Thursday, December 22, 2005

Indymedia roundup forcus on the war

Imagine a pink-clad, political fairy princess with magical powers, which allow her to accomplish anything at all, no matter how impossible-seeming or absurd.
It so happens there exists such a sprite. San Francisco leftist gadfly Medea Benjamin, and the anti-war women's group she co-founded called Code Pink, ironically has members of the passionate right seeing red in defense of their proclaimed enemy: Democrat Hillary Clinton.
These Merry Pinksters, along with groups representing anti-war grandmothers, anti-war parents, and anti-war veterans, have been bird-dogging Clinton's public appearances, aiming to embarrass the senator from New York for her opposition to pulling troops out of Iraq.
Earlier this month Code Pink booed Clinton down in Chicago "during what was supposed to be a motivational speech to young people," wrote a syndicated columnist appearing in the Unification Church's Washington Times. Bad-mouthing the Iraq War, a form of "deranged defeatism, will earn you a Code Pink T-shirt and a hug from Cindy Sheehan. But as Hillary (dangerously for Republicans) seems to understand, it won't win much else."
Clinton was scheduled to appear in San Francisco on Dec. 20, a visit that's been postponed, probably until January, according to a woman I spoke to at the S.F. Bar Association, the event's sponsor.
Conservative views notwithstanding, there's plenty to merit dogging Clinton when she arrives here -- or anywhere else she goes during her pre-pre-primary campaign for president. She's touted as an early favorite.
Benjamin describes a two-flank strategy in which one cell of pink ladies infiltrates the Clinton appearance, while another raises a U.S.-out-of-Iraq ruckus outside.
"We go in to hear what she has to say, and respond if we don't like what we hear, which is unfortunately much of the time," Benjamin says. "I don't think people understand how bad her position has been on this war. She's voted for every resolution to continue the war, to fund the war; she's called for 80,000 more troops in the military; she's refused to sign on to bills calling for an exit strategy; and she's been, in general, a major disappointment."
I've complained in the past about liberals devouring our own. But I think this pink brigade has chosen an appropriate, even delectable, dish. According to the lead article in the current issue of Foreign Affairs, pollster Daniel Yankelovich demonstrates how popular sentiment against U.S. involvement in Iraq has neared a tipping point, beyond which policy-makers will be forced to pull out.
This is a moment Democrats might think about preparing for. Instead, front-runner Clinton is positioning herself toward the middle of 2003 popular sentiment about the war. By 2008 the plot she's staking out now may have been abandoned by most Americans. Then she'll have to either flip-flop or remain in moderate left field.
With that in mind, Hillary's bird-dogging pink chorus may be offering better advice than her mainstream Democratic handlers.

The above, noted by West, is from Matt Smith's "Pretty Rowdy in Pink" (San Francisco Weekly). It's Thursday (still Thursday as I begin this entry) and in the last indymedia roundup we focused on governmental spying/snooping. In this one we focus on the invasion/occupation of Iraq -- the war in Iraq and the war in the United States.

Turning our attention to Iraq and the recent vote, we note Sabah Ali's "Behind the Steel Curtain: The Real Face of the Occupation" (Iraq Dispatches):

The Bush Administration uses double barrel propaganda today, with Mr. Bush using a prime time television address to say things like "My fellow citizens: Not only can we win the war in Iraq - we are winning the war in Iraq," and responding to negative news by saying "It does not mean that we are losing." Meanwhile, Mr. Cheney, while on a heavily guarded tour of the "Green Zone" and other locales in Iraq said today, "I think the vast majority of them think of us as liberators."
While the Bush Administration portrayed Thursday's Iraqi elections as a resounding success, Iraqi political parties are complaining of violations ranging from dead men voting to murder in the streets as accusations begin to fly from all political corners of rampand fraud and violence bringing the results of the vote under suspicion.
[. . .]
Modhhir Najim Abdulla, a security officer in the hospital took us to his uncle's bombed house where 17 women, children, and civilians were killed. The house of Arkan was just heaps of concrete blocks; the roof was flattened to the ground. There were 5 families living there. Not one of them was a stranger or a fighter.
"I just want to know why, I want a justification" Modhhir began, "the bombing began on Nov 5, loud speakers were saying stay at home, do not move out, and we did. 15 minutes later the bombing began. They did not announce evacuation. We had no chance to leave." On Nov 7, we heard that our uncle's house was bombed. We could not go to check; we went to the nearest American troops and told them. They accompanied us, and this is what we found."
Modhhir was not crying, but his voice was full of rage. His sister (Najla') who was the wife of his cousin too, was pregnant in her 9th month. She was supposed to have cesarean operation because she was a week late for her due time. "I can not describe her and her baby when we removed the bodies." Another cousin's baby was only 25 days. A third child's body was not found until 2 days later. Modhhir brought the family’s IDs, death certificates, and photos.
They are: (name, age, relation to Arkan and cause of death)
Arkan Abdulla Family:
1-Alia Amir, 50, wife, smashed scull, broken ribs, burns and injuries in the chest and abdomen
2- Asma’a Arkan, 23, daughter, suffocation
3- In’am Arkan, 14, daughter, smashed scull
4- Lubna Arkan, 12, daughter, injury in the head and suffocation
5- Abdul Razzaq Arkan, 10, son, broken ribs and suffocation
6- Mahmood Arkan, 22, son, broken scull and suffocation
Saddam Arkan Abdulla Family
7- Khatar Dahham, 28, daughter in law, injuries and broken scull
8- Dhuha S. Arkan, 10, grand daughter, broken scull and injuries in head
9- Abdulla S. Arkan, 9, grandson, intestine tear
10-Thammir S.Arkan, 4, grandson, broken ribs, bleeding inside chest and broken legs
11- Amir S. Arkan, 7, grandson, smashed scull, suffocation and legs injury
12- Yahia S. Arkan, 3, grandson, smashed scull
13- Saja S. Arkan, 2, grand daughter, smashed scull, tissue tear and broken ribs
Fanar Arkan Abdulla Family
14- Najla'a Najim, 22, daughter in law, smashed scull, suffocation
15- Leila Fanar Arkan, fetus, given birth and death certificate at the same time
16- Ahmad Salih Amir, 25 days, nephew, injuries in head, chest and ribs.
17- Khattab Mahmood Arkan, 2, grandson, smashed scull
"Who of these do you recognize as terrorist? This one, this, or may be this?" The pictures were of women in a party, many children in different occasions…This is my sister, this is her son, this is my youngest cousin....etc. He was pointing to the faces and naming them. I felt that the list was endless. "Please stop," I said.

Pru notes "Iraqi tells delegates: 'We have common interests'" (the UK's Socialist Worker):

The central aim of the Iraqi National Foundation Congress is to unite the anti-occupation organisations in Iraq. Iraq has just emerged from dictatorship, only to find itself under occuption by foreign powers. We need a voice to combat an occupation that actively tries to further fragment the Iraqi people.
The type of neo-colonial occupation that we see in Iraq exerts and maintains its control by dividing the peoples of the world.
It keeps the people of Britain ignorant by telling them that the Iraqi people want the occupation to continue. It tells the Iraqi people that the puppet government has international legitimacy, and that the British people approve of the occupation.
But if the British or American people protest against the war, the Iraqi people get to hear about it.
It’s vital to elect politicians who don't restrict themselves to considering domestic interests. Instead elect ones that understand the commonality of interests between the Iraqi and British people.
Thanks to Sami Ramadani for translating
© Copyright Socialist Worker (unless otherwise stated). You may republish if you include an active link to the original and leave this notice in place.

In case you missed news of the International Peace Conference, Pru also notes Lindsey German's "Delegates to International Peace Conference call protest in March 2006" (The Socialist Worker):

The International Peace Conference held in London last Saturday was a huge success. With the main hall packed and standing room only, an overflow and many people turned away in the previous few days because of lack of space, it was a focus for anti-war opinion across the world.
Around 1,500 people attended on the day, including delegations from national trade unions such as the PCS, CWU, Natfhe, Amicus and the T&G.
International delegates from the US, Iraq and Iran were joined by those from across Europe, the Philippines and India. People came from all over Britain and represented a cross section of the anti-war movement--students, school students, peace activists, Muslims, trade unionists.
The conference was a great step forward in Britain and internationally. We have marched repeatedly, but this was a chance to develop our ideas and contacts, to hear from US activists and Iraqis, and to plan action for the future.
The statement endorsed at the end of the conference called for the withdrawal of troops and an end to the occupation, and an international weekend of action on 18/19 March--the third anniversary of the start of the Iraq war.
It also called for an international inquiry into the use of chemical weapons in Fallujah, opposition to oil privatisation, opposition to intervention in Iran or Syria, and for international coordination to plan future activities and exchange information.
A meeting held last Sunday brought together some of the international delegates with British organisers to discuss how we implement the statement passed at the conference.
That marked a big step forward as the Iraqis discussed their situation in more depth. We also talked about the slogans for 18/19 March and the different issues which came up in different countries--for example how the US torture flights have become very big issues in Germany, Greece and Ireland.
In the New Year, we have to start organising immediately for 18/19 March.
A first step is going to all the individuals and organisations delegated to the conference, organising a public report back meeting for mid to late January and planning how you are going to mobilise in your area to make this the biggest possible demonstration.
That means winning trade union backing, booking coaches, going to schools, colleges, estates, mosques, and involving them in helping to mobilise for the march.
We also need to keep on the alert for the death of the 100th British soldier, which may well occur over the Christmas period, and organise protests to mark it.
The conference was a great springboard to reactivate the movement over the next few months, to fight over restrictions on civil liberties and to build a mass campaign to bring the troops home.
The following should be read alongside this article:

» Iraqi tells delegates: 'We have common interests'
» Occupation is a disaster for the warmongers»
'Don't let Bush spread his war across the Middle East'»
'Our sons were lied to and sent to die in Iraq'
© Copyright Socialist Worker (unless otherwise stated). You may republish if you include an active link to the original and leave this notice in place.
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James in Brighton notes a resource for more on the peace conference, UK Indymedia's "Publication of all London Peace Conference Sessions:"

Traprock Peace Center has just published to the internet its comprehensive coverage (audio, photos and video) of the London International Peace Conference, held on December 10, 2005. 1400 conference delegates called for worldwide antiwar demonstrations on March 18 and 19, 2006 to demand an immediate end to the war and occupation of Iraq. The conference also called for the release of the Christian Peace Makers team members who were kidnapped in Iraq. The conference was organized by the Stop the War Coalition (UK). The full conference statement is available at
We have been posting the conference in segments. The latest program focused on Holding Bush and Blair to Account.
Audio is now available of:
Tariq Ali, writer and campaigner
Ann Wright, former US diplomat
Paul Ingram, Green Party (UK)
David Swanson, co-founder of AfterDowning
John Rees, co-founder of the Stop the War Coalition, with a video
Craig Murray, former UK Ambassador to Uzbekistan
Walter Wolfgang, activist who had escaped from Nazi Germany
Amani Deghayes, who spoke of her brother's tragic detention, torture and maiming at Guantanamo
We had published the following just recently:
The opening session, with audio of these speakers: Andrew Murray, Stop the War Coalition,
Tony Benn, former Labour MP and cabinet minister, giving the opening address Lindsey German, convener of the Stop the War Coalition, moving the conference statement
[Note: German's the author of Pru's highlight that immediately preceded this one]
Kate Hudson, Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND)
Prof. Elaheh Koolaee (Teheran University, former Iranian MP)
Phyllis Bennis, Institute for Policy Studies.
Sami Ramadani, Iraqi writer and academic.
Mazin Younis of the Iraqi League.
Students met to discuss organizing in the UK and the US, and international cooperation among students.
A video is available of Suzie Wylie, Peter Leary and Pav Akhtar of the National Union of Students and the Stop the War Coalition, and Elizabeth Wrigley-Field, national coordinating committee member of the Campus Antiwar Network in the US.
The Military Families Campaigns section was a centerpiece of the conference.
Andrew Murray introduced Andrew Burgin of Military Families Against the War and Judy Linehan from Military Families Speak Out as moderators. Audio is available of these excellent talks:
Rose Gentle (Military Families Against the War)
Ann Lawrence (Military Families Against the War)
John Miller (Military Families Against the War)
Ben Griffin (Military Families Against the War)
Kelly Dougherty (Iraq Veterans Against the War)
Chris Nineham (Stop the War Coalition)
Medea Benjamin (Code Pink)
Peter Brierley (Military Families Against the War)
Judy Cuniglio (Dallas, Texas)
Reg Keys (Military Families Against the War)
Cindy Sheehan (Gold Star Families for Peace)
Building an International Movement came next.
This panel, which concluded the conference, was moderated by Andrew Murray and Jane Shallice. Audio is available of this program in its entirety, with a special audio of the keynote speaker. These people spoke:
Ishmael Patel, Friends of Al Aqsa
Herbert Docena, Focus on Global South
Judith LeBlanc, United for Peace and Justice
Sabah Jawad, Iraqi Democrats Against Occupation
Dr. Azzam Tamini, Muslim Association of Britain;
Jeremy Corbyn, Labour MP of Islington North;
and Andrew Murray, introducing the keynote speaker,
George Galloway, Respect MP for Bethnal Green and Bow.
Several Iraqis spoke in Arabic. We tried recording the translations of their talks to no avail. Ayatollah Khalisi of the Iraqi National Foundation Congress, Hassan Juma, President of the Southern Iraqi Oil Workers' Union, and Hanna Abrahim of the Iraq organization Free Will spoke. We link to reports that summarize their comments.
The British government refused to allow entry to a delegate from Iraq, the al Sadr representative, Hassan al Zargani. We do not have audio of a few other speakers for technical reasons.
There are photo albums of each of the above sessions along with albums of the groups tabling at the conference and photos of people meeting and reconnecting at this historic conference. There are special photos of Cindy Sheehan, George Galloway, Jeremy Corbyn, the students, and many others, at

Returning to the United States, Brian notes "Crossgates Mall Peacewalk Friday Dec. 23rd" (Hudson Mohawk IMC):

In 2003, a local lawyer, Stephen Downs, visited the mall, had a "Peace on Earth" tee-shirt made and proceeded to wear it publicly as he shopped. He was arrested. This arrest galvanized the national media as the peace walk became a free-speech issue. Every December since the initial event, local peace activists have gathered at Crossgates at Christmas time to exercise their right to free speech and to wear reminders of the season’s essential message of peace and goodwill.
5 pm: Press Conference at the Bricklayers Hall

- 302 Centre Drive ( right off Western- Rte.20; just west of Crossgates Mall entrance)
*5:30 -- 6:15 pm: Mall walk with messages of peace
*6:15: Convergence at the Food Court
"This mall walk is a reminder that we as a nation must work to create a foreign policy which moves us toward and, in reality , values 'Peace on Earth' "-- Organizer, Wendy Dwyer

It's hard to believe that was only two years, but it was. So much has happened since then. High among the events has been the public's willingness to speak out. Using our voices is the topic of the highlight Holbert notes -- Mark Leno's "Why the world can't wait" (San Francisco Bay Guardian):

And then there is the war in Iraq. After hundreds of billions of dollars have been carelessly and shamelessly spent on sole-source contracts to Halliburton and other presidential cronies, Iraq's infrastructure is in near shambles. International terrorists have found a new and welcoming home, while our own national security is arguably at greater risk than before September 2001.
Though the darkness has seldom appeared so absolute, the disenchantment of millions of Americans is beginning to find articulation. The World Can't Wait, a national movement to drive out the Bush regime, is exhibiting extraordinary leadership in harnessing and directing the myriad oppositional voices within our land. Having successfully executed numerous street demonstrations across the country Nov. 2 and with a full page New York Times ad last week, the World Can't Wait is in need of your immediate attention and support to continue its efforts.
In this dire situation, politics as usual will not do. Each of us has the responsibility, if not the obligation, to participate in this collective effort. We will spend many years repairing the damage Bush has already done to our economy, the environment, the health of our urban centers, and to our international reputation. The question we all need to ask is, at what cost do we suffer three more years of this abusive administration? Don't we all agree that the world can't wait three more years?
If everyone reading this piece were to visit and to take the next step, we would make a significant impact. Whether you are able to make a contribution of any size, volunteer your time in organizing a response in your community to Bush's State of the Union address in January, or share this information with everyone in your e-mail universe, I urge you to get involved. The reigning powers are counting on our being too disgusted, discouraged, and disheartened to challenge them in any creative fashion. They believe they can continue their assaults unimpeded.
A recent Ipsos Public Affairs poll indicates that by a margin of 50 percent to 44 percent, Americans believe Congress should consider impeaching President George W. Bush if he did not tell the truth about his reasons for going to war. Let's hold Bush accountable. Engage today. The world can't wait!

The world can't wait. Some seem to disagree or forget. Kyle steers us to another topic that some have forgotten, Brian Conley's "Still No Word on Kidnapped Peacemakers" (Alive In Baghdad):

It's December 21st, 4 days until Christmas and nearly 2 weeks since any word appeared about the Christian Peacemakers. Kidnapping of foreigners continues throughout the Middle East. The latest kidnapping happened in Gaza, not in Iraq, and involved two Australian nationals.
However, in Iraq, it is important to remember that kidnapping is a much larger problem for Iraqis than for Foreigners. I am not versed in the impact of kidnapping in Palestine so I can't speak to the issue there. A report by my friend Greg Rollins(also a Peacemaker) quoted an Iraqi Policeman in Baghdad suggesting that as many as 300 kidnappings of Iraqis had occurred in 2005 in his district alone!
This 300 kidnappings in one police district accounts only for those kidnappings that were reported. Consider the hesitance of the CPT to speak to the media in the days immediately following their colleagues' kidnapping.
If Westerners, with access to skilled security experts and the US, UK, and Canadian embassies to back up police report were unwilling to report the kidnappings, how can one expect Iraqis, who are just trying to avoid death or injury on a daily basis, be expected to react differently?

Cindy notes this (and asked that, if included, it be noted in the entry on Iraq), "We Will Not Be Intimidated By Pentagon Spying" (San Diego Indymedia):

The Department of Defense database on domestic dissent released by NBC News shows that the DoD has engaged in widespread intelligence gathering aimed at thousands of people engaged in constitutionally protected political speech. The excerpt from the database that was made available by NBC includes one entry from San Diego: a report on a support demonstration for war resister Pablo Paredes during his Court Martial at the 32 nd Street Naval Station last May. Other entries had to do with ‘counter-recruitment’ activities and anti-war protests around the country.
This foray into domestic spying on political activists is a sign of the intense politicizing of the Defense Department and of intelligence that has been a hallmark of the Bush presidency: it is one more thread in a fabric that includes planted 'news' leaks, 'news' articles written, paid for and planted in newspapers, intentional misinformation, and other 'psy-ops' techniques that have been used to shore up war policies that cannot stand on their merits. The purposes of these 'psy-ops' have nothing to do with security at home. Rather, they have everything to do with advancing a failing political agenda in the public marketplace while intimidating those with the temerity to speak out. But the peace movement will not be intimidated. We will continue to support war resisters and to make sure that our young people know the facts about war, despite the deceptions of the Bush administration. Counter-recruitment is the fastest-growing and most popular component of the peace movement at this moment, and Americans will continue to speak out to prevent our youth from being sent to foreign lands to kill and to die for false reasons.

And if it sometimes feels to you like in the face of everything, you just can't continue to press on speaking out (and you're not someone in Iraq -- as far as I know, we have no members from Iraq), think about life in Iraq. Which brings us to Wendy's highlight, Dahr Jamail and Arkan Hamed's "Iraqis Glad 2005 Over, Dim Hopes for 2006" (IPS):

Dr. Feras told IPS that the daily chaos on the streets of Baghdad, such as closed roads and bridges, always caused her to be late, as well as most of her students.
''Nothing is good in Iraq now," said the doctor. ''Torture, detained friends, pillaging of houses, seeing neighbors suffering from poverty, no electricity, no water and gun fights everywhere. We have no relief from this suffering now."
Electricity in Baghdad remains far below pre-war levels, with most houses enjoying 3-5 hours per day. Meanwhile, oil exports in December have sunk to a two-year low while up to 22 percent of the 21 billion dollar set aside by the U.S. government for reconstruction projects in Iraq has been diverted to security, according to Dan Speckhard, the director of the Iraq reconstruction management office, who made the announcement to reporters earlier this month. Asked about her hopes and expectations for 2006, the doctor says: ''I only want a normal life far away from the interests of those bastards who invaded our country. I don't care about the elections and politics and the new political parties because these are just a small part of the strategy of the invaders."
The doctor began to cry then added: ''My dream for the coming year is that the invaders pull out, we have Iraqis who love one another to govern Iraq, we build something related to civilization and have emotions towards our land and lives in order to get back to the situation where each of us loves the other and we feel the good will of God."
She paused for reflection before saying, ''But I can't say this will happen."
Other Iraqis, like 40 year-old leather worker Ismael Mohammed feel similarly.
''2005 was worse than 2004 because the coalition forces are still handling everything tightly in their hands and nothing has changed except the faces of the governors," he told IPS in Baghdad, ''They are trying to get everything they can from Iraq, meanwhile financially it is getting worse, fuel [availability] is worse and the roads are worse."
His feelings about the infrastructure are common around Baghdad, as Iraq is suffering an unemployment rate of over 50 percent, oil exports remain below pre-war levels, and the infrastructure remains in shambles amidst the broken promises of the Bush Administration.

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