First interview with Sheikh Zakzaky after his release from prison

DIN has reported about the case of Sheikh Ibraheem Yaqoub El-Zakzaky and his wife Maillimah Zeenah who were arrested in 2015 after the Nigerian army massacred almost 400 Muslims in Zaria, Kaduna State. On July 28, 2021, Justice Gideon Kurada of the Kaduna State High Court discharged and acquitted them of culpable homicide, and unlawful assembly, among other criminal charges for which they have been standing trial. In his first interview with Press TV he goes into this ordeal. See the interview here: https://twitter.com/i/broadcasts/1mnxedyVoLAJX?s=08.

We must choose : Permanent War or Revolutionary Peace !

Activists from different parts of the world have lanched a manifest on the 20th anniversay of 9/11. See the text here: https://blogs.mediapart.fr/manifeste-20-ans-apres-le-11-septembre/blog/110921/we-must-choose-permanent-war-or-revolutionary-peace.

When we remember 9/11 it is good to remember not only the second one, but also the first one: 9/11 in Chili: https://www.republicworld.com/world-news/rest-of-the-world-news/1973-chile-coup-the-first-9-11-attack-allegedly-backed-by-the-usa.html

SHEIKH ZAKZAKY & MALLIMAH ZEENAH FREED

Ibraheem Yaqoub El-Zakzaky and his wife Maillimah Zeenah were arrested in 2015 after the Nigerian army massacred almost 400 Muslims in Zaria, Kaduna State. Sheikh al-Zakzaky, a leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria, was injured and arrested along with his wife. The couple have nine children; six of them were murdered by the state. They were kept in state detention since 2015.

On 2 December 2016, they were ordered to be released from Department of State Services detention into police custody within 45 days. The judge announced that the justification of “holding him for his own protection” is not sufficient. He also ordered the state to pay $164,052 in compensation. The state refused to let them go.

In 2019, a court in Kaduna state granted him and his wife bail to seek treatment abroad but they returned from India after 3 days because of unfair treatment and restrictions by security services. Finally on July 28, 2021, Justice Gideon Kurada of the Kaduna State High Court discharged and acquitted them of culpable homicide, and unlawful assembly, among other criminal charges for which they have been standing trial since December 2018.

The Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC), a founding member of the Decolonial International Network Foundation, has been in de forefront of the campaign to free Zakzaky and Zeenah. Follow the campaign here.

Online Decolonial School January 10-14, 2022

From Januari 10-14, 2022, the Center of Study and Investigation for Decolonial Dialogues will organize an online international decolonial school: the South-South Decolonial Dialogues. The school aims to open a dialogue among different decolonial thinkers of the Global South. The school’s goal is to present different decolonial perspectives produced from the body-politics and geo-politics of knowledge of liberation struggles in the Global South. For this purpose, we have a group of decolonial intellectual/activists from different regions of the world that will participate as faculty of the decolonial school. They will cover different aspects of decoloniality with emphasis on their regional location.

Affiliated Faculty Members include: Sabelo Ndlovu-Gatsheni, Houria Bouteldja, Ramón Grosfoguel, Faith Mkwesha, Sandew Hira, Ashraf Kunnummal, Dina Odessy.

Application: http://southsouthdialogues.dialogoglobal.com/

About the Center

Center of Study and Investigation for Decolonial Dialogues is a non-profit and non-governmental organization promoting research, knowledge-making, education (through seminars, workshops, exhibits, round-tables discussions, publications and video-making) and public policy to invent and work towards non-competitive horizons of life, of socio-economic organization and international relations. Non-profit and non-governmental organizations emerge from within civil and political society to address issues that are not supported or attended to by government and corporations. Their function is crucial in building futures that are beyond the regulations of States or the needs of the Corporations. In order for civil and political society to become relevant actors in social transformation and pointing out the limits of corporate values and state regulation, it is necessary to create institutions of knowledge-making not at the service of the state or corporations, but to the benefit of the civil society.

How the apartheid state of Israel might fall?

One/Two state solutions

The 2021 war of Israel against Palestine is a historic and game changing event. It opens the discussion about how apartheid will fall, not on if apartheid will fall. In many reflections on the apartheid state of Israel we tend to use the analogies of cases of historic injustice, notable the apartheid system in South Africa, to conclude that historical injustice always comes to an end, although we might not know how and when. In this war it became clear how the apartheid state of Israel might come to an end.

For a long time in the West there was the idea that there were two solutions for the occupation of Palestine: the two-state solution and the one-state solution. In the two-state solution a new independent state of Palestine would arise with East Jerusalem as its capital and a fragmented series of land pieces as the country of Palestine. It would co-exist with the state of Israel. From the very beginning this was an illusion, but for a long time many people believed that this might be a solution. The two-state solution was codified in the Oslo Accords. There is no document on the one-state solution that has been agreed upon, because it was not a serious issue for Israel and the West. The general idea of the one-state solution is that there would be a state where Israeli and Palestinians would live together in a secular state. The Jewish character of Israel would disappear. There are many problems with the one-state solution. The main problem is that there is no detailed concept of what this would mean. Would the Jews give back their homes to the Palestinians they stole it from? Would the police, intelligence and army consists of Palestinians and Israelis? Would the nuclear arsenal of Israel be jointly controlled by Israelis and Palestinians? Is there anyone in Israel willing to discuss these questions, let alone anyone in the West? Clearly the one-state solution is a non-starter. If neither the one-state and two-state solution are not viable, then what is left for the future of the Palestinians?

Armed struggle

The 2021 war showed the answer: armed struggle that reclaims all Palestinian land. After the Oslo Accords of 1993 this seemed an unrealistic option. Israel proved to be too strong to be defeated militarily. The phrase “Israel is the sixth mightiest military power in the world” conveyed the message that Israel could never be beaten militarily. There are two problems with this idea. First, history has proved that the first mightiest military power in the world can be beaten militarily. The Israeli 2021 war on Gaza lasted for 11 days. The US war on Vietnam lasted for 10,502 days, from August 5, 1964 till May 7, 1975. During this period the US and its allies dropped more than 7.5 million tons of bombs on Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia – double the amount dropped on Europe and Asia during World War II. It remains the largest aerial bombardment in human history with 360.000 plane missions. Yet, the US lost the war and had to withdrew all their forces from Vietnam in a humiliating way. They would never return to Vietnam, “even if we offered them candy”, as one Vietnamese leader remarked.

On October 7 2001, four weeks after the 9/11 attacks, the US and its allies launched their first aerial bombardment of Afghanistan. Twenty years later, on April 14 2021, president Biden announced the final departure of US troops from Afghan soil without any condition. They will not return, even if the Afghans offer them candy.

If the first mightiest military power can be defeated twice militarily, why it is impossible for the sixth mightiest military power to be defeated once in their existence? The answer is simple: it is not impossible. To understand the military defeat of Israel we must understand what war is. Carl von Clausewitz, a 19th century Prussian general, who wrote a classic book on war says “war is merely the continuation of politics with other means.” A military defeat can come after a political defeat as was the case of the US war in Vietnam.

The driving force of resistance: oppression of a people

In 1964, sixteen years after the foundation of the apartheid state of Israel in 1948 the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) was established to further the liberation of Palestine through armed struggle. The PLO carried out many attacks, but the brutal response of Zionist drove the PLO into the defensive. They had to retreat from Israel, Jordan and Lebanon and moved to Tunisia, where even there they were bombarded by the Israeli’s in 1982. It eventually led to negotiations that were concluded in the Oslo Accords in 1993 with the two-state solution. It turned out to be a political defeat for the Palestinians. But it was not a final defeat, but just a defeat in a battle. It does not mean that they have lost the war.

The initiative to restart the resistance came from the masses. The driving force behind their actions is the daily oppression and humiliation of the Palestinians. In December 1987 the first intifada began with stones throwing Palestinians and eventually led to the formation of Hamas as a liberation movement dedicated to armed struggle. The Oslo Accords had led to the establishment of the Palestinian Authority (PA) in 1994 as an administrative entity for the future state of Palestine. It had limited administrative power over the Palestinian population in Gaza and the West Bank.

In 2000 the second intifada started as a protest against the visit of butcher Ariel Sharon to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. It developed into a large scale armed conflict that left 3,000 Palestinians and 1,000 Israeli dead. It ended on February 8 2005 with an agreement between Israel and the PA on a cease fire and the release of 900 Palestinian prisoners. Meanwhile in Gaza 8,000 Jewish settlers living among one million Palestinians in 21 settlements were faced with armed attacks from the resistance. The PA was supposed to prevent this. They could not. In 2005 (from August to September) Israel was forced to relocate the settlers from Gaza, because they could not protect them anymore. The settlers received an average of more than US$ 200,000 in compensation per family. The Palestinians claimed their land, but they were controlled from the outside: a sea, air, and land blockade by the Israeli’s.

In 2006 Hamas won the Palestinian legislative election and took control of the government of Gaza. In December 2008 the first Israeli war on Gaza started (Operation Cast Lead) when Israel began with aerial bombardments of Gaza after being unable to stop rocket attacks by the resistance. On January 3 2009 Israel began a ground invasion of Gaza. On January 21 Israel withdrew its troops after a cease fire was reached under international pressure. In March 2012 Israel killed a leader of the Palestinian resistance which lead to retaliation and a full scale war with aerial bombardments and rocket attacks. In October of the same year a new round of confrontation began that lead to hundreds of Palestinian deaths. In 2014 the worst round of fighting was during a 50 day bombardment of Gaza leaving more than 2,000 Palestinian dead.

The conclusion of the resistance of the Palestinians in half a century is that the spirit of resistance is unbroken. Resistance come with a huge cost in human lives. The people of Vietnam had struggled against colonialism. They had their first war of liberation in the 20th century against the French between 1946 and 1954. Their second war of liberation was against the Americans. The cost in human life was enormous: 3,5 million deaths. Yet they defeated two military superpowers. The struggle of the Palestinian people also comes with a price in human suffering. But they have shown that they are willing to pay the price, because the alternative is an eternal life of suffering, humiliation and oppression for them, their children and grandchildren. If their leadership fails them, they generate new leadership. If they have a setback, they use their intelligence and creativity to overcome it and prepare for the next stage in the battle. The next round will draw important lessons from the last round of struggle.

A new era of struggle has begun: the pillars of a new strategy

The war disclosed the long term strategy of the resistance for the liberation of Palestine. Speeches by different leaders of the resistance show the pillars of their strategy.

The first pillar is the unity of the people of Palestine. Hamas Leader in Gaza Yahya Al-Sinwar praises deceased Fatah leader Yasser Arafat (Abu Ammar), despite the fact that the Palestinian Authority led by Fatah frequently arrested Hamas members. He said: “All hail to the spirit of the eternal leader, Abu Ammar. On this occasion, and following this latest round of fighting, I say to him: Rest in peace, oh Abu Ammar! You died trying to strengthen our nation’s combat capabilities following the 2002 Karine A affair. Karine A was the famous ship, you all know about it… It was carrying some weapons – Grad rockets, some anti-tank missiles, and some short-range rockets, like 20km and 30km Grad rockets. Arafat was trying to strengthen our people’s ability to be steadfast in their confrontation. He turned to bringing in weapons, in order to create some change in the balance of power between the occupation and us. Rest in peace, Abu Ammar, along with all the martyrs, now that the resistance forces of your people, your sons at the Izz Al-Din Al-Qassam Brigades and the other resistance factions, have obtained hundreds of rockets, and not just 20-kilometer-Grad rockets, but hundreds of rockets that in one salvo can crush the Tel Aviv metropolitan area.” By reaching out to Fatah he hopes that in the next confrontation the security forces of the PA “will attack Israelis at all the junctions and bypass roads“. There are half a million settlers in the West Bank in closed colonies guarded by the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) and three million Palestinians. During the war there were already attacks on settlers. The central committee of Fatah issued a statement on May 8 saying that “the continuation of the settler attacks on the holy places and the homes of Palestinian residents, their expulsion and expansion of settlements — will lead to an all-out conflict in all the Palestinian territories.” The unity between the rank-and-file of Fatah and Hamas was building up during the last war.

The greatest surprise was the reaction of the 1948 Arabs in Israel. The policy of turning Arab Israeli’s into law abiding citizens failed utterly. They took to the streets in Akka, Lod, Ramla, the Negev, Galilee, and Wadi Ara. Yahya Al-Sinwar: “From the bottom of the heart of everyone in Gaza, we salute the tough men of Haifa, the tough men of Jaffa, the tough men of Lod, the tough men of Ramla, the tough men of Acre, and our men and women in the ‘Triangle’ area, in the Galilee, and in the Negev, who proved that all the years that have gone by and all the Israelization campaigns – the attempts to turn them into Israeli citizens, rather than Arab-Palestinian citizens – and the so-called coexistence campaigns collapsed once and for all.” The unity of Palestinians now extends to the two million Palestinians living within the 708 km wall that separates Israel from the West Bank.

And finally the six million Palestinians in the Diaspora: they felt empowered by the rocket attacks of the resistance. Palestinian journalist Abdel Bari Atwan who is frequently in Western media described the impact of this war: “I hail from the Gaza strip. We were refugees there. My family came there from Ashdod. I sing twice when the rockets reached Ashdod. I was born in the so-called diaspora. By Allah, when the rockets reach Ashdod and I hear the sirens, it’s like music to me, like a Beethoven symphony. I have never heard such music. The second thing is that when we see those rockets hit Tel Aviv, and the settlers flee the beach in their bathing suits, to the nearest bomb shelter –  this is unprecedented in the history of the Arab-Zionist conflict.”

Unlike previous wars in which the sacrifice of human lives weight heavily on the morale of the people, this war boosted the morale. This was a political victory. Why? Because it achieved something that previous wars could not achieve: the unity of the Palestinian people to carve out another route for resistance instead of the two- or one-state solution.

The second pillar of the strategy that became clear from this war is the belief that a military victory over Israel is possible. That possibility became a real option with the information that the resistance provided. They have managed to built 500 km of tunnels in Gaza. Israel could destroy only a tiny fraction. Many rockets were built by Palestinian engineers. Al-Sinwar mentions Professor Jamal Zabeda: “Rest in peace, our martyrs in this last round of fighting. Rest in peace, distinguished Professor Jamal Zabeda. You could have remained a distinguished professor working for NASA, and the world would have celebrated you, but you insisted on coming to Gaza, and to take part in the development of the rockets that rock the Zionist entity.” The stock and quality of rockets of the resistance were so high that they could continue for months bombarding Israel with 150-200 rockets per day. And even if the Israel Iron Dome could intercept 90%, still 15-20 rockets per day were able to create havoc in the cities. But not only the cities were hit this time. The military bases of Hatzor, Hatzerim, Palmachim,  Rehovot, Nevatim, Tel Nof, and the southern army base of Ramon got hit by Gaza rockets. Israeli cities and the Ben Gurion Airport were closed. International flights were suspended. The war led to a loss of US 100 million per day for Israel.

The third pillar is the organization of an international military coalition against Israel. This round of fight with Israel was prepared by the Palestinians in close cooperation with Iran as a major anti-imperialist force in the region. The US government and Israel had worked hard for an alternative for the two-state solution: create a Israel-Sunni coalition against Iran, pour money into the West Bank and 1948 Arab communities and isolate Hams in Gaza. Then everybody will live happily ever after. The 2021 war shattered that illusion. This war was prepared by Sunni’s and Shi’tes. Isma’il Haniya, head of the political bureau of Hamas declared in May 2020: “Iran Has Never Hesitated To Support The Resistance And Assist It Financially, Militarily, And Technologically.” Haniya ‘s deputy Al-Arouri said in an interview in the same month: “Iran Has Given Hamas And The Resistance Movements All The Support And Weapons They Need.”He revealed that during the 2008-2009 Israel-Gaza war, Iranian general Soleimani had been present in the Hamas military operations room in Damascus, and added that Soleimani’s successor Esmail Ghaani was maintaining the coordination and assistance to the Palestinian resistance.

Naim Qassem, the deputy secretary-general of Hizbullah, gave an interview after the May 21 ceasefire went into effect and explained the relationship between the resistance in Gaza and Lebanon: “We were in daily contact with the leaders of the resistance and the Palestinian jihadi fighters. Our position was that we would assist the Palestinian resistance in every way that we can and that we will do what we must do at the appropriate time and in the way that we choose… Today the Palestinians have a significant capability to produce weapons. I can reassure you that the smuggling of rockets into Palestine is continuing at full force. There are important Palestinian brains which are helping in the creation and establishment of the capabilities. They have trained and been in contact with the axis of resistance. The support will not cease but will only increase.”

There was even coordination with the resistance in Iraq. A drone from Iraq managed to get into Israeli airspace, photographed important military sites and transferred its coordinates to Gaza and returned safely to the place of its launch.

The last pillar is preparation for a new type of struggle: the struggle inside the occupied territories rather than just firing rockets from Gaza. Hamas leader Sinwar sketches the struggle inside Israel. Palestinian Authority security forces will attack Israelis at all the junctions and bypass roads in the West Bank. Palestinians within the 1948 borders of Israel will take to the streets and block the roads. There will be at least 10,000 “martyrdom-seekers” among them, who will carry out stabbing attacks, car-ramming attacks, throw Molotov cocktails, and set forests on fire. Sinwar added that “resistance forces in the region” would come in. Gaza launched 150 to 200 rockets per day in this war. The Lebanese Hezbollah has prepared to launch a thousand rockets and missiles every day. The Iron Dome will not be able to handle this amount of strikes.

The Saban Institute for Middle East Policy at Brookings published a report in 2011 about the next war between Israel and Hizbullah. The authors write: “With the support of Iran, Hizballah has made further advances in its signals intelligence (SIGINT) and communications capabilities. Hizbullah is expected to use these upgraded weapons and SIGINT capabilities to play an offensive role in a future conflict with Israel, attempting to seize the initiative, rather than adopting the reactive and defensive posture of 2006. Among the new battle plans being prepared by Hizbullah are land and seaborne insertions into Israel to carry out commando-style raids. Given the range of the missiles in Hizbullah possession, the battlespace in the next war will likely be larger than the traditional theater of southern Lebanon and northern Israel, encompassing large portions of both countries…. Israeli territory could become a front line for the first time since 1948.”

In June 2017 Hizbullah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said: “The Israeli enemy must know that if an Israeli war is launched against Syria or Lebanon, it is not known that the fighting will remain Lebanese-Israeli, or Syrian-Israeli… This doesn’t mean there are states that might intervene directly. But this could open the way for thousands, even hundreds of thousands of fighters from all over the Arab and Islamic world to participate – from Iraq, Yemen, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan.”

If in any of the coming rounds of fight between Israel and the Palestinian resistance the Palestinians stand their ground and a prolonged war between Gaza and Israel is under way then international forces will come into play for the final battle which will cease to be an air battle. Rockets, drones, physical confrontation will determine the scene. Airfields, the Iron Dome and the stockpiles of weapons, including the nuclear arsenal, would be major targets of rocket attacks. In the West Bank the homes of the 700.000 settlers will be attacked in man-to-man fights to reclaim the land that they have occipied. With mounting Israeli casualties the question will be: how will the Israeli morale fare? Will Israel unite and will liberals and extreme right be willing to fight side by side or will there be disintegration with people want to fight with extreme measures and other fleeing the occupied land? Shall we see images like Vietnam? In 1974, one year before the final defeat of the Americans, the South Vietnamese army soldiers station in Danang got the order to assist in the rescue of women and children from the North Vietnamese Army (NVA) who where steadily moving to Danang. Over 300 armed soldiers of the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN)rushed to the aircraft trampling many of the women and children in the process. One writer describes the scene: “The frightened pilot moved to make a quick take off but found the aircraft under attack by ARVN soldiers who had been unable to board. Under fire and damaged by a grenade burst the aircraft lumbered into the sky. Once in the air the pilot realized that he could not retract the landing gear because several ARVN soldiers had taken refuge in the wheel wells of the aircraft. During the 90-minute flight to Saigon several of these desperate men plunged to their deaths but an unknown number gained their freedom. In Saigon the ARVN soldiers who exited the aircraft were greeted with cheers. It was later discovered that only five women and children ever made it on board the flight.” Is this the type of scenes we will see when the final battle for the liberation of Palestine is there?

The next war: a regional war or a world war

What if Israel decides to strike Iran with an atomic bomb because it sees Iran as the main source of its problems? Then the struggle moves from a battle between liberation movements and a state to a battle between states? Israel has been threatening time and again to bomb Iran like they did in 1981 in Iraq when they bombed a nuclear reactor under construction under Saddam Hussein. But Iraq under Saddam Hussein is not Iran where a popular revolution brought an anti-imperialist movement to power. The anti-imperialist people of Iran were confronted with a wide coalition to bring down the 1979 revolution: Saddam Hussein, the US, the UK, France, the Soviet Union and many Arab countries joined to break the revolution. But Iran survived because of the popular support, like Vietnam. Forty years later, despite decades of economic boycott, Iran is able to develop an indigenous defense industry based on advanced technology. One thing is to send a plane to bomb Iran. Another thing is to expect the plane to return empty and Iran to beg for mercy. The most likely scenario is that a full scale war will develop in West Asia where the US has military basis in Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and United Arab Emirates. Israel will not act without permission of the US, but once they get the permission because of the idea of an existential threat, then American bases in the region will be bombed by Iran. The reaction of the population in the Middle East might be disturbing for their leaders. Many regimes might not survive if their population sense that the liberation of Palestine is connected to their liberation.

In 1981 The Soviet Union still existed. In 1989 it perished. Russia is now an ally of Iran. In 1981 China had a GDP per capita of US 197. Chinese earned on average $ 197 per year. In 2020 they earned $ 10,276 per year, 52 times the earnings of 1981. The world has changed dramatically. The US is in decline. China is on the rise and is now an ally of Iran. If the US gets into an all-out war in West Asia, then the new super power China might move to invade Taiwan and bring it back under the control of the motherland. The US will have to choose: engage in a new world war and fight in West and East Asia or back down and stop the road to World War III. Maybe it will not come to the stage and the outcome might be limited as in Vietnam. The fall of Tel Aviv might look like the fall of Saigon. In Vietnam the fall of Saigon was like this: “At noon on 30 April 1975 a group of tanks crashed through the gates of the Presidential Palace, the symbol of South Vietnamese authority. Inside, the last President of South Vietnam, General Minh, waited to surrender to the victors. The ranking NVA officer on the scene was Colonel Bui Tin – a reporter for the NVA newspaper. Surprised to find himself taking part in such momentous events Tin strode into the palace to accept the final surrender of the government of South Vietnam. When Tin entered the room Minh said, “I have been waiting since early this morning to transfer power to you.” Tin answered by saying, “There is no question of your transferring power. Your power has crumbled. You cannot give up what you do not have.”

 

DIN

Sandew Hira

29-5-2021

 

Lamine Bangoura: the case of George Floyd in Belgium

Lamine Bangoura was a 27 years old Belgian Black man of Guinean descent, a professional soccer player, living in Roelers, Flanders. On May 7, 2018, he was killed at his home, surrounded by a group of eight police officers.

Last month, global public opinion breathed a sigh of relief, hearing that George Floyd’s murderer, officer Derek Chauvin, have been found guilty on all three charges. By contrast, on March 16, Belgian courts of justice decided not to prosecute the police officers involved in the death of Mr. Bangoura, dismissing any possibility of elucidating the case during a public audience.

As it is often the case with police killings of men of color, what strikes the most is the insignificant character of the reasons for this execution. The policemen came at Mr. Bangoura’s place with the mission of expelling him from the house due to rent arrears amounting to 1,500 euros ($1,800). Confronted to the tenant’s reluctance to be forced out of the home, the officers first applied a chokehold in order to incapacitate him and make him fall to the ground. Then, they resorted to a knee-to-neck restraint while he was handcuffed. The very technique that killed George Floyd had made another victim.

A video shot by an assistant bailiff shows Mr. Bangoura’s last moments: we hear groans, gasps of agony as we see him surrounded, overwhelmed and crushed by police officers. Half-heartedly, they ended up calling paramedics to his rescue. But he had already taken his last breath when they arrived on the scene.

The version of the events provided by the police officers is vague and contradictory. They obviously invoke self-defense, but nothing corroborates such an interpretation. The idea that a Black man is so dangerous and maleficent that even lying on the ground with tied hands and ankles, he could represent a vital threat to trained police agents seems credible to Belgian prosecutors. A different but equally aberrant interpretation is that Mr. Bangoura strangled himself, that his body self-destroyed.

Brutalized while living, victims of police killings are despised while dead. Belgian police decided to treat Mr. Bangoura’s body as its property, prohibiting his repatriation to Africa. As of today, the corpse is still stored in a morgue at the authorities’ demand and every single day it stays there adds a few dozen of euros to a staggering bill the family is ordered to pay to recover the right to bury their loved one. The state is treating Mr. Bangoura like a towed vehicle accumulating impound fees and uses it to blackmail a working-class family.

Mr. Bangoura lost his life in circumstances very similar to Mr. Floyd. But his torment sparked way less outrage and got way fewer domestic media coverage. Belgium–as well as other European civil societies–loves to consider police brutality and anti-Black violence as an American issue and turns a blind eye to its own deplorable history of atavistic negrophobia and penchant for racial dehumanization.

They want to ignore that throughout the whole world, the history of Belgian Congo has become the symbol of how far colonial unbridled ferocity can go. Insatiable thirst for profit, unchaining of murderous and sadistic pulsion were at the core of Léopold II’s genocidal, mutilator, and torturous regime. We are asked to believe that those obscene demons magically faded away with the celebration of Congolese independence. Cases such as Mr. Bangoura’s are proof that it is not so. Colonial anti-Blackness still supports Belgian narcissism and self-understanding.

That’s why, throughout the country, municipalities are still celebrating carnivals whose highlight consists in white actors parading in blackface, mimicking savage, crazy, exuberant and frightening Africans to entertain both residents and tourists. Under the disguise of an innocent game, party or theatrical performance, the inhuman caricatures inherited from the colonial past are retained and celebrated. Through them, the Belgian youth is socialized to consider Blacks as lesser beings.

Hostility toward Black people is systematic and institutional. Belgians from Burundian, Congolese, and Rwandese descent are statistically more educated that the average citizen. Nevertheless, their unemployment rate is four times the national average and more than a half of the Black workers hold a job below their qualifications[1].

Unlike George Floyd’s, Lamine Bangoura’s family has been allowed no financial compensation. Quite the opposite: the retention of the young man’s body threatens to plague them by debt. As of January 2021, the amount due was over 30,000 euros ($36,000). Nevertheless, if the profound change we aspire to is not for today, the sentencing of Derek Chauvin showed us how a popular political commitment can ignite justice and relief for the relatives of the victim. But let’s not kid ourselves: the immensity of the transnational protest over Mr. Floyd’s death contrasts with the smallness of the outcomes. Justice has been served, but our habituation to inequity is so profound that millions of Blacks all around the world jumped in surprise when the verdict was announced. This is how fragile and precarious our situation is.

Time has come to break the silence. Black Belgians and other Belgians of color need to know that they are not alone facing the inequities they are confronted to everyday. Diasporic, pan-African, and anticolonial consciousness is alive and real. As long there will be victims of state-sanctioned lynching; as long as Black people will be caricatured and vilified for the sake of white amusement; as long as they will be facing systematic discrimination, we will speak truth to power. For Lamine Bangoura, for his family, justice must prevail.

 

Norman Ajari, Villanova University

Tommy J. Curry, University of Edinburgh

George Ciccariello-Maher, Vassar College

Mohamed Amine Brahimi, Columbia University

Kelly Gillespie, University of the Western Cape

Michael Sawyer, University of Pittsburg

 

 

[1] Belga, “Un niveau d’éducation et un chômage élevés, la dure réalité des Afro-descendants”, https://www.rtbf.be/info/societe/detail_un-niveau-d-education-et-un-chomage-eleves-la-dure-realite-des-afro-descendants?id=9769979

Speech Sandew Hira a decolonial view on climate change

On April 22 and 23 2021 President Biden has organized a video conference with world leaders on climate change. The Plurinational State of Bolivia has organized an alternative video conference on April 23, 2021. Sandew Hira was asked to make a contribution. See the text of his contribution here.

Sandew Hira is a decolonial intellectual
and activist and a board member
of the Decolonial International Network Foundation
The Hague, Holland, 22-4-2021

Dear president Luis Arce, vice-president David Chiquehuanca, respected members of the Bolivian government and other heads of states, brothers and sisters, comrades.

Thank you for the honor to address you on the issue of a decolonial view on climate change.

Last Monday, April 19 2021, the US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken gave a speech on climate change. I will present a decolonial critique of his speech and an alternative view on climate change.

The analysis of Blinken can be summarized in three points:

  1. The cause of climate change is warming temperatures caused by human activity.
  2. The solution for climate change is a technical solution (clean energy).
  3. Climate change has everything to do with the long term domination of the US.

Here is my decolonial critique of his analysis in six points:

  1. A wrong analysis can lead to wrong conclusions and wrong policies. Human civilizations with cities, agriculture and basic industries have been around for 7.000 years without impacting climate change. There is a clear responsibility for climate change. It is not human activity in general, because that absolves the real culprits who should be held accountable: industrial capitalism in Europe and North America and imperialism in the rest of the world that has laid the foundation of Western civilization. Private companies supported by state government are the ones who should be held accountable, not humans in general. Blinken’s analysis is a cover-up for the actions of these companies and states.
  2. Their actions are based on a key concept of western civilization about the relationship between humans and nature. The concept is that humans are superior to nature and are therefore entitled to control and manipulate nature. If humans can manipulate nature, then there is no brake on activities that changes nature in the disastrous way that we know today. That makes this concept problematic. As long as people like Blinken hold on to the Eurocentric concept of superior human begins that have the right to manipulate nature, all their solutions will be limited.
  3. Many other civilizations have developed a different view on the relationship between humans and nature. For example, in Islam the basic elements of nature – land, water, fire, forest, and light – belong to all living things, not just to human beings. The privilege to exploit natural resources was given by God, Allah, to mankind on the basis of custodianship (khalifa in Arabic). This means that humans are the custodians of nature, and must live in harmony with other creatures. They must pass on the entrusted property to the next generation in as pure a form as possible and promise not to destroy or damage it. According to the Holy Qur’an, environmental conservation is a religious duty and a social obligation. The exploitation of a particular natural resource is directly related to accountability and maintenance of the resource. Another example of a non-Eurocentric view on the relationship between humans and nature is to be found in Africa. In the African philosophy of Ubuntu humans are humans through the interaction with other human beings. That is how you achieve a society based on happiness. The following story illustrates this. A white anthropologist was studying an African village. He saw children playing. He took a basket full with delicious fruits and put it under a tree. He drew a line in the dirt, looked at the children, and said, “When I tell you to start, run to the tree and whoever gets there first will win the basket of the fruit.” When he told them to run, they all took each other’s hands and ran together to the tree. Then they sat together around the basket and enjoyed their treat as a group. The anthropologist was shocked. He asked why they would all go together when one of them could have won all the fruits for themselves?
    A young girl looked up at him and said, “How can one of us be happy if all the other ones are sad?” Ubuntu is not limited to relationship between humans, but also bears on the relationship between humans and nature. Former president of South Africa, Thabo Mbeki, explains this relationship when he spoke about his ‘Africanness’ in relation to the natural environment. He said: “I owe my being to the hills and the valleys, the mountains and the glades, the rivers, the deserts, the trees, the flowers, the seas and the everchanging seasons that define the face of our native land.” Humans and nature are on the same level. He even made the following suggestion: “At times, and in fear, I have wondered whether I should concede equal citizenship of our country to the leopard and the lion, the elephant and the springbok, the hyena, the black mamba and the pestilential mosquito.”
  4. Because the imagination of Blinken is very limited, he cannot think that there is another view possible on the relationship between humans and nature. In his view the problem of climate change is a problem of technology, the solution for climate change can only be found in technology, which boils down to developing the industry of clean energy. Obviously that technology is very much needed, because the technology that Western civilization has used, has destroyed the environment. But that industry will be less effective if there is no change in the concept of the relationship between humans and nature. If you install solar panels, then, yes, you will reduce greenhouse gas emissions. But if you don’t change your behavior and still think that humans have the right to manipulate nature, then sooner or later another problem will arise in the environment. It is like in the movie Jurassic Park. The park owner thinks that he can manipulate nature by creating an amusement park where dinosaurs have been recreated by genetic experiments. They control one aspect (the environment of the park), but suddenly other aspects they did not think about become dangerous when it appears that dinosaurs have a mind of their own.
  5. Blinken links climate change to geopolitical problems and thus makes climate change a political tool to maintain the hegemonic status of the US in the world. This strategy is detrimental to improving climate change. If you have a broken car, and your neighbor has a broken car, you can decide to work together and learn from each other experiences in fixing the cars. But if you have a quarrel with your neighbor about something else – say about the fence – then linking fixing the broken car to the problems of the fence will hinder fixing both cars. Blinken does exactly that. He says: “It’s difficult to imagine the United States winning the long-term strategic competition with China if we cannot lead the renewable energy revolution. Right now, we’re falling behind.” What he means is that climate change is now part of the political struggle that America wages against China and Russia. So instead of talking about how to fix our cars, he will start talking about the fence, the wife of his neighbor, the dog of his neighbor etc. In the coming years the American narrative about climate change will be mixed with stories about the Uyghurs in China or the problems of Ukraine and Russia. This is a very ineffective strategy in combating climate change. And the facts prove that. And Blinken provide the facts: “Natural disasters in 2020 cost the United States around $100 billion… We only have around 4 percent of the world’s population, but we contribute nearly 15 percent of global emissions.  That makes us the world’s second biggest emitter of greenhouse gases… Renewables are now the cheapest source of bulk electricity in countries that contain two-thirds of the world’s population.  And the global renewable energy market is projected to be $2.15 trillion by 2025.  That’s over 35 times the size of the current market for renewables in the United States… China is the largest producer and exporter of solar panels, wind turbines, batteries, electric vehicles.  It holds nearly a third of the world’s renewable energy patents.  If we don’t catch up, America will miss the chance to shape the world’s climate future in a way that reflects our interests and values, and we’ll lose out on countless jobs for the American people.” Instead of working together on an equal basis with other countries, the USA has adopted an imperial attitude to climate change: it wants to dominate.

The need to dominate will lead to military conflicts with climate change as an argument for conflict. Blinken announces this in his speech: “Climate change can also create new theaters of conflict.  In February, a Russian gas tanker sailed through the Arctic’s Northern Sea Route for the first time ever.  Until recently, that route was only passable a few weeks each year.  But with the Arctic warming at twice the rate of the rest of the global average, that period is getting much longer.  Russia is exploiting this change to try to exert control over new spaces.  It is modernizing its bases in the Arctic and building new ones, including one just 300 miles from Alaska.  China is increasing its presence in the Arctic, too.” Conclusion: prepare for war in the name of climate change. The speech of Blinken is fraught with conceptual errors, problematic analysis and erroneous policies.

  1. What is the alternative for US policy? The alternative consists of three elements:
    1. The idea that climate change is not primarily about technological causes and technological solutions. There is a technological component in the causes and solutions for climate change. But there is an issue behind technology and that is in how we view the relationship between humans and nature. Social movements need to put this relationship in the center of the discussion on how to deal with climate change.
    2. A non-western view of the relationship between humans and nature starts with respect for nature. Based on this view social movements should embrace the idea that has been developed in Bolivia of a Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth. Just like the Universal Declaration of Human Rights such a declaration outlines the basic principles about how a society should organize the respect for nature. The government of countries around the world should be pressured by social movements to adopt such a declaration.
    3. The Western civilization and the global system of colonialism on which it is based have created a system of knowledge that has colonized our minds. It presents western analysis and solutions as the only possible ones. It has colonized our minds to such an extent that we cannot imagine other, better, analysis and solutions, not only on climate change but on many others problems that humanity faces. If the only tool you have to solve problems is a hammer, then every problem should be treated as a nail. That is the crazy logic of Western civilization and the operation of the colonized mind. If we want long term solutions, then social movements should link the discussions on climate change to the discussion of the role of Western civilization and the colonization of the mind in creating these problems. I am sure that then the value of knowledge produced by other civilizations will be appreciated and used in creating new policies in the ecological movements based on decolonizing the mind.

Thank you for your attention