We discussed the conference about Syria that is taking place in Montreux, Switzerland. Although the stated goal is peace, the structure of the talks is designed around removal of Assad from power. We will discuss the politics behind the war in Syria with Ajamu Baraka. Baraka writes of the peace talks, “Its main purpose was always to affect their main strategic objective – the removal of President Bashir al-Assad from power and the disappearance of Syria as an independent state.” Baraka calls them “war talks” and states that they are laying the groundwork for an attack on Syria. Alli McCracken of CODEPINK joins us to speak about her recent trip to Geneva with a delegation of women to press for the inclusion of women in the talks.
Relevant articles and websites:
Syria ‘Smoking Gun’ Report Warrants A Careful Read by Dan Murphy
Should Syria’s Future Be Decided By Men With Guns? by Medea Benjamin
Ajamu Baraka is a human rights defender whose experience spans three decades of domestic and international education and activism, Ajamu Baraka is a veteran grassroots organizer whose roots are in the Black Liberation Movement and anti-apartheid and Central American solidarity struggles.
An internationally recognized leader of the emerging human rights movement in the U.S., Ajamu has been at the forefront of efforts to apply the international human rights framework to social justice advocacy in the U.S. for more than 25 years. As such, he has provided human rights trainings for grassroots activists across the country, briefings on human rights to the U.S. Congress, and appeared before and provided statements to various United Nations agencies, including the UN Human Rights Commission (precursor to the current UN Human Rights Council).
In 1998, Ajamu was one of 300 human rights defenders from around the world who were brought together at the first International Summit of Human Rights Defenders in Paris to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Baraka also played a pivotal role in bringing a human rights perspective to the preparatory meetings for the World Conference on Racism (WCAR) that took place in Geneva in 2000 and in Santiago, Chile as part of the Latin American Preparatory process, as well as the actual conference that he attended as a delegate in Durban, South Africa in 2001.
Ajamu Baraka was the Founding Executive Director of the US Human Rights Network (USHRN) from July 2004 until June 2011. The USHRN was the first domestic human rights formation in the United States explicitly committed to the application of international human rights standards to the U.S. Under Baraka, the Network grew from a core membership of 60 organizations to more than 300 U.S.-based member organizations and 1,500 individual members who worked on the full spectrum of human rights concerns in the U.S.
While at the USHRN, Baraka also ensured that the Network spearheaded efforts to raise human rights abuses taking place in the U.S. with United Nations human rights processes and structures, including the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, the UN Human Rights Committee and the UN Human Rights Council, through its Universal Periodic Review process. By coordinating the production of non-governmental reports on human rights and organizing activist delegations to UN sites in Geneva and New York, the Network gave voice to victims of human rights abuses and provided opportunities for activists to engage in direct advocacy. These efforts resulted in specific criticisms of the U.S. human rights record and recommendations for corrective actions.
Baraka has taught political science at various universities and has been a guest lecturer at academic institutions in the U.S. and abroad. A commentator on a number of criminal justice and international human rights issues, Baraka has appeared on and been covered in a wide-range of print, broadcast, and digital media outlets such as CNN, BBC, the Tavis Smiley Show, Telemundo, ABC’s World News Tonight, Black Commentator, the Washington Post and the New York Times. He is also a contributing writer for various publications including Black Commentator, Commondreams, Pambazaka, People of Color Organize and Black Agenda Report.
Baraka is currently an Associate Fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) and is editing a new book on human rights in the U.S. entitled: “The Struggle Must be for Human Rights: Voices from the Field,” scheduled for publication in 2013.