No government is legally bound to uphold the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, but as people of conscience, we are bound by it. Here in the heart of the empire, we have to build an anti-war movement that demands respect for human rights.
US wars are an affront to human rights. These wars kill thousands and thousands of people, destroy whole cities, wipe out infrastructure needed for survival, and poison the environment for generations to come. There is no freedom under occupation, when people are ruled by regimes that serve foreign interests. Assassinations – carried out by drones, Marines and the CIA – ignore the rule of law. Military aid to brutal regimes puts the blood of countless Colombians, Palestinians and others on American hands. Human rights are not won by military intervention. Just the opposite.
Human rights are no excuse for war, and should never serve as a stick to beat other nations with. When war makers propose “humanitarian” intervention, we have to look for the real interests of imperialism in the conflict. The US is not neutral. Our rulers want to expand their economic, military and political power across the globe.
With war or sanctions, the US is not looking to liberate the peoples of Iran and Syria, any more than it was doing this in Viet Nam and Iraq. These countries are targets because they assert their independence from the will of Washington. Just as human rights are founded on respect for human dignity and equality, the anti-war movement must found itself on respecting the dignity and equality of nations, upholding the right to self-determination.
Even as the Egyptian people amassed in Tahrir Square, the US supported President Mubarak, because he helped them protect Israel. The same with Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, where human rights abuses are off the charts. So long as their governments follow the US wishes, there will be no talk of “humanitarian” intervention.
The ultimate example is Israel, where illegal settlements, assassinations, the apartheid wall, the siege of Gaza, the denial of the right of return, are all ignored by Washington. No Israeli crime against Palestine is challenged by the US, whose standing in the region depends on Israel. The US is not concerned about human rights. The US seeks only to maintain its own power.
The US government can never be a champion of human rights. More than half the world has abolished the death penalty, while here, the Supreme Court upholds the murder of innocent men like Troy Davis. We have the highest incarceration rate in the world, and most of these prisoners are Black and Latino. Some are held under torturous conditions of solitary confinement, like Bradley Manning. There is no respect for human rights in murder, racism and torture.
Political freedoms are also protected in the Universal Declaration, but not respected in the US. Even the Anti-War Committee became targets, our work criminalized, by FBI raids and a grand jury investigation.
According the UN, “human rights – the rights to freedom of opinion and expression, to peaceful assembly & association & to take part in government …have been at the centre of the historic changes in the Arab world over the past two years, in which millions have taken to the streets to demand change. In other parts of the world, the “99%” made their voices heard through the global Occupy movement protesting economic, political & social inequality.”
This statement points out an important truth: Human rights, and any real social change, can only be won by people’s movements. US intervention stands in the way of real justice in some places, while destroying it outright in others. As an anti-war movement in the US, we must build a movement that stands in solidarity with the peoples of the world, in their struggles for liberation, and against every war for empire.
Posted on December 8, 2012 by FightBack! News
Minneapolis, MN – About 75 people rallied here Dec. 8, the weekend before International Human Rights Day, to say no to the U.S. using human rights to justify wars and sanctions.
Jess Sundin, of the Twin Cities based Anti-War Committee told the crowd, “With war or sanctions, the U.S. is not looking to liberate the peoples of Iran and Syria, any more than it was doing this in Viet Nam and Iraq. These countries are targets because they assert their independence from the will of Washington. Just as human rights are founded on respect for human dignity and equality, the anti-war movement must found itself on respecting the dignity and equality of nations, upholding the right to self-determination.”
Sundin emphasized, “The U.S. government can never be a champion of human rights.”
Sarah Martin, of the Women Against Military Madness Middle East Committee stated, “The objective of the U.S.-NATO alliance is to ultimately replace the independent secular Syrian state with a complaint regime. Syria has fiercely supported self-determination for Palestine. It is a strong ally of Hezbollah and Iran. It does not do the bidding of Israel or the U.S. Thrusting Syria into helpless chaos is part of the preparation of an eventual war against Iran.”
Sundin and Martin are among the Twin Cities anti-war activists who were raided by the FBI and called before a Chicago grand jury investigating “material support of terrorism.” Mick Kelly, who was also raided by the FBI, denounced the federal investigation into anti-war and international solitary activities as violation of human rights and an attempt to criminalize solidarity.
The event, which included a ten-block march thought the surrounding neighborhood, was organized by the Anti-War Committee. Endorsers included the Minnesota Committee to Stop FBI Repression, Communities United Against Police Brutality, the Joe Callahan Support Committee, Minnesota Peace Action Coalition, National Lawyers Guild (MN Chapter), U of MN Students for a Democratic Society, Veterans for Peace Chapter 27 and Women Against Military Madness.
Here is the poem I read at today’s demo for Human Rights Day!
I hope everyone who was there gets all charged up about drones and decides to read Medea Benjamin’s book Drone Warfare: killing by remote control- and then come to our book club! (hint, hint you can still come to the book club, even if you didn’t make it to today’s demo).
It’s at Mayday Bookstore on Jan. 12th at 2pm and there will be coffee and snacks!
On Military Drones (and tearing them to pieces)
It’s the arms race of the future, really,
except this time Sputnik’s ganna be an unmanned plane.
And if the vessel is unmanned, doesn’t that make the killing
It’s odd to me to think that when I’m voting with my dollar,
I demand a better treatment of the chicken for my dinner
then our military seems to see fit for those people on the ground
in places like Iraq and Yemen, Afghanistan, Pakistan…
You know, those unreliable statistics, because really- who sees?
The trouble with machines is there’s a lack of accountability.
I want our government to have to make stickers for all their little planes that say
“No dolphins or civilians were harmed in the making of this democracy”
How about that? How about a harm free approach to foreign policy?
Can you install that, Uncle Sam, at the point of your gun?
Of course not, it’s an oxymoron. American the humanitarian.
On a mission and it’s called an invasion.
Look up in the sky! It’s a bird, it’s a plane-
cause it sure aint Superman.
It’s a U.S. military drone and it’s loaded, so go ahead and run.
Cause it sees you too, but not with eyes.
Cause anyway, that’s what “collateral damage” is code for:
Dead people, lots of them children.
Unarmed civilians is a way of saying that they had nothing to do with
this conflict, but then neither do we- on this end.
The taxed, yet, unrepresented majority of people in this country
who do not like the war, and do not support another one.
But what can we do?
We don’t feel the trigger under our finger because we’re fed a constant stream of lies
and all our lives we are taught that it’s
“Do unto others has you would have done unto yourself”
And yet every time the news breaks that a woman is raped, that a village is
slaughtered we are ready to make those sacrifices for what we call
he safety of our country and it is utter nonsense.
Violence begets violence. This is a fundamental truth.
We are the purveyors of death and atrocity in these parts of the world,
and then you wonder why they hate us ???
So you tell me, who is the real terrorist?
Rebel with a gun or a smiling politician?
Whatever gets the job done.
And these days the job is as easily done as the push of a button
by some pimple-faced in a bunker in Nevada somewhere.
Did you know the controls for these drones are compatible with a PlayStation?
This is not a coincidence.
They are spoon feeding this to your kids, so I suggest you get acquainted.
Because drones are the future of warfare that already is.
And I heard Obama just Okayed the use of drones over ALL U.S. airspace
so be prepared to see them around.
Equipped with cameras instead of bombs,
so that should make us all feel safer.
They say that they are looking for the terrorists among us
and looking at everyone, you know –Just in case
Even though the only cases it seems our government team
can solve these days are the ones they cooked up in the first place.
But hey-they’ve gotta spend that budget someway, don’t they?
And did you know that it takes a whopping, jaw dropping, 300 people
to fully operate one of those drones for just one day?
One of those $28 million planes?
Oh yes sir’ee, it’s a booming industry.
Remember that bumper sticker about how great it’s be if schools had all the funding they needed and the army had to hold a bake sale?
People, this is what our government is busy buying.
This is where the tax dollars go.
So when they tell you they’ve gotta cut some spending,
you just tell’em “Land some drones, man.
Just land the drones.”
And call me a sentimental hippie like that, but I believe
in the power of the people to fight back.
Cause we can’t just let this technology run wild, or go rouge,
or come crashing home on us
We must realize and regulate, study up and educate each other
Before this whole thing gets out of control
(with evidence to suggest we are already at the threshold).
So let your president and members of congress know
what you think about the wars,
and what you think about the drones.
Tell’em we don’t need any more killing machines,
we could use that money much better here at home.
Leave those kids in Pakistan alone.
It’s time to end the war, and land the drones.
Israel started “Operation Pillar of Cloud”, a new war on Gaza, on Wednesday. The Israel Defense Force (IDF) has declared that all options are on the table and that they are ready for a ground operation. Israel’s Brigadier-General Yoav Mordechai confirmed that today’s 20 air strikes are only part of a longer-term escalation, “We are in the midst of an attack that will continue and grow. There is no hourglass.”
Operation Pillar of Cloud – like previous attacks on Gaza – will target and kill a significant amount of civilians. On Wednesday Gaza’s health ministry said 10 civilians have been killed, including two young children – an 11-month-old and a six-year-old – while at least 45 people were wounded, 10 of them in critical condition from the first day of this attack
The U.S. State Department issued a statement which it said the U.S. “support[s] Israel’s right to defend itself.” From 2009 to 2018, the United States is scheduled to give Israel–the largest recipient of U.S. assistance–$30 billion in military aid. U.S. tax dollars are paying for this attack on Palestinian civilians.
Initiated by the Anti-War Committee
Posted on November 4, 2012 by FightBack! News
In July 2011 Joe Callahan was arrested at the Pigeon River border crossing into Canada. The crossing is at the northeastern tip of Minnesota. A backpack containing El Salvadoran passports and maps of the area were found in his trunk. At the same time, a couple from El Salvador seeking refugee status was picked up in the area. Callahan was arrested and spent the next 30 days in a Thunder Bay jail in deplorable conditions. The most serious charge was ‘human trafficking and smuggling,’ which carries a sentence of very large fines and years in jail. He was released on $75,000 bail and returned to Minneapolis while he awaited trial.
After many months, these serious charges were finally dropped. On Oct. 31, Callahan pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting under Canada’s Immigration and Protection Act. The charge of providing misleading information was dropped. However, the Crown continued to play hardball. The prosecutor asked for a three to six month prison sentence, arguing that bringing people in illegally put the country in danger. He also admitted he’d never seen such a level of support for a defendant in the courtroom.
Francis Thatcher, Callahan’s lawyer, made a powerful case that Joe is a humanitarian and that what he did was in keeping with his lifelong commitment to immigrant rights. In his statement to the court, Callahan said, “I lived in Arizona and saw how ‘coyotes’ exploited and endangered undocumented immigrants. I would never do this. I find it abhorrent.”
The judge sentenced Callahan with a $5000 fine and no prison time. She also referred to the number of Callahan’s supporters in the courtroom and the 23 letters written on his behalf.
Callahan has returned to his home. He will continue to organize against U.S.-led wars, for immigrant rights and against repression – including the 23 people under investigation by a federal grand jury in Chicago for their international solidarity work in Palestine and Colombia – for the Cuban 5, for the two Somali women from Rochester, Minnesota who have been convicted of material support and for many other political prisoners.
The favorable outcome for Callahan comes after the victory of Carlos Montes against political repression.
A victory party will be held Nov. 24 at 7:00 p.m. at 4200 Cedar Avenue in Minneapolis.
Posted on May 3, 2012 by FightBack! News
Minneapolis, MN – More than 1500 people marched on Lake Street for immigrant and workers rights here on May 1, International Workers Day. Organized by the May 1st Coalition and initiated by the Minnesota Immigrant Rights Action Committee (MIRAc), the march focused on legalization for undocumented immigrants, ending deportations and support for workers and their unions. The march had the support of the Minneapolis Regional Labor Federation (AFL-CIO), most immigrant rights groups in the city and many Latino student groups from nearby colleges and high schools.
The march started at 3:30 p.m. at Lake Street and Nicollet Avenue. Cleaning workers from the Center for Workers United in Struggle (CTUL) spoke across the street from the local K Mart to denounce the exploitation of immigrant workers that clean their stores. Rafael Morataya of SEIU Local 26 spoke when the march passed by Wells Fargo bank, to denounce the bank’s support for corporations that exploit immigrants, like Corrections Corporation of America, which builds private prisons and immigrant detention facilities while lobbying for harsher anti-immigrant laws to fill those jails.
A member of Mujeres en Liderazgo (Women in Leadership) spoke out for their campaign for a Minneapolis municipal ID that would be accessible for immigrants, as well as for their campaign for the right of immigrants to get a driver’s license.
Rap artist Maria Isa did two songs at the rally at Powderhorn Park at the end of the march, energizing the crowd and expressing her support for the immigrant rights and anti-racist struggle. Rodrigo Sanchez-Chavarria read a poem about the immigrant struggle. Emilia Avalos and other immigrant youth spoke about their struggle for access to education.
There were also speakers from other immigrant communities in Minnesota, like Sadik Warfa who spoke from the Somali immigrant community and Azannia Tripp of the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum. Christian Ucles of Minnesotans United for All Families spoke in support of marriage equality and of the importance to unite against the right-wing attacks against LGBTQ people and against immigrants.
Thistle Parker Hartog from the Committee to Stop FBI Repression spoke about Carlos Montes, whose trial starts May 15 in Los Angeles on trumped up charges and about the case of Joe Callahan, an anti-war and immigrant rights activist in Minnesota accused of ‘human trafficking’ for supposedly helping two Salvadoran immigrants cross into Canada to seek asylum.
Pangea World Theater did a brief performance and Carlos Lombi played music.
Mel Reeves of Occupy the Hood spoke, as did Alejandra Cruz, a well-known immigrant youth leader in Minnesota. She spoke about her struggle fighting against her home’s foreclosure. Her family is in danger of imminent eviction and they are seeking support to defend their home from the bank.
Javier Morillio, President of SEIU Local 26, spoke about current union struggles and representatives of the unions that endorsed the march took the stage together to be recognized by the crowd for supporting the International Workers Day march. Cecilia Martinez of CEED spoke about the struggle for climate justice.
Ana of MIRAc spoke about the need for immigrant workers and their supporters to continue the struggle for legalization for all, an end to deportations and an end to all racist anti-immigrant laws.
A speech given by Thistle Parker-Hartog representing the Minnesota Committee to Stop FBI Repression at the Immigrant Rights rally on May 1, 2012 at Powderhorn Park. Thistle, who is also a member of the Anti-War Committee, drew attention to the connections between the government attacks on activists like herself and the everyday repression of immigrant communities in the U.S. Her speech is below in English first and then in Spanish.
The Committee to Stop FBI Repression stands in solidarity with our immigrant sisters and brothers. One of our number, Carlos Montes, has been a leader in the Chicano movement for decades. And in retribution for his dedication to fighting for immigrant rights, he was raided and arrested on false charges at his home in L.A. one year ago. His trial starts May 15, and it is urgent that each one of us contact the prosecutor to demand he drop the charges against Carlos. You should also know about Joe Callahan, who for years has done solidarity work around Central America and Cuba. In a ludicrous turn of events he was arrested in Canada for trafficking immigrants. He also needs your support before his next court date in Canada. Fliers are being distributed about both Joe and Carlos’ case, along with the phone number for the prosecutor.
Those of us who have been subpoenaed and intimidated by the U.S. government were singled out because of our work in solidarity with people our government has oppressed in other countries and here in the United States. We understand how U.S. policies of war and free trade abroad create the need for immigrants to come here seeking a better life. And we understand the hypocrisy of the United States then criminalizing and rejecting those very people fleeing the devastation created by the US in their home countries. Those of us under investigation are receiving a small taste of the apprehension and foreboding immigrants live with every day, that the next knock on the door might be the police coming to take us away, that at any point a court order might descend to tear our families apart. But we will not lay down the struggle to defend our right to dissent. And we will continue to stand with our immigrant sisters and brothers in support of the struggle for immigrant justice.
La Comité para Parar la Represión del FBI está en solidaridad con nuestras hermanas y nuestros hermanos inmigrantes. Uno de nosotros, Carlos Montes, ha sido un líder en el movimiento Chicano por décadas. Como castigo por su dedicación a luchar por los derechos de inmigrantes y otros, hace un año se hizo una redada de su hogar en Los Ángeles y se le arrestó a Carlos, poniéndole cargos falsos. Su juicio empieza el 15 de mayo, y es urgente que cada uno comuniquemos con el fiscal para exigirle retirar los cargos. También deben saber de Joe Callahan, quien ha trabajado en solidaridad con los centroamericanos y cubanos por años. Por ridículo, se le arrestó a él en Canadá por traficar a inmigrantes. Él también necesita su apoyo antes de su próxima corte en Canadá. Se distribuyen hojas informativas sobre los casos de Joe y de Carlos, junto con el número telefónico del fiscal.
Los que hemos sido citados e intimidados por el gobierno de los Estados,– estamos señalados por el trabajo que hemos hecho en solidaridad con los pueblos oprimidos por nuestro gobierno en otros países, y aquí en los Estados. Entendemos como las políticas norteamericanas de guerra y de comercio libre crean la necesidad para que inmigrantes vengan a buscar una vida mejor. Y entendemos la hipocresía de los Estados en criminalizar y rechazar a las meras personas huyéndose del lio hecho por los Estados en sus países. Y los que estamos bajo investigación ahora vivimos una pequeña parte de la aprehensión y miedo con los cuales viven inmigrantes cada día, que la próxima persona que toque la puerta será la policía aquí para llevarnos, que en cualquier momento una orden judicial pueda aparecerse para destruir a nuestras familias. Pero no renunciamos a la lucha para defender a nuestros derechos a disensión. Y seguimos al lado de nuestras hermanas y nuestros hermanos inmigrantes en la lucha para la justica. La lucha sigue!
Joe Callahan is a long time Minnesota antiwar and union activist who is accused of helping bring 2 Salvadoran immigrants into Canada where they were seeking asylum. Joe now faces several serious charges and the Anti-War Committee asks you to support Joe and his legal defense.
On July 31, 2011, after two Salvadoran immigrants went to Canada to apply for asylum, long-time Twin Cities activist Joe Callahan was arrested by Canadian police at the Pigeon River border station. At the time Joe was alone in his car. The Canadian police used a backpack, maps and other items found in Joe s car as the grounds for his arrest.
Joe was charged with aiding and abetting an immigration without a visa, and providing false and misleading information. As a result of these charges, Joe was locked up in the Thunder Bay District Jail in cramped, crowded conditions where inmates are frequently forced to sleep on the floor, as Joe did for the first several days he was there. While Joe was in custody, the authorities added the charge of smuggling or human trafficking. This charge is much more serious and carries a maximum sentence of ten years.
After one month Joe was released on bail and was allowed to return to the Minneapolis area, pending trial. He is restricted to the Twin Cities area as a condition of his release. Meanwhile, the prosecuting attorney, or Crown Attorney, as they are called in Canada, informed Joe s defense attorneys that he is seeking a sentence of three or four years. The trial will be held in Thunder Bay, Ontario. The date has not yet been set. Joe is being represented by Mary Bird and Francis Thatcher, a prominent attorney in the Aboriginal rights struggle.
Over the last thirty years Joe has been active in solidarity work for Central America and Cuba. He has been an active defender of immigration rights. He was also active against an attempt to reinstate the death penalty in Minnesota. His record in the fight for justice goes back to his youth. As a student he was active in the anti-Vietnam war movement.
For four and a half years Joe worked for the Metro Transit System as a bus driver, and was a member of the Amalgamated Transit Union. He has spent his working life in blue collar, unionized jobs. Now, because of his legal difficulties, he has been forced to take a lower-paying position as a driver for a small bus company.
Joe Callahan is NOT a human trafficker! Joe is NOT a smuggler! These charges against him are unfounded and they should be dropped. Joe is a political activist concerned about the rights of immigrants. He needs the help of all supporters of democratic rights.
You can aid in Joe s defense:
§ Circulate this letter and urge others to sign. New signers can sign via email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Only days after clearing Congress, US President Barack Obama signed his name to H.R. 347 on Thursday, officially making it a federal offense to cause a disturbance at certain political events — essentially criminalizing protest in the States.
RT broke the news last month that H.R. 347, the Federal Restricted Buildings and Grounds Improvement Act of 2011, had overwhelmingly passed the US House of Representatives after only three lawmakers voted against it. On Thursday this week, President Obama inked his name to the legislation and authorized the government to start enforcing a law that has many Americans concerned over how the bill could bury the rights to assemble and protest as guaranteed in the US Constitution.
Under H.R. 347, which has more commonly been labeled the Trespass Bill by Congress, knowingly entering a restricted area that is under the jurisdiction of Secret Service protection can garner an arrest. The law is actually only a slight change to earlier legislation that made it an offense to knowingly and willfully commit such a crime. Under the Trespass Bill’s latest language chance, however, someone could end up in law enforcement custody for entering an area that they don’t realize is Secret Service protected and “engages in disorderly or disruptive conduct” or “impede[s] or disrupt[s] the orderly conduct of Government business or official functions.”
The Secret Service serves as the police that protects not just current and former American presidents, but are also dispatched to monitor special events of national significance, a category with a broad cast of qualifiers. In the past, sporting events, state funerals, inaugural addresses and NATO and G-8 Summits have been designated as such by the US Department of Homeland Security, the division that decides when and where the Secret Service are needed outside of their normal coverage.
Mara Verheyden-Hilliard of the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund tells the International Business Times that the Trespass Bill in its current form “means it’s easier to prosecute under ‘knowingly,’” instead of both knowingly and willfully, “which is an issue because someone could knowingly enter a restricted but not necessarily realize they are committing a crime.” Speaking with IB Times, Verheyden-Hilliard tries to lay to rest claims that the Constitution will be crippled by the Trespass Bill, but acknowledges that it does indeed allow law enforcement to have added incentive to arrest protesters who could be causing a disturbance.
“[HR 347] has been described as a death knell for the First Amendment, but that isn’t supported by the facts,” Verheyden-Hilliard adds. “This has always been a bad law.”
Gabe Rottman of the American Civil Liberties Union adds to IB Times, “Bottom line, it doesn’t create any new violations of the law.” So far, however, it has raised awareness of the levels that the US government are willing to go to in order to make it harder to express ones’ self.
Under the act, protesting in areas covered by Secret Service could land a demonstrator behind bars, and the thing about the Secret Service (in case you couldn’t tell by their name), is that they don’t always make it clear where they are. You could even say that the service they provide, at times, is kept secret.
Presidential hopefuls Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum are now officially covered under Secret Service protection, making it a federal offense to disrupt a campaign stop. That means whether it’s by way of a glitter bomb protest or causing a disturbance on the same Holiday Inn hotel floor that Santorum is staying in, doing such could cause a bit of a legal battle for the persons involved.
Although the G-8 Summit originally scheduled for Chicago this spring would have made much of the Windy City a protected area where crimes could easily be tacked on to arrested protesters, the event was moved this week to the presidential retreat at Camp David. In turn, many have suggested that the White House is only going out of their way to limit protesting rights. While a Chicago summit would have meant the Trespass Bill could have been enforced in the same area where thousands of demonstrators were expected to protest, moving the event to a heavily fortified rural location will instead deter protesters from likely coming close atto the meeting at all.
And before you forget, the president can now detain you for getting too close to his front yard, order your assassination if the country considers you a threat and lock you away for life with no charge if you’re alleged to be a terrorist. You, on the other hand, can’t yell obscenities at Newt Gingrich without risking arrest.
Mark International Human Rights day with a discussion of the criminalization of human rights work and other activism. The community has rallied around the AWC as our members are investigated for charges of “material support to terrorism.” These charges are an attempt to silence voices against US policies of war and militarism, while also making it illegal to extend the hand of friendship to people in countries of conflict.
This same strategy is evident in the recent conviction of two Somali women, for the crime of sending $8600 in humanitarian aid to Somalia, where they are from. We also see it in the government’s threats to bring charges against participants in last summer’s Gaza Flotilla, which was carrying letters – messages of solidarity and friendship – to deliver to Palestinians living in Gaza.
Our discussion will include several other legal cases attacking human rights: The death penalty – Troy Davis, and Mumia Abu Jamal (now incarcerated for 30 years); Private Bradley Manning – imprisoned while awaiting charges related to the WikiLeaks release of classified documents exposing war crimes in Iraq, among others. Come hear about the important work being done to fight these legal attacks on our rights and our movements!
Children welcome. The library has a wonderful children’s book selection. Let us know if you would like an AWC volunteer to accompany your child there while you enjoy the program. Lunch will be provided – featuring soups home-made by our fantastic AWC chefs! Donations requested, no one turned away.
Organized by the Anti-War Committee | www.antiwarcommittee.org | 612-379-3899