Monday, December 28, 2009
"In the face of global economic crisis, migrants have no other choice but to organize Migrante Canada, December 18, 2009"
Parts 2-7 available on Youtube
Statement by Migrante Canada
On the Occasion of International Migrants Day - December 18, 2009
Migrante organizations in Canada join migrants around the world in celebrating International Migrants’ Day and renewing our commitment to struggle for the rights and welfare of all migrants. As the Canadian state grapples with its own economic and political crises, migrants along with the Canadian working people persevere in their resistance to attacks on their rights.
Canada is one of the major destinations of Filipino migrants. It is also one of the countries with the worst track record in terms of labour and immigration policies. Labour and immigration rights especially those of migrants have been eroded and continue to be eroded. This year alone was marked by a series of US-style immigration raids, deportation of the undocumented and the sick, curtailment of migrants’ rights to organize through their anti migrant labour policies. Canada continues to do this while expanding its Temporary Foreign Workers Program, one that is designed to import cheap foreign labour without protection and without access to permanent residency.
The Philippine government, on the other hand, claims with pride that deployment of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in 2008 increased by 14% from the previous year – what with the incessant and vigorous marketing efforts of its personnel abroad. It has also been very active in forging bilateral labour agreements to ensure the smooth outflow and bigger deployment of Filipino migrants. The Arroyo regime sent over a million workers abroad in the past year. Rather than addressing the root causes of poverty at home, this ruling clique like its predecessors would rather export Filipinos abroad.
Sending and receiving countries will continue to peddle “free market” globalization and force those conditions on the sending countries that will push workers to migrate, submit to even lower wages and acquiesce to even the most oppressive conditions. Gatherings backed by the World Trade Organization (WTO) such as the Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) will continue to become a tool of imperialist globalization to rationalize the systematic commodification of migrants.
There is no better response to such attacks on migrants’ rights and welfare than organized action. Filipino migrants in Canada recently scored victories but only after a persistent and still continuing campaign to win changes to the Live-In Caregiver Program. On Saturday, December 12, 2009, the Canadian Government announced that it would adopt the Juana Tejada Law, calling for the elimination of the required medical examination for live-in caregivers applying for permanent residence.
Still Migrante Canada as one of the organizations at the helm of this struggle must continue to strengthen and expand its ranks. With organizations in BC, Alberta, Winnipeg, Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal, it must persist in building a strong countrywide alliance, unite with migrants of other nationalities and engage in solidarity with the Canadian working people if it is to carry such initial hard-won gains forward. Only through the strengthening of the grassroots migrants’ movement will the struggle for the rights and well being of migrant workers advance.
Marco Luciano - 647.205.5908 email@example.com migrante.ca
Monday, December 21, 2009
Monday, December 14, 2009
Click here to listen to December 14 RADIO BASICS for a special feature on Imam Luqman Ameen Abdullah, and hear what Detroit community leaders are saying about his assassination.
On October 28, 2009, the 53-year-old Luqman Ameen Abdullah, the Imam of the Masjid Al-Haqq in Detroit, was shot 18-times by the American Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and left for dead.
The FBI launched its attack on Imam Luqman after it had built up a formal criminal complaint against him using the statements provided by paid infiltrators of the mosque – who were themselves known criminals. But these documents contained neither charges of terrorism nor violations of federal law.
What the official 42-page indictment document did indicate, however, was that one FBI sources had tried to enlist Abdullah in a plan to attack the 2006 Superbowl in Detroit. Abdullah rejected the proposal by what he thought was a fellow member of the mosque (really an FBI agent) saying that he would play no part in hurting innocent people.
The charges listed in the criminal complaint were all constitutional rights of American citizens. Imam Abdullah was charged with possessing guns (which half of Americans own) and with preaching separatism (which is not only a matter of his freedom of speech, but has been a political position held by countless popular black, indigenous, Chicano, and Puerto Rican individuals and organizations in the face of systemic racism, barbarism, and exploitation in the U.S.).
According to the indictment document, built up from statements provided by the FBI infiltrators, Imam Abdullah had told his followers that if the police ever tried to take his weapon – again, a constitutional right – or tried to apprehend him, he would resist. With that information in hand, the FBI had the information they needed to construct a scenario where they Abdullah could be killed.
The FBI set up a warehouse of stolen goods, lured Imam Abdullah in through one of the infiltrators, and orchestrated a scenario were Abdullah would not come out alive. All that has been told to the public at this time is that Abdullah shot an FBI dog (which, if this is true, was most likely in self-defense after the animal attacked him. In response, we are told, Abdullah was shot 18 times and left to die while the dog was flown away by medical helicopter. Another telling detail is that Abdullah was handcuffed at some point throughout the affair – either before being shot 18 times, or after.
Representatives of the U.S. Attorney General’s office have confirmed that Imam Abdullah never fired on the federal agents.
As the National Lawyers Guild wrote on Novemebr 2: “By publicizing the killing and arrests as related to terrorism, absent any such allegations in the complaint, the FBI seems to be engaging in the same tactics used in its Counter Intelligence Program (COINTELPRO) [widely used in the 1960s and ‘70s] in which it spied on, infiltrated and disrupted political movements. Imam Abdullah had a close relationship with Imam Jamil Abdullah al-Amin, formerly known as H. Rap Brown, was a field organizer for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and later served as national chairman of the Black Panther Party (BPP).”
Director of the Masjid Al-Islam in Washington, D.C. told Press TV: “What the government is doing by assassinating Imam Luqman is trying to intimidate the Muslim community, especially the black community. And I say that because the immigrant community, which is about half of the Muslims in the United States and the African American Muslim community, which form the other half, have different views about Islam in America and how it should be fostered.”
“The immigrant community has been frightened since the 9/11 terrorist attack and they practice the kind of American-style Islam. Now, the killing of Imam Luqman is to intimidate us [African Americans]. But our message is different. We will not be intimidated by the United States government or by the FBI.”
Indeed, communities have not been intimidated by assassination, evidenced by the more than 1000 people in attendance at the Imam’s funeral on October 31, 2009, and the multiple demonstrations and events that have since been held.
and family members at the funeral for his father on October 31, 2009.
to protest the assassination of Imam Luqman Ameen Abdullah of the Masjid Al-Haqq.
Abayomi Azikiwe, Editor of the Pan-African News Wire, as well as the Detroit-based MECAWI (Michigan Emergency Committee Against War & Injustice), are calling for a truly indepdenent people’s commission on inquiry that would issue a report and demand sanctions and criminal charges against those involved in the shooting and in ordering the operation.
The only crime that Imam Luqman Ameen Abdullah has committed in the eyes of the U.S. government is in being a strong and inspiring community leader and organizer, like countless black leaders and vocal opponents of the U.S. government have been gunned down by the U.S. government for precisely the same reason.
Currently, at least thirteen other individuals have been arrested and charged because of their association with Imam Luqman Ameen Abdullah and his mosque, including his son Mujahid Carswell, ten other members of the Masjid AL-Haqq, and two Canadians from Windsor. Although the mainstream media has painted their arrests and charges with the same “counter-terrorism” brush used to legitimize Imam Abdullah’s assassination, no terrorism-related have been laid on any of the other individuals.
More resources on the case available on the Pan-African News Wire.
"MU TODAY, YOU TOMORROW": Artists Rally to the Defense of Mujahid Carswell, the son of FBI-Assassinated Imam
Mujahid Carswell (right) and brother Jamil, sons of the assassinated Imam Luqman Ameen Abdullah, rapping at ‘Mu Today, You Tomorrow’ Benefit Concert.
On December 10, 2009, the downtown Detroit venue The Shelter hosted the ‘Mu Today, You Tomorrow’ Benefit Concert to raise funds for the legal defense of Mujahid Carswell – the son of the FBI-assassinated Imam Luqman Ameen Abdullah (see BASICS coverage on this issue).
Over 25 artists and speakers rocked the mic that night, including Professor Griff of Public Enemy – the legendary Long Island hip-hop group founded in 1982. Undoubtedly one of the most influential hip-hop groups of all time, in 2004 Rolling Stone magazine ranked Public Enemy as 44 out of the 100 “Immortals: The Greatest Artists of All Time.”
The crowd was also graced with revolutionary poetry of living legend Umar Bin Hassan – a founding member of The Last Poets, the group of poets and musicians founded in 1968 whose rhythms and raps have been credited with laying the foundation for the emergence of hip-hop.
Detroit rappers Invincible and Finale also threw down, along with a spoken intervention by Minister Malik Shabazz of the New Black Panther Party. An incredible performance and some words were also provided by the assassinated Iman’s sons Mujahid Carswell and his brother Jamil. ‘Mu’ showed the crowd the ankle bracelet he was forced to wear since his release and had to leave the show early to make his curfew.
The large crowd and jam-packed bill of performers and speakers demonstrated that the people of Detroit haven’t being duped by the “counter-terrorism” lies propagated by the FBI and the monopoly media, which have served to justify the assassination of a community leader and the legal targeting of twelve other individuals associated with his mosque, including Mu Carswell, ten other members of the Masjid Al-Haqq in Detroit, and two Canadians from Windsor. Speakers and artists made no mistake in identifying the killing of Imam Luqman Ameen Abdullah as targeted assassination by the FBI, another black leader killed in the long list of state-sponsored assassinations conducted under the auspices of the FBI’s Counter-Intelligence Program (COINTELPRO).
Community organizations in Detroit are now fighting for a genuinely independent People’s Commission of Inquiry to bring to light details of the assassination.
On December 6, Toronto police in the downtown entertainment district assaulted Toronto-area hip-hop artist and youth worker, Verse.
The incident began when police decided to intervene in a discussion between the MC and a taxi driver. Verse was struck at least once, before being thrown to the ground and repeatedly punched. Verse sustained injuries that included bruising and swelling on his face and head, after which he was arrested and taken to 52 Division. He was detained throughout the night, for more than 8 hours and was eventually released with no charges.
Incidents such as this one are far too common in our city, as at least 6 Toronto Police have been charged with assault this year. This past October two Toronto Police Constables, Edward Ing and John Cruz were charged with the assault causing bodily harm after Richard Moore, a 58-year-old man was hospitalized. Const. Allan Racette was charged with assault, while Const. Boris Petkovic was charged with aggravated assault and for discharging his weapon. Const. Ricardo Gomez was also charged with assault, as was Const. Jason Goss who is alleged to have assaulted a man during an arrest in the Lansdowne and Bloor area. But for every case of an officer being charged with assault, there are countless cases where the police get away with their crimes. Frequently enough, the victims are themselves charged “assaulting a police officer” or “resisting arrest” after getting a beat down by the boys in blue.
This past October 2009, The Office of the Independent Police Review Director (OIPRD) was opened. On their website they describe their office as an “arms-length” agency of the Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General whose goal is to provide an objective office to deal with “public complaints against Ontario’s police”. Folks can make complaints against the police online on their website: www.oiprd.on.ca. According to critics, this new agency does little to protect the interests of the people making a complaint, and only forwards the concerns to the police agency in question. Until we have genuine civilian oversight of the police and community control over police policy, there will be little we can do defend against the day-to-day police abuse in our city.
Wednesday, December 09, 2009
More than just a newspaper, BASICS is an organizing tool for the multiple struggles unfolding in our society -
the struggles for decent housing, for a livable wage, to bring police brutality to a halt, and more.
Saturday, December 19: 9pm-3am
some of TO's finest in revolutionary underground hip-hop:
Ali the Son of Abdul
all of whom you can find at
Friday, December 04, 2009
Wednesday, December 02, 2009
VIDEO LINK: BASICS, J4A, NO COPS - A Public Forum on Oppression, Popular Education, and Community Organization
Monday, November 30, 2009
A Public Statement by NO COPS (Neighbourhood Organizing Coalition Against Police in Schools)
Toronto Police Services’ own report on the School Resource Officer program shows that the program has had no positive impact toward any of its claimed goals.
Toronto – November 25, 2009: The Neighbourhood Organized Coalition Opposed to Police in Schools (NOCOPS) questions whether the Toronto Police Services (TPS) misinterpreted or misrepresented the data from the 2008/2009 School Resource Officer (SRO)Program Evaluation Report. NOCOPS is a coalition of concerned parents, students, teachers and community members who have been monitoring the SRO program since its implementation in September, 2007
“If this report had been written by a student, it would definitely not pass as it draws conclusions contrary to its own data” said NOCOPS member and teacher James Campbell.
The Evaluation Report was released to the public on November 18, 2009 with claims that the data suggests the SRO program has been “beneficial to crime prevention, crime reporting and relationship building in schools and surrounding neighbourhoods.”
Yet an unbiased review of the data reveals that the report has had zero impact on student perception of safety and zero impact on student willingness to report crimes.
To quote from the report itself, “overall student perception of safety in their school and in the neighbourhood surrounding the school did not improve”. In fact, there was no increase in feelings that the SRO made the school safer even for students who had talked to the SRO informally or about a problem they were having. Perhaps of greatest concern is that the report confirms that many students feel less safe with SROs in the schools, as those students “who thought [the program] was a bad idea were more likely to say they did not feel safe (18%)”.
The data also shows that overall the presence of an SRO did not change students’ willingness to report being a victim or a witness to a crime.
The report also provides no credible data that the SRO program made any impact on reducing crime in or around school grounds. For this part of the report the TPS compared total number of offences and victimization from the 2007-2008 school year and the 2008-2009 school year – both on school grounds and within 200 meters of school grounds over all times of the day and concluded that “offences and victimization generally decreased in 2008/2009 compared to the previous school year”.
However, there were serious reliability problems with different aspects of how this crime data was analyzed. The study did not use any control (that is, collecting and comparing similar crime data from schools that did not have an SRO) or factor in overall reduction in crime statistics in the 2008/2009 school year compared to the 2007/2008 school year.
In addition, some of the data for this portion of the study was too small to have any statistical relevance. For example, data for incidence of victimization on school grounds during school hours compared only 2 incidents in 2007/2008 to zero incidents in 2008/2009 in a single school, generating an impressive (but statistically meaningless) 100% decrease in victimization.
Further, when comparing crime in SRO schools at the beginning of the program and at the end of the program, the report says that “When the geographical area for reported victimizations was expanded to 200 meters around the school, however, there were fewer victims over all hours and outside of school hours, but there were more victims during school hours.”[Emphasis added] The data suggests that the presence of SROs inside these schools has only served to displace victimization incidents off of school property.
NOCOPS community member Alok Premjee emphasized that “The survey methodology for the evaluation is seriously suspect and would not come close to meeting the basic requirements of any government funded program analysis, let alone be considered adequate justification for a program that costs over 5 million dollars per year to run. Among other things, there was no opportunity for students to respond if they had been negatively impacted by the SRO. The troubling arrest of a student at Northern Secondary is only one highly publicized event among numerous incidences we have documented where students have felt violated or targeted by the SRO at their school”.
The TPS misrepresentation of the results from this study is no surprise since the TPS not only initiated the program, but also developed the surveys, analyzed the data and wrote the report. There has been no independent evaluation with absolutely zero independent input anywhere. Even the most highly touted piece of data (suggesting an 11% increase in the proportion of students who felt the relationship between police and students was good or excellent) is inconsequential since the proportion of students who felt the relationship was poor or fair showed no significant change. Essentially, students who already felt comfortable with the police and liked the program and students who did not feel comfortable with the police and felt the SRO program was a bad idea felt exactly the same way a year later.
As stated by NOCOPS member and parent Niraj Joshi “it is particularly troubling that the TPS is using the study to recommend additional investment of precious funds and institutional resources in this failed program. We should not be wasting taxpayer money on the universally unproven and yet costly experiment of the SRO program. Instead, the TDSB and the province must allocate these provincial funds toward immediately implementing the recommendations put forward from two independent community consultations (the Falconer Report on School Safety and the Curling-McMurtry Report on the Roots of Youth Violence) for both engaging youth and making our schools safer”.
For More Information Contact:
This week, their spokesperson, Patrick Mac Manus, is being taken to trial on terrorist charges because of Rebellion's support to liberation movements in Palestine and Colombia. Radio Basics interviewed Mac Manus on November 29, 2009.
Patrick Mac Manus
1. City courts, district courts or the Supreme Court cannot decide the right to rebellion.
This is also a principle viewpoint in the trial against Rebellion (Denmark) on December 3 and 7, January 8 and 15, 2010 in Copenhagen. Judgement will fall on February 8. Rebellion (Denmark) is accused of the transferral of financial support to Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).
2. History has been driven by peoples’ resistance and change throughout the centuries on all our continents. All change has been created through conflict, from the times of slavery to our own days.
3. The American Declaration of Independence was written by insurgents against British colonial power in 1776, a declaration of “unalienable rights”—among these the rights “to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness”. And the right to resistance against every regime that violates these rights: “whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these Ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it…”
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted after World War 11, accentuates: ”Whereas it is essential, if man is not to be compelled to have recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression, that human rights should be protected by the rule of law.”
These are declarations created through a hard-won history, which Rebellion (Denmark) determinedly will defend.
4. This is a history that continues. The anti-colonialism armed struggles of the 1960s and 70s created the desire to recognise liberation movements’ rights to fight for independence.
The supplemental protocol of the Geneva Convention, in 1977, legalizes “armed conflicts” when people are “fighting against colonial domination and alien occupation and against racist regimes in the exercise of their right of self-determination”.
5. The Geneva Convention’s humanitarian International Law regulates conduct when armed struggle occurs — not ‘terrorist legislation’.
In Palestine, resistance against Israeli occupation is conditioned by the 1977 Geneva Convention supplement. Organized resistance groups, such as the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), can lawfully conduct armed struggle against an occupying force.
In Colombia, an internal armed conflict continues between the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the Colombian government. This is also subject to the Geneva Convention, especially due to FARC’s maintenance of significant geographical control in Colombia.
International Law also contains a prohibition against terrorism but defines this more narrowly than ‘terrorist legislation’. The humanitarian International Law considers not each and every civilian death a terrorist action. Civilian losses are considered as an often unavoidable result in connection with attacks upon legal military objectives.
6. This reality is disputed by ‘terrorist legislation’, a law passed by the Danish parliament in June 2002 amidst the “panic” arising from the attack upon New York’s twin towers.
Democratic rights are increasingly viewed as hindrances to combat ‘terrorism’. Legitimate resistance forms are stamped as terrorist. In the name of the “global war against terror”, oppressive states seek to attire themselves with new international legitimacy. In many countries, state terrorism is the most pressing and fatal threat against the population’s life and welfare.
’Terrorist legislation’ makes it punishable to support domestic or foreign organisations, either materially or by other means, if they are stamped as “terrorist”. Classification of organisations as ‘terrorist’ is characterised by arbitrariness, especially through the secret and uncritical cooperation between intelligence and counter-intelligence services.
Rebellion (Denmark) challenges the political paradigm, upon which the so-called ‘global war against terror’ is founded. It ostracises social and political movements from international political dialogue, a dialogue that is a premise for a political solution to those conflicts, which movements are a part of.
7. A repeal of terror legislation will result in returning to history’s reality. Peoples’ rebellion is an historic fact and in certain circumstances a necessity, a necessity that occurs when all other action forms are suppressed and inaccessible. Public support to such movements is denied in current legislation perspective and affected by prosecution.
8. The essentiality of resistance is not limited to the “distant world”. It applies to Europe, to the European Union. Climate change is increasingly decisive to history and conflict. The wave of refugees and forced immigration is rising day by day.
The creation of a “European fortress” rises as a reaction against change. A neo-fascistic dimension marches forth in many countries. In fascism’s time reaction was too divided and too late.
9. Civil disobedience is an increasing necessity. Through it the world will also create new attempts to define human life and its future, including ‘nature’s rights’: an acknowledgement of humans’ necessary dependence and responsibility here on earth.
Translated from the Danish by Ron Ridenour. Publisher: Antifacistisk Forum - Kulturpolitisk Tidsskrift. Oktober Kvartal 2009, nr. 5.
Rebellion (Denmark) : www.opror.net
Friday, November 27, 2009
Rebellion (Denmark): The Court Case is Approaching!
The court case against Rebellion (Denmark) for support to resistance movements is now approaching. The demand is imprisonment. The court case takes place at Copenhagen City 6. Court, December 3 and December 7, 2009 and January 8, January 15, 2010. The judgement will be announced on February 8, 2010.
The aim of Rebellion (Denmark), formed in 2004, is to challenge ‘terrorist legislation’, both in Denmark and internationally.
Terrorist legislation seeks to undermine progressive organisations, resistance movements, trade unions and solidarity movements throughout the world.
We appeal for support from all movements to:
- Defend the right of peoples to resist illegitimate government and foreign occupation!
- Defend the right of peoples to take up arms against oppression where all other means have been exhausted!
Rebellion (Denmark) is accused of the transferral of substantial funds to Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC) as a challenge to terrorist legislation.
The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) has for decades been a leader of the struggle of the Palestinian people, engaged in legitimate conflict with occupation forces. We support the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) in its struggle for a secular and democratic state for all. It can in no way be defined as a ‘terrorist organisation’.
FARC (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia) has for decades worked and fought for the democratic rights and the equality of the people. The present regime has with US support and in alliance with ‘death squads’, controlled by landowners and drug cartels, continues to persecute the leaders and members of trade unions, political activists, students and peasant organisations of Colombia. Several Latin American nations have negotiated peace by legalising insurgency groups, allowing them to participate in an open political process. The criminalization of FARC is preventing a political solution in Columbia.
In Denmark, there is an increasing challenge to ‘terrorist legislation’, a growing defiance that Rebellion (Denmark) has striven to create and is itself a part of.
Close to us, the organisation Fighters + Lovers has challenged ‘terrorist’ legislation by selling T-shirts in support of FARC and PFLP. On September 18, 2008 the High Court overturned the non-guilty verdict of the Copenhagen City Court, sentencing five members to between 60 days and six months imprisonment. In March 2009 the Supreme Court revised imprisonment to conditional sentences, also expressing some doubt on the legislation itself.
Palestine and Colombia are the focus we have chosen. From Turkey to Kurdistan, from the Basque Country to the Philippines, there are many others who also could have been chosen. An important criterion for our choice is that liberation forces advance secular, democratic, and humanist goals together with their people.
Through present terrorist legislation, states have attempted to curb the freedom of expression and the political rights of their citizens. The right to extend moral and material support to resistance and liberation movements throughout the world is threatened. The civil and labour rights of citizens to wage legitimate struggles for welfare and democratic reform are also increasingly being curbed.
Rebellion (Denmark) appeals to all movements for democracy and international solidarity to join us in challenging national and supranational terrorist legislation and the so-called ‘global war on terror’.
Demonstrations at Danish Embassies demanding the acquittal of Rebellion (Denmark) in the coming court case would be welcome, as would letters of protest directed to the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Ministry of Justice:
1216 Copenhagen K
Telefon: +45 / 72 26 84 00
Telefax +45 / 33 93 35 10
Ministry of Foreign Affairs:
Asiatisk Plads 2
DK-1448 Copenhagen K
Telefon: +45/ 33 92 00 00
Telefax: +45/ 32 54 05 33
Please send all information on activities – we need your support!
Rebellion (Denmark): firstname.lastname@example.org
Thursday, November 05, 2009
BASICS #16 (Nov/Dec 2009) by Steve da Silva
While the debate was playing out this past October in the American media about the planned “surge” of as many as 45,000 more American troops into Afghanistan, reports were surfacing that certain NATO members – namely, Canada, Italy, and Germany – were paying off Taleban elements in exchange for peace in the areas that they patrol.
For his part, Afghan President Hamid Karzai has said that he would reach out to the Taleban if they would agree to respect the Afghan constitution, which is double-speak for respect the occupation.
As the occupiers prepare for a massive escalation of the war, the attempts at reconciliation with certain Taleban elements once again demolishes the propagated myth that fighting the Taleban is the main object of the NATO occupation. The strategy of reaching out to so-called “moderates” is intended to isolate those elements dead-set fighting the occupation – a demand supported by a growing proportion of the Afghan population.
As the Commander of the Canadian Forces in Afghanistan, Lt. Col. Joe Paul recently said, “It’s not true that all of those people shooting at us are insurgents.” That might have something to do with the fact that not everyone NATO is shooting at are “insurgents.”
Over 1600 Afghan civilians were killed between January and August 2009 alone. On September 5, a joint American-German aerial bombing in the Kunduz province left 60-70 children and other civilians dead. In the middle of the night, many children and other civilians had rallied around two tankers stuck in the sand of a shallow river. They were filling their jerrycans with fuel when the two five-hundred pound bombs turned the trucks into twin fireballs, engulfing the civilians in an inferno.
Everyday, the occupation of Afghanistan reveals itself more and more to be a war of conquest. The widely-publicized electoral fraud in Afghanistan’s presidential elections is just one of its signs. On November 2, Karzai was declared the winner of the “election” after his only challenger Abdullah Abdullah – previous Minister of Foreign Affairs in the Karzai government - stepped down from participating in the run-off. Genuine democracy under occupation is impossible and the colonial Islamic Republic of Afghanistan has made that point very clear by putting back into power the man so widely hated by Afghans.
It was the Karzai government that put into effect for a period of time a law that legalized the rape of women within marriage. This law demonstrated to the world that the principle threat to women today stems from the foreign occupiers and the thoroughly reactionary class alliance they have cobbled together to run the colonial government in Afghanistan. The league of organized criminals, landlords, warlords, and theocrats who administer Afghanistan are not in contradiction with today’s occupation, but rely on it to stay in power in exchange for defending the occupation.
The goal of the U.S.-NATO occupation of Afghanistan is to capture geo-strategic control of the region by encircling its challengers to the east, Russia and China, and safeguarding the region for the future Trans-Afghanistan Pipeline that will transport natural gas from Turkmenistan through Afghanistan and into Pakistan and India. To the extent that the Taleban is a military concern of NATO is only the extent to which Taleban leaders fail to get in line with the occupation. The Taleban, or parts thereof, may soon come to accept the occupation, but the people of Afghanistan will not.
As the occupation intensifies its effort to crush any resistance in the coming months, with the planned “surge”, Afghan civilians will bear the greatest brunt of the violence.
If it seems like the lines between what is Taleban and what is insurgent is blurred, it is because the occupiers would have us believe that resistance to occupation is equal to extremism and religious fundamentalism, as if the aversion to foreign domination was not a fundamental human instinct. Just as the Ethiopians in the 1930s, the French in the 1940s, the Koreans in the 1950s, and the Vietnamese in the 1960s did not need Islam to teach them about the evils of foreign occupation, neither do the Afghans.
Canada has 2800 soldiers in Afghanistan and the Canadian Forces have played a leading role in combat operations, which accounts for Canada having the highest fatality rate of all the occupying forces. Over 25,000 Canadians have participated in at least one tour of occupation in Afghanistan since 2001. If the horrors of this war were not enough to repulse Canadians, then perhaps the economic argument needs to be underscored once again: The working-class, and even middle-class Canadians, have nothing to gain and much to lose from the war in Afghanistan.
On the other hand, Canada’s monopoly-capitalist ruling class has everything to gain: Access to cheap resources, desperate labour pools, military and construction contracts, geo-political world domination… These are the same monopolies that workers are fighting right here on Canadian soil. The fight for the freedom of Afghanistan is not independent of the fight for workers power in Canada.
by Solomon Muyoboke, Jessica Luke-Smith, Daniel Mayers and Farshad Azadian
On October 8th, 2009, Esplanade youth made a resounding statement to the indignity of police violence, harassment and racism in our community. Some 40 youth made their way to the Youth Forum organized by the Esplanade Community Organization to discuss their issues, experiences and concerns. The event was launched just weeks after the tragic murder of Esplanade youth Kamal Hercules, which left our community reeling with the pain of having lost another young brother.
This pattern of violence in our community illuminated a need for change and inspired the forum. The Esplanade Community Organization developed the forum with the aim of creating discussion among youth around the sources of violence in the community and the direction that an Esplanade youth organization might take in addressing violence – in all its forms.
Shocking to some, an overwhelming number of youth recounted their experiences of police brutality and harassment, many of whom were between the ages of 12-14. This reality affected all the participants at the forum and sparked discussions of how the community could move forward in order to address youth-on-youth violence.
A central component of the event was a brief legal presentation, to provide youth with the necessary knowledge required to defend themselves against unlawful police procedures and searches. However, as most people who have experienced police harassment and brutality can tell you, knowing your rights is not enough to prevent police abuses, but it is a useful first step in challenging such police power.
For this reason, coupled with a series of neighbourhood issues, a group of working class residents in the Esplanade community have come together to formulate a six point program which outlines the needs, desires and concerns of working class people in our community. These fighting demands, based upon formal and informal surveying of the community, include: a commitment to challenging police brutality; attaining access to affordable and well-maintained housing; preventing evictions that are due to economic reasons and to move forward to ensure the accessibility of childcare and recreation services. The Esplanade Community Organization feels very strongly about its program and is committed to fighting for these six points to create the necessary changes to improve the conditions in our community.
Over the last 20 years, communities such as our own have been reeling from the blows of big business and the politicians that represent them. The social safety net, access to good jobs and the possibility of decent housing at an affordable rate are things of the past. The situation is continuing to get worse, with the Provincial Liberal and Federal Conservative Governments expressing their intentions to download the huge deficit (largely due to bailouts and tax cuts to big business) onto the backs of working class people.
The reality is that as we fall deeper into this capitalist economic crisis, the kinds of individual solutions (getting a 2nd or 3rd job, sacrificing family or health) will no longer be adequate solutions to rising debt, poverty and bills. We need to realize that we are faced with a systemic problem that individual efforts cannot solve. Hence, to get ourselves out of the mess, there is an urgent need for us to start organizing ourselves, as working class people, on a collective basis.
The Esplanade Community Organization and its Youth Wing are committed to being that organization through which the Esplanade’s poor and working class residents can get involved and orient our movement, from buildings to workplaces across this community. All Power to the People!
Get involved in your community and email the esplanadegroup[at]gmail.com about your issues, whether they concern housing, repairs, rents, evictions or police violence.
by Salma Al-Nadhir and Alok Premjee
The Justice for Alwy campaign (J4A) was launched in early 2008, just months after Alwy Al-Nadhir was shot and killed by Toronto police on October 31, 2007. This past Halloween marked the second year since his death. Over the past two years, J4A has been raising awareness about the issue of police brutality and helping other victims start their own campaigns against police brutality. The story of Alwy and other cases of police brutality have been echoed over and over again by the campaign and the families of all the victims. One of the main aims of J4A is for our victimized and targeted communities to obtain justice and hold police accountable for their tyrannical actions. Under the current state of affairs, police get away with murder with impunity.
The coroner’s inquest for Alwy Al-Nadhir’s death is scheduled to begin in December 2009. Even though his death will be investigated again by independent investigators, any wrong doing that is found by the police will still not lead to them being held to account for their actions. The ruling and the final decision as to whether the police should be charged was made in June 2008 by the Special Investigations Unit, a “civilian” agency that is staffed by former police officers. The police were exonerated of any wrong-doing.
Police officers are rarely, in fact almost never, held accountable for their excessive force and brutalization. The corporate media, judicial system and investigation process are always labeling the victims of police brutality as criminals, when the real criminals – those who are supposed to be protecting us – continuously get away with murder. There are countless cases of police brutality in our city – just scan through the last two years of BASICS to compare all the cases. But the province does not have the internal mechanisms to address police brutality. Since 2003, the SIU has cleared police of wrongdoing in 31 of 31 fatal shooting cases.
When we look to other cases where an inquest into police murders of young individuals was conducted, such as the case of Jeffery Reodica (who was shot in the back by Toronto police), the coroner’s inquest was biased and supportive of the police officers, despite the substantial evidence that implicated the police in his murder. However, no officer was tried and charged for Reodica’s death. Or more recently, there is the case of Freddy Villanueva, who was an unarmed 18-year-old shot to death by Montreal police while playing a game of dice – an incident that sparked community uproar in Montreal North. Villanueva’s inquest is currently being held and mainstream media reports around the inquest are, not surprisingly, justifying the police’s actions while also criminalizing Freddy and those with him that day.
As the inquest into the death of Alwy Al-Nadhir takes place, it is expected that the officer responsible for murdering Alwy will still never be held accountable and will not be charged for killing an unarmed 18 year old that did not have a criminal record. Furthermore, it is likely that the coroner’s inquest will justify the murder of Alwy and the corporate media will happily report and distort the story in favour of the police. Yet the struggle continues until the victims get their justice and such crimes are put to an end.
BASICS #16 (Nov / Dec 2009)
by Noaman Ali
Two hundred students gathered on either side of Roehampton St. south of Northern Secondary School at 11:30am on Thursday, October 22 to protest the arrest of a 16-year-old male on October 2 and also to protest the very presence of the police officer in their school. The “School Resource Officer” (SRO) Initiative, started by the Toronto Police Service and the executive of the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) in 2008-09 and expanded in 2009-10, has led to the presence of uniformed and armed police officers in fifty high schools across Toronto. The demonstrators demanded the immediate removal of the SRO from Northern and a “fully-open, publicized public community consultation regarding the SRO Initiative at Northern.”
The SRO Initiative was implemented in response to issues of safety in schools, but it effectively ignores the recommendations made in actual inquiries into the problem. In January 2008, a report on safety in schools commissioned by the TDSB and led by human rights lawyer Julian Falconer made several recommendations, most specifically increasing the number of youth workers and programmes available for marginalized youth. Since the implementation of the SRO Initiative, Falconer has explicitly stated that police in schools is not the answer. Indeed, it does little to address the marginalization of youth that results from overall social and systemic neglect.
But instead of making the funding for proper programmes available, politicians have instead increased funding for the police even as crime rates drop. This has led to the adoption of the SRO Initiative, which doesn’t cost the TDSB a thing. Alok Premjee, an organizer with NOCOPS, the Neighbourhood Organized Coalition Opposed to Police in Schools, argued that putting police in schools is an “intensification of the police state.” Premjee remarked that it was a way for the government to increase its surveillance of the population at large and to keep them in check, rather than improving people’s lives.
Protesting students at Northern agree with Premjee, one of them holding up a sign stating, “This school is not a police state.” “This is very much a grassroots movement; students are outraged and our questions are not being answered,” said Max Naylor, a grade eleven student and one of the organizers of the protest. Safety concerns at the school have been dealt with by installing cameras and requiring all members of the school community to wear lanyards with identification cards, as well as by hiring hall monitors, thus calling into question the need for police officers. “The main issue is that students feel uncomfortable with an armed officer in the school. It makes us feel like the school belongs not to students but to the police,” he said.
BASICS #16 (Nov / Dec 2009)
On Sunday November 1st, 2009, 31 Division conducted a raid at 40 Turfgrass Way, Apartment 113 in a TCHC complex in the Jane and Finch area. That night, 18 year-old Brandon Miller, his 14 year-old sister, Shaquel Miller along with their mother, Dorolee Miller, were brutally assaulted and left feeling terrorized by this unjust search for guns in their home, in which nothing was found and no charges were laid.
Shortly after 1 a.m. in the morning, police broke down the door of the Millers while the family slept. Officers first handcuffed the mother, and she adamantly tried to stop them from beating her son in his room, but one of the cops shoved her into her dresser. Dorolee informed police of her various health conditions which they chose to ignore dragging her down the stairs in handcuffs and pointing a gun in her face. Soon thereafter they brought her 14 year-old daughter down in handcuffs.
While Dorolee and Shaquel were under the gun guarded by police in the living room, 18-year-old Brandon was being beaten upstairs in his room. One officer held Brandon down his boot on his neck. Brandon begged him to remove his boot from his head but the officer replied, “Stop whining”. The raid turned up no guns and no charges were laid. But their house was in shambles, and an innocent family was terrorized by this occupying force in the Jane/Finch community. In the words of Dorolee who was traumatized by this incident: “This shouldn’t happen to nobody at all. They come in my house and didn’t find anything. They didn’t even say sorry, just ‘Tonight’s your lucky night’.”
Morolee Miller and her son, 18-year-old Brandon Miller, were both the victims of a brutal raid on their home by Toronto Police of 31 Divsion which yielded nothing but terror and a ransacked home.
by Noaman Ali
Huda is a 22-year-old young mother with a disability who intends to study Sexual Diversity Studies, Creative Writing, Visual Arts and French at the University of Toronto. “It’s a lot, but I’m focused because of the support that TYP provides me.” In an educational system and society that repeatedly fails working people, the Transitional Year Programme (TYP) is one initiative that reaches out, usually to people who haven’t finished high school, and gives them support in an intensive one-year programme to transition to a more conventional university education.
Brandon, 23, grew up in Toronto Community Housing in Scarborough and was first arrested when he was 14. Caught up in “guns, drugs, and crime,” he made an attempt to turn his life around at 17. Now in TYP, he wants to be a teacher.
On Monday, October 19, administrators at U of T attempted to pass a proposal at a meeting of the Faculty of Arts and Science Council that would have weakened the program, according to students, alumni and faculty who have formed the TYP Preservation Alliance. Over fifty of them –almost all people of colour from working-class communities – showed up at the meeting to protest the move. The proposal sought to merge TYP, administratively, with Woodsworth College, but the Alliance argued that the merger was a cost-cutting measure that would result in staff cuts. In addition, Ahmed Ahmed, a recent TYP graduate, noted, “Three faculty members will have retired by the end of December, and they are not being replaced.”
Joe Desloges, Principal of Woodsworth College, effectively confirmed the fears of the TYP Preservation Alliance about funding cuts. The University “can’t guarantee staff positions. TYP faces identical challenges regardless of where it’s located,” he said. Ultimately, the Faculty of Arts and Science Council voted to delay the vote on the proposal after seeing the mobilization of the TYP Preservation Alliance and its solid arguments. “Programmes like TYP must be inflation- and recession-proof,” said professor and council-member Harry Fox. U of T Provost Cheryl Misak said in an e-mail sent the next day that because of the Alliance’s organized opposition, the move was “off the table.” In this sense, the TYP Preservation Alliance won a victory, but a partial one.
The Alliance will still have to fight further funding cutbacks. Meanwhile, other programmes at the university, particularly in area studies and equity studies, are also facing cuts. On October 29, over forty students and faculty gathered at New College at a town hall meeting held by the Equity Studies Students’ Union in order to organize against the cutting of a faculty member in Disability Studies. There is only one other faculty member at U of T who focuses on disability, even though people with disabilities make up over 15% of the Canadian population and are far more likely to live in poverty.
These cuts come after U of T’s administration recently introduced a “flat fees” system for the Faculty of Arts and Science. This means that students who might have taken three courses because they could not afford the full fee now have no option but to take five courses, and they cannot work part-time to fund their studies. This move came after U of T’s administration had fourteen students and activists arrested in 2008 for protesting increased tuition fees—the trumped-up charges were all eventually stayed or withdrawn.
There has been a broad pattern to restructure universities to more intensely cater to the needs of private corporations and wars instead of to the needs of public welfare and working people. Students are going to have to continue to organize in order to roll back cuts to programs that are already marginalized, to eliminate all fees for postsecondary education and to make university relevant and accessible to working people in Canada.
BASICS #16 (Nov / Dec 2009)
by J.D. Benjamin
Almost a year after the election of U.S. President Barack Obama, the rhetoric of “hope” and “change” has been dashed against the brutal realities of an escalating campaign of targeted assassinations using remote controlled “predator” drones. During the first ten months of his presidency, Obama authorized the Central Intelligence Agency to launch remote drone attacks on Pakistani territory more than 41 times: as many drone attacks as President Bush carried out during his last three years in office.
In a recent report to the United Nations Human Rights Committee, Philip Alston, the UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions, criticized the use of drone attacks, saying that “these drones, these predators, are being operated in a framework which may well violate international humanitarian law and international human rights law. The onus is really on the government of the United States to reveal more about the ways in which it makes sure that arbitrary executions, extrajudicial executions, are not in fact being carried out through the use of these weapons.”
The United States has ignored Alston’s concerns, claiming that the UN Human Rights Committee or General Assembly have no role regarding killings carried out in an armed conflict. Alston has retorted that the American position is “simply untenable”.
Estimates of the death toll resulting from drone attacks are over 700 people in northwest Pakistan alone. This includes not only suspected armed fighters, but also anyone who happens to be nearby, including women and children. In one June 2008 strike, the CIA killed more than 80 people and maimed dozens more in a funeral procession for people who had died in an earlier attack. Such attacks have stirred bitter hatred amongst the local population and pushed many to join the armed resistance against the NATO occupation.
by Derek Rosin
The Maoists of the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) began their rise to power and influence in 1996 by initiating a decade-long armed rebellion they called the “People’s War”. Starting off small, the Maoist movement was able to strengthen and grow by relying on and leading mostly-poor Nepali peasants to fight and overthrow the forces of government in the countryside, then represented by an absolute monarchy. In their place, they began constructing a new society by taking steps to end gender and caste oppression, introducing forms of popular democratic government, and providing for people’s basics needs like health care and education.
In November 2006, the UCPN(M) decided to end one phase of the revolution by signing a peace treaty with the country’s mainstream political parties – who for their own particular reasons could no longer tolerate the monarchist system.
As part of this agreement, an election was held for a Constituent Assembly to decide on the new structure of Nepalese government and society. In the April 2008 vote, Maoists emerged as the biggest and most influential party. This shocked nearly everyone except the Maoists themselves, who knew the huge support they had been building throughout Nepal. In May 2008, the monarchy was abolished. Shortly after that, Prachanda, leader of the UCPN(M), was elected Prime Minister.
The Maoists’ tactics of jumping from the armed to the unarmed movement, then from working in the government to building massive street movements may seem confusing at first, but it is consistent with their overall strategic approach. Since the inception of their movement, Maoist tactical considerations have been girded to two key stated beliefs: First, that the success of the social revolution they want to carry out will ultimately rest on the use of armed force; and second, that their revolution must, if it to be truly liberating, be carried out by the Nepalese people themselves.
As senior Maoist leader Baburam Bhattarai has said, “To break with the old mode of production and leap into a new one, you have to break all the relations within the state backed by the army.”
In May of this year Prachanda, before he stepped down as Prime Minister, tried to fire the head of the Nepalese Army, General Katawal, for refusing to consider the integration of the state’s armed forces with the Maoist-led People’s Liberation Army (PLA). Katawal refused to step down, and was supported by Nepal’s two biggest mainstream political parties.
Subsequently, Prachanda immediately resigned as Prime Minister, explaining to the Nepalese people that the Army was illegally refusing a government directive and that the mainstream parties were colluding to prop up this anti-democratic move. Now the Maoists could show clearly to people the limitations and obstacles of trying to make change purely through electoral and government channels. They proved that a fresh round of struggle was needed to advance the new democratic movement.
Fast forward a few months to today, and the Maoists are leading huge numbers of Nepalese in the streets of the capital Kathmandu to demand that “civilian supremacy” (democratic people’s control) over the Army be implemented.
Leading members of the Unified Communist Party Maoist march with the people during the torch rally of November 1, the first of a series of mass actions planned for the next two weeks. The Maoists are rallying the people to bring down the current government of Nepal.
The situation is tense, and for good reason. Having balked at civilian supremacy in May, the mainstream parties look unwilling to budge, and have hinted at mobilizing army units to repress the new uprising. The Maoists, who have never disarmed their armed-wing, the People’s Liberation Army, are now mobilizing people in the urban and rural areas, readying themselves for a final insurrection that they have long-maintained would be an inevitable component of their revolution.
Should this movement succeed, it would be just the beginning of a long road of transformation. The Nepalese revolutionaries have acknowledged that they are a small, undeveloped, and isolated country, and it will be very difficult to sustain their revolution surrounded by powerful enemies.
On the other hand, the very existence of the Nepalese movement is proving that it is possible to make revolution in the 21st century. Further advances in Nepal could have an electrifying effect on people and movements opposed to the current world set-up – those who want to break out of the established order but are unable to articulate how. In other words, after a long absence, the idea of “communism” may once again find its way into the thoughts of the oppressed.
To learn more about the situation in Nepal, visit the website of Lal Salaam! Canada Nepal Solidarity Group.
BASICS #16 (Nov / Dec 2009)
by Niraj Joshi
The United Nations Security Council has just voted to extend the UN “peacekeeping” mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) for another year. MINUSTAH will now enter its sixth year of illegal occupation, in violation of both the Haitian constitution and international law. The military force was imposed on Haiti in June 2004 and used to violently contain and repress the popular resistance to the western-backed 2004 coup d’etat against President Aristide. Since the 2006 election of President Preval, it has been used to violently contain and repress popular resistance to the neoliberal and imperialist program imposed on the Haitian government, and which has only worsened poverty and increased misery on the Caribbean island.
Such has been the case in the last months when several thousand workers and students have tirelessly protested President Preval’s failure to raise the minimum wage in Haiti. The protestors were brutally repressed by MINUSTAH and the Haitian police, with at least two demonstrators killed and several others beaten and arrested.
Haiti has the lowest minimum wage in the hemisphere. In May of this year both chambers of the Haitian parliament voted to increase the minimum wage from the daily 70 gourdes to 200 gourdes ($5.32 Cnd). The current 70 gourdes is not even enough to cover transportation and two meals a day. Even the proposed 200 gourdes is not an actual increase but rather an adjustment, since inflation has soared drastically beyond the purchasing power of the minimum wage. However, it is a small step toward alleviating the rampant poverty endured by Haitian workers. The last minimum wage raise happened in 2003 under President Aristide, but was immediately revoked by the western-installed dictatorship after Aristide was kidnapped by the joint forces of U.S., Canada, and France.
But under foreign occupation, President Preval has yielded to the demands of international institutions, foreign governments and the business sector. He has blocked the wage raise arguing it would hurt the country’s maquialdora sector (the tax-exempt plants that assemble products mostly for export and that is slated for expansion – but that produces some of the most exploitive and precarious employment in the country). Foreign factory owners, such as Canada’s Gildan Activewear, have threatened to shut down because they cannot afford to pay the higher wages (Gildan cleared 150 million in profits this year and projects a free cash flow of $600 million over the next 3 years).
A compromise of a woefully deficient raise to 125 gourdes is likely to be passed. However, the foreign investor’s export zones (where most of the lowest paid jobs exist) will be exempt! Haiti under American, Canadian and UN occupation remains on its neoliberal course despite the moderately contrary efforts of some of its legislators. And if outraged Haitian workers chose to resist with strikes or protests, the MINUSTAH “peacekeeping” forces will be on site to take up their military position and lead the unruly back to their slave-like posts.
Demonstrators rally outside the Haitian Parliament to demand a minimum wage increase to 200 gourdes ($5 dollars / day) - which would still remain the lowest wage in the western hemisphere.