MONTEVIDEO: Latin America’s leaders are among the most vehement in condemning Israel’s Gaza offensive – labeling the Jewish state “terrorist,” recalling ambassadors, and offering near-unanimous, unwavering support to Palestinians.
Latin American leaders
“I can’t remember another similar situation where [all the countries in the region] have reacted practically as a bloc,” said political scientist Reginaldo Nasser, a professor at the Pontifical University in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
One of the most symbolic recent developments came from Bolivian President Evo Morales – one of the leaders of Latin America’s far left – who put Israel on its list of “Terrorist States” and eliminated a visa waiver program for Israeli citizens.
Nearly 1,500 Palestinians have been killed and 8,000 injured, two-thirds of them civilians, in Gaza in 24 days of fighting between Hamas and Israel. More than 245 of the dead Palestinians were children, UNICEF has said.
Brazil President Dilma Rousseff this week called the Israeli military operation a “massacre.”
Tensions between the two countries had already escalated a week earlier, when Brazil recalled its envoy from Tel Aviv, a move that prompted Israel’s Foreign Ministry spokesman to call the Latin American powerhouse a “diplomatic dwarf.”
Rousseff’s condemnation did not go as far as some of her peers. Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro denounced “a war of extermination that has lasted nearly a century” against the Palestinian people. A lawmaker from his party used the term “genocide” – a term rejected by Rousseff.
Peru, Ecuador, Chile, and El Salvador have also recalled their ambassadors for consultations, while Costa Rica and Argentina, which have the largest Jewish populations in the region, called the Israeli ambassador for meetings at their foreign ministries.
The region has universally condemned the violence from Israeli military operations, urged a ceasefire and the resumption of negotiations between the two sides.
Uruguay President Jose Mujica asked Thursday for “an immediate withdrawal” of Israeli troops from Gaza and suggested it may also recall its envoy in Tel Aviv.
Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor expressed “deep disappointment” over the recalls, saying they constituted “encouragement for Hamas, a group recognized as a terror organization by many countries around the world.”
Other politically leftist Latin American countries had years earlier broken diplomatic relations with Israel, including Nicaragua in 2010, Venezuela and Bolivia in 2009, after a previous military campaign in Gaza, and Cuba, in 1973, after the Yom Kippur War.
The only somewhat dissonant voice has come from Colombia, where the center-right President Juan Manuel Santos has rejected calls to recall his diplomatic representative in Tel Aviv.
Political scientist Nasser, himself surprised by the nearly unanimous condemnation of Israel, suggested several reasons. “In the first place, a country today making a declaration against Israel is no longer considered outside international norms.”
There is also a link to anti-American sentiments, Nasser said, as a result of Israel’s especially close diplomatic relationship to the United States.
But official moves have also reflected public anger at the war, said political scientist Ithai Bras, of the Autonomous University of Mexico.
In recent weeks, several protests across the region, from Mexico to southern Chile, have seen thousands of Latin Americans take to the streets in support of Palestinians.
These pro-Palestinian protests have been larger in Europe and Latin America than in Arab countries, Nasser noted, suggesting the issue speaks to concerns over asymmetrical relations.
Bras said the protests are “an identification with pain, a sentiment of solidarity with what is happening in Latin America,” where feelings of oppression are widespread.
Arnoldo Kraus, a surgeon and columnist in Mexican newspaper El Universal, summed up many Latin Americans’ views on Israel-Palestine when he condemned Hamas but described Israel’s treatment of the Arabs as “racist” and the Jewish settlements on Palestinian land as “nauseating.”
He added: “The pictures of dead children horrify. … It’s impossible not to feel compassion for the suffering of the Palestinians and disdain towards the Israeli army.”
After a UN-run school which housed over 3,000 Palestinian civilians was struck by Israel, Bolivia’s Evo Morales, the UN’s Ban Ki-Moon, and the UN spokesperson have had enough.
A Palestinian boy cries while receiving treatment from injuries caused by an Israeli strike at a U.N. school in Jebaliya refugee camp, at the Kamal Adwan hospital in Beit Lahiya, northern Gaza Strip, Wednesday, July 30, 2014. A Palestinian health official says 13 people were killed after tank shells hit the U.N. school in Gaza where hundreds of Palestinians had taken refuge from Israeli attacks. Adnan Abu Hasna, a spokesman for a U.N. aid agency, says tank shells hit the school around 4:30 a.m.
This week, Bolivia declared Israel a “terrorist state” while renouncing a visa exemption agreement with Israel in protest over the ongoing Israeli military offense Operation Protective Edge in Gaza which has killed more than 1,300 Palestinians and has left over 7,000 wounded, most of which have been women and children.
Bolivian President Evo Morales cancelled the 1972 agreement which allowed Israelis to travel freely to Bolivia saying, “means, in other words, we are declaring (Israel) a terrorist state.”
Morales explained to Bolivian citizens that Operation Protective edge is a clear indication that “Israel is not a guarantor of the principles of respect for life and the elementary precepts of rights that govern the peaceful and harmonious coexistence of our international community.”
According to RT, the announcement came after a cabinet meeting of the government of Evo Morales which decided, “The Bolivian state and people have made a firm decision to terminate the agreement on visas to Israel, from August 17, 1972, signed under a regime of dictatorship in Bolivia and that allowed Israeli citizens to enter Bolivia freely without even entry visa.”
Earlier in July though, Morales filed a request with the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to prosecute Israel for “crimes against humanity” for it’s siege on Gaza, occupation of Palestinian territories and targeting of civilians.
Other Latin American countries including Chile, Brazil, Peru, Ecuador and El Salvador recalled their ambassadors in Israel this week for consultations due to the increased violence in the Gaza Strip against civilians.
Just this week, Israel struck a UN School in Gaza, leaving at least 20 dead, mostly children. This horrific incident has brought worldwide condemnation especially a twitter storm condemning the targeting of schools and children.
United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon condemned the deadly attack by Israel against the UN school in the besieged Gaza Strip.
“It is outrageous. It is unjustifiable. And it demands accountability and justice,” said the UN chief in Costa Rica on Wednesday.
In a video that has gone viral, a spokesman for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), which provides aid to Palestinians in Gaza, broke down in tears during a TV interview with Al Jazeera in the aftermath of Wednesday’s fatal attack on the UN-run school, used as shelter for families and children.
Chris Gunness, a spokesman for the UNRWA, was unable to hold in his tears and trauma on air. “The rights of Palestinians, even their children, are wholesale denied,” he official said before breaking down sobbing in front of the camera.
“There are times when tears speak more eloquently than words. Mine pale into insignificance compared with Gaza’s,” Gunness said, as cited by Reuters.
The UN’s tone criticizing Israel has intensified indicating a shift in rhetoric and possibly accountability for Israel over it’s major civilian deaths, where many have referred to as a “massacre” or “slow genocide”.
Bolivia’s President Morales, has become outspoken over human rights abuses across the world supporting indigenous populations, and criticizing imperialistic meddling in foreign nations.
” I’m amazed at the shameless hypocritical stance of Arab puppet rulers and the heroic stance of the great Latin American leaders against oppression..probably because the latter people have tasted oppression and exploitation for centuries at the hands of imperialists and today, the corporate thugs..
And the former knows only servitude to the imperialist thugs and yet, they are proud of it…”
A MUST WATCH..
Yvonne Ridley (born 23 April 1958) is a British journalist and Respect Party activist best known for her capture by the Taliban and subsequent conversion to Islam after release. Yvonne Ridley has, among others, worked for Press TV news channel.
Yvonne Ridley attended the London College of Printing. As a journalist, she has written for The Sunday Times, The Independent on Sunday, The Observer, The Mirror and the News of the World. She was deputy editor of Wales on Sunday and was chief reporter when the Sunday Express sent her to Afghanistan after 9/11 event.
She has also delivered lectures on issues relating to Iraq, Israel, Afghanistan, Chechnya, Kashmir and Uzbekistan, Women in Islam, the War on Terror and journalism at universities across the United States of America, Australia, South Africa and the Middle East. She has written two books called In The Hands of the Taliban and Ticket to Paradise.
Yvonne Ridley is a patron of the UK-based pressure groups Cage-prisoners, the European President of the International Muslim Women’s Union and the Vice President of the European Muslim League based in Milan and Geneva. She is a member of the Stop the War Coalition, at whose rallies she has spoken, and the Respect Party, for whom she has stood in parliamentary elections.
Yvonne Ridley : “… They were bombing and decimating the population for reasons only known to the USA and its Allies. The poor Taliban had no idea why America wished to invade Afghanistan. They had heard of this as a ‘mishap’ but had no idea of the enormity of the tragedy. They did not know of the complexity of the buildings and people jumping out of towers 100 stories high, as they did not have TV’s nor did they know a tower when they were told about it…”
BE INSPIRED, AS YVONNE RIDLEY, A PASSIONATE BRITISH JOURNALIST, DESCRIBES THE STORY OF HOW SHE WAS HELD CAPTIVE BY TALIBAN SOLDIERS IN AFGHANISTAN.
INTIMIDATED BY THEIR PRESENCE, SHE PERSISTED WITH GREAT FIGHTING ZEAL TO RETURN HOME TO HER AWAITING FAMILY. SIT WITH HER IN INTERROGATIONS, WAR TORN AFGHAN JAIL FACILITIES AND THEN SHED TEARS OF SORROW AND JOY AS THIS TOUCHING STORY UNFOLDS. JOIN HER AS SHE CHALLENGES TALIBAN SOLDIERS AND FALSELY LABELED “TERRORISTS”; ONLY TO LATER FALL IN LOVE WITH THEIR CHARACTER, MORALITY, FAITH, COMPASSION, RESPECT AND WAY OF LIFE.
INDULGE YOURSELF IN AN UNTAINTED DEPICTION OF THE TRUE STORY OF AFGHANISTAN AND THE REAL WAR ON TERROR – IN THE EYES OF A WESTERN BORN JOURNALIST WHO WAS IN SEARCH OF THE TRUTH, AND FOUND IT, IN ISLAM… “IN THE HANDS OF THE TALIBAN.”
By Latheef Farook
The alliance between anti Muslim Sri Lankan racist outfit Bodu Bala Sena and Burma’s blood thirsty Buddhist Monk Ashin Wiruthu, responsible for slaughtering thousands of Myanmar’s Rohingya Muslims, spells disaster for the island.
This extremely dangerous alliance, brought together by their common hatred towards Islam and Muslims, perhaps trained and financed by their new found Israel and United States friends , has all the ingredients to turn the island into a killing field from which it may unlikely to recover for decades to come under the existing local and global political environment.
This unholy alliance fits into the Zionist sponsored and United States led global anti Muslim campaign to justify the invasion and destruction of Muslim countries. This is the reason why the Muslims suspect the hate mongers as mercenaries of foreign forces.
The growing fear among the island’s besieged Muslim community is that “BBS-Asin Wirathu Alliance” may lead to a Rohingya type attack on the island’s Muslims.
Already the Sinhalese extremists led by Jathika Hela Urumaya and what is perceived as its fronts such as BBS, Sihala Ravaya and Ravana Balakaya managed to poison the minds of Sinhalese against Muslims to justify such an attack on Muslims. In fact JHU’s Udaya Gammanpila even stated once that “a 1915 type Sinhala-Muslim riot is inevitable”.
It appears this hate campaign unleashed during the past two and half years had already dented the centuries old traditional harmonious relations between Sinhalese and Muslims.
However there are signs of hope for the island. Responsible elements among the Sinhalese started waking up to the threat posed by these extremists to their society. Many admit that extremists have already caused considerable damage to the image of Buddhism and the Sinhalese community.
On the other hand the Muslims begin to realize that this is not a conflict between Sinhalese and Muslims, but the work of few hundreds of extremists who do not represent the Sinhalese community as they claim. It was under this atmosphere that the BBS leaders met Myanmar’s Monk Ashin Wirathu, described by Time magazine as the “Monk of Terror”.
Local mainstream media which usually give wide publicity to Sinhalese extremists and help promote their agendas were quiet. However breaking the news website COLOMBO Telegraph stated on 12 March 2014 under the headline ‘Buddhist Bin Laden’ To Visit Sri Lanka: “We’ve Not Signed Any Agreement with 969 Movement”: BBS
“We have not signed any agreement with Burma’s Buddhist monk Ashin Wirathu or the 969 movement”, the Chief Executive Officer of the Bodu Bala Sena Dilanthe Withanage told Colombo Telegraph. He said the caption of the photograph, which is circulating via social media saying “the BBS has come to an agreement with Burma’s terrorist 969 movements”, is a slander. “This picture was taken while our secretary Ven. Galagoda Atte Gnanasara signing the visitors’ book.” he said. Ashin Wiruthu, widely known as the Burma’s ‘Bin Laden of Buddhism’ has been invited to Sri Lanka.
Nine days later on 21 March 2014 Ceylon Today published a report by Ruwan Laknath Jayakody under the headline”BBS invites Ashin Wirathu Thera to visit SL “
The man that Time Magazine dubbed ‘The Face of Buddhist Terror,’ Leader of the 969 Movement in Myanmar, who is notorious for his anti-Islam rhetoric, Ven. Ashin Wirathu Thera, will be arriving in the island on an invitation by the Bodu Bala Sena (BBS).
BBS General Secretary, Ven. Galagoda Aththe Gnanasara Thera said, “There is no need for a hullabaloo yet. We will let the relevant people know in due course. We have invited him and he will come and we will have a meeting. That is all. The media does not need to know for how long he will stay here. We will plan it and reveal it at the appropriate time.” BBS Education and Research Unit Chief Coordinator, Chamila Liyanage, said, “Even though the dates are not confirmed yet, he is definitely coming.
“Buddhist countries in the Asiatic region are facing difficulties and even violence from the Muslims and the other religions in the region. The best example comes from Thailand, Myanmar and Bangladesh. This is the very reason why Ven. Wirathu decided to start the 969 Movement in Myanmar. We visited Thailand and Myanmar and we will be visiting other countries in East Asia. We will definitely be starting an international network with global reach with likeminded Buddhist civil society institutions, Buddhist scholars and Buddhist activist organizations in these countries. With Ven. Wirathu Thera we will be discussing strategic plans for at least a regional network for the time being, for which we need a concrete plan,” he added.
These reports disturb specially Muslims.
Ashin Wirathu, leader of the anti-Muslim movement in Burma, has been a “notorious chauvinist”. In its cover story the TIME magazine described Ashin Wirathu: The Monk behind Burma’s “Buddhist Terror”. His apartheid-like speech stirred shocked reaction on Twitter, with users calling the monk a “neo-Nazi” inciting anti-Muslim pogroms in Burma.
His 969 Anti Muslim organization, together with the Myanmar armed forces, killed thousands of Muslim men, women, children and the aged, burnt Muslim localities and indiscriminately raped Muslim women besides looting Muslim properties and belongings. They threw bodies of hundreds of Muslims killed into the Bay of Bengal and covered the dead bodies with clothes usually worn by Buddhists and claimed that they are the remains of Buddhist people who became victims.
It is this Ashin Wirathu whom the BBS is inviting to Sri Lanka. This is like inviting Hitler, Mussolini, Ariel Sharon or Menachem Begin,
Sri Lanka is not Myanmar. Myanmar is a country which lived in isolation for decades. It was cut away from the world. However Sri Lanka has a long history of civilization and played a dynamic role in the Third World affairs and earned a name for itself.
Muslim world has traditionally been friendly with Sri Lanka.
Our economy is tied to many Muslim countries. Almost a million Sri Lankans are employed in the Gulf States and their annual remittance exceeds six billion dollars. This brings relief to millions of families. In fact employment opportunities abroad have become the largest foreign exchange earner to the island.
Muslim countries always came to rescue Sri Lanka in times of crisis. For example in the United Nations sponsored United Nations Human Rights Council resolution on March 27 in Geneva calling for a comprehensive investigation into alleged serious violations and abuses of human rights, committed by both parties in Sri Lanka, of the 12 countries voted against five were Muslim countries. This included Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Algeria and Maldives If not for these five Muslim countries Sri Lanka would have got only seven votes. Four out of 12 countries abstained were Muslims and no Muslim country voted for the resolution in the 47-member UNHRC
Do the Sinhalese extremists who have unleashed an unwanted destructive campaign against Muslims understand the seriousness of their madness?
Burning Muslim villages
Muslim families thrown out of their homes
Body of a Muslim child burnt and another child throat cut