A day before leaving Srinagar, in the ‘Indian administered Kashmir’, my comrades asked me to address a small gathering of local as well as progressive visiting Indian intellectuals. They mainly wanted to hear about the state of the resistance against Western imperialism. And Western imperialism is what India is now trying to join so eagerly and shamelessly.
It was dark outside, literally and metaphorically. Kashmir has been bleeding horrifically. At least 80,000 people have died, most of them from the terror spread by the fascist Indian state. The victims have been mainly civilians. At least 8,000 people have been “disappeared”. There have been countless, predominantly unreported, rapes and cases of beastly, unimaginable torture. Much of it has happened in just the last two decades.
I am going to write about this, soon, next week. But before I do, let me tell this story.
During that dark night, several men and women were gathered in a cramped room, asking me one simple and essential question: “Could the brutality of the Empire be prevented, and if not prevented, could it be stopped?”
I replied that “Yes!” And “Yes!” again.
Because no matter how dark the night appears to be, no matter how hopeless the struggles seems to be, the world had changed in the last several years; and it had changed profoundly.
When I stood in the middle of the street on 26th January 2015, just with my camera, right between stone-throwing youth and heavily armed Indian security forces, I was the only person willing to report the event. Later a Kashmiri human rights activist explained to me: “Foreigners don’t dare to do this, local reporters would be, as always, beaten up by the Indian security forces, and if Indians were to dare and come, they would encounter the wrath of those indignant stone-throwing youth.”
And so I was alone there.
But was I really?
Behind me – not visibly behind – but psychologically not too far away, stood a comrade who has been working for a huge international press agency. He couldn’t be here with me, but before I went, he offered his support, contacts, and expertise. Without his help and backing, my work would be next to impossible, or at least much more dangerous than it already was.
The struggle for justice, for true freedom, and above all, for the survival of humanity, is becoming increasingly broad, joined by countries located on all the continents and by individuals from all walks of life.
Two decades ago we lived in a totally different world. The lackeys of the West, with Boris Yeltsin leading the pack, boozed the Soviet Union out. Eastern Europe was mostly led by the children of former elites, such as Vaclav Havel. China was still very far from reversing its moderately toxic pro-market ‘reforms’ introduced by Deng Xiaoping. And Latin America: it was in total disarray, either engaged in civil wars and conflicts, recovering from monstrous pro-Western dictatorships, or run by the market-fundamentalists, or all the above. In Africa and in the Middle East, right-wing dictatorships were consolidating their power, and in many Asian nations, the elites were busy re-grabbing power, applauded by their own private press, as well as by the Western mainstream media.
Language and terminology, the linguistics, had been totally perverted or at least confused. Fascism was called ‘democracy’. Terms like ‘socialism’ and ‘communism’ were determinedly and constantly smeared.
What a world it used to be!
But no more: everything has totally changed.
In Kashmir, I told my friends about the new and powerful media; that of Latin America, in Russia, in China, and Iran. It is not ‘alternative’, anymore. In a way it is ‘mainstream’, because in many parts of the world, exposing the crimes committed by the West, by its Empire and by its ‘client states’ like India, Indonesia, Kenya, Rwanda or Uganda, has become something that is considered absolutely natural, something that is to be expected and demanded by the people.
But above all, I explained that just a few years ago, maybe just one decade back, I only had a few close people like Noam Chomsky, ‘covering my back’. Now there are many, from all classes, professions and continents!
One of the greatest international lawyers, Chris Black from Toronto, Canada, and a former World Bank economist, Peter Koenig, are now writing a book with me. Both understood and turned around to confront fascism. Both are overflowing with practical knowledge, because they used to work ‘inside the system’.
Just two months ago I was invited to Eritrea, a great and brave African country that is fighting the direct intimidation and embargos of the Empire. The lady who hosted me, used to work in South Sudan, for the World Bank. She got so disgusted with what she was expected to do – destroying her fellow African people – that she left her highly paid job, just a year ago, in order to set up her own progressive organization, defending the Horn Of Africa. She set up its headquarters in the capital of her native Eritrea, Asmara. Since then she has been courageously fighting for her people, and for those in this totally abused and tortured part of the world.
I have met and worked with countless staff-members of the United Nations: educators and statisticians, academics, economists and other professionals. Some are just lamenting about how the dream of the “World Government” degenerated and gone to the dogs. But others are actively fighting, often behind the scene, breaking countless rules and regulations.
Some quit, unwilling to compromise.
I have to mention my deceased friend, Australian lawyer Michael Hourigan, a former UN genocide investigator from ICTR, who managed to identify those who shot down the airplane carrying the Presidents of Rwanda and Burundi, in 1994. He was forced to fly to The Hague, and literally ordered to shut up, by a high UN official. That was because all the evidence was pointing at the Rwandan President Paul Kagame and his Tutsi army, RPF. Kagame has been a brutal Western implant, responsible for millions of dead people in the plundered Democratic Republic of Congo.
The shooting down of the Presidential ‘Falcon’ jet triggered the epic 1994 violence, and terrible inter-tribal bloodletting.
Michael Hourigan resigned, in disgust, and returned to his native Adelaide in Australia. He passed the evidence on to me, during the filming of my feature documentary, “Rwanda Gambit”.
Another horror story I was asked to tell to the world, was by Ms. Masako Yonekawa, a former UNHCR head in Goma, perhaps the most tattered and terrorized part of the Democratic Republic of Congo, and of Africa in general.
Ms. Yonekawa resigned from the UN, and then went on record, testifying in my film, about the brutality of the RPF, about the Western support for the RPF, and about the UN staff, particularly the Indian peacekeepers, who had been involved in the smuggling of raw materials from the DRC.
There were others, many others, who managed to identify the genocide in the DR Congo, particularly those UN staff members who wrote and consequently ‘leaked’ the reports (including the ‘Mapping Report’) on the involvement of both Rwanda and Uganda in the genocide in Goma and other parts of the DRC.
Two UN statisticians helped me, when I was writing my book on the horrors of modern, post-Suharto Indonesia, “Indonesia – Archipelago of Fear.”
Not everyone has the guts to ‘go public’, or to resign. But I know: whenever great matters are at stake, there are thinkers and teachers, doctors and pilots, UN experts, economists, lawyers, even some government officials and soldiers, who are ready to risk their careers, and support me, or people like me, and therefore directly or indirectly joining the struggle.
These days I never feel desperate or hopeless. Some of the greatest individuals are on our side.
Just look at the “BRussells Tribunal”! Or look at the ‘composition’, the list of those who are writing for The Counterpunch or The Greanville Post.
Of course, the journey, the process, is not without those who betray it. There are always people who put their petty fears and interests above the great struggles. They betray individuals, the fighters, and they also betray entire concepts. But nothing is, or should be ‘perfect’.
Those who betray will, one day, face their own conscience, if they have any at all. They will not be at peace with themselves. As for the honest fighters, traitors will certainly hurt them, but after a while, they will get up, straighten themselves again, and march forward.
There is great hope, everywhere. And not too see it, not to sense it, would take truly great ‘discipline’.
Russia got up from its knees and confronted the Empire. China did the same, in many ways returning to Socialist, even Communist designs. Both big nations are increasingly ‘internationalist’ when it comes to their foreign policy. Both are also deeply concerned with the lives of their people.
Latin America broke the shackles of Western imperialism and of the racist ‘Monroe Doctrine’. Each one of these great nations: Cuba, Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, Nicaragua, Chile, Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil, is going its own way, but in brilliant solidarity with each other, and as a bloc. Each one is also forging closer and closer links with China and Russia.
Those nations that have been overrun by the West, recently: Paraguay and Honduras are seen clearly as scarecrows. Nobody in their sane mind would like to follow their ‘examples’.
Africa, the most injured continent on Earth, is standing tall at least at its two extremes: South Africa and Zimbabwe in the South, and Eritrea in the north.
As complex as the situation is there, North Korea, Vietnam and Laos are still in the camp of the rebels, and have to be taken seriously.
Were India not to betray the BRICS, were it not to jump into an horrific embrace of the West and Israel, as well as its own grotesque religious and cast-driven nationalism, at least one half of the planet would now be standing firmly against the Empire and its sinister design to fully control the world.
I spoke to my Kashmiri friends about all of this.
But Kashmir is bleeding, from torture and rape, from extra-judicial killings. There, India is conducting joint exercises with both the US and Israel. It is learning how to massacre, control and torture, and it is often outdoing its gurus.
The victims of the bestiality committed by the Empire and its client states are our allies. We will not hide the facts! We will not maneuver. We will speak openly and clearly. If we have any ‘ideological differences’, we will take care of them later. But our message, for now, is clear: enough of torture, enough of rape, enough of genocides.
I told them, to my friends: “Kashmir is not alone. We will stand by you, we will struggle with you, and if needed, we will risk our lives for you!”
The era of cowardice is over. A new age of solidarity has arrived.
As Indian guns were pointed at me, I felt calm. “If anything happens to me, many others will take my place”, I thought. I am not a hero, I don’t believe in heroism, but I am not a coward, either. And after learning what has been taking place in Kashmir, every pore of my body was supporting the victims.
In Kashmir I felt that Leningrad and Beijing, Caracas, Havana, Asmara and Quito are behind me. The songs of resistance from Srinagar were the songs of resistance of the Russian, Chinese, African and Latin American people.
We are all connected. And that is why I was standing there, in the middle of the road, in Srinagar, facing the soldiers of the Indian state – those lackeys of the Empire.
“He is really coming with us!” one of the boys said, in disbelief.
“Yes!” I said, squeezing my camera. As always, I wanted to survive. I wanted to survive so much! But not by all means! Not as a slave, not as a lackey.
“Half of humanity is now with us”, I thought, as the bandits, those security forces of India, trained openly by US and Israeli began closing in on us, firing teargas canisters, not into the air but directly at people’s heads. “And many more will be joining, soon.”
Andre Vltchek is a novelist, filmmaker and investigative journalist. He covered wars and conflicts in dozens of countries. His critically acclaimed political revolutionary novel Point of No Return is now re-edited and available. Oceania is his book on Western imperialism in South Pacific. His provocative book about post-Suharto Indonesia and market-fundamentalist model is called “Indonesia – The Archipelago of Fear” (Pluto). He just completed feature documentary “Rwanda Gambit” about Rwandan history and the plunder of DR Congo. After living for many years in Latin America and Oceania, Vltchek presently resides and works in East Asia and Africa. He can be reached through his website.