China Hits Back with Report on US Human Rights Record

Xinhua

FULL TEXT OF HUMAN RIGHTS RECORD OF THE UNITED STATES IN 2011

BEIJING, May 25 (Xinhua) — China on Friday responded to a recent U.S. government report on China’s human rights practices by issuing its own report on human rights issues in the United States.

The “Human Rights Record of the United States in 2011” was released by the Information Office of the State Council, China’s Cabinet, in response to the “Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2011” issued by the U.S. State Department on May 24.

It was the 13th annual report published by China in response to U.S. attacks.

The U.S. report is “full of overly critical remarks on human rights conditions in nearly 200 countries and regions, as well as distortions and accusations concerning human rights causes in China. However, the United States has turned a blind eye to its own woeful human rights situation and remained silent about it,” China’s report said.

The “Human Rights Record of the United States in 2011” is intended to reveal the “true human rights situation” of the United States to the world and “urge the United States to confront its own actions,” the report said.

The Chinese report covers human rights issues related to six topics: life, property and personal security; civil and political rights; economic, social and cultural rights; racial discrimination; the rights of women and children; and U.S. violations of human rights in other countries.

The facts contained in the report are a small yet illustrative fraction of the United States’ dismal record on its own human rights situation, it said.

The United States’ tarnished human rights record has left it in no state — whether on a moral, political or legal basis — to act as the world’s “human rights justice,” to place itself above other countries and release the Country Reports on Human Rights Practices year after year to accuse and blame other countries, according to the report.

China, in the report, advised the U.S. government to look squarely at its own grave human rights problems, to stop the “unpopular practices” of taking human rights as a political instrument for interfering in other countries’ internal affairs, tarnishing the images of other nations and seeking its own strategic interests, and to cease using double standards on human rights and pursuing hegemony under the pretext of human rights.

SEVERE CIVIL RIGHTS VIOLATIONS

The report states that civil and political rights violations have been “severe” in the United States, adding that the country is “lying to itself” when proclaiming that Americans live in the “land of the free.”

It cited the treatment of protestors participating in the Occupy Wall Street movement, stating that their arrests can provide a “glimpse of the truth regarding the United States’ so-called freedom and democracy.”

Almost 1,000 people were reportedly arrested in the first two weeks of the movement, the report said.

Many protesters accused police of brutality and, as a U.S. opinion article put it, the United States could be considered, at least in part, authoritarian, it said.

INTERNET FREEDOM, EXCUSE FOR HEGEMONY

The report held that the U.S. imposes fairly strict restrictions on the Internet, and its approach “remains full of problems and contradictions.”

“Internet freedom” is just an excuse for the United States to impose diplomatic pressure and seek hegemony, it said.

To support this argument, the report noted that the U.S. Patriot Act and Homeland Security Act both have clauses about monitoring the Internet, giving the government or law enforcement organizations power to monitor and block any Internet content “harmful to national security.”

Protecting Cyberspace as a National Asset Act of 2010 also stipulates that the federal government has “absolute power” to shut down the Internet under a declared national emergency, according to the report.

It also cited a report by British newspaper the Guardian which said that the U.S. military is developing software that will let it secretly manipulate social media sites by using fake online personas.

The project aims to control and restrict free speech on the Internet, the report said.

INTERNATIONAL TROUBLEMAKER

The United States has been pursuing hegemony in the world, grossly trampling upon other countries’ sovereignty and capriciously committing human rights violations against other nations, the report said.

It appears to be increasingly contributing to international disorder, it added.

The Chinese report referred to a recently-exposed scandal of human experiments conducted by the United States in Guatemala from 1946 to 1948, in which a U.S. government-funded medical program subjected nearly 5,500 people to diagnostic testing and researchers deliberately exposed more than 1,300 people to syphilis and other venereal diseases.

The report also denounced such experimentation, including government radiation experiments, human mind control (also known as MKULTRA) experiments and experiments conducted by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the Department of Defense on so-called “enemy combatants in the war on terror.”

Moreover, U.S.-led wars have created humanitarian disasters, although the wars were allegedly waged as “humanitarian intervention” efforts and for “the rise of a new democratic nation,” the report said, citing the death toll for the U.S.-initiated war in Iraq, which currently stands at 655,000.

PRESS FREEDOM IN QUESTION

China’s report argued that, while advocating for freedom of the press, the United States, in fact, imposes fairly strict censorship and control over the press.

“Freedom of the press” is just a political tool used to beautify itself and attack other nations, it said.

According to the report, while forcibly evacuating Zuccotti Park, the original Occupy Wall Street encampment, New York police not only blocked journalists from covering police actions but also arrested about 200 journalists, including reporters from NPR and the New York Times.

MONEY-POWER COLLUSION

Democracy in the United States is increasingly influenced by capitalism and is becoming a system for “the masters of money,” the report noted.

It quoted the U.S. Center for Responsive Politics as saying that 46 percent of U.S. senators and members of the House of Representatives have personal assets of more than 1 million U.S. dollars.

That well explains why the current U.S. administration’s plans to impose higher taxes on those who earn more than 1 million U.S. dollars annually have been blocked in Congress, the report said.

WIDENING INCOME GAP

“The United States claims to have a large middle class population that makes up 80 percent of its total population, while there are only very few impoverished or extremely rich people,” the report said, “However, this is not the truth.”

According to the report, in the last 20 years, 90 percent of Americans have watched their incomes stagnate, while the richest 1 percent of Americans have seen their incomes grow by 33 percent.

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Mariela Castro: The Power of Emancipation Through Socialism

Lisa Leff

The daughter of Cuban President Raul Castro brought her fight for gay rights to a U.S. forum Wednesday, stressing the need to secure social equality for all, regardless of sexual orientation.

Speaking in Spanish through a translator, Mariela Castro addressed about 50 medical professionals and transgender advocates at San Francisco General Hospital on Wednesday.

She has an international reputation as an outspoken gay rights advocate and lobbied her father’s government to cover sex reassignment surgery under the national health plan, which it has since 2008, and to legalize same-sex marriages, which so far it has not.

“If we don’t change our patriarchal and homophobic culture…we cannot advance as a new society, and that’s what we want, the power of emancipation through socialism,” she said . “We will establish relationships on the basis of social justice and social equality…It seems like a Utopia, but we can change it.”

Castro, director of Cuba’s National Center for Sex Education, or CENESEX, spoke about transgender health care in Cuba. Wednesday’s speech was part of her multiday visit devoted largely to meeting with gay and transgender rights activists and an academic conference where she is scheduled to chair a panel on sexual diversity.

She was one of at least 60 Cuban scholars who were granted U.S. visas to attend Thursday’s meeting of the Latin American Studies Association.

A number of Cuban-American politicians have criticized the State Department, which provided special agents as Castro’s security detail in San Francisco, for issuing Castro an entry visa. They noted that U.S. rules prohibit Communist Party members and other high-ranking Cuban government officials from entry without special dispensation. Aside from kinship, Mariela Castro has no official link to the government, although CENESEX is part of Cuba’s public health ministry.

She credited her late mother, Vilma Espin, who served as president of the Federation of Cuban Women and was a member of the Communist Party’s Central Committee, with inspiring her to seek equal rights for Cuba’s marginalized citizens. Espin died in 2007.

“I promised her we would be able to achieve that, and I can’t let go because the process is not complete,” she said.

Castro described Cuba’s Communist Party as an increasingly good ally in advancing gay rights. The party approved a statement earlier this year advocating the elimination of all remaining forms of discrimination in Cuban society, a position which can be used to push for policies that benefit gay and transgender people, she said.

“What helped is we went to the Communist Party, the leaders, and told them our ideological context of this,” she said. “It was very difficult to have this internal division in the Communist Party, but it seems like they are becoming more and more relaxed.”

During her 90-minute appearance at San Francisco General, she said she wanted her audience to hear a Cuban’s perspective on the half-century of animosities between Havana and Washington because it helps explain why the nation’s growth on issues like gay rights has sometimes been stunted.

“The Revolution has grown in Cuba, and it’s been more than 50 years now,” she said. “The Cuban people have been the victims of state terrorists, of the economic blockade against Cuba, campaigns to…misinform the world’s population about the power of a revolution.”

She also criticized Cuban exiles who oppose her father’s regime and that of her uncle, former president Fidel Castro, and support economic and travel restrictions between the U.S. and her country.

Castro also visited the United States in 2002 during Republican President George W. Bush’s administration. She obtained a visa to attend an event in Los Angeles, and also stopped in Virginia and Washington.

Charles Taylor Case Proves ‘International Law’ is Law of Victors

Reason Wafawarova

Africa, we are one and together we will overcome. It is homeland or death!

On March 7 2003, Charles Taylor was indicted by the Special Court of Sierra Leone and on December 4 the same year, Interpol issued a “Red Warrant” (of arrest) for the former Liberian leader.

Taylor launched an appeal against the indictment and it was swiftly dismissed by the Appeals Chamber on May 31 2004. Nigerian authorities, who have increasingly become notorious for treacherous politics in Africa, apprehended Taylor on March 29 2006.

Nigeria was instrumental in the arbitrary suspension of Zimbabwe from the Commonwealth immediately after the country had forcefully reclaimed its colonially stolen farmlands from white occupiers in 2000. It was again Nigeria, South Africa and Gabon that insidiously and obviously backed the murder of Muammar Gaddafi and the bombardment of his Libya through Resolution 1973 at the UN Security Council in 2011.

On April 3 2006, Taylor pleaded not guilty to all the 11 charges pressed against him before the Special Court and Western countries started campaigning for a trial away from Africa. As a result of this campaign, the UN Security Council passed Resolution 1688 which cleared the way for Taylor to be tried at The Hague, arguing that the Liberian ex-leader’s presence in West Africa was “an impediment to stability and a threat to peace.”

Just four days after this resolution, Charles Taylor was swiftly transferred to The Hague, in a move quite similar in swiftness to how Libya was attacked by French warplanes, just a few hours after UN Security Council Resolution 1973 had been passed.

On January 7 2008, the prosecution witnesses began testifying against Charles Taylor, and this process only ended on January 30 2009.

All in all, 91 witnesses testified, and these included 29 insider witnesses, 58 crime base witnesses and four expert witnesses.

The defence unsuccessfully applied for the closure of the case on the basis that witnesses were not credible, and on April 26 this year a landmark conviction of Taylor was announced to the world, with some people hailing it as a success, while others are convinced it was travesty of justice.

Charles Taylor has personally charged that most of these witnesses were “paid, coerced and, in many cases, threatened with prosecution if they did not co-operate.” The Special Court is simply not interested in entertaining this possibility, as it currently seems.

Canadian writer Stephen Gowans recently quoted the US State Department hailing the conviction of Taylor as “sending a strong message to all perpetrators of atrocities, including those in the highest positions of power, that they will be held accountable.”

Of course, this does not include atrocities perpetrated by Western armies on the lesser peoples of this world, like the reckless indiscriminate killing of tens and tens of thousands of innocent Libyan civilians in 2011, or the continuing drone bombing of Afghan and Pakistan people by Obama’s murderous forces. These are democratisation ventures and not war crimes.

The charges against Taylor included terrorism, murder, rape, sexual slavery, outrages upon personal dignity, cruel treatment, inhuman acts, recruiting child soldiers, enslavement and pillage.

Being convicted on the basis of these egregious charges makes Taylor the personification of ultimate evil, up until one is told that, in fact, Charles Taylor did not commit any of the crimes for which he was charged and convicted, an indisputable truth coming straight from the Special Court’s own acknowledgment.

This is what the Special Court had to say about Charles Taylor’s conviction: “The prosecution had not alleged that Mr Taylor had committed these crimes in person.”

The statement went on to say that Taylor had only “aided and abetted the rebels by providing them with arms and ammunition, military personnel, operational support and moral support.”

According to the Special Court, it is the rebels who committed the crimes and Charles Taylor is “individually responsible” for the criminal acts just on behalf of the perpetrators. Taylor did not deny involvement in the Sierra Leone decade-long conflict — arguing that his logic for intervention was that “without peace in Sierra Leone there would be no peace in Liberia.”

This is not different from the logic of pre-emptive war, as executed by President George W. Bush on the people of Afghanistan in 2001. But, of course, we must always remember that there is something called American exceptionalism, and that the law that prosecutes little Taylor cannot be big enough to prosecute mighty George W. Bush.

As rightly pointed out by Stephen Gowans in his recent article titled “Charles Taylor Conviction: Don’t Cross Us,” Taylor was convicted for exactly what Barack Obama, Nicolas Sarkozy and David Cameron did in Libya in 2011: arming and supporting an atrocity-committing ragtag rebel army.

The countless war crimes and atrocities of the Libyan rebels are well documented, with Amnesty International detailing charges that the rebels “abducted, arbitrarily detained, tortured, and killed,” so many civilian Libyans to see their way through the Western-backed rebellion.

This is not to mention Nato’s relentless bombardment of the city of Sirte right to ground level rubble, literally leaving no stone unturned and, of course, the indiscriminate shelling of the same city and other pro-Gaddafi cities like Bali Wadi — all clear acts of war crimes.

The war criminals in Libya must not fear the fate of Charles Taylor because the law that convicted the Liberian ex-leader is not exactly the law for those who commit war crimes, but the law of those who rule — the law of the victors. In fact, international law has just become the law of the powerful –bluntly put, the law of Western powers.

It started way back with the Nuremberg trials after the Second World War. Atrocities committed by members of the Allied Forces only became crime once they were traced to the responsibility of the Nazis.

Only those from the Nazi side of the war were charged of war crimes, even in clear cases where similar acts had been carried out by members of the Allied Forces.

The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia was also all about charging Slobodan Milosevic and his people, even where the other side had carried out similar acts of crime.

In Libya today the rule of law is just the law for those who rule, the so-called National Transitional Council, otherwise it would be indisputable to charge, try and convict the Libyan rebels of “multiple counts of murder, acts of terrorism, outrages upon personal dignity, cruel treatment and inhumane acts,” — all charges easily preferred against poor Charles Taylor, and for Libya against pro-Gaddafi officials and soldiers.

No doubt Taylor was no saint. If this special court really wanted Taylor’s personal involvement in war crimes, they should have just investigated his ascendancy to power at the expense of Samuel Doe.

He and Prince Johnson did pretty horrible stuff quite fitting to all the charges Taylor was vicariously held responsible for by the Special Court for Sierra Leon, but that cannot be investigated because then Taylor and Johnson were both carrying out US-sponsored war crimes in the service of imperialistic interests.

According to the landmark logic of the Special Court for Sierra Leone, Obama, Sarkozy and Cameron must all be “individually responsible” for the atrocities that happened in Libya last year, regardless of the fact that none of them was on the battle field carrying out any such crimes. Nato leaders and their foot soldiers can be excused together with the murderous ragtag Libyan rebels.

What is indisputably clear is that the three “aided and abetted” the rebels, “furnished them with arms and ammunition, gave them military personnel, provided operational support (especially aerial fire power), and provided them moral support.” Guilty as charged if we follow the logic of the Taylor trial.

We can in our bitterness for true justice totally forget about the possibility of a Special Court for Libya, and surely there will be no indictments, at least none sponsored by Western nations.

It is just like it will not happen that George W. Bush will be dragged to some special court one day, and like it will not happen to those ruthlessly murdering Bahraini protestors and to those Libyan war criminals, certainly not to the heartless Israeli thugs that habitually kill Palestinians for fun.

This is precisely because in these cases the criminals control the courts, either directly or through alliance to criminally minded Western imperialistic powers.

As rightly outlined by Stephen Gowans, ” . . . the function of international courts controlled by Western nations is not to deter atrocities, for atrocities committed in

the service of Western imperialism are never prosecuted, but to deter military action against Western interests.”

When Zimbabwe intervened in the DRC conflict in 1998, the outrage from Western quarters and their Zimbabwean puppets was more against the side on which

Zimbabwe was fighting and far less about the economic impact of the war on Zimbabwe, inasmuch as the later logic was peddled widely for propaganda purposes.

If Zimbabwe had joined Uganda and Rwanda to fight alongside the Western-backed Congolese rebels, it is quite clear that President Mugabe was going to be hailed as a legendary fighter for democracy, and would even be immensely funded for his troubles, with awards and accolades following galore.

The human rights abuses alleged to have been carried out in Zimbabwe between 2000 and 2008 are more of pretexts to find prosecution grounds for hated enemies of imperialism than they are a pursuit for justice — regardless of whether there are elements of truth in the allegations or not.

Someone must one day be held “individually responsible” for the crimes of the unprosecuted, even when it is openly declared that the convicted person did not commit any of the crimes.

This is what some white South African judge is laying foundation for through a local court ruling declaring South Africa’s extra-territorial jurisdiction over Zimbabwean suspects accused of playing a part in the said abuses.

Charles Taylor bitterly complained at the Special Court that George W. Bush was not being dragged to any special court despite his bragging about authorising torture and Afghanistan Nato crimes.

Perhaps Charles Taylor needs to be reminded that in its 10 years of existence, the International Criminal Court (ICC) has indicted 28 people from seven countries. Every single one of these people is African, despite that the lawless Iraq war was after July 2002, with the atrocity-laced Afghanistan war stretching well after this date, the murderous South Lebanon bombardment by Israel coming in 2006, followed by the indiscriminate bombing of Palestinians in 2007, the deadly Libya bombardment by Nato in 2007, not to mention the Colombia war and other conflicts like Obama’s drone attacks in Pakistan.

There are documented atrocities for each of the above listed conflicts, yet there is no single indictment on a single person outside the African continent.

International law has become the law against the weak, the law of the rulers of this world. Taylor has not been convicted of war crimes at all. He has been convicted of backing the wrong side of atrocities.

If Taylor was backing Western interests in the Sierra Leonean conflict, he would today be wielding the Nobel Peace Prize in place of the conviction he is vainly trying to fight.

Africa, we are one and together we will overcome. It is homeland or death!

Reason Wafawarova is a political writer based in Sydney, Australia.

U.S. Human Rights Abuses Highlighted

KCNA

Pyongyang, May 23 (KCNA) — The KCNA Tuesday issued an indictment accusing the U.S. of its unethical human rights abuses.

The indictment said:

The political rights of the majority of the toiling masses are being wantonly violated by money and power in the U.S. styling itself “Heaven of liberty and democracy.”

An election in the U.S. can be described as a contest in wasting money.

The midterm election held in November 2010 was reported to be the most expensive election in the U.S. history as 3.98 billion U.S. dollars was squandered for it.

The presidential election to be held this year is also expected to be a competition in money. U.S. President Obama, candidate from the Democratic Party, raised 45 million dollars in February and 53 million dollars in March. The fund for reelection of Obama is estimated to be 120. 01 million dollars.

Freedom of speech, secrecy of correspondence, inviolability of human body and other civic rights are openly violated under the pretence of “national security” in the U.S.

The U.S. Senate adopted an act on protecting cyber space as national property on June 24, 2010. In February last year BBC recalled that the U.S. frequently cried out for ensuring freedom of internet, labeling those countries taking measures to control internet “closed societies.” It accused the U.S. of contemplating making a legitimate framework to control internet in its mainland.

U.S. airports introduce full-body scanners for travelers under the pretext of security.

The U.S. authorities’ brutal suppression of participants in Occupy Wall Street demonstrations across the U.S. last year vividly showed the reality of the U.S., tundra of human rights.

The police authorities responsible for protecting rights of citizens of the U.S. are earning an ill fame as main culprits of violence and human rights abuses.

U.S. prisons have turned into medieval torture chambers and hells on earth.
The rights to food, clothing and housing, the most elementary human rights, are mercilessly suppressed in the American society where money is everything and the jungle law governs.

According to a survey of the U.S. Census Bureau, the number of the people living under poverty line across the country reached 49.1 million as of the end of 2011. The number of homeless people who cannot afford to live in their own houses because of high housing rent reached 636 000 last year. It is said that more than 51 000 people sleep under the open sky every day in Los Angeles, California, known as “a city of homeless people.”

The number of the unemployed in April this year stood at 12.5 million owing to the ever-deepening economic crisis. Among them 5.1 million people are the long-term unemployed.

According to a report released by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation on Sept. 19, 2011, more than one million crimes of violence were committed in the U.S. in 2010.

“Equality for all” much touted by the U.S. is nothing but a deceptive slogan and all forms of discrimination getting pronounced in the U.S. wantonly with each passing day mercilessly trample down upon the equality of people.

The consequences of deeply rooted racial discrimination are vividly manifested in all fabrics of social life.

Women and children in the U.S. are withering in the mire of social evils.
Ceaseless violence against women fully betrays the fin de siecle tendency in the barbarous American society.
The number of the poor children across the country is more than 15 million.

The number of those children subject to violence every year is over three million, counting only those formally registered.

The U.S. human rights abuses spilled over to different parts of the world, imposing immeasurable misfortunes and sufferings upon other countries and nations.

The U.S.-led “anti-terror war” that has lasted for more than a decade is unprecedented state-sponsored terrorism and hideous human rights abuse.

This is clearly proved by the “anti-terror war” now engulfing Pakistan in the wake of Afghanistan and Iraq. This has become a war of genocide as it takes the lives of guiltless civilians.
The U.S. is maltreating and torturing prisoners after setting up secret prisons abroad. This is the wanton violation of the international laws on human rights and humanitarianism.

The U.S. has cruelly trampled down upon the freedom of religion and faith of other nations.

It ceaselessly resorts to the moves to bring down governments of other countries and terrorism against democratic figures of various countries. They constitute a wanton violation of national rights and human rights abuses.

The U.S. organized more than 40 terrorist groups specializing in subversive acts and murder in a bid to stifle the Cuban revolution and financially backed them.

For more than a century, the U.S. hatched plots to overthrow governments of many countries including Nicaragua, Philippines, Puerto Rico, Honduras, Guatemala, Chile, Grenada, Panama, Afghanistan and Iraq to realize its ambition for domination.

In the period from 1961 to 1976, it conducted at least 900 assassination and terror operations against world famous politicians and foreign government officials.

The U.S. is the worst rogue state in terms of human rights abuses as it has perpetrated the most serious human rights abuses at home and abroad.
This being a hard reality, the U.S. is apt to kick up human rights rackets in the international arena and politicize human rights issues, build up public opinions over them and internationalize those issues in a bid to use them as a lever for pressurizing other countries. This is like “the guilty party filing the suit first.”

It is none other than the U.S. which should be brought to the world human rights court.

The New War in Iraq

Eric Draitser

May 23, 2012 – Since the withdrawal of US military forces from Iraq, there has been an ongoing campaign of demonization and subversion of Prime Minister Maliki. Though this effort likely began with an assassination attempt in December of 2011, it has come to a head in recent months with the warrant, flight, and subsequent trial of Vice President Hashemi. This conflict illustrates not only the deep divides that exist within the ruling power structure in Baghdad, but also the attempts by foreign powers to exert control and influence over the future of Iraq.

Image: Current Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has walked a careful balancing act between departing US occupation forces, the foreign-interests that sent them, and establishing national sovereignty including independently determined relationships with neighboring states such as Syria and Iran.

Prime Minister Maliki came to power by overcoming the opposition of US puppet figures such as Allawi and Chalabi who, despite incredible financial support and propaganda, were unable to establish coalitions or even legitimate bases of support. Instead, Maliki emerged as the Shiite leader who was able to unify officials from a variety of ethnic and religious groups. At the time, this seemed a positive development for US military leadership and the Bush administration, anxious to have anyone who could exert control over Iraq.

However, in the years since then, Maliki has developed into a strong, nationalist leader who, in the interests of the Shiite majority and Iraq more generally, has exponentially expanded relations with Tehran, consolidated political control (particularly in the Kurdish North), and broken with the United States and its proxies in the GCC on issues such as Libya, Syria, and oil contracts. Naturally, this is anathema to US designs for Iraq and has lead to this concerted effort to remove, by any means necessary, Prime Minister Maliki. 

Assassination Attempt a Warning To Maliki


In the midst of the withdrawal of US troops from Iraqi soil last December, a very rare event took place: a bomb exploded inside the heavily fortified Green Zone of Baghdad. Although the event garnered little international attention against the backdrop of the so-called “end of the Iraq War”, it sent a very clear message to the leadership in Baghdad – toe the US line or suffer the consequences. In the aftermath of the bombing, Maliki stated publicly that the plot was clearly an attempt on his life. However, instead of capitulating to such threats, the Prime Minister immediately denounced the episode and proceeded to meet with Iranian President Ahmadinejad. Undoubtedly, this decision conveyed to the United States that idea that Maliki would not succumb to pressure and threats.

The lessons learned from this failed assassination were significant. First and foremost, the United States and its proxies in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and elsewhere came to recognize that Maliki and his Shiite base of support in Baghdad had become more than just a thorn in the side of imperial ambitions. Rather, they were forced to admit that he and his ruling coalition had become a legitimate nationalist force. Secondly, those nations with designs to control Iraqi oil wealth, among other natural resources, were forced to admit that the traditional, strong-arm tactics of assassination and physical violence would not be effective against the entrenched and popular Maliki. Instead, they had to change the strategy from overt attacks to covert subversion.

The Hashemi Affair


When the story of Iraqi Vice President Hashemi being implicated in the operation of an assassination death squad first broke, it was immediately apparent that the issue was going to become an attempt to divide the government and destroy Prime Minister Maliki. Not only was Hashemi a representative of the Iraqiya bloc, an integral part of the fragile coalition ruling the country, but he was a Sunni. This meant that Iraq would be divided along political and religious lines. Naturally, the evolution of the crisis only furthered these initial conclusions.

Upon receiving news that an arrest warrant had been issued, Hashemi immediately fled to the Kurdish territory, seeking asylum in the arms of the Barzani government in Arbil. This initial move by Hashemi signaled to the world that this conflict was part of a much larger political struggle that would pit the Shiite majority led by Maliki against much of the Sunni and Kurdish minorities. It is no secret that these divisions have been, and continue to be, the locus of power maintained in Iraq by Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and their paymasters in Washington. In order to maintain their domination of Iraq’s wealth and resources, they needed to get rid of Maliki and they were determined to use their agent Hashemi to do so.

Any lingering doubts about the role of Saudi Arabia and Qatar in fostering this conflict were erased when Hashemi left Arbil in the semi-autonomous Iraqi Kurdistan for Qatar followed by Saudi Arabia. It was during these trips where Hashemi met with various power brokers, essentially receiving his orders from the reactionary Sunni leaders of those two nations. Hashemi had proven to be a useful pawn on the chessboard of the Middle East, in which the Gulf monarchies, always acting in the interests of their masters in Washington, seemed intent on exerting their dominance over Iraq at all costs.

The final stop on Hashemi’s destabilization tour was Turkey, where he resides today. Ankara, which has its own strategic interests in Iraq, for which Maliki presents an obstacle, has provided Hashemi with safe haven, even after Interpol issued a warrant calling for Hashemi’s arrest. Turkey, with its large Kurdish minority and ambitions of becoming a dominant regional power, has maintained that they will not extradite Hashemi back to Baghdad where his trial continues. By providing safe haven to an international fugitive, Turkey is playing a dangerous political game, one that threatens not only their own stability, but that of the entire region.

The Propaganda of “Dictatorship”

In the last two months, as the various forces have aligned to subvert the Maliki government, the talking point has been that Maliki is consolidating power into a dictatorship. Naturally, the propaganda function of such absurdities is to conflate Maliki with Saddam Hussein, thereby delegitimizing him in the eyes of an uninformed public. In fact, as Maliki has been attacked seemingly from all sides, he has moved to consolidate control so as to maintain the fragile coalition that rules Iraq despite (not thanks to) the weak, decentralized government established by the US-imposed Iraqi Constitution. In so doing, Maliki has won many enemies while, simultaneously working to restore Iraq’s reputation internationally.

The cries of “dictator” must be directly attributed to the forces of Western imperialism that control much of the international media and who seem to have no issue whatsoever with the dictatorships of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain and other proxy states. Of course, this demonization of Maliki is a last-ditch effort at destabilizing his government in the wake of the string of failures already mentioned.

Having fought an aggressive and illegal war, committed billions of dollars to a reconstruction process that favored corporate and financial interests, and sought to exploit natural resources, the United States and its regional proxies have seemingly exhausted all avenues to rid themselves of the disease of Prime Minister Maliki. However, diseases often mutate, changing their form to become resistant to cures and antidotes – surviving even under extreme circumstances. To accept this analogy, we must see Maliki and his relations with Iran as having infected the imperial body and, as anti-imperialists interested in peace, prosperity and freedom for all, not just some, we must support Maliki and the Iraqi people in their ongoing struggle for true independence.

….

Eric Draister is an independent geopolitical analyst that maintains StopImperialism.com which hosts his weekly podcast. He has been a guest on Dr. Webster Tarpley’s World Crisis Radio and has provided analysis on Russia Today.

Syria’s Newly Elected People’s Assembly to Convene on Thursday

SANA

DAMASCUS, (SANA) — The People’s Assembly is to convene on Thursday for the first time in the first legislative term for 2012 according to Decree No. 172 for 2012 and based on Article 64 of the Syrian Constitution approved last February.

According to Paragraph 2 of Article 64 of the Constitution and the Assembly’s statute, the Assembly, which is to be headed at its first meeting by the eldest attending member, with the youngest two members undertaking the secretariat, elect the Speaker and members of the Assembly’s Office by secret ballot.

The Assembly’s members are to be sworn in at the first meeting of the newly elected Assembly.

The People’s Assembly elections were conducted on May 7th, 2012 under the new constitution and the General Elections law and with independent judicial supervision represented by the Higher Committee for Elections and judicial subcommittees.

250 members were elected out of 7195 candidates from all spectrums of society. The vote percentage reached 51.26 out of 5186957 voters. The Number of elected women amounted to 30 and the number of members elected for the first time reached 209.

The parliamentary elections included the participation of the political forces and blocs, licensed parties and independent personalities, individually or joined in lists of party and political alliances under media coverage of about 200 Arab and foreign media outlets.

The People’s Assembly is elected every four years. It consists of 250 members according to Decree 113 for 2012, 172 of whom represent the workers and farmers sector, while the other 123 members represent the rest of the sectors.

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Puerto Rico: Empire’s Grip and a Glimmer of Hope

Nik Nikandrov

The U.S. Administration explains that the hyperactivity of the FBI and the rest of the U.S. intelligence community in Puerto Rico is a part of the response to the threat posed by terrorist groups, drug cartels, and agents of hostile regimes. The U.S. hit list, it must be noted, includes as legitimate targets the radical separatists who, in fact, are ordinary Puerto Ricans trying to press for the independence of their country. The U.S. started to maintain a grip on Puerto Rico since the 1898 war with Spain. As a result, the former colonialism gave way to a new form of control: as of today, the U.S. government papers describe Puerto Rico as an associate free state and, whatever it may mean, an organized unincorporated territory. The FBI, the CIA, the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency, DEA, etc. enjoy full freedom of maneuver in the country which, due to its strategic location, conveniently serves as a launch pad for covert operations against its Latin American peers, especially Brazil, Cuba, Venezuela, and the rest of the populist camp. In Puerto Rico, the U.S. agencies spy on the embassies and trade missions of Washington’s potential foes, while Puerto Ricans routinely complain about phone tapping and pervasive surveillance.

Puerto Rico is the country were U.S. curators meet with representatives of the Venezuelan opposition. Puerto Rican «friends of Chavez» got a glimpse of one of such encounters in La Concha hotel in January, 2009. It was organized by U.S. diplomatic envoy to Venezuela John Caulfield whose records of jobs in conflict zones leaves little doubt that the gentleman must be on the CIA payroll.

Monitoring the atmosphere across the Puerto Rican society along with the allegedly extremist groups, and spotting the epicenters of brewing discontent are, for the most part, the tasks handled by the FBI. The FBI operatives started working in Puerto Rico in 1935. At the time, they screened the country for Comintern agents and the nationalist group led by Albizu Campos – for radicals, while also helping the regime suppress popular protests. The 1937 Ponce massacre which occurred when the police fired on a completely peaceful march, killing 20 and wounding over 100, is remembered in Puerto Rico as the bloodiest episode in the country’s history.

The FBI archive portraying the U.S. offensives against resistance groups and Puerto Rico in 1930-1970 – a total of over 120,000 pages – was partially published by the Puerto Rican studies Center of Hunter College of the City University of New York. The materials gave scholars an unprecedented insight into the FBI activities. An instruction penned by Edgar Hoover urged the U.S. Government agents to cultivate sources of information about leaders and activists of Puerto Rican resistance groups and about their lifestyles and habits, obviously as a form of preparation for preemptive strikes. Anyhow, resistance to the Empire’s colonial dictate never dried up in Puerto Rico as hundreds of people sacrificed their lives to make it a free country. In 1950s, Puerto Rican patriots launched raids against the governor’s residence in San Juan, Harry Truman’s residence in Washington, and the U.S. House of Representatives. The FBI struck back, arrested leaders of Puerto Rican nationalists and leftist groups, sent its local partners to hunt down their relatives, and organized attacks against the «extremists’» headquarters.

Puerto Ricans managed to bounce considerable concessions out of the U.S.: at the moment, they have self-governance, some kind of constitution, and – in a fairly diluted form – the representative, executive, and judicial authorities. Still, the supreme authority in Puerto Rico is exercised by the U.S. Congress, meaning that «the associate state» is being run from Washington. Public protests forced the U.S. to formally close 13 military bases in Puerto Rico and to stop using the Vieques Island military facilities, though the truth is that the infrastructures are properly maintained and would take virtually no time to revitalize.

The declassification of the above materials prompted debates over the current state of the U.S. intelligence community’s operations against the Puerto Rican proponents of independence. The inescapable conclusion seems to be that nothing in the sphere changed since the Cold War, the epoch when practically any steps could be justified by simply citing the Soviet peril. The detention of Puerto Rican Nationalist Party president Francisco Torres at an airport in Panama, with the police agents saying at the moment of the arrest that they acted on instructions from the FBI representative in the country, highlighted the proportions of the problem. Torres was allowed to continue with his trip when the blunt demonstration of the FBI might was over. Another detention followed upon his return to Puerto Rico. This time, he was frisked and his credit cards and photos of relatives were copied, though no official warrant of any kind was shown. Quite a few leftist and nationalist activists report similar humiliations, but their right-wing opponents should have no illusions – information about them is also being carefully collected for future use.

In Washington, the hopes of the Puerto Rican nationally oriented forces for a reunion with other Latin American nations are seen as a risk to the U.S. interests in the region. There is no shortage of forecasts that an independent Puerto Rico would drift towards Cuba and Venezuela, the two populist camp champions persistently voicing calls to erase the current colonial status of the country. Moreover, the no longer short-leashed Puerto Rico might actually join ALBA, considering that several Caribbean island countries – Dominica, Antigua and Barbuda, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines – are already there. In December, 2011, a cohort of Puerto Rican parties – El Partido Nacionalista, El Frente Socialista, El Movimiento Independentista Nacional Hostosiano – asked CELAC for assistance in the region’s efforts to shake off the residues of colonialism and called for stronger backing Puerto Rico in its more than a century-long struggled against the Empire. The U.S. was described in the corresponding joint statement as a colonial power responsible for the present-day situation. On the other hand, Puerto Ricans are fully aware that they and nobody else can bring about serious change.

Expressions of public support for Puerto Rico’s aspirations are a permanent background of the political live throughout Latin America. The XI ALBA forum which convened last February passed a declaration on the independence of Puerto Rico. The document was read by H. Chavez who stressed that Puerto Ricans are a unique Latin American and Caribbean nation with its own history, whose sovereignty was stolen by the U.S. with the help of the colonial system a century ago. The Venezuelan leader said the Puerto Rican push for independence must be upheld by the entire Latin America with all of its collective bodies, the CELAC in the first place. The declaration also carried the demand that the U.S. release all political prisoners jailed over their struggle for the independence of Puerto Rico.

Manifestations broadcasting solidarity with Puerto Rico reached such proportions in Latin America that U.S. President B. Obama paid a visit to San Juan on June 14, 2011 as a countermeasure. Notably, this was the first time a U.S. leader traveled to Puerto Rico over the past 50 years. On the surface, the tour was styled as a part of Obama’s fund-raising campaign, but the agenda centered around Washington’s support for the annexionists dreaming to see Puerto Rico incorporated into the U.S. was thinly veiled. The Puerto Rican governor Luis Fortuno, a neoliberal elected to the post from the New Progressive Party of Puerto Rico, is open about his eagerness to convert the country into 51st U.S. State.

Washington is obviously unprepared to greenlight the plan, the rationale being that appreciable benefits can be ripped given the status quo. At the moment, investments in Puerto Rico yield decent returns, while integrating it as a state would take giant financial infusions with the aim of driving the local socioeconomic standards up to the average U.S. level.

Loud protests accompanied Obama’s stay in Puerto Rica. Altogether, they combined into a kind of a street referendum in which Puerto Ricans made it absolutely clear which avenue towards self-determination – independence or merger into the U.S. – attracts them. The Puerto Rican media, in the meantime, are selling the unraveling crisis as a pretext to convince the audiences that Washington’s help is the only cure and an independent Puerto Rico would in no time sink to the level of Haiti.

Governor Fortuno is simply denying his own country a future. These days, rampant unemployment leaves masses of young people with no option but to join criminal groups and become involved with the drug business. Currently, around 10,000 students have no money to pay tuition fees and are about to drop out of universities. Many of the educated young who see no prospects for employment become political activists. It should also be taken into account that quite a few young Puerto Ricans had served in the U.S. Army. It is common for the young to feel that only independence can open up to them a tolerable range of opportunities, and, by all means, H. Chavez tops the popularity ratings among the population group.

The April, 2012 appointment of Hector Pesquera to the post of Puerto Rican police chief promises a tide of political repression in the country. Fortuno made the decision after consultations of Washington, and Pesquera is known to have been an FBI special agent in Miami who was in touch with Cuban immigrant groups, was involved in the assassination of Los Macheteros popular army commander Filliberto Orjeda Rios and in the plot to kill Danilo Andersen, the Venezuelan persecutor that investigated the April, 2002 coup attempt. Pesquera was instrumental in the arrest of five Cuban spies sent to the U.S. to identify terrorists en route to Cuba. The Puerto Rican patriots suspect that Pesquera’s career jump is a prologue to a new round of repressions against pro-independence movements and suggest immediately forming a maximally inclusive popular front for self-defense.

No matter what, Puerto Ricans are natural optimists. Roberto Torres Collazo wrote in the wake of Obama’s visits to Puerto Rico that the tour was a minor event to the majority of the country’s population: «80% of Puerto Ricans speak Spanish only and most of them prefer their own music and food to the U.S. pop-culture and McDonald’s. From birth, we are spontaneous, simple, and fun people, like most of our Latin American peers. Our customs and traditions place us much closer to the Latin and Central America than to North America».