Category Archives: Justice

Black Lives Matter. Implementing Rampton and Swann

In 2020 Black Lives Matter became a universal cry after another death of a Black person, George Floyd, caused uproar re-opening the Civil Rights’ Movement action 4 decades earlier. At the same time the pandemic, Covid 19, also laid bare gross inequalities, not least Black people, many of whom were prominent on the front line in health and other essential services, key workers in fighting the pandemic and saving the lives of others.

In the UK Belly Mujinga died from the Covid virus after someone spat in her face. She was on duty as a railway worker based at Victoria Station in London in a public space, but without protection from infection in a busy public place. She was vulnerable having an underlying health condition. Covid 19, in addition to the Black Lives Matter movement, laid bare inequalities apparently on the basis of “race” and ethnicity. Research is revealing socio-economic equality is the more likely reason for the huge disparity in deaths among Black communities.

Black Members of Parliament are calling for de-colonising education. The last official government reports on education and Black achievement date back to 1979 and 1985. For one reason or another they were kicked into the long grass. Many individual schools welcomed their recommendations resulting in changes being piecemeal and those in opposition able to ignore or even challenge the reports’ conclusions. Dawn Butler, now a well established MP, has led calls for action. She is not alone. A number of other more recently elected Black members are also making the plea. While there is opposition and denial from the Government benches, the Labour Party too has been dragging its feet in opposing racism, with the exception of its vigorous championing of anti-semitism. There can be no league table of groups facing discrimination. Equality demands fairness across the board and legislation if necessary to ensure that colonialism thinking and practice is comprehensively removed from institutions. While people are free to have their beliefs it is unacceptable for any government to allow discrimination arising from the UK’s colonial history to continue resulting in disproportionate numbers of deaths of Black people to occur. One example above show individuals in the criminal justice system to use extreme violence in the course of duty, the other the failure of an employer with a serious underlying health problem to give protection to their employee. Deaths of Black people in custody and on the front line in the health and other essential services have been common in the UK in recent years. Of those responsible few, if any, have been brought to justice.

The Stuart Hall Foundation has published reports of recent figures showing differences between groups in achievement in education in 2016/7. However the latest official Government reports arising from concern of children’s performance were the Rampton Report, 1979, and Swann Report, 1985. They give the recommendations of each report.

Carlton Duncan, who provided the introduction to this report, was a member on both Rampton and Swann committees. He has shone revelatory light onto reasons why implementation has not occurred between then and now. He is asking the question that now Black Lives Matter and Covid 19 have made it crystal clear that discrimination continues in a way many considered to be in the past this is not born out by the day to day experience of those who experience racism and discrimination. It is the same question as Black MPs now in parliament are asking about their experiences both in Parliament and in their constituencies. This includes having their staff to weed out abusive correspondence before its gets to them. The current Minister for Equalities and Women, Liz Truss, has stated that in her opinion institutional racism is “evidence free”!

IPCC’s refusal to investigate Orgreave once again questions its independence

What happened at Orgreave is felt to prefigure Hillsborough. That enquiry has thrown up many deeply uncomfortable facts, some in common with Orgreave. The depth of violence, the testimony of police officers require investigation and accountability. The IPCC’s decision not to investigate Orgreave calls its independence into question once again. The time lapse between now and then is no excuse.

It is the deeply political nature of Orgreave which sets it apart from Hillsborough. The Thatcher-led government was determined that what happened following the Battle of Saltley Gate in Birmingham in 1972 should not be repeated. To Thatcher this reached epic proportions with references to “the enemy within” comparing trades unionists as comparable with Argentina’s attempts to claim the Falkland Islands as theirs.

For a change the Labour Party, or some of its leadership, has exercised an independence by supporting an enquiry. While the Home Secretary has said that she would take requests into consideration it is hardly likely that the Conservative Government would want these events put under a microscope and invite extended media coverage, although they could rely on a right wing supine press to give them the kind of support they have enjoyed for foisting austerity on the people and recreating the deeply divided nation Thatcher presided over. The lesson of Saltley Gate showed that power need not necessarily be one-sided but the miners’ strike more than a decade later did not learn from this>. A divided Trades Union movement and Labour Party failed to give the support that had been witnessed in Birmingham in 1972.

Behind the Secrecy. Yarl’s Wood.

If there’s official secrecy, smell a rat. The usual answer is “security”, but in reality you’ll find a story of human misery, abuse, torture, rape. Yarl’s Wood is a name added to the long list of locations under the control of the very Western Governments bemoaning untold horrors committed by human beings on others. Sadism is supposed to be an act of barbarism which “civilised”, “democratic” states abhor.

Where did all this start? In recent history Chicago is seen as a contender, but a look at what was trended following experiments in human endurance to sensory deprivation. Go back a few decades and practices in Northern Ireland‘s detention centres look familiar.

Other familiar names include Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib where these techniques were practiced and refined. They continued even as they were getting press coverage, although the detail and horrors have only emerged when those who endured them have spoken about their sufferings.

The proliferation of these torture sites is not accidental, a product of rogue personnel. It is a result of deliberate acts around what Naomi Klein writes about in “Shock Doctrine”. I is practiced not only against what are regarded as problematic states, but is used against people internally. The withdrawal of benefits to many needy people is such an example.

That such doctrines are counter productive is amply demonstrated by groups who are now practicing their own forms of “shock doctrine”. Everyone has been sickened by the ever more outrageous practices of groups acting in the name of Islam. Their ideas are not new or confined to them: rather they have learned from a world that has practiced colonialism with no holds barred on the treatment of those colonised. Our leaders continually say they espouse humanity and justice. It might just work if they set an example using those humanitarian values rather than what they themselves describe as the law of the jungle.

No show by Vanunu after an invitation from 68 British MPs

We learned from Jeremy Corbyn that 68 Members of the 2 Houses of Parliament had signed the letter of invitation to Vanunu. This was a notable increase, although Khalid Mahmood who had assured me he supported, had not signed, nor Gisela Stuart, who said she would consider it. Jeremy said he would make sure they did next time. I did not identify any MPs there other than Jeremy, who himself had to leave for a while, apart from a brief appearance by Baroness Jenny Tonge. Hopefully that would not be the case if VM was there himself!

After an introduction by Jeremy, Avigdore Feldman spoke of the 30 years he had represented VM after being brought by force to Israel. He said that the Israelis did not want to kidnap him in England. It was in his view the most horrific human rights abuse to a single person with the intent of punishing him until the end of his life. He mentioned the effect of the 11+ years of detention in solitary confinement on VM’s mental health and the main restrictions he continues to face including not being allowed to speak with anyone who is not an Israeli citizen. Very difficult where he lives in East Jerusalem. He has now approached the court 10 times but they still claim he has some terrible secret. He denies he has any as he knew the situation 30 years ago.

A book on Israeli armaments 1948-2011 doesn’t mention Vanunu in its 500 pages. He is a “non-being” and nuclear weapons are not an issue in Israel. How many have been developed since? why does Israel go on lying that they don’t have nuclear weapons while Vanunu is charged with revealing them? The Government is continuing to lie to the people living with an air of unreality, yet since the beginning o f the development of nuclear weapons in Israel in 1965 some 2-3,000 people worked on it but maintain a “stupid solidarity”. He is pessimistic about VM’s future. He remains in solitary isolation. He was a whistleblower before there was any support for such people and he acted on his own initiative.

This was followed by a clip from the BBC film made by Christopher Mitchell where VM speak of his sacrifice of freedom and life for this case. This was in response to the Chernobyl disaster. The Sunday Times seriously debated publishing its article in 1986 by VM is glad that it did and feels that his mission was accomplished. When he was released from prison in April 2004 he spoke to the press in English, breaching the conditions imposed on him. He maintained the price was worth it.

Peter Hounam, a journalist based in Scotland, had spoken the evening before at the Front Line Club. He felt that it would have been difficult to protect VM even if he hadn’t been taken to Rome. He did the right thing because highly destructive fusion weapons were being developed. The press hardly ever cover it. Israel worked with South Africa on highly sophisticated delivery systems. Each had the same type of weapon. South Africa launched its weapons from a base in the Cape into the South Atlantic. There was close collaboration with South Africa providing fissile materials and Israel technical expertise. (Israel launched medium range missiles onto the Med.) Israel now has 6 submarines which can fire Cruise Missiles, 5 of which given free by the German Government as part of reparations for WW2. They were not supposed to be used for nuclear purposes but equipped so they could. More. They can reach any part of the world. If, as is being claimed, these Israeli weapons are being deployed as part of NATO then this implies massive collusion with Israel’s cover up of their very existence. If we are still wondering why governments and media remain silent while VM goes to jail for warning of danger to humanity we know that all are implicated. We need to think more realistically why countries are not are not speaking out or helping VM.

The Sunday Times should be asked what it is doing to help VM. There was a small piece last Sunday and there will probably be something this weekend. The British Government has been silent on Vanunu’s abduction and has an obligation to see him returned to Britain.

Nancy Walters from Amnesty International said they had been taking the matter seriously for decades and referred to the late Alex York. She asked us to go to the website where there is a petition to get the ban on travel for VM lifted. There is a need to push the UK Government to tell Israel of their Human Rights commitments and violation of Civil Treaties.

In discussion I pointed out that there were two Face Book Causes: Free Mordechai Vanunu with over 5000 supporters and Tell Nuclear Truths (TNT) with over 20,000. Surely these should be taken into account in any campaign. I said that I had come along on behalf of Eileen Fleming who has been leading campaigns and written extensively in books and articles, some recently published in the Arab Daily News.

Concern was expressed over Germany’s actions and it was urged that questions should be asked. Was this recent? Evidently it was about 5 months ago. There had been a political row in Germany which resulted in a fatality.

Jeremy Corbyn referred to future opportunities to raise issues in the wider context of meetings on restricting nuclear weapons. UN 2015 – last month there had been a failure of NPT to convene a weapon free conference. All have said that they are in favour of it. 142 states are supporting a conference in Vienna in December on the Humantarian effects of nuclear arms.

One speaker felt the International Trades Union movement should give support and that VM’s fate was tied up with that of Palestinians. Avigdor Feldman said that he had not previously been in favour of associating the two issues but as things are now so bad he had altered his mind.

As for VM himself. He had made a decision not to speak to Israeli journalists. It was felt that here were some among them who do support him. It is understood that he is stubborn, but that is what has carried him through this ordeal.

Avigdor Feldman was asked to take our love and support to VM and we were asked to send him e-mails, requesting that he doesn’t reply in contravention of the conditions inposed on him.

Gaza Diary. From Mohammad Arafat

Mohammad wrote: “My weekly article A Picture of Life in Living in Gaza has many different pictures and scenes. It has tragic sad pictures and happy ones. No one can doubt that many Shakespearean tragedies happen in Gaza. Torturing is still torturing, killing is still killing, besieging is still besieging and bombing is still bombing, but that cannot prevent us from speaking about the beauty of Gaza. Away from talking about political speech and the traps of it and the bad things that it results, I want to mention and to speak about the beautiful side of the young Gaza, so I made a debate with my heart leaving my mind a side. We began to look at and to flip all the pictures of this city, the sad and the happy, and the good and the bad until we found a beautiful picture that portrays the beautiful simple life and the atmosphere of this Holy city. We finally agreed to write about that picture to show the fabulous sweet side of Gaza. We chose that picture which can let readers fly and swim in the core of imagination that they will never get bored of. Gaza is a city located 19 miles north of Egypt. It’s considered as the only way that links Asia with Africa. Many ancient traders talk about the profits of this city and the importance of its place. It has a long golden shore with a beautiful glittering sea called the Mediterranean Sea. This sea has an old seaport called (Mina’ Ghaza). Many tourists and visitors come to this city to enjoy its fabulous beautiful places like the Al-Emary Al-kabeer Mosque in Sheja’eia lane, barqouq castle in Khanyounis, Al-Basha castle museum in the middle of Gaza and especially the seaport in the west of Gaza. The simple life of Gazan people is accepted although there are many wars and clashes can interrupt their life and their children’s. They live as others as nothing threat them because they know their fate so they have no fear. When Gazans wake up every day at dawn after hearing the caller of the Al-Fajr prayer and having ablution, they go to the mosque asking God to pour from his mercy on them and their families and to give them the appropriate livelihood they wish. The atmosphere at dawn freshens prayers’ spirits and minds. The fresh breeze expels the sad atmosphere in Gaza lanes and replaces it with a happy one. Purity of prayers lightens the dark street that the power abandoned. In the morning and after an hour from dawn, the white pure Gazan moon disappears saying good bye to the orange young sun after shaking his hands and hugging him. The sun lightens the dark silent innocent homes and shelters of poors asking them to begin their lively day. It appears and welcomes the energetic proud workers that go to their work and the hopeful little pupils that go to their schools to begin a lovely day of working and studying. The sun lightens the nests of the cute tiny birds pulling them to fly out their nests and to begin a concert full of twitting and chirping and to start a trip full of happiness and vital work. Children of those birds wake up after a long journey of sleeping and dreaming of the breakfast ,that they will have, under their mothers’ smooth light bodies. The mothers fly under the fading sun of the morning after awaking their children looking for some worms and grains for the breakfast on the brown fertilized lands and among the old long trees of olive, orange, and lemon. They look for their targeted food among the Gazan farmers who wipe the sweat from their heads by their tired hands and among the rusty axes that the farmers use for plowing the lands. After filling their stomachs with live worms and fresh seeds, the mothers go back to their nests safely hopefully that the food is enough for their entire families. In the afternoon and when the trees have no shades, the fading sun turns into firing ball that warms the pure glancing Mediterranean Sea water forcing the swarms of fish to wake up and to travel happily towards the golden wet beach of Gaza for the fishers to fish. The fishers begin their fishing by the name of God so he offers them the flaring fish that they and their families dream of. Before the sun gets exhausted and tired and before he prepares his luggage to travel, he watches the workers who go back to their homes finding their children waiting for their hugs and kisses. He then waves his hands to them saying ,see you tomorrow. In the twilight, the sky turns into red and the sun becomes so tired so he disappears asking the moon to appear dancing under the sparkles of the stars and lighting the dark homes and lanes in the clear night in order to let the innocent Gazans sleep and dream as they want and as they wish. This is a simple life of Gaza Done by: Mohammad Arafat 8th of may 2014”

What kind of society is this? What kind do we want as jailed woman left to clear up after miscarriage?

Pauline Campbell campaigned against the imprisonment of women and would turn up outside prisons to tell the van drivers to take the women to a place of safety. I don’t know whether even she encountered anything approaching what is alleged to have happened at HMP Peterborough, a privatised prison, after a pregnant woman was arrested in November. She had stolen food to the value of around £13.00 in desperation the court was told. When she miscarried the child she was carrying she was required to clear up while the foetus remained in the cell. It is said she had mental health problems. The company commissioned to run the prison is Sodexo, not one of the well known corporations that have their fingers in every pie possible. They say they run “ethical” services in a number of countries. They are involved in handful across the UK. They declioned to comment on this case.

There’s “No Health Without Mental Health” proclaimed this government trumpeting that they would be the first to ensure parity of treatment with physical illness. When we see the incidence of mental health issues in our jails alarm bells should be ringing in the highest places, with men 14 times more likely to have problems. With women it is THIRTY FIVE times. What are people like 37 year old Nadine Wright doing there in the first place?

Policing & Mental Health, Coercion or Care? ACCI & BMH UK National Conference 2013

I am getting to report on an important conference I didn’t even attend. I made an early application but from then until now I heard nothing more, although I met with the organiser. I had been hoping to talk to her since I am managing a project on improving bme access to appropriate mental health services. I was therefore delighted when I received a telephone call from the very person. I arranged to meet her and went specially to Wolverhampton to do so.
I felt that I needed to mention some of things going on in Wolverhampton closely associated with the subject matter of the conference which was to be attended by a Minister and Shadow Minister, the Chair of the IPCC etc. I had applied for a place not only for myself but for Jenny Cooper who was permanently disabled by two police officers while arresting her in 2010. I told the organiser about Jenny, and about the man who was tasered while trying to stop a police officer manhandling his daughter who was in an advanced state of pregnancy. These and others we know about who have been harassed and harmed by police officers in Wolverhampton all happen to be black. Since tickets were priced at above £300 was it likely many could attend. Some were made available free of charge and apparently all were taken.
So who was the conference for and did it bring about an awareness of what was happening not least on the doorsteps of Molineux where the conference took place? Certainly Tippa Napthali was there from the Mikey Powell Campaign, a group which has supported many other families who have suffered deaths of their family members while in custody – places where they expected them to have been out of harm’s way.

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Today’s April 1st. IDS says he could live on £53 per week.

As Polly Toynbee points out today is a defining moment for the Tories and their sycophantic partners who allowed this day to happen. A class war is declared as benefits are cut, the health service is changed beyond recognition and justice is dependent on the ability to pay. This is not to mention what is happening to education as schools are destroyed, handed over to mercenary chains of companies that have shown their ineptitude at running prisons, the Olympic Games or whatever they have been able to hoover up to feed their insatiable greed. Minister Ian Duncan Smith says he could manage on £53 a week. On which planet? We should send him there.
It has been the avowed aim of the Tories to roll back the state. The idea of “cradle to grave” support originated in World War 2 when the Beveridge Report was written, the Labour government implementing ideas it contained, including a National Health Service.
A group of MPs from the 2010 intake saw it as a mission to decrease state intervention, allowing individuals the freedom to thrive (or not). Today it is the catch word “austerity” used to buy acquiescence from a huge swathe of voters, but given the stated intention to do this anyway makes it look the contrived vehicle it is.

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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.

Women in our prisons – a euphemism for human dustbins

I note that the last time I posted in memory of Pauline Campbell was in 2010, so has everything improved for vulnerable women who end up in our appalling institutions? Pauline died in 2008 still grieving for the daughter she lost in Styal Prison. Before that she would mount a campaign outside the prisons where another woman had died while in the “safe keeping” of HMP. In an article in the Observer a former governor of Styal Prison comments.
Why are so many women is prison? Pauline continually made that point as she stood outside prison gates. She would stop the privatised prison van from entering and ended up being assaulted by burly police and security officers.
Prisons? A euphemism for human dustbins and a convenience for the inhuman uncaring society we have become for avoiding dealing with need. Mental health, poverty, victims of abuse. The throw away society does not exclude the people that we expect it to protect.

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