In the wake of 9/11, on Saturday, September 22, 2001, eleven years ago today, my friend Martin Baumgold decided to stand at the Seventh Street Park in Hudson, New York to demonstrate for peace. The world needed to find peace, and he saw that. He’s been at it since. Every week. Every Saturday. People have come to stand with him, and they have gone away. New ones have come and they too have gone away. Usually, there are 3 or 4 or even 5 people standing at the South side of the Seventh Park on Warren Street. Martin is undeterred, he stands anyway. He’s not the leader of a movement; he just hopes that others will stand with him. But even if they don’t, obviously he’s in it for the long haul.
If you’re too far away from Madison to participate in person, please stand in Solidarity with the demonstrators by doing something to show your support. Buying pizza is always good. Posting on a blog is good. Organizing your own demonstration is great. You get the idea. Let’s do it.
Well, here I go again, oversimplifying, being idealistic, possibly ranting. To all of these I plead guilty. In advance.
President Obama’s made a few statements about the demonstrations in Wisconsin. The most widely disseminated one is this one, reported in TPM:
Well I’d say that I haven’t followed exactly what’s happening with the Wisconsin budget. I’ve got some budget problems here in Washington that I’ve had to focus on. I would say, as a general proposition, that everybody’s gotta make some adjustments to new fiscal realities. And I think if we want to avoid layoffs — which I want to avoid, I don’t want to see layoffs of hard-working federal workers.
We had to impose, for example, a freeze on pay increases for federal workers for the next two years, as part of my overall budget freeze. You know, I think those kinds of adjustments are the right thing to do.
click On the other other hand, some of what I’ve heard coming out of Wisconsin — where you’re just making it harder for public employees to collectively bargain, generally — seems like more of an assault on unions.
And I think it’s very important for us to understand that public employees, they’re our neighbors, they’re our friends. These are folks who are teachers, and they’re firefighters, and they’re social workers, and they’re police officers. You know, they make a lot of sacrifices, and make a big contribution, and I think it’s important not to vilify them, or to suggest that somehow all these budget problems are due to public employees.
So, I think everybody’s gotta make some adjustments, but I think it’s also important to recognize that public employees make enormous contributions to the well being of our states and our cities.
Sounds, feels, smells and looks like a politician. It’s balanced. It’s cautious. It looks over his shoulder to wonder which side might ultimately win the Battle of Madison. It sounds like he’d like to be on the winning side for 2012. What it doesn’t sound like by any means is leadership.
Leadership would be going to Madison and linking arms and standing in solidarity with the demonstrators and union members against the reactionaries and would-be union busters. It would be standing up to the Koch funded “movement.” It would be explaining clearly to all who would listen that these unions are important to sustained high pay in Wisconsin and the nation, and that the antedeluvian effort to kill these unions must be defeated. The Wisconsin football stadium might be a good place to hold the rally.
The President, however, hasn’t shown any signs that he’s ready to lead a fight for labor, his largest supporter. It looks like he might still want to invoke politesse and refer to these union busters as “the right to work” advocates with whom he has a small disagreement.
These people don’t deserve that kind of deference. They have ginned up a plan to destroy public unions and are inflexible about it. They will not modify it or back off from it. They plan to destroy public unions. Period. They have begun by trying drive a wedge between public workers’ unions. The teachers and highway workers and bureaucrats are ok to beat up on and they won’t be able to bargain, but those the cops and firefighters, which are more traditionally Republican, will.
Today’s mock phone call with “David Koch” proved beyond all cavil that Scott Walker is the lead dog running a national union busting movement. He doesn’t care at all about the state’s budget. This is another item entirely. This for Walker is only about destroying public unions. Yes, it’s happening through the state legislatures, but this is a manifestation of an organized, well funded, nationwide movement to emasculate public workers’ unions.
That’s why the unions can’t afford to lose this battle. And it’s why President Obama needs to organize an appearance in Wisconsin. The unions have already conceded on the economic issues in this confrontation by agreeing to pay more for their health insurance and to contribute more to their pensions. Those issues are not what’s keeping 14 Wisconsin legislators under cover in Illinois (or elsewhere). No. They are outside the state solely to protect collective bargaining. It bears repeating. What makes the confrontation persist is only one thing: the governor’s adamant refusal to drop his plan for withdrawal of collective bargaining rights for certain Wiaconsin public workers. Plain and simple: the Governor insists on destroying these unions.
That’s why the national democratic leadership in Washington needs to go to Wisconsin. And they need to go now. This is a confrontation that can and should be won. Obama and the national leadership have to stop playing Bert Lahr. They have to show up in numbers, and they have to roar.
The movement for democracy in Iran persists. The New York Times reports that demonstrations have again erupted in the streets of Tehran, and that to no one’s surprise, the Government has repressed them:
Iranian security forces fired repeated rounds of tear gas, and militiamen wielding batons moved in quickly to try to disperse thousands of protesters who massed in the streets of central Tehran on Thursday evening, witnesses said, defying government warnings and resuming a strategy of direct confrontation with the police nearly a month after Iran’s disputed presidential election.
The protesters set trash alight and threw stones. Motorists honked horns in solidarity, as shopkeepers closed for business but opened their doors to offer refuge to demonstrators fleeing from the militia forces, witnesses said.
There was no immediate word on arrests or injuries.
Throwing aside admonishments of a “crushing response” by the state security forces, the demonstrators gathered on the 10th anniversary of violent confrontations at Tehran University, both to mark that event and to commemorate the demonstrators who were killed in the turmoil after the June 12 election, which the protesters say was corrupt and invalid.
The Times says that the protest was initially “festive,” even though police in riot gear had shut down the streets. But then, as was threatened by the regime:
…the effort to halt the protest quickly turned violent, people at the scene said. A middle-aged woman ran through the crowd, her coat covered with blood stains. Trash fires burned, cloaking the streets in black smoke, as protesters lobbed rocks at security forces. Two men held a huge floral arrangement of yellow and purple flowers on green leaves in commemoration of those killed last month and in 1999, a witness said.
“Tell the world what is happening here,” one 26-year old engineering student demonstrator said. “This is our revolution. We will not give up.”
Asked what he wanted, he said, “We want democracy.”
And so, phoenix like, the demonstrations for democracy in Iran continue. The press embargo continues (the Times article was datelined from Cairo). The Government was not reported to fire bullets at demonstrators. However, reports of detention of large numbers of demonstrators and also their lawyers continue, as do reports of torture and disappearance. It was not reported what opposition leaders say about the current demonstrations, but their web sites continue to contest the election. And it appears that there may be a split in the clerical backbone of the Government.
The Twitter feed for #iranelection is still active, though the volume seems lower than last week. It continues to report the democracy movement.
I am delighted by the news. I was afraid that the democracy movement had been snuffed out. That it was over. But I see now that was not the case. The movement hasn’t given up, and it is still asking us to stand in solidarity with it.
Well, well, well. The 3-day waiting period is over. And guess what? Nothing’s changed, not really. The coup remains defiantly in power, the coup is withdrawing from OAS, Manual Zelaya is still in Costa Rica, his ministers are still in hiding in Honduras, the press is still embargoed. And demonstrations by both sides continue. For now, it’s apparently a standoff. Diplomacy seems not to have made a change; next is economic sanctions.
The demonstrations in support of democracy have grown. El Tiempo reports:
El verdadero pueblo está en las calles apoyando al presidente en el exilio, Manuel Zelaya Rosales, aseguraron ayer más de dove comprare viagra generico 25 mg a Bologna 20.000 manifestantes que protestaron por la restitución del mandatario.
La marcha, una de las más numerosas que los simpatizantes de Zelaya Rosales han efectuado desde el domingo pasado, día en que se perpetró el golpe de Estado en su contra, paralizó en un principio el Bulevar Juan Pablo II desde horas de la mañana….
Seguidores de Zelaya Rosales aseguraron que ellos son la voz del pueblo.
a multitudinaria manifestación en apoyo a Manuel Zelaya compitió paralelamente con la concentración de quienes están del lado del actual gobierno, sin embargo, ambas estuvieron muy parejas en cuanto a la cantidad de participantes.
There were, of course, large pro-golpista demonstrations as well.
Honduras’ refusal to restore ousted President Manuel Zelaya despite an appeal by the top envoy for the Americas has put the impoverished nation on a collision course with the world community that could lead to its isolation.
Honduras said it would no longer recognize the Organization of American States charter, claiming the diplomatic body attempted to impose ”unilateral and indignant resolutions” on the new government, which took power a week ago in a military-backed coup and forced Zelaya into exile.
OAS chief Jose Miguel Insulza had demanded Zelaya be restored to office, and on Saturday the organization was to discuss suspending the Central American nation’s membership. But Honduras’ interim president, Roberto Micheletti, said ”the OAS is a political organization, not a court, and it can’t judge us,” according to a note to Insulza read on Honduras’ television Friday night.
The move means Honduras, one of the poorest countries in the Americas, will leave the OAS and will not face sanctions by the organization, though it would not prevent other groups and countries from suspending aid and loans.
Nations around the world have promised to shun Micheletti. Neighboring countries have imposed trade blockades, the United States has halted joint military operations and European Union ambassadors have abandoned the Honduran capital. The World Bank already has suspended $200 million in financing, and the Inter-American Development Bank has put $450 million on hold.
Unfortunately, it’s unclear whether the golpistas care about any of this. It depends on whom the burden from the loss will fall. If the burden falls primarily and disproportionately on Honduras’s poor and not on the oligarchy, the sanctions will matter little to the coup. Only if the sanctions seriously impact the oligarchy, will they be an impetus to the restoration of democracy.
And the US? Will it withdraw its ambassador? Will it cut off all non-humanitarian aid? Apparently this is in the works.
The U.S. Embassy issued a statement Friday expressing ”deep concern over restrictions imposed on certain fundamental rights” by Micheletti’s government, including a curfew and ”reports of intimidation and censorship against certain individuals and media outlets.”
Military cooperation has already been suspended. And so was US Aid last week. Here’s the official description:
The State Department said Thursday it has put much of the U.S. aid program to Honduras on hold pending a legal determination as to whether the overthrow of elected President Manuel Zelaya last Sunday requires an aid cut-off. The United States meanwhile is cautioning Mr. Zelaya against an early attempt to return home.
The State Department’s legal team will probably determine that the overthrow of President Zelaya does fit the definition of a military coup, thus mandating a U.S. aid cut-off.
In the meantime, State Department Spokesman Ian Kelly said Thursday the Obama administration has effectively frozen those parts of the U.S. aid program – mainly military and non-humanitarian assistance – that would be covered by an aid cut-off.
Put simply, the money is on hold until a determination is made.
And in the meanwhile, it’s not at all clear what can be done to hasten the restoration of democracy in Honduras.
For my part, I support the restoration of democracy in Honduras, and I oppose the golpe de estado. I oppose the arguments made by coup apologists and from the oligarchy diaspora.
With one day left before OAS imposes sanctions on the coup, José Miguel Insulza, secretary general of the Organization of American States, is in Honduras today delivering the OAS’s message that Manual Zelaya must be reinstated as president. If he’s not reinstated, presumably by tomorrow, Honduras will be expelled from the OAS and various other sanctions may be imposed. The US is studying whether what happened in Honduras fits the legal definition of a “coup.” If it does, cutting off all aid to Honduras is statutorily required.
With the 3-day period imposed by OAS for the restoration of democracy and the Presidency of Manual Zelaya in Honduras slowly ticking down, diplomacy is proceeding between OAS and Roberto Micheletti’s government. The military coup has imposed a harsh curfew, a feature of which is the withdrawal of various civil rights. Neither side has so far blinked. No progress in resolving the coup has been reported.
According to the New York Times OAS diplomacy to end the military coup in Honduras is proceeding. The United States role in this apparently is to give a cold shoulder to the coup, to cut off joint military operations, and to threaten a cessation of all aid if Zelaya is not restored to the presidency.
As the public standoff between Honduras and the rest of the world hardened, quiet negotiations got under way on Wednesday to lay the groundwork for a possible return of the nation’s ousted president, Manuel Zelaya.
After a marathon session that stretched close to dawn, the Organization of American States “vehemently” condemned the removal of Mr. Zelaya over the weekend and issued an ultimatum to Honduras’s new government: Unless Mr. Zelaya is returned to power within 72 hours, the nation will be suspended from the group.
Diplomats said they had rarely seen the hemisphere’s leaders unite so solidly behind a common cause.
The new Honduran government was equally resolute, warning that there was no chance Mr. Zelaya would be restored to office and that the nation would defend itself by force.
Both sides have stated their positions. Both appear inflexible. Has there been any movement? No. The OAS secretary general, José Miguel Insulza, went to Tegucigalpa today for further talks. Proposals being discussed involve an amnesty for the golpistas, Manual Zelaya saying he won’t seek an additional term, and restoration of Zelaya as President. Also, members of the Congress in Honduras are reportedly looking for a compromise. Details of those proposals aren’t available.
Meanwhile, according to the Times, the conflict in Honduras continues to be highly polarized:
Demonstrations for and against the new government continued in Tegucigalpa and other cities across the country [on Wednesday]. Then, in a move to crack down on the opposition, the nation’s Congress approved a decree on Wednesday that applies during the overnight curfew and allows security forces to arrest people at home and hold them for more than 24 hours.
“It’s for the tranquillity of the country,” said the new president, Roberto Micheletti.
The government has accused pro-Zelaya demonstrators of vandalism and violence, noting that a grenade, which did not explode, was hurled at the Supreme Court on Tuesday. Those who oppose the government, meanwhile, accuse the security forces of stifling dissent through brutality.
The withdrawal of civil rights is serious. It includes curtailing the right to assemble and to seek redress from the Government as well as the right not to be held without charge for more than 24 hours. These measures apparently permit the Government to detain the opposition if the arrests are made during the curfew:
According to Honduras’ El Tiempo, the following constitutional guarantees have been suspended:
* Article 69, which guarantees the personal freedom.
* Article 71, which states that no one can be detained or held incommunicado for more than 24 hours without an arrest warrant.
* Article 78, which guarantees freedom of association and freedom of assembly.
* Article 81, which states, “Everyone has the right to free movement, to leave, enter and remain in national territory.”
El Tiempo reports that with the aforementioned guarantees suspended, “no one can hold meetings, neither public nor private, be it in the streets, in churches, in their own homes, or in union or guild halls.”
he anti-coup movement’s momentum appears to be building across Honduras, with protests reported across the country. Meanwhile, international pressure builds against the coup government.
Over the past two days, anti-coup protests were reported in Tocoa, Colon; San Pedro Sula; La Ceiba; El Progreso, Yoro; Tegucigapla; Intibuca; El Paraiso; Olancho; Santa Barbara; and all over President Zelaya’s native department of Olancho. Moreover, the BBC reports that citizens have blocked major highways in Copan and Tocoa. The BBC’s sources on the ground in Honduras say anti-coup protests have occurred in the majority of Honduras’ departments.
And so, we sit and wait. I hope there will be a diplomatic resolution of the problem and a restoration of democracy in Honduras. In the meanwhile, there is very little any of us can do except to watch and to spread the news.
Ousted Honduran President Jose Manuel Zelaya said Wednesday he will not return to his home country until at least Saturday, after a three-day international deadline to reinstate him.
Zelaya had said earlier he would return to Honduras on Thursday. Provisional Honduran President Roberto Micheletti said Tuesday that Zelaya would be arrested on multiple charges if he returns.
The Organization of American States passed a resolution early Wednesday saying that Zelaya should be returned to power within 72 hours. The United Nations unanimously passed a similar resolution Tuesday afternoon.
The refusal to reinstate Zelaya, according to the OAS, will cause it to suspend Honduras’s OAS membership. Many OAS members have already withdrawn their ambassadors and cut off relations with the Micheletti coup government. The US has had nice words to support democracy, but has taken little if any action to restore Zelaya.
Unfortunately, and despite virtually universal condemnation, Micheletti continues to talk tough. In an interview with AP he continued his bravado and his defiance:
A defiant Roberto Micheletti said in an interview with The Associated Press late Tuesday that “no one can make me resign,” defying the United Nations, the OAS, the Obama administration and other leaders that have condemned the military coup that overthrew President Manuel Zelaya….snip
[The OAS’s three day] period for negotiation prompted Zelaya to announce he was putting off his plans to return home on Thursday until the weekend.
Micheletti vowed Zelaya would be arrested if he returns, even though the presidents of Argentina and Ecuador have signed on to accompany him along with the heads of the Organization of American States and the U.N. General Assembly.
Zelaya “has already committed crimes against the constitution and the law,” said Micheletti, a member of Zelaya’s Liberal Party who was named interim leader by Congress following the coup. “He can no longer return to the presidency of the republic unless a president from another Latin American country comes and imposes him follow link using guns.”
enter Honduran police clash with pro-democracy demonstrators
The military coup that deposed Honduran President Manual Zelaya has been denounced by almost everyone except the Honduran military. President Obama said about it, “We stand on the side of democracy, sovereignty and self-determination.” The OAS has condemned the coup. ALBA has condemned the coup. The UN General Assembly has condemned the coup. Central American nations have sealed their borders with Honduras. Most (except El Salvador) have also withdrawn their ambassadors. Roads are blocked in the country.
Police and soldiers clashed with pro-Zelaya protesters in the capital on Monday, and about 5,000 anti-Zelaya demonstrators gathered at a main plaza in Tegucigalpa on Tuesday to celebrate his ouster.
What is to happen next appears to be a confrontation, a face-off between the deposed President and the military coup that arrested and deported him.
Earlier today it was reported that President Zelaya will return to Honduras on Thursday:
Ousted Honduran President Manual Zelaya has announced that he will return to Honduras on Thursday. “I’m going to finish my four-year term, whether or not you coup leaders are in agreement,” he stated.
Zelaya will return to Honduras accompanied by the Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), José Miguel Insulza, and a commission of Latin American presidents. The Argentine government has announced that its President Cristina Fernandez will accompany Zelaya to Honduras as part of the presidential commission. In a press conference following his speech to the United Nations General Assembly, Zelaya stated that Ecuadoran President Rafael Correa will also accompany him.
Colinas, Santa Barbara, Mayor Amable de Jesus Hernandez told TeleSUR that citizen caravans were being organized to travel from his region to the capital of Tegucigalpa on Thursday to receive President Zelaya.
Initially, earlier today, the return of the deposed president and other officials wasn’t supposed to be a direct confrontation with the military forces that arrested and forcibly deported him to Costa Rica:
Reports in Honduran and international press that interim President Roberto Micheletti says that “if Zelaya sets foot on Honduran soil he will be arrested” are overblown, thanks in large part to a provocative headline in that regard published by Colombia’s Radio Caracol. Yes, Micheletti has stated that Honduran courts have issued arrest warrants against Zelaya, but thus far he has not definitively stated that his forces will attempt to arrest Zelaya…
The [Radio Caracol] interviewer asked Micheletti how he planned to respond in the event that Zelaya … returned on Thursday. Micheletti responded: “My country’s courts have arrest warrants against him for breaking the law.” He then went on to explain his case for why Zelaya had broken the law when he attempted to carry out a public opinion poll on forming a new constitutional convention to draft a new constitution. Micheletti never told Radio Caracol that his government planned to act on the aforementioned arrest warrants.
Protesters on Monday faced off against the soldiers of an illegitimate Government to demand the restoration of their stolen democracy. It’s not Iran. It’s Honduras. And because it’s Honduras, which is in this very hemisphere, squashing a democratically elected government like a Palmetto Bug seems in the Trad MediaTM to be less of an outrage. After all, Honduras doesn’t have oil. It doesn’t have nukes. It’s not part of the dreaded axis of evil. It never held US citizens hostage. Sure, the US has destabilized it in the past century, exploited its natural resources, turned it into a Banana Republic. But so what, the US did that to virtually every country in this hemisphere. Even now the Honduran military has strong ties to the US. So it’s different from Iran, right? Real different. Or is it?
One day after the country’s president, Manuel Zelaya, was abruptly awakened, ousted and deported by the army here, hundreds of protesters massed at the presidential offices in an increasingly tense face-off with hundreds of camouflage-clad soldiers carrying riot shields and automatic weapons.
The protesters, many wearing masks and carrying wooden or metal sticks, yelled taunts at the soldiers across the fences ringing the compound and braced for the army to try to dispel them. “We’re defending our president,” said one protester, Umberto Guebara, who appeared to be in his 30s. “I’m not afraid. I’d give my life for my country.”
Leaders across the hemisphere joined in condemning the coup. Mr. Zelaya, who touched down Sunday in Costa Rica, still in his pajamas, insisted, “I am the president of Honduras.”
Maybe I’ve been distracted by other things: Michael Jackson, Gov. Sanford, Farrah, Ed McMahon, US v. Brazil, Honduras. I missed something about Iran.
I implied on Saturday that the Iran Revolution was in ashes, but that I hoped there was a fire under them. Then I disconnected from the story. I turned away. I assumed it really was over. Finished. But, thankfully, I was wrong. It’s not really over. The demonstrations continued on Sunday. Despite the threats. Despite the arrests. Despite the violence. This movement has not succumbed to the brutality and violence.
Several thousand protesters – some chanting “Where is my vote?” – clashed with riot police in Tehran on Sunday as Iran detained local employees of the British Embassy, escalating the regime’s standoff with the West and earning it a stinging rebuke from the European Union.
Witnesses said riot police used tear gas and clubs to break up a crowd of up to 3,000 protesters who had gathered near north Tehran’s Ghoba Mosque in the country’s first major post-election unrest in four days.
Some described scenes of brutality, telling The Associated Press that some protesters suffered broken bones and alleging that police beat an elderly woman, prompting a screaming match with young demonstrators who then fought back.
The reports could not be independently verified because of tight restrictions imposed on journalists in Iran.
So, I was wrong. It’s not over. The demonstrations are continuing. Smaller perhaps. But continuing.
Twitter about #iranelection has slowed down. But it’s still constantly updated. And from what I’m reading, it’s not over. It continues. It continues despite brutal repression.
It’s dropped down on but not off the front page. The New York Times reports the Sunday demonstrations on page 1:
In spite of all the threats, the overwhelming show of force and the nighttime raids on private homes, protesters still flowed into the streets by the thousands on Sunday to demonstrate in support of Mr. Moussavi.
Mr. Moussavi, who has had little room to act but has refused to fold under government pressure, had earlier received a permit to hold a ceremony at the Ghoba mosque to honor Mohammad Beheshti, one of the founders of the 1979 revolution who died in a bombing on June 28, 1981, that killed dozens of officials. Mr. Moussavi used the anniversary as a pretense to call a demonstration, and by midday the streets outside the elaborately tiled mosque were filled with protesters, their arms jabbing the air, their fingers making a V symbol, for victory.
The demonstrators wore black, to mourn the 17 protesters killed by government-aligned forces, and chanted “Allah Akbar,” or God is great.
“There was a sea of people and the crowd stretched a long way onto the main street on Shariati,” said one witness, who remained anonymous because he feared retribution.
What started as a peaceful demonstration turned into a scene of violence and chaos by late Sunday, witnesses said.
So, it is not over. It may move down the front page. It may move off the front page. It may move off of this blog. But there was fire beneath the ashes, as we assumed, and this is not over. Not yet.
As I wrote before, we need to remember the demonstrators and continue in solidarity with them:
All we can do outside of Iran is bear witness as the struggle unfolds. And while we bear witness, we can continue to lift our voices as individuals (and not as a government) in solidarity with the demonstrators. And offer our thoughts and prayers* for a peaceful resolution. And find other, creative ways to support the struggle in Iran for democracy and freedom.
The Iranian Democracy movement is absolutely worthy of our personal (as opposed to governmental) support. Support and solidarity at this point require, indeed permit only the simplest of things. There are only simple things we can and should do:
Things like changing our location and time zone on Twitter to Tehran and GMT +3.5 hours. Things like making our avatar green. Things like reading the posts of those who are there. Things like posting and distributing their videos on youtube. Things like writing blogs and asking others to link arms with them in solidarity. Things like talking about what ideas we might have that could be of help to them. [Things like putting a green ribbon on docuDharma]
These are things that might be completely ineffective to help Iranians achieve democracy, to get a new, fair election, to overturn the sham outcome of their last election, to prevent governmental violence and repression. I realize that. But that’s not what’s important. That’s not what’s important now.
What’s important, I think, is our continuing solidarity with this struggle, our saying, however we can say it, “Brothers and Sisters, we’re with you. We want you to succeed. We want you to be safe, and free. We want you to obtain the change you seek.”
Let’s stand firm with the Iranian democracy movement. Let’s not forget them.