Friday, April 13, 2007


Just want to update the Posada story.

The AP reports that an appeals court Thursday blocked anti-Castro Cuban militant Luis Posada Carriles' release from jail just as he began the process to be freed on $250,000 bond.

The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans issued the order after he had already been transferred from the Otero County, N.M., jail to the federal courthouse in El Paso to sign paperwork that would have freed him.

Posada, 79, was escorted back to New Mexico, wearing a red prison uniform and shackled at the at the waist and feet.

Carriles' lawyers will have at least until Tuesday to respond to the court order. Carriles, 79, a former CIA operative trained by the US for the failed anti-Castro Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961, was arrested in 2005 for illegally entering the United States.

Posada Carriles was about to be released when the US Fifth Circuit of Appeals granted prosecutors an emergency stay to have more time "to explore the possibility to appeal the ruling," the Department of Justice federal police indicated.

The decision came on the heels of a massive and energetic protest island-wide in Cuba yesterday against the ruling by a judge in El Paso, Texas to release on bail international terrorist Luis Posada Carriles. The Cuban News Agency ACN reported that in eastern Granma province people held protest rallies at work centers, schools and public places. In the central eastern province of Ciego de Avila, University students and professors also condemned the ruling. In western Pinar del Rio province, a massive rally took place in the areas of the Abel Santamar'a hospital.

Meanwhile, Venezuelan Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro urged the US government to extradite the terrorist.

Maduro called for the government of President George W. Bush to fulfil the Extradition Treaty signed with Venezuela, thus allowing the Cuba-born terrorist to be tried for the killing of the 73 people on board a bombed Cuban plane.


Iraqi lesbians and gays continue to be subjected a systematic reign of terror by Shia death squads.

“The government of Iraq refuses to crack down on the killers or to take any action to protect its gay citizens. It is a regime that is dominated by Shia fanatics and homophobes,” Ali Hili, the coordinator of the human rights group Iraqi LGBT told UK Gay News.

“Supporters of the fundamentalist Sadr and Badr militias boast that they are cleansing Iraq of what they call ‘sexual perverts’. They are open about terrorising gay Iraqis to make them flee the country and murdering those who fail to leave. Their goal is a queer-free, pro-homophobic Iraq. They are dragging our country back to the dark ages,” said the London-based Hili, who is also Middle East spokesperson for the gay human rights group, OutRage!

“Some members of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s government are linked to the anti-gay death squads. They are the political representatives of the Muqtada al-Sadr movement and the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI). Both these parties have militias, respectively the Mahdi army and the Badr brigades, who are responsible for the execution-style killing of lesbian and gay Iraqis – and the murder of many other Iraqis, including Sunni Muslims, trade unionists, unveiled women, journalists and men wearing shorts, jeans or western-style haircuts.

“The murder of gay Iraqis has the support of highly influential religious leaders, such as Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani. He issued a fatwa in late 2005, calling for the execution of gay people in the ‘most severe way possible’. After international protests, he removed the fatwa from his website, but the fatwa itself has not been rescinded. It remains in force and is the spiritual sanction for the death squads to murder gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people,” said Hili.

Recently an Iraqi government spokesperson Ali al-Dabbagh rejected a UN report on death squad activities becasue it included attacks of gays and lesbians.

"There was information in the report that we cannot accept here in Iraq. The report, for example, spoke about the phenomenon of homosexuality and giving them their rights," al-Dabbagh said. "Such statements are not suitable to the Iraqi society. This is rejected."

"They should respect the values and traditions here in Iraq," he said.

The following is from Gay City News.

Iraq: New Murders of Gays

Iraqi LGBT - the London-based group with a network of members and supporters inside Iraq that documents anti-gay violence - last week released details on the latest series of murders of Iraqi gays by fanatical Islamist death squads.

At the same time, the group said lack of money will force it to close two of the six safe houses it maintains in Iraq for gay Iraqis who have been threatened with death and forced to flee their homes. And the group's coordinator has himself been targeted for death by an anti-gay fatwa.

"I received a death fatwa targeting me and sent to my personal e-mail address last month," Ali Hili, the 33-year-old gay Iraqi exile who is the full-time volunteer coordinator of Iraqi LGBT, told Gay City News by telephone from London. "It came from the official headquarters of Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani in Qum, Iran, and was stamped with his signature."

The 78-year-old Sistani, the Iranian-born and educated cleric who is the spiritual leader of all Iraqi Shia Muslims, issued an infamous fatwa calling for death for all gays and all lesbians in "the most severe way possible" in October 2005. That fatwa, or religiously-inspired legal pronouncement, led to the deployment of anti-gay death squads by the Badr Corps, the military arm of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), the most powerful political Shia group in that nation and the cornerstone of the current Iraqi government. The Badr Corps was integrated into the Iraqi Interior Ministry last fall, and its members now wear police uniforms and are able to operate with full police powers.

Gay City News first broke the story about the systematic murder of Iraqi gays in March 2006 (see this reporter's article, "Shia Death Squads Target Iraqi Gays-U.S. Indifferent," March 23-29, 2006).

Hili, who was the subject of a lengthy profile by David France in the February issue of GQ Magazine, said the fatwa targeting him, which demanded that he "repent" his homosexuality or face killing, was dated February 5 and received by Hili shortly after his brother, who was not gay but had been helping Iraqi LGBT and received death threats for his activism, was murdered in Baghdad.

"I reported this death threat against me to the Metropolitan London Police, and am now under their protection," said Hili, who is also the Middle East spokesman for the militant British gay rights group OutRage.

"Our ability to report on the assassinations of gays in Iraq by the death squads has increased in the last few months as word of our Iraqi LGBT group has spread among Iraqi gays, both by Internet and by word of mouth," Hili explained. "That means we now have contacts, supporters, and members in a number of cities, for example in the south of Iraq, which we didn't have a year ago."

Iraqi LGBT reported it had documented the following new murders, which Hili told Gay City News are "only the tip of the iceberg:"

*Anwar, a 34-year-old taxi driver, was a member of Iraqi LGBT and had helped run one of the group's safe houses in Najaf. After he was stopped at a police checkpoint and arrested in January this year, he disappeared. His body was found in March, and he had been subjected to an execution-style killing;

*Nouri, a 29-year-old tailor in Karbala, had received many death threats by letter and phone accusing him of leading a gay life. He was kidnapped in February, and found dead a few days later, his body mutilated and his head severed;

*Hazim, a 21-year-old Baghdadi who was well-known to be gay, received death threats because of his homosexuality, and was seized in his home in February by police on an arrest warrant accusing him of leading "a scandalous life" because of his homosexuality. Hazim's body was subsequently found with several gunshots to the head, and his family was forced to leave their home in fear;

*Khalid, a 19-year-old student who lived in the al-Kadomya district of Baghdad, was kidnapped in December 2006. Last month, his family received a phone call from police telling them to reclaim Khalid's body from the Baghdad morgue - where they found the body had been tortured and burned;

*Sayf, a gay 25-year-old, worked as a translator for the Iraqi police. He was kidnapped in February in Baghdad's Al-Adhamya suburb by men in Ministry of Interior uniforms who were driving a vehicle bearing police markings, but wearing black head masks. Several days later, Sayf's body was discovered, with his head cut off;

*Hasan Sabeh, a 34-year-old transvestite who was also known as Tamara, worked in the fashion industry designing women's clothes. Hasan, who lived in the al-Mansor district of Baghdad, was seized in the street by an Islamist death squad and hanged in public on January 11, a Shia holy day, and his body was then mutilated and cut to pieces. When Hasan's brother-in-law tried to defend him, he was murdered too;

*Rami, a 29-year old Basra shopkeeper, was the subject of rumors widely circulated in his neighborhood saying he was gay. He was kidnapped, and his dead body was found in January;

*Khaldoon, a 45-year-old gay man who worked as a chef, lived in the majority Shia Baghdad district of al-Hurriya. He was kidnapped in November 2006 by the Mahdi Army - the armed militia of extremist Shia cleric Hojatoleslam Moqtada al-Sadr (who is now in hiding and, according to the Times of London, believed to be in Iran), whose death squads have also been executing gays. In February this year, Khaldon's decaying corpse was found.

Occasionally, some victims of the Islamist extremists have been able to buy their survival. Hamid, a 44-year-old bisexual man from Baghdad's al-Talibya district, was kidnapped twice by the Sadrist militia. The first time, in April 2006, he, his nephew, and his brother were all nabbed and tortured. They were members of a very large extended Sunni family, which paid a huge ransom to same their lives. Hamid was kidnapped a second time in November 2006 after an informant reported to police and the Sadrist militia that he was suspected of being gay and drinking alcohol. He was held in a large office building in Sadr City - a poor Baghdad suburb and Sadrist stronghold named after Moqtada al-Sadr's father, a prominent Grand Ayatollah - along with other detainees, mostly Sunnis and Christians. Hamid was again ransomed, and is now in hiding, a rare survivor of the Sadrist militia's interrogation centers.

Heterosexual friends of gays are also executed. This happened to Majid Sahi, a 28-year-old civil engineer who was not gay but had been helping Iraqi LGBT members in Baghdad. Majid was abducted from his home by Badr Corps members, and his family was told he was kidnapped because of his "immoral behavior" in helping Iraqi gays. His body was found with bullet wounds to the back of his head on February 23, 2007.

"These killings and kidnappings are hit-and run, and most of the information we have been able to confirm says they are carried out by people wearing police uniforms and riding in police cars," Hili told Gay City News. "It's become a pattern."

Hili said he and a handful of volunteers - all gay Iraqis in exile - telephone Iraq at least three times a week to collect and confirm information about the murders of gays.

"The phone is safer for our communications with Iraq than the Internet, which can be easily monitored, and also it's hard to have Internet access for most Iraqis - it's expensive, and phone connections to the Internet are often very poor," Hili recounted.

A January Human Rights Report of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI) confirmed the organized "assassinations of homosexuals" in Iraq (see this reporter's article, "U.N. Confirms Iraqi Gay Killings," January 25).

The report said UNAMI had been "alerted to the existence of religious courts, supervised by clerics, where alleged homosexuals would be 'tried,' 'sentenced' to death, and then executed."

The UNAMI report added, "The trials, presided over by young, inexperienced clerics, are held... in ordinary halls. Gays and rapists face anything from 40 lashes to the death penalty... One of the self-appointed judges in Sadr City believes that homosexuality is on the wane in Iraq. 'Most [gays] have been killed and others have fled,' he said. Indeed, the number who have sought asylum in the U.K. has risen noticeably over the last few months... [This judge] insists the religious courts have 'a lot to be proud of. We now represent a society that asked us to protect it not only from thieves and terrorists but also from these [bad] deeds.'"

Hili told Gay City News, "There are lots of these courts run by self-appointed clerics, both Sadrist and from SCIRI, operating in neighborhoods in Baghdad like Sadr City and al-Shola and even more in the south, in Najaf, Kerbala, and Basra. And one of the few points on which Sunnis and Shias are united is hatred of homosexuals. We've even tried to contact Christian churches in Iraq, but they, too, are so homophobic it's unbelievable. I thought maybe they'd have a little charity, but they hate us too. I have Christian gay friends who have tried to seek help from their churches in Iraq and have been refused."

Hili described the difficult decision Iraqi LGBT faces in closing two of its six safe houses, for lack of funds.

"They are told to repent and change their ways or else be killed," he said of the men who have fled their homes to seek refuge at the locations provided by Iraqi LGBT. "We currently have two safe houses in Baghdad, one in Diwaniya - a large city an hour and a half south of Baghdad - and also one each further south in Nasiriiya, Basra, and Najaf. We've reluctantly decided we have to close two of the safe houses in the south by the end of this month, because we can't pay the rent for May and June. And we have to pay for food, healthcare, and medications for the guys, gas, electricity, telephones, and so on. We're just of money."

Hili sadly added, "We are considering trying to move the guys in those southern safe houses to the place we use for our office in Baghdad, which means they'll be far from their families."

Iraqi LGBT does not yet have a bank account, Hili noted.

"Operating an LGBT account in Baghdad would be suicide - and all our group's members in London are Iraqi refugees seeking asylum status, so their lack of proper legal status makes it difficult for them to open a bank account," he explained.

That is why, if you want to help Iraqi gays, you are asked that your checks be made payable to OutRage, with a cover note marked "For Iraqi LGBT," and sent to OutRage, P.O. Box 17816, London SW14 8WT, England. OutRage then forwards the contributions to Hili and Iraqi LGBT for wire transfer to Baghdad. Hili said the Iraqi LGBT Web site at will shortly have a PayPal link for direct contributions to the organization by credit card.


The following piece was written by our friend Bill Berkowitz. It appeared on Talk to Action. "Talk To Action is an online publication, and a forum for discussion, that is focused with unparalleled intensity on the rise of the Christian right as a social and political force - and on what those who are opposed to that movement can do to counter it."

Santorum's Filmmaking Jihad Against the Left
By Bill Berkowitz

According to recent published reports, former Pennsylvania Republican Senator Rick Santorum - thoroughly defeated in November by Bob Casey, Jr. -- is planning two documentary film projects to "tell the other side of the story." What story is he talking about? According to The Morning Call Online, the projects are aimed at "counter[ing] what [Santorum] characterized as the stream of left-wing documentaries coming from Hollywood and independent filmmakers."

The newspaper reported that Santorum first project "would explore the relationship between radical Islam and the radical leftists in various countries around the world, including Latin America. It would be about an hour in length. The second would be a longer, broader documentary that he said would aim to 'change the culture of America.' He declined to go into specifics about the proposal."

'Politics and political dialogue has some impact on America but changing the culture has a much bigger impact'

"Politics and political dialogue has some impact on America but changing the culture has a much bigger impact," Santorum said about his documentary making enterprise. "That is what the left is doing and doing it in a big way, producing a lot of left content for Hollywood, and even not just out of Hollywood. Even independent films are now more and more left-wing driven, whether it is Michael Moore or Al Gore. Someone has to go out there and tell them the other side of the story."

Santorum, who has also signed on with Fox News as a regular contributor, also announced in an e-mail to supporters on Thursday, April 12, that his political action committee will soon launch a new Web site with "thought-provoking and sometimes controversial video," the Associated Press reported.

According to AP, "the videos will focus on `our nation's enemies and the threats they pose to us,' said Santorum....The site will also inform viewers of what presidential and congressional candidates he supports, he said.

Now ensconced as a Senior Fellow at the Washington, D.C.-based Ethics and Public Policy Center, Santorum spent the final weeks on his campaign delivering a speech titled `Gathering Storm of the 21st Century." "In it," AP reported, "he described alleged terror plots and said the U.S. must pay attention to escalating threats from countries such as Iran, Venezuela and North Korea."

In the e-mail Santorum wrote:

We cannot underestimate the threats we face from those who wish to do us harm. Hugo Chavez in Venezuela, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Iran, and North Korea's Kim Jong-il are committed to destroying the West and the freedoms we hold dear. Many would rather ignore these obvious realities, but I will not. And now that I am out of elected office, I have found that there is more than one road that I can walk down in order to raise awareness about these issues.

Santorum also "criticized the Democratic-controlled Senate for passing legislation that he said would force retreat from Iraq without regard for conditions on the ground," AP reported. "I will not sit back quietly as weak senators continue to take positions simply to satisfy the liberal left." "will also be the place where you can stay informed about what I am up to on all fronts," Santorum wrote. "You were a steadfast friend and supporter during my campaigns and I hope you'll stay connected to America's Foundation in the months and years ahead. I promise that this will be the place where you'll see serious and stimulating video about the challenges confronting our country, read blog posts from me on politics of the day and find interesting `must read' articles."

Thursday, April 12, 2007


Rev Amos Campbell, a pastor whose church was attacked by an angry mob on Easter Sunday because of the presence at a funeral service of gays told the Jamaica Observer the violence reflected the dangerously high level of intolerance in Jamaican society.

The 3:00 pm funeral service was for 30 year-old businessman Kirk Wayne Lester who was found dead with multiple stab wounds on March 18. Campbell said the church service took place despite the "disturbance on the outside" and interment took place later as planned at Oak Lawn in Manchester.

Sunday's incident came only three days after the beating of three alleged homosexuals along the popular Gloucester Avenue Hip Strip in Montego Bay, further underlining Jamaica's reputation as being among the globe's most homophobic societies.

International human rights organisations have described Jamaica as one of the most homophobic places in the world. Homophobic violence is widespread on the island; fuelled by the anti-gay hatred that is daily spewed from church pulpits, newspaper columns, dancehall music and radio stations.

And it ain't just gay men who are the targets of hate.

According to a 2004 report from the London-based charity Asylum Aid, one woman who appeared on a television show to speak (from behind a screen) about the persecution she had endured because of her sexuality was verbally abused and assaulted. “The following day, a co-worker who had recognised her voice went as far as beating her up,” states the report. “Other women suspected of being lesbians have been raped and chased out of their homes and communities.”

And it ain't just Jamaica.

Jamaica may be the worst offender, but much of the rest of the Caribbean, reported Time magazine last year, also has a long history of intense homophobia. Islands like Barbados still criminalize homosexuality, and some seem to be following Jamaica's more violent example.

On the tiny islands of Guadeloupe and Martinique, French territories in the eastern Caribbean, rampant homophobia goes unchecked. Guadeloupean pop singer Admiral T and his musical confrère from Martinique, Lieutenant, have made big names for themselves regionally by peddling vicious, anti-gay "entertainment."

Meanwhile, Christian groups on the Caribbean island of Tobago are calling for Elton John to be nixed from an upcoming concert because of his sexual oreintation.

All this homophobia has also, of course, impacted the spread of HIV disease. The Carribean Islands have the second highest rate of infection after sub-Saharan Africa.

Discrimination by employers and others is so pervasive that infected people often delay seeking treatment for the virus, still largely perceived as a "gay disease" by many in the region, said officials at a recent one-day Caribbean Summit on HIV-AIDS in St. Croix.

"It's going to be a political challenge because, unfortunately, we live in a society that is very homophobic," said Douglas Slater, health minister for St. Vincent and the Grenadines. "It's something we are going to have to overcome."

The following is from Pink News.

Homophobic violence at Jamaica funeral

A funeral service in the Carribean island of Jamaica has been disrupted by a mob attempting to attack a group of mourners.

The Easter Sunday funeral of Kirk Wayne Lester, a Jamaican businessman, was attended by "gay cross-dressers," reports Real Jamaica Radio.

A mob surrounded the church and attacked people thought to be gay with knives, stones and bottles.

Missiles where thrown through the windows.

The island's gay rights movement, the Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, All Sexuals and Gays (J-Flag), is forced to operate underground and anonymously.

It called on police to find the people who attacked the church in Mandeville.

Pressure group Jamaicans for Justice agreed that a urgent police investigation is needed.

JFJ said it is deeply disturbed by yet another incident involving mob violence against gay people latest incident is particularly daring because it occurred during a church service.

In February three gay men were stoned by a huge mob in a homophobic attack in Jamaica.

Police came to rescue the men from a pharmacy in Saint Andrew Parish, where they had been hiding for almost an hour.

An angry crowd had gathered outside the pharmacy, hurling insults and threatening to kill the men.

When the police arrived, the mob demanded the men be handed over to them.

The police tried to escort the men to their car, but the crowd began to throw stones at the objects of their hate, hitting one of them on the head.

Finally, officers were forced to disperse the crowd with tear gas. According to the Jamaica Observer, as many as 2000 people were involved in the attack.

International human rights organisations have described Jamaica as one of the most homophobic places in the world.

Gay and lesbian relationships are largely conducted in secret.

Sex between men in Jamaica is illegal, and punishable with up to ten years in jail, usually with hard labour.

In December 2003, a World Policy Institute survey on sexual orientation and human rights in the Americas said that:

"In the Caribbean, Jamaica is by far the most dangerous place for sexual minorities, with frequent and often fatal attacks against gay men fostered by a popular culture that idolises reggae and dancehall singers whose lyrics call for burning and killing gay men.

"Draconian laws against sexual activity between members of the same sex continue to be in force not only in Jamaica, but in most of the English-speaking Caribbean."

According to Amnesty International, the gay and lesbian community in Jamaica faces "extreme prejudice" and are ‘routinely victims of ill-treatment and harassment by the police, and occasionally of torture."

Amnesty has highlighted the growing problem of vigilante action against gays and lesbians – Wednesday was just one example of this.

In 2004, the organisation revealed that "gay men and lesbian women have been beaten, cut, burned, raped and shot on account of their sexuality," and that they are one of the "most marginalised and persecuted communities in Jamaica."

Political parties have ignored the issue of gay rights. Indeed, homophobia is flourishing amongst politicians and the police.

For example, opposition leader Bruce Golding vowed last year that "homosexuals would find no solace in any cabinet formed by him."


Some nurses in North Carolina are trying to get their licensing board to make a statement halting the participation of nurses in executions.

"It is clearly against our code of ethics,'' said Raleigh nurse Cynthia Gallion, who has collected more than 80 signatures on a petition urging the nursing board to act.

The American Nurses Association (ANA) is already on record as strongly opposed to nurse participation in capital punishment.
"Participation in executions is viewed as contrary to the fundamental goals and ethical traditions of the profession."

The statement from the ANA made way back in 1994 states:
Historically, the role of the nurse has been to promote, preserve and protect human life. The ANA Code for Nurses with Interpretive Statements (Code for Nurses) is grounded in the basic principles of respect for persons, the non-infliction of harm and fidelity to recipients of nursing care. The Code for Nurses, nursing's ethical code of conduct, stipulates that "the nurse does not act deliberately to terminate the life of any person." The obligation to refrain from causing death is longstanding and should not be breached even when legally sanctioned. Participation in capital punishment is inconsistent with these ethical precepts and the goals of the profession. The ANA is strongly opposed to all forms of participation, by whatever means, whether under civil or military legal authority. Nurses should refrain from participation in capital punishment and not take part in assessment, supervision or monitoring of the procedure or the prisoner; procuring, prescribing or preparing medications or solutions; inserting the intravenous catheter; injecting the lethal solution; and attending or witnessing the execution as a nurse. The fact that capital punishment is currently supported in many segments of society does not override the obligation of nurses to uphold the ethical mandates of the profession. The ANA recognizes that the endorsement of the death penalty remains a personal decision and that individual nurses may have views that are different from the official position of the profession. Regardless of the personal opinion of the nurse on the appropriateness of capital punishment, it is a breach of the ethical traditions of nursing, and the Code for Nurses to participate in taking life of any person.

A joint statement from The American Medical Association, The American Nurses Association, The American Public Health Association made on Sept. 13, 1996 read:

Participation in executions contradicts the fundamental role of the health care professional as healer and comforter. It threatens the integrity of the relationship prison health care professional and their prisoner patients.

Seven years ago the New Jersey State Nurses Association wrote:

...emphatically believes that participation by a nurse in any form of killing, however painless, is a blatant violation of the social contract between the nurse and the client, the Nursing Practice Act of the State of New Jersey and the Code for Nurses of the American Nurses’ Association.

The N.C. Nurses Association plans to discuss the issue at a meeting this month, although its position would not be binding on the licensing board.

It seems pretty clear to me. The whole concept of nurses participating in executions seems to me to be against everything nursing stands for.

The following is from the Sun News in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

Some nurses want ban on execution role

A group of nurses who have asked their licensing board to adopt an ethics policy prohibiting them from participating in executions must take their case to the legislature, a spokesman for the N.C. Board of Nursing said.

A few nurses are urging the board to follow the example set by the state medical board, which in earlier this year threatened to punish any physician who participates in an execution.

"It is clearly against our code of ethics," said Raleigh nurse Cynthia Gallion, who has collected more than 80 signatures on a petition urging the nursing board to act.

But David Kalbacker, a spokesman for the nursing board, said the board can't discipline a nurse who takes part in an execution unless lawmakers amend the Nursing Practice Act so that it prohibited such an action.

"We have to make a legislative change," Kalbacker said. "We can't make an announcement."

Such a change to the state's Medical Practice Act wasn't required for the medical board, which has the power under state law to discipline doctors who fail to comply with its ethics policies.

Gallion said she plans to ask the board to approach the legislature, but she may be out of time.

The deadline for the introduction of legislation has passed in the Senate.

In the House, the deadline is April 18, less than a week away.

The medical board's declaration that any doctor who participates in an execution violates medical ethics and could face sanction triggered a series of legal actions that effectively shut down the state's capital punishment system. The state attorney general's office tried and failed to resolve the dispute outside of court, and later sued.

The N.C. Nurses Association, a professional organization that does not license and discipline nurses, once barred nurses from participating in executions.

But the group changed that policy in 2003 and now leaves the decision up to the individual nurse.

It does, however, oppose prison officials requiring that nurses participate in executions as part of their jobs.

The issue has arisen again and been referred to the commission on standards and practices, which next meets April 30, said Tina Gordon, the association's executive director.

State law does not require that a nurse attend an execution.

However, court records and depositions from prison officials indicate that at least two nurses have been present at the past several executions.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007


The same judge who just stated Luis Posada Carriles is "associated with some of the most infamous events of twentieth-century, Central American politics..." is about to set him free just a few days after she ruled he should be given bond, the Miami Herald is reporting.

As Cuba's Granma reacting to the earlier ruling by the judge last week put it:

Throwing together in one sentence the "Bay of Pigs invasion, the Iran-Contra Affair, the 1976 bombing of Cubana Flight 455, the tourist bombings of 1997 in Havana, and even – according to some conspiracy theorists – the assassination of President John F. Kennedy," the judge abruptly affirms that his possible relation to those events has nothing to do with the current case.

Granma went on:

In one paragraph at least astonishing, Cardone (the judge) assesses that "the nature and circumstances of the offense" with which he is charged "weigh in favor of Defendant."

"He is not charged, in this or any indictment, with a crime of violence or other crimes which directly involve the immediate safety of the community," she writes.

Then she goes further: "The Court finds that the history and characteristics of Defendant weigh in his favor."

By coincidence (?), the decision earlier ordering Luis Posada's release on bond comes on the tenth anniversary of a wave of terrorist attacks on Cuban tourist facilities in Havana, one of which took the life of Italian Fabio Di Celmo and wounded several Cubans. Posada has boasted of planning the attacks.

Fidel Castro said after last week's ruling, "...we share the tragedy of the American people and their ethical values. The instructions for the verdict issued by Judge Kathleen Cardone, of the El Paso Federal Court last Friday, granting Luis Posada Carriles freedom on bail, could only have come from the White House."

The president of Venezuela´s National Assembly, Cilia Flores, asked female parliamentarians of the world to condemn US protection of Cuban-born terrorist Luis Posada Carriles.

During a meeting with lawmakers attending the 14th World Congress of the Women´s International Democratic Federation (WIDF), Flores criticized the US court ruling that granted bail to the criminal.

The decision is the absolute responsibility by the White House, whose negligent performance in the case has brought as a consequence the Court's failure, said lawyer Jose Pertierra, who represents the Venezuela government in Posada Carriles' extradition process.

In an interview with CounterPunch Pertierra said during the whole immigration proceedings against Posada, it was obvious that the United States had an interest in appearing to do something with respect to Posada while in reality doing the minimum possible.

"I believe there is an understanding, not written, but an understanding between the government and Posada, that he will be treated well by the United States while he is in U.S. territory, in exchange for Posada not saying all that he could about the U.S. intelligence services. Keep in mind that Posada, by his own admission, is an individual who worked with the CIA since at least 1962."

She added, "Therefore, it does not surprise me that the United States is doing the minimum to maintain Posada in prison, because it is not politically wise for them to free him, but they will not extradite nor try him for murder."

In the courtroom last week amongst Posada's supporters were Ernesto Díaz Rodríguez, chief of the Alpha 66 terrorist group. Alpha 66 has a history of acts of terrorism against Cuba spanning more than 40 years.

Díaz Rodríguez subsequently commented publicly on the hearing during a Miami radio program along with Mafia lawyer Arturo Hernández Hernández, Posada’s defense attorney.

During the hearing, Hernández emphasized according to Political Afairs that Posada Carriles can count upon "important sympathizers in the Cuban exile community in Miami" who have signed petitions for him, without commenting on the presence of notorious terrorists in the campaign organized for those purposes.

The U.S. Attorney in the case "affirmed" that the United States lacks jurisdiction to try Posada for the attack on the Cubana Aviation airplane in 1976. Surprisingly, the district attorney appeared to ignore the fact that the U.S. government signed the Convention for the Repression of Illicit Acts against Civil Aviation in 1971 and the International Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Bombings, in effect since 2001.

A letter earlier this week from relatives of those who died thanks to terrorist acts furthered by Posada read:

If the government of the United States does not wish to try Posada Carriles as a terrorist, we demand it agree to grant the request for extradition made by the Bolivarian government of Venezuela...It is not ethical to unleash wars against terrorism, provoking the deaths of thousands of citizens in distant parts of the world while sheltering in its own territory terrorists who are self-confessed and still active.

The father of an Italian killed in the airline bombing said, ""Before me, I see blood, blood and more blood."

Dora Lidia Garzon, 75, is one of the Cuban mothers who have suffered since October 1976 when her son was killed along another 72 people on board a Cubana airliner, which was bombed in mid air off the coast of Barbados by orders of the terrorist Posada. She says that the only thing she wants to see before dying is that justice has been done in the case of Posada Carriles.

"What kind of manoeuvre by the US government will come next when Posada faces trial in May?"she sceptically asks. The Mathaba news site says she also asks if those in charge of judging Posada Carriles have children and know what losing a full of life 19-year-old son means.

"I'm outraged," said Iliana Alfonso, whose father was among those killed on the Cubana de Aviacion flight that exploded off Barbados. "In the United States, they are talking about good terrorism and bad terrorism. To me, all terrorism is bad."

The following is just in from the Miami Herald.

Posada closer to release on bond

Luis Posada Carriles Cuban exile militant Luis Posada Carriles could be released as early as today from a jail in New Mexico near the Texas border if U.S. authorities don't take immediate action to appeal his bond or place him in immigration detention.

Posada took one step closer to moving to Miami on a $350,000 bond as he awaits trial on immigration fraud charges in a Texas federal court.

Posada's release from jail could be imminent, thanks to yet another ruling by U.S. District Judge Kathleen Cardone. She rejected the U.S. government's request to reconsider her recent decision on Posada's bond and to hold another hearing to reassess the sufficiency of his bail.

Justice Department lawyers argued in vain that the former CIA operative could flee the country to evade his May 11 trial if his bond is not set higher.

A Justice Department spokesman declined to say what prosecutors might do. ''We're weighing our options on whether to appeal,'' said Dean Boyd.

Posada's Miami lawyer, Arturo Hernandez, was poised to post his client's bond and seek his immediate release. ''We're going to proceed in accordance with the court's order,'' Hernandez said.

Meanwhile, an advocacy group that has condemned the 79-year-old anti-Castro militant as a ''terrorist'' said he should not be released. Instead, Free the Cuban Five -- named after a group of Cuban men convicted of being spies for Fidel Castro -- said Posada should be charged with terrorism in U.S. courts or extradited to Venezuela.

In 1985, Posada escaped from prison in Venezuela after his arrest in connection with the 1976 bombing of a Cuban airliner that killed 73 people. He is wanted by Venezuelan authorities.

''We demand that the U.S. government cease protecting the terrorist Luis Posada Carriles,'' Odalys Perez Rodriguez, daughter of the Cuban airliner's captain, said in a telephone press conference held by Free the Cuban Five.

''We demand that the U.S. government indict [him] as a terrorist,'' she added. ``We demand that if the U.S. government doesn't want to try [him] as a terrorist, then the U.S. government should extradite him to Venezuela.''

In addition, Posada has been accused of -- but not charged with -- masterminding tourist site bombings in Havana that killed an Italian in 1997. A federal grand jury is investigating that case.

''Luis Posada Carriles is a terrorist, and the U.S. government has refused to define him as so,'' said Livio di Celmo of Montreal, whose brother, Fabio di Celmo, was killed in one bombing attack in Havana a decade ago. ``This [release on bond] is an insult to my brother and the other victims of terrorism.''

Posada's mere presence -- and possible release -- in the United States has stirred controversy for the federal government.

The latest legal maneuvering by the Justice Department's counterterrorism lawyers reveals their tough stand to keep the controversial exile figure behind bars -- though Free the Cuban Five advocates say it's ``all show.''

In Texas, Posada faces trial on charges of lying at his naturalization hearing and on an official application about how he entered the country illegally.

If the Justice Department fails to block Posada's bond, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement could step in to detain him until trial because the Cuban-born Venezuelan citizen faces a deportation order. However, an immigration judge has already ruled that he cannot be sent back to Cuba or Venezuela because he could be tortured in those countries.

Posada has claimed he came to America across the Mexico-Texas border in March 2005. Federal authorities, relying on an FBI informant, have accused Posada of arriving on a shrimp boat manned by a group of Miami exiles. The informant, Gilberto Abascal, has said he was on the vessel that brought Posada here. Posada's attorney obtained information from the U.S. government showing that Abascal had been in contact with Cuban intelligence officials.

If the judge's bond ruling stands, Posada can post the $350,000 bail and live with his wife in Miami under 24-hour house confinement, leaving only for doctors' appointments or to meet with his attorney. Family members and supporters have pledged assets to secure his bond.

Posada, described as ''frail'' by Cardone, would be subject to electronic monitoring and not be allowed to contact codefendants or witnesses.

Cardone's ruling was the first major legal victory for Posada since immigration agents detained him in May 2005 in Miami-Dade County, accusing him of being in the country illegally.


Preparations are underway for the April 26 "Chernobyl Way" demonstration in central Minsk, which will commemorate the 21st anniversary of the nuclear disaster that contaminated more than one-fifth of Belarusian land radiation.

Past “Chernobyl Way” demonstrations have been violently dispersed by the police with dozens arrested and accused of violating regulations on the organization and hold-ing of mass actions.

Russia is planning to build two nuclear reactors a year through to 2015 and four a year by 2020.

Russia and the U.S. are set to sign a bilateral agreement on nuclear power cooperation before year's end. A deal with the U.S. could allow for joint work on development of new nuclear reactors and setting up a global network of international nuclear fuel centers, among other issues.

Russia has further emphasised its plans to play a major international role in nuclear power plant construction.

"In the next thirty years the world is to build 300 to 600 GW of new nuclear generating capacity and Russia plans to have 20% of this market," said Rosatom director Sergey Kiriyenko, speaking at a recent Russian energy forum.

According to Kiriyenko, Russia is building a vertically integrated company, Atomprom, to operate in the civil nuclear industry and "compete with the world's leading nuclear power plant builders."

Russia has been working hard of late to ply its trade as a nuclear constructor around the world.

Makes you sleep better at night knowing that the guys who brought us the worst nuclear power plant disaster ever have such grand plans.

The following post is from the anarchist site A-Infos.

Belarus, Minsk, Anarchist call to Chernobyl day protest in on April, 26th 2007

21 years ago, 26th of April 1986, a reactor melted down in Nuclear power station in Chernobyl of Ukraine. Byelorussians were to suffer most from this worst nuclear disaster in history of mankind. --- Since 90’s, the national-liberal opposition to a regime of president A. Lukashenko has been organizing annual march "×àðíîáûëüñê³ øëÿõ" (" the Chernobyl way "). Purpose of the demonstration is to gain attention of the public to consequences of the Chernobyl disaster, and to criticize government for failure in liquidation and minimization of these consequences. Since 1996 anarchists have taken part to the demonstration, but always in a separate column and with their own slogans. Purpose of anarchist participation is to gain attention to those problems which are least interesting to leaders of the opposition. For example, to a problem of Chernobyl revisionism - conscious revision and underestimation of consequences of the accident. Not only the Lukashenko government is involved in this, but also the international organizations "helping" Belarus (Representation of UN in Belarus, World Bank, IAEA). The main themes of anarchist mobilization in this year are protest against the governmental plans to construct a nuclear power plant in Belarus, and protest against canceling benefits and allowances to the people who have suffered from Chernobyl disaster. It is also an occasion to spread information about alternative and decentralized forms of energy production.

Last year, in day of 20-th anniversary of catastrophe, about hundred anarchists with radical slogans and banners made a big difference in comparison to boring and abstract protest of the "traditional" opposition. This year we also plan to mobilize at least hundred participants to anarchist bloc.

We invite people from East, Central and the Western Europe to join our protest action!

Why does it matter?

On December, 1st, 2006 Alexander Lukashenko declared that a new nuclear power plant will be constructed in Belarus. Engineering works on prospective places of accommodation of the nuclear power plant, and negotiations with the Russian and French suppliers of the equipment are conducted right now. Building of plant is supposed to be begin in 2008. Right now is the best possible opportunity to halt this process, and this is what anarchists in Belarus and also a number of other organizations are attempting to do.

During all years of governance by Lukashenko, an infringement of rights of the people who have suffered from Chernobyl has been going on. The program of resettlement of inhabitants of the regions polluted by radiation is halted. Healthcare of victims worsens. Benefits and allowances to victims of disaster and participants of liquidation of its consequences, which used to be provided by laws in Belarus, are reduced and cancelled. More and more often we hear official pseudo-scientific claims that all illnesses of victims are due to “mental issues”, instead of constant influence of radiation.

We resolutely oppose "Chernobyl revisionism" and infringement of social guarantees for victims.

At last, we wish to talk about alternatives to the centralized nuclear energy, and to spread idea about decentralized alternatives, which are able to finish with mutual power dependence between regions. We will create initiatives which apply alternative (small, ecologically and it is industrial effective) energy sources.

Why we participate in actions of national-liberals?

We are not allies of nationalists and liberals, we do not share their vision of the future of Belarus, their strategic goals and their methods of political activity. However we stand in solidarity with all the victims of repressions on political grounds, irrespective of their opinions, and we support such demands of oppositional human rights organizations, as freedom of speech, free assembly and free association.

The political climate in Belarus is adverse for any social and civil activity, especially what comes to street actions of direct action. In conditions of Belarus it not efficient to organize small actions which will not last more than five minutes. Longer but small actions in crowded places will almost certainly be brutally dispersed, most of their participators arrested. Only mass demonstrations allow us to avoid general arrest of activists. This is why anarchists participate to actions of national-liberal opposition.

We join these actions also because at least people who join these actions themselves will see our message (and this is usually several thousands, sometimes tens of thousands of people), casual passers-by and passing cars will see our banners as well. It would be shameful to miss such opportunity for spreading our ideas.

Why your arrival is necessary to us?

Antinuclear movement in Belarus, let alone social movements of the most direct victims of Chernobyl, is very weak and is isolated. The real sensation of the international solidarity (and not just humanitarian help) can really help with its becoming. Participation of activists from abroad will enable anarchists of Belarus to feel friendly support, very important during present hard times.

At last, the international support in our action may increase interest from side of local and foreign media, and may help us to get anarchist message through.

Take care of the safety!

We will try our best for our guests to avoid hands of "law and order", but here comes some advice you would like to take into account…

Try to not to attract attention when crossing border (this is less of a concern if you are arriving from Russian side, as there are practically no border control between Russian and Belarus). Figure out some "harmless" purpose of arrival to Belarus to be told to border guards if asked. Do not carry any press or other attributes which could be associated with anarchists or other oppositional political activity, until action is about to begin. Keep low profile in terms of clothing during all of your time in Belarus.

It is likely that police will attempt to single out foreigners for arrest. We will try to do anything to save you from this, but you should be prepared to spend few days under arrest in case things go wrong.

We will trash the repressive apparatus of the state! Nuclear Power Plant will never be built to Belarus! Together we will win!

All our guests from abroad will be provided free housing in Minsk. Take a sleeping bag and mattress with you. You will receive a phone number of legal support group after contacting us by e-mail.


If you have other friends in Belarus, please write them directly to decrease our workload.

Anarchist bloc in Chernobyl day demonstration will be organized by Autonomous Action, Federation of Anarchists in Belarus and other anarchists.


Mahmoud Salehi (see accompanying photo), the former President of the Bakery Workers’ Association of the city of Saqez and a well-known labor activist in Iran, has been sentenced to one year imprisonment and a three year suspended prison sentence. Salehi was arrested on April 9, 2007 without any prior notice and was immediately transferred to the city of Sanandaj.

It is very clear that Salehi has been arrested for his labor activities, particularly given the fact that his earlier arrests were made in connection with his attempts to participate in a May Day 2004 celebration in Saqez.

The International Alliance in Support of Workers in Iran reports:

According to reports by Mahmoud Salehi’s family and colleagues as well as a statement issued by the Coordinating Committee to Form Workers’ Organization and other organizations in Iran and abroad, a commanding officer in the Saqez security force appeared at Salehi’s work and asked him to appear at the office of the prosecutor to discuss issues related to this year’s celebration of international workers’ day with the governor and the prosecutor. However, in the prosecutor’s office, Mahmoud was told that the Kurdistan Appeal Court has reached the final verdict on his case and that he has been sentenced to one year imprisonment and also a three year suspended prison sentence. He was then immediately arrested without giving him a chance to speak to his lawyer or family. Mahmoud protested against his arrest and the sentences against him and refused to sign the verdict. According to information received from the City of Saqez, Mahmoud’s wife, family and friends demanded to speak with Mahmoud but the authorities first refused but after they were told that the citizens of Saqez would be called to protest, they allowed Salehi to talk on the phone with his family, during which Salehi informed that he was being transferred to a prison in Sanandaj, the capital of the Kurdistan province. Authorities have informally suggested that Salehi might stay in Sanandaj for about a week and then might be transferred to another prison, probably in Ghorveh or Bijar, two other cities in the Kurdistan province.

The following is taken from the blog site of Maryam Namazie.

Mahmood Salehi, leading labour activist, arrested

Mahmood Salehi, a leading labour activist from the city of Saghez was re-arrested on Monday April 9 by the Islamic regime’s security forces. Salehi who was at work at the time was taken during his lunch break by armed security forces to the public prosecutor’s office regarding his bail on charges of organizing May Day strikes and demonstrations last year.

Later at the public prosecutor’s office, a revised court verdict was read to him summarily sentencing him to one year imprisonment and 3 years suspended sentence. He was immediately transferred to the city of Sanandaj prison.

Clearly this is an attempt to intimidate and attack the labour movement both in Iran and internationally. Last Year Manhood Salehi was bailed under immense international pressure from trade unions, and labour and progressive organizations internationally. In addition, this is an attempt to undermine the vibrant workers’ movement Iran which is preparing to organize for this year’s international May Day celebrations following a huge teachers’ strike in Iran in the last couple of months over pay and conditions which resulted in the arrest of 45 teachers’ activists in the city of Hamedan on Saturday 7th April 2007.

With nation-wide and daily protests such as the teachers’ strikes challenging the Islamic Republic of Iran, the regime is fearful of a powerful confrontation on May Day and is attempting to undermine the momentum of this movement by threats, intimidations and arrests of activists and labour leaders.

The Worker-communist Party of Iran condemns the arrest of Mahmood Salehi in Saghez and teachers in Hamedan and calls on all trade unions and international rights organizations and concerned individuals to join us in demanding the immediate and unconditional release of Mahmood Salehi and 45 arrested teachers in Hamedan and an end to the intimidation of labour activists.

Celebration of May Day, the day of International Labour Solidarity, is a fundamental right for all workers in the world.

International Labour Solidarity Committee of the WPI

Coordinator: Shahla Daneshfar
Public Relations: Bahram Soroush

Note to the Editors:
Mahmood Salehi has been arrested twice since May 2003 for organizing May Day during recent last years. He was freed as a result of huge international campaigns for his release on both occasions. Mahmood Salehi has been recalled to the court over and over and has been under permanent threat and pressure by the Islamic Republic of Iran since his first arrest in May Day of 2003.


Since much of what I post is anything but positive, I figured I let you all see the email I received today.

Victory! Animal Fighting Bill Heads to President

Dear Randy,

Last night at 8:06 p.m., I watched history happen. The U.S. Senate unanimously passed the Animal Fighting Prohibition Enforcement Act.

The House of Representatives passed the same bill, H.R. 137, late last month by a vote of 368 to 39. What this means is that after an almost six-year battle, the struggle to enact meaningful federal penalties for animal fighting has passed its final congressional hurdle. The legislation now is headed to the desk of President Bush, who is expected to sign the measure into law. The new law will take effect immediately, and I can assure you that this is a dark and long-dreaded day in the dogfighting and cockfighting worlds.

I cannot tell you know grateful I am for the efforts of each of you who sent emails, made phone calls, wrote letters and visited your federal legislators on Capitol Hill and in their home districts. You kept the pressure on and your tireless efforts and support made the difference. The cockfighting lobby was organized, and its leaders poured hundreds of thousands of dollars to derail the legislation -- but we out-hustled them and we carried the day.

Nearly every week, there are reports of dog fighting and cockfighting crimes in the United States. It is a vast underground network of people who revel in seeing animals tear one another apart and gamble on the outcomes of the staged spectacles. Now federal law enforcement officials have the tools they need to uproot these underground animal fighting enterprises and put a halt to the the abhorrent cruelty inflicted on dogs, birds and other animals.

I hope this victory inspires you to keep working on behalf of public policies to protect animals. Animal fighting pits will be closing throughout the nation, and it is joyous day for animals. This victory reminds us to never to give up, and that there are rewards for compassionate action and perseverance. Please share this tremendous news with others and let them know that you had a part in making it happen.


Wayne Pacelle
President & CEO
The Humane Society of the United States

Monday, April 09, 2007


A nationwide strike called by teachers is underway today in Argentina. The strike was called to protest the death of a chemistry teacher during a protest last week. Carlos Fuentealba (see accompanying picture) was killed by a Neuquén police officer who fired a tear gas canister at him at almost point-blank range during a teachers’ protest.

"Those responsible for these criminal acts must be punished," said Hugo Yasky of the CTA, whose union is one of two main columns in the larger General Labor Confederation in Argentina.

As of 9am, hospitals are only treating emergency cases. There won’t be classes at at public schools and universities today.

The UTA bus drivers’ union and La Fraternidad train drivers’ union are to halt work between 12 and 1pm, subway workers will stop their services between 12 and 2pm, and court and bank workers are also due to paralyze activities between 12 and 1pm.

In addition, Argentine workers blocked highways throughout the country to demand that a regional governor -- and potential presidential candidate -- resign following the killing of the teacher last week.

The CTERA teachers’ union lead a demonstration of several thousand that marched from the Obelisk in the capital to the Neuquén Province House, located on Diagonal Norte corner Maipú The march has the support of political, social and human rights organizations.

Marcelo Gugliardo, chairman of the union said that the tragedy demands that “minimally officials from the areas of Security and Education must go”, and called on provincial legislators to “impeach” Neuquén governor Jorge Sobisch.

``Nobody is paying attention to health and education,'' said Marta Auger, 77, a social worker with a photo of Fuentealba pinned to her shirt. ``People are forced to live in the slums because rents are so expensive.''

Buenos Aires City declared a day of mourning and Buenos Aires province ordered flags in schools to fly at half-mast on Monday for the killing Fuentealba.

For further information scroll on down to Friday's OD news.

The following is from Reuters Alert.

Argentine teachers strike over death of colleague

Argentine school teachers went on a one-day nationwide strike on Monday after a high school chemistry teacher was killed by police last week during a protest over pay in the southern province of Neuquen.

In the capital, Buenos Aires, workers at banks, hospitals, government offices, and public transportation joined the strike for one hour on Monday afternoon.

Police in the northern city of Salta fired tear gas at groups of protesters, local media said.

Carlos Fuentealba, a 41-year-old teacher, died on Thursday, a day after he was hit in the head by a tear gas cartridge when police broke up a teachers' protest and road block in Neuquen.

Protesters blame Neuquen Gov. Jorge Sobisch, who ordered police to break up the road blocks and marches. The death of the teacher has further complicated a bid by Sobisch to run for president in October against popular President Nestor Kirchner.

Recent polls showed Sobisch with support in the single digits.

"Professor Carlos Fuentealba's assassin has a name. His name is Sobisch, and he must pay. He must go, he must answer for his crimes," Hugo Yasky, president of the national teachers union, said at a rally of striking teachers in Buenos Aires.

The protest in Neuquen last week came after many provinces said they do not have enough money to give teachers raises decreed by the central government.

Base salaries for Argentine teachers were raised by 24 percent in a February government decree. Inflation last year was close to 10 percent and the base teachers wage was raised to some $334 from $270 a month, which was below the poverty level for a four-person family.

"They shot Carlos, but they shot not only him, they shot my entire family, and they also shot all those things he stood for," his widow, Sandra Rodriguez, told reporters.


A report on IndyBay says Canadian mining giant Barrick Gold's Australian mining operation in Lake Cowal was shut down Saturday by protesters. There have since been numerous arrests.

In the lead up to Barrick's annual shareholder meeting, over 80 people occupied the mine site to bring attention to land justice and water equity issues surrounding the open-pit mine, which has just passed its first year of full operation.

This precious wetland is threatened by a cyanide leaching gold mine project. The project includes a 1 kilometre wide open pit on the edge of the Lake.

Lake Cowal / The Bland is a very important sacred region for the Aboriginal Traditional Owners and is often called "the Heartland of the Wiradjuri Nation". When explorers first came to Lake Cowal they recorded tribal Aboriginals who used the area as a campsite and sacred site. There are thousands upon thousands of artefact and relics at the Lake Cowal site that are testimony to this useage. Barrick Gold have not properly consulted with many Aboriginal traditional owners from the region, many of whom have declared their opposition to the Lake Cowal gold mine project. The gold mine at Lake Cowal has already destroyed parts of this Aboriginal Sacred Site including Aboriginal artefacts, scar trees and other cultural objects.

Australian Student Environment Network’s national convenor, Nicola Ison says, “In the lead up to Barrick Gold’s AGM on 2nd May, Wiradjuri and their supporters are presenting an eviction notice to the gold mining giant.”

“Barrick gold is stripping NSW of its precious water resources, internationally significant wetlands and destroying Wiradjuri history and culture.”

“Barrick is transporting over 6000 tonnes of cyanide annually from Gladstone, Queensland to Lake Cowal, New South Wales, creating risk of spill and lethal contamination of waterways along the 1600 km transport route” says Ison.

Friends of the Earth campaigner, Holly Creenaune says, “While Australian communities are in the grip of devastating drought Barrick draws up to 17 million litres of fresh water each day at Lake Cowal. In the last 2 years, the water table has dropped 35 m due to Barrick’s mine.”

Barrick's mines are associated with environmental justice, indigenous rights, and water issues around the world. Barrick is actively protested in Chile, Argentina, Nevada, Papua New Guinea, Tanzania, and Australia.

The following is from the Lake Cowal Campaign.

14 Protestors Arrested at Wiradjuri Lake Cowal Demonstration

Fourteen protestors have been arrested at a demonstration in support of Wiradjuri Traditional Owners who want the Lake Cowal Gold Mine stopped.

Around 100 Aboriginal and environmental supporters demonstrated at the Lake Cowal Gold mine, 47 kms from West Wyalong over Easter to protest against the desecration of traditional Wiradjuri lands and environmental damage caused by gold mining.

Some of the demonstrators locked themselves onto pieces of machinery, shutting down mine operations, while others occupied the mine's offices.

West Wyalong police charged the protestors with entering 'inclosed land' under the obscure Inclosed Land Act 1901. The protestors were released on bail on the condition that they did not come within 10 kilometres of the mine.

Wiradjuri Traditional Owners have been holding convergences at Lake Cowal for a number of years as part of their campaign to raise awareness about the destruction of their ancient cultural heritage and their demands for the mine to be closed.

During yesterday's protest, a Barrick Gold mine manager refused to accept an eviction notice from Traditional Owner, Neville "Chappy" Williams. Mine
Manager, Bill Shallvey, rudely refused to take the notice, the fourth issued to Barrick since 2002, shouting that Williams and his supporters were "misleading people".

"Our Aboriginal People are being denied access to our sacred ground. Protestors from around the world are here to support our claim for access to our ancient lands. Australian Aboriginal Peoples have the oldest continuing living culture in the world. We Wiradjuri People are also being denied the right of spiritual and religious freedom under s.116 of the Australian Constitution," Mr Williams said.

"Barrick is desecrating our sacred site and Dreaming Place and denying us access to our traditional lands. The company has moved or destroyed more than 10 000 artefacts including marked trees, damaging the integrity of the area forever.

"The company did a deal with five unauthorised Wiradjuri, who signed away the ancient inheritance of over 30 000 people of the Wiradjuri Nation. After signing the secret agreement with Barrick they discontinued their Native Title Claim over the area. Our Mooka and Kalara united families' claim is still active in the Federal Court and is proceeding towards determination. Our claim group is more than several thousand people who have bloodline back to Country over thousands and thousands of years.

"Despite Barrick's assertion that we are misleading people, what we are doing is our ancient cultural duty to protect our sacred Country for the generations to come. We are also raising awareness of the dangers of cyanide leach gold mining and the mine's excessive use of precious water in the middle of the worst drought on record. The fullest dams, in the very parched countryside between Condobolin and the mine, are the toxic tailings ponds west of the open cut pit, which extends into the lakebed.

"I am proud of the courageous and brave protestors who entered the mine, occupied its office and locked onto the conveyor belt, shutting down operations. They had my authority to enter our traditional lands."

The Easter Sunday protest was the climax of the weekend of actions that included a Saturday morning demonstration in Condobolin outside the offices of the Wiradjuri Condobolin Corporation funded by Barrick under the secret agreement.

Attended by environmentalists from Bolivia, Canada, the United States, England, France, Germany, Iraq, Papua New Guinea and Switzerland as well as most Australian states, the campaign to protect Lake Cowal continues to gain international recognition as momentum grows in the fight to stop the desecration of Indigenous lands and the environmental destruction resulting from gold mining on all continents.

Activists are working towards international solidarity against Barrick on 2 May 2007, the day of its Annual General Meeting.

Neville Williams 0416 316 774
Ellie Gilbert 0427 795 639