UN Official Calls for Investigation into Executions of Tamil Rebels

This article was published in Al Jazeera on January 8, 2010.

UN Official Urges Sri Lanka Inquiry

A UN human rights official has urged Colombo allow an impartial investigation after he concluded that video footage allegedly showing Sri Lankan troops executing Tamil Tiger fighters last year is authentic.

 Philip Alston, the UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, told Al Jazeera that Sri Lankan arguments used to dismiss the video, aired on Britain’s Channel 4 in August 2009, were flawed.

“Sri Lanka has consistently denied the authenticity of the footage, but two of their investigators were members of the Sri Lankan military,” Alston said on Thursday. ”That is why I decided to commission an independent report by experts with no connection to the conflict.”

The mobile phone footage was shot during the final stages of the Sri Lankan army’s conflict against the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). Continue reading

Video-The Guerilla Tunnels of Cu Chi

Cu Chi Tunnels

Cu Chi Tunnels

THE CU CHI TUNNELS (with subtitles), running time 59:16

During the war in Vietnam, thousands of people in the Vietnamese province of CuChi lived in an elaborate system of underground tunnels. Originally built in the time of the French, the tunnels were enlarged during the American presence. When the Americans began bombing the villages of Cu Chi, the survivors went underground where they remained for the duration of the war.

The secret tunnels, which joined village to village and often passes beneath American bases, were not only fortifications for Viet Cong guerillas, but were also the center of community life. Hidden beneath the destroyed villages were schools and public spaces were hospitals where children were born and surgery was performed on casualties of war: underground were schools and public spaces where couples were married and private places where lovers met. There were even theaters where performers entertained with song and dance and traditional stories.

THE CU CHI TUNNELS, a Mickey Grant film, is the story of life underground told by the people who lived the experience. It is a story told by a surgeon, an artist, and actress, an engineer, and the few survivors of the guerilla band who left the tunnels each night to fight against an enemy of vastly superior strength. Attached to the guerilla bands were Viet Cong documentary cameramen and camerawomen whose footage of the war from the Vietnamese point of view and of love, life and death in the tunnels has survived and is used in the film. This extremely rare footage povides a fascinating kind of echo; we see and hear an actress perform in the wartime tunnels and then hear her describe the experience nearly thirty years later.

Director Mickey Grant has 3 other films on Google Video which are CHINA RUN, DESTINATION DANANG,INJECTION, GENTLEMAN’S CHOICE PREVIEW, and HI.

see the complete video at: https://revolutionaryfrontlines.wordpress.com/2010/11/03/vietnam-the-cu-chi-tunnels/

Visit   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=azxnc1nDkos for a 5 minute video clip

Building the Anti-Imperialist Movement After Obama’s Election

On the November Elections and the Next Steps in Building the Anti-Imperialist Movement in the US

November 25, 2008

On November 4, 2008, millions of new voters stepped into political life with the hope that the traditional (as many put it) rich-white-male-Christian cultural monopoly on political power would no longer determine the conditions of life in the United States. These millions who stepped forward to be counted — young, poor, women, people of color, the wronged and abused, the falsely accused, sick and disabled, atheists, Moslems, Buddhists, and progressive Christians, displaced, evicted, and laid-off, and other “outcasts” and have-nots — were repelled by that de facto oligarchy, which had, they felt, excluded them. The Bush regime had arrogantly and unsuccessfully led that traditional elite for 8 years of widening wars and monstrous economic crises, which drew widespread domestic and global anger and condemnation. With high hopes, the millions of new voters were joined by millions of others who were trying to find a way out of the mess that this system has been making of their lives and of the world. Black people, Latinos, other people of color, workers, and youth stepped out of the shadows of solitude and “making do” and into political life, albeit within the confines of a presidential election.

By and large, these millions are responding to the promise of access, of open doors. They bring with them the worries and concerns and angers of their lives—of the wars being waged on false pretenses, of the worsening conditions of life. These are the issues they bring with them, though solutions to these issues were not on the electoral table.

On the night of November 4, hundreds of thousands in cities around the U.S. celebrated their success in electing the first Black president and the fact that millions of whites moved past the racist fears and codewords that have habitually set the boundaries of political life.

But to move forward, celebrations must turn to sober, straight talk.

The interests around which Barack Obama and the Democratic Party leadership have coalesced, despite the campaign banner of “change”, are the interests of the rich and the privileged, even as more wars are looming and the economics of the capitalist system here and worldwide are dragging the lives of millions into deeper crisis. Continue reading

John Bellamy Foster on Finance Capital and the Economic Crisis

This is an interview of John Bellamy Foster with the Norwegian daily, Klassekampen on October 15, 2008. John is editor of Monthly Review.

Klassekampen: Is the credit crisis a symptom of overaccumulation of capital? It seems to me that investments worldwide, but especially in the United States, were funneled into the traditionally “safe” housing market following the bursting of the dotcom-bubble. This overinvestment in turn generated a new bubble, thus causing today’s havoc. Is this correct?

JBF: Yes, I agree that this is due to what might be called an overaccumulation of capital in a number of senses: an overbuilding of productive capacity (physical capital) in relation to a demand constrained by monopoly within what economists call the “real” (as opposed to financial) economy, an over-amassing of profits and wealth at the top of society, and a hypertrophy of financial claims to wealth. In terms of the financial crisis itself, there has been a massive, highly leveraged expansion of money claims to wealth, creating a huge debt overhang, and forcing, at this moment, a massive devaluation of capital. All of this is related, however, to the breakdown of the capital formation process, accumulation proper, in an increasingly stagnant real economy. These are contradictions of what I have called the phase of “Monopoly-Finance Capital” (Monthly Review, December 2006).

The bursting of the dot.com or New Economy bubble in 2000 resulted in what has been dubbed “the great bubble transfer” whereby the bursting of the New Economy bubble compelled the Federal Reserve to lower the main interest rate it controls (the Federal Funds rate), leading to a new and more massive bubble based in home mortgages, the dangers of which were apparent early on (see “The Household Debt Bubble,” Monthly Review, May 2006). This involved an enormous expansion of consumer debt despite the fact that real wages had been stagnant in the United States since the 1970s creating an unstable situation.

It also involved the need on the part of capital to book ever increasing profits from finance, achieved through securitization of every form of what had previously been individual debts — especially home mortgages. This in turn led to the extension of mortgage financing to riskier and riskier customers under the theory that new “risk management” techniques had devised the means (hailed — bizarrely — by some as the equivalent of the great technological advances in the real economy) with which to separate the weaker from the stronger debts within the new securities. These new debt securities were then “insured” against default by such means as credit-debt swaps, supposedly reducing risk still further. This was the ideology behind the housing bubble. (See “The Financialization of Capital and the Crisis,” Monthly Review, April 2008.) Continue reading

Zionism is the Problem for Jews

Los Angeles Times

Opinion: Zionism is the problem

“The Zionist ideal of a Jewish state is keeping Israelis and Palestinians from living in peace.”

By Ben Ehrenreich

[March 15, 2009] It’s hard to imagine now, but in 1944, six years after Kristallnacht, Lessing J. Rosenwald, president of the American Council for Judaism, felt comfortable equating the Zionist ideal of Jewish statehood with “the concept of a racial state — the Hitlerian concept.” For most of the last century, a principled opposition to Zionism was a mainstream stance within American Judaism.

Even after the foundation of Israel, anti-Zionism was not a particularly heretical position. Assimilated Reform Jews like Rosenwald believed that Judaism should remain a matter of religious rather than political allegiance; the ultra-Orthodox saw Jewish statehood as an impious attempt to “push the hand of God”; and Marxist Jews — my grandparents among them — tended to see Zionism, and all nationalisms, as a distraction from the more essential struggle between classes.

To be Jewish, I was raised to believe, meant understanding oneself as a member of a tribe that over and over had been cast out, mistreated, slaughtered. Millenniums of oppression that preceded it did not entitle us to a homeland or a right to self-defense that superseded anyone else’s. If they offered us anything exceptional, it was a perspective on oppression and an obligation born of the prophetic tradition: to act on behalf of the oppressed and to cry out at the oppressor.

For the last several decades, though, it has been all but impossible to cry out against the Israeli state without being smeared as an anti-Semite, or worse. To question not just Israel’s actions, but the Zionist tenets on which the state is founded, has for too long been regarded an almost unspeakable blasphemy.

Yet it is no longer possible to believe with an honest conscience that the deplorable conditions in which Palestinians live and die in Gaza and the West Bank come as the result of specific policies, leaders or parties on either side of the impasse. The problem is fundamental: Founding a modern state on a single ethnic or religious identity in a territory that is ethnically and religiously diverse leads inexorably either to politics of exclusion (think of the 139-square-mile prison camp that Gaza has become) or to wholesale ethnic cleansing. Put simply, the problem is Zionism. Continue reading

March 30 Delhi Protest against Police Attack on Punjab Farmers’ Demonstration of 25,000


Invitation to Join Protest Dharna on 30th March 2010 at Jantar Mantar, New Delhi

Dear Friends,

The 30th March 2010 Kisan Dharna Programme of PDFI Sub-committee on Agriculture Crisis (of which Dr. Darshan Pal is the Coordinator) is going to be held as per schedule at Jantar Mantar, Delhi. It will start at 11 AM. More than 1000 people from Punjab, UP, Bihar, Jharkhand, Rajasthan, Delhi and other states are expected to attend the programme. The  Dharna Programme is going to be organized on the issues related with Agriculture Crisis, such as Irrigation, Electricity, Agriculture Credit, Guarantee of MSP, Price Rise, Equitable Entitlement of Agriculture Community, Separate Budget for Agriculture etc.

It is to note that Dr. Darshan Pal (as the Coordinator of the Sub-committee on Agriculture Crisis) is the main organizer of this programme. But, the Punjab police has arrested him along with several farmers’ and agriculture workers’ leaders to suppress the farmers’ movements, going on in Punjab and other states.

The arresting of Dr. Darshan Pal is directly related with the farmers’ struggles of Punjab. Altogether 22 farmers’, agriculture workers’ and employees’ organisations organized a massive joint rally of more than 25000 people at Jagraon, mainly against imposing electricity charges on farmers and agriculture workers, privatization of electricity and  repression on farmers’ movement. The meeting was steered by Balkar Singh Dakaunda (the President of BKU-Ekata, Punjab and the All India Coordination Committee member of PDFI). Continue reading

Prachanda: Integration of PLA Fighters into Reactionary Nepal Army Will Help Prepare “People’s Revolt”

PLA soldiers in Hattikhor satellite cantonment

Yahoo News India, March 8, 2010.

Be ready to capture power, Prachanda tells Maoist fighters

Kathmandu: In remarks that place the Maoist commitment to the peace and democratic process in severe doubt, the Unified Communist Party of Nepal-Maoists (UCPM-M) chief Prachanda has said that combatants should remain ready for mass revolt with a view to capture power from the government and security agencies of the country.

Details of the speech that Prachanda made in Shaktikhor cantonment in his home district Chitwan, about 180 km from here on March 1, have found its way to the media. “We must prepare for a mass revolt after May 28 as soon as the government seeks to extend the term of constituent assembly,” he said. “We will need to get at least 10,000 of our combatants in the Nepal Army and police.” Prachanda asked the combatants to have patience as “the country will belong to you soon”.

The content of the speech makes it clear that the Maoists will not accept the democratic process, a fact that political parties and the international community feared. “We will not ask, this time, for the top post in the Army as the international community will be opposing it, but we certainly should strive for the Number two spot and positions below.” “The Nepal Army and the police are going to be our real strength now, and we are going to introduce at least 10,000 of our combatants in the security outfits soon,” he said.

A video tape of the secret meeting Prachanda had with the combatants in the same cantonment three years ago had him asking them to buy arms and not to bother with the party’s participation in the peace process.

[Note: The US and Indian-backed Nepal Army has 96,000 soldiers.]