Fallujah in Iraq, destroyed by Nato's stormtroopers in 2004
Sirte in Libya, destroyed by Nato's luftwaffe in 2011
By Felicity Arbuthnot, via Global Research
“Hypocrisy, the most protected of vices.” Moliere (Jean-Baptiste Poquelin, 1622-1673)
Last week, a little more was learned as to the circumventions in Whitehall and Washington delaying the publication of the findings of Sir John Chilcot’s marathon inquiry in to the background of the Iraq invasion.
The UK’s Chilcot Inquiry, was convened under then Prime Minister Gordon Brown, to establish the decisions taken by the UK government and military, pre and post invasion. It ran from 24 November 2009 until 2 February 2011 and cost an estimated £7.5m. The as yet unpublished report is believed to run to 1,000,000 words.
The stumbling block – more of an Israeli-style ‘separation barrier’ in reality – has been the correspondence between Tony Blair and George W Bush, prior to an invasion and occupation that former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan finally told the BBC was “illegal”, and that “painful lessons” had been learned. ‘Lessons’ clearly not learned by the current British government. (16 September 2004)
The communications, in Sir John Chilcot’s words to former Cabinet Secretary Lord O’Donnell, related to “The question of when and how the prime minister (Tony Blair) made commitments to the US about the UK’s involvement in military action in Iraq, and subsequent decisions on the UK’s continuing involvement, is central to its considerations.” (Guardian, 17 July 2013)
Further: “Chilcot said the release of notes of the conversations between Blair and Bush would serve to ‘illuminate Mr Blair’s position at critical points’ in the run up to war.”
The inquiry had also been seeking clarification from O’Donnell’s successor, Sir Jeremy Heywood, regarding inclusion of references to “the content of Mr Blair’s notes to President Bush, and to the records of discussions between Mr Blair and Presidents Bush and Obama”. The wall remains in place.
Sir Jeremy Heywood, now the country’s most senior civil servant, was Tony Blair’s private secretary during the period of the trans-Atlantic lies that led to the Iraq war and during the creation of the Blair regime’s ‘dodgy dossiers’.
Interestingly too: “O’Donnell had consulted Blair before saying the notes must remain secret.” Effectively, one of the accused – in an action that has destroyed a country, lynched the president, murdered his sons and teenage nephew and caused the deaths of perhaps one and a half million people – is deciding what evidence can be presented before the court. Chilcot has seen the documents, but seemingly needs the accused’s permission to publish them.
A stitch-up of which any ‘rogue’ or ‘totalitarian’ regime would surely be proud.
Centre to the dispute between the inquiry, Cameron and his ennobled gate keepers is material requested for inclusion in the final report: “to reflect its analysis of discussions in Cabinet and Cabinet Committees and their significance”.
The documents being denied to the inquiry include 25 pieces of correspondence sent by Tony Blair to George W Bush and 130 documents relating to conversations between these lead plotters of Iraq’s destruction. Additionally: “dozens of records of Cabinet meetings”.
Ironically, on 31 October 2006, David Cameron voted in favour of a motion brought by the Scottish National Party and Wales’ Plaid Cymru (‘The Party of Wales’) calling for an inquiry into the Blair government’s conduct of the Gulf war.
On 15 June 2009, in a parliamentary debate, the terms of the Chilcot Inquiry were presented in detail, duly recorded in Hansard, the parliamentary records.
Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Blair’s successor stated: “In order that the committee is as objective and non-partisan as possible, the membership of the committee will consist entirely of non-partisan public figures acknowledged to be experts and leaders in their fields. There will be no representatives of political parties from either side of this House.”
David Cameron, then Leader of the Opposition stated piously:
“The whole point of having an Inquiry is that it has to be able to make clear recommendations, to go wherever the evidence leads, to establish the full truth and to ensure that the right lessons are learned … in a way that builds public confidence.”
Cameron was particularly concerned about: ‘openness’. How times change.
Further, said Cameron:
“The inquiry needs to be, and needs to be seen to be, truly independent and not an establishment stitch-up … The prime minister was very clear that the inquiry would have access to all British documents and all British witnesses. Does that mean that the inquiry may not have access to documents from the USA … On the scope of the inquiry, will the prime minister confirm that it will cover relations with the United States …”
Cameron concluded with again a demand for “openness and transparency”.
In response, Gordon Brown stated:
“I cannot think of an inquiry with a more comprehensive, wider or broader remit than the one that I have just announced. Far from being restricted, it will cover eight years, from 2001 to 2009. Far from being restricted, it will have access to any documents that are available, and that will include foreign documents that are available in British archives. [Emphasis mine.]
However, four years is a long time in politics, and last week, as David Cameron traveled to Sri Lanka for the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting, it transpired that the documents Sir John Chilcot had been pursuing and been denied for six months have been also blocked by: “officials in the White House and the US department of state, who have refused to sanction any declassification of critical pre-and post-war communications between George W Bush and Tony Blair”.
David Cameron is apparently also blocking evidence “on Washington’s orders, from being included in the report of an expensive and lengthy British Inquiry.”
However, ‘shame’ clearly not being a word in Cameron’s lexicon, he landed in Sri Lanka (formerly Ceylon, a British Colony 1815-1948) as the above shoddy details broke, in full colonial mode.
Spectacular welcoming ceremonies barely over, he launched in to an entirely undiplomatic, public tirade, at this gathering of the ‘Commonwealth family of nations’ alleging that his host, President Mahinda Rajapaksa, was guilty of war crimes during the civil war with the Tamil Tigers.
It is not disputed that, as in any conflict, terrible crimes were committed on both sides. But these are accusations from the man both covering up the genesis of massacres of genocidal magnitude – and who enjoined in the near destruction of Libya, the resultant lynching of the country’s leader, the murder of his sons and small grandchildren and uncounted others in another decimation of a country that had threatened no other.
Cameron’s Libya is Blair’s Iraq. As in Iraq, the dying continues daily.
The pontification also from a prime minister backing funding for the cannibalistic-orientated insurgents in Syria – the beheading, dismembering, looting, displacing, kidnapping, chemical weapons lobbying, child killing, infanticide-bent crazies – including those from his own country.
In Sri Lanka, he demanded the country ensure “credible, transparent and independent investigations into alleged war crimes” and said if this did not happen by the March deadline he arbitrarily imposed, he would press the UN Human Rights Council to hold an international inquiry.
Further: “truth telling”, he said, was essential. To cite hypocrisy of breathtaking proportions has become a redundant accusation, but words are failing.
In the event Cameron “left Colombo having failed to secure any concessions from President Rajapaksa or persuade fellow leaders to criticise Sri Lanka’s record in a communique”. (Guardian, 16 November)
As the prime minster slunk out, President Mahinda Rajapaksa delivered an apt, withering reaction: “People in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones,” he responded.
Ironically, in spite a tragic recent past, Sri Lanka is the only country in South Asia rated high on the Human Development Index. The UK and ‘allies’ recent victims Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan barely make it to the bottom.
David Cameron returned to Britain still having to grapple with how to evade delivering truth to the Chilcot Inquiry.
Hopefully, he will read a letter from writer Lesley Docksey:
“It was British taxpayers’ money that funded the Chilcot Inquiry, and this taxpayer wants her money’s worth. All the British government papers concerning the sorry affair of an invasion of another country belong to this nation – not to the United States, not to Tony Blair and not to the current government. Taxpayers aren’t here to save the faces of politicians.
“Nor is it, in the words of the Cabinet Office, ‘in the public’s interest’ that exchanges between the UK prime minister and the US president are kept secret’ – sorry, ‘privileged’ – from those who are paying their wages. The phrase ‘in the public interest’ only ever means the interests of the government of the day.
“Unless Sir John Chilcot and his team can publish a full and honest report, no lessons will be learnt by future governments. But then, if those lessons were learnt, and we the public knew (as in fact we do) what they were, this country would find it difficult to ever invade anywhere ever again.
“So, Sir John, in the words of a former PM, the Duke of Wellington, ‘Publish and be damned!’” (Independent, 18th November 2013)
Oh, and as David Cameron was lecturing Sri Lanka on ‘transparency’, the Conservatives were removing “a decade of speeches from their website and from the main internet library – including one in which David Cameron claimed that being able to search the web would democratise politics by making ‘more information available to more people’”.
“The party removed records of speeches and press releases from 2000 until May 2010. The effect will be to remove any speeches and articles during the Tories’ modernisation period …”
Comment again redundant.
Salafist gang carry out a beheading in Syria
This is the hideous reality of what has been unleashed on the famously tolerant and educated people of Syria. It didn’t come out of nowhere. And it isn’t native to Syria. Our government, along with the US and France, has ordered this and paid for it!
The imperialists, while bragging at home about their ‘progressiveness’ will actively bankroll and support all kinds of mediaeval barbarity if it serves their purposes. This bloodthirsty backwardness is not inherent to the Middle East. It would not even exist in today’s world if it wasn’t for the financing and arming that fundamentalist nutcases have received from the US and Britain over the last 30 years.
And yet the ’socialists’ of the SWP still try to tell the British people that the death squads in Syria are a ‘people’s revolution’ setting up ‘workers’ councils’. And our ‘anti-war’ leaders are more bothered about accidentally looking like they support the Syrian people’s legitimate government than about opposing these horrific crimes and sabotaging the imperialists’ dirty war on Syria.
Time for an anti-war movement that is worthy of the name, and a leadership that is actually representative of British workers, rather than the cosy little clique of careerist scum dishing out jobs to each other we’re saddled with right now.
No cooperation with British war crimes!
By Franklin Lamb in Damascus, via Al Manar
Reports from across Syria, increasingly arriving from such diverse locations as Aleppo, Qalamoun and Reqaa, lay bare massive crimes now being perpetrated against the Syrian people in areas under salafist control.
A recent German domestic intelligence service annual report describes salafism as the fastest growing Islamic movement in Syria. And indeed, interviews conducted by this observer recently in Damascus indicate that mainstream salafism, with its emphasis on adherence to the Koran’s principles and standards for correct behaviour towards humanity, is being deeply subverted in the Syrian Arab Republic by forces organised from outside this country.
Historically, salafi methodology has been respected among scholars of Islam. It is a school of thought named after the ’salaf’ or ‘predecessors’ among the earliest muslims, individuals widely considered to have been examples worthy of emulation.
At the same time, the salafist movement is often thought of as related to, or even synonymous with, Saudi wahhabism, or is perceived at least as a hybrid of it. It is only since the 1960s that salafism has become widely known among muslims, and some attribute this phenomenon in part as the result of the zionist occupation of Palestine and other projects of western hegemony.
These developments have led to a revising of some claimed interpretations of Islam, resulting in the adoption of views more common during periods of history when Islam was threatened. Salafism presents to its followers a literalistic, strict, puritanical interpretation of the Koran. Particularly in the West, and increasingly in Syria, some salafist jihadis espouse violent jihad against the public, even muslim civilians, as a legitimate expression of defending Islam.
Though salafis claim to be sunni muslims, some authorities interviewed by this observer, including scholars at Damascus’ famed Omayyad Mosque as well as sunni sheiks based in Damascus, say that salafis are a sui generis sect, and are thus apart from traditional sunni muslim Koranic interpretations and practice.
One professor of Islamic studies, representing perhaps the minority view, looks upon salafis and wahhabis as essentially the same. The basis of the claim is that salafis do not acknowledge or follow any of the four schools of thought to which other sunni muslims adhere, but rather have their own beliefs and laws, their own leaders and social systems.
It is a theological adherence entailing strict and widely rejected extremist practices, including the commission of crimes targeting civilians, including fellow muslims, for political and financial reasons.
One currently ascendant salafist group in Syria, among more than a thousand or so competing for weapons and fighters, is ‘Daash’. The word is an acronym whose letters stand for ‘the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant’.
Daash appeared on the scene about a year ago, and some local observers believe it arrived via Iraq, with large amounts of funding from Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Turkey, and with the latter, especially, facilitating its weapons, supplies and access to the north of Syria via Turkish territory. Daash membership figures have expanded recently, partly because it pays its recruits nearly four times the going gunman wage here, or approximately $500 per month, as it competes with Jabhat al Nusra and others to impose some of its frankly bizarre interpretations of Islam.
Damascus presently is awash in tales coming in from Daash-controlled areas – areas around Aleppo and elsewhere. What is being told of is a sheath full of fatwas and orders posted on walls laying down what is expected of the local civilian population.
Reports, some of which have been verified, indicate that the group acts with brutality in enforcing its edicts. A sunni law student from Damascus University Faculty of Law, who has compiled research on the subject over the past few weeks, calls it “an insane frontal assault on Islam by criminal acts against muslims and others of the Book’.
On 27 November, a young lady arriving at the Dama Rose Hotel reported to this observer that in parts of Raqaa, Aleppo and other Daash-controlled areas, if a man from Daash covets something, such as someone’s new car or another man’s wife, he must only say “Allah Akbar” three times. The personal property or the targeted women then belong to him, and he can beat the wife and rape her with impunity.
This latest fatwa obviously causes serious problems both within Daash as well as with other militias. The young lady, who comes from a prominent Dasmascene sunni family, reports that Daash members are currently taking gas, oil and bread at will from non-Daash villages for distribution to members of their cult of approximately 5,000 members.
Also according to recently televised reports, it is now permissible for Daash members to rape any woman who is not muslim, as well as muslim women who support the Assad government.
Some recently reported Salisfist practices spreading in Syria include, but are not limited to the following:
· Females in Daash-controlled areas of Aleppo and elsewhere are being prevented from wearing jeans and sweaters and must wear only the islamic dress Abaya and Barkaa. They are forbidden from putting on any make-up, and now, as of two weeks ago, to even leave their homes without a male escort. Some women in parts of Aleppo and Raqaa now refer to their neighbourhoods as Tora Bora, Afghanistan, given the similarities of repression between Taliban and salafist treatment of women.
· As of 15 November, force is used to prevent smoking and use of arguila (water pipes) by men and women in some villages.
· Some barber shops for men are being shuttered in order to prevent the shortening of hair and ‘modern’ haircuts. Barrettes for young people are also forbidden.
· It is now forbidden in Daash areas to display any sign or advertisements for cosmetics and skincare products in women’s hairdressing shops. Violators are subject to penalties of 70 lashes. Any business that employs women must have two work-day shifts, one for men and a separate one exclusively for female employees.
· No women’s clothing can be displayed in shop windows. In the event a woman should enter a tailor’s shop, the shop must shut its doors to men until she leaves.
· The Daash militia has long prevented women from seeking medical attention from male doctors, but recently it put into place prohibitions against women visiting doctors of either sex. Also it is not permissible for a woman to wear orthodontic devices such as teeth braces because straight teeth might attract men, and in any case their bodies are under the stewardship of their husbands or fathers only.
· Daash has proclaimed that women who swim in the sea are in fact committing ‘adultery’, even if they wear a hijab. This is due to the fact that Arabic nouns, as in the case with many other languages, are gender specific. ‘Sea’ is masculine, and when water touches the woman’s vaginal area she becomes an ‘adulteress’ and must be punished.
· Women are also forbidden from eating certain vegetables or even touching cucumbers, carrots or bananas due to their phallic imagery, which may tempt them to deviate. It is also unacceptable for women to turn on their air conditioning at home when their husbands are absent as this could be a sign to neighbours that they could commit adultery with her.
The Egyptian newspaper Al Masry Al Youm in its 15 November edition reported that Daash-variety fatwas regard women as strange creatures created solely for sex, and that the organisation’s members consider the voices of women, their looks and presence outside of their homes as an ‘offense’ – while some salafists regard women in general as ‘offensive’.
Among the practices permitted by Daash is the widespread acceptance of wives lying to their husbands concerning politics. Daash believes that if the husband forbids her from being supportive of their agenda and control of Syrian villages in Aleppo and Raqaa, for example, she may then, through dissimulation, support them while pretending to be against them.
During interviews in Syria, one religious advisor to Daash opined to this observer that marriage to ten-year-old girls should be allowed in order to prevent their deviating from the correct path.
Needless to say, school attendance by girls is also prohibited, even if the school is close to their homes, and one Daash fatwa states that a marriage is annulled if the husband and wife make love with no clothes on, while another sanctions the use of women and children as human shields in violent demonstrations and protests on the grounds that these are jihads to empower Islam.
Yet other fatwas forbid muslims from greeting christians or forbid muslim cab drivers from transporting christian priests. And still others criticize Egypt’s Al Azhar, considered by many to be one of the oldest and most prestigious Islamic universities in the world, for withdrawing its fatwa that instructed women to ‘breastfeed’ male acquaintances, thereby making them relatives and justifying their mixed company.
Men are now being physically assaulted by Daash milita on the street if they are clean shaven or wear tight trousers. Men who suffer from erectile dysfunction can, however, watch pornographic movies provided that the participants in the porno flicks are islamists.
Education is focused on boys in Daash areas, where schools, at both the elementary and secondary levels, are being run like Pakistani madrassas, with education limited to memorising every word of the Koran while severely limiting any instruction in the sciences or secular subjects – this in a country heretofore acknowledged as having particularly high standards of education.
Last month a new Daash fatwa proclaimed that “all those who support Bashar al-Assad, even the word, or who are in favour of the National Coalition or agree to a dialogue with him, must have his head separated from his body, including the beheading of all members of the coalition favouring Geneva II or dialogue”.
One much respected sunni sheik from Tripoli, Lebanon currently residing in Damascus and with whom this observer has become friends over the course of many visits to Syria, is Sheikh Abdul Salam El Harrach, Symposium Coordinator of Muslim Scholars in Akkar, in north Lebanon. Sheik Harrach is a strong supporter of the Hizbollah-led resistance to the zionist occupation of Palestine, as well as an advocate for the Syrian people. He favours dialogue – and he has run afoul of Daash.
Sheik Harrach is hopeful about Geneva II and believes that the settling of some of the existing problems between Iran and the US could bear fruit for Syria. Moreover, he argues that the Syrian people must decide in the coming presidential election who their leaders will be – not those countries sending militias to create chaos in the country while turning a blind eye to salafist, un-islamic criminal campaigns.
As a result of his political stances, the sheikh has been targeted for assassination more than once by Daash/al Qaeda types, and is rumoured to have a large bounty on his head from Jabat al Nursa, Daash and others in Tripoli who oppose sunni-shia rapprochement, either in the Levant or globally.
One assassination attempt, which wounded his son Wael, took place in the north Lebanon town of Aaat during a Ramadan Iftar event held in tents outside his home. Some blamed the March 14th coalition and extreme islamic elements.
Sheik Harrach offers the view that the assault on his son and other such armed attacks are perpetrated against a background of incitement against sunni muslims from extremist elements. Some of these, he concludes, have the complicit backing of some of the security services.
But it is his endorsement for reform and development in Syria under the leadership of President Bashar al-Assad that has turned him into a target, he believes – this along with his support for the resistance and his outright rejection of the US and zionist project for Lebanon and the region.
To his credit, and in solidarity with the people of Syria, Sheik Harrach vows to continue working with the growing sunni/shia joint resistance to Daash and like-minded salafist militias until they are expelled from Syria. He insists that if someone wants to learn about Islam they need only come to Syria to study, and that they need not fall victim to ‘Islamic instruction’ from foreign-manipulated fanatics/fundamentalists seeking the establishment of a Levant-wide or global Caliphate.
Franklin Lamb is a visiting Professor of International Law at the Faculty of Law, Damascus University for the 2013/14 academic year. Lamb volunteers with the Sabra-Shatila Scholarship Programme (sssp-lb.com) and is reachable c/o firstname.lastname@example.org.
“It’s a proxy war by outside forces and the world must stand up against it.”
Human shields from Britain are greeted as they cross the border into Iraq, February 2003
Arriving first in Syria
by FRANKLIN LAMB
A sort of roller-coaster atmosphere pervades Damascus these days, with both ‘good’ and ‘bad’ news rippling through the airwaves every quarter hour or so. Much of the population monitors it all closely. People listen; they read; they discuss their interpretations of the latest media reports or the rumours circulating – wondering, surmising, deliberating on the timing of the now-assumed American attack on their country.
In the very popular Abaa coffee house, on the edge of the old city, in what is called the Sarugha section, customers, many of them students, enjoy the fine cool mist that is sprayed from ceiling pipes, providing welcome relief from the 37 degree celsius temperatures prevailing outside.
You want a Damascus tradition? Gathering at the Abaa is it. Many are glued to their laptops or else in animated conversation, analysing the extent and likelihood of the strike upon their homeland by those who profess to be acting out of ‘humanitarian’ concerns.
This observer often meets interlocutors in the Abaa because it’s very pleasant. It is large with dozens of tables. It is also cheap and two blocks from my hotel. I have noticed that common greetings are changing from “kif hallack” (how are you?) and “Arak lahekan” (see you later), to “Get home safely” and “Good luck with the checkpoints.”
But there is also a growing esprit de corps, a coming together of much of the population, as the countdown to the firing of the American missiles begins. Much in evidence also is a rallying around the Assad government – the opposite, one would presume, of what the White House had hoped would result from its threats.
A good friend from the Syrian Arab Red Crescent Society (SARCS) described how her friends are preparing for the American attack. “We gather our important documents, birth, marriage certificate and passport and make photo copies. Then we leave them with friends in ‘safe’ areas or even bury them somewhere. No one knows how bad the Americans will bomb us. At work we have been told during our final practice drill that the next siren will be the ‘real thing’ and we will do as we have planned for.”
SARCS, by the way, has been providing some amazing rescue and medical services for Syrians and Palestinians during this expanding crisis.
“Many of my friends and family are leaving,” she added. “But it’s not easy, and is very expensive now to go to Lebanon, and they don’t want us – and my family has decided to stay in our home no matter what happens in the coming days.”
One topic getting a lot of attention here is the reluctance of the American public to attack Syria, and whether or not Obama will ignore it. “What kind of democracy do you have that your president can ignore the will of the American public?” this observer is frequently asked.
One soldier stationed with his unit outside my hotel seemed to speak from his heart: “You Americans claim you are trying to help the Syrian people. Every child knows, both here and in your country I think, that the coming attack will make things much worse for the Syrian people and many others. The American people are good and we hope they can control their government, but we are preparing for the worst.”
The government is assuring the public that Syria is ready for the American attack and that public services will continue. Round-the-clock images of heroic Syrian army exploits air on local TV channels, along with martial and patriotic music. Meanwhile, youngsters, students, and workers have begun gathering at presumed targets to offer themselves as shields while challenging President Obama to bomb them.
Interestingly, an international human shield movement is also coalescing, say informed sources here. One initiative reportedly will bring 1,000 Americans, along with thousands of others, to Syria within the next ten days to guard likely bomb sites – not so very different from efforts to protect Palestinian homes from bulldozing in Occupied Palestine.
Here are some descriptive specifics that have been disclosed to this observer from an international organising committee working round-the-clock to bring the human shield initiative into being:
“International Human Shields coming to Syria in solidarity with the Syrian people and in an effort to send a global message and hopefully deter an American attack next week.
“Timing – While moves can be made fast and with all other key elements in place, time is not in our favor. Ten more days for preparation would be ideal. The HS initiative assumes that it must be done in such a way that very little time lapses from the official announcement of the action to the actual arrival of the human shields on the ground in Syria.
“Impact – In order to achieve a significant impact, the objective is to have at least 1000 Americans and several thousand international human shields deployed in Syria. Ideally, this would include at least one representative from every UN Member State, and would serve as evidence of the true ‘international community’ opposing the American attack.”
The US activist-based steering committee is quickly bringing together professionals in IT, marketing, logistical planning and implementation, public relations, accounting, documentarians, and experienced project managers.
Ferries from European ports will need to be arranged to carry significant numbers of human shields from major European cities. Ideally, several jumbo jets will be chartered from some of the world’s major cities to carry those joining the effort.
“HS/Government Relations – The first objective of the enemies of Syria will be to portray the human shields as nothing more than pawns of President Bashar al-Assad. This was precisely what the mainstream media did in 2003, presenting human shields as pawns of Saddam.
“To be effective, the human shields must be seen not only as independent supporters of the people of Syria, but also as representative of the will of the vast majority of people around the world—namely those opposed to the pending US-led western attack.
“To this end, the HS should work with prominent leaders in the civilian sector of Syrian society. No effort should be spared to produce daily news stories of HS and Syrian people working hand-in-hand to protect the country from the ongoing foreign-instigated aggression. Once again, many details here need to be discussed and agreed upon if any action is to reach its full potential.
“Strategy – The sites that HS deploy to must be very well publicized and must be identified as protected sites under the Fourth Geneva Convention.
“The White House is saying that they are not going to attack infrastructure (as they did with Iraq in 2003), but in point of fact, the infrastructure must be attacked if the goal is to drive Syria into the stone age and to make it so weak that Israel, through its Takfiri agents, will eventually take the country over. Moreover, it is well known that the Syrian people and military cannot be defeated without massive attacks on the infrastructure.
“Therefore it becomes absolutely vital that human shields deploy to all power plants, water treatment facilities, bomb shelters (should they exist), civilian communications sites, food storage facilities, and any other sites critical to the civilian population.
“As for military sites, although I personally feel such deployment would be morally defensible, the power of HS in the public relations realm would probably be significantly compromised, and intelligent public relations is absolutely critical.
“At this point, a comprehensive list of protected sites needs to be produced immediately, and the sites will need to be verified by the most independent sources we can manage to obtain. UN representatives or former representatives, human rights attorneys, legal experts, and others of this type all could render invaluable assistance in this.
“Deployment to sites not specifically listed in the Fourth Geneva Convention should also be undertaken, including ethnic and religious minority communities whose members are deathly afraid of the foreign invaders/terrorists. Special emphasis should be placed on christian populations as the western audience, sadly, has more sympathy for christians than muslims.
“Public Relations - It cannot be over stated that smart public relations strategies are the key to success.
“Our goal is to personalise the people of Syria and show their suffering through the eyes of the HS. This can be done with effective daily reports to be uploaded on the internet and reported by legitimate news agencies such as Press TV, RT and Telesur.
“A massive effort must be made to educate the public about the reasons for the Fourth Geneva Convention (FGC) and the imperial powers’ undeniable record of knowingly destroying the lives of ‘protected persons’ as defined in the FGC. Essential to this effort are well-spoken Arabic/English speaking spokespersons.
“We should be ready to provide evidence of any attack on such sites the moment it happens, and to have legal briefs prepared so as to immediately charge the aggressors with war crimes. This is why it is critical that the HS are almost exclusively at sites that are protected by the FGC.
“We cannot necessarily stop them from doing what they intend to do, but we can make their aggression harm them far more than Syria and its people in the end. Herein lays the power, using the enemy’s momentum against him in the most advantageous way possible.
“Note: a contract has been drafted to protect human shields in their home country courts against the accusation that they are aiding and abetting and providing material support to a foreign power that is considered hostile. Human shields are acting in a manner consistent with, and in promotion of, international law and to save innocent, civilian lives.”
Time will tell which Americans will arrive first in Syria, the military or the American public. Many Syrians are today praying it will be the latter and have pledged to join them to defeat the coming aggression.
Franklin Lamb is doing research in Syria and Lebanon and can be reached c/o email@example.com
US soldiers protesting military strikes against Syria are taking to Facebook to voice their opposition to a war.
With the ruling class split over the ‘wisdom’ of an all-out attack on Syria (ie, some of our rulers have realised that imperialism might not win and that more war might just be counterproductive at home), more and more evidence is filtering through from marginalised ‘alternative’ media sources into the public eye.
Here are just a few of the articles currently circulating that together confirm what communists and anti-imperialists have said all along: that it is the Nato imperialists who are perpetrating illegal massacres and deliberately stoking up a sectarian and potentially genocidal war in Syria, and that the Syrian government and army are waging a heroic battle for national liberation from this fascistic neo-colonial onslaught.
The job of all anti-war, anti-imperialist, anti-capitalist and progressive people is to show the British working class that they have the power to stop the war criminals in their tracks. The corporate media, the munitions industry, the transporting and logistics as well as the forces themselves are all operated by workers. If we don’t do the work, these criminal wars cannot be fought!
‘Doctors’ behind Syrian chemical weapons claims are aiding terrorists (Land Destroyer Report)
Doctors Without Borders (Médecins Sans Frontières) is fully funded by the very same corporate financier interests behind Wall Street and London’s collective foreign policy, including regime change in Syria and neighbouring Iran. Doctors Without Borders’ own annual report includes as financial donors Goldman Sachs, Wells Fargo, Citigroup, Google, Microsoft, Bloomberg, Mitt Romney’s Bain Capital, and a myriad of other corporate-financier interests.
Syria: The questions that must be answered before any aggression (Dissident Voice)
Why do you not explain to your citizens that President Assad has the support of the vast majority of the population of his country and would you please draw up a list of the popularity ratings of the 30-odd terrorist/opposition groups fighting against the State?
US planned Syrian civilian catastrophe since 2007 (Press TV)
While the UN and nations across the West feign shock over the growing humanitarian catastrophe unfolding in and around Syria, the goal of a violent sectarian conflict and its predictable, catastrophic results along with calls to literally ‘bleed’ Syria have been the underlying strategy of special interests in the United States, Israel, Saudi Arabia and their regional partners since at least 2007.
News of chemical weapons attack in Syria published one day before massacre happened (Voice of Russia)
This evidence shows that the terrorists massacred people then recorded the scenes to deceive the world.
‘Rebels’ admit responsibility for chemical weapons attack (Info Wars)
Syrian ‘rebels’ in the Damascus suburb of Ghouta have admitted to Associated Press correspondent Dale Gavlak that they were responsible for last week’s chemical weapons incident which western powers have blamed on Bashar al-Assad’s forces, revealing that the casualties were the result of an accident caused by rebels mishandling chemical weapons provided to them by Saudi Arabia.
Syria (In Gaza)
What a potential bloody ‘humanitarian’, ‘right-to-protect’ (right to bomb and pillage) intervention will do is rape yet another country of everything, including its culture, history, identity, and of course people … and further colonial interests and power in the region of Syria, Palestine, Lebanon … and on to Iran.
The American people have spoken: calls to Congress 499 to 1 against Syria war (Global Research)
Americans are slamming at least 24 members of Congress with thousands of phone calls and emails, urging lawmakers not to approve a military strike on Syria.
Russia releases key findings on chemical attack near Aleppo indicating similarity with rebel-made weapons (RT)
Russia’s foreign ministry has criticised the “flawed selective approach” of certain states in reporting the recent incidents of alleged chemical weapons use in August. The hype around the alleged attack on the eastern Damascus suburb of Ghouta showed “apparent attempts to cast a veil over the incidents of gas poisoning of Syrian army soldiers on 22, 24 and 25 August,” the ministry said, adding that all the respective evidence was handed to the UN by Syria.
Five things anti-war activists should know about Syria (FightBack! News)
The notion that there is a ‘red line’ that no one is allowed to cross is cynical at the core. Iraq is saturated with cancer-causing depleted uranium from US bombs. The US military used the chemical weapon white phosphorus in Fallujah and Israel used white phosphorus in Gaza in a manner that violates the Geneva Convention. Chemical weapons are a pretext to do what the US government, weapons manufacturers, Israel, and the Saudi ruling class wants to do - bomb Syria.
While Syria doesn’t have much oil, there is a whole lot of it in the neighbourhood. The conflict in Syria has been ongoing because it is being used as a geopolitical chess piece by the West. The point of the attack is to defeat Syria so the US can next move onto Iran and strike at other forces that are opposed to US domination.
Syria’s real ‘crime’ is to remain independent, ignoring the agenda of US empire in the Middle East and befriending the patriotic peoples of Iran, Lebanon and Palestine. The US speaks of chemical weapons, hoping that we have forgotten their plan for ‘regime change’ in Syria. The US government has no right to determine who should lead the Syrian government.
The author of the statement below is a former Second Class Petty Officer in the US Navy (2007-2012) who served on the USS Fitzgerald and the USS The Sullivans. He now helps to organise anti-war actions in Los Angeles.
To my fellow sailors, shipmates and service members on active duty,
Many of you are now in the Mediterranean Sea near Syria to be used to carry out strikes against the country. Ninety-one percent of the American public opposes these strikes. The Obama administration has failed to produce the ‘evidence’ it says would justify them.
Do not be fooled into yet another war based on lies in the Middle East. The events that came to pass in Iraq and Afghanistan go to show that “defending freedom and democracy around the world“, as the Sailor’s Creed so wrongfully suggests, is just a scheme to defend the interests of the rich at our expense. Syria – which is the only remaining country in the Arab world that is independent of Wall Street – is a huge prize for the oil and defence industries. But the billionaires who will profit don’t send their own children. They send us.
What we learned from the Iraq war in particular is that the US government will fabricate intelligence, lies to our faces, and create a false story about ‘protecting civilians’ to cover up their true motives.
Don’t be a part of a war machine that kills innocent lives and separates entire families. Tomahawks and MK45 rounds kill indiscriminately.
Do not be fooled into yet another endless watch, duty day, sleepless night and deployment in support of a corrupt system that constantly puts you in harm’s way. I ask you, is it really worth it?
I enlisted on 20 July 2007, right out of high school, in the hopes that I could persue an education and travel the world through the Navy. The longer I was in, the more I realised that the community I was exposed to in the Navy was so far removed from the everyday lives of American civilians.
Military spending always goes up. I was surrounded by billions of dollars’ worth of equipment, while schools have to fundraise for supplies and scholarships, whole cities were going bankrupt, and students struggled to pay their loans.
I realised then that the system in place had left me no choice but to join the military. It was an illusion of choice when the reality is that more and more of us join to escape economic hardship. Then we are used to carry out missile strikes against other struggling people just like us all over the globe. It is a cycle that continues to fuel the war machine.
To me, patriotism is doing what you think is right for your country, not blindly following its government. It means that when we receive orders from corrupt high-ranking officers to launch strikes against Syria, against the will of the American people and against the will of the Syrian people, that it is our duty to refuse to carry them out.
Getting out of the military was the best decision I ever made, because the military tried to make me into a tool of oppression for other people around the world – but failed.
If I were at sea now, ordered to carry out this new war, I would refuse. You can too. Disobey the bogus orders to launch a new war. Refuse deployments and reenlistments. Come home to your families and fight the real battle that has been waged by the government against its own people in the form of unemployment, poor education, high interest rates for college students, police brutality and the erosion of our civil liberties.
30 August 2013
Act together to stop war … Join the axis of resistance!
If the imperialists succeed in destroying independent Syria, they will be one step closer to bringing down independent Iran, just as the destruction of independent Libya paved the way for the war against Syria.
The statement issued today (see below) by the World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU) is especially significant for British workers. It demonstrates the anti-imperialist understanding of the majority of the world’s workers, and it is in stark contrast to the reaction of Britain’s official trade-union and anti-war movements.
The World Federation of Trade Unions categorically denounces the intensified imperialist aggressiveness against Syria and calls for the immediate termination of any attack and military intervention being pursued against the country and the Syrian people.
In conditions of strong inter-imperialist competition, and in conditions of deep and prolonged international capitalist crisis where the rivalries over wealth-producing resources and geo-strategic crossroads are increasing, the conflict in the Middle East and the Mediterranean is reaching new extremes.
The manufactured etiology for the “use of chemical weapons” that is being attributed to the Syrian army is an obvious provocative slander aiming to provide an opportunity for the military intervention expected and prepared for years by the USA and the other forces.
The global mass media, owned by multinational groups, are fully coordinated with the imperialist agenda and are enriching the campaign of misinformation, building the people’s inertia or endorsement for yet another slaughter.
The forces within the country, which are morally and practically supported by the USA, Britain, France as well as Turkey, Israel and the Emirs and Kings of Qatar, Saudi Arabia etc, have nothing to do with the interests of the Syrian people, neither with the ‘peace’ nor with the ‘democracy’ that they are supposedly espousing.
The ‘democracy’ applied in Afghanistan, in Iraq, in Libya, in Mali: we do not need it, we do not want it! No more blood for the interests of the multinationals.
We call upon all the trade-union organisations, members and friends of the WFTU, as well as all the peace-loving people and mass organisations internationally to protest their condemnation against the imperialist policy and the solidarity with the people of Syria.
The Syrian people without foreign intervention are the only ones who can and must decide upon their present and future.
Athens, Greece 29 August 2013
Let us be clear. Syria is under attack because it stands in the way of imperialist domination of the Middle East. The country has a long history of opposing zionism and supporting the Palestinian struggle for liberation, and of standing up against imperialist interventions of all kinds in the Middle East and the wider world. President Assad is not a ‘dictator’ but the leader of a popular national-unity coalition government that seeks to protect its people from imperialist superexploitation.
Instead of producing cheap trainers and living in slums, the Syrian people have free health care, free university education and an economy that retains its independence from the domination of imperialist multinationals.
The imperialist war against Syria is aimed at smashing all that to pieces and putting a puppet regime in place that will facilitate the looting of Syria and create a new base for attacks against Syria’s anti-imperialist allies in Iran and Lebanon (Hizbollah). This is also a step towards all-out war against Russia or China or both — a war that would be bound to consume the entire world in flames.
Meanwhile, the terrorist forces rampaging through Syria that the West has been arming want to plunge the country into a sectarian bloodbath and turn it into a fascistic theocracy of the most vicious kind.
In the face of all this, the British TUC has said absolutely nothing about the impending blitzkreig, while Britain’s ‘anti-war’ organisation Stop the War (StW) has merely suggested that the few people who still pay any attention to its emails might like to lobby their MPs and attend a demonstration or two.
Despite repeated endorsements for a mass non-cooperation campaign at consecutive StW conferences, Stop the War has not called on workers to withdraw their labour from the war machine. Indeed, it has not even suggested that the war is a crime, calling it instead a ‘mistake‘.
Instead of explaining that aggressive war against a sovereign nation is the highest crime against humanity under international law, StW calls the planned assault on Syria an ‘intervention’, and uses the same word to describe the genocides and massacres committed in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya.
Instead of exposing the war machine’s disgusting lies, StW’s ‘call to arms’ starts with a statement about the awfulness of chemical weapons — referencing and thereby emphasising imperialism’s hysterical anti-Assad hype without refuting it, and therefore helping to spread confusion and demoralisation.
Instead of organising workers to use their power to stop British imperialist participation in crimes against humanity, StW asks them to send emails to MPs. The ruling class must be quaking in its boots!
The war against Syria is a war against all oppressed and exploited people. It is a war to strengthen imperialism, and therefore a war to keep the workers of the world in subjugation. Just as we need to organise against cuts at home when the ruling class attacks us here, we need to join with our brothers and sisters on the frontline in Syria to ensure a defeat for imperialism by creating a worldwide axis of resistance.
It’s long past time for the bankrupt careerists who lead our movement to be given their marching orders and to be replaced by leaders who are prepared to stand up to imperialism and expose imperialist war propaganda, as well as to get on with organising a mass campaign of active non-cooperation with imperialist wars.
If every trade union in Britain made it their policy to refuse to cooperate with the war against Syria, then workers could refuse to make or move munitions or supplies, could refuse to write or broadcast propaganda, and could refuse to fight in the forces. It is quite simple: the imperialists can’t fight without us!
Rape, torture, ethnic cleansing and even cannibalism are everyday tactics for the terrorist gangs rampaging through Syria on behalf of western corporations.
The imperialists backing terror groups in Syria don’t care what crimes are committed as long as they get their hands on Syria’s resources and remove the country from the anti-imperialist axis of resistance (primarily now Syria, Hizbollah and Iran) in the Middle East.
Anyone who tries to tell us that this is a ‘civil war’ or a ‘popular uprising’ against a ‘dictator’ is simply repeating (or in the case of the likes of the SWP, embellishing) imperialist war propaganda (a war crime) and effectively apologising for these horrendous atrocities.
Such propaganda is a war crime because it normalises illegal, aggressive wars. It is aimed at stopping us doing our duty, which (under international law) is to OPPOSE, DISRUPT, SABOTAGE and REFUSE TO COOPERATE with the ILLEGAL war effort.
The author of the article quoted below is no friend to the Assad government, having clearly imbibed plenty of western propaganda himself, but the information his article contains gives a shocking picture of the behaviour of Nato’s attack dogs in Syria.
Minority groups – shiites, christians, jews, and others – represent an estimated 20 to 30 percent of Syrians. Members of virtually all minority communities have been targeted by one rebel group or another, due, at least in part, to their perceived support of the secular regime, which largely protected minorities from islamist violence …
Earlier this month, an opposition brigade commander ate a body organ from a dead government soldier in front of a video camera and promised to do the same with others, boasting about slaughtering – and eating – members of the Alawite community to which Assad belongs.
“I swear to God, soldiers of Bashar, you dogs – we will eat your heart and livers! Takbir! God is Great!” commander Khalid al-Hamad with the ‘Independent Omar al-Farouk Brigade’ says in the video, words that he later defended in interviews with Western media outlets.
“Oh my heroes of Baba Amr, you slaughter the Alawites and take their hearts out to eat them!” After the brief speech, the sunni rebel took a bite out of the organ in a video that drew international condemnation …
Countless numbers of christians have been forced to flee into neighbouring countries to avoid the brutality and slaughter. The ancient christian communities, which were protected by the secular Assad government, feared genocide … Analysts said those concerns were well founded.
Such a development would also be in line with what has occurred in other nations where the US government has intervened. In Iraq, for example, the ancient christian communities were all but eradicated following the American-led, United Nations-approved military invasion and occupation. Many fled to Syria.
Following the Obama administration-backed so-called ‘Arab Spring’, christians are also under fire in Egypt, Libya, and other nations. President Obama’s unconstitutional war on Libya led to ethnic cleansing of blacks by US government-backed ‘rebels’ as well.
Taken from ‘Syrian rebel alliance openly threatens ethnic cleansing‘ by Alex Newman, New American, 27 May 2013.
Unite statement fails to point out the racism spread by imperialism's wars or the connection between imperialist war crimes abroad and attacks such as the one on Lee Rigby at home.
In the course of a public statement commenting on the death of British soldier Lee Rigby, issued by the Greenwich branch of Unite with the stated intention of promoting “unity in the fight against racism, division and terror”, the union includes the following intriguing health warning:
“We … recognise that there will be many other groups and organisations who will wish to seek to organise against the forces of racism and division. While welcome, there will be those who may not have roots in the area.
“Our request as a large, representative trade union that organises working people in this area is that there is a recognition that the trade unions based in the borough will along with others play a lead role. Therefore, let us unite and work together against those who seek to terrorise and divide.”
What can this mean? Who are these mysterious folk without ‘roots in the area’ whose ‘welcome’ must be tempered with caution? What are the mysterious ‘other groups and organisations’ which, it is hinted, might disrupt the even flow of Unite’s campaign against racism? This we are not told.
Is the worry perhaps that someone, anyone, might actually stand up and point out the elephant in the room: the obvious connection between Rigby’s death and the death of so many millions of Iraqis, Afghans, Libyans and others at the hands of imperialism?
Or that someone, anyone, may point out that the union’s chief beneficiary, the Labour party, has itself been the architect of much of this slaughter, and now actively supports the attempted subversion of independent Syria from the opposition benches?
The absence of even the slightest reference anywhere to imperialism’s global racism – played out in an endless string of criminal wars and assassinations – is indeed remarkable in a statement intending to unite workers in a struggle against racism, and can only be explained by the pernicious influence of Labour on the union.
After scurrying in the first paragraph to “totally and without any reservation condemn the senseless and barbaric murder” of Rigby, not a peep of condemnation is to be heard of the innumerable war crimes that bloody the hands of British imperialism, and which inevitably bring in their train such individual acts of terror.
The truth is that the biggest obstacle to working-class unity in the struggle against racism is the way that social democracy keeps the proletariat tied to the war chariot of imperialism. If anything can be said to undermine Unite’s efforts to push back the tide of racist panic, it is above all the influence of the Labour party.
If ‘large, representative trade unions that organise working people’ like Unite are serious about fighting racist divisions in the working class, let them take the bold step of initiating a campaign of active non-cooperation with British imperialist war crimes. Let them instruct their own members to refuse to shift war supplies, print war propaganda or assist in any way with the imperialist war effort, and support them when they are penalised for taking this principled stand.
And let them thereby demonstrate in practice, by their own actions the superiority of collective class struggle over individual acts of revenge.
Guantanamo is the new Dachao - and the US imperialists are the true inheritors of Nazi fascism
When Obama covered himself in glory by promising to close down the Guantánamo concentration camp by the end of 2009, many on the petty-bourgeois left crowed loudly. The neo-cons were dead, long live the new age!
Yet, four years on, the camp not only maintains its illegal squat on Cuban soil, but, on 7 March, the president issued an executive order, at a stroke ‘legalising’ indefinite incarceration without trial within its walls.
Now it was the turn of the Republican chair of the House Homeland Security Committee to crow, saying: “I commend the Obama administration for issuing this executive order. The bottom line is that it affirms the Bush administration policy that our government has the right to detain dangerous terrorists until the cessation of hostilities.”
Quite so. Let all who hailed the rise of Obama the peace-prize winner now take heed.
The majority of the men illegally detained in the camp have been thrust into a limbo aptly described by Cuban paper Granma: “They have not been accused of any crime which would require a trial, but neither have they been acknowledged as belonging to an enemy force, which would have guaranteed them recognition and rights reserved for prisoners of war.” (‘Guantánamo: endurance and shame’, 11 April 2013)
Of the 166 inmates held captive within ‘Gitmo’, under conditions which UN human-rights chief Navi Piallay felt obliged to denounce as being in “clear breach of international law”, only nine have been convicted or even charged with any crime. According to justice department lawyers, 48 of the men “could not be prosecuted in military commissions or in federal court because evidentiary problems would hamper a trial”, or, to put it in plain English: there’s no proof other than ‘confessions’ extorted through torture that they have ever done anything wrong.
Sooner than follow the principle of innocent till proven guilty, however, these kidnap victims of US imperialism have been summarily branded as a threat and told they can’t go home. As one of the defence team, Lt Col Barry Wingard, summed it up: “Forty-eight men will be condemned to die never being given a trial or given an opportunity to defend themselves. They are essentially dead men who just happen to breathe.” (‘Men live in Guantánamo animal cages, will never get trial,’ RT.com, 24 March 2013)
Half the inmates have in theory been cleared for transfer or resettlement, but wait in vain for this to translate into reality.
The ‘lucky few’ who have the dubious privilege of actually facing prosecution by a kangaroo court are in reality faring no better. Cases are getting bogged down as numerous documents arguing the defence case are snooped on or deleted in an obvious sabotage of even this travesty of legal process.
As RT.com reported recently: “Pre-trial hearings in the Guantánamo Bay war-crimes tribunals have been delayed to address the disappearance of defence legal documents from Pentagon computers, military officials said …
“Defence lawyers representing inmates at the prison camp were ordered Wednesday to halt all computer transmission of sensitive material because of a security risk. The problem reportedly stems from a Pentagon-provided computer server that was supposed to transmit information from Washington to Guantánamo. Instead of transmitting files effectively, however, the system has been deleting documents since January of this year.” (‘Guantánamo Bay hearing delayed after mysterious disappearance of legal files’, 11 April 2013)
The lawyer for one defendant noted that officials had mishandled over half a million defence emails and were even trawling through the defence team’s internet searches.
Stripped of even the hope of a trial, let alone repatriation or justice, a growing number of the men have resorted to their sole remaining avenue of protest. In a last-ditch attempt to force their plight before the world’s attention, more than a hundred of them have now joined a hunger strike that was initiated in the first week of February.
The response has been brutal, including an assault with rubber bullets, ‘justified’ by the pretence that inmates had equipped themselves with improvised weapons. A lawyer for one of the defendants pointed out the extreme improbability of this assertion, given that the sharpest object prisoners are permitted are the refills from ballpoint pens, stripped of their plastic casing.
In a vain effort to break the hunger strike, the men have been cruelly separated into isolation cells. But these victims of imperialist brutality are made of sterner stuff, as is clear from the words of one such, Samir Naji al Hasan Moqbel.
This brave man was able to tell his story via a phone call to the legal charity Reprieve. His account, which has been printed under the headline ‘Gitmo is killing me’, is in its essentials common to that of many of his fellow prisoners.
“One man here weighs just 77 pounds. Another, 98. Last thing I knew, I weighed 132, but that was a month ago. I’ve been on a hunger strike since 10 February and have lost well over 30 pounds. I will not eat until they restore my dignity.
“I’ve been detained at Guantánamo for 11 years and three months. I have never been charged with any crime. I have never received a trial. I could have been home years ago – no one seriously thinks I am a threat – but still I am here.
“Years ago the military said I was a ‘guard’ for Osama bin Laden, but this was nonsense, like something out of the American movies I used to watch. They don’t even seem to believe it anymore. But they don’t seem to care how long I sit here, either.
“When I was at home in Yemen, in 2000, a childhood friend told me that in Afghanistan I could do better than the $50 a month I earned in a factory, and support my family. I’d never really travelled, and knew nothing about Afghanistan, but I gave it a try.
“I was wrong to trust him. There was no work. I wanted to leave, but had no money to fly home. After the American invasion in 2001, I fled to Pakistan like everyone else. The Pakistanis arrested me when I asked to see someone from the Yemeni embassy. I was then sent to Kandahar, and put on the first plane to Gitmo.”
After Samir joined the hunger strike, he was force-fed, a supposedly humanitarian procedure which in reality is a particularly nasty form of torture.
“A team from the ERF (Extreme Reaction Force), a squad of eight military police officers in riot gear, burst in. They tied my hands and feet to the bed. They forcibly inserted an IV into my hand. I spent 26 hours in this state, tied to the bed. During this time I was not permitted to go to the toilet. They inserted a catheter, which was painful, degrading and unnecessary. I was not even permitted to pray.
“I will never forget the first time they passed the feeding tube up my nose. I can’t describe how painful it is to be force-fed this way. As it was thrust in, it made me feel like throwing up. I wanted to vomit, but I couldn’t. There was agony in my chest, throat and stomach. I had never experienced such pain before. I would not wish this cruel punishment upon anyone.
“I am still being force-fed. Two times a day they tie me to a chair in my cell. My arms, legs and head are strapped down. I never know when they will come. Sometimes they come during the night, as late as 11.00pm, when I’m sleeping.
“There are so many of us on hunger strike now that there aren’t enough qualified medical staff members to carry out the force-feedings; nothing is happening at regular intervals. They are feeding people around the clock just to keep up.
“During one force-feeding the nurse pushed the tube about 18 inches into my stomach, hurting me more than usual, because she was doing things so hastily. I called the interpreter to ask the doctor if the procedure was being done correctly or not. It was so painful that I begged them to stop feeding me. The nurse refused to stop feeding me.”
He concluded: “The situation is desperate now. All of the detainees here are suffering deeply. At least 40 people here are on a hunger strike. People are fainting with exhaustion every day. I have vomited blood. And there is no end in sight to our imprisonment.
“Denying ourselves food and risking death every day is the choice we have made. I just hope that because of the pain we are suffering, the eyes of the world will once again look to Guantánamo before it is too late.” (Printed in the New York Times, 15 April 2013)
These hunger strikers are resisting imperialism with the only means they possess – their bodies. Even as their religious faith is abused; even as they are locked away in isolation cells, beaten up and subjected to all the horrors of force feeding; even as they are routinely exposed to the thuggery of their captors and the chicanery of their prosecutors, they continue to resist and stand tall in the ranks of all those who struggle against imperialist oppression.
In their resolute stand they will serve as an inspiration to all who fight against oppression, broadening the axis of resistance ever wider. In particular their dignity and courage should inspire all workers in Britain who are struggling within the belly of the beast itself.
Let us take courage from their example and sever the social-democratic ties that cripple our unions and drag the workers’ movement along behind the imperialist war chariot.
No cooperation with imperialist oppression!
Shut down Guantánamo; free the captives!
Return Guantánamo to Cuban sovereignty; Yankees go home!