Accountability for Assad’s Murder of Marie Colvin: A Precedent for Justice?

By Javier SethnessColvin RIP

Originally published on Notes Toward an International Libertarian Eco-Socialism

On Thursday, January 31, a U.S. judge found the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad responsible for the targeted assassination of U.S. journalist Marie Colvin in Homs in 2012. A reporter for The Sunday Times, Colvin had been covering the regime’s besiegement of the Baba Amr district of Homs, whose population had rebelled against Assad’s rule as part of the Revolution which had begun in the southern city of Der’aa in March 2011. Though evacuated with other internationals and journalists within days of her arrival as a precautionary measure in light of a threatened regime offensive, Colvin returned with the French photojournalist Rémi Ochlik and British photographer Paul Conroy to the improvised community media center from where they had been reporting. As Conroy describes, he, Colvin, and Ochlik believed that, by reporting on the regime’s besiegement of Baba Amr, they could affect world opinion and bring relief to civilians under fire.  It was from Baba Amr that Colvin courageously went live on CNN, the BBC, ITN News, and Channel 4 News, on February 21, 2012, to belie the Assad regime’s fabrications that its assault on the district was exclusively targeting so-called “terrorists.” It was for this reason that the regime killed her, the very next morning after the broadcast. They triangulated her location via her cell signal due to Colvin’s bravery in broadcasting the devastating truth to the world, murdering her and Ochlik in a targeted artillery strike. As judge Amy Jackson observes in her ruling, Colvin was “specifically targeted because of her profession, for the purpose of silencing those reporting on the growing opposition movement in the country.”

Colvin’s remarkable story is told in two recent films: Under the Wire and A Private War. I will not here be discussing Under the Wire, which is brilliantly reviewed by Muhammad Idrees Ahmad in the New York Review of Books here. Instead, I will offer some comments about A Private War, a 2018 dramatization of Colvin’s life, directed by Matthew Heineman and written by Marie Brenner and Arash Amel.

Though Colvin covered armed conflicts for three decades, in A Private War, we follow her in her later assignments to war zones in Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya. It is amidst covering Sri Lanka’s civil war that Colvin suffers a disfiguring injury, leading her to wear a distinctive eye-patch over her left orbit. While there is little sense in the film that Colvin had an anti-imperialist critique of U.S. participation in wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya, the film depicts her dynamic and increasingly humanist approach to journalism, culminating in her martyrdom in Homs in February 2012. During the Libya segment, which takes place shortly after the outbreak of protests against Mua’mmar al-Qaddafi, we see Colvin outright interviewing the autocrat. Though Colvin never had the chance to question Assad—she was no Vanessa Beeley, a neo-fascist propagandist, but rather the Syrian despot’s direct victim—we get the sense that the writers and director are here channeling Assad’s specter through Colvin’s interaction with Qaddafi, given their similarities, from political authoritarianism to inter-personal repulsiveness and sexism, and their common opportunistic use of nationalist, ‘socialist,’ and ‘anti-imperialist’ rhetoric to legitimize their crimes. It follows logically that both Qaddafi and Assad would present essentially all opposition to their rule as “al-Qaeda” and/or “terrorists,” as they have.

Continue reading “Accountability for Assad’s Murder of Marie Colvin: A Precedent for Justice?”

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The Fall of Der’aa: Assad’s Counter-Revolution Triumphant

By Javier Sethness

Deraa
Aftermath of Assad regime air strikes over residential areas in Der’aa, Syria, 14 June 2017 (Muhammed Yusuf/Anadolu Agency)

The latest news from southern Syria is that Assad Regime forces, backed by heavy Russian aerial bombardment, Iranian artillery strikes, and allied paramilitary infantry, have fully retaken the revolutionary city of Der’aa near the southwestern border with Jordan. This is the very “birthplace” of the Syrian Revolution, as it was in this city in March 2011 that 15-year old Mouawiya Syasneh and his comrades, expressing their youthful sympathies for the ongoing Arab Revolts—which by that time had toppled Zine al-Abidine bin Ali and Hosni Mubarak—wrote graffiti on a wall in southern Der’aa, proclaiming in Arabic, “Your turn, Doctor,”[1] “Freedom” (حرية), and “The People Want the Fall of the Regime” (الشعب يريد السقوط النظام).

The indignation felt at the regime’s callous threat to disappear fifteen teenage boys accused of collectively authoring such seditious messages was the spark for the Syrian Revolution against Bashar al-Assad and the Ba’ath Party. As of mid-June 2018, Syasneh was still alive and fighting the Regime, following his taking up of arms, presumably with the Free Syria Army’s (FSA) Southern Front, in 2013. At that time, he declared that his “opinion of the revolution ha[d]n’t changed. For us, the revolution continues,” whereas his comrade Samer Syasneh recalled that, “In the beginning, I was proud of being the reason for the revolution against oppression. But with all the killing, the displacement and the homelessness over the years, sometimes I feel guilty.”

There is no lack of evidence of destruction in Syria. Since March 2011, armed conflict in Syria has caused 3 million homes to be razed, with the Regime accused of responsibility for 90 percent of this destruction. More than half a million Syrians have been killed, including 200,000 civilians, and the Assad-Putin-Iran axis has been found responsible for more than 90 percent of these civilian deaths. More than half the country’s population, or about 12 million people, have been displaced either internally or across international borders—though in the face of a resurgent chauvinism both in Europe and the United States, as in countries neighboring Syria, increasingly more refugees are being forced to return, in violation of international law, despite the immense risks. The fate of Der’aa, bombed into submission by Russia, Iran, and the Regime and thus violently reintegrated into the Ba’athist State, resembles that of Darayya, Eastern Aleppo, and Eastern Ghouta, other rebel-held territories that have fallen in the recent months and years, after having been subjected to devastating scorched-earth tactics.

An estimated 350,000 Syrians fled the Regime’s offensive against the Der’aa governorate which began on June 12, being so forced to enter the desert and request asylum from neighboring Jordan and Israel, both of which cruelly maintained their borders closed, notwithstanding the plea by the United Nations’ special envoy for Syria that 750,000 lives were at risk. Several displaced children have been reported as dying already due to thirst, scorpion bites, and exposure, and the Regime has repeatedly bombed field hospitals for the displaced. At least two hundred civilians died in Regime and axis attacks on the city. Many of those displaced lacked rudimentary shelter against the desert heat and winds, with little to no food. Meanwhile, the Jordanian government shamelessly has refused entry to these would-be refugees, and even clarified that it would provide material aid to these “enemies of the State” only insofar as Assad would permit this. Indeed, in a telling manifestation of capitalism’s basis in accumulation by dispossession, both Jordan and the Syrian Regime have celebrated Assad’s capture of the Nasib-Jaber border crossing from FSA control, anticipating a reactivation of exploitation and extraction within the free-trade zone that had existed there until the Revolution. Nevertheless, the Jordanian people have mobilized in a spirit of mutual aid to support those fleeing Assad and Putin’s war machine.

Continue reading “The Fall of Der’aa: Assad’s Counter-Revolution Triumphant”

Call to Action, 6/9: Abolish and Prosecute ICE! Support All Immigrants and Refugees!

(Courtesy Encyclopedia Britannica and It’s Going Down)

Monthly Coalition for Peace, Revolution, and Social Justice (CPRSJ) Demonstration
Saturday morning, June 9, 10:00am-12:00pm

Suggested slogans:
Melt ICE!
ICE OUT!
No Borders!
Support Immigrants and Refugees Everywhere!
Immigrant Rights Is a Women’s Issue!
Immigrant Rights Is a Labor Issue!
US Hypocrisy: Bomb Assad but Don’t Admit Refugees!
Smash racism! Smash white supremacy and capitalism!
Against War and Imperialism Everywhere!

MEET 10 AM at Junipero Serra Park next to Union Station, downtown LA
Rally then march over to nearby ICE headquarters

Sponsor:
Coalition for Peace, Revolution, and Social Justice (CPRSJ) https://cprsj.wordpress.com/

Conveners of CPRSJ:
Black Rose/Rosa Negra Anarchist Federation-Los Angeles
Colectiva Contra Autoridad
International Marxist-Humanist Organization, West Coast Chapter
Socialist Party, Los Angeles Local
Members of Solidarity: A Socialist, Feminist, Anti-Racist Organization, Los Angeles Bran

Co-Sponsors of this demonstration (list in formation):

 

Sidewalk Rally, March 28th: Protest the Racist Assassination of Socialist Feminist Marielle Franco in Brazil!

marielle-franco
“Survival is our best form of resistance.”

Wednesday, March 28, 5-7PM
outside Brazilian Consulate
8484 Wilshire Blvd (corner La Cienega)
Beverly Hills

Sponsored by the Coalition for Peace, Revolution, and Social Justice
https://cprsj.wordpress.com/

Socialist activist and immensely popular Rio de Janeiro city councilwoman Marielle Franco was an unapologetically Black, lesbian, and feminist champion of Brazil’s favelas and oppressed. On March 14, only days after exposing another police atrocity in the favelas, she and her driver, Anderson Pedro Gomes, were brutally murdered by gunmen using police-issued ammunition. We call this rally to honor her legacy and to call for justice. We stand with the tens of thousands in Brazil and around the world condemning this latest crime in the long war against Black people, women, LGBTQIA folks, and the working classes.

Suggested slogans:
Stop the Genocide of Black People in Brazil
Who killed Marielle Franco?
Marielle Franco Presente e Marielle Vive! (Marielle Franco is Present and Marielle Lives!)
Black, Queer, Woman, Socialist: Murdered because she was all.
#SayHerName
For Marielle, I say no! I say no to military intervention!
Down with Brazilian fascism! Down with police gangsters!
Justice for Marielle! Justice for the favelas!

More information:
https://www.blackrosefed.org/marielle-franco-presente/
https://www.blackrosefed.org/brazil-farj-interview-marielle/
https://www.imhojournal.org/articles/black-feminist-marielle-francos-assassination-reveals-the-banality-of-death-in-brazil/

Report-back from Year 2 of Trump: L.A. Rise Up!

Last night, January 26, 2018, the Coalition for Peace, Revolution, and Social Justice (CPRSJ) sponsored a banner drop on the theme of observing the onset of Year 2 of the Trump Regime, calling on L.A. to Rise Up! in downtown Los Angeles. We had positive responses from several motorists and passersby, and also held a brief rally with speeches by Mimi Soltysik of the Stop LAPD Spying Coalition on police surveillance, Ali Kiani of the International Marxist-Humanist Organization (IMHO) on war threats and imperialism in the Middle East, and Silvia La Rote of the Black Rose/Rosa Negra Anarchist Federation (BRRN) for an update on the J20 protesters and resisting the criminalization of social movements.