The Marxist-Leninist Party of Canada (MLPC) thinks that the reforms to the electoral law the Trudeau government plans to put forward will not improve "accessibility and inclusiveness," "legitimacy" or "integrity" as the Liberals say. The claim is also not true that changing the way votes are counted (from first-past-the-post to a proportional, ranked ballot or mixed system) will create a more equal footing for all political parties and for independent candidates and increase voter participation. These reforms are not designed to address the problem of how to "make every vote count." The MLPC has concluded that so long as people are just to choose between one method of counting votes or another and there is no discussion of the problems the system called representative democracy is facing and what can be done about these problems, the exercise is self-serving.
This is the case because we are in the age of the
cartel party system. Along with the concentration of economic power in
fewer and fewer hands, political power is also being concentrated in
fewer and fewer hands. The higher echelons of a select few political
parties form a cartel which exercises power using mafia-style methods
including shady deals and turf wars. The cartel parties fund themselves
through the state, politicize the interests of private monopolies which
directly take over governance, and rule through the police powers,
i.e., the arbitrary powers of Cabinet.
The deliberation on how to reform the electoral laws ignores the development of the cartel party system in Canada and the dangers this poses to the democratic institutions. It ignores the fact that the equilibrium of the Canadian parliamentary system with a party-in-power and a party-in-opposition both claiming national representation collapsed in 1993. The coherence of the prior three-party system as well as the coherence of the parties comprising it, collapsed with it. Notwithstanding, the deliberation on how to reform the electoral system to change the method of counting votes is being conducted as though this were not the case.
The pillar of the functioning of the party-dominated
system of representative democracy -- political parties as primary
organizations -- is corrupted. These political parties are supposed to
provide the link between the electors and the government, including the
organizational structures for popular involvement in the political
process. During elections, they are supposed to channel the political
will of the people, with the expectation that it will be turned into
the legal will in the form of party government. Those who are not
represented by the party-in-power are supposed to be represented by the
party-in-opposition. Since the early '90s, however, it is acknowledged
that less than two per cent of electors belong to a political party. It
is these non-representative political parties which select the
candidates. Today, this is degenerating further and it is increasingly
the leader who choses the candidates. Riding associations also no
longer exercise control over local candidates and merely serve
Together with this, the age of the cartel party system is marked by the increased public subsidization of political parties, introduced by political parties that had already entrenched themselves through previously legislated privileges and colluded to keep the people out. These parties are marked by their increasing dependence on state subsidies and their decreasing reliance on members and supporters for both financial support and volunteerism. This has developed in Canada to such an extent that Canada's political parties are increasingly described as "empty vessels" without members.
Since 1993, reforms to the electoral law have significantly restructured the political institutions of Canada and further concentrated power in the hands of the Cabinet, eroding the duties, responsibilities and rights of the Members of Parliament, not to mention those of the Canadian people, to participate in the decision-making process. What emerges is that the Royal Prerogative itself needs to be eliminated, along with the failed mechanisms that are supposed to curb it and that have been turned into their opposite. What is required is a system that transfers power to the hands of the Canadian people. This is where sovereignty should be vested, not in the elites who wield the Royal Prerogative.
All the consultations, ministers, hearings of the Parliamentary Committee and townhalls held by MPs to promote the position of their own party confirm that piecemeal reforms are unacceptable and disregard:
1) the demands and concerns of Canadians for empowerment;
2) the political theory upon which the parliamentary system is based, the impact of changes in light of that theory, and the further undermining of the system of representative democracy based on it;
3) the increasing concentration of power in the hands of the executive;
4) the need to involve the polity in full debate on these matters so that the deliberations can be brought into the realm of public opinion rather than marginalized partisan parliamentary exchanges and committee reviews;
5) the need to involve Canadians in deciding for themselves what kind of changes should be enacted to the political and electoral process.
Canadians must continue to raise matters beyond the scope of how votes are counted in order to draw meaningful conclusions on the matter of the method of counting votes and all the other problems of the democracy that point to the need for renewal. Without taking into account all of the other factors vis-a-vis the incoherent state of Canada's electoral and political system no reforms can favour the polity.
The time has long since come for recognizing that there are profound problems with the system which must be addressed by putting the need to empower Canadians in the first place and by putting their role in deciding how this should be done at centre stage. The tinkering with the system fails to address this need and exacerbates the crisis of a system that has lost all coherence and may well become even more dysfunctional than it is now.
The new method of counting votes will not reverse the further concentration of power in the hands of the upper echelons of the political parties and may even accentuate it. It will give rise to further absolutism. It will further exclude and marginalize Canadians from the political process and further erode the role of Parliament in deliberating on legislation. It will obliterate the building of public opinion for changes that are required to move the society forward.
All the evidence indicates that the piecemeal and
approach to electoral and political reform has no other aim than
hiding the overall impact of these changes on the concentration
of power in fewer and fewer hands.
In this era of the cartel party system, the practice of
party-in-power using a self-serving agenda of electoral reform to
the detriment of other parties and independent candidates and the
entire polity will continue and further exacerbate the crisis of
the system. When it suits the party-in-power, especially in a
majority situation where it can do as it wishes, nothing prevents
it from using consultations along with closed-door negotiations
and shady dealings to reach whatever conclusion it wants. The
electors and the Members of Parliament will be left as
marginalized as ever.
Dubious "Electoral Reform Dialogue" in Vancouver
The Trudeau government has launched a series of public meetings across Canada to hurriedly promote their conception of what electoral reform should look like, before the imminent announcement of the results of deliberations by the Parliamentary Committee on Electoral Reform. These meetings are publicized as "electoral reform dialogues," despite the fact that the matter has undoubtedly already been decided by the Liberal and other members of the Committee, who "spent the entire summer working in a boot camp to get this done."
One such "dialogue" took
place in Vancouver on Friday evening, September 9, at the Sandman
Hotel. Maryam Monsef, Minister of Democratic Reform, presided over this
meeting, as she has at other such meetings. A "feel good" chauvinist
atmosphere, complete with cheerleaders in a staged charade, proclaimed,
"Everything is just fine in this great country. We just need to get
more people to vote." Monsef's comportment resembled a corporate
motivational speaker whose cheerful disposition falls apart when
someone contradicts the mantra. She started out with inane comments
about what a "wonderful democracy" Canada has, and reiterating the
"five guiding principles" that are to underlie deliberations about
electoral reform: "effectiveness and legitimacy; engagement;
accessibility and inclusiveness; integrity and local representation."
Among the 300 or so people attending this event were a sizeable number of Liberal supporters, including two Liberal MPs and about 20 youthful members of LeadNow who were all wearing purple T-shirts and buttons, and who clapped and cheered on cue. Their members had functioned as part of the Liberal election machine in the October 2015 election.
An atmosphere of "this is all fun and games" prevailed, with Monsef orchestrating everyone getting into small groups to "get to know one another" before posing to them the questions/issues that people were supposed to deliberate on. The following issues were to be discussed for two minutes by each member of the group:
1. Possible different electoral systems whereby "votes get translated into seats in the Parliament";
2. Should there be online voting? (in order to "get more youth and others out to vote");
3. Should there be compulsory voting? ("to deal with the problem that 30 per cent of Canadian people chose not to vote in the 2015 federal election"; this would, she stated, "strengthen democracy, make it healthier and would give the government more legitimacy").
And there were two more questions pertaining to ranking the relative importance of the "five guiding principles."
A member of the Privy Council was introduced to the audience, and she rapidly went over three different kinds of electoral processes that people are to be made aware of: 1. The current "first-past-the-post" system; 2. Systems belonging to the "proportional family"; 3. Mixed systems.
Then the deliberations began. A scribe for each group was given 30 seconds to write up the deliberations of the group, then (if his or her group was selected by Monsef) to present the results to the other groups. The pieces of paper were then collected to form part of the proven "feedback" by the Canadian electorate concerning the matter of electoral reform.
Amongst other things, when asked if the government would hold a referendum before implementing any changes, Minister Monsef dismissed the question with her personal view that referendums are "costly" and "divisive."
Despite the forced atmosphere of levity during these proceedings, it was evident that most people who attended were very serious about the issue of electoral reform and were not happy with the haste of these supposed "consultations." A Vancouver City Councillor (a member of the Green Party) declared that "our democracy is in peril." Many others tried to break through the muzzle that had effectively been imposed on them. For example, one of the groups, that had been ignored up to then, firmly opposed the assigned question "how would compulsory voting be enforced?" The spokesperson of the group announced that the members of the group rejected this question as it was illegitimate: previously, in a mock "compulsory" vote on compulsory voting (playfully put to the audience by Monsef), the crowd had overwhelmingly put up their hands to oppose this idea. Some members of the ignored group had chosen rather to talk about how the electorate needs to be engaged in the electoral process and that rather than the government funding political parties, the government needs to fund the political process to engage people in it.
Like the Kinder Morgan hearings, the consultations the
Trudeau government is holding on electoral reform are a farce.
They are completely diversionary and taken out of context which
ignores the fact that the present electoral process is
discredited and cannot be fixed with superficial reforms detached
from social and political developments.
For the government to claim it is "consulting the
not permit the narrow parameters of the discussion to be
challenged is unacceptable. No space for discussion on the need
for democratic renewal or the need for people to be empowered to
become decision makers is permitted. "Representative democracy"
and domination of the political process by cartel parties must
not be challenged. The expected outcome is that the Liberals will
use their majority to force their preferred version of "electoral
reform" (or rather, their preferred method of counting the votes)
with the aim of propping up and legitimizing the outmoded
political process which marginalizes the vast majority of
citizens while concentrating power in the Prime Minister's
Letter to the Editor
From Royal Commission to Townhall Meeting to "Teleforum with Residents"
I did not know whether to laugh or cry when I read on the website of the local paper that my MP will hold a one-hour "teleforum" on September 27 from 7 pm to 8 pm. Not only that, but that he actually says and possibly even believes that "Residents will have the opportunity to listen to and join in a discussion with [Larry] Miller (MP for Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound) on the topic of electoral reform including: whether a national referendum is required to change the voting system, alternative voting systems, mandatory voting and online voting. The discussion from the teleforum will inform a submission from Miller to the Special Committee on Electoral Reform (ERRE). " (My emphasis)
According to the news item, "Residents will receive an automated phone call shortly before 7 pm on Sept. 27 and will be prompted to remain on the line. Those wishing to participate must simply remain on the line. Those who miss the call but receive a message on their answering machine will be given instructions on how to participate." I will wait for my phone call with bated breath. I have a land line. I wonder if all residents (population (2006) 105,947; electors (2007) 68,722; area 6,447 square kilomtres) are on the automated dialing system including those who only use cell phones or have we all become non-persons for purposes of our participation in decision-making?
According to my local paper, Miller said: "I am looking forward to hearing a number of different concerns, questions, and opinions on electoral reform.... It is my hope that a community teleforum will allow for the greatest number of participants possible. I hope that all will take the time to participate in this important discussion."
I concluded that the problems facing our democracy are very serious when MPs are either so self-serving that they can believe their own nonsense or their marginalization is such that they are being driven mad and repeat nonsense as a matter of course. It is the attempt to drive us all crazy along with them that I object to. And Minister Monsef calls it the best democracy in the world. Really!
A Reader in Hanover
What It Means to Be Entitled in Canada
It came to light recently that Minister of Democratic Institutions Maryam Monsef's application for Canadian refugee status contained false information claiming she was born in Afghanistan when in fact she was born in Iran. It is the kind of thing which is causing Canadian citizens to have their citizenship revoked. Section 10(1) of the Citizenship Act states, "the Minister may revoke a person's citizenship or renunciation of citizenship if the Minister is satisfied on a balance of probabilities that the person has obtained, retained, renounced or resumed his or her citizenship by false representation or fraud or by knowingly concealing material circumstances."
On September 26, at an electoral reform event, Monsef is said to have "shrugged off a suggestion from Conservative leadership contender Tony Clement that she should step down as minister pending an investigation into her citizenship application process." According to the Canadian Press report, "The confusion over her birthplace is 'a very big deal for me personally and for my family,' she said. 'But who I am has not changed and this is something that my family and I will work out together. However, my commitment to Peterborough-Kawartha, my commitment to this file, they've not changed,' she added."
The fact that she gets to carry on "business as usual"
and that the government does not rein
her in while other Canadians have their citizenship revoked and get
deported reveals an
incredible double standard, albeit a typical one under the Liberals and
the values they espouse
which divide the citizenry into good and bad people on a most
According to the CP report, the Liberal government has been enforcing the citizenship revocation law passed by the Conservatives, Bill C-24, the Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act that amended the Citizenship Act and other Acts. It has been "aggressively" setting targets to strip 40 to 60 Canadians of their citizenship each month. The immigration department denies such targets but admits that 206 individuals have been stripped of their citizenship since May 2015 -- about 18 per month.
As matters stand, whether the government is deporting 40 to 60 cases a month or 18, it means that Monsef too and anyone else in her family who provided false information or whose applications contain false information would have to be deported.
Under the law, a single government official acts as investigator, prosecutor and decision-maker, immigration lawyer Lorne Waldman told the Canadian Press. A person who receives a notice of citizenship revocation has no right to a hearing or an appeal and has no chance to argue that he or she ought to retain citizenship on humanitarian grounds.
Waldman said that a Federal Court issued a temporary stay of proceedings in a number of revocation of citizenship cases earlier this year, but that relief is available only to those who can afford a lawyer. Waldman said he will be in court next month on a case similar to Monsef's, in which "the government is seeking to revoke the citizenship of two children who came to Canada at a very young age, not because of anything they said but because their father allegedly misrepresented on his application for permanent residence."
"So even though the children are completely innocent... the government is still going after the children, saying that because their father lied on his application, they should lose their citizenship and their permanent residence as well," Waldman said.
Why does Maryam Monsef get to decide? That is certainly
not a privilege that is extended to every other Canadian. What makes
her so special, Mr. Prime Minister? Why is she not facing deportation
proceedings? Meanwhile, the entire law should be scrapped retroactively
cases of spurious deportations should be redressed.
CP reports that given the failure of the government to
Waldman launched a legal challenge on September 26 to win a stay
for all Canadians who face the loss of their citizenship.
Meanwhile, civil liberties organizations are demanding that the
government revoke the law.
Note1. "Maryam Monsef could have Canadian citizenship revoked under unfair law: Lawyers," Canadian Press, September 26, 2016
Death of Former Israeli President Shimon Peres
War Criminal Portrayed As a Pacifist
It is disgusting to see all the NATO heads in a
seemingly coordinated maneouvre portraying the seasoned war criminal
Shimon Peres as a pacifist. U.S. president Barrack Obama goes so far as
to declare that Peres was one of those "few people who change the
course of human history, not just through their role in human events,
but because they expand our moral imagination and force us to expect
more of ourselves." It is disgusting to see all the major parties in
Canada join this chorus. What is the essence of their mourning? Prime
Minister Justin Trudeau betrayed the kind of ignorance of history and
racist outlook which are on display on this occasion. "Shimon Peres
was, above all, a man of peace and a man dedicated to the well-being of
the Jewish people," he said. He went to Israel for the state funeral.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Stéphane Dion, Interim Conservative
Party Leader and Opposition Leader Rona Ambrose and Governor General
David Johnston all issued statements and the monopoly media is full of
a uniform hagiography and the falsification of history.
It is not that the Trudeau Liberals and other NATO governments and the media who are ignoring the war crimes of Shimon Peres do not know about his war crimes. They know but their racist outlook and pursuit of empire-building prevent them from remembering the victims, for example, of the Qana massacre of 106 civilians, mainly women and children, in a UN shelter and indicting war crimes. War criminals and those who collude in crimes against humanity and the peace do not indict themselves nor mourn the victims.
Peres spoke in the West about peace and "a New Middle East." He was festooned with the Nobel Peace Prize in 1994 after backroom deals that became the infamous "Olso Accords" (the two-state non-solution), while in 1996 he ordered the massacre of civilians in Qana in Operation Grapes of Wrath (the Israeli name for the assault) and in all the refugee camps and villages of Lebanon.
What the Israelis did at Qana under Peres' orders, which the UN itself confirmed, and how they then lied and attempted to deceive the entire world, is a particularly gruesome example of how the Israelis have killed tens of thousands of civilians since the first Arab-Israeli war in 1948, of its U.S. patron's commitment to cause death and destruction, and the modus operandi of what we see being unleashed in Aleppo against the Syrian people and nation today.
Lebanese civilians were intentionally targeted and U.S. bombs were dropped on the innocent with absolute precision. According to the official Israeli Air Force website (in Hebrew, not English), the operation involved "massive bombing of the Shia villages in South Lebanon in order to cause a flow of civilians north, toward Beirut, thus applying pressure on Syria and Lebanon to restrain Hezbollah." Nothing was left standing, not a single brick; let alone the UN flag that was supposedly protecting the unfortunate inhabitants of the shelter. UN officials and employees also died in the attack, and the UN uttered not a word of opposition because the U.S. veto blocked UN official condemnation of the barbaric act.
But Qana was not an exceptional crime overseen by Peres, nor can Hezbollah be cited as the justification. Peres was the Minister of Defence in Yitzhak Rabin's first government in 1974. Under Peres, Israel shifted the alleged justification for mercilessly slaughtering Palestinian and Lebanese non-combatants from the air from "retaliation" to 'prevention," developing the theories of "retaliatory" or "pre-emptive" strikes against civilian Palestinian and Lebanese targets. Under Peres, the air force began mercilessly bombing on a daily basis scores of villages in Southern Lebanon -- as well as Syrian cities and ports (Latakiya, Tartus and Baniysa) -- before the region was occupied and annexed in 1978 by 30,000 troops, displacing over 250,000 people, in pursuit of the expansion of "Greater Israel."
The Liberals have created a fantasized image of Israel that bears no resemblance to reality and even the reality of their invented "Jewish people." The greatest expansion of illegal settlements in Occupied Palestine was under the "liberal" Peres and Rabin, not Netanyahu. Following the 1967 war, Peres championed the settlement of the West Bank and Gaza, and used his role as defence minister in the 1970s to establish the first settlements in the northern West Bank. His slogan was: "Settlements everywhere" to "Judaise" the Galilee. Having played a key role in the early days of the settlement colonies, in more recent years, Peres then intervened to undermine any sort of measures, no matter how modest, at sanctioning the illegal colonies -- always, of course, in the name of protecting "peace negotiations."
The racist outlook and pursuit of empire-building of these Liberals prevents them from remembering the victims of massacres and crimes against the peace and humanity. Peres was a self-styled Liberal Zionist, a leader of the Labour Party, which unleashed the Haganah that was primarily responsible for over 40 documented massacres and the ethnic cleansing of Palestinian villages in 1947-49, during the Nakba. Peres always insisted that Zionist forces "upheld the purity of arms" during the establishment of the State of Israel. Indeed, he even claimed that before Israel existed, "there was nothing here."
The Liberals eulogize Peres for opposing the nuclear weaponization of Iran, another fantasy conjured up in their minds, in which he championed the U.S. position, but "forget" this same pacifist - as director general of Israel's defence ministry and then as deputy defence minister between 1953 and 1965 -- was "an architect of Israel's nuclear weapons programme" at Dimona which, to this day, "remains outside the scrutiny of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)." Further, this dove organized the nuclear alliance with racist and fascist South Africa. On March 31, 1975, as secret minutes have since revealed, Peres met with South African Defence Minister PW Botha and "offered to sell nuclear warheads to the apartheid regime." The London Guardian reported, "Some weeks before Peres made his offer, the two defence ministers signed a covert agreement governing the military alliance known as Secment. It was so secret that it included a denial of its own existence: 'It is hereby expressly agreed that the very existence of this agreement... shall be secret and shall not be disclosed by either party.' The agreement also said that neither party could unilaterally renounce it." In 1986, Peres authorized the Mossad operation that saw nuclear whistle-blower Mordechai Vanunu kidnapped in Rome.
The promoter of "a new Middle East" was the one who plotted with the British and French colonial powers in the Tripartite Invasion to attack Egypt in 1956 that triggered the Suez Crisis. Israel invaded Sinai to create the pretext for an Anglo-French "intervention" and seizure of the Suez Canal. The imperialist division of the Arabic peoples to protect the strategic shipping route to Asia was one of the primary raison d'etres for sponsoring the Zionist project in the first place.
The deeds and ideological tendency represented by the Labour Zionist leaders paved the way for Likud, Sharon and Netanyahu of the "radical" Revisionist Zionist and Irgun terrorist tendency of Jabotinsky: the liberal-fascist alliance. Today they are indistinguishable. After Peres lost to Netanyahu in the 1996 elections -- Peres, in fact, never won a single election -- he became the velvet glove for the mailed fist, providing a veneer of international respectability to right-wing Sharon governments through the Second Intifada as they crushed the Palestinian leadership and built a steel and concrete barrier through the West Bank. In 2005 this opportunist deserted the Labour party and joined Sharon's new centre-right Kadima party. From 2007 to 2014 he was the ninth President of Israel. As Israel's global ambassador Peres consistently backed illegal collective punishment and military brutality and affirmed the natural superiority of the egocentric Zionist state as a given in the language of a medieval revenge-seeker:
- In January 2009, for example, despite calls by "Israeli human rights organisations...for 'Operation Cast Lead' to be halted," Peres described "national solidarity behind the military operation" as "Israel's finest hour." According to Peres, the aim of the assault "was to provide a strong blow to the people of Gaza so that they would lose their appetite for shooting at Israel."
- During "Operation Pillar of Defence" in November 2012, Peres "took on the job of helping the Israeli public relations effort, communicating the Israeli narrative to world leaders," in the words of Ynetnews . On the eve of Israel's offensive, "Peres warned Hamas that if it wants normal life for the people of Gaza, then it must stop firing rockets into Israel."
- In 2014, during an unprecedented bombardment of Gaza, Peres stepped up once again to whitewash war crimes. After Israeli forces killed four small children playing on a beach, Peres knew who to blame -- the Palestinians: "It was an area that we warned would be bombed," he said. "And unfortunately they didn't take out the children."
- A few years ago, Peres described the Palestinians as "self-victimising." He went on: "They victimise themselves. They are a victim of their own mistakes unnecessarily." Such cruel condescension was characteristic of a man for whom "peace" always meant colonial pacification or genocide.
A "Friendship" Without Principle
Shimon Peres is being hailed by the Liberals and Conservatives as "a friend of Canada." Canadians reject and despise such "friends" with the contempt they deserve. This entire rendition must be questioned. Genuine friendship in international relations must be based on principle. Lack of modern principles and absence of an international rule of law serve wanton aggression, pre-emptive wars and empire-building. What are the examples of this sympathy being cited? According to the Globe and Mail, "Mr. Peres succeeded in negotiating the purchase of surplus cannons from Canada in 1951 (despite an international arms embargo against weapon sales to Israel or to its Arab enemies) and even found a supportive Jewish Canadian, Sam Bronfman, to pay for them."
The historical context of this "friendship" is forgotten and unimportant, as only an anti-conscious validation of might makes right is sought. During this period, the Israeli Air Force consistently bombed defenceless refugee camps in Jordan, Lebanon and Syria, ranking among the most vicious of all Israeli war crimes, producing very few casualties among Palestinian freedom fighters, but inflicting massive casualties among non-combatants. And where did this "friendship" based on the dictum might makes right lead? In the midst of the Suez Crisis, Canadian prime minister Louis St. Laurent announced on September 22, 1956 the sale of 24 Canadian Sabre jet fighter planes to Israel built under licence from the U.S. -- just five weeks before the Tripartite Invasion of Egypt on October 29. It culminated in the birth of the Pearsonian myth of Canada the "peacemaker" -- the concoction which the Trudeau Liberals are desperately trying to revive and using Peres to this aim. This history-as-such is to justify aggression today when the original reasons have been discredited. This "friendship" is to camouflage Canada's direct participation and assistance in imperialist aggression, intervention and subversion and its participation in imperialist war.
On July 29, 2006, during the 4th Zionist war of aggression against Lebanon and ten years after that first horrible massacre, U.S. 500 lb, precision guided bombs once again rained down over the town of Qana, launched from U.S. airplanes, flown by Israeli pilots and fired with absolute precision. Fifty four villagers were killed in a single strike. Victims of the second massacre included a Canadian UN peacekeeper, Maj. Paeta Hess-von Kruedener, one of four unarmed UN military observers killed in the bunker of a UN building. Two weeks before, several Canadians of Lebanese origin had been killed on July 16 in the indiscriminate bombardment.
But then Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and others appeared before the cameras to hail the Israelis for their "measured," "proportionate" and "defensive response." One of the most revealing aspects of this stand, however, is that it was totally logical, considering the aircraft and the bombs came from the U.S. and the pilots had been trained in Canada. In May-June 2005, Israeli pilots with ten F-16s were trained in a U.S. exercise hosted by the Canadian Department of Defence and the Liberal Defence Minister Bill Graham, Exercise Maple Flag 2005 in Cold Lake in northern Alberta, for the first time in 38 meetings of the Maple Flag war games. Not only was the IAF invited, but Canada asked (and Israel obliged) the IAF to stay an additional two weeks in Cold Lake. (Qatar and the United Arab Emirates also sent "observers.") The first target of the F-16s was the Al-Arqam elementary school in Gaza City in October, just five months later. In southern Lebanon, they repeated, one after the other, there were Lebanese fighters resisting the Zionist occupation and aggression. Combatants whom Washington, Ottawa and its submissive "media" like to label as "terrorists" -- a designation that gives them carte blanche to go in and bomb an entire population without the slightest deliberation. In Gaza, an Israeli military spokesman justified to Canadian journalist Jon Elmer the massacre at the Al-Arqam elementary school because "it was bringing up the next generation of Hamas members."
It brings the Canadian government no honour to portray a man such as Shimon Peres as someone to emulate or as a model of statecraft. The people of the world owe the people of Palestine and the Levant an enormous debt for their courage and determination to resist the most destructive empire the world has ever seen. An ancient people are bravely resisting annexation and defending their sovereign homeland against the U.S. and Zionist murderers. The peoples' guiding principle is sovereignty and the right to decide their own affairs free from military dictate and occupation of the U.S. Empire.
The Trudeau Liberals are mourning the loss of this velvet glove Peres who was, "above all, a man of peace," because they too have donned the glove of "peacemaking" to camouflage and justify Canada's unprecedented military expansion in the Middle East now underway. Trudeau serves as the velvet glove covering the iron fist of neo-liberalism and war of the U.S. imperialists headed by the intended war President Hillary Clinton.
Shame on the political parties which are in total denial of the ongoing racist killings of the Palestinians, the brutal denial of the right of return, the targeting and entrapment of Muslims, attacks on immigrant workers, pay-the-rich policies, massive war preparations and history itself.
1. Thus, "on December 2, 1975, 30 Israeli warplanes bombed and strafed Palestinian refugee camps and nearby villages in Lebanon, killing 92 people." "Israeli officials stressed that the purpose of the action had been preventive, not punitive." ( New York Times , December 3, 1975, cited in Encyclopedia of Palestine, Chapter 31.)
2. "Here to Stay: A Timeline of Palestine," Dossier on Palestine , p. 55.
3. "Peres Extends Holiday Wishes to Nation as Israel Turns 65," Haaretz , April 16, 2013.
4. In a regal interview he gave the Israeli press on the eve of the state's "Independence Day," Peres stated: "I remember how it all began. The whole state of Israel is a millimeter of the whole Middle East. A statistical error, barren and disappointing land, swamps in the north, desert in the south, two lakes, one dead and an overrated river. No natural resource apart from malaria. There was nothing here. And we now have the best agriculture in the world? This is a miracle: a land built by people." ( Maariv , April 14, 2013).
Cited by Ilan Pappe, "When Israeli denial of Palestinian existence becomes genocidal," Electronic Intifada, April 20, 2013.
5. "Shimon Peres: Israeli war criminal whose victims the West ignored," Middle East Monitor, September 28, 2016.
6. Chris McGreal, "Revealed: how Israel offered to sell South Africa nuclear weapons," The Guardian, May 24, 2010.
7. Middle East Monitor.
8. Patrick Martin, "Shimon Peres, Israel's hidden hawk, was the father of a nation's military might," Globe and Mail, September 28, 2016.
In fact, Bronfman only put up $1 million.
9. On April 5, 1951 Israeli Army spokesman Lt. Col. Moshe Pearlman announced that the Israeli Air Force had bombed positions within Syria as a "retaliatory action." Many old people, women and children were wounded in the village of El Harnma. On April 9, the United States rebuked Israel for its aerial bombing of Syrian territory, saying that the bombing is "in no way justified." The British Government joined the U.S. in representations to Israel. Further, Israel's foreign minister, Moshe Sharett, had to fight tooth and nail to scotch a plan conceived by David Ben-Gurion and Moshe Dayan to "buy" a Christian Maronite officer who would then "invite" Israeli intervention in Lebanese affairs and enable Israel to establish its control over Lebanon. The plan was implemented later.
The Middle East Journal , 1951, volume 5, No. 3, cited in Encyclopedia of Palestine , Chapter 31.
10. "The Suez Crisis of 1956: Canada the peacemaker -- A myth," Voice of the People, National Newsmagazine of the People’s Front, Vol. 3, No. 4, July-August 1984, Pages 31-34.
11. "Harper decided to cover it up as it was too embarrassing; Israel would not cooperate with the investigation of why this happened."
"Israel IDF kills a Canadian peacekeeper, Harper makes DND hide the report," Nadine Lumley, December 7, 2014.
12. "Lebanon terror hits home," read a Toronto Star headline on the topic for July 17, 2006; "Canadians were killed in crossfire of fight with Hezbollah," read another headline, this one from the July 18 issue of the Globe and Mail. In much of the coverage, it was as if Canadians of Lebanese origin were fleeing a natural disaster, not a campaign of collective punishment fully condoned by the Harper government.
No to Canada's Participation in U.S.-Led Regime Change in Syria!
Oppose the Use of Force, Provocation and
The Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist) condemns the escalating use of force, provocation and state terrorism by U.S. imperialism and its agents in Syria aimed at sabotaging a political solution to the conflict. This includes the killing of more than 82 Syrian soldiers on September 17 by U.S. warplanes, attacks two days later on aid vehicles of the United Nations and Syrian Red Crescent killing 21 civilians and a similar provocation on September 20 killing relief workers from the International Union of Medical Care and Relief Organizations.
CPC(M-L) further condemns the government of Canada's support for U.S. policy in Syria and its non-humanitarian spirit. While Canada's Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of International Development issued statements denouncing the September 19 and 20 killings whose culprits have not been identified, the government was silent on the killing of Syrian soldiers by the U.S. Among Canada's roles in Syria as part of the Liberals' "expanded mission against ISIS" is identifying targets for U.S. and other Coalition airstrikes. The Trudeau government has issued no statements in the wake of other admitted killings of civilians inside Syria by the U.S.-led coalition.
The callous disregard for human life on the part of the
U.S. imperialists is also evident in the continued imposition of brutal
sanctions on Syria and its people by the U.S., EU and Canada among
others. An internal UN report obtained by The Intercept noted on September 28
that the sanctions "are exceptionally harsh 'regarding provision of
humanitarian aid.'" They have made "the transfer of funds into the
country nearly impossible" while "Items that contain 10 percent or more
of U.S. content, including medical devices, are banned..." The UN finds
the sanctions "contributed to a doubling in fuel prices in 18 months
and a 40 percent drop in wheat production since 2010, causing the price
of wheat flour to soar by 300 percent and rice by 650 percent" and are
a "'principal factor' in the erosion of Syria's health care system." The Intercept notes that in 2013
sanctions were eased in rebel-held areas, at which time the CIA began
shipping an annual $1 billion worth of weapons to terrorist groups.
Alongside the claims of working for a cessation of hostilities in Syria the U.S. has not given up its aim for regime change in that country. It is increasingly resorting to provocations and state terrorism. The killing of Syrian soldiers in repeated bombings that lasted for more than one hour directly facilitated ISIS fighters capturing an important position. The attacks on aid convoys, which were supported by the Syrian government and were given safe passage through its territory, have been cynically used as part of a desperate attempt by the U.S. to paint Syria's efforts to liberate the city of Aleppo and its inhabitants from terrorist groups as aggression. This is epitomized by the irresponsible comments of U.S. Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power pointing fingers at Russia and warning that the government of Syria intends to "conquer militarily every last square inch of Syria."
U.S. and other NATO soldiers and warplanes operate in
Syria in open violation of its
sovereignty and without permission of the Syrian Arab Republic. In
recent months U.S. and
British special forces have been photographed inside Syria directly
embedded with anti-government death squads they call "moderate rebels."
The U.S. has begun a stealth "no-fly zone"
in northern Syria demanding that Syrian planes steer clear or be
downed. The Foreign
Minister of Turkey, a NATO member, announced on September 24 that
troops will move
further into Syria and establish a "5,000 kilometre de facto safe
zone." News agencies report that the U.S. wants to prevent the
liberation of Aleppo at all costs, and is preparing to "flood"
rebel-held areas with anti-aircraft weaponry, despite acknowledging the
danger of these weapons "falling into the wrong hands."
All of this shows that contradictions are escalating internationally and pose serious dangers to the people of Syria, the Middle East and the world. The desperation of the U.S. imperialists to prevent an end to the conflict in Syria which does not favour its geopolitical striving for domination is increasingly evident. With its corollary of stepped up state terrorism and provocation it is further evidence that the people cannot put their fate in the hands of the big powers or rely on them to secure the peace. Now is the time for Canadians to prepare the conditions for an anti-war government that can be a force for peace internationally.
CPC(M-L) calls on Canadians to demand the government of Canada oppose U.S. aggression in Syria and repudiate its interference in sovereign Syrian affairs including through its own support of anti-government groups and its military support for the U.S./NATO mission in Iraq and Syria. Canada must further lift all sanctions on Syria and restore diplomatic relations with its government. CPC(M-L) calls on everyone to oppose provocations, state terrorism and disinformation that aim to pave the way for war and regime change by going all out to defend Syria's sovereignty.
Uphold Syria's Sovereignty!
Hands Off Syria! U.S. Out of Syria!
No to Provocation and State Terrorism for Regime Change!
The U.S. bombed Syria September 18, killing at least 82 Syrian Arab Army (SAA) soldiers and wounding 100. The Syrians were battling ISIS near Deir ez-Zor. The bombing did not kill any ISIS forces, but it did allow them to storm the SAA hilltop positions and take them over. A ceasefire had been worked out and joint actions with Russia were planned for September 20. Instead the U.S. launched this bombing raid, further increasing tensions with Russia.
Russia called for an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council (UNSC). Rather than join in the effort to work on a diplomatic solution, UN Ambassador Samantha Power ridiculed any effort to hold the U.S. responsible. She walked out when the Russian ambassador was speaking and spoke to the press, calling the meeting of the UNSC a "stunt." Given these actions, the U.S. expression of "regret" for the bombing carries little weight. Why not correct the mistake through diplomacy and withdrawal of U.S. forces? That would actually contribute to ending the conflict and respecting the right of Syrians to decide their government for themselves.
U.S. aggression against Syria, like that against Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya, and its backing of Israeli aggression in the region have not in any way contributed to peace. It has not increased the security of Syrians. Conditions for the people in all these countries are far worse as a result of U.S. aggression.
There is a reason the world's people branded aggression a crime following the victory over fascism in World War II. It is because it serves war and destruction. Given the instability in the region caused largely by U.S. aggression, it can also contribute to increasing the potential for world war.
To contribute to peace it is necessary to demand All U.S. Troops Home Now! The Syrians are a highly cultured people with ancient traditions. They have the right to govern themselves and to do so free from U.S. interference. The demand to be made to Obama, Clinton and Trump, is to end U.S. wars now and respect the rights of the peoples -- defending the rights of all is the source of security at home and abroad.
Voice of Revolution is a publication of the U.S. Marxist-Leninist Organization.
The U.S.-Russian negotiated cessation of hostilities has collapsed in Syria. The United States has intervened directly in ways that undermine any possibility of the ceasefire succeeding. On September 18, U.S. forces -- four jets followed by a couple of helicopters -- attacked a Syrian Arab Army (SAA) outpost near Deir ez-Zor killing at least 82 soldiers and wounding 100 more and destroying their equipment. This was supposed to be a joint operation to go after ISIS, but under cover of this attack ISIS fighters stormed the SAA position and took the hilltops where they were stationed.
Just after this unprecedented attack on the Syrian Army by the United States, Israel launched an attack on SAA positions in the Golan Heights where the Syrians were fighting Al Nusra, killing and injuring several more Syrian soldiers. The United States claimed that the attack was an accident. Even so, U.S. allies, Australia, Denmark and Britain have confirmed that they too took part. All are assisting in imperialist murder.
U.S. bombing of Syrian Government's Army positions in the Eastern city of Deir ez-Zor is a very dangerous escalation in the 5-year U.S. effort of Regime Change or complete overturn of the legally elected and internationally recognized government of Syria.
Here are some of the facts on the bombing:
1. The attack killed at least 82 Syrian soldiers and wounded more than 100. This is larger than the number of casualties inflicted in any U.S. bombing on any terrorist target in Syria since the U.S. announced its "war on ISIS."
2. The bombing inflicted no known casualties on ISIS, which the U.S. says was its intended target.
3. The U.S. has produced no evidence that it notified its Russian counterparts, as required by agreement. In fact, joint action against ISIS was not expected for another two days. This leads to suspicions that the U.S. attack was intended to preempt the provisions of the agreement.
4. Syrian soldiers report seeing reconnaissance drones the previous day.
5. ISIS fighters were poised to begin fighting the Syrian army units as soon as the U.S. bombing raids ended. How did they know when the end of the bombing would be?
6. Although the Russian military presence in Syria is legal because it came at the invitation of the sovereign Syrian state, the U.S. presence is illegal and was never approved, either by the Syrian government or by the United Nations. All U.S. military actions in Syria therefore constitute an illegal invasion of Syrian territory, and must end now.
Following the U.S. bombing the Russians called a meeting of the United Nations (UN) Security Council to discuss the U.S. violation of both the current cessation of hostilities agreement and the Geneva agreement on Syria. U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power chose to boycott the meeting and instead held a press conference outside the door, which she opened by accusing the Russians of attacking civilians, schools and hospitals in Syria, before sarcastically accusing them of hypocrisy and calling the meeting a "stunt." She dismissed the murder of nearly 100 Syrians without a pause. Power's indignation was clearly intended for her U.S. audience as few others in the world would find her sarcasm and her rejection of the international forum for dialogue acceptable.
One day later, on September 19, a UN Aid Convoy was struck while passing through opposition held territories in Aleppo, and 18 workers were killed. A video of the wreckage was posted on the internet by the White Helmets, a U.S. supported NGO that operates only in ISIS and Al Qaeda territories. The U.S. immediately blamed the Syrian air force, then the Russian air force, and finally "the Russians," who, after a few hours of public silence, released drone footage showing a truck armed with mortars riding in the shadow of the convoy as it entered hostile territory. They said that neither they nor the Syrians were in the vicinity of the convoy and that a full investigation would be necessary.
The U.S. has moved from supporting proxies to direct intervention in Syria. It is the second time in as many months that they have killed nearly 100 Syrians in an air raid. They have betrayed a long negotiated treaty and when confronted, U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power attacked the messenger.
It is clear that the United States remains committed to overthrowing the internationally recognized government of Syria. Pentagon planners have shown no respect whatsoever for international law or for the United States diplomatic commitments in Syria. They hope to prevent any resolution before a new president is inaugurated.
A few days before massacring the Syrian soldiers outside Deir ez-Zor, the U.S. attempted to insert 300 Special Forces troops with Turkish backed Free Syrian Army factions in the town of Ra'i near the Turkish border. The Americans were driven out by an angry crowd of men. [...] Later in the day, U.S. bombers "accidentally" struck a nearby town where the organizations were billeted. Shortly thereafter, U.S. Special Forces returned to the town of Ra'i to join the remaining Free Syrian Army groups there.
The United States has been holding up the cessation of hostilities from reaching a full implementation and clearly has no intention of honoring it. The Syrian military has stood down in the vicinity of Aleppo, yet the U.S. has made only a halfhearted effort to separate their so called "moderates" from the mercenaries of Al Nusra/Al Qaeda.
The negotiation was a sham and now the U.S. continues
time to reinforce their proxies and put more U.S. soldiers on the
ground. The Pentagon is sowing the seeds of open warfare against
the legitimate government of Syria (and increasing the threat of
war with Russia) while exacerbating the horrific humanitarian
crisis of the Syrian people.
The time to stop them is NOW!
Hands off Syria!
U.S. Out of the Middle East!
A wide-ranging disinformation campaign as part of U.S. efforts at regime change in Syria has resulted in calls, including from within Canada, to nominate an unsavoury group for the Nobel Peace Prize. The group is called the "White Helmets" or "Syria Civil Defence."
The "White Helmets" were founded in 2013 by James Le Mesurier, a British private military contractor, consultant for the UK Foreign Office and former military intelligence officer, when the governments of the U.S. and UK funded select individuals in rebel-held territory in Syria to travel to Turkey to allegedly receive training in rescue operations. The White Helmets group is supported by a foundation started by Le Mersurier called Mayday Rescue which operates out of the Netherlands, Dubai, Jordan and Turkey.
Unlike recognized relief and aid organizations such as the Syrian Red Crescent, the group operates only in areas under control of terrorist groups, such as the city of Idlib under control of al-Qaeda affiliate the al-Nusra Front, and parts of Aleppo. According to the U.S. State Department the group has received at least $23 million in U.S. government funding but the British Foreign Office is said to be its largest single backer. The White Helmets advocate for a "no-fly zone" to be instituted as in Libya in 2011.
All indications are that the role of the group is akin to those promoting false stories about babies in Kuwait being taken from their incubators by Iraqi soldiers and left to die in the lead up to the first war on Iraq in 1991 and fraudulent claims of massacres of civilians immediately before the NATO destruction of Libya in 2011. They are widely quoted in U.S. imperialist media and play a key role in social media fabrications to create pretexts for intervention against the Syrian government. After the September 20 attack on a UN and Syrian Red Crescent aid convoy in Aleppo videos released by the "White Helmets" were used as part of spurious attempts by the U.S. to blame the Syrian army and Russia.
In other words, they are part of warmongering, not peace-making, defence of civilians or humanitarianism. Canadians should be wary of endorsements of this group and its supposed peacemaking credentials, which have come from the Trudeau Liberals and the New Democratic Party. A film promoting the White Helmets was released on Netflix in early September to coincide with the Nobel Peace Prize campaign.
Awarding peace prizes to the likes of U.S. President
Obama whose wars outnumber even those of Bush and who has made drone
assassinations a pillar of U.S. foreign policy, already speaks volumes
about what kind of peace is being promoted. Supporting state terrorism
in the name of peace is surely as low as one can go, and giving such an
award to the "White Helmets" would not be a change of course in this
In August a photo and accompanying video were spread on social media and in monopoly newspapers depicting a boy with a head wound covered in dust sitting upright in an ambulance. Among countless other images of wounded in Syria and Aleppo particularly from attacks by terrorist forces this image was chosen to be spread far and wide. It was allegedly taken as part of a White Helmets rescue effort and coincides with the increasing promotion of the group and calls for it to receive the Nobel Peace Prize.
The video shows at least a dozen men standing around an empty ambulance. The child is then seemingly taken from the rubble of a bombed building and taken to the ambulance. Rather than check his injuries (there are no medical personnel obviously present) the boy is propped up on a seat to be photographed but no one attends to him. He does not react. Several other children are then placed in the back of the ambulance while men hover around them to take photos and video before the doors are closed and it drives away.
The photographer of the viral image was identified as
Rslan. Rslan was shortly thereafter found to be associated with a
U.S.-backed terrorist group called the Nour al-Din al-Zenki
Movement which released a video in July of its members beheading
a Palestinian child for allegedly supporting the Syrian
See "Is the Man Who Took Viral Syrian Boy Photo Linked with Killers?" TeleSUR, August 19 2016.
All Out to Uphold the Right to Be of Indigenous Nations
On Monday, September 26, as part of the Royal Tour
Itinerary, the Honourable Judith Guichon, Lieutenant Governor of
British Columbia [hosted] the Black Rod Ceremony at
Government House. The Honourable Judge Steven Point -- Xwĕ lī qwĕl tĕl
-- [supported] the ceremony. [The President of the Union of BC
Indian Chiefs (UBCIC)] Grand Chief Phillip was invited to actively
participate in the Black Rod Ceremony by handing the Ring of
Reconciliation to His Royal Highness, and then invite him to affix the
Ring onto the Black Rod. The Black Rod is a ceremonial staff used on
formal occasions when the monarch or her provincial representative, the
Lieutenant Governor, is present in the Legislative Assembly of British
Columbia. The materials and symbols affixed to the Rod are
representative of the province and its relationship to the Crown.
Last week, the UBCIC hosted its 48th Annual General Assembly (AGA) at Musqueam Community Centre, xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam Territory).
Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, President of the UBCIC, stated, "After an intense three days of discussion and debate during our AGA, I put the matter to the Chiefs-in-Assembly of my participation in the Black Rod Ceremony. A clear majority of Chiefs felt, in the face of the Trudeau Government's hesitancy to follow through on their federal election commitments and the Government of BC's intransigence on following through with the Four Principles arising from the historic Supreme Court of Canada's Tsilhqot'in decision, the Chiefs-in-Assembly felt it would not be appropriate for me to participate in a 'reconciliation' ceremony at this time."
Chief Robert Chamberlin, Vice-President of the UBCIC, said, "Both the federal and provincial governments are expected and called upon in Canada to uphold the honour of the Crown. The Government of BC's fast-track 'to the point of no return' approach on Site C and the spirit of the Conservative's 'stall and litigate' tactic permeating the Trudeau Government's handling of T'aaq-wiihak, the implementation of Nuu-chah-nulth Fishing Rights, are two recent examples of why First Nations are heading to the courts to compel both governments to uphold the honour of the Crown."
Kukpi7 Judy Wilson, Secretary-Treasurer of the UBCIC, remarked "The Trudeau Government and the Government of BC cite the number of First Nation agreements, talk of the many issues that need to be addressed, make promises of better times tomorrow in the name of reconciliation but their actions today demonstrate the opposite. There is no true recognition of Indigenous Title, Rights and the honouring of Treaty Rights when it comes to Site C, Enbridge, Kinder Morgan or Lelu Island. Just processes weighted down with the governments' belief that our Title and Rights do not exist until we win in court or negotiate a treaty."
Grand Chief Phillip concluded, "With the deepening poverty of our communities, remembering the missing and murdered Indigenous Women and Girls and the ongoing negligence of Indigenous Child Welfare policies across this country, in good conscience, I cannot participate in the Black Rod Ceremony. The suffering in our communities is too great. I apologize for any inconvenience we may have caused with our decision. We do not mean any disrespect. It is a matter principle."
(September 26, 2016 )
The Onondaga 15 are members of Indigenous nations fighting for redress in a civil suit against the New York State government for a case of police brutality against them and others almost 20 years ago. The case stems from a horrific beating by New York State Troopers, the "I-81 INDIAN Detail" special squad, on May 18, 1997. Many were arrested, including an 11 year-old and 14 year-old girl who was slammed to the ground. Their civil suit against the government began in Syracuse, New York on September 20, with jury selection and the 15 are defending themselves in court. They are demanding that the state take responsibility for its brutality, the injuries that occurred, including to women and children, and the pain and emotional suffering that resulted.
In 1997 numerous nations, including the Onondaga and Seneca, organized actions to oppose efforts by New York State to impose taxes on cigarette sales on Indigenous lands. Such taxes are a means by the state to block independent economic development by Indigenous peoples, in this case the Mohawk nation, and provide the state with a way to constantly interfere. State troopers used brutal force, but the broad resistance succeeded in blocking the efforts to impose taxes.
For the Onondaga 15, the state has attempted to cover up the brutality and has prevented the trial from occurring for years. It has resorted to the most unscrupulous and underhanded behaviour to prevent the truth from coming out and justice from being served. It has pushed instead for an out-of-court settlement where the state admits no wrongdoing and imposes a gag order on all concerned. Earlier this year 76 of the 98 original protesters who brought the suit accepted a settlement of $2.7 million, minus court and lawyers fees. The 15 are refusing to settle and are fighting for redress and for the police brutality and government impunity to use force against protesters to be exposed.
The judge in the case, Frederick J. Scullin has made it
difficulty for the 15. He has refused to allow a video clearly
showing the beating by at least 80 armed state troopers against
about 100-120 demonstrators. As a report in Mohawk Nation
News ( MNN ) put it, "The police video says it all.
We were not on the road [I-81. In
fact they were standing on
property owned by one of the protesters. Even police admit they
were not ordered to disperse -- TML Ed. Note] The super armed
invaded private property and beat us with wooden clubs. We want
our day in court on the merits, not the procedures that are being
set up to sideline us." These procedures include postponing a
pre-trial meeting without notifying those involved, some
traveling from Quebec and Oklahoma, only to find there was no
meeting. Judge Scullin also ordered their lawyers to drop the 15,
because they would not take the settlement and drop the
The Onondaga 15 have reported further difficulties in
proceeding with the trial. Judge Scullin has repeatedly blocked
plaintiffs' questions to witnesses. MNN reports, "Scullin glanced for a
second at the questions and then denied all questions, without
explanation. An argument ensued. Scullin ordered [the plaintiff] out of
the courtroom" and ordered the jury out as well. The plaintiff in
question was pushed by a guard who then called him a racist slur. MNN
states, "It appears the court is trying to sabotage the case, hoping
the jury will give a decision that supports the Troopers for their
The 15 highlight that "A fair trial must be provided" for them, just as for "any other person in the world, on the merits, not on artificial procedures." Along with working to deliberately minimize the numbers to 15, the effort to minimize the just demands of those brutalized also includes limiting their statements to the court to five minutes each. As well they are expected to identify particular state troopers, although most were helmeted and without their badges visible and those being beaten were on the ground trying to protect themselves. One person had his back broken, another a torn ligament, and others were badly beaten.
According to reports by protesters, the troopers were instructed to "Talk to no one and take them out any way you can." They charged without warning. One tried to arrest a three-month-old baby who was in his baby seat in a car. As MNN reports, "The cop pulled the baby out and swung him around as bait to lure his mother. She was frantically trying to save her two other small children from the vicious attack." Another woman rescued the baby. The report continued, "A 10-year-old was holding a bowl of tobacco for the ceremony at the fire. The cop slammed the woman tending the fire and then ran after the child and tried to take the bowl. The cop grabbed her hair. She got away, ran to a car and screamed: 'They are going to kill us!' Her whole family had been taken away. While the screaming of terrified children being beaten was going on several people took her into the woods and completed the ceremony."
A state police staff inspector who was heading an internal affairs investigation said he was removed from the assignment because he was too aggressive in his questioning of the commanding officers and doubted their claims. As another example of the way the state foments and sanctions such brutality and impunity for those who commit it, the captain who ordered the attack, George Beach, has now been named superintendent of the New York State Police. New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo nominated him in June and the state Senate recently confirmed the appointment.
This case, like that in Standing Rock, like the police killings in Tulsa and Charlotte, are indicative of the racism and brutality of the U.S. state. Conditions today are increasingly showing that the U.S. imperialist ruling elite have no solutions and use of force is their first, and often only choice.
TML Weekly condemns the brutality of the racist U.S. state and all the trickery used to block the fight for justice and redress. It calls on everyone to support the Onondaga 15 by spreading the word about their struggle Any who are able should attend the trial taking place in Syracuse, New York, U.S. at 100 South Clinton St. For continuing updates on the fight of the Onondaga 15 for redress, read Mohawk Nation News.
(With files from Voice of Revolution, Mohawk Nation News, Syracuse.com)
Standing Rock Sioux Tribal members, joined by 280 other tribes and farmers' and various other organizations are standing firm at their Sacred Stones and Red Warrior Camps, demanding that their treaty rights be respected and construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline be ended. As a result of this resistance, the U.S. federal government has temporarily halted construction on the portions near Standing Rock, North Dakota while it continues construction elsewhere.
The camps along the banks of Lake Oahe in North Dakota have been steadily growing since April and now number more than 6,000 people. Demonstrations of support have taken place across the U.S., Canada and around the world. All are standing to protect and ensure safe water for millions, as the pipeline crosses both the Missouri River and Lake Oahe, and for protection of sacred burial grounds. The gathering of the many tribes is the largest since Wounded Knee in 1973. Their united stand is not only as protectors of the water but also represents the right to be of all Indigenous nations.
The determined resistance continues to garner broad support. On September 3, those peacefully gathered at the camp stood up to a vicious attack by private mercenaries, who violently attacked using dogs and pepper spray. A pregnant woman and child were among those injured. The notoriously inhumane G4S security monopoly, known for their horrific treatment of immigrants in U.S detention camps and of Palestinians, were part of the mercenary force. The mercenaries were not arrested or punished.
The North Dakota Governor called out the National Guard and set up checkpoints on public highways. Armed guardsmen forced everyone to stop and be questioned, with many forced to detour. People are being unjustly arrested, as those at the camp stand their ground and take action against bulldozers and similar efforts to proceed with construction.
The $3.8 billion proposed Dakota Access Pipeline spans 1,885 kilometres and four states. If built it is expected to carry 470,000 barrels a day of highly toxic and flammable fracked oil from North Dakota to Illinois, with the capacity to carry as much as 570,000 barrels a day. The oil is then expected to be sent south to Texas, in part for export. The proposed route of the pipeline crosses the Missouri River and Lake Oahe, which provide water not only for the Sioux, but for millions of others. The government did not consult the Standing Rock Sioux, as is required by treaty, and it has not carried out the required environmental impact study, which addresses both the human and natural impact of the pipeline.
Already the energy monopolies behind the Dakota Access Pipeline have constructed parts of the pipeline, forcing many farmers to relinquish their lands. The government is using eminent domain, a power of the U.S. government to take private property or land for public use, to take farmland and turn it over to the oil monopolies so the pipeline can go through. Iowa farmers are opposing the pipeline in court and demanding an end to the seizure of their lands.
TML Weekly salutes the determined
Standing Rock and condemns the use of force against those
defending their rights, clean water and the environment while
monopoly right is protected by that same force. TML
Weekly is publishing below information about this resistance,
the legal issues surrounding the pipeline construction and
statements from those who are defending their rights and
(Photos; C.L. Cheyenne, C. Lautre,
Deegan, TML, 360.org, L. Flora, Kehrt, KRBD)
Militant Resistance to Criminalization of People's Struggle for Rights in U.S.
Hundreds of people in Charlotte, North Carolina, continue to demonstrate against police killings and impunity. Police shot and killed African American Keith Lamont Scott, 43 [on September 20]. Demonstrations erupted almost immediately and have continued for several days. Protesters are calling for release of police videotape of the shooting and likely will secure that demand. But more than that, they are demanding an end to police violence. They are demanding that their rights as human beings be respected.
The demonstrations are uniting all concerned in calling for an end to a situation where individuals guilty of no crime and threatening no one can be killed -- and police, from the top down, are not held accountable. Such impunity contributes to the rampant violence by police all across the country. The killing in Charlotte followed that in Tulsa, which followed dozens of others.
In Tulsa, the police officer, who is a woman, has been charged with manslaughter. The government is claiming this will bring justice. However, recent studies have shown that even when police are charged, which is very rare, they are even more rarely convicted. This impunity to use unwarranted and deadly force against the people is central to the struggle in Charlotte, as it has been in Ferguson, Baltimore, Chicago, Baton Rouge and elsewhere.
The broader concern of many is that given the government impunity to unleash violence and deadly force, there will be no justice or peace. Even a conviction in Tulsa will not change the reality that the government cannot be relied on to even address the problem of its own racism and violence, let along eliminate them. This is further evident in the militarized response to the demonstrators and their criminalization. Protesters are repeatedly met with a show of force, with police in combat gear and using tear gas -- which is outlawed as a chemical weapon in war, but not on U.S. streets. Why is the response to protest against police violence cause for even more police violence? It occurs because the rulers have no solutions to the social problems that exist and force is their only and first resort. It shows that government is dysfunctional and illegitimate, and its violence will only increase.
In the Charlotte case a lot of speculation is being promoted as to whether the individual did or did not have a gun. Police of course say he did. But even if that is the case, how does the mere existence of a gun justify killing the man? The video that is public does not show him threatening the police, or charging the police, or anything of that nature. The level of impunity and violence that has been unleashed by the government, both at home and abroad, where people are bombed and assassinated with drones, is such that there need not be any threat.
Killer drones and killer cops are government genocide. The militarization of police and life more generally is such that the people are seen as enemies, with African Americans and Puerto Ricans bearing the brunt of the brutality here at home. A new direction, based on defending rights and eliminating use of force is required. And it is the people themselves who can be relied on to bring such justice.
(September 24, 2016)
For Your Information
The United Nations (UN) Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent released their final report September 15, assessing the situation of African Americans in the U.S. As the report states, "The Working Group is extremely concerned about the human rights situation of African Americans." The report is based on a visit to the U.S. in January, when the experts visited Washington D.C., Baltimore, Jackson-Mississippi, Chicago and New York City. TML Weekly is printing below excerpts and recommendations from the report.
The U.S. has a growing human rights movement that has successfully advocated for social change. Following the epidemic of racial violence by the police, civil society networks calling for justice together with other activists are strongly advocating for legal and policy reforms.
The colonial history, the legacy of enslavement, racial subordination and segregation, racial terrorism, and racial inequality in the U.S. remains a serious challenge as there has been no real commitment to reparations and to truth and reconciliation for people of African descent.
Lynching was a form of racial terrorism that has contributed to a legacy of racial inequality that the U.S. must address. Thousands of people of African descent were killed in violent public acts of racial control and domination and the perpetrators were never held accountable.
Contemporary police killings and the trauma it creates are reminiscent of the racial terror lynching of the past. Impunity for state violence has resulted in the current human rights crisis and must be addressed as a matter of urgency.
Racial bias and disparities in the criminal justice system, mass incarceration, and the tough on crime policies has disproportionately impacted African Americans. Mandatory minimum sentencing, disproportionate punishment of African Americans including the death penalty are of grave concern.
During this country visit, the experts observed the excessive control and supervision targeting all levels of their life. This control since September 2001, has been reinforced by the introduction of the Patriot Act. We heard testimonies from African Americans based on their experience that people of African descent are treated by the State as a dangerous criminal group and face a presumption of guilt rather than innocence.
The persistent gap in almost all the human development indicators, such as life expectancy, income and wealth, level of education and even food security, among African Americans and the rest of the U.S. population, reflects the level of structural discrimination that creates de facto barriers for people of African descent to fully exercise their human rights.
Disparities in the enforcement of policies, can be found in the different approaches adopted by states to address issues such as racial profiling, the presence of police in schools, the criminalization of homelessness, the limitations on the use of lethal force by law enforcement officials, the use of solitary confinement and the trial of juvenile offenders, among others.
The Working Group is concerned about the alarming levels of police brutality and excessive use of lethal force by law enforcement officials committed with impunity. In addition to the most recent and well-known cases of killings of unarmed African Americans, such as the cases of Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Walter Scott, Freddie Gray and Laquan McDonald, the Working Group also received information about many other similar cases. The Working Group met with a considerable number of relatives of African Americans killed by police officers that are still seeking justice for their loved ones including Tyron West, Tyron Lewis, Jonathon Sanders, Oscar Grant, Tony Robinson, Marlon Brown, India Kager, Ronald Johnson, Mohamed Bah and Alonso Smith.
The Working Group is deeply concerned about the low number of cases where police officers have been held accountable. The Working Group identified that the lack of initial investigations conducted by independent and external bodies from police departments, the wide discretion of attorney generals to determine when and how to present charges and the state and county regulations that are not in line with international standards on the use of force and firearms are some of the main barriers to police accountability.
Racial profiling is a rampant practice and seriously damages the trust which African Americans have in relation to law enforcement officials.
With 2.3 million people incarcerated and 4.8 million on parole or probation, mass incarceration has had a disproportionate impact on people of African descent. The Bureau of Justice Statistics (2014) shows that 36 per cent of the sentenced state and federal prisoners are African Americans. One in three African American men will go to prison or jail if current trends continue. African American women are also increasingly being targeted by the criminal justice system.
The costs of mass incarceration practices must be measured in human lives, and particularly the generations of young Black people who serve long prison sentences and are lost to their families and communities. We also heard how mass incarceration of Black men and women has had a devastating effect on their children.
We express deep concern on the continued existence of the death penalty in 31 states and at the federal level. African Americans represent 41.7 per cent of the death row population and out of 28 inmates executed in 2015, 10 were African Americans.
We are also concerned about the criminalization of poverty which disproportionately affects African Americans. There has been an increase in imprisonment of people for minor offences and those who are unable to pay debts due to an increase in fines and fees. They are detained in debtor prisons and made to work off their debt. As the Justice Department has shown in the investigation of the Ferguson Police Department, in other counties the imposition of fines is a way to secure revenues [rather] than a public security issue. This creates numerous problems for the individual and family.
There is also an excessive punishment of poor children for minor offences.
The devastating impact of the "war on drugs" has led to mass incarceration and is compared to enslavement, due to exploitation and dehumanization of African Americans.
We are concerned about the underage prosecution of children as adults in the U.S. Children are detained in adult jails and prisons putting them at risk of sexual assault and abuse. These practices are a violation of children's human rights and should be eliminated. Juveniles should be treated as juveniles no matter what crime they are alleged to have committed and must be held in a juvenile facility.
The Working Group was also concerned that voter ID laws with increased identification requirements in several states served to discriminate minorities such as African Americans contrary to the spirit of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.
The cumulative impact of racially-motivated discrimination faced by African Americans in the enjoyment of their right to education, health, housing and employment, among other economic, social, cultural and environmental rights, has had serious consequences for their overall well-being. Racial discrimination continues to be systemic and rooted in an economic model that denies development to the poorest African American communities.
We were informed that across the country there are police in the schools arresting children for minor offences. The police have authority to detain, frisk and arrest children in school. Zero tolerance policies and heavy-handed efforts to increase security in schools have led to excessive penalization and harassment of African American children through racial profiling. African American children are more likely to face harsh disciplinary measures than white children. This phenomenon has been sadly described as "the school to prison pipeline."
The Working Group was concerned by the under-funding and closure of schools that are particularly in poor neighborhoods with significant African American population. We were concerned to learn that there are threats to close the Chicago State University, a historically Black university.
In school curricula, the historical facts concerning the period of colonization and enslavement are not sufficiently covered in all schools. This history, crucial in the organization of the current American society is taught differently by states, and fails to adequately address the root causes of racial inequality and injustice. Consequently, this contributes to the structural invisibility of African-Americans.
We are concerned about the persistence of a de facto residential segregation in many of the metropolitan areas in the U.S. A series of maps, generated by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, shows not only stark levels of concentration of African-American families in low income neighborhoods and districts, but also the correlation between racial segregation and disparities in access to health, education and even access to adequate food.
In addition, the process of gentrification has a heavy impact on African Americans who are being displaced from city centers under the argument of the need for new investment and development. In particular, the Working Group was alarmed by incidents of eviction, demolition and conversion of Barry Farm public housing in Washington D.C.
According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in 2015, of over half a million homeless people in the U.S., African Americans constituted 40.4 per cent. They also constituted 30.4 per cent of the homeless people that were unsheltered.
The highest polluting industrial facilities, across a range of sectors from farming, mining to manufacturing, are more likely to be situated in poor and minority neighborhoods, including those of people of African descent. For instance, we are concerned about the possible health risks to people of African descent on account of the incinerator project in Curtis Bay, Baltimore and the lead contaminated water in Flint, Michigan. African American communities are calling for environmental justice as they are concerned that they are disproportionately exposed to environmental hazards impacting their health and standard of living.
The Working Group reiterates the following recommendation made after its visit to the United States in 2010:
- Solitary confinement should be banned absolutely for being in violation of international human rights law standards particularly those found in the United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, and the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules on the Treatment of Prisoners.
- The Working Group recommends improving reporting of violations involving the excessive use of force and extra-judicial killings by the police, and ensure that reported cases of excessive use of force are independently investigated; that alleged perpetrators are prosecuted and, if convicted, punished with appropriate sanctions; that investigations are re-opened when new evidence becomes available; and that victims or their families are provided with remedy.
- Security policies in schools should be revisited. Policing in schools should be abolished.
- Federal and state laws should be adopted incorporating the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and other international human rights treaties.
- There is a profound need to acknowledge that the transatlantic slave trade was a crime against humanity and among the major sources and manifestations of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance and that Africans and people of African descent were victims of these acts and continue to be victims of their consequences. Past injustices and crimes against African Americans need to be addressed with reparatory justice.
- Monuments, memorials and markers should be erected to facilitate this important public dialogue. Education must be accompanied by acts of reconciliation, which are needed to overcome acts of racial bigotry and legacies of injustice. To accelerate the process of desegregation, federal and state legislation should be passed recognizing the experience of enslavement.
- We encourage Congress to pass the H.R. 40, Commission to Study Reparation Proposals for African Americans Act, [to establish] the Commission to examine slavery and discrimination in the colonies and the United States from 1619 to the present and recommend appropriate remedies.
- We encourage the U.S. government to elaborate a National Action Plan for Racial Justice to fully implement the International Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) and comprehensively address racism affecting African Americans.
- Appropriate measures should be adopted to prevent excessive bail. Alternatives to detention should also be explored.
- Before non-payment of a court fine or fee is treated as [a] civil contempt of court charge it must first be determined whether the individual has the ability to pay. Imprisonment should not be offered as a way of paying off the debt. If the debt cannot be paid the fee should not be levied.
- The Working Group recommends to the Government to allow independent monitoring of places of detention in the United States and in this connection consider inviting the Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, and the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention.
- International human rights standards should be observed in the criminal justice system. We recommend the abolition of the death penalty throughout the United States.
- The Working Group calls upon the Government to ensure that all states repeal laws that restrict voting rights. In particular it urges reinstatement of voting rights of persons convicted of felony who have completed their sentences.
- We recommend the Government develop guidelines on how to ensure school discipline policies and practices are in compliance with international human rights standards. Restorative practices in school discipline should be used for reducing disciplinary incidents and improving learning in schools.
- Consistently, the school curriculum in each state should reflect appropriately the history of the slave trade.
- The Working Group recommends upholding the right to adequate standards of living including the right to food, right to water and the right to adequate housing. The Government should immediately halt the demolition of public housing without guaranteeing replacement units. All such activities must be undertaken only through prior and informed consent and participation of the communities affected.
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