Friday, May 29, 2009

Progressive Nepali Forum of the Americas denounces unconstitutional moves in Nepal

Public Statement - May 28, 2009

Progressive Nepali Forum in Americas (PNEFA) reiterates its previous stand that President Dr. Ram Baran Yadav’s move has not only violated the constitution but also seriously undermined the legitimate mandate of a democratically elected civilian government in Nepal. While reinstating the fired Chief of the Army Staff the President has overstepped the boundary of the constitution as well as the norms and values of parliamentary democracy. He has acted in a regressive and reactionary way, a move reminiscent of Mahendra Shah and Ganendra Shah’s assumption of executive power through dismissal of the elected government in 1960 and 2005 respectively. We also condemn all political parties including Nepali Congress and CPN(UML), which instigated the President to launch the constitutional coup.

Instead of correcting regressive move of the President and reinstating civilian supremacy, Madhav Kumar Nepal, a loser from two constituencies in last year’s Constituent Assembly (CA) elections, has been declared the Prime Minister of Nepal through unethical alliance of status-quoists and regressive forces with overt support and blessings of foreign powers, which have threatened the peace process and installed two power centers with military supremacy. This has not only undermined and violated established democratic values and norms of civilian supremacy but also insulted Nepali people’s aspiration for change and a new Nepal with democratic republican federal setup. We firmly believe that incorporating losers of the CA elections in the new council of ministers headed by another loser is a mockery of democracy and unbearable insult to the sentiment of Nepali people and popular mandate.

We urge all sovereign Nepalis: intellectuals, civil society leaders, patriotic, democratic, progressive, and reasonable and rational minds of all walks of life to condemn this unfolding grotesque political drama regardless of personal and ideological affiliation and express solidarity to the ongoing movement for civilian supremacy, democracy, peace and rule of law in Nepal.

We urge members of the sovereign Constituent Assembly to nullify the unconstitutional act of the President and safeguard national independence by saying NO to foreign powers who meddle in the internal affairs of Nepal.

We do not accept Madhav Kumar Nepal and others, who were rejected by the people, in the council of ministers as legitimate government of Nepal and ask them to step down to facilitate the process of democratic solution of current political impasse. We believe in the unflinching unity among patriotic and republican democrats to safeguard national unity and independence.

Abi Sharma President - PNEFA

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

BASICS Statement on Sri Lanka's Genocidal Onslaught Against Tamils

by Niraj Joshi - 25 May 2009

BASICS Free Community Newsletter condemns the Sri Lankan government’s ongoing genocidal war against Tamil civilians in their effort to occupy Tamil region in the north-eastern coast of the island. This historic Tamil territory had been under the control of the Liberation of Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) since 2002. The bloody climax of the war came last week with the decimation of the LTTE as a conventional military force, and claims of the death of all its top brass after months of indiscriminate land, air and sea assault by the Sri Lankan army. The “glorious total victory” callously claimed by Sri Lankan war criminal President Mahinda Rajapaksa in the latest phase of the war came with the slaughter of some 10,000 Tamil men, women and children and the maiming of several thousands more. A further 300,000 Tamil civilians from the northeast that Rajapaksa declared “liberated” by the Sri Lankan army have been herded into dozens of detention camps (illegal under international law) and commanded over by the Sri Lankan forces responsible for displacing them. The Sri Lankan government continues to restrict access to the camps to independent monitors, journalists, humanitarian workers, United Nations agencies or even Tamil parliamentarians. Conditions in the camps have been called an “unimaginable humanitarian catastrophe” by the International Committee of the Red Cross with severe shortages of food, clean water, shelter and medical aid. Shocking reports of atrocities are filtering out about mass rapes, disappearances and subsequent killing of young Tamil boys and men, forced separation of families, forced sterilizations and abortions and the starvation of refugees. The Sri Lankan government admits that Tamil men, women and children are being “processed” for links to the LTTE and will be detained in the prison camps for at least two years.

BASICS shares the deep concern of the Tamil community for the approximately 25,000 civilians that are believed still trapped in the “safe areas” of the war zones which were bombarded day and night by the Sri Lankan forces. The Sri Lankan government continues to ban the media and aid groups from the north-eastern region, and there have been reports that the government is “bulldozing and destroying evidence of massacres” prior to permitting the entry of international observers. Disturbing reports of other crimes by the Sri Lankan army include unlawful shooting of surrendering LTTE cadres and the detention of three government doctors who had recently made eye witness testimonies about Sri Lankan army violations in the “safe” zone. The fate of the doctors remains unknown, but it is believed that they are being held at the Terrorist Investigation (torture) Division in the capital Colombo on accusations of disseminating false information about the government. BASICS joins human rights groups worldwide in their appeal for the safe return of these health care professionals.

In addition, there are numerous reports that Tamils living in Sinhalese areas are being forced to join in the Sri Lankan “victory” or else face intimidation and harassment from police and Sinhalese thugs. The Sri Lankan army and police are also interrogating and detaining a number of Tamil civilians in Colombo and other Sinhalese centres, and that they are especially targeting Tamil youth. There is a real fear among Tamils in Sri Lanka and the diaspora of another pogrom against Tamils in Colombo and another mass exodus.

It was imperial Britain that post-colonially installed Sinhalese political elite to power with the concurrent centralisation of that power in the south and with no safeguards for the island’s other minorities. These Sinhalese elite have only ever acted on their personal advancement and brought the country to economic crisis by maintaining disastrous economic and political policies that have included brutal violence against minorities and extreme militarisation.

Since Sri Lankan independence in 1948, there has been ongoing anti-Tamil discrimination in employment, education and language; with developmental neglect of Tamil areas, the complete disenfranchisement of Tamil plantation workers and attempts to change the demographics of the Tamil majority in the north in favour of Sinhalese. This history and the nonviolent response of Tamils to the abuses have been written about (and should be reviewed) in previous BASICS newsletters. The armed struggle of the Tamil people in Sri Lanka came about only after the failed peaceful and democratic resistance of Tamils was met with brutal and unrestrained state violence. The Sri Lankan government has invested heavily in military expansion in order to continue its repression of Tamils, while neglecting the country’s grinding poverty; a distorted investment that continues to come at the expense of all its citizens and which has increased its unmanageable foreign debt to the benefit of regional and international powers.

The decades long war has claimed 100,000 Tamil lives and displaced over 500,000 Tamil civilians. Tamils endured its most brutal expression in the most recent phase begun last year when Sri Lanka unilaterally abandoned the internationally mediated ceasefire agreement being held with the LTTE since 2002. The government’s claim of fighting “terrorism” garnered permissibility for the withdrawal post-911, despite the grave breaches of international human rights and humanitarian law. Rajapaksa’s claim about fighting a “war on terrorism” was really about fighting the Tamil people and forcing their acceptance of their second class citizenship in a Sinhalese, Buddhist Sri Lankan nation. The Rajapaksa regime has committed genocide toward that aim, with the Sri Lankan army using Kfir jets, multi-barrel rocket launchers, helicopter gunships, cluster bombs, white phosphorus bombs and other banned chemical weapons. Even when the Tamil Tigers agreed to lay down their weapons, allow for the evacuation of civilians and give up armed conflict, Sri Lanka’s response was to continue their course of mass murder and scorched earth tactics. Despite feigning concern for “trapped” civilians, the Sri Lankan army never made an effort to guarantee the safe and free movement of people or open and maintain a safe corridor from the war zone – leaving civilians with a choice between being chemically bombed or interned in an army prison camp.

The corrupt and racist Rajapaksa regime has one of the worst human rights records in the world. They have been able to get away with their crimes because of a corrupt and partisan police (95% Sinhalese) and army (99% Sinhalese), and a corrupt and partisan judiciary that has allowed the rule of law to be replaced by emergency regulations. Dissenters in parliament, the media or civil society have been threatened, imprisoned or self silenced.

BASICS supports those in the Tamil community who charge that the Sri Lankan government had always planned to conduct an unseen genocide because they began their expulsion of human rights workers and agencies in the Tamil north at the same time that they withdrew from the ceasefire agreement in January 2008 and then began their military offensive. The campaign of persecution of local journalists was intensified at the same time, as well as the expulsion of foreign reporters. The recent phase of the war was preceded with the blockade of essential items like food, medicine and fuel into the Tamil stronghold followed by repeated bombing and shelling of civilian targets. Such tactics are reminiscent of the Israeli government’s actions in its own genocidal war against the Palestinians of Gaza last December. In much the same way as Israel, the Sri Lankan government has used its 175,000 strong army as a domestic occupying force with all the abusive characteristics of an occupier – the harassment, intimidation and unrepentant murder. In addition, there is the ongoing concern for the well being of Tamils living in the rest of Sri Lanka because in January 2008 the Sri Lankan government had started registering all Tamils in Colombo on grounds that they could be a security threat.

Regional and international hegemonic powers have no worry for the lives of Tamils or for a just resolution to Tamil autonomy. The genocidal war in Sri Lanka would not be possible without substantial financial aid or deadly weapons provided through the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, Asian Development Bank, China, India, Pakistan, Israel, USA, France and the United Kingdom. Canada has also marketed weapons to Sri Lanka, and last year Canadian tax payer dollars subsidized a military radar system sold to Sri Lanka. Despite the crushing poverty facing Sri Lanka’s working and rural poor, the government spends thirty percent of its overall revenue on weapons of war and is the most militarized country in South Asia (though it has no external threats). Recently these armaments have also included illegal chemical weapons and cluster munitions. The weaponry has been used to bomb civilian markets, homes, cultural centres, schools, hospitals, fishing boats, fishing villages, refugee camps and to commit mass killings. There have been over 20 massacres of Tamils carried out by the Sri Lankan army in the past ten months and more than 53 Tamil schools have been bombed since the ceasefire.

The Canadian government has refused to condemn these atrocities. The plea of thousands of Tamil Canadians for a ceasefire and protection of civilians has been met with silence and indifference. The callous Conservative government has not even issued a statement of condolence to the Tamil community for their loss of family and friends – the very least that would have been done had there been that number of deaths from any other disaster. Government responses have instead focused entirely on the tactics and actions of the LTTE, with no reference to Sri Lankan state sponsored terror or unacceptable loss of civilian life. Conservative Members of Parliament have even called Tamil Canadians protesting in the GTA and Ottawa “terrorists” and “rebels”. Shamefully, the Canadian Minister of International Cooperation, Bev Oda used a recent visit to Sri Lanka to offer a further three million dollars in Canadian “aid” to the Sri Lanka government to maintain the prisoner concentration camps interning Tamil civilians not killed by the genocidal bombing and shelling.

BASICS unequivocally denounces the role that Canada played in advancing the Sri Lankan war against the Tamil people. In 2006, Canada was the first country to respond to the Sri Lankan government campaign to designate the LTTE as a terrorist organization. Other countries subsequently followed Canada’s lead. The terror listing undermined the negotiations that were underway between the Sri Lankan state and the LTTE, and permitted the Rajapaksa regime to brazenly withdraw from peace talks and begin the latest brutal offensive in the Tamil areas. The terror listing clearly aligned the Canadian government on the side of the terrorist Sri Lankan government in its war against the Tamil Tigers and Tamil civilians. Therefore, BASICS Free Community Newsletter further condemns any continued silence or support given to the Sri Lankan government by the Canadian state.

The catastrophic war by Sri Lanka has brutally suppressed the Tamil people’s struggle for the universal right of self determination. However, BASICS recognizes that the defeat or even elimination of the LTTE simply means the beginning of a new phase in the Tamil resistance towards peace, justice and independence. At this stage in that struggle BASICS supports:

  • The call for the protection of the 300,000 internally displaced Tamil people who now languish behind the barbed wire fences of deplorable prison camps. The camps cannot remain under Sri Lankan army administration. Humanitarian workers, independent monitors and journalists must be allowed absolute access to all camps and detainees; and the health, security and life needs of the refugees must be immediately and sufficiently met. These refugees must be allowed freedom of movement with the right to return to their homes in the northeast as soon as possible. There is a concern that the Sri Lankan government will repeat a pattern of installing Sinhalese settlements in the newly ethnically cleansed Tamil areas, and there have been reports of government plans to double the size of the Sri Lankan army in order to permanently occupy the north.

  • The call for the protection of the human rights of Tamils in the capital Colombo and other Sinhalese areas. These areas are being heavily militarized with reports of arbitrary arrests and disappearances of Tamil citizens, and of soldiers patrolling the streets and setting up checkpoints to “process” Tamil civilians.

  • The call for a full and independent investigation, accounting and prosecution for war crimes committed by the Rajapaksa regime. Independent investigators must be given immediate access to the war zone.

  • The call for recognition of the Tamil people’s legitimate struggle for economic, social and political independence in their recognizable homeland in the northeast, and for independently monitored negotiations toward that end.


Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Against All Odds: Maoist Revolution in Nepal Moving Forward

by Derek Rosin - 19 May 2009

BASICS Free Community Newsletter

Written for an upcoming issue of Socialist Project's magazine 'Relay'

Right now, communists are on the verge of what could potentially be the first successful revolution in over a generation. They're internationalists, who boldly proclaim that either we all get to communism, or none of us do. And yet, there has been a bewildering lack of discussion and popularization of this movement, not to mention a frustrating lack of internationalist support for the people now making history.

This revolution is taking place in Nepal, one of the poorest countries in the world. Most people are poor peasants who can barely eke out a living in the rugged and remote valleys in the foothills of the Himalayas. It's a country dominated by foreign powers, especially by its southern neighbour, India, which has historically strangled Nepalese domestic industry and controlled its resources. Internally, caste oppression and women's oppression both weigh heavily. Communists have been active in Nepal for decades searching for ways to solve these basic problems.

A turning point came in 1996, when an insurrection was launched by the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) - recently renamed the United Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist). 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 needs like basic health care and education. The Maoists called this the “People's War” - a revolutionary war of the people that seeks to overthrow the old system.

I was fortunate enough to have visited Nepal's Maoist base areas in the Western hill region in 2006 to witness some of these changes first-hand. There is one small incident I will never forget that speaks volumes to the liberating changes that are taking place. I, together with some friends, was in the village of Tilla in Rolpa district talking to boy in his early teens. Rolpa, along with the neighbouring Rukum district to the north, is considered the heartland of the revolution, and it was here that the revolution began exercising power over ten years ago. Through a translator, we asked him about his life, including what caste he was in. At this question he paused and looked puzzled. He in turn told us that he was a Dalit, a low-caste untouchable, but that it was strange that we asked him that, since no one cares any more. He told us that his parents would tell him stories about caste discrimination and oppression, but that he had never experienced them.

Throughout the base areas we heard similar stories: women organizing themselves to stop wife-beating; parents able to get medical care for their sick kids at a newly-built hospital; and villagers who no longer have to walk for two days to get salt because of a newly-constructed road. The transformations are stunning, and help to partially explain the rapid advance of the revolutionary movement.

One aspect of the Nepali revolution people ought to be paying attention to is the strikingly creative approach of its leaders. Revolution – the Nepali Maoists are fond of saying – cannot be replicated, but only developed. In developing their strategy and tactics, the Maoists have made a serious study of the serious setbacks suffered by revolutions like in Peru, Nicaragua and Malaysia after a certain level of development was reached. They aim to mobilize the Nepalese people to continually push their movement forward – without either being swallowed up by electoralism nor scraping by in a perpetual military insurgency with no real hope of victory.

An outcome of this approach has been the Nepali's concept of “total war” - by which they mean fighting on all fronts: military, cultural, political, and ideological. An example of this has been their deliberate tactic of alternating between political and military offensives. There were several ceasefires and negotiations throughout the people's war period, in each case the Maoists used the opportunities to reach out to different segments of the society, win new allies, and further expose and isolate their enemies. This was done with careful consideration to the specific ideological terrain they had to deal with.

For example, the ruling classes of Nepal, an amalgam of comprador and feudal classes, had for decades used the concepts of patriotism and (bourgeois) democracy to build hegemony for their rule. Feudalism was defended with the banner of patriotism and the comprado bourgeoisie wrapped themselves in democracy. The Maoists answered by turning these concepts on their head. They developed a new form of democracy (anti-caste oppression, anti-women's oppression) in their bases areas to fight the feudal monarchy and rallied people with an anti-imperialist, anti-expansionist patriotism to attack the comprador bourgeoisie.

This creative approach also informs the Nepali Maoists vision of the future society they want to build. They believe a major defect of previous socialist societies, notably in the Soviet Union and China, was the ease with which counter-revolutionaries were able to turn these revolutions into their opposites and restore capitalism. Their thinking on this problem has led them to emphasize the importance of strengthening popular militias under socialism, as well as developing plans for a socialist democracy in which numerous parties will compete in a politically communist “mainstream”.

All of this unorthodoxy is not without controversy within the Maoist movement. Internationally, some former friends have distanced themselves from the UCPN(M), arguing that their creative developments are in fact an abandonment of Marxist-Leninist-Maoist principles.

Within the UCPN(M) itself, line struggle has been intense.There has been serious concern among cadre, as voiced by senior member Biplap, that the negotiations and constituent assembly process will lead to a situation where the “party will be drowned into the swamp of reformism up over its head.” This danger is acknowledged and discussed by the Party in their many publications. However, as another party leader, Basanta, has argued, parties scared off by any danger have never been able to seize any opportunity.

In November 2006, the UCPN(M) decided to seize such an opportunity and end one phase of the revolution by signing a peace treaty with the government on the condition that elections be held for a Constituent Assembly – a temporary governing body that serves to write a new constitution for how society will work. Although they then controlled 80% of the territory of the country and had built the powerful People's Liberation Army (PLA), they did not feel it would be best to try and capture the cities militarily. They faced several obstacles: weak support among middle-class people in the cities, who would have to be important allies in any future society; an unfavourable international situation with no real socialist countries who could assist their extremely undeveloped country; and the mood of the masses themselves, who were justifiably exhausted by a decade of bloody conflict and yearned for peace.

The peace treaty gave the Maoists the freedom to begin doing intensive political work in areas they had previously been weak – namely in the cities and the heavily populated southern Terai region. A tactic during this time was to politically isolate the leadership of the mainstream parties and reach out to their supporters by demanding the unconditional dissolution of the corrupt and widely-hated monarchy.

In April 2008 elections for the Constituent Assembly were held and the Maoists emerged as the biggest and most influential party. This shocked everyone in the world except the Maoists themselves, who knew the huge support they had been building throughout Nepal. In May 2008, the monarchy was abolished.

The peace treaty has been misunderstood by some as a form of capitulation. However, the Maoists have shown no sign that they have swayed from their basic understanding that “without a people's army, the people have nothing.” They have not disarmed, but have instead argued for the integration of their fighters into a re-constituted army under democratic control. The National Army and their royalist allies have continually resisted this demand.

In May 2009, this controversy reached a breaking point when Army general Katawal, with United Marxist-Leninist encouragement (UML – a party which, despite its name, has been stubborn defender of the old Nepal and a violent opponent of the revolution), refused to follow government directives to resign. This in turn led to the resignation of the Maoist leader Prachanda from the post of Prime Minister – a move which marks a new phase in the revolution.

Senior UCPN(M) leader Gaurav, speaking on May 17th, 2009 declared “now, we’ll spearhead the ‘third Janaandolan’ [people's uprising] against the president’s unconstitutional move to reinstate the Army chief and also complete our unfinished revolution.” Such an uprising may prove to be a component of the final insurrection that Prachanda has long argued is inevitable.

The recent developments make sense when considering the UCPN(M)'s strategic approach as a whole. Revolutions without the masses are not revolutions worth having: the lasting success or failure of a revolution hinges on the genuine involvement of people in it – and their deepening mastery over all spheres of society. What we see in Nepal now is a living political process where the Nepali people are being convinced of the need for further change. Many Nepalis were rightfully elated when the monarchy was abolished, but now they can see that the continued presence of the National Army (among other institutions) is the biggest obstacle to progressive change. In other words, they are being shown through events that the revolution needs to seize state power.

There is no guarantee the Nepalese revolution will succeed. Revolutionaries may be politically outmanoeuvred by the old political establishment and their allies like the United States, who still outrageously label the UCPN(M) a “terrorist” organization. They may be militarily defeated by remnants of the National Army, an Indian invasion, or a combination of the two. There is the looming difficulty of building a socialist economy in a country so undeveloped that even sewing needles have to be imported.

Against all these obstacles, the Nepali people need and deserve our solidarity and support.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Police Violence Against Peaceful Protesters and Bystanders is an Attack on Human Rights!

Migrante Ontario Youth Statement
8 May 2009

Migrante Ontario Youth condemns the police violence against Adrienne Lee, Myk Miranda and Jeffrey Miranda at approximately 5:30 p.m. on May 2, 2009 near the peaceful Tamil protest on University Avenue. The police actions against them were a display of unnecessary use of force and an indication of the growing repression of Canadian law enforcers of people’s right to freedom of assembly.

Adrienne Lee, along with Myk Miranda and Jeffrey Miranda were observing the protestors at Armoury Street and University Avenue when they were approached by a contingent of the Toronto police present. At first the police used intimidation tactics – yelling at and motioning aggressively – with the intention of moving them off the public sidewalk. Despite their compliance, they were soon being pushed away by one officer.

The officer, who was much larger than all three, singled out Adrienne (the smallest of the group), who was walking with her bike. The officer pushed her along with one hand on her and the other on her bike. As she was following his order, she became rightfully upset and told the officer “Get your hands off of me and my bike, I can walk it myself!” At that point the police officer threw the bike down and grabbed Adrienne Lee and forcefully threw her to the ground.

The officer is described as White, at least 250 lbs., 6’4”, heavy built, while Adrienne is a 100-lb., Chinese-Canadian university student, and her companions were both Filipino.

“My girlfriend was trembling. We were all saddened, flabbergasted, disgusted, and terrified,” recalls Myk of the event. Myk protested Adrienne’s treatment and repeatedly requested the officer’s name and badge number which he at first refused to give and only later reluctantly acquiesced. Even then, he quickly and incoherently gave the information and refused further requests to repeat it. Another officer joined in and threatened Myk with arrest if he persisted with questioning the initial officer.

Migrante Ontario Youth would like to point out that all officers are by law required to give this information freely, clearly, and without hesitation. This attempt to avoid compliance is worrying and shows a disregard and disrespect of both the citizenry and the rule of law.

Myk further comments, “It makes me lose confidence in the character of some of these police officers who did not serve and protect, but harassed, provoked and abused. While there are honest cops with discipline and a strong sense of morality, what was exemplified and exposed was horribly the opposite. I couldn’t even get a record of his name. We all felt very violated. It was a dehumanizing experience.”

The assault on Adrienne, Myk and Jeffrey was not an isolated incident at that protest – Migrante Ontario Youth has also learned of the assaults the police made on Tamil and non-Tamil protesters on May 2, and of the arrests of two non-Tamil protesters. Despite the police chief William Blair’s statement that he would not interfere with the protest as long as it remained peaceful, there have been increasing hostile acts by the police towards the Tamil protesters, supporters, and now even mere observers. This behaviour is part of a systemic attack on people’s rights to freedom of assembly, and in particular, to demonstrate support for the Tamil people’s struggle for human rights and liberation.

We at Migrante Ontario Youth denounce this specific incident of police violence and the increasingly more frequent acts of unjustified force perpetrated by the Toronto Police. The use of force against lawful citizens is not only against the mission of the police, but is contrary to the values held by the Canadian people. Furthermore, we stand in solidarity with the Tamil people in their struggle for peace, justice and national liberation.

Reference: Mithi Esguerra, (647) 239-6553,

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Tamils Take Over Gardiner Expressway, Demand End to Genocide

Thousands of protesters, Tamil and non-Tamil, have taken over the Gardiner Expressway to protest Canada's silence over the massacre of Tamils by the Sri Lankan government.

The surprise action of protesters in Toronto on Sunday afternoon overwhelmed the police, who were unable to stop the crowd from engaging in peaceful civil disobedience.

From the night of Saturday, May 9 to Monday May 11, over 6500 innocent Tamil civilians have been killed by the relentless barrage of shelling by the Sri Lankan Army.

See for daily updates on the situation.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009



“There are few among us who aren’t afraid to speak their mind
publicly- and stand up for the interest of our community over and over
again. Norman is one of the few. This is how I know Norman” – Frank
Francis (The Trane Studio)

Norman "Otis" Richmond, iconic broadcaster and journalist, will be
honored for his significant contribution and commitment to the arts
and culture here in Toronto with a Toast and Roast. The Toast and
Roast will take place at the Trane Studio on Monday, May 11, 2009
beginning at 6pm. RICHMOND is the producer and host of two shows on
CKLN-FM 88.1. He began his radio career at Radio Varsity (now CIUT-FM
89.5). He quickly moved to CHIN, CFNY, CBC and
CKLN. He is the recipient of the Toronto Arts Award. He won it the
same time Karen Kane, Austin Clarke and Bruce Cockburn.

Join a list of Celebrity "roasters" which include media personalities,
artistes, social activists and other special guests:  Ayinde Blake (
son of Milton Blake and film critic of CKLN’s Saturday Morning Live)
Jojo Chintoh (journalist, formerly of City TV), Spider Jones (Host of
CFRB 1010’s Spider’s Web).Clifton Joseph (CBC News: Marketplace),
Thando Hyman, (Host of the “African Woman and Family” 89.5 CIUT-FM),
Heather Kere (Host of Diasporic Music CKLN-FM 88.1), Omme Rahemtulah,
(Host of Saturday Morning Live CKLN-FM 88.1), Audrey Redman, (Honoring
the Earth CKLN 88.1), Itah Sadu, (Owner of A Different Booklist),
Alicia Sealey, (Host CHIN Caribbean Connection), Caldwell Taylor,
(Former United Nation's Ambassador for Grenada), Adam Vaughan,
(Toronto City Councilor), Sandra Whiting,(Renaissance woman) and other
surprise guests.

Your MC for the evening is the one and only Activist, Actor,
Comedienne, Calypsonian and Storyteller Henry "King Cosmos" Gomez.
Musical Guest include award winning Eddie Bullen pianist and composer,
Tiki Mercury Clark, vocalist and composer and other very special

Where: The Trane Studio 964 Bathurst Street
Info: 416-913-8197 ( email
Admission: $10 (or PWYC suggested $10)
Dinner and Show Package Available: $35 (Call The Trane Studio to
reserve- full menu is available. Space is limited so please arrive
early to avoid disappointment.)
Please Come out and show your support to Norman Otis Richmond. RSVP by
Saturday May 9, 2009. &

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Stop the Sell-Off of Public Housing! Rally and Meal with OCAP

BASICS Condemns Arrests, Police Brutality at May 2 Tamil Solidarity Rally

BASICS Bulletin - 4 May 2009

BASICS Free Community Newsletter condemns the disgraceful conduct of
the Toronto Police Service in its treatment of of the Tamil community
and peaceful demonstrators attempting to join the Tamil rally at the
US consulate on May 2, 2009.

For the last two months the Tamil community has shown exemplary unity
and organization in demanding an end to the genocide of the Tamil
people being carried out by the Sri Lankan government, including the
use of military attacks on civilian targets and the use of chemical
weapons and concentration camps in an attempt to break their movement
for national liberation. The Tamil community has persevered despite
the silence of the Canadian government and corporate media and
undemocratic repression by the Toronto police. In the words of one
demonstrator, "We will not be treated like animals!"

On May 2, thousands of people, both Canadian-born and migrant workers,
marched to call for an end to the racist attacks of the Canadian
government against immigrant communities. After the No One Is Illegal
march ended at City Hall, a large group of marchers continued on to
join the rally organized by the Tamil community at the US consulate.

The police showed no respect for the peoples right to peaceful
assembly and freedom of speech as guaranteed by the Charter of Rights
and Freedoms. Even though there was no violence or even threat of
violence from the side of the demonstrators, police verbally and
physically assaulted the people, calling them "terrorists" and other
insults. The marchers were penned in between metal barricades and
rows of armed riot police, creating a tight bottleneck on one end of
the sidewalk while mounted police on horses assaulted marchers from
the other end. Tamils and non-Tamils alike were brutalized and
crushed together, including women and children. Police even assaulted
a young couple who were only passers-by and were complying with police
instructions to leave the area. The officer grabbed the woman with
both hands and threw her down on the pavement and threatened to arrest
her partner when he attempted to passively intervene.

Two marchers, including a correspondent for BASICS Free Community
Newsletter and a member of the Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid,
were arrested for "disturbing the peace," even though their only crime
was speaking out in defense of the Tamil people and calling for
international solidarity. Footage now posted on YouTube clearly shows
that the CAIA member was arrested simply because he dared to make the
links between the genocide of Tamils in Sri Lanka to the occupation
and apartheid policies imposed on the Palestinian people by Israel and
correctly identifying the Canadian state as being complicit in both of
these international war crimes. Footage also clearly shows that there
was no basis for the arrest and mistreatment of the correspondent from
BASICS at the hands of the Toronto police.

The police have been attempting to break the growing unity between
Tamils and non-Tamils, by spreading rumours to each side that the
others are "trouble-makers." Anyone who views the footage of police
conduct at the demonstration will know the truth: that it is the
police who are the real "trouble-makers!"

As our arrested comrade from BASICS said, "The excessive response
against me – both at the time of my arrest and during the booking
procedure at the police station, was intended to humiliate and
intimidate me and thereby discourage my participation in the Tamil
protests. Needless to say, I will be back at the Tamil protest making
“trouble” as long as the Tamil community will be there."

We will not be intimidated! Our unity will not be broken! BASICS
Free Community Newsletter demands an impartial investigation into the
treatment of demonstrators by the Toronto police, disciplining of any
officers who violated peoples rights, as well as a public apology from
Chief of Police Bill Blair for the disgraceful and cowardly conduct of
his officers. Further, we demand that the Canadian government use any
and all means available to pressure the Sri Lankan government to stop
the genocide of the Tamil people! For more information, contact or visit our website at