Workers' Voice mailing list
September 26, 2016
RE: US-Russian deal; Aleppo; Detroit water
1. American activists denounce the US-Russian deal
2. Demonstrate in New York City in support of Aleppo!
4. Update on the struggle to stop the poisoning of Detroit's water supply
It is not just Syrians who have denounced the US-Russian deal. Several dozen prominent American peace activists have issued an open letter denouncing the US-Russian deal and the Assad regime. This shows that activists like Terry Burke, who called on the movement to listen to progressive Syrian voices (see DWV list item of August 27 at communistvoice.org/DWV-160827.html), David Turpin, and others haven’t been silenced by the pro-Assad leadership of UNAC (United National Anti-war Coalition) and other pro-dictatorship forces. The open letter denounces the Russian and Assad regime bombing offensive and declares that “Peace activists have an ethical responsibility to oppose these crimes against humanity. Our commitment to justice demands we challenge all attacks on the dignity and human rights of the Syrian people. To be silent is only to facilitate the attacks.”
I do not agree with everything in the statement, such as the tendency to look away from what we can expect the outside powers to actually do, and from what we and the Syrian people should do in response to that, to instead a list of things that it would be good if somehow the outside powers did. And it is not legitimate for the outside powers to negotiate the outcome in Syria, even if some democratic Syrians are invited to the table. But I welcome the statement. It includes a strong condemnation of the current offensive against the Syrian people. This is a crucial time to express solidarity with the endangered democratic forces in Syria. - Joseph Green
There can be no doubt that the Syrian people have paid a terrible price for their struggle for freedom. They know the pain and suffering of being unable to feed their children, of being the targets of relentless and merciless bombing. We share their desire to see peace with justice in Syria. Unfortunately, the Kerry-Lavrov negotiations have thus far brought neither. The "agreement" being sold as a "peace deal" for Syria has thus far been a rotten bargain that extends the bombing. The wanton destruction of the aid caravan on September 19th brought the sorely unsuccessful "ceasefire" phase to a barbaric conclusion, and what is proposed to follow will be even worse - far worse.
The Assad regime's forces continued their attacks throughout the so-called "ceasefire" of September 12th-18th. The day after the deal was announced, a hundred people died from regime attacks. On September 16th, regime warplanes targeted and bombed the White Helmets’ Head Quarters in Al Tamanna, rendering it inoperable. [”White Helmets” are unarmed civilian civil defense volunteers; they are heroic noncombatants who seek to dig people out from the rubble and save lives.-JG]
The sieges that seek to impose submission to the regime through starvation still affect hundreds of thousands, and promises to allow aid convoys to reach the besieged areas during the "ceasefire" never materialised. This demonstrates beyond all doubt that only air-drops of food will prevent the mass starvation of entire populations under siege.
Millions have been driven from their homes as a result of Putin and Assad’s bombing campaign. Tens of thousands rot in Assad's torture-to-death prisons.
These issues must be addressed to bring peace through justice to Syria. An expansion of the targets to be bombed by the US Coalition, and cooperation in bombing these targets between the US and Russia, which objectively means cooperation with the Assad regime, cannot bring Syrians peace nor justice.
The peace and antiwar opposition can offer a real alternative to the expansion of the militaristic, never-ending and phony "War on Terror" by calling for an end to all bombing, including US bombing, and calling upon Russia and Iran to withdraw all support for the brutal Assad regime. Support for this regime enables ethnic cleansing and merciless attacks on unarmed civilians, on a nightmarish scale that is experienced by Syrians living in areas outside of regime control as a targeted genocide of Sunni populations within the opposition -- an experience which is amplified by Assad's subsequent sectarian re-population of areas from which the besieged have been driven from their homes. This strategy can do nothing but breed sectarian division within Syria.
Assad and Putin's campaign of collective punishment of civilian populations has produced a terrible humanitarian crisis. Peace activists have an ethical responsibility to oppose these crimes against humanity. Our commitment to justice demands we challenge all attacks on the dignity and human rights of the Syrian people. To be silent is only to facilitate the attacks.
The peace and antiwar opposition can further promote a just solution to the terrible war in Syria by insisting that legitimate negotiations must include representatives from the Syrian democratic opposition, and these negotiations should have as their goal the ending of the bombing, the lifting of the sieges, and the freeing of all political prisoners.
Under the Kerry-Lavrov deal, Washington and Moscow will be collaborating to maintain Assad in power. Solidarity with the democratic struggles is the alternative to occupations, war, dictatorships and violent sectarianism.
(For the full statement and the current list of signers, see
At 1 pm on Saturday, October 1, there will be a demonstration at Dag
Hammarskjold Plaza, 48th & 1st, in New York City. This is part of a
Global Day of Rage for Aleppo initiated by
"Join the worldwide mobilization against the sieges, the barrel-bombing and missiles, the intentional targeting of rescue and healthcare facilities and workers - and the lies and diplomatic charades."
Near the end of the statement "From the ceasefire to the all-out bombing of Aleppo", where it says "for half a century everyone was bound and gagged and how to watch silently as the Assads and their cronies enriched themselves and tortured and killed dissidents", it should read "had to watch silently", not "how to watch silently".
"US Ecology" (USE) is the deceptive name of a hazardous waste processing company with facilities in Detroit. Hazardous waste, including radioactive frack waste, is brought into Detroit, and toxic water from this waste is dumped into the Detroit sewer system, thus contaminating the Detroit water system. The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, which rubberstamps just about anything the polluters want, is set to give USE a permit allowing it to expand its operations at its Detroit (North) facility by ten times. MDEQ and USE have been pretending that frack water won't be dumped into the sewer system, only a processed and safe residue. Detroit politicians have been pretending that a proposed "Host City Agreement" would prevent any frack waste from being brought into Detroit. But the meeting of the Coalition to Stop the Expansion of US Ecology of September 14 discussed the reality behind the promises, and then a community meeting on September 19 brought out more about what is going on. It turns out that all during this time frack waste has been coming into USE's Detroit (South) plant, and USE wants the right to resume bringing frack waste into the Detroit (North) plant.
The following material is excerpted from a report by a Coalition member. As one can see from it, MDEQ doesn't put restrictions on the polluters; instead it's acts as their public relations department.
We learned about the USE (South) hazardous waste facility in Detroit. While USE has temporarily curbed the intake of frack waste at their Detroit North facility (6520 Georgia St, Detroit, MI, 48211) they are continuing to take in frack brine at their Detroit South facility (1923 Frederick St., Detroit, MI, 48211). This brine is labeled "NON-HAZARDOUS" even though frack brine is known to be radioactive and contaminated with cancer-causing chemicals.
We were previously told by MDEQ representatives that there was no chance radioactive frack waste could get into the water supply, that [at the Detroit-North facility] it is just put into pit one, and hardening agents are injected, and the whole mess is then sent elsewhere for burial.
However, we have been informed that frack brine is not handled like this at the USE South plant down the road, in the same zip code. And that instead, the solids are removed from the brine and the liquid waste is discharged into the public sewer system. Since radioactivity cannot be completely removed from the brine, this would put our drinking water at risk. So what's the truth, MDEQ?
Our demand to stop frack waste from coming to USE North may be too narrow, if USE is just redirecting the frack waste to their other plant down the street. How about - No frack waste (processed or stored) in Detroit!
MDEQ representatives said:
* USE North had not accepted frack waste for months.
* That USE had temporarily shut down pit 1 and completed a radiation survey of this pit where they had been receiving frack waste.
* USE North is not willing to voluntarily give up their permit to accept frack waste.
* MDEQ may take more time before approving this permit. But they have every intention of approving the expansion.
* If we want to stop the expansion and stop radioactive frack waste from coming to the facility we will have to appeal to the city and county to stop it.
Board members called out MDEQ's effort to throw responsibility for protecting the health of Detroiters and the environment from hazardous waste, onto the county and city -- as though MDEQ is responsible only to industry, while the health of the residents, our water supply and environment is up to others and is not their concern.
For information about the next Coalition meeting, which will be on
Wedneday, October 12, see
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Posted on September 28,
with a typo corrected.