#. 76. March 10, 2003
ISRAEL DOUSES BEDOUIN WITH TOXIC CHEMICALS!
CHILEANS AND RAELIANS STRIP FOR PEACE!!
FEAR STALKS A BROOKLYN MOSQUE!!!
CURRENT HOMELAND SECURITY COLOR ADVISORY CODE: YELLOW
By Bill Weinberg
with David Bloom and Subuhi Jiwani, Special Correspondents
THE PALESTINE FRONT
1. Israel Sprays Bedouin with Toxic Chemicals
2. Israeli-Arab Cooperation--in Hashish Trade
THE IRAQ FRONT
1. Iran Proxy Militia Makes Claim in Kurdistan
2. High School Students Stage Nationwide Walk-Out
3. Letter From A 16-Year-Old American Hero
4. Chilean Protesters Get Naked for Peace
5. Notable Women Arrested Protesting War at White House
1. Update: Are US Corporations Funding Hindu Extremist Violence in India?
2. US Charity Admits Financing Hindu Militants
THE ANDEAN FRONT
1. "Stealth" Aid for Colombia Passed; Human Toll Rises
2. Peru Next?
3. Peru: Ex-Terror Czar Montesinos Stands Trial -- Again
NEW YORK CITY
1. March 22 Anti-War March Planned--Will City Allow March on U.N.?
2. Bad Ground Zero Redevelopment Design Gets Even Worse
3. Fear on Atlantic Avenue
THE PALESTINE FRONT
1. ISRAEL SPRAYS BEDOUIN WITH TOXIC CHEMICALS
See also: Israeli Lands Authority
Squeezes out Bedouin, WW3 Report #62 top]
On Feb. 15, Israeli airplanes sprayed toxic chemicals on 5,000 acres of crop land in unrecognized Bedouin villages in the Negev (Naqab) desert. The villages are home to some 20,000 Bedouin with Israeli citizenship. The airplanes belonged to the Israeli Lands Administration (ILA). People in the fields, including the elderly and children, were also sprayed. Even animals were sprayed. Jaber Abu Kaff, president of the Regional Council for the Unrecognized Villages of the Palestinian Bedouin in the Negev (RCUV) called the spraying a barbarian and inhuman act, meant to induce the Bedouin to leave an area of land wanted by the Israeli state. "But we will stay in our land as long as we are alive and we urge all those people with a conscience to stand with us," Abu Kaff said. (Palestine Chronicle, March 8) (David Bloom)
2. ISRAELI-ARAB COOPERATION--IN HASHISH TRADE
THE IRAQ FRONT
Eleven Israelis--both Jews and Arabs--have been charged with running one of the largest drug smuggling networks in the north of the country since the Israel Defense Forces' withdrawal from Lebanon. The ring, broken up in a joint Shin Bet and northern police district investigation, allegedly provided Lebanon's Hezbollah militia with intelligence and military equipment, including photographs of northern sites, night-vision glasses, an Israeli Statistical Yearbook and Hebrew-Arabic electronic dictionaries. In exchange, it received hundreds of kilograms of hashish from Lebanon. The defendants are residents of Ghajar village on the Lebanese border, Kiryat Shmona and the central region. Their contact man with the Hezbollah was Lebanese drug dealer Ramzi Nahara, who was killed in December 2002, when his car blew up in Lebanon. Hezbollah accused Israel of his liquidation. The ring's members confessed to smuggling four to five tons of hashish through the Lebanese border, but the police claim the actual amount was two or three times larger. (Haaretz, Feb. 17)
1. IRAN PROXY MILITIA MAKES CLAIM IN KURDISTAN
The Badr Brigade, military wing of the Iran-backed Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, has taken an enclave around Zimnako Mountain in the zone of northern Iraq controlled by the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK). It is mostly made up of desertersfrom the Iraqi army, and is expected to fight against Saddam's forces once war begins. But the Supreme Council, like the PUK, opposes plans for a US occupation of Iraq. (NYT, March 3)
2. HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS STAGE NATIONWIDE WALK-OUT
Students from some 300 high schools coast to coast walked out of class March 5 to protest Bush's war drive. Hundreds gathered in New York's Union Square Park despite rain. City education department officials said attendance was at 79%, just three percentage points below normal--but admitted the bureaucratic subterfuge: students who showed up for class and then walked out were not counted as absent. (Newsday, March 6)
3. LETTER FROM A 16 YEAR OLD AMERICAN HERO
The following letter was written by 16-year-old Ana Grady Flores, a junior at the Alternative Community School in Ithaca, NY:
"On Saturday, December 21st, 2002, thirteen of us participated in a 'die-in' at the Military Recruitment Center in the Cayuga Mall. Out of the 13 arrested, four of us were under eighteen years old. We lay there with red paint smeared on our faces, symbolizing blood, the blood of Iraqi's, soldiers and civilians and our own US soldiers. We lay there for about an hour.
"During that time a few members of the group were able to take turns reading different parts of 'A Christmas Sermon on Peace' by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
"We were eventually all arrested and brought to the State Troopers Barracks in Lansing where they processed us all. Some of the State Troopers were very nice and one even told me that he agreed with us and that we should do the same thing at the White House. It was kind of funny to hear him say that as he proceeded to take my finger prints. We were all released with the charges of Criminal Trespass 3rd degree and a court date set for January 9th. We might face a year in prison.
"I think the highlight of the day for me was being released and hearing young people my age telling me that next time they would definitely join me and do the same.
"I am sixteen years old and I am the youngest of four. I have three older brothers, two who registered for selective service and one who has not yet fallen into the trap of the military institution. I did this action for my brothers.
"I am currently a junior at Ithaca's Alternative Community School and have many friends that are my age and older. I know that they could also be lured into the military, only because they are told that the military will pay for all their education and instead be forced to fight in a war that is full of lies and deception. I did this action for them. I took the liberty to speak for the voiceless people of Iraq, for all the innocent men, women, children and babies that have been killed by US bombs since the Gulf War and will continue to be killed in this next war. I did this action for them.
"I lay there in the recruitment office for the men and women who are currently in the military, so they don't have to be sent off to war to kill and be killed in this war. Like my uncle Peter DeMott said, 'We're here to recruit you into the Peace Movement'!"
(Palestine Chronicle, March 8)
4. CHILEAN PROTESTERS GET NAKED FOR PEACE
On March 1 in Santiago, some 300 Chileans stripped naked and chanted "No to War" and "Yes to Life" in a protest against the US war drive. Protests were also held the previous day when White House special envoy Otto Reich arrived in the country to meet with President Ricardo Lagos in what was seen as an effort to sway Chile's vote on the Secuirty Council. ( Weekly News Update on the Americas March 2)
Chileans are not the only ones stripping for peace. A group of women associated with the Raelians, a sect that recently claimed, to wide skepticism, that it had succeeded in the first cloning of a human being, disrobed in front of the federal building in Los Angeles on March 8. "Whenever everybody undresses, the ego goes away and then we can make decisions," said protester Nadine Gary. "Imagine President Bush nude addressing the State of the Union. Imagine Saddam Hussein nude." (UCLA Daily Bruin, March 10) (Bill Weinberg and David Bloom)
On their website, the Raelians declare they intend to establish the first embassy to welcome people from space.
5. NOTABLE WOMEN ARRESTED PROTESTING WAR AT WHITE HOUSE
Twenty-three women, including authors Alice Walker and Maxine Hong Kingston and Pacifica radio host Amy Goodman were arrested March 8 while protesting the Bush administration's planned war on Iraq. 5,000 peace activists associated with Code Pink and Women for Peace marched from Malcom X park in Washington, DC, to the sidewalk in front of the White House. Walker and Kingston were arrested while singing, and linking arms with 21 others in front of the White House. The protest was part of dozens of women's anti-war protests across the US, to coincide with International Womens' Day, on March 8. Women have played a key role in the growing anti-war movement. A February 2003 NYT/CBS poll showed that 12% more women than men support a diplomatic solution to the Iraq crisis. A recent Zogby International poll showed that while 45% of men said they would strongly support a war against Iraq, only 21% of women did. (Code Pink Women's Peace Vigil Press release, March 8)(David Bloom)
1. UPDATE: ARE US CORPORATIONS FUNDING HINDU EXTREMIST VIOLENCE IN INDIA?
February 28, 2003 marked the first anniversary of the outbreak of the most horrendous religious violence in India since the subcontinent's 1947 partition. February and March 2002 witnessed the orchestration of what human rights groups have called a "genocide" against minority Muslims in the western Indian state of Gujarat. This genocide--which cost the lives of 2,000 people and displaced over 150,000--was executed by the Hindu chauvinist Bharatiya Janata Party-led state government and its affiliate militant outfits, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and the Bajrang Dal, collectively known as the Sangh Parivar.
In the past year, several non-governmental and grassroots initiatives have sprung up, striving to force the Indian state into accountability for this pogrom. One US initiative, the Campaign to Stop Funding Hate, released a report last November entitled "A Foreign Exchange of Hate". It contends that the Maryland-based India Development and Relief Fund (IDRF)--a charity claiming to enhance the development and welfare of India's rural areas, tribal populations and urban poor--is, in fact, financing the violent activities of Hindu chauvinist outfits in India. Its primary donors include unsuspecting US corporate giants such as Cisco, Oracle, Sun Microsystems, AOL Time Warner and Hewlett-Packard--and some not-so-ignorant employees. According to Biju Matthew, spokesperson for Stop Funding Hate, some employees of major corporations in the US are also "swayamsevaks" or volunteers of the RSS who promote IDRF as a non-sectarian, apolitical charity.
Stop Funding Hate analyzed tax documents that the IDRF submitted to the IRS at its inception in 1989. All sample beneficiaries presented on these documents are affiliated with the Sangh. IDRF disburses 75% of all funds received to organizations it chooses when donors waive their right to do so. Some 83% of these funds eventually settle into the accounts of Sangh-affiliated NGOs in India, amounting to 15-25 percent of the Sangh's overseas income. In 1999 Cisco donated close to $70,000 to IDRF, which, when added to employee contributions, amounted to $133,000 for the 1999-2000 financial cycle.
No IDRF beneficiary is associated with any minority community--Muslim or Christian--and only 2% of the 184 organizations analyzed are secular. Only 15% of all IDRF funds are directed into humanitarian relief--and even this relief work seems to be sectarian in nature. For instance, IDRF enthusiastically raised funds for Hindu victims of sectarian violence in Bangladesh, Hindu Kashmiris subject to Islamic terrorism and survivors of the 9-11 attacks. However, it made no such attempts to collect funds to aid Muslims displaced by the Gujarat massacres.
Despite the Indian government's discouragement of any international scrutiny in Gujarat, the International Initiative for Justice in Gujarat (IIJ)--a panel of academics, lawyers, jurists, activists and writers from all over the world--met in New Delhi last December to address questions concerning the sexual violence committed against women. After talking to victims in Gujarat, it concluded that the violence constituted a crime against humanity and fit the legal definition of genocide.
Last December's state-wide elections in Gujarat reinstated the Bharatiya Janata Party. A year has passed since Gujarat's cities and villages burned, and India's failing democracy has yet to take concrete steps to hold Gujarat's BJP government responsible for its complicity. Corporations and private donors in the West similarly need to take responsibility for their complicity in these crimes. (Subuhi Jiwani)
A version of this article appeared March 7 in Znet
Update: Foreign Financial Networks of Hindu Fascism
2. US CHARITY ADMITS FINANCING HINDU MILITANTS
In yet another exchange of rejoinders between the Campaign to Stop Funding Hate and the India Development and Relief Fund (IDRF), the IDRF released a detailed report recently entitled "A Factual Response to the Hate Attack on the India Development and Relief Fund" to counteract "The Foreign Exchange of Hate"--Stop Funding Hate's report detailing IDRF's funding of sectarian violence in India.
In a March 3 press release, Stop Funding Hate stated that the IDRF admitted to being a part of the Sangh in its report. "Having acknowledged that the IDRF is indeed part of the Sangh, the report sidesteps all charges of Sangh's documented role in violence against minorities, and its orchestration of communal violence, such as the Gujarat carnage of a year ago."
In its report, IDRF praises the RSS for its "peerless record over the decades in providing timely, selfless and courageous disaster relief work," (http://www.idrf.org/foireport) and claims what Stop Funding Hate has called "independence" from the militant activities of the Sangh Parivar.
The IDRF has spent the last three months denying Stop Funding Hate's charges and the latest denial is that there is nothing which legally binds the IDRF to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), a Hindu militant group. IDRF states openly that it funds trusts that finance the RSS. Says Stop Funding Hate: "It would be impossible to have a legal link with the RSS since the RSS is not a legal entity: No registration under the law of any country. No membership rolls, and no publicly audited statements."
This ideological battle occurring through finely tuned reports and media discussions has resulted in the filing of a formal inquiry by the Justice Department into Stop Funding Hate's claims. As of March 10, 2003 at 14:30hrs EST, Stop Funding Hate's petition to US corporations contained 2930 signatures, while IDRF's Let India Develop, 7626.
On the US probe into Indian charities funding Hindu extremist violence in India, Smita Narula, South Asia researcher at Human Rights Watch told Financial Times, "It will prove to be an uphill battle for the US to properly investigate and scrutinize these organizations because of their links to the India's ruling party, the BJP. The US needs India as an ally right now." (Financial Times, Feb 14, 2003; Stop Funding Hate; India Development and Relief Fund)
THE ANDEAN FRONT
1. "STEALTH" AID FOR COLOMBIA PASSED; HUMAN TOLL RISES
On Feb. 13, the House and Senate both approved the US federal budget for 2003 in a massive $397 billion "omnibus" bill. This includes $773 million for the Andes region, an increase of more than $100 million over last year. The aid is overwhelmingly military, and includes funds for spraying suspected drug crops in Colombia. The White House has indicated it plans to spray some 300,000 acres of Colombia this year. The bill also includes $88 million to train an elite Colombian army unit to guard the Cano Limon pipeline, owned in part by California-based Occidental Petroleum. Because there was no debate on the Colombia issue, no amendments concerning human rights were added. (Weekly News Update on the Americas, Feb. 23)
Meanwhile, residents report that on Jan. 24, a Colombian Air Force plane searching for National Liberation Army (ELN) guerillas in Norte de Santadner department fired hundreds of shots at several homes in the village of Culebritas in El Carmen municipality. A nine-year-old girl was killed, and two other civilians wounded. On Feb. 24, the Colombian Army's "Alfonso Manoslava Flores" 12th Infanty Battalion reported that two "subversives" had been killed in battle in Choco department. But the Council of Indigenous Authorities of Choco reports that in fact the two victims were civilians from the indigenous community of La Meseta, part of the Penas del Olvido reservation in the upper San Juan Valley. The two men had gone out hunting, and never returned. Local villagers had already formed search parties when they were told by the army the men had been killed and their bodies taken to the town of Tado. Indigenous Nasa communities in Cauca department report that they have been under constant aerial bombardment since Feb. 14. Nasa leaders say the bombardment, and counter-attacks by the FARC guerillas, have destroyed homes, crops and livestock in Jambalo municipality. ( Weekly News Update on the Americas, March 2)
2. PERU NEXT?
On Feb. 18, coca-growers in the Peruvian province of Padre Abad-Aguaytia launched a protest campaign against abuses committed in the government's coca eradication program, known as the Special Program of Coca Control and Reduction in the Upper Huallaga (CORAH). On Feb. 20, coca growers in the Tingo Maria and Valle de Monzon areas also joined the protests, launching blockades of local roads. On Jan. 20, Nelson Palomino La Serna, leader of the National Confederation of Agricultural Producers of the Cocalero Regions of Peru (CONPACCP) was arrested in Huamanga, Ayacucho, and charged with "apology for terrorism." One group in the CONPACCP network, the Federation of Agricultural Producers of the Apurimac and Ene River Valleys (FEPA-VRAE) dismissed the charges as "ridiculous." On Feb. 20, the Lima daily La Republica published a highly critical interview with Hugo Cabieses Cubas, former consultant to the National Commission for the Development of Life Without Drugs (DEVIDA), which helps oversee the eradication program. Cabieses warned that the US "wants Peru to apply, as in Colombia, the fumigation [aerial spraying] of coca crops, and, as in Bolivia, the 'zero coca' strategy that has provoked more social violence. " He said the US gives more anti-drug aid to Colombia because that country "agreed to apply a policy of crop fumigation, scorched earth and population transfer." ( Weekly News Update on the Americas, Feb. 23)
3. PERU: EX-TERROR CZAR MONTESINOS STANDS TRIAL--AGAIN
The trial of Vladimiro Montesinos, the anti-terrorist czar for Peru's now exiled strongman Alberto Fujimori for 10 years, began on Feb. 18. Montesinos faces 60 counts of corruption, relating to bribery and manipulation of the bureaucracy for personal gain. Long the head of the Peruvian secret police and on the CIA payroll for $1 million a year to help stop cocaine trafficking in Peru (which he is actually now believed to have coordinated), Montesinos will face at least 68 more charges in upcoming trials, including complicity in massacres and disappearances. (AP, Feb. 18)
Montesinos was convicted last year on charges of illegally seizing control of Peru's intelligence apparatus, and already faces nine years in prison. See WW3 REPORT # 46)
NEW YORK CITY
1. MARCH 22 ANTI-WAR MARCH PLANNED--WILL CITY ALLOW MARCH ON U.N.?
United for Peace and Justice, the group which organized the massive Feb. 15 anti-war rally in New York, is applying for a permit for another event for March 22. This time, the group hopes city authorities will grant a permit to march past the UN building. The city refused to grant a permit for a march on Feb. 15, only a "stationary rally," citing security concerns. (Newsday, March 5)
See also WW3 REPORT #73
2. BAD GROUND ZERO REDEVELOPMENT DESIGN GETS EVEN WORSE
Studio Libeskind's plan for the redevelopment of the former WTC site, chosen by city planners last week, is a five-tower office complex with just two redeeming features: a memorial preserving the original WTC foundation (the "bathtub") and a hanging garden in the glass spire atop the crowning 1,776-foot skyscraper. As reported last week, the Port Authority has already eroded that first redeeming feature by claiming some of the bathtub for a bus parking lot. Now, the Lower Manhattan Development Corp. has announced that the garden will be removed from the design (or, optimistically, greatly reduced) to make room for communications equipment. (Newsday, March 4) See also WW3 REPORT #75
3. FEAR ON ATLANTIC AVENUE
Al-Farooq mosque, on Brooklyn's Atlantic Ave., heart of the city's Muslim immigrant community is once again being linked by authorities to terrorism, and some Muslim leaders even say it should be investigated. "Since its opening, this mosque has always been a problem," said Ali Ghaith, a member of the Arab Muslim American Foundation, which represents a dozen mosques in the city, including Al-Farooq. "This is what we are trying to correct, trying to change," Ghaith, a psychiatric counselor, said liberal Muslims like himself have to start asserting themselves more in the affairs of local mosques. "It is very important to weed out these negative elements among ourselves," he asserted--but added that Muslim organizations such as his own should carry out the probe.
The US Justice Department may beat him to the punch, however. Attorney General John Ashcroft announced March 4 that unnamed worshippers at the mosque gave substantial sums of money to a Yemeni Muslim raising money for Osama bin Laden. Representatives of Al-Farooq spoke by phone last week with FBI officials and will likely meet with them ths week, said leaders at the mosque, who did not want to be identified.
In 1990, Egyptian cleric Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman served as the imam, or spiritual leader at the mosque. Rahman was replaced in around 1991, when moderates took over the board of trustees. He was convicted in 1995 of plotting to bomb New York City landmarks. ( See WW3 REPORT 75) But Ghaith remains critical of Al-Farooq's current board of trustees' president, Amin Awad, and its imam, Abderahman Mohamed. Ghaith described Awad as "old-fashioned, conservative and uneducated about the true beliefs of Islam." Awad, a local grocer, responded, "He's wrong," denying any links to terrorism at the mosque. "We helped some poor people, through good organizations that have OK from the [U.S.] government," Awad said. "No such money went to the wrong place." Regarding what he called the "rumors" that money from the mosque went to bin Laden, he said, "Osama bin Laden, he has money. He doesn't need money."
Not all Muslim leaders, however, share Ghaith's enthusiasm for a probe into Al-Farooque. Zein Rimawi, board member of the Arab Muslim American Foundation said that such federal accusations affect mosques adversely. "These days people are already afraid to donate to their mosques to pay the rent or to help our people here. If the situation stays like this, one day we will have to close our mosques." Since the 9-11 attacks, many mosques in New York city including Al-Farooq are having trouble keeping afloat and paying montly expenses. Rimawi's own mosque, the Islamic Society of Bay Ridge had to cut down a two-day, weekend chilren's program to one day because "zaqahs" or mandated contributions to the poor had reduced from $25,000 a year to $14,000.
Nidal Abuasi--a moderate who assumed position on the Al-Farooq board in the early 1990s--said, "I would not believe that [the mosques] would have money to send anywhere. These institutions are limping."
While no bias crimes against Muslims were reported as of Mar 6, fear still pervades Brooklyn's Muslim communities. Rimawi said he was afraid of "young people who when they watch TV, they see these 'terrorist Muslims' and when meet the first Muslim, they want to shoot him. If they keep hearing this about the Muslim community, they will turn against us. This hurts us a lot." (Newsday, March 4, 6, 7)
(Bill Weinberg and Subuhi Jiwani)
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