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Phony “terror” charges threaten free speech in the international anti-war movement

17. August 2005

by Guerry Hoddersen, for the Freedom Socialist Party Secretariat

August 15, 2005

Pro-war members of Congress are up in arms over an upcoming Italian anti-war conference entitled “Leave Iraq in Peace…—support the legitimate resistance of the Iraqi people.” The event is being organized by the Anti-Imperialist Camp, a coalition of radical organizations in Europe.

These lawmakers have prevailed upon the Italian government to withdraw visas for speakers at the gathering and have unleashed a torrent of veiled threats to outlaw the Anti-Imperialist Camp for allegedly supporting terrorism.

This smear campaign against a European anti-war gathering threatens freedom of association and free speech in the global movement against the Iraq war. If the U.S. Department of Homeland Security can determine what are “legitimate” anti-war activities on every continent, there will be none at all. That is why it is important to defend the Anti-Imperialist Camp and the upcoming conference.

Background to the assault on freedom of association

On June 28, 44 Congress members wrote a letter to Sergio Vento, the Italian ambassador, expressing “concern” that “supporters of terrorist activity are planning to meet on Italian soil……to plan a campaign of financial aid for terrorism.” These luminaries are apoplectic that the Anti-Imperialist Camp launched a “10 Euros for the Iraqi Resistance” campaign in 2000. The slow-moving politicos just now unearthed this “terror plot” by reading stories in National Security Watch and

Since these stories were published in late June, the Anti-Imperialist Camp`s Internet hosting company in Utah closed down their web site (since reopened elsewhere); the Department of Homeland Security admitted that for over a year it had a secret court order requiring the web host to turn over records showing the Internet protocol address of every visitor to the Anti-Imperialist Camp web site; and the Italian police raided the home of Emanuele Fanesi, who held the bank account for the “10 Euros” campaign.

To top it all off, on August 2, the “10 Euros” campaign became the subject of two House subcommittees dealing with terrorism and finances when Rep. Sue Kelly, in a McCarthy-type ploy held up a poster depicting a U.S. soldier being shot in front of an Iraqi flag. She claimed the poster was part of the Camp`s fundraising efforts.

Willi Langthaler, spokesperson for the Camp, called Kelly`s poster claim “freely invented.” Kelly is Chair of the House Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee which held a joint session entitled “Who Pays the Iraqi Insurgents?” with the House Armed Services Terrorism, Unconventional Threats and Capabilities Subcommittee.

The “10 Euros” campaign: A political response to an unjust war

Millions of people all over the world acknowledge the right of the Iraqi people to resist the U.S. invasion and occupation. They say they would do the same if their country was attacked.

In Iraq, trade unionists, feminists, doctors, scholars, citizens who oppose privatization of Iraq`s natural resources and major industries, those who believe there can be no real democracy until the occupation ends–all consider themselves part of the Iraqi resistance. This is a political reality that U.S. policy makers are eager to deny by equating all resistance with terrorism.

According to Langthaler, the Camp initiated their “10 Euros” campaign (the equivalent of $12.36 U.S.) to demonstrate that there are “hundreds or even thousands of people who dare to give money for the resistance with their names, publicly and openly” as “political support.” Most of the money raised is still in an Italian bank account waiting for a political resistance front to be constituted.

In fact, no government agency can point to any of this money going for weapons. The campaign raised about $14,000 which was used to buy two tons of medicine for Al Anbar province. However, when asked to speculate on whether money raised would later be used for arms, a leader of the campaign said that was not his decision.

For this daring solidarity campaign with the Iraqi people, and for responding truthfully to a journalist`s question, the Camp has now become the subject of a witchhunt by hawks in Congress and the Department of Homeland Security.

The money raised by the Camp`s campaign is negligible compared to the “robust, diverse, and resilient set of funding” sources that experts say is available to the Iraqi resistance. Among these are former elements from Saddam Hussein`s regime, the Commercial Bank of Syria, and supporters in Jordan and Saudi Arabia.

If the experts were interested in truth not witchhunts, they might find that it is the policies of the U.S. in Iraq and throughout the Middle East that are generating material support for the Iraqi resistance. As one bumper sticker succinctly puts it, “The U.S. is creating enemies faster than it can kill them.”

“Leave Iraq in Peace” conference

If the Berlusconi government does not completely capitulate to U.S. hawks` demands, anti-war activists from Europe, the U.S. and the Middle East will gather on October 1 in Rome at the Anti-Imperialist Camp conference to openly support “the legitimate resistance of the Iraqi people.”

Speakers include Ben Bella, former President and Prime Minister of Algeria who was overthrown by a military coup in 1965, and Swedish author Jan Myrdal, son of Nobel Peace prize-winner and economist Gunnar Myrdal.

Among other luminaries addressing the gathering are: journalist Haluk Gerger of the Turkish Human Rights Association who was imprisoned under an anti-terror law for distributing literature; Awni al Kalemji of the Iraqi Patriotic Allilance, a leading figure in the opposition to Saddam Hussein`s regime; Sheikh Jawad al Khalesi, a leader of the Iraqi National Foundation Conference, who supported the boycott of the recent Iraqi elections, calling them a “farce;” Abdulhaleem Kandil, a representative of Kifaya (Enough) in Egypt, which opposes the state of emergency that has severely limited freedom of expression and association since 1981; Domenico Losurdo, Italian philosopher at Urbino University; and John
Catalinotto from the International Action Center.

This conference is an important political event and a statement of solidarity with the Iraqi people in the face of the most murderous imperialist assault since the Viet Nam war. That the Department of Homeland Security and rightwing members of Congress are anxious to smear its organizers and shut it down before it begins is evidence of the power of openly and frankly standing with the victims of imperialist militarism and “free market” piracy.

The right to resist and freedom of expression must be defended

The war in Iraq has become a pretext for an all-out assault on the right to freedom of speech and association, especially in Europe and the U.S. But the right to resist oppression, theft of national resources, occupation, destruction of one`s country…—this is a human right, even a human responsibility.

It follows that it is the responsibility of the international antiwar movement, but especially the U.S. antiwar movement, to defend the right to resist and the right to express support for those who fight back against the unjust military occupation of Iraq. In this fight we stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the Iraqis in demanding freedom of expression and association in our own countries.

A pretext for reviving McCathyism

In July, Ali Al-Timimi, a U.S. Muslim scholar, was sentenced to life in prison for treason for things he said, not for things he did. This unconstitutional conviction harkens back to the McCarthy era when U.S. revolutionaries in the Trotskyist movement were imprisoned for opposing U.S. entry into World War II and communists were hounded and jailed for membership in leftwing organizations.

The atmosphere of hysteria which was whipped up against communists and socialists, as well as divisions within the Left, permitted the McCarthyites to run roughshod over everyone`s civil liberties and ushered in more than a decade of reaction and two wars…—Korea and Viet Nam.

We must not let that happen again.

We demand:

Stop the witchhunt against the Anti-Imperialist Camp!
End U.S. military terror in Iraq! Bring U.S. troops home now!
Call off the occupations of Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine!
For a secular Iraq with full rights for women and national and sexual minorities!
Defend First Amendment rights and freedom of expression everywhere!
For the right to national self-determination!
No more blacklisting and criminalizing support for freedom struggles!

Freedom Socialist Party

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