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Category Archives: Government Oppression

For Indigenous women, the #MeToo movement is a deeper fight against racism, power and oppression – The Conversation AU

Posted: October 27, 2019 at 3:18 pm

In 2006, an African-American woman, Tarana Burke, started the #MeToo movement on social media, a call for victims of sexual violence and harassment to share their experiences.

Yet, 11 years later, when #MeToo became a global phenomenon after celebrities like Alyssa Milano, Rose McGowan and others shared their own stories of sexual assault and harassment, Burke was left largely unacknowledged.

Women of colour the world over were angry but not surprised. The #MeToo movement is about power imbalance, after all, and women of colour are used to their voices being silenced.

In a forthcoming book on #MeToo and social change, I cite this example to demonstrate how the movement goes beyond violence and harassment for black women.

The extent of violence against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women in Australia is harrowing. A 2018 report stated that Indigenous Australians are 3.4 times more likely to be sexually assaulted as non-Indigenous Australians.

So for many black women, the #MeToo movement requires a larger discussion about power imbalances in society, the lack of representation of black woman in leadership positions and the denial in mainstream society to accept black bodies.

This is necessary to fully understand why we have never consented to various forms of oppressive power, and why #MeToo is more than just person-to-person abuse.

Indigenous women have been pushing back against oppression and power since colonisation.

Around the world, colonisers sought to destroy Indigenous populations through oppressive government control, political violence and false representations of First Nations peoples as being promiscuous, lazy, untrustworthy savages.

This long history also included demonising, sexualising and fetishising black bodies. We were to be controlled or eradicated, but not before the coloniser had their taste of smooth Black Velvet.

Black women who have experienced the trauma of sexual violence and harassment know all too well where the seeds of this oppression began. When you are at the hands of someone who exoticises the black body while simultaneously demeaning its worth, you are trapped in a cycle of abuse that began with colonisation and has never left.

In modern-day society, black people continue to be viewed by governments and those in positions of power as disposable commodities. In Australia, this interplay frequently feels similar to an abusive and controlling relationship.

The government has consistently worked to undermine Indigenous peoples experiences through policy constraints and a refusal to recognise our unique culture and knowledge system. And in taking action without consultation, the government denies Indigenous peoples the right of reply and consent.

The recent protests by the DjabWarrung people trying to save sacred trees from being bulldozed to build a road in Victoria illustrates the nature of this relationship.

The DjabWarrung women were not asked how they felt about the governments action and its cultural impact on their community. They did not give consent.

The lack of representation of black women in high-level positions in government, business and society is also missing in this conversation. Black women are rarely shown to be leading.

In 2017, the cover story in Business Chicks magazine featured various women working to tackle discrimination in Australia, including journalist Tracey Spicer. Spicer had just started the NOW campaign aimed at ending sexual harassment in the workplace an Australian response to the #MeToo movement.

But the cover came under fire for its lack of diversity. No women of colour were represented as being on the front line in the battle against oppression.

If the representations we see of black women in Australia only focus on disadvantage and deficit not success and excellence how do we expect stereotypes to change? How do we shift the power imbalance?

As an Indigenous woman who has written specifically on leadership, I can attest that many black women are already acting behind the scenes in leadership roles.

The announcement of the Uluru Statement from the Heart, for instance, was undertaken by two Indigenous women, Pat Anderson and Megan Davis, who have fiercely campaigned to achieve constitutional recognition of Indigenous Australians.

Responses from black women to #MeToo in both Australia and the US have demanded a deeper interrogation into the power dynamics and entrenched racial stereotypes that have contributed to this culture of sexual violence and harassment.

In Australia, there are numerous examples of this pushback occurring. In 2018, South African comedian Trevor Noah faced criticism after a YouTube clip surfaced of him saying hed never seen a beautiful Aborigine and making sexual jokes about the didgeridoo.

Outraged Indigenous women said that as a man of colour himself, Noah should be familiar with how the black body is viewed by society. Academic Chelsea Bond and commentator Angelina Hurley, hosts of the radio show Wild Black Women, interviewed Noah and explained why the joke was inappropriate.

In this country, white men have long joked about their entitlements upon sexual violence towards Aboriginal women Theres really offensive terms that are still used in this country that Aboriginal women are not necessarily desirable or attractive, but they are good for something else and that is all.

The ways in which Indigenous women called out this behaviour are important to the broader conversations around #MeToo. For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, our fight goes deeper into the roots of colonial power to which we have never consented.

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For Indigenous women, the #MeToo movement is a deeper fight against racism, power and oppression - The Conversation AU

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Australian governments have long been hostile to media freedom. That’s unlikely to change any time soon – The Conversation – Australia

Posted: at 3:18 pm

The unprecedented blackout of front pages by Australias newspaper publishers this week is a highly significant event in Australian political and media history.

It represents the completion of a deep rupture in the relationship between government and media, which for many decades was marked by a preparedness on the part of the media to take notice of government advice where matters of national security were concerned.

It also represents the first concerted, unified, co-ordinated campaign by the Australian media outside of wartime, when there were constant rows about censorship to assert press freedom in the face of government oppression.

Read more: Australia needs a Media Freedom Act. Here's how it could work

It defies the prevailing political climate of fear created and sustained by both sides of politics since the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington on September 11 2001.

It defies the aggressive hostility towards the press shown by the federal government, with its determination to continue the prosecution of ABC and News Corp journalists for revealing government secrets that the public clearly had a right to know, and by the head of the Home Affairs Department, Mike Pezzullo, who says he wants people jailed if they leak government information to the media.

And it defies the contemptuous attitude to press freedom shown by the Australian Federal Police in raiding the ABC and the home of News Corp journalist Annika Smethurst over stories. This attitude was reinforced by new AFP commissioner Reece Kershaw, who told Senate estimates on October 21 that he had not turned his mind to the question of why the newspapers might have embarked on this campaign for press freedom.

Read more: Media raids raise questions about AFP's power and weak protection for journalists and whistleblowers

Those AFP raids led to two concurrent parliamentary inquiries, one by the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security (PJCIS) and the other by the Senate Standing Committee on Environment and Communications.

The raids also galvanised the media industry. On June 26, the heads of all the main news organisations presented a united front at the National Press Club in accusing the government of criminalising journalism. They called for a thorough overhaul of laws on national security, government secrecy, whistleblower protection, freedom of information and defamation.

At the same time, they acknowledged the media had done a bad job of raising public awareness of the threat to press freedom. The blackout of October 21 was a dramatic first step in redressing this.

The involvement of News Corp, with its command of two-thirds of Australias daily newspaper circulation and its proven political clout, has given powerful impetus to the campaign. Whether it would have joined in had not one of its own journalists been raided is a matter on which Kershaw might care to reflect as he conducts his promised review of how the AFP handles these matters.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Scott Morrison used Question Time in parliament to reassert his previous position that journalists are not above the law. His response ignored the fundamental point that the problem lies in the law itself.

There is a natural time frame for the media industrys campaign. The PJCIS is due to report on November 28 this year and the Senate inquiry on March 16 2020. That gives the industry roughly five months in which to put enough political pressure on the government for it to make a serious attempt at law reform.

Read more: Parliamentary press freedom inquiry: letting the fox guard the henhouse

However, the antagonism to this from the federal bureaucracy and the security services was revealed in their appearances at the PJCIS inquiry. They gave no ground at all. They regard the current regime of laws as right and necessary.

So, if the government does attempt genuine reform, it will face sustained opposition from its own public service. The government will also have to explain to the Australian people why the fear on which this whole politico-legal edifice has been built is no longer quite as acute as they have been led to believe.

It would also be turning its back on a history of government oppression of the media, a fixture in Australian political life that goes back at least as far as the earliest days of the Cold War.

The bugbear then was communism. ASIO kept files on Australian journalists whom it suspected often on comically flimsy grounds of being reds. ASIO then used these assessments to blight peoples careers by passing them on to media executives who were prepared to listen.

In those more quiescent days, the media were also prepared to be part of what was called the D-notice system, under which the media voluntarily agreed not to publish material on subjects defined in the D notices. These included material on atomic bomb testing in Australia, defence capabilities, and the whereabouts of Vladimir Petrov, a Soviet diplomat and spy in Canberra who defected with his wife in 1954.

The system lasted from 1952 to 1982, by which time the media had woken up to the fact that it was a betrayal of its public duty to collude with the government like this.

The old Fairfax newspapers in particular began to publish embarrassing leaks of intelligence material. Some of it showed how Australia was double-crossing Indonesia at a time when, publicly, Australia was doing its best to appease Jakarta.

The Sydney Morning Herald got out one such story on the front page of its first edition before an injunction was served in the middle of the night restraining it from further publication. The second edition of the paper appeared with a large white space where the story had been, carrying the word censored and recounting what had happened to the story readers were no longer allowed to see.

More spectacularly, Fairfax journalist Brian Toohey became the target of successive governments outraged over his stories based on leaks about intelligence activities. He became the bete noir of the then head of the Defence Department, Sir Arthur Tange. Toohey has now written a book called Secrets about the ways governments continually wage war against journalists and whistleblowers.

Read more: BOOK REVIEW: Brian Toohey's Secret warns against Australia being 'joined at the hip' with US

In the recent PJCIS inquiry, the same Mike Pezzullo who said he wanted leakers sent to jail also proposed reviving the D-notice system. Given the current level of hostility between government and media, it seemed quixotic, to say the least.

However, it also showed that nothing changes in the culture and mindset of the Australian public service. The same instinctive resort to secrecy and control of information that has been its hallmark for decades remains its hallmark today. The only difference is that it has now been supercharged by the passage of 82 pieces of national security legislation since the September 11 terror attacks.

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Protests rattle the postwar order in Lebanon and Iraq – Minneapolis Star Tribune

Posted: at 3:18 pm

BAGHDAD Tens of thousands of people, many of them young and unemployed men, thronged public squares and blocked main streets Friday in the capitals of Iraq and Lebanon in unprecedented, spontaneous anti-government revolts in two countries scarred by long conflicts.

Demonstrators in Iraq were beaten back by police firing live ammunition and tear gas, and officials said 30 people were killed in a fresh wave of unrest that has left 179 civilians dead this month. In Lebanon, scuffles between rival political groups broke out at a protest camp, threatening to undermine an otherwise united civil disobedience campaign now in its ninth day.

The protests are directed at a postwar political system and a class of elite leaders that have kept both countries from relapsing into civil war but achieved little else. The most common rallying cry from the protesters in Iraq and Lebanon is "Thieves! Thieves!" a reference to officials they accuse of stealing their money and amassing wealth for decades.

The leaderless uprisings are unprecedented in uniting people against political leaders from their own religious communities. But the revolutionary change they are calling for would dismantle power-sharing governments that have largely contained sectarian animosities and force out leaders who are close to Iran and its heavily armed local allies.

Their grievances are not new.

Three decades after the end of Lebanon's civil war and 16 years after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, the streets of their capitals echo with the roar of private generators that keep the lights on. Tap water is undrinkable and trash goes uncollected. High unemployment forces the young to put off marriage and children.

Every few years there are elections, and every time it seems like the same people win.

The sectarian power-sharing arrangement that ended Lebanon's 1975-1990 civil war distributed power and high offices among Christians, Shiites and Sunnis. It has mostly kept the peace, but has turned former warlords into a permanent political class that trades favors for votes. A planned tax on WhatsApp amid a financial crisis was the last straw.

In Iraq, a similar arrangement among Shiites and minority Sunnis and Kurds has led to the same corrupt stasis, with parties haggling over ministries so they can give jobs and aid to supporters while lining their own pockets. The devastating war against the Islamic State group only exacerbated decades-old economic problems in the oil-rich country.

"They (leaders) have eaten away at the country like cancer," said Abu Ali al-Majidi, 55, pointing toward the Green Zone, home to government offices and Western embassies.

"They are all corrupt thieves," he added, surrounded by his four sons who had come along for the protest.

In Iraq, a ferocious crackdown on protests that began Oct. 1 resulted in the deaths of 149 civilians in less than a week, most of them shot in the head and chest, along with eight security forces killed. After a three-week hiatus, the protests resumed Friday, with 30 people killed, according to the semi-official Iraq High Commission for Human Rights.

In both countries, which share a history of civil strife, the potential for sustained turmoil is real.

Iraq and Lebanon are considered to be firmly in Iran's orbit, and Tehran is loath to see protracted political turbulence that threatens the status quo, fearing it may lose influence at a time when it is under heavy pressure from the U.S.

The Iran-backed Hezbollah in Beirut and the Popular Mobilization Forces in Baghdad have said they want the governments in both countries to stay in power.

The protests against Iraq's Shiite-led government have spread to several, mainly Shiite-populated southern provinces. In Lebanon, demonstrations have erupted in Shiite communities, including in south Lebanon for the first time.

Signs of a backlash against Tehran's tight grip on both countries can already be seen.

Among the protesters' chants in Baghdad, one said: "Iran out, out! Baghdad free, free!"

Protesters trying to reach the heavily fortified Green Zone were met with tear gas and live ammunition. Men in black plainclothes and masks stood in front of Iraqi soldiers, facing off with protesters and firing the tear gas. Residents said they did not know who they were, with some speculating they were Iranians.

In the south, headquarters of Iran-backed militias were set on fire.

In central Beirut, Hezbollah supporters clashed with anti-government protesters. Supporters of the powerful group rejected the protesters equating its leader with other corrupt politicians. A popular refrain in the rallies, now in their ninth day, has been: "All means all."

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah warned in a televised speech that the protests although largely peaceful until now could lead to chaos and civil war. He said they were being hijacked by political rivals opposing the group.

"We are closing the roads, calling for toppling the system that has been ruling us for the past 30 years with oppression, suppression and terror, said Abed Doughan, a protester blocking a street in southern Beirut.

After Friday's deadly violence in Iraq, a curfew was announced in several areas of the south. Hundreds of people were taken to hospitals, many with shortness of breath from the tear gas.

The current round of protests has been endorsed by nationalist Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, who has a popular base of support and holds the largest number of seats in parliament. He has called on the government to resign and suspended his bloc's participation in the government until it comes up with a reform program.

However, powerful Shiite militias backed by Iran have stood by the government and suggested the demonstrations were an outside "conspiracy."

Iraq's most senior Shiite spiritual leader, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, appealed for protesters and security forces to avoid violence. In his Friday sermon, he also criticized the government-appointed committee investigating the crackdown in the previous protests, saying it did not achieve its goals or uncover who was behind the violence.

As in the protests earlier this month, the protesters, organized on social media, started from the central Tahrir Square. The demonstrators carried Iraqi flags and chanted anti-government slogans, demanding jobs and better public services like water and electricity.

"I want my country back, I want Iraq back," said Ban Soumaydai, 50, an Education Ministry employee who wore black jeans, a white T-shirt and carried an Iraqi flag with the hashtag #We want a country printed on it.

Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi has struggled to deal with the protests. In an address to the nation early Friday, he promised a government reshuffle next week and pledged reforms. He told protesters they have a right to peaceful demonstrations and called on security forces to protect the protesters.

Similarly, Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri issued an emergency reform package few days after the protests began on Oct. 17 a document that has been dismissed by protesters as "empty promises."

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Protests rattle the postwar order in Lebanon and Iraq - Minneapolis Star Tribune

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The United States Has Never Truly Been a Democracy – The New York Times

Posted: at 3:18 pm

Between impeachment inquiries, questions about the security of our elections and the proliferation of books and articles announcing that democracy is dead, its clear that many people in the United States are disillusioned with democracy.

But its hard to claim that the United States, at any point in its history, has been a democracy in the rigorous sense of the word. This is partly by design. The foundations of the United States were defined by a struggle over how much democracy should be mitigated. It was terrifyingly radical to suggest that the people even a very restricted group of people might have a say in government, and the founders cautiously padded the rails to limit the power of the masses. This was still a huge step forward from dynastic monarchy, but it was not a place to stop.

And we didnt stop.

Over the two and a half centuries since, weve grown more democratic, expanding the franchise to women and people of color and instituting the direct election of senators by popular vote (the 17th amendment, ratified in 1913). But weve also taken steps away from pure democracy; initiatives making it more difficult for people to vote and gerrymandering are good examples of this. Weve watched the role of money in politics grow and seen the proportion of our representation drop because of the cap on the number of members in the House of Representatives.

In the past 20 years, weve had two presidential elections in which the candidate with the most votes did not take office. But presidential elections are only the tip of the undemocratic iceberg. In 2014, a Princeton study by Martin Gilens and Benjamin I. Page found that the United States is an oligarchy, not a democracy, with policy driven by the economic elite and business interests. Furthermore, studies and polls show that majority public opinion on many of the key issues of the day abortion, gun control, universal health care is nowhere near reflected in public policy decisions.

Its hardly surprising that we havent yet perfected our system of government. Societies have been practicing democracy for a very short time relative to human history, and were still working out the bugs and persuading ourselves to commit to the difficulties. And democracy is still a terrifyingly radical idea as much as we rhapsodize about government by the people, we are afraid to trust ourselves and much more afraid to trust anyone else.

Moreover, democracy was never supposed to be a perfect clockwork mechanism, functioning on its own while citizens went about their lives, mitigating with preternatural precision every failure of human nature. Democracy is about people actively engaging with the decisions of their government at every level. It requires creating the space and processes for that to happen, providing education to enable an informed citizenry and putting in place safeguards to prevent oppression by the majority and then continuously improving and adjusting those components as society changes.

In our technology-rich world, with a surplus of wealth and leisure time, we should have more opportunities to facilitate and extend democracy than ever before. And we do. Municipalities across the United States and countries around the world are experimenting with different types of democracy, leveraging digital and nondigital innovations to better involve citizens. Some countries have mandatory voting; some have instituted e-voting. Some localities within the United States are experimenting with ranked-choice voting or quadratic voting. Some countries are expanding the potential of direct democracy, in which people vote on policies or laws rather than on representatives; some are looking for ways to engage people beyond voting, into broader engagement in governance and community. There are myriad ways that we can make our system more representative, more accountable, more reflective of what people want.

And yet most of the discourse in the United States treats democracy as a done deal, an achievement to trumpet and spread around the world, an enviable and unchangeable status quo. Theres an immense kind of hubris in the suggestion that the way we do democracy is the end-all and be-all of governance, and that if it doesnt work it must be democracys fault rather than our own.

Its telling that many of the arguments about the end of democracy suggest its because weve given too much power to the masses, that weve become too democratic. A paper by Shawn Rosenberg, professor of political science and psychological science at the University of California, Irvine, claims that the problem is social media and that other technologies have disrupted the role of elites in guiding the masses through the intricacies of policy and economics. Other commenters suggest that the abysmal state of political literacy in the United States means the people cant be trusted to make decisions about their government.

But how many of the recent failures of democracy have come about not because institutions eroded but because those institutions either were never intended to be democratic or have recently been adjusted to be exclusionary?

That the Electoral College system should result in a president who did not win the popular vote is not a failure of democracy; rather, its the expected effect of a system that was always supposed to be undemocratic, and its functioning as intended (if not quite as designed). If the checks and balances of our tripartite system have failed, its not only because of bad people acting in venal and unethical ways; its because those people were elected through undemocratic means of gerrymandering, party politics, voter suppression and intense injections of money, and they know where their incentives lie. If voter turnout is low, maybe its not because people dont believe in democracy any more, but because the system they live in has shown them time and again that their vote doesnt count the way its supposed to count and their representatives dont need to care about representing them.

Our recent stumbles are reminders that we still have work to do on our system of government. Democracy is not a unitary state that can be achieved, but a continuous process. We need to keep reinventing and refining government, to keep up with changes in society and technology and to keep it from being too easy for elites with resources to exploit. And it is worth fighting for. Not because of the founders, or because it sounds good, but because while democracy may be far from perfect, it is still the best system weve got.

At least so far.

Malka Older is an affiliated research fellow with the Center for the Sociology of Organizations at the Paris Institute of Political Studies and the author of The Centenal Cycle trilogy. Her new collection of short stories, And Other Disasters, will be published on Nov. 16.

The Times is committed to publishing a diversity of letters to the editor. Wed like to hear what you think about this or any of our articles. Here are some tips. And heres our email: letters@nytimes.com.

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The United States Has Never Truly Been a Democracy - The New York Times

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Sarah Glynn: Civic Scotland is adding its voice to Turkey boycott – The National

Posted: at 3:18 pm

WE saved all the world, Kurdistan activist Honar Kobani told me on Thursday. But today children in Serekaniye are being killed by Erdogan with chemicals. What do you do when world leaders stand aside in the face of fascism? Friends of the Kurds, and of their social revolution, will continue to call on the politicians to take action.

We will continue, too, to keep alive belief in a society for the common good, which the Kurds were turning into reality: a society built on bottom-up democracy, that prioritises womens rights, ecology and multicultural harmony.

We will attempt to bring these ideas into our own actions and organisations. And we also call for a boycott of Turkey, because the Turkish economy is President Erdogans Achilles heel.

The last two weeks have produced expressions of shock and horror across the world, but these are nothing to the shock felt by the Kurds.

Honar Kobani lost two brothers and two nephews in the 2014 battle to save his namesake home city: the battle that turned the tide against Daesh. And he observed that as we were speaking, Russian and regime forces were driving through Kobani.

READ MORE:David Pratt: Donald Trump has stabbed the Kurds in the back

The Kurds have no reason to trust the Syrian regime, which wouldnt even recognise many of them as citizens; but better to be under Assad than face Turkey and the militant jihadi gangs that they are using as frontline troops.

The horror of living under the gangs sponsored by Turkey can be seen in Afrin, the westernmost part of Kurdish Syria, which Turkey invaded and occupied last year.

Those who have not fled this once-peaceful region face a combination of oppression and random violence; kidnap for ransom has become a major industry. People with relations abroad and so potential access to more money are particularly at risk, as the brother of another Edinburgh Kurd recently discovered to his cost.

Turkeys land-grab in Syria also strengthens Erdogans brutal hold on Turkey itself, giving double reason for a boycott. Our call for boycott is supported across Scottish civic society, as well as by the Kurdish community.

Turkey has declared war against the Kurdish people and has supported Daesh. Brutal suppression within Turkish borders has been matched by invasion and ethnic cleansing in Syria.

Within Turkey, an increasingly fascist government is demonstrating contempt for basic human rights, such as freedom of speech.

For their own reasons, the US and Russia have conceded to Turkish aggression, while the rest of the world does nothing. It is up to us to act. Buying Turkish products, and especially Turkish holidays, provides support to this brutal Turkish government. We are calling on everyone not to help fund oppression.

Erdogan announces in the UN his intention to carry out an unprovoked attack and implement ethnic cleansing. He gathers together gangs of militants, who have fought with Daesh, Al Qaeda and other violent jihadi groups, to spearhead his attack on the ground.

He backs them up with the firepower of the second-largest military force in NATO, equipped by the arms companies of Europe and the United States.

He empowers the gangs to indulge in wanton violence and looting, and to free Daesh prisoners.

He targets Turkish bombs at hospitals and water supplies and civilian convoys, and loads them with white phosphorus. Kurds and their neighbours, who two weeks ago were living in peace and building a society that focused on the common good, face death, destruction and displacement from their homes and land. And the worlds leaders, the so-called international community, watch it all, like rabbits caught in the headlights.

Much has been written about the role of the US and Russia and occasionally, that other imperialist contender, Iran.

We have always known that there is no honour among imperialists. But all those who make a show of professing their horror, yet do nothing, must also take the blame.

That Turkey has carried out an unprovoked invasion, should, in itself, be enough for politicians to take action. The deliberately genocidal nature of that invasion makes the need for action all the more urgent.

And while the media focus on the man-made disaster in Northern Syria, state repression within Turkey gets even more extreme against the Kurds, and against anyone who expresses a whisper of criticism of the government.

International leaders are not powerless to act. They could work together to implement and protect a no-fly zone over northern Syria. They could impose meaningful sanctions that seriously hurt the Turkish economy, and they could strengthen the half-hearted stay on new arms deals to a complete ban.

They wont do these things unless they are pushed, and that is why we will keep up pressure on our politicians and governments, and urge everyone who cares about a better world and the preservation of human lives to join us. But we can also take action ourselves through a boycott of Turkish goods, and especially of tourism, which has become an increasingly important mainstay of the Turkish economy.

Not long ago, it looked as though Turkeys growing economic difficulties would bring an end to the increasingly tyrannical rule of Recep Tayyip Erdogan. But a booming tourist industry has helped ward off greater economic decline that could have triggered political change. In 2018, tourism brought Turkey 23 billion, with 2.25 million UK holiday-makers making a significant contribution. Income from tourism including from the government-owned Turkish Airlines has enabled Erdogans political survival by preventing more serious economic collapse.

It has also provided the funds that have enabled Erdogan to distribute money directly to his supporters, and to increase military spending. While life for many people in Turkey is a struggle for survival, military spending last year was increased by 24% to 14.8bn.

The call for a boycott of Turkey is growing. It comes from the Kurds themselves, and it is supported by a growing number of academics. writers, artists, and people from all walks of life who want to do what they can to make a difference and to take a stand.

Northern Syrian today is the front line of the fight against fascism and for a better world as Spain was 80 years ago. We need to learn from history and take a stand now.

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People taking to the streets in all continents demanding a humanised system – Pressenza, International Press Agency

Posted: at 3:18 pm

We are witnessing a moment of widespread social mobilisation in many cities around the world that seems to be gathering pace as the numbers swell and the demands become clearer, even if they begin with a very particular response to a specific act of government (increases in fuel or transport fares, corruption, authoritarianism) soon they include the whole system of oppression and dehumanisation, years of austerity for the poor and concentration of wealth for the rich, wars, violence in all its forms, it all becomes a deep clamour: this system has to change.

Perhaps international communications and awareness of common issues, in particular amongst young people, have been enhanced by the actions of environmental groups like Gretas Fridays for the Future and Extinction Rebellion and, less visible in the media but equally important in terms of the risks shared by all humanity, by the coordinated work of the antinuclear activists the world over intent of achieving a ban of nuclear weapons via the ratification of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

Perhaps the simultaneous quality of the protests is simply evidence that people have reached the breaking point and can no longer tolerate the violence, the discrimination, the oppression, the competition, the lack of solidarity, and we may understand it as a response to the cruelty of neoliberal capitalism.

Perhaps the rise of the deranged autocrats and fascists, taking over governments, betraying their allies, leading a genocide of immigrants, have brought echos of the pre-WW2 state of affaires.

Or, perhaps, a new sensibility, a new spirit, a new inspiration and a new humanism is growing in the hearts of the peoples, who begin to see beyond the rebellion, beyond the protests, and beyond their individual lives, dreaming, glimpsing, just making out how the world could be different, compassionate, fair, safe for everyone, nonviolent, meaningful, full of joy and solidarity.

Most likely all of the above, and many other subtle factors that will be showing themselves in the process.

Some snippets from around the world

Chile

Four million people were yesterday in the streets of Santiago and other cities demanding changes to the draconian neoliberal regime of President Piera. The spark was an increase in the price of the Metro fares to which students responded vigorously but the rest of the population followed to include issues of health, education, pensions, etc in the biggest demonstrations ever seen by the country.

Haiti

Anti government protesters have been demanding changes for several months, denouncing corruption and the abject poverty imposed on the population.

Catalonia

There have been massive demonstrations against the lengthy prison sentences imposed by the Spanish Courts on members of the Catalonian government after they conducted a referendum on Catalonias independence.

France

The Gilets Jeunes have been in the streets of many French cities for months, initially protesting an increase in the price of fuel but widening the remit to include other social problems and demanding changes in the system.

UK

More than a million people went to the streets to protest against the way the government is conducting the Brexit process and demanding a Popular Vote, a final say on whether the UK actually leaves the EU and under what conditions.

Hong Kong

Initially sparked by a ruling that would allow offenders to be sent to Chinas mainland Courts to be tried (now withdrawn by the Hong Kong officials), the movement has maintained a constant presence in the streets for several months, adding other demands, in particular a move towards full democracy.

Algeria

The Revolution of Smiles have seen people in the streets for several months which led to the fall of the previous corrupt regime and ongoing negotiations with a not very cooperative military for a new government that responds to the needs of the population.

Lebanon

Country-wide, non-sectarian protests are taking place in response to the governments planned taxes on gasoline, tobacco and online phone calls such as through Whatsapp.

Ecuador

IMF-led increases in transport fares and neoliberal austerity by President Lenin Moreno brought about massive demonstrations and the participation of the indigenous population. In spite of the apparent climb down by the government serious problems still exist and the population remain on high alert.

Morocco

Social protests began in 2017 denouncing economic measures, water shortages and violent repression by the regime but the problems continue as the measures introduced by the King have compounded the existing problems.

Egypt

Protests against President el- Sisis government have been taking place in several Egyptian major cities, but they have been met with a strong police response and Human Rights violations according to Amnesty International and other organisations.

Russia

Pro-democracy, mainly students, demonstrations have been taking place, followed by arrests and Court Cases flooded by young people.

The list goes on. Irans retirees, US teachers, Sudans toppling of al Bashirs corrupt government, the Czech Republic massive demonstrations against corruption, Iraqs antigovernment protests and so on.

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Assanges Extradition Is a Case About the Crimes of Empire – Common Dreams

Posted: at 3:18 pm

On October 21, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange appeared in Westminster Magistrates Court in his fight against extradition to the United States. Assange has been charged with 17 counts of Espionage in the U.S., where he faces 175 years in prison related to WikiLeaks 2010 publication concerning US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Diplomatic Cables and Guantanamo Bay.

At the case management hearing, the Judge Vanessa Baraitser denied Assanges legal teams request for a trial extension, and refused to allow a preliminary hearing to hear arguments that the extradition request was prohibited on the grounds that the prosecution and charges against him are politically motivated. Assanges lawyer described this as a political attempt to signal to journalists the consequences of publishing information and legally unprecedented move.

After the hearing, renowned filmmaker John Pilger spoke on the plight of his fellow journalist who is imprisoned for journalism:

This extradition is unlawful. And there is no question about that because there is one very explicit statute in this treaty that says no one could be extradited if they are charged with a political offense. This under law is a political offense what the U.S. wanted [him] for. So the whole thing should be thrown out of court and Julian [should be] walking out.

The U.S. governments prosecution of Assange is and always has been politically motivated. He is not in jail for skipping bail. He is not in jail for alleged sexual misconduct. He is there for exposing the war crimes of the U.S. empire. By publishing the documents that are verified to be authentic, Assange through his work with WikiLeaks provided the public with vital evidence of governments wrongdoing. For this, he has become a world famous political prisoner.

He has now been made defenseless under the Espionage Act of 1917. This outdated U.S. federal law, created after World War I for wartime prosecutions has now been weaponized by the state to punish whistleblowers and even journalists. Assange, just as any others, who are charged under this law, will not be able to have public interest defense and receive a fair trial.

Sign of torture

Mondays judicial hearing made states outlandish political retaliation against this multi-award winning journalist open to the public. During the hearing, Assange, who spends most of his time in complete isolation in Londons Belmarsh Prison mentally struggled to state his name and date of birth. When the judge asked him if he understood the court proceeding, he responded saying, "I cant think properly."

Clinical psychologist Lissa Johnson noted this display of disorientation as a sign of the effect on him from prolonged solitary confinement. UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Nils Melzer, who has been deeply concerned about the treatment of Assange and his health, has been warning the public that Assange has been subjected to psychological torture.

Craig Murray, the former British Ambassador to Uzbekistan shared his observation from attending the hearing. After describing how shocked he was to see his friends severe loss of weight and physical deterioration, Murray noted how his physical appearance was not as shocking as his mental deterioration. He then went on to describe how he has been skeptical of those who claimed Assanges treatment amounted to torture, but after seeing the hearing changed his mind completely and now agrees that Assange is exhibiting the symptoms of a torture victim.

Crimes of empire

Despite his waning mental condition highlighted by the mainstream media, Assange is aware of what has been done to him and was clear about the ill treatment he has been subjected to. In a court where he was once again denied his basic rights and his justice was obstructed, Assange gathered the strength to speak his truth in his fight against extradition:

I dont understand how this is equitable. This superpower had 10 years to prepare for this case and I cant access my writings. Its very difficult where I am to do anything but these people have unlimited resources...They are saying journalists and whistleblowers are enemies of the people. They have unfair advantages dealing with documents. They [know] the interior of my life with my psychologist. They steal my childrens DNA. This is not equitable what is happening here.

Truth of the matter is Assanges extradition case is not about conspiracy to commit computer intrusion with his source, former US military intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning or about violating the Espionage Act by seeking out classified information. This is all about crimes of the empire their unaccounted historic human rights abuses, torture and oppression, that have been now enacted against Assange and his organization.

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The US governments assault on WikiLeaks has been carried out under the radar since as early as 2008, when US intelligence designated the whistleblowing site as an information security threat to the US army. It escalated in 2010, shortly after WikiLeaks published the trove of US classified military records of the Afghan War and the Iraq War Logs.

This unchecked power expanded, creating a long, dreadful persecution of Assange. Before he was put into a maximum-security prison, being treated worse than a murderer as indicated by UN rulings, Assange had been arbitrarily detained without charge. First he was in prison, then kept under house arrest and lived as a refugee in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. For nearly a decade, despite the UN repeatedly issuing statements demanding the UK to honor its international obligations and allow Assange to leave the embassy without fear of arrest and extradition, the UK government, kept him in confinement, depriving him of medical care and sunlight.

In particular, during the last year of his stay in the Embassy, this already untenable situation got significantly worse. Pressured by the US, Ecuadors new President, Lenin Moreno put Assange in isolation by cutting off his access to the Internet, denying him phone calls and visitors, which Human Rights Watch general counsel described as being similar to solitary confinement.

Then came the final straw. Ecuador illegally terminated Assanges political asylum and confiscated his belongings, including legal papers and medical records from his time living in the embassy. Along with his entire legal defense being handed over to the US authorities, he has been denied the basic tools and access to lawyers, being made unable to prepare his defense.

Recently, it came to light that the CIA had been directly ordering a Spanish security company that was supposed to protect Ecuadors Embassy to spy on Assange. Surveillance was carried out with video and audio for 24 hours, 7 days a week, monitoring privileged conversations between Assange and his lawyers and even spying on the womens bathroom.

In defense of truth

By enduring this Western governments coordinated brutal persecution, Assange, if not broken, was weakened. Here, a man who always spoke truth to power and courageously defended those who are oppressed, is now becoming unable to use his voice to defend himself any longer.

Seeing his friend, who is the greatest journalist of this century suffer from travesty of justice, being tortured to death by the state, Murray laments, letting people know what is at stake:

I had been even more skeptical of those who claimed, as a senior member of his legal team did to me on Sunday night, that they were worried that Julian might not live to the end of the extradition process. I now find myself not only believing it, but haunted by the thought.

The judicial system has become deaf to cries of injustice and the corporate media has been engaged in obfuscation and blackout, covering up the crimes of empire. While Assange is silenced, being brutally persecuted, the public has become his last line of defense.

Around the globe, solidarity is emerging with those who are able to respond to the plea of truth calling on the conscience of ordinary people. Outside of the court, around 200 demonstrators gathered in support of his freedom. In a statement issued after the hearing, German Member of Parliament Heike Hnsel issued a statement urging the British government and the EU to stop bowing to US interests and instead reject this extra-territorial political persecution.

In his home country Australia, where the government has been silent and has not done anything to protect its own citizen, there have been growing demands for the Australian government to intervene to save Assanges life. A day after the hearing, the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives formally approved the Parliamentary Group that is set up to work toward bringing Assange back home to Australia.

Assanges first full extradition hearing is set for February. Until we all are able to hear the truth that was brought out at the hearing on Monday, and break the silence to let that truth be told, Assange remains unfree, and with him the free press is locked behind bars.If a concerned public fails to stand up for his freedom now, journalism indeed will soon become a crime. We now must speak for whistleblowers and publishers, those courageous among us who have risked their lives, and given up everything in order to defend our right to free speech. We must act now with courage for this could be the moment before democracy takes its last breath.

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How Fiat Money Fails: Deconstructing the Government’s Paper-Thin Promise – Bitcoin News

Posted: at 3:18 pm

Fiat money has a surprisingly short lifespan. The almighty U.S. dollar currently serving as world reserve currency is not exempted, in spite of all proclamation that it cannot fail. Throughout history, fiat money has failed over and over again, where sound assets like gold have survived. Ruling out acts of god and unforeseen circumstance, the number one reason fiat fails is due to unsound economic policy. This is where gold and bitcoin stand to truly prevail.

Also Read: Credit Suisse Is Latest Bank to Charge Clients for Cash Deposits

Theres a reason no one hears people saying good as fiat to describe something trustworthy or valuable. Gold has been used as currency for thousands of years, since at least 700 B.C., when it was favored by Lydian traders. The oldest fiat money still being used today has only been around for a little over 300 years, beginning in 1694 with the founding of the Bank of England. Prior to its use as currency, gold was used in barter and trade all over the world, in the absence of political mandate. By contrast, fiat means by decree or let it be done and depends on the force-backed laws of a state or monarch to demand its use, or else.

A recent tweet by user @100trillionUSD makes an interesting observation. When fiat failure strikes, it tends to happen first as a gradual build, and then spiral out of control suddenly, skyrocketing to oblivion. The German gold mark was a gold-backed currency for the empire from 1873-1914. After the gold standard was abandoned in 1914, the paper mark would soon become worthless, hyper-inflating itself to toilet paper tier within 10 years.

This is an extreme case, to be sure, but even where the most reliable fiat money is concerned, it always devalues into relative worthlessness at some point. As mentioned, the current title holder for longest lasting fiat currency is the British pound sterling, at 325 years old. Compared to its initial value in silver, when it was created to help finance war in 1694, it has lost almost 100% of its value.

The devaluation story of the U.S. dollar is no less dismal. As noted by one prominent inflation calculator:

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics consumer price index, todays prices in 2019 are 2,493.53% higher than average prices throughout 1913 The 1913 inflation rate was 2.06%. The current inflation rate (2018 to 2019) is now 1.71%. If this number holds, $1 today will be equivalent in buying power to $1.02 next year.

So the real question with fiat is not how stable is it, but How long until its suitable for kindling? A much cited but highly disputed 27-year fiat lifespan study found that 20% of the 775 fiat currencies examined failed due to hyperinflation, and that 21% were destroyed in war. 24% percent were reformed through centralized monetary policy. This means that the majority of failure or discontinuance of fiat is by way of government intervention, warfare and economic policy.

Emphasizing the inability to wage large scale warfare in the absence of this paper fiat, dollardaze.org states that Initially, money is a tangible commodity. That commodity is then concentrated by those who issue paper receipts merely representative of the underlying commodity. The reason for doing this is to lend out more in paper receipts than what can be legitimately backed. In other words, the powerful amass hard assets via scammy, obfuscated pilfer, while the poor suffer hardship, forced to use the garbage currency being offered instead.

For a highly detailed list of modern cases of hyperinflation, the Hanke-Krus Hyperinflation Table is an eye-opening resource illustrating the unreliable nature of government money. Though now slightly dated and not including recent examples like Venezuela, the data is presented in starkly direct fashion. In August 1945, prices in Hungary doubled in only 15 hours. Brazil experienced a daily inflation rate of 2.02% from December 1989 to March 1990. Even Austria is not immune historically, the crown hyper-inflating for almost a year from October 1920 to September 1922. The Hanke-Krus study is a sobering reminder of what happens when sound economic principle is ignored. As Austrian school economist Ludwig von Mises put it:

The most important thing to remember is that inflation is not an act of God, that inflation is not a catastrophe of the elements or a disease that comes like the plague. Inflation is a policy.

And further: The gold standard did not collapse. Governments abolished it in order to pave the way for inflation. The whole grim apparatus of oppression and coercion policemen, customs guards, penal courts, prisons, in some countries even executioners had to be put into action in order to destroy the gold standard.

Whether or not one agrees with the proclamation of the renowned economist is immaterial in the face of the economic reality. Fiat money is, was and always will become worth less over time by its very nature. Bitcoin and crypto stand to remedy this if leveraged properly and by a large and determined enough market. Judging by the current regulatory climate and history itself, however, fiat wont fall without a fight.

Which fiat collapse do you find most remarkable? Why? Let us know in the comments section below.

Images courtesy of Shutterstock, fair use.

Did you know you can verify any unconfirmed Bitcoin transaction with our Bitcoin Block Explorer tool? Simply complete a Bitcoin address search to view it on the blockchain. Plus, visit our Bitcoin Charts to see whats happening in the industry.

Graham Smith is an American expat living in Japan, and the founder of Voluntary Japanan initiative dedicated to spreading the philosophies of unschooling, individual self-ownership, and economic freedom in the land of the rising sun.

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The Great Society and Opportunity Lost – National Review

Posted: at 3:18 pm

President Lyndon B. Johnson in an undated photo(Lyndon Baines Johnson Library & Museum/Reuters )Lyndon Johnsons 1960s spending initiatives have not paid off with any improvement in education.

In 1964, most people would have been excited to receive a signed picture from the president. But a woman known to history as Mrs. Marlow did not want Lyndon Johnsons autograph.

She wanted clothes for her family. And food. All we want is a decent chance for our children, Marlow wrote to Johnson. Marlow felt she deserved as much because Johnson made a much-publicized visit to her family earlier that year, using the Marlows as an example of an impoverished family that Johnsons Great Society programs could help.

If money was the answer, she was in luck. Johnson was about to open the spigots of federal spending like never before in the areas of education, health care, and welfare, promising that Washington would improve schools and lift families out of poverty.

Today, decades and trillions of dollars later, parents like Mrs. Marlow are still waiting for results. Johnsons programs and their legacy have proved to be a curse on taxpayers and low-income families.

Head Start, the federal pre-kindergarten program for low-income children launched under Johnson, has had no lasting learning gains for enrolled students. Whats more, a new report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found Head Start centers inflating enrollment numbers by doctoring student applications. Taxpayers have spent more than $240 billion on the initiative since its launch in 1965.

Washington has spent $2 trillion on K12 schools since 1965, yet there has been no improvement in actual student learning for disadvantaged students compared with their peers. The achievement gap between children from low-income families and wealthier students was the equivalent of four years of learning decades ago and remains that size today. There has, however, been a notable increase in the bureaucracy. The number of administrators has increased 137 percent since the 1960s.

Today the federal government originates and services 90 percent of all student loans, spending $150 billion annually on loans and grants. Tuition at public four-year universities has increased 213 percent (after accounting for inflation) since 1987. Meanwhile, a slightly smaller proportion of students from families in the bottom quartile of the income distribution graduate from college today, the very students Johnsons loan programs were supposed to help.

By any measurable indicator, the Great Society has been a bust for students.

To make matters worse, special-interest groups have captured many instructional materials and steered classrooms away from content-based teaching and toward subjective analyses of race and oppression. Schools are not helping students become productive citizens.

Want proof? The 2019 Annenberg Public Policy Center Civics Survey found that more than one in five respondents could not name any branch of the U.S. government. One-quarter could only name one branch, which means nearly half of adults cannot even begin to explain how our government operates.

Fortunately, not all is lost. A greater reliance on charter schools public schools that operate independent of traditional school districts and base their curriculum on great works of literature would certainly help. So would education savings accounts K12 private-learning options offered now in five states, which allow families to customize their childs education experience according to the students needs. Another solution: Income Share Agreements, college-payment options under which businesses and universities help students cover postsecondary costs. These ISAs help students get a degree without making the Faustian bargain of a federal loan.

Better learning options are within reach, but lawmakers, taxpayers, and families must confront the failed legacy of the Johnson-era programs. The U.S. Department of Education, created in 1979 after Great Society programs became too much for scattered federal offices to bear, has not given children more opportunities to succeed in school or in life.

The department is overdue for sunset, and voters on both sides should be prepared to support this idea. Evidence demonstrates that low-income children the very children Washington promised to help are no better off today in school than they were when Johnson made his promises to Mrs. Marlow 55 years ago.

In one of Mrs. Marlows letters to Johnson, she wrote, Since your poverty campaign visit to our home on May 7, we havent had a peaceful day. . . . We feel we were cast in the middle of a Democratic and Republican election war.

Too many families and children have watched opportunities slip away amid political squabbles over taxpayer spending for failed programs. And Mrs. Marlows example is illustrative of Washingtons failed responses to our nations education woes. After months of correspondence about the Marlow familys ongoing poverty and public embarrassment, Johnsons assistant, Bill Moyers, wrote back and promised assistance. The day after Moyerss letter, Mrs. Marlow received $200 from someone who wished to remain anonymous.

Lindsey M. Burke, the Will Skillman Fellow in Education at The Heritage Foundation, is the director of Heritages Center for Education Policy. Jonathan Butcher is a senior policy analyst specializing in education issues at Heritage. They are the editors of the new book The Not-So-Great Society.

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‘The only thing to do is keep fighting’: Catalan activists chat to MM about the constitutional crisis in Spain – Mancunian Matters

Posted: at 3:18 pm

Catalonia is burning.

The skyline of Barcelona is filled with smoke and its streets flooded with marching protestors. The centre of Tarragona is swarmed with brawls and riddled with police violence. The economy has stalled. Transport is blocked. The Catalans are fighting, resisting oppression and standing up for independence.

Two years ago, Catalonias bid for independence plunged Spain into a huge political crisis when the autonomous government held an independence referendum.

Madrid responded by dragging Catalonia back into the fold with an authoritarian fist, sparking a wave of protests in the capital, Barcelona and other areas of the region.

Now, the sentencing of nine Catalan pro-independence politicians and activists to prison for between nine and 13 years for their involvement in the referendum has reignited the fire of rebellion and sparked new anti-fascist Spain sentiments in the region.

Meanwhile, in Manchester, in a country perhaps too distracted by its own separatist issues, Im sat facing two Catalans both sporting the yellow ribbon.

Estibaliz Yebras and Josep Simona are both members of the Assemblea Nacional Catalana group in Manchester.

The ANC was created in 2011 and is a movement of the Catalan citizens for independence. The ANC has established many little assemblies in different countries for expatriate Catalans.

From England, [our aim is] to make the people know, to explain to the people what is happening in Catalonia, says Estibaliz. I think the most important thing is to give the opportunity to people to know what is really happening in Catalonia.

We can explain to the international community what are the problems. To make it public.

From here it is easier for us to help the British people to understand what is happening, because you also get the point of view of a British person, adds Josep.

[We aim] To bring awareness, because I think before 2017 the image of Spain in the international community was not the same image that we have inside Catalonia.

We are giving talks to the people in facts, not in opinions. We are giving facts. Who is Spain? Who is the real Spain? What is Spain doing to us, explains Estibaliz.

I speak to English people every day, and Im happy because some of them know what is Catalonia, what is happening there, what the yellow ribbon means. But they are in shock when we tell them that people are in jail for having a referendum. And they say, What? In Spain? But Spain is a democracy, but no its not.

Since post-Franco democracy was established in 1978, Spain has been able to conceal its true undemocratic nature by scapegoating the Basque terrorism of ETA.

However, in the same week the fascist dictators body has been moved, the Catalan crisis highlights that the legacy of his suppression of Catalonia, Galicia and the Basque country still echoes through the Cortes Generales.

When asked if Spain was a democracy, Estibaliz scoffed: Is it a democracy? No, its not, its a dictatorship.

Franco died in 1975 [and] the new government of that time wanted to give us, well, sell us a democracy, but it was a camouflage, because little things have changed but the important things have not.

In 1978, they made a constitution and if you read this constitution, the articles and the laws protect all the fascist regime, and if you read it and you know a bit of history, you know its not fair.

The sentencing of the nine Catalan politicians and activists for their role in the referendum in 2017 appears to have only deepened the wounds inflicted on Catalonia by Spain.

It wasnt a surprise. Because if you consider they have been in jail for two years, and if you had followed the trial, you could see something wrong was happening, Estibaliz explains.

But when I heard about the sentencing I was, and I am, very sad. Very angry, very upset.

It is an attempt to attack democracy, our rights, our right of freedom of expression and right to assembly.

The Spanish government is targeting the citizens, just Catalan citizens.

The laws that apply to Catalans, are not the same as the laws that apply to the Spanish, Josep adds.

How is it possible that in Spain five men raped a girl, they were free, now they're in jail but they only got nine years in jail. But they raped a girl and filmed it. And the politicians got 10-13 years for having a referendum and they didn't hurt anybody, says Estibaliz.

They are political prisoners. If they were from the other communities they wouldn't be in jail.

And it is all because Madrid wants to control everything.

Following the 2017 referendum, Madrid retaliated by withdrawing Catalonias right to autonomy by applying Article 155 of the constitution.

After the referendum, they decided to be in control of everything. They closed the delegations, everything, explains Estibaliz.

They applied 155 article, which means Catalonia does not have control of anything. No rights. And that has only happened in Catalonia. Never before have they applied the 155 article, not in any other community.

And what they are applying is not the 155 article. They have interpreted it the way they want, continues Josep.

It is not only Catalonia that has become militant. The fight for independence has spread across the world and Manchester has joined the battle.

When asked what the European community can do to help the Catalan fight, Estibaliz replies, I think its important to speak about our problem with Europe, with the European community.

Because I know you are very busy at the moment with Brexit but if England and different countries give support to Catalonia and bring that support to the European community [it can help].

But I think the European community doesnt want to know anything about Catalonia.

If Catalonia breaks with Spain, who will pay the debt Spain has with Europe? Who will pay it? Nobody. I think maybe its for this reason.

But the countries in the European Parliament are democratic countries and I think when one of the countries in the community is always doing wrong things, I think the rest can help. They can intervene and try to solve the problem.

On Saturday 12th October, pro-Catalan independence protests were held in London, Glasgow, Cambridge and Manchester and more held yesterday across the country.

All people who believe in democracy, who want to defend human rights can come, doesnt matter if they are English, Russian or Chinese, it doesnt matter, enthuses Estibaliz.

But Catalan people are solidarity people. To be independent doesn't mean leaving Spain to die. I would like to make it clear that Catalonia is fighting against fascism, not against the Spanish people, states Estibaliz.

We want to help people like us. We want to open our doors as always. Its not about closing Catalonia to the rest of the world. We want to be free.

I think that for all our history, the Spanish have always been fighting and persecuting the Catalan people.

They want to be in control all the time in everything.

For me, its persecution. Its discrimination.

You cant understand the violence of the police these days without understanding the ethnic hatred element. Because you see those images of the police, and its so violent that we say its not the police, its ethnic hatred, explains Josep.

Maybe only in non-civilised countries you would see that.

There was a picture today from the China Daily that was comparing the police in Hong Kong with the Police in Spain, saying we are more constrained than the Spanish police.

The recent sentencing appears not to have deterred the Catalans from fighting for their freedom.

When you keep all your anger from two years ago then maybe the moment to explode is right now, claims Estibaliz.

Mobilisation all the time is the only thing we can do. Non-stop. We cant go back now. The only way to solve the problem is continue fighting until we get independence.

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