Italian right-wing regime arrests mayor for anti-racism

This 2 October 2018 video says about itself:

Italy: Hundreds protest arrest of pro-refugee mayor

Several hundred people staged a protest in Rome on Tuesday to demonstrate their support for the arrested pro-refugee mayor of Riace, Domenico ‘Mimmo’ Lucano.

Lucano, who achieved worldwide fame for his role in welcoming refugees to his village in the south of Italy, was arrested on charges of aiding illegal immigration on Tuesday. The protesters vented their anger at what they believe was a calculated decision by Italy’s [right-wing] coalition government to target someone who is widely seen as a champion for the integration of migrants.

From Wikipedia:

Domenico Lucano is the mayor of Riace, in southern Italy. He gained worldwide attention through his innovative approach to dealing with refugees, in the context of the European migrant crisis. About 450 refugees have settled there among the 1,800 inhabitants of the village, revitalising it and preventing the closure of the village school.

Lucano came second runner-up in the 2010 World Mayor competition. …

Lucano was also listed by Fortune as one of the world’s greatest leaders in 2016; featuring at number 40 in the magazine’s listing.

By Ylenia Gostoli, 2 October 2018:

Italy’s pro-refugee mayor Domenico Lucano arrested

Domenico Lucano, known internationally for promoting migrant integration, charged with ‘aiding illegal migration’.

The mayor of an Italian town known around the world as a model of integration has been put under house arrest for ‘aiding illegal migration’.

Lucano’s partner, Tesfahun Lemlem, was banned from living in the town under the same charges.

And the right-wing regime of racist Deputy Prime Minister Salvini may try to deport her from Italy.

The arrest on Tuesday morning came amid a government inquiry into the allocation of funds for refugees in the town.

Italy’s … government has adopted a hardline stance on migration controls in recent months.

International plaudits

Lucano has won international acclaim for ‘repopulating’ Riace with migrants and successfully integrating the arrivals.

With a population of about 1,500, the town hosts around 500 migrants and refugees from more than 20 countries.

Like other small towns across Italy, it has witnessed the massive flight of young people in recent decades, who left looking for economic opportunities elsewhere.

Lucano’s model gained international attention at the peak of the refugee crisis in 2015 and he made Fortune Magazine’s 50 greatest leaders list in 2016.

Refugees and migrants in Italy are usually hosted in reception centres, most of them privately run but publicly funded, with strict rules and timetables guests have to follow.

These rules and the centres’ locations, often far from city centres, have made it difficult for refugees and asylum seekers to integrate and hold down a job.

In Riace, they have been given homes left empty by former residents. They also have the opportunity to work through a programme that has created employment among both refugees and locals – the first focused on cultural mediation and local craftsmanship and the second on language teaching.

‘Civil disobedience’

Authorities wiretapped a conversation between the mayor and his partner where he talked about ways to help a Nigerian woman who had been denied a stay permit three times.

In a Facebook post after Lucano’s arrest on Tuesday, [anti-mafia, anti-Salvini, pro-Lucano author Roberto] Saviano wrote: “the goal of Mimmo [Domenico] Lucano’s actions is not profit, but civil disobedience.”

“Civil disobedience: this is the only weapon we have to defend not only the rights of migrants, but everyone’s”, argued the author, concluding that the investigation is “the first step towards Italy’s definitive transformation from democracy to an authoritarian state.”

A number of civil society organisations have expressed concern about the arrest, which they see as yet another attack by a government that has built its popularity partly on anti-migrant rhetoric.

“It started with NGOs saving lives at sea. Now it’s the turn of those who do it on land“, wrote Naples-based anti-racism group Associazione 3 Febbraio in a statement calling for solidarity with the mayor.

For Leonardo Neglia, the mayor of Petralia Sottana, a town near Palermo with less than 3,000 residents, Lucano’s reception model is one to replicate.

Neglia had considered starting a similar project in Petralia Sottana, although the idea has been put on hold after the government’s ‘migration and security’ decree.

“Beyond technical and juridical considerations, I think his reception model should be recreated in other municipalities,” he told Al Jazeera.

“We were looking for people who would be willing to make their empty homes in the city centre available for the project. There are many, due to the depopulation of our towns as many young people leave, creating a vicious circle of impoverishment”, Neglia added.

“But this [arrest] sends a message that times have changed.”

The arrest, according to British daily The Guardian:

the suspension by the public broadcaster, Rai, of a TV show about Riace, which had been lauded as an exemplary model for integration. …

Lucano received a show of support on his Facebook page, with Riace locals calling on each other to rally together in solidarity.


German violent xenophobic nazis arrested

This video from Germany says about itself:

Chemnitz: Tens of thousands attend concert against racism | DW English

4 September 2018

Monday’s concert against racism attracted an estimated 65,000 people.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

Right-wing extremists arrested in Chemnitz for planning attacks on foreigners

In Germany, six far-right men were arrested this morning, suspected of founding the violent Revolution Chemnitz group and attacking foreigners.

They are said to have been planning more violence against foreigners and attacking political opponents.

A seventh suspect has already been arrested two weeks ago.


The police arrived at houses and other buildings in several places in Saxony and Bavaria states this morning. It is not clear whether things have been confiscated. The group is said to have been busily ordering semi-automatic weapons.

According to the German justice department, the seven suspects are prominent in the neonazi scene in the Chemnitz region. They are said to have attacked immigrants in Chemnitz two weeks ago together with other right-wing extremists. These attacks injured someone.

Police say they had plans for semi-automatic firearms violence on 3 October.

See also here.

German police use murderous nazi’s name as codename

This 2014 video says about itself:

Neo Nazi Killers of Germany (SHOCKING Crime Documentary)

The Bosphorus serial murders, also known as Döner murders, the term often used by the media, were a series of attacks that took place in Germany between 2000 and 2006, leaving ten people dead and one wounded. The attackers called themselves National Socialist Underground (NSU) (German: Nationalsozialistischer Untergrund).

The primary targets were ethnic Turks, but one Greek and one German policewoman were also killed. The victims were mostly small business owners, including doner kebab vendors and greengrocers. They were murdered in daylight with gunshots to the face at close range with a silenced CZ 83 pistol.

According to the parents of a Turkish victim who worked in an internet café, the police originally suspected foreign organised criminals. A German policewoman, Michèle Kiesewetter, was also shot and killed and the police officer on patrol with her was critically wounded. Other crimes, including a bomb attack, may have been committed by the group.

German authorities identified three suspects, Uwe Böhnhardt, Uwe Mundlos, and Beate Zschäpe as responsible for the murders. According to the acting Attorney General of Germany, Rainer Greisbaum, the suspects had Neo-Nazi links. Böhnhardt and Mundlos were found dead by police after they robbed a bank on 4 November 2011. Police said they killed themselves. Zschäpe surrendered on 11 November 2011. She will probably face charges of murder, attempted murder, arson, and belonging to a terrorist organization.

Zschäpe said she was only willing to testify if she was considered a state witness, with mitigation of sentence.

The police discovered an alleged hit-list of 88 names that included “two prominent members of the Bundestag and representatives of Turkish and Islamic groups“.


Neo-Nazi name used by German cops as codeword while guarding Erdogan on Berlin visit

30 Sep, 2018 09:24

A pair of police officers in eastern Germany used the name of a notorious neo-Nazi extremist to work undercover during an operation to protect Turkish President Erdogan who visited Berlin this week, local media reveal.

Criminal police in the eastern German state of Saxony are inquiring into two members of elite counter-terrorism unit SEK, the regional interior ministry said. The men were deployed to protect Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during his much-anticipated trip to Germany.

As the officers had to work undercover, protocol required that they use a codename. Their choice was Uwe Boehnhardt, a notorious member of the National Socialist Underground (NSU) – a neo-Nazi extremist group that slaughtered eight Turkish immigrants, one Greek citizen, and a German police officer in the 2000s.

The bizarre codename surfaced when the two signed up to access internal documents they needed for the deployment, local media report. Officers in charge of the operation reacted swiftly, and the policemen were immediately recalled.

Petric Kleine, the head of Saxony criminal police, was first to react to the news. He said the use of Boehnhardt’s name was “hardly to be beaten in ‘stupidity’” and represented “blatant disregard of [his] victims and their relatives.” …

Erdogan’s Friday visit to Berlin has stirred considerable controversy in Germany. Chancellor Angela Merkel has been criticized for hosting a leader which some accuse of being increasingly authoritarian.

Merkel said the visit was very important “because when there are differences a personal meeting is vital to resolve them.”

The NSU first came to light in 2011 when the bodies of Boehnhardt and his accomplice Uwe Mundlos were found inside a burnt-out motorhome in eastern Germany. The two are believed to have died in an apparent murder-suicide after a failed bank robbery in a town of Eisenach.

Beate Zschaepe, the neo-Nazi gang’s third and last surviving member, was detained shortly afterwards. In July of this year, a German court sentenced her to life in prison, finding her guilty on 10 counts of murder. …

The scandal surrounding the NSU has led to widespread criticism of German security agencies. Lawyers, activists, and relatives of the victims believe that the group had far more accomplices.

It also came out that the BfV, Germany’s domestic intelligence agency, had placed numerous informants within the NSU and systematically thwarted and made impossible the investigation of murders, attempted murders, and robberies attributed to the group.

The extreme right and east European governments

This 27 September 2018 video from the USA says about itself:

Right-Wing Eastern European States Honor Nazi-Collaborating Fascists as ‘Heroes’ (Pt 1/2)

Far-right governments in Eastern Europe are rehabilitating past Nazi collaborators as national heroes, rewriting the history of the Holocaust to turn the Soviet Union into the villain. Historian Dovid Katz explains how the fascist-apologist “double genocide” myth is spreading.

This video is the sequel.

Neo-nazis and historians in Germany

This 2018 video says about itself:

“The Jews are hiding the truth”: what the neo-Nazis in Germany think

Antonia Yamin, Europe correspondent for KAN Israel got exclusive access to a neo-Nazi rock festival in Themar, Germany. There she watched a crowd of skinheads covered with Nazi tattoos and shirts with captions about longing for the Third Reich.

By Christoph Vandreier in Germany:

The neo-Nazi offensive in Germany and the role of historians

27 September 2018

The following statement was distributed by members of the International Youth and Students for Social Equality to the Historians’ Conference currently underway in the city of Münster. The annual conference is the most prestigious gathering of its kind in Germany, bringing together historians from all over the world. It meets this year under the title “Divided Society.”

The 52nd Historikertag (Historians’ Conference) in Münster takes place under conditions where historical questions have assumed immense significance. Eighty-five years after the Nazis came to power, several thousand far-right demonstrators marched through the streets of Chemnitz, hunting down refugees, besieging a Jewish restaurant and attacking a local office of the Left Party. Sometime later, in Dortmund, a few hundred neo-Nazis chanted anti-Semitic slogans and committed crimes.

These forces have been actively encouraged by leading representatives of the government and the state. Interior Minister Horst Seehofer lined up behind the far-right demonstrators and even stated that he would have marched alongside them in Chemnitz if he were not a minister. The president of the German domestic intelligence service, the BfV, Hans-Georg Maassen, denied that there had been any persecution of refugees in Chemnitz and accused journalists and victims of the fascist mob of lying. Previously, he had met confidentially with leading members of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD).

The fact that the grand coalition in Berlin has refused to dismiss Maassen sends a clear signal to the AfD, its sympathisers and its members in the state apparatus that they have the backing of the government (a coalition of the Christian Democratic Union, Christian Social Union and Social Democratic Party).

Although the AfD is despised by the vast majority of the population, it has become the most influential political force in Germany. It heads key Bundestag committees, and the grand coalition has adopted and is implementing its racist policies. These policies include the setting up of a comprehensive system of camps where refugees are incarcerated, harassed and then deported. They also include the build-up of the state apparatus and an aggressive foreign policy, as agreed in the coalition agreement.

This fundamental change in German politics has shocked many, but it did not appear out of the blue. It was prepared ideologically.

For years, an intellectual climate has been cultivated in which the far-right could thrive. Already at the time of the reunification of Germany, nearly 30 years ago, tendencies emerged in historical circles seeking to rehabilitate old Nazi myths while downplaying the crimes committed by German imperialism. Then, in January 2014, the German government announced the “end of Germany’s military restraint”, and such forms of historical falsification assumed a new quality.

“It is difficult to conduct a responsible policy in Europe with the notion that we are to blame for everything. With relation to 1914 this is a legend”, Herfried Münkler declared on January 4, 2014, in an interview with the Süddeutsche Zeitung, thereby sparking a new wave of historical falsification. On the same day, the right-wing military historian Sönke Neitzel, Professor Dominik Geppert (Bonn University), the “New Right” author Cora Stephan and Professor Thomas Weber published an article in Die Welt denying that Germany pursued aggressive goals in World War I. Germany, they argued, was “far removed from any pursuit of world power driven by pride and megalomania.”

The professor of Eastern European history at Humboldt University, Jörg Baberowski, went even further and sought to whitewash the crimes of National Socialism (Nazism). In an article in Der Spiegel in February 2014, he lined up behind the historian

not a historian, but a philosopher by education

Ernst Nolte, who had unleashed the Historians’ Debate in 1986. Nolte had claimed that the Holocaust was an understandable response to the violence of the Soviet Union. Nolte’s thesis led to a storm of protest at the time and was quite correctly refuted by dozens of historians. Soon after, Nolte appeared solely on the platform of far-right organisations.

Baberowski, however, is intent on rehabilitating the Nazi apologist: “Nolte was done an injustice”, the Humboldt professor told Der Spiegel. “Historically speaking he was right.”

Baberowski continued, “Hitler was no psychopath, and he wasn’t vicious. He didn’t want people to talk about the extermination of the Jews at his table.” Baberowski drew a parallel between the Holocaust and alleged executions during the Russian Civil War, claiming: “It was essentially the same thing: killing on an industrial scale.”

Baberowski combines his trivialisation of the crimes of the Nazis with a malicious campaign against refugees, which, in content and tone, echoes the AfD. In May 2017, he complained to the NZZ that since 1968, “the resistance to a dead dictator [Adolf Hitler] is legitimacy enough to rise morally above other people.” Anyone who “reaches conclusions about racism, colonialism, war and peace or gender relations that depart from what the hegemonic discourse allows is morally discredited”, he continued.

In 2015, on the TV programme “Kulturzeit”, he described the growing number of attacks on refugees as “rather harmless” weighed against the problems that he alleged were associated with refugees.

Baberowski’s comments in 2014 were not the first time he sought to exonerate the Nazis and their leader. Already in a text from 2007 he denied that the war of annihilation in eastern Europe was the result of systematic planning and Nazi ideology. Instead, he blamed the Red Army: “Stalin and his generals forced on the Wehrmacht a new kind of war that no longer spared the civilian population”, he wrote. Similar theses can be found in his book Scorched Earth from 2012.

In 1986, positions such as those defended by Baberowski met with a torrent of criticism. In 2014, they were greeted mainly with silence. For the next three years, not a single historian or professor objected to the fact that the Holocaust had been played down and the viciousness of Hitler called into question in Germany’s biggest-circulation news magazine.

Instead, the International Youth and Students for Social Equality (IYSSE), the youth organisation of the Socialist Equality Party (SGP), was roundly attacked by numerous media outlets, university officials and historians for criticising Baberowski in its pamphlets and meetings.

Even after the Cologne Higher Regional Court ruled that Baberowski had been correctly quoted by his critics and that it was perfectly legitimate to describe him as a “right-wing extremist,” “racist” and “glorifier of violence”, the presidium of Humboldt University in Berlin and a number of professors, including Michael Wildt and Hannes Grandits, praised Baberowski as an “outstanding scientist whose integrity is beyond doubt.” His scientific statements were “not right-wing radical”, they declared.

The IYSSE and other critical students were branded as being linked to “violence and extremism,” without any evidence being offered, while “media attacks” on Baberowski were declared to be “unacceptable”.

The current BfV report, produced under Maassen’s leadership, lists the Socialist Equality Party, for the first time, as a “left-wing extremist party” and “object for surveillance.” This is evidently the response to the SGP’s campaign against the right-wing ideological offensive.

The report does not accuse the SGP of any type of violence or improper activity. Instead, the party is condemned because it is “against alleged nationalism, imperialism and militarism.” According to the BfV, anyone who protests against, or gathers information on, right-wing extremists is a “left-wing extremist.”

The report fails to make any critical mention of the AfD or other leading figures and movements associated with the far right (Pegida, Björn Höcke, Götz Kubitschek, etc.). Much of the report bears the signature of the AfD, which Maassen consulted on a number of occasions prior to its publication.

Anyone familiar with German history is aware of the significance of the recent neo-Nazi offensive. In 1933, Hitler was “elevated” to power by the German elites (Ian Kershaw), because they needed him to smash the workers’ movement and prepare World War II. Today, the rise of the right-wing extremists coincides once again with a critical turning point in German history: faced with trade war, international conflicts and growing social tensions, the ruling elites are pressing ahead with the revival of German militarism and strengthening the state apparatus.

Unlike 1933, the far-right extremists are not yet a mass party. They draw their strength from the support of the state and government and from the right-wing ideological climate cultivated at Germany’s universities. The whitewashing of Nazi crimes by Baberowski, his defence by leading press organs and professors, and the cowardly silence of many others have created an ideological climate that encourages this development. It is time to break the silence and oppose the historical revisionism that is the breeding ground for right-wing extremists.

* Stop the surveillance of the SGP and other left-wing organisations by the BfV!

* Condemn the statement of the Humboldt University presidium against the IYSSE and critical students!

* Publicly protest against Baberowski’s attempts to relativise the crimes of the Nazis!

Pre-Columbian Panamanians not as violent as claimed

This 2007 video from the USA says about itself:

Sherri Davis speaks out about her Mayan heritage and Mel [Gibson]’s representation of Mayans in Apocalypto.

From this blog, on 7 December 2006, about Guatemala:

“[Anti-Semitic and otherwise racist actor/Apocalypto film director Mel] Gibson replays… an offensive and racist notion that Maya people were brutal to one another long before the arrival of Europeans and thus they deserved, in fact, needed, rescue”, said Ignacio Ochoa, director of the Nahual Foundation that promotes Mayan culture.

And now, about native people in another Central American country.

From the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama:

Violence in pre-Columbian Panama exaggerated, new study shows

September 24, 2018

Summary: An oft-cited publication said a pre-Colombian archaeological site in Panama showed signs of extreme violence. A new review of the evidence strongly suggests that the interpretation was wrong.

Buried alive. Butchered. Decapitated. Hacked. Mutilated. Killed. Archaeologist Samuel K. Lothrop did not obfuscate when describing what he thought had happened to the 220 bodies his expedition excavated from Panama’s Playa Venado site in 1951. The only problem is that Lothrop likely got it wrong. A new evaluation of the site’s remains by Smithsonian archaeologists revealed no signs of trauma at or near time of death. The burial site likely tells a more culturally nuanced story.

The “long-overdue” reexamination of the Playa Venado site, which dates to 500-900 A.D. and is located near the Pacific entrance to the Panama Canal, revealed no evidence of ritual killing, said Nicole E. Smith-Guzmán, post-doctoral fellow at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI). Lothrop’s misinterpretations are likely due to the era of “Romantic archaeology”, underdeveloped methods for mortuary studies and literal readings of Spanish accounts of indigenous peoples after European contact.

“We now realize that many of these Spanish chroniclers were motivated to show the indigenous populations they encountered as ‘uncivilized’ and in need of conquering”, said Smith-Guzmán, adding that many accounts of sacrifice and cannibalism have not been confirmed by the archaeological record. “Rather than an example of violent death and careless deposition, Playa Venado presents an example of how pre-Columbian societies in the Isthmo-Colombian area showed respect and care for their kin after death.”

The article, co-authored by STRI staff archaeologist Richard Cooke, was published in Latin American Antiquity. But Lothrop’s 1954 paper, “Suicide, sacrifice and mutilations in burials at Venado Beach, Panama”, left its mark on the annals of Panamanian archaeology. It has been cited more than 35 times as evidence of violence, cannibalism or trophy decapitation. Some authors have used the paper to suggest Playa Venado is a mass burial site or a manifestation of conflict.

In defense of Lothrop, who was an archaeologist with Harvard University’s Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Enthnology, bioarchaeology (the study of human remains from archaeological contexts) did not exist as a sub-discipline until two decades after his work concluded at Playa Venado. Today’s practitioners also benefit from methods developed in the 1980s and 1990s.

Lothrop’s careful documentation and preservation of remains made reevaluation possible. Remains from more than 70 individuals from Playa Venado are at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, sent there by Lothrop for osteological evaluation.

Upon examination, Smith-Guzmán found only wounds that showed signs of healing well before the individuals died, including blows to the head and a dislocated thumb. Various broken bones and disarticulated remains discovered by Lothrop [are] more likely explained by normal processes of decomposition and secondary burial of remains, which is believed to have [beem] a common ancestor-veneration practice in pre-Colombian Panama.

Evidence suggests certain people’s remains were preserved for long periods of time before being buried in ritual contexts. “At Playa Venado, we see a lot of evidence of adults being buried next to urns containing children, multiple burials including one primary and one secondary burial, and disturbance of previously laid graves in order to inter another individual in association”, said Smith-Guzmán.

“The uniform burial positioning and the absence of perimortem (around the time of death) trauma stands in contradiction to Lothrop’s interpretation of violent death at the site”, said Smith-Guzmán, who also used evidence from other archaeological sites around Panama about burial rites as part of the investigation. “There are low rates of trauma in general, and the open mouths of skeletons Lothrop noted are more easily explained by normal muscle relaxation after death and decay.”

Smith-Guzmán and Cooke’s reassessment of the Playa Venado burials suggests that ideas about widespread violence in pre-Columbian Panama need to be reconsidered. The research is part of a larger, interdisciplinary site reanalysis that will be published by the Dumbarton Oaks Museum in Washington, D.C..

See also here.