Thursday, October 06, 2005

Indymedia round focus on the invasion/occupation

C. huti Reynolds, of Porum, OK, a member of Veterans for Peace, Green Party of Oklahoma and Unitarian Gihad, was one of 370+ people arrested at the White House on Sept. 26th. Another Oklahoman, Mary F. from OKC, was also arrested.
I rode to DC with Mary, in her car. The trip had been arranged by a mutual friend, but then the friend decided not to go at the last minute. Mary drove, I don't have a license, due to 'poverty' and stubornness. We split the cost of gas. We stayed at a Codepink person's house in Nashvile on the way to and from DC. In DC, we stayed at Rhonda ?'s house, in Eccokeek, Maryland, 1/2 hour from DC.

On Sunday the 25th, at the an organization meeting that was had attended by a 1000 with 400 people volunteering for civil disobedience-to be arrested. We had some nonviolence and legal training and broke up into affinity groups. I decided to join the Veterans for Peace a group, which ultimately its size became about 19 people. I was wearing my pink floppy hat, which many people complimented me on and could have joined Codepink, but I thought they only wanted females.
We VfPs initially determined how many were volunteering to be arrested (15) leaving four supporter persons-people who were not volunteering to be arrested, who would be our jail liason, take charge of our personal property, including wallets, cellphones, etc. and to be there when we were released. Joann, the spouce of Ron, a Veteran from California was the primary support person; there was also a Veteran who was an MD who would support people with medical conditions like me (I have heart disease-I needed to be sure my medications were available).
Against Rhonda's advice, Mary drove in to DC Monday morning; heavy traffic, parking difficult and expensive, the underground garage closed at 11pm. But we were late. The 400+ met at the South end of the Ellipse, split in to two groups to literally surround the White House. This was a 'permitted' march in the streets. It was a bit of a strenous walk for me and some others but we made it to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
After a short rally, a small group of Blue Star Mothers?, including Cindy Shehann, along with the clergy/laity group, went to the White House gatehouse and asked to see pResident Bush. We, the remainder of the larger group, followed. I hurredily gave my med bag and cellphone to JoAnn, keeping ID and money. War criminal Bush didn't appear of course. After a brief confrontation between the crowd and police, Cindy and the small group sat down on the sidewalk while the rest of us remained standing, crowded around them. Minutes past before I saw the police (Capital Park Police) pickup Cindy (it appeared gently) and take her and a few others away to a paddy wagon.
The police condoned off the sidewalk, separating the arrest volunteers from the others, using horsemounted police, at one point. They told the press to leave or they would be arrested. The press moved past the barrier.
The different groups assembled with their groups; clergy and laity group, Codepink, Veterans For Peace, Buddhists/UUs, +. We alternately stood and sat sat down on the sidewalk. The police announced more than once, "If you don't leave this area, you will be arrested". The police began arresting people, it appeared at first, randomly. Then it became apparent that there were three teams working. There were a few resisters who used passive resistance but most of us 'cheerfully' cooperated.

The above, e-mailed by Lance, is from C. huti Reynolds' "Oklahoma Veteran Arrested in DC on Sept. 26" (Oklahoma Indymedia). It's Thursday and we're doing our Indymedia roundups. Lance asked if it was okay to note the above article due to the time since the event occurred. Look, my attitude is that the events in DC and across the country the weekend of the 24th were historic. I'm aware that the mainstream media doesn't see it that way. But if the mainstream media provided reality, there wouldn't be such a strong need for independent media. So, absolutely, we can note it and (as you'll see below) others also had things from the protests that they wanted noted as well.

Take Joe who e-mails to note Chris Lugo's "Nashville Speaks Out Against the War in Iraq" (Tennessee Indymedia):

On Saturday, September 24th Nashvillians gathered in Riverfront Park to say no to war and to call for Congress to Bring the Troops Home Now! In solidarity with hundreds of thousands of people who gathered in Washington DC with Cindy Sheehan, peace activists gathered in Nashville between noon and three pm at the intersection of first and Broadway for a peace fair, speakers and music. Representatives of the Green Party, Workers International League, Clarksville Freethinkers for Peace and Civil Liberties, United Nations Association USA, Veterans for Peace, Radio Free Nashville, Tennessee Guerilla Women, CodePink Women for Peace, Amnesty International, Peace Roots Alliance and Americans United for Separation of Church and State were also in attendance to listen to the music of Peter Moon and others as well as to listen to the words of Don Beisswenger, Bill Humble and others in support of an international day of peace.
Beth Dachowski of the Green Party of Middle Tennessees said she was there because the Green Party is opposed to the war, "We are here because the Green Party has a strong commitment to opposing war in all its forms. In particular the war in Iraq was carried out under illegitimate premises and we are getting to the point where it is really causing more problems than it is solving. We want the troops out of there and this is a strong position that the Green Party has taken on this issue. One of the things that we are doing is trying to build up our between election organization so we are working on a number of issues. We are talking about Tenncare, we are talking about recycling in Middle Tennessee, particularly we are talking to RAM- a group that is trying to push forward a Truth in Recycling Bill in the Metro Council. So those are some of the issues we are working on. We are really trying to work out a strong grassroots organization so that when the next election comes along we will have some strong candidates with a strong party backing them. We also have the Green Hour on Radio Free Nashville which is based in Pasquo. I am one of the people who works with John Miglietta, Katie and Howard, Rose Davis and Martin Holsinger also do shows. If people want to contact us they can go to or at gpmidtenn (at)"

At Baltimore Indymedia, Erin Hall (photos) and Chuck D'Adamo (text) cover the September 24 protests. Micah said a friend forwarded it to him Tuesday and he's been sharing it with friends so check it out.

Coy e-mails to note atx imc's "Students March Against Militarization of Education" (Austin Indymedia):

Over 100 youth, students, parents, and community members converged in Austin to protest military recruiter presence in area middle and high schools, particularly in low-income and people of color public schools.

See Photos here. Read Students Not Soldiers Speech given during the rally.
There was also a contingent of Iraq veterans and Non-Military Options for Youth activists attending the demonstration. The city of Austin has also recently set-up an Austin GI Rights Hotline
The protest was principally organized by young people most affected by recruitment. A major organizer of the march, Youth Activists of Austin, is an organization of students working against the militarization of schools and peace-building alternatives in schools.
On November 17, International Students Day, youth and students from around the country (and hopefully in Austin) will be working against “the invasion of military recruiters and JROTC programs in our schools” in the first nationally coordinated day of action for and about young people! NOT YOUR SOLDIER!

Tricia notes Brian Conley's "The Continuing Legacy of Abu Ghraib" (Boston Indymedia):

Haj Ali has since spoken at many conferences about Human Rights and detentions, mainly in the Middle East, because he has much difficulty obtaining a visa to leave the country. Just this week he was to go to Italy to speak at a conference there, but the Italian Embassy has stonewalled his attempts to obtain a visa. They claim that he is a terrorist. It is unclear if this is because he was in Abu Ghraib, or because he is an Iraqi, or perhaps because he is an outspoken Iraqi.
Haj Ali claims he is the Iraqi pictured in the now infamous photo of a detainee in a black hood with electrodes attached to his hands. I have not yet been able to confirm this, however while I have been here an Australian journalist, Olivia Rousset from SBS Dateline in Australia has been following Haj Ali. SBS apparently feels Haj Ali's story is credible enough to finance a short documentary piece on him and the Abu Ghraib story. Haj Ali has also helped found an organization, ostensibly with all of the surviving Iraqis from the infamous Abu Ghraib photos. His organization, Association of Victims of American Occupation Prisons, is hoping to create a change for Iraq, in the way the prisons are run, in the manner that Iraqis are treated, and, he hopes, a change for Iraq overall.
Haj Ali assured me that his organization is important because these actions continue, many of them now caused by Iraqi guards, who were trained by the United States and who attempt to imitate the Americans' actions. He wanted to emphasize that the best thing that can happen is for the United States to leave Iraq, for many reasons, not the least of which being the soldiers' abuse of Iraqis and their impact on average Iraqis because they have encouraged the practice of abuse and torture by their actions.
While he was in Abu Ghraib, he suffered many things, not only just the pictures with the electrodes and the hood. They gave him many nicknames and when they did this, they would strip him naked and then, with a thick marker, they wrote on him. For awhile they called him "Colin Powell," after the previous Secretary of State, and the soldiers wrote this name on his forehead, across his chest and back, all over his body. They gave him other nicknames as well, such as Gilligan and Big Chicken. They also forced him to dress in a bikini type bathing suit or underwear, and they threatened to show them to all his family, his children, his wife, his cousins and other family. For those who are not aware about Muslim custom, it is important to make clear why this is so offensive, even more so than simple humiliation.
In Islam, it is forbidden to publicly display your body, from your midriff near the belly button to your knees. So for Haj Ali, who is a very religious man, this is an incredible insult and defamation, it is a violation of his religion for him to do this. One way to understand how dedicated and religious Haj Ali is will be to understand the reason he is referred to by the term "Haj." This is because he has made the Haj, the religious pilgrimage to Mecca. So now, as a term of respect, though his given name is Ali Shalal Abbas, most people simply call him Haj Ali.
Today these prisons and humiliations still continue in Iraq, whether we discuss the public use of confessions and humiliations of alleged insurgents on television, or less public actions, it is continuing. There are prisons run by militias and parties all over Iraq. This is because the only groups that have been able to keep order continuously in Iraq are the militias, which are dedicated to the goals of their specific parties, which are often no more than the political arms of tribal factions in Iraq. Groups such as the Badr Brigade and the Mahdi Army are only some of the militias that are better known in the media.
To prove that these torturous practices and abuses are still continuing, Haj Ali provided me with two dozen photos of injured or deceased Iraqis, with many clear signs of abuse. These photos are all of detainees from Iraq, and clearly demonstrate abuse. I can only post the photos here for your perusal to make your own decision about their truth. A photographer who works for the Association produced these. In my own investigations, they appear to me to be valid, but in today’s world of Adobe Photoshop and digital imaging, I admit it can be difficult. Many of these photos are quite gruesome, so please be advised. You can find them here (link to be posted as soon as photos are available).

(And remember, Brian's site is -- noted earlier tonight.)

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