Cross Stitch Pattern for Mother of Exiles

Please go to PINKTANK to read the corresponding article titled Mothers of Exiles: For Many, the Child-Separation Ordeal May Never End.

Untitled 3Finished work

Material:

  • 22 3/4 inches x 11 1/4 inches 14-count Aida cross stitch fabric
  • tapestry needle size 24
  • six-strand DMC 100% cotton Embroidery Floss #919, #500 (two skeins), #501 (two skeins), #502, #503, #504, #725, #728, #729. You will use only two of the six strands of thread for the embroidery.
  • small embroidery scissors

Please click on: Mother of Exiles for a pdf of the embroidery pattern.

Instructions:

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Starting at top left hand corner of fabric, using DMC floss #919, leaving 10 count (squares) from the left and 10 from the top, start embroidering The New Colossus’ matter, beginning with elipses.

Below is a detail from the pattern. In the pattern you will notice that some cross stitches are half one color and half another. When doing that, I will usually place the lighter color on top of the darker color. It does get a little tedious to do the half-half stitches. If you’d like you can just go ahead and do the stitch in one or the other color. 

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Grey color in the patten detail represents DMC floss #500; orange color #501; green color #502; pink color #503; & yellow color #504. The distance between two vertical red lines is 10 count.

 

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I used DMC 100% cotton embroidery floss colors #500, #501, #502, #503 & #504 to capture the colors of The Statue of Liberty

 

Along the edge of the image (as seen in the shoes below), some stitches are only half cross stitch, going in one direction or the other to create more of a curve.

Version 5
Detail showing half cross stitches along the edges of pattern

 

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The light blue color used for the hands (see pattern detail below) represents floss #728, dark blue color #729 & light purple color #725

 

Version 4
Pattern detail of hands embodying the torch & the invisible lightning

 

 

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Mothers of Exiles: For Many, the Child-Separation Ordeal May Never End

Priti Gulati Cox and Stan Cox

See also at PINKTANK

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From the early days of the Trump administration, the White House and Justice Department have obsessively sought to separate asylum-seeking parents from their children at the U.S.-Mexico border. The American people and the courts have mounted fierce resistance to this sadistic practice, but Trump’s men will not be deterred.

Separation continues despite having been officially forbidden by the courts. Last week, the White House announced a desire to revive explicit separation, potentially through this policy described by the Washington Post:

One option under consideration is for the government to detain asylum-seeking families together for up to 20 days, then give parents a choice — stay in family detention with their child for months or years as their immigration case proceeds, or allow children to be taken to a government shelter so other relatives or guardians can seek custody.

That’s a Sophie’s choice, but the authorities are using a less emotional, more technocratic term: “binary choice.”

So Central Americans fleeing mortal danger back home and facing murderous cartels in Mexico may now be forced into deciding between having their children either incarcerated for years or taken away from them, perhaps never to be seen again. They cannot take solace in the possibility that “other relatives … can seek custody.” Even now, relatives applying to become guardians of seized children are themselves being subjected to investigation and possible deportation.

All this is happening to refugees even though they set out on their arduous, dangerous journey simply to claim their rights to asylum hearings as provided under U.S. law. For months, immigrants seeking safety through the legally prescribed mechanism—by presenting themselves at official U.S. border crossings and requesting asylum—have been turned away by border patrol agents (recently supported at some locations by Mexican agents.)

Such refusals are contrary to federal law and have the predictable effect of pushing asylum seekers into covert crossings elsewhere. That exposes them to arrest, and if they have children, to separation.

The “binary choice” policy, if implemented, would almost certainly involve the kinds of coercion that have forced many refugees into giving up their asylum claims, being deported, and leaving their children behind. To accomplish this, officials have intimidated vulnerable parents into signing the so-called Separated Parent’s Removal Form or else tricked them into signing by lying about the purpose of the form, which is often presented to them in English.

Many parents who managed to avoid summary deportation under the original separation policy that was in force last spring still lost contact with their kids thanks to the notoriously careless record-keeping practices of the federal agencies involved.

In a June ruling that struck down separation, U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw noted, “The government readily keeps track of personal property of detainees in criminal and immigration proceedings. . . . The unfortunate reality is that under the present system migrant children are not accounted for with the same efficiency and accuracy as property.”

In August, Judge Sabraw added this even starker assessment: “And the reality is that for every parent who is not located, there will be a permanent orphaned child, and that is 100 percent the responsibility of the administration.”

As if asylum seekers didn’t have enough to fear, there is a very real possibility that their “permanently orphaned” children could be put up for adoption by strangers. One of the most prominent organizations currently housing children seized by Border Patrol is Michigan-based Bethany Christian Services. Despite its denials, there are growing suspicions that Bethany’s long-term goal is to arrange for many of the separated children to be adopted into U.S. families. (Bethany has received millions of dollars of support from now-Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and her family.)

The New Yorker’s Sarah Stillman recently told the heart- and gut-wrenching story of Helen, a five-year-old Honduran girl who was taken from her grandmother after they made a perilous crossing of the Rio Grande River in July. While she was being detained, out of any contact with family members, this happened:

According to a long-standing legal precedent known as the Flores settlement, which established guidelines for keeping children in immigration detention, Helen had a right to a bond hearing before a judge; that hearing would have likely hastened her release from government custody and her return to her family. At the time of her apprehension, in fact, Helen checked a box on a line that read, “I do request an immigration judge,” asserting her legal right to have her custody reviewed. But, in early August, an unknown official handed Helen a legal document, a “Request for a Flores Bond Hearing,” which described a set of legal proceedings and rights that would have been difficult for Helen to comprehend. . . . On Helen’s form, which was filled out with assistance from officials, there is a checked box next to a line that says, “I withdraw my previous request for a Flores bond hearing.” Beneath that line, the five-year-old signed her name in wobbly letters.

A month later, Helen was finally reunited with her family. It was a joyful occasion, but the impact of the separation lingers. Stillman writes, “Lately, at bedtime, Helen hides in the closet and refuses to go to sleep, afraid that her family might leave her in the night. Sometimes [her grandmother] Noehmi wants to hide, too; she buried her round face in her hands, weeping, when she recounted one of Helen’s declarations upon her return: ‘You left me behind.’”

Among the documents from Helen’s months in detention that the family received upon her release was a page from a coloring lesson she’d been given. The caption of the cartoon-style sketch read, in Spanish, “Objective: That the students draw one of the most representative symbols of the United States.” The sketch was of the Statue of Liberty.

In her 1883 poem “The New Colossus,” Emma Lazarus gave the name “Mother of Exiles” to what we now call the Statue of Liberty. That monument stills stands for the principles it has always stood for, but the U.S. government’s actions are now guided by the precise opposite of those principles.

The work you see here, embroidered by Priti (and inspired by an extraordinary photograph shot in the McAllen, Texas central bus station by Larry W. Smith), envisions a new Mother of Exiles—not a substitute for, but rather a present-day counterpart to, the great woman in New York Harbor.

This mother holds in her right hand not a torch but her child’s hand; in her left, not a tablet but the arcane government documents that could rip her family apart. And in place of the broken chains that lie at the original Mother of Exile’s feet, she wears a GPS ankle monitor.

A Confrontation With Kobach’s Chamcha (Lackey, in Hindi), Revisited

A week ago Wednesday, I was sitting on the ground on a mat, as I have been doing for the past eight weeks, outside the office of Kansas’ 1st District Congress member Roger Marshall. While making art in rebellion against everything Marshall and his ilk stand for, I have been making that patch of sidewalk my studio.

As I was embroidering a piece that’s intended to draw attention to our government’s sadistic policy of tearing children away from their parents (something that both Marshall and fellow Republican/2018 gubernatorial candidate/voter-suppression poster boy Kris Kobach enthusiastically support), a white F-150 pickup pulled up and parked outside the Republican campaign office, which recently popped up adjacent to Marshall’s hardly-anyone-ever-in-there office.

After loading his pickup with Kobach signs, the twentysomething driver of the pickup walked up and loomed over me for about 20 minutes, delivering a racist, misogynistic tirade, mocking my birth in India and trashing a whole roll-call of Republican targets, including Native Americans, immigrants, and Kobach’s Democratic opponent Laura Kelly.

Kuder

When the guy, after I asked him several times to go away, finally got back in his truck, I wrote down our conversation as best I could from memory. So the exchange below is not exact quotes, but rather paraphrased:

He introduced himself, but I didn’t catch the name. Then he asked who I was.

> Is that a real name, ‘Pretty’?

It’s not ‘Pretty,’ it’s Priti.

> What are you doing here?

I’m demonstrating against our government’s domestic and foreign policies… police brutality, attacks on immigrants, the war on Yemen —

> — If you’re going to talk about Yemen then you need to talk about South Sudan, Somalia…

Yeah, let’s. We’re arming rebels there. We’re the largest military with bases all over the world.

> What would you have us do?

Stop arming countries like Saudi Arabia. Stop supporting dictators.

> What about when Obama blah! blah! blah!
This isn’t a Democrat or Republican thing. This is about government policies.

> You’re not even from here.

I’m from here. I’m a citizen just as much as you. Are you Native American? We’re all illegal. You. Me.

By now he’d become visibly Republican: red in the face and hovering even closer as I remain seated.

> We’re settlers. You’re speaking about Native Americans? We civilized the Native Americans.

Demonstrating with his foot:

> They they crushed babies with their feet… My uncle was killed by an illegal immigrant in a car accident.

What does that have to do with anything? That’s just one incident. What about when you white people kill people with your cars? Then nothing?

> One illegal is too many. One illegal is too many… Do you have a job?

This is my job. I can sustain myself. Maybe you need hundreds of thousands of dollars of income. I don’t.

> What’s that silly hat you’re wearing?

[I was wearing a ‘pussyhat’]

> You know hundreds, hundreds of women have called the office to show their support for Kavanaugh. Hundreds. They hate women like you… How long do you plan to be here?”

This is apublic sidewalk. I’m making art and have every right to be here.

> To a certain extent.

At this point I just want him to leave so I could continue working on my piece.

But then he reached out his foot and kicked my artwork pattern that was lying on my work-mat beside me.

> What’s this you’re doing?

Stop doing that. Don’t touch that with your foot. Please leave. Go.

Then in a sing song voice, he says:

> No, ha! ha! ha! I just want to see what you’re do-ing.

He continued to touch the pattern with his foot. I thought, Isn’t it ironic that he’s using the same foot to kick my artwork that he used to describe barbaric acts that he claimed were committed by indigenous people of this land.

Then he walked around to the other side, and looked at my embroidery.

> The message is good, but…

He apparently had not grasped that it was a work inspired by my horror at the treatment of immigrants on our southern border.

> … good luck.

He started to walk away.

You need luck more than I do.

> What did you say? Do you mean in the election?

No, generally.

>What are you going to do after the election?

I’ll be here.

> Get a job

You do what you do and I’ll do what I do. What did you say your name is?

John Doe. Good luck.

Then, this past Friday night, my husband Stan and I were on the way to the Salina Art Center to see and hear from Kansas’s great filmmaker Kevin Willmott (co-writer of the recently released BlacKkKlansman), when we spotted the infamous white F-150 parked once again outside Republican headquarters. The office door was open, lights were on, so we went in and were met by the man whom I’d encountered ten days earlier.

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The only information we could glean from the contentious conversation that followed was the guy’s first name, but I took a video of the conversation (during which he confirmed that he was the guy who had confronted me earlier; he then repeatedly threatened, for some reason, to call the police). Twenty-four hours of local crowdsourcing (thank you, fellow Salinans!) identified this Republican operative as one Kerrick Kuder.

Recalling his racist rant a week ago Wednesday, I believe that working for the likes of Kris Kobach and Roger Marshall is an excellent fit for young Kerrick.

A Confrontation With Kobach’s Chamcha (Lackey, in Hindi)

See also at CounterPunch

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As I write this, Kris Kobach, the ‘He Was Trump Before Trump’ Republican nominee for Governor of Kansas, along with Donald himself, are getting ready for a rally in Topeka at the Kansas Expocenter. Kobach’s campaign manager and chamcha (pronounced chum-cha) @jrclaeys tweeted recently in regard to the rally:

J.R. Claeys 🇺🇸 on Twitter: It's gonna be YUGE! #ksleg #RemainRed #MAGA https:t.co:bsLQurDr7m (1)

As you can see Claeys’ chamchagiri (lackeyness) extends from ‘Trump Before Trump’ to ‘Trumpier Trump.’

Last Wednesday, I was sitting on the ground, on a mat, as I have been doing for the past eight weeks outside Kansas’ 1st District Rep. Roger Marshall’s office embroidering a piece that’s intended to draw attention to one of our government’s many egregious policies, a white pickup pulled up and parked outside the Republican campaign office that has popped up adjacent to Marshall’s hardly-anyone-ever-in-there office.

After loading his pickup with Kobach signs, the driver of the pickup walked up and loomed over me for about 20 minutes and delivered a racist, misogynistic tirade, mocking my birth in India and trashing a whole roll-call of Republican targets, including Native Americans, immigrants, and Kobach’s Democratic opponent Laura Kelly.

When the guy, after I asked him several times to go away, finally got back in his truck, I wrote down our conversation as best I could from memory. So the exchange below is not exact quotes, but rather paraphrased:

He introduced himself, but I didn’t catch the name. Then he asked who I was.

> Is that a real name, ‘Pretty’?

It’s not ‘Pretty,’ it’s Priti.

> What are you doing here?

I’m demonstrating against our government’s domestic and foreign policies… police brutality, attacks on immigrants, the war on Yemen —

> — If you’re going to talk about Yemen then you need to talk about South Sudan, Somalia…

Yeah, let’s. We’re arming rebels there. We’re the largest military with bases all over the world.

> What would you have us do?

Stop arming countries like Saudi Arabia. Stop supporting dictators.

> What about when Obama blah! blah! blah!

This isn’t a Democrat or Republican thing. This is about government policies.

> You’re not even from here.

I’m from here. I’m a citizen just as much as you. Are you Native American? We’re all illegal. You. Me.

By now he’d become visibly Republican: red in the face and hovering even closer as I remain seated.

> We’re settlers. You’re speaking about Native Americans? We civilized the Native Americans.

Demonstrating with his foot:

> They they crushed babies with their feet… My uncle was killed by an illegal immigrant in a car accident.

What does that have to do with anything? That’s just one incident. What about when you white people kill people with your cars? Then nothing?

> One illegal is too many. One illegal is too many… Do you have a job?

This is my job. I can sustain myself. Maybe you need hundreds of thousands of dollars of income. I don’t.

> What’s that silly hat you’re wearing?

[I was wearing a ‘pussyhat’]

This is a public sidewalk. I’m making art and have every right to be here.

> To a certain extent.

At this point I just want him to leave so I could continue working on my piece.

But then he reached out his foot and kicked my artwork pattern that was lying on my work-mat beside me.

> What’s this you’re doing?

Stop doing that. Don’t touch that with your foot. Please leave. Go.

Then in a sing song voice, he says:

> No, ha! ha! ha! I just want to see what you’re do-ing.

He continued to touch the pattern with his foot. I thought, Isn’t it ironic that he’s using the same foot to kick my artwork that he used to describe barbaric acts that he claimed were committed by indigenous people of this land.

Then he walked around to the other side, and looked at my embroidery.

> The message is good, but…

He apparently had not grasped that it was a work inspired by my horror at the treatment of immigrants on our southern border. 

> … good luck.

He started to walk away.

You need luck more than I do.

> What did you say? Do you mean in the election?

No, generally.

>What are you going to do after the election?

I’ll be here.

> Get a job

You do what you do and I’ll do what I do. What did you say your name is?

> John Doe. Good luck.

Neither Kobach nor J. R. Claeys offices have responded to my email inquiry about who exactly it was that confronted me last Wednesday.

Forty eight hours later…

HT3… a Manmade Tale protest…

WP_20181005_16_20_54_Pro… outside @RogerMarshallMD office, Friday October 5…

HT1… a Kobach bus pulls up & parks illegally in front of the adjacent Republican campaign office…

HT4… where two Manmade’s get in character…

WP_20181005_15_39_12_Pro… of a not-so-dark-&-distant-future…

HT5… where whatever’s left of American democracy…

HT6… is going to go to hell…

HT9… in the land of the Manmade Tale…

HT10… sipping brews and cocktails called Make America Wade Again

hqdefault

… in the land of another Manmade Oath.

J.R. Claeys 🇺🇸 on Twitter: ‘Merica! 🇺🇸…

Good luck, indeed!

 

 

 

Finding Her Voice In a Deaf “Homeland”

See also at SALON

Our “liberal” media push back when riled up MAGAheads spit venom laced with ignorance and stupidity. But the same media turn a deaf ear to the many articulate voices for justice and accountability that have been rising from all across this fracked nation, in their respective communities.

And while the media spends its umpteenth week covering, non-stop, what the Poor People’s Campaign co-chair Rev. Dr. William Barber has described as “Trump porn,” the words of unknown mothers like Theresa Joyce-Wynne remain lost in this air that surrounds us, thick with insular politics.

In September 2017, Theresa’s son Dominique White was shot in the back and killed by trigger-happy Topeka, Kansas police officers Michael Cruse and Justin Mackey. Nine months later at a Mom’s Demand Action rally in Topeka, Theresa spoke in public for the first time after the incident.

Here’s what she said, her voice cracking with emotion:

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[At this point, Theresa can’t go on. Shaking her head, she puts her arms around the neck of the person standing next to her and cries. She later said, “I did it, I spoke in public for the first time. Not sure how good I did tho. Finding my voice!!”]

For a few weeks now, I have been sitting outside Kansas’ 1st District Congressman Roger Marshall’s office in Salina, embroidering, among other things, the testimonies of Theresa and other victims of our government’s domestic and foreign policies. One day when I was out there working on Theresa’s testimony, a person walked up to me and asked me what I was doing. I told him, and his response was “Oh, so Dominique White was armed?” I told him that the police shot him in the back as he was running away, and he continued, “How do you know? Were you there?”

The point is that the fact that Dominique was carrying a gun shouldn’t make him more eligible to be shot in the back by the police than an unarmed black man would be. But this is the country where NRAliness is next to godliness.

According to the Washington Post, 987 people were shot and killed by the police the year Dominique died. Every state-sponsored perpetrator of excessive force and violence needs to be held accountable, and that might be possible in Dominique’s case. A hearing has been set for November 5 in a federal lawsuit filed by his family against Topeka’s city government and perpetrators Cruse and Mackey. Will there be justice?

Institutions that are supposed to protect us have been bought by cynical, violent entities like the NRA. We’ve been surrounded by all sides, and nobody is safe, including some members of our “well regulated militia” who thought they were “playing with guns” in Kansas on the night of the 25th. And when the whole shithouse goes up in flames, we will go down still getting our kicks from arguing over things like whether that thing Trump did with the Russians was collusion, conspiracy, kompromat, or footsie.

What will remain are the widely unheard but still-echoing words of mothers like Theresa.

Theresa’s testimony and supporting portraits of Dominique White, Theresa getting arrested by the Topeka police, & police chief Bill Cochran are cross stitch embroidery on fabric.

 

Arms of America: From Yemen to Florida

See also at CounterPunch

by Priti Gulati Cox and Stan Cox

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMutant Freedom, chainstitch embroidery on khadi, 48 x 28 inches, 2008

The United States government views human rights not as the foundation of human dignity but as an impediment to corporate profits.
— Haley Pedersen & Jodie Evans, AlterNet, January 11, 2018.

In the United States of America it’s all about the quantity, not the quality, of so-called freedom. That may be because only a few powerful lobbyists and the media control freedom’s meaning and its distribution.

This low-quality, surplus, unhinged freedom in the hands of a few comes with a price and color-coded tag attached to it, and too few of us can actually afford it. In this country, freedom serves the arms that link violence and capitalism, not the arms that link us together in solidarity for social, political, racial, economic and ecological justice.

Today, whether in the name of the War on Terror, or hiding behind an outdated 18th-century amendment, the white arms gesticulating this freedom are those of war profiteers and exploiters, or members of a desensitized citizenry. Either way, they are self destructing, and in the process are taking us and the planet down with them.

What does it mean to be free in the Land of the Free?

Here’s a sample of what freedom means in the heart of America: Salina, Kansas, not very far from the Wichita offices of Koch Industries. Our local school was planning to participate in the nationwide March 14 walkout, but a student who had been organizing the event told friends that maybe they should call it off. She was afraid that somebody might seize the moment to shoot up the gathering, and she felt responsible for her fellow classmates.

And what does it mean to be brave in the Home of the Brave?

She and the other students did the walkout despite the possibility of being shot up by one of their own in the Land of the Free.

Resistance to violence in this country started well before the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting. Our countless victims of poverty, racism, Islamophobia, police brutality, anti-immigration, anti-women, xenophobia, and homophobia will tell you that. And it was just a matter of time before anti-everyone-ism would creep in, thanks to the white superiority complex that has gripped the nation and given us laws with names like “Stand Your Ground” and euphemisms like “collateral damage” in order to maintain the status quo.

Now that anti-everyone-ism is in the mix while violence is exercised legally, it has caught the media’s eye and rendered our politicians and our “freedom lovers” a little more fidgety and defensive. But nothing more. It seems we are incapable of seeing the disease of macho white injustice, be it social, political, racial, economic or ecological, and are still pruning away at symptoms like gun violence and “mental health.”

Our very own first-term member of Congress from Kansas’ First District, Roger Marshall, who boasts that his track record includes delivering “more than 5000 babies, giving him a deep appreciation for the sanctity of life” and sucks up to Donald Trump like it’s going out of style, said this after the Stoneman Douglas shooting:

“After reflecting on the tragedy last week, I can’t help but think what if? What if teachers, coaches, or authorized personnel had the opportunity to carry their concealed weapon on school grounds, how would that have changed the outcome in Parkland, Florida? I stand with the president on this….”
Salina Post, February 24, 2018.

This brings us to our understanding of violence in the context of capitalism. Violence, as we know, has always existed. But American “freedom” as we experience it today finds us either behind the gun or in front of it depending on our relationship with the violence of capitalism.

This country was built on a culture of violence. It started with the near-complete annihilation of the original inhabitants of this land and proceeded right up to the present when the war has come home with lethally militarized American policing of neighborhoods.

And now in his most recent tantrum, our poltroon of a president has ordered uniformed gunmen to occupy our border with Mexico, militarizing yet another humanitarian disaster.

Violence isn’t just immediate and physical. It’s cultural and systemic. It’s perennial. Gun violence is just a symptom of a deeper disease: profit-driven injustice and militarized aggression around the world — Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Syria, Palestine, Mexico, and beyond. That violence is synchronized with the perennial violence in our communities, our streets, our workplace, our schoolrooms. If we fail to see the deeper disease and push only on surface issues like gun-law reform, we will not end the violence. Reform too, has to be tackled systemically.

Since the 1963 assassination of John F. Kennedy, more Americans have been killed by firearms in their home country than have been killed in foreign wars. There’s only one entity benefitting from the gun violence at home and the military violence abroad: the weapons manufacturers. And they have our policymakers in their pockets and holsters.

Part of the problem perhaps lies in how we view our heroes of nonviolence. Far too seldom do we discuss the force with which Martin Luther King, the last couple of years before he himself was gunned down, condemned the violence done by American arms in Vietnam and by American capitalism everywhere.

Meanwhile, we, like a growing number of people, believe that Priti’s native country’s own symbol of nonviolence, Mohandas K. Gandhi, failed to live up to his reputation when he endorsed one of the world’s most lethal forms of social exclusion — the caste system.

While the concept of untouchability — what Gandhi fought against in India — is a symptom of the disease of caste, it is not the disease itself. To fight the disease one would have to go against the grain of sacred Hindu texts that gave hierarchical segregation their blessing and were codified as law in the Manusmriti. In continuing to adhere to a caste system that does violence to millions of its people, India has remained stuck in a 2nd-century time warp—much as America is stuck in its 18th-century, 2nd-amendment time warp.

India got its independence from British rule in 1947, but the country is still waiting to get its independence from the rule of the privileged caste Hindus and their goons. Nearly a quarter of the country’s population today is at the receiving end of varying degrees of caste-related atrocities that are committed on a daily basis. Likewise, people in this country remain at the receiving end of white atrocities, also committed on a daily basis.

It’s important to bring the little-known landscape of caste violence in India to international scrutiny, because Gandhi remains a symbol of nonviolence, a fog through which the world sees India.

That’s why the world in fact doesn’t see India. The India where, for example, on February 23, Madhu, a 27-year-old Adivasi (indigenous person) from Attapadi in Kerala was beaten to death by a settler mob for allegedly stealing a little rice and chili powder.

The world doesn’t see the India that was the largest arms importer in the world from 2013 to 2017, with Russia being its largest supplier, followed by the United States.

But America also doesn’t see America

In a recent article, William D, Hurtung elaborates in detail on the fact that for 25 out of the last 26 years the United States has been “the leading arms dealer on the planet,” and how “selling weapons to dictatorships and regressive regimes often fuels instability, war, and terrorism.” In those same years that India was the largest arms importer, Saudi Arabia was the world’s second largest importer with 61 per cent of its region’s arms coming from the United States. Those same U.S. arms supported the Saudi-led coalition campaign against Houthi rebels in Yemen that has now entered its fourth year of indiscriminate killings and has created the worst humanitarian disaster in the word today, complete with a cholera epidemic.

Saudi Arabia has been a very great friend and a big purchaser of equipment and lots of other things…. Some of the things that have been approved and are currently under construction and will be delivered to Saudi Arabia very soon, and that’s for their protection. But if you look, in terms of dollars, $3 billion, $533 million, $525 million….And that have been ordered and will shortly be started in construction and delivered: the THAAD system $13 billion; the C-130 airplanes, the Hercules, great plane $3.8 billion.
— Donald Trump, The Real News, March 20, 2018.

And America doesn’t see Florida.

The same Florida that sparked nationwide protests demanding stronger gun control after the Stoneman Douglas shooting is the same Florida where the unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin was killed in cold blood by neighborhood vigilante George Zimmerman. The same Florida where in 2013, white justice was served and Zimmerman was acquitted of killing Martin.

Flash back to June 26, 1975, when two FBI agents, Jack Coler and Ron William, entered the Jumping Bull Ranch on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota seeking to arrest Jimmy Eagle, an Indigenous man, for allegedly stealing of a pair of cowboy boots. Members of the American Indian Movement (AIM) and many non-AIM people were present there. For unknown reasons a shoot-out broke out in which both agents were killed. Today in that same State of Florida, another Indigenous man, Leonard Peltier, is spending his 43rd year in prison for the shooting of Coler and William, a crime he didn’t commit.

The FBI files are full of information that proves my innocence, yet many of those files are still being withheld from my legal team. During my appeal before the 8th Circuit, the former Prosecuting Attorney Lynn Crooks said to Judge Heaney, ‘Your honor, we do not know who killed our agents. Further, we don’t know what participation, if any, Mr. Peltier had in it’. That statement alone exonerates me and I should have been released, but here I sit, 43 years later still struggling for my Freedom!
— Leonard Peltier, #89637-132, USP Coleman I, P.O. Box 1033, Coleman, Fl 33521.

For us to understand the real meaning of freedom in this country, we have to let Peltier’s struggle for freedom guide us. That would be a start on the enormous reparations this country has to pay to all victims of America’s arms, from Yemen to Florida to Pine Ridge.

“All I Wish is for Palestine to be Free” — Freedom Fighter Ahed Tamimi

See also at AlterNet

AHED (2)

The Palestinian cause is not just for Palestinians, not even just for Arabs. The Palestinian cause is a humanitarian cause. What makes me happy is to see the humanitarians of the world stand with us in solidarity to free our land.
— Ahed Tamimi, Empire Files: Abby Martin Meets Ahed Tamimi—Message From A Freedom Fighter.

In 1976, the Palestinian villages of Nabi Saleh and Deir Nidham were encroached upon by Israeli settlers, and their ever-expanding colony of Halamish was born. In December 2009, little Nabi Saleh began holding peaceful demonstrations every Friday in opposition to settlement growth and the usurpation of the land’s fresh water springs.

Eight years later, on Friday December 15, 2017, the residents of Nabi Saleh were protesting US president Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. During the protest, Israeli occupation forces shot 15-year-old Mohammad Tamimi in the face with a rubber bullet, seriously wounding him. Shortly afterward, Mohammad’s 16-year-old cousin Ahed Tamimi responded by accosting two Israeli soldiers right in front of her home. She reviled, slapped, and kicked them in a remarkable act of defiance. By Monday, a video of the confrontation taken by her motherhad gone viral worldwide.

(Ahed has been resisting Israeli occupation since she was nine years old. And she’s not the only one in her family to do so. Her parents have been resisting the occupation for many years and several members of her extended family have been killed by Israeli troops. Most recently another of her cousins, Musab Firas al-Tamimi of Dier Nidham, was the first teen to be shot and killed by occupation forces earlier this year.)

In the early hours of December 19, Israeli forces raided Ahed’s home and arrested her. According to her father Bassem Tamimi, it took “at least 30 soldiers” to carry out the raid. When that afternoon Ahed’s mother Nariman went to the police station where her daughter was being held, in order to be present for her interrogation, she herself was arrested.

On January 31, 2018 Ahed turned 17 in prison.

Ahed’s trial began on February 13, behind closed doors. She has been slapped with twelve charges, including stone-throwing, a charge levied against the vast majority of detained Palestinian children and punishable under military law by up to 20 years in prison. Stone-throwing and even participating in demonstrations are “security offenses” under the Israeli military court system.

When I first started work on this embroidered poster of Ahed Tamimi, I wanted it to be a testimony to her predicament. But as I read further about the treatment of Palestinian children at the hands of Israeli occupation forces and learned, for instance, that since the 2000 Al-Aqsa Intifada, more than 12,000 children have been detained by the Israeli military, I was reminded that beyond Ahed’s story are countless incidents that have yet to attract much media attention. For example, following Trump’s call to move the embassy to Jerusalem, the Israeli occupation forces detained not one but about 450 children.

It doesn’t matter how, when, or at what age a Palestinian might resist illegal Israeli military occupation. Any resistance is a crime in the eyes of the occupier’s law—in a nation whose own citizens’ first and last toy is fated to be a gun.

To such jaded eyes, a Palestinian resister, whether it be 13-year-old Abdel Raouf al-Bilawi from Dheisheh refugee camp in Bethehem, who was sentenced on January 22 to four months in prison for throwing stones or 24-year-old journalist and photographer Bushra al-Taweel who was arrested at her home in Um al-Sharyet, Ramallah on the night of November 1, 2017, Palestinians of every shape, size, age or gender are being gradually cleansed from their land.

A shocking tactic in the ethnic cleansing being carried out by the Israeli military is that they target their “enemy” when they’re young. Bushra al-Taweel, for example, was first arrested on July 6, 2011 when she was just 18 years old. Get them young and then break them. That’s the strategy.

This trend—the arrest of Palestinian children by occupation forces—is a rising one. Over the years, the Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association Addameer has witnessed “a decrease in the overall prison population, but … a vast increase in the number of children being held,” and has found that around “700 Palestinian children under the age of 18 from the occupied West Bank are prosecuted every year through Israeli military courts after being arrested, interrogated and detained by the Israeli army.”

They [the Israeli soldiers] laughed and laughed at me. I told them: ‘You are laughing at us now, but you don’t know that Palestine will be free and we will laugh at you when you leave.’
— Ahed Tamimi.

Pity the occupier of Palestinians that’s viewing its “enemy” through the barrel of a gun—a barrel-visioned fighting force that never really grew up or maybe was never even really a child. Is it any wonder that such a force is incapable of distinguishing between a child and an adult? Not that it matters, because whether an adult or a child, each and every occupied Palestinian feels the hot wrath of occupation.

Denial of resources like water to Palestinians does not discriminate between the old and the young. It parches them equally. The wall that separates a farmer from his fields does not magically open up when a child approaches it. It sends a message equally. The tear gas that is fired by Israeli forces into Palestinian homes (before they are eventually bulldozed) tortures all who are inside. Even so, attacking and imprisoning children is unconscionable by any International law standards.

We often play, but we get shocked when soldiers enter places of play therefore they destroy all of our happiness. Children often go to school and encounter locked barricades, so they are forced to return to their homes…. We often come back from parties and find locked barricades so that destroys all the joy and happiness we had.
— Ahed Tamimi.

The systematic collective punishment imposed on Palestinians includes arrests, interrogations, house arrest, and zero protection in their formative years. It thereby alienates them from their families and familiar surroundings and disrupts their studies. There are sexual threats aimed at coercing false confessions; deceptive techniques aimed at recruiting informants; psychological and physical torture; slapping, beating, kicking, and denial of food and water for long periods; and, of course, false accusations of terrorism.

While the focus on Ahed Tamimi is important and her commitment is something that we should all admire, it is essential that there is focus on the situation for all children in the occupied Palestinian territory. Ahed Tamimi’s case, and her treatment, is not exceptional; it is, unfortunately, the norm.
— Addameer, Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association, Palestinian child prisoner population doubles over last three years, January 18, 2018.

As of 2017, there are 350 children being held in Israel’s prisons. Each of them, as well as each of those who preceded them, is a freedom fighter like Ahed. They all deserve their own embroidered posters and media attention.

I leave you with some more of Ahed’s heartbreaking words, arising from a place where the most natural children’s activities—playing, studying—are barricaded, walled and settled. She describes the discovery of lost childhood pleasures under almost unimaginable circumstances.

These are the bullets which the soldiers shoot at us [the necklace Ahed is wearing in the embroidered poster.] We collect them after they leave the village. [Touching her necklace Ahed says] These came from my uncle who was martyred. My cousin gave them to me. We make beautiful things out of them, like jewelry. We create life from death. They come to kill us with it but we convert it into things which we enjoy and benefit from.

AHED_2 (1)

 

The Assassination of Dissent, at Point-Blank Range

See also at Alternet

If I were to describe Islam in three words, there is nothing there besides sex, crime and murder. So the question for you is not whether Rohingya will stay here or the Musulman will leave here…. Now, what’s the question is that everyone is being brought here (The banner in the back reads: Drive Out Rohingya Save India Protest.… Thank Modiji for saving Gujarat in 2002, otherwise we would have been surrounded from all sides. So, the question is only this, that you will have to repeat Gujarat 2002, there is only one solution, there is no other solution…. Are you ready for that thing?…. Look, our ancestors fought for us…. to keep us Hindu…. Can we say the same about us? That we can to do the same for the coming generation, or not?

—A man addressing a crowd at Delhi’s Jantar Mantar on October 7, 2017.

Some people in India are paying a heavy price for exercising their democratic right to freedom of expression. Others, like the scoundrel quoted above, are getting away with inciting violence against Muslims in public spaces. The day after the bigot’s tirade, the Indian government, exploiting the Rohingyas’ high profile in the global news, sent out a notice to all state governments asking them to block any undocumented immigrants from entering and to deport those already in the country. That included ethnic Rohingya refugees, of whom there are around 40,000 now in India.

Nationalism is not the awakening of nations to self-consciousness; it invents nations where they do not exist.

— Ernest Gellner, Thought and Change, 1964.

The link that connects seven of India’s bravest dissenters — Ram Chander Chhatrapati, Narendra Dabholkar, Govind Pansare, M. M. Kalburgi, Gauri Lankesh, Shantanu Bhowmick and Kancha Ilaiah, is the coward state, with its strongarms hanging limp at its sides, watching the country’s extremists play out their dream (nightmare for Dalits, Adivasis, along with countless women, Muslims, other religious minorities, journalists, rationalists, and others) of mutating India into a Hindu nation-state by hook or by crook.

Emboldened by the Indian state’s passivity, other peripheral fanatic factions—including godmen, warring political parties, and privileged upper-caste communities—are cranking out bling, multiplying the numbers of their blind followers, and killing innocents with impunity.

The first five of the heroic dissenters named above were assassinated at point-blank range by motorcycle-borne stooges of the country’s political elite; the sixth, journalist Shantanu Bhowmick, was beaten and stabbed to death. There are new developments ensuing daily with regard to writer Kancha Ilaiah’s predicament; you will read about them in the course of this article.

Killed on November 21, 2002

Ram Chander Chhatrapati

Sach aur jhooth ke beech koi teesri cheez nahi hoti (There is only truth and lies, there’s nothing in between.)

— Ram Chander Chhatrapati, editor of Poora Sach (The Complete Truth), Sirsa, Haryana.

On August 25, 2017, the self-proclaimed “Guru of Bling,” Dera Sacha Sauda chief “Maharaj” Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh was sentenced, 15 years after the fact, to 20 years imprisonment on charges of raping two of his sadhvis (female disciples). We all heard about that. But something else also happened fifteen years ago that involved the “Guru” and his sect, and most of us know bling little about it.

At the end of May, 2002, only about three months after the founding of Chhatrapati’s evening daily Poora Sach, the publication revealed details of an anonymous letter from a sadhvi alleging that she, along with others, was being sexually harassed and raped by Ram Rahim. The rest is history — some known, some not so known. Along with Chhatrapati, the Dera manager Ranjit Singh was also murdered in 2002. Ram Rahim is accused of both murders, “as these were carried out allegedly at his behest.”

Killed on August 20, 2013

2Narendra Dabholkar

In Maharashtra, each year around one crore [10 million] families bring the idol of Ganesha at home to celebrate Ganesha Chaturthi. Each idol weighs around two kilograms. Most of these idols are made up of plaster of Paris and painted with chemical colors. This means each year around two crore kilograms of these harmful chemicals are released into waterbodies, causing blockage and poisoning. To prevent this dire environmental situation, we launched a movement and appealed to the people to donate their idols to the committee, instead of immersing them in the river. The movement received a tremendous response. We collect thirty to forty thousand Ganesha idols from different parts of Maharashtra. But since the last two years the Hindu Janjagaran Samiti has begun to oppose this movement vehemently. Their position is, let there be water pollution, but the idols must be immersed into the flowing river as sanctioned by the scriptures.

— Narendra Dabholkar rationalist and author, Satara, Maharashtra.

Narendra Dabholkar was one of India’s eminent rationalists. Described by some Hindu fanatics as a dharma drohi (an enemy of religion), Dabholkar committed his life to the eradication of andh vishvaas (blind faith) and the uprooting of exploitative superstition. In 1989 he founded the Maharashtra Andhashraddha Nirmoolan Samiti (Committee for the Eradication of Blind Faith in Maharashtra [MANS]) and authored twelve books aimed at fostering scientific thinking among the Indian people, including one titled Vivekachi Pataka Gheu Khandyavari (Let Us Shoulder the Flag of Rationalism.) He was a victim of threats and assaults by Hindu extremists throughout those years.

Killed on February 20, 2015

3Govind Pansare

Dabholkar’s assassination is an indicator that there’re fundamentalists and fascists among us who want to quell all rational voices with violence…. It is the Sangh [RSS] that decides who should speak, what and when. The Sangh is the boss, the rest, subsidiaries. The Sangh determines the policy, others merely implement it, and so goes its style of functioning…. There is a reason why the caste of Mahatma Gandhi’s murderers should be made public. Of course, they were all Brahmins…. [Gandhi] was against inequality…. He was murdered for it.

— Govind Pansare, lawyer, trade unionist, author of Shivaji Kaun Hota (Who Was Shivaji), and member of the Communist Party of India, Bombay.

Pansare was front and center in hammering away on the role played by Hindutva ideologues in the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi. On the evening of August 20, 2013, as Narendra Dabholkar’s body lay at rest in his home in Satara, Govind Pansare was there. Standing beside his comrade’s body, he said many things, including the first part of the statement above. A year and a half later, Pansare’s words of reason were silenced by the same forces of unreason.

Killed on August 30, 2015

4M. M. Kalburgi

Of late artificial changes are being introduced instead of genuine ones in society thanks to religious and political leaders. The researcher needs to unravel actual history in order to stop the exploitation caused by such false history. Research is not a purely historical exploration but a struggle with those who invoke false history to profit from the present.

— M. M. Kalburgi, former vice-chancellor of Kannada University, Research Scholar of Old Kannada, Dharwad, Karnataka.

M. M. Kalburgi, was a prolific writer, and most importantly, he was a tireless truth seeker.

In the same year in which Dabholkar founded MANS, the politically and financially powerful Lingayat community of Karnataka cracked down hard on certain views expressed by Kalburgi. One of those views involved the arcane issue of the birth of the saint-poet Channabasavanna. Having hurt the Lingayat’s fragile orthodox feelings, Kalburgi was forced to recant in April, 1989. Afterward, Kalburgi explained, “I did it to save the lives of my family. But I also committed intellectual suicide on that day.”

Kalburgi went on to declare that Lingayatism was never part of Hinduism. Attacking Hinduism’s caste system was a regular feature in his writings. India’s current government in power, the Bharatiya Janata Party (the political wing of the RSS) was voted to power for the first time in Karnataka in the 2004 polls, with B.S. Yeddyurappa, a Lingayat, as the party’s chief minister. Both Hindu extremists and the mainstream orthodox Lingayats hated Kalburgi’s guts.

“I am Losing Faith,” says Kancha Ilaiah. On September 25, 2017, two days after a mob attacked the car he was driving in, intending to harm him, he announced that he was going into self-imposed house arrest. He also said that “In my two petitions at Osmania [University] I requested for strong police protection at my house. That is also not provided.”

Killed on September 5, 2017

5Gauri Lankesh

Whether it is attacks on pubs…. in the name of culture and protection of women, or whether it’s attacks on Dalits…. in the name of cow protection, or attacks on liberals and leftists in the name of Hindutva…. when Kalburgi was killed, one Bajrang Dal [youth wing of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), affiliated with the RSS] guy called Bhuvith Shetty, he sent a tweet saying that anyone who criticizes Hinduism will die a dog’s death…. Last week, after the court convicted fraud guru Gurmeet Ram Rahim for rape, his photos with several BJP leaders went viral on social media. Photos and videos of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and several Haryana BJP ministers were circulating. It irked the BJP and the Sangh. To counter this, they circulated a photo of Kerala chief minister and CPM leader Pinarayi Vijayan sitting with Ram Rahim. It was a photoshopped image…. What is most shocking and sad is that people accepted it [fake news] as truth without thinking with their eyes and ears closed and brains shut off.

— Gauri Lankesh, journalist, Bangalore, Karnataka.

“Are Rohingya ‘terrorists’ killing Hindus and burning their homes & temples? Read verified, not fake news.”

That was the last tweet that Gauri Lankesh posted. Lankesh was the editor of the weekly Kannada tabloid Gauri Lankesh Patrika, described by some as an “anti-establishment” publication. She took on everything and everyone that indulged in right-wing divisive politics: the BJP, Hindutva ideologues, dominant-caste Indians, mob violence, hate crimes, lynchings. And she stood for all of their victims: Dalits, Adivasis, Muslims, and other religious minorities.

The assassins of Dabholkar, Pansare, Kalburgi, and Lankesh are yet to be brought to book. The Bombay High Court said recently that “People with liberal values and principles are being targeted. It’s like if there is any opposition to me, I shall have that eliminated. This is a dangerous trend which is giving a bad name to our country.”

A month later, emerging from his “house arrest” on October 5 (his birthday), Kancha Ilaiah stated that the central government should be held responsible if he is murdered.

Killed on September 20, 2017

6Shantanu Bhowmick

Bhowmick was beaten and stabbed to death in Mandai, on the outskirts of Agartala, the state capital [of Tripura], where the local TV station Dinraat (“Day and Night”) had sent him to cover the clashes between police and members of the Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura (IPFT), a local tribal-based party that issued a call yesterday for acts of violence against a rival faction…. Bhowmick was the second journalist to be murdered in the past two weeks in India, following Gauri Lankesh, a well-known woman journalist gunned down in the southern city of Bangalore on 5 September.

— Reporters Without Borders.

Attacks on media freedom are becoming increasingly commonplace around the world “especially in democracies,” claims Reporters Without Borders (RSF). Out of 180 countries, India is ranked number 136 in RSF’s 2017 World Press Freedom Index.

Fatwa issued on September 18, 2017

7Kancha Ilaiah & his controversial book Samajika Smugglurlu Komatollu (Vysyas Are Social Smugglers)

Indian exploitation has a massive component of the use of caste ‘social borders’ to control the accumulated wealth within that border of heavily exploited wealth. It was used by the traders for their good life and gave enough to the temples for better survival of priests. The remaining surplus was hidden under ground, over ground and also in the temples. This process did not allow the cash economy to come back in the form of investment either for agrarian development or for promotion of mercantile capital. This whole process is nothing but social smuggling. The wealth did not go outside India but did get arrested and used only within the caste borders.This process is continuing even now in different modes. In all grain markets, the Shahukars [moneylenders] are the main buyers of the produce who get it for very low cost from the farmers and sell the same goods for huge prices.

—Kancha Ilaiah, Director, Centre for the Study of Social Exclusion and Inclusive Policy, author of Why I Am Not A Hindu, Hyderabad.

History repeats itself constantly in uppercaste-noxious India. Like Kalburgi, Kancha Ilaiah is today a victim of the pathetic boo-hooing of the privileged. His writings have been condemned on TV; death threats have been issued against him; someone threatened to cut off his tongue; his effigies have been burnt along with his booklet; on September 23 he and his traveling companions narrowly dodged a “murderous attack at Parakal, Bhupalpally district…. by the Arya-Vysya forces at 4.45 pm,” and more recently, the Hyderabad police registered a case against him.

Kancha Ilaiah’s controversial book, Samajika Smugglurlu Komatollu (Vysyas Are Social Smugglers) has thoroughly upset the emotionally delicate Arya-Vysya (trader/bania) community of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, who find the title and contents of the book derogatory and demeaning. The Telugu Desam Party (TDP) MP T.G. Venkatesh even issued a Hindu version of a fatwa against him, calling for a public hanging. The MP later took it back, saying that “he did not mean ‘fatwa’ as he was carried away emotionally. However, he warned that things will go out of control if the book was not banned.”

Well, I have news for you, MP Venkatesh. Things are already “out of control” in JatiIndia. Every reasonable voice, scientific analysis, environmental action, historical research, or challenge to hard-wired upper-caste privilege is at risk of being silenced by a coward state that is okay with the torrent of violence and threats that is ripping the threads of justice apart, one dissenter at a time.

Today, October 14, there was a small victory for the Indian Democracy, and Kancha Ilaiah. Samajika Smugglurlu Komatollu will not be banned. The Supreme Court of India dismissed a “public interest” litigation filed before it by an Arya-Vysya advocate seeking to ban Ilaiah’s book. Said Ilaiah, “This has reaffirmed my faith in the Indian Judiciary, Constitution and Democracy. I thank all the social forces, political parties, organizations, media that stood by me and also for the right to freedom of expression.”

8

Now, Kancha Ilaiah’s predicament is back in the hands of Indian democracy, which needs to get him out of the gun sights of the Arya-Vysya troublemakers and punish severely anyone who threatens him.

Note: India’s dissenters featured here are #s 12 through 18 in my continuing series JatiIndia Flags of Atrocities Caste, Present and Future. The color orange in the flag symbolizes long-existing casteism, now made more open and feverish by resurgent Hindutva politics. Blue—a color historically adopted by the Dalit movement—here honors all of India’s and occupied Kashmir’s oppressed people and those who fight and die for them. The bottom green bar embodies India’s ecological foundations, which are endangered by the ideology of neoliberalism and defended by our Adivasis and other oppressed people, including Kashmiris. The circular image in the center signifies a target viewed through a weapon’s saffron (Hindu nationalist) crosshairs.

India Celebrates Democracy, Kashmir Cries Hypocrisy

See also at Countercurrents

India wants to reap the benefits of Islamophobia from which the world is suffering…. the Indian government has to reconcile its own people to body bags coming from Kashmir…. If the Indian people were told the truth that Kashmiris don’t want to be with India, and the struggle here is sustained by them primarily…. the public opinion in India too would change. To not allow the public opinion to change, these lies about Pakistan-sponsored proxy war are told. For us, the Indian media is clearly a part of India’s military industry in Kashmir.
— Khurram Parvez, Scroll.in, July, 2016.

India, you will be celebrating your 70th year of Independence from British rule on August 15. All over the country all of you will be remembering the fallen, hoisting flags, and singing songs of freedom. Meanwhile in Indian-administered Kashmir — the largest militarized zone in the world — the Indian state and its military and paramilitary forces will continue to carry on with their sustained human rights abuses aimed at the regions indigenous population.

Many around the world often pose this question: Why is Indian civil society silent about its country’s brutalization of Kashmir civil society? It’s a very good question. Every freedom-loving Indian needs to ask it.

Perhaps nothing would convey patriotism better than chanting slogans that condemn your own country’s occupation of another. Why not? Instead of singing songs only about your own “freedom,” why not sing one acknowledging an occupied people’s desire to be free? Especially when it’s you they want to be free of.

Here’s one y’all might want to sing in solidarity with your Kashmiri brothers and sisters on Tuesday. It’s a take on the Hindi patriotic song Aye Mere Watan Ke Logo (O people of my country) that remembers Indian soldiers who died in the Sino-Indian War of 1962.

tiranga (Indian flag)
Firdaws (Paradise)
azad (free)
Azadi (freedom)
Holi (festival of colors)
Arnab Goswami (television news anchor)
lathis (truncheons)
Dardpora (‘Abode of Pain,’ is a hamlet situated in the northern edge of Indian-administered Kashmir, and is home to hundreds of widows, and ’half widows’ [women whose husbands have disappeared]).

The 2009 edition of the Guinness Book of World Records declared Kashmir as the world’s “largest and most militarized territorial dispute.”

O Proud Patriots of India

O proud patriots of India, shout your slogans
This auspicious day belongs to a few of you,
Go hoist your beloved tiranga
But don’t forget, that in occupied Firdaws,
Tens of thousands have lost their lives
Give a thought to them
And remember that until Kashmir is Azad,
Thousands more won’t be returning home

O proud patriots of India, fill your eyes with tears
Remember the humanity of those whose only desire is to be free
Of you

You got your freedom, but deny Kashmiris theirs
They too will fight until their last breath
Their bodies coming out on the streets and no fear of death
Their eyes pierced with little lead pellets,
They stare at your hollow freedom with dissenting eyes
Remember that Kashmir’s struggle for Azadi will not cave, just like India’s never did

When your country celebrates so-called freedom,
Your troops are playing Holi (with their blood)
While you sit safely in your homes watching Arnab Goswami,
Kashmiris brave your guns, night raids and lathis
Young men, women and children come at your military,
With stones in their hands and freedom in their eyes
Remember that Kashmir’s struggle for Azadi will not cave, just like India’s never did

Unknown, unmarked mass graves, clandestine graveyards
Extra-judicial killings, enforced disappearances
Dardpora’s widows and half-widows, All victims of state terrorism
The blood shed in Jammu and Kashmir, that blood is indigenous
Remember that Kashmir’s struggle for Azadi will not cave, just like India’s never did

Their bodies are drenched in blood, yet they brave your military
Countless cases of torture and sexual violence by the world’s largest democracy
Kashmir weeps at your hypocrisy
And in their continuing struggle, they tell one another, “We will live another day”
“Be strong, my beloved fellow Kashmiris”
“We’re going to get Azadi

A pair of “security” boots for every sixteen Kashmiris?
O how pathetic your Independence, India
Your occupation even made the Guinness Book of World Records,
How wonderful
Remember that Kashmir’s struggle for Azadi will not cave, just like India’s never did
Remember that Kashmir’s struggle for Azadi will not cave, just like India’s never did Azadi, Go India, go back
Azadi, Azadi, Azadi

Agar Firdaws ba roy-i zamin ast, hamin ast-u hamin ast-u hamin ast (If there is Paradise on earth, it is this, it is this, it is this.)
— Mughal Emperor Jahangir ([reign] 1605 – 1627) once said this about Kashmir.

img-813040810-0001 (1)The sang-bazan (stone pelters) of Kashmir, #11 in the series JatiIndia: Flags of Atrocities Caste, Present and Future.

According to Noam Chomsky, “Technology is basically neutral. It’s kind of like a hammer. The hammer doesn’t care whether you use it to build a house, or whether a torturer uses it to crush somebody’s skull.” One can probably say the same thing about Indian Democracy. That it’s fairly neutral. It’s kind of like the country’s flag. The tiranga doesn’t care whether you use it as a medium to communicate the truth about a state’s atrocities, or whether a Bollywood actress makes history by being the first woman ever to hoist it.

Please click on # links to view the series so far: jatiindia #s 10, 9, 8; jatiindia #7; jatiindia #s 6, 5; jatiindia #s 4, 3, 2; jatiindia #1

Zionutva: A Hate Story

See also at Countercurrents

Sandwiched between the months of June — which saw the 50th anniversary of Israel’s Palestine occupation — and August — the 70th anniversary of India’s Independence from British rule and India’s subsequent occupation of Kashmir — this July can perhaps be remembered as a month when two nationalist ideologies — Zionism and Hindutva — that have thrived on these two events came together, embraced, and merged into an occupying force that we might call, say, Zionutva.

July 4, 2017: a historic day, at least as far as occupiers’ histories go. The Ben Gurion International Airport air is suddenly enveloped in a megalomaniacal glow. Two exclusionary forces are about to come face-to-face and morph into one, as India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, disembarking from Air India One, becomes the first Indian prime minister to visit the “Holy Land” (minus Palestine.)

Modi plants a first hug on his counterpart Benjamin (Bibi) Netanyahu, and the two-day occupier-fest is off to an auspicious start. Theirs is a shared history of atrocities that the Indian state and the state of Israel have committed on the lives, land, water and infrastructure of occupied Kashmiris and Palestinians, respectively. One more hug reinforces this injustice.

After the first hug, while they use all twenty fingers to shake hands, they look into each other’s eyes and say ugly somethings. At one point, Modi says, “What a great….” and then hesitates for a moment before finishing with “….honor.” Does he hesitate because what he really wanted to say was, “what a great day, meeting a fellow unpunished collective punisher!”?

The plot of this hate story revolves around portions of the speeches of the mis-leaders of India and Israel — Modi & Bibi — made on this historic occasion. Excerpts of those speeches follow, and below each hypocritical utterance, I have included real-world quotes with links to stories of the occupied.

Modi Bibi (2)

Perpetual Occupiers of the Perpetually Occupied

Bibi:

Aapka swagat hai mere dost [Welcome, my friend]…. we’ve been waiting for you a long time…. almost seventy years, in fact.

Kashmir…. a country occupied mainly by India and partially by Pakistan since 1947…. where struggles have continued for a long, long time, with the Kashmiri people fighting for the right to self determination that they were promised long years ago — almost seventy years ago now by the then Indian prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru. A promise that has never been fulfilled, and in the mean time the face of Kashmir has changed…. the occupation by the Indian army has continued…. with horrific stories of the regular rape of women young and old; of young men being tortured; of disappeared bodies and disappeared people…. And, it’s virtually ignored by the world. I think one has to say that very bluntly…. Countries which are generally speaking in the good books of what is euphemistically called the International community — which is actually the United States of America and its International cronies — These countries and their atrocities are ignored.

— Tariq Ali in conversation with Journalist and Novelist Mirza Waheed, Global Empire – Kashmir: Blinding the People, 2016.

We receive you with open arms.

Defense, however, remained a key factor in the India-Israeli relationship. Israeli companies, led by government-owned aerospace giant Israel Aircraft Industries, have signed arms deals with India, totaling over $2.6 billion earlier this year.

— “India, Israel expand cooperation from defense to science, agriculture and technology,” CNBC, July 6, 2017.

We love India. We admire your culture, we admire your history….

“Barah sau saal ki gulami ki maansikta humein pareshan kar rahi hai [The slave mentality of 1,200 years is troubling us.]

(Narendra Modi said these words in his address to a joint session of Parliament on June 9, 2014, two weeks after he was sworn in as the prime minister of India. Here, instead of making the customary reference to India’s “years of slavery” under 200 years of British rule, Modi distorts history by taking it back by another thousand years when the country came under Muslim rule.)

…. your democracy, your commitment to progress. We view you as kindred spirits in our common quest….

Abbas is the darling of the so called International community. He is the Palestinian quisling…. who works closely with the Israeli occupation in the West Bank…. it’s almost as if they’re putting this in the face of people in Gaza and saying that, you will suffer…. you will be subjected to these inhuman conditions unless you collaborate with your occupiers the way Mahmoud Abbas does in the West Bank…. The idea is to prop up Abbas and to have a Western approved, Israeli backed Palestinian leadership in the form of Abbas. That’s what this is about.

— The Electronic Intifada, “Break the silence on Gaza with people power,” July 15, 2017.

State racism — the primacy of Hindu majoritarian will in state decisions — orders India’s rule in Kashmir. [It] merges neoliberal democracy with authoritarian practices. The government of Jammu and Kashmir and the Indian armed forces neutralize the Independent functioning of the judiciary, educational institutions, and the media in the name of national security, continuing what is in effect military governance.

— Angana P. Chatterji, The Militarized Zone, Kashmir The Case for Freedom, 2011.

…. to provide a better future for our peoples and for our world. [On a visit to the Mediterranean seashore, Modi and Bibi rolled up their trousers and waded barefoot in the waters of the Mediterranean while sipping “purified” sea water freshly harvested from a desalination plant on wheels — the so-called GalMobile — and toasting “to life…. this is really life.”]

Gaza is perhaps in its worst situation, yet…. You are talking about two hours of electricity a day…. What does that mean? You know, try to imaging life without clean water, because the water in Gaza is polluted…. There is no waste treatment in Gaza and raw sewage is being dumped into the Mediterranean…. This is on top of the devastation of the siege [2007.]

— The Electronic Intifada, Break the silence

Prime Minister, when I first met you at the United Nation three years ago, we agreed to break down the remaining walls….

We know that from the [International Court of Justice] to the Red Cross, it [the wall] has been described as illegal. We know of its disastrous impact on Palestinian farmers, villages, cities, families, schoolchildren, students and many others. We know that from Jenin to Bethlehem, through the concrete-split streets of East Jerusalem, the wall has become another element of Israel’s colonization of Palestine, one more link in the apartheid chain. The propaganda myths about security are intended to hide this reality but, like the wall itself, they are arguments full of holes.

— The Electronic Intifada, “Did Israeli apartheid wall really stop suicide bombings?,” January 10, 2014.

…. between India and Israel…. I believe in the success of our partnership because of the great sympathy between our peoples. The natural camaraderie between Indians and Israelis…. prime minister Modi, you’re a great leader of India….Your visit to Israel is a testament to that. Our two peoples have deeply held values….

When I was growing up in the late 80s and early 90s, there was a full scale armed uprising against Indian troops…. Kashmir is also the most militarized region in the world…. Some estimates put that we have a soldier [indian regular army, para-military and police] to every 16 or 17 civilians.

— Journalist and Novelist Mirza Waheed in conversation with Tariq Ali, Global Empire – Kashmir: Blinding the People, 2016.

Eman, 9, was killed in an airstrike alongside her two brothers Ibrahim, aged 13, and Essam, aged 4. They were killed when Israeli aircraft bombarded an apartment building in Gaza City’s central Rimal neighborhood. The Ammar family were hosting friends from the Jumaa family. In the same attack, and her 2 sons, were also killed. In total, 11 people died in this one attack.

— People Beyond Numbers, Remembering the Victims of Israeli Operation ‘Protective Edge’ on Gaza (which began on July 7, 2014.)

…. rooted in ancient cultures, yet we both seek to realize the promise of a better future…. I know that we can do even more, even better.

When people lose their fear of death, normally in history, they can more or less achieve anything, sooner or later.

— Tariq Ali, Blinding the People

You know, you’ve only been here a few hours…. you paid your respect to the tomb of the founder of our national movement [Zionism], Theodor Herzl.

In Palestine we do not propose even to go through the form of consulting the wishes of the present inhabitants of the country…. The four great powers are committed to Zionism and Zionism, be it right or wrong, good or bad, is rooted in age-long tradition, in present needs, in future hopes, of far profounder import than the desires and prejudices of the 700,000 Arabs who now inhabit that ancient land.

— Lord Arthur Balfour, author of the 1917 Balfour Declaration that promised to support “The establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.” Excerpted from the updated edition of Fateful Triangle by Noam Chomsky.

And, you’ve seen some of Israel’s cutting edge technology. We went to a greenhouse on a warm day, believe me it was a warm reception….

Omar Talib, a farmer who is seeing his source of livelihood threatened by the power crisis, told Al-Monitor, “I have been working in agriculture for more than 20 years. This is how I make ends meet. The power crisis has become a nightmare for farmers. We cannot operate our irrigation systems without electricity.”

— Al-Monitor, “Gaza’s power crisis cripples farmers,” June 28, 2017.

I have to confess to you that I’ve been inspired by prime minister Modi’s enthusiasm for yoga [Modi smiles]. To begin, he said to me you can start at a low level…. so, I’m starting at a low level [“Heh heh heh heh heh,” snickers Modi.] Here’s what we’re gonna do. When I do relaxing Talasana pose [“Heh heh heh” — a little softer snicker] and, in the morning I’ll turn my head to the right [“Heh heh” — even softer], India is the first democracy that I’ll see [“Heh ha ha ha ha ha” — now, full-blown laughter]. And when prime minister Modi does a relaxing pose of a Vasistha Asana [“Ah heh heh heh”], and he turns his head to the left, Israel is the first democracy that you can see…. India and Israel are two sister democracies.

Right now, as we speak, people have been coming on the streets since the 9th of July…. knowing they’re going to be shot at. That the para-military will shoot to kill. And yet, thousands have come on to the streets in defiance…. This is a very, very political statement, that we will not agree to this…. This is an indigenous mass uprising. Pakistan is not behind [it.] Yes, parts of the Pakistani security establishment have nursed…. terror groups, and there has been a blowback…. And some of these groups, their main currency is the jihad in Kashmir. But that does not take away anything from the fact that these are Kashmiri boys and girls and young men and women and old people [who are being targeted]…. they [Indian troops] raid villages at night just to harass people…. windows are broken… young men taken away, beaten up, tortured.…

— Mirza Waheed, Blinding the People

We have accomplished great things…. I have to say that we also face common challenges, and the first of it is to defeat the forces of terror that rampage through the world [Modi nods] and threaten both our counties. So, we must stand together in this battle…. prime minister we share a bond of democracy and creativity, a deep respect for the past, a boundless optimism for the future….

We live at a moment of great despair and also simultaneously great hope…. Right now from the darkened homes of Gaza…. the greatest hope of people there is the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions Movement…. It’s much less than is needed but it’s growing and it’s something that gives people hope and is immune to the kind of Institutional complicity that has brought us to this point.… It’s up to us to challenge the Institutional complicity and silence.

— The Electronic Intifada, Break the silence

@netanyahu: There’s nothing like going to the beach with friends! @narendramodi 5:00 AM – Jul 6, 2017

Modi:

My visit celebrates the strength of centuries-old links between our societies….

If the Zionists’ dreams are realized — if Palestine becomes a Jewish State and it will gladden us almost as much as our Jewish friends — they, like the Mohammedans [Look at the Mohammedans. Mecca to them is a sterner reality than Delhi or Agra] would naturally set the interests of their Holyland above those of their Motherland in America and Europe and in case of war between their adopted country and the Jewish State, would naturally sympathise with the latter…. So with the Hindus, they being the people, whose past, present and future are most closely bound with the soil of Hindustan as Pitribhu (ancestral land), as Punyabhu (the land of his religion), they constitute the foundation, the bedrock, the reserved forces of the Indian state. Therefore even from the point of Indian nationality, must ye, O Hindus, consolidate and strengthen Hindu nationality.

— V. D. Savarkar, author of HINDUTVA, What Is a Hindu,1923.

Friends, the people of Israel have built a nation on democratic principles….

While the Zionist project fulfilled its dream of creating “a Jewish homeland” in Palestine in 1948, the process of ethnic cleansing and displacement of Palestinians never stopped. During the 1967 Arab-Israeli War, known as the Naksa, meaning “setback”, Israel occupied the remaining Palestinian territories of East Jerusalem, the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and continues to occupy them until today. While under the UN partition plan Israel was allocated 55 percent, today it controls more than 85 percent of historic Palestine.

—Al Jazeera, “The Naqba did not start or end in 1948,” May 23, 2017.

Your heroes are an inspiration for the younger generations….

Apparently, half a dozen of fantasy terror camps have popped up throughout Israel and the West Bank, offering tourists from across the globe a chance to pretend-kill terrorists, who look suspiciously like Palestinian Arabs, only for $115 per person.

— Carbonated.TV, “Anti-Terrorism Fantasy Camps Become Tourist Attraction In Israel,” July 2017.

I thank prime minister Netanyahu and Mrs Sara Netanyahu for opening their home to me today. The fullness of their warmth and affection has evoked a feeling of home away from home.

I Protest, Against The Things You Done!
I Protest, Fo’ A Mother Who Lost Her Son!
I Protest, I Will Throw Stones An’ Neva Run!
I Protest, Until My Freedom Has Come!
I Protest, Fo’ My Brother Who’s Dead!
I Protest, Against The Bullet In His Head!
I Protest, I Will Throw Stones An’ Neva Run!
I Protest, Until My Freedom Has Come!

— The chorus of the song ‘I Protest’ by Kashmiri rapper MC Kash.

It reminds me of our own ethos of hospitality and welcome.

India asks us, ‘Why do you throw stones?’ No one asks, Who burned your house down?’

— Kashmiri youth, tortured in detention, January 2011.

Yad Vashem is a reminder of the unspeakable evil inflicted generations ago. It is also a tribute to your unbreakable spirit to rise above the depths of drudgery, overcome hatred and forge ahead to build a vibrant democratic nation.

Israel…. has killed dozens of people in Gaza since the [2014] ceasefire. A majority of them have been unarmed Palestinians demonstrating near the boundary fence against the siege…. to show their humanity…. teenagers usually are shot dead in cold blood by Israeli soldiers…. sitting in watchtowers…. or, they have been fishermen at sea…. trying to feed their families, shot at by the Israeli navy. But somehow there’s no outcry about Israel’s relentless violations of the ceasefire.

— The Electronic Intifada, Break the silence

Yad Vashem tells us that those who believe in humanity and civilized values….

The health system in Gaza which has been inadequate for decades…. has been in a deepening crisis for months…. In May, the Red Cross warned that the health system in Gaza was on the brink of systemic collapse…. Tara Ismail Bakhit…. a toddler, was the sixteenth person to die in recent weeks, because the Palestinian Authority had refused to approve a medical referral…. The Palestinian Authority and Israel are using sick children as a weapon against Hamas. Let’s remember, of course, if Abbas refuses to approve these treatments, Israel as the occupier is required under the Geneva Convention…. to provide medical care and life saving services to the people in Gaza.

— The Electronic Intifada, Break the silence

….must come together and defeat it at all costs. As such we must resolutely oppose the evils of terrorism, radicalism and violence that plague our times.

In sections of the Indian press, every night they will broadcast these…. experts in demonizing the Kashmiri Muslim as a jihadist, as an Islamist…. more so since the election of Mr. Modi…. There has been violence against Indian muslims…. It is not a creation of the Modi government, but it has increased to very dangerous levels where people are literally lynched in broad daylight on mere suspicion of having eaten…. beef…. Kashmiris right now see the response of the Indian state. They can’t separate it from the dispensation in Delhi. They see it as a Hindutva government. As a Hindu nationalist government punishing Kashmiri muslims for rising up against it.

—Mirza Waheed, Blinding the People

I for I, I with I. Here, I’m not using the popular word eye for an eye, I mean India’s I, Israel’s I….

I do not remember reading or seeing an instance where a…. a modern nation-state has willfully, systematically shot at people to blind them. More that 500 people have these little lead pellets in their eyes…. that is not an accident. That is not a crowd control tactic gone wrong.

—Mirza Waheed, Blinding the People

We also want to put in place a robust security partnership to respond to shared threats to our peace, stability and prosperity.

…. All indications are that in Kashmiri civil society dissent will not abate: it is not externally motivated but historically compelled. Repressive regimes tend to overlook that freedom struggles are not about the moralities of violence verses non-violence, but reflect a desire to be free. The oppressors forget that the greater the oppression, the more fervent the resistance. Violence is apt to reproduce itself in cycles.

— Angana P. Chatterji, The Militarized Zone, Kashmir The Case for Freedom, 2011.

I am very, very thankful to Bibi because vehicle which I saw today, particularly the natural calamities, when people are suffering from the drinking water this is the very unique type of vehicle which can provide drinking water and how to do the process….

Here’s the critical point. This is not a natural disaster [Gaza’s power crisis]. This is a policy choice by Israel to do this to two million people…. the so-called International community are supporting…. there is nothing about this in the New York Times…. on CNN…. on Democracy Now, for heaven’s sake. There is total silence….

— The Electronic Intifada, Break the silence

@narendramodi Thank you my friend, PM @netanyahu for the signed photo, your kind words, amazing hospitality & passion towards #IndiaIsraelFriendship. 9:03 AM – Jul 6, 2017

In the bitter chill of winter shivers his naked body
Whose skill wraps the rich in royal shawls.

— Muslim poet and philosopher of Kashmiri origin, Iqbal, 1921.