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07.02.2021 – Global Voices Online

In Trinidad & Tobago, where women are under siege, sometimes even words feel futile
A mural from Guatemala’s Safe Cities Programme, for which UN Women commissioned the images as part of the annual 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence in 2017 (Image by UN Women/Ryan Brown on Flickr, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.)

‘I want to tell you I have answers, but I don’t’

Editor’s note: Trinidad and Tobago has been experiencing an upsurge in femicides and gender-based violence for several years, some of which appears to be linked to an increase in human trafficking. On November 29, 2020, teenager Ashanti Riley was abducted by the driver of a Private Hire (PH) car; she was later found dead. Two months later, to the day, 23-year-old Andrea Bharatt was kidnapped, last seen in a taxi she had hailed to take her home after work on January 29. Since then, social media users have been sharing their anger, frustration and prayers asking, begging, for her safe return.

Trinidadian poet Shivanee Ramlochan, who wrote about both these young women and the wider issue of gender violence in a Facebook post, offers deep insight into how unsafe women are feeling. Her piece is republished in full, below.

I write poems. There is a space where the poem feels futile. That space is the several days of Andrea Bharatt’s abduction. The language of the kidnapping is its own severe metre:

“They searched the forest for the woman.
She was not found.”

Sometimes, the cruelty of the world renders the instrument of a poem mute. I wanted to write a poem for Ashanti Riley, and I could not. The kind of poem I want to write about Andrea Bharatt is a poem of return, not a poem of dreadful sorrow.

“A young woman gets into a taxi.
The taxi bears false ‘H’ plates.”

When life is hard and men are brutal, you can build a poem out of nothing but the facts. The poem writes itself around the ransom calls, the threats of severed ears, the ticking clock.

“My daughter has a rare skin condition.
I am begging, I’m begging.”

I don’t want to write anything but a series of messages to my family and my friends saying that Andrea Bharatt has been found. If I could write whatever I wanted, I would be able to say that Ashanti Riley has been unkilled, brought back to life to visit her grandmother without fear.

Instead of that, I am holding my breath. Instead of that, I refresh my Google Search throughout the day. Every time I type in ‘Andrea Bharatt’, Google suggests I add ‘found’ to my inquiry, suggesting that around our twin islands, people are typing ‘Andrea Bharatt found’ with frequency, with urgency, with desperate hope. I wish our collective hope was not desperate, but it is. It feels desperate. I don’t think I can write a poem or an essay or anything that can help against that. Then I am reminded that one of the earliest functions of poetry is prayer.

My prayer is simple.

Please may Andrea Bharatt be safe.
Please may Andrea Bharatt be unharmed.
Please may Andrea Bharatt be found.

What I want is a world where we are unkillable. I want an island where we wake up and board taxis with the certainty that we will not be abducted, that our cell phones, bank cards and toiletries will not be found in the homes of our abductors. I would like to live here and not be afraid. I want that for you, too. For you to stop getting up at three am and looking out your apartment windows into the streets where cctv can only tell people how you were hurt, not help you during the hurting. I want you not to clutch your keys like talons. I want all of this, our hundreds of disappeared countrypeople, not to make you bitter and vengeful.

I want to tell you I have answers, but I don’t. Only poems, and sometimes, lately, not even those.

May you sleep well, and deeply, where you lay your head tonight.

May the taximan whose car you enter tomorrow morning be known to you, be safe as your every breath.

Update: On February 4, police confirmed that the female body found down a precipice in the Heights of Aripo, is that of 23-year-old, Andrea Bharatt.

Written by Shivanee RamlochanShivanee Ramlochan’s 2017 poetry collection, Everyone Knows I Am a Haunting, was shortlisted for the 2018 Felix Dennis Award for best first collection.

 The original article can be found on our partner’s website here

07.02.2021 – US, United States – Democracy Now!

Will Biden Admin Reverse Trump’s “Dangerous” Recognition of Morocco’s Occupation of Western Sahara?
(Image by Democracy Now)

President Donald Trump broke with decades of U.S. foreign policy in the waning days of his administration and recognized Moroccan sovereignty over Western Sahara, a territory the country has occupied since 1975 in defiance of the United Nations and the international community. U.S. recognition came as Morocco agreed to establish diplomatic relations with Israel, becoming the fourth Arab nation to do so in recent months as part of a regional push by the Trump administration to strengthen Israel without addressing the Palestinian conflict. Now the Biden administration must weigh whether to reverse Trump’s decision on Western Sahara. “It’ll be very dangerous if Biden does not reverse Trump’s unprecedented recognition of Morocco’s takeover of Western Sahara,” says Stephen Zunes, professor of politics and international studies at the University of San Francisco. “The United Nations Charter is very clear that the expansion of territory by military force is illegitimate.”

https://www.democracynow.org/embed/story/2021/2/5/biden_trump_morocco_western_sahara

Transcript

AMY GOODMAN: We end today’s show looking at another foreign policy issue facing the Biden administration. In December, the United States became the first country in the world to recognize Morocco’s sovereignty over occupied Western Sahara — what many consider to be Africa’s last colony. Morocco has occupied much of the resource-rich territory since 1975 in defiance of the United Nations and the international community. President Trump made the announcement as Morocco agreed to establish diplomatic relations with Israel, becoming the fourth Arab nation to do so in recent months as part of what’s known as the Abraham Accords.

During Secretary of State Tony Blinken’s first news conference last week at the State Department, the AFP reporter who’s head of the State Department Correspondents’ Association, Shaun Tandon, asked Blinken about the Abraham Accords and Western Sahara.

SHAUN TANDON: And with Morocco, does the United States still recognize, as the previous administration said, Moroccan sovereignty in Western Sahara? Thank you.

SECRETARY OF STATE ANTONY BLINKEN: Thank you. Thanks very much. A couple of things on that. First, as we’ve said, we very much support the Abraham Accords. We think that Israel normalizing relations with its neighbors and other countries in the region is a very positive development. And so we applaud them, and we hope that there may be an opportunity to build on them in the months and years ahead. We’re also trying to make sure that we have a full understanding of any commitments that may have been made in securing those agreements. And that’s something we’re looking at right now.

AMY GOODMAN: That’s Secretary of State Tony Blinken.

We’re joined now by Stephen Zunes, professor of politics and international studies at the University of San Francisco, co-author of Western Sahara: War, Nationalism, and Conflict Irresolution. His recent article published in Truthout headlined “One of the Democrats’ Biggest Hawks Is Now Senate Foreign Relations Chair.”

So, it’s clear the Biden administration has not yet made up their mind about whether to draw back from what Trump did, this unprecedented move of recognizing Morocco’s sovereignty over Western Sahara in exchange for Morocco recognizing Israel. Now Morocco says they’re not going to move ahead on Israel, unless they know that the Biden administration will continue Trump’s move. Talk about the significance of all of this, Professor Zunes.

STEPHEN ZUNES: It will be very dangerous if Biden does not reverse Trump’s unprecedented recognition of Morocco’s takeover of Western Sahara. I mean, the United Nations Charter is very clear that the expansion of territory by military force is illegitimate. And Trump already made the dangerous precedent in terms of recognizing Israel’s annexation of the Golan Heights of Syria. However, the taking over an entire country brings it to a new level, especially since Western Sahara is recognized by the African Union as a full member state. Over 80 countries have recognized the independent Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic. So, essentially, what Trump was doing was to endorse the takeover of one recognized African country by another. And failure to reverse this would signal that the Biden administration shares the Trump administration’s contempt for fundamental international law.

There’s been a lot of pressure on Biden from both directions. In the Senate, you have everybody from a leading liberal like Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont to a very right-wing Senator Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma saying this is dangerous, it needs to be reversed. At the same time, because Trump tied it with Israel, he has been getting a fair amount of pressure to say, “Hey, you say you support the Abraham Accords. You say you support Morocco’s recognition of Israel. You’re putting this in jeopardy if you reverse this kind of recognition.”

So, we’re at a very critical point right now. And the fact that he hasn’t made an announcement yet seems to indicate that it could go either direction.

AMY GOODMAN: It’s interesting that though he’s spoken to a number of world leaders, from Japan to Mexico to Canada to Russia, he has not spoken to the Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu yet.

STEPHEN ZUNES: Well, it was pretty clear that Netanyahu favored Trump and that the Israeli government has been pursuing policies that the Biden administration has not supported. At the same time, Biden has reiterated that the United States will continue to send billions of dollars of unconditional, taxpayer-funded military aid to Israel regardless of their violations of international legal norms. So I think it’s one of these contradictory policies. They’re doing a little finger wagging of Israel about certain things, but knowing that the U.S. is really not going to do anything about it, about their policies.

But in terms of the lack of a phone call, I think it does indicate that relations will be somewhat frostier in certain respects. But again, I think that this idea that it’s a great triumph for these authoritarian Arab states to recognize Israel in exchange for things like massive arms sales or supporting the recognition, it’s not really a step towards peace, especially since, of course, the fundamental problem, the reason there isn’t peace, is not because of nonrecognition per se, but the fact that the Palestinians are still under occupation and have not been allowed an act of self-determination, just as the people of Western Sahara have not been allowed an act of self-determination.

AMY GOODMAN: Professor Zunes, in the last minute we have, you have written about the new Secretary of State Tony Blinken’s record. Can you share a moment of it with us?

STEPHEN ZUNES: Unfortunately, like Biden, he is very much of a hawk. He was a passionate supporter of the invasion of Iraq. And like Biden, who chaired the Senate Foreign Relations Committee when Blinken was the chief staffer, he only allowed a day and a half worth of hearings on this, the most important foreign policy issue of the past quarter-century, and stacked the witness list with war supporters. Blinken was also a big supporter of U.S. intervention in Syria and in Libya. And he’s been a big supporter of the Israeli government in its policies.

And so, unfortunately, we’ll not — sometimes the State Department has been a moderating force to more hawkish presidents, as has the head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Both Menendez, in foreign relations, and Blinken, secretary of state, are, if anything, to the right of Biden. So I think that leaves us, in the grassroots, to challenge the administration policy to make sure it doesn’t get us into trouble in terms of impetuous, interventionist policies and supporting dictatorships and occupying armies.

AMY GOODMAN: Stephen Zunes, we want to thank you for being with us, professor of politics and international studies at the University of San Francisco, co-author of Western Sahara: War, Nationalism, and Conflict Irresolution.

 The original article can be found on our partner’s website here

Potrebbe essere un'immagine raffigurante una o più persone e il seguente testo "TRUTH AND JUSTICE FOR GIULIO REGENI VERITA' PER GIULIO"

Thousands of Students Demonstrate Against the Education Bill
(Photo: Chrysoula Patsou)

Text/photos: Chrysoula Patsou

There was a strong presence, thousands of students in more than ten cities in Greece in response to the tremendous changes which are coming to universities and to secondary education – with a change in the rules of admission, a drastic reduction of admissions, and university police – in the middle of a pandemic.

More specifically, the demonstrators are calling for the withdrawal of the bill which concerns the introduction of a minimum level for admission in AEI (Higher Educational Institutions in Greece i.e. universities), the establishment of a body of guards at universities, and the abolition of “eternal” students. Among the demands is also the canceling of the decision to ban rallies. In an announcement, the Executive Committee of the Civil Servants’ Confederation calls upon trade union leaders to mark their presence, taking all the necessary protective measures.

As the Civil Servants’ Confederation points out in its announcement:

“The government of Mr. Mitsotakis under the pretext of the pandemic is strengthening its hold on repression and authoritarianism, seeking a general silencing of Greek society. In fact, at the moment, as it is sweeping away workers’ rights, not protecting public health, massacring social security, it introduces an education bill which puts still more obstacles in the way of children of the most vulnerable social levels, “pushes” youngsters into private colleges and creates a police regime in universities.”

The Greek Federation of Secondary Education State School Teachers demands the withdrawal of the bill and opposes the establishment of a minimum level for admission, and also the establishment of a university police force, noting that “a regime of repression and policing is being installed at universities”.

Translation by Jeannette A. Arduino,  from the voluntary Pressenza translation team. We are looking for volunteers!

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Dietrich Bonhoeffer

We must act and dare the appropiateness and not whatever comes to our mind not floating in the likelihood but grasp the reality as brave as we can be freedom lies in action not in the absence of mind obedience knows the essence of good and satisfies it, freedom dares to act and returns God the ultimate judgment of what is right and what is wrong, Obedience performs blindly but Freedom is wide awake Freedom wants to know why, Obedience has its hands tied, Freedom is inventive obedient man respects God’s commands and by virtu of his Freedom, he creats new commands. Both Obedience and Freedom come true in responsability (Dietrich Bonhoeffer)

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