en | Sun May 05, 2013 22:54 Features selected and composed by the www-features and www-editoriales groups
Global Warming impacts escalate as Climate negotiations stall in Doha Tue Dec 18, 2012 18:11 | en
BATTLE OF NOTRE-DAME-DES-LANDES: Megalomaniac Airport Project In Western France Thu Dec 06, 2012 15:38 | en
Economic growth driving Global Warming towards 6 degrees C Tue Nov 27, 2012 21:43 | en
A BUILDING IS NOT ENOUGH: Occupying a Skyscraper for Art Sat May 19, 2012 22:45 | en
Indybay Journalists Charged with Felony Sat Mar 24, 2012 03:09 | en
Thu Jan 03, 2013 05:18 indymedia.us main features
Chicago Teachers Union strike ends, but concerns remain Thu Sep 27, 2012 00:05 | Chicago | ot
Occupy DC disrupts Trans Pacific Partnership trade talks Sun Sep 16, 2012 15:05 | DC | en
Victory at Hot and Crusty Sat Sep 15, 2012 20:55 | NYC | en
Chicago Teachers Union goes on strike in do-or-die showdown Thu Sep 13, 2012 15:42 | Chicago | ot
It's a Beautiful Day to Live in Bayview Wed Sep 12, 2012 08:44 | San Francisco Bay Area | ot
Chicago - Thu Sep 27, 2012 00:05 (ot)
On Tuesday, September 18th, the Chicago Teachers Union House of Delegates voted 98 percent to 2 percent to end its nine-day-long strike, the first CTU strike in 25 years. The proposed deal includes a marked salary increase for teachers and the right for teachers to make their own lesson plans. The deal also excludes the threatened elimination of merit pay, lanes (achievement for advanced degrees) and steps (achievement for experience). When asked on Democracy Now! if the CTU won this strike, CTU president Karen Lewis responded: "Absolutely".
DC - Sun Sep 16, 2012 15:05 (en)
NYC - Sat Sep 15, 2012 20:55 (en)
New York's low-wage workers continue to organize
"This is a historic victory for low-wage and immigrant workers and would not have been possible without the grassroots organizing of the Laundry Workers Center and a broad coalition of support, including Occupy Wall Street, various labor unions, workers centers and community-based organizations."
Background: Sept 2 ? Struggle Erupts at Hot and Crusty
Great news! We won one in New York--finally! In front of Hot and Crusty, workers announced yesterday that the new owners of the coffee and pastry shop will recognize their independent union and rehire everyone ? yes everyone! An extraordinary agreement allows the union to control the rehiring of the immigrant workforce. No one is to be victimized!
For anyone who has ever been out of work, especially for immigrant workers, this is fantastic news!
The old owner, Mark Sampson, closed the shop at 63rd st and 2 avenue on Friday, Aug. 31st and locked out its 23 employees. Some had worked at H&C for a dozen years or more. They were demanding a mere $1 an hour raise when the store closed. It was classic union busting.
Said the Sept. 8 Official Statement from the Laundry Workers Center and the Hot and Crusty Workers Association: "After a workplace occupation, a week of targeted direct action, round-the-clock picketing and an outpouring of community support, the Hot and Crusty Workers Association announced Saturday that it has come to a tentative agreement with the new owners of the Hot and Crusty located at 63rd street and 2nd avenue. The Union announced that the company has agreed to recognize the union immediately and commence negotiations towards a collective bargaining agreement. Workers will return to their jobs in approximately two weeks. Additionally, the union has negotiated the institution of a hiring hall through which all employees must be referred by the Hot and Crusty Workers Association. This is a historic victory for low-wage and immigrant workers and would not have been possible without the grassroots organizing of the Laundry Workers Center and a broad coalition of support, including Occupy Wall Street, various labor unions, workers centers and community-based organizations."
--Nastaran Mohit" email@example.com
Why were the workers victorious in getting their jobs back? H&C workers, organized by the Laundry Workers Center, refused to play by the rules created by the boss class--basically the one that says negotiate, negotiate, negotiate.
Immediately after being locked out on Friday, Aug. 31st, the union set up pickets outside the store at 63rd street and 2nd Avenue in Manhattan. The next day, the LWC, working with Occupy Wall Street and the participation of the wonderful ?Rude Mechanical Orchestra,? organized a rally and an ?occupation? of about a dozen supporters. About 6 protestors were arrested and all were released within 24 hours.
Although brief, it showed the boss class that this would be no ordinary struggle. The LWC knew that relying on politicians wasn?t the way to go. Owner Mark Sampson surely thought that it would be easy to smash a small workforce of immigrant workers. But the racist mindset of Sampson and the other H&C owners was dead wrong.
The LWC set up a coffee and pastry table on the sidewalk next to the store on Monday, Sept. 3, Labor Day. H&C workers called it the ?Workers Justice Café? and flyered the neighborhood for its Labor Day grand opening. Neighbors discussed issues with their favorite H&C employees.
A portion of official labor had pledged support, but little in concrete aid was delivered; most importantly of all, the official labor movement was absent from the H&C picket lines. Such a confrontation demands a sharp, immediate response from Labor!
However, there are underlying reasons for this victory. In addition to the bravery of H&C workers themselves, the union seems to have a lively, democratic internal life that respects worker input. Moreover, the workers and their leadership shunned narrow trade unionism and took on immigrant rights issues. It sought alliances with community groups, radicals and the OWS Labor Alliance, particularly the Immigrant Worker Justice group and the OWS Labor Outreach Committee. It did not rely on politicians.
Said Mahoma, a H&C worker, ?If you play by the rules, you?ll loose!?
As proof (according to one source) the new H&C buyer asked the LWC attorney, ?What would it take to get rid of the pickets? I can?t make money like this.?
Basically, replied the LWC, according to the source, restoring all of the workers' jobs and implementing agreed-upon rights. The deal was done.
But the battle isn?t over yet. H&C workers, who make near the minimum wage on average, still need a raise. That may take a fight. Supporters must build solidarity and try harder to get the major unions and the CLC to mobilize. A good start I think is that supporters got the go-ahead from the LWC to form a solidarity committee.
What?s next? It is thought that the new owner will re-open in about two weeks. Will we maintain pickets at H&C until every worker is back? What about picketing the other H&C locations?
There?s more news to come from the LWC. Stay tuned!
PS LABOR PARADE: Two H&C workers marched with an LWC banner in the TWU contingent. I happened to bump into them at the TWU contingent. It was late already when they arrived so walking down to 42nd to join the PSC/LOC contingent risked missing the march. Unfortunately, Argilio had to leave for a personal matter. I got TWU President Samuelson to officially greet the H&C workers and OK their banner in the TWU contingent. Later, one expensively dressed NYCLC official-looking guy challenged the LWC presence but I referred him to Samuelson. He gave up.
For background, see "Struggle Erupts at Hot and Crusty":
Chicago - Thu Sep 13, 2012 15:42 (ot)
In a bold, inspiring, historic, widely-publicized, and risky move, the Chicago Teachers Union, has gone on strike over a host of issues, including compensation, job security, evaluation procedures, and sufficient classroom resources (including air conditioning in the summer).
The strike could be argued as inevitable, given the galvanizing forces on each side: a progressive leadership at the Chicago Teachers Union, and a neoliberal cookie-cutter Chicago Public Schools district which favors non-union charter schools. The strike is unquestionably a big gamble -- if the union wins, they provide a badly needed shot-in-the-arm for public education and for the labor movement. If the establishment wins, they hasten the decline of both public education and dissident labor, spurring further the underway dissolution of middle-class education. The strike has so far garnered support from the public and from union solidarity efforts.
Additional Links: In These Times: Chicago Teachers Strike Headache for Democrats | Robbie Abed's Personal Blog - Chicago Teachers Union Strike: The Real Story | Reuters: Negotiators optimistic Chicago teachers' strike may end soon | Teachers' Leader in Chicago Strike Shows Her Edge | Think Progress: How Illinois' Flawed Funding System Shortchanges Chicago's Students
San Francisco Bay Area - Wed Sep 12, 2012 08:44 (ot)
On August 19, the Idriss Stelley Foundation (ISF) and the Kenneth Harding Jr. Foundation teamed up with POOR Magazine and Peoples Community Medics for a day of solidarity in Bayview/Hunter's Point in order to bring attention to the issue of the police accountability movement.
Pictured: An alter in memory of Idriss Stelley, who was murdered by SFPD at the Sony Metreon Theater June 12, 2001 at only 23-years-old.
Early in the day, the Kenneth Harding Jr. Foundation held their monthly and largest community feed yet-providing lunch to more than 150 people. Denika Chatman, Kenny's mother, holds "Community Feeds" at the corner of 3rd and Oakdale in Bayview where she and allies give out bagged lunches to San Franciscans in need to raise awareness about the police murder of Kenneth Harding in 2011 for allegedly evading a $2 bus fare.
Later, the Idriss Stelley Foundation held its annual Birthday Cookout to celebrate what would have been Stelley's 35th Birthday. Idriss Stelley was murdered by the SFPD at the Sony Metreon Theater on June 12, 2001 at only 23-years-old. Stelley's mother, Mesha Monge-Irizarry, an activist before her son's killing, has become one of the leading figures in the police accountability movement.
Read More and View Photos | See Also: Police Victim Idriss Stelley B-earthday ROCKED SF Candlestick Park today !! | SFPD exploits the overkill of Idriss Stelley 9 years ago to "train" its officers! | Days of Justice Remembering Kenneth Harding to Culminate with SF MUNI Shutdown
Previous Coverage: SFPD Kill Kenneth Harding After Fare Inspection
Los Angeles - Mon Sep 10, 2012 23:33 (en)
Thursday, September 6, 2012, LOS ANGELES ? While other immigrant rights organizations were getting bogged down in DACA paperwork1--many of them charging for the service--the DREAMers, never content to rest on their laurels despite their enormous accomplishment, realized the necessity of advancing the movement. Over ten years of organizing has made them masters of political strategy, timing being their forte. And last Thursday was no exception.
While the nation's attention was on the farcical Democratic National Convention, with the party of the donkey pandering to Latinx voters by taking credit for the deferred action policy for DREAM-eligible youth, the deportations continue. One of the main ways the undocumented are deported is out of county jails, where they are held when accused of minor offenses, and deported even prior to having been convicted. And while Joe Arpaio may be today's answer to Bull Connor and a perpetual thorn in the side of justice movements for his outspoken racism, Los Angeles County's Sheriff Lee Baca has deported many more people than Maricopa's, (about half of the 80,000 deported from California this year) and has done so much more quietly.
Full story: DREAMers confront Sheriff Baca on Deportations, 6 arrested by Rockero
NYC - Sat Sep 08, 2012 23:59 (en)
An important ruling is expected early in September from the European Court of Human Rights, regarding whether or not US prisons respect human rights enough for the UK to extradite ?war on terror' suspects to the US. We interview activist/journalist Aviva Stahl from CagePrisoners.com alongside Hamja Ahsan, the brother of Talha Ahsan, one of the appellants that will be seriously affected by the September ruling, imprisoned since 2006.
Do US Prisons Violate European Human Rights Law?
--An interview with Hamja Ahsan and Aviva Stahl
By Angola 3 News
On April 10, 2012, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) issued judgement in the case of Babar Ahmad and Others v The United Kingdom, thereby making a landmark ruling on the legitimacy of solitary confinement, extreme isolation and life without parole in US supermax prisons (view ECHR press release and ruling). The ECHR denied the appeal filed jointly by six appellants, consisting of four British nationals (Babar Ahmad, Haroon Rashid Aswat, Syed Talha Ahsan, and Mustafa Kamal Mustafa?aka Abu Hamza), an Egyptian national (Adel Abdul Bary) and a Saudi Arabian national (Khaled Al-Fawwaz) who have been imprisoned in the United Kingdom, pending extradition to the United States for alleged terrorism-related activities.
This judgement is now being appealed to the ECHR?s Grand Chamber, with a decision expected in September regarding whether or not the appeal will be heard. Arguing against their extradition to the US, the six appellants have asserted that the risk of imprisonment in the United States (with specific citation of long-term isolation at the notorious federal prison in Colorado, ADX Florence?also the subject of both a June Senate Hearing and a recent civil rights lawsuit initiated by prisoners alleging human rights violations there) would breach their right under Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights not to "be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment." Ruling against the appellants, the ECHR argued in their April 10 ruling that isolation in a US Supermax prison is ?relative? and will become a violation of Article 3 ECHR (which prohibits torture), only if it extends indefinitely.
A third party intervention to the European Court of Human Rights in this case was jointly submitted in 2010 by INTERIGHTS, Reprieve, the American Civil Liberties Union and Yale Law School National Litigation Project, arguing that ?U.S. legal protections against ill-treatment in imprisonment fall short of those provided under Article 3 ECHR.? Furthermore, ?it is submitted that any protection the applicants will receive under U.S. law is speculative at best. The past two decades have seen a strong trend of limiting prisoner access to courts overall and restricting judicial oversight, particularly in the absence of overt physical harm. Moreover, the U.S. Constitution affords little in the way of real protections against the documented harms of prolonged sensory and social deprivation?To the extent the United States suggests that Petitioners will be adequately protected by administrative review, the record in cases involving ADX Florence is that such procedures are largely illusory.?
In this interview we speak with Hamja Ahsan and Aviva Stahl--two London-based activists working around this case. Aviva Stahl works as the United States researcher for CagePrisoners.com, a London-based human rights organization that is committed to defending the due process rights of detainees of the War on Terror. Her current work focuses on the criminalization of Muslim communities on American soil, and draws on the parallel past experiences of other communities of color. She also helps run a pen pal program in Britain that links folks across prison walls, with the aim of building relationships based on solidarity and mutual support.
An artist and curator by profession, Hamja Ahsan is the younger brother of appellant Syed Talha Ahsan, and leader of the Free Talha Ahsan Campaign. Declaring that Talha Ahsan, a British-born poet and writer with Asperger syndrome imprisoned since 2006 ?deserves freedom or a fair trial in the UK," http://www.freetalha.org details how ?Talha Ahsan was arrested at his home on 19 July 2006 in response to a request from the USA under the Extradition Act 2003 which does not require the presentation of any prima facie evidence. He is accused in the US of terrorism-related offences arising out of an alleged involvement over the period of 1997-2004 with the Azzam series of websites, one of which happened to be located on a server in America. He has never been arrested or questioned by British police, despite a number of men being so from his local area in December 2003 for similar allegations. All of them were released without charge. One of them, Babar Ahmad, was later compensated £60,000 by the Metropolitan police after a civil case in March 2009 for the violent physical abuse during his arrest. It was evidence from this incident which formed the basis of Talha?s arrest two and a half years later."
In this interview, Ahsan and Stahl discuss the extreme importance of the upcoming Grand Chamber ruling on a personal level for the six appellants fighting their extradition, as well as the ruling?s broader significance for all US prisoners and the communities around the world targeted by the US? so-called ?War on Terror.? Among the many prominent human rights activists speaking out is US author Noam Chomsky, who asserts that ?with the sharp deterioration of protection of elementary civil rights in the US, no one should be extradited to the country on charges related to alleged terrorism?the prisons and the incarceration system in the United States are an international scandal,? and ?the shallow and evasive charges? in Ahsan?s case ?strongly reinforce that conclusion.?
Robert H. King of the Angola 3, released in 2001 after 29 years in solitary, recently met up with Ahsan and Stahl (read Stahl?s interview here) while touring the UK with Amnesty International, as part of their campaign demanding the immediate release of the Angola 3's Albert Woodfox and Herman Wallace from solitary confinement, where they have now been for over 40 years (sign Amnesty?s petition here).
Angola 3 News: Hamja, how has Talha?s arrest affected you and your family?
Hamja Ahsan: The case is extremely disturbing and upsetting. In February of 2006 the police came and raided our family home at the behest of the United States. Neither I, nor my brother, nor my elderly mother or father, have ever been to the United States. How could a foreign country come and invade my house like that?
The police took everything ? my diary, my mobile phone, my CD collection, my nephew?s cartoons, my camera, my university artwork and ridiculously, they even took my PlayStation 2 memory card. Six years later, other than our computers (which were returned the next day with all the content intact), we haven?t gotten anything back, despite a vocal assurance that we would. If there was anything dangerous or incriminating on those computers, why would they be returned intact? We still use those computers to this day.
My parents are average, middle class Asian parents--often excessively concerned about school grades, and stereotypically displaying little emotion. Now they regularly break down crying in public and on media. Julia O?Dwyer, the mother of British student Richard O?Dwyer, who is also fighting his extradition to the US, says it?s a punishment for the whole family, and you?re punished before you?re even found guilty.
During these last six years we?ve lived in uncertainty and fear. I didn?t think that being detained without charge, trial or evidence would last this long.
A3N: Can you please tell us about who your brother, Talha Ahsan, is as a human being and a member of your family?
HA: Talha had a job interview to be a librarian the day of his arrest in July. That?s the type of person he is, an academic type of librarian. He is diagnosed with Asperger?s syndrome, much like in the film My Name is Khan, which has become part of our campaign work, and the cause celebre for hacker Gary McKinnon. Talha is a published poet who has drawn the sympathy and acclaim of many other distinguished novelists, poets, and musicians, including Michael Rosen, Shailja Patel, Tariq Mahmood, Zita Holbourne, Avaes Mohammad and Riz Ahmed. The two most beautiful pieces written in support of Talha were by novelist A.L. Kennedy in the Guardian (1,2).
Talha is as much a threat to the American and British public as an average librarian is. His published book of poetry in prison was launched by A.L. Kennedy in Edinburgh in 2011, and it keeps selling out and having to be reprinted. Many people are touched by his words and a young filmmaker made a documentary based around his prison poetry called ?Extradition.? Like so many others who write to him, Amrit Wilson, winner of the Martin Luther King award, said that despite her differences in age, religion, and gender, she found through correspondence that he was a deeply caring person.
Despite the psychological anguish of being detained without trial, he manages to care about other British causes such as Black deaths in police custody and environmental issues.
A3N: What is your response to the argument made by the European Court of Human Rights court that isolation in a US supermax prison is ?relative??
Aviva Stahl: First off, I want to quote from the statement released by Babar Ahmad and Talha Ahsan?s lawyers, Binberg Piece and Partners: ?It will come as a considerable surprise to the inmates of ADX Florence, the prison in question, and their lawyers who struggle fruitlessly to challenge in the US courts their continuing solitary confinement for 8, 10, or 16 years, that the prisoners? grim isolation could be considered only ?relative? and its continuance as justiciable. It will be equally surprising to international lawyers, who may include the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture and the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture, that the view of the European Court as to what constitutes isolation is apparently in conflict with their own.?
Secondly, it?s important to note that the European Court of Human Rights made that ruling based partially on the (mis)information provided to them by the Bureau of Prisons in the United States. In its submission to the Court, the BOP maintained that supermax prisons did not constitute extreme isolation on the basis that prisoners are able to shout to each other through ventilation systems ? a claim which the Court readily accepted. The BOP also claimed that prisons are able to ?step-down? within 3 years, even though there are many prisoners in ADX Florence who have been in solitary for over ten years.
If you doubt whether ADX Florence treats inmates humanely, read about the treatment of mentally ill patients on the inside. Two lawsuits were recently brought against the BOP for their failure to treat prisoners with mental illness, which in one case resulted in a suicide.
HA: As referred to in the statement, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture, Juan Mendez, wanted to intervene in the judgement to say it amounted to ill treatment. He hasn?t been allowed to visit the United States to examine the international scandal of its prison system, particularly ?supermax? prisons such as ADX Florence. Amnesty International has also frequently campaigned against the use of long-term solitary confinement, for example they are staunch supporters of the Angola 3.
There was such extensive support for Bradley Manning when he faced 11 months in solitary ? but what about people who face that for a lifetime?
A3N: What are the key arguments of your campaign against extradition?
HA: To start with, the extradition treaty was introduced in 2003, a few months after the Iraq war and at the height of the George Bush-Tony Blair partnership. It?s part of the authoritarian, excess legislation introduced by the new Labour administration. David Blanket, the Home Secretary who introduced the legislation, now regrets it. It removes the need to have prima facie evidence.
A simple way of exposing the dangers of the new removal of this evidence bar is the case of Lotfi Raissi, an airline pilot accused of training the 9/11 hijackers. After the United States requested his extradition, he was held in Belmarsh prison; after five months, a British court ruled that there was no credibility to the charges against him and ordered his release. He was eventually awarded over £2million in a government payout, and also won an undisclosed sum from the Mail on Sunday newspaper in a civil suit for printing false information about the charges he faced
The extradition treaty removes the most elementary civil rights such as habeas corpus, the presumption of innocence until proven guilty, access to family, and protection from torture. And above all, the very first duty of government, which is to protect its own citizens.
It?s not just a Muslim issue, as we?ve learned from a number of high profile cases where the accused were white, such as Christopher Tappin, and the NatWest3 (who have been actively supporting our campaign, even though they?re from a more conservative establishment background). David Birmingham wrote an excellent book called ?The Price to Pay,? outlining the cost of this legislation. The most ludicrous case is that of Richard O?Dwyer, a 23 year old student who ran TVShack, which isn?t even a crime in Britain. There are close family relationships between all the families affected by this legislation. In sum, a bad piece of legislation bites back at all British citizens.
Aside from reforming the legislation, there is also an immediate action point for these campaigns. Talha has never even been to the United States, so why should he be tried there? We want the Director of Public Prosecutions, Keir Starmer, to review the evidence against Babar Ahmad and Talha Ahsan in full ? something he has never done. In November 2011, the Criminal Prosecution Service admitted they had never even seen the evidence seized from Babar?s home! The case of Regina v Sheppard & Whittle (2010) clearly established that a person should be tried in the jurisdiction in which a substantial measure of activity took place. So even according to case precedence, the most appropriate forum for Babar and Talha?s trial is in the UK, if there is indeed enough evidence to charge them.
We want a reform of the law to include a forum bar, meaning a judge rather than a prosecutor decides the best place that a trial should took place ? similar to Ireland?s extradition treaties, and also an evidence bar ? an incredibly important protection that was lost when the Extradition treaty was passed, as the case of Lotfi Raissi demonstrates. Even Lithuania has better protections for its own citizens in relation to extradition than Britain. In context, France doesn?t extradite its citizens at all. And within Holland, a foreign sentence is served on home ground.
A3N: What is it about being tried by the US criminal justice system that these six appellants before the European Court of Human Rights object to?
AS: In their appeal to the ECHR, Babar Ahmad & others argued that being extradited to the United States would violate the rights under Article 3 of the European Convention on Human rights, namely that ?no one shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment?, based on the conditions they?d face once on the inside. For example, some terrorism suspects in the States have faced up to three years of solitary confinement even prior to their trial - for example Fahad Hashmi (hear about what he went through here). Fahad was also one of many people subject to ?Special Administrative Measures,? which are special conditions imposed on people (both pre and post trial) if the Attorney General deems it necessary. John Walker Lindh (?the American Taliban?) for example, was barred from speaking Arabic.
But it?s not only the conditions on the inside that we object to. The criminal justice system is incredibly flawed, especially for people facing charges of terrorism. There?s an immense amount of pressure to plead guilty once you get to court ? in fact over 98% of people plead guilty in federal cases. Also, as many people here are aware of, the criminal justice system doesn?t treat all people equally. It?s racist, pure and simple, as is utterly evident from the case of the Angola 3.
It?s not just against African Americans ? it?s also incredibly racist against Muslims, especially those facing charges for terrorism. As I documented in a report published last year, Muslims face systemic due process improprieties in the American criminal justice system, from start to finish. Just think about how widespread Islamophobia is today, how purported terrorists are put on trial by the media even before they arrive in court, and then the kinds of attitudes towards Muslims held by the American public, who are Talha and Babar?s potential jurors. As a Muslim facing charges for terrorism, it?s impossible to get a fair trial today because you?ve essentially been found guilty before the trial even begins.
A3N: In the cases of both the Angola 3 and these six appellates, they are appealing to the international community about human rights abuses in US prisons. What other similarities do you see regarding these two cases?
HA: I met Robert King at one of his Amnesty International public events. He expressed strong solidarity and support for Talha and Babar, and gave my family?s campaign the last word. I asked him about what I could say to Talha as words of solace as he was about to face solitary. Robert talked about the strong grassroots campaign within America against extreme forms of solitary confinement. Robert signed a book in solidarity with Talha, that I will give to him when he?s freed. Talha has also shown a great deal of solidarity for the Angola 3. On the day of the Angola Three?s 40th anniversary, Talha had me express solidarity on Facebook, Twitter and other social media.
AS: I think there are several similarities between the two cases. The first and most obvious similarity, of course, is the issue of solitary confinement. Both the lawsuit being brought by the Angola 3 in the federal courts in the States, and the arguments made by Babar and Talha in arguing against their extradition, say essentially the same thing: that being held in solitary confinement or supermax prisons is torture. It?s cruel and unusual punishment. It doesn?t matter what you?re accused of or who you are. No human should suffer through that.
But I think there?s another really important parallel between these two cases - the way in which racism and racial paranoia are used to sustain dominant power structures. Consider the case of the Angola 3. Robert King has commented many times that they were convicted ? not for any crime they committed ? but because they were Black Panthers. Why might a jury convict them on those grounds? Well, in 1968, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover described the Black Panthers as ?the greatest threat to the internal security of the country.? How many of us would hear that now and think it was preposterous?
Today, when someone is accused of supporting terrorism ? most of all a Muslim man ?the details of the crime are insignificant. Just like we were socialized to fear Black men on the street, we?re taught to fear Muslim men on our planes. Certainly that aspect of racial fear is present. Men of color (whether Black or Brown) have been sites of fear, thought to embody some kind of evil. That fear is integral to justifying dominant white power structures, both at home and abroad.
A3N: The April 10 ruling by the European Court of Human Rights is now being appealed to the Grand Chamber of the Court and we are awaiting a decision about whether the appeal will be considered. In the meantime, how can our mostly-US-based readership best support the fight against extradition?
HA: We?re expecting to hear in September about whether or not the appeal will be considered by the Grand Chamber. In the meantime, it would be great if folks could write to Talha.
AS: The most important is to get involved with folks in the States campaigning against supermax prisons, solitary confinement and the prison industrial complex. Remember that Senate hearings about the legitimacy of solitary confinement happened just a few weeks ago. This is a crucial time for all of us to push back against the injustices happening on the inside. Please listen to some incredibly moving testimony here. Whether it?s with Amnesty, the Angola 3, theStopMax campaign, or other prisoner solidarity work?. Get involved!
A3N: In an interview conducted prior to the April ruling, SACC activist Richard Haley argued that ?if the court blocks the men's extradition it will send a signal to the US that the harshness of the US penal system is damaging its international relations. On the other hand, a ruling in favor of extradition could open the door to harsher prison conditions in Europe.? If affirmed by the Grand Chamber, what do you think is the significance of the Court ruling for the US, UK, and Europe?
AS: Well, of course if it stands, the ruling will give greater legitimacy to the practice of solitary confinement and the conditions inside supermax prisons. The Court has essentially ruled that these conditions ?aren?t that bad?.
But I think it?s also important to recognize the broader context, which is that the ruling will simply strengthen ongoing trends on both sides of the ocean ? of increased criminalization, imprisonment and privatization. As I?m sure your readership is aware, the prison industrial complex has reached epic proportions in the United States ? over 2 million people and counting are now held on the inside. But the same things are happening here in the UK. The prison population in England and Wales has hit a record high. After the uprisings (?riots?) of last summer, we saw kids being imprisoned for long periods of time for very petty theft, and the importation of policies from the US, including gang injunctions. With regards to privatization, G4S already operates several prisons in England and is bidding to run many more. We need only look at the wealth of evidence from the Olympic security debacle that privatization is a bad idea.
On the other hand, I think it?s important to recognize that the ruling has given us the impetus to generate new kinds of alliances. This case represents just how important it is for different communities to work together in challenging the prison system, especially in its most pernicious incarnations. The ruling draws new links of potential solidarity across the globe - from Pelican Bay Prison, to ADX Florence, to the Communication Management Units of Terre Haute and Marion, to Guantanamo Bay, to Bagram, to HMP Long Lartin, where Talha and Babar are held.
HA: A lot of the British right wing media failed to grasp that the ruling was about prison conditions and used a lot of racist, Islamophobic language referring to Talha and Babar as ?unwanted guests? and ?Muslim fanatics?, despite not having been found guilty of anything. This was a very terrifying and painful time for the family. I didn?t sleep or eat properly for many days.
A3N: What is the ruling?s significance for the communities targeted by the so-called ?war on terror,? led by the US?
AS: I think that for Muslims in the US and the UK, this ruling just legitimizes the human and civil rights abuses they already experience - surveillance in their homes, mosques, and schools, entrapment from undercover agents, harassment by cops and border police, even criminal convictions for activities that should be protected ? like bookselling! It?s to the point where Muslims? very religious and political beliefs are being criminalized.
HA: The 2003 US-UK extradition treaty effectively gives a dangerous level of extraterritorial jurisdiction to the United States. If the websites in question did have a US server, it shows that most of us living outside the US can go home, check out emails (Google, Hotmail, Facebook, Twitter) and be on a US server. Most .com, or .net addresses work the same way. Effectively most emails in the world pass through a US server. So people are no longer being picked up on the battlefields of Afghanistan and Pakistan, but from their bedrooms and family homes, in our case, in South London. This is a frightening precedent for all of us. In Richard O?Dwyer?s case, the charges don?t even have to constitute a crime under British law. Entrapment and sting jobs which form part of Christopher Tappin and Nosratollah Tajik?s cases, are illegal and unacceptable under British law.
AS: Consider this: just before the ECHR released its decision, John Bolton, the former US ambassador to the United Nations, said that a ECHR veto against extradition would call ?into question the ability of Europe as a whole to be an effective partner in the war against terrorism.? Given the amount of pressure the US can exert on the rest of the world, are we really that surprised that the Court ruled the way it did?
The US has expanded its drone strikes into Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. It?s passed the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act, which essentially allows the US to detain anyone, anywhere, if the US alleges that they have links to Al Qaeda or associated organizations. This is just more evidence of the US government and military?s broad reach, justified in the name of the War on Terror.
A3N: Anything else to add?
HA and AS: There is an event in London on Saturday, September 8, entitled ?Extradite Me I?m British.? It?s an evening of film, prison poetry, talks, drama, comedy, talks, nasheeds around the notorious 2003 US-UK extradition treaty currently affecting British citizens Talha Ahsan, Babar Ahmad, Richard O?Dwyer and Gary Mckinnon.
Hamja tweets on @hamjaahsan and @freetalha
Aviva tweets on @stahlidarity
Learn more about Talha and Babar?s case! Write to them! Stay up to date with the best way to support them.
Talha Ahsan?s support site: http://freetalha.org/
Babar Ahmad?s support site: http://www.freebabarahmad.com/
--Angola 3 News is an official project of the International Coalition to Free the Angola 3. Our website is http://www.angola3news.com, where we provide the latest news about the Angola 3. Additionally we are also creating our own media projects, which spotlight the issues central to the story of the Angola 3, like racism, repression, prisons, human rights, solitary confinement as torture, and more. Our articles and videos have been published by Alternet, Truthout, Black Commentator, SF Bay View Newspaper, Counterpunch, Monthly Review, Z Magazine, Indymedia, and many others.
Los Angeles - Thu Sep 06, 2012 13:15 (en)
Throughout the US and Canada, chapters of the Anarchist Black Cross Federation held simultaneous runs to raise funds for the needs of political prisoners and prisoners of war, as well as to continue to chip away at the system that massively incarcerates impoverished people and colonized people worldwide. Runs were also held at four prisons.
In Los Angeles, the event drew about thirty runners to MacArthur Park. There they joined members of Revolutionary Autonomous Communities who were present for the weekly food program, danzantes from Danza CuauhtÃ©moc, in attendance to bless the run, and supporters from the radical community throughout Southern California.
The over $1000 raised was split between ABC to replenish the warchest and RAC to support its ongoing mutual aid and organizing efforts. Full story: Running Down the Walls 2012 by Rockero, photos by Lane Farnham
DC - Tue Sep 04, 2012 17:03 (en)
August 31, 2012 ? As Mitt Romney was saying "we own this county," Our DC was either marching to or blocking the intersections of 14th st and U st NW. This was where a street party erupted in 2008 on election night when the results were in-and something else might have happened if the GOP had stolen the election again. Read More & Pics | Video of the march and blockade | Code Pink activists assaulted after disrupting Romney's acceptance speech
Related: Rochester: Demonstrators Gather Outside Local RNC Headquarters
Urbana-Champaign - Sun Sep 02, 2012 02:29 (ot)
A protest was held before the board meeting of the Housing Authority of Champaign County (HACC) on Thursday, August 23, 2012 by those questioning plans to demolish Bristol Place, a largely African American neighborhood on the North End in Champaign. This comes on the heels of the demolition two public housing units, Dunbar Court and Joann Dorsey Homes, also largely comprised of black residents. Local authorities have ambitions of eliminating all signs of poverty, while failing to address the basic needs of those less fortunate.
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