Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Message to New York Session of the Russell Tribunal on Palestine

Bertrand Russell died on 2 February 1970, in his 98th year. Two days earlier he had composed a message to the International Conference of Parliamentarians, who were about to meet in Cairo whilst Israeli air raids reached deep into Egyptian territory. Russell’s message was read to the assembled parliamentarians on the day after his sudden death. He had remarked that:

‘The tragedy of the people of Palestine is that their country was “given” by a foreign Power to another people for the creation of a new State. The result was that many hundreds of thousands of innocent people were made permanently homeless. With every new conflict their numbers have increased. How much longer is the world willing to endure this spectacle of wanton cruelty? It is abundantly clear that the refugees have every right to the homeland from which they were driven, and the denial of this right is at the heart of the continuing conflict. No people anywhere in the world would accept being expelled en masse from their own country; how can anyone require the people of Palestine to accept a punishment which nobody else would tolerate? A permanent just settlement of the refugees in their homelands is an essential ingredient of any just settlement in the Middle East.’

Russell spoke with characteristic passion and clarity. More than 40 years on, the tragedy and injustices done to the people of Palestine, which he described, persist and grow deeper. That is why, several years ago, when Pierre Galand and Robert Kissous travelled to England to propose a Russell Tribunal on Palestine to Ken Coates, then Chairman of the Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation, Ken readily agreed to ‘lend our flag’ for the purpose. This was unfinished business, as far as the Russell Foundation was concerned.

All this was before the 60th anniversary of the expulsion of the Palestinian peoples, in 1948, which we have now come to know as the ‘Nakba’. At this meeting in Matlock in the English countryside, Pierre Galand remarked that almost 60 years had passed and the Palestinians still did not have a State. So it was that the Russell Tribunal on Palestine was born, with the moral support of the Russell Foundation. It was to grow into an impressive autonomous initiative which probes continuing and widespread complicity on the part of states, international bodies such as the European Union, and corporations in the enduring tragedy of the Palestinian people. Russell had asked ‘How much longer is the world willing to endure this spectacle of wanton cruelty?’ One answer is ‘all too long’.

So we welcome the Tribunal’s New York Session on ‘US complicity and UN failings in dealing with Israel’s violations of international law towards the Palestinian people’, and await its findings with keen anticipation. Previous sessions of the Tribunal, in Barcelona, London and Cape Town, have afforded new insights into a persisting dilemma. The London session, which I attended, highlighted the actions of many corporations which shore up the infrastructure of occupation and repression, represented so starkly by the long high wall now winding across Palestine. It also brought together activists in diverse campaigns in Israel, the United States and Europe which expose such complicity, together with lawyers who perceive pillage and plunder on the part of the occupiers and those who help them. Those of us who attended in London in November 2010 heard of some notable victories in respect of shifting the approach of corporations engaged in diverse sectors such as transport, finance, prisons and cosmetics.

Russell had, apparently, been rather sceptical when what became the Vietnam War Crimes Tribunal was first proposed, in the 1960s. You might think that a characteristic response on his part. He was exercised about aspects of victors’ justice which had characterised some of the proceedings of the Nuremberg Tribunal, but came to see that, in fact, something like the reverse obtained in the case of the Vietnam Tribunal. In November 1966 in London, in a speech to the first meeting of members of the War Crimes Tribunal, he said:

‘ …We do not represent any state power, nor can we compel the policy-makers responsible for crimes against the people of Vietnam to stand accused before us. We lack force majeure. The procedures of a trial are impossible to implement. I believe that these apparent limitations are, in fact, virtues. We are free to conduct a solemn and historic investigation, uncompelled by reasons of state or other such obligations.. ’

The Russell Tribunal on Palestine is similarly free to conduct its solemn and historic investigation. In 1966, Russell concluded by saying ‘May this Tribunal prevent the crime of silence’. We share his purpose.

In that sense, we would like to alert participants in New York to the continuing imprisonment of Ayse Berktay Hacimirzaoglu and thousands of other activists seeking a peaceful and democratic resolution of Kurdish demands in Turkey. Ayse is a keen supporter of the Russell Tribunal on Palestine, and has offered advice arising from her own experiences in helping to organise the World Tribunal on Iraq, which culminated in Istanbul in 2005. Her extensive travels to realise that project are now listed in the criminal indictment against her and hundreds of other Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) activists, currently on trial in Turkey. Her peaceful activism is used against her as though it were for some unspecified unlawful purpose. She and many others have been imprisoned for a year already in pre-trial detention. As you will see from the Russell Foundation website, we seek to prevent the crime of silence in their cases as well.

We look forward to a fruitful Session.

Tony Simpson Ken Fleet
Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation

21 September 2012

The Russell Tribunal on Palestine (RToP) will be holding its fourth international session in New York City on Saturday, October 6 and Sunday, October 7. It will take place in Manhattan, venue TBA.

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Monday, September 17, 2012

Great News From Jeju

Paco writes from Jeju Island, South Korea:

Basically things are going super well! Our presence at the IUCN WCC grows every day. Today many villagers and activists were both inside and out, dancing, talking, handing out information, inviting to tours, singing, etc. Everyone knows about Gangjeong, what has happened to us, and what is happening. Today I didn't meet a single person who hadn't heard of it, and 95% of the people I met were totally in support us, loved our resolution, our actions, and our talks. We barely gave out any of our newsletters today because almost everyone already read it!

Inside the WCC there were several great Gangjeong related talks and a press conference as well as a short Gangjeong traditional folk performance and short talk by Mayor Kang in the 3,000 seat Tamna Hall. It wasn't full of course, but there was a good crowd. We also got our revenge about blocking our booth and just set one up ourselves inside the main hall. Much better position than the regular booths and totally free! After so much bad press, the police at the WCC are very careful with us.

Meanwhile back in Gangjeong the police are not careful with us and attacked the gate protesters 5 times today. There weren't many people because many people were at the IUCN. This new shipment of police (they change every 2 weeks or so) is from Seoul and they are very rude, violent, and rough. They especially don't like cameras and hit several peoples cameras and also aggressively blocked people who were not doing anything except taking pictures.

Tomorrow is another huge day, mostly in the village. a lot of people are coming to join another eco-cide tour of land and sea of Gangjeong. Also the IUCN has arranged for 100 of their top people to come to the village from 2-4 pm and have a meeting with the villagers. Don't really know what its all about, perhaps just a good will visit, hopefully nothing worse/sinister, hopefully something more supportive. Who knows what the police will do but probably they will hide again since so many visitors are coming.

The navy and ministry of defense are very scared of all the support and attention we are getting and are issuing several sudden and silly statements as well as suddenly publishing a poorly made English/Korean booklet about the naval base, which they are giving out at the WCC. It offers zero evidence for their absurd claims and sometimes even accidentally supports us.

Well once again, I guess not so short. Everyone is feeling very great about the all the support we've gotten. Everyone is also very tired from non-stop work in both the village and the convention center. The resolution was handed in. Now we wait to see if it is accepted and will go to voting.

Thanks for all your support! Keep up your great solidarity actions and spreading the word, and prayer, and general awesomeness!

We can do! Let's totally revoke the naval base!

Check our web site at

Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space
PO Box 652
Brunswick, ME 04011
(207) 443-9502 (blog)

Thank God men cannot fly, and lay waste the sky as well as the earth. ~Henry David Thoreau

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Tuesday, September 11, 2012

44 journalists before a Turkish tribunal

A shameful press trial as well for Turkey as for Europe!

Doğan Özgüden, Info-Türk Chief Editor, issued the following declaration on September 9, 2012, on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the beginning of his journalistic career in Turkey:

I began journalism in the Republic of Turkey at the age of 16 years in Izmir on September 9, 1952

It was the first years of the Democrat Party's power having promised a real democratization in the country. However, at that date, 184 personalities of whom many writers or artists of the country were already behind iron bars on charge of belonging to a communist organization. It was followed by the arrest of many journalists or writers whatsoever be their political opinion.

A group of Turkish Army's officers overthrew the DP on May 27, 1960, by a military coup with the promise to establish a democratic regime. However they refused to release Kurdish intellectuals already in prison. Moreover, they did not delay to deport many distinguished Kurdish intellectuals and to put in jail our internationally known writer Aziz Nesin and courageous journalist Ihsan Ada.

The main target of the repression during the period of coalitions, military coups of 1971 and 1980 as well as during post-modern coups of the end of 20th century and beginning of the 21st century was always journalists, writers, artists and the defenders of the rights of the working people, the Kurdish people and the national minorities.

During my 60-year career of journalist, including years of exile, I have only known repression, legal proceedings, trials, condemnations, exile and menaces of death.

The details and proofs of this disrespect of the freedom of expression can be found in my 1000-page memoirs, published in two volumes under the title of "Stateless" Journalist.

At this 60th anniversary of my career as a journalist, I do not wish to talk about my proper problems and fights. I solely wish to put emphasis on the deplorable situation of the freedom of expression and the press in a country that is always a member of the Council of Europe, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, and NATO , and a candidate to the European Union.

Three days later, it will be the anniversary of the bloodiest putsches of the last century: the September 12, 1980 Coup.

In spite of all claims of democratization, the constitution of the putschists always remains in force and the repressive practices against the Kurdish people and national and confessional minorities continue with the same atrocity.

As for the numbers:

So many journalists, currently about a hundred, had never been behind iron bars before the AKP came to power.

So many political men or women, currently several thousands, had never been behind iron bars before the AKP came to power.

On September 10, 2012, 44 journalists will be tried at a Turkish tribunal on charge of "terrorism".

- The people of Turkey, with Turks, Kurds, Armenians, Assyrians, Greeks, Jews and more than 50 ethnical groups, do not deserve it.

- The European peoples who consider the European Union as a project of cohabiting in peace and social justice do not deserve it.

Shame on Turkey's political leaders who consider themselves as heirs of 16 "Turkish States" founded during centuries, who have the ambition to see Turkey as the second strongest state in the European Union after Germany, who use all means for establishing a neo-Ottoman hegemony in Middle East as a regional superpower.

Shame on European leaders who carry on bargaining with Turkey by considering it as a reliable partner for the European Union, who remain silent before the permanent violation of the freedom of expression , and who give Ankara whatever concession to obtain the votes of the citizens of Turkish origin.

Brussels, September 9, 2012
Doğan Özgüden
Chief Editor of Info-Türk INFO-TURK
53, rue de Pavie

Tel: (32-2) 215 35 76
Fax: (32-2) 215 58 60

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Monday, September 10, 2012

Mass Political Show Trials in Turkey

Public meeting

Mass Political Show Trials in Turkey

6.30-8.30pm Tuesday 18 September 2012

Garden Court Chambers, 57-60 Lincoln's Inn Fields,
London WC2A 3LJ (nearest tube: Holborn)

Chaired by Prof Bill Bowring, Birkbeck College, President of the European Association of Lawyers for Democracy and Human Rights (ELDH) and International Secretary of the Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers

Speakers include:

Margaret Owen OBE, barrister, member of the Bar Human Rights Committee

Ali Has, solicitor

Tony Simpson, Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation; editor of The Spokesman

Barry White, NUJ representative of the European Federation of Journalists

Obsessively sensitive about its image, Turkey seeks to present a modern, liberal and democratic face to the outside world, but the reality for people involved in public life inside the country is far different. Repression is the regime’s inevitable knee-jerk response to those seeking to exercise their civil rights to effect change and participate in political activities accepted as normal in a modern democratic state. Lawyers, journalists, writers, elected politicians, trade unionists and community leaders are all victims of a systematic persecution that has been waged by the Turkish state over the past few years as it has sought relentlessly to silence opposition voices in every area of public life. Kurdish demands for full citizenship rights that are taken as the norm across the modern democratic states of Europe are inevitably criminalised within Turkey.

The current mood inside the country is one of fear and intimidation under a climate of repression with raids on offices, mass arrests and prosecutions against thousands of individuals allegedly associated with the Kurdish Communities Union, KCK, an umbrella association of various social organisations which has been deemed an illegal organisation by Turkey. Legal action against people assumed to be connected with the KCK has been continuing since 2009 and has included a mass trial of 151 Kurdish human rights defenders and political leaders which began in October 2010, and another trial of over 200 mostly Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) members, which began in June 2012. In addition, 35 journalists, also accused of membership of the KCK, are standing trial in September.

The whole process is part of Turkey’s concerted attempt to eliminate all genuine opposition within the country’s political and public life; in particular it demonstrates the regime’s intransigence towards all attempts to achieve Kurdish rights through the legitimate democratic process and as such should be a cause for alarm among human rights defenders everywhere. At present, Turkey is intent on pursuing its critics mercilessly by stepping up the repression; it is time to raise the level of the campaign to make it change course.

The event is organised by Peace in Kurdistan Campaign in association with Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers

All welcome. For further information contact:

Peace in Kurdistan Campaign:; Tel 020 7586 5892

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Monday, September 3, 2012

Remembrance Day 2012

To all who are planning or will be attending a Remembrance Sunday event on November 11th

Letter from Robert A. Hinde, former pilot,
Coastal Command, RAF 1941-45

Dear friend,

As Remembrance Sunday approaches, I feel more strongly than ever that the world is not as it should be. The rich get richer and the poor get poorer. Earth’s bounties are squandered and used to fill the pockets of the powerful. The so-called 'war to end wars' was followed by another world war and by many localised ones, often characterised by unspeakable cruelty.

In World War II my brother died, slowly and painfully of wounds, exposure and dehydration in a ship’s lifeboat. My boyhood friend, an RAF navigator, is buried in Germany.

Our War Memorials list those who 'gave their lives': it would be more honest to say they were killed. If wars continue, thousands more people will be killed or wounded. Families will be destroyed.

Remembering is not enough. The best way to honour the dead is to work for the world they wanted, a world without war. We must learn to settle our differences by negotiation and to see violence as very much a last resort. We must not shake our heads in the belief that war will always be with us: we have a difficult task, but change is possible.

War is almost unthinkable in western Europe, and we are moving towards the goal of the United Nations “to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war…” An important element in this has been the increased value placed on human life: capital punishment has been eliminated in western Europe, and no western commander would now send battalion after battalion over the top to be slaughtered by the guns at Passchendaele.

We must reinforce such change in moral values and ensure that it extends to all those who control our fate. Let us use Remembrance to further these aims. If you are planning an event or service, some of the publications below may help.

Robert A. Hinde

President: Professor Robert Hinde
Vice Presidents: Colin Archer, Martin Bell OBE, Christine Blower, Bruce Kent

War must cease to be an admissible human institution. The abolition of war must be our ultimate goal.'


By ordering and distributing these materials you can help to spread the message that war is not inevitable.

War No More film and discussion outlines
Excellent 14-minute film featuring Professor Rotblat, Bishop Tutu, Bruce Kent, Jon Snow, Caroline Lucas, Martin Bell and others. Ideal for classrooms and groups, comes with 32-page booklet of discussion starters by Valerie Flessati. 1500 copies already distributed.

Booklet and DVD or video (Please specify) £8.

Remember War, Make Peace
Services, reflections, prayers, etc for Remembrance Sunday, with a global perspective. Evolved from MAW’s ‘Remembrance for Today’ (see below) with two new complete services, children’s songs and free CD of backing tracks. 116 pages.

Book and CD £10.

Remembrance for Today
Readings, reflections, prayers, hymns and other resources, both religious and secular, to help turn Remembrance Sunday into an event which points towards the elimination of future wars.

40 pages, 2007 Booklet £3.

Ending War: A recipe
By Robert Hinde, MAW’s president. Abolition of war needs action; everyone can do something to hasten the day when war will be seen as an unacceptable way of settling disputes. The time to stop the next war is now!

48 pages, 2008. Booklet £4.

The Final Surrender: Time to Abolish War
Mini-booklet – ideal for handing out at meetings or in schools. Collection of quotations from various times, places and people, about eliminating war.

20 pages A6 booklet 50p.

To order any of the above items please send your request with cheque made out to MAW (plus 20% postage) to MAW Orders, 1 Thesiger Rd, Abingdon OX14 2DY.

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