The Pain Caused by Guns Has No Borders – Over 100,000 Mexicans have been killed, in US’s failed “war on drugs” since 2006

(Versión en español abajo)
The Pain Caused by Guns Has No Borders

Victims of violence in Mexico, Javier Sicilia, and organizations from Mexico and the United States, gathered in the Second Conference of the Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity in Mexico City on January 27, 2013, express our support for President Obama’s proposals that to stop the epidemic of violence with firearms, including assault weapons, that afflicts communities in both the United States and Mexico. We urge people of both countries to support these changes that are so urgent for preventing more atrocities with firearms.

Mexico is suffering the consequences of the unrestricted sale of military-style weapons in the United States. More than 100,000 Mexicans, among them 1,800 children less than 15 years old, have been killed in the failed war on drugs in Mexico since 2006. The great majority were victims of firearms, and 68% of firearms recovered at crime scenes in Mexico and traced between 2007 and 2011 were sold in the United States.

Assault weapons have had an especially devastating impact in Mexico, where organized crime desires these weapons to commit atrocities and control markets and territory. Besides homicides, guns are also used to disappear thousands of people, intimidate the population, and commit other crimes.

“We embrace the pain of the mothers and fathers in the United States who have lost children to gun violence, because my own son was disappeared in Michoacán with a firearm,” said Araceli Rodríguez, mother of Luis Ángel León Rodríguez.

A recent study from the University of Notre Dame shows that the expiration in 2004 of the assault weapons ban in the United States caused at least 2,684 additional homicides in Mexico in the following four years.

The massive homicides with guns also have had an intense psychological impact on children, thousands of them made into orphans by the murders of their parents with firearms. Other children have been witnesses to the murders of their parents, like the seven-year-old daughter of journalist Armando Rodríguez, killed with ten shots in front of her in 2008.


There is only one legal gun vendor in Mexico, so that the black market created by the weapons trafficking from the United States is the principle source of assault weapons, pistols, rifles and revolvers for criminal organizations in Mexico.

On January 14, Javier Sicilia and researcher Sergio Aguayo presented a petition from more than 54,000 people from Mexico and the United States to the United States Embassy in Mexico City, demanding an end to gun trafficking from the United States to Mexico. In the coming weeks, Sicilia, the Movement for Peace, and representatives of Mexican civil society will follow up on the petition to talk with U.S. representatives about the shared responsibility for violence in Mexico.

Proposed legislation in the United States includes universal background checks for every person that attempts to buy a firearm. Universal background checks are important to stop the illegal re-sale of weapons acquired by legally qualified individuals. Such gun purchases, known as “straw purchases,” are the way the large majority of guns end up in the hands of criminals.

On Wednesday, January 30, the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing to consider how to address proposals to control gun sales. We want the Senate to consider the impact that failed gun policies have had in Mexico as well as the United States.

We hope that the United States does not forget the suffering caused in the families, children and people of Mexico by the open gun market in the United States.

Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity

Grassroots Assembly of Migrant Families (APOFAM)

Latin America Working Group (LAWG)

Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR)

Witness for Peace

National Alliance of Latin American and Caribbean Communities

Propuesta Cívica

Center for International Policy, Americas Program

Comité Espacio Ciudadano

Iniciativa Ciudadana para la Promoción de la Cultura del Diálogo A.C.

National Center for Social Communication (CENCOS)

Churches for Peace (Iglesias por la Paz)

Service for Peace and Justice (SERPAJ)-México

Center for Ecumenical Studies

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El Dolor Causado por las Armas de Fuego No Tiene Fronteras

Víctimas de la violencia en México, el poeta Javier Sicilia, y organizaciones mexicanas y de Estados Unidos, reunidos en el Segundo Encuentro del Movimiento por la Paz con Justicia y Dignidad en la Ciudad de México el 27 de enero de 2013, expresamos nuestro apoyo a las propuestas del Presidente Obama que buscan detener la epidemia de violencia con armas de fuego, incluyendo armas de asalto, que afligen tanto a las comunidades de Estados Unidos como a las de México. Rogamos a la sociedad de ambos países apoyar estos cambios tan urgentes para prevenir más atrocidades con armas de fuego.

México está sufriendo las consecuencias de la venta sin restricciones de armas del estilo militar en los Estados Unidos. Más de 100,000 mexicanos, entre ellos 1,800 niños de menos de 15 años de edad, han sido asesinados en la fracasada guerra contra el narco en México desde 2006. La gran mayoría fue víctima de armas de fuego y sesenta y ocho porciento de las armas recuperadas en escenas de crimen en México y rastreadas entre 2007 y 2011 fueron vendidas en Estados Unidos.

Las armas de asalto han tenido un impacto especialmente devastador en México, donde el crimen organizado desea esas armas para cometer atrocidades y controlar mercados y territorios. Aparte de los homicidios, los armas de fuego se usan para desaparecer a miles de personas, intimidar a la población y cometer otros delitos.

“Abrazamos el dolor de las madres y padres en Estados Unidos quienes han perdido hijos por las armas de fuego, porque mi propio hijo fue desaparecido en Michoacán con un arma de fuego,” dijo Araceli Rodríguez, madre de Luis Ángel León Rodríguez.

Un estudio reciente de la Universidad de Notre Dame muestra que la expiración en 2004 de la prohibición de armas de asalto en Estados Unidos causó por lo menos 2,684 homicidios adicionales en México en los cuatro años siguientes.

Los homicidios masivos con armas de fuego también han tenido un impacto sicológico muy fuerte en los niños, miles de ellos hechos huérfanos por los homicidios de sus padres con armas de fuego. Otros niños han sido testigos de los asesinatos de sus familiares, como la hija de siete años de Armando Rodríguez, asesinado con 10 disparos frente a ella en 2008.

En México sólo existe una armería legal, por lo que el mercado negro proveniente del tráfico de armas de Estados Unidos es la fuente principal de armas de asalto, pistolas, rifles, y revólveres para las organizaciones criminales en México.

Javier Sicilia y el investigador Sergio Aguayo presentaron a la Embajada de Estados Unidos el 14 de enero las firmas de más de 54,000 personas de México y Estados Unidos, exigiendo poner un alto al tráfico de armas de Estados Unidos a México. En las semanas que vienen, Sicilia, el Movimiento por la Paz y representantes de la sociedad civil van a dar seguimiento a la petición para hablar de la responsabilidad compartida por la violencia en México.

La legislación propuesta en Estados Unidos incluye la obligación universal de revisar antecedentes de toda persona que intenta comprar un arma. La revisión universal de antecedentes es importante para detener las re-ventas ilegales de armas adquiridas por personas legalmente calificadas. Estas re-ventas son la forma en que la gran mayoría de armas terminan en manos de los delincuentes.

El miércoles 30 de enero, la Comisión Judicial en el Senado de Estados Unidos tendrá una audiencia en la que considerará como se va a tratar las propuestas para controlar la venta de armas. Queremos que el Senado considere el impacto que las políticas fallidas sobre armas han tenido tanto en México como en Estados Unidos.

Esperamos que Estados Unidos no olvide el sufrimiento que causa entre las familias, los niños y el pueblo de México, el mercado abierto de armas de fuego en los Estados Unidos.

Firman:

Movimiento por la Paz con Justicia y Dignidad

Asamblea Popular de Familias Migrantes (APOFAM)
Grupo de Trabajo sobre Asuntos Latinoamericanos (LAWG)
Global Exchange

Movimiento de Reconciliación (FOR)

Acción Permanente por la Paz

Alianza Nacional de Comunidades Latinoamericanas y Caribeñas (NALACC)

Propuesta Cívica

Centro sobre la Política Internacional, Programa de las Américas

Comité Espacio Ciudadano

Iniciativa Ciudadana para la Promoción de la Cultura del Diálogo A.C.

Centro Nacional de Comunicación Social (CENCOS)

Iglesias por la Paz

Servicio Paz y Justicia (SERPAJ)-México

Centro de Estudios Ecuménicos

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Please Help Us Celebrate, Not Appropriate-Palestinian film ’5 Broken Cameras’ Oscar Nomination!

In a historic victory, the excellent and riveting newly released documentary ‘5 Broken Cameras which documents the non-violent struggle against the loss of Palestinian land by the construction of the nearby settlement and the apartheid wall-was nominated for an Oscar this year. The film about the Palestinian people, was made by a Palestinian film maker, and takes place in the Palestinian village of Bil’in. Whether due to malicious intent, even maybe due to sheer confusion, or perhaps because it was co-directed by an Israeli – the media however has taken the liberty to sabotage it, as an “Israeli film” – thus putting a major damper on celebrations.

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As Palestinians, this fact alone is a severe blow to our national pride and is annoying, but that’s not the worst part! To make matters worse and what really makes it a disaster, is what kind of message does it send to the unknowing reader?? An article, in the liberal leaning Huffington Post clearly demonstrates the conundrum and bitter sweet victory, that this Oscar nomination brings. To your average reader, the article states the obvious point, in saying: ”Israel’s overall image in the world has taken a beating because of the decades-long conflict with the Palestinians.”

FINALLY! After over six decades of brutalized struggle, trying desperately, mainly in vain – to hold on to their land, this “beating” to the Israeli image (which is really the truth finally beginning to emerge, as is clearly exemplified in this film) that Palestinians and activists from all over the world-have been struggling tirelessly – at great personal cost, to convey to the world has finally begun to penetrate the main stream.

What comes in the very next sentence of the article, however, makes the exact point that threatens to effectively undermine all the hard work and upholds the false illusion of ‘democracy’ that the apartheid state works so hard to create. The article actually goes on to state: ”but even critics say its film industry shows that Israel remains a vibrant democracy.”!!!

Come again!

The bottom line is that creating one set of laws for one group of people, i.e. “Jews” and another one for “non-Jews”, makes it inherently impossible and therefore intellectually dishonest, to call it a democracy (click here to read more about, Israel’s illusionary democracy/system). In fact, the term ‘apartheid’ comes from apart or separate – as in laws, i.e. as was in the case of apartheid South Africa, which is why so many have come to use the term to describe Israel’s system.

Since zionists can’t silence it, they will do what they do best and appropriate it, then lie about its origins. Incidentally, that’s why there are strict guidelines against “normalization“. When this films gets recognized for its amazing work -at great personal risk to the film makers, the struggle of people of the village of Bil’in and all of Palestine – it is no doubt a victory. But the question is, who ultimately gains the most… on the back of Palestinians…yet Again…?!

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Cause to Celebrate or Will Zionists Appropriate?

WE MUST BE VIGILANT!! SUGGESTIONS TO PLEASE HELP SPREAD THE WORD about this legendary Palestinian film of nonviolent resistance that so many have sacrificed, with their bodies and their lives for. 

1) ANY TIME YOU SEE OR HEAR IT CALLED AN ISRAELI FILM, PLEASE REPORT IT HERE

2) POST COMMENTS ON ANY MEDIA REPORTING ON THE FILM, AS PALESTINIAN! Let this film be for the purpose it was meant – to educate, and to raise our voice and just struggle to the world, and bring us one step closer to ending the cultural, and all appropriation of the Palestinian people and cause for freedom and justice, ONCE AND FOR ALL!

3) WRITE YOUR OWN BLOGPOST AND/OR OP-ED ALERTING READERS TO THIS ISSUE AND ASK THEM TO SHARE, THEN DO SUGGESTIONS 1 & 2

THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT!!! AND FOLLOW #BABALSHAMS TO READ ABOUT THE LATEST PALESTINIAN NONVIOLENT RESISTANCE AGAINST SETTLEMENTS & LAND THEFT..

1) Huffington Post – ‘The Gatekeepers,’ ’5 Broken Cameras’: Israeli Documentaries Shortlisted For Oscar” – By Daniel Estrin 01/03/13http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/03/the-gatekeepers-5-broken-cameras_n_2404714.html

Israeli Illusionary Democracy: Beyond Apartheid

By Noura Khouri – Article from 2007

The saying that occupation exists best in the dark explains one reason for the controversy surrounding the use of the term Apartheid to describe the Israeli system. It also explains why what is a clear and simple fact to those intimately acquainted with the reality on the ground has caused so much confusion or strife among those who are not.

Generally speaking, there are three sides to the debate about the use of the term to describe Israel’s political system and its comparison with South African Apartheid. Staunch Zionist defenders are completely against the use of the term, charging it as ‘anti-Semitic’, with no thoughtful discussion of the issues. By dismissing the criticism as a personal attack, they fail to account for the basic facts and reality on the ground and reveal their limitations in understanding or wanting to know the severe injustices, committed in their name. Then there are activists, academic and legal experts who support the use of the term.

As a matter of convenience, they borrow the term from the oppressive South African regime, which most people know to be reprehensible, in order to strengthen the Palestinian case. They argue that although the term may not be entirely representative of the situation – the underlying racism and discrimination are the same. They would add that, due to the advances made in South Africa in ending oppression, it is useful to leverage the parallels and draw on the successes of the anti-Apartheid movement, as a means for building the boycott-Israel campaign. Finally, even amongst Palestinians and solidarity activists, there are internal disagreements about the use of the term. Critics say, that because the term “Apartheid” is borrowed from South Africa, it fails to portray the complexity of the Israeli system and in fact, causes more confusion rather than understanding.

Most well intentioned people however, would agree that the only way to end the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict is to first engage in honest analysis of the situation. Still, generalities are made, distinctions are muddled and people with the best of intentions are often left alone to interpret meanings, or worse, completely confused by the insidious details of the system at work.

Jimmy Carter’s well intended book titled, Palestine Peace Not Apartheid, is an example which in fact feeds into these misconceptions. He asserts that Apartheid is found in the West Bank and Gaza Strip but ignores the regime existing inside Israel, thereby implying that the situation there is fine. Yet, inside Israel the comparison with Apartheid is more accurate; the case can be made from the basic laws alone, and the result is cultural genocide(1) of the Palestinian identity within Israel.

The system of domination and militarized control of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip is actually, more accurately described as one on the path of ethnocide.(2) Although the means of the Zionist settler project may vary within Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory (OPT), the goals are the same and should be analyzed as such: its demographic objectives and colonization of all of historic Palestine (“Eretz” Israel) translate into the dispossession and transfer of Palestinians.

Still, Zionist leaders know that to the outside world they must walk the fine line and uphold the appearance of a democracy while maintaining the Jewish state. As both Israel and the Palestinian people are extremely dependent – economically, politically and in the realm of public relations – the conflict ultimately becomes a war of public opinion. Perhaps this is why Israel’s main success lies in its public relations campaign. Indeed, over the years, Zionist leaders have engaged in the world’s most brilliant and cunning PR campaign. Adding to the complexity, confusion and profound misunderstanding of the state of Israel is perhaps the fact that Israel is one of the most multi-cultural places on earth. In South Africa racist practice was identified much more easily; it manifested itself in separate laws for “Whites”, and “non-Whites” based on the color of one’s skin. In Israel, you are either a Jew, whether religious or not (which makes it a matter of race), or a non-Jew.

For Israel, as was for the Apartheid South Africa, the goals are/were colonial and imperialistic in nature. However, in former South Africa, the system of control and separation was designed to expropriate the valuable natural resources for the ruling minority through oppression of the natives, who did not enjoy the right to vote. Whites there were the extreme minority; they therefore realized the impossibility of upholding even a fallacy of a democracy, and laws were made and upheld by and for the ruling class. The Palestinian populations of the OPT and Israel will soon surpass the number of Jews. Hence, the question of how to achieve and maintain the demographic majority of Jews in Palestine has become the single most important obsession of Israel’s leaders. The fact that Palestinians in Israel are allowed to vote adds to the confusion and the illusion of democracy. Moreover, the basic laws in Israel, and countless military orders in the OPT, which exclude Palestinians are so deeply embedded in the fabric of Israeli Apartheid, that they are seldom questioned in a systematic manner.

As a result, the point which begs understanding – although obvious to Palestinians, anti-Zionist Jews and other scholars – is that Israel as a state ‘for Jews’ leads directly to the oppression and subjugation of Palestinians. Herein lies the inherent racism against Palestinians on both sides of the ‘Green Line’: either we come to terms with Jewish superiority and Israel’s “right to exist” as it is as “Greater Israel,” or we cannot ‘coexist’ at all. The implication is that it is naïve, unrealistic, perhaps ideal but definitely impossible, to live as equals on this land, if Israel continues to be allowed to define itself exclusively as a Jewish state. This message advanced clearly by representatives of Palestinians in Israel in their “Future Vision of Palestinian Arabs in Israel:”

Defining the Israeli State as a Jewish State and exploiting democracy in the service of its Jewishness excludes us, and creates tension between us and the nature and essence of the State. Therefore, we call for a Consensual Democratic system that enables us to be fully active in the decision –making process and guarantee our individual and collective civil, historic, and national rights.(3)

Israeli ‘Democracy’: The Formula for Dispossession

Since the inception of the state, the basis of Zionist ideology and Apartheid has been manifest in Israel’s Law of Return of 1950, which states that any Jew in the world, spanning three generations, is allowed to ‘return’ to the ‘promised land’ of over 2000 years ago. This stands in stark contrast to the laws for Palestinians who are forbidden to return to their own homes of just 60 years ago. This law alone, makes it impossible to construct, much less uphold, a democratic system. Such discrimination contradicts every democratic principle and the otherwise universally recognized right of 6 million 1948 Palestinian refugees, who are entitled to Israeli nationality based on the right of return and the law of state succession.

Since 1950, the Absentee Property Law has ensured that the new immigrant settlers find a comfortable home in the properties belonging to those who fled or were forced to leave because of Zionist terrorism during the 1948 War. The same law was later applied to Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip after the 1967 war. Property rights were transferred to the Custodian of Absentee Property without compensation and effective appeal. In the OPT the seized land has been used predominately for military bases, Jewish-only bypass roads, and settlements. So-called “state land” also allows for the Apartheid “roads and tunnels plan”. Israel is currently in the process of completing 24 tunnels for Palestinians to drive through and connect with their Palestinian prison-islands, and paving the 56 settler-only Apartheid roads for Jews only to travel on!(4)

In order to prevent additional Palestinians from becoming Israeli citizens, against international law, on 14 May 2006, the Supreme Court of Israel, issued a decision to uphold the racist Nationality and Entry into Israel Law of 2003, which violates the right of Israeli citizens to family reunification with their Palestinian spouses from the OPT.

These laws combined with countless supplemental policies result in the cleansing of Palestinians and the population of the land with Zionist settlers. The suffering of Palestinian residents of Jerusalem has reached tragic proportions; while illegally annexed to Israel, they are considered “permanent residents” whose residency permits can be taken away if they go abroad for more than 7 years. Jews may have dual citizenship, but a non-Jewish Jerusalemite loses residency if acquiring additional citizenship. Palestinian communities in East Jerusalem are enduring the same systematic process as those in the rest of the West Bank as the Wall leads to house demolitions, property confiscation, forced displacement, isolation and denial of access to social services. Such practices found in Jerusalem, can also be seen from the Galilee to the Naqab and the Jordan Valley. It all adds up into one bigger picture, and the larger context, its analysis and the recipe become clear to see.

It is time to define our own terms and claim our rights, in practice and as enshrined in human rights conventions and international law. In addition to the concept of Apartheid, it is critical we challenge the acquiescence to cultural genocide and ethnocide, in part and in full.

Noura Khouri is a Palestinian American activist who has written on the situation in the occupied Palestinian territories. This is a shortened and edited version of a longer article which can be found in full at: http://palestinehumanrights.blogspot.com/

Endnotes:

(1) Article 7 of the “United Nations draft declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples” defines Cultural genocide as (a) Any action which has the aim or effect of depriving them of their integrity as distinct peoples, or of their cultural values or ethnic identities; (b) Any action which has the aim or effect of dispossessing them of their lands, territories or resources; (c) Any form of population transfer which has the aim or effect of violating or undermining any of their rights; (d) Any form of assimilation or integration by other cultures or ways of life imposed on them by legislative, administrative or otherwise.

(2) Raphael Lemkin, the linguist and lawyer coined the term genocide as “the union of the Greek word genos (race, tribe) and the Latin cide (killing), used ethnocide as an alternative form representing the same concept, using the Greek ethnos (nation) in place of genos.” The broader definition of ethnocide may be useful in addressing perceived shortcomings and restrictions of genocide law and in identifying cultural destruction when it occurs by less violent and less visible means (All Experts Online Encyclopedia: http://en.allexperts.com/e/r/ra/raphael_lemkin.htm)

(3) The National Committee for the Heads of the Arab Local Authorities in Israel, of the Palestinian Arabs in Israel presented titled, A Manifesto for the “Future Vision of Palestinian Arabs in Israel”.

(4) Negotiations Support Unit Website –

http://www.nad-plo.org/inner.php?view=palisraeli_Roads_faq%20roadfinal