Archive for July 4th, 2012

The Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades, the armed wing of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, issued a letter to the masses of our people, the resistance, and the brave, steadfast Palestinian people:

The occupation established by the Zionist enemy is still making every effort to subjugate our people and to break the resistance. The resistance has risen from its ongoing crimes targeting our land, our people, our existence, and our Palestinian identity, and its ongoing escalation of crimes that only add to the horrific record of the criminal leaders of the occupation. In response, it is necessary to confront and challenge this occupation with a dynamic Palestinian resistance. The occupation allegedly seeks for ways to establish an alleged and flimsy calm to avoid being held accountable for the lives of the martyrs and the blood shed on the soil of our homeland. The leaders of the occupation are well aware that such a calm is a mere illusion, soon to be dismissed with a severe escalation planned in advance – to be followed once again by calm.

We pledge that our resistance will not let the blood of our martyrs and our wounded flow freely without the occupation paying for its crimes, and the occupier’s mightiest weapons will not be able to break the resistance and steadfastness of our people. Today, we speak with great strength that the enemy must reckon with the calculations of its own losses, as our people have great determination to survive and achieve either victory or martyrdom. We salute the masses of our people, for your continuing steadfastness, resistance, and countless sacrifices. We salute the heroes of the resistance from all factions and our brave fighters in the Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades.

The bombardments of the resistance are painful for the occupiers, confusing the enemy and the settlers, forcing hundreds of thousands of them to take shelter underground from the rockets and motars of the resistance, not only near Gaza, but also in Tel Aviv. This indicates the fear of the enemy and the confusion experienced by the occupation state.

To our brave resistance fighters, you are the shield and protector of our people, you are the hope of freedom and victory. Your legendary steadfastness to confront the mightiest military war machine, your solid will and your revolutionary insistence to hold the occupier and its soldiers accountable for their crimes – has put the leaders of the occupation into a state of shock as they threaten to launch new and painful blows against Gaza. These threats are empty balloons in order to demand a fast calm before their own next escalation.

We salute all of the fighters of the resistance. History will record that you and your great will defied the tyranny of the occupiers despite your lack of arms and supplies compared to the occupation army outfitted with the mightiest weapons of destruction and murder. We also salute the brave prisoners and their will that forced the jailers to submit to their demands, and the AAMB fightrs in all units and formations confronting the enemy. You are on the path of Al-Hakim, Abu Ali Mustafa, Abu Ghassan, Guevara Gaza, Kanafani, Wadih Haddad, Abu Mansour, Wael al-Masri, and all of the leaders of our Front and our people, the fighters, martyrs and prisoners.

We bow to you, icons of steadfastness. Your guns are always directed against the enemy, and you are not deceived by a fake calm because you understand that the enemy does not care about calm, and does not hesitate to continue its crimes.

We also extend our greetings to national media and to the radio station, the Voice of the People, and its crew and staff, to the health workers, the soldiers who defy everything to save the lives of our people.

We in the Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades promise to our people, our martyrs, our wounded and our prisoners to continue resistance in all forms and to use all means available to defend our people. Despite the language and illusion of calm, the occupation continues its crimes against the Palestinian people and its valiant resistance, including murder and destruction. The Zionist state and the leaders of the occupation will be forced to respond to a united national front and the formation of a unified resistance front that coordinates to continue resistance in all forms. All of our fighters will remain deployed ready to respond to the crimes of the enemy and the occupier.

Forward toward freedom and victory; all salutes to our heroic people. Glory to the revolutionary fighter in the face of the occupation; glory to the martyrs; healing to the wounded; no voice is louder than the voice of resistance and freedom; victory for the resistance, freedom for the prisoners; victory will inevitably be ours.


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THERE is such confidence between Federico Franco, the coup President now installed in Paraguay, and the United States embassy in the country, that Franco was there discussing the overthrow of President Fernando Lugo as early as 2009. This was revealed in a Wikileaks document in which an intelligence official refers to a conversation with Franco, then the Vice Presi


The text, dated May 6, 2009, was composed by a member of the diplomatic mission (read CIA) and was brought to light later by Australian Julian Assange’s group. It notes the disagreement observed between the President and his Vice President and makes the latter’s intentions clear.

The secret report indicated that differences between Lugo and Franco were escalating, but that Franco had told the ambassador, on April 28, that he was not involved in any plan to overthrow Lugo. Franco further stated that his position was one of patience, supporting democratic institutions in Paraguay.

Federico Franco belongs to the right-wing Liberal Radical Authentic Party, the soft opposition permitted by the dictator Alfredo Stroessner, who subjected Paraguay to a bloody regime for 35 years. The coming to power of this liberal right-wing doctor, alongside the former bishop Fernando Lugo was the result of political machinations which are best understood by the traditional ruling class in this South American country.

The friendly relationship which Franco enjoyed with the U.S. embassy in Asunción demonstrates the close ties between imperialist diplomats and the Vice President, who did not hide his contempt for the “priest” whose administration he was part of.

Evidently to the yankees’ delight, he discussed and regularly shared his numerous arguments with Lugo, which emerged on almost a daily basis.

When Franco assumed the Vice Presidency, the U.S. State Department had already assigned to the embassy a figure with the necessary experience to confront an undesirable situation. The ambassador was James Cason, who had gained notoriety as the head of the U.S. Interests Section in Havana, the CIA station that passes for a diplomatic mission in the Cuban capital.

In Asunción, Cason thought of himself as entertaining, singing folk songs in Guaraní, but did not limit himself to such pastimes. The associate of the Cuban- American mafia took pains to provoke a record number of confrontational incidents with authorities.

The current ambassador in Asunción, Liliana Ayalde, arrived to take Franco under her wing and assure his integration into plans being made by Stroessner’s followers who control the nation’s parliamentary system, and have been conspiring against President Lugo.


In March of 2010, Paraguay’s Minister of Defense, retired General Luis Bareiro Spaini was called to appear before the Chamber of Deputies as a result of his “affronts to the U.S. ambassador.”

With 41 votes in favor and four against, deputies approved a reprimand of the high ranking official for a letter he had sent to Ayalde, accusing her of intervening in Paraguay’s internal affairs.

This happened during a luncheon organized at the embassy with Vice President Federico Franco and a group of visiting U.S. army generals in attendance, when Ayalde proposed a debate at the table about the political situation in Paraguay and the possibility of impeaching President Lugo!

The Congressional opposition did not reprimand Franco, but rather General Bareiro Spaini, for “involving himself inappropriately in affairs handled by the Ministry of Foreign Relations,” while Franco’s treasonous position was not even mentioned.

The plot was already in the works.


The 2010 document revealed that speculation was already underway concerning plans to remove Lugo and the degree to which the Vice President might participate.

The text refers to political actors, informants who kept an eye on Franco and reported how an agreement had been reached with the coup plotter General

Lino Oviedo to accelerate plans for an impeachment, so that the Vice President could take power, with Oveido eventually elected as Vice President.

The report from the U.S. embassy in Asunción, revealed by Wikileaks, makes reference to the interest many politicians had in cutting short Lugo’s administration. The document indicated that rumors persisted that Lino Oviedo, former President Nicanor Duarte Frutos, and/or Vice President Federico Franco, were continuing to seek ways to limit Lugo’s term

The message, sent by the embassy to the State Department in Washington, referred to “political sharks” surrounding the President and indicated that U.S. personnel in Paraguay believed that he was under a lot of pressure to resign or face impeachment, a possibility which the composers of the letter considered increasingly likely.

Informed daily of all events at the highest levels of government, taking advantage of the complicity of every “shark,” those who longed for the days of Stroessner’s iron fist only needed the U.S. embassy’s espionage services to guide their steps.

from Granma

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The letter published below was circulated by the United States-based Just Foreign Policy. It was signed by more than 100 prominent people, mostly from the US. Signatories include film directors Michal Moore and Oliver Stone, authors Noam Chomsky and Naomi Wolf, journalists Glenn Greenwald and Chris Hedges, and Vietnam War-era whistleblower Daniel Elsberg. See here for the full list.

The letter was hand-delivered to the Embassy of Ecuador in London by Just Foreign Policy’s policy director Robert Naiman on June 25. The group also delivered the online petition it had circulated in support of Assange’s asylum bid that had been signed by more than 4000 people. You can still sign the petition at the group’s site.

* * *

Dear President Correa,

We are writing to urge you to grant political asylum to Julian Assange.

As you know, British courts recently struck down Mr. Assange’s appeal against extradition to Sweden, where he is not wanted on criminal charges, but merely for questioning. Mr. Assange has repeatedly made clear he is willing to answer questions relating to accusations against him, but in the United Kingdom.

But the Swedish government insists that he be brought to Sweden for questioning. This by itself, as Swedish legal expert and former Chief District Prosecutor for Stockholm Sven-Erik Alhem testified, is “unreasonable and unprofessional, as well as unfair and disproportionate.”

We believe Mr. Assange has good reason to fear extradition to Sweden, as there is a strong likelihood that once in Sweden, he would be imprisoned, and then likely extradited to the United States.

As US legal expert and commentator Glenn Greenwald recently noted, were Assange to be charged in Sweden, he would be imprisoned under “very oppressive conditions, where he could be held incommunicado”, rather than released on bail.

Pre-trial hearings for such a case in Sweden are held in secret, and so the media and wider public, Greenwald notes, would not know how the judicial decisions against Mr. Assange would be made and what information would be considered.

The Washington Post has reported that the US Justice Department and Pentagon conducted a criminal investigation into “whether WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange violated criminal laws in the group’s release of government documents, including possible charges under the Espionage Act”.

Many fear, based on documents released by WikiLeaks, that the US government has already prepared an indictment and is waiting for the opportunity to extradite Assange from Sweden.

The US Justice Department has compelled other members of WikiLeaks to testify before a grand jury in order to determine what charges might be brought against Mr. Assange.

The US government has made clear its open hostility to WikiLeaks, with high-level officials even referring to Mr. Assange as a “high-tech terrorist”, and seeking access to the Twitter account of Icelandic legislator Birgitta Jonsdottir due to her past ties to WikiLeaks.

Were he charged, and found guilty under the Espionage Act, Assange could face the death penalty.

Prior to that, the case of Private Bradley Manning, the US soldier accused of providing US government documents to WikiLeaks, provides an illustration of the treatment that Assange might expect while in custody.

Manning has been subjected to repeated and prolonged solitary confinement, harassment by guards, and humiliating treatment such as being forced to strip naked and stand at attention outside his cell. These are additional reasons that your government should grant Mr. Assange political asylum.

We also call on you to grant Mr. Assange political asylum because the “crime” that he has committed is that of practicing journalism. He has revealed important crimes against humanity committed by the US government, most notably in releasing video footage from an Apache helicopter of a 2007 incident in which the US military appears to have deliberately killed civilians, including two Reuters employees.

WikiLeaks’ release of thousands of US State Department cables revealed important cases of US officials acting to undermine democracy and human rights around the world.

Because this is a clear case of an attack on press freedom and on the public’s right to know important truths about US foreign policy, and because the threat to his health and wellbeing is serious, we urge you to grant Mr. Assange political asylum.

Thank you for your consideration of our request.


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On June 3, Palestinian national soccer team member Mahmoud Sarsak completed 80 days of a grueling hunger-strike. He had sustained the strike despite the fact that nearly 2,000 Palestinian inmates had called off their own 28-day hunger strike weeks ago.

Although the story of Palestinian prisoners in Israel speaks to a common reality of unlawful detentions and widespread mistreatment, Sarsak’s fate can also be viewed within its own unique context. The soccer player, who once sought to take the name and flag of his nation to international arenas, was arrested by Israeli soldiers in July 2009 while en route to join the national team in the West Bank.

Sarsak was branded an ‘illegal combatant’ by Israel’s military judicial system, and was since imprisoned without any charges or trial.

Sarsak is not alone in the continued hunger strike. Akram al-Rekhawi, a diabetic prisoner demanding proper medical care, has refused food for over 60 days.

At the time of writing of this article, both men were reportedly in dire medical condition. Sarsak, once of unmatched athletic built, is now gaunt beyond recognition. The already ill al-Rekhawi is dying.

According to rights groups, an Israeli court on May 30 granted prison doctors 12 more days before allowing independent doctors to visit the prisoners, further prolonging their suffering and isolation. Physicians for Human Rights – Israel (PHRI), which has done a remarkable job battling the draconian rules of Israeli military courts, continues to petition the court to meet with both al-Sarsak and al-Rekhawi, according to Ma’an news agency.

Sadly, the story here becomes typical. PHRI, along with other prisoners’ rights groups, are doing all that civil society organizations can do within such an oppressive legal and political situation. Families are praying. Social media activists are sending constant updates and declaring solidarity. Meanwhile, the rest of the world is merely looking on – not due to any lack of concern for human rights, but due to the selective sympathy of Western governments and media.

Think of the uproar made by US media over the fate of blind Chinese political activist Chen Guangcheng. When he took shelter in the US embassy in Beijing, a near-diplomatic crisis ensued. Guangcheng was finally flown to the US on May 19, and he recently delivered a talk in New York before an astounded audience.

“The 40-year-old, blind activist said that his lengthy detention (of seven years) demonstrates that lawlessness is still the norm in China,” reported the New York Post on May 31. “Is there any justice? Is there any rationale in any of this?” Chen asked. Few in the US media would contend with the statement. But somehow the logic becomes entirely irrelevant when the perpetrator of injustice is Israel, and the victim is a Palestinian. Al-Rekhawi is not blind, but he has many medical ailments. He has been in Ramle prison clinic since his detention in 2004, receiving severely inadequate medical care.

Sarsak, who has been a witness to many tragedies, is now becoming one. The 25-year old had once hoped to push the ranking of his national team back to a reasonable standing. If Palestinians ever deserve to be called ‘fanatics’, it would be in reference to soccer. As a child growing up in Gaza, I remember playing soccer in few minute increments, braving Israeli military curfews, risking arrests, injury and even death. Somehow, in a very crowded refugee camp, soccer becomes tantamount to freedom.

Palestine’s ranking at 164th in the world is testament not to any lack of passion for the game, but to the constant Israeli attempts at destroying even that national aspiration.

The examples of Israeli war on Palestinian soccer are too many to count, although most of them receive little or no media coverage whatsoever. In 2004 Israel blocked several essential players from accompanying the national team out of Gaza for a second match against Chinese Taipei. (Palestine had won the first match 8-0.) The obstacles culminated in the March 2006 bombing of the Palestinian Football Stadium in Gaza, which reduced the grass field to a massive crater. Then, in the war on Gaza (Cast Lead 2008-09), things turned bloody as Israel killed three national soccer players: Ayman Alkurd, Shadi Sbakhe and Wajeh Moshtahe. It also bombed their stadium again.

Sarsak was a promising new face of Palestinian soccer. In times of Palestinian disunity and factionalism, it was the national team that kept a symbolic unity between Gaza and the West Bank – and indeed Palestinians everywhere. These young men exemplify hope that better times are ahead. But Sarsak’s star is now fading, as is his life. His mother, who hasn’t seen him since his arrests, told Ma’an that she thinks of him every minute of each day. “Why is there no one moving to save his life?” she asked.

Writing in the Nation on May 10, Dave Zirin wrote, “Imagine if a member of Team USA Basketball—let’s say Kobe Bryant—had been traveling to an international tournament only to be seized by a foreign government and held in prison for three years without trial or even hearing the charges for which he was imprisoned…Chances are all the powerful international sports organizations—the IOC, FIFA—would treat the jailing nation as a pariah until Kobe was free. And chances are that even Laker-haters would wear buttons that read, ‘Free Kobe.’”

Sarsak is the Bryant of his people. But ask any political commentator and he will tell you why Mohmoud Sarsak is not Kobe Bryant, and why Al-Rekhawi is not Chen. It is the same prevalent logic of a powerful Washington-based pro-Israel lobby and all the rest. Even if the logic was founded, why are international sports institutions not standing in complete solidarity with the dying Sarsak? Why don’t soccer matches include a moment of solidarity with killed Palestinian players, and the dying young man aching to join his teammates on the field once more? Why is Israel not fully and comprehensively boycotted by every international sports organization?

“As long as Sarsak remains indefinitely detained and as long as Israel targets sport and athletes as legitimate targets of war, they have no business being rewarded by FIFA or the UEFA, let alone even being a part of the community of international sports,” wrote Zirin.

It would be a belated step, but an unequivocally urgent one, for Palestinian sportsmen are literally dying.

(Update:  Palestinian officials and doctors said on 14 June that Sarsak had resumed drinking milk after meeting with Israeli officials.[7] On June 18, Sarsak’s lawyer said he had agreed a deal to end his hunger strike in return for being allowed to return to Gaza on July 10. In the meantime, he will receive treatment in a civilian hospital.)

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Fear is the outcome of weakness, a coward’s friend, an enemy of firmness. Fear of death is the cause of all human fears. One who wins the fear of death wins himself. He is the one who wins freedom from his mental prison. — Velupillai Prabhakaran

(for the Black Tigers of the LTTE- artwork by New Bihar Mandir)

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Arafat: poisoned with polonium?

…tests reveal that Arafat’s final personal belongings – his clothes, his toothbrush, even his iconic kaffiyeh – contained abnormal levels of polonium, a rare, highly radioactive element. Those personal effects, which were analyzed at the Institut de Radiophysique in Lausanne, Switzerland, were variously stained with Arafat’s blood, sweat, saliva and urine. The tests carried out on those samples suggested that there was a high level of polonium inside his body when he died.

“I can confirm to you that we measured an unexplained, elevated amount of unsupported polonium-210 in the belongings of Mr. Arafat that contained stains of biological fluids,” said Dr. Francois Bochud, the director of the institute.

The findings have led Suha Arafat, his widow, to ask the Palestinian Authority to exhume her late husband’s body from its grave in Ramallah. If tests show that Arafat’s bones contain high levels of polonium, it would be more conclusive proof that he was poisoned, doctors say.

“I know the Palestinian Authority has been trying to discover what Yasser died from,” Suha Arafat said in an interview. “And now we are helping them. We have very substantial, very important results.”


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Syrian president tells Ankara paper Turkish F-4 was ‘flying in air corridor used in the past by IAF’

Syrian President Bashar Assad said Tuesday that he regrets the shooting down of a Turkish fighter jet in late June, adding that he will not allow tensions with Ankara to escalate into war.

In an interview with the Turkish newspaper Cumhuriyet, Assad stressed that the downed F-4 was flying in a path allegedly used by the Israeli Air Force in the past.

“We learned that (the jet) belonged to Turkey only after shooting it down… The plane was using a corridor which Israeli planes have used three times before.

“Soldiers shot it down because we did not see it on our radar and because information was not given. Of course I might have been happy if this had been an Israeli plane,” Assad said.

Asked whether the tensions between Syria and Turkey could lead to war, Assad said: “We will not allow (the tensions) to turn into open combat between the two countries.”

He also said Syria had not amassed and would not amass military forces along the Turkish border, whatever action Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan’s government takes.


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