Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Pledgetoimpeach.org - is now online.

With the growth and popularity of our Plan for Victory comes the need to expand our capacities for administering to the surging numbers of people now sending pledges and looking for results. To that end we are about to launch Pledgetoimpeach.org, where people can "pledge" on line. Our concern with online pledging has been the ability to maintain the integrity of every pledge and keep people from pledging more than once. That issue is being addressed now and the website is due to be up immediately following the election.

Please do check in on the site and of course spread the word. While Nancy Pelosi keeps saying that the people have spoken, she really doesn't want to hear what we said. We did not say "work in a bi-partisan manner" with this president. We said get rid of him and everything he represents. For a more complete position on what the election results mean to America go to the website and read the article "Dems take House - Now what?"

Thank you for joining us in our quest to restore the nation formerly known as "the good old USA."

Anthony St. Martin

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Plan for Victory experiences tremendous growth.

By Anthony St. Martin

The Plan for Victory movement has officially mobilized with a string of stirring successes and entered the first phase of the strategy to successfully impeach George Bush and other members of his administration. Following the first rally on September 8, where every eligible attendee(30) signed a pledge, I accepted invitations to speak at Camp Democracy and later at the Impeachforpeace.org rally in Minneapolis. Between the two events nearly 500 pledges were collected. If I'd had a team of pledge collectors the numbers would have been much higher.

(Video of presentation of The Plan to an estimated crowd of 1000 in Minneapolis can be viewed at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R2lzhbcYPiU)

In only the first month, pledges have been signed by people from thirteen states; mostly Democrats, with many Green Party, and a spattering of Republicans. The best description of the support I found during these travels is "overwhelming." It is like offering fresh air to coal miners. Everyone wants it - real bad.

In Washington D.C. the man at Kinko's, where I made copies of the Pledge, wanted a pledge. The woman behind the sandwich counter wanted one and more to put on the countertop. A man I borrowed a quarter from for the parking meter emphatically endorsed impeachment. Everyone I spoke to wanted this "insane" president gone. And this was three blocks from the White House!

I am happy to report a close association now formed with Impeachforpeace.org. and must express our sincere gratitude for their invitation to speak at their rally and for providing the video. Mikael, Larkin, Jodin, and the rest of their crew are honest, selfless, and dedicated defenders of our Constitution and Bill of Rights, and a reminder of the tremendous spirit of America.

I urge everyone signing a pledge here to also go to the Impeachforpeace.org website and send in a memorial asking for impeachment. This will help to prepare John Conyers for our arrival with the pledges and our requirement that he and others introduce a bill calling, not for investigations, but for impeachment. We do not need investigations when the entire world is filled with eye witnesses to the crimes committed under George Bush's authority. Only by calling for impeachment by name, will the issue claim immediate priviledge and must be heard on the spot. I promise you, that when we get rolling the time for games and deflective antics will be over.

THE PLAN - UPDATE

Our plan is to introduce the bill in February, at the convening of the new Congress. Not a day later. If the Democratic Party wins the majority we will be there to ensure that they introduce the bill and begin impeachment proceedings. If they fail we will be there to provide the back-up plan and force the entire Congress to act in accordance with the will of what is certainly the majority of Americans.

OTHER SIGNIFICANT NEWS:

We have also formed alliances with ImpeachBush.tv, and most recently with Dan DeWalt of the Newfane, Vermont town resolution for impeachment fame. Dan has invited me to come to Vermont where he says "he doesn't know of anyone who won't sign a pledge." You can bet I will be going, because we firmly believe that the key to our success is joining with other persons and groups in the pursuit of our common objective.

Two warmhearted ladies in Minneapolis, Delia Jurek and Deborah have formed the Minneapolis branch of the Pledge to Impeach Campaign. We wish them well and express our gratitude for their contributions.

We will soon have a new WEBSITE where citizens can sign a pledge on-line. Also, our first NEWSLETTER has been sent, with the second one going out soon to everyone.

Very significant is the addition of THREE STAFFERS to our campaign, with two more persons to possibly join soon. As the campaign's demands continue to grow so does the help we are attracting. Once the website is operational we will be able to begin our media outreach to spread the word far and wide of our no-more games strategy. We will also extend our efforts to build more alliances with other like-minded groups.

NAME CHANGE: The Plan for Victory remains the name of our strategy, but our public moniker will now be Pledge to Impeach. We feel this more quickly conveys our intent and what we are offering the public.


FINAL WORDS: In the end, we are working to provide an opportunity for Americans to remove those persons from office who have abused their authority over us. Success will depend on each individual's choice to participate and succeed, or sit on their hands and lose the greatest democracy the word has ever known. If our people do not respond we can no longer blame Congress, for we will share the blame for the future. But I believe they will respond.
In fact, I believe the people's response will continue to intensify as our strategy moves forward. As I told the good people of Minneapolis, it is not fear that now confounds us, but doubt. But with every success we breed more confidence, and we will continue to build that confidence into a certainty, until not a trace of doubt remains. And with every step taken by this government to dissuade or obstruct our will, more Americans will be prodded into action. Like a chinese finger trap, the more they struggle the more pressure will result until they cannot escape.
Right now collecting pledges is the most important work. If you have not yet pledged your support, please read the description of The Plan and if you agree that this is a doable and Consititutional action then sign The Pledge and mail it in. If you have already pledged, be sure that you spread the word to others to do the same. It is this exponential growth that will deliver the critical mass of support needed to assure the cooperation of one or more Congresspersons to introduce the bill to impeach the President and others.
Our destiny as a nation is still in our hands, but that could soon change. Given the erosion of habeous corpus and other civil protections, one day we could easily lose the right to assemble - for national security reasons. I know it is difficult for Americans to imagine a reshaped system dominating our daily lives, making people afraid to speak their minds in public with no right to privacy or habeous corpus, and constantly subjected to overbearing security forces. Except aren't we already there?
The nightmare of totalitarian rule can happen here if we do not reassert our system wherein authority emanates from the willingness of the people to be governed and not from the government. Thomas Paine once commented that "failed petitions only serve to encourage tyrants." Every day that we fail to stop those who are forwarding this destructive agenda serves to encourage them to take more and more power. Whatever you have done to assist impeachment, please do more. Because once our freedom is gone, like lost wages in Vegas, it is very difficult to win back.

Many thanks,
Anthony St. Martin

Monday, September 11, 2006

First "Plan for Victory" Impeachment Rally is stirring success! Get on Board!

As people arrived and began to mill about the auditorium of the State Office Building in Van Nuys, CA., the band, Blue Overtones, took to the stage. Soon a single voice, Tapia Martinez-Russ, sang sweetly in acapella, "People get ready, there's a train a'comin'," then gradually the guitars blended in, one at a time, until the trio was complete. "Picking up passengers from coast to coast." The mood was set for what would become a unanimous joining of energy and commitment to impeach the most criminal administration in US History.

Of the thirty-one attendees to the first ever Plan for Victory Rally, twenty-nine persons signed a pledge to support the bill to impeach in accordance with The Plan's strategy to deliver serious consequences for any Congressional killing of the bill. As the bucket was passed and one pledge after another was dropped in, a solemn realization crossed the faces of the participants. People were signing up. The Plan's strategy to mobilize was viable and the movement to successfully impeach the Bush regime had officially launched right before their eyes - and they were part of it. Of the only two hold-outs, one promised to sign afterwards and the other was an enthusiastic but ineligible French visitor. The vote of confidence in the Plan as well as themselves was unanimous! It was truly a thrilling experience for all.

Earlier in the program, the rally was addressed by current Green Party Congressional Candidate, Byron DeLear, former Democratic Congressional Candidate Bob McCloskey, current Green Party California Assembly Candidate Ricardo Costa, Green Party Neighborhood Council Member Eugene Hernandez, and Katrina/Bush/FEMA disaster survivor, Democrat Freddie Monroe of New Orleans. Each speaker focused on a specific cause for impeaching our President, and the case grew with every word from Paul Lindblad, Green Party County Council Member, who read the Conyers Articles of Impeachment, reminding the assembly of the administration's acts of deception, manipulation, and offences against the Constitution.

But every serious movement needs to keep its sense of humor. Kudos to the BackboneCampaign.org for volunteering the services of The Bush Chain Gang, depicting George Bush, Condi Rice, and Donald Rumsfeld in prison stripes and chains. The mute gang appeared on cue, following the reading of the morbid articles, and was gleefully paraded before the assembly by their heralding Prison Guard, who told the tale of how these people had been "tried and found guilty of crimes against the Constitution and sentenced to travel the country as a warning to anyone who might plot to usurp power over the American people." The huge papier-mache' heads were stunning in their likeness and hysterical in their helplessness, but they were "not allowed to speak, for it shall surely be a lie." The tearing away of the invincibility of these personages gave rise to a newfound confidence in the prospect of prevailing over the real characters. It was a confidence that would brighten every face. Indeed, after the rally several people were heard saying they experienced a giddy feeling when signing their pledge. That there was a sense that they were doing something direct and meaningful in opposing this government.

But, the first rally is behind us now. The path to Victory is clear. The work ahead is fundamental. We must spread word of The Plan that promises to succeed in removing the present administration and collect the seed pledges of support for the bill to impeach.

Currently, the Fifth Branch founder Anthony St. Martin (author of The Plan for Victory) is scheduled to present The Plan at Camp Democracy on September 17th. Mr. St. Martin will inform attendees from across the nation of the burgeoning movement and encourage them to organize pledge collecting rallies in their own communities. The Plan can be downloaded and disseminated by local organizers and the pledges mailed to the P.O. Box. Or, if need be, Mr. St. Martin will attend any meeting in any town in the US to present The Plan and answer questions or address the concerns of Americans before they sign their own pledge. Once a sufficient number of pledges are collected the process of drafting the Congressperson to introduce the bill to impeach will commence.

In a parallel development, Mr. Nativo Lopez, who has recently unified over 400 organizations nationally, has vocally endorsed The Plan for Victory as a means to gaining legitmate leadership and a fair immigration policy. With Mr. Lopez's support, The Plan will have immediate access to millions of likely pledges. As our numbers grow so will the American People's confidence in our Plan for success. That growing confidence will, in turn, lead to the greater numbers we will need to prevail.

We all know the crimes, now we have the mechanism to enforce the law with the energy of our own rightful will to remain free from oppressive and self-interested leadership. Join the movement. Read the plan. Sign a pledge.

Alone we are helpless. Together we are America.

****
A rally attendee was inspired to send out this email blast upon returning home:

-- ESPECIALLY see this site!! New (excellent) Plan for Citizen / & / Congressional Impeachment!! A simple commitment -- I attended meeting last night -- everyone there committed! -- see site for details!! This was just the FIRST meeting!! Help the Movement get to rolling!! SEND THIS SITE TO ALL YOUR FRIENDS/CONNECTIONS -- and encourage them to COMMIT!!

Thursday, April 06, 2006

The PLAN and The PLEDGE.

The Plan for Victory strategy is simple and direct. Below is a step-by-step description of how it will work, followed by a copy of THE PLEDGE in Support of Impeachment.

EMAIL ANY CONCERNS OR QUESTIONS THROUGH THE COMMENTS LINK AT THE BOTTOM OF THE PAGE. ONCE YOU ARE COMMITED TO ACT PLEASE SIGN A PLEDGE AND MAIL IT IN. YOUR PLEDGE WILL JOIN THOSE OF OTHER AMERICANS ON THE FLOOR OF CONGRESS WHEN THE BILL TO IMPEACH IS INTRODUCED.

Step 1. PUBLIC RALLIES - Hold "Plan for Victory" impeachment rallies for mobilizing the movement to impeach the President and his co-conspirators. At the rallies, describe the plan in detail, take questions, and collect pledges in support of a bill to impeach the President. Direct attendees to spread the word to any friends, relatives, and co-workers in support of impeachment, and bring them to the next rally to sign their own pledge in support of the bill.

Note: See text of pledges below.

Step 2. DELIVER PLEDGES - Once a significant number of pledges are collected, they will be delivered to a Representative committed to introducing the bill, and will accompany him/her to the floor when the bill is introduced.

Step 3. PUT CONGRESS ON NOTICE - The Representative will notify Congress of the intention to introduce the bill and of the consequences that will follow any killing of the bill, or remanding of the bill to committee.

Step 3. INTRODUCE THE BILL TO IMPEACH - If Congress passes the bill, impeachment hearings will begin. If Congress kills the bill, or sends it to die in committee, the Representative will immediately call on all Americans to send in their pledges in support of the bill C/O the Clerk of the Congress. (If even half of those Americans who voted against President Bush in 2004 send pledges we will have 25 million pledges flooding Washington demanding impeachment; not to mention the many disillusioned Republicans who have been betrayed by a president who uses their profound faith in God and country against them).

Step 4. RE-INTRODUCE THE BILL - Once the additional pledges are collected, the Representative will return to the floor and re-introduce the bill, this time warning that unless the bill is passed and impeachment hearings begin, he/she will call in the pledges and those citizens so sworn will stay home from work and desist from any unnecessary purchases, beginning the morning of the next business day and continuing until the bill is passed. The streets of America will empty. Business as usual will stop.

Note: Only in the event that Congress twice defies the people's demand to try this president for offences against the U.S. Constitution and International law will a strike and boycott be called. Also, because there are no demonstrations called for in the Plan, there will be no opportunity for violence against striking citizens, or public or personal property. American's will sit safely in their homes, watching the effect of their actions on TV.

It is the expectation of The Fifth Branch that once our people's pledges have been delivered to the floor of Congress, it will be clear that a sea change has taken place and that power has been returned to the people. Under these circumstances, we believe further proof of America's solidarity will be unneccessary and a strike, unlikely. Still, every pledge must be taken with the full expectation that a brief strike and boycott will be called.


THE PLEDGE.

(Copy and mail to: THE FIFTH BRANCH, P.O. BOX 1229, LOS ANGELES CA. 90028)

CITIZEN'S PLEDGE TO SUPPORT THE CONGRESSIONAL BILL TO IMPEACH PRESIDENTGEORGE W. BUSH, VICE-PRESIDENT DICK CHENEY, AND SECRETARY OF DEFENCE DONALD RUMSFELD. I______________________________, do hereby solemnly swear to support a bill to impeach President George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld for crimes against the US Constitution and International Law. Should Congress fail to pass the bill, thereby forcing the Representative introducing the bill to "call in the pledges", I swear to stay home from work, refrain from any unneccessary purchases, and remain in my home until the bill is passed. I do this in keeping with my duty as a citizen of the United States of America and consistent with the powers reserved to the People by the 10th Amendment of the Constitution.
SIGNED___________________PARTY AFFILIATION________________ CITY,STATE_______________DATE ___________________ EMAIL____________________________________

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Articles of Impeachment

The following Articles of Impeachment were drafted by a panel of legal experts chaired by Congressman John Conyers in 2003. Despite the merit of the charges, not a single member of Congress has been willing to introduce a bill to impeach the Bush Administration. Not even Conyers himself. (This list has not been updated to include more recent issues such as torture and illegal wiretapping.)

ARTICLE II, SECTION 4 OF THE U.S. CONSTITUTION - The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.
President George W. Bush, Vice President Richard B. Cheney, Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld, and others have committed violations and subversions of the Constitution of the United States of America in an attempt to carry out with impunity crimes against peace and humanity and war crimes and deprivations of the civil rights of the people of the United States and other nations, by usurping powers of the Congress, the Judiciary and those reserved to the people of the United States, by the following acts:
1) Seized power to wage wars of aggression in defiance of the U.S. Constitution, the U.N. Charter and the rule of law; carried out a massive assault on and occupation of Iraq, a country that was not threatening the United States, resulting in the death and maiming of tens of thousands of Iraqis, and hundreds of U.S. G.I.s.
2) Lied to the people of the U.S., to Congress, and to the U.N., providing false and deceptive rationales for war.
3) Authorized, ordered and condoned direct attacks on civilians, civilian facilities and locations where civilian casualties were unavoidable.
4) Ordered and directed the overthrow of sovereign states, disappearances, kidnappings, assassinations, summary executions, murder and torture.
5) Authorizing, ordering and condoning assassinations, summary executions, kidnappings, secret and other illegal detentions of individuals, torture and physical and psychological coercion of prisoners to obtain false statements concerning acts and intentions of governments and individuals and violating within the United States, and by authorizing U.S. forces and agents elsewhere, the rights of individuals under the First, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth and Eighth Amendments to the Constitution of the United States, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
6) Making, ordering and condoning false statements and propaganda about the conduct of foreign governments and individuals and acts by U.S. government personnel; manipulating the media and foreign governments with false information; concealing information vital to public discussion and informed judgment concerning acts, intentions and possession, or efforts to obtain weapons of mass destruction in order to falsely create a climate of fear and destroy opposition to U.S. wars of aggression and first strike attacks.
7) Violations and subversions of the Charter of the United Nations and international law, both a part of the "Supreme Law of the land" under Article VI, paragraph 2, of the Constitution, in an attempt to commit with impunity crimes against peace and humanity and war crimes in wars and threats of aggression against Afghanistan, Iraq and others and usurping powers of the United Nations and the peoples of its nations by bribery, coercion and other corrupt acts and by rejecting treaties, committing treaty violations, and frustrating compliance with treaties in order to destroy any means by which international law and institutions can prevent, affect, or adjudicate the exercise of U.S. military and economic power against the international community.
8) Acting to strip United States citizens of their constitutional and human rights, ordering indefinite detention of citizens, without access to counsel, without charge, and without opportunity to appear before a civil judicial officer to challenge the detention, based solely on the discretionary designation by the Executive of a citizen as an "enemy combatant."
9) Ordering indefinite detention of non-citizens in the United States and elsewhere, and without charge, at the discretionary designation of the Attorney General or the Secretary of Defense.
10) Ordering and authorizing the Attorney General to override judicial orders of release of detainees under INS jurisdiction, even where the judicial officer after full hearing determines a detainee is wrongfully held by the government.
11) Authorizing secret military tribunals and summary execution of persons who are not citizens who are designated solely at the discretion of the Executive who acts as indicting official, prosecutor and as the only avenue of appellate relief.
12) Refusing to provide public disclosure of the identities and locations of persons who have been arrested, detained and imprisoned by the U.S. government in the United States, including in response to Congressional inquiry.
13) Use of secret arrests of persons within the United States and elsewhere and denial of the right to public trials.
14) Authorizing the monitoring of confidential attorney-client privileged communications by the government, even in the absence of a court order and even where an incarcerated person has not been charged with a crime.
15) Ordering and authorizing the seizure of assets of persons in the United States, prior to hearing or trial, for lawful or innocent association with any entity that at the discretionary designation of the Executive has been deemed "terrorist."
16) Institutionalization of racial and religious profiling and authorization of domestic spying by federal law enforcement on persons based on their engagement in noncriminal religious and political activity.
17) Refusal to provide information and records necessary for the constitutional right of legislative oversight of executive functions.
18) Rejecting treaties protective of peace and human rights and abrogation of the obligations of the United States under, and withdrawal from, international treaties and obligations without consent of the legislative branch, and including termination of the ABM treaty between the United States and Russia, and rescission of the authorizing signature from the Treaty of Rome as the basis for International Criminal Court.

St. Martin returns from Bosnia with perspective of hope.

Love, Hate, War, and Ice Cream.
by Anthony St. Martin

Since I typically travel alone, two weeks in Bosnia with a group of seven American volunteers and two Bosnian translators was a new experience for me. The trip was organized by a remarkable woman named Dolores Gunter, of the Fellowship of Reconciliation(FOR). This was Dolores' fifth trip since the end of the war, all with the same purpose - to spend time with the orphans and abandoned children of Tuzla's Home for Children Without Parental Care. Like others in our group, I went there to give of myself, but recieved far more in return from the infants, boys, girls, and young men and young women I met and grew to love in only two weeks. Their open-armed affection and sincerity knocked down defensive walls I had built up for years.
Most of the children were orphaned by the war, while others were left by parents fleeing the 45% unemployment in the town of Tuzla. For ten days, I played hide-and-seek and tag with the younger children, and played soccer and basketball with the older boys. One boy, Mirzet, had an American football, so I showed those willing to learn how to play the foreign game. They enjoyed learning to pass and catch, but it was obviously no subsitute for their beloved soccer.
Mirzet, is a healthy boy of seventeen with black, curly hair and dark, cocky eyes. He came to the home ten years ago, following the Serb massacre of his hometown of Srebrenica. He arrived among the 700 children who landed on the front steps of the Domo(Home) at the start of the genocide. "Several of the older children carried younger ones, Some were wounded." recalled Adamire, a lovely man who was there at the time. Speaking through interpreter, Edmira, he continued, "we did not know what to do with all of them. But we managed. It is still hard for us to talk about it."
For the first week, we arrived promptly at 9AM and were swarmed by tiny hands and excited voices calling "Antonio! Peter! Holly! Adrian! Kerry! Charley!". Then we were invited to take a road trip to the town of Srebrenica to see for ourselves what had become of many of these children's homes and families. We would ride in three taxis from Tuzla to Zvornik and continue along the Drina River. Our route was the same well-paved, two-lane road from which the Serbian Tigers fired their tanks and artillery at the defenseless farmhouses scattered throughout the fertil fields, lining both sides of the roadway.
We made our way south, passing through Zvornik rather quickly before coming to the Srebrenica Memorial. I had learned that International dignitaries had assembled here just two days prior to commemorate the ten year anniversary of the massacre of Srebrenica (July 11, 1995) but it wasn't until I entered the gates to the cemetary that I understood what had happened there. It took several more minutes for me to realize that I was paralyzed by it. I could not move. It wasn't that I had any physical problem, more that I had lost any reason to move. My mind went blank as chalk. I floated there for several moments, held up by legs that seemed miles away, until I heard a soft voice repeating in my head, "What am I supposed to do? What am I supposed to say?". I had no answer. I still don't.
I felt someone pass on their way to the over six-hundred open graves that lay, spread out a few yards in front of me. But, I couldn't look at them. I couldn't raise my head. I could hear the fountain waters flowing behind me, like an eternal bath for the cleansing of souls. I could even smell the wet mounds of earth still piled beside the graves, and I felt the chill left over from the rainy morning, but I could not look at the graves. I was paralyzed with shame for being human.
I knew the stories by now. I knew how the victims of the massacre came to lie here in seperate caskets, with green, wooden markers stuck in the mounded earth, waiting to be buried. I knew the Serbs had buried the men, women, and children in mass graves throughout the countryside. Others were taken by the thousands to the damn near Zvornik where they were tossed into the Drina River. Our driver told us he will no longer eat fish taken from the narrow, winding river that acts as a natural boundry between Serbia and Bosnia. To say the Serbs buried their victims is inaccurate, they concealed them, disposed of them so they might escape prosecution for their crimes.
I felt a powerful force, like radiation coming off the graves. The crime of genocide was still hot upon them. And still I could not move. Finally a tear found the strength to flow from one eye. The stones at my feet blurred, a cacoon was forming around me. I estimate nearly thirty minutes I stood there. Motionless. Dangling in space and time, without meaningful past or future. Asking myself over and over, What am I supposed to do? What am I supposed to say? It didn't matter what I thought. I was irrelevent. I hadn't been here when they needed me. Nobody was.
Directly across the road from the memorial, stood the stark, concrete warehouse where the men and women of Srebrenica were taken, bound at the wrist and stored like cattle until the time of slaughter would come. When Mladic and his paramilitary column of Panzer tanks, 60mm cannons, and "troops" armed with AK-47s first approached the tiny enclave, there was a force of Dutch Battalion Peacekeepers stationed there. They had established what were being called "safe zones"; places where the defenseless civilians could stay, sheltered from the Serbian guns. As the story goes, when the Dutch commander received word of the approaching force he called NATO Central Command and requested an air strike to deter the Serbian attack. That request was denied. A second call went to Sarajevo asking for assistance, but this request was also denied. One person told me that the government in Sarajevo effectively gave Srebrenica to the Serbs in exchange for sparing Sarajevo. If a deal was made it was obviously broken later when the Serbs attacked the capital city. For its part, the US maintained a "hands off" policy, except for an embargo forbidding the sale of arms to the defenseless Bosnian Muslims.
Denied any assistance, the Dutch Battalion withdrew from the town leaving the Bosnians to the guns, knives, and iron bars used by the Serbs to murder thousands of helpless human beings in a matter of weeks. To many Bosnians this story is one of betrayal not only of Muslims, but of humanity. To a young man I met on a later bus to Sarajevo, it is obvious that so many recent wars are killing unarmed people of Islam.
It should be noted that Srebrenica, like many of Bosnia's villages and cities, is built at the bottom of a narrow ravine, making it unusually vulnerable to attack from above. Srebrenica is especially tragic in that the town is located as if at the end of a cul-de-sac. The road leads into the town, circles the lower basin of the ravine, and then heads back out, somewhat like the eye of a needle. The steep hills surrounding the town inhibited any means for escape. Estimates are that eight thousand Bosnian Muslims disappeared from Srebrenica in two weeks. And no one tried to stop it.
Ten years later, the fractured remains of several hundred of the victims of Srebrenica lay before me, their caskets visible in the gaping holes. Finally I managed to take a step and dip my hands into the fountain waters. Again the weight of the atrocity pressed down on me. Then I saw an open air mosque, situated beyond the fountain where Muslims can pause to pray. Two women were on their knees bowing to Allah. This was their offence - being Muslim. These people will killed for having a certain name even though many Bosnians freely admit that they had forgotten their religion before the war. Communist forbiddance had effectively irradicated Islamic practice, yet the messages of hate disseminated through the state run radio and newpapers by the Milosovic government proclaimed the existance of an impending Islamic Holy war against Christians. The Bosnians deny any such Islamic plot, and I should say that I found evidence supporting their contention that several attacks on Serbian villages were actually done by Serbs in order to inflame fear and hatred of the Muslims. Whatever truth might be, it appeared that if the Bosnians were launching a Holy War it was apparantly to be waged without weapons. The International leadership had conceded that the Bosnians had no weapons of any significance and certainly made sure that it stayed that way.
Days later I would observe many striking similarities between what happened in Bosnia and the govenment sponsored genocide in Rawanda. But now, as I remained stooped near the fountain, watching the women complete their prayers, I had not yet put those pieces together. I was struggling to find a way to walk out of this place without turning my back on its pain. For certain our taxi driver would take me far away, but how could I go without effectively saying, "Oh, well. Shit happens." How could I allow my bond with these innocent dead to fade with every mile. I'd order pizza back in Tuzla and talk sadly with the others about what we had seen and shake our lowered heads to take another bite, another sip of beer. Then go for ice-cream. Then the question became clear. How could I leave here and keep my human soul? My moment of truth was temporarily delayed when I learned that we would now continue up the road to the village of Screbrenica. I was not abandoning the dead. Not yet.
We regrouped and drained back into our cars for the last leg of our trip. Everyone was silent. Srebrenica was just a short mile up the road. Toppled brick farmhouses on both sides of the road gave lasting evidence of the Serbs' thoroughness in destroying every homestead with their cannon fire. I thought, "we are not meant for slaughter." Then I remembered what Kevin, an ex-US Soldier working as a volunteer at the Home, told me. It seems that during the Serbian seige of Sarajevo, if you were a Serbian civilian, you could drive to the hills where the paramilitary forces were camped and for an amount of money you could get use of a weapon to shoot at the Bosnians darting between the buildings below. It was a form of entertainment. A real life shooting gallery. I wondered about the power of hatred to change people's sensibilities. Is war simply hate put to work?"
We entered the town of Srebrenica. The village's buildings were pockmarked with large bullet holes and missing entire floors from direct cannon fire. We were told that if we got out of the car we should be careful what we say because a majority of the men in Srebrenica are now Serb. And no photos. This was not a tourist stop. At least not yet.
The stares from locals lingering on sidewalks and sitting at cafe tables were penetrating as we rolled past. I noticed that the bullet holes dotting literally every building were usually concentrated on a balcony or window where people were most likely to be hiding. We turned the bend in the needle and headed back toward the entrance of the tiny town when the driver pulled over to get some smokes. We ventured out to stretch, trying to remain unobtrusive. It was no use. Every eye was on us.
After a short, uncomfortable stroll we were back in the cars and on our way back to Tuzla and the children of the orphanage. Back to Mirzet who had watched the Serbs chase his family and neighbors into the woods. He heard the gunshots. Luckily he and his brother escaped. Now he was left alone, to live among others of the same fate; other children with whom he shares a bond like no other I have ever seen; a bond of tragedy and pain, but miraculously a bond of intense love and caring; a bond that extends from one child to the next. It is even evident among the young Bosnian men and women promenading down the European-esque streets of Sarajevo, past the numerous crowded cafes and jutting tombstones where the victims of Serbian snipers fell and were buried in flowerbeds, parks, and even between cafe tables. Their pain joins them in a way no American has ever experienced, and hopefull never will. It is also evident that this is a very young population, since most of the elders are dead. But it was also clear to see that all over Bosnia, there was a time for celebrating their young hearts, their bodies, their peace - their survival.
I went to Bosnia to give something of myself to the children who suffered the ravages of war. But, now safely home in Los Angeles, I can finally sum up what Bosnia gave to me. It was hope. A hope we must cling to. A hope that even if humanity will always make war, that the inevitable outcome of war and hate is the rejuvenation of love and brotherhood. That those who live for conquest and incite hatred, inspire ignorance, destroy all sanity, all hope, that they are forever destined to fail. This is evident in Bosnia. The mysterious purpose of the Serbian genocide not only failed to eradicate the Bosnian Muslims, but gave birth to a generation united not only by their suffering, but also by the joy of being alive.
It is would be helpful if Americans would realize that our military is creating new orphans every day. That if we lack the courage and resolve to cease our ways of war in other lands, that some day we too, may be consumed by it.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Warm reception from the 68th A.D. Committee

Mr. St. Martin was invited to speak to the Assembly District Committee by Lyn Jensen, a reporter with Harbor Independent News, and received a rousing round of applause following his brief remarks. Chairwomen, Madeline Jensen requested a return engagement from St. Martin to more fully explain his plan for impeachment of President Bush and Vice President Cheney. Travelling from his home in the Hollywood Hills to Huntington Beach to attend the group's monthly meeting, the founder of The Fifth Branch received spontaneous applause when he described his "three spheres of Congress"; stating that every current Member can be described as either "with the program", "wanna-be with the program", or "afraid of the program." He also claimed that "our military has been privatized". Stating, "Our troops are not fighting for us. They should be getting 401Ks because they are working for Corporate America." Former Councilman and Mayor of Garden Grove, J. Tilman Williams congratulated St. Martin and asked for more information on The Plan. Any return to the Committee, however, will take place following St. Martin's trip to Bosnia in July, where he will work with FOR(Fellowship of Reconciliation) for ten days, in the Children's Orphanage.