Monthly Archives: August 2005

A Break on the Jurassic Coast

In September I took the opportunity of visiting the Dorset Coast, also known as the “Jurassic Coast” because of the abundance of fossils to be found in the rocks. A few years ago a friend of mine spent a holiday in Portland a carved a figure emerging from a huge piece of Portland stone. Evident in the rock were the shapes of little creatures which lived hundreds of millions of years ago. We managed to get the results of the week’s intensive work back to Birmingham. Driving out from Weymouth west wards a spectacular view of Chesil Beach emerges. The lagoon behind the bank contains fresh water and so provides a rich environment for a variety of wild life. Swans are one species which are attracted, which is unusual. They are territorial creatures which do not take kindly to others invading their space. Here the conditions seem to override that tendency as is apparent by the huge number of them living in the ancient sanctuary at Abbotsbury.

The West Eastern Divan Orchestra in Ramallah

The orchestra dreamed up by Palestinian academic and author, the late Edward Said and continued by their music director Daniel Barenboim reached a high point in its concert in Ramallah. The concert was packed out. For it to happen
at all much behind the scenes negotiating at government level was necessary. The orchestra is based in Seville and documents were needed to get beyond the checkpoints into Ramallah. Then playing surrounded by heavily armed soldiers is not an every day occurence even for those of Middle Eastern origin. More.
What sort of impression is this imaginative project making? Clearly there are mixed feelings. When awarded a prize for music in Israel Barenboim used the occasion, in the Knesset, to speak out about the petty humiliations that Israel constantly deals out to Palestinians. Certainly Barenboim has succeeded in upsetting some Jewish opinion, but some of the musicians made their own comments after the Ramallah concert.

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Demand Justice. The Execution of Jean Charles de Menezes

Now we know that what we were told about Jean Charles De Menezes was untrue: he didn’t leap over a barrier at Stockwell underground station. He even picked up a newspaper and walked calmly down the escalators not knowing he was being followed. He wasn’t wearing a padded jacket, just an ordinary denim top. He wasn’t warned before 10 shots were fired, 7 into his head. The “shoot to kill” policy has not been debated in Parliament. Has the Home Secretary used his “personal power” on this occasion as he did to deport people he considers undesirable, but who have not faced trial.
The other fiction put about was that the CCTV cameras weren’t working at the station. They were, and they showed Jean Charles.
We need to demand justice. Please sign this petition and let others know about it. Campaigns can be effective. For example the Washington Post has been persuaded to drop its sponsorship for a pro-government, pro-war march.

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Bosnia remembered

Today (11/08/2005) are stories of Milan Lukic, one time warlord in the town of Visegrad on the river Drina in Bosnia. I am familiar with another Visegrad on the Czech-Hungarian border overlooking the Danube before it bends toward Budapest. It’s not that far away and it too is extremly beautiful.
What happened in Bosnian Visegrad in 1992 is far from beautiful. Visegrad has one of the ancient bridges familiar on post cards from those who holidayed in the former Yugoslavia. This was the scene of a massacre of Muslim men, women children, thrown from the bridge shot or alive. There was a complaint from lower down the river that bodies were clogging up the dam.
Elsewhere in the town women and girls were raped, and imprisoned in houses which were then torched. While the name Srebrenica is now well-known, Visegrad and other towns in the region are also scenes of the “ethnic cleansing” atrocities.
The name most associated with this, third only to Karadzic and Mladic, still on the run, was Milan Lukic. He was traced and arrested in Argentina this week.

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