Doesn’t That Make It a “Death Camp?”

Transcribed from the 8 February 2015 episode of This is Hell! Radio and printed with permission. Edited for space and readability. Listen to the whole interview:

 

“I thought it was just another detainee holding facility. But we knew that it was not on the map; this was not on the books. The soldier with me said, ‘We just found our Auschwitz.’ It shook all through my body, and I said, ‘Let’s get out of here.’”

Chuck Mertz: Guantánamo is a horrible place that should be closed, never should have been opened in the first place, and may very well have been the scene of a triple murder. Here with an insider’s account, Joseph Hickman is author of Murder at Camp Delta: A Staff Sergeant’s Pursuit of the Truth About Guantánamo Bay.

Joe has spent most of his life in the military—first as a marine, then as a soldier in both the army and the national guard. Deployed on several military operations throughout the world, sometimes attached to foreign militaries, the recipient of more than twenty commendations and medals, Joe was awarded the Army Achievement Medal and the Army Commendation Medal while he was stationed with the 629th military intelligence battalion in Guantánamo Bay. He is currently working as an independent researcher and senior research fellow at Seton Hall Law School’s Center for Policy and Research.

You start your book by writing, “I am a patriotic American.” Is this a book written out of a sense of patriotism? Is this a patriotic book?

Joseph Hickman: Yes. I do believe it is. Like you said, I was in the military for fourteen years when I arrived at Guantánamo. It was my life. And I believe that, as an American soldier, it was my job to come forward and report a war crime. I think it’s every soldier’s duty to report a war crime if they see one occur. I believe I witnessed a war crime, and I tried to report it.

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Police Violence from Ferguson to Rio

Transcribed from the 13 December 2014 episode of This is Hell! Radio and printed with permission. Edited for space and readability. Listen to the whole interview:

 

“The police will argue that they have to be heavy-handed with criminals because they’re under attack, because it’s a ‘war.’ But they won’t admit that they’re creating a climate of terror.”

Chuck Mertz: We’re speaking with our irregular correspondent in Rio de Janeiro, Brian Mier. He is social media director for the Brazilian National Urban Reform Forum and a freelance writer and producer. Yesterday he posted the article The Police and the Massacre of Afro-Brazilian Youth.

Good morning, Brian.

Brian Mier: Hey, how’s it going?

CM: Very well, sir. You write about a new Brazilian documentary called Point Blank. It tells the story of the past twenty years of massacres committed by the Rio de Janeiro military police. These chacinas are frequently committed in retribution for a killed police officer, and traditionally involve coming into a poor neighborhood and killing random Afro-Brazilian youth.

Can you explain the hierarchy of the police forces in Brazil?

BM: If you think it’s bad in Chicago, imagine having multiple police forces operating in every city. First there is the traditional civil police in Brazil that investigates robberies and homicides and things like that. Then there’s military police, which has been around for a very long time, but they were given extra powers during the military dictatorship. And when the dictatorship ended, nobody removed their special powers.

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“There Were Just Too Many”

AntiNote: This interview originally appeared in German in issue #104 of the Antifaschistisches Infoblatt (AIB) and was posted online in December 2014. It bears mentioning that since the interview was initially conducted in English, it has now been translated and re-translated. Apart from any fantastic coincidences, these are not the exact words of Jock Palfreeman. His spirit and intention, however, are intact.

In 2007, Jock Palfreeman, then 21, traveled from his home in Australia to Bulgaria on vacation. On 28 December, he was witness to a racist hate crime in Sofia: a group of rightwing hooligans attacking a Roma person. Jock did what (unfortunately) few would. He intervened.

In the ensuing altercation, one of the attackers—Andrej Monov, son of a high-ranking government official and former police officer—was fatally stabbed.

Ever since, Jock has been sitting in Bulgarian prison—including stints in solitary—sentenced to 20 years for murder. He is currently appealing his sentence and fighting for extradition to Australia.

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Offener Brief an die Mutter von Rémi Fraisse

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3. November 2014

Ich schreibe Ihnen diesen Brief zu einer Zeit, in der gewaltsame Proteste in Paris verdammt und friedliche Sit-ins gepriesen werden.

Ich habe meinen Bruder verloren unter Bedingungen, die denen ähnlich sind, in denen Sie Ihren Sohn verloren haben. Mein Bruder, der sich so sehr um meine Mutter gekümmert hatte, hat uns verlassen und wird nicht wiederkommen. Der Verlust meines Bruders hat mir einen immensen Schmerz zugefügt, den ich jedes Mal wieder spüre, wenn der Staat tötet. „Wo die Gefahr wächst, wächst das Rettende auch“, hat jemand gesagt. Jedes Mal wenn der Staat tötet, ist auch eine Gelegenheit, ihn zu stoppen, ihn zu zwingen, sich zu ändern, und allen anderen die verlorene Würde wiederzugeben.Continue Reading

Zombie Prisons

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Transcribed from the 2 August 2014 episode of This is Hell! Radio and printed with permission. Edited for space and readability. Listen to the whole interview:

 

“We’re going to see the rise of a mass detention and deportation system [for immigrants] that will very much rival mass incarceration, and could actually grow as mass incarceration shrinks.”

Chuck Mertz: Live from Berkeley, Jonathan Simon is author of Mass Incarceration on Trial: A Remarkable Court Decision and the Future of Prisons in America. Good morning, Jonathan.

Jonathan Simon: Morning, Chuck.

CM: You write, “Like a biblical flood, the age of mass incarceration is finally ebbing. After forty years, not forty days, a once-unstoppable tide of harsh sentencing laws, aggressive prosecution policies, and diminished opportunities for parole seems to be subsiding.”

Forty years is two whole generations of human beings. What do you think the cultural legacy of that mass incarceration is, or will be?

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RSB Statement on Torture of Refugees in North Rhein-Westphalia

Deutsche originalversion kann hier gelesen werden / Original German (and further articles in many languages) at the excellent Refugee Strike Berlin blog

Refugee Strike Berlin’s Statement on Torture of Refugees in North Rhein-Westphalia

On Sunday, 28 September 2014, several cases of abuse of refugees by private security personnel in German refugee centers were made public.

We are outraged. We are furious. We are not, however, surprised. It was not without reason that we left the camps ourselves.

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Counterinsurgency in America

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Transcribed from This is Hell! Radio’s 6 September 2014 episode and printed with permission. Edited for space and readability. Listen to the whole interview:

 

“We face a state that treats black people as if we are about to rise up in an insurgency at any moment. They preemptively police us as if we are an insurgency.”

Chuck Mertz: Live with us right now, executive editor of the Black Agenda Report, Glen Ford. Good morning, Glen.

Glen Ford: Good morning. Good to be here.

CM: Isn’t it great, this post-racial America? It looks great in Ferguson, Missouri!

GF: Oh, I’m just aglow. I’m bathed in it. Aren’t we all?

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