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Home | Friday
21st April 2006 | Issue 540
WAKE UP!! ITS YER NEVER
Or Nothing | Crap Arrest of the Week |
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SchNEWS | SchNEWS In Brief | ...and
correspondent in Kathmandu writes..
Nepal the showdown between a fat power-crazed king and a huge pro-democracy
movement has shut down the entire country since April 6th.
The strike is absolute - no driving vehicles, no work, often no
shops at all. Hospitals, commercial airlines and banks are on strike.
Food is getting expensive and fuel is scarce, but until the king
stands down and returns democracy and human rights to the people,
the strike is likely to continue.
and the world in general has paid little notice. Nepal is not rich
in oil or uranium, and doesn't export much. The only thing at stake
here is the freedom and future of its 23 million citizens.
The police and army are loyal to King Gyanendra Bir Bikram Shah
Dev - a man who believes he is an incarnation of Vishnu with a divine
right to screw the country. Everybody else thinks he's a fat old
nutter who killed off the entire royal family and blamed his son-in-law,
who then conveniently died, in order to become king. He decided
a year ago to take over complete control as a divine ruler and dump
democracy and parliament. Famously he declared that the "days
of monarchy being seen but not heard... are over". All human
rights have been canceled and thousands have been jailed without
numbers have hit the streets in virtually every town in the country.
The andolan (protest) was initially called for April 6th-9th,
but in response to police violence it was extended indefinitely.
Every part of society has held marches and demos against the king.
Lawyers, journalists, doctors, women, old people, families of 'disappeared'
people, professors, schoolkids, tourists, government workers, NGO
workers, students and families of police have taken part. Police
have attacked all of the above, perhaps with the exception of their
have been battered and imprisoned for 90 days. Throughout the andolan,
journalists have been singled out, beaten and arrested. Over 100
are in jail. At the lawyers' demo, police opened fire on the peaceful
march, injuring 17. One cop met members of the National Human Rights
Commission and shouted, "NHRC is a Maoist organization, it
should be scrapped and all the human rights defenders should be
searched and shot."
the Home Office, who control the police, had a protest against the
government - irony-free cops arrested 25.
rallies have been held in the capital and in every sizable town.
Police and the army have clamped down with curfews, which people
deliberately defy to show their contempt for the government and
to show who really controls the streets. This has been a main catalyst
for violence. The regime had killed 13 demonstrators by April the
20th, a figure which will rapidly go out of date, and injured thousands.
Batons, tear gas, rubber and live bullets have all been used indiscriminately.
Armed police routinely fire at the faces and heads of demonstrators.
Many protesters have been "disappeared" or tortured. Senior
police have ordered their underlings to beat protesters so severely
that they cannot return to the andolan.
have also left many police injured. Nepal is a country littered
with stones, which has evened the odds a little - until the police
start shooting. Ganesh Bohara, an injured 50-year-old from Sarlahi
district, whilst receiving treatment at the Vinayak Hospital for
his injuries, said he would "go to pelt stones in the street"
after recovering. "I am ready to die for democracy," said
Bohara, a street vendor, who was hit on his head with truncheons.
"I saw another four persons collapsing as I was rushed to this
Down The Law
political parties, who have a history of squabbling, and a proven
track record of shabby corruption and incompetence, have united
against the king. But although the Seven Party Alliance announces
the events and gives the speeches, the andolan has become a genuine
popular movement. Newspaper articles complain of the lack of political
leadership in the movement. But this might be a good thing. Most
politicians in Nepal are so crooked they need help getting their
trousers on in the morning. Now they know that they will not be
allowed to strike any dodgy bargains with the king. If and when
the king holds talks with them, anything less than the full return
of democracy, a constitution guaranteeing human rights and the end
of the monarchy will likely be rejected by the people.
has raised the stakes, and made the andolanis demand a total end
to monarchy. 'Information' Minister Shirish Rana defended the security
measures: "this movement is infiltrated by the Maoist terrorists...We
have refrained from the use of excessive violence and it is only
when it has been provoked that the state has responded."
trump card is to call anybody who disagrees with him a Maoist, preferably
after killing them to avoid unnecessary arguments. He and his head
honcho, Kamal Thapa, the Home Minister, claim the democracy movement
is Maoist. This argument has more holes in it than most of the king's
Maoist rebels are cheering from the sidelines, but are not a major
part of the democracy movement. For the most part they are holding
back and watching to see what happens. Their 10-year-old "People's
War" has reached a stalemate and they are now signaling that
they want to take part in elections and are committed to democracy
and human rights. Which makes them not very Maoist at all, if they
On The Maoist
rebellion fed on the rampant injustices in Nepali society and the
indifference of the ruling elite to the suffering of the poor. Nepal
may have often been depicted as a backwards country - literacy levels
are at around 40% and 80% of people depend on farming - but you
don't need to go to university to know what injustice looks like.
Nepal's ruling elite has a gene pool so small they make Prince Charles
look normal. This may or may not be the reason the king looks like
an overweight haddock. In the roll call of generals, cops, politicians,
and other top league gangsters the same surnames crop up again and
again. The caste system further cements injustice into place.
areas of the countryside live in grinding poverty. The government
ignored the peasant, lower-caste countryside majority for decades,
leaving many without schools, roads, or hospitals within many days
walk. They only paid attention when the Maoists armed up and began
their People's War.
April 20th, big rallies are taking place in Kathmandu. Crowds are
breaking the shoot-on-sight curfew on the ring-road around the capital.
Four people have been shot dead and 18 are critically injured in
one area. Police have stolen bodies from the hospital at gun-point.
At other places there is a 'carnival' atmosphere with dancing and
chants of "Gyanendra ...Des Chowk" - meaning "King...
Get out of the country."
the king's days are numbered. In a recent interview, The US ambassador
to Nepal said that if the king does not make changes he may soon
be leaving in a hurry, hanging off the back of a helicopter.
situation is not resolved shortly, food will run out. A Tiananmen
Square-type massacre and clampdown cannot be ruled out. The king
may declare a state of emergency. A Burma scenario is also possible
- a long, slow squeeze, but holding out for years and years. Most
people are hoping that the end will come quickly though and the
king will find a bungalow in Argentina next to some ageing nazis
and let Nepalis start to deal with the country's many problems.
pressure could help this happen - get to the demo at the
Nepalese Embassy, 12:30pm on Tuesday 25th April at 12a Kensington
Palace Gardens London, W8 4QU. Nearest tube station is Notting Hill
Gate. Please bring as many people as you can, and spread the word!
Phone, fax or email the Nepalese Embassy and keep up the
pressure. Tel: 0207 229 1594, 0207 229 6231, E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org,
To stay informed, check out the Kathmandu Post website. The
king has tried to shut it down, and some of their journalists have
been battered by police. Always a sign you're doing something right
ARREST OF THE WEEK
asking an ethical question
in April, one ethically conscientious shopper upset the apple cart
at Maidenhead's premier consumption palace, the Nicholson Centre,
by enquiring whether the products being sold on an Israeli stall
were sourced from the illegal Israeli settlements in Palestine.
enough request you might think, and one the stallholders would have
been more than happy to clear up. But after 45 minutes of getting
no decent answer, four security guards, the manager and two police
officers all arrived to discuss the matter further. Their contribution
to the debate was to handcuff the offending information-seeker and
arrest her for aggravated trespass. She is now on bail, hoping she
might at least be able to get some help with her retail decision-making
in open court.
interested in peaceful direct action against Dead Sea products on
our high streets should contact email@example.com
TO THE OLD STOMPING GROUNDS
battles from around the world...
indigenous land rights leaders were murdered in Guatemala earlier
this month just hours after their organization called for countrywide
roadblocks to protest against politicians' failure to implement
much needed land reforms. Tensions have been high since the government
began evicting landless Mayan Indians from squatted farms earlier
this year. Ever since the United Fruit Company set up shop in the
world's first 'Banana Republic' early last century, land has been
practically given away to the private corporations with their opponents
being quickly 'disappeared', tortured or imprisoned for years.
Meanwhile, further south in Brazil, thousands demonstrated
to mark the 10th anniversary of the shooting of 19 land rights activists
by police near the remote Amazon town of Eldorado dos Carajas. To
date only two of the 150 policemen on duty the night of the massacre
have been prosecuted - and both were freed by the supreme court.
Assassinations of rural activists continue apace despite government
promises to do something about the problem of landlessness. Over
the last twenty years, the one million strong Movement of
Landless Workers (MST) has occupied five million hectares
of land, arguing that the government's promise to redistribute a
less-than-generous 200,000 hectares isn't enough. Check out Brazil's
massive Squatter movement at www.mstbrazil.org
Back in the UK, protesters armed with cows and pigs occupied
an empty farm which is being flogged off to developers by Somerset
County Council. They've set up the Balham Hill Farm
shop to sell locally grown fruit and veg. A number of 'County Farms'
were bought by councils to help people take up farming, and worked
a bit like starter homes for people trying to get on to the property
ladder. Despite government guidance that the farms should be kept
in public ownership, the council are more interested in making some
money. "This farm belongs the people of Somerset," said
a spokesperson for occupiers, Simon Fairlie, "But the council
wants to sell it off to make a quick buck. We and our livestock
will stay here until the property is withdrawn from sale."
(Contact farm on 0117 944 6219 / 07786 952037)
Over in Essex, although it's unlikely that the right-wingers
inhabiting the corridors of power in Basildon Council will take
any notice of the latest 1,000 strong petition against the eviction
of Dale Farm, a local priest knew what to think.
"If there is an eviction at Dale Farm," he told a crowd
at the Red Wheels Against Racism festival last week, "You can
be assured I will be there waving my 'This is Ethnic Cleaning' banner!"
Dale Farm is the biggest Travellers' settlement in the UK and faces
eviction during proceedings which the Commission for Racial Equality
has deemed to be racist (See SchNEWS 519).
An updated version of the £2million plan to trash 86 homes
at the site is now winging its way to the United Nations Habitat
Advisory Group on Forced Evictions, as a priority case. Hired goons
Constant and Company, meanwhile, are poised to pounce despite the
fact that residents have bought most of the plots they live on.
For more see www.gypsy-traveller.org
* A quick
reminder that the Castle Mill boatyard in Oxfordshire
faces imminent eviction (See SchNEWS 527).
Plans to swap community space for luxury flats have been resisted
by campaigners for months, but now the owners - British Waterways
- secured a court order on February 28th to boot out the protesters.
or phone the site office on 01865 55948 for more info.
magic tree at Broadwater near Worthing, Sussex, has been
saved from the chop. The Highways agency, who want the tree down
"for safety reasons", were inundated with e-mails in support
of the 300 year old tree, which is said to be a magnet for local
ghouls and ghosts. In local folklore, midsummer's day was a time
of connection to the supernatural, and the tree is known as the
Midsummer tree. It is now protected as part of the area's cultural
hertitage, with a plaque outlining it's history.
more Worthing news see www.eco-action.org/porkbolter
are a number of Hunger Strikes taking place across UK detention
centres (See SchNEWS 538) following
recent demonstrations outside the 'immigration reception and removal'
detention centres. Inmates at Colnbrook were denied the chance to
view the noisy protests occurring outside, and received some rough
treatment to boot from guards over-eager to keep them all subdued.
In defiance, and to draw attention to the appalling conditions they
face, a number began refusing food and water. Detainees in other
centres followed suit in solidarity and while the Home Office claim
it is only a 'handful', detainees say over a hundred are now refusing
more see www.noborder.org
the SchMOVIES part of the website to watch 'Out
of Harms Way', a short film shot at the Colnbrook day of
action on Saturday April 8th. www.schnews.org.uk/schmovies
April 11th twenty nine activists (ages ranging from 19
to 81) were sentenced to periods from one to six months - plus fines
of $500-$1000 - for acts of non-violent direct action at the US
Army's 'School Of The Americas' base back in November last year.
This follows four already serving sentences for the same action.
Of The Americas', or to give it its new name - WHISC (Western
Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation) - is a training school
for Latin American soldiers at Fort Benning Georgia, USA (See SchNEWS
382). Originally set up in Panama in 1946 it was kicked out
in 1984 with former president Jorge Illueca calling it the 'biggest
base for destabilisation in Latin America'. This school of assassins
has gone on to train up over 60,000 Latin American soldiers in various
techniques of warfare, torture, and counter-insurgency tactics -
for them to go and work for such human rights champions as Generals
Galtieri, Noriega and Pinochet, or anyone else propped up or working
for US Inc. Hundreds of thousands of Latin Americans have been tortured
or killed as a result of SOA alumni, and now it is opening up branches
in Hungary, Thailand, Botswana and Costa Rica (see SchNEWS
O'Reilly is serving 90 days for 'destruction of government
property' charges stemming from this action. Write to Liam at USP
Canaan, Satellite Camp, PO Box 200, Waymart, PA, 18472, USA.
contact details of all other prisoners see www.soaw.org/new/print_article.php?id=1247
also Schools Of The Americas Watch www.soaw.org
- Join Swindon
Against Fascism, a single issue campaign not linked with
any political party, in leafleting against the BNP. Assemble 11am,
April 22 & 29th, at Salvation Army, Chapel Street, Gorse Hill,
- Bike ride
from Runnymede to Parliament Square between April 22-23rd,
challenging the erosion of ancient constitutional rights in the
Serious Organised Crime & Police Act. 0785 439 0408, www.peopleincommon.org/forum/viewtopic.php?t=23
- Stop nagging and help
leaflet against the horseracing at Kempton Park
on Mayday, 1st May. Meet at Coral's bookmakers, The Avenue, Sunbury-on-Thames,
Surrey, at 10.30am, before moving on to the track itself (racing
starts at 2.10pm). Map link at www.veggies.org.uk/arc/event.php?ref=697
- Next week is 'TV
Turnoff Week' (24-30th April) To mark the event there
is a picnic on Southampton Common (under trees
near boating lake) from 1pm to 'turn off the TV and do something
less boring instead' such as play music, do art, fly kites or
even talk to people... (Free/no alcohol.)
- Brighton ABC
(Anarchist Black Cross - supporting anarchist & class war
prisoners) open meeting at the Cowley Club, 12 London Rd, Brighton,
concerning the recent arrests in Spain (See SchNEWS
535). Weds 26th 7.30pm. For more see www.brightonabc.org.uk
Only in America... A hotshot DEA drug enforcement officer
is suing his agency bosses for somehow allowing a video of him hard
at work to be released in to the public domain. Unfortunately on
the day in question, whilst demonstrating gun safety to school children
in Orlando, Florida, the calamity-cop shot himself in the foot -
quite literally - just as he was telling the kids all about the
virtues of his glock, and admonishing them that he was the only
one in the room professional enough to handle it. According to his
lawsuit he is now "the target of jokes, derision, ridicule
and disparaging comments". Perhaps this was because he gamely
tried to carry only, limping and bleeding, to admit he'd made "a
mistake", discuss how accidents can and do happen, and warn
the stunned kids that they could be "blown away" by such
an accident. He then proceeds to call for his automatic rifle to
start demonstrating that, and seems to lose his audience at this
point - that sacred barrier of trust shattered like a foot bone.
the whole shooting match at www.schnews.org.uk/schmovies
- no sniggering now.
warns all readers... don't let an abominable showman take over your
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