Posts Tagged bahrain

Despite Police Violence, Occupations are “SO Not Over”

Scott Olsen October 25, 2011

Scott Olsen wounded by Oakland CA police projectile

The counter-attack of city authorities to clear the “Occupy” movement has now led to a serious injury, leaving protester Scott Olsen critically injured by an injury to his brain from a police projectile.  Oakland police attacked a peaceful encampment on Tuesday at 5:00 am, after massing 500 police, for hours.  Within minutes, hundreds were driven away, and police destroyed everything.

Tuesday evening, over 1,000 people gathered again in downtown Oakland to protest the eviction, and they were attacked viciously with tear gas canisters shot into the crowd, concussion grenades, and reports of rubber bullets.

While New York Mayor Bloomberg was not able to carry through on his eviction plan of Occupy Wall Street on October 14, because thousands of people answered a call to defend it, we continue to hear rumors and threats, as the New York Post, Fox News and other reactionary media outlets argue for more police repression.

Last night, hundreds from Occupy Wall Street marched uptown to protest the police attack on Oakland, and have adopted the slogan “We are All Scott Olsen.”  I’ve been on the phone all afternoon with a young woman arrested last night in the march who received a puncture wound in the leg from being beaten up by police.  She’s still awaiting arraignment, and may be there until Friday.

The authorities cannot tolerate such gatherings in public space.  Huge numbers of police are surrounding the encampments, and any marches proceeding from them.  Is there anyone that thinks, if there were just more police, that would solve any of the underlying problems causing people to take to the streets in a mix of desperation, anger, and hope?

Kristin Gwynne writes today on Alternet about Scott Olsen:

The videos of his injury (below) are heartbreaking.  The victim is lying in the street, bleeding from the face.  Demonstrators run to help him, and a cop tosses a canister at the crowd gathering around the injured vet.  It explodes. Carried out by a  group of organizers, Olsen emerges from a cloud of smoke, bleeding from the head, his eyes in a daze. His body is limp, with his arms dangling above his face.  When they scream “what’s your name?” he can’t respond. His hand moves, but his eyes stare straight ahead. The crew screams in horror “MEDIC!! MEDIC!!!”

Jon Stewart was shocked by the Oakland police attack.

“They were concerned about a public safety threat, so they did this? [cue footage of tear gas clouds and exploding stun grenades].”

There’s no evidence yet that the police attacks are deterring people from their righteous occupations in the U.S., as the much, much, more violent state repression against the spring uprisings beginning in Tunisia did not, and has not stopped, the people, who continue in Syria, Bahrain, and Yemen to battle the authorities.

Occupy Oakland is back, bigger than ever, and for the time being, the city has backed off with the heavy police presence, at least for now.  Occupy Wall Street is sending them $20,000 and new tents.

We need our own version of mass support for the occupations.  If you can’t get to one right now, get into print, get online, get on the phone, and weigh in:

“Hands off Occupy!”

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The U.S. Government Must Stop Supporting Repressive Regimes

This is about humanityThe political terrain is changing hourly in the Middle East, with governments responding to the peoples’ uprising in different ways.  But we’re seeing one constant: the U.S. at every point pushes its own interests, regardless of the status of the peoples’ rights.

World Can’t Wait exists to “stop the crimes of our government.” So we should be vigilant.  We’ve pointed out Washington’s deep and long support for repressive regimes across the region, including Egypt, Yemen, Jordan, Saudi Arabia & Bahrain, and also the huge amount of military and political support given to Israel by successive U.S. administrations.  In Bahrain, where the U.S. has a strategic base, Hillary Clinton weakly, and hypocritically, defended the protesters’ rights (only days after witnessing prominent anti-war veteran Ray McGovern brutalized during a speech of hers in the US).  As if she and the government she has long represented was unaware of what these regimes do to their people!

Tear Gas

In Egypt, protesters showed the lethal tear gas canisters used against them by the government – labeled “Made in the USA.” These were just a small fraction of the overall budget of military aid given to Egypt by the US.

In Libya hundreds of people are being slaughtered in the streets by mercenaries.  Though Qaddafi’s government has appeared more oppositional to the U.S., the U.S. reestablished full diplomatic relations with Libya, under pressure from U.S. oil companies.  Military aid followed.  But in the wake of the absolutely righteous upsurge of the people against Qaddafi’s repression, will the U.S. take the opportunity to install a more compliant government to its own interests?  U.S. military intervention will do no more good in Libya than it’s done elsewhere… which is to say: it will be a disaster for the people, but good for U.S. interests in holding onto strategic oil and territory.

In Pakistan, there’s news of the first drone strike in a month, this one killing civilians: US Drone Strikes Kill 15 in Pakistan.

The Washington Post reported yesterday on the last years of U.S. drone bombings:

Despite a major escalation in the number of unmanned Predator strikes being carried out under the Obama administration, data from government and independent sources indicate that the number of high-ranking militants being killed as a result has either slipped or barely increased. Even more generous counts – which indicate that the CIA killed as many as 13 “high-value targets” – suggest that the drone program is hitting senior operatives only a fraction of the time.

While the CIA contends they’ve killed just 2 civilians, the article goes on to say:

The New America Foundation estimates that at least 607 people were killed in 2010, which would mean that a single year has accounted for nearly half of the number of deaths since 2004, when the program began. Overall, the foundation estimates that 32 of those killed could be considered “militant leaders” of al-Qaeda or the Taliban, or about 2 percent.

Glenn Greenwald looks at the CIA’s role in Pakistan.  In This week in winning hearts and minds, he describes Raymond Davis, the ex-Special Forces, current CIA operative held in Pakistan for personally killing 4 Pakistanis in an incident on the street, and:

The State Department first said he worked for the consulate, not the embassy, which would make him subject to weaker immunity rights than diplomats enjoy (State now says that its original claim was a “mistake” and that Davis worked for the embassy).  President Obama then publicly demanded the release of what he absurdly called ”our diplomat in Pakistan”; when he was arrested, Davis ”was carrying a 9mm gun and 75 bullets, bolt cutters, a GPS unit, an infrared light, telescope, a digital camera, an air ticket, two mobile phones and a blank cheque.”

There’s a major diplomatic crisis over Davis between Pakistan, and competing forces within its government, and the U.S. government.  Greenwald describes the complexity for the U.S.:

There’s the gross hypocrisy of the U.S. State Department invoking lofty “rule-of-law” and diplomacy principles under the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations — the very same State Department that just got caught systematically violating that convention when WikiLeaks cables revealed that U.S. “diplomats” were ordered to spy on U.N. officials and officials in other countries.  Then there’s the delusional notion — heard mostly from progressives with romanticized images of the State Department — that WikiLeaks’ release of diplomatic cables was terrible because it’s wrong to undermine “diplomacy” with leaks, since the State Department (unlike the Big, Bad Pentagon) is devoted to Good, Humane causes of facilitating peace.  As this episode illustrates, there’s no separation among the various arms of the U.S. Government; they all are devoted to the same end and simply use different means to accomplish it (when the U.S. Government is devoted to war, “diplomatic” functions are used to bolster the war, as Colin Powell can tell you).

These crises can help sort out the interests of the governments from the interests of the people.  In supporting the courageous people across the Middle East who are fighting repression, we are challenged to look at our own government.  I come back to the Not in Our Name Pledge of Resistance:

…Not in our name
will you wage endless war
there can be no more deaths
no more transfusions
of blood for oil…

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