Sunday, August 24, 2014

Longest Blockade of Israeli Ship in History ZIM ship turned away from SSA in Oakland

By Eyad Kay

For four days straight the San Francisco Bay Area community blocked the Israeli ZIM ship from unloading at the SSA. The rank and file workers of ILWU local 10 also stood against Israeli Apartheid by honoring the pickets and letting the ship go from the SSA terminal from Saturday August 16 until Tuesday.

Photo taken from Block the Boat for Gaza‎

On Saturday, thousands of community members showed the world that Oakland does not welcome racism, apartheid or Zionism, from Ferguson to Palestine. People flooded the streets and marched towards the Port only to discover that the ZIM ship decided to stay at Sea rather than dock and be confronted by the power of numbers. The ship attempted to dock and unload on Sunday, but within a half hour’s time hundreds of people organized community pickets requesting that workers to stand with us on the side of justice and not unload the Apartheid ship. And as ILWU rank and file always have, and as they did during South African Apartheid, they demonstrated their solidarity with the global fight against oppression and honored the community picket. The following Monday and Tuesday saw both an organized call to action as well as autonomous protests determined to keep the ship from being unloaded. These efforts coupled with worker solidarity continued the success of the weekend’s total blockade of the ZIM ship.

On Tuesday the people declared a historic victory for Palestine as Oakland held down the longest blockade of an Israeli ship. Not only did they block the boat, but they also showed the world that racist exclusionary state of Apartheid Israel has no place in the Oakland port, and will soon find that it has no place on any port on the West Coast. After being blocked from unloading at the SSA Terminal, the ZIM ship was forced to leave and unload at another Terminal where it was met with protests by autonomous activists. This even further delayed the unloading of the ship.

From the use of tear gas to the training of police by Israeli military, Oakland feels firsthand the brutality of Israeli war-making. And Palestine knows too well the role the US plays in facilitating the ongoing ethnic cleansing of the indigenous Palestinian people. From the policing and militarization of our local communities perfected with Israeli tactics of repression to the billions that the US provides Apartheid Israel, the connections are clear and are made for us. And over the last four days the people showed the world that we stand shoulder to shoulder from Palestine to Oakland to Ferguson as we struggle bring down every wall, every Apartheid system and every racist state.

Palestine will be free.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Iranian Cheetah Goes to 2014 World Cup

Iran's national soccer team will dash to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil with the Asiatic cheetah, the symbol of strength and perseverance, represented on its jerseys. Just as the odds are stacked up against both the team and the cheetah, neither of them is going to give up without a fight, as it is estimated that only 50 Asiatic cheetahs remain in the wild.

Credit: Official FIFA Online Store 2014

The story of Iran's cheetah and the vital efforts of conservationists to save it is an example of collaboration at all levels of local, national and international stakeholders. With the National Football Federation of Iran now joining in the conservation efforts, more attention will be given by the mainstream media about the plight of the Asian cheetah.

The rise in international diplomacy is also likely to contribute to sustained conservation efforts for wildlife within Iran's borders. On a recent trip to Iran, FIFA president Joseph Sepp Blatter mentioned in a tweet, "Met Iran VP Masoumeh Ebtekar. I learnt how the Iranian Cheetah is endangered species and will be new symbol of national team, raising awareness."

Soccer fans can help contribute with a purchase of the Iranian national team soccer jersey. One euro from each jersey that is sold will be donated to Conservation of the Asiatic Cheetah Project to help with conservation efforts.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Honduras Delegation - The Struggle for Democracy, Human Rights, & the Environment

On August 10, 2013 a delegation arrived in the capital Tegucigalpa from the USA and Canada to embark on a journey that documents the human rights crisis in Honduras. Dozens of people shared their stories of resistencia (resistance) for human, land and environmental rights against a repressive regime that currently reigns over the country following the 2009 military coup d'etat. 

Below is the first set of a series of documentary footage from our journey:

Among the many people we visited, who are resisting repression and brutality by the current ruling Nationalist Party, included:
  • Indigenous Lenca activists who are defending their native land in Rio Blanco from a hydro-electric dam project; 
  • Garifuna communities, descendants of escaped African slaves, living along the coasts of Triunfo de la Cruz and San Juan whose land is being usurped in order to build resort hotels; 
  • Campesinos in La Panama in the Aguan Valley who have been terrorized by and are seeking justice for the brutal murder of Gregorio Chavez from multi-million dollar land baron Miguel Facusse; 
  • A worker led community cooperative named MUCA (united campensino movement) who are fighting to keep from being evicted from their land; 
  • Political prisoner Isabel "Chavelo" Morales being held in La Ceiba prison; 
  • Displaced communities in Nueva Esperanza who are being repressed by iron oxide mining interests; and others in the struggle for human rights and justice.

The first stop after arriving in the capital was the small, rural community of Siria Valley which has been torn apart and lives destroyed due to the mining operations of a Canadian-based gold company named Goldcorp. "For [the] mining company to come and for their vision of wealth and money, we lost a community," says Roberto, who lost his daughter due to environmental contamination of the water and who has also suffered health impacts due to the mining operations.

"At first, we had the problem that was psychological which was caused because we were evicted from that area where we had lived. And then after, another impact was the issue where the company dug a well for human consumption of the water, which was later found to be contaminated with arsenic and caused a lot of problems in the community," says Roberto.

Currently, the Honduran people are struggling to etch out a democracy following the most recent elections on November 24, 2013. However, signs do not seem hopeful and the ruling National Party refuses to relinquish power by any means necessary. For the most current information on the election results visit Rights Action.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Black Friday Protest in Solidarity with Walmart workers in Lubbock

While Walmart keeps its wages low, and its workers are dependent on government assistance, guess who has to foot the bill? The hypocrisy is that while conservatives complain about federal government spending, yet at the same time don't support living wages for dead-end jobs, this means that the federal government must spend more to support those who can't afford health care or who depend on food stamps.

And these corporations are raking in billions, while they sell us useless items made by sweat shop labor and make us obese with their industrialized, fatty foods. One solution is to avoid these mega-super stores like Walmart or McDonald's, to name a few, and to support your local economy by shopping at local retailers.

Lubbock Texas, a city of less than 250,000 people, has four Walmart superstores, with an additional two others in nearby  towns. This attests to the level of poverty and gentrification that exists in this small, university town.

Just three people showed up at the Walmart on 4th and Avenue Q on Friday, November 29 in solidarity with OUR Walmart Black Friday actions across the nation. However, in a city this small, three people can actually make a difference!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Context of Violence and Human Rights Abuses in Honduras

By: Karen Spring

Honduras has maintained a two party political system for decades. However, in the wake of the June 28, 2009 military coup a strong new political force emerged, the National Front for Popular Resistance (FNRP) which sought to oppose the coup through peaceful means. After overthrown president Manuel Zelaya returned to Honduras, the decision to participate in the 2013 General Elections was taken by the resistance movement and the FNRP, and the first major third political party in the modern history of Honduras was created: the Libertad y Refundación (Freedom and Refoundation) party, or LIBRE.

Including LIBRE candidate Xiomara Castro de Zelaya, there are eight presidential candidates participating in the November elections involving nine political parties, as one, new, non-traditional party formed an alliance with the existing Unión Democrática (UD) party.

Though President Porfirio Lobo’s post-coup regime has been promoted internationally as a government of ‘Unity and National Reconciliation’, it includes none of the key actors who were forcibly removed from power during the 2009 coup. The Canadian and United States government as well as the European Union have stood behind the false projection of reconciliation and unity projected by the Honduran government.

Lobo’s term in office has been marked by unprecedented levels of violence: Honduras today has one of the highest homicide rates in the world coupled with a high impunity rate. The Lobo government’s efforts to persuade the international community that the government is taking effective action against the country’s rampant violence - as Honduran Vice President María Antonieta Guillén attempted to do at the UN Assembly on September 27, 2013 - has been followed by continued massacres and killings in Honduran streets and the on-going systematic targeting of political opponents and social activists.

Since the 2009 coup, international human rights organizations including the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights, the UN Human Rights Commission, and the Committee to Protect Journalists, have noted gross human rights abuses particularly targeting certain sectors of Honduran society – lawyers, journalists, human rights defenders, and opponents of the current post-coup military regime.

The 2013 General Elections will occur in a historical and on-going context of gross human rights abuses committed by the current government and the 5-month de facto government of Roberto Micheletti that preceded it, June – November 2009. A lot weighs on the results of the General Elections, whether it’s the US Government and OAS hoping for a seemingly clean, democratic and reliable election, or the sympathizers of the LIBRE party, hoping for a transformation of Honduran society as per the promises and principles of the FNRP.

The coup and its repercussions over the last four years have polarized Honduran society. At odds are those hoping to change the status quo and reject the interests behind the 2009 coup – largely the FNRP and the political party that grew from that movement, the LIBRE party - and those that perpetrated and/or supported the coup and hope to maintain the status quo - largely business elites, the two traditional political parties (the National and Liberal Parties) and its allies.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Health Emergency in Siria Valley, Honduras

A public health emergency has been declared in Siria Valley, Honduras by its local environmental committee, despite repeated attempts by the community and human rights organizations for the public prosecutor to help. 

Our human rights delegation visited the small farming communities of El Pedernal and Palo Ralo on August 12, 2013. Once a major supplier of food staples such as beans, milk, meat and other products, this community has been devastated by the mining operations of Goldcorp, a Canadian-based gold mining company.

Although mining operations of the San Martin mine began around 2000 and ended in 2008, the community continues to suffer from the environmental impacts caused by the toxic chemicals used in the mining process. These health impacts include skin rashes, discoloration, lesions, hair loss, gastrointestinal disorders, and tumors, and are most likely caused by water contaminated with heavy metals such as mercury, lead and arsenic.

To add insult to injury, Goldcorp had the audacity to construct an ¨eco-tourism¨ park on contaminated land, which offers a tour of the mine, a tilapia fish farm, and corralled white tailed deer.

The community was not consulted and 13 families were displaced by the construction of this mine. The Siria Valley Environmental Committee submitted the following demands to the Office of the Public Prosecutor and have yet to receive a reply:

1. Declare a public health emergency in the valley
2. Re-do the blood and urine tests by the government
3. Compensate the victims suffering with health impacts
4. Locate the source of the contamination

Friday, November 1, 2013

Letter to my Congress-members Urging them to Support Diplomacy and Oppose Extremism

Dear Representatives and Senators,

Efforts to end the nuclear standoff with Iran is being thwarted by powerful extremists in our country including some of your colleagues in Congress. I am asking that you stand up for diplomacy instead of for war and sanctions!

Casino mogul Sheldon Adelson has made it clear that he will do all in his power to push for war and support hateful, dehumanizing ideology in public.

Billionair Sheldon Adelson - the face of hate! [photo credit:]

The choice that you have is clear: continue to support more sanctions and the military industrial complex, dimming the future for new generations, or will you support democracy and peace?

At the same time, nuclear negotiations must be in good faith and not include threatening behavior by anyone representing a political party, by any new sanctions, or by an unrealistic demand requiring a zero-enrichment policy.

Iraq and Syria are fresh on people's minds. Recent polls indicate that 76% of Americans - including majorities in both parties - support direct diplomacy with Iran to resolve the nuclear issue. The American public is tired of war with no end. I implore you to have the courage to stand up against these war mongers and keep another war from happening.

I await your decision and I look forward to see where you stand.