Who Will Pray For The Victims Of French Colonial Aggression?

What has happened in Paris last weekend is surely tragic indeed. At least 129 civilians were murdered in blatant terrorist attacks on civilian areas. The mainstream media and social media hysteria is understandable given the surprise nature of the attacks and the geographical location in which they took place: Paris, the city of love.

However, if the public truly care about the deaths of innocent lives perhaps they should direct their anger, frustration, fear and political grievances at the French government. The sympathy, fear and unity that the public feel is not only a powerful distraction from truly awful atrocities that happen daily in other parts of the world, but distract us from France’s acts of aggression in the last decade.

In 2011, France spent over 450 million euros flying at least 4500 sorties over Libya bombing the North African nation back into the Middle Ages. The UN Security Council Resolution authorizing this military activity authorized a no-fly zone to protect civilians but in actuality killed scores of civilians, desecrated Gaddafi’s armed forces whilst backing, funding, supporting and providing air cover for al-Qaeda affiliated rebels. Although we had been told that this military aggression was necessary to prevent Gaddafi from committing genocide on his own people, it transpired that the public had once again been lied to through an Iraq-WMD style propaganda campaign. The French-backed rebels at the time fighting to overthrow Gaddafi were not only the same fighters that France was claiming to fight in Mali, but included fighters from al-Qaeda in Iraq, which today are known as ISIS.

According to the UN Human Development Index (2010), Libya had the highest standard of living out of any country in Africa. Although the United States, the United Kingdom and Italy also played their part; it was a French Rafale jet that first struck Muammar Gaddafi’s motorcade as he attempted to escape Sirte, before these same al-Qaeda affiliated rebels were brought in to the area by NATO commandos to execute the Libyan leader without trial. Before this blatant war of aggression disguised as a humanitarian intervention occurred, Libya was debt free, had high literacy rates and had free healthcare. The country is now in a perpetual state of civil war as two rival governments backed by separate regional and foreign powers fight for control of the country. It should be no surprise that ISIS has a major stranglehold there given that the NATO countries, France being one of the main contributors, backed ISIS affiliated rebels to topple Gaddafi in the first place. According to UNICEF, Libya now has 2 million children out of school. As bad as Gaddafi was, this did not happen under his leadership.

To make this matter more corrupt, the French leader at the time, Nicolas Sarkozy, was under investigation for having received 50 million euros from Gaddafi himself for Sarkozy’s election campaign. So, essentially, Gaddafi sent Sarkozy 50 million euros and Sarkozy pays him back by having him assassinated? That has to be the worst recorded friendship in history.

In 2014, France made over 8 billion euros selling arms. The beneficiaries of these arms include the beacon of human rights itself, Saudi Arabia, a country who not only openly executes political dissidents within its own jurisdiction and supports violent jihadist activity, but is currently contravening international law by launching a war of aggression in neighbouring Yemen, the poorest country in the Arab world. The most recent French-Saudi deal is worth $12 billion. Saudi Arabia has used their current weaponry to bomb Yemeni wedding parties and refugee camps. Together with a brutal blockade, Yemen has become Syria within half a year of bombing and faces a humanitarian catastrophe.

France is also actively bombing Mali, Somalia, and in December 2012 emerged as one of the biggest contributors to the rebel groups trying to topple Bashar al-Assad in Syria. Although we have heard time and time again that the US and NATO are only backing moderate rebels, this distinction between rebel groups on the ground has transpired to be false. Take for example the Western-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA), which France has actively and openly supported. The FSA’s ranks have become dominated by extremists and their leaders have admitted not only that they regularly conduct joint operations with al-Qaeda, but that they wish to impose sharia law on Syria. Furthermore, since 2012, Western countries have known that the majority of the weapons and arms that they have been pouring into Syria have ended up in the arms of extremists but they are still doing it.

This selective over-play by the mainstream media combined with social media Giant Facebook’s response makes you wonder why the victims in France are more important than the victims in Lebanon 2 days prior, or the victims of France’s colonial aggression in the Middle East and Africa. How about the 5.4 million people who have died in the Democratic Republic of Congo? When will Facebook propose a flag change for the solidarity of the people who suffer these kinds of attacks daily?

In the wake of the attacks in Paris, the Mayor of New York, Bill de Blasio, stated “the only answer to terrorism is to be resolute, to not let the terrorists change who we are”.

But perhaps it is time to change who we are. Whether you like it or not, France has become an aggressive colonial power in the last decade. The France that was opposed to the 2003 invasion of Iraq has become a nation responsible for the death and suffering of millions of people. Let’s not forget that ISIS was born out of the US invasion and occupation of Iraq, meaning that France had the morally superior position back in 2003. Yet, the public now are sleep-walking and are eating up every single bit of President Hollande’s response.

If Hollande truly cared about terrorism, he should stop funding it.

What has he proposed instead? To close the borders of France, to allow right-wing xenophobia take root and blame this whole issue on the refugee crisis, and to immediately start aggressively bombing Syria. Apparently, France has not done enough bombing in the Middle East and North Africa. Note how quickly Hollande has referred to the Paris attacks as an act of war. The perpetrators of this crime were few and were not acting on behalf of any sovereign government. Who is France now at war with? With ISIS? Given that Western leaders still blame Assad for the rise of ISIS it should not be hard to predict where France’s campaign is headed. It would also be a safe bet that we will start to see an activation of France’s new democratic and transparent surveillance laws passed earlier this year.

If blowing up civilians in France is a tragic and cowardly act which can generate so much fear, anger and sympathy, it cannot be realistically said that blowing up civilians in Syria in response is a realistic solution.


2015-11-19

About the author:

Darius Shahtahmasebi has completed a Double Degree in Law and Japanese from the University of Otago, with an interest in human rights, international law and journalism

Original source of the article: http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/11/19/if-i-prayforparis-who-will-pray-for-the-victims-of-french-colonial-aggression/

Appendix:

Documentary video on the French colonial rule in Algeria:

FRENCH COLONIAL RULE IN ALGERIA

The State Of Emergency And The Collapse Of French Democracy

6672156239_01bde2b717_b_ParisThe measures being taken by the government of President François Hollande in response to Friday’s terrorist attacks in Paris constitute an unprecedented attack on democratic rights.

The Socialist Party (PS) government has declared a state of emergency and mobilized more than 100,000 security personnel throughout the country, including regular police, gendarmes, paramilitary riot police and military forces. It is impossible to walk the streets of any major city without running into individuals decked out in camouflage or dressed in black, toting automatic rifles. These paramilitary forces have been given the power to raid any home and arrest or kill anyone declared a threat, with no opposition from within the political or media establishment.

Now Hollande is proposing to amend the French Constitution to allow the president to decree emergency rule, extendable indefinitely, and vastly expand the powers granted to the army and police. The proposal, published online, provides the legal basis for transforming France into a presidential dictatorship.

The existing 1955 law grants the president and the security forces far-ranging powers during a state of emergency. They can carry out warrantless searches and seizures, impose curfews and ban public assemblies, detain and order the house arrest of anyone “whose activity proves dangerous to security and public order,” and dissolve any organization linked to people under house arrest that “participates in, facilitates or incites” disturbances of public order.

The changes introduced by the Socialist Party’s constitutional amendment make the law even more ominous. President Hollande has declared that he intends to renew it as long as France faces a threat from any terrorist group similar to ISIS, i.e., for an indefinite period of time.

An examination of the amendment makes clear, however, that the measures are not about fighting ISIS, which in any case emerged from the NATO powers’ own policy of sponsoring Islamist militias as proxy forces to wage war for regime-change in Syria. The horrific attacks in Paris are the pretext for implementing dictatorial measures that cannot be rationally explained by the threat posed by ISIS.

Under the cover of fighting ISIS, the French state is giving itself absolute powers against anyone it calls a threat to “security and public order.” This vague, all-embracing category has long been used against the constitutionally-protected right to strike and protest—as in the Socialist Party’s decision last year to ban protests against the Israeli state’s war in Gaza.

The legal changes introduced by the PS document effectively make any expression of oppositional sentiment potential grounds for arrest. Instead of allowing police to detain persons whose “activity proves dangerous for public security and order,” the amended law allows them to detain anyone “who gives reason to believe that his behavior constitutes a threat to security and public order.” The PS explains that this allows police to target “people who attracted the attention of police or intelligence services by their behavior, friendships, statements, or plans.”

The implications of these proposals are immense. To arrest and detain someone, police will have to do no more than assert that they believe that this person might conceivably disturb public order at some future time, based on something this person said or posted on social media, or on someone with whom he associated.

A statement suggesting sympathy with calls for strike action against a wage cut or factory closure, for a protest against war, or for any number of legal activities would be grounds for detention and house arrest.

It is worth recalling that the law the PS is now proposing to expand was drafted in 1955 to provide the legal framework for France to carry out mass torture and repression in a failed attempt to crush the Algerian people’s struggle for independence in the 1954-1962 war against French colonial rule. This brutal war cost the lives of between 250,000 and 400,000 Algerians. It anticipated and fed into deep social tensions within France that erupted in the general strike of May-June 1968.

The current moves to effectively dismantle democratic rights in France are motivated by a similar crisis of class rule. First, as its ultimately unsuccessful attempt to ban last year’s Gaza war protests showed, the PS government is desperate to suppress all opposition to the militarist policies of French imperialism. In the aftermath of the Paris attacks, Hollande has moved rapidly to expand France’s bombing campaign in Syria, part of the efforts of the French ruling class to assert its interests on a world stage.

Second, bourgeois democracy can no longer handle and adjudicate the immense and increasingly uncontrollable social tensions of contemporary capitalist society. In all of the advanced capitalist countries, including France, the state is controlled by tiny, super-wealthy elites who view rising discontent among broad masses of workers with hatred and fear.

The Hollande government epitomizes the domination of the financial aristocracy. Elected on promises that “austerity was not our destiny,” Hollande soon proved to be a pro-austerity politician presiding over surging unemployment and a “zero growth” economy.

The PS turned to a strategy of trying to divert social opposition to reactionary domestic policies by means of a foreign policy based on militarism and war. As Hollande launched a war in Mali in 2013, one official told Le Point that the PS hoped it would be their version of British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s Falkland Islands war: a “military adventure that ensured her re-election in 1983.” Wars across France’s old colonial empire, however, have only contributed to the growing social tensions within France.

The political dynamic in France is mirrored in every major capitalist country. Since the “war on terror” began in 2001, governments throughout the world, led by the United States, have sought to erode and dismantle basic democratic rights. They have participated in the “extraordinary rendition” of prisoners for torture, mass warrantless wiretapping and extra-judicial drone murder. The domestic deployment of heavily-armed military units is now common.

From the police suppression of the 2011 youth riots in London to last year’s heavily-armed crackdown on protests against the police killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, these measures are ever more clearly directed at the suppression of class struggle.

There is virtually no constituency for the defense of democratic rights within the political or corporate establishment. That task falls to the working class, which retains a deep commitment to democratic principles. However, there is no room for political complacency. The ruling class is moving very far with dictatorial measures to deal with internal crises for which it has no solution.

The defense of democratic rights and opposition to police-state forms of rule must be rooted in the independent political mobilization of the working class, based on a struggle against imperialist war and social inequality and their source in the capitalist system.


By Alex Lantier

Original source of the article: http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2015/11/19/pers-n19.html

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Allies raped hundreds of thousands of German women after WW2

Western allies raped hundreds of thousands of German women, writes German historian Miriam Gebhardt in a book published under name “When the soldiers came” (Als die Soldaten kamen) and which received both praise and criticism in Germany.

Illustration

“At least 860,000 women and girls, but also men and young boys, were raped by ally soldiers after the fall of the Third Reich and in the postwar period. It happened everywhere,” writes Gebhardt, noting that US soldiers were the ones who did it the most.

The book strongly echoed in Germany, where information on such crimes was known before, but was almost exclusively ascribed to Soviet soldiers.

Rapes committed by American soldiers over French women after the landing in Normandy in 1944 were also documented, but globally the Western allies – the Americans, French and British maintained an impeccable reputation of winners over Nazi barbarism.

In contrast, the image of Stalin’s troops which entered Berlin and whose soldiers “attacked the women who were treated as toys for sexual abuse, were long etched in the minds and investigations of the Germans,” the writer explained at a press conference in Berlin.

“In other parts of Germany, and this was not known earlier, or was not spoken about, some other soldiers in similar way raped German women,” she said, based on the information based on the data of so far unexplored military documents, testimonies from priests, requests for abortions and the like. Documents also speak about “the hunt for women and young girls”, who were often killed after being raped, often in the middle of the street in a German town or village.

Based on Gebhardt’s estimate of about 860,000 raped German women about 270,000 were raped by the soldiers of Western armies: 190,000 American, 50,000 French and about 30,000 rapes were committed by British soldiers. Soviets committed at least 590,000 rapes, writes the historian, recalling that until now it was believed that the number of their victims was between 1 and 2 million of raped persons.

Source: http://inserbia.info/today/2015/04/allies-raped-hundreds-of-thousands-of-german-women-after-ww2/

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