumulative images of the US/NATO "humanitarian intervention" in Libya, starting with the meeting in Geneva at the United Nations Human Rights Commission, through the perorations of the US United Nations Ambassador, through all the videos of murders and death and destruction, through the events of 20 October and up to now.
As my fellow peace and human rights activists of the 1960s did, I now proclaim my own humanity: my heart, soul, character, and ethics are intact. I am deeply affected by what I have witnessed. I am deeply disappointed in how far the United States has been steered off course. The people of the United States do have the power still to stop this madness. I recommend the words of our 35th President when he asks that each of us examine our own attitude toward peace. And what kind of peace do we want for our country and the world?
Watch this video and then you, too, will know that everything that has happened to the people of Libya and the people of Africa who depended on them, and to us, too, in allowing this to take place, in some cases even advocating this, has been based on assertions where there is no evidence--admitted by the man who lodged the initial complaint followed by misinformation, propaganda, and deliberate disinformation. I went to Libya with a delegation of journalists to strive to know; I participated in a 29-city tour in an effort to share the truth with those willing to hear. I failed in my effort to stop the madness. Sadly, in this affair, there has been no truth, no justice, no peace, and no dignity.
http://www.laguerrehumanitaire.fr/english or here for shorter load-up time:
Tune in to the Russell Tribunal livestream here: http://www.russelltribunalonpalestine.com/en/.