Short Updates

Collected by the Nor'easter staff

Israel Claims No Responsibility for Tristan Anderson

The state of Israel has declared that the shooting of unarmed activist Tristan Anderson was an "act of war." Anderson, a U.S. citizen, was shot directly in the forehead with a tear gas canister by Israeli forces on March 13, 2009. The declaration that this was an "act of war" absolves Israeli soldiers from any responsibility in the shooting. Anderson's family has filed both criminal and civil lawsuits against the Israeli state.

As a result of the attack, which took place after a peaceful demonstration by Palestinians and allies in the West Bank town of Ni'lin, Anderson went through several major life-saving operations and remains in a Tel Aviv hospital, his future unclear. Multiple eye-witnesses have stated that Anderson was shot from the relatively close distance of 60 meters, hours after a demonstration against the construction of Israel's border wall had ended.

Firing tear gas canisters directly into crowds of demonstrators in the West Bank is a common tactic employed by the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF), despite the fact that it violates army regulations and international law. Instances of the IDF severely injuring or killing international activists are becoming disturbingly common, while the killing and injuring of peaceful Palestinian demonstrators by Israeli forces continues on a constant basis.

The Pirates' Bay

Somali marauders continue to plunder

Somali pirates have continued to busy themselves by patrolling the Gulf of Aden and the east coast of Somalia. However, due to stepped-up security on board merchant vessels and increased patrols by the navies of various countries, their efforts are being thwarted more often than in the past.

In mid-August, the crews of two Egyptian ships, the Momtaz 1 and Samara Ahmed, along with mercenaries hired by the ship's owner, were able to overpower the pirates who had seized the vessels in April. The owner of the ships, Hassan Khalil, grew weary of protracted negotiations, so he hired a group of mercenaries, and, after paying $10,000 ransom and promising more, was granted access to the ships. After boarding, the mercenaries, along with the crews of the ships, were able to fight off the pirates, killing seven and taking eight prisoner. According to a high-ranking U.S. naval officer, Scott Sanders, 80 percent of overpowered pirate attacks are accomplished by the crews of those vessels, not with help from any military.

However, some of the pirates' endeavors have proven more fruitful. In early August, a Malaysian ship held by pirates for eight months was released after receiving payment of a ransom. Also, a German ship, which had been held by pirates for more than three months was also released after a ransom was paid

There are currently thought to be at least 10 ships being held by Somali pirates.

Mohawks Wage War

Canadian border controversy rages

CORNWALL ISLAND, Ontario -- This summer, the border post between the United States and Canada at Cornwall Island, located on sovereign territory, has been the site of fierce controversy over the arming of Canadian border guards. The Canadian government began arming guards at its border with the United States in 2007 as part of a 2006 campaign promise by the Conservative Party to "secure the borders."

The guards stationed on Cornwall Island, part of the Akwesasne Mohawk Reserve between Rooseveltown, Ny. and Cornwall, Ontario, were scheduled to receive their 9mm pistols on June 1, despite months of community members voicing concerns and warnings. Howard Thompson, the chief of the Mohawk Nation Council of Chiefs, said that arming the border guards would be an "assault on our sovereignty, which resonates as an act of war against our people." There are also fears that arming the guards would increase the possibility of violent confrontations.

There are regular reports of harassment of indigenous people by border guards, including the assault of two well-respected Mohawk Grandmothers in June of 2008, resulting in one having a heart attack.

For months prior to the scheduled arming date, the Mohawks were in constant fruitless negotiations with the Canadian government. As June approached, members of the Mohawk Warriors Society began to show an increased presence at protest outposts near the border crossing. Just before midnight on June 1, border guards abandoned their posts out of fear of reprisals from the community. U.S. and Canadian police set up a roadblock on both sides of the border, cutting off access to all vehicles. The police roadblock was lifted after 15 hours, but the border crossing remained closed until mid-July, when a makeshift border post was constructed out of traffic cones north of Cornwall Island, in the city of Cornwall. The new post is staffed by armed border guards, but is not located on sovereign Mohawk land.

Three Strikes and You're Out - About $70 Million

Bangladeshi garment workers shut down factories

Throughout the summer, in the Bangladesh capital of Dhaka, garment factory workers have been in regular conflict with their bosses and the State. Garment workers in Bangladesh work under sweatshop conditions for starvation wages well under those of neighboring countries. Many of the workers are women as young as 12, and physical and sexual abuse is common. The garment industry reportedly owes more than $300,000 in back pay.

Beginning on May 20, 1,000 employees at a sweater factory refused to work, declaring a wildcat strike until three of their fellow workers, whom had been arrested, were released. In response, the bosses locked the workers inside the factory and cut off the electricity and water. By 11 a.m. that day, the workers forced their way out and local community members joined them to fight with the police and blockade a highway for six hours. One person was killed and there were 70 others wounded, including cops and journalists.

Over the next several days, hundreds more factories went on strike, putting tens of thousands of factory workers, as well as street vendors and other laborers, into the street, where they set up blockades, wrecked vehicles and factories, and fought pitched battles with police.

Workers struggled intensely throughout June, and by the time the military was sent in to end the riots, 16 factories had been burned down, three workers were shot and killed, thousands were injured and thousands of others jailed, and about 4,000 factories were on strike. Conflict continued into July on a smaller scale, costing factory bosses well over $70 million.

Table of Contents