No. 230, June 12-18, 2003

Seattle police use ‘less than lethal’ weapons on peaceful protesters
Legal observer shot and hospitalized
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Police spray protesters with pepper spray during a permitted march against the Law Enforcement Intelligence Unit on Mon., June 2, 2003 in Seattle, Washington. Photo courtesy Seattle Indymedia

US threatens expulsion of 13,000 Arabs and Muslims
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Bodies pile up on Bush’s ‘roadmap’ for Israel, Palestine
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“Some societies, such as those within the European Union, embrace the mindset of precaution and presume that a product is severely hazardous until proven ‘safe,’ thereby effectively requiring proof of ‘zero-risk.’ By contrast, other societies, such as the United States, do not rely on such a broad presumption.” In the United States, “unless a given product is proven ‘hazardous,’ it is deemed safe, thereby acknowledging that a certain amount of risk is unavoidable in every day life.”

— excerpt from a May report by the National Foreign Trade Council (NFTC), a business grouping that has been extremely effective in setting the corporate agenda on trade-related issues — and then turning the agenda into law and policy.

Corrections and clarifications
On June 5, 2003, British newspaper The Guardian recanted two provocative claims that had been republished in issue #229 of Asheville Global Report. The first was reprinted within the compilation, “’War has not ended’ – US military”. According to The Guardian, the newspaper misconstrued remarks made by the US Deputy Defense Secretary, Paul Wolfowitz, making it appear that he had said that oil was the main reason for going to war in Iraq. “He did not say that,” apologized The Guardian. “He said, according to the Department of Defense website, ‘The ... difference between North Korea and Iraq is that we had virtually no economic options with Iraq because the country floats on a sea of oil. In the case of North Korea, the country is teetering on the edge of economic collapse and that I believe is a major point of leverage whereas the military picture with North Korea is very different from that with Iraq.’ The sense was clearly that the US had no economic options by means of which to achieve its objectives, not that the economic value of the oil motivated the war.”

The second item appeared in the compilation, “US, UK ‘lied’ about Iraqi WMD, still none found”. The Guardian issued a correction to the story, stating that UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw and his US counterpart Colin Powell had met at the Waldorf Hotel in New York shortly before Powell addressed the United Nations on Feb. 5, 2003. The newspaper said Straw “had now made it clear that no such meeting took place.”

AGR strives for precise journalistic accuracy, utilizing a broad sample of widely trusted and typically reliable, international news resources for our coverage. We deeply and sincerely apologize for any confusion that our unwitting reproductions of these inaccuracies may have caused.


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Seattle police use ‘less than lethal’ weapons on peaceful protesters
Legal observer shot and hospitalized

Compiled by Shawn Gaynor

June, 9 (AGR)— At least twelve people have been arrested, and dozens assaulted following a June 2 demonstrations against the Law Enforcement Intelligence Unit (LEIU) conference in downtown Seattle.

LEIU, a private intelligence company, builds databases for police to keep records of troublemakers or anyone they consider involved in “organized crime.”

Several eyewitnesses, including national Lawyers Guild legal observer Larry Hildes, report that trouble began after two plainclothes officers assaulted a young man they suspected of burning a flag at the peaceful and legally permitted rally.

In the ensuing confrontation between Seattle police and demonstraters, Hildes was hospitalized after being shot in the back with “non-lethal” weapons.

The protest had been called by a local coalition of social justice groups who demand: An end to police spying, harassment, and intimidation; disbandment of the LEIU; repeal of the PATRIOT Act I, and an end to plans for PATRIOT Act II; civil liberties for immigrant communities and communities of color; and defense of free speech and the right to assemble.

Over 600 protesters gathered in Westlake Park for a rally before the permitted march. They voiced concerns that as a private entity the LEIU is not subject to the Freedom of Information Act.

“So it’s kind of like the credit report agencies, only you can’t get your report from the LEIU, and whose business is it anyway? Why should they have a right to keep a file on whomever they want?,” said a LEIU protester. “Some example records (with names removed) from the 60s and 70s were posted at the teach-in on Sunday. One person had a file because he was a known practicing Muslim. That’s it.”

Following the early evening rally in Westlake Park, several hundred demonstrators began a nonviolent, permitted march toward the LEIU conference site, the Red Lion Hotel, where cordons of police waited in riot gear.

When the march began, people aggressively banged pots and pans, and shouted slogans such as, “LEIU go away / Our civil rights are here to stay.”

The crowd continued to rally there with music from the Anti-Fascist Marching Band and the Infernal Noise Brigade; some burned and tore US flags.

According to Indymedia, and several eyewitness accounts, one protester climbed atop a nearby awning and attempted to burn a flag there; as he descended, other demonstrators huddled around him to protect him against identification and arrest.

However, according to witnesses, one or more of the people in this huddle turned out to be undercover police, and disorder broke out when one undercover officer reportedly provoked a fistfight while attempting to subdue the protester. The police then moved against the already dispersing crowd, using pepper spray, concussion grenades, plastic clubs, and guns loaded with rubber bullets.

A witness who spoke on Free Radio Olympia said, “The action of forcing down the flag desecrating, trespassing criminal knocked a paralyzed wheelchair-bound co-terrorist to the ground, resulting in a blood-soaked face. Once they had gotten dude over the barricade, the protectors of these United States proceeded to beat him with kicks and billy clubs.”

Another witness said, “They were so fast that unfortunately they didn’t look where they were going and they knocked over a man in a motorized wheelchair. This action, of course, inflamed the crowd — the first of several provocative maneuvers by the cops.”

“A Seattle [University] law student who was observing for the ACLU and is also part of the Guild came running by, blood pouring from her face from a lip split by a bike. Then pepper spray filled the air, and concussion grenades exploded,” recalled Hildes.

“Medics [were] pulling me from victim to victim. I took statements, names, and numbers [and] made sure pictures were taken. Then behind us, the air filled with explosions and the smell of spray, and we ran faster. Projectiles started flying around me. I got hit hard, right between the shoulder blades with a rubber bullet, or pepper pellet; [it] stung like hell and knocked me down.”

Several people were seriously hurt after receiving pepper spray in the face or being shot with “less than lethal” weapons. After being taken to the hospital, Hildes reportedly described the encounter as “the worst he had ever seen.”

“I’ve defended and sued for a whole lot of folks attacked like that. I’ve been arrested as a legal observer three times [and] was shot once with a rubber bullet back in 1991 during the People’s Park Uprising,” said Hildes after being released from a local hospital. “But I’ve never seen any thing as calculated and militaristic as this, since I missed the WTO.”

Daniel Aukerman, who identified himself as a member of the Christian Peacemaker Teams, said, “This antagonism from police was something I had not observed in past marches. Under the circumstances, the chant of ‘No Police State’ resonated for us all.”

“[Before the trouble started] a colonnade of bicycle police came from behind, weaving in and out between the marchers. This was asking for trouble. Why were they so close? Why did they weave through the crowd?”

Despite eyewitness reports of police-provoked violence, Police Capt. Mike Sanford defended his officers’ actions.

“What we saw yesterday was really a different group of protesters,” Sanford said. “These are people who came to riot. It was not, ‘if a confrontation occurs, it was ‘when a confrontation occurs.”

“Those of us exercising our civil liberties are made to look like criminals,” said Luma Nichol, a participant in the protest, in response to the police statement.

Sanford said police have identified others, from videotapes of the demonstration, who they intend to arrest.

Apparently embarrassed by media attention to the incident, in which legal observers and both mainstream and independent journalists were injured by police attacks, SPD officers claimed that protesters were hurling glass jars, ball bearings, and other objects at them. However, the SPD refused to back up this claim when questioned by a Post-Intelligencer reporter.

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, which published a story about the incident, wrote, “police did not respond to a request from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer to display the materials officers said protesters threw at them and the items that police seized.”

On June 2, the New York Times ran a picture of the flag burning that had allegedly provoked the police response; however, the photo caption and accompanying story did not mention the police reaction, only that the sensitive issue of flag burning had been take up by the Republican congress, which hopes to make the act illegal by constitutional amendment.

Previous attempts to ban flag burning have not passed, and the act remains a constitutionally protected right.

Sources: Free Radio Olympia, Indymedia, Seattle Post-Intelligencer

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US threatens expulsion of 13,000 Arabs and Muslims

Compiled by Nicholas Holt

June 11 (AGR)— More than 13,000 Arab and Muslim men in the US are facing deportation after cooperating with post-Sept. 11, 2001 anti-terror measures, it has been revealed.

They are among 82,000 adult males who obeyed a government demand to register with the immigration service earlier this year, on the grounds they come from 25 mainly Muslim countries said to harbor terror groups.

Many had hoped to win leniency by demonstrating their willingness to cooperate with the campaign against terror.

Officials believe that most will be expelled in what is likely to be the largest wave of deportations after the attacks in Washington, DC, New York, and Pennsylvania.

The government has initiated deportation proceedings, and in immigrant communities across the country, an exodus has already begun.

Quietly, the fabric of neighborhoods is thinning. Families are packing up; some are splitting up. Rather than come forward and risk deportation, an unknowable number of immigrants have burrowed deeper underground. Others have simply left — for Canada or for their homeland.

“There’s been a major shift in our priorities,” said Jim Chaparro, acting director for interior enforcement at the Department of Homeland Security — which has now absorbed the old immigration service.

“We need to focus our enforcement efforts on the biggest threats. If a loophole can be exploited by an immigrant, it can also be exploited by a terrorist,” he said.

Critics say the latest crackdown on immigrants is unfair and racist.

“People did register out of their good conscience, because they wanted to follow the rules, respect the law,” said Fayiz Rahman of the American Muslim Council.

He says the policy is “targeted only toward Muslims.

“This is a major concern. They are planning to reduce the number of Muslims on American soil... discourage Muslim immigration, make our lives difficult.”

“What the government is doing is very aggressively targeting particular nationalities for enforcement of immigration law,” said Lucas Guttentag, director of the immigrants’ rights project at the American Civil Liberties Union. “The identical violation committed by, say, a Mexican immigrant is not enforced in the same way.”

Some of those facing deportation have waited months or years for officials to process applications to legalize their status. Immigration lawyers say that a substantial number of these men are only illegal because of the government’s inefficiency.

Officials say more than 600 Arab and Muslim illegal immigrants were deported during the first wave of expulsions after the 2001 attacks.

But the Justice Department stopped releasing figures after the number of arrested immigrants surged to 1,200, and officials have declined to give complete statistics for that period.

Another wave of deportations began last year after officials said they planned to find and arrest illegal immigrants who pose security threats and already have deportation orders. Of that group, more than 3,000 people have been arrested. Officials say they cannot say how many of those Arab and Muslim men have been deported.

But it is the special registration program — which required noncitizens from 25 Arab and Muslim countries to register from December through April — that seems likely to produce the largest number of expulsions. In the last two months, officials have released a succession of tallies of immigrants facing deportation; the 13,000 figure represents the most up-to-date estimate.

Officials acknowledged that most Arab and Muslim immigrants swept up in counter-terrorism sweeps have no ties to terrorist groups. Of the 82,000 men who showed up at immigration offices, and tens of thousands more screened at airports and border crossings in the past six months, 11 have had links to terrorism.

In all, deportations of illegal immigrants from Asian and African countries have surged by nearly 27 percent in the last two years. The number of Pakistani, Jordanians, Lebanese and Moroccans deported during that time has doubled, the statistics show; the number of Egyptians deported has nearly tripled.

Sources: BBC, New York Times

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Bodies pile up on Bush’s ‘roadmap’ for Israel, Palestine

Compiled by Séan Marquis

June 11— Three Palestinian militant groups joined forces on June 9 to launch a gun attack in which seven people died, in a move designed to send a clear message to the Palestinian prime minister, Mahmoud Abbas, that no peace deal could be made with Israel without them.

Three gunmen — one each from Islamic Jihad, Hamas, and al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade — infiltrated an Israeli army outpost at Erez, the main crossing point between Israel and Gaza, and shot dead three reservists and a career soldier before being killed in a 20-minute gun battle.

Dressed in army uniforms, they were able to move freely towards an Israeli army post, carrying assault rifles and grenades. They shot dead a soldier working on a tank, then killed two soldiers guarding an entrance. In the ensuing firefight a fourth soldier was killed and four others wounded, before the three gunmen were shot dead.

While there had been some cooperation between the groups before, this was the first time a joint attack had been ordered by the leaders of the groups.

In a leaflet claiming responsibility, the groups said: “This joint operation was committed to confirm our people’s united choice of holy war and resistance until the end of occupation over our land and holy places.”

The leaflet said that the three men had set off from Beit Hanoun, a northern Gaza town under Israeli control. This meant the Palestinian Authority could not be directly blamed for security lapses which led to the attack.

Also, the attack was against a military target in the Palestinian territories and not a civilian one inside Israel, which would have triggered an overwhelming response.

Dr. Abdel Aziz Rantisi, a Hamas spokesman, said the attack was intended to send a message to the Palestinian leadership that Palestinians will continue to fight Israel and will not “surrender to the pressure exerted by Israel and the US.”

In a statement on Al Jazeera Dr. Rantisi said: “This matter is final unless Mahmoud Abbas retracts his Aqaba speech.”

Hamas rejected Abbas’s speech at a summit held at Aqaba, Jordan, last week in which he declared the Intifada over.

Abbas, also known as Abu Mazen, responded by appealing for a resumption of ceasefire talks. He said he wanted to avoid armed confrontation with militant groups.

But following Monday’s attack, Abbas postponed a planned trip to Gaza aimed at pushing for a ceasefire.

The Gaza meeting went ahead without him and brought together Hamas, Islamic Jihad, the

Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, and Fatah.

“We decided to pursue the armed Intifada because we reject the conclusions of the Aqaba summit, where resistance was equated with terrorism,” said Mohammed el-Hindi of the Islamic Jihad.

Indeed, the “road map” – being pushed at the Aqaba summit by US president George W. Bush — that both sides have accepted refers more than a dozen times to the need to end Palestinian violence and terrorism. The end of occupation is mentioned twice.

At Aqaba, Abbas committed to halting violence and called on the resistance groups to give up the use of violence. In return, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon pledged to dismantle “illegal” Jewish settlements in the occupied territories and ease the security clampdown that has destroyed the Palestinian economy and disrupted Palestinians’ daily lives.

In fact, Sharon promised little, making no commitments over settlements authorized by the Israeli government — all the settlements are illegal under international law.

Abbas’ speech, according to Palestinian Culture Minister Dr. Ziad Abu Amr, “was not balanced enough, and that created a lot of disturbance and concern among Palestinians.”

“As usual, American pressure was counterproductive. They got the man to say what they wanted him to say, but they didn’t consider the implications on the ground,” Abu Amr, who was assisting Abbas in the truce talks, said on Al Jazeera television on Saturday.

Missile blows hole in road map

The day after the joint Palestinian strike, Dr. Rantisi was among more than 20 people injured in a failed assassination attempt when an Israeli helicopter fired a missile into a car he was traveling in on a crowded street in Gaza City.

Two bystanders, an eight-year-old girl and a woman in her 40s, were killed.

Dr. Rantissi was taken to a nearby hospital with leg injuries. His son and two bodyguards were reported to be in a more serious condition.

On Wed., June 11, a suicide bombing in Jerusalem and an Israeli helicopter raid in Gaza killed at least 24 people, in an explosion of tit-for-tat violence a day after the assassination attempt on Dr. Rantisi.

Seventeen people were killed and scores wounded when a suicide bomb ripped through a bus on a busy street in central-west Jerusalem, police reported Wednesday.

About an hour later, seven Palestinians were killed when Israeli helicopters fired missiles on a car in Gaza City, Palestinian medical and security sources told AFP.

Dr. Rantissi vowed from his hospital bed “not to leave one Jew in Palestine” as Hamas dropped all talk of a ceasefire.

‘Security’ or ‘incitement’?

As George Bush presided over a well-choreographed PR summit with the Israeli and Palestinian prime ministers at Aqaba, Israeli soldiers were raiding the refugee camp of Balata and the city of Nablus for the third day running.

According to the Red Crescent, some 50 people were treated for bullet and shrapnel wounds in two days. Many in the West Bank were looking at their television in astonishment as their prime minister met his Israeli counterpart and Bush at the Red Sea resort. They felt the rhetoric was from another planet.

Mohmmad Rada, 35, said: “I do not have any trust for this summit in Aqaba. It was convened at the expense of the Palestinian people and the expense of our president, Yassir Arafat, who is besieged in Ramallah.

“They are trying to provoke us so that they can say that we are the terrorists. I have just seen them shoot a little girl in the street.”

The girl was shot by a rubber-coated bullet as it ricocheted around the alleyways of the West Bank’s largest refugee camp.

Samir Abu Zarur, the head of the casualty department at Rafiah hospital in Nablus, said that his department treated 32 people injured by the Israeli army on June 3 alone. Around half came from Balata refugee camp.

“Twelve of the injured were children. One eight-year-old was shot in the face with a rubber-coated bullet. A young woman lost her eye and a young man lost a kidney. There are two or three still in a serious condition,” he said.

According to a report by the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), a nonviolent peace group, on June 4 the attacks began at 6:30am when an armored personnel carrier and two jeeps parked at the east side of the Balata refugee camp at the end of Market Street — which is a heavily populated civilian area. They were randomly beeping their horns, sounding sirens and shooting live rounds while there was very little local presence on the streets. This continued for two hours until it incited responses from stone throwing youths. The armed forces responded to this with live bullets, rubber bullets, and teargas.

“Surely actions like this must raise the question of why the army is here -­ for reasons of security/military or reasons of incitement,” the ISM said.

Sources: Agence France Presse, Associated Press, BBC, Christian Science Monitor, Guardian (UK), Independent (UK), Inter Press Service, Sydney Morning Herald

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