Tuesday, May 31, 2011

100 Years Later, A Black Man Finally Loves Joplin

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

100 Years Later, A Black Man Finally Loves Joplin

By Abe Sauer | May 31, 2011

"I love Joplin! I love Joplin." So began President Obama in his Sunday address to the town of Joplin, Missouri, smudged from the face of the earth by a tornado a week before.

"I love you, Obama!" yelled a Joplin resident in the audience.

While there is much hope to be had in Joplin's will to rebuild, there is even more to be found in the obliterated town's welcoming of Obama. About a century ago, a Joplin lynch mob attempted to drive every last African-American resident out of town, and pretty much succeeded.

It's been a long time since an African-American publicly loved Joplin, or vice versa.

From the beginning, Joplin had a reputation for wildness even by Missouri frontier standards. Its early years were so crime-ridden, the city had a period that came to be well known as Joplin's "Reign of Terror." Lawmen, the nearest of which was usually tens of miles away, rarely dared set foot there. The last time Joplin received this much national attention was when Bonnie and Clyde's Joplin hideout was discovered and the gang shot its way out of town, killing two officers, including one of the city's detectives. It was Joplin where the couple's iconic pictures were found.

And when Joplin last received the attention of an American president, it was just after World War II. Larry Wood, author of Wicked Joplin, wrote that Eisenhower said, in a post-WWII radio address announcing that stationed U.S. servicemen would be allowed to fraternize with local German women, "Now, Berlin will be like Joplin, Missouri on a Saturday night."

Part of the uglier element of the reputation Eisenhower referenced was forged just after the turn of the century. It's an event that makes Obama's visit to Joplin, and Joplin's response to that visit, so meaningful.

It had been just 50 weeks since a tornado had swept through Joplin, killing four when the town would make the national news, again for disaster. This one was man-made.

The April 16, 1903 Boston Evening Standard headline read: "Lynching at Joplin, MO. Negroes then driven from the town." The Standard, like The New York Times report from the same day, referred to the lynched man, Thomas Gilyard, as "a tramp negro."

The explosion of racial violence in Joplin in April 1903 hardly manifested unexpectedly. After the Civil War, Missouri was notoriously slow to acknowledge the South's loss, after being fast to support its beginning.

From "bleeding Kansas" to Dred Scott, no state lobbied for confrontation more than Missouri. While the marquee battles to the east make the PBS documentaries, a full fifth of all recorded military battles during the war occurred in and around southern Missouri. Those records do not include the pervasive and brutal guerrilla warfare. In the 1864 Centralia Massacre, pro-Confederate insurgent William Anderson had 24 captured Union troops executed. Historians have noted that attacks by Missouri Confederate fundamentalists continued well into the 1880s. Jesse James, present at the Centralia slaughter, would go on to be Missouri's most famous racist, to be glorified by Brad Pitt, Colin Farrell, porn stars and reality-TV Nazi motorcycle mechanics.

In Joplin specifically, anti-African American violence was bubbling in the months before April, 1903, with Gilyard's lynching just the apex of several years of racial agitation in the region.

August 1901: In Pierce City, a town 30 miles from Joplin (that itself was destroyed by a tornado in 2003), a mob of a thousand lynched Will Godley.

Earlier that day, the body of Caralle Wild, a white woman, was found in the woods, her throat slit "ear to ear." The Pierce City mob went to the jail where the suspect was held and, encountering little resistance, dragged Godley outside and hanged him. The evidence against Godley was circumstantial, but deemed "conclusive" by early newspaper reports of the lynching. Unsatisfied, the mob shot at Godley's body swinging from the Lawrence Hotel—hitting and killing a white boy in the audience.

According to Kimberly Harper's White Man's Heaven: The Lynching and Expulsions of Blacks in the Southern Ozarks, 1894 – 1909, in a move that was specific to blooded-up lynch mobs of that period and that region, there was then a call to "run the niggers out of town." The Pierce City throng descended on the colored section of the town, where it engaged in a firefight with, and killed, African-Americans Pete Hampton and French Godley. Out of ammo, the rioters broke into the Missouri National Guard armory and began shooting at African-Americans, including women and children. Then they torched the houses in that area, residents and all.

Many of the fleeing African-Americans went to nearby Joplin, an influx that probably contributed to a carbon copy of the events 18 months later.

Will Godley was posthumously cleared of guilt, of the murder anyway; he remains guilty of being black in Lawrence County in 1901.

As justifications for lynching went, "negro attacks white woman" was the hit tune of its day. Nothing built an lynch mob faster, or made it angrier and more violent, than the rumor that a white women had been so defiled. It was almost never true; nor was it exclusive to the South.

Though the state rarely makes it into a conversation about 20th century racial violence, Duluth, Minnesota residents lynched three African-American circus workers in 1920, 17 years after the Joplin riots. In typical fashion, authorities surrendered the victims from the safety of jail to a mob that had formed outside after rumors spread that a white women had been raped. Later medical examinations proved no such crime happened. Not uncommon, a postcard of the lynchings was sold.

On May 21st, less than a year after the Pierce City riots, African-American William Jones was arrested in Joplin after the "burly negro" was accused of attempted assault on Mrs. John Parmater. A large crowd of what one report called "infuriated miners" gathered around the jail, waiting for Mrs. Parmater to arrive and positively ID the suspect, after which time it was assumed they would "appeal" to Joplin authorities for his release for rope justice. William Jones was saved, in part, by heavy rains dampening the mob's spirit.

On May 22nd, Mrs. Parmeter finally showed up to the jail and, according to the Nevada Daily Mail, "after carefully looking at Jones" was "unable to state positively that he was the Negro."

No such luck for Dudley Morgan, an African American in nearby Texas who, a day after Jones' narrow escape, was captured and accused of assaulting a white woman. The Arizona Republican described his fate: "The crowd clamored for a slow death and began with burning out the victim's eyes—many women attended the festivities but on account of the crowd were unable to catch a glimpse of the tortured wretch."

There had been rumors of lynchings in the rural parts of Jasper County in previous years, but not in Joplin. In 1900, an African American named Barnett had narrowly escaped a Joplin lynching. His crime? Suspicion of raping a white woman.

For Joplin, the third time would be the charm.

On April 15, 1903, an African American named Thomas Gilyard was taken into custody for the murder of a policeman. White Man’s Heaven notes that Gilyward had been arrested for less than an hour before the Joplin streets had filled with around two thousand angry men. The mob soon demanded Gilyard be surrendered to justice.

Reports indicate that town officials made pleas to those gathered about the importance of trials and the law, beyond what authorities often did in the face of such mobs. In many cases, police even did the favor of bringing the men out. In Joplin, the rioters had to break the jail door down itself. The police had been considerate enough to move Gilyward to his own cell, lest the wrong prisoner be served another man's justice.

The timing for Gilyward could not have been worse.

Not only had Joplin mobs had two recent unsuccessful lynchings, but also the trial of the participants in the Pierce City riots had just concluded in February, with not-guilty findings all around. It was a widely covered trial that many nearby Joplin residents certainly followed. The lack of convictions in the results could only have served to embolden the growing mob. Add to this, the fact that many of the African-Americans fleeing Pierce City came to Joplin.

The New York Times report of the event notes that "the first act of the mob after hanging the negro was to demand the release from jail of a local character known as 'Hickory Bill' under arrest on the charge of assaulting a negro." The Boston Standard report notes that this demand "was granted."

After driving all the African-Americans from the streets to the north "colored" part of town, the Times says that the houses were "fired" while "the mob made endeavors to prevent the Fire Department from extinguishing the flames and were partially successful."

"Reuter's dispatches" reported that "several hundred" Pierce City residents, apparently unfulfilled by their work a year earlier, hurried to Joplin to join in the chaos and murder.

In the riot's aftermath, authorities, in what would become standard practice in the coming decade, spirited away to the county jail another African-American who had been seen with Gilyard before the shooting.

The Joplin lynching was national news not for the lynching, but for the subsequent riot that aimed to exterminate the town's African-American population. This is cast in stark contrast by the April 17th report on the incident in Iowa's Carroll Herald. Printed just below a long telling of Joplin events is a brief note, almost like a correction, titled "Innocent Negro Killed." It reported that Ed Porter, an African-American who had been burned to death the day before in New Orleans for the murder of a white woman, was innocent "beyond any cause for doubt." A lynching was only news if accompanied by something more important. Joplin was more important.

Harper wrote:

…Rather than simply showing a black community how it was expected to behave, white mobs entirely destroyed African American communities… one can argue that expulsion was one of the most extreme forms of social control as African Americans were forced to leave behind everything they had worked for and demonstrated their weakness as they could not prevent expulsion, and it sent the message to nearby black communities to remain complacent or else face the same fate.
The same sad tale would play out 75 miles away in 1906.

On April 14th, almost three years to the day after the Joplin lynching and riot, a Springfield mob removed from jail and lynched two African-Americans. They later returned to lynch a third. Then they burned all three for the crime of raping a white woman, for which they were later found innocent. Once again, African-Americans fled.

The lynching and riot in the Queen City of the Ozarks was so gruesome and widely reported that it largely scrubbed from memory the smaller previous incidents in Pierce and Joplin.

In the wake of the Joplin lynching and riots, a tired story ran its course. Politicians proclaimed searches for justice. Names were named. But really only three. "Hickory Bill" was acquitted, as was another man. In June of 1903, one man, Sam Mitchell, was found guilty of leading the mob, and being the one who hung the rope. He was sentenced to ten years in prison.

After his retrial in November, Mitchell was freed—despite his alibi's subsequent arrest for perjury.

Summing up the sentiment of the community was a widely printed letter from an anonymous Africa- American former slave, a 30-year resident of the town. From the version printed under the headline Titled "What is left in life for a negro in Joplin?" in the April 20th Chicago Daily Tribune:

"I call my home, Joplin. I suppose the money I have paid in the way of taxes has gone to school funds to educate people such as came to my house last Wednesday night and broke out my window panes and routed my wife and children and scared them nearly to death. I found them in a box car near the railroad track… and I sit in my house and hear the howling fiends utter oaths that drove me mad: 'Get out, niggers, this is a white man's town.'

Now, would I say again. I would say, O Lord, if there is any, have mercy on my soul, if a black man who lives in Joplin has any."

The Joplin and nearby Pierce City mobs accomplished their goal, significantly reducing their respective African-American populations. Lawrence County's African-American population was a third its size ten years after Pierce City.

Ironically, in the years after the lynchings, Joplin residents complained about the press sullying the community's name by connecting it with the actions in Pierce City.

For years, the legacy of the riots informed race relations in Joplin. In November of 1912, when a "negro minister" was charged with "entertaining young white girls in his office," authorities, fearing another riot, whisked him and "an accomplice" away to the county jail, despite the minister's insistence of innocence. Hearing the news, much of the remaining and rebuilding African-American population of Joplin left.

Four years later, in 1916, Jasper County authorities were doing the dance again. Fearing another lynching, police sneaked from one jail to anther an African-American charged with the robbery and shooting of a train conductor just outside Joplin.

Pierce City and Joplin have made pains to forget these incidents. When a local newspaper editor created an exhibit of the Pierce City lynchings in 1991, it was removed after complaints. Meanwhile, the first half of Joplin's city motto is "Proud of Our Past…" While its local paper, The Joplin Globe, willingly reports on Pierce City's lynching and its subsequent inclusion in the Independent Lens documentary about African-American ethnic cleansing, Banished, it almost never mentions Joplin's own similar incident, even if the town's present clearly still struggles with its past. (To this day, Joplin itself is about 90% white, and Jasper and Newton counties are about 92% white.)

What would Hickory Bill say today as an African American president walked amongst the debris of his ruined city? Would Sam Mitchell again have flung up his rope? Probably neither; had both Joplin men had their way, Obama never would been born, his father hanged from some unknown pole, charged, if not convicted, of polluting a white woman, even if she was a Kansan.

In the bigger picture, 100 years is not a particularly long time; and yet when a white Joplin youth approached Obama on Sunday and excitedly asked for an autograph on his shirt, it might as well have been an eternity. The President grinned and obliged and they slapped one another on the back chummily, both likely numb to the history that was and the history they were.

One hundred years after "a negro of Joplin" publicly questioned if "the people of Joplin are so hardened" that they had forsaken the "love of God," another publicly told the people of Joplin God had blessed them, fulfilling the second part of Joplin's motto "...Shaping Our Future."

One hundred years after the darkest moment in the city's history, a black man loved Joplin… and Joplin loved him back.

Abe Sauer can be reached at abesauer@ gmail.com. He is reluctantly on Twitter.

Joplin Globe illustration via Historic Joplin.

Sudan Parties Sign Accord on Border Security

Sudan parties sign accord on border security

By Uma Julius

May 30, 2011 (JUBA) – Sudan’s two main political parties, the National Congress Party (NCP) and the south-based Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) on Monday signed a joint position paper that governs border security between north and south.

The agreement, signed in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa details the establishment of a joint political and security mechanism for the two neighboring regions, under the leadership of the two defense ministers and the chiefs of staff from both the northern as well as the southern army.

“The agreement also establishes a common border zone between north and south Sudan, which is to be demilitarized and jointly monitored and patrolled,” partly reads a communique from the African Union (AU) high-level implementation panel for Sudan headed by former South African president Thabo Mbeki.

Mahmoud Suleiman and Salva Mathok signed the agreement on behalf of the NCP and SPLM respectively, which was witnessed by the AU.

Meanwhile, this agreement is expected to pave way for further negotiations on key security issues between the two parties, earmarked to be convened by the AU panel in a week or so.

The accord comes barely two weeks after the northern army, the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF), made a quick and successive take over of the disputed oil-producing region of Abyei.

An estimated 30,000-40,000 people have since been displaced from the area, although southern officials put the figure at about 150,000.


Syria Grants General Amnesty Including to Political Detainees

Syria grants general amnesty including to political detainees

by Fadi Abu Halawa

DAMASCUS, May 31 (Xinhua) -- Syria's embattled President Bashar al-Assad issued on Tuesday a decree granting general amnesty to political detainees.

The amnesty will cover all crimes committed before May 31, including those of banned political opposition movements such an Muslim Brotherhood, according to the state-run SANA news agency. It will also commute the sentences for some common crimes committed before May 31 to half.

The amnesty is the second within two months. Al-Assad issued an amnesty last month to minor crimes including theft, forgery and military desertion.

Hasan Abdul Azeem, a political dissident, told Xinhua in an interview that the amnesty should include all the political detainees without any exception and must be accompanied with stopping shooting on peaceful protests and pulling army units out of the cities.

"The authorities must start national dialogue with all representatives to set schedule for the comprehensive reform," Abdul Azeem said.

Al-Assad reportedly ordered earlier Tuesday the formation of a seven-member delegation headed by Vice President Farouq Al-Shara to resolve the country's recent unrest.

Syria has been engulfed with a wave of protests since March 15 calling for reforms and more freedom in the country.

Right groups said thousands of political and right activists were arrested by the authorities. Al-Assad reportedly has released hundreds since he took office in July, 2000.

The president, who are facing unprecedented anti-government protests sweeping the country, has made remarkable concessions including lifting the 48-year state of emergency, sacking the government and carrying out some economic reforms.

The concessions, however, have failed so far to put an end to the mounting pro-change protests, particularly after hundreds of Syrians were reportedly killed in the ten-week turmoil.

While Syrian human rights groups accuse the authorities of killing over 1,000 citizens and with another 10,000 arrested or gone missing, Damascus insists that the unrest is the work of " armed terrorist gangs" propelled by foreign conspiracy.

"The amnesty is a response to the legitimate demands of the Syrian people and a practical application lifting the state of emergency," Syrian journalist Ali al-Shahir told Xinhua.

He added that "the execution of the reform program announced recently by the government needs time as the political leadership is keen on meeting the people's demands."


UNICEF calls for "immediate efforts by all parties" in Syria to spare civilians during unrest

UNITED NATIONS, May 31 (Xinhua) -- With the death toll reportedly increasing in Syria during the unrest which started in March, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) on Tuesday called "for immediate efforts by all parties to spare civilians, particularly children and women, the most vulnerable populations."

Syria rules out abolishment of constitutional Article No. 8

DAMASCUS, May 31 (Xinhua) -- Syria will not abolish Article No. 8 in its constitution, which stipulates the al-Baath party to be " the ruler of state and society," al-Watan daily, citing a senior official, reported on Tuesday.

Violence Erupts in Yemen Cities After Ceasefire Fails


Violence erupts in Yemen cities after cease-fire fails

Heavy fighting erupts in Sana between Yemeni government forces and backers of a tribal rival to President Ali Abdullah Saleh, and security forces fire on protesters in Taiz, adding to the death toll.

By Iona Craig, Los Angeles Times
June 1, 2011
Reporting from Sana, Yemen

Yemen's capital and other cities again erupted into violent chaos Tuesday after a cease-fire collapsed between forces loyal to President Ali Abdullah Saleh and tribal fighters, who seized at least four government buildings.

The heavy fighting in Sana began late Monday evening as Saleh's Republican Guard troops and supporters of his rival tribal chief Sadiq Ahmar pounded each other in fresh clashes. Mortar-shell explosions and gunfire ripped the air early Tuesday.

South of Sana, security forces opened fire on demonstrators in the city of Taiz, bringing the death toll there since Sunday to 50, according to reports received by the United Nations. Yemen's opposition put the death toll at 100. In the southern coastal town of Zinjibar, government officials said five soldiers were killed in an ambush by Islamic militants.

The fighting in Sana centered around the northern district of Hasaba, where Ahmar lives. Black smoke filled the sky. Most of the neighborhood was deserted, but some Hasaba residents refused to leave their homes, fearing looters and armed men would take over their properties.

"This morning was the most intense fighting we've seen yet," said one local resident brandishing an AK-47, as he stayed to defend his property. "If I leave I will have no home to come back to. They will destroy everything."

The neighborhood had turned into a battle zone after Saleh refused to sign a regionally backed agreement to leave office after four months of pro-democracy protests. Shortly after plans for the signing collapsed, Saleh's troops traded fire with fighters loyal to Ahmar, the head of the powerful Hashid tribe, which counts Saleh as a member. The two sides battled all last week before agreeing to a cease-fire Saturday.

But Tuesday, Ahmar's tribesmen took control of the Interior Ministry, the Water Ministry, the ruling General People's Congress party building and Hasaba's police station.

Saleh's command over Sana is shrinking. The west of the capital lies under the control of the 1st Armored Division, whose commander, Gen. Ali Mohsen Ahmar, defected in mid-March after 52 antigovernment protesters were shot dead by snipers. Saleh maintains control of the southern neighborhood of Sabaeen, home to the presidential palace.

Yemen's state-run news agency denied accusations that the violence in Taiz was part of an organized crackdown against protesters, stating that "armed groups" from the opposition coalition had attacked a security station and kidnapped soldiers.

Craig is a special correspondent.

Martin Luther King's Daughter Leaves Atlanta Megachurch

Martin Luther King's daughter leaves Atlanta megachurch

10:29pm EDT

ATLANTA (Reuters) - Bernice King, the daughter of the late civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., has left a suburban Atlanta megachurch that has been at the center of a recent sex controversy, and plans to start her own ministry.

Bernice King, an ordained minister, has been a member of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church for more than eight years.

Late last year, four young men sued the church's pastor, the Reverend Eddie Long, charging he coerced them into having sex. Last week, the lawyer for the young men announced the matter had been "resolved," but would release no further details.

"I know that I had a pastoral calling," King told a radio interviewer on Tuesday when asked about her decision to leave New Birth. She said she consulted with Long about her decision to launch a ministry.

Long built New Birth from just 300 members in 1987 to more than 25,000 today.

The church, set on a campus east of Atlanta, runs a global network of ministries and businesses. It hosted the funeral in 2006 of Coretta Scott King, wife of Martin Luther King Jr. and mother of Bernice King.

In the interview, Bernice King never specifically mentioned the sexual allegations against Long but said she was "tremendously blessed" by Long's ministry.

"This was the timing that God gave me, at the end of May," she said of her decision to leave New Birth.

"I have always followed what I believe to be the voice of God in my life."

(Reporting by David Beasley; Editing by Jerry Norton)

Libya News Update: Acting AU Chairman Condemns NATO Bombing; Zuma Statement on Visit

Acting AU Chairman Condemns Bombings on Libya

by PL — last modified May 30, 2011 08:07 PM

The NATO bombings on civilian areas in Libya were condemned Monday by the acting chairman of the African Union (AU), Teodoro Obiang-Nguema.

In a statement, he said that "the presence of forces and powers determined to divide Africa" were detected among the forces determined to topple the Libyan government.

Obiang-Nguema, who is president of Ecuadorial Guinea, advocated the creation of a peacekeeping force that would intervene between the troops loyal to Muammar Gaddafi and the opposition forces of the National Transitional Council, supported by NATO.

This position was announced in an official communiqué from the president and underlines that the ongoing NATO attacks, described as indiscriminate, are damaging Libya's infrastructure, and "what is worse, human lives in Libya".

The text was published in parallel with South African President Jacob Zuma's arrival in Libya, in a mediation mission begun by the AU weeks ago, which has not produced results so far.

President Zuma returns from Libya

31 May 2011

President Jacob Zuma has returned from Tripoli, Libya where he held talks with the Leader, Col Muammar Gaddafi on how to end the conflict in that country.

President Jacob Zuma has returned from Tripoli, Libya where he held talks with the Leader, Col Muammar Gaddafi on how to end the conflict in that country.

The two leaders held lengthy discussions at the Libyan leader’s home in Tripoli, and President Zuma will give a report on the visit to the chairperson of the African Union Ad-hoc High Level Committee on Libya His Excellency President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz of Mauritania.

President Zuma reiterated the African Union peace plan, especially the need for a ceasefire on all sides to enable a political dialogue amongst the Libyan people to begin.

Col Gaddafi reiterated his agreement to a ceasefire and a dialogue of the Libyan people to find a political solution. He expressed his anger at the NATO bombings, which have claimed the lives of his son and grandchildren and continue to cause a destruction of property and disruption of life. Col Gaddafi called for an end to the bombings to enable a Libyan dialogue. He emphasised that he was not prepared to leave his country, despite the difficulties.

President Zuma was taken on a tour to see the destruction caused by the bombings and the deepening humanitarian crisis. The personal safety of Col Gaddafi is of concern. The President is satisfied with the progress made and is happy with the frankness of the discussions which have enabled him to gain an understanding of where the Libyan government stands on issues and the way forward.

“We call on all leaders in Libya to exercise decisive leadership to find a solution to the crisis in the country, and to put the interests of their country first. Nothing other than a dialogue among all parties in Libya can bring about a lasting solution. We will also reiterate the AU call for the NATO and other parties to respect the AU’s role in searching for a solution in the matter’’, said President Zuma.

President Zuma met representatives of the Benghazi-based Transitional National Council in Pretoria recently.

Enquiries: Clayson Monyela on 0828067405 and Zizi Kodwa on 082 330 4910.

Issued by The Presidency

Clinton to attend Libya group meeting next week

Tue May 31, 2011 7:26pm GMT

WASHINGTON May 31 (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will attend a meeting of the NATO-backed coalition against Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi next week as the group seeks to accelerate the campaign to end his rule.

The State Department said the meeting of the Libya Contact Group would be June 9 in the United Arab Emirates at the start of Clinton's trip to several African nations.

A State Department statement said the meeting would build on the coalition's May 5 gathering in Rome. At that meeting the group offered a financial lifeline potentially worth billions of dollars to rebels fighting Gaddafi in an uprising inspired by popular revolts in Egypt and Tunisia.

The Libya Contact Group includes the United States, France, Britain, Italy, Qatar, Kuwait and Jordan.

Western powers have said they expect Gaddafi will be forced out by a process of attrition as air strikes, defections from his entourage and shortages take their toll -- although the ground campaign looks deadlocked with rebels unable to advance toward Tripoli, where Gaddafi appears entrenched.

Clinton's Africa trip will include stops in Zambia, where she will attend a meeting with representatives of 37 African countries covered by the African Growth and Opportunity Act, which grants favorable access to U.S. markets.

She also will visit Tanzania and Ethiopia, where she will meet with leaders of the African Union, which has sought to advance its own plan for ending the Libya conflict.

South African President Jacob Zuma, traveling as an AU representative, visited Tripoli on Monday but emerged with little progress on Gaddafi's refusal to quit, a condition that both NATO and the rebels insist on for any cease-fire.

(Editing by Bill Trott)

African Union Calls for End to NATO Bombing of Libya

African Union Calls for End to NATO Bombing of Libya

Imperialists dispatch fighter helicopters and prepare for ground invasaion

By Abayomi Azikiwe
Editor, Pan-African News Wire

South African President Jacob Zuma paid a state visit to Libya on May 30 in a renewed effort to bring about a ceasefire in the war with the western-backed rebels and the NATO forces who have intensified the bombing of the capital of Tripoli and other areas of the country. Zuma was acting on behalf of the African Union which held an extra-ordinary meeting on May 25 aimed at bringing an end to the war against Libya.

Although South Africa was one of the countries whose government voted in favor of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973, which has served as the pseudo-legal basis for an all-out military onslaught against the North African state, Zuma has spoken out against the bombing and regime-change strategy that was the real motive behind the UN actions. Since March 19, NATO has admitted that nearly 4,000 bombing missions have been carried out by the U.S., Britain, France, Italy, Canada and other imperialist states and their allies against the Libyan people.

The NATO forces who are providing arms, logistics, economic and political support for the rebel Transitional National Council (TNC) have stepped-up the airstrikes in the capital. At the same time the British and French governments have announced the deployment of Tiger and Apache helicopters that will inevitably kill and injure more civilians.

U.S. President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron held a joint press conference in London on May 24 calling for the overthrow of the Gaddafi government in Libya. Obama, who has gone from stating that the war against Libya was limited to demanding regime-change immediately, faces growing opposition to the Libyan war inside the United States.

The U.S. Congress is being proded to vote on whether the Pentagon should continue with the war in North Africa. U.S. Congressman Dennis Kucinich of Ohio is submitting a resolution in the House of Representatives challenging the legality of the war against Libya.

African Union Holds Special Session on Libya

The extra-ordinary session of the African Union held on May 25 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia marked the 48th anniversary of the formation of the Organization of African Unity (OAU), the predecessor of the AU. A statement issued in the aftermath of the meeting called for an immediate halt to the NATO bombing and the beginning of negotiations to end the war.

This is the same position that has been advanced by the AU for nearly three months when on March 11 the Peace and Security Council issued a communique opposing foreign intervention in Libya. Numerous efforts by the AU and several Latin American states have been rejected outright by the imperialist states and their allies among the rebels who are operating inside eastern Libya.

Under the title of the "Decision on the Peaceful Resolution of the Libyan Crisis," the statement "reiterated all earlier communiques of the Peace and Security Council on the situation in Libya expressed deep concern at the prevailing situation and its consequences on the civilian population and the long-term stability of Libya, as well as on the countries of the region in particular those of North Africa and the sahelo-saharan area." (AU Statement, p.1)

This AU statement also emphasized that even without a comprehensive ceasefire that there should be at least "a pause in the fighting and in the NATO-led air campaign, to provide respite to the civilian population, alleviate its suffering and make it possible to deliver the much-needed humanitarian assistance that all those in need of it." (AU Statement, p.1)

Therefore, the African Union stressed that in light of the horrendous conditions facing Libyans and African migrant workers who have been targeted in racist attacks by the counter-revolutionary forces, the NATO bombing should be immediately halted. Under point five of the AU statement it notes that "the continuation of the NATO-led military operation defeats the very purpose for which it was authorized in the first place, i.e. the protection of the civilian population and further complicates any transition to a democratic dispensation in Libya." (AU Statement, p.1)

Despite the charges of Libya's "undemocratic" system, the opposition TNC forces that are fighting the Gaddafi government have not been elected by anyone other than the western imperialist states to ostensibly represent the people. The TNC is largely led by monarchists, defectors from the government and numerous groups that have opposed the government for decades.

The AU statement addressed the deliberate failure of the rebels and their US/NATO supporters to acknowledge the role of the continent's leaders in resolving the Libyan war. In fact "The Assembly expressed Africa's surprise and disappointment at the attempts to marginalize the continent in the management of the Libyan conflict... and recalled that Africa, particularly the countries of the region, are those that bear the greatest impact of the conflict in Libya, both in terms of security and socio-economic consequences." (AU Statement, p. 2)

Further illustrating the racist character of the imperialist adversaries and their rebel allies inside the country, the African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL) of South Africa pointed out in an article published in the ANC Today newsletter that "The rebels have wounded hundreds of black immigrants from the poorest African countries, who worked mainly as low-wage day laborers in Libya. From fear of being killed, some of them have refrained from going to a doctor. At the time of the outbreak of civil war, about 1.5 million black Africans were employed in Libya as laborers in the oil industry and the construction, agriculture and service sectors." (ANC Today, May 27)

This same ANCYL statement notes that "The rebel TNC and(a constitution of Islamists, ex-Gaddafi politicians, parasitic businessmen and CIA agents), whose forces have been systematically killing black Africans who are assumed to be mercenaries, likes to play down the fact that it is primarily a movement from Cyrenaica, the greater bulge of eastern Libya where Gaddafi has always been unpopular."

Conditions for Refugees Worsens Amid Plans for NATO Ground Invasion

An incident on May 25, where a refugee camp in Tunisia housing over 1,000 African migrant workers was attacked by the military and locals in the area, illustrates the precarious position facing those in the border towns that have fled the fighting in Libya. After objecting to and protesting against the deplorable conditions prevailing in the Choucha camp near the main crossing with Tunisia at Ras Ajdin, Tunisian soldiers backed-up by people in the area, attacked the makeshift residences and burned them to the ground.

This camp housed African migrant workers from various countries including Eritrea, Sudan, Somalia and Ivory Coast. It was reported that the tents providing shelter for the refugees were set on fire and the belongings of the inhabitants stolen while five Sudanese men were shot. (Guardian, UK, May 25)

These attacks on refugees in Tunisia come amid reports of preparations for a land invasion by the U.S. and other NATO troops. In an article by Manlio Dinucci, he claims that "the U.S. has sent a naval attack group led by the most modern and powerful nimitz-class nuclear aircraft carrier, named George H.W. Bush. The ship is 333 meters long and 40 meters wide and has on board 6,000 personnel, 56 aircraft (which can take off at 20-second intervals) and 15 helicopters, and is equipped with sophisticated electronic warfare systems."

In the event of a ground invasion, the fighting inside of Libya will intensify. With a purported "humanitarian" landing of European and U.S. troops, the war will enter a new and even more dangerous phase. Consequently, the anti-war and anti-imperialist forces in the U.S. and Europe must escalate their opposition to yet another war of occupation.

Reclaiming the Legacy of Resistance to Slavery in Virginia

Reclaiming the Legacy of Resistance to Slavery in Virginia

Virginia Commonwealth University forced to acknowledge centuries-old African burial ground in Richmond

By Abayomi Azikiwe
Editor, Pan-African News Wire

A major victory was won by the African American community in Richmond, Virginia when the Shockoe Bottom Burial Grounds for enslaved and free Africans was acknowledged as sacred ground in this historic southern city. The burial ground had been covered-up by a parking that was owned by the Virginia Commonwealth University.

Activists in Richmond had demanded that the university remove the parking lot and establish a memorial in honor of the Africans who were buried there during the period of chattel slavery. It is reported that the leader of the 1800 slave revolt plot, Gabriel, was hung and buried at the site.

In a statement issued by Ana Edwards, the chair of the Sacred Ground Historical Reclamation Project and Phil Wilayto, the editor of the Virginia Defender newspaper, it says that "After a 20-year community struggle, the parking lot itself was closed on May 21. The land was then turned over to the City of Richmond for memorialization."

Just three days after the official closing of the parking lot, a ceremony was held on the grounds of the African burial site that was attended by city and state officials as well as community activists. These efforts represented a culmination of a protracted struggle that continued up until a day after the official ceremony was held on May 24.

According to the Virginia Defenders newspaper "The site in question was used from approximately 1750 to 1816 as the only municipal cemetery for Black people in the Richmond area. Most of the hundreds if not thousands of people buried there were enslaved Africans or enslaved people of African descent."

The newspaper continues by pointing out the historical significance of the burial ground for people of African descent noting that "Because of Richmond's central role in the internal U.S. slave trade, it is likely that millions of Black Americans could be descended from the ancestors buried there. The cemetery was abandoned and forgotten until the early 1990s, when a local historian found a reference to a 'Burial Ground for Negroes' on an old city map. Since then, many community organizations and activists have been demanding the land be reclaimed and properly memorialized."

Significance to the Actual History of Slavery and the Civil War

For this recognition to take place in 2011 has additional historical significance. It was 150 years ago on April 12 that the United States Civil War began with President Abraham Lincoln's attack on the southern rebels at Fort Sumpter in South Carolina. Virginia was the first British colony in North America where Africans were imported for the purpose of slavery starting in August of 1619.

During the course of the slave period in U.S. history some of the most significant revolts to end the system of racial exploitation also took place in Virginia. Three of the most notable rebellions occured in 1800 led by Gabriel in Richmond, the Nat Turner revolt of 1831 in Southhampton County and the attack on Harper's Ferry led by John Brown and Osborne Perry Anderson in 1859.

At the conclusion of the Civil War, it was the African troops fighting under the Union Army who are credited with being the first regiments to enter Richmond. The town was then set on fire by the retreating Confederate soldiers.

Nonetheless, it was the African troops that had entered Richmond who played a central role in stabilizing the city amid the attacks by the retreating Confederates who fought for four years to preserve the slave system. The recognition of the African burial grounds is significant in that the apologists for slavery have often attempted to revise the history of this period to downplay the role of enslavement in the overall economy of the U.S. as well as its pivotal role in sparking the so-called "war between the states."

By refusing to acknowledge the central role of slavery in the economic growth of the United States and as the real cause behind the Civil War between 1861-1865, the ruling class in both the South and the North seek to avoid responsibility for this horrendous crime against humanity that lasted in the British and U.S. controlled territory for nearly 250 years.

In recent years the demand for reparations for stolen labor during the period of slavery has sparked contentious debates within the U.S. Typically the white-dominated ruling class has denied the reaping of enormous profits through the slave system and its role in providing the economic resources that lead to the rise of industrial capitalism in the Europe and well as inside North America.

Activists Acquitted of Charges Related to Burial Ground Protest

Several weeks prior to the memorial recognition ceremony at Shockoe Bottom, four activists were arrested for blocking the entrance into the parking lot that covers the African burial ground.

Rolandah "Cleopattrah" McMillan, Donnell C. Brantley, Autumn Barrett and Phil Wilayto were arrested and charged with trespassing on property owned by Virginia Commonwealth University. These activists along with others had taped off the entrance to the parking lot and turned cars away for an hour-and-a-half at the entrance.

This action was carried out in commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the beginning of the Civil War. The four activists were taken to court on May 25 but the charges were withdrawn.

Prior to the court hearing on May 25, 45 people demonstrated outside the court demanding that the charges be dropped against the four Richmond activists. Some 60 people were present in the courtroom during the hearing that resulted in the activists being freed of all charges.

The activists were represented pro bono by Atty. Steven Benjamin, who is a well-known legal defense lawyer in the state of Virginia. When the activists walked out of the courtroom in Richmond they broke into chants and cheers in celebration of another victory against Virginia Commonwealth University.

Donnel C. Brantley addressed the media after the hearing and called for the University to assist in the funding of the African Burial Ground's memoralization. She pledged that the community activists in Richmond would continue to monitor the handling of the memorial project.

For additional information on the struggle to reclaim Shockoe Bottom just log on to the Virginia Defenders website at http://www.DefendersFJE.org .

President Mugabe of Zimbabwe Hails China's Military

President hails China's military

Monday, 30 May 2011 22:26
Herald Reporter

PRESIDENT Mugabe yesterday met the visiting Chinese member of the Senior Military Commission Chief Air Marshal Xu Qiliang at State House in Harare.

Cde Mugabe - who is the Head of State and Government and Commander-in-Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces - paid tribute to China for the support it has rendered to Zimbabwe dating back to colonial period.

Chief Air Marshal Xu is leading a military delegation which is in the country to share experience with their Zimbabwean counterparts.

President Mugabe said China had stood behind Harare, despite the imposition of illegal sanction by the United States and its Western allies.

"China is a great friend of us in many ways. To us all, citizens of China are our great friends," he said.

Cde Mugabe hailed China's military arm saying it has assisted Zimbabwe secure its independence in 1980.

"They have assisted us, in our struggle to free ourselves from colonialism," said President Mugabe, adding that it would have been difficult to attain freedom without Beijing's support.

In an interview after the closed-door meeting, Defence Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa said the Chinese military supremo had come to cement bilateral relations between Harare and Beijing.

"He was conveying a message to His Excellency, the President which he carried from his President, Hu Jintao. His mission is to promote and cement the relationship between the two countries," said Minister Mnanga- gwa.

Chinese Ambassador to Zimbabwe Mr Xin Shunkang said the discussions centred on how to share experiences in the context of the long-standing relationship.

He said construction of the Defence College near Ma-zowe was at an advanced stage.

"I am sure with the handwork of people working on it, it can be finished earlier. Initially it was three years, but they can finish a year earlier."

ZDF Commander General Constantine Chiwenga, Air Force Commander Air Marshal Perrance Shiri and other senior military officers also attended yesterday's meeting.

Gen Chiwenga hosted a dinner on Sunday for Chief Air Marshal Xu and his delegation where he hailed China for its support to Zimbabwe.

Gen Chiwenga thanked China for the military assistance to the ZDF through training and supply of military hardware.

At the dinner, Chief Air Marshal Xu also commended the relationship between the two countries.

He said Zimbabwe was a renowned country with a lot of history whose people are hospitable adding that his visit sought to enhance relations.

Zimbabwe and China enjoy cordial relations dating back to the pre-independence era when Beijing assisted Harare in its fight to attain independence.

Mzembi Defends Zimabwe's Diplomatic Position

Mzembi defends Zim’s diplomatic position

Monday, 30 May 2011 22:25
From Obi Egbuna in Washington DC.
Zimbabwe Herald

On Friday May 20 2011, Zimbabwe's Minister of Tourism and Hospitality Walter Mzembi gave a keynote address at the Institute for Cultural Diplomacy's International Symposium in Washington DC.

The theme was, "The Role and Responsibilities of the US and Europe in a Changing World Order: Evaluating the Political, Economic and Cultural Dimensions".
It was Minister Mzembi's first visit to the United States since the summer of 2009 when he was the only member of Zimbabwe's inclusive Government delegation, who was singled out and barred by US President Barack Obama from entering the White House.

The group came to Washington in pursuit of a fully fledged political re-engagement with the US Government. That delegation was led by Zimbabwe's Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai. This gesture sent a bold statement to President Mugabe and Zanu-PF, that regardless of the outcome of Zimbabwe's GPA/inclusive Government, the Obama administration would stand firmly in the corner of the MDC faction, led by Prime Tsvangirai.

This was made abundantly clear when during the photo-op with the delegation, President Obama said absolutely nothing about Zimbabwe's decision to form an inclusive Government, and referred to Prime Minister Tsvangirai as his partner in relation to political and economic developments in Zimbabwe.

The timing of Minister Mzembi's visit to Washington comes only two months after President Obama, for the third year in a row used the Presidential executive order to extend US-EU sanctions against Zimbabwe, and one year after Prime Minister Tsvangirai received the National Democratic Institute's Herriman award from former US Secretary of State Madeline Albright.

The Institute for Cultural Diplomacy was founded in 1999 and has headquarters in Washington DC and Berlin, Germany. Their main objectives are successful inter-cultural interaction, and also to enable and enhance inter and intra-cultural dialogue between different cultures.

It is also important to note that Minister Mzembi has been offered a seat on ICD's advisory board, which puts him shoulder to shoulder with the former US Secretary of Homeland Security Mr Michael Chertoff, Ms Katherine Marshall, the senior advisor to the World Bank and the 22nd President of the Australian Senate Mr Alan Ferguson, who currently serve on ICD's board.

The Minister used this opportunity to remind the audience that President Mugabe has always functioned from the intellectual and political premise, that Westerners cannot teach Zimbabwe anything about democracy and soft power.

Because President Mugabe and Zanu-PF pardoned the Rhodesians for the war crimes they committed against the Zimbabwean people, any attempts to lecture him are almost as outlandish as the missionaries coming to Africa to teach religious and spiritual values.

The Minister followed this up by notifying the gathering that Zimbabweans are just as passionate about Zanu-PF's land reclamation programme, as US citizens are about the fight against terrorism, as the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks steadily approaches.

The Minister also noted the inability of the US Government to discuss its Africa policy on moral ground, citing the unconditional support of Mobutu Sese Seko and mercenary groups - Renamo in Mozambique along with Unita in Angola.

He also condemned the US Government's decision in the past to allow US companies to import Rhodesian chrome, at a moment in history when they were supposedly in favour of iron-clad sanctions against Rhodesia's UDI under the leadership of its Prime Minister Ian Smith, that maneuver also coincided with the clandestine measure to deploy 1 000 Vietnam veterans to fight alongside Rhodesians during the Second Chimurenga.

A very important issue for Zimbabwe to monitor will be how the US-EU alliance will strategically respond to ICD's decision to offer Minister Mzembi a position on its board, especially when we take into consideration how they attempted to prevent his predecessor (Minister) Francis Nhema from chairing the UN Committee for Sustainable Development in 2007.

This was in conjunction with their feeble attempts to prevent President Mugabe from addressing the Food and Agriculture Organisation in Rome twice in the 21st century. Because ICD puts strong emphasis on conducting research and running programmes, when it comes to developing their methodology and activity, Zimbabwe finally has a platform in the Western think tank community to effectively challenge Ronald Reagan's brainchild - the National Endowment for Democracy.

The strategic value of this overture by ICD moving into the future helps Zimbabwe immensely, because NED's director, Carl Gershman takes pride in telling anyone who will listen what their organisation does out in the open, and what the CIA does behind closed doors.

That statement by Mr Gershman is definitely on Zimbabwe's radar, since we are only two years removed from Gershman, revealing to the world that NED is financing 14 civil society groups on the ground in Zimbabwe.

While Gershman's position on the NED is correct, the CIA has undergone a facelift that supposedly represents a tactical shift due to the end of the Cold War.

The CIA on its fact-book makes the claim that Zimbabwe is now a point of narcotics distribution into South Africa, and that prostitution and forced farm labour on land acquired through the land reclamation programme are quite prevalent on the ground throughout the country.

Because reckless propaganda of this sort is used to blatantly peddle falsehoods of this magnitude, the Minister has a stage to convince the international community that Zimbabwe is entitled to the last word on what goes on within its borders.

The irony is that Gershman's point was not exposed, courtesy of a WikiLeaks file. On the contrary, he was testifying at a Zimbabwe hearing organised by the US Sub-committee for Africa and Global Health, chaired by Congressman Donald Payne.

The key point to be extrapolated from Gershman's remarks was that Congressman Payne, a lifetime Democrat, served on NED's board for nine years, and that Payne's fellow CBC member Congressman Gregory Meeks replaced him in that capacity.

This makes it difficult for Congressman Meeks to convince anyone that his visits to Zimbabwe are aimed at fighting to have US-EU sanctions lifted once and for all.

This was followed up by Senator Russell Feingold in a hearing he organised, informing the world in September 2009 that the US Government was going to finance the office of Prime Minister Tsvangirai, shortly after President Obama said US funding would be channelled through NGOs.

The news was delivered with US Assistant Secretary for African Affairs Johnnie Carson, who gave testimony at the hearing, standing by his side. The Zimbabwean people will be pleased to learn Minister Mzembi received a cordial welcome from Ambassador Carson, when he visited the US State Department.

From a diplomatic point of view, this was promising as we are one year removed from Ambassador Carson's public clash with Zimbabwe's Ambassador to the US Dr Machivenyika Mapuranga at the African Ambassador's Africa day celebration in Washington DC.

This means that ICD, providing Minister Mzembi a platform to challenge the merit of US-EU policy on Zimbabwe, is not only a unique opportunity but potentially an invaluable tool, because Zimbabwe's colonial language happens to be English.

Minister Mzembi also discussed the status of the petition being circulated inside Zimbabwean borders, aimed at escalating the fight on the grassroots level to lift US-EU sanctions on Zimbabwe.

The audience was surprised that the petition now has 3 million active and verifiable signatures. The Minister also challenged the audience to contextualise the ramifications of the concept of soft diplomacy, which was vital because President Obama's statement, "We must understand the might of our military must be matched by the strength of our diplomacy", which justifies pro-war diplomats like Christopher Dell and James McGee pursuing a regime change in the name of democracy and human rights.

The Minister however, did mention that the current US Ambassador to Zimbabwe Ambassador Charles Ray, has displayed a level of objectivity and decency, that Zimbabwe views as promising in comparison to the abrasive style of Mr Dell and Mr McGee.

The presence of Minister Mzembi on ICD's board helps Zimbabwe raise the question: how long will President Obama and his cabinet continue to turn a deaf ear to the wishes of Sadc and the AU concerning the lifting of US-EU sanctions on Zimbabwe?

This capacity also helps Minister Mzembi to challenge the international community to analyse President Obama's decision to deploy his National Security Council Africa desk director Michelle Gavin, to serve as the Ambassador to Botswana, who the US Government considers a diamond in the rough, because of their pro US-EU stance on Zimbabwe.

It was President Khama who volunteered Botswana's space for a military invasion of Zimbabwe, and stated the only reason he wants US-EU sanctions lifted on Zimbabwe is because President Mugabe and Zanu-PF are exploiting the sanctions for leverage. The first order of business for Ambassador Gavin could potentially be giving President Khama a pop quiz, on her paper, "Planning for Post-Mugabe Zimbabwe", which she wrote as a fellow for the Council of Foreign Relations in 2007.

The Minister reminded the crowd that as Zimbabwe enters the 10th year of confronting the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act, we are also approaching the 50th anniversary of the US blockade on Cuba, a policy the US Government has gotten away with maintaining, even when it is diametrically opposed by the entire planet. The Cuban delegation at the UN General Assembly in 2009 were extremely pleased, as they witnessed President Mugabe mention how the US blockade on Cuba has cost the country roughly 96 billion dollars.

The Minister also raised the point that the US Government only recently removed former South African President and global icon Nelson Mandela, from their list of terrorists, which exposed President Mugabe will not lose one ounce of sleep for being labelled the world's worst dictator by the Washington Post's parade magazine in 2010.


South Africa's Stance on Syria Queried

SA's stance on Syria queried


Rumours are mounting that, as the known death toll in Syria rises towards 900, South Africa's representative is among those blocking a United Nations Security Council resolution designed to try to halt the bloodshed. But the South Africans have denied this.

"No sane-thinking government parades its views before it has considered the matter on the table," said Nomfanelo Kota, spokesperson for South Africa's permanent mission to the UN.

It is understood that a draft resolution, which calls on the Syrian government "to exercise utmost restraint" and for other nations to "prevent the direct or indirect supply, sale or transfer to the Syrian authorities of arms and related material of all types", is finally being studied by council members.

A critical UN source labelled it "seriously tame" and "lacking in all operational clauses". The Guardian reports that Syria's anti-government protesters are battling against growing frustration as the movement against President Bashar al-Assad's regime, now in its third month, appears to have reached a stalemate.

Unlike in Egypt and Tunisia, where the leaders took their leave relatively swiftly and peacefully, protesters in Syria are realising that Assad is a harder nut to crack and is willing to kill and jail opponents. With 76 people killed at the weekend protesters are starting to reflect on what more they can do.

According to UN sources there is little hope that the British-designed resolution will attract the necessary nine votes with no veto. "It's a very similar situation to Libya, with protesters facing tanks and people being killed on a daily basis," said Philippe Bolopion, the Human Rights Watch director, who is in South Africa.

"The Security Council has been absolutely silent on Syria despite the deaths and we fear that behind the council's closed doors South Africa is among the countries saying [to the United Kingdom, the United States and France], 'you guys abused the mandate that we gave you to intervene on behalf of civilians in Libya -- how do we know you don't have a hidden agenda now?' It's almost as if it's payback time," Bolopion said.

South Africa's resistance to British lobbying was corroborated by several other UN missions, with one source saying that the South African team was under instructions to oppose any resolution whatsoever on Syria. "I can confirm there has been lots of fishing to determine whether the Security Council would have an appetite for this and that has generated lots of loose talk in corridors," said the source.

Clayson Monyela, the department of international relations and cooperation spokesperson, said the rumours about South Africa's position "have all the markings of a pre-emptive strike, an attempt to manipulate our position through the media. We only received the draft yesterday. We are studying it and we will chart our course at a meeting later today."

Monyela said the sponsors of the draft resolution "should be more worried about those countries that have indicated that they will veto the resolution. "For our part, we've issued a statement condemning the human rights abuses in Syria. Our position in regard to human rights abuses of this nature is a principled one, as seen in Libya."

The source said: "It's a complicated dynamic in the Security Council at the moment because Lebanon, which was so instrumental in pushing for robust resolutions on Libya, cannot afford to inflame its super-power Syrian neighbour by voting for any resolution at all.

"Russia is quite close to Syria as well and because of this problem the UK has had great difficulty winning the key support of the most proximate Security Council members, [any] one of which has a veto." Discussion of the draft resolution on Syria begins on Friday.

This article was supported by a grant from the Open Society Foundation. All views are those of the author and the Mail & Guardian

Source: Mail & Guardian Online
Web Address: http://mg.co.za/article/2011-05-27-sas-stance-on-syria-queried

Time's Up, Says NATO--as President Zuma Meets Libyan Leader

Time's up, says Nato -- as Zuma meets Gaddafi in Libya


South African President Jacob Zuma met Libya's leader for talks on ending the conflict as Nato said Muammar Gaddafi's "reign of terror" was nearing its end and top military officers defected from his army.

Italian foreign ministry officials presented five generals, two colonels and a major at a news conference in Rome on Monday.

General Melud Massoud Halasa said Gaddafi's forces were only 20% as efficient as they were before the rebellion, and at most 10 generals were still loyal to him.

Back in Libya, Zuma met Gaddafi in the Bab al-Aziziya compound, where the Libyan leader has been staying since fighting between his forces and rebels broke out in February, state media reported.

Zuma also visited the site of the house where Gaddafi's son, Saif al-Arab, and three grandsons were killed by a Nato airstrike earlier this month, state news agency Jana reported.

This was Zuma's second trip to Libya since fighting broke out between Gaddafi loyalists and rebels. It follows a call by the ANC for a negotiated solution to the violence.

"We also join the continent and all peace-loving people of the world in condemning the continuing aerial bombardments of Libya by Western forces," the ANC said on Sunday evening.

While Western leaders and the rebels are calling for Gaddafi to step down, Zuma is officially travelling to help push through "political reforms" to allow for an end to the crisis.

Zuma reportedly arrived at Gaddafi's Bab al-Aziziya compound, a regular target of Nato air strikes, at 2pm GMT, after being greeted at the airport by Gaddafi's prime minister, Baghdadi al-Mahmudi, shortly after state media said Nato-led air strikes on the town of Zliten, west of the rebel-held city of Misrata, had killed 11 people.

Immediate ceasefire

The South African presidency said Zuma was seeking an immediate ceasefire, to boost humanitarian aid and bring about the reforms needed to eliminate the cause of the conflict which erupted amid anti-regime protests in mid-February.

But it rejected as "misleading" reports the talks would focus on an exit strategy for Gaddafi, calling the visit part of African Union efforts to end the conflict.

Libyan state television said Zuma would discuss implementing the AU "roadmap" for peace, as it reported Nato-led raids on the Nafusa mountains in the far west and the town of Bani Walid, near Misrata.

State news agency Jana said warplanes had hit "civilian and military sites in the Wadi Kaam area of Zliten".

"There were 11 people martyred and a number of wounded," it said.

Departing, defecting or deserting

At a meeting of Nato's parliamentary assembly in Bulgaria, Nato Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen insisted: "Gaddafi's reign of terror is coming to an end.

"He is increasingly isolated at home and abroad. Even those closest to him are departing, defecting or deserting ... It is time for Gaddafi to go as well," Rasmussen said.

The Nato chief was upbeat about the results of Nato's military intervention to enforce a UN-backed no-fly zone over the north African country.

"Our operation in Libya, Operation Unified Protector, is achieving its objectives and we are preventing Gaddafi from achieving his," Rasmussen said.

"In just two months we have made significant progress. We have seriously degraded Gaddafi's ability to kill his own people."

But in a statement ahead of Zuma's visit, the African National Congress (ANC) slammed the Nato raids.

"We also join the continent and all peace loving people of the world in condemning the continuing aerial bombardments of Libya by Western forces," it said after a two-day meeting of its executive council.

The Libyan regime also got support from two French lawyers who planned to initiate legal proceedings against French President Nicolas Sarkozy for crimes against humanity over the Libya campaign.

Libyan justice ministry official Ibrahim Boukhzam told reporters in Tripoli on Monday that Jacques Verges and Roland Dumas had offered to represent families he said were victims of the Nato bombs.

The regime's response to the rebellion, however, was condemned in Geneva by UN rights chief Navi Pillay.

Magnitude of measures

"The brutality and magnitude of measures taken by the governments in Libya and now Syria have been particularly shocking in their outright disregard for basic human rights," Pillay told the UN Human Rights Council.

Mustafa Abdul Jalil, who heads the rebels' provisional government, welcomed a Friday call by G8 world powers for Gaddafi to stand down, saying it was the position reflective of the "will of the international community as well as the demands and aspirations of the Libyan people."

The Libyan regime responded by saying that only an African Union initiative to resolve the crisis matters to them.

The rebels reiterated they would accept no settlement that did not entail Gaddafi's departure.

"We witness how Colonel Gaddafi presents initiatives to fool the world and create the illusion that he is in search of peace," Abdul Jalil said.

"It is with this in mind that we would like to reconfirm that the basis of any consideration for the resolution of the Libyan crisis is the removal of the main reason for this crisis, Colonel Gaddafi." -- AFP, Sapa-dpa

Sudan Armed Forces Gives SPLA Ultimatum to Withdraw From Blue Nile & South Kordofan

SAF gives Sudan’s SPLA ultimatum to withdraw from Blue Nile & South Kordofan

May 29, 2011 (JUBA) – The Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) on Saturday said it had given an ultimatum to the South Sudan army, the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA), to withdraw its forces south of the 1956 borders from the two northern states of Blue Nile and South Kordofan.

Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) governor of Blue Nile state Malik Agar (Reuters)This new development will likely add pressure to already strained tensions between North and South Sudan as the latter approaches independence. A week ago, the SAF occupied the disputed town of Abyei, in response to an attack on one of its convoys that it blamed on SPLA.

The SAF convoy that came under attack was being escorted by peacekeepers from the United Nations Mission in Sudan (UNMIS).

Western countries along with the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) while acknowledging that Southern forces provoked the attack they called on SAF to withdraw unconditionally.

They also urged Sudanese president Omer Hassan Al-Bashir to revoke his decision of dissolving the Abyei administration council last week.

In accordance with the security arrangement in the 2005 peace deal between North and South, Joint Integrated Units (JIUs) of 24,000 soldiers, 12,000 each from SAF and SPLA were deployed in various towns in South Sudan, Khartoum, Blue Nile and South Kordofan. The forces were to serve as the nucleus for a future national army should the people of South Sudan vote for the unity of the country in a plebiscite agreed as part of the peace deal.

Following January’s referendum in South Sudan and the declaration of its outcome in favor of independence, SAF components of the JIUs in South Sudan withdrew to the north of the 1956 borders.

Speaking to the United Nations Radio, SAF spokesperson, Al-Sawarmi Khalid Sa’ad, said they have given a deadline to the SPLA to withdraw their forces from Blue Nile and South Kordofan states before Wednesday June 1.

Malik Agar, Blue Nile’s governor, said on Sunday night to the New York Times (NYT) that northern forces had recently moved “dangerously close” to the bases of southern-allied fighters and that he did not think the southern-allied forces would surrender.

“It’s like putting a cat in a corner,” Mr. Agar said. “They will fight.”

Agar said that he had recently received a written order for the southern forces in his area to disarm.

According to a letter provided to The New York Times, dated May 23 and marked “Top Secret,” the northern Sudanese army will “redeploy its forces to all areas north of the 1/1/1956 borders starting from 1 June 2011.” The letter is from Ismat Abdul Rahman Zain al-Abideen, the chief of staff for the Sudanese military. Western officials have said the northern military has threatened to attack any southern-allied soldiers north of the border who do not withdraw immediately.

The southern-allied fighters there are in a more desperate situation than southern troops were in Abyei. There is no easy way to flee to the south even if they wanted to. And if the fighters in these areas give up their weapons, they will be at the mercy of the northern Sudanese forces whom they have fought for years.

“If it were only so simple for them to move south,” Mr. Agar said. “But they are not southerners. They are from Blue Nile and they don’t have any other place to go.”

But southern leaders indicated that they would not fight over Blue Nile or Southern Kordofan either.

“It is not our priority now to get involved in a war,” said Barnaba Marial Benjamin, the information minister for the government of southern Sudan.

“The move into the Nuba in particular will be explosive,” said Eric Reeves, a professor at Smith College and one of the leading academic voices on Sudan. “The amount of weaponry and men under arms is tremendous.”

Meanwhile officials from the Government of Southern Sudan (GoSS) on Saturday confirmed that the advancing SAF forces from Abyei have destroyed the bridge south of Abyei that connects the region to Warrap state after they captured it from the SPLA.

The Minister of Regional Cooperation in the Government of Southern Sudan (GoSS), Deng Alor, warned that South Sudan will not allow the presence of the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) in Abyei after 9th July independence.

Alor pointed out that the two partners to the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) may not reach an agreement over post-referendum issues before July 9 as SAF is occupying Abyei.

The vice president of the Government of Southern Sudan, Riek Machar, arrived in Khartoum on Saturday to meet with Sudan’s second vice president Ali Osman Taha to try to defuse the escalating tensions between north and south Sudan over the Abyei crisis.

Also on Saturday the SAF announced that it has ended its military operation in Abyei which lies on the North-South borders, a week after it moved in to seize control of the region, saying the situation had returned to normal. It added that the forces will stay in Abyei until a new security and political arrangement is reached by the parties concerned and called on the fleeing Dinka Ngok and Misseriya populations and other residents to return to Abyei.

Earlier, Al Dirdiri Mohamed Ahmed, a member of the National Congress Party, had said in press statements that Khartoum is ready for talks with the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM).

South Sudan president Salva Kiir on Thursday admitted that the cause of the fighting in Abyei involved SAF and SPLA soldiers. He however explained that it occurred as a result of quarrel between two soldiers; one SAF and another SPLA, which then escalated into clashes involving the two forces.

The 2005 CPA promised Abyei residents a referendum over whether to join north or south, but that did not take place as neither could agree who was qualified to vote.

Nigeria: 'Don't Pass the Petroleum Industry Bill Into Law Without Ending Gas Flare'

'Don’t pass PIB into law without ending gas flare' .

Tuesday, 31 May 2011 00:00
From Kelvin Ebiri, Port Harcourt
Nigerian Guardian

THE National Assembly has been urged not to pass into law the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) having eliminated all clauses that seek to end to gas flaring.

A group, Social Action, said it considers the removal of the clauses on gas flare as a mark of insensitivity to the plight of the people of the Niger Delta on the part of the lawmakers, who are accused of promoting the interest of multi national companies, who have severally failed to take action to put an end to the practice.

Spokesperson of the group, Vivian Belonwu, explained that previous versions of the PIB, which were made available to civil society organisations by the National Assembly, clearly contained the clause, which seeks to end gas flare, which has now been eliminated.

She said previously, a meager sum was stipulated as fine for various quantities of gas flared, and previous legislation was to the effect of ending the practice by 2011, the passage of the PIB the way it currently is, would mean that oil companies are free to flare as much gas as they want without being held accountable.

“Any attempt by the National Assembly to proceed with the passage of the bill without addressing the issue of gas flaring with a view to ending the criminal practice, would amount to gross abuse of the right of communities to live in clean and healthy environment and would also cast aspersion on the capacity of the legislature to address the problems of Nigeria as a nation,” she insisted.

Belonwu noted that despite documented health and environmental dangers associated with the flaring of gas, the National Assembly would bend to pressure to pass this compendium of laws guiding activities in the oil sector without adequately considering putting an end to flaring.

She observed that for several decades, various administrations have made moves towards ending the practice, including setting target dates for complete flares out. However, on all occasions, the multinational oil companies have found it expedient to proffer excuses not to eliminate the flares.

Belonwu said at various occasions the oil companies have insinuated that Nigeria’s oil production would dwindle if the flares were put out.

This puerile logic, according to her, which has reared it pangs again causes concerned persons to wonder how other countries in the world that do not flare gas are able to survive.

Monday, May 30, 2011

South African President Zuma Says Gaddafi Government is Ready to Accept AU Peace Plan

South African president says Gaddafi ready to implement AU roadmap

TRIPOLI, May 30 (Xinhua) -- Visiting South African President Jacob Zuma said on Monday that Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi is ready to carry out an African Union (AU) roadmap for solving the crisis in the North African country.

"I can say that the Libyan leader is ready to implement what is in the roadmap by the AU," Zuma said at a press conference shortly before leaving Libyan capital Tripoli.

Zuma, during his several hours' visit to Tripoli, held what he described as a "detailed and long" talk with the embattled Libyan leader, during which he informed Gaddafi "recent steps and measures taken by the AU," and iterated an AU call for dialogue between the Libyans.

The South African president, who arrived earlier in the day and was greeted by Libyan Prime Minister Al-Baghdadi Ali al-Mahmoudi and Minister of Foreign Affairs Abul Ati al-Obeidi at the Tripoli airport, said he came to meet Gaddafi as a member of a high-level committee formed by the AU on the Libya crisis.

The Libyan government has accepted the Union's initiative and the African roadmap, Zuma said, adding Gaddafi assured him "the importance of the ceasefire proposed by the AU on condition that NATO and (others) stop bombing and give the Libyan people a chance to solve their problems by themselves."

The AU formed a special committee on Libya before France, Britain and the United States took the lead in launching airstrikes on Libya in March, hoping to solve the crisis by peaceful means.

The high-level committee proposed a five-point roadmap for peace, calling on conflicting parties in Libya to protect civilians, stop hostilities and provide humanitarian aids equally to both the Libyans and the immigrants, especially African ones. The committee also called for political dialogue to end the crisis, a transitional period and necessary political reforms to meet the demands of the Libyan people.

The African initiative received positive response from the Libyan government, but was rejected by the Benghazi-based rebels who said it doesn't address their major demand, namely, the departure of Gaddafi.

Africa demands fall on deaf ears amid NATO bombardment on Libya

HARARE, May 27 (Xinhua) -- As African leaders recently demanded from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia that NATO stop its bombardment on Libya, the West disregarded the call and was in fact intensifying its war against Muammar Gaddafi.

The African leaders met on May 25-26 to find a solution to Libya's crisis following three months of rebellion that have seen Britain, France and the United States leading a Western onslaught against a stubborn Gaddafi who has vowed to fight to the last drop of blood.

ANC Youth League Condemns ICC Attacks on Libyan Government

VIEWPOINT | by Andile Lungisa
Courtesy of ANC Today

The ICC is used as an instrument of aggression

The request by chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo of the International Criminal Court that arrest warrants for war crimes be issued against Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, his son Saif al-Islam, and the Head of Libya's Intelligence Service, Abdullah al-Senussi, serves only to confirm the role of the ICC as a useful instrument of imperial aggression, domination and legitimisation.

The warrants are, in effect, being issued on behalf of the United States, Britain and France - the chief architects and executors of the ongoing bombardment and slaughter in Libya. Moreno-Ocampo has gathered his evidence against the three accused with the aim of preventing any possibility of a negotiated settlement to the ongoing war, and to further isolate Gaddafi and pave the way for regime-change and installation of the puppet leader.

There is now barely any effort to obscure this goal on the part of Washington, London and Paris, by referring to United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973, which cynically claims that, the intervention is based on a responsibility to protect civilian life.

Notwithstanding the legal fig leaf of a UN resolution, the Libyan war has quickly reached new heights of lawlessness and criminality, with Obama, Cameron and Sarkozy ritually stating "It is impossible to imagine a peaceful Libyan future with Gaddafi and his regime."

The post World War Two Nuremburg Tribunal, established that the planning and launching of a (unprovoked) war of aggression is the primary and seminal war crime, from which other crimes against humanity inexorably arise. By that standard, President Barack Obama, Prime Minister David Cameron and President Nicolas Sarkozy are guilty of crimes greater than any Gaddafi might have committed.

The conduct of this neo-colonial aggression has, moreover, confirmed the Nuremburg thesis, with the US and NATO unashamedly carrying out a policy of assassination against Gaddafi, his family members and his top aides through calculated and deliberate bombing of his compound and family members houses. This is combined with escalating attacks on civilian targets in Tripoli.

The ICC prosecutor's charge that Gaddafi has "personally ordered attacks on unarmed Libyan civilians" could be made just as surely against Obama, Cameron and Sarkozy. On May 5 2011 Moreno-Ocampo first announced he was seeking three arrest warrants for crimes against humanity in Libya, without naming the intended targets. This was aimed at rendering void attempts by the African Union to negotiate a ceasefire, while encouraging defections from within the Libyan regime that would facilitate the installation of the opposition Transitional National Council (TNC) as a proxy government, including ex-Gaddafi officials.

Timed to coincide with a meeting in Rome of the Contact Group on Libya (a motley crew of corporist western governments and gulf dictators), at which it was agreed to funnel vast sums of money to the Benghazi-based TNC, the May 5 ICC announcement followed a NATO air strike on a Gaddafi family residence.

Intended to eliminate Gaddafi, it killed one of his sons and three of his grandchildren.

Moreno-Ocampo's latest announcement was made under similar circumstances. The day before it was made, Libyan Prime Minister al-Baghdadi Ali al-Mahmoudi told the UN's special envoy, Abdul Ilah al-Khatib, that Tripoli wanted "an immediate ceasefire to coincide with a halt to the NATO bombardment." On the day of the announcement, Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said that Italy was negotiating the formation of a possible "government of national reconciliation" and Gaddafi's exit from Libya.

Once again, such initiatives have been effectively rendered null and void. Rather than allow Gaddafi to pursue peace, NATO has stepped up air strikes on Tripoli. This has been accompanied by strident demands from Britain for a yet more murderous bombing campaign, including open calls for Gaddafi to be eliminated.

General Sir David Richards, Chief of the Defence Staff, said he wanted "more intense military action." He called for changes in the rules of engagement to increase "the range of targets we can hit so as to include static infrastructure and thereby demonstrate to Gaddafi that the game is up and he must go." Let us be clear what "infrastructure" means- the fundamental facilities and systems serving a country, city or area, as transportation and communication systems, power plants and schools.

Let us quickly examine what the 1977 Protocol Addition to Geneva Conventions state on the attacking of infrastructure.

"In order to ensure respect for and protection of the civilian population and civilian objects, the Parties to the conflict shall at all times distinguish between the civilian population and combatants and between civilian objects and military objectives and accordingly shall direct their operations only against military objectives."

"We are not targeting Gaddafi directly, but if it happened that he was in a command and control centre that was hit by NATO and he was killed, then that is within the rules," is the cynically criminal chorus being heard from the Western warlords. British Foreign Secretary William Hague has pointedly refused to rule out using remote-controlled American drones to assassinate Gaddafi. "Who and what is a legitimate target depends on their behavior," he said.

We must be vigilant in the next few days of imperial obstruction when South African President, Jacob Zuma, travels to Tripoli to negotiate a peaceful settlement with the Libyan government. The modus operandi of levelling war crimes charges to legitimise an imperialist war was employed during NATO's air war against Yugoslavia in 1999, when Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic was charged with crimes against humanity by another UN-sponsored tribunal, the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY).

The trial of Milosevic began in 2001, one year after he had been deposed. In the five years it lasted, Milosevic's self-defence proved acutely embarrassing to the Western powers. The proceedings were cut short by his death due to a heart attack, which remains clouded in mystery.

The statements of Richards and company and the actions already taken by NATO indicate that no similar show trial is actually planned for Gaddafi, his family and members of his regime. The arrest warrant being sought has the character of a death sentence to be meted out in the theatre of war.

The ICC's role in the Libyan war is consistent with its previous record of service to imperialism. When it was established in July 2002, it was held up as the most significant reform of international law since World War II. It was created as an international body to prosecute individuals accused of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and crimes of aggression. It has since amply demonstrated that its operations are subordinated to the interests of the imperial powers that dominate the UN.

The US has refused to recognise the authority of ICC - either formally or in practice - Russia, China, Israel and dozens of other countries. Washington rejects any accountability to international bodies when it comes to its aggressive and violent pursuit of its global interests. Yet, as with the investigation of Gaddafi, Washington can, thanks to its position on the UN Security Council, refer alleged crimes to a court it does not recognise.

Most of the ICC investigations that have actually been launched are in Africa. In the case of the Sudan-Darfur conflict and Libya, it was the UN Security Council that instigated cases that dovetailed with the foreign policy imperatives of the US and European powers. As a whole, the investigations undertaken by the court have coincided with a renewed drive by the US and the European powers for control over African markets, raw materials and geo-military advantage.

It is not possible to detail all of the monstrous crimes of the imperialist powers perpetrated since the ICC was established. The worst of these crimes, however, was the 2003 invasion of Iraq. In 2006, Moreno-Ocampo published a letter acknowledging that he had received 240 communications regarding the invasion of Iraq. The man now urging Gadaffi's prosecution asserted in response that ruling on the legality of the invasion and any possible crimes of aggression could not fall under the court's authority until a provision had been adopted by the states endorsing the ICC defining the crime and establishing whether it had jurisdiction.

On crimes against civilians, Moreno-Ocampo claimed that the available information "did not indicate intentional attacks on a civilian population" or "excessive attack." This was at a time when credible sources were estimating over 650,000 Iraqi deaths as a result of the war and US-led occupation, and well after such naked war crimes as Abu Ghraib and the barbaric destruction of Fallujah.

Wars often widen and deepen existing fissures in a society. ‘The rebel' Transitional National Council (a constitution of Islamists, ex-Gaddafi politicians, parasitic businessmen and former CIA agents), whose forces have been systematically killing black Africans who are assumed to be mercenaries, likes to play down the fact that it is primarily a movement from Cyrenaica, the great bulge of eastern Libya where Gaddafi has always been unpopular.

The rebels have wounded hundreds of black immigrants from the poorest African countries, who worked mainly as low-wage day labourers in Libya. From fear of being killed, some of them have refrained from going to a doctor. At the time of the outbreak of civil war, about 1.5 million black Africans were employed in Libya as labourers in the oil industry and the construction, agriculture and service sectors.

But Gaddafi has held on to most of western Libya. Today these two halves of Libya, separated by hundreds of kilometres of desert, increasingly feel like separate countries. There can be no military solution to the complex Libyan conflict. We must contemptuously delegitimize the ICC, which is an affront to multilateralism, and strive for the establishment of credible multinational institutions that will hold the strong and powerful to account.

Andile Lungisa is the Deputy President of the ANC Youth League