talk of Sharon Black Ceci*, International Action Center, U.S.A. at the Anti-imperialist Camp
*Sharon Ceci is the Maryland/Washington D.C. regional coordinator for the International Action Center. The IAC responded immediately to U.S. pentagon war plans following the September 11th events by organizing a national protest in Washington D.C. on September 29, 2002. It has since then organized against Bush`s endless war and against domestic repression.
Ceci traveled with Ramsey Clark, a founding member of the International Action Center, along with a hundred other U.S. delegates to Iraq to deliver badly needed medical supplies and to challenge the blockade and sanctions against Iraq. She traveled to Iraq to observe first hand the conditions caused by U.S. sanctions and to report back to communities in the United States.
She was recently part of a fact finding delegation that traveled to southern Korea with the Korea Truth Commission in July of 2001 to investigate U.S. war crimes during the Korean war and more recently by the United States military.
Ceci is a founding member of the All Peoples Congress, a community group in Baltimore, Maryland which has fought utility shutoffs and price hikes. She along with other community members was jailed for her opposition to utility shutoffs. The group has also been vocal in opposing police killings.
As a 20 year long trade unionist, she served as an elected chief steward in a food processing plant and is presently representing nurses as a steward for United Food and Commercial Workers Union. On July 27, 2002 Ceci helped to organize a "Labor for Reparations" Rally of trade unionists and community activists to support the demand for reparations for the victims of the trans-Atlantic slave trade.
On behalf of the International Action Center, I would like to extend our greetings of solidarity to all who have gathered at the "Anti-Imperialist Camp 2002". We have come to learn about the many important and critical struggles that are happening around the globe and also to share solidarity with our comrades and friends in Italy and throughout the world.
We who live in the belly of the beast are faced with a special challenge in this period: organize opposition to U.S. imperialism´s immediate war plans against Iraq and to the "endless war" that the Bush administration has launched against the world´s people; counter the right wing´s continuing plan for domestic repression; and respond to the escalating attacks on workers and the poor in the U.S. especially given the failures of capitalism reflected in the fluctuating stock market crisis.
We in the United States must find a way of linking these struggles together to build a movement that can STOP THE U.S. WAR DRIVE and ultimately defeat U.S. imperialism for good.
RESISTANCE IN THE UNITED STATES--RECORD OF STRUGGLE
There is resistance in the United States despite the monolithic picture portrayed by the U.S. media that everyone in our country supports the war drive.
In the face of massive war threats and the jailing of thousands of innocent people mostly of Arab and South Asian descent and threats against civil liberties and civil rights, the International Action Center called for a national protest on September 29th against war and racism.
Sections of the progressive movement were opposed to calling for protests. They felt it was too soon after the deaths of so many civilians and that we would be small and isolated.
But the International Action Center felt it was critical to respond not only to show the Pentagon generals that there was opposition and to build our movement but also to show our solidarity for the people around the world…—especially those who would become the targets of the U.S. military.
On September 29th, the IAC launched a broad coalition of over 500 groups…—student, civil rights, labor and anti-war organizations joined. Over 25,000 people marched in the nation´s Capitol. On that day a total of over 40,000 people marched nationwide.
We helped launch the International A.N.S.W.E.R. coalition, Act Now to Stop War and End Racism. 15,000 more demonstrated in San Francisco and thousands more in Los Angeles, Denver, Colorado, Chicago and Houston.
On this momentum, national days of protest were called on October 27. And on October 7, when the U.S. bombing of Afghanistan began thousands poured into the streets in hundreds of cities across the United States.
On April 20th, 2002, the A.N.S.W.E.R. coalition turned it´s national protest against war and racism into a battle cry for a FREE PALESTINE when this critical struggle became the center of world attention as the Palestinian people resisted increased U.S./Israeli war and occupation.
The April 20th protest was historic! Over 100,000 people protested in the largest march in support of Palestinian self-determination in U.S. history.
There is much to discuss about our movement to stop the U.S. war drive and I am sure that there will be time to exchange information with our friends and comrades at the Camp.
RACIST WAR INSIDE THE UNITED STATES AGAINST IMMIGRANT WORKERS
AND THE U.S. PATRIOT ACT
There is a racist war going on inside the United States against immigrant workers…—especially targeting people of Arab and South Asian descent and those who are Moslems. The fact is that you cannot wage war without racism…—without demonizing the victims.
Since September 11, 2001, thousands of people of Middle Eastern descent are rotting in jail. They have been stripped of all of their rights. In fact, there has never been a full public accounting of where prisoners are being kept.
Under the cover of war hysteria…—Attorney General Ashcroft has passed the "Patriot Act" which allows broad police state powers…—widespread wiretapping and surveillance of practically everyone.
On the campuses students of Arab and South Asian descent are being targeted along with students who speak out against the war.
In response, youth organizers of ANSWER have initiated a campaign of non-compliance in response to the FBI´s repressive policies. Days after September 11th, the FBI had requested names and confidential records that are now being seized under Ashcroft´s "Patriot Act."
AFGHANISTAN POW´S SUBJECTED TO TORTURE CONDITIONS
The international community has watched with horror the treatment of Afghanistan POW´s by the U.S. military. The U.S. in violation of all international law shackled, hooded, blindfolded, drugged, immobilized prisoner´s arms and mouths with tape…—all to be herded into military planes and transported in this condition for a 27-hour flight.
On arrival at the Guantanamo military base that the Pentagon had arrogantly imposed on Cuban soil, these hapless and helpless prisoners were dragged into exposed, 6 by 8 foot chain link cages that would be condemned by dog owners if there pets were confined there for any length of time.
Such are the acts of the U.S. military machine!
DOMESTIC REPRESSION…—MOBILIZING THE PEOPLE IS THE ANSWER
War abroad and repression at home go hand and hand.
Immediately following the events of September 11, the Bush administration was able to enact what is referred to as the "Patriot Act". This is a 342-word document attacks domestic civil and constitutional rights.
In the name of "security" the act increases the powers of the executive branch of government, gives sweeping abilities to all law enforcement agencies to gather information on everyone by any means without requiring probable cause, and threatens to arrest of anyone who has relations with so called "terrorist groups" which refers to any country or organization that resists or opposes U.S. imperialism. It also allows for unconstitutional arrests and detentions in general.
This type of domestic repression is not new.
In the 60´s the FBI carried out COINTELPRO, which targeted the civil rights and the anti-war movement and conducted a war of terror against the Black liberation movement in the United States. This war of terror included the false imprisonment and murder of members of the Black Panther Party.
At every juncture in U.S. history right wing elements within the United States establishment have looked for ways of eroding people´s rights whether it is civil or constitutional rights or workers rights.
The only antidote historically has been mobilizing the masses of people in opposition.
At the June 1, 2002 conference of A.N.S.W.E.R. in New York City, over 600 participants voted unanimously to call for protests in front of FBI headquarters in a variety of cities. Washington D.C.´s FBI headquarters and the Justice Department were the major targets on the East Coast. Protesters marched through the streets despite police attempts to stop the group at various points in our route.
We in the United States have an important task ahead not only in defying and organizing opposition to stop domestic repression but in stopping the U.S.´s impending war in the Middle East and Iraq and it´s attempts to enforce it´s imperialist will on the world.
The International Action Center is determined to do everything within its power to take on this task.
THERE ARE TWO UNITED STATES
There are two United States…—one composed of the billion dollar bankers and bosses who run everything and who live off the misery of the vast majority through domination and exploitation of the world.
And there is another United States. It is one that is not portrayed in the press frequently. It is the thousands of poor and workers who are beginning not only to feel the lash of the war on their own backs as funding for the U.S. war machine sucks in every meager program of social services left…—but who are also beginning to feel the pain of the collapsing capitalist market with the loss of pensions and jobs.
One out of every eleven people locked in a prison on this planet is in a U.S. jail testifying to the terrible repression existing within U.S. society. One out of every 11 African American men between the ages of 25 and 29 are incarcerated testifying to the horrific racism that continues in the U.S. today.
The United States is a prison house of nations. Within the borders of the United States, Black, Brown, Red and Yellow people are subjected to colonial oppression. These are the very workers who toil in the factories and fields; who do the domestic work and put together computer components, whose labor keeps the system going.
U.S. workers in general, are facing loss of jobs; utility shut offs, deaths from heat and cold, mortgage foreclosures and homelessness.
This is what the capitalism does following a boom cycle. The capitalists have become so successful at making their workforce produce more goods in less time…—and this now happens on a global scale…—that they are suddenly faced with over-production and with a collapse of the market.
War is the answer they give to the workers.
But it is a dead end.
For the most part the workers and youth of the United States have been spared the horrors of war. But September 11th has forced many people in the United States to examine the issues behind the events. How did the U.S. become so hated?
They are beginning to learn that what we saw and experienced was not that much different than what the children of Palestine experience everyday in the West Bank…—only their experience is far worse.
It is what the Iraqi people endured when the U.S. launched it´s so called precision bombing raids which lobbed missiles into unarmed civilian air raid shelters in Iraq.
We are confident that while we may not have the big bombs and the fighter jets…—ultimately we have the power of the people who have nothing to gain by the Pentagon´s imperialist wars.
It is the solidarity of those gathered here in this Camp that can defeat U.S. imperialism once and for all.
Say no to the U.S. Pentagon. Say no to NATO! Let´s work together to build a world free of bombs and misery…—free of hunger and want…—free of plundering and raping the environment…—
free of exploitation and racism. Let´s build a world where all people can live in dignity and harmony.
FREE THE WORLD´S PEOPLE!
STOP THE U.S. WAR AGAINST IRAQ!
DOWN WITH U.S. IMPERIALISM!
Source: Paper presented by: Sharon Ceci, Baltimore/Washington DC coordinator IAC U.S.A.