Sunday, September 30, 2007

Eyes of the world are on Myanmar

The monks began the latest protests in Myanmar last week, and today the UN special envoy has met with Nobel Prize winner and opposition leader Suu Kyi who has been under house arrest for 12 of the last 18 years. The thirst for democracy in this small nation is overwhelming, and the brutal repression they have suffered under an illegitimate military junta has been horrifying. It appears the brutal regime has gained the uppoer hand over the last two days, but there's still some hope.

It is my hope that the people of good conscience in this world will never lose sight of their brothers and sisters in Myanmar. None of us are truly free -- until all of us are free.

Below is a story from today on the situation in Myanmar.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Oct. 6th Solidarity Day with Myanmar

E-Mail I sent out to a bunch of organizers today...

October 6th is being called as an international day of solidarity with
the people's resistance in Myanmar. The Washington Peace Center is
initiating a march from Mt. Vernon Square at 12 noon on Saturday, the
6th, as the Green Festival is taking place. We will march directly up
Massachusetts Avenue, we will pause momentarily to honor the spirit of
the nonviolent revolutionary Mahatma Gandhi at his statue at 21st and
Mass Ave., NW before continuing onto the Myanmar Embassy at 2300 S
Street, NW.

At Gandhi's statue, we would like to invite nonviolent resisters and
representatives of the Myanmar people to speak briefly. We will vigil
at the Embassy for a couple hours, where we will read Buddhist chants
in solidarity with the monks being slaughtered by their government and
read accounts of the people's uprising from a few different blogs.

If your group would like to participate, please contact me at
571-271-1313; or WPC coordinator Jay Marx at 202-234-2000. We want to
show a strong sign of solidarity with the people in Myanmar on the
6th! Thank you.

Peace and solidarity,

PS -- From an article on the movement to make Oct. 6 an International
Day of Solidarity with Myanmar:
"By Friday, more than 110,000 people had joined the "Support the
Monks' Protest in Burma" group, set up on Facebook nine days ago. The
group has become a repository of eyewitness accounts, photos and video
footage of the protests, and also provides details of demonstrations

British organizer Johnny Chatterton said that until Internet links to
Myanmar were cut, the group had been receiving images, video and
reports from sources with contacts in Myanmar. He said much of it -
including the report of a monk killed by soldiers - had turned out to
be accurate.

"I'm passing on the details to my contacts at the papers and the BBC,"
said Chatterton, 23.

He said the group's goal was 'to show the world's eyes are on Burma'
and to coordinate protests, including a global day of action planned
for Oct. 6."

On Friday, the Facebook group posted an estimate from sources inside
Myanmar that 200 people had been killed in the crackdown in the past
several days. The government says 10 people have died, although
Western officials and diplomats say the toll is likely much higher.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Burmese Government Murders Nonviolent Protesters

I suspect the numbers of dead are higher, but the British media has done a better job covering this than the U.S. The Burmese people have suffered long enough under this repressive regime. It is my sincere hope that the progressive community rally in support for democracy and human rights! A starting point might a be an ongoing vigil at the Embassy here in town; 2300 S Street, NW.

Nine dead after troops fire into crowds of democracy protesters

· Mayhem as crackdown gathers pace on 10th day of protests
· Civilians take to streets after hundreds of monks arrested
Ian MacKinnon, South-East Asia correspondent
Friday September 28, 2007

Burmese troops and riot police battled to put an end to the 10th consecutive day of protests against the country's military dictatorship that has maintained an iron grip on power for 45 years, firing automatic weapons into crowds of pro-democracy demonstrators in Rangoon after they flouted warnings to clear the streets or face "extreme action".

A Japanese photographer, Kenji Nagai, 50, was among at least nine people killed in the fierce clashes. Thousands of protesters played a deadly game of cat and mouse with the police and troops, continually dispersing as they were attacked and reforming to taunt the security forces who used teargas, baton charges and live ammunition against them.

Fewer monks were seen on the streets yesterday as up to 500 had been arrested and many others confined to their quarters by soldiers who raided six monasteries around the capital from dawn onwards. Leaders of the National League for Democracy were also rounded up.

Pools of blood remained in monastery dormitories and stairwells where the troops had smashed in windows and doors, and beat the young novices as they lay sleeping. In some raids shots were fired and a senior abbot at Moe Ngway monastery was said to have died later in the afternoon.

The ferocity of the attacks on the monks, the ransacking of monasteries that saw Buddhist relics vandalised and gold looted, according to diplomatic sources, shocked ordinary Burmese people, who revere the clergy.

It set the tone for a day that echoed months of violence in 1988 that ended with the massacre of 3,000 students and monks in a pro-democracy uprising.

Burmese people took to the streets yesterday in protests that were more spontaneous and chaotic than those of the previous days when the monks had taken the lead, both protecting and being protected by their supporters.

Truckloads of soldiers and police were out in much greater force from early morning at strategic points around Rangoon. Barbed wire barricades blocked roads and empty prison trucks awaited their cargo as water canon and fire engines stood by.

"Clearly the military had calculated that seven or eight days of protests needed to be brought to a halt," said Mark Canning, Britain's ambassador to Burma. "I would imagine that people [the military] have gone back to the drawing board and concluded that they needed to turn up the measures further. We deplore that and think that sort of violence is going to make matters worse."

Security forces on foot and in vans toured the city with loudspeakers, urging residents to clear the streets within 10 minutes or face "extreme force", warnings that went unheeded among the crowds, who appeared not to care about the danger.

By lunchtime a large, angry mob had gathered near the Sule pagoda, a focal point of earlier protests, despite the presence of large numbers of security forces at the Buddhist shrine.

About 3,000 demonstrators sat down in the road before the ranks of riot police, clapping and chanting, taunting the security forces - who took no action at first. But then police and soldiers pushed the crowd and began firing into the protesters, wounding at least four though it was not clear how severely.

One of the demonstrators caught in the crossfire called the BBC on his mobile phone to relay the horror unfolding in front of him. "They have shot several times into the crowd," he shouted, the panic around him clearly audible. "One person has been injured. They've used teargas. The injured person has been put in a car and taken off to hospital. They've used force on us."

The onslaught scattered the panic-stricken protesters, who left sandals lying in the road. But they soon regrouped nearby and found themselves being pushed back again by the riot police. Their retreat was blocked by a phalanx of soldiers. Sandwiched between the two sets of security forces, the crowds rushed down a sidestreet, and diplomats saw and heard volleys of shots, though were unsure if anyone was hit.

Calm was restored for a time before another wave of protesters appeared near the Sule pagoda to be confronted by the military. Again the troops opened fire and another four protesters fell.

At about the same time, western diplomats reported another standoff in the north-eastern Rangoon suburb of Damway, when an angry mob came upon four army trucks packed with troops.

Surrounding by the jeering crowds still seething over the treatment meted out to the monks during the overnight raids, the troops again fired their weapons.

Other crowds around the city were involved in sporadic clashes with the security forces, particularly those who tried to approach the monasteries where the troops were still maintaining a vigil.

In the second city, Mandalay, troops also shadowed protesting monks who were baton charged by riot officers, injuring many, but there were no reports of the soldiers opening fire.

Guardian Unlimited © Guardian News and Media Limited 2007

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Sept. 20th at the U.S. Capitol

Here's a pic from the outside die-in..

And here's one from the inside die-in...

Friday, September 21, 2007

Student first, activist second

For the last couple months I knew it was coming, but now the wonderful anti-war nonviolent direct action INSIDE the Capitol Building has come and gone, I will be suspending my organizing activities with the peace and justice movement for two years while I am in grad school. I am studying Library and Info. Sciences at CUA, and following my completion I will need a few months starting my new career before I return to organizing. Sadly, I think the U.S. military occupation of the nation of Iraq will still be continuing, and we may also be engaged in a war with Iran at that point. So there will be a lot to organize around. Furthermore, D.C. will still not have a vote in Congress and our government will be spending more on military expenditures than health care and housing. So, there will be a lot of work for an anarchist archivist/librarian to help organize and support.

The action yesterday inside the Capitol Building resulted in 36 people arrested. This was a joint nonviolent direct action by the National Campaign of Nonviolent Resistance and the Declaration of Peace. It was powerful, there was some independent media which caught parts of it, so I may soon be posting something further.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Rev. Lennox Yearwood: At ANSWER Rally

Probably the best speech of the day. Clearly, the most energetic. Last Monday, the Rev. was attacked and arrested by police for trying to enter a public hearing on Capitol Hill.

ANSWER Rally (too long) and March (OK)

Today ANSWER, working with Iraq Veterans Against the War, had a two and a half hour anti-war rally at Lafayette Park, followed by a march and civil disobedience at the foot of the Capitol building. The energy of the crowd was great, and it was a diverse crowd, both generationally and ethnically. It was also rather big, about 200,000 -- about half the size of UFPJ's rally and march at the end of January, but ANSWER pulled this off with only two month's lead time. So organizationally it was perfectly promoted.

However, the rally was far too long; about two and a half hours before even starting the march. A few of the speakers were really good (some weren't), but the sound system was lousy. If you have a couple HUNDRED THOUSAND people show up, you probably shouldn't be using a sound system only good for about a crowd of 5,000.

And while I enjoyed the march, the civil disobedience at the foot of the Capitol Building was poorly organized and executed. There should have been more explanations given the crowd. If you are going to have a large die-in, you need to try and separate the folks participating in it from the folks who are not. Not real effective to have people standing right next to people doing the die-in. In addition, some folks not doing civil disobedience were making the situation worse for those who were by standing face to face with the police and hurling insults at them. The situation was not peaceful, and clearly ANSWER did not provide adequate nonviolence training for people participating.

Overall, good to see people out marching against war. It must end! But ANSWER needs to shorten their rallies and provide better planning and support for nonviolent direct actions in the future.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Rev. Yearwood attacked by police, arrested, injured

This is American democracy in action. My friend, Rev. Yearwood, was jumped by these six power-tripping Capitol Hill Police officers. He was wearing a button which read "I love the people of Iraq." I have seen the video a couple of times, and while it is disturbing it will be useful in court. If it was me, I'd probably pursue a civil case for damages.

Rev. in hospital after anti-war arrest
Published: Sept. 12, 2007 at 11:28 AM

WASHINGTON, Sept. 12 (UPI) -- An anti-war minister and U.S. Air Force veteran was treated in hospital after his arrest by Capitol Hill police outside this week’s Iraq congressional hearings.

The Rev. Lennox Yearwood, president of the Washington-based Hip-Hop Caucus, was charged with disorderly conduct and assaulting a police officer after being denied entry to a House hearing room in which Gen. David Petraeus was giving evidence Monday, Capitol Police spokeswoman Sgt. Kimberly Schneider told United Press International.

But a video of his arrest, posted on the Web site YouTube, does not seem to show any assault. Yearwood shrugs an officer’s hands off his shoulders and is immediately bundled to the floor by five or six policemen.

A spokeswoman for the Hip-Hop Caucus, Liz Havstad, told UPI that Yearwood was treated at George Washington Hospital for injuries to his ankle.

She said he had been released on his own recognizance Tuesday evening and had not had time to weigh whether to make a formal complaint about his treatment.

In a statement Wednesday, Yearwood, who was a U.S. Air Force reserve lieutenant until his honorable discharge in August, called his arrest an example of “democracy while black,” asking how he could “convince other African-Americans to come to Capitol Hill to participate in democracy, when Capitol Police will go so far as to jump me when I question my exclusion from a hearing that is open to the public?”

“We all know what 'driving while Black' is,” he concluded. “Well I'd call this 'democracy while Black.'"

Nine other protesters were arrested during the hearings, mostly for attempting to disrupt the proceedings.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Larry Craig has resigned

U.S. Senator Craig from Idaho has resigned. There is something revealing about the way the Republicans pounced on Larry Craig. It's OK if you are caught with a prostitute, or probably even groping a female staff member -- but if you are not of the straight variety watch out! It is sad, in a way, that Larry Craig lived with such shame and self-denial, but yet he was still hypocritical and hateful. The sad part, was a significant portion of that was self-hate. Here's one of the latest articles

BREAKING NEWS: Idaho's Sen. Craig resigns over scandal
By Andrew Malcom,
L.A. Times

Idaho's Republican Sen. Larry Craig bowed to the inevitable pressure of his political party today and officially announced his retirement from the U.S. Senate effective Sept. 30.

In an emotional news conference in Boise, standing next to his wife, Suzanne, and two of their three children, the 62-year-old Craig, who was arrested on suspicion of lewd behavior in a Minneapolis airport men's room in June and pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct later, said he would resign from the Senate Sept. 30.

His statement was met by a smattering of jeers and applause from the crowd of 200 gathered in a parking lot on a sunny summer Saturday overlooking downtown Boise. Craig thanked the numerous officials and supporters who were standing around him and apologized to the people of Idaho. He said the distraction of pursuing his legal options would prevent him from giving full time to his duties.

"It is with sadness and deep regret," he said, "that I announce my intent to resign from the Senate Sept. 30. I hope to allow a smooth transition."

As he had previously, Craig has continued to deny any wrongdoing. But his repeated denial of being gay elicited little support in his conservative home state, where he had delivered much favorable legislation over his three Senate terms and a spell in the House. As a staunch opponent of gay rights, he was easily open to hypocrisy charges.

Already facing an uphill political struggle next year against an unpopular war and president and forced to defend 24 Senate seats to the Democrats' 12, fellow Republicans immediately distanced themselves from Craig and began urging his resignation to allow a replacement enough time to hold office and prepare for next year's election in what has been a reliably Republican state; in 2004, Idahoans gave President Bush 68% of their vote.

Craig's denial of improper conduct and a police audiotape released Thursday, with its detailed discussion of tapping foot signals, hand waves and wide stances over toilets, immediately became the subject of countless water cooler conversations and fodder for bathroom jokes on late-night talk shows.

Why Craig is waiting until the end of September to leave office is not completely explained. He said it was to allow a smooth transition to his successor. But colleagues had hoped he would end the embarrassment and constant publicity as quickly as possible. It will provide more time for the governor to consider a replacement.

This is not the first time Craig's sexual conduct has come under question. Last fall when a gay website announced that Craig was gay, the senator's office denounced the statement as "ridiculous." On Tuesday he uttered the now famous line: "I am not gay. I never have been gay."

Idaho's Republican Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter is expected to name Lt. Gov. Jim Risch as Craig's replacement. But as a longtime Craig friend, he has publicly refused to discuss that until the seat was actually vacant and Risch says there have been no discussions. Another possibility could be Idaho Rep. Mike Simpson or even Dirk Kempthorne, who already has been a senator from Idaho, then was elected governor and last year appointed Secretary of the Interior by President Bush. His term in the Cabinet would, of course, end with the president's in January 2009.

There was no word on the timing of the replacement announcement.