“Income inequality is on the rise. The rich control more of the country’s wealth …The ranks of the poor are growing. Sounds like the United States? Actually it’s Denmark.” So read an article “Actually, Denmark… More
In Chile’s capital Santiago, thousands marched to the city’s main cemetery on Sunday to mourn victims of the former dictatorship. On September 11, 1973, democratically elected President Salvador Allende died in the palace in a U.S.-backed coup, ushering in 17 years of brutal dictatorship under Augusto Pinochet.
— source democracynow.org
As the government decides to merge the Railway Budget and the General Budget, Union Cabinet on Wednesday scrapped the Railway Convention Committee (RCC) which determines the rate of dividend to be paid to the Finance Ministry, Railway Ministry sources said.
The Committee consisted of 18 members — 12 members from Lok Sabha and six members from Rajya Sabha. Both the Ministers of Railways and Finance are nominated members of the Committee. It was constituted in 1949 with the primary role of determining the rate of dividend, modalities of its payment and exemptions. It took on a wider role of examining various subjects related to working of the Railways and its finances since 1971.
The Union Cabinet decided on Wednesday that Railways will not pay dividend to the Finance Ministry for the capital invested in it beginning 2017-18. “Since dividend will no longer be paid, the RCC has been scrapped,” Railway Ministry officials said.
In 2016-17, the Railways is budgeted to pay Rs. 9,731 crore as dividend whereas the subsidy claimed by Railways towards loss-making routes is estimated at Rs. 4,301 crore. The net dividend payment to the Finance Ministry is estimated at Rs. 5,430 crore.
“The relief on this count will help us increase investments in track renewal, maintenance, station improvement and passenger amenities,” a top Railway Ministry official said.
However, pension will continue to be a liability of the Railways. In 2016-17, while the pension Bill is pegged at Rs. 45,500 crore, the wage Bill stands at Rs. 70,125 crore. The Railways will also bear the social commitment obligation by way of concessions or subsidised travel,” another official said.
— source thehindu.com
Reliance will swallow Indian Railway soon. Thats why they doing this now. The terrorism cover is just to blind people from the real issue.
Turkey remains in a state of crisis three days after soldiers staged an attempted coup, commandeering tanks, attack helicopters and fighter jets in a bid to seize power. More than 290 people were killed, around 1,400 wounded, Friday night. The coup began while Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, Recep Tayypip Erdogan, was vacationing at a seaside resort. The mutinous faction of the military said it had taken action to protect democracy from Erdogan.
Since the coup failed, Turkey has arrested 6,000 people, including senior members of the judiciary and military. President Erdogan blamed U.S.-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gülen for orchestrating the attempted coup. Gülen, who lives in Pennsylvania, has denied any involvement. President Erdogan has said his government may consider reinstating the death penalty to punish those responsible. More than 6,000 people were arrested.
Koray Çaliskan talking:
On Friday night at around 10:00, we began to hear rumors that the army blocked the main bridges in Istanbul, the two bridges, which are like Verrazano and George Washington bridges in New York, which was kind of strange because of traffic blocks. I mean, these bridges are only blocks; no one can cross them because of the traffic. And then it turned out that a small group within the army kidnapped chiefs of staff and plotted a coup in the country by controlling parts of the gendarmerie—rural police, rural military police force and a part of the air force. Immediately after they tried that, the head of the army in Istanbul, the general who is commanding the largest army in Istanbul, said that the army was against the coup, and they did not represent soldiers and the chiefs of staff. And he single-handedly cleaned the airport in Istanbul and contacted Erdogan, while he was vacationing with his family, to leave the place and then move to Istanbul, escorted by F-16 fighter jets. And this is how they managed to save Erdogan and bring him to Istanbul. If they didn’t, we learned later, that 62 minutes after Erdogan left, three Sikorsky helicopters arrived in the hotel that he was staying and stormed the hotel, killed two security guards and tried to find where Erdogan was, and bombed the place where he stayed.
So, this coup, actually, the first aim of the coup was not to control the entire country, because the Gülenist plotters were not powerful enough to control the country, even put together a coup, even to convince the majority of the army to be able to pursue their ends. I believe their main objective was to create chaos by either kidnapping or assassinating the president, so that the country could be in turmoil, after which they hoped to control the government and the rest of the army, which wouldn’t happen in any case, because Turkish civil society, Turkish political society, pro-Kurdish party, Nationalist party, Social Democratic Party, they all sided with democracy, condemned the coup attempt, and they showed a great democratic maturity to stand against the coup. All they could have managed was to create a huge turmoil, an unbelievable turmoil in this country, and careless, which would claim thousands of people in front of tanks, panicking soldiers.
Many of the soldiers who were on the streets didn’t know that it was a coup. They were told that there was a terror attack. They were told that there were military maneuvers. And they were also clearly shocked. So this was mostly planned, it seems, by elite Gülenist officers in the army, supported some by officers who thought that they might have benefited from this coup d’état. However, the majority of the army, the entire civil society, the media, pro or against Erdogan media, and the political society stood firmly against this coup attempt. And this was the second failed coup attempt in the history of Europe after 1981 coup attempt, a failed coup attempt, in Spain, as you’d remember. So, I believe we saved this beautiful country, and things may develop differently. After today, it may be an opportunity to build democratic institutions of this country, after the country stood firmly together against this terrible coup attempt that started on Friday night and ended in the early hours of Saturday.
United States already told Turkish government that they are expecting a firm proof that Gülenists were against it. I don’t recall any large critique of such a perspective in the country. Those who are pro or against Erdogan seem to be—arrived at the conclusion that Gülenists were behind that coup. And the government is going to present the U.S. government with proofs of that plot. If this happens, I believe the United States should have to send Gülen to Turkey.
associate professor of political science at Bogazici University in Istanbul.
— source democracynow.org
Barack Obama, winner of the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize, is planning another war to add to his impressive record. In Afghanistan, his agents routinely extinguish wedding parties, farmers and construction workers with weapons such as the innovative Hellfire missile, which sucks the air out of your lungs. According to the UN, 338,000 Afghan infants are dying under the Obama-led alliance, which permits only $29 per head annually to be spent on medical care.
Within weeks of his inauguration, Obama started a new war in Pakistan, causing more than a million people to flee their homes. In threatening Iran – which his secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, said she was prepared to “obliterate” – Obama lied that the Iranians were covering up a “secret nuclear facility”, knowing that it had already been reported to the International Atomic Energy Authority. In colluding with the only nuclear-armed power in the Middle East, he bribed the Palestinian Authority to suppress a UN judgment that Israel had committed crimes against humanity in its assault on Gaza – crimes made possible with US weapons whose shipment Obama secretly approved before his inauguration.
At home, the man of peace has approved a military budget exceeding that of any year since the end of the Second World War while presiding over a new kind of domestic repression. During the recent G20 meeting in Pittsburgh, hosted by Obama, militarised police attacked peaceful protesters with something called the Long-Range Acoustic Device, not seen before on US streets. Mounted in the turret of a small tank, it blasted a piercing noise as tear gas and pepper gas were fired indiscriminately. It is part of a new arsenal of “crowd-control munitions” supplied by military contractors such as Raytheon. In Obama’s Pentagon-controlled “national security state”, the concentration camp at Guantanamo Bay, which he promised to close, remains open, and “rendition”, secret assassinations and torture continue.
The Nobel Peace Prize-winner’s latest war is largely secret. On 15 July, Washington finalised a deal with Colombia that gives the US seven giant military bases. “The idea,” reported the Associated Press, “is to make Colombia a regional hub for Pentagon operations . . . nearly half the continent can be covered by a C-17 [military transport] without refuelling”, which “helps achieve the regional engagement strategy”.
Translated, this means Obama is planning a “rollback” of the independence and democracy that the people of Bolivia, Venezuela, Ecuador and Paraguay have achieved against the odds, along with a historic regional co-operation that rejects the notion of a US “sphere of influence”. The Colombian regime, which backs death squads and has the continent’s worst human rights record, has received US military support second in scale only to Israel. Britain provides military training. Guided by US military satellites, Colombian paramilitaries now infiltrate Venezuela with the goal of overthrowing the democratic government of Hugo Chávez, which George W Bush failed to do in 2002.
Obama’s war on peace and democracy in Latin America follows a style he has demonstrated since the coup against the democratic president of Honduras, Manuel Zelaya, in June. Zelaya had increased the minimum wage, granted subsidies to small farmers, cut back interest rates and reduced poverty. He planned to break a US pharmaceutical monopoly and manufacture cheap generic drugs. Although Obama has called for Zelaya’s reinstatement, he refuses to condemn the coup-makers and to recall the US ambassador or the US troops who train the Honduran forces determined to crush a popular resistance. Zelaya has been repeatedly refused a meeting with Obama, who has approved an IMF loan of $164m to the illegal regime. The message is clear and familiar: thugs can act with impunity on behalf of the US.
Obama, the smooth operator from Chicago via Harvard, was enlisted to restore what he calls “leadership” throughout the world. The Nobel Prize committee’s decision is the kind of cloying reverse racism that has beatified the man for no reason other than he is a member of a minority and attractive to liberal sensibilities, if not to the Afghan children he kills. This is the Call of Obama. It is not unlike a dog whistle: inaudible to most, irresistible to the besotted and boneheaded. “When Obama walks into a room,” gushed George Clooney, “you want to follow him somewhere, anywhere.”
The great voice of black liberation Frantz Fanon understood this. In The Wretched of the Earth, he described the “intermediary [whose] mission has nothing to do with transforming the nation: it consists, prosaically, of being the transmission line between the nation and a capitalism, rampant though camouflaged”. Because political debate has become so debased in our media monoculture – Blair or Brown; Brown or Cameron – race, gender and class can be used as seductive tools of propaganda and diversion. In Obama’s case, what matters, as Fanon pointed out in an earlier era, is not the intermediary’s “historic” elevation, but the class he serves. After all, Bush’s inner circle was probably the most multiracial in presidential history. There was Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell, Clarence Thomas, all dutifully serving an extreme and dangerous power.
Britain has seen its own Obama-like mysticism. The day after Blair was elected in 1997, the Observer predicted that he would create “new worldwide rules on human rights” while the Guardian rejoiced at the “breathless pace [as] the floodgates of change burst open”. When Obama was elected last November, Denis MacShane MP, a devotee of Blair’s bloodbaths, unwittingly warned us: “I shut my eyes when I listen to this guy and it could be Tony. He is doing the same thing that we did in 1997.”
— source johnpilger.com
In October every second week on Monday, Columbus Day is celebrated in western culture in general and in the America’s specifically. This is an American tradition and school children of all ages are taught about his so-called discovery of his New-World. Annual parades are given around the country, and every year dignitaries participate in these festivities.
Unfortunately, most people celebrate his holiday without knowing the truth about Columbus’s purpose for taking such risky voyages, and his horrendous behavior against the indigenous population, together with brutality against his own men.
At the other end of the spectrum, Columbus’s impact has been most devastating on the indigenous people together with African communities everywhere. For a better understanding, three historical events before Columbus’s four voyages are presented, along with the reasons for these voyages.
Three Historical Events:
The first event occurred when the African Berbers/Moors conquered the Iberian peninsula (present-day Portugal and Spain). Back then the conquered territory was identified as Andalusia and at that time was most of Spain, Portugal, parts of France, Italy and Gibraltar. Their conquest began in 711 and lasted up to the fall of Granada on January 2, 1492.
The second event is the conquest of Ceuta an Islamic city in North Africa by the Portuguese in 1415. Notably, that was over three decades before the fall of Constantinople in 1453. In the meantime, Portuguese mariners sailed beyond Cape Bojador, Morocco, for the first time in the 1430s.
By 1445, a trading post was established on the small island of Arguim off the shores of present-day Mauritania. As Portuguese ships continued to explore coastlines and rivers over the following decades, they established trade with the preexisting industries. Portuguese traders procured not only various west African commodities such as ivory, peppers, textiles, wax, grain, copper, as well as captive African slaves for exporting. At this time, these slaves were only used as servants in Europe.
In addition to building trading posts, Portugal established colonies on previous uninhabited islands off the African shores that would later serve as collection points for captive slaves, and commodities to be shipped to Europe, and eventually sent to the colonies in the Americas. After several generations, Portuguese navigator Bartolomeu Dias sailed around the Cape of Good Hope in 1488, opening up European access to the east Indies.
By the close of the fifteenth century, Portuguese merchants could circumvent commercial, political, and military strongholds in both north Africa and in the eastern Mediterranean Sea.
Indeed, they were successful in using maritime routes to bypass trans-Saharan overland trade routes controlled by Islamic Ottoman Turks.
The third event occurred in 1453, when the Islamic Ottoman Turks successfully captured Christian Constantinople (present-day Istanbul)—formerly western Europe’s main source for spices, silks, paper, porcelain, glass, and other luxury goods produced in India, China, Japan, and the spice islands (present-day Indonesia) collectively these areas were known as the east Indies, and the silk road trade route was shutdown by the Ottoman Turks conquest.
The Fall of Granada in 1492:
Obviously, the passages to the east Indies were denied to the Christian west by the Ottoman Turks who controlled the main overland routes to the Orient. Desert robbers, along with the heat and sand storms, as well as other unforeseen hazards eventually made the trip too dangerous and expensive.
The Portugal’s alternate route, by sea, was now in demand. Christopher Columbus spent the better part of his adult life embracing a different navigational solution other than Portugal’s already established maritime route. The core of his idea was sailing west across the Atlantic Ocean to the east Indies would be shorter, and quicker. Moreover, knowing modern geography makes his idea a guaranteed failure. In hindsight if his idea was correct, a world of opportunity would open up not only for him but other fortune hunters. Of course, this did not happen.
By the late 13th century, the Spanish Christian kingdoms of Castile and Aragon had reconquer most of the Islamic Berber/Moors controlled territory. In 1479, the two kingdoms were united as a result of the marriage of Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabella of Castile. The last Islamic kingdom, Granada, was lost in 1492. For Christian Spain, this conquest was the most important event in their history. After nearly eight centuries of fighting, the Christian Iberians finally defeated the African Islamic Berbers/Moors. On the second of January, 1492, King Ferdinand together with Queen Isabella rode into Granada victoriously. Columbus was present at that joyful event.
The Spanish monarchy agreed to sponsor his voyage but with stringent modifications. He angrily refused their offer and went to France for financial support. A short time afterward, the king and queen had second thoughts and decided to meet Columbus’s demands. Eventually, their courier caught up with him just before he reached France.
Upon his return, he was promised huge amounts of gold plus given the title captain of the ocean seas, along with absolute power as administrator for the future to be colonized New World. Columbus promised to bring back gold, spices, and silks, to spread Christianity, and at the same time charter a quicker route to the east Indies. Consequently, he was outfitted with three ships, the Nina, La Pinta and the Santa Maria.
Columbus’s Four Voyages:
This set the stage for his four voyages. All of them had some sort of disaster. Which begin with his maiden voyage in 1492 that was disaster number one. While exploring an uncharted island he name Hispaniola (present-day Dominican and Haitian Republics), on Christmas Day he wrecked his flag ship the Santa María; together with the help of the indigenous Taino people using wreckage from the ship and anything else they could find to built small fortress named La Navidad (Christmas in English). He left 39 men at the fortress, and proceeded to Spain to request funding for another voyage.
Unknowing to Columbus, the left-behind Spaniards began enslaving the Taino women for domestic work, which, after several months, led to armed conflict with the Taino’s, who destroyed the temporary settlement, killing them. Upon returning to Spain on the La Niña with a little gold, parrots, spices, and Taino captives that Columbus displayed for the Spanish Monarchy convinced them of the need for a rapid second voyage. He received a great deal of fanfare. Columbus was cheered and followed everywhere he went. After all he was ” admiral of the ocean sea ” and governor-general of the new lands he discovered.
In reality, he did not bring anything in the way of gold or other valuable items like he promised, and he certainly did not find a shorter route to the east Indies. However, he did display some indigenous Taino’s whom was forcibly bought to the Monarchy with a few trinkets of gold. His persuasiveness convinced the Spanish monarchy to finance a second voyage of discovery and colonization; later with the blessing of Pope Alexander VI in the Treaty of Tortillas on June 7, 1494. Which assign spheres of influence in the Americas to Portugal and Spain.
Leaving the Canary’s Islands on October 13, 1493, Columbus’s second voyage of conquest was outfitted with a huge fleet of 17 ships, domesticated animals, with over 1,000 colonists together with six priests, attack dogs and canons. Notably, from an African perspective, this was the precursor to chattel slavery and colonialism.
Arriving in Hispaniola in late November to find the fort of La Navidad destroyed with no survivors. Immediately, other fortified places were built, including a city, founded on January 2, and named La Isabella in honor of the queen. On February 2 Antonio de Torres left La Isabella with 12 ships, some gold, spices, parrots, and Taino captives (most of whom died en route), as well as the bad news about Navidad and some complaints about Columbus’s methods of governance.
Meanwhile, he managed to find a small source of gold on Hispaniola. Columbus forced the natives to work in gold mines as slaves until they died of exhaustion. If a Taino did not deliver his full quota of gold dust by his deadline, soldiers would cut off the man’s hands and tie them around his neck to send a message. Slavery was so intolerable to the island people that at one point, 100 of them committed mass suicide. Catholic law forbids the enslavement of Christians, but Columbus solved this problem. Although, priests were available to convert natives into Christians, he simply refused to have them baptize, in all likelihoods never intended to do so.
One of his men, Bartolome De Las Casas, was so mortified by Columbus’ brutal atrocities against the native peoples, he became a Catholic priest. He described how the Spaniards under Columbus’s command cut the legs off of children who ran from them, to test the sharpness of their blades. According to him, the men made bets as to who, with one sweep of his sword, could cut a person in half.
In a single day, De Las Casas was an eye witness as the Spanish soldiers dismembered, beheaded, or raped 3000 native people. ” Such inhumanities and barbarisms were committed in my sight as no age can parallel, ” He wrote. ” My eyes have seen these acts so foreign to human nature that now I tremble as I write. ”
Columbus had been appointed governor and Viceroy of the new lands by the Spanish crown, and for the next year and a half, he attempted to do his job. Although, he was a good ship’s captain but an inapt administrator. The one thousand or so colonialist sole purpose was to seek gold, and none was to be found. The gold they had been promised never materialized, and what little gold was discovered was sent to the Spanish crown. In the meantime, supplies began to run out, and it was discord in the colony. Columbus used brutality and cruelty to restore order. With the supplies almost gone in March of 1496, he returned to Spain for more resources to keep the struggling colony from failing.
In Spain this time around he was not met with jubilation, on the contrary, there were skepticism and doubt about his venture. However, he managed to get enough financial support, and his third expedition left on May 30, 1498 with six ships. The fleet split into two squadrons; three ships to sail directly for Hispaniola with supplies to the colonists, and the other three led by Columbus’s further exploration of the uncharted islands.
After a short time exploring, Columbus returned to Hispaniola on August 19, 1498, he found open hostility. As a matter of fact, it was civil unrest by the colonist. The constant unrest was resolved when Ferdinand and Isabella appointed Francisco de Bobadilla as royal commissioner, with administrative powers in Hispaniola.
His first order of business was to send the Admiral and his two brothers Bartolome and Diego back to Spain in chains in October of 1500. At this point, he came from being the Admiral of the Oceans seas to a miserable failure. Despite the justifiable charges brought against Columbus and his two brothers, the Spanish Monarchy released them. Considering, he was sending them gold all along, perhaps not as much as he promised but gold non-the-less.
Christopher Columbus made a fourth voyage, to search for the Strait of Malacca to the Indian Ocean. Mindfully, when examining a current map his westward theory was doomed from the beginning; On May 11, 1502, four old ships and 140 men under Columbus’s command put to sea from the port of Cadiz. Insultingly, he was forbidden to enter Hispaniola the colony he founded.
He proceeded to explored parts of southern, and central America. However, his ships were damaged by a hurricane and termites. Columbus and his men unable to seek assistances in Hispaniola were stranded on Jamaica for a year before being rescued.
This concludes Columbus four voyages, which were all failures; beginning with wrecking the Santa Maria in Hispaniola, and on the second voyage running out of supplies; and on the third upon his return was arrested together with his two brothers and sent back to Spain in chains. On his fourth voyage, he was not allowed in Hispaniola, although it was the island, he founded. More insulting was he was stranded on Jamaica for a year before returning to Spain.
Contrarily, the Caribbean Islands is often called the west Indies. With certainty, the descendants of the native inhabitants are mistakenly called Indians around the world because Columbus believed until his death, he was in the east Indies. After 25 years of Spanish occupation, the Taino’s populations, numbered several million in 1492, were reduced to about 50,000.
In today’s contemporary world, he would be guilty of crimes against humanity with evidence from his diary, as well as, accounts from his own men. In all probabilities, he would be sentenced to death or life in prison.
Columbus Day, was brought on by the Knights of Columbus, a fraternal service organization. Back in the 1930s, they were looking for a Catholic hero as a role-model. In 1934, as a result of lobbying by the Knights of Columbus, Congress and President Franklin Roosevelt signed
Columbus Day into law as a federal holiday.
In western culture, there are some whom honor and worship him, and others recognized his atrocities, and loathe him. For those that honor and worship him, it might be worthwhile to Google ” Columbus slave trade, ” it just might change their opinions.
None the less, Columbus Day from an African perspective has a different dynamic altogether. His decade of exploration was founded on the principals of conquering and destroying other culture’s economic livelihoods and at the same time enhancing the Spanish crown. The rest of Europe followed these principals resulting in 500 years of their domination. More specifically, it started with Columbus’s second voyage in 1493 as previously mentioned.
Shortly after his alleged discovery the world was divided by two European world powers at the time, which was Spain in Portugal. The Roman Catholic Pope was ecstatic over the discovery of the so-called New World by Columbus. The Pope divided the world between Portugal and Spain in the treaty of Tortillas in 1494. Where Portugal was assigned Brazil, both coastal shores of Africa, the southern and eastern shores of Asia, and the east Indies.
On the other hand, Spain was given the Americas, the Philippines, and future lands encountered by Columbus. These two historical events set the precedent of conquering other cultures, which was condoned and embrace by the two super powers then, and later all of Europe.
Within these same scenarios, White-Supremacy evolved based on color. Whereas, white represent supremacy in contrast to people of color whom were deemed inferior, which is the foundation of racism. After 500 years these principals, although modified for all intents and purposes are still prevalent today.
By establishing a permanent foothold based on conquering, Spain took the first steps towards building their mighty empire by destroying indigenous Aztecs, Incas and Mayan cultures, and then a century later the rest of Europe followed using the same conquering techniques. The evidence is 500 years of Western domination.
In the process of profitable plantations during the 1500s, expanded the demand for African slaves in the colonies in the New-World. Trade in slaves soon overshadowed gold as the main export of the area. At this time in history, Portugal’s trading post off the shores of Africa became one of the principal sources of slaves. By the early 16th century, the native slave trade was not sufficient. As they died out, Africans were imported for the plantations in the New-World.
The wealth and the trade it generated by the Spanish conquests were enormous and within Europe was the backbone around which capitalism was built. As the native populations of the Americas were wiped out merchants made more profits by importing Africans and selling them to work the tobacco, sugar, cotton plantations and mines.
Later in the century, England, France, and the Dutch joined in the enslavement of Africans. Notably, Portugal together with Spain already had an established slave trade in Latin America a century before their arrival.
A hidden fact is the majority of the African slaves were sent to Latin America led by Spain and Portugal, whom were influenced by Columbus’s enslaving the native Americans. These fact still prevails today where the majority of the slave descendants are in Latin-America.
It would be a gross oversight not to mention Australia, together with Africa. The aborigines of Australia suffered the same fate as the natives in Columbus’s so-called New World. Summarily, three continents were destroyed and now being controlled by victors of western culture based on Christopher Columbus conquering principals.
Although, Africa has been colonized and their cultural and economic progress has been altered forever. Colonization was planned during a conference held in Berlin from 1884 until 1885. The purpose of this conference was to use their superiority of weapons to partition Africa. There were six countries evolved led by England, France, Portugal, Spain, Germany and Belgium, partition Africa according to their economic interest.
Due to Columbus’s conquering precedent Africa and Australia were also victimized just as the other two continents in his New-World. It can be said with certainty that Christopher Columbus conquering exploits have benefited western culture. At the other ends of the spectrum, to some degree people of color and Africans particularly are at the same time suffering.
Obviously, there are two sides to every story. Specifically, this presentation is from the African communities’ perspective. It must be said, collectively, these communities are the victims of slavery as well as colonialism along with other Africans scatter around the world.
Conclusively, for the descendants of the native populations in the New-World, and within the African, communities everywhere together should conclude that Columbus Day is nothing but a huge April Fool’s Joke.
— source globalresearch.ca By Sabamya Jaugu
Officials at the Afropunk music festival announced Friday that M.I.A., the British-Sri Lankan hip hop artist, was being dropped as the headline act for the event to be held at the Alexandra Palace in London on September 24.
The festival organizers took the decision after M.I.A. came under fire from racialist forces when she criticized the Black Lives Matter movement in the US for its narrowness and indifference to the fate of refugees and displaced people around the world.
In April, M.I.A. (Mathangi ‘Maya’ Arulpragasam, born 1975) told the London Evening Standard, “It’s interesting that in America the problem you’re allowed to talk about is Black Lives Matter… Is Beyoncé or [rapper] Kendrick Lamar going to say Muslim Lives Matter? Or Syrian Lives Matter? Or this kid in Pakistan matters? That’s a more interesting question. And you cannot ask it on a song that’s on Apple, you cannot ask it on an American TV programme, you cannot create that tag on Twitter, Michelle Obama is not going to hump you back.”
The comment stirred reactionary elements in the UK into action. In an editorial published June 15, “MIA Shouldn’t Be Performing at Afropunk London,” Tobi Oredein of British lifestyle magazine Black Ballad displayed her ultra-racialist outlook: “I’ve imagined what it must be like to be at a festival where it is an unfiltered celebration of blackness—all blackness… I have dreamed of the day when Afropunk would arrive in London, so I can stand among black women and hear the British screams of jubilation as we celebrate ourselves on an open field.” (The festival has been held annually in Brooklyn, New York since 2005.)
Oredein’s fantasy of self-congratulation was apparently disrupted by M.I.A.’s legitimate comments about millionaire American performers and their self-absorption. Oredein went on to lambaste the Tamil rapper because she “had the nerve to criticise black struggles.” She complained that M.I.A. was “not an [sic] racially black woman or a woman of black origin,” yet she “spoke out of spite & hatefulness for a movement [i.e., Black Lives Matter] that is trying to save the lives of the festival’s target audience.” She continued, “If Afropunk is truly for us, then put people on stage that look like us.”
This is foul stuff, not very different from the filth that might be found in a white supremacist rag.
Various individuals thereupon posted to Twitter that they planned to boycott the Afropunk festival. Initially, the festival organizers claimed that M.I.A. would still be the headline act. Behind the scenes, they were apparently working on the best manner of organizing and presenting their capitulation.
For her part, M.I.A. announced at the time her decision to pull out. She responded to Oredein and others on June 19 and 20 via Twitter: “Accusing me of racism is no better then being accused of terrorism—yet the number of people killed by Americans’ stamped wars continue”; “It’s not the first time my words have been twisted—when u see drones we don’t think what’s the colour of the person flying it? We c USA”; and, finally, “Sorry I’m not doin Afropunk. I’ve been told to stay in my lane. Ha, there is no lane for 65mil refugees who’s lanes are blown up!”
In their July 15 statement, the festival organizers hypocritically presented their act of McCarthyite-type censorship as an act of considerable courage and even moral rectitude. (This is a festival that advertises itself as standing opposed to sexism, racism, “ableism,” ageism, homophobia, “fatphobia,” transphobia and “hatefulness” in general).
The statement declared: “A key part of the AFROPUNK ethos has always been educating one another, breaking down boundaries and sparking conversation about race, gender, religion, sex, culture and everything that makes life worth living. This exchange has meant receiving wisdom, as well as imparting it in the most respectful way possible, with the participation of our entire community of fans, creators and artists. This community is something we are incredibly proud of, and this community will always be a priority for us.
“We are excited and honored to do our first AFROPUNK Festival in London and want to do it right. After discussing the situation with the artist and the community, a decision was agreed upon by all involved that M.I.A will no longer headline AFROPUNK London.”
Presumably, piercing the doubletalk, M.I.A.’s offense was not “imparting” her wisdom “in the most respectful way possible.” In other words, she spoke truths that were not palatable to the “entire community,” including right-wing, racialist elements.
Mathangi Arulpragasam was born in London in 1975 to Sri Lankan Tamil parents. When she was very young, her parents moved back to Sri Lanka. Her father, Arul Pragasam, was a Tamil activist who was a co-founder of the Eelam Revolutionary Organisation of Students (EROS), most of whose early membership later joined the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). M.I.A.’s childhood was spent in the midst of government repression and violence in Jaffna, in northern Sri Lanka. Her family went into hiding from the army. Eventually, her mother moved with her children to India and, in 1986, returned to London.
M.I.A. knows something about the consequences of sectarian-communalist warfare. Hundreds of thousands of people died in the 26-year war waged by successive Colombo governments against the separatist LTTE. On Twitter, she has condemned the killing of “147,000 Tamil civilians… by the Sri Lankan terrorist Regime.”
She has also defended Julian Assange of WikiLeaks and whistleblower Edward Snowden and indicted the US for its wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, where there are “1.3 to 2 million dead since 9/11.”
An M.I.A. concert in New York City in November 2013 was opened by a live address from Assange, via video conference. Assange spoke to the audience for ten minutes, championing Snowden, warning of the dangers of NSA spying and imploring the singer’s fans to become politically aware and active in seeking to change the world for the better.
M.I.A. has every right to criticize Beyoncé and Kendrick Lamar. The former singer and her husband, rapper Jay-Z, both millionaires many times over, travel in privileged circles around the Obamas and other leading Democratic Party figures. Beyoncé performed both at Barrack Obama’s 2013 inaugural ball and Michelle Obama’s fiftieth birthday party.
Kendrick Lamar’s hit song “Alright” has become an unofficial anthem of Black Lives Matter demonstrations. At the 2015 BET (Black Entertainment Television) awards ceremony, he performed the song atop a police car in front of a giant American flag. Obama has met with Lamar, his “favorite rapper,” in the Oval Office and recruited him to be the face of the White House’s “My Brother’s Keeper” affirmative action initiative.
M.I.A.’s 2015 “Borders” expresses solidarity with those trying to flee war-torn or economically devastated regions of Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia. It shows scenes of young men trapped behind and attempting to scale barbed-wire fences and of boats overflowing with refugees. On June 19, she tweeted, “When I stand for people from all over the world—it’s hard to say if anyone is more important then the other. Surely equality is key.”
— source wsws.org By David Walsh and Zac Corrigan