Category Archives: FREE FLOW OF INFORMATION

21 Nobel Peace Laureates Have Confirmed Attendance at the 17th World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates Titled: “Leave Your Mark for Peace”

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A press release from pr.com

The Permanent Secretariat of the World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates, together with the Government of the State of Yucatán, are pleased to announce the title and further details of the next Nobel Peace Summit that will be hosted in Mérida, México.

The 17th World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates will be held in the city of Mérida, Yucatan throughout the dates of September 19-22, 2019. Today [May 11], 21 Nobel Peace Laureates and Prize awarded organizations have already confirmed their attendance.

Some of the Nobel Peace Laureates who have confirmed their attendance to the event include former presidents: Juan Manuel Santos, of Colombia; Lech Walesa, of Poland; Frederik de Klerk, of South Africa; José Ramos-Horta, of Timor Leste. Also confirmed are Lord David Trimble; Northern Ireland’s former First Minister; Kailash Satyarthi, Indian children’s rights activist who has freed 85,000 children slaves; Shirin Ebadi, first woman jurist in Iran; Tawakkol Karman, Yemeni human rights activist and founder of Women Journalists Without Chains, Jody Williams, American political activist known for her work in banning anti-personnel landmines; Leymah Gbowee, Liberian peace activist who helped to end a civil war, Betty Williams, who launched a peace movement in Northern Ireland, and Rigoberta Menchu Tum from Guatemala known for dedicating her life to promoting indigenous rights in the country.

Among the Prize awarded organizations that have confirmed their attendance include 12 representatives of the following Institutions: American Friends Service Committee, Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet, International Peace Bureau, Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs, Albert Schweizer Institute, International Campaign to Ban Landmines, Amnesty International, Institute of International Law, Kim Dae-Jung Presidential Library and Museum.

The title of the 17th World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates is also being revealed today as “Leave your mark for Peace.” This year the program will focus on both the Mexican legacy and the nation’s involvement in the global peacebuilding process. The program will engage civil society and youth from throughout the world by providing them the tools and strategies needed to achieve peace at the local and global levels.

The “Leading by Example” program is the official youth education initiative of the World Summit. This year, the program will present a new concept, titled, “Youth Peace Labs.” The aim is to promote opportunities for self-expression and collaboration among the university students and young professionals in attendance to build a culture of peace on their campuses and within their local communities.

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(Click here for a Spanish version of this subject)

Questions related to this article:

Where in the world can we find good leadership today?

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Ekaterina Zagladina, President of the Permanent Secretariat of the World Summit said: “We are delighted to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the World Summit since it was first held in the city of Rome in 1999, here in the peaceful and historic City of Merida, nest of the ancient Maya Civilization. Our aim, together with the State of Yucatan, is to provide a dynamic platform for the Nobel Peace Laureates and for the Summit’s mission. We trust that their collective wisdom will continue to inspire all attending delegates, students, and guests who attend this event annually by joining us in different cities of the world. This year we have tailored a series of events and activities that align with the Mexican legacy and its involvement in peace building. Like recent years, we will focus on the most important global issues facing humanity today, looking for new tools, energy, inspiration, and methodologies to help overcome these challenges for the benefit of world peace.”

Minister of Tourism of Yucatán, Michelle Fridman Hirsch, shared that the state of Yucatan is honored and very thankful for the distinction of becoming the host for one of the world’s most important and recognizable events, the 17th World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates: “We are excited and delighted that our state will be on the spotlight of the eyes of the world. Yucatán is equipped with the proper infrastructure to host this important event. We attract people from all over the world with our cultural warmth and colorful charm; our history is unique, we have amazing architecture and breathtaking natural views, Mayan ruins and underground rivers. But most of all we are proud of the worldwide recognition to be a city of peace. With the support of the Secretariat, we created for this Summit in Mérida a special slogan: ‘Leave your Mark for Peace.’ We invite everyone to be a contributor to the world peacebuilding process.”

For his part, Mauricio Vila Dosal, governor of Yucatan, closed his participation with a positive message about the vision of this Summit in Mexico, “We want to show the world that we are a dynamic state, willing to pioneer and featuring the necessary infrastructure to host an event this large. Our goal is that this Summit not only is present during September, but also leaves a true legacy of peace in Yucatan and all Mexico.”

Mérida, Yucatan. The host city, better known as the white city and center of the Mayan Culture in Mexico, has been considered a great example in the promotion of cultural appreciation and the participation of society for granting peace and harmony.

World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates. The Summit is one of the most relevant and renowned events related to the construction of peace and the search for tools to end warfare, foster disarmament, and promote world reconciliation. It is a meeting point for social, enterprise, and political leaders, as well as all members of civil society who want to be involved in the peacebuilding process. Over the years, the World Summits of Nobel Peace Laureates have been honored with the participation of numerous Nobel Peace Laureates and Nobel Peace Organizations, including: President Mikhail Gorbachev, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, President Shimon Peres, President Lech Walesa, President Jimmy Carter, President José Ramos-Horta, Dr. Shirin Ebadi, Lord David Trimble, Professor John Hume, President Kim Dae Yung, President Juan Manuel Santos and other globally recognized leaders. Previous host landmark cities included Rome, Paris, Berlin, Hiroshima, Warsaw, Chicago, Bogotá and Barcelona. During the last Summit that took place in Bogotá in February 2017, 28 Nobel Peace Laureates joined Colombia’s call, gathering 18,358 attendees during 4 days of the event, more than 40,000 people connected via streaming; around 800 youth from more than 50 countries participated in the Leading by Example program.

#NobelYucatan2019
#LeaveYourMarkForPeace

For media inquiries and accreditation please feel free to contact United States and Canada Yucatan Representative: Carlos Lopez / carlos@enroutecommunications.com

The Permanent Secretariat of the Summit: Communication Office Lead / Anastasia Mityagina / a.mityagina@nobelpeacesummit.com

Abiy Ahmed Ali, Prime Minister of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia laureate of the 2019 edition of the Félix Houphouët-Boigny – UNESCO Peace Prize

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An article from UNESCO

Abiy Ahmed Ali, Prime Minister of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, is named as laureate of the 2019 edition of the Félix Houphouët-Boigny Peace Prize for his actions in the region and, in particular, for having been the instigator of a peace agreement between the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia and Eritrea.

The jury also recognizes the laureate’s worthiness for the reforms undertaken to consolidate democracy and social cohesion. Finally, the jury considers this distinction as an encouragement to pursue his commitment to the promotion of a culture of peace in the region and across the African continent.

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(Click here for a Spanish version of the article or here for a version in French.)

Questions related to this article:

Where in the world can we find good leadership today?

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The Jury met on 29 April at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris to designate the laureate of the 2019 edition of the prize, which will mark the 30th anniversary of its inception.

The jury was composed of Mrs. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Former President of Liberia and Nobel Peace Laureate (2011), Mr François Hollande, Former President of France, Princess Sumaya bint El Hassan of Jordan – UNESCO Special Envoy for science for peace, Mr Michel Camdessus (France) – Former Director General of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and Professor Muhammad Yunus (Bangladesh), founder of Grameen Bank – Nobel Peace Laureate (2006) and Mr. Forest Whitaker (United States of America), founder of the Peace and Development Initiative.

In 1989, in order to pay tribute to President Félix Houphouet-Boigny’s action for peace in the world, 120 countries sponsored a resolution unanimously adopted by UNESCO’s Member States to establish the  Félix Houphouët-Boigny Prize – UNESCO Peace Prize. The Prize is intended to honor living individuals and active public or private institutions or bodies that have made a significant contribution to promoting, seeking, safeguarding or maintaining peace in conformity with the Charter of the United Nations and the Constitution of UNESCO.

Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of UNESCO, on an official visit to Ethiopia on 2 and 3 May on the occasion of World Press Freedom Day, will meet with the Prime Minister and convey her warm congratulations.

Michael True – Peacemaker

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A notice on thewebsite of the Center for Nonviolent Solutions

Dear Friends and Supporters;

We will not forget April of 2019, a month that brought the departure of two significant peacemakers here at the Center. On Sunday, April 28, fourteen days after board member Paul Ropp died, Center co-founder Michael True passed away. He breathed his last at sunrise which was perhaps fitting for a man who loved the morning.

Professor, author, poet, peace researcher and activist, beloved husband and father, a good and true friend to many, these varied titles only partially describe the enormity of Mike’s marvelous life. The man who taught English at Worcester’s Assumption College for many years has been aptly described as “the heart and soul” of the city’s peace community. His co-founding of the Center with Bill Densmore is merely one initiative in a long list of local peace efforts dating back to the Vietnam War. Mike supported the city’s interfaith draft counseling center, participated in acts of nonviolent civil disobedience at nuclear weapons facilities, joined a coalition to prevent the introduction of JROTC in Worcester high schools, and attended countless peace vigils and wrote countless op-eds in opposition to our countless wars.

This incomplete list reveals nothing about Mike’s extensive work promoting peace education and research nationally and internationally – his active membership in the Peace and Justice Studies Association and the International Peace Research Association; his teaching trips to India, China, North Korea, and Colombia from which he would return full of stories about peacemakers and nonviolent initiatives unknown to us. One of his great joys was to witness the flowering of peace studies – from fledgling discipline to more than 400 programs worldwide – over the course of his lifetime.

Mike was the Great Encourager, the tireless advocate of people power. He believed deeply in the capacity of ordinary folk to effect social change, and expressed that conviction in his many books, lectures, and personal support for a myriad of campaigns. He had a lifelong interest in finding a language that precisely articulated the vision of peace and the means to achieve it. Poets, he thought, told the “whole truth.” When the UN came out with its Culture of Peace documents, he was ecstatic, because finally an international body recognized what he had known all along, that individual initiative, nonviolent direct action, and people power matter. That peace really does begin with each of us.

An invaluable mentor, Mike was also one of my most important friends. I loved his curiosity, his humor, his capacity to marvel at the abundance of goodness in the world even while bemoaning the horrors, and his remarkable attentiveness to all whom he encountered. His departure leaves a distinct loneliness.

Mike frequently recited Denise Levertov’s poem “Making Peace,” a line of which became the title for his book An Energy Field More Intense Than War. For many of us, he was “an energy field,” a friend who animated courage and hope. Perhaps our best act of gratitude for his good and generous life is to be that energy of peace for others.

A Celebration of the Life of Michael True will be held June 1 at Worcester’s Mechanics Hall. More details forthcoming.

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Questions related to this article:

Where in the world can we find good leadership today?

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BY  DENISE LEVERTOV

A voice from the dark called out,

             ‘The poets must give us

imagination of peace, to oust the intense, familiar

imagination of disaster. Peace, not only

the absence of war.’

                                   But peace, like a poem,

is not there ahead of itself,

can’t be imagined before it is made,

can’t be known except

in the words of its making,

grammar of justice,

syntax of mutual aid.

                                       A feeling towards it,

dimly sensing a rhythm, is all we have

until we begin to utter its metaphors,

learning them as we speak.

                                              A line of peace might appear

if we restructured the sentence our lives are making,

revoked its reaffirmation of profit and power,

questioned our needs, allowed

long pauses . . .

                        A cadence of peace might balance its weight

on that different fulcrum; peace, a presence,

an energy field more intense than war,

might pulse then,

stanza by stanza into the world,

each act of living

one of its words, each word

a vibration of light—facets

of the forming crystal.

Panafrican Youth Network for the Culture of Peace  Gabon : The work begins

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An article from Gabon Review

Weeks after its election and the official presentation of the new officers to the Resident Representative of Unesco, the National Co-ordination of the Panafrican Youth Network for the Culture of Peace (PAYNCoP Gabon) unveiled its roadmap. The different actions to be carried out over the next two years are listed there.


Photo © PAYNCoP Gabon

Chaired by Vincenzo Fazzino, Resident Representative of Unesco, a meeting was held on April 24 in Libreville between the new PAYNCoP Gabon team and the UN system leaders in the country. Its purpose was to present the latter with the recent road map developed by the pan-African organization coordinated by Jerry Bibang, in order to “gather the opinions and orientations” of the various actors in the field. For PAYNCoP Gabon, it was also a question of reinforcing the partnership with the UN system in Gabon and to allow a better collaboration, especially in the promotion of the culture of peace and non-violence.

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( Click here for the French original..)

 

Question related to this article.

Will UNESCO once again play a role in the culture of peace?

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According to the national coordination of PAYNCop Gabon, the roadmap presented to the heads of the United Nations system is an “action plan [which] provides for four strategic axes, including the popularization of PAYNCoP, the promotion of a culture of peace, the appropriation of Resolution 2250 (youth, peace and security) and the transformation of PAYNCoP into a social enterprise “.

“Recognizing that the promotion of the culture of peace is also about the fight against unemployment and the economic empowerment of young people, our fourth axis has the specific objectives of training young people in social entrepreneurship and the implementation of projects. community development. Also, we are planning the creation of income generating activities to effectively encourage the financial independence of young people, “says the organization.

For the implementation of this roadmap, the National Coordinator of PAYNCoP Gabon has called for the intervention of professionals from various sectors of activity, such as education, higher education, communication, communication and communication. culture and politics. “Everyone has a role to play in this challenge,” said Jerry Bibang, not without remembering that the roadmap presented by the office in his charge “is part of the logical continuation of the work started by [its ] predecessors “. This, says the organization, “covers a period of two years (2019-2021) and takes into account the key issues of youth in peace and security at the national level.”

For PAYNCoP Gabon, “peace is not limited to the absence of war [but] involves other things as well, including social justice, respect for human rights, democracy, fight against poverty, etc.”

Colombia: Scars that build peace

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An article from Kienyke Historias

Coming from different places in the south of Colombia, they arrive in groups, dressed in coats, hats and gloves, since many of them are not used to the cold. In their eyes you see a mixture of emotion, expectation and some fear. From different parts of the country, these women have experienced the harshness of violence in the armed conflict.

They are organized in two groups. They greet each other and embrace each other. Some are old acquaintances. They are on the road to rebuilding their lives after having survived different forms of violence. Each story is a world, but all these worlds intersect with common elements.

Those who do not yet know each other present themselves and talk about their hopes, struggles and expectations. Little by little they gain confidence and gather the courage to experience an encounter never before possible. At the end of the afternoon, spontaneously, the group of members of the Departmental Table of Victims decide to go to the room where the other group is assembled, composed of women who were part of the FARC guerrillas in the past.

With songs performed by themselves, they still meet to dance without speaking. Music works as a balm for pains and fears. Finally, they relax and take turns interpreting music from their regions. This is the start of a 3-day meeting in which 40 women, all affected in one way or another by violence, will carry out a process of healing, encounter and forgiveness.

The second day passes and all are working in detail on a drawing of themselves. They portray in each silhouette their feelings, wounds, hopes. Then, around the fire, they talk and share their stories of pain and resilience. Crying is difficult to contain, but it serves to cleanse the soul. Talking about what happened, being heard by others in solidary silence is a way of letting go of the past. Knowing that other women went through the same thing helps relieve the burden. Finally, they are not alone.

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(Click here for the original Spanish version of this article.)

Question related to this article:

What is happening in Colombia, Is peace possible?

Do women have a special role to play in the peace movement?

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In both halls similar stories are heard. The armed conflict affected the lives of all and left scars, in some physical, in other more emotional.

It’s time to meet again. All the drawn silhouettes are displayed on the wall of the room, without names or faces, all with similar pains. Each woman can see and read the pain of the others and in a symbolic act, all are prepared to write messages of encouragement about the silhouettes they are seeing: “Better days will come, trust in God.

Here are some of the messages that are now seen on the wounds drawn on the silhouettes: “You are a very strong woman”; “Smile at life, since we have life, there is still much to be done”; “Perseverance and resilience”; “Change the pain for gratitude, the world wants to discover all your potential”; “Do not let the bad moments steal your peace, smile”; “There will always be a reason to be happy, women are more than just a face”; “Light to follow, to live, to have hope” … “that those scars are used to build peace”.

There are also hugs of consolation and they lend each other handkerchiefs to dry their tears.

At the end, the participants share some reflections. “Looking at the other drawings make merealize that we share many pains,” says one of them. “The body helps tell our story,” says another.

Now each one paints a clay pot. Landscapes, positive messages, many colors and details are seen in each piece. They work with great dedication and great detail. They leave a part of each craft. Another day has passed and they leave their vessels drying during the night.

The third day arrives and the time of the meeting is over. In a mandala, each group makes an offering. They exchange flowers, vessels, messages of forgiveness and solidarity and reconciliation hugs. Enthusiastic, they express their gratitude for the space and commit to promoting more similar encounters.

Between hugs, music and smiles culminates this first “Meeting of Women, My body, Territory of Peace”, a scenario of recognition among groups of women who have been affected by the conflict. They have gone through a process of psychosocial care enabling to turn the reunion into a true process of reconciliation. A first step has been taken in their joint work, recognizing their transforming role and promoter of a culture of peace. It is no longer two groups that you see in the room. Now they are a single group of women united by solidarity and determined to work together to write a new history.

Daniel Ellsberg Speaks Out on the Arrest of Julian Assange

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An article by Dennis J. Bernstein in The Progressive

As Julian Assange awaits his fate, socked away  in maximum security lockdown in Great Britain, his supporters and friends—many of whom believe he is one of the most significant publishers of our time—are vigiling, writing, and speaking out in support of his work and calling for his immediate release.


Daniel Ellsberg

I spoke to legendary Pentagon Paperswhistleblower Daniel Ellsberg the morning after Assange was dragged out  of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, with the eyes of the world watching the scene unfold in real time.
Ellsberg says he is both outraged and deeply concerned about the impact this case might have on the free press. “Without whistleblowers,” Ellsberg tells me in the following interview, “we would not have a democracy.”

Q: You have been watching what has been going on with Julian Assange for some time. What do you make of what has just happened?

Daniel Ellsberg: It is not a good day for the American press, or for American democracy. Forty-eight years ago, I was the first journalistic source to be indicted. There have been perhaps a dozen since then, nine under President Obama. But Julian Assange is the first journalist to be indicted. If he is extradited to the U.S. and convicted, he will not be the last.
The First Amendment is a pillar of our democracy and this is an assault on it. If freedom of speech is violated to this extent, our republic is in danger. Unauthorized disclosures are the lifeblood of the republic.

Q: Some people say Assange was just a hacker. Others, including many major news organizations, felt that he was a legitimate source of information. What is the significance of WikiLeaks? Did it change history in a way similar to how the Pentagon Papers changed our knowledge of the Vietnam War?

Ellsberg: It would be absurd to say that Julian Assange was just a hacker. As a young man he was a hacker, and his philosophy is sometimes called “hacker philosophy,” referring to radical transparency, which goes beyond what I would agree with in some cases, in terms of not wanting to redact or curate any of the information at all. His theory is to lay it all out for the public and I think that can have some dangers for privacy in some cases. But that is not involved here.

In this case he was doing journalism of a kind which I think other outlets are jealous of and don’t practice as much as they should. This information was actually first offered by Chelsea Manning to The New York Times and The Washington Post, but neither one showed any interest in it. That is how it came to Julian Assange and WikiLeaks.

The  collateral murder video  shows up-front murder being done [in an airstrike in Baghdad in July 2007]. You see unarmed people in civilian clothes being gunned down and then as they are crawling away, wounded, being pursued until they are dead. That was murder. Not all killing in war is murder, although a lot of it is in modern war. Other people were watching that video when [Manning] saw it. They were all shocked by it, [but] she was the one who decided that people should be told about this.

That took great moral courage on her part, for which she paid ultimately with seven and a half years in prison, ten and a half months in solitary confinement. She was recently imprisoned again  for refusing to cooperate with a grand jury that clearly is pursuing Julian Assange, hoping to get information beyond what she testified to in her hearings and court trials. . . .

She objects to grand juries in general, as unconstitutional and undemocratic in their secret proceedings. That is the same attitude my co-defendant in the Pentagon Papers trial, Anthony Russo, took forty-eight years ago. He refused to testify secretly to a grand jury. In fact, he offered to testify if they would give him a transcript that would show him exactly what he said and hadn’t said. They wouldn’t accept that and he spent over a month in jail before they decided instead to indict him. Chelsea is taking the same position now and showing the kind of moral courage that she has shown all along.

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Question related to this article:
 
Julian Assange, Is he a hero for the culture of peace?

Free flow of information, How is it important for a culture of peace?

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Julian, meanwhile, is being charged with having gone beyond the limits of journalism by helping Manning to conceal her identity with a new username. He is also charged with having encouraged her to give him documents. That is criminalizing journalism. I can’t count the number of times that I have been asked for documents by journalists or for more documents. She had already given hundreds of thousands of files to Assange and he wanted more. This is the practice of journalism.

Q: There wouldn’t really be much journalism without documents. People used to depend on eyewitness accounts but what beats a document?

Ellsberg: I have been asked what I would do today in the digital era. I would still give them to The New York Times in the hopes that they would print the documents at length. Not many papers take the space to do that and that is why I chose The New York Times. But it was four months after I gave them to Neil Sheehan when they actually published them. During that time he didn’t tell me that the Times was working on it. Nowadays I would not wait, I would give it to WikiLeaks or put it on the net myself.

Q: But Assange was focused on trying to protect his sources. This made it possible for more people to participate and that got on the nerves of the powers that be.

Ellsberg: None of his sources except Chelsea have been identified. Actually, Chelsea chose the wrong person to confide in, Adrian Lamo, who  immediately  informed on her. In terms of getting documents that are crucial, that is done every day. Very often the documents are not printed. The journalist just uses them to make sure that he or she has a valid story. A document is more likely to identify a source, as  happened  in the case of the Intercept, I am sorry to say.

Q: Finally, why is it important to protect whistleblowers? This is obviously meant to frighten off anyone with information.

Ellsberg: Without whistleblowers, our foreign policy would be almost entirely covert. We don’t have as many whistleblowers as we need to have any kind of public sovereignty. Unfortunately, people are simply not willing to risk their job or their clearance or their freedom.

In the past, before me and before President Obama, there were very few prosecutions. Freedom of the press was always held to preclude holding journalists and editors accountable for informing the public. This could be a major change. With classified information, which is nearly everything in the foreign policy field, the writer cannot predict what will be embarrassing in the future, what will appear criminal, what will be considered poor judgment. So they classify everything and it stays classified.

Only a tiny percentage of classified information deserves any protection from the public. A great deal of it the public needs and deserves to have. Most leaks were actually authorized, even though they were against regulations, because they served the interest of some boss in the system. They are really given for the benefit of the agency’s budget, or whatever. A small percentage are whistleblowing in the sense of revelation of wrongdoing or deception or criminality, information that the public should know, to avoid a war, for instance.

Q: What other information that the public has the right to see might still be bottled up?

Ellsberg: Eighteen years after it began, we still don’t have the Pentagon Papers for Afghanistan. I am certain that they exist, within the CIA and the Pentagon and the White House, stacks of classified estimates that say stalemate is irrevocable in Afghanistan: We can stay there as long as we want but we will never serve American interests any more than now, which is essentially zero, unless it is to free the President of the charge that he has lost a war.

I think these estimates have been there from before the war but we have never seen them. How many people really want to get involved in a war with Russia and Assad in Syria? The estimates would reveal that, and we ought to have those.

A war with North Korea or Iran would be catastrophic and I am sure there are many authoritative statements to that effect. But if John Bolton persuades Trump to get involved in such a war, it will happen. It will probably happen without much disclosure beforehand, but if people did risk their careers and their freedom, as Chelsea Manning and Ed Snowden have done, we would have a much better chance that a democratic public would prevent that war from taking place.

Without whistleblowers we would not have a democracy. And there have to be people to distribute work and publish it. Julian Assange has done that in a way in which other publishers have not been willing to. Journalists should close ranks here against this abuse of the President’s authority, and against Britain and Ecuador for violating the norms of asylum and making practically every person who has achieved political asylum anywhere in the world less secure.

It is now up to us to make sure that the First Amendment is preserved.

Remembering the Crimes of the Powerful Exposed by Wikileaks’ Julian Assange

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An article by Alison Weir in Mint Press News

Wikileaks  publisher Julian Assange has finally been imprisoned, an objective long sought by powerful parties he helped to expose over the past dozen years.

Assange’s “crime” was revealing deep, embarrassing, sometimes deadly, malfeasance by numerous actors, including the U.S. government, the media, the Democratic Party-Clinton machine, and Israel.


Feature photo | WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange holds up a court document for the media after he was released on bail, outside the High Court, London, Dec. 16, 2010. Kirsty Wigglesworth | AP
Wikileaks revealed the U.S. government’s cover-up of torture, cruelty, the killing of civilians, spying on its own citizens and others. It exposed Democratic Party cheating and manipulation, the fraudulence of “Russiagate.” It unmasked Israeli plans to keep Gaza on the brink of collapse, to use violence against Palestinian nonviolence, to make war upon civilians. All of this will be detailed below.

Without Wikileaks’ exposés, many of these actions would quite likely have remained hidden from the general public, as the perpetrators hoped.

The actual charge against Assange is allegedly conspiring with Chelsea Manning “to commit computer intrusion,” violating a somewhat problematic law with what one expert terms “overly expansive wording.”

The government seems to have resorted to this charge after the Justice Department had concluded in 2013 that it could not charge Assange for publishing the Iraq and Afghanistan war logs (which revealed various U.S war crimes detailed below), because government lawyers said this would also require charging various U.S. news organizations and journalists.

The Washington Post reported that Justice officials “realized that they have what they described as a ‘New York Times problem.’ If the Justice Department indicted Assange, it would also have to prosecute the New York Times and other news organizations and writers who published classified material, including The Washington Post and Britain’s Guardian newspaper.”

Even the current charge, when examined closely, turns out to be problematic on free press grounds. As Glenn Greenwald notes: “Assange is charged with helping a source preserve anonymity, a common practice by investigative reporters.”

Assange is being held in a maximum-security prison in London that has been called the UK’s Guantanamo. It has been used to detain alleged terrorists, sometimes indefinitely.

Assange’s recent dramatic arrest in Britain has elicited excellent articles by a number of writers – including  Chris Hedges,Jonathan TurleyPepe Escobar”>,Pepe EscobarRay McGovern, John Pilger, Jonathan Cook, David Swanson, and Paul Craig Roberts. Many of these were published by Consortium News, which, unlike mainstream media and journalism organizations, has been regularly covering the escalating persecution of Assange for his Wikileaks revelations.

This article will quote from these valuable articles and others, and will also present additional information about Wikileaks’ exposés on Israel, which have largely gone unmentioned.

The arrest

Journalist Pepe Escobar writes that April 11th, the date of Assange’s arrest, “will live in infamy in the annals of Western ‘values’ and ‘freedom of expression.’ The image is stark. A handcuffed journalist and publisher dragged out by force from the inside of an embassy…”

“The U.S. magically erases Ecuador’s financial troubles, ordering the IMF to release a providential $4.2-billion loan. Immediately after, Ecuadorian diplomats ‘invite’ the London Metropolitan Police to come inside their embassy to arrest their long-term guest.

“Let’s cut to the chase. Julian Assange is not a U.S. citizen, he’s an Australian. WikiLeaks is not a U.S.-based media organization. If the US government gets Assange extradited, prosecuted and incarcerated, it will legitimize its right to go after anyone, anyhow, anywhere, anytime.

“Call it The Killing of Journalism.”

Media attacks and the black propaganda campaign against Wikileaks

Many others in addition to Escobar have noted that the persecution of Assange threatens all journalists. Yet, the media have a history of largely opposing or ignoring Assange.

As Chris Hedges reports:

“Once the documents and videos provided by Manning to Assange and WikiLeaks were published and disseminated by news organizations such as The New York Times and The Guardian, the press callously, and foolishly, turned on Assange. News organizations that had run WikiLeaks material over several days soon served as conduits in a black propaganda campaign to discredit Assange and WikiLeaks.”

John Pilger describes this campaign:

“In 2008, a plan to destroy both WikiLeaks and Assange was laid out in a top secret document dated 8 March, 2008. The authors were the Cyber Counter-intelligence Assessments Branch of the US Defence Department. They described in detail how important it was to destroy the “feeling of trust” that is WikiLeaks’ “centre of gravity”.

This would be achieved, they wrote, with threats of ‘exposure [and] criminal prosecution’ and a unrelenting assault on reputation. The aim was to silence and criminalise WikiLeaks and its editor and publisher. It was as if they planned a war on a single human being and on the very principle of freedom of speech.

Their main weapon would be personal smear. Their shock troops would be enlisted in the media — those who are meant to keep the record straight and tell us the truth.”

Pilger writes in a more recent article: “Assange’s principal media tormentor, The Guardian, a collaborator with the secret state, displayed its nervousness this week with an editorial that scaled new weasel heights. The Guardian has exploited the work of Assange and WikiLeaks in what its previous editor called ‘the greatest scoop of the last 30 years.’ The paper creamed off WikiLeaks’ revelations and claimed the accolades and riches that came with them.

“With not a penny going to Julian Assange or to WikiLeaks, a hyped Guardian book led to a lucrative Hollywood movie. The book’s authors, Luke Harding and David Leigh, turned on their source, abused him and disclosed the secret password Assange had given the paper in confidence, which was designed to protect a digital file containing leaked US embassy cables.

When Assange was still trapped in the Ecuadorian embassy, Harding joined police outside and gloated on his blog that “Scotland Yard may get the last laugh.”

Media watchdog FAIR reports that virtually all the mainstream media, from left to right, have cheered Assange’s recent incarceration, concluding: “It seems clear he shares virtually nothing in common with those in positions of influence in big media outlets, who have been only too happy to watch his demise.”

The Onion, which satirizes the tone and format of typical news outlets, summarizes Assange’s real “crime” in an article entitled Media Condemns Julian Assange For Reckless Exposure Of How They Could Be Spending Their Time. The piece includes an imaginary quote from Fred Hiatt, Washington Post editorial page editor:

“It’s abundantly clear that Mr. Assange was focused on exposing documented evidence of U.S. war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan without so much as a thought for the journalists who faithfully parroted the U.S. military’s talking points when we could have been investigating information that ran contrary to that narrative—does he realize how that makes us look?”

Media half-truths

British journalist Jonathan Cook lays out the media’s sins of omission and commission.

“For seven years, we have had to listen to a chorus of journalists, politicians and ‘experts’ telling us that Assange was nothing more than a fugitive from justice and that the British and Swedish legal systems could be relied on to handle his case in full accordance with the law. Barely a ‘mainstream’ voice was raised in his defense in all that time.

From the moment he sought asylum, Assange was cast as an outlaw. His work as the founder of Wikileaks – a digital platform that for the first time in history gave ordinary people a glimpse into the darkest recesses of the most secure vaults in the deepest of Deep States – was erased from the record.

Assange was reduced from one of the few towering figures of our time – a man who will have a central place in history books, if we as a species live long enough to write those books – to nothing more than a sex pest, and a scruffy bail-skipper.

The political and media class crafted a narrative of half-truths about the sex charges Assange was under investigation for in Sweden. They overlooked the fact that Assange had been allowed to leave Sweden by the original investigator, who dropped the charges, only for them to be revived by another investigator with a well-documented political agenda.

They failed to mention that Assange was always willing to be questioned by Swedish prosecutors in London, as had occurred in dozens of other cases involving extradition proceedings to Sweden….”

Cook concludes: “This was never about Sweden or bail violations, or even about the discredited Russia-gate narrative, as anyone who was paying the vaguest attention should have been able to work out. It was about the U.S. Deep State doing everything in its power to crush WikiLeaks and make an example of its founder.”

What caused the US government and others to desire Assange and Wikileaks’ destruction? Let’s look at what they revealed.

Assange’s Wikileaks exposes Israel

Wikileaks published a number of diplomatic cables and emails that exposed Israeli plans and actions, and U.S. collusion, that Israel and its partisans wished to keep hidden. Below are some of them.

Israel planned to keep Gaza on “brink of collapse”.

In 2008 Wikileaks published a cable from the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv to Washington, that Israel had designated Gaza as a “hostile entity.”

The cable said: “As part of their overall embargo plan against Gaza, Israeli officials have confirmed [to U.S. officials] on multiple occasions that they intend to keep the Gazan economy on the brink of collapse without quite pushing it over the edge.”

The U.S. cable, classified “secret,” recommended that the U.S. try to persuade Israel to abandon this policy. The cable said that the U.S. should encourage Israel to “review its present policies (as requested by the Office of the Quartet Representative and the PA) while pressing the Israelis to approve as much funding each month as possible under security constraints…”

Israel used control over Palestinian money to control Gaza

The leaked cable also described how Israel used its control over Palestinian currency to control Gaza. The cable said Israel’s “monetary policy towards Gaza is consistent with its declaration that Gaza is a ‘hostile entity.’

The cable reported that Israel “believes that maintaining the shekel as the currency of the Palestinian Territories is in Israel’s interests.”It reported that Israel “treats decisions regarding the amount of shekels in circulation in Gaza as a security matter.” Requests by Palestinian banks to transfer shekels into Gaza are approved or denied by the National Security Council (NSC), an organ of the Israeli security establishment, not by the Bank of Israel.

The cable reported that Israel’s NSC “has the final say in permitting new liquidity into Gaza” and used this power to suppress Gaza’s economy.The cable reported that Israel had decided “that Gaza should receive just enough money for the basic needs of the population but it is not interested in returning the Gazan economy to a state of normal commerce and business.”

Israel colluded with PA and Fatah

A 2007 U.S. diplomatic cable, also marked secret, revealed the way in which Israel was using the Palestinian Authority and Fatah, the party of President Mahmoud Abbas.

The cable, from the U.S. embassy, reported information given the by Israeli Security Agency (ISA) Head Yuval Diskin to U.S. officials.

Diskin was concerned that Fatah’s weakness compared to Hamas “bodes ill for Israel,” especially since Israel had “established a very good working relationship” with the Palestinian Authority. He said that PA security agencies were sharing almost all the intelligence they collected with Israel. Diskin said: “They understand that Israel’s security is central to their survival in the struggle with Hamas in the West Bank.”

Israel planned violence against Palestinian nonviolence

A 2010 U.S. cable published by Wikileaks was entitled: “IDF PLANS HARSHER METHODS WITH WEST BANK DEMONSTRATIONS.”

The cable, again from the U.S. embassy, reported that Israel was greatly concerned by Palestinian nonviolence.

A diplomat wrote: “Less violent [Palestinian] demonstrations [were] likely to stymie the IDF. As MOD Pol-Mil chief Amos Gilad told USG interlocutors recently, “we don’t do Gandhi very well.”

The cable reported that an official “expressed frustration with ongoing demonstrations in the West Bank.” He said that the IDF would start to be “more assertive in how it deals with these demonstrations, even demonstrations that appear peaceful.”

The cable reported that the official said Israel would “start sending trucks with ‘dirty water’ to break up these protests, even if they are not violent… (NOTE: dirty water is a reference to the IDF’s chemically treated water that duplicates the effects of skunk spray. End note.)”

The cable reported that Israeli officials had ordered the Palestinian security force commanders “that they must stop these demonstrations or the IDF will.”

Israel’s nuclear monopoly, helping Israel by opposing Assad

Wikileaks posted an email memo to Hillary Clinton saying: “What Israeli military leaders really worry about — but cannot talk about — is losing their nuclear monopoly.

”The memo recommended: “The best way to help Israel deal with Iran’s growing nuclear capability [sic] is to help the people of Syria overthrow the regime of Bashar Assad.” It reported: “Israel’s leadership understands well why defeating Assad is now in its interests.”

The 2012 memo was apparently by James P. Rubin, assistant secretary of state during the Bill Clinton administration (and husband of CNN’s Christiane Amanpour). Rubin emailed it to Hillary Clinton, who then forwarded it to her aide to print out for her.

Susan Rice worked to protect Israel at the UN

Foreign Policy’s Colum Lynch reported on diplomatic cables published by Wikileaks from U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice. They showed Rice working to stymie a UN investigation into Israel’s 2008-2009 invasion of Gaza, an investigation that led to the Goldstone report.

“In one pointed cable,” Lynch wrote, “Rice repeatedly prodded U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to block a recommendation of the board of inquiry to carry out a sweeping inquiry into alleged war crimes by Israeli soldiers and Palestinian militants.

“In another cable, Rice issued a veiled warning to the president of the International Criminal Court, Sang-Hyun Song, that an investigation into alleged Israeli crimes could damage its standing with the United States at a time when the new administration was moving closer to the tribunal. ‘How the ICC handles issues concerning the Goldstone Report will be perceived by many in the US as a test for the ICC, as this is a very sensitive matter,’ she told him, according to a Nov. 3, 2009, cable from the U.S. mission to the United Nations.”

Another cable reveals that “Rice assured Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman during an Oct. 21, 2009, meeting in Tel Aviv that the United States had done its utmost to ‘blunt the effects of the Goldstone Report’ and that she was confident she could ‘build a blocking coalition’ to prevent any push for a probe by the Security Council, according to an Oct. 27, 2009 cable.”

Lynch wrote that the diplomatic cables published by Wikileaks “provide a rare glimpse behind the scenes at the U.N. as American diplomats sought to shield Israel’s military from outside scrutiny of its conduct during Operation Cast Lead.”

They “also demonstrate how the United States and Israel were granted privileged access to highly sensitive internal U.N. deliberations on an ‘independent’ U.N. board of inquiry into the Gaza war, raising questions about the independence of the process.”

Eizenstat worked to influence Hillary on Israel

A 2015 Wikileak consisted of an email from former U.S. Ambassador to the EU Stuart Eizenstat to top Clinton foreign policy advisor Jake Sullivan that was also sent to Hillary Clinton. The email revealed Eizenstat’s close ties to Israel and is another example of how advisors like Eizenstat and Rubin work to influence Clinton’s positions.

Eizenstat had held numerous influential positions in both Israel and the U.S., including Chief Domestic Policy Adviser under President Jimmy Carter and Executive Director of the White House Domestic Policy Staff and Deputy Secretary of the Treasury under Bill Clinton.

His bio states that Eizenstat “served as the presidents’ special representative on Holocaust-related issues and negotiated major Holocaust restitution agreements with a number of European countries, and at the time of his ambassadorial nomination, he sat on the following boards: the Weizmann Institute of Science, The Jerusalem Foundation, Brandeis University, the Council on Foreign Relations, the Council for Excellence in Government Center for National Policy, the Overseas Development Council, the International Management and Development Institute, the American Jewish Committee and the UJA Federation of Greater Washington. He was chairman of the Feinberg Graduate School of the Weizmann Institute and served on the board of directors of Hercules Incorporated; PSI Energy, Inc.; and the Israel Discount Bank of New York.”

For his work, the Government of Israel presented Eizenstat with the Courage and Conscience Award.

Eizenstat noted in his email that the widely known Obama-Netanyahu animosity placed “Hillary in an extremely difficult position, caught between the President she served and the organized parts of the Jewish community.” He advised her on how to maneuver this.

Eizenstat wrote: “Permit me to suggest some points she might make. By way of background, I have very deep connections to the State of Israel and to its elected officials and leading academics. I go to Israel two to three times a year, perhaps 50 times since my first visit in 1965. My grandfather and great-grandfather are buried in Israel, and I have scores of relatives and friends there.”

Eizenstat explained his central role in U.S.-Israel policies:

“During the Clinton Administration, I was responsible for the economic dimension of the peace process, working with Yasir Arafat, the Jordanians and the Israeli government…” He said that he co-chaired with Dennis Ross the Jewish People’s Policy Institute of Jerusalem (JPPI), a think tank funded by the Jewish Agency and major American Jewish federations and foundations, “focusing on strategic challenges facing Israel and the Diaspora around the world.”

Eizenstat recommended that Hillary “should stress the enduring commitment of the United States to Israel’s security interests, not only direct military threats, but attacks against Israel in the form of the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) campaign, on campuses in the U.S. and Europe. She should express grave concern for the increase in anti-Semitism in Europe and violent attacks by radical Islamic terrorists (Obama refuses to use this term; she will need to decide what language to use and then stick with it)…

“Third, and critically, she should express a strong feeling that Israel MUST remain a bipartisan issue, as it has been since its formation. She should sharply criticize those in the U.S. and in Israel who are injecting Israel into a partisan context…”

Hillary’s campaign team advised that she only talk about Israel at private fundraisers

Wikileaks published emails showing that in 2015 Hillary Clinton’s campaign team was concerned that mentioning Israel during election speeches would alienate Democratic party activists.

Campaign manager Robby Mook emailed that they “shouldn’t have Israel at public events.” He was especially concerned about “activists.”

After some debate about strategy, speechwriter Dan Schwerin suggested a basic text for her to use that omitted Israel. He said, “Then she can drop in Israel when she’s with donors.”

Israeli general admits that US and Israeli security interests “often clash”

A 2009 diplomatic cable describing a meeting Assistant Secretary of Defense Ambassador Alexander Vershbow with senior Israeli defense officials in Israel reported that an Israeli general “acknowledged the sometimes difficult position the U.S. finds itself in given its global interests, and conceded that Israel’s security focus is so narrow that its QME concerns often clash with broader American security interests in the region.”

The cable also showed Israeli officials promoting the belief that Iran was about to acquire nuclear weapons. The cable shows that US diplomats were skeptical, the report including the parenthetical comment: “It is unclear if the Israelis firmly believe this or are using worst-case estimates to raise greater urgency from the United States.”)

(Article continued in the column on the right)

Questions related to this article:

Julian Assange, Is he a hero for the culture of peace?

Free flow of information, How is it important for a culture of peace?

(Article continued from the column on the left)

Israeli Chief of Staff reveals Israel is preparing for a war against civilians

Wikileaks posted a Dec. 23, 2009 secret diplomatic cable from the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv that described a briefing by IDF Chief of General Staff Lt General Gabi Ashkenazi of a U.S. Congressional delegation consisting of House Armed Services Committee Chairman Ike Skelton (D, MO), Representative Steve Israel (D-NY), and Representative Tim Murphy (R, PA).

The cable reported: “Ashkenazi began the meeting by expressing his appreciation for the Committee’s support for Israel over the years.”

Ashkenazi “said he is preparing the IDF for a big war” and said that the next battle would be conducted in Gaza and southern Lebanon.

The cable also quoted Ashkenazi as telling the US representatives “the IDF cannot allow a situation in which it is restricted from operating in urban areas,” suggesting that the Israeli military would be even more violent than its invasion of Gaza a year before, in which Israeli forces killed about 1,400 Palestinians, including more than 900 civilians, many of them children. Middle East expert Juan Cole writes : “Planning to bomb civilian areas with foreknowledge that you will thereby kill large numbers of civilians is a war crime.

Ashkenazi admitted that “there were mistakes made.” The report said: “He noted that Israeli soldiers were also hit by mistake. The same tank battalion that hit the house of Dr. Abul Eish and killed his two daughters also hit an IDF infantry unit.”

Cole reports that Ashkenazi had told a delegation “that Israeli unmanned drones had had great success in identifying rocket emplacements in southern Lebanon, and that it had been aided in this endeavor by the US National Security Agency, which spies on communications.”

According to Cole, “Israel could have a peace treaty with Syria and Lebanon tomorrow by giving back the Golan Heights and the Shebaa Farms, and by accepting a two-state solution. Instead, its Dr. Strangeloves are planning out massive bombings of areas thick with innocent civilians and willing to subject Tel Aviv to two months worth of rocket fire.”

The impact of Israel’s actions on the U.S.

Cole discussed what this could mean for the United States:

“Nor will the United States be held harmless from the blowback in the region caused by another Israeli war of aggression. Before September 11, Israel hawks used to make fun of Americans who warned that eventually there would be hell to pay for the Israeli strangulation of the Palestinians (for the argument, see this posting). And, imagine what a war would do to gasoline prices and to the world economy.”

Cole concluded: “My deepest fear is that US support for Israeli militarism, and the terrorism that support inevitably engenders, will be what finally finishes off the civil liberties enshrined in the American Constitution.”

Former US Treasury Undersecretary and journalist Paul Craig Roberts worries that this is already in process: “As the grand jury [for Assange] was secret because of ‘national security,’ will the trial also be secret and the evidence secret? Is what we have here a Star Chamber proceeding in which a person is indicted in secret and convicted in secret on secret evidence? This is the procedure used by tyrannical governments who have no case against the person they intend to destroy.”

Israel misled the public about Hamas; Israel opposes a lasting ceasefire

Another secret US diplomatic cable published by Wikileaks  reported on a trip to Israel by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (R-NY). Gillibrand’s group was briefed on “the Gaza security situation” by the IDF Southern Command and the Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) on September 2nd and 3rd, 2009.

(At the time, Gillibrand was facing an upcoming fight to retain her position in the Senate in what was expected to be a close election in 2010 – she had been appointed by the governor to the seat after Hillary became Secretary of State).

The cable reported: “Israel Major General Yoav Gallant told the CODEL [Congressional Delegation] that the Southern Command’s role is to manage the threat from Gaza.”

While Israel publicly portrays Gaza as filled with extremists who hate Israel because of Islamic extremism, the Wikileaks disclosure shows that privately its officials tell a different story.

Gallant was quoted as telling Gillibrand: “Sixty percent of Gaza’s population is under the age of twenty and the average income is one-twenty-fifth of the average income of Israelis in Sderot (a relatively poor Israeli town).  Gaza has no natural resources except for fishing.  Those factors would be reason enough for Gazans to fight, even without religious extremism.”
Gallant admitted that Israel opposed a lasting ceasefire with Hamas, since “a lasting ceasefire is likely to lead to a stronger Hamas.”

An Israeli official said that one of the reasons that Fatah couldn’t make concessions to reconcile with Hamas was “because of the U.S. position,” suggesting that the US has played a role in the continuing division between Hamas and Fatah.

The briefing disclosed that Israeli officials were displeased that Egypt didn’t always do what Israel government told it to do. An Israeli official complained “that Shin Bet and the Mossad gave Egyptian intelligence the names of the top 300 smugglers in the Sinai, but Egypt did not act against any of them.”

While Israel always blames Hamas for any and all violence against Israel, the cable revealed that privately Israeli officials are aware that other, newer groups are often responsible.

Israeli Officials said that these groups “oppose the rule of Hamas,” which has tried to suppress them.

Israel & US decide to hide delivery of US bunker-busting bombs to Israel (for targeting Iran)

secret 2009 diplomatic cable  reported on the “Executive Session of the 40th Joint Political Military Group (JPMG)”. The US group was led by Andrew Shapiro, Assistant Secretary of State, Bureau of Political-Military Affairs. They met with top Israeli officials.

The cable reported that the combined group decided that the upcoming delivery of GBU-28 bunker busting bombs to Israel “should be handled quietly to avoid any allegations that the USG [United States Government] is helping Israel prepare for a strike against Iran.”

The cable also reported: “The GOI [Government of Israel] made the case for “crippling sanctions” against Iran.

Israeli was concerned about Russia & Turkey

The same 2009 secret cable  reported that Israel was extremely concerned about Russia, reporting:

“The GOI [Government of Israel] was not confident that Moscow will be helpful in any Iranian sanctions effort — GOI participants opined that Russia is considered a ‘mystery’ with respect to their views on Iran.  The GOI raised the Russian S-300 sale to Iran, noting that the transfer is still pending.  GOI participants argued that Moscow seeks a return to superpower status.” (This suggests that Israel’s continual concern about Russia could be a factor in the promotion of the widespread – and dangerous  – anti-Russia discourse in the US.)

Israel was also worried that Turkey wasn’t toeing the Israeli line:

“The GOI raised the current direction the Government of Turkey has taken toward Syria and Iran — and away from Israel.  Israeli participants argued that Turkey has been supportive of Hamas in Gaza while pursuing a more ‘Islamic’ direction with the goal of becoming a regional superpower. The GOI argued that the Turkish military is losing its ability to influence government decisions and strategic direction.  After this past year, GOI participants said they have a ‘bad feeling’ about Turkey.”

Efforts “at the highest levels” of the US government to remove restrictions for Israelis concerning dual citizenship

The same 2009 secret cable  discussed above also revealed that there were efforts at the top levels of the US government to allow dual Israel citizens in the US to have access to sensitive technology:

“The GOI raised the issue of dual citizenship within the context of access to sensitive technology.  U.S. participants acknowledged Israeli concerns, noting that the issue is being worked at the highest levels of the USG to reach consensus on how to proceed.”

(Dual citizenship used to be prohibited in the United States until this was overturned  in 1967 on behalf of Israel; Abe Fortas  was the swing vote.)

Since 2006 Wikileaks has exposed a multitude of misdeeds of governments throughout the world (e.g. exposing corruption in Kenya.) Below are some of the exposés about the U.S.

Exposing US war crimes

Iraq and Afghanistan

Chris Hedges reports: “The half a million internal documents leaked by Manning from the Pentagon and the State Department, along with the 2007 video  of U.S. helicopter pilots nonchalantly gunning down Iraqi civilians, including children, and two Reuters journalists, provided copious evidence of the hypocrisy, indiscriminate violence, and routine use of torture, lies, bribery and crude tactics of intimidation by the U.S. government in its foreign relations and wars in the Middle East. Assange and WikiLeaks allowed us to see the inner workings of empire—the most important role of a press—and for this, they became the empire’s prey.”

Jonathan Turley writes:

“The key to prosecuting Assange has always been to punish him without again embarrassing the powerful figures made mockeries by his disclosures. That means to keep him from discussing how the U.S. government concealed attacks and huge civilian losses, the type of disclosures that were made in the famous Pentagon Papers case. He cannot discuss how Democratic and Republican members either were complicit or incompetent in their oversight. He cannot discuss how the public was lied to about the program.”

Below are some of the Wikileaks revelations about U.S. war crimes, as reported by BBC:

One of the Wikileaks documents  shows the US military was given a video apparently showing Iraqi Army (IA) officers executing a prisoner in the northern town of Talafar.

“The footage shows the IA soldiers moving the detainee into the street, pushing him to the ground, punching him and shooting him,” states the log, which also names at least one of the perpetrators.

“In another case, U.S. soldiers suspected army officers of cutting off a detainee’s fingers and burning him with acid…..

“In one incident in July 2007, as many as 26 Iraqis were killed by a helicopter, about half of them civilians, according to the log.

Another record  shows an Apache helicopter gunship fired on two men believed to have fired mortars at a military base in Baghdad in February 2007, even though they were attempting to surrender. The crew asked a lawyer whether they could accept the surrender, but were told they could not, “and are still valid targets”. So they shot them.”

The Guardian  also summarized some of the Wikileaks’ revelations:

* US authorities failed to investigate hundreds of reports of abuse, torture, rape and even murder by Iraqi police and soldiers whose conduct appears to be systematic and normally unpunished.

* A US helicopter gunship involved in a notorious Baghdad incident had previously killed Iraqi insurgents after they tried to surrender.

* US and UK officials insisted that no official record of civilian casualties exists but the logs record 66,081 non-combatant deaths out of a total of 109,000 fatalities.

“The numerous reports of detainee abuse, often supported by medical evidence, describe prisoners shackled, blindfolded and hung by wrists or ankles, and subjected to whipping, punching, kicking or electric shocks. Six reports end with a detainee’s apparent death.

“As recently as December the Americans were passed a video apparently showing Iraqi army officers executing a prisoner  in Tal Afar, northern Iraq. The log states: “The footage shows approximately 12 Iraqi army soldiers. Ten IA soldiers were talking to one another while two soldiers held the detainee. The detainee had his hands bound … The footage shows the IA soldiers moving the detainee into the street, pushing him to the ground, punching him and shooting him.”

“The report named at least one perpetrator and was passed to coalition forces. But the logs reveal that the coalition has a formal policy of ignoring such allegations. They record “no investigation is necessary” and simply pass reports to the same Iraqi units implicated in the violence. By contrast all allegations involving coalition forces are subject to formal inquiries. Some cases of alleged abuse by UK and US troops are also detailed in the logs.

“In two Iraqi cases postmortems revealed evidence of death by torture. On 27 August 2009 a US medical officer found “bruises and burns as well as visible injuries to the head, arm, torso, legs and neck”  on the body of one man claimed by police to have killed himself. On 3 December 2008 another detainee, said by police to have died of “bad kidneys”, was found to have ‘evidence of some type of unknown surgical procedure on [his] abdomen’.

“A Pentagon spokesman told the New York Times this week that under its procedure, when reports of Iraqi abuse were received the US military  ‘notifies the responsible government of Iraq agency or ministry for investigation and follow-up’.

“The logs also illustrate the readiness of US forces to unleash lethal force. In one chilling incident they detail how an Apache helicopter gunship gunned down two men  in February 2007.

“The suspected insurgents had been trying to surrender but a lawyer back at the base told the pilots: ‘You cannot surrender to an aircraft.’ The Apache, callsign Crazyhorse 18, was the same unit and helicopter based at Camp Taji outside Baghdad that later that year, in July, mistakenly killed two Reuters employees and wounded two children in the streets of Baghdad.”

In reading about the actions in Iraq, it’s important to remember that pro-Israel neocons  were a major factor in the U.S. invasion.

Democratic primaries rigged to oust Bernie Sanders< Wikileaks stated  that it had “exposed how those at the top of the U.S. Democratic Party had worked tirelessly to tilt the scales in favor of Hillary Clinton as she faced off against Bernie Sanders in the race to be the Democrat presidential candidate.

”These revelations eventually prompted the resignation of five of the most senior members of the Democratic Party in the aftermath of the Democratic Convention, including DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

Hedges reports: “Assange, who with the Manning leaks had exposed the war crimes, lies and criminal manipulations of the George W. Bush administration, soon earned the ire of the Democratic Party establishment by publishing 70,000 hacked emails belonging to the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and senior Democratic officials. The emails were copied from the accounts of John Podesta, Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman.

“The Podesta emails exposed the donation of millions of dollars from Saudi Arabia and Qatar, two of the major funders of Islamic State, to the Clinton Foundation.

“It exposed the $657,000 that Goldman Sachs paid to Hillary Clinton to give talks, a sum so large it can only be considered a bribe. It exposed Clinton’s repeated mendacity. She was caught in the emails, for example, telling the financial elites that she wanted “open trade and open borders” and believed Wall Street executives were best positioned to manage the economy, a statement that contradicted her campaign statements.

“It exposed the Clinton campaign’s efforts to influence the Republican primaries to ensure that Trump was the Republican nominee.

“It exposed Clinton’s advance knowledge of questions in a primary debate.

[These were given to Hillary by prominent Democratic activist and former CNN commentator, now Fox News pundit Donna Brazile. The scandal quickly blew over. Salon reported  in 2016 that Brazile was “far-from-contrite” and “recycled her discredited claims that the hacked emails that exposed her perfidy against presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders were somehow altered by Russian intelligence agents.” Turley points out that Brazile is “now back on television, but Assange, however, could well do time.”]

“It exposed Clinton as the primary architect of the war in Libya, a war she believed would burnish her credentials as a presidential candidate.”

CIA Spied on American citizens & friendly nations

Hedges reports: “WikiLeaks has done more to expose the abuses of power and crimes of the American Empire than any other news organization. In addition to the war logs and the Podesta emails, it made public the hacking tools used by the CIA and the National Security Agency and their interference in foreign elections, including in the French elections.”

“[Wikileaks] intervened to save Edward Snowden, who made public the wholesale surveillance of the American public by our intelligence agencies, from extradition to the United States by helping him flee from Hong Kong to Moscow. The Snowden leaks also revealed that Assange was on a U.S. ‘manhunt target list.’”   (More on Snowden here.)

Wikileaks’ publication of  Vault 7: CIA Hacking Tools Revealed, “the largest ever publication of confidential documents on the agency,” revealed that the CIA “had produced more than a thousand hacking systems, trojans, viruses, and other ‘weaponized’ malware.”

The documents revealed that the CIA’s “exploits against a wide range of U.S. and European company products include Apple’s iPhone, Google’s Android and Microsoft’s Windows and even Samsung TVs, which are turned into covert microphones.”

Misleading the public about “Russiagate”

Hedges notes: “The Democratic leadership, intent on blaming Russia for its election loss, charges that the Podesta emails were obtained by Russian government hackers, although James Comey, the former FBI director, has conceded that the emails were probably delivered to WikiLeaks by an intermediary. Assange has said the emails were not provided by ‘state actors.’”

Pilger reports: “The Guardian published a series of falsehoods about Assange, not least a discredited claim that a group of Russians and Trump’s man, Paul Manafort, had visited Assange in the embassy. The meetings never happened; it was fake.”
The Vault 7 documents revealed that some of the CIA’s tools enabled it to make hacking, emails, etc. appear to come from a different source, calling into question claims about alleged Russian hacking.

Former top CIA analyst Ray McGovern and former NSA Technical Director William Binney, in a detailed article  disputing Russiagate contentions, wrote that Wikileaks’ Vault 7  documents revealed that the CIA had the ability to “break into computers and servers and make it look like others did it by leaving telltale signs (like Cyrillic markings, for example).”

(For more on Russiagate see this and this.)

U.S. plans for regime change in Syria and Venezuela

John Pilger writes that Wikileaks documents provided “the detailed description of American ambassadors of how the governments in Syria and Venezuela might be overthrown. It is all available on the WikiLeaks site.”

British military’s secret document calling investigative journalists “a major threat”

Pilger reports: “A decade ago, the Ministry of Defense in London produced a secret document which described the ‘principal threats’ to public order as threefold: terrorists, Russian spies and investigative journalists. The latter was designated the major threat.”Assange’s Wikileaks revealed all this to us, and more.

Extradition to the US could place Assange’s life in danger

And now Assange is in “Britain’s Guantanamo,” awaiting possible, perhaps probable, extradition to the U.S. If this happens, his lawyers say, “he may risk torture and his life would be in danger.”

UN Special Rapporteur on torture Nils Melzer has issued a statement  warning that extradition “could expose him to a real risk of serious violations of his human rights, including his freedom of expression, his right to a fair trial and the prohibition of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”

Melzer urged the British Government “to refrain from expelling, returning or extraditing Mr. Assange to the United States or any other jurisdiction, until his right to asylum under refugee law or subsidiary protection under international human rights law has been determined in a transparent and impartial proceeding granting all due process and fair trial guarantees, including the right to appeal.”

Numerous organizations, as reported by journalist Elizabeth Vos , have opposed his prosecution, including the ACLU, The Freedom of the Press Foundation, the  Center for Investigative Journalism, Amnesty Ireland, Committee To Protect Journalists, Reporters Without Borders, Human Rights Watch, the Center for Constitutional Rights, the National Union of Journalists, the The Knight First Amendment Institute and Digital Rights Watch.

Yet, he remains in prison, while the mainstream media  and others  applaud this.

The bottom line

Consortium News asks: “if Your Country Were Committing War Crimes Would You Want to Know? ” One thing is clear. The perpetrators don’t want Americans to know and are trying to shoot the messenger.

But to prevent countless lives from being destroyed abroad, and eventually, at home, it’s essential that Americans learn the profoundly disturbing actions that Wikileaks revealed. And then for everyone, across the political spectrum, to demand that these actions stop.

2019 World Press Freedom Index – A cycle of fear

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A report from Reporters Without Borders

The 2019 World Press Freedom Index compiled by Reporters Without Borders (RSF) shows how hatred of journalists has degenerated into violence, contributing to an increase in fear. The number of countries regarded as safe, where journalists can work in complete security, continues to decline, while authoritarian regimes continue to tighten their grip on the media.

The RSF Index, which evaluates the state of journalism in 180 countries and territories every year shows that an intense climate of fear has been triggered — one that is prejudicial to a safe reporting environment. The hostility towards journalists expressed by political leaders in many countries has incited increasingly serious and frequent acts of violence that have fuelled an unprecedented level of fear and danger for journalists.

“If the political debate slides surreptitiously or openly towards a civil war-style atmosphere, in which journalists are treated as scapegoats, then democracy is in great danger,” RSF secretary-general Christophe Deloire said. “Halting this cycle of fear and intimidation is a matter of the utmost urgency for all people of good will who value the freedoms acquired in the course of history.”

Norway is ranked first in the 2019 Index for the third year running while Finland (up two places) has taken second place from the Netherlands (down one at 4th), where two reporters who cover organized crime have had to live under permanent police protection. An increase in cyber-harassment caused Sweden (third) to lose one place. In Africa, the rankings of Ethiopia (up 40 at 110th) and Gambia (up 30 at 92nd) have significantly improved from last year’s Index.

Many authoritarian regimes have fallen in the Index. They include Venezuela (down five at 148th), where journalists have been the victims of arrests and violence by security forces, and Russia (down one at 149th), where the Kremlin has used arrests, arbitrary searches and draconian laws to step up the pressure on independent media and the Internet. At the bottom of the Index, both Vietnam (176th) and China (177th) have fallen one place, Eritrea (up 1 at 178th) is third from last, despite making peace with its neighbour Ethiopia, and Turkmenistan (down two at 180th) is now last, replacing North Korea (up one at 179th).

Only 24 percent of the 180 countries and territories are classified as “good” (coloured white on the Press Freedom Map) or “fairly good” (yellow), as opposed to 26 percent last year. As a result of an increasingly hostile climate that goes beyond Donald Trump’s comments, the United States (48th) has fallen three places in this year’s Index and the media climate is now classified as “problematic” (orange). Never before have US journalists been subjected to so many death threats or turned so often to private security firms for protection. Hatred of the media is now such that a man walked into the Capital Gazette newsroom in Annapolis, Maryland, in June 2018 and opened fire, killing four journalists and one other member of the newspaper’s staff. The gunman had repeatedly expressed his hatred for the paper on social networks before ultimately acting on his words.

Threats, insults and attacks are now part of the “occupational hazards” for journalists in many countries. In India (down two at 140th), where critics of Hindu nationalism are branded as “anti-Indian” in online harassment campaigns, six journalists were murdered in 2018. Since the election campaign in Brazil (down three at 105th), the media have been targeted by Jair Bolsonaro’s supporters on both physically and online.

Courageous investigative reporters

In this climate of widespread hostility, courage is needed to continue investigating corruption, tax evasion or organized crime. In Italy (up 3 at 43rd), interior minister and League party leader Matteo Salvini suggested that journalist Roberto Saviano’s police protection could be withdrawn after he criticized Salvini, while journalists and media are subjected to growing judicial harassment almost everywhere in the world, including Algeria (down 5 at 141st) and Croatia (up 5 at 64th).

Abusive judicial proceedings may be designed to gag investigative reporters by draining their financial resources, as in France or in Malta (down 12 at 77th). They could also result in imprisonment, as in Poland (down 1 at 59th), where Gazeta Wyborcza’s journalists are facing possible jail terms for linking the head of the ruling party to a questionable construction project, and in Bulgaria (11th), where two journalists were arrested after spending several months investigating the misuse of EU funds. In addition to lawsuits and prosecutions, investigative reporters are liable to be the targets of every other kind of harassment whenever they lift the veil on corrupt practices. A reporter’s house was set on fire in Serbia (down 14 at 90th), while journalists were murdered in Malta, Slovakia (down 8 at 35th), Mexico (down 3 at 144th) and Ghana (down 4 at 27th).

The level of violence used to persecute journalists who aggravate authorities no longer seems to know any limits. Saudi columnist Jamal Khashoggi’s gruesome murder in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last October sent a chilling message to journalists well beyond the borders of Saudi Arabia (down 3 at 172nd). Out of fear for their survival, many of the region’s journalists censor themselves or have stopped writing altogether.

Biggest deterioration in supposedly better regions

Of all the world’s regions, it is the Americas (North and South) that has suffered the greatest deterioration (3.6 percent) in its regional score measuring the level of press freedom constraints and violations. This was not just due to the poor performance of the United States, Brazil and Venezuela. Nicaragua (114th) fell 24 places, one of the biggest in 2019. Nicaraguan journalists covering protests against President Ortega’s government are treated as protesters and are often physically attacked. Many had to flee abroad to avoid being jailed on terrorism charges.

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(Click here for the French version of this article or click here for the Spanish version.)

Question(s) related to this article:

Free flow of information, How is it important for a culture of peace?

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The Western Hemisphere also has one of the world’s deadliest countries for the media: Mexico, where at least ten journalists were murdered in 2018. Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s installation as president has reduced some of the tension between the authorities and media, but the continuing violence and impunity for murders of journalists led RSF to refer the situation to the International Criminal Court in March.

The European Union and Balkansregistered the second biggest deterioration (1.7 percent) in its regional score measuring the level of constraints and violations. It is still the region where press freedom is respected most and which is, in principle, the safest, but journalists are nonetheless exposed to serious threats: to murder in Malta, Slovakia and Bulgaria (111th); to verbal and physical attacks in Serbia and Montenegro (down 1 at 104th); and to an unprecedented level of violence during the Yellow Vest protests in France (down 1 at 32nd). Many TV crews did not dare cover the Yellow Vest protests without being accompanied by bodyguards, and others concealed their channel’s logo. Journalists are also being openly stigmatized. In Hungary (down 14 at 87th), officials in Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s party Fidesz continue to refuse to speak to journalists who are not from media that are friendly to Fidesz. In Poland, the state-owned media have been turned into propaganda tools and are increasingly used to harass journalists.

Although the deterioration in its regional score was smaller, the Middle East and North Africa region continues to be the most difficult and dangerous for journalists. Despite a slight fall in the number of journalists killed in 2018, Syria (174th) continues to be extremely dangerous for media personnel, as does Yemen (down 1 at 168th). Aside from wars and major crises, as in Libya (162nd), another major threat hangs over the region’s journalists – that of arbitrary arrest and imprisonment. Iran (down 6 at 170th) is one of the world’s biggest jailers of journalists. Dozens of journalists are also detained in Saudi Arabia, Egypt (down 2 at 163rd) and Bahrain (down 1 at 167th), many of them without trial. And when they are tried, the proceedings drag on interminably, as in Morocco (135th). The one exception to this gloomy picture is Tunisia (up 15 at 97th), which has seen a big fall in the number of violations.

Africa registered the smallest deterioration in its regional score in the 2019 Index, but also some of the biggest changes in individual country rankings. After a change of government, Ethiopia (110th) freed all of its detained journalists and secured a spectacular 40-place jump in the Index. And it was thanks to a change of government that Gambia (up 30 at 92nd) also achieved one of the biggest rises in this year’s Index. But new governments have not always been good for journalists. Tanzania (down 25 at 118th) has seen unprecedented attacks on the media since John “Bulldozer” Magufuli’s installation as president in 2015. Mauritania (down 22 at 94th) also fell sharply, in large part because the blogger Mohamed Cheikh Ould Mohamed Mkhaitir is being held incommunicado though he should have been freed more than a year and a half ago, when his death sentence for apostasy was commuted to a jail term. In this continent of contrasts, bad situations have continued unchanged in some countries: the Democratic Republic of Congo (154th) was again the country where RSF registered the most violations in 2018, while Somalia (164th) continued to be Africa’s deadliest country for journalists.

The Eastern Europe and Central Asiaregion continues to rank second from last in the Index, the position it has held for years, despite an unusual variety of changes at the national level and a slight improvement in its regional score. Some of the indicators used to calculate the score improved, while others deteriorated. Of the latter, it was the legal framework indicator that worsened most. More than half of the region’s countries are still ranked near or below 150th in the Index. The regional heavyweights, Russia and Turkey, continue to persecute independent media outlets. The world’s biggest jailer of professional journalists, Turkey, is also the world’s only country where a journalist has been prosecuted for their Paradise Papers reporting. In this largely ossified region, rises are rare and deserve mention. Uzbekistan (up 5 at 160th) has ceased to be coloured black (the mark of a “very bad” situation) after freeing all the journalists who were jailed under the late dictator, Islam Karimov. In Armenia (up 19 at 61st), the “velvet revolution” has loosened the government’s grip on TV channels. The size of its rise was facilitated by the fact that this is a very volatile part of the Index.

With totalitarian propaganda, censorship, intimidation, physical violence and cyber-harassment, the Asia-Pacificregion continues to exhibit all of the problems that can beset journalism and, with a virtually unchanged regional score, continues to rank third from last. The number of murdered journalists was extremely high in Afghanistan (121st), India and Pakistan (down 3 at 142nd). Disinformation is also becoming a big problem in the region. As a result of the manipulation of social networks in Myanmar, anti-Rohingya hate messages have become commonplace and the seven-year jail sentences imposed on two Reuters journalists for trying to investigate the Rohingya genocide was seen as nothing out of the ordinary. Under China’s growing influence, censorship is spreading to Singapore (151st) and Cambodia (down 1 at 143rd). In this difficult environment, the 22-place rises registered by both Malaysia (123rd) and Maldives (98th) highlight the degree to which political change can radically transform the climate for journalists, and how a country’s political ecosystem can directly affect press freedom.

THE REGIONAL ANALYSIS

Published annually by RSF since 2002, the World Press Freedom Index measures the level of media freedom in 180 countries. It assesses the level of pluralism, media independence, the environment for the media and self-censorship, the legal framework, transparency, and the quality of the infrastructure that supports the production of news and information. It does not evaluate government policy.

The global indicator and the regional indicators are calculated on the basis of the scores registered for each country. These country scores are calculated from the answers to a questionnaire in 20 languages that is completed by experts throughout the world, supported by a qualitative analysis. The scores measure constraints and violations, so the higher the score, the worse the situation. Because of growing awareness of the Index, it is an extremely useful advocacy tool.

Chomsky: Arrest of Assange Is “Scandalous” and Highlights Shocking Extraterritorial Reach of U.S.

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A report from Democracy Now (reprinted according to a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License)

Attorneys for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange are vowing to fight his possible extradition to the United States following his arrest in London, when British police forcibly removed Assange from the Ecuadorean Embassy, where he had taken asylum for almost seven years. On Thursday night, Democracy Now!’s Amy Goodman spoke to Noam Chomsky about Assange’s arrest, WikiLeaks and American power.


Video of Chomsky interview

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now! I’m Amy Goodman in Boston, as we sit down with Noam Chomsky for a public conversation. I asked him about the arrest of Julian Assange.

NOAM CHOMSKY: Well, the Assange arrest is scandalous in several respects. One of them is just the effort of governments—and it’s not just the U.S. government. The British are cooperating. Ecuador, of course, is now cooperating. Sweden, before, had cooperated. The efforts to silence a journalist who was producing materials that people in power didn’t want the rascal multitude to know about—OK?—that’s basically what happened. WikiLeaks was producing things that people ought to know about those in power. People in power don’t like that, so therefore we have to silence it. OK? This is the kind of thing, the kind of scandal, that takes place, unfortunately, over and over.

To take another example, right next door to Ecuador, in Brazil, where the developments that have gone on are extremely important. This is the most important country in Latin America, one of the most important in the world. Under the Lula government early in this millennium, Brazil was the most—maybe the most respected country in the world. It was the voice for the Global South under the leadership of Lula da Silva. Notice what happened. There was a coup, soft coup, to eliminate the nefarious effects of the labor party, the Workers’ Party. These are described by the World Bank—not me, the World Bank—as the “golden decade” in Brazil’s history, with radical reduction of poverty, a massive extension of inclusion of marginalized populations, large parts of the population—Afro-Brazilian, indigenous—who were brought into the society, a sense of dignity and hope for the population. That couldn’t be tolerated.

After Lula’s—after he left office, a kind of a “soft coup” take place—I won’t go through the details, but the last move, last September, was to take Lula da Silva, the leading, the most popular figure in Brazil, who was almost certain to win the forthcoming election, put him in jail, solitary confinement, essentially a death sentence, 25 years in jail, banned from reading press or books, and, crucially, barred from making a public statement—unlike mass murderers on death row. This, in order to silence the person who was likely to win the election. He’s the most important political prisoner in the world. Do you hear anything about it?

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Question related to this article:
 
Julian Assange, Is he a hero for the culture of peace?

Free flow of information, How is it important for a culture of peace?

(Article continued from the column on the left)

Well, Assange is a similar case: We’ve got to silence this voice. You go back to history. Some of you may recall when Mussolini’s fascist government put Antonio Gramsci in jail. The prosecutor said, “We have to silence this voice for 20 years. Can’t let it speak.” That’s Assange. That’s Lula. There are other cases. That’s one scandal.

The other scandal is just the extraterritorial reach of the United States, which is shocking. I mean, why should the United States—why should any—no other state could possibly do it. But why should the United States have the power to control what others are doing elsewhere in the world? I mean, it’s an outlandish situation. It goes on all the time. We never even notice it. At least there’s no comment on it.

Like, take the trade agreements with China. OK? What are the trade agreements about? They’re an effort to prevent China’s economic development. It’s exactly what they are. Now, China has a development model. The Trump administration doesn’t like it. So, therefore, let’s undermine it. Ask yourself: What would happen if China did not observe the rules that the United States is trying to impose? China, for example, when Boeing or Microsoft, some other major company, invests in China, China wants to have some control over the nature of the investment. They want some degree of technology transfer. They should gain something from the technology. Is there something wrong with that? That’s how the United States developed, stealing—what we call stealing—technology from England. It’s how England developed, taking technology from more advanced countries—India, the Low Countries, even Ireland. That’s how every developed country has reached the stage of advanced development. If Boeing and Microsoft don’t like those arrangements, they don’t have to invest in China. Nobody has a gun to their heads. If anybody really believed in capitalism, they should be free to make any arrangement they want with China. If it involves technology transfer, OK. The United States wants to block that, so China can’t develop.

Take what are called intellectual property rights, exorbitant patent rights for medicines, for Windows, for example. Microsoft has a monopoly on operating systems, through the World Trade Organization. Suppose China didn’t observe these. Who would benefit, and who would lose? Well, the fact of the matter is that consumers in the United States would benefit. It would mean that you’d get cheaper medicines. It would mean that when you get a computer, that you wouldn’t be stuck with Windows. You could get a better operating system. Bill Gates would have a little less money. The pharmaceutical corporations wouldn’t be as super-rich as they are, a little less rich. But the consumers would benefit. Is there something wrong with that? Is there a problem with that?

Well, you might ask yourself: What lies behind all of these discussions and negotiations? This is true across the board. Almost any issue you pick, you can ask yourself: Why is this accepted? So, in this case, why is it acceptable for the United States to have the power to even begin to give even a proposal to extradite somebody whose crime is to expose to the public materials that people in power don’t want them to see? That’s basically what’s happening.

UN experts warn Assange arrest exposes him to risk of serious human rights violations

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An article from the United Nations News

Independent UN rights experts on Thursday [April 11] said the arrest of Wikileaks co-founder Julian Assange by police in the United Kingdom, after the Ecuadorian Government decided to stop granting him asylum in their London embassy, exposed him to “the risk of serious human rights violations”, if extradited to the United States.


Press Briefing by Ms. Agnes Callamard, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions. (UN Photo/Mark Garten)

Special Rapporteur on extra-judicial executions, Agnes Callamard, tweeted that in “expelling Assange from the Embassy” and allowing his arrest, it had taken Mr. Assange “one step closer to extradition”. She added that the UK had now arbitrarily-detained the controversial anti-secrecy journalist and campaigner, “possibly endangering his life”.

Mr. Assange took refuge inside the embassy in 2012, to avoid extradition to Sweden by the UK authorities where he faced charges, since dropped, of sexual assault. But he also faces US federal conspiracy charges, relating to the leak of a vast number of Government documents to his Wikileaks website, by the former US intelligence analyst, Chelsea Manning. The US argues that publication by the investigative site, endangered the lives of its citizens working overseas.

According to reports, the UK will now assess whether to extradite the Australian national to the US, where he faces up to five years in prison. The UK has reportedly given assurances in writing to the Ecuadorian Government that Mr. Assange will not be extradited to a country where he could face torture, or the death penalty.

After appearing in a central London courtroom on Thursday, Mr. Assange was found guilty of failing to surrender to the court in 2012, and now faces up to 12 months in prison.

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Question related to this article:
 
Julian Assange, Is he a hero for the culture of peace?

Free flow of information, How is it important for a culture of peace?

(Article continued from the column on the left)

The UN independent expert on the right to privacy, Joe Cannataci, issued a statement following the arrest, saying that “this will not stop my efforts to assess Mr. Assange’s claims that his privacy has been violated. All it means is that, instead of visiting Mr Assange and speaking to him at the Embassy…I intend to visit him and speak to him wherever he may be detained.”

In a statement last Friday, Special Rapporteur on torture, Nils Melzer, said he was alarmed by reports that an arrest was imminent, and that if extradited, Mr. Assange could be exposed to “a real risk of serious violations of his human rights, including his freedom of expression, his right to a fair trial, and the prohibition of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”

UK urged to ‘abide by international obligations’

Last December, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, urged the UK to “abide by its international obligations” and allow Mr. Assange safe passage out of the embassy.
“States that are based upon, and promote the rule of law, do not like to be confronted with their own violations of the law, that is understandable. But when they honestly admit these violations, they do honour the very spirit of the rule of law, earn enhanced respect for doing so, and set worldwide commendable examples,” said a statement released by the Working Group.

In December 2015, the Working Group concluded in its opinion No. 54/2015  that Mr. Assange – who at the time had a European arrest warrant issued against him for an allegation of crimes committed in Sweden ‑ was being arbitrarily deprived of his freedom and demanded that he be released.

“Under international law, pre-trial detention must be only imposed in limited instances. Detention during investigations must be even more limited, especially in the absence of any charge” said the experts. “The Swedish investigations have been closed for over 18 months now, and the only ground remaining for Mr. Assange’s continued deprivation of liberty is a bail violation in the UK, which is, objectively, a minor offense that cannot post facto justify the more than 6 years confinement that he has been subjected to since he sought asylum in the Embassy of Ecuador.”

“Mr. Assange should be able to exercise his right to freedom of movement in an unhindered manner, in accordance with the human rights conventions the UK has ratified,” the experts added.