South Africa: Protesters Denounce US Foreign Policy, as Obama visits

Obama meets Mandela family, police disperse protestersWhile the US media focused on Obama meeting the Mandela family, and claiming a link to the iconized figure of Nelson Mandela. police disperse protesters opposed to US drones and foreign policy

U.S. President Barack Obama met the family of South Africa’s ailing anti-apartheid hero Nelson Mandela but faced protests by South Africans against U.S. foreign policy.  Obama faced protests by South Africans against U.S. foreign policy, especially American drone strikes.

Police fired stun grenades on June 29 to disperse several hundred protesters who had gathered outside the Soweto campus of the University of Johannesburg, where Obama was due to address a town hall meeting with students.

JOHANNESBURG — Police fired rubber bullets and a stun grenade into a crowd of hundreds of protesters before President Obama arrived at the University of Johannesburg on Saturday.

The crowd quickly scattered as police officers walked up the street pushing protesters away with shot guns.

“I feel my rights are being infringed,” said 24-year-old Bilaal Qibr, who was at the protest. “We can’t protest anymore. Personally, I feel like this is an extension of the U.S.” Continue reading

Yuri Kochiyama to receive honorary doctorate June 12–California State University East Bay

Yuri Kochiyama

by Barry Zepel

Yuri Kochiyama, a human rights activist dedicated to social justice through her participation in America’s civil rights movements for more than 50 years, will be presented with an honorary doctor of humane letters degree at commencement ceremonies for California State University, East Bay’s College of Letters, Arts, and Social Sciences at 9 a.m. Saturday, June 12.

Born in San Pedro, Calif., Kochiyama spent two years in a Japanese American internment camp in Arkansas during World War II. Following the war, she moved to New York and married Bill Kochiyama, a veteran of the famous all-Japanese American 442nd combat unit of the U.S. Army. Her activism began in Harlem, NY, in the early 1960s when she participated in the Asian American, Black and Third World empowerment movements that promoted civil and human rights, called for creation of ethnic studies academic programs, and protested the war in Vietnam.

She was a close friend of Malcolm X and joined his Organization for Afro-American Unity to work for racial justice and human rights.  Kochiyama was in attendance at the Audubon Ballroom in Harlem when Malcolm X was assassinated Feb. 21, 1965, and is forever immortalized in a Life magazine photo that shows her holding him in her arms as he lay dying. Continue reading