From the archive, originally posted by: [ spectre ]
SOMEDAY PALESTINE ?
Nikpai hopes his medal can serve as message of peace / August 20,
KABUL, Afghanistan — Noor Ahmad Gayezabi said a silent prayer while
watching the small family TV with his 13-year-old son. “Help Nikpai.
Help Nikpai. Help Afghanistan.” Then he watched his country win its
first-ever Olympic medal.
Rohullah Nikpai defeated world champion Juan Antonio Ramos of Spain on
Wednesday to earn the bronze medal in the men’s under 58-kilogram
taekwondo competition, sparking applause, wide smiles and laughter in
homes, restaurants and ice cream parlors around the country. “When I
saw that he won, I jumped up and hugged and kissed my son,” Gayezabi
said. “I was crying.”
President Hamid Karzai immediately called to congratulate Nikpai. He
also awarded him a house at the government’s expense, said Humayun
Hamidzada, the president’s spokesman. “I hope this will send a message
of peace to my country after 30 years of war,” Nikpai said.
The victory led all of Afghanistan’s evening newscasts. “I am so
happy. I cannot express my feelings in words,” said Mohammad Akbar,
33, who watched on a TV at his Kabul pharmacy. “While I was watching
the match I was clapping I was so happy.”
Nikpai, who is 21, started learning the Korean martial art when he was
10 because his brother had found a club in Kabul to train. Not only
was it an escape from the daily rigors of life in a country that not
been at peace since the 1970s, he turned out to be good at it.
When Gayezabi met Nikpai, they were both living at a refugee camp in
Iran during the years of war that embroiled Afghanistan in the 1980s
and 1990s. The two competed together on a refugee taekwondo team.
Nikpai came to Kabul four years ago, Gayezabi said. In the mornings he
lifted weights and in the evenings he practiced martial arts. In
between he earned money cutting hair as a barber.
With success came better training conditions. After being selected for
the national team six months ago, he was able to use a special
gymnasium. But in a country where sports take a distant place behind
the realities of war, few resources are dedicated to training
athletes. “My training situation is a lot like the situation in my
country,” Nikpai said. “It’s not good.”
Gayezabi had a lucky few hours of electricity that allowed him to
watch his former teammate’s victory. He feared he would only be able
to listen on the radio since Kabul averages about four hours of
municipal electricity a day. “I was crying because I was remembering
back when we were both on the Afghan refugee taekwondo team in Iran,”
Only four Afghan athletes came to Beijing, representing a country that
had never won an Olympic medal and is sinking ever deeper into war as
the Taliban insurgency escalates. Sprinter Robina Muqimyar — who in
2004 broke the gender barrier on the Afghan Olympic team — was last
in a field of 85 women in the 100 meters, with a time of 14.80. She
ran with a scarf covering her head.
Teammate Massoud Azizi finished 76th in the men’s 100. He trains in
Kabul’s National Stadium, where the Taliban once staged regular public
executions, wearing jogging shoes because his spikes won’t dig into
the track’s cracked, concrete surface. But Nikpai, who is 21, has
claimed a spot among his sport’s elite. Afghanistan will get another
chance at a medal in taekwondo. Nesar Ahmad Bahave is competing in a
heavier weight class.
Hussein Rachmati, a taekwondo teacher who works in the gym where
Nikpai trains, said Nikpai prepared for the Olympics with a Korean
teacher. He placed second in the World Taekwondo Federation’s
qualifying event in Vietnam last year.
Afghans gathered around an ice cream shop TV in Kabul broke out in
wide smiles and passed around congratulations to one another after
watching Nikpai’s win, said Abdul Wafi, a 28-year-old university
student. “It is wonderful that an Afghan athlete can win a medal in
the world Olympics,” said Wafi. “It is a great achievement for
The top U.N. official in Afghanistan, Kai Eide, said the Olympic win
shows that Afghanistan can compete on the global stage against the
world’s best athletes. “Young people should draw hope and inspiration
from this Olympic win,” Eide said in a statement. “Today, Afghanistan
has demonstrated that it can and will succeed in the face of adversity
with the determination, commitment and hard work of its most precious
resource — the young people of Afghanistan.” Along with the
president’s offer of a house, Nikpai’s bronze medal comes with a cash
Ehsanullah Bayat, chairman of the Afghan Wireless Communication
Company, earlier announced that he would award any Afghan athlete who
won an Olympic bronze $10,000, along with $50,000 for a gold medal and
$25,000 for a silver, said Khalid Andisha, a spokesman for AWCC. “It
is a great victory for Afghanistan,” said Mohammad Sukran, an 18-year-
old student. “In a country like Afghanistan, the only thing we hear
about all the time is violence and fighting. This is finally good news
Nine Swiss Tibetans join Team Tibet for Beijing 2008 / 11 July 2007
Nine Tibetans living in Switzerland announced their plan to join the
proposed Tibetan Team for next year’s Summer Olympic Games in Beijing
today at a press conference in Zurich. The Tibetan Olympic team is
formed by Tibetans living in exile, and the decision to form a Team
Tibet and to campaign for it worldwide received general consensus at
the recently concluded Fifth International Tibet Support Groups
Conference held in Brussels, Belgium. Mrs. Melanie Winiger an actress
and a well known public figure in Switzerland expressed her support
for this initiative.
Among the Tibetan athletes, there is a junior Swiss champion in table
tennis, a former participant of the Youth Olympics and a beach
volleyball team competing in the Swiss championships. Tsultrim Dolma
Gope, an aspiring female participant in shot-put, described her
motivation to take part in the 2008 Beijing Olympics by saying, “I
participated in the Youth Olympic Games in Denmark when I was a
youngster. It was a fantastic feeling to enter the stadium together
with all the other Swiss athletes. I felt proud.”
“Nevertheless, secretly I was dreaming about how wonderful it would be
to enter the stadium under the Tibetan flag – with a Tibetan team,”
she said. “My dream hopefully will become true,” she adds. Mrs.
Daniela Lehmann, coordinator of the Swiss part of the Team Tibet
initiative, said, “You can’t ignore the political reality in China if
you talk about Olympics in Beijing. China uses the games to portray
herself to the outside world in a way that contradicts reality.
Occupied Tibet, especially, continues to suffer under severe human
rights violations. The young Tibetans react to this not by calling for
boycott but by demanding equal rights to participate in the games.”
“Their positive attitude and courage needs our support” she demands.
She said that the team will get in contact with various groups and
organisations such as the National Olympic Committee in Switzerland to
seek support. Swiss Team Tibet members include; Dominik Kelsang Erne
(table tennis, 26 years), Rigzin Gyaltag (cycling, 25 years), Jigme
Punkang (100 m, 25 years), Gyentsen Zatul (marathon, 26 years), Norbu
Phuntsok (beach volleyball, 23 years), Sonam Phuntsok (beach
volleyball, 18 years), and Nyima Phuntsok (tennis, 20 years) in men’s
category and Tsultrim Gope (shot put, 25 years) and Lhanzom Phunkang
(10 000 m, 20 years) in women’s category.
The press conference was concluded by Melanie Winiger calling on the
Swiss public to help the nine Tibetan athletes achieve their dream by
supporting the initiative morally, through offering training facility
“The Second Vermont Republic is a nonviolent citizens’ network and
think tank opposed to the tyranny of Corporate America and the U.S.
government, and committed to the return of Vermont to its status as an
independent republic and more broadly to the dissolution of the Union.
Members of the Second Vermont Republic subscribe to the following set
1. Political Independence. Our primary objectives are political
independence for Vermont and the peaceful dissolution of the Union.
2. Human Scale. We believe life should be lived on a human scale.
Small is still beautiful.
3. Sustainability. We celebrate and support Vermont’s small, clean,
green, sustainable, socially responsible towns, farms, businesses,
schools, and churches. We encourage family-owned farms and businesses
to produce innovative, premium-quality, healthy products. We also
believe that energy independence is an essential goal towards which to
4. Economic Solidarity. We encourage Vermonters to buy locally
produced products from small local merchants rather than purchase from
giant, out-of-state megastores. We support trade with nearby states
5. Power Sharing. Vermont’s strong democratic tradition is grounded
in its town meetings . We favor devolution of political power from the
state back to local communities, making the governing structure for
towns, schools, hospitals, and social services much like that of
Switzerland. Shared power also underlies our approach to international
6. Equal Opportunity. We support equal access for all Vermont
citizens to quality education, health care, housing, and employment.
7. Tension Reduction. Consistent with Vermont’s long tradition of
“live and let live” and nonviolence, we do not condone state-sponsored
violence inflicted either by the military or law enforcement
officials. We support a voluntary citizens’ brigade to reduce tension
and restore order in the event of civil unrest and to provide
assistance when natural disasters occur. We are opposed to any form of
military conscription. Tension reduction is the bedrock principle on
which all international conflicts are to be resolved.
8. Mutuality. Both our citizens and our neighbors should be treated
with mutual respect.”
“Est’d 2007 : FreeVermont.Net is a self-organizing network built of,
by, and for Vermonters of all political persuasions interested in
advocating Vermont’s peaceable secession from the U.S. Empire through
the annual town meeting process. Its “200 Towns” Campaign has the goal
of putting the issue of secession on the agenda of 200 Vermont town
meetings by 2010.”
THE MIDDLEBURY DECLARATION
BY Kirkpatrick Sale / November 7, 2004
We the undersigned participants of Radical Consultation II held in
Middlebury, Vermont on November 5-7, 2004, are convinced that the
American Empire, now imposing its military might on 153 countries
around the world, is as fragile as empires historically tend to be,
and that it might well implode upon itself in the near future. Before
that happens, no matter what shape the United States may take, we
believe there is an opportunity now to push through new political
ideas and projects that would offer true popular participation and
genuine democracy. The time to prepare for that is now.
In our deliberations we have considered many kinds of strategies for a
new politics and eventually decided upon the inauguration of a
campaign to monitor, study, promote, and develop agencies of
separatism. By separatism we mean all the forms by which small
political bodies distance themselves from larger ones, as in
decentralization, dissolution, disunion, division, devolution, or
secession, creating small and independent states that rule themselves.
Of course we favor such states that operate with participatory
democracy and justice, which is only attainable as a small scale, but
the primary principle is that states should enact their own separation
and self-government as they see fit.
It is important to realize that the separatist and self-determination
movement is actually the most important and most widespread political
force in the world today and has been for the last half-century,
during which time the United Nations, for example, has grown from 51
nations in 1945 to 193 nations in 2004. The break-up of the Soviet
Union and the former Yugoslavia are recent manifestations of the
separatist trend, and there are separatist movements in more than two
dozen countries at this time, including such well-known ones as in
Catalonia, Scotland, Wales, Lapland, Sardinia, Sicily, Sudan, Congo,
Kashmir, Chechnya, Kurdistan, Quebec, British Columbia, Mexico, and
the Indian nations of North America.
There is no reason that we cannot begin to examine the process of
secession in the United States. There are already at least 28
separatist organizations in this country – the most active seem to be
in Alaska, Cascadia, Texas, Hawaii, Vermont, Puerto Rico, and the
South – and there seems to be a spreading sentiment that, because the
national government has shown itself to be clumsy, unresponsive, and
unaccountable, in so many ways, power should be concentrated at lower
levels. Whether these levels should be the states or coherent regions
within the states or something smaller still is a matter best left to
the people active in devolution, but the principle of secession must
be established as valid and legitimate.
To this end, therefore, we the undersigned are pledged to create a
movement that will place secession on the national agenda, encourage
secessionist organizations, develop communication among existing and
future secessionist groups, and create a body of scholarship to
examine and promote the ideas and principles of secessionism.
“Whenever any form of government is destructive of these ends
[life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness] it is the right of the
people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government in
such form as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and
happiness.” – Declaration of Independence, 1776
THE BURLINGTON DECLARATION
Adopted at the First North American Secessionist Convention, November
5, 2006, Burlington, Vermont
We, the participants in the First North American Secessionist
Convention, though representing many different and diverse groups and
constituencies, agree on the following principles as representing the
truths of natural law and historical experience:
1. Any political entity has the right to separate itself from a
larger body of which it is a part and peaceably to establish its
independence as a free and legitimate state in the eyes of the world.
2. Governments are instituted among peoples, deriving their just
powers from the consent of their citizens, and whenever any form of
government becomes destructive of the legitimate goals of life,
liberty, prosperity, and self-determination, it is the right of the
people in democratic fashion to alter or abolish it, and to institute
new government in such form as to them shall seem most likely to
effect their safety and happiness.
3. Any government formed by and dependent upon a constitution to
regulate its actions and affairs has certain legitimate powers
delegated to it, but any powers not so delegated are reserved to the
people of that state and their democratically chosen political bodies.
4. Nations once independent should engage in peace, commerce, good
will, and honest friendship with all nations, and observe good faith,
justice, and harmony toward all, but establish entangling
relationships with none, nor engage in colonial dominance, political
or economic, over any.
5. Direct democracy, with one vote for each and every citizen (as
the polity shall designate citizenship), has proven to be a desirable
form of governance among people, but it can operate with justice and
equality only when at a small enough scale that each person may be
known to every other person; when representative forms of government
are undertaken, they should likewise best be established at a scale
small enough so that each representative can be informed of the
opinions and beliefs of the general run of the people in the
constituency or community which that person is chosen to represent.
It is within this body of principles that we ask all governments to
operate and it is by them that we ourselves, individually and the
organizations we represent, intend to be guided.
The Chattanooga Declaration
Adopted at the Second North American Secessionist Convention, October
4, 2007, Chattanooga, Tennessee
We, the delegates of the secession movements represented at the Second
North American Secessionist Convention, acknowledging our differences,
yet agree on the following truths:
1. The deepest questions of human liberty and government facing our
time go beyond right and left, and in fact have made the old left-
right split meaningless and dead.
2. The privileges, monopolies, and powers that private corporations
have won from government threaten everyone’s health, prosperity, and
liberty, and have already killed American self-government by the
3. The power of corporations endangers liberty as much as
government power, especially when they are combined as in the American
4. Liberty can only survive if political power is returned from
faraway and self-interested centers to local communities and states.
5. The American Empire is no longer a nation or a republic, but has
become a tyrant aggressive abroad and despotic at home.
6. The states of the American union are and of right ought to be,
free and self-governing.
7. Without secession, liberty and self-government can never be
sustained, and diversity among human societies can never survive.
THE SECOND VERMONT REPUBLIC
FAQ / BY Thomas H. Naylor
What is the Second Vermont Republic?
The Second Vermont Republic is a nonviolent citizens’ network and
think tank committed to the return of Vermont to its rightful status
as an independent republic as it once was between 1777 and 1791 and
more broadly to the dissolution of the Union.
What is the primary objective of the movement?
Independence. To extricate Vermont peacefully, legally, and
democratically from the United States as soon as possible.
Does that mean secession?
Why does Vermont want to secede?
First, the United States suffers from imperial overstretch and has
become unsustainable politically, economically, agriculturally,
socially, culturally, and environmentally. Second, Vermont finds it
increasingly difficult to protect itself from the debilitating effects
of big business, big agriculture, big markets, and big government, who
want all of us to be the same-just like they are. Third, the United
States government has lost its moral authority because it is owned,
operated, and controlled by Corporate America. Fourth, American
foreign policy, which is based on the doctrine of full spectrum
dominance, is immoral, illegal, unconstitutional, and in violation of
the United Nations charter. Fifth, as long as Vermont remains in the
Union its citizens face curtailed civil liberties, the risk of
terrorist attack, and the risk of military conscription of its youth.
But isn’t secession unconstitutional?
Absolutely not. “Whenever any form of government becomes destructive,
it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute
a new government,” said Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration of
Independence. Just as a group has a right to form, so too does it have
a right to disband, to subdivide itself, or withdraw from a larger
unit. The U.S. Constitution does not forbid secession. According to
the tenth amendment, that which is not expressly prohibited by the
Constitution is allowed. All states have a Constitutional right to
Besides independence, what other principles does SVR subscribe to?
Living life on a human scale; sustainability in all aspects of life;
economic solidarity; shared political power and devolution of
government back to the people; equal access to health care, education,
housing, and employment for all Vermonters; tension reduction and non-
violence; and mutual respect for our citizens and our neighboring
Does the Second Vermont Republic want to take over the government of
Absolutely, not. The people of the independent republic of Vermont
will decide how it is governed. Unlike the Free State Project in New
Hampshire, our aim is not to take over the government. For that
reason, the Second Vermont Republic takes no official position on such
controversial issues as abortion, gay marriage, school prayer, and
legalizing marijuana. These are issues for the citizens of the
independent republic to decide.
Could Vermont survive economically as an independent nation-state?
Yes! Of the 200 or so independent nation-states in the world, 50 of
them have a smaller population than Vermont (pop. 623,000). Four of
the ten richest countries in the world as measured by per capita
income are smaller than Vermont—Liechtenstein, Iceland, Luxembourg and
Bermuda. Political independence is not a synonym for economic and
political isolation. Over 600 Vermont firms export nearly 24 percent
of the State’s gross state product. We see no reason why this should
change after independence.
Is Vermont independence politically feasible?
Yes. Ultimately whether or not Vermont achieves political independence
is a question of political will. Is the will of the people of Vermont
for independence strong enough to overcome the will of the U.S.
government to prevent them from achieving their goal? In 1989 six
Eastern European allies of the Soviet Union unseated their respective
Communist governments and seceded from the Soviet sphere of influence.
With the bloody exception of Romania, this all took place
nonviolently. The Second Vermont Republic has been particularly
influenced by the solidarity movement in Poland and Czechoslovak
leader Vaclav Havel’s concept of the “power of the powerless.”
What are the steps to independence?
The Vermont Legislature must be persuaded to authorize a convention of
the people to vote on rescinding the petition for statehood approved
by the Vermont Assembly in January 1791 and ratified on March 4, 1791.
To be credible the vote should pass by at least a two-thirds majority.
Articles of Secession should then be submitted to the U.S. President,
Secretary of State, President of the Senate, Speaker of the House,
etc. Diplomatic recognition should be sought from Canada, Quebec,
Mexico, England, France, and the United Nations. And then the moment
of truth-Vermont would start behaving like an independent nation-
If we secede, what government will we have?
Currently, Vermont’s state government is one of the most centralized
governments in the United States. While it is up to the citizens of
Vermont to decide on this question, we encourage Vermonters to adopt
some form of small “r” republican representative government that draws
on aspects of both existing town and state governments in a new and
more decentralized relationship. (See Frank Bryan and John
McClaughry’s book The Vermont Papers for one proposed model).
Vermont’s own constitution provides an excellent foundation upon which
to build an independent small “r” republican government.
Will we have our own currency?
Again, the citizens of Vermont will decide on this question. One
option is to link Vermont’s currency exchange with a larger existing
regional system: the E.U.’s Euro or the Canadian “Loonie,” for
example. Other options would be to create an independent Vermont
currency or several local currencies. Still another option would be to
return Vermont to the gold standard. A thoughtful exploration of all
the currency options is already underway.
What about the financial help the federal government gives us for
education, transportation, and other programs?
The income from the federal government is of far less value to Vermont
than the stated amount, as much of what comes back to us is not
“productive” and does not contribute positively to our economy.
Observers will often note that for every dollar Vermont pays the
federal government in taxes, Vermont gets $1.12 back. This is a
misleading way of looking at the state/federal relationship, however,
as the federal dollars we receive are often targeted at specific
federally mandated programs that benefit special interest groups.
Combine this fact with the wide variety of unfunded or under-funded
federal mandates that Vermont taxpayers must ultimately underwrite in
one way or another (No Child Left Behind, for example), and the
financial “help” provided by the federal government becomes more
burdensome. Better for Vermonters to wean ourselves off burdensome
federal programs and attached dollars and develop our own independent
financing mechanisms now, instead of waiting on a bloated and indebted
With all the current immigration challenges, what about our borders?
Will people need passports to go in and out of Vermont?
Passports may indeed be a handy way of allowing for easy cross-order
travel in the new republic. Vermont citizens must decide on how best
to protect our new republic’s borders and how best to allow for an
immigration policy that balances safety with accessible cross-border
travel. There are no easy answers here, but we remain confident that
Vermonters will come to a judicious decision about how best to proceed
in this area.
What about my social security? My Medicaid and Medicare?
Established during the Great Depression of the 1930s by FDR’s “New
Deal” policies, social security represents an individual contract
between each U.S. citizen and the federal government. Thousands of
Americans living overseas collect social security payments. It is
mainly a question of whether or not the federal government will honor
individual contracts once Vermont peaceably secedes from the United
States. With regard to Medicaid and Medicare benefits, we envision
Vermont citizens developing a more decentralized and local alternative
to the existing system. What it will look like will be up to Vermont
citizens to decide.
Will our taxes be lower?
Absolutely. We will no longer be paying taxes to the federal
government, allowing us to reallocate our existing financial resources
in a more decentralized and humane manner for the benefit of an
independent Vermont republic.
What if Vermont independence fails?
Vermont still provides a communitarian alternative to the dehumanized,
mass production, mass consumption, narcissistic lifestyle which
pervades most of the United States. Vermont is smaller, more rural,
more democratic, less violent, less commercial, more egalitarian, and
more independent than most states. It offers itself as a kinder,
gentler metaphor for a nation obsessed with money, power, size, speed,
greed, and fear of terrorism.
TIBET DISQUALIFIED FOR NOT BEING
Tibet denied team at Beijing Games
LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) — The International Olympic Committee has
rejected an attempt by Tibet to field its own team at the 2008 Beijing
More than 100 Tibet supporters — including some Buddhist monks —
waved banners and Tibetan flags outside the IOC headquarters Monday,
as delegates from the unofficial Tibetan National Olympic Committee
met with the organization’s officials to discuss the request. “The IOC
is not in a position to accept our application,” said Wangpo Tethong,
a president of the Tibetan group.
Michel Filliau, a senior IOC official who took part in the meeting,
said a rule change in 1996 meant only national committees from
countries recognized by the international community can take part in
A special exemption is granted to those territories whose national
committees were recognized before 1996, said Filliau, who directs the
IOC’s relations with national committees. The Palestinian territories,
Hong Kong and Taiwan — which competes as Chinese Taipei — are among
those that benefit.
The possibility of a Tibetan participating as an “independent Olympic
athlete” also won’t happen, IOC spokeswoman Giselle Davies said. “In
this particular case, athletes from the region would fall under the
National Olympic Committee of China,” Davies said.
Beijing dismissed outright the request from Tibet, which has been
controlled by China since 1951. “Tibet is part of China’s territory,”
the Beijing organizing committee said Monday in a statement. “The
possibility of participating in the Beijing Olympics as a separate
group does not exist.”
Tethong said he was “frustrated” by what he felt was the IOC
alienating itself from its original principles. “We have about 30
athletes, all Tibetan refugees, scattered around the world,” he said.
“None of them want to start under the Chinese flag.”
Tethong was accompanied at the meeting by Jigme Puenkang, a 25-year-
old sprinter from Zurich, and Dominik Kelsang Erne, a table tennis
player who’s competed at national level in Switzerland. “We want to
send a message of hope to the people of Tibet, who are suffering under
the Chinese occupation,” Erne said.
Adolf Ogi, a former Swiss president who now serves as United Nations
envoy for sports and peace, said it was unlikely that U.N. Secretary-
General Ban Ki-moon would intervene on the Tibetans’ behalf. “We tried
it with Kosovo for the soccer World Cup and the Olympic Games, and we
failed,” he told The Associated Press. “Even if the U.N. expressed an
opinion, the decision rests with the IOC.”
Tibet is one of several delicate issues Olympic officials are having
to deal with in the run-up to next year’s games. Worries over
Beijing’s high air pollution, reporting restrictions for foreign
journalists and criticism of China’s human rights record have also
forced the IOC to engage in careful diplomacy ahead of the Olympics,
which begin on August 8.