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Solidarity Statement with the People of Turkey from WRL's Facing Tear Gas Campaign
Over the past several days, Turkey has seen some of its largest mass mobilizations in years. Protesters are pouring into Taksim Square, Gezi Park, and other public spaces throughout the country in the thousands to reject neoliberalism and government-backed urban gentrification. As they brave vomit-inducing tear gas, rubber bullets, water cannons, and live ammunition, it is clear that the people of Turkey are demanding much more than simply the conservation of Istanbul’s precious remaining green space. Rather, what we are witnessing in Turkey is a broad movement of people from various classes, ages, religious sects, and political backgrounds calling for real democracy. It is also imperative to contextualize this recent uprising as a continuation of many struggles that Turkish citizens have undertaken for years around economic justice, rights of minorities (including the Kurdish people), and resistance to mandatory military service.
Since 2010, the uprisings in the Arab world catalyzed a chain reaction of revolutionary change across the globe that shook dictatorships and repressive governments at their core. Turkey is no exception to this, and as members of the Facing Tear Gas Campaign, we are moved and inspired by this growing new movement.
However, we have also borne witness to immense amounts of military and police attacks on nonviolent protestors, including the use of tear gas and related chemical weapons as tools of war on protest, free speech, and democratic movements. In Istanbul, there is evidence of tear gas coming from at least two U.S. companies— Defense Technology (Casper, WY) and Nonlethal Technologies (Homer, PA)— and one Brazilian company, Condor Non-Lethal Technologies (Rio de Janeiro). Together, these companies manufacture the tear gas used to hurt people and repress popular movements in Egypt, Bahrain, Palestine, the United States, Greece, Canada, and now Turkey. Additionally, there are reports of Turkish law enforcement directly shooting civilians with tear gas canisters, which can cause injury or death.
If you are in Turkey (or know people who are), please contribute your experience toward our collective effort to end the use of tear gas. Please save and photograph any gas canisters or incidents of their use, and let our campaign know. This is the best way to expose the companies providing chemical weapons to the Turkish military and police. Share your story on our Facing Tear Gas Tumblr, follow us on Twitter @resistwar, tweet using the hashtags #teargas or #chemicalgas, or email us at facingteargas@warresisters.
The Facing Tear Gas Campaign salutes the peoples of Turkey and the world in solidarity with this growing movement. As the protests grow across various cities across Turkey, including at the capital Ankara, Izmir, Adana, Diyarbakir and beyond, the slogan “Taksim is everywhere, resistance is everywhere” resonates across the globe. Indeed, Taksim reminds us that another world is on its way, one free of weapons, militarism, and state violence, and toward a truly dignified freedom.
By Ann Wright
I am honored to be attending the Nobel Women’s Initiative, “Moving Beyond Militarism and War,” May 28-30, 2013 in Belfast, Northern Ireland.
Six women Nobel Peace Laureates and 80 women from around the world are gathering to discuss the weighty and seeming insolvable problem of getting past the militarism of our world and the financial need of politicians and corporations to wage war. Nobel Peace Laureates Mairead Maguire, Jody Williams, Shirin Ebadi, Rigoberta Menchu Tum, Leyamh Gbowee and Tawakkol Karman will attend the conference, as well as women activists from war conflict regions.
By Ann Wright
I'm in Northern Ireland and yesterday on May 20, 2013, I spoke with several members of the Northern Ireland Parliament. With over 100 prisoners in Guantanamo on a 100 day hunger strike, the Obama administration would be wise to talk to some of them too--about the importance and legacy of hungerstrikes.
In 1981, Pat Sheehan was one of the Maze Prison hunger strikers-a hunger strike that brought huge international attention to the Northern Ireland "Troubles," with the goal of forcing the British government to treat those imprisoned as political prisoners, not criminals. Hunger strikers demanded the right to wear civilian clothes, the right to education and recreational opportunities, freedom from work obligations, and a set of other benefits not afforded to other inmates.Pat was on the hunger strike for 55 days and still alive when the hunger strike was called off by the prisoners.
Bobby Sands became the most famous of the 10 who died during the hunger strikes when he was elected to Parliament while on the hunger strike-Francis Hughes, Raymond McLeish, Patsy O'Hara, Joe McDonnell, Martin Hurson, Kevin Lynch, Kieran Doherty, Thomas McElwee, Michael Devine also died.
After one prisoner died from his lung punctured from a feeding tube through the throat, the British ended force feeding those on hunger strikes. The British government eventually granted most of the hunger strikers’ demands. Public opinion changed dramatically in favor of those imprisoned and on the hunger strike.
Now Pat Sheehan is a member of the Northern Ireland Parliament. The Good Friday Peace Accord brokered by the Clinton administration brought to a close, a violent chapter in British and Northern Ireland relationships. The Peace Accord allowed former political prisoners to become part of the political process.
One never knows the future of those who have been imprisoned for political crimes--after peace talks, many may become political leaders, like Gerry Adams and Pat Sheehan. No one can predict the future paths of those in Guantanamo, but one can be assured that the continued imprisonment of those cleared for release from Guantanamo is disastrous for the individual and for the United States.
President Obama would be wise to call former hunger striker and now Northern Ireland Parliamentarian Pat Sheehan!
About the Author: Ann Wright served 29 years in the US Army/Army Reserves and retired as a Colonel. She also worked as a US diplomat for 16 years and served in US Embassies in Nicaragua, Grenada, Somalia, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Micronesia, Afghanistan and Mongolia. She resigned from the US government in 2003 in opposition to President Bush’s war on Iraq. In 2006, she was on a delegation to Guantanamo, Cuba to challenge the US prison at Guantanamo.
Three women and one man from the Berlin Peace Coordination intervened yesterday during the parliamentary debate in Berlin regarding possible German acquisition of weaponized drones. The anti-drone activists, who are co-founders of the campaign "No Combat Drones!," sought to call attention the gravity of the upcoming decision by the German government, either for or against weaponized drones, in light of the growing international struggle to ban such weapons.
In solidarity with actions of U.S. peace organizations such as Code Pink, the German activists raised their hands -- which were painted blood-red -- and called out "Ban Combat Drones, sir!" when the speaker of the Christian Democratic Party (CDU) came to the microphone. The Berlin activists were aware that they were violating regulations of the German Parliament. Their personal information was taken, and they were told that charges would be brought against them.
Massive Antiwar-Protest @ Berlin University on Wed, April 10
Students shouting down German Defence Minister Thomas de Maizière
German Defence Minister wanted to speak at Berlin’s Humboldt University on the role of the Bundeswehr
But students did not let him speak at all. The CDU politician finally gave up.
Dozens of students on Wednesday prevented an a speech at the Humboldt University in Berlin by Germanys Defence Minister Thomas de Maizière. The CDU politician wanted to give a lecture on “Army of Unity – The contribution of the Bundeswehr to social cohesion”.
But right from the beginning was the minister was greeted by about 300 students with rhythmic clapping and chanting as “Thomas, we love you” and was prevented from speaking. After some time, however the protesters shouted exclusively slogans like “Never again Germany”, “Germany sucks” and “No more war”. Several groups had mobilized in recent days over the Internet to protest against the event.
De Maizière then tried to come up with the students this week, writing on a computer, “Who’s afraid to hear an argument” It remained just as unsuccessful as the request of University President Jan-Hendrik Olbertz.
After about half an hour the defense minister left the university
Upon leaving de Maizière told the Deutsche Presse-Agentur (dpa): “I think it is not a sign of strength, to avoid such a discussion It’s of no use.”. Nevertheless, he would continue to occur at universities. “I do it gladly. Berlin is not everywhere.”
By Elsa Rassbach
Leading national and local peace and justice organizations in Germany have launched a major campaign to oppose the German government's recently revealed plan to acquire combat drones (weaponized drones).
The organizations met together in Hannover earlier this month to begin the joint campaign. As a first step, they drafted an appeal—"No Combat Drones"—which was made public this past Sunday. Close to one hundred German organizations and hundreds of individuals have already endorsed the Appeal, signaling a very strong interest in this issue.
The Appeal will be circulated throughout Germany during the annual Easter weekend peace marches. The German activists plan to continue the campaign until the German government and military agree to abandon the plan to make use of combat drones.
Jesse Kamila, a 24 year-old conscientious objector from Joensuu, Finland was sentenced to 180 days of home detention on Tuesday 12 February by Itä-Uudenmaan käräjäoikeus (Eastren Uusimaa district court). He had refused to do military service on 21 May 2012. He was charged with "refusal from civilian service" (siviilipalveluksesta kieltäytyminen).
You can send a protest email here.
House arrest has been possible for total objectors in Finland since November 2011. The prisoner must wear an electronic ankle bracelet and is allowed to work or study outside home during the sentence, but otherwise must stay at home. Since its introduction home detention has been used frequently for total objectors, however some have been imprisoned.
Jesse Kamila has refused to do civilian service because he sees it as a punishment for refusing violence. Civilian service lasts 347 days, whereas the shortest military service is only 165 days.
The UN Commission on Human Rights declared that any alternative service required of conscientious objectors in lieu of compulsory military service must be compatible with the reasons for the objection, of a civilian character, in the public interest and not of a punitive nature e.g. in its duration (Resolution 1998/77, OP4.). The length of the substitute service in Finland, however, is punitive.
Furthermore, in Foin v France (1999) the Human Rights Committee established its position that any difference in length must be “based on reasonable and objective criteria, such as the nature of the specific service concerned, or the need for a special training in order to accomplish that service” (Foin v France, Communication No. 666/1995) CCPR/C/D/666/1995, 9 November 1999, para. 10.3).
International pressure is important at this stage, since Jesse's sentence has not yet started. War Resisters' International calls for letters of protest to Finnish Prime Minister Jyrki Tapani Katainen, or to Finnish embassies abroad. A protest email can be sent at http://wri-irg.org/node/21245. A list of Finnish embassies can be found here.
War Resisters' International calls for Jesse Kamila's sentence to be quashed.
War Resisters' International
New Evidence Suggests Gamma Sold FinSpy to Bahrain
[Manama] In July 2012, Bahrain Watch reported that the Government of Bahrain was targeting activists with the FinSpy/FinFisher "lawful interception" computer spyware, programmed by UK company Gamma International. An analysis revealed that the spyware steals passwords and can record screen shots, Skype calls, and audio from a computer's microphone. The spyware sends the data it captures back to a server in Bahrain. The Bahrain Watch report cited a technical analysis by Morgan Marquis-Boire and Bahrain Watch member Bill Marczak published through CitizenLab, and a report by Bloomberg. In response to these reports, Gamma International issued several statements to the press claiming that:
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1) Intervention and growing instability in Mali
2) Confronting War Ten Years On - an international conference
1) Intervention in Mali
Once again western powers are using anti-Islamist rhetoric to justify colonial interventions. Two days of French air strikes have already killed many civilians and is only likely to inflame instability across the region already in chaos after the West's attack on Libya.
France's intervention in Mali is part of a growing scramble for Africa. France occupied Mali until 1960. It was at the centre of its historic colonial empire and now at the heart of its effort to control a mineral rich area including Senegal, Burkino Faso, the Ivory Coast - all former colonies in which the French once again have troops.
That Britain was the first to support the French adventure with two RAF planes only shows how keen the government is to participate in a new rush for influence on the African continent. The danger is too, as fighting intensifies, that Britain will get further drawn in to an intervention that has already been backed by the US government. Stop the War condemns this intervention that will only intensify the crisis in the region.
Speakers include Sessions include Book now to avoid disappointment Tickets cost £15 or £8 for concessions. Telephone 020 7561 9311 to pay by card or pay online at the conference web site www.tenyearson.org.uk Cheques made payable to Stop the War Coalition should be posted to Stop the War Coalition 1b Waterlow Road, London N19 5NJ
2) Confronting War Ten Years On - an international conference
International Conference: Confronting War Ten Years On
Book now to avoid disappointment
Tickets cost £15 or £8 for concessions.
Telephone 020 7561 9311 to pay by card or pay online at the conference web site www.tenyearson.org.uk Cheques made payable to Stop the War Coalition should be posted to Stop the War Coalition 1b Waterlow Road, London N19 5NJ
If you're like me, there are some things you would like to abolish. My list includes war, weapons, fossil fuel use, plutocracy, corporate personhood, health insurance corporations, poverty wages, poverty, homelessness, factory farming, prisons, the drug war, the death penalty, nuclear energy, the U.S. Senate, the electoral college, gerrymandering, electronic voting machines, murder, rape, child abuse, Fox News, CNN, MSNBC, and the Washington Post. I could go on. I bet you can think of at least one institution you believe we'd be better off without.
All of us, then, can almost certainly learn a thing or two from the men and women in the late 18th and early 19th centuries in England who abolished first the slave trade and then slavery within the British empire. I highly recommend watching a film about them called "Amazing Grace." If you like it, you'll love a book called "Bury the Chains."
You'll discover that this was in many ways the original activist movement. It created activist committees, with chapters, newsletters, posters, speaking tours, book tours, petitioning, boycotts of products, theatrical props, and investigative journalism -- pioneering all of these now familiar tactics. It achieved great success without voting, as only a tiny fraction of the population could vote. That, in itself, should be a lesson to those who believe elections are the only tool available.
The abolition movement had stamina. Looking back, its gains appear stunningly swift. At the end of the 1700s the world was dominated by slavery. Slavery was the norm. Before the end of the 1800s it had been outlawed almost everywhere. Yet, those who worked night and day against the current of their times to create the abolition movement faced endless defeats. Many of the hardest working activists didn't live to see the final success. And yet they kept working. That too may be a lesson for us.
A war between England and France halted progress, and could have stopped it cold. But the war ended, and the movement was revived -- in large part with a new cast of characters, a younger generation of radicals. Freezing all forward momentum for wars has been the rule over the ages. It's a hard lesson for us to face, as we've now accepted that we live in an era of permanent war. The difficult truth may be that we must escape that era if we are to make headway on numerous fronts.
When the abolition movement sprang into being in England, it was a moral movement demanding rights -- but, unlike most movements we've seen -- demanding rights for other people. The Britons were not demanding their own freedom. In fact, they were willing to make sacrifices, to risk a reduction in their own prosperity, and to boycott the use of slave-grown sugar. This is a useful fact in an age when we are often told that people can only care about themselves. Never mind the dead Afghans and Pakistanis, we're advised, just make sure that Americans know the financial cost of the wars. Perhaps that advice can be questioned after all.
However, Adam Hochschild, the author of "Bury the Chains," believes that Britons were able to appreciate the evil of the slave trade because of their own experience with the practice of naval impressment. That is to say, because they themselves lived in fear of being kidnapped and enslaved by the British Navy and forced to sail naval vessels around the world, and in fear of their loved ones meeting that fate, they were able to imagine the misery of Africans living in fear of being kidnapped and sold into slavery in the West Indies.
Where might this insight lead us? Americans do face random senseless gun violence. Can we appreciate the evil of a drone buzzing over a village and then blowing up a family because we know that our shopping mall or school could soon be the scene of mass murder? Americans have also been taught to fear foreign terrorism. Can we appreciate the need to stop funding foreign terrorism in places like Afghanistan and Pakistan, foreign terrorism carried out by the U.S. military?
We do have another tool available to us. We can make use of video, audio, and instantaneous reporting on the victims of war or other evils. Perhaps, understanding that morality can move people, we will figure out a better way to communicate what needs to be abolished. The original abolitionists did not have this ability.
The original abolitionists made great use of newspapers and books which -- unlike those in France and other nations that failed to develop a similar mass movement -- were completely uncensored. (We come back to the need to abolish our corporate media cartel.) The original abolitionists benefitted from the egalitarian organizing of the Quakers, at whose meeting any man or woman could speak -- although they were remarkably slow to make use of the voices of freed slaves who could have spoken of slavery first-hand, and who eventually did so to great effect.
The movement to abolish the slave trade was aimed at Parliament. It did not demand freedom or rights for blacks. It threatened the livelihood of ship captains but not of the wealthy whose investments were in the plantations across the sea. The movement persuaded MPs of just enough to pass the legislation desired -- and even less, as abolitionists slipped through Parliament a bill designed to damage the slave trade but not advertised that way or understood by its opponents until the vote had been taken.
The movement was launched in 1787 and by 1807 had outlawed the slave trade. By August 1, 1838, all slaves in the British empire were free.
The slaves themselves heard of these efforts, of course, and their own struggles for freedom may have done more than anything else to win the day. The rebellions in Saint-Domingue (Haiti), Jamaica, and elsewhere had a significant impact on British thinking about slavery. In fact, the first generation of abolitionists, now aging, failed to keep pace with public sentiment. Their proposals for a slow and gradual end to slavery had to make way for the demand of immediate emancipation advanced by younger men and the now very active groups of women. And ultimately a reform bill had to be passed to somewhat democratize the government before the popular demand for slavery's abolition could be answered.
Activists were somewhat disappointed when Parliament chose to compensate slave owners for the liberation of their slaves. The slaves themselves were, of course, not compensated. They had little but hard times ahead.
But the compensation of slave owners offered a model that might have served the United States better than bloody civil war. During the American revolutionary war, the British had recruited slaves to fight on their side by promising them freedom. After the war, slave owners, including George Washington, demanded their slaves back. A British commander, General Sir Guy Carleton, refused. Thousands of freed slaves were transported from New York to Nova Scotia to avoid their re-enslavement. But Carleton did promise to compensate the slaves' owners, and Washington settled for that.
The original British abolitionists, including Thomas Clarkson, greatly influenced Americans like William Lloyd Garrison and Frederick
Douglas Douglass. But few picked up on the idea of compensated emancipation, which had not originated with the abolitionists.
Elihu Burritt was an exception. From 1856 to 1860 he promoted a plan to prevent a U.S. civil war through compensated emancipation, or the purchase and liberation of slaves by the government, following the example that the English had set in the West Indies. Burritt traveled constantly, all over the country, speaking. He organized a mass convention that was held in Cleveland. He lined up prominent supporters. He edited newsletters. He behaved, in other words, like Clarkson and many an activist since.
And Burritt was right. Britain had freed its slaves without a civil war or a slave rebellion on the scale that was possible. Russia had freed its serfs without a war. Slave owners in the U.S. South would almost certainly have preferred a pile of money to five years of hell, the deaths of loved ones, the burning and destruction of their property, and the uncompensated emancipation that followed, not to mention the century and a half of bitter resentment that followed that. And not only the slave owners would have preferred the way of peace; it's not as if they did the killing and dying.
When a former slave found his voice in London, told his story in a best-selling book, filled debating halls, and became a leader in the movement to free all others, he was a man who had been a slave in my home state of Virginia. His name was Olaudah Equiano. He was one of, if not the first, black to speak publicly in Britain. He did as much to end the slave trade as anyone, and it might have gone on considerably longer without him.
I've never seen a monument or memorial in Virginia to Equiano. In contrast, just down the street from my house in Charlottesville is a tree called Tarleton's Oak. Next to it is a gas station by the same name. The tree is not old, having been planted to replace an enormous aging oak that I recall seeing. Under that one, supposedly, during the revolution, British troops camped. They were led by a young officer named Banastre Tarleton. He later got himself into Parliament, and there was no more obnoxious defender of the slave trade than he. Africans themselves, he maintained, did not object in the least to being enslaved. Tarleton lied at tremendous length without a hint of shame. His memory we mark, not Equiano's.
Wednesday 5 December 6pm-7pm
Downing Street London
The government's savage austerity policies have cut tens of billions from the public and welfare services, hitting millions of the most vulnerable people, whether it be the disabled, the unemployed or the poor. Health, education and transport services are under huge pressure from government to implement deep cuts in provision.
But chancellor of the exchequer George Osborne is not satisfied. He has signalled he will be cutting tens of billions more from services in his budget announcement on Wednesday 5 December.
One cut he will not be announcing is in the buget for war and for Britain's pointless Trident nuclear missile system. The Afghanistan war -- which everyone knows is futile and lost -- is costing around £6 billion a year. The yearly maintenance costs for Trident are £2.2 billion a year. The cost of renewing the Trident system -- which this gvernment is committed to do -- would cost up to £130 billion. Two aircraft carriers are being built at a cost of £7 billion. Then there's the £15 billion to be spent buying 150 F-35 jets from the US, each of which will cost £85 million plus an extra £16 million for the engine.
Osborne won't mention a word about war expenditure in his budget speech on Wednesday 5 December, because that is one area of public expendidute which is never subjected to cuts.
Which is why Stop the War and CND will join other anti-austerity groups to protest outside George Osborne's home in Downing Street, London, from 6pm - 7pm. Do join us, if you can.
FROM: Nobel laureates demand 2012: c/o Peter Kolbe, Werderstr. 36 69120 Heidelberg, Germany firstname.lastname@example.org
TO: The Nobel Foundation, P.O. Box 5232, SE-102 45 Stockholm, Sweden
CC: The Foundations Authority, Stockholm County (Länsstyrelsen)
The European Union, announced by the Norwegian Nobel Committee as the winner of the peace prize for 2012, clearly is not one of "the champions of peace" Alfred Nobel had in mind when he described the purpose in his will. We ask the Board of the Foundation to clarify that it cannot and will not pay the prize from its funds.
We would like to remind you of the decision of the Swedish Foundations Authority (Länsstyrelsen) on March 21, 2012, requesting the Board to examine the purpose Nobel described in his will, underlining that all prizes must comply, and clarifying that the Swedish Foundations Act places the supreme authority and responsibility also for the Norwegian decisions in the Board of the Nobel Foundation.
Unauthorized transformation of Nobel's purpose
Instead of an unspecified prize for “peace,” Alfred Nobel in his 1895 testament explained in precise terms the champions of peace (“fredsförfäktare”) whose work he wished to benefit. Nobel intended to support the political work for a demilitarized global peace order (a “folkens förbrödrande”), based on co-operation, law and disarmament.
The Norwegian Nobel Committee has redefined and reshaped the prize in a way that is not in accordance with the law. The choice of the EU for the 2012 prize fails on at least two counts:
the EU is not seeking to realize Nobel's demilitarized global peace order,
the EU and member states condone security based on military force and waging wars rather than insisting on the need for an alternative approach.
The purpose of the peace prize is clarified by recent research. In 2008 Fredrik S. Heffermehl, a Norwegian lawyer and author and a former IPB Vice President, published the first known legal study of the prize and its purpose. In 2010 he published The Nobel Peace Prize. What Nobel Really Wanted (Praeger, 2010) with later updates in Chinese, Finnish, Swedish (Leopard, 2011).
The case for declaring the 2012 prize unlawful further rests on facts widely known and mentioned in comments following the announcement and we implore the Foundation to act in defense of the Nobel Peace Prize and its creator Alfred Nobel.
Loyal promotion of Nobel 's global peace order is the committee's main obligation. Even accepting some flexibility with technical rules, the 2012 prize for the EU is particularly problematic in relation to Nobel language on “the last expired year” and that the winner should be a “person.”
We would appreciate an urgent clarification from the Foundation.
Mairead Maguire, Nobel laureate, Northern Ireland
Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Nobel laureate, South Africa
Adolfo Perez Esquivel, Nobel laureate, Argentina
Co-signed by the following in their personal capacities (organizational affiliation only for identification and relevance)
Bruce Kent, former president of the International Peace Bureau, IPB (UK)
Robert Hinde, professor, Movement for the Abolition of War (UK)
Peter Kolbe, Board Member, UNA Branch of Baden Württemberg (Germany)
David Swanson, author, warisacrime.org (USA)
Tomas Magnusson, Co-president, International Peace Bureau (Sweden)
Ståle Eskeland, professor of law, University of Oslo, Norway
Fredrik S. Heffermehl, lawyer and author (The Nobel Peace Prize), Norway
Newsletter #1263. 25 November 2012
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In this newsletter:
1) 15,000 march for Gaza in London: report, video, pictures
2) Become a Friend of Stop the War
1) 15,000 march for Gaza in London: report, video, pictures
The calling of a ceasefire and atrocious weather did not deter 10-15,000 protesters from marching to show their solidarity for Gaza on Saturday, as Lindsey German, national convenor of Stop the War, reports below. For a video and pictures of the demonstration, see: http://bit.ly/10QiuCH
LINDSEY GERMAN REPORTS:
The march from Downing Street to the Israeli embassy in Kensington was a marvellous display of solidarity with the people of Gaza.
After eight days of brutal bombardment, which left 160 Palestinians dead, around 40 of them children -- our commitment to show Gaza that it was not alone was not dampened by the ceasefire called two days ago.
Nor did the incessant and gloomy rain stop the determination of 10-15,000 protesters from marching through London to show the British government that the green light it gave to Israel's assault was not in our name.
The crowd was very diverse, with lots of young people and students and Anonymous masks mixing happily with hijabs and Palestinian scarves.
We chanted, waved banners and placards and were a constantly vibrant presence as we passed through some of the most affluent parts of London to the Israeli embassy gates, where we were greeted by Tony Benn, president of Stop the War Coalition, the first of the speakers to express solidarity with Gaza.
Other speakers included delegates from the Palestinian town of Jenin, the Egyptian novelist Adhaf Soueif, the Palestinian ambassador to the UK Manuel Hassassian, MPs Jeremy Corbyn and Andy Slaughter, speakers from the trade unions, and a representative from the SOAS students who occupied their university in solidarity with Gaza.
Very well received was journalist Seumas Milne, repeating what he wrote in his Guardian column last week, that Palestinians have every right to defend themselves.
Renowned film director and long time supporter of the Palestinian cause, Ken Loach, was one of those not able to be there but who sent a message of solidarity.
The demonstrators were united in their determination not just to protest at this latest outrage by Israel but to call for an end to the siege of Gaza and to see the day -- after 65 years of occupation and brutal repression -- when justice will be achieved for all Palestinians.
The protesters were enthused by the sense that Israel had been forced to curtail its attack -- at least in part -- due to the changed balance of forces in the Middle East since the Arab revolutions, and in particular since the overthrow of Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak.
The distorted media coverage, which has often seemed little more than an adjunct to the Israeli propaganda machine, came in for shouts of disapproval from the crowd -- not least when the BBC was mentioned.
That the motivation for Israel's attack may in part have been motivated by a plan to wage war next year against Iran -- as Britain's chief rabbi Jonathan Sachs revealed inadvertently on BBC radio -- brought roars of anger.
This particular Israeli attack may have ended, but there is no such thing as an Israeli ceasefire where Gaza or the West Bank are concerned.
Our campaign is but another step in the path to freedom for Palestine. Campaigning will go on -- for a boycott of Israeli goods and against any future wars in the Middle East. Stop the War will be at the heart of these campaigns because our anti-war activity has always been driven by an understanding that the issues of war and western imperialism are inextricably linked.
For a video and pictures of the demonstration, see: http://bit.ly/10QiuCH
2) Become a Friend of Stop the War
Yesterday's magnificent demonstration was a testament to the work of Stop the War's supporters across the country, who helped mobilise people to join the march for Gaza, and donated to our Campaign for Gaza appeal, without which we could not have funded our activites over the past two weeks.
We were also very gratified to see how many people were inspired by our Gaza campaign to become members of Stop the War members, which is one of the best ways to help sustain all our anti-war activities (become a member here -- it costs as little as £2 a month: http://bit.ly/IjsLPu ).
We also have a special layer of membership, called Friends of Stop the War, for those who are able to pay an increased monthly subscription, and who then receive a range of benefits. To become a Friend of Stop the War see: http://bit.ly/IjsOen
The need for an anti-war movement that actively campaigns against the war policies of our government was never clearer -- with the pointless war in Afghanistan still being waged by politicians and generals who know it is lost, the looming prospect of overt western intervention in Syria, threats of war against Iran, Britain's investment of billions in drone warfare . Many thanks to all our supporters and members for helping Stop the War its its aim to achieve this.
1b Waterlow Road, London N19 5NJ
Newsletter #1261. 21 November 2012
1) Campaign for Gaza: We need your help
Newsletter #1260. 14 December 2012
1) Tony Blair in hiding from anti-war protesters
The man trying to rehabilitate his career in mainstream British politics is proving very reticent when it comes to public appearances. When it became clear that protests would greet Tony Blair's appearance at the launch of University College London's Institute for Security and Resilience Studies (ISRS), the much publicised event suddenly became very secret and UCL denied it had anything to do with it.
The provost of UCL, Malcolm Grant, who sits on the advisory panel of ISRS, instructed his media relations department to contact Stop the War to say, "provided the law is observed, we do not operate a policy of barring speakers with controversial views".
The irony of applying the principle of observing the law to Tony Blair was obviously lost on the UCL provost. But it was not lost on the thousands who over the past week have signed the letter -- initiated by John Pilger, Tony Benn and others -- reminding UCL that it is totally innapropriate for a seat of learning to invite a war criminal to lecture on peace and war.
Nor was it lost on over 200 protesters on the day of the conference. Report and pictures here: http://bit.ly/SlefsP
As for defending the right of free speech, the only place this should be granted to Tony Blair is in a court of law, answering charges of international war crimes. There are hundreds of thousands of Iraqis whose right to free speech was taken away with brutal finality when Blair and Bush concocted their lies to wage an illegal war of mass slaughter.
TAKE ACTION: ASK YOUR MP TO SIGN EDM 712
MPs Jeremy Corbyn, John McDonnell and Virendra Sharma have signed an Early Day Motion in Parliament which states: This House is appalled at University College London (UCL) opening the Institute for Security and Resilience Studies on its premises' and noted that the institute is 'in partnership with weapons manufacturers, Ultra Electronics and European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company both of which supplied weapons used for the bombing of Iraq'. (See full text here: http://bit.ly/RXUvNJ )
Write to your MP here: http://www.writetothem.com
1b Waterlow Road, London N19 5NJ
A letter initiated by John Pilger, Tony Benn and others calling on University College London (UCL) to cancel an invitation for Tony Blair to speak at the launch of the university's Institute for Security & Resilience Studies - has been signed by thousands of academics, students and members of the public who are angry at what is seen as an endorsement of Blair's crimes in Iraq. Add your name here: http://bit.ly/R0rD7p
Stop the War has called a protest at UCL on the 13 November to make it clear to the university management that war criminals are not welcome in our universities. Over 300 people have joined the Facebook event to say they will be there. See Facebook event here: http://on.fb.me/VTrmTx
Protest Tuesday 13 November 11am
War criminals out of our universities
Main Entrance, University College London
Gower Street London WC1E 6BT
For full details see: http://bit.ly/R0rD7p
Contact UCL Provost to complain at the invitation to Tony Blair
Tel: 020 7679 7234
Information? If you are are student or academic at UCL and have more information about the meeting at which Tony Blair will make his speech, please telephone the Stop the War National Office: 020 7561 9311 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
See also: How Tony Blair and friends help arms dealers get into bed with Britain's universities: http://bit.ly/VTsM0f
- The 2012 Nobel Peace Prize to the EU is unlawful and cannot be paid, says the International Peace Bureau, IPB, in a letter today to the Nobel Foundation in Stockholm.
The demand from IPB is based on the fact that the Nobel Foundation is by law responsible for overseeing that all the five Nobel Prizes are awarded in accordance with the will and testament of Alfred Nobel.
- The latest prize to EU may even be seen as directly contradicting the purpose to reach demilitarized international relations, the purpose Alfred Nobel had with his prize.
Newsletter 1258 25 October 2012
www.stopwar.org.uk | email@example.com | 020 7561 9311
twitter.com/STWuk | facebook.com/
1) Confronting War Today - an international conference
Ten years after the biggest demonstrations in history in February 2003, this conference will discuss and plan opposition to continuing and further wars. As millions around the world predicted, the war on terror has caused catastrophe from Afghanistan and Pakistan through Iraq and the Middle East to Libya, Somalia and beyond. The Conference will bring together leading activists and commentators to analyse continuing Western aggression and how to confront it.
Tickets cost £15 / £8 concessions.
Book your ticket on the conference web site www.tenyearson.org.uk or telephone 02075619311 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
2) Why is David Cameron still sending British troops to kill and be killed in Afghanistan?
On the same day that David Cameron came out of Number 10 Downing Street to buy a poppy to remember the dead, the deaths of two more British soldier have been announced in Afghanistan. Nothing could better symbolise the cynicism of this government's attitude to the war in Afghanistan.
At the very same time as he is professing respect for dead soldiers, David Cameron is sending troops to kill and be killed in a war fully 80 per cent of the British public regard as being a total waste of life and resources.
Guest writer for Wake Up World
“Italy is a huge naval air station on the Mediterranean, leaning toward East and peeking at Orient. Within this huge air station is Sardinia, which is part of the station, but doesn’t have the annoying problem of people and cities.”
This is how the CIA described the Italian island of Sardinia in the 1960s, a “poor” land, thus easy to buy with a handful of jobs in the military bases. And it worked, with the results of creating a war-like zone and buying people’s mind into claiming as their own rights living and working in or near these highly contaminated stations.
Such bases, experimental polygons and shooting ranges are officially under the NATO rule, and the Italian Army and government don’t hold much decision power over them.
Sardinia houses 60 per cent of Italian military property, and today investigations are shedding light on serious health emergencies, such as cancers, tumors and birth defects in both humans and animals.
Lands and water are heavily contaminated and farmers are now being prevented from working in their own farms. The experiments, bombings and simulated war operations have been carried out for more than fifty years, and depleted uranium (even though Italy had signed the international agreement to ban this kind of weapons) and white phosphorus have been repeatedly used, creating in these areas the same conditions of war zones such as Iraq and the Balkans. “Here the question is” asks Carlo Porcedda, journalist and author of investigative book Wind knows. Sardinia’s invisible illness, “if according to the international agreements Italy has signed using white phosphorus at war is a crime against humanity, using it for a test inside a polygon what kind of crime is it?”
Actual Supporters of Peace Put Their Bodies on Line to Stop Latest Nobel Peace Laureate's Mass Murder Preparation
Peace activists hinder departure of F16 airplanes to NATO nuclear weapons exercise
As of 7:30 AM peace activists are using non-violent means to try and stop the departure of F16 airplanes from the base in Kleine Brogel. Starting today, Belgian pilots are training for the deployment of nuclear weapons together with their NATO-partners. Small groups of activists are going onto the runway to stop the taking off of the F-16s. Meanwhile, the main gate of the base is being blocked. In this way, Vredesactie and Action pour la Paix hope to prevent the preparation for war crimes.
From 15 to 26 October, Belgian F-16s from the military base of Kleine Brogel are participating in the NATO-exercise “Steadfast Noon” in the German air base of Büchel. This exercise is a way of training for the deployment of nuclear weapons. All NATO-countries that have American nuclear weapons on their territory are participating: Belgium, Germany, Italy, Holland and Turkey. Some other countries are taking on a supportive role.
“The American nuclear weapons stored in Kleine Brogel are not merely relics from the Cold War”, says Roel Stynen from Vredesactie. “This NATO-exercise makes it clear that the deployment of these weapons is being actively prepared. If these nuclear weapons no longer have any military purpose – as we are told – then which scenarios are being practiced?”
Benoit Calvi from Action pour la Paix: “The majority of the population wants these nuclear weapons removed from our country. But our minister dodges any attempt to a debate. Apparently being a member of NATO is more important than having a functioning democracy.”
Preventing the preparation of war crimes
Small groups of activists have entered the base. They head towards the hangars for aeroplanes to stop the departure of combat planes, risking life and limb. Meanwhile a colourful blockade at the main gate stops entry of personnel to the base.
With this action the activists are trying to prevent the preparation of war crimes in a non-violent way. The use of nuclear weapons and the preparation for said use is in violation of international humanitarian law. The International Court has pointed out the fundamental rules of the law of war as applicable to nuclear weapons in its verdict of 8 July 1996.
First of all a distinction must be made between enemy combatants and civilians. It follows that weapons that are incapable of making such a distinction can never be used. Second, it is forbidden to inflict unnecessary suffering to enemy combatants. Therefore, weapons that inflict such suffering can not be used. The consequences of using nuclear weapons cannot be limited in time and space. The nuclear weapons stationed in Kleine Brogel can never be deployed without violating these fundamental rules of the law of war and without committing war crimes.
Belgian criminal law also penalizes these acts of preparation, e.g. in art. 136sexies of the penal code: “the keeping of an object destined for such a crime or which facilitates the perpetration of such a crime”. Participation in this exercise amounts to an active preparation for the use of nuclear weapons and therefore for crimes of war. It also makes it clear that the storage of nuclear weapons in Kleine Brogel is a part of this active preparation.
Belgian peace organizations file a complaint
On October 9 several Belgian peace organizations - Vredesactie, Pax Christi Vlaanderen, Vrede vzw, CNAPD, Action pour la Paix en MIR-IRG - already filed a complaint with the police against this exercise. Tom Sauer (professor of International Politics at the University of Antwerp) participated in filing a complaint: “These weapons are useless and dangerous. It is unacceptable that Belgian pilots are practicing for the deployment of weapons of mass destruction.”
So far neither the department of defence, nor the judicial authorities have indicated that the participation in the nuclear exercise will be suspended, which is why Vredesactie and Action pour la Paix are taking their responsibility to try and prevent these war crimes.
NOBEL PEACE PRIZE 2012 AWARD TO EUROPEAN UNION
FROM - MAIREAD CORRIGAN MAGUIRE, NOBEL PEACE LAUREATE (1976)
Alfred Nobel was a visionary who believed in a demilitarized peaceful world. In his Will he left his Nobel peace prize to those who would work for ‘fraternity among nations’,’abolition or reduction of standing armies’, and ‘holding and promotion of peace congresses’.
In Nobel’s will the award for Peace was to go to Champions of peace, those working to replace militarism with international order based on law and the abolition of national military forces. Nobel’s vision and dream was to replace the power of militarism and war, with the power of law. I believe the Awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to the European Union, does not meet the criteria of Alfred Nobel vision and spirit, and his vision of a demilitarized peaceful world.
In many ways the European Union has done much in the past sixty years for Peace and reconciliation amongst nations, but it has sadly done little for the demilitarization of Europe. Whilst the EU imposes severe Austerity measures upon many EU countries it simultaneously supports the growing militarisation of Europe by its support for US/NATO (guilty of war crimes against Iraq, Afghanistan, etc., ) It continues to support the policies of USA Nuclear weapons, held in six EU States. It supports arms sales from European States (UK, Germany, etc.,) to coutries all around the world. The EU instead of upholding human rights for countries such as Palestine, has rewarded Israel by giving them special trading status and huge grants (EU tax payers money) for its Military Research and weapons thus enabling it to continue it illegal policies of occupation and Apartheid of Palestine.
I cannot support this decision to give the peace prize to EU and appeal to the Swedish Foundation Authority to hold the Nobel Committee accountable for giving, yet again, a political award instead of supporting People taking courageous, and often dangerous stands to help move the human family away from military international Relations to one based on peaceful resolution of conflict.
I believe that the reform of the nobel peace Committee is now necessary. As is the case of all other nobel prize committees which are made-up of experts in their particular field, perhaps it is time too for the NPP Committee to be comprised of people experienced in the field of Peacemaking and International Law.
Mairead Corrigan Maguire – Nobel peace prize (1976)
Yes, indeed, it is a little-acknowledged feat of miraculous life-saving power that Europe has not gone to war with itself -- other than that whole Yugoslavia thing -- since World War II. It's as clear a demonstration as anything that people can choose to stop fighting. It's a testament to the pre-war peace efforts that criminalized war, the post-war prosecutions of the brand new crime of making war, the reconstruction of the Marshall Plan, and ... and something else a little less noble, and much less Nobel-worthy.
Alfred Nobel's will, written in 1895, left funding for a prize to be awarded to "the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses." Fredrik Heffermehl has been leading a valuable effort to compel the Nobel committee to abide by the will. Now they've outdone themselves in their movement in the other direction.
Europe is not a person. It has not during the past year -- which is the requirement -- or even during the past several decades done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations. Ask Libya. Ask Syria. Check with Afghanistan. See what Iraq thinks. Far from doing the best work to abolish or reduce standing armies, Europe has joined with the United States in developing an armed global force aggressively imposing its will on the world.
There were good nominees and potential nominees available, even great ones.
Now the Nobelites have almost guaranteed themselves a second-ever pro-war peace-prize acceptance speech. If you don't recall who gave the first one, I'll tell you after the U.S. election when you might be better able to hear me.
What a disgrace that the Nobel peace prize needs alternative awards that don't go to warmongers. What a further shame that even those don't always go to people who measure up to Nobel's will.
Was Nobel asking so much really when he asked that a prize go to whoever did the best work toward abolishing war?
The West is so in love with itself that many will imagine this award a success. Surely Europe not going to war with itself is more important that Europe going to war with the rest of the world! Imagine how many white people might have died if Europe had kept its warmaking to itself. By directing the threat of war outward and engaging in humanitarian wars and philanthropic wars, Europe has taken us beyond naive war abolition and into an era of powerful possibilities. Oh, and some dark people died. But we're looking at the Big Picture.
Does this not frighten anyone?
English version below.
Con la condanna degli agenti della Cia coinvolti nell'illegale sequestro dell'imam Abu Omar il sistema giudiziario italiano ha dimostrato che davvero la legge può essere “uguale per tutti”. Ora, quasi diecimila cittadini americani chiedono all'Italia di andare oltre.
di David Swanson*, traduzione di Patrick Boylan
Quasi diecimila americani hanno già inviato i loro ringraziamenti all'Ambasciata italiana a Washington in seguito alle condanne definitive inflitte in Italia dalla Cassazione, lo scorso 19 settembre, ai 23 agenti della Cia rei di aver rapito l'ex imam di Milano il 17 febbraio, 2003, e di averlo mandato in Egitto per essere interrogato sotto tortura. Noi di RootsAction.org, movimento di cittadinanza tra i più attivi negli USA, abbiamo promosso una raccolta di ringraziamenti per dire al governo italiano che esiste un'America felice della sentenza della Cassazione e che ora vuole l'estradizione in Italia dei 23 condannati che altrimenti continuerebbero a vivere liberi e impuniti negli Stati Uniti.
New Book for Ages 6 to 10: Tube World
Parents: Have your kids been tired in the morning? Have you found wet bathing suits in their beds? Do they know things about far-away places that you didn’t teach them and they didn’t learn in school? Do children visiting your town from halfway around the world always seem to be friends with your kids, and to only be around during certain hours of the day? You won’t believe the explanation, but your kids might grin and wink at each other if you read it to them.
Kids: Did you know the center of the Earth was hollow? Do you know the words that can take you there, if you’re under the covers in your swimming suit and prepared for the trip? Can you imagine traveling anywhere in the world where there’s a swimming pool — and being home again in time for breakfast? If you haven’t been to Tube World yet, this book will tell you the secrets you need to know. And it will tell you about some children who discovered Tube World and used it to make the whole world a better place.
The paperback has been published in two versions, one with slightly better color, slightly better paper, and a dramatically higher price.
Buy the standard paperback from Amazon,
(If you order from Amazon it will ship right away even if Amazon says it won't ship for weeks; it is print-on-demand.)
Buy the premium paperback from Amazon,
Your local independent bookstore can order the book through Ingram.
Anyone can order the book in bulk at the lowest possible price right here.
Buy PDF, Audio, EPUB, or Kindle for $8 right here:
Advance Praise for Tube World:
“This book will make you laugh till water comes out your ears!”--Wesley
“This story is super flibba garibbidy schmibbadie libbidie awesome, mostly!”--Travis
“The best part is we saved 2,000 islands and pretty much the whole world in our swimming suits!”--Hallie
About Shane Burke:
Shane Burke lives in Denver Colorado and has been drawing and painting since he could hold a pencil. He took private art lessons when he was young and began winning awards and contests by the age of seven. His first big commission came at age nine when he created artwork for a billboard near his home town of Tracy California. His greatest influences came from his grandfather and elementary school teachers. He loved watching his grandfather paint landscapes and wanted to be just like him. Shane is a creative day dreamer and at complete peace when putting ink to paper. You can see more of Shane's work at www.beezink.com
Stop the War Coalition 2 October 2012
Tel: 020 7561 9311
This Sunday is the 11th anniversary of the Afghan war. We will be organising a number of local events, and in London a Naming of the Dead in Trafalgar Square at 1pm on Sunday 7th October.
The event will be attended by those who have lost loved ones in Afghanistan, and among others Mitra Quayoom from Afghans for Peace, MPs Paul Flynn and Jeremy Corbyn, actor Miriam Margolyes, and musician Dave Randall.
We are asking our London supporters to mobilise widely for this. There is growing opposition to the disastrous war and we need to be on the streets. On the day we will also be handing in a letter to David Cameron from Military Families which will be launched as a national petition on the weekend.
On Tuesday 9th October Tariq Ali will be the main speaker in a public meeting on Syria and Iran. The 'No the Western Intervention' meeting will discuss the situation 11-years on from the start of the war on terror. Please come along and support. 7pm University of London Union, Malet St, London WC1. You can join the Facebook event here: on.fb.me/NxElex
On Saturday, October 13, 2012, a national demonstration will be held in Varese, Italy, where most of the country's military aircraft production is located, to denounce the weapons industry, in particular the sale of 30 M-346 trainer jets to Israel. The protest will take place at the Alenia Aermacchi headquarters, manufacturers of the M-346 and part of Finmeccanica Group, one of the world's top weapons producers.
Stop the War Coalition 25 September 2012
Newsletter No. 1255
Tel: 0207 561 9311
IN THIS NEWSLETTER:
1) Afghanistan: past a tipping point
2) Anniversary conference - date for your diary
3) Syria and Iran
4) Extraditions given green light - no justice
5) Naming the dead - help us spread the word - 7th October 2012 at 1pm
1) Afghanistan: past a tipping point
The occupation of Afghanistan has passed a tipping point. Monday's Daily Mirror reports a poll showing four out of five Britons think that the war has been a waste of lives and only one in ten think it has been worthwhile. 52% believe the troops should be brought back immediately and that David Cameron's timetable should be scrapped.
This is a majority of the population, according to polls, who want immediate withdrawal - a view barely represented in mainstream politics or media.
This reflects a growing realisation of what the war and occupation really mean: misery for ordinary Afghans, a growing death toll and a sense among soldiers that the war is lost. (SEE The Mirror: "Get our heroes out of pointless Afghan war now" http://bit.ly/OobT0f).
The attack on Camp Bastion two weeks ago revealed the weakness of Nato forces and the underlying strength of the resistance. This attack and the continued green on blue deaths marked a turning point in opinion. We now need to increase our campaigning to end this war and occupation.
We are asking all our supporters to do everything possible to step up the pressure to bring the troops home by Christmas. There is a petition calling for troops out you can download at bit.ly/OScCH9
Members of Military Families have written an open letter to David Cameron calling for him to bring the troops out by Christmas which will be launched on the weekend of the anniversary of the invasion on the 7th of October.
There will be a Naming the Dead Ceremony in Trafalgar Square on the 7th October at 1pm organised with Afghans for Peace, which will be attended by Joan Humphries, whose grandson died in Afghanistan. Please share the facebook event widely. Other people attending include Paul Flynn MP, the actor Miriam Margolyes and the composer Howard Blake. Please spread the word as widely as possible.
We are reprinting our pamphlet on Afghanistan with a new introduction. Please order this and other materials from the office.
If you live in London, you will be very welcome at the London Activists' Meeting on 26 September 2012 to discuss actions. Full details at on.fb.me/RCet2E
2) Anniversary conference - date for your diary
To mark the 10th anniversary of the major 2 million strong demo against the Iraq war, which took place on 15 February 2003 we are holding a conference in London which will discuss the aftermath of the war and the threats of war in the present and future. It will be in Friends House, London on Saturday 9th February 2013. A wide range of prominent speakers have already been booked. Brochures and more details to follow soon.
3) Syria and Iran
The UN meets in New York this week with more threats of intervention in the Middle East, in Syria and Iran. Obama's speech to the UN general assembly is to say that the US will 'do what we must' to stop Iran acquiring nuclear weapons and that a nuclear-armed Iran 'is not a challenge that can be contained'. (SEE "Obama's UN General Assembly speech condemns extremism" bbc.in/OZy0og).
There is no sign of the crisis abating as we enter the final stage of the US presidential election. Stop the War has a public meeting against intervention in Syria and Iran on Tuesday October 9th at 7pm in University of London Union, Malet St, London WC1. Speakers include Tariq Ali, Lindsey German and Sabah Jawad.
4) Extraditions given green light - no justice
The decision by the European Court of Human Rights to uphold the extradition of five terrorism suspects is a blow to all those campaigning against extradition to the US of suspects of crimes committed in the UK. In particular it is a blow to the families and campaigns over Babar Ahmad and Talha Ahsan, who have fought long and hard against this outcome.
We send our support and best wishes to the families and support them in any further steps they take to reverse this decision, which will mean long term solitary confinement for all the extraditees. Incredibly the judges sitting in Strasbourg agreed a ruling that their human rights would not be violated by life sentences in a 'supermax' prison. Please watch for any further actions which we will put on the website.
5) Naming the dead - help us spread the word - 7th October 2012 at 1pm
We have created a Facebook event for the Naming the Dead Ceremony at Trafalgar Square on Sunday 7 October. This will mark the 11th anniversary of the start of the conflict in Afganistan. Please help pulicise this event as widely as possible. If you are on Facebook, share the event details with your contacts: on.fb.me/SjcRFQ
Italy's highest criminal court on Wednesday upheld the convictions of 23 Americans in the kidnapping of an Egyptian terror suspect as part of the CIA's extraordinary rendition program.
The ruling marks the final appeal in the first trial anywhere in the world involving the CIA's practice of abducting terror suspects and transferring them to third countries where torture is permitted.
The 23 Americans all were convicted in absentia following a three-and-a-half-year trial, and have never been in Italian custody. They risk arrest if they travel to Europe and one of their court-appointed lawyers suggested that the final verdict would open the way for the Italian government to seek their extradition.
`'It went badly. It went very badly,” lawyer Alessia Sorgato said. `'Now they will ask for extradition.”
The Americans and two Italians were convicted last year of involvement in the kidnapping of Osama Moustafa Hassan Nasr, also known as Abu Omar, from a Milan street on Feb. 17, 2003 — the first convictions anywhere in the world against people involved in the CIA's practice of abducting terror suspects and transferring them to third countries where torture was permitted. The cleric was transferred to U.S. military bases in Italy and Germany before being moved to Egypt, where he says he was tortured. He has since been released.
Those convicted include the former Milan CIA station chief, Robert Seldon Lady, whose original seven-year sentence was raised to nine years on appeal. The other 22 Americans, all but one identified by prosecutors as CIA agents, face seven-year terms.
Previous Italian governments had declined to act on prosecutors' request to extradite the American suspects, most of whom had court-appointed lawyers the defendants never met. While some of the defendants in the case were known figures attached to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in Milan, many of those named in the trial are believed to have been aliases, impeding any formal extradition.
Among those whose sentence was upheld was Air Force Col. Joseph Romano, who was head of security at the Aviano Air Force base where the Egyptian cleric was driven from Milan before being taken by plane to Germany and eventually Egypt.
Romano's lawyer, Cesare Bulgheroni, said he would appeal the verdict to the EU human rights court in Strasbourg on the basis that Romano was never formally notified of the charges against him, and that lower courts had rejected some witnesses. Romano was one of only two Americans who received permission to hire his own lawyer during the original trial.
The court also ordered new appeals trials for five Italian intelligence agents, including the former head of military intelligence, Nicolo Pollari. They had been acquitted by lower courts because of state secrets.
During the original trial, three other Americans were acquitted: the then-Rome CIA station chief Jeffrey Castelli and two other diplomats formerly assigned to the Rome Embassy. Prosecutors appealed the acquittal, as they can in Italy. The appeal is still pending in Milan.