Monthly Archives: March 2005

Rachel Corrie

Rachel Corrie 1979-2003
This wreath was laid to the memory of Rachel Corrie on 16th March, 2005, the second aniiversary of her death. The photographs were supplied by Zarina Bhatia shown with others who were there (below).Caterpillar supplies its products to the Israeli Government who use the vehicles to demolish Palestinian homes. Rachel Corrie, an American, tried to prevent one in the Gaza strip. She was crushed to death. Here there is an article by the late Edward Said who visited Rachel’s parents in Seattle. He says her father had driven caterpillars himself, but the one that killed his daughter was far bigger than anything he had seen. It had been designed specifically for house demolition. Hanan Ashrawi makes the point “The oppressive nature of a military occupation eventually victimizes the occupier much as it does the occupied.”
The political idea of “terrorist” is thrown into sharp focus by this article. The caterpillar is here a weapon used to terrorise a community. Rachel is not he only death caused in the demolition process: houses are bulldozed along with their with occupants and many innocent Palestinians have also lost their lives. As was noted in the televised series “The Power of Nightmares” the idea of “terror” has become a political tool to subdue nations. Both Bush and Blair know this. Blair did not take the opportunity to denounce this form of terror. Along with Ariel Sharon he singled out the Palestinians as the source of the terror.
Throughout Palestine, houses are being demolished and people are being killed as Israel builds it ‘apartheid’ wall. The machines used in this reign of terror include the Caterpillar Bullldozer. The Financial Headquarters in Europe of that firm are based at Hockley Heath.
Mary Brennan West Midlands PSC Press Officer
National/Regional Palestine Solidarity Campaign
Middle East Fellowship NEWS and PERSPECTIVES
March 16th, 2005
Two years ago today, on March 16th 2003, Rachel Corrie, an American human rights activist, was crushed to death by a Caterpillar bulldozer. By peacefully blocking the path of the bulldozer, Rachel was attempting to prevent the demolition of a Palestinian home by the Israeli military. Though an American citizen was murdered by the military of a government that the U.S. has close diplomatic, economic and military ties to, no official U.S. inquiry has been launched.
RACHEL CORRIE MEMORIAL (In Santa Monica, California)
A memorial will be held for Rachel in Santa Monica on Thursday, March 17th, at 7:00 to 9:00 pm (complete event details and address are listed below). Rev. Darrel Meyers, Laila Al-Marayati and Mary Hughes will be speaking. There will also be a screening of the film “Dispatches: the
Killing Zone” (50 minutes).
Picture story

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Midland Metro

Midland Metro in Wolverhampton
The West Midlands is crying out for a sustainable transport system. The Midland Metro, begun in the early nineteen ninties, runs between Wolverhanpton and Birmingham, Snow Hill. We worked hard last year to take the route further to Five Ways at Edgbaston, to be followed by a route to the planned Eastside development as far as Vauxhall and Duddeston. This would create a link with the rail network and relieve pressure on New Street. The problem is the Tories want an underground. This was tried in the late nineties when a proposal was made for a route from Five Ways to Duddeston. The prohibitive cost drove it out of the window. However Tories and their Lib Dem partners in crime (Lib Dem voters would you have voted for them if you knew you would get a Tory led Council?) continue to press ahead to destroy our one hope of getting a good reliable system which will get people out of their cars. The existing line is increasingly popular. All the money and work put into this following the Local Transport Plan (2000, revised 2003) will have been for nothing. Will they never learn?
“Darling – Tube is holding you back”, Birmingham Post, Nov 3 2004

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Handsworth Park Restoration

Simon Baddeley very generously gives everyone credit for environmental improvements in Handsworth, yet he’s the source of knowledge and information which gives us inspiration for moving forward. He has now moved his campaign focus to “Black Patch”, an area historically associated with travellers which Sandwell wishes to “develop” because of its proximity to the Metro. He sent this letter about progress in restoring Handsworth Park which I am reproducing here with permission.
This is good news and a lovely thing to behold. I recall my despair as I walked through Handsworth Park in the 1980s and early 90s. Now after years of local campaigning and industrious creative work by council officers supported by councillors with clout and vision, over £7 million has been raised from various sources to remake Handsworth Park. It is a sweet story of local people from all backgrounds infused with helplessness and disappointment coming together to present a picture of local protest at the decline of what had been the “bonniest park” in Birmingham.
It was designed by Richard Vertegans, laid out both sides of a railway line in the 1880 and 1890s as Handsworth Victoria Park – “to be open to the people for ever” (Lord Dartmouth at the opening of the second part of the park). But from the end of the 1970s, with the withdrawal of central government funding for urban parks, Handsworth Park began a long decline which ended when local people said enough is enough after learning of plans to build “on our park”. Resistance started with the “Save Handsworth Park Campaign” in 1992 begun and chaired by Dick Pratt who first brought together many different and hitherto separate pressure groups from the area to create what is now the “Handsworth Park Association”.
To get an unprecedented before-after view of an urban park going through the largest restoration of any park in the Midlands, unprecedented in Birmingham I seriously recommend going over and having look at Handsworth Park right now. It is a pleasure to see what can done and there may be lessons to be learned for other parks around the city. There is a lot of activity not only in the park but on the adjoining Victoria Jubilee Allotments.

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“Birmingham hasn’t got a public transport system”

“Birmingham hasn’t got a public transport system” – Ken Livingstone.
Birmingham is at the hub of the nation and, as a spokesperson for Virgin Rail confirms, the whole of the rail network is affected by what goes on there. However the Strategic Rail Authority has repeatedly stated that there are no resources available. One might ask what is “strategic” about this body if it is the case that it fundamentally affects the whole network? The problem is that the West Midlands, as with everywhere that is not London, is seen as a “region”. Even then this particular region is underfunded compared to others. The MPs representing the region don’t appear to be grasping this issue, even though one, Khalid Mahmood, is now PPS to Tony McNulty in the Transport Department. However Mr Mahmood is even opposing the extension of the Metro along the Walsall Road, so what hope is there?

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Handsworth: an artistic incubator

Handsworth like Harlem in the U.S., has a tradition of inspiring artists arising from the struggle for equality and justice. While a number of people have a considerable record of achievement, it is often understated if not recognised. Birmingham has a habit of ignoring some of its greatest assets.
Vanley Burke has photographed events and recorded social history in Handsworth and Birmingham, although he has also ventured further afield. He visited South Africa after Mandela’s release and made a interesting study at a time of significant social change. Fortunately the City’s Library has created an archive which contains not only Vanley’s work, but also that of others with notable achievements such as Pogus Caesar and Pervaiz Khan

Birmingham and Fair Trade

The City of Birmingham is working towards status as a Fair Trade City. Dal Singh Dhesy of the Sikh Community and Youth Service and I attended a briefing at the Council House this morning (5/3/2005) when the Lord Mayor, Cllr Mike Nangle, unveiled a logo designed by Birmingham school children as part of a competition. There was a slight hitch when the curtain was drawn back to reveal a blank space. Nobody had put the winning drawing in place. A quick search found the design and the winners were photographed receiving prizes for both themselves and their schools.

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