Archbishop Desmond Tutu Offers Solidarity with Marrickville Council

Since a delightful presentiment from Lee Rhiannon on last night’s Q&A, parts of Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s letter of support and solidarity to Marrickville Council have surfaced. The letter will be presented to Council tonight. Marrickville Council has the admirable fortitude to embrace human rights and justice for Palestinians.

Firstly on the Coalition for Justice & Peace in Palestine (CJPP):

“Sometimes taking a public stand for what is ethical and right brings costs, but social justice on a local or global scale requires faith and courage,” wrote Archbishop Tutu.

“I want to pay my respects to you and your fellow Councilors in Marrickville for taking a stand to isolate the Israeli state, and before that for offering practical solidarity to our sisters and brothers under occupation in the Holy City of Bethlehem.

“International Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions against the Apartheid regime, combined with the mass struggle inside South Africa, led to our victory.”.

Mayor Fiona Byrne and Councillors respond:

“I’m honoured to receive this endorsement from Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Archbishop Desmond Tutu,” Mayor Byrne said. “Desmond Tutu’s courageous stand against Apartheid in South Africa and ongoing advocacy for peace and human rights is an inspiration to us all. Palestinian civil society has called for support for the Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions campaign to highlight the struggle of the Palestinian people for basic human rights. I am proud that Marrickville Council was able to support and highlight the human rights violations suffered by many Palestinian people,” Mayor Byrne said.

“We are humbled and inspired by this expression of support from Archbishop Desmond Tutu,” said Councillors Kontellis, Thanos and Peters, who along with Mayor Byrne maintained their support for the BDS despite intense media pressure.

Then In the Sydney Morning Herald

The Nobel peace prize recipient and critic of Israel wrote that he wanted to extend his respects to the mayor, Fiona Byrne, and her fellow councillors ”for taking a stand to isolate the Israeli state”.

”We in South Africa, who both suffered apartheid and defeated it, have the moral right and responsibility to name and shame institutionalised separation, exclusion, and domination by one ethnic group over others,” Archbishop Tutu said in the letter, which will be formally presented to Cr Byrne tonight.

”Sometimes taking a public stand for what is ethical and right brings costs, but social justice on a local or global scale requires faith and courage.”

ABC Story with unflattering Tutu photo
Yet why has the ABC used such a dreadful, unflattering photo of Archbishop Desmond Tutu and quoted Vic Alhadeff’s snide smears?

Jewish groups have condemned Nobel peace prize winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu for congratulating Sydney’s Marrickville Council on its now abandoned boycott of Israel.
….
The chief executive of the New South Wales Jewish Board of Deputies, Vic Alhadeff, says Archbishop Tutu has a long history of such comments.

“This one is merely another in a consistent line of outrageous comments in terms of the conflict,” Mr Alhadeff said.

Yet Alhadeff was associated according to a deleted, cached and now screen-shot post from the blog of the Inner West Jewish Community and Friends Peace Alliance, ‘a local grassroots group which formed as a response to the December 14 2010 resolution by Marrickville Council to boycott Israel’ with an aim to use the scuttling of the first Australian Council initiative to warn local government off support of BDS.

We think it is extremely important to ensure that this first local government attempting to implement the boycott will be convinced by their constituents and by intelligent public opinion to reconsider and recast their boycott decision. The March state election is giving candidates and voters the opportunity to consider what an Israel boycott means, and to ask questions such as whether local or state governments should be deciding foreign policy.

We have plans for some carefully targeted media coverage and advertising in relation to the election. These strategies are expensive, but we believe they will be successful. We have been fortunate to have ongoing help and advice from very capable professionals. Also, we have among our own numbers people who are deeply involved in the Jewish community, and we are in frequent communication with Vic Alhadeff and Yair Miller from the Jewish Board of Deputies as well as Peter Wertheim from the Executive Council of Australian Jewry.

We need to raise approximately $12,000 in the next two-three weeks to carry out the activities that we believe will make a decisive difference. All the professional work that is being done for the campaign has been donated pro bono, but there are unavoidable advertising and research costs we will need to pay.’

If you would like to contribute to the success of this campaign, please donate what you can. Please also pass this information on quietly to like-minded friends.

Alhadeff has consistent form himself, most recently endorsing the Shalom Institute’s decision to ban pro-BDS speakers from Jewish Festival Limmud-Oz and slamming Lee Rhiannon’s involvement with the Coalition for Justice and Peace in Palestine forum, which he described as “an activist conference lacking any hint of balance or academic integrity on a divisive and complex issue”.

Following an exceeding dirty campaign against Palestinian people’s human rights of push polls, electoral poster vandalisation with racist graffiti, near complete media blackout of Palestinian voices, newly elected NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell threatening to ‘sack’ the Council for its support of BDS and death threats to Councillors, the Marrickville Council stuck to the principles of BDS in its final motion without implementing a boycott.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Vic Alhadeff said his ‘organisation had no knowledge of the poster campaign, or the phone survey, until afterwards’.

The solidarity of human rights icon and anti-apartheidist Archbishop Desmond Tutu is a wonderful accolade for Marrickville Council and the community which supported their principled struggle for justice for Palestinians through boycott, divestment and sanctions. Congratulations to the courageous Councillors from Marrickville who have set an example which all people of conscience and compassion can applaud.
Poll: 77% of Israelis oppose going back to pre-’67 lines

Related Links

Lee Rhiannon hails Desmond Tutu praise for Marrickville Council’s Israel boycott
Tutu congratulates council’s Israel boycott
Tutu praises Marrickville mayor
West Dunbartonshire council has reaffirmed its support for BDS following false allegations made about the implementation of its boycott policy.

Palestine / Israel Links

The Impossible Distance: A Choice to Kill : fascism kills compulsively to replenish itself
On Naksa Day, unarmed resistance sends Israel into violent contortions

While evidence that the Syrian regime directly organized the demonstrations is scant to non-existent, the regime clearly enabled the demonstrators to reach the fence by neglecting to repel them with its own troops. Not only does this fact fail to excuse Israel’s wanton killing, it highlights the irony of Israel and its allies condemning the Syrian regime for its brutal repression of Syrian citizens rising up against it (of course, the whole world should deplore Assad’s draconian rule), while at the same time demanding that the regime repress the Palestinian refugees who are protesting for their own internationally recognized rights.

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Poll: 77% of Israelis oppose going back to pre-’67 lines

77% of Israelis would rather stay expansionist and reject peace – they ‘oppose returning to pre-1967 lines even if it would lead to a peace agreement and declarations by Arab states of an end to their conflict with Israel’ … 82% considered security concerns more important than a peace deal.

Saudi Arabia Links

petro-dollar counter-revolution Saudi Arabia’s array of bribes to makes its inhabitants forget that they’re living under the whip of nut-job monarchs.
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Australian Links

Emails reveal nature of attacks on climate scientists
Statement by Samah Hadid, Australian Youth Representative to the United Nations Third Committee, delivered 4 October 2010

Muammar Mary Poppins Gaddafi

The Language of a Dictator
The Language of a Dictator
Recently landed from Venezuela? reports of his resignation and flight have been greatly misinterpreted. Yet Gaddafi’s hours remaining in power seem numbered. I predict his destination will be to Zimbabwe, to seek consolation from his good friend and fellow pan-Africanist tyrant Mugabe. In case Mugabe’s regime topples as part of the regional revolution, The Guardian has a few more suggestions for Gaddafi’s retirement.

Perhaps the Leader won’t be utilising his umbrella for an expeditious exit though, for it may be difficult to abandon his precious Libyan Rocket.

Libya Links

Expect a free Libya
The mad dog of the Middle East
UN condemns Israeli demolitions
Pro-Gadhafi forces fight bloody battle as protests sweep Libya
Libya’s falling tyrant
Analysis: Zimbabwe’s Mugabe unlikely to be swept from power
Qadafi remains one of few constants for troubled Libya
When tyrants want tear gas, the UK has always been happy to oblige
Guy Rundle:

‘The Libyan revolution makes it clear that the Iraqi people could have, and almost certainly would have, stood up to Saddam in this current wave of uprisings?—?taking upon themselves the responsibility for their own liberation, and the sacrifice of it.’

@SultanAlQassemi: Al Jazeera: Libya’s resigned ambassador to the Arab League says Chief of the Libyan Army is under house arrest. #Libya #
UPDATE 1-Libyan embassy in Malaysia calls crackdown “barbaric, criminal”
UN Security Council to meet on Libya
Letter from Tripoli: an eyewitness account
Libya violence continues, over 300 dead
#Libya on knife-edge
THE ROLE OF CIVIL SOCIETY IN THE DEMOCRATISATION OF GLOBAL GOVERNANCE INSTITUTIONS: From ‘Soft Power’ to Collective Decision-Making? Saif Al-Islam Alqadhafi

Palestine / Israel Links

Jerusalem panel takes three sensitive construction plans off agenda – no, not as a result of Ian McEwan’s arrogant imperialist acceptance twaddle in Jerusalem, but more likely as part of an underhanded deal with the US in return for its veto of the illegal settlements resolution in the UN.
McEwan accepts award, but still attacks Israeli settlements
Knesset postpones vote over panels of inquiry into leftist NGOs
Nobody Could Have Predicted (Part 8)
Settlers uproot 270 olive trees near Nablus
Witnesses: Israel demolishes tents in West Bank village
Israel isolated and under threat
Poetry of Resistance, recited by Sudhanva Deshpande
Palestinian Gandhi, mark II
American Activist, Aishah Schwartz, “Now is not the time for an International March on Rafah.”
Egypt reopens border for travellers from Gaza Strip

Egypt Links

To Celebrate The #Jan25 Revolution, Egyptian Names His Firstborn “Facebook”
Egyptians Ponder Israel Peace Terms
The upheaval in Egypt: what impact on U.S. imperialism

Other Links

Obama Requests Funding For Venezuelan Opposition in 2012 Budget
The CIA’s Secret War in Iraq – an oldy but a goody
‘We Stand With You as You Stood With Us’: Statement to Workers of Wisconsin by Kamal Abbas of Egypt’s Centre for Trade Unions and Workers Services
Behind TV Analysts, Pentagon’s Hidden Hand
The NYT’s journalistic obedience – Glenn Greenwald

Following the dictates of the U.S. Government for what they can and cannot publish is, of course, anything but new for the New York Times. In his lengthy recent article on WikiLeaks and Julian Assange, NYT Executive Editor Bill Keller tried to show how independent his newspaper is by boasting that they published their story of the Bush NSA program even though he has “vivid memories of sitting in the Oval Office as President George W. Bush tried to persuade [him] and the paper’s publisher to withhold the eavesdropping story”; Keller neglected to mention that the paper learned about the illegal program in mid-2004, but followed Bush’s orders to conceal it from the public for over a year — until after Bush was safely re-elected.

The tail wags the dog – cynical and blissfully accurate analysis of the rotten state of Australian politics, particularly in regard to the Catch the Fire scum.

These groups are organised and able to bring far greater pressure to bear on our politics than their numbers dictate. At the ballot box, they record barely a blip in voting trends one way or another but behind the scenes, be it in byzantine factional struggles conducted over mobile phones or through fervent email campaigns, our politicians invariably sit up and take notice.

It is madness and a perversion of democracy. Real political leadership would dismiss these groups as the nutters, ideologues and meddlers they are.

And therein lies the nub of the matter.

Villawood guards blow whistle on abuses at detention centre

After the Tyrant of Tunisia Fled

Whilst Ben Ali commiserates with 1.5 tons of gold and his new Saudi hosts on the loss of his holiday homes and yachts which he and his family pilfered, the Dark Prince of Ziostan seizes upon the tyrant’s ousting as yet another reason to delay the peace talks charade. ‘Talking of Peace Talks’ is a customary game played with international elites by the Ziostanian ruling class when they are not aggressing some neighbour or Palestinians unworthy of democracy, which is perceived as a risk by Ziostan’s elite to their ‘stability, security and peace’. It is a pleasant, hands-across-the-waters effusive pastime which obscures even more enjoyable activities like home demolitions, accelerated land theft throughout the West Bank, Occupied Jerusalem and the Negev, shooting motorists, or small boys and old men who stray too close to the Gaza apartheid fence when struggling to eke out a living collecting stones and pebbles to rebuild their famous landmark – the largest civilian prison on the planet. The main game though for Ziostan, its strategy, tactic and aim, is expansionism, the taking of territory which wondrously can be justified in retrospect or even in advance, for Ziostan’s constant demand for ‘stability, security and peace’ is paramount before the most rudimentary needs for survival of those they oppress.

It is two years since Ziostan declared its massacre of the people of Gaza over, and the hideous, illegal siege remains, with the full complicity of the global political community which has chosen shining, privileged, packaged ziocolony to rule over and occupy Palestinians. Ziostan commandeered more than 3 million dunam of cultivated fields and villages during and after their genocide and expulsion of Palestinians, the Nakba, in 1948. The inconvenience of the continued presence of suffering, protesting Palestinians as a distraction from fiercely marketed tactical Ziostanian victimhood is perceived as a small price to pay in order to usurp the balance of Palestinian land and resources which Ziostan covets. Those who resist Ziostanian power even in non-violent ways, including children, are often summarily jailed, labelled terrorists and tortured. There will be no need for two states if Ziostan can appropriate all Palestinian land without resistance or approbation from the international community. The ‘talk of peace talks’ charade provides window dressing for the international ruling class and ameloriates criticism within Ziostan itself. Failure of ‘peace talks’ is routinely blamed upon Palestinians unwilling to surrender one more dunam of their indigenous birthright and heritage or to forgo the right of return guaranteed by international law. Conscience is no impediment to the elite of Ziostan, for as with other elites, Ziostanians do not flinch from their righteous dispossession of those whom they perceive as lesser humans or not human at all.

The Dark Prince remains aloof from many of his own people as he is from Palestinians and transfixed by the hunt, does not understand the lessons presently before him. Yet neither he nor the rest of his ziofascist retinue or contrived brute force, theft and calumny can withstand the people’s search for real security and peace based soundly on justice and equal rights and backed with a growing solidarity movement focussed on boycotts, divestments and sanctions. Tinpot dictatorial sociopaths with Uzis, F15s, dungeons, pain, the whole banal sex and death repertoire have limited appeal – fascistic crises and spectacles lose their lustre after their twisted motivations are exposed.

Perhaps when Nutanyahoo is finally ousted by a united people hungry for real democracy, he too can apply to Saudia for a political sinecure or respite.

In Egypt, Abul Gheit reacts furiously and with unconscious irony to Clinton’s hypocritical statements:

“We hope that the summit will adopt Egypt’s proposal which would be a message from the Arab to the Western and European world saying ‘Do not dare interfere in our affairs”, he was quoted as saying by the official MENA news agency.

MENA said he was responding to a question from one of its journalists who asked if the summit could adopt a common position concerning Western bids to interfere in Arab affairs.

On Thursday, Clinton urged Arab leaders to work with their peoples to implement reforms or see extremists fill the void, warning the “region’s foundations are sinking”.

The region’s peoples “have grown tired of corrupt institutions”, Clinton told Arab counterparts in Qatar attending the Forum for the Future, a 2004 US initiative aimed at promoting such partnerships.

“In too many places, in too many ways, the region’s foundations are sinking into the sand. The new and dynamic Middle East that I have seen needs firmer ground if it is to take root and grow everywhere,” she said.

Clinton said the region’s leaders “in partnership with their peoples” have the capacity to build a bold new future where entrepreneurship and political freedoms are encouraged.

“It’s time to see civil society not as a threat but as a partner,” she said.

“Those who cling to the status quo may be able to hold back the full impact of their countries’ problems for a little while but not forever.

“Others will fill the vacuum,” if leaders failed to offer a positive vision to give “young people meaningful ways to contribute”, Clinton warned.

Abul Gheit also dismissed the notion that people in the Arab world could be inspired by Tunisia, where violent protests forced president Zine Al Abidine Ben Ali to abandon his post.

“The talk about the spread of what happened in Tunisia to other countries is nonsense. Each society has its own circumstances,” Abul Gheit told reporters in Sharm El Sheikh.

“If the Tunisian people decide to take that approach, it’s their business.

“Egypt has said that the Tunisian people’s will is what counts,” said the foreign minister.

“Those who imagine things and seek to escalate the situation will not achieve their goals.

“The most important thing is the will of the Tunisian people. Nobody is resisting it,” Abul Gheit added..

It is most important for dictators to resist the will of the people – yet even Pharaohs may fall when the people no longer tolerate their cruelty and corruption.

Related Links

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Netanyahu seizes on Tunisian turmoil as yet another pretext for iron wall
Uneasy calm in Tunisia as power talks continue
Brave soldier Netanyahu is turning out to be coward
Riots in Algeria
The Candid Guide to Arab Dictators
New Wikileaks: US Knew Tunisian Gov. Rotten Corrupt, Supported Ben Ali Anyway

Palestine / Israel Links

Peres: Probe of Leftist NGOs harms Israeli democracy (What democracy?)

Other Links

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Joe Hallett commentary: Snooping on journalist’s family is new low for Democrats
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In Solidarity, People Have the Power; Communication & Information are Tools

Ben AliBen Ali, cruel, corrupt dictator of Tunisia for the past 23 years, has fled to Saudi Arabia where he’s esconced with his kindred American-sponsored oppressors and nutjobs. Viva Tunisia, Abajo con La Bestia, Tierra y Libertad!

The blogonewspunditwitosphere is swarming with theoreticians, some suggesting Wikileaks played an integral role, others admiring social media, still others more measured and analytic, and others highlighting the dangers of social media for protestors.

Being well-enmeshed in the social media arena, I have perceived continuous international solidarity for the Tunisian revolution, with people’s liberation movements against injustice across the Middle East and elsewhere that tyranny blooms darkly. Yet while information, communication and cyberactivism essentially grease the wheels of change, it is suffering people under the boot who put their lives at risk on the front line, doing the really heavy lifting and organisation.

Few commentators outside the African/Middle East region have examined the impact of “Mohamed Bouazizi, the young Tunisian who set himself on fire in protest against unemployment and poverty” who “has become a symbol of Tunisian sacrifices for freedom”, or extolled the involvement of Tunisian trade unions, grassroots solidarity movements and opposition parties. As Qunfuz notes:

The dictator, thief and Western client Zein al-Abdine Ben Ali, beloved until a few hours ago in Paris and Washington, has been driven from Tunisia. His reign was ended not by a military or palace coup but by an extraordinarily broad-based popular movement which has brought together trades unions and professional associations, students and schoolchildren, the unemployed and farmers, leftists, liberals and intelligent Islamists, men and women. One of the people’s most prominent slogans will resonate throughout the Arab world and beyond: la khowf ba’ad al-yowm, or No Fear From Now On.

Egyptian blogger, Zeinobia, further dispels colonial western mythology which minimises the achievement of the Tunisian people.

No one has a hand in the success of this revolution except the people of Tunisia , no Islamists nor communists , it was a pure people’s action. Those who only woke up on the revolution last Friday have these lame excuses and explanations because they did not follow the matter since the 17th of December 2010. I am proud to say that I have followed it since the beginning ,this is a real people’s revolution. The people of the world do not understand what is happening because it happened too fast. The Tunisian people are highly educated , they have the highest level of literacy in the Arab world and Africa combined together , they know their rights very well and they have suffered a lot. They know what they know and did.

With a tangible, similar grassroots movement for liberation within Egypt and elsewhere, Mubarak and his fellow puppet dictators must be very nervous indeed. How will the neocolonial empire regard the potential tumbling of its house of cards? what of the actions of the Israeli coloniser if Egypt follows the Tunisian trajectory? would Israel then shift its convenient ‘existential threat’ tactic to focus on Egypt rather than Iran?

Remembering Muriawec’s Grand Strategy “Iraq is the tactical pivot, Saudi Arabia the strategic pivot, Egypt the prize” theorem which ignited some in the Pentagon and inspired neozioconservatives, what are these dark forces ruminating? will the empire choose to relinquish power and opt for sleazy neoliberal ‘polite rape’ or are we heading toward a stark regional standoff where it is increasingly exposed and isolated as the major hand supporting tyranny?

The imperial entity and its cronies supported the Tunisian dictatorship, as it was considered to be a reliable partner in the duplicitous ‘war on terrorism’.

During a 2004 visit by Ben Ali to the White House, in advance of Tunisia’s hosting of an Arab League summit, George Bush, the then US president, praised his guest as an ally in the war on terrorism, and praised Tunisia’s reforms in “press freedom” and the holding of “free and competitive elections”.

The same was repeated in 2008 by Nicolas Sarkozy, the French president, who praised the improved “sphere of liberties” when human rights abuses were rampant in Tunisia. In once instance, at least 200 people were prosecuted against the backdrop of socio-economic protests in one southern mining town, Redhayef.

When certain European officials criticised Tunisia’s human rights record, they generally praised its economic performance.

For US and European leaders, Tunisia’s deposed president had been considered a staunch ally in the war on terrorism and against Islamist extremism.

In solidarity, we can keep reminding each other through many convenient means that the main game is for money, impunity, power positioning and control of resources against equal human rights, liberty and justice. Unless power is wrested from the ruling class, unless all are equally subject to the rule of law, the cards have merely been shuffled.

Related Links

Arab Activism: Brought to you by a White Man
2011-01-15 What the US state cables on Tunisia said
The Press Release The ADC Did Not Release On The Revolution In TUNISIA
Tunisian poet Echebbi’s words hold warning for tyrants of Arab world
Timeline: Tunisia’s civil unrest
Tunisians cautious on concessions
Talk Morocco on the Tunisian Uprising
Social media and the Tunisian revolution
What if Tunisia’s revolution ended up like Iran’s?
Could Tunisia Be The Next Twitter Revolution? Ctd
Wikileaks disclosures play key role in Ben Ali’s outing
For the Arab World, a Potent Lesson
“Centrism” and the Rule of Law
Was What Happened in Tunisia a Twitter Revolution?
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#Tunisia a small country, without natural resources, but… #sidibouzid
This Is The Wikileak That Sparked The Tunisian Crisis
Tunisia: the Uprising Has a Hashtag
Tunisian president toppled
Tunisia’s bitter cyberwar
‘First Wikileaks Revolution’: Tunisia riots blamed on cables which revealed country’s corruption
The rebirth of Arab activism
Tunisia’s Jasmine Revolution: Unprecedented, but uncertain
Tunisia Uprising 2010/11
Ousted president in Saudi Arabia
Profile: Zine El Abidine Ben Ali – Tunisian president flees amid a wave of deadly social protests in a dramatic end to his 23 years in power.
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The First WikiLeaks Revolution?
Pro-U.S. President Flees Tunisia: That WikiLeaks Angle
Joy as Tunisian President Flees Offers Lesson to Arab Leaders
Not Twitter, Not WikiLeaks: A Human Revolution
Tunisia: Can We Please Stop Talking About ‘Twitter Revolutions’

Today’s Palestine / Israel Links

Israeli bulldozers do the talking
Israeli occupation to build a hotel on the ruins of the Qashala cemetery
Israel grouchy with its collaborating oppressors? blocks delivery of Russian armored vehicles to Palestinian territories
Latest Chapter in Mideast Tension Is Dennis Ross vs. George Mitchell
AIPAC’s Man, Dennis Ross, Now In Charge of Middle East
World-renowned computer scientist suffers harrowing mid-air IQ drop
Palin doesn’t threaten pogroms
Glenn Beck’s Jewish Obsession Plus More On Iran Sanctions Idiocy
CPJ condemns Israeli security for humiliating screening
Leading UK store backs settlement boycott
Salah Ad-Din Al-Husseini, Prominent Palestinian poet dies in Cairo
Orthodox publication openly calls for death camps
Pro-Israel Control of Obama’s Middle East Policy

Today’s Wikileaks Links

Blacklisting WikiLeaks
John Pilger’s Investigation Into the War on WikiLeaks and His Interview With Julian Assange
NSW Greens MP explains why Wikileaks matters
Belarusian Helsinki Commitee & Frontline, HR organisations, targeted by Lukashenka
Government-controlled newspaper accuses EU countries of plotting Lukashenka’s overthrow
More opposition activists have homes searched by KGB
More Shamir shenanigans, and someone else is noticing:
This is how many of us feel about Wikileaks
WikiLeaks covers Belarus’ banking sector
“… Below is the full version of the document provided to the online Naviny.by newspaper by representative of the WikiLeaks media organization Israel Shamir.”
Unpublished Wikileaks Cables Appear on State-Backed Belarussian Website
Belarus: Widespread searches and judicial harassment of human rights defenders following Presidential Elections
Unredacted WikiLeaks Cables Leaked to Internet

Other Links

The United States as Jared Loughner: How the State Sanctifies Murder
Brazil’s environment chief resigns over controversial Amazon dam
More than 610 killed in Brazil flooding, mudslides
Alastair Campbell diaries: How Blair’s Bible reading prompted Iraq ‘wobble’
PHR’s new report, Broken Laws, Broken Lives, “for the first time medical evidence to confirm first-hand accounts of men who endured torture by US personnel in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Guantánamo Bay. These men were never charged with any crime.”
USA Today Edits the Count of the Dead in Iraq
Obama in Tucson: Shame, Hypocrisy and Deceit
Australian floods: Why were we so surprised?
Kuwait: Physical assault, arbitrary detention and fears of unfair trial against human rights defender Dr Obaid Alwasmi
No Victors in Lebanon
Aboriginal languages in NSW

Israelis and others bought undocumented diamonds

One of the latest cables released by Wikileaks reveals an illicit trade in Zimbabwean diamonds. The cable, dated 12th November, 2008 states in summary:

The CEO of a British mining company described to us how high-ranking Zimbabwean government officials and well-connected elites are generating millions of dollars in personal income by hiring teams of diggers to hand-extract diamonds from the Chiadzwa mine in eastern Zimbabwe. They are selling the undocumented diamonds to a mix of foreign buyers including Belgians, Israelis, Lebanese, Russians and South Africans who smuggle them out of the country for cutting and resale elsewhere. Despite efforts to control the diamond site with police, the prospect of accessible diamonds lying just beneath the soil’s surface has attracted a swarm of several thousand local and foreign diggers. The police response has been violent, with a handful of homicides reported each week, though that number could grow as diggers arm themselves and attract police and army deserters to their ranks.

Further, the cable says:

¶7. (C) The diamonds that are not sold to regime members and elites, but instead are sold directly to foreign buyers, actually constitute the majority of the diamond trade in Chiadzwa. Cranswick said that around 85 percent of the diamonds extracted from Chiadzwa are sold directly to foreign buyers. Even so, he conservatively estimated that Mujuru, Gono and the rest were probably each making several hundred thousand dollars a month.

¶8. (C) Whether bought first by regime members or not, eventually the diamonds are sold to a mix of Belgians, Israelis, Lebanese (the largest contingent), Russians, and South Africans. A well-known buyer named Gonyeti fronts for Gono, as do two other buyers named Tendai Makurumidze and Takunda Nyaguze, according to Mutasa. Once sold to foreigners, the majority of the diamonds are smuggled to Dubai and sold at the Dubai Multi Commodities Centre Authority, a dedicated economic free-trade zone created in 2002 for the exchange of metals and commodities, most notably gold and diamonds. Although Zimbabwe is a participant in the Kimberley process, the diamonds from Chiadzwa are undocumented and therefore are not in compliance with Kimberley, which requires loose uncut diamonds to be certified.

¶9. (C) The highest quality diamonds are not sent to Dubai, but are shipped to Belgium, Israel, or South Africa for cutting. Despite this wide dispersal, Chiadzwa diamonds are very distinctive because of their age, color, and clarity and can easily be traced back to the Marange mine, according to Cranswick. He implicated Ernie Blom, president of South Africa’s Diamond Merchants Association in the illicit trade of Chiadzwa diamonds, and said that Blom had been known to boast of his involvement in illegal Zimbabwean diamonds. When asked why purportedly reputable diamond dealers would involve themselves in Chiadzwa, Cranswick said that the site was “massive” with tremendous profit potential that was attracting numerous buyers. One such group consisted of Russians who had recently bought US$500,000 worth of diamonds at an MMCZ auction, paying US$29/carat. They bought eight to ten carat rough diamonds, five to ten percent of which were gem quality.

¶10. (C) The diamond frenzy in Chiadzwa has led to hundreds and possibly thousands of homicides. Word of easy diamonds spurred a rush of Zimbabwean and foreign diggers to the area including Angolans, Congolese, Mozambicans, South Africans and Zambians, as well as diggers from as far away as Sierra

Yesterday a Swiss group urged Bern to bar sale of Marange diamonds from Zimbabwe.

The organization said the definition of “blood diamonds” used by the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme should be updated to include human rights violations by forces of the state. The present definition refers to rebel forces, a loophole that has allowed Harare to market Marange diamonds internationally under Kimberley supervision.

The Zimbabwe Advocacy Office, local partner of Bread For All, reports ongoing rights violations in the Marange diamond field of Manicaland province.

Diamonds from Marange are currently barred from export until the Kimberly Process has achieved a consensus on the disposition of the Zimbabwean stones. The organization met in Israel last month but was unable to reach a consensus on Marange gems.

Zimbabwean Mines Minister Obert Mpofu has threatened to sell diamonds with or without Kimberley approval, saying Zimbabwe has met all of the group’s requirements.

But political analyst Charles Mangongera said Harare must first address human rights abuses in Marange and completely demilitarize the zone, among other outstanding items in a work plan to which it agreed at a 2009 Kimberley Process meeting.

Israel is currently chairs the Kimberley Process. A boycott of Israeli cut diamonds has been called as Israeli diamonds cannot be regarded as conflict-free while Israel maintains its illegal apartheid, crimes against humanity, occupation and brutalisation of the people of Palestine.

Most people are unaware that the majority of diamonds on display in Jewellers’ windows are likely to have been manufactured in apartheid Israel and that their purchase helps to fund Israel’s illegal occupation and Zionist crimes against humanity. Israeli diamonds are de facto Blood Diamonds.

Significant revenues from corporation and personal taxes accrue to the Israeli state form the diamond industry each year. This helps to fund the 60 year long illegal occupation of Palestinian territory and associated crimes including murder, ethnic cleansing, home demolitions, destruction and theft of land and collective punishment of the Palestinian people.

Boycott Israeli Diamonds

The UN-based Kimberley Process which seeks to eliminate the trade in diamonds from conflict zones only applies to uncut or rough diamonds. It does not control to trade in polished diamonds from conflict zones. This has allowed jewellers to continue selling Israeli diamonds, conveniently ignoring the war crimes and crimes against humanity being committed by Israel, the world’s No1 producer of cut and polished diamonds.

Consumers and jewellers presently have no way of distinguishing which diamonds are cut and polished in Israeli and which are crafted in countries that respect human rights and international law. Consumers have a right to know not only where the diamond was mined (as certified by the Kimberley Process) but also the country where it was cut and polished.

The Indian government has placed a ban on Zimbabwean diamonds.

The Indian Government’s Union Ministry of Commerce has moved to stop its country from importing controversial diamonds from Zimbabwe, amid growing pressure for international traders to shun stones from the country. Indian has asked jewellery exporters and traders to bide their time until a solution of Zimbabwe’s trade future is resolved. Currently Zimbabwe’s diamonds are still effectively barred from international trade, because the watchdog Kimberley Process (KP) is still to decide on whether to give Zimbabwean exports the green light.

The Indian government’s decision is a major setback to the country’s diamond conglomerate, the Surat Rough Diamond Sourcing India Limited (SRSDIL), which signed a deal amounting to US$1.2 billion per year, to import rough diamonds from Zimbabwe. Recent diamond auctions in Zimbabwe, the first since the country was barred from trade last year, saw a high number of Indian buyers. Zimbabwe was barred by the KP over human rights abuses at the Chiadzwa alluvial diamond fields, and the auctions earlier this year were part of efforts to bring the country in line with international standards. But the KP has not made a unanimous decision on Zimbabwe yet, because of ongoing reports of abuses at Chiadzwa.

The Mines Ministry has since threatened to sell its diamonds without KP approval and recently the KP appointed monitor to Zimbabwe, Abbey Chikane, unilaterally certified Chiadzwa stones for sale. As a result, another auction, featuring mainly Indian buyers, went ahead last month. The KP has since publicly dismissed Chikane’s efforts to certify the stones without approval, and has asked member state not accepted Zimbabwean diamonds.

The KP is still reportedly negotiating an agreement with the Mines Ministry, which continues to make it clear that it has no intention of adhering to the KP’s limits. Mines and Mining Development secretary Thankful Musukutwa reportedly told a visiting Norwegian delegation this week that trade would not be stopped by NGOs and “other hostile nations.” Musukutwa said that while Zimbabwe has had “a few problems” with the KP, “we have worked our way up and we are very compliant.”

A Kimberley Process meeting in Israel in November failed to allow the export of Zimbabwean diamonds until they become process-compliant.

Talks to break an international deadlock over Zimbabwe’s suspended diamond exports ended in Belgium last week without a deal as the market was awash with rumours that Harare was courting buyers for stones from its controversial fields to the east of the country.

Industry representatives failed to hammer a compromise deal after a special meeting of the Kimberley Process (KP)’s Working Group on Monitoring (WGM) ended in Brussels on Thursday with no consensus on whether to allow rough diamond exports from Zimbabwe.

The Brussels meeting followed a KP plenary session held earlier this month in Israel which nearly reached an agreement after direct consultations between the United States and Zimbabwe. The agreement was widely accepted by KP members but was blocked by Canada and Australia. The Tel Aviv meetings ended with a decision to continue negotiations until a unanimous agreement is reached.

Zimbabwe boycotted the WGM meeting although it was said to be liaising with the working group via a delegation from neighbouring countries. Harare has insisted that it would resume selling the gems “without any conditions”. Under a set of measures meant to bring Zimbabwe’s controversial diamond industry in line with KP standards, the world diamond industry must monitor production and sales of diamonds from Chiadzwa field where the army has been accused of rights abuses against civilians.

In a later cable of the 9th January, 2009, we see:

¶7. (C) While Gono’s access to diamonds may have been compromised, XXXXXXXXXXXX said that many diamonds are still being sold to foreign diamond buyers in Mutare and over the border in Mozambique by a mix of panners, police, and soldiers. In particular, Lebanese buyers have set up shop in large numbers in Mutare and typically pay for the diamonds with U.S. dollars. In order to operate safely, the Lebanese have formed profitable relationships with senior military and police officials in the region. Marginally more reputable buyers from Europe and other regions prefer to stay in Chimoio in Mozambique. Chimoio affords these buyers protection from Zimbabwean police and soldiers who commonly seize cash, diamonds, and vehicles from them in Mutare, but that safety is offset by higher diamond prices.

Ask where your diamond was cut and sourced before buying – don’t buy Israeli blood diamonds.

Related Links
Court asked to prevent Chiadzwa diamond exports
CORE MINING EXEC. CLAIMS $80 MILLION OF ROUGH DIAMONDS MISSING FROM CANADILE STOCK
Zimbabwe Finance Minister Calls for Valuation of Diamond Deposits
Zimbabwe Govt Newspaper: Diamond Mining Company Contests Exclusion From Chiadzwa