domingo, 6 de enero de 2008

Venezuelans Demand Freedom for Carlos 'the Jackal'

On June 27, 1975, a group of agents from the French Secret Service (DST) attempted to enter an apartment at No. 9 Rue Toullier in Paris. A shootout began and as a result two DST agents and an informant named Michel Moukharbal were killed, while another DST agent was seriously wounded. From that day on, Ilich Ramirez, a Venezuelan citizen, became France's No. 1 public enemy.The hunt for Ramirez, also known as "Carlos" or the "Jackal" (as he was baptized by the international tabloid press in relation to the novel by Frederick Forsyth, "The Day of the Jackal"), ended nearly 20 years later in Khartoum, Sudan, when Ramirez was kidnapped and secretly taken to France.

Today an organization headed by his brother Vladimir, and whose aim is to obtain the liberation of Carlos and his repatriation, continues to act in his native Venezuela. Support for this cause is increasing not only in Venezuela but also in other South American countries and among public figures, such as President Hugo Chavez, who like Ilich Ramirez is a devout Marxist.After a recent televised message in which French President Nicholas Sarkozy asked the leader of FARC (a Colombian guerrilla organization) to free Ingrid Betancourt, a French citizen, the case of Carlos once again gained importance. Since the French government wants to recover Betancourt, who is a prisoner of a South American organization, then there is a possibility for an exchange and that Carlos could return to Venezuela.In a recent interview published in a Venezuelan blog, Vladimir Ramirez explains why the French authorities must release his brother."During the trial the French judges never interviewed any witnesses or allowed to question any of the witnesses that were at Rue Toullier that day in 1975. Ilich never had a fair trial, the only evidence given by the prosecutors have been press reports published by the Western media since 1975 until now," said Vladimir to ICR2021.

ICR2021: Why are the Europeans so shocked by your extradition request since there have been similar cases in the involving citizens from those countries?Vladimir: It is normal for Western countries to do this. For example, there was a woman from the US that was jailed in Peru accused of being a member of a left-wing guerilla group. One of Bill Clinton's last actions before ending his term in office was to plead with Fujimori to release her. Now the lady is finishing her sentence in a US jail and she is even allowed visits by her relatives, something that didn't happen in Peru. In those days Clinton was not accused of trying to destabilize the world, or of supporting revolutions and terrorist activities. Clinton knew that as a president his duty was to defend the rights of US citizens wherever they may be. Until now, none of our presidents acted like Clinton, only Chavez has done this.ICR: Since he was kidnapped in Sudan, what are Ilich's living conditions like?Vladimir: They have been the same since 1994, with variations in the brutality shown by the French government. Ilich has been shown inhumane treatment, with 10 years in solitary confinement, which is a violation of all the international treaties regarding jail conditions. Right now he has been transferred to a jail in a very remote location, making it very difficult for his lawyers to visit him since they have to travel for two days. The French authorities want to break Ilich's morale completely.ICR: Is it true that some people are planning to free Ilich through violent methods?Vladimir: Yes, I know that Ilich stirs up passions. There are some comrades that have called me and said that they are ready to carry out actions such as bombing the French Embassy, or kidnapping the ambassador etc., but Ilich has told me several times that his freedom must be obtained by political pressure not through military actions such as those he carried out in the past.(The following is excerpted from "The Only Biography Authorized by Ilich Ramirez (Carlos) by Vladimir Ramirez" published in ilichramirez.blogspot.com on March 30, 2007.)

Ilich Ramirez was born in 1949 in Venezuela, the eldest son of Altagracia Ramirez Navas, a successful lawyer. In 1966 Altagracia designed an educational plan whereby Ilich and his two other brothers, Lenin and Vladimir, would travel to Europe to learn English, French and German as well as about the cultures of those countries. In 1968, Ilich traveled to Moscow (then the Soviet Union) to continue his studies at the Patrice Lumumba University. In Moscow Ilich met Palestinian students, who invited him to join the People's Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).In July 1970 Ilich traveled to Jordan for military training at a PFLP refugee camp, where he is given the codename SALEM, that Ilich would continue to use until today. In September 1970, the Jordanian Army tried to expel the Palestinians from the country, and Carlos got his first combat experience in a conflict that ended with 3,000 dead refugees. After this episode, the FATEH decided to form an international military branch called "Black September" that would carry out acts of sabotage against pro-Western Arab governments, the United States and Israel.On Dec. 21, 1976, Carlos headed a commando team formed with members of several nationalities and stormed the headquarters of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries in Vienna, Austria. A total of 62 hostages are captured among the ministers of the member countries, aides and security guards. The objective of the operation was to denounce the plight of the Palestinian people, the aggression it faced from the governments of Israel and United States, as well as the collaboration of the regimes in Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Iran (then ruled by the Shah). The local police attempted a rescue operation that failed. Three people were killed. The next day Carlos and his commando team were flown along with 42 hostages to Algeria. The hostages were freed on Dec. 24.After the success of the operation in Vienna, the international tabloid press began to create the myth of Carlos by slandering him with the nickname of "The Jackal." Also, many armed operations carried out by Palestinian fighters were attributed to Carlos such as the hijack of the Air France airliner to Entebbe, Uganda, in which Ilich did not take part. From then on Ilich and his comrades were indeed involved in the war between East and West, Arabs and Zionists, oppressed and oppressors. Their theater of operations was in Europe and the Middle East, and their main enemies were the secret services of Israel, the United States and its allies.After 1990, due to the disappearance of the Soviet Union and the Eastern Block, Ilich's movements are restricted to the Middle East due to the pressure that the United States, Israel and Europe put on former allies of Ilich. By the end of 1993, Ilich was granted refuge by the government of Sudan, but the pressure that the imperialists put on the Sudanese makes them reach an agreement to hand over Ilich in return for military aid to continue the war against the rebel forces in southern Sudan. On Aug. 15, 1994, while Ilich was recovering from surgery, the Sudanese delivered him to French agents who kidnapped him in a jet plane to France.At the Air Force base of Villacoublay, Ilich was shown a "national arrest warrant" that is only valid for those who have been arrested within French territory. This is why we consider that Ilich was kidnapped by the French state and therefore the whole court case against him is invalid since there was no previous extradition process as is the custom, and therefore he must be released immediately and repatriated to Venezuela.We also denounce that during the 12 years that Ilich has been jailed in France, he has been physically tortured, attacked and has suffered assassination attempts by other inmates paid by the prison wardens, and has until now been under solitary confinement for a total of 10 years.In December 1997 Ilich was sentenced to life imprisonment for the supposed murder of two French secret agents.Other operations in Europe where Carlos may have been involved:In February 1971, the FPLP sent Carlos on a mission to London to gather information such as home addresses, telephone numbers, nick names and as many personal details about prominent pro-Israeli figures living in Europe.After some months the list of names given by Carlos to the FPLP included famous film stars, entertainers, politicians and prominent business figures such as Joseph Sieff, owner of the most famous department store in the U.K., Marks and Spencer, and also vice president of the British Zionist Federation.On Dec. 30, 1973, Sieff was in his home on the outskirts of London when a young man of dark complexion who spoke with a foreign accent forced the butler at gunpoint to take him to his employer's room. The man shot Sieff once in the face at point blank range, but could not continue firing since the gun jammed. Luckily for Sieff the police arrived within a few minutes but the lone gunman managed to escape, leaving the businessman in critical condition with a nine-millimeter bullet lodged in his jaw.Sept. 15, 1974: Grenade attack against the "Le Drugstore" cafe, Paris.March 29, 1982: Bombing of the Paris to Toulouse train.April 22, 1982: Explosion of car bomb at Rue Marbeuf, Paris.Dec. 31, 1983: Bombing of the Marseille to Paris train.Dec. 31, 1983: Bomb attack at the Marseille train station.


Marcelo Mackinnon
OhmyNews

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