August 11, 2008
- Campaign to End Rafah Crossing Blockade
- A Look at the West’s Response to the Russia-Georgia Conflict
- New Fund Aimed at Helping Workers Caught in ICE Raids Post Bond
- West Coast Climate Convergence Kicks Off
- Remembering Mahmoud Darwish
Russia Pushes into Georgian Territory, But Disputes Extent of Invasion
The Georgian government says that Russian troops have taken the central Georgian city of Gori, and with it, the country’s main east-west highway. Moscow denies this. The strategic city of Gori lies roughly 60 miles from Tbilisi, the Georgian capital. The Russian Army advanced across two of Georgia’s breakaway states over the weekend. The Russian government has requested an emergency meeting with NATO powers tomorrow in Brussels. We’ll have more on this story after the headlines.
Indian Police Open Fire on Caravan of Kashmiri Fruit Vendors, Killing Separatist Leader
Police in Indian-administered Kashmir have killed at least five people after opening fire on a caravan of thousands of people, including fruit growers and separatists who were attempting to take their goods across the Line of Control into Pakistan-administered Kashmir. Shahnawaz Khan has more from Srinagar.
Senior Kashmiri separatist leader, Sheik Abdul Aziz, is among the five confirmed dead. Injuries are reportedly in the hundreds. The actual death toll is feared to be higher, but police have prevented media from traveling to the northern district to confirm the number of casualties. Kashmiri fruit growers and separatists had called for a march to Muzaffarabad, across Kashmir’s de facto border, in response to an economic blockade of the Kashmir Valley enforced by Hindu groups in Jammu province. The Hindu groups are angry over a government decision to revoke a controversial transfer of forest land to a Hindu Shrine after protests by Kashmiri Muslims. Blockade participants have attacked trucks traveling along the highway to and from Kashmir for the past two weeks. After some Kashmiri fruit growers suffered attacks at the bloackades while attempting to deliver their goods to Delhi, others decided to sell their harvests to Kashmiris living on the other side of the Line of Control. The road connecting the cities of Srinagar and Muzaffarabad has been closed since Kashmir was divided between India and Pakistan in 1947. The opening of the trade route is the subject of ongoing talks between Delhi and Islamabad. For FSRN, I’m Shahnawaz Khan in Srinagar.
Former Thai Prime Minister Seeks Asylum in the UK
Former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra and his wife have fled to the UK in the face of what they call politically motivated charges. Claudia Cragg has more.
The couple turned up in London today, requesting political asylum and claiming death threats. The Thai Supreme Court reacted by issuing arrest warrants. Telecom billionaire Thaksin Shinawatra had been a leading opposition figure when he was elected Prime Minister in 2001. He was ousted by a bloodless military coup in 2006. The military-backed government then moved to charge the deposed PM and his wife, Potjaman with financial fraud and corruption charges. The couple returned to Bangkok after February’s Thai election brought victory for the pro-Thaksin ‘People Power Party’ and installed ally Samak Sundaravej as PM. Thaksin said he was hoping “to prove his innocence” in court. However, the Thai judiciary’s success in convicting his wife led some to believe that Thaksin himself would be found guilty next month. The couple flew to London from Beijing, where they had attended the Olympics’ opening ceremony. In a written statement released today, the former PM says he has no plans to return to Thailand. For FSRN, I’m Claudia Cragg.
Bolivian President Survives Recall Referendum by Large Margin
Bolivian president Evo Morales has won a contentious recall referendum by a 63 percent margin. Morales, a former coca farmer and Bolivia’s first indigenous president, agreed to the referendum in an effort to unblock an impasse with a right wing movement resistant to his largely reformist policies. His margin of victory in the referendum has given Morales a mandate to advance his efforts to exert greater control over the country’s natural resources and redistribute large private landholdings to landless peasants.
Riot in Montreal After Police Fatally Shoot Youth in Volatile Neighborhood
Anger is brewing in the streets of Canada’s second largest city, after a Montreal police officer shot and killed a teenager on Saturday night. FSRN’s Aaron Lakoff has more.
The streets of St-Michel, a predominantly Haitian area of Montreal, are often the scene of tense confrontations between local youth and police, and those tensions boiled over this past weekend. Eighteen year-old Freddy Alberto Villanueva was shot dead by police in a neighborhood park on Saturday night. Two other youths, aged 18 and 20, were injured by police gunfire in the same incident. Montreal Police say two of their officers opened fire after they were rushed by a group of around 20 youths. Rioting broke out Sunday night near the scene of the police killing, as propane tanks and cars were set on fire, and many more people were arrested at gunpoint. Francois du Canal of the Collective Opposed to Police Brutality comments on the riots: [clip] “It’s good to see that kind of reaction because these kind of police killings happen a lot – as we’ve seen in the last 20 years, there’s been about 2 per year. But if there’s no public reaction, then the case will be forgotten and fall out of the news and nobody’s gonna think about it anymore.” Freddy Villanueva has become Montreal’s first police fatality of 2008. Another youth was killed in the same neighborhood by police in October of last year, but the results of the internal investigation into that incident have not been made public. For FSRN, this is Aaron Lakoff reporting from Montreal.
Cindy Sheehan Secures a Spot on the California Ballot to Challenge Nancy Pelosi
Anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan has secured a place on the ballot for her congressional race against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Supporters of the “Peace Mom” were able to beat a Friday deadline to collect far more than the 10,000 signatures needed to qualify as an independent candidate. Cindy Sheehan vowed to run against Pelosi after the House Speaker refused to support congressional efforts to impeach the president.
Campaign to End Rafah Crossing Blockade
Gaza’s ruling Hamas party held a rally Sunday at the Rafah crossing
terminal in the region’s south, demanding the terminal be reopened.
Meanwhile, preparations are underway in Gaza to welcome the Free Gaza
boat, a ship filled with aids workers and human rights observers who
say they’re challenging Israel’s occupation of Gaza. FSRN’s Rami
Almeghari has more.
A Look at the West’s Response to the Russia-Georgia Conflict
Russia has expanded its military attacks in Georgia – and is ignoring
Georgia’s call for a ceasefire. The conflict, which began in South
Ossetia last Friday, has now spread to another separatist region. As
the war expands, western countries are cautiously criticizing Russia
for what they call ‘disproportionate force’. FSRN’s Leigh Ann Caldwell
New Fund Aimed at Helping Workers Caught in ICE Raids Post Bond
A new fund is being established to help workers caught up in ICE raids
post bond. Posting bond greatly increases the chance for a fair trial,
by giving the detained the chance to see a lawyer and seek out legal
options. The National Immigrant Bond Fund has raised $200,000 to assist
with bonds, but some say as the raids increase so will the amount of
money needed to provide legal protection for those caught up by ICE.
FSRN’s Karen Miller reports.
West Coast Climate Convergence Kicks Off
Environmental activists from all over the world are coming together at
Convergences for Climate Action this summer. These direct action
events, taking place in Europe, Australia and North America, feature
workshops and trainings on energy policy and social justice issues. The
West Coast Climate Convergence opened the summer series last week on an
organic farm outside the small town of Coburg, Oregon. As FSRN’s Jes
Burns reports, one of most prominent issues at the Convergence was
three Liquefied Natural Gas terminals proposed in the state.
Remembering Mahmoud Darwish
Internationally acclaimed Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish died Sunday
after complications from heart surgery. Considered one of the greatest
contemporary Arab poets, Darwish’s work was regarded as the
quintessential voice of Palestinian exile – and his death has come as a
shock to Palestinians in the occupied territories and abroad. Today, we
hear from Darwish himself, reading “In Jerusalem”, voiceover by Saed
Bannoura, music by Marcel Khalife.