Archive for the 'War' Category

COP: A Living Movement: Toward a World of Peace, Solidarity, and Justice

Stellan Vinthagen April 5th, 2011

Joint Conference of PJSA and the Gandhi King Conference

Hosted by the Christian Brothers University, Memphis, TN ~ October 21-23, 2011


The Peace and Justice Studies Association and The Gandhi-King Conference

Jointly present a dynamic conference experience:

“A Living Movement: Toward a World of Peace, Solidarity, and Justice”

The Peace & Justice Studies Association (PJSA) and the Gandhi-King Conference (GKC) are pleased to announce our first-ever jointly sponsored annual conference. The PJSA and the GKC are partnering this year to promote dynamic exchange among individuals and organizations working for a more just and peaceful world. This partnership promises a unique conference experience that combines the best of scholarly and grassroots perspectives on the pressing justice issues in our communities and around the globe.

We invite submissions for the 2011 Annual Conference, to be held on the campus of Christian Brothers University, in Memphis, Tennessee, from Friday October 21 through Sunday October 23, 2011. We welcome proposals from a wide range of disciplines, professions, and perspectives that address issues related to the broad themes of solidarity, community, advocacy, education, and activism as they are brought to bear in the pursuit of peace and justice.

Our goal is to create a stimulating environment where scholars, activists, educators, practitioners, artists, and students can build community and explore interconnections. We invite participants to engage in various modes of exploration, including papers and presentations, hands-on practitioner workshops, and a youth summit. We aim to foster an experience in which attendees will have multiple opportunities to meet and dialogue in both formal and informal settings, against the unique historical backdrop of Memphis, TN.

The deadline for proposal submissions is April 15, 2011. Abstracts are limited to 150 words, and must be submitted electronically through the PJSA website.

For more information, contact: info@peacejusticestudies.org or info@gandhikingconference.org

COP: A Decade of Terrorism and Counter-terrorism since 9/11

Stellan Vinthagen March 30th, 2011

A Decade of Terrorism and Counter-terrorism since 9/11: Taking stock and new directions in research and policy

Call for Papers

Organising body: Critical Studies on Terrorism Working Group (CSTWG) of the British International Studies Association

Supported by: The British Academy, Consortium for Research on Terrorology and Political Violence; Communication Research cluster, University of Strathclyde

Location(s): University of Strathclyde and Glasgow City Chambers, Central Glasgow.

September 11, 2011 will mark ten years since the terrorist attacks on America and the start of the global ‘war on terrorism’. The extensive changes engendered by these processes in the last decade have yet to be fully understood and appreciated. There is consequently a real need for rigorous and sustained retrospective analysis. In a year that will see a wide range of special commemorative and academic events, this conference will seek to assess the widespread impact of terrorism and counter-terrorism since 2001 from a distinctly ‘critical’ perspective. More specifically, the conference will foreground inter-disciplinarity and seek to review what we have learnt in a period of unprecedented interest in the study of terrorism and counter terrorism. There will be a range of debate sessions between ‘critical’ and ‘mainstream’ scholars, and engagement with policy actors, including speakers from the government ‘Contest II’/’Prevent’ campaigns, the police, legal officials, civil libertarians and Muslim community representatives.

Key note speakers include Joseba Zulaika (University of Nevada in Reno), Michael Stohl (University of California Santa Barbara), Michael Scheuer (ex-CIA), Richard Jackson (Aberystwyth) Caron Gentry (St Andrews) and Dr. Bob Lambert (Exeter, ex-Special Branch)

The conference is intended to play a significant role in the expansion of interest in, and the re-orientation towards a more empirically informed and theoretically sophisticated practice of, studies of terrorism and political violence. Subsidiary aims include to foster knowledge exchange between social science and natural science disciplines; and to contribute to the re-evaluation of policy on terrorism and counter terrorism.

Scholarship on terrorism has expanded exponentially in the past decade. The subject itself is clearly of major importance inside and outside the academy. While the conference is an initiative from scholars who are part of an openly ‘critical’ working group on terrorism, the conference organizers are concerned to open up dialogue on the shared problems of data, methods and theory which most observers agree are important issues in ‘terrorism studies’. We will bring together an unusually interdisciplinary group including exponents of both ‘orthodox’ and ‘critical’ terrorism studies, and those from other areas of social and natural science who are often not part of the mainstream discussion of ‘terrorism’.

There will be a strong policy and civil society element to the conference with policy actors and human rights activists debating responses to terrorism, civil liberties, and ‘suspect communities’.  We will also host roundtable discussions featuring those with experience of political violence from a variety of conflicts.

In addition, we will host advanced research training workshops for conference participants, together with interdisciplinary research sessions including a small number of ‘master classes’ where leading researchers will reflect on interdisciplinarity and on their own research methods and practice. We intend  to offer both early career and established scholars an opportunity to discuss practical questions outside the formality of the set-piece keynote addresses and we hope that this will encourage sharing of new and developing methods in the field especially in the context of the new opportunities and issues thrown up for methods by new digital technologies. We hope to use these methods workshops to focus in the interdisciplinary workshops on fostering research networking for the future.

Conference themes
The conference is intended to look back and review how we have understood terrorism and counter-terrorism, and attempt to think through where the study of terrorism and counter-terrorism should go from here. Themes in the conference include, among others:

•    ‘Non-state terrorism’, including but not limited to terrorism as an instrument of power;
•    ’State terror’ and repression, including, but not limited to Western State terror;
•    ’Counter-terrorism’, risk governance and ‘radicalisation’;
•    ‘Advances in terrorism studies’ with a particular focus on data, methods and theory, including the contribution of critical terrorism studies;
•    ‘Communicating terrorism’: cybersecurity, social media, influence agenda, public diplomacy, information operations and strategic communications;
•    Gender and terrorism/counter-terrorism;
•    Historical materialism, terrorism and counter-terrorism;
•    The war on terror and the global South;
•    The ways in which conflict resolution can inform the study of terrorism and counter-terrorism policy.

The conference will include a mix of plenaries, keynotes, panel, debate and workshop sessions.

Abstracts and Expressions of Interest
The organizing committee welcomes the submission of
1.    Abstracts (max. 350 words) on these and related topics;
2.    Panel proposals (with a minimum of 3 abstracts, plus a short overview of the panel (circa 250 words))
3.    Workshop proposals (with either a policy/civil society or methodological/practical orientation max 350 words of workshop description plus max 250 words on any individual elements)
All abstracts will be reviewed by the organizing committee to meet rigorous academic standards. Abstracts will be reviewed for relevance, conceptual quality, innovation and clarity of presentation. At least one author of accepted papers is required to attend the conference in order to present the paper.

Abstracts should be sent to Jan Bissett jan.bissett@strath.ac.uk by Wednesday 1 June 2011.

Publication
Papers from the conference will be selected competitively for inclusion in either:
1.    A special issue of the journal, Critical Studies on Terrorism; or
2.    An edited volume on the conference theme published by a major academic publisher.
These outputs will be edited and overseen by an overlapping editorial team led by the organisers. It is anticipated that the journal will focus on advances in terrorism studies. The book will focus substantively on 9/11 and its legacies incorporating interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary perspectives. The edited collection will be divided into key sections reflecting the conference themes. It is important to note that the papers for the book will be needed in near final draft form in advance of the conference.
Costs: Conference costs  will be announced shortly. It is envisaged that full costs will be around £200 with reductions for student, policy and civil society participation. Accommodation will not be included in conference costs and should be booked separately. It is the responsibility of delegates to book their own accommodation. A list of hotels, hostels and B&Bs will be provided by the conference organizers.

Conference organizing committee
David Miller (Strathclyde) (convenor), Helen Dexter (Manchester), Piers Robinson (Manchester), Dave Whyte (Liverpool), Vicki Sentas (King’s), Bela Arora (University of Wales, Newport), Emmanuel-Pierre Guittet (Manchester), Jessie Blackbourn (Salford), Idrees Ahmad (Strathclyde), Roy Revie (Strathclyde), Steven Harkins (Strathclyde), Rizwaan Sabir (Strahclyde), Tom Mills (Strathclyde), Cyrus Tata (Law, Strathclyde), Rachel Hendrick (Strathclyde), Rani Dhanda (Strathclyde)

Administrative support Jan Bissett:jan.bissett@strath.ac.uk
Conference blog: http://decadeofterrorismandcounterterrorism.wordpress.com/
Twitter:  http://twitter.com/#!/911plus10

Keynote speakers
The conference will hear several keynote addresses from world leading authors on terrorism and political violence.  Each Plenary speaker will also run a Masterclass on research techniques in terrorism specifically aimed at Postgraduate students and early career researchers.

Keynote addresses confirmed so far:
Joseba Zulaika is the Director of the Centre for Basque Studies at the University of Nevada in Reno and an anthropologist by training. Among his research interests are the international discourse of terrorism. His 2009 book Terrorism: the Self-Fulfilling Prophecy was published by the University of Chicago Press. His recent explorations of terrorism focus in particular on the role of intellectuals and reflect on the domain of terrorism studies.

This self-reflexive focus – which is comparatively rare in academic work on terrorism – is the reason why we particularly want Prof Zulaika to deliver a keynote at the conference.
Michael Stohl is Professor of Communication at the University of California Santa Barbara. Stohl’s current research focuses on organizational and political communication with special reference to terrorism, human rights and global relations. Stohl’s foundational work on state terrorism, his focus on Terrorism as communicatively constituted violence, and his current work on terrorism networks and counter terrorism are the key reasons why he is being invited to deliver a keynote. He will also lead a workshop on network analysis in relation to terrorism.

Michael Scheuer (invited) spent 22-years with the CIA in which he held various positions including Senior Adviser for the Usama Bin Laden Department, Chief of the Southwest/Southeast Asia Counternarcotics Operation, and Chief of the Sunni Militant Unit. Dr. Scheuer is the author of Imperial Hubris. Why the West is Losing the War on Terrorism (2004) and Through Our Enemies’ Eyes: Osama Bin Laden, Radical Islam, and the Future of the United States (2003), as well as Marching Towards Hell: America and Islam After Iraq (2008).

Richard Jackson Professor in International Politics (Aberystwyth). He is the founding editor of the journal Critical Studies on Terrorism. Together with Jeroen Gunning and Marie Breen Smyth, Richard Jackson is co-editor of the Routledge Critical Terrorism Studies Book Series. Richard Jackson has published numerous books and articles on terrorism-related issues and international conflict resolution.

Caron Gentry was an Assistant Professor of Political Science at Abilene Christian University in Abilene, Texas and has recently taken the post of Lecturer at the University of St Andrews. Her previous work has been published in the journal Terrorism and Political Violence.  Her research interests are gender, terrorism and political violence.

Bianca Jagger: We Must Declare a Non-Violent Revolution

jj March 14th, 2011

From Huffington Post

I am calling for a non-violent revolution. A call to arms, without weapons.

On Tuesday the 8th of March, I joined Annie Lennox, Cheri Lunghi, Jude Kelly, Natasha Walter and hundreds of women on a march along London’s Southbank to celebrate 100 years of International Women’s Day (IWD).

It was encouraging to see so many women come together, but we should have been thousands, hundreds of thousands, millions perhaps? The first march in 1911 saw over a million women and men campaign to end discrimination against women and to demand equal rights.

Are we so complacent that we feel we do not need to demand gender equality? Many women are convinced there is equality between men and women. The fact however is that the US has never had a female president and, in the UK there has been just one female prime minister out of 52 male leaders. Shouldn’t this be a wake up call to all those who think we have achieved gender equality?

It is true that much progress has been made since the original march for IWD, and women are excelling in many fields. We may have different lives to those of our grandmothers and even our mothers but gender equality has far from been achieved.

Non-Violent Revolutions

In recent months we have seen women at the forefront of revolutions in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya. Asmaa Mahfouz, a 25-year-old Egyptian woman has been credited by some as sparking the revolution in Egypt when she posted a YouTube video calling for people to join her in Tahrir Square in a fight for democracy. Of the hundreds of thousands of people who joined Asmaa Mahfouz there was as many women as men. This is a pivotal time in history for the Middle East, and women are playing a significant role in its progression towards democracy and freedom.

After such progress, it was shocking to see this week, a peaceful march led by women in Tahrir square to mark International Women’s Day met with aggression and sexual harassment from a gang of over 200 men.

In many countries around the world women have to physically fight for their voices to be heard. We in the west are lucky that we have a voice, but it must come with an obligation to fight for those women who don’t.

As we see women around the world risk their lives to fight for fairness and freedom, we should be inspired to stand up for our rights, our right to be equal; a right which was passed in 1948, under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and is yet to be fully achieved.

In response to those who deny the existence of gender discrimination I let the statistics speak for themselves.

Gender Inequality

Women now carry out 60% of the world’s work and produce 50% of the world’s food but only earn 10% of the world’s income and only own 1% of its property. According the UN women make up 70% of the worlds poorest. Two thirds of the 774 million illiterate adults worldwide are women. This is because 70 million girls each year are denied the right to the most basic education.

Women around the world face severe restrictions in freedom and in some cases are condemned to death for allegedly breaking bias moral and religious codes, enforced by men.

Death Penalty

In recent years many cases of gender discrimination, gender related violence and honor killings have been brought to public attention. Some of the most egregious cases I have come across are; Mosammet Hena a 14-year-old girl from Bangladesh, who was allegedly raped and was whipped to death for crimes against honour.

The disturbing case of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, a 43-year-old mother of two, who was sentenced to death by stoning in Iran for adultery and murder, crimes she has repeatedly denied. Death by stoning is a mandatory sentence for “adultery while married” in Iran. After intense public outcry and campaigning by the international community, human rights organizations including my own The Bianca Jagger Human Rights Foundation, the Iranian authorities have since announced that her death sentence has been “suspended”. At present, the outcome of her case remains unclear.

Honor Killing

Honor killings are increasing in the western world, the recent cases of the television executive Muzzammil Hassan who was found guilty of beheading his wife in a suspected honor crime and the Iraqi father, found guilty of running over his 20-year-old daughter in a Arizona car park have shocked America. In 2009 police recorded over 250 incidents of “honor”-based violence in London alone, according to the Guardian.

Female Genital Mutilation and AIDS

Female genital mutilation and AIDS are another threat to women around the world. Action Aid estimates that 75% of all young people in Sub-Saharan Africa with AIDS or HIV are women. 92 million women and girls around the world are believed to have undergone female genital mutilation.

Rape as Weapon of War

Rape has long been used a weapon of war, during the 1994 Rwandan genocide, it is estimated between 250,000-500,000 women were raped. UN Special Reporter Rene Degnu-Segui stated, “rape was the rule, it’s absence the exception”. In 1993 I traveled with United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) personnel through Bosnia and Croatia on a fact finding mission to document the mass rape of women, I had been asked to testify before the Helsinki Commission in the US Congress. I listened to hundreds of shocking testimonies of women, who had been brutally raped. It is estimated that during the Bosnian war up to 50,000 women were systematically raped.

Although the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia issued arrest warrants based on the Geneva Conventions and Violations of the Laws or Customs of War, rape continues to be used as a weapon of war. In 2009 we learned of the brutal raping of 8,000 women in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Margot Wallstrom, the UN’s special representative on sexual violence in conflict, described the country as “the rape capital of the world” speaking of the violence she explained “if women continue to suffer sexual violence, it is not because the law is inadequate to protect them, but because it is inadequately enforced.”

In countries such as Saudi Arabia, women are not even allowed to drive, let alone vote. In Saudi Arabia and in places such as Chechnya, Afghanistan and Somalia women are routinely punished for not adhering to strict dress codes, and can be flogged in the street for showing their faces.

Seven UN member states have not signed the convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women; Iran, Nauru, Palau, Somalia, Sudan and Tonga. The United States, along with Niue and the Vatican City have not yet ratified it!

Sexual Assault & Domestic Violence

These stories are not freak occurrences, every day women face gender related abuse. I was shocked to learn that globally 60 million girls are sexually assaulted on their way to school each year. In the UK only 7% of rape cases end in conviction and only between 10-20% of rapes are thought to be reported. In the US one in four women can expect to experience domestic violence, and according to the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, women experience about 4.8 million intimate partner-related physical assaults and rapes each year.

Decision Makers

Globally there is severe disparity between men and women in parliament, and women make up only 19% of the worlds parliament seats. As of 2011 there were only 17 female Senators in the US out of 100 and 76 women in Congress out of 435. In the UK there are 144 members of parliament out of 650. In a world where leaders such as Obama, Cameron, Sarkozy, Burlesconi, Putin, Gaddafi, Mubarak make headlines daily, we hear relatively little of Gillard, Rousseff, Patil and Fernández de Kirchner, some of the world’s 18 female heads of state. Is it perhaps because they make up such a small percentage of world power or is it because we underestimate the power of women in leadership positions?

The reason why I have emphasized the statistics in this article, is because they speak for themselves. Nevertheless they are easily ignored, but we cannot afford to ignore the reality they represent.

Call to Action

We have the tools to change the world, we can make a difference, we can even change the course of history. The time for further excuses, postponement, or procrastination, for hesitation and prevarication has long passed. Now is the time for courage and leadership. We must take concrete steps to empower women, achieve gender equality, equal legal rights and justice.

We must demand that all countries adhere to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women and meet the Millennium Development Goals to eradicate extreme poverty, achieve universal primary education, improve maternal health and reduce child mortality, and combat HIV/AIDS.

We can, and we must embark upon a non-violent revolution. We cannot afford to be apathetic, for the sake of the women suffering at the hands of violence, persecution and injustice. For the sake of our daughters and grand daughters we cannot sit still or we will jeopardize their future.

I call on governments, academics, NGO’s, and people across the world to do what it takes to achieve gender equality.

I will be speaking tomorrow at 4.30pm at The Women of the World Festival, Southbank Centre, London

You can follow me on Twitter @BiancaJagger and join my foundation’s Facebook fan page at the Bianca Jagger Human Rights Foundation.

Follow Bianca Jagger on Twitter: www.twitter.com/BiancaJagger

Next Resistance Seminar: 2 and 3 March, Gothenburg University

Stellan Vinthagen February 25th, 2011

Resistance Studies Seminars
—————————————————————————————–
March 2 with Angie Zelter and Nätverket Ofog – Peace Activists.

War starts here – let´s stop it here!

I Norrbotten finns Europas största krigsövningsområde NEAT, North European Aerospace Testrange. På detta 24000km2 stora område tränar NATO, USA och många andra på krig i form av t.ex. bombfällning. NEAT används också för att utveckla förarlösa bombplan och annat krigsmateriel. Förberedelserna för krig pågår för fullt här och nu. Krig börjar här. Och det är skrämmande tyst om det.

Tillsammans med Angie Zelter, känd fredsaktivist från Storbritannien och mottagare av Right Livelihood Award och Nobels alternativa fredsprise 2001. Angie Zelter och det antimilitaristiska nätverket Ofog kommer för att prata om Sveriges del i det globala krigsmaskineriet med fokus på vad som pågår i Norrbotten. Angie Zelter kommer ge exempel från aktioner hon har deltagit i och vi kommer även att prata om det internationella aktionsläger mot NEAT som vi arrangerar 22-29 juli i sommar och vad annat vi kan göra för att stoppa denna förödande utveckling.

! Seminar is in English and Swedish. March 2 . Wednesday 15:15-17.00 at the Annedalseminariet at Room 419 !

—————————————————————————————–

March 3 with The Journal Dissident – Från kritiken av den politiska ekonomin till motstånd.

Ungdomsarbetslösheten är en viktig faktor för att kunna förklara de stora upproren i Tunisien, Egypten och Libyen. Samtidigt pågår det runtom i Europa protester mot förändringar i utbildningssystemet och i Grekland fortsätter strejkerna och kravallerna mot regeringens åtstramningspolitik. Vi tycks se en mängd resningar mot det faktum att en växande del av världsbefolkningen upplever sig vara överflödig och oanställbar.

I tredje bandet av Kapitalet utvecklar Marx ansatser till en överbefolkningsteori. Kapitalismens utveckling av produktivkrafterna gör att färre och färre arbetare blir nödvändiga för produktionen, vilket skapar en strukturell överbefolkning i förhållande till ekonomin. I väst märks detta främst genom en alltmer prekär och osäker arbetsmarknad, men globalt sett är denna tendens en brutal verklighet i världens kåkstäder. Kapitalismen skapar en sorts utsida till sin egen produktionsprocess, en överbefolkning som ofta är beredd att jobba under de mest vidriga villkor för att överleva. Men detta är bara ena sidan av myntet, det andra är att motsättningen mellan arbete och kapital har omstrukturerats. Vi ser alltmer kamper på gatorna: alltifrån rödskjortornas intåg i Bangkok 2010, demonstrationerna i Wisconsin till kampen på Tahirtorget i Egypten. Vad betyder det för klasskampen att en allt större del av arbetarklassen gjorts
onödig för kapitalet? Vilka arenor för kamp finns det då?

I det här föredraget diskuterar vi Marx’ kritik av den politiska ekonomin som en överbefolkningsteori, men också som en teori för motstånd och revolt. Studiet av kapitalismen var nämligen för Marx först och främst studiet av den verkliga rörelse som avskaffar de nuvarande tillstånden.

! First part of a stand-alone seminar series in three parts with focus on workplace struggles.

Seminar is in Swedish. March 3 . Thursday 15:15-17.00 at the Annedalseminariet at Room 419 !

War opponents arrested at White House

jj December 17th, 2010

From AlterNet

Dozens of activists, including the man who leaked the Pentagon Papers on the Vietnam War, were arrested Thursday at the White House as they protested the Afghanistan conflict and defended WikiLeaks.
Activists rally during an anti-war protest in front of the White House in Washington, DC on Thursday. Dozens of the activists, including the man who leaked the Pentagon Papers on the Vietnam War, were arrested as they protested the Afghanistan conflict and defended WikiLeaks.

As President Barack Obama unveiled a war review strategy inside, more than 100 war opponents — many of them veterans — marched through snow to the White House, chanting “Peace now!” and refusing to step down from the fence’s ledge.

Police waited before gradually sealing off the area and escorting remaining protesters — who had vowed to stay until their arrest — into two waiting buses.

Daniel Ellsberg, who as a government consultant leaked the Pentagon Papers that revealed war planning in Vietnam, saluted Bradley Manning, the young army officer suspected of leaking secret US documents to website WikiLeaks.

Ellsberg predicted that Obama would intensify the Afghanistan war as “presidents don’t like to say they were wrong.”

“I’m afraid that will happen indefinitely unless more people follow the example of Bradley Manning, whose courageous act of civil disobedience probably confronts him with life in prison,” Ellsberg said to cheers.

Medea Benjamin, co-founder of the Code Pink women’s peace movement, noted that Afghanistan ranks near the worst in rankings on development and corruption despite billions of dollars a month in the US war effort.

“It is high time that President Obama get a clue and understand that we need, as our signs says here, a real peace president,” she said.

“We need men that understand that the best thing we can do for our security and the security of the people of Afghanistan is to take the money that we are spending on war and invest it in people, invest it in health care, invest it in education at home and in Afghanistan,” she said.

Obama, an early opponent of the Iraq war, has tripled troop numbers in Afghanistan but pledged to start a withdrawal next year. The United States sent troops to Afghanistan in 2001 after the September 11 terrorist attacks carried out by Al-Qaeda, which had found sanctuary in Taliban-ruled Afghanistan.

In the review, Obama said there was “significant progress” in curbing the Taliban and stifling Al-Qaeda, but warned more time was needed.

A Video from the action.

Destroying Palestinian Olive Trees

jj November 25th, 2010

By César Chelala in The Globalist

Olive trees have been mentioned in the Bible, the Qur’an and the Torah. Olive oil is a key product of the Palestinian national economy, making up 25% of the total agricultural production in the West Bank. César Chelala explores why the Israel Defense Forces have been accused of uprooting olive trees to facilitate the building of settlements.

Why do Israel Defense Forces and settlers destroy olive trees?

Why do Israel Defense Forces and settlers destroy olive trees?

During the last few years, Palestinian olive trees — a universal symbol of life and peace — have been systematically destroyed by Israeli settlers.

“It has reached a crescendo. What might look like ad hoc violence is actually a tool the settlers are using to push back Palestinian farmers from their own land,” stated a spokeswoman for Yesh Din, an Israeli human rights organization monitoring incidents in the West Bank.

The tree and its oil have a special significance throughout the Middle East. It is an essential aspect of Palestinian culture, heritage and identity, and has been mentioned in the Bible, the Qur’an and the Torah. Many families depend on the olive trees for their livelihood.

Olive oil is a key product of the Palestinian national economy, and olives are the main crop in terms of total agricultural production, making up 25% of the total agricultural production in the West Bank.

Palestinians plant around 10,000 new olive trees in the West Bank every year. Most of the new plants are of the oil-producing variety. Olive oil is the second major export item in Palestine.

For the last 40 years, over a million olive trees and hundreds of thousands of fruit trees have been destroyed in Palestinian lands. The Israel Defense Forces have been accused of uprooting olive trees to facilitate the building of settlements, expand roads and build infrastructure.

The uprooting of centuries-old olive trees has caused tremendous losses to farmers and their families. At the same time, restrictions to harvesting have come through curfews, security closures and attacks by settlers.

The uprooting of olive trees by the Israel Defense Forces and by settlers are done to protect the settlers, since they are supposedly used to hide gunmen or stone throwers. “The tree removals are for the safety of settlers…No one should tell me that an olive tree is more important than a human life,” declared IDF army commander, Colonel Eitan Abrahams.

As a result of the attacks on farmers by the IDF and by settlers, the farmers “can’t get to their lands and work them. The settlers chase the farmers, shoot in the air, threaten their lives, confiscate their ID cards and damage the crops,” declared B’Tselem, an Israeli human rights organization.

Yesh Din has declared that not even one of 69 complaints filed during the past four years on damage to Palestinians trees in the West Bank has resulted in an indictment. The toll includes thousands of trees from several areas, from Susya in the southern Hebron Hills to Salem in northern Samaria.

Rabbis for Human Rights has declared that, in recent weeks, the olives from about 600 trees near the settlement of Havat Gilad were stolen before their Palestinian owners could harvest them.

In a review he wrote on this issue, Atyaf Alwazir, a young Muslim American, stated that the uprooting of trees from Palestinian lands violates the Paris Protocols, The Hague and Geneva Conventions and the Covenant on Economics, Social and Cultural Rights.

According to Sonja Karkar, founder of Women for Palestine in Melbourne, Australia, uprooting olive trees is contrary to the Halakha (the collective body of Jewish religious law) principle whose origin is found in the Torah: “Even if you are at war with a city….you must not destroy its trees.”

What do settlers actually want? To destroy Palestinians’ livelihood with impunity? To create a barren land, unfit for trees and people? Perhaps they should be reminded of the A.E. Housman verses:

Give me a land of boughs in leaf,

A land of trees that stand;

Where trees are fallen there is grief;

I love no leafless land.

IDF soldier faces silent protest at ASU

jj November 19th, 2010

From Waging Nonviolence

When Nadav Weinberg, a soldier who had served with the Israeli Defense Forces, spoke at Arizona State University last week, the room was filled with protesters. Rather than disrupt his speech, which is often the tactic taken at such events, the demonstrators found a much more powerful way to voice their dissent: silence.

Here you can see a seven minutes video from the action

After taking their seats, the demonstrators took off their jackets to reveal red t-shirts with signs bearing the names, ages and dates that civilians were killed by Israeli troops. They then took red tape and covered their mouths with it.

Folks in the back of the room held a sign that read: “Giving Voice to Civilians Silenced by IDF Policy.” (I like the emphasis on policy rather than on the individuals within the military, which I think is always an important distinction for nonviolent activists to make.)

Part way through Weinberg’s speech, the group proceeded to stand up and slowly walk out of the room, leaving it close to empty.

A similar action took place at the University of Michigan recently, which is a hopeful sign that IDF soldiers will not be able to share their viewpoints on American campuses uncontested.

A Study in Middle East Nonviolence

jj October 11th, 2010

Movie Review of Budrus from NYT

American audiences watching the documentary “Budrus,” about a pioneering effort in nonviolent protest by Palestinians in the West Bank, will find many of the images familiar. The marching, the chanting, the nerve-racking encounters between protesters and jumpy, heavily armed young policemen and soldiers: it’s “Eyes on the Prize” with olive trees.

The writer and director Julia Bacha has fashioned an engrossing and sometimes inspiring account of the confrontations that took place in the village of Budrus in 2003 and 2004 over the building of the Israeli security fence, relying on footage shot at the time by more than a dozen people. At first she keeps the larger and more intractable issues in the background, focusing on the stark contrasts of unarmed Palestinian women jumping in front of bulldozers and being beaten and gassed by the Israeli police.

As the protests, led by the quiet, tough-minded mayor, Ayed Morrar, and his teenage daughter Iltezam, succeed in stalling construction of the fence (which threatens to destroy 3,000 of the villagers’ olive trees), the Israeli news media take notice, and the situation grows more complex. Mr. Morrar, having invited women to participate — an unusual step — goes further and welcomes Israeli peace activists. Soon both the Israeli army and Palestinian politicians are involved; neither is a welcome presence. The cycle of violence the Morrars sought to end seems inescapable.

Ms. Bacha doesn’t duck the dispiriting aspects of the story: she shows us how young Palestinians eventually began throwing stones, and Israeli troops began shooting. “Budrus” makes a convincing case for the courage of the protesters (while giving ample screen time to the commander of the Israeli border police unit they confronted, who happened to be a very attractive young woman). The ultimate value of nonviolent protest in the occupied territories, however, is beyond the film’s scope.

BUDRUS

Written and directed by Julia Bacha; directors of photography, Shai Pollack, Monalisa Sundbom, Jonathan Massey, Ms. Bacha, Riyad Deis and Mohammed Fawzi; edited by Geeta Gandbhir and Ms. Bacha; music by Kareem Roustom; produced by Ronit Avni, Ms. Bacha and Rula Salameh; released by Just Vision. At the Quad Cinema, 34 West 13th Street, Greenwich Village. In Arabic, Hebrew and English, with English subtitles. Running time: 1 hour 21 minutes. This film is not rated.

Why Israel Criminalizes Nonviolence

jj August 31st, 2010

This text is copied from http://blog.thejerusalemfund.org/.

An Israeli military court convicted Abdallah Abu Rahmah, the coordinator of the Bil’in Popular Committee Against the Wall and Settlements, of incitement and holding illegal demonstrations. The eight-month long ordeal, during which the peaceful activist was imprisoned, also ended with his acquittal on two other charges: stone-throwing and possession of arms.

Abu Rahmah gained international attention for his leading role in the growing nonviolent protest movement in occupied Palestine. His central West Bank village is the site of weekly protests against the encroachment of Israel’s wall and other occupation policies. The wall was considered illegal under international law by the International Court of Justice in a 2004 advisory opinion.

Quite often, Israeli military forces use violence and coercion against unarmed protesters there. Last week, Israeli soldiers in riot gear injured several of them, as well as a journalist. They detained two activists, one Palestinian and one foreign.

Increasingly, Israel criminalizes Palestinian protest, thereby reaffirming its cause and giving way to only more nonviolent opposition.

His conviction through the machinery of the laws of occupation highlight the fact that he, and other Palestinian prisoners, are processed by an illegitimate court administering an occupation and apartheid structure that contravenes international law and norms of justice. Legal prohibitions and enforcement against nonviolent resistance illustrate the inherent criminality of the system, a point made by purveyors and practitioners of civil disobedience, from Thoreau to Gandhi and King Jr.

Civil disobedience, as suggested by the philosopher John Rawls, is a public, non-violent and conscientious breach of law undertaken with the aim of bringing about a change in laws or government policies. The organizers of protests in Bil’in, as well as in Nilin, Budrus and other Palestinian areas, are working in the spirit of this definition.

The severity of the case against him demonstrates Israel’s official fear of nonviolent resistance. Abu Rahmah, himself, believes that this illegitimate campaign against him and the Bil’in activists will only inspire further activism:

Israel’s military campaign to imprison the leadership of the Palestinian popular struggle shows that our non-violent struggle is effective….Whether we are confined in the open-air prison that Gaza has been transformed into, in military prisons in the West Bank, or in our own villages surrounded by the Apartheid Wall, arrests and persecution do not weaken us. They only strengthen our commitment to turning 2010 into a year of liberation through unarmed grassroots resistance to the occupation….This year, the Popular Struggle Coordination Committee will expand on the achievements of 2009, a year in which you amplified our popular demonstrations in Palestine with international boycott campaigns and international legal actions under universal jurisdiction…

Elements of the conviction indicate the political motivations behind his arrest. The indictment cited this as evidence of indictment: Abu Rahmah collected spent Israeli tear-gas projectiles and bullet cases from the sites of demonstrations to prove that the violence was being used against demonstrators.

Israel’s military authorities effectively prohibit the collection of evidence against their policies and practices.

Under military law, incitement is “The attempt, verbally or otherwise, to influence public opinion in the Area in a way that may disturb the public peace or public order” (section 7(a) of the Order Concerning Prohibition of Activities of Incitement and Hostile Propaganda (no.101), 1967), and carries a 10 year maximum sentence.

The sentencing of Abu Rahmah, which begins next month, will be premised on the absurd argument that documenting Israel’s use of force against unarmed demonstrators disturbs the public peace. Public order in the case means the security of the military occupation. The prosecution is expected to recommend a two-year imprisonment sentence.

Beyond the criminality of the charges, the evidence presented against him should raise eyebrows. The prosecution presented the testimonies of minors who were arrested in the middle of the night and questioned without access to legal counsel. Under fair judicial systems testimonies by children made under duress would be inadmissible as evidence. The trial itself is testimony to the police state nature of the occupation.

Abu Rahmah’s case harkens back to the intifada that began in late 1987. This prosecution was the first use of the organizing and illegal demonstrations regulations since then. Military ordinances define “illegal assembly” in a much stricter way than Israeli law does (another example of the apartheid-nature of the occupation). It forbids any assembly of more than 10 people without a permit from the military commander.

The hidden charge, the one not expressly conveyed, is that Abu Rahmah was gaining international visibility, and was rising as a powerful voice of conscience against the forty-three year-old Israeli occupation of the West Bank. Israel is well aware of what damage a Palestinian figure of international stature could cause to Israel’s status quo.

After all, how often have western commentators criticized the Palestinians for lacking a Gandhi? This question was more often a function of the questioner’s ignorance than a reflection of the state of Palestinian nonviolent resistance — which has always been ubiquitous. From circumventing checkpoints, to refusing to pay fees to Israel, to building without permits, Palestinians fundamentally disobey Israel’s overbearing authority on a nearly continuous basis.

It is when leaders emerge that Israel targets them. In 2008, exactly a year before the Israeli military arrested Abu Rahmah in the middle of the night, he received the Carl Von Ossietzky Medal for Outstanding Service in the Realization of Basic Human Rights, which was awarded by the International League for Human Rights in Berlin.

The delegation of international figures and statesmen known as The Elders — including Mary Robinson, Fernando Cardoso, Jimmy Carter, Desmond Tutu and others — visited the memorial of the fallen Bil’in organizer, Bassem Abu Rahmah, in August 2009. Abu Rahmah accompanied them, and is pictured with them in the photo to the left. After his arrest in December, 2009, the South African former archbishop and anti-Apartheid Nobel Laureate Desmond Tutu called for his release.

As with other nonviolent political prisoners, such as Mohammad Othman and Jamal Juma’, Abu Rahmah is intended to be made an example. Mubarak Awad was when he was deported by Israel in 1988 for organizing nonviolent resistance campaigns. However, Abu Rahmah’s case is an example of the excesses and authoritarianism of an occupation regime, one that suffers declining political support and increasing international ostracism.

The occupation is so rooted in violence and coercion that its only answer in the face of nonviolence is more of the same repression that inspires the protests. Because Israel’s occupation runs on force, it cannot distinguish physical and ideational threats by criminalizing them both. Its legal system punishes both through detentions, stripping what few freedoms there are, and through programs of state-sanctioned violence. Knowing that nonviolence has a powerful potential to politically shatter the occupation, the authorities see a need to punish it ruthlessly.

The ideological aims of occupation and settler-colonialism are embedded in this legal administration, making the system morally bankrupt.

For more information on Abu Rahmah, see the Popular Struggle Coordination Committee’s website.

Full text.

Resistance to occupation in Afghanistan

jj August 19th, 2010

To resist a military occupation is a deadly business. Occupation forces have a tendency to focus on their own losses and do their best to hide the killing of civilians. There is no reliable overview of the civilians killed in Afghanistan, but it looks like this Wikipedia-page is doing their best to collect all different calculations: Civilian casualties of the War in Afghanistan (2001–present)

The conclusion from this counting is that direct & indirect deaths adds up to something between 14,643 and 34,240 since the last period of occupation started 2001.

Most probably a more careful study of the material from Wikileak will add to these figures.

And as a comparison:

Updates on the number of Americans killed in Afghanistan:

US Deaths in Afghanistan: Obama vs Bush. Click here to learn more.

Beyond violence and nonviolence

jj July 21st, 2010

Ramzy Baroud, Counterpunch.org, July 16, 2010
Resistance is not a band of armed men hell-bent on wreaking havoc. It is not a cell of terrorists scheming ways to detonate buildings.

True resistance is a culture.

It is a collective retort to oppression.

Understanding the real nature of resistance, however, is not easy. No newsbyte could be thorough enough to explain why people, as a people, resist. Even if such an arduous task was possible, the news might not want to convey it, as it would directly clash with mainstream interpretations of violence and non-violent resistance. The Afghanistan story must remain committed to the same language: al-Qaeda and the Taliban. Lebanon must be represented in terms of a menacing Iran-backed Hizbullah. Palestine’s Hamas must be forever shown as a militant group sworn to the destruction of the Jewish state. Any attempt at offering an alternative reading is tantamount to sympathizing with terrorists and justifying violence.

The deliberate conflation and misuse of terminology has made it almost impossible to understand, and thus to actually resolve bloody conflicts.

Even those who purport to sympathize with resisting nations often contribute to the confusion. Activists from Western countries tend to follow an academic comprehension of what is happening in Palestine, Iraq, Lebanon, and Afghanistan. Thus certain ideas are perpetuated: suicide bombings bad, non-violent resistance good; Hamas rockets bad, slingshots good; armed resistance bad, vigils in front of Red Cross offices good. Many activists will quote Martin Luther King Jr., but not Malcolm X. They will infuse a selective understanding of Gandhi, but never of Guevara. This supposedly ‘strategic’ discourse has robbed many of what could be a precious understanding of resistance – as both concept and culture.

Between the reductionst mainstream understanding of resistance as violent and terrorist and the ‘alternative’ defacing of an inspiring and compelling cultural experience, resistance as a culture is lost. The two overriding definitions offer no more than narrow depictions. Both render those attempting to relay the viewpoint of the resisting culture as almost always on the defensive. Thus we repeatedly hear the same statements: no, we are not terrorists; no, we are not violent, we actually have a rich culture of non-violent resistance; no, Hamas is not affiliated with al-Qaeda; no, Hizbullah is not an Iranian agent. Ironically, Israeli writers, intellectuals and academicians own up to much less than their Palestinian counterparts, although the former tend to defend aggression and the latter defend, or at least try to explain their resistance to aggression. Also ironic is the fact that instead of seeking to understand why people resist, many wish to debate about how to suppress their resistance.

By resistance as a culture, I am referencing Edward Said’s elucidation of “culture (as) a way of fighting against extinction and obliteration.” When cultures resist, they don’t scheme and play politics. Nor do they sadistically brutalize. Their decisions as to whether to engage in armed struggle or to employ non-violent methods, whether to target civilians or not, whether to conspire with foreign elements or not are all purely strategic. They are hardly of direct relevance to the concept or resistance itself. Mixing between the two suggests is manipulative or plain ignorant.

If resistance is “the action of opposing something that you disapprove or disagree with”, then a culture of resistance is what occurs when an entire culture reaches this collective decision to oppose that disagreeable element – often a foreign occupation. The decision is not a calculated one. It is engendered through a long process in which self-awareness, self-assertion, tradition, collective experiences, symbols and many more factors interact in specific ways. This might be new to the wealth of that culture’s past experiences, but it is very much an internal process.

It’s almost like a chemical reaction, but even more complex since it isn’t always easy to separate its elements. Thus it is also not easy to fully comprehend, and, in the case of an invading army, it is not easily suppressed. This is how I tried to explain the first Palestinian uprising of 1987, which I lived in its entirely in Gaza:

“It’s not easy to isolate specific dates and events that spark popular revolutions. Genuine collective rebellion cannot be rationalized though a coherent line of logic that elapses time and space; its rather a culmination of experiences that unite the individual to the collective, their conscious and subconscious, their relationships with their immediate surroundings and with that which is not so immediate, all colliding and exploding into a fury that cannot be suppressed.” (My Father Was A Freedom Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story)

Foreign occupiers tend to fight popular resistance through several means. One includes a varied amount of violence aiming to disorient, destroy and rebuild a nation to any desired image (read Naomi Klein’s The Shock Doctrine). Another strategy is to weaken the very components that give a culture its unique identity and inner strengths – and thus defuse the culture’s ability to resist. The former requires firepower, while the latter can be achieved through soft means of control. Many ‘third world’ nations that boast of their sovereignty and independence might in fact be very much occupied, but due to their fragmented and overpowered cultures – through globalization, for example – they are unable to comprehend the extent of their tragedy and dependency. Others, who might effectively be occupied, often possess a culture of resistance that makes it impossible for their occupiers to achieve any of their desired objectives.

In Gaza, Palestine, while the media speaks endlessly of rockets and Israeli security, and debates who is really responsible for holding Palestinians in the strip hostage, no heed is paid to the little children living in tents by the ruins of homes they lost in the latest Israeli onslaught. These kids participate in the same culture of resistance that Gaza has witnessed over the course of six decades. In their notebooks they draw fighters with guns, kids with slingshots, women with flags, as well as menacing Israeli tanks and warplanes, graves dotted with the word ‘martyr’, and destroyed homes. Throughout, the word ‘victory’ is persistently used.

When I was in Iraq, I witnessed a local version of these kids’ drawings. And while I have yet to see Afghani children’s scrapbooks, I can easily imagine their content too.

Ramzy Baroud is editor of PalestineChronicle.com. His work has been published in many newspapers and journals worldwide. His latest book is The Second Palestinian Intifada: A Chronicle of a People’s Struggle (Pluto Press, London). His newbook is, “My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story” (Pluto Press, London).

Inspiration from Gandhi in present Palestine

jj March 31st, 2010

Everyone has the right to live in freedom. Through history people all around the world have struggled for independence and sovereignty. When the British Empire was forced to leave India in 1947 it was the result of many years of independent struggle led by Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi.

The strategy used by the Indian liberation movement had two main components: Noncooperation and Constructive Program. The Noncooperation included strikes, refusal to follow orders, civil disobedience, refusal to pay taxes, and many other forms of noncooperation with the Viceroy, his administration and supporters. The argument was that the British colonisers were dependent on many different kind of support from the Indian population. And noncooperation with them will weaken the occupiers control over the Indian people. One important campaign was to disobey the law that gave the Brits control over the salt production and distribution. When 80 000 was arrested for illegally picking salt at the beaches the Viceroy had to withdraw the law and let the salt be free for anyone to produce.

The other part of the strategy was Constructive Program. This is the twin-part of the struggle without which the noncooperation will be reduced to symbolic activities. The main idea behind the Constructive Program was to replace all services, products, and structures provided by the Brits. Most famous was the Khadi Campaign that asked all Indians to produce their own cotton textiles by spinning two hours a day. This way they could stop buying British textiles and hence reduce their dependence. This way they started to build the new independent India long before the colonisers left the country. The Constructive Program aimed at preparing the society for the day of Independence and at the same time was a crucial part of the struggle for freedom.

For Gandhi it was just as important to have a good and reliable alternative to replace the foreign rulers as to get rid of the occupiers. In his own evaluation he said that they should have put even more emphasis on the Constructive Program than on the noncooperation activities. Both of them were important but without being able to prove that you can run your own country the victory could be short lived. And he concluded that it was obviously easier to remove the old system than to create a good alternative.

In the present struggle for a free Palestine the Karama Fund has taken up the Gandhian strategy in their work to replace products and services from Settlements with Palestinian alternatives.

Al Karama Fund

The National Dignity & empowerment fund (Al Karama Fund) was established early in 2010 to support the Palestinian people in their struggle against settlement products and services, and lead an international campaign to raise public awareness about the political implications associated with accepting Israeli settlement products in international markets.

In the context of the Palestinian government’s plan for the coming two years, and the Palestinian Authority’s vision in building an Independent state, this National campaign comes as practical translation towards that end. It comes to translate what is mentioned in the government’s document: ‘Ending occupation and establishing a state’, and the government’s attempt to build national capacity, and empower Palestinian economy, and consolidate its steadfastness. All in a way that would encourage other countries to take a strong position against settlements, as Palestinian national policy is seeking. The Palestinian Authority gives special priority to Palestinian products in local markets. This is in addition to its attempts in replacing settlement products with Palestinian ones in international markets. Freeing local and international markets from settlement products is a collective responsibility which requires aligning all efforts at all levels, and the Palestinian Authority is of course the biggest catalyst for these efforts.
Many nations around the world have already imposed restrictions to end importing settlement products along with forbidding any investment in settlements. The Palestinian authority has taken this strict decision against settlement products out of these settlements’ illegality, therefore anything produced in them is illegal.

Regarding trade with Israel, the Palestinian Ministry of Economy confirms continuing its cooperation as it was agreed at the Paris summit, although it is aware of its unfairness since Israeli products stream into our markets while Israel forbids any of our products from reaching its markets. In addition, Israel places many obstacles that face Palestinian products waiting to be exported to foreign countries, thereby; Israel is even denying Palestinian rights which were agreed in the Paris agreement.

The Goals of Al-Karameh National Fund:

-To self empower : by building and consolidating individual capacity, and depending on national efforts and human resources in meeting local product requirements.

- Liberating Palestinian markets from Settlement products,

- Encouraging Palestinian production

- Providing job opportunities for those unemployed.

- Developing the national industry and alleviates it to stage where one is easily convinced that it is an alternative for settlement products, and that it in fact enjoys better quality than that produced in Israel and in Settlements.

To execute this idea the Ministry of National Economy held a launching ceremony, through which it gathered 2 million Dollars in donations made by public figures, private sector representatives, along with contributions from the president’s office and the Palestinian government.

The Palestinian council for consumer protection supervises this Fund, and it is directed by an executive council that functions in accordance with measures of accountability and transparency. This council is made up of representatives from both the private and public sectors, and will provide its regular reports on financial contributions and expenditure to its supporters and contributors, in addition to publishing financial and work reports on its website.

Financial contributions made to the Fund are allocated for marketing and media campaigns along with raising public awareness to combat settlement products and clean local markets from it. It will also fund regular field research on what the portion that settlement products occupy in local markets, and provide this information for Palestinian, Arab, and International consumers. Also, Al-Karameh  national Fund is building a coherent database of settlement products, and will be made available for people with information on the product, its ingredients, where it was produced, where it is marketed, and which Palestinian products it competes with.

Individuals assigned to clean out markets from settlement products are financed through Al-Karameh national Fund. It will provide incentives to merchants who voluntarily stop dealing with settlement products. Palestinian consumers will be encouraged to replace settlement products with Palestinian ones through the different consumer protection organizations that will be supported by the fund.

The Fund will also support activities that build Palestinian consumers’ trust in local products, and anything that contributes towards further improving the standards and quality of Palestinian products.

If you want to support please sign the pledge.

Guerilla

Lucinda Andersson March 1st, 2010

Guerilla is a Spanish word, meaning small war, which has its origin in the Spanish resistance to the French occupation during the Napoleonic wars, guerrilla warfare, as a method should be considered as old as other methods of warfare. Guerrilla warfare is a resistance tactic where small armed groups attacks a militarily, and in numbers of combatants, superior enemy. Since the guerrillas are inferior the element of surprise becomes crucial. One avoids direct confrontation with the main forces, instead one use the tactic of attacking the enemy at the place and time when it is at its weakest. The guerrillas have often their bases in rural areas where it can rely on the local peoples support and the hard terrain to remain protected from attacks. To cause further confusion and complication to the enemy the guerillas usually remain in small scattered groups, until they become sufficiently numerous and militarily strong enough to win a complete war against the enemy by regular warfare.

Guerrilla warfare is used by resistance movements against their own government, or against an occupying power. There are also historical examples where the tactics of guerilla warfare has been used in war between states, where its function is to fight the enemy behind their own lines by creating chaos and confusion.

In modern times, guerrilla warfare has gained a central role in the revolutionary theory. The guerilla warfare as an ideology was developed by Mao Zedong, Ernesto “Che” Guevara, and Vo Nguyen Giap among others, who all believed that guerrilla warfare was by far the most effective strategy for bringing about a revolution. China, Cuba, Nicaragua, Algeria and Vietnam are examples of countries where guerrilla warfare have been proved successful.

The guerrilla’s biggest problem occurs when the revolution is completed and the guerrilla leaders are finally the ones who own the power. History has shown how many liberation movements have gone from being the liberators of the people to being the oppressors of the people. As an example, one might use the Maoist Liberation Movement in China, which later came to power as China’s Communist Party and that of many would be described as one of the most oppressive regimes in modern times.

In Mexico, a post-modern guerilla is emerging; the Zapatistas. Their tactics differ extensively from the ones of previous guerillas by their different view on violence. They have chosen not to use offensive tactics, but to only use their weapons in self-defense, if they would be attacked. Is it possible to call the Zapatistas a guerrilla movement? If the answer is yes, it will open up for an update of the guerrilla concept, wich will bring the guerrillas into a new era.

References

Lyth, Einar (2010-02-24), Gerillakrigföring, http://www.ne.se/school/lang/gerillakrigf% C3% B6ring, National Encyclopedia online edition (Swedish)

Peralta, Amanda (2009), Våldsamt Motstånd i Latin America, 1950-2000, chap. 4, Lily and Vinthagen (eds.), Liber AB

Nonviolent Livelihood Struggle and Global Militarism: Links & Strategies

jj October 26th, 2009

International Conference, Ahmedabad, India, 22 – 25 of January 2010
Symbol

There is an inescapable link between the globalisation-induced displacement, dis-employment and dispossession that are results of internal wars and ravage local, traditional and indigenous natural-resource based communities everywhere. There is a linkage between these and the monstrous international wars – whether they are fought in Afghanistan, Iraq, Congo or Somalia. The biggest challenge therefore is to build alliances that are local and global at the same time, and those that not only resist injustice but also present alternatives.

Medha Patkar

War Resisters’ International is cooperating with Indian partner organisations for an international conference investigating the links between local nonviolent livelihood struggles and global militarism, including war profiteering. This participatory conference will bring together campaigners from all over the world to analyse the role of states and multinational corporations in depriving local communities of their sources of livelihood, and learning from the experience of nonviolent resistance at various levels – from the community to the global – and at various phases, from preventing displacement to planning for return.

More info here.

Registration here.

The Armed Basque Resistance (ETA) (On next Gothenburg Resistance Studies Seminar)

Stellan Vinthagen May 31st, 2009

On the 4 June Vera Häggblom, former student at School of Global Studies is presenting her study on ETA and the armed Basque Resistance. (Annedalsseminariet, at 15:15-17, Room 403). Her study looks at the historical development of ETA and its changing tactics, trying to see the dynamic between state repression, negotiation attempts, and ETA activity.

Please read the short introductory text before the seminar (you find the  seminar text here). The full text exists only in Swedish, and is accessible here.

In the first paragraph of the seminar text Häggblom writes: “The aim of this seminar is to shed light upon the dynamic interaction going on between the Basque resistance movement ETA, the Spanish government and the Basque public. My main questions are to find out why the violence performed by the Basque separatist movement has prevailed until our days and what could eventually make it come to an end.”

All very much welcome to this seminar, , the last of the season. We hope many people want to join us at the post-seminar at 17:15 at restaurant Gyllene Prag, where we will celebrate the successfull completion of the fourth season of our Gothenburg Resistance Studies Seminar.

We will be back with much more next seminar, beginning in September (until December), when we also will have a book-launch of our two recently published books, one in Swedish (“MotstÃ¥nd” at the publishing house Liber, edited by Mona Lilja and Stellan Vinthagen, order here), and one in English, which is a printed version of our online refereed journal Resistance Studies Magazine, edited by Christopher Kullenberg. Dates and invitations will be announced here later on. Stay tuned!

See you,

Stellan

Madagascar: Radio station accused of “inciting civil disobedience and undermining public confidence in institutions.”

jj May 10th, 2009

Since the War Tribunal on Rwanda accused radio stations for war crimes the role of media in conflicts are discussed more than ever. States are using the opportunities to block oppositional voices all over the world. Here is a recent case from Madagascar:

Detained Radio Mada Reporter is Charged And Transferred to Prison

7 May 2009

press release from Reporters Without Borders:

Reporters Without Borders is alarmed by today’s decision to keep Radio Mada sports reporter Evariste Ramanantsoavina in detention and charge him with “inciting revolt against the republic’s institutions,” defamation and disseminating false information. He was arrested on 5 May and forced to reveal the location from which the radio was broadcasting in defiance of a closure order.

“Even if one could understand why the authorities wanted to prevent a radio station from continuing to broadcast clandestinely in violation of an official ban, the way they singled out one of its journalists and the manner of his arrest are shocking and incomprehensible,” Reporters Without Borders said, calling for Ramanantsoavina’s immediate release.

Ramanantsoavina was taken this evening to the prosecutor’s office in Antananarivo, where he was formally charged and an order was issued transferring him to prison. He will now have to spend the weekend in prison pending a trial hearing on 11 May.

He was arrested at his home at 5 a.m. on 5 May by masked soldiers as his daughters looked on, and was taken to the National Mixed Committee for Investigations (CNME), which is located in the suburb of Ambohibao, in premises that used to be the headquarters of the former domestic intelligence service, the DGID.

There he was made to reveal the secret location from which Radio Mada, which supports the exiled former president, Marc Ravalomanana, has been broadcasting since the change of government. Soldiers then went to the location, dismantled its transmitter and seized equipment under communication ministry closure order 01/096mcc of 27 April accusing the station of “inciting civil disobedience and undermining public confidence in institutions.”

The decision to bring charges against Ramanantsoavina contradicted an initial statement by communication ministry secretary-general Charles-Aimé Randriamorasata that the authorities had arrested him simply to find out where Radio Mada was broadcasting from.

His arrest just 48 hours after World Press Freedom Day stunned journalists in Madagascar and was immediately condemned by the Order of Madagascan Journalists, which called for his unconditional release.

Aware that Madagascar is currently in a difficult period that has given rise to cases of unprofessional behaviour by some news media, Reporters Without Borders reiterates its call to all the country’s journalists to provide responsible, objective news coverage and not take sides in the ongoing political power struggle.

Reporters Without Borders defends imprisoned journalists and press freedom throughout the world. It has nine national sections (Austria, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland). It has representatives in Bangkok, London, New York, Tokyo and Washington. And it has more than 120 correspondents worldwide.

Unique Interview with Prof Gene Sharp

Stellan Vinthagen March 4th, 2009

In Boston, just about a week ago, two members of the Resistance Studies Network, Jörgen Johansen and I, did an interview with the classic researcher on nonviolent resistance: Gene Sharp, in Boston, USA. The interview is taped by the film-maker Ninja Thyberg and will be made into a tutoring video later on.

Gene Sharp wrote the ground breaking book: The Politics of Nonviolent Action in 1973. It was the first real research in which the thinking and practice of Mohandas K. Gandhi became part of the political theory.

Sharp developed in his PhD a power theory of consent, claiming that the power of rulers depend on the consent of those ruled. If their consent was withdrawn – through strikes, non-cooperation, civil disobedience, etc. – then the rulers would not be able to rule anymore. From this basic point Sharp developed his detailed theory of nonviolent strategies and methodologies, documenting more than 198 methods already being used in the history in various contexts and in different periods of history.

Today, after numerous books and articles, Gene Sharp is the giant of nonviolent resistance research. His work has inspired several resistance movements in the world. For the most comprehensive collection of his work, see the Albert Einstein Institution.

The unique interview is important since it is done by two researchers on nonviolent resistance, and focus on the problems and criticism of that exists. Thus, it is a video that will display a critical discussion on the potential of nonviolent resistance.

Resistance against the Israeli blockade of Gaza?!

Stellan Vinthagen January 4th, 2009

Some people in the network have been discussing an idea of a “Ship to Gaza”: breaking the inhumane and criminal blockade of Gaza’s 1,5 million people by sailing a boat into Gaza. The idea is to create a “people-to-people” solidarity by involving a broad coalition of people movements (from various political and religious strands) and collect materials that are needed in Gaza (medicine, clothes, seeds, toys, etc.).

The boat would take off from Sweden and travel during several weeks through a number of harbors (Glasgow, Amsterdam, etc.) and collect supplies to the people in Gaza, as well as hold political and cultural events in these towns. In order to get more media attention and to create a necessary protection against aggressive attacks from Israel there is a need to have a number of international VIP on board. If we would succeed to have e.g. Desmond Tutu on board the last part of the trip from Cyprus to Gaza it would be very, very difficult for the Israeli Navy to sink the ship. The broad civil society involvement created by various groups and the media attention created would hopefully help to create a pressure on the politicians in Europe. We have contacts in Gaza and Palestine and will collaborate with them in the work. Still, the Ship to Gaza is not an act of solidarity with Hamas. It is an act of solidarity with the people in Gaza. It is thought of as a political people-to-people solidarity act, against the inhumane and criminal acts of Israel as shown in several UN resolutions and by e.g. the UN Human Rights officer for Palestine, Richard Falk.

The “Free Gaza Movement” has already brought six smaller boats on such missions the last months. Five have reached Gaza despite threats from the Israeli Navy. The last one, “rammed a Israeli Navy ship which was damaged”, according to the spokes-woman from Israel…, i.e. the small Free Gaza boat was so badly damaged by the aggressive Navy attack that it started to leak water and had to turn to Lebanon. Now the Free Gaza Movement is asking for more international participants for coming boats in the near future.

Our idea of a larger boat with several containers with supplies to Gaza will take time, money, and a lot of organising.  We don’t know if we will find the needed interest and resources to make it happen. But in these days of the war crimes in Gaza it feels even more compelling to act.

At this initial stage we welcome suggestions, criticism, contacts, information, or volunteers who would like to join us. Please feel free to comment here or send an email directly to stellan.vinthagen[at]resistancestudies.org

There will be first meetings in Stockholm (11 25 Jan) and Gothenburg (18 25 Jan 8 Feb) in which it will become clear if enough people are willing to organise this needed resistance.

The ‘War on Terror’ Perspectives from the Global South

Stellan Vinthagen November 26th, 2008

[Please forward to all who may be interested]

On 11-12 December 2008, the Centre for the Study of ‘Radicalisation’ and Contemporary Political Violence (CSRV), based in the Department of International Politics, Aberystwyth University, will host a conference exploring perspectives on the ‘War on Terror’ as it is seen and experienced in the Global South.. The conference is part of a series of seminars, funded by the ESRC with additional financial support from BISA, on under-studied aspects of what is variably called ‘terrorism’, ‘political violence’ or ‘radicalisation’, but which for reasons of inclusivity we refer to as ‘political violence’. The aim of this conference is to provide a forum for scholars engaged in considering the ‘War on Terror’ from a Southern perspective, and to encourage scholars with knowledge in this field to focus on this rather neglected topic. Research focusing on this topic is rather thin on the ground, and we hope that this conference will go some way towards addressing this deficit.

Drawing both on regional studies and thematic analysis, the conference is organised in three panels: The ‘War on Terror’: Regional Implications; The Effect and Effectiveness of Counter Terror Policies in the ‘War on Terror’; and Human Rights and the ‘War on Terror’. The conference will finish with a plenary session, drawing together themes and issues from these discussions. Speakers will engage with the experience of the ‘War on Terror’ in a wide range of regions and countries: Latin America; Africa in general; Uganda and Tanzania; Morocco; Turkey; Pakistan; India; the Phillipines; and Sri Lanka. Issues considered include the securitisation and the politicization of aid; militarization; impacts on peace processes and domestic politics; repression; counter-insurgency policy; Islamism; and anti-terror legislation.

A sponsorship has allowed low fees, just £50 for staff, and £35 for students.

For more details, and a booking form, please visit: http://www.aber.ac.uk/interpol/en/research/conferences.htm
Or alternatively, email the conference administrator, Charlie Thame at

cet06 @ aber . ac. uk (type the address without spaces when you email)

Hizbollah change strategy in Lebanon

jj May 11th, 2008

Hizbollah withdraws from Beirut easing crisis, but promise to continue with civil disobedience.

Hizbollah is withdrawing from Beirut after the army overturned government measures that sparked a revolt by the Syrian-backed Shi’ite movement. The group had been in control of Muslim west Beirut after driving out pro-government militias in a battle lasting several days. It was the worst internal fighting in the capital since the 1975-1990 civil war.

The pullout came after the army said the head of security at Beirut airport could keep his job and that military commanders would handle Hizbollah’s communications network. These were the two issues underlying the violence. Hizbollah has their own communication Network and camera surveillence in part of the city. One reason for the government to shut down the net was that Hizbollah had cameras on the road to the airport and could hence see and identify people arriving to and leaving from the airport.

The crisis has highlighted the weakness of of Prime Minister Fouad Sinioura anti-Syria cabinet. Before allowing the army to broker an end to the stand-off he had accused Hizbollah of staging a coup and trying to re-assert Damascus’s influence over the country. In his first response to Hezbollah’s de facto takeover of the west of the capital, Mr Siniora said his government would never declare war against the Shia group.

The fighting that claimed at least 27 lives spread beyond Beirut, reigniting sectarian tensions in several areas. The street battles may have ended but Hizbollah has promised to continue a campaign of civil disobedience against the government until all its political demands are met.

Sources: BBC, EuroNews and Chinaview

Over 100 organizations call for boycott of “Israel at 60″ celebrations

jj April 5th, 2008

The “Boycott-Divest-Sanctions” National Committee has called for a boycott of celebrations planned by the state of Israel to commemorate the 60th anniversary of Israel’s creation in 1948. 104 organizations have signed on to the appeal, including civil society groups, non-governmental organizations, trade unions, popular committees and political organizations.

Will Resistance Studies Network support this appeal?

Boycott Israel

The appeal challenges the celebration of the creation of the state of Israel, saying that the project of Israel is a colonial project that completely disenfranchised the indigenous Palestinian population.

In addition, the appeal urges “international civil society in all its components, particularly institutions and individuals working in the arts, academia, sport, trade unions, and communities of faith” to boycott any events associated with the “Israel at 60” celebrations. The appeal states that support of these events undermines the Palestinian resistance, while strengthening the Israeli Occupation’s hold on Palestine.

The following is the text of the appeal, and the list of signatories:

Palestinian Appeal to International Civil Society

Sixty Years of Dispossession and Ethnic Cleansing

Boycott the “Israel at 60″ Celebrations!

30 March 2008

How can you celebrate? The establishment of the State of Israel sixty years ago was a settler-colonial project that systematically and violently uprooted more than 750 thousand Palestinian Arabs from their lands and homes. Sixty years ago, Zionist militias and gangs ransacked Palestinian properties and destroyed hundreds of Palestinian villages. How can people of conscience celebrate this catastrophe.

Israel at 60 is a state that continues to deny Palestinian refugees their UN-sanctioned right to return to their homes and receive compensation, simply because they are “non-Jews.” It still illegally occupies Palestinian and other Arab lands, in violation of numerous UN resolutions. It persists in its blatant denial of fundamental Palestinian human rights, in contravention of international humanitarian law and human rights conventions. It still subjects its own Palestinian citizens to a system of institutionalized discrimination, strongly reminiscent of the defunct apartheid regime in South Africa. And Israel gets away with all this, thanks to the unprecedented immunity granted to it by the unlimited and munificent US and European economic, diplomatic, political, and academic support.

In view of this multi-faceted oppression that is the reality of Israel today, we regard any Arab or international participation, whether individual or institutional, in any activity that contributes, either directly or indirectly, to the “celebrations” of Israel’s establishment, as collusion in the perpetuation of the dispossession and uprooting of refugees, the prolongation of the occupation, and the deepening of Israeli apartheid. Inviting Israel as a “guest of honor” to the Turin and Paris book fairs, for example, is not only a deliberate betrayal of basic principles of human rights, including those enshrined in the laws of the European Union itself, but is also a deliberate attempt to cover up Israel’s crimes against the Arab people, especially its successive war crimes in Lebanon and Palestine, and its acts of slow genocide against a million and a half Palestinians in the besieged and collectively punished Gaza Strip. In short, celebrating “Israel at 60″ is tantamount to dancing on Palestinian graves.

We urge international civil society in all its components, particularly institutions and individuals working in the arts, academia, sport, trade unions, and communities of faith to boycott the “Israel at 60″ celebrations wherever they are held in the world.

These celebrations, by definition, insult our history, violate our rights, and deepen our oppression. They also render the path to justice, freedom, equality, and sustainable peace based on international law longer than ever before.

Institutional Endorsers:

Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI)
Department of Refugee Affairs – PLO
Jerusalem-The Arab Cultural Capital Project, Jerusalem
Higher National Committee for the Defense of the Right to Return
The General Union of Palestinian Women
Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions, PGFTU
Palestinian Farmers’ Union
Popular Committee Against the Siege (PCAS), Gaza
Federation of Palestinian Refugee Camp Youth Centers
Higher National Committee for the Commemoration of the Nakba, Palestine
Refugee Affairs Department, Mobilization and Organization, Fatah Movement
Palestinian NGO Network (PNGO)
Ittijah-Union of the Arab Community Based Organizations, Haifa
Palestinian Lawyers’ Syndicate
Palestinian Journalists’ Association, Jerusalem
Palestinian Engineers’ Syndicate, Jerusalem
Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees, UPWC, Ramallah
Stop the Wall-the Grassroots Palestinian Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign
Union of Employees at Private Schools-West Bank
Association of Residents of Depopulated Villages and Cities, Ramallah
General Federation of Cultural Centers, Gaza
Jerusalem Center for Social & Economic Rights JCSER, Jerusalem
Federation of Independent Workers Committees, Gaza
League of Palestinian Refugees in Europe
BADIL Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights, Bethlehem
Occupied Palestine Golan heights Advocacy Initiative (OPGAI)
Al-Aswar Organization for Cultural and Social Development, Acre
University Teachers Association, Gaza
Joint Advocacy Initiative of the YMCA-YWCA (JAI), Jerusalem
General Union of Health Service Workers, Gaza
Aida Refugee Camp Social Center, Aida Refugee Camp
A’idoun Group, Syria
Palestinian Community in Scandinavia
Canadian Arab Federation
Palestinian Counseling Center, Jerusalem
Land Research Center, Palestine, Jerusalem
Muwatin the Palestinian Institute for the Study of Democracy
Palestinian Association of Brantford–Canada
Center for the Defense of Freedoms and Civil Rights (Hurriyat)
Wihdah Democratic Action Institute (Wa’ad)–Bethlehem
Federation of Agricultural Action Committees
Canada Palestine Association, Vancouver
Addameer, Ramallah
Ma’an Development Center, Ramallah
Gaza Center for Culture and Arts
Voice of Palestine, Canada
Canadian Palestinian Association, Ontario, Canada
Taghrid Association for Culture, Development and Reconstruction, Gaza
Jabalya-al-Nazaleh Cultural Center, Jabalya Camp, Gaza
Federation of Agricultural Work Committees, Gaza
Turathuna Charitable Society, Gaza
The Popular Committee at al-Burayj Camp, Gaza
El-Funoun Palestinian Popular Dance Troupe, Al-Bireh
Adalah-NY: The Coalition for Justice in the Middle East, New York
General Union of Services and Trade Workers, Gaza Governorates
The National Council of Arab Americans – Metropolitan New York Chapter, NY
The Arab Muslim American Federation
The Palestinian American Congress, New York
Dramatists’ Federation
Society for the Development of Women, al-Burayj Camp, Gaza
Yanbou’ Cultural Forum, al-Reina
Palestinian Human Rights Monitor (Rassid), Gaza
Yabous Productions, Jerusalem
The Arab Student Observatory of Victims of Occupation and Blockade of the General Union of Arab Students (GUAS)
Arab Culture Society
Al-Siwar-Arab Feminist Movement to Support Victims of Sexual Assault, Haifa
Popular Art Centre, Al-Bireh
Federation of Working Women’s Committees
Palestinian Federation of Women’s Action Committees
Al-Najda Association for the Development of Palestinian Women
Teacher Creativity Center, Ramallah
Palestinian Association for Contemporary Art (PACA)
Al-Quds Information Bank, Gaza
Women’s Center for Legal Aid and Counseling, Ramallah
The Palestinian Working Women’s Society for Development
Jimzo Charitable Society
Al-Lidd (Lydda) Charitable Society, Ramallah-Al-Bireh Governorate
Al-Lidd (Lydda) Social Association, Beitunia
Lifta Charitable Society, Palestine
Committee of Residents of Greater Masmiyya, Ramallah-Al-Bireh Governorate
Falsteen Al Gaad association – Deheisha refugee camp
Meethaq Center for Development, Alkahder
Women Development Center, Addoha, Bethlehem
Al Feeneeq Center, Duheisheh Refugee Camp
Palestinian Progressive Youth Union, Gaza
Palestinian Women’s Information and Media Center, Gaza
Said Mishal Foundation for Culture and Science, Gaza
Assala Association for Heritage and Development, Gaza
Jerusalem Center for Arabic Music, Jerusalem
International Academy of Art Palestine, Ramallah
Juthourr Cultural Society, Gaza
Women’s Research and Legal Counseling Center, Gaza
Media Forum for Women Affairs Advocacy, Gaza
Palestinian Cultural Center, Gaza
Refugees Popular Committee, Gaza
Workers Resource Center, Gaza
Progressive Union Work Society, Gaza
Friends of An-Nour Center Society, Gaza
Al-Aqsa Charitable Youth Welfare Society, Gaza
The One Democratic State Group, Gaza
Arab Cultural Forum, Gaza
Palestinian Democratic Union-Fida

Berghof’s new publication series on resistance/liberation movements

jj April 3rd, 2008

Berghof Transitions Series:
New case studies on the CPN-M (Nepal) and the LTTE (Sri Lanka).

We are pleased to announce the release of two further reports in Berghof’s new publication series on resistance/liberation movements in transition from arms to politics.

Kiyoko Ogura:
Seeking State Power – The Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist)
(March 2008) – Berghof Transitions No. 3
http://www.berghof-center.org/uploads/download/transitions_cpnm.pdf

Suthaharan Nadarajah, Luxshi Vimalarajah:
The Politics of Transformation: The LTTE and the 2002-2006 Peace Process in Sri Lanka
(April 2008) – Berghof Transitions No. 4
http://www.berghof-center.org/uploads/download/transitions_ltte.pdf

For more information on the project and further reports, please check out our website at: http://www.berghof-center.org/std_page.php?LANG=e&id=183&parent=10

To order hardcopies (€ 6.00 + postage), please send an email to:order@berghof-center.org

Enjoy! We are looking forward to your feedback and comments.

Moqtada al-Sadr and Civil Disobedience

jj March 26th, 2008

According to several press reports in the last 24 hours there are obviously a huge offensive going on against supporters of Moqtada al-Sadr in Basra and Sadr city. The six-months ceasefire was extended last month and it looked like there were some negotiating going on between the Sadrist movement and US/al-Maliki. Now it suddenly looks like the government and the occupiers are doing their best to crush Sadr and his people.

Moqtada al-Sadr

According to Agence France-Presse Sadr called for “all Iraqis to launch protests across all provinces. If the government does not respect these demands, the second step will be general civil disobedience in Baghdad and the Iraqi provinces.”

I wonder if any Arabic-skilled reader of this blog could check if this is an accurate translation? The ceasefire Moqtada al-Sadr announced was a surprise in itself, but if he does not lift it after this powerful military attack and ask his followers to use civil disobedience it is an amazing new strategy from his side. Something for a researcher of resistance strategies to look into!

Scotland’s Future Without Nuclear Weapons?

Justin October 17th, 2007

On Monday 22nd October there will be a summit in Glasgow called by the new Scottish Government bringing together Government Ministers, Peace Campaigners, Academics, Trade Unionists, Environmentalists and Journalists to begin to develop a strategy to rid Scotland of nuclear weapons. It does not appear to be their intention to make this a long drawn out empty gesture but to find real and practical ways to stop the UK government from stationing its weapons here, and thereby bringing into doubt its ability to station them anywhere. Although the devolved Scottish Government has no control over UK defence matters, it does control issues such as health and safety, environmental policy and planning matters.

The Herald newspaper environmental correspondent, Rob Edwards, reported on October 17th that “Plans to refurbish the Clyde naval bases to accommodate a replacement for the Trident nuclear weapons system could be stymied by Scottish ministers, according to an internal memo from the Ministry of Defence (MoD). A new dry dock for servicing nuclear submarines would require planning permission, while other developments would be subject to a raft of pollution controls. These are all the responsibility of the Scottish government, not Westminster. On October 22, Scottish Nationalist ministers are holding a summit in
Glasgow aimed at identifying ways of preventing the UK government from going ahead with a replacement for Trident”.
 

This follows on from a recent meeting between Peace campaigners and the Scottish Justice Minister. It was organised by peace campaignes, including Angie Zelter who was a prime mover behind the Faslane 365 year of daily blockades that ended on October 1st. Campaigners stressed that they are not going to stop protesting until the Government scraps Trident, and are going to continue to support the Scottish Parliament in its struggle to outlaw these weapons of mass destruction. On November 3rd there is going to be a demonstration outside Parliament in Edinburgh, under the wonderful slogan: “People and Parliament against Trident”. 

A group of activist academics attended the final blockade on October 1st – the last in a year of blockades that has helped keep nuclear weapons centre stage and thereby helped to elect an anti-nuclear Government in Scotland that is not afraid to stand up to London on this issue. The academics at the meeting in Edinburgh had also attended the two delightfully effective Academic Conference Blockades organised by Stellan Vinthagen and others earlier in the year, delightful both for the quality of the papers given and by the fact that they happened on the road blocking workers and military seeking to enter the base.  

In a paper Stellan gave at one of the conferences, he wrote about the way in which the media and the law can seek to isolate any act of opposition and so make it appear foolish (what is the POINT of blocking a road and disrupting traffic for a day? What can ONE person do?), and he wrote about the way all the tiny acts of production that make holocaust possible are linked in a production chain in which each individual involved experiences themselves as “just doing my job”. He wrote that:
“The judicial system, like the economic system, makes processes of injustice disappear by treating them as isolated acts. The practical genius of the system is to connect seemingly unconnected acts to a whole complex production chain. The ideological genius of the system is to seemingly disconnect the very same acts, and dissolve their moral and political meaning.”
Whether protesting, dialoguing and presenting papers on the roads outside bases, or in discussion with Government Ministers, we will continue to disrupt and engage with the chain that is producing starvation, war and environmental devastation; and we will continue to make the connections despite the way the system seeks to render such connection-making futile and foolish. The success we are experiencing does, however, suggest quite a startling potential resolution to the question of whether progressive and radical social change can only be made by seizing state power (Callinicos 2005) or whether we can change the world without taking power (Holloway 2005). The implication being that rather than either seeking to seize power or refusing to take power, we can act in a way which reconfigures, redistributes and reorientates power through remaining open to those who appear to still be holding all the power while refusing to let the centre of gravity slip away from our purposeful actions. Rather than asking our representatives to act for us (and instead of us) we need to act in a way which includes them (if they are willing) or leaves them behind (if they are not). This requires an ability to remain open to those who appear to be wielding coercive power, in order to connect with the real person in the role, in order to seek to bring them onside while refusing to accept that in carrying out that power they are anything but powerless. A small example: I was taking part in one of these peaceful blockades of this Faslane nuclear submarine base in Scotland, as part of this year long attempt to persuade the public to elect politicians who will dismantle our weapons of mass destruction. Along with several others I was arrested and held in a police van before being taken to the police cells for a much needed good nights sleep. The power structure of coercion is pretty evident in the situation, but there is also another aspect. When one policeman was left on his own with us for a brief spell, I handed him a badge which said simply “Question Authority” on it. He looked at it and smiled, saying “my boss wouldn’t like this”. I said he was welcome to keep it, and he hesitated before smiling again and putting it in his pocket. His willingness to receive this gift involved accepting the spirit of the gift, perhaps made possible because the words on the badge and his action were perfectly aligned not despite, but because of, his awareness of the structures of power.

Developing ways of confronting coercive power that builds relationality and mutuality by defying the internalised message that nothing we do can ever be enough to change the system, is perhaps itself a crucial way of unravelling the system of coercion and reweaving a politics of mutuality. 

Another Wall, another protest

Christopher Kullenberg September 14th, 2007

The last few days there have been protests in Bagdad against a wall built by the US military forces intended to separate shia and sunni muslims, while Bush announces a strategy for long term plans in Iraq. Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter reports that Bagdad used to be a very heterogenous city. However, during the US occupation, it has become more and more divided because of the conflicts emerging from the unrest. The wall is, according to the US military, deployed in order to protect the Bagdad citizens from terrorist attacks and other dangerous activities. The protesters, on the other hand, argue that building walls only makes secterism, divisions and difference more possible, and a counter-productive strategy in making peace possible in Iraq.

I am very interested in walls, as they have popped up in for example Israel for basically the same purpose, and have severe conseqences for dividing cities in more than just one way. Muqtada al Sadr have urged the people of Bagdad to paint the wall in a fashion showing the world “The ugly face of the US-occupiers”, so in one way there is even semi-organized resistance taking place.

Walls, wars and territorialities fuel resistance movements. Yesterday the first Resistance Seminar took place in Gothenburg (see Seminar page) and I had a very interesting discussion with Jörgen on the complicated structure of resistance the Middle Eastern regions, especially since the military forces very often have to withdraw because the guerilla warfare is too hard to combat.

As walls are interesting I would like to ask if this hypothesis is reasonable: “Wherever there is a wall, there will be resistance”. Examples: Berlin, Jerusalem, Bagdad………..

To Resist the US Empire

jj September 8th, 2007

A number of actors around the world dislike the American Empire. The numbers of demonstrations, protests, articles and speeches against their dominance are probably higher than what any other empire in history have been confronted with. In addition there are wars on many fronts. Iraq and Afghanistan being the most intense once for the moment, but the real picture is better described by the fact that US have soldiers in 130 states around the world. The costs of these deployments are obviously regarded as necessary to protect their interests.

The military strengths of US are challenged on the battlefield these days. They are loosing in both Iraq and Afghanistan as well as in the so called “War on Terrorism”. In these extreme asymmetric wars their military capacities proves to be unfit.
The most vulnerable side of the empire is probably their economy. With a deficit of 2 billion dollars a day they don’t have a sustainable future. The value of their dollar is falling dramatically and will probably do so for the time to come. The market is pricing the dollar mainly based on how many are using it. When Saddam Hussein changed from selling oil in dollar to do it in Euro he probably made more damage to the empire than his army ever could do. And many argue that this was the main reason for the US occupation in 2003.

This week Iran took their decision to sell oil to Nippon Oil in yen and not dollar. This will probably escalate the conflict between US and Iran. The picture drawn by main stream media of Iran is to a large degree a product of propaganda. And this will be more intense in the months to come. Dick Cheney’s office has recently issued “instructions” to conservative think tanks like the American Enterprise Institute to start a drumbeat for attacking Iran.

How would an actual war be launched, given the expected opposition of the Democratic-controlled Congress? To that end, President Bush’s decision to declare Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps a terrorist group provides an opportunity. If the IRGC, Iran’s alternate military, is a terrorist group, Bush could claim authority under the September 18, 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force in Afghanistan to take action against Iran without Congressional approval, citing the AUMF’s broad provision that “the President has authority under the Constitution to take action to deter and prevent acts of international terrorism against the United States.”

Everyone using dollars should be aware that to pay in US$ is a way of supporting the empire. A way to resist the empire is to trade in other currencies.

The Anti-Oil Law Front Stages a Massiv Nonviolent Demonstration in Baghdad

jj September 6th, 2007

The US Forces Tried To Provoke the Demonstrators
The US Forces Tried To Provoke the Demonstrators

The Anti-oil Law Front staged a demonstration in the center of Baghdad (Liberation Square) under Liberty Monument. The demonstrators raised slogans in English and Arabic denouncing the oil Law and chanted against the US administration and its appointed government. The US forces surrounded the rally for half an hour and took pictures of the demonstrators who carried the banners. They also blocked the traffic to prevent people joining the demonstration in an attempt to spread terror among whoever intends to join the rally. The area was filled with hundreds of police and National Guard of whom dozens sympathized with the demonstrators and the cause.

Also dozens of Arab, foreign and domestic media broadcasted the event live and conducted interviews with the leaders of the demonstration. The event has involved many speeches by Subhi Al-Badri president of the front and Chairman of IFC executive bureau, Sami Hassan, Political Bureau member of the Worker Communist Party of Iraq and Faleh Mactof secretary of Federation of workers councils and unions in Iraq.

The demonstrators raised banners with slogans saying “Down with the oil law, the oil law is the law of occupation; 26 million people reject the law of occupation, etc. . .”

This demonstration comes as part of the campaign launched by the Anti-oil Law Front, which comprised of sit-ins, strikes, conferences and gatherings.

Court orders West Bank fence re-routed at Bili’in

jj September 4th, 2007

From Haaretz

More info about Bili’in here .

The High Court of Justice Tuesday ordered the state to redraw, partially dismantle and rebuild the route of a 1.7 kilometer section of the West Bank separation fence, which was built on land belonging to Bili’in, a Palestinian village which has become a focus of opposition to the barrier.

For nearly three years, the fence has been at the focus of weekly demonstrations at Bili’in, punctuated by violent confrontations between protesters and soldiers and police deployed at the site.

The existing fence route is built around a part of the Matitiyahu East neighborhood of Modi’in Illit settlement. The government had argued that the route was necessary to protect residents of Modi’in Illit, and completed the section of fence that cut through Bilin despite the protests.
The three-judge panel, headed by Chief Justice Dorit Beinish, unanimously accepted an appeal petition by the head of the Bili’in local council against the route of the fence and its presence on land belonging to the village. They ordered defense planners to change the barrier’s route so it causes less harm
to the village’s residents

The fence occupies 260 dunams of village land. It also blocks access to another 1,700 dunams between the barrier and the pre-1967 Green Line border.

Residents of the village went to court arguing that the current route, built on village land, kept them from their fields and orchards, which remained on the other side of the barrier.

Rejecting the government’s argument, Beinish wrote in her decision that “We were not convinced that it is necessary for security-military reasons to retain the current route that passes on Bili’in’s lands.”

The judges specified that this will require destroying the existing fence in certain places and building a new one, and ordered the government to come up with a new route in a reasonable period of time.

Abdullah Abu Rahma, one of the leaders of the weekly protest at Bili’in, called the court decision “wonderful.”

“We want the decision to be implemented immediately,” he said.

The Defense Ministry said in a statement that it would study the ruling and respect it.

Israel began building the 680-kilometer (425-mile) barrier along the West Bank in 2002, crediting the fence with contribuiting to a decline in suicide bombings. But the barrier juts into West Bank territory, provoking Palestinian claims that Israel is using security arguments to mask a land grab.

Israeli army arrests 7 Israeli peace activists

jj September 2nd, 2007


The Israeli army arrested 7 Israeli peace activists as they protested against a flying checkpoint placed at the entry of a Palestinian village in the northern West Bank city of Nablus on Friday afternoon.
Palestinian sources reported that the army set a flying checkpoint at one of the entrances to Surra village. The village’s main entrance was closed five years ago.

Protestors attempted to remove concrete blocks, but the soldiers prevented them, detained hundred of civilians and detained the Israeli left peace activists, later moving them from the area.

This protest was managed by Surra village residents and has ran for two consecutive weeks.

Finkelstein and academic freedom

jj September 2nd, 2007


Finkelstein is is a son of Holocaust survivors and has been targeted by critics because he “believes that some Jews have exploited the Holocaust,”.

DePaul University canceled the one remaining class taught by the controversial professor who has accused some Jews of improperly using the legacy of the Holocaust.

Norman Finkelstein, whose work led to a long-running public feud with Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz, says he may respond by committing civil disobedience when classes resume Sept. 5.

Finkelstein, 53, was denied tenure in June after six years on the DePaul faculty, but he was permitted to teach for the one year remaining on his contract.

On Friday, however, the university e-mailed students saying that Finkelstein’s sole political science course had been canceled. By Monday, the books for the course had been pulled from the DePaul bookstore’s shelves.

Finkelstein’s most recent book, “Beyond Chutzpah: On the Misuse of Anti-Semitism and the Abuse of History,” is largely an attack on Dershowitz’s “The Case for Israel.” In it, Finkelstein argues that Israel uses the outcry over perceived anti-Semitism as a weapon to stifle criticism.

Dershowitz, who threatened to sue Finkelstein’s publisher for libel, urged DePaul officials to reject Finkelstein’s tenure bid in June.

The American Association of University Professors is preparing a letter to the university protesting Finkelstein’s treatment as a serious violation of academic ethics, the Chicago Tribune reported Tuesday.

Finkelstein told the newspaper that he planned to wage his own campaign against the administration.

“I intend to go to my office on the first day of classes and, if my way is barred, to engage in civil disobedience,” Finkelstein said. “If arrested, I’ll go on a hunger strike. If released, I’ll do it all over again. I’ll fast in jail for as long as it takes.”

After he was denied tenure, Finkelstein, a son of Holocaust survivors, posted a letter on his Web site explaining the school officials’ reasons, including Finkelstein’s “deliberately hurtful” scholarship along, lack of involvement with the school and tendency for public clashes with other scholars.

“In the opinion of those opposing tenure, your unprofessional personal attacks divert the conversation away from consideration of ideas, and polarize and simplify conversations that deserve layered and subtle consideration,” school President Dennis Holtschneider wrote in a letter dated June 8. DePaul at the time verified the letter was authentic.

Denise Mattson, the university’s associate vice president for public affairs, released a statement saying Finkelstein was on administrative leave with full pay for the academic year.

“Administrative leave relieves professors from their teaching responsibilities. He was informed of the reasons that precipitated this leave last spring,” the statement said.

Next »