UN Investigator for Human Rights Breaks Down this Horrific Israel Attack-Says They Violated International Law

Our good friends and station mates at Flashpoints are seriously on the case with the coverage of this horrific attack by Israel.. We will have more material including the interviews we did with Invincible and spoke word artist Remy in the meantime spread the word and watch the creative spins corporate backed media puts on this whole thing…

Leading UN Investigator for Human Rights in Occupied Palestine Says Israeli Commando Raid was “as clear a violation of international humanitarian law… as we are likely to see in the early part of the 21st Century.”

By Dennis Bernstein and Jesse Strauss

original source: http://www.flashpoints.net/?p=969#more-969

Here’s the link to this important radio interview..

http://kpfa.org/archive/id/61469

Professor Richard Falk

In a pre-dawn raid on Monday, in international waters, off the coast of the Occupied Gaza Strip, Israeli commandos seized the six boat fleet of the Free Gaza Movement, which was carrying 10,000 tons of humanitarian aid in another attempt to break the punishing Israeli embargo against Gaza. According to the Israeli military, ten people were killed in the assault and several dozen wounded. There is as of yet no independent confirmation of these numbers nor of the identities of those killed or injured, because Israel has seized the six ships and detained all of their 700 passengers who come from 30 different countries, and has kept the detainees from any contact with the outside world.

In an interview with Pacifica Radio’s Flashpoints show, late Monday, Professor Richard Falk, UN Special Rapporteur for the Occupied Palestinian Territories stated that the Israeli commando raid against the humanitarian fleet of unarmed ships was “as clear a violation of international humanitarian law, international law of the seas, and international criminal law, as we’re likely to see in the early part of the twenty-first century”.

What follows is the complete interview with Professor Richard Falk, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Palestinian territories,

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Dennis Bernstein: We are now joined by Professor Richard Falk. Richard  Falk is a distinguished attorney and Special Rapporteur on Occuppied Palestinian Territories for the United Nations Human Rights Council. He is the highest UN official dealing with human rights violations in the occupied territories, that is, occupied Palestine. Professor Falk, we appreciate you coming back and being with us on Flashpoints.

Richard Falk: I’m glad to be back here again.

DB: I wish it was under more pleasant circumstances. We don’t have a lot of detail, but Israel itself is clearly admitting they carried out this raid. We’ve seen pictures. They are saying that there are at least ten people dead. We don’t have any information because Israel is controlling the entire flow of information. Based on what you know and what you’ve seen, what can we say about what happened here in terms of human rights violations and international law?

RF: I think the fundamental reality is fairly clear at this point, namely that these were ships that were carrying humanitarian supplies for blockaded Gaza, that the passengers were unarmed and were situated at the time of the Israeli attacks on the high seas, that these attacks, therefore, were unlawful and by most interpretations would be regarded as criminal. The statement of the Turkish Prime Minister, that the attacks constituted state terrorism, seem to me at least to correspond with the tragic reality that we’ve been witnessing over the past twenty-four hours.

DB: The Israelis say that these commandos who they say were armed with hand guns and paint guns were only defending themselves from armed and dangerous attacks by people on the boat. Your response to that?

RF: There are two lines of response, and this is an area where the facts are contested and difficult to disentangle at this stage. The witnesses on the boats themselves, particularly the Turkish boats where most of the violence took place, claim that the commandos landed shooting, and that it was only after the initiation of that violence that there was some attempt at defense on the basis of very contrived and primitive weapons, as opposed to the kind of weaponry that the Israeli commandos were carrying. Beyond that, it’s fairly clear if unlawful attack of a vessel on the high seas isoccurring, the passengers on that ship have some sort of right to self defense. So that’s one aspect of it. The second aspect is that even if there was some kind of defensive violence on the ship, that’s no excuse for an unprovoked attack carried out in this manner. If Israel didn’t want the ships to go to Gaza, they could have diverted them, and if they did what the other boats did in the Freedom Flotilla, except for the larger Turkish one, it seems pretty clear that this was a deliberate attack designed, I suppose, to punish the effort to carry out this humanitarian mission, which would obviously have disclosed the brutality of the blockade of the Gaza Strip, which has gone on now for almost three years. The Israeli arguments are not really seriously plausible. Given the overall circumstances it’s very difficult to give them any kind of serious credibility, and this seems to me to be as clear a violation of international humanitarian law, international law of the seas, and international criminal law, as we’re likely to see in the early part of the twenty-first century.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HtYnZBKSFgM

DB: Because there are many people from many countries represented on these boats, there are many diplomats from these countries trying to find out what happened. They are not being told anything by the Israelis, they are not being allowed access to their citizens. Is this also some kind of violation of international law? Do these countries have the right, at least, to ascertain the condition of their citizens?

RF: It certainly is a practice that under normal conditions such access would be granted, and here one is dealing with individuals who were part of an international humanitarian mission; the countries involved were at peace with Israel; Israel was maintaining a criminal blockade of the Gaza Strip; and so the political and moral equity strongly would support access. There’s no reasonable basis, however one understands Israel’s motives or situation, for denying access or generating more anxiety than is necessary on the part of the families of these people by shutting them off from any kind of communication. I suspect that Israel’s tactics are designed to prevent testimony by those that experience these attacks, which would presumably deepen the awareness of the world’s public as well as the governments of what in fact did happen.

DB: In terms of the responsibility, you are the UN Special Rapporteur  for the Palestinian territories. What is your responsibility now? What is the United Nations responsibility? What should happen in terms of an investigation?

RF: My responsibility is to report to the Human Rights Council and the UN General Assembly on the Israeli violations of the human rights of the occupied Palestinian people. This incident is sort of at the edge of my responsibility because it didn’t occur within the occupied territories, but it so directly affects the people within that I treat it as part of my responsibilities. In my judgment, the Security Council, if one takes the UN Charter seriously and avoids double standards, should really do three things: One, it should condemn the attack as a violation of international law; secondly, it should demand a listing immediately of the blockade, of the people of the Gaza Strip, allowing food, medicine, reconstruction materials and fuel to enter freely; and thirdly it should refer the allegations of criminality associated with the attack to the International Criminal Court for investigation and action. Given the geopolitics that exist within the Security Council, it is highly unlikely that this appropriate course of action will actually be followed. Technically the General Assembly could try and do these kinds of things if the Security Council fails to act, and it remains to be seen whether there’s the political will in the General Assembly to do this. If the UN is stymied in this way, it does shift the responsibility and, in a way, the opportunity to civil society to augment the ongoing Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign, that in any event has been gaining momentum, and presumably this latest incident will create a great deal more strength for that campaign, which has been so effective in opposing the Apartheid regime in South Africa in the early 1990s and late 1980s.

DB: Is there any kind of special protection for the people who risked their lives—and now we see that they really did risk their lives—going into a situation where the world knows that there are terrible things happening, that people are being treated in terrible ways, that they are dying because of that treatment, and because they are being warred against and having bombs dropped on them where they cannot even flee. Is there some sort of role for legal action within the constraints of international law?

Professor Richard Falk

RF: Yes, there is, as you very well expressed. There is a great opportunity to provide protection to people who are courageous and morally motivated, and at the same time are vulnerable to this kind of violence and brutal treatment, but the political will is lacking at the governmental level and at the international institutional level to provide that kind of protection. One has the norms, has the responsibility to protect concept which has been endorsed by the Security Council and has the support of international lawyers, but it can’t be implemented without the requisite political will, and that’s what’s missing. Of course our government is the lynch-pin of what makes effective or futile international initiatives of this sort. If we had indicated a firm desire to establish some kind of protective capability for missions of this sort, individuals like this would be protected. I thought that however little Israel respects international law, they wouldn’t do something as crudely violent and alienating as what they did do with these commando attacks on the freedom flotilla. It was not in my political imagination that they would seek by such means to prevent the delivery of these humanitarian necessities that pose no security threat whatsoever to Israel—it only posed a public relations threat in the sense that it would have revealed the inability of governments to break the blockade and place pressure on them to do something in the future, and at the same time would have added to the willingness of activists around the world to push harder against the Israeli occupation policy so that what was at stake from Israel’s point of view was the delegitimation of their policies, and they apparently, and I think wrongly, calculated that they would lose less from this kind of violent disruption of this humanitarian mission that it would have by allowing it to quietly deliver the humanitarian materials that the ships were carrying.

DB: They certainly could have surprised a lot of people and gained a lot of supporters if they had shifted their policy and let the aid arrive. A final question, as I know you need to leave us: Just before you got on the air we spoke with Shakeed Saed, he’s the Executive Director of the Islamic Shura Council in Southern California, there’s a thousand people gathering in front of the Israeli consulate in LA and there are protests around the world; but he was saying that it’s not only a spiritual thing, but a legal matter because the United States is supplying a good deal of the equipment that Israel uses and that these commandos may have been using. Does that make the US responsible?

RF: We are certainly morally and politically implicit and responsible in these kinds of Israeli tactics and undertakings. Whether we are legally responsible is a trickier question. There are American laws that forbid the equipment that we do provide from being used except in defensive roles. We’ve never taken that legislative restriction seriously in the context of Israel, but it is a definite legal concern, and it could be pursued by those that were eager to test the degree of legal responsibility that the United States government possesses. I personally believe such a test would be beneficial for the American people because it would allow the public to express more of its changing view of the conflict, and send a message to Washington that it has yet to hear that the American people would rather see our government pursue a genuinely balanced law-oriented approach to the conflict than this unconditional partisanship with the kind of criminal tactics that Israel has just employed against the Freedom Flotilla.

DB: Professor Richard Falk, I want to thank you very much for joining us. You are the Special Rapporteur  on the Palestinian territories for the United Nations Human Rights Council, and we thank you for taking the time out of your schedule to speak with us.

RF: It’s been very good to speak with you.

DB: Thank you.

Dennis Bernstein and Jesse Strauss produced this interview for Flashpoints on the Pacifica network, which was broadcast across the US on Monday, May 31st from the KPFA studio in Berkeley, California. You can access the audio archive of that entire show on their website, http://www.flashpoints.net. From our website you can sign up to the Flashpoints mailing list, and also follow Flashpoints on twitter at twitter.com/FlashpointsNews.

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M-1 of Dead Prez launches from the Ghetto to Gaza Speaking Tour

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P.O.C.C ,Block Report Radio &Hip Hop Congress Present: Ghetto to Gaza in Northern California (Oakland, S.F, San Jose, Santa Cruz, Sacramento, Sonoma Ct)

M1 of dead prez speaking about his Travels to Gaza in support of those at War and in an intense struggle for basic human needs. Also J.R Minister of Information w members of P.O.C.C , Richard Brown of the SF 8, Nadra Foster from KPFA, DLabrie, and more!!

Please Come Out and Repost This!!!

Support S.F BayView

M1, of the prolific rap group dead prez, will be on a speaking tour called “From the Ghetto to Gaza” through northern Cali from September 23-29.

Sacramento, Wednesday, Sept. 23, 9 p.m., Capitol Garage, 1500 K St.

East Oakland, Thursday, Sept. 24, 7:30 p.m., Wose Community Center, 8924 Holly St. – Minister of Information JR will interview M1

San Francisco, Friday, Sept. 26, 7 p.m., POOR Magazine, Redstone Building, 2940 16th St. at Mission, Second Floor Theater – Richard Brown of the San Francisco 8 will interview M1
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West Oakland, Saturday, Sept. 26, 6 p.m., Black Dot Cafe, 1195 Pine St. – Nadra Foster, the 12-year volunteer KPFA broadcaster who was beaten by police inside the station, will interview M1

San Jose, Sunday, Sept. 27, 6 p.m., DeBug Magazine, 701 Lenzen Ave. – Bay View Arts Editor Wanda Sabir will interview M1

Santa Cruz, Monday, Sept. 28, 7 p.m., Barrios Unidos, 1817 Soquel Ave.

Sonoma, Tuesday, Sept. 29, 7:30 p.m., Multi-Purpose Room, Student Union Building, Sonoma State University

The Minister of Information JR
POCC Block Report Radio
http://www.blockreportradio.com

M1-Gaza-0909-webWelcome M-1 of dead prez to the Bay Area – East and West Oakland, San Francisco, Sonoma, San Jose, Santa Cruz – for six days of sharing his recent experiences in Gaza, Cairo and Europe and comparing them with ghetto life in the U.S. – six events Sept. 24-29 benefiting the SF Bay View and Block Report Radio. Get ready for some explosive revelations! Get a foretaste with 24 hours in Gazaby M-1. And listen to Khalil Bendib’s interview with M-1 this evening,  on KPFA 94.1FM – hear it in the archives at http://www.kpfa.org/archive/show/47 .

24 hours in Gaza

by Mutulu Olugbala, aka M-1 of dead prez

http://www.sfbayview.com/2009/24-hours-in-gaza/

M-1 of dead prez reports back from his trip to Gaza

M-1 of dead prez reports back from his trip to Gaza

You may have heard me say, “I work for the people; the streets are my office.” Well, my recent mission to Palestine was a testament to that statement. Through the Existence is Resistance organization, I bore witness to a very moving and eye-opening experience. As a man-at-arms in an African Liberation Movement in the U.S. which is currently in the process of re-organizing and re-inventing itself in these times, I see the role of international solidarity critically important to our future world view. So when asked, “Why are you all the way over there when there is a war going on in your own community?” I proudly quote dead prez’ “Psychology” (“Let’s Get Free,” 2000): “My enemy’s enemy is my man!”

With respect to all the progressive organizations and cultural workers who have been putting work in to stop the siege on Palestine and amass resources and resistance to the same imperialism which is plaguing my community, I say, “Asante sana!” (“Thank you very much!”) You have provided critical political education at a time when the hip-hop community in particular has been devoid of analysis of the world around us. In places like Chicago and New York, I would continually bump into artists like Rebel Diaz, Shadia, Mansour, DAM (Palestine) and Immortal Technique, who I’d like to report as courageous fighters!

Now that we have kicked the preliminaries (as the old Flavor Flav would say), let’s get to the details … Moments after we rocked a solar-powered event on 23rd and the FDR in Manhattan promoting our recent release, “Pulse of the People,” I jumped on a plane to Cairo, Egypt. The plan was to join a caravan that would originate there and move north to the border of Gaza with loads of resources which had been donated for the people there who had been under an Israeli imposed, U.S. backed embargo for months.

From my trips to Cuba in the past years, I was aware that an embargo is only a nice way to say war, so I knew what to expect. Upon arrival in Egypt – which is northern Africa, in case you forgot – I could feel the intense military repression in the air. Nonetheless I was awed by finally touching and seeing a place that held such importance in the history of civilization. Fuck colonized Egypt; to me this was Kimet!

As I was toured through the recent developments and structural work like the Anwar Sadat Memorial and felt the pulse of the cluttered city streets, I was awed by the backdrop of the Nile River, which had been dirtied by the recent Arab neglect. Unfortunately, it was like a “toy” tag on a “burner,” for all my graf writers out there. Nonetheless, it was a moment I will never forget.

As my new-found comrades Ayman, Mazzi and I toured through Egypt just an hour off the plane, we could not help but to be drawn to the pyramids in the near distance as the sun began to set on this powerful land. In a moment of spontaneity, we urged our guide to take us closer to get a better look at these incredible wonders of the world.

As the sun continued to set, I found myself on the back of a camel, trodding through what seemed like the Kasbah on our way to the sands of the desert in which these six pyramids were implanted. Unfortunately, night fell upon us as we were on the way and we had to turn back, but our efforts produced a great memory and a backdrop which was indescribable.

Later we arrived at the hotel, which would serve as the headquarters for the caravan, war-room for the organizers and hostage zone for the Egyptian government who had assigned agents to follow and document every word and action taken by the Viva Palestina group, whose numbers would reach around 200 people. As we settled in, there was an update meeting called for the people who had just arrived.

It was at that meeting that we learned that the preliminary caravan, which had been sent forward to prepare for our entry into Palestine, had been turned back by armed soldiers at the Suez Canal! It was at that moment that we realized there would be serious worldwide opposition to this support which we planned to bring there.

At the center of the meeting was British Parliamentarian George Galloway, who was the chief planner and organizer of this mission. Seated to his left were two very familiar faces to me, New York City Councilman Charles Barron and Green Party presidential nominee Cynthia McKinney. I was elated to see these two, who I had worked with before on many occasions.

“The revolution is like the back of the camel, to be ridden by the masses ...” – M-1
“The revolution is like the back of the camel, to be ridden by the masses …” – M-1

And I was especially anxious to speak with Cynthia McKinney, who had, just days before, been freed from an Israeli jail for attempting to get into Gaza to investigate the crimes against the people there. It was good to be amongst comrades in a sea of unfamiliar faces. Later I would retire my room with mc’s S.O.U.L. Purpose (U.S./Iran) and LowKey (Britain), only to break night preparing for the next day.

Little did we know that the Egyptian government had no plans to let this mission succeed. Under the watchful eye of the Israeli government, we endured countless exercises in futility at the U.S. Embassy while being followed by suspicious looking Arab agents carrying sub-machine guns.

The idea was to exhaust our resources by paying for useless, unnecessary documents and dealing with bureaucratic paperwork to delay the mission as much as possible. Plus, while waiting on the Egyptian government to deliberate these matters, which they had been made aware of months prior, we were not allowed to leave the vicinity of the hotel, which we were paying to be held hostage in!!

Was this the same place that U.S. President Barak Obama recently visited in a so-called attempt to ease relations precisely in this region? Is this a glaring example of political lip-service or what? The Viva Palestina group spent the next couple of restless days plotting, planning and strategizing around how we could heighten the pressure to free us from this Egyptian purgatory.

There were international demonstrations called in the U.S. and Britain in which people stampeded the embassies and flooded officials with phone calls. In the final analysis, even with all the efforts, we were still left with undesirable choices to make.

With some forces who had been in Egypt for up to seven days already with no success at breaking the siege on Gaza, we were now faced with the fact that the Egyptian government would not allow the resources we had gathered to bring into Gaza to cross the border. I am talking hundreds of thousands of dollars and pounds literally “jacked” from us!

“The road to Rafah, Viva Palestina ...” – M-1
“The road to Rafah, Viva Palestina …” – M-1

Some of these resources were in the form of two ambulances, many trucks full of food, medicine, wheelchairs and equipment, basic household needs, children’s books and school supplies and the list goes on and on! On top of that, we were now reduced from spending three days in Gaza to now only being given 24 hours to get in and out! It was pretty ridiculous if you can fathom it; however, in war we have to make decisions on our feet and move strategically.

With the leadership shift from Galloway to Charles Barron in the heated hours, and around-the-clock negotiations, it all came down to a final decision-making meeting in which all cards were placed on the table before everyone in the Viva Palestina caravan. In a room full of people from every walk of life: white, Black, Asian, Palestinian, Jew, rich, poor, political, non-political, uninformed, young , old, tired, adventurous and of course police planted agents, we had a discourse of which type I had never been a part of. And I am thankful for the seasoned leadership of Mr. Barron that helped to pull us through. At one point, there was even the “discovery” of an agent in that very meeting, which caused a huge conflagration that almost ended in physical harm to the snitch!

Our decision was to accept the offer made to us by the Egyptian government and bring some sense of hope to the Palestinian people who would be waiting on the other side of the Rafah border. And in the wee hours of the morning, we loaded up the vans and trucks with our people and our belongings and left the hostage hotel to embark on a six- to eight-hour caravan to the Gaza Strip.

The journey through the sand was remarkable. Only the pictures can describe these moments. On a comfortable chartered bus I daydreamed and listened to one the head organizers, Nancy, deejay to our anxiety and excitement. One of my favorite songs is the one that demanded us to “wave our kufiyas in the air!” which many of us wore. Even though they have become a passing fashion statement, we wore the red and white ones, and I felt extremely proud when the brothers got together to wave our Red, Black and Green Liberation flag in the immigration office as they chanted loud enough for the people to hear us on the other side in Gaza.

One thing I will never forget is the Palestinian people on the Egyptian side of the border who were not allowed to get back into their country since the embargo began. I felt unworthy of passing through the checkpoint as tears rolled down their faces and their children pleaded to be on the bus with us. I would have given up my seat in one second if it would not have compromised the mission.

As we endured a couple more hours of bureaucracy and finally made it to Palestinian land, many of us could not believe we were actually in the Gaza Strip. There was the warmest welcome planned even though they had prepared for this moment over a week ago. Who knows when their Israeli captors will allow the border to open again?

For all intents and purposes, we were visiting an open-air prison that is intended to never be given its human rights ever again! During the press conference and the hubbub, I saw many reactions to our arrival. There were families reunited and political opportunism ran amuck. Many of us were exhausted but elated to inhale the experience to the fullest. The next 24 hours would change my life …

Stay tuned for the finale …. Power to the People!

[Author’s note: The views I am expressing here are mine alone, and subject to input from all certain people who shared this experience. Please excuse any error in my recollection; it wasn’t done intentionally. Thank you.]

Learn more about M-1 and dead prez and their latest album, “Pulse of the People,” at www.deadprez.com and www.myspace.com/m1rbg. Join M-1 on his historic speaking tour Sept. 24-29, “From the Ghetto to Gaza” – six events in six days in East and West Oakland, San Francisco, Sonoma, San Jose and Santa Cruz to benefit BlockReportRadio.com and SFBayView.com. Contact Minister of Information JR at blockreportradio@gmail.com or the SF Bay View at (415) 671-0789 for more information

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M-1 of dead prez-Report Back from Gaza -Why we should be concerned w/Palestine and International Struggles …

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M-1 of dead prez reports back from his trip to Gaza

M-1 of dead prez reports back from his trip to Gaza

We caught up with M-1 of the group dead prez to find about his recent trip to Gaza. For folks who don’t recall, last week M-1 made headlines along with former Green Party Presidential candidate and Cynthia McKinney, New York City Councilman Charles Barron and UK Parliament member George Galloway.. They along with over 200 people defied a blockade and warnings from the Israeli government and went to Gaza to bring humanitarian aid.

We spoke with M-1 about how he hooked up with Viva Palestina which was the organization that made the trip. M-1 explained that he has been involved with Palestinian causes for a number of years. He broke down the history of his involvement  and spoke about how the organizations and people he has rolled with have been equally involved in struggles African Americans are dealing with here. We will be posting that up later this afternoon

In the meantime we are posting up two portions of our long interview. The first is M-1 addressing a nagging question that frequently pops up:

Why should Black people in America be concerned about political happenings in far off places like Iran or Palestine when we have problems here at home? M-1 gave us a history lesson and reminded us that the Black struggle has always been international from the days of Paul Robeson to Malcolm X wanting to take our case before the United Nations to Martin Luther King dealing with Vietnam on up to the foreign aid that came to help us when we went through Katrina. M-1 goes into detail about why Black folks had better be concerned about international struggles. He lets us know that our struggle at home would’ve been seriously hindered if we weren’t internationally connected. He also encouraged us to see our selves as part of a larger movement without borders.

In this next video clip we speak to M-1 about what he experienced while visiting Gaza. He talks about the conditions there and how the people are and the role his fellow rappers in Palestine are fairing … We also spoke to M-1 about why he felt he was a hostage in Egypt. The government kept people in the country from 5-10 days and then made them jump through all types of hoops to get out of the country.  He also talked about the totalitarian state of Egypt and how it was ironic that Obama spoke at a country that does not allow free speech.  If dead prez was living in Egypt espousing the political views that they do here they would be in jail.. below is the interview segment from that..

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