The campaign to free Sheikh Zakzaky

The Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC), a founding member of the Decolonial International Network has set up a campaign to free Sheikh Zakzaky in Nigeria. Zakzaky is a leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria who has consistently campaigned for social justice in Nigeria, the Palestinian cause and is a supporter of the Iranian revolution. He was detained after a massacre that the Nigerian army carried out in the city of Zaria in December 2015 in which up to 1000 people were massacred.

IHRC has consistently documented the crimes of the Nigerian state against the Islamic Movement and the struggle to free Zakzaky. The court in Nigeria has ordered his release but the state refuses to act. Most recently (5 August) the court ordered his release for medical treatment in India, but he remains in detention.

  1. Campaigners are requested to contact their Minister of Foreign Affairs and demand their government intervenes in this case and demands Nigeria release the Sheikh and his wife, as well as other political detainees immediately. In the case of Sheikh Zakzaky he is currently suffering catastrophic health decline and failure to get the treatment arranged for him may be fatal for him.
  2. If you are able to join a protest in your local area or organize one please contact info@ihrc.org for more details. Demonstrations are taking place world-wide.

 

 

About the Decolonial Thought Community in Latin America

The Decolonial Thought Community is a Latin American collective network of political action and decolonial thought based in Mexico and Ecuador. Born as an idea on June 7, 2017, it was originally conceived as a small online hub to spread the decolonial question and translate some articles and recorded lessons of some Latin American decolonial thinkers who remained invisible in discussions outside Latin America, but we were also interested in contributing to the contact between the different decolonial traditions of the global south. At first, the Ecuadorian anthropologist René Toapanta Mejía (Salesian Polytechnic University) who had a special interest in Latin American colonial history and the Mexican economist Ulises Tamayo Pérez (Polytechnic State University of St. Petersburg) who at that time carried out a critical research on social economy from the decolonial point of view, engaged in that project creating the site Decolonial Thought Community which has currently over 1800 members. In November 2017, following our participation in a forum where the importance of the relationship between feminism and coloniality was discussed, we established bonds of affinity with the Mexican internationalist Milén Aragón Dominguez (Benemerita Universidad Autónoma de Puebla), who came into contact with decolonial critiques while studying the communitary feminism, she soon joined the community. After some meetings and reflections we glimpsed the need for a shift to local action, from then on we tried to open spaces for discussion of the decolonial question. In February 2018 we inaugurated at the Autonomous University of Tlaxcala (Mexico) the first diploma course on Decolonial Studies in the country and probably in the continent, it was a free course that lasted around 6 months and to which around 25 people attended, the course allowed us to establish links with activists and local academics. In April 2018 we took part in the congress “Thinking psychology in the light of our realities”, putting on the discussion table the relationship between gender and coloniality; In January of the following year we organized a seminar on the rebellions in colonial America, a reading from Walter Benjamin’s diachronic-political analysis to which even attendees from nearby cities attended and at the same time we began to organize the second edition of the Diploma in Decolonial Studies inviting notable Latin American decolonial thinkers, this event did not take place due to some administrative requirements within the universities that would host the project, on May 9 of the same year we held a conversation session with Nelson Maldonado about the Coloniality of Being at the Center of Studies for Economic and Social Development of the Autonomous University of Puebla (where Milén Aragón and Ulises Tamayo carry out their Phd studies), between July 15 and 17 we organized a small Introductory Course to Decolonial Thought with around 40 attendees from different cities, also, during the summer, we committed ourselves to lead some study groups of left-wing political activists in some municipalities of our state. During the course of these activities we have been weaving links with activists, collectives and organizations (feminists, students, politicians and cultural) at the local level, for us are both important, articulation and political praxis, of course, we believe in the grass roots activism and autonomies, but we also believe in the intervention and action at the macro institutional level and we are conscious too of the necessity to consider the geopolitical situation in a global level, therefore, we are interested in the intercultural dialogue and the linkage, above all of the Global South.

Statement by Sandew Hira on the attack on freedom of speech

At the beginning of January I received an invitation from the National Institute for the Study of Dutch Slavery and its Legacy (NiNsee) to give the keynote lecture on June 29th, 2019 on black philosophers, spirituality and slavery in the Maritime Museum. I accepted the invitation.

In recent weeks, a group of extremists led by Theo Para has set up an intimidation campaign in the Surinamese community to prevent me from giving the lecture on black philosophers and slavery. The Maritime Museum was put under great pressure to cancel the venue. NiNsee has thus lost its location. The Maritime Museum has made its decision without applying the principle of hearing both sides. I was never asked or given a chance to present my side of the story. The board of NiNsee was subsequently put under enormous pressure to cancel the lecture. On Radio Tamara, hours of broadcasts were devoted to demonizing my person and callers were allowed to make a call upon people to disrupt the lecture. The board of NiNsee collapsed under that pressure and canceled the lecture.

On June 6th, the chairman of NiNsee, Linda Nooitmeer, called me in Suriname to make an appointment to talk about the situation. On June 7th I had a Skype conversation with her and NiNsee director Martin Verbeet in which they indicated that they wanted to cancel the lecture. I responded that that would mean that they would no longer respect the freedom of expression. I suggested that NiNsee could organize a conversation between me and the people who criticize me, so that we can uphold the principles of diversity of opinion and freedom of expression in a worthy atmosphere of dialogue. I also told them that this group had previously tried to put pressure on the Pakhuis De Zwijger not to let me speak at their event, but that as a white institution they had kept freedom of expression in high regard and I expected the same from a black organization, and certainly an organization built on the principle of freedom. Nooitmeer and Verbeet agreed with my argument and asked for a delay to make a final decision until Wednesday the 12th of June. They would then tell me about the next steps. I did not get a call on Wednesday. On Saturday afternoon, Nooitmeer called me with the announcement that NiNsee had decided not to organize a dialogue meeting and withdrew the invitation of June 29th.

The NiNsee press release states the following:

The NiNsee board, in close consultation with the National Maritime Museum, has decided to cancel the Keti-Koti lecture 2019.

This decision was prompted by the unrest within the community regarding the planned Keti-Koti lecture with Sandew Hira as keynote speaker. Because of this unrest, the desire of NiNsee to organize a worthy Keti-Koti reading in 2019 – which contributes to harmony and solidarity within and outside the community – does not seem feasible.

NiNsee has the ambition to collaborate with anyone who makes a positive contribution to its mission. However, now that the implementation of this ambition has led to an escalation between supporters and opponents of having Sandew Hira as a speaker, NiNsee cannot help but withdraw.

The extremists have got their way. The group of Theo Para has been calling, emailing and speaking to put pressure on organizers and venues to cancel rooms or cancel lectures in which I am involved. In Suriname, Hugo Essed is their counterpart and is conducting a demonizing campaign against me in the Surinamese media that challenges my integrity.

The same group has previously tried to silence me at the Pakhuis De Zwijger debate center in Amsterdam. On March 18th, I was invited to lead a presentation of a documentary about Frantz Fanon. I was not even a speaker, but a chairman of the session. The management and program leaders have been put under enormous pressure to get me out of the program, but they have kept their back straight and have not succumbed. The theme doesn’t matter to the extremists. Even if I spoke about the weather, they would have a campaign to make it impossible for me to speak.

On Saturday afternoon, June 15th at 12:00, Glenn Codfried from Radio Mart invited me to talk to me about these developments. Radio Mart announced that on Friday. When I arrived at the studio on Saturday at 10.30 am, it appeared that the window had been smashed from the front door and microphones and the broadcasting modem had been stolen, so that the broadcast could not take place.

These are serious developments. In the wake of the violation of freedom of expression, the principle of diversity of opinion is also attacked. The extremists believe that only one vision is possible in social discussions and that diversity of visions is not acceptable and that other visions should not be heard.

The theme of my reading was a decolonial vision of the history of slavery. Dutch historians and people of color trained by them have always described slavery from the point of view of the colonizer. I explain in my writings and lectures that black thinkers during slavery and afterwards have made analyses that are fundamentally different from those of the enslavers and their ideologues. The extremists want to prevent the presentation of decolonial theories.

This is a very disturbing development in the Surinamese community. Freedom of expression is an important achievement that has come about through hard struggles in which many people have sacrificed their lives. The essence of freedom of expression is that everyone has the right to express his or her opinion, regardless of whether you agree or disagree with the person. Even people who do not agree with me must have the right to express their opinion.

Diversity of views is a crucial part of a democratic society. The dominant colonial historiography may be challenged by decolonial and other alternatives. That is part of the process of knowledge production in a multiform society.

Discussion and debate are the foundations of a democratic society. That is why I challenge Theo Para and Hugo Essed to face-to-face debates on issues in which they have a different opinions than me. Such debates are an extension of the freedom of expression. Every Surinamese should be a proponent of this, including Para and Essed.

I call on the Surinamese community in the Netherlands to organize a meeting where I can hold the keti koti lecture as a protest against the violation of freedom of expression.

Sandew Hira

June 15, 2019

A new anti-imperialist movement is needed

Sandew Hira, The Hague 2019, June 5

In recent weeks the US has become more aggressive in its rhetoric’s and its military buildup towards Venezuela and Iran. In Columbia and Puerto Rico the US is deploying troops and special operations forces as a signal that they actually preparing a invasion. The US is planning to send 120.000 troops to the Middle East and has deployed an aircraft carrier to the Iran regional waters. Are we heading towards new wars and military invasions? The risks are certainly there, because there are aggressive hawks in the US establishment that push towards war. Furthermore, the regime’s of Saudi Arabia and the apartheid state of Israel are supporting these hawks. In Latin America, Juan Guaidó, the self-proclaimed president of Venezuela, is openly pressing for a military invasion by the US.

A remarkable feature of US internal politics is that Trump came to power on an anti-war ticket promising to make an end to wars in foreign countries and the liberal Democrats along with the right-wing extremists Republications are pushing for confrontation. In the case of North Korea the liberal media are mobilizing against a possible deal to make the Korean peninsula free from nuclear weapons. This deal seemed possible, but the liberal media with the hawks from the Republican party shift the focus from peace to the nature of the Stalinist regime in North Korea. Trumps rhetoric on Venezuela is not countered by a Democratic narrative for peace. The tacitly and openly support the aggression against the Bolivarian revolution.

Another risk factor is the absence of a worldwide mass movement against wars as was the case during the Vietnam war of the invasion of Iraq. The social movements in the sixties and seventies were based on a strong anti-imperialist tradition of the socialist movement. After the fall of the Soviet Union and the demise of socialist regimes in many countries new narratives of liberation took the center stage. Class analysis was replaced by narrative that were rooted in the tradition of liberalism: the individual replaced class in the analysis of oppression. With class analysis the question of strategy and focus on the main enemy – imperialism – put on the table the problem of alliances and building broad coalitions against the main enemy.

With the focus on individual oppression these questions disappeared. In fact narratives of liberation are now used to justify wars. The US invasion of Afghanistan was defended by Hillary Clinton by referring to the need to liberate Afghan women from the Taliban. When the drum beats for a war against Iran start, the oppression of homosexuals will be used to rally activists from social movements for an imperialist project.

The focus of these activists is not who is the main enemy or what is the relationship of forces on the world in the wake of new and devastating wars but on how are is the LGTB community oppressed in Iran?

The threat of war is there. The need for a new world movement against war is there. The question is if the activists in the current social movement are able to move from the analysis individual oppression to the analysis of imperialism and its global institution of power that threatens the existence of the planet and thus build a massive force for peace. Or will a new activism emerge that is able to go beyond this individual analysis and beyond class analysis and move to decolonial theory as a tool to understand imperialism.

 

 

Pravini: musical documentary The Uprising

On April 25th artist & activist Pravini Baboeram launched The Uprising. This music documentary on the decolonial movement in Europe makes an innovative contribution to education and awareness. For the first time decolonial theory is presented with songs and animation, combined with interviews of academics and activists. The songs are all written and composed by Pravini, who offers a poetic perspective on the experiences of people of color through her lyrics and vocals. The Uprising features many members of the Decolonial International Network, including Islamic Human Rights Commission and Parti des Indigènes de la République, highlighting their campaigns, analysis and strategies for decolonization in a European context. Click here to watch the trailer.

The Uprising is a conscious effort by Pravini to educate and empower people in the movement: “I made this film to provide people with a language to challenge institutional racism and colonial legacies. Often times people know something is wrong, but can’t find the words to address of challenge it. To me this film is a creative way to offer people the language they are looking for. This language consists of music, of a decolonial perspective of the past and of strategies for the future. This film is a tool for educational contexts, whether it’s higher education institutions or grassroots organizations, to engage in a conversation on decolonization and encourage people to contribute tot his movement.”

The Uprising is available for screenings. For more info check out this presskit or contact Pravini Productions at: info@pravinimusic.com.

Sandew Hira in Venezuela

From May 12-18, 2019 DIN coordinator Sandew Hira will be in Venezuela for two workshops: one on reparations for colonialism and the other on Decolonizing the Mind. Hira will also strengthen the relationship between the Institute for the Decolonization of Suriname (DEKOSUR) and the National Institute for the Decolonization of Venezuela. Hira is scientific director of DEKOSR, which was set up with the help of DIN.

Hira will post a daily blog on the website of the Islamic Human Rights Commission about his experiences in Venezuela and his analysis of the events going on there.

Additional resources on Venezuela

The US-sponsored coup d’etat in Venezuela has failed to produce the desired result: the fall of the Maduro government. Yet the suffering of the people of Venezuela continues now other means are used to attack the Bolivarian revolution: the threat of a military invasion and the sabotage of the electricity network. The economic boycott is being intensified and the media campaign of vilifying the Bolivarian revolution is still going on. In addition to the resources mentioned in the previous newsletter we have some listed some alternative media that cover the coup In Venezuela from an anti-imperialist point of view.

https://therealnews.com/: the Real News Network

https://thegrayzone.com/: the Grayzone

https://venezuelanalysis.com/: Venezuela analysis

https://www.fort-russ.com/category/latin-america/: Fort Russ News

https://www.globalresearch.ca/: Global Research

https://www.telesurenglish.net/: Telesur

Stephen Small keynote speaker at conference: Black In/visibalities contested

The Afro European network organizes its 7th biennial conference in Lisbon. Stephen Small, co-editor of the book series Decolonizing The Mind, is one of the keynote speakers.

The conference is a platform for the production of knowledge in the pertinent field of transdisciplinary research on racism, black cultures and identities in Europe. It also offers the opportunity to strengthen and widen networks between scholars, activists and artists that question structural racism and are critically engaged with the production of postcolonial knowledge on european blackness and the african diaspora. This dialogue and networking is promoted through keynotes and panels, round-tables, individual speakers and artistic and cultural activities.

Click here  for more information.

Resources on Venezuela

The Islamic Human Rights Commission has set up a webpage with resources on the current situation in Venezuela in English, Spanish and Dutch. The page contains references to background information and analysis of the coup. Ramon Grosfoguel, Sandew Hira, Maz Blumenthal and Ahmed Kabalo reports directly from Venezuela with their analysis of the situation.

See the webpage here.