Category Archives: Domestic Terrorism

Pro-Chinese Government American Communist take credit for Virginia Election Wins

China-based American Communist take credit for Virginia Election Wins

It’s official. The once deep-red Commonwealth of Virginia is now a blue state. As a result of the Nov. 5 election, Democrats now hold all three of the statewide constitutional offices, both U.S. Senate seats, the majority of its Congress members, and both chambers of the State House.

Virginia went blue because a handful of well-organized pro-Chinese communists made it happen.

The group in question, New Virginia Majority (NVM), has exploited Virginia’s changing population and “liberal bleed out” from the Washington area to flip not just Northern Virginia but also districts across the state. Based in Alexandria and Richmond, NVM has sent hundreds of paid workers and volunteers out across the commonwealth to register and send to the polls hundreds of thousands of new voters.

NVM endorsed and supported 23 Virginia candidates this cycle and won with 15 of them, including two state Senate races and nine Assembly victories.

NVM Co-Chair Tram Nguyen has already published an op-ed in The New York Times saying, “Democrats could learn a lot from what happened in Virginia.” The message? “Democrats, do what we did in Virginia—everywhere.” By going after the minority vote with mass voter registration drives, you can flip almost any state.

According to Nguyen:

“The national Democratic Party spent millions in Virginia this year, but the state wasn’t always such a priority. From its position in the South to its prominent role in America’s legacy of oppression, Virginia was long considered reliably conservative—unbreakable. As recently as six years ago, Republicans controlled the office of the governor and the General Assembly.

“Local organizations like mine understood the political potential of Virginia when we got started 12 years ago. We are winning because we recognize the power of an electorate that includes and reflects the diversity of our state. We don’t talk to voters only when campaign season rolls around. We try to reach voters of all colors, women, low-income workers and young people where they are, which has made it possible for us to develop a robust base of support along Virginia’s so-called Urban Crescent, from Northern Virginia to Hampton Roads. Long before Election Day, we registered more than 300,000 voters, knocked on more than 2.5 million doors, and organized within communities of color to help win significant policy changes like Medicaid expansion, which covered nearly 400,000 people.”

Nguyen (who was part of Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam’s transition team) also went on to explain the importance of the ex-convict vote.

“Virginia’s state constitution bars anyone with a felony conviction from voting until their rights have been restored by the governor. For more than nine years, we organized formerly incarcerated women and men to help them demand that their full civil rights be restored. The former governor, Terry McAuliffe, restored the voting rights of more than 173,000 Virginians during his term, more than any other governor in Virginia’s history. In 2016, of the nearly 20,000 men and women who registered to vote for the first time as a result of the restoration of their rights, a whopping 79 percent voted. They were a key voting bloc in Virginia, the only Southern state that Hillary Clinton won.”

NVM worked closely with McAuliffe to win ex-felon voting rights. The organization actually gave the governor an award at its annual dinner for his sterling work.

And the path to success lies in organizing and energizing minority voters who already lean left, but normally vote at very low rates:

“Changes in the shape of the electorate and rising enthusiasm among voters can only go so far, without campaign architecture that channels those changes into tangible political outcomes. …

“Engaging meaningfully with voters of color means talking to tens of thousands of voters to make sure they have the information they need to cast their ballots even after receiving racist Republican campaign communications. … We didn’t need to persuade voters to embrace our worldview—they were already there on the issues. They just needed to be convinced that their vote mattered. To give one example of how this works in practical terms, in precincts in the Virginia suburbs of Washington, turnout this year increased by 24 percent over 2017. …

“States don’t become battlegrounds overnight. Democrats and national progressive organizations have the resources to take their case to the people and win, but they have to start early and organize relentlessly. When they lose, they have to stay in place and keep fighting for every political inch they can get. No place is unwinnable forever.”

All this would be serious enough if NVM members were merely well-meaning “liberal Democrats,” which unfortunately isn’t the case.

NVM is a front for Liberation Road, known until April this year as Freedom Road Socialist Organization (FRSO), the United States’ most influential Maoist organization.

Maoist Groups

NVM is led by longtime FRSO/Liberation Road cadre Jon Liss of Alexandria. Several FRSO cadres have served in NVM over the years, as have many activists from two NVM satellite groups, LeftRoots and the Virginia Student Power Network.

FRSO/Liberation Road comes out of the militantly pro-China American Maoist student movement of the 1970s. While it’s more discreet about its Chinese loyalties these days, several of its leading supporters maintain close ties to the People’s Republic.

Fred Engst is a longtime FRSO supporter. Born to U.S. communist parents and raised in China, Engst was educated in the United States, where he became immersed in Maoist politics. He returned to China in 2007 and is now teaching at the University of International Business and Economics in Beijing.

Alex Tom, a leader of LeftRoots and the pro-Beijing San Francisco-based Chinese Progressive Association, in 2012 formed the China Education and Exposure Program to “build a deeper analysis of China for US progressives and leftists and to build relationships with the grassroots movement in China,” according to his 2013 LeftForum speaker’s bio.

John Marienthal, a San Jose-based FRSO member, has been a leader of the pro-Beijing U.S.–China Peoples Friendship Association for more than 40 years and has taught in several Chinese educational establishments since the 1980s.

Steve McClure is a former Washington resident who, in the 1970s, was active in the pro-Mao Revolutionary Student Brigade. He has close ties to FRSO and NVM. Since 2010, he has worked with the Geography Department of Wuhan University in China, and he is a research associate with the State Key Laboratory of Engineering Information in Surveying, Mapping, and Remote Sensing at the university.

McClure has used his skills in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to supply highly targeted voter identification information to NVM.

As far back as 2005, McClure was using GIS technology to identify low-income voters for Liss’s Tenant Workers Support Committee. McClure “plotted lower-income, high-rental housing areas to get a picture of where there was affordable housing in Northern Virginia,” according to the Mason Gazette. This information probably proved very useful when Liss established NVM two years later.

According to an Aug. 25, 2011, post on McClure’s blog:

“I have been recently working with New Virginia Majority to make a series of maps to inform planning for precinct walks in Virginia State house districts. … The core data are lists of individual households by pan-ethnic census categories. … The results are subjective but do suggest … the ways that actual communities conform or diverge from the discrete territorial units which define an electoral terrain in a democracy.”

All this wasn’t theoretical. It was designed to help NVM flip districts across the state by micro-targeting potential Democratic voters in low-income and minority communities. In another post, he wrote:

“In the general elections of 2008, Virginia voted Democratic for the first time since 1964 with Obama carrying the state. Demographic shifts and increased voter participation rather than a shift in political allegiances account for this outcome. …

“Focusing on Prince William County, Virginia, I applied spatial interpolation techniques in a GIS to translate the 2008 election returns from the geography of precincts to year 2000 zoning classification areas for further quantitative analysis. The goal was to produce actionable intelligence for working class organizations building popular power at the base. …

“The results are presented as maps and diagrams which might illuminate challenges and opportunities for organizations engaging with electoral efforts.”

McClure is still actively engaged in giving advice to his U.S. comrades on winning elections for the Democrats.

An article co-written by McClure and Bob Wing, “The Importance of the Fight for the South—and Why It Can and Must Be Won,” appeared on the Liberation Road-linked website Organizing Upgrade on Sept. 4, 2017. It states:

“The far right, racism, militarism, inequality, and poverty are all centered in the South. The majority of African Americans, the main protagonist of progressive politics in this country, live in the South. And the South has more electoral votes, battleground state votes, population, and congresspersons than any other region.

“The South is changing rapidly, giving rise to more progressive demographic groups—especially Black and Latino migrations, LGBTQs and urbanites—and a growing Democratic vote. These trends can only be maximized if the importance of the South is understood as a strategic necessity and the chance to win state by state, is acknowledged and acted upon.

“Hard as the fight is and will be, downplaying the Southern struggle is a losing political strategy and forfeits the moral high ground on the biggest issues facing the country.”

McClure and Wing (another “former” Maoist associated with FRSO) argue that to destroy the Republican Party in the South, black communities must be targeted and mobilized to vote:

 “(1) A critical mass of Southern states can and must be won if we are to block or defeat the right in presidential elections. Three of the five or so critical battleground states are in the South: Florida, Virginia and North Carolina. Southern blue and battleground states plus Washington D.C. hold 38 percent of the electoral votes needed to win.

“(2) Winning an anti-rightwing congressional majority depends on winning in the South, as the South has a bigger congressional delegation than any other region and Southern congresspersons also hold key leadership posts within the Republican Party’s congressional hierarchies.

“(3) There are tremendous opportunities to build progressive political power and governance at the local level in the South as 105 counties have a Black majority. …

“While some might dismiss the South, focusing strategically on the Northeast and Pacific Coast as central to a progressive program and the Midwest as the main political battleground, the South’s dynamic growth, historical legacy of Black struggle and powerful political weight make it a critical battlefield.

“The nuance is that the South cannot be won as a bloc, but only state by state and county by county. In fact, winning the South in large part means understanding that it is not a monolithic entity and winning it piece by piece: i.e. politically deconstructing the South.”

President Donald Trump’s victory in 2016 shocked the left and, according to McClure and Wing, has made their goal of flipping the South even more urgent:

“This essay was prepared in March 2015, prior to the 2016 election season that eventually resulted in Donald Trump’s victory. However, the far rightwing’s capture of the presidency makes this essay’s main arguments even more important. …

“The South is the key center of the far right and the Republican Party; neither can be defeated without battling for the South.”

Liberation Road has a large presence in Georgia, Tennessee, North Carolina (Durham for All), and Florida (the New Florida Majority). Now that Virginia is safely in the Democrat column, look to see an upsurge of Maoist electoral activity in North Carolina and Florida to turn those states blue in 2020; Tennessee and Georgia will be next. Then, Texas.

Chinese ‘Collusion’?

Trump has been tougher on Beijing than has any other president in living memory. It’s no secret that China doesn’t like Trump and would love to see him defeated in 2020.

Rather than risk war, or suffer huge economic setbacks, wouldn’t it be much cheaper and easier to use China’s American assets, such as Liberation Road, to ensure Trump’s defeat by “democratic” means?

It’s inconceivable that the Chinese government didn’t know what McClure was up to. After all, they presumably pay his salary or living costs while he is in China.

It’s clear that Liberation Road is tied to China. It’s also clear that their front-group NVM is heavily involved in U.S. electoral politics and played a decisive role in turning Virginia blue. It’s also obvious that Liberation Road’s goal is to destroy President Trump and the Republican Party to pave the way for a socialist America.

Is there Chinese “collusion” here? Do we need investigations and executive action against these subversive groups before they’re able to fully realize their goals? With less than a year until the 2020 election, there’s not much time left to do so.

Trevor Loudon is an author, filmmaker, and public speaker from New Zealand. For more than 30 years, he has researched radical left, Marxist, and terrorist movements and their covert influence on mainstream politics.

NYPD New Report – Black Perpetrators Dominate in Racist and Gay People Attacks

Truth Hate Crimes NYC

Last week, the NYPD published its hate-crimes report for the third quarter, and the results are troubling.

Start with the anti-Semitism. Over the last 12 months, there were 246 ­anti-Semitic crimes in the Big Apple, up from 144 over the previous 12 months. The number of anti-Semitic assaults jumped to 33 in 2018, up from 17 in 2017, and is on pace to rise again this year, with 19 in just the first half of the year. These attacks brutally target Orthodox Jews, often in broad daylight in Brooklyn neighborhoods that are home to the community.

Then there’s the anti-LGBT violence. The most recent quarterly report tallies 20 incidents, bringing the total number of attacks over the past 12 months to 63, up from 48 in the previous 12 months.

Finally, there’s the anti-Muslim violence, most of which goes ­unreported (and isn’t well-captured in the report as a result). Yet it is possible to track trends by paying attention to local news and other city agencies. Many of the attacks on this community take place in the Bronx.

Regardless of the victims’ identity, perpetrators too often escape justice. The attackers in the January anti-Muslim case were only caught because the mother of one of them turned in her 14-year-old son. The Muslim woman beaten up this spring, meanwhile, had to track down street-camera footage on her own before police would pursue the case, having initially dropped it after she failed to make an identification.

Yet there is little pressure on the NYPD from activists who are normally quick to denounce hate crimes and bigotry. What explains this silence? The perpetrators have been disproportionately black.

As the investigative reporter ­Armin Rosen pointed out in Tablet, “many of the [anti-Jewish] attacks are being carried out by people of color with no ties to the politics of white supremacy.” As he noted, even in cases where no one is caught, video footage overwhelmingly shows minority attackers. Blacks comprised seven of the nine anti-Jewish hate-crime perpetrators arrested during the third quarter.

In the most recent report, blacks comprised 24 of the 34 (71 percent) perpetrators arrested for all hate crimes. After reaching a high of 61 percent in the second quarter of 2018, the black share consistently declined to 14 percent in the second quarter of 2019 but has now shot back up. The NYPD doesn’t account for this odd oscillation, though one wonders if there is a political component to this, as well.

Black perpetrators are especially prominent in anti-LGBT crimes, comprising 10 of the 12 arrested for those crimes in the latest quarterly report. Overall, since the beginning of 2017, blacks comprised 56 percent — 61 of 108 — of those ­arrested for anti-LGBT hate crimes.

But in many urban areas, the problem is complicated by the fact that many of the perpetrators themselves are minorities. Just because facts make us uncomfortable, however, doesn’t mean we should ignore them.

The social-justice community must take hate-crime stats seriously — even when the crimes aren’t committed by white ­supremacists. We must find the courage to look at the warts in the black community before bigoted violence escalates even further.

Robert Cherry is a professor emeritus of economics at Brooklyn College and the CUNY Graduate Center.

Retired Police Officer Dianna Muller creates the ‘The DC Project’ to protect Women

Dianna Muller lost count of how many times she responded to chillingly desperate calls for help during her 22 years as a police officer in Tulsa, Okla. The crime scenes she worked taught her that people need their right to bear arms. “I don’t wish for anyone to be defenseless,” Muller told the A1F. “I would like for everyone to be prepared to be their own first responder.”

This is a message she’s been bringing to the nation’s capital.

Since retirement, Muller has brought to life “The DC Project,” a nonpartisan group that draws women from all states and all walks of life to Washington, D.C., in an endeavor to share with lawmakers why they own and carry firearms. For some, it is because they were the victim of a rape.

For others, it is because they are single mothers with young children they need to protect. Whatever their story, they are all people who refuse to be unarmed victims. By meeting with lawmakers, they are bringing their human stories to this issue—the type of thing the mainstream media just won’t report.

She explains that police officers can’t be everywhere all the time. In the minutes it takes officers to get to a call for help, anything can happen. After two decades of investigating crimes and helping victims of criminals, she argues that gun rights are also women’s rights.

Muller, along with several other women, have recently had high-profile confrontations with politicians.

“I will not comply with the assault-weapons ban,” said Muller, as she testified to members of the House Judiciary Committee in September. She was referring to the desire of some Democrats to ban and confiscate AR-15-type rifles from the public. Her “I will not comply” declaration went viral as a rallying cry for freedom.

“There are a lot of politicians that believe disarming American citizens will make the country safer. They don’t have much experience with firearms, and it’s easier for them to chalk all the violence up to the tool instead of the human,” Muller explained to the A1F. “It seems as though our country is not teaching our children history or what kind of power they have as citizens. They are all too eager to give up their rights, thinking that it will give them safety.”

Meanwhile, Dr. Suzanna Hupp, a former member of the Texas House of Representatives who, after surviving the 1991 “Luby’s shooting” in which a murderer killed both of her parents, has continued to speak out as a passionate advocate for the law-abiding citizen’s right to carry.

“Please consider the high cost of gun control,” she told the Joint Economic Committee hearing in September. “I reached for my gun, but my gun was 100 yards away, dutifully left in my vehicle. I can tell you that the cost of gun control was my parents and 23 innocent lives.”

Lauren Boebert was yet another woman who made her mark in September. She challenged aspiring Democratic presidential nominee Beto O’Rourke’s gun-confiscation scheme at a town hall event. A video of the incident made waves across social media.

“I am here to say: Hell, no, you’re not,” she told O’Rourke, countering his “hell yes” that he’d ban and confiscate so-called “assault weapons” from the American citizenry.

These three bold women are just a few examples of millions more who don’t want to lose their right to personal defense.

Muller put it this way: “Women are likely to be smaller and less suited for a physical confrontation than an attacker. A firearm is the great equalizer. It doesn’t guarantee my security, but it does give me a chance. If I’m in that Walmart in El Paso, I want to be armed. If I hear a bump in the night, I want to be armed. Defending yourself is the most basic human right.”

Antifa-linked defendant gets 6 years in brutal baton attack in Portland

ANTIFA Beating

A 24-year-old man who authorities say was among masked Antifa supporters attacking conservatives at a June demonstration in Portland, Ore., was sentenced Friday to nearly six years in prison in connection with a brutal baton assault.

Gage Halupowski pleaded guilty to second-degree assault after authorities accused him of using a weapon against a conservative demonstrator who suffered blows to the head that the victim claims left him with a concussion and cuts that required 25 staples to close.

Andy Ngo@MrAndyNgo

Breaking: Antifa militant Gage Halupowski sentenced to nearly 6 years in prison for striking a man on head from behind w/a baton during riot. He was masked at the time & assaulted an officer while trying to escape. His lawyer says sentence is too severe. https://www.oregonlive.com/portland/2019/11/baton-attack-during-june-protests-in-downtown-portland-lands-man-in-jail-for-nearly-6-years.html …

View image on Twitter
View image on Twitter
View image on Twitter

21.3K9:10 PM – Nov 1, 2019

After the assault, police saw Halupowski collapse his metal baton and conceal it in his pants, FOX 12 Oregon reported.

The attack outside a Portland hotel on June 29 was “completely unexplainable, completely avoidable and didn’t need to happen,” Multnomah County Deputy District Attorney Melissa Marrero said, according to OregonLive.com.

Gage Halupowski, 24, pleaded guilty to second-degree assault in connection with a baton attack in June, authorities say. (Multnomah County Sheriff's Office)

Gage Halupowski, 24, pleaded guilty to second-degree assault in connection with a baton attack in June, authorities say. (Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office)

Authorities say Halupowski attacked Adam Kelly as Kelly was attempting to help another man who’d been assaulted, the news outlet reported.

WARNING: GRAPHIC VIDEO

Portland Tribune@ThePortlandTrib

CONTENT WARNING: Police have declared a civil disturbance after a violent brawl broke out between left- and right-wing protesters today. Video by Sergio Olmos/Underscore. Full story: https://bit.ly/321Hxbu 2525:55 PM – Jun 29, 2019

Halupowski’s defense attorney, Edward Kroll, called his client’s prison term “one of the harshest sentences I’ve seen for someone with no criminal background and young age,” but acknowledged that having the attack caught on video left Halupowski with few legal options other than accepting a plea deal.

Marrero disagreed, calling the sentence appropriate for Halupowski’s crimes, according to OregonLive.com.

Charges dropped under Halupowski’s plea agreement included unlawful use of a weapon, attempted assault of a public safety officer and interfering with a peace officer, the outlet reported.

The attack against Kelly occurred the same day that a group of assailants attacked conservative writer Andy Ngo, dousing him with liquids and pelting him with objects, with those attacks also caught on video.

Ngo claims he was later hospitalized with a brain hemorrhage and says no suspects have yet been charged in connection with the assaults against him.

Violent clashes between Antifa supporters and members of conservative groups have been a vexing problem for the city of Portland, whose mayor, Ted Wheeler, has faced harsh criticism for the city’s response to such events. President Trump and some Republicans in Congress have called for Antifa to be declared a domestic terror organization.

By Dom Calicchio

Why we keep falling for hate-crime hoaxes? Children are lying…

Truth Hate Crimes in the U.S.

Last month, 12-year-old Amari Allen appeared on television to share how she had been brutalized by racist white boys at Immanuel Christian School in Springfield, Virginia. The sixth-grader, who is black, wept as she recalled how she was pinned down during recess, had her arms pulled behind her back and had a hand placed over her mouth so she couldn’t scream.

She said the boys cut off her dreadlocks, calling it “nappy.” By Monday, it was revealed that, following an investigation by Fairfax County Police, the girl admitted she had made it all up.

When the story first broke, left-wing politicians and activists raged. Rep. Rashida Tlaib published a personalized message on Twitter to the girl: “You see, Amari, you may not feel it now but you have a power that threatens their core. I can’t wait to watch you use it and thrive.” On Twitter, some even found a way to blame the Trump administration, noting ominously that Vice President Mike Pence’s wife, Karen, teaches art part-time at the school.

As with Jussie Smollett’s original accusations, Allen’s yarn had all the elements of a rage-bait story. Fervid media interest turned a regional non-incident into a national crisis, featured prominently and uncritically on televised reports from NBC, MSNBC, CNN and CBS, in addition to numerous print and online outlets.

Left-wing activists and the mainstream media refuse to learn lessons about hate-crime hoaxes. Sensational claims deserve additional scrutiny. Was Allen or her family asked why no known students had come forward to corroborate her claims? She said it happened during recess — around dozens of other students presumably.

The accused boys were also never sought for comment. On the contrary, the NAACP demanded “immediate disciplinary action” against the minor suspects. 

It’s hard to blame the public and media consumers for their naive credulity. The real problem is that highly publicized fake hate crimes like this one usually receive little public coverage after it is revealed that the original accusation was a hoax.

Then, too, few Americans are aware that in just the past few years, several children have been caught fabricating hate-crime allegations.

In January 2017, police in Gambrills, Maryland, identified a “14-year-old black female” as the suspect responsible for sending out a violent racist threat against her high school using a Twitter account pretending to be part of the Ku Klux Klan.

The following month, students at Plano West Senior High in Texas discovered their school vandalized with racist, anti-black graffiti all over its buildings and school vans. After several months, police arrested and charged Alexandria Monet Butler and Elizabeth Joy Police, two black female minors, for the incident. They were caught on camera vandalizing the school.

Then last year, a 5-year-old black child in Grand Rapids, Michigan, launched a frenzied police search after she told her family that a white man in the neighborhood had urinated on her and called her a racist slur. A 60-year-old man was arrested. The child made up the story with her friends.

Nor are incidents like these confined to the United States. In early 2018, Khawlah Noman, an 11-year-old Muslim girl in Toronto, claimed that a man had attacked her by cutting her hijab. The story reverberated across the country, with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau immediately issuing comments condemning Islamophobia in Canada. Local police invested huge resources into catching the at-large suspect. Noman had fabricated the incident. She was never charged.

The Boy Who Cried Wolf is as old as time immemorial, to be sure. What’s different today is the mind-boggling credulity of mainstream media and politicians, who jump to ideological conclusions and dial the outrage to 11 before the facts have played out.

It’s no surprise that children lie, but when they are rewarded by an all-too-willing media and audience, we should expect more incidents like what happened in Virginia. The final result: Americans are bound to become ever more cynical and skeptical of hate-crime allegations — even when they’re true.

Andy Ngo is a journalist in Portland, Oregon. Twitter: @MrAndyNgo

On the 70th Anniversary of China Communism Hong Kong reels from ‘one of its most violent days’

Hong Kong Fight for Freedom

The 70th anniversary of Communist Party rule in China was “one of Hong Kong’s most violent and chaotic days”, the city’s police chief has said.

An 18-year-old protester was shot in the chest with a live bullet – one of six live rounds fired by police.

Protesters – some armed with poles, petrol bombs and other projectiles – fought pitched battles with police in several parts of Hong Kong.

In all police made 269 arrests, more than on any day since protests began.

Those detained ranged in age from 12 to 71. More than 100 people were taken to hospital and 30 police were injured.

Tuesday’s unrest saw police fire 900 rubber bullets and 1,400 rounds of tear gas. That compares with 1,000 tear gas canisters fired in the first two months of protests.

In the days leading up to the anniversary, tensions were high in Hong Kong, which always sees protests on National Day.

This year, however, Hong Kong has seen four months of protests sparked by proposed changes to an extradition bill. Though the changes have been abandoned, the unrest has continued, expanding into demands for greater democracy.

Students at Tsuen Wan Public Ho Chuen Yiu Memorial College show solidarity with the shot protester
Students at Tsuen Wan Public Ho Chuen Yiu Memorial College show solidarity with the protester who was shot

The shooting of Tsang Chi-kin, who was attacking an officer with a pole, was captured on video and shared online.

“My chest is hurting, I need to go to hospital,” said the 18-year-old, who was arrested after being shot. The government said he was now in a stable condition.

Although people have been shot with rubber bullets in previous protests, this was the first injury from a live round.

Police chief Stephen Lo said firing the bullet was “lawful and reasonable” as the officer thought his and colleagues’ lives were under threat.

Asked why the bullet was fired at close range, Mr Lo said: “He [the officer] did not decide the distance between him and the assailant.”

Hundreds of people staged a peaceful sit-in outside the teenager’s school on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, 96 people, mostly students, who had been arrested on Sunday appeared in court charged with rioting.

Repairs to shops, businesses and public facilities – including the mass transit system – are under way following Tuesday’s violence. All metro stations are now open.

What made Tuesday different?

In Beijing, the anniversary of Communist Party rule saw a parade of Chinese military might: 15,000 troops, 580 vehicles and missiles, and 160 aircraft.

In Hong Kong, some 1,200 miles away, protesters marked the day very differently.

Peaceful marches soon exploded into violence. BBC reporter Tessa Wong, who was on the streets, said protesters fought “pitched battles” with officers.

Shortly before Tsang Chi-kin was shot, men wearing helmets and gas masks attacked an officer on the ground with a pole.

An officer responded by firing his gun at close range.

Elsewhere, protesters threw petrol bombs, started fires, and ran at officers. Police responded with water cannon, tear gas, and – in total – six live rounds.

The day saw the highest number of arrests since this year’s protests began, and the highest number of live rounds fired.

A woman at West Kowloon Law Courts on Wednesday, where 96 anti-government protesters were due to appear
A woman at West Kowloon Law Courts on Wednesday, before 96 anti-government protesters arrested on Sunday were due to appear

What explains the anger?

The protests were sparked earlier this year by a proposed law, which would have allowed extradition from Hong Kong to the Chinese mainland.

Opponents thought this would put Hong Kongers at risk of unfair trials, and, in July, Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said the law “was dead”.

But despite the law being withdrawn, the protests have continued every weekend.

Clashes between police and protesters have created their own momentum, and there is wider discontent too.

Recent years have seen growing opposition to the perceived encroachment of Beijing on Hong Kong’s politics and threats to local identity.

Many young people have economic worries, and there are also demands for universal suffrage for elections to Hong Kong’s parliament.

As China showed off its superpower status in Beijing, violence in Hong Kong – a special administrative region of China – was inevitable.

What is the background?

Until 1997, Hong Kong was a British territory. Since then, it has been part of China but with its own system of law and government – known as One Country, Two Systems.

Hong Kong has its own judiciary and a separate legal system. Rights including freedom of assembly and freedom of speech are protected.

But those freedoms – the Basic Law – expire in 2047. It is not clear what Hong Kong’s status will be then.

EVIL IS DEAD Robert Mugabe: From Liberator to Marxist Tyrant

EVIL IS DEAD: Robert Mugabe: From liberator to tyrant

NOTE: In the late 1980s I did business in sub Saharan Africa including work with Mugabe’s cousin in Zimbabwe. At the time the economy there was remarkable.

I too believed that he was a good man with good intentions but soon realized that he was evil, and I don’t use that word lightly. The good people of Zimbabwe suffered unspeakable crimes by this man. Dale Yeager

Robert Gabriel Mugabe was a man who divided global public opinion like few others. To some, he was an evil dictator who should have ended his days in jail for crimes against humanity.

To others, he was a revolutionary hero, who fought racial oppression and stood up to Western imperialism and neo-colonialism.

On his own terms, he was an undoubted success.

First, he delivered independence for Zimbabwe after decades of white-minority rule.

He then remained in power for 37 years – outlasting his greatest enemies and rivals such as Tony Blair, George W Bush, Joshua Nkomo, Morgan Tsvangirai and Nelson Mandela.

And he destroyed the economic power of Zimbabwe’s white community, which was based on their hold over the country’s most fertile land.

However, his compatriots – except for a small, well-connected elite – paid the price, with the destruction of what had once been one of Africa’s most diversified economies.

In the end, this came back to haunt him.

The outpouring of joy on the streets of Harare which greeted his forced resignation in November 2017 echoed the jubilation in the same city 37 years earlier when it was announced he was the new leader of independent Zimbabwe.

Zimbabweans celebrate after President Robert Mugabe resigns in Harare, Zimbabwe November 21, 2017.
Zimbabweans celebrating Robert Mugabe’s resignation

Although he was allowed to see out his days in peace in his Harare mansion, it was not the end he wanted, having famously boasted: “Only God, who appointed me, will remove me.”

Many Zimbabweans trace the reversal of his – and their – fortunes to his 1996 wedding to his secretary Grace Marufu, 41 years his junior, following the death of his widely respected first wife, Sally, in 1992.

“He changed the moment Sally died, when he married a young gold-digger,” according to Wilf Mbanga, editor of The Zimbabwean newspaper, who used to be close personal friends with Mr Mugabe.

That sentiment was common long before anyone dreamed she might one day harbour presidential ambitions, which were the trigger for his close allies in the military and the ruling Zanu-PF party to oust Mr Mugabe from power.

Mugabe the man

While he was sometimes portrayed as a madman, this was far from the truth. He was extremely intelligent and those who underestimated him usually discovered this to their cost.

Stephen Chan, a professor at London’s School of Oriental and African Studies, noted Mr Mugabe had repeatedly embarrassed the West with his “adroit diplomacy”.


Mugabe in his own words:

Cricket civilises people and creates good gentlemen. I want everyone to play cricket in Zimbabwe; I want ours to be a nation of gentlemen” – undated

Let the MDC and its leadership be warned that those who play with fire will not only be burnt, but consumed by that fire” – 2003 election rally

We are not hungry… Why foist this food upon us? We don’t want to be choked. We have enough” – interview with Sky TV in 2004, amid widespread food shortages

Robert Mugabe, pictured wearing a cap and clenched fists, during 2008 election rally

“Only God, who appointed me, will remove me – not the MDC, not the British. Only God will remove me.” Robert Mugabe
During election rally, 2008

Don’t drink at all, don’t smoke, you must exercise and eat vegetables and fruit” – interview on his 88th birthday in 2012

[Nelson] Mandela [South Africa’s first black president] has gone a bit too far in doing good to the non-black communities, really in some cases at the expense of [blacks]… That’s being too saintly, too good, too much of a saint” – 2013 state TV interview


As a former political rival of Mr Mugabe, who went on to serve as his home affairs minister, Dumiso Dabengwa witnessed the different sides of Zimbabwe’s founding father.

“Under normal circumstances, he would be very charming but when he got angry, he was something else – if you crossed him, he could certainly be ruthless,” he told the BBC before his death in May 2019.

Mr Dabengwa said the president would often let him win an argument over policy during the decade they worked together, or they would agree to compromise – not the behaviour of a dictator.

But something, he added, changed after 2000 and Mr Mugabe resorted to threats to ensure he got his way.

“He held compromising material over several of his colleagues and they knew they would face criminal charges if they opposed him.”

This is not a picture recognised by Chen Chimutengwende, who worked alongside Mr Mugabe in both the Zanu-PF party and government for 30 years.

“In all the time I have worked with him, I have never seen him be vindictive or ill-treat anyone,” he said.


Wilf Mbanga, editor, The Zimbabwean:

Robert Mugabe and Wilf Mbanga (c) and Julius Nyerere (r)
Image captionWilf Mbanga (c) used to be good friends with Robert Mugabe (l)

“He went from trying to convince you with his arguments to a man who would send his thugs to beat you up if you disagreed with him”


Mr Chimutengwende felt Zimbabwe’s leader had been unfairly demonised in the Western media because of his policy of seizing land from white farmers whom he suspects of having influential supporters, especially in the UK, where many trace their roots.

Mugabe the teacher

The year 2000 marked a watershed both in the history of Zimbabwe and the career of Mr Mugabe.

Until then, he was generally feted for reaching out towards the white community following independence, while Zimbabwe’s economy was still faring pretty well.

After coming to power in 1980, Mr Mugabe greatly expanded education and healthcare for black Zimbabweans and the country enjoyed living standards far higher than its neighbours.

In 1995, a World Bank report praised Zimbabwe’s rapid progress in the fields of health and literacy. Run by a former teacher, the country had the highest literacy rates in Africa.

In her book, Dinner With Mugabe, Heidi Hollande said Mr Mugabe used to personally coach illiterate State House workers to help them pass exams.

Mr Mbanga recalls listening to the songs of US country singer Jim Reeves together.

“He could be very affectionate, he was an intellectual. He liked explaining things, like a teacher,” said Mr Mbanga, but then saw a huge change in his former friend.

“He went from trying to convince you with his arguments to a man who would send his thugs to beat you up if you disagreed with him.”

In fact, the warning signs were already there – the massacre of thousands of ethnic Ndebeles seen as supporters of Mr Mugabe’s rival, Joshua Nkomo, in the 1980s and the start of the economic decline – but these were usually overlooked.

Robert Mugabe, the Prime Minister of Zimbabwe, visits the Queen at Buckingham Palace with his wife Sally, 20th May 1982.
Sally Mugabe was said to have been a “moderating influence” on her husband
Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe and leader of the rulling party ZANU PF (Zimbabwe African National Union - Patriotic Front party) and his wife Grace attend at Mugabe"s campaign rally in Harare on March 28, 2008.
Some Zimbabweans say things started going wrong when he married his young secretary, Grace, in 1996.

“Some say he had us all fooled, I am convinced he himself changed,” Mr Mbanga said.

The journalist says that in his early years as president, Mr Mugabe genuinely believed in trying to improve the lives of his people, and introduced a “leadership code” which barred ministers from owning too much property.

“Look at him today, he is fabulously wealthy. He is not the person I knew,” Mr Mbanga said in May 2014.

‘Political calculator’

In February 2000, the government lost a referendum on a draft constitution.

With parliamentary elections looming four months later and a newly formed opposition party with close links to the “No” campaign posing a serious threat, Mr Mugabe unleashed his personal militia.

Dup Muller, 59, a commercial farmer in Headlands, 110 kilometres, (70 miles) East of Harare, shows his 17th. century clock, 11 August 2002, that was destroyed when his farm house was burnt by suspected war veterans
White farmers were attacked, along with their black workers
The entrance of an occupied farm in Zimbabwe in 2000
The land invasions turned much of Zimbabwe into no-go areas for the opposition

Some were genuine veterans of the 1970s war of independence but others were far younger.

TV footage of white farmers queuing up to make donations to the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) meant Mr Mugabe was able to portray the opposition as stooges of the white community, and by extension the UK.

The invasion of white-owned farms achieved several goals for Mr Mugabe and his allies:

  • Punish the white community for their “betrayal”
  • Remove a source of funding from the opposition
  • Allow the “war veterans” to intimidate the many thousands of black farmworkers, largely seen as opposition supporters
  • Ensure that the opposition could not campaign in rural areas
  • Re-energise his supporters, some of whom had been losing faith in his ability to redistribute land – one of the grievances behind the 1970s war of independence
  • Attract new supporters with the promise of land handouts.

There was certainly a strong moral argument that land reform was needed in Zimbabwe but the way it was carried out was undoubtedly with political motivations uppermost.

Despite the widespread violence, intimidation and electoral fraud, the MDC gained almost as many elected seats as Zanu-PF in 2000.

Had it not been for the intimidation in rural areas, Zanu-PF may well have lost its majority.

Lovemore Madhuku, one of the leaders of the “No” campaign in 2000, described Mr Mugabe as an “an excellent political calculator”, who adapted his tactics to the situation.

“There are moments when he chooses to be ruthless, others when he chooses to be magnanimous… He considers what is best – for him – in every situation and reacts accordingly,” Mr Madhuku told the BBC.

Mugabe: From war hero to resignation

He said Mr Mugabe might not have realised the damage the seizure of white-owned land would do to Zimbabwe’s economy but in any case, he would not have cared, as long as he remained president.

Mr Chan agreed that, “in terms of Mr Mugabe’s value-set, the ownership of the land is more important than the smooth running of the economy”.

And the economy continued to decline until 2008.

Harare shoppers walk past empty shelves in 2007
Zimbabwe’s shops ran out of basic goods

After 28 years of Mr Mugabe’s rule, the resourceful, largely self-sufficient country lay in ruins. The inflation rate had reached an unfathomable 231 million per cent and young Zimbabweans were voting with their feet, fleeing the country he had fought to liberate.

And yet, from this low point, he once more managed to outmanoeuvre his rivals and remain in power for another nine years.

‘Mummy’s Boy’ to African liberator

The key to understanding Robert Mugabe is the fight against white-minority rule.

In the Rhodesia where he grew up, power was reserved for some 270,000 white people at the expense of about six millions Africans.

A host of other laws discriminated against the black majority, largely subsistence farmers.

They were forced to leave their ancestral land and pushed into the country’s peripheral regions, with dry soil and low rainfall, while the most fertile areas were reserved for white farmers.

Reclaiming the land was one of the main drivers behind the 1970s war which brought Mr Mugabe to power.

The son of a carpenter who abandoned his family, as a child Mr Mugabe was said to have been a loner, who spent much of his time reading.

Ms Hollande wrote that after his elder brother died of poisoning when Mr Mugabe was just 10, his mother became depressed and the young Mugabe would do everything he could for her, to the extent he was teased as a “mummy’s boy” at school.

He eventually qualified as a teacher and in 1958 went to work in Ghana, which had just become the first African country south of the Sahara to end colonial rule.

Encouraged by his Ghanaian wife, Sally, and the pan-Africanist speeches of Ghana’s leader Kwame Nkrumah, Mr Mugabe became determined to achieve the same back home.

On his return in 1960, he started to campaign for an end to discrimination and was jailed for a decade after being convicted of sedition.

While in prison, his supporters wrested control of Zanu, the biggest party fighting white rule, and installed him as leader.

On his release, he was supposed to remain in the country but with the help of a white nun, he was smuggled over the border into Mozambique and the Zanu guerrilla camps.

‘He loves power’

After Mr Mugabe won the 1980 elections which led to independence, he pursued a policy of reconciliation with the white community despite the bitterness built up during the war.

In a national address after becoming prime minister, he declared: “If you were my enemy, you are now my friend. If you hated me, you cannot avoid the love that binds me to you and you to me.”


Four faces of Mugabe:

Robert Mugabe in 1979

Before independence:

“He was a very nice guy. At that stage, he was not too sure of himself. There were very strong people in Zanu who were not afraid to oppose him. He would never take a decision on his own” – Dumiso Dabengwa

1980-90:

“He did everything he could to improve the lives of his people. He wanted education for all. He wanted health for all. He introduced a leadership code limiting Zanu-PF cadres to 50 acres of land” – Wilf Mbanga

1990-2000:

“I worked very harmoniously with him and discussed issues. He would let me have my way or we would reach a compromise” – Dumiso Dabengwa

2000 – 2017:

“After 2000, he started flexing his muscles. He brought in people who he could influence. Several people were compromised – he held something over them” – Dumiso Dabengwa.

“He has become fabulously wealthy. He is not the person I knew. He changed the moment Sally died [in 1992], when he married a young gold-digger [Grace Mugabe]” – Wilf Mbanga


He allowed Ian Smith, the Rhodesian prime minister who had once declared that black people would not rule the country for 1,000 years and who reportedly personally refused to let Mr Mugabe leave prison for the funeral of his then only son, to remain both an MP and on his farm.

At this point, according to Mr Madhuku, Mr Mugabe’s hold on power was relatively weak, so he realised he had to reach out to his former enemies.

Former home affairs minister Mr Dabengwa said Mr Mugabe was even less self-confident earlier on in his political career.

“When I first met him in the 1960s, he was not sure of himself, of his position in Zanu,” Mr Dabengwa recalled.

“There were very strong people in Zanu who were not afraid to oppose him. He would never take a decision on his own but would always check with them first.”

But slowly, he consolidated control – first over the party which led the war against white-minority rule and later the country as a whole – until the point where his was the only voice that counted.

“He loves power, it’s in his DNA,” said Mr Madhuku.

Bonds forged in war

Throughout his time as president, his closest allies were always those with whom he had endured the hardships of life during the guerrilla war of independence.

When they felt their grip on power, and its trappings, were threatened, they reverted wholeheartedly to the conflict mentality.

“We are in a war to defend our rights and the interests of our people. The British have decided to take us on through the MDC,” he told a 2002 election rally.

Fredrick Shaba, a local official for the Zimbabwean opposition party Movement for Democratic Change is treated for stab wounds June 20, 2008 in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe.
Image captionFredrick Shaba was one of many MDC officials attacked around the country in elections after 2000

This meant opposition supporters were denounced as traitors – a label which could mean an immediate death sentence.

Mr Chimutengwende argued that the scale of the violence was exaggerated and in any case sought to distance it from Mr Mugabe: “It is not the leader who throws a stone, or asks his followers to throw a stone.”

But Mr Dabengwa, the minister in charge of the police in 2000, said Mr Mugabe’s Zanu party had been using such methods since the 1980 election.

He said that fighters from Zanu’s armed wing had been sent out into rural areas to ensure villagers voted the “right” way, partly through all-night indoctrination sessions, known as “pungwes”.

“People were told there were magic binoculars which could tell which way they voted and there were no-go areas for other parties,” said Mr Dabengwa, whose Zapu party came a distant second in 1980.

“But the British declared those elections free and fair and so Zanu learnt that that was how to win an election.”

Although he won those elections in 1980, and formed a coalition government with Zapu, the underlying tensions burst into open violence just two years later.

Zapu leader Joshua Nkomo was accused of plotting a coup and the army’s North Korea-trained Fifth Brigade was sent to his home region of Matabeleland.

Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe (L) and former President of Zimbabwe African People's Union (ZAPU) Joshua Nkomo raise their fists 22 December 1987 in Nairobi.
Image captionAfter the Gukurahundi killings, Mr Mugabe and Joshua Nkomo agreed to share power

More than 20,000 people were killed in Operation Gukurahundi, which means “the early rain which washes away the chaff”.

At the time, South African double-agent Kevin Woods was making daily reports in person to then Prime Minister Mugabe for the internal security force, the Central Intelligence Organisation.

“He obviously wanted to know exactly what Fifth Brigade was doing,” he wrote in his autobiography.

In the end, a subdued Mr Nkomo once more agreed to share power with his enemy in order to end the violence in his home region – a forerunner of what later happened to the MDC.


Mugabe timeline

21 February 1924: Born

1964: Jailed after being convicted of sedition

1973: Becomes Zanu leader

1980: Becomes prime minister of Zimbabwe

1987: Becomes president under new constitution agreed under deal to end Matabeleland massacres

1992: Wife Sally dies

1996: Marries Grace Marufu

2000: Loses referendum, land invasions begin

2002: Wins presidential election amid widespread violence and fraud allegations

2005: Launches Operation Murambatsvina (Drive Out Rubbish), which forces 700,000 urban residents from their homes – seen as punishment for opposition supporters

2008: Comes second in election, violence leads his opponent Morgan Tsvangirai to withdraw from run-off

2009: Forms coalition government

2013: Resoundingly re-elected, Tsvangirai returns to opposition

2017: Forced to resign after army seizes power

6 September 2019: Dies in Singapore, which he visits for hospital treatment


Before he was finally ousted, his political low point was in 2008, when MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai beat him in a presidential election, although not by enough for outright victory, according to the official results.

There were numerous reports Mr Mugabe was on the verge of resigning, although Mr Madhuku said he did not believe them, as the president subsequently demonstrated his determination to remain in power.

Again, a setback led to a sustained campaign of violence against his “enemies”.

The army and Zanu-PF militias attacked MDC supporters around the country, killing more than 100 and forcing thousands from their homes.

It became obvious that Zanu-PF would not relinquish its grip on power and Mr Tsvangirai withdrew from the second round, saying it was the only way to save lives.

Zimbabwe’s economy continued its freefall, reaching its nadir when people were dying from cholera in Harare because the country did not have the foreign currency to import the necessary chemicals to treat the water.

Under intense pressure, Mr Mugabe agreed to a coalition government with his long-time rival and, under MDC stewardship, the economy recovered.

Mugabe and Tsvangirai shake hands in 2008
Morgan Tsvangirai (r) was badly damaged by working with Robert Mugabe

But Prime Minister Tsvangirai was severely tarnished by working with Mr Mugabe – the president always managed to keep real power for himself and his allies.

By the time of the 2013 election, Mr Mugabe did not need to resort to extreme violence to win easily. He had once more demonstrated his remarkable skills of political survival and he remained in power until he was forced out in 2017.

Love-hate relationship with the UK

Mr Mugabe justified the 2000 land invasions by saying the UK’s Labour government, in power since 1997, had reneged on a British promise to fund peaceful land reform.

While it might be expected that an avowedly Marxist liberation fighter would have more in common with the Labour Party than the Conservatives, the opposite turned out to be true.


British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher shakes (Shaking) hands with Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, at Number Ten Downing Street in 1984,

Robert Mugabe:

“Mrs Thatcher, you could trust her. But of course what happened later was a different story with the Labour Party and Blair, who you could never trust”


Under Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, the UK accepted that as the former colonial power, it had the moral duty to help finance the process of buying white-owned land and redistributing it to black farmers.

But after a report found the process had been tainted by cronyism, British funding was put on hold.

The new Labour government took matters further and declared: “We do not accept that Britain has a special responsibility to meet the costs of land purchase in Zimbabwe.”

In 2013, Mr Mugabe observed: “Mrs Thatcher, you could trust her. But of course what happened later was a different story with the Labour Party and [former Prime Minister Tony] Blair, who you could never trust.

“Who can ever believe what Mr Blair says? Here we call him Bliar.”

Despite the vitriol directed at the UK from 2000 onwards, Mr Mugabe was in some ways the epitome of an English gentleman.

He was usually turned out in immaculate, dark, three-piece suits and ties – until he was given a makeover in 2000 and advised to campaign in brightly coloured cloth emblazoned with his own face, like many other African leaders.

Visitors to State House were always offered tea to drink and he was a huge fan of cricket.

“Cricket civilises people and creates good gentlemen. I want everyone to play cricket in Zimbabwe; I want ours to be a nation of gentlemen,” he once said.

‘Beaten Christ’

He was educated by Jesuits in the Katuma mission near his birthplace in Zvimba, north-west of Salisbury (now Harare), where he was taken under the wing of an Irish priest, Jerome O’Hea.

This is presumably where he developed his abstemious nature – he did not drink alcohol or coffee and was largely vegetarian.


Wilf Mbanga:

“If he had died after 10 years in power, he would have been my hero forever”


His second wife Grace said he used to wake up at 05:00 for his exercises, including yoga.

This healthy lifestyle was no doubt one reason why he lived until the age of 95.

For many years, his health was a constant source of speculation.

A 2008 US cable quoted in Wikileaks suggested Mr Mugabe had been diagnosed with cancer, giving him between three and five years to live.

This prognosis turned out to be false, and on his 88th birthday Mr Mugabe joked he had “beaten Christ” because he had died and been resurrected so many times.

‘Spoilt legacy’

While he was vilified in the West, his anti-colonial rhetoric did strike a chord across Africa, even among many who condemned his human rights record.

At the 2013 memorial service in Soweto for Nelson Mandela – who replaced Mr Mugabe as Africa’s most admired anti-colonial fighter – Zimbabwe’s president was wildly cheered by the young South African crowd, even as they booed their own then leader, Jacob Zuma.

“A lot of people think that pan-Africanism is a thing of the past but that is not true,” said Mr Mugabe’s staunch ally, Chen Chimutengwende.

“While imperialism and racism exist, pan-Africanism is still needed,” he told the BBC.

But Zimbabwean journalist Wilf Mbanga said that in his latter years, Mr Mugabe had far more support outside his home country than within.

“Those young South Africans who praise him do not have to live under his rule,” he said, pointing out that many Ghanaians had less than fond memories of life under pan-African hero Kwame Nkrumah, who had inspired Mr Mugabe.

So how will Mr Mugabe be remembered?

Mr Chan said that until 2000, Mr Mugabe had a “good report card”, although the verdict later turned to “disastrous”.

“If he had died after 10 years in power, he would have been my hero forever,” said Mr Mbanga.

“But look at the schools and hospitals now.

“He has spoilt his legacy. Now, people will remember him for driving people out of Harare, Gukurahundi, election violence and everything else.”

By Joseph Winter

FARC Marxist Rebels Behind Killings In Colombia

Government says FARC members who refused to disarm after the peace deal behind murder of mayoral candidate, others

BLUKE TAYLOR

OGOTA, Colombia—A candidate who aspired to become the first female mayor of a municipality in southwestern Colombia, a candidate running for city council, and four others were brutally killed by former members of the Marxist guerrilla group FARC, who refused to disarm during the country’s 2016 peace process, the government has said.

The bodies of mayoral candidate Karina Garcia and the others were found in a car incinerated on the side of the road in the Cauca region on Sept. 1. The assassination, which follows the alarming announcement by two former FARC leaders last week that they would return to war, is the first killing of a candidate during the campaign season for local and regional elections in October.

Experts monitoring an uptick in electoral violence across the country expect more to follow.

Garcia, who was 32, sensed that she was in danger from criminal groups eight days earlier, when four armed men threatened members of campaign and ordered them to take down all electoral banners and posters. Posters touting the candidate had been previously defaced by unknown actors with black spray paint.

But rather than backing down, Garcia continued to campaign for bringing political change to the municipality, requested assurances from the town’s mayor, and pleaded with rival candidates not to spread rumors that she said were putting her life in peril.

“Please, for God’s sake, don’t act so irresponsibly,” Garcia pleaded in a video she shared online on Aug. 24, refuting claims that she would bring paramilitaries or multinationals to the area. “This can bring fatal consequences for me.”

Eight days later, despite her pleas, Garcia’s charred body was discovered alongside five others in a burned-out car on the side of the road.

The charred remains of the car in which mayoral candidate Karina Garcia and five others were shot and killed, in a rural area of Suarez, Colombia, on Sept. 2, 2019.

The vehicle was hit by two grenades before coming under fire from another SUV and was then torched, a bodyguard who escaped the attack told local media.

Killed along with Garcia were a man and four other women, including local activists, a candidate for the city council, and Garcia’s mother.

Local residents held a candlelit vigil on Sept. 2 for the young politician, who leaves a husband and a 3-yearold daughter behind.

“They didn’t take the reports seriously,” the victim’s father told local press, denouncing the authorities for not protecting his daughter. He said his daughter “felt the need to help her community, in her veins.”

A peace agreement reached with Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) rebels in 2016 that formally ended a half-decade of conflict was supposed to open a new peaceful chapter in the country’s history. But while many areas witnessed a decrease in violence as 7,000 guerrillas put down their guns, in some regions, the violence continues, and targeted killings of human rights defenders and community leaders are surging.

“After 2016, the statistics on lethal and non-lethal violence have skyrocketed, and the situation is critical, not only for political actors but also for social leaders and human rights defenders that have been constantly attacked and murdered by these groups,’’ said Giorgio Londoño, researcher for the Peace, Conflict, and Postconflict department at the Bogotá- based research institute PARES.

Violence in the Cauca region is driven by rampant drug production and its strategic proximity to the Pacific coast, from where drugs are shipped abroad. Its volatile security panorama is complicated by strong social movements from indigenous groups that criminal bands aim to silence with intimidation and violence.

Among the bands warring for control of the territory are guerrillas, paramilitaries, and several new fronts formed by FARC rebels who refused to disarm. All, which were previously minor actors, have strengthened since the FARC left its power vacuum, analysts say.

The government has blamed the latest incident on FARC dissident rebels of the Sixth Front and offered a $45,000 reward for information that could lead to the capture of the alleged perpetrator, alias ‘Mayimbu’—a FARC dissident known for dominating illegal marijuana production in the region.

As local and regional elections approach, violence committed by such groups is likely to spike in the coming months, experts say.

Since nominations for departmental and municipal elections were submitted over a month ago, five applicants have already been killed, according to Colombia’s Electoral Observation Mission.

PARES reports eight threats, two killings, and three attempted murders to electoral candidates in Cauca since late October last year.

“Our research on electoral violence leads us to think that there could be more actions of this kind,” Londoño predicted, calling on the government to implement promises made in the peace agreement and offer better protection to those who report threats against them.

Communism and Religion Can’t Coexist

Marx’s line about the ‘opium of the people’ only hints at the ideology’s hostility.

Bolivian President Evo Morales, when meeting Pope Francis a few years ago, presented the Holy Father with a crucifix mounted on a hammer and sickle. The stunt prompted a debate that never seems to go away, whether it takes place on the world stage or in obscure religious journals: Is there a religious case for communism?

No amount of hope or hermeneutic effort can cleanse communism’s record of blood—especially the blood of religious adherents. Every communist regime has sought to purge the faith of its people. An atheistic ideology, communism is not only irreligious but antireligious.

The communist hatred of faith is a feature, not a fault. Karl Marx said so himself. Most are familiar with his line that religion is the “opium of the people.” What follows is even more pointed: “The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is the demand for their real happiness.” Criticism of religion is “the criticism of that vale of tears of which religion is the halo.” Religion may show man’s longing for a better existence, Marx argued, but it also prevents that dream from becoming reality.

Communist regimes put Marx’s principles into practice, starting with the first Marxist state. Between 1917 and 1921, the Soviet Union destroyed nearly 600 Russian Orthodox monasteries and convents. The leaders of the first communist country oversaw the killing of at least 300 Orthodox clergy. This bloodbath eventually became Soviet policy. The Eighth Party Congress decreed in 1920 that “the Party aims at the complete destruction of links between the exploiting classes and . . . religious propaganda, while assisting the actual liberation of the working masses from religious prejudices.”

The scholar Todd M. Johnson estimates that Soviet authorities sent 15 million Christians to their deaths in prison camps between 1921 and 1950. A further five million Christians perished in the following 30 years. The Soviet Union also targeted Muslim communities for mass deportation, killing, for example, as many as 46% of Crimean Tatars. Thousands of Buddhist monks also died at Soviet gunpoint. Where religion survived in the U.S.S.R., it did so secretly—or under the watchful eye and controlling hand of the state.

Central and Eastern European communist states also suppressed religion. Perhaps best known are the Polish communist attacks on the Catholic-driven Solidarity movement in the 1980s. Today North Korea reserves some of its harshest treatment for those found in possession of Christian Bibles. In Venezuela and Nicaragua, satellites of communist Cuba, Christian communities are viewed as a threat to the dictatorships and have been targeted for punishment.

Communist China is today’s worst offender. Since its founding, the People’s Republic of China has tried to control or eradicate every religion within its borders. Some, like Tibetan Buddhist monks, regularly face arrest, imprisonment or even death. Others, like Falun Gong practitioners, have their organs forcibly harvested for the benefit of party officials and foreign medical tourists. Christian churches are either shut down or forced to preach the party line. This includes the Catholic Church, which recently struck a deal with Beijing that allows the Chinese Communist Party to approve the selection of bishops and priests.

Modern communism’s inherent hatred of religion has perhaps found its most brutal demonstration in China’s treatment of the Muslim Uighurs. Since the time of Marx, the communist goal has always been the creation of a “new man.” That is the sole purpose of the so-called re-education camps in the province of Xinjiang. As many as three million Uighurs—more than a quarter of the population—have undergone political brainwashing in these camps. The goal is to strip them of their faith and culture, making them “fit” for the Chinese socialist system. As investigative scholar Adrian Zenz notes, those who are released from the “re-education” camps are most likely to be put into forced labor camps, which also continue to maintain regular ideological training in Marxist thought.

Most faiths call their adherents to look up past the things of this world. In communism, this world is all there is—a world of productivity and material goods, but nothing else. Thus the regimes that rule in its name seek to destroy the soul and deny any freedom of conscience. Faith, hope, charity and forbearance are dangerous ideas for a system that relies on fear and envy. And what is dangerous must be destroyed. To create the communist heaven on earth, the faithful must abandon their beliefs or endure a living hell.

Mr. Smith is executive director of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation in Washington.

Mass Shootings: Millennials’ Loneliness Plague

A third of US millennials feel lonely, per a recent YouGov survey, and a fifth say they have no friends, notes The Week’s Matthew Walther.

And while “we can make facile jokes about avocado toast and baristas with degrees in cultural studies” he is “not sure we should find them amusing.”

The crisis of modern loneliness is but one facet of an atomized, soulless society: “We cannot concentrate on anything. We don’t go anywhere, not even to buy food or diapers. . . . The richer we happen to be, the less likely we are to take time off to enjoy ourselves, despite generous vacation allowances.

The poorer we are, the more likely we are to kill ourselves with drugs, alcohol and guns. Even fornication is boring — we have porn for that.”