“THEIR CHILDREN ARE LIKE OUR CHILDREN”

The Mosque that Sheltered Jews

by Annette Herskovits, Turning Wheel

“Yesterday at dawn, the Jews of Paris were arrested. The old, the women, and the children. In exile like ourselves, workers like ourselves. They are our brothers. Their children are like our own children. The one who encounters one of his children must give that child shelter and protection for as long as misfortune—or sorrow—lasts. Oh, man of my country, your heart is generous.”

— A tract read to immigrant Algerian workers in Paris, asking them to help shelter Jewish children

There is in the center of Paris a handsome mosque with a tall slender minaret and lovely gardens. It was built in the 1920s, as an expression of gratitude from France for the over half-million Muslims from its African possessions who fought alongside the French in the 1914-1918 war. About 100,000 of them died in the trenches.

During World War II, when the Germans occupied France, the mosque sheltered resistance fighters and North Africans who had escaped from German POW camps. (The French had recruited 340,000 North African troops into the French army in 1939.) When the French police started rounding up Jews and delivering them to the German occupiers, the mosque sheltered Jews as well, most of them children.

The Nazi program called for eliminating all Jews, of any age. More than 11,600 Jewish children under 16, including 2,000 younger than six, were deported from France to be murdered at camps in eastern Europe. Still, 83% of the Jewish children living in France in 1939 survived. Most were “hidden”—that is, given non-Jewish identities to keep them out of the authorities’ reach. This required massive help from the French people.

Hiding children entailed a complex, extended organization. Rescuers had to get hold of the children, which often meant absconding them from detention centers or Jewish children’s homes in full view of the Nazi occupiers. They had to procure false papers, find shelter (in foster homes, boarding schools, convents), raise funds to pay for upkeep, and send the payments without attracting attention.

They had to keep records, in code, of the children’s true and false names and whereabouts, bring the children to their hiding places in small groups, and visit them regularly to ascertain that they were well treated. Many who participated in this work—both Jews and non-Jews—perished.

Innumerable French citizens provided aid of a less active kind: they remained silent, even when they suspected that children were fugitives. Many of the children were recent immigrants who spoke French with an accent and did not “look” French. A child might disclose his or her true name when surprised—or in defiance. Most at risk were very young children who needed repeated coaching.

I know this because I was a hidden child. When my parents were deported from Paris to Auschwitz in June of 1943, never to return, my 13-year-old sister and myself, just turned four, were in a foster home in the French countryside. With no more money coming for our keep and the danger to people sheltering Jews, our foster parents balked at keeping us. In the fall, I found myself hiding in a shabby Paris hotel room with my 17-year-old brother. My sister became a maid for a French family.

But by winter, thanks to my brother’s astuteness and courage, my sister and I were taken in charge by a clandestine child rescue network, a secular organization in which Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, and communist men and women participated. The organization saved 500 children, including my sister and me. As for my brother, he survived by his wits.

I learned of Muslims who helped rescue Jewish children only recently, in the newsletter of Enfants Cachés (Hidden Children), an association of Jews who survived the Holocaust in France as children.

The mosque-based resistance network consisted of people from Algeria’s mountainous Kabylia regions. Kabyls are one of several North African groups who have preserved their Berber language and culture; the Berbers inhabited North Africa before the Arabs invaded and introduced Islam in the 7th century. At least 95% of Algerian immigrants to France came from Kabylia. In their networks, the Kabyls communicated in their Berber dialect, Tamazight, making infiltration almost impossible.

The soul of the network was the mosque’s rector, Si Kaddour Benghabrit, a man with three nationalities—Algerian, Moroccan, and French—who moved with ease in all three worlds, and whose Islam was tolerant and inclusive.

More than 1,700 people are thought to have found short-term shelter in apartments on or near the grounds of the mosque. Benghabrit set up an alert system that allowed fugitives to disappear swiftly in case of a raid—if necessary to the prayer room’s women’s section, where men were normally not admitted. He wrote numerous false birth certificates making Jewish children into Muslims.

Access to Paris’ sewers directly beneath the mosque’s grounds provided an escape path, as did the mosque’s proximity to the city’s central wine market on the Seine, where barges laden with wine barrels came and went. One woman recalled being taken out of Paris on a barge; a Kabyl at the helm took fugitives concealed in his cargo to the south of France, where they could be smuggled to Algeria or Spain.

The French League against Racism and Anti-Semitism has asked Israel’s Yad Vashem Institute to recognize Benghabrit as one of “The Righteous among the Nations,” a title honoring non-Jews who risked their lives to rescue Jews during the Holocaust. Benghabrit would be the first Muslim to earn this distinction.

***

In these times of mutual hatred, a hatred that is sustained by distorted views of the “other,” the story of Muslims saving Jewish children struck me as one Jews and Arabs especially should hear. This history strengthens my sense that mutuality and harmony make up the natural fabric of human relations. Division and cruelty are like torn places in that fabric. Surely, at certain times and places the tearing can be so thorough that it seems the fabric is not there. But that is an illusion.

My friend Mathis Szykowski, also a Holocaust survivor and a hidden child, testifies to this: “It must be said and repeated that in any account of survival, there are many people who will help, at great risk to themselves, people who appear almost mysteriously, whom you trust instinctively. No one can survive such circumstances by themselves. So it becomes obvious that in life as in death, we are all interdependent.” A human being whose mind has not been distorted by ideology will instinctively help another in danger, especially a child.

Again and again over the years, I have heard stories of help that appeared unexpectedly, almost mysteriously, during those dark days. A friend recalls that when she was 11, living in Czechoslovakia, her parents were taken away by the Gestapo. By chance, she and her nine-year-old sister had been left behind, so they went to Gestapo headquarters themselves and told the guard they wanted to be reunited with their parents. The guard said “Go away!” several times, speaking softly so as not to be overheard, until they left. Somehow they survived. The SS guard had saved their lives.

Enmities between peoples come and go depending on intricate historical, psychological, and economic forces. Political powers will conceal or twist reality to suit their own ends. For most of the 1,400 years since Islam’s birth, Jews and Muslims lived in relative harmony in Arab lands.

Like the Christians, Jews were dhimmis (protected people): Islam protected their lives, property, and right to worship. Jews enjoyed no such rights in the Christian world until the French Revolution. To be sure, dhimmis were placed below Muslims—they had to pay a special tax, could not ride horses, etc.—but the application of these restrictions varied; with enlightened rulers, the Jews prospered.

In his book Le Passé d’une Discorde: Juifs et Arabes du VIIe Siècle à Nos Jours (The Days Before the Breach: Jews and Arabs from the 7th Century to Today), Israeli historian Michel Abitbol writes about “the historical drama which, in less than half a century, ended two thousand years of Jewish life in the Arab countries.” And he describes the “resplendent Judeo-Arab civilization, one whose inexhaustible intellectual and religious riches nourished the entire Jewish world until the dawn of modern times.”

***

On July 16, 1942, Paris police set out to arrest 28,000 Jews on orders of the French Vichy collaborationist government. They had in hand names and addresses, obtained from a census of Jews the Germans had ordered soon after they occupied France. That day and the next, the police fanned out through the city, packing the arrested Jews into requisitioned city buses. They found only 13,000—largely because some police officers had spread the word ahead of time and many Jews had fled. More than 4,000 children aged 2 to 16 were among those arrested.

On the second day, a tract was circulated through the miserable hotels that were home to immigrant Algerian workers. The tract, in Tamazight, was read out loud to the mostly illiterate men: “Yesterday at dawn, the Jews of Paris were arrested. The old, the women, and the children. In exile like ourselves, workers like ourselves. They are our brothers. Their children are like our own children. The one who encounters one of his children must give that child shelter and protection for as long as misfortune—or sorrow—lasts. Oh, man of my country, your heart is generous.”

We can’t know how much help these men were able to give.

***

Most of the children captured in that July raid were taken with their mothers to camps near Paris. There, French police used truncheons and water hoses to separate mothers from the younger children.

The adolescents and their mothers were taken to Drancy (the French camp from where trains departed for the east) and then deported to Auschwitz. The 3,500 younger children left behind had been taken on the initiative of Vichy’s prime minister, Pierre Laval—the Germans had not requested it. The Vichy government waited for Berlin to authorize their deportation. When approval came, the children were packed into boxcars, each with a few adults. All were killed in the gas chambers on arrival.

The thought of such moments of ultimate darkness used to obscure the entire world for me. As I have pieced together the many stories I have heard and read over the years, I became able to simultaneously see light shining in many places. The story of the Muslims who saved Jewish children is one that affirmed that vision.

The words of the Kabyl tract read to poor immigrant men taught me to trust whispers of unity: Those dead children are like myself. They are like my own children. So are the Israeli children killed in bombed-out buses. So are Iraqi children lost as “collateral damage” and the million Palestinian children who every day must struggle with fear—of Israeli soldiers with machine guns, tanks, bulldozers, helicopters, rockets—and the many dead and wounded among them.

With gratitude to Derri Berkani, whose film Une Resistance Inconnu: La Mosquée de Paris introduced me to this story.

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This article initially appeared in Turning Wheel, the journal of the Buddhist Peace Fellowship, and later ran in the February 2005 edition of the San Francisco Bay Area’s Street Spirit.

Resources:

International League Against Racism and Anti-Semitism
http://www.licra.org

From our Daily Report:

Paris: 1961 massacre of Algerians commemorated —and officially denied
World War 4 Report, Oct. 21, 2011

See also:

THE MOSQUE CONTROVERSY —IN CHINA
by Sarkis Pogossian, World War 4 Report
World War 4 Report, September 2010

HOLOCAUST DENIAL IN THE ARAB WORLD
Why It Is On the Rise
by Gilbert Achcar and Pierre Puchot, Mediapart
World War 4 Report, January 2010

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Reprinted by World War 4 Report, Nov. 1, 2011
Reprinting permissible with attribution

Continue Reading“THEIR CHILDREN ARE LIKE OUR CHILDREN” 

CO-RESISTANCE VS. CO-EXISTENCE

by Maath Musleh, Ma’an News Agency

For decades, many powers worked on portraying the Palestinian-Israeli conflict as a problem of co-existence. Millions have been pumped into co-existence projects, projects that have just reinforced relations between the oppressor and the oppressed.

If any had had a little time to read history, they would know that Palestine was actually the land of co-existence for hundreds of years.

It’s the land that hosted the Armenians when they were massacred by the Turks. It’s the land that embraced the Jews who were oppressed in Europe. And the co-resistance that takes place daily here is a clear example that there isn’t any co-existence problem. The real problem is Zionism.

Zionism is not only the enemy of the Palestinians and Arabs, but also, the enemy of the Jews worldwide.

A lot of Jews who were born with Israeli citizenship have realized that Zionism and the Israeli regime is their enemy. It’s our common enemy. Thus, the trend of co-resistance has been evolving for years in Palestine. Jews carrying Israeli citizenship have been part of the popular resistance taking place in Palestine. Co-resistance is a danger to the state of Israel.

Even the mainstream media has been avoiding recognizing those activists as Israelis. The Israeli media refers to them as just “Anarchists.”

Co-resisting with Israeli citizens has been also a sensitive topic in the Palestinian community. A lot of activists fear to fall in the trap of normalization. The basis to this fear is true. The PA and its supporters tried on several occasions to counter Palestinian activists that diverted from the PA’s political path with rumors. They used the fact that Palestinian activists co-operate with their Israeli counterparts to spread distorted rumors of their involvement in normalization work. The involvement of the left Zionists in several demonstrations has added more vagueness to the issue.

We have to be open about the subject now more than ever. We have to set the standards for our co-resistance. Yes we do co-operate with the Jewish citizens of the State of Israel. But the standards of this co-operation are clear. We work together with every Israeli that opposes Zionism and fully recognizes the Palestinian rights, freedom, equality, and the right of the return.

Together with them we co-resist the Israeli occupation and the Zionist enemy. Together we call for the rights of the Palestinians that have been disregarded not only by Israel and western powers, but also by Arab regimes. Some Arab regimes have either prioritized their business interests or just simply lost belief in the possibility of achieving the full Palestinian rights. We still have the belief.

And those rights are indivisible. These are basic human rights. You either believe in it, or you don’t. Freedom, equality, and the right of the return.

As Zionism is also the enemy of the Jews, those Israelis have the right to resist it. Those activists are not only there for solidarity. It’s also their war. The Palestinians who try to portray the co-resistance as normalization have to first go down to the front line and resist. We have nothing to hide. Our work of co-resistance is under the sun. It’s not underground. And we oppose co-operating with the leftist Zionists who take part in demonstrations or call themselves peace activists.

Those left Zionists do not care about the Palestinian rights. They just understood that the occupations’ and settlers’ practices will harm their Zionist dream, a dream that disenfranchises the Palestinians of their rights in their homeland.

The State of Israel clearly does not speak for the Jews. Its practices have started a new wave of hatred towards the Jews worldwide. To help end that wave, the anti-Zionist Jews should file a lawsuit against the State of Israel to forbid it from speaking in the name of Jews. A lot of them have said it before, “Not in our name.” But this shout should be louder. And legal actions should be taken. The concept of co-resistance will continue to grow larger.

The anti-Zionist Israeli activists are heroes and their courage is admirable. Those activists have been marginalized in their own communities. They went through a lot of troubles. They have been always on the front lines. They have been beaten up, shot at, and arrested. They come week after week knowing that they put their own lives in danger. They do it because they have the belief, the belief in rights and humanity.

They have principles, and for that I respect them a lot more than many of my people who have given up. Yes, we co-operate with those activists. They’re our comrades. And this is co-resistance.

—-

Maath Musleh is a Palestinian from Jerusalem and an activist in the Palestinian youth movement. He is a freelance social media consultant and producer.

This story first appeared July 14 on Ma’an News Agency

Resources:

New Jewish Resistance
http://newjewishresistance.org

From our Daily Report:

Israelis march in Jerusalem for an independent Palestine
World War 4 Report, July 16, 2011

See also:

ISRAEL & PALESTINE: COMBATANTS FOR PEACE SPEAK OUT
by Bassam Aramin, Sara Burke and Yaniv Reshef, Peacework
World War 4 Report, January 2010

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Reprinted by World War 4 Report, Nov. 1, 2011
Reprinting permissible with attribution

Continue ReadingCO-RESISTANCE VS. CO-EXISTENCE 

INDIA-BURMA ALIGNMENT AGAINST ETHNIC GUERILLAS

by Nava Thakuria, World War 4 Report

The militant outfits of Northeast India, who are operating from the jungles of northern Burma (Myanmar), have a hard time ahead. As India and Burma have strengthened their strategic relationship, it is understood that Indian separatist groups will face more attacks in Burmese soil. Burmese President Thein Sein’s October visit to India is seen as a signal that the crackdown on the separatists may go intensive in the coming weeks

One of the active armed groups of India, the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA), has admitted that their camps in Burma have been facing offensives from the Burmese military in recent weeks. ULFA military chief Paresh Baruah is reported to have received bullet wounds. The news cannot be confirmed by the Burmese government at Nay Pie Taw, which has little visibility in these remote areas which have in reality been ruled by the arms and drug mafias for decades now. The ULFA report indicates that the Burmese regime may now be moving to clear the region of militant groups.

The Sagaing region (formerly a “division”) of Burma is used for shelter by many militant groups, including the ULFA, the SS Khaplang-led faction of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland, the Manipur People’s Liberation Army (PLA), the United National Liberation Front (UNLF) of Manipur, and the People’s Revolutionary Party of Kangleipak (PREPAK). They each have hundreds of trained cadres in their hideouts in the jungles of northern Burma.

In response to reports, the ULFA asserted that its leader Paresh Baruah had not received any injuries in the offensive, and released a photograph of the elusive ULFA leader. The email statement charged that that the Indian central government in New Delhi had paid a huge amount of arms and money to the Burmese regime to open its offensive against the ULFA.

It is public record that the Indian government had recently supplied 52 military trucks loaded with arms and ammunition to the Burmese government. India has sought to build a strategic and military relationship with the Burmese regime even after receiving brickbats from the international community. Expressing resentment at India’s continued military relationship with Nay Pie Taw, hundreds of pro-democracy Burmese activists and various Indian civil society groups demonstrated in New Delhi on July 22, arguing that “supplying arms to the most brutal military dictatorship may have grave consequences to millions of innocent lives.”

The demonstrators also sent a memorandum to Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh urging him to renew New Delhi’s support of the Burmese people’s movement for restoration of peace and democracy in Burma. Till the early ’90s, the Indian government supported the democratic movement led by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. But later it changed the course and started engaging the military regime then known as the State Peace and Development Council. “We believe that India is a nation founded on sound democratic principles and time and again India has proven to uphold the principles of constitutionally elected governments,” the statement read. “Further, as a nation committed to playing an important, if not pivotal role in maintaining peace in the region, it is unbecoming…to supply arms to countries known for abusing military power.” The letter was signed by nearly hundred Indian civil society groups and Burmese dissident leaders.

The ULFA, which was born in 1979 to win Assam’s independence from India, today is a divided house, as its chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa with his followers have joined in the peace process with New Delhi. However, ULFA’s commander-in-chief Paresh Baruah continues sticking to the primary demand for a Swadhin Asom (Sovereign Assam). The intransigent leader is said to have left Bangladesh recently and now is believed to reside somewhere in Burma-China border areas, where from he leads his self-proclaimed “armed struggle.”

Paresh Baruah’s close associate Arunoday Dahotiya issues e-mails on behalf of the UFLA. He flatly charged that New Delhi “paid a special economic package worth as high as Indian Rupees 20,000 crores [1 crore = 10 million] to flush out the rebel camps from the Burmese soil. Additionally, the Burmese government is offered [by Indian government] Rs 100 crore to kill Paresh Baruah.”

It additionally charged that New Delhi has before paid neighboring countries for such purposes. The Indian government paid a 1,000-crore Rs package to Bhutan to destroy ULFA camps there, Arunoday Dahotiya claimed. Indeed, Bhutanese troops flushed out the ULFA camps in December 2003.

The Indian government is also said to have offered money to the Bangladeshi government with a request to take actions against the ULFA leaders and cadres taking shelter in that country. Accordingly, Dhaka handed over many militant leaders—including ULFA chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa—to the Indian authorities in 2009. Though India and Bangladesh do not have an extradition treaty, the Bangladeshi authorities arrested the militant leaders and secretly handed them over to India. No official statement was issued by the Bangladesh government on the matter, and even the Bangladeshi newspapers had to depend on India’s media to report about on the issue.

Whatever the truth of the UFLA’s claims, Burmese pro-democracy dissidents as well as separatist guerillas may find themselves betrayed by New Delhi’s growing alignment with the military regime.

—-

From our Daily Report:

Burma: eco-dissidents score win over state hydro-hurbis
World War 4 Report, Oct. 2, 2011

India: more terror in Assam
World War 4 Report, Dec. 23, 2008

Maoist terror in Bhutan?
World War 4 Report, Jan. 24, 2008

Oil cartel eyes Nagaland; factional strife in guerilla struggle
World War 4 Report, April 13, 2007

Burma resumes crackdown on Naga guerillas
World War 4 Report, Jan. 12, 2006

From our Archive:

India: “Ultra” Terror Explodes in Northeast
World War 4 Report, October 2004

US-India Terror Summit: Who is the Enemy?
World War 4 Report, September 2004

See also:

WHO IS BEHIND THE ASSAM TERROR?
Converging Conflicts in Northeast India
by Nava Thakuria, World War 4 Report
World War 4 Report, December 2008

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Reprinting permissible with attribution

Continue ReadingINDIA-BURMA ALIGNMENT AGAINST ETHNIC GUERILLAS 

THE BOLIVIA GENOCIDE CASE

Ex-Regime Figures Convicted —as the US Shelters Top Fugitive

by Bill Weinberg, Indian Country Today

Bolivia’s Supreme Court of Justice on Aug. 30 convicted seven former officials on charges of genocide—five military officers and two ex-cabinet ministers. The military officials received sentences of 10–15 years while the former cabinet ministers received three-year terms; none will be allowed to appeal. But Bolivia’s top fugitive in the genocide case—former president Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada—remains at large in the United States, which refuses to extradite.

The cases stem from the “Black October” of 2003, when the army fired on indigenous Aymara protesters at El Alto, the sprawling working-class city on the altiplano above La Paz. For weeks, Aymara had blocked roads across the altiplano to demand a halt to Sánchez de Lozada’s plans for a new pipeline to export natural gas to California on terms that were considered too easy for Shell Oil and other companies. On Oct. 12, the army broke the blockades by force to deliver gasoline to La Paz—leaving 63 dead. In the aftermath, Sánchez de Lozada was forced to step down—and fled for Miami, along with two top cabinet ministers.

“The authors of the crimes are still free,” says Rafael Archondo, charge d’affairs at the Bolivian mission to the UN in New York City. “They have all the freedom that they denied to the people when the people protested against them.”

Trials for the genocide began in 2009, when President Evo Morales—himself an Aymara, and Bolivia’s first indigenous president—ordered the court to begin proceedings against Sánchez de Lozada in absentia. He faces 30 years in prison if convicted. A further 17 ex-officials from his administration also face genocide charges. Several of them have sought refuge in Peru, and Bolivia hopes the new government in Lima will agree to extradite.

But the trial of Sánchez de Lozada cannot be concluded without his presence under Bolivian law. The Morales government has requested extradition of Sánchez de Lozada and two other defendants under a 1995 treaty with the US. A defense lawyer for victims’ families, Rogelio Mayta, issued another public plea for extradition after the recent convictions. However, Washington has consistently refused to extradite. Sánchez de Lozada’s attorneys assert he resides in the US legally and that the prosecutions are political.

The whereabouts of Sánchez de Lozada are not difficult to determine. In October 2005 a group of US activists symbolically served him with a subpoena (in facsimile) at a public event in Washington where he was speaking, organized by Princeton University. He is now believed to be living in Virginia.

Extraditions must be vetted by the Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs before they are approved by the State Department. When asked for a comment on the Sánchez de Lozada case, Justice Department spokesperson Laura Sweeney said that “the department doesn’t confirm or comment on matters of extradition so we would decline to comment.”

Archondo dismisses notions that the defendants would receive unfair treatment in Bolivia, pointing out that the two ex-cabinet members just convicted—former development minister Érick Reyes Villa and former labor minister Adalberto Kuajara —have been allowed to serve their three-year terms under house arrest rather than in prison.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay welcomed the convictions, calling them part of “a very healthy trend towards combatting long-standing impunity” in Latin America.

Archondo says that if the US remains intransigent, Bolivia may call for “international agencies to make an intervention” in the case. He acknowledges that if Bolivia does go to the international community with this case, the “genocide” charge might have to be reconsidered, given the rigorous global standards for this crime. “There was a debate in Bolivia as to whether to characterize this as a genocide,” he says. “Our supreme court decided that charge was applicable in this case. Of course, if it comes to an international trial, the justification for the charge of genocide must be really clear.”

The two other officials Bolivia wants extradited are former defense minister Carlos Sánchez Berzain and former hydrocarbons minister Jorge Berindoague. Sánchez Berzain was granted asylum status in 2008—which sparked an angry march by thousands of El Alto residents on the US embassy in La Paz. Archondo calls Sánchez Berzain the “specific intellectual author” of the Black October massacre. He decries that the ex-defense minister was treated “as if he was somebody who was being punished because of his thinking.”

Archondo says Sánchez Berzain speaks freely to media in US and is widely quoted in the Bolivian press. “What kind of dictatorship would allow this?” he asks.

Archondo points out the Bolivia is the only country with a dictator in prison—Luis García Meza, who seized power in a 1980 coup. “I think this is a good example of how a democracy should deal with history,” he says, calling it part of “the long process of recovering the legitimacy that we have now.”

Recalling the resource issues that underlay the 2003 unrest, Sánchez de Lozada also faces charges in Bolivia of skirting the law in awarding oil contracts to BP, the French giant TotalFinaElf and other multinationals.

But this will remain a sideshow until after Sánchez de Lozada faces the far more serious genocide charges. “To impose order through a massacre, using the armed forces without respect for human rights—this was a terrible episode in our history, and we cannot forget this,” concludes Archondo. “This is a wound in our democratic body. When one day, the Bolivian peoples can say that Sánchez de Lozada has been punished, it will be a very important step for your democracy.”

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This story first ran Sept. 15 on Indian Country Today.

From our Daily Report:

Bolivia: high court convicts seven officials of genocide
World War 4 Report, Sept. 1, 2011

See also:

TROTSKYGRAD ON THE ALTIPLANO
by Bill Weinberg, NACLA Report on the Americas
World War 4 Report, May 2011

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Reprinted by World War 4 Report, Nov. 1, 2011
Reprinting permissible with attribution

Continue ReadingTHE BOLIVIA GENOCIDE CASE 

OCCUPY TIJUANA TESTS RIGHTS

from Frontera NorteSur

Inspired by the Occupy Wall Street movement, a protest in Tijuana is shaping up to be a test between the right of citizens to assemble peacefully and the desire of authorities to maintain public order.

In the wee hours of the morning of Tuesday, Oct. 18, dozens of state, municipal and possibly federal police officers raided Occupy Tijuana’s encampment in the border city’s Plaza Rio zone and arrested 27 people, mostly young professionals and students, for violating city ordinances like urinating in public and allegedly possessing drugs. Some of the detained individuals were then paraded in front of a judge and either slapped with fines amounting to be about $80.00 each or ordered to perform community service.

Tijuana Mayor Carlos Bustamante Anchondo later defended the police action, arguing that if protesters wanted to demonstrate they should have picked a safe place and not be in a position to physically expose themselves in public. Bustamante contended that the site of the protest encampment, a median across from Plaza Rio, was a congested, public thoroughfare. “The criticism is that [protesters] could cause an accident or worse,” Bustamante said.

The Tijuana mayor rejected contentions that excessive force was used in removing the demonstrators, adding that some of the young people camped out were consuming alcohol. However, Bustamante confirmed that he was not present at the scene of the eviction.

“We are students, lawyers, anthropologists, sociologists, artists, workers; we are the 99 percent,” the protesters said shortly after last week’s break-up of their encampment. “We are not paid killers, delinquents, bums or ninis” (Mexican slang for young people who do not work or study).

Stories and video clips covering the eviction and the Occupy Tijuana movement have been posted on You Tube.

In a press statement, the non-governmental Northwest Citizen Human Rights Commission protested that Occupy Tijuana’s rights to peaceful assembly, redress of grievances and due process of law were violated by the police raid. While carrying out the eviction, some officers were hooded and did not display official identification, the Mexican human rights advocates charged. In addition to trampling on constitutional guarantees, the Oct. 18 police raid violated international treaties, the statement asserted.

“It’s worrisome that the civil authority reacts in this way to citizen protests, inflicting an injury that is added to the climate of violence and insecurity which the country is going through,” the citizen commission said. “We don’t know the motive which prompted the authorities to repress the rights of assembly and association, but it is noteworthy that there was a convergence of the three levels of government to carry out the eviction of the demonstrators.”

The Northwest Citizen Human Rights Commission demanded a legal investigation of eviction, and called on the official human rights commissions of Mexico and Baja California to likewise probe the matter. The group also urged Baja California Governor José Guadalupe Osuna Millan to uphold the constitutional rights of the citizenry and punish those responsible for human rights violations. Copies of the press statement were addressed to other state and local officials, as well as to Javier Hernández Valencia, Mexico representative for the United Nations High Commissioner on Human Rights.

Heriberto García, Baja California human rights ombudsman, has initiated an investigation of the Oct. 18 incident.

Occupy Tijuana was expected to resume its protest against global economic policies and war on the weekend of Oct. 22.

—-

This story first ran Oct. 22 by Frontera NorteSur.

Resources:

Oct. 18 statement from Ocupemos Tijuana online at Kaosenlared.net

Ocupemos Tijuana / Occupy TJ
YouTube

Tijuana Police Arrest Occupy Tijuana / Ocupemos Tijuana Protesters
YouTube

From our Daily Report:

Downtown Oakland explodes as police evict occupiers
World War 4 Report, Oct. 26, 2011

Occupy Wall Street protests go global
World War 4 Report, Oct. 16, 2011

See also:

LOVE, STRUGGLE AND MEMORY IN CIUDAD JUAREZ
by Kent Paterson, Frontera NorteSur
World War 4 Report, July 2011

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Reprinted by World War 4 Report, Nov. 1, 2011
Reprinting permissible with attribution

Continue ReadingOCCUPY TIJUANA TESTS RIGHTS 
North America

Downtown Oakland explodes as police evict occupiers

Police fired tear gas into a crowd of several hundred protesters backing the Occupy movement who attempted to retake an encampment outside Oakland City Hall that officers had cleared 12 hours earlier using smoke grenades and arresting 75.