Tag Archives: genocide

The Crime of Playing Football on a Beach in Gaza

gaza children beachIt is virtually impossible to erase the image of four Palestinian boys lying dead on a beach in Gaza.  Their mangled bodies, one moment full of the vigor and the optimistic energy of youth, the next laying motionless on the hot sand.  In the midst of the horror of Israel’s inhuman assault on a captive population of 1.7 million people with no army, no air force, no navy, and no means of escaping a densely populated gulag, four boys played football and graced this misery with the normality of human inertia.  But that was all shattered by an Israeli shell.

Israel is usually quick in justifying virtually every crime it commits.  Regurgitating the same stale line that Hamas is using civilians as human shields, it repeatedly gets a free pass for brutality and murder in both the press and from the US government.  The human rights organization Amnesty International completed an exhaustive review of these claims after Israel’s assault on Gaza in 2009 (see below).  They found no evidence of Hamas using any civilian as a human shield.  They did, however, find that the Israeli military used Palestinians as human shields on several occasions.

But like the murder of Mohammed Abu Khdeir, the Palestinian boy who was kidnapped, tortured and burned alive by Jewish extremists, this crime too will likely be submerged in the morass of propaganda that surrounds every news story that comes out of the region.The mainstream media is expert at burying these kind of stories, like ignoring or downplaying the angry Israeli lynch mobs marching through the streets of Jerusalem chanting “death to Arabs, death to leftists,” and attacking any one who appeared to be a Palestinian or an Israeli peace activist.  And sure enough they are doing the same here.  Quick as lightening, one of the journalists who witnessed the carnage first hand, Ayman Mohyeldin of NBC News, was removed from his post after he reported accurately about the massacre.  He witnessed it, after all.  Regardless of this, he has been replaced with a reporter far more friendlier to the Israeli establishment, Richard Engel, who was in Tel Aviv at the time of the attack, over 70 kilometers away.

Mohyeldin told us their names; Ahed Atef Bakr 10 yrs old, Zakaria Ahed Bakr 10 yrs old, Mohamed Ramez Bakr 11 yrs old, and Ismael Mohamed Bakr 9 yrs old.  He showed us their parents anguish.  He humanized a people who have been consistently dehumanized for decades by a colonial, apartheid regime.  And now he has been removed because of it.

The brutal murder of three Israeli settler teens in the West Bank was plastered on every headline around the world and received condemnations from every world leader.  The murder of Mohammed Abu Khdeir, 18 members of one family, at least three disabled women, dozens of children, and the four boys on a beach in Gaza, barely register in the mainstream press.  All of these deaths should be mourned and condemned, but to the elite of the world, Palestinian lives are treated as less valuable and a mere consequence of a “complicated situation.”

But it really isn’t that complicated.  Four boys are dead for the crime of playing football on a beach in Gaza on a warm summer day.  And to their parents, as it would be for anyone, an entire world of hope and promise has been destroyed in a split second of utter barbarity.

Kenn Orphan  2014

Note:  I have decided not to post the photos of the massacre in deference to their families.
(Photo: boys playing football on Gaza beach/China Daily)


A Perfect Storm

David Barton  Source Right Wing WatchAbout a week ago pseudo-historian, David Barton, told the hosts of TBN’s “Praise the Lord” show that if the US did not support Israel God would afflict it with “extreme weather, droughts, productivity declines, and agricultural disasters.”  Many have become familiar with these inane decrees.  Storms and droughts are routinely blamed on the gay community or because of women’s reproductive freedom by religious extremists.  But with Israel’s recent murderous assault on Gaza, the specter of Christian Zionism is again asserting itself in American foreign and domestic policy.
Gaza City Photo AFPUnlike the nationalistic, and largely secular, form of Zionism that formed in the late 19th century in Europe, modern Christian Zionism is primarily an American phenomenon.  It gained prominence from the publication of the Scofield Reference Bible, an annotated version of scripture written by Cyrus I. Scofield.  He was an American preacher in the early 20th century, with a checkered past and dubious claims of being a theologian.
Cyrus I. ScofieldScofield’s rather peculiar brand of eschatology, or the fate of humanity, insists that the Jewish people “reclaim” Palestine.  The fact that most Jews have never been to Palestine and have no ancestral links to the land outside of religious texts, and that such a reclamation would displace millions of people already living there, are considered logistical problems, not ethical ones.  And even though Islam’s third holiest site sits on top of the Temple Mount, and has since the 7th century, it proposes the re-building of the Temple of Solomon.  In an attempt to obscure the antisemitism that belies its public face, Christian Zionism generally avoids addressing one part of this interpretation.  According to its doctrine, in the end scores of Jews will ultimately reject Jesus as the messiah when he returns, and be eternally damned as a result.  Unsurprisingly, this is not a talking point at conferences with Israeli heads of state.

The Rapture.  Source: Theological GraffitiIn their lust for Armageddon, Christian Zionists are pouring petrol on the tinderbox of modern geopolitics.  This is evident in their fervor to attack Iran and crush any prospects for peace.  They are galvanized by an unshakeable belief that we are living in the “end times” and that turmoil is unavoidable.  Ironically, due to human caused climate change and the ever persistent menace of nuclear war, humanity may very well be looking at its demise.  But to the Christian Zionist, bringing about an end in fire is not only inevitable, it is necessary to ensure the fulfillment of prophecy.

This is the primary reason Israel is so important.  It is why various evangelical foundations have been set up in the US to fund illegal, Jewish-only settlements in the occupied West Bank.  It is why mission trips are arranged to these settlements to harvest grapes with colonists on the land they have stolen from Palestinians.  It emboldens hardline hawks in Tel Aviv to entrench apartheid and military occupation even more, while marginalizing the earnest efforts of Israeli and Palestinian peace activists.  And it is what has allowed them to dehumanize and ignore the plight of the Palestinians, and justify nearly every crime the Israeli regime has inflicted on them for decades.
John HageeBombastic minister and head of CUFI (Christians United for Israel), John Hagee, and television evangelist and head of  “The 700 Club” Pat Robertson, are emblematic of this movement, and they enjoy huge followings.  But perhaps most troubling is the connection and influence they have on foreign policy.  They have the support of the biggest, pro-Israel lobby in Washington, AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee), and virtually every politician is loath to defy them.

Climate change plays an ominous role in all of this.  As it accelerates and worsens it emboldens fear mongering, denial, and scapegoating.   To the Christian Zionist, these events are punishments for the sin of opposing the Israeli regime.  And certain, out of historical context, scriptures, like Numbers 24:9 which says “Whoever blesses Israel will be blessed, and whoever curses Israel will be cursed,” are employed to drive this notion home to the faithful.  Science is simply not recognized in this equation because it does not match their scriptural exegesis. If it does not fit this religious narrative it is dismissed in explaining the erratic weather patterns, persistent droughts and rising sea levels that we are witnessing today.
Christian Zionism  Source Foreign PolicyChristian Zionism is an aggressive form of extremism that broadly effects ideology and policy in the American political establishment. It is certainly not a monolithic group of people and it does not represent all of Christendom; but the power of its leaders is both undeniable and menacing.  Movements like this are often derided and marginalized in times of calm.  But in times of upheaval, which are becoming more frequent, they have an astonishing way of taking center stage and influencing world events.  As the West negotiates with Iran in an attempt to avert a war with a nuclear armed Israel, global weather patterns are simultaneously becoming angrier due to our burning of fossil fuels.  And this is creating a perfect storm that may inadvertently guarantee that its most destructive prophecies are indeed fulfilled.

Kenn Orphan  2014

The Slow Genocide in West Papua

Papua Solidarity“The first time it was reported that our friends were being butchered there was a cry of horror. Then a hundred were butchered. But when a thousand were butchered and there was no end to the butchery, a blanket of silence spread.
When evil-doing comes like falling rain, nobody calls out “stop!”
When crimes begin to pile up they become invisible. When sufferings become unendurable the cries are no longer heard. The cries, too, fall like rain in summer.” – Bertolt Brecht

The second largest island in the world after Greenland, New Guinea is considered rich in natural resources, including copper, gold and timber.  It is often called the other “lungs of the planet”, after the Amazon, because of its rich biodiveristy and dense rainforest.  But that reputation is fast fading as it is rapaciously plundered by multinational corporations from Australia, the US and Europe with the assistance of their client state, Indonesia.  And along with environmental devastation, a slow genocide is sweeping West Papua.


The Indonesian government has a long history of playing henchman for the west in that region of the world.  It has proved itself worthy of this distinction after committing atrocities on its own people.  It is estimated that somewhere between 500,000 to 1 million Indonesians were murdered in the American backed genocide of 1965-66 that installed the brutal Suharto dictatorship.

Freeport Mine in Papua  Source Getty Images

Indonesia annexed West New Guinea in 1969, following the exit of the Dutch colonists, with the support and backing of the west and a subservient United Nations.  Since then the Indonesian military, with direct support from the Australian government, has raped, tortured and massacred upwards of 100,000 to 500,000 Papuans , while ethnically cleansing them from their land with Indonesian settlements.  Harrowing and gruesome videos and images have made their way into social media that show the brute violence and cruelty being meted out by the army on civilians.  The reason that it can get away with this heinous slaughter is a story told many times the world over.  But unlike other cases, this one has been obscured and hushed in the mainstream media.  One can only guess that it is because of the special relationship Indonesia enjoys with the west or, more accurately, western corporations.
Mass Grave in Papua

Meanwhile the situation in West Papua grows more urgent.  When Indonesia crushed and massacred the East Timorese for nearly 25 years, with the backing of the US government and go ahead from Henry Kissinger, the media  turned its head away.  People of conscience cannot allow them to do the same to the Papuans.  If they do, it is up to us to do their job.

Kenn Orphan  2014

(Photo is of the Indonesian army’s assault on a meeting of the West Papau congress.  It is from a leaked video that shows Indonesian soldiers brutally beating peaceful attendees and forcing them to crawl.  It is courtesy of the AFP)

Suffering in the Congo: the High Price of Technology

congo-2In all likelihood, the Smartphone that many Westerners carry around all day, checking messages, taking ‘selfies’ and downloading apps, was manufactured with minerals extracted from a nation decimated by genocide and imperialistic plunder.  Much of the cobalt and tantalum used in the electronics industry is harvested from central Africa, and mainly from one former Belgian colony.

Beginning with the murderous, genocidal King Leopold II of Belgium, who was responsible for the murder of nearly 10 million people in the 19th century, and leading up to the US corporate raiders of this century, the Democratic Republic of the Congo has been continually robbed of its rich human and natural resources.  In 1961 the Belgian capitalist elite and the CIA backed the assassination of democratically elected president Patrice Lumumba.  This set in motion the turmoil and suffering the people of the Congo now live with today.  Lumumba, like countless other leaders around the world, was disposed of by the Western hegemony because of his gall to defend his own people against foreign robber barons.  Ignored by a subservient United Nations, the new junta government murdered Lumumba by firing squad.

The US and Belgium, along with most of the West, then installed the murderous dictatorship of Mobutu Sese Seko.  Despite his looting the country of billions of dollars and committing brutal and heinous human rights violations, Seko, enjoyed a close friendship with several US presidents and was honored at the White House by Ronald Reagan several times.  Following his exile, the DRC was plunged into mayhem for over a decade.  And it is estimated that 6 to 10 million Congolese have been killed in what can only be termed as genocide.

Slavery, land grabs and violence have decimated this beautiful land with seemingly no end in sight.  The systematic rape, mutilation and torture of women and children has been used to demoralize and dehumanize millions of Congolese, while the mainstream media generally ignores their plight and world leaders mostly look on with apathy.  And today this travesty continues chiefly by the support of US foreign policy which lends aid to its rival nations, Rwanda and Uganda, as its presidents, Paul Kagame and Yoweri Musuveni, strip it clean of its natural resources for Western corporate interests.

It is in this way more than any other that Western colonialism never ended in Africa.  It continues through the vehicle of free trade and globalization, which mask the ugliest facets of neoliberalist policies.  And it continues through the blind exploitation of resources for the sake of Western technology and insatiable consumerism.  The Congolese have no agency while such powers are permitted to plunder for profit.  And the carnage will only grow beyond what is arguably the biggest genocide the world has seen since World War II.

Kenn Orphan  2014

(Photo: REUTERS/Finbarr O’Reilly)

*For more information on this issue I highly suggest reading the fine journalistic work of Andre Vltchek.

Genocide in Full View

Rohingya Refugees Source The Guardian“One of the world’s most persecuted minorities,” as the UN puts it, is being systematically murdered by a state that has been lauded for its acceptance of Western economic models, and for opening up to foreign investors. The country is Myanmar and the people being systematically murdered and ethnically cleansed are the Rohingya.
Genocide of Rohingya Myanmar Source Nafeez Ahmed
For many years the Rohingya Muslims of Southeast Asia have been brutalized, enslaved and denied citizenship in the nations they have been in for centuries.  Many have been forced to flee for their lives to Bangladesh, India or Thailand, only to be turned away and sent back to face persecution and oppression.  Today, their very existence is being threatened by powerful reactionary forces and the indifference of the world.

Extremist Buddhist factions backed and aided by the ruling military junta have launched violent attacks on villages, burning them to the ground, sometimes with the inhabitants still in them.  Rape and torture are frequently employed tactics by these armed death squads that terrorize the Rohingya in an effort to ethnically cleanse the land.  All the while the government of Myanmar, with the silent complicity of Nobel Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi, has continued a steely silence in the face of their plight.

They all bear direct responsibility for these atrocities, as does the international elite who has been eyeing Myanmar for exploitation of its vast resources for some time.  The Rohingya are an inconvenience to them since they stand in the way of enormous profit.  Those who have survived the scorched earth policies of the junta often end up in squalid refugee camps scarred, broken and forgotten.  Others have been forced out to sea on shabby boats turned away by country after country.
Rohingya Refugees Face Health Crisis As Myanmar

This slow genocide has been happening for years, but the US media has barely taken notice. Perhaps it is because they happen to be Muslim or because Myanmar is fast becoming the latest client state of the global capitalist economic order.  The response of the international community might provide an answer to those questions.

The International Monetary Fund, an enduring bastion of colonial era thieves, has recently demanded reforms of the Myanmar government.  But not for these crime against humanity.  On the contrary.  The reforms demanded are for the country’s financial institutions and they are designed to extract even more profit for the global elite from this resource rich country.

A Rohingya man pleads with authorities as families try to shelter on a typical boat used by migrants to escape the Bangladesh Myanmar border area Source Bangkok Post

The genocide of the Rohingya people is one of the biggest catastrophes of our modern age.  Their plight is synonymous with every other struggle against oppression and brutality.  And the deafening silence of the world to their misery will not ever be forgotten.  When we see them we should very well see ourselves.  Because like the Rohingya we all stand in the way of the profit of the few and powerful.  Their struggle is in every way our own.


Kenn Orphan  2014