Tag Archives: Freedom

WHY I REJECT WESTERN COURTS AND JUSTICE, by Andre Vltchek

There is a small courthouse from the ‘British era’, standing right in the center of Hong Kong. It is neat, well-built, remarkably organized and some would even say – elegant.

Earlier this year I visited there with an Afghan-British lawyer, who had been touring East Asia for several months. Hong Kong was her last destination; afterwards she was planning to return home to London. The Orient clearly confused and overwhelmed her, and no matter how ‘anti-imperialist’ she tried to look, most of her references were clearly going back to the adoptive homeland – the United Kingdom.

“It looks like England,” she exclaimed when standing in the middle of Hong Kong. There was clearly excitement and nostalgia in her voice.

To cheer her up even more, I took her to the courthouse. My good intentions backfired: as we were leaving, she uttered words that I expected but also feared for quite some time:

“You know, there are actually many good things that can be said about the British legal system.”

*

I thought about that short episode in Hong Kong now, as I drove all around her devastated country of childhood, Afghanistan. As always, I worked without protection, with no bulletproof vests, armored vehicles or military escorts, just with my Afghan driver who doubled as my interpreter and also as my friend. It was Ramadan and to let him rest, I periodically got behind the wheel. We were facing countless detentions, arrests and interrogations by police, military and who knows what security forces, but we were moving forward, always forward, despite all obstacles.

From that great distance, from the heights of the mountains of Afghanistan, the courthouse in Hong Kong kept falling into proportion and meaningful perspective.

Continue reading WHY I REJECT WESTERN COURTS AND JUSTICE, by Andre Vltchek

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Conversation: The Wahhabi Chronicles, by Mohsin Siddiqui

I have been meaning to write about what it means to grow up in the Saudi Arabian Wahhabi model, what has held me back thus far is more about “Where do I begin?”

The beast is complex, pathological and has many facets to its manifestation in various areas of your life. It simply permeates every little part of your existence either willingly, subconsciously or via the guilt complex that it feeds on.

My intention here is not to proselytize nor is it to prescribe a remedy. Instead it is to share my experience with you.

I was born in the heydays of the oil boom in Saudi Arabia to expatriate parents from my native Pakistan. We lived happy – somewhat dysfunctional – lives as most would assume. We did better than our extended family and made sure we shared with those back home. My parents were average Sunni Muslims who observed prayers whenever they remembered – with the exception of Friday prayers that most Muslims religiously observe – and tried to generally stick to the ‘norms’ of the faith but nothing too strictly.

Life was good and we had plenty of good fortune that many did not have. My parents wanted us to study in English schools and paid handsomely for that ‘privilege’ in Saudi Arabia. At age 3 I was put on the conveyor belt of what we call the expatriate English educational system in Saudi Arabia. The school was owned and run by a Saudi prince and had relatively good standing in the community at the time. Our English teachers were predominantly British & Irish with a sprinkle of Americans and then a dominance of South Africans in the later years of schooling. An exception to this rule was of course the teachers who taught us Arabic, Quran and Islamic Studies; Mostly Egyptians and members of other Arab states.

I do not remember religion really playing a big role in my early life other than observing prayers when my father took me for prayers or when it was Ramadan and we fasted. As children we were eager to fast and show that we were adults, win school competitions by memorizing the Quran and other such “religious” observance. It was less dogma and more mimicking and following what others were doing in the community in general. Social policing is a common activity in Muslim communities; Your devotion to God is under constant check and invasion of your privacy a trivial matter.

The religious drive creeps in slowly, first it is keeping up image with the good neighbours and then it is trying to outdo them. Of course, all of this in the name of securing your heaven; For example If you memorize the Quran then your parents get a home in heaven. Prayers became more regular as we grew older and the school system pumped out more things to adhere to.

We had two classical Arabic classes and a Quaran class per day. We had to memorize verses, hadith (Prophets sayings) and other Islamic theology.  We also had a Quran teacher come at home to teach us how to recite the Quran. This is a common thing to do in the Muslim world and most families do this irrespective of their own religiousness.

What most people do not understand is that in a society like Saudi Arabia (or a predominantly Islamic community) it is quite normal to pray regularly, read the Quran, follow Islamic teachings and think nothing of it. It is a habit almost and you are kind of blind to the affect it is creating in you on the inside. There is little else for adults to do other than be pious. Pretty soon my mother also joined a Quran school to be more in tune with what she saw as her duty as a good Muslim. In Saudi Arabia, women have little option to do anything but basically be more religious. One could argue that men too have ultimately that as the only unrestricted avenue of ‘personal development’. Religion trumps everything.

Continue reading Conversation: The Wahhabi Chronicles, by Mohsin Siddiqui

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Conversation: Lock Up the Men, Evict the Women and Children, by Chris Hedges

source: Information Clearing House

Matthew Desmond’s book, “Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City,” like Barbara Ehrenreich’s “Nickel and Dimed,” is a heartbreaking snapshot of the rapacious exploitation and misery we inflict on the most vulnerable, especially children. It is a picture of a world where industries have been created to fleece the poor, and destroy neighborhoods and ultimately lives. It portrays a judicial system that has broken down, a dysfunctional social service system and the license in neoliberal America to carry out unchecked greed, no matter what the cost.

“Her face had that look,” Desmond wrote. “The movers and the deputies knew it well. It was the look of someone realizing that her family would be homeless in a matter of hours. It was something like denial giving way to the surrealism of the scene: the speed and the violence of it all; sheriffs leaning against your wall, hands resting on holsters; all these strangers, these sweating men, piling your things outside, drinking water from your sink poured into your cups, using your bathroom. It was the look of being undone by a wave of questions. What do I need for tonight, for this week? Who should I call? Where is the medication? Where will we go? It was the face of a mother who climbs out of the cellar to find the tornado has leveled the house.”

Being poor in America is one long emergency. You teeter on the edge of bankruptcy, homelessness and hunger. You endure cataclysmic levels of stress, harassment and anxiety and long bouts of depression. Rent strips you of half your income—one in four families spend 70 percent of their income on rent—until you and your children are evicted, often into homeless shelters or abandoned buildings, when you fall behind on payments. A financial crisis—a medical emergency, a reduction in hours at work or the loss of a job, funeral expenses or car repairs—can lead inexorably to an eviction. Creditors, payday lenders and collection agencies hound you. You are often forced to declare bankruptcy. You cope with endemic violence, gangs, drugs and a judicial system that permits brutal police abuse and ships you to jail, or slaps you with huge fines, for minor offenses. You live for weeks or months with no heat, water or electricity because you cannot pay the utility bills, especially since fuel and utility rates have risen by more than 50 percent since 2000. Single mothers and their children usually endure this hell alone, because the men in these communities are locked up. Millions of families are tossed into the street every year.

We have 5 percent of the world’s population and 25 percent of its prison population. More than 60 percent of the 2.2 million incarcerated are people of color. If these poor people were not locked in cages for decades, if they were not given probationary status once they were freed, if they had stable communities, there would be massive unrest in the streets. Mass incarceration, along with debt peonage, evictions, police violence and a judicial system that holds up property rights, rather than justice, as the highest good and that denies nearly all of the poor a trial, forcing them to accept plea bargains, is one of the many tools of corporate oppression.

Continue reading Conversation: Lock Up the Men, Evict the Women and Children, by Chris Hedges

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100 Years On…Still In The Trenches, by Finian Cunningham

Source: Information Clearing House

This year marks the 100th anniversary of two of the biggest military slaughters in history – the battles of the Somme and Verdun, both fought during the First World War. Shockingly, when we survey the warmongering mentality today of US-led NATO powers one may deduce that not much has changed fundamentally. We see the same murderous squander of human potential by an unaccountable elite.

During the Somme and Verdun campaigns, upwards of two million casualties were suffered on all sides by the British and French armies in trench warfare with their German enemy. The Somme was the deadliest battle of the entire war, pitched between July and November 1916, while Verdun was the longest running, from February until December in the same year.

For the British army the opening day of the Somme remains its worst day in martial history, incurring some 60,000 casualties and losses in a matter of hours.

The First World War, from 1914 to 1918, which was waged mainly on French territory and pitted major European powers, including Russia, against one another, resulted in a total death toll of 17 million, of which the majority – 11 million – were military.

It is astounding to think that only a mere 20 years later, an even more catastrophic world war would take place. The Second World War (1939-1945) resulted in at least 60 million dead. And in that carnage, it was civilians who would comprise the vast majority of the dead.

Both wars became emblematic of industrial-scale killing. Machine-guns, tanks, warplanes and warships were first deployed on a scale never seen before in the history of warfare.

However, it is the First World War perhaps that stands out as the more futile and barbaric. After all, during the Second World War, known as the Great Patriotic War in Russia, men and women courageously gave their lives to defeat a brutal, genocidal ideology of fascist imperialism espoused by the Axis Powers led by Nazi Germany.

Continue reading 100 Years On…Still In The Trenches, by Finian Cunningham

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The Cuban People Will Overcome, by Fidel Castro

Source: counterpunch

It constitutes a superhuman effort to lead any people in times of crisis. Without them, the changes would be impossible. In a meeting such as this, which brings together more than a thousand representatives chosen by the revolutionary people themselves, who delegated their authority to them, for all it represents the greatest honor they have received in their lives, to which is added the privilege of being a revolutionary which is the product of our own consciousness

Why did I become a socialist, or more plainly, why did I become a communist? That word that expresses the most distorted and maligned concept in history by those who have the privilege of exploiting the poor, dispossessed ever since they were deprived of all the material wealth that work, talent and human energy provide. Since when does man live in this dilemma, throughout time without limit. I know you do not need this explanation but perhaps some listeners do.

I speak simply so it is better understood that I am not ignorant, extremist, or blind, nor did I acquire my ideology of my own accord studying economics.

I did not have a tutor when I was a law and political sciences student, subjects in which they have a great influence. Of course then I was around 20 years old and was fond of sports and mountain climbing. Without a tutor to help me in the study of Marxism-Leninism; I was no more than a theorist and, of course, had total confidence in the Soviet Union. Lenin’s work violated after 70 years of Revolution. What a history lesson! It can be affirmed that it should not take another 70 years before another event like the Russian Revolution occurs, in order that humanity have another example of a magnificent social revolution that marked a huge step in the struggle against colonialism and its inseparable companion, imperialism.

Perhaps, however, the greatest danger hanging over the earth today derives from the destructive power of modern weaponry which could undermine the peace of the planet and make human life on earth’s surface impossible.

The species would disappear like the dinosaurs disappeared, perhaps there will be time for new forms of intelligent life or maybe the sun’s heat will grow until it melts all the planets of the solar system and its satellites, as a large number of scientists recognize. If the theories of several of them are true, which we laypeople are not unaware of, the practical man must learn more and adapt to reality. If the species survives a much longer space of time the future generations will know much more than we do, but first they will have to solve a huge problem. How to feed the billions of human beings whose realities are inevitably at odds with the limited drinking water and natural resources they need?

Some or perhaps many of you are wondering where are the politics in this speech. Believe me I am sad to say it, but the politics are here in these moderate words. If only numerous human beings would concern ourselves with these realities and not continue as in the times of Adam and Eve eating forbidden apples. Who will feed the thirsty people of Africa with no technology at their disposal, no rain, no reservoirs, no more underground aquifers than those covered by sands? We will see what the governments, which almost all signed the climate commitments, say.

We must constantly hammer away at these issues and I do not want to elaborate beyond the essentials.

I shall soon turn 90, such an idea would never have occurred to me and it was never the result of an effort, it was sheer chance. I will soon be like everyone else. We all reach our turn, but the ideas of the Cuban communists will remain as proof that on this planet, working with fervor and dignity, can produce the material and cultural wealth that humans need, and we must fight relentlessly to obtain these. To our brothers in Latin America and the world we must convey that the Cuban people will overcome.

This may be one of the last times that I speak in this room. I voted for all the candidates submitted for election by Congress and I appreciate the invitation and the honor of your listening to me. I congratulate you all, and firstly, compañero Raúl Castro for his magnificent effort.

We will set forth on the march forward and we will perfect what we should perfect, with the utmost loyalty and united force, just as Martí, Maceo and Gómez, in an unstoppable march.

Remarks by the leader of the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro Ruz, during the closing of the 7th Party Congress

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Trump and Clinton: Censoring the unpalatable, John Pilger

Source: RT

Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump ,Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton © Scott Audette, Javier Galeano / Reuters
Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump ,Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton © Scott Audette, Javier Galeano / Reuters

A virulent if familiar censorship is about to descend on the US election campaign. As the cartoon brute, Donald Trump, seems almost certain to win the Republican Party’s nomination, Hillary Clinton is being ordained both as the “women’s candidate” and the champion of American liberalism in its heroic struggle with the Evil One.

This is drivel, of course; Hillary Clinton leaves a trail of blood and suffering around the world and a clear record of exploitation and greed in her own country. To say so, however, is becoming intolerable in the land of free speech.

The 2008 presidential campaign of Barack Obama should have alerted even the most dewy-eyed. Obama based his “hope”campaign almost entirely on the fact of an African-American aspiring to lead the land of slavery. He was also “antiwar”.

Obama was never antiwar. On the contrary, like all American presidents, he was pro-war. He had voted for George W. Bush’s funding of the slaughter in Iraq and he was planning to escalate the invasion of Afghanistan. In the weeks before he took the presidential oath, he secretly approved an Israeli assault on Gaza, the massacre known as Operation Cast Lead. He promised to close the concentration camp at Guantanamo and did not. He pledged to help make the world “free from nuclear weapons” and did the opposite.

Continue reading Trump and Clinton: Censoring the unpalatable, John Pilger

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Conversation:The Spirit Of Aotearoa

Published on Jul 24, 2013 

Te RārangaTira is a kaupapa that brings together a diverse group of young Māori from across Aotearoa and Te Waipounamu that are committed to creating positive change for their whanau, hapu, iwi and wider community.

We have come together to explore a process that looks at what we are doing, why we are doing it and tap into our hearts, minds and wairua to build connections and unlock the potential that dwells within.

For more information check out

https://www.facebook.com/TeRarangaTira

Te RārangaTira is supported by The Enviroschools Foundation www.enviroschools.org.nz

Spoken Word piece written and performed by Te Kahu Rolleston

Shot and Edited by: Te Rawhitiroa Bosch www.rawhitiroa.com

Sound Captured by: Erana Walker

Raranga he tira Rangatira! Te RārangaTira e!

———————————————————————————-
Kia Ora,

New Zealand is not just rugby and shrimps on the barbie. Aotearoa, the Maori name for New Zealand, is the land of the people of this great country. The Maori people who have welcomed all of us immigrants.

Maori custom stands for human dignity, freedom and liberation of the mind ultimately. It is not about appointed overlords dictating ‘law’.

Te Kahu Rolleston embodies this spirit like none other as he works to lift the young men and women so that they may rise and claim their seat in their country.

Augmented Ether

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of Oceania Saker.

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Conversation: Raise the Voice

Translation courtesy of Lyricstranslate.com

Raise the voice

To) breathe to raise the voice
(To) take off as far as a swift eagle
To breathe a glorious future
Makes more sense if we do it together
(To) get rid of all coyness
(To) take the bull by the horns
To not fall to the oppressive
To walk straight, without fear
Breathe and raise the voice

My pockets are empty
Broken lips
Sored skin
Each time I glimpse at the void,
Worn shoe soles
Tied up hands
A sing on the front door
Always said it was closed.
A thorn stuck
An infected wound
An overwhelmed anger
In everything and nothing
A clumsy step on the edge, aimless,
Each time I lose sense of reality
I don’t have support
The time that hits
And stabs me
It kills me quickly
I cannot catch it with my hands
But I have my special place
Raise the voice
I’m not alone
I’m with myself

Continue reading Conversation: Raise the Voice

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Malcolm X Was Right About America, by Chris Hedges

Source: truthdig

Malcolm X about two weeks before he was murdered in 1965. AP/Victor Boynton
Malcolm X about two weeks before he was murdered in 1965. AP/Victor Boynton

NEW YORK—Malcolm X, unlike Martin Luther King Jr., did not believe America had a conscience. For him there was no great tension between the lofty ideals of the nation—which he said were a sham—and the failure to deliver justice to blacks. He, perhaps better than King, understood the inner workings of empire. He had no hope that those who managed empire would ever get in touch with their better selves to build a country free of exploitation and injustice. He argued that from the arrival of the first slave ship to the appearance of our vast archipelago of prisons and our squalid, urban internal colonies where the poor are trapped and abused, the American empire was unrelentingly hostile to those Frantz Fanon called “the wretched of the earth.” This, Malcolm knew, would not change until the empire was destroyed.

“It is impossible for capitalism to survive, primarily because the system of capitalism needs some blood to suck,” Malcolm said. “Capitalism used to be like an eagle, but now it’s more like a vulture. It used to be strong enough to go and suck anybody’s blood whether they were strong or not. But now it has become more cowardly, like the vulture, and it can only suck the blood of the helpless. As the nations of the world free themselves, then capitalism has less victims, less to suck, and it becomes weaker and weaker. It’s only a matter of time in my opinion before it will collapse completely.”

King was able to achieve a legal victory through the civil rights movement, portrayed in the new film “Selma.” But he failed to bring about economic justice and thwart the rapacious appetite of the war machine that he was acutely aware was responsible for empire’s abuse of the oppressed at home and abroad. And 50 years after Malcolm X was assassinated in the Audubon Ballroom in Harlem by hit men from the Nation of Islam, it is clear that he, not King, was right. We are the nation Malcolm knew us to be. Human beings can be redeemed. Empires cannot. Our refusal to face the truth about empire, our refusal to defy the multitudinous crimes and atrocities of empire, has brought about the nightmare Malcolm predicted. And as the Digital Age and our post-literate society implant a terrifying historical amnesia, these crimes are erased as swiftly as they are committed.

“Sometimes, I have dared to dream … that one day, history may even say that my voice—which disturbed the white man’s smugness, and his arrogance, and his complacency—that my voice helped to save America from a grave, possibly even fatal catastrophe,” Malcolm wrote.

The integration of elites of color, including Barack Obama, into the upper echelons of institutional and political structures has done nothing to blunt the predatory nature of empire. Identity and gender politics—we are about to be sold a woman president in the form of Hillary Clinton—have fostered, as Malcolm understood, fraud and theft by Wall Street, the evisceration of our civil liberties, the misery of an underclass in which half of all public school children live in poverty, the expansion of our imperial wars and the deep and perhaps fatal exploitation of the ecosystem. And until we heed Malcolm X, until we grapple with the truth about the self-destruction that lies at the heart of empire, the victims, at home and abroad, will mount. Malcolm, like James Baldwin, understood that only by facing the truth about who we are as members of an imperial power can people of color, along with whites, be liberated. This truth is bitter and painful. It requires an acknowledgment of our capacity for evil, injustice and exploitation, and it demands repentance. But we cling like giddy children to the lies we tell ourselves about ourselves. We refuse to grow up. And because of these lies, perpetrated across the cultural and political spectrum, liberation has not taken place. Empire devours us all.

Continue reading Malcolm X Was Right About America, by Chris Hedges

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Of Trade Deals & Commerce

 Earth, Solar System, Milky Way (Orion Arm), Local Group, Virgo Supercluster, Laniakea Supercluster, Universe
Our address ->Earth, Solar System, Milky Way (Orion Arm), Local Group, Virgo Supercluster, Laniakea Supercluster, Universe

Why do we need a deal?

Shouldn’t our focus be our domestic economy?
 
If we think we need the world to sustain us then we simply are denying reality. Your land is fertile enough to feed all. Your men and women are skillful enough to provide housing. They are skillful enough to give you medicine and education too.
 
So, really? You think we need some trade deal to improve our lives?
 
We are human beings. We are intelligent among the animal kingdom. Do you really think we need some “elected” officials to tell us how to live? what we get and what we dont? Who eats well and who does not? and on top of that tell us how long we live by denying us our rights under various dubious pretexts?
 
When did you decide to stop building society to the best of human potential and instead to build it to the best of human desire?
 
Really now? Is this man in the 21st century or is this a weak subdued human talking ?

 

Mohsin Siddiqui

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of Oceania Saker.

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