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Military Resistance

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1.20.12

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Military Resistance 10B14

Marchers Come Out Against Tyrant Assad In Damascus:
“The Biggest Demonstration Witnessed Close To The Heart Of The Capital Since The Country’s Uprising Started 11 Months Ago”

“The Neighborhood, Mezze, Skirts The Hill On Which The Sprawling White Presidential Palace Sits”
“I Hope President Assad Opens The Window Of His Office And Sees How Damascenes Are Shouting Against Him And His Regime”
“The Regime Thought We Were Asleep, But It Doesn’t Know That When We Wake Up His Regime Will Be Gone”
The demonstration started small outside the main mosque around 10:30 a.m. Saturday, but it gradually swelled as more and more men and women from the neighborhood joined in, witnesses and activists said. 19 February 2012 Neil MacFarquhar, The New York Times [Excerpts]. Hwaida Saad contributed reporting from Beirut, and an employee of The New York Times from Damascus, Syria. Hundreds and hundreds of antigovernment protesters braved scattered gunfire from Syrian soldiers to march through a middle-class neighborhood in Damascus on Saturday, the biggest demonstration witnessed close to the heart of the capital since the country’s uprising started 11 months ago. The neighborhood, Mezze, skirts the hill on which the sprawling white presidential palace sits, and as row upon row of demonstrators walked along, wrapped tightly in heavy coats amid a snowstorm, more than a few expressed the wish that President Bashar al-Assad could hear them. “I hope President Assad opens the window of his office and sees how Damascenes are shouting against him and his regime,” said Usama, 22, a university student from the neighborhood, giving only his first name out of fear of retribution. “The regime thought we were asleep, but it doesn’t know that when we wake up his regime will be gone.” The relative calm of Damascus, as well as Aleppo, Syria’s largest city, throughout the uprising has been cited repeatedly by the Assad government to buttress its argument that it enjoys wide support in Syria.

Officials maintain that the demonstrations and unrest in rebellious cities like Homs, Hama and Dara’a, all sites of brutal government crackdowns, are the work of foreign infiltrators. That argument will be much harder to sustain if mainstream, middle-class districts of the capital like Mezze begin rising up to demonstrate, as it did on Saturday. The march was prompted by the deaths of three men at a smaller protest a day earlier. Several marchers said it was one thing to deploy tanks in provincial cities to fight antigovernment protesters, but it would be impossible to say that foreign armed gangs had penetrated an area close to the presidential palace. “If the rallies have reached Damascus and are big enough, we will no longer need an armed revolution,” said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an opposition group based in Britain. Some demonstrators carried palm fronds, spotted on videos of the event posted on YouTube, to indicate their peaceful intent. The observatory said a Damascus demonstrator was killed by gunfire from the security forces, which also used sound grenades and tear gas in a vain attempt to disperse the march. Around Syria, at least 14 other people were also reported killed on Saturday. Ten soldiers killed in antigovernment violence around the country were buried on Saturday, the official Syrian Arab News Agency reported. In Mezze, dozens of demonstrators were also arrested, as security forces chased them into alleyways and searched houses, according to witnesses and activists. The Mezze neighborhood houses important government and private offices, including the Ministry of Information and the cellphone company MTN, as well as many foreign missions. The Iranian mission, with its distinctive Persian blue tile exterior, was a focus of demonstrators’ ire. “This is the embassy of the armed gangs,” said one voice on camera in a video posted on YouTube, mocking the boilerplate accusations the Syrian government has issued against demonstrators. Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps is believed to have trained the Syrian security forces in crowd control, and many Syrians believe that Iranian troops are helping as well. “We are demonstrating here, very close to Iran’s embassy, to say to the Iranians, ‘Look, we are peaceful protesters who want democracy, dignity and freedom,’ “ said Fadi, a 24year-old protester interviewed in Mezze on Friday.

During a smaller demonstration after the Friday Prayer sermon at the largest neighborhood mosque, three men were shot dead by security forces, and it was their funeral that prompted Saturday’s outpouring. Some activists burned posters of Mr. Assad and chanted for him to step down. The demonstration started small outside the main mosque around 10:30 a.m. Saturday, but it gradually swelled as more and more men and women from the neighborhood joined in, witnesses and activists said. In other parts of the country, women have all but disappeared from demonstrations as violence has intensified. The government put on a show of force on Saturday that included security cars and military trucks filled with soldiers. But it avoided rolling out the tanks as it has in other cities. That would be interpreted as a sign of weakness in the capital, and particularly in Mezze, a residential neighborhood in the shadows of the palace that is heavily populated with Alawites, the minority sect to which Mr. Assad belongs and that dominates some of the most elite Syrian security forces. The videos showed a dense sea of protesters in central Mezze. Some of those participating said they were driven to act by the escalating violence around the country; too many people were dying in places like Homs for Damascenes to sit home and do nothing, they said.

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“Afraid Of What? Death? No, We No Longer Fear Death. We Have Tasted Freedom”
“For The First Time In My Life, I Am Surrounded By Men With Guns In Military Uniforms, And I Am Not Afraid. For The First Time In My Life, I Feel Protected”

“The Men She Speaks Of Are The Defected Soldiers Who Joined The Free Syrian Army”
“This Is What The Revolution Has Done. It Gave Us Back Our Country”
Murder, torture, rape, looting, oppression, fear — all these words belong to Syria now. Not because of outside forces, not because of “armed gangs,” not because of a conspiracy, but because of the brutality of the relentless Syrian regime. Feb 16 2012 by Amal Hanano, Jadaliyya [Excerpts] Nadia’s name has been changed for her protection. ***************************************************************************** Nadia is a beautiful young lady from a prominent family in Homs. Every day for months, she would stare at her closet in agony; she had nothing to wear. Her behavior was typical of millions of girls her age around the world, but unlike those millions of girls, she wasn’t on her way to meet friends, go to a party, or spend the day shopping. She was going to a protest. She said her wardrobe decision was difficult because she had to choose an outfit that was fitting enough for a protest, modest enough for detainment, and honorable enough to die in. When I spoke to her a couple months ago, I asked her, “Aren’t you afraid?” She said, “Afraid of what? Death? No, we no longer fear death. We have tasted freedom. We know what it is like not to be afraid. For the first time in my life, I am surrounded by men with guns in military uniforms, and I am not afraid. For the first time in my life, I feel protected.” The men she speaks of are the defected soldiers who joined the Free Syrian Army. They would form a protective circle around the crowds of chanting civilians. That human shield allowed the dense, daily protests of Homs to continue for months. Protests that no longer exist in a city under siege. A few weeks after we spoke, fear returned to Homs and to Nadia’s life.

One day, they heard security forces were searching the neighborhood, looking for protesters and defectors in hiding, while spreading their usual dose of intimidation. Two girls who were alone in the house beneath Nadia’s rushed upstairs—they were terrified of being alone when the security forces came. Soon a group of men knocked on Nadia’s door and marched inside. While they spoke, the men eyed the group of girls. Nadia later said, “They looked at me in a way that shamed me in front of my father.” They asked for everyone’s ID cards. The neighbors’ girls did not have their cards with them. The men said, “We will go down with you to get them.” They trembled with fear but acted as if they were not afraid at all. Nadia’s father asked the men to sit down for coffee, he told them firmly he would accompany them to get the girls’ IDs. The men were taken aback by this small act of kindness but they also knew the father was not going to leave the girls or his family alone with them without a fight. They drank their coffee and left without asking for the girls’ IDs. The girls were physically untouched but still shaken. Nadia’s mother fainted, as they listened to the thumping of boots slowly fade down the staircase. Nadia’s family lives in a well-established neighborhood called Insha’at. Rows of ordered buildings stand proudly along clean, wide promenades. It’s a neighborhood where not only does everyone know everyone else, but they are most likely related. The neighborhood itself is described as an extended family of the most prominent names of Homs: Atassi, Jandali, Rifai, and others. They were highly educated, well-off, and proud to be from Homs. Some of the Insha’at families had already fled from the violence in the past months. They locked their doors and went to Beirut, Dubai, America, anywhere—to wait out the revolution. But many had remained. They stayed not because they did not have anywhere else to go; they stayed because they chose to.

“They Were Determined To Be Part Of The Revolution That Has Personally Affected Almost Every Family In Homs”
They were determined to be part of the revolution that has personally affected almost every family in Homs. They were determined to live through the hardship. Nadia’s family was one of those families who said they would never leave Homs or the revolution behind. For the past two weeks, they have lived in terror. They wake up to the shelling that pounds neighboring Baba Amr all day and fall asleep to the sound of sniper gunfire and emergency wails from the mosques. Last week a shell hit their home, breaking the windows, they covered the empty frames with sheets of plastic.

Last week they survived sixty consecutive hours without electricity, living off of whatever hadn’t yet rotted in the freezer and the diminishing non-perishables in the cupboards. When the shelling intensified, they huddled in the basement with the rest of the neighbors. Nadia and her parents sat as close to each other as possible. When they would dare to go up to their home—to get something they needed or check if the telephone lines were working. They walked up the stairs together, the three of them sharing each step. Nadia said they were worried a rocket would hit their home and one of them would survive just because they were a step ahead or behind. They were planning to die together. On Saturday, they heard shouts over loudspeakers. The army ordered the people of Insha’at: leave or die. They were given two hours to evacuate their homes, warning them to leave the doors open and not take anything with them. Insha’at’s tall buildings that look over Baba Amr were perfect for sniper nests. The comfortable apartments were also perfect for the army to loot and upgrade their living arrangements. Nadia’s family walked out of the house she and her siblings were born in, a house filled with decades of a family’s memories and material treasures. A house that was their life. They descended the staircase for the last time together, weeping with each step. Not knowing if they would ever return. They joined the others on the street. She described the scene, “I wish I never opened the door and saw my streets. Destroyed cars and broken trees; bodies under the rubble of buildings. We left them our home, and our lives, so they can occupy them and use them to hit Baba Amr. There are trucks parked in the streets already being filled with furniture from our homes. People run in the street with their barefooted children because their building was just hit. I saw an old woman holding a finger, kissing it. That is all she has left of her son, who was buried under the rubble of their building where they could not get him out.” Syrian-American woman told me the story of her family who lives on the border of Insha’at and Baba Amr. She had begged them for weeks to leave Homs, but her uncle told her, “There is no way we are leaving the people behind just because we can escape.” But their building was bombed on Friday, and they had to leave. Their car had been crushed by tanks like all the other cars in the neighborhood. Her elderly uncle carried his ninety-year-old mother on his back down the street, because they feared she would stumble and fall. A fall that would be deadly in a city void of any medical care.

She said her young relative was kicked out of her house six weeks ago. The army walked into her apartment to check the windows and the view—to decide whether they wanted it or not. “She was petrified, she had young kids, so she just grabbed her stuff and took off.” They never went back to their home. She calls her family displaced. “I do not know how many people are living in random people’s houses.” Nadia’s family walked to the checkpoint at the end of the street, ducking each time they heard the sniper bullets fired above their heads. At the checkpoint they were searched, item by item. Nadia had a small bag with only her pajamas. Buses stood by, ready to take the people to safe houses across Homs, to be taken in by whoever would (or could) welcome them. Not everyone made it the checkpoint. One family of three, a man, his wife, and his sister, was gunned down in front of their building after being promised safe passage. Maybe they took too long to leave or maybe they were just an example to the rest or maybe they were merely a shooting exercise for the snipers. Nadia’s family headed towards a relative’s empty home. In normal circumstances, this journey would be a five-minute walk. That day it took them much longer, as they passed through checkpoint after checkpoint, being searched over and over, to make sure they had not taken any valuables from their home. They were officially homeless. They walked down streets they no longer recognized. Because this is the Insha’at today. Although Insha’at borders Baba Amr, before the revolution that border was an invisible but hard line that separated two worlds: the privileged and the underprivileged. Insha’at depended on Baba Amr for services, and Baba Amr depended on Insha’at for jobs. Since the revolution began, that line slowly dissolved as the people of Homs united together in protests. The people of Insha’at sent food and supplies to Baba Amr. They called to check on the safety of their housekeepers and chauffeurs as often as they called their own family members across the city. Members of prominent families like Atassi and Jundi were imprisoned and murdered along with the sons and daughters from humbler backgrounds. Today, Insha’at is targeted along with Baba Amr, al-Khalediyyeh and al-Tawzii al-Ijbari. And now they suffer together. Activist Rami Abu Maryam in Baba Amr told me (via Skype) that the situation in Baba Amr today is dire. “There are no medical supplies except gauze and cotton, and now almost only cotton is left. The wounded who are in need of operations are in bad shape.

For instance, we have amputation cases which we can’t do right now. Every day someone dies because they are injured or they need medicine.” He said food supplies are also running dangerously low, “We’ve lived on burghul now for five days. There is no bread. There is no flour. There is no milk for babies.” Another activist adds, “No one can leave Insha’at or Baba Amr,” because as he says, “between every sniper and sniper, there’s a sniper.”

“If There Is Anything This Revolution Taught Us, It’s That Syrians Are No Longer Separated By Bonds Of Loyalty To Their Cities And Segregated Neighborhoods”
Before I ended the Skype call with the activists, I told them what they were doing was heroic and epic. I told them that the entire world was watching Baba Amr. And I told them that I wished I were with them. Abu Maryam said, “If you were with us, you would have ran away!” We all laughed. When they found out I was from Aleppo, I told them I wished I were from Homs. He said, “We will give you an honorary Homsi citizenship.” I was delighted by their offer. But the truth is, none of us needs an honorary Homsi citizenship. We already consider ourselves to be part of the city. We know its neighborhoods and its people like we never did before. If there is anything this revolution taught us, it’s that Syrians are no longer separated by bonds of loyalty to their cities and segregated neighborhoods. Just as Baba Amr bleeds into Insha’at, Homs bleeds into the rest of Syria. Anti-aircraft tanks, plastered with posters of Bashar al-Assad, entered Douma, a suburb of Damascus, on Saturday randomly shooting at anything in range. The man films the scene and says in a voice shaking with both fear and resolve, “For you Homs. Shoot us instead.” In Baba Amr, citizen journalist, Khaled abu Salah stood in a shelter with a group of children who apologized for not being able to protest the last eight days while they were under siege. So they had an indoor protest and began with a chant for Aleppo. In Aleppo, brave university students chant for Baba Amr and Homs. Across Syria, cities greet one other with their chants. Every city chants for Homs and Homs echoes their support. This is what the revolution has done. It gave us back our country. Exodus, nuzooh, has become the latest word Assad has added to our Syrian vocabulary. Refugee was also a word we did not know until recently, and now we have thousands. Murder, torture, rape, looting, oppression, fear — all these words belong to Syria now. Not because of outside forces, not because of “armed gangs,” not because of a conspiracy, but because of the brutality of the relentless Syrian regime.

In the last eleven months, other words that were not part of our vocabulary have emerged as well, like determination, courage, and sacrifice. And resilience. An activist asked me, “How else do you explain how an army can attack Baba Amr with tanks and planes for over ten days and Baba Amr is still standing?” Yesterday, Baba Amr was in flames after a fuel pipeline explosion that covered Homs with a cloud of thick, black smoke. A new constitution of “reform” and “rights” is being drafted in Damascus as the shells fall over Hama, Idleb, and Zabadani. Who will have the last word? I do not know. But I do know there is a girl who sleeps in a bedroom that is not her own, while strangers occupy her home. I know that she knows her family is still one of the fortunate ones. Now, she literally has nothing to wear. She has nothing but her unwavering belief in the resilience of Homs.

DO YOU HAVE A FRIEND OR RELATIVE IN MILITARY SERVICE?
Forward Military Resistance along, or send us the address if you wish and we’ll send it regularly. Whether in Afghanistan or at a base in the USA, this is extra important for your service friend, too often cut off from access to encouraging news of growing resistance to the wars and economic injustice, inside the armed services and at home. Send email requests to address up top or write to: The Military Resistance, Box 126, 2576 Broadway, New York, N.Y. 10025-5657. Phone: 888.711.2550

GET MILITARY RESISTANCE NEWSLETTER BY EMAIL
If you wish to receive Military Resistance immediately and directly, send request to contact@militaryproject.org. There is no subscription charge.

ACTION REPORTS

“Troops, As Per Usual, Were Friendly”
[Outreach To New York Army National Guard]
From: Alan S To: Military Resistance Newsletter Subject: Outreach To New York Army National Guard Date: Feb 15, 2012 After a series of miscommunications which produced non-outreach in past months, Saturday, 2/11/12, made up for those errors in heartening fashion. Well over 200 soldiers of combined New York National Guard units began appearing for 8 am assembly at around 6:30. Two of us, a Military Resistance member and an ally began greeting troops at approximately 6:45, an hour later than we’ve been doing for over ten years now for morning drills. We managed over a course of an hour to distribute 110 lit packets (2/11 National Guard Newsletter, GI Rights Pamphlet, F. Bouthillette’s Appeal to Troops and the Military Resistance/IVAW introductory card [see below]), 44 DVDs of “Sir! No Sir!” and 25 (of 50) brownies. Except for the latter, sometimes declined for sugar content and/or weight concerns, we had nothing left by 7:45 – a rare result for us (we usually have a dozen or two items left over) and success by any standard. One of us posted at each of the two gates and could clearly see one another at all times. Troops, as per usual, were friendly with many young and new (to us) faces appearing plus an old friend who’s been supportive of our efforts for years. The old friend was afraid of coming war with Iran, being sensitive to aggressive U.S. government Imperial policies. We discussed that issue briefly before he took a handout and went to drill inside. We hope to be ready for another outreach next month so stay tuned for exact date and time. Over the year we’ve met at 5:45 am but if this was any indication, 6:45 is just as good – if not better. Lastly, thanks to all who made this possible. We go on.

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[Cards designed by Richie M, Military Resistance Organization]

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ACTION REPORTS WANTED: FROM YOU!
An effective way to encourage others to support members of the armed forces organizing to resist the Imperial war is to report what you do. If you’ve carried out organized contact with troops on active duty, at base gates, airports, or anywhere else, send a report in to Military Resistance for the Action Reports section. Same for contact with National Guard and/or Reserve components. They don’t have to be long. Just clear, and direct action reports about what work was done and how. If there were favorable responses, say so.

If there were unfavorable responses or problems, don’t leave them out. Reporting what went wrong and/or got screwed up is especially important, so that others may learn from you what to expect, and how to avoid similar problems if possible. If you are not planning or engaging in outreach to the troops, you have nothing to report.

NOTE WELL:
Do not make public any information that could compromise the work. Identifying information – locations, personnel – will be omitted from the reports. Whether you are serving in the armed forces or not, do not identify members of the armed forces organizing to stop the wars. If accidentally included, that information will not be published. The sole exception: occasions when a member of the armed services explicitly directs identifying information be published in reporting on the action.

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The Military Resistance Organization:
Military Resistance Mission Statement:
1. The mission of Military Resistance is to bring together in one organization members of the armed forces and civilians in order to give aid and comfort to members of the armed forces who are organizing to end the war of empire in Afghanistan. The long term objective is to assist in eliminating all wars of empire by eliminating all empires.

2. Military Resistance does not advocate individual disobedience to orders or desertion from the armed forces. The most effective resistance is organized by members of the armed forces working together. However, Military Resistance respects and will assist in the defense of troops who see individual desertion or refusal of orders as the only course of action open to them for reasons of conscience.

3. Military Resistance stands for the immediate, unconditional withdrawal of all U.S. and other occupation troops from Iraq and Afghanistan. Occupied nations have the right to independence and the right to resist Imperial invasion and occupation by force of arms.

4. Efforts to increase democratic rights in every society, organization, movement, and within the armed forces itself will receive encouragement and support. Members of the armed forces, whether those of the United States or any other nation, have the right and duty to act against dictatorships commanding their services, and to assist civilian movements against dictatorship. This applies whether a political dictatorship is imposed by force of arms or a political dictatorship is imposed by those in command of the resources of society using their wealth to purchase the political leadership.

5. Military Resistance uses organizational democracy. This means control of the organization by the membership, through elected delegates to any coordinating bodies that may be formed, whether at local, regional, or national levels. Any member may run for any job in the organization. All persons elected are subject to immediate recall, by majority vote of the membership. Coordinating bodies report their actions, decisions and votes to the membership who elected them, and may be overruled by a majority of the membership.

6. It is not necessary for Military Resistance to be in political agreement with other organizations in order to work together towards specific common objectives. It is productive for organizations working together on common projects to discuss differences about the best way forward for the movement. Debate is necessary to arrive at the best course of action.

Membership Requirements:
7. It is a condition of membership that each member prioritize and participate in organized action to reach out to active duty armed forces, Reserve and/or National Guard units. 8. Military Resistance or individual members may choose to support candidates for elective office who are for immediate withdrawal from Afghanistan, but do not support a candidate opposed to immediate, unconditional withdrawal. 9. Members may not be active duty or drilling reserve commissioned officers, or employed in any capacity by any police or intelligence agency, local, state, or national.

10. I understand and am in agreement with the above statement. I pledge to defend my brothers and sisters, and the democratic rights of the citizens of the United States, against all enemies, foreign and domestic. ----------------------------(Signed (Date) ----------------------------- (Application taken by) Military Resistance: Contact@militaryproject.org Box 126, 2576 Broadway, New York, N.Y. 10025-5657 888-711-2550

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You Can Take Action That Makes A Difference:
Join The Military Resistance Organization:
MILITARY RESISTANCE MEMBERSHIP APPLICATION
Name (please print): __________________________ Armed Forces? (Branch) ____________ Veteran? Years: ____________ Union: ____________________ Occupation: _________________________________________ Mailing address: ______________________________________ E-Mail:_____________________________ Phone (Landline):_______________________________________ Phone (Cell):___________________________________________ $ dues paid _________________________ (See next: Calendar year basis.)

Armed Forces Members Civilians Students/Unemployed Civilian/Military Prisoners

@ @ @ @

Dues waived $25 $10 Dues Waived

Comments:

NOTE: Civilian applicants will be interviewed, in person if possible, or by phone.

Military Resistance: Contact@militaryproject.org Box 126, 2576 Broadway, New York, N.Y. 10025-5657 888-711-2550

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“People Need Not Be Helpless Before The Power Of Illegitimate Authority”
MILITARY RESISTANCE:
Box 126, 2576 Broadway, New York, N.Y. 10025-5657 Contact@militaryproject.org [Based on a statement by David Cortright, Vietnam Veteran and armed forces resistance organizer.] In the final analysis the stationing of American forces abroad serves not the national interest but the class interest of the corporate and political elite. The maintenance of a massive, interventionist-oriented military establishment is based on the need to protect multinational investment and preserve regimes friendly to American capital. Imperialism is at the heart of the national-security system and is the force fundamentally responsible for the counterrevolutionary, repressive aims of U.S. policy. Only if we confront this reality and challenge it throughout society and within the ranks can we restore democratic control of the military. Of course nothing can be accomplished without citizen involvement and active political struggle.

During the Vietnam era enlisted servicemen created massive pressures for change, despite severe repression, and significantly altered the course of the war and subsequent military policy. To sustain and strengthen this challenge we must continue to build political opposition to interventionism and support those within the armed services, including national guard and reserves, who defy the goals and program of Empire. The central lesson of the GI movement is that people need not be helpless before the power of illegitimate authority, that by getting together and acting upon their convictions people can change society and, in effect, make their own history. The Military Project Military Resistance: Contact@militaryproject.org Box 126, 2576 Broadway, New York, N.Y. 10025-5657 888-711-2550

OCCUPATION PALESTINE

Heroic Zionist Navy Makes War On Fishermen In Occupied Palestine:
“All The Fishermen Suffer From This Situation, We Face All These Troubles In The Sea”
“We Are Under Siege In The Sea, In The Air, And On Our Land.”
“He Has Worked As A Fisherman Since He Was 13 Years Old. ‘This Is My Work. I Will Continue To Work In The Sea,’ Concludes Ahmed”

Adham Mahmoud Abo Ryada, 22 years old, and Mohammed Mahmoud Abo Ryada, 13 years old | Photo courtesy of Rosa Schiano, 2012 February 17, 2012 by Rosa Schiano, International Solidarity Movement. Rosa Schiano is a volunteer with International Solidarity Movement. In the past few days five Gazan fishermen have been arrested by the Israeli Navy off the north coast of Gaza. Adham Mahmoud Abu Ryada, 22, and his brother Mohammed Mahmoud Abu Ryala, 13, were both arrested on Sunday evening. Jamal Ramadan Al Sultan, 58 and his son Fadel Jamal Al-Sultan, 21, were arrested on Monday morning. Ahmed Mohammed Zayed, 27, was arrested on Tuesday morning. Last night we visited the family of Adham and Mohammed Abu Ryada in Beach Camp, Gaza City. Gaza is without power, they welcomed us in a room lit only by candlelight. Their father started telling us their story. It was 7 PM on Sunday evening when the two boys were gathering their nets from the sea to sail home. A strong wind had pushed the boat over three nautical miles from the coast. The Israeli Navy came close to their boat and started shooting. They tried to escape but they couldn’t. The Israeli soldiers, as they usually do, asked them to undress, to dive into the water and come on board the navy ship. Once they were on the ship, the soldiers blindfolded them and tied their hands.

They could not see anything until they reached the port of Ashdod in Israel, at around 10 or 11 PM. The soldiers led them into a room where they remained for 30 minutes. Then the soldiers checked their bodies with an electronic device and questioned them. During interrogation, they asked them questions about the police in the port of Gaza and to “collaborate” with Israel. They also asked if their neighbors were involved in activities against Israel. Adham said he did not know anything. After the interrogation, the soldiers took them on a bus to a crossing point unknown to them. After an hour and a half they were put on another bus and the soldiers left them at Erez to walk home. The two brothers slept outside the gate. Their clothes were thin, they were cold, Adham tried to cover his little brother. The soldiers on the ship had given them only a couple of t-shirts of very thin cloth. They did not know which way to go. So they slept till 6.00 AM, and then, in the daylight, they walked to the Palestinian security office. Finally, Adham could contact one of his brothers who came to pick them up. His young brother, Mohammed, sits with his eyes wide open. He’s telling us that Israeli soldiers asked him, trying to make him afraid, saying, “What will your father tell you when you return without the boat?” Mohammed says he doesn’t want to work as a fisherman anymore. “After my experience, I do not want to be a fisherman, I’m afraid. It’s the first time I saw something like that; I will not be a fisherman.” He has been fishing with his brothers since he was six years old. Mohammed shows a small wound on his left leg, he was injured while climbing onto the Israeli naval vessel. His father says, “We can’t do anything. We can no longer work. Our life has stopped.” Eighteen people relied on that boat. The soldiers took everything, nets and fish. The soldiers told them, “We will call you to return your boat.” But they know that it will never happen. “We want our nets back, we want to go on fishing and we would like them to let us live,” adds their father. ***************************************************************

Ramadan Al Sultan, 58 and Ahmed Mohammed Zayed, 27 | Photos courtesy Rosa Schiano, 2012 Yesterday we went to Beit Lahia to visit the family of the two other fishermen, arrested on Monday morning, while fishing in the waters north of Gaza. Jamal Ramadan Al Sultan is a 58 year old man. His eyes are intensely expressive. With him is also another fisherman arrested on Tuesday morning, Ahmed Mohammed Zayed, 27 years. In spite of the veil of sadness covering their eyes, they tell us their story with a sense of humor, their strength. Ahmed starts sharing with us his experience. He was alone on his rowing boat. He was arrested on Tuesday morning at 6.00 AM. He was collecting his nets on his boat before coming home. An Israeli naval ship approached the vessel and asked him to stop. He tried to escape but the Israeli soldiers started shooting. They hit two floats for his net on his boat. Ahmed stopped. They asked him to undress and jump into the water. Ahmed refused to jump in the water because he cannot swim well. The soldiers started firing again. He was forced to jump in the water and they threw him a life preserver. Once on the ship, the soldiers tied his hands and blindfolded him. They started moving slowly toward Ashdod. He felt pain in his wrists because they had been handcuffed very tightly. He asked the soldiers to loosen the handcuffs and take the blindfold off. They reached the port of Ashdod and took him into a room where he remained for 30 minutes. Then, they

checked his hands with an electronic device and checked his blood pressure. Ahmed was then questioned. The first question was about his family, the number and names of his brothers. Ahmed forgot to tell the name of the last brother, who was born recently. The soldiers then started accusing him to be a liar, “You’re a liar, what about Youssef? He’s a month old!” Ahmed replied: “No, he’s two months old.” Then they asked information about his district and the harbor police. One of the people who was questioning him asked, “Do you want me to tell you things?” Implying they already knew everything to intimidate him, those who questioned him already knew all about his family. Then Ahmed replied: “Why are you asking me if you already know everything?” “Because I want to know if you are a liar or not,” the interrogator answered. Then they showed him a large map and started questioning about some areas in Gaza. They also asked questions about a water treatment plant. Ahmed told them, “That’s a waterworks.” “No, it’s a waste facility,” they replied. They continued asking information about the port police in Soudania and about the port office in Gaza. Then, they pointed on the map to the area where he lives. One of the people questioning him pointed to his brother’s shop. They told him, “Where do you want to go?” and they showed him the spot where his car was parked. Then they asked him if he wanted to go to an area called Birlnaaja, Ahmed replied “I do not know that area.” Then, they asked for his phone number. Ahmed replied he had lost his phone, but he could tell them his number. Then they asked for his family’s phone numbers. Ahmed said he could not remember the phone numbers of his family members. The person who questioned him told him he was a liar and said, “I want to have your phone number to return the boat back to you.” Ahmed gave him the number of the phone he had lost. Then, the person who was questioning him called a soldier to take him away and put a blindfold on him. Ahmed said he could not keep the blindfold on because he suffers from an eye problem. The soldier answered, “These are the orders, but I will not tie it too tightly,” then he added “Take care of your wife and your children” and asked Ahmed to become “friends.” To become “friends” means to provide them with information, to become “collaborators” with Israel. Ahmed said “No, I do not want that”. He asked him if he was happy.

Ahmed replied, “If you release me now and I lose the boat, I will still be happy without your friendship.” The person who was questioning then asked him to take a taunting message to the Internal Security of Hamas: “You cannot work with computers now, because you have no electricity”. Then the soldiers led Ahmed in the same room where he was before. Ahmed told them he was not feeling well. A soldier gave him some mint to drink, then the soldier left Ahmed alone for an hour. Suddenly two men entered the room and asked him to get up. They grabbed him violently and tied his legs with manacles. They asked him to walk with them to the bus. Ahmed could not get on the bus, because his legs were manacled. “I cannot get on” he said. The soldiers replied, “You must get on.” Ahmed was forced to get on the bus by crawling on his knees. On the bus, the soldiers told him to fasten his seatbelt. “I cannot,” replied Ahmed, “my hands are tied.” A soldier fastened his seat belt. Once arrived at Erez, the soldiers delivered Ahmed to a person in a civilian uniform who started making fun of him. “How was the fish today?”, Ahmed replied “You took my boat, now I will go home to sleep with my family.” The soldiers gave him the papers stating the limit of three miles in the waters of Gaza and the limit at the northern border with Ashdod, telling him to deliver those papers to the other fishermen. At the exit gate they told him to walk looking straight ahead “If you look away we’ll shoot you.” Then Ahmed began to run. He met some Palestinians and walked with them up to the Palestinian security office. Then he went to the internal security for questioning. After questioning he returned home. We ask him if he wants to send a message to the international community. “I ask you to support us to get the boats back. Our life has stopped because it depends on that boat. And I ask for support for the Palestinians every day.” Ahmed has two sons, 2 and 3 years old. It is the fourth time he was stopped by Israeli soldiers, “I cannot count how much pain I have received from Israel.” He has worked as a fisherman since he was 13 years old. “This is my work. I will continue to work in the sea,” concludes Ahmed. *************************************************************** Finally, Jamal, who was arrested on Monday morning, told us his experience. Jamal was on a rowing boat with his son, they had the same experience as other fishermen, Israeli soldiers stopped them, asked them to jump into the water and took them to Ashdod.

They showed them a map, this time not on paper, but on a computer screen and asked for information. Jamal told us that they offered him drinks and medicines, but he refused, he would not swallow anything he was offered. Jamal and his son stood 30 minutes in a room, then, they were interrogated. Then the soldiers took them to Erez where they were subjected to another interrogation. The interrogator asked him about their family and how many sons he had. Jamal answered that he has 8 sons. The interrogator said him “No, you have 9 sons”. Jamal replied: “No, you killed my son during Cast Lead in a school”. They started to tell him that his son was a fighter. Jamal’s son was 27 years old when he was killed with 3 others young men in UNRWA school targeted by a missile, three years ago during Cast Lead. During Cast Lead a lot of people took refuge in the schools to be safe, but Israel bombed the schools indiscriminately. The interrogators asked him for information about the Palestinian resistance and the training camps. Jamal answered he didn’t know. “We know”, they answered him and they asked him about the places from which the resistance fires missiles. “I don’t know”, answered Jamal. They asked him if he wanted to eat, but he refused. They offered him their “friendship”: “If you have any information you will be happy”. They took him to the gate, he went to the Palestinian security office and he came back home. His son was still at the Hamas Internal Security office to be interrogated. We asked Jamal if he felt like to send a message to the outside world. He stated “All the fishermen suffer from this situation, we face all these troubles in the sea, we try to feed our families, we try to survive. The international community must support the Palestinian case to stop this siege, because we are under siege in the sea, in the air, and on our land.” [To check out what life is like under a murderous military occupation commanded by foreign terrorists, go to: www.rafahtoday.org The occupied nation is Palestine. The foreign terrorists call themselves “Israeli.”]

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DANGER: POLITICIANS AT WORK

“Rajab Said There Have Been Continuous Protests In Bahrain Since February 14”
“Tens Of Thousands Of People Came Out In The Street, Many Of Them Were Heading To The Pearl Roundabout And They Were Attacked”
February 17, 2012 Reuters & 18 Feb 2012 Al Jazeera and agencies Bahrain announced the deportation of four foreign activists for “taking part in illegal demonstrations” in the country, adding to a number of deportations of activists over the past week.

The authorities have recently increased restrictions for foreign activists and international media, denying press visas to several news organisations. Bahraini police also deployed a water cannon on Friday and armoured vehicles against an anti-government demonstration of around 500 people from the majority Shia population following a funeral. Later on Friday, large police forces used water cannons to try to disperse several hundred demonstrators in the northern district of Jidhafs. Protesters ran into side streets, only to regroup and reappear in a nearby area. In the district of Sar, police fired volleys of stun grenades and teargas to break up groups of teenagers who threw stones and petrol bombs late on Thursday. Some residents shouted anti-government slogans and the Muslim rallying cry “Allahu akbar” - God is greatest - from inside their homes or on rooftops. Bahrain has imposed a security clampdown this week in a bid to avert mass protests on the anniversary of the February 14 pro-democracy uprising last year in which four people were killed. The clampdown also aimed to prevent Shias from reaching the Pearl Roundabout, a junction in capital Manama that has became the focal point of protests. Riot police and national guard forces maintained tight security near the roundabout, which is partly surrounded by barbed wire, and for the first time since a period of martial law last year deployed armored vehicles in Shi’ite villages. Nabeel Rajab, an activist with the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights told Al Jazeera: “The Bahrain government launched armoured vehicles... almost in each and every village in Bahrain.” Rajab said there have been continuous protests in Bahrain since February 14. “Tens of thousands of people came out in the street, many of them were heading to the Pearl Roundabout and they were attacked,” Rajab said.

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CLASS WAR REPORTS

“Hundreds Of Thousands Of People Protested Across Spain On Sunday Against Reforms To The Labour Market They Fear Will Destroy Workers’ Rights”
“They Said They Were Cutting Workers Rights To Create More Work. They’ve Cut Rights, But Not Said How They Plan To Create Jobs”
“There Has To Be A General Strike”

Feb. 19, 2012. Marches organized by the country’s main trade unions are taking place throughout Spain. (AP Photo/Alberto Di Lolli)

People holds cardboard representations of coffins as they protest against the economic policy of the Conservative Spanish Government, reading: ‘‘R.I.P. Negotiation and Collective Agreement. Decent Job with Rights’’ during a rally in Pamplona, northern Spain, Feb. 19, 2012. (AP Photo/Alvaro Barrientos) 02/19/2012 By Paul Day and Tomás Cobos, Reuters [Excerpts]

MADRID, Feb 19 (Reuters) - Hundreds of thousands of people protested across Spain on Sunday against reforms to the labour market they fear will destroy workers’ rights and spending cuts they say are destroying the welfare state. Organisers, including the two largest unions Comisiones Obreras and UGT, said as many as half a million people joined the protest in 57 towns and cities, although Spanish police gave no official estimate. In Madrid, one of the largest protests since the economic crisis began almost five years ago filled the wide boulevards from the Atocha train station up to the central Sol square with loud but peaceful marchers of all ages. “Contracts are getting worse every year. They say they want to invest in the future while cutting research budgets. They’re not looking to the future but to the next election with cuts dictated from Brussels,” university researcher Nacho Foche, 27, said. Spain’s new conservative government began its four-year term in December with tax hikes and spending cuts worth around 15 billion euros ($19.74 billion) and must cut another around 40 billion to meet tough deficit targets set by the EU. Spain has the highest unemployment rate in the developed world at 23 percent and many Spaniards fear granting businesses greater powers to lay off workers will prompt a wave of redundancies and new contracts without rights. “There has to be a general strike. They said they were cutting workers rights to create more work. They’ve cut rights, but not said how they plan to create jobs,” teacher Alberto Carrillo, 48, said.

POLITICIANS CAN’T BE COUNTED ON TO HALT THE BLOODSHED THE TROOPS HAVE THE POWER TO STOP THE WARS
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