August 2020

Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

Friday, June 24, 2011

US threatens activists with incarceration if they sail to Gaza

Six Senators urge safe passage for US citizens to Gaza

Update: The Free Palestine Movement announced that Jimbo Simmons of the American Indian Movement West (AIM West) will be a member of the Gaza Freedom Flotilla Delegation.

By Brenda Norrell
Censored News
The United States warned activists on Friday against plans to send a new aid flotilla to challenge Israel's blockade of the Gaza Strip, saying it could result in fines or incarceration.
Author and poet Alice Walker, and Tucson border activist Gabriel Schivone, 27, a member of the humanitarian border group No More Deaths, are among those who will be on the Audacity of Hope. Schivone, a University of Arizona student, has protested U.S. border-enforcement policies that fuel migrant deaths in Arizona.
Former U.S. Ambassador Col. Ann Wright, who resigned from the State Department in 2003 to protest the U.S. invasion of Iraq, and became a voice against US torture in Iraq, will be onboard. Wright was on the flotilla one year ago.
Hedy Epstein, an 86-year-old Holocaust survivor, and Medea Benjamin of Code Pink, Kathy Kelly, co-coordinator of Voices for Creative Nonviolence, and Richard Levy, New York labor attorney in the law firm Levy Ratner, are among the passengers.
Walker, 67, remembered both Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr., as she gave her reasons for sailing.
"Our boat, The Audacity of Hope, will be carrying letters to the people of Gaza. Letters expressing solidarity and love. That is all its cargo will consist of. If the Israeli military attacks us, it will be as if they attacked the mailman. This should go down hilariously in the annals of history. But if they insist on attacking us, wounding us, even murdering us, as they did some of the activists in the last flotilla, Freedom Flotilla I, what is to be done?"
It is this type of courage, sincerity and world vision, that really irritates the US State Department.
"Groups that seek to break Israel's maritime blockade of Gaza are taking irresponsible and provocative actions that risk the safety of their passengers," State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland said.
"We urge all those seeking to provide such assistance to the people of Gaza to use these mechanisms, and not to participate in actions like the planned flotilla," Nuland said.
Israel said it has warned the United Nations that a new aid flotilla -- which activists say could depart from European ports in coming days -- could result in "dangerous consequences." Israel has made clear it will prevent any new flotilla from reaching Gaza. One year ago, nine Turkish activists, including one with dual U.S.-Turkish nationality, were killed in an Israeli raid on a similar convoy.
Nuland said that recent weapons seizures and periodic rocket and mortar attacks from Gaza against Israeli civilians illustrated the ongoing necessity for Israel to screen Gaza-bound cargo.
"We underscore that delivering or attempting or conspiring to deliver material support or other resources to or for the benefit of a designated foreign terrorist organization, such as Hamas, could violate U.S. civil and criminal statutes and could lead to fines and incarceration," Nuland said.
The passengers wrote President Obama on June 14 requesting safe passage.
"We are writing to inform you that 50 unarmed Americans will soon be sailing in a U.S. flagged ship called The Audacity of Hope as part of an international flotilla to Gaza.
"Our peaceful demonstration will challenge Israel’s blockade of Gaza, which has effectively imprisoned 1.6 million civilians, almost half of whom are under the age of 16. The blockade has impoverished the people of Gaza, deprived them of needed materials and supplies to rebuild their lives after the Israeli attack of late 2008 - early 2009, impeded those who are ill or infirm from seeking outside medical aid, and prevented students from seeking education outside of Gaza. 45 percent of the working age population is unemployed.
"In addition to 36 passengers, 4 crew, and 10 members of the press, our boat will carry thousands of letters of support and friendship from people throughout the U.S. to the women, children and men of Gaza. There will be no weapons of any sort on board. We will carry no goods of any kind for delivery in Gaza. Our mission is from American civil society to the civil society of Gaza. We do not serve the agenda of any political leadership, government or group. We are engaged solely in non-violent action in support of the Palestinian people and their human rights.
"In our country’s great tradition of citizen activists taking nonviolent action to stand up to injustice, we sail in the hope that our voyage will show the people in Gaza that they are not alone, and that it will call attention to the morally and legally indefensible collective punishment of a population of civilians.
"Mr. President, you have noted the unsustainability of the Gaza blockade. And your administration has spoken boldly in support of peaceful demonstrations throughout this “Arab Spring.”
"As U.S. citizens we expect our country and its leaders to help ensure the Flotilla’s safe passage to Gaza - as our country should support our humanitarian demand that the Gaza blockade be lifted. This should begin by notifying the Israeli government in clear and certain terms that it may not physically interfere with the upcoming Flotilla of which the U.S. boat — The Audacity of Hope — is part. We-authors, builders, firefighters, lawyers, social workers, retirees, Holocaust survivors, former government employees and more-expect no less from our President and your administration.
"Our boat will sail from the eastern Mediterranean in the last week of June. We shall be grateful to you for acting promptly and decisively to uphold the rights of civilians to safe passage on the seas," the passengers wrote to Obama.
The passengers of The Audacity of Hope are: Nic Abramson, Johnny Barber, Medea Benjamin, Greta Berlin, Hagit Borer, Regina Carey, Gale Courey Toensing, Erin DeRamus, Linda Durham, Debra Ellis, Hedy Epstein, Steve Fake, Ridgely Fuller, Megan Horan,Kathy Kelly, Kit Kittredge, Libor Koznar, Melissa Lane, G. Kaleo Larson, Richard Levy, Richard Lopez, Ken Mayers, Ray McGovern, Gail Miller, Carol Murry, Robert Naiman, Henry Norr, Ann Petter, Gabe Schivone, Kathy Sheetz, Max Suchan, Brad Taylor, Len Tsou, Alice Walker, Paki Wieland and Ann Wright.

UPDATE:
Six Members of Congress Call on Clinton to help ensure safety of the U.S. citizens on boat to Gaza

The Honorable Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
United States Department of State
Washington, DC 20520
Dear Secretary Clinton,
We write to express our concern for the safety of American passengers on the U.S. ship The Audacity of Hope, which will set sail for Gaza in the next few days. We request that you do everything in your power to work with the Israeli government to ensure the safety of the U.S. citizens on board.
A year ago, Israel took military action against the "Gaza flotilla" in international waters, which resulted in the deaths of nine civilians, including one American citizen. In addition, ten Israeli commandos and more than 20 passengers were injured in this tragic incident. In order to avoid another confrontation this year, we urge all parties to practice maximum restraint and avoid violence.
We wholeheartedly support Israel's right, and indeed its duty, to protect its citizens from security threats. The measures it uses to do so, as in the case with any other nation, must conform to international humanitarian and human rights law. We are encouraged that The Audacity of Hope organizers have stated that their cargo "is open to international inspection" and that they "are fully committed to nonviolence and the the tenets of international law".
We look forward to working with you in any way we can and encourage you to ensure the safety of all American citizens on board The Audacity of Hope.
Thank you for your attention to this matter.
Sincerely,
Representative Dennis Kucinich (OH-10)
Representative William Lacy Clay (MO-1)
Representative Sam Farr (CA-17)
Representative Bob Filner (CA-51)
Representative Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC)
Representative Barbara Lee (CA-9)

Hacked data reveals US Marines as contract killers, hunting migrants on the border

Hacked data reveals US Marines contract killers, hunting migrants on the border


By Brenda Norrell
Censored News
http://www.bsnorrell.blogspot.com/
Photo: San Xavier crosses for migrants who died in the Sonoran Desert by Brenda Norrell

(Updated on Sunday 11 pm: Assaults on migrants and the patriots at Caballo Loco Ranch)

The hunting and murder of migrants by US Marines along the Arizona border was among the first facts revealed, after LulzSec hacked the Arizona Department of Public Safety on Thursday.

The data exposes the fact that Arizona law enforcement officers were aware that migrants were being hunted by off-duty Marines patrolling the border with assault weapons. The information was in a report for the month of October, 2008, by Arizona's HIDTA (High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area) Investigative Support Center.

"In other incidents reported in October, U.S. Border Patrol agents encountered two subjects who claimed to be members of the Border Watch Group the Blue Lights based on the Caballo Loco Ranch. The subjects, armed with pistols and at least one M4 rifle, were dressed in full desert camouflage uniforms, similar to those of the United States military. They stated they were not members of the Minutemen, but paid contract employees who ‘get the job done’ and ‘were not just volunteers.’ They possessed valid United States Marine Corps identification cards."

Arizona and federal agents have largely ignored the militia and white separatist groups patrolling this area, along the border of the Tohono O’odham Nation, south of Three Points, and southwest of Tucson.

An Internet user who called himself "Marine 1," posted online at the Patriots Border Alliance and described Operation Ice Storm scheduled for January of 2008 and based at the Caballo Loco RV Ranch.

Marine 1 posted this message: “Being only 7 months old now, we are enjoying success beyond our imagination, and it is fully credited to the PBA Minuteman Volunteer. Without your support and dedication to our mission, our efforts would go without notice. Since being asked by many Minutemen this past Spring to form a border watch group, we have performed one weekend and one 30 Day Muster in Palominas Arizona and New Mexico. We have stood in protest and supported the ongoing events at Pruitts Furniture Store in Phoenix, and we continue to be active and help stop illegal immigration across the land."

The posted message included directions to the Caballo Loco RV Ranch: From Tucson, take Hwy 86 West to Three Points. Take Rt 286 South, just before mile marker 34 make a left turn onto a dirt road, follow that for 8 miles. The road is well graded and suitable for cars. The dirt road is marked with a sign, "Caballo Loco RV Ranch."

The 'patriots' have continued to gather in this area. In March of 2011, Riflestock was held in this area and promoted online. "Riflestock is not intended to be a border operation, itself, though the ability to see the damage done, take pictures of illegal critters, and, perhaps, scare the hell out of some of them, by our sheer numbers, and to actually visit the site of America's ongoing war with illegal border crossings, is in the offering," according to the web post.

In Arizona's HIDTA report of Oct. 2008, there were more details on the assaults on migrants under the subheading, "Border Banditry and Assaults on Illegal Aliens."

"Border bandit groups continually target illegal aliens and narcotics smugglers. They rove the desert, lying-in-wait to rob or assault them. This occurs both in Mexico and after they enter the United States. The most common area in Mexico is just south of the International Boundary. In Arizona, the most common areas for this type of activity are: Green Valley; Sasabe; Arivaca; Nogales; the west desert near Casa Grande; and on the Indian Reservations. Incidents reported for October included: armed bandits in Mexico robbed illegal aliens, one of whom was shot; bandits in Arizona robbed illegal aliens, one of whom was sexually assaulted," the report states.

Although border rights organizations have pressed for investigations of assaults, rapes and murders of migrants in the Sonoran Desert, Arizona law enforcement and border agents most often ignore the crimes.

A large percentage of the migrants in the Arizona border region are Indigenous Peoples from Central and South America, including many Mayan women and children from Chiapas, Oaxaca and Guatemala. Assaults, murder and rapes by the US military, Arizona law enforcement, the US Border Patrol and anti-immigration groups and other hate groups, are often ignored or concealed.

As it released the hacked data, Lulz Security said in a statement, “We are targeting AZDPS specifically because we are against SB1070 and the racial profiling anti-immigrant police state that is Arizona.”

“Every week we plan on releasing more classified documents and embarrassing personal details of military and law enforcement in an effort not just to reveal their racist and corrupt nature but to purposefully sabotage their efforts to terrorize communities fighting an unjust ‘war on drugs.’”

Arizona officials confirmed on Thursday that Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio's Twitter account received a message from LulzSec, after Arpaio complained of heat from the media on Thursday.

"The media has been giving me a lot of heat lately but nothing compared to tent city! You think you're hot? It's 128 degrees there today!" said Arpaio, who uses the name of RealSheriffJoe on Twitter.

Lulzsec responded, "Media? Heat? You? Chinga La Migra!" using the Spanish words for "F--k the Border Patrol."

Arpaio continued to tweet away on Friday, announcing that he would be speaking to the Gun Owners of America tonight in Reno. Yesterday, after Lulzsec's tweet, Arpaio said he met yesterday with Brazilian Counsel General Jose Alfredo Garicia Lima. Arpaio said "illegal immigration" was among the issues discussed.

As the data was slowly released on Thursday night, Arizona human rights activists waited to learn more about police spying on peaceful protests by immigration and border rights activists.

Tagged "SB 1070 Protests and Civil Disobedience," the data is a bulletin from the Arizona Counter-Terrorism Information Center. The bulletin states that police were watching demonstrators from Tucson, Phoenix and Flagstaff as they prepared for civil disobedience in reaction to SB 1070 on July 26-31, 2010. However, the bulletin also points out the non-violent nature of the July 22 act of civil disobedience at the courthouse in Phoenix. It also states that counterprotesters at events thus far were non-violent.

On the subject of racial profiling, boingboing.net concludes, "Even after controlling for other explanatory factors, racial/ethnic disparities exist for warnings, repair orders, citations, arrests and seaches. Further analyses of searches and seizures illustrate that hispanic, black and native american drivers were significantly more likely to be searched compared to whites." (This report was previously made public in regards to Native Americans being racially profiled by Arizona law enforcement.)

There is also an admission about the intent of an officer for police brutality. It follows a guide to social networking sites which cautions officers not to boast about beating arrestees on Facebook, because that may be of use to defense attorneys, according to boingboing.net.

One of the notable postings introduced to the jury was that the officer watched the movie "Training Day" (a motion picture that displayed corrupt police behavior and brutality) to brush up on "proper police procedure." One of his postings said, "If he wanted to tune him up some, he should have delayed cuffing him." In another he added, "If you were going to hit a cuffed suspect, at least get your money's worth 'cause now he's going to get disciplined for a relatively light punch."

Meanwhile in Arizona, O’odham and other Native Americans continue to call for an end to the militarization of the border and their homelands. Indigenous rights activists continue to document the abuses of the US Border Patrol in their homelands, from California to Texas.

In Arizona, border rights activists continue to search the Sonoran Desert for those dying and dead, and battle for the right to legally give water to dying migrants on the Tohono O’odham Nation.

While the United States provides media spin to avoid responsibility for the drug war in Mexico, the fact is there would be no drug war without the appetite for illegal drugs in the US.

Recently it was also revealed that the weapons used in the violent drug war come not just from illegal weapons trafficking in the US, but also from the ATF. ATF agents revealed that they were ordered to let weapons “walk” across the border into Mexico, supposedly in sting operations. Ultimately those ATF weapons, in at least two cases, were used to kill US federal agents.

Further, the US has not fully disclosed its role in training members of the Zetas who were initially US Special Forces trained in the US.

In related news, the Southern Poverty Law Center revealed that a neo-Nazi accused of making illegal explosive devices apparently was interested in supplying those munitions to anti-immigration groups patrolling the U.S.-Mexican border in Arizona, according to court documents. Jeffery Harbin, a member of the white supremacist National Socialist Movement, was allegedly building homemade grenades and pipe bombs at home.

A federal grand jury indicted Harbin, 28, of Apache Junction, Ariz., on three counts of possessing explosive devices in January.


This video, dated June 2010 and previously released, shows the militia dressed in camouflage that hunt for migrants with assault weapons on the Arizona border: