Sunday, December 14, 2014

Failed Rescue by Navy Seals Shows US Gov.'s Inhumanity

The "failed" attempt by US Navy Seals to rescue photojournalist Luke Somers and South African aid worker Pierre Korkie from Yemeni terrorists is more than just a tragedy.

It's an outrage -- especially considering that the South African aid group Korkie worked for, Gift of the Givers, was just a couple days away from securing his release. Additionally, considering the fact that the US government has been known to lie, there is no way to verify that Somers and Korkie were actually killed by retreating al-Qaeda forces, or whether they were killed by the 'friendly' fire of the US Navy Seals.

Slain US photojournalist Luke Somers. [Photo source: / AP]

Don't be surprised. The US government has been known to lie - just last week they were caught lying about information they extracted from 9/11 mastermind [sic] Khalid Sheikh Mohammad through torture.

The irony is that I am helping to fund these violent self realizing prophecies to create more extremists rather than promoting peaceful solutions. We are paying for the salaries and capital of these killing machines, i.e. elite forces of SEALS and Joint Special Operations Command units.

Rather than pay the ransom and return these people home, the US holds onto the inhumane and ruthless no ransom policy, where they refuse to fund the release of hostages, claiming that there would be more citizens taken hostage if it agreed to pay ransom to kidnappers, yet not backing it up with an evidence.

But what if Luke Somers, James Foley or Steven Sotloff was your son? How much would you be willing to pay to return them home safely?

Yet, could it be true that the US government does not value the life of journalists, especially the ones like Foley , Sotloff or Somers, who had travel to countries in which the US has had an active role in destabilizing?

Slain US photojournalist Steven Sotloff / Photo source:

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Support Buy Nothing Day - Black Friday at Walmart

While the masses rush to get the best consumer deals this Black Friday, stand in solidarity with the workers at Walmart who are fighting to get better pay and working conditions by attending a Black Friday protest at your local Walmart.

Lubbock, Texas, a city with a population of approximately 288,800 people has four Walmart Supercenters. But there is another way! Attend a local protest in Lubbock, Texas and help educate people that there are alternatives, and that buying from Walmart will only increase the cycle of poverty locally and globally.

Black Friday protests are being organizing nationally by OUR Walmart, which is a campaign organized by Walmart workers, community groups, and the United Food & Commercial Workers.  

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Torture Against Maine Inmate - Disturbing Raw Footage! Warning!

The use of premeditated torture on an inmate in a US prison in Maine reportedly carried out by Captain Shawn Welsh and his crew. This cruel and unusual punishment goes against the 8th Amendment to the US Constitution and the United Nations' Universal Declaration on Human Rights

Some people feel that torture against an inmate is justifiable, however these people are sociopaths and society needs to be protected from people who think this way. The entire system of justice in the US is corrupt and needs reform. Our prisons do not correct people, but rather use and abuse them as cheap labor and continue to break the human spirit. We need to abolish this corrupt system and replace it with true rehabilitation if we want to heal as a society. 

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Ebola – your questions, our answers

Doctors Without Borders/Medecins Sans Frontieres counters the media scare about the Ebola epidemic coming to the United States as they continue their humanitarian work to curb and defeat this disease:

Dear Friends,

We are hearing many kind words of encouragement from our supporters, as well as some questions and concerns. I would like to address these concerns, and also update you on our safety protocols and our current work to contain Ebola in West Africa. 

As you likely know, Dr. Craig Spencer, a physician from New York who spent over a month treating patients in our Ebola project in Guekedou, Guinea, was diagnosed with Ebola on Thursday. He is currently receiving care at Bellevue Hospital in New York City.  Although MSF is not in charge of his medical treatment, we are monitoring his progress, and hoping for his full recovery. 

Prior to developing Ebola, Dr. Spencer used public transportation in New York City and visited several locations. This activity has been treated by some media and viewed by many people as irresponsible. Both MSF and Dr. Spencer have been criticized for putting New Yorkers at risk. For the thirty years we have been managing Ebola outbreaks, we have found our protocols effective at preventing the spread of the disease back to the homelands of our volunteers. In Dr. Spencer’s case, he followed MSF’s strict safety protocols and was placed in isolation before he was  contagious. Dr. Spencer is a highly experienced medical professional who knows Ebola well. He would not put others at risk for a disease that he had just watched ravage his patients.

Ebola is frightening, but much more help is needed on the ground to stop this outbreak. Unnecessarily punishing healthy aid workers with mandatory quarantineupon their return home does not serve the public interest, but does make the commitment to go to West Africa more difficult for those who are willing and able to help. Combatting the disease at its source is the only way to curb this outbreak and prevent from spreading worldwide. MSF protocols governing returned health workers are driven by science and based upon the guidelines of international health agencies, notably the World Health Organization (WHO), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Diligent health monitoring of returnees from Ebola-affected countries is preferable to coercive isolation of asymptomatic individuals, as happened recently to one of our returning staff, Kaci Hickox.

The medical facts about how the Ebola virus is transmitted are validated by our own experience in the field and Ebola scientists around the world.  Before an infected person is symptomatic, their viral load is too low for them to pass on the disease.  Of the more than 700 international staff members who have worked in our Ebola projects during this outbreak, Dr. Spencer is the first, and thus far the only one who has shown symptoms after returning home.  

As of October 23, MSF is operating six Ebola case management centers across Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, and providing some 600 beds in isolation, more than any other organization is today.  Since the beginning of the outbreak in March 2014, MSF has admitted more than 4,900 patients to its treatment centers. Around 3,200 were confirmed as having Ebola and 1,140 Ebola patients have survived. 

We ask you to stand by us as we call for a rational approach to handling the return home of medical staff from all organizations who volunteer to fight Ebola. Please read our Q&A to answer some of your questions about how we respond to Ebola outbreaks and the current situation in West Africa.

Also, please join us on Thursday, November 13 at 8:00PM EST for a webcast about the Ebola crisis and our response, featuring MSF leadership and field workers recently returned from West Africa. You will have the opportunity to ask your questions directly to our staff and panelists via an interactive chat feature. You can register here:

Thank you again, sincerely, for your support.  

Sophie Delaunay, Executive Director, MSF-USA

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Revictimization Relief Act Targeting Mumia Abu Jamal to Take Away 1st Amendment Rights from Prisoners & their Supporters

Adapted from the International Action Center campaign.

Last week the Pennsylvania Legislature fast-tracked the "Revictimization Relief Act" to give virtually unlimited discretion to District Attorneys and the PA Attorney General to silence prisoner speech by claiming such speech causes victims' families "mental anguish." The act targets both prisoners' speech and supporters who distribute the speech.

PA Sen. Daylin Leach (D., Montogomery) called this law "the most extreme violation of the First Amendment imaginable." In seeking to silence the legally protected speech of prisoners the state also damages the public's right and freedom to know, at a time when more attention is being focused on mass incarceration and police brutality. It is an attack on a freedom that must be guarded especially when and if officials do not agree with the content pf the speech they hear. 

Protest PA Gov. Tom Corbett bill signing
 Tues., Oct. 21   @ 12 Noon
at 13th & Locust in Philadelphia
Join the Campaign Wed., Oct 22 for
our press conference at Local 1199C
at 1319 Locust, Phila. at noon & again
at 5:30 pm for a town hall meeting.

This legislation emerged as a politically-charged response, on the part of the Fraternal Order of Police and its political allies, when they were unable to stop PA prisoner and radio journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal from delivering his October 5 commencement address at Goddard College in Vermont, where Abu-Jamal earned his BA in 1996 while on death row. Students at Goddard collectively chose Abu-Jamal as their commencement speaker and the college administration supported the invitation. In this case, this law would deny the school the right to hear from its alumnus, Abu-Jamal. 

Monday, October 6, 2014

Facussé's Private Security Terrorizes Campesinos in La Panama, Aguán Valley, Honduras

Our human rights delegation visited with the Movimiento Refundacional Campesino de Gregorio Chavez in the small village of La Panama during our August 2013 trip to Honduras.

The community asked us to accompany them to de finco Paso Aguán, a huge African palm plantation owned by the land tycoon Migel Facussé's and where campesino Gregorio Chavez was found murdered.

We did not cross the barbed wire fences of Facussé's property, but below you can see footage of his private security guards wielding huge guns and a wearing face covering.

It was a terrifying moment but we kept the camera rolling. Four months prior, in April, Facussé's guards or possibly the Honduran military had shot at people occupying the church.

The bullet holes are still visible in the church's walls.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Stop Harassment of Guatamalan Victims in Hudbay/CGN Criminal and Civil Lawsuits

The following was sent by Rights Action to Hudbay Minerals and CGN (Compania Guatemalteca de Niquel) on behalf of victims, plaintiffs, and witnesses in the El Estor region of Guatemala who are participating in the lawsuits and a criminal case against the companies and Mynor Padilla, former head of security of Hudbay/CGN.  

On the fifth anniversary of the murder of Adolfo Ich, the shooting-paralyzing of German Chub and the wounding of at least seven other Mayan Qeqchi men by armed security guards working for Hudbay Minerals and CGN, we - the undersigned individuals and organizations - write to insist that your companies – separately and/or together - stop the harassment in Guatemala concerning the nickel mining related criminal and civil lawsuits.

German with his parents, wife and son, 2012. [Photo Credit: Grahame Russell]

We write you with our informed concerns about ongoing harassment of community members connected to criminal and civil lawsuits against your companies. Many of us have spent time in El Estor, Izabal and neighbouring communities to meet with mining-affected community members.

We write you to demand that you take all steps necessary to ensure that no one related to Hudbay or CGN, in any way, is harassing or pressuring the Mayan Q’eqchi’ victims/ plaintiffs/ witnesses, and their family and community members in the El Estor region, from participating in the lawsuits in Canada and Guatemala.

Our Concerns in Detail
On July 22, 2014, a Guatemalan Judge ruled that Mynor Padilla - former Army Colonel and former head of security for Hudbay Minerals/CGN – could not get out of jail on bail.  Padilla’s lawyers had petitioned for his release pending his criminal trial for the murder of Adolfo Ich, the shooting-paralyzing of German Chub, and the shooting-injuring of seven other people.

We the undersigned believe this was the proper legal decision to what had likely been an improper petition on behalf of Padilla’s lawyers to have him released from jail.

On August 11, 2014, two people showed up uninvited at the tiny home of German Chub, along a muddy track, on the edge of the town of El Estor.  The pair said they were there on behalf of Mynor Padilla and asked if German would meet with the lawyers of Padilla to discuss ‘what it would take’ for German to stop participating in the Guatemalan criminal trial, as a victim-witness, and to stop participating in the precedent setting “Hudbay Minerals/CGN” lawsuits in Canada as a plaintiff-victim.

On August 16, 2014, two different people showed up again uninvited at German’s home, to continue with the same message on behalf of Mynor Padilla.

These are not the first times that German has received what, in Guatemala, are threatening and highly inappropriate visits from people representing your former employee Mynor Padilla.

On March 28, 2014, a man and woman came to German’s home, telling him they were there on behalf of the lawyers for Mynor Padilla.  They urged German to drop the lawsuits in Guatemala and Canada, stating that Mynor Padilla was willing to offer him Q11,000,000 to do so.  On March 29, 2014, other local people phoned German’s brother and told him to bring German to a meeting.  That night, they met in a home in El Estor with people who apparently had employment with CGN.  They repeated the same offer of money from Mynor Padilla in exchange for abandoning the legal actions in Guatemala and Canada, but were more aggressive in their manner.

None of above referenced “offers” has ever been put in writing.  None of the people who arrived uninvited to German’s home ever presented themselves by name or left contact information.  No one else was present at these exchanges, beyond German and some family members.  Offering or attempting to pay a complainant to withdraw accusations in a criminal lawsuit is a criminal offence both in Canada and in Guatemala.

In April and August, 2014, Rights Action twice sent letters to you (Hudbay Minerals and CGN) to denounce these threatening visits, and asked you to take all measures to ensure that your companies have nothing to do, directly or indirectly, with these visits.  Rights Action heard nothing back.  In August 2014, Dr. Catherine Nolin sent a similar letter to you and has not received a reply.

The Lawsuits
In Guatemala, there is a long-delayed but on-going criminal case against Mynor Padilla, former head of security of Hudbay/CGN (owned by Hudbay 2008-2011), for the murder of Adolfo Ich on September 27, 2009, the shooting-paralyzing of German Chub that same day, and the shooting-wounding of other local men that same day.

In Canada, there are three over-lapping civil lawsuits against Hudbay and CGN (the “Hudbay Lawsuits/CGN”) for the killing of Adolfo Ich, the shooting-paralyzing of German Chub, and the 2007 gang-rapes of 11 women from the village of Lote 8.

Moreover, CGN is embroiled in another legal investigation related to the suspected murder of three Guatemalan university students, in early 2012, on CGN property, by people allegedly employed by CGN at that time.  The students were participating in a formal University del Valle de Guatemala - CGN biology exchange program that had been going on for years, including when Hudbay owned CGN.  While this suspected murder of the three students occurred after Hudbay had sold CGN to a Cyprus-based company, many of the CGN employees – management and employees – were the same as when Hudbay was the owner and in control.

Why Threatening?  Who Is Mynor Padilla?
German Chub feels threatened by these repetitive, uninvited visits.  Long before the violent events of September 27, 2009, Mynor Padilla was well known in the region as a former Colonel in the Guatemalan Army, and as head of security for Hudbay/CGN.  In the context of historical and on-going militarism and repression, racism and impunity in Guatemala, Padilla has been known and feared as a powerful man in the El Estor region.  When people arrive uninvited at your home, saying they represent Mynor Padilla, no one in the El Estor region – let alone, an impoverished, physically very vulnerable and indigenous man like German – can ignore the implicit threat.

On-going Relationship Between Mynor Padilla and Hudbay Minerals/CGN?
It is possible that Hudbay and/or CGN continue to maintain direct or indirect connections to Mynor Padilla.  Padilla remained on the Hudbay/CGN payroll for at least three years after the September 27, 2009, repression and violence, even as he was in violation of the law, avoiding arrest for the criminal charges.  It is rumoured Padilla has remained on the CGN payroll since September 2012.

Moreover, some of Padilla’s lawyers have represented CGN and worked for Hudbay.  Carlos Rafael Pellecer Lopez represented both Padilla and CGN in Guatemala, and was a witness of Hudbay and CGN in the civil lawsuits in Canada.

Patterns of Pressuring and Harassing the Victims/ Witnesses/ Plaintiffs
This is not the first time inappropriate pressures have been brought to bear on victims-plaintiffs in the Hudbay/CGN Lawsuits.  On August 21, 2013, Rights Action sent a letter to Hudbay and CGN, denouncing similar harassing communications and pressures against the women plaintiffs from Lote 8.  In November 2013 and March 2014, Klippensteins Barristers and Solicitors sent letters to various offices of the Guatemalan government, addressing these issues related to their clients, the women of Lote 8.  There has been no response from Hudbay and CGN to Rights Action’s letter.

Precarious Health
It is close to 5 years since the shooting of German left him close to death, paralyzed from the chest down.  He lost the use of one of his lungs; the bullet remains lodged precariously close to his spinal column.  Since September 27, 2009, when he was shot by Mynor Padilla, then head of security for Hudbay/CGN, German has suffered on-going pain and extreme vulnerability, all the while trying to re-build his impoverished life.

German has not received any financial support or compensation, neither from Hudbay, CGN nor the Guatemalan or Canadian governments.  We believe that Rights Action, with funds from North American donors, is the only organization to provide German with on-going relief funds to address some of his most pressing short-term health needs.

Even as he was receiving the harassing visits on August 11 and 16, German was extremely sick; he remains in unstable conditions and needs more x-rays to determine if the bullet lodged near his spinal column, has moved, and he needs x-rays of his remaining healthy lung to see if there is infection.

Holding Hudbay and CGN Responsible
While there is no doubt in our minds that Hudbay and CGN should be held accountable for the harms and violations they caused (some of which are being dealt with in the criminal and civil lawsuits), and that reparations should be paid to German and the others who suffered the harms and violations, we understand that Hudbay and CGN have the right to defend themselves in court.

However, Hudbay and CGN have the responsibility to ensure that no one directly or indirectly associated with their companies is, in any way, pressuring or otherwise interfering in any way against any people, plaintiffs or otherwise, involved in the Guatemalan and Canadian lawsuits.

Questions for Hudbay

  • Do either of your companies have any knowledge of, or role in the efforts by Mynor Padilla to pressure any of the victims/ witnesses/ plaintiffs to stop their participation in the criminal trial or the civil 
  • Is Mynor Padilla still on CGN’s payroll and is CGN and/or Hudbay paying for Padilla’s legal fees in his criminal trial in Guatemala?

We hold Hudbay and CGN accountable to take steps necessary to prevent any undue interference, tampering, or direct or indirect harassment or repression against German Chub and all victims/ witnesses/ plaintiffs, and their family and community members, in the civil lawsuits in Canada and the criminal lawsuit in Guatemala.