It's likely that Congress will vote next week on whether to authorize the use of military force in Syria. While we believe that all perpetrators of the use of chemical weapons (including the US government) should be held accountable and brought to justice, we know that an act of war is not the answer.
US military action will not stop the killing and we in the US must work now to reach out to our Congressmembers to let them know how we feel, urging them to vote no on the authorization of US military force against Syria. We at WRL support revolutionary forces in Syria acting against state violence, outside intervention, and extremism.
We have an important opportunity right now: the majority of the people of the US are against intervention and Congress is on the fence. Take a minute to contact your Congress person about your opposition to US military involvement in Syria. Your voice will make a difference!
Pledge your support for this statement created by members of the Global Network Against Tear Gas
Tear Gas and related chemical weapons are commonly used as tools of state repression and torture against people's movements and true democracy. They are used alongside other tools of torture (sometimes including live ammunition) by increasingly militarized police and correctional officers throughout the world.
In 1993 the Chemical Weapons Convention declared that tear gas and pepper spray may not be used as a "method of warfare" and should only be used by police forces for "law enforcement including domestic riot control purposes." Voices of movements all over the world however, backed by reputable studies, state that police use in effect has declared a war on the people. For this reason, the state's use of these chemical weapons must end.
Though marketed as an alternative to "conventional" lethal weapons, tear gas and pepper spray regularly cause serious harm and even kill, making them part and parcel of the global weapons regime as a whole. They are part of a broader process of the increasing militarization of local police and prisons -- where police forces look more and more like soldiers and the use of military weapons is financially incentivized by governments. Promoted to "control crowds" and people organizing in prison and in the streets, these chemical weapons are just the tip of the iceberg, and working to end their use is a step to put a stop to state repression as a whole.
In addition to many other places outside of this growing global network as well as those who have already joined the campaign, tear gas use has been central in dispersing and suppressing movements for true democracy. Testimonies reveal again and again that tear gas and related chemical weapons serve to disrupt the alternatives that movements are striving to build.
United States-based manufactures of chemical weapons (including AMTEC, CSI,Defense Technology, NonLethal Technologies, and Sage, just to name a few) as well as the local and federal processes that rubber stamp their transfer to US police departments, prisons and police forces worldwide, allow for financial profit in the millions every year from this repression.
From expensive weekly weapons trainings offered to law enforcement and security personnel across the US, to lucrative deals with repressive regimes in every corner of the globe, US companies join other major global manufacturers, such as Condor in Brazil and Dae Kwangin South Korea, in repression profiteering and should be held responsible for their role in silencing the voices of countless uprisings and the world's incarcerated.
Tear gas and other chemical munitions are part of the state's arsonal of weapons of war on the people. For communities struggling against state repression, they know that "the war" has long ago come home and that US-based and multi-national companies are profitting from suppressing dissent and democracy. The moment to end war and repression is now.
The Egypt Independent newspaper leaked documents on Friday, February 22, 2013 that provided details for a shipmentof 140,000 canisters of US-made tear gas, costing roughly $2.5 million, to the Ministry of the Interior in Egypt.
The US manufacturer named in the transaction is Combined Systems Incorporated, based in Jamestown, PA, whose chemical weapons have also been used against people in Palestine (CSI at one time flew the Israeli flag outside of its Jamestown headquarters) and are responsible for the death and injury of many Palestinians and their allies, including Palestinian activists Mustafa Tamimi, Jawaher Abu Rahmah, and Bassem Abu Rahmah. Isreal recently procured $27 million of new "crowd dispersal" equipment, which will likely also add to CSI's coffers. In addition to Egypt and Israel, CSI has also sold to the governments of Yemen, Guatemala, Tunisia, and Mexico, and CSI tear gas is used by police departments and SWAT teams across the US.
The Egyptian government has stated that they need this shipment of tear gas to repress street protests throughout Egypt, as the police continue to use chemical weapons against people on a near-daily basis, in an attempt to shut down their expression of dissent to the ruling Morsi government. More and more, Egyptians have been linking Morsi's presidency to that of their former dictator, Hosni Mubarak, noting the ongoing state repression under Morsi, including the practice of torture, corruption, and police brutality, evidenced by the near-daily rain of tear gas and live ammunition on the streets.
In spite of this, the US State Department has rubber stamped the sale and shipment of US tear gas to Egypt. An Egyptian Ministry of the Interior memo that was among the leaked documents also stated that the US State Department wouldn't agree to the sale unless the company labels that reveal the country of origin were removed. The State Department has denied this claim.
Add your name to this petition to Secretary of State John Kerry, to call for US government accountability for their ongoing support for state repression in Egypt and elsewhere within, at, and outside of US borders.
Tear gas is a dangerous weapon of war on people's movements! Take action and tell the US government that you do not support state repression anywhere and that CSI's export license must be revoked.
War Resisters League is joining forces with US Campaign to End the Occupation to call for the end of the use of tear gas against people and movements. Tear gas has been used as a chemical weapon against nonviolent protestors globally and against poor people and people of color in the US as a form of "crowd control," causing accute physical reactions like burning of the eyes, coughing, trouble breathing, and sometimes vomiting, and has been associated with long-term health risks. It also has the desired effect of dispersing crowds that have come together in protest, as we've seen tear gas used to clear countless public gatherings during the Arab Spring uprisings. Also, during the regular protests in the Occupied Territories, tear gas has been used by the Israeli military consistently and high-velocity tear gas canisters are shot into crowds of demonstrators at close range. This practice killed Mustafa Tamimi in December of last year. Tamimi's story appears via his friend on the Facing Tear Gas Tumblr.
Take a moment to send a message to your members of Congress along with people all over the country, letting them know that this practice along with the many other human rights abuses perpetrated each year by Israel, the largest recipient of US military aid, against Palestinians and their allies should not be tolerated by the US and is in violation of the US's own laws on arms export and military aid.
Senator John McCain wants to keep us from bringing military spending under control.
Don’t let him do it.
Under last year’s deficit deal, military and domestic programs are supposed to be cut equally over the next ten years. The Pentagon has barely been nicked. Its budget will shrink for one year, then start growing again. But domestic programs have suffered massive cuts.
Now McCain wants to stop the clock, suspend next year’s cuts, and establish the principle that military spending cannot be touched.
If they succeed, we’re cooked. The Pentagon will keep growing and eating up more of the federal budget. There is no way we can recover from the recession if we don’t cut military spending and shift hundreds of billions of dollars to the jobs and services we need in our communities.
The hawks are drawing a clear line. It’s the Pentagon or us. Let’s help Congress make the right choice.
Please take a minute to write your Senators and Representatives. Tell them to speak out for real Pentagon cuts and real domestic spending increases.
And please forward this to everyone you can. Together we can win this one. Almost half of Americans say we can cut military spending safely. Let’s get that message to Congress and into the media.
On Sunday, Congress will be discussing the deficit, and as you have probably heard, Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare are facing drastic cuts that will affect millions of people who rely on these programs. Of course neither slashing the astronomical military budget nor imosing tax cuts on corporations and millionaires is on the table. But a debt deal can't be made without Congress, so we have a chance to shift the discussion, if you take action right now:
Please quickly tell your Representative that when it comes to reducing the deficit, they need to start by slashing military spending and ending the wars, and taxing the rich. Urge them not to cut programs that are a vital part of our social safety net.
Austerity cuts continue to decimate our schools and public programs. Millions have lost their homes and jobs. But Congress is poised to pass the Defense Appropriations Bill giving $530 billion to the Department of Defense and alotting $119 billion to continue the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan for the fiscal year 2012.
Thankfully the Congressional Progressive Caucus has put out an excellent alternative 10-year budget plan that proposes meaningful cuts to the military, increased taxes for the rich, and much needed domestic spending.
Please urge your congressional representative to support the CPC's People's Budget and vote no on the Defense Appropriations Bill. Tell them it's time to end these wars and help re-direct our tax-dollars back into our communities where they're truly needed!
As Iraqis continue to organize and protest against the ongoing US occupation and the Maliki regime, and are gearing up to launch open-ended sit-ins all over Iraq on June 7th, Maliki's forces have seriously stepped up their repression.
In the last week alone, Iraqi Human Rights organizations and groups like 'The Great Iraqi Revolution' have documented dozens of house raids and arrests of anti-occpuation and pro-democracy activists. These have included prominent youth leaders Ahmed Alaa al Baghdadi, Jihad Jalil Ibrahim, Muayyad Faisal al-Tayeb and Ali Abdul Khaliq al Jaf, who according to Amnesty International are being held in Baghdad's al-Muthana airbase prison, as well as 12 women activists in the northern city of Mosul. Anyone familiar with Iraq's massive prison complex knows well that detainment there often means brutal torture.
Take action to write the Iraqi ambassador to US and Secratary of State Hilary Clinton and demand that Iraqi authorities free these political prisoners and allow them to participate in the wave of change sweeping through the Arab world.
As the people of Japan are facing a nuclear crisis second only to the 1986 nuclear meltdown at Chernobyl in Ukraine and a future of uncertainty about the impacts of radiation in Japan, support a call by Shinfujin (the New Japan Women's Association) to demand that the U.S. government relieve Japan of its close to $1.6 billion in yearly payments to the U.S. to "host" U.S. military bases in their country. The Japanese people need these resources for their own recovery from the March 11 earthquake and tsunami that killed over 13,000 people and left 150,000 people without homes. Take action to write your Congressperson and President Obama and ask them to relieve the Japanese of their payments to the U.S. war machine and to remove all U.S. military bases from Japan.
This year will mark ten years of U.S. war in Afghanistan. That’s ten years of your taxes paying for war. Now the same people who keep us at war and bailed out the banks and Wall Street (congress and the president); want to cut important services and programs our communities need. They want to give tax cuts to the rich and balance the federal budget on the backs of the poor.
This tax day people are fighting back across the country. Write to your representative now and let them now how you want your taxes spent.
The United States has denied a travel visa to Malalai Joya, an acclaimed women's rights activist and former member of Afghanistan's parliament. Ms. Joya, who was named one of TIME magazine's 100 most influential people in the world in 2010, was set to begin a three-week US tour to promote an updated edition of her memoir, A Woman Among Warlords, published by Scribner, an imprint of Simon & Schuster. Joya's memoir has been translated into over a dozen languages, and she has toured widely including Australia, the UK, Canada, Norway, Germany, Italy, Spain, Portugal, France, and the Netherlands in support of the book over the past two years.
For the first time ever, the U.S. Embassy has turned down Ms. Joya's request for a visa. She has visited the US numerous times in the past with no problems.Then 27, Joya was the youngest woman elected to Afghanistan's parliament in 2005. Because of her harsh criticism of warlords and fundamentalists in Afghanistan, she has been the target of at least five assassination attempts.
Events featuring Malalai Joya are planned, from March 20 until April 10, in New York, New Jersey, Washington DC, Maryland, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Minnesota, Oregon, Washington, and California. It is difficult for us to understand how the U.S. can claim to support Afghan women’s rights if we won’t let an Afghan women’s rights activist, who advocates for peace and democracy in her country, into the U.S. for a speaking tour that would allow those helping to shape US policy hear her views in person.
Take action now to contact your Congressperson, asking them to sign onto this letter of support for Joya and to call on the State department to ensure that her visa is granted so that these important events in the U.S. may take place.
We are angered and horrified by the way that Libyan leader Muammar el-Qaddafi has ordered the murder of scores of protesters. But the U.S. foreign policy tool box is empty save for the military sledgehammers of bombers, missiles and “no fly zone threats.”
Just Foreign Policy notes that "to impose a 'no fly zone,' it would be necessary to preemptively attack Libyan air-defense batteries and installations to ensure that they could not shoot down U.S. or NATO planes." There is also a high likelihood of civilian deaths. It appears that the foreign policy establishment —from Secretary of War Robert Gates on down—is cognizant of these limitations and dangers.
But given the decades of US military invasions and an unrelenting flow of US military aid to repressive regimes throughout the region, Washington’s ability to genuinely support these movements for democracy and justice—which draw some inspiration and lessons from the U.S. civil rights and anti-war movements—is seriously undermined and almost completely illegitimate.
Please urge US officials, including your Senators and Representatives, to undo this damage by providing good humanitarian aid and supporting a peaceful solution for the Libyan people. And like the courageous protesters from Yemen to Wisconsin, we, too need to show our solidarity and desire for change in the streets.
On October 7 – 10, peace and justice groups around the world will mark the beginning of the tenth year of the Afghanistan war with internationally coordinated local, grassroots, and community events.
Families who lost love ones on September 11 responded with, ”Our grief is not a cry for war!” and “War is not the answer!”
That was true then and even truer now. Now a growing majority believes that war in Afghanistan is and was a mistake and must come to an end.
What can you do?
Take a minute to send a letter to your Congressperson urging them to support the current out-of-Afghanistan bills in the House and the Senate.
You can also urge your local Representative to join the Out of Afghanistan Caucus.
Established last May, the “Caucus reflects the diversity and strength of the movement within the House of Representatives to quickly and responsibly end military operations in Afghanistan, while bolstering the United States' diplomatic efforts." The Caucus has 24 members and is chaired by Rep. John Conyers. For more information on the Out of Afghanistan Caucus, visit: http://bit.ly/bsKVe4 or contact Michael Darner in Congressman Conyers office at email@example.com.
On the beginning of the tenth year of war, please act now!
As the U.S. expenditure on war is at an all-time high of over $700 billion per year, the people of the U.S. are enduring the worst economic collapse since the Great Depression. This is having a devastating effect on our communities, with half of our tax dollars going to support wars and not human needs.
Please urge your local representative to respond to Rep. Barney Frank and Ron Paul's "Dear Colleague" letter on Congressional support for cuts to the bloated andunnecessary military budget.