the Disillusioned kid: March 2007
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Thursday, March 29, 2007

Who said (about the captured British marines), "There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that they were in Iraqi territorial waters. Equally, the Iranians may well claim that they were in their territorial waters. The extent and definition of territorial waters in this part of the world is very complicated"?

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Stop Robbin' the Poor

For those of you who don't know, I'm off to Faslane this weekend with these people:

Fortunately, I've managed to wangle my way out of wearing one of the costumes (and out of appearing in that photo).

We're going as part of Faslane 365 a year-long protest/blockade of the Trident base at Faslane from 1st October 2006 to 30th September 2007. The Nottingham contingent, which includes a number of people from Derby, will be blockading on Saturday and Sunday. We'll be crossing over with the Clandestine Insurgent Clown Army on Sunday, which ought to be fun, what with it being April Fool's Day. Cry havoc and let slip the dogs of peace!

We're spelling out "F365" in case you were wondering...

I'll write more about our exciting adventures when I get back, but in the meantime, thanks to the wonders of the interweb, you'll be able to follow what's going on at Notts Indymedia.

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Wednesday, March 21, 2007

If there is an attack on Iran, we will call civil disobedience in every community, walkouts in every school, protests and strikes in every workplace.

If Bush bombs Iran, we should bring this country to a standstill – and we are asking everyone to prepare for this escalation.


Tuesday, March 20, 2007

If you're a homophobe you can kiss my arse

Tim described this as "the most disgraceful and misleading bile that I have seen in a long time." I just think its ridiculous. In fact, the distinct lack of material by "Campaign2007" makes me wonder if this might actually be a joke. I do hope so, although the campaign which the video supports is all too real.

If this is meant seriously and you had anything to do with its production, kindly do me a favour and kill yourself. Cheers.

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Tell me about it

This (via) was taken at the United for Peace and Justice demo in NYC on Saturday.

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Thursday, March 08, 2007

Have you left yet?

This (via) is intriguing:
The President of Mauritius said on Wednesday his country would be prepared to quit the Commonwealth in its row with Britain over the forced expulsion of the people of the Chagos Islands.

In an interview on BBC radio, Anerood Jugnauth said he sympathised with the islanders expelled by Britain from the Chagos archipelago in the 1960s and 1970s who have been fighting for decades to be able to return home.

"I think ultimately we will have to go to court ... to the International Court of Justice," Jugnauth said.

Asked whether he would be prepared to pay the price of leaving the Commonwealth to pursue the legal battle, the president said: "I believe that yes".
Of course, this raises a number of questions. Not least the context in which the issue of Mauritius' exit from the Commonwealth was raised. Was it simply a hypothetical advanced by the interviewer, essentially out of the blue, or is there a real possibility of such a move taking place? The report on the BBC's own website states that Jugnauth "threatened to leave the Commonwealth," (my emphasis) which is clearly a very different thing to merely entertaining the possibility in response to questioning.

Presumably anybody seeking clarification could find it by searching for the interview online using the BBC's "listen again" feature, but it's hard to know where to start looking. The Reuters article gives few clues (in fact there's nothing beyond the fact that it took place on BBC radio on Wednesday), while the BBC's report bizarrely makes no mention of where this so called "threat" was made, not even admitting that the story emerged on its own radio show.

Whatever the provenance of Jugnauth's threat his remarks on Mauritian sovereignty over the Chagos Archipelago seem fairly unequivocal: "We have always claimed Chagos from the British. Our position has always been very clear on that," he said. "We were the first victim, we were deprived of part of our territory and this is against all the United Nations resolutions." Whatever the merits of Mauritian victimhood, his claims that the country was the "first victim," is dubious. Mauritius became independent in 1968, by which point the British had already carved off the Archipelago in order to allow the US to set up base on Diego Garcia, the largest of the islands. The eviction of the islanders began in 1967 when the British government bought out the islands' plantation owners, closed the plantations and stopped the regular supply ship. By my reckoning, that means the Chagossians became victims before Mauritius even existed, hence it is in fact them who get the dubious honour which Jugnauth seeks to claim.

As I've discussed previously (see e.g. here, here and here), the Mauritian government has an ambiguous relationship with the Chagossian struggle to return home. While government officials have got considerable rhetorical mileage out of the islanders' exile, the Chagossians appear to be less than enthusiastic about Mauritius' sovereignty claims:
In August [2000], the leader of the UK Chagossians, Olivier Bancoult, told the UK based Mauritius News that "we are fighting for our rights, and I am concerned with our rights and our own interests", to the thunderous applause of his compatriots. "All the time that Mauritius has been talking to the British Government, the Mauritius Government never bothered to bring in the islanders or to consult with them. Why should we worry about Mauritius?"
Perhaps nowdays, almost seven years later, this relationship is more cordial, but then again, maybe not.


Hello Ladies...

It's International Women's Day. A single day for (more than?) half the species might strike some of you as a little stingy, and indeed many organisations (including, rather disingenuously, the White House) mark International Women's Week. Unfortunately, I'm not organised enough to come up with a week of posts on women's right. In lieu of such a series, I bring you a single post as part of Blog Against Sexism Day.

It would be easy to list assorted attacks on womens rights across the world (e.g. the global gag rule, Nicaragua's ban on abortion, female genital mutilation in the Middle East and Africa etc.), but in many ways, what's much more interesting is the multitude forms of resistance to these practices which have emerged around the world: in the US, mothers are organising for rights considered fundamental in most other western countries; in Afghanistan, the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA), once heralded as the bearers of the country's future by western imperialists, but long-since forgotten by their fair-weather allies, continue to struggle against religious fundamentalism; last December, 2-300 people marched through Ipswich, following the murder of five prostitutes; in Iraq, women are organising in the face of the deteriorating situation and death threats; in Iran, women continue to protests against the regime, despite state repression.

Women continue to play a crucial role in every other social struggle you can think of. While they may not always get the headlines or the prominent roles, their presence is no less essential for that. (Platitudinous? Perhaps, but true.) The struggles for social justice, peace, freedom and good things generally won't amount to a hill of beans if it doesn't fully involve and account for half the species. My contribution to that involvement and accounting is this post, don't say I never do anything for you.

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Sunday, March 04, 2007

Who you calling yellow?

The General Federation of Iraqi Workers (GFIW, formerly the Iraqi Federation of Trade Unions) is the largest trade union federation in Iraq. Established in the aftermath of the invasion of Iraq by a number of parties, notably the Iraqi Communist Party, it is ostensibly opposed to the occupation, but has on many occasions worked with the occupiers. Most notoriously, in 2004, IFTU representative Abdullah Muhsin intervened in a debate at the Labour Party conference in order to forestall calls for a withdrawal of troops.

Unfortunately for the GFIW, the occupiers seem less than impressed with their complaisance. Although they have been given exclusive rights to unionise public sector workers in the country, they have been unable to overturn the various anti-union legislation imposed by the new regime. At the end of last month, US troops further demonstrated their commitment to democratic principles by raiding GFIW's headquarters. According to the union's official statement:
On 23 February, American and Iraqi forces raided the head office of the General Federation of Iraqi Workers (GFIW) and arrested one of the Union security staff.

This unprovoked attack resulted in the destruction of furniture, the confiscation of a computer and fax machine and the arrest of employee who was released unharmed later same day.

The same force repeated this unprovoked attack on 25 February and caused further damage.
The unfortunate reality for GFIW is that, whatever their position vis-à-vis the occupation, they remain a barrier to US/UK efforts to neoliberalise Iraq by force, privatising its resources and handing over control of key industries to western companies. Almost by definition workers' organisation poses a threat to profit margins and hence cannot be allowed to take place outside very tight constraints. (Recall that totalitarian regimes, including Ba'athist Iraq, often use state-run unions as a further tool of control.)

Whatever your position on the occupation - or for that matter formal unionism - I think the emergence of a nascent civil society in Iraq, whatever its flaws, is a positive development. It offers hope that Iraq may not be doomed to perpetual suffering, as I sometimes fear in my more pessimistic moments.

You can send an appropriately strongly worded letter of protest here.

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Saturday, March 03, 2007

What's the Danish for fuck the police?

It looks like things are really kicking off in Copenhagen.

Internationally most famous for its statue of Hans Christian Anderson's Little Mermaid (which is frankly crap in case you were thinking about going), the city also has a vibrant underground. The "Freetown" of Christiania is a former military base which has been squatted since the 1970s and become a hippy-commune-cum-drugs-supermarket, although the Danish state has increasingly tried to assert its control over the community in recent years. The city also has a squatted social centre known as the Youth House (Ungdomshuset) which has been occupied since 1982. Unfortunately, the authorities sold the building to a Christian group who have now obtained a court order for the eviction of the residents. This order was implemented on Thursday (March 1).

The eviction was carried out at 7am (6am GMT) by anti-terror police, deployed from helicopters. Police were soon in control of the building, but more than a thousand squatters and supporters took to the surrounding streets, erecting barricades, torching cars and skirmishing with police. Thursday's clashes led to the arrest of 217 people and injuries to a 25 people, but this wasn't the end of unrest. On Friday night into Saturday morning, squatters again took to the streets, engaging in battles with police, leading to the arrest of 100 people.

Squatters have pledged to continue their fight. Jan, apparently a "spokesman" for the squatters, told Reuters, that activists planned to disrupt traffic, with "pin-point actions creating short breakdowns and disruptions. For example, having a dinner party in the street". He further asserted, "The struggle will continue for a long time. As long as there is no Youth House in Copenhagen, there will be a fight to get one." Solidarity demonstrations, meanwhile, have taken place in Australia, Germany, Norway, Sweden and London.

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Thursday, March 01, 2007

WARNING: Wearing a red nose in Westminster could get you arrested.


I don't own a motor car, but you should listen to me anyway

The facility to sign petitions on the Prime Minister's website, has been the source of some consternation in recent weeks, after the government made the mistake of treading on the toes of Britain's motorists. Rather less fanfare accompanied the launch of a petition condemning government policy vis-a-vis the Chagossians and demanding that the islander's ancestral homes be returned to them:
We believe that the forced expulsion of the Chagos Archipeligo at the request of the USA for the sole purpose of establishing a military base on Diego Garcia to be a shameful episode in our countrys' recent history.

Perhaps even more shamefully, the UK government now intends to stop the Chagossians from ever returning to their homes. To do this it will have to overturn or ignore two High Court Judgements allowing the Chagossians the right to return. This is in spite of Home Secretary Robin Cooks position of not contesting the decision to allow repatriation in 2000.

It seems the continuing ''War on Terror'' allows for the contiued theft of these Islands, simply for their strategic position in relation to the Gulf and any future campaigns.
This certainly isn't the first petition organised in support of the Chagossian (see e.g. here, here and here) and it's unlikely to be the last, but as the UK Chagos Support Association note, "It only takes a moment and, while it might not change the world, it adds to the pressure, as this recent episode demonstrated." So, what are you waiting for? Go sign it.

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