Greek right-wing government attacks civil liberties


This video says about itself:

Protesters denounce criminal negligence of the Greek Coast Guard during recent migrant boat sinking off Agathonisi in which sixteen people lost their lives. On 16 March sixteen people, including at least five children, drowned when the small boat they on capsized in the Aegean Sea. The only three survivors raise serious allegations against the authorities. Relatives of those lost at sea- including an Afghan mother who lost her two sons gather at Syntagma square in Athens to protest and demand responsibilities about the incident, as the Greek Coast Guard ignored the emergency calls.

Athens, Greece, 04 April 2018.

From the Dawn of the Greks blog, 12 November 2019:

The repression wave in Athens continues…

Clashes between students and riot police erupted in the Economic University AOSEE in downtown Athens yesterday September 11th. Dozens of students entered the premises of the institution in order to protest the Senate decision to close the University for a week “deliberately and for no reason”, as they say. …

Today, November 12th, the riot police in Athens evacuated one more squat in the center of Athens at Bouboulinas street, where 138 refugees and migrants were living. The situation with the repression wave of the new [right-wing] government remains out of control. Many squats and social spaces in Athens have been evacuated already. Mainly the victims are migrants and refugees.

From the Keep Talking Greece site, 11 November 2019:

Greek gov’t brings back Blasphemy Laws, penalty up to 2 years in prison

The conservative Greek government brings back the Blasphemy Laws the previous government SYRIZA had abolished less than six months ago. Violating the blasphemy laws could send those insulting God and the Greek Orthodox Church up to two years in prison.

Spanish neo-fascist Vox party, a danger


This 11 November 2019 video says about itself:

Spain’s far right looks to reignite embers of Franco era

Spain’s Socialist Party says it will act fast to form a government, after winning the most seats in Sunday’s parliamentary election.

Leader Pedro Sanchez had hoped the vote – which was the second this year – would break the country’s political deadlock.

But with the far-right Vox party more than doubling its support, the country appears more fragmented than ever before.

Al Jazeera’s Jonah Hull has more from Madrid.

By Alex Lantier:

The Spanish elections and the rise of the fascistic Vox party

12 November 2019

The rapid rise of the fascistic Vox party in Sunday’s Spanish elections is a warning of serious political dangers facing workers in Spain and around the world. As it faces mounting political protest and anger against social inequality, the ruling class is moving to set up fascistic police states tasked with violently repressing social opposition in the working class.

Vox officials have publicly hailed the record of the “national army” of Generalissimo Francisco Franco, the fascist dictator who launched a coup in 1936 against growing radicalization in the working class under the Spanish Second Republic. The resulting Civil War led to over a quarter million deaths and the imposition of a dictatorship that ruled Spain until 1978, three years after Franco’s death. Franco interned hundreds of thousands in concentration camps, banned strikes and political parties, censored the press and had thousands tortured by the secret police.

The Franco regime was so despised by workers in Spain and across Europe after it fell that, when Vox was founded in 2014, it attracted virtually no support. For several years, despite its extensive connections inside the army brass and the Popular Party (PP), Vox won 50,000 votes or less, well under one percent of the vote.

Vox’s vote surged, however, after the brutal police crackdown on the peaceful Catalan independence referendum of October 2017, and particularly amid Spanish nationalist attacks in the media against mass protests in Barcelona opposing last month’s jailing of Catalan nationalist political prisoners. On Sunday, Vox won 3.6 million votes, or 15 percent, doubling its parliamentary fraction from 24 to 52 seats—third behind only the Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE) and the PP.

Vox’s rise is part of a broad trend in European capitalist politics towards the growth of neo-fascist parties, nationalism and the official public legitimization of fascist dictators.

The Alternative for Germany (AfD) is currently the third-largest party in Germany, after years of propaganda by right-wing extremist professors and state officials to legitimize militarism and minimize the genocidal crimes of Nazism. Mass protests against the AfD have only intensified the ruling elite’s determination to rehabilitate Nazism. Last week, parliamentary president Wolfgang Schäuble denounced a “pacifist attitude” as the disastrous result of the Nazi defeat in World War II, which he called “the catastrophe of 1945.”

In France, as he launched a brutal crackdown on “yellow vest” protests against social inequality a year ago, President Emmanuel Macron hailed Nazi-collaborationist dictator Philippe Pétain as a “great soldier”. Amid growing anger at his social cuts, Macron continues to appeal to the far right, recently granting an interview attacking migrants and the Muslim veil to the far-right Current Values magazine.

The Frech name of that magazine is Valeurs Actuelles. Its editor-in-chief used to be a supporter of OAS extreme-right terrorism.

As a result, polls show he would now barely defeat neo-fascist candidate Marine Le Pen in a presidential election, by 55 percent to 45 percent.

The growth of fascism in official European politics does not signify a return to the mass popular support enjoyed by the Nazi Party, Mussolini’s National Fascist Party or the Francoite Falange. For now, it is a carefully staged political campaign, driven from the top, to promote violent, right-wing and nationalist opposition to social and political protest.

Vox’s rise is a classic example. While it has surged based on its anti-Catalan propaganda amid the wall-to-wall media denunciation of the independence referendum, no mass movement has emerged in Spain taking up Vox’s calls to deploy the army and execute political “criminals” in Catalonia. Polls confirm that large majorities of Spanish people support a negotiated settlement in Catalonia, despite the anti-Catalan hysteria in the media.

The promotion of Vox and of Franco comes overwhelmingly from the state machine. The PSOE allowed Vox to officially join its public prosecutor in persecuting Catalan officials who were given decade-long jail terms last month for organizing the peaceful 2017 referendum. And the Supreme Court in June issued an extraordinary ruling honoring “don Francisco Franco”, declaring that his October 1, 1936, self-proclamation as ruler of Spain during the Civil War made Franco the head of state—effectively ruling that Franco’s coup was legitimate.

Finally, the ruling elite focused the election campaign entirely on attacking mass protests in Catalonia, which were savagely repressed, with hundreds of arrests. Issues of concern to workers, like jobs, social programs and a halt to military-police violence, were off the table. The caretaker Socialist Party (PSOE) government, speaking for the entire capitalist class, had already written to the European Union (EU) pledging billions of euros in social cuts and military spending increases. All of this had the effect of boosting Vox.

The bourgeoisie’s failure to elicit broader support for its pro-fascist campaign up to now cannot, however, be a cause for complacency. The fascist threat is growing and its parties are winning increased support thanks to their constant promotion as the only alternative to the despised official parties.

Three decades ago, bourgeois propagandists proclaimed that the Stalinist bureaucracy’s dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991 meant the “End of History” and the triumph of capitalist democracy. In fact, none of the contradictions of capitalism that drove the European bourgeoisie to stake its fate on fascist regimes in the 1930s had been resolved. Facing explosive anger at social inequality produced by decades of post-Soviet EU austerity and mass unemployment, the ruling class is again preparing dictatorship.

Sunday’s Spanish election revealed the breakdown of the parliamentary system established in 1978 in talks between the Francoite fascists, the PSOE … The PSOE-PP duopoly at the heart of that regime has collapsed. Each of the four elections in Spain since 2015 has resulted in a hung parliament, and no party has been able to muster a parliamentary majority since then. The ruling class is responding, through Vox, by turning back to Francoism.

Vox: its 52 deputies include retired pro-Francoite generals, former police and Civil Guards, anti-LGBTI activists, holocaust deniers, lawyers and Catholic fundamentalists: here.

Iraqi regime kills pro-democracy, anti-corruption demonstrators


Iraqi young people aboard a captured military vehicle in Baghdad

From daily News Line in Britain:

12th November 2019

At least four protesters were killed and scores injured in clashes with security forces in Baghdad on Saturday as demonstrations seriously escalated.

Three of the dead were shot, and the fourth died after being struck on the head with a tear gas canister.

Earlier on Saturday, security forces using live ammunition cleared demonstrators from three of the main bridges over the Tigris, pushing them further back from the Green Zone which has been a focal point of the unrest since it kicked off a month ago.

Security forces have fired teargas cartridges directly at protesters in Baghdad, Iraq on numerous occasions since protests resumed on October 25, 2019, killing at least 16, Human Rights Watch said on Sunday.

The dead are among the large number of protesters Iraqi forces have killed since daily protests began.

According to a November 5th United Nations Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI) report, the nationwide death toll from October 25 through to November 4th has reached at least 97.

The Iraqi High Commission for Human Rights (IHCHR) tallied at least 105 dead and 5,655 injured during that same period.

‘The high death toll includes people who took direct hits to the head from teargas cartridges, in numbers that suggest a gruesome pattern rather than isolated accidents,’ said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch.

‘With the death toll now at over 100, all of Iraq’s global partners should be unequivocal in their condemnation.’

From October 25 to November 2nd, security forces’ use of force in Baghdad alone led to the deaths of at least 64 people.

Human Rights Watch interviewed 24 people who have participated in protests in Baghdad, Karbala, Maysan, Nasriya and Basra.

The UNAMI report puts the death toll from teargas cartridges penetrating upper bodies at at least 16.

Human Rights Watch analysed Reuters footage taken on October 27 and 29, which it corroborated with witness interviews.

The footage shows security forces on Jumhuriya Bridge firing into the crowds at the foot of the bridge, which opens onto Tahrir Square.

This 31 October 2019 video says about itself:

Iraqi protesters pack Baghdad’s Tahrir square

It happened shortly after another incident at the nearby Sinak Bridge. Witnesses say security forces shot at least one protester dead and injured dozens more.

Thousands of demonstrators are defying a curfew to continue anti-government protests. …

Al Jazeera’s Laura Burdon-Manley has more.

The News Line article continues:

The October 27 clip shows one officer to the right firing teargas cartridges in an upward trajectory while on the left another officer is firing in a flat trajectory at crowds of protesters less than 100 metres away.

An analyst at the Omega Research Foundation, an independent research group focusing on the manufacture, trade, and use of military, security, and police equipment, reviewed this clip for Human Rights Watch and said that the man on the left is likely to be aiming directly at the people he is targeting and this carries a high risk of causing serious injury or death if teargas cartridges are being fired.

In the second clip, both people who are using launchers are firing on a flat trajectory. Again, this is an inappropriate and highly dangerous use of teargas cartridges.

The contrast in firing techniques raises the question of whether some forces are operating side-by-side under different orders, whether they all have orders to disperse the crowds in any way they see fit, or whether forces are disregarding their orders, Human Rights Watch said.

While relying increasingly on teargas in Baghdad, security forces are continuing to use live ammunition.

Between November 4th and 6th, live ammunition killed at least 14 more protesters in Baghdad.

Human Rights Watch reviewed three videos identifiably shot at Jumhuriya Bridge, and shared via social media between October 25 and November 5th, showing dead protesters with wounds to the head that do not appear to have been caused by teargas cartridges.

Allegations of excessive force outside of Baghdad also continue, particularly in Karbala, with witnesses, UNAMI, and media reports all saying that security forces killed at least 17 protesters between October 28 and November 3rd.

Since the protests began, senior government officials have forbidden medical staff from sharing information on the dead and injured with any sources outside the Health Ministry, and the ministry has been releasing minimal and incomplete information.

The IHCHR stopped updating its national tally as of October 31.

A doctor in a facility receiving the dead and wounded from the protests said he thought the actual death toll since October 25 was much higher than the one being reported by the IHCHR. A person with links to Iraq’s morgues told Human Rights Watch she agreed with this assessment.

UNAMI recorded six abductions of protesters or volunteers providing assistance in the Baghdad demonstrations during the current wave of protests.

In one case, the sister of Saba Farhan Hameed, 36, who had been providing food, water, and first aid kits to protesters in Tahrir Square, said Hameed vanished around 11.15pm on November 2nd while en route home.

A colleague who had been on the phone with Hameed heard her scream and her phone went off. Her sister has since gone to several police stations to search for Hameed but has not been able to locate her.

The November 5th UNAMI report put the death toll from teargas cartridges to the head and chest at 16 at least.

The IHCHR reported that on October 25 alone, eight people were killed in this way.

Amnesty International reported that it had spoken to two protesters who had witnessed deaths on October 26 and 28 from teargas cartridges hitting people in the head.

Human Rights Watch interviewed a protester who said she saw another protester get hit in the head and killed by a teargas cartridge on October 29.

She said the victim was not trying to approach security forces at the time, but was just in the square, dancing and talking.

Another protester said he saw a man killed by a teargas cartridge that hit him in the head on October 28 on Jumhuriya Bridge.

Both witnesses said that they did not hear the security forces giving any oral warning before opening fire.

An activist shared a video clip that apparently showed officers opening fire with teargas cartridges on November 1st on protesters along the river, hitting a man in the head and killing him.

On November 1st, the IHCHR reported, security forces killed a woman with a teargas cartridge to her head on Jumhuriya Bridge.

Human Rights Watch has been unable to ascertain the rank and affiliation of the officers stationed on Jumhuriya Bridge since October 25 who were firing teargas.

An international military expert in Baghdad said that in his view, when the Iraqi security forces fired teargas cartridges directly at a crowd, it was ‘not an issue of training, but a level of intention, showing that security forces are absolutely using these projectiles as a weapon as opposed to a dispersal mechanism.’

The standard practices and procedures used by security forces for riot control, as well as the instructions provided by manufacturers, dictate that tear gas cartridges should not be fired directly at people.

An international observer with crowd control experience in Baghdad also said that in her view the security forces were sometimes using teargas cartridges for the same purpose as they used live bullets.

On November 1st, two doctors separately told Human Rights Watch that on the evening of October 31, they received at least 10 protesters in their tent who showed a set of symptoms different from those experienced by earlier victims of teargas exposure.

They said the more recent victims went into spasms, shock, breathing difficulty, and paralysis for about 10 minutes before the symptoms started to pass.

They showed Human Rights Watch a video capturing the symptoms.

The IHCHR expressed concern about the apparent change in symptoms, though it remains unclear what may be causing them.

Reports emerged that on the night of October 28, armed forces opened fire on protesters in Karbala, killing between 14 and 18, according to several international media outlets that said they were able to verify the casualties with unnamed security sources, even though public officials denied the incident.

A local journalist there told Human Rights Watch that he saw security forces open fire on crowds of protesters that night and saw one protester he recognised dead from a gunshot wound in the morgue the next morning.

Human Rights Watch interviewed a doctor who was on his shift that night at the morgue and who said that he saw the bodies of seven protesters who had been shot and killed.

Another medical worker shared videos she said she filmed that night, showing four bodies.

UNAMI received what it viewed as credible allegations that security forces killed 18 protesters.

The Karbala doctor said he personally knows the family of one of the victims.

He said the family tried to retrieve their son’s body, ‘But the hospital refused to give it to them unless they signed a document that they would not bring a legal suit against the government or a tribal claim. The family refused to sign and so they still don’t have the body back.’

This 9 November 2019 video is called Iraqi security forces use live gunfire to disperse protesters in Baghdad.

Military coup in Bolivia condemned


This 9 November 2019 video says about itself:

Bolivian President Evo Morales condemns an ‘ongoing coup d’etat’ against his democratically re-elected government. And, former Brazilian President Lula Da Silva addresses the nation on the 1st day as a free man after spending 580 days in jail. More on this and other stories now.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Monday, November 11, 2019

Corbyn condemns ‘appalling’ coup against Bolivia’s President Morales

JEREMY CORBYN decried the forced resignation of Bolivian President Evo Morales as a coup today, condemning the army’s demand for the socialist leader to step down as “appalling.”

Mr Morales announced his resignation on Sunday night shortly after calls from the head of Bolivia’s army to step down.

In a televised address the president said he made the decision for the “good of the country,” which has seen violent anti-government protests [by, eg, policemen] since Morales’s election win on October 20.

He added that he had been ousted in a coup attempt by “dark forces”.

The Labour leader voiced his support for Mr Morales and wrote on Twitter: “To see Evo Morales who, along with a powerful movement, has brought so much social progress, forced from office by the military is appalling.

“I condemn this coup against the Bolivian peoples and stand with them for democracy, social justice and independence.”

Mr Corbyn is a long-time supporter of the ousted leader, who became the country’s first indigenous leader 14 years ago, since which he has nationalised Bolivia’s resources, alleviated poverty and championed indigenous peoples’ rights.

His outrage was shared by shadow justice minister Richard Burgon who tweeted: “Latin America’s history offers many frightening examples of what happens when the military forces out progressive presidents.”

However, Mr Morales still remains popular among Bolivia’s working class, and, even among critics, the military’s intervention rings alarm bells for the future of Bolivia’s democracy.

Friends of Bolivia, a British-based solidarity group, told the Star that Mr Morales’s forced resignation was “clearly a coup attempt” backed by the White House.

The Trump administration has made its opposition to the Morales government clear on a number of occasions and this has hardened recently,” a spokesperson from the solidarity group said.

“Nobody denies that Evo Morales won the presidential election last month with 47 per cent of the vote.

“Yet now the military, backed by Washington’s OAS, have forced him out.”

The group expressed fears that Mr Morales’s social gains, including reducing national illiteracy, unemployment and extreme poverty, will now be “dismantled by the coup government.”

The World Peace Council (WPC) also denounced the “long-desired and planned” coup attempt which they claimed was “sponsored and supported by the US imperialists, hand in hand with the local oligarchy and their well-known instrument, the OAS.”

Bolivia’s Morales denounces ‘racists and coup-plotters’ behind his removal. Mexico calls for emergency OAS meeting and denounces coup in the Latin American country: here.

The Bolivian coup: what the mainstream media don’t tell you. Bolivia’s oligarchy launched an orgy of racist and fascist violence to oust president Morales, explains FRANCISCO DOMINGUEZ.

Netflix helps Saudi autocracy’s censorship


This 9 November 2019 video from the USA says about itself:

Netflix BOWS To Saudi Arabia Pressure

Netflix bows to Saudi Arabia pressure canceling an episode of ‘Patriot Act’. John Iadarola and Ryan Grim break it down on The Damage Report.

Saudi Arabia’s Children Are Learning From Anti-Semitic Textbooks … According to a State Department-funded study, assorted religious schools have adopted Saudi state textbooks in a variety of countries around the world. These texts were even adopted at one point in territory controlled by ISIS. … we found that the kingdom’s 2018-2019 curriculum still encouraged hatred or violence against Jews, Christians, Shi’ite Muslims, women, gay men: here.