By Ron Ridenour
In the first-ever terror trial against FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) and PFLP (Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine), seven Danish solidarity activists face ten years imprisonment for printing and distributing T-shirts in their support.
Defense attorney, Torkil Hoeyer, said this is a precedent-setting court case for the terror laws of Denmark and the European Union.
“The prosecution is using the EU terror list as its fundament. Since the EU commission responsible is secret, as is its criteria for placing individuals and groups on the list, and the suspected have no right to redress, the list has no juridical value. Therefore, the three judges, two of them lay, must determine, upon the evidence presented in this trial, if FARC and PFLP are terror groups.
“If they are, the T-shirt activists could be found guilty for supporting them through humanitarian projects. The state is asking for a punishment of imprisonment. If the two groups are found not to be terrorists my clients will go free.”
Interestingly, neither group is listed as terrorist by UK or UN bodies.
“African National Congress was supported by many international organizations and the Danish government. It was less nice than the PFLP. But it was not a terrorist organization nor is PFLP or FARC,” Michael Schoelardt told the court on opening day (September 20).
Schoelardt initiated the T-shirt project. Some proceeds would have gone to a radio station in FARC-controlled areas and a poster-printing project for PFLP.
“Unlike the state of Colombia, which is not a state governed by law, or Israel, which systematically violates the UN Charter and many resolutions through terrorist acts and occupation of much of Palestine, these liberation movements do not consciously attack civilians,” he said.
Schoelardt explained that the Colombian state, through its military forces and death squad terrorist operations, has the highest record of torturing and murdering unionists, students, teachers, priests, and especially small farmers.
This is confirmed by many human rights organizations’ reports and by numerous court cases against the governments of Colombia.
One of the accused, a journalist and expert on Colombia and Latin America generally, told the court that the Organization of American States-created Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR) has condemned the government six times in the last three years.
This international court found the government guilty of murdering 49 civilians in July 1997 through its hired death squad. In the 2005 case of “The massacre at Mapiripan vs. Colombia”, the government was ordered to pay compensation to their families, erect a monument in honor of the murdered, and instructed it to teach all soldiers to respect human rights.
Four of the accused are members of the small left-wing organization Left Socialists (VS), a former political party which once won seats in the parliament. They started the T-shirt project following the arrest of a leader of the anti-terror law Danish group Rebellion (Oprør).
Patrick Mac Manus was charged, on August 9, 2005, with violating Denmark’s terror law, paragraph 114a, which makes it illegal to support terror-cited organizations, including FARC and PFLP, by any fund-raising projects.
Rebellion had collected funds to support these liberation groups and sent the equivalent of about $1,800 to be used as they saw fit. That trial will follow the current one, in which Mac Manus is accused under the same law.
In paragraph 114, the state finds it punishable with up to life imprisonment for conducting acts aimed at “terrifying a population…force Danish or foreign officials or international organizations…to not carry out an action…or to destabilize or destroy a country’s or an international organization’s fundamental policies, constitution, economy or societal structure”.
This law had been once partially applied against Greenpeace activists for displaying a sign against using GMO on a Danish government building. They were fined. But this is the first time its application is being used for solidarity actions with liberation groups. The law can also be used against workers who employ militant unionist actions.
From the beginning of the T-shirt project, early January 2006, the political police (PET) wire-tapped VS members’ telephones. Once about 200 T-shirts had been sold, the police raided the print shop and the homes of several of the accused, February 20.
PET stopped their homepage, confiscated their computer, the remaining proceeds and T-shirts. They arrested the seven and charged them with violating paragraph 114a. They were released on their own recognizance.
Thin prosecution case
In her opening statement, State’s Attorney Lone Damgaard admitted that without a foundation of juridical evidence the EU list has “difficult rules”, which can lead one to ask “what is [the state attorney] talking about”, in reference to the charges against the activists.
Once the Bush administration got its “Patriotic Act” passed, closely following the 9/11 terror attack, EU and then Denmark passed near carbon copies of the law. In establishing these laws, both bodies stated that civil liberties, including the rights of free expression, must not be curbed; and the right of occupied peoples to undertake “law violations” must not be curbed.
The defendants have a firm case in that much of Palestine is illegally occupied by Israel.
Defendant Schoelardt pointed out that the “Patriotic Act” and Bush’s National Security Doctrine follow the project of the private think tank PNAC (Project for the New American Century), for which many current and past members of Bush’s government are associates.
PNAC declared, in 1997, that the project is to “promote American global leadership” using “Reaganite policies of military strength and moral clarity”.
On November 16, 1998, PNAC called for the “sustained bombing and missile campaign against Iraq…removing Saddam from power.”
PNAC member Donald Rumsfeld, two-time Secretary of Defense, said that in order to get its project adopted by government “a catalyzing event—like a new Pearl Harbor”—would be needed. 9/11 occurred not long after Bush took office.
Fighters and Lovers
The reconstituted Fighters and Lovers homepage (www.fightersandlovers.blogspot,com) explains its philosophy thusly:
“To back up civil liberties and the right to create positive change in a world marked by fear and distrust. We are T-shirters; definitely not terrorists. We stand for the right to fight for freedom.”
The Real Stuff project “is greatly in debt to the stylish classic coolness of Palestinian fighter Leyla Khaled and the funky outrageous style of Colombian guerrilla commander Jacobo Arenas.”
PFLP is viewed as “the brave exception in a region haunted by religious intolerance and fanaticism. Staunchly secular, PFLP fights for a free Palestine where Jews, Moslems and Christians may live and prosper in peace.
“Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land has forced millions of Palestinians to live as refugees, often under miserable conditions. The United Nations has recognized the Palestinians’ right to armed resistance against the illegal Israeli occupation.
“PFLP doesn’t just fight the Israeli Army, the organization also runs a network of refugee camps, schools and health clinics throughout the Middle East.”
Regarding its support for FARC, Fighters and Lovers point out that, “the Colombian regime has hindered free elections by wiping out all peaceful opposition, torturing and killing 4,000 members of the progressive UP party.”
Another defendantv told the Copenhagen court that FARC had entered into a truce with the government and established the legal party, UP, to run for parliament. The government’s murder campaign forced FARC to resume armed struggle.
One of the defendants, Preben Mikkelsen, who sells sausages from a cart, told the court that he supports the right to liberation, and thus FARC and PFLP.
“Bush is the worst terrorist in the world.”
Albert Jensen, accused of supporting Fighters and Lovers through his computer server, is the creator and editor of a Danish alternative encyclopedia: www.leksikon.org .
Jensen told the court that FARC was inspired by the Cuban revolution and began to fight the oppressive Colombia government in 1960. It now has at least 20,000 fighters, who are supported by the majority of peasants. FARC operates in most of Colombia.
When the state attorney accused FARC of being narcotic dealers, Jensen replied that the narco-traffickers are large land owners, who hire death patrols to murder “unruly” peasants and workers seeking basic rights, such as unionization. They meet no resistance from the government.
International labor organizations as well as international journalist reports show that hundreds of “unruly” workers, peasants and journalists are murdered each year by corporations or the government, including under the current presidency of Alvaro Uribe.
Chiquita Banana executives just admitted their guilt in a US Federal Court, September 17, for financing the Colombia death squad AUC with $1.7 million between 1997 and 2004. For keeping “unruly” workers in line, in graveyards, the executives were fined $25 million out of their $4.5 billion profits (2006). No jail time was required.
Throughout the day-long Copenhagen court session, the seven defendants were relaxed when delivering their strong defense for liberation struggles.
Next sessions resume in mid-November when both sides will present witnesses and evidence.
The state expects to bring in PET testimony and that of an immigrant Cuban, Angel Rabasa, a researcher for the war industry’s Rand Corporation, a California think tank. Donald Rumsfeld was Rand chairman 1981-86.
A current board member is Frank Carlucci, a former CIA deputy director and US secretary of defense. Carlucci was chairman of Carlyle Group, 1992-2003, when both the Bush family and Saudia Arabian richest families, such as Bin Laden’s, jointly operated $1.4 billion in investments with the Bush family.
In October 2001, the Laden family returned $2 million investments to Carlyle. (See:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carlyle_Group.)
Daniel Ellsberg was once employed by Rand before he disclosed the Pentagon Papers, in which Rand was a major player as it is for most of US wars and the infamous Plan Colombia. Its 1994 study (http://www.rand.org/pubs/monograph_reports/MR331/ ) set the basis for the so-called anti-narcotic strategy, which has spent almost $5 billion in seven years.
Much of this money goes to the Colombia army and security forces; some filters down to death squads such as AUC. The Danish Ministry of Transport and Energy engages Rand as do two score British county and national government departments and ministries.
Netavisen 25. september 2007