By Saeed Shabazz
August 4, 2011
NEW YORK – Activists representing a broad coalition of anti-war organizations, the Nation of Islam, the political left, Islamic organizations and a plethora of grassroots community organizations recently stood together on the stage of the Assembly Hall at the Riverside Church, proclaiming that “all roads lead to Harlem” for the Aug. 13.
“Millions in Harlem March” to stop the bombing of Libya:
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“Where are we going to be on Aug. 13?” asked Sara Flounders, co-director of the International Action Center, the main sponsors of the Riverside Church event. “In Harlem!” the standing room only crowd shouted back.
“President Barack Obama never believed that his actions against Libya could galvanize the movement that will be in the streets of Harlem on Aug. 13”, said Abdul Akbar Muhammad, the international representative of the Nation of Islam, in response to a question from The Final Call. Marching alongside of the Nation of Islam the second Saturday in August will be members of the “White Left and other progressives, Pan Africanists, Black grassroots organizations and national Islamic organizations,” he added.
The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan will be the keynote speaker at the Harlem march. “Min. Farrakhan will deliver a dynamic speech from 110th Street to 125th Street,” said Mr. Muhammad. The march will start at 110th Street.
The United Nations Security Council March 17 passed resolution 1973 by a vote of 10 in favor with five abstentions, authorizing the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) to begin a “no-fly zone” over Libyan air space, alleging President Muammar Gadhafi was targeting civilians in the North African nation.
Some Libyans had begun anti-Gadhafi demonstrations in February in the city of Benghazi, which turned into armed rebellion. The UN offered no proof Libya’s leader was killing unarmed civilians, though he vowed to fight those who had taken up arms against the government.
The U.S. and France March 18 started bombing so-called military targets, but the damage done by a “peace effort,” according to some observers, was more costly than what the Libyan leader had been accused of. Then came attacks on personal compounds that killed Libyan officials as well as a son of Col. Gadhafi and his grandchildren. NATO bombs hit the home of Libya’s leader at least twice as Western nations declared he had to go, pushing a policy of regime change.
Cynthia McKinney, a six-term former congresswoman from Georgia, was the keynote speaker for the Riverside Church rally. She told The Final Call she agreed with Mr. Muhammad’s assessment. “This will galvanize public opinion, as people see this as being important to them. Obama certainly stumbled this time,” referring to the president’s continued support for the NATO bombing of Libya. According to news outlets, the Obama administration is sending $10 million a day to NATO for the bombing of Libya.
Ms. McKinney had been on an 11-city tour telling packed audiences about her experiences in Tripoli in the early days of the NATO/UN aggression.
“There is definitely a buzz in the streets around Aug. 13,” said Larry Holmes of the Newark-based Bail Out the People Not the Banks movement.
“Expect people to be in the streets of Harlem in numbers,” he said.
Information about the street mobilization for the march may be found at www.millionmarchinharlem.com. There are organizing teams in all five New York boroughs that have saturated neighborhoods with green posters announcing the march.
“The people are very excited about the march, and Min. Louis Farrakhan as the keynote speaker is great. We are going to fill up Malcolm X Boulevard,” said one volunteer.
During a June 15 press conference at a hotel across the street from the United Nations, Min. Farrakhan told the media the “United Nations, U.S.-sponsored, NATO-led bombing of the North African country of Libya” was the work of “a coalition of demons,” governments who have joined together to assassinate Col. Gadhafi.
But even some who voted for the initial resolutions and allowed the resolutions to pass have expressed reservation, if not outright regret.
The African Union, in particular, has been calling for and working for a negotiated settlement only to be disregarded by Western nations intent on putting a new Libyan government in place.
The South African ambassador to the UN, Baso Sangqu, told the 15-member Security Council July 28 that his country’s delegation “echoes the African Union demand for an immediate pause in the fighting and in the NATO bombing.”
“We have noted the calls that ‘Gaddafi must go.’ We maintain that such statements do not bring us closer to a political solution,” the South African ambassador said. South Africa is occupying a rotating seat on the Security Council and supported the initial resolutions.
In a speech that was not widely covered by the media, Ambassador Sangqu said, “South Africa remains concerned about the implementation of resolutions 1970 and 1973. Taking sides in an internal conflict situation to institute regime change in Libya sets a dangerous precedent that will surely damage the credibility of the Security Council.”
“Clearly action focused on a military solution has not had its intended purpose, instead it has worked to destabilize the country even further,” he added.
Gabon and Nigeria also initially voted yes on resolutions 1970 and 1973, but the African Union has strongly condemned the bombing of any African nation.
The UN Secretary General’s special envoy to Libya announced July 26 through a press office that the “two sides remain far apart on reaching agreement on a political solution.” The two sides are the Gadhafi government and the rebel Transnational Council, which the U.S., France, Italy, Britain have recognized as the legitimate government of Libya.
The two sides, however, “have reaffirmed their desire to continue to engage with the UN in the search for a solution,” said special envoy Abdel-Elah Al-Khatib, a member of Jordan’s parliament. Libyan Prime Minister Baghdadi Al-Mahmoud reiterated his government’s previous positions against the NATO air strikes and against the removal of Libya’s president.
“There comes a time when people have no alternative but resistance,” Viola Plummer, co-founder of the December 12th Movement one of the sponsoring organizations for the Harlem march, said July 30.
“This march will revitalize the Pan African movement. It will broaden our people’s world view and demonstrate the need for Africans to unite in our own political and economic interests internationally,” she added.
“We must expose the UN Security Council machinations, Western imperialism; the attack on Black people in the U.S. and all collaborations at every turn,” Ms. Plummer said.
March organizers say the Harlem event has garnered worldwide attention. One dignitary supporting the march is Father Miguel d’Escoto Brockman, a former Nicaraguan foreign minister and the 63rd president of the UN General Assembly.
During his speech at the press conference announcing the march, Father Brockman said the event was important in light of how the media “systemically deceived” the American people.
Meanwhile the killing of a major rebel commander by compatriots raised questions about how the group could stay together and raised again reports that elements of Al-Qaeda were heavily involved in the rebel effort. (See related story on page 12.)
The Chinese news service Xinhuanet reported July 31 NATO’s claim of bombing three satellite dishes in Tripoli to “stop” what was labeled “terror broadcasts” by President Gadhafi. However, there are Twitter messages, also July 31, that say Libya television is still on the air.
Just before the Aug. 1 start of Ramadan, the Muslim month of fasting and prayer, NATO bombs struck Tripoli, and officials in Brussels would not rule other more strikes — though they were worried about a possible backlash in the Muslim world about strikes during the sacred month. “Tripoli shook with the sound of several explosions as NATO warplanes roared overhead doing what they have been doing since March, striking at what are supposedly Al Qathafi strategic infrastructure, particularly in the Libyan capital, Tripoli,” the Tripoli Post reported. “In normal times, much of the economy in Muslim countries world-wide shuts down as everyone enters a 30-day period of all-day fasting, prayer and the strict avoidance of conflict. But for Libyans this year it is an altogether different proposition. Libyans worry about sanctions and NATO strikes during this month.”
“There is an ongoing armed internal conflict as the rebels from the eastern part of the country battle on in order to reach their aim, of toppling or forcing Libyan leader Muammar Al Qathafi to step down from his high chair. They are involved in a battle that is barely making progress at the best of times, and with NATO forces, attempting to bomb Al Qathafi out of office,” the English language publication said.
“The NATO alliance thought it could finish it off before the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, in time for a new government to take shape. They failed and this month could become a perilous black hole threatening to undermine their whole campaign,” the Tripoli Post observed Aug. 1. “Muslims are not allowed to fight amongst themselves during Ramadan; they are also not allowed to attack another nation. However, they will fight back if they are attacked first, they are allowed to do that.”
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READ MORE LIBYA NEWS AT: 21st Century Wire Libya Files