Royal Commission of Inquiry: Investigating War Crimes in the Hawaiian Islands


30 Jan 2023 – The Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) was established by Proclamation of the Hawaiian Kingdom Council of Regency on June 17, 2019, yet there has been no coverage in either the mainstream or the alternative media. Most people are simply not aware that the Hawaiian Islands have been under a prolonged and illegal occupation by the United States since January 17, 1893.

What is the RCI, its mandate and its investigative authority? This brief article will attempt to answer these questions and, consequently, bring a broader awareness of the American occupation.

A simple Google search of Larsen v. Hawaiian Kingdom will reveal that the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in The Hague, Netherlands, acknowledged the Hawaiian Kingdom to be a State or country and its government is the Council of Regency. This continued existence of the Hawaiian Kingdom as a country was not affected by the illegality or duration of the American occupation. The PCA was established in 1899 by the United States and other countries to resolve international disputes.

In 1999, arbitration proceedings were initiated at the PCA between a Hawaiian national and the government of the Hawaiian Kingdom—the Council of Regency. The dispute centered on the unlawful imposition of American laws over the territory of the Hawaiian Kingdom. At the PCA’s website, it states:

Lance Paul Larsen, a resident of Hawaii, brought a claim against the Hawaiian Kingdom by its Council of Regency (“Hawaiian Kingdom”) on the grounds that the Government of the Hawaiian Kingdom is in continual violation of: (a) its 1849 Treaty of Friendship, Commerce and Navigation with the United States of America, as well as the principles of international law laid down in the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, 1969 and (b) the principles of international comity, for allowing the unlawful imposition of American municipal laws over the claimant’s person within the territorial jurisdiction of the Hawaiian Kingdom.

Larsen was not able to maintain his lawsuit without the participation of the United States, despite being formally invited by the parties, because it was the United States that caused the injury to him and not the Council of Regency. He was claiming the Council of Regency was liable for the injury by allowing the imposition of American laws, which the Council rejected. Consequently, the United States was a necessary third party.


However, for the Council of Regency, the significance of this case is the PCA’s acknowledgment of the Hawaiian Kingdom’s continued existence as a State before the arbitral tribunal was established. Before the PCA could form the arbitral tribunal to resolve the international dispute, Article 47 of the 1907 PCA Convention required that one of the parties had to be a State. The proceedings were initiated on November 8, 1999, and the arbitral tribunal was formed on June 9, 2000, which is after the PCA verified the Hawaiian Kingdom to be an existing State.

The United States, which is a contracting State to the 1907 PCA Convention and a member State of the PCA Administrative Council, did not object to these proceedings and even entered into an agreement with Larsen and the Council of Regency to have access to all records and pleadings of the case. This agreement was brokered by Phyllis Hamilton, Deputy Secretary General of the PCA, between the parties and the American Embassy in The Hague. For more information on this case, download the article “Backstory—Larsen v. Hawaiian Kingdom at the Permanent Court of Arbitration (1999-2001).”


In 2005, the United Nations at its World Summit adoptedthe principle of the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) its populations from genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing. In 2009, the General Assembly reaffirmed the principle, and in 2021, the General Assembly passed a resolution on “The responsibility to protect and the prevention of genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity.”

According to the International Committee of the Red Cross Study on Customary International Humanitarian Law, Rule 158 specifies that “States must investigate war crimes allegedly committed by their nationals or armed forces, or on their territory, and, if appropriate, prosecute the suspects. They must also investigate other war crimes over which they have jurisdiction and, if appropriate, prosecute the suspects.” This “rule that States must investigate war crimes and prosecute the suspects is set forth in numerous military manuals, with respect to grave breaches, but also more broadly with respect to war crimes in general.”

Picture of Queen Lili’uokalani, Hawai’i’s last queen, who was overthrown in a U.S. invasion on January 17, 1893. [Source: Hawai’i Archives]

While Larsen was not able to maintain his suit against the Council of Regency, it did bring to the attention of the international community the war crime of usurpation of sovereignty during military occupation. Usurpation of sovereignty during military occupation is the imposition of the laws and administrative policies of the Occupying State over the territory of the Occupied State. It was declared to be a war crime in the aftermath of the First World War by the Commission on Responsibilities in its 1919 report, to which the United States was a party.

In the annex of its 1919 report, the Commission charged that in Romania the German authorities had instituted German civil courts to try disputes between subjects of the Central Powers or between a subject of these powers and a Romanian, a neutral, or subjects of Germany’s enemies.” In Serbia, the Bulgarian authorities had “Proclaimed that the Serbian State no longer existed, and that Serbian territory had become Bulgarian.”

It listed several other war crimes committed by Bulgaria in occupied Serbia: “Serbian law, courts and administration ousted”; “Taxes collected under Bulgarian fiscal regime”; “Serbian currency suppressed”; “Public property removed or destroyed, including books, archives and MSS (e.g., from the National Library, the University Library, Serbian Legation at Sofia, French Consulate at Uskub).” It also charged that the German and Austrian authorities had committed several war crimes in Serbia: “The Austrians suspended many Serbian laws and substituted their own, especially in penal matters, in procedure, judicial organization, etc.”

The war crime of usurpation of sovereignty during military occupation was referred to by Judge Blair of the American Military Commission in a separate opinion in the Justice Case, that “This rule is incident to military occupation and was clearly intended to protect the inhabitants of any occupied territory against the unnecessary exercise of sovereignty by a military occupant.” Australia, Netherlands and China enacted laws making usurpation of sovereignty during military occupationa war crime. In the case of Australia, the Parliament enacted the Australian War Crimes Act in 1945 that included the war crime of usurpation of sovereignty during military occupation.

This war crime is also considered particular customary international law and binding on the Allied Powers of the First World War, whether they enacted a domestic law or not. The Treaty of Versailles listed these countries, which include the United States of America, Great Britain, France, Italy and Japan, principal Allied Powers and Associated Powers that include Australia, Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, China, Cuba, Czechoslovakia, now known as Czech Republic, Ecuador, Greece, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Liberia, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Romania, South Africa, Thailand, and Uruguay.

In the Hawaiian situation, usurpation of sovereignty during military occupation serves as a source for the commission of other war crimes within the territory of the Hawaiian Kingdom, which includes the war crimes of compulsory enlistment, denationalization, pillage, destruction of property, deprivation of fair and regular trial, deporting civilians of the occupied territory, and transferring populations into an occupied territory. The reasoning for the prohibition of imposing extraterritorial prescriptions or measures of the occupying State is addressed by Professor Eyal Benvenisti:

Professor Eyal Benvenisti [Source:]

The occupant may not surpass its limits under international law through extra­territorial prescriptions emanating from its national institutions: the legislature, government, and courts. The reason for this rule is, of course, the functional symmetry, with respect to the occupied territory, among the various lawmak­ing authorities of the occupying state. Without this symmetry, Article 43 could become meaningless as a constraint upon the occupant, since the occupation administration would then choose to operate through extraterritorial prescription of its national institutions.

On March 22, 2022, the United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC) was made aware that the war crime of usurpation of sovereignty was and continues to be committed by the United States over the territory of the Hawaiian Kingdom, when the author, on behalf of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers and the American Association of Jurists both of which are NGOs with observer status to the HRC, delivered an oral statement.

The RCI was established in similar fashion to the United States proposal of establishing a Commission of Inquiry after the First World War “to consider generally the relative culpability of the authors of the war and also the question of their culpability as to the violations of the laws and customs of war committed during its course.”

In accordance with Hawaiian administrative precedence in addressing crises, the RCI was established by “virtue of the prerogative of the Crown provisionally vested in [the Council of Regency] in accordance with Article 33 of the 1864 Constitution, and to ensure a full and thorough investigation into the violations of international humanitarian law and human rights within the territorial jurisdiction of the Hawaiian Kingdom.” The author has been designated as Head of the Royal Commission, and Dr. Federico Lenzerini, Ph.D., as Deputy Head. Pursuant to Article 3—Composition of the Royal Commission, the Head of the Royal Commission has been authorized to seek “recognized experts in various fields.”

Dr. Federico Lenzerini [Source:]

The RCI acquired legal opinions from the following experts in international law: on the subject of the continuity of the Hawaiian Kingdom under international law, Professor Matthew Craven from the University of London, SOAS, School of Law; on the subject of the elements of war crimes committed in the Hawaiian Kingdom since 1893, Professor William Schabas, Middlesex University London, School of Law; and on the subject of human rights violations in the Hawaiian Kingdom and the right of self-determination by the Hawaiian citizenry, Professor Federico Lenzerini, University of Siena, Italy, Department of Political and International Studies.

These experts, to include the Head of the Royal Commission, are the authors of chapters 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 of Part II of the Royal Commission’s eBook—The Royal Commission of Inquiry: Investigating War Crimes and Human Rights Violations Committed in the Hawaiian Kingdom.

According to Article 1(2) of the proclamation, “The purpose of the Royal Commission shall be to investigate the consequences of the United States’ belligerent occupation, including with regard to international law, humanitarian law and human rights, and the allegations of war crimes committed in that context. The geographical scope and time span of the investigation will be sufficiently broad and be determined by the head of the Royal Commission.”

The Royal Commission began by providing Preliminary Reports on various subjects relative to its mandate and its investigation of war crimes that meet the constituent elements of mens rea—criminal intent, and actus reus—the act or acts of committing the crime.

In mid-November of 2022, the RCI published its initial criminal and war criminal reports no. 22-000122-000222-0002-122-000322-0003-122-000422-0004-122-000522-0005-122-000622-0006-122-000722-0007-122-0008 and 22-0009.

These reports identified senior leadership of the United States, the State of Hawai’i, and its Counties, which include President Joseph Biden and State of Hawai’i Governor David Ige, to be guilty of committing the war crimes of usurpation of sovereignty during military occupation, deprivation of fair and regular trial, and pillage. The RCI criminal reports provide the necessary evidence for the issuance of arrest warrants and prosecution by foreign countries.

David Ige [Source:]

Usurpation of sovereignty has not only victimized the civilian population in the Hawaiian Islands for more than a century, but it has also victimized the civilians of other countries that have visited the islands since 1898 who were unlawfully subjected to American municipal laws and administrative measures. These include State of Hawai’i sales tax on goods purchased in the islands but also taxes placed exclusively on tourists’ accommodations collected by the State of Hawai’i and the Counties.

The Counties have recently added 3% surcharges to the State of Hawai’i’s 10.25% transient accommodations tax. Added with the State of Hawai’i’s general excise tax of 4% in addition to the 0.5% County general excise tax surcharges, civilians who are visiting the islands will be paying a total of 17.75% to the occupying power. In addition, those civilians of foreign countries doing business in the Hawaiian Islands are also subjected to paying American duties on goods that are imported to the United States destined to Hawai’i. These duty rates are collected by the United States according to the United States Tariff Act of 1930, as amended, and the Trade Agreements Act of 1979.

The far reach of the victims of war crimes committed in the Hawaiian Islands includes civilians throughout the world in various countries.


Dr. Keanu Sai is head of the Royal Commission of Inquiry. He also served as lead agent for the Hawaiian Kingdom in Larsen v. Hawaiian Kingdom at the Permanent Court of Arbitration from 1999-2001. Dr. Sai is a faculty member at the University of Hawai‘i where he teaches political science and Hawaiian Studies in both undergraduate and graduate programs. Email:

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If You Wouldn’t Ask Hannibal Lecter to Stop Mass Atrocities, Don’t Ask “The International Community” By Ann Garrison

4 Jan 2023 – The hope that the U.S. will intervene anywhere in the world for humanitarian reasons is misguided in the extreme. Claims of concern are always a ruse hiding ulterior motives. Imperialist actions are antithetical to human needs.

As someone who spends a lot of time studying African conflict, I often witness and find myself drawn into discussion with groups  demanding that “the international community” do something to stop genocide and mass atrocities in their country. Of course I sympathize with any community under attack because of their racial, ethnic, clan, national, class, or political identity, but why would anyone in Africa or elsewhere in the Global South expect “the international community”—meaning the US-dominated West—to stop genocide and mass atrocities? The US dropped a nuclear bomb on Japan even though the Allies had already won WWII in the Pacific, turned Korea and Vietnam into human barbecue pits during the 50s and 60s, and overthrew or attempted to overthrow 47 governments between 1949 and 2014. According to Brown University’s Costs of War project, its post 9/11 War on Terror has killed over 900,000 people, cost eight trillion dollars , and created 38 million refugees and internally displaced persons .

During a 2009 presidential presidential debate, even as the War on Terror’s toll continued to mount, NBC News Anchor Tom Brokaw created a particularly violent upchuck moment by asking Barack Obama whether the US should intervene for humanitarian purpose “even when our national security interests were not at stake.”

Obama rose to the imperial task, making way for the “stopping genocide and mass atrocities” foreign policy that then superseded the War on Terror as the principal excuse for committing genocide and mass atrocities during his presidency:

Well, we may not always have national security issues at stake, but we have moral issues at stake.

If we could have intervened effectively in the Holocaust, who among us would say that we had a moral obligation not to go in?

If we could’ve stopped Rwanda, surely, if we had the ability, that would be something that we would have to strongly consider and act.

So when genocide is happening, when ethnic cleansing is happening somewhere around the world and we stand idly by, that diminishes us.”

(For the real US role in the Rwandan Genocide, see “Rwanda and the New Scramble for Africa, from Tragedy to Useful Imperial Fiction ,” “How Paul Kagame Deliberately Sacrificed the Tutsis ,” “In Praise of Blood: Crimes of the Rwandan Patriotic Front ,” “Enduring Lies: The Rwandan Genocide in the Propaganda System, 20 Years Later ,” “Post-Genocide Rwandan Refugees: Why They Refuse to Return ‘Home’: Myths and Realities ,” and “Dying to Live: A Rwandan Family’s Five-Year Flight Across the Congo .”)

In 2010, shortly after taking office, Obama fulfilled his Orwellian promise by creating the Atrocities Prevention Board .

In 2011, the US and its allies destroyed Libya, the most prosperous nation on the African continent, in the name of stopping genocide and mass atrocities, then started stealing its oil . In 2014, the US and its allies began bombing Syria and supporting jihadists in the name of stopping genocide and mass atrocities, then started stealing its oil .

Africa has plenty of untapped oil and every other resource the industrial world needs, so it presents abundant opportunities for bombing, sanctioning, debt strangling, and otherwise bludgeoning sovereign nations into submission, all in the name of stopping genocide and mass atrocities, then stealing whatever they have.

Or for undermining any nation or nations that dare raise an independent head, as Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Somalia did in 2018, when Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki, and then Somali President Mohammed Abdullahi Mohammed, aka Farmaajo, signed an agreement to cooperate on trade, security and cultural issues, the Tripartite Alliance more formally known as the Joint Declaration on Comprehensive Cooperation Between Ethiopia, Somalia and Eritrea .

For more than two years, the US and its allies and press have been crying “Tigray Genocide!” to justify their support of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, in hopes of toppling the elected government of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, driving a wedge between Ethiopia and Eritrea, and busting up the Tripartite Alliance.

On July 10, 2021, the Globe and Mail, a Canadian security state outlet, accused Somali soldiers of committing atrocities in Tigray and complained about the Tripartite Alliance weakening Western influence at the same time :

Accounts of atrocities by Somali soldiers in Ethiopia’s Tigray war are casting a spotlight on an emerging military alliance that has reshaped the Horn of Africa, weakening Western influence in a strategically important region.

The Globe and Mail has obtained eyewitness reports of massacres by Somali troops embedded with Eritrean forces in Tigray in the early months of the war. The new evidence raises disturbing questions about a covert military alliance between Ethiopia, Eritrea and Somalia that has inflicted death and destruction on the rebellious Tigray region in northern Ethiopia.”

With the help of Ilhan Omar , the US managed to have Farmaajo removed from power, at least for now, replacing him with the obedient President Hassan Sheikh Mohammed, who approved the reintroduction of US troops into Somalia US-based Coastline Exploration operations off the Somali Coast, the continuation of EU N AVFOR, a European Union naval deployment, also off the Somali Coast, and the extension of the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) , a US commanded peacekeeping force, previously known as AMISOM , which hasn’t been able to establish peace in Somalia since its creation in 2007.

The US and its allies have no honest interest in stopping genocide and mass atrocities in Africa, and their fundamental, paternalistic premise—that the West has to stop African savages from slaughtering one another—is racist to the core.

Hannibal Lecter


Ann Garrison is an independent journalist based in the San Francisco Bay Area. She attended Stanford University and is a member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace Development Environment. In 2014 she received the Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza Democracy and Peace Prize for her reporting on conflict in the African Great Lakes region. She can be reached at,

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Glaring Western Hypocrisy on Human Rights in Africa: Ethiopia and the Democratic Republic of Congo

The US and EU are complicit in the continued Rwandan and Ugandan incursions into the Democratic Republic of Congo, as well as in their support of their TPLF proxies against Ethiopia.

2 Nov 2022 – On October 31st, thousands of Congolese in Goma, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo’s North Kivu Province, protested the war of aggression waged by Rwanda and Uganda’s M23 militia, which has reportedly tightened its grip on surrounding countryside. One sign read “Rwanda and Ouganda Is Killing in DR Congo,” and Congolese activists are using the hashtag #RwandaIsKilling. Mambo Kawaya, a civil society representative, told AFP, “We denounce the hypocrisy of the international community in the face of Rwanda’s aggression.”

US and EU hypocrisy

Nowhere is this hypocrisy more vivid than in the contrast between the US/Canadian/EU engagement in the Ethiopian and Congolese conflicts. As Ethiopia nears victory in its war with the US-backed, insurrectionist Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), huge crowds of Ethiopians have taken to the streets to protest US intervention and demand respect for Ethiopian sovereignty. The US has nevertheless muscled its way into “peace talks” in South Africa, with the US State Department gloating that US Special Envoy to the Horn of Africa Mike Hammer “is both an observer and a participant to these talks.” The US has given political, diplomatic, and narrative support to the TPLF, its longtime client, throughout the war and has quite likely provided arms and logistical support.

US and EU officialdom and press now repeat a daily refrain that Ethiopia and Eritrea are guilty of mass atrocities, that Eritrean troops must leave Ethiopia and that they are violating Ethiopian sovereignty, even though Ethiopia is perfectly within its sovereign right to ask Eritrea for help.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres parrots the US and EU talking points, although China, Russia, and African nations on the UN Security Council have consistently refused to agree to any resolutions to condemn or otherwise intervene in Ethiopia.

The West’s weaponization of human rights against Ethiopia is as glaring as it is against Russia, with threats of IMF and World Bank strangulation, draconian sanctions, ICC indictments, and ad hoc criminal tribunals.

The West’s objection to Rwandan and Ugandan aggression in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is by contrast tepid at best, even though Rwanda and Uganda have violated DRC’s national sovereignty for the past 26 years. They invaded and occupied the country, toppled two governments, committed decades of atrocities, seized territory, looted resources, and displaced so many Congolese that Congo has one of the world’s highest populations of internally displaced persons (IDPs), 5.53 million, and large refugee populations in neighboring nations.

There’s abundant evidence of all this, decades of evidence in UN Group of Experts reports, and if the UN Security Council did what it’s supposed to do, it would tell Rwanda and Uganda that they have to get out of DRC and, if necessary, take measures to force them to leave. Instead they’ve sustained an ineffective and often corrupt UN Peacekeeping operation, MONUSCO, that essentially manages the conflict in a way that enriches Rwanda and Uganda’s ruling elites and makes Congo’s resource wealth available to the major industrial powers at minimal cost.

The UNSC did form the Combat Intervention Brigade to drive M23 out of Congo in 2013, but they weren’t serious about defending Congolese sovereignty. It was a charade organized because reports of M23 atrocities had become so shocking that they had to appear to do something. Congolese sovereignty was not restored, but the international press moved on to new headlines.

Now, the UK and Denmark are both determined to use Rwanda to outsource migrants who reach their shores for processing, despite the outcry and legal battles of European immigrant rights groups. The UK’s new Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, has said that he will do “whatever it takes ” to succeed in sending asylum seekers to Rwanda, and he’s certainly not going to criticize Rwanda’s M23 war in DRC. The EU appears to be too busy hurling all its human rights weapons at Ethiopia and Eritrea to notice the horrific escalation in M23 atrocities in DRC.
During Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s recent visit to Rwanda, he released a statement about his conversation with President Paul Kagame in which he said:

“. . . we just came from a meeting with President Kagame, where we covered a wide range of issues, including many of the ones that I’ve just discussed. I also raised issues where we have real concerns. On those, our discussions were direct, candid, respectful. The president candidly conveyed his views as well. I discussed the credible reports indicating that Rwanda continues to support the M23 rebel group and has its armed forces inside the DRC. We recognize that Rwanda has security concerns of its own, including reports of cooperation between the Congolese military and the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, the DFLR, an armed group.”

In other words, he expressed a bit of obligatory concern about M23, while condoning Kagame’s decades-old excuse, that the DFLR, a Rwandan refugee group, threatens Rwanda.

There has been some faint objection in Congress, where, in May, New Jersey Senator Gregory Menendez, head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, sent Blinken a letter calling for a comprehensive review of US policy towards Rwanda, and said he would place a hold on several million dollars in support for Rwandan peacekeepers participating in UN missions.

Menendez is also the author of a draconian sanctions bill, S. 3199, that aims to control every aspect of Ethiopian society, its politics, economy, and even its public discourse, which it threatens with sanctions on anyone spreading disinformation about Ethiopia, including the diaspora.

On October 26th, Ambassador Robert Wood, US Alternative Representative for Special Political Affairs to the UN, delivered a statement in support of ongoing UN management of the conflict in Congo, which included one mild paragraph about Rwanda’s presence in Congo:

“This violence is unacceptable, and the United States calls on armed groups to discontinue their assaults on the DRC’s most vulnerable populations. We also call on state actors to stop their support for these groups, including the Rwandan Defense Forces’ assistance to M23.”

Menendez tweeted Ambassador Wood’s remarks with a somewhat more forceful statement:

Menendez tweet

Illinois Senator Dick Durban, Virginia Senator Tim Kaine, and Maryland Senator Chris Van Hollen voiced an extremely timid concern, also in a letter to Blinken , in which they noted that, “Credible reports by established human rights organizations indicate that M23 has a regular supply of modem arms and munitions that allows its members to regularly strike targets over long distances and execute precision fires against aircraft, suggesting direct state sponsored support. Given the years and degree of human suffering in eastern Congo we ask for an update on ongoing enforcement of U.S. sanctions against M23 as required by Public Law 112-239 [the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act, written while M23 was rampaging through Congo’s Kivu Provinces, committing atrocities so horrifying that the international press took heed.]

The letter does not name Kagame, Museveni, or Rwanda, but concludes,

“we respectfully request an update on persons and officials of foreign governments your departments believe to be providing support to M23, which can be by classified annex if needed. We also request you detail your current efforts to further identify and sanction persons and officials engaged in supporting M23.”

That could hardly be a more timid statement, given that the identity of persons and officials behind M23 have been known since they emerged in 2012 and 2013. This is how the UN Group of Experts on the Democratic Republic of the Congo began their January 14 Final Report :

“The most significant event of the year was the military defeat of the Mouvement du 23 mars (M23) rebel movement in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and its flight to Rwanda and Uganda. The Group of Experts on the Democratic Republic of the Congo documented human rights abuses by M23 during 2013 and confirmed that M23 received various forms of support from Rwandan territory, including recruitment, troop reinforcement, ammunition deliveries and fire support. At the time of writing the present report, the Group had received credible information that sanctioned M23 leaders were moving freely in Uganda and that M23 continued to recruit in Rwanda.”

On a positive note, Ethiopians, Eritreans, Congolese, Rwandans, and Ugandans are speaking out about the West’s hypocrisy and interference in their countries and building PanAfrican ties .


Ann Garrison is an independent journalist based in the San Francisco Bay Area. She attended Stanford University and is a member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace Development Environment. In 2014 she received the Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza Democracy and Peace Prize for her reporting on conflict in the African Great Lakes region. She can be reached at,

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Wisdom from the Jungle

While we are inundated with reports of varying credibility about the war instigated by US/NATO against Russia being fought in Ukraine, evoking justifiable hand-wringing over needless loss of life, threat of nuclear Armageddon and ever-growing windfall profits to weapons makers, we would do well to pay closer attention to Haiti, ground zero for resistance against Western colonialism and exceptionalism.

Barely a blip on the radar of mass media, we’re occasionally seeing brief reports of unrest in Haiti that belie the true scope and nature of the current uprising.  The population of Haiti has taken to the streets in ever-growing numbers, demanding their basic human rights and democracy, along with an end to corruption and to the plunder of public resources. They demand an end to US/UN occupation, and an end to the right-wing Haitian Tét Kale Party (PHTK) regime headed by Ariel Henry. They are demanding a transitional government of public safety (Sali Piblik) to create a foundation for free and fair elections and a return to democratic rule.  They are demanding an end to the terror inflicted by the Haitian National Police and paramilitaries, including the G-9 death squad led by ex-police officer Jimmy Cherizier, working with the PHTK regime. They are demanding an end to the proliferation of kidnappings, rape, police killings, and massacres throughout the country, such as the horrific Lasalin massacre.

Demonstration in Ti Gwav, Haiti, against US occupation, Oct. 2022.
(Photo by Haiti Information Project)

In typical fashion, the US, which has supported Henry and supplied arms to violent gangs, now proposes a cynical response to the chaos it has unleashed:  let the arsonists try to put out the fire by sending in more foreign military to suppress protest and keep Haitians under control, a move emphatically rejected by Haitians.

Referring to the crisis in Ukraine, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell showed the West’s true colors recently, expounding arrogantly about Europe’s privileged position as ‘a garden of liberal democracy, good economic prospects and social solidarity’ which is surrounded by ‘the jungle’.  Well, welcome to the club, Russia.  You’re now part of ‘the jungle’, too, a condescending designation—along with other choice vulgar monikers—that Western leaders have slapped on Haiti since its inception.

Haiti is not a poor country.  It’s a robbed country. Haiti’s people and valuable natural resources have been exploited over the last 500 years by the effects of slavery, racism, colonialism, imperialism, anti-communist hysteria, militarism, kleptocracy, corporate globalization and free trade imposed by Western powers.  If you’ve ever marveled at the splendor of Paris with its magnificent palaces, imposing monuments and grand avenues, recall that these were financed through the blood, sweat and tears of enslaved people working the cane fields of Saint Domingue (now Haiti), in an early chapter of the global drug trade, the drug of choice at the time being heretofore scarce sugar.

The enslaved people’s defiance and determination to assert their dignity led to the 1791-1804 Haitian Revolution culminating in the establishment of the first free republic in the Western hemisphere.  Extortion, co-opting and sabotage by Western powers set in immediately, thwarting completion of the revolutionary vision, but Haitians have never stopped keeping their eyes on the prize.

In 1915 as the movement to cast off the yoke of corrupt elites under Western patronage grew, Woodrow Wilson sent in the US Marines to quell masses agitating for their rights.  The US military occupied Haiti for 19 years, taking full control of the national treasury, re-writing the constitution, establishing an army to repress the people, and re-instituting slavery in the form of forced labor to build roads to serve military and commercial interests.  During the “red scare” of the mid-20th century, the US handsomely rewarded the merciless Duvalier dictators for keeping “communism” at bay.

Class at the Aristide Foundation for Democracy in Port-Au-Prince, Haiti, 2011.  (Photo by M. Langlois)

The most recent blossoming of self-determination in Haiti followed the emergence of the Lavalas movement in the late 1980’s. For several years between 1990 and 2004 (interrupted by the CIA-backed violent coup d’état of 1991 and ensuing severe repression), Haitians under Lavalas leadership made remarkable gains in lifting up the poor in the areas of education, health care, increased wages, children’s rights, status of women, infrastructure, justice and human rights, political democracy, freedom of religion, combating drug trafficking and corruption, and international relations.  All this while the US waged relentless economic warfare, seeking to regain control of Haiti’s workforce and natural resources.

Adding insult to injury, no sooner had Haitians turned out in unprecedented numbers to jubilantly celebrate their bicentennial on Jan. 1, 2004—a pivotal event for all freedom loving people that was scandalously ignored by most media in the US—than the US, France and Canada conspired to carry out the February 29, 2004 coup d’état, kidnapping President Aristide and ushering in US marines, later replaced by multi-national UN forces, slamming the brakes on further implementation of the Lavalas vision of inclusion, participation and transparency.  President Aristide often emphasized that the problem is exclusion and the solution is inclusion, where everyone has a seat at the table, moving people from misery to poverty with dignity and beyond.

The US appointed coup regime cast much of the population back into misery and violently repressed the Fanmi Lavalas party, as noted in their recent statement:

“…since the kidnapping/coup d’état of February 29, 2004, the occupation of the country has caused more corruption, more massacres in the popular/working-class neighborhoods, more impunity, more hunger, more misery, more actors in the economic sector who have allied themselves with gangs that are increasing the digging of graves daily. Many billions of dollars were spent for the occupation, and for what? The situation has continued to worsen, as we all can attest. This calamity is the result of the 2004 coup…”

And yet the Haitian people’s resistance to exploitation continues, as seen in the growing mobilizations.    The Lavalas statement goes on to assert:

“The solution for Haiti is in the hands of Haitians… the time has come to find together how we will stop the machine of insecurity that is spreading death everywhere in the country. Yes, it is not too late.  The future of Haiti is in our own hands, Haitian People. Together, let us safeguard our dignity.”

To non-Haitians who ask, what can I do to help?  If you live in the EU, Canada or US (as I do), educate your fellow countrymen and tell your leaders in no uncertain terms:

Stop viewing yourselves as more enlightened, more democratic, more able to solve problems, more deserving of material comforts than the people of Haiti.  Let go of your compulsion to control others in the guise of pretending to “save” them.  End the economic, political and military meddling in Haiti and elsewhere.  Not in my name and not with my tax dollars.  Accept that you can’t always tell others what to do, and get used to respecting other nations and interacting with them collaboratively.

“The free black man will never break.” Haiti, 2016
(Photo by M. Langlois)

If you live in other parts of the world (aka ‘the jungle’), tell your leaders to reject US pressure to send your soldiers, dressed as gun-toting blue-helmeted ‘peacekeepers’, to Haiti.

Haitians need to be guaranteed the opportunity of full participation in shaping their own future.  Haiti rejects assistance from the gun and does not need the “gift” of loans which create onerous debt.  It does not need to be told what to plant, or for whom to provide sweatshop labor, or to whom its vast natural resources should be siphoned off.  Haitian children deserve to be nurtured and cared for, not orphaned and made destitute, ripe for trafficking.  Haiti must not be forced to fight for crumbs at the world’s banquet table.  Such injustice has lasted too long.

In my several visits to Haiti since the 2004 coup, I have seen Haitians come together to solve problems in the daily struggles of life.  I witnessed their commitment to the true values of democracy.  The Haitian people won their freedom 200 years ago, and they insist on shaping their own future.  Now it is time for the global institutions to step aside and let Haiti enjoy the freedom for which its people have fought, died, and suffered so much.  I was humbled to interact with so many people whose determination is still alive; people who refuse to give up their dream and vision of a Haiti in which everyone’s basic needs are met and the human spirit can thrive.

As is all too clear, Western thievery and arrogance are not directed at Haiti alone.  In the above paragraphs, substitute ethnic Russians in Donbass, Palestinians, Ethiopians, Eritreans, Congolese, Yemenis, Syrians, Cubans, etc., for Haitians, and you’ll connect the dots.  We must stand with the bulk of the human family on the receiving end in setting their greedy relatives straight.


Marilyn Langlois is a member of TRANSCEND USA West Coast. She is a volunteer community organizer and international solidarity activist based in Richmond, California.  A co-founder of the Richmond Progressive Alliance, member of Haiti Action Committee and Board member of Task Force on the Americas, she is retired from previous employment as a teacher, secretary, administrator, mediator and community advocate.

Tags: Anglo AmericaAnti-imperialismBullyingCultural imperialismHaitiHegemonyImperialismLatin America CaribbeanSanctionsSouth AmericaUSA


This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 7 Nov 2022.

Survivors Uncensored: Voices from Rwanda and the Rwandan Diaspora

Most reporting on the Rwandan 1994 atrocities was false and driven by the Clinton administration’s need to hide its culpability. The book Survivors Uncensored allows Rwandans to tell their own story.

21 Sep 2022 – Samantha Power, former UN Ambassador, National Security Advisor, current USAID Chief, and a principal in the decisions to bomb both Libya and Syria “to stop genocide,” was on the ground in Yugoslavia in the 1990s as a pro-NATO journalist. She went on to build her whole histrionic career on a Machiavellian distortion of the Rwandan Genocide before writing “A Problem from Hell, America in the Age of Genocide ” and creating her laughable 1-800-GENOCIDE line.

Search now for Ukraine and “genocide” and you’ll get a slew of headlines and proposed prosecutions. Recently, Samantha Power spoke with Rachel Maddow in a segment titled “Samantha Power on Russian Atrocities and ‘Genocide’: ‘The Facts Are Plain as Day‘.” Everything’s black and white and plain as day for Samantha Power and the humanitarian imperialists, and everything returns to Rwanda. Bill Clinton, the US, and the “international community” legendarily failed to stop genocide in Rwanda and have thus been morally obliged to “stop genocide” everywhere since.

In fact, Bill Clinton didn’t fail. He acted in accordance with US policy at the time, which was to see the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) led by then General, now President, Paul Kagame win the Rwandan war, seize power in Kigali, and become a key manager of the enormous resource wealth in the neighboring Democratic Republic of the Congo, which was then called Zaire.

Clinton sent his UN Ambassador, the late Madeleine Albright, to the UN Security Council to block any attempt to mobilize a multilateral force to join the UN Mission already on the ground in Rwanda to stop the massacres.

What the Security Council is supposed to do, in accordance with the UN Charter and in response to urgent situations like Rwanda’s in 1994, is to organize a multilateral force to intervene with a UN mandate. The US blocked intervention by a multilateral UN force, then went on to use the consequent tragedy as an excuse for its unilateral crusades “to stop genocide,” which are in fact imperialist wars.

Any political and/or military entity that the US and NATO are at odds with is now said to be guilty of genocide. Ethnic, religious, and racial groups are quick to claim to be genocide victims with consequent prerogatives. And the once solidly anti-war left has divided in response.

In “Slouching Towards Sirte, NATO’s War on Libya and Africa ,” Max Forte wrote, “Everywhere is Rwanda for the humanitarian imperialist, which makes one want to know what really happened there in 1994.”

Survivors Uncensored ” is the latest of honest answers to that question, which also include “Rwanda and the New Scramble for Africa, from Tragedy to Useful Imperial Fiction ,” “How Paul Kagame Deliberately Sacrificed the Tutsis ,” “In Praise of Blood: Crimes of the Rwandan Patriotic Front ,” “Enduring Lies: The Rwandan Genocide in the Propaganda System, 20 Years Later ,” “Post-Genocide Rwandan Refugees: Why They Refuse to Return ‘Home’: Myths and Realities ,” and “Dying to Live: A Rwandan Family’s Five-Year Flight Across the Congo .”

This book is a collection of voices of those who lived through the four-year Rwandan war and massacres and of the prelude and aftermath. Its full title is “Survivors Uncensored: 100+ Testimonies from Survivors of the Rwandan Genocide as Well as Pre- and Post Genocide Rwanda; Inspiring stories of Resilience and Humanity.”

These voices are rigidly censored inside Rwanda, where the totalitarian dictatorship of Paul Kagame demands absolute adherence to its account of demon Hutus slaughtering innocent Tutsis, perhaps as many as a million in a hundred days. And to its legally enforced “Genocide against the Tutsi” description, which is meant to hide his Rwandan Patriot Front’s massacres of Hutus throughout the four-year war in Rwanda and then in refugee camps in what was then called Zaire, now the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The names of those speaking for the book from inside Rwanda have been changed for their protection.

Outside Rwanda, the RPF’s fanatics and enforcers slander, threaten, and even try to prosecute anyone, Rwandan or not, who dares to deviate from their story. Hence the title, “Survivors Uncensored.”

100+ Voices

I highly recommend reading the book and all its 100+ voices, but I can only highlight a few here. Many are fascinating accounts of Rwanda well before and after the 1990-1994 war that broaden the war’s historical context, but I’m going to focus on just a few testimonies about what took place during the war that run counter to the widely received story.

Nadine Kazuba on the 1990-1994 war 

Nadine Kazuba begins the book’s third chapter by saying that her testimony will focus on what she and her family experienced during the war. She was almost ten years old when it began and said she heard that Rwanda had been attacked by a Tutsi-led rebel group known as the Rwandan Patriotic Front, the party that has ruled ever since its army advanced to Kigali and won the war.

She then saw things change through her ten-year-old eyes. Curfews were established. “There was fear in people’s eyes, there was confusion.” Soldiers began appearing in combat uniforms with weapons she had never seen.

The RPF, many of whom had been serving in the Ugandan army, crossed the Ugandan border to attack Northern Rwanda, and soon she and others began hearing of Northern Rwandans fleeing their homes, and of the RPF killing people in the most gruesome ways: “. . . invading homes and stabbing people, shooting them, mutilating them, decapitating them. They would also group people into crowds, then throw grenades into the crowds.”

By 1991, the RPF was attacking parts of Northern Rwanda where her parents and grandparents had grown up and where many of her relatives still lived. Her grandfather at first resolved to die in his own home, but finally fled, joined her grandmother and other relatives in a camp for internal refugees where he died of a heart attack.

As conditions worsened in that camp, her parents decided to shelter as many of their relatives as they could in their home in Kigali. From 1991 to 1994, she was living in a house full of internal refugees.

Her cousins told her horror stories about crimes committed by the RPF. One story was of a young girl who was with her father when the RPF killed and decapitated him. She showed up in a camp wearing her father’s jacket and carrying his head.

In Chapter 4, Kazuba gives testimony to what she saw in Nyacyonga Refugee Camp, just outside Kigali, which was ringed with camps sheltering a million desperate refugees by the time the RPF assassinated President Habyarimana and the final hundred days of massacres began.

She saw malnourished children living in huts made of wood, covered with leaves, and, if they were lucky, a plastic cover to stop the rain from getting in. Not enough to keep a tropical storm out, but better than nothing.

She saw horribly unsanitary conditions.

She saw children taking care of children, including a boy younger than herself who was taking care of three younger siblings. She could not imagine having such responsibility.

The children from that camp would walk miles barefoot, malnourished, in torn clothes to beg for food in Kigali.

Seeing all this, she said she already had an idea of who the RPF were and resolved to flee from them as fast as possible if she had to. In the end she lost three uncles, five cousins, and many other relatives to the RPF. She said she felt she would betray them and other Rwandans, Congolese, and Burundians who were killed if she remained silent about what she had seen.

Chapter 7, Eric Ngoga on his family’s ordeal during the war

Eric Ngoga’s family story is well worth reading, but his account is also particularly interesting to me because it begins with his description of the consequences of multi-party democracy, the political system that the West forced on Rwanda, as it has on so much of the world.

“In the early 90s,” he writes, “with the start of the multi-party system, everything changed. Our neighborhood saw the rise of fanatics towards the different political parties in Rwanda. And in a few months, all these parties had their flags in front of the business area near the road. Within a span of 20 meters, we had PSD, PL, MDR, and MRND flags just one next to each other. In the earliest days, everyone was tolerant about the political affiliation of the others. But as time went by, sabotage started, and the flags would get stolen by the opponents or the flagpoles were removed. Later the flag of CRD was also present, but at that time, the PSD, PL, and MDR were removed.”

UPI reported on multi-party democracy coming to Rwanda in 1991: “Rwanda, like other developing countries, has been under heavy pressure from Western donors of financial aid to end the one-party political system.”

Ngoga also described less than positive consequences to the peace process and the 1993 Arusha Accords, which were also imposed on Rwanda by the West. “In those times, the political space in Rwanda was changing quickly because of the peace agreements between the government of Rwanda and the RPF. For these reasons, some places were very dangerous and the security was precarious. My neighborhood was one of those that was radicalized and came under complete control of the Interahamwe [the ad hoc militia who massacred Tutsis and anyone else they didn’t like]. My neighborhood was like an island of danger, but the Interahamwe were able to control only a small territory.”

Needless to say, neither multi-party democracy nor the Arusha Accords led to good outcomes. Three years after the introduction of multi-party democracy and less than a year after the Arusha Accords were signed, Rwanda had been even further ravaged by the RPF’s invasion and war: the RPF had assassinated President Habyarimana, massacres had shocked the world, and millions of refugees were fleeing into every country neighboring Rwanda, but most of all into what is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Ironically, Rwanda is now ruled by the Rwandan Patriotic Front’s one-party dictatorship which stages charades of multi-party democracy every few years. During the 2010 presidential election, three real candidates attempted to run, but they were never even allowed to register their parties, and by the time the election was over, two of the three were in prison and the third was in exile.

In the last election, President Kagame claimed to have won 99% of the vote, but Western powers and leaders—those who insisted that Rwanda institute multi-party democracy—can’t praise him enough.

The RPF, a signatory to the Arusha Peace Accords, has waged a resource war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo since 1996.


Ann Garrison is an independent journalist based in the San Francisco Bay Area. She attended Stanford University and is a member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace Development Environment. In 2014 she received the Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza Democracy and Peace Prize for her reporting on conflict in the African Great Lakes region. She can be reached at,

Go to Original –

Remembering Marikana

South Africa needs to build a society that’s decent and doesn’t humiliate people.

By Dion Forster

On 16 August mine workers, activists and no doubt a few politicians will gather on the now infamous rock outcrop near the former Lonmin Platinum mine in Marikana, North West province, to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the Marikana massacre. This was the most lethal use of force by the South African police since the 1976 Soweto uprising against the then apartheid regime. At least 138 people died in three days.

SA artist unveils Marikana massacre-inspired exhibition at NY museum 8-18-2022 12-02-51 AM

In fact, the Marikana massacre was so brutal that it has been likened to the 1960 Sharpeville Massacre, where apartheid police shot unarmed civilians in their backs as they fled, killing 69. They were protesting against identity documents that black people were forced to carry, restricting their movement.

Between 12 and 16 August 2012 a total of 47 people died. Among them were 34 miners from the Lonmin Platinum mine shot by police. Another 10, including two policemen and two mine security guards, were killed by protesting mineworkers. Three others died after the strike had ended. In addition, 78 miners were injured. Most of them were shot with R5 military style assault rifles by police officers and security officers from the Lonmin Mine.

This year, the commemoration of the event coincides with my professorial inaugural lecture at the Faculty of Theology, Stellenbosch University. How does my work as a public theologian and ethicist link with violence and the unnecessary loss of life that took place in Marikana?

It transpired as I was conducting some research for my inaugural lecture. I came across a detail in interviews with the striking miners that I had not seen before. Central to the mineworkers’ demands was an appeal to decency.

I wish to take my cue from the philosopher Avishai Margalit, who, in his book The Decent Society, asserts that (p.1)

a decent society is one whose institutions do not humiliate people.

He argues that it is the confronting of societal evil that brings us to a politics of decency.

Based on my research into the massacre and its aftermath, I believe that the urgent task in South Africa is to learn to live more “decently in an indecent society” – and never to forget Marikana.

What is decency?

The tradition of the professorial inaugural lecture is that when one is promoted to full professor one should have something to “profess”. Having spent years reading, listening, reflecting, teaching and writing, one would have a body of work, and perhaps even a few ideas, to share.

I really struggled to discern what to say. After all, what would be fitting, responsible, or proper, for a white male ethicist to “profess” in Stellenbosch, South Africa, in 2022? My struggle deepened as I reflected on the indecent, and racist, act of a white student urinating on the belongings of a black student at the university. He has since been expelled.

When the university set the date of my lecture for 16 August 2022, I realised that it coincided with the 10th anniversary of the Marikana massacre. I had previously written about the massacre and its iconic leader, Mgcineni Noki.

That article argued that religious people and faith communities must once again take up the struggle for justice in South Africa as a primary concern. Moreover, two of my PhD students, Jayson Gribble and Jaco Botha, had conducted research on the Marikana massacre. So I was relatively familiar with this painful event in the country’s history. However, as I was reading interviews with the miners I came across something that I had not seen before. It shook me.

In her book Marikana: Voices from South Africa’s Mining Massacre, Kate Alexander records (p. 25) that the striking miners

wanted their employer, Lonmin, to listen to their case for a decent wage. But this threatened a system of labour relations that had boosted profits for Lonmin, and had protected the privileges of the dominant union, the National Union of Mineworkers. It was decided to deploy ‘maximum force’ against the workers.

Many South Africans have become accustomed to the phrase a “living wage”, as used in labour relations. It refers to a minimum income that allows workers to subsist. It’s a brutal society in which people would settle for mere living as an acceptable standard.

At Marikana, the workers were clear: they were advocating not only for a “living wage”; they were holding their employer to a higher standard. They wanted a “decent wage”, and they hoped that the rights accorded to them in a democratic South Africa would protect them in their cause.

They wanted to secure a standard of living that could deconstruct the historical indecencies of migrant labour, the separation of families, living in poverty and being humiliated and dehumanised by rich and powerful people and institutions. To them that amounted to at least R12,500 (US$758 at today’s exchange rate) a month.

Let us pause for a moment to reflect on this word: “decent”.

What might it mean in the South African context? What might it mean on the 10th anniversary of the Marikana massacre?

Decency for the victims of the Marikana massacre was about more than just meeting their bare needs for survival. Yet, while they were striking for decency, their employer, and the nation, enacted the most violent of institutional humiliations upon them. They were killed in an indecent manner. To date there have still not been any prosecutions of the police and security officers who killed the miners.

Sadly, South Africa and South Africans seem to be slipping ever more deeply into indecency, as shown by the recent gang rape of eight women in Krugersdorp, west of Johannesburg.

The country has one of the highest rates of rape and gender-based violence in the world.

In search of saints

The American novelist Kurt Vonnegut was once asked how he made sense of living through one of the most difficult and violent times in that country’s history. The 1970s saw the peak of the Vietnam war, rising poverty, increasing economic inequality, political corruption under President Richard Nixon, and the deepening of American racial injustice. He replied (p. viii),

what made living almost worthwhile for me were the saints I met. They could be anywhere. They are people behaving decently in an indecent society.

If someone were to ask me the same question, I would have to say that I am looking for some ordinary “saints”. In fact, I do see them from time to time. They are people behaving decently amid the indecencies of society.

They are feeding the hungry, advocating for justice, working for peace, and holding the powerful to account.

South Africa needs more people, and collectives, who are committed to living decently, whose commitment is to undo the systemic humiliation caused by the nation’s political and economic institutions, which is shamefully overlooked by its citizens. This is an urgent task.The Conversation

Dion Forster, Full Professor of Ethics and Head of Department, Systematic Theology and Ecclesiology, Director of the Beyers Naudé Centre for Public Theology, Stellenbosch University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.


Leif Eiriksson Peace Award 2022 to Johan Galtung

From the Peace 2000 Institute an

d Mirpuri Foundation

The award was presented on 8 July 2022 by Thor Magnusson from the Peace 2000 Institute through the Mirpuri Foundation at the Lisbon Opera House, Portugal. 1,400 people attended.

Johan Galtung, a professor of peace studies, dr hc mult, is founder of TRANSCEND International and rector of TRANSCEND Peace University. He was awarded among others the 1987 Right Livelihood Award, known as the Alternative Nobel Peace Prize. Galtung has mediated in over 150 conflicts in more than 150 countries, and written more than 170 books on peace and related issues, 96 as the sole author. More than 40 have been translated to other languages, including 50 Years-100 Peace and Conflict Perspectives published by TRANSCEND University Press. His book, Transcend and Transform, was translated to 25 languages. He has published more than 1700 articles and book chapters and over 500 Editorials for TRANSCEND Media Service. More information about Prof. Galtung and all of his publications can be found at


This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 15 Aug 2022.

Anticopyright: Editorials and articles originated on TMS may be freely reprinted, disseminated, translated and used as background material, provided an acknowledgement and link to the source, TMS: Leif Eiriksson Peace Award 2022 to Johan Galtung, is included. Thank you.

Back in Time: How the ‘Master Narrative’ shapes racist reporting on the Monkeypox

The recent racist western media coverage of the monkeypox virus outbreak has tragically taken us centuries back in history, as we are painfully reminded of the times when black people have derogatively been compared to apes.

The biased way the monkeypox virus has been constructed in the Western media, evokes distressing memories dating back to the days of slavery and colonialism, when Africa was described as a ‘dark continent’, trauma relived of the cruel, horrible history of simianisation – when black people have been compared as being equals to apes.Consequently, as leading academics argue the way the media portrays global health issues reflects the power structures shaping public health thinking in the international community.

Lending credence to prevailing views on how the western media influences and aides systematic racism by dehumanising black people, the manifestations of which we are daily resisting through campaigns such as the #BlackLivesMatter.

Disturbing outdated images are circulating, to tell a story, that has nothing to do with people portrayed or the African continent, but mere conjecture – only useful in serving a self-fulfilling prophecy about Africa or its people.

The intention of this article is not so much about scientific issues as they relate to the monkeypox, but rather, a concern about, the historically demeaning, unscrupulous journalism which reinforces racism and homophobia -lacking any modicum of professionalism and respectability.

Accordingly, raising important questions on the role of the media in prompting racism, how information disseminated impacts belief and value systems vis-à-vis as it relates to racial differences, stereotypes and racial micro-aggressions, (Kassia E. Kulaszewicz, 2015).

The way the monkeypox news has been framed, immediately makes one believe for a little while, that the affected have either been to Africa and got infected there or have been in contact with someone who has.

Turns out not.

Further reading and research suggests otherwise, the current monkeypox virus, over a 100 confirmed cases in 20 countries, originated in communities of these countries with no links to a black person or the African continent.

Consequently, I argue here that there is a history to the perpetuation of negative stereotypes, ‘that assigns calamity to the African race and privilege or immunity to other races,’ as the outraged Foreign Press Association Africa (FPAA), rightly voices out.

Award winning author Chimamanda Adichie’s TED Talk, ‘The danger of a single story’, takes centre stage, how the Western media has risked credibility, blinkered by negative stereotypes about ‘other’ people or places – Africa being a place of disease and catastrophe.

Meaning that the reporting by racist western media on the monkeypox is a ‘dangerous single story’ caught in action.

There is a history and context to this dichotomy of ‘white purity’ and ‘black calamity’, or the deliberate distinction between barbarism and civilisation.

As we assess and dig deeper, we recover important knowledge about our past, at the same time dismantling negative biases and stereotypes as fronted by early European historians, which were based on racism and ethnic superiority.

Leading us to identify the problem here being in the logic of the ‘Master narrative’ which is rooted in historical ethnocentrism as told through Eurocentric views about Africa by colonists. A place devoid of ‘light’ the ‘dark continent’ (Henry Morton Stanley), a place of conquest and a people easily subdued, Christopher Columbus, “ these natives are so nice, we’d be crazy not to enslave them!”

That rediscovery tragically, takes us back to Enlightenment science, where the humanisation of the orangutan (ape) went hand in hand with the animalisation of Africans and Ameri Indians.

In the journal article ‘Challenging Boundaries Apes and Savages in Enlightenment’, Silvia Sebastiani,(2016), interrogates two cases that emphasize the historical and epistemological relationship between apes and slaves: the Scot-tish judge James Burnet, Lord Monboddo (1714-99), who saw the orang-utan as exemplifying primordial man, and the English planter Edward Long, who stressed the resemblance between the orang-utan and the African.

More distressing history – Louis Agassiz a Harvard Professor of geology and zoology, ‘a venerated’ scientist of his time, 1873, would argue that that blacks were a separate species, a “degraded and degenerate race”.

Patrice Lumumba during his inauguration speech in 1960, would boldly remind Belgian colonisers, “Nous ne sommes plus vos macaques!” (We are no longer your monkeys).

A statement made in context.

We read journalist Pamela Newkirk’s Spectacle, here she narrates Ota Benga’s appalling ordeal in the hands of vile racists, when he is brought in from Africa to the United States, as a human zoo exhibit.

Benga is exhibited as part of an anthropology exhibition at the St. Louis World’s Fair, after which two years later, he is caged together with an orangutan in the the New York Zoological Gardens in the ‘Monkey House’. An attraction that is described as an ‘international sensation’, making global headlines.

The reporting on the monkeypox, has reminded us of our struggle against racism, triggered emotions of a centuries long history, that we have been treated as sub-human.

A history that still haunts us as we struggle with the Covid-19 pandemic we realise how black and brown bodies are disproportionately impacted to white ones – a medical apartheid.

In her commentary, ‘A Pandemic on a Pandemic: Racism and COVID-19 in Blacks’ Cato Laurencin, interrogates COVID-19 cases and deaths that are on the rise among black people, arguing that this has to be partly associated with medical effects of policing, medical mistrust associated with negative police interactions, and medical bias in our health care institutions.

In conclusion, I say that we can only overcome the ‘Master Narrative’ by telling our own stories, funding our own media institutions and continuing to re-write our history, through our lenses and experiences.

Grace Kwinjeh is a journalist and she can be reached on

NO to Mandates! YES to Wise Power!

Diane Perlman and Marilyn Langlois

27 Apr 2022 – Transcend Method and Wise Power Special Presentation (beginning at 13m:50s in the video) by Diane Perlman and Marilyn Langlois, the US Conveners of Transcend International founded by Johan Galtung, father of peace studies and conflict transformation, and guest editorialists of Transcend Media Service-TMS.



Perlman’s slide presentation, entitled WISE POWER™ Paradigm: Beyond Hard, Soft & Smart Power – Quantum Politics & Second Order Change proposes a model of Wise Power™, akin to the Transcend Method of conflict transformation, representing solutions-oriented, outside-the-box thinking to create a new reality that bridges seemingly intractable legitimate goals. They considered how this can be applied to the Ukraine situation and other conflicts. Followed by group discussion.

Diane Perlman, PhD   is a clinical and political psychologist, devoted to applying knowledge from psychology, conflict studies and social sciences to designing strategies and policies to reverse nuclear proliferation, to drastically reduce terrorism, reduce enmity, and to raise consciousness about nonviolent strategies for tension reduction and conflict transformation. She is a visiting scholar at the School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution at George Mason University, is active in Psychologists for Social Responsibility, the TRANSCEND Network for Peace Development Environment, and on the Global Council of Abolition 2000. Some of her writings can be found on her websites,  and Email:

Marilyn Langlois is a member of TRANSCEND USA West Coast. She is a volunteer community organizer and international solidarity activist based in Richmond, California.  A co-founder of the Richmond Progressive Alliance, member of Haiti Action Committee and Board member of Task Force on the Americas, she is retired from previous employment as a teacher, secretary, administrator, mediator and community advocate.

US Threatens Ethiopia and Eritrea with Illegal “Legal Designation of Genocide”

25 May 2022 – The US is falsely accusing Ethiopia and Eritrea of hindering food aid and committing genocides in the ongoing war in Tigray. The charges are false and the US has no right to make such a claim on its own.

United Nations World Food Programme trucks in Ethiopia

During the Obama Administration, the excuse for US wars of aggression shifted from the War on Terror to the so-called humanitarian wars to stop genocide and mass atrocities, which were then championed by top Obama officials Samantha Power and Susan Rice. The US and NATO destroyed Libya and began the relentless bombing of Syria “to stop genocide.”

In November 2020, Ethiopians and Eritreans began to fear—with good reason—that they’ll be next. That fear continues today, as the US threatens them with an illegal “legal designation of genocide” in Ethiopia’s Tigray Region.

I’m still writing from Ethiopia, specifically from Bahir Dahr, the capital of Amhara Region, today. Water politics are essential in the Horn and the wider region, so I hear about them every day. As a result, I’ve only recently learned that, during NATO’s war on Libya, it deliberately destroyed that country’s water infrastructure , a war crime under the Geneva Convention. The destruction of Libya was itself an international crime, the destruction of its water infrastructure a crime within that crime.

Black Agenda Report readers are no doubt aware of this, but before going on, I should nevertheless note that according to international law, only the UN Security Council (UNSC) has the international legal authority to rule that genocide, war crimes, or crimes against humanity are happening or have happened. According to the UN Charter, the UNSC can then organize a multilateral military response or refer cases to the International Criminal Court. U.S. policymakers’ claim to have the legal right to “legally designate” the international crimes which they themselves are most guilty of is just more of the arrogance of power in pursuit of global hegemony.

As I write this I remember Minnesota Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, asking a State Department official how close they are to a “legal designation” that Ethiopia and Eritrea are committing genocide in Tigray. I remember a State Department official replying, essentially, that they’re still working on that. In other words, that they’re still hanging it over Ethiopia and Eritrea’s heads.

Congressman Brad Sherman can’t wait

In a Congressional hearing last week, California’s 30th District Congressman Brad Sherman repeated his demand that the State Department issue that “legal designation” that both Ethiopia and Eritrea are committing genocide by blocking food aid convoys to the country’s Tigray Region, so as to justify the use of military force against both. Sherman wants Biden to deploy the U.S. Navy to block Eritrea’s ports, Massawa and Assab , which would be an act of war in violation of international law:

“I’ve suggested ways to pressure the Ethiopian and especially, and particularly, the Eritrean government, which has, of course, the ports that could be used, particularly by interrupting sea traffic going, you know, even hundreds of miles away from Eritrea. And I think a determination of genocide would spur our administration to do more than simply send harsh letters to Addis Ababa and Asmara . . .  Only the Administration can provide the pressure, and only the Administration can use the US Navy to put additional pressure on the two countries involved.”

There is no siege of Tigray

This week New Zealand journalist Alastair Thompson and I both returned from Ethiopia’s Afar Region, where we saw aid convoys traveling on the Djibouti-Ethiopia Highway to Mekelle, the capital of Tigray. In Semara, I spoke to Kenyan convoy drivers returning from Mekelle, who said that they had traveled unhindered from Nairobi to Addis Ababa and then to Mekelle to deliver aid for the International Committee of the Red Cross.

I asked Alastair Thompson to describe aid convoys he saw while traveling north to Abala, a town on Afar Region’s border with Tigray Region.

Alastair Thompson: I traveled north on Saturday, the 14th of May, to Abala, which is on the border with Tigray, as you point out, and where there has been significant amounts of conflict. And on the way I saw a large number of trucks driving up. We drove past them because they were traveling more slowly than we were. And on the following day, when we returned, we saw more trucks traveling up and we also saw a large convoy staged at Silsa, about maybe 100 kilometers from Semara that was about to depart from Mekelle.

AG: Did you see any sign that the convoys were being hindered?

AT: None whatsoever. After the convoys depart from Silsa, the security is fairly simple. There are a series of checkpoints, not that many of them, at different intervals along the road manned by the Afar. There’s no sign of the Ethiopian army in the area. And there seems to be a very orderly running of the convoys.

And my understanding is that over the past couple of weeks there have been a lot more convoys than there have been in the past.

AG: Are there scanners?

AT: Yes. The scanners are outside Semara at a place called Sardo, which all the trucks have to go through. They’re large scanners that the trucks have to drive through and they’re capable of identifying electronic devices and metal and so forth—contraband. All the trucks have to pass through those before they reach Silsa and the staging point and they are guarded from there, and then they depart for Mekelle.

AG: So Brad Sherman’s claim that the trucks are being stopped from traveling on to Mekelle seems unfounded to you?

AT: That’s completely unfounded in terms of the current situation. To the extent that there have been blockages this year, they were caused entirely by the TPLF’s own invasion and occupation of the northern Afar Region.


Ann Garrison is an independent journalist based in the San Francisco Bay Area. She attended Stanford University and is a member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace Development Environment. In 2014 she received the Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza Democracy and Peace Prize for her reporting on conflict in the African Great Lakes region. She can be reached at,

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