(greenleft.org.au) In the early morning of April 9, new battles broke out on the streets of Cairo. Protesters fought back against mass repression carried out by the army, leading to two deaths.
In a fresh victory for people’s power in Egypt, protesters defeated the crackdown.
Protesters were demanding former dictator Hosni Mubarak and all corrupt officials from his regime be charged. Protesters remained in Cairo’s Tahrir Square late into the night before the army moved in.
Independent journalist Austin Mackrell reported from Cairo in an April 9 post on his Moon Under Water blog that the army had “blocked off all entrances to Tahrir Square, then attacked the crowd with Tazers and batons [and] arreste[d] many”.
Some of those arrested included soldiers who called for an end of corruption in the armed forces. The army also used live ammunition, something that had yet to do since the pro-democracy protests broke out in January.
Mackrell said: “Sometime around dawn, after fighting running battles around downtown Cairo through the night, the protesters retook the square, driving the soldiers out, trashing and burning army vehicles, then using them, along with the barbed wire and movable barriers abandoned by the army, to build barricades and cordon off the square.
“They then began putting up tents for the first time since their camp was destroyed on March 9.”
The occupation of the square ended on April 12 when the military successful broke the occupation. Reuters reported on April 13: “Troops with machineguns rounded up several young men and pushed them into vans. Others hauled coils of barbed wire used by demonstrators and makeshift barriers erected during the protest onto military trucks.”
An April 13 Bikyamasr.com article quoted one protester, who said: “The army arrested many today, but we will come back on Friday.”
Whatever good feelings there were among many Egyptians towards the supreme military council, elevated to power on the backs of the mass mobilisations that brought down Mubarak, are now beginning to disappear.
Mohamed Abbas, a youth activist, told the April 11 Los Angeles Times: “They’re playing a dirty game. It’s our revolution.
“Yes, the military helped us achieve it. But it’s ours and that spirit is coming back.
“The period of truce between us and the army is over.”
This is reflected in the fact that the military council, which once referred to youth protesters as “brave young Egyptians”, now refer to the same youth as agitators.
The LA Times said: “Demonstrators hung in effigy Field Marshall Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, head of the ruling military council, and chanted that he was no better than Mubarak.”
It has also intensified the split in forces that opposed Mubarak.
The response of the Coalition of the Youth of the Revolution to the military crackdown was to suspend all dealing with the military council. AFP said on April 10 that, on the other hand, The Muslim Brotherhood said it “condemns any attempt to weaken (the military’s relationship with the people), and especially attempts to cause any split between the military and the people or to pit them against each other”.
A lot of the anger was directed at the military council over its unwillingness to prosecute corrupt officials of the Mubarak regime, or purge them from state institutions.
However, the return to mass mobilisations, and the prospect of larger ones, forced the military council and the government it appointed to appease the protesters.
The Associated Press said on April 13: “Egypt’s prosecutor general announced Wednesday the 15-day detention of former President Hosni Mubarak pending inquiries into accusations of corruption, abuse of authority and the killings of protesters during the uprising that ousted him from power.”
It also announced Mubarak’s two sons Gamal and Alaa were to be arrested.
Mubarak’s sons are being held in the same prison as former prime minister Ahmed Nazif, former minister of the interior Habib El-Adly and business tycoon Ahmed Ezz — all arrested for crimes committed under the Mubarak regime.
Mubarak reportedly suffered a heart attack while facing questioning by prosecutors and was taken to hospital, where he is to be questioned.
On April 10, the television news network Al-Arabiya aired a statement by Mubarak in which he said “he and his family were the victims of ‘unjust campaigns and false claims that seek to ruin my reputation and challenge my integrity and my … military and political history’.”
Outside the hospital, protesters chanted: “We want our money. We want the thief to be tried.”
Protesters have also sought to push the government to take action against Israel over its fresh bombing of Gaza.
Thousands marched from Tahrir Square to the Israeli embassy on April 8. Ahram Online said: “The demonstration was joined by hundreds along the way, culminating in front of the Israeli embassy with protesters waving Palestinian and Egyptian flags, chanting slogans in solidarity with Palestine.
“It is the first time Egyptians have been able to demonstrate so close to the embassy. Before the 25 January Revolution it was effectively off-limits.”
The article said: “Demonstrators demanded that the Israeli flag be removed from on top of the building and raised a Palestinian flag atop an adjacent mosque.”
Protesters demanded the suspension of diplomatic relations with Israel and the halting of gas exports. Protesters chanted: “Egypt, Palestine, one revolution!”
Sunday, April 17, 2011
By Tim Dobson
(Democracy Now!) The body of 36-year-old Italian peace activist Vittorio Arrigoni was found in Gaza shortly after his captors posted video of him blindfolded and bloodied. They had vowed to execute him unless their group’s leader was freed from custody by Gaza’s Hamas-led government. Arrigoni was a member of the International Solidarity Movement, a Palestinian-led movement that uses nonviolent and direct action methods to oppose the Israeli occupation. He had lived in Gaza since 2008 after arriving on a boat carrying humanitarian aid. We speak to Huwaida Arraf, a friend of Vittorio’s and co-founder of the International Solidarity Movement.
(Reuters) – Japan plans to set up a government-backed insurance fund to put money into Tokyo Electric Power and pay compensation stemming from the disaster at its Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, the Nikkei newspaper said.
Aimed at saving Tokyo Electric from collapse, the plan would have the state initially shoulder the massive compensation costs, which the power company would then repay over several years via special dividends, the paper said.
Asia’s largest utility, also known as TEPCO, has yet to determine how much it will have to pay residents and business near the Fukushima plant, who were forced to evacuate after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami caused deadly radiation leaks.
“The bottom line is, TEPCO is too big to fail,” said Jason Rogers, a credit analyst at Barclays Capital in Singapore.
“But that is not to say they won’t be held accountable. It’s impossible to quantify the financial impact at this point, but this disaster is likely to drag on for some time.”
TEPCO, which supplies roughly a third of electricity in the world’s third-largest economy, had $91 billion of debt on its books before the March crisis, and has since taken on a $24 billion bank loan.
JP Morgan has estimated TEPCO could face 2 trillion yen ($24 billion) in compensation losses in the financial year that started this month, while Bank of America-Merrill Lynch has said the bill could reach $130 billion if the crisis continues.
TEPCO will make an initial compensation payment of 50 billion yen, President Masataka Shimizu told a news conference Friday, adding he did not know how much the final bill would be.
Facing sometimes hostile questions from reporters, Shimizu said the power company would be aggressive in cutting costs.
“We want to streamline operations with no exceptions in what we consider,” he said during the conference, where he apologized and bowed.
“We are obviously thinking about pay cuts for our board and managers.”
Japanese media later reported TEPCO will sell $1.2 billion worth of real estate to help pay victims. TEPCO said it was not discussing property sales for now but needed to consider it.
GOVT TO GUARANTEE LOANS
Payments could be set at about 1 million yen per household, with all of those living within a 30 km radius of the plant eligible, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano told a separate news conference Friday.
More than 200,000 people were living in the 30 km Fukushima exclusion zone before the disaster. TEPCO estimates about 50,000 households are eligible for the initial payments.
Sunday, Apr 17, 2011
(antiwar.com) “We are there to protect civilians and civilian-populated areas” – William Hague
“I was watching ABC News last night and, lo and behold, there was a DU impact. It burned and burned and burned.”
– Doug Rokke, ex-director of the Pentagon’s Depleted Uranium Project commenting on Libya attack.
“Depleted uranium tipped missiles fit the description of a dirty bomb in every way… I would say that it is the perfect weapon for killing lots of people.”
– Marion Falk, chemical physicist (retd), Lawrence Livermore Lab, California, USA
To date depleted uranium’s deathly dust has traveled its horrible route from Iraq (The first Gulf War in 1990/91) to the Balkans (with the NATO attack on Serbia in 1999) to Afghanistan (2001-) and back to Iraq (2003-) Now we have the attack on Libya and I raise the question as to whether DU is being used once again in this latest “war”; whether this “nuclear waste with wings” continues its journey bringing with it short- and long-term death. Read More
(greenleft.org.au) Below is an abridged version of a speech by NSW Greens MLC David Shoebridge in Sydney on April 10. The action was part of an international weekend of solidarity calling for an end to the persecution of alleged WikiLeaks whistleblower Bradley Manning.
First, I’d like to acknowledge that this is Aboriginal land that we are standing on. It always has been, always will be Aboriginal land. And in fact sovereignty has never been ceded over this land that we are standing on here today.
Why is this 23-year-old US private the focus of an organisation as powerful as the United States government? Why has the US government, with all of its warships, its air force, its massive resources, its police, the CIA, the FBI, why has it focused on this one man?
It is because they are frightened of him. It is because they are afraid of him. They are afraid of what he stands for, which is a new openness in information on planet earth. Because that is what Bradley Manning stands for: open information on Earth.
In fact, when you look at what the Obama administration has been doing in its relatively short term in office you realise that the US government and governments associated with it are deeply frightened of this openness and this sharing of information that we are seeing now as the internet matures and becomes an understood tool for organisation.
In the 40 years before President Obama took office, there were only three high-profile prosecutions in the US for leaking of state information. One of those was the Pentagon Papers.
Since the Obama administration has taken office, there have already been six in that short period of time.
The most high-profile is the prosecution of Bradley Manning. What are they frightened of with Bradley Manning? Well the allegations against Bradley Manning are that he gave the information to WikiLeaks. Of course, Bradley hasn’t admitted to that, and nor would you if you were facing something as “friendly” as the US government, and possible capital punishment.
What is he alleged to have done? First of all, the “Collateral Murder” video, that many of us have seen and millions of people around the world have seen, actually put a face to war.
It put a face to the US war machine. It made what was happening in Iraq real for many of us, because you saw through the lens of a camera; you saw what those engaged in war do. They callously kill people. They very often callously kill the wrong people, like journalists, like civilians, like children.
That is what Bradley Manning is alleged to have shown the world: the actual true face of war.
This delegitmises war. Because the more we know about it, the more we see it in action, the more we say “Not in our name”. That is what Bradley Manning has given us the capacity to say as a society: “You are not doing this war in our name.”
Just last month the editor of the Guardian, which was one of the newspapers that published much of the WikiLeaks information, said that, in his opinion, the information that was released through WikiLeaks in the Guardian, the New York Times, and then around the world on the internet, delegitimised US support for a number of corrupt regimes in the Middle East.
It actually made it impossible for the US to stand up with those dictators and say “We’ll stand by you”.
That is the power of information. That is the power of WikiLeaks — it delegitimises those corrupt organisations.
One of the remarkable things we have seen in the last few months is that the US administration and the US army did not come in and stand behind those corrupt regimes in the Middle East, and that was in many ways the real underpinning of the so-called Jasmine revolution.
Previously, the US could, in a relatively open way, stand behind those corrupt regimes and say “We are for market-based structures and stability in the Middle East.”
They could no longer do that, because now the information was out that the US government knew these regimes were corrupt, knew they serially violated the human rights of individuals, they knew that even the US diplomats didn’t support them.
So when the people in the Middle East challenged those regimes, there was no longer a legitimate way for the US military to come in and stand behind and support them.
And we have seen a flowering of liberalism and a flowering of democracy in the Middle East because of WikiLeaks and the likes of people like Bradley Manning. So all strength to them.
So when you see the biggest organisation on the planet, the US government, mercilessly attack a 23-year-old private, you must realise that man had something pretty special about him.
His project and the project of WikiLeaks, the openness of information, is a special and new development in international relations. The US government wants to stop it. The Australian government, the establishment here, does not want open access to information because they know that open access to information directly challenges existing power relationships.
We want the information, we want access to all of that secret government information because we want to be able to stand up and say “You are not doing that in our name”.
So all strength to you for coming here today and we will need to continue this fight, because this ongoing persecution of Bradley Manning is going to be months and years in the making. And when we stand up for him, when we stand up for his basic rights, we are standing up for the rights of all people to have open information.
Sunday, April 17, 2011
(www.johnpilger.com) The Euro-American attack on Libya has nothing to do with protecting anyone; only the terminally naive believe such nonsense. It is the West’s response to popular uprisings in strategic, resource-rich regions of the world and the beginning of a war of attrition against the new imperial rival, China.
President Barack Obama’s historical distinction is now guaranteed. He is America’s first black president to invade Africa. His assault on Libya is run by the US Africa Command, which was set up in 2007 to secure the continent’s lucrative natural resources from Africa’s impoverished people and the rapidly spreading commercial influence of China. Libya, along with Angola and Nigeria, is China’s principal source of oil. As American, British and French planes currently incinerate both “bad” and “good” Libyans, the evacuation of 30,000 Chinese workers is under way, perhaps permanently. Statements by western officials and media that a “deranged and criminal Colonel Gaddafi” is planning “genocide” against his own people still await evidence. This is reminiscent of fraudulent claims that required “humanitarian intervention” in Kosovo, the final dismemberment of Yugoslavia and the establishment of the biggest US military base in Europe.
The detail is also familiar. The Libyan “pro-democracy rebels” are reportedly commanded by Colonel Khalifa Haftar who, according to a study by the US Jamestown Foundation, set up the Libyan National Army in 1988 “with strong backing from the Central Intelligence Agency”. For the past 20 years, Colonel Haftar has been living not far from Langley, Virginia, home of the CIA, which also provides him with a training camp. The Mujihadeen, which produced al-Qaida, and the Iraqi National Congress, which scripted the Bush/Blair lies about Iraq, were sponsored in the same time-honoured way, in leafy Langley.
Libya’s other “rebel” leaders include Mustafa Abdul Jalil, Gaddafi’s justice minister until February, and General Abdel-Fattah Younes, who ran Gaddafi’s interior ministry: both with formidable reputations for savagely putting down dissent. There is a civil and tribal war in Libya, which includes popular outrage against Gaddafi’s human rights record. However, it is Libya’s independence, not the nature of its regime, that is intolerable to the west in a region of vassals; and this hostility has barely changed in the 42 years since Gaddafi overthrew the feudal king Idris, one the more odious tyrants backed by the west. With his Bedouin hyperbole and bizarre ways, Gaddafi has long made an ideal “mad dog” (Daily Mirror), now requiring heroic US, French and British pilots to bomb urban areas in Tripoli, including a maternity hospital and a cardiac centre. The last US bombing in 1986 managed to kill his adopted daughter.
What the US, British and French hope to achieve is the opposite of a people’s liberation. In undermining efforts Libya’s genuine democrats and nationalists to free their country from both a dictator and those corrupted by foreign demands, the sound and fury from Washington, London and Paris has succeeded in dimming the memory of January’s days of hope in Tunis and Cairo and distracted many, who had taken heart, from the task of ensuring that their gains are not stolen quietly. On 23 March, the US-backed Egyptian military issued a decree barring all strikes and protests. This was barely reported in the west. With Gaddafi now the accredited demon, Israel, the real canker, can continue its wholesale land theft and expulsions. Facebook has come under Zionist pressure to remove a page calling for a full scale Palestinian uprising – a “Third Intifada” – on 15 May.
None of this should surprise. History suggests nothing less than the kind of machination revealed by two senior diplomats at the United Nations, who spoke to the Asia Times. Demanding to know why the UN never ordered a fact-finding mission to Libya instead of an attack, they were told that a deal had been done between the White House and Saudi Arabia. A US “coalition” would “take out” the recalcitrant Gaddafi if the Saudis put down the popular uprising in Bahrain. The latter has been accomplished, and the bloodied King of Bahrain will be a guest at the Royal Wedding in London.
The embodiment of this reaction is David Cameron, whose only real job has been as PR man to the television industry’s asset stripper, Michael Green. Cameron was in the Gulf selling arms to the British-invented tyrannies when people rose up against Yemen’s Abdullah Saleh; on 18 March, Saleh’s regime murdered 52 demonstrators. Cameron said nothing of value. Yemen is “one of ours”, as the British Foreign Office likes to say. In February, Cameron revealed himself in an attack on what he called “state multi-culturalism” – the code for Muslims. He said, “We need a lot less of the past tolerance of recent years.” He was applauded by Marine Le Pen, leader of France’s fascist National Front. “It is exactly this kind of statement that has barred us from public life for 30 years,” she told the Financial Times. “I can only congratulate him.”
At its most rapacious, the British empire produced David Camerons in job lots. Unlike many of the Victorian “civilisers”, today’s sedentary Westminster warriors – throw in William Hague, Liam Fox and the treacherous Nick Clegg – have never been touched by the suffering and bloodshed which, at remove in culture and distance, are the consequences of their utterances and actions. With their faintly trivial, always contemptuous air, they are cowards abroad, as they are at home. War and racism and the destruction of Britain’s hard-won social democracy are their gift. Remember that when you next take to the streets in your hundreds of thousands, as you must.
6 April 2011
by John Pilger