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Solidarity Statement of the International League of Peoples' Struggle
for the International Tribunal on Hurricanes Katrina and Rita

Prof. Jose Maria Sison
International League of Peoples' Struggle
August 21, 2007

We, the International League of Peoples' Struggle (ILPS), wish to extend the most militant greetings of solidarity to the Peoples Hurricane Relief Fund, the Mississippi Disaster Relief Coalition, the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, and the US Human Rights Network that are convening the International Tribunal on Katrina and Rita.

We reiterate the deepest sympathy and support for the great number of African-American victims of the two hurricanes Katrina and Rita and hold the US government liable for the grave crimes committed against the victims. Before the hurricanes struck, the US government did not take measures to prevent flooding and undertake relief preparations. During the disaster, it did not provide relief but instead used brutal measures to prevent people from moving to safer ground and getting drinking water and food supplies.

Since after the hurricanes, two years ago, the US government has not assisted the victims to return to their homes, rebuild these, recover their jobs and revitalize their original communities. In fact, the Bush regime is deliberately perpetuating the break up of the Afro-American communities in New Orleans to give way for the big companies and real estate speculators to take over the land.

We therefore support the objectives of the Tribunal, namely:

* Hold the US government accountable for its crimes against humanity;
* Demand financial restitution and justice for the victims of Katrina and Rita;
* Advance the Katrina-Rita reconstruction movement;
* Build a global campaign against the US government's program of ethnic cleansing;
* Demand that the US government adhere to UN guidelines on Internally Displaced Persons

The criminal responsibility of the Bush government is very clear for all to see. For many years many have warned about the possible disaster that can result from the flooding of New Orleans.

When six residents of New Orleans died from flooding in 1995 a project named Southeast Louisiana Urban Flood Control Project (SELA) was started to protect the city from flooding. In 2003 the flow of dollars from the federal government dropped to a trickle due to diversion of public funds to the war in Iraq and homeland security so-called, while the Bush regime was giving big tax cuts to the big corporations.

A request for $250 million to shore up the levees around Lake Pontchartrain which sits at the heart of New Orleans was turned down by the Bush regime. This is about the same amount that the US spends in 24 hours to maintain its occupation of Iraq. It was the water from this lake that flooded the city when its levees broke in three places.

The National Weather Service had also warned that the region was in great danger due to the absence of barrier islands or hills and the Gulf of Mexico's flat bottom. This problem is not entirely natural because the wetlands of the Mississippi delta, essential for moderating flooding, have been devastated by big oil companies to make way for oil exploration and shipping. The Bush regime allowed this to happen by eliminating 20 million acres of wetlands from federal protection.

And when the disaster finally struck, Bush sent in the National Guard carrying rifles not bottles of water or food. They had "shoot to kill" orders against survivors who would break into locked up grocery stores and pharmacies. Their top priority was to "contain" the situation and protect private property.

The government issued an evacuation order. But no buses were provided to those who did not have the means to evacuate on their own. The people were left to fend for themselves. Most of the survivors were saved from flooded homes by private individuals who used their own boats or commandeered abandoned vessels in admirable acts of courage and selflessness.

The world was shocked at seeing the richest country in the world unable to cope with a hurricane. Cuba with far fewer resources has been able to survive natural disasters with little or no human loss. Before Hurricane Dennis hit Cuban territory in July 2005, more than 1.5 million people were evacuated by Cuba's civil defense system from the areas that were at risk.

According to the Malcom X Grassroots Movement which is one of the organizers of the Tribunal and the 2nd Assembly of Survivors, many problems remain:

* More than 400,000 remain displaced;
* More than 200,000 internally displaced persons (IDP's) are unemployed throughout the country;
* Government policies systematically deny restitution and rental assistance to renters in all Gulf Coast states;
* Rents have tripled on average in all devastated areas;
* Government officials still have not dispersed 98% of recovery funds to homeowners in either Mississippi or Louisiana;
* While disaster profiteers have made a killing, wages remain stagnant throughout the region;
* Corporate and government action has destroyed the Teachers, Hospital Workers and Bus Drivers unions;
* Corporations and other employers have largely excluded black workers from reconstruction jobs, preferring to ruthlessly exploit unprotected immigrant workers.

We commend the organizers of the Tribunal for striving to raise public consciousness on the crimes of the Bush regime against the African-American people, fighting against injustice, upholding the rights of the victims and doing all they can to help the survivors rebuild their lives. The campaign to defend the rights of the victims and bring about the benefits that are due them can only be as successful as they can be aroused, organized and mobilized to fight for their rights and welfare.

We call on all the participating organizations of the International League of Peoples' Struggle to issue solidarity statements, endorse the demands of the Survivors of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and undertake information meetings in support of the International Tribunal on Hurricanes Katrina and Rita on August 29th and consequently in support of the verdict and the urgent tasks that must be carried out. ###

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