Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘civil disobedience

Civil Disobedience Not weakening: Mobilization of Garbage crisis

Lebanese youth have been manifesting for 2 months against Not resolving the garbage crisis that has been accumulating in all streets and provinces for the last 3 months.

Au 5ème jour des manifestations qui ont débuté ce samedi, la mobilisation ne faiblit pas alors que d’autres revendications se font désormais entendre que celles plus basiques du ramassage des ordures, se font désormais entendre.

La société civile réclame désormais des réformes en profondeur de l’Etat.

Capture d’écran de Facebook
Capture d’écran de Facebook

Alors que le gouvernement libanais a annoncé hier l’annulation des résultats de l’appel d’offre qui s’est clôturé ce lundi, suite aux prix excessifs des entreprises candidates au ramassage des ordures des 6 régions libanaises, provoquant au passage un tollé à la fois dans les milieux politiques et sociaux, cette décision est vécue par la société civile présente dans les rues du centre-ville comme une véritable victoire, amenant certains à s’interroger sur la possibilité d’une #RevolutionDesOrdures (voir la tribune libre publiée sur notre site).

Le Conseil des Ministres – marqué par une crise politique et le retrait des ministres du CPL, du Tashnak, du mouvement Marada et du Hezbollah – qui s’était exceptionnellement réuni ce mardi pour discuter des résultats de l’appel d’offre, avait annulé les procédures en cours, en raison des prix demandés et considérés comme excessifs par les entreprises participantes (voir le lien).

Le Mouvement YouStink, qui avait annulé les protestations initialement prévues ce lundi, a indiqué qu’une nouvelle protestation aura lieu ce samedi en dépit des incidents désormais devenus quotidiens à proximité immédiate du Grand Sérail, siège du gouvernement libanais. Une autre manifestation du Mouvement WeWantAccountability entamera elle, une manifestation aujourd’hui à partir de 18 heures.

Les entreprises gagnantes dénoncent l’annulation de l’Appel d’Offre par le Cabinet Gouvernemental

2 responsables des entreprises candidates ont dénoncé l’annulation de l’appel d’offre ce mardi, accusant le gouvernement de vouloir favoriser la reprise de l’activité du ramassage des déchets par Sukleen.

Ces derniers ont également accusé le ministre de l’environnement Mohammed Machnouk d’avoir menti au sujet des prix proposés et de les avoir augmenté afin de permettre à l’entreprise Sukleen de paraitre compétitive.

La solution gouvernementale rejetée aussi bien au Akkar qu’à Naameh

Sous le slogan « Le Akkar n’est pas une décharge », les mouvements civils locaux dénoncent le projet de création par les autorités gouvernementales d’une décharge provisoire dans cette région du Nord Liban, et annoncent la tenue de prochaines manifestations.

Ils dénoncent également le versement – vécu comme une véritable tentative de corruption des habitants – de la somme de 100 millions de dollars à cette région considérée comme déshéritée, estimant la qu’il s’agit d’un droit et non d’une récompense pour accepter l’ouverture d’une déchetterie.

A Naameh également dont la fermeture, le 17 juillet dernier, de la décharge a été à l’origine de l’accumulation des ordures des régions du Mont Liban et de la Capitale Beyrouth, les habitants redoutent la réouverture évoquée par le Ministre de l’Environnement Mohammed Machnouk en attendant la mise en place d’une solution permanente, de la cette dernière et menacent de mettre le feu à toute benne à ordure pénétrant dans la zone de depot.

Ils réclament également l’adoption par le Conseil des Ministres, d’un décret déclarant la fermeture permanente de la déchetterie.

Les conducteurs de Sukleen en grève

Les conducteurs libanais de l’entreprise Sukleen en charge jusqu’en juillet dernier du ramassage des ordures ont entamé ce mercredi une grève ouverte provoquant une nouvelle accumulation des déchets dans les régions du Mont Liban et de la capitale libanaise. Manifestant devant le siège de la compagnie située dans le quartier de la Quarantaine, à l’entrée Est de la capitale libanaise, ils réclament aux autorités de connaitre le sort qui leur ait réservé.

Après #YouStink, #WeWantAccountability se joint au mouvement

Le mouvement “We Want Accountability” (Nous demandons des Comptes) s’est joint au Mouvement #Youstink, demandant une transparence accrue et une lutte contre la corruption au sein des administrations publiques, avec une manifestation prévue ce mercredi à 18 heures, cela afin de redonner les droits fondamentaux à la population libanaise.

#WeWantAccountability a également exigé la démission du gouvernement du Premier Ministre Tamam Salam dans un communiqué publié aujourd’hui

« Les autorités craignent les personnes qui réclament leurs droits », a indiqué, ce mercredi depuis la place Riad el Solh, épicentre des manifestations, le porte-parole de ce mouvement qui dénonce également les violences dont on été sujet les manifestants, estimant par ailleurs que la guerre n’est pas avec la police mais avec « le régime ».

Ce mouvement a appelé à la libération immédiate des manifestants encore détenus.

Les collectifs civils dénoncent le maintien en détention de manifestants

Capture d’écran de Facebook
Capture d’écran de Facebook

Alors que le mouvement “We Want Accountability” dénonce le maintien en détention de 60 personnes, les forces de sécurité libanaises ont indiqué que 48 individus ont été arrêté dont seulement 18 personnes sont toujours en détention.

Le collection “We Want Accountability” indique également être sans nouvelle de 4 personnes désormais portées disparues depuis les manifestations de ce mardi.

Selon les informations disponibles à cette heure, les activistes notent que les voitures des personnes disparues sont toujours au Centre-Ville de Beyrouth alors que leurs téléphones mobiles sont éteints. Des membres de cette même organisation ayant préparé les manifestations des derniers jours font état de violences politiques et de mise en détention arbitraire.

Plusieurs proches des personnes arrêtées et emmenées aux commissariats des quartiers de Sodeco, Mar Elias, Corniche al-Nahar, Hamra, Verdun et de Bachoura, ont fait part de l’interdiction faite par les FSI aux détenus de consulter leurs avocats.

Ils ont indiqué que les suspects des violences subissent également des examens sur fond de suspicions d’utilisation de drogues.

Les personnes depuis libérées ont indiqué avoir payé une caution de 50 000 Livres Libanaises à l’issue d’un examen de prise de drogue négatif.

Pour rappel, le juge militaire Dani al Zaani a débuté l’enquête ouverte suite aux violences ayant visé manifestants et forces de sécurité au centre ville de Beyrouth ces 5 derniers jours avec l’interrogatoire de plusieurs membres des forces de l’ordre et le témoignage de manifestants présents.

Certaines sources médiatiques que l’enquête viserait notamment 7 personnes impliquées dans les incidents au cours desquels plus de 100 membres des forces de l’ordre et un nombre équivalent de civils auraient été blessés. Dans un communiqué publié par les FSI, on indique que les Forces de Sécurité ont été aspergées avec de l’essence lors des manifestations de ce mardi, entrainant l’entrée en action des forces anti-émeutes au cours desquelles plusieurs personnes ont été arrêtées.

Les Emirats Arabes Unis et la France appellent leurs ressortissants à la prudence.

Capture d’écran du SMS envoyé par le Consulat de France à Beyrouth appelant à la prudence suite aux manifestations qui ont actuellement lieu à Beyrouth.

Après Bahrein qui avait appelé ses ressortissants à quitter le Liban et le Koweit qui demandait à ses compatriotes d’éviter les déplacements non-nécessaires voir même à préparer leur départ si nécessaire, les Emirats Arabes Unis ont demandé à leurs ressortissants d’éviter de se rendre au pays des Cèdres. La France appelle ses compatriotes également à la prudence dans un message envoyé par SMS.

Beyrouth, Liban – Au 5ème jour des manifestations qui ont débuté ce samedi, la mobilisation ne faiblit pas alors que d’autres revendications se font désormais…
libnanews.com|By Libnanews.com

 

Before you join the protesters: #YouStink movement

Desist from all illegal activities

Refrain from steeling electricity and water

Stop pocketing bribes as a civil servant

Reform your behaviors as a law abiding citizens

Who want a legitimate government…

These are fine recommendations, unless the youth movement declare civil disobedience. Then citizens have:

To stop paying taxes that go to the pockets of mafia and militia leaders ruling this defunct system for over 35 years

To change your life style that is permitting this rotten system to get richer from your immoderate consumption

Slow down on driving your cars that guzzle gasoline (one third of the price goes to the State)

Do not patronize public beaches that have been privatized by the militia leaders

Do share the list of life-style changes that should make a dent on the politicians and deep pocket wealthy consciousness

Participating In a Protest, sit -in, marches…?   A few Ways to Protect Yourself

Comparing Beirut’s You Stink protest to Kiev’s Orange Protests is quite alarming.

If history has taught us anything is that peaceful protests soon turn violent on both ends.

The Security Forces will not back down, and will be escalating into fatal assaults on the demonstration since the usual Arab strategy of divide and conquer has not worked yet.

Egypt’s spring has proved that warlords that have ruled for decades sometimes lose their grip on reality, and tend to muscle their way using old techniques.

Ferguson’s protest also turned violent overnight and gained international media attention, although to this day it has lacked any significant changes in the way minorities are policed.

Occupy Wall street are still without a clear victory.

There will be more bloodshed before the end.

While the ISF (Lebanon internal security forces) has been the source of much corruption, the army has been the only thing to hold this country together.

The bloody conflicts in Nahr El Bared, Arsal, and other instances have shown that the Army is the least sectarian entity. Not without their vices, I remember distinctly being beaten senselessly by the army on more than one occasion during the 2008 university “incidents”.

I came through those times solely on instinct and pure luck. A lot of my friends had the misfortune of being arrested and getting the ass-whooping of their lives.

Our only target back then was surviving the snipers from the rooftops and protecting our own, as the ISF and army were powerless to protect any civilian at the time, and took their frustration and anger out on the helpless and unarmed.

To this day I have never held a weapon in the face of any military man in uniform, Lebanese or otherwise, and I do not ever intend to.

Despite my martial arts lifestyle, I am a pacifist at heart and dedicate most of my free time to making sure people can negotiate confrontations in a non-violent manner.

In all further demonstrations, civilians are urged to bring gas masks, home made shields, wet cloths, milk, and water proof phones to document everything live.

Do NOT depend solely on Touch and Alfa communications as they have been known before to shut off 3G and 4G networks to provide cover to the corrupt governing entities. Bring alternate internet devices with you.

I believe that it is not yet time for civil disobedience, as the Lebanese people are not yet united. They do not have a cause yet. There are no martyrs yet.

This, unfortunately, will soon change. Give it a few days, and if the political parties do not tear the You Stink campaign to shreds, the ISF will. I can’t say how many martyrs will be necessary for Machnouk to give more than a statement from his vacation abroad, or how deep the rivers of blood will run for the international media to understand that this is more than a fight for garbage collection but rather a fight for control of the country.

With several political countries backed by international powers, I would not expect any change to come easily.

The last internal victory Lebanon had as a country was in 2005, but that was backed by certain political powers uniting against their common enemy at the time.

Since then, a long list of arrests, beatings, assassinations, and targeted political bankruptcy have been methodically used to target enemies of these governing entities.

I do not condone violence, neither through street protests nor open revolutions.

Nonviolent confrontations have succeeded in the past and will do so  in the future. MLK’s I Have A Dream VS the Black Panthers has proved this ideology.

You have the power of Google (if you have internet and electricity lol), use it to research self protection in these times. Gas masks are expensive, but there are home made products and methods that can me used safely and legally. Remember, safety first, both digitally and on the field.

  1. To the protest organizers: DO NOT USE THE FACEBOOK PAGE as a single point of communication with the masses. Facebook is not your friend, and a page can easily be taken down blocked or seized through legal and illegal methods.
  2. Have a united list of demands. It’s ridiculous how a garbage cleanup and demands for a minister resigning can quickly turn into an unplanned demand for cabinet resignation into a void, or even complete revolution. Stay focused. Baby steps. Bad media will jump on the chance to show divided lines.
  3. Using a website hosted in a non friendly country will retain it’s uptime to 99%.
  4. Using a domain name should have a hidden credit card, with a private domain name registration in order to avoid hacking and legal seizure of digital assets.
  5. Using emails should not be through Gmail or Hotmail. They are the easiest to track back to their source.
  6. Do not use home internet connections to upload sensitive data. Non government entities can also track them back to the source. Saving phone contacts under “Ryan Hamze – YouReek” makes it easier for ISF to track down others in case of arrest (and illegal phone searches).
  7. If you cannot physically take part of a movement, support them online. Do NOT criticize anyone during major incidents as tensions are high. Leave the constructive  criticism for later and talk with community leaders.
  8. Always give credit to photo or video takers. During the chaos people tend to forget the ethics that govern social media. It is a weed that I’ve been trying to get rid of for 5 years, and others have joined this fight too like “السلطة الخامسة “, Blog Baladi, and Lebanese Blogs. The rest think it’s just a side issue, but at this point, I digress. I’ve been trying to track down the original taker of this epic shot, but come up short. This may well represent the image of the movement/revolution/ideology in the future, so it would be nice (and ethical) not to piggy pack on an anonymous tweep.Update: photographer wishes to remain anonymous
    1. If you are a protest organizer, do not be a media hog. They will target you and arrest you while you sleep a week later. Be anonymous.
    2. If you are a protest organizer, do not use your personal email or home internet connection. You are already being monitored and documented, so your plans will be used against you when you set them inn action.
    3. Steel trays will not be of much use against bullets, but a properly modified Sobia Tray would be of use against the riot police. Straps should be tested before hand.
    4. Do not park near the main event. Assume things will turn nasty and roads will be blocked and people pursued en masse.
    5. Have an emergency point of assembly every hour on the hour. Once cell coverage is blocked (or the infrastructure breaks thank you Botrous Harb)  you will be acting blind and people who are afraid and lost tend to do stupid things.
    6. For those who have gas masks, I suggest they train on how to sling small objects (like gas grenades) back at the source since they will be in the front line of fire.
    7. Do not bring knives or guns to the protest, it will deem the protest violent instead of a peaceful one. Hell will be unleashed. This is a method used methodically by Shabiha and secret police, who run with the crowd and trick the mass psychi into violence or entrapment.
    8. If you see secret police or Shabiha or overzealous demonstrators doing something against the common good, do not be afraid to call them out. Others will still see sense through the red haze of anger and help control the situation.
    9. Containers of milk should be on standby with makeshift bases for the Lebanese Red Cross.
    10. Bring Spray paint with different colors. Marking the ground for crowd control, marking a shabiha among you, and a bunch of other legal and safe uses. Do NOT spray the police riot shields, this will hinder their vision and render you a threat.
    11. Everyone should have Superglue (Altico) with them. It might save a life once the bullets start flying.
    12. Make sure the flags do NOT have strong wooden sticks that can be used for violence in case of trouble. Also, nobody wants to see that flag on the ground so be smart.
    13. Waterproof your phones and provide shock proof casings.
    14. Don’t forget to clean up after the demonstration. Bad media can rip a cause to shreds.
    15. Try not to get arrested. It’s not a smart thing to play martyr, especially since you may get beaten up and raped by parliament security and ISF.
    16. Never take the offensive when ISF and Army are involved. They are trained men and have Shabiha among them, they will not hesitate to kill you. Defensive tactics are your only friend.
    17. Children, and the elderly should be made aware to step back in case of violence. Let the stronger individuals cover a retreat. Obviously in this case I cannot say “Women” should stay back, because honestly I’ve seen a more than a few hard headed Lebanese women take on the ISF before. Do you remember “The Tomato Revolution”?
    18. For front runners, always wear a mask or kuffyye. Even if you escape the events taking place, your family may not be so safe.
    19. Safety in numbers. Stay close to large groups, ISF will more likely pick off anyone claiming they’re Press or injured.
    20. Always run to the edge of any mass confrontation.
    21. If you are cornered, DO NOT FIGHT BACK. These men are trained their entire lives to subdue people like you. Put your arms over your head and curl into the fetal position. If you raise your arms above your heads like in Hollywood movies, you will get your head bashed in as per the Lebanese code of ethics.
    1. Self Defense only in case you are being beaten senselessly and fear for your life:
    2. Assess your assailant. Look at their hands. If they were about to attack with their hands, they would have their hands out. However, if they are concealing a weapon, they will have them hidden or at their side. If Batons are shaking then they are revving up for a coordinated assault, do NOT take head on, use defensive tactics and trays. In case of gunfire in the air, stay united in a single line. In case of gunfire directly into your ranks, do NOT run, you will only trample the people behind you, go to the sides and lay down on the floor until you are able to run freely to safety and escape arrest.
    • Go for the eyes and nose. If you have to end the fight as quickly as possible by striking first, strike hard, and strike as many times as you can, then run for help
    • Kick or grab the groin of a male attacker. Bringing a knee sharply into the groin of an attacker or grabbing the groin with your hand and twisting is an instantly effective move that will take your attacker down.
    • Go for the kneecaps. If, for example, you are being choked, or your assailant has their hands up in your face, attacking their legs will give you the opportunity to open him up to more attacks, or allow you to escape. This is especially effective on larger attackers and easy to do from your guarded position.
  9. Comparing Beirut’s You Stink protest to Kiev’s Orange Protests is quite alarming. If history has taught us anything, is that peaceful protests soon turn violent on both ends.
    The Security Forces will not back down, and will be escalating into fatal…
    ryanhamze.com

Jewish authors opposing Israel genocide “preemptive war” on Gaza: Got arrested in the US

 

Finkelstein arrested

Norman Finkelstein and 25 others were arrested for civil disobedience. (July 29, 2014)

“For 20 days I have sat in front of this computer like a mad man.

Tomorrow I will be arrested and arrested and arrested until this madness ends.”

Stop The Terror Bombing!

Lift The Blockade!

Today!

.

.

.

Norman NY2
NY2
ny4

Norman NY

 

 

Indignation. Of the Righteous Kinds: militarism, liberal capitalism, institutionalized Terror…

What is the Radical Tradition of Martin Luther King Jr?

How many of your parents support the war?”

The USA is the greatest purveyor of violence in the world”.

“And I knew that America would never invest the necessary funds or energies in the rehabilitation of its poor so long as adventures like Vietnam continued to draw men and skills and money like some demonic destructive suction tube.

So I was increasingly compelled to see the war as an enemy of the poor and to attack it as such.”

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

“When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.”

Michael Caster posted this January 20, 2014

Revisiting Righteous Indignation

There’s a scene in Lee Daniel’s The Butler when the son of Forest Whitaker’s character is sitting in the Lorraine Motel with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., shortly before his assassination.

Dr. King asks those assembled, “How many of your parents support the war?”

All the young men gathered in the room raise their hands, and in one sentence King summarizes that his opposition to the war is because the Vietnamese do not prejudice blacks.

There is something insidious in this scene, unintentional by the director, no doubt. It is the reproduction of the simplification myth of Dr. King, the crusader of a narrowly conceptualized struggle, rather than the fiery radical that he was.

His opposition to the Vietnam War was far more complex than the one liner afforded his character in the film, but the portrayal is sadly in line with the hijacking of his comprehensive philosophy.

For King’s was a radicalist of total justice, for black, white, rich, poor, gay, lesbian, Christian, Jew, or Muslim, that bears remembering as we honor him with a federal holiday this week.

One year to the day before his assassination, on April 4th, 1967, Dr. King delivered his most critical and divisive speechBeyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence.

It was an impassioned excoriation of imperialism and militarism, against the American government that King referred to as the “greatest purveyor of violence in the world.”

There was no ambivalence in his conviction. He had refused a first draft prepared by his close friend and legal counsel, Clarence Jones, who attempted to present multiple sides. King favored the total condemnation of war provided in Vincent Harding’s first version.

The two men agreed; their conscience left them no other choice but to speak out. King says:

It seemed as if there was a real promise of hope for the poor — both black and white — through the poverty program. There were experiments, hopes, new beginnings. Then came the buildup in Vietnam and I watched the program broken and eviscerated as if it were some idle political plaything of a society gone mad on war.

And I knew that America would never invest the necessary funds or energies in the rehabilitation of its poor so long as adventures like Vietnam continued to draw men and skills and money like some demonic destructive suction tube.

So I was increasingly compelled to see the war as an enemy of the poor and to attack it as such.

Four years earlier, in a Letter from a Birmingham Jail Dr. King acknowledged that, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

He was certainly focused on combating the institutionalized terror of segregation and racism, which was the target of the direct action that found him in that Birmingham Jail on April 16th, 1963.

King concerns for justice everywhere extended beyond contemporary popular depictions that his campaigning was confined to concerns of race alone. King makes it very clear,

I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we, as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values.

We must rapidly begin the shift from a “thing-oriented” society to a “person-oriented” society.

When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.

That same purveyor of violence abroad targeted in Beyond Vietnam, the United States, perpetrated and sponsored a great deal of violence against its own people.  And the struggle for human rights in the United States is a savage one still raging 28 years after the first Martin Luther King Jr. Day, as myriad incidents such as the killing and trial surrounding Trayvon Martin or Jena 6 illustrate.

It is not my intention to downplay the brutality of racial injustice targeted by King and others. My intention is to point out that King acknowledged that the causes of these and other injustices were inherently linked to a certain structure of oppression.

King and others targeted the totality of this violent power structure through sustained nonviolent action. It is that narrative of comprehensive resistance that has been sterilized.

In sickening episodes of appropriation, King has become a plaything in the hands of those who seek to justify their profiting from that same structure of abuse that he fought against with the bastardization of his legacy.

King’s most famous oration is his I Have a Dream speech and rightly should it be hailed for its outstanding rhetoric and the power of change it inspired. But so is “not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character” far less threatening to the established structure of power than denouncing it as the greatest purveyor of violence in the world.

The famous speech was uttered to an assembled crowd of more than 250,000 people in front of the Lincoln Memorial on August 28, 1963. With reason it is remembered as a decisive moment in the American Civil Rights Movement.

Latching onto King as the desegregator and not King the fiery radical is more comfortable for the creation of King the symbol.

Vincent Harding explained in a 2013 interview that conservatives love to take hold of the I have a Dream speech when King talks about not being judged by the color of ones skin as a way to avoid discussing race at all.

In the same interview, Harding challenges us to find ways to discover the content of one’s character. It is through critical dialogue, through nonviolent engagement, he says.

Meanwhile, as evidence of Harding’s concern, former Republican Florida representative, Allen West, wrote in an article for USA News on the 50th anniversary of that speech, that King’s dream had been derailed by liberal politics.

While Dr. King advocated evaluation on the content of one’s character, he opined, Americans had instead voted for Obama strictly based upon the color of his skin.

What is often altered through the lens of history, however, is the action at which the speech was delivered. The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom was as much about race as it was about economic inequality. (The main theme in Davos this year is social inequalities)

Its chief architects remind us of the diversity of participation and the complexity of grievances within the Civil Rights Movement.

The 1963 campaign drew its inspiration from the 1940’s desegregationist and labor rights March on Washington Movement organized by Philip Randolph, who began as a labor organizer and activist in New York in 1917, and Bayard Rustin, an openly gay former Quaker conscientious objector during World War II.

It is this confluence of interests that better encapsulates the character of King’s resistance, so callously warped by Allen West 50 years later.

There is no greater bastardization of King’s legacy than Glenn Beck’s 2010 so-called ‘Restoring Honor Rally.’ In his characteristic histrionics Beck credited divine inspiration in the timing of his political theatre set to coincide with the 47th anniversary of King’s I have a Dream speech.

Beck claimed to be picking up Martin Luther King’s dream in order to restore and finish it. But Beck’s narrative is one of resounding contradiction to everything epitomized by Martin Luther King.

A month preceding the farce, Glenn Beck spoke with King’s niece, Dr. Alveda King, who later also participated in his rally, alongside Sarah Palin and others.

Shockingly the niece embraced Beck’s subterfuge on his television program. The two, joined by then Republican congressional hopeful Stephen Broden, went so far as to cite the Biblical idea of an individual relationship with God as the justification for neo-liberal individualism, and the implicit demonization of social welfare.

The outrage is not in their personal interpretation of Biblical text but the way their discussion forced that argument into their constructed narrative of Martin Luther King. The obscenity continued when Alveda King claimed that her uncle would have approved of Beck’s message.

Not only did Beck use the platform of his rally to further his rhetoric of violence against the poor but the event was also billed to celebrate and promote the American military.

Glenn Beck is a wild supporter of American militarism and most recently attacked a LA Weekly film critic because she gave a recent war movie a bad review.

Glenn Beck is as good an antithesis to Martin Luther King as is available and because of the pomposity of his pulpit he represents an ideal lens through which to appreciate the various trends of abandoning King’s message and profaning his name to justify the very things he so fervently fought against.

And yet, popular outrage at Beck’s appropriation of King’s legacy was equally culpable in neglecting King’s fervent posture against materialism and militarism, or so the majority of mainstream criticism seemed to be.

In response to this kind of theft of the King narrative, Union Theological Seminary philosopher and preacher, Dr. Cornel West explains,

The absence of a King-worthy narrative to reinvigorate poor and working people has enabled right-wing populists to seize the moment with credible claims about government corruption and ridiculous claims about tax cuts’ stimulating growth. This right-wing threat is a catastrophic response to King’s 4 catastrophes; its agenda would lead to hellish conditions for most Americans.

Despite the issues addressed by Dr. West, it is far from merely conservatives and right-wing populists who have distorted King’s inherent radical commitment, and subdued the awesome force of his righteous indignation.

History has been contorted to shape a more consumer friendly image of Martin Luther King Jr. He is not hailed by popular commentary or honored by Obama on the federal holiday as the radical who would today be decrying the prison and military industrial complex, demanding the trial and incarceration of Wall Street executives, and sternly speaking against Obama’s continuation of Bush era disregard for human rights in the ‘war on terror’ and the ‘war on drugs,’ or the appallingly disproportionate numbers of convictions for people of color in the latter.

Where would King stand on the Tea Party’s fetishism of state’s rights?

One might recall the number of incidents necessitating federal troop intervention in Alabama, Arkansas, and elsewhere or the same rhetoric now employed by Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, or Rand Paul that echoes similar positions by “Bull” Connor or George Wallace.

How might King relate to Karl Rove, the Koch Brothers, or, as public intellectual Tavis Smiley has posed, comment on the more than a billion dollars raised between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama in the 2012 election versus the money spent on poverty reduction?

Martin Luther King gave his final speech on April 3rd, 1968 at the Mason Temple in Memphis Tennessee. What is often remembered of that last prophetic I’ve Been to the Mountaintop speech is King’s, “And I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the Promised Land!”

The speech is haunting in retrospect because it almost seemed as if King were prophesizing, much like Christ at the last supper, his impending assassination. But what drew King to Memphis that day is less repeated in popular retelling.

Dr. James Lawson, who like King had been baptized in the late 1950s by the nonviolent tradition of Gandhi and was a powerful figure in the movement, had encouraged Dr. King to join him in Memphis to show support at the Memphis sanitation worker strike that had begun two months earlier.

The catalyzing incident for the strike was the gruesome death of two black sanitation workers, Echol Cole and Robert Walker, crushed to death because of city rules that stated black sanitation workers were only allowed to shelter from the elements in the back of their garbage trucks.

The incident served to highlight years of gross labor violations and sparked the strike, along with boycotts, sit-ins and other acts of civil disobedience in support of the workers attempt to engage in collective bargaining for better working conditions.

This episode in Memphis was about racial discrimination but it was also about abhorrent labor rights and the exploitation of the poor.

King often reiterated the call to struggle against all forms of atrocity, violence against people of color and violence against the poor, as they are inextricably linked, and so too is war, the enemy of the poor, as Cornel West and Tavis Smiley are wont to repeat.

Or in his own words from the August 16th, 1967 Where do We go From Here, “when I say questioning the whole society, it means ultimately coming to see that the problem of racism, the problem of economic exploitation, and the problem of war are all tied together. These are the triple evils that are interrelated.”

The day after standing in solidarity with the Memphis strikers, King was gunned down by James Earl Ray, an outspoken racist and active campaign volunteer for George Wallace’s pro-segregationist presidential campaign.

Despite the prima facie connection between Ray’s racism and the assassination, Vincent Harding is convinced that the most contributing factor to King’s murder was his vociferous condemnation of the war in Vietnam and his outspoken denouncement of American imperialism and militarism.

We do at least know that the last poll taken on King’s popularity revealed that indeed 55% of black community and 72% of Americans at large had turned against King because of his opposition to the war.

By the late 1960s, the US government, under the Johnson administration, had slowly become prepared to tolerate some of the notions of increasing racial equality and access to public space but the apex of intellectual and symbolic power, the capitalist war machine, was aghast that King would enter their world.

The structure of power was warming to the idea of tolerating King the civil rights leader and desegregationist but it was unwilling to desegregate the symbolic power to be analyzed and critiqued.

It is a segregation of thought and a demonization of those who would criticize America that still haunts whistleblowers and activists in Obama’s America today.

It was King’s sophisticated and emboldening challenge to capitalist morality and militaristic or imperialistic motives that needed to be sterilized before he could become a politically viable symbol.

In a recent piece for Salon, historian David L. Chappell outlines the history of congressional objections to the creation of an MLK federal holiday. His article serves to refute the odd conservative claims to the legacy of civil rights going back to Lincoln, because of textual similarity in the name of their party.

A few days after the assassination, Michigan Democratic congressman, John Conyers, first proposed honoring Martin Luther King Jr. with a federal holiday.

Illinois was the first state to adopt MLK Day as a state holiday in 1973. Ten years later, North Carolina senator Jesse Helms loudly objected to honoring King with a federal holiday, specifically citing King’s stance on Vietnam and his war on poverty, calling him a Marxist and Communist.

As reported at the time, Helms’ fanatical objections were crushed by a ‘scathing denunciation’ by senator Edward Kennedy and similar criticism from Republican presidential hopeful Bob Dole.

But two recent Republican presidential candidates, Ron Paul and John McCain were among those who agreed with Helms in objecting a federal holiday for MLK.

After nearly two decades of discussion and puerile character assassination, Congress eventually passed Conyers’ proposal to remember King with a federal holiday. Reagan signed the bill in 1983 and it took effect in 1986.

Shockingly not until 2000 did all 50 states recognize it as a state holiday. South Carolina was the last.

In observation of the 28th MLK day it is a moral duty to ensure that the legacy observed is honest to the content of his character. We should repeat his rhetorical question of August 16th, 1967.

In his own words, “When you ask that question, you begin to question the capitalist economy. And I’m simply saying that more and more, we’ve got to begin to ask questions about the whole society.

King broadened the target of his resistance to encapsulate the totality of an oppressive power structure, moving beyond purely race-based grievances.

The abhorrent racism prevalent in King’s America and its mutated contemporary manifestations are a byproduct of this power, but King’s speeches reveal a more diverse synthesis for resistance.

It was this unwavering challenge of the very foundations of that structure of power that needed to be sterilized, lest his posthumous words serve their intentions to mobilize. By stripping him of his radicalism, and simplifying his challenges against power to a selection of sound-bite grievances, the institutions of oppression maintained their monopoly on symbolic power and rebranded Martin Luther King into more comfortable and narrowly confined terms.

This is the alchemist disregard for truth that has attempted to warp the spirit of King’s radicalism for political expediency.

It has become a convenient platform for some to spin King’s radicalism into a de-fanged demand for racial harmony and a colorless society, where claims of reverse racism are mingled with blanket denouncements of racial violence because we live in a post-racial America.

It is a twisted appropriation of King’s words to blame the victim of abuse for continued victimization, and we see this in the surprisingly bipartisan attacks on the poor and people of color. For some, King’s Reverend status has become an argument for injecting fundamentalist evangelicalism into politics, as we noticed of Beck above.

These are the most flagrant bastardizations but what is more frustrating is the popular amnesia, the collective will to accept the sterilized form and neglect the righteous indignation that demands coordinated action in the face of all injustice.

This is not to neglect active resistance such as the Occupy movement and myriad other campaigns. However, in certain contemporary radical movements we find the negative effects of the simplification of King’s sophisticated analysis of the diversity of oppression and the need for coordinated, strategic resistance.

We can see this in the balkanization of resistance on the left, where interests vie for prominence rather than seeking consensus. A continuing frustration for those who have carried on with King, Lawson, and others’ efforts is the abandonment of strategic nonviolence, or treating King as nothing more than a symbolic tactic, for the same kind of commoditized radicalism that has made radical democratic theory or Anarchism a fashion accessory.

It is King’s righteous indignation at injustice everywhere and profound challenge to all forms of abusive power that should be reenacted in his name,  not the political pageantry of Obama’s community service.

With that radical reenactment we must respond to the question “where do we go from here?

Dr. Cornel West hazarded a response in 2011, noting that rather than a memorial King would have wanted a revolution.

Note 1: Michael Caster is a researcher and human rights advocate. He has lived and worked in five countries on four continents, focusing on nonviolent civil resistance and contentious politics. On Twitter @michaelcaster and he can be reached at mengkunc@gmail.com. Read other articles by Michael.

This article was posted on Monday, January 20th, 2014 at 5:48pm and is filed under General.

Note 2: Time for Outrage https://adonis49.wordpress.com/2011/03/02/time-for-outrage-indignez-vous-what-are-gene-sharp-stephane-hessel-assad-abou-khalil-adonis49/

Note 3: There is a difference between Civil Disobedience and non-violent movements https://adonis49.wordpress.com/2013/11/25/disobedience-is-mans-original-virtue-and-non-cooperative-movements-of-gandhi/

Disobedience is man’s original virtue…”

In “The soul of man under socialism”, Oscar Wild wrote:

“Disobedience, in the eyes of anyone who has read history, is man’s original virtue. It is through disobedience that progress has been made, and through rebellion…”

In “On the concept of history”, Walter Benjamin wrote:

“There is no document of civilization which is not at the same time a document of barbarism…”

James Fenton in “Blood and Lead”

“Listen to what they did.

Don’t listen to what they said.

What was written in blood

Has been set up in lead”

In “The recollection of Alexis de Tocqueville 1896

In a revolution, as in a novel, the most difficult part to invent is the End

W.H Auden in “Epitaph on a Tyrant

“Perfection, of a kind, is what he was after,

And the poetry he invented was easy to understand

He knew human folly like the back of his hand,

And was greatly interested in armies and fleets.

When he laughed, respected senators burst with laughter,

And when he cried, the little children died in the streets.”

In “Sonnets from China II”, Auden wrote: “They wept and quarreled: Freedom was so wild”

Mustafa Abdel Jalil (Libya interim president) said in September 2011:

“I hope the revolution will not stumble by retribution, taking matters into your hands and oppression…”

Late Vaclav Havel (President of Austria) said:

“Decent people cannot sit back and watch systematic, state-directed massacres. Decent people cannot fail to come to the rescue when within their power…”

Joseph Joubert wrote: “Love and Fear. Everything the father of a family says must inspire one or the other”

Joseph Stalin (Absolute dictator of the Soviet Union) said:

Death is the solution to all problems. No man, no problem

Omar Mukhtar (Libya resistance fighter leader to Italian occupation during Mussolini) said:

“We win or we die.” Finally, he surrendered and was taken to Rome in chains

Muammar Qadhafi wrote in his “Green Book”:

“There are inevitable cycles of social history:

1. The Yellow Race’s dominion of the world in Asia

2. The White Race’s attempt at colonizing extensive areas in all continents

3. Now it is the turn of the Black race to prevail in the world…”

One of the first steps to disobedience is to wean yourself out of rituals and ceremonies. Start to question the rationale and historical meaning and purposes of the rituals you are submitting to.

Civil disobedience is not an easy resolution to get engaged in: Law and Order institutions have to be revisited and reflected upon their validity in the pursuit of happiness, freedom of expression, human rights, and availability of opportunities to all regardless of race, genders, religious belief, and financial status.

Gandhi has developed the guidelines for non-cooperative movements against governments that broke their oaths and pledges to serving the people and are exercising cruelty, exploitation and oppression.

The program of non-cooperation is of 4 steps, each step is meant to reach a higher level of disobedience to the authority.

The first responsibility is to exposing, precisely, the project to the population at large through meetings and focused communication.

The next step is to convince the public servants to voluntarily abandon their titled positions and charges with the government and encouraging the lawyers and judges to stop serving the government.  No pressures should be exercised on the functionaries, especially if the movement is unable to provide for the bread winners. The private employees are excluded from the requirements of abandoning their services.

The third step would ask the army and security officers and soldiers to retreat from their duties.

The last step would amount to refusing paying taxes to the government.

In order to shorten the period of resistance with a successful outcome, the organization of the non-cooperative movement should cater to the weakest members in social status or economic needs.  The members of the movement should:

1.  stop taking loans from government funds;

2. conflicts among the members must be resolved through private arbitrage because lawyers should suspend the exercise of their official profession toward the government.

3. The members should start boycotting public schools; (in this request, I would include boycotting private schools so that no discrimination in economic status should be established).

4. The members should not attend any government reunions and meetings and ceremonies; they should refuse accepting any civil or military post.

5. In case of being under occupation, the members should rely solely on local and national products and manufactures “swadeshi” and thus,boycotting imported consumer’s products from the colonial powers.

For more details on non-violent-resistance-guidelines:  https://adonis49.wordpress.com/2008/10/03/gandhis-non-violent-resistance-guidelines/

Note 1: Quotes taken from “Sandstorm (El Ghibli): Libya in the time of revolution” by Lindsey Hitsum

Note 2: Listen to Matt Damon on “Civil obedience is the problem” Howard Zinn

You Think You Know Someone, and Then He Gets on a Stage and Blows Your Mind
represent.us

Is Real Change handicapped by Professional Activism?

It’s disconcerting to find so few faces in the prominent ranks of the environmental movement that reflect the realities and experiences of those bearing the brunt of climate collapse.

Estimates show that since 1990 more than 90% of natural disasters have occurred in poor countries and that, globally, communities of color have been disproportionately impacted by air, soil and water pollution.

Numbers also demonstrate that low-income households are hit the hardest by disasters, due to factors such as poor infrastructure and economic instability.

Yet those making strategic decisions are sitting in air-conditioned board rooms, hoping their conversations will pave the way for profound systemic change. Those most impacted by socioeconomic ills and environmental degradation are rarely present at those tables.

This disconnect is quite alarming. Those of us frustrated with this scenario have turned to a deeper analysis and framework over the last decade—that of climate justice. Defining “climage” justice is a work in progress; honoring and integrating it are lifelong struggles.

Henia Belalia posted on AlerNet this Oct. 29, 2013:

Is Professional Activism Getting in the Way of Real Change?   

“With budgets and voices so loud, professionals’ messages overshadow the call for uprisings coming from the trenches.

  

To tackle the root (read: radical) causes of the climate crisis, we must first acknowledge that environmental degradation exacerbates existing economic, racial and social injustices—an interconnectedness that should define our analysis and actions.

To truly win, land and justice defenders must recognize overlapping systems of oppression within this capitalist structure, and take strategic cues from the communities most impacted by colonization, militarism and poverty. That means building movements across issues and beyond divides based on race, class and gender, while elevating the voices that have been historically marginalized: indigenous peoples, communities of color, women, LGBTQ people, and the low-income population.

To do so will take a profound decolonization of minds and professional institutions.

For many in this country, resistance isn’t a choice—it’s not fashionable—it’s plain survival.

Walking through the streets of northern Philadelphia, my heart sinks. The rundown streets of a forgotten city, its gifts and peoples deemed disposable by the state’s corporate and governmental elites. Empty lots, dozens of schools shut down, despairingly long waiting-lists for access to public education, while across the invisible divide, bright lights shine and champagne glasses clink, unperturbed.

In the Far Rockaways of New York City, I come across wounds still bleeding, left open to the winds. Memories of Hurricane Sandy lie in the debris lining the sidewalks, the closed-down businesses and uneven pavements, the local hospital on the brink of closure.

The mass incarcerations of our brothers, fathers, lovers of color, stuck in vicious cycles of debt, drugs and street violence, the straight shot from a poor home to a gray prison cell. The overflowing detention centers, filled with terrified youth ripped from their families, many of them waiting to be deported to countries they haven’t set foot in since early childhood.

Indigenous nations, whose land we’re standing on, surviving 500 years of cultural and ethnic genocide, in the form of boarding schools, involuntary sterilization of their women, and broken treaties.

These are the unsung faces of the resistance. The lived experiences of the warriors and very survival should not only drive the direction of our movements, but will inevitably determine the success of our struggle for collective liberation.

Instead, within the existing mainstream culture, while organizing has shifted to career-based models, anti-oppression work has become fashionable, and even worse, fundable.

Through training, some may have learned the politically correct language to use, but much of the “anti-oppression” process has remained superficial, void of a real consideration for intersections of race, class and gender. This has resulted in a few token organizers of color hired into the ranks of respectable positions in big non-governmental organizations, with an unspoken expectation that they will be speaking for other brothers and sisters of color.

Meanwhile, for those coming from low-income households or without a college education, the doors of opportunity within the environmental and climate movement are almost always out of reach.

For a person once seduced by an organizing career and its false promises of liberation, it was a rude awakening. As a brown migrant woman, often tokenized as the “good kind of Arab,” if I wanted a meaningful voice in this movement, I was going to have to take up space for myself, much like many had done before me. That also meant taking responsibility for my own layers of privilege, like my college education and access to resources, that most in my family aren’t privy to.

The professionalization of change-making has created a non-profit industrial complex (NPIC) which hinders rather than promotes liberation movements. At Power Shift 2011, a national climate conference bringing together thousands of youth, there was a literal physical divide between the workshop spaces for the college students (mostly white middle-class) and the front-line communities (low-income, mostly youth of color). Since they were assigned different training tracks and curriculum, one of the only overlaps was during keynote speeches.

This year, at the same conference, several delegations of marginalized youth were promised funds for food and transportation that were either never or only partially delivered. These practices are counter-productive to social change, as they perpetuate the very systemic oppression we’re fighting. These practices are counter-productive to social change, as they perpetuate the very systemic oppression we’re fighting.

Meanwhile, NGOs are competing for membership and campaign victories, racing for measurable results that will prove to their funders that they deserve yet more money.

In a 9-year period, big greens received over $10 billion in funding, with only 15% of grants (between 2007-2009) allotted to marginalized communities. This discrepancy is appalling, especially given the fact that more money means more institutional costs and infrastructure, which often translates to compromises and watered-down actions.

This top-down funding strategy ignores the history of resistance—that large-scale social change stems from the grassroots and a sturdy leadership from the oppressed peoples who have a vested interest in fighting for freedom.

It’s hard to imagine a popular uprising being initiated by those relying on the comforts of paychecks and organizational stability, so those voices shouldn’t dominate the narrative. Often it’s professional activists heard shouting into megaphones, calling for escalation and taking it to the streets. As economies crash, natural disasters multiply, and countries are torn apart by war, that call rings true.

But what happens when an organization like MoveOn.org adopts Occupy’s grassroots message for the purpose of publicizing nationwide direct action trainings, but discourages trainers from promoting civil disobedience because of their organizational politics?

Or when the Natural Resources Defense Council and World Wildlife Fund work with the fossil-fuel industry, the latter quite satisfied to  buy them out and define their own opposition in the process? These examples show a disconnect and an inability to build genuine relationships with those on the ground.

With budgets and voices so loud, the professionals’ messages overshadow the call for uprisings coming from the trenches. Though those cries may not be amplified by megaphones or on the front pages of websites, they can be heard rumbling through the neighborhoods, detention centers, prisons, native reservations, homeless shelters, and broken-down apartment buildings.

So the question is, how will the mainstream respond when front-line communities take to the streets, when communities of color reclaim our power and stand our ground? Will the movement be ready and willing to demonstrate intentional and genuine solidarity?

With anti-oppression on the tip of everyone’s tongues these days, it is critical to remind ourselves that working with those who’ve been historically oppressed is not about atonement of guilt, stroking of egos, or moving personal agendas forward.

Andrea Smith refers to this in a recent piece, as an “  entire ally industrial complex   (that) has developed around the professional confession of privilege.

This practice of atonement perpetuates power imbalances by re-centralizing the voices and experiences of those carrying historical privilege, this time elevating them to the role of righteous confessors. This “anti-oppression” work Smith writes about is missing the mark entirely.

From Naomi Klein to Van Jones, from organizers of the ’99 WTO protest to blockaders of the Keystone XL pipeline in Texas, a similar message resonates: the non-profit industrial complex needs to deepen its class analysis, tackle white supremacy within its own institutions, and dump the colonialist “savior” syndrome.

Professional activists must challenge institutionalized and structural privilege within their own organizations, in terms of air time, resources, influence, and how much space they take up.

What can professional activists do to decolonize the mainstream movement?

1. Make financial resources available to those communities that need it most, rather than filling the bank accounts of multi-million-dollar organizations.

2. Open up seats at the decision-making table for the freedom fighters on the front lines, rather than inviting them for the photo op once all the strategy has been laid out.

3. Get out of the way when those whose stories must be told are speaking up, rather than writing up studies about their experience.

4. Take the time to learn and practice genuine ally-ship that doesn’t translate to condescending tokenism.

To reflect integrity, this process cannot be driven by the need for personal and organizational recognition. Challenging our own internalized -isms is a constant work in progress, one that can take a lifetime.

From the jungles of Mexico, the Zapatistas wisely remind us of the longevity of this process, that we must walk on asking questions—”preguntando caminamos.”

To those of you on the front lines, to the brothers and sisters of color wearing ancestors in our flesh, carrying in our bodies the historical traumas of a system designed to break our spirits and exterminate us, it is a testament to our resilience that we’re still here, that we’ve survived over time.

To those who still wonder when the time for a radical shift will come, it has. Our day-to-day reality won’t be getting scary somewhere down the road, in some distant future—there’s a war being waged against our communities right now!

In this day of climate crises and economic collapse, of lingering white supremacy and patriarchy, the struggle is as much about resistance as it is about community survival programs, as much about taking down the fossil fuel industry as decolonizing our own minds. This moment calls upon us to get real about what that will take from us, what the responsibilities entail, and what real solidarity looks like.

If this movement is serious about winning and shifting our current paradigm, we are going to have to give up some comforts and get out of the way when the times call for it.

Note: Hénia Belalia is on the National Coordinating Committee of Deep Roots United Front, and the former director of Peaceful Uprising. She identifies as a climate justice defender, theater director and day dreamer of collective liberation.
Her work is rooted in a constantly evolving practice of allyship to frontlines of struggle, with a focus on the intersections of environmental and social justice.

Is peaceful protest a waste of time?

To better comprehend Gandhi’s civil protest movement, read link in the note.

Vanessa Baird posted this Oct. 13, 2013:

We were proud.

On 29 September, more than 50,000 of us marched in the Manchester sunshine, fighting to save the NHS and other public goods.

In spite of our vast numbers, it was an intelligent, good-nature protest, without any incidences of violence or public disorder.

And with hardly any coverage in the national press either – even though we were taking our protest right to the journalist-packed heart of the problem, the Conservative Party at conference.

2013-10-11-climate.jpg [Related Image]
The G20 climate camp shut down the City of London and generated a lot of attention before it was broken up by riot police. Les Hutchins under a Creative Commons Licence

Was it a waste of time?

Not in terms of building solidarity and showing support for health workers struggling to save the NHS as the government dismembers it, selling bits of it off under the fig-leaf of austerity.

Not if you think of all the families with children or elderly and disabled people who could march freely in a police-light environment, without fear of being kettled and baton-charged.

And if the purpose was to show, through numbers and the sheer ordinariness of the people protesting, the extent of public concern and unwillingness to be taken in by coalition spin.

But in terms of rattling the cages of policy makers and getting them to rethink the damage they are doing, it was a gentle rattle, easily ignored.

If I think of successful protests that have commanded attention – the Poll Tax riots or the Kingsnorth climate camp actions, for example – these have been far more raucous and disobedient affairs.

Even the recent UK Uncut action that blockaded roads in protest against legal aid cuts, though it involved only 500 people or just 1% of the number that marched in Manchester, got more news coverage.

The reason is simple. There was disruption – there was fear of danger and potential violence.

Getting into the news isn’t everything, unless you are protesting about something it is pretty important.

By and large, the public prefer peaceful demos, and complain when actions have been hijacked by ‘mindless thugs’.

Chances are that those complainers would not have heard of the protest had it lacked that vital newsworthy ingredient – a bit of civil disobedience, a touch of criminal damage, some arrests.

As a journalist, I recognize that people marching from A to B and then having a rally at the end – even if there are lots of you – is not a great news story in the conventional sense.

As I wrote a recent blog about the Manchester march I have to admit that, enthused as I was by the event and what it represented, making it interesting to readers was a bit of a challenge.

I believe that resisting austerity requires a wide range of tactics.

And although I tend towards the peaceful ones, I increasingly believe that it’s the actions that seriously disrupt which bring us face-to-face with what is at stake. This is especially pertinent when acts of criminal damage or violence against property are done to prevent a greater violence – that against people.

This is the violence that is happening right now. Kill the NHS and you kill people.

Take disability benefits away from people who depend on them for their lives and you are encouraging them to commit suicide.

Force people out of their homes because they cannot pay ‘the bedroom tax’ and you are making them homeless and knocking years off their life expectancy.

Take legal aid away from those who cannot afford lawyers and you kill all hope of justice. Ensure your policies make the rich even richer, and you are committing an act of the most grotesque economic violence.

These are the acts of government violence that are happening right now in every part of Britain.

This is what we need to expose and resist. If a bit of serious public disobedience creates the spark to crack open what increasingly feels like a closed debate, let it roll.

November 5 – Guy Fawkes – has been declared a Day of Civil Disobedience. Time to start plotting?

Find out how at the People’s Assemblies Network.

Note: Vanessa Baird lived and worked as a journalist in Peru during the tumultuous mid-1980s, and she maintains a passionate interest in South America.

She joined New Internationalist as a co-editor in 1986 and since then has written on everything from migration, money, religion and equality to indigenous activism, climate change, feminism and global LGBT rights.

Vanessa edits the Mixed Media, arts and culture section of the magazine. – See more at: http://newint.org/blog/2013/10/11/is-peaceful-protest-a-waste-of-time/#sthash.OtiMCkuT.dpuf

Notehttps://adonis49.wordpress.com/2008/10/03/gandhis-non-violent-resistance-guidelines/

“I die as I have lived…”: Who is Nour Merheb?

“I die as I lived, a free spirit, an Anarchist (referring to the American lady who tried several times to commit suicide), owing no allegiance to rulers, heavenly or earthly.  Down with pack leaders, and power to the people, and to each and every human…

Life is a big prison and I intend on vanquishing this condition”.  Nour Merheb (25 year-old Lebanese) sent this message on Facebook at 3:20 am on Sept. 16.

At 4 am, Nour rented a room at a seaside hotel in Amchit.  Shortly after, he donned a plastic bag over his face and opened the Helium canister.  A note was left saying: “Don’t touch the corpse. Call 112 (emergency number)”

This piece of news was published in the Lebanese daily Al Nahar on Thursday Sept. 21

Who is this Nour Merheb?

People who barely knew him said that he had extreme convictions and positions on secular reforms, and civic status.  If these convictions were the reason to committing suicide in hopeless Lebanon, a fundamentally Non-State country, many Lebanese should be committing mass suicide ceremonies instead of group wedding. I should have been among the dead long time ago, with or without a short message.

At 17, Nour organized a sit-in at Jal el Deeb public high school condemning Syria illegal workforce in Lebanon, while Lebanese lacked opportunities for work.  In 2003, Nour was demanding that tuition in public schools be reduced:  It was prohibitive to spend over $450 on fees, books, and miscellaneous expenses when the monthly minimum wage was less than $200.

In the same year, Nour started civil disobedience in front of the ministry of education. Late Rafic Hariri PM ended up calling him personally to desist.

Nour Merheb was a moving event on his own: discussed restlessly, and talked  non-stop to audiences.  He claimed that there are no limits to human mind.  He instituted “Citizen Council” and refused to show up at the military court condemning him to two-month prison term.

I wish more information be forthcoming to comprehend this urge of a youth to go the drastic way.

Why people cannot wait after a good night sleep to committing suicide?

Why not let the brain sort out the difficulties during sleep and offering new perspectives?  Why now, before the voting on the Palestinian State in the UN?

We can live to be a hundred, but it is doubtful that we  might get a handle of the critical questions “Why do we live?”; “What’s the point of so much endurance if the end result is dust to dust?…”: “why all the hassle if earth is bound to disintegrate…?

Rest in peace Nour Merheb: You quit too soon.

There is a long way in the struggle to acquiring a proper citizenship, respect and dignity to all mankind…

Note: I stumbled on a link expanding further on Nour Merheb:  Sept. 23 2011 by Maya Mikdashi

[Nour Merheb, Image from Facebook] [Nour Merheb, Image from Facebook]

On September 16, 2011, Nour Merheb killed himself. Nour did not leave a wife, husband, or children behind. He did not publish any books, did not write opinion pieces for influential newspapers, and did not parade himself in front of television cameras to provide expert opinions. He did not die in a protest facing down an authoritarian regime, he was not killed by an occupier’s bullet, and his death will not inspire a popular uprising in Lebanon. He was not what academics would call an intellectual, nor was he what politicians would claim as a martyr. But it feels wrong to let his death go unmarked, as if his citations, or markings, could only ever be found in books, articles, or news channels.

The night he killed himself, Nour sent a suicide email to his friends and colleagues, writing

“my dear friends, I’m sending this message to explain what I did and ask you to stand up for your and my rights”.

He explained that he wanted his death to be an opportunity to continue a struggle that he had been involved in his entire life; that of reforming the Lebanese State into a modern and secular one.

Nour had been a committed activist since he was 16, and he had collaborated and worked with nearly all of the engaged secular activists that I have met over two years of dissertation research. In his suicide email, Nour urged his friends and fellow activists to fight for his right to be cremated, stating that they should stand up “if my atheism was not respected”. His email ended with a plea and a call to action that situated his suicide within a discourse of “secular activism” in Lebanon:

i don’t want to be buried in a cemetery. i despise christianity and other religions! i don’t want any fucking priest to pray over my body! i want to be burned and thrown away!

You knowing this puts a burden on you to make sure i will not be forced in my death to be a christian…Please fight for my rights and your rights…It has been a pleasure knowing every single one of you, and fighting next to many of you!”

When a citizen dies in Lebanon, she/he is buried according to the traditions of the religious sect they are identified “belonging to” according to the individual civil status (census?) registry, principally the domain of the religious sect. A citizen the State classifies as a “Sunni Muslim” cannot be buried in a coffin, just as a “Maronite Christian” cannot be buried without a priest present because that sectarian and religious classification in the census registry corresponds to a personal status law which outlines proper burial rites.

Neither of them can be cremated, which is what Nour wanted. Almost immediately after his final email circulated, leading secular activists in Lebanon implicitly framed Nour’s suicide and final wishes within a discourse of the 2011 Arab uprisings. They compared his suicide to the thousands protestors who have died trying to overthrow their respective regimes and suggested that the Lebanese state was oppressing Nour even in death by not allowing him to “choose” how, and if, to be buried. For many of Lebanon’s secular activists, Nour’s suicide is a political statement that indexes the inability of the Lebanese state to protect and support the autonomous decisions of its citizens. For many of these activists’ detractors, Nour’s death proved that one of the leading youth voices for change in Lebanon was deranged, amoral, and cowardly.

Throughout his life Nour fought against what he believed was unjust. He produced an astonishing amount of activist campaigns and political writings in the short time he was alive, perhaps because he knew he did not want to live long. He studied law at the extremely competitive Faculty of Law at the Lebanese University. Instead of practicing law, he used his expertise to spread awareness of the Lebanese legal system and the way it functions to a broader public. He could be found at diverse activist meetings (feminist, anti-sectarian, queer, pro-Palestinian, or anti-capitalist) and when found, he would always generously and kindly explain the complexities of how these causes are refracted through Lebanese law.

He built what he called “The Council of Citizens” and the “Human Rights Congress”, two organizations he hoped would empower citizens and non-citizens in Lebanon and embolden them to claim their rights from successive governments. Even in death, he paid attention to the details that are the law. He recorded his suicide in a rented room by the beach in order to prove to investigators that he was alone at the time of his death. He did this because he knew that under Lebanese law, suicides are investigated as homicides until proven otherwise.

When Nour was 17, he began an activist campaign demanding that the fees associated with public schooling in Lebanon be reduced. He argued that because the national minimum wage was (then) $200, the $450 public education fees effectively ensured that many children would not have access to education. That same year, 2003, Nour engaged in long-term civil disobedience in front of the Lebanese Ministry of Education in an attempt to get his message heard. At the time, he received a personal phone call from then-Prime Minister Rafik al Hariri asking him to stop his campaign. Five years later, Nour was brought to trial for allegedly attacking a member of the Lebanese armed forces.

He struggled at the military court for years to prove his innocence, and when he did so, the military justice system closed ranks. The Law demanded that Nour pay compensation to the man in a uniform who had falsely accused him, and had in fact beaten Nour bloody while he was off duty. The ability of military courts to enforce corrupted and violent justice is not a new story in the Arab world, but what Nour did next was unprecedented for Lebanon.

He held several press conferences where he explained, in excruciating and embarrassing detail, the rife corruption of the military courts. He picked his case apart publicly, allowing his life to be an example that others could learn from. He started a website dedicated to exposing the rotting insides of the Lebanese legal system. He announced he would no longer be attending any of the military court hearings concerning his case, adding that the military police knew where he lived and were welcome to come get him. Nour was found guilty of contempt in 2010, sentenced to three months of prison time and ordered to pay a fine. But, either due to the inefficiency of the courts system or to Nour’s success at waging a publicity war and gaining allies, he was never incarcerated.

For the past week, Lebanon’s activist world has been reeling, and mobilizing, from and around Nour’s death. It is understandable that his friends, colleagues and comrades would want to give his decision meaning, to give it felicity in a region twisted in the ecstasies of revolution.

The urge to make death speak is one that every human being has, or will feel, while she is alive. But instead of speculating on how, or if, Nour’s suicide will inspire (or can be made to inspire) others to act with a greater sense of urgency, or if his death will discourage other others from acting, I wanted in these lines to pause on his life.

I wanted to reflect on his life, as he did while he was alive. It is the secret of death to not know why Nour killed himself, sucking on a tube connected to a balloon connected to a bag until he fell asleep. It is the arrogance of the living to believe that we can understand death and hear its clear message. Somewhere in the space between the two, I hope that Nour is in peace.

Gandhi’s non-violent resistance guidelines, (February 21, 2008)

Non-violent resistance methods (ahisma), and its extension of non-cooperative activities to unjust governments, are not synonymous with the concept of passive resistance adopted in the Western culture: simply, non-cooperation entails sacrifices, pain and suffering that the uninitiated cannot endure.

Even taking to the court for redress is considered by Gandhi as a form of violent method that should be avoided by the members of satyagraha.  Passive resistance is the method of the weak who does not believe in his internal strength facing violent forces and who eventually might use violent methods if afforded.

The members of satiyagraha adopt non-violent methods out of strength and confidence in the victory of truth by personal suffering. Thus, members of satiyagraha will never use violent means since the opposing person is not an enemy, but the unjust laws that rob the citizens of their dignity as human united in life.

Non violence or satiyaghara means to adhere to truth or God, who represents unity in every life.  Consequently, the initiated should be a true believer in God irrespective of which religion he belongs to.

According to Gandhi, finding truth is the responsibility of the individual and is what he believes is just and good and thus, since truth is relative, then non-violence methods should be adopted so that we don’t commit errors and crimes in forcing our positions by coercion lest we discover later on that we were mistaken.

The initiated should work toward “brahmacharya” or sexual chastity in thought, seeing and touching and also chastity for seeking fortune and celebrity. Once we manage to dominate our senses, even once in our practice, then we cannot lose that achievement. The initiated should discuss issues of a program at length until he is convinced but finally he has to ultimately follow faith.

Gandhi has developed the guidelines for non-cooperative movements against governments that broke their oaths and pledges to serving the people and are exercising cruelty, exploitation and oppression.  The program of non-cooperation is of four steps, each step is meant to reach a higher level of disobedience to the authority.

The first responsibility is to exposing, precisely, the project to the population at large through meetings and focused communication.

The next step is to convince the public servants to voluntarily abandon their titled positions and charges with the government and encouraging the lawyers and judges to stop serving the government.  No pressures should be exercised on the functionaries, especially if the movement is unable to provide for the bread winners. The private employees are excluded from the requirements of abandoning their services.

The third step would ask the army and security officers and soldiers to retreat from their duties.

The last step would amount to refusing paying taxes to the government.

In order to shorten the period of resistance with a successful outcome, the organization of the non-cooperative movement should cater to the weakest members in social status or economic needs.  The members of the movement should:

1.  stop taking loans from government funds;

2. conflicts among the members must be resolved through private arbitrage because lawyers should suspend the exercise of their official profession toward the government.

3. The members should start boycotting public schools; (in this request, I would include boycotting private schools so that no discrimination in economic status should be established).

4. The members should not attend any government reunions and meetings and ceremonies; they should refuse accepting any civil or military post.

5. In case of being under occupation, the members should rely solely on local and national products and manufactures “swadeshi” and thus, boycotting imported consumer’s products from the colonial powers.

On the first day of the non-cooperation the members should:

1.  spend the day in suspending work and focusing on prayer and fasting to clean the spirit of violent tendencies and exorcise anger and resentment because non-violent activities require serenity in thought, talk and action.

The strength of non-violent resistance is based on the pressures of the innocents on the tyrant’s behavior.

Gandhi had worked to instituting a non-armed security force, not carrying even batons, head gears or shields as a protection to the abuses of the mob.  This non-armed and non-violent security force of members adhering to satyagraha is meant to absorb the frustration and anger of the demonstrators at the expense of hurt and even death to the satyagrahis instead of returning violence with violent reactions.

Consequently, the members of this special security force would undergo serious training, physical, mental and emotional, that are meant to gain inner strength to facing the violent behaviors of fellow men.

This force would be highly disciplined even more than soldiers and obey orders to serving the people in dangerous situations and catastrophes.

One of the main duties of this non-violent security force is to communicate and come to aid to ever family in the locality in daily life so that the inhabitants recognize them and feel very familiar to them and thus preventing deterioration in acute situations.

Gandhi made a distinction between “hartal” or going on strike and civil disobedience:

Going on strike can be understood by children and didn’t entail serious punishment by government but is a potent method to disseminating the message to the population at large.

The civil disobedience is a dangerous endeavor that has grave consequences of reprisal by the power to be and only the initiated and well disciplined satyagrahis can sustain the punishment, privation and suffering.  He also distinguished the sit-ins with fasting for personal interest and those done for the general benefit of the public.

Many crooks learned to fast in front of private properties in order to extort money from the proprietors who did not wish publicity or humiliations and Gandhi viewed these non-violent private interest actions as violent in nature.

Gandhi also comprehends that the means used to an end reflect the consequences to the contemplated objective. Thus, if you steal a watch from a person then you are a thief; if you save money to purchase the watch then it belongs to you but if you beg the person to donate it then you are sending the message that you can be enslaved.

In that respect, people who revolt using violent means to obtain their rights end up not respecting the duties and responsibilities commensurate to their rights; however, if these same rights are snatched through non-violent methods then you are ready to assume your responsibilities and these rights do not turn out to be a burden to society in the long run.

Gandhi considers that the force of truth, using non-violent methods and attitudes, is the prime mover in our development.  History, understood as the recording of wars engaged by monarchs, is at best interruption in the natural course of peaceful endeavors by the normal people. Thus, it is the mostly non-violent activities of people that kept societies alive, functioning and developing.

Gandhi united with the Moslems of India during their “Caliphate” resistance movement against the British and maintained his alliance throughout all his movements of non-violence resistance.  There are several reasons for Gandhi’s relentless alliance with the Moslems in India: first, the British government had reneged on the pledge to maintaining the Caliphate institution after the WWI if the Moslems of India served in the British army.

At the time, the Sultan of Turkey was considered the Caliphate of the Sunni and the British eliminated that religious title for the Moslem Sunni of India.  Gandhi genius was:

First, to never undertake a non-violent resistance movement before allying to the Moslems of India and thus showing a united national front against the British colonial power and their countless unjust laws and atrocities of mass murders.

Second, Gandhi elevated the mere political alliance to protecting unity of a movement into another level of a united society regardless of creed or social status.

Third, Gandhi respected any religion that believed that the search for truth can be done by having faith in a unique God.

Fourth, Gandhi encouraged the majority in any Nation to capitulate completely to the minorities’ requests so that no suspicion or violent reactions may be generated within a society; the basic tenant of this concept is that the majority will always be the winner as long as no confrontations are activated.  It has been proven that when a majority violently attacks a minority then they end up loosing in the long run because history always catches up with cowardly endeavors.

The modern actualities are striking evidences as in Rwanda, Yugoslavia, and Israel.  Capitulation is also advisable when the problem is merely related to material belonging.  Resisting armed forces and defending honor is legitimate and necessary in his philosophy

Every government might have positive elements in its program but if it is unjust and does not preserve human dignity then the whole State system has to be pulled down.  It is not acceptable that a neutral State allows an invading army to cross its borders to attack another nation; Switzerland should have had at least the moral strength to prevent any resources to cross its borders toward Nazi Germany and never cooperate with this racist State.

 Anyone who refuses to do military service but accepts to cooperate with a military State is NOT a satyagrahi.  When you pay taxes and aid a military State to maintaining its hegemony then you are part and parcel of the unjust State. You cannot eat the food that the army is protecting you to produce and consume and then refuse military service; your alternative is to flee to the mountains and feed on what nature provides.  A soldier who shoots in the air to disperse the masses is doing violence and not doing his job and shouldn’t have joined the army or an armed security force.

When asked in 1940, whether an independent India would institute satyagraha to its armed forces to defend the homeland, Gandhi offered his own belief that India might be the first people that could show the way to peaceful entente with its neighboring nations.  He believed that letting conquerors capture the land without armed resistance is the shortest and direct method to evacuating them through non-violent resistance and non-cooperation; the numbers of martyrs would be far lower than the fallen soldiers and innocent civilians if a violent resistance is undertaken.

Any invading army that crosses over the cadavers of innocent people who resisted its incursion is not about to repeat this brutal act because of human nature.  Furthermore, the people would not be paying heavily for useless armaments and fortifications.

Gandhi declared that his allegiance to Hinduism is mainly pragmatic because it delineated clearly that the life struggle of an individual is to finding inner spiritual strength to linking with the truth of God and didn’t excite or scare believers into the notions of paradise and hell; Hinduism viewed the soul as indestructible and no clear distinction is made between spirit and body.

Gandhi struggled all his life to convince the Orthodox Hindu institution that casting the untouchable is wrong, and could not accept sermons of satyagrahi who practiced discrimination of the untouchables in their communities.


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

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