Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Tehran & Polytechnic University Students Protest

Found this on Revolutionary Road (Iran). On their site, you can see some photos and video clips of the student protests in Tehran; one video shows the Bassij (paramilitary) attacking the students. The protests took place on Monday, 5th of Esfand (23rd of February).

(February 24, 2009)
Hundreds of Polytechnic University (Amirkabir) students protested for the second day in row to burying remains of five members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) left from 1980-88 war with Iraq on the campus.

Students chanted anti-government slogans when they were attacked by the plain-clothes agents of the Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) and members of paramilitary Bassij students dispatched from other Tehran's school to help quell the protests.

"Death to dictator," "We don't want a fascist regime" shouted the students when they were beaten by security forces. Twenty-five students were arrested and transferred in police vans to unknown locations despite attempts by their fellow classmates to get them released.

Seven wounded students were taken to nearby hospitals for immediate medical attention. Twenty years after the end of the eight-year-long Iran-Iraq war the remains of IRGC soldiers are being buried in Iranian universities.

Also many of tehran university students (leftists) protested against arresed friends in this day.

Related article:
Iranian students held over protest (Independent/London; February 26, 2009)

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Amnesty International's Deeply Flawed Logic

Found this on Uruknet.

PFLP calls upon Amnesty International to end false equation of occupier and occupied
Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine
(Feb 23, 2009)

The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine addressed the new report of Amnesty International on February 23, 2009, stating that human rights organizations must stop their equation of the victim with the executioner, and instead pressure the occupier to halt its attacks against our occupied Palestinian people.

The Amnesty International report called for an end to all "foreign-supplied" weapons in Palestine, calling upon the U.S. and other regimes to stop arming the Israeli occupier, but also denounced the Palestinian resistance, failing to acknowledge its international legitimacy as an occupied people struggling for national liberation and the achievement of its rights, in contradiction with international law, which recognizes the right of occupied people to resist occupation to win freedom and independence.

Rather than upholding the rights of the Palestinian people against an occupier engaged in brutal aggression, the AI report instead equated Palestinian resistance factions with the occupation army, ignoring their respective positions as occupied people and occupation force. The PFLP stated that Amnesty's call for a total ban on arms to Israel and the Palestinian resistance factions is an abhorrent fallacy presenting a false equation. Instead, the statement said, Amnesty should focus on the occupier's aggression against our people and its use of internationally prohibited weapons against civilians in the recent aggression on Gaza, including white phosphorus and depleted uranium.

The statement said that by making the false equation, Amnesty rewards the occupation for its crimes against our people. It called upon international organizations and human rights bodies to be accurate, fair and precise in their reports and to recognize the clear and obvious distinction between an occupying force oppressing indigenous people and an occupied people struggling for its freedom, and to exercise their role to pressure the aggressor to stop its attacks and respect international law.

[Original at:]

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Stop Repression of Iranian Sugar Workers' Union!

Found this on Uruknet

Infoshop News  (Feb 18, 2009)
An independent workers union in southern Iran is challenging a legal case against them by the Revolutionary Court and they need your support, now.

In June last year, five thousand workers at the Haft Tapeh Sugar Cane Plantation and Industry Company in the Iranian city of Shush formed an independent trade union following a 46-day strike. Official organizations created by the government (Workers House and Islamic Labour Council) have for years utterly failed to protect the workers and their conditions. The Haft Tapeh workers have had to resort to repeated strike action to fight for their basic workplace rights, including regular payment of wages.

The strike last year began when thousands of workers from every department downed tools to protest two months without wages. A petition to the provincial labour department with thousands of signatures triggered mass arrests and repeated interventions by police, security forces and Revolutionary Guards. A mass demonstration on June 16 by workers and their families ending at an assembly which elected officers of an independent trade union. The Haft Tapeh union is now a member of the IUF.

Now the government is seeking to crush the union through potentially lengthy prison sentences for 5 elected leaders, charged with acting against "national security" in connection with last year's strike and the formation of the union. The five leaders are Ali Nejati, President, Feridoun Nikoufard, Vice President, Mohammed Heydari Mehr, Representative for Industry Affairs, Ghorban Alipour, Secretary, and Jalil Ahmadi, Member of the Board of Directors.

The 5 elected union leaders were summoned to the Revolutionary Court on December 20, 2008 and charged with acting against national security.The IUF and unions worldwide have condemned these charges as groundless and called on the government to immediately and unconditionally drop the charges. . Other independent union leaders in Iran, including Mansour Osanloo and Ebrahim Madadi of the Tehran Bus Union, have been imprisoned on the same charges..

The verdict was scheduled to be delivered on February 17 in a typically despotic and arbitrary manner by the court - the plaintiff did not even bother to appear before the judge nor present serious "evidence". However, the determination of the union leaders and their lawyer turned what was scheduled to have been a perfunctory sentencing into a five hour debate whose only conclusion was to continue the hearing. The next session is scheduled for February 22.

The union thanks all those who have written the government over the past few weeks. However, additional pressure is urgently needed to get the authorities to unconditionally drop all charges.

Go to:
to send a message to the Iranian state and judicial authorities, calling on them to immediately and unconditionally drop all charges against the Haft Tapeh union leaders.

[See IUF's website at:]

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Hampshire College to divest from Israel

Found this on International Middle East Media Center.

Hampshire College, first in US to divest from Israel

Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts, has become the first of any college or university in the US to divest from companies on the grounds of their involvement in the Israeli occupation of Palestine.

The proposal put forth by SJP was approved on Saturday, 7 February 2009 by the Board. By divesting from these companies, SJP believes that Hampshire has distanced itself from complicity in the illegal occupation and war crimes of Israel.
The six corporations, all of which provide the Israeli military with equipment and services in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip are: Caterpillar, United Technologies, General Electric, ITT Corporation, Motorola and Terex. Furthermore, our policy prevents the reinvestment in any company involved in the illegal occupation.

Read the complete article ...

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Stop Destruction of Khavaran Grave Site, Tehran

Families visiting unmarked graves in Khavaran

This is an appeal by the Amnesty International to the Iranian government, demanding that the government of Iran stop destroying the Khavaran grave site, in south Tehran. Khavaran grave site is the burial place for hundreds of political prisoners, who were summarily executed in the summer of 1988, and were buried in unmarked mass graves. The families of the murdered political prisoners have since then been seeking justice for the killings as well as get exact information about the executions and the places of burial. 

In a latest move by the Iranian government, bulldozers have been moving tons of earth onto the grave site in an attempt to literally cover the graves and plant trees on top of them, thereby destroying not only the graves, but also forensic evidence that could be used in an investigation into the killings of those hundreds (some estimates claim up to five thousand) of political prisoners. 

Iran: Preserve the Khavaran grave site for investigation into mass killings

Amnesty International calls on the Iranian authorities to immediately stop the destruction of hundreds of individual and mass, unmarked graves in Khavaran, south Tehran, to ensure that the site is preserved and to initiate a forensic investigation at the site as part of a long-overdue thorough, independent and impartial investigation into mass executions which began in 1988, often referred to in Iran as the “prison massacres”. The organization fears that these actions of the Iranian authorities are aimed at destroying evidence of human rights violations and depriving the families of the victims of the 1988 killings of their right to truth, justice and reparation.

Reports indicate that between 9-16 January 2009, the numerous ad hoc grave markings made by the families of some of those executed in previous years were destroyed by bulldozer. The site was at least partially covered by soil and trees were planted.

Amnesty International additionally calls on the Iranian government to act on its standing invitation to UN mechanisms and to facilitate the visit to the country of the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions. In his visit he should be allowed to have an unhindered access to the Khavaran site with a view to indicating how best to conduct an investigation into the events of 1988, including in relation to the unmarked graves at Khavaran.

The Iranian authorities have the obligation to conduct an impartial investigation into the events and bring to justice those responsible for the “prison massacres” in fair proceedings and without recourse to the death penalty. Destruction of the site would impede any such future investigation and would violate the right of victims, including the families, to an effective remedy.

The Iranian authorities also have a responsibility to ensure that the body of anyone secretly buried who was not the victim of a crime is returned to his or her relatives. Destruction of the grave site would prevent this from happening and inflict further suffering on the families of the victims of the “prison massacres” who have been yearly commemorating the killing of their loved ones by gathering in Khavaran.

Between August 1988 and February 1989, the Iranian authorities carried out a massive wave of executions of political prisoners – the largest since those carried out in the first and second year after the Iranian revolution in 1979. In all, between 4,500 and 10,000 prisoners are believed to have been killed.

Amnesty International has repeatedly called for those responsible for the “prison massacre” to be brought to justice in a fair trial without the death penalty.
*  *  *

For further information, see, Iran: The 20th anniversary of 1988 "Prison Massacre", AI Index: MDE 13/118/2008, 19 August 2008, and, Amnesty International’s report, Iran: Violations of human rights 1987-1990 (AI Index MDE 13/21/90).

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Iranian Revolution's Thirtieth Anniversary

Thirty years ago, during the several months past, my generation was restructuring social life in Iran, breaking down government doors previously impervious to people's demands, evicting a dictatorial bunch of idiots who had been imposed on us in 1953, in a coup inspired in the U.K. and carried out by the CIA.

And so it was, thirty years ago, during these very months past, that we stormed ministries, prisons and government buildings, sat down in school yards, refused to go to or teach classes, went on strike in factories, oil refineries and petrochemical plants, marched in the streets in hundreds, then thousands, and soon in hundreds of thousands.

The revolution had such a force that even in the most laidback towns, like Shiraz, people started taking to the streets in the tens and hundreds of thousands. In the famously mellow town of our beloved poets Sadi and Haafez, where martial law was declared last and lifted first, I saw hundreds of thousands in the streets and it was a sight to behold.

Back in those days thirty years ago, we were storming SAVAK buildings after pitch battles, some lasting hours some days, finding instruments of torture and files, files and more files. All those files that our rulers had indeed been keeping: on us, on our friends and classmates, our fathers, brothers, sisters, cousins and more. Those files, the cumulative result of diligent work, of years of training by the Israeli Mossad agents bringing the Shah's ability for secret information gathering up to par.

All those files that, just as swiftly as they were being unearthed, were trucked away to the mosques. For safe keeping they said. But, some knew better. Soon, those files would be added to. Soon, those files would be swallowed up by a far greater secret service that the theocrats had in mind.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

I must be on crazy pills

Sometimes it feels like I'm in a small minority group of freakish people who've been given crazy pills in their water, non-stop. I mean ... I MUST be crazy.

Take for example the headlines and the news reports about 'over-paying' the banks while distributing TARP money (read, looted taxes), during the dying months of the former Bush administration, worth a whopping $78 billion.

The way this theft is reported, it is made out as if nothing can be done about it.

As if some fly-by operation run by aliens from another planet had sucked the money right out of our earthly banking system, and disappeared into the outer galaxy. As if these banks were not huge institutions with registered headquarters located on our very planet, to which the U.S. government can deliver a 'You Owe Us' notice, and ask for the money back! Or, just simply, banks whose assets the U.S. Congress has the authority to freeze.

I am sure that I am not the only one whose immediate question is: Well, why haven't the banks just returned the money?

[Anecdotal evidence of other solutions regularly applied on earth: I once received, by mistake, a paycheck for an additional month of service not rendered after I had stopped working for a certain educational institution. They contacted me and told me to give back the money, and I sent them a check for the amount. Done. Simple. Cannot the same simplicity be applied to the $78 billion overpaid funds, too? If not, why not exactly?]

Then there is the issue of canceling the 'torture policies' of the former, very bad and ugly Bush administration that was supposedly 'reversed' by the new, sweet hope Obama administration.

First, of course, as we all know, imperialists always cover all their bases, so there are some loopholes hinted at and other loopholes explicitly stated that make the 'reversal' look more like a gentle bearing to the left on the winding roads comprising the imperial super highway, heading mainly for the far right. Not a U-turn by any means, even if such were to be ill-advisedly considered a good turn of events.

But, more importantly, even if we were to believe that some sort of reversal of rules has happened, the new Obama administration can only pretend that they have done something positive. In fact, though, they have merely reminded the world that the U.S. knows and recognizes that it was acting not so nicely; they can't say 'illegally', for that would be going too far. Still, as for real actions, all is to be dealt with as if all else is, with just the 'stroke of the pen' deal, now A-OK. "Smile!" it is implied, "Keep up the smile, and pretend all is good. Just keep smiling and keep stepping away and past this icky 'issue' since it's now done and dealt with, and best be forgotten. Phew! So GLAD that's done!!"

And, my jaw is hanging down, right above the floor.

'Dealt with'? What, you mean, like it's not an 'issue' anymore? It has been resolved, all the legal ramifications dealt with and the ship of the U.S. State will now move on, continuing to act legally? Of course only somewhat, due to all the 'interrogation techniques' that may be needed, so must be retained or developed, for security reasons that cannot be discussed publicly, for such would aid and abet the terrorists. Ahem! 

So, yes, the U.S. is getting there, making progress towards that most difficult of all goal of all, i.e., acting legally, continuing to scramble in the generally well-considered direction willfully, methodically and of course patiently, excruciatingly slowly.

In fact, I wouldn't be surprised to see some Democrat apologists making a positive and hopeful case for the necessarily slow process: the pace is to ensure that no mistakes are made in the undoing of evildoing, never forgetting that it was the haste in their original coming about that brought so many oh, so wrong and evil consequences. In detoxifying the State Apparatuses left behind by that frat boy Bush and his sadistic, jerk friends, we must be patient.

It's as if there has been no egregious violations of the Geneva Conventions, the UN Charter, the U.S.'s own laws, not to forget relevant parts of the U.S. Constitution (the 8th Amendment) prohibiting 'cruel and unusual punishment' (remember that?). It's as if no crimes have been committed, and it's all been just one big misunderstanding.

To use a Malcolm X-like analogy, let's imagine that during the previous eight years, the administration of George Frat Bush had made it legal for people to rob others' houses, provided they met certain, newly legalized conditions. Now, after eight years of people getting their houses robbed, imagine that people are told that the new administration has reversed the rules, and it is no longer legal for people to rob others' houses, no matter what. This is then celebrated as huge progress and treated, in the corporate 'news' media, as a positive 'change'.

But, it is only restoring the status quo ante. This still does not address the wrong done during those eight years. To those thousands and thousands who got robbed, this is the epitome of justice evaded and denied. Getting their belongings back and getting compensated for having been violated all those years; that would be closer to justice, though not completely so yet.

People lost their lives and livelihoods due to those torture policies. Ask Jose Padilla, just for one case. And in matters of torture, one is already too many. What about prosecution of the perpetrators of torture? Or, those who authorized them? If those acts were reprehensible, then surely there should be some penalties for those authorizing and carrying out such reprehensible acts. But, is there any? Is there even a hint of any?

Am I on crazy pills not seeing any, or are there really none to be seen?

The whole matter is treated as if it was some kind of 'mistake' or a 'foolish' policy; on par with a drunken fool acting stupidly and annoyingly, swearing loudly, disturbing the public peace, flaying his arms about wildly, catching passers-by in their jaw, in their eyes, spitting on children while in slurred speech spewing lasciviously about their mothers.

The way Team Obama is behaving is more akin to reacting to an embarrassing moment, something over which you had no control, yet have to apologize for: "Well, well, well ..." (nervous yet broad smile) "Phew! Wasn't that something! Well ... Thank god the drunken fool is home sleeping off his hangover!" Or, like the police dispersing the onlookers hanging out at the scene of a crime long after all evidence of a crime has been removed: Nothing to see here, folks! Go on home! Be thankful the idiot's gone. Ha ha! Whatch you gonna do? Forget about it! C'mon, keep stepping!

Just like that?! And all the Obama zombies are like, 'Well, what more do you want?! He changed the laws back, didn't he? Duh!!'

'Duh', indeed ... These crazy pills are something else! 

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Irish Civil Society Boycott of Israel

From Information Clearing House. The following letter was published in a full-page advertisement in The Irish Times on 31 January 2009. Only excerpts are posted here. The complete original ad, including signatures may be downloaded here [PDF].

Irish Call for Justice for Palestine

Israel’s bombardment of Gaza killed over 1,300 Palestinians, a third of them children. Thousands have been wounded. Many victims had been taking refuge in clearly marked UN facilities.

This assault came in the wake of years of economic blockade by Israel. This blockade, which is illegal under international humanitarian law, has destroyed the Gaza economy and condemned its population to poverty. According to a World Bank report last September, “98 percent of Gaza’s industrial operations are now inactive.”

The most recent attack on Gaza is only the latest phase in Israel’s oppression of the Palestinian people and appropriation of their land.
Invasion, occupation and plantation of their land is the reality that Palestinians have faced for decades and still face on a daily basis, as their country is reduced remorselessly. Unless, and until, this Israeli aggression is halted, and the democratic rights of the Palestinian people are vindicated, there will be no justice or peace in the Middle East. Israel’s 40-year occupation of the West Bank and Gaza must be ended.

The occupation can end if political and economic pressure is placed on Israel by the international community. Recognizing this, the Palestinian people continually call on the international community to intervene.

We, the signatories, call for the following:
  1. The Irish Government to cease its purchase of Israeli military products and services and call publicly for an arms embargo against Israel.
  2. The Irish Government to demand publicly that Israel reverse its settlement construction, illegal occupation and annexation of land in accordance with UN Security Council resolutions and to use its influence in international fora to bring this about.
  3. The Irish Government to demand publicly that the Euro-Med Agreement under which Israel has privileged access to the EU market be suspended until Israel complies with international law.
  4. The Irish Government to veto any proposed upgrade in EU relations with Israel.
  5. The Irish people to boycott all Israeli goods and services until Israel abides by international law.

No New Nuke Reactors!

Got this in the mail. ON the homepage of Nuclear Information & Resource Service, there is a link to a letter/petition for urgent action. 

In the middle of their homepage, there is a blue band that says: "Urgent: Act now to stop $50 Billion in nuke loan guarantees."  

This is a link to a letter in opposition to $50 Billion of our tax money to be used as loan guarantees for construction of new nuclear reactors; you can read it and, if you agree, send it electronically from the site itself.

To go to the letter/petition page directly, click here ...

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Revolt Spreads Across the Globe

Fond this on GNN (guerrilla news network). Signs of hope! Real hope, for real change, not the spare change the establishment promises in the face of real disasters being set upon people by the really existing capitalism.

Onward with the struggle for socialism!

Revolt Spreads Across the Globe as "Crisis" Continues to Unfold

Unrest rocks the streets of China, France, Russia, Mexico, and elsewhere. And it is spreading...

After numerous European governments expressed fear that the unrest in Greece would spread to neighboring countries and perhaps around the world, the spreading global revolt has taken on another tone: that of confronting the elite for their manipulation of the economic “crisis” (which is really a systemic collapse) in order to consolidate yet even more wealth as the masses of the world suffer the brunt of the former’s greed. The spirit of the Greek revolt has not been forgotten, however, for it is clear whose interests the police serve and protect (as America was recently reminded in Oakland).

As Iceland became the first country to fall due to popular revolt against the economic elite, and then proceeded to elect their first female PM, who is also openly gay, things are heating up around the globe. Recently, over 1,000 protesters assembled illegally to protest the World Economic Forum in Geneva, Switzerland, and while the protests were overwhelmingly peaceful, fear of unrest prompted the police to systematically target and arrest known and identified militants and revolutionaries.

As GNN’s Grady reports, in China “2,000 workers and farmers held wage protests for twelve days outside of Shanghai” in December 2008, “striking workers and security guards clash in a textile factory in Dongguan” on January 15th, and on January 16th, “100 police officers stage a rally in Shenzhen after being sacked from their jobs.”

Read the complete article here ...

Monday, February 2, 2009

Finkelstein in Edmonton

Found this on YouTube (also on Information Clearing House): Dr. Finkelstein speaking at the University of Alberta on January 22, 2009. The presentation is about the real reasons for the Gaza 22-day massacre. Hint: not to do with the Israeli elections, as suggested by some idiotic liberals.

I have only posted the first part, which is the lecture. To view the Q-and-A session, click here.  

California Workers Fight for Independent Union

This is from Counterpunch, and concerns a very important fight going on within the American labor movement: the fight between rank and file workers and corrupt union bosses. 

The American labor must break with two hugely poisonous traditions that has always been present within it: the Democrats and the corrupt union leadership. This two-front fight must be fought if the American labor is to revive its history-making potentials. The fight against Service Employees International Union (SEIU), led by some California health workers wishing to create their own independent union is well worth supporting and cheering. Our solidarity is with them. Salute!

Checking Out of Stern's Hotel California
By STEVE EARLY (Counterpunch, Feb. 2, 2009)

The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) wants its members to believe that their union is just like the alluring but ultimately nightmarish hostelry immortalized by The Eagles. It’s a place of permanent imprisonment only "programmed to receive" workers and their dues money, not let either go elsewhere when the rhetoric of “progressive unionism” wears thin and the rank-and-file becomes restive. According to proprietor Andy Stern, once you’ve checked into SEIU, you can never leave.

Tens of thousands of Stern’s disgruntled “guests,” who work in west coast health care facilities, are about to disprove this claim. Their bags are packed and they’re headed out the door of Stern’s “Hotel California,” as soon as federal (or local) labor law permits. After a bruising internal battle—in which an estimated ten million dollars of their own money was used by Stern to undermine and attack them—rank-and-filers in Oakland-based United Healthcare Workers (UHW) have formed a new union of their own. Launched on January 28, the National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW) is seeking to retain bargaining rights long held by UHW, until Stern placed it under trusteeship the day before.

Workers made a collective decision to flee SEIU after the long-threatened take-over of its third-largest affiliate. As previously reported in CounterPunch, Stern began brandishing this club last March. When UHW had the audacity to question SEIU’s management-friendly approach to health care organizing, bargaining, and politics, the SEIU president launched a multi-faceted counter-insurgency campaign. Now, several hundred out-of-state SEIU staffers have been dispatched to California as a full-time occupation force. At huge expense to the union treasury, their mission is to replace 100 elected UHW leaders, purge UHW’s own 500-member staff, seize the local’s offices and assets, and inform employers that they should no longer deal with UHW representatives about any labor-management issues. (See accompanying report from Oakland by Cal Winslow.) According to Stern, this highly disruptive intervention in a well-functioning local is necessary “to restore democratic procedures” and “protect the members’ interest.” After “UHW has been stabilized”—which could take 18 months to three years, based on past SEIU practice—“elections for new officers will be held.”

Related article:
Stern's Gang Seizes UHW Union Hall (by Cal Winslow; Counterpunch, Feb. 2, 2009)

PFLP warns against illusions about Obama

Found this on Uruknet ...

PFLP warns against illusions about US President Barack Obama, the new face of US imperialism
February 2, 2009

The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine denounced the ongoing strategic partnership of the United States with Israel, warning that the inauguration of President Barack Obama merely changes the image of U.S. imperialism, which plays the same destructive role as it always has.

In a press statement issued on January 26, 2009, the PFLP stated that the new U.S. envoy George Mitchell will fail as his predecessors have failed, and as the Israeli/U.S. military machine failed, so long as his purpose is to undermine Palestinian national rights, including the right to return, self-determination, sovereignty and independence, and attempt to end our resistance and our national cause.

The PFLP underlined that the replacement of international legitimacy with the authority and hegemony of the United States is unacceptable, and warned against any illusions about the new administration in the United States, stating that the new president changes nothing in the nature of U.S. imperialism and serves precisely the same interests as former president George W. Bush. The U.S. has been a strategic partner and an imperial enemy in the Arab world for over sixty years, and throughout the sixty years of occupation and colonization of Palestine by Zionism, has been the key supplier of arms, economic, and political support for the occupier. In fact, the Zionist state has served as a military outpost for the United States and its imperial interests.

The PFLP saluted the many people of the United States and the world who have taken action against the occupier, including all actions to internationally isolate the occupier and those who fund and support it, and to bring the perpetrators of crimes, massacres and occupation to justice. The statement further called upon people in the United States and around the world to hold U.S. officials accountable for their actions in providing political, economic and military support and authorization to the ongoing aggression and occupation against our people, to demand and act to break the strategic partnership and relationship between U.S. imperialism and Zionism.