The US has boasted that it is providing military as well as financial
aid to the region. Does this sound a bit suspect to anyone else?
And, whats the political context of the disaster? Reports
typically ignore the crucial stories in volatile areas like Aceh
and Sri Lanka and how aid efforts will be exploited
for geo-political gain, a point surely proved by the Whitehouse
choosing Jeb Bush to lead its aid mission.
In the worst-hit province of Aceh, thousands have been killed in
a region which has already suffered countless deaths and mass displacements
thanks to the Indonesian military. Aceh is rich in resources - it
supplies much of the natural gas for Japan and South Korea while
Exxon Mobil take its oil - yet remains in poverty.
Five years ago a million Acehnese (thats a quarter of the
population!) held a massive peaceful demonstration calling for a
referendum for a chance to vote on independence from Indonesia.
The military decided to crush the movement, carrying out assassinations,
disappearing leaders and raping female activists. Jafar
Siddiq Hamsa, a leading international spokesman for the Acehnese,
returned home in 2000. He was abducted, and his body returned wrapped
in barbed wire, with multiple stab wounds and his face sliced off.
Meanwhile Exxon has spent millions over the past three decades,
hiring Indonesian security forces to protect company facilities
in Aceh in full knowledge that troops were committing gross violations
of human rights against civilians.
Allan Nairn, a journalist once jailed by the Indonesian army, spells
out the future: We should put this in perspective. Now the
world is looking at Aceh for the first time ever and will probably
never again look at Aceh with this intensity, but as dramatic as
this act of nature is, its still far less than the death toll
over just a couple of years due to hunger and poor nutrition, diarrhoea;
deaths mainly among children who live in poverty in Aceh. Its
also dwarfed by the military massacres carried out by the Indonesian
military in various places. They killed 200,000 in Timor. They killed
anywhere from 400,000 to a million in Indonesia itself when they
consolidated power in 1965 to 1967. So, the concern that the world
has now for this disaster is appropriate, but we should have that
concern all the time. When people are dying, not just from natural
tsunamis, but from military or police bullets, often paid for by
the United States, or dying from preventable hunger. There are also
thousands of American individuals who could sit down right now and
write a check for $50 million. They could save tens of thousands
of lives, but theres no social pressure on them to do that,
because we live in a world where its assumed that its
okay to let people starve while the dollar that can save them sits
idly in your pocket.
Or as author Jonathan Schell put it Why, we might ask, is
there, alongside armed forces in almost every country, no established
international rescue army no well-funded international force
fully equipped with emergency gear ready to give prompt aid in any
large-scale catastrophe? Initial funding might be $100 billion
a mere 10 percent of the trillion or so the world spends annually
on arms. Why, when human need is the greatest, should the human
response always be left to improvisation? There is no reason to
think that nature had any lesson in mind, whether about the worlds
bloated, multiplying nuclear arsenals or anything else, when it
shoved one tectonic plate beneath another, causing the earthquake
that caused the tsunami. But we are free to draw a lesson: Leave
mass destruction to nature. Our job should be to protect and preserve
* Read the interview with Allan Nairn www.democracynow.org/article.pl?sid=04/12/29/161219
* Read George Monbiots article on the tsunami aid pledge
and military spending at www.alternet.org/waroniraq/20885/
Via Campesina is calling for solidarity with those affected
by the tsunami disaster, channelling assistance to affected
fishing communities and peasants, for their own relief and
construction efforts, through grassroots organisations. They
are asking for your donations for direct emergency support
to provide basic needs. For anyone doing benefit gigs or with
larger donations, check out their website, www.viacampesina.org
Also, TAPOL, the Indonesia Human Rights Campaign works with
a number of grassroots humanitarian and human rights organisations
in Aceh and is launching an appeal so that funds can be used
by them to optimum effect where it is most needed by local
people. 020 8771 2904 www.tapol.gn.apc.org
OF THE WEEK
For being a stubborn old woman...
Lillian Willoughby, a 90 year old wheelchair-bound quaker was sentenced
to a week in prison by a New Jersey judge. She was arrested for
taking part in an anti war blockade of a courthouse and refused
to pay the $250 fine. Ive been arrested before but have
never spent time in jail Lillian said
the start of a great adventure.
Britains top scientist Sir David King reckons that the tsunami
disaster underlines the threat posed by climate change. King who
last year said climate change was a greater threat than terrorism
said What is happening in the Indian Ocean underlines the
importance of the Earths system to our ability to live safely.
One side of this is we need to prepare ourselves against these increased
impacts, the other side, of course, is changing our energy industry
in other words, to move away from fossil fuels.
Last month thousands of delegates from almost 200 governments converged
on Buenos Aires, Argentina, for the latest in the endless round
of talks aimed at implementing the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, the international
treaty that aims to reduce emissions of the gases largely responsible
for human-induced global warming.
The treaty, which has been stalled for seven years and which both
America and Australia are refusing to sign, will finally come into
effect on February 16.
The treatys main significance lies in the fact that it recognizes
that legally binding international action to tackle global warming
is required, by reducing the release of greenhouse gases
into the atmosphere. But these targets are so low as to be meaningless.
Under the treaty, the industrialised countries which are the major
emitters of CO2, are required to cut their greenhouse gas emissions
on average to just 5.2% below their 1990 levels. They have until
2012 to achieve this. Meanwhile the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate
Change reckon we need to cut emissions by 60-80%.
Worse, the treaty contains corporate-friendly, market-based mechanisms
that give plenty of scope for rich governments to engage in climate
change creative accounting. According to the New Scientist magazine,
the treatys range of loopholes and scams will mean that even
if the industrialised countries achieve Kyotos 5.2% reduction
on paper, the real-world reduction will be more likely to be 1.5%.
In fact since 1990 annual greenhouse gas emissions from the highly
industrialised countries have increased by more than 7%.
Despite all this, America still nearly managed to derail the talks
in Argentina by having yet another oil-obsessed hissy fit. The US
insisted that a proposal to compensate the worlds poorest
nations, who are being damaged now by climate change, be dropped.
It even supported Saudi Arabias demand that oil-producing
countries should be compensated for any decline in sales caused
by carbon cuts! In the end, thirty-six hours after talks should
have ended, the barest ghost of an agreement was made with the US
permitting an informal meeting in May, during which any negotiation
leading to new commitments is forbidden. According to the
head of the US delegation, the time to decide what happens after
2012 is in 2012 which as journalist George Monbiot pointed
out is like saying that the time to decide what to do about
homeland security is when the plane is flying into the tower.
If the world doesnt get its collective finger out, we could
be seeing a hell of a lot more tsunami-like disasters, but this
time theyll be man made.
* London Rising Tide are showing The Day after Tomorrow
and Cheeky Apocalypse this Sunday (9th) 5.30pm, followed
by discussion and food. LARC, 62 Fieldgate St, E1 1ES; (corner of
Parfett St.) 020 7377 9088 www.londonrisingtide.org.uk
Spanish eco-activist Inaki Garcia Koch has been released from prison,
his sentence served. Inaki served just under five years for his
alleged role in the sabotaging of the controversial Itoiz Dam construction
site. (We say alleged because Inaki and his co-defendants were found
guilty at a trial they did not attend and therefore were unable
to defend themselves). His co-defendant, Ibai Ederra, is still inside
and is still in need of support. Please send letters of support
to: Ibai Ederra, Carcel de Pamplona, C/San Roque. Apdo. 250 31080
- Irunez - Pamplona Navarra, (Espana) Spain.
Another high-profile eco-prisoner, Craig Critter Marshall
has been released. He was found guilty of involvement in placing
homemade bombs under SUVs at a Portland car dealership and at Tyree
Oil in 2000, which got the media buzzing as the frenzy over the
Earth Liberation Front was at its peak.
SchNEWS in brief
- Fundraising jumble sale for Brighton Dissent! this Saturday
(8th) 9am-1pm at the Cowley Club, 12 London Road
- Help the Teaching & General Assistants campaign against
Brighton Council - their Support Group has its 1st meeting
Wed 12 Jan 8pm St Georges Community Centre, Kemptown Brighton
- The Seeds for Change Collective are organizing G8 direct
action trainers workshops around the country, starting in Sheffield
on Jan 21-23. www.seedsforchange.org.uk
- Want to know how to organise actions without getting Totally
Busted? Then get along to a weekend in the Pennines on 14-16
January. Workshops include why we need to think about security,
making communication more secure, mobile phones, how to deal with
police and not lose your temper, blending in etc Booking essential
0113 262 9365
- If you want to find out about radical, non political party,
anti-hierarchical groups in Leeds get along to a Rebel
Alliance on the 14th at the Maelstrom squatted social
centre, Hyde Park corner 6pm email@example.com
- International Day of Action this Sat. in support of seven
people still facing charges during the protests at the EU Summit
in Thessaloniki, Greece in June 2003 (see SchNEWS
413). London demo meet at the Greek Embassy at 1pm
- If yer in Glasgow on 15/16 Jan check out the Wimmin vs
G8 launch event www.g8feministaction.frockon.org
A Plymouth judge will be giving his verdict on the legal rights
of the badger following a case against 3 animal activists last month.
Charged with damaging DEFRA badger traps near Lerryn, Cornwall,
the three are pleading not guilty on the grounds that badgers are
a protected species under the 1992 Badger Act. This Act forbids
the killing, harming or interfering of badgers and their setts,
but this hasnt stopped DEFRA, the rural affairs ministry,
doing just that for the last seven years, in a flawed attempt to
eradicate TB in cattle.
The Judge is looking into the complexities of the case and will
deliver his verdict on the 13th.Theres a demo that day outside
Plymouth Magistrates Court. The cull is due to start again in May.
Berlin will soon have solar powered talking rubbish bins. They
will each generate their own electricity and will be programmed
to thank people for putting rubbish in them during the day and glow
green at night. It is hoped that they will discourage people from
The prototype bins are designed to be fun - each one
can be programmed to say different things, even in other languages,
said a spokesman from the citys cleaning service.
Their Armless Mlud...
Activists who occupied the roof of EDOs Brighton arms factory
are on trial next Tuesday 11th at Brighton Magistrates Court accused
of Aggravated Trespass. In the evening theres a public meeting
at the Bridge Social Centre next to Falmer School, Moulescoomb,
6:30pm Films and speakers including journalist Ewa Jasiewicz. http://smashedo.bpec.org
Lynch the Landlord!
Imagine being arrested for a murder you didnt commit. Now
imagine being convicted of that murder and serving 11 years and
43 days before someone finally agrees with you that you are innocent,
that you were stitched up by the collusion of lying policemen and
false confessions extracted under duress. You are awarded compensation
for the lost decade of your life. Now imagine being told you have
to pay rent for the time you spent in jail because you saved lots
of money by being locked up. This is the story of Mike OBrien.
Mike was one of the so-called Cardiff Newsagent Three convicted
of the murder of Philip Saunders. He was to be awarded £650,000
after all three convictions were finally overturned in 1999 after
the Criminal Cases Review Commission confirmed what Mike had been
saying for years - that he had been set up with falsified evidence.
They found that the confession of Darren Hall, which was a key part
of the case against the three, was extracted under pressure - Hall
was handcuffed to hot radiators and a tea urn, repeatedly threatened
and questioned for hours. He was also emotionally unstable and vulnerable
to the manipulation the police employed.
Detective Stuart Lewis, who claimed to have overheard two of the
prisoners admit to the murder in a conversation in their cell is
now under investigation over evidence he gave in this case and another.
Now the Home Office are beginning a two day court challenge to
get £37,000 deducted as payment for his keep in jail. Last
April Mr Justice Maurice Kay ruled that a Home Office decision to
deduct saved living expenses from compensation payments
had been mistakenly applied. Lawyers are now battling to overturn
that decision at the appeal court.
Mike said: They dont charge guilty people for bed and
board, they only charge innocent people.
The Home Office won the right to charge the innocent rent for their
false imprisonment on July 29th 2004 when they won an important
case at the appeal court.
So now it seems the government will charge prisoners bed
and board if their appeals succeed. Thats the spirit.
Thatll teach them to be innocent while looking guilty and
to sponge off the state.
The Thought Police are alive and well in the USA! It seems even
an 11 year old cant criticise the military these days without
the cops coming round to interrogate the parents about anti-American
values. The Allbaughs of Virginia were questioned about their
views on Sept 11th, the military and whether they knew any foreigners
who criticized US policy after their son refused to take part
in a Veterans Day exercise at school. And he supposedly said I
wish all Americans were dead and that American soldiers should die.,
but kidsll say anything to get out of school!
SchNEWS warns all readers not to expect a witty or topical disclaimer;
the bloke who writes em is off sick...Honest!
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