There are some crimes that are longer-term than others… As I am finding from spending part of the morning exploring archival images, such as this one. A ‘British propaganda poster from the Second World War, printed in England by A.C. Ltd, listing Britain’s 49 colonies. A soldier from the Ceylon Garrison Artillery takes pride of place in the centre, and the regimental badge of the force is displayed at the foot of the poster’. I am taken by surprise that neither India nor Australia could as a colony in this list, but nevertheless, I think the list is a start for reparation payments. How these can be implemented now that Boris has shifted all the assets to offshore accounts is obviously an administrative issue (armed force to descend upon Bermuda banks and the like with the queen’s bank account number to start).
Your article, What did you do in the war? Revisiting the WW2 memoirs of Stoker Thomas Mouat Tate, published in History and Anthropology, Volume 30 Issue 5, is now available for you to access via tandfonline.com.
Have you used your free eprints yet?
Now you’re published, you’ll hopefully want to share your article with friends or colleagues. Every author at Routledge (including all co-authors) gets 50 free online copies of their article to share with their networks. Your eprint link is now ready to use and is:
Just out in History and Anthropology. Not my usual kind of thing, but experiments that might lead to a new thing…
fifty 35 people to email me can get a gift pdf.
“‘There is no document of civilization that is not simultaneously a document of barbarism‘” (Walter Benjamin Illuminations)
William Burroughs’ annotated Boys Scout’s manual has been reissued, and I am waiting for it to arrive so I can have another go a trying to reconcile the whole boy scout thing. Militarism in the blood by dint of generations of just doing what kids do when their fathers did it before them. The dodgy old hyphenated, Colin Baden-Powell had invented the concentration camp in Mafeking during the Boer War too. Can’t say a Boy Scout history is a reason to be proud. I first heard of the Burroughs manual from Mick T, so I rifled through an old travel diary into which a news clipping was folded. It included a photograph of five young Americans in combat gear beside a ‘Homeland Security’ bus. From the front page of the New York Times I collected it on May 13 2009 when last visiting Mick in New York. The image caught my eye and I recall this was the same day when newly discovered atrocity photos from CIA ‘facilities’ in Afghanistan and Iraq were to be published but were censored so as to avoid undermining the war effort and the troops at the front.[i] Anxious excuses were conjured for spin and impression management… Instead, we got the unbelievable shot of Explorer scouts tooled up for the kill.
The Explorers program, a coeducational affiliate of the Boy Scouts of America that began 60 years ago, is training thousands of young people in skills used to confront terrorism, illegal immigration and escalating border violence — an intense ratcheting up of one of the group’s long-time missions to prepare youths for more traditional jobs as police officers and fire-fighters. Rereading the text ten years on is bracing, and Burroughs does not help the dark forebodings of the text.
“This is about being a true-blooded American guy and girl,” said A. J. Lowenthal, a sheriff’s deputy here in Imperial County, whose life clock, he says, is set around the Explorers events he helps run. “It fits right in with the honor and bravery of the Boy Scouts.” (New York Times, 13 May 2009)
Blocking the atrocity images, then president Obama said he would fight any release of the new set of detention images,[ii] backpeddling from an earlier ‘release them all’ position after a word from Pentagon chiefs. This old strategy or submerging truth is reported on the same front page as the scouting story). But the bus picture contains a curious quirky little detail. Look at the line of action-figure scouts in the shot. The very last one doesn’t seem to think the situation is all that real. A big grin on his face, forgetting the seriousness of the security role-play; has he tapped his colleague on the shoulder to say he likes his combat trousers? ‘Dude, I got these on special at ‘Old Navy” says his colleague. ‘Awesome’. I wonder if there is perhaps-possibly-maybe a little chink of critique, on the part of the New York Times’ photographer or picture editor in this edge-of-the-image smile? Such good terror-fighting teeth too. I would ‘hope’ we read this scene against the grain. ‘Yes we can’.
The article offers a great many other howlers – including strange juxtapositions: one such follows on from the news that neophyte Explorer Cathy is ‘attracted by the guns’ and says: “I like shooting them … I like the sound they make. It gets me excited.” We then get the observation that the police who supervise this ‘training’ have been exploring in their own perversions: “There have been numerous cases over the last three decades in which police officers supervising Explorers have been charged, in civil and criminal cases, with sexually abusing them”.
It seems though we are safe. This is after all only a role-playing game, with Arab dress-ups and other harmless pantomime fun. We are assured that ‘the training … is not intended to be applied outside the simulated Explorer setting’. OK.
Meanwhile, collected from the same paper, another photograph of another line of troops had caught my eye – commemorating the body of a soldier being returned to the US. RIP Michael P Yates, killed by one of his own in the counselling tent.[iii] The televised reporting of the return of troop bodies was of course suppressed by the previous President, Bush W, but the correspondence between the line of Explorer scouts and the solemn line of the troops in the second picture is poignant. (The death toll of US soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan topped 5000 soon after). This picture too appears a few pages before a full page ad taken out by a right wing group, suitably named the ‘Torture Truth Project’ that condemns those who would embarrass the US internationally by mentioning the ‘only three’ detainees that endured the notorious torture technique known as water boarding. The text of the ad takes on its own special rhetoric when it tortures the truth by warning that ‘we are losing the goodwill of people across the world’. Welcome to the USA today, in the New York Times.
The Scouts, as spawn of Sir Colin Baden-Powell, cannot be disassociated from the logic that developed the detention camp at Mafeking. Be Prepared. I remember this slogan and the implication of youthful disciplining, as is surely true for anyone who was a scout (sure, it was mostly fun of course, smoking behind the troop hall). My grandfather in the UK and father in the Ukraine were also enthusiastic adventurers. William Burroughs might have been a safer bet as father figure.
[i] New York Times, 13 May 2009
[ii] http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/14/us/politics/14photos.html?scp=6&sq=obama&st=cse accessed 13 May 2009
[iii] curiously, the image is not reproduced in the online version of the article: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/14/us/14victims.html accessed October 20 2009.
4th and 5th of October 2019.
Ho Chi Minh City, Socialist republic of Vietnam
Welcome to the website for the conference Innovations in the Social Sciences and Humanities, jointly organised by The University of Trieste, Italy; the Universität Leipzig, Germany; National Chiao Tung University, Taiwan; University of Warwick, UK; College of Humanities, Education and Social Sciences (CHESS) at Purdue University Northwest (PNW), USA; and Ton Duc Thang University, Socialist Republic of Vietnam.
Conference Venue – Ton Duc Thang University
Address: 19 Nguyen Huu Tho Street, Tan Phong Ward, District 7, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
Invitation and Call for papers:
For the International Conference 4-5 October 2019 at Ton Duc Thang University, HCMC, Vietnam, we would like to hear from those working on innovative approaches to public engagement in the social sciences and humanities. Methodological, empirical, archival or conceptual-theoretical work is encouraged, especially where a keen interest in application, consequence, practice or outcome is involved. Sometimes this is called impact on the one side, or intervention on the other, but we are nevertheless interested in all inquiries and investigations which advance the emancipatory possibilities of scholarship in a radically changed global context.
Social and cultural practices in both modern life and in the preservation of historical memory, could suitably connect sociology, social work, history, ethno-anthropology (museums, exhibitions, fairs, monuments, collective ceremonies), cultural tourism, eco-preservation policies, and other urgent contemporary social issues. Comparative studies are welcome, but not the only focus. We are especially interested in deep and detailed studies which have wider significance and suggestions for ‘best practice’. After many years of ‘interdisciplinarity’, or at least talk about this, we are interested to see examples where this works well in practice. We can assume all studies are comparative and interdisciplinary in a way, and all certainly have consequences, implications…
We are especially keen to hear from those working in three overlapping areas of engaged activity: these may be people working as anthropologists, historians, museum and preservation/heritage studies; cultural geographers, sociologists and in cultural studies; or on border studies, migrant labor and workplace and institutional inquiries. Our themes will interact within the structure of the conference, but we are keen in particular to go deeply into each area.
With Innovations in Public Engagement we anticipate discussions of the ways scholarship might best go about communicating in public the experience of the past and of human, cultural and environmental diversity, including technological and bio-political innovations and their contemporary reshaping of pasts and presents. Challenges to questions of who produces scholarship and why, for whom and by whom, can apply to past and present uses of knowledge, where the models of research and inquiry are actively reworked in the face of new public demands.
With Historical/contemporary practices and policies we seek to address issues related to contemporary forms of social conflict, including unequal citizenship and new racisms, the rise of right-wing populist movements and infiltration of religious power in secular governmentality, migrant workers as neoliberal slavery, questions of human trafficking and refugees, developmentalism and environmental pollution, crony capitalism and geo-economic zoning politics.
With Innovations of methodology, training and new skills for the future it seems to us crucial that our work respond to rapid reconfigurations of the very possibility and consequences of engaged social sciences and humanities scholarship. Whether the changing context is imposed by governments by industry or by civil society, when we deal with institutional change and competitive and imperative demands, we do need to develop new tools for knowledge(s) and new sensibilities/sensitivities. Education, reform and responsiveness, new skills and objectives, new modes of investigation and teaching in general. An urgent and targeted focus on how scholarship might remain relevant and critical in the face of global trends – funding cuts, social constraints, new demands, new conservatism, and crises of certitude.
The Socialist Republic of Vietnam will be our venue, but it need not necessarily be the context or focus of all papers, nor are comparative, or East-West or ‘post’ or neo-colonial framings always to be foregrounded in the papers. We are interested however in papers that encourage us to think anew about the implications of where we are and about how to re-orient humanities and social sciences scholarship in contexts where rising tensions in East Asia, Southeast Asia and South Asia call on us to innovate and apply once more.
On acceptance of your paper, we will provide you a letter of acceptance or an invitation letter for your visa application to Vietnam or financial sponsorship from your institution. Therefore, you are encouraged to submit your paper at the earliest time possible.
The conference proceedings and papers will be in English.
- Abstract Submission: By February 28th, 2019
- Notification of Paper Acceptance: Before March 30th, 2019
- Full Paper Submission: By May 30th, 2019
- Registration and Payment by: August 20th, 2019 (early bird discounts apply)
- Conference Dates: October 4th– 5th, 2019
We look forward to receiving your contributions and kindly ask you to disseminate the call to your colleagues who may be interested in participating the conference.
Please do not hesitate to contact us at email@example.com if you need any further information.
Assoc. Prof. Le Thi Mai, Ph.D
Head of Sociology Department
I am on (of course) various lists like that of the Posadaists, so this is interesting because to my shame my best efforts to keep up have not kept up. I suspect that is nearly universally true among my friends. So, who else has news on this?:
No end in sight to ‘Silent War’ in the Donbas –
bombing, shelling and blockade go on
End British military aid to Kiev!
Protest opposite Downing Street, Whitehall, London
Thursday 4 October 5.30-7pm
200,000 people line the streets of Donetsk City for Alexander Zakharchenko’s funeral
Rumours of a big new offensive by the Ukraine army against the anti-fascist People’s Republics in eastern Ukraine have been rife for weeks, while the daily bombardment and sniper attacks continue daily.
The attacks and ongoing war are recorded by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe mission in Ukraine, but totally ignored across the Western media.
On September 2 Alexander Zakharchenko, prime minister of the Donetsk People’s Republic, died in an explosion in a restaurant in Donetsk city, the latest in a string of assassinations.
According to the DPR authorities, the terrorist act was carried out by Security Service of Ukraine operatives trained by the US and NATO.
As new information shows that the fascist dictatorship in Ukraine is far worse than previously realised, and the Minsk peace process is blocked by Kiev and its US masters, calls are growing for the Donbas republics to become part of the Russian Federation.
This would at last bring about peace in the Donbas, but the leave the rest of Ukraine languishing under brutal fascist repression.
10-15,000 people, mainly civilians, have already died in the war, and men, women and children in the Donbas are still being killed or injured daily.
The war started with Kiev‘s massive “Anti-Terrorist Operation” to crush the anti-fascist resistance in the Donbass against the US-backed February 22 2014 “Maidan” coup. That operation was announced by Ukraine’s acting president Aleksandr Turchinov one week after a visit to Kiev by CIA chief John Brennan.
We recognise that without Russia’s humanitarian support the Donbas republics may well not have survived four years of war and blockade. This assistance has included giving refuge to thousands of children from the Donbas including breaks in holiday camps.
We must continue to build solidarity with the Lugansk and Donetsk People’s Republics and all anti-fascists in Ukraine, and to defend whatever measures Russia takes to support and defend the Donbass.
Meanwhile the British government continues to support the illegal fascist-backed Poroshenko regime in Kiev, including sending military personnel to train Ukrainian armed forces troops.
We do not agree with the then foreign secretary William Hague, who told parliament in 2014 that the regime change on Ukraine was legal.
We call on the British government to end all support for the current government in Kiev, and to back a peaceful negotiated end the war in Ukraine.
Organised by the New Communist Party, Socialist Fight, Posadists in Britain,
and members of Solidarity with the Anti-Fascist Resistance in Ukraine.
From Palma Africana (2018)
“irradiation of the negative sublime”…
“With this admittedly top-heavy phrase I am referring to the death pall cast by the (X)paras and palm plantations; death of people and death of rivers, swamps, and land. This must seem a strange and melodramatic formulation, “irradiation of the negative sublime.” It sounds like a curse, plucking at language, twisting it into knots and reality too. What I have I mind is the spectral quality of evil or, in less biblical terms, the spookiness of cutting throats” (p140)
Comrade Saleh Memon asks to repost this:
In the week beginning 23rd of July 2018, Sri Lankan Tamils across the world marked the thirty-fifth year of the horrors of the anti-Tamil pogrom of Black July 1983 (Kaṟuppu Yūlai). By all account what happened was a horrific bloodbath when Tamils were killed by Sinhala mobs in Colombo and across the country.
In the western press and elsewhere these atrocities are often presented as race riots. But according to A.Sivanandan who left Colombo after an attack on his family home during the widespread pogrom in 1958, there have been no race riots in Sri Lanka since independence. What there has been a series of increasingly virulent pogroms against the Tamil people by the Sinhala state.
The turning point was the 1956 election, when S.W.R.D.Bandaranaike, launched a new party, Sri Lankan Freedom Party, with a racist platform of Sinhala-Buddhist first to win the majority of Sinhalese Buddhist vote and on winning a landslide,swiftly legislated to make Sinhala the official language and Buddhism the state religion. This attacked Tamil livelihoods and achievement because English education had been a passport for social mobility into the professions and administrative services. Peaceful protests were crushed by the police; any attempts at reconciliation were suppressed by the Sinhalese reaction. This set off a vicious political race to the bottom when the defeated United National Party adopted the same platform in competing for power.
Sivanandan succinctly summed up five decades of developmentsthus: “From then on the pattern of Tamil subjugation was set: racist legislation followed by Tamil resistance, followed by conciliatory government gestures, followed by Opposition rejectionism, followed by anti-Tamil pogroms instigated by Buddhist priests and politicians, escalating Tamil resistance, and so on – except that the mode of resistance varied and intensified with each tightening of the ethnic-cleansing screw and led to armed struggle and civil war”
Successive Sinhalese governments have carried out demographic changes in the Tamil homelands. State-aided colonization has settled Sinhalese, specifically placed between the Northern and Eastern provinces of the Tamil homeland, in order to break up the contiguity between them.
In 1971 the university system abandoned admission based on merit and substituted ‘standardisation’ through examination results – with lower marks required for Sinhalese than for Tamil students. In a single move, this blighted the future prospects of the Tami youth. Non-violent protests and political actions had reached into a blind alley. Their language demoted, their land increasingly grabbed, their educational and job opportunities curtailed and their culture marginalised, Tamil youth turned to arms in the 1970s responding to pogroms with counter-violence.
In 1979 the government passed the Prevention of Terrorism Act and sent the army to Jaffna with instructions to “wipe out terrorism within six months”. The imprisonment and torture of innocent Tamils that followed in the wake of the PTA drove the civilian population further into the arms of the emerging militant groups, all demanding a separate Tamil state, Eelam, the LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) the most militant of them.
In June 1981 the security forces set fire to the Jaffna Public Library destroying 95,000 volumes and rare manuscripts of historic Tamil literature, considered to be the epicentre of Tamil cultural heritage. In the same year, the police attacked a peaceful refugee camp, Gandhiyam, set up by Tamil doctors to give refugees succour and killed or imprisoned its organisers.
On 23 July 1983 the Tigers ambushed a Sri Lankan army unit killing thirteen soldiers in Jaffna to avenge the killing of Charles Anthony (nom de guerre ‘Seelan‘), now of the LTTE’s top commanders. Their bodies were put on public display in Colombo by the government to provoke Sinhalese fury which resulted in the killing of Tamil prisoners in Welikade jail by Sinhalese prisoners with the collusion of the guards.
A widespread pogrom against Tamils commenced immediately and over a week reached genocidal proportions. Abductions, torture, rape, killings, disappearances and arbitrary arrests became widespread. Many attackers used electoral registers to destroy Tamil homes, shops, factories, etc built by Tamils over generations thereby destroying their capital assets accumulated over generations. These planned abuses were carried out with impunity by the armed forces, special task forces, police, home guards and paramilitary forces.
A cruel ethnic civil war of attrition followed over more than two decades with violence and counter-violence on both sides. The Sri Lankan armed forces with an airforce and navy, well equipped with advanced weapons acquired from the UK and US had always had an upper hand. The North East Secretariat on Human rights (NESOHR) documented more that 150 massacres of Tamils between 1956 and 2008. The LTTE resorted to suicide bombings, assassinations and skirmishes with Sri Lankan armed forces.
In July 1987 India signed a pact with Sri Lanka to end the conflict by sending peacekeeping troops (IPKF) to disarm LTTE. As soon as the Tamils realised that India would never support a separate Tamil state, the showdown between the IPKF and LTTE resulted in thousands of deaths. The disaster led to withdrawal of IPKF in March 1990 and the bitterness on the part of LTTE resulted in the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi in May, 1991.
Apart from the peace talks in October 1994 which ended when Jaffna the main city in the north in December 1995, a major effort mediated by Norway in February 2000 led to a 20 month long fragile ceasefire agreement and talks only to be scuppered by President Chandrika Kumaratunga declaring state of emergency on 5 November 2003.
Meanwhile, the LTTE was already designated as a terrorist organisation in Britain, Europe, India and US, giving a greater confidence to the Sri Lankan government to go on the offensive to seek a final solution militarily. Geopolitical machinations ensured that the Sri Lankan government would have diplomatic and material support from UK and US. There is sufficient evidence that behind the scenes Britain provided training for the Sri Lankan armed forces to improve their performance and the modern weapons to defeat Tamil nationalism. The two great regional powers, India and China both supported the Sri Lankan government. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) promoted Hindu nationalism (Hindutva) which countered secular Tamil nationalism. China seeking greater influence in Sri Lanka went along to court the government and Buddhist nationalism.
The election of Mahinda Rajapaksa in April 2005 brought in a regime which conducted a ruthless war not only against the Tamil Tigers but against innocent Tamil civilians. This parliamentary dictatorship tilting to fascism, instituted blanket censorship, abducting and killing any critical journalists and activists and feeding the Sinhalese public with government manufactured propaganda. In 2009 it intensified the military campaign and cornered the Tamil Tigers in Wanni with tens of thousands of civilians. The north of Sri Lanka was destroyed field by field, street by street, hospital by hospital without UN and the Western Powers intervening.
The defeat of the LTTE brought to end the attempt to establish a Tamil state. A survey showed that in 2016, seven years after the end of the war, 96 percent of Tamil land was occupied by the army. There has been little change since then, with many people still unable to return to their lands and access to water resources so that they can farm and fish to sustain their livelihood.
After the massacres in Wanni, On May 18, 2009, Colombo declared the end of the 26-year civil war and presented this as the beginning of a new era of peace, national reconciliation and development. But the PTA still remains in force enabling the security forces to detain people and subject them to torture, bypassing due legal process. There are many who are still looking for disappeared relatives. Nine years later the Sri Lankan government has set up an Office of Mission Persons (OMP) which has yet to gain the confidence of the Tamil community. Whilst the new government of President Maithripala Sirisena has promised to stop abductions and censorship of journalists, the national security state and the fundamental strategy of the ruling class to divide and rule remains unchanged. The political will to look back at the past and bring about reconciliation between the different communities is absent. Little progress has been made to implement The UNHCR resolution 30-1 passed in 2015 to promote reconciliation, accountability and human rights. For this to happen, the fundamentalist Buddhist monks must return to their monasteries and army to the to its barracks.
The Permanent People’s Tribunal on Sri Lanka held in December 2013 upheld the charge of genocide against Sri Lanka government and of complicity by the UK and US governments. Like the Palestinians and Kurds, the Sri Lankan Tamils have suffered ethnic cleansing and dispossession over the last seven decades. In none of these cases have the Western powers and the United Nations designated this as genocide. These are good examples of the prevailing politics of genocide. For the US and UK, ethnic cleaning by its allies such as Israeli, Turkey and Sri Lankan governments are benign genocides. It is only those committed by their enemies that are considered to be nefarious and requiring rapid intervention. In Kosovo, the ICTY (International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia)18 was briskly set up to indict the Yugoslav President Milosevic for genocide. The strategic interest of UK and US ensured immunity to the President Rajapaska for war crimes. Such double standards are with us and undermine the credibility of the current world order dominated by the US. All attempts to use international institutions to hold the Sri Lankan government to account retrospectively, worthwhile as they are, are not likely to result in any significant action.
Every community has to draw lessons from the history of their struggles. The Tamil liberation movement suffered a crippling defeat. The Sri Lankan Tamils have entered new phase. They have to regroup and radically innovate new strategy and tactics. They face a dual challenge- one at home in Sri Lanka and the other in the diaspora in the UK and elsewhere. Wherever they are they need to build strong civil society organisations with solidarity to fight against injustice legally and politically. They have no choice but to reconstruct their lives. In Sri Lanka holding on the land they have and recovering the lands they have been displaced from is the utmost priority. They must develop strategies for this. More importantly, they need to bring to an end the domination of the Sri Lankan military in civil society and public spaces such as schools. For this, they must build communities of resistance based on participatory democracy. Tamils in the diaspora should set up organisations and funding to support reconstruction of the communities in Sri Lanka, beyond mere charities. They will need to build their political organisations to contest any opportunities electorally at local and national levels.
They came for Tamils and now they are increasingly going after the Muslims. Given the triumphalism of Sinhalese nationalism and the increasing attack on Muslim community, the Tamil community must make common cause with all minorities and oppose injustices. This would show a principled position on defence of dignity, security, justice and human rights based on their experience. It will win them respect and friends at home and across the world.
In the UK, the Tamil community are still intimidated by the fact that the Terrorism Act 2000 banned LTTE and by association, any Tamil political activity can be linked to terrorism. They need to resist this by making common cause with the Kurdish and other communities facing a similar problem. Organisations such as CAMPACC have supported the Tamil community over more that a decade. The Tamil community must learn from the Kurdish experience. Kurds under the guidance of their imprisoned leader Abdullah Öcalan have abandoned nationalism as their aim and have attempted to build grass root democratic institutions uniting diverse communities in Rojava. They face formidable obstacles and geopolitical machinations but their strategy is both visionary and right.
Inevitably we confront the question of why the Sinhalese polity descended into barbarism with Buddhist religious bigotry having a sway contrary to Buddhist tenets of truth, virtue, morality, non-violence etc. The roots of this lies in the colonial past when the British colonial authorities imposed a unitary central state without regard to Tamil territorial claims and invented the ‘Sinhala Buddhist Aryan’ national identity privileged to rule the island in 1833. In sharp contrast to its brutal treatment of the Indian people across the water the British awarded universal suffrage in their model colony coupling it with an island wide census to instil the Sinhala identity with a majoritarian consciousness. They developed a narrative that the Tamils were not indigenous to the island but invaders. Despite the repeated demands by the Tamils for constitutional safeguards that would preserve their collective rights as a nation, the British transferred the power to the Sinhala elite in 1948 leaving Tamils at the mercy of the sectarian state.
This beautiful island still described as ‘the jewel of the Indian Ocean’ in tourist brochures is tarnished. Maybe sometime in not too distant future, coming generations of Sinhalese and Tamils will look back at the last 70 years with horror and seek to build a multicultural, multi-faith and multilingual society where all will flourish and none will be left behind, none will be marginalised and demonised. In a turbulent world they will face urgent challenges of climate change and economic survival. Hopefully it will dawn upon them that the inhabitants of this island have a history and geography so intertwined that ethno-nationalism can only be destructive and an inclusive politics and culture will enrich all of them. Without such hope, how can one face the future.
How can one remember all the victims of this carnage. Innocent children, women and men who were slaughtered for nothing but for the demigods of nationalism. Perhaps it is best to leave it to Faiz Ahmad Faiz who witnessed such the carnage in Bangladesh in 1971 by the Pakistani army and reacted to it with this poem:
This is how my sorrow became visible
its dust, piling up for years in my heart,
finally reached my eyes,
the bitterness now so clear that
I had to listen when my friends
told me to wash my eyes with blood.
Everything at once was tangled in blood-
each face, each idol, red everywhere.
Blood swept over the sun, washing away its gold.
The moon erupted with blood, its silver extinguished.
The sky promised a morning of blood,
ant night wept only in blood.
The trees hardened into crimson pillars.
All flowers filled their eyes with blood.
And every glance was an arrow,
each pierced image blood. This blood
-a river crying our for martyrs-
flows on in longing. And in sorrow, in rage, in love.
Let it flow. Should it be dammed up,
there will only be hatred cloaked in colours of death.
Don’t let his happen, my friends,
bring all my tears back instead,
a flood to purify my dust-filled eyes,
to wash this blood forever from my eyes.
(translated from Urdu by Agha Shahid Ali)
there was a series that Ben and Melitta used to include in Rabelais, along such lines – what did Lenin think of the Labor Party etc., I wish I could reproduce them, but this one, from a letter to marx by Engels, dates 23 Sept 1851, is worth it for the wrongs and rights of it all. Read between the lines if you will:
One must hope the Australian gold business won’t interfere with the trade crisis. At any rate it has momentarily created a new, largely fictitious market, sending wool sky-high, since the flocks are being neglected. Otherwise it’s a splendid thing. In six months’ time the circumnavigation of the world by steam will be fully under way and our predictions concerning the supremacy of the Pacific Ocean will be fulfilled even more quickly than we could have anticipated. When this happens the British will be thrown out and the united states of deported murderers, burglars, rapists and pickpockets will startle the world by demonstrating what wonders can be performed by a state consisting of undisguised rascals. They will beat California hollow. But whereas in California rascals are still lynched, in Australia they’ll lynch the honnêtes gens [honest folk], and Carlyle will see his aristocracy of rogues established in all its glory.
Just in, the BBC misses the opportunity to call bullshit on Australia, which they can’t do of course because they also export ‘defence’ weaponry. Both as daft as can be:
Australia aims to become ‘top 10’ defence exporter
Australia[‘s puppet PM doing the bidding of his corporate arms dealer masters] has said it plans to become one of the world’s top 10 defence industry exporters within a decade.
The [fat cats of the] nation currently sell about A$2bn (£1.15bn; $1.6bn) in defence equipment each year, making it the 20th largest arms exporter [set blasters to stun]
Manufacturers would now be offered government-backed loans to stimulate the industry, [kiss-arse squib, Guab’gina Gil, you puny earthling] PM Malcolm Turnbull said.
Aid groups [bleated harmlessly as they] said the move would not help global efforts to build peace, an assertion rejected by the government [time warp].
The nation[al embarrassment, doing a mind flip] said it would primarily focus on boosting exports to the US, UK, Canada and New Zealand, but it would also target markets in Asia and the Middle East.
“This is all about [killing other people so as to safeguard a half-dozen or so Eddie-level] Australian jobs,” Mr Turnbull told reporters on Monday, adding that “the goal is to get into the top 10”.
The [latter-day colonial wish for federation space] expansion includes setting up a A$3.8bn loan scheme to help Australian companies sell [killing machines, erm um blasters, ] defence equipment overseas.
The government will also establish separate agencies to better [kill] co-ordinate [maim] and promote [murder through] industry exports [and a mass shadow generator of Turnbull’s own twisted design].
‘Price of liberty’
[unable to contain the hypocrisy] Defence Industry Minister Christopher Pyne said prospective buyers would face stringent checks to ensure “[we] don’t get into markets where we don’t want to be” [from the deck of his personal Eclipse Class dreadnought].
Critics said Australia should not deepen its [pockets through yet more corrupt] investment in defence exports.
[in the first somewhat sane voice of the day, we heard on Millennium Falcon radio that] “We should not be getting into the game of marketing weapons which kill, maim, and bring great sorrow and destruction to communities around the world,” Marc Purcell, chief executive of Australian Council for International Development, told the Australian Broadcasting Corp.
However, Mr Turnbull said nations could not forgo defence spending because the “price of liberty is eternal vigilance” [and other howlers from the cliche songbook of the dark arts, blood money, rogue crazy book of sell your own mother for a poll boost playbook]
“So that is why every nation, responsible nation, including our own, sets out to have the capabilities to defend itself, whatever and however circumstances may develop in the future,” he said [while onlookers gasped at the opportunism, and some choked on the smell of sulphur]
The US is the world’s largest arms exporter, making up a third of all sales, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. [ugh, I cannot even say what it took to get this far. still more smoke, we are not on Dalari Prime anymore, last ticket to Baskerville sells in 4 hours]
The next biggest exporters are Russia, China, France and Germany and the UK [amidst the strange stench a patriotic thought squeezes through the asphyxiation of my last remaining brain cells as the cryo chamber fires up – and I think that really, its the world cup that matters, who is in the play-offs, and did they have the right kind of ball skills? Yes, I watch the football, it distracts me from any recognition that typed cynicism is never going to step up to the level required to defeat these bastards. The possibility that humour might somehow keep alive the slim chance that all this could be wiped away in an angry uprising – canberra in ruins, the national gallery turned into a hospice, Kara Thrace as Joan of a new Ark – is, frankly, not sufficient, but then I stupidly turned on the BBC news channel. Like a fool. All I’ve left is these three tellurian credits. Burn it to the ground, incarnadine …
A dump post for bits cut from a manuscript. So yes, I will not be talking about Bababababadiouuuuu. But leave it here in case I need to retrieve it from the hungry mouse:
that atrocities here and there and the perpetual state of war cannot be swallowed whole means we need not agree with the philosopher Alain Badiou when he claims ‘being indignant’ about a state murder is insufficient because ‘a negative emotion cannot replace the affirmative idea and its organization, any more than a nihilistic riot can claim to be politics’ (Badiou 2011/2012). Badiou’s claim is contradicted by the evidence of consistent and sustained mobilisation against the violence of such encounters, and the question of deciding, far too quickly in Badiou’s case, where the violence begins and ends, and what is a riot and what is organisation. Useful insights can be realised through faulty representations but more generally, there is rage and organisation that goes together in opposition to the dominant. The point is to not join with the dominant so as to merely, even critically, help engross its surplus.
I guess it is easy to see why this needs to be cut, even if there is a point in there somewhere.
More seriously though, I also cannot use this now:
While in the USA this sort of policing occurs with armed officers more frequently, the extraordinary number of cases of, unprosecuted, police killing in the UK confirms that police ‘encounter’ is not a problem specific to any particular nation state. Flagrant examples piled up as I wrote these sentences from notes, white supremacy with a uniform, and a litany of the names of the dead makes for difficult ‘research’. Which is only to say – and saying it is never enough – that police violence is institutional, a part of state ‘counter-terror’ everywhere. In 1999 the Macpherson Report identified ‘institutional racism’ within the British police forces, in relation to the Stephen Lawrence investigation but with wider, limited, implications. Some years later, the ‘institutional’ narrative was brought out again with the disappearance of CCTV video of the police murder of Jean Charles de Menezes on Stockwell tube in 2005. Lists of the dead are abject, no wonder documentation of racist attacks sometimes appears in fictionaliased forms, in films like Sammie and Rosie Get Laid, in pop video such as Dog-tribe by Fun-da-Mental, but at the point of delivery the violence is real. Public sentiment is naturally to resist such violence. The reaction to the killing of Mark Duggan in Tottenham in 2011 suggested more in terms of popular sentiment – that police killings are resented, that the civil compact is fragile, that revolt could transform polite complacency in a matter of days – just as much as the force and violence of political suppression needs a massive tabloid buttress for legitimacy, and carnival sponsorship, or photo-opportunism with a broom in Clapham, cannot resolve the tension.
Just as no police officer has been jailed for a death in custody in the UK and the full weight of the law was mobilised to halt the uprising on the third night when the ‘rioters’ in 2011 turned their attention to well-to-do Ealing, rather than Tottenham or Lewisham, people see the operation of hypocrisy and can locate who to blame readily enough. Police duty of care is flouted and ignored, and free rein was offered in Ealing as was evident to anyone who cared to look. It is also not without significance to me that the following August in 2012, the police operation to ‘protect’ the public at the Olympics were lauded, in the press after the fact, as having helped heal the wounds of a scarred city. I do not want to minimise the losses suffered and livelihoods ruined by the events of August 2011, but it seems to me that some new angles on the uprising are required in order to see it as it was – a stage managed media ‘riot’ graphed over the top of legitimate youth frustration built up over months of repressive austerity, cuts to services, the education maintenance allowance (EMA), and the student protests of 2010-early 2011.
There was of course a gap between the predominantly black youth organising and protesting the removal of the EMA that had supported so many disadvantaged families in keeping teens in education and the white, often middle-class, students who somewhat selflessly were protesting education fees they themselves would probably avoid by finishing their degrees before the introduction of the fees. The administration-led privatisation of education, and the political debate about this, was always about much more than issue of course fees, a message even the mainstream news media at the time occasionally comprehended. Yet, since vernacular conviviality is to be subsumed into the regulatory, the evident gap between two kinds of organising, and indeed at the protests, between those who were standing around waiting to be ‘kettled’ and those up for dancing and or a bit of barney with the police – and often it was South Asian youth in the latter contingent – was clearly a part of a struggle that would set coming directions. More creative modes of protest and articulation of dissent within the police kettles and refusal of the A to B march orthodoxy of the usual student protests should also be mentioned, even if they did not in the end prevail. The lessons of horizontal and cell based organising taken from observations of the ‘Arab Spring’, to the extent that it was possible to know via media, and before it was sabotaged by the reaction, did complicate the picture in the student demonstrations, and perhaps even set some of the scene for the following August. Thinking of protest as carnivalesque, as an alternative to predictable routes, and A to B protest marches, opened the possibility of going beyond the political conventions. This itself was perhaps part of the reason for the Police crackdown on student protesters, including significant jail time for a surprisingly large number, which in turn fuelled a degree of militancy that had been building to confirm the congealing roles. The gap, however, also still prevailed in august, with two kinds of ‘protest’ occurring would only be ‘theorised’ at a distance by largely the same groups that had contrasted ‘spikey’ versus ‘fluffy’ in the Criminal Justice Act protests of the med 1990s. Without even going so far as the reprehensibly fluffy ‘clean up’ broom movement photo op in Clapham, the site of white activists marching in a relatively orderly formation through Lewisham chanting ‘This is what a revolution looks like’ was a symptomatic incongruity and pointer that the lessons are still to be learnt.
It is no surprise that the variety of film reference consumes space that might have been given over to a shared theoretical effort. With the production of one thousand films a year – estimates vary, but hover around the Scheherazade number. All before anyone can cast about for angle or perspective. Especially if from these thousand and one films, only a very small number of these are discussed by experts in film studies.
And this brilliant but orphan squib from SV:
“Film analysis too often
‘restages the obvious as a major discovery’ (Srinivas 2012:79)
talks itself into wanting to ‘pass’ in all contexts, then complains when this succeeds all too well, and hence benefits are withdrawn
‘Sometimes, you can’t understand what’s happening textually unless you are aware of the economic forces at work’ (Srinivas 2012:78)”
Srinivas, S.V. 2012 ‘Teaching India/Asian Cinema’, Journal of the Moving Image, 11:78-84
Srinivas raises key areas of problems for film studies: the different levels of attention, first of all to film and its excessive enjoyment; the pleasures of going to the cinema hall to sit in the dark awash with colour; to sit with others, on couches or in cinema halls or virtually, the problem of distribution; the grand claims of those who sit in the dark and proclaim themselves radical, subversive, pirates, revolutionaries, as if watching Jackie Chan in itself were progressive (see Srinivas 2012:79); that piracy can be reread and celebrated as theft and free content misunderstands both piracy and freedom (Srinivas 2012:81).
Moinak Biswas in a talk on ‘Ismat Chughtai and her Films’ (Biswas 2016) stresses the importance of Urdu writers in the development of Indian leftist culture and the movement of artists, writers and theatre workers and more from the Progressive Writers Association and IPTA into the film industry in Bombay.
Gehlawat would break with ‘adherence to a devotional paradigm’ (Gehlawat 2010:26)
‘On 26 June 1975, Indira Gandhi declared a State of Emergency, allegedly to prevent a conspiracy from undermining the progressive measures being undertaken by her. A national railway workers’ strike and broad-based popular campaigns in one of the more urbanized and developed states, Gujarat, and in one of the most backward, Bihar (campaigns which were both escalating into nationwide opposition movements) formed the background to the decision. Individual rights were revoked, including the right to move courts and the right to trial; over 100,000 arrests of political leaders and dissidents were made during the eighteen month period before elections were called side by side with political repression were measures to promote economic growth and equity, such as the Twenty Point Program, heralded as a ‘‘direct assault on poverty.’’ It gave priority to implementing laws on land ceilings, housing for landless labor, abolition of bonded labor and of rural indebtedness, and providing higher minimum wages for agricultural workers. Special teams were instituted in the large cities, to undertake house-to-house searches for undisclosed or undervalued property. Widely publicized campaigns against tax evasion and smuggling were launched, and within twelve months over 2,100 alleged smugglers were jailed and property worth over ten million rupees seized. Labor ‘‘peace’’ was achieved, with a dramatic decrease in strikes and lockouts of about 75 percent. The government’s aim appeared to be to stop at source all conceivable political opposition. Elections were suspended and press censorship instituted’ (Rajagopal 2009:47)
In Chandidas (1932, dir Deboki Kumar Basu) the burning of Rami’s home, and the fire taking the bird cage a poignant moment in the most poignant of films. Against the prohibitions of the bigoted temple priests, Chandidas chooses Rami and they leave for a new house
The game show format imparted, like cricket, to India is not offensive, nor should it surprise us that the abuse of legal process first devised by the British lingers. What we see played out on the hanging channel are the global effects of the terror psychosis that spread fear as revenge for national insult. 9-11 and 6/7 meant a bureaucratic anxiety was imposed as control. Internal Security, Homeland Defence, Prevent, Radicalisation and Human Terrain network Analysis are all variants of a prime-time police operation reliant upon fear of ideas and the burning of books. The pantomime factor is huge in the effort to make people in the west forget that they are far far more likely to die in a car crash than the proxy war of terror weapons sales push that occupies strategic imperatives in so-called ‘diplomatic’ planning.
‘The Indian films which pertained most to Third Cinema grew out of the New Indian Cinema of the 1970s and 1980s, and it is this movement to which I devote some attention here for two reasons: it is not treated elsewhere in these pages while remaining one of the important cinemas neglected (for a variety of reasons) by Western criticism – this even though the films produced by these radical filmmakers outnumber those of the Nouvelle Vague and the New German Cinema combined; the New Indian Cinema also constitutes a superb illustration all the difficulties and contradictions that filmmakers and film critics encountered and continue to encounter wherever Third Cinema has come into being. India’s “Parallel Cinema,” as it has come to be known in some quarters, remains unparalleled in its richness as a case study’ (Guneratne and Dassanayake 2003: 20)
‘The vanguard of the New Indian Cinema that began to emerge in the 1970s either studied under committed leftist filmmaker Ritwik Ghatak at Pune or abroad either at such centers of filmmaking as Moscow’ (Guneratne and Dassanayake 2003: 21)
Understanding then Pather Panchali or Baishey Shravana in this code brings only sadness and despair to the nation. Poverty, not independence would be a more adequate context, especially in a filmmaker like Sen who will track the communist left and Maoist political lineage in Bengal.
No romance of the beleaguered ethnic community. Austerity accounts for all associations other than big business and what community there is that can be applauded is a community of struggle. Struggle is not yet success, but the aspiration remains. Even where beset by inner city problems – code for drugs, gangs, crime, violence, hip hop – there is organisation. In the face of a collapsing left, even a crack house might in some conditions be shelter.
Prepare yourself for trauma. John Hood’s book The Bleeding Lotus: Notions of nation in Bangladeshi Cinema (2015, Palimpsest) is not intended primarily as a gore-fest horror but is the more devastating for being a documentation of real and brutal violence on film, presented in relentlessly modest prose, requiring careful and sustained, if confronting, reading.
Hood begins his wonderful study of Bangladeshi cinema with an all too cute first line recognition that there were still many people who were ‘born in India, grew up in East Pakistan’ and who, he is writing in 2015, without having travelled, now ‘live in Bangladesh’ (Hood 2015:14). His next 200 pages document that bloody and violent history, tracking films from Zahir Raihan’s Stop Genocide (1971), Tariq and Catherine Masud’s Ontarjatra (2006) through to Nasiruddin Yousuff’s Guerrilla (2011), all the while in extended (short) book length commentary on Tanvir Mokammel’s epic three-hour documentary 1971 (2011). An elegiac annotation of the horrors of partition, language conflicts, civil war, and other assassinations and atrocities, the discussion is all the while shot through with solemn insights about Mokammel’s other films. Hood’s book casts up an ensemble – if that term can be used – that includes the rapist Pakistani military, the bloated bodies of murdered women, groups of dead children in a screen violence perhaps unprecedented, and a horrific witness: ‘deeply moving, powerful visuals’ (Hood 2015:75).
Hood knows Bangladesh, and his descriptions of movies that treat the events of the 1971 war, the Pakistan Army, the Razakar collaborators and the resistance, are comprehensive and relentless. Returning over and over to Mokammel’s 1971 with intuition and argumentation, the commentary and synopsis of a great many related films, documentary and feature, are hung on this bleakly enticing frame. The overwhelming humanity of the treatment obliges close attention (many of the films are online, albeit sans subtitles for non-Bengalis). No other film scholars are mentioned and little obvious debt to film theory is required, but the writing is fluent, engaging and engaged. One learns both of Bangladeshi film and and of the difficult birth of Bangladesh as nation, in a fraught emergence which cannot be reduced to a concert or a newsreel summation. Hood shows more clearly than anyone else I have read on this subject that the secularist revolutionary struggle for Bangladeshi freedom was heroic and so are the films, in various degrees of cinematic dress and competence, not spared any necessary critique where warranted, but all in all informative and done with care.
The problem of circuits infects film distribution as it does publishing or politics, imposing an hierarchy of visibility and voices according to who shouts loudest with which speaker system. Distribution costs money or favours and without vast resources, sensation and political intrigue substitute for worth. Thus it can be that the most widely viewed documentary ‘evidence’ of the Pakistani Army atrocities is a film that owed its international renown to a cross-border machinations by someone previously not much into the business of facilitating film reviews. As Hood argues in discussion of Zahir Raihan’s Stop Genocide (1971):
‘Released even before the war was over [this] was perhaps the earliest cinematic expression of a people’s aspiration for freedom in the face of an occupation army’s inhuman barbarity. Prime Minister Indira Gandhi bought the film rights and had it distributed around the world to project the excesses of the Pakistani military [and so] to justify the Indian intervention’ (Hood 2015:17)
Never previously had a twenty minute film found such unlikely international backing, as Indira also used the cover of the war intervention to quash urban Naxals at home. It is then not without irony that Stop Genocide begins with a quote from Lenin and a refrain from ‘The Internationale’, before shadows of palms and the sound of marching boots, barking dogs, and gunfire. Lines of refugees – stop – close-ups of hungry faces and wide abject eyes – stop – the return of revolutionary anthem as a pleading dirge at the end smears misery across the screen, exceeded only with a reference to Auschwitz – stop, stop stop Genocide across the final frames.
What further circulates, however, supported in turn by that indubitably well-meaning and necessary Concert for Bangladesh, starring George Harrison and Ravi Shankar, is the globally distributed image of Bangladesh as a space of trauma. Abject nationhood sells, in the hands of such philanthropic friends. Other films or images of a tranquil Bangladesh find distribution deals harder to come by unless they can market the exoticist angles.
Hood’s lyrical description of the opening sequence of Morshedul Islam’s Khalaghar (PlayHouse, Dir. Islam, 2006) illustrates the dual tendencies in more recent times:
‘The setting is a lush and dense tract of riverbank. The camera focuses on a boat coming along the relatively narrow and secluded stretch of the river. Other than the boatman nothing comes into view; the only other sound than the splash of water by the moving punt is a gentle twittering of birds. It is a truly idyllic scene, which lasts for just about two minutes before the boatman draws to the bank under the cover of low over-hanging branches and in scary silence six young men emerge from the jungle behind the camera to meet the boat. Without a word the boatman proceeds to unload a cargo of arms, passing out guns to the men on the bank. Not a word is spoken’ (Hood 2015:122-3)
Reflections in the water play an important role in the sequence, ripples and shimmering in the image, the youth collecting the guns framed under the tree, before a bell rhythm introduces the opening credits. It is a full five and a half minutes before a word is spoken, when the teacher is informed of news about the fight for freedom. The idyll contrasts with an indication of the guerrilla war. Hood is right to double up on noting that words are unnecessary for the effect. Bangladesh, like Nepal, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan are rendered as paradise with violence; only sand, dust, mountains, or swollen rivers are interchangeable, and these stereotyped images, along with the all-singing, all-dancing Bollywood ready reckoner, circle the globe. Partition horrors, the emergency and the pogroms dull the tune. Of course other images and critiques of stereotypes are possible. A counter-narrative is found in Humayan Ahmed’s Shyambol Chhaya (2004) where towards the end the Bengali freedom fighters approach a Pakistani Army post disguised as musicians, who, when they get close enough, ‘exchange their instruments for guns and grenades’ (Hood 2015:140). This book and these films take us beyond the lingering consequences of long years of colonial misrule, restoring initiative where there is otherwise only the fading of the vibrant Raj pink of Empire’s nostalgic fantasy – rose-coloured as if the Jallianwalah Bagh massacre of unarmed civilians or Churchill’s wartime ‘necessary’ famine were mere administrative anomalies. If Empire left its outcomes in arbitrary lines and compromises that were unworkable from the get go, Islam’s film Khalaghar, Mokammel’s 1971, and Hood’s book as a whole, alongside many other films and commentary (Prasad et al.,) are efforts to help us negotiate the difficulties and stereotypes that refuse, perhaps especially through invitation and containment, to otherwise succumb to critique.
‘As the world prepared for yet another Oil crusade, I was reading my daily paper, as you do. On the same page that reports the speech of Colin Powell to the United Nations Security Council in the lead-up to the attack on Iraq – in his talk the General cited a plagiarized British MI6 research paper on Iraqi weapons while standing before a hastily covered-up tapestry of Picasso’s Guernica – there appeared an ad for the aid and relief charity Unicef. In the style of a soap powder commercial, this ad extols the virtues of the organization and what it could do for a girl called Farida. Tragically subject to domestic oppression (see Figure 1), she would be saved if I would just donate a few coins to the charitable cause. The face of someone I have never met, and whom Powell will never meet (with more sinister consquences), is used to demand an intervention. I feel like we have been here before…’
Read there rest here: Souvenirs and Infancy, Jrnl Vis Cult 2004
It has often been noted that war is hell, or ‘heck’ in the old 1970s ‘M*A*S*H’ anti-war comedy version, but the cold war too has its unwelcome replays as austerity today, this time as grotesque rerun of terror and economic malaise.
For many in the West, a first look at ‘Asia’ came with Altman’s 1970 film M*A*S*H following the adventures of a front line medical unit in the Korean war, but the Vietnam War was the allegorical context. The long-running television series featured Alan Alda as Hawkeye and his bumbling foil Major Frank Burns, an incompetent officer and surgeon played by Larry Lindville, who offered the mortal paraphrase – ‘war is heck’. An occasional character, the paranoid Colonel Flag, played by Edward Winter, should also be remembered for his surrealist reinforcement of the absolute winning incoherence of the phrase ‘military intelligence’.
- What is it to give offence? To insult with intent? To use insults as a mode of revenge? Are these only insults or always also weapons of mass destruction?
- What is humour in a time of war? Humour and culture – from the Keep Calm slogans to the Je Suis Charlie and ‘pardon’ image. The aesthetics and context of cartoons, and what can be said inside a box and not elsewhere.
- On cartoonists, translators, books, mosques, persons, countries, faith.
- Irony and contradiction. Freedom fighters opposing freedom of speech, and vice versa. The recoding of events as freedom of speech versus terror (Spivak 2002). Binary thinking that opposes civilisation and barbarism, liberalism and fundamentalism, occident and orient (Kay 2015) or medieval and modern, uneducated or sophisticated, religious and secular (Miller 2015).
- What is revenge? Militarily and culturally? Can anyone win in this sphere? Or are we dealing with perpetual war? – as distraction for other more fundamentally economic interests? Taking sides (Kumar 2015) and anti-racism, anti-imperialism, justice and the creation of Death Squads as traps for alienated youth (Chandan 2015).
[pic is of the collaborationist newspaper of the French Nazi’s edited for several years ’43-44 by Antoine Cousteau (yep, Jacques’ brother)]
Insane desperation of the stagnant economies, troubled in Europe by dominos starting in Athens but threatening to head west. To avoid a European revolution they would risk an even greater conflagration in a chaotic war in the East, not extending the failed and brutal turmoil of Syria into Turkey, but replaying the Crimean war games with what is now called Ukraine. Just as Sebastopol in 1856 was the site of a futile slaughter, with French, English and Russians wasting as much as the Ottoman Empire was paralysed, this gambit looks like a guaranteed failure and no-one, not even a diplomat, reading history should be surprised. As old beardo set it out in his articles on The Eastern Question… let us then hope that some repetitions are a little quicker in coming. The threats of Merkel and co echo those offered long ago. Marx wrote: ‘The very fact of the threat having been uttered may call forth insurrectionary movements’. It took some time, but the consequences of chaos have elements of promise. It will take some untangling to read these runes, but the situation is promising.
It seems very wrong to classify this ‘jobs.ac.uk’ post under ‘social care’:
Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) – Behavioural and Cultural Systems Team
Location: Fareham, Portsmouth
Salary: £23,500 to £33,500
Hours: Full Time
Placed on: 13th June 2014
Closes: 18th July 2014
Job Ref: 1415972
Dstl is responsible for designing, developing and applying the very latest in science and technology for the benefit of UK defence and security, across government. We work with the best people with the best ideas around the world – from very small companies to world-class universities, huge defence companies and sometimes other nations. Together we develop battle-winning technologies, based on deep and widespread research, to support UK military operations, now and in the future.
This is a genuinely involving, unusual and rewarding anthropology role – it’s an opportunity to apply your expertise to inform the way the UK responds to security and defence threats.
You will be joining the Behavioural and Cultural Systems team within Dstl’s Strategic Analysis Group, a 50 strong group of specialists drawn from diverse backgrounds such as psychology, theology, war studies and law. Anthropology is an important element in the mix, as the UK’s ability to tackle future challenges depends on in-depth, accurate insight into populations and societies.
You will be supporting analysis at strategic and operational level, by drawing on a wide range of established and emergent human and social science theories. Your analysis, assessment and advice will be crucial to aiding our understanding of individuals, groups and organisational systems – relating to a wide range of social and cultural issues confronting Her Majesty’s Government. Ultimately, your contribution can help shape and influence government policy and UK Armed Forces operations.
It’s essential that you have an Honours degree in Anthropology or a related subject, and membership of a relevant professional body.
You need a proven record of using a variety of structured social science analysis / research methods to support decision making, together with practical experience of applying Anthropological principles in problem-sets.
You will be a customer-focused researcher who works well both independently and collaboratively.
An understanding of UK defence and security environments or experience of analysis on counter-insurgency or counter-terrorism is an advantage.
Dstl is responsible for designing, developing and applying the very latest in science and technology for the benefit of UK defence and security, across the government. We work with the best people with the best ideas around the world – from very small companies to world-class universities, huge defence companies … even other nations. Together we develop battle-winning technologies, based on deep and widespread research, to support UK military operations, now and in the future.
In return for playing your part in the UK’s defence and security, we offer extensive benefits that include everything from a pension and generous leave, to excellent learning and development opportunities – all in addition to a competitive salary. Our sites are equipped with gyms and restaurants. But it’s not just your working environment that we’ve thought about. Your home life is important too, which is why we offer childcare vouchers, a flexible work-life balance and even discounts on everything from bus tickets to the cost of a new bicycle. In short, we’ve done our best to ensure that our rewards reflect your talents.
To find out more about this role and the work of Dstl, please go to Civil Service Jobs https://jobsstatic.civilservice.gov.uk/csjobs.html/ and search for the vacancy reference 1415972. Follow the instructions to apply.
Due to the reserved nature of this role, it is only open to UK Nationals who have lived in this country for more than five years. All posts require standard Security Clearance (SC).
Closing date: 18 July 2014.
DIY Anti War Drones and more:
Radio Australia, 8 May 2014
Bougainville Shareholders support corporate review
Updated 8 May 2014, 9:30 AEST
The Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility says it is encouraged that most Bougainville Copper shareholders are in favour of appointing an independent jurist to investigate the company’s involvement in counter-insurgency activities during the Bougainville civil war.
The Centre’s resolution, put to the Bougainville Copper annual meeting in Port Moresby was overwhelmingly defeated.
Presenter: Jemima Garrett
Caroline le Couteur, Executive Director of the Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility
Rio Tinto wins end to human rights abuse lawsuit in U.S.Fri Jun 28, 2013 2:47pm EDT* Bougainville residents sued over activity linked to mine* 9th Circuit rules after top U.S. court narrows law’s reachBy Jonathan StempelJune 28 (Reuters) – Benefiting from a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision, Rio Tinto Plc has won the dismissal of a nearly 13-year-old U.S. lawsuit accusing the Anglo-Australian mining company of complicity in human rights abuses on the South Pacific island of Bougainville.Friday’s ruling by a majority of an 11-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ends litigation begun in 2000.Roughly 10,000 current and former Bougainville residents had sought to hold Rio Tinto responsible for human rights violations and thousands of deaths linked to polluting a copper and gold mine it once ran.The ruling follows the Supreme Court’s April 17 decision in Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum Co, where the justices limited the sweep of a 1789 U.S. law that lawyers had used for roughly three decades to fight human rights abuses worldwide.Five justices said the Alien Tort Statute was meant to cover international law violations occurring in the United States, and that violations elsewhere must “touch and concern” U.S. territory “with sufficient force” to displace that presumption.The Bougainville residents alleged that after workers in 1988 began to sabotage the Rio Tinto mine, the company goaded Papua New Guinea’s government to exact retribution and conspired to impose a blockade, leading to thousands of civilian deaths.On April 22, the Supreme Court threw out an earlier 9th Circuit ruling that let the lawsuit proceed, and asked it to revisit the matter in light of Kiobel.Steve Berman, a lawyer for the Bougainville plaintiffs, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.He had asked the 9th Circuit to send the case back to the Los Angeles district court so that his clients could try to proceed with other claims, “sans invocation of the ATS.”Kiobel was also cited this week by a Virginia federal judge who dismissed a lawsuit accusing defense contractor CACI International Inc of conspiring to torture detainees a decade ago at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.The judge in that case said that because the alleged abuse occurred outside the United States, he lacked jurisdiction to consider claims by four former detainees. They plan to appeal.The case is Sarei et al v. Rio Tinto Plc et al, 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, No. 02-56256.
AC/DC http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FX05dWBoeUs – accessed April 7 2008
Marilyn Manson http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bOWmTyrz1RA – accessed April 9 2006
Doco http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=related&v=1ljXnV4Ibpk – accessed April 7 2008
Comic stuff: http://gocomics.typepad.com/the_sandbox/2008/03/5-years-1-year.html – accessed March 27 2008
Rustom Bharucha reports that the Progressive Writers Association has its origins, according to ‘its most distinguished founder- member Mulk Ray Anand’ in ‘the expatriate community of India students in London, who had charted their first manifesto as “progressive” writers in 1935 in a Chinese restaurant’ (Bharucha 1998:29)
Bharucha, Rustom 1998 In the Name of the Secular: Contemporary Cultural Activision in Inidia Delhi: Oxford UP
Ibrahim al-Marashi was the guy whose article was plagiarised from the Middle East Review by Blair and Labour in 2003 to justify the start of the second Iraq war against Saddam. al-Marashi complained about not being cited properly, and one hopes, much else. It seems he went on to be a pretty cool history professor if you go by the comments on Rate My Professor: here.
Ten years since the invasion of Iraq, what is the state of the anti-war movement?
TriContinental Anti-Imperialist Platform
TriContinental Anti-Imperialist Platform is a newly set up organisation that seeks to champion the causes of the peoples of the GlobalSouth through GlobalSouth Diaspora leadership for people-centred progress and the central challenges to the GlobalSouth which remains western military and cultural hegemony. On the panel at this event will be spokepersons of some of the countries and people impacted by imperialist wars. We will be reflecting on the failures, successes of the anti-war movement of the last decade, and the continuing challenges of the anti-war movement, especially in the light of the collapse of the anti-war movement especially in relation to the nato war on Libya, now Syria, Mali, Algeria and open imperialist war strategies of in relation to China, Russia (“pivot to Asia”) and other sections of the Global South which what passes as the anti-war movement in england fails utterly to address.
Details from We are Baba Ahmad campaign:
Emergency Protest in support of Babar Ahmad and Syed Talha Ahsan on Thursday 4th and Friday 5th October 2012
Thursday 4th October 2012
The ‘We Are Babar Ahmad Campaign’ along with partner organisations, is holding a protest outside the Royal Courts of Justice on Thursday 4th and Friday 5th October from 10am asking for an immediate stay of extradition for Syed Talha Ahsan and Babar Ahmad.
As the Judges decide on representations from the lawyers of both men, it is important to note that their cases are very different from the others. Both are British Citizens accused of wrongdoing in Britain who have been held collectivey in maximum security prisons for 14 years without trial nor with any evidence being presented to them. The Home Affairs Select Committe which reviewed their cases has expressed grave concern. Boris Johnson, The Mayor of London has backed their right to be tried in Britain.
Dr Ismail Jalisi, speaking on behalf of ‘We Are Babar Ahmad’, said, “The extradition of these men to the United States must be stopped by the Home Secretary. The incarceration of these two men without trial and then carting them off to a country that does not need to provide any prima facie evidence even when it agrees that the allegations are based on actions that occurred here in Britain is quite frankly farcical.”
The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) declared in July 2004 and December 2006, as did the UK Attorney General Lord Goldsmith in September 2006, that there was ‘insufficient evidence’ to charge Babar Ahmad with any criminal offence in the UK. Since then in 2011 the CPS revealed for the first time that evidence had been sent to the US without ever having been reviewed by them. The Director of Public Prosecution has refused to prosecute the men despite being able to call on the Metropolitan Police to show them evidence that it deliberately witheld and sent straight to the United States.
As the Judges determine whether a stay of extradition should be granted to Babar and Talha the Shadow Justice Secretary, Sadiq Khan MP has backed the campaign saying “If there is evidence against them they should be tried in the UK”.
Partners for the protest include: Stop The War, Muslim Council of Britain, London Transport Region – RMT, Enough Coalition, IHRC, Cage Prisoners, British Muslim Initiative, Muslim Association of Britain, Friends of Al Aqsa, Islamic Forum Europe, Muslim Safety Forum, iEngage and MDUK.
Details from the Free Tahla Ahsan Campaign site [now slightly dated, since extradition is immanent, see above]:
Talha Ahsan is a British-born poet and writer with Asperger syndrome facing extradition to America.
If convicted he will spend 70 years in “supermax” solitary confinement in ADX Florence.
Read on and help stop this injustice.
Who is Talha Ahsan?
Talha Ahsan is a British citizen born in London in 1979. He was educated at Dulwich College before receiving first class honours in Arabic from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS). In the week of his arrest he had job interviews to train as a librarian. His mother describes him as “a serious, bookish young man… a very gentle, softly spoken and thoughtful boy.”
Talha has Asperger Syndrome (a form of autism). In a medico legal report of June 2009, a consultant psychiatrist described him as “an extremely vulnerable individual who from a psychiatric perspective would be more appropriately placed in a specialist service for adults with autistic disorders.”
He is also a keen poet and has received acclaim from novelist A.L. Kennedy amongst others.
Why is he in prison?
Talha Ahsan was arrested at his home on 19 July 2006 in response to a request from the USA under the Extradition Act 2003 which does not require the presentation of any prima facie evidence. He is accused in the US of terrorism-related offences arising out of an alleged involvement over the period of 1997-2004 with the Azzam series of websites, one of which happened to be located on a server in America.
He has never been arrested or questioned by British police, despite a number of men being so from his local area in December 2003 for similar allegations. All of them were released without charge.
One of them, Babar Ahmad, was later compensated £60,000 by the Metropolitan police after a civil case in March 2009 for the violent physical abuse during his arrest. It was evidence from this incident which formed the basis of Talha’s arrest two and a half years later.
Talha is currently making a final appeal to the European Courts of Human Rights (ECHR). He has now served the equivalent of a 12 year sentence at high security prisons without trial. He has never visited America. He denies all charges.
What is ‘Supermax’?
Imagine being confined in a 75.5sq feet cell with only a concrete slab and a thin mattress for a bed for 23 to 24 hours a day for every day of your life – the only window three inches wide looking out to a concrete pit…
This is the prospect Talha faces if extradited and convicted in the US – life without parole in solitary confinement at ADX Florence, Colorado.
Virtually all of an ADX prisoner’s daily activities occur within the confines of his single cell. Food is delivered through a slot in the door, and he eats his meals alone. He receives educational and religious programming – and some medical care – through a black and white television in his cell. When an inmate is moved outside his cell, he is shackled behind the back, and subject to a strip search.
His cell window looks out onto the concrete pit that serves as an outdoor recreation area. The sun is never visible. Prisoners at ADX rarely have contact with any other living thing, except the gloved hands of the correctional officers. Prisoners never touch soil, see plant life or view the surrounding mountains.
Prisoners in ADX receive one 15 minute social telephone call per month. Any call that is “accepted” (even by an answering machine) is considered “completed” regardless of the duration. Visits with family members are separated by a glass screen with only a telephone to speak through. The inmate is shackled throughout the visit.
In 2006, the U.N. Committee Against Torture expressed concern about “prolonged isolation periods” and “the extremely harsh regime” in US Supermax prisons. It is little wonder that the former warden of ADX Florence described the prison as a ‘clean version of hell.’
What do his supporters want?
Talha deserves freedom or a fair trial in the UK. He has received a wide coalition of support. They include his local MP and shadow justice secretary Sadiq Khan; novelist, A L Kennedy; former Guantanamo detainee, Moazzam Begg, and the civil rights organisation, Scotland Against Criminalising Communities (SACC).
The Government accepts the possibility for the case to be resolved by a domestic prosecution as the ECtHR highlights in their admissibility judgement of July 2010. In November 2011, his co-defendant, Babar Ahmad, initiated a parliamentary debate with over 149,000 signatures in an e-petition for a UK trial demonstrating the will of the British public for these cases. There are many legal precedents to try these charges in the UK.
One case is R v. Sheppard and Whittle (January 2010), in which the appellants were charged with possession, publication and distribution of racially inflammatory material on websites hosted in California. Lord Justice Scott Baker ruled the UK was the appropriate forum for prosecution as the substantial measure of activities constituting the crime, such as the writing and maintenance of the websites, took place in the UK.
The Home Secretary should also give special consideration to his medical condition. In the USA 97% of defendants plead guilty under pressure from prosecutors. A decision to try Talha in the US will only ensure his trial is as unfair as prosecutors can make it.
How does this affect me?
The Extradition Act 2003 devalues the sovereignty of British citizenship. It was fast-tracked into UK legislation without proper scrutiny. Under the current provisions, British judges have no opportunity to decide which country is more suitable for prosecution and nor can they assess the quality of evidence from the requesting state.
In June 2011 the cross-party Joint Committee on Human Rights called for the implementation of a ‘most appropriate forum’ safeguard. This would allow a British judge to refuse extradition where the alleged offence took place wholly or largely in the UK.
The committee of MPs and peers also recommended that the Government ‘urgently’ renegotiate the US-UK extradition treaty to exclude granting requests in cases where the UK prosecution authorities have already decided not to investigate the individual on the same evidence adduced by the US authorities. These calls were reinforced by a cross-party consensus after parliamentary debates in November and December 2011, as well as the Home Affairs Committee report on extradition in March 2012.
A country that has demonstrated such a flagrant disregard for human rights in recent years is not the proper forum for justice. David Blunkett, the home secretary who was responsible for the act, now expresses regret at its consequences. Any concerned British citizen must work against such a law.
Students, lecturers, admin workers and anybody else interested in education are invited to join a new group aiming to research and take action around the current conditions in the education sector. In the wake of the UK Border Agency’s revocation of London Met’s Highly Trusted Sponsor Status and consequent plans to deport potentially thousands of international students along with further plans for privatisation across the sector, we propose to investigate and take action around the changing nature of the education in the UK since the abolition of the EMA and mass increase of university tuition fees in 2010. We aim to draw together student, parent, and education workers’ experiences as well as available data in order to produce and disseminate as accurate a picture as possible of the current state and trends in higher education in the UK. We do so in support of and solidarity with current and future struggles in education. Our next meeting is on Wednesday 26th September at 6.30pm at London Met Holloway Road campus (the tower building next to Holloway Road tube station). Here is a link:http://www.londonmet.ac.uk/about/buildings/tower-building.cfm
Anybody interested in participating should contact: contact.edu.comm[at]gmail.com. This project has been initiated by Plan C London, it is however open to individuals and groups to get involved.
This is despicable:
Well well, profiled as welfare scrounger drug addict illegal Indian layabouts. The sensitive and thoughtful UKBA (DisUnited kingdom border agency) again doing its utmost to reveal the seamier side of enforced poverty in the so-called welfare state. ‘We are all in this together’ – so detain and deport. Its pogrom-bait. I don’t recall, say, Alex from Blur, getting done for drug-use (‘cheese’ is just a metaphor) and of course am so enamored by the even-handed approach to other students, like the Internationals at the MET. Clearly this item is a teaser to set another theme for the PROTEST AGAINST THE UKBA on friday.
Rest of the story from the BBC with video here.
PROTEST AGAINST THE UKBA on friday.
From London Met UCU:
London Met – Defend Our Students – London Demonstration Friday 28/9
London Met UCU, London Met Unison, and London Met SU have called a London-wide mobilisation and march from ULU (Malet Street) to the Home Office (Marsham Street, Victoria) for Friday 28th Sept. Assembling at Malet Street for 1pm. Under the banner: ‘Amnesty Now – Save London Met – No to Privatisation’. This initiative is supported by London Region UCU, and University of London Union (ULU).
This Friday (21/9) the High Court will consider granting an immediate injunction (an effective ‘stay’) in favour of London Met Uni and against the UK Border Agency (UKBA). Such an injunction should allow for a full Judicial Review of the UKBA’s decision to revoke London Met’s Highly Trusted Sponsor (HTS) Tier-4 licence – an action that has condemned over 2,500 of our students to either forced university transfer or deportation.
However, even if an injunction is granted it will only be a temporary reprieve until the outcome of the Judicial Review itself – which is expected to take at least several months to be heard. Meanwhile, our license to recruit international students is still suspended, our current international students are still in limbo – particularly if they have more than this academic year to complete, and our courses/jobs still threatened.
If an injunction is not granted then we will be in the fight of our lives – not only for all our international students against an immediate and very real deportation threat but for the very survival of London Met as a public university.
We are refusing to sit on the sidelines and by mere observers of our destiny as others shape it. We are therefore fighting as hard as we can for our students, our university, and for real justice. We will have much more chance of winning that fight with your support and solidarity – as wonderfully expressed during last Friday’s UK-wide solidarity events.
Last week’s TUC Congress in Brighton unanimously supported the call for an immediate amnesty for our students
We now need your support once more – particularly, if you are based in London. We want as many trade union banners as possible on next week’s march/demonstration – along with as many colleagues as you can bring. This is not just a fight for London Met – this is a fight for public education as a whole.
Please send messages of support to mark.campbell_home [at] btopenworld.com
London Metropolitan University UCU (Chair)
UCU National Executive Committee (London and the East HE)
SERTUC Public Services Committee (Vice-Chair)