Saturday, August 19, 2006


Why are we not hearing about what is happening on Tohono O'odham tribla lands along the US and Mexican border? Why are military invasions of homes not in the news? Why is no media outlet telling us about the repercusions faced by O'odham who speak up against abuses by the border partrol and the US military being done to them?

The following is from Indian Country Today.

O'odham protest military home invasions
by: Brenda Norrell / Indian Country Today

GU-VO DISTRICT, Tohono O'odham Nation, Ariz. - As the National Guard sets up observation posts on Tohono O'odham tribal land on the border, O'odham say homes are being invaded by U.S. Border Patrol agents and their peace of life has been destroyed.

''There is an invasion of our communities. You would not think this is America: it is a whole different world,'' said Ofelia Rivas, founder of the O'odham Voice against the Wall, an O'odham human rights advocacy organization.

Rivas said O'odham living on the border live in fear of the ongoing home invasions and the resulting retaliation if they speak out against the Border Patrol or National Guard troops now preparing camps in their backyards.

''The armed guards invaded the small village of Ali Jegk on the Tohono O'odham reservation. The community is under siege day and night by unmonitored heavily armed border patrols and other agents,'' Rivas told Indian Country Today.

Ali Jegk, adjacent to the international border on tribal land, is 136 miles southwest of Tucson and borders the Organ Pipe National Monument.

Rivas described a recent incident in which a young O'odham man and his family were threatened with pepper spray if they did not get out of their vehicle. The family, including an infant, was traveling to the funeral of their father and uncle.

''They were told to abandon their vehicle and walk more than 25 miles to their community. The young man was taken into custody under bogus charges. An encounter with the tribal police and the Border Patrol forced the release of the young man,'' Rivas said.

Currently, O'odham elderly, who normally sleep outside their adobe homes in summer because of the heat, now have to sleep indoors.

''They are forced to sleep in their homes at night because the Border Patrol is out there walking around and shining their spotlights on them. There is no peace at all,'' Rivas said.

Rivas said that recently, Border Patrol agents climbed on top of their patrol units and watched O'odham elderly gathering saguaro fruits during the traditional cactus fruit harvest.

''They feel like they are under a microscope.''

Gustavo Soto, spokesman for the Tucson Sector of the Border Patrol, told ICT that the agency takes these allegations seriously.

''There are a lot of allegations against our agency doing inappropriate activities,'' Soto said. However, he said the Border Patrol is monitored by the Office of the Inspector General and Office of Personnel Responsibility. There are also internal special investigation teams, he said.

Soto said he was not familiar with specific allegations coming from the Ali Jegk community, but that the Border Patrol encourages O'odham to make formal complaints to the agency. He said each formal complaint is investigated and a Border Patrol community representative is assigned to follow up.

Tohono O'odham Chairman Vivian Juan-Saunders said she was not aware of complaints of Border Patrol agents in the Ali Jegk community. Juan-Saunders said she asked Gu-Vo District leaders if they had received reports of allegations from the community and none had been received.

''Until community members bring these issues to the attention of either the community, district council, Legislative Council Domestic Affairs Committee, the Legislative Council or to my attention, we can't address these issues,'' Juan-Saunders said.

Juan-Saunders said, however, the Tohono O'odham Nation receives complaints from both sides concerning the Border Patrol, including O'odham who question where border agents are when illegal entrants invade O'odham homes.

Juan-Saunders said the nation encourages O'odham to file complaints when their rights are violated. She also said the nation has informed the Border Patrol of the tribe's sovereign status.

''They need to respect the rights of the nation as well,'' Juan-Saunders told ICT.

However, Rivas said O'odham families are harassed and spotlighted in their homes at night.

Rivas said a family of eight was awakened at 4:45 a.m. by armed Border Patrol agents who stated that footprints from the border led to their home. The family consists of a grandmother, two daughters and five grandchildren. The O'odham children were questioned if they were from Mexico.

''The young mother was spotlighted in her bed while she was nursing her infant. This is the third invasion of their home in the past two months. In this home invasion, the invaders did not identify themselves. The family is constantly under watch; the Border Patrol constantly drives by their yard, spotlighting and watch from the roadside.''

Rivas said another young family with two small children was awaked by four heavily armed Border Patrol agents at their door. The family was accused of harboring undocumented Mexicans and possibly hiding drugs. Two agents went through out the house while two other agents guarded the entrance to the home.

In another incident, an O'odham man in his 50s and his brother were stopped while traveling from his community along the border.

''He was threatened; they said they would smash his windshield if he didn't open his window completely. He was accused of being a drug trafficker.

''After they were released, the U.S. Border Patrol agents were yelling the stereotypical 'Indian war yells,''' Rivas said.

Rivas said one Ajo Sector Border Patrol agent stated to an O'odham man, ''You Indians think you have sovereign powers; we are the authority here. We have more authority then the tribal police.''

Soto, given a copy of the allegations in the Ali Jegk community, said it would be necessary for the Border Patrol to have the names and information on each incident in order to investigate. He said it is important for O'odham to write down the license plate numbers of the Border Patrol agents allegedly carrying out inappropriate activities so specific agents could be investigated.

The number to report abuses is (877) USBPHELP, and the help line is available around the clock, he said.

''We immediately take these matters very seriously,'' Soto said, pointing out that spotlighting into homes is one offense that is investigated when reported.

Rivas, however, pointed out that O'odham who do complain and make their names public become targeted and victimized by agents, especially in the isolated area of Ali Jegk.

''There is absolutely nothing out there to protect them, there is no one advocating for them,'' Rivas said.

Responding to ongoing criticisms of the Border Patrol by indigenous at the border, Soto said Border Patrol agents receive cultural sensitivity training during their initial training at the Border Patrol Academy. Then, agents receive annual cultural sensitivity trainings in individual sectors, including the Tucson, Ajo and Casa Grande Border Patrol sectors in southern Arizona.

Rivas and other indigenous border rights activists said the cultural sensitivity training that Border Patrol agents receive is obviously not enough.

Jose Matus, Yaqui and director of the Indigenous Alliance Without Borders, said that when he recently crossed the border in Arizona, a Border Patrol agent told him that he had never heard of the Yaqui people.

Soto said the cultural sensitivity training focuses on ''American Indians'' and is not specific for individual tribes. He said the cultural sensitivity training is multi-faceted and includes Irish-Americans and various ethnic groups.

Thursday, August 17, 2006


And this just in from the good news department....and CBBC

Seagulls save drifting fishermen

Three fishermen who say they spent nine months drifting across the Pacific Ocean have been rescued, after living off a diet of raw fish and seagulls.
The Mexican trio say they had to eat what they could catch and drink rain water after their engine broke down.

They were eventually picked up by a Taiwanese tuna trawler close to the Marshall Islands on 9 August.

The men's trip to catch shark off the Mexican Pacific coast turned into a 5,000-mile (8,000km) ordeal, they said.

The three men, Salvador Ordonez, Jesus Vidana and Lucio Rendon, are all from the Mexican town of San Blas.

The sailors had to eat seagulls

"We ate raw seagulls, ducks and fish. We ate everything raw - any fish that came near the boat we grabbed it and gulped it down," Jesus Vidana told Televisa channel in an interview late Tuesday.

"We drank rain water because it rained every day," he said.

"Twice we almost sank. The waves washed into the boat and we thought we were going to die."

The men were eventually picked up after drifting over to the other side of the Pacific and are apparently recovering well.


Work in tea estates and processing units across Nepal has come to a halt after workers went on strike. The closure has affected some 40,000 persons. Workers' representatives said the strike began after estate owners did not agree to a nominal salary demand.

All Nepal Tea Estate Workers' Association, Nepal Tea Estate Workers' Association and Nepal Independent Tea Workers' Union had been staging protests since August 3 to press the management to meet their 21-point demand.

Workers are demanding the fixing Rs 5,000 ($70 US) as monthly wages of workers, providing Dashain bonus, making the provision of provident fund, providing wages for the duration of their agitation, among others. Other demands include making temporary workers permanent and making provisions for contingency funds, bonuses and medical facilities, reinstating laid off workers, allow 90-day maternity leaves and provide one kilogram of tea to each worker every month.

"We will continue our protest until the demands are met," said Deepak Tamang, a leader of the workers said.

The following is from Kantipur Reports.

Tea workers' strike continues

BIRTAMOD (Jhapa), Aug 17 - Tea workers continued with their strike on Wednesday, bringing tea plucking and processing work in Jhapa, Ilam and Panchthar to a complete halt for the fourth consecutive day.

Trade union of tea workers gathered workers in Kakarbhitta and organized a rally and a mass meeting during the day. The meeting witnessed the participation of a large number of women, who normally constitute the tea plucking force.

The workers have been on a strike demanding fulfillment of their 21-point demand including a rise in monthly salary, perks and also payment of wages for the 21-day closure during the General Strike.

They took to the streets after the failure of the three-day talks held between the tea producers and trade unions.

Meanwhile, tea producers have moved to the Capital to bring the problem to the government's notice and request the government to intervene. They claim that the producers simply cannot fulfill the workers' demands.

“We cannot fulfill the demand on price hike, among others. Instead, we are ready to quit the business,” Chhatra Giri, president of Nepal Tea Producers Association (NTPA) said a few days ago.

To this, Dipak Tamang, president of Tea Estate Workers Association (TEWA), responded that tea workers were capable of running the business, if the producers were ready to quit. “We can show them how the tea industry can be run successfully,” said he.

A three-member delegation of the TEWA, meanwhile, met Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala in Biratnagar and apprised him of the problems in the tea sector. “The PM has assured us that he will discuss the matter with the concerned Ministry and producers, and take steps to resolve our problems,” Tamang said.

Meanwhile, our Ilam-based correspondent reports that the ongoing strike has affected thousands of small tea farmers, as they have not been able to sell their leaves to factories.

As the leaves wilt rapidly, farmers are suffering a cumulative loss running into millions of rupees every day.

The farmers have also asked the trade unions and producers to end their stalemate and resume operations soon. Otherwise, they have warned, they would launch a strike of their own.

“The factories should resume operations, for this is a major season of tea production. Otherwise, we will also go on strike,” said Tanka Mani Koirala, vice-president of Eastern Small Tea Farmers Association (ESTFA).

Farmers in Ilam also constituted a pressure group under the coordination of Dipak Adhikari on Wednesday to create an environment to enable early resumption of factories' operations.

“Strike has taken place during the main plucking season. This has seriously hurt small farmers, who not only anchor their livelihood on the production, but also rely on the earning from the green leaves to clear their bank loans,” said Dambar Katuwal, a tea farmer of Ilam.

According to statistics of Tea Producers Association, some 30,000 farmers are currently involved in tea plantation in districts such as Jhapa, Ilam, Panchthar, Tehrathum and Dhankuta, and they supply millions of kgs of green leaves to tea processors everyday.


Sex workers and their supporters from 21 countries marched on Wednesday through the 16th International AIDS Conference to demand their own place not only at the conference, but in their own societies.

They marched from a gauze-draped bed in the Toronto conference's Stiletto Lounge, one of the exhibits at the meeting, through art displays, exhibits about prisoners with AIDS and around booths offering information to drug users and religious groups.

Sex workers - both men and women - are often subject to a great deal of stigma, exploitation and violence. The industry, although a significant economic sector in many countries, is also generally illegal, a fact that limits sex workers' access to health and other services which might otherwise serve their health and safety needs.

According to UNAIDS, experiences in the field indicate that sex workers are among those most likely to respond positively to HIV prevention programmes.

The report, Sex Work, HIV/AIDS and Human Rights in Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia, released in 2005 calls for:
"...lawmakers, health authorities, and police to revise policies and practices around sex work, drug use, HIV testing, and migration that trample sex workers’ human rights and restrict their access to healthcare. Sex workers should be decriminalized and involved in all government-organized HIV/AIDS and human rights initiatives, and governments should seriously address social marginalization, economic exclusion, and violence against sex workers. More importantly, programs aimed at reaching sex workers with prevention services need to be expanded."

In this regard, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has called on governments across the globe to stop ignoring sex workers in their HIV/AIDS campaigns.

"We need to put the power to prevent HIV in the hands of women ... whether the woman is a faithful married mother of small children or a sex worker trying to scrape out a living in a slum," said Melinda Gates at the AIDS Conference, in Toronto, Canada.

She stressed that enlisting sex workers in the fight against AIDS would not only help them protect themselves from infection, but also their clients.

Hong Kong sex worker Chiu Hing Fung told the Ottawa Sun through an interpreter who works with the Chinese advocacy group Zi Teng, "If we decriminalize sex work and accept it as normal work, like lawyers and doctors, sex workers will have more bargaining power to ask clients to wear condoms and then HIV rates will decrease."

Anna-Louise Crago of Stella -- a Montreal-based support group for sex workers -- echoed the call saying legalizing the sex trade in Canada would help fight the scourge of HIV/AIDS.

"What criminalization does is put women in situations where they have less control of the work and puts them in isolation where they're cut off from resources with information and (condoms), " she said. "Criminalization is an obstacle to fighting HIV ... if it's recognized as labour, sex workers would be able to work safely."

Crago told the Toronto Star, "Sex workers are part of the solution in the fight against HIV. And sex workers need workers' rights and human rights in order to fight AIDS."

The following is taken from MediaCorpPress.

Sex workers show red light to AIDS at global forum

With the crack of a whip and swish of maracas, dozens of prostitutes from Bangladesh to Brazil and from Cambodia to Canada demanded recognition of their frontline role in the war on AIDS.

"Sex Workers' Rights: Time to Deliver," they chanted Wednesday, as their rowdy protest echoed through the vast Toronto conference centre hosting the world's biggest-ever meeting on a disease which has filled 25 million graves.

With sexy ribbon silhouettes drawn on their tight blue tee-shirts, they drew numbers from more than 20 nations, including Thailand, Brazil, Cambodia, Bangladesh, India and the United States.

An Indian transvestite lent a splash of color in a sari, as protestors shook maracas and blew whistles, while passing from hand to hand a mean-looking leather multi-thonged whip, which sparked hilarity at a security checkpoint.

"People must realize we are doing a job," said Anna-Louise Crago, a founder-member of Stella, the first sex worker association set up in Canada's French-speaking province of Quebec.

"The world needs sex workers to battle AIDS, and we need to be recognized by authorities as crucial to the struggle against HIV," she said.

A Thai woman, who didn't give her name added: "Sex work is work. Sex workers are workers. We need job security, health care."

Their cause won immediate support from top brass of the global AIDS battle, as Mark Wainberg, co-president of the 16th International AIDS conference, happened on the protest, by chance.

Slightly red-faced, the besuited, bespectacled Canadian academic took up their chants, which reverberated through the conference centre hosting 20,000 delegates.

Statistics back up sex workers' claims to be at the epicentre of the epidemic.

According to the agency UNAIDS, the march of the disease in many nations is underpinned by paid-for sex.

In China, it is estimated that sex workers and clients represent 20 percent of those with HIV. In Ethiopia, 73 percent of sex workers are infected, along with 50 percent in South Africa and 31 percent in Ivory Coast.

Demonstrators denounced hassle from governments and police from numerous nations, which they said forced them to operate clandestinely and cut them out official HIV prevention programs.

Canadians among them accused their country's new Conservative government of forcing them out of major cities in clean-up campaigns.

One woman from Mali bemoaned the lack of funding for anti-AIDS programs for sex workers, and all denounced the United States over rules which bar HIV aid from groups that support prostitution.

"Society must accept the existence of sex workers, and we need free condoms," said Awa Dambele, from Bamako, who warned that condoms were expensive in Mali and poverty-stricken prostitutes had to work without them.

Catherine Healy, a sex worker from New Zealand, said the situation for her counterparts had got better.

"The Ministry of Health was one of our first allies -- the ministry funded us to distribute condoms to our peers," she said.

But up until prostitution was decriminalized in her country in 2003 -- police still harassed sex workers, seizing the condoms and hampering effective HIV prevention.

For the Indian transvestite, who refused to be named, the logic was simple: unless sex workers are brought into the fight, AIDS will never be conquered.

"All the governments should give rights to sex workers, all the policies will go down the drain if sex workers don't get their rights."

Wednesday, August 16, 2006


"The soldiers beat my hands and secured them to plumbing pipes. They beat my head and abdominal area with soldiers' shoes...[they] held me under [a drain full of excrement] for so long I was unable to breathe and the excrement was inhaled through my nose and seeped into my mouth."
Ahmad Batebi, writing in an open letter following his imprisonment in 1999.

In the summer of 1999, 21 year old film student Ahmad Batebi arrived at a peaceful student protest held in front of his school at University of Tehran. A vigilante mob supported by the special security police had already attacked the protestors injuring several students, arresting numerous others and killing at least one.

Batebi who was trained as an emergency paramedic by the Red Crescent Society of Iran was assisting the injured when he came across a severely injured friend and held his friend's bloody t-shirt above his head to show the cruelty of the attackers. A photography of that incident appeared on the cover of the Economist and spread around the world.

Batebi was arrested on that day and was later brought to trial in front of the special "revolutionary court" in Tehran. The Economist cover didn't help his case much. His "trial" lasted only a few minutes and he was denied having a lawyer present to defend him. He received a death sentence but internal and international pressure, finally caused the authorities to reduce his sentence to 15 years.

The following is from the Blog site of Maryam Namazie. Maryam Namazie is actively involved in promoting the Third Camp against US militarism and Islamic terrorism, a producer of TV International English and Director of the Worker-communist Party of Iran's International Relations Committee.

Release Ahmad Batebi now!

To human rights organizations and freedom lovers around the globe
About the critical condition of a political prisoner in Iran

Ahmad Batebi is one of many political prisoners in Iran. He was arrested in 1999 when a student demonstration was brutally attacked by Iranian police forces.

His “crime” was holding up a bloody shirt belonging to one of his injured fellow students in front of the cameras and his photograph was soon published widely in many countries revealing the Islamic republic’s savage ways towards its opponents.

Ahmed Batebi is now in a critical situation, severely ill and on hunger strike. For more information on Batebi’s condition, please see the following letter from his wife Somaie Baiienat. Her letter is very detailed and expressive. Ahmad Batebi’s life is in danger and only an international urgent action can save his life. The Islamic regime of Iran must be forced by international pressure to release Ahmed Batebi.

As a woman who has spent eight years (from June 1982 till May 1990) in Islamic regime’s prisons experiencing horrific torture and harassments, I call on all of you, human rights groups and organizations and those who care for humanity and for freedom, to act quickly, write protest letters to Iranian authorities and demand Batebi’s and all political prisoners’ immediate release.

Please send your letters to the following addresses and send me a copy so I could let the Iranian people know of your support via Farsi publications.

With respect,
Mercede Qaedi
(A former political prisoner in the Islamic regime’s prisons)


Please send your protest letters to:

1. Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran
Ayatollah Sayed Ali Khamenei

2. Head of the Judiciary
Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi, Ministry of Justice
Email: Please send emails via the feedback form on the Persian site of the website: (The text of the feedback form translates as: 1st line: name, 2nd line: email address, 3rd line: subject heading. Then enter your email into the text box.)

Letter from Ahmad Batebi's wife to the UN

Respected chairman of the Commission of the Human Rights of the UN:

This letter is being forwarded to you by the wife of Ahmad Batebi a student arrested during the student uprising of 1999 and condemned to the capital punishment by the Islamic Revolutionary Courts a sentence commuted to 15 years of imprisonment.

After serving six years of his sentence he fell ill and doctors appointed by the judiciary system judged his condition as severe and granted him a sick leave for a short time, during his short release we noted that his ailments included severe kidney, spinal and intestinal problems that were not treated properly and needed an urgent attention.

Physicians appointed by the court reported that his general condition could deteriorate if he was to be jailed again and urged the court to order his release since he could die or be crippled for life.

Therefore he was released from jail to seek proper medical attention.

On 27/7/2006 unknown armed persons conducted a house search and arrested Ahmad Batebi and drove him to an undisclosed location.

During his arrest my husband declared that he would go on a hunger strike immediately our lawyer tried to locate him and was unsuccessful in his attempts, and considering his physical conditions we are deeply worried about his health.

Needless to say that my husband's friend Mr. Akbar Mohammadi who also participated in the student uprising is being kept in a similar condition and died of hunger strike nine days later in Evin jail.

I am deeply concerned about the fact that my husband's actual mental and physical conditions could lead to the same fate.

Despite numerous attempts to contact him through the judiciary system and the Evin jail by means of letters and telephone calls I am still in doubt over the whereabouts of my husband and I fear him dead.

Following the creation of the human rights council in the United Nations which is giving us new hopes for exploring new avenues in human rights and has raised our expectations for getting a team of experts to come to Iran and evaluate the actual state of human rights which would enable us to expect to get the most basic right for my husband to get out of jail for his medical treatment.

Hoping to have attracted your attention to my desperate plea.

Best regards
Somaie Baiienat (wife of Ahmad Batebi a student in the jail since 1999)

Medical report on the hunger strike of Ahmad Batebi

Today 15/5/85 (6 August 2006) is the ninth day of the arrest and hunger strike of Ahmad Batebi.

As an independent physician who has been in charge of Ahmad Batebi's health outside of prison, I feel it necessary to note some points about his physical condition:

1- As a result of disk herniation (L4 & L5) due to a blow, Ahmad Batebi is in need of ongoing physiotherapy, medication and further investigation for an operation. If lack of treatment and hunger strike continue, he will face complete physical and sensory paralysis in the lower body.

2- High blood haemoglobin (17 g/dl), which is normally between 12-14 g/dl, will result in arteriosclerosis and an eventual heart attack.

3- High cholesterol, uric acid and triglyceride, which if not treated will irreparably damage his vital organs, namely kidneys, liver and heart.

4- His kidney haemorrhage may possibly be the result of high blood haemoglobin or kidney stone and needs further investigation.

5- Stomach bloating and duodenal ulcer, which can worsen and result in the puncturing of the stomach and/or duodenum, causing internal bleeding.

In light of the above, regarding Mr Ahmad Batebi’s many physical ailments, I find it necessary to warn all those responsible and the doctors inside the prison that if his hunger strike does not end and he is not transferred to outside medical care, he will meet the same unfortunate fate of Akbar Mohammadi.

The life of a human being is in danger; his situation needs addressing before another unfortunate incident arises.


Dr Hesam Firouzi

Maryam Namazie


Annette Auguste better known as So Anne, who spent 826 nights sleeping in a prison cell, is now home with her family. So is Georges Honoré (813 nights) Yvon Antoine (Zap Zap) (812 nights) and Paul Raymond (388 nights).

The prosecutors conceded that there was no evidence against the four, and the judge accordingly made a finding of not guilty.

"There has been no evidence linking those people to these incidents," said Judge Fils-Aime as he ordered the release.

The four were arrested over an outbreak of violence at a university and the wounding of its dean but no evidence was produced, as in the cases of many other former Aristide allies jailed during the U.S.-backed interim administration of prime minister Gerard Latortue.

The Auguste case was highlighted by Amnesty International, which said she had been seized by US Marines - part of an international force deployed to Haiti - who said she had been arrested on suspicion of "possessing information that could pose a threat to the US military force".

During the arrest they killed her two dogs and cuffed and hooded all members of her family, including four minors under the age of 15.

Even though the US military admitted it found no weapons or evidence to support the allegations against her writes the Independent, she was taken into custody and held by the interim government of Gerard Latortue, imposed by the US, France and Canada, on suspicion of incitement to violence, though Amnesty said she was never charged with a recognisable offence.

About a dozen prominent Aristide allies -- including former Prime Minister Yvon Neptune and former Interior Minister Jocelerme Privert -- have been freed since President Rene Preval took over from the interim government in May.

"The interim government and its allies had locked me up because they were aware of my capacity to mobilize the masses," Auguste, a 65 year old grandmother, popular Haitian singer, community organizer and pro-democracy activist, told Reuters.

"They wanted to make sure I did not play any political role that could benefit Aristide. As a brave woman, I confronted that injustice with courage, but it feels good to be free again," she said.

The following is from the Haiti Support Committee.


Four leading supporters of the Lavalas Family party, who have been held in prison since they were arrested between March 2004 and July 2005, have been released. Annette Auguste, Georges Honoré, Yvon Antoine a.k.a Zap Zap, and Paul Raymond - all well-known supporters of former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide - had been held without charges and then were finally formally charged in April 2006 in relation to a violent attack by pro-Aristide supporters against students at the State University on 5 December 2003. At the end of a ten hour marathon that took place in the presence of imposing security, the main judge, Fritznel Fils-Aimé, cited a “lack of evidence”, and ordered the immediate release of the four accused, causing an outburst of joy among the many FL supporters seated in the courtroom. “The defendants Annette Auguste, Paul Raymond André Junior, Yvon Antoine, and George Honoré, are declared not guilty of charges of aggravated assault, destruction of public goods and criminal conspiracy”, concluded the judge.


The following announcement is from the Center for Nursing Advocacy.

Your invitation to the Emmys is here!

Well, it's not actually from the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. It's from us. The Center for Nursing Advocacy invites all who care how global society thinks about nursing to join our first live demonstration! On August 27, 2006 (Sunday afternoon), as the glitterati arrive for the 58th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards in Los Angeles, we'll be there. We'll let those who create Hollywood's most popular and profitable hospital shows know that their work harms nursing, and tell them how they can improve, in the interest of public health.

Worldwide nursing pride

All of the most influential hospital shows--"Grey's Anatomy," "House," "ER," and "Scrubs"--are up for major Emmy awards this year. And those who only occasionally create poor nursing images, such as "The Sopranos" producers, will also be there. That means those most responsible for the poor primetime portrayals of nursing that infest the world's television sets and minds will be at the Shrine Auditorium on August 27. And so will we, on the sidewalk, communicating with the occupants of the limousines slowly advancing--and we understand that advance is slow indeed--toward the red carpet. With polite but firm signs and voices, we'll tell the producers and stars that we hope to see nurses portrayed as the serious professionals they are, not the handmaidens and losers we've come know and not love. We will tell them that we don't mind all the nursing in their shows. We'd just like to see it done by nurse characters, rather than physicians.

Imagine all the nurses...

What events do we have planned? The Emmy Awards ceremony starts at 5:00 p.m. PST on Sunday, August 27, in Los Angeles. At 1:45 p.m., we will walk from the Radisson Hotel to the Shrine Auditorium. There, with a city demonstration permit, we will assemble on the public sidewalk. As stars and producers arrive, we will speak truth to power. Though our message is in part a critical one, we anticipate a positive event that is empowering, educational, and enjoyable. The evening will be free for participants to explore greater Los Angeles, or to celebrate a constructive interaction with those who shape the nursing image.

Express yourself!

But why do this, o relentless Center? With this event, we can reach an extraordinary concentration of those whose work influences how nurses are seen by hundreds of millions of people worldwide. "Grey's Anatomy" and "House" can reach over 20 million viewers in the U.S. alone with each episode. Sadly, their portrayals of nursing are abysmal. So it is vital that they understand how serious the undervaluation of nursing is today. While our letters are powerful and are having some effect, we can reach only a few decision makers at a time with them. We want to send Hollywood a more direct message now, as it prepares its new season. The industry must learn that its work affects how people think and act toward nursing, as research shows, and that this is a key factor in the crisis that nurses and their patients now face.

The Emmys are broadcast live on NBC, and they get worldwide media coverage. So we hope this demonstration will enable us to bring our concerns to the public--the decision-makers, patients, and career seekers who are ultimately affected by media portrayals.

And there's more! This will also be a chance to get together with other nurses, nursing students, and friends to discuss together how we can work in our local communities to improve the media. Come be a part of the solution!

Get up, stand up!

Nurses can improve their image. We have seen evidence that what we say to the makers of these shows does have an impact, however little they respond to us directly. Speaking even more forcefully to those responsible will bring us closer to a world where the media reflects the true value of nursing--and nurses are treated in accord with that value.

Initial Meeting Location: Radisson Hotel, 3540 S. Figueroa St., Los Angeles,
CA 90007 (map) 1:15 p.m.

Primary Meeting Location: Shrine Auditorium, at 665 W. Jefferson Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90007. (map) 2:00 to 5:00 p.m.

The Nursing-Related Emmy Nominees

"Grey's Anatomy," "House" and "The Sopranos" (which had some poor nursing portrayals last season) have been nominated for best drama series. "Scrubs" has been nominated for best comedy series. As for the veteran "ER," James Woods was nominated for best guest actor. Sandra Oh and Chandra Wilson from "Grey's Anatomy" were nominated for best supporting actress. The Sopranos and "Six Feet Under" (which also had poor nursing portrayals in the past season) were nominated for best direction and other best acting awards.

Protest with us!

Please come protest with us from 2:00 - 5:00 p.m. August 27, 2006, at some point along the limousine procession toward the Shrine Auditorium, at 665 W. Jefferson Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90007. Exact location details will follow as we get them. (map). Please email us to let us know you are coming so we can keep an accurate head count. Thank you.

Suggested Attire

You can wear anything you wish, but we are far more noticeable--and our message is much clearer--if we dress in a similar way. So we strongly urge all to wear the Center's high quality t-shirt, with our slogan "When was the last time the media told you the truth about what nurses do?", and a stethoscope around your neck. If you would like to buy a Center t-shirt to wear with the other protesters, you may order one through this link for $15. If you order by August 20, you can pick it up at the Radisson Hotel at 1:15 pm on August 27. If you will not have a t-shirt, we suggest a plain ceil blue set of scrubs or as a second choice another plain color set of scrubs.


If you would like us to make a sign for you and have it at the Radisson Hotel for you to pick up at 1:15 p.m., you may order one by Aug. 18 for $20. You are also welcome to bring your own sign. We will post some suggested slogans soon.

March to the Protest

August 27, 1:15 p.m., Radisson Hotel -- We will collect our signs and t-shirts, which the Center will have waiting at the hotel for those who have registered, and at 1:45 p.m. we will walk three blocks to our place near the Shrine Auditorium, where the Emmys will begin at 5:00 p.m. PST. The press and participants will arrive during the ensuing three hours.


I am printing all three parts of a series from the alternative Philippines Weekly Bulatlat. It is long so if you aren't interested, then skip it. However, I would recomend a look see.

Macapagal-Arroyo’s ‘Silent War’ Vs the Left
Merging Executive Policy and Military Strategy
First of three parts

In the long-drawn war against the Marxist guerrillas where force takes the lead, the country’s security forces have had a reproachable record in human rights threatening even legitimate political dissent, the peaceful advocacy of radical reform and, now, the use of the legislature to push for patriotic and progressive legislation.


“We have been in this game for decades. Perhaps it is high time to put into play an end-game strategy that will terminate this lingering problem.”

Thus reads a briefing paper on Operation Plan Bantay Laya (or Oplan Freedom Watch – OBL), a strategic plan of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) that was implemented beginning 2002. Shortly thereafter, OBL, originally designed against the Abu Sayyaf – a kidnap-for-ransom group that acquired a U.S. spin as a “terrorist” – was extended as a strategy against the No. 1 “state enemy” – the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed component, the New People’s Army (NPA).

Echoing this “end-game strategy” against the underground Left – which has waged an armed struggle since 1969 – Defense Secretary Avelino Cruz vowed in 2005 to crush the country’s major “national security threat” in six to 10 years. Early this year, Macapagal-Arroyo’s Cabinet Oversight Committee on Internal Security (COC-IS) adjusted OBL as the “Enhanced National Internal Security Plan.” Government had earlier suspended unilaterally the Joint Agreement on Security and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG), an 11-year-old accord signed jointly by the peace panels of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP). Denounced by the NDFP as in violation of the terms of the internationally-recognized accord itself, the act stripped NDFP personnel, consultants and staffs of security and immunity guarantees thus making them vulnerable to military and police attacks.

In the campaign against the armed Left, OBL or the internal security plan was to be carried out in priority regions combining combat, intelligence and civil-military operations. But reports say the Oplan also stresses the “neutralization” of communists’ “sectoral front organizations” to make it effective. By experience and as understood by rights watchdogs and militant groups, to “neutralize” translates into physical elimination.

Neither the presumptive President of the Republic, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, nor her defense department has denied the existence of the AFP’s top secret military strategy against the armed Left. In fact a few weeks ago, as commander in chief, Macapagal-Arroyo directed the AFP to finish off the Leftist “insurgency” in two years instead of six or 10, and earmarked an additional P1 billion to boost the counter-insurgency military offensives. She had earlier mobilized the Philippine National Police (PNP) for counter-insurgency operations making this campaign a joint military-police program.

As in past regimes, the military approach to fighting the armed revolutionary movement has once again underlined giving the AFP, police, paramilitary and other security forces – including anti-communist vigilantes – the upper hand in the fight against the armed Left. In the long-drawn war against the Marxist guerrillas where force takes the lead, the country’s security forces have had a reproachable record in human rights threatening even legitimate political dissent, the peaceful advocacy of radical reform and, now, the use of the legislature to push for patriotic and progressive legislation. This is based consistently on the findings of the UN Committee on Human Rights, Amnesty International, other reputable international and Philippines rights watchdogs and lawyers groups, the World Council of Churches and other church organizations, the country’s own Committee on Human Rights (CHR) and even human rights investigations by the Congress itself.

List of atrocities

Macapagal-Arroyo, however, can no longer evade responsibility for the politically-motivated killings that have claimed the lives of, to date, 725 persons many of them identified with cause-oriented organizations and progressive political parties. The victims have included regional and provincial leaders of these organizations, rights volunteers, church leaders, lawyers, physicians, students, journalists as well as farmers, workers, women and children. In recent months, several rights watchdogs and fact-finding groups have fingered the presumptive president’s security forces as the probable perpetrators in the reported killings that became a pattern after Macapagal-Arroyo took power in 2001.

Seen recently as proof of the presumptive president’s role in the political killings was when she publicly commended in her July 24 state-of-the-nation address (Sona) Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan for his anti-insurgency record. Tagged as the “butcher” of many activists and several times promoted by the president herself, Palparan has been most aggressive in the AFP’s anti-insurgency drive particularly in “neutralizing” the underground Left’s alleged legal political infrastructure. Sixty percent of reported killings and abductions during the past year occurred in Central Luzon – Palparan’s present assignment. The presidential praise heaped on Palparan sent a signal for the military to stay on course insofar as the “neutralization” of alleged leftist front organizations is concerned. Thus in just three weeks, the number of summary executions and abductions victimizing activists, organizers and party-list leaders has increased.

Records show that the political assassinations or extra-judicial executions of suspected “enemies of the state” have escalated alongside other military-police operations such as forced mass evacuations, hamletting or herding of whole communities into military garrisons and the militarization of villages that has undermined civilian rule. This escalation became noticeable especially since Macapagal-Arroyo launched her own “war on terror” late 2001 in exchange for continued U.S. support for her regime and increase in U.S. armed presence in the country.

Deepening U.S.-Philippine military cooperation paved the way for reconfiguring the “war on terror” into an all-out war against the Left. Labeling the CPP-NPA and its suspected “front organizations” as “terrorist” became a strategy to give the Macapagal-Arroyo regime a new “ideological” bent to project the Left – and its alleged “front organizations” – as the country’s main problem and thus diffuse public criticism on the president’s constitutional legitimacy, corruption and other issues. The further aim is to vilify the Left as a “criminal” organization without any ideological and political cause making it subject to the use of full force by the state.

At the presidential level, this is the policy pursued by Macapagal-Arroyo’s COC-IS and the AFP’s current doctrines of anti-insurgency-terrorism as well as the OBL. An AFP document dated 2004, “Military Strategy for Combating Terrorism,” lumps the NPA with the ASG as a “terrorist group” justifying the use of “force on terror” by government’s internal security forces, namely, the AFP, paramilitary and the Philippine National Police (PNP). Force is used against the enemy’s “predetermined targets” such as its “critical vulnerabilities” and “support systems.” The AFP’s anti-insurgency-terrorism doctrine is at the heart of its strategy that commands implementation by all internal security forces through military and police operations.

Psywar, black prop and media

The reconstructed “war on terror” or internal security plan, has been waged through a combination of psywar, black propaganda and, for such purposes, the use of the trimedia, along with the drawing up what rights watchdogs describe as a virtual “orders of battle” (OBs or hit lists). For propaganda, top AFP high and regional commands have organized press briefings as well as town assemblies where at least two major power point presentations with printed versions were shown: “Knowing the Enemy” and the “Trinity of War.” These two controversial presentations include a long list of legitimate mass organizations, NGOs including Church and media institutions, many – but not all – of them known to be active critics of government and advocates of social and political reform. They were named as having links with the underground Left. What drew public outrage was that not only these psywar paraphernalia were fabricated and put legitimate organizations under negative public perception but also placed them and the lives of their leaders and members in physical harm. The hit lists – if true – practically put the law in mockery and make the military the prosecutor, judge and executioner all rolled into one.

Documentation by rights watchdogs and fact-finding missions shows a pattern in the political murders and forced disappearances since 2001: Many of the victims had been named in military hit lists or had received warnings and physical threats (sometimes through text messages) from military authorities; many were ambushed by motorcycle-riding, hooded gunmen, still others were shot in front of their own families. Victims of abduction were found to have been brought to military camps only to disappear afterwards; vehicles used for the killings and abductions were seen either near or inside military headquarters. Reports also show that many victims were targeted not as NPA suspects but as leaders or members of legitimate cause-oriented organizations. Many eyewitnesses have told investigators, including the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and police, that soldiers or military agents were involved.

Newspaper accounts also say that the killings – and the style and circumstances in which these are executed - have spread in many regions citing in particular the case of communist-hunter Palparan whose every assignment – from Mindoro/Southern Tagalog, to Samar-Leyte and now Central Luzon - has been said to leave a trail of blood. Given the spread of the killings and the circumstances and style by which these cases are executed, it is not difficult to believe that these incidents could not have happened – or continue to happen – without orders from some high command or without the authority given, or at least the knowledge of, the commander-in-chief of the armed forces. The AFP in particular follows a hierarchy and operations in the field are always in pursuance of orders from above. Orders cannot be questioned and these are executed not only because of the hierarchy but also because to refuse them would violate the soldier’s oath. There have also been reports that at in least in one province in northern Philippines, several death squads and hit men had been deployed by some top police officials.

The U.S. Doctrine of Counter-Insurgency in the ‘Silent War’
Second of three parts

The deliberate use of terror is “a legitimate and highly effective tactical tool of unconventional warfare.” This unconventional warfare is designated as a “national policy” with the military assigned the primary responsibility in “the conduct of punitive operations” backed by police, paramilitary and civilian agencies.


Accounts of government’s internal security plan or of the OBL do not of course show that the military and other security forces are under explicit orders to kill leaders and members of suspected front organizations of the underground left. However, government’s record of counter-insurgency in the Philippines sheds some light on how such campaign operates.

Since the Marcos dictatorship (1972, when martial law was declared, to 1986 when he was ousted from power), the doctrine of counter-insurgency has been waged through unrelenting military suppression campaigns, psychological warfare and assaults on civil liberties. The doctrine was refined further during the Aquino presidency’s “total war policy” through the CIA-inspired low-intensity conflict (LIC) that tapped local government units, paramilitary units and – unclassified secret documents reveal - about 50 vigilante bands or death squads. Counter-insurgency campaigns have been launched not only against the Marxist guerrillas but also Moro rebels fighting for self-determination and autonomy. The cost of such brutal campaigns in terms of human lives lost and communities displaced would be huge and lengthy to mention in this paper.

Both previous campaigns and the current OBL – which is actually recycled from the old ones – have the makings of the counter-insurgency or “counter-terror” doctrine devised by the U.S. military since the 1950s and which, according to former CIA operatives, had been used extensively in at least 43 countries particularly in the Philippines, Indochina and Korea. Similar doctrines have also been crafted in Central and Latin America and, today, in Colombia, Iraq and other countries.

Based on U.S. military field manuals, the heart of this counter-insurgency doctrine is the deliberate use of terror “as a legitimate and highly effective tactical tool of unconventional warfare.” This unconventional warfare is designated as a “national policy” with the military assigned the primary responsibility in “the conduct of punitive operations” backed by police, paramilitary and civilian agencies. Operations used for this terror campaign include assassinations, disappearances and mass executions. Although terror is supposed to be part of the counter-insurgency program, experience shows that it may in fact gain primacy thus making the program primarily an unconventional war.

The doctrine further suggests that the use of terror as a “legitimate weapon” for counter-insurgency aims to instill fear among the population and, as a result, deny suspected cadres and members of target political organizations their mass support. Mass executions or massacres often take place alongside selective political assassinations for maximum effect. The psywar message these operations try to send is that advocacy – especially the radical type – is risky and is not worth fighting for. Being highly-secretive and known only to top military officials, terror invests both the hit men and architects of these punitive operations with the license to kill as well as immunity from prosecution.

For too long, the Philippines has been maintained by the United States, its former colonial master, for the latter’s strategic economic and geo-political objectives not only in the Philippines but throughout Asia, the Pacific and the Gulf Region. This special relationship has been guaranteed by making the AFP dependent on U.S. military aid and training in order to make it useful for its proxy war in the Philippines as well as for ensuring that whoever sits as president remains friendly to the United States. Note the intervention of the U.S. chiefly through the AFP and the use of economic squeeze in two political-economic crises that led to the downfall of two presidents – Marcos in 1986 and Joseph Estrada in 2001. The immediate aim was to prevent the government from supposedly falling into the hands of the Left and hence keeping the Philippines’ ancillary role in U.S. strategic interests in the region. Before Marcos and Estrada, previous presidents had also been empowered or suffered shorter terms depending on their ability to fight insurgent forces and support U.S. objectives, among other considerations.

Key role

Thus for decades the U.S. military through its Pacific Command has maintained strong influence in the AFP not only in the field of counter-insurgency but also in the current U.S.-led “war on terrorism.” The U.S. has had a key role in developing and promoting counter-insurgency doctrines that were adopted by the AFP. The implementation of counter-insurgency doctrines – including the current “war on terror” – had been tied to U.S. economic and military aid. Continuing scholarship trainings given to the AFP’s junior officers as well as police officers at the U.S. military’s special training schools are used to further hone the country’s security forces anti-insurgency strategy and skills while maintaining the AFP as a surrogate army of the U.S.

At present, the U.S. military, intelligence and “homeland security” operatives provide training for special covert operations as well as intelligence, logistical, and combat support. U.S. armed intervention in the country has been boosted by a new agreement signed with the Macapagal-Arroyo government allowing U.S. forces to operate not only for “training” or “war exercises” but also to conduct “humanitarian” and “anti-terrorism” missions. Actually such missions have been ongoing in recent years particularly in suspected NPA lairs.

The U.S. role in counter-insurgency-terrorism has expanded alongside the increase in U.S. economic aid geared to anti-terrorism. Based on the 2003 Conflict Vulnerability Assessment, the USAID’s new strategy for 2004-2009 seeks to “address conflict more comprehensively and with a broader geographical focus, particularly on areas outside Mindanao where poverty and social injustice can help to create fertile ground for organized violence and terrorism.”

Records also show, however, that the greater the level of U.S. aggression through military presence and increased military and economic aid is in the country, the more human rights violations occur. The U.S. military and economic aid that propped up the Marcos dictatorship was also used to intensify military suppression campaigns that resulted in nearly five million people displaced and tens of thousands arrested, tortured, killed and disappeared. The U.S-initiated and –supported low intensity war during the Aquino years (1986-1992) led to unprecedented cases of forcible disappearances, massacres, the deployment of vigilante squads and the extra-judicial killings of many urban-based activists. While pretending to engage the Left in peace talks, the Ramos government (1992-1998) launched similar punitive operations with secret plans to restore authoritarian rule, a policy that was sustained by Joseph Estrada (1998-January 2001) particularly in the south. All told, it can be said that like her, Macapagal-Arroyo’s predecessors used counter-insurgency to the hilt to ensure continued U.S. support. But, at what cost?

Throughout the world, the U.S. has been condemned for using the “war on terror” as a pretext for launching wars of aggression on many small countries, for propping up unpopular and despotic regimes as well as for the increase of crimes against humanity and human rights violations in these countries. The Bush government refuses to take heed on calls from around the world to withdraw its support for the illegitimate Macapagal-Arroyo regime especially because U.S. military aid has led to more political crimes and that economic aid only goes to corruption.

What Drives Macapagal-Arroyo’s “Silent War”?
Last of three parts

The issue of political murders is tied to the issue of regime survival.


The recent directive of Macapagal-Arroyo to the justice department and Philippine National Police (PNP) to solve at least 10 political killings in 10 weeks is obviously just for show. The PNP is not only involved in counter-insurgency itself but its own Task Force Usig, which is charged with investigating the political crimes, according to a recent international fact-finding mission of Dutch and Belgian judges and lawyers, “has not proven to be an independent body…the PNP has a poor record as far as the effective investigation of the killings is concerned and is mistrusted by the Philippine people.”

Macapagal-Arroyo condemned “in the harshest possible terms” political killings but only after praising Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan, who has been accused by human rights and militant groups of masterminding political killings in regions where he was assigned. She also has taken no heed to clamors for the formation of an impartial truth commission to look into the political murders. A highly independent probe will likely unearth the whole truth and the trail of blood might yet be traced to the doors of the presidency itself. This is a danger zone for the regime.

All these, meanwhile, continue to give the Macapagal-Arroyo regime the latitude to keep the counter-insurgency-terrorism campaign on track that could also mean continued political killings and a culture of impunity.

Macapagal-Arroyo’s “end game strategy” – now cut to two years – is expected to fail to wipe out the Leftist rebellion for not even she or her generals know the answer on how to solve this 37-year-long “lingering problem.” Assuming that death squads are the main instrument for ending the armed rebellion, then the spate of killings will need to be at a high level targeting the tens of thousands of activists and a claimed mass constituency of millions. The armed Left has sustained 37 years of guerrilla war and survived repression campaigns equal to – if not more atrocious than – that mounted by Macapagal-Arroyo’s security forces today.

Pragmatic rulers, including Ramos, have admitted that it will take more than military solutions to solve it and this means perhaps having the political will to pursue meaningful socio-economic reforms. Presidents are not actually driven by long-term visions: They exist simply based on short-term goals – or narrow political interests.

This paper shares the theory that the graft-ridden AFP in particular its top hierarchy is motivated by the need to justify its whopping budget which includes its “modernization” program and for this it needs to keep its membership in combat mode. Career generals need to show a record of performance for promotion and post-retirement benefits. An active counter-insurgency, especially if it is integrated with the global “war on terror”, will continue to draw full U.S. and other foreign military assistance.

Political leverage

However, Macapagal-Arroyo’s short-term military approach is apparently tied to a political leverage. Former government chief peace negotiator, Silvestre Bello III, recently spilled the beans somewhat when he said that the current internal security plan aims to force the NDFP back to the negotiating table where the GRP panel can talk “from a position of strength.” It is likely therefore that the “terror” tack of the AFP’s end-game strategy (specifically the killing of civilians, as alleged) could escalate further in two years assuming that it can be used as a political blackmail to force the NDFP forces to capitulate.

This dirty ploy addresses the U.S. opposition to negotiating with the Left and its preference for keeping the military ante in order to force the NDFP to surrender. This is likely the reason why the Macapagal-Arroyo government conspired with the U.S. to include the CPP-NPA and the NDFP’s senior political consultant, Jose Maria Sison, in the state department’s list of “foreign terrorist organizations” even as diplomatic efforts were also made with European and other governments to do the same. Thereafter, the government panel pressed the NDFP side to accept a fast-track formula for the talks, which was essentially a blueprint for surrender. Both tactics provoked the NDFP to protest leading eventually to the collapse of the peace talks in Oslo. The government responded with the unilateral suspension of JASIG followed, coincidentally, by the escalation of political killings.

In the end, whether the Macapagal-Arroyo regime can indeed force the Left to surrender is not the end-result she’s eyeing. What matters is that the present hard-line strategy against the Left – and the role that the AFP takes – will go a long way toward ensuring continued U.S. support that can be coursed through an AFP that remains on the side of its commander-in-chief. Macapagal-Arroyo has pledged fatter budgets for the graft-ridden AFP and even fatter salaries for its generals.

For that, after all, is what matters most for Macapagal-Arroyo at the moment. Having lost the constitutional legitimacy to govern, and faced with continuing prospects of impeachment, coup threats and a worsening political crisis – not to mention the total breakdown of law under her rule - the presumptive president must hang on to the apron of the U.S., and its powerbroker in the Philippines, the AFP. Just like in the Marcos years, constitutional illegitimacy and the weakening of political institutions have led to the worsening of human rights violations.

Indeed, the issue of political murders is tied to the survival of the regime.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006


I just want you to know that I've spent many hours trying to access my own blog here, and finally have done it. With luck the OD will be back tomorrow. If it isn't, you will know that it is "out of order" again.

Monday, August 14, 2006


Twenty-three organizations and 100 individuals signed a resolution late last week at the Summit of Indigenous Nations at Bear Butte. The resolution, which will be sent to the Vatican for review, targets the Papal Bull Inter Caetera of 1493, in which Vatican officials urged Christopher Columbus to convert indigenous Americans to Catholicism (to put it very nicely).

An earlier Papal Bull is also targeted along with a 1496 British Royal Charter.

The papal bulls, still stand after more than 500 years and are the basis for ongoing patterns of subjugation that have been incorporated into federal Indian laws.

Also included is a 1452 decree issued by Pope Nicholas V which called upon Portugese King Alfonso "to invade, search out, capture, vanquish and subdue all Saracens and pagans,... and other enemies of Christ." Pope Nicholas also directed that the land and possessions of these people be taken away and that non-Christians be "reduced to perpetual slavery."

This document was followed by the 1493 Inter Cetera papal bull, issued by Pope Alexander VI, which decreed the pope's desire that "barbarous nations be overthrown" and those nations "discovered" be subjugated and reduced to the Catholic faith "to propogate the Christian religion." These decrees set the stage for 500 years of advocating warfare, rather than peace, against Native peoples and made it impossible for the Christian world to respect Native Nations of the Western hemisphere, he said.

These ancient doctrines serve as the foundation of federal Indian policy that denies Indian people their rights to ancestral homelands because they were not Christians when the Europeans first arrived.

"These ancient laws of Christendom were incorporated into an 1823 Supreme Court decision, Johnson v. McIntosh, which made a distinction between Christians and heathens," Steven Newcomb of the Indigenous Law Institute said during a panal discussion held at the Parliament of World Religions more than a decade ago. The term "heathen," he noted, was applied to persons whose religions were neither Christian, Jewish, or Moslem, which, of course, meant virtually all Native peoples.

"Why this is so critically important to Native people in the U.S., and to indigenous peoples (everywhere), is that in Johnson v. Mclntosh, the reasoning of the court was based upon a distinction between Christians and heathens, and the Doctrine of Discovery was formally written into the laws of the United States by the Supreme Court," he said.

"It said that the first Christian nation to 'discover' a land of heathens and infidels (beasts of prey) had the ultimate domination over those lands and that heathens only have right of occupancy."

In the Johnson v. McIntosh decision, Chief Justice John Marshall cited various charters of England to document acceptance of the Doctrines of Discovery and said European nations making such discoveries only had a legal obligation to recognize the "prior tide of any Christian people who may have made a previous discovery," according to Newcomb's research.

"In short, Christians had title, heathens only had occupancy," he said. "Few people realize that the U.S. Supreme Court's Christian/heathen distinction is still the Supreme Law of the land today."

"On that basis, the U.S. continues to deny that Indian people have a true right of property in their own ancestral homelands and that they have rights to complete sovereignty as independent nations."

“It is with much honor that I put my hand on this instrument,” Dennis Banks of the American Indian Movement said as he signed the resolution last week. “It’s at least part of a solution. It’s step one ... to pass this moment on to the next generation so they bear witness and we begin a new day.”

Oglala traditional chief Oliver Red Cloud was the first to sign Thursday afternoon, followed by Floyd Hand, an Oglala elder and treaty delegate, and then the various indigenous entities.

The following article comes from Indian Country Today.

Indigenous in Americas just say 'no' to papal bull © Indian Country
by: Brenda Norrell / Indian Country Today

Summit: Doctrine of Discovery was 'political fiction'

PHOENIX - Indigenous in the Americas are demanding that the ''doctrines of discovery,'' the papal bulls that led to the seizure of American Indian homelands, be rescinded.

At the Summit of Indigenous Nations on Bear Butte in South Dakota, delegations of indigenous nations and nongovernmental organizations passed a strongly worded resolution condemning the historical use of the doctrine of discovery as an instrument of genocide.

Tupac Enrique Acosta, coordinator at Tonatierra in Phoenix, said the effort at Bear Butte continues the indigenous battle to halt genocide of indigenous peoples and seizures of their homelands in the Americas.

Tonatierra was among the organizations at the Summit of Indigenous Nations taking action to rescind the doctrines of discovery: Papal Bull Inter Caetera of 1493 and the 1496 Royal Charter of the Church of England.

''The Indigenous Nations have resolved, here at the base of Mato Paha [Bear Butte], that the Pope of the Catholic Church and the Queen of England and the Archbishop of Canterbury rescind these doctrines of discovery for having served to justify and pave the way for the illegal dispossession of aboriginal land title and the subjugation of non-Christian peoples to the present day,'' according to the summit's statement.

Forty delegations of indigenous spiritual and political leaders, as well as NGOs, signed the resolution.

''These papal bulls have been the basis for the extinguishment of aboriginal land title and the subjugation of indigenous peoples of Abya Yala [North and South America]. The implementation of the papal bulls evolved in the United States through the Supreme Court decision of Johnson v. M'Intosh [1823] which established the precedent for the denial of aboriginal title to American Indian lands in the United States,'' according to the summit.

''It has been resolved by 23 Nations and NGO's and 100 individual signatories that the 'Doctrine of Discovery' is a legal and political fiction in violation of the rights of indigenous peoples and intellectual act of oppression which continues to serve to suppress and repress the indigenous peoples in the Western Hemisphere.''

From Ecuador at the Bear Butte gathering was Santiago Delacruz, vice president of CONAIE (Confederacion de Nacionalidades Indigenas del Ecuador/Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador). CONAIE is a formation of 28 indigenous nationalities and Pueblos of Ecuador.

''We have come from the southern part of this continent Abya Yala which we share with you all as indigenous nations of this hemisphere on a mission to strengthen and re-establish our ancestral ties as a continental confederation of nations and pueblos,'' he said.

Delacruz offered support for rescinding the papal bulls and support from the south for the protection of Bear Butte.

''It is with great concern that we have come to be informed of the threatened desecration of the Sacred Mato Paha, also known as Bear Butte, where we now gathered in summit as indigenous nations.

''This sacred area must not be allowed to be destroyed or desecrated by the proposed construction projects of 'biker bars' and the like,'' Delacruz said.

Enrique pointed out that the current demand that the papal bulls be eliminated represents a longtime global effort.

In May, at the United Nations in New York, the Continental Proclamation Abya Yala was presented at the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. The proclamation was ratified at the Continental Summit of Indigenous Peoples in Quito, Ecuador, in 2004, and in Mar de Plata, Argentina, in 2005.

The proclamation stated, ''That the Papal Bull Inter Caetera of Pope Alexander VI is hereby annulled, as well as whatever Doctrine of Discovery proceeding from which that pretends to deform the relationship of Harmony, Justice, and Peace of we the Indigenous Peoples of Humanity in its entirety.''

And earlier, at the United Nations in Geneva on Aug. 1, 1991, indigenous delegates discussing the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, convened by the Working Group on Indigenous People, also issued a statement to then-Pope John Paul II, chief of the Vatican.

The 1991 declaration stated, ''We demand from the Vatican state a denunciation of the unilateral treaty of Pope Alexander VI (Tordesillas) as being contrary to the Universal Human Rights of Peoples.

''Whereas the year 1993 completes 500 years of a supposed spiritual conquest without clear rectification of this universal injustice, allowing the nation-states that have benefited from the inheritance of Pope Alejandro VI to continue programmes of genocide and ethnocide, denying the indigenous people the recuperation of a harmony based on reciprocal human respect, we demand that the Papal Bull of May 3, 4, 1493 Inter Cetera be annulled.''

In Bear Butte in August, signatories on the declaration to rescind the papal bulls included a cross-section of indigenous and non-indigenous organizations and nations, including the Western Shoshone Defense Project, American Indian Law Alliance, American Indian Movement, Black Hills Sioux Nation Treaty Council by Chief Oliver Red Cloud and Oglala Delegate Floyd Hand, the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador, Bring Back the Way: Owe Aku and Tonatierra.

The Summit of Indigenous Nations was called in response to the development of several new biker venues located within five miles of the base of Bear Butte, near the Black Hills Mountains.

''Bear Butte is a sacred place of worship for over 30 Native American Nations across the Great Plains. The Native American Nations involved are asking for a minimum five-acre buffer zone of protection from commercial development around the sacred mountain,'' according to the summit.


Death penalty opponents rallied in Chicago Friday. They are demanding new trials for inmates who were tortured by former police commander Jon Burge.

"I know for a fact there are many men in prison that are innocent and deserve to be free," said Madison Hobley, torture victim.

Madison Hobley was pardoned after 13 years in jail because his confession was obtained through torture. Other victims remain in jail, including Stanley Howard, who joined the rally by phone.

The protestors call the recently released report on police torture "a whitewash." They say it is time to take a new look at all the cases handled by Burge.

The first article below is lifted from the Chicago Defender. The second is from the Chicago Sun times. For an earlier Oread Daily story on this subject go to

Activists continue to rally for justice, prosecution following release of Burge report
by Mema Ayi, Chicago Defender
August 14, 2006

Nearly a month after a report detailing police torture at Area 2 under former Lt. Jon Burge, protesters are calling for the prosecution of Burge and others who allegedly coerced confessions out of more than 100 Black men.

About three dozen activists rallied in Daley Plaza Friday, unsatisfied with the nearly 2,000 page report on torture released last month. Activists and victims of the alleged torture said the multi-million dollar investigation by special prosecutors Edward Egan and Robert Doyle did not bring justice to those who suffered as a result of Burge's heavy-handed techniques.

Alice Kim, spokeswoman for the Campaign to End the Death Penalty, compared the allegations of coerced confessions via torture at Areas 2 and 3 over more than 20 years to torture at Abu Graib.

"This is Abu Graib in Chicago. They don't care about Black people in Chicago. That's the message," Kim said.

Friday's rally, led by the Campaign to End the Death Penalty, allowed activists, torture victims and their families to tell their stories.

More than 160 Black men have alleged they were subject to suffocation, electric shock to the genitals and other body parts, as well as cigarette burns and other forms of torture meant to illicit confessions for felony acts between the early 1970s and early 1990s.

The special prosecutor's investigation found sufficient evidence to prosecute Burge and about 5 other officers in three of the allegations of police torture under Burge. However, the statute of limitations had run out on the alleged crimes.

Following the release of the report, it was found that Egan may have had a conflict of interest. His nephew worked as an officer under Burge, though Egan contends he has not spoken with the nephew in years.

Mayor Richard M. Daley, who served as Cook County State's Attorney during the time many of the allegations were made, apologized after the Burge report was released last month.

The Chicago Police Department, he said, has taken measures to ensure such activity never happens again, the mayor said.

But Kim called Daley's apology flip, and added that he and his then-assistant, now State's Attorney, Dick Devine, should also be prosecuted for ignoring allegations of torture under Burge.

Joey Mogul, an attorney with the People's Law Office, which has represented many of the alleged torture victims, said while people are disappointed, angry and even outraged at the report, the movement for justice will continue.

"It defies logic not to prosecute Burge. And it defies logic not to hold Daley and Devine accountable," Mogul said.

Though the statute of limitations may have run out on many of the acts of torture, many of the officers involved in the alleged torture could also be prosecuted for perjury, she added.

"They testified the torture never occurred. Those are crimes of perjury," Mogul said.

The 24 men still serving time for crimes they were tortured into confessing to, Mogul said, deserve a commitment of reparations from the state as well as counseling.

Mayoral candidate Bill "Dock" Walls, who also attended the rally, agreed those who served prison time after they were tortured into confessions, should be compensated for their lost time.

"We have to demand (Gov. Rod) Blagojevich pardon and exonerate those men," Walls said.

Though the release of the report resulted in no prosecutions, Mogul said her office and other activists will continue to fight for justice for those men who alleged they were tortured by Chicago Police.

"They wanted this to be the last pages in this book, but this is not the last chapter," Mogul said. "We will continue to litigate and organize until justice is done."

Not too late for charges in torture cases

This much cannot be contested: Jon Graham Burge was a sadistic Chicago cop who got his jollies by routinely and systematically torturing black men. Cmdr. Burge and his midnight crew at Area 2 tortured more than 100 men over two decades. In some cases, Burge and his detectives tortured the old-fashioned way, using flashlights, blackjacks and telephone books. Many other times they went above and beyond the call of cruelty, hand-cranking a telephone box that generated an electrical current, then putting it to the genitals and rectums of their African-American victims.

These accusations of torture have been an open secret for nearly three decades throughout much of Chicago's criminal justice system. I remember hearing rumors of suspects being tortured when I briefly covered Criminal Court at 26th and California in the late '70s. The Report of the Special State's Attorney, released late last month, dismissed any doubts. Edward Egan, who led the four-year, $6.2 million investigation, found that in the '70s and '80s, Burge and his men tortured suspects into making confessions. The report concluded that the statute of limitations has expired, making it too late to file charges against the bad cops.

This is what must be contested: that time has run out for anybody to do some time for committing or covering up this series of barbaric crimes. The sadistic torture may have ended when Burge was fired 15 years ago, but there was then and there is now a blueprint for whitewashing the two-decades-long actions of Burge and his boys.

Think of it as the everlasting Three-Monkey dodge: see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil. This is how it worked as a wink-and-nod conspiracy. The police officers at Area 2 didn't hear the screams of detainees as Burge and his midnight crew worked them over in the basement. They didn't see the body burns and bruises after the suspects emerged singing confessions like lovesick canaries. They followed the code of silence if one of them happened to spot the black box used to shock the prisoners when the door to the torture chamber swung open.

The prosecutors in the Cook County state's attorney's offices didn't see the repeated motions from defense attorneys to suppress evidence because their clients had been coerced to confess to a crime they did not commit. The prosecutors in the state's attorney's office saw no reason to investigate the steady stream of cries from civil rights and defense attorneys that the suspects' constitutional rights were being violated. All this went on even when the state's attorney was Richard M. Daley and his No. 2 guy was Dick Devine. Both men managed to see nothing -- except maybe that letter from then-Police Supt. Richard Brzeczek asking them how to handle torture allegations by prisoner Andrew Wilson -- or hear nothing and therefore had nothing to say.

Even after Daley became mayor and Devine took his boss' old job, both men remain in the Three-Monkey stage. Both had plenty of opportunities to check out the truthfulness of the charges. Neither did. Maybe they'll get around to it before the next election. Burge and his detectives have continued to lie under oath, denying that anybody got tortured at any time.

The one thing the Watergate and Monica Lewinski scandals taught us is that it's not the crime, but the cover-up that gets you. So here's one more item for Patrick J. Fitzgerald to put on his to-do list: Check to see if former State's Attorney Richard M. Daley, like the current mayor, Richard M. Daley in the city's patronage hiring scandal, was a bad manager with a bad memory or is a bad liar with ethics to match.

Civil rights attorney Flint Taylor is calling for a federal investigation, pointing out the cover-up, conspiracy and perjury while arguing that statutes of limitations don't expire as long as the obstruction of justice and conspiracy continues. That's an argument federal and local prosecutors use all the time while pursuing criminals.

Taylor says Fitzgerald should use the same federal prosecutorial philosophy that sent Al Capone to jail, not for murder and bootlegging, but for failure to pay taxes on his ill-gotten gains.

If the muckraking federal prosecutor listens, then we'll see if what's good for the criminal will be good for those in the criminal justice system as well.