Monthly Archives: December 2012

Who are suffering most in this new world without compassion?

Recent reports have shown levels of violence against individuals at a high level, sickening in their reporting. That they are reported at all, how and why remains a topic of debate.
On Friday, 4th January 2013, a meeting is to be held by the Indian Worker’s Association. A response came as follows:
MBugi Bugi Bugiandassociates: this just came from the walls of Mr Das Gupta of DELHI–our senior friend—————–Candles in the wind—————–
In a few hours, a special flight will reach New Delhi with the body of Nirbhaya, the gang rape victim, from Singapore.
If she had lived, Nirbhaya, which translates into the fearless, would have returned from that same city with a diploma in the course she was pursuing – physiotherapy.
It was the wish of her father, a poor handler at Delhi’s T3 airport, who sold his small, fertile land in Megrakalakhur village (Thana: Narahi) in Uttar Pradesh’s Ballia district and traveled to Delhi to support his daughter’s education.
A foreign educated daughter would have been the biggest pride of the family, the father had told his family members.
There would be more cash in the home. It would supplement his Rs 5000 a month salary, he had told his wife and sons.
A few days ago, as top government officials told him the government’s decision to take his daughter to Singapore for treatment, the distraught father – aware of Nirbhaya’s precarious condition – told them it was the same city she wanted to go to acquire a specialized diploma.
How could he take her there? he asked.
And seconds later, he broke into a paroxysm of sobbing.
Standing close, a former government employee who once worked in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) during the four month tenure of Chandra Shekhar told Nirbhaya’s father to gather courage and accept the government’s request.
The family – claimed the former PMO official – was surprised to see the abundance of India’s official machinery that remains woefully inadequate to protect the poor.
Two ambulances with patients were set up as decoys and the third carried Nirbhaya and her family. Their travel documents were made in a record time.
In Singapore, the family checked into the swanky Mandarin Orchard. Then, they all rushed at Singapore’s Mount Elizabeth Hospital to be with their daughter.
The doctors switched on a ventilator to perform the work for Nirbhaya’s near-defunct lungs. The doctors sedated her to prevent the pain from being felt by her damaged brain and tortured innards.
Nothing worked. At 0445 hours Singapore Time, Nirbhaya died without opening her eyes on the island nation.
Without seeing an inch of the hospital she would have worked if she had managed the diploma in Singapore.
In the Indian Capital, prime time television anchors rushed to their studios on Sunday morning and handled shows with moist eyes and heavy tones.
Radio stations and television channels also urged many to send text messages. Those who did were blissfully unaware that such messages only meant cash for the service provider and news organizations.
Candles, placards and flaming torches hit the fog-filled Capital where politicians and celebrities started their usual blame game that continued till late evening hours.
No one asked the city’s transport minister, Arvind Singh Lovely, why his department never took action against private buses with dark windows illegally plying in the city.
The bus in which the rape took place was impounded six times and let off with a minor warning. The owner had 11 such illegal vehicles. The Transport Department wanted the buses to be impounded and had ever referred the case to the top authority.
But no one budged.
Was it because the masters of all illegal buses in the city are politicians, both from the ruling and opposition parties?
No one asked, hence no one answered.
In India, the safety of the poor has never merited any attention or action.
But on Sunday, the rulers were genuinely worried about their very own safety.
The heart of the city, where the rich and famous live, was cordoned off and a special rule – Section 144 – imposed by the authorities. It resembled a fortress, with armed police and riot troops maintaining a heavy presence.
Those in power probably feared a revolution on Sunday could rattle their citadel, which sociologists have described as the Geographical Centralization of Power. After all, the zone is home to the ruling Cabinet and members of opposition politicians.
It has brains, lungs and arteries but no heart.
The candles are still burning, so is a nation with rage.

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Bethlehem is occupied

In 2004 a group of Birmingham councillors went on a privately funded fact-finding visit to Palestine and Israel. This included a visit to Bethlehem, although it was uncertain whether we would get in due to “military operations” taking place. The day before we had been in Jerusalem when a bus was blown up by a police officer from Bethlehem. As a result the army went in to blow up his house home to a dozen or so others. This video includes a visit to the ruins and interview with friends and family.
The film begins with a drive through the narrow streets of Bethlehem to the Church of the Nativity. The commentary is by George Rishmawi, then working as a guide for the Holy Land Trust. Our driver is Isa (Jesus). We go inside the church where age old murals are peppered with gunshot holes. We had met with President Yasser Arafat earlier that day in January 2004 who had invited us to stay for dinner when we learned that we may not be able to get to Bethlehem, but we decided to go anyway.
In Bethlehem we see the electrified barbed wire, since replaced by a huge concrete wall and then buildings shelled by Israeli gunships and artillery. We visit a home to see locally made artifacts, speak to the owner of the empty Bethlehem Hotel and end the day at a well-known restaurant in a Bedouin tent.

Battle of Orgreave and Police brutality

Stories of how the police become brutal and oppressive keep surfacing. Don’t believe it’s a thing of the past because it keeps happening. Try to complain then it’s covered up with rules and red tape designed to keep any whistle blower at bay.
The problem for us and the police is that the police become tarnished as a whole, although it’s also clear there are many in the force who are unhappy with what they know goes on. Now a senior officer has spoken out about what he witnessed in the miners’ strike and at the Battle of Orgreave in particular. More.
Aerhur Scargill, the miners’ leader, had been involved in an earlier iconic incident before in 1972 in Birmingham, which has become known as the “Battle of Saltley Gate”, when his actions had helped order 15,000 workers who had marched on Saltley Gate ensure the gate was closed and that no further supplies could be delivered. The outcome was the fall of an earlier Conservative government. 12 years later the Thatcher government was to ensure that there was no repeat of what happened in ’72 and the police had their orders to make sure it didn’t.
The consequences for Britain following confrontations with determined working class opposition was to throw out baby with bath water as manufacturing industries were closed down and production was transferred more and more overseas. Coal continued to be necessary but was imported, much of it inferior and dirtier than that mined here. For the government it seems no price was too high to defeat the “enemy within.” The question for me remains just who was, and is, our true enemy. More.