Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Castro Regime Rent-a-Mob attacks Sara Marta Fonseca and her family

The above video demonstrates part of a rent-a-mob attack organized by state security agents of the dictatorship in Cuba to terrorize and assault Sara Marta Fonseca Quevedo and her family on April 18, 2011 at her home in Río Verde, Boyeros in Havana, Cuba according to Hablemos Press.

Monday, April 25, 2011

The Cuban Regime's International Impact on Human Rights in China

“Dime con quién andas y te diré quién eres”. ["Tell me with whom you walk, and I will tell you who you are."] - Spanish proverb

When dealing with human rights and Cuba there is an obvious focus on the systematic human rights violations inside of Cuba that often leads to overlooking the impact of the regime in multinational and international institutions. In the past this blog has reported on some of the many countries the Castro regime has made an impact in: Angola, Argentina, Ethiopia, Sri Lanka and Venezuela now China is added to this list.

The communist regime in Cuba has been a staunch ally of the Chinese communists at international forums such as the United Nations Human Rights Council and both regimes engage in a mutual admiration society and make a mockery of human rights concerns. For example when the Chinese communists released a report attacking the human rights record of the United States Fidel Castro praised the Chinese regime's report while decrying "Washington's hypocrisy." International media covers this kind of "news" as a Tibetan monastery remains under siege by Chinese military forces and hundreds of monks have been detained and sent for "reeducation" while others were beaten to death during a military assault on the monastery. Not surprisingly the Castro brothers' dictatorship has nothing critical to say about the Chinese occupation of Tibet nor of its treatment of the Tibetans. Nor is it surprising that China and Cuba are two of the top four countries in the world when it comes to restricting internet use.

Nevertheless, when these regime's start recommending that the other be tougher on their human rights defenders a new low has been reached that has managed to surprise some. For example, China underwent its first Universal Periodic Review (UPR) on February 9, 2009. During this session the Cuban Ambassador, Mr. Juan Antonio Fernández Palacios, after a short, ideologically biased and rambling run through of Chinese history then recommended that the Chinese regime repress human rights defenders in China.

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint program of the World Organization Against Torture (OMCT) and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) declared in a formal statement on February 13, 2009 that it was:
all the more concerned that China accepted a recommendation formulated by Cuba, according to which China should “maintain, in strict compliance of law, to avoid the impunity for people who are qualifying themselves as human rights defenders with the objective of attacking the interests of the state and the people of China”.
"This recommendation is unacceptable, and sends a very bad signal to Chinese human rights defenders who are strongly repressed on a daily basis due to their peaceful human rights activities, and as such is a flagrant violation of the provisions of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 9, 1998", said Eric Sottas, OMCT Secretary General.
One month later on March 13, 2009 the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders spoke before the 10th Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council on Item 3 stating:
We believe in this regard that it is of utmost importance that such recommendations comply with the Declaration on human rights defenders and other international human rights standards and instruments. We were outraged by the recommendation formulated by Cuba on the occasion of the UPR of China, that encourages repression against human rights defenders. We insist on the fact that such recommendations shall not be taken into account in outcome reports. In the event that recommendations of this nature are adopted, they will not only contradict the recommendations of other mechanisms, such as treaty bodies and special procedures but also internationally recognized human rights standards.
The Chinese rejected serious recommendations to improve its human rights standards and accepted the Cuban regime's recommendation to increase repression on human rights defenders. This is another example, of many, in which the Cuban dictatorship is a counterproductive actor in international affairs and in the case of the people of China and Tibet the Cuban regime's statements and actions have left them less protected.

There are real life consequences to what takes place at these international forums as are taking place now at the Kirti Monastery that erupted into a crisis requiring the world's attention due to the loss of life and brutality visited on nonviolent people. The Tibetan government in exile reports on events in occupied Tibet:
The Chinese government has sealed off Kirti Monastery by deploying armed security forces to crackdown on Tibetans following the monk's suicide on 16 March. Since then a large group of Tibetans stood guard at the Kirti monastery to prevent the Chinese police from taking away monks for detention. The Tibetans gathered at the monastery, who were mostly elders, were severely beaten by the police as they attempted to resist the police from taking away around 300 monks in around 10 military trucks on the night of 21 April. The crowd was dispersed by the police who indulged in indiscriminate beating. Two elderly Tibetans, Dongko, aged 60, and Sherkyi, 65, died due to severe beating. The latest report we have says that 300 monks have been removed from the monastery and are detained at unknown locations.
The Chinese regime's response is to ban foreigners from visiting the affected area (to avoid eyewitness testimony) on the atrocities committed by the "Peoples Liberation Army (PLA). Meanwhile Tibetans cry out for international attention and solidarity. In addition to the attack on the monastery Chinese Christians were detained to prevent them from celebrating Easter this past week.

The Cuban regime's participation in covering up human rights abuses in China along with its calls for increased repression on human rights defenders make it complicit with the Chinese regime in these crimes against the Tibetan and Chinese people.

"Ver con calma un crimen es cometerlo."
["To calmly witness a crime is to commit it."] -
José Martí

Friday, April 22, 2011

A Reflection On Nonviolence On Good Friday : Jesus’ Third Way

And behold, one of those who accompanied Jesus put his hand to his sword, drew it, and struck the high priest's servant, cutting off his ear. Then Jesus said to him, "Put your sword back into its sheath, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword. Matthew 26.51-52
"You have learnt how it was said: 'Eye for eye and tooth for tooth.' But I say to you, Offer the wicked man no resistance. If anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also; if a man takes you to law and would have your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone orders you to go one mile, go two miles with him." Matthew 5.38-41

"It is a first-class human tragedy that peoples of the earth who claim to believe in the message of Jesus, whom they describe as the Prince of Peace, show little of that belief in actual practice. - Mohandas Gandhi

Thankfully, Gandhi was mistaken and some of the people who believe in the message of Jesus of Nazareth demonstrate that belief in actual practice as did a group of Catholic Monks in Algeria in 1996 now made known to the world in the film Of Gods and Men. Others continue to do so today around the world. What better day than Good Friday to reflect on those who took up the cross and followed Christ?

A sermon delivered by the Rev. Roger Scott Powers at Light Street Presbyterian Church in Baltimore, on Sunday, February 20, 2011.
Matthew 5:38-48
A Lutheran pastor/theologian in Nazi Germany. A Catholic laywoman and journalist in New York City. A black Baptist preacher in the American South. A Trappist monk in Kentucky. These four individuals – Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Dorothy Day, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Thomas Merton – came from very different backgrounds and lived in very different social contexts. And yet, they were all drawn to the way of nonviolence. Indeed, they became four of the most influential advocates of Christian nonviolence in the twentieth century.
What brought them to this place? What did these four apostles of nonviolence have in common? Quite simply, it was the Sermon on the Mount.

The German Lutheran pastor, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, was profoundly influenced by Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. In a letter to his brother Karl-Friedrich, in 1935, he wrote: “I believe I know that inwardly I shall be really clear and honest only when I have begun to take seriously the Sermon on the Mount. Here is set the only source of power capable of exploding the whole enchantment and specter [of Hitler and his rule] so that only a few burnt-out fragments are left remaining from the fireworks. The restoration of the church will surely come from a sort of new monasticism which has in common with the old only the uncompromising attitude of a life lived according to the Sermon on the Mount in the following of Christ. I believe it is now time to call people to this.” Bonhoeffer elaborated on his views on the Sermon on the Mount in his book The Cost of Discipleship, published in 1937.

For Dorothy Day, the founder of the Catholic Worker Movement, the Sermon on the Mount was nothing less than a “manifesto” calling Christians to be peacemakers.

Similarly, for Martin Luther King, Jr., the Sermon on the Mount provided the basic philosophy that guided the civil rights movement. In Stride Toward Freedom, King’s account of the Montgomery bus boycott, he wrote: “From the beginning a basic philosophy guided the movement. This guiding principle has since been referred to variously as nonviolent resistance, noncooperation, and passive resistance. But in the first days of the protest none of these expressions was mentioned; the phrase most often heard was “Christian love.” It was the Sermon on the Mount, rather than a doctrine of passive resistance, that initially inspired the Negroes of Montgomery to dignified social action. It was Jesus of Nazareth that stirred the Negroes to protest with the creative weapon of love.”

The Trappist monk Thomas Merton, too, found Christian nonviolence to be rooted in the Sermon on the Mount, specifically in the beatitudes. In his 1967 essay “Blessed are the Meek: The Christian Roots of Non-Violence,” Merton wrote: “The great historical event, the coming of the Kingdom, is made clear and is ‘realized’ in proportion as Christians themselves live the life of the Kingdom in the circumstances of their own place and time. . . . The chief place in which this new mode of life is set forth in detail is the Sermon on the Mount. At the very beginning of this great inaugural discourse, the Lord numbers the beatitudes, which are the theological foundation of Christian nonviolence: Blessed are the poor . . . blessed are the meek (Matthew 5:3-4). . . . the meekness and humility which Christ extolled in the Sermon on the Mount . . . are the basis of true Christian nonviolence.”
In this morning’s reading from the Sermon on the Mount, we hear Jesus’ teachings about loving one’s enemies and turning the other cheek. Most Christians tend to ignore these words of Jesus, dismissing them as too impractical and idealistic to be taken seriously. Indeed, Gandhi once quipped that “the only people on earth who do not see Christ and his teachings as nonviolent are Christians.” It’s true! We tend to think of turning the other cheek as a weak and wimpy response to violence. It sounds too passive, as if we who follow Jesus are supposed to live as human doormats, allowing others to walk all over us.
I want to argue, this morning, that Jesus’ teachings about loving one’s enemies and turning the other cheek have nothing to do with being passive in the face of injustice or acquiescing to evil. Rather, they have everything to do with standing up to evil and injustice, offering a “third way” to respond to conflict other than fighting back violently or running away.

But wait a minute, doesn’t this passage begin with Jesus saying ”Do not resist an evildoer”? What about that? Well, according to Biblical scholar Walter Wink, that translation from the original Greek is misleading. The Greek word translated ‘resist’ is antistenai, which literally means to stand against. But it usually refers to warfare, where two opposing armies “stand against” each other. Antistenai refers not simply to resistance but to violent resistance. So, Jesus is speaking against violent resistance to evil. We should oppose evil, but not on its own terms. A far better translation of this verse is the Scholars Version: ”Don’t react violently against the one who is evil.”
Instead, Jesus says, “if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also; and if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well; and if anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile.” In each of these scenarios, Jesus is offering an alternative to the usual responses to conflict of fight or flight – either hitting back or running away. Jesus’ “third way,” as Walter Wink outlines it, involves standing one’s ground, seizing the moral initiative, and finding a creative alternative to violence. It means recognizing one’s own power, asserting one’s own humanity and dignity as a person, refusing to submit to or to accept the inferior position, breaking the cycle of humiliation. It means being willing to suffer rather than retaliate and to undergo the penalty of breaking unjust laws, thereby exposing the injustice of the system and depriving the oppressor of a situation where a show of force is effective.
Someone striking you on the right cheek, Wink points out, would have used his right hand to do so, since the left hand was used in Jesus’ day only for unclean tasks. So, Jesus is referring to someone slapping you with the back of his hand, which was a way of admonishing inferiors. Masters backhanded slaves. Romans did the same to Jews. It was a way of putting someone of inferior status in his or her place. Under such circumstances, for an inferior to retaliate against a superior would have been suicidal, Wink says. But by turning the other cheek, they could rob their oppressors of the power to humiliate them. By turning the other cheek they would be saying, in effect, “Try again. Hitting me with the back of your hand did not achieve its intended effect. I deny you the power to humiliate me. I am a human being just like you. Your status (gender, race, age, wealth) does not alter that fact. You cannot demean me.”
This puts the superior in a difficult position. What does he do? Does he hit the other cheek? If so, how? You can’t backhand it with your right hand. And if you use your right fist, you make yourself an equal, acknowledging the other as a peer. But the whole point of the backhanded slap was to reinforce the inequality between you. By turning the other cheek, the person of inferior status has refused to submit, seized the moral initiative, asserted his or her human dignity, and thrown the superior off-balance. That is Jesus’ third way of nonviolent engagement.
In Jesus’ second example, a debtor falling ever deeper into poverty is unable to pay his debt and so his creditor takes him to court to exact payment by legal means. All the debtor has left are his woolen outer garment, which would serve as his blanket at night, and his linen undergarment or tunic shirt. Once the creditor takes his coat, all the poor man has left is the shirt on his back. By giving the creditor his shirt as well, the debtor stands before everyone stark naked, as if to say, “Here, take everything! Now you have everything except my body. Will you take that next?” There was less shame in being naked than in viewing or causing the nakedness. So by stripping naked, the debtor turns the tables on the creditor, shaming him, and also protesting against the whole economic system that caused the poor man’s indebtedness in the first place.
A third example of Jesus’ third way is “going the second mile.” Here Jesus is referring to the right of a Roman soldier to force a civilian to carry his pack for one mile, but no further. By carrying the soldier’s pack a second mile a civilian would again be seizing the moral initiative, asserting his human dignity, and throwing the soldier off-balance.
Some people are willing to concede that Jesus’ nonviolent ethic might work at the individual level – person-to-person – but they argue that it would not work in social conflicts between groups of people, and certainly not on a national or international scale. But this argument doesn’t hold water given the long history of nonviolent social movements. Think of the movement to abolish slavery, the women’s suffrage movement, the labor movement, and the civil rights movement. The history of nonviolent struggle is long, but it’s largely forgotten. Remember the Indian Independence Movement led by Gandhi against the British. Remember the nonviolent “people power” revolution in the Philippines that brought down the Marcos dictatorship in 1986. Remember the pro-democracy movements in Poland, East Germany, and Czechoslovakia that ousted communist regimes in 1989. Remember the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa that brought an end to white minority rule.
The recent revolution in Egypt is the latest example of the extraordinary power of nonviolent action. Yes, there was some violence in Cairo, much of it apparently instigated by agent provocateurs and security forces. But most of the time, the Egyptian crowds in Tahir Square were peaceful. They did not take up arms against the government. They did not riot in the streets. They engaged in peaceful, orderly protest. And in just 18 days they were able to topple a dictator who had been in power for 30 years! It is astounding!
Jesus’ “third way” of nonviolent action may not work in all circumstances, but the historical record shows that it is a powerful means of engaging in conflict, and can be used successfully in struggles for justice, human rights, and self-determination.
Perhaps you’ve seen this bumper sticker: “When Jesus said love your enemies, I’m pretty sure he meant don’t kill them.” Indeed! Jesus’ “third way” of nonviolent action offers us a means of confronting our enemies without killing them, without resorting to violence. Would that more Christians would recognize this and embrace Jesus’ “third way” of nonviolence.
Coretta Scott King says that: “At the dawn of the twenty-first century, we have an historic opportunity for a great global healing and renewal. If we will accept the challenge of nonviolent activism with faith, courage, and determination, we can bring this great vision of a world united in peace and harmony from a distant ideal into a glowing reality.” May it be so. Amen.

Rev. Roger Scott Powers, is co-moderator of the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship National Committee and pastor of Light Street Presbyterian Church in Baltimore, Maryland.

"You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy; But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those whose persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Matthew 5.43-46

Thursday, April 21, 2011

CPJ: 10 Cuban Journalists face arrest, intimidation during Communist Party Congress

From the Committee to Protect Journalists

New York, April 20, 2011--The Committee to Protect Journalists is alarmed by a string of recent arrests of journalists from the Havana-based news outlet Centro de Información Hablemos Press, preventing them from reporting on the Communist Party Congress held in Havana this week. CPJ called on the Cuban government to cease its persistent harassment of independent journalists and allow them to report freely.

In the past three weeks, at least 10 correspondents from Hablemos Press, known for its reporting on human rights and opposition activities, have been detained in police stations, put under house arrest or threatened with arrest. One journalist, Enyor Díaz Allen, was assaulted by government supporters and then held by police for four days. The arrests coincide with the Sixth Communist Party Congress, the first in 14 years, which began in Havana on Saturday.

"This spike in short-term arrests of journalists during the Communist Party Congress is evidence of the Cuban government's unchanged attitude toward the independent press, despite the releases of imprisoned journalists in recent months," said Carlos Lauría, CPJ's senior program coordinator for the Americas. "We call on Cuban officials to stop detaining and harassing journalists."

Despite the landmark release this month of Alberto Santiago Du Bouchet Hernández, the last journalist jailed in Cuba, CPJ and local human rights organizations have observed an increase in instances of low-intensity persecution--short-term detentions, house arrests, smear campaigns, and intimidation--of members of Cuba's independent press.

Roberto de  Jesús Guerra Pérez
Roberto de Jesús Guerra Pérez

Hablemos Press director Roberto de Jesús Guerra Pérez told CPJ in an interview Tuesday that the timing of the arrests was obvious. "The regime is afraid that there will be a popular uprising during the Party Congress and wants to prevent journalists from reporting on what's going on," Guerra said.

According to CPJ research, 10 journalists from Hablemos Press have faced arrest and intimidation in the past three weeks:

--Guantánamo correspondent Enyor Díaz Allen, 28, was arrested Friday, along with pro-democracy activist Yoandris Beltrán Gamboa, and held until Tuesday afternoon, Díaz told CPJ. As he was walking Friday evening, two unidentified men approached Díaz shouting pro-Castro slogans and attacked him. Díaz defended himself but sustained a fractured arm and wounds requiring stitches on his head. About 20 minutes into the attack, police agents arrived and broke up the fight. The police took Díaz to the hospital. After Díaz's wounds were treated, state security agents took him to the Parque 24 police station and held him for four days. Díaz was charged with minor assault, and his attackers walked free, Guerra said.

Díaz has reported on police abuses, education issues, and opposition activities in Guantánamo province and is also a member of the youth democracy movement. According to Guerra, a common tactic used by Cuban authorities to intimidate critics is have government supporters attack dissidents who are later arrested. Díaz told CPJ that he believes the attack was related to his reporting.

--Raúl Arias Márquez and Elier Muir Ávila, correspondents in Morón and Ciego de Ávila provinces, were detained and threatened on April 5 and again on April 6 by police and state security agents at Márquez's home, where the journalists frequently meet. Both have been working for Hablemos Press for about two months and had reported on a student brawl that left two dead.

--On March 31, Hablemos Press correspondent Idalberto Acuña Carabeo was arrested at his home in Havana by state security agents demanding he hand over photos he took while covering a labor protest hours before. When Acuña refused to comply, he was taken to a local police station, interrogated and threatened for 24 hours, Hablemos Press reported.

--Luis Roberto Arcia Rodríguez, Hablemos Press correspondent in Mayabeque province, was put under house arrest in his home in San Jose de las Lajas on April 16 and held there for 12 hours to prevent him from traveling to Havana to meet with other journalists during the communist congress, Guerra said. According to Guerra, eight state security and police agents prevented the reporter from leaving his home.

--Sandra Guerra Pérez, Hablemos Press correspondent in Melena del Sur, was put under house arrest by more than 20 police and security agents on April 16 who blocked her from leaving her house until the evening of April 18. She had been reporting on a series of sugar cane field fires in the area as well as on the conversion of abandoned schools in the countryside to prisons. According to Roberto Guerra, the house arrest was intended to keep Sandra Guerra from traveling to Havana during the Party Congress.

--On April 15, two state security agents appeared at Hablemos Press's headquarters in central Havana and warned four journalists including Roberto Guerra that they would be arrested if they left their homes during the Party Congress. Guerra was also warned that he could face imprisonment for the videos that he has posted on Hablemos Press's Web site that show victims of official repression.

Global Tibet movement condemns China's crackdown on Tibetan Monastery

Kirti Monastery

Statement, 21 April 2011

The worldwide membership of the International Tibet Network (1), consisting of almost 200 Tibet campaign organizations on six continents, condemns China's continuing crackdown on the monks of Kirti Monastery and Tibetans living in Ngaba, Amdo in Eastern Tibet (Ch: Sichuan Province). This crackdown has resulted in at least 34 detentions, beatings, restrictions of movement, food shortages and an intensive "patriotic re-education" campaign following the death of a 20-year old monk named Phuntsok from self-immolation on 16 March (2). The Tibet Network calls on governments around the world to issue a public statement of concern about the crisis and to immediately convey to China's leaders the message that its security forces must withdraw from Ngaba, all detainees must be unconditionally released and unfettered access must be granted to international observers and media.

Video footage released yesterday by Voice of America's Tibetan Service, viewable at (currently in Tibetan only) clearly refutes China's claim that the situation in Ngaba is "normal." The footage includes an interview with the head of Kirti Monastery in Dharamsala, India who said,
“[On Monday] a Foreign Ministry spokesman told a press briefing that there were still religious observances going on, worshippers coming and going, and monks free to leave to conduct pujas (a daily ritual of prayers and offerings) in local households. The fact is that the monastery is encircled by armed soldiers 24 hours a day, while inside government officials intimidate and harass the monks under the guise of a ‘Patriotic Religion’ re-education campaign. They have fenced off all the prayer wheels around the perimeter to prevent people from worship, and blocked off all the gaps in the perimeter wall, turning the compound into a prison, and now that the monks don’t even have food to eat day by day. How can the government talk about security and normality? If the government’s account is correct, then foreign reporters and observers should be allowed in to see for themselves.” (Translation by the International Campaign for Tibet) (3)

On 15 April His Holiness the Dalai Lama appealed for restraint, saying,
"The current situation prevailing at Kirti Monastery in Ngaba in northeastern Tibet is extremely grim because of the stand-off between the Chinese military forces and the local Tibetans. The monastery, housing approximately 2500 monks, is completely surrounded by Chinese armed forces, who at one point prevented vital food and other supplies from entering the monastic compound. […] I am very concerned that this situation if allowed to go on may become explosive with catastrophic consequences for the Tibetans in Ngaba.” (4)

In the coming weeks the US/China and EU/CHina Human Rights Dialogues are expected to take place, as well as visits to China by a number of leaders including Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard and European Commission President Herman van Rompuy. Tibetans and Tibet supporters worldwide urge all those involved in these diplomatic exchanges to robustly express their concern for the safety of monks and Tibetan lay people in Ngaba and to call for an end to the human rights abuses being inflicted by Chinese security forces.

1. The International Tibet Network is a global coalition of 183 Tibet related non-governmental organizations, which works to maximise the effectiveness of the worldwide Tibet movement. Network Member organizations hold varied positions on Tibet's future political status, but all regard Tibet as an occupied country and are dedicated to ending human rights violations in Tibet, and to working actively to restore the Tibetan people's right under international law to determine their own political, economic, social, religious, and cultural status. For more information contact
Tenzin Jigme + 1 703 424 0015 (English/Tibetan, USA) or Alison Reynolds + 44 7711 843884 (English, UK)

2. Tibetan monk Phuntsok, aged 20, immolated himself in the market area of Ngaba on 16 March, the third anniversary of protests at Kirti Monastery in 2008 when police opened fire on and killed at least ten Tibetans. Phuntsok died in hospital on 17 March. For a chronology of events see For a list of those known to have been detained, see

3. A detailed analysis of the Voice of America Tibetan Service's video has been published by ICT, see To contact VoA about the footage, email Photos are available from

4. To read His Holiness' statement in full see

Signed by Members of the International Tibet Network

Western Europe:
Aide aux Refugies Tibetains
Association Dorje
Association Drôme Ardèche-Tibet
Association Rencontres Tibetaines - C.S.P.T. Midi-Pyrenees
Associazione Italia-Tibet
Austrian Committee for Tibet
Briancon05 Urgence Tibet
Caisse d'Aide aux Prisonniers Tibetains
Casa del Tibet - Spain
Comite de Apoyo al Tibet (CAT)
Comite de Soutien au Peuple Tibetain (Les Lilas)
Comite de Soutien au Peuple Tibetain (Switzerland)
Corse - Tibet
Eco-Tibet France
EcoTibet Ireland
Free Tibet
Groupe Non-Violent Louis Lecoin, France
Grupo de Apoio ao Tibete, Portugal
International Campaign for Tibet Deutschland
International Campaign for Tibet Europe
International Society of Human Rights, Munich Chapter (IGFM)
Jamtse Thundel Association
La Porte du Tibet, Geneva
Les Amis du Tibet - Belgium
Les Amis du Tibet Luxembourg
Lions Des Neiges
Lions Des Neiges Mont Blance, France
Maison des Himalayas
Maison du Tibet - Tibet Info
Nice Tibet - (former: Vercors Tibet Resistances)
Nos Amis de l'Himalaya
Objectif Tibet
Passeport Tibetain
Phagma Drolma-Arya Tara
Reseau International des Femmes pour le Tibet
Save Tibet, Austria
Society for Threatened Peoples International
Solidarite Tibet
Students for a Free Tibet - France
Students for a Free Tibet - UK
Swiss Tibetan Friendship Association
Tibet 59 / 62
Tibet Democratie
Tibet Initiative Deutschland
Tibet Liberte Solidarite
Tibet Libertes, France
Tibet Society, U.K.
Tibet Support Group - Ireland
Tibet Support Group - Netherlands
Tibet Unterstutzung Liechtenstein
Tibetan Association of Germany
Tibetan Community Austria
Tibetan Community in Britain
Tibetan Community in Ireland
Tibetan Youth Association in Europe
Tibetan Youth UK
Tibetisches Zentrum Hamburg
TSG Free Tibet And You
Tsowa-Maintenir la Vie, France
Vrienden Van Tibet

Northern Europe:
Association of Free Tibet
Friends of Tibet in Finland
Swedish Tibet Committee
The Norwegian Tibet Committee
Tibet Support Committee Denmark
Tibetan Community in Denmark
Tibetan Community Sweden

Central & Eastern Europe:
Fair Society o.s.
Friends of Tibet Slovakia
Friends of Tibet Society St. Petersburg, Russia
Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights - Tibet Desk
International Youth Human Rights Group - Human Rights in Tibet
Lithuanian Tibet Culture Foundation
Polish Movement for a Free Tibet
Society for Croatia-Tibet Friendship
Students for a Free Tibet, Poland
The Foundation for Civil Society, Russia
Tibet cesky (Tibet in Czech)
Tibet Support Association - Hungary
Tibet Support Group - Krasnodar Region, Russia
Tibet Support Group - Romania
Tibet Support Group - Sochi Region, Russia
Tibetan Programme of The Other Space Foundation
TSG - Slovenia (Formally Foundation Dharmaling)
Union Latvija Tibetai (Latvia for Tibet )
Zida Cels, Latvia

North America:
Association Cognizance Tibet, North Carolina
Bay Area Friends of Tibet
Boston Tibet Network
Canada Tibet Committee
Colorado Friends of Tibet
Committee of 100 for Tibet
CTC - Calgary
Dhokam Chushi Gangdruk
International Campaign for Tibet
International Tibet Independence Movement
Los Angeles Friends of Tibet
Monadnock Friends of Tibet
Northwest Tibetan Cultural Association
Rangzen Alliance
San Diego Friends of Tibet
Santa Barbara Friends of Tibet
Seattle Friends of Tibet
Sierra Friends of Tibet
Students for a Free Tibet
Students for a Free Tibet – Canada
The Tibetan Alliance of Chicago
The World Tibet Day Foundation
Tibet Committee of Fairbanks
Tibet Justice Center
Tibetan Association of Ithaca
Tibetan Association of Northern California
Tibetan Association of Philadephia
Tibetan Association of Santa Fe
Tibetan Association of Southern California
Tibetan Cultural Association - Quebec
Toronto Tibet Youth Congress
U.S. Tibet Committee
Western Colorado Friends of Tibet
Wisconsin Tibetan Association
United Nations for a Free Tibet (UNFFT)

Central and South America
Amigos del Tibet, El Salvafor
Asociacion Cultural Peruano Tibetana
Casa Tibet Mexico
Centro De Cultura Tibetana
Grupo De Apoyo a Tibet Chile
Grupo Pro-Cultura Tibetana, Chile
Le Club Francais
Pensando En Tibet - Mexico
Tibet Group-Panama
Tíbet Patria Libre, Uruguay
Fundacion Pro Tibet
World League for Freedom and Democracy - Costa Rica Chapter

Bharrat Tibbat Sahyog Manch, India
Circle of Friends (Philippines)
Core Group for Tibetan Cause, India
Foundation for Universal Responsibility of H. H. the Dalai Lama
Friedrich-Naumann Foundation
Gu-Chu-Sum Movement of Tibet
Himalayan Committee for Action on Tibet
India Tibet Friendship Society
Japan Association of Monks for Tibet (Super Sangha)
Lung-Ta Project
Mahatma Gandhi Tibet Freedom Movement
National Campaign for Tibetan Support, India
National Democratic Party of Tibet
Raise Tibetan Flag Campaign
Roof of the World Foundation, Indonesia
SFT Japan
Students for a Free Tibet - Bangladesh
Taiwan Friends of Tibet
Taiwan Tibet Exchange Foundation
The Youth Liberation Front of Tibet, Mongolia and Turkestan
Tibet Lives, India
Tibet Solidarity Forum, Bangladesh
Tibet Support Group Kiku, Japan
Tibet Support Network Japan
Tibetan Student Association, Madras (TSAM)
Tibetan Parliamentary and Policy Research Centre
Tibetan Rights and Freedom Committee (TRFRC)
Tibetan Women's Association (Central)
Tibetan Youth Congress
Japan Committee of 100 for TIbet
Ns3 Rigpa Community Builder’s Foundation
Anterrashtriya Bharat - Tibbet Sahyog Samiti

A.C.T. Tibet Support Group
Australia Tibet Council
Australian Tibet House Inc.
Friends of Tibet New Zealand
Students for a Free Tibet New Zealand
Tibet Action Group of Western Australia
Tibet Support Group - Australia
Tibetan Community of Australia (Victoria)
Tibetan Women Association and Friends Australia
Sakya Trinley Ling
Australian Tibet House Inc.

Africa and Middle East
Friends of Tibet - Isamailia (Egypt)
Israeli Friends of the Tibetan People
South African Friends of Tibet
Tibet Support Group Kenya

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Citizen’s Reasons 3 : Human Rights in Cuba

by Generation Y

Razones ciudadanas 3 from Yoani Sanchez on Vimeo.

Chapter 3 of the program Citizen’s Reasons with the topic "Human rights in Cuba." Invited to the conversation Darsi Ferrer, Guillermo Fariñas, Elizardo Sánchez, Wilfredo Vallin and as moderator Reinaldo Escobar

Monday, April 18, 2011

Inter American Press Association Report on Cuba

April 6, 2011


The situation of the press over the past six months reflects the same precariousness and hopelessness of Cuban society itself: government media used as propaganda tools, iron-hand censorship, and disinformation; repressive actions against independent media which mix pressure, beatings, threats, and harassment by mobs; and operations by intelligence agencies to block and silence discordant voices.

At the time of this report, all of the journalists had been released from prison who were among the 75 people unfairly convicted in the so-called Black Spring in March, 2003. At that time, 75 people were jailed, including journalists, union organizers, and human rights activists, who were sentenced to terms of from three to thirty years. Some were confined for ten years, the majority for more than five. During this time they suffered a severe penal regimen, with punishments, beatings, insults, terrible food, overcrowding, and comingling with highly dangerous common criminals. All saw their health seriously affected. In addition to everything else, the prisons were located far from their homes and there were reprisals against their families.

This period is marked by two significant events: an uncertain process of economic reform, and the unusual release of political prisoners and journalists, while surveillance, control, and repressive activities continue through the use of frequent short-term detentions of a few days or hours.

The reforms, whose scope does not even approach those that were carried out in the old socialist areas in the 1970’s and 1980’s—have been characterized by their timidity, slowness, and in the words of the regimen itself “by an excessive bureaucracy.” Since they were announced in July, 2007, they have aimed to calm the anxiety of a population suffering from scarcities and drowned by a lack of freedom.

In December, 2010, President Raúl Castro admitted that the country was running the danger of submersion. The firing of a million workers—which had the ironic approval and collaboration of union officials and the unconditional support of the press—was silently shelved, perhaps due to the fact that it could worsen an already chaotic situation.

The release of prisoners, the result of mediation by the Catholic Church, and designed by the government, was supposed to improve the image of the regimen and secure foreign aid, primarily from the European Union. The departure of the prisoners was colored by an attempt to exaggerate political effects; those few who refused to go into exile with their families had to wait until the end. Release from prison meant being sent away from their homeland for the immense majority and the prisoners have not been given amnesty or pardon: they have been granted an “extrapenal license,” which leaves those who chose not to depart the island at risk of returning to prison at any time.

In January, the organization Human Rights Watch (HRW) in its annual report stressed that Cuba is the only country in Latin America where almost all forms of political expression are suppressed through harassment, beatings, and criminal accusations.

According to the Cuban Commission on Human Rights and National Reconciliation, in January 117 people were arrested, and 390 in February. In March, 32 incidents of police repression were reported, with a balance of 83 persons arrested who were released after a few hours or days. In addition, that month saw 12 acts of repudiation.

In the middle of March, the Inter American Commission on Human Rights (CIDH) in its 2010 report reiterated that in Cuba “restrictions of political rights, freedom of expression, the lack of elections and of an independent judicial system, as well as restrictions on freedom of movement, violate the basic rights of its citizens.”

In this context, it notes the private visit that former president Jimmy Carter made at the end of March. For the first time in many years, a former president met with dissidents, ex-political prisoners, bloggers, and independent journalists, including Yoani Sánchez, Claudia Cadelo, Laritza Diversent and Reinaldo Escobar.

Around one hundred independent journalists carry on their work, with a lack of materials and incessant repression. They have to go to foreign news agencies, broadcast outlets, and publications to get out their reports and commentaries. Some diplomatic missions in Havana offer them facilities to connect to the Internet and send their reports; such is the case of the Interests Section of the United States (SINA), the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom, among others.

Although the majority of those who started the movement at the end of the 1990’s have been forced into exile, others keep coming into it. For this reason, it is worth pointing out the example of some, just barely out of prison, who have returned to the activities that had sent them to jail in the first place.

Nevertheless, the existence of several dozen independent blogs now attracts the greatest amount of attention from the international press. The names Yoani Sánchez (Generación Y) and Claudia Cadelo (Octavo Cerco) are recognized around the world, but recently many other blogs have grown in relevance, attraction, and journalistic and literary quality. This seems to be an unstoppable movement.

In December, independent journalist Guillermo Fariñas was awarded the 2010 Sajarov Prize for Freedom of Conscience. Fariñas was not able to receive it in person because Cuban authorities would not allow him to leave the island, the usual reprisal against dissidents. Since then the journalist has been arrested on several occasions and the police and their mobs have never stopped harassing him.

On the occasion of the International Day of Women, Cuban blogger Yoani Sánchez, who has received a number of international distinctions, including the Ortega y Gasset Prize, received the “Women of Courage” prize from the Department of State of the United States, along with seven other women.

Cuban bloggers do all kinds of juggling acts to fool the censors and keep their blogs updated, wherein they present their chronicles and opinion pieces on the Cuban situation. Their pages are often blocked, the authors subject to surveillance, arrest, and beatings. In the blogosphere itself they have to face up to more than one hundred official blogs that benefit from unlimited resources and government support.

A video that circulated on the web two months ago shows that the regimen sees the appearance of new technologies as a danger to their monopoly on power. The video in question—a speech to top officials of the political police on the threats of the new media— offers recommendations to deal with the phenomenon, labels independent bloggers as “virtual mercenaries” and accuses the United States of “creating a technological platform beyond the control of Cuban authorities that would permit the free flow of information.”

Cables from the Department of State published recently by WikiLeaks, showing that Washington prefers to bet on the young bloggers rather than traditional dissidents, appear to confirm those fears. For the Cuban government, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube are the enemy.

At the end of February, revelations from two intelligence agents who had infiltrated the dissidents demonstrated once again the old tactics of disaccrediting opponents and independent journalists, those accused of being mercenaries of the United States. This served as a preamble to the trial that at the beginning of March the government mounted against the American contractor Allan Gross, accused of “acts against the integrity and independence” of the country. As is known, Gross was arrested in Havana in December, 2009 for distributing satellite equipment to a Jewish community, remaining in prison without formal charges for 15 months.

In March there were revelations from agents who had infiltrated the dissidents in a clear intention to discredit them and in some way justify the conviction that was finally imposed against Gross, of fifteen years in prison, for participating in an alleged “subversive project of the government of the United States.”

Since March 7, television has been showing a series centered on what it calls “cyberdissidence,” an offensive in which the newspaper Granma also participates. The characters that the series focuses on in this new campaign to discredit, a true media lynching, are Yoani Sánchez and Dagoberto Valdés, director of the magazine Convivencia, an independent publication with Christian inspiration, which makes strong criticism of the regime.

Both of them were shown chatting with workers at the Interests Section of the United States (recorded by state security agents) and the program insists on the large amount of money that they receive from abroad, either through “manipulated prizes” or “calculated donations.” As on so many other occasions, they bring up the phantom of USA and CIA interference to veil their purpose of putting a brake on any dissident activity through terror, and dissuade the interest of young people in new technologies. For this reason, they have also been able to discourage the initiatives of certain dioceses of the Catholic Church to foster the creation of independent blogs among young people.

The nature of the government press—really just a tool for propaganda and disinformation—could not appear more explicit as in the coverage given of the revolts in the Arab world. At moments in which in Libya there was witnessing an uprising against the dictatorship of Muammar Gaddafi, the official media deployed a panorama of just what the government press is: they insisted on the calm that reigned in Tripoli and on their support for the population. To judge from the first page of Granma, there were no massacres or desertions of government workers, nor revulsion by the rest of the world, nor were any cities taken by the rebels, anxious to achieve freedom.

The protests and challenges in other countries were distorted and served as opinion pieces to criticize the United States. The intervention of the allies in Libya was seen as acts of aggression by “imperialist powers.”

As background, the opinions (“reflections”) of Fidel Castro color the political environment, with apocalyptic predictions and admonishments against deviation and harangues against the United States.

The few criticisms that the media present—with greater or lesser emphasis, depending on the interest of the regime—deal with peripheral matters. There are no references to the lack of freedom, to violations of human rights, or the situation in the prisons, much less accusations against individuals or the government party.

The Cuban government wages a policy of the carrot and the stick against foreign correspondents accredited in Havana. If the correspondent becomes too raucous in his criticism, all sorts of problems are created for him until his presence in Havana turns into a torment, or else they denounce him in the official press to the point that he leaves the country. If, on the other hand, if he behaves nicely, they let him work and even facilitate contacts and interviews for him. This brings about permanent self-censorship and even reports with a touch of sympathy for the regime. .

The authorities at the International Press Center (CIP) have fine-tuned controls for the granting of visas for temporary coverage. This is the case of reporters for El Nuevo Herald, for whom they continue to deny visas to enter the island. Curiously, the Cuban Interests Section in Washington has expressed its interest in having the newspaper give greater coverage to Cuban baseball games.

Knowing that any spark could ignite an uprising, the regime carries out detentions of journalists and opponents for days or hours. The harassment by mobs, organized and protected by the police, and meetings of repudiation are intended to create an atmosphere of terror which prevents gatherings and demonstrations of discontent.

Under these circumstances, there is an attempt to prevent alternative channels of information from having access to the population. Unlike in Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain, and even Libya, which have authoritarian or openly dictatorial governments, in Cuba the common citizen cannot connect to the Internet and, therefore, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are unknown to him .

The undersea fiber optic cable that has just been installed between Cuba and Venezuela at a cost of 70 million dollars will mean greater access to the web, which on the island goes to only three per cent of the population. The government has said that there are other priorities before offering wide band access to private citizens.

At the beginning of 2011, the government made threats against manufacturers of clandestine satellite antennas and sellers of cards to capture television satellite signals. Granma justified the persecution of these activities as part of the “defense of the radio-electronic sovereignty” of the country. They continue conducting dragnets to locate the centers of signal distribution, dismantle the networks, and finally destroy the antennas and connections and fine the violators.

The hunger for information is immense. In addition to using traditional media, such as foreign radio and television broadcasts, Cubans create new ways to peek into the world outside. Those few privileged ones with access to the Internet and satellite antennas feed a parallel distribution network of news through diskettes and USB memory devices. Seldom has electronic piracy become such a national pastime and had such a great beneficial effect. For example, a publication like El Nuevo Herald, catalogued as “counterrevolutionary” now has notable acceptance on the island. The number of visitors to its web page has been growing in recent years and it has, on average, about 890,000 visits per year.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Appeal by H.H. the Dalai Lama - Regarding Kirti Monastery in Ngaba in northeastern Tibet

The current situation prevailing at Kirti Monastery in Ngaba in northeastern Tibet is extremely grim because of the stand-off between the Chinese military forces and the local Tibetans. The monastery, housing approximately 2,500 monks, is completely surrounded by Chinese armed forces, who at one point prevented vital food and other supplies from entering the monastic compound.

The local Tibetans fearing that this siege on Kirti Monastery is a prelude to large scale detention of the monks have surrounded the soldiers blockading the monastery and have filled the roads so as to prevent Chinese trucks and vehicles from either entering or leaving Kirti.

The local Chinese blockade of Kirti Monastery began on 16 March 2011, when a young Tibetan monk at the monastery tragically set himself on fire as a way of observing the third anniversary of the widespread peaceful protests that shook Tibet in 2008. Instead of putting out the flames, the police beat the young monk which was one of the causes of his tragic death. This act created huge resentment among the monks, which resulted in this massive blockade of Kirti Monastery.

I am very concerned that this situation if allowed to go on may become explosive with catastrophic consequences for the Tibetans in Ngaba.

In view of this I urge both the monks and the lay Tibetans of the area not to do anything that might be used as a pretext by the local authorities to massively crackdown on them.

I also strongly urge the international community, the governments around the world, and the international non-governmental organizations, to persuade the Chinese leadership to exercise restraint in handling this situation.

For the past six decades, using force as the principle means in dealing with the problems in Tibet has only deepened the grievances and resentment of the Tibetan people. I, therefore, appeal to the Chinese leadership to adopt a realistic approach and to address the genuine grievances of the Tibetans with courage and wisdom and to restrain from using force in handling this situation.

The Dalai Lama

April 15, 2011

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Cuban Regime's International Impact on Human Rights: Sri Lanka

Dime con quién andas y te diré quién eres”. ["Tell me with whom you walk, and I will tell you who you are."] - Spanish proverb

May 30, 2011 Update: Cuba opposed a reopening of the Sri Lanka case before the 17th Session of the UN Human Rights Council according to Navi Pillai, the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

When dealing with human rights and Cuba there is an obvious focus on the systematic human rights violations inside of Cuba that often leads to overlooking the impact of the regime in multinational and international institutions. In the past this blog has reported on some of the many countries the Castro regime has made an impact in: Angola, Argentina, Ethiopia and Venezuela now Sri Lanka is added to this list.

Back on May 28, 2009 the Cuban regime was one of 29 developing countries that backed a Sri Lankan-proposed resolution describing the conflict as a “domestic matter that doesn’t warrant outside interference”. The Cuban government's diplomats took the lead in blocking efforts to address the wholesale slaughter taking place in Sri Lanka. The Foreign Policy Association reported that:
As expected, Cuba’s seat on the United Nations Human Rights Council has already become an obstacle to the process of investigation and recognition of gross human rights offenses. Yesterday Cuba succeeded in blocking debate on abuses in Sri Lanka, which many countries have pushed for after the extreme violence that rocked the country earlier this month.
Amnesty International at the time said that “[t]he vote is extremely disappointing and is a low point for the Human Rights Council. It abandons hundreds of thousands of people in Sri Lanka to cynical political considerations.”

The consequences of that vote continued to be felt in 2010 and Amnesty International continued to campaign for victims of repression in Sri Lanka. On April 8, 2011 Amnesty International issued a call to the United Nations Secretary General (UNSG) Ban Ki-moon to make public the report prepared by a 'panel of experts' that is to be handed to the UNSG on April 13, 2011.

All of the above is proof of the wisdom of Martin Luther King Jr.'s observation written in 1963 from a Birmingham jail that:"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly."

Do your part to demand justice for the victims of systematic human rights violations in Sri Lanka and in doing so help undo some of the damage committed against the people of Sri Lanka by the Castro regime. Remind the world that justice anywhere is a threat to injustice everywhere because we are all "caught in an inescapable network of mutuality" for good or ill. Let it be for the good.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

KGB’s secret war against Martin Luther King Jr.

"Longevity has its place. But I'm not concerned about that now. I just want to do God's will. And He's allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I've looked over. And I've seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people will get to the promised land." - Martin Luther King Jr. April 3, 1968 Memphis, Tennessee

The world has been made well aware of the FBI’s wiretapping of Martin Luther King Jr. on the orders of then Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and monitoring of the Civil Rights Movement, but what was only learned decades later was that a campaign had been waged against Martin Luther King Jr. by the Soviet Intelligence agency known as the KGB.

In 1992 a high ranking Russian intelligence officer defected to the United Kingdom and brought with him notes and transcripts compiled over the previous thirty years as he moved entire foreign intelligence archives to a new headquarters just outside of Moscow.

The Russian intelligence officer’s name was Vasili Mitrokhin and the information he gathered became known as The Mitrokhin Archive.

In the groundbreaking book, The Sword and the The Shield: The Mitrokhin Archive and the Secret History of the KGB by Christopher Andrew and Vasili Mitrokhin published in 1999 details were obtained from The Mitrokhin Archive on Soviet efforts to replace Martin Luther King Jr. with a “more radical and malleable leader” such as Stokeley Carmichael to provoke a race war in the United States.

Pages 237 and 238 of The Sword and the Shield excerpted below detail elements of the campaign waged by Soviet intelligence and the active measures arrayed against the civil rights leader:
“In August 1967 the Centre approved an operational plan by the deputy head of Service A, Yuri Modin, former controller of the Magnificent Five, to discredit King and his chief lieutenants by placing articles in the African press, which could then be reprinted in American newspapers, portraying King as an “Uncle Tom” who was secretly receiving government subsidies to tame the civil rights movement and prevent it threatening the Johnson administration. While leading freedom marches under the admiring glare of worldwide television, King was allegedly in close touch with the President. 83 The same operational plan also contained a series of active measures designed to discredit US policy “on the negro.” The Centre authorized Modin:

  • To organize, through the use of KGB residency resources in the US, the publication and distribution of brochures, pamphlets, leaflets and appeals denouncing the policy of the Johnson administration on the Negro question and exposing the brutal terrorist methods being used by the government to suppress the Negro rights movement.
  • To arrange, via available agent resources, for leading figures in the legal profession to make public statements discrediting the policy of the Johnson administration on the Negro question.
  • To forge and distribute through illegal channels a document showing that the John Birch Society, in conjunction with the Minuteman organization, is developing a plan for the physical elimination of leading figures in the Negro movement in the US. 84
Service A sought to exploit the violent images of the long, hot summers which began in August 1965 which race riots in Watts, the black Los Angeles ghetto, which resulted in thirty-six deaths, left 1,0332 injured and caused damage estimated at over 40 million dollars. The Centre seems to have hoped that as violence intensified King would be swept aside by black radicals such as Stokeley Carmichael, who told a meeting of Third World revolutionaries in Cuba in the summer of 1967, “We have a common enemy. Our struggle is to overthrow this system . . . We are moving into open guerilla warfare in the United States.” Traveling on to North Vietnam, Carmichael declared in Hanoi, “We are not reformists…We are revolutionaries. We want to change the American system.”85

King’s assassination on April 4, 1968 was quickly followed by the violence and rioting which the KGB had earlier blamed King for trying to prevent. Within a week riots erupted in over a hundred cities, forty-six people had been killed, 3,500 injured and 20,000 arrested. To “Deke” DeLoach, it seemed that, “The nation was teetering on the brink of anarchy.”86 Henceforth, instead of dismissing King as an Uncle Tom, Service A portrayed him as a martyr of the black liberation movement and spread conspiracy theories alleging that his murder had been planned by white racists with the connivance of the authorities. 87

University of Cambridge professor Christopher Andrew, who coauthored The Sword and the Shield with Vasili Mitrokhin was interviewed by Charlie Rose on PBS on September 28, 1999 about the book and towards the end of the interview discussed how the Soviets celebrated when Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated by James Earl Ray. Other Soviet archives documented efforts by the Soviet Union to stimulate and activate the Black Panthers in their struggle against the United States government.

Vasili Mitrokhin died of pneumonia January 23, 2004 according to the British government.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Return to the Center's Lessons for Cuba

"You can't have human rights without God." - Otto von Habsburg

Just completed reading Otto von Habsburg's Return to the Center (Zurück zur Mitte) translated by Carvel de Bussy and published back in 1993. The past 18 years have only provided greater context to this extraordinary book that offers a reflection on Central and Eastern Europe's democratic transition; the implosion of the Soviet Union and the emergence of the European Union. This in itself is enough to recommend reading this book but there is much more to gain. This blog has a focus on Cuba which although obviously not in Europe is a product of Western civilization for good or ill. Even the current crisis and totalitarian regime that Cuba is suffering is a product of heresies that arose out of the heart of Europe in the nineteenth century. The nationalism born of the French Revolution combined with Communism, a creation of the fevered imagination of Karl Marx. Otto von Habsburg, a Christian statesman, is the antithesis of both and has much to offer anyone trying to sort out the present crisis in Cuba. Below are brief excerpts from this book and clips of Otto von Habsburg offering insights on the challenges faced by the West today.

"At Dumbarton Oaks in which there was just three countries represented: the United States, Great Britain and Russia. Russia’s representative at that time was Maxim Litvinov who was no longer foreign minister but he was still carrying on this matter. And it was when these three met at Dumbarton Oaks in Washington the firs thing Litvinov read was that for Russia - For Stalin there was an absolute base condition: In the past you always had a reference as to the Supreme Power or to God or to something like that and that he wanted to make all those ghosts of the past disappear and put man at the place of God into the treaties. That was when for the first time Russia demanded that there shouldn’t be any mention of any supreme being. Although it was in my opinion it was absolutely erroneous also for the very simple reason: you can’t have human rights without God without a last authority because to submit it to the sort of changing majorities is no ultimate authority and consequently it makes no possibility of putting something which is the point of reference.” - Otto von Habsburg, World Security Network 2007

"When the Goddess of Reason was placed on the altar two hundred years ago during the French Revolution and when it was announced that God was dead or had never lived, there began the greatest crisis humanity had suffered up to then. This led in the twentieth century to the erection of the concentration camps of National Socialism and the Communist gulags. - Otto von Habsburg, Return to the Center pg. 217

"However , one could not imagine until the Wall came down and it was possible to travel through the former East Bloc without difficulty, the extent to which the socialist system had destroyed not only individual lives, but also those of the least political persons. It was truly the Evil Empire. The worst was that the people were spiritually crushed. Some of the finest lived in psychiatric clinics or in prisons and work camps in a concentration camp atmosphere. But the individual was robbed of any initiative or joy of living also in the schools, the universities, the Army and in professional life." Otto von Habsburg, Return to the Center pg. 113-114 "The degree of sensitivity with which certain circles react to the word totalitarianism is striking. They repeatedly refuse to use it for Communism or the allegedly new shapes it is assuming." - Otto von Habsburg, Return to the Center pg. 176

"Certain people often seem to feel more sympathy for the overthrown dictators than for those who bled under their terrorism." - Otto von Habsburg, Return to the Center pg. 114

"In most countries nowadays arrested terrorists who allege an ideological reason for their acts of violence are considered to be political prisoners and enjoy certain privileges which are not given to normal criminals. This is especially manifest in areas of Europe which are most at risk, the Basque country and Northern Ireland. The penalties for mass murder are more than mild as in Spain, for example there is no longer even life imprisonment." - Otto von Habsburg, Return to the Center pg. 179

"The patriot loves his country and respects other nations; the nationalist idolizes his people and looks down on others. Man cannot live without religion. If he renounces God and His moral order, he automatically turns to false idols that fill the empty place of the Almighty. The Nation was such a demon in the thought-world of the nationalists. Figuratively speaking, it was the "Superman" over and above Good and Evil." - Otto von Habsburg, Return to the Center pg. 220

"Trees with roots in evil do not grow to Heaven. Let us not forget: there was a period of delusion when even a British Liberal like Lloyd George congratulated the Germans on having a "great Fuhrer." After his defeat, the time had come at least in the West for a free Europe. There were admirers of Stalin who simply refused to see what was going on in the Soviet Union. And in 1989 we experienced the "Gentle Revolution" in the east of Central Europe. The evil is loud and the good is soft. The sound of Hell is shrill, whereas the angels whisper. And in spite of this, the positive forces finally win out. - Otto von Habsburg, Return to the Center pg. 223

"The right to a homeland does not expire in one generation. The Jews have proven this. They remained true to the Zionist ideal for two thousand years. On every Long Day they greeted each other in the small synagogues of Central and Eastern Europe with the phrase: "Next year in Jerusalem." How unrealistic that must have sounded at that time! Still because Israel was not prepared to dismiss its homeland from its heart, Jerusalem's day has come after millennia." - Otto von Habsburg, Return to the Center pg. 224

"We believe as Christians that man is the image of God and not only an accumulation of cells. He has rights that were not given him by any race, class or collective group and which they likewise cannot take away from him. The dignity of man is of divine origin and thereby stands above the power of the state." - Otto von Habsburg, Return to the Center pg. 214

Sunday, April 3, 2011

A Season for Nonviolence

Mohandas Gandhi was assassinated on January 30, 1948 in India and Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated twenty years later on April 4, 1968 in Memphis Tennessee. Fifty years after the murder of his grandfather, Arun Manilal Gandhi established a Season for Nonviolence in 1998 to celebrate the philosophies and lives of Mohandas Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr.

The season begins on January 30, the day Gandhi was killed and concludes on April 4 the day King was killed. According the M.K. Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence:
The Season, launched at the United Nations in 1998, marks the sixty-four (64) calendar days between the memorial anniversaries of the assassination of Mohandas K. Gandhi on January 30 and that of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on April 4. It is a time to reflect upon the nonviolent practices of these two great leaders and to pay homage by actively demonstrating the effectiveness of nonviolence.
First in 1998 and ten years later in 2008 the Free Cuba Foundation, a student organization at Florida International University, observed the start of the Season for Nonviolence with the Gandhi, King, and Marti: Brothers in Thought Conference bringing a Cuban focus to nonviolence.

Now in 2011 the revisionist are at work offering alternative appraisals of both Mohandas Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. generating debate and dialogue. At the same time the Season of Nonviolence continues to offer insights into the nature of nonviolent resistance and struggle. At the University of Rochester Nontombi "Naomi" Tutu, the daughter of Desmond Tutu, who grew up in the midst of the racist apartheid regime in South Africa gave the lecture “Our Shared Humanity: Creating Understanding Through the Principles of Martin Luther King Jr.,” and offered some keen insights on nonviolence such as:
  • "The lessons of Gandhi and King are that for true liberty and liberation, we have to be those who hold up the humanity of all.”
  • “We can’t dehumanize others without dehumanizing ourselves."
  • “We were going to be a family who did pray for those who oppressed us.”
The past few months have demonstrated both the power of nonviolence to overcome brutal dictators and the ineffectiveness of violent resistance in the face of violence, yet for some reason individuals are still tempted to embrace violence even when strategic non-violent resistance is working. This has been the case in both Libya and now in the Ivory Coast.

Watch the full episode. See more Need To Know.

Beyond cold reason and calculation based on observation and study over the past century that proves the superiority of nonviolence over violence in the course of conflicts it is apparent that more is required to convince others of its worth.

An understanding of both empathy and compassion can provide activists with the insight to carry out and maintain a nonviolent struggle against injustice. On Saturday April 2, 2011 the Dalai Lama reflected on the relationship between compassion and nonviolence:"Non-violence is an act of compassion. Genuine sense of concern, others' well-being, no matter how difficult are the circumstances, you treat them as human brother, sisters and realize they also have a right to overcome suffering."

A sociopath lacks empathy and an example of one historically in political power would be Adolph Hitler. His antithesis would be someone with great empathy. Empathy is the ability to feel what someone else is going through and compassion is taking action to make it better. With empathy you can feel someone else's pain while someone with compassion will take action to rectify the situation combating an evil. The Dali Lama's observation that nonviolence is an act of compassion is profoundly true because nonviolent resistance to evil doesn't harm others and in fact heals even perpetrators of evil.

Martin Luther King Jr. said of it: "Nonviolence is a powerful and just weapon. It is a weapon unique in history, which cuts without wounding and ennobles the man who wields it. It is a sword that heals."