Archive for the ‘Internet and Communication’ Category

 

gassan-asassali Certainly, by now we’ve all seen the tear-jerking, heart-rending tale of the American family of Syrian origin whose relatives (who had obtained a visa and had a nice house waiting for them in Allentown Pennsylvania) were turned back to Syria due to the Trump Executive Order banning people from entering into the US if they were citizens of one of the seven predominantly Muslim countries, including Syria.

The family told their story several times to TV crews and even had a Go Fund Me set up for them to help defray their costs for this setback.

Well, all it takes is a tiny peek into their public content on Facebook to see that their story gets quite a bit less warm and fuzzy, they actually support a mass murderer. Ghassan Assali and his wife both have regime flag profile pictures, indeed, there is a lot of pro-regime content on (particularly) Ghassan’s page. One of his shared memes was celebrating that Hillary Clinton would have to “Go Away” rather than Assad. I left a comment on that meme (which Ghassan did not leave on the meme), and he sent me this message:

assali-1

Which, in English means:

Everyone makes mistakes but thank God, Trump apologized for what happened and gave them a new visa and compensated them for everything. Now they’re on their way. There was a problem interpreting the order, which includes Islamists and terrorists only. The crushing [of the Syrian opposition translator’s note] is still going on.

Well, that’s some big news! The family is back on their way COMPENSATED FOR EVERYTHING!

Then why is there still the Go Fund Me active?

And apparently, Trump supporters don’t care enough to send money because the Organiser of the campaign had to leave this update:

Update 4
Posted by The Wild Family

13 hours ago 

   Share

As the organizer of this page, I feel compelled to speak publicly and respond to some of the comments made on this page regarding reports that the Assalis of Allentown voted for Trump. These reports are incorrect. They did not vote for any candidate, and more importantly, were vitally concerned about the safety of their loved ones in Syria. For that reason, they discussed the relative benefits of one candidate over the other, and as with many in the local Syrian community, voiced hope that Trump might bring about a safer world for their family. HOWEVER, they did not vote for him, period.
Even more important, however, is to keep in mind that their family members who have now been returned to Syria did not vote (obviously) and had no political convictions about the election in the U.S. They just knew that they had to get out of Syria. So, please do not hold any grudge against the people for whom this page was organized. I hope this answers any questions. If you have more, please send an email to the organizer of this page (me) and I will do my best to answer any questions. Peace, Susan

So, either Susan or Sarmad is lying: “Assali said her vote for Donald Trump was done out of a desire to see secure borders, though she didn’t expect one of her candidate’s chief campaign promises to be applied to her relatives, who are all Orthodox Christians with green cards.”

You see, Ghassan and his wife think Assad is the man protecting them and fighting Islamists and Terrorists, but at the same time, in televised interviews they claim that their family has even before the war had been persecuted for their religion. Oh… but they aren’t asking for Asylum, and at the same time, Assad is apparently the protector of the minorities, isn’t he?

The family had been working since 2003 to escape religious persecution in their war-torn country. They have a furnished home waiting for them in Allentown.

As of this moment, the Go Fund Me is still active, though the Assali family is also suing.

So, what is it? Were they persecuted? If they have been compensated and granted new visas, why are they still collecting money and playing the victims?

assad-must-gooh, and here’s the meme about going away that was so funny to Ghassan Assali in November. I guess he kind of changed his mind since then, because these are his groups today: no-trump

 

marcell

Marcell Shehwaro: “Revolt”. Taken during Arab Bloggers Meeting in Jordan by Amer Sweidan. Photo from Global Voices Online

WRITTEN BY Marcell Shehwaro
I read Max’s article which aims to open our eyes to the dangerous hidden reality behind The Syria Campaign. I read it over and over and all I felt was a combination of patronisation and humiliation in detail after detail… Beginning with the focus on who took the photo of Omran and who published it and neglecting the fact that what happened to Omran did actually happen and the boy really was bombed. But of course this detail is marginal… just as marginal as all other Syrian men and women in that piece of writing. All of us are marginal details.

More important now is how to help the killer escape by spreading doubts around all the human rights violations they committed.

My organization is one of the 73 organizations that signed on to suspending cooperation with the UN. The decision was taken and planned as per the following steps. Months and days of dysfunctional coordination with the UN as a result of the political ties of the UN’s offices in Damascus. Let alone the grave failure, that the UN admits to, of dealing with the sieges. The Syrian anger towards this topic was portrayed through many responses, actions, banners and campaigns such as United Nothing. All those are purely Syrians but it seems not important enough for Mr. Blumenthal to mention.

We internally shared the statement, which was drafted by Syrian humanitarian organizations, for endorsement. We even objected to the mild language of the statement which some described as nice and friendly. After the internal agreement of the drafting organizations, which apparently it’s not convincing to the writer that the Syrian organizations have a decision-making mechanism, we shared the statement publicly for wider endorsement.

Of course Mr. Max is able to judge and knows better than all of us that we as Syrians have been influenced to shape our opinions! We have been “spurred” to sign! We are mislead, absent, easily manipulated.

This is how Syrian organisations are portrayed in the article.

On the no-fly zone and regime change. Here comes a more irritating speech. Early 2012, I wrote a “silly’ blog under the title “10 reasons why I am against no-fly zone”.

I wrote all possible and expected reasons in relation to sovereignty, imperialism and so on
I was “naive” back then to think there were global civilian protection mechanisms that will prevent us from tending to such solution ie; no-fly zone. I used to think that airstrikes will never be part of the regime response against people. I had the luxury to do so as by then we were not bombarded at from the sky yet.

Until today I regret that feeling of luxury.

Yes Max, The Syria Campaign say we need a no-fly zone and it is because it echoes what Syrians call for day and night.

Yes we want the shelling to stop. We want the aerial bombardment to stop. Which is until this moment just a small detail in your article.

Yes the Russian and Assad airstrikes target Syrians, their hospitals and schools. But this article is not about that small detail that takes the lives of hundreds every day. This one is about how dare an “advocacy” project for syrians to convey syrian messages to the world!!

Yes Max we do want a no-fly zone because two of our education staff were injured last week. Maybe because the manager of our education office in Aleppo has to face a decision whether to close schools and deprive children of their right to education or open schools and risk their safety and lives.

Because once we had to discuss a real decision, and not imagined, on what is the “normal” ij number of airstrikes where we would continue to operate civil and humanitarian activities and when do we cross the “Ok” number.

Because hospitals are underground. Because schools are now underground.

They brought us bunker buster bombs you know. I looked this word up in your article. It doesn’t sound that important.

Bunker buster bomb that destroys schools and hospitals and even shelters.

But what I found in your article that foreigners want a No Fly Zone. How dare they!!!
Dear Max, if you had listened to Syrians. If you just had assumed that we exist and do have opinions, maybe you would have figured out how we reached this point.

How do we live every day based on Whatsapp ringtone bringing the news of the location of each attack and who are the casualties.

Syrians there live on military air forces planes rhythm, wondering are we going to be bombed during the day only? Shall we work at night? Instead. No shall we do early mornings.

The Russians and the regime which you are discomforted with our will to topple are now working full time job. Day and night. We die. The simple logic is that we want to live. They attack us using air force. We want airstrikes to stop. Don’t you think this is logical? It is not because we are emotional people. All people across the world, I believe, don’t want to be attacked by air force. This is something common, no?

While discussing toppling the Regime it seems that you are missing some points dear Max. Let me make things clear for you. In 2011 we revolted against one of the toughest dictatorships. We called for freedom and for democracy. We as syrians, for sure if you managed to believe me, want democracy, we want the end of arrests, incommunicado arbitrary detention and shooting at peaceful demonstrations. We want the end of chemical attacks and Bunker buster bombs. We dream of change. Changing this regime, the same regime you referred to revolting against as a coup over a democratically elected government and not as a people’s will to restore its rights. Wait maybe you know better than us about our affairs.

Yes sir, The Syria Campaign as an advocacy group in support of us Syrians does say a lot of what we say over and over which no one listens to. Maybe this is considered political to you but I can see you are trying to take things to a level that is very dangerous for us Syrians. Not only as Syrians but you are undermining the activist movements across the world by painting democracy as a political issue. Hence justice, equality, freedom, and impunity become political issues that civil society activist should not get invloved in. This makes dictators happy while we work like doves of peace.

Yes Mr. Max, we syrians suffer daily from patronization over our advocacy as when we say Bashar Al Assad is killing us, our “supporters” rephrase to “ Syrians are being killed, Syrians were attacked, Syrians are starved”. The perpetrators are passive in that discourse.
Another example that comes to mind. We say:

“We want the shelling to stop so we can move on with our struggle for democracy”. Becomes “Syrians want the war to end so they can go back to peace.”

Our asks are trimmed or toned so we don’t disrupt anyone with such an ugly form of patronization. This what has forced us to see the need to define advocacy. Is it teaching Syrians what they should want while they face death everyday? Or conveying Syrian messages and voices to the world?

I will not even bother to comment on the White Helmets accusation. They have enough of the hallelujah of Syrian women every time they reach an airstrike site rushing to save people. In addition to cheers from children that they have saved and those are even more honoring than Nobel peace prizes even if I really hope they get it. We are just happy and proud as the White Helmets are from us.

Ah wait who are we? We are invisible in your article at the end. So no worries.”

So, March came and went, lots of people sent money to Ken O’Keefe for what was guaranteed (by him) to be the “Solution” to the endless cycle of war. March was the announced date of the unveiling/launch of the exciting, ground-shaking, earth-changing plan!!! We’ve pointed out that the project assumed the name of Mission by its guru, and in guru fashion, he made big, (impossible) promises of a perfect world led by him, he got his followers, got his money (that’s the most important thing, and you need followers to get the paper and coins), and then… the huge change mankind was waiting for would be announced!!!

It’s July. Let’s see, that’s March, April, May, June in the middle where he did a self-promotional tour of the hated USA (you know, the place he keeps getting a new passport for), and nothing on the WSC Mission, except that he needed more followers for it. No plans announced.

BUT WAIT! Finally! Ken released a video entitled: Ken O’Keefe – World Citizen Solution Update – June 25, 2016! The Guru has spoken! Finally, he has made good on his promise to explain what he’s been asking money for since October. But… but… if you watch the video, you are going to realise he spends 15 seconds talking about the Solution. He talks about … perks, subversion, money, silver coins, people he actually seems to fear, because the way he refers to other people is entirely defensive (a bit passive-aggressive even, because as usual, HE is good, OTHERS are “subversives, slanders, libelists”).

What does he talk about for nearly ten minutes then, since he doesn’t update on the solution at all?

Here’s a little summary (and some facts for those who can handle that kind of thing):

“We” have been continuing our work on the “Mission”. Lots of people want to volunteer, but that never works out. All he gets is (his) wasted time, sub-par work and in the end subversion. But they (whoever they are) continue, despite the drastic delay of THE PERKS! Ken spends a few minutes saying why people who are expecting their perks, stuff like a sticker, a decree (try not to laugh!) and the famous TJP Silver Coin, weren’t getting them… i.e., a combination of force majeure and other people’s fault. But the project manager behind the failure is gone, they move on!

Then he gets into an interesting lie… yes, it’s a lie, but he expects people with internet to believe that “we lost ten grand” because a Start Join server was “attacked”. He fails to mention that what happened instead was that greed was getting the best of him, and his base isn’t as big as he thought… the elastic can only stretch so far and he broke it. In a first online fundraising campaign, his target was 40 thousand dollars. He got under $8,000 (promised). Unfortunately, he couldn’t see a penny of it until he reached his target, so when the campaign closed, he reopened it but with a lower target… also asking people to not ask for their money back, because he was extending the project. The second campaign with a more realistic target (10,000) got just a little over 1,000. As the site says: This project will only receive funds if the target is met by its deadline. Neither of the targets met, and thus, the little story of how the site got “attacked”.

startjoin 1startjoin 2

He was fine with the Start Join thing while he thought he could manipulate it:
startjoin

though a couple of the fans were getting edgy:

start join 1

The plan, the plan… GUYS, it’s about the PERKS! If you didn’t shell out big money, can you just shut up about a plan already! Now, back to the video, there are ANSWERS there!

Indiegogo money, that’s stuck in banks, but what you must know is that he hasn’t paid himself any of the money… while admitting that he knows this because…. HE IS THE ONLY ONE WHO HAS ACCESS TO THE MONEY. Uhm…. He can prove that others are lying when they say he is using the money… Good, great! But no one will ask him to show them the books, so he’s cool!

Now, those who are used to Ken’s video will recognise his Tourettes style of speech whenever he’s too nervous to handle conflict. He has to go into conspiracies about subversion of HIS mission, but has to make sure you know that he’s a victim, he’s (again!) been betrayed and tells his fans they are NOT supposed to listen to anyone saying anything not-less-than-glorification of him. The red herring fallacy mode of thinking comes out (appeal to accomplishment): I am good, therefore, they are “fucking wankers, dipshits”, and YOU are good, so you will believe me and agree that they are the enemy… and he never leaves out his famous “some of them are paid”.

(Side note here, this blog has often been critical of Ken, of his failed “missions”, of his lies and exaggerations and scams. We’ve been accused of being paid for writing what we do about Ken. Could Ken kindly tell us who is paying so we can collect? We too have a “necessity for the truth” and would like to have some money for speaking the truth so, if there is somebody paying, tell us who! Could he name ONE person being paid and by whom? No, we didn’t think so either.)

Now, back to the cult leader’s video: the mission is above himself, he has saved it from subversion, which he admits ALWAYS happens to his missions (rather than asking himself if there is a reason all his missions fail he introduces the subversives among my ranks canard). Then he talks a lot about the TJP Silver Coin… for a guy talking about the evil banks, he sure is hung up on money and coins. He announces that he might sell more of them to make (more) money for himself.

Finally, at 8’45” into the video he says people are waiting with baited breath for the launch of the mission. Well… (are you ready?!)

There will be another video announcement in a few months or maybe even in the winter.

There you go! That met the necessities of the followers to know what all this money and stuff was going for.

Until then, he praises the Brexit and says that he truly believes in his solution, that he is never going to let go of it and thanks people for being dedicated to him and the mission.

Satisfied? Of course his fans are. They praise this amazing video because I am sure they were all so worried about their perks, decrees and TJP Silver Coins (those go to the folks who shelled out $250), evidently the Mission is just a detail.

Was there a voice of dissent? As usual, the sheep baaaa their praise, but one person had a few interesting questions:

tjp pound 1

tjp pound 2

tjp pound 3

yeah, indeed.

Ken showing just some of the skin decoration he has. Of coure tattoos are invasive and of course they are not always safe, but health issues don't need to be consistent. Please note the T Shirt advertising his "investment" that raised money for Gaza, but vanished into the thin air.. anyone ever see the Ferry to Gaza? Any donors get their money back? I thought not.

Ken showing just some of the skin decoration he has. Of course tattoos are invasive and of course they are not always safe, but health issues don’t need to be consistent. Please note the T Shirt advertising his “investment” that raised money for Gaza, but vanished into the thin air.. anyone ever see the Ferry to Gaza? Any donors (cough cough, I meant INVESTORS) get their money back? I thought not.

Ken O’Keefe is a man who don’t take no one telling him what to do! After arriving in a country he hates (the USA) in order to participate in a conference in Mexico and do local talks in the LA area, he found out that at LAX there are mandatory whole body scans when one boards a flight. The full body scans have been the source of a lot of controversy, mainly due to privacy issues, but his issue with them is that they put stuff in his body – and he doesn’t want that. Yes. The guy who subjected his body to injections of ink in almost every visible part is freaking out (this is putting it lightly) about having to be like everyone else and submit to the waves that pass through his body to produce the image adopted for assessing concealed items on passengers, devised for security purposes and to substitute in most cases the metal detector and the full pat-down.

But, let’s reflect upon a few claims Ken makes in his Tourettes-inspired video. Exhibiting his unique ability to put “the F word” in all possible contexts, his coprolalia is meant to impress, since it is going to be “broadcast” and is supposed to make him look like a tough guy who takes no shit, but instead just makes him look like he’s having an awfully hard time keeping the histrionics out of his discourse, as usual. And again, as usual, he burnishes his “hero” persona in front of his outstretched arm and uses it to define the rest of the argument. Although, every time he paints himself as a hero, he goes into an incredibly annoying and undignified whine that sounds like he’s laying the victim thing on strong.

According to Ken, he is followed everywhere he goes by airport security, (as if suggesting he is on a no-fly list). It’s clear he isn’t on a no-fly list, because he would have flown out of LAX if only he spent his 15 seconds, (like the common passenger and the celebrity alike) is required to do simply by going through the scan box. He insists he opted out, subjecting himself (as he admits in his own colourful way) to a truly invasive and time-consuming and possibly humiliating full pat-down, but STILL, since he was on some special list, has to go through the scan and (dammit!) he shouldn’t have to do anything he doesn’t want to do! What is this special list he talks about?

Ken obtaining the "Key to Gaza" along with the symbolic passport. If you don't want to be seen as having any connection with someone in charge of what the US considers an FTO, you don't take your picture with them. Or else, you stop acting surprised that "they know" and have you on a "list".

Ken obtaining the “Key to Gaza” along with the symbolic passport. If you don’t want to be seen as having any connection with someone in charge of what the US considers an FTO, you don’t take your picture with them. Or else, you stop acting surprised that “they know” and have you on a “list”.

According to Ken, given that he was on the Mavi Marmara that was attacked by Israeli commandos as it was heading a flotilla to Gaza, he has been classified by Israel as “Terrorist operative of Hamas”. No one is denying the insanity of Israel to define anyone they want to as a terrorist operative, but let’s look at facts: in 2008 Ken O’Keefe entered Gaza on one of the boats of the Free Gaza Movement, and every passenger on those boats was granted an “honorary Palestinian passport” and was welcomed by the party that was governing Gaza, i.e., Hamas, and photographed next to Haniyeh. Ken of course should KNOW that in the USA Hamas is still on the FTO list (Foreign Terrorist Organisations). If someone met with a Hamas leader, that doesn’t even mean affiliation, much less being part of the group, but it certainly is going to be noted by immigration for a person who boasts about it as much as Ken O’Keefe does, and that means that he’s going to probably have to go through a body scan if he wants to travel in an airport where they are mandatory! No one arrested Ken, they merely informed him that he had to go through what 99% of the travellers at that airport go through on any given day, and if he didn’t have a choice to opt out, he simply would not be allowed to board the plane, probably on someone else’s dime anyway!! Cuz that’s how Ken ROLLS!

What is unusual, of course, is his that his protesting being subjected the scan has  nothing to do with privacy but with the refusal that his body be subjected to the waves produced by the scanner. It’s a health issue, as well as being forced to do something he doesn’t want, which is a Mommy issue. Many millions of people who actually DO have health issues wilfully and gladly subject themselves to these imaging devices for much longer periods of time in order to diagnose situations within their body. The safety of the devices of course can be an issue for someone, why not? But it’s merely comical coming from the illustrated man! We all KNOW how safe tattoos are, don’t we? He drags into his victim spiel also the “sons and daughters” of America who served as soldiers overseas, like he did. It could very well be that Marines have been used as subjects (without their knowledge) in coercive chemical/biological tests, but frankly, what’s that actually got to do with his actual complaint about the body scan and why does he start in on vaccines in the midst of this rant? It’s as if he’s just so MAD, he’s complaining about everything that pops into his head. Soon we might be hearing he had too many lumps in his oatmeal as a child, because KEN FORGETS NOTHING AND KEN FORGIVES NOTHING!

But one little thing to be clear on is that Ken has a strange sense of entitlement. He claims to be a Palestinian, which is untrue. Just because he has a diplomatic passport given to him in 2008, it turns out it is purely symbolic and does not confer citizenship rights or even travel rights. As Amira Hass points out:

Some of the participants were evidently unaware of the fact that there is no such thing as “Palestinian citizenship,” since there is no Palestinian state, and that receipt of a Palestinian passport would therefore not confer such citizenship. Nor would such a document actually allow its holder to enter the West Bank or Gaza, since Israel, the occupying power, still determines who is permitted to become a “new” resident of these areas.

Hamas granted “diplomatic passports” to participants of the first three flotillas to Gaza, in the summer of 2008, but the holders later discovered the documents had no value beyond the symbolic. Three years ago, the PA issued a Palestinian passport to Israeli conductor and pianist Daniel Barenboim as a gesture of appreciation, but this document, too, had only symbolic value.

So, Ken has a habit of stretching the truth a little bit and whining a whole lot. If he were truly Palestinian, he might not feel so damned entitled all the time, as if anyone daring to question him or make him go through clearance does it as a personal issue, all against him. Right or wrong, Ken feels so privileged he doesn’t bother to empathise with the millions who are subjected to daily checkpoints in their own country and in violation of their human rights… it’s all about HIM! Good thing for him he has a lot of people who don’t bother to fact check, don’t get irritated by his unbridled western white male privilege nor do they use some critical thinking whenever hearing his long-winded complaints and his “telling it like it is”. As long as he has his loyal following who believe he is going to “stop the endless cycle of war” by paying him to do so, “he’s good”!

428097_262703293816760_2024946056_nKen O’Keefe has followed in the great tradition of many cult leaders or conmen, (which are basically often the same thing). He has to make the public see him as an outsider who broke from the masses by suddenly having seen the light, and then HE is going to get you to also “think out of the box” as he leads you to Truth. But first you have to just TRUST him… oh, yes, and finance his projects. That’s always the important part! Others pay for him to be “free”. He’s worth it!

His latest scheme is … well…. We don’t know exactly what it is, and oddly enough, neither do his fans and supporters. They have to TRUST him and just shut up and send the money because this plan is just so… so EARTH-SHATTERING that he could be KILLED for revealing it. Ooooh, the DRAMA!

Message on Facebook from a supporter when unwilling to respond to direct questions about his Indiegogo money collecting page:

For those of you who would like more information on what we are proposing and the strategy involved, a note from Ken O’Keefe…

“What can be said about the strategy has been said quite clearly, we are going to employ a method of lawfully, peacefully removing ourselves from the obligation to fund war. The details of the strategy will not be released however, unless I am harmed or killed or have an “accident” or we get the funding, so only the crux of the strategy can be released now, and this is done for valid strategic reasons. I fully accept that some will not donate because of this limited information, but it does not change the fact that it is the wisest path for us to take. Put it this way, does a warrior advertise the method of his attack before he attacks? The answer to that question reveals why we cannot wisely release the details of the strategy before we have the resources to initiate the mission and critically, to defend it. People who respectfully acknowledge this wisdom of this decision I respect wholeheartedly. People who DEMAND to know the details right now, when it would be incredibly stupid for us to do so, that I have no respect for.

The bottom line is we do not start this mission without the money or me getting hurt or killed, the latter being particularly unfortunate for me so let us just get the money. TJP”

Got it? It’s really clear as mud, but it HAS TO BE!

Ken O'Keefe with other characters of this story, Max Igan and David Icke

Ken O’Keefe with other characters of this story, Max Igan and David Icke

But Ken is NOT alone, he is just ONE WORLD CITIZEN. One of the other organisers, Max Igan (is: “a researcher, truth seeker, radio host, film-maker and one of the leaders of global awakening movement. This man is a must listen to for all those serious about stopping the NWO in its tracks. His real given name remains anonymous and his second name is Maxwell. His last name also remains anonymous. He lives in Queensland, Australia and at the time of June 2012 he was 54 years old” – taken from a fan site) wrote this to promote the incredible project and “explain” what it is:

O’Keefe is working on a legal, lawful framework to be able to checkmate the Government cronies from within their own legal fiction and provide a platform whereby support for war essentially becomes illegal. It is only one initiative been launched by one man from one idea, but I believe it may be an idea whose time has come and I fully support Ken O’Keefe’s World Citizen initiative because I truly believe that if enough people get involved, it will indeed stop the system in its tracks by using a language average people can understand to legally and lawfully implement an initiative that everyone wants. Namely, an end to all war.

Ultimately whatever the remedy turns out to be, nothing will ever work until we are prepared to face the stark and obvious truth, that all that exists here within our civilization is people, and we as a species are allowing people we entrust with positions of management to wage endless wars, destroy and pollute our habitats and strip us of our rights, our dignity and our freedom, simply because they write things down on paper and call it “law”. It is time we created and implemented the means to peacefully, lawfully and effectively remove ourselves from this farce, and to hold those responsible for it accountable for their actions. Should we fail to rise to this occasion and do so, then the responsibility for this mess lies with ourselves alone.”

Again, clear as mud!

kok indie 24There are many, many requests for the money. It’s posted and shared thousands of times, and it even has so far gotten a huge amount of donations from 650 people:

They also get exclusive prizes like a World Citizen Decree, but they have to pay the shipping themselves!

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Some of Ken’s begging looks like this:

Seeking the Better World in 2016

Aloha brothers & sisters,

First off to those I have neglected to stay in touch with as friends and family should, please forgive me, it is not for a lack of love or respect, I hope we will see or talk to each other soon.

I am sure many if not most of you can see the incredible pace with which this world is moving, and it should be noted that this is in positive and negative ways, not just the latter. It truly is remarkable and unprecedented if you ask me and I remain realistically optimistic about our prospects for creating a better world in 2016. But I am also fully aware that our world is fraught with danger and the ever present possibility of full scale World War III looms; and it is with that perspective I finally launched something that I truly believe will change the world… if only WE get this mission to the full launch stage in the next 3 months or so. And so it is I write this appeal to you with a most sincere Happy New Year’s wish to all of you and your families and loved ones, with a 100% commitment to do my part to make 2016 the breakout year for a better world.

While I really despise asking for money, I will ask your support in this mission and also request that you share the link below with everyone you can.

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/world-citizen-solutions#/

Thank you again and all the best in this new year.

TJP (Truth Justice Peace)

And then Ken gets a little pushier, and also explains that he has to pay all the key people, including himself. This is very, very important that he does not lose any money on any of this saving the world stuff.

Ken O’Keefe with Trevor Labonte and 91 others.

25 December 2015 at 08:38 ·

I want to wish everyone a lovely Christmas Day and thank everyone from the bottom of my heart for the love and support and generosity in giving to the world citizen mission. I truly accept whatever happens in this crowdfunding campaign, all that is important is that I do my best. If it succeeds we go forward, if it does not then it won’t. I have worked with “volunteers” and lost control of great missions because of a lack of finance to pay people to do quality world changing work. This time I operate with the money to pay all key people, including myself, or it ain’t happening. I see that there are some attacks occuring and I always expected this and it truly does not phase me in the least, been there done that. So on this Christmas Day I send love and respect to my genuine friends and wish all the best fo the tortured souls who find solace in slander/libel. That is a painful place to be and I truly feel sorry for such people. Let love be your guide and you will not operate in such a way.

I provide the link once again to give and will do so repeatedly until the end of the campaign or the beginning. TJP

Let’s look at the actual begging for money in its entirety to get a better idea of what someone is being asked to finance (spelling and grammatical errors in the original):

“Humanity’s challenge at this decisive point in history is to face a monster that is desperately attempting to expand it’s tyrannical system of human enslavement. Simultaneously human consciousness is growing with unparalleled expansion and this is a grave threat to the tyrants. Only one of these forces, humanity or tyranny, can succeed and the world we handover to our children and future generations will be defined by our success or failure in this regard. The irony is that the tyrants have no power but that which we have unwittingly relinquished to them… in order to create a better world we simply need to take our power back. That is my ultimate goal; a better world. My wisdom in this matter comes from the knowledge that the attainment of this goal is not up to me, it is up to us.”

Ken O’Keefe, Nov. 2015

Finally you can create real and lasting change!  You, as an individual, can positively impact and influence all of humanity, not just for now but for all future generations. We are excited to introduce the pre-launch for the world citizen solution, a no compromise yet peaceful and lawful way to extract ourselves from tax obligations that literally make us accomplices to perpetual war.  Or in other words, financiers of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

We are 100% entirely dedicated to ending the perpetual cycle of war and ushering in a lasting era of justice and peace. The success of this Indiegogo Campaign will ensure that by March 2016 you will be part of something ‘game changing’.

Ken O’Keefe and his team are currently developing a legal and social strategic initiative that will have profound effects on releasing humanity from its current paradigm. It’s time to stand up for what you know is right. It’s time for your voice to be heard. The time is now.

Stand for those who have no voice, for those who are set to inherit what we leave behind, for our children and their children. Make a stand for real peace and real transformation. Be part of this growing movement of change and ensure a peaceful future for those you love.

Funds raised for this project will be allocated for the following:

–  Legal documentation and support
–  Copywriting
–  Website development
–  Staff costs
–  PR / Media / Branding
–  Video / Editing
–  Administration Costs

Our dedicated team and the contracted individuals involved will be paid for their time while spearheading this initiative. Such a solutions focused project requires complete and confidential commitment and we are proud to support our team members with monetary appreciation for their time, effort and skills.

Should we not meet the required funding target we will not proceed with the project and allocate funds to the parties involved for their time and the remainder to a nominated charitable organisation.

It is our conviction that success will bring forth a highly effective and robust, revolutionary strategy ready for immediate implementation. This strategy will enable the good people of the earth to break free from the control systems we have unwittingly submitted to. This will result in the cessation of mass murder due to war and ongoing world conflicts.

Such an endeavour does not come without its risks and challenges, aspects we are not ignorant to and will do our best to overcome. The greatest challenge at this birthing stage of the project is exposure and funding. This is where we need you!

If you resonate with this project, are tired of the never ending cycle of war and want a better world for your children then please SHARE this with your friends, family and acquaintances.

Your donation, your time and your efforts to share and broadcast our mission across the world is symbolic of so many of the great leaders before you. Make your mark and be part of the movement. We are inviting you to join us, by challenging the existing concept of social responsibility, to create genuine security through justice with a real and lasting peace on earth.

As with all great endeavours, it is the follow through and commitment of those involved that will define success or failure.  But arguably the most critical elements of all with such a potentially world changing mission is that of timing and presentation.  The question of timing is critical and it is our position that we are indeed at that time in history wherein billions of people around the globe are completely opposed to war and genuinely seeking a way to end this madness.

(end)

There… understand now? It’s just about not paying taxes, and a few of his friends took that up with him, as it is not a new or original idea. The following discussion is from a public post on Facebook.

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Steve Lewis The solution he is proposing is Lawful Rebellion. Withhold all taxes.

Tahra Ahmed Hahaha. That solution has been around for years. There are already many groups promoting that. So what is so top secret about this?

Tahra Ahmed Steve I am very well aware of Lawful Rebellion. Indeed it was I who introduced Ken to the concept for the first time when I had him as my key speaker at my Seek Speak Spread Truth Conference over 2 years ago. I was also going to have David Messenger of Practical Lawful Rebellion speak but he couldn’t make it . However his details remaineeded on my website so Ken was interested to find out more and I discussed it with him.

Steve Lewis Interesting. I do have to say I am only guessing it’s LR or some form of global tax rebellion having listened very carefully to what he says. He does mention it very briefly. The whole thing does seem ill thought out and, well, rushed. Possibly deliberate simply to cause exactly this kind of debate and questioning. Perhaps a little like those single word or phrase advertising campaigns we occasionally see which arouses curiosity until we find out what it’s all about.

Or perhaps I’m just making excuses as I could not bear the fact that he may have sold out. There are many hideous double bluffs out there after all.

Tahra Ahmed posted the following, basically concerned about others involved in the project: “The New Age / Spiritual New Age Movement has been completely infiltrated, created, managed and corrupted by a network of handlers, intelligence agencies, gangsters and criminals to gather information, gain access to and manipulate claims to the collateral accounts and ownership of titles, trusts, investments, UN grants, funds, accounts and technology on behalf of the Vatican and Rothschild and fraudulent banking families.

It seems fitting that he recently ratified (ITNJ) International Tribunal for Natural Justice is set up and chaired by Sacha Stone. How and when does he sleep?”

Well said Patrick Soddoff.

My question is how do two of the Alternative Media’s biggest names ‘Ken O’Keefe and Max Igan become thick as theives with the likes of this narcissistic ego Sacha Stone of the Agenda 21 Transhumanism promoting NEN?

Apparently they have all come up with a world solution in taking on the private Banking cartel. And they have set up a Go Fund Me account for which Ken is very busily asking for money. But this is the strangest thing of all – the detailsof the solution are all top secret! Eeer but I thought it was because of SECRET societies, which have created the cancer of corruption, that the world is in the chaos it Is in right now!

But wait. It gets even stranger…… people are actually donating! For something they have no knowledge about.

I have been asking both Max Igan and Ken O’Keefe for an explanation since yesterday but have not heard anything back from either. Please see my comments for a full list of questions.”

So…. Tahra Ahmed started asking Ken and Max some questions, which have since been removed from Facebook (see below) and was dealt with in the standard way that anyone is who asks for transparency and explanations for where people’s money is going, the persons involved and what they are going to do, since we are not talking about feeding the hungry, clothing the poor or putting the roof over the head of a refugee. She was attacked. But in the KOK world, even among those who are his supporters, it gets morphed into “haters gonna hate”. I  myself begin to feel sorry for the poor truthers who can’t get no truth from fellow truthers who ask them to TRUST!!!!

Max Igan wow, working on the ‘secret solution’ were we?…. damn, and I thought we were all just gathered to get a pic together by the gate while we were all in the one spot….. Im glad you were there to clear up what we we ‘actually’ doing in this pic….. but wait…. you weren’t there at all were you…. you just thought it would be a good way to attack someone who has defended you, supported you, gone out on a limb and copped abuse for you…. nice….. lying little turncoat that you are Tahra…. you could have asked either of us about this before launching your hate campaign… all you have proven to the world is how self absorbed and spiritually bankrupt you are and how little you require to fabricate a story…. totally disgusted with you

Tahra Ahmed And guys I know I am pretty fierce and fearless. But I am sure there are at least a few of you who can stand with me in asking questions to get to the TRUTH. After all that is what is most sacred to us Truth Seekers.

Ken responded with his usual anger in the way cult leaders will do, diguised as “feeling sorry for this sad individual” and claims that his very life is in danger:

Ken O’Keefe I have been in the so-called activist scene for so long that I have witnessed and experienced the sort of backbiting and smearing that Tahra is exhibiting over and over and over. One of the things that is truly remarkable is how people who have done little all too often mouth off and talk shit and sit in judgement of those who actually do physical, tangible work. “Thick as thieves”, what an interesting way to describe me and brother Max Igan, by a woman who sits in judgement because she apparently wishes to play God. I feel sorry for this sad individual, truly I do.

I do not know what questions she has asked because I have not been online for a couple of days and have yet to see any communications from her. But the only one I reckon that merits a reply is with regard to the lack of details as to the strategy. The are very solid reasons for this, and as the plan requires serious tactical execution, I will not compromise the strategy because Tahra so and so wishes to play God. The crux of the plan is to peacefully, lawfully remove ourselves from the obligation we currently have to pay for mass-murder. A sort of “Not in my name” for real kind of thing. If you do not think that is enough for you to support, then do not support. I respect that, but sniping and playing God merits no attention beyond what I have written here.

For those who think my record is sufficient to merit trust, please give and rest assured this plan is world changing. And as for strategy, if anything happens to me, such as me going to jail or having an “accident”, the entire strategy will be revealed and in death if necessary, the mission will happen. TJP Bona Dea

Tahra Ahmed Dear All Inc ‘Ken O’Keefe and Max Igan, I am saddened that my asking some very pertinent questions on Ken’s idea has resulted in quite vitriolic attacks on me personally. I am sad because I have a lot of respect for both Ken and Max on a professional level and love them as fellow passionate, activist brothers. No where have I cast assertions on their good character. At no time have I been disrespectful to either. Not even when they have used particularly offensive and personal language against me.

All I have asked are a few pertinent questions. Am I really being a “paranoid backstabbing” blah blah because I don’t trust blindly?

And the only person that I have real concerns about is Sacha Stone. I have given my reasons for this.

My post stems from protecting ken and Max from him. And ultimately protecting our movement. Ken is probably our best man for the job of uniting our movement and so he will be targeted by the cabal. And we must be vigilant of such infiltrators.

We all need to pull together and be prepared to be held to account at all times. For our own protection! And we need to always be fully transparent. So I will not back down from asking questions. That is what makes me a Truth Seeker. So why should I stop now?

I would love to give this project my backing. I have been call for us to unite for over two years. And first I must have my questions answered.

Tahra Ahmed Max Igan what has been particularly shocking is the extreme venom you have first directed towards me and then Bob. I have never heard you be so angry, foul mouthed and vile about the evil satanic IsraelI Jews when they have been butchering and bombing and torturing the brave and beautiful innocent souls in Palestine. It’s been very disturbing to know that your hate and venom for us is more than for those devils. So why is that? Usually people lash out like this when they are cornered and exposed.

I still hope this is not the reason why you ‘Ken O’Keefe and Patrick Soddoff are behaving in such a way. I hope that it’s bcos you genuinely blv that Kens idea is great and you are lashing out bcos you don’t want it to be derailed,

So if the latter is the case then I respectfully urge you all to be TRANSPARENT about

  1. the idea,
  2. about the breakdown of the budget and how much each item on Ken’s list will cost and
  3. about the structure of showing the financial accounts.

Our main concern is that we do not have a repeat of the financial theft and fraud of the hard earned money of the good folk who are so desperate for a solution..

This is the main concern. Can you appreciate that it is a very reasonable concern especially after the disgusting fiasco of how TPV turned out to be another financial fleecing scam?

Max Igan no Tahra, what has been the most shocking is your lies and fabrication of bullshit in order to undermine this initiative and big note yourself…. My tolernce level for liars who fabricate bullshit about myself or my friends is at an all time low….. all I can feel for you and your spiritually bankrupt actions is pity and disgust

 

Yes, they often respond to those who ask for transparency that they Pity them, after thy of course insult them and call them liars.

Not content to be left out, the person who fabricated the promotional video joined in, insisting on the cult of secrecy and asking why something was even being questioned:

Patrick Soddoff Tahra, when you wrote these words… “My post stems from protecting ken and Max from him. And ultimately protecting our movement.” I would imagine you wrote them because you cared.

When I have a good friend who I see heading for trouble, I privately contact them, explain my concerns and see how things develop, keeping an eye on the situation at all times.

By your own words you “trolled him” incessantly, and very publicly, to the point of harassment. I will not bother quoting each and every post you cast aspersions directly at Ken on, but go back and look at how you presented yourself. Not even the most arcane among us could possibly construe this treatment as rational, or caring for someone you love and respect. Not by a long shot. It was openly hostile.

I too offered you some insight privately, trying to head off what I construed as the beginning of your diatribe, but you refused, telling me that you wanted transparency, so you were going to pursue this in a public forum, claiming “insight” as your guide.

Ken has spilled his own blood giving his support to several causes and has been a fearless warrior for change for a long time, probably back when you were still a schoolgirl, and I find it appalling that you would step up to the bitchy level with such gusto when you self admittedly say you have no idea what it’s about. It’s hardly the course of action one would expect from a friend who loves and trusts you.

If you and your group refuse to participate in his initiative, all well and good, but trying to poison the well in the manner you displayed only causes the very division you say you are concerned about.

Tahra Ahmed Patrick my trolling consisted of copy and pasting my list of questions in reply to about 5/6 comments as well as in the comments of the post Ken tagged me on. So me thinks you are running away with your imagination when you refer to “each and every post” . It was only one post. And bcos of the respect I have held him in, it is still just the one post. Not hostile. Just persistent. Not an iota of diatribe against Ken or Max. Just shock and disgust at their even associating with the likes of Sacha even in the minimum of ways! And huge concerns for the wellbeing of any world solution with that snake slithering around. And admittedly where my angry undertones towards Ken and Max were coming from was at their terrible judgment in having him actually endorse this project. This does raise huge concerns in me about Ken and Max for the first time. Not for their intention. But their judgment.

With regards to your offer to disclose to me the contents of Ken’s “highly embargoed” project, I was shocked at your lack of integrity in offering to show me something that you had given your word to Ken to keep secret. I am a stand for complete integrity and transparency. I don’t want to be part of a secret hierarchy who have all the information. That is exactly the vile belief that has been so destructive to humanity. How could I demand transparency and openness of ken and then be privy to a secret little society?

(end)

But what about the money…. A few people ask about it:

Selene Woods So what happens to the money already donated…if this appeal does not reach its target?

If the money can not be returned…and theres only 17days left on the appeal….with only a quarter of the overall amount raised…..what is really going to be done with £30, 000 to stop war?

Bona Dea Hi Selene, I believe the money is being returned if target is not reached… if target is reached all necesary will be employed to make worldcitizen.solutions idea into a reality and i believe once launched it will be a gamechanger… but ideas dont just magically manifest without funding – many projects are injected with hundreds of thousands or millions with no promise of transparency or duty to create a better world… so i gave what i could financially and am putting in a lot of time and energy to spread the word so i know in my heart i did *something*

There are even some who don’t care if it’s a scam. They like Ken, that’s enough. That his previous projects have never had any success doesn’t seem to occur to them.

Sam Spruce I know quite a bit about Ken O’Keefe and I support this project because he is behind it. If it fails it fails. If it’s a scam then I’ve been scammed. But the failure will be extremely small scale. If it comes to something it will be significant and for me, given Ken’s record to date, it is one of the few initiatives I will lend my efforts to. Just sayin’ like. wink emoticon

but, friends, let’s just assume the money will be returned, because the Facebook page states this (and don’t miss the heart going into the open hand, but they want stuff you can put in the bank:

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Then other doubts begin to emerge, (the previously expressed one about Sacha Stone and his pro Agenda 21 campaigning and NGO), but this one is particularly interesting, because the truthers are concerned about another fleecing:

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the two million dollar scam of David Icke and TVP . You can read about it from another one of the many who donated, in the article linked here and quoted below. http://beforeitsnews.com/banksters/2014/07/david-icke-responds-to-the-peoples-voice-2-million-dollar-scandal-2434760.html

“For those who are not up to speed, over the course of the last year or so, David Icke raised almost two million dollars for the People’s Voice Network. (I mistakenly said it was only 1 million on our show, so forgive me for underestimating the size of the scandal). The People’s Voice operated for about a month before another emergency fund raiser was put out, threatening to shut down the network. The people responded with even more of their hard-earned money and they were relieved of not only their money, but also their voice.

I knew this was a scam right off the bat, but I bit my tongue, smiled, and continued to be cordial to the people promoting it. How did I know it was a scam? Because I’ve built a network myself. While this network isn’t as elaborate as the People’s Voice wanted you to believe it was (even though it turned out to be nothing more than uploaded videos to Youtube or live streamed on their Youtube channel), I know what a thousand dollars buys, what ten thousand dollars buys and what two million dollars buys.”

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But wait! Ken lists as his “employer” TPV

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He had his own little show called Ken O’Keefe’s Middle East, where the argument was naturally…. 9/11

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BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE!!

Those who were questioning about where the money was going and why Ken was actually reinventing the wheel if all it is is HIS version of Legal Rebellion (not paying taxes, or picking your own personal “World Citizenship”, something that has existed since the early 1900s) noticed the photos from Bali. Yes… Ken and company had a business meeting in Bali and here is one of the souvenir photos:

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With a fun-packed thread that followed, truly a MUST read where you will see the suspicions not only about the campaign and those involved in it, but the extensive usage Ken makes of Illuminati symbolism: https://www.facebook.com/bobbie.brand.96/posts/1528164517482415

In which we find these gems where Ken’s minions reported her questions enough to get them removed:

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Among those pictured with Ken O’Keefe (not his real name), the above-mentioned Max Igen (not his real name), Sacha Stone (not his real name), are a few new-age and global awareness “activists” and a Life Coach / Liz Taylor impersonator named Samantha Bachman. Who is she? I had to look her up because I’m not that familiar with the new age scene, but know it revolves around sales.

I found her website where there is a manifesto that ends with the line:

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Quite.

You can clearly see that for someone who puts her picture on her site where she holds her book next to the king of cheap flights, her own services don’t come cheap:

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But she’s worth it, she’s got a PhD in “metaphysics”. Never mentions from where though. Looking it up in internet, you can get most of them through home learning, and you too can become a life coach.

Also in the gang are persons named Deanna Amato and Sean ADL Tabatabai, who raised funds for the 2 million dollar scandal of TPV, and one of the donors to that fundraiser is NONE too happy:

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T

The fans are not at all happy, at least, the Truthers are raising some red flags:

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There is one last thing though: Ken doesn’t only appeal to Truthers and New Age followers. His main base he has chosen as those in the Palestinian campaign. While he doesn’t have that many Palestinians that interact with him, that doesn’t seem to bother him. He knows all about the situation and he has explained it in his own take on History, which I will call “The One World Citizen (Final) Solution”. All you need to do is to read his last Facebook wallpost. While he’s still asking for support and money, he’s also promoting films that stress that Hitler was not so bad, that he was misunderstood, and he puts a link up and asks persons to watch endless episodes of “Adolf Hitler: The Greatest Story Never Told” and some  video by a woman who wrote that: Adolf Hitler was “just not to be understood from the believed Holocaust or his alleged war obsession, but only by a divine mission in the world-historical context.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ursula_Haverbeck

Check out the screenshots, and lose no time to pay into the ONE WORLD CITIZEN (FINAL) SOLUTION

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Now, since this blog is very concerned about war, and not just in words, we feel it is important that you know Ken’s position on the Refugee issue and in particular, the war in Syria. Watch this video (and if you can bear the over-wrought gesturing) see for yourself that Mr Ken O’Keefe pulls out the standard lines used in the mainstream media that there is no uprising, there is no revolution, there is no tyranny, there is just Wahabi-inspired terrorism of ISIS and that is what the Syrians are fleeing. You will see him state that the Syrian war is “our problem, we created it” and that the people are fleeing from ISIS, while Assad is instead an independent leader who has just gotten a lot of bad press… Sounds like how he feels about Hitler, doesn’t it. Ken O’Keefe is a genocide denier. Throw your money at him!

101677e1441761633o6071WRITTEN BY Mary Rizzo

There are various moments / instances involved in the act of participation in discussions/debates

  • Launching the argument (starting the discourse)
  • Entering into a discussion that is already in course
  • Leaving a discussion (or closing a discussion)

For each of these, there are factors to consider: among which

  • Who is the interlocutor
  • Who is the listening public
  • Preparation of the participants
  • Preparation of the public – present at public events, broadcasts (real) or / Internet, Facebook, comments on articles (virtual)
  • Expectations of the public

Therefore, it is essential to know three things:

  • One’s own level of preparation and that of the interlocutor,
  • Determine the interest that the public has to follow your reasoning (and therefore, to adapt yourself, if necessary, to the climate of the debate and to the new elements that have emerged during the debate),
  • Know exactly what you hope to obtain and also that which you are unwilling to compromise on in terms or conclusion. The public often determines a “winner” of a debate. This is true even regarding interventions that do not include rebuttals, because the listener evaluates whether or not his or her own position has changed as a result of what the speaker has said.

Regarding our own preparedness, we are personally responsible, therefore, we have to keep well-informed of the arguments to handle, do our research, have an archive of facts and information that are easily accessible to us. We also have to be clear and convincing in our presentation of the information. We thus have to believe in what we are saying and also be able to support it with arguments based on reason, logic, supported by data that is as recent, reliable and convincing as possible.

In consideration of the level of preparation of the interlocutor, we also must do our research. Often, it is a person who has expressed his or her positions publicly, therefore, before the encounter, it is necessary to prepare ourselves on the arguments of this person. This means that we should know not only the probable content of her or her interventions, but also the sources he or she uses, the communication style, if in the past he or she has obtained something for supporting a position (we must not forget that almost all of the Assad supporters in Italy and Europe have been guests of the regime in Damascus or they have been paid or remunerated for their interventions, articles and sites in Europe). We have to mentally anticipate the discourse of the interlocutor, know his or her sources and their reliability, and we have to understand where he or she wants to bring the argument, as well as where he or she does not want to be brought by us.

The climate of the debate could also be determined by the moderator, or when there is no moderator, by the persons on the discussion panel. At times the public could also influence the climate, particularly when the debate begins to get heated or during the Q & A. Each interlocutor always tries to have the public on its side, and therefore has to always be aware of the signals it is sending. Sometimes it is possible to know if the public is sympathetic, hostile or neutral. If one does not know, it is a good policy to assume that it is sympathetic, but not too much. The approach in this case is to explain / define some lesser-known points, but assuming that the public has basic notions and also has already formed an opinion. It is also correct to assume that your values and the values of the public are specular or similar. It is a good policy to anticipate (mentally) the questions and the worries of the public and to satisfy their need to obtain answers that are honest, concise and correct. If, during the debate, one finds oneself on the defensive, it is preferable to acts as if the public were neutral and in this case, rather than be argumentative or assuming a defensive attitude (which is not appealing to anyone), it is necessary to take a step back and explain basic concepts in which a common ground can be found once more. In this case, it is also a good practise to assume that the public is in good faith, just as you are in good faith, but only that it does not have some necessary information. Your task is to provide the information they are lacking.

Instances of discussions:  

Launch: When one begins a discourse, it should be clear what he or she hopes to obtain, but it should also be clear to the public. Therefore, decide and express immediately if it is an informational meeting, if the public will be involved in some way, if some kinds of  actions are being asked of them, if there is also going to be the presence and participation of persons with opinions that are in conflict with their own (debate), etc.

The introduction (prior to opening the participation in the debate to others) should also incorporate the point or points that are going to be addressed. It is an ACTION THAT PROPOSES AND SHOULD NOT BE REACTIVE.  It also should not anticipate conflicting opinions (which could emerge during the debate). It is important that if we are the ones to launch the discussion, the evolution of the discussion follows specific paths that we are the ones to direct. Therefore, we have to use the concept of “framing the discourse”, in which we do not allow that the argument is changed into a different argument,  we should avoid becoming distracted or brought too far away from our theme, we should not lose control and ownership of the discourse. Every time it becomes necessary, we have to know how to bring the discourse back on track. In these moments, the adversary could attempt to use various “derailment” strategies, trying to not allow us to conclude our line of reasoning, and to make us feel frustrated. It is important to NOT become frustrated, to not lose patience, but to communicate in a clear and reasonable way that the argument is going to get back on track now. Often we find that the adversary uses “argumentative or logical fallacies” which are violations of the rules of critical discourse, when he or she is unsuccessful in taking down an argument based on merit of logic of with facts. A fundamental resource of the discipline of Pragmatics and with helpful suggestions for persons engaged in public debates is the Journal of Pragmatics: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/journal/03782166

In conclusion, if you are launching the discourse, REMAIN THE OWNER OF THE DISCOURSE.

Argument already begun: This is generally the case during events when you are on the panel but have not organised the event, when you are in the public and have asked a question or “challenge” one of the interlocutors during the Q & A, when you are participating in a radio or television broadcast, when you participate in discussion groups in Internet, when you respond to comments in articles in newspapers or on sites.

Differently from the first instance, you are more REACTIVE and are responding to the points already expressed by others. Your form of response in general would be one of demonstrating the errors (or reasoning, source, data) of the information that’s been presented, or, if it is not a contrasting opinion, but only one that is not complete, to complement the intervention with further information.

It is always important to not deviate from the theme, or you actually CAN deviate the discourse of the others as long as it is logical and correct, but NEVER violating the rules of discussion. Always avoid fallacies: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_fallacies

Leaving a discussion or closing a discussion:  If it is an event that we or others have organised, the time limit has generally been established, and we should keep the discussion always within those temporal limits. The organiser has to always advise the public that the event is coming to its closure at around fifteen minutes prior to the end, and during this time will also try to express a conclusion or, if possible, to have the final word. If you are responsible for concluding the meeting, it has to be closed in a climate that is pacific, calm and conciliatory, even if during the event there has been heated debate. Never leave the public with the sensation that you are argumentative and quarrelsome or that you hold grudges. It is equally important to avoid using expressions that are exasperated or excessive.

If it is a virtual intervention, (that is, without a known time limit or the need to bring it to a conclusion) we have to always consider if it is worthwhile to persevere or if it is more beneficial to leave the conversation. Elements to consider: number of participants, if others are influenced/can be persuaded by our intervention, how many colleagues we have to sustain us and contribute or whether we are alone against everyone.

In addition, we have to always keep in mind the type of public that is present, and to choose both the method and the arguments where we can find common ground. There are various ways to convince the public of the correctness of our argument, but it will be more effective if our language, the issues we focus on and our conclusions are easily assimilated. We should participate in debates where we can contribute in a positive way with our knowledge, and we also have to know the terrain in which we are not knowledgeable and to leave the space to colleagues who are more informed than we are or who have particular experiences and information that could reach the public. We have to be aware of our own limits and recognise the merits of others, asking them to contribute in our place when they could communicate the concepts better than we can.

Also in Italian in Le Voci Della Liberta

show_imgReport to the National Conference for Freedom in Syria – 10-11 October, Bologna, Italy

Mary Rizzo

Since the beginning of the revolution, the civil society, in Syria and in the world, has expressed its solidarity or condemnation by means of declarations that were then signed by organisations and individuals, often prominent ones. These declarations are intended to be distributed with the purposed of informing the public about positions regarding principles but also on the policies that are desired but not yet in force. Most of these statements are concentrated in particular periods. Many of them were issued on anniversaries such as 21 August, the anniversary of the massacre of Ghouta. Others were issued after what is perceived as an emergency such as recent arrivals in Europe with the Balkan route.

These declarations fall into different genres and are used for various purposes: short-term and immediate policy declarations, statements of terms to enter a phase of transition and political solution, declarations of long-term policies and recommendations for entities like states, international bodies or political groups.

In statements that express reference to immediate policies, the most frequent requests are for the free passage of humanitarian aid without the authorisation of the regime, which blocks the arrival of aid in areas not under their control, forcing activists and charities to tackle many risks to bring these relief goods, medicines, clothes and products for infants in the first place, to areas where there is need, and denying them any type of protection. The protection of civilians is articulated in particular with requests for humanitarian corridors but especially with the request for the establishment of a No Fly Zone. The request for a No Fly Zone which started already in 2012 by civil society in Syria, initially was only for parts of Syria under the constant bombardment of the regime, but last year this request has been extended (particularly from groups belonging to the left) to all parts of Syria, which is now also under aerial bombardment by the Coalition and more recently, Russia. In one of the statements, by Rethink, Rebuild Society, the request is extended to the British government to support the coalition in the American bombing of ISIS and to extend it to Iraq after the population has been moved to safe places.

The other request of an immediate nature is often directed to foreign countries, and has to do with the policy of management of refugees and expansion of Operation Triton for rescue in the Mediterranean.

manifesto_for_syria_2_740Among the declarations of a more immediate nature is the Manifesto for Syria, written by Syria Solidarity Movement and inspired by the demands of Planet Syria and The Syria Campaign (which includes The White Helmets), grouping more than 150 different groups in Syria and in the diaspora. It is divided into two different proposals, supported by an international campaign of petitions with the titles, “A No Fly Zone for Syria” and “Syrian Refugees Welcome Here”.

Among the statements that express a principled stand for the transition, those standing out are from Syria, in particular the document of the National Coalition for Revolutionary and Opposition Forces in April of 2013 and the Declaration of the Syrian Islamic Council issued a few days ago and called The Five Principles of the Revolution. Both documents (which in fact mirror every single declaration regarding the transition) pose as a principle priority the end of the Assad regime as a prerequisite for any political solution or international initiative. They also exclude the participation of close associates of Assad in the transitional phase and exclude them as part of the solution for Syria. However, the fight is not against the state but against the regime and therefore the structures and state institutions must be preserved and re-organised for the purpose of protecting the state and the people who worked for the State but who are not corrupt or guilty of crimes. The Coalition also includes in military and security personnel the people to protect.

CPMjOpPWoAAS3OVThe document of the Syrian Islamic Council, signed by 74 revolutionary formations and 52 high personalities indicates the other four principles: The dismantling of the security agencies affiliated with the regime; that all foreign forces must leave Syria; the preservation of the unity, territorial integrity and national identity; the refusal to share power based on sectarian criteria.

The Syrian Islamic Council, founded in 2013, consists of 128 delegates, 50 of which in the liberated areas, represents 40 leagues and religious committees that have grown especially in the Diaspora since 2011. It does not include the Islamic Front but consolidates a moderate Islamist axis inside the opposition. The Council has issued a fatwa against Isis in 2014 but also a Fatwa this June, which forbids enlistment in YPG or PKK, who are seen as sectarian forces.

The rejection of sectarianism is a dominant feature of all the statements, and is part of the “Core Values”, in particular the statements offering long-term policies insist that the core values should be integrated in any transition framework or constituent phase. The values ​​are those for which the revolution began in the first place: the desires of equality, rights, representation, freedom of expression, assembly, affiliation, religion, rights for minorities and women and just distribution of the wealth of the state.

A core value of all the statements is territorial integrity and rejection of divisions along ethnic or sectarian lines. The Syrians have always lived as one people and the division would cause great instability.

4dea0958f8d68b45113c0a797d9fa256A declaration of principles that is perhaps the most representative of the aspirations of the Syrian people is The Freedom Charter by the Foundation to Restore Equality and Education in Syria (FREE-Syria), a humanitarian organisation of civil society development founded by people involved with the LCC (Local Coordination Committees). The Freedom Charter, inspired by the South African Freedom Charter, a document of national unity, was based on tens of thousands of face-to-face interviews carried out by a team of more than one hundred activists coordinated by FREE-Syria and the LCC with Syrians in each governate of the country, asking what kind of society they desired to live in. The Charter however reflected the values ​​of the revolution, for a state based on equality, justice and freedom. Aspirations are included in a State based on the rule of law, in which leaders are elected by the people. An independent, sovereign state, within the current UN-recognised borders and that follows and obeys international conventions and treaties. That the assets of the country belong to all of Syria and the Syrian armed forces serve only to protect the borders of the nation and defend its sovereignty without interfering in political, economic or social issues. That courts are independent and not subject to the authority of other government agencies or the pressure of special interest groups. Education shall be free, compulsory and available to all.

Syria_Between_Dictatorship_and_ISISIt is followed by a section that lists the rights, the principles of equality and respect for all cultures and ethnic groups in Syria. The Freedom Charter represents the aspirations of the Syrians, but does not suggest how to achieve these results. Similar to it, but with more concrete proposals is the document called Policy Proposals for the UK, a lengthy document issued by Rethink Rebuild Society, signed by Syria Solidarity Movement, Scotland For Syria, Kurds House, Syrian Association of Yorkshire and Syrian Revolution Committee in Newcastle. It is based on the Core Values of almost all the documents cited so far, but also includes policy suggestions for the United Kingdom in order to help overcome the current situation and rebuild Syria’s future. In its twenty pages, beginning with a brief introduction to the situation and its history, it contains seven wide spectrum proposals and suggestions of policies and strategies for the government to use to implement the proposals.

The basis of the Rethink Rebuild document is for the protection of civilians both inside Syria and in exile. The first step is the establishment of a No Fly Zone over all of Syria followed by British intervention against ISIS extending also to Iraq.

It demands a unified and democratic Syria without Assad. Indeed, the second point mentions the strengthening of Syrian National Coalition (whose document I mentioned earlier) and the Free Syrian Army to facilitate a transition to a post-war Syria. It demands the British government to actively support the emergence of a unitary and democratic Syria which adheres to internationally-recognised human rights standards. As the transition period is expected to be long and very difficult, it asks the British government to support the principles and encourage the incorporation of these ideals in any transitional or constituent phase. The values ​​to be supported are the same as all the documents cited so far and in the Freedom Charter.

The third point asks a guideline for humanitarian aid, both for its collection and its distribution and with the insistence that Britain calls for full implementation of UN resolutions 2165 and 2191 authorising the distribution of humanitarian aid anywhere in Syria, across borders and without the consent or authorisation of the regime.

The last points are more specific to European relations with individual Syrians. Topics include support for refugees and rehabilitation and education of Foreign Fighters and people that have extremist views, but who have not committed crimes. The sixth point is the ability to maintain banking services to Syrian individuals and entities and the last point asks for appropriate treatment to be given to Syrians that are residents in the United Kingdom, equivalent to that of other residents.

373047_313146128710043_1498568290_nThere are two earlier declarations to be considered as important references, and they are the Declaration of Dignity issued in December of 2011 by the LCC and the Declaration signed in Geneva in May of 2012 by the Committee for the Defence of Human Rights in Syria, the World Campaign in Support of the Syrian People and the Syrian National Council. The first announces the values of the revolution, the rights of the people and the rejection of sectarianism and commitment to upholding human dignity. The second is based on defining the Syrian struggle along the lines of the Preamble of the UN Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the General Assembly in 1948. It is an appeal for a pacific transition in Syria, an immediate end of the violence and repression against civilians, release of political prisoners and reform of the mass media to allow free press. Its crucial point is that the UN Declaration supports the recourse to rebellion against tyranny and oppression and the protection of human rights by rule of law. It calls for a constitutional assembly to be appointed to draft a new constitution that limits the functions of the president, restoring Syria to the people and not allowing it to belong to a single individual, family or party. It requests the recognition of the revolution as legitimate, legal and worthy of support.

syria-istanbul-declaration_403x227The last document that I include in this overview is The Istanbul Declaration, signed this summer by many activists and members of civil society, including some prominent historical Syrian left. It begins with an introduction that identifies the suffering of the people. It declares that Assad oppresses the people strictly to stay in power to protect his interests. Then it talks about the determination of the people in its long and difficult resistance, even moral. It speaks of the institutions that civil society has created, such as the LCCs, but in particular, it cites with admiration the steadfastness of a people who despite everything continue to protest and to do everything possible to communicate their situation through an intense activity in social media.

The declaration continues with a description of all the enemies of the people, the atrocities committed by the reactionary forces and religious extremists and includes a denunciation of the occupation of Syria by foreign forces, naming in particular the massive presence of Iran in support of reactionary forces and the regime.

The statement is divided into seven points.

The first: support of resistance and denunciation of the complicity of the Left with the regime, calling their behaviour betrayal.

The second: rejection of the intervention by anyone who is hostile to the revolution.

The third: condemnation of fundamentalist forces.

The fourth: the belief that there is no political solution that presupposes the existence of the current regime.

The fifth: denunciation of the policies of Fortress Europe.

The sixth: the connection with any popular struggle and solidarity with all oppressed people and those without justice, particularly in the region, citing, Iraq, Bahrain, Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Yemen, Palestine and any other country in the world oppressed by dictators and imperialists.

The seventh: support to the LCCs, the revolutionary councils and to humanitarian groups in addition to the independent brigades of the FSA fighting against the regime and against ISIS.

Any statements that we Italians and Syrians in Italy write and ask to be disseminated and supported should take into account the content of the existing statements. We can integrate many of their points, but also introduce points particularly relevant to our particular Italian circumstances. I hope that in the working groups we identify requests to our government, to Europe and to the general public, to come together in support of this glorious revolution.

ahwaz2Written by Rahim Hamid

A call by a senior UAE official on Monday for formal recognition of Al-Ahwaz as an occupied Arab country has sparked a rapidly growing pan-Arab media campaign, with over 1,000 prominent Arab figures across the region so far announcing their support of ‘I recognise Al-Ahwaz as an Arab State’.  Despite only being launched a couple of days ago, the campaign is also spreading beyond the Arab world, with the slogan already shared across social media in 16 languages.

Launched in the wake of a statement issued by the influential former Dubai police chief Dahi Khalfan calling on Gulf states to open embassies for Al-Ahwaz and to formally recognise the state, which was renamed ‘Khuzestan province’ in 1936 by Iran following its 1925 annexation, the campaign has continued to gain popularity, winning backing from a wide range of influential Arab figures from all backgrounds across the region.

Among the leading regional figures who have announced their support of the new campaign are Jerry Maher, the founder and director of ‘Radio Swat Beirut International’ and the distinguished and widely respected Kuwaiti academic and analyst Dr. Abdullah Nafisi.  In Egypt, TV show host Hussein Jouli, a moderate and opponent of the Sisi regime, said that he would head an Egyptian campaign for the recognition of Ahwaz as an Arab state. Another leading Kuwaiti figure voicing her support for the campaign was Ayesha Rashid, a liberal writer, journalist and political researcher.

Ahwazi activists hope that the new campaign, which has already been featured on media as diverse as Al Jazeera, CNBC Arabic, Sawa Middle East and even Japanese and Korean news channels, will help to raise awareness of the systemic injustices inflicted on the Ahwazi people by Iran for almost a century in near-complete international silence.

AHW 1Since the initial Iranian occupation in 1925, successive administrations in Tehran, both under the current theocratic regime and the previous rulers, have refused to recognise the most basic rights of the ethnically Arab Ahwazi people numbering around 10 million in total, who are denied not only the right to the same healthcare and education as Persian Iranians, but even the right to wear traditional Arab garments, or to publicly speak or learn their native Arabic  language,  being subjected to what is effectively an apartheid system of rule.

Despite occupied Ahwaz, now a region of south and southeast Iran, being the home to around 95% of Iran’s oil and gas reserves, the vast majority of the Ahwazi population live in medieval poverty and squalor, often without running water, electricity or the most basic sanitation, while the massive wealth from their natural resources is spent on other, non-Arab regions by Tehran.  This openly racist policy means that despite being the most resource-rich region of Iran, Ahwaz – or Khuzestan as Iran insists on calling it – is home to one of the poorest populations per capita on earth.

Anti-Arab racism is endemic in Iran, having been encouraged by successive regimes,  with Ahwazis bearing the brunt of this bigotry, both in formal policies which treat them as second-class citizens,  excluded from property  ownership and all but the most menial jobs,  and denied the most basic rights, as well as through a culture  which glorifies racism and casual violence towards Arabs:  many  of the most celebrated contemporary Iranian poets’ most famous poems are filled with virulently racist anti-Arab imagery and language.  This anti-Arab racism extends to all cultural forms, with   one fairly typical recent hit by a popular Iranian singer entitled ‘Kill An Arab’   issued shortly after a phone app game, ‘Beat An Arab’ in which the object of the game is to force-feed a grotesque caricature of an Arab before beating him unconscious:  both the song and he game were approved  for general release by the Iranian Culture Ministry, which routinely approves such offensive items,  and neither is viewed by  Persian Iranians as being in  any way objectionable.

Al-Ahwaz1Ironically while the theocracy in Tehran is keen to present itself as the champion of Palestinians and arch-foe of Zionist occupation, its own savagely imposed  occupation of Ahwazi Arabs’ land is arguably more brutal and its profound anti-Arab bigotry virtually indistinguishable to that of Zionists.

The similarities can be quite uncanny, with Persian Iranians offered generous incentives to move to the Ahwaz region where they are housed in specially built settlements provided with all the latest amenities, and given well-paid state oil industry jobs not available to Ahwazis or offered further substantial financial inducements by the Tehran administration to set up businesses in these areas. As with the jobs and loans, these settlements are off-limits to Ahwazis who are routinely ethnically cleansed from their homes and lands whenever these are confiscated by the regime, with no compensation or recourse to legal complaint, and are housed in overcrowded shanty towns often located near the region’s oil refineries, where open sewers and atrocious pollution lead to widespread health problems.

There is still no word on the  theocratic regime’s reaction to the new ‘I recognise Ahwaz as an Arab State’ media campaign, although the mullahs, who have long refused to  recognise Ahwazis’ basic humanity, let alone their right to their own lands and sovereignty are, like Queen Victoria, unlikely to be amused.

medico_1219482A word from Rosamaria Vitale, 55, the surgeon who was supposed, until the last moment, to take part in the mission in Syria with the two recently freed Italian girls. She had met the girls in Milan, in the reception center of via Novara, run by the cooperative “Farsi Prossimo” of the Caritas Ambrosiana.

Written by Stefano Pasta, translated by Samantha Falciatori 

These are days of controversy and speculation about the reasons why Vanessa and Greta went to Syria. We talk about it with Rosamaria Vitale, 55, the surgeon who was supposed, until the last moment, to go with them on the same mission to Syria. In the same spirit, and always willingly and unpaid, she worked on the Mare Nostrum ships, in Kenya with the Camilliani Fathers (she has been going there for ten years) and other places of suffering in the world. During the months when she is at home, in Milan, she is one of the many citizens who, in different ways, helps the Syrian and Eritrean refugees (at least 70,000) reach Milan in their journey to Northern Europe. It is here, in the Central Station and in the reception centers activated by the Municipality, that she met the two girls.

Where did you meet them?

In Milan, in the reception center of via Novara, which is run by the cooperative “Farsi Prossimo” (Caritas Ambrosiana). It was October 2013. The Municipality had just decided to accept refugees in transit for a few days and, as it is now, it was cooperating with a very heterogeneous group of Milanese, some belonging to associations, but above all, individuals motivated by solidarity for what these families have suffered. Sometimes it would happen that you would see Syrian children with wounds from firearms. Until last June, “Medici volontari italiani” (“Volunteer Italian Medics”), the association to which I belong, was in charge of the first aid intervention of what was a sort of small refugee camp. Greta and Vanessa, who spoke perfect Arabic [translator’s note, according to the interviewee], helped me with the translation, but they were devoted mainly to entertaining the children, and organizing games and activities. These volunteer “activists” also had other tasks: to welcome the refugees who arrived from Southern Italy to the Central Station, to accompany them to the reception centers, and to help them with train tickets. Then when there was no more room in the reception centers, we turned to private homes (I myself have hosted several Syrians). Now at the Station there is a valuable group of volunteers, but the management of the incoming refugees in the centers is now handled by the Municipality.

What struck you about the two girls?

Their effort, shared also by many activists of all ages: almost daily and always withoutgetting a cent, they came and went from their cities to Milan. Sometimes we left the center together and I gave them a ride to the underground stop next to my house. It was an opportunity to share thoughts about the suffering we had seen during the day. It often happened that the patients let us see the photos of their lives in Syria, some which had fought against the Assad regime. It was clear to us who the weak were: on one side there was Assad who destroyed his people, and on the other side, there was a people of survivors who fled in search of a new life.

Then came the proposal of the trip to Syria…

Greta phoned me asking if I wanted to go to Syria for 5-6 days in the rural area of Idlib, that both girls had already visited in a previous mission. They knew that I already had experience in many countries at war. I immediately said yes, confirming I would willingly collaborate with them. At that time, in the Syrian areas controlled by the rebels,  virtually none of the biggest organizations operated anymore. Only small groups, often self-organized, did it, with a few day-long missions during which they delivered medicines and aid in kind.

slide_396732_4873160_freeWhat was the project of Vanessa and Greta about?

I still have the April email in which they sent me the project. It was a well done project, with objectives developed after careful analysis of the needs of the territory. In the roughly twenty villages in the area, medical facilities had been bombed and there were no doctors (they had fled or had been killed). All the medical assistance was handled by only one veterinarian. In the first mission, Greta and Vanessa had identified the deficits, setting two goals for the next missions. First: to activate a first aid course providing the necessary materials. Second: to ensure the sick of chronic diseases (for example diabetes) access to the right therapies. As far as the first is concerned, we are talking about gauzes, disinfectants, pills, therefore, materials that each family had to keep at home; Greta, a Nursing Sciences student, had all the necessary skills.

But then you did not leave with them…

No, I could not join their second mission due to problems that arose at the last moment. I also couldn’t attend the third, the one in July, because I was called to serve on the Navy ships, in the Mare Nostrum Operation. When I learned about their kidnapping, I was already in Kenya. Before both missions, I had helped them choose and collect the medicines to bring to Syria. During the missions, they used to write me via email and Facebook to ask my opinion by sending me photos of the patients they met.

Were they naïve and inexperienced?

No. For Greta and Vanessa their life was a mission, nothing else. There are people who give top priority to the good of others, even at the cost of their own life.

Original: http://m.famigliacristiana.it/articolo/vanessa.htm

la comune 2From La Comune, a “Humanist Socialist” organisation in Italy that has always been side by side with us in the struggle for Syrian Freedom.  WRITTEN BY RENATO SCAROLA, Translated by Mary Rizzo

We are happy that Greta and Vanessa are alive and free. We are disgusted by the comments and by the articles that are vulgar and chauvinist, cynical and with evident instrumental manipulation of the truth that has followed their liberation Greta and Vanessa are being attacked as women and as persons who are in solidarity with a population caught between the vice grip of the Assad dictatorship and the Neo-Nazis of ISIS. The former Fascist Gasparri has distinguished himself in this flood of cynical sexist vulgarity.  Moreover, manipulating the truth, it has been insinuated that Greta and Vanessa have had ambiguous contacts with sectors connected to al Qaeda, that is, by those who had kept them imprisoned as hostages for months. From what the young women have declared and from what we know, their commitment and aid is devoted to the Syrian population and is against both the dictatorship of Assad as well as that of al Qaeda and the Neo-Nazis of ISIS. Analogously, put under accusation is also Yasser, an exponent of the Syrian Arab Community in Italy (and friend of Greta and Vanessa) of Bologna and of the Committee of Solidarity with the Syrian Karama population, a person who has signed the appeal that La Comune has promoted for a day of national action in solidarity with the Kurdish, Iraqi and Syrian populations against the Neo-Nazis of ISIS.

We denounce these cynical and ignoble attacks and we express our solidarity to Greta, Vanessa and Yasser, which for us cannot be renounced as a necessary part of the support alongside the Kurdish, Syrian and Iraqi populations in the people’s resistance to the Neo-Nazis of ISIS and dictators like Al Assad.
Original: http://www.lacomuneonline.it/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=973%3Agreta-e-vanessa-solidarieta&lang=it

greta-ramelli-vanessa-marzullo-1WRITTEN BY ASMAE SIRIA DACHAN, translated by Mary Rizzo

The emotion was immense when, Friday, 16 January, 2015, the Italian news agency Ansa finally released the title:”Palazzo Chigi (Office of the Prime Minister, translator’s note) confirmed, Greta and Vanessa are free.” It’s over, thank God; the nightmare that has lasted five months is over. An interminable time in which, respecting a news blackout and considering the need of discretion, I preferred not to write anything, entrusting my feelings and my thoughts to prayer.

The day the news was released of their kidnapping I was at home, having returned just a few days before from a poignant trip to Syria; Ramadan had just begun. Hearing the names of Vanessa Marzullo and Greta Ramelli on the TV and that word, “abducted” was terrible. The beginning of a nightmare for all who love and know them. But now they are back home, in the close and reassuring embrace of their families.

On the news many times was broadcast a video in which Vanessa and I are together: an interview in Bologna in November 2012, on the occasion of the Global March for the Children of Syria’, an initiative of solidarity and denouncement in which many had taken part, from every part of Italy. Syrians, Italians, volunteers, students, journalists, families, charities: a colourful procession bring to Italy the voice of Syrian civilians. Vanessa was one of the organisers of the march, whose local slogan was ‘Follow Your Heart’ and I made the interviews with the participants, while Paolo Crobu oversaw shooting and editing. Initiative ignored by the mainstream media, with interviews that were only broadcast on the YouTube channel; the aim was to raise awareness about what was and is still happening in Syria, where from 2011 to today there are at least 270 thousand deaths, including more than 20 thousand children.

Many had written and phoned to tell me that they had seen the video on TV. It had been there on the net almost unnoticed and, in the light of the abduction, was instead disseminated. I’ve seen it countless times.

Vanessa speaks quietly but with determination, she speaks of the Syrian drama, the dream of freedom for a people with whom she, a young student of Lombardy, has been in contact with and to whom she is attached. Only twenty years old, at his age many of her peers are busy only with their studies and organising their amusement, but she hasn’t thought only of this. Ever since I met her, I’ve noted that she was writing every night of Syria, denouncing kidnappings, rapes, abuses suffered by civilians. She translates the stories and dramatic testimony that is disclosed in the network by young Syrian activists. ‘Clandestine Communicators’, ‘opponents’, ‘rebels’, ie, people who have found the courage to challenge the censorship imposed by the Assad regime, giving voice to the genocide of which the world seems not to have taken notice. Because the dictatorship leads to this: to move like ghosts, to become ‘outlaws’ for disobeying the impositions of the tyrant. In Syria one shuts up and obeys the rules, or else you are finished, and this the world, at least the countries that in the past have suffered such violence, know, or at least should know.

In Syria able to move freely is the regime and their supporters; anyone who is opposed to it is illegal. Anyone who has picked up the flag with the three stars, the historic Syrian flag hoisted after the end of French colonialism in 1946 (and not the red, white and black with the two stars imposed by the regime) is branded for life. Anyone who has taken part in marches, demonstrations, initiatives, is branded. Not only in Syria. Even among Syrians abroad. Everyone knows that having declared themself to be against the regime, the regime that after fifty years of power and four years of bloodshed still holds Syria in its fist, means to have finally signed their forced exile from the homeland. The Syrians who have fled in boats of death, which in the absence of an international humanitarian corridor, are entrusted to human traffickers, they know they will not be able to return home. The same for those who are in the condition of refugees. This is something Vanessa and Greta knew and they did not look the other way. They participated, along with many other young people and volunteer associations in operations of hosting the Syrians in transit at the station in Milan to reach northern Europe.

They have taken Syria to heart. They have embraced the pain of a humanity forgotten. With selflessness and courage. Exposing themselves personally. Risking, without any fear. You can criticise their imprudence, but demonise them, no.

Now they are paying for their courage. On the web the media lynching is nothing short of disgraceful. I have never seen so much fury even against mob bosses or serial rapists. Certain political areas exploit their dramatic story for their campaign. We are witnessing a sexist drift, a blind hatred and theatre of hypocrisy that dance embraced tightly to ignorance. Because most of the people, even in good faith, ignore what is happening in Syria and how we have come to this state of total chaos.

Greta and Vanessa are becoming the scapegoat for many crisis situations. Paying for being young, for being women, for having taken the side of a people struggling against a tyrant, for putting the lives of others before their own. Turning them into what they are not is ignoble.

Has the sacrifice of these two young girls perhaps rekindled the spotlight on the Syrian drama? Is anyone wondering what is going on over there? Today it seems that the problem in Syria is only Isis, circulating many distorted concepts, the truth is systematically raped and the dramatic situation is ignored. The Syrian situation is the most serious humanitarian emergency in the new century. Please read the reports of the Syrian Network for Human Rights, UNICEF, the UN and humanitarian organisations that are monitoring the situation. It is reflected by the numbers of this massacre: 270 thousand deaths, including 20 thousand children, 9 million IDPs, over 3.7 million refugees, 1 million wounded and more than 250 thousand missing. Taking Syria to heart means not being indifferent to all this.

As a Syrian I feel strong embarrassment towards Greta and Vanessa for what they have suffered in Syria. I am equally embarrassed for all the hatred that is flowing against them. Both situations are ignoble.

A dutiful thanks goes to those who worked towards bringing them home safe and sound.

Greta and Vanessa are courage and recklessness, selflessness and sacrifice. We have waited anxiously. Today they are here. Welcome Back Home.

 

Original: https://diariodisiria.wordpress.com/2015/01/20/greta-e-vanessa-il-coraggio-contro-lindifferenza/

van a casa greta a casa

Written by Mary Rizzo

Hundreds of articles, thousands of comments and dozens of conjectures have emerged since the liberation of Greta Ramelli and Vanessa Marzullo from their imprisonment in Syria. Reading them, I am continually shocked by the content, mostly because the relationship of the content of these articles with reality is close to nil. And, of course, since those of us who know these women have acted responsibly, following the instructions of our government to keep press silence for their sake, it has given space to the vultures and monsters of orientalist, conspiracy, reactionary yellow journalism, who see in them all the ingredients for their “articles”: beautiful young maidens who are victims of the evils they embraced. Articles are coming out basing their research on the trash articles full of falsehood and insane conjecture, because during those endless 5 and a half months, the trash writers had free reign and their inventions, which will naturally be held up to scrutiny now that it is possible to respond to them, and certainly lawsuits will arise from the defamation they contain.

Five and a half months where those who know, and those who know better, were discouraged from expressing in public our solidarity, prohibited from making marches, creating petitions, even from something so simple as making a supportive page in Facebook. Asking activists to go against their instincts of protesting, getting into the streets and involving the general public in awareness raising activities is asking a lot of them, especially if the thing they are being asked to do is to keep silence regarding persons they know and love very much. But this was done, some of us suspending our feelings of disappointment in how our government works, and simply trusting them and obeying them. Our government pulled through and fulfilled their obligation to bring back our co-citizens who were victims of criminals in a foreign country. We are so grateful to them for their efforts and thrilled at their success.

There are other Italians who are not so happy about it though. One of them, for instance, is a former minister, Luca Zaia who says, (taking the words of some unknown “Tweeter” account statement as legitimate against the word of his own government that states that no ransom was paid and international laws were adhered to) “there has to be a norm for whoever gets themselves in trouble, they have to find their own way to get out of the mess.” He suggests that the goods of the families of Greta and Vanessa should be confiscated for life, to repay the Italian State, in fact.  All of that is pretty rich coming from someone who, when he was minister of Agriculture brought upon the Italian State fines amounting to 2.4 billion Euros for not adhering to EU limits of milk production, “The smooth operators and cheaters in the milk quotas have cost us Italians 4.5 billion Euros. In 2009 then Minister of the Northern League Zaia bailed out the “tax evaders” and denied the Revenue Agency Collection the right to get back the amounts paid by the State on their behalf.”

Then there are those who say they were involved with Jihadis and militias of every kind. Others who say they ought to have stayed in Italy and taken care of our many poor and needy. Still others say they had no preparation to go where they went to do what they claimed they were there to do. Neither of the first two groups have the faintest idea of who Greta and Vanessa are. They don’t know that they have been involved in the humanitarian aspect of what is a war zone. They have absolutely a point of view, given their interest and knowledge of the situation, and it is impossible to remain “neutral in the face of oppression” or pretend that there is not a war going on and know how it started and what areas are suffering the most. They don’t know that they also have volunteered and been trained in Italy and other countries, and that they were not “sent” by anyone. It seems peculiar to these people that young adult women can have a grasp on a very complex situation. Just because those condemning them don’t have a grasp, they assume it should be the same for Vanessa and Greta. The third group of critics has a slight advantage in that while they are wrong about them being totally unprepared, they are right that this kind of volunteer work in a war zone has absolutely no rules and anything can happen, even to the most prepared person, so this is all the more true of two individuals representing a humanitarian group they were the founders of, without a history of safety regulations and a staff to organise every particular up to the smallest detail.

Those who doubt their sincerity, however, or why they should be so involved in Syria, evidently have not had the same exposure to the information that the women have had. Ones who are informed of the situation of the Syrian population, who have learned about the suffering and the slaughter of innocent people, particularly children, simply can’t just shut it off. It becomes a sort of obsession, a constant suffering. There are simply people in the world, empathic and humanitarian people, and Vanessa and Greta are two of them, who when they see the suffering of others, enter into a state of profound com-passion. They feel it fully, they share in the pain and it becomes so deeply felt that they feel that their duty is to help, they cannot NOT help. They believe in the power of love and the human duty to not look away but to do like others have done before them throughout the history of the world, where the people we are given as examples for life go to the den of the leper and embrace him, to make him feel that he is not alone in the world and to try to heal his wounds. They knew that their aid might be a drop in the bucket, but the power of sharing the suffering, taking part and witnessing, that is something that they felt compelled to do, and all the friendly advice of those who love them could not change the path that they set before them, to BE THERE for others. If there are those who doubt this sentiment can exist, I say, they are surrounded by grey people, and when they find themselves alone and in pain, they may not have someone there to stand by them, that kind of thing is not contemplated in their world. But this is the world of Greta and Vanessa, the world of compassion and sharing in the burden.

It is disgusting to read the various comments by people who only criticise them or even smear or defame them. But it is good to realise that they come from a world that is alien to mine and to that of Greta and Vanessa, who are thankfully enjoying the support of many, despite the louder voices of the vile and vulgar ones. In schools across Italy (if I take for an example my own child’s high school) the “hour of religion” – yes, Italian public schools have this, and given that the students prefer to stay together during the day, even those who are not Catholic participate and they are basically classes where ethics and current events are discussed – all of the students applauded the girls, said they were proud of them, admired them, thought they were the best representative of humane ideals, but simply that they were wrong to have underestimated how dangerous it was and to have caused their families the worry. In Italy, unlike America, young people often live at home even after they reach 18, and independence is not complete, though the right to make important decisions is recognised, it is still considered necessary to obtain parental approval for some things, and in this case, the students of my child’s class thought that this was the only thing they did wrong. It seems that 17 year olds have a better understanding than 50 year olds sometimes…..

But there is one subject that remains to be discussed, and that is how it happened. All we know is that despite the media circus, the “jihadi” theory is ridiculous and so is the one that they were working for the FSA. The dynamics are going to come out in time, and rather than the weak little Pollyannas that some may have thought they are, the two Italian women are proving to be stronger than lions. They not only had to undergo the horrors of their imprisonment, but they are fully collaborating with the magistrates who are investigating the kidnapping. They, in the first place, who believe in justice and dignity, are not going to withhold any information that leads to the arrest of those who are responsible for their abduction and detainment against their will. It is possible that those who are responsible don’t live in a war zone, so justice may indeed be served.

It is said that in their auditions before the investigators, who have opened the case to investigate and ultimately prosecute those responsible, they were aware of the reason they were abducted the moment they were taken away, because they asked, “Why??” and the response was, “For money”.

Yes, this is where those of us who not only love and admire Vanessa and Greta now have to take a stand. We, like them, believe in justice, human rights and most of us also support the revolution against Assad. We are quite willing to condemn any and every group and individual who not only has violated the rights of humanitarians but who have betrayed the very cause of opposition to Assad if they engage in actions that are against human rights and harm innocent people. If it is true that, as they admit, they were in a place considered as safe, only for it to instead have been a trap artfully set up by those who acted like friends only to betray them, then this is not going to be buried under the rug because it is shameful. Instead, we trust more than ever our authorities to investigate, find the evidence that will prove that they have been set up by guys who boast of their importance inside Syria with the oppostion and their excellent and safe connections, and there is going to be no rest if it turns out that these are individuals who are hiding behind the Syrian revolution flag or acting like they are for the overthrow of Assad or even if they are (as they may claim) greatly respected by the revolutionaries and even influential in Syria. If their tactics are the same, treating innocent people like merchandise, a cheap form of human trafficking, it is all the more shameful because it has brainwashed itself that it’s for “the cause”. It’s not for any cause that Vanessa and Greta and the rest of us stand for. If it is a person or persons involved in the opposition militia, my personal wish for them is that they simply keep on as they are doing, because even if they achieve martyrdom, they are not going to ever achieve Janna (paradise) because they have committed a crime so heinous that there is no way to atone. They will learn what imprisonment is, eternally.

If they have even the thought that the lives of these women have X value and they tricked them or led to them being tricked, then they are no different than what we are against, and they, hopefully soon exposed, should be made to pay their debt with justice until their last day on earth. They are not going to find any “friends” who cover for them or pat them on the back or who justify what they have done. Whoever it is, may they feel that the circle is closing in on them, and the sooner the Syrian people are rid of such traitors, the better. It is also unfortunate that thanks to situations like this, other humanitarian efforts are thwarted, relief to the suffering Syrian population is going to be denied and the end of the Assad regime is going to be set farther ahead. Yes. Thanks to the betrayal of such kinds of persons against all that is good and right, who abuse trust and good faith and the purity of decent people. They betray all of Syria by their actions.

Lastly, we thank Greta and Vanessa from the heart for proving to us that there is indeed humanity, for being the beautiful people they are. We wish for them only the joy, happiness, serenity they deserve so much and we are thrilled that they are reunited with their families who strongly supported them and went through their own suffering, but who are not punitive, because there is nothing to punish heroes for, because it is a blessing to be in the midst of heroes, humanitarians and persons who know the meaning of the phrase, “stay human”. No matter what choices Vanessa and Greta make in life, we stand by them, we trust them and we love them, and hope we are going to be worthy of them.

Written by Mariano Manuel Bartiromo for Osservatorio Italo-Siriano, translated by Mary Rizzo

There was a time when it was normal to feel the fear and worry for those in danger. Welcome to an age when normality is to attack the victims relentlessly, to bind them tightly so that you can hit them and enjoy a perverse pleasure in watching the terror in their eyes. Welcome to the age where selfishness, greed, envy and frustration are now so entrenched that what frightens society is no longer disease or war, but it is love.

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The “other” who terrorises you for being different from you is branded as crazy and exposed to ridicule and abuse

Dear Vanessa, I have shared this space with you (the blog of the Osservatorio Italo-Siriano) and now I shudder at the thought of writing “about” you.

Your articles, indeed, as you always called them, “stuff I write,” – because you did not want to call yourself a journalist – are here, but none of the journalists – because they instead cling dearly to their title – who have taken advantage of you and Greta so that they could have a scoop in the form of a sideshow and vent their lust for popularity and fame, has taken the trouble to read them.

It would have been enough to read just three lines to understand who you are, your love, your courage, your ideas that have come to become your life, because you have not taken time from your life, because your life is in giving to others. But two girls who leave everything just because they cannot live knowing that in one part of the world there are people dying of hunger and bombs, they simply can’t accept something like that. It is ‘unimaginable in the realm of business and the stock market, of ambition and self-aggrandisement, reality TV and discos.

Those who are not part of the system feel repulsion by the system. Love is not tolerated. We are so used to competing and being suspicious, that when we see selflessness, we simply cannot believe it’s true.

Minister Gentiloni with Greta and Vanessa, on their arrival at Ciampino airport. Photo Percossi © ANSA PHOTOS

Minister Gentiloni with Greta and Vanessa, on their arrival at Ciampino airport. Photo Percossi © ANSA PHOTOS

Italy has become a luminary of the culture of hidden agendas.

“Have the courage to sign a surety to the families of the two idiots to pay the ransom”; “Demented girls. Make them pay!”; “A nice excuse to finance the jihadists”; “Leave them there, those two cretin girls”; “They went to take selfies with the rebels”; “Surely they have some screw loose”, “Samaritans who love the Kalashnikov”; “Leave them there, they went there so they could bring peace and found eternal peace, what the hell have they got to complain about?”; “Leave them where they are, please”; “I wonder whether it is reasonable that all Italians somehow must pay to repatriate these two demented fanatics”; “But enough of these two stupid girls, who are taking us for a ride. Leave them to their fate, that is what they want”; “They are infiltrates to support the terrorists.”

It goes on and on. Comments are scattered here and there all over the web, from the more refined pseudo-political manipulation to the most vulgar outburst from like stadium chants from hoodlums who hide behind nicknames and photo of cartoon characters.

The most squalid Italy, the Italy that from the fullness of their rounded bellies sets up kangaroo courts in the bored refinement  of their “gentlemen’s clubs”, is no  longer able to remember what humanity is: it judges, decides and condemns, then, satisfied, goes back to its alluring pastimes by clicking on another site.

The Syrian uprising began as a spontaneous motion of protest against a dictator, a butcher, a murderer, because the continuous massacres of Assad, sometimes condemned by the too tolerant international community, have made it easy for jihadist infiltration. The “laissez-faire” attitude has stifled the revolution and made Syria a land of chaos that is a perfect stage for terrorism.

You made the cause of an innocent, tortured people, bombed and children herded into mass graves your own. But this terrorises. It makes those who never would have this kind of courage uncomfortable. And they have respect for no one, not even for the families who have been anxiously suffering in worry for months.

No humanitarian corridor has ever been opened, international politics has not offered any mediation between the parties and the violence has continued, in an exponentially increasingly manner, to become the main protagonist in the general indifference.

I CARE

Yes, Vanessa, you’re crazy, a terrorist. Your love is terrifying. Altruism is terror. Sacrifice is terror. Despite not having your courage, we think like you.

We would like to see all dictatorships reversed: the Syrian, the Korean, the Chinese ones, that of Islamic fundamentalism that abuse the Koran and kills, those of African warlords. Even and especially the dictatorship of the market.

And if all this means being lunatics and fanatics, then we are. Insult us as well, because we are all terrorists.

Welcome back home girls!

Original http://blog.you-ng.it/2015/01/16/vanessa-greta-terrore-dellamore/

no more mosquesWRITTEN BY SHADY HAMADI, translated by Mary Rizzo

I am a Muslim and I condemn the massacre at the headquarters of Charlie Hebdo and I condemn Islamic fanaticism. But for some, and in a particular way I am thinking of certain politicians who carry out electoral campaigns inciting hatred towards immigrants and Islam, the condemnations by the religious leaders of the Islamic world are not going to be enough. Even if every single Muslim in the world speaks out to condemn what happened, this, unfortunately, will still not be enough because all that is being done is pointing the finger at a sole culprit, against the Islamic religion.

Even now, they will tell you that Islam, that is, more than two billion people, has declared war on you, on your values and on your Western belonging.

A certain kind of politics will seek consensus exploiting the massacre of Paris. Our politicians will tell you that “we are already at war against Islam and that we have to defend ourselves,” and the only real defence against the Islamic tide, is to vote for precisely those parties that have made xenophobia their raison d’etre. They will launch campaigns against the construction of places of worship for Muslims, declaring that “the mosques are the breeding ground for new terrorists” and, in so doing, they deny a right … just like those fanatics who they claim they want to fight.

tumblr_n7kzh7oJLR1skw9p7o6_1280You can choose. You can believe those who say that a war with Islam is inevitable. According to them, this religion embodies the violence and brutality that is then transmitted from one believer to another, through the study of the doctrine and prayer. For them, there aren’t good Muslims but there are only terrorists. They paint them all with the same brush, providing the right motivation that serves the terrorists to proselytize among the multitude of the desperate.

Another possibility, more sensible and correct, is to try to reason and understand that for the actions of two terrorists, two billion people and a religion cannot be responsible. We must understand that fanaticism in the Islamic world has many reasons, most of them related to social and historical causes, that affect societies today.

A century where colonialism and dictatorships, foraged from the West, have produced enormous damage to the Arabic social fabric. School systems built around an education formed on totalitarian regimes that have produced widespread ignorance; the lack of economic opportunities; the syndrome of Arabic nihilism, well described by the late Samir Kassir; the total lack of hope for the future and the tragedies that came about as of September 11 were some of the reasons that have produced contemporary religious radicalism. The first victim of this fanaticism is Islam itself. Sunni Muslims are the most persecuted by fundamentalists, as evidenced by the massacres in Syria: a whole population victim of the totalitarianism of Assad and the ISIS barbarians. And it is always Islam, the perception we have of this religion, to suffer the most damage because of the acts of those insane minds.

Today, in fact, Islam has become synonymous with terrorism in the West, so as to be deprived of any spiritual significance. It is marred by those who continue to associate it, without knowing anything about it in the least, as an enemy to fight. Clichés, simplifications and stereotypes about Islam are the collateral damage of a lack of knowledge that is far too widespread.

Now more than ever, we need constructive encounters, ones that are the sign of Mediterranean conviviality and an inter-religious discourse. Only with mutual recognition can we continue in our common history, managing to build a society for all of us. The fight for freedom is the struggle of each one of us, regardless of our faith.

If we abandon ourselves to the entrepreneurs of fear and ignorance, all will be lost.

Original: http://www.ilfattoquotidiano.it/2015/01/08/charlie-hebdo-prima-vittima-fanatismo-lislam/1322511/

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WRITTEN BY MASSIMO RUSSO, translated by Mary Rizzo
What do the tears of Shirin Ebadi and Tawakkul Karman at the summit for the Peace of Rome tell us: if we don’t like the present, it is only up to us to change it

Shirin Ebadi and Tawakkul Karman on stage at the summit of Nobel Laureates The embrace between Shirin Ebadi and Tawakkul Karman on stage at the summit of the Nobel prize winners (Photo: Wired)

Shirin Ebadi and Tawakkul Karman on stage at the summit of Nobel Laureates
The embrace between Shirin Ebadi and Tawakkul Karman on stage at the summit of the Nobel prize winners (Photo: Wired)

“I ask forgiveness on behalf of the Iranian people for what the government of my country has done first in Syria, supporting a dictator – Bashar al-Assad – who kills his own citizens, and now to the Yemen of my sister Tawakkul, because it is helping the counter-revolution to stifle change. ”

Sometimes international meetings on peace are resolved in formal occasions to repeat formulas that are a  little ‘age-worn’. At the 14th World Summit of the Nobel Peace prize, which is being held these days in Rome, things were different. The abstract concept of peace and diplomacy became transformed into a hug, and into the tears of two women, the Nobel laureates Shirin Ebadi and Tawakkul Karman, divided by nationality and religion, united by belonging to the species of those who did not give up.

And if you wonder what this has to do with Wired, the answer is: because both these women are innovative. No, they are more than that, they are hackers.

Shirin Ebadi, Iranian, won the Nobel in 2003 for her fight for human rights. Magistrate, she was relieved of her duties and lives actually in exile in London. Tawakkul was the first Arab woman to receive the Nobel in 2011 for her peaceful campaign for equality, freedom and against corruption, which led to the overthrow of the regime in Yemen. A few moments before receiving the embrace of Shirin, Tawakkul had cried out passionately, asking the international community to condemn Iran for its intervention in support of the dictators of Syria and Yemen and against the Arab Spring, in order to establish itself as a regional power and obtain more favourable terms in the negotiations on nuclear disarmament.

Tawakkul in her speech emphasises a concept dear to all disruptive innovators: do not ask permission.

“No one will give you your rights if you are not willing to take them for yourselves, to take to the front lines and fight for them. And the only ones able to declare your defeat are yourselves. If you lose hope, you are already finished, everything depends on you. ”

Ebadi adds: “Democracy is alive, and it must be looked over every day, even when you’ve achieved it.”

Then there’s the idea of hacking. Because only the creative tampering of reality, even when all logic is contrary, it can lead to change in seemingly hopeless situations. All revolutionaries, rebels who are really changing the world, start by listening to themselves, to their own convictions. So they act, and change their own roads, their own community, their own country. Without any excuses.

What does this embrace between two extraordinary women in a sleepy Roman Saturday morning have to say to us? Again, the answer is a lot. To all of us. The first words that Shirin Ebadi addressed to Federica Mogherini, EU High Representative for Foreign Policy, and Italians were: “Do not accept the money of dictators. Many have brought their wealth to Italian banks. “But the real point is that people like these, with their vital example, speak to our attitude of detached cynicism, western pessimism of bored depression. The fate, the future is in our hands. From the crisis to corruption, to work, which is not created by decree. Nobody will change our destiny in our place. And the hunt for the culprit, to those who have it taken away, is simple. Just get up and look straight the first mirror.

original: http://www.wired.it/attualita/politica/2014/12/13/labbraccio-nobel-senso-dellinnovazione-nostra-pigrizia/

1397298_611763265539907_779226832_oWRITTEN BY ASMAE DACHAN, translated by Mary Rizzo

The news from Syria and Iraq on the persecution of the Christian and Yazidi minorities on behalf of ISIS is shaking world public opinion.

Is not acceptable, either moral nor civilly or religiously, that a person or a group of people are threatened and suffer violence because of their ethnicity and/or religious belonging and any act which is contrary to the universal principle of equality between human beings must be condemned without reservation.

Respect for the sacredness of human life is the basis of every civil society and must be the premise on which to base any reasoning and every action.

Today, dialogue, brotherhood, solidarity, human solidarity are seriously threatened. There is a danger of seeing burned, together with houses, places of worship, monuments and books, even centuries of coexistence, respect, and dialogue.

Syria and Iraq are, in fact, the cradle of the monotheistic religions and civilisation and have always been an example of tolerance, brotherhood, and opening up to the other, with all the difficulties that have been part of such a thing over time. And it is precisely from this point that we need to start: the dramatic events of these days should not obscure the fact that the serene and fraternal coexistence between Christians and Muslims in these two countries has lasted for centuries, since, that is, when these two great civilisations were born and developed.  It is a historical error to give the credit of the constructive and peaceful coexistence to the regimes that govern these two countries. Quite the opposite: their policies have resulted in the growing bitterness of relations between the different communities that make up the respective civil societies, creating a climate of tension that is the outpost of sectarianism.

The situation in Iraq and in Syria in recent years has become dramatic: the war waged against Iraq in 2003 and never finished (the one that was sold to the world as war to export democracy) and the repression of the regime of Damascus against what should be his own people, which began in 2011 after forty years of domination of the Assad dynasty, have caused hundreds of thousands of deaths. They are two different situations, but the consequences on the population and on social equilibria are sadly all too similar.

In fact, the war, the bombings and the rapes, kidnappings, torture, violence is the humus in which they are born and from which grow evil sprouts of terrorism.

There are many who are taking advantage of the situation of general chaos to conduct parallel wars and satisfy their own interests and the interests of those who are pulling their strings. The case of Daesh/ISIS, the infamous Islamic State of Syria and Levant, is proof of that.

Hordes of barbarian mercenaries have been infiltrated into two countries, armed and trained by foreign powers and in fact supported and given free rein by the governments of both countries and, taking advantage of the situation of total anarchy, have themselves become a power.

For more than a year the Syrians have been loudly proclaiming that ISIS is not against Assad, but fights, rapes and kills its opponents and especially blasphemes and slanders Islam saying that it operates in the name of that faith. No one has listened to the Syrians, indeed, part of politics and the press has continued to label ISIS as anti-Assad rebels, it is absolutely false because In Syria ISIS moves and operates only where government troops have withdrawn and opens fire, persecutes and massacres civilians and opponents of the regime.

Today ISIS is a military power that frightens and in the face of the escalation of its violence, which has brought to Iraq its nearing to areas where there are oil reserves, it seems that the world is waking up.  Nobody has moved a finger for the Syrian civilians (more than 80 percent Muslims), killed by these barbarians, and they even deny the massacres that have taken place, but today that the cries against the persecution of minorities are made, in Syria as in Iraq, the alarm is being sounded.

Therefore the message gets out that if to die is the Muslim majority it doesn’t matter, but woe to those who harm others. In doing so it is only playing the game of ISIS that wants to create tension and foment sectarian hatred. In this context, the regimes sing victory, posing as guardians of minorities and the already unacceptable death of innocent people is even hijacked.

It is necessary, therefore, to stop and shed some light on the matter:

1- In Syria the main causes of death is the bombing by air raids by the Syrian regime, affecting in vicious and indiscriminate manner the entire population, destroying and killing regardless of faith and ethnicity; today there have been over 200 thousand victims in 41 months, of which more than 18 thousand are children under 16 years of age. In Syria Christians, Muslims, secular people, atheists, Kurds and Armenians have been dying for over 3 years. It is a genocide that is affecting the entire population.

2- In Iraq even the UN has stopped counting the dead, but now most sources say that there are about a million; Christians are between 5 and 8% of the population, have experienced the sufferings and the atrocities that all of the other social components are undergoing. With the advance of ISIS their situation has even worsened and the threats, the started, the house to house persecutions that totally resembles Nazi style persecution. The persecution of the Yazidi is being given a religious significance, but in reality ISIS is concerned with occupying their lands and putting their hands on the oil fields.

3- ISIS does not represent the feelings, values, principles of Islam, quite the opposite: ISIS must be defined as what it is, a group (even if it defines itself as a nation) of terrorist mercenaries whose work is contrary to Islamic faith. ISIS is killing Muslims in Syria and Iraq and killing with them the other ethnic and religious components. ISIS abuses, mortifies and blasphemes the name of God. The only deity to which ISIS responds to is money. ISIS does not represent Syrians, does not represent the Iraqi people, does not represent Islam.

4- ISIS is comprised of foreign mercenaries that have nothing to do with the cause of the Syrian people who have opposed themselves to almost half a century of tyranny, nor is it with the cause of the Iraqi people who now fight for their survival after years of genocide. ISIS is a creature of international secret services that finds support in different monarchies and were formed for the purpose of “wreaking havoc”, to conduct wars by proxy.

To learn more read these articles (in Italian): http://www.sirialibano.com/tag/isis http://www.pagina99.it/news/mondo/6681/Che-succede-in-Iraq.html http://popoffquotidiano.it/2014/08/11/hillary-clinton-lisil-e-roba-nostra-ma-ci-e-sfuggito-di-mano/ http://megachip.globalist.it/Detail_News_Display?ID=107832&typeb=0

5 – The strategy of false information is harvesting many victims: photos purporting to be what they are not (to follow will be one of my article on the false story of the decapitation of Christian children) are causing reactions even from the top, among the powerful of the world. It would only take a minimum of attention and professionalism to check the origin and the matrix of a photo and a news item, but the media war is one that the regimes and terrorists are fighting – no holds barred – and careless reporting, or even complicit reporting becomes an amplifier.

For those who have faith, for those who believe, for anyone who has a conscience and a minimum of intellectual honesty it seems even superfluous to have to reiterate that there is no war in the name of God, that nothing and no one can justify the persecution, the threat, the offence and the killing of an innocent. Let us not fall into the trap of sectarian hatred, we will never cease to dialogue with each other, let us not allow the sowers of conflict outweigh the bridge builders.

It takes much determination and bravery, especially now, but it is precisely in the face of these difficulties that the world of believers of different religions and the civil society as a whole, secular, atheist, must join hands and feel that the real strength is in dialogue and the commitment to peace. It is not naïve optimism, indeed, it is much more challenging to reiterate the reasons for dialogue and bring ourselves toward the other than to erect walls and close ourselves in the hell of hatred.

If you want to imagine a manifesto of Syrians, Iraqis, of Muslims that at this moment are associated incorrectly and unfairly to terrorism we must repeat indefinitely: “No, not in our name”. Christians are our brothers, the human beings of every religion and ethnicity are our brothers and sisters.

As author of this blog, as Syrian, as Muslim I repeat too and I am proposing the campaign:

“Not_in_our_name”, to say no to persecution, false news, the sowers of hatred.

ORIGINAL http://diariodisiria.wordpress.com/2014/08/12/not_in_our_name-le-guerre-e-il-terrorismo-stanno-uccidendo-il-dialogo/

Italy's major newspaper headline claiming mass crucifixion of Christians and the tears of the Pope over this, with full size colour picture. But it's not what they claim...

Italy’s major newspaper headline claiming mass crucifixion of Christians and the tears of the Pope over this, with full size colour picture. But it’s not what they claim…

BY THE EDITORS OF SIRIALIBANO, translated and integrated with hyperlink exerpt translations by Mary Rizzo

They were not Christians, they were Muslims. They were not killed by means of crucifixion, but their already lifeless bodies were exhibited in that barbarian manner.  The crime is ghastly, no matter what religious denomination the victims belong to.  And yet it “news” of “Christians crucified in Syria” went viral in the western media, in particular in the major Italian news media.

The two major Italian newspapers Il Corriere della Sera (above) and La Repubblica (below) dedicated a great amount of space to it, bring attention to the “news” on the first page accompanied by photographs of “a man crucified in Maalula”, the small Christian small town near Damascus.

To push the directors and the heads writers towards a similar editorial choice has no doubt been the statement of Pope Francis in the official Vatican site:   “I cried when i saw the news“.

The Holy Father said, “I cried when I saw on the mass media the news of Christians being crucified in a certain non-Christian nation. Even today,” he stressed, “there are people who, in the name of God, kill and persecute. And even today we see that like the apostles they are happy to have been considered to have been worthy to undergo suffering for the name of Jesus. This is the third icon of today. The joy of the testimony.”

As you know, the assertions of the Pope are always newsworthy. And a crucified Christian in a Country infested from by al Qaida is too tasty a morsel to not take full advantage of.

The fake news did not appear only for on the pro-Assad websites, the usual Islamophobic ones or the reactionary and “anti-imperialist” (but only in one direction) sites “of the left”, but in Italy’s most important mainstream newspapers. And then it  to numerous other media outlets on radio, television and online.

Those who believe in conspiracies would even be led to think that it is a pro-Assad campaign in time to legitimise his election farce on 3 June.   It’s not quite like that.  So the question remains, “Why?”.  Is it only a matter of ignorance in good faith, then? Is it only bad journalism, incapable of verifying the information and the sources?

The facts: among the seven people killed in Raqqa there were no Christians, were all Muslims and in fact two of the crucified persons seemed to be supporters or fighters belonging to other rebel factions, the accusation against them was to have thrown some explosive devices and to have tried to kill some leaders of the al Qaeda group The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS).

To Raqqa, a town on the Euphrates controlled by ISIS, there is underway by the general population a resistance that is trying to oppose the imposition of what the al Qaedists call Islamic law. ISIS itself, accused by various sources to be highly infiltrated by foreign secret services as well as those of the regime of Damascus, has been active since the beginning of the year in daily clashes with the other rebel groups reunited under different names (Syrian Free Army, Islamic Front, Jabhat al Nusra, etc…), defined as takfiri and therefore, wicked.

Italy's second largest newspaper highlights the "crucifixions" and again, the tears of the Pope.

Italy’s second largest newspaper highlights the “crucifixions” and again, the tears of the Pope.

None of this matters. Any “news” that can present president Bashar al Assad to us as if he is the saviour of the nation (“it’s either him or al Qaida) is good enough and is going to be considered as authentic. In this sense, a Catholic site defined the killers of Raqqa as “anti-Assad militants”, attributing others as being engaged in disinformation: “In vain you will find in the Italian newspapers articles on the terrible event: some line or two buried in some article, nothing more. It is that in this war the needs of propaganda hinder the accounting of the crimes of the anti-Assad rebels, while emphasised, if not actually invented, are those of Assad…”

The same site citing another source goes as far as to even give a name to tone of the deceased: the Christian Antoine Hanna, a name that one sees over and over in this story.

But on the Jihadist forums of ISIS and in various tweets by ISIS fighters, it is possible to read the reply of these people to the tears of the Pope for the crucified Christians:  “Dear Pope Francis, the people of Raqqa were not crucified because they are Christians but for the application of the Koranic verse 5:33″. The sura in question recites: Indeed, the penalty for those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger and strive upon earth [to cause] corruption is none but that they be killed or crucified or that their hands and feet be cut off from opposite sides or that they be exiled from the land…”. This was done according to the strict application – according to ISIS – of the sharia, the Islamic law.

If the application of the sharia by ISIS e dell’ Isis was truly consistent with the literal Koranic text, the “infidels” must not be punished as such since in verse 2:62 it is in fact is written: “Indeed, those who believed and those who were Jews or Christians or Sabeans [before Prophet Muhammad] – those [among them] who believed in Allah and the Last Day and did righteousness – will have their reward with their Lord, and no fear will there be concerning them, nor will they grieve.” Already in the month of March, ISIS had killed and then bound a man to a wooden cross, with the accusation of having robbed and then killed another Muslim.

But let’s go back to “Antoine Hanna”. The news is that “a person was killed and then bound to a cross in the village of Meskene”, in the countryside of Aleppo. Strange: various Christian sources of Aleppo questioned in these days remember that in the countryside of the northern Syrian metropolis there have never been Christians.

None of this matters. The pro-Assad sites headline:  “A Syrian named Antoine Hanna in the rural zone of the town of Aleppo, was killed before the eyes of his children with the accusation of blasphemy. He refused to renounce his religion and they crucified him.” Or: “Young Christian named Antoine Hanna, crucified by the takfiri terrorists sponsored by the United States and the West, in the Maskana area… accused of anti-religious sentiment.”

This time the news had not yet been picked up by the Catholic sites.  We hope they don’t do it because the presumed Christian killed in Meskene has – coincidentally – the same name and surname of the presumed Christian killed in Raqqa. Evidently, this time the disinformation machine has a hitch.  See the ISIS press release on the crime committed in Meskene.

The photograph of the crucified man in Meskene appeared for the first time in a tweet by Dylan@ProSyriana, apparently a Syrian Christian supporter of President Assad, with the following wording: “one of three killed and crucified in Meskene (Aleppo) after having been accused of being an infidel by the rebels”.

There are no references to the fact that the man was Christian, perhaps what led to confusion in the Italian Assad supporters was the word “infidel”, which however is used by ISIS also towards other Muslim rebels, those they consider takfiri and infidels.

A source present in Meskene just contacted confirmed that the murder happened in the locality of Aneza, but denies that it involved a Christian. He insists that he was a native of Akraba, near Sfera; a refugee of Meskene is said to have recognised him as the person who manned the checkpoints of Khanaser, therefore he was a soldier or a person that worked for the regime. It is said that he was crucified by ISIS to frighten the rebel fighters stationed in the zone of Meskene so as to induce them to leave the area.

The story of the Christians persecuted in the Arabic East during wartime has been a constant throughout history by those who seek to maintain the control of the area  – political, economic but also cultural – serving to entrust the keys of power to the ruling regime.  It is not therefore anything new.

The perseverance of the Italian pro-Assad sites on this theme is noteworthy.  On these platforms the fake news spreads, as well as fake photographs that are passed off as the truth. One of the most clamorous ones was a photograph of a group of veiled and chained women next to a bearded man with a sword.

According to what these sites were spreading, it was about women of Aleppo sold as by the Salafiti in the markets. Those who were even more precise described them as Shi’a women sold as slaves after they had been raped.  What a pity that the photograph dates back to 2007 and showed some Shi’a women immortalised in a representation of the (Shi’a) holiday of Ashura in the village of Nabatiyeh in Lebanon.

In September of 2013 the Catholic news agency Fides had been forced to deny that the news concerned the killing of 130 Christians in Aleppo: “The news of a massacre of 130 Christians in Aleppo is entirely false, said to have been carried out by groups of the Syrian opposition, as reported in the past days by the Lebanese mass media and some websites.”

A priest questioned by Fides noted: Such kind of news only serves to spread fear, particularly, it has the objective of starting a sectarian war. They would also want to persuade Christians to arm themselves, making the conflict assume a character that is even more sectarian, taking a dangerous turn, close to the war of Lebanon. Furthermore, they seem to prepare the terrain for a division of the Syrian territory itself on a factious and sectarian basis.  This goes against the history, the culture and the real face of Syrian society, which has always been characterised by pluralism and the variety of its forms, in co-existence.”

In the net of propaganda also was captured the news of “a woman stoned to death by fundamentalists in Raqqa”. Of the victim only the surname is known: al Jasim. However, the photograph a still from the film “The Stoning of Soraya” in which the Iranian actress Mozhan Marno undergoes lapidation.

Spread on a pro-Assad Catholic news site as "a child from Kassab", whatever the true and brutal story behind this picture, the setting is not in Syria but in Yemen.

Spread on a pro-Assad Catholic news site as “a child from Kassab”, whatever the true and brutal story behind this picture, the setting is not in Syria but in Yemen, according to several Yemenites who have commented that it is a well-known picture there.

More recently and the day after the attack of the Armenian village (therefore Christian) of Kassab northeast of Latakia by fundamentalist militiamen, in the web a photograph circulated with the caption, “A Christian child executed by rebels in Kassab”.

The image showed a child just a few months old with a woolen hat surrounded by men that were pointing old guns at him.  It was an old photograph that had nothing to do with Syria, but instead was in Yemen.  On some sites the caption of the photograph was the following: “This child was captured by the terrorists because he is a child of another religion, therefore an infidel child, but above all he is a child of a Syrian Pro government family.”  As if by miracle, this passed from a pro-Assad site to a Catholic news site and it was used as an example of the damage caused by the “Western-supported fundamentalists against Syria and the Syrians.”

For more of a year, Syrian activists who support the revolution but oppose ISIS have been denouncing its violations against the population, in the almost total silence of the media, of the pro-Assad sites and the Catholic sites that are very attentive to news regarding Christians or gruesome news stories, as if the constant bombardment of the regime’s aeroplanes on the civilian population wasn’t brutal enough.

Now the ISIS that is being fought against by the other rebels, becomes the paradigm to represent the revolution, therefore guarantor of the safety of the Christians can only be the regime. But as the priest interviewed by Agenzia Fides, “Such news Fides “Such kind of news only serves to spread fear, particularly, it has the objective of starting a sectarian war.”

ORIGINAL: http://www.sirialibano.com/short-news/quando-morire-i-cristiani.html

Meyssan and Friend.....

Meyssan and Friend…..

From ISLAMETRO by LORENZO DECLICH translated by Mary Rizzo 

Thierry Meyssan carefully chooses the place in which he lives.
At the time of the war in Libya he was in Tripoli, in the palaces of Moammar Gaddafi.
After the war he moved to Damascus, where he has been living for two years.
But, as we read on Megachip, he has known Syria for ten years.

And Sunday, 3 November 2013, having a sudden illumination, he comes to say that “Syria has changed.”
It had not changed ten years ago, after the pale “Damascus Spring” was crushed by the young son of Hafez al-Assad, Bashar, to the sound of arrests. It has not changed since March 2011, when the people, overcoming fear, began to take to the streets knowing that they would be shot at. It changed today, but the reason for it being today, who knows what that could be.

Maybe because at the presidential palace they say that it’s time to bring closure to the circle of propaganda, now that the event of the chemical weapons has paid off and the world has come to the common conclusion that “a war has been avoided”. Perhaps because there is the need of a dusting off of the image, the idea must be reinforced that after all, “everything’s going in the right direction”.

As the intro of the piece tells us:

The media coverage of the war in Syria extends only to military, humanitarian and diplomatic actions. But all of that leaves aside the profound transformation of the country.

And if this comes from someone who lives in Damascus, presumably in the city’s centre, which is one of the few areas of Syria Bashar has not bombed, you can be sure that it is true.
One hundred and twenty thousand deaths, including eight million displaced persons and refugees do not register for Meyssan as a “transformation.”

Speaking of “humanitarian actions”, therefore, we do not register the profound change of a country. Speaking of bombardment of the population by the army serving Bashar, that proves to be indiscriminate when they affect areas beyond government control but targeted when they hit schools and hospitals in those same areas, we “leave aside” the deepest Syria, the one which has changed.

Speaking of the indolence, inaction and hypocrisy of diplomacy over Syria, we are denouncing that this situation is left to rot in indifference.

And if we want to talk about media coverage, we do not understand why the “mainstream” – and with it Thierry Meyssan – systematically has been ignoring  the voices for three years – some faint and inaccurate – of Syrian activism at home, those voices that Bashar as well as since several months, the qaidists of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, have been silencing to the sound of arrests, assassinations, torture.

And if we want to go and see “the media outlets” that host the reflections of Thierry Meissan we find that these, after all, are not as “poor”.

As they write on Megachip:

This “weekly news on foreign policy” appears simultaneously in the Arabic version of the newspaper “Al- Watan” (Syria), in the German version of the “Neue Reinische Zeitung” in the Russian language on the “Komsomolskaya Pravda”, in English on “Information Clearing House” in French on “Réseau Voltaire”.

One wonders what journalist – or one who is alleged to be – has the luck of being simultaneously translated into five languages. One has to wonder who engages in such a zealous manner to spread the thought of the embedded for Bashar.

***

Here you are.

Now one supposes that a deconstruction of Meyssan’s article will follow, but I’m already tired.
The propaganda of Bashar has won again, he works right alongside it.
But I will make one last effort, trying to direct you on how to read – unless you find yourself overcome with the urge to vomit, which would mean that you are already aware and it’s simply no use to continue – this gem of deception, creation of false trails and propaganda.

The article uses categories of thought that are considered to be those of the “left discourse”.

It speaks to those persons who, as is highlighted in the titles to the paragraphs, are concerned about things like freedom.

Hence the division into themes:
The war according to the armed opposition
Freedom of expression
Freedom of thought
Political freedom
Reactions of class

Thierry, in them, holds the bar solidly on one thing alone: to not accredit in any way the only Syrian opposition that would show how ridiculous his reasoning is.
This opposition is represented by the Syrian Local Coordination Committees, which are the backbone of the revolution against Bashar, and the galaxy of nonviolent activism (which I have mentioned before).
These two entities are the only ones to be able to speak with authority and ownership of the topics with which Meyssan headlines his paragraphs.
So it is obvious that he attempts to delete them.

As well as, since March 2011, trying to make Bashar, firing on the crowd.

And just as with initiatives that lure the unsuspecting, awkwardly composed of small groups of mindless “pacifists” in various parts of the world, including the effort afloat for some time by the nun of Bashar, Agnes Marie de la Croix.

The only way that Meyssan can achieve the goal, from the rhetorical point of view, is to seize control of the words and concepts of the real opposition, in order to build a parallel reality on them in which the opposition no longer exists and the “good people” are the friends of Bashar identified as an ideal “people” of the “poor” who seek ” freedom” and “democracy” and fights against “obscurantism”.

Let’s see how it goes.

Meyssan says more or less, “everyone is talking about civil war when in fact there has been an external aggression.”
The truth, however, is that he speaks of “civil war” when we should be speaking of the destruction of a country and a people by a mafia clan, acting like a dog that refuses to give up the bone (remember the writing on the wall? “Only Assad, or we will burn the country”).

Then he tells us that Bashar has emanated laws on freedom of expression so that today – given that “Syria has changed” – everyone is talking about politics. But he does not tell us that there are tens of thousands of political prisoners in jail. That there are mass graves near these prisons. That there are secret torture centres scattered across the country.*

Then he tells us that today, given that Syria has changed, there are those who fight for “freedom of thought”, for religious freedom, etc. taking up arms and fighting against the obscurantist terrorists, formed and trained by the West, who are in the opposition.

But among these people who are fighting he does not include those who truly have been part of the struggle, revolting against Bashar, often paying with their lives, and now becoming a victim of those extremists – which among other things do not identify with the revolution of March 2011, they have another agenda – one that Bashar has done everything to foment.

These people who are the true part of the struggle for freedom are activists and representatives of those Local Coordination Committees mentioned above.

Persons whom Meyssan simply wants to wipe from the face of the earth.

What a guy!

An easy-going guy who then tells us that there are so many parties that we cannot even count them. That people used to watch al-Jazeera and now they watch government channels or channels of the Shi’a network. That the snipers who fired on the crowd they were terrorists, they were not the army of Bashar. That the internal Syrian intelligence services, the Mukhabarat, if the first part good and part bad  have now become absolutely good and fight with us, with all of us east to west north to south, for freedom.

Other pleasant lies follow, up to the “Class reactions”, which comprises the final gem.

Meyssan, without ever obviously mentioning the mafia that is in power, is able to say that the rich have all left and what remains are the people, a people that combats against the evil of the West, incarnated by the terrorists. A people who will win against all odds. The amount of lies can be summed up entirely in this penultimate sentence:

This war has bloodied Syria, of which half of the cities and infrastructure have been destroyed to satisfy the appetites and fantasies of the Western and Gulf powers.

While the tragic truth is that the brutal dictator Bashar al-Assad has destroyed Syria and massacred the Syrian people for the sole purpose of not leaving his power and privilege. And that there is no solution to the conflict if he and his gang of criminals do not go away and die far from Syria.

——

* I can already imagine the pro-Assad that says, “if they are secret how do you know that they exists?” My answer is “fuck you, you idiot.”

——

P.S. My congratulations go to Megachip but especially friends of the network of “Globalist “, with which I have worked in the past. This stuff, dear readers, is quite creepy and there is no policy of clicking “like” that can justify the publication, not even via syndication. Make an analysis for yourselves, find the answers. Or let the world go on as it is, between a bit of light porno that passes for network TV and a Meyssan, at the core, there really is no difference between them.

http://islametro.altervista.org/la-voce-damasco/

This is a transcript of a presentation given by Palestinian anarchist Budour Hassan on 17 November 2013 at a Teach in on Syria in New York organized by the MENA Solidarity Newtork US . There is a link to the video of the presentation below.

*******

In April of 2011 a famous megastar Egyptian blogger told Syrian revolutionaries that they needed to raise Palestinian flags during the demonstrations on Friday just to prove that they support the Palestinian resistance and to deny the narrative by the regime that the regime supports the Palestinian cause.

Now I asked myself then, do Syrians have to do that? Do Syrians have to raise the Palestinian flag just to prove that they support Palestine? Do Syrians have to show their nationalist credentials so the world supports their cause? And the answer was clear to me then: No, Syrians do not have to do that. Now a Syrian friend told me at the start of the uprising that we avoided raising Palestinian flags and talking about Palestine not because we don’t support the Palestinian cause, but because this cause was exploited by the regime to a degree that turned it into just a political tool, and we love Palestine so much that we don’t agree to turn the cause into a political tool, and this is why we avoided using it. And I think that Syrians do not have to do this, Syrians do not have to wave a Palestinian flag to prove that they support us. Because Palestine is not a flag. Definitely Palestine is much more than that.

Palestine is the refugees in Yarmouk camp who supported the revolution from the first day, who aided displaced Syrians and who participated in protests, documented the uprising, and helped as much as they could. The revolution is also the Palestinian refugees in al Raml refugee camp in Latakia who took a hard beating by the regime and had to deal with a heavy crackdown starting from July 2011. And the revolution lives not in the palaces of the regime, nor in the speeches of a resistance leader who thinks that just because he leads a resistance movement this gives him the right to speak in the name of Palestinians, and to kill innocent people in Syria not just in the name of resistance but also in the name of Palestine. So this is why I think that Syrians do not have to prove anything to anyone.

Secondly, even though if we suppose that the Syrian regime does in fact support the Palestinian resistance, does it mean that this allows the Syrian regime to control Syria, to prevent people from expressing their opinions, to kill and torture hundreds of thousands of Syrians just because they dare say no to more than 40 years of oppression, to more than 40 years of injustice? Of course not. Even if Bashar al Assad was the only person capable of liberating Palestine I would not support him, and I’m sure that many Palestinians would not do so either. Because our liberation cannot be established on the enslavement of another people, particularly when this enslavement is an enslavement of our sisters and brothers in Syria.

And in fact the truth is that the Syrian regime has never truly supported Palestine; for the Syrian regime, Palestine has always been a fig leaf and always been a political tool. And it started from the 1970s when the Syrian regime helped other militias in Lebanon to crack down on the refugees in Tel al-Zaatar. The siege and massacre in Tel al-Zaatar cannot be forgotten. And the massacres that the regime helped the Amal party in Lebanon commit in the 1980s also against refugees in Lebanon and against the PLO cannot be forgotten either. And the siege the regime is imposing in Yarmouk refugee camp, preventing people from getting medical aid or baby milk, preventing people from going in and out of the refugee camp, cannot be tolerated and cannot be just ignored, as many are doing unfortunately just because they think that this regime is for resistance, and that this regime is for the human rights of Palestinians.

Now the thing is that me as a Palestinian, I don’t need to say this for many people just to convince them about the justice of the Syrian cause. Because in my opinion it is very clear that this revolution was a revolution for freedom and dignity. But unfortunately for many of us here in Palestine, because there is a polarization among Palestinians, as is the case in many other Arab countries, about the Syrian regime, we had to say it over and over again and to try to convince our comrades — or our former comrades – that they need to stop supporting the Syrian regime, that all we hear about the Syrian regime’s support of resistance is nothing but propaganda.

Now unfortunately it didn’t really help. People mostly stick to their opinions regarding the regime. If we want to talk about what the reaction of Palestinians toward the Syrian revolution is, it varies. Unfortunately the left, mostly the mainstream left, supports the Assad regime. And here lies the irony, because one of the most supportive parties of the regime is called the Israeli Communist Party, and it supports the regime because, it says, “Well, this regime is against imperialism.” But at the same time these people had absolutely no problem in participating in protests alongside Zionists in Tel Aviv, liberal Zionists for instance. So how can you say that you support the Syrian regime because it is against imperialism and on the other hand participate in protests with Zionists?

And also there are others who say that we supported the Syrian Revolution when it was nonviolent, but then after it got violent we couldn’t support it anymore, and it was hijacked. So yes, the Syrian Revolution was indeed hijacked, and we know that there are many Salafis, many jihadists and many other groups, and many pro-America and pro-imperialist groups that tried to hijack the Syrian Revolution. But that does not by any means tarnish the Syrian Revolution, and it also doesn’t mean that just because a revolutionary movement was hijacked that we should stand on the sidelines and stop supporting it.

Of course there are still so many revolutionaries working on the ground, many of them are nonviolent, and there are even many nonsectarian armed brigades that we cannot ignore. If the revolution was hijacked we don’t just go and start blaming the people for it being hijacked. We actually do everything to side with the people in order to get the revolution back on the right track. And this is what many leftists couldn’t understand.

Now on the other side of the spectrum you have the right wingers and the Islamists who support the Syrian Revolution but not truly because they believe in the right of freedom and dignity, but because they think that it is a Sunni uprising against an Alawite regime. Now this is why it was for me very hard to participate in protests organized by Islamists in support of the Revolution, because for me, although of course there are religious movements inside the Revolution, it still a Revolution for freedom, equality, social justice and dignity. And this is why I cannot agree with the line of the Islamists here in Palestine who support the Revolution just because they see it as Sunni versus Alawite.

Now there is a small section among the Palestinian left that supports the Syrian Revolution that doesn’t lecture Syrians about what they have to do, and how they failed. And we managed to organize a few protests, in Haifa for instance, in Jeruslaem, and in other places in Palestine. Although they were small protests I think it meant a lot for us to show the Syrian people that yes there are people in Palestine who stand with you, and there are people who don’t buy into the regime propaganda.

I mean it says a lot that in Syria right now there is an intelligence branch, one of the most notorious intelligence branches in Syria, it’s called “Palestine.” That means that there are people being tortured, including Palestinans, by the way, that are being tortured in the name of Palestine, in the name of our country, in the name of our cause, because we believe it is a cause for freedom.

Now to those Palestinians and to those people who believe that the Syrian regime is truly supportive of Palestine, and who do not support the Revolution, who stand on the side and say “no, we don’t want to support the Revolution, or who remain neutral: I say you have a Palestine and I have my own.

Your Palestine is an intelligence branch in Damascus that kills and tortures people, while my Palestine is Khaled Bakrawi, the martyr from the Yarmouk refugee camp, who was arrested and tortured to death. Your Palestine is a speech by Bashar al-Assad, while my Palestine is the chants of Syrian freedom fighters in Hama. Your Palestine is just empty rhetoric, while my Palestine is people in Bustan al-Qasr raising the picture of Samer Assawi, the hunger-striking prisoner.

My Palestine is people from the north to the south chanting in solidarity with Gaza during the recent war on Gaza last year and saying “Oh Gaza, we are with you ‘til death.” They did it when they were bombarded by the Assad regime and they were shelled. My Palestine is that of the Syrian Revolutionary Youth in Damascus who raised a pamphlet in solidarity with the Palestinians in the Nakab and said “Prawer shall not pass!”

So Syrian revolutionaries, even when they face the most terrible cases of torture, of persecution, and of crackdown, they still remember their sisters and brothers in Palestine, they still chant in solidarity with them and do not forget about the prisoners.

So I think it is very important to remember that, and to remember the hundreds of thousands of Syrians and Palestinian prisoners who still languish in regime jails, for example Ali Shihabi, the communist Palestinian who has been detained in Syrian regime jails for almost a year, and Maher al-Jajeh also, another youth activist from Yarmouk refugee camp, who has been detained by the Syrian regime for more than a year and no one knows what is going on with his case now.

Also we will not forget the martyr Anas Amara, who was murdered simply because he was trying to get aid into Yarmouk refugee camp and trying to break the siege. And my Palestine is that also of Jihad Asad Muhammad, the Syrian journalist who even prior to the Syrian Revolution was always writing in solidarity with Palestine, and who like many others did not believe that this Palestine is Bashar al-Assad’s Palestine, but this is a cause that interests all Arabs.

So I just ask one last thing: I ask people who think that Bashar al-Assad supports Palestine or still believe his propaganda, just go over history a little bit, read more about what he and his father did to Palestine and to the Palestinian camps. And even if you are not convinced, don’t let this fact, don’t let political gains affect your support of the Syrian revolution. Because it is obviously not about geopolitics. We do not know whether if the revolution wins in Syria how will that affect the Palestinian cause. It might indeed damage us, I do not know. But I do not care on the other hand. Because my support of the Syrian Revolution is unconditional.

And I do believe that even though it is getting more and more complicated, and despite all the terrible groups that are trying to hijack the Syrian Revolution, especially the Islamic State of Syria and Iraq, which we obviously oppose like so many Syrians, the same Syrians who started protest against the regime and are also protesting against the Islamic State, so I have faith in these people. I have faith in a woman like Souad Nofal, I have faith in those who are so resilient and steadfast in Damascus and in Daraa, birthplace of the Revolution, and in Aleppo and in Salamieh, the fantastic city that has been protesting since the first days of the uprising.

So I have faith in these people, that even though things are getting more and more complicated, that they can manage to keep the uprising going, and even if this means bad things for my cause I really do not care. What I care about is the freedom and dignity of my Syrian sisters and brothers, and to reject that my name or my country or my cause be used or coopted by the Syrian regime to kill and persecute my sisters and brothers in Syria.

agnes (1) (StWC) invited Mother Superior Agnès Mariam de la Croix to speak at its November 30 International Anti-War Conference. Fellow guests included MPs Diane Abbott and Jeremy Corbyn and journalists Owen Jones and Jeremy Scahill.

Responding to a firestorm of protest, Jones and Scahill vowed to boycott the event if the Syrian-based nun spoke alongside them. Eventually she decided to “withdraw” from the conference and StWC issued a statement without explanation. Nor did it divulge why anyone would object to a Syrian cleric’s participation in an ostensibly pro-peace event.

Here are some reasons why we consider Mother Agnès-Mariam’s inclusion in an anti-war event to be a “red line” for opponents of conflict. Despite contrary claims, she is a partisan to—rather than a neutral observer of—the war in Syria.

Mother Agnès claimed that the Syrian opposition faked films of Bashar al-Assad’s 21 August 2013 sarin-gas attack on Ghouta in the suburbs of Damascus. In her 50-page dossier on the horrible events of that fateful morning, she wrote that the dead, gassed children documented in those videos “seem mostly sleeping” and “under anaesthesia.”

According to Father Paolo Dall’Oglio, a Jesuit priest exiled by the Assad regime for speaking out against its suppression of peaceful protests and currently a prisoner of al-Qa’ida’s Syrian affiliate, ISIS, Mother Agnes “has been consistent in assuming and spreading the lies of the regime, and promoting it through the power of her religious persona. She knows how to cover up the brutality of the regime”.

Moreover, Syrian Christians for Peace have denounced Mother Agnès for claiming there had never been a single peaceful demonstration in Syria. The also accused her of failing to disburse any of the money she raised in the name of their beleaguered community. They have asked “that she be excommunicated and prevented from speaking in the name of the Order of Carmelites.”

Having a massacre denier and apologist for war criminals like Mother Agnès speak alongside respected journalists such as Jeremy Scahill and Owen Jones is not only an insult to them and their principles. It is also, more insidiously, a means of exploiting their credibility and moral authority to bolster hers, both of which are non-existent.  No journalist should be sharing a platform with Agnès when she stands accused of being complicit in the death of French journalist Gilles Jacquier by his widow and a colleague who accompanied him into Homs during the trip arranged by Mother Agnès in January 2012.

Given that her UK speaking tour is still scheduled to last from the 21st to 30th November we, the undersigned, feel compelled to express our profound and principled objections to those who give a platform to a woman condemned by Syrian pro-peace Christians for greasing the skids of the regime’s war machine.

Signatories:

  1. Prof. Gilbert Achcar, SOAS
  2. Assaad al-Achi, Local Coordination Committees in Syria
  3. Rime Allaf, Syrian writer
  4. Omar al-Assil, Syrian Non-Violence Movement
  5. Hussam Ayloush, Chairman, Syrian American Council
  6. Noor Barotchi, Bradford Syria Solidarity
  7. Mark Boothroyd, International Socialist Network
  8. Kat Burdon-Manley, International Socialist Network
  9. Clara Connolly, Human Rights lawyer
  10. Paul Conroy, photojournalist
  11. Donnacha DeLong, National Union of Journalists
  12. Hannah Elsisi, Egyptian Revolutionary Socialist
    Raed Fares, Head of Kafranabel Media Centre
  13. Naomi Foyle, writer and co-ordinator of British Writers in Support of Palestine
  14. Razan Ghazzawi, Syrian blogger and activist
  15. Christine Gilmore,  Leeds Friends of Syria
  16. Golan Haji, poet and translator
  17. Marcus Halaby, staff writer, Workers Power
  18. Sam Charles Hamad, activist
  19. Nebal Istanbouly, Office Manager of the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces (SOC) in the UK
  20. Tehmina Kazi, human rights activist
  21. Ghalia Kabbani, Syrian journalist and writer
  22. Khaled Khalifa, Syrian writer
  23. Malik Little, blogger
  24. Amer Scott Masri, Scotland4Syria
  25. Margaret McAdam, Unite Casa Branch NW567 (pc)
  26. Yassir Munif, sociologist and activist
  27. Tom Mycock, Unite shop steward (pc)
  28. Maryam Namazie, Spokesperson, Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain and Fitnah – Movement for Women’s Liberation
  29. Tim Nelson, Unison Shop Steward (pc)
  30. Louis Proyect, Counterpunch contributor
  31. Martin Ralph, VP Liverpool TUC (pc)
  32. Ruth Riegler, co-founder of Radio Free Syria, Syrian International Media Alliance
  33. Mary Rizzo, activist, translator and blogger
  34. Christopher Roche and Dima Albadra, Bath Solidarity
  35. Walid Saffour, Representative of the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces (SOC) in the UK
  36. Gita Sahgal, Centre for Secular Space
  37. David St Vincent, contributing writer and editor, National Geographic Books
  38. Reem Salahi, civil rights lawyer
  39. Salim Salamah, Palestinian blogger
  40. Yassin al-Haj Saleh, Syrian writer
  41. Richard Seymour, author
  42. Bina Shah, author and contributor to the International New York Times
  43. Leila Shrooms, founding member of Tahrir-ICN
  44. Luke Staunton, International Socialist Network
  45. KD Tait, National Secretary, Workers Power
  46. Peter Tatchell, human rights campaigner
  47. Paris Thompson, International Socialist Network
  48. Hassan Walid, Anas el-Khani and Abdulwahab Sayyed Omar, British Solidarity for Syria
  49. Robin Yassin-Kassab, author and co-editor of Critical Muslim
  50. Qusai Zakariya, activist from Moadamiyeh, Syria
  51. Nisreen al-Zaraee and Wisam al-Hamoui. Freedom Days
  52. Tasneem al-Zeer, activist
  53. Razan Zeitouneh, human rights lawyer

    originally published on: http://pulsemedia.org/2013/11/20/open-letter-to-the-stop-the-war-coalition/