Archive for the ‘Human Rights’ Category
After the Woolwich killing there have been acres of commentary.
Perhaps we should concentrate on the reaction of the Left, and the influential voice of the Stop the War Coalition, (StWC).
It is impossible to ignore that this is riddled with contradictions.
Before we begin we should bear in mind three strains of different thoughts on the British left which co-exist uneasily.
- Firstly, that the War on Terror is a US-led, UK backed, strategy that has brought misery to countless countries above all in the Middle East.
- Secondly, that the ‘Arab Spring’ has brought the possibility of democratic and social advance to the Middle East, notably Egypt, and parts of North Africa (Tunisia above all).
- Thirdly, that this move forward is threatened not just by the way newly elected governments have adopted economic policies ts that favour business and finance over the people, but that Islamists represent a menace for their democracies.
On the last idea it was initially only the democratic left that worried about Islamism, but now apparently even those who stood “with” the Islamists against “the State’”are having second thoughts – on one country that is.
Such people are perfectly capable of holding to the opinion that Islamists can be ‘progressive’, that is fighting the War on Terror, and reactionary, fighting the Syrian regime.
Back to Woolwich,
According to Lindsey German there are “lessons to be learnt”.
The simple truth is that there were no such cases in Britain before the start of the ‘war on terror’ in 2001, which led to the invasions and occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq. The consequences of those wars have been devastating for the people of those countries and further afield. Up to a million died in Iraq and 4 million were made refugees. Tens of thousands have died in Afghanistan. Fighting still continues and in Iraq looks like descending into civil war in some parts of the country.
This reflects argument number One in its purest from.
But the StWC always add a corollary: their claim that ‘ending’ the ‘war’ (a pretty broad claim) will mean that this kind of violence will case.
The basis of this claim is disputable :Islamism is perfectly capable of violence against those who have not joined the ‘war’, as inter-Muslim violence proves.
There is also more than a distasteful hint here: we should do what the StWC says or…..
German then observes,
Any rational balance sheet of the last decade and more would demonstrate that the war on terror has been a failure in its own terms. It has not prevented terrorism but caused it to spread.
It is not demonstrable that there is something called – other than rhetorically - the “war on terror” in the first place: there have been a series of different interventions by Western, NATO-led, forces, in countries ranging from Iraq (clearly wrong) to Mali (much less clear).
Furthermore, to repeat a previous point: is the development of violent Islamism simply a response to the war on terror?
Violent Islamism has, to say the least, deeper and more lasting roots, as anybody familiar with the history of Egypt, the Middle East and the Maghreb could say.
And it is not reducible to the history of Western colonialism either.
In the end there has to be a political solution to terrorism. But it can only start with recognition of the disastrous effect of western foreign policy in the Middle East and South Asia for decades now, exacerbated by the consequences of 12 years of wars. That means acknowledging that those of us who said these wars were not the answer and would make things worse were absolutely right.
What exactly is the political solution?
We can agree that Western intervention is wholly wrong. It has stoked the fires of conflict in all the countries she cites.
But is removing it a solution to the rise of violent anti-democratic Islamism?
Perhaps we should be, as the left, giving some energy to supporting the democratic left in these lands who offer a real political alternative to Islamism, authoritarian, intolerant, or indeed jihadist.
That involves a genuine politics of human rights.
This is the way to start thinking of how a solution can come about.
The failure of much of the British left to back the Arab democratic left is part of the problem.
Update: just listening to France Culture to speakers who consider that Putin is the winner of the Syrian crisis.
What a thought!
There will be time to discuss the Woolwich murder.
But let’s begin by dealing straight away with the wrong direction to take.
This sickening atrocity in London is exactly what we are paying the same kind of people to do in Syria
And this (BBC)
Asghar Bukhari said that while organisations are “rightly” condemning the suspected terror attack in Woolwich, they have “washed their hands” of the youth.
But he also blamed the government for failing to admit that there is a link between foreign policy and radicalisation.
The killers are clearly Islamists.
Apparently, according to some media, they originate from Nigeria.
The murdered man was a solider.
The Stop the War Coalition makes this ill-judged comment on the media’s reaction,
This reaction is one which manifestly fails to deal with the political causes underlying such attacks. The simple truth is that there were no such cases in Britain before the start of the ‘war on terror’ in 2001, which led to the invasions and occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq. The consequences of those wars have been devastating for the people of those countries and further afield. Up to a million died in Iraq and 4 million were made refugees. Tens of thousands have died in Afghanistan. Fighting still continues and in Iraq looks like descending into civil war in some parts of the country.
Nigeria is not the focus of British foreign policy, let alone military intervention.
This is was one killer is reported to have said,
In mobile phone video footage first broadcast by ITV News, one of the suspects was seen brandishing a cleaver and a knife. With the body of the victim lying yards away, the man said: “We swear by almighty Allah we will never stop fighting you. The only reason we have done this is because Muslims are dying every day. This British soldier is an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.”
Speaking in a British accent, the man said: “We must fight them. I apologise that women had to witness this today. But in our land, our women have to see the same. You people will never be safe. Remove your government, they don’t care about you.
“You think David Cameron is going to get caught in the street when we start bussin’ our guns? You think politicians are going to die? No it’s going to be the average guy, like you, and your children. So get rid of them. Tell them to bring our troops back so you can all live in peace.” In the footage, the man then walks away and talks to another suspected attacker, pictures of whom were also circulating.
This is the language of religious war, “because Muslims are dying every day”.
The religious cause is, it looks likely, is where to begin with.
Jihadists may identify with Muslims everywhere.
They are not unique.
The racists of the EDL take the same line and were out last night, as was an individual in Braintree Essex (BBC).
Identifying with other people’s suffering and causes can take a very different form
Some, at least some, of the left, identify with the left everywhere.
Some of us back the Iranian opposition, fighting Islamist tyranny, and the secular-left (and Muslim) Awami league in Bangladesh fighting Islamism there, the Tunisian left, battling an authoritarian Islamist-led government and the Egyptian left, demonstrating against the Moslem Brotherhood.
In this we do not murder or assault anybody.
We want freedom, not violence.
If I were a conscious Moslem I would be extremely concerned, above all, with the inter-Muslim massacres taking place daily in the Middle East.
If I were a commentator in the national media I would point out the immense suffering, with thousands dead, this is causing.
A full-scale inter-religious war appears to have been started there, and is reaching heights of cruelty in Syria.
This is the biggest story emerging in a vast area of the world – extending far beyond the Middle East.
In looking at this I would not make political points about the West’s backing for those Galloway claims they are “paying for”.
I would try to offer something that could help people find a way out of the horrors they are undergoing.
And if Nigerian events are implicated in the Woolwich atrocity I would refer to them.
I would then, perhaps then, go into a world-encompassing explanation, if I felt it was appropriate.
But firstly, dignity should be the key-note of any response: we oppose murder, full stop.
Tunisian Feminists Show Great Courage.
The FEMEN movement activist in Tunisia, Amina, was arrested on May 19 in Kairouan. Amina tagged the name of the “FEMEN” group on the wall of Uqba Ibn Nafaâ mosque.
This act earned him the resentment and anger of the inhabitants of the places which forced the police to make arrest.
According to a statement published on the FB page of the Ministry of the Interior, it announces the arrest of a woman who “would run contrary gesture of modesty” and that after consultation with the prosecutor.
This arrest is therefore due not an offence, but the intent to commit one, according to own statements of the Ministry of Interior.
En Tunisie, même pas besoin de soulever son T-Shirt. Taguer “FEMEN” sur un mur semble déjà considéré comme un attentat à la pudeur ! … http://fb.me/uv01oCds
In Tunisia you don;t even need to lift up your T-shirt: Tagging FEMEN on a wall seems already considered as an indecent assault.
The Minister of the Interior claims that Amina was about the carry out a “geste contraire à la pudeur” a gesture contrary to morals, the group Femen being known for their “topless” actions.
It is also claimed that this arrest was for her own protection. She was caught in Kairouan, where the Salafists intended to carry out their own actions (from Elle and see previous post here).
More from the French version of the Huffington Post.
The English version says this,
There are reports activist Amina Tyler has been arrested after daubing the word ‘Femen’ on a cemetery wall in Tunisia.
Tyler, who was threatened with death by stoning for baring her breasts online, was pictured being led away after police and Salafists clashed in Kairouan this weekend.
One protester was killed and 15 policemen were wounded after fighting erupted between hardline Islamists and security forces in response to the ban on Salafists from staging their annual congress.
Real Left Unity.
Marxist Dentists around the UK leave copies of The Lady and Country Life to stir up class hatred.
At least that was my theory on reading Rachel Johnson’s magazine this morning waiting for an appointment.
One article about a Lady of the British Empire who could not boil an egg, had crossed the planet, swum with dolphins, holidayed in the Savanna, struck me.
I doubt if she was prepared to walk to Liddle to get 15 pence off a tin of sardines.
This, I suspect, is not a lone reaction.
Margaret Thatcher’s death and the rise of UKIP brought back a cold draft of class politics to this country.
Many realised that the Thatcher project, to make everybody stand or fall in the gales of competing on the market, and the pumped-up loathing of foreigners |(notably excepting the USA) that went with it, is alive and well.
Like many on the left, trade unionists and anti-cuts activists, I am committed to the People’s Assembly Against Austerity.
This is a grand occasion for us to get together on issues that affect us all, to build a constructive left-wing alternative to the politics of hate and the priorities of the wealthy.
It will unite us with our fellows across Europe in opposing the financial forces that have imposed cuts and more privatisation in the UK, and destitution and mass unemployment in countries from Greece and Spain to Portugal – not to mention the misery brought upon UKIP’s bogies in Rumania and Bulgaria.
There is a serious debate to be had about the European Union, and the role of the ”Troika’ in pushing through austerity.
The French left is divided between those who think that Angela Merkel is at heart a pragmatist and will – eventually – see sense and launch an expansionist drive. French president Hollande’s intervention yesterday, in which he proposed a European economic “governance” went in this sense. Some on his side believe in federalism, a politically united Europe.
Others are sceptical. They want a radical overhall of the EU. A few want greater national sovereignty restored.
In the UK we have by contrast, as Seamus Milne noted in the Guardian this week, a debate on Europe whose agenda is set by the right.
This is a threat,
a successful Tory-led campaign to pull out of the EU would risk unleashing a carnival of reaction, anti-migrant hysteria, more attacks on social rights, and a further lurch to the right.
Milne states, rightly,
What has been almost entirely missing from the mainstream British public debate has been the progressive case for fundamental change that has been central to the struggle over the EU and its treaties in mainland Europe. In the 1975 referendum, the left case against the then common market was that it was a cold war customs union against the developing world that would block socialist reforms. But the modern EU has gone much further, giving a failed neoliberal model of capitalism the force of treaty, entrenching deregulation and privatisation and enforcing corporate power over employment rights.
What would be fatal would be to allow the nationalist right to continue to dictate the EU agenda and wrap itself in the mantle of democratic legitimacy. The terms of debate have to change – for the sake of both Britain and Europe.
Much of the British left remain dominated by the anti-EEC ideas of the 1970s.
They have not confronted this menace.
Indeed they think their tiny forces can intervene to make the “progressive” case for a sovereign UK outside the EU.
We need a real campaign in place of this: for a united social Europe!
The People’s Assembly could be a place to make the case of this.
Some of the left think there is a mileage in the Left Unity appeal of Kate Hudson and Ken Loach.
Recent prominent members of Respect , who failed to protest against George Galloway’ s politics, they are not in a position to preach unity to anybody least of all the ‘left’.
I merely cite this report by Tina Becker from the Weekly Worker to show that this is a dead-end,
Kate Hudson and Andrew Burgin (important driving forces) would have liked the proceedings to have gone differently. After all, the Stop the War Coalition and Respect – organisations both comrades were prominent in – were far more choreographed. But, ironically, bureaucratic coherence in fronts like these was provided by the likes of the Socialist Workers Party, part of the organised left to which LU is to a great extent a reaction. The politically decrepit Socialist Resistance – the one ‘insider’ group – is no substitute.
The proposed political platform written by Kate Hudson was circulated three days before; a proposal for the electoral procedure to the national coordination committee was sent out 20 hours before; the chairs seem to have been pre-chosen on the basis that they had no previous experience of handling big meetings (one chair was actually introduced as someone who had “never attended a political meeting before”). No wonder that quite a few times people in the room (the chairs included) did not actually know what exactly they were voting on. It was pretty chaotic, in other words.
This was also reflected in the rather uneven attendance. Local groups were supposed to send two delegates each, but where more people expressed an interest in coming, they were advised by the interim leadership to simply divide their group into smaller parts. For example, Manchester comrades – all sitting together in the same meeting, in the same room – selected five delegates from different parts of the city. Elsewhere, groups had not even met yet. Andrew Burgin admitted that about half of the “90 or 100” local groups exist only in so far as one person had volunteered to be the local contact. So the reality was that pretty much anybody who wanted to come could do so.
Unless, of course, you happened to be a representative of a political organisation. The interim organising committee had decided to bar existing groups from even sending observers – apart from a representative of the Red-Green Alliance from Denmark, who showed up halfway through the meeting. Obviously it would have been a little harsh to send this poor comrade packing after he had made such a long journey, presumably on a well-informed hunch.
Followed by the latest TUSC (Left involving the RMT, Socialist Party and SWP) election result.
Election of a Borough Councillor for Rawmarsh Ward (Rotherham) on Thursday 16 May 2013
|Baldwin, William George||British National Party||80|
|Gray, Andrew Tony||Trade Unionists and Socialists Against Cuts||61|
|Meharban, Mohammed||Liberal Democrats||28|
|Parker, Martyn Lawton||The Conservative Party Candidate||107|
|Vines, Caven||UK Independence Party||1143 Elected|
|Wright, Lisa Marie||Labour Party Candidate||1039|
From Le Monde,
Les onze hommes sont qualifiés de “soldats apostats”, et leur bourreau, le visage couvert d’une cagoule noire, affirme dans cet enregistrement qu’ils ont été condamnés par un tribunal islamique de la province de Daïr Az Zour, dans l’est de la Syrie. Les “condamnés”, agenouillés et les yeux bandés, sont exécutés d’une balle à l’arrière du crâne. A chaque détonation, des islamistes brandissant des drapeaux noirs crient “Allah est grand.
The rebels from the Front Al-Nosra, linked to Al-Qaeda, have executed 11 Syrians accused of taking part in massacres committed by Bachar Al-Assad’s forces – according to a video put on line Thursday the 16th of May.
The 11 men are called “apostate soldiers”, and their butchers, their faces covered with a black hood, claim, in the video-recording, that they have been condemned by an Islamic Tribunal in the province of Daïr Az Zour in the Eastern Syria. The “condemned”, kneeling and blindfolded, are executed with a bullet in the back of the head. At each shot the Islamists wave black flags and shout, “Allah is Great.”
A further report in English,
Another video from Syria has emerged on YouTube showing jihadists of the rebel al-Nusra Front executing 11 men accused of playing a role in massacres by President Bashar al-Assad.
Earlier this week, footage posted online by a group loyal to the Assad regime showed a man, knife in hand, slicing parts of a dead soldier’s torso before turning to the camera and putting the heart in his mouth.
Like many, every day we have less and less sympathy for the Syrian Islamists.
Indeed with anybody engaged in killing.