What Does Black Lives Matter Want?

On August 1 the Movement for Black Lives (M4BL), a coalition of over sixty organizations, rolled out “A Vision for Black Lives: Policy Demands for Black Power, Freedom & Justice,” an ambitious document described by the press as the first signs of what young black activists “really want.” [see https://policy.m4bl.org/ for the complete “Vision for Black Lives” document]  It lays out six demands aimed at ending all forms of violence and injustice endured by black people; redirecting resources from prisons and the military to education, health, and safety; creating a just, democratically controlled economy; and securing black political power within a genuinely inclusive democracy. Backing the demands are forty separate proposals and thirty-four policy briefs, replete with data, context, and legislative recommendations.

But the document quickly came under attack for its statement on Palestine, which calls Israel an apartheid state and characterizes the ongoing war in Gaza and the West Bank as genocide. Dozens of publications and media outlets devoted extensive coverage to the controversy around this single aspect of the platform, including The Guardian, the Washington Post, The Times of Israel, Haaretz, and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Of course, M4BL is not the first to argue that Israeli policies meet the UN definitions of apartheid. (The 1965 International Convention for the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination and the 1975 International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid define it as “inhuman acts committed for the purpose of establishing and maintaining domination by one racial group of persons over any other racial group of persons and systematically oppressing them.”) Nor is M4BL the first group to use the term “genocide” to describe the plight of Palestinians under occupation and settlement. The renowned Israeli historian Ilan Pappe, for example, wrote of the war on Gaza in 2014 as “incremental genocide.” That Israel’s actions in Gaza correspond with the UN definition of genocide to “destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group” by causing “serious bodily or mental harm” to group members is a legitimate argument to make.

Continue reading

Hong Kong’s Leader: “Poor People Would Ruin Elections”

[The ongoing protests in Hong Kong continue in waves of intensity, as the protest struggles for greater organized strength and programmatic unity, and as supporters of the Hong Kong Chief Executive C.Y.Leung (a wealthy capitalist closely supported by the restored-capitalist/imperialist Beijing regime) continue to denounce the protests as a US/British plot.  How it will develop, what changes it may bring, is yet to be seen.  But in the meantime, C.Y. Leung who opposes the protester’s demand for more inclusive electoral reform, has let an underlying and unspoken issue come to the surface:  the question of class, of bourgeois rule, and the role of the poor.  While elections cannot solve the problem of capitalist ownership of the state, classes and class struggle cannot be hidden from any major political dispute between state powers and the resistance of the masses.. —  Frontlines ed.]

As protests continue in the crowded city of Hong Kong, thousands of immigrants and low-income families live in tiny subdivided units, unable to afford sky-high rents. Meanwhile, leader Leung Chun-ying lives a lavish lifestyle in an upscale community.

Leung-cy

Hong Kong Chief Executive C.Y. Leung, as police march past

Leung proved today that he is not a “man of the people”. Instead, he came off as an elitist out of touch with the realities of living in Hong Kong.

He said that open elections shouldn’t happen because “many poor” might end up dominating politics.

Leung gave the interview to the Financial Times, The New York Times, and the Wall Street Journal and reiterated his position that free elections were impossible:

“If it’s entirely a numbers game—numeric representation—then obviously you’d be talking to half the people in Hong Kong [that] earn less than US$1,800 a month. You would end up with that kind of politics and policies.”

Leung made millions in real estate and has the nickname “emperor of the working class.” Already he has been hung in effigy, depicted as Dracula, and openly told to go to hell during the protests in Hong Kong. Continue reading

The system tortures, and they call it democracy

The Guardian:  “Gitmo hunger strikes are a cry for help. Why is the US fighting back with secret torture?……..Force-feeding at Guantánamo shames America – not just in the bad old days of George W Bush, but today, in 2014. And you deserve to hear the truth, loud and clear.”

by Cori Crider, theguardian.com, Tuesday 30 September 2014

gitmo fence hand

Gitmo is a warehouse of the forgotten, run by a military that doesn’t know how to treat the sick souls it’s caged without charge for over 12 years. Photograph: Dar Yasin/AP

“Safe, Humane, Legal, Transparent”: so goes the slogan of the world’s most famous offshore prison. It’s an Obama-era rebrand, a bid by Gitmo’s PR people to persuade Americans that today’s is a kinder, gentler Guantánamo Bay. There’s just one wrinkle: Gitmo is still dangerous, nasty, lawless and secretive – and the evidence just keeps piling up.

At the forefront of this war over the truth is the first-ever trial concerning the practice of force-feeding prisoners on hunger strike, due to start Monday. My client, Abu Wa’el Dhiab – a Syrian man who has never been charged, and indeed has been cleared to leave Guantánamo by the US government for more than five years – has been fighting for over a year to reform the way he and other hunger-strikers have been treated. He’s finally about to have his day in court.

But the Obama administration refuses to accept this unusual intrusion of justice into its island idyll. On Friday, US justice department attorneys filed a motion asking the court to hear all evidence in the trial entirely in closed court, save a short, anodyne opening statement from lawyers on both sides. Continue reading

India: The largest “democracy”? — or, a brazen — but false — electoralism?

[As Maoists in India denounce India’s claimed “democracy” as deceptive and fraudulent, the Indian state deploys nearly 150,000  troops, and moves hundreds of voting stations out of rebellious regions.  See the following two reports from the mainstream Indian press.  —  Frontlines ed.]

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Maoist posters calling for poll boycott found at bus stand

Business Standard, Tuesday, October 22,

Bottom of Form

Maoist posters calling for boycott of the upcoming Assembly polls were found pasted at a bus stand in the Kanker district in Chhattisgarh, where as many as 18 Maoist-affected constituencies will go to polls on November 11.

Three posters and two banners were found put up at the waiting hall of the bus stand under Pakhanjore police station limits last evening, a senior police official told PTI today.

Although, security personnel regularly visit villages to instill confidence in the people to vote, the rebels have appealed to villagers to kick both the BJP and Congress out of power, the police said, adding that a case has been registered in this connection.

Meanwhile, taking serious note of the Maoist threat, the Centre has sent additional 40,000 personnel of paramilitary forces to ensure peaceful polling, in addition to around 65,000 police personnel and 27,000 paramilitary troops already engaged in anti-Maoist operations in the state. Continue reading

When did “the land of the free” become a “police state”?

[The capitalist rulers of the USA have long claimed the country to be the fountain of democracy, brotherhood and freedom.  But along the way, the victims of the US’ rampant and violent growth have wondered “what in the world are they talking about?”

  • When the colonists and later the pilgrims arrived, their force hurled against the indigenous was certainly repressive.
  • When African people were kidnapped and brutally enslaved, and their exploitation enforced by the lash and the gun, this was not brotherhood at work.
  • When the US developed police forces to round up fugitive Africans, this was a police state.
  • When half of Mexico was seized, and turned into half of the USA instead, and the people were turned into illegal aliens, they were subjected to a police state.
  • When workers rose up to loosen the chains of their exploitation, and were shot down or jailed or executed, this was certainly a police state at work.
  • When Chinese were criminalized and banned, was this the brotherhood so proclaimed?
  • When Mexican-American citizens were rounded up, and blamed for the Great Depression of the 30’s, and hundreds of thousands were deported, this expulsion was characteristic of a police state action.
  • When Jim Crow enforced white supremacist rule with noose and whip and gun, with official badges worn or with the embrace or encouragement of officialdom, this was the police state at work.
  • When Japanese-Americans were rounded up and imprisoned, for the crime of being Japanese, this was surely a police state action.
  • When reformers and radicals and communists were banned from culture and schools and work, and many were jailed, was this an expression of the “land of the free?”
  • When people rose for civil rights and Black liberation, countless were beaten, jailed, and killed.  Many remain imprisoned today.  The face of a police state was seen by millions.
  • When the largest mass imprisonment program in the world as been expanded, largely against black and brown people, this speaks eloquently to the nature of US society.
  • And today, surveillance of Arabs and Muslims, black and brown youth, anti-war, environmental, women’s rights, and other political activists and opponents, and now electronic, social networking and drone surveillance continues to expand this repressive police state into every aspect of public and private life.

Some argue that one brutal or oppressive tool, or another, began this process.  Some of the earlier forms did not bother some people so much.  And some have been part of a privileged elite or so-called “middle class” which has enjoyed many of the “democratic” fruits obtained from an exploitative and oppressive system.  When do you think “the police state” truly has begun?  — Frontlines ed.]

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The coming drone attack on America

Drones on domestic surveillance duties are already deployed by police and corporations. In time, they will likely be weaponised

guardian.co.uk, Friday 21 December 2012

military drone spy

[By 2020, it is estimated that as many as 30,000 drones will be in use in US domestic airspace. Photograph: US navy/Reuters]

People often ask me, in terms of my argument about “ten steps” that mark the descent to a police state or closed society, at what stage we are. I am sorry to say that with the importation of what will be tens of thousands of drones, by both US military and by commercial interests, into US airspace, with a specific mandate to engage in surveillance and with the capacity for weaponization – which is due to begin in earnest at the start of the new year – it means that the police state is now officially here.

In February of this year, Congress passed the FAA Reauthorization Act, with its provision to deploy fleets of drones domestically. Jennifer Lynch, an attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, notes that this followed a major lobbying effort, “a huge push by […] the defense sector” to promote the use of drones in American skies: 30,000 of them are expected to be in use by 2020, some as small as hummingbirds – meaning that you won’t necessarily see them, tracking your meeting with your fellow-activists, with your accountant or your congressman, or filming your cruising the bars or your assignation with your lover, as its video-gathering whirs. Continue reading

‘Terrorism Isn’t The Disease; Egregious Injustice Is’

PANINI ANAND interviews ARUNDHATI ROY

photo by NARENDRA BISHT

No one individual critic has taken on the Indian State like Arundhati Roy has. In a fight that began with Pokhran, moved to Narmada, and over the years extended to other insurgencies, people’s struggles and the Maoist underground, she has used her pensmanship to challenge India’s government, its elite, corporate giants, and most recently, the entire structure of global finance and capitalism. She was jailed for a day in 2002 for contempt of court, and slapped with sedition charges in November 2010 for an alleged anti-India speech she delivered, along with others, at a seminar in New Delhi on Kashmir, titled ‘Azadi—the only way’. Excerpts from an interview to Panini Anand:

How do you look at laws like sedition and the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, or those like AFSPA, in what is touted as the largest democracy?
I’m glad you used the word touted. It’s a good word to use in connection with India’s democracy. It certainly is a democracy for the middle class. In places like Kashmir or Manipur or Chhattisgarh, democracy is not available. Not even in the black market. Laws like the UAPA, which is just the UPA government’s version of POTA, and the AFSPA are ridiculously authoritarian—they allow the State to detain and even kill people with complete impunity. They simply ought to have no place in a democracy. But as long as they don’t affect the mainstream middle class, as long as they are used against people in Manipur, Nagaland or Kashmir, or against the poor or against Muslim ‘terrorists’ in the ‘mainland’, nobody seems to mind very much.

“India’s democracy is for the middle class; for Kashmir or Manipur, it’s not available. Not even in the black market.”

Are the people waging war against the State or is the State waging war against its people? How do you look at the Emergency of the ’70s, or the minorities who feel targeted, earlier the Sikhs and now the Muslims?
Some people are waging war against the State. The State is waging a war against a majority of its citizens. The Emergency in the ’70s became a problem because Indira Gandhi’s government was foolish enough to target the middle class, foolish enough to lump them with the lower classes and the disenfranchised. Vast parts of the country today are in a much more severe Emergency-like situation. But this contemporary Emergency has gone into the workshop for denting-painting. It’s come out smarter, more streamlined. I’ve said this before: look at the wars the Indian government has waged since India became a sovereign nation; look at the instances when the army has been called out against its ‘own’ people—Nagaland, Assam, Mizoram, Manipur, Kashmir, Telangana, Goa, Bengal, Punjab and (soon to come) Chhattisgarh—it is a State that is constantly at war. And always against minorities—tribal people, Christians, Muslims, Sikhs, never against the middle class, upper-caste Hindus.
How does one curb the cycle of violence if the State takes no action against ultra-left ‘terrorist groups’? Wouldn’t it jeopardise internal security?
I don’t think anybody is advocating that no action should be taken against terrorist groups, not even the ‘terrorists’ themselves. They are not asking for anti-terror laws to be done away with. They are doing what they do, knowing full well what the consequences will be, legally or otherwise. They are expressing fury and fighting for a change in a system that manufactures injustice and inequality. They don’t see themselves as ‘terrorists’. When you say ‘terrorists’ if you are referring to the CPI (Maoist), though I do not subscribe to Maoist ideology, I certainly do not see them as terrorists. Yes they are militant, they are outlaws. But then anybody who resists the corporate-state juggernaut is now labelled a Maoist—whether or not they belong to or even agree with the Maoist ideology. People like Seema Azad are being sentenced to life imprisonment for possessing banned literature. So what is the definition of ‘terrorist’ now, in 2012? It is actually the economic policies that are causing this massive inequality, this hunger, this displacement that is jeopardising internal security—not the people who are protesting against them. Do we want to address the symptoms or the disease? The disease is not terrorism. It’s egregious injustice. Sure, even if we were a reasonably just society, Maoists would still exist. So would other extremist groups who believe in armed resistance or in terrorist attacks. But they would not have the support they have today. As a country, we should be ashamed of ourselves for tolerating this squalor, this misery and the overt as well as covert ethnic and religious bigotry we see all around us. (Narendra Modi for Prime Minister!! Who in their right mind can even imagine that?) We have stopped even pretending that we have a sense of justice. All we’re doing is genuflecting to major corporations and to that sinking ocean-liner known as the United States of America. Continue reading

Al Jazeera video: “Is this the end of Egypt’s revolution?”


Published on Jun 25, 2012 by AlJazeeraEnglish

The decision by Egypt’s electoral commission ends a week of uncertainty in a country without a parliament or a constitution, and a barely functioning economy. There is a new president, the country’s first elected leader. Mohammed Morsi, the candidate for the Muslim Brotherhood. Is Egypt’s political limbo over? Guests: Hisham Kassem, Waleed El-Haddad, Adel Darwish.