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Two Thousand People March against Monsanto and Syngenta in Switzerland*

Two Thousand People March against Monsanto and Syngenta in Switzerland*

Peaceful demonstration in Basel calls for paradigm change in agriculture

 

In Basel, Switzerland, the home town of the chemicals giant Syngenta, the third March Against Monsanto and Syngenta was held on Saturday 20 May 2017. Two thousand people turned out to demonstrate against toxic pesticides, GMOs, and patents on seeds. They demanded an ecological and diverse agriculture which serves food security instead of profit.

The demonstration ended at the Syngenta headquarters and was accompanied by street artists, musicians, and children dressed as bees.

In front of the Syngenta headquarters, Fern Rosenstiel, an environmental scientist from Kauai, Hawaii, spoke about the use of highly toxic pesticides – pesticides that are banned in Switzerland – on Syngenta test fields in Hawaii. She said: “Syngenta must finally take responsibility for the health problems in Hawaii.”

Syngenta is currently caught up in legal battles over its farming of GM crops in Hawaii and is planning to sell its operations in the state.

This year the main focus of the protest was the increasing market power in the agrochemical industry. In addition to the planned acquisition of Syngenta by ChemChina and the merger of Dow and Dupont, Bayer plans to take over Monsanto. Altogether, the three companies would control over 60% of the commercial seed and pesticide market.

“Syngenta is now Chinese but that does not mean that our resistance against the business practice of Syngenta stops now,” said Ueli Gähler from Multiwatch.

“Today, we protest in solidarity with smallholders in China and the rest of the world.”

The march against Monsanto and Syngenta in Basel was supported by more than 50 organisations from Switzerland and Germany, including Basel unions, the Green Party, and environmental, agricultural and development organisations such as Greenpeace, Uniterre and SWISSAID.*

Zoë Roth from the event’s organising committee drew a positive conclusion:

“The high turnout at the March against Monsanto and Syngenta in Basel confirms the desire for ecological farming.”

* The complete list of supporting organisations and more information are available at: www.marchagainstsyngenta.ch

Source*

Related Topics:

The GMO Agenda is Planned Sterilization of Humanity*

For Reducing Male Fertility New Protection Bill for Monsanto*

GM Foods and Fertility

GMOs Are Mutating Microorganisms and Spawning Deadly New Life Forms‏

World Bank Aims to Hand over Seed Industry to Agribusiness*

Iraq’s Agricultural Industry was Pillaged, Its Farmers Devastated, But It’s Still Free of GMO Seeds*

Canada’s New Food Labels won’t Include GMO Info.*

Largest-Ever GMO Crops Study Shows Massive Environmental Damage in U.S.*

White House Resorts to Blackmail Over GMOs in NWOs TTIP Trade Negotiations*

Embedding Transnational Agribusiness and GMO’s into African Agriculture*

Mexican Supreme Court Refuses to Review Monsanto Appeal on GMO Maize Permits*

Monsanto + Syngenta Lobby Tanzanian Government to Pass Law Jailing Farmers who Exchange their Traditional Seeds*

U.K. Gov’t Has Colluded with Monsanto by Treating Wales as a Monsanto Toxic Dump*

Monsanto Was Put on Trial for Ecocide at the Hague*

The Strategy behind Washington’s Destabilization of Venezuela*

The Strategy behind Washington’s Destabilization of Venezuela*

Venezuela represents everything that the U.S. opposes in the region: socialism, anti-imperialism, economic independence via energy exports and a viable ally for China, Russia, Iran and other countries that oppose the hegemonic designs of Washington.

By Eric Draitser

An anti-government protester wields a shotgun taken from security forces during clashes in Caracas, Venezuela, May 8, 2017. (AP/Ariana Cubillos)

 

The corporate media continues to churn out endless stories detailing repression, state violence and socioeconomic collapse in Venezuela. Conspicuously absent from their stories, however, is the fact that much of the turmoil in the Bolivarian Republic is a result of an economic and psychological war being waged against the country by right-wing elements inside Venezuela and their backers in the United States.

Naturally, this charge has been dismissed out of hand by the imperial stenographers at the New York Times, Washington Post and The Economist, who continue to insist that there’s nothing at all nefarious going on in Venezuela aside from the “corrupt dictatorship” led by President Nicolas Maduro.  Of course, were there real journalists covering Venezuela, they’d make note of the fact that a campaign of economic and psychological war, targeted assassinations, and corporate intrigue have helped plunge the country into an existential crisis.

Rather predictably, none of those factors are incorporated into a well-rounded analysis of the situation in Venezuela; instead, it is sensationalist headlines and narrowly defined issues that grab the media spotlight. And perhaps no concept is more taboo within elite media circles than the strategic imperatives of the U.S.-led system of global political and economic hegemony that dominates the world. No, for the yellow journalists employed by the likes of Newscorp, Comcast and Amazon, Venezuela is just another wayward child in need of a stern rebuke and hand-holding back to the path of the good little oil colony.

Ultimately, the empire’s beef with Venezuela is two-fold. First, it is a country that has attempted to free itself of the architecture of neo-colonial domination that the U.S. and other global powers use to control the Global South.  Secondly, Venezuela represents everything that the U.S. opposes in the region: socialism, anti-imperialism, economic independence via energy exports and a viable ally for China, Russia, Iran and other countries that oppose the hegemonic designs of Washington.

Regime change is the ultimate objective in the destabilization of Venezuela, a bringing to heel of the rogue state in order to serve Washington’s global objectives. The U.S. thirsts for the reversal of the Bolivarian Revolution and the legacy of the late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

Target: Venezuela

A mural featuring an image of former Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez was defaced in the Bronx borough of New York, Tuesday, May 9, 2017. (AP/Seth Wenig)

 

There is a misconception spreading through the Beltway like an airborne virus, infectious in its obliviousness to reality: the idea that the administration of President Donald Trump is so bogged down by scandal and controversy that it cannot achieve any geopolitical and strategic objectives. In fact, the opposite is true. Like a cornered animal, Trump and his team are exceedingly dangerous, both in their unpredictability and, strangely enough, also in their predictability.

And when it comes to Venezuela, their strategy is transparent.

Oil reigns supreme in the minds of Trump, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and the rest of the administration. In the case of Venezuela, oil remains the lifeblood of its economy.  So in a very real sense, the White House and State Department’s interests converge with the economic imperatives of corporate America in the Bolivarian Republic.

Tillerson represents perhaps the perfect embodiment of U.S. government attitudes toward Venezuela. A slick oil man through and through, Tillerson has long sought to destabilize Venezuela in an attempt to reassert ExxonMobil’s supremacy in the country.

Venezuela’s recent rocky history begins with Chavez’s nationalization of the oil sector under the state oil company PDVSA in 2007. The Chavez government offered ExxonMobil book value for assets that it intended to assume control over, while the Tillerson-led company demanded market value, which they priced at roughly $15 billion.  Eventually, the World Bank’s arbitration court ordered Venezuela to pay $1.6 billion to ExxonMobil.

But ExxonMobil’s anger at Caracas was certainly not assuaged with that settlement agreement. In fact, the following decade saw ExxonMobil step up efforts to destabilize Venezuela’s socialist government using a variety of tactics.

None have been more potent than Venezuela’s border dispute with Guyana. At the heart of this border dispute is energy and the billions of dollars in profits likely to be extracted from the offshore territory. According to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), “The Guyana Suriname Basin [is] 2nd in the world for prospectivity among the world’s unexplored basins and 12th for oil among all the world’s basins – explored and unexplored.” The basin, which stretches from eastern Venezuela to the shores of northern Brazil, is one of the major prizes in the world for energy corporations and governments alike.

Indeed, the USGS estimates that roughly 15 billion barrels of undiscovered oil and 42 trillion cubic feet of gas reserves lie under the basin, just waiting to be extracted. Such staggering economic potential has made the territorial waters off Venezuela and Guyana highly sought after, especially since contesting border claims make legal obstacles to exploration far more surmountable, as they allow companies to deal with a compliant government in Georgetown, rather than an independent one in Caracas.

So it should come as no surprise that Tillerson and ExxonMobil have been backing the Guyanese government. Venezuelan officials say their support has included providing financial support to Guyanese President David Granger’s election campaign in 2015. Of course, ExxonMobil has denied these claims.  But the company cannot deny the fact that, as the Huffington Post reported:

“Under Secretary Clinton, the State Department set up a program called the Energy Governance and Capacity Initiative. The program aims to both promote fossil development and prevent the ‘resource curse’ by providing ‘independent oversight’ of the oil and gas industry in nascent oil states. The program is currently helping the Guyanese government write profit sharing agreements, environmental regulations, and develop a strong rule of law to counterbalance corporate power.”

An effigy representing Judas Iscariot, with a sign that labels it also as “Mr. Exxon”, referred to the Texas-based Exxon Mobil oil corporation, is burned during Holy Week in Caracas, March 23, 2008. (AP/Howard Yanes)

 

In other words, the U.S. State Department oversees the program that is literally writing the regulatory and financial architecture that will govern energy extraction in Guyana. And Tillerson, the former CEO for ExxonMobil, is the top official at the State Department. The conflict of interest is clear as day.

Indeed, ExxonMobil has effectively made Guyana into a subsidiary.  As the Washington Post noted:

“…countries such as Guyana that have no existing oil industry are considered ‘frontier’ locations, and typically offer the most lucrative terms to foreign companies willing to invest.  Guyana’s foreign partners stand to earn 60 to 65 percent of profits… a far larger share than what more established nations are willing to offer investors.”

Does anyone really believe that the State Department is not going to target Venezuela when it is led by a man who has fomented conflict with Venezuela, is raking in billions from Venezuela’s neighbor and has a long-standing vendetta against the Bolivarian Republic?

In fact, Tillerson’s oil goons have already uncorked the champagne numerous times this year, having announced multiple oil finds off the coast that are worth billions. Naturally, this is as much political as economic. For Tillerson and Trump, every barrel of oil extracted from Guyana is a thumb in the eye of the Venezuelan government.

Oil as a geopolitical weapon

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro fist bumps a worker of the state-run oil company PDVSA during a visit to the Orinoco oil belt in Venezuela in 2013. (Photo: Miraflores/AP)

 

However, it would be a mistake to assume that U.S. policy toward Venezuela revolves exclusively around the profits to be made by ExxonMobil and other oil companies. While that is undoubtedly a factor, ultimately it is about political leverage and strategy vis-à-vis rival powers and power blocs.

Consider the fact that Venezuela’s oil reserves alone account for roughly one-quarter (24.8%) of all proven crude oil reserves within the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). This makes Venezuela hugely influential when it comes to decisions about oil production and, consequently, global oil prices. And when you couple Venezuela with Iran, a key ally of the Bolivarian Republic, both countries together account for nearly 40% of OPEC crude.  Add to that non-OPEC member Russia, which accounts for 12.4% of global crude production, just behind Saudi Arabia and the U.S., and you begin to see just how significant these three countries are to global oil prices and production.

One must also consider Saudi Arabia, which closely trails Venezuela in terms of proven crude reserves (22% of OPEC reserves). The centrality of Venezuela should be immediately apparent. Installing a right-wing, pro-U.S. government in Venezuela would mean that the U.S. would effectively control, or at least have significant influence over, nearly 85% of OPEC production (Venezuela and the Gulf monarchies), thereby isolating Iran within the grouping. Put differently, Venezuela is the only thing keeping OPEC from being a plaything of Washington and Wall Street.

Russia and China also figure centrally in this calculation. With Venezuela under Washington’s boot, Moscow and Beijing would be significantly weaker, as they would have no influence over OPEC. Nor would they be able to satisfy each other’s needs alone – Russia needs consumer goods and imports far beyond what China can provide, and China needs energy and other raw materials far beyond what Russia can offer.

In effect, regime change in Venezuela would cut the legs out from under Moscow and Beijing.

An instructive example can be found in Venezuela’s neighbour, Brazil.  An oil exporter almost as large as Venezuela in terms of production – Brazil accounts for 3% of global crude production, while Venezuela accounts for 3.1%  – Brazil saw a quick political transformation in the form of a coup against the democratically-elected government of Dilma Rousseff, a coup that was orchestrated by right-wing elements in the country and their backers in the U.S.

And with the takeover of the government by the right wing and Goldman Sachs, Brazil’s oil exporting potential flipped overnight from a liability to an asset for Washington and Wall Street.  Trump and Tillerson seem to have a similar vision for Venezuela.

The Sino-Venezuelan partnership

Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro, right, chats with Chinese President Xi Jinping after a welcome ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China Wednesday, Jan. 7, 2015. (AP/Andy Wong)

 

For decades, corporations in the U.S. saw Venezuela as little more than an American possession, an oil colony whose dependence on U.S. exports made it little different from a true colony in the traditional sense of the word. However, with the ascendance of Hugo Chavez and the Bolivarian Revolution, Venezuela ceased to be a dependent client of the U.S., and instead became a political adversary.

One key aspect of Venezuelan economic relations with other countries that has undoubtedly rubbed strategic planners the wrong way has been its ongoing partnership with China. Under Hugo Chavez and Nicolas Maduro, Venezuela has signed countless deals with Beijing, many of which are based on an oil-for-credit framework wherein Venezuelan oil underwrites Venezuelan borrowing from Chinese banks. The Chinese cash has been used to stave off default and pay the financial obligations of the Venezuelan government.

Beyond that, Venezuela and China have inked agreements in the areas of energy, mining, finance, infrastructure and agriculture. There is also the Joint Chinese-Venezuela Fund, which finances infrastructure projects and economic development in the Bolivarian Republic.

In February 2017, China and Venezuela signed a raft of agreements, including the construction of a refinery in China that will process 400,000 barrels of crude per day, 70 percent of which will come from Venezuela. The deals totaled $2.7 billion.

China has also become one of the leading manufacturers of transportation in Venezuela, with taxis and buses being purchased or manufactured by the Chinese for the Venezuelan market. This tangible example of the Venezuela-China relationship illustrates the importance of Beijing to the daily life of Venezuela.

Unlike China, Russia has little need for Venezuelan oil.  However, the one other area of Russian economic might is critical for the Bolivarian Republic: weapons.

According to Rostec, a Russian state corporation involved in the sale of military hardware to Venezuela, the estimated value of Russia-Venezuela arms contracts is roughly $12 billion. From 2005 to 2013, Venezuela was the largest buyer of Russian weapons in Latin America, with roughly $11 billion in purchase contracts.

But Russia’s ties to Venezuela are not simply about mutual enrichment, there is also a somewhat predatory aspect to the relationship, one that is likely making observers in both Washington and Caracas wary.  Russia’s $1.5 billion loan to Venezuela in November 2016 came with the condition that the Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA pledge a 49.9% stake in Citgo, the U.S. subsidiary of PDVSA, as collateral for the loan.

This means that Russia’s state oil company Rosneft, run by Russian President Vladimir Putin’s close friend Igor Sechin, could control much of Venezuela’s economic clout. Translation: Russia wants Venezuelan oil to use as leverage against the U.S.

Venezuela has become a geopolitical flashpoint in recent years. As the country has moved forward on the path of socialism and anti-imperialism, it has increasingly been targeted by a wide range of destabilization tactics, as well as the collapse of global oil prices in 2014 and 2015 that crippled the Venezuelan economy.

The future of the revolution?

A government supporter holds an image of Venezuela’s late president Hugo Chavez, during a march in Caracas, Venezuela, Wednesday, April 19, 2017. (AP/Fernando Llano)

 

Now, with Trump and Tillerson at the helm of the imperial warship, it seems that the target on Venezuela’s back has grown larger still. And with the right-wing resurgence throughout Latin America, strategic planners might feel that it’s only a matter of time before they achieve their objective: the destruction of the Bolivarian Revolution and a return to Venezuelan dependence on the U.S.

But while it seems that the U.S. is in control, there’s just one small issue – chavismo, the political ideology associated with the ideas and governing style of Hugo Chavez.

While Washington won’t officially admit it, there is a fear that any direct intervention in Venezuela could trigger a mass outpouring of anti-U.S., pro-Chavez sentiment.  The U.S. government hopes that Venezuela will collapse from within, thanks in large part to the millions of dollars spent by USAID and the National Endowment for Democracy to fund the right-wing opposition and other anti-government interests.

The trouble is that, despite the economic instability and destabilization, tens of millions of Venezuelans have made it clear that they’ll never accept being put in colonial chains again. And as the right wing demonstrates and demonizes, defenestrates and destabilizes, the revolution continues.

The question in the coming months will be whether China and, to a lesser extent Russia and Iran, will recognize that relations with Venezuela are not simply about money and profit, but about gaining leverage against the U.S. Will Venezuela be seen in its proper context as the frontline in the fight against the U.S. empire? Or will it be left to fend for itself as the imperial dogs of war howl for the blood of the Bolivarian Republic?

Source*

Related Topics:

No Surprise – U.S. Behind Violence in Venezuela*

Venezuela Oil Union Workers Back Maduro’s Constituent Assembly*

Tensions on the Rise As U.S. Announces Military Drills Near Venezuela*

Venezuela’s Opposition Activists Confess Being Paid to Promote Violent Protests*

U.S. Cries ‘Power Grab’ Following Venezuela Supreme Court Ruling*

Venezuela Maintains High Human Development Despite U.S. Engineered Economic Crisis*

Evo Morales Defends Venezuela against ‘Treacherous’ OAS Head*

World Bank to Reduce Venezuela Payout in Exxon Case*

The Caribbean Supports Venezuela against U.S. Interventionism*

Venezuela’s Supreme Court Blocks U.S. Regime Change*

One Way for U.S. to Keep More than an Eye on Guyana’s Oil*

U.S. Wants to Imprison These Six Water Protectors*

U.S. Wants to Imprison These Six Water Protectors*

These cases likely mark the first time that United States authorities have pursued felonies against individuals involved in demonstrations against fossil fuel infrastructure

By Will Parish

An elderly woman is escorted to a transport van after being arrested by law enforcement at the Oceti Sakowin camp as part of the final sweep of the Dakota Access pipeline protesters in Morton County, Feb. 23, 2017, near Cannon Ball, N.D. (Mike McCleary/The Bismarck Tribune)

 

In February, a federal grand jury issued indictments of four Standing Rock water protectors on charges of Federal Civil Disorder and Use of Fire to Commit a Federal Crime.

The federal investigators accused the four men—James White, Brennan Nastacio, Dion Ortiz, and Brandon Miller-Castillo—of involvement in setting three highway barricades on fire, which obstructed police during a highly-militarized October 27 raid of the “Front Line Camp” just north of the Standing Rock Sioux reservation.

Another water protector, Michael Markus, was indicted on identical charges on January 24, and his case has been combined with those of the other four men. Prosecutors are also pursuing three federal felonies against a 38-year-old Oglala Sioux woman named Red Fawn Fallis. They accuse her of firing a gun during her arrest, even as multiple police officers had her pinned face-down on the ground. Fallis’ arrest also occurred on October 27.

These cases likely mark the first time that United States authorities have pursued felonies against individuals involved in demonstrations against fossil fuel infrastructure.

All six people facing the charges are indigenous. Under sentencing guidelines, Red Fawn Fallis faces 25 years or more in prison. The other federal defendants—Markus, White, Nastacio, Ortiz, and Miller-Castillo—face up to fifteen years.

Starting in August of last year, indigenous people and their allies devoted months to attempting to block the construction of the 1,172-mile Dakota Access Pipeline, which runs through four Midwestern states near North Dakota’s Standing Rock Sioux reservation and underneath their main water source, Lake Oahe.

The project sparked opposition in communities spanning the pipeline route, including in Iowa and Illinois. In North Dakota, police carried out over 700 arrests. State prosecutors have since brought felony charges against more than 100 people.

But the federal cases are arguably more serious, since they entail prosecutions by some of the U.S. government’s most elite attorneys and may result in lengthy prison sentences. The cases are also likely to exert a chilling effect on indigenous-led resistance to resource extraction and fossil fuel infrastructure.

In fact, in each case, the U.S. Attorneys for the District of North Dakota filed a most unusual charge: federal civil disorder.

“Nobody I’ve worked with previously has ever seen that charge,” the Water Protector Legal Collective’s Sandra Freeman, an attorney for Michael Markus, said in an interview.

“It comes from a law that is usually only invoked when the federal government decides to prosecute people involved in resistance.”

The National Lawyers Guild’s Bruce Ellison, the lead attorney for Red Fawn Fallis, agrees. He says he has only encountered federal civil disorder charges “a few times” before, including during federal prosecutions of American Indian Movement (AIM) activists who reclaimed Wounded Knee as part of an armed stand-off with federal and local police on the Pine Ridge Reservation in 1973.

Ellison is a long-time attorney for AIM political prisoner Leonard Peltier.

Records obtained via an open records request indicate high-level operatives within the U.S. domestic security state were involved in coordinating the enormous law enforcement mobilization against Standing Rock “water protectors” from last summer through early March of this year.

These records, which will be the subject of future stories, show officers from numerous federal agencies—the FBI, Bureau of Indian Affairs, U.S. Marshal’s Service, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for North Dakota—coordinated with state and local police as part of an inter-agency “intelligence group” that monitored Standing Rock protests in real-time, with a focus on ferreting out “instigators” and “leaders of the movement.”

Among those who helped orchestrate this multi-agency intelligence effort was National Security Intelligence Specialist Terry W. Van Horn of the U.S. Attorney’s Office—the same entity now prosecuting Fallis, Markus, White, Nastacio, Ortiz, and Miller-Castillo.

The intelligence-gathering operation in which Van Horn participated appears to have been coordinated by the State and Local Intelligence Center, one of numerous law enforcement “fusion” centers set up by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in the wake of the September 11th attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center.

Supporters of the six federal defendants, as well as others facing possible prison and jail sentence, say that their court cases are a major front in the struggle for indigenous self-determination and against resource extraction.

“The government is looking at how to deal with calls for indigenous self-determination and resistance to resource extraction nationally, and the people facing these charges could become symbols of their ability to carry out that repression,” Ellison contends.

The October 27 Raid on Front Line Camp

Dakota Access pipeline protesters face off with police who are trying to force them from a camp on land in the path of pipeline construction on Thursday, Oct. 27, 2016, near Cannon Ball, N.D.

 

The six federal prosecutions all stem from a highly-militarized October 27 raid of the “Front Line Camp,” or “1851 Treaty Camp,” which occupied some of the last remaining ground in the pipeline’s construction.

The camp was located on unceded Dakota territory, which was affirmed in the 1851 Ft. Laramie Treaty to be part of the Standing Rock Reservation. It was later stripped away under an 1889 statute from Congress.

Over 300 police officers—some carrying M16 rifles and clad in flak vests—advanced down North Dakota Highway 1806 toward Oceti Sakowin camp, the main nerve center of the water protectors’ resistance to the pipeline.

The police were flanked by a MaxxPro Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle (MRAP) designed to withstand bombing attacks in Iraq and Afghanistan. A Long-Range Acoustic Device (LRAD), an extremely loud device used for crowd control, was mounted atop the MRAP. Snipers occupied positions on surrounding hills.

In the course of the raid, the police fired tear gas and concussion grenades and peppered the water protectors with rubber-tipped bullets and bean bag pellets, causing dozens of injuries.

Watch footage from the October 27th raid:

Four officers broke from the line to tackle and arrest Red Fawn Fallis, a Denver resident and lifelong member of the Colorado chapter of the American Indian Movement, whose family hails from the Oglala Sioux reservation at Pine Ridge in South Dakota.

As Fallis struggled under the weight of her arresting officers, at least two gunshots went off alongside her. According to an affidavit filed by the Pennington County Sheriff’s Department in North Dakota, a deputy “saw a gun in Fallis’ left hand and wrestled it away from her.”

Native American activist Red Fawn Fallis.

 

The Pennington County Sheriff’s Department claims Fallis was arrested for “being an instigator” and “acting disorderly.”

According to attorneys for protesters, “instigator” and “camp leader” have emerged as keywords in both state and federal prosecutions.

Fallis was initially charged with attempted murder, but a state judge removed that charge from the docket, and she is now being accused of three federal felonies. They include “possession of a firearm by a convicted felon” and “discharge of a firearm in relation to a felony crime of violence.”

According to numerous accounts, Fallis was a widely-respected coordinator at the Sacred Stone Camp, another major gathering place for prayerful opposition to the pipeline, and had played an instrumental role in the movement as a whole.

“Red Fawn was the kind of person who was down to help with anything at any time,” says one camp participant who asked not to be identified.

“She was integral to the camp.”

Many water protectors and members of Fallis’s family have organized a support campaign for her. They stridently maintain her innocence.

Glenn Morris, a leader of the Colorado chapter of the American Indian Movement, released a statement on behalf of Fallis’s family this past November, saying she is “an intelligent, informed and determined Oglala Lakota woman, who has defended the rights of native peoples and nations, in multiple circumstances.”

Water Protector Facing Federal Felony Charges for Disarming DAPL Contractor

Brennan Nastacio has became a hero to water protectors for his role in disarming a DAPL security guard security guard, Kyle Thompson, who had entered Oceti Sakowin camp wielding an AR-15. (Photo: YouTube Screenshot)

One of the other people facing federal felony charges, Brennan Nastacio, became a hero to water protectors for his dramatic role in disarming a DAPL security worker, who had entered Oceti Sakowin camp—a base of prayer and opposition to DAPL—wielding an AR-15.

The security guard, Kyle Thompson, drove into the camp and claimed to be a water protector, according to a camp security guard. He had a long-nosed semi-automatic rifle and a 30-round clip seated in the passenger seat of his truck.

Nastacio spent nearly a half hour pleading with Thompson to abandon the weapon while also calming other “water protectors,” who were clamouring around him. Thompson, who works for Texas-based Leighton Security, finally handed the gun over to Bureau of Indian Affairs officers, who arrested him. Soon after, Thompson’s truck was driven to a barricade and set on fire.

North Dakota prosecutors declined to charge Thompson instead charging Nastacio with felony terrorizing of Thompson because he briefly walked toward him with a hunting knife during the incident.

In a January YouTube video, Nastacio noted his goal was “the protection of everybody at the camp,” and that he was concerned Thompson himself would be shot by the police. Thompson claims he came to the camp to investigate vandalism to a DAPL vehicle.

Ironically, on the same day as Nastacio helped disarm the Dakota Access security worker, a security firm hired by Dakota Access collected the aerial surveillance photos that now form a major basis for federal prosecution of him, as well as of Miller-Castillo, Ortiz, Markus, and White, court records show. (*Note: This public-private “fusion” model of law enforcement that played out at Standing Rock will be the subject of future stories.)

Ellison, Fallis’s attorney, is attempting to introduce evidence that demonstrates the dubious role the FBI has played in the charges against Fallis.

Terry VanHorn of the U.S. Attorney’s Office did not respond to a request for comment.

The Role of the FBI in Suppressing Opposition to the Pipeline

In this image provided by Morton County Sheriff’s Department, law enforcement and protesters clash near the site of the Dakota Access pipeline on Sunday, Nov. 20, 2016, in Cannon Ball, N.D. (Morton County Sheriff’s Department via AP)

 

Police in North Dakota went to enormous lengths to portray many anti-DAPL protesters as violent criminals for their role in the protests.

More recently, the allegations against Fallis, Nastacio, Markus, White, Ortiz, and Miller-Castillo have become fodder for domestic security agency warnings about potentially violent threat posed by protests against other fossil fuel infrastructure.

A Department of Homeland Security report, published by the conservative Washington Examiner on April 18, spells out the possibility that “environmental rights extremists” and “anti-government militia” may muster up attacks on the in-construction Diamond Pipeline extending from Oklahoma to Tennessee.

The report states that “[p]rotests surrounding the DAPL have resulted in the arrest of hundreds of individuals for allegedly committing criminal acts,” and that

“[o]ne individual was charged with attempted murder for allegedly discharging a firearm at officers during removal efforts.”

But water protectors and their advocates point out that the real criminals at Standing Rock were the police and the oil companies’ private security firms, who consistently used violent repression to sabotage constitutionally-protected political activity.

Meanwhile, the federal government has failed to hold the police accountable for a single act of violence.

On a single night in November, the police injured more than 300 unarmed and generally highly-restrained protesters by spraying water on them amid freezing temperatures and firing rubber bullets and concussion grenades.

A police officer struck 21-year-old Sophia Wilansky with a concussion grenade that nearly severed her forearm. A fellow water protector named Steve Martinez drove her to the hospital, where she underwent emergency surgeries in an effort to save her arm.

On the day after Wilansky nearly lost her arm, seven FBI agents—including two clad in Joint Terrorism Task Force jackets—came to her hospital room and collected articles of clothing and shrapnel freshly dislodged from her arm. They also subpoenaed hospital visitor logs and videos of her room.

The JTTF visit “created a chilling atmosphere where anyone who’s a protester is under suspicion of being a terrorist,” Sophia Wilansky’s father, Wayne Wilansky, says.

The same grand jury that has indicted Fallis, Markus, Nastacio, White, Ortiz, and Miller-Castillo on felony charges subpoenaed Steve Martinez soon afterward. The subpoena implied that a federal investigation of the extremely far-fetched claim that Wilansky’s injury was caused by an improvised explosive was underway, and that Martinez was a subject of that investigation simply because he had driven Wilansky to seek medical attention.

It ordered Martinez to produce, among other things, “photos and SD cards; written statements; and any other information in [his] possession.”

Martinez appeared before the grand jury on January 4th and was asked a single question: “When did you arrive in North Dakota?” He immediately invoked the Fifth Amendment and refused to testify.

In a written statement, Martinez, who is partly of Pueblo and Apache ancestry, called the grand jury “a fishing expedition to find out information about the water protector movement, and organizations and people related to it,” and asserted that “to comply with this subpoena would violate my spiritual duty to protect my loved ones.”

Martinez was expected to begin a jail sentence for contempt of court on March 1, but in late February, the U.S. Attorney’s office unexpectedly withdrew its subpoena of him, meaning he’s free for now. About 20 supporters nevertheless gathered in front of the courthouse on March 1 holding up banners with slogans, such as “The Frontlines Are in the Courtroom.”

The Water Protector Legal Collective, the Freshet Collective, and other volunteer-driven collectives have provided legal support and advice for the water protectors now slogging through various court cases.

Notwithstanding the temporary victory in Steve Martinez’ case, members of the collectives say they intend to continue support for those whose sacrifices made the water protector movement possible in their various courtroom-related struggles.

The History of the Federal Civil Disorder Charge

At a rally outside the U.S. Courthouse October 29, 1969, Dr. Benjamin Spock, background, listens to Fred Hampton, chairman of the Illinois Black Panther party. (AP Photo/stf)

 

The civil disorder statute used against the six federal defendants can be traced to Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassination in 1968, which spurred Congress to pass the U.S. Civil Rights Act one week after his death.

It was passed in the aftermath of riots across the country in protest against substandard living conditions in segregated Black communities. The best known section of the act is Title VIII, known as the Fair Housing Act, which was designed to end residential segregation and promote racial integration. But a little-remembered section of the bill, Title X, is known as the Civil Obedience Act.

U.S. Senator Russell Long of Louisiana, an avowed segregationist, was the amendment’s main author and offered it as a quid pro quo for his support of the legislation as a whole.

The amendment created stiff penalties for such activities as “interfering with law enforcement officials during the course of civil disorder.”

Long previously offered up the Civil Obedience Act as an amendment to a bill that would have specified punishments for violence against civil rights workers in the Deep South.

Biographer Michael S. Martin recalled in his book, “Russell Long: A Life in Politics,” a speech Long made to the Senate floor, in which he described the pro-civil rights worker legislation as “a bill to aid and abet H. Rap Brown and Stokely Carmichael,” in reference to leaders of the Black Power movement. He also claimed the people the bill supported were “known to stir up hatred and ill will among people of their race and put cities to the torch.”

In response, Long proposed the Civil Obedience Act as a means to “strike the very thing which really concerns the people of this country: the rights and the safety of 200 million Americans whose property and whose very lives have been seriously endangered.”

Nearly a half-century later, the federal government is using this same racially-charged legislation to pursue felony charges against six indigenous people at Standing Rock.

Ellison recalled one of the few previous times he encountered Federal Civil Disorder charges was during prosecutions of AIM activists in the 1970s. He experienced first-hand the murderous FBI-coordinated counter-insurgency campaign against AIM at Pine Ridge, he noted, whereby a paramilitary organization known as the Guardians of the Oglala Nation (GOONs) went on a rampage of beatings and assassinations of AIM leaders and supporters.

Federal prosecutions are viewed as one aspect of an escalating effort by domestic security agencies, police, politicians, and fossil fuel industries to break the spirit of resistance movements nationwide.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) said more than 30 separate anti-protest bills were introduced since November 8, representing “an unprecedented level of hostility towards protesters in the 21st century.”

“The government is looking at how to deal with protests nationally, and these federal prosecutions are certainly a part of that,” Ellison concluded.

Source*

Related Topics:

Trump’s Latest Executive Order Means More Criminalization of Protests*

Arrests and Protests Continue over DAPL*

Water Protectors Expose Moles in Their Ranks, Infiltrating DAPL Protests, Provoking Police*

The Dakota Access Pipeline Is Already Leaking*

The Company behind the Dakota Access Pipeline Just Had 2 Major Spills*

Pipeline Shut Down In North Dakota after Leaking into Little Mississippi River*

BNP Paribas Latest Bank to Dump Dakota Access Pipeline*

Journalist and Filmmaker Faces 45 Years for Reporting on Dakota Access Protests*

 

How Art Can Heal Mental Illness*

How Art Can Heal Mental Illness*

 By Go Paolo

Merriam-Webster defines art as “the use of skill and creative imagination in creating aesthetic objects such as paintings, music, and sculptures.”

But that is a superficial definition. Art goes beyond definitions but is what enriches life and touches each of us as individuals.  The rapid growths of technology and secularism have not deterred the importance of art but have made it more valuable as more people face stress and mental illness and are in need of the healing power of art:

How art helps heal mental illness:

A comprehensive study was done to prove the many benefits of the various forms of art on patients. Art forms such as music, visual arts, dance, and creative writing were used and produced encouraging results.

Reduces anxiety and stress

Music is one of the most powerful and moving art forms that even the great nihilist himself, Friedrich Nietzsche recognized its value. Listening to music was found not only to reduce stress but also anxiety. Noticeable improvements were made to patients’ well-being and relaxation and reductions in tension, cortisol levels, and heart rate. Making art also has similar effects as another

Making art also has similar effects as another study highlighted. This wasn’t limited to individuals who were excellent artists and the majority of the subjects admitted to having little experience when it came to any form of art. It harkens back to what Aristotle said that art isn’t about the outward appearance but the inward experience. Art is human expression and it’s now medically proven (to a degree) that it has health benefits.

Helps you focus on positive life experiences

Another study was conducted this time on the effects of visual art and it showed how patients; pain tolerance and threshold both increased when exposed to visual stimuli (and music). The study was inspired to help patients deal with the intimidating surroundings of a hospital.

Creating and being exposed to art helps generate positive thoughts. The American Journal of Public Health’s study described the impact of visual art on its patients as “filling occupational voids and distracting thoughts of illness” and “improving flow and spontaneity, expression of grief, positive identity, and social networks.” A study from the University of North Carolina adds to this point emphasizing the healing power of positive emotions and how it forms and strengthens personal relationships and gives individuals more motivation to live.

Helps the body heal and stay healthy

A healthy body leads to a healthy mind – particularly your gut. Eating healthy, sleeping well, and doing physical exercises or yoga all contribute to a healthy bod. But you can also add experiencing magnificent visual imagery through art and nature to this list. A study from the University of California, Berkeley links this experience to boosting the immune system thus lowering chances of diabetes, heart attacks, and other illnesses, which may include mental illnesses.

Dr. Dacher Keitner of the university said, “the beauty promotes healthier levels of cytokines suggests the things people do to experience these emotions – walking in nature, losing oneself to music, beholding art – all have direct inlfuence upon health and life expectancy.”

Source*

Related Topics:

The Shift – The Age of Heart*

Singing Together Brings Heartbeats into Harmony*

Australia’s Aboriginal Artist’s Message Resonates in Palestine*

Mexican Martial Art Based on Traditional Mayan Culture*

Caribbean Cave Art Illuminates Encounters with Europeans*

Spirit Science ~ Milk, Dairy and Health*

Tribal Parenting – How to Heal Our Children*

The Healing Power of Fasting*

Healing the Psychic Split Which Causes War*

Healing your Creativity after Trauma*

Sufism Healing the Soul in Gaza*

Healing with Water: An Indigenous Approach*

The Radical Work of Healing: Fania and Assata (Angela Davis) on a New Kind of Civil Rights Activism*

An Indigenous Australian Approach to Healing Trauma*

How I Healed My Failing Liver Naturally*

The Healing Frequency, and the Frequency of Disharmony

Sex Trafficking Victim Receives Compensation from Indian Gov’t*

Sex Trafficking Victim Receives Compensation from Indian Gov’t*

By Brianna Acuesta

This teenager, who was sold for sex by traffickers, just got paid by the government to go to school.

When Devi was a young girl, her life took a horrific turn when she became a victim of trafficking was sold for sex in Mumbai before being rescued. With the help of a shelter that saves and rehabilitates girls that have been trafficked for sex, Devi has recovered from this tragic part of her life as best she could and is now looking forward to the future.

Despite the taboo nature of women having sex before marriage in India, even if the intercourse was a result of rape or trafficking, Devi remains hopeful that she can still lead a fulfilling life doing what she loves by not allowing her past to define her. She has high hopes for her career, and has even declared that it’s her dream to become a doctor.

“I want to study science after high school. I know it is difficult, but I have the will to study. I was only unsure of the money,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Devi is currently living at the shelter that has helped her move forward from her time as a sex trafficking victim and was one of thousands of girls to send a request to the government of the western state of Maharashtra for compensation to pay for her schooling. The government recently deposited 75,000 rupees ($1,150) into Devi’s bank account to help pay for school, and she will receive another 225,000 rupees when she turns 18.

 

Maharashtra is one of the many states in India that has a high rate of girls and women being trafficked and sexually abused or sold, some as young as 6 years old after being abducted or sold by their own parents. As India faces pressure, both externally and internally, to crack down on perpetrators of trafficking and sexual violence as well as provide safe havens and compensation for victims, each state has developed its own program for how to combat these horrible crimes.

The state developed a financial aid scheme in 2013 to compensate victims of rape, sexual assault, and acid attacks, but its scheme is set to be reviewed as it isn’t yielding the results that human rights advocates hoped for. In the last few years, the state has received 7,500 requests for compensation and they have offered payments to 4,500 girls. However, Devi was one of the first to actually receive her payments, as with most other cases the government has claimed that there is a lack of funding. Devi’s success can in part be attributed to the International Justice Mission, who has worked with her for the last two years by following up endlessly with different departments.

“This is the first time compensation has come through for a case with our follow-up. We are now encouraged and are pursuing compensation for four to five other cases of minor victims who are eligible for compensation,” said Melissa Walavalkar, IJM’s director of Justice Solutions.

This is especially promising for the others that the IJM is representing, but for the thousands of other girls still waiting for financial aid, the wait could be endless. Human rights groups also point to some of the restrictions in the scheme as being unfair, like the rule that only girls who were abused during the time that the scheme started and onwards are eligible. One lawyer, Wesley Menezes, has been tirelessly fighting this stipulation because he is representing a then-13-year-old girl who was raped and forced to marry her rapist to ‘avoid shame’ in 2012, just before the scheme started.

However, the fact that a payment has been made at all proves that the scheme could be promising, though not in its current form. Critics are hoping that a review of the scheme will open up the payments to more women and girls and that more funding will be made available to actually deliver the payments.

Source*

Related Topics:

India’s Top Court Upholds Death Sentences for 2012 Delhi Gang Rape Convicts*

Rape, Jews, and Bollywood*

10-Year-Old Schoolgirl Set on Fire, Thrown into Dry Well for Fighting Off Gang Rape

Rape in India Gains Its Rightful Status*

 

Flint City Council Votes for Moratorium on Property Liens for Unpaid Water Bills*

Flint City Council Votes for Moratorium on Property Liens for Unpaid Water Bills*

Council president Kerry Nelson: “Enough is enough. I’ve made up my mind tonight to do what I need to do for the people who elected me.”

By Kenrya Rankin

A trash bag filled with empty water bottles and water filters outside of a house on March 17, 2016, in Flint, Michigan. Flint continues to work through the effects of water contamination. Photo: Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

 

Last month, Flint, Michigan, officials informed more than 8,000 households that if they do not pay outstanding water bills, a lien will be placed on their property, setting them on a path that could lead to foreclosure. But on Wednesday (May 17), Flint City Council passed a resolution that, if approved by Mayor Karen Weaver, will institute a yearlong moratorium on the policy of issuing liens.

Many residents stopped paying their water bills when it was revealed that the water being delivered to their homes via the tap contained dangerous levels of lead. The state subsidized the city’s water costs from April 2014 through February of this year, but stopped after announcing that the water’s lead levels were within federal guidelines.

Michigan Radio reports that council members were moved to act after receiving calls from constituents. “Enough is enough. I’ve made up my mind tonight to do what I need to do for the people who elected me,” council president Kerry Nelson said.

The resolution says that properties with delinquent balances going back to April 2014—when the city began drawing its water from the Flint River—will not have liens placed on them. Eight council members voted for it, and one abstained, citing unanswered legal questions.

“The ordinance can’t go back retroactively, and pull liens off of houses that have already been lost. That was the main reason,” council member Eric Mays told Michigan Radio.

Nelson said that both the city attorney and chief financial officer asked him not to pass the moratorium for the sake of the city’s finances.

“It’s time out for that,” Nelson said.

“The people of this city are suffering. They’re troubled, they’re at their wits’ end…. We’ve got to do what we can do. I’ve done what I can do.”

The American Civil Liberties Union and the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund also lobbied for the moratorium, prompting a May 16 statement from Weaver. From that statement:

I welcome the support and input of the ACLU of Michigan and the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund as this difficult and unfortunate situation has brought another dark cloud over the city and the progress being made to recover from the water crisis. The City of Flint is legally obligated to comply with some city and state statutes that are not suitable or appropriate when you consider the extenuating circumstances we are still facing.

Source*

Related Topics:

Flint Threatens to Kick 8,000 Families Out of Their Homes if They Don’t Pay for Poison Water*

Flint to get New Pipes after $87mn Settlement*

A Water Crisis Like Flint’s Is Unfolding In East Chicago*

City Threatens to Turn Off Flint Residents’ Water*

In Flint, Level of lead in Children’s Blood Leads to a State of Emergency*

Britain Collapses to 156th Place for the Human Rights of Children*

Britain Collapses to 156th Place for the Human Rights of Children*

This is quite extraordinary. At first, I thought this was some sort of ‘fake news’ article. Worryingly, it isn’t. Austerity – a Conservative ideology that recklessly bailed out banks then socialised the debt has had dramatic effects upon civil society, demonstrated no better than the plummet in the overall welfare of Britain’s children in recent years. But this increase in child poverty is now of epidemic dimensions – and should be treated like one.

Nearly half of children are now living in poverty in some parts of the U.K., research by the End Child Poverty coalition has found. An unbelievable 100,000 are unfortunately added to this miserable category each year, and the government’s own statistics now show one third of all children in Britain are living in poverty.

No mention of a concerted effort by politicians to bring this scandal to an end in any manifesto; itself a damning indictment of those in power.

“Austerity measures have reduced provision of a range of services that protect and fulfil children’s rights including health and child and adolescent mental health services; education; early years; preventive and early intervention services; and youth services. “

By Kitty Jones

The Index gathers data from UNICEF and the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) to identify global trends in the arena of children’s rights protection. It comprises a ranking for all U.N. member states that have ratified the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child, a total of 165 countries.

The report says that a nation’s prosperity does not always guarantee children’s rights. Interestingly, economically better performing countries are not necessarily doing a better job when it comes to safeguarding the rights of children.

This year’s overall worst performing countries are the United Kingdom, Papua New Guinea, New Zealand, Guinea-Bissau, Equatorial Guinea, Chad, Vanuatu, Sierra Leone, Afghanistan and Central African Republic.

Very serious concerns have been raised about structural discrimination in the UK. Muslim children are facing increased discrimination following recent anti-terrorism measures, and a rise in discrimination against gypsy and refugee children in recent years.

The KidsRights Index is comprised of 5 domains: 

  1. Right to Life
  2. Right to Health
    3. Right to Education
    4. Right to Protection
    5. Enabling Environment for Child Rights

Marc Dullaert, founder and chairman of the KidsRights Foundation, has urged the U.K. government to treat non-discrimination as a policy priority, and to speed up the process of aligning its child protection laws with the Convention on the Rights of the Child at both the national and devolved levels, as well as in all crown dependencies.

He said: “Discrimination against vulnerable groups of children and youths is severely hampering opportunities for future generations to reach their full potential.” 

“Following the general election, the new government should demonstrate to the world that it will not allow the retreat from the E.U. to adversely affect the rights and opportunities of its children.” 

In light of the findings, Lord Philip Hunt, shadow deputy leader of the House of Lords and shadow health spokesperson, accused the Government of “inactivity” and “inadequate service provision”, urging it to do more to protect the rights of the child.

He said: “This report exposes the inactivity of the current U.K. government and inadequate service provision in this most important area of policy making; rights of the child.” 

“The U.K. is the sixth largest economy globally and therefore has the resources at its disposal to ensure that our children are adequately protected and cared for across multiple disciplines. Our children are our future and the barometer of our approach to social justice and the state of our society.”

Although many states have adopted new children’s rights policies in recent years, the Index reveals that implementation is often not evident, and many new policies fail to fully comply with the principles and provisions of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

The Index rates and ranks the extent to which a country has implemented the general principles of the Convention on the Rights of the Child while taking into account the basic infrastructure for making and implementing children’s rights policies. Portugal is this year’s global top ranking nation, with France, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Spain also ranking in the top ten.

The Index methodology means that extremely poor performances in one domain cannot be compensated by higher scores in other domains, as all of areas children’s rights are deemed to be equally important.

The report concluded that many industrialised nations, and especially the U.K., are falling far short of allocating sufficient budgets towards creating a stable environment for children’s rights, by neglecting their leadership responsibilities and failing to invest in the rights of children to the best of their abilities.

Human rights and the impact of childhood poverty

Earlier this month, another damning report published by the Royal College of Paediatrics, Child Health (RCPCH) and Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) revealed that more than two-thirds of paediatricians believe poverty and low income contribute “very much” to the ill health of children that they work with.

The report – Poverty and child health: views from the frontline – is based on a survey of more than 250 paediatricians across the country, whose comments provide an insight into the grave reality of life for the millions of UK children living in poverty.

Latest figures show that more than one in four (nearly 4 million) children in the U.K. live in poverty – with projections suggesting this could rise to 5 million by the end of the decade.

The report explores number of areas including food insecurity, poor housing and worry, stress and stigma – and the effect of these issues on the health of children.

The report reveals that:

  • more than two-thirds of paediatricians surveyed said poverty and low income contribute ‘very much’ to the ill health of children they work with
  • housing problems or homelessness were a concern for two-thirds of respondents.
  • more than 60% said food insecurity contributed to the ill health amongst children they treat 3
  • 40% had difficulty discharging a child in the last 6 months because of concerns about housing or food insecurity
  • more than 50% of respondents said that financial stress and worry contribute ‘very much’ to the ill health of children they work with

Alison Garnham, Chief Executive of the Child Poverty Action Group, said:

“Day in, day out doctors see the damage rising poverty does to children’s health. Their disquiet comes through in the survey findings and should sound alarms for the next government. Low family incomes, inadequate housing and cuts to support services are jeopardising the health of our most vulnerable children.

“We can and must do better to protect the well-being of future generations. reinstating the U.K.’s poverty-reduction targets would be an obvious place to start.” 

Professor Russell Viner, Officer for Health Promotion at the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, said:

“Poverty has a devastating effect on child health and this report makes disturbing reading. The health impact on children living in poverty is significant – whether that’s increased likelihood of respiratory problems, mental ill-health or obesity – than children living in more affluent areas.

“Worryingly, almost half of those surveyed feel the problem is getting worse, with the combination of increasing poverty, housing problems and cuts to services meaning more families are struggling.”  

The RCPCH and CPAG are calling on whoever forms the next Government to tackle poverty urgently through:

  • the restoration of binding national targets to reduce child poverty, backed by a national child poverty strategy
  • the adoption of a ‘child health in all policies’ approach to decision making and policy development, with Her Majesty’s Treasury disclosing information about the impact of the Chancellor’s annual budget statement on child poverty and inequality
  • the reversal of public health cuts to ensure universal early years services, including health visiting and school nursing, are prioritised and supported financially, with additional targeted help for children and families experiencing poverty
  • the reversal of cuts to universal credit which will leave the majority of families claiming this benefit worse off.

As one survey respondent said: “We cannot expect to have a healthy future for the U.K. if we leave children behind. Poverty makes children sick.”

There were 3.9 million children living in “relative poverty” in 2014-15, up from 3.7 million a year earlier, according to figures from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

The report follows the release of  figures from the DWP which revealed one in four (nearly four million) children in the U.K. live in poverty – with projections suggesting this could rise to five million by the end of the decade.

It’s not as if the government have been unaware of the consequences of their policies and the implications of a consistent failure to uphold the UK’s human rights obligations towards children. In 2014, the Children’s Commissioner warned that the increasing inequality resulting from the austerity cuts, and in particular, the welfare reforms, means that Britain is now in breach of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, which is supposed to protect children from the adverse effects of government economic measures.

In 2015, the Children’s Commissioner criticised the Conservative’s tax credit cuts and called for measures to reduce the impact that the changes will have on the poorest children. Anne Longfield, who took up her role on 1 March 2015, called on the government to exempt 800,000 children under five from tax credit cuts and to offer additional support to families with a child under five-years-old.

The role of Children’s Commissioner was established under Labour’s Children Act in 2004 to be the independent voice of children and young people and to champion their interests and bring their concerns and views to the national arena. The Commissioner’s work must take regard of children’s rights (the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child) and seek to improve the wellbeing of children and young people.

However, the government rejected the findings of what they deemed the “partial, selective and misleading” Children’s Commissioner report. The Commissioner wrote to the Chancellor to call for children in the poorest families aged under five to be protected from the cuts.

However, George Osborne shamefully remained brazenly unrepentant.

A damning joint report written by the four United Kingdom Children’s Commissioners for the U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child’s examination of the U.K.’s Fifth Periodic Report under the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), dated 14 August 2015, says, in its overall assessment of the U.K.’s record:

“The Children’s Commissioners are concerned that the U.K. State Party’s response to the global economic downturn, including the imposition of austerity measures and changes to the welfare system, has resulted in a failure to protect the most disadvantaged children and those in especially vulnerable groups from child poverty, preventing the realisation of their rights under Articles 26 and 27 UNCRC. 

The best interests of children were not central to the development of these policies and children’s views were not sought. 

Reductions to household income for poorer children as a result of tax, transfer and social security benefit changes have led to food and fuel poverty, and the sharply increased use of crisis food bank provision by families. In some parts of the U.K. there is insufficient affordable decent housing which has led to poorer children living in inadequate housing and in temporary accommodation.

Austerity measures have reduced provision of a range of services that protect and fulfil children’s rights including health and child and adolescent mental health services; education; early years; preventive and early intervention services; and youth services. 

The Commissioners are also seriously concerned at the impact of systematic reductions to legal advice, assistance and representation for children and their parents/carers in important areas such as prison law; immigration; private family law; and education. This means that children are denied access to remedies where their rights have been breached.

The Commissioners are also concerned at the future of the human rights settlement in the United Kingdom due to the U.K. Government’s intention to repeal the Human Rights Act 1998 (HRA) which incorporates the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) into domestic law; replace it with a British Bill of Rights (the contents of which are yet to be announced), and ‘break the formal link between British courts and the European Court of Human Rights’.

The HRA has been vital in promoting and protecting the rights of children in the United Kingdom and the European Court of Human Rights has had an important role in developing the protection offered to children by the ECHR.The Commissioners are concerned that any amendment or replacement of the HRA is likely to be regressive.”

In another regressive and punitive policy move by the government, from April 6 2017, child tax credits and universal credit across the U.K. will be restricted to the first two children in a family. This measure will affect all households with two or more children that have an additional child after this date.

Analysis by consultancy Policy in Practice revealed a low-income family whose third or additional child is born before midnight on the day before the policy came into force would qualify for up to £50,000 in tax credit support over 18 years whereas a similar family whose third child is born on April 6 will miss out.

The government says it wants to save money and make the tax credit system “fairer”. It intends the two-child restriction to “influence the behaviour” of less well-off families by making them “think twice” about having a third child. But it also accepts there is no evidence to suggest this will happen.

This is an extremely regressive eugenic policy, with its emphasis being on social class. Eugenics was discredited following its terrible escalation and consequences in Nazi Germany.

The two children only policy also a reflects a politically motivated form of crude behaviourism –  behaviour modification through the use of financial punishments. It’s probably true that all authoritarians and tyrants are behaviourists of sorts.

Critics say that at current birth rates, 100,000 third or subsequent children will not qualify for tax credit support over the next 12 months, inflating child poverty figures by at least 10% by 2020.

Social Darwinism is linked closely with eugenic ideas – a view that society and economics will naturally “check” the problem of dysgenics if no welfare policies are in place.

The Conservative government has steadily dismantled the welfare state over the past seven years, so that now, there is no longer adequate support provision for people both in work and out of work, to meet their basic living needs.

The current retrogressive, draconian approach to poverty needs to radically change if we are to be a nation that respects and upholds the human rights of all its citizens.

Source*

Related Topics:

Quest to Kill Human Rights Act in U.K.*

U.K. is at Bottom Of O.E.C.D. In Healthcare – But Leaders Still Deny Austerity Is to Blame*

If the Noose is Still Tightening and, you Still Think It’s Austerity, the Former Governor of the Bank of England Will Tell You*

Engineered National Health Service Meltdown in the U.K.*

Bank Bail-outs Behind Behind U.K.’s Collapsing Public Services*

Police Chief Confirms Fmr U.K. Prime Minister Raped Dozens of Children and Govt ‘Covered it Up’*

Thousands of U.K. Parents to take Children out of School in Protest*

U.K. Secretively Scraps Free Meal Grants for Poorest Primary School Children*

U.K. to Put Fluoride in Milk for School Children*

U.K. Police Target Schoolchildren as Young as 4 with Tax Payer Funded, Transgender Propaganda*

Sexual Assaults on Children Rise to 85 a Day in the U.K.*

U.K. Setting Children up for Failure*

Being Driven Insane, Mentally Ill Children Kept in U.K. Prisons*

Young Mothers are going Hungry so their Children can Eat in Theresa May’s Britain*

Britain’s Hunger Crisis Sparks First Student-Led Food Bank*

Starving British children are looking for food in rubbish bins