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April 24, 2010 Weblog:

Khalas! The Fifth Bil'in International Conference on the Popular Struggle

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In the name of our prisoners: Non-Violence, Creativity, International Joint Struggle

April 21-23, 2010
Bil'in, West Bank

Closing Statement

During this fifth annual conference, we felt the absence of our friends who are prevented by the occupation's cells and bars from joining us, imprisoned for struggling non-violently for our freedom, activists and leaders of the popular committees Abdullah Abu Rahmah, Ibrahim A'amirah, Adeeb Abu Rahmah, Hassan Moussa, Zaydoun Surour, Ibrahim Burnat, Wael Faqi and all political prisoners.

The conference opened with a message from them written by the imprisoned coordinator of the popular committee of Bili'n, Abdullah Abu Rahme. The message spoke of the need to continue the popular nonviolent struggle and the need for international support.

We felt the absence our beloved Bassem Abu Rahmah, along with the martyrs of Ni'lin and those that have fallen to defend our land and human dignity. We heard from the family of the martyr Bassem Abu Rahma on behalf of the families of the martyrs who stated that the popular struggle must continue until freedom is achieved.

We felt the absence of our brothers and sisters from Gaza who can join us only via video conference due to the occupation's criminal siege of 1.5 million of our people.

All those that were not with us physically were with us every minute in spirit. It is your steadfastness and your sacrifice that fuel and inspire the struggle that will ultimately lead us to our freedom.

» continue reading "Khalas! The Fifth Bil'in International Conference on the Popular Struggle"

April 1, 2009 Weblog:

NSPIRG, the Stop NSPIRG campaign, and the Dalhouise Student Union

Live Blogging from the Dalhousie Student Union Annual General Meeting (Part Deux)

Does the fate of NSPIRG hang in the balance?

April 1st, 2009

Dalhousie Student Union Building, MacInnes Auditorium

Halifax.

6:32 pm - People are filing into the room. Approximately 40 pizzas have arrived, and they are being eaten as quickly as they are brought in. Attendance is at least 100 students, media, Sodexho staff, security, and others. The auditorium is three quarters full.

6:45 pm - Some students have faces painted from the carnival and concert, held earlier in the day in front of the Killam library, featuring bands, stilt walkers, clowns, and more. The line-up, according to Shannon Zimmerman (incoming DSU president), extends out to first floor lobby and out the front door.

6:57 pm - Mat Brechtel, chair of the meeting, has begun his preamble. "There was a tool called the challenge to the chair that was abused at the last meeting (March 11th).... It is not intended to procedurally do what you democratically cannot do. I encourage you all to achieve your democratic ends, through the use of a vote."

7:03: From the back of the room in the press booth, it looks like all the chairs are full.

7:28 pm - DSU Vice President Education Mark Coffin is presenting his portfolio, consisting mostly of lobbying nationally and provincially through CASA and ANSSA. Tony Seed, editor of Shunpiking Magazine and former candidate of the Marxist-Leninist Party, sitting beside me, says the lobbying model is selling out students' interests.

» continue reading "NSPIRG, the Stop NSPIRG campaign, and the Dalhouise Student Union"

March 29, 2009 Weblog:

Book Review: Zapatismo Beyond Borders

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For artists, songwriters, storytellers, and dreamers that are reading this, you are in luck. Creativity has won out against the darkness and monotony of neoliberalism. Imagination is revolutionary. The world has good reason to hope. The affirmative and liberatory project of the Zapatistas has spread its message around the globe: un otro mundo es posible. This credo can guide our imaginations onto new terrains, but the work of building and constructing worlds remains in front of us, daunting and formidable. How do we move forward, and what weapons will our creativity arm us with? Alex Khasnabish gives us some guidance in his book, but choices remain to be taken, and we will measure our success only from the viewpoint of the end of a lifetime of imaginative struggle.

Zapatismo Beyond Borders: New Imaginations of Political Possibility (Alex Khasnabish, University of Toronto Press, 2008) explores the transnational resonance of Zapatismo - the guiding principles, tactics and beliefs of the Zapatistas - that has invigorated and inspired social activism and anti-capitalist struggles in North America. Khasnabish is a professor of sociology and anthropology at Mount St. Vincent University and Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia. The book comes on the heels of his recent papers “A Tear in the Fabric of the Present” in the Journal for the Study of Radicalism (2009) and “Insurgent Imaginations” in Ephemera: Theory and Politics in Organization (2007), among other essays. Khasnabish's style reads like an academic thesis: rigorously documented, lengthy citations, and careful argumentation. Most accessible to academics, readers may find themselves wishing for a more palatable and digestible read.

» continue reading "Book Review: Zapatismo Beyond Borders"

March 28, 2009 Weblog:

Students Battle Over Nova Scotia PIRG

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HALIFAX – “We need to trust that people will be honest”, said Mat Brechtel, chair of the Dalhousie Student Union (DSU), referring to a ballot vote after two votes by hand count had failed to determine whether or not a motion concerning the Nova Scotia Public Interest Research Group (NSPIRG) would be added to the meeting's agenda. Brechtel was chairing the DSU's Annual General Meeting to a packed auditorium of 200 students.

The motion called on the DSU to make NSPIRG vacate their offices within 30 days, that NSPIRG make a public apology for "wasting students' money," and also stated that all funds should be with held from NSPIRG and held in trust by the DSU.

The issue of whether the student-funded social justice organization NSPIRG should continue to receive funding was the hot debate item of the evening. Though the item was added to the agenda, it now needs to be voted on by the Dalhousie student body at a subsequent general meeting, to be held April 1st in the Dalhousie Student Union Building at 6:30 pm. It will require a simple majority of 50 percent plus one to either pass or fail.

The meeting began with a tightly controlled security check at the doors of the McInnes Room, the auditorium where the AGM was held. As per orders of DSU President, Courtney Larkin, no non-Dalhousie students were allowed into the AGM, including NSPIRG members and a staff, despite precedence during past AGMs.

According to supporters of NSPIRG inside the meeting, several non-students were still in attendance, including former members of the DSU council and executive.

» continue reading "Students Battle Over Nova Scotia PIRG"

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February 15, 2009 Weblog:

Justice Served Cold

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Asaf Rashid, one of the four defendants, stands in front of the Nova Scotia Provincial Court. Photo: David Parker

HALIFAX - It was a cold winter's day nearing Christmas, and not much was stirring on the streets of Halifax. In front of the Provincial Court on Spring Garden Road, a group of people huddled together, entering the court for a long-awaited trial date. On December 22, 2008, four Haligonians took the stand and testified in front of a judge to a courtroom packed with supporters.

The defendants had been charged a year and a half earlier after hundreds took to the streets of downtown Halifax on June 15, 2007, to oppose a regional integration proposal known as Atlantica. Charges included carrying weapons, wearing masks with intent, unlawful assembly, and resisting arrest.

The Atlantica demonstrations numbered 400 protesters and included a militant tactic known as a black bloc that intended to shut down the conference.

Demonstrators were targeted by police and reported extreme police brutality, including being choked until unconscious, shocked with taser guns, and beaten by batons.

George Dalli was one of the defendants on trial. "I saw police hitting other people, pepper spraying, tasers were drawn: it was an intense and intimidating situation before the arrest. I told the officers 'I'm not resisting arrest, not trying to be violent.' I was rolled onto my stomach, hands behind my back. I was choked, fingers were jabbed into my neck, I said 'don't do this to me, I'm losing consciousness, don't do this to me', and I continued saying this until I lost consciousness."

The 21 individuals arrested that day spent the next three days in jail, the first 48 hours in lockdown.

» continue reading "Justice Served Cold"

October 12, 2008 Weblog:

The Anti-Terrorist Battle Inside Canada's Borders

The anti-terrorist battle inside Canada's borders
by David Parker
July 17th, 2008.

HALIFAX - In Canada since 9/11, the domestic climate of rising national security fears, fanned by a sensationalist media trumpeting the “War on Terror”, has led the government to justify practices which undermine long-standing principles of human rights.

In December 2001, Canada passed the Anti-Terrorist Act (ATA) to deal with threats to national security. The ATA makes changes to the criminal code that “aim to disable and dismantle the activities of terrorist groups and those who support them”. It destroys civil liberties and gives police vast new powers, eroding due process and privacy. [1]

According to Gary Kinsman, professor at Laurentian University, the concept of ‘national security’ is doubly problematic. Nation refers here to groups who fit the image of the Canadian state - white heterosexual males, construed as ‘safe’, while racialized communities are excluded as ‘outsiders’ and enemies of the state. [2] Despite purported concern with security, state initiatives have only endangered non-citizens and criminalized legitimate social protest.

The arrest of 21 South Asian Muslim men for allegedly plotting to blow up a nuclear reactor in 2003 (known as Project Thread) garnered wide media attention. All were eventually deported on minor immigration charges, not one was charged with a terrorist offence [3]. They were detained up to 5 months, interrogated about their faith and threatened with deportation to Guantanamo Bay, infamous torture camp of the United States, where Omar Khadr, youngest detainee and Canadian citizen, remains after 6 years, subjected to torture methods detailed in leaked FBI files [4].

» continue reading "The Anti-Terrorist Battle Inside Canada's Borders"

October 12, 2008 Weblog:

Criminalizing Indigenous Rights in Canada

Criminalizing Indigenous Rights in Canada
David Parker
September 8th, 2008.

HALIFAX - In September of 2007, the United Nations adopted the non-binding Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Four high profile countries notably voted against the declaration - namely Canada, the United States, Australia and New Zealand.[1] All four countries are states that were established by white settlers on indigenous lands, and all four are currently in disputes with indigenous peoples over land and sovereignty.

The Canadian state, built on the theft and occupation of indigenous lands, continues to benefit from its unjustly acquired assets. Equipped with an ultra-security state apparatus, Canada's repressive and suppressive anti-terrorist and security measures have historically struck hardest against those that have the most to gain, namely aboriginal nations and their legitimate claims for their rights to land and dignity.

Recent cases of indigenous protest in Ontario have been in opposition to government authorized resource extraction on native lands. Despite legitimate demands for sovereignty and decision-making power over their traditional lands, native protesters have been incarcerated: Robert Lovelace and the KI-6 (6 council members of Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug First Nation) have received harsh fines and 6 months in jail for peacefully protesting against mineral exploration on the lands of KI and Ardoch Algonquin First Nation (AAFN).

» continue reading "Criminalizing Indigenous Rights in Canada"

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