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Veil of Silence

January 4, 2011

One of our favourite writers, Jay Griffiths, recently highlighted the existence of a hit list compiled by the Kopassus, the Indonesian army’s notorious special forces unit. This list of civilians, which includes church ministers, youth leaders, legislators and even an anthropologist, identifies individuals who have been targeted for assassination by the Indonesian authorities because they have stood up for freedom and democracy in occupied Timor-Leste and West Papua. Despite the US Leahy Law which forbids the funding of military bodies which violate human rights, president Obama, under the guise of the ‘war on terror’. We highly recommend you read and distribute Jay’s Guardian comment. A recent post featured on West Papau Media Alerts also summarizes the problems the people of West Papau face…

A Veil of Silence is Killing Papua

Originally from

By John Barr

Isak Jeksen Mebri shot dead by an Indonesian soldier in Wutung border area with Papua New Guinea on 11th February; an estimated 30 people killed in the Paniai Regency in July: a journalist, Ardiansyah Matrais, found dead in a river near Merauke on 27th July; Naftali Kwan and Septinus Kwan shot dead by Police Mobile Brigade in Manokwari on 16th September; video footage obtained in October showing the torture of Papuans by the Indonesian military in the Tingginambut area; Ismail Lokobal found dead from a bullet wound after police shoot indiscriminately and Amos Wetibo shot dead in the head after refusing to get down from a police vehicle in Wamena on 4th October; 29 homes burned in Brigiragi Village in Puncak Jaya by officers of the Police Mobile Brigade on 11th October – and the list goes on.

Violence against the local population continues in Papua, the most eastern part of Indonesia and few people are held accountable.

Komnas HAM is the National Human Rights Commission in Indonesia and its report on the human rights situation in the Land of Papua (commonly known as West Papua) is disturbing reading. Matius Murib, Vice Chair in Papua, highlights a serious scenario where Papuans continue to suffer human rights violations at the hands of the Indonesian military and police.

“The actors most responsible are not held accountable” says Matius. Indeed, law enforcers and military officers operating in many parts of Papua gain impunity due a lack of media and public exposure. Arbitrary detention of protesters and sexual violence against women is common. Community leaders and their families are harassed and threatened. People live in constant fear.

Papua rarely makes the news. This is because media is restricted and international scrutiny is minimal. Much has changed in the rest of Indonesia in recent years with the process of “reformasi” and real progress towards democracy. These developments deserve recognition and significant praise.

But things remain the same in Papua. Little has changed since the days of Suharto and his “New Order” regime. The military are in control and no-one appears to be answerable to the violence that is continually inflicted on locals.

A veil of silence encircles Papua and justice appears to be as aloof as ever. The Papuans I know fear the future. Effectively, they are experiencing a slow death.

This is simply not good enough. The world must take note!

For more information about West Papau visit WEST PAPAU MEDIA ALERTS and FREE WEST PAPAU


The Land Will Remain

January 2, 2011

When we published a piece on the Chagossians yesterday it was met with accusations of hidden agendas, which we’re convinced was not the author’s intention. O’Dea’s piece may have been impassioned (as Edward Abbey said: “Love implies anger. The man who is angered by nothing cares about nothing.”), but the basic premise of the original article (now edited at the request of the author), that those who control the land control our lives, is undeniable (hence the original title, We Are ALL Chagossians). Some people may feel comfortable in their servitude (make no mistake, unless you have direct access to the land you are in servitude to somebody!), but the greatest obstacle to real freedom is the belief that we are already free. O’Dea mentioned Simon Fairlie’s article from The Land magazine, which gives an in depth understanding of enclosure. But perhaps the most compelling and concise piece on this subject is The Land‘s own manifesto…

The Land: Manifesto

Demands to “make poverty history”, and the responses from those in power, revolve around money: less debt, freer and fairer trade, more aid. Rarely will you hear someone with access to a microphone mouth the word “land”.

That is because economists define wealth and justice in terms of access to the market. Politicians echo the economists because the more dependent that people become upon the market, the more securely they can be roped into the fiscal and political hierarchy. Access to land is not simply a threat to landowning élites — it is a threat to the religion of unlimited economic growth and the power structure that depends upon it.

The market (however attractive it may appear) is built on promises: the only source of wealth is the earth. Anyone who has land has access to energy, water, nourishment, shelter, healing, wisdom, ancestors and a grave. Ivan Illich spoke of “a society of convivial tools that allows men to achieve purposes with energy fully under their control”. The ultimate convivial tool, the mother of all the others, is the earth.

Yet the earth is more than a tool cupboard, for although the earth gives, it dictates its terms; and its terms alter from place to place. So it is that agriculture begets human culture; and cultural diversity, like biological diversity, flowers in obedience to the conditions that the earth imposes. The first and inevitable effect of the global market is to uproot and destroy land-based human cultures. The final and inevitable achievement of a rootless global market will be to destroy itself.

In a shrunken world, taxed to keep the wheels of industry accelerating, land and its resources are increasingly contested. Six billion people compete to acquire land for a variety of conflicting uses: land for food, for water, for energy, for timber, for carbon sinks, for housing, for wildlife, for recreation, for investment. The politics of land — who owns it, who controls it and who has access to it — is more important than ever, though you might not think so from a superficial reading of government policy and the media. The purpose of this magazine is to focus attention back onto the politics of land.

Rome fell; the Soviet Empire collapsed; the stars and stripes are fading in the west. Nothing is forever in history, except geography. Capitalism is a confidence trick, a dazzling edifice built on paper promises. It may stand longer than some of us anticipate, but when it crumbles, the land will remain.


January 1, 2011

The Plight of the Chagossians

by D. O’Dea

Prior to 1968 the Chagos Archipelago, a group of seven atolls comprising more than 60 individual tropical islands in the Indian Ocean, was inhabited by a people known as the Îlois or Chagossians.

Originally of combined African (in particular Madagascar, Mozambique and Mauritius – many having once been held as slaves to the French colonists) and Indian heritage, generations of Chagossians had settled in Diego Garcia, Peros Banhos, Egmont Islands, Eagle Islands and the Salomon Island Chain. Life wasn’t easy, but they had succeeded in establishing a largely self-sufficient society and spoke their own – now endangered – language. The Îlois were -and remain – a people recognised under international law with a sovereign right to the land which holds the graves of their ancestors.

Unfortunately the British saw things differently.

The Chagos Archipelago was previously part of the colony of Mauritius. Throughout the years of Western colonialism Mauritius was ‘owned’ by the Dutch (who named it in honor of Prince Maurice of Nassau), then the French and eventually the British, who ‘won’ it during the Napoleonic Wars.  In 1965 Mauritius was well on the way to independence, so the British brokered a deal which would allow them to hang on to territory in an area of immense strategic importance to both the British and American military. As part of their independence agreement the Mauritians were required to hand over the Chagos Archipelago – and the future of 5000 Chagossians – to the British and the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT) was established.

Almost immediately after the formation of the BIOT Britain secretly leased Diego Garcia to the US for 50 years (expiring in 2016), with the option of a 25 year extension (which would take the occupation to 2041). As this was the height of the Cold War the US promptly built a nuclear military base called ‘Camp Hope’. Diego Garcia has been of central strategic importance to the US  ever since. In the last decade Diego Garcia has been used to launch bombing raids against Iraq and Afghanistan. Camp Hope, like its more famous Guantanamo counterpart, is also believed to be a CIA black site. George W Bush admitted to the existence of black sites years ago, but European democratic states have maintained blanket denial despite the existence of a European Union report adopted on February 14, 2007, by a majority of the European Parliament which concluded that it was not possible to contradict evidence that secret detention centres were operated in Poland and Romania.

In 1967 the British government shut down the plantations and stopped supply ships from landing in the BIOT area. Then, with no warning or consultation, the islanders were told that they were all being evicted. Their livestock was slaughtered and their homes were destroyed. In the following years, from 1967 to 1973, some 2000 Chagossians were expelled from their homeland by the British government. Despite the fact that the Chagossians were entitled to dual British citizenship, the British state falsely declared that the Chagossians were in fact citizens of the Republic of Mauritius, and so the evictees found themselves living, often in very poor conditions, in Mauritius and the Seychelles.

The Chagossians have been fighting to return to their homelands ever since. Subsequent British governments, both Tory and Labour, have continued to oppose them all the way, denying their status as a people and their right to settle in the islands of the Chagos Archipelago. Despite a landmark decision by the High Court in November 2000 which ruled that the expulsion of the Chagossians was indeed unlawful, and regardless of the then Foreign Affairs Secretary, Jack Staw, being forced to concede on May 21, 2002 that Chagossians were, in fact, British citizens (which itself may yet be a poison chalice used to deny the Chagossians a right to claim compensation), the British state is still stopping the Chagossians from returning home – saying that Britain has an obligation to the treaty it signed with US!

The most disturbing ploy so far used by the British government to deny the Chagossians their homeland was exposed by a Wikileaks Cable leak:

“Establishing a marine reserve might, indeed, as the FCO’s Roberts stated, be the most effective long-term way to prevent any of the Chagos Islands’ former inhabitants or their descendants from resettling in the BIOT. End Comment.” – HMG Cable May 2009 (09LONDON1156)

In other words the British government consciously used the widespread environmental concerns of people from around the world to ensure the ongoing existence of a military base (I hope they’re using Green Bombs!), or as Ben Fogle, co-patron of The UK Chagos Support Association, said in a letter to the Guardian on December 8th, 2010:

Forty years ago, thousands of people were forcibly and illegally removed from their homeland, the British Indian Ocean Territory, to make way for Diego Garcia, a US military base. The expulsion has been described by some as UK foreign policy’s darkest day. Since then the islanders have fought for the right to go home. They won it from the high court, but the privy council took it away. It now seems, from US information released by WikiLeaks (Foreign Office accused of misleading public over expelled ‘Man Fridays’, 4 December), that the Foreign Office has no regrets over its illegal action, and has been planning to destroy the islanders’ campaign by making their former home a marine sanctuary, in which no one would be allowed to live.

As a long-term advocate of conservation, I am horrified that the UK government has used this to keep the islanders from returning to their rightful home, and that I was duped into supporting the creation of the marine sanctuary under false pretences. According to the leaked documents, Colin Roberts, the FCO’s director of overseas territories, told the US that there would be no “Man Fridays” on the islands and said: “We do not regret the removal of the population.” The FCO described the all-party parliamentary group campaigning for the Chagos people’s right to return as a “persistent” but relatively non-influential group. I now regret my support of the marine sanctuary and look forward to joining the islanders in their campaign to return home.


Tell The Children The Truth…

December 21, 2010

The simple truth about liberty, simply put…

We refuse to be
What you wanted us to be;
We are what we are:
That’s the way (way) it’s going to be. You don’t know!
You can’t educate I
For no equal opportunity:
(Talkin’ ’bout my freedom) Talkin’ ’bout my freedom,
People freedom (freedom) and liberty!
Yeah, we’ve been trodding on the winepress much too long:
Rebel, rebel!
Yes, we’ve been trodding on the winepress much too long:
Rebel, rebel!

Babylon system is the vampire, yea! (vampire)
Suckin’ the children day by day, yeah!
Me say: de Babylon system is the vampire, falling empire,
Suckin’ the blood of the sufferers, yea-ea-ea-ea-e-ah!
Building church and university, wo-o-ooh, yeah! –
Deceiving the people continually, yea-ea!
Me say them graduatin’ thieves and murderers;
Look out now: they suckin’ the blood of the sufferers (sufferers).
Yea-ea-ea! (sufferers)

Tell the children the truth;
Tell the children the truth;
Tell the children the truth right now!
Come on and tell the children the truth;
Tell the children the truth;
Tell the children the truth;
Tell the children the truth;
Come on and tell the children the truth.

‘Cause – ’cause we’ve been trodding on ya winepress much too long:
Rebel, rebel!
And we’ve been taken for granted much too long:
Rebel, rebel now!

Robert Nesta 'Bob' Marley, poet & visionary


IN COMMON: Liberties & Commons For All!

December 18, 2010

Libertalia was founded on the ideal of universal liberties and commons for all. It was a classless society where “no Hedge bounded any particular Man’s Property.” and prizes and money taken at sea were “carry’d into the common Treasury, Money being of no Use where every Thing was in common.” The following article by Peter Linebaugh is presented as an introduction to commoning, an idea which, in a time of endless imperialist wars and relentless ecocide, has become more vital than ever. But it is also an idea which, thanks to the widespread introduction of communications technology, is more possible than ever…

“All For One and One For All!”

Some Principles of the Commons


Human solidarity as expressed in the slogan “all for one and one for all” is the foundation of commoning. In capitalist society this principle is permitted in childhood games or in military combat. Otherwise, when it is not honored in hypocrisy, it appears in the struggle contra capitalism or, as Rebecca Solnit shows, in the disasters of fire, flood, or earthquake.

The activity of commoning is conducted through labor with other resources; it does not make a division between “labor” and “natural resources.” On the contrary, it is labor which creates something as a resource, and it is by resources that the collectivity of labor comes to pass. As an action it is thus best understood as a verb rather than as a “common pool resource.” Both Lovelock’s ‘Gaia Hypothesis’ and the environmentalism of Rachel Carson were attempts to restore this perspective.

Commoning is primary to human life. Scholars used to write of ‘primitive communism’. ‘The primary commons’ renders the experience more clearly. Scarcely a society has existed on the face of the earth which has not had at its heart the commons; the commodity with its individualism and privatization was strictly confined to the margins of the community where severe regulations punished violators.

Commoning begins in the family. The kitchen where production and reproduction meet, and the energies of the day between genders and between generations are negotiated. The momentous decisions in the sharing of tasks, in the distribution of product, in the creation of desire, and in sustaining health are first made here.

Commoning is historic. The ‘village commons’ of English heritage or the ‘French commune’ of the revolutionary past are remnants from this history, reminding us that despite stages of destruction parts have survived, though often in distorted fashion as in welfare systems, or even as their opposite as in the realtor’s gated community or the retailer’s mall.

Commoning has always had a spiritual significance expressed as sharing a meal or a drink, in archaic uses derived from monastic practices, in recognition of the sacred habitus. Theophany, or the appearance of the divine principle, is apprehended in the physical world and its creatures. In north America (“turtle island”) this principle is maintained by indigenous people.

Commons is antithetical to capital. Commmoners are quarrelsome (no doubt), yet the commons is without class struggle. To be sure, capital can arise from the commons, as part is sequestrated off and used against the rest. This begins with inegalitarian relations, among the Have Lesses and the Have Mores. The means of production become the way of destruction, and expropriation leads to exploitation, the Haves and Have Nots. Capital derides commoning by ideological uses of philosophy, logic, and economics which say the commons is impossible or tragic. The figures of speech in these arguments depend on fantasies of destruction – the desert, the life-boat, the prison. They always assume as axiomatic that concept expressive of capital’s bid for eternity, the a-historical ‘Human Nature.’

Communal values must be taught, and renewed, continuously. The ancient court leet resolved quarrels of over-use; the panchayat in India did – and sometimes still does — the same, like the way a factory grievance committee is supposed to be; the jury of peers is a vestigial remnant which determines what a crime is as well as who’s a criminal. The “neighbor” must be put back into the “hood,” as they say in Detroit, like the people’s assemblies in Oaxaca.

Commoning has always been local. It depends on custom, memory, and oral transmission for the maintenance of its norms rather than law, police, and media. Closely associated with this is the independence of the commons from government or state authority. The centralized state was built upon it. It is, as it were, ‘the pre-existing condition.’ Therefore, commoning is not the same as the communism of the USSR.

The commons is invisible until it is lost. Water, air, earth, fire – these were the historic substances of subsistence. They were the archaic physics upon which metaphysics was built. Even after land began to be commodified during English Middle Ages it was written,

But to buy water or wind or wit or fire the fourth,

These four the Father of Heaven formed for this earth in common;
These are Truth’s treasures to help true folk

We distinguish ‘the common’ from ‘the public’. We understand the public in contrast to the private, and we understand common solidarity in contrast to individual egotism. The commons has always been an element in human production even when capitalism acquired the hoard or laid down the law. The boss might ‘mean business’ but nothing gets done without respect. Otherwise, sabotage and the shoddy result.

Commoning is exclusive inasmuch as it requires participation. It must be entered into. Whether on the high pastures for the flock or the light of the computer screen for the data, the wealth of knowledge, or the real good of hand and brain, requires the posture and attitude of working alongside, shoulder to shoulder. This is why we speak neither of rights nor obligations separately.

Human thought cannot flourish without the intercourse of the commons. Hence, the first amendment linking the rights of speech, assembly, and petition. A moment’s thought reveals the interaction among these three activities which proceed from lonely muttering to poetic eloquence to world changing, or

Bing! Bing! the light bulb of an idea
Buzz! Buzz! talking it over with neighbors or co-workers
Pow! Pow! telling truth to power.

Peter Linebaugh teaches history at the University of Toledo. The London Hanged and (with Marcus Rediker) The Many-Headed Hydra: the Hidden History of the Revolutionary Atlantic. His essay on the history of May Day is included in Serpents in the Garden. His latest book is the Magna Carta Manifesto. He can be reached at: plineba[at]yahoo[dot]com

This article was first published by CounterPunch

SUPPORT ‘OPERATION PAYBACK’, ‘SUPPORT ‘WIKILEAKS’!.. You Can Steal Our Land, But You Will Never Own Our Unconquerable Souls

December 8, 2010

“What are kingdoms but great robberies? Indeed, that was an apt and true reply which was given to Alexander the Great by a pirate who had been seized. For when that king had asked the man what he meant by keeping hostile possession of the sea, he answered with bold pride, ‘What thou meanest by seizing the whole earth? Because I do it with a petty ship, I am called a robber, whilst thou who dost it with a great fleet art styled an emperor.’”
– Augustine of Hippo, The City of God, 410 CE .

Caraccioli – the former priest turned pirate who encouraged our esteemed Captain Misson to found Libertalia – once observed: ‘that every Man was born free, and had as much right to what would support him, as to the air he respired… that the vast difference betwixt man and man, the one wallowing in luxury, and the other in the most pinching necessity, was owing only to avarice and ambition on the one hand, and a pusillanimous subjection on the other … ambition creeping in by degrees, the stronger family set upon and enslaved the weaker; and this additional strength over-run a third, by every conquest gathering force to make others, and this was the first foundation of monarchy.

In the revolutions against feudalism we rid ourselves of the abuses and excesses of monarchy (only to place the yolk of government upon our shoulders), but we failed to return the land (those stolen kingdoms of Augustine of Hippo)  to the people who rightfully own it – us.

Until such a time that we can build our own lands we are forced to live as tenants on land which is rightfully ours.

Luckily there is one place where Liberty still has room to breathe; a place where, at this very moment, a significant battle is being fought – one that could change things for all of us.

In cyberspace knowledge is still a great leveller; corporations may have all the wealth and governments may have all the guns, but this is one place where integrity still counts for something and the authorities are finding it practically impossible to limit our liberties in the same way they do in the ‘real world’.

One of the most successful internet campaigns launched in the name of freedom is Wikileaks.

Incredibly, by sticking to the 1st Amendment, Wikileaks have made an enemy of the US government. And around the world governmental hatred of Wikileaks is such that their democratic masks are slipping to reveal the tyrants which lie beneath. Sadly they have shown that they’re not beyond using dirty tricks to try and bring down their Wikileaks. No truly freeborn being would be able to find it in their heart to sit back and let this happen.

That the US are trying to use ‘national security’ as an excuse shows how far they have strayed from their own ideas of liberty. For it was one of their own Founding Fathers, Benjamin Franklin, who said: “Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

The corporations were quick to show their true colours; Amazon, Mastercard, VISA and PayPal suspended payments of donations to the Wikileaks site. This prompted an attack from another lover of liberty – Operation Payback.

Created by AnOpps, an anonymous, decentralized movement which fights against censorship and copywrong, Operation Payback fights for greater liberty in an ever more fascistic world. In response to attacks on Wikileaks they have managed to partially freeze the Mastercard website.

Support Wikileaks! Support Operation Payback!

Liberties & Commons for All!!!

Zen and the Art of Seafaring

December 6, 2010

All at Sea (a critique of critics and a celebration of free minds)

by D. O’Dea

This is not written as a review; free spirits have little need of critics – only the anxiety drenched consumer classes yearn to be told what they should enjoy 😉 Rather it has been written as an affront to the soulless jerk who described Bernard Moitessier’s classic work, ‘The Long Way‘, as “drudgery” and “wank”.

This is a little surprising when a ‘wank’ (as in a brief moment of selfish fun, rather than a deep and meaningful encounter) is exactly the kind of thing that critics like this are looking for. They’re happy enough to pass an hour on a beach with a good book, but they lack the soul to sail beyond that beach with a guide-book. The fact that the reviewer believes that the urge to roam is a “pathology” tells us everything we need to know about his spirit of adventure – or lack thereof. And that’s the problem here, a person who is satisfied with mere escapism will always lack the courage to truly escape – these fools would rather be entertained than enlightened any day. As for Moitessier’s reasons for traveling the world, he himself answered the question by saying: “You do not ask a tame seagull why it needs to disappear from time to time toward the open sea. It goes, that’s all.”

You kinda know that he should stick to reading Harry Potter when he describes Zen in the Art of Archery as having “suited its time during its time only” and Saint Exupéry’s Wind Sand Stars as “beautiful nonsense”. The problem, of course, is that critics are so wrapped in their own egos that they really do think that a spiritual connection with the living moment – oneness with the nowness which is, in truth, all that we possess – is ‘nonsense’. In fact the reviewer appears to be of the mind that anything which can’t be bought and sold, owned and controlled, is nonsense; hence he describes Moitessier’s meditations as  “a mash of New Testament longing, hippie idealism, nature worship and corporate baiting all stewed together.” One might respond to this statement by arguing that a decline in spirituality, our lack of respect for nature, and the corporate control of the world’s power bases has brought us to the point that we’re all in danger of being stewed together! Maybe we should have listened to those damn hippies?

I’m not suggesting that people who have circumnavigated the world are somehow more ‘free’ than the rest of us. There is much truth to Homer’s observation: “They change their skies, not their souls, those who go over the seas.” The world is now overrun with rich, widely traveled imbeciles who tick off destinations like numbers on a bingo card, but a true cosmopolitan is still an incredibly rare thing; Moitessier however knew his own place: “I am a citizen of the most beautiful nation on earth. A nation whose laws are harsh yet simple, a nation that never cheats, which is immense and without borders, where life is lived in the present. In this limitless nation, this nation of wind, light, and peace, there is no other ruler besides the sea.” We can all – no matter where, or what our personal circumstances are – learn something about freedom and the human condition from true adventurers like Saint Exupéry or Moitessier.

The Long Way must be read as an epic journey, not skimmed like some Disney ride. Certainly there is repetition and times when the going is slow (Moitessier’s description of travelling through the doldrums is all too realistic), but that’s life. And that’s exactly what the reviewer has failed to understand. The Long Way is a good and honest sailing/travel book, but it’s also a log of an existential expedition that all too few of us will ever embark upon. But if you want to make the most of your life the first thing you need to do is (either metaphorically or actually) sail beyond your comfort zone and expose yourself to the elements. You may be able to find knowledge in books and maps and even on TV or the internet, but wisdom can only be discovered through direct experience:

“The geography of the sailor is not always the one of the cartographer, for whom a cape is a cape with its longitude and latitude. For the sailor, a great cape is both very simple and extremely complex, with rocks, currents, furling seas, beautiful oceans, good winds and gusts, moments of happiness and of fright, fatigue, dreams, aching hands, an empty stomach, marvelous minutes and sometimes suffering. A great cape, for us, cannot be translated only into a latitude and a longitude. A great cape has a soul, with shadows and colors, very soft, very violent. A soul as smooth as that of a child, as hard as that of a criminal.”

Bernard Moitessier, ‘The Long Way

‘The Long Way by Bernard Moitessier is available from Amazon and other bookshops (but why not do eveyone a favour and get it into you’re local library 😉 )