In June 2014, I visited Syria (link http://www.workers.org/articles/2014/06/05/syrian-people-elect-president-wide-margin-amid-insurgent-attacks/) with the objective of learning the truth about the situation there. This trip was entirely legal and well documented. I visited along with observers representing 32 countries, many of which were members of Parliament and representatives of local governments in countries such as Bolivia, Brazil, Uganda, and beyond. Since then, I have reported on my trip in public meetings at the United Nations, as well as in Buffalo, NY, Rochester, NY, Syracuse, NY, Albany, NY, and where I live in Philadelphia, PA. Since 2007, I have been a committed anti-war activist with many organizations, including Students for a Democratic Society, the International Action Center and several others. The FBI mentioned me as an activist with FIST (Fight Imperialism, Stand Together), of which I am one of the national coordinators.
Why is the FBI coming after me? The FBI’s attempt to question me is not only an attack on me, it is an attack on anyone who chooses to travel the world and seek a perspective that is not represented by the corporate media. The US depends on misinformation and huge lies to perpetrate their crimes abroad. Yet the FBI has picked the wrong person, since I have strong friends and allies across the US who will stand with me in the fight against unjust government repression.
This visit is a continuation of the FBI’s attack on anti-war and international solidarity activists. The FBI has been attempting to charge 24 anti-war and international solidarity activists with “material support of terrorism.” These activist are targeted because have been targeted and face potential long term jail sentences. Please take a moment to look at the StopFBI.net (link http://www.stopfbi.net/) site for the Committee to Stop FBI Repression, the organization that has fought to defend these 24, as well as Palestinian activist Rasmea Odeh. This is a strong example of the political fightback that is needed to defend activists from Government repression.
These activists are not alone in their treatment. Since 2001, hundreds of Muslim men in the USA have been victims of entrapment, harassment, and false imprisonment simply for their religion.
I strongly encourage all of my friends, co-workers, and family members take a look at the Center for Constitutional Rights’ booklet, entitled “If an Agent Knocks,” http://www.stopfbi.net/sites/default/files/CCR_If_An_Agent_Knocks-1.pdf for resources on what to do if the FBI comes to your door. Most importantly, you SHOULD NEVER AGREE TO SPEAK TO THE FBI WITHOUT A LAWYER present and really you should never speak with the FBI. You can simply say, “I do not wish to speak with you. I will have my lawyer contact you,’ and then immediately close the door.
Most of us do not have a lawyer, but if you or a family member is contacted by the FBI, you should contact the National Lawyers Guild immediately as well as other activists who have been dealt with this government intimidation before.
As soon as this happened, I called Sara Flounders, the co-director of the International Action Center, to discuss our strategy to stop this FBI repression. We decided to make a clear statement as public as possible, we will not be silent as you attempt to attack those who choose to speak out against unjust US foreign policy. In fact, we will use any attack on my freedom to continue to build a movement against government repression. It is in this spirit that I am writing you all today.
As Reverend Martin Luther King Jr said, “The bombs in Vietnam explode at home.” With the US wars escalating in Syria, Iraq and beyond, we see that US war has only caused massive devastation for the people of the world, while bringing in huge profits to few. Meanwhile, billions of dollars are taken away from public education and jobs and the government has trampled our basic civil liberties. As the activists in the Committee to Stop FBI Repression have done, I will continue to fight unjust US wars on people across the world, as well as demanding full funding for human needs and an end to the aggressive destruction of our basic civil liberties.
I am not certain what will happen next. While I do have legal help, I hope you all will also stand with me in case of any further attempt at government repression by the FBI.
Another world is possible,
Justice for Michael Brown!
The grim news that police have killed yet another unarmed African-American youth comes this time from Ferguson, Mo., a suburb of St. Louis. Michael Brown, just 18, had expected to enter college in a few weeks. Police have not yet come up with any explanation for why officers riddled Brown’s body with 10 bullets after stopping him as he walked with a friend to his grandmother’s house. Nor has the Ferguson Police Department even released the name of the killer cop, who has been put on “administrative leave.”
Would this even have made national news without the outpouring of rage from the Black community that followed the youth’s killing? An impromptu memorial the next night turned into a protest demonstration, surrounded by hundreds of cops in riot gear and armed with tear gas, shotguns and attack dogs. Youth repeatedly confronted the police with the cry “Don’t shoot me!” as they turned their backs and held their hands up high in the air.
Ferguson is actually part of greater St. Louis, which has lost population as industry declined. Ferguson is a city of 22,000 that is two-thirds Black; the police are almost all white. St. Louis grew into a metropolis during the era of slavery. Its wealth came from the exploitation and oppression of Black and Native peoples.
It took a Civil War a century and a half ago to end chattel slavery, but that revolution was never finished. A compromise between Northern industrialists/bankers and Southern landowners ended Reconstruction in the 1870s and allowed the rich whites to keep their huge plantations. A new wave of racist terror, spearheaded by the Ku Klux Klan, smashed the newly won political and social rights of Black people in the South and drove them back into the semi-slavery of the sharecropping system and racial segregation.
Even with the massive Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s, de facto segregation still exists in many parts of the North and South, along with higher prices and lower wages, or no wages at all, that confront so many working-class Black communities.
The youth of Ferguson have every right to rebel and disbelieve official pronouncements from the FBI that it will “investigate” whether the police have carried out civil rights abuses in Ferguson. These investigations seldom go anywhere because they fail to address the root causes of the problem.
Police brutality is epidemic not because of a few “bad apples” or because they didn’t get better “sensitivity training,” but because the job of the police is to keep the people from rebelling against an economic system that is unjust and increasingly unable to provide the basic necessities of life. The capitalist system exploits all workers, but it is especially lethal to the Black, Latino/a, Native, Asian, Middle Eastern and other peoples from oppressed nations. The cops are in their communities to sow terror and keep them from rising up against their unbearable conditions.
Justice for Michael Brown! No justice, no peace!
IAC Statement: Demand independent investigation: U.S./EU exploits plane shootdown over Ukraine
In the aftermath of the horrific crash of a Malaysian Airlines civilian jet that killed 298 people on July 18 in the war zone of eastern Ukraine, the governments of the United States and European Union are cynically trying to exploit the incident for their own imperialist gains.
President Barack Obama has blamed Russia, claiming that the shoot down was the result of the civil war in Ukraine and asserting that Russia instigated the war. However, in reality, the war was caused by the aggressive policy of U.S. and EU imperialism.
In order to install a regime that would cater to International Monetary Fund dictates, force austerity on working-class Ukrainians, and bind Ukraine to NATO, the imperialist powers supported a d’état that relied on vicious, openly pro-fascist forces. The aggression from Kiev–including the bombing of southeastern cities, the killing of civilians and the forced exile of tens of thousands to Russia–makes the resistance of the people of Ukraine inevitable and completely justified.
The cause of the crash remains rooted in speculation as of now. However, it is highly unlikely that the popular resistance forces in Ukraine have weapons capable of shooting down a plane at the altitude, and it is clear that neither Russia nor the resistance have any motive in downing a passenger aircraft. There are also many questions surrounding the role of the U.S.-supported Kiev government’s rerouting of the civilian aircraft to a trajectory directly over the war zone.
In fact, the only one who could possibly gain from the shoot down are U.S. and EU imperialism, and they have wasted no time in attempting to manipulate the situation. Progressives in the U.S. and around the world must remain vigilant to the threat of increased aggression on the part of these warmongers.
We demand an independent inquiry into the cause of the plane shoot down. And we demand that the U.S. and EU end their bloody intervention in Ukraine.
U.S. caused Iraq’s present war and chaos.
With the outbreak of fighting from Mosul to Tikrit putting Iraq back onto the front burner of world media coverage and with the Obama administration threatening air strikes in Iraq once again, anti-war organizations and activists in the United States must take a clear position against further U.S. intervention of any type. Broad opposition must again be mobilized to demand:
No bombing, no military aid, no advisors and no troops to Iraq!
While it is still unclear exactly who is directing the forces against the Baghdad regime, this remains clear: No intervention by the Pentagon or by the U.S.’s NATO allies can improve conditions for the Iraqi people. Such an intervention will widen the war and create even more harm.
In addition, military strikes in Iraq – not to mention the possibility of again sending U.S. troops into the region – will mean adding to the already trillions of dollars that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have stolen from working people inside the United States.
The history of U.S. relations with Iraq, especially the U.S. war of 1991 and the murderous sanctions of the following 12 years attest to this truth. Then in March of 2003, U.S. and British imperialism committed the gravest possible war crime when they launched an aggressive war to conquer Iraq.
This war and the eight-year occupation killed 1.5 million Iraqis, drove five million more into external and internal exile, and destroyed the healthcare, educational, sanitary and industrial infrastructure. It also killed 4,500 U.S. troops and wounded 30,000 to 100,000 more who are still suffering.
To keep a powerful popular resistance movement from defeating the U.S.-British occupation in 2004 and 2005, U.S. strategists did everything possible to exacerbate ethnic and religious differences among Iraqis so as to divide the resistance. The U.S. occupation force treated Sunni and Shiite differently and Arab and Kurd differently. They consciously fostered antagonisms and poisoned all relations between the groupings.
When the U.S. pulled its combat troops out of Iraq in 2011, it left an unpopular client regime headed by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, hated by many sectors of Iraqis. In the past months, the Baghdad regime answered all protesting groups with bullets and bombs. Fallujah, a town already much destroyed by U.S. bombs, was again a target.
It was almost inevitable that sectors of Iraqi society would try to topple this regime. Finally, armed opponents of the Maliki regime seized Mosul and other cities north of Baghdad. The Iraqi army occupying this region collapsed and retreated. This brought Iraq to today’s crisis.
Both Maliki and U.S. political leaders concentrate their propaganda against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) as the group leading the military uprising in Mosul, Tikrit and other Iraqi towns. Other sources include Iraqi secular nationalist forces – such as those from the Baath Party and local tribal organizations in the forces fighting against Maliki.
ISIS, a reactionary sectarian heavily armed militia has been funded by Kuwait, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, which are U.S. allies with their own local interests and connections. ISIS profited from U.S. and NATO attempts to enflame sectarian violence to overthrow the Bashar al-Assad government in Syria.
Whatever and whoever is involved in the conflict in Iraq today direct U.S. military intervention can only make the situation worse for all, just as it did earlier in Iraq and just as imperialist intervention has in Syria, Libya, Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Somalia, Mali, and Ukraine.
It is U.S. imperialist intervention that caused the crisis and instability that poisons Iraq today. Further intervention will only worsen life for the Iraqis and for the U.S. working class.
U.S. stay out of Iraq!
Tucson teach-in on U.S./NATO intervention in Ukraine
By Jafe Arnoldski
May 27, 2014
Originally published in FightBack!News http://www.fightbacknews.org/2014/5/27/tucson-teach-usnato-intervention-ukraine
Tucson, AZ – Tucson activists organized a presentation and discussion on the crisis in Ukraine, May 23. The teach-in was part of the nationwide emergency action campaign, initiated by the United National Antiwar Coalition, against U.S. intervention in Ukraine.
The event, attended by 20 anti-war activists and Tucsonans eager to learn about the ominous developments in Ukraine, featured speakers from the Freedom Road Socialist Organization, Alliance for Global Justice, and Workers World Party. The presentations covered the history and dynamics leading up to the Maidan protests, the U.S. and NATO-backed fascist coup in February, the current anti-fascist resistance across the country and the role of U.S. imperialism and the corporate media.
Paul Teitelbaum with Workers World Party and an organizer of the panel explained, “People will never be told the truth of the situation by the bourgeois media. So it’s important to gather and learn about the role of U.S. imperialism in creating the crisis in Ukraine and the relationship between the imperialists and the fascists. Combating media lies and clarifying the political character of the events will help us build the strong anti-imperialist, anti-war movement that we need.”
After the presentations, a lively question and answer discussion shed further light on the urgent need to oppose the U.S. efforts that are backing fascists in Ukraine and the malicious expansion of NATO into Eastern Europe. Speakers and participants also drew connections between U.S. meddling in Ukraine, Belarus and Venezuela.
In front of a flag of the newly established Donetsk People’s Republic in Eastern Ukraine, activists demanded “U.S. hands off Ukraine,” and “Victory to the anti-fascist resistance,” and vowed to uphold solidarity with the people of Ukraine in opposing the U.S.-backed Kiev junta.