Vietnam Vets Against the War take part in an antiwar rally – 1970. Photo: flickr
“How do you motivate men and women to fight and die for a cause many of them don’t believe in, and whose purpose they can’t articulate?”
That’s what Phil Klay, author and U.S. Marine Corps veteran, asks in an essay published this month in The Atlantic. Unfortunately, he points out in a recent New York Times op-ed, “Serious discussion of foreign policy and the military’s role within it is often prohibited” by what he calls “patriotic correctness.”
In a well-functioning democracy, Klay argues, citizens must debate and question how their elected officials employ their military, an organization which ought to represent the values of the people. But it seems many Americans remain unconcerned about the wars the United States is currently fighting (at last count, we’re bombing at least seven countries) though they foot the bill both in tax dollars and lives. Continue reading →
Taking the stage on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. on Saturday, high school student David Hogg offered hundreds of thousands of audience members a visual representation of his reasons for helping to organize the March for Our Lives, a worldwide gun control advocacy demonstration.
“I’m going to start off by putting this price tag right here as a reminder for you guys to know how much Marco Rubio took for every student’s life in Florida,” Hogg said, placing a price tag reading “$1.05” on the podium. Continue reading →
“We are firsthand witnesses to the kind of devastation that gross incompetence and political inaction can produce,” Parkland student journalists wrote in The Guardian. (Photo: March for Our Lives)
Ahead of the historic “March for Our Lives” demonstrations taking place nationwide on Saturday, student journalists from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida—the site of a shooting last month that left 17 dead—published a manifesto in The Guardian on Friday declaring that they can no longer “stand idly by as the country continues to be infected by a plague of gun violence.”
“We have a unique platform not only as student journalists, but also as survivors of a mass shooting. We are firsthand witnesses to the kind of devastation that gross incompetence and political inaction can produce,” wrote the students, who work for the Stoneman Douglas school newspaper The Eagle Eye. “We will be marching this Saturday for those that we loved and lost, and we write this in the hope that no other community or publication will ever have to do the same.”
As families continue to grieve and hold funerals for the 17 victims of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, in Parkland, Fla., students and educators are calling for a nationwide day of action including school walkouts to protest lawmakers’ deadly inaction on gun control legislation.
The day set for the actions is April 20, which will be the 19th anniversary of the massacre at Columbine High School. Continue reading →
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) will no longer defend groups that insist on marching with firearms, following violent gatherings of white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia last weekend.
“The events of Charlottesville require any judge, any police chief, and any legal group to look at the facts of any white-supremacy protests with a much finer comb,” Anthony Romero, the ACLU’s long-serving executive director, told the Wall Street Journal Thursday evening. Continue reading →
Tayyip Erdogan, John Kerry and Barack Obama; Wales, 2014. Photo: Public domain via Wikimedia Commons
The Turkish mission to weed out every possible element of dissent continues, with the government of Turkey reportedly dismissing close to 1,700 military personnel and shutting down 131 media outlets throughout the country.
Of the servicemen recently fired in Turkey, 149 were generals and admirals, meaning approximately 40 percent of all of generals and admirals in Turkey’s military are now without jobs. Continue reading →
“Denial of genocide is the final stage of genocide because it strives to kill the memory of the event; denial seeks to demonize the victims and rehabilitate the perpetrators; denial creates what the psychiatrist Robert Jay Lifton has called “a morally counterfeit universe for the survivors and their legacy.”
Written by Carol Benedict.
“THOSE WHO FELL BY THE WAYSIDE. Scenes like this were common all over the Armenian provinces, in the spring and summer months of 1915. Death in its several forms—massacre, starvation, exhaustion—destroyed the larger part of the refugees. The Turkish policy was that of extermination under the guise of deportation.” Picture showing Armenians killed during the Armenian Genocide. Image taken from Ambassador Morgenthau’s Story, written by Henry Morgenthau, Sr. and published in 1918. Image Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.
President Barack Obama declined Friday to call the 1915 massacre of Armenians a genocide, breaking a key campaign promise as his presidency nears an end, reports now say.
“Armenian-American leaders have urged Obama each year to make good on a pledge he made as a candidate in 2008, when he said the U.S. government had a responsibility to recognize the attacks as genocide and vowed to do so if elected. Obama’s failure to fulfill that pledge in his final annual statement on the massacre infuriated advocates and lawmakers who accused the president of outsourcing America’s moral voice to Turkey, which staunchly opposes the genocide label.
“It’s a Turkish government veto over U.S. policy on the Armenian genocide,” Aram Hamparian, head of the Armenian National Committee of America, said in an interview. “It’s like Erdogan imposing a gag rule very publicly and an American president enforcing that gag rule.” He was referring to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.”
In 2015, during remarks observing the 100th anniversary of the event, Pope Francis describes it as “the first genocide of the 20th century.” Turkey responded by recalling their ambassador to the Vatican.
Turkey recalled their ambassador to Austria after the Austrian parliament passed a resolution recognizing the Armenian Genocide, also in 2015.
One hundred and one years ago this month, the Ottoman Empire began carrying out a systematic plan to exterminate its minority Armenian population. Approximately 1.5 million people were killed or died of starvation. On April 24, 850 intellectuals, doctors and writers of the Armenian community were rounded up in what was then Constantinople and later executed. That was just the beginning.
The spring and summer of 1915 became the bloodiest in Armenian history. Men and older boys were separated from the rest of the population and killed without question. Women, children the elderly and the disabled were forced into long death marches into the Syrian dessert with no food or water given them, and those that survived the march were placed in annihilation camps.
For a documentary that is worth watching, please view the following. We can not write a summary that can do better justice to the Armenian Genocide controversy than this. The images and descriptions of the methods used to carry out the extermination of the Armenian peoples by the ruling Turkish government presented in this film are the blueprint for the subsequent genocides of the past one hundred years. Warning:Not for the weak of stomach or those who seek “quick videos” to explain things. Running time: 93 minutes.
The man who invented the word “genocide”— Raphael Lemkin, a lawyer of Polish-Jewish origin — was moved to investigate the attempt to eliminate an entire people by accounts of the massacres of Armenians. He did not, however, coin the word until 1943, applying it to Nazi Germany and the Jews in a book published a year later, “Axis Rule in Occupied Europe.”
Long before humanity knew about the horrors of Auschwitz, the Turkish government demonstrated the depravity of government force over vulnerable populations. Long before we knew of the term, genocide became a practice so routine that the Turkish government remains in denial of it to this day.
An article by the New York Times dated 15 December 1915 states that one million Armenians had been either deported or executed by the Ottoman government. Image via Wikipedia.
Even the Jewish community has taken pause. In a recent commentary regarding the Armenian genocide, Rabbi Jeffrey K. Salkin writes, “Why should Jews be talking about this? Because when we look at the Armenians, it is as if we are looking in the mirror.”
Standing on arguments of the numbers of deaths and whether it was intended to eliminate the entire Armenian group, the Turkish government refuses to accept the term “genocide” in reference to the Armenian slaughter. It is not part of their official recognized history; existing laws in Turkey basically prohibit and criminalize mentioning or talking about the Genocide. According to Turkey, “our memory does not support the Armenian narrative on the events of 1915, [but] it is only Turks and Armenians who can effectively address their issues together and work jointly to find ways forward. Turkey is ready to do its part”. They argue there is no “evidence”, no one is demanding the recognition, and that the death count could not possibly be as high as claimed.
The University of Minnesota’s Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies has compiled figures by province and district that show there were 2,133,190 Armenians in the empire in 1914 and only about 387,800 by 1922. Figures don’t lie, but liars figure.
Entrenched so deeply in denialism, in 2007 the Turkish government threatened the United States with closing bases in their borders if the US were to officially recognize this as a genocide. We also know, “The United States isn’t the only target of this censorship effort. At their government’s prompting, Turkish diasporan organizations in 2009 mounted a campaign to stop the Toronto school board from including the Armenian genocide in a human rights curriculum. In 2010, Ankara succeeded in pressuring the Rwandan government to scrap a presentation on the Armenian genocide at a panel on genocide at the United Nations. In 2012, the Turkish government was successful in demanding that the British government order the Tate Gallery to remove the word “genocide” from the wall text of an Arshile Gorky exhibit.”
This year, the Wall Street Journal published a full page advertisement denying the event as a genocide.
Despite these efforts, currently there are 20 countries that officially recognize the Armenian Genocide.
In the United States, more than 40 states, including California, have passed proclamations recognizing the Armenian Genocide. Additionally, the House of Representatives has passed legislation also recognizing the Genocide, lastly in 1996.
Map of massacre locations and deportation and extermination centers. Image via Wikipedia.
In 1915, the New York Times alone ran 145 articles reporting the Armenian crisis. The world was aware. No one did anything.
Turkey is now doing this to the Kurds in SE Turkey. The main stream media remains silent. Will you?
Wounded Knee, Pine Ridge Reservation, South Dakota. Entrance gate to cemetery; the location of the Hotchkiss gun used during Wounded Knee Massacre and later a mass grave for the victims. Photo: Napa (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 or CC BY 2.5], via Wikimedia Commons
In December 2014, we visited the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in what is now South Dakota. We chose to begin our project at the archetypal site of struggle for land, sovereignty and autonomy among natives in the United States. It was the Lakota people, including warriors Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse, who put up some of the most historic fights against the US military forces in the nation’s expansion westward.
In the 1876-1877 Black Hills War, the US intervened militarily on behalf of settlers searching for gold in the Lakota’s most sacred site, now known as the Wind Cave National Park. It was in this context that the Battle of Little Bighorn took place, when the Lakota famously defeated George Armstrong Custer’s Battalion of the 7th Cavalry. Pine Ridge was later the site of the 1890 Wounded Knee massacre, in which that same 7th Cavalry killed hundreds of Lakota in its struggle to disarm and forcibly relocate them to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Continue reading →
Today, March 8, 2016, is International Women’s Day. The theme for this year is “Pledge for Parity” and will be recognized around the world as women gather in discussion, workshops, rallies and through outreach programs to not only celebrate the achievements of women in the past, but to also encourage future endeavors and accomplishments.
Pledge For Parity. We thought throughout the last year about who, while aligning with the mission and values we hold to, best represented the struggle of fighting for equality, be it gender, nationality, economic or ethnic in orientation. The goal with this year’s theme is to raise global awareness and bring women center-front in roles of governance, leadership, employment and opportunities in education. Efforts are also being made to eliminate gender-specific issues such as child brides, female genital mutilation, honor killings and other forms of female oppression and dehumanization to exert control.
Women have led the way in activism as well. If it were not for Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha of Hurley Medical Center in Flint. Michigan, the world might still not know of the lead-poisioned water crisis still unfolding there. Without Jane Kleib and her efforts with Bold Nebraska, there would most likely be a really ugly pipeline being installed in Nebraska. If it were not for the life of Rozerin Chukar, we might not have a full understanding of the tragedy unfolding in Turkey’s SE region. All these women are considered worthy of the honor of our International Woman of the Year award.
Unfortunately, something occurred last Thursday that simplified our task, leading to our first and hopefully last posthumous nomination for International Woman of the Year.
Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Our 2016 International Woman of the Year award goes to Berta Cáceres, the co-founder of the National Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH). An internationally known indigenous and environmental activist and organizer, Berta was assassinated in her home last Thursday. Democracy Now! ran an excellent piece on her the morning after she was assassinated; we’ve taken the liberty of republishing it here:
Honduran indigenous and environmental organizer Berta Cáceres has been assassinated in her home. She was one of the leading organizers for indigenous land rights in Honduras.
In 1993 she co-founded the National Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH). For years the group faced a series of threats and repression.
According to Global Witness, Honduras has become the deadliest country in the world for environmentalists. Between 2010 and 2014, 101 environmental campaigners were killed in the country.
In 2015 Berta Cáceres won the Goldman Environmental Prize, the world’s leading environmental award. In awarding the prize, the Goldman Prize committee said, “In a country with growing socioeconomic inequality and human rights violations, Berta Cáceres rallied the indigenous Lenca people of Honduras and waged a grassroots campaign that successfully pressured the world’s largest dam builder to pull out of the Agua Zarca Dam.”
HONDURAS–At approximately 11:45pm last night, the General Coordinator of COPINH, Berta Caceres was assassinated in her hometown of La Esperanza, Intibuca. At least two individuals broke down the door of the house where Berta was staying for the evening in the Residencial La Líbano, shot and killed her. COPINH is urgently responding to this tragic situation.
Berta Cáceres is one of the leading indigenous activists in Honduras. She spent her life fighting in defense of indigenous rights, particularly to land and natural resources.
Cáceres, a Lenca woman, grew up during the violence that swept through Central America in the 1980s. Her mother, a midwife and social activist, took in and cared for refugees from El Salvador, teaching her young children the value of standing up for disenfranchised people.
Cáceres grew up to become a student activist and in 1993, she cofounded the National Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH) to address the growing threats posed to Lenca communities by illegal logging, fight for their territorial rights and improve their livelihoods.
Berta Cáceres and COPINH have been accompanying various land struggles throughout western Honduras. In the last few weeks, violence and repression towards Berta Cáceres, COPINH, and the communities they support, had escalated. In Rio Blanco on February 20, 2016, Berta Cáceres, COPINH, and the community of Rio Blanco faced threats and repression as they carried out a peaceful action to protect the River Gualcarque against the construction of a hydroelectric dam by the internationally-financed Honduran company DESA. As a result of COPINH’s work supporting the Rio Blanco struggle, Berta Cáceres had received countless threats against her life and was granted precautionary measures by the InterAmerican Commission for Human Rights. On February 25, 2016, another Lenca community supported by COPINH in Guise, Intibuca was violently evicted and destroyed.
Since the 2009 military coup, that was carried out by graduates of the U.S. Army School of the Americas, Honduras has witnessed an explosive growth in environmentally destructive megaprojects that would displace indigenous communities. Almost 30 percent of the country’s land was earmarked for mining concessions, creating a demand for cheap energy to power future mining operations. To meet this need, the government approved hundreds of dam projects around the country, privatizing rivers, land, and uprooting communities. Repression of social movements and targeted assassinations are rampant. Honduras has the world’s highest murder rate. Honduran human rights organizations report there have been over 10,000 human rights violations by state security forces and impunity is the norm–most murders go unpunished. The Associated Press has repeatedly exposed ties between the Honduran police and death squads, while U.S. military training and aid for the Honduran security forces continues.
It was like spring in autumn. The weather had been turning warm, day after day, in this early November 2015 in Paris. One month later the town will host the UN Climate Conference COP21… Such unseasonable weather, the hottest November ever, must for sure have something to do with climate change.
It was an evening of football, with France vs. Germany at the Stade de France, in Saint Denis, north of Paris. Meanwhile the café’s terraces on the 11th arrondissement, the “swinging quarter” of the City, were packed with people enjoying the equable temperature. Nearby, 1500 people were gathering at the Bataclan, a well-known and popular music-hall, to attend the hard rock concert of the group Eagles of Death Metal. Continue reading →