Wednesday, June 13, 2007


I'll be taking a few days off to visit with my sister. Never fear, the OD will be back to bring you whatever it is it brings you next week sometime.


The UN Human Right's Council's Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples took 24 years to negotiate.

And the beat goes on

The UN Human Rights Council endorsed the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples – which has been drafted and debated for more than two decades – in June last year, but the General Assembly later deferred action after some Member States raised concerns.

And the beat goes on.

Canada helped frame the declaration, but according to Amnesty International, the new Canadian government elected 18 months ago, is now doing whatever it can to prevent its approval in the general assembly.

And the beat goes on.

Canada's most influential newspaper is reporting that Australian Prime Minister John Howard may have convinced Canada to end its long-time support for the United Nations (UN) Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

And the beat goes on.

The General Assembly's African Group has been targeted for criticism from indigenous leaders for submitting substantial last minute amendments to the document on the grounds that the situation for indigenous Africans is different from elsewhere.

And the beat goes on.

Botswana denied there was such a concept as indigenous people in Africa.

And the beat goes on.

Members of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Rights accused the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand of lobbying the African states to vote against the declaration.

And the beat goes on.

Some of those opposed to it are concerned that their own ability to exploit natural resources like gas, oil and timber could be undermined by the document, which recognizes the rights of indigenous peoples to their lands.

And the beat goes on.

The Bush administration has claimed that the Declaration is "inconsistent with international law." The United States objects to the Declaration on the grounds that it could "require the recognition to lands now lawfully owned by other citizens."

The following is taken from Cultural Survival Quarterly.

Our Land, Our Identity, Our Freedom: A Roundtable Discussion
by Les Malezer and Naomi Kipuri; Cultural Survival Quarterly; June 13, 2007

Among the states of the United Nations, the ones that have concerns about the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples tend to focus on three elements: the lack of a definition of "indigenous," land rights, and the concept of self-determination. For those states, these elements seem to threaten economic and political chaos on several fronts. But that is largely because states do not entirely understand what it is indigenous peoples are seeking. To help dispel fears and misapprehensions, we asked four indigenous leaders to talk about their understanding of the terms of the declaration and to reflect on what the practical implications would be if the declaration is adopted by the United Nations and implemented around the world.

Les Malezer, native Australian of the Gabi Gabi community, is the general manager for the Foundation for Aboriginal and Islander Research Action in Woolloongabba, Australia. He also is the chairperson for the international Indigenous Peoples' Caucus. He has been the prime lobbyist at the United Nations for the declaration and is a member of Cultural Survival's Program Council.

Naomi Kipuri is an anthropologist and the director of the Arid Lands Institute, which grew out of the Arid Lands and Resource Management Network, a regional project on pastoralism in Eastern Africa. She is a member of the Working Group on Indigenous Peoples/Communities of the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights. She also is on the advisory board of the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights and the Technical Advisory Council on Land Policy.

Ramona Peters (Nosapocket of the Bear Clan) is a Mashpee Wampanoag from Cape Cod, Massachusetts. She is a nationally known artist who has revived her tribe's traditional pottery-making techniques. She is a teacher, spokesperson, curator, interpreter, consultant, and indigenous rights activist. She also is a member of Cultural Survival's Program Council.

Stella Tamang was chair of the International Women's Caucus at the third session of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues and is the chair of the South Asia Indigenous Women Forum and an advisor of Nepal Tamang Women Ghedung. She founded Bikalpa Gyan Kendra in Nepal to provide an education and contribute to students' livelihood by combining book learning with practical skills. She also is a member of Cultural Survival's Program Council.

Cultural Survival: The declaration does not have a definition of who is indigenous. How can a state know to whom the rights in the declaration should apply?

Naomi Kipuri: I think sensitive governments should not talk of definitions; I think they should talk of the actual situation of indigenous peoples in their countries. You don't have to define an elephant to know what it is. And in fact, that is what our experience as members of the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights Working Group of Experts on Indigenous Populations/Communities has been. Sensitive governments have asked the right questions and have gotten the right answers. They then have dealt with the problems in their own areas. When the working group conducted a sensitization seminar in September 2006 in Cameroon, there was resistance in the beginning, but Cameroon is now one of the supporters of the declaration. And it didn't take too long or too much effort; it just took thinking and listening and hearing. So I think we should enlighten resistant states with information, facts, and the reality within their own countries. Tell them not everything can be defined. Just listen to the issues that these peoples are talking about. These are the issues that go beyond a definition.

Take my case. I am Maasai. Our situation -- whether political, social, or cultural -- is similar to that of indigenous peoples all over the world. We have lost our lands and our resources; we're not quite recognized within our state which is always trying to transform us into farmers or whatever else. We're not included in policy discussions. There is constantly a lack of consultation, even on matters touching on our own livelihoods. We're marginalized in almost everything. We don't have health services; we have very few educational resources; we have none of the infrastructure to which all people should be entitled. In a lot of ways, we're dependent on natural resources that are being expropriated. These are the things that need to change in order for us to enjoy the rights in the declaration.

Stella Tamang: In the case of Nepal, indigenous peoples would be those peoples who were living in a specific territory with their own control before the region was conquered by outsiders. We know who owned the land before the present Nepal was created.

Les Malezer: In Australia there is a clear demarcation between who was here before 1788 and who was here after. What we've always maintained in Australia is that indigenous peoples are the original tenants of the country who are tied spiritually and legally to their country. That is, we identify ourselves by our country and our relationship with that country. That definition doesn't always work elsewhere around the world.

Cultural Survival: Let's turn now to land rights. How do you see your community's land, and why is land so important to you?

Stella Tamang: Not all indigenous groups have geographical territory -- some have cultural territory. But suppose we are talking about indigenous peoples with historic, cultural, and linguistic connections to their land. They have an intimate connection to the land; the rationale for talking about who they are is tied to the land. They have clear symbols in their language that connect them to places on their land. For example, in Nepal we have groups that only can achieve their spiritual place on the planet by going to a certain location.

Ramona Peters: I'd like to think that we can still draw strength from the land, regardless of who lives there, although a lot of my people don't feel that way. They see other people's houses in our territory and they see that land as dead or corrupted. I disagree with that. But the relationship between land and identity is still very strong, to the point where overdevelopment devastates us emotionally. Eight-two percent of our adult men are diagnosed as being depressed. We grew up in a fishing, hunting, and planting society that has been transformed into a lost group of people. Now we have health issues that we did not have 25 years ago. Not being in control of the land, or not being able to protect it or have access to the natural foods and medicines that grow on it, gives us a really shaky future.

Stella Tamang: Our lands are the places where we get our medicines, where we might know about some special plant.

Ramona Peters: For us, it's access to natural resources -- foraging, access to waterways and fishing grounds. People try to block us with private-property signs or by telling us that the clams are their pets. They call the police any time natives are in the area. One of the few reasons that I would be an advocate for federal recognition is the partnership it would provide to protect the land from pollution and random dumping. That dumping is now sometimes state sanctioned or town sanctioned: dredging up one area to make a marina and dumping material on what might seem like a vacant lot. But that lot is not vacant. There are things that live there, things that we use and that others don't.

Stella Tamang: Free prior and informed consent, which the declaration requires states to get from indigenous peoples before taking action affecting them, is essential. Consider the Sherpa on Mt. Everest. Mountaineering is something that should be governed by Sherpa people. They receive no benefit from the number of people who come to climb, nor do they control the criteria. Sherpa feel that people die there because they are failing to respect the mountain. It is immoral for people to climb the mountain to "conquer" it because the mountain should be respected. The Sherpa should get the benefit as well as the decision-making authority to decide who climbs the mountain.

Cultural Survival: What should be the basis for determining which lands are subject to the rights in the declaration?

Naomi Kipuri: Indigenous peoples know their territory, all the way back to the pre-colonial period. But deciding on the cut-off point to determine ownership is the question which would have to be agreed upon between the indigenous peoples and the government. In fact, in Kenya, according to the new land policy that is currently being drawn up, 1885 has been proposed as the cut-off date. Different people have given different dates, but it is possible to propose a date and to agree upon it. It is not so difficult.

Ramona Peters: In the United States there are already laws on the books that define Indian territories. That definition is based on ancestral homelands. Wampanoag people had a nation that was once 69 tribes, and there are only 3 tribes left: Aquinnah, Herring Pond, and Mashpee. We three tribes can probably claim all the Wampanoag homelands, straight into Rhode Island. We could legitimately claim the city of New Bedford, but we're not doing that. You end up with "tribal lands," which are basically the lands you're living on. So the Aquinnah Wampanoag may have claimed all of the homelands (several counties), but they end up with a little village, a tribal footprint, at the far end of Martha's Vineyard.

Cultural Survival: What about a situation where traditional lands are now occupied by non-indigenous people? What should happen to those people and that land?

Les Malezer: That's in Article 46 of the declaration. There are clear statements that all other rights are recognized. So if other people now occupy those lands and have interests in those lands, their rights must be respected; they also have a right to the very same property.

Cultural Survival: What does "self-determination" mean to you?

Stella Tamang: To some people in Nepal today, self- determination appears to be a threatening topic. They think that self-determination means that indigenous peoples will have their own land and autonomy. But that isn't true. I once talked with a Maoist lady in Nepal who was claiming a "special" right to self- determination. I explained to her that self- determination is not a special right. It is something that indigenous peoples already have, at the individual level, the community level, and the national level. In Nepal, as part of our constitutional process, we are talking about regional autonomy. We do not want to divide Nepal up into lots of little pieces. Nepal is a small, land-locked country. Geographic reality makes our existence as small, separate indigenous nations impossible. Instead, self-determination requires regional autonomy under a single, federal system. We need a national government that deals with monetary, defense, and foreign-policy matters. But there needs to be power sharing among different groups of people, a system that includes the peoples who traditionally have been excluded. Everyone should have equal rights, but for some groups there should be special provisions to address special needs. The key is power sharing and developing a coalition culture at the national level. In indigenous areas indigenous peoples could decide their own educational structures, and if the government wanted something from an indigenous region for a national purpose, then the rule of free, prior, and informed consent would apply. Regions would police themselves in the ways that make most sense at the regional level. The Swiss cantonal system is what would work best for us.

Cultural Survival: Even though self-determination does not include the right to secede from the state, how can the state be sure that granting the right won't lead to loss of territory or inspire rebel groups, for example, to push for independence?

Naomi Kipuri: Rebel groups tend to result from certain communities being excluded from the affairs of the state. They are actually struggling to be "legitimized" with the simplest form of self-determination: the recognition that they exist. Indigenous peoples are often not even allowed to say who they are because they've been subsumed by the majority population and their languages and their cultures are denied. In North Africa, indigenous peoples are not even allowed to give their children their own names; they have to give names that the state proposes. It is the failure of the state to listen to these basic needs -- like being able to impart their cultures and languages to their children -- that leads to rebel groups taking up arms and pushing for a different social order. There was no more rebellion in Casamans province in Senegal, for instance, after talks with the government were initiated. And rebellion in Mali has been replaced with ongoing talks with the Mali government. I think Africa should be pleased by these examples. The declaration would stop such conflicts rather than allow more of them.

Cultural Survival: What about the responsibilities that accompany rights? Should indigenous peoples be subject to taxes? Could their members be drafted into the military?

Naomi Kipuri: I would say that if the right to self- determination were granted, indigenous communities would be like all other communities. They would be happy, they would be wealthy; they would be proud to be citizens of their own respective countries. And they would also be proud to be provided the services that members of majority communities get. I would not worry about them refusing to be drafted to the military; they would be proud to serve the nation in any way possible. I also think they would be glad to pay taxes. They would finally have the means to pay their taxes. At the moment, they're taxed and they don't have the means to pay their taxes, so they're getting poorer by the day. All this will be possible because once passed, the declaration will allow them to have a measure of control over the resources in their areas -- resources which, at present, are often expropriated by the central government for other development purposes.

Les Malezer: In terms of the declaration, self- determination is a legal concept. It is a right guaranteed to all peoples. It's also guaranteed in the UN Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights. Article 3 of the declaration, which says indigenous peoples have the right to self-determination, is simply a re-statement of the rights in the two covenants and in Article 1 of the United Nations Charter. It's exactly the same wording: "All peoples have the right to self-determination." And that language was deliberately set when the documents were made because colonization was a big part of the history in the Indian subcontinent and African regions. Self- determination was not a right of peoples in many places. And to deal with that issue, the UN established a de-colonization process that is still under way. But unfortunately, the process is not ensuring self- determination for indigenous peoples. The United States is very strongly advocating that self-determination should be a right subject to state law. In a domestic situation, that would create a discriminatory provision in which all peoples of the world except indigenous peoples would have the right to self-determination. The whole intention is that all peoples should have the same rights.

Cultural Survival: We know that the text of the declaration is a compromise, but it is one that indigenous peoples are supporting. Why is the declaration, as it is now written, so important to indigenous peoples?

Les Malezer: The whole theme of the declaration is partnership between states and indigenous peoples to reach new arrangements. As you say, there was never agreement between states and indigenous peoples in relation to what the wording should be. The final proposed wording was a compromise, representing what the chairman believed would be most acceptable to the overwhelming majority of states and indigenous peoples. And it's on that basis that there has been support for the declaration from indigenous peoples and from the Human Rights Council. Indigenous peoples would prefer less ambiguity. New Zealand, along with Australia, USA, and Canada, is the culprit in continually proposing ambiguity. The text those countries want is one that justifies their current views on using resources, which are discriminatory, as determined by the UN General Assembly's Third Committee and by the UN Committee on Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

Ramona Peters: At this point there is hardly any dialogue between Western thinking and Indian thinking. The declaration would open the dialogue so both can communicate about rights and consult about the uses of resources. Who's to say that a state doesn't want to protect a certain area? And you have the indigenous community right there saying "Let's protect it. We'll help you. In fact, we'll help you know which species is missing, because without that one, the rest of the species located there are doomed." If this declaration succeeds in anything, it needs to succeed in consultation, because once people start talking with one another, they'll find mutual good.


A religious freedom advocate is threatening to sue the Army and others over charges that it posted anti-Semitic materials on a chaplains' Web site at Fort Leavenworth.

According to a press release from the Military Religious Freedom Foundation military chaplains have been holding Bible classes for US soldiers using study guides that appear to be anti-Semitic.

In one of the study guides, Galatians, posted on the Fort Leavenworth chaplain web site, the materials refer to Jews as "Judiazers" and claim that "the Judiazers were zealous people much like the zealous Moslems have become today."

"The Judaizers attempted to destroy the two foundations of the Christian religion: a. The Grace of God, and b. The Death of Christ," the Galtatian study guide says, adding that Judaism is a religion of "bondage" and Christianity a religion of "freedom."

In the 14-page study guide Nehemiah, chaplains discuss a portion of the Sanballat, the first high priest of the temple at Samaria, who, according to the Bible study, had to deal with a "Jewish problem." He mocked the Jews' efforts to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem in the hopes that they would give up.

The study guide then poses the following questions for soldiers: "How do you interpret Sanballat's reaction to the Jews progress? Anxiety and fear? In light of what we know about the Jews performance today, were his fears reasonable?"

Mikey Weinstein, the founder of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, says the religious teachings are not only blatantly anti-Semitic, but he believes disseminating it over the Internet tramples upon the Constitution.

"It's illegal for an arm of the federal government to push this ideology," Weinstein, who is Jewish, said in an interview. "This is the official web site of the US Army, and this is here for everyone to see. Anyone would easily come away with the belief that the US Army endorses these teachings. The last time someone talked about a Jewish problem the way these chaplains are talking about it was in Europe in the 1930s. What these Bible teachings say to me or to anyone participating in these classes is that the US government loves the military but Jews are bad."

Weinstein said a right-wing fundamentalist Christian agenda under President Bush has hijacked the military.

"The rise of evangelical Christianity inside the military went on steroids after 9/11 under this administration and this White House," Weinstein said in an interview. "This administration has turned the entire Department of Defense into a faith-based initiative."

The following is from the Army Times (don't you just love me sourcing the Army Times).

Advocate alleges anti-Semitism at Leavenworth

TOPEKA, Kansas — The founder of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation is threatening a lawsuit against the U.S. military over what he says are anti-Semitic materials on a Fort Leavenworth Web site.

Three Bible study lessons on the post chaplain’s Web site pushed Christianity and blamed Jews for acts of terrorism, including the crucifixion of Jesus and the persecution of other early Christian leaders, said Michael Weinstein.

His foundation calls itself a watchdog group for expanding religious freedom in the U.S. military.

Weinstein said the materials, which were removed after he and others complained, were an example of a larger problem. He said a lawsuit is necessary to stop “widespread” violations of religious freedom in the military.

“It is all over the U.S. military,” Weinstein said. “We are going to have to do this, because letter writing and phone calls aren’t enough.”

Fort Leavenworth is home of the Army’s Combined Army Center, including the Command and General Staff College, where hundreds of officers receive formal training each year. It also is home to many schools and centers that are intricately involved in the writing of doctrine related to the fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Lt. Gen. David Petraeus commanded the post before he was chosen by President Bush earlier this year to lead coalition forces in Iraq.

Janet Wray, spokeswoman at Fort Leavenworth, said the chaplain’s Web site had been taken down and officials were assessing the materials. She said Fort Leavenworth officials planned to issue a statement later in the day.

Officials at the Department of Army headquarters had no immediate comment.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007


It's over a year away, but that's not too early to dream.

When the GOP comes to Minnesota's Twin cities they can expect quite a greeting.

Applications for permits to protest and march (ah, freedom)have been put in, but city officials are dragging their feet. Isn't that always the case?

“We have a plan. It is a good plan. And we expect the city of St Paul to issue the requested permits,” said Marie Braun of the Twin Cites Peace Campaign-Focus on Iraq and Women Against Military Madness.

Expect nothing.

Last Saturday individuals and organizations gathered for what is likely to the be the first of many community meetings to make plans in response to the Republican National Convention (RNC), which will be hosted by St. Paul in September 2008.

The forum was co-hosted by Protest RNC 2008, a coalition of several local activist organizations, and the RNC Welcoming Committee, a group of Twin Cities-based anarchists and anti-authoritarians. Pulse of the Twin Cities reports representatives from several groups shared plans already underway. Marie Braun and Mick Kelly, of the Coalition to March on the RNC and Stop the War, announced plans for a massive antiwar march on the first day of the RNC, Sept. 1, 2008. They displayed a large map with the proposed march route highlighted. “This is going to be an absolutely huge rally and march around the Xcel Center,” said Braun. “We’re hoping for 50,000 to 100,000 people.” Kelly explained that over 30 groups have already signed on to the national call for the demonstration. “We’ll be hosting people from all over the country,” he said. “We envision a large, permitted march that people will feel comfortable bringing their families to.” The march is likely to include several feeder marches, including a poor people’s contingent organized by the Welfare Rights Committee.

Even before the public gathering Protest RNC 2008's web site cited Anh Pham, Anti-War Committee member and event organizer, who is quoted thus, "This community meeting will give us a chance to hear about all the plans that are underway, and build unity among the diverse forces involved. The Republican Convention will be a huge platform for promoting the war in Iraq, and along with the rest of the Republican Agenda. We have to stand up and speak out. Tens of thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands of people, will join in protests against the war and on many other issues, during the RNC. We are committed to standing together in this, uniting the many diverse voices, issues and tactics that will be used to answer the Republican Convention in 2008.”

Below you will find a Call to Action from the RNC Welcoming Committee, one of those zany little groupings you read about. The Welcoming Committee describes itself pretty clearly:

The RNC Welcoming Committee is an anarchist/anti-authoritarian organizing body formed to prepare for the 2008 Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minnesota. The RNC-WC, composed primarily of Twin Cities-based anarchists and anti-authoritarians, will function as an informational clearinghouse and organize a spokescouncil for RNC resistance. We will coordinate logistics (food, housing, transportation), and engage in education and outreach.

Without falling prey to the centralized, hierarchical tendencies that have dominated such convergences in the past, we hope that the RNC-WC will maintain a unified, anti-authoritarian presence at the 2008 RNC. Our numbers are huge, and it's time that our actions reflected that.

Following are our points of unity. We invite all individuals and groups committed to these ideas to participate in the Welcoming Committee.

Those who work with the RNC Welcoming Committee must agree to:

1. A rejection of Capitalism, Imperialism, and the State;

2. Resist the commodification of our shared and living Earth;

3. Organize on the principles of decentralization, autonomy, sustainability, and mutual aid.

4. Work to end all relationships of domination and subjugation, including but not limited to those rooted in patriarchy, race, class, and homophobia;

5. Oppose the police and prison-industrial complex, and maintain solidarity with all targets of state repression;

6. Directly confront systems of oppression, and respect the need for a diversity of tactics.

Though the RNC-WC is focused on a specific event, we hope that our work transcends the convention by contributing to the development of anti-authoritarian movements and mutual aid networks both locally and globally. We are no more opposed to the Republican Party than we are to the Democratic Party. Affiliations and labels aside, we invite all who share our vision to join us in resistance.

Tired of being asked about violence, broken glass and rocks,the Welcoming Committee comments,"As the Welcoming Committee, we refuse to condemn the defense of individuals, communities, and the Earth. Most violence comes from the state. When you come to our protest, look around: we won’t be the ones with nightsticks, guns, and Tasers."

I remember Chicago in 1968.


The following is taken from the Pulse of the Twin Cities.

RNC Welcoming Committee’s Call to Action
Tuesday 12 June @ 12:39:07

[This is the mission statement and call to action of the RNC Welcoming Committee, an anarchist/anti-authoritarian organizing body formed to prepare for the 2008 Republican National Convention in St. Paul.]

Every four years, in two very lucky cities, big money gets thrown around while look-alikes from opposite ends of a closed circle step up to their podiums and spout nonsense. RNC. DNC. Whatever. The point is that once the conventions are over, once November is come and gone, once the inauguration is only an unpleasant memory, people across this stolen land find themselves in pretty much the same place as before: a bad one.

And we’d like to offer up a movement--some real, tangible change. Unfortunately, the reality is that we’re rundown at best, hopeless at worst, and though we see liberation shining off in the distance, we don’t know how to get there.

But we want justice, and we want freedom, for life everywhere. And we’re tired of spinning our wheels in this rut.

From Sept. 1 through 4, 2008, the Republican National Convention will be held in St. Paul, Minn. You can expect the usual: sign-holding, protest marches, rhythm-less chants, false raid scares at the convergence space.

But damned if the resistance stops there.

As residents of the Twin Cities, as anti-authoritarians and anarchists, we, the RNC Welcoming Committee invite folks from all over the country to show up and make something happen. Pull this movement out of its rut, or start something new. Let the up-tops know that we could give a shit about their suits, their speeches, their money. Bring your (A)-game, cause 2008 is ours.

We’re calling for:

1. Whatever skills you’ve got: medical, food-prep, legal, soapboxing, circus tricks. You name it, we wanna see it.

2. Intelligence gathering. Seriously.

3. Big numbers: your presence makes a difference, even if you aren’t doing anything but sending good vibes our way and bad vibes to the RNC.

4. Decentralized actions: both coordinated and independent; these cities are a playground, and you wouldn’t want to miss all the fun.

5. Surprises: Republicans, cops, starry-eyed youth- everyone likes a surprise.

These are the rules:

1. Know the area. Come early, come often. Or if you can’t do that, study up from home (Al Gore invented the internet for a reason).

2. Respect local communities, develop your knowledge of local background, and remember that, good or bad, the effects of your actions endure long after you’ve left town.

3. Strategize: Be smart. Be creative. Get a sense of what other organizing is going on.

4. Take initiative.

5. Keep your privilege in check. Recognize socialized systems of domination, and work to undermine them.

6. Respect. Respect. Respect. Where it’s due. But no capitulation, and do what you have to do.

7. Keep the bullshit to a minimum.

No vanguardism, no unnecessary infighting, no loose lips.


In 1946 the world’s attention focused on the German city of Nuremberg as the prosecution began its case against twenty-two of the most senior Nazi politicians, military leaders and industrialists in the world’s first international criminal trial (see photo). The principles of the Tribunals were simply stated:

Principle I
Any person who commits an act which constitutes a crime under international law is responsible therefor and liable to punishment.

Principle II
The fact that internal law does not impose a penalty for an act which constitutes a crime under international law does not relieve the person who committed the act from responsibility under international law.

Principle III
The fact that a person who committed an act which constitutes a crime under international law acted as Head of State or responsible Government official does not relieve him from responsibility under international law.

Principle IV
The fact that a person acted pursuant to order of his Government or of a superior does not relieve him from responsibility under international law, provided a moral choice was in fact possible to him.

Principle V
Any person charged with a crime under international law has the right to a fair trial on the facts and law.

Principle Vl
The crimes hereinafter set out are punishable as crimes under; international law:
Crimes against peace:
Planning, preparation, initiation or waging of a war of aggression or a war in violation of international treaties, agreements or assurances;
Participation in a common plan or conspiracy for the accomplishment of any of the acts mentioned under (i).
War crimes:
Violations of the laws or customs of war which include, but are not limited to, murder, ill-treatment or deportation to slave-labor or for any other purpose of civilian population of or in occupied territory, murder or ill treatment of prisoners of war, of persons on the seas, killing of hostages, plunder of public or private property, wanton destruction of cities, towns, or villages, or devastation not justified by military necessity.
Crimes against humanity:
Murder, extermination, enslavement, deportation and other inhuman acts done against any civilian population, or persecutions on political, racial or religious grounds, when such acts are done or such persecutions are carried on in execution of or in connection with any crime against peace or any war crime.

Principle VII
Complicity in the commission of a crime against peace, a war crime, or a crime against humanity as set forth in Principles VI is a crime under international law.

Please note Principle V which grants anyone charged with the right to a fair trail.

George Bush decided Principle V meant zip.

Unfortunately, it isn't only Bush who has ignored the whole point of the Nuremberg Tribunals. Lisa Hajjar, an editor of Middle East Report pointed out several years ago:

"...from the close of the Nuremberg and Tokyo tribunals to the end of the Cold War, international laws pertaining to the rights of human beings functioned not as law but as moral rhetoric framed in legal language. During these decades, more people were killed and harmed by practices that had come to be characterized as international crimes than in any previous period. The politics of sovereignty held sway over any meaningful commitment to legality, evidenced by active refusal to authorize international action to stop or prevent grotesque abuses. It was an age of impunity."

And really and truly while there have been some tentative steps forward following Bosnia and the genocide in Rwanda, not all that much has changed. The US not only has violated everything to do with "law and justice" since September 11th in the name of September 11th, it has refused to even recognize the jurisdiction of international law in general.
When some of the big boys stand in the dock, then maybe I'll believe that international laws pertaining to war crimes and crimes against humanity really mean something.
But until then...

The following is from the Brisbane Times (Australia).

Guantanamo trials unfair: Nuremberg prosecutor

The US war crimes tribunals at Guantanamo have betrayed the principles of fairness that made the Nazi war crimes trials at Nuremberg a judicial landmark, one of the US Nuremberg prosecutors says.

"I think Robert Jackson, who's the architect of Nuremberg, would turn over in his grave if he knew what was going on at Guantanamo," Nuremberg prosecutor Henry King Jr said.

"It violates the Nuremberg principles, what they're doing, as well as the spirit of the Geneva Conventions of 1949."

King, 88, served under Jackson, the US Supreme Court justice who was the chief prosecutor at the trials created by the Allied powers to try Nazi military and political leaders after World War II in Nuremberg, Germany.

"The concept of a fair trial is part of our tradition, our heritage," King said from Ohio, where he lives. "That's what made Nuremberg so immortal - fairness, a presumption of innocence, adequate defence counsel, opportunities to see the documents they're being tried with."

King, who teaches law at Case Western Reserve University in Ohio, also questioned whether former Guantanamo prisoner David Hicks deserved to be tried as a war criminal.

After being held at Guantanamo for more than five years, the Australian pleaded guilty in March to a charge of providing material support for terrorism and was sent home to serve the rest of his nine-month sentence.

"He's not an arch-criminal type, just a guy who was disaffected from the system," King said.

Hicks, who admitted training with al-Qaeda and briefly fighting on its side in Afghanistan, is the only person convicted in the Guantanamo war crimes tribunals.

King, who interrogated Hitler's architect, Albert Speer, was incredulous that the Guantanamo rules left open the possibility of using evidence obtained through coercion.

"To torture people and then you can bring evidence you obtained into court? Hearsay evidence is allowed? Some evidence is available to the prosecution and not to the defendants? This is a type of 'justice' that Jackson didn't dream of," King said.

He said the Guantanamo prisoners should be tried in the court-martial system or the US federal courts, under fair rules that leave open the possibility of acquittal. Three Nuremberg defendants were acquitted, King noted.

The Bush administration has said it needs to hold the special tribunals at Guantanamo in order to protect national security. Last year the US Supreme Court struck down the first version of the Guantanamo trials as illegal.

The 2006 Military Commissions Act, which set revised rules for trying suspected terrorists at the US naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, "sort of turns its back on Nuremberg", King said. "I don't think it's a credit to us to have this thing."

"The United States has always stood for fairness. That's the important thing. We were the ones who started war crimes tribunals and we're the architects. I don't think we should turn our back on that architecture."


Mikhail Chesalin (see picture), Chairman of the Dockers’ Union of Russia branch in the city of Kaliningrad, was beaten and repeatedly stabbed from behind by an unknown number of assailants as he was about to enter the office at 10:30 on 7 June. He was left lying unconscious on the ground.

Commenting on the attack Frank Leys, Secretary of the International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF) Dockers Section, said:

“The ITF was outraged to hear about the violent assault of Mikhail Chesalin. The DUR has asked us to help put pressure on the law enforcement agencies to properly investigate the case. Russia has joined the shameful list of states where trade unionists are targets for assaults. The instigators should be aware that the worldwide dockers’ community will not stand by and accept that these crimes are left unpunished, and we are therefore calling on all affiliates to demand that justice is carried out, and trade union rights respected in Russia.”

The following is taken from LaborStart.

Act NOW!
Russia: Dockworker leader stabbed and beaten

On Thursday June 7, Mikhail Chesalin, the chairman of the local Dockers Union of Russia in Kaliningrad, was savagely stabbed and beaten outside the union office. An unknown number of assailants attacked Chesalin when he got out of his car at 10:30am local time, stabbing him numerous times in the spine, and beating him severely about the head. He was left lying face-down, unconscious, in a pool of blood.

Chesalin's colleagues believe that the attack was orchestrated by Vladimir Kalinichenko, the General Director of the Sea Commercial Port where the dockworkers' union is currently running an organizing campaign. The union has been in a bitter fight with Kalinichenko for ten years, after Kalinichenko made it his personal goal to destroy the union following their 1997 strike – their battle, and the workers determination has become a symbol of Russia’s young, struggling independent trade union movement. Since April, the union has been conducting an unprecedented organizing drive among the workers in the Kaliningrad port to change a miserly and arbitrary wage system, and win respect and a voice on the job. Kalinichenko has tried to break up every union event by sending his personal "security" forces, together with local thugs, to spy on and intimidate workers.

Mikhail Chesalin is known throughout the region, country, and world, as one of Russia's foremost defenders of workers' rights – the dockworkers' case has received the attention of the ILO, the European Court for Human Rights, and most of all the attention of Kaliningrad residents, who voted for Chesalin when he ran directly against Kalinichenko in 2006 – with 13 times less money, Chesalin received four times the votes of Kalinichenko to be elected as a deputy to the regional parliament. In that sense this attack is not only on free trade unionism, but on an independent governmental representative.

For 12 years, the Dockers Union of Russia, with a vigorous and committed membership, and under Chesalin's dedicated and principled leadership, has stood for fairness and dignity for Sea Commercial Port workers. For that, union members have lost their jobs, their livelihoods, and their families, but they are free men. For the first time in this battle, the Port has crossed the line to violence, and attempted to silence a great leader of workers. We, Chesalin’s union members and colleagues, call on our brothers and sisters around the world to raise their voices, and their considerable strength and solidarity, to communicate to Russian employers and the Russian government that an injury to one is an injury to all, that this threat to justice here is a threat to justice everywhere, and that workers around the world will not stand by as their brothers and sisters are denied basic rights.

Go to to help out.

Monday, June 11, 2007


I just want to take a moment to say so long to a real good human being - Bill Oliver. Bill died a several days ago of liver cancer. I would doubt that hardly any of you have ever heard of Bill. Those in this part of the country familiar with the "world of greyhounds" know him well. Bill, and his wife Cher (who I first met when I was in high school), have been the backbone of KCREGAP (a group concerned with greyhound rescue, adoption and with the welfare of this unique dog breed). For years, they have been out there saving these animals from what is often a terrible fate. Bill is probably personally responsible for thousands of these rescues. Bill also took on the Greyhound racing industry which annually kills thousands of these special dogs when they are no longer of use at the tracks.

Over the weekend hundreds of Bill friends, humans and dogs, gathered outside on a beautiful day to celebrate his life.

An article in the Kansas City Star read:

"...During his years helping greyhounds, Oliver helped more than 3,000 dogs find homes, and he earned a reputation as a passionate dog lover even among those he counted as adversaries. In the early years, his wife said, he often spent his own money on vet bills and dog food.

...He raised money. He attended parades and meetings. He scavenged the countryside looking for stray dogs, often driving two hours to Abilene, Kan., the capital of the greyhound industry. He visited kennels, worked with trainers and even approached strangers’ homes when he thought there was a dog to be saved.

“He truly believed what happened to these dogs was just so unacceptable,” Cher said. “Every time he’d see the neglect and abuse and sheer numbers being destroyed, it’d fuel that passion. He couldn’t ignore this.”

...“It was simply a love of the dogs for Bill,” said Ed Roberts, a friend and former member of REGAP. “No one’s ever had more passion for these dogs than Bill. They’re a unique breed, and they seem to attract a very special person. Bill was one of those people.”

Oliver had an old Honda he used for years to pick up greyhounds. It had chew marks everywhere, but Oliver refused to fix them. Even talking about that car — about the dogs he’d saved with it — brought tears to his eyes.

Even when Oliver was diagnosed with cancer four years ago, he made saving dogs his first battle. Fighting cancer was his second.

“Bill and I called them old souls,” Cher said. “We were both so truly amazed when we got to know the breed and how poorly they’re treated. It touched him, moved him to do something.”

On Saturday, friends and family gathered to celebrate his life. Dogs, of course, were welcome."

Finally, I want to add that there is a memorial fund (go to ) which I wholeheartedly endorse.

The following is taken from the Memorial Fund web site.

Early Sunday morning, the 27th of May, Bill Oliver, co-president of Kansas City REGAP, died. While we mourn his loss, we must also celebrate that he helped save untold greyhound lives, through adoption, and through his and Cher´s work to end greyhound racing. I´m sure that when he drew his last breath, each of the greyhounds he touched, those living and those whom he now joins, felt his generous spirit move among them. The multitudes of saved greyhounds stand as a permanent memorial to Bill and Cher, and to their infinite love of this wonderful breed.

As you may know, Bill suffered quietly but long with his illness, and it ravaged them financially, placing Cher in the unfortunate position of desperately needing our help. Under Cher´s direction over the last sixteen years, Kansas City REGAP has grown into one of the nation´s finest and most effective animal rights organizations, boasting one of the Midwest's largest groups of dedicated volunteers.

A gifted artist, Cher could have worked in the private sector for any number of companies, but instead chose to devote herself entirely to placing greyhounds in loving homes. She took no salary for this, only the satisfaction of knowing the dogs she and Bill loved so much would live out their lives in peace and safety and love. Now it is time to return a measure of that same peace and safety and love to her.


The Kingdom of Morocco appears to be in a repressive mood lately cracking down internally and in the Western Sahara as well. Oh yeah, Morocco also appears to be one of those swell places where the CIA and company like to stick "disappeared" they want to question a little more than it were.

The first article/appeal is from Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (HRinfo). The second is from Reuters Alert.

Seven activists arrested, two allegedly tortured, all sentenced to prison for criticising royalty during Labour Day event

HRinfo calls upon the Moroccan authorities to release the civil society activists who were arrested after 1 May 2007 demonstrations and charged with "insulting sacred doctrines." HRinfo also call for an end to the government's crackdown on freedom of opinion and expression.

The crackdown began on 1 May. Security forces broke into the Moroccan workers' union headquarters in Agadir, immediately following the Labor Day walk. Union and other activists were beaten and abducted, including Abd el Rehim Qarad, a member of the executive office of the National Syndicate for Farmers, and Mahdy el Barboushy, a member of the Moroccan Association for Human Rights.

On the same day, many arrests and investigations were conducted in Al-Qasr Al-Kabeer City. El Tuhamy El Khayat, chair of the National Association for Unemployed Graduates, was arrested and interrogated, then was released only to be re-arrested on 3 May, together with four other activists: Rabie el Risouny, Yousef el Rakab, Osama Bin Masoud and Ahmed el Kaatib.

All the named activists were charged with "insulting sacred doctrines."

On 10 May, the Court of First Instance in Agadir issued a verdict sentencing Abd el Rehim Qarad and Mahdy el Barboushy to two years in prison and charging them a fine of 10,000 dirhams (approx. US$1,200), despite their claim that confessions were extracted from them under torture.

On 22 May, the Court of First Instance in Al-Qasr Al-Kabeer City issued a verdict charging the four detainees in that city with "insulting sacred doctrines." They were sentenced to three years in prison and a fine of 10,000 dirhams.

"We couldn't understand the relationship between 'sacred doctrines' and Labor Day, but when we gathered more information, we found out that the charge is 'insulting royal doctrines'. The phrasing of the published news was unfair and deceitful, moreover, as arresting activists for criticizing royalty is a violation of their freedom of expression, and when criticizing royalty becomes 'an insult to sacred doctrines', the government's crime becomes even more dangerous," said Gamal Eid, executive director of HRinfo.

HRinfo declares its complete solidarity with the Moroccan Association for Human Rights and the detained civil society activists, and calls for their release. It also expresses its fears that this is the beginning of a regression away from growing democratic openness in Morocco. These incidents remind us of the harsh years experienced by Moroccan activists, and highlight the need for democratic struggle to avoid a return to those days.


Sahara talks at risk from Morocco action-Polisario

Morocco is cracking down harder than usual on independence activists in Western Sahara raising doubts about peace talks due to start next week, the Polisario independence movement said on Monday.

"Morocco's behaviour may jeopardise the negotiations, as it could also jeopardise peace and stability in the region," Polisario's foreign affairs spokesman Mohamed Salem Ould Salek told a news conference in the Algerian capital.

His comments came as a Polisario-backed Moroccan human rights organisation, called CODESA, accused Morocco of recently arresting and kidnapping a large number of civilians including children in Western Sahara's main city of Laayoune.

There was no immediate comment from Moroccan authorities.

Morocco and Polisario are due to hold U.N.-sponsored talks on June 18-19 to try to negotiate an end to Africa's oldest territorial dispute by setting the status of the former Spanish colony, annexed by Morocco after Madrid pulled out in 1975.

"The talks are going to be a test to see if Morocco is serious about peace in the region," Ould Salek said.

In May Polisario's leader Mohamed Abdelaziz said a failure to break the deadlock could reignite the movement's armed struggle, triggered initially by Morocco's move more than 30 years ago.

A 1991 U.N. ceasefire accord promised a referendum on the territory's fate, but it never happened and Rabat now rules it out, saying autonomy is the most it will offer.

Morocco wants talks about self-rule for the territory under Moroccan sovereignty, but Algeria-backed Polisario has demanded a referendum that would include the option of full independence.


Rights campaigners in Morocco have said that Moroccan police have beaten and imprisoned dozens of independence activists demonstrating on university campuses in recent weeks.

The government has denied that police used excessive force to break up the demonstrations, saying they had intervened each time to separate rival gangs of students.

Ould Salek added that he saw "no positive signals" that Morocco was committed to peace and to talking in good faith.

Ould Salek said Algerian-backed Polisario was approaching the talks in a positive spirit. The movement wants to negotiate with Morocco on ways to hold a referendum that would offer a choice between independence, integration into Morocco and self-governance.

"If we get our independence, we will be more than happy to establish friendly and economic relations with Morocco," Ould Salek said, adding that "doors will then be open for stability and cooperation in the region."

The Western Sahara dispute is the main cause of tension between Morocco and Algeria, whose land borders, closed in 1994 amid security tensions, remain shut.


In November of 2005 the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) established the Secure Border Initiative (SBI) and in September of 2006 the Boeing Company was awarded the contract to design and implement the SBInet, a multiyear program that will use the latest in technology and strategies to attempt to secure America’s borders. All this was interesting news coming from a place far from southern Arizona. But then “Project 28” appeared and Arivaca found itself in the middle of a major trial of the entire border strategy. And this hilltop was ground zero.

The Bush administration's high-tech plan to use a "virtual fence" to stop illegal immigration had come to Arivaca, Arizona...and it wasn't welcome by all (some of whom are pictured here).

One of nine 98-foot towers, equipped with long-range cameras, radar and night vision, has been erected on the outskirts of town. For the people of Arivaca, the towers represent one more sign of the militarization of the border, which is 11 miles south of town.

Residents of the town have been quoted as understanding why immigrants cross the border looking for jobs. "I can't blame the little guys who are coming in. They get taken advantage of. The way I see it, it's another slave trade," said rancher Rob Kasulaitis.

And many townsfolk don't think surveillance towers can solve social problems.

Anyway, no one asked them what they thought about having cameras following them around every hour of every day.

"It's so close . . . that we feel like we're under the scope of the cameras and the radar units and the night-vision cameras, and that's troubling to the people here," Roger Beal, owner of Arivaca Mercantile, the town's only grocery store told the Washington Post. "It's like having an unwanted family member in your life all the time."

The website Ariviaca, AZ On line says:

At the last meeting, on May 15th, we were told that Project 28 and the location of the "Arivaca Tower" were a done-deal, and the tower would not be moved unless "proven ineffective". Tower construction started Monday, May 21st, and as of May 24th, the tower was up but not operational. The site is currently guarded 24/7 by Pinkerton guards. Once it is operational, we look forward to proving it ineffective by using our recreational lands in its immediate vicinity. Just a mile and a half from Main Street, it's a perfect place to hike, bike, birdwatch, target practice, picnic, and hold drumming ceremonies on the sacred space it abuts. Let's have some fun!

Last month an editorial in the Arizona Republic touched on the issue with a bit more than subtle sarcasm:

...billions spent in Mexico -through microloans, for example, to avoid feeding Mexico's institutional corruption - would do more to stem illegal immigration than the biggest wall ever built.

Instead, we have the Secure Border Initiative, Homeland Security's multiyear, multibillion-dollar program. Last year, Richard Skinner, inspector general for Homeland Security, put the price tag for electronic monitoring of the border at $30 billion. Physical barriers would cost an additional $7 billion, he said.

If you've ever had an estimate for a home-improvement project, you know those price tags are going to go up, up and up.

Our fearless leader, George Bush, invited military contractors such as Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, Northrop Grumman and Boeing to bid on the creation of a "virtual fence" that would include unmanned aerial vehicles, ground surveillance motion-detection equipment and all sorts of other whiz-bang stuff.

Boeing Co. got a contract last September to begin a virtual fence in Arizona. Earlier this month, residents of the Arizona border town of Arivaca (population 1,500) packed public meetings to oppose the 98-foot towers on which Boeing will mount cameras and radar.

It will be "like living in a prison yard," one resident told a reporter. Big Brother was also mentioned.

The following is from Tuscon's KVOA.

Arivaca group gathers to protest border towers

There's more controversy about a high tech tower surveillance program that the Border Patrol calls "Project 28."

The Border Patrol says it'll serve as an extra set of eyes and ears for its agents. But residents who live near one of the towers worry these surveillance towers will have more of a negative than positive impact.

The Border Patrol says the towers will help detect illegal border crossers. But Arivaca residents see them as eyesores that invade their privacy. Saturday night they gathered near one of the structures to make their point.

About 60 people joined hands to protest Arivaca's tower. They sang and spoke out in hopes the tower's surveillance equipment would record them and send their message to the Border Patrol and the builder Boeing.

C Hues, an Arivaca resident and protest organizer, says, "If that tower is working properly, it should be able to film us, there are cameras in it, there are speakers. That would give us a chance, to finally talk to at least, to give our concerns and complaints and our feelings."

This is opponents' fifth protest meeting. So far they believe their concerns have been ignored.

Ellen Dursema says, "Each of us are putting our intention out there and it will join with all our other intentions and it will be strong, very strong."

The tower is one of 9 that will be positioned along 28 miles of the Arizona Mexico border as part of a pilot project called "Project 28."

The unmanned tower contains cameras, radars and sensors that will send surveillance information to Border Patrol agents.

Phil Benoit, who lives in Arivaca, believes that's an invasion of his privacy. Benoit says, "It's a clear violation of the Fourth Amendment. We have the right to wander around and not be searched without probable cause and this thing is constantly searching us."

Eric Heesacker doesn't understand why it's here. He says, "It's located 13 miles north of the border that it's intended to protect. It's a boondoggle for the government."

The Department of Homeland Security does not agree. It says, if the towers work, its plan is to erect a trail of them along the entire Mexican and Canadian borders.