STATEMENT BY ARUNDHATI ROY
I write this from Srinagar, Kashmir. This morning’s papers say that I may
be arrested on charges of sedition for what I have said at recent public
meetings on Kashmir. I said what millions of people here say every day. I
said what I, as well as other commentators have written and said for
years. Anybody who cares to read the transcripts of my speeches will see
that they were fundamentally a call for justice. I spoke about justice for
the people of Kashmir who live under one of the most brutal military
occupations in the world; for Kashmiri Pandits who live out the tragedy of
having been driven out of their homeland; for Dalit soldiers killed in
Kashmir whose graves I visited on garbage heaps in their villages in
Cuddalore; for the Indian poor who pay the price of this occupation in
material ways and who are now learning to live in the terror of what is
becoming a police state.
Yesterday I traveled to Shopian, the apple-town in South Kashmir which had
remained closed for 47 days last year in protest against the brutal rape
and murder of Asiya and Nilofer, the young women whose bodies were found
in a shallow stream near their homes and whose murderers have still not
been brought to justice. I met Shakeel, who is Nilofer’s husband and
Asiya’s brother. We sat in a circle of people crazed with grief and anger
who had lost hope that they would ever get ‘insaf’—justice—from India, and
now believed that Azadi—freedom— was their only hope. I met young stone
pelters who had been shot through their eyes. I traveled with a young man
who told me how three of his friends, teenagers in Anantnag district, had
been taken into custody and had their finger-nails pulled out as
punishment for throwing stones.
In the papers some have accused me of giving ‘hate-speeches’, of wanting
India to break up. On the contrary, what I say comes from love and pride.
It comes from not wanting people to be killed, raped, imprisoned or have
their finger-nails pulled out in order to force them to say they are
Indians. It comes from wanting to live in a society that is striving to be
a just one. Pity the nation that has to silence its writers for speaking
their minds. Pity the nation that needs to jail those who ask for justice,
while communal killers, mass murderers, corporate scamsters, looters,
rapists, and those who prey on the poorest of the poor, roam free.
October 26 2010
In Unity and Struggle,
US Human Rights Network Training Call
COINTELPRO and its Historical Legacy Educational Call
Thursday, October 28, 2010
2 pm EST
“COINTELPRO” was the FBI’s secret and illegal program to undermine and destroy the popular upsurge and mass movements for social justice that swept the US, beginning with the early civil rights movement and Puerto Rican independence movement in the 1950s, and continuing through the 1960s and 1970s. The name comes from "COunterINtelligence PROgram, and it was ordered by the infamous FBI Director, J. Edgar Hoover, to “misdirect, discredit, disrupt, and otherwise neutralize” progressive and radical organizations and leaders, up to and including outright assassination of leaders. Illegal FBI operations also included infiltration, wiretapping of phones, opening mail, break-ins, psychological warfare, grand juries, frame-ups, imprisonment, and a wide range of other surveillance, harassment, and intimidation. Illegal activities were directed at a wide range of groups and individuals, from Cesar Chavez and Martin Luther King to more militant groups, such as the Black Panther Party, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, and the Revolutionary Action Movement. The most intense operations were directed against movements by peoples of color, particularly the Black liberation movement, and Native American, Puerto Rican, and Chicano/Mexicano movements, but also included the entire antiwar, student, women’s movements, and leftwing organizations. While COINTELPRO was an FBI operation, it now is seen to include many other government and military agencies, local police, and right wing organizations. COINTELPRO was discovered in March, 1971, when still anonymous antiwar activists found secret files when they raided a draft board that shared offices with the FBI in Media, Pennsylvania. They removed the files and released them to the news media. While there were Congressional investigations and some of these illegal activities were exposed, many of the crimes of COINTELPRO remain unknown. In addition to the highly destructive impact of COINTELPRO during those times, many political prisoners, convicted in the 1960s and 1970s, remain in prison to this day.
To register for this call use the following link:
A prolific American Indian scholar/activist, Ward Churchill is a founding member of the Rainbow Council of Elders, and longtime member of the leadership council of the American Indian Movement of Colorado. In addition to his numerous works on Indigenous history, he has written extensively on U.S. foreign policy and the repression of political dissent, including the FBI’s COINTELPRO operations against the Black Panther Party and the American Indian Movement. Churchill has written over 20 books, including Fantasies of the Master Race, Struggle for the Land, On the Justice of Roosting Chickens, From A Native Son, Critical Issues in Native North America, The COINTELPRO Papers, Indians R Us?, Agents of Repression, Since Predator Came, and A Little Matter of Genocide: Holocaust and Denial in the Americas. Five of his books have received human rights awards.
Akinyele Umoja is an activist, scholar and educator. He is been active over thirty years in the liberation struggle of Afrikan people, particularly working with the New Afrikan Independence Movement. He is a founding member of the New Afrikan Peoples Organization (NAPO) and the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement (MXGM). Akinyele is particularly committed to work to gain Amnesty for political prisoners and prisoners of war and to win reparations for Afrikan people. Akinyele is an Associate Professor of African-American Studies at Georgia State University (GSU). Akinyele has contributed articles in several publications including Soulbook, Nommo, By Any Mean Any Necessary, Black Agenda Report, Breakthrough, BLU, Black Star, Journal of Black Studies, The Black Scholar, New Political Science, and Socialism and Democracy.. He is currently writing a book based titled, “Eye for an Eye: The Role of Armed Resistance in the Mississippi Freedom Movement. He also contributed articles to The Black Panther Party Reconsidered, edited by Charles E. Jones; Liberation, Imagination, and the Black Panther Party, edited by Kathleen Cleaver and George Katisaficus; The Malcolm X Reader edited by James Conyers and Andrew Smallwood; and the Companion on African-American History edited by Alton Hornsby.
To join the Political Prisoner and State Repression Working Group email Efia Wangaza at email@example.com.
In Unity and Struggle,
US Human Rights Network Training Call
Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Educational Call
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
2 pm EST
For the first time, the United Nations is investigating the entire human rights record of the United States through the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), and there are opportunities for the community to contribute its perspectives as part of the review process. The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) is a new UN mechanism that examines all countries based not only on the human rights obligations set forth in the treaties they ratified, but also those in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the UN Charter.
This process centers around a discussion between the government and the UN Human Rights Council, based on three documents:
1) the government’s report on its human rights status,
2) a compilation of UN human rights reports on the country, and
3) a compilation of civil society reports.
The review of the U.S. before the Human Rights Council will occur on November 5, 2010 from 9 AM to Noon Geneva time.
The USHRN is coordinating US Civil Society work on this mechanism through a 15-person Planning Committee, representing US Human Rights organizations spanning the US in location, size and issue. In the past year, the committee assisted in coordination of 10 government-civil society consultation, in pressuring the US Government to include issues raised at consultations in their UN report, and in coordinating 25 Joint Stakeholder reports on human rights in the US to the United Nations. These reports are all included in published format, available on www.ushrnetwork.org/upr_reports
The UPR Planning Committee now hosts a training call open to anyone interested in building support for human rights in the US through international advocacy. The call will include updates on progress integrating civil society concerns in the UPR process, as well as planning a National response to the November 5th review and a follow-up process for communication with the US Government. Activities include viewing parties of the review session and discussion on the best paths for utilizing the UPR process in our local campaigns.
To register for this call use the following link:
· Theresa Harris, Human Rights USA
· JoAnn Ward, Columbia Law School Human Rights Institute
· Ejim Dike, Urban Justice Center Human Rights Project
· Eric Tars, National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty
To join the National Coordinating UPR Listserve to receive timely updates by emailing your request and contact information to lbaum@ushrnetwork.
In Unity and Struggle,
October 18, 2010
Oct. 23rd Mass Rally in Oakland — Justice for Oscar Grant! Jail for Killer Cops!
Dock Workers to Shut Down Bay Area Ports to Protest Police Killings
By JACK HEYMAN
Emotions ran high when longshore workers at their July membership meeting were addressed by Cephus Johnson, the uncle of Oscar Grant, the young black man who was killed by a cop at the Fruitvale BART station in Oakland on New Year’s Day 2009. Recounting the sidewalk mural in the front of the hiring hall near Fisherman’s Wharf that depicts two strikers lying face down with the inscription: “Two ILA (longshoremen) Shot in the Back, Police Murder”, he appealed to the union to support justice for his slain nephew. He said, “That mural shook me because that’s exactly what happened to Oscar”.
It got even hotter in the union hall when Jack Bryson took the mike. He is the father of two of Oscar Grant’s friends terrorized by police at the train station as they sat handcuffed and helpless watching their friend die and hearing him moan. Bryson reported that police were calling for a rally the following Monday in the lily-white suburb of Walnut Creek to demand that Johannes Mehserle the convicted killer cop go free. He asked the union members to join Oscar Grant supporters to protest the cop rally and they did. Outnumbering the 100 or so pro-Mehserle demonstrators by 3 to 1.
The New Year’s Day horror scene was videotaped by other young train passengers and broadcast on YouTube and TV news across the country. Grant, the father of a four year old girl, worked as a butcher’s apprentice at Farmer Joe’s supermarket nearby on Fruitvale Avenue. The litany of police killings of innocent young black and Latino men has evoked a public outcry in California. Yet, when it comes to killer cops, especially around election time, with both the Democratic and Republican parties espousing law and order, the mainstream media either expunges or whitewashes the issue.
Angered by the pro-police rallies and news coverage calling for killer cop Mehserle’s freedom, Local 10 of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union has called for a labor and community rally October 23rd in Oakland to demand justice for Oscar Grant and the jailing of killer cops. Bay Area ports will shut down that day to stand with the black community and others against the scourge of police brutality.
Anthony Leviege, a longshore union rally organizer, said “Many unions, including the San Francisco and Alameda Labor Councils, have endorsed and are mobilizing for the rally. They see the need in the current economic crisis to build unity with the community to defend jobs, public education, health care and housing for all. And unions defending black and brown youth against police brutality is fundamental to that unity."
In this race-caste society there’s nothing more controversial than a white cop convicted of killing a young black man like Oscar Grant… or of a black man like Mumia Abu-Jamal, framed by a corrupt and racist judicial system, accused of killing a white police officer when the opposite was the case. Jamal was nearly murdered by the police. His “crime” was that he didn’t die on the spot, as Oscar Grant did. Mumia, the Frederick Douglass of our time, exposes the hypocrisy of democracy in America while fighting for his life on death row in Pennsylvania. His possibly final hearing is set for November 9th. Killer cops belong in jail, their victims (those who survive like Mumia) should go free. But that’s not how justice in capitalist America works. The racist heritage of slavery is still with us.
Despite the election of its first black president, the United States has still not moved beyond the Supreme Court’s 1857 Dred Scott decision: “The Negro has no rights which the white man is bound to respect.” Just how deeply racism is embedded in the fabric of American society can be seen in President Obama’s “teachable moment” in the case of Harvard professor Henry Gates (arrested by police for “breaking into” his own home!). The president, a friend of Professor Gates, upon hearing of the bizarre arrest called it a "stupidity”. When police loudly objected, Obama quickly and apologetically retracted his characterization over a photo op with the cop, the professor and him over a friendly beer.
Civil rights activists who were targets of racist attacks used to joke that the KKK wore white at night and blue in the daytime. Killer cop Mehserle was convicted of “involuntary manslaughter,” though the videotapes show him shooting Grant as he lay passively face down about to be handcuffed. The media universally has tainted outraged protesters, blaming them for rioting while favoring Mehserle whose sentencing hearing is set for November 5. During a recent Giants’ baseball game in San Francisco Mehersle’s father was sympathetically interviewed on TV. But where is the justice for Oscar Grant’s family and his now 5 year old daughter?
LABOR MUST DEFEND MINORITIES AGAINST RACIST POLICE ATTACKS
The police murder of two strikers provoked the 1934 San Francisco General Strike. Seven maritime workers in all were killed by police in West Coast ports during a strike for the union hiring hall. Every July 5, Bloody Thursday, all ports on the West Coast are shut down to honor the labor martyrs. It’s a living legacy that burns deep in the hearts of longshore and other maritime workers.
Some have asked, what’s the connection between unions and the killing of a young black man? Plenty, according to Richard Washington, an Oakland longshoreman. He recalled the history of the longshore union and its struggle against the favoritism and racism of the “shape-up” hiring system that preceded the union hiring hall. At start of the 1934 S.F. Maritime Strike, Harry Bridges, head of the militant Strike Committee, appealed to the black community. Strikers implored blacks to support the strike and vowed to share work on the waterfront after their victory in the midst of the Great Depression when jobs were scarce, not unlike today. Blacks were integrated on the docks, a shining example being set by the San Francisco longshore local, and the union has been fighting against racist attacks and for working class unity since then.
A wall mural in the union hiring hall depicts the Red Angel, Elaine Black, of the International Labor Defense (ILD) during the ’34 Big Strike which defended strikers. ILD has a rich history in the radical labor movement, originally headed up by James P. Cannon, an early leading communist. The ILD’s pioneering class struggle defense began with the mass labor demonstrations defending Italian anarchist immigrant workers Sacco and Vanzetti, uniting all of the labor movement regardless of political differences.
In 2003, at the start of the U.S. war in Iraq, protesters in the port of Oakland and longshoremen were shot by Oakland riot police with “nonlethal” weapons. The UN Human Rights Commission condemned this police attack as “the most violent” police attack on antiwar demonstrators. Then-mayor Jerry Brown, now backed by the police in his bid for California governor, gave cops the green light. The rationale for the bloody attack was given by a spokesman for the state’s anti-terrorism agency newly formed by Democrat governor Gray Davis and Attorney General Bill Lockyer. The spokesman for the California Anti-Terrorism and Information Center in a twisted tautology said that anyone demonstrating against a war against terror could be a terrorist themselves. The OPD attack cost the city of Oakland a couple of million dollars when the dust settled.
ILWU longshoremen have given up a day’s wages time and again to show solidarity with dockworkers in Liverpool, England; Charleston, South Carolina; and Australia and to protest with dock actions on moral issues of the day like apartheid in South Africa, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, in defense of innocent death row prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal and recently the Israeli military killing of civilians bringing aid to Gaza by boat.
Now, the ILWU is calling on unions to link up with community organizations under their banner, “An Injury to One is an Injury to All.” From all accounts it’s a clarion call that will muster thousands fed up with the economic crisis and the scapegoating of minorities.
Jack Heyman, a working longshoreman, sits on the Executive Board of ILWU Local 10 and the Board of Directors of the John Brown Society. He has been active in all of the union’s struggles mentioned in this article.
In Unity and Struggle,
This small victory is due in no small part to the organizing and applied pressure of the Chicago Anti-Eviction Campaign which has been stepping up demonstrations and organizing eviction defenses in Chicago. For more information on the Chicago Anti-Eviction Campaign visit www.chicagoantieviction.org. Also visit the Take Back the Land Movement, which the Chicago Anti-Eviction Campaign is a founding and leading member of at www.takebacktheland.org.
Sheriff Dart: No Evictions for Questioable Foreclosures
Updated: Tuesday, 19 Oct 2010, 10:52 AM CDT
Published : Tuesday, 19 Oct 2010, 10:52 AM CDT
FOX Chicago News
Chicago – With three of the nation’s leading mortgage lenders admitting to questionable and perhaps illegal practices in mortgage foreclosures, Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart announced a moratorium on evictions involving those lenders.
The sheriff said he will not carry out evictions involving those lenders until they can provide complete assurance that the foreclosure was done properly and legally, according to a release from the sheriff’s office. The moratorium is set to take effect Monday — giving affected banks five business days to respond to a letter Dart sent last week.
It impacts foreclosure eviction orders filed with Dart’s office by Bank of America, J.P. Morgan Chase and GMAC/Ally Financial. Along with their subsidiaries, those firms make up about a third of the approximately 3,700 eviction orders filed with Dart’s office annually, the release said.
In recent days, each of those lenders has admitted it is uncertain about the legitimacy of some foreclosure actions. Specifically, some employees said they never read foreclosure documents before attesting they had been verified. Though some lenders put a freeze on new foreclosures or those in the midst of legal proceedings, nothing was stopping eviction orders already given to sheriff’s deputies, the release said.
On Monday, Bank of America announced it had reviewed thousands of foreclosure documents in Illinois and elsewhere, and will properly refile some foreclosures beginning next week — though Dart questions those already waiting for his deputies to execute or those already done.
“I can’t possibly be expected to evict people from their homes when the banks themselves can’t say for sure everything was done properly,” Dart said. “I need some kind of assurance that we aren’t evicting families based on fraudulent behavior by the banks.”
Dart plans to extend the moratorium to any other lending institutions which admit to or which investigators find engaged in similarly questionable practices.
On Friday, Dart sent notice to attorneys for the affected banks that he wants them to provide an affidavit affirming any foreclosures they file in Cook County have been properly processed in accordance with Illinois law, the release said.
Additionally, he is asking those banks to provide the same for awaiting eviction orders. That’s because legal proceedings generally take about two years from the time a foreclosure is filed until it reaches the sheriff’s office.
Even after filing with the sheriff’s office, however, it takes about 10 months before a foreclosure eviction order is actually carried out. About 20 Cook County Sheriff’s deputies execute approximately 14,000 foreclosure and rental eviction orders in Cook County every year.
Deputies will continue with other eviction orders and post notices on homes affected by the moratorium, the release said.
Willie J.R. Fleming
Chicago Anti-Eviction Campaign
NESRI/Campagn To Restore National Housing Rights
USHRN/Land and Housing Action Group
Chicago Hip Hop Congress
"Look at yourselves. Some of you teenagers, students. How do you think I feel and I belong to a generation ahead of you – how do you think I feel to have to tell you, ‘We, my generation, sat around like a knot on a wall while the whole world was fighting for its hum an rights – and you’ve got to be born into a society where you still have that same fight.’ What did we do, who preceded you ? I’ll tell you what we did. Nothing. And don’t you make the same mistake we made…."
In Unity and Struggle,
Beyond Foreclosure Fraud: Moving to Take Back the Land through Strategic Action
Monday, October 18, 2010
According to the New York Times, the Washington Post and other mainstream media, a major story has been uncovered with the expose of the foreclosure fraud crisis, primarily as a result of good journalism and the self-corrective measures of the US legal system. In fact, almost nothing could be further from the truth. Grassroots organizers and legal advocates throughout the US have been raising issues of foreclosure fraud, predatory lending, and a range of other abuses against working class homeowners and tenants for years (if not decades). What the mainstream media purposefully omits, is the increasing pressure put on the banks, the politicians, and the courts from varied social responders and social movements demanding answers, accountability and change that forced them to pay attention to this issue.
Foreclosure fraud, while no doubt massive in scope and discriminatory in nature, is but a symptom of a deeper structural crisis. The singular focus that the Banks, State’s Attorney Generals, and Congressional leaders are putting on the fraud issue will in no way resolve the crisis. But, solving the crisis isn’t their aim or objective. Their aims are simple: to stop the bleeding, create an airtight foreclosure closing process, and reinforce the existing system to maintain their interests. If these forces have their way, these will be the sad final outcomes that emerge from the energy generated by this current frenzy. Making sure that these aren’t the outcomes is where forces of progressive social consciousness come in.
As one of the many progressive social forces struggling for systemic change, particularly as it relates to land ownership, housing rights and ecological sustainability, the Land and Housing Action Group (LHAG) of the Take Back the Land Movement (TBLM) believes that the broad social movement pressing for housing rights and justice must press the following transitional demands to ensure there is a more democratic and equitable outcome to the struggle over foreclosure fraud, outcomes that can potentially heighten the overall contradictions within the system of capitalist exploitation and appropriation that is the root of the crisis.
1. The Government must take over and directly administer all of the loan modification programs it has established since 2008, eliminating the Banks from the process to ensure that homeowners and renters are adequately protected and housed.
2. All of the foreclosure fraud victims, be they homeowners or tenants, must receive restitution for their financial hardships and the criminal liability perpetrated against them by the Banks and Government institutions and agencies responsible for the execution of the fraudulent actions.
3. All the homes and housing units currently being processed and/or warehoused by Banks saved by the TARP program be publicly identified and utilized as “public housing” and opened to inhabitation by the millions of individuals and families displaced from their homes or the tens of thousands languishing on public and/or affordable housing waiting lists.
4. That the aforementioned public housing units be transformed into cooperative housing units and land trusts to be directly governed and administered on a local level by the impacted families and communities.
None of these demands can be realized without the concerted direct action of those most affected and those in solidarity in critical mass. To push these demands forward, the Land and Housing Action Group is encouraging all progressive forces pressing for systemic change to join us in calling and organizing for the following courses of action:
1. Nationally coordinated days of action against the Banks, Government Institutions like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, Congress and the Obama administration to utilize the millions of foreclosed properties as public housing for the countless displaced and homeless families.
2. A nationally coordinated rent strike of homeowners and renters facing foreclosure and eviction to press the Banks and the Government to meet the aforementioned demands.
3. Community occupations of the millions of vacant properties and land to transform into cooperative housing and land trusts to ensure the sustainability of our families and communities.
For more information on how you can support or join the Take Back the Land Movement email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 404.588.9761. For more information visit www.takebacktheland.org and www.ushrnetwork.org.
See Black Agenda Report coverage of this article at http://blackagendareport.com/?q=content/black-agenda-morning-shot-monday-october-18-2010 or http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pWU4tV4SLpU.
In Unity and Struggle,
AN AFRICAN/BLACK GLOBAL UNIFICATION NETWORK
A message to all members of AFRICAN PEOPLE OF LOVE (Global Black Unification)
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