June 5, 2009

  • Low turnout expected in European Parliament elections
  • Indian students protest “racist” attacks in Australia
  • Muslim nations react to President Obama´s Cairo speech
  • GAO says US food aid could hurt hungry people abroad
  • Native American tribes in VA and NC encouraged by federal recognition bill

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Dozens killed in clash between police and indigenous in Peru
In the Peruvian town of Bagua, clashes between indigenous protesters and police have left nearly 30 dead – and that number continues to rise.  From Peru, Pamela Cueva has the details.

The confrontation began early in the morning, and by afternoon nearly twenty indigenous people and nine police officers were dead, according to a hospital in Bagua.  The Amazon indigenous people initially blocked a main road to protest a law that would allow the government to sell Amazonian lands to private corporations. On the ground, things were tense, according to indigenous leader Zevelio Kayap.

“There are shots, I´m not lying!  I’m not lying!  You can hear shots being fired right now, because the police are using bullets.  We have not come here with arms, but we are willing to face the police, to shed our blood in defense of the Amazon and in defense of our rights as indigenous peoples.”

The indigenous people have being on strike for the last two months, and are planning further mobilizations next week. Pamela Cueva and Alfredo Cuadros. FSRN. Lima.

Protester killed in weekly West Bank protest of security wall
International protests of Israeli security walls in the West Bank have turned violent once again.  FSRN’s Ghassan Bannoura reports.

The Israeli army killed a 36-year old Palestinian man and critically wounded a 15 year old.  This came during the weekly non-violent demonstration against the Israeli wall and settlements in the central West Band village of Nil’in.  Three other protesters sustained moderate wounds. In addition, five protesters were injured and dozens suffered from tear gas inhalation in a similar protest in the nearby village of Bil’in.  Participants in both protests welcomed the speech by U.S President Barak Obama in Cairo, as bearing a new rhetoric towards the peace process. But protesters want the rhetoric backed up by genuine pressure on Israel to accept peace based on UN resolutions.  Ghassan Bannoura, FSRN, Bethlehem.

Canadian court orders the return of Abousfian Abdelrazik
In a follow up to a story FSRN has been covering, Abousfian Abdelrazik, a Sudanese born Canadian citizen, has been unable to get home for 6 years – until now. Amy Miller has more from Montreal.

The Canadian government barred Abousfian Abdelrazik from returning home under vague claims of threats to national security.  But Abdelrazik received good news from A Canadian Court, which ordered the government to issue him an emergency passport.  Lisa Stepnuk an organizer with Abdelrazik’s support committee ‘Project Fly Home,’ spoke with FSRN:

“They are forced to make the travel arrangements in the next 15 days and they are forced to bring him home in the next 30 days. Now we have a ticket booked for the 12th, and Abousfian already has this ticket in hand, and so we are hoping the government will use this, as it is the easiest way to get him home quickly and safely.”

While the return of Abdelrazik is being hailed as a victory, questions about whether he was tortured while in Sudan – and the involvement of the Canadian governments spy agency in denying his return – remain unanswered. Amy Miller, FSRN, Montreal, Canada

Holder announces new plan to battle Mexican drug cartels
The recent drug cartel wars in Mexican border towns have precipitated targeted violence and large death tolls. And there’s concern that violence will further spill into US towns. As FSRN’s Nick Layman reports from New Mexico, President Barack Obama’s administration announced a new initiative to prevent the drug cartel wars from crossing the border.

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and National Drug Control Policy director Gil Kerlikowske launched President Obama’s National Southwest Border Counter Narcotics Strategy in Albuquerque. The strategy is designed to reduce drug trafficking, along with weapons and cash flow across the US/Mexico border. Attorney General Eric Holder says the US will work with Mexican governments and is confident both nations will make progress.

“President Calderon has taken unprecedented steps to fight the cartels in his country. His administration is showing in its actions that they are committed to matched and enhanced our efforts.”

The US will offer military-style training to Mexican and Central American authorities using US Department of Defense equipment. The director of national drug control policy will oversee the implementation of the strategy.  Nick Layman. FSRN. Albuquerque.

BART officer ordered to stand trial for murder of Oakland youth
A California judge has ruled that A former BART police officer must stand trial for murder in the shooting death of Oscar Grant.  The controversial incident was captured on video, prompting widespread protests in Oakland.  FSRN’s Africa Jones has more.

Oscar Grant died after he was shot in the back by Johannes Mehserle on New Year’s Day. Attorneys for Mehserle claimed that he intended to shock Grant with a stun gun. But the judge in the case said, “There is no doubt in my mind that Mr. Mehserle intended to shoot Oscar Grant with a gun and not a Taser.” John Burris, the attorney for Grant’s family, said the ruling sends a positive message to the community.

“It was very important so that this community can have a sense that this African American young man did not die in such a way that there’s no acknowledgement by the judicial system that something was wrong, and that something occurred that should not have occurred. And frankly, he should not be dead.”

The decision comes after 9 days of dramatic testimony, much of which outraged Grant’s family. Johannes Mehserle, who is out on 3 million dollars bail, will be arraigned June 18th. Africa Jones, FSRN.



Low turnout expected in European Parliament elections
Europeans are going to the polls this week to elect 736 representatives to the European Parliament. Voters in the UK went to the polls yesterday, to vote for their 72 European MPs.But there seems to be a general lack of interest in the supranational parliament.Pollsters are predicting low turnout rates throughout the continent and small parties are poised to make gains. From London, Naomi Fowler reports.

Indian students protest “racist” attacks in Australia
For years, Australia has been a preferred destination for many Indian students aspiring to study abroad. But after a series of violent attacks security concerns are now forcing many students to rethink their plans.The latest victim of is a 25-year old student who is in a critical condition, after being stabbed with a screwdriver by a gang of people at a birthday party. Six more attacks against Indian students, occurred in the last week alone sparking protests and accusations of racism from both the students and parents. FSRN’s Bismillah Geelani has the story

Muslim nations react to President Obama´s Cairo speech
Pakistan´s army says it has arrested six senior aides of radical cleric Sufi Muhhamad, whose son in law commands Taliban forces in the Swat valley. This follows a suicide bombing during Friday prayers at a mosque in the Upper Dir district which killed dozens.

Dir is the hometown of Islamic leader, Maulana Sufi, who brokered a ceasefire in the neighboring Swat valley between Pakistan´s army and the Taliban.  But intense fighting began shortly after, when the pact fell apart. Since then an estimated 3 million have fled the violence and left their homes and are now living in camps for internally displaced people.Under these circumstances many in Pakistan – and in the region – listened to President Barack Obama´s speech in Cairo.

GAO says US food aid could hurt hungry people abroad
U-S food aid to other countries often does more to benefit U-S agribusiness than hungry people abroad. That’s what a new report by the Government Accountability Office says.   Experts say food shipments can actually decrease food security.  Tanya Snyder reports.

Native American tribes in VA and NC encouraged by federal recognition bill
Six American Indian tribes in Virginia and one in North Carolina could soon be granted federal recognition status., thanks to a bill that moved through the house this week. After years of struggle, tribe members are optimistic that they may finally achieve recognition at the national level. Sam Greenspan reports.


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