Message From Madeline to Donald: “You are Bullying the People”

See also at Common Dreams

This is an island surrounded by water, big water, ocean water — Donald Trump, INDEPENDENT, September 29, 2017.

This is a three-part photo essay accompanying an article by Stan and Paul Cox, titled ‘Vulnerable Americans Are Still Trapped in the Ruins Left by Hurricane Maria.’

Superpower Neglect: There’s Something About a Neighbor (part 3)

The United States government would rather have us remain silent about who we might meet with and talk to in Puerto Rico about Hurricane Maria, the destruction it caused, and how the mainland responded…

 

IMG_5171…such as always-smiling Fela Suren who says she’s “80-something.” She wasn’t in her house when Maria made landfall, but was staying with a friend. She said she started screaming “Ahhhhhhh!” when the hurricane struck, and she doesn’t wish to see anything like another Maria ever again. She laughs and adds that she wants to go to the United States…

 

IMG_5188…or remain silent about Fela’s undrinkable green tap water that she says she only bathes with…

 

 

 

…or the papaya and gandules trees that she planted in her yard…

 

Untitled 3…or this montage of her roofless, destroyed home that includes a makeshift bedroom in her kitchen with the boarded window…

 

IMG_5175…or the pods from her gandules trees that lie strewn about on the dirt and that she sweeps off with her pink broom and breaks into a broken white cup to cook with and eat…

 

IMG_5202…or, maybe while she sits, waiting for people from the church that “adopted” her to come and put new windows into her unfinished home…

 

IMG_5158…or this inside-out-home with a sign that says ‘No Toque’ (Do Not Touch), because of the mistaken belief that “FEMA is coming…”

 

IMG_5248…or this Maria-brush-picket-fence…

 

IMG_5060 (1)…or this photo of then-young, now-96-year-old Juana San Miguel with her mother Evarista Diaz and stepdad Alfonzo Cruz…

 

IMG_5057…or about our guide and translator Madeline Flores Tenazoa (left), Juana San Miguel (center), or Victoria Febás…

 

IMG_5061.jpg…and the fact that Juana, who will turn 97 this May and worked in a garment factory for 30 years, never missed a day’s work in her life; or that Victoria worked for the government as a nurse, and they both live on social security and are two of the elderly people who are the majority in Sierra Brava. “We have good neighbors here” says Juana. Both of them live by themselves, and neither of them drive or have a car. “Almost all old people here,” says Madeline. “Every time they [the neighbors] check if they need something” from the supermarket, or any other help…

 

IMG_5074…or that Victoria, who, framed by portraits of her family on the wall behind her, can be seen here, smiling, wearing her beloved chihuahua Lindita on her right wrist like an oversize bracelet, and with her left hand holding a photo of her son, Ramon, who, like Wilma’s son, Juan Carlos (see part 1), serves in the United States Army…

 

IMG_5070…or the sticker next to the rippling wall-paint showing signs of water seepage, that says ‘There’s something about a soldier.’ Madeline tells us that Victoria’s neighbor, who was living across the street, had to leave because he, like many, couldn’t find a job in Sierra Brava. She said that he did a lot for Victoria. If she needed anything from the supermarket, for instance, she only had to cross the street and ask him and he would bring whatever she needed. But now she has to wait for her daughter to come from San Juan to go to the supermarket. “There’s something about a soldier” works great in the U.S. mainland where cowards make the rules and young citizens like Ramon who fought in Afghanistan serve and die for them. But in the island territory of Puerto Rico, “There’s something about a neighbor” rings more true…

 

IMG_5229…or this piece of land where Madeline’s grandmother’s old house stood. “My grandmother [was] born here…When I came [to live here] I was only 11 days old, and my grandmother was living here with her mom. We had [two] big trees here,” says Madeline, and the day that Maria struck, they fell and “broke the house in two pieces.” Her cousin — who had bought the old house — was here during Maria. When the house was destroyed, Madeline says “my grandmother went crazy… she told everybody she needed to come to see [for herself] what happened, and she started crying! crying!… the house is not the same, now it’s a new house… she say I passed all my life there, and my dad died there, I saw mama die there…” (La Plena, Puerto Rico)

 

IMG_5098…or about Madeline’s grandmother, 78-year-old Milagros Colón, whose home in Sierra Brava was also destroyed by the hurricane. Madeline tells us that “the tree fell [through the roof] and the water came inside from the river and she lost everything. They [FEMA] came, but my grandmother she doesn’t speak English. How’s she gonna talk with him. How?” Later, “they send the letter [saying] you qualify only for $400, but what’re you going to pay [for all that was destroyed] with $400? Madeline says that the tree was on Milagros’ bedroom side of the house and when it fell, the bedroom window came crashing down on her grandmother’s bed. “Thank God she wasn’t here! [when it happened.] I was in the United States, but I called my grandmother [and told her] you please don’t stay in the house. My uncle lives in an apartment on the second floor.” She says Milagros wanted to stay but Madeline insisted “you can go [there], you need to go!… She says she feels the consequences [of the disaster] now,” a year and a half later…

 

Untitled 4…or about what many Puerto Rican’s felt about Donald Trump’s hurricane-response behavior. “If you see what happened when Trump came, and, he laugh, everybody laugh, with the paper towel. Ah, you can get this [paper towels], like… this?! You can clean your nose with this, but how I’m gonna to repair my house?… A lot of people were like ‘ha! ha! ha! oh, this is funny!’ It’s not funny. You are bullying the people.” Madeline alludes to Donald putting bully words in peoples’ mouths. Especially the children. “We need to repair everybody’s [houses]…he’s the first man [she laughs] and you do this with the people?…when the hurricane passed, a lot of kids’ parents [couldn’t] buy clothes again. They can’t buy backpacks, notebooks… and a lot of kids go like, ‘oh, your mom can’t buy you this? I have this!’…We need to stop. But it’s the same when you see in the news the government behaved the same with us! You try to tell the kids, ‘you need to stop [bullying]’, but they see the news, they see stuff in Facebook and they want to repeat…”

 

IMG_5250…or of this tough little tree in Central Aguirre that’s hanging on to precious life through the few roots that Maria spared it…

Madeline ends with, “A lot of people come from the United States and other places, want to see the water and they want to go to eat next to the water and they say oh! this is so beautiful, but when the hurricane passed? it wasn’t so good for the people.” And how — now that the 2017 Hurricane Maria doesn’t make the news anymore — she, and others, believe that people “over there” (in the mainland) “say ah! maybe the people they got everything again. No. No. No. They need… five years more to come up. If everything continue like this? maybe 10!”

Please click on links below for part 1 & 2:

Superpower Neglect: Casting Shadows, Still (part 1)

Superpower Neglect: A Theater of Injustice (part 2)

“Maria! Maria! Nos Destruyó Maria!”

See also on CounterPunch

Maria! Maria! nos destruyó Maria! (Maria! Maria! it was Maria that destroyed us!) — Socoro Rolon, Sierra Brava, Salinas, Puerto Rico, February 5.

This is a three-part photo essay accompanying an article by Stan and Paul Cox, titled ‘Vulnerable Americans Are Still Trapped in the Ruins Left by Hurricane Maria.’

Superpower Neglect: A Theater of Injustice (part 2)

Socorro is right. Maria did devastate Puerto Rico. But it was the U.S. government that spent more than a century rendering Puerto Rico vulnerable to such a disaster and then failed to mount an adequate recovery effort.

The detritus of superpower neglect is something to behold. But no matter how much we residents of the mainland are trying to ignore it, the stillness of that detritus is screaming at us…

 

IMG_5046…through the once-driven cars and lived-in houses that line Sierra Brava’s empty streets…

 

IMG_5051…and the brightly colored, destroyed hopes, and the half constructed grey hopes that lie side by side, waiting, waiting for FEMA…

 

IMG_4970…the teachers who lost jobs when nine area schools closed down, and the overwhelming desire of some of their students not to stay in Puerto Rico… (mural detail, Parque AA De Salinas, Puerto Rico)

 

IMG_5161…through an open door of one of these schools where a homeless person or family and their belongings appear to be taking shelter…

 

IMG_4971…the kids who saw all that rain start falling on September 20 and wanted to go out and play in it, not knowing what horrors would follow. One day… two days… one week… two weeks… one month… four months with no power, no water, and the sinking realization in their little hearts that something terrible has happened. And today, every time the power goes out they get hurricane flashbacks, and no school psychologists to talk with… (mural detail, Parque AA De Salinas, Puerto Rico)

 

IMG_5221…through a small used-to-be clinic in La Plena, where one doctor used to show up once a week, and which now looks like a clinic out of a Dr. Seuss book with cactuses growing on the roof, and comején (termites) on the outside wall eating up whatever is left of the little structure. Not a Seuss any child would like to read…

 

IMG_4972…through the words of 30-year-old Madeline, a mother of 2, and our short-term neighbor, guide & translator, who grew up in the neighborhood of Sierra Brava and knows everybody there: “The men go to work in the United States, but the women stay here with the kids. You see? The family suffered and we don’t know how [all] this is going to come up again. We’re trying but… Mommy stays with the kids, but where’s Dad? Oh, Daddy needs to go out, to the United States to work. And we got a lot of family here like that. It’s only Mom in the house. Daddy needs to work, Mama don’t find nothing here and… the parents separate… (mural detail, Parque AA De Salinas, Puerto Rico)

 

IMG_4939…and a mural chronicling Puerto Rico’s salseros, on the wall of the abandoned Teatro Coqui that includes an inscription in which a deity of the Santeria religion declares, “I, Elegua, order it: take out the drums!!… (mural painted by Salinas artist Osvaldo Dowell Colón)

 

IMG_5039 copy…on the blue plastic tarps draping roofless houses in incomprehensible capacities…

 

IMG_5089…through the larger-than-life figure of Orlando Guzman Vasqez who turned 74 last month, and the knee that he broke when he fell from his roof while trying to fix it (when he got tired of waiting for help with restoration): “I born over here. This is my grandfather’s house. I have the papers for the house. My father is still alive. He’s 98 years old. He lives in Connecticut… I worked in the United States for 40 years, in New York City, in construction… I lost everything in the house. The furniture, television, everything. They don’t pay me nothing for nothing inside.” But, he says, having a roof over his head is better than nothing. “I gonna try to finish this with the money I collect, It’s not enough money.” Asked if he might get fed up and go back to New York, he said no, because it’s too expensive to live there. He pointed to his mango tree. “It’s cold over there. Over here when I’m hungry I eat the mango and drink some water, and that’s it…”

 

IMG_5053…through Socorro’s house that she can’t live in. Socorro tells us that “everything was destroyed by the hurricane and just stayed the same way…”

 

IMG_5138…She told us, “You can’t live here, look at how it is, we are living up there. Total destruction… Look at the house, it is destroyed… everything got wet and that’s why it was destroyed, we used to sleep there in those old mattresses over there, and everything was wet… nothing could be saved…What can I do? Just keep going until God knows when, what else can I do?… We were helped by FEMA for the rent, but FEMA didn’t help with the interior and the other things. So, we signed up for a plan called Renace (Rebirth.) Renace came four times to check the house, and they said afterwards the house couldn’t be fixed. I have a letter they sent, and it said the house was in bad condition. The house is still like that… We have been paying what we’ve been able to, because FEMA doesn’t help anymore… My husband is sick…

 

IMG_5143and I have a sickness in my ears, and he had a stroke. I can’t do more than I’m currently doing. What am I supposed to do?… The hurricane, it destroyed, destroyed half the world over here. It took the street, and didn’t spare anyone… My husband and I went to the refuge. We were astonished because we couldn’t take anything with us. When we returned we found total destruction. We went back to the refuge, but since my husband had a stroke, I returned to the house, and we stayed though it was destroyed, we did what we could… I had to sleep on a table. It was a small bed, and everything was wet… So we have that house with a check that FEMA gave us, but they didn’t help anymore afterwards, and what we get from Social Security isn’t much…”

At this point, her neighbor Raul Garay stopped by. Seeing us, he told her, “It’s about time they showed up!” Maybe he thought we were FEMA. He told us in English, “Socorro means ‘Help me!’ That’s the translation… Socorro… HELP!”

As we left, Socorro said, “Maria… Maria it was Maria that destroyed us… Thank you for coming.”

 

IMG_4928And for that day, the curtain fell on the theatre of superpower injustice. (Teatro Coqui, Guayama, Puerto Rico) 

Please click on links below for part 1 & 3:

Superpower Neglect: Casting Shadows, Still (part 1)

Superpower Neglect: There’s Something About a Soldier (part 3)

“Living Here and Not in the Street is Worth Gold”

See also at Countercurrents

Living here and not in the street is worth gold — Wilma Miranda Ramos, Sierra Brava, Salinas, Puerto Rico, February 8.

Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico in September 2017. One and a half years later, many of the island’s more than 3 million U.S. citizens continue to be forgotten and ignored by the federal government.

Earlier this year, Stan Cox and I stayed in the Sierra Brava neighborhood of Salinas, Puerto Rico for three weeks. We spent part of that time documenting the post-Maria situation there.

This is a three-part photo essay accompanying an articleby Stan and Paul Cox, titled ‘Vulnerable Americans Are Still Trapped in the Ruins Left by Hurricane Maria’

Superpower Neglect: Casting Shadows, Still (part 1)

IMG_5023Salinas is like an upside-down ghost town with signs of the destruction of the 2017 Hurricane Maria still casting shadows on shuttered clinics…

 

IMG_4976…on the outfield wall of the local ballpark, Parque AA De Salinas, which is filled with beautiful potraits of Puerto Ricans. This weighlifter appears as if bearing the burden of superpower neglect while symbolizing the strength of community spirit…

 

IMG_5129…on the lives of the locals, like Wilma…

 

IMG_5115…their empty streets…

 

IMG_5146…their now drought-ridden river Río Nigua, which during the hurricane was overflowing the banks…

 

IMG_5180…a flowering mango tree, seemingly leaning to shelter a broken, abandoned home…

 

IMG_5183…a lifeless splash of brightly colored, abandoned toys…

 

IMG_5127…on the face of Wilma’s pensive 4-year-old grandson Xander Martinez, who regularly suffers from mold allergies…

 

IMG_5079…on Wilma’s broken blue & grey home, leaning to one side, and a pretty blue & silver wind chime hanging on the front door…

 

IMG_5124…on her broken ceiling and the patchwork of daylight shining through the blue plastic tarp that does not prevent rain from pouring in…

 

IMG_5132…on her kitchen with the defunct light fixture…

 

IMG_5120…on her wobbly floor with patched-up cracks and Xander’s yellow shoes…

 

IMG_5136…on Wilma, and the wall behind her with a photo of her son who lives in Hawaii and serves proudly in the United States Army…

 

IMG_5269…on this fading photo of Wilma’s daughter Jomarie and son Juan Carlos…

 

IMG_5068…on fading superpower justice… (Maria scribbled on the wall of Victoria Febás’ home, a resident of Sierra Brava) 

 

Untitled 3…and on Wilma’s beautiful handwritten testimony that reads, in part:

…On that early morning of September 20, 2018, Puerto Rico dawned completely destroyed, leaving people like me with nothing. I am still living in the same place. I have a stitched-together roof, but as I have nowhere to go I’m still here by the grace of God. The people and I standing in lines to get water, food, and ice—it was really incredible that I survived it, and also waiting for the arrival of the lights for months, enduring the mosquitoes, the heat, is unforgettable.

I am one of those who did not obtain help to fix the house. I am living in it because I am not the owner of the house I’ve been living in for six years, and without documents I could not obtain help to repair it. Staying here in these conditions is not easy . But since I have my daughter and grandson of four years here with me, living here and not in the street is worth gold. I hope my guardian angel arrives soon…

please click on links below for part 2 & 3:

Superpower Neglect: A Theatre of Injustice (part2)

Superpower Neglect: There’s Something About a Neighbor (part3)

 

Cross Stitch Pattern for Mother of Exiles

Please go to PINK TANK 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:

Version 3
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. 

MOE_2 poster (1)
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.

 

IMG_4822
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

 

IMG_4823
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

 

 

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

Priti Gulati Cox and Stan Cox

See also at PINK TANK

Untitled 3

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.

IMG_4797

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

IMG_4763

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:

Version 2

Version 3

Version 2

20180926122830123_0001 (2)

20180926122926378_0001 (1)

Version 2

20180926123019223_0001

20180926123049983_0001 (1)

dominique

Version 2

20180926122755028_0001 (2)

Version 2

Version 4

Version 3

[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)