Saturday, October 8, 2011

Why we shouldn't accept Johnny Depp's apology for misusing the term "rape"

image is from here

My commentary follows this from HuffPo:
Vanity Fair on Tuesday released a small excerpt of their upcoming Johnny Depp cover article, hoping to generate buzz for their new issue ahead of its hitting newsstands. Mission accomplished.
In the short passage, the Oscar nominee and $100 million a year actor made a rare misstep, comparing participating in photo shoots to being raped.
"Well, you just feel like you're being raped somehow," he said. "Raped ... It feels like a kind of weird -- just weird, man."
The statement raised eyebrows and drew criticism, leading Depp to quickly issue a statement of apology and regret.
"I am truly sorry for offending anyone in any way. I never meant to. It was a poor choice of words on my part in an effort to explain a feeling," Depp said in the statement. "I understand there is no comparison and I am very regretful. In an effort to correct my lack of judgment, please accept my heartfelt apology."

I don't respect Johnny Depp because he's demonstrated on-going insensitivity and callousness to people who are negatively effected by misogyny and male supremacy. I don't accept his apology because Johnny Depp has publicly sided with a famously unconvicted rapist over the many who are actually raped. (And by "rape" here, I don't mean "being photographed for being a grossly overpaid white male celebrity.") He's done so with the case of child-raper, Roman Polanski. More on that in a moment.

He's fine with earning millions promoting both sexism and racism in his films--the Pirates of the Caribbean series being but one on-going example. He successfully works to support and maintain a pro-rapist white male supremacist culture, in no small part by not ever speaking out against famous and not-famous men who commit rape, and by not ever calling on all men to stop rape--whether or not they, individually, perpetrate it.

For more on his pro-rape views and values, I close this post with commentary by Alex DiBranco at 

Johnny Depp Defends Rapist

by Alex DiBranco · February 08, 2010

Johnny, you make such a sexy Captain Jack Sparrow. And there will always be a special place in my heart for Edward Scissorhands. I have to admit, your version of Willy Wonka was just a little too creepy for me, but that didn't make me cherish your pirating days any less. Unfortunately, you've lost all your charm (and your place in my fantasies) with your defense of a child rapist.
It doesn't matter that you've joined a chorus of celebrity voices defending Roman Polanski for raping a 13-year-old. It doesn't excuse your comments that Whoopi Goldberg claimed what happened to the girl wasn't "rape-rape," although I don't know what else you would call it when a middle-aged man pleads guilty to statutory rape -- and the other charges of rape, sodomy, and drugging are only dropped to protect the victim from a having to undergo a painful and sensationalized trial. Where, apparently, a chunk of Hollywood would have come to her rapist's defense.
Depp thinks that, even though Polanski fled the country three decades ago to escape sentencing, now that we've finally convinced a country to arrest him so the United States could actually hold him responsible for his crime, we should let it go. And why? Well, because Depp thinks that his former director "is not a predator. He's 75 or 76 years old. He has got two beautiful kids, he has got a wife that he has been with for a long, long time. He is not out on the street." Um ... wait, if you don't want him in jail for his crime, doesn't that mean he is out on the street?
Not only does Polanski's current position fail to negate the crime he never served a sentence for, but, as a blogger points out on Shakesville, neither his age, wife, or status as a father mean that he won't rape again, or that it won't be another child. The Shakesville guest blogger writes, "The second man who raped me had a wife and children. ... While he was married. While his two young daughters were sleeping in the next bedroom." Depp is not only a rapist apologist, he also brushes off the rapes of women by married or older men as impossible occurrences, adding insult to injury for too many survivors. It's really the cherry on top of a constantly sickening situation.
Looks like I won't be watching Pirates of the Caribbean for the umpteenth time next weekend. It's just not as much fun when I can't get Depp's rapist-supporting remarks out of my head.
Photo credit:
Alex DiBranco is a Editor who has worked for the Nation, Political Research Associates, and the Center for American Progress. She is now based in New York City.

Will "ecocide" gets legal legs in UK and US courts?

image of book cover is from here
Let's not forget that Indigenous activists have been speaking out about this since the White Man's ecocidal practices first violated Sacred Ground. And if you haven't yet, please read the radical ecofeminist books by South Asian activist Vandana Shiva and the white Jewish North American ecofeminist, Starhawk.

From The Guardian:

See the video:

Read the text (and please click on the title to link back to the source web page):

Test trial convicts fossil fuel bosses of 'ecocide'

Top lawyers put fossil fuel bosses on trial in the UK's supreme court in a mock case to explore if ecocide - environmental destruction - could join genocide as a global crime

Update: Two verdicts of guilty, one not guilty: that was the conclusion of the mock ecocide trial (details below) held at the UK's supreme court on 30 September. Real lawyers, judges and a public jury found the CEOs of fictional fossil fuel companies guilty of "extensive destruction, damage to or loss of ecosystem(s) to such an extent that the peaceful enjoyment by the inhabitants of that territory, and of other territories, has been severely diminished", as a result of their company's extraction of oil from tar sands in Canada. The jury found one of the CEOs not guilt on the count of damage caused by an oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Polly Higgins, the driving force behind the trial and who is working to have ecocide join genocide and three other crimes against peace in the UN, said: "For me the trial was a moment of truth. No longer is it acceptable to pursue profit without consequence. Corporate Ecocide is a global crime that is far greater and far more prevalent that most people realise. Those few people who dare to speak up about Corporate Ecocide in Wall Street have been arrested for speaking out about a greater crime, a far greater breach of the peace than their own shouting and campaigning. Surely it is now the time to prosecute the true destroyers of our world."

She added: "I'm not keen to see lots of [people] in the dock. What I want to see is people making responsible decisions. For example, a crime of ecocide could force governments to change the incentive structures for businesses by redirecting subsidises for fossil fuels towards clean energy sources. In this way the dirty energy companies that are wrecking the environment today could be transformed into the clean energy companies of tomorrow."

Original story (29/09/11):
It's a grim list: genocide, crimes against humanity, crimes of aggression (such as unprovoked invasions) and war crimes. All are recognised by the UN as crimes against peace and prosecuted through the international criminal court.

But should the bosses of polluting companies and the leaders of environmentally-unfriendly states join those responsible for mass murder in the dock. They could if a fifth crime against peace - ecocide - joined that list of human evils? The United Nations is now considering the proposal and the first test of how a prosecution for ecocide would work takes place on Friday, with fossil fuel bosses in the dock at the UK supreme court in London. It is a mock trial of course, but with real top-flight lawyers and judges and a jury made up of members of the public. The corporate CEOs will be played by actors briefed by their legal teams.

The crime of ecocide is the brainchild of British lawyer Polly Higgins, who in her UN submission defined it as:
Ecocide: The extensive damage, destruction to or loss of ecosystems of a given territory, whether by human agency or by other causes, to such an extent that peaceful enjoyment by the inhabitants of that territory has been severely diminished.
Crimes being considered for prosecution in Friday's trial include the extraction of oil from Canada's tar sands, a major oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, fracking for shale gas in Nigeria and bauxite mining of Niyamgiri mountain, India. The real world parallels are not accidental, I'm sure.

An international law against ecocide, enforceable in the UK, will be assumed for the purposes of the mock trial. But there is no script and the jury's verdict is theirs alone to decide. "It is nerve-racking, it is not a done deal," says Higgins.

She argues the link between ecocide and genocide is that damage and destruction to the environment depletes the Earth's resources, which leads to conflict. Only by making ecocide a crime for which individuals can be jailed, will we change the norm which allows profit to be put before the planet, she told me.

Higgins says a key inspiration is William Wilberforce, whose campaigning led to the abolition of slavery in the UK. He changed to norm of how black people were treated, she says, and ecocide law would change the way the planet is treated. "We have go to the point when the ethical imperative trumps the economic imperative," she says. At the moment in many countries, she points out, the first responsibility of CEOs is a financial one to their shareholders. If environmental destruction is not illegal but can boost profit, it will happen, she says.

But she is not anti-corporate or anti-profit, she says: "I started as a corporate lawyer. Now I want to make the problem part of the solution." She says companies should be making profits from solving the problems of global warming, habitat destruction and the extinctions of animals and plants. The companies that traded in slaves did not go out of business after slavery was abolished, she claims.
I asked her about the problem of proving causation between the acts of companies and environmental damage, which has doomed previous attempted prosecutions in the US.

"Genocide is a crime of intent, but ecocide is not," she says. An ecocide law would create a pre-emptive responsibility to prevent ecological damage, she explains, in the same way that "superior responsibility" or "strict liablility" enables people to be prosecuted whether or not they intended to cause damage. "I am really not wanting to see lots of CEOs locked up," she says, but wants them deterred from ecocide in the first place.

I also asked her about the phrase in her ecocide definition that says "whether by human agency or by other causes". If there is a natural disaster, who can be prosecuted? The "other causes" term is there, she says, to place an obligation on governments to intervene in disasters to minimise damage.

If this all seems utter fantasy to you, it is worth noting that Bolivia has already passed laws granting all nature equal rights to humans. Furthermore, ecocide could become an international crime by amendment of the ICC's Statute of Rome, which would need 86 nations to back it. Are there 86 states backing the ICC who feel climate change, the crisis in the oceans and other environmental problems are trashing their "peaceful enjoyment" of the Earth's bounty? I wouldn't be surprised if there were.

Update (11:22 Friday): The two crimes chosen for the ecocide mock trial are the extraction of oil from Canada's tar sands, a major oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. I'll update the post again when the verdict comes.

Note: The trial, organised by the Hamilton Group, begins at 0900 BST on Friday 30 September and will be broadcast live by Sky News's Supreme Court web channel. Members of the public can attend. I'll post updates on this page. Michael Mansfield QC leads the prosecution against Nigel Lickley QC for the defence. Michael Norman will sit as the judge and the jury are members of the public recruited through Facebook and other social media and vetted for conflicts of interest.

Thoughts as the Occupation of U.S. Corporate Public Spaces by Liberal, Progressive, and Radical Protestors continues

What is above is from Democracy Now!

I have also been watching the predictably stupid the self-serving commentary by White Conservatives with a microphone in Corporate Media. And how those bought and sold-out spokespeople serve the 1% well, without sincere, humane regard for anyone less privileged than they are. CNN, not too surprisingly, is rivaling FOX in its propagandistic pro-patriarchal patter. I hope you keep them honest, Anderson Cooper.

I've heard some very thoughtful, concerned, and compassionate remarks from demonstrators and protesters around Wall Street and across the United Rapes of Amerikkka, mostly from people WHM supremacist Corporate Media will not allow to the microphone.

When hard-working while unpaid people speak of the need for "jobs" I hope that there is activist reflection on what those jobs ought to serve to do: should they come into existence, will they support Western Corporate Capitalist racist-misogynist-heterosexist values and objectives?

I hope, against great evidence, that city police forces break with their bosses and start organising with protestors to hold dirty white-collar criminals accountable for their war crimes and economic crimes against the 99%.

I hope cooperative housing, barter economies, and other pro-community anti-corporate work and jobs are vocally identified and supported. While we all struggle to survive in various ways, we don't need to prioritise life-support to a system of gross destruction colloquially known as "Western Civilisation". As one pro-Indigenist slogan reads: "U.S. OUT OF NORTH AMERICA!"

I hope that once and for all, U.S. terrorism against Black, Brown, Asian, and Indigenous people is named as such, and that Western Corporate Media is held to account for perpetuating an erroneous idea that self-determination, anti-colonial activism, anti-imperialist organising, and ideosyncratic aggression by people who aren't white constitutes "terrorism". It isn't nearly as terrifying as the well-funded, systematic, and on-going aggression perpetrated by rich whites and men, and their thugs and cronies, all over the world.

I hope it is kept in mind and protest action that "class warfare" is what is being waged daily by the richest 1% against the 99%, nationally and internationally. And that getting more power in a murderous, ecocidal system, while often necessary, isn't a humane or sustainable project.

And I hope that out of these protests a new radical anti-heterosexism perspective is fostered and nurtured which doesn't pretend "gender" is  just difference without dominance--by men against women and everyone male not deemed appropriately masculinist in behavior.

And I hope that "peace" is understood to be more than an absence of Empire-reinforcing warfare, gross militarism fused to a sociopathic form of patriotism, although surely it is at least that. And I hope that it surfaces among the white- and male-dominated groups that it is and will continue to be women of color leading us all to a better present and future. Those of us who are either white or male can work to promote and support the activism of Asian, Indigenous, Black, and Brown feminists across the globe. And to assist in the non-imperialistic flourishing of their values and practices.

What I hope doesn't get lost is the perspectives and prescriptions from the most marginalised and oppressed people in the U.S. and in places that U.S. economic domestic and foreign policy negatively impacts. I hope microphones are permanently installed in places that have been completely silenced by CRAP-loaded Corporate Media, including by Indigenous activists addressing how corporate capitalism, white supremacy, and euro-patterned patriarchal practices combine forces to continue a hundreds-years-old genocide. And by women across class and race who speak to the on-going millennia-old gynocide. I expect, however, that those two groups specifically will be marginalised in progressive white- and male-dominated activist venues. I'd love to be wrong about that.

I close, for now, with this, from Democracy Now!:

Remembering the Work and Values of Derrick Bell (Nov. 6, 1930 - Oct. 5, 2011)

Men across race, religion, and region usually oppressively ignore or obnoxiously take credit for women of color's contribution to matters of social justice, political resistance, and liberation struggles--particularly those for women. Derrick Bell was not that kind of man. He was a better person than that. What follows is from The Root. You may link back by clicking on the title just below.

Derrick Bell: Losing a Champion for Equality

The famed law professor was a great teacher, mentor and friend, says a former Harvard Law colleague.

Derrick Bell: Losing a Champion for Equality

It was with great sadness that I received the news that my mentor, teacher and dear friend professor Derrick A. Bell Jr. passed away in New York on Oct. 5 after a long illness. He was 80 years old.
I had the honor and privilege of being one of Bell's students when he taught at Harvard Law School during the 1970s. He took me, and the small cohort of other students of color who were there, under his wing and became a beloved figure whom we admired, trusted and turned to repeatedly for guidance and support.

I remained close friends with Bell for more than 35 years. Today I mourn his death as a deeply painful and personal loss, as well as a loss to the cause of racial equality and to the thousands whom he inspired and mentored.

Early on in his career, Bell distinguished himself as a staff attorney for the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Justice Department. He relinquished the position after two years over pressure to give up his membership in the NAACP. As counsel to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, under the tutelage of Thurgood Marshall, Bell administered 300 desegregation cases involving schools and restaurant chains in the South between 1960 and 1966.

Later, for more than 40 years, Bell was a distinguished teacher and scholar who influenced the lives and careers of law students at the University of Southern California; Harvard Law School, where he was the first black tenured professor; the University of Oregon Law School; and, for the past 20 years, New York University Law School.

He pioneered a new field of critical race theory and legal scholarship when he was asked to write a foreword for a very prestigious annual article for the Harvard Law Review, focusing on civil rights, race, gender and equality. The article was supported by then Harvard Law Review President and now Harvard Law professor Carol Steiker, as well as by then Supervisory Editor and now Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan.

The article was called "The Civil Rights Chronicles." Bell created a fictitious character by the name of Geneva Crenshaw who asked probing questions about race, gender and equality throughout the piece. This approach and format was completely novel and changed legal scholarship across the country. The article became the basis of several subsequent books by Bell, inducing Faces at the Bottom of the Well: The Permanence of Race; And We Are Not Saved: The Elusive Quest for Racial Justice; and Silent Covenants: Brown v. Board of Education and the Unfulfilled Hopes for Racial Reform.

Only Bell could write a Law Review article that became the topic of several books that ultimately became a new way to examine the legal system. This was part of his creative genius and his bold leadership. He inspired others to follow his lead, and he found creative new ways to make complex legal arguments accessible and provocative.

He also championed the building of a first-rate law-school faculty that reflected our nation's diversity, and he sacrificed his own career, more than once, to advocate for fairer hiring practices in the institutions where he taught. Bell's departure from Harvard was, as was true at Oregon before that, a result of the failures of the two schools to promote women of color to their tenured law-school faculty.  
For me his loss is personally devastating. He started out as an inspiring teacher and mentor who became a close and beloved friend. I was particularly thrilled that he taught my daughter, Rashida Ogletree George, when she was a student at NYU Law School and a teaching assistant for Bell.

His influence over two generations of Ogletrees offers just one example of the huge impact of his life and scholarship on the legal profession and on legal training. He taught me so many lessons: about the complex legal challenges posed by our nation's racial history, about mentoring and serving as an example to the next generation, and about taking professional and personal risks over issues that matter. I'm sure that, in my lifetime, I will never see another like Derrick Bell, and I will miss him every day.
He also leaves behind a devastated family. Bell's first marriage was to Jewel Bell, who died in 1990. They were the parents of three sons: Derrick III, Carter and Douglas. In 1992 he married Janet Dewart Bell, a communications expert. The couple lived in New York City.

In lieu of flowers, the family has asked that contributions in his name be made to the Derrick Bell Lecture Fund at the following address:

Derrick Bell Lecture Fund
New York University School of Law
Office of Development and Alumni Relations
D'Agostino Hall
110 W. Third St., Second Floor
For more on his books, please see here: 

"I think democracy never comes by military invasion. Democracy without independence and justice is meaningless", states Malalai Joya on the Tenth Anniversary of the Mass Murderous, Anti-Feminist, Anti-Woman War in Afghanistan

GWBush and B. Obama have promised something to the effect of "reducing terror and fear" in the world, yet perpetrate their own organised horrific, imperialistic, terroristic atrocity daily in Afghanistan, for TEN YEARS now. I place no faith in their ability to lead us to a more peaceful world.

What is above and what follows is all from, *here*.

Former Afghan MP, Human Rights Activist and Author of “A Woman Among Warlords,” Malalai Joya, recorded this message on the Tenth Anniversary of the War and Occupation of Afghanistan:  

Transcript of Joya’s message: 

Hi everyone, I would like to thank all supporters and anti-war movements around the world who are marking the dark day of occupation of U.S. and NATO in Afghanistan. 

Respected friends – 10 years ago the U.S. and NATO invaded my country under the fake banners of women’s rights, human rights, and democracy. But after a decade, Afghanistan still remains the most uncivil, most corrupt, and most war torn country in the world. The consequences of the so-called war on terror has only been more bloodshed, crimes, barbarism, human rights, and women’s rights violations, which has doubled the miseries and sorrows of our people.

During these bloody years, tens of thousands of innocent civilians have been killed by occupation forces and terrorist groups. When Barack Obama took office in 2008, unfortunately his first news for my people was more conflict and more war. It was during Obama’s administration that civilian death tolls increased by 24%. And the result of the surge of troops of Obama’s administration is more massacres, more crimes, violence, destruction, pain, and tragedy. That’s why he has proved himself as a warmonger — as second even more dangerous Bush.

According to the Afghanistan Right Monitor in 2010, 7 civilians were killed everyday. U.S. and NATO tell us they will leave Afghanistan by the middle of 2014, but on another hand they’re talking about U.S. permanent military bases in Afghanistan. They will not leave our country soon. They are there for their own strategic regional and economic interests. That is why they want to change Afghanistan into a military and intelligence base in Asia.

The western governments not only betray Afghan people, they betray their own people too. They are wasting their taxpayer money in the blood of their soldiers by supporting a war, which only safeguard the interests of the big corporations and the Afghan criminal warlord rulers.

I think democracy never comes by military invasion. Democracy without independence and justice is meaningless. It is only the nation who can liberate themselves.

I believe that the only solution for the catastrophic situation of Afghanistan is withdrawal of ALL of the troops of our country because their presence is making much harder our struggle for justice and peace. By empowering the reactionary dark minded terrorist groups who are great obstacles for true democratic minded elements. If honestly they leave Afghanistan , the backbone of fundamentalist warlords in Taliban will break.

I hope one-day Afghanistan also will see the glorious uprising like in Middle East countries. As right now we are witnessing the small uprising in some provinces in Afghanistan like Herat, Kunar, Nangarhar, Mazar-e-Sharif, Farah, Kabul, and many other provinces which is a big source of hope for the bright future of Afghanistan.

So now I would like to ask all peace-loving, justice-seekers, anti-war movements and democratic-minded intellectuals, individuals around the world to join their hands with democratic-minded people of our country who are able to fight against fundamentalism and occupation. Therefore, my message to you is please empower my people educationally, as I believe education is a key against ignorance and toward emancipation.

Thank you very much.

Long live freedom. Down with Occupation. 

Find out more about Joya at

Ten Years of Invasion, Occupation (not the anti-Wall St. kind), and Racist Mass Murder in Afghanistan: Listening to Reena, FOR A CHANGE!

Yeah, what SHE said. Including about the CRAP-loaded spurious politics behind the distribution of Nobel Peace prizes.

In addition to the video clip above, everything that follows is also from Democracy Now! and may be seen at their site, *here*.
It was 10 years ago today when former President George W. Bush announced the beginning of the war on Afghanistan. It has now has become the longest-running war in U.S. history and there is no end in sight. The Taliban remains in control of major parts of the nation. Peace talks have collapsed. Civilian and troop casualties continue to mount. There have been a number of major setbacks in just the past few weeks. On Sept. 13, militants attacked the U.S. embassy and the NATO headquarters in Kabul. A week later, the Taliban claimed responsibility for assassinating former Afghan president Burhanuddin Rabbani, who headed the Afghan Peace Council. Just this week, the Wall Street Journal reported Afghan President Hamid Karzai has given up on negotiating with the Taliban. To discuss what the future has in store for a nation long-ravaged by war, we speak with “Reena,” a 19-year-old member of the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan, who joins us by video Skype in Afghanistan. “Reena” is a pseudonym and her face is concealed since all RAWA members maintain anonymity for security reasons. We’re also joined by independent journalist Anand Gopal, who has reported extensively from Afghanistan and is completing a book on the war. [Includes rush transcript]

AMY GOODMAN: It was ten years ago today when then President George W. Bush announced the beginning of the war.
PRES. GEORGE W. BUSH: On my orders, the United States military has begun strikes against out, terrorist training camps and military installations of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. These carefully targeted actions are designed to disrupt the use of Afghanistan as a terrorist base of operations, and to attack the military capability of the Taliban regime
AMY GOODMAN: Ten years later, the Afghan war rages on. It has become the longest-running war in U.S. history. There’s no end in sight. The Taliban remains in control of major parts of the nation. Peace talks have collapsed. Civilian and troop casualties continue to mount. There have been a number of major setbacks in just the past few weeks. On September 13, militants attacked the U.S. Embassy and the NATO headquarters in Kabul. A week later, the Taliban claim responsibility for assassinating former Afghan president, Burhanuddin Rabbani, who headed the Afghan Peace Council. Just this week the Wall Street Journal reported Afghan President Hamid Karzai has given up on negotiating with the Taliban. In a recent interview, retired General Stanley McChrystal said the U.S. and NATO were only 50% of the way towards achieving their goals in Afghanistan. Brian Katulis is a senior fellow at the Center for American progress.
BRIAN KATULIS: If you look at the main metric, the measure for success, in the counterinsurgency strategy, it is, how safe is the local population? 2011, this year, will be the deadliest year for Afghan civilians. More than 80% of those deaths are caused by the Taliban insurgency. But the key metric of whether we’re succeeding on a counterinsurgency strategy — are we keeping the local population safe? — the answer is, no. The number has gone up
AMY GOODMAN: To talk more about Afghanistan, we are joined by two guests – first, we go to Afghanistan, to Reena. She’s 19 years old, a member of RAWA, the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan. Reena is a pseudonym, her face concealed since all RAWA members maintain anonymity for security reasons. Welcome to Democracy Now!, Reena. Describe what is happening now – ten years after the U.S. invaded Afghanistan.
REENA: Thank you so much, Amy. It is a pleasure to be on your show. Ten years ago when U.S. invaded Afghanistan, they made promises of democracy, women’s rights, and a general improvement in the lives of people. But ten years later, today, the situation is clearly getting worse for our people. Everyday life has not improved. Women’s situation has gotten worse. There is no sign of democracy or freedom or peace anywhere. In fact, civilian deaths have reached 10,000 on this anniversary. And it’s going to continue to rise with the surge of troops and increase in assaults, this will obviously be continuing.
AMY GOODMAN: Here in the United States, we’ve just passed the tenth anniversary of the September 11 attacks. There was a great deal of attention to the young people who grew up in the shadow of the World Trade Center, both specifically and also just in this age metaphorically. You, Reena, or 19 years old. You were nine when the U.S. attacked Afghanistan. Where were you born? What are your thoughts growing up in the Afghan War?
REENA: At that time, I was in Pakistan, in a refugee camp, but I do remember a lot of people who were there at that time, like our close relatives. We lost some people that we knew, some friends, in the bombings of the U.S. So I did not exactly witness the deadlier Civil War of 92-96. I have vague images of the Taliban regime of 96-2001. But this ten year war has definitely had a very deep impact on this generation. The civilian casualties, the fear that people live with these days, the terror that there is in the streets everywhere for the IED attacks or other kinds of threats, it is increasing day by day. It has just made everyone extremely insecure and bad for the people.
AMY GOODMAN: We’re also joined here in New York by Anand Gopal. He reported for The Christian Science Monitor in Afghanistan then for the Wall Street Journal. Now he is writing a book on the war in Afghanistan. Your thoughts ten years later — the longest U.S. war in U.S. history.
ANAND GOPAL: By any metric we look at, the war has gotten worse. Security has gotten precipitously worse every single year. 2011 has seen the most civilians being killed of any year since the war started. We’ve seen the most number of attacks – suicide bombings, roadside bombings, since the war started for any year. The amount of territory the Taliban controls has been undiminished, despite the fact we’ve seeing a major troop surge in the last year or two years. We’ve seen a fragmentation within Afghanistan where the people who we are aligned with are starting to arm themselves and thinking about a post-American scenario where they want to all fight against each other. Really we’re at a knot here in Afghanistan in the last ten years.
AMY GOODMAN: Listening to the talk shows on the cable networks, it is quite remarkable to see how things are turned on their heads. The Republicans talking about Obama presiding over the longest war. The issue of what it means if the U.S. pulls out, and the mantra often repeated that the Taliban will take over. I want to get both of your thoughts on that beginning with Anand.
ANAND GOPAL: The Taliban already have de facto control of almost half of the country in the countryside. Beyond that, what we’re doing in Afghanistan is we are arming militiamen, warlords, strong men, we’re actually going into the countryside and giving them weapons, giving weapons to all sorts of human rights violators and abusers. These are people in many cases who have been disarmed after 2001 and we’re rearming now because we need help in fighting the Taliban. So what that’s actually doing is creating the conditions in which the civil war is more and more likely. In fact that I think the longer we stay and continue this policy, a civil war becomes more likely.
AMY GOODMAN: Reena, your thoughts on the issue of the Taliban?
REENA: Yes, I absolutely agree with him. The U.S. has armed the most dangerous warlords and is continuing to arm and support them. If they were drawn out, yes, a civil war may be inevitable. But again, we have to remember that, as we always say, this war is part of the problem. It is not going to solve anything for us. If the troops withdraw and if they give Afghanistan a chance to decide its own fate, I think things will work out. If they do not support these warlords, as he said, and the U.S. and its allies pressure the other countries not to support the Taliban, then I think maybe a civil war will not take place. It might not be as bloody as it will be if they continue supporting or if this war goes on.
AMY GOODMAN: Reena, a reason often given for staying in Afghanistan — it was one that Laura Bush put forward, it was one that was picked up again, things all turned around, the kind of feminist reason, particularly put forward by the Republicans but many Democrats also support this and Democratic women — that it is about saving the women of Afghanistan. Your response?
REENA: Yes, these claims were all extremely false. If they have brought to power the misogynists, the brothers and creed of Taliban into power, who are the exact copies of Taliban, mentally and have just been physically changed, then I do not think the feminist situation can improve. Today, there are slight improvements in women’s lives in urban areas, but again if you look at statistics, Afghanistan remains the most dangerous place for women. Self-immolation, suicide rates, are extremely high – it has never been this high before. Domestic violence is widespread. Women are poor. They do not have healthcare. It has the highest mortality rate in the world.
There are, as I said, some improvements. And in some aspects, it might have been a little better for a handful of people, for women, but it has definitely has gotten worse for others. There is insecurity, there are threats. They always say that there are six million girls in schools and the schools have opened, but nobody looks at the dropout rates. Nobody looks at the attacks, the threats that the Taliban makes to the girls. And they do not dare go out again. Nobody looks at the quality of the schools. All these things — there have been slight changes. It has been very widely used, and to just highlight a few positive things, but overall, things have gotten worse.
AMY GOODMAN: I want to play a clip from Admiral Mike Mullen, the Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, speaking earlier this week about the Haqqani network threat, blaming the ISI for orchestrating attacks on U.S. targets inside Afghanistan.
ADM. MIKE MULLEN: A second but no less worrisome challenge is the impunity with which certain extremist groups are allowed to operate from Pakistani soil. The Haqqani network, for one, acts as a veritable army of Pakistan’s internal services intelligence agency. With ISI support, Haqqani operatives planned and conducted that truck bomb attack as well as the assault on our embassy.
AMY GOODMAN: Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen. Anand Gopal, your response?
ANAND GOPAL: It’s absolutely the case that Pakistan is in some way supporting the Haqqani network and the rest of the Afghan insurgency. But I think it is important to have some historical context in all of this. We once, the U.S., once supported the Haqqani network, back in the ‘80s when we were fighting against the Russians. We poured millions, in fact billions of dollars into Afghanistan to fundamentalists, to Islamic radicals and we’re getting the blowback of that now. And also that has fundamentally changed the dynamic within Pakistan, where we helped create, in a sense, the way that the ISI, the Pakistani Security Agency, acts today. They have been pretty much consistent in the last thirty years in their position. We just changed our position ten years ago.
AMY GOODMAN: And the role that Pakistan — if you could talk further – plays in Afghanistan, and the fact that Pakistan has been supporting or in the past supported the very forces that they’re fighting against, that the U.S. is fighting against in Afghanistan, and helped to establish the ISI, which it now is critiquing.
ANAND GOPAL: Well, there is no doubt that the insurgent leadership, the Haqqani network, the Taliban and other groups, they have a safe haven in Pakistan. There is no doubt that elements of the ISI, the security apparatus, is giving advice and support to the insurgent leadership. Pakistan is planning a double game. On the one hand, they are aligned with the U.S. and getting millions of dollars in aid for military, on the other hand, supporting insurgency.
AMY GOODMAN: Reena, you are 19 years old, you are a young woman who goes back and forth between Pakistan and Afghanistan. How do you function? Reena is not really your name, you’re not saying where you are in Afghanistan, you’re with the organization RAWA. Explain what your group does and how you get around.
REENA: RAWA, the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan, was established in 1977 by a martyred leader, Mina, and a group of other young women. It is an anti-fundamentalist group, women’s group, that fights for freedom, democracy, secularism and women’s rights. Because we are the only women’s group that speaks against fundamentalists — the warlords in power today — we have any security issues and we cannot be open in our activities. So we are underground and semi-underground. We function mostly in Afghanistan, but a small part of our activities are also based in Pakistan.
AMY GOODMAN: Malalai Joya make a statement this week where she said, let’s see if I can find it, “we’re at a point today when Afghanistan is at its most violent since war started and the government at its weakest. Civilian casualties higher this year than any previous year, the territory Taliban controls more or less the same as last year, there’s no progress toward making a political solution.” Anand Gopal, what if the U.S. pulled out tomorrow?
ANAND GOPAL: I think if the U.S. pulled out tomorrow, it would be very likely that we would see a civil war. When you talk to Afghans, and particularly in the countryside where the war is being fought, what many of them say is, we want the U.S. troops to pull out and we want there to be some sort of peace settlement from all the sides.
This never really happened, even from day one in 2001. The Afghan state was not constituted on a broad-based system. It was a deal between a certain set of warlords and the U.S. You want to include civil society, groups like RAWA, other groups, and try to come together to tell Afghans to configure their state in some way, which they’ve never had a chance to do until now. So I think a peace settlement of some sort, together with the troops pulling out, would be the only way we can forestall a Civil War.
AMY GOODMAN: Would you say, Reena, that each day of this war increases hostility toward the United States?
REENA: Absolutely. Absolutely, it does, as it has increased from 2001 until now. Because in the start, the people were very hopeful. They had some hope that the U.S. would actually help them, that their situation would improve in the last ten years. But the U.S., unfortunately, supported the war lords, like Sayaff, Abdullah Abdullah, Ismail Khan, Khalili, and they recently killed Burhanuddin Rabbani.
So all this has increased the People’s hostility, in addition in the countryside and in provinces other than Kabul and some other urban cities, the U.S. airstrikes and night raids are increasing day-by-day. This itself is drawing a lot of hostility from the people toward the U.S., and they want them to leave our country as soon as possible.
AMY GOODMAN: Final comments, Anand Gopal, for people to understand and as you both lived in Afghanistan for years covering the war and you come back to the United States and see how generally it is covered as you write your book?
ANAND GOPAL: It is covered very poorly. I think a lot of the discourse about the war in Afghanistan is that it is a series of mistakes. And it is a mistake. But I think at the core underneath those mistakes is a fundamental wrong policy, which was the war on terror, going into Afghanistan and thinking that the occupation of a country can solve the problem of terrorism. I think that everything that we are seeing in Afghanistan today, you can relate it back to that fundamental core issue.
AMY GOODMAN: Reena, I don’t know if you heard the Nobel peace Prize was just announced. It is going to three women from the Arab world and from Africa. Two from Liberia, including the current president of Liberia, and one brave Yemeni activist, the youngest ever to receive the Nobel peace prize. Had you heard about that? Does this matter at all to in Afghanistan?
REENA: Yes, I did read about this. I would like to say that the Nobel Peace Prize is, I do not think, it is a very big prize in the opinion of our people. Because every time there is usually a political motive behind giving it to somebody. And the actual real people who struggle for something or who are trying to get something are never considered for this prize. For example, last year, a warlord woman from our country, Sima Samar, was on the list of these people. She almost won the Nobel Peace Prize. That woman is in the Warlord Party. If not directly, is an agent of other countries. If you can consider giving this prize to such a woman, then it does not mean anything for our people. Anybody else can win it for political reasons or whatever is behind it.
AMY GOODMAN: Your thoughts in that, Anand Gopal?
ANAND GOPAL: I think also more importantly, from the point of view of the Afghans, Barack Obama is a Nobel Peace Prize winner, and he’s the person who increased the number of troops in Afghanistan and increased the violence in fact in Afghanistan. A lot of my Afghan friends question with the value of the Nobel Peace Prize is if it leads to more war in Afghanistan.
AMY GOODMAN: Thank you both for being with us on the 10th anniversary of the U.S. bombing of Afghanistan, now the U.S. engaged in the longest war it has ever been involved with in U.S. history. Anand Gopal, independent journalist, writing a book Afghanistan, previously with the Christian Science Monitor and then the Wall Street Journal.
AMY GOODMAN: And Reena, not her real name, speaking to us from Afghanistan, her face covered. She is anonymous for her own protection. Tonight, _KPFK_’s Uprising host, Sonali Kolhatkar. KPFK is the Pacifica Station in Los Angeles—-will be leading a conversation with Reena via live video stream and taking questions from the viewing audience. You can see it at, we’ll put a link there on our website at
See also, from,

On the 10th Anniversary of the U.S. war, an underground activist tells the real story of the Occupation & Afghan Resistance

Reena, a member of the Revolutionary Association of the women of Afghanistan (RAWA), will address American audiences via live video stream.

RSVP for the event on Facebook.
Download the flyer here.

AWM Co-Director and KPFK’s Uprising host Sonali Kolhatkar will lead the conversation with Reena via video streaming in front of a live audience. The event will be webcast live on AWM’s website.

Questions will be drawn from the in-person audience, and the online audience via Facebook.

WHEN: Friday Oct 7 2011 7pm PST / 10 PM EST
WHERE: Creveling Lounge (CC bld, 2nd floor) PCC campus, Pasadena California or

Open to the public. Entrance is free. There will be books and crafts available for sale. 

If you are unable to attend this event, you can watch a live webcast of the entire event on this website! Click here to find out the time of the webcast in your city.

Organized in collaboration with PCC’s Students for Social Justice. KPFK is a media sponsor. 

And please also see this,

For Immediate Release
Contact: Sana Shuja: 504-669-4446
Sonali Kolhatkar: 626-676-7884 

E-mail: press[at]afghanwomensmission[dot]org

Surviving the Longest War: An International Video Webcast

On the Tenth Anniversary of the US war, an underground activist
tells the real story of the Occupation and Afghan Resistance

October 7th 2011, marks the ten year anniversary of the United States’ invasion of Afghanistan. To mark this event, Afghan Women’s Mission (AWM), a U.S.-based non-profit that works in solidarity with the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA) will hold a special international online talk-back with Reena, a member of RAWA.

“Ten years of war has not made Afghanistan safer for anybody except the fundamentalist warlords in the Afghan government, and the Taliban,” said Reena. This anniversary event, in collaboration with PCC’s Students for Social Justice, will raise serious questions about the official story of the longest war the U.S. has ever officially waged, and will offer the unique perspective of an underground Afghan activist who has witnessed first-hand the impact of the war.

AWM Co-Director and KPFK’s Uprising host Sonali Kolhatkar will lead the conversation with Reena via live video streaming from the Pakistan/Afghanistan region, in front of a live audience. The event will be webcast live on AWM’s website at .

“Using the latest technology available, we are thrilled to be able to broadcast the voice of this young RAWA member – an Afghan speaking for her generation – well beyond the confines of our physical event,” said Kolhatkar. “We invite people from all over the world to mark the tenth anniversary of this war by tuning into our live web video stream of our conversation with Reena.”

Questions for RAWA member Reena will be drawn from the live in-person audience and the online audience via Facebook. The event will take place on Friday October 7th at 7pm PST (10 pm EST) at Creveling Lounge (CC Building, 2nd floor) on the campus of Pasadena City College (PCC).

Nineteen year old Reena was born an Afghan refugee in Pakistan around the time when US-backed fundamentalist fighters started a brutal civil war in Afghanistan. She lived with her family in the border town of Peshawar in severe and impoverished conditions. After moving to a refugee camp run by RAWA, Reena attended one of their literacy courses. She eventually joined the organization, working in various RAWA-run schools and orphanages and is currently a first-year University student. Since Reena was born, she has known only war in her country.

Read Sonali Kolhatkar’s September 11th, 2011 interview with Reena here.

RAWA is on the forefront of the movement for peace in Afghanistan. Their activities focus on women’s rights, human rights, and exposing the fundamentalist crimes of warlords in power, as well as the Taliban. They have criticized all foreign intervention since the time of the Soviet invasion and occupation through to today’s US/NATO war. As the oldest women’s political organization in Afghanistan, RAWA has been promoting human rights and democracy for more than 30 years. Their work is extremely dangerous – all RAWA members, including Reena, use pseudonyms, do not reveal their faces, and live and work underground.

RAWA Predicted the Failure of the War Ten Years Ago

On September 14th 2001 RAWA issued a statement warning the US against waging war on Afghanistan, saying “vast and indiscriminate military attacks on a country that has been facing …disasters for more than two decades will not be a matter of pride.”

On October 11th 2001, four days after the bombs began dropping on Afghanistan, RAWA once more urged the US to do the right thing, predicting accurately the outcome of the war in a statement: “[t]he continuation of US attacks and the increase in the number of innocent civilian victims not only gives an excuse to the Taliban, but also will cause the empowering of the fundamentalist forces in the region and even in the world.”

A month after the war began, when the Taliban were rapidly pushed out of Kabul, RAWA realized that the US was ready to replace the Taliban with their ideological brethren, the Northern Alliance (NA) warlords. They issued yet another international appeal, warning: “[t]he NA will horribly intensify the ethnic and religious conflicts and will never refrain to fan the fire of another brutal and endless civil war in order to retain in power.”

Sadly RAWA’s warnings were ignored and the last ten years have borne out their predictions.

The Human Impact of a Decade of War

Civilian casualties as a result of the ten year long Afghanistan war have been estimated at 17, 611 – 37, 208, with more than half killed directly as a result of U.S.-led military actions (Sources: UN Assistance Mission Afghanistan, Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission, Human Rights Watch, and Associated Press). A recent report by Open Society Foundation found that night raids conducted regularly by US and NATO forces in Afghan villages result in indiscriminate detentions and widespread abuse.

Politically things aren’t much better. Afghanistan’s government, dominated by the US-backed NA warlords whom RAWA warned against, is ranked the second most corrupt in the world after Somalia (Transparency International). Through the Afghan parliament, warlords have passed laws exempting themselves from prosecution for war crimes, curtailing press freedoms, and promoting women’s abuse.

Women in particular continue to suffer. A survey by UNIFEM in January 2011 revealed that a shocking 87% of Afghan women are victims of domestic violence. A UK based charity, Womankind, found that “between 60 and 80 percent of Afghan marriages are forced, with more than half of all girls married before age 16.” While women can run for office in the Afghan parliament, they are only allowed to serve if they accept the status quo. The well-known and popular activist, Malalai Joya, a representative of Farah province, was kicked out of Parliament for criticizing the US-backed warlords and has survived numerous assassination attempts.

According to RAWA member Reena, the first thing that needs to happen is for Americans to “call for the withdrawal of the troops, as the military presence has not helped Afghan people in any way.” Her opinion is supported by a majority of Americans: a Washington Post-ABC News poll in March showed that 64% of poll participants somewhat or strongly felt that the war has not been worth fighting.
RAWA member Reena is available for a limited number of interviews.