Tuesday, January 30, 2007

The Carnival's in Town

My post on Aporo, Te Ua Haumene and Maori resistance to colonisation is part of the latest Carnival of Socialism being hosted by Britain's Stroppyblog. The theme of this carnival is 'The Politics of Liberation', and Stroppy has brought together material on the Celebrity Big Brother controversy, the sex lives of female bloggers (Muzzlehatch is off!), the difficulties of working as a disabilities officer amongst British students, and much more.

I recommend a post called 'The Five Hundred Year Siege' by musician and activist David Rovis, who works with Navajo Indians fighting to protect their ancestral lands from exploitation by giant mining companies. Rovis reminds us that what we condemn in Iraq has been going on for a very long time in remote parts of the United States:

Until 1974, the Black Mesa area was the home of one of the last remaining intact communities of 20,000 or so people living traditionally, speaking mainly Navajo, living as sheep herders, in community, as they had for centuries. But then Peabody decided they wanted to expand their mine and people like Senator John McCain wanted to do their best to make sure this could happen. This meant moving 20,000 people off their land, some at a time, by making their lives impossible if they tried to stay...

The government is just barely too tactful to forcibly remove thousands of Indians from their land in the modern era, so they have employed various other methods. Very much along the lines of the sanctions imposed on Iraq during the 1990’s. Starve them into submission. Make their lives unliveable. Take away their water. Make sure they have to drive dozens of miles down unmaintained roads in order to get water for their sheep. Impound their sheep and make them pay to get them back. Fine them for making repairs on the roofs of their hogans. Fine them for collecting firewood.

Most ultimately moved. Many were sent to live on land that was made radioactive by the Church Rock uranium spill. Their sheep died from drinking the water, and many of the people died soon thereafter. After losing their community, living increasingly isolated lives made miserable by constant harassment by the authorities, some 17 families still refuse to leave their dusty land...

As in Palestine or Colombia, the mostly white supporters are able to be useful largely just because they’re white. The corrupt tribal authorities know who butters their bread, just as Israel or the government of Colombia do. Just being there and being white doesn’t stop the general trends, but it can effectively prevent the authorities from harassing the grandmothers for another day. Also, the fundamental racism of the reservation system is such that the tribal authorities are not allowed to arrest non-native people – the most they can do is escort them off of the reservation.

Read it all here.

It is good to see a left blog looking at wider issues, ones that don't get as much attention as they deserve. Stroppyblog has put together a thoughtful Carnival of Socialism - the post that I found most interesting and at the same time disturbing (for the amount of pain and suffering humans can inflict on each other and the political situation created in Iraq - in which we in the west, and especially the American and British governments, are complicit in) is the link to the Iraqi LGBT website. The situation in Iraq for gay and lesbian Iraqis is getting worse with reports of serious human rights violations and killings. Peter Tatchell, a gay and human rights activist, wrote about the sexual cleansing occuring in Iraq for the New Humanist, you can read his full article here

Some personal stories of victims in Iraq:

'Fourteen-year-old Ahmed Khalil was accused of corrupting the community because he had sex with men. According to his Baghdad neighbour, in April 2006 four men in police uniforms arrived at Ahmed’s house in a four-wheel-drive police pick-up truck. They wore the distinctive facemasks of the Badr militia. The neighbour saw the police drag Ahmed out of the house and shoot him at point-blank range, pumping two bullets into his head and several more bullets into the rest of his body.

Wathiq, aged 29, a gay architect, was kidnapped in Baghdad last March. Soon afterwards, the Badr militia sent his parents death threats, accusing them of allowing their son to lead a gay life and demanding a £11,000 ransom. The parents paid the money, thinking it would save Wathiq’s life. But he was found dead a few days later, with his body mutilated and his head cut off.

Wissam Auda was a member of Iraq’s Olympic tennis team. His dream was to play in the Wimbledon championship in London this year. He had been receiving death threats from religious fanatics on account of his homosexuality. On 25 May 2006, his vehicle was ambushed by fundamentalist militias in the al-Saidiya district of Baghdad. Wissam, together with his coach Hussein Ahmed Rashid and teammate Nasser Ali Hatem, were all summarily executed in the street. Their crime? Wissam’s homosexuality was probably what drew him to the attention of the militia’s, but his official crime was: wearing shorts. An Iraqi National Guard checkpoint was about 100m from the site of the ambush, but the soldiers did nothing, according to eye-witnesses.

The father of 23-year-old Baghdad arts student, Karzan, has been told by militias that his son has been sentenced to death for being gay. If his father refuses to hand over Karzan for execution, the militia has threatened to kill the family one by one. This has already happened to Bashar, 34, an actor. Because his parents refuse to reveal his hiding place, the Badr militia murdered two of his family members in retribution.

Nyaz is a 28-year old dentist who lives in Baghdad. She is terrified that her lesbian relationship will be discovered, and that both she and her partner will be killed. They have stopped seeing each other. It is too dangerous. To make matters worse, Nyaz is being forced by the fundamentalist Mahdi militia to marry an older, senior Mullah with close ties the Mahdi leader, Muqtada al-Sadr. If she does not agree to the marriage, or tries to run away, Nyaz and her family will be targeted for ‘honour killing’ by Sadr’s men. '

Doug Ireland , ( 'a longtime radical political journalist and media critic, who considers himself a purveyor of what the great I.F. Stone (at whose feet Doug sat as a lad) called "investigative opinion." Even those with whom Doug has profound disagreements respect him--like Christopher Hitchens, who wrote (in the May, 2004 Vanity Fair) that Doug "is one of the country’s toughest and brightest radical columnists."'), has more articles and comment on his blog on the situation for LGBT in Iraq:

'Life for gay and lesbian citizens in war-torn Iraq has become grave and is getting worse every day. While President Bush hails a new, “democratic” society, thousands of civilians are dying in a low-level civil war—and gays are being targeted just for being gay. The Badr Corps—the military arm of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI for short), the country’s most powerful Shiite political group—has launched a campaign of “sexual cleansing,” marshaling death squads to exterminate homosexuality.'
.... read more here


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