Human Rights Violations in Palestine

Raza Against War (RAW) has launched a campaign in Fresno to seek application of the Leahy Law to suspected human rights violations in Palestine. The dual focus of this campaign are Rep. Jim Costa (D–Fresno) and Senator Alex Padilla (D–Calif.), who should be brought to task over the question, “Why is the Leahy Law not being applied to arms and aid to Israeli military units that are suspected of violations of human rights in Palestine?”

This campaign has gathered steam with vigils and bannering on the corner of Tulare and O streets near the offices of the Costa and Padilla every Wednesday from 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.

According to a statement released by RAW regarding the Leahy Law:

We ask for a Ceasefire in Gaza and application of the Leahy Law to determine if arms and military assistance to Israel should be halted.

The Leahy Amendment calls for the prohibition of funds for security forces where there is credible information of gross violations of human rights. They include but are not limited to torture, extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearance.

We thank Congressman Jim Costa for his statement (4/6/24) regarding the violence in Gaza, “For months, many of us have called for a ceasefire and the return of all the hostages. This week, we saw the horrific attacks against aid workers of the World Central Kitchen, who lost their lives, and I mourn their loss. The status quo must change.”

We ask for an even stronger response from Senator Alex Padilla, who has not issued any public statements regarding the tragic developments in Gaza since his October 10, 2023, expression of “unequivocal support for aid and armaments for Israel.

Who is Raza Against War? Raza Against War began in 2004 in response to the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan.

One major action of RAW was the “March for Peace and for the Children/Marcha Por la Paz y Por Los Niños” on Aug. 28, 2004. The action took place on that date to commemorate the Aug. 29, 1970, Chicano Moratorium, when approximately 30,000 protestors marched in Los Angeles, resulting in a police riot, massive arrests and several deaths.

In 2006, RAW organized the “March for Peace/Marcha Por La Paz” with Fernando Suarez del Solar, whose son, Jesus Suarez, was the first “Green Card” soldier to be killed in the opening days of the invasion of Afghanistan.

Jesus was born in Mexico and immigrated to the United States with his father; he wanted to join the army to fulfill his dream of becoming a law enforcement officer in the war on drugs. Sadly, Fernando later learned from members of his son’s squad that Jesus died as a result of unexploded ordnance from a U.S. cluster bomb.

According to the Costs of War project at Brown University, the 20-year “war on terror” has consumed an estimated $8 trillion of the U.S. economy and killed more than 900,000 people in the region. Researchers note the estimate does not include “the many indirect deaths the war on terror has caused by way of disease, displacement and loss of access to food or clean drinking water.”

The losses to the U.S. military include about 6,800 deaths and more than 52,000 wounded. The costs will continue to multiply due to ongoing disability payments and Veterans Administration medical and rehabilitation service to the survivors.

RAW notes that in past wars, such as Vietnam, Latinos have been disproportionately represented in casualties and deaths. Currently, the Veterans Administration predicts that Latinos, African Americans and other minorities will make up a larger proportion of the U.S. military as the number of white soldiers decreases.

In 2021, 13 U.S. service members were killed in a bombing during the withdrawal from Afghanistan. In October 2023, the Pentagon announced that 21 U.S. service members had been injured in drone and rocket attacks in Iraq and Syria, many reporting “traumatic brain injuries.”

In January 2024, three U.S. soldiers were killed and 34 were wounded in an attack on an isolated military base in Jordan. Again, the number of injured is expected to increase due to traumatic brain injuries.

The tragedy in Palestine is creating a cauldron of discontent that could cause an outbreak of violence far worse than the 20-year war on terror. This would be a war fought in dark alleys, squalid refugee settlements and military installations, where U.S. service members would be subjected to all sorts of violent deaths and life-altering injuries.

The weapons would include drones, missiles and bombs that the United States and its allies previously used in war. And they could find their way to our homeland.

Would application of the Leahy Law make a difference? It is clear that the Biden administration and Congress will continue to pass spending bills and extralegal measures to supply the aggression.

However, there has been a development regarding sanctions on settlers who have been violently attacking and displacing Palestinians from their land in the West Bank. But this narrow focus raises a question: How could the settlers’ actions be subject to sanctions but not the Israeli Defense Forces, which are committing massive bombings and attacks that inflict much greater human suffering?

Meanwhile, progressive movements ask if it would make any difference whether it’s a Trump or Biden administration under Democratic or Republican representative majorities. Either way, the fight will continue; the difference will be negotiating with an administration that might be subject to incremental influence from the left and one that supported the Abraham Accords, which supports complete annexation; moved the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem; and sees the homelands of the Palestinian people as “Gaza’s waterfront property…[which] could be very valuable.”

Unless the number of activists for peace and engaged communities reach a critical mass, the United States will certainly be drawn into a regional conflict and again find itself on the wrong side of history in a war without end.

As the vigil ended on April 17, a young man stepped forward and said he was from About Face, a veterans’ organization active in the Bay Area and other communities. He is setting up shop in Fresno and seemed apologetic for not having been to previous actions.

“We’re actually been slammed with membership requests since Oct. 7 and Aaron Bushnell’s sacrifice,”  he said. This caused the organizers to express their hope that perhaps this time history will tell a different story


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