Category Archives: Asia

We will never …….

Gordon Brown’s latest words, those uttered so often by political leaders in the face impending disaster. “we will never…” – in this case “appease the Taliban”. In this case the alternative is “we will appease the (self-apparently fraudulent) government of Mohammed Karzai”. And David Milliband is off to do just that as he is installed for a further term.
Who is the “Taliban” is a moot point since those inside Afghanistan see it as a very inexact term which can cover diverse groups and interests, including those who don’t care much for Karzai’s way of operating. Difficult to criticise them isn’t it?
I had thought that the British Government had already noted a difference between “good” and “bad’ Taliban with the intention to “reintegrate”, but if these are groups willing to compromise with a government admittedly corrupt perhaps they are the wrong ones to work with!

A frog on my shoulder

I made this for a bit of fun with my granddaughters Lael and Niamh in mind. However while the princes in particular don’t see anything funny about it I didn’t notice any comments on the commercial aspects where huge swathes of rain forest are felled for profit. In the Congo local leaders were tricked into allowing vast areas to be used by furniture manufacturers, so take care when purchasing to make sure that any timber used is from sustainable sources.

Private firms conduct US foreign policy

According to the Washington Post the CIA commissioned Blackwater, the firm now being questioned over killings in Iraq, to assassinate Al Quaeda suspects. It is now known that Blackwater’s founder and boss, Erik Prince, had a mission. As a born again Christian he saw his purpose to eliminate Muslims. Iraqi people became fair game for his armed personnel sent there.
Now a story about the removal of the President Zelaya from power in Honduras is being relayed (source Information Clearing House-see below). It tells of two large US corporations along with CIA support. Sounds familiar

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The Burma Play in Birmingham

I was kindly sent a ticket for a performance of the Burma Play at the Library Theatre in Birmingham last night (14/8/2009). It played to a packed house and was followed by an informed discussion which involved a number of people with first hand knowledge of the situation.
The subtitle is “A Comedy of Terror” referring to the comedians the “Moustache Brothers” jailed for presuming to poke fund at the regime. By strange coincidence I had been to a performance of The Comedy of Errors by the Shakespeare Globe Theatre touring company at the Three Choirs Festival in Hereford earlier this week. Both productions were accompanied by on-stage musicians with clarinets and an array of percussion to give an eastern flavour and provide sound-effects for slap-stick comedy.
The two performers involved this evening knew Burma and the Burmese well and they also took part in the following discussion. The play alluded to events and these were presented with conviction and passion. Naturally Aung San Suu Kyi’s role was an integral part, but there had been no attempt to revise the play in the light of the most recent events. Her assertion “I am not afraid” was one repeated themes was the imagery of a white bridge over the lake where so many Burmese people were massacred by Burmese troops. The bridge had to be speedily hosed down to restore it from blood red to its pristine state. Many, including young women, were drowned in the lake.

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Afghanistan – a greater hell even than Iraq

The Independent publishes an account of the realities on the front line in Afghanistan, The serving officer, who does not reveal his name, spent time in Iraq and says that even that didn’t prepare him for this.
The casualties, deaths and serious injuries with multiple amputations, seem to be treated casually: “medium”, “tolerable”. Somehow the politicians, the decision makers who have committed so many lives here, have to “sell” their justification. In reality though there isn’t any.

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Tribute to Baba Bhagat Singh Bilga in Birmingham 30/5/2009

Baba Bilga memorial
Baba Bilga has died while on a visit to Birmingham at the age of 102, I was invited to speak in tribute as an executive member of the Socialist Labour Party. Like his namesake and contemporary Shaheed (Martyr) Bhagat Singh I found his life as a socialist was exemplary and this was a unique opportunity to learn about his extraordinary life which took him around the world in a struggle against imperialism, in particular his association with the Ghadar (Revolution) Party of which he was the last remaing survivor. In his recent words he was critical of the Indian government’s programme. This was his recent comment:
“Governments came and went but the issues of the development of society still lie unaddressed. The picture of India is not the same as conceived by the freedom fighters… Mulk di halat bigad gayi hai. Mehangayi te bekari ne aam admi di kamar tod ditti hai…Government policies are also biased. They are drafted for the elite and the middle class and the poor people are bearing the brunt.”
Such words could as easily be addressed to leaders of the Tory. Liberal-Democrat and Labour parties in Britain who all believe in bailing out the wealthy elite leaving a huge burden for the poorest.
I am grateful to Bharat Bhushan of the Shaheed Udham Singh Community Centre for the following biography of Baba Bilga.

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U.S. drones attacking Pakistan affect social cohesion in U.K.

Sadiq Khan, a British M.P. has been visiting Pakistan and found deep anger among young people he met at the U.S. use of unmanned drones across the Afghan border into Pakistan. The military solution beloved of Bush and Cheney, and supported by Prime Minister Blair has always seemed to be the “recruiting sergeant” for organisations setting out on terror campaigns but vehemently denied by Blair in a recent interview. Well Blair may go on denying it but where’s the excused to continue that blindness.
Promises of change by Obama have been dampened in Afghanistan with a seamless continuation of Washington’s colonial-style policies. One of Brown’s ministers with responsibility for social cohesion has pointed out the problem in an unmistakeably clear way. Will he or anyone else take heed? Perhaps it’s already too late.

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Execution agreed. Not through the courts though

The execution of suspected terrorists by remotely controlled aircraft inside Pakistan has met with anger and condemnation in many quarters. A question has been asked in parliament whether British intelligence played a part, or even knew about, a plot to assassinate some wanted “terrorists” holed up in Pakistan’s NW territory. The answers have been far from clear, but according to an article in The Independent (24/11/2008) it was a deliberate act. One of the victims is said to be a British subject born in Birmingham and associated with the plot to blow up transatlantic airliners with liquid bombs.

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The NATO Nightmare

NATO is embroiled in Afghanistan fighting a war that, according to some closest to the combat, it can’t win. Is NATO a force for good or evil? It seems as if it civilians who are taking the brunt of the conflict, yet unlike Iraq there is no talk of pulling out, only of sending more lambs to the slaughter.
NATO came into being following the World War II in the context of a divided world and a “cold” war. Since that has ended why NATO? It appears to have become a political tool, but while it is portrayed as a “peace keeping” organisation this is in reality highly questionable. While some are demanding an increase in troops in Afghanistan others are saying that this conflict is going nowhere while death and destruction are the main outcome. For what?
It is now above all a tool for spreading US domination putting into action the highly discredited foreign policy that Bush managed to sell to some European leaders. So conflict in places like Georgia or Serbia is more rather than less likely.

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Somewhere there was a glimmer of hope in the economy. Where and why was this?

Yesterday as everyone was rushing round like headless chickens, and despite Peter Mandelson’s reappearance dithering was the name of the game in the UK and Europe. Somewhere someone made a decision which had a dramatic effect on some Asian stock markets. It seems that it was because Australia decided to act decisively and cut the bank rate to encourage the return of confidence. This gave rise to the hope that others might follow.
It seems according to one commentator that the Australia government has also taken some control over all its banks which has also helped to steady nerves.

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