Posted by: Lister | August 22, 2009

Malalai Joya

According to Democracy Now, the BBC called Malalai Joya the bravest woman in Afghanistan. That interview is on my reading list — right after I finish an article in The Independent by Johann Hari:

“I am young and I want to live. But I say to those who would eliminate my voice: ‘I am ready, wherever and whenever you might strike. You can cut down the flower, but nothing can stop the coming of the spring.'”

The story of Malalai Joya turns everything we have been told about Afghanistan inside out. In the official rhetoric, she is what we have been fighting for. Here is a young Afghan woman who set up a secret underground school for girls under the Taliban and – when they were toppled – cast off the burka, ran for parliament, and took on the religious fundamentalists.

But she says: “Dust has been thrown into the eyes of the world by your governments. You have not been told the truth. The situation now is as catastrophic as it was under the Taliban for women. Your governments have replaced the fundamentalist rule of the Taliban with another fundamentalist regime of warlords. [That is] what your soldiers are dying for.” Instead of being liberated, she is on the brink of being killed.

[…] She soon discovered that she loved to teach – and, when she turned 16, a charity called the Organisation for Promoting Afghan Women’s Capabilities (OPAWC) made a bold suggestion: go to Afghanistan, and set up a secret school for girls, under the noses of the Taliban tyranny.

So she gathered her few clothes and books and was smuggled across the border – and “the best days of my life” began. She loathed being forced to wear a burka, being harassed on the streets by the omnipresent “vice and virtue” police, and being under constant threat of being discovered and executed. But she says it was worth it for the little girls. “Every time a new girl joined the class, it was a triumph,” she says, beaming. “There is no better feeling.”

[…] And it is “false” to say Afghan culture is inherently misogynistic. “By the 1950s, there was a growing women’s movement in Afghanistan, demonstrating and fighting for their rights,” she says. “I have a story here” – she rifles through her notes – “from The New York Times in 1959. Here! The headline is ‘Afghanistan’s women lift the veil’. We were developing an open culture for women – and then the foreign wars and invasions crushed it all. If we can regain our independence, we can start this struggle again.”

And she speaks for herself in another article from The Independent: Don’t be fooled by this democratic facade – the people are betrayed:

President Hamid Karzai has cemented alliances with brutal warlords and fundamentalists in order to maintain his position. Although our constitution forbids war criminals from running for office, the incumbent has named two notorious militia commanders as his vice-presidential running mates – Karim Khalili and Mohammad Qasim Fahim, both of whom stand accused of brutalities against our people.

[…] Even after massive international outcry – and brave protesters taking to the streets of Kabul – Mr Karzai implemented the infamous rape law, targeting Shia women, to gain support of the fundamentalist elements in the election.

[…] Mr Abdullah, as the main candidate of fundamentalist warlords, has run a wide campaign with money he is receiving from the Iranian regime. He and some of the Northern Alliance commanders supporting him have threatened unrest if he loses the vote, raising fears of a return to the rampant violence and killing that marked the civil war years of the 1990s.

[…] The people of Afghanistan are fed up with the rampant corruption of Karzai’s “narco-state”

The BBC profile of Malalai Joya is a little shorter!

Posted by: Lister | August 16, 2009

Dov Yermiya

Yermiya is a former IDF lieutenant-colonel who became famous when he published his Lebanon war diary.

He’s written a letter to various friends, including Uri Avnery. It ends with:

“Therefore I, a 95 year old Sabra (native born Israeli Jew), who has plowed its fields, planted trees, built a house and fathered sons, grandsons and great-grandsons, and also shed his blood in the battle for the founding of the State of Israel,

Declare herewith that I renounce my belief in the Zionism which has failed, that I shall not be loyal to the Jewish fascist state and its mad visions, that I shall not sing anymore its nationalist anthem, that I shall stand at attention only on the days of mourning for those fallen on both sides in the wars, and that I look with a broken heart at an Israel that is committing suicide and at the three generations of offspring that I have bred and raised in it.”

Avnery goes through some other parts of the letter. I’ll quote these bits of Avnery’s response:

My aim is not to start a discussion with you about the fundamentals of Zionism, both positive and negative. We might not agree. Nor shall I enter into the question of whether everything really started in 1967, with the intoxicating and corruptive victory, or whether the seeds of disaster were sown earlier. On one thing I agree with you entirely: that the fatal step was taken then, on the morrow of that war, when we had the choice between the shining gold of peace and the base metal of annexation, and stretched our hands out towards the latter.

My personal conscience is clean. I am proud that I was one of the few in the country, and the sole voice in the Knesset, who proposed even during the war to turn over the occupied territories to the Palestinian people, so as to enable them to set up their state. This unique opportunity was missed, as you point out in your letter, because of the greed of the founders of the settlement movement, the champions of a Greater Israel.

[…] You, Dov, have invested in this state much too much to turn your back on it in a gesture of anger and despair. The most hackneyed and worn-out slogan in Israel is also true: “We don’t have another state!”

Other states in the world have sunk to the depths of depravity and committed unspeakable crimes, far beyond our worst sins, and still brought themselves back to the family of nations and redeemed their souls.

[…] Even at your respectable age, and precisely because of it and because of what you represent, you must be a compass for the young and tell them: This state belongs to you, you can change it, don’t allow the nationalist wreckers to steal it from you!

True, 61 years ago we had another state in mind. Now, after our state has tumbled to where it is today, we must remember that other state, and remind everybody, every day, what the state should have been like, what it can be like, and not allow our vision to disappear like a dream. Let’s lend our shoulders to every effort to repair and heal!

Posted by: Lister | August 15, 2009

The Gaza Emirate

An al-Qaeda-linked group, Jund Ansar Allah, declared Gaza to be an “Islamic emirate”. The BBC:

At least 13 people have been killed and at least 85 injured in a fierce gun battle in Gaza, emergency services say.

Eyewitnesses say hundreds of Hamas fighters and policemen surrounded a mosque where followers of a radical Islamist cleric were holed up.

Hamas fired rocket-propelled grenades at the mosque and stormed the leader’s house in Rafah, near the Egypt border.

[…] At least one Hamas fighter was killed by a grenade fired from the mosque but most of those killed were supporters of the cleric. One child was also killed.

It’s not known whether Abdul-Latif Moussa, the leader/spokesman for the group was captured.

During his own Friday sermon, the leader of Hamas in Gaza, Ismail Haniya, dismissed Mr Moussa’s comments.

“These declarations [of an Islamic emirate] are aimed towards incitement against the Gaza Strip and an attempt at recruiting an international alliance against the Gaza Strip.

“And we warn those who are behind these Israeli Zionist declarations: the Gaza Strip only contains its people.”

Posted by: Lister | August 7, 2009

Richard Sommers

An article by John Feffer via TomDispatch:

It was September 4, 1804. The United States was at war with the Barbary pirates along the North African coast. The U.S. Navy was desperate to penetrate the enemy defenses. Commodore Edward Preble, who headed up the Third Mediterranean Squadron, chose an unusual stratagem: sending a booby-trapped U.S.S. Intrepid into the bay at Tripoli, one of the Barbary states of the Ottoman empire, to blow up as many of the enemy’s ships as possible. U.S. sailors packed 10,000 pounds of gunpowder into the boat along with 150 shells.

When Lieutenant Richard Sommers, who commanded the vessel, addressed his crew on the eve of the mission, a midshipman recorded his words:

“‘No man need accompany him, who had not come to the resolution to blow himself up, rather than be captured; and that such was fully his own determination!’ Three cheers was the only reply. The gallant crew rose, as a single man, with the resolution yielding up their lives, sooner than surrender to their enemies: while each stepped forth, and begged as a favor, that he might be permitted to apply the match!”

The crew of the boat then guided the Intrepid into the bay at night. So as not to be captured and lose so much valuable gunpowder to the enemy, they chose to blow themselves up with the boat. The explosion didn’t do much damage — at most, one Tripolitan ship went down — but the crew was killed just as surely as the two men who plowed a ship piled high with explosives into the U.S.S. Cole in the Gulf of Aden nearly 200 years later.

I haven’t checked that quote, but a book is cited. Wiki has an article on Richard Somers.

Feffer’s article gives some stats, starting via Ami Pedahzur.

Suicide bombers, in other words, have targeted civilians, military installations, non-military sites of great significance, and political leaders. In suicide attacks, Hezbollah, Tamil Tiger, and Chechen suicide bombers have generally focused on military and police targets: 88%, 71%, and 61% of the time, respectively. Hamas, on the other hand, has largely targeted civilians (74% of the time).

[…] According to researcher Daniel Byman, the drones kill 10 civilians for every suspected militant.

[…] We have our suicide bombers — we call them heroes. We have our culture of indoctrination — we call it basic training. We kill civilians — we call it collateral damage.

[…We] have been indoctrinated to view the atomic bombing of Hiroshima as a legitimate military target and September 11th as a heinous crime against humanity. We have been trained to see acts like the attack in Tripoli as American heroism and the U.S.S. Cole attack as rank barbarism.

I’m not sure the fictional references to “I am Legend” etc, were useful. But a good article, anyway.

Posted by: Lister | August 3, 2009

Barak Uvamah

LOL. Obama is the antichrist:

A YouTube clip published earlier this week reveals the evil truth, by delving into some Aramaic words that come together to sound like the president’s name. The key to the theory is a line from the New Testament, specifically Luke 10:18, in which Jesus says, “I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven.”

Lightning = barak;
Heights = bamah

Then “Lightning from the heights” (not heaven) is “barak obamah”. Except:

Actually, as Woody Allen’s Alvy Singer character in “Annie Hall” might say, Salon happens to have a “modern Jewish rabbi” right here. “They want to say it would be pronounced ‘Ubamah,'” says Rabbi Dan Ehrenkrantz, president of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, in Wyncote, Pa. “No — it would be ‘Uvamah.'”

But, even if that wasn’t the case…. LOL, LOL, LOL.

(Via Cactus Wren at JREF)

Posted by: Lister | July 31, 2009

Children of Gaza

It looks like they’ve broken a kite flying record. al-Jazeera:

More than 5,000 children gathered for the event on a beach near the northern city of Beit Lahiya as part of the Summer Games programme, a UN initiative organised to restore hope and normality to the war-torn territory.

Al Jazeera’s Ayman Mohyeldin, reporting from Gaza, said the aim was to get about 5,000 kites up in the air to break a previous Guinness world record.

“The record is about 710, that was set in Germany in 2008,” our correspondent said, adding that organisers said they believed they had the numbers to shatter that figure.

[…] Ging said representatives from Guinness were unable to travel to Gaza, but provided the UN with rigorous guidelines in order to verify the attempt.

There are certainly a lot of kites in the picture. I suppose that Guinness hasn’t had time to adjudicate.

Posted by: Lister | July 30, 2009

Taliban Vs Police

Reuters article by Peter Graff:

As British troops moved into the village newly freed from Taliban control, they heard one message from the anxious locals: for God’s sake do not bring back the Afghan police.

[…] villagers say the government’s police force was so brutal and corrupt that they welcomed the Taliban as liberators.

“The police would stop people driving on motorcycles, beat them and take their money,” said Mohammad Gul, an elder in the village of Pankela, which British troops have been securing for the past three days after flying in by helicopter.

He pointed to two compounds of neighbours where pre-teen children had been abducted by police to be used for the local practice of “bachabazi”, or sex with pre-pubescent boys.

[…] Although his own son was killed by a Taliban roadside bomb five years ago, Rasul said the fighters earned their welcome in the village by treating people with respect.

[…] “Every time we heard that new ANP would come. But the old ANP would come back and it would be just like in the past.”

“The people here trust the Taliban,” he said. “If the police come back and behave the same way, we will support the Taliban to drive them out.”

Posted by: Lister | July 30, 2009

The other Iraq war

We don’t seem to hear about the bombing of Kurdistan. I found an article at Stars and Stripes, via anti-war:

The governments of Turkey and Iran say they are defending themselves against the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK), which seeks to establish an independent Kurdish state within Turkey, and their Iranian counterparts, the Free Life Party of Kurdistan (PJAK). Both groups are branded terrorist organizations by the U.S. government.

An estimated 3,000 to 5,000 such militants operate inside Iraq’s borders, according Kurdish military officials. And the two guerrilla groups virtually control a large swath of rugged mountain territory, openly operating checkpoints and even carrying out police and judicial functions when villagers have disputes, according to militants interviewed for this article.

Kurdish soldiers are afraid to venture into the region, and the U.S. government has declared much of the area off-limits to its soldiers.

A PJAK political officer interviewed near the Iranian border said his group takes care of civilians, building bomb shelters and maintaining law and order in a kind of Wild West, where the authority of Baghdad and the Kurdish Regional Government stops at the first makeshift PJAK checkpoint.

[…] On a dust-blown, sweltering plain in the shadow of the Qandil Mountains, a collection of tents that blend with the drab tan surroundings lies just off the area’s main highway. Here, near the city of Qaladza, whole families huddle to escape the afternoon heat, driven from their homes by the fighting and forgotten, they say, by their government.

In the distance, the refugees can often see puffy mushroom clouds rise as their former homes are pounded into dust by artillery. “We don’t have a house, we don’t have sheep, we don’t have cows,” said Hamad Rosul Ibrahim, a resident of the grim refugee camp. “We have nothing left but these tents.”

[…] there have been many reports of civilian deaths and injuries. In March, a 2-year-old boy was killed near the Iranian border, and earlier this month, a farmer was badly injured by shrapnel.

Posted by: Lister | July 26, 2009

Two Police States, No Solution

From Mel Frykberg at anti-war:

Palestinian civilians are paying the price as the Islamic resistance movement Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, and the Fatah-affiliated and western-backed Palestinian Authority (PA), which rules the West Bank, continue to target their political opponents as part of their bitter power struggle.

“We don’t have a police state here in Palestine. We have two police states. One in Gaza and one in the West Bank,” says Rabie Latifah from the Palestinian human rights organization Al Haq.

[…] Mysterious bomb blasts, assassinations by masked gunmen, detainees denied access to their lawyers, torture and death in detention, the random arrest of critical journalists, and the banning of peaceful demonstrations are but a few of the human rights violations sweeping the Palestinian territories.

While armed men are being arrested, politically motivated arrest campaigns are also targeting citizens suspected of merely sympathizing with the opposition.

“We have endured over 40 years of occupation and human rights abuses by the Israelis, and now we are doing it to ourselves,” says Raji Sourani, director of the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR).

[…] The Preventive Security Services (PSS) of the PA, responsible for the brutal interrogation of Palestinian detainees, has been accused of a number of violations including the torturing to death of several Hamas members while in detention.

The PSS in the northern West Bank city Qalqilia has refused to release Hamas member Mustafa Sabry, a 43-year-old Palestinian journalist and city council member, despite being ordered to do so by the PA High Court in Ramallah.

The High Court judges ruled that the military prosecution did not have the authority to arrest Sabry as he is a civilian. This is not the first time the PSS has refused to accept the verdict of the PA’s judiciary.

Human rights groups have expressed alarm about Palestinians on death row who have been tried by military courts and allegedly not received a fair trial.

[…] Making international headlines has been the banning of the Qatari-based Al- Jazeera Network for airing an interview with Fatah member in exile Farouk Qaddoumi during which he accused PA President Mahmoud Abbas of being involved in a plot to poison the late Yasser Arafat.

[…] At the same time, Hamas’s Internal Security Services (ISS) has arrested a number of journalists and closed down several pro-Fatah newspapers.

[…] On Tuesday this week a bomb explosion at the wedding celebrations in the Gaza Strip of a relative of a senior Fatah member injured 60 Palestinians, several seriously.

The groom was the nephew of former Fatah security advisor Muhammad Dahlan, who was forced to flee Gaza for the West Bank when Hamas overthrew the PA in 2007, after winning elections in 2006.

al-Jazeera is back in the West Bank now:

The Palestinian Authority (PA) has revoked its decision to suspend Al Jazeera network’s operations in the occupied West Bank, days after sanctioning it for ‘false reporting’.

[…] The PA banned Al Jazeera on Wednesday after it broadcast allegations by Farouk Kaddoumi, a Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) official and secretary-general of the Fatah movement, that he had documents indicating that Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, had plotted to assassinate Yasser Arafat, his predecessor.

[…]In a statement released at its Doha headquarters on Wednesday, Al Jazeera said it was “stunned” that it had been sanctioned for the story, which had also been aired by several other media.

Posted by: Lister | July 23, 2009

Samar Abed Rabbu

The BBC reports the story of a young girl paralysed in Israel’s attack on Gaza:

“She has had two operations so far,” said physiotherapist Pierre Van Lierde. “One in Gaza and one here in Brussels. But the bullets are lodged too deeply. It’s too dangerous to remove them and at least one of them is embedded in her spinal cord.”

[…] The family alleged that Israeli soldiers had opened fire at close range – as they lined up outside the house and while Samar’s grandmother waved a white flag.

When the war ended we travelled to Jabaliya, northern Gaza, to find Samar’s father. He told us that Samar’s two sisters – Soad, 7, and Amel, 2 – had been killed in the assault. We brought him news that his only surviving daughter was now paralysed.

[…] The Israeli Defence Force has told the BBC that their inquiry into the family’s allegations had found no evidence of such an incident. They stressed they have never targeted innocent civilians.

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