GPAX Committee Statement On the Imprisonment of Julian Assange

The United States Government is engaged in a campaign of personal destruction directed at Wikileaks publisher Julian Assange. Under the cover of questionable legal arguments, The US has carried out a relentless, multifaceted, punitive program aimed at making an example of an Internet publisher who has challenged the power of the US national security establishment. Through the actions of the US government, Assange has been stripped of his political asylum, imprisoned by the UK, and is awaiting extradition to the US to face espionage charges with a penalty of life imprisonment. He is being held in Belmarsh prison, a high-security facility, officially for the minor crime of a bail violation but for the ultimate purpose of rendition to the US. Assange was recently moved to the hospital wing at Belmarsh, and reports indicate he is in poor health.

 

A large segment of the public has been turned against Assange by a smear campaign conducted through mass media outlets with friendly ties to the national security agencies. The UN has issued a report in which Nils Melzer, the UN Special Rapporteur on torture said that Assange has been exposed to psychological torture. According the UN report, “In the course of the past nine years, Mr. Assange has been exposed to persistent, progressively severe abuse ranging from systematic judicial persecution and arbitrary confinement in the Ecuadorian embassy, to his oppressive isolation, harassment and surveillance inside the embassy, and from deliberate collective ridicule, insults and humiliation, to open instigation of violence and even repeated calls for his assassination.”

 

Assange has been called a rapist, a narcissist, and a spy with “blood on his hands.” The bloodiest hands in American media belong to those who participated in selling the American instigated wars that have ripped apart Iraq, Libya, and Syria. Journalists who eagerly repeated the lies that led to the Iraq war now attack Assange’s consistently truthful reporting of America’s misdeeds. American intelligence officials, who have publicly lied to Congress without consequences, are leading the attack on Assange, a man who, until his isolation and imprisonment, had been reliably reporting inconvenient truths about America’s secret activities. US politicians refuse to hold the CIA and other secret agencies accountable for past and present misdeeds. Senator Schumer of New York openly warned his congressional colleagues against opposing the national security agencies: “Let me tell you: You take on the intelligence community — they have six ways from Sunday at getting back at you.” How far are we from the model of the old USSR in which everyone feared the secret police?

 

In addition to seeking to punish Assange with life in prison, the US government intends to use his prosecution under the Espionage Act as a weapon against the free press. Because conventional news organizations regularly publish secret information that has been leaked by informants and whistleblowers, the same arguments used to prosecute Assange can be used to convict journalists for the New York Times or the Washington Post. If Assange is convicted under this law, reporting on anything the US government classifies as secret will come to a halt. Powerful intelligence agencies like the CIA, not content with intimidating their timid political watchdogs, are seeking to eliminate the oversight of a free press.

 

The assault on Julian Assange is nothing less than an attack on the truth and a threat to global security. A world in which the US government secretly pursues hostile actions, unchecked by any independent oversight, is a danger to all mankind. Julian Assange has served the interests of the people of the world by truthfully revealing activities that undermine peace and security. The Peace Action Committee of the Green Party of the United States calls upon the US Justice Department to drop all charges against Julian Assange, and we call upon the UK government to release Assange from prison.

Kevin Zeese: Greens Show Leadership Against US Coup In Venezuela

By Kevin Zeese, Popular Resistance

Above photo: Embassy Protection Collective members before they were arrested: Margaret Flowers, Kevin Zeese, Adrienne Pine and David Paul from the People’s Dispatch. All four voted for Stein-Baraka in 2016.

One of the things the final four people in the Venezuelan Embassy who were arrested had in common was that they all voted for Stein-Baraka in 2016. Two of us were Greens (Margaret Flowers and me) and two were independents. The participation of Greens in the Embassy Protection Collective once again shows how the Green Party of the United States is the party of the popular movement in the United States.

The Embassy Protection Collective was a unique event in US history. US peace activists going into a foreign embassy in Washington, DC to protect Venezuela from a US coup. We issued a Declaration of the Embassy Protection Collective that explains why we took the actions we did. Three days before the police violated international law to illegally evict and arrest us we told the State Department there was a legal path to resolving this dispute, i.e. mutual Protecting Power Agreements between the US and Venezuela to allow a third country to protect the vacant US embassy in Caracas and the Venezuelan embassy in Washington, DC. We still hope such a mutual agreement will be put in place.

Margaret is a co-chair of the Green Party of the United States and ran for US Senate in 2016. I have been a Green since 2000,  a member of the Coordinating Committee of the Green Party and a Green Party US Senate candidate in 2006.  Margaret and I were not the only Greens involved in the Embassy Protection Collective. Many Greens were involved both inside and outside of the embassy. The Collective included Greens and non-Greens, often the role of Green Party activists goes unnoticed in the media, so I want to highlight some of the work of Greens in this initiative.

The Secret Service allowed a pro-coup mob to surround the embassy, assault, threaten and try to intimidate members of the Collective into leaving, and let them block food entering the embassy.  During this siege I noticed there were Greens from multiple states including Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Maryland, Greens joined us outside from Connecticut, DC, and Virginia.  We were not there as Greens but as people who are part of the movement for economic, racial and environmental justice, as well as peace. The Green Party takes strong positions against militarism and anti-imperialism and many of its members are part of peace and justice movements.

Poor Peoples Army called for water turned to be back on the embassy as well as sought to deliver food and flowers to Embassy Protectors from Poor Peoples Economic and Human Rights Campaign.

Past Two Vice Presidential Candidates Show Up to Provide Food, Water and Flowers

In fact, both Green Party vice presidential candidates in the 2016 and 2012 elections, Ajamu Baraka the national coordinator of the Black Alliance for Peace and Cheri Honkala of the Poor People’s Economic and Human Rights Campaign, played leadership roles in the Collective outside of the embassy.

Honkala came with the Poor Peoples Army and attempted to get food into the embassy as well as bring us flowers on Mother’s Day. They attempted to put food in a bag we had thrown from a second-floor window. The rope was grabbed by both the pro-coup protesters and the police. The police cut the rope and the food was not able to be delivered. After the attempt, the Poor People’s Army had a confrontation with police outside the embassy where they accused them of violating the human rights of Embassy Protectors. They argued that denial of food, water and electricity was putting people at risk, many of the same challenges poor people face every day.

In addition, the Poor People’s Army protested at PEPCO, the DC power company that shut off the electricity in the embassy, which also resulted in the electric pumps needed for water being unable to operate. The people inside the embassy noted the aggressive action of Honkala and her team. On the morning we were arrested, we heard the Poor People’s Army was making a return visit and we were looking forward to seeing their support and showing our love for their efforts on our behalf. Unfortunately, we were arrested before they arrived.

The Black Alliance for Peace (BAP) played an integral role in the Collective. In the early phases of our living in the embassy when we are holding nightly forums and cultural events, members of the Black Alliance for Peace who are members of Pan-African Community Action(PACA) joined us for a forum on the militarization of Africa and then need to end Africom, the US Africa Command.

Embassy Protection Collective, Black Alliance for Peace members at the White House after marching from the Venezuelan embassy.

Members were regular attendees at the forums and also were part of the outside Collective. They consistently joined activists on a daily basis to show support for stopping the US coup and protecting the Venezuelan Embassy from takeover.

Earlier this year we traveled to Venezuela with Ajamu Baraka as part of a peace delegationorganized by the US Peace Council. Ajamu is a close ally and advisor to Popular Resistance who has been integral in our work that led to stopping the Trump Military Parade, developing the Peace Congress, building the US Coalition Against Foreign Military Basesand with the United National Antiwar Coalition.

Baraka was at the embassy the day that Rev. Jesse Jackson came to support us. Baraka knows Jackson from his two presidential runs and joined him and other members of the Collective in helping to deliver food to the embassy. As you can see in the video below, there was a scuffle with a pro-coup supporter who tried to pull a bag of food out of Jackson’s hands as well as wrapped the rope to pull the bag to the second floor around his arms. Baraka can be seen battling with the pro-couper along with another Maryland Green Party member, Paul Pumphrey of Friends of the Congo, and others in order to successfully deliver four bags of food into the embassy.

Colorado Green, Andrea Mérida Cuéllar, who is also a co-chair of the Green Party of the United States, summarized the role of Greens and our former vice presidential candidates in a Facebook post, writing:

“It was Greens from all over the eastern seaboard who held space outside and fought the police and the Venezuelan expatriate gusano fascists to bring food to the defenders. It was a Green Vice Presidential candidate who fought with the power company to turn the electricity back on. It was another Green Vice Presidential candidate who dragged the fascists away so that Jesse Jackson could deliver sustenance to our defenders.”

Hawkins speaking at No To NATO protest at the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial on April 4, 2019.

Green Presidential Nominee Front-Runner, Howie Hawkins, Speaks Out Against US Imperialism

One of the founders of the Green Party, Howie Hawkins, who is currently exploring a run for president in 2020, wrote three blog posts on his website supporting the Embassy Protection Collective and opposing the US coup in Venezuela.

On April 24, two weeks after we entered the embassy, Hawkins, who is known for being the first candidate to run on a full-fledged Green New Deal, wrote about how the US should not be threatening war against Venezuela for oil especially during a time of climate crisis. Hawkins wrote more clearly than any presidential candidate about the US economic war, theft of Venezuela’s wealth, the impact of sanctions, opposition to the US coup as well as US threats of war. Hawkins strongly opposed US imperialism against Venezuela which he correctly described as bi-partisan.  He described Trump’s open comments about stealing Venezuelan oil from early in his presidency and put his false comments on Venezuela in context, writing:

All Trump talk about restoring human rights and democracy in Venezuela are just more lies. Trump doesn’t support them in the US. He orders the violation of human rights against asylum seekers at the US border. He constantly spouts racist tropes and incites violence against minorities and political opponents. He supports voter suppression and opposes verifiable vote-counting laws.

The next day, Hawkins highlighted a study released by the Center for Economic and Policy Research that found that there were 40,000 deaths from 2017 to 2018 as a result of US economic sanctions which are illegal under international law.

The day we were arrested, April 16, Hawkins put out an excellent statement describing how international law had been violated by the US invading the embassy. He mentioned Margaret Flowers and me since we are both volunteering for his exploratory campaign, and put the US action in historical context writing;

The arrests show that the US is a rogue state. Violating the diplomatic immunity of the Venezuelan embassy takes the US back before the 1200s, when Genghis Khan’s Eurasian empire brought the notion of inviolable diplomatic immunity to a West that was riddled at the time with endemic warfare and banditry among the feuding feudal fiefdoms. Trump—and his Republican and Democratic minions alike—have taken us back nearly a millennium to the Dark Ages.

We are grateful that the Green Party is likely to have a nominee in the 2020 election cycle who understands the importance of international law and stands against US imperialism and empire.

In 2020 We Must Make US Regime Change Unacceptable and Work To End US Empire

We intend to build on the action at the embassy so that the political consensus in the United States opposes the US coup and threats of military action against Venezuela. The Green Party will be speaking out in 2020 as they always have been against war, militarism and regime change. We will be calling for cuts to the military budget and putting the necessities of the people and planet before war.

The Embassy Protectors and our allies intend to build a movement that will make it impossible for any candidate of any party to support the US coup in Venezuela. We will be escalating our actions against the US coup and organizing national and international days of action leading to a mass protest on September 21 in New York City when the UN General Assembly is meeting.

This campaign against the Venezuela coup and threats of militarism around the world is part of an ongoing effort to end US empire as quickly and responsibly as possible so the US stops creating global chaos and destruction. The people of the United States need to understand that the Empire Economy does not work for them or the people of the world and needs to come to an end.

Original post: https://independentpoliticalreport.com/2019/05/greens-show-leaderhship-against-us-coup-in-venezuela/

A Military Psy-Ops Campaign in the Heart of Washington is Directed at U.S. Citizens

Nonviolent ActivismNorth AmericaSouth America

By Pat Elder, World BEYOND War, May 6, 2019

A fortified door inside the Venezuelan Embassy.

I’ve been studying the Pentagon’s use of psychological tactics in the way it recruits youth into the armed forces for 20 years, so I have a sense of the lack of boundaries practiced by the US government through its military. Now I can report on the psychological tactics employed by the State Department through the Secret Service Police. I spent a week in the besieged Venezuelan Embassy in Washington, and I was exposed to a relentless psychological operations campaign (psy-ops) orchestrated by my government to drive peace activists like myself from the embassy.

Our attorney, Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, addressed the severity of the threat to us in her May 3rd letter to the Secret Service Police, in which she wrote:

“At this moment, the violent mob that you have allowed to continually  commit acts of violence against persons and property at the Venezuelan embassy is actively working to smash in the doors while your officers give permission to the assault and explicitly refuse to intervene.

“As you know, and your officers have witnessed, members of this mob have   physically attacked and made death threats to the peace activists who are   inside and around the embassy. This presence inside the embassy, as you also know, is lawful, as the peace activists were invited inside the embassy by those lawfully in charge of the premises.

“There has been no action that has divested them of the right to be inside the  embassy or lawful process that could authorize removal.

“Instead you are authorizing a vigilante group to attack the peace activists inside.

“You must take action immediately to cease this assault and ensure that there is no violence against the persons inside. They are in grave danger from the mob you have facilitated and authorized to besiege the embassy.

“You are responsible for any acts of violence that will be committed against these peace activists inside the embassy.”

Physical harm and the fear of death stir the greatest terror in our hearts. These kinds of operations are designed to frame the image of an impending disaster, like being pummeled to death by an angry mob. You think it can’t happen here, but you quickly correct yourself, realizing the United States under Donald Trump is capable of orchestrating such a scenario.

There are apparently no enforced audio level limits in the District of Columbia from 6:00 am to 10:00 pm. The decibel level from the outside cacophony rattle the windows.  I feel badly for the residents of the adjacent James Place Condominium who endure the same audio onslaught.

The psy-ops campaign is being directed by one individual who arrived several days before the orchestrated onslaught began on April 30. That was the day when fake ambassador Carlos Vecchio arrived to claim the embassy for Juan Guaido, the make-believe president, designated by the U.S. government. The Vecchio embassy coup attempt was foiled by a poor turnout and a surprisingly strong showing of those who support our mission and adherence to international law.

I spoke to the man in charge of this psy-op campaign on several occasions, before he took command after the Vecchio visit. It’s best not to divulge the name he gave me.  He stood a little taller than 6 feet, likely of Spanish/European descent. He was perhaps 55 with leathery skin, a three-day beard, with seriously graying hair and dark sun glasses. He wore black jeans and a tattered, green military jacket. He sat for hours alone, writing on a yellow legal pad what he said were philosophical responses to deep questions. For several days, he was camped with peace activists at the main entrance to the embassy.

He spoke of philosophers and history from the early colonial period and he ran down a brief overview of political philosophers. His politics seemed muddled, even contradictory. I pulled away from him after our second 15-minute exchange, wondering where he was coming from. What he said didn’t fit. I was puzzled. He was accompanied by a screaming, seemingly crazy lady who only shouted at the top of her lungs and repeated the same lines over-and-over again. “Maduro is a criminal.” “This is not your fight.” “This is our embassy.” She screamed for four or five twelve-hour days before Vecchio arrived when she was joined by three or four dozen protesters who took orders from the tattered general and stayed on the premises for long hours and returned every day.

I witnessed three women wearing designer clothes emerge from a late-model Mercedes to join the fracas and take on tasks delegated by the general.

Once the operation got under way, lieutenants would report, and he would dispatch the necessary tools to carry out various operations.

The first line of attack in this military campaign was the emergency siren. Four of these torturous devices were allowed to blare on each side of the building, with the intensity of a passing ambulance. Odysseus of old ordered his men to use beeswax to plug their ears from the potentially lethal wales of the Sirens, while some of us used ear plugs and others retreated to interior rooms.  Wee-ooh  wee-ooh, from 6:00 am to 10 pm.

The second assault used air-powered cans that emit an amazingly loud, piercing noise often heard after touchdowns are scored at high school football games. They’d point their blasters at us when we looked out the window. Several of these have been continuously employed since Vecchio’s visit. I spotted a box full of these devices on the embassy grounds.

Several bull horns were activated to emit a grating, high pitched noise. The well- dressed women, after inserting earplugs, took on these jobs, at least for part of one evening.

There were always two or three outside who used bullhorns to constantly repeat a few lines of their propaganda. “You must leave the embassy now.”  “You are violating the law!”   Maduro is a criminal.” “This is not your fight.” It was irritating, but it didn’t move us. One lady, with a loud, shrieking voice, sounding hysterical, screamed repeatedly at the top of her lungs, “You are with the criminals.” “You are with the murderers!”

Rarely did more than a few hours go by before one of our supporters outside was assaulted. The police allowed the assaults to occur. After one attack, when a man in his 70’s, who was attempting to deliver toothbrushes to us, was knocked to the ground semi-conscious, a crowd of 50 cheered his injury and all of the sirens came together to celebrate his writhing body.  Each time there’s a beating, chaos reigns and hell breaks loose. It’s an attempt to orchestrate chaos, intending to instill panic and terror.  It’s textbook stuff.

The mob covered up all of the first-floor windows with anti-Maduro/ pro Guiado posters, blocking our view. They smashed the security cameras to knock out our ability to see what was going on.  It never affected us, though, because we were confident of the security improvements we improvised around the doors, windows, and large vents. The place is a fortress. Thankfully, the embassy has a large machine tool workroom with an array of power tools and materials. We boarded up doors and secured bottom floor and 2nd story windows with 4-inch screws, while the attacking force relentlessly pounded away, demanding we leave immediately.

The loudest decibels were probably registered by the incessant pounding on several bottom-floor metal doors with hammers, rocks, and large iron frying pans. The right-wing insurgents worked in groups of a half dozen or so, taking turns pounding on several doors.

At one point on Friday evening about 50 vigilantes converged at a basement door while their incessant banging shook the door frame and the walls. There were no DC Metropolitan Police or Secret Service visibly present. The police had retreated into the adjacent James Place Condominium. Several of us called 911 and were immediately referred to the Secret Service Police when we provided the address of 1099 30th St., NW Washington, DC. Apparently, the DC police have jurisdiction over the streets and sidewalks, while the Secret Service Police are responsible for maintaining the security of the embassies.  I explained to the Secret Service officer on the phone that the mob was damaging the door while there were no police present. I explained that they were using rocks and hammers and a frying pan. “A frying pan?” said the Secret Service officer. “Were they cooking up anything good?” I said, “Let’s cut to the heart of the matter. Are you guaranteeing our safety or not?” he replied by asking under whose authority we were in the building and I responded that we were invited in by the government of Venezuela and he said we were not. He said we were illegally trespassing. I again asked him if it was the intention of the police to protect our safety and he replied that we were there illegally, and he again asked what they were cooking in that frying pan.

I am an American citizen, a fifth-generation Washingtonian, from a family of professional federal workers dating back to the 19th century. In the heart of Georgetown, I was subjected to a dystopian psychological operation that would have horrified my ancestors who helped create the federal structures dedicated to a separation of powers, governmental transparency, and the rule of law.  I tremble for the fate of the world as fascism takes hold in the United States of America.

URGENT CALL TO THE COLOMBIAN GOVERNMENT IN THE HEAD OF PRESIDENT IVAN DUQUE MÁRQUEZ

“SOS! SOS! SOS! SOS! OUR INDIGENOUS FAMILIES ARE BEING EXTERMINATED! MASSACRED RIGHT NOW! THE COLOMBIAN GOVERNMENT HAS SENT IN THE ARMY AND IS MURDERING THE MINGA COMMUNITY! SOS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
GOD HELP US!!!! ASKING FOR PRAYERS!!! CONSCIOUSNESS!!!! PLEASE HUMANITY WAKE UP!!!!”

Urián Sarmiento

April 3 at 5:25 PM

Urgent Mayday

Concentration of the minga for the defense of life, territory, democracy, justice and peace, of the finca Emmanuel in morales cauca is attacked with firearms indiscriminately by troops of the national army

Santiago de Cali, April 03, 2019

We make an URGENT CALL TO THE COLOMBIAN GOVERNMENT IN THE HEAD OF PRESIDENT IVAN DUQUE MÁRQUEZ, and to national and international agencies that defend human rights in order to Sue in first instance the protection of the life and integrity of indigenous, peasant and sectors communities People who participate in minga for the defense of life, territory, democracy, justice and peace.

Being 12:30 p.m. on April 03, 2019, the indigenous and peasants who were concentrated in the Emmanuel Estate of the town of morales – cauca, were violently attacked with firearms by troops of the National Army, Finding yourself trapped in the territory because of the shots. The public force came to the place, burning the tents and belongings of the community, also entered the neighboring houses of the point of concentration to attack the inhabitants, in the midst of the facts, is seriously injured the governor of the indigenous cabildo of cerro Scissors Rubén Cuetia and some minors, at the moment there is no additional information of the number of injuries and the state of health of them.

We make a call to dd defenders. HH. National and international, the high commissioner for DD. HH. From the un, to the inter-American commission of DD. HH., to the un verification mission, to the mission of supporting the peace process in Colombia of the oas, to the National Commission of DD. HH. From The Senate of the Republic, to the office of the ombudsman and to the attorney general of the nation, so that, within the framework of its functions and competences, accompany the communities and families affected by this fact.

#MINGASOCIALSUROCCIDENTE2019

VENEZUELA REPORT BACK LIVESTREAM THURSDAY March 21, 2019 7 PM


When we talked with Venezuelans they told us how pleased they were people from the United States were in Venezuela and could see what was really happening in their country. They wanted us to return to the United States and tell the truth about Venezuela — that is exactly what we will be doing.

There is more false information in the US mass media than there is the truth. The people of the United States are being misled in order to create support for the Trump intervention in Venezuela which includes the economic war, an attack on the electrical system and the threat of war and militarism.

We will report on what we saw in Venezuela. When the US was claiming there was widespread civil unrest when in fact there was calm. When the US claimed there were people starving and homeless, we saw healthy people, food distribution programs, urban food gardens and millions of social housing units built in the midst of an economic war. There were no starving Venezuelans.

While the US pushed the farce Juan Guaido as a coup president, the reality was Guaido’s self-appointment violated the Constitution of Venezuela. Guaido is the butt of jokes in Venezuela with very little support among the population while Maduro is seen as working for the necessities of people and fighting against US imperialism.

The peace delegation was organized by the US Peace Council and COSI (the Committee for International Solidarity). We spent time in the barrio’s, shantytowns, on the streets, food cooperatives and at rallies and talked to many Venezuelans.

We will also report on a 90-minute private meeting our delegation had with President Maduro, as well as meetings with the National Electoral Council, the Foreign Ministry, the Ministry of Urban Farming, Ministry of Peace and the Health Ministry.

Join us so you can learn what is really happening in Venezuela and share the information widely.

The panel will include:

Margaret Flowers, co-director of Popular Resistance

Kevin Zeese co-director of Popular Resistance

Joe Lombardo, national organizer of the United National Antiwar Coalition
Original Article: https://popularresistance.org/venezuela-report-back-livestream-thursday-7-pm/

Another report direct from Kevin Zeese: https://independentpoliticalreport.com/2019/03/greens-report-on-their-peace-delegation-to-venezuela/

U.S. Peace Activists in Venezuela: Nothing to Fear

U.S. Peace Council in Venezuela.
Send it to your TV and newspapers and all your social media. We must stop the US from doing this to Venezuela.

The Black Alliance for Peace joined activists from peace organizations based in the United States to embark as a delegation to Venezuela to uncover the truth. They are reporting to you today, the day they were supposed to fly back to the United States. While American Airlines refuses to fly to Venezuela because of so-called danger, this delegation found the embattled country pleasant and safe.

Video credit: Popular Resistance

Learn more about the U.S. intervention in Venezuela: https://blackallianceforpeace.com/newsletter/bapheadstovenezuela

Yemeni War Deaths Have Been Underestimated by 5 to 1

Civilian casualties in the three-year horror in Yemen has been vastly underestimated by mainstream organizations, reports Nicolas Davies.

Total Deaths in Yemen
Top More Than 100,000

By Nicolas J. S. Davies

An NGO responsible for reporting on war deaths in Yemen has acknowledged that it has underestimated the casualties in the three-year-old conflict by at least five to one.

Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project had originally estimated that about 10,000 people had been killed in the war in Yemen, roughly the same number reported by the World Health Organization. WHO surveys are regularly cited as estimates of war deaths in Yemen by UN agencies and the world’s media.  But ACLED now estimates the true number of people killed in Yemen is probably between 70,000 and 80,000.

ACLED’s estimates do not include the thousands of Yemenis who have died from the war’s indirect consequences, such as starvation and preventable diseases like diphtheria and cholera. UNICEF reported in December 2016 that a child was dying every 10 minutes in Yemen, and the humanitarian crisis has only worsened since then.  At that rate the total of all deaths caused directly and indirectly by the war must by now be more than one hundred thousand.

Yemen: More civilian deaths than previously reported. (Abdo Hyder/AFP/Getty Images)

Another NGO, the Yemen Data Project, revealed in September 2016 that at least a third of Saudi-led airstrikes, many of which involve U.S.-built and (until Friday U.S.-refueled warplanes) using U.S.-made bombs, were hitting hospitals, schools, markets, mosques, and other civilian targets. This has left at least half the hospitals and health facilities in Yemen damaged or destroyed, according to the Yemen Data Project, leaving them hardly able to treat the casualties of the war or serve their communities, let alone to compile meaningful figures for the WHO’s surveys.

Even comprehensive surveys of fully functioning hospitals would capture only a fraction of the violent deaths in a war-torn country like Yemen, where most of those killed in the war do not die in hospitals. And yet the UN and the world’s media have continued to cite the WHO surveys as reliable estimates of the total number of people killed in Yemen.

Dramatically Wrong

In a three-part series for Consortium News in April, I claimed that such estimates of civilian deaths in U.S. war zones were likely to be  dramatically wrong  because that is what epidemiologists have found whenever they have conducted serious mortality studies based on well-established statistical principles in war zones around the world.

Epidemiologists recently used some of the same techniques to estimate that about 3,000 people died as a result of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. Studies in war-ravaged Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo have been widely cited by Western political leaders and the Western media with no hint of controversy.

Some of the same public health experts who had worked in Rwanda and Congo used the same methods to estimate how many people had been killed as a result of the U.S. and U.K.’s invasion and occupation of Iraq. In two studies they published in the Lancet medical journal in 2004 and 2006, they found that about 600,000 people had been killed in the first three years of war and occupation.

White and red flags, representing Iraqi and American deaths, in the quad of Oregon State University campus. (Wikimedia Commons)

Broad  acceptance of these results would have been politically disastrous for the U.S. and UK governments. It would also have further discredited the Western media that had supported the invasion of Iraq and were still blaming the Iraqi victims of the illegal invasion of their country for the violence and chaos of the occupation.  The British Defence Ministry’s chief scientific advisor described theLancet studies’ design as “robust” and their methods as “close to best practice,” and British officials admitted privately that they were “likely to be right.  The U.S. and UK governments nonetheless launched a concerted campaign to discredit them.

No Scientific Basis

In 2005, as American and British officials and their acolytes in the corporate media discounted his work, Les Roberts, the lead author of the 2004 study, told the UK media watchdog Media Lens, “It is odd that the logic of epidemiology embraced by the press every day regarding new drugs or health risks somehow changes when the mechanism of death is their armed forces.”

Roberts, at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health at the time of the 2004 study and now at Columbia, accurately said there was no legitimate scientific basis for the objections being raised to his work and its results. But it was not so odd that embattled political leaders would use all the tools at their disposal to try to salvage their careers and reputations—and to preserve the U.S. and UK’s future freedom of action to destroy countries that stand in their way.

By 2005, most Western journalists in Iraq were hunkered down in Baghdad’s fortified Green Zone, reporting mainly from the CENTCOM briefing room. If they ventured out, they were embedded with U.S. forces traveling by helicopter or armored convoy between fortified U.S.bases. Dahr Jamail was one of a few brave, un-embedded Americans reporting from Iraq. (He later named his book about his time there Beyond the Green Zone.) Dahr told me he thought the true number of Iraqis killed might well be even higher than the Lancet studies’ estimates and that it was certainly not much lower, as the Western propaganda machine insisted it was.

Unlike Western governments and the Western media in the  Iraq case, and UN agencies and the same Western media in Afghanistan and Yemen, ACLED does not defend its earlier, inadequate estimates of war deaths in Yemen. Instead, it is conducting a thorough review of its sources to come up with a more realistic estimate of how many people have been killed. Working back from the present, it now estimates that 56,000 people have been killed since January 2016.

Andrea Carboni of ACLED told Patrick Cockburn of The Independent newspaper in Britain that he believes ACLED’s estimate of the number killed in three and a half years of war on Yemen will be between 70,000 and 80,000 once it has finished reviewing its sources back to March 2015, when Saudi Arabia, the U.S., and their allies started the war.

But the true number of people killed in Yemen is inevitably even higher than ACLED’s revised estimate. As I explained in my Consortium News report, no such effort to count the dead by reviewing media reports, hospital records, and other “passive” sources, no matter how thoroughly, can ever fully count the dead amid the widespread violence and chaos of a country ravaged by war.

This is why epidemiologists have developed statistical techniques to produce more accurate estimates of how many people have really been killed in the world’s war zones. The world still waits for that kind of genuine accounting of the true human cost of the Saudi-U.S. war in Yemen and, indeed, of all America’s post-9/11 wars.

Original articles: https://consortiumnews.com/2018/11/12/yemeni-war-deaths-have-been-underestimated-by-5-to-1/

https://www.counterpunch.org/2018/11/09/106941/

A earlier version of this article appeared on CounterPunch.

Nicolas J.S. Davies is the author of Blood On Our Hands: the American Invasion and Destruction of Iraq. He also wrote the chapter on “Obama at War” in Grading the 44th President: a Report Card on Barack Obama’s First Term as a Progressive Leader.

VENEZUELA: WHAT ACTIVISTS NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE US-LED COUP

By Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers, Popular Resistance

| , NEWSLETTER

Above photo: John Zangas, DC Media Group.

Two things stand out about the US coup in Venezuela. First, it is unusually open. Typically, the US tries to hide its coups. Second, the coup is built on a series of obvious falsehoods, yet the bi-partisans in Washington, with a few exceptions, keep repeating them.

First, we will correct the falsehoods so readers are all working from the same facts. Second, we will describe how this coup is being defeated. It will be another major embarrassment for the Trump administration and US foreign policy.

It is important to understand Venezuela has become a geopolitical conflict as Russia and China are closely allied with Venezuela. China and Russia coming into the backyard of the United States challenges the antiquated Monroe Doctrine.

Venezuela has the largest oil reserves in the world and the second largest gold reserves, as well as diamonds and other minerals such as coltan (needed for electronic devices). And, Venezuela is taking over as president of OPEC and will be in a position to push for oil payments in non-dollar currencies or in cryptocurrencies, a major threat to the US dollar.

A protest outside the United States Consulate in Sydney on January 23 to demand no US intervention in Venezuela. Photo: Peter Boyle

Correcting the Record

There are a series of false statements repeated by DC officials and corporate media to justify the coup that are so obvious, it is hard to believe they are not intentional. In his two-paragraph comment on the coup, even Senator Bernie Sanders repeated them.

1. Truth: President Nicolás Maduro is the legitimate president.

President Maduro was re-elected on May 20, 2018, in response to the opposition demanding an early election. The legitimacy of the election of Maduro is so evident that it must be assumed those who say he is illegitimate are either intentionally false or ignorant. The election was scheduled consistent with the Venezuelan Constitution and in consultation with opposition parties. When it became evident that the opposition could not win the election, they decided, under pressure from the United States, to boycott the election in order to undermine its legitimacy. The facts are 9,389,056 people voted, 46% of eligible voters. Sixteen parties participated in the election with six candidates competing for the presidency.

The electoral process was observed by more than 150 election observers. This included 14 electoral commissions from eight countries among them the Council of Electoral Experts of Latin America; two technical electoral missions; and 18 journalists from different parts of the world, among others. According to the international observers, “the elections were very transparent and complied with international parameters and national legislation.”

Venezuela has one of the best electoral systems in the world. Voter fraud is not possible as identification and fingerprints are required for each voter. Voting machines are audited before and immediately after the election. Venezuela does something no other country in the world does — a public, citizen’s audit of a random sample of 53% of voting machines that is televised. All 18 parties signed the audits.

Maduro won by a wide margin, obtaining 6,248,864 votes, 67.84%; followed by Henri Falcón with 1,927,958, 20.93%; Javier Bertucci with 1,015,895, 10.82%; and Reinaldo Quijada, who obtained 36,246 votes, 0.39% of the total.

This same voting system has been used in elections that Maduro’s party has lost in governor’s and legislative elections. Venezuela is a real democracy with transparent elections. The United States could learn a good deal about real democracy from Venezuela.

2. Truth: The economic crisis is caused by outside intervention, internal sabotage and the decline in oil prices.

There is no doubt the economic situation in Venezuela is dire. The cause is the economic war conducted by the United States, the major decline in oil prices and economic sabotage by the opposition. In essence, the United States and opposition created problems in the Venezuelan economy and now say Maduro must be replaced because of problems they created.

Oil was discovered in Venezuela in the early part of the 20th Century and has dominated the economy since then. The Dutch Disease, the negative impact of an economy based on one natural resource, causes a sharp inflow of foreign currency, which raises the value of the country’s currency, making the country’s other products less price competitive. It is cheaper to import products rather than create them. This makes it more difficult for segments of the economy like agriculture and manufacturing to develop.

Chavez/Maduro sought to diversify the economy. They put in place thousands of communes and hundreds of thousands of people working in cooperatives to build agriculture and manufacturing. When the global price of oil was cut by more than half, it collapsed Venezuela’s public finances undermining these efforts. The economic war by the US made it difficult for Venezuela to borrow and trade with some countries.

Economic sanctions against Venezuela began under President Obama, and the Trump administration escalated them with financial sanctions. United States sanctions cost Venezuela some $6 billion since August, according to an October analysis. Measures against the nation’s oil industry have prohibited the Venezuelan majority-owned company, CITGO, from sending profits back to Venezuela, a $1 billion loss to the government yearly. Now, the Bank of England is refusing to return $1.2 billion in gold reserves after US officials, including Secretary of State Michael Pompeo and National Security Adviser John Bolton, lobbied them to cut Venezuela off from its overseas assets.

The US economic war and sabotage of the economy by business interests has been exposed as part of the effort to remove Maduro by creating social unrest and lack of confidence in the government.  This has included hoarding of goods, storing essentials in warehouses and selling Venezuelan goods in Colombia.

In September 2018, Venezuela pointed to a false media campaign exaggerating migration from Venezuela. They highlighted statistics from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to affirm that Venezuela has the fewest volunteer migrants in the continent. They pointed out 5.6 million Colombians have fled violence in their country and live in Venezuela. Venezuela has programs that have helped thousands of Venezuelans return home.

Socialism strengthens economies, as demonstrated in Portugal. Indeed, one criticism of Venezuela is that the Bolivarian Process is moving too slowly to put in place a socialist economy. There is a need for more sectors to be nationalized and put under democratic control of the people.

3. Truth: The opposition is violent, not the Maduro government.

Opposition protesters have been extremely violent. One tactic of the opposition was to be violent and then film the government’s response to make the government look violent. When Abby Martin was confronted by opposition protesters, they told her, “Do not film anything that we do. Just film what the government does to us.” She reported on the violence saying, “the vast majority has been caused by either indirect or direct violence by the opposition.”

Martin reports the opposition attacked hospitals, burned down the Housing Ministry, assassinated Chavistas and attacked citizen communes such as an art commune that gave free dance and music lessons to local children. Afro-Venezuelans were burned alive. Protesters pulled drivers out of buses and torched the buses. When photos and videos of opposition violence were put on social media, Martin and her colleague, Mike Prysner, became the target of a false media campaign on social media. The opposition did all they could to prevent them from reporting the truth using hundreds of death threats and threats they would be lynched.

In 2017, Venezuela Analysis reported that violent opposition protests included an attack on a maternity hospital endangering the lives of more than 50 newborn babies. Another report described the opposition using snipers to shoot government officials and civilians. Opposition newspapers urged that blunt objects be used to “neutralize” pro-government protesters, resulting in serious injuries and death.

Steve Ellner also reported that violence was coming from the opposition. He pointed to attacks at grocery stores, banks, buses, and government buildings.  Other commentators described specific incidents of violence by the opposition including killing people. Maduro ordered the arrest of a retired general who tweeted how to use wire to decapitate people on motorcycles, which happened, and how to attack armored vehicles with Molotov cocktails.

Documents show that violence was the opposition’s strategy. They sought to “Create situations of crisis in the streets that will facilitate US intervention, as well as NATO forces, with the support of the Colombian government. Whenever possible, the violence should result in deaths or injuries.”

The tales of government violence are rooted in lies. The government’s response was Maduro calling for a peace conference describing it as “a national peace conference with all the country’s political sectors … so we Venezuelans can try to neutralize violent groups.”

4. Truth: The National Assembly acted in violation of the law and is in contempt of court.

The National Assembly is not the only democratic body in Venezuela. Indeed, its actions since the opposition won a majority have violated the law and protected the violence of the opposition with an embarrassing amnesty bill.

On December 6, 2015, the opposition won a parliamentary majority in the Assembly. There were allegations of vote buying in Amazonas state that were investigated by the National Electoral Council, another branch of the government. The Supreme Court barred four legislators from Amazonas taking office, two from the opposition, one allied with the opposition and one from the ruling party. The National Assembly allowed three candidates to take office. The Assembly has been held in contempt of court since July 2016 and their decisions were nullified.

Before the court ruling, the Assembly passed an amazing amnesty law, which granted amnesty for crimes the opposition has committed since 1999 (Chavez’ election). The law is an admission of guilt and provides a well-organized catalog of crimes including felonies, crimes committed at public rallies, terrorist acts involving explosives and firearms and undermining the economy. They essentially admitted exactly what Chavez/Maduro have claimed — crimes to overthrow the government for 17 years. Venezuela’s Supreme Court ruled the amnesty law was unconstitutional. Inaccurately, the Trump administration calls the Assembly Venezuela’s only remaining democratic institution.

This January, a subsidiary of the state oil company asked the Assembly to intervene claiming the president cannot make reforms to mixed public-private oil businesses without the prior approval of the National Assembly. On January 16, the court ruled that the Assembly was still in contempt of court and could not act. This is also when the Assembly elected Juan Guaidó as their president, who would later appoint himself President of Venezuela, as part of the US-led coup. Guaidó’s election to head the legislature was illegal and nullified by the court.

The Assembly still exists but remains in a state of contempt of the judiciary. It can rectify the situation by removing the lawmakers accused of electoral fraud. The Assembly refuses to do so because their goal is to remove Maduro from office and they need a super-majority to do so.

Medea Benjamin of CODEPINK disrupts Mike Pompeo at the OAS. Press TV.

A Timeline of the US Coup in Venezuela

In “Anti-Maduro Coalition Grew from Secret Talks,” the Associated Press explains the coup was “only possible because of strong support from the Trump administration, which led a chorus of mostly conservative Latin American governments that immediately recognized Guaidó.”

Since August 2017, Donald Trump has been saying that military interventionagainst Venezuela was a distinct possibility. AP describes this as a “watershed moment” in the coup planning. They report Trump pressuring aides and Latin American countries to invade Venezuela. In September, the New York Times reported that the Trump administration had been meeting with coup plotters since mid-2017.

The Wall Street Journal reports Trump has long viewed Venezuela as one of his top-three foreign policy priorities, with Iran and North Korea. Trump requested a briefing on Venezuela on his second day in office, talking of the immense potential of Venezuela to become a rich nation through its oil reserves. AP reports that Trump “personally sparked” this as he brought up regime change in Venezuela in every meeting with Latin American leaders.

After Maduro was re-elected, administration plans began taking shape, driven in part by key members in the National Security Council and anti-Maduro advocates in Congress like extreme interventionist Senator Marco Rubio.

On November 1, John Bolton zeroed in on Latin America, calling Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela a “troika of tyranny.” On January 2, Bolton met with his Brazilian and Colombian counterparts to collaborate to “return Venezuela to its democratic heritage.”

On January 10, Maduro was sworn in for his second term, Pompeo spoke with opposition leader Guaidó, pledging support. Canada also played a key role, AP reports that Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland spoke to Guaidó the night before Maduro’s inauguration offering Canada’s support. This was 13 days before Guaidó announced he was president of Venezuela.

On January 12, the State Department backed Guaidó’s move to invoke his authority as president of the assembly, saying, “It is time to begin the orderly transition to a new government.” On January 15, the National Assembly declared Maduro as illegitimate. The Trump administration worked to get allies lined up to support Guaidó’. By January 18, the Venezuela Foreign Minister was describing a US coup in progress.

The night before Guaidó’s announcement on January 23, Vice President Mike Pence put out a video message encouraging Venezuelans to overthrow their government, saying, “We are with you. We stand with you, and we will stay with you.” Guaidó also received a phone call from Pence the night before he appointed himself president where he pledged that the U.S. would back Guaidó.

Guaidó declared that Maduro’s government was illegitimate and he was assuming the presidency. In a well-coordinated charade, almost instantly, Trump recognized Guaidó as the country’s rightful leader. To further demonstrate the preconceived, tightly coordinated and efficiently carried out the coup, US allies, among them Canada, Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, Chile, and Peru, quickly recognized the coup president.

The Trump administration is claiming Guaidó represents the lawful government and is entitled to all Venezuelan revenues. The State Department notified the Federal Reserve that Guaidó is the agent for access to Venezuelan assets in US banks.

Nearly as quickly, Maduro drew statements of support from Russia, China, Turkey, Mexico, Cuba, Bolivia, and others. The Venezuelan Supreme Court called for an investigation into the National Assembly and Guaidó, regarding the illegal usurpation of Executive power. The Venezuelan military announced it supported Maduro and Russia warned the US not to intervene militarily.

On January 25, the Organization of American States, which is traditionally a US tool, rejected a resolution to recognize Guaidó. Medea Benjamin of CODE PINK interrupted Pompeo at the OAS holding a sign that said: “a coup is not a democratic transition!” Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza thanked Benjamin, saying, “With her protest, she revealed the macabre coup plan against Venezuela, we will always prevail, thank you!” Eighteen countries defeated the proposal.

At the UN Security Council meeting on January 26, Russia’s UN Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia accused the United States of attempting “to engineer a coup d’etat.” He demanded to know whether the Trump administration “is ready to use military force” against Venezuela. European countries gave Venezuela eight days to hold an election, a suggestion Venezuela rejected. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called Venezuela an “illegitimate mafia state.” He accused Russia and China of trying “to prop up Maduro.”

Both China and Russia have told the US not to intervene in Venezuela’s internal affairs. In December, Russia sent two nuclear-capable strategic Tu-160 bombers to Venezuela along with an An-124 heavy military transport plane and an II-62 long-haul plane. As of December, Russia has one brigade in Venezuela and was discussing sending a second military brigade to Venezuela even before the coup due to the continued threat of intervention from the United States.

China has lent over $50 billion to Venezuela through oil-for-loan agreements over the past decade and has become a partner in the Venezuelan oil industry. In December, seven months since signing a financial business venture with China, Venezuela’s oil production has doubled to 130,000 barrels per day. The take-over of Venezuela’s oil would also be an attack on China. China and Venezuela signed 28 bilateral strategic cooperation agreements on September 14 in the areas of oil, mining, security, technology, finance, and health.

Demonstrating the nature of the coup president, the first acts that Guaidó took were to seek a loan from the International Monetary Fund, which would put Venezuela in debt to western bankers and under their control, and to privatize the Venezuelan oil industry, which would rob Venezuela of the funds being used to lift up the poor and working class.

The appointment by Mike Pompeo of Elliott Abrams as the person in charge of overseeing operations “to restore democracy in Venezuela” is an ominous sign. It is scandalous and demonstrates the most extreme elements of the US establishment are leading the charge. Abrams was convicted during the Iran-Contra scandalsupported US-backed death squads in Guatemala and El Salvador in the 1980s, played a key role in the Reagan administration support for the murderous Contras in Nicaragua and was the person who gave approval for the US-backed coup in Venezuela in 2002.

Analyst Vijay Prashad writes the coup violated the charters of the United Nations and of the Organisation of American States and describes efforts to call on the military to rise up against the government have failed. The Trump administration is now threatening a total oil embargo on Venezuela and is leaving the “military option” open.

The concerted campaign by the US and Canada to install Juan Guaidó as the new ‘self-declared’ interim President of Venezuela has been met with initial failure. Unfortunately, the illegal and undemocratic attempts to destabilize the country and overthrow the democratically-elected President will continue with harmful consequences. The people of Venezuela are rising once again to defend their country against hostile foreign intervention. It is essential that we support them in this fight. Many groups are holding solidarity rallies and issuing statements of support. Find rallies and protests here and here.

While Sanders got all the facts wrong about Venezuela, he did reach the right conclusion: “The United States has a long history of inappropriately intervening in Latin American countries. We must not go down that road again.” People in the United States have an important role to play in supporting Venezuela and defeating the coup.

Original article: https://popularresistance.org/venezuela-what-activists-need-to-know-about-the-us-led-coup/