Friday, December 02, 2005
Well, friends it is one of those Friday where all you get is a reprint from another source. The following is from the anti-fascist magazine Searchlight
Riots plunge France into crisis
As we go to press France is in a state of emergency, the result of 18 days of urban unrest and violence that have ripped through the impoverished and dilapidated suburbs of Paris and other French cities and towns.
Stung by the ferocity of the violence that has involved immigrant youth mainly of African and North African origins, the right-wing government has adopted a package of measures – dating from 1955 and the Algerian War – introduced by Nicolas Sarkozy, the Interior Minister, that includes the imposition of a curfew for young people in 30 cities including Strasbourg, Lille, Nice, Marseille, Toulouse, Amiens, Dijon and Le Havre.
More than 300 localities have been affected by the violence which caused, amazingly, just one death but hundreds of casualties among residents, fire-fighters and police. More than 2,800 people, overwhelmingly young males, have been arrested, the youngest aged just ten. According to the BBC, 150 of those arrested were immediately deported on the orders of law and order hardliner Sarkozy. A further 860 are in custody and 178 have been jailed after emergency courts convicted them for violent offences.
The fascists of Jean-Marie Le Pen’s Front National (FN) seem to have enjoyed a short-lived revival by leading the clamour for repressive measures and claiming the riots have caused party recruitment to rocket.
The FN has blazed the trail for government policy to deal with the riots. The state of emergency and curfew that it demanded have both come to pass and the FN has been boasting that its sulphurously racist anti-immigrant policies of the past 30 years have been vindicated. Nevertheless, the rally it staged in central Paris on 14 November was a miserable flop, attracting only 600 people.
The mayhem rocking the suburbs of Paris and other French cities is the product of deep-seated resentment and frustration at long-term social deprivation, urban housing policy and racial discrimination. It has brought confrontations with the police, attacks on firefighters and paramedics and arson attacks on vehicles – almost 9,000 cars were burnt out – warehouses, shopping centres, schools, nurseries, clinics, sports centres and even a synagogue and two churches. In all cases, the violence has occurred in and been confined to rundown, neglected, more populous districts. Richer city centre areas have been totally untouched.
The origin of this violence is well established fact: the death of two boys, Banou Traore, aged 15, and Ziad Benna, 17, on 27 October, in Clichy-sous-Bois, both accidentally electrocuted while taking refuge, probably pursued by the police, in an electricity substation. The two youngsters were not “known to the police” and no offence had been committed anywhere near the location of their deaths.
A police and judicial investigation concluded a week after their deaths that no police officers were chasing the boys but many questions were left unanswered: the witness at the scene who could not remember, the young people stopped by police shortly after the tragedy without any clear explanation, and the failure to explain why Ziad and Banou climbed a wall protected by razor wire to hide in a place that was well signposted as lethal.
News of the boys’ deaths spread rapidly and the town, among the most dehumanised and poorest of the Parisian suburbs, almost instantly burst into an orgy of violent protest. Very quickly, the same type of violence – much of it copycat but also rooted in social grievance – spread to other districts of Paris and neighbouring towns, and finally erupted across the whole of France, mainly on the outskirts of the great conurbations.
Even before the situation became inflamed to its level at the time of writing, Sarkozy, leader of the conservative right in the National Assembly, had been busy multiplying his opportunistically “muscular” statements about reasserting the power of the state in the suburbs. As early as June, he was boasting of his intentions to clean up a Paris suburb with a “Kärcher” (a high-pressure hosepipe). More recently he had announced his firm intention to wash away “the rabble” and “hooligans” that supposedly infest the suburbs dominated by windswept, bleak, high-rise buildings.
Sarkozy, who has transparent ambitions to succeed Jacques Chirac as president of the French Republic, is known for his wild populism and his obsession with law and order, a gambit he is now using to capture the territory of the fascist Front National. He also chooses to be blind to the gigantic scale of the social deprivation and unemployment generated by the crisis of the stagnant French economy.
In his two terms as Interior Minister, he has distinguished himself by his enthusiasm for trampling on civil liberties in the name of the “fight against terrorism” and by beefing up the state’s fight against “illegal” immigrants. Since the end of the summer Sarkozy’s crackdown has meant raids and identity checks on an unprecedented scale in many towns – met with general indifference – and the forced expulsion of several hundred people.
It was apparent that there had been a worrying change in the attitude of the police and the nature of their mission. Increasingly focused on the maintenance of order instead of dealing with criminality, the police seem to have concentrated on a systematic encroachment of public space with many officers increasingly exerting pressure on those sections of the population considered most “at risk”: young people, the poor, foreigners and immigrants. Routine checks, arbitrary arrests and humiliations have become facts of daily life, without any single incident – until now at least – seen as sufficiently serious to cause a violent reaction.
In addition, a widespread feeling of impunity has developed among many police officers, because almost every complaint against the police force (several hundred are made each year) is turned against its author and branded an “insult” or “rebellion”. Police officers themselves are seldom penalised. This feeling of impunity is inevitably accompanied by violence, verbal or physical, and a swiftly deteriorating image for the police, 11,500 of whom have been mobilised to restore order in France’s troubled cities.
More generally, the violence of daily life, whether at work (unpredictable and insecure employment prospects, harassment by employers, mass sackings and redundancies) or at home (poverty, unhealthy and crowded housing, failure at school), with all the sense of exclusion and disorder this precipitates, goes hand in hand with a society that has become increasingly and visibly more unjust and unequal.
The districts that have erupted into rioting are all too often described as repositories of delinquency or a burden on society. Their inhabitants are seen as social “misfits” who are best forgotten, as the near total disappearance of vital social facilities – post offices, small businesses and care services – clearly shows.
As to the nature of the violence triggered by pent-up hostility and social exclusion, it is difficult to define in a word what it is – easier to say what it isn’t.
Is the violence rioting? Is it an uprising? The former, yes, the latter, a definite no. In the first couple of days in Clichy-sous-Bois, a genuine feeling of revolt was briefly discernible but any insurrectionary character quickly evaporated to give way to a kind of “inter-city rioting competition” aimed at grabbing media headlines. The extreme youth of the “rioters” and arsonists – mostly aged between 12 and 20 – confirms the impression that the “events” have turned into “a bit of a game”.
Without any concrete slogans, without any meaningful demands, without an organisation or even spokespeople, the so-called “uprisings”, even if they undoubtedly are the expression of social frustration and anger, are directed not against the state (in the Parisian suburbs, confrontations with the police, however omnipresent, have actually diminished) but increasingly against the impoverished inhabitants of these districts, the real-life neighbours, friends and members of the same communities as the arsonists themselves.
The nightly violence in France is not the first step in a civil war, even less in an inter-ethnic one, as the extreme right and badly informed foreign media are hysterically suggesting. This notion might comfort fools who believe in the “clash of civilisations” but it has zero to do with the actuality and tensions of life in the most poverty-stricken suburbs of France.
What is common to most of the people implicated in the violence – as perpetrators and as victims – is that they live in the worst districts and where the concentration of people is most dense. If most of the young people involved are Arab or black, it is because of the fact that racism is a social reality and because social misery hits the immigrant population – 17.4% of which is jobless – hardest, undermining the “one France” republican model of integration.
The growth of anti-terrorist panic and suspicion towards Muslims has also fuelled racism and given the various elements of the right-wing orchestra – Sarkozy, Philippe De Villiers and Jean-Marie Le Pen – new tunes to play at an ever louder volume.
Contrary to popular belief, the populations of the towns are not grouped according to religious or ethnic communities. On the contrary, the various nationalities live jumbled up, with all the exchanges and tensions that that can involve and ghettoisation is generally according to class not race.
Thus, the imams of mosques are invited by Sarkozy and the media to serve as interlocutors, not because they are a genuine voice of the suburbs but because all the other associative and community structures in these districts have disappeared, written off by the state as “uneconomic” and because the state is relying on these religious so-called “authorities” to assert social control.
As part of its strategy, de Villepin’s government has used the situation to increase the pressure on the victims of social exclusion by pushing through a law to prolong the state of emergency, including the curfews, for three months even though the fires are now petering out. This is being done to deter in advance any social movement of opposition to the government’s onslaught against civil liberties and basic democratic rights. All Chirac’s talk about combating the “poison of discrimination” is flannel.
When Sarkozy refers to “organised groups”, ridiculously implying that an invisible hand is pulling the strings behind the riots, he is only feeding the fears of those who want simple answers to very complex problems. It is misguided to believe that the young people who ran amok on the streets have been “manipulated” by anyone or that their behaviour, which is simultaneously autonomous, connected, justified and blind, is anything other than the disordered expression of a revolt that has not found the words to make sense of itself.
© Searchlight Magazine 2005
Thursday, December 01, 2005
I remember the very first World AIDS Day. I participated in a demonstration organized by the local chapter of ACT-UP outside a World AIDS Day breakfast where members of various organizations congratulated themselves for their “work” on AIDS. Those of us who protested thought a big breakfast was a strange way to commemorate a disease that was killing millions. I still don’t understand the thinking of such events.
This year’s World AIDS Day theme is 'Keep the Promise', but Africa Action notes that the U.S. and other rich country government continue to break their promises to provide greater funding and support for African efforts to combat HIV/AIDS:
* In 2003, President Bush promised $15 billion over 5 years to help turn the tide of HIV/AIDS in Africa and the Caribbean. Despite the urgent need for such support, much less than half of this money has been appropriated so far, and this funding is not intended for Africa and the Caribbean specifically - it is for all HIV/AIDS programs globally.
* The Global Fund is a critically important vehicle in the fight against HIV/AIDS in more than 125 countries, but despite earlier promises to support this initiative the world’s rich countries continue to fall short in their funding. At the September 2005 donor conference, donor pledges amounted to only $3.7 billion, which is insufficient to fund a new round of grants to support life-saving prevention and treatment programs in Africa and elsewhere.
* Just this week, the World Health Organization apologized for failing to meet the international goal of providing treatment to three million people by the end of 2005. This important "3 by 5" promise was not kept because of the unwillingness of the international community to provide the financial and logistical support required, and because of the continuing high cost of AIDS medicines.
* African governments have promised to spend 15% of their national budgets on health as a part of their commitment to combating HIV/AIDS on the continent. But many governments have been unable to keep this promise because of the huge burden of illegitimate external debt and the massive outflow of resources in the form of debt service payments to rich country creditors each year.
Africa Action today highlighted the ongoing role of the pharmaceutical industry in limiting access to essential HIV/AIDS treatment. This evening, Africa Action will host a screening of the film 'Pills, Profits, Protest' in Washington, DC to focus on HIV/AIDS treatment activism around the world and to engage a discussion on the human toll of the pharmaceutical industry’s greed.
Tonight’s screening of the film 'Pills, Profits, Protest' will take place from 5:30pm to 7:30pm at TransAfrica Forum, 1426 21st Street, NW, in Washington, DC. The screening will be followed by a discussion about the current state of treatment access in Africa and the role of pharmaceutical companies in limiting access to essential HIV/AIDS medicines.
Africa Action’s Executive Director Salih Booker said, "In Africa, where more than 25 million people are living with HIV/AIDS, access to anti-retroviral treatment is a matter of life and death. But the prices charged by pharmaceutical companies, and the policies pursued by rich countries at their behest, continue to keep life-saving treatment out of reach for those most affected by HIV/AIDS."
Booker added, "The Bush Administration insists on protecting the profits of the pharmaceutical industry by using only expensive, patented drugs in its HIV/AIDS treatment programs instead of lower-cost generic versions that could provide treatment to three times as many people."
Ann-Louise Colgan, Director of Policy Analysis & Communications at Africa Action notes, "The latest UNAIDS report emphasizes that only one in ten Africans in need of anti-retroviral treatment are now receiving it. Unless there is a change in the drug companies’ behavior, and in the policies of the U.S. and other countries that support their interests, the promise of universal access to HIV treatment by 2010 has little hope of being realized."
Marie Clarke Brill, Director of Public Education & Mobilization at Africa Action said, "The right to health is a basic human right, and for people living with HIV or AIDS, access to treatment is a critical component of this right. When effective treatment options exist, it is unconscionable that these be kept out of reach for millions of people living with HIV/AIDS in Africa."
The American Friends Service’s Committee’s Life Over Debt Campaign also commemorates World AIDS Day with something other than an awards banquet. It is instead placing an emphasis on holding governments and the international community accountable to honoring their commitments to stop AIDS.
AFSC points out that 25.8 million Continental Africans are infected with HIV/AIDS; making up over half of the worlds 40.3 million people with the disease. Given that reality the AFSC says it is untenable for the IMF and World Bank to force indebted and impoverished African nations to complete a program of controversial, rigid and often damaging economic reforms in order to be eligible for debt cancellation.
AFSC says, “This process deems only 14 Africa countries eligible for cancellation, leaves 33 African countries in critical need of debt cancellation and exasperates the African healthcare crisis in all of sub-Saharan Africa. As a result, Africans continue to pay billions of dollars annually to service predominately illegitimate debts, at their own expense.”
AFSC says canceling the debt for the entire continent is a major part of the solution to the HIV/AIDS pandemic.
Finally, AIDSmap reports on this World AIDS Day, the European Union has issued a strongly worded attack on US approaches to HIV prevention in developing countries. In particular it targets US reluctance to supply condoms to young people who, American policy makers believe, should be encouraged to abstain from sex before marriage.
“HIV prevention requires that governments and communities have the courage to confront difficult issues in an open and informed way. We understand that in many settings there is a cultural resistance to openly discussing sex, sexuality and drug use. We are profoundly concerned about the resurgence of partial or incomplete messages on HIV prevention which are not grounded in evidence and have limited effectiveness.”
“We, the European Union, firmly believe that, to be successful, HIV prevention must utilize all approaches known to be effective, not implementing one or a few selective actions in isolation.”
The statement emphasizes the need for universal access to sexual and reproductive health information and services for women, men and young people, including people living with HIV and AIDS. It stresses that people should have access to a full range of reproductive choices, in line with policy agreed at the Cairo UN Population summit in 1994, which affirmed that abortion was a national policy issue. The US Congress has insisted that no money from its PEPFAR treatment program can be used to fund programs that offer abortion or counseling on abortion, effectively preventing the use of US funds to integrate HIV prevention activities into reproductive health services.
The US has also insisted that two-thirds of the money earmarked for prevention in the PEPFAR program should be spent on programs that promote abstinence from sexual activity.
Although the statement has been widely and justifiably interpreted as an attack on US prevention policy, the EU is also implicitly critical of countries like Russia, where interventions targeting injecting drug users are still impaired by politically motivated restrictions on provision of clean injecting equipment and substitution therapy. Sources: AIDSmap, American Friends Service Committee, Africa Action
In a country where more than 38% of the population is infected with HIV, Swaziland, Africa’s last absolute monarch cancelled AIDS Day events. Prime Minister Themba Dlamini had been expected to give a speech about the crisis at an event marked by traditional dancing and drama in the rural Mtfongwani area, about 55km east of the capital, Mbabane. But at the last minute in a royal decree, Swaziland's King Mswati cancelled the AIDS Day events, saying they would interfere with a month-long traditional ceremony.
"The Ministry of Health and Social Welfare informs all stakeholders, United Nations Agencies, partners and the general public that the National Commemoration for HIV/AIDS ... has been postponed," Health Minister Sipho Shongwe said in a statement released late on Wednesday. The government did not give a new date for the AIDS event, but said it was confident Swazis would understand the decision.
As king of one of Africa's poorest nations, Mswati has been criticized for his lavish lifestyle and multiple wives. The 37-year-old king this year selected his 13th wife, and is about to become a father for the 25th time.
Activists in Swaziland who were outraged by the King’s action also expressed alarm at critical shortages of life-prolonging anti-retroviral medicines after the United Nations-backed Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria withdrew funding for the government's treatment program. "Counseling and testing centers have run out of ARVs, thus placing HIV-positive people in a precarious position," said Hannie Dlamini, who is HIV positive.
Derek Von Wissel, head of Swaziland's National Emergency Response Council on HIV/Aids, said funding was cut recently because the country lacked proper drug and patient management systems.
Meanwhile in the Indian state of Orissa, HIV/AIDS patients and their kin face ostracism in the State, said Kendrapda Additional District Medical Chief Dhaneswar Pradhan. “Even if we try to create awareness, the fear of the disease is such that villagers are afraid to touch AIDS patients or their relatives for fear of getting infected,” he is quoted as saying in Newindpress.
Social ostracism of AIDS patients and their kin is common throughout the State, he said. He cited the example of Gita Sethi, a 28-year-old resident of Salampur village in Kendrapada district, who was not allowed to draw water from the village well because her husband died of AIDS. It was the same with Sandhya Mallick, the 25-year-old widow of Bichitra Mallick who died of AIDS in Manikapur village in Kendrapada three months back.
In Yemen, it is no different. Ali (not his real name) is living with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. He told IRIN that, from the day he was diagnosed, he has been an outcast, a pariah with whom few want to associate. "Society in Yemen looks at the AIDS patient as a criminal," he said.
When he first discovered he was infected, Ali said he went to the police to inform them of his condition and prevent "others from becoming like me." He says, "Instead of helping me, though, the officer just screamed, 'stay away from me!' He ordered his men to handcuff me. They called the Minister of Interior, Minister of Health, chairman of the intelligence agency – it was like a state of emergency.”
"Inadequate knowledge and awareness about HIV/AIDS prevention, compounded by widespread stigmatization of the disease, are among the major factors responsible for risky behavior and the underreporting of cases in Yemen," the UN World health Organization stated in June 2005.
Medical experts say Yemeni law discriminates against those living with HIV/AIDS. For example, non-Yemenis must undergo HIV tests before obtaining approval to stay in the country. If he or she tests positive, they are immediately deported.
The Yemeni government is also trying to deport refugees who are HIV positive.
And using condoms – or even speaking about them – still stirs up cultural sensitivities in this conservative Muslim nation.
According to Abdul Majeed al-Qubati, AIDS program officer for the United Natins Development Program (UNDP) in the capital, Sana, HIV/AIDS issues must be incorporated into government policy and legislation – and it is being done, he says.
"We plan to send some parliamentarians abroad for training on how to integrate AIDS issues into the law, or at least make the available laws compatible with international legislation on the issue," al-Qubati said.
He went on to note that a group of 15 Imams, or religious leaders, had received HIV/AIDS training in September, and would themselves train 400 other Imams on how to spread awareness of the disease through the country's mosques. Sources: Malaysia Star, CBC, Mail and Guardian (South Africa), Newindpress, IRIN
Crony in the bird flu seat
Bill Berkowitz - WorkingForChange
12.01.05 - In a high-profile speech at the National Institutes of Health, surrounded by a number of cabinet officials, including Secretary of State Condi Rice, and the Secretaries of Homeland Security, Agriculture, Health & Human Services, Transportation and Veteran Affairs, President Bush warned that H5N1 (commonly known as "Avian Bird Flu") could, in time, reach our shores. "A pandemic is a lot like a fire -- a forest fire," Bush said. "If caught early, it might be extinguished with limited damage. If allowed to smolder undetected, it can grow to an inferno that spreads quickly beyond our ability to control it."
He later asked Congress for $7.1 billion to prepare for a flu epidemic "that health experts believe," San Francisco Chronicle columnist David Lazarus noted, "would likely kill millions."
Skeptics might argue that the President's warning sounds suspiciously like those post 9/11 anthrax scares, and are aimed at taking the public's attention away from the many failures bedeviling his administration. Others may argue that whether the threat is real or not, it is guaranteed to be a boon for the already profit-stuffed pharmaceutical industry. Some may take the president's forewarning of potential disaster at face value.
Whatever your take, a pandemic of the kind currently discussed by public health officials could overwhelm an unprepared health care system, cost billions of dollars and cause an untold number of deaths.
Having performed so wretchedly during the run-up to, and aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, one might expect that Team Bush would seek out someone fully versed in public health matters to head up the team charged with responding to as huge a potential public health threat as Avian Bird Flu.
Who is in charge of handling significant health care and threats of bioterrorism?
As Assistant Secretary for Public Health and Emergency Preparedness, Department of Health and Human Services Simonson turned up as number seven on The New Republic's recently published list of 15 Team Bush hacks -- those with "waifish resumes padded like the Michelin man, whose political connections have won them important national responsibilities."
Simonson's name also found its way onto Fact Sheet prepared by Rep. Henry Waxman's entitled "Cronyism in the Bush Administration," that the Democrat from California issued in late September.
Before coming to HHS in 2001, Simonson was a top official at long suffering Amtrak. Prior to his service at Amtrak, Simonson advised then-Wisconsin Governor Tommy Thompson, on crime and prison policy issues. In 2001, when Thompson became Bush's first HHS secretary, he brought Simonson on board as a legal adviser. He was promoted to his current post shortly before leaving the Thomspson left the Department last year.
Simonson replaced Jerome Hauer, whose resume -- provided by Hollis-Eden Pharmaceuticals, for whom he serves as a member of its Board of Directors -- states that he "is recognized as one of the nation's leading experts on bioterrorism and emergency preparedness."
Simonson's official biography points out that he is "the Health and Human Services Department's point man 'on matters related to bioterrorism and other public health emergencies.'"
It also boasts that he "'supervised policy development for Project BioShield,' a program designed to speed the manufacture of crucial vaccines and antidotes." According to a recent report in The Washington Post, the program "has by most accounts bogged down and shown few results."
Is the man that Beth Quinn, a columnist with the Middletown, NY-based Times Herald-Record, recently dubbed "the Michael Brown [the former head of the Federal Emergency Manangemnt Agency] of the killer flu," the right person to guide the country through a massive health crisis?
SourceWatch, a project of the Center for Media & Democracy noted out that in April 2004, HHS' Thompson said that Simonson had "focused on public health preparedness issues" and was "a key member of the HHS team" since before 9/11 and the anthrax attacks. Simonson's "understanding of the HHS role in homeland security and familiarity with the challenges we face make him an ideal choice to lead our Public Health Emergency Preparedness Office at this important time," Thompson said.
That account differed from Jerome Hauer'sa assesment. In a December 2004 article in the Washington Drug Letter, Hauer was harshly critical of Simonson.
In mid-December of last year, while taking part in a Washington, D.C. panel on biodefense in Washington, Hauer said that the "$877 million contract awarded to VaxGen to produce a new anthrax vaccine was insufficient." He seemed to indicate that "poor policymaking" is leaving "the country vulnerable to terrorist attacks using weapons of mass destruction."
Hauer added that the current management at the ASPHEP Office, including acting secretary Stewart Simonson, was not prepared to handle its duties. And he called for a new federal office to coordinate U.S. biodefense activities. "The decisions being made do not appear to have a sound basis," Hauer said.
Senate Republicans have also expressed coincern about Simonson's ability to do the job. Noting that the flu can be lethal to some populations such as the elderly, Sen. Larry Craig (R-Idaho), said the country appeared to be was unprepared to deal with a possible flu pandemic. Simonson responded by saying that "it would pose an enormous challenge."
The Lonewacko Blog acerbically pointed out that Simonson is "obviously qualified if we have an outbreak of litigation." And Douglas Drenkow, a researcher, writer, and political commentator, summed up the situation in a recent column posted at OpEdNews.com: "The person in charge of our country's public health -- in the event of any sort of bio-emergency is a lawyer, not a doctor or anyone else with an iota of formal training in the field."
(c) 2005 Working Assets Online. All rights reserved
Wednesday, November 30, 2005
AFP is reporting a French sergeant-major was placed under judicial investigation for murder on Wednesday over the death of an Ivorian man in French military custody in Ivory Coast in May. A source close to the inquiry said the non-commissioned officer had admitted under questioning his responsibility in the act.
Firmin Mahe, described by the French army as a dangerous bandit, was killed by suffocation by French soldiers in an armored vehicle on May 13 after being shot in the leg, then captured and taken for treatment by French soldiers. He died in a jeep on the way to hospital.
Three French soldiers were arrested on Monday as part of the same investigation. The soldiers were expected to appear before an investigating magistrate, who will determine whether to place them under formal investigation for suspected murder - one step short of formal charges.
All of the men, who were part of the French peacekeeping mission in the Ivory Coast, are being held in France.
General Henri Poncet, who was in command of the 4 000-strong French peacekeeping mission in Ivory Coast until June, was relieved of his functions due to a suspected cover-up of the killing. General Henri Bentegeat told journalists that the sanctions pronounced by Defense Minister Michele Alliot-Marie against General Henri Poncet and his second-in-command General Renaud de Malaussene were "very heavy." He said it was the first time for at least 15 years that a French general had received such a punishment.
Earlier this month, the Defense Ministry said that commanders knew of the killing but did not report it to their superiors. "The commander of Operation Unicorn (General Henri Poncet) was informed of the facts but did not inform his hierarchy," a French Defense Ministry report found.
The head of France's armed forces, Gen. Henri Bentegeat, called the events "unacceptable at every level." Gen. Bentegeat, said the punishment of General Henri Poncet, the former commander of French peacekeepers in the west African country, and his deputy, Renaud de Malaussène, was the highest non-statutory sanction the ministry could have taken.
According to Le Monde, the internal report for the Defense Ministry by Admiral Patrick Hebrard contained evidence that General Poncet was aware of the killing within 24 hours. Yet when General Bentegeat visited Ivory Coast four days after the killing it was not mentioned. In July this year, General Poncet was decorated with the French Cross of Valour by President Chirac.
The killing of Mahé, described as a member of a gang that set up roadblocks to extort money from passing vehicles, came at a time of extreme tension between French peacekeepers and the Ivorian government of Laurent Gbagbo. France's 4,000-strong Licorne peacekeeping force has been stationed in the former colony since civil war started in September 2003.
President Gbagbo, who is clinging to power after ignoring a United Nations power-sharing deadline, has long argued that France favors northern-based rebels who want to remove him from power. Mahé was killed a few days after mercenaries hired by the government attacked French positions. In the same period, French troops opened fire on civilians demonstrating against their presence outside a hotel in the commercial capital, Abidjan.
While observers have welcomed the openness by the French defense ministry over the Mahé killing, they claim it disguises other abuses by French troops that have gone unpunished. Sources: OCNUS.NET, MISNA, News 24 (South Africa), AFP, Pravda
Below you will find comments written by Oread Daily Blog readers during the month of November. The title of the article drawing the comment appears above the comment(s). I have made no grammatical or spelling corrections.
"ANTI-FASCISTS AND FASCISTS IN RUSSIA"
I'm a foreigner living in Russia. Faschism has been on the rise in Russia in a scary way. All foreigners can sense that government is not moving to fight them. This country is going into a really bad way unless people WAKE UP and stop thinking that skinheads kill only foreigners! They are enemies of humanity and an enemy of humanity can't be stopped if he was given freedom!
"DISAPPEARANCES FINALLY GETTING SOME ATTENTION"
i stumbled across your site on the net.
And after posting comments on the ADN news site, Just yesterday I got a phone call from the ADN paper. They were verifying who I was and said that my posted comments to their site would be passed onto the Editor.
So at least people are listening if someone like me can post an opinion and be recognized for it.
Racism against natives does exist.
Sadly such racism is also practiced by Natives too. Whites are racist to Natives, Whites are racist to whites. Natives are racist to Natives and whites and so on.
The sad thing about such LAW ENFORCEMENT problems is that many AK State Trooper Leaders and the various Leaders of the Native Non-profit organizations;including the local Native village leaders around the State-Can also be discriminating about who works for them.
I was a VPSO in a Native village. After the village realized that I was Proactive, took initiative regarding my work and that I had opinions-they all stopped supporting me and no one helped me.
So. There are other smaller yet equally crucial events and matters behind the scenes of every Arrest, Murder, Assault of a Native Alaskan.
great site by the way.
"JEWISH LEADER BLASTS RELIGIOUS RIGHT"
republicans want to kill all gays and the jews too
I am so glad that the religious right has been called on the carpet for their blatantly bigoted and intolerant rantings. Other religious and political groups need to keep up the pressure on the Christian right. Their social "beliefs" break down under scrutiny. And their religious arrogance will wither as they are challenged that the "one true way" to God is through their narrowly and flawed interpretation of the bible. Their concerted effort to force a bible-based vesion of the origin of man into the school curriculum is nothing short of terrifying. As a teacher in a liberal state (Ma.) I don't have to worry about "Intelligent Design" but I would resign if I ever was put in a position that I had to teach religion in my classroom. These right wingers need to be sent to the back woods where they came from. And as a last thought, the TV preachers should have their finances meticulously examined. They are living large off the tithings of poor, lonely ,elderly people who believe all their blather. Keep up the good work Jewish leaders!
"POWER OF IDEAS"
america should strive to be more like cuba
"GREENPEACE ACTIVIST SEVERELY BEATEN IN POWER PLANT PROTEST"
Please check your statements against the FACTS stated here by ABSCBN News. You will discover there, that the so-called peaceful activists admitted to police later they had no permit to enter the premises, yet they came with ladders, motorized launches and even lawyers! Such premeditation to commit illegal criminal trespass comes with severe sentences in fairly unEuropean surroundings. Which I hope these people, once properly tried and convicted, get a taste of Filipino hospitality in. Had they succeeded in playing out their fantasies of "defending" the environment, they could have damaged a facility that services poor farmers and rural folk, who can't afford ladders in order to sneak in a power plant to protest the changing weather. They would never justify any end, no matter how grand or noble, with such hypocritical and dastardly means.
"MARCHING FOR DARFUR"
David Bredhoff said...
Dear Morristown bloggers concerned with the atrocities in Sudan,
My name is David Bredhoff and I am the lead organizer of the Sudan Freedom Walk, which is a march from New York to Washington DC led by refugees from Sudan including 2 former slaves, Simon Deng and Fancis Bok.
I you would like to participate in the walk, please check out www.sudanfreedomwalk.org for more details. Also if you would like to contribute, we could use help in finding food, water and housing for the walkers on their journey. Please feel free to email me at email@example.com if you have anything to contribute. Thank you for your support of this issue that is so dear to our hearts.
All the best,
"MURDER GANG STANDS DOWN IN NORTHERN IRELAND"
Great piece of writing. I remember the LVF murders of Nationalist before the so-called cease-fire. Personally I believe the LVF stood down because the UVF threatened to slaughter them all. They had talks with the UVF prior to their announcement.
The snow is just beginning to fall in Alaska, which is bad news for wolves.
The Alaska Board of Game has already begun issuing aerial gunning permits for the third wolf killing season in a row. Wolves are now being shot from airplanes in some parts of the state and additional expansive areas will be opened up soon. Over 400 wolves have been slaughtered in the last two years, and hundreds more could die this year from the brutal practice of aerial gunning.
Defenders of Wildlife is using every means possible to ban aerial gunning. It has petitioned Interior Secretary Gale Norton to halt the practice as a violation of the Federal Airborne Hunting Act. Defenders has launched a multi-faceted campaign to shine the media spotlight and generate national outrage against the aerial wolf killing.
We've already raised close to $30,000 so far to save Alaska's wolves through our holiday gift wolf adoption campaign. If you haven't yet adopted a wolf this year for someone you love, please do so today -- your gift wolf adoption will fund effective, on-the-ground conservation measures for Alaska's wolves. Reader's Digest named Defenders of Wildlife "America's Best Wildlife Charity."
When you adopt a wolf as a gift for family or friends, Defenders will send that special someone on your holiday gift list a plush wolf and a certificate of adoption. Your tax deductible adoption will provide resources for our wolf efforts and you'll enjoy the satisfaction of knowing you're making a difference.
Our goal is to raise $100,000 by the end of December to fund this critical campaign. We're one third of the way there -- adopt a wolf as a holiday gift today, and help us keep Alaska's wolves out of the cross-hairs!
The holidays will soon be here, so please consider adopting a wolf today. Make your adoption gift by December 7 and Defenders will give you a 10 percent discount (use code ACF10 when placing your adoption order).
For information or to participate in the Adopt A Wolf Campaign, go to
Tuesday, November 29, 2005
President Bush got off to a rocky start in the rocky mountain state today as hundreds of protesters blew whistles, pounded on pots and pans and chanted “Impeach Bush” before the president arrived today for a fund-raiser. Protesters briefly blocked the path of two press buses that were trailing the Presidential motorcade, before police cleared them out of the way.
Streets around the Brown Palace Hotel in downtown Denver, where Bush was to speak, were blocked off with Regional Transportation District buses and concrete barriers.
"We'll just get as close as we possibly can, and make as much noise as we can. We want to show George Bush that he is not welcome in the state of Colorado. We oppose his policy. We oppose his administration. We want to end this war and bring the troops home now," protester Claire Rider told Watch 7 News.
President Bush was in Denver to help raise campaign contributions for right wing "Christian" fanantic Rep. Marilyn Musgrave, a second-term congresswoman.
Musgrave became a lightning rod for criticism by promoting a constitutional ban on gay marriage. She called the ban the biggest political issue facing Christians today during an interview with Pentecostal Evangel.
During that interview with Pentecostal Evangel Rep. Musgrave stated, "The problems in our culture are just symptoms of spiritual problems in our nation. We must return to God and biblical principles for answers."
Rep. Musgrave is listed as one of the thirteen most corrupt members of congress by the group Beyond Delay. Rep. Musgrave's ethical improprieties involve the misuse of official resources for political campaign activity and from abuse of franking privileges.
Eve Ventrella, 31, said Bush's backing for Musgrave and her support for a gay marriage ban were the big reasons she attended the protest. “Among other things, that's the biggest, to constitutionally amend something to take away people's civil rights,” Ventrella said.
Jeb Bennett, 51, carried a sign saying "Musgrave is Bush-league." He said gay marriage and other issues are being used to distract voters from more important matters.
Carla Lanza, 59, said the Bush administration has never proved its contention, voiced before the U.S. invaded Iraq, that Saddam Hussein had ties to al-Qaida and the Sept. 11 attacks. "It's a culture of deceit, corruption and cronyism, all under the guise of patriotism and Christianity," she said between blasts on a whistle. "Where is the morality in permitting all these deaths of young people?"
At least one group wants Republicans to reimburse taxpayers for the money the Bush fundraising trip is costing them.
"We call on Marilyn Musgrave, who does not represent any Denver taxpayers, to reimburse them for the tens of thousands of dollars spent to host her fundraiser," said Michael Huttner, of Progress Now Action.
He said that in June 2004, when Bush was in Denver for a political fundraiser, the city paid $57,500 for the president's visit to raise money for Republican candidates. This included spending taxpayer money for items that the Denver will incur Tuesday such as additional police officers, police barricades, helicopter patrol and other support efforts. Sources: Rocky Mountain Post, Watch 7NEWS, Denver Post, Beyond Delay, Pentecostal Evangel
The tactic of kidnapping and holding hostage innocents for some “political” goal is pretty abhorrent in general. It is particularly disgusting when the people grabbed are only trying to help resolve a bad situation.
Such is the case in Iraq - again.
International violence-reduction organization Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) confirmed today that the four human rights workers kidnapped in Baghdad on 26 November are associated with their organization.
Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) is an initiative among Mennonite and Brethren congregations, and Friends meetings who support violence reduction Teams around the world. Their mission as described on their web page is:
"Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) offers an organized, nonviolent alternative to war and other forms of lethal inter-group conflict. CPT provides organizational support to persons committed to faith-based nonviolent alternatives in situations where lethal conflict is an immediate reality or is supported by public policy. CPT seeks to enlist the response of the whole church in conscientious objection to war, and in the development of nonviolent institutions, skills and training for intervention in conflict situations. CPT projects connect intimately with the spiritual lives of constituent congregations. Gifts of prayer, money and time from these churches undergird CPT’s peacemaking ministries."
CPT initiated a long-term presence in Iraq in October 2002, six months before the beginning of the U.S. led invasion in March of 2003. The primary focus of the team for eighteen months following the invasion was documenting and focusing attention on the issue of detainee abuses and basic legal and human rights being denied them. Issues related to detainees remain but the current focus of the team has expanded to include efforts to end occupation and militarization of the country and to foster nonviolent and just alternatives for a free and independent Iraq.
In a "Statement of Conviction," the long-term Team members stated that they "are aware of the many risks both Iraqis and internationals currently face," and affirmed that the risks did not outweigh their purpose in remaining. They express the hope that "in loving both friends and enemies and by intervening non-violently to aid those who are systematically oppressed, we can contribute in some small way to transforming this volatile situation."
The group does not advocate the use of violence to save any members who have been placed in the situation the four hostages now face.
The Swords of Righteousness Brigade claimed credit for the kidnapping and stated the four were spies working undercover as Christian peace activists, Aljazeera television news reported. The accusation seems absurd.
Only one member of the team has so far been publicly identified. He is long-time British peace activist Norman Kember.
Kember, a retired professor from Pinner, north London, was abducted with two Canadians and an American in Baghdad on Saturday. Kember, a grandfather in his 70s, had traveled to Iraq last week on a peace mission.
A former secretary of the Baptist Peace Fellowship and a trustee of the Christian peace organization the Fellowship for Reconciliation, he had recently decided that instead of activism in Britain he should promote peace directly in Iraq.
A statement issued by Kember's family said:
"Norman feels very strongly that the occupation in Iraq is a mistake."
"He has been a pacifist all his life, working in hospitals rather than doing national service at the age of 18. He was in Iraq for a short time to join a peace group that is talking and listening to people of all persuasions, believing that dialogue, not confrontation, should help bring about conciliation."
Chris Cole, director of the Fellowship of Reconciliation, told the Guardian Kember had consistently opposed war and violence. "He has worked for peace and to educate in particular young people about non-violence and the power of non-violence."
These four are not the only ones to be kidnapped in the past few days.
Susanne Osthoff, 43, an archaeologist who has spent many years in Iraq and is a convert to Islam, was abducted with her Iraqi driver last Friday.
Osthoff's kidnappers have threatened to kill her and her driver unless Berlin stopped cooperating with the US-backed Iraqi government. Extracts from the tape displayed on the ARD website showed two people sitting on the ground with their eyes covered by white material surrounded by three masked, armed figures, one of whom appeared to be reading from a piece of paper.
Spiegel reports Osthoff, who speaks fluent Arabic, has worked for the "Direkthilfe Irak" charity for a number of years, transporting drugs and medical equipment to Iraq. She won an award for bravery from Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper for being the first civilian to transport medical supplies to Baghdad from Jordan at the height of the war in 2003.
She had recently been planning to set up a German cultural center in Arbil, a town in northern Iraq, and had already held talks with the German embassy in Baghdad and the Kurdish regional government. She is reportedly married to an Arab man and has an 11-year-old daughter who is at boarding school in Germany.
Osthoff's mother Ingrid said she had been obsessed with alleviating the suffering of people in Iraq. "She loves the people, the culture, the country, she's fanatical about it," her mother told Germany's n24 television. "If you see how badly off the people are there you almost get a guilty conscience that you're doing so well. She had to help."
Michael Osang, a Munich-based doctor with whom she had worked, said Osthoff continued to transport medical supplies after the war, even resorting to taking Bedouin routes across the desert to bring in drugs from Syria.
More than 200 foreigners and thousands of Iraqis have been kidnapped since the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.
Fifty-two foreign hostages are known to have been executed by their captors -- 41 in 2004 and 11 in 2005.
Following is a list of foreigners believed to be held hostage in Iraq (HOSTAGE NATIONALITY DATE OF CAPTURE):
Mohammed Rifat Canada April 8, 2004 Wael Mamduh Jordan April 12 Saad Saadoun Kuwait June 5 Ali Ahmed Mousa Somalia July 29 Unidentified hostage Jordan Sept 1* Four unidentified hostages Jordan Sept 5* Two unidentified hostages East Asian Sept 13* Khalifa al-Breizat Jordan Sept 14* Two unidentified hostages Turkey Sept 14 One unidentified hostage Syria Sept 16 Unidentified hostage Turkey Oct 9 Two unidentified hostages Turkey Oct 14 Unidentified Somalia Oct 30 Noureddin Zakaria Sudan Oct 30 Roy Hallums U.S. Nov 1 Radim Sadiq U.S. Nov 2 Ghazi Abu Hamzeh Lebanon Nov 13* Two unnamed Turkey Dec 25 Two unidentified South Korea Jan 9, 2005* Unidentified Turkey Jan 13 Sayed Abdel Khalek Egypt Jan 13* Joao Jose Vasconcelos Jr. Brazil Jan 19 Mohammed Haroun Hamad Sudan March 9* Maher Ataya Sudan March 9* Nabil Tawfiq Sulaiman Egypt March 19 Mitwali Mohammed Qassem Egypt March 19 Jeffrey Ake U.S. April 11 Six unidentified Jordan May 6 Ali Abdullah Turkey June 7 Unidentified Turkey June 21* Samuel Edward Egypt Sept 26 Abderrahim Boualam Morocco Oct 20 Abdelkrim El Mouhafidim Morocco Oct 20 Unidentified Canada Nov 26 Unidentified Canada Nov 26 Norman Kember Britain Nov 26 Unidentified U.S. Nov 26 Unidentified German Nov 25 1 Radim Sadiq U.S. Nov 2 Ghazi Abu Hamzeh Lebanon Nov 13* Two unnamed Turkey Dec 25 Two unidentified South Korea Jan 9, 2005* Unidentified Turkey Jan 13 Sayed Abdel Khalek Egypt Jan 13* Joao Jose Vasconcelos Jr. Brazil Jan 19 Mohammed Haroun Hamad Sudan March 9* Maher Ataya Sudan March 9* Nabil Tawfiq Sulaiman Egypt March 19 Mitwali Mohammed Qassem Egypt March 19 Jeffrey Ake U.S. April 11 Six unidentified Jordan May 6 Ali Abdullah Turkey June 7 Unidentified Turkey June 21* Samuel Edward Egypt Sept 26 Abderrahim Boualam Morocco Oct 20 Abdelkrim El Mouhafidim Morocco Oct 20 Unidentified Canada Nov 26 Unidentified Canada Nov 26 Norman Kember Britain Nov 26 Unidentified U.S. Nov 26 Unidentified German Nov 25ouhafidim Morocco Oct 20 Unidentified Canada Nov 26 Unidentified Canada Nov 26 Norman Kember Britain Nov 26 Unidentified U.S. Nov 26 Unidentified German Nov 25 Sources: Spiegel (Germany), Reuters Alert Net, Christian Peacemaker Teams, Globe and Mail (Canada), Guardian, Aljazeera, ARD (Germany)
Monday, November 28, 2005
Since 1995 reports the Desert Sun, local governments, developers and conservationists have worked together to create the Coachella Valley Multiple Species Habitat Conservation Plan, which sets forth a vision of development and conservation for the Coachella Valley's next 75 years. Millions of dollars have been invested in this plan. Much compromise has been made through this process. The plan is not perfect, but it is an attempt to balance development and the desert's sensitive natural assets.
I’m sure you’ll be thrilled to know that now if developers get their way, a new city of 45,000 people - urban sprawl with 15,000 houses, resorts and golf courses - would pave more than 7,200 acres of California open space in easter Riverside County's Shavers Valley, a natural scenic area in the Sonoran Desert 15 miles east of Indio.
This unsustainable development would sprawl between Joshua Tree National Park and the Mecca Hills Wilderness, well outside of the Coachella Valley's current urban boundaries.
The Los Angeles based investment group known as Glorious Land Company (GLC) has proposed a new city which would sink the Coachella Valley Multiple Species Habitat Conservation Plan’s goals.
Golf California.com gushes the massive plan calls for an 800-acre golf resort with "several" golf courses and a golf academy. It could also include 10,000 housing units, shopping center, restaurants, business center, parks, community center and a concert hall. Golf tourists could stay at an 89-acre international resort with timeshare units and hotels.
It would quite simply destroy Shavers Valley.
The investors behind what they call Paradise Valley have been quietly working on the project for more than 5 years, records show.
They bought property for Paradise Valley in 2000, paying an average of $398 per acre for 85 parcels under the corporate name Joshua Tree Village. Since then, the company’s operatives have been quietly laying the groundwork to get environmental and land-use permits.
Riverside County’s General Plan would generally prohibit consideration of a large rural development project until the next scheduled update of the land-use planning document in 2008, said Deputy Planning Director Jerry Jolliffe.
But Jolliffe said that during public hearings late last year, Glorious Land persuaded county supervisors to include language in the plan that specifically excludes Paradise Valley from the rule.
The project is headed by architect Eddie S. Wang. "The market is there," Wang said in an interview with the Desert Sun. "I do believe that if we do it right, it will be a good example."
Of what, for God's sake?
The new community’s northern border would be within walking distance of Joshua Tree National Park, in federally protected habitat for the threatened desert tortoise. Joshua Tree National Park officials fear that with Paradise Valley the serenity of their wilderness refuge is threatened once again by fast-growing urban development.
"It’s hard to say what we’re going to be left with in 20 or 30 years, as far as a resource base in the park," said Joshua Tree spokesman Joe Zarki. "We are a wilderness landscape in an increasingly urban setting."
Zarki told the Desert Sun almost all urban developments bring barking dogs, lawn mowers and exhaust-spewing cars. He said Joshua Tree already has the worst air quality in the national park system on some days of the year.
What would the new GLC city in Shavers Valley look like?
• A 2,323-acre residential community built along lakes and golf courses with bicycle and walking trails.
• An 800-acre golf resort with several courses and a golf academy.
• A 220-acre shopping center with designer boutiques, cafes and restaurants.
• A four-mile-long business center covering 208 acres along Interstate 10.
• Parks, community centers and a concert hall covering 111 acres.
• An 89-acre "international resort" with timeshare units and hotels.
• A business and technology college and primary and secondary schools covering 70 acres.
• A 48-acre Christian retreat with views of the Salton Sea.
• An 18-acre medical center.
Not to mention:
*45,000 people - twice as many people as the nearby city of Coachella
* over 7,200 acres of rooftops and pavement
* increased traffic congestion
* increased air, water and noise pollution
Shavers Valley is critical habitat for the threatened desert tortoise and home to bighorn sheep and other distinctive wildlife. It is also a vital corridor for wildlife, allowing animals to travel between Joshua Tree National Park, Mecca Hills Wilderness and Orocopia Mountains Wilderness.
Shavers Valley is also important for recreation, providing open space for Californians and visitors from across America and the world.
Likely ground subsidence and permanent loss in the aquifer's water-storage capacity caused by Paradise Valley could dry up desert waters such as Hidden Springs, Sheephole Oasis and Cottonwood Springs - each critical to the survival of desert's web of life.
GLC’s proposal would increase smog and traffic along Interstate 10 and cause more sprawl in surrounding areas, all far from towns or infrastructure. The cost and impact of providing new infrastructure and services where none currently exists would be tremendous.
Environmental consultants who surveyed the Paradise Valley property in 2001 found one active desert tortoise burrow, several abandoned burrows and tortoise carcasses. In addition, they discovered scat and tracks from a threatened peninsular bighorn sheep.
The land is crisscrossed by washes that harbor ironwood trees, blue palo verde and desert lavender, according to the environmental assessment.
Upland mesas are dotted with ocotillos, barrel cacti and creosote bushes. Alligator lizards, rattlesnakes, quail, jack rabbits, coyotes and ground squirrels forage on the property.
What Natural and Cultural Resources Would Be Lost as a result of Paradise Valley?
* Over 7,200 acres critical to the survival of the threatened desert tortoise
* Over 7,200 acres vital to bighorn sheep and other wildlife as they
travel between Joshua Tree National Park and Mecca Hills wilderness
* Recreational and aesthetic opportunities for the burgeoning
population in the Coachella Valley (also in Joshua Tree National
Park and Mecca Hills Wilderness including Painted Canyon)
* Precious groundwater, springs and seeps - including Cottonwood
Springs and Sheephole Oasis.
* Important Native American cultural sites
There are numerous other reasons to prevent a new city in Shavers Valley, such as the encouragement of unauthorized off-road vehicle use, loss of cultural sites, increased potential for wildfires, and increased light and noise pollution.
In addition, according to preliminary planning documents, Paradise Valley residents and golf courses will use 7 million gallons of water per day at build out.
The Coalition to Save Shavers Valley has been formed to stop the development. The coalition consists of California Native Plant Society, California Wilderness Coalition, Center for Biological Diversity, Citizens for the Chuckwalla Valley, Defenders of Wildlife, National Parks Conservation Association, Sierra Club-San Gorgonio Chapter and The Wilderness Society.
Feel free to write and give your opinion to:
Supervisor Roy Wilson
4th District, Riverside County
73-710 Fred Waring Drive, Suite 222
Palm Desert, CA 92260
Or you can take a Nature Trip organized by the Center for Biological Diversity set for Dec 10-11, Shavers Valley, CA (near Palm Springs/Coachella Valley) with the Coalition to Save Shavers Valley. The Shavers Valley trip will focus on the proposed sprawl city near Joshua Tree National Park and BLM wilderness within the California Desert Conservation Area, and how people can work to protect the area. Sources: Center for Biological Diversity, Desert Sun (Palm Springs, CA), Community ORV Watch, Golf California.com
While fascists in Russia appear to be given a free hand by the police, the same is not so with those who oppose them.
The Moscow News reports that police prevented human rights activists from attending a City Hall-approved rally against fascism near Belorussky Station on Sunday, and when demonstrators rallied instead at City Hall, dozens were promptly detained and whisked away to a police station.
"We are outraged at how the authorities are playing games with fascists and not allowing us to say a word," Nikita Belykh, leader of the liberal Union of Right Forces party, or SPS, said outside the Tverskoi police station, where riot police brought 52 protesters. Some say as many as 200 were arrested.
Among those detained Sunday were leading human rights activists Sergei Kovalyov of the Institute for Human Rights, Dmitry Orlov of Memorial and Svetlana Gannushkina of Civic Assistance. Also detained were Alexander Osovtsov, the leader of Open Russia, Mikhail Khodorkovsky's human rights group, as well as prominent liberal activists Alexander Ryklin and Yevgenia Albats.
The rally was organized to protest against the government’s earlier decision to ban an anti-nationalist event in Moscow.
"We are very alarmed by the authorities' actions that allow fascist marches and prohibit us from providing an adequate response," Sergei Mitrokhin, leader of the Moscow branch of the liberal Yabloko party, said just minutes before police dispersed the rally. "Authorities need to keep the fascist genie tight in the bottle. Instead, they keep letting it out of the bottle."
The square in front of Belorussky Station was tightly sealed off by police at the time the rally was due to begin. No one was allowed to breach the perimeter. Asked why demonstrators were not being allowed into the square, a police officer, who did not give his name, said police had been ordered to prevent provocations.
Police then swooped down on the anti-fascists who rallied at the different location not far away.
“Police grabbing people who were chanting anti-Nazi slogans — it was a great show,” one of the detained rally participants, journalist Yevgenia Albats, was quoted by newsru.com as saying.
"It is forbidden by Moscow authorities to stage a rally here," a police captain shouted through a megaphone into the struggling crowd.
"It is allowed by the Constitution for citizens to gather," someone shouted back from the crowd.
Police cleared the square in about five minutes Sunday. A police officer picked a large paper sign reading, "The Mayor's Office Encourages Fascists" from the wet street and tore it into pieces.
Ultranationalists had planned large rallies Sunday (which were approved by the authorities), but apparently few people showed up.
In a statement posted on its web site, the Movement Against Illegal Immigration, or DPNI, said it had held small demonstrations at 37 open markets across Moscow on Sunday afternoon under the banners "Moscow Belongs to Us!" and "Russians, Arm Yourselves!" The claims could not be independently verified. There were no signs Sunday of any demonstrators at two markets in northern Moscow where DPNI said it had organized rallies.
However, less then three works earlier 3000 fascists and skinheads marched through the city center carrying racist signs and giving the Nazi salute. The police looked on and did nothing.
The white supremacist National Vanguard based in Charlottesville, Virginia reported on its web site that march was meant to send a message for, "Moscow to wake up their fellow compatriots and send the White people’s message to the aliens: get out of the country while you still have a chance to do it in safety.” The National Vanguard boasted, “On this day it became obvious that Russian Nationalism has finally become a major force on the political scene of the country.”
On November 13, anti-fascist activist, anarchist, and musician Timur Kacharava was murdered by neo-nazis on Ligovsky prospekt in St. Petersburg city centre, Russia.
According to Anarchismo following a FOOD NOT BOMBS action outside Vladimirskaya metro station, Timur, Maxim Zgibai and a couple of friends ”were suddenly and brutally attacked by a group of around 8-10 neo-nazis, screaming “anti-antifa (anti-fascist).” Timur was stabbed repeatedly in the body and neck, severing the carotid artery. Zgibai was stabbed 5 times in the chest and back, and had his head cracked open.
Anarchismo reports, "Following the vicious attack, which lasted about a minute, Max managed to call out for an ambulance to the security guard inside the bookshop. When Max came to the aid of Timur, he couldn’t feel his pulse. Timur was white and lying in a pool of his own blood. He was already dead. His friends could do nothing to save him.”
Zgibaj is still hospitalized in serious condition.
Anarchismo says there is a strong underground fascist movement in Russia, which is associated with the Partiya Svobody (Freedom Party), RNE (Russian National Unity) and DPNI (Movement Against Illegal Immigration) political parties. Street parades by these parties have taken place in St Petersburg, with the participation of neo-nazis chanting racist and nationalistic dogma. It is believed by anti-fascists that these are the groups which are responsible for the attack.
While a police investigation is underway, the lack of response to previous attacks on anti-fascists and immigrants does not bode well for any reasonable conclusion.
The city governor of St Petersburg and some mainstream media has claimed that Timur’s murder was by random “hooligans”, and not politically motivated.
A group called simply “Friends of Timur” says, “It is a disgrace to Timur’s memory to claim that his death was for anything other than political reasons. Timur was murdered for his beliefs in equality and freedom - we cannot forget that.” Sources: MOSNews, Moscow Times, National Vanguard, Anarchismo