Taking back Palestine’s streets: exclusive interview with underground Jerusalem graffiti artist

[“There’s no voice greater than the voice of the intifada” (Image courtesy of the artist)]

Graffiti has been a tool of the Palestinian liberation struggle for decades; during the first intifada in the late 1980s and early ’90s, Palestinians painted graffiti on all the walls as a means of protesting the occupation. Graffiti artists were met with brutal suppression if caught.

Young Palestinians are carrying on the legacy of art as a form of resistance today. On 12 January, an unknown group penetrated the heavily-fortified heart of West Jerusalem overnight and painted graffiti bearing political messages on walls, doors, construction sites and other surfaces. Most of the paintings pictured a woman’s face masked with a kuffiyeh, the traditional Palestinian checkered scarf. Below some of the images was the word “revolt” in Arabic.

The group hit the walls of Jerusalem again five days later, and issued an anonymous statement vowing to carry on their action to send messages to the Israeli and Palestinian communities.

In the following weeks, other groups took up the spray can torch in various cities including Haifa and Jaffa.

And in June, the Jerusalem activists took a daring step by painting graffiti on the doors and walls of governmental buildings as well as the doorways of Israeli houses in Jerusalem and Palestinian houses occupied since the ethnic cleansing of 1948. They sent the same messages calling upon Palestinians in general, and Palestinian women in particular, to revolt. They also painted “Remember Gaza” across the wall of one of the buildings in big letters.

Underground graffiti artist speaks out

A member of the group, a confident young Palestinian feminist activist who operates under the pseudonym “Laila,” spoke to The Electronic Intifada on condition of anonymity. Laila has been active in street art in Palestine before the creation of the anonymous Jerusalem group, focusing on painting both the walls of West and East Jerusalem.

“Some of the street art I have done was in what has now become West Jerusalem in Jewish-dominated areas,” said Laila. “Some other stuff I have done is in East Jerusalem where messages have been more about feminist messages to [Palestinian] women, mostly to wake up and not be drowned out by the patriarchal nature of our society.” Continue reading

Poor in India Starve as Politicians Steal $14.5 Billion of Food

[It is only right that we introduce the article below by remembering the poem "THOSE WHO TAKE THE MEAT FROM THE TABLE" by Bertolt Brecht. -- Frontlines ed.]

 

THOSE WHO TAKE THE MEAT FROM THE TABLE
Teach contentment.
Those for whom the contribution is destined
Demand sacrifice.
Those who eat their fill speak to the hungry
Of wonderful times to come.
Those who lead the country into the abyss
Call ruling too difficult
For ordinary men

————————————————————————————————————————–
By Mehul Srivastava and Andrew MacAskill, Bloomberg – August 29, 2012

52-year-old Ram Kishen with his government provided ration card in Satnapur Village, Uttar Pradesh, India

Ram Kishen, 52, half-blind and half- starved, holds in his gnarled hands the reason for his hunger: a tattered card entitling him to subsidized rations that now serves as a symbol of India’s biggest food heist.

Kishen has had nothing from the village shop for 15 months. Yet 20 minutes’ drive from Satnapur, past bone-dry fields and tiny hamlets where children with distended bellies play, a government storage facility five football fields long bulges with wheat and rice. By law, those 57,000 tons of food are meant for Kishen and the 105 other households in Satnapur with ration books. They’re meant for some of the 350 million families living below India’s poverty line of 50 cents a day.

Instead, as much as $14.5 billion in food was looted by corrupt politicians and their criminal syndicates over the past decade in Kishen’s home state of Uttar Pradesh alone, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The theft blunted the country’s only weapon against widespread starvation — a five-decade-old public distribution system that has failed to deliver record harvests to the plates of India’s hungriest.

“This is the most mean-spirited, ruthlessly executed corruption because it hits the poorest and most vulnerable in society,” said Naresh Saxena, who, as a commissioner to the nation’s Supreme Court, monitors hunger-based programs across the country. “What I find even more shocking is the lack of willingness in trying to stop it.” Continue reading

South African Miners charged with murder – of colleagues shot dead by police

Lawyers say 270 workers will not get fair trial over strike massacre and demand their release

Alex Duval Smith, The Independent (UK)

Thursday, 30 August 2012

State prosecutors have charged 270 strikers arrested at Marikana platinum mine with the murder of 34 colleagues. The arrests went ahead despite confirmation that the victims were shot dead by police, in the latest setback to prospects of peace in the South African mining industry.

The strike at Marikana that called for 3,000 rock drillers to have their monthly pay increased to 12,500 rand (£940) has led to a total of 44 deaths, including those of two policemen and two security guards. In shocking scenes on 16 August, police opened fire on a group of miners, killing 34 and injuring 78.

Lawyers acting for the detained men yesterday appeared for a third day at Ga-Rankuwa magistrate’s court to argue for them to be released on bail, after it emerged that state prosecutor Nigel Carpenter had increased the charges against the men from attempted murder and public violence to murder. Meanwhile, government mediators yesterday met representatives from the mine owner, Lonmin, and four trade unions in an attempt to sign a peace accord as a precursor to wage talks. The Marikana mine was at a standstill with only 7.7 per cent of employees reporting for work – the lowest figure since the strike began on 10 August. Continue reading

South Africa: Class Struggle, State Repression, and the tarnished myth of “the people’s” ANC

The Marikana Massacre and The South African State’s Low Intensity War Against The People
by Vishwas Satgar, Defending Popular Democracy

On Thursday, August 16, police officers fired into the crowd with automatic weapons. When it was over, 34 miners lay dead. Here, police check the bodies of dead mineworkers.

The massacre of the Marikana/Lonmin workers has inserted itself within South Africa’s national consciousness, not so much through the analysis, commentary and reporting in its wake.  Instead, it has been the power of the visual images of police armed with awesome fire power gunning down these workers, together with images of bodies lying defeated and lifeless, that has aroused a national outcry and wave of condemnation. These images  have also engendered international protest actions outside South African embassies. In themselves these images communicate a politics about ‘official state power’. It is bereft of moral concern, de-humanised, brutal and at odds with international human rights standards; in these ways it is no different from  apartheid era  state sponsored violence and technologies of oppressive rule.  Moreover, the images of police officers walking through the Marikana/Lonmin killing field, with a sense of professional accomplishment in its aftermath, starkly portrays a scary reality: the triumph of  South Africa’s state in its brutal conquest of its enemies, its citizens.

At the same time, the pain and suffering of the gunned down workers has became the pain of a nation and the world; this has happened even without the ANC government declaring we must not apportion blame but mourn the dead. In a world steeped in possessive individualism and greed, the brutal Marikana/Lonmin massacre reminds us of a universal connection; our common humanity.  However, while this modern human connection and sense of empathy is important, it is also superficial.  This is brought home by a simple truth: the pain of the Marikana/Lonmin workers is only our pain in their martyrdom. They had to perish for all of us to realise how deep social injustice has become inscribed in the everyday lives of post-apartheid South Africa’s workers and the poor. The low wage, super exploitation model of South African mining, socially engineered during apartheid, is alive and well, and thriving. It is condoned by the post-apartheid state. This is the tragic irony of what we have become as the much vaunted ‘Rainbow nation’. Continue reading

Internationalism and the revolution of the masses in India: an interview with GN Saibaba

[On 14th of April 2012, the  “Jan Myrdal great award, the Lenin award” was presented in a theatre in Varberg, Sweden. Individuals from different countries and from different parts of of Sweden came for the celebration. Many of participants stayed at Hotell Gästis in central Varberg, where Indiensolidaritet interviewed the secretary of the Revolutionary Democratic Front of India, G.N.Saibaba.]

Indiensolidaritet, Sweden, August 28, 2012

GN Saibaba

Interview with G.N.Saibaba in Varberg Sweden, 14-15th April 2012

Indiensolidaritet: Can you say something about the political work you do in India?

Saibaba: I work for an organization called Revolutionary Democratic Front (RDF). It is a federation of revolutionary mass organizations working among different oppressed classes and sections of Indian society.  Revolutionary students and youth organisations, revolutionary peasants’ organisations, revolutionary workers’ organisations, revolutionary cultural organisations as well revolutionary womens’ organisations from different regions across India are constituents of RDF. Thus RDF is a large network of revolutionary organisations reaching out to all sections and strata of the society.

From the year 2009 onwards Operation Green Hunt began, the Indian state’s genocidal war on the poorest of the poor in India. All of us in our organization RDF work with other parties, groups, democratic organisations and individuals to raise our voice collectively and unitedly against the present military onslaught on the people and the extermination campaign against the people of India. We see this massive military operation as a continuation and the latest addition in the war waged by India’s ruling classes against the people of the subcontinent for last many decades be it in Kashmir, North East, Punjab, and now in central and eastern India. So we are at one level involved in the basic struggles of the people and at another we are working along with a large network of political forces and carrying out a countrywide campaign against Indian state’s anti-people policies, particularly Operation Green Hunt.

Indiensolidaritet: The way we see it, there are two lines regarding solidarity work in Europe. One line is trying to unite people on an anti-imperialist and anti-feudal basis and another one focuses more on Maoism. What do you think about this?

Saibaba: Yes, there is this perception and understanding of how to develop the solidarity movement for the peoples‚ struggles and the particularly the military attack on the people that is going on in India. So what I can see is that there are large sections who think that the large sections of the people of India and the larger confrontation is more important to focus on, to tell the world outside India. There is another section of organizations which hold that the present campaign by the Indian state is targeting the revolutionaries in India and therefore the revolutionaries should be supported directly. What is important today is that the people of India, the poorest of the poor 80 percent of the country who live an extremely perilous existence, are looking forward to a basic change in their lives. The poorest section of humanity in the world therefore is waging a defiant struggle in India under the leadership of the revolutionary Maoists who are from among their own. So if you take the larger picture of what is happening in India, you can see that this is a great resistance against the loot of the land and minerals by the corporate sector. Monopoly capital in its desperation to dominate the world’s resources would like to overcome its crisis by exploiting the cheap raw materials in India and other oppressed countries. It’s an attempt by the imperialists, by monopoly capital on the world scale, to transport their burden of the economic crisis upon the shoulders of the poorest of the poor in India.

Removing the people from their homes and hearths has become pertinent for the corporations backed by the government to capture the valuable mineral resources which are estimated to a value of several trillions of dollars.  So the resistance movement is built up by the indigenous people, the poorest of the poor, the millions and millions of the wretched of the earth. To crush this movement and to silence all the people the Indian government has sent more than 250,000 armed personnel to these regions backed by its air force and navy. You therefore can see the importance of the struggle. Of course the revolutionary forces are involved. They work in these areas and organise the people, but the question is much larger. It is an anti-imperialist struggle of the people, led by the revolutionary Maoists. This is a larger question because this resistance exists not only in the central and eastern parts of India where the Maoist movement has a strong presence, but extends to every part of India even where the Maoists are absent.  Continue reading

Rachel Corrie denied justice from murderous Israeli state

Rachel Corrie’s death was an accident, Israeli judge rules

American Peace Activist Killed By Israeli Bulldozer[Rachel Corrie in an interview with Saudi Arabian television on 14 March 2003, two days before she was killed. Photograph: Lorenzo Scaraggi/Getty Images]

Judge finds no fault in military investigation that cleared defence force of responsibility for protester being killed by bulldozer

in Haifa

guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 28 August 2012

The death of the pro-Palestinian activist Rachel Corrie was not caused by the negligence of the Israeli state or army, a judge has ruled, dismissing a civil lawsuit brought by the family.

Corrie’s death was an accident for which the state of Israel was not responsible, said the judge at Haifa district court.

There had been no fault in the internal Israeli military investigation clearing the driver of the bulldozer that crushed Corrie to death in March 2003 of any blame. The judge said the driver had not seen the young American activist.

Corrie could have saved herself by moving out of the zone of danger as any reasonable person would have done, said Judge Oded Gershon. He ruled that no compensation would be paid and the family would not have to pay costs of the case.

After the ruling was read out by the judge, the family’s lawyer, Hussein Abu Hussein, said: “We knew from the beginning that we had an uphill battle to get truthful answers and justice. But we are concerned that this verdict denies the strong evidence and contradicts the principles of international law.” Continue reading