After years of eluding justice, notorious Chilean torturer Adriana Rivas has finally been arrested and her extradition request by the Chilean state accepted by Australian authorities.
Rivas was arrested in Sydney today and was due to appear before the Local Court this afternoon.
In 2014, Chile’s Supreme Court issued an extradition order for Rivas, a Chilean national who moved to Sydney in 1978. The court was unanimous in its decision to make the request as it involved allegations of crimes against humanity.
While Rivas worked as a nanny for much of her time in Australia, her prior endeavours were very different: she served as a principal assistant to Manuel Contreras, the former head of Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet’s secret police force, the National Intelligence Directorate (DINA).
Rivas is wanted for the aggravated kidnapping of seven victims in 1976, all of whom disappeared after undergoing vicious torture sessions.
There is evidence to suggest that they were assassinated by DINA agents who worked with Rivas. Some of her co-conspirators in these heinous crimes have been sentenced in Chile, and Rivas’ trial is pending.
In an interview given to SBS in late 2013, Rivas stated that torture was necessary to "somehow break people's silence… [ it was] the same as what the Nazis used… It was necessary.
"The whole world does it. Silently, underground, but they do it. This is the only way to break people because psychologically there’s no method… to make you tell the truth."
Rivas was arrested in Chile in 2007 while she was visiting the country but breached her conditional bail and returned to Australia.
In 2014, an extradition request was lodged with the Australian government. Due to technicalities, that request was only accepted today.
Her arrest is a strong signal to the international community that Australia will not tolerate torturers and criminals seeking refuge in Australia, and that Australia abides by its international obligations.
Rivas will now be put on trial in Chile, something that her victims were not afforded.
The names of the seven victims are: Victor Díaz, Fernando Navarro, Lincoyan Berrios, Horacio Cepeda, Juan Fernando Ortiz, Hector Veliz and Reinalda Pereira.
Brexit and DUP’s opposition to rights put unity referendum firmly on the agenda
By Rachel Coyle.
While the political establishment in Ireland is determined to downplay the need for an Irish unity referendum, it is plainly obvious that the appetite for such a poll is growing by the day. Besides the obvious major constitutional shift that Brexit will cause, the demand for a referendum is being fuelled by the clear lack of social progress in the north as well as Britain’s arrogant disinterest in a region it insists on keeping control of.
In this debate, people talk a lot about identity, but the supposed straightjackets of unionism and nationalism are becoming less relevant. Yes, we have seen more polarised electoral outcomes but I think that speaks more to the dysfunctional nature of the political institutions in the North, and the colonial relationship with a foreign unrepresentative parliament where all the major decisions are made.
The North is not British, and virtually no one in Britain would seriously argue that. British political parties are non-entities in the North for the most part. The lack of democracy is evident: no one in the North – unionist or otherwise – has ever been able to vote for their prime minister, while the North’s 18 MPs account for less than three per cent of the House of Commons.
In an all-island parliamentary system, based on the current ratio of seats to population, the North would hold about 58 out of 215 seats – 27 per cent of the Dáil. You can decide which is more democratic.
For many progressive activists, the ‘traditional’ identities are breaking down and the border is becoming invisible when it comes to social issues. There have been many inspiring examples of people working together, regardless of their supposed identity or which part of partitioned Ireland they come from, most importantly in the referendums on abortion and marriage equality.
Many progressives from the six counties flocked down to help our LGBT brothers and sisters seeking a fundamental right to marry and help our sisters access the healthcare so long denied by the Eighth Amendment. Activists from the northern trade union movement and other organisations arrived in buses to my own town of Carrickmacross to help last May. Some of them identified as Irish, some as British or Northern Irish. Never once did I ask, nor did I care.
During the celebrations after the Repeal victory people declared, completely organically, that “the North is next”. The DUP’s abuse of the petition of concern has kept the issues of marriage equality and other progressive demands off the political agenda for too long. It is no big mystery as to why they refuse to go back into power-sharing, having lost the ability to abuse the petition after losing their majority.
While unionists understandably have legitimate concerns about Irish unity, the South is not the theocracy it once was. Having turned into a backwater, without comparable rights to citizens in the South or Britain, the limits of the 1921 sectarian partition have become very apparent.
Identities can often be accidents of birth rather than something you think or feel. In the throes of globalisation and an economic and social system that promotes individualism to the detriment of our instincts and mental health, people feel less and less a part of any community. The conflating of religion in particular to one side or the other is also inflammatory and inaccurate. Being Protestant doesn’t automatically make you a unionist, or Catholic a nationalist.
Unfortunately, the language used when talking about communities, and ordinary working people, has not caught up to this reality. The media, particularly the BBC and RTÉ, has been good at creating division on this island, making Dublin feel as foreign as Brussels to people in the six counties.
I cannot imagine that the Jim Wells of this world represent the views of forward-thinking young people from a unionist background in the debate about future constitutional arrangements. Many unionist young people in the North have no natural political home, despite the minor gains of smaller parties like Alliance, the Greens, People Before Profit and others. None of these parties are outlining a vision beyond the suffocating confines of the northern statelet.
Intergenerational scaremongering means that Sinn Féin is untouchable politically to this section of the community. What Sinn Féin is saying might sound appealing but they very simply don’t believe it. Instead, many have been forced to look across to England to place their hope in the Corbyn Labour movement; interestingly, this is a movement that is anti-imperialist and Corbyn himself is a supporter of a peaceful united Ireland.
A unionist backlash?
The ratings-focused debates that have been held by the hostile media has led viewers in the South to believe that all unionists are bible-bashing, backward, ‘Never, Never, Never’ creatures who would much rather starve in their crumbling union than prosper under the harp. The reality is that many unionist people find the caricatures in the DUP to be laughable. This click-bait approach to the debate on Irish unity has given rise to a more conservative response from people in the South. I’ve heard people say, only half-jokingly, “build a wall and keep them lunatics up there”.
What progressives should understand is that, ironically, it will be the discussions that take place regarding protections for unionist people in a united Ireland to sustain peace that will spark a national conversation about rights, citizenship and democratic participation more generally. It is at this juncture that we have an opportunity to make gains for our wider demands.
Will there be a backlash against moves towards Irish unity? There may well be, but there will also be a backlash from Brexit, hard or soft. While the reactionary loyalist paramilitary groupings in the past had the capacity for serious life-threatening destruction, we have to keep in mind that this was aided and abetted by the British state. There is no evidence to suggest that stoking a war in the North is of any strategic benefit to anyone apart from those criminal elements who might use the chaos of perceived terrorism to undermine policing and distract from their own profiteering.
People on all sides have worked too hard to create and sustain peace and most young people don’t even remember the war.
Those most susceptible to violent reaction tend to come from the most impoverished backgrounds. With little to lose and having never benefited from the divvying up of the peace pie you can see how individuals seeking an expression for their personal oppression could be attracted to such activity. What I would say to those individuals if I could is that they should be focusing their attention on the real enemy.
Catholics, Protestants and dissenters are all victims of neoliberalism. This ideology has caused thousands of preventable deaths, forced people to suicide and condemned others to homelessness. Many experience unemployment, job insecurity and lack of access to healthcare, public transport and education. Neoliberalism doesn’t care about religion or nationality. In fact, this ideology has become so voracious that the once-comfortable middle classes are now plagued with its ills, with adult children still living at home due to astronomical rents and costs of living.
The best way to combat this is by acting collectively, uniting the people of our island. Doing this back-to-back is senseless. We are stronger together.
While a referendum will have to decide future constitutional arrangements, the debate on unity cannot be about one side winning or losing. This debate is not about a future for nationalists. Our aim is to build a fairer and more equal society for everyone, regardless of background. This island belongs to all of us regardless of what stamp is on the front of our passport.
From Irish Broad Left. Rachel Coyle is a political advisor for the Sinn Féin Midlands North West constituency and a member of the party’s Ard Chomhairle [National Executive].
Up to twenty thousand Indian students and their supporters from around the country took to the streets of Delhi on February 7, for the Young India Adhikar [Rights] March. The protest was organised by representatives of 60 different student organisations from campuses across the country, to protest the Modi government’s attacks on students and to demand the right to education and employment.
Green Left Weekly spoke to one of the march organisers, Kawalpreet Kaur. Kaur is a student at Delhi University and a representative of the All India Students Association (AISA), one of the organisations initiating the protest.
GLW: How did the Young India Adhikar March come together and what are its demands?
KK: Young India Adhikar means young India coming on the streets demanding their rights. The purpose behind organising this march was to send out a message to the government of India [in the lead up to the April-May 2019] central elections from the students and the youth of the entire country.
Behind this march there were around 60 different student organisation from all across India, some central universities, some state universities who came together under the one banner uniting for education and employment issues. So the main idea was to unite the entire youth and students on one single platform.
GLW: What were your demands?
KK: A Youth Charter was prepared by the Young India Coordinating Committee in coordination with the different constitute members. The Modi government came [to power] in 2014 riding on the promise of creating 2 Crore [20 million] jobs to the youth of the country per year. But after four and a half years in power, they have failed to provide jobs to constituents and the youth. The posts that are lying vacant in the [central and state public service] number 24 lakh [2.4 million]. But the government is not filling those vacancies, so our first demand is to fill these vacancies.
The other demand is that if [the Modi government] cannot give us employment, then they should provide us with a youth unemployment allowance of 18,000 rupees per month.
Since the government came to power, Universities have become a war zone in India. The government has been pushing its policies, anti student policies, commercialising the public sector education, selling it out to the private sector. Recently the government came up with the policy of providing financial autonomy to public institutions. Financial autonomy in a sense means that public institutions will have to raise their own funds and the government will no longer provide them with grants, [forcing them to borrow] from the private lenders, so pushing forward back-door privatisation.
So the main demand is that the government stop interfering in Universities, stop commercialising the public sector, also that it stop its crackdown on the Universities. We have seen that sedition charges were put on student leaders for questioning the government. Protecting academic freedom and saving Universities from the commercial policy onslaught were also immediate demands.
Another demand that was raised for the first time in India was that the government should write off all the education loans that they have forced students to take out in the same way they have written them off for the corporations. In India they have written off loans amounting to billions of rupees to corporates who have left the country without paying them back to the public sector banks. When student pass out [graduate] they don’t have jobs, so they can’t pay the loan back.
Another demand was for an end to the discrimination in Indian Universities and society and we demand that the government must pass the Rohit Act. The Rohit Act is named because of the death of our comrade Rohit Vemula, who committed suicide two or three years back. [Rohit Vemula was a Dalit student at Hyderabad University who was a victim of caste discrimination there.]
The government should protect students from caste discrimination and end the discriminatory guidelines that are institutionalised on campuses in the form of curfews for women. In our hostels [student accommodation] women have been fighting against these curfews that dictate that you can’t go outside your hostel after 8pm. These curfews do not apply to men [and] are the result of patriarchal thinking in Indian society. So this was also a major demand, so that women can gain back the spaces, they can go outside, they can be on a par with male hostellers.
GLW: Did you have support from other sectors?
KK: Yes, even the faculty were also out on the streets. Professors, faculty, teachers associations were giving their support as well as civil society organisations. Even Arundati Roy gave us support. So we had civil society rights activists, kisan [peasant] activists – all extended their support.
Even the parents of many students and the youth are extending their support because they have begun to realise that it is extremely important right now to save the whole idea of the University and the idea behind public education.
GLW: What would you say in general are the attitudes of young people in India towards the Modi government?
KK: In 2014 the students and youth were very hopeful, so many students and youth voted for the government and in support of Modi, not realising that behind the whole apparatus of Modi was a big fascist organisation working, which is the RSS. In 2014, Modi mobilised in a manner and ensured his entire campaign was projected as pro-development, pro-youth, pro-jobs, pro-people in general. So people were very hopeful and the students and youth specifically.
If you are asking me the question now, after entire four and a half years - I would say the mood has entirely changed in the country. Now the students have started realising that they were made a mockery of. They are the ones realising how democratic institutions are being compromised under this government. They are realising that the spaces of free thinking, where you could debate, or you could argue -- the Universities -- are also under tremendous attack because the government doesn’t want the youth to think, to question, to reason. Many of the people who voted for Modi in 2014 are not going to vote for him in 2019.
The major factor behind it is that the government failed to deliver on a single promise. On jobs, India is facing a major crisis right now. Even the jobs that we have right now in the public sector and in the unorganised sector are not dignified jobs. The quality of the jobs has shrunk. The number of jobs has shrunk... In 2018 the number of jobs was the lowest in forty-five years [according to the latest data]. The students and the youth have started realising this.
From 2014 to 2019 the mood has shifted hugely so now there is a lot of anger among students and youth. Even among those youth who don’t belong to the left, who don’t really subscribe to a left background or don’t really participate in any protests, who are not activists. The mood has shifted in those general students and people in general to say, ‘Look, this government has to go’, because it is extremely anti student. The government has been extremely repressive against the students and youth.
Operation Chaos: The Vietnam Deserters Who Fought the CIA, the Brainwashers & Each Other
Picador, 2018, 351 pages
When a group of American GIs in Vietnam deserted in 1968 and “joined a movement that wanted to bring that conflict to an end and build a more just and equitable world”, only to “then meet Lyndon LaRouche and kiss reality goodbye”, their idealistic revolt descended into the “batshit crazy” politics of one of the weirdest cults of all time, says Matthew Sweet, writer and BBC broadcaster, in Operation Chaos.
The soldiers’ individual acts of rebellion became collective and political when, having found asylum in Sweden, they joined the American Deserters Committee (ADC), an anti-war movement which organised the thousand or so military refuseniks and draft resisters exiled in Stockholm.
One undercover CIA operative who infiltrated the ADC reported on the political threat they posed — “they found it impossible to kill; were pacifists; believed that war in general was immoral and that American participation in the war in Vietnam was illegal”. Alarmingly, they were forging links with European revolutionary groups.
The more politically-minded leaders gave the ADC its radical heft, including gatecrashing a dinner party at the US Embassy in Stockholm, producing the Second Front newspaper for enlisted men stationed in US military bases in West Germany, doing radio broadcasts for troops in Vietnam encouraging them to desert, and giving lively press interviews (including charging fees to newspapers “which were not sufficiently radical”).
The CIA’s appropriately named Operation Chaos sought to disrupt the ADC through agents provocateurs. They also sought to cajole and intimidate deserters to desert from the ADC itself and become informers in return for avoiding court-martial, hard-labour jail-time and career-destroying dishonourable discharge.
The mere knowledge that CIA surveillance was present was enough to sow corrosive suspicion and discord amongst the deserters.
The CIA worsened the latent internal stresses of the ADC as it split into sectarian grouplets over political differences. This dissolution gained momentum as the broader revolutionary tide, powered by opposition to a winding down Vietnam War, began to recede. As it did so, some bizarre, mutant political life-forms were left in its wake.
None was weirder than the innocuously-sounding National Caucus of Labor Committees, better known as “LaRouchites”, after their leader, Lyndon LaRouche, who died on February 12 aged 96.
LaRouche was an intelligent psychopath, a one-time (highly peculiar) member of the US Trotskyist Socialist Workers Party, eight-time US Presidential candidate and purveyor of magnificently eccentric conspiracy theories.
LaRouche’s nutty concoctions about secret global cabals seeking genocidal world domination have inducted many actors, including both the KGB and CIA. The Beatles, orchestrated by the philosopher Bertrand Russell, were a British tool of psychological warfare despatched to the US to ruin American youth.
Radical academic Noam Chomsky is in on it, too (he is a NATO agent, in case you’re wondering). Former centre-left Prime Minister of Sweden, Olof Palme, was an axe-murderer ripe for assassination.
The current mastermind of the whole conspiracy is Queen Elizabeth II, who controls the world’s illegal drug trade and has mustered an army of zombie assassins, brainwashed by the CIA (or KGB — it’s hard to keep up) to launch World War III.
The LaRouchites’ political interventions have notoriously included their 1973 “Operation Mop-Up”, in which the LaRouchites would achieve political dominance by neutralising the left competition, starting by “literally pulverising” the US Communist Party.
To counter the CP, LaRouchite goons used martial arts, knuckledusters and clubs in a “carnival of violence and disruption” against party members (irony was not the “anti-Stalinist” LaRouchites’ strong suit).
Another of the LaRouchites’ targets were its members who had joined from the ADC, which a paranoid LaRouche had come to see as a CIA front. The ADC recruits were the focus for LaRouche’s rule-by-terror, which “deprogrammed” the CIA-brainwashed deserters through sadistic behaviour modification techniques, including non-stop Beethoven turned up to the max.
Fear also drove the LaRouchites’ fund-raising, in which members defrauded the public through cold-calling. Failure to meet their daily target would result in the psychological and physical abuse of all-night “ego-stripping” sessions, a technique LaRouche adopted from one Maoist strand of the ADC.
Despite the unsavoury political history of the LaRouchites and their barmy leader, they continue to find an audience by hiding their kookier side behind a bastardised quasi-Marxist jargon and a radical conservatism.
Their likes (Vladimir Putin, all things nuclear, Donald Trump) and dislikes (finance capital, environmentalism, Donald Trump) are all over the ideological shop, but tilt clearly to the right.
Their origins remain cloudy — the ex-CIA renegade, Philip Agee, regarded the LaRouchites as a CIA operation from the start, masquerading as leftist in order to divide and discredit the left.
What the LaRouchites do offer to an eccentric but sometimes influential few is a magic circle of LaRouchite wisdom and its entrance ticket to a select élite of LaRouchite philosopher-kings-in-waiting. Fear of expulsion from the group helps to keep its members faithful.
This factor was particularly pronounced amongst the handful of deserters whose “persistent presence” throughout LaRouchite history was born of the loyalty of some young, ill-educated men, who went into a monstrous war, or came out of it, with behavioural or psychological problems. They found themselves, as deserters, stranded from their families, their country and its institutions, and were given a new home in the LaRouchite fold.
It is a mournful tale but Matthew Sweet’s narrative angle turns a sad little LaRouchian postscript of a small number of deserters into a major chapter of sixties political radicalism. Sweet’s focus on the LaRouchites and their deserter members foregrounds a noisy but aberrant and marginal political fringe, greying out the broader anti-war and revolutionary movements of the era.
The US military deserters deserve to be remembered, not for their exotic and lamentable LaRouchian end, but for their heroic role in helping to stop a grotesque war.
Aboriginal children are currently being removed at five times the rate they were in 1997, the year when the Bringing Them Home report was brought down by the National Inquiry into the Separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children from Their Families.
The Gladys Berejiklian state Coalition government recently passed laws that will increase the rate of these forced removals in NSW.
Speaking at a rally on the anniversary of former prime minister Kevin Rudd's apology for the Stolen Generations, February 13, Grandmothers Against Removals (GMAR) founder Auntie Hazel Collins said these forced removals, which had been going on since the British invasion of this continent, amounted to genocide.
Campaigners for gay, lesbian and transgender rights have urged a boycott of this year’s Eurovision Song Contest in Tel Aviv in May.
More than 60 LGBTI groups from around the world have joined a new call to demonstrate solidarity with Palestinians. In a statement, the groups accuse Israel of “shamelessly using the Eurovision competition” to distract from war crimes.
The organisation alQaws for Sexual and Gender Diversity in Palestinian Society contends that Israel is engaged in pinkwashing — the cynical use of LGBTI rights by states and corporations to downplay their negative activities.
Haneen Maikey, director of alQaws, said that “Israel is using Eurovision as pop culture diplomacy” and is seeking to “exploit” the competition’s LGBTI fans.
Maikey alleged that Israel was “feigning support for gay rights while it incarcerates millions of indigenous Palestinians in bantustans”.
The statement supported by LGBTI groups argues that “resonances” can be found between the police and military violence encountered by Palestinians and that inflicted on gay and lesbian activists. A 1969 police raid on the Stonewall Inn in New York and the riots which ensued are widely viewed as key events in the history of the LGBTI liberation movement.
Despite projecting a progressive image, Israel has denied equal rights between heterosexual and same-sex couples. Israel is also known to have placed LGBTI Palestinians under surveillance and attempted to blackmail them into informing on fellow Palestinians.
Israel’s Netta Barzilai won the 2018 Eurovision in Lisbon with the supposed female empowerment pop song “Toy”. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded with a direct phone call to the winner that evening, during which he told Barzilai that she was “the best ambassador” for the country.
The following morning, Netanyahu described the win as a “gift”. Two days after her win, Barzilai gave a performance in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square.
Hours earlier, Israeli soldiers carried out a massacre during the Great March of Return in Gaza. It was the deadliest day since Israel’s 50-day assault on Gaza in 2014.
Barzilai was part of the Israeli navy in 2014 and reportedly performed a song for colleagues who took part in the attack on Gaza.
Since then, she has appeared at numerous Israeli-sponsored events, including Tel Aviv Pride.
LGBTI campaigners are seeking a boycott of the 2019 Tel Aviv Pride, as well as the Eurovision.
“Tel Aviv Pride is not like other pride marches,” Maikey said. “It is an exercise in pinkwashing, closely linked to the Israeli government and part of its official, well-oiled Brand Israel propaganda strategy to turn gay travelers into a cast of extras in its staged fictional show of tolerance.”
Barzilai gave an interview to the Associated Press year, in which she said “Israel is amazing” but “we have such bad PR in the world”.
In an attempt to shore up support for Eurovision, Barzilai undertook a tour in November. She was met with protests and low turnouts.
Her first stop was Vienna, where she played to an audience of only 100, while a scheduled show in Zurich was canceled due to a reported lack of interest.
Similarly, only a small number came to see her in Berlin, where she appeared at a venue which can accommodate an audience of 500.
A particularly large protest was held in London, when Barzilai played the gay club Heaven.
Human rights supporters have stepped up their activity as Eurovision — to take place in May — draws near. Last month, demonstrators in Paris stormed the stage at an event to draw up a shortlist for who should represent France at Eurovision.
The campaign to boycott this year’s Eurovision has attracted much support in Ireland — which has won the contest a record seven times.
The Dublin broadcasting branch of the National Union of Journalists has recently discussed Eurovision. It has offered support for journalists with a conscientious objection to covering the contest.
The branch’s decision follows a commitment given by management at RTE, the Irish broadcaster, that no member of staff will be punished for refusing to travel to Tel Aviv.
And recently, 50 British artists called on the BBC not to broadcast the 2019 Eurovision.
A letter published in The Guardian states that “Eurovision may be light entertainment but it is not exempt from human rights considerations – and we cannot ignore Israel’s systematic violation of Palestinian human rights.”
Among those who signed the letter were the musicians Peter Gabriel and Roger Waters, the director Ken Loach and the fashion designer Vivienne Westwood.
“The spontaneous, vibrant outpouring of support for the Palestinian call to boycott Eurovision in Israel gives us hope,” said Haneen Maikey from alQaws. “Israel’s ‘brand’ is tarnished and its true face as an apartheid and colonial regime is increasingly being revealed to the world.”