New Internationalist

Letters

Issue 107

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[image, unknown] LETTERS

[image, unknown] DISARMAMENT[image, unknown]

Cartoon by R. K. Laxman. Nuclear collusion
I’m writing in response to Geraint Evans’ letter (NI No. 105) suggesting that by banning the import of raw materials essential for the production of nuclear arms we will prevent or discourage would-be producers. This may well be so.

But Mr. Evans has stumbled onto something much larger and of more significance for our survival. If you look into the principle behind this proposition you will realise how easily we can take positive steps to limit the production of arms.

As you are reading this letter, thousands of people are supplying components for weapons and constructing them. Our inaction gives them permission to carry on setting the stage for another world war. The fact that the war machine continues is evidence that we are not concerned enough to take positive steps towards ensuring our own survival.

When we refuse to permit ‘the company down the road’ to supply components for making weapons and look upon the armies of the world with disgust, then we will have taken responsibility for our destiny. Without our support the men who plan to destroy us are powerless.

R. Rymer
Horsforth
Leeds, UK

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[image, unknown] COMMUNITY ACTION[image, unknown]

Where the real action is
Your issue talked about the virtues of community action (NI No. 106). It all sounded very bland. Why didn’t you mention the outright violence in the Third World which keeps people so passive? Experience from the largest democracy in the world’ —India — shows that if people start taking their freedom too literally they are liable to be beaten to death for their presumption.

One young Harijan recently walked through his village in Rajasthan with his moustaches twirled up. He was killed by an angry mob of upper caste villagers for such upstart behaviour.

I don’t know whether it is promising or depressing that figures from the Report of the Commissioner for Scheduled Castes and Tribes 1978-9 show that atrocities on Harijans and Adivasis increased from 6,197 in 1976 to 15,053 by 1979. Perhaps we should be excited at figures showing that centuries of caste repression are now being sloughed off.

David Parker
Wokingham
Surrey, UK

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Apple pie amnesia
Self-help, self-reliance. Like apple pie and motherhood both sides of the political spectrum are in favour of it. For the right it embodies those old-fashioned Protestant virtues of rugged independence, hard work and freedom. For the left it involves unseating the Establishment and seeing the oppressed have a fair share of the national cake.

Too bad there are notes which obscure the collective vision of both political positions. The Right forgets about hierarchical business structures and manipulations by international corporations. The Left seldom sees the tyrannies of elitist government parties and bureaucrats.

Denise Arrowsmith
Milton Keynes
Buckinghamshire
UK

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[image, unknown] SRI LANKA[image, unknown]

The last word

I would like to congratulate the New Internationalist team for the press cutting feature on pages 16 and 17 of the November magazine (NI No 105)

It was simple — but it said all that needed to be said. Why bother with the articles?

James MacManus
Aberdeen
Scotland, UK

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Jabs for the boys
I was very interested to read your article about Depo-Provera in November’s New Internationalist (NI No. 105).

It struck me that the side effects associated with Depo— headaches, weight gain, nausea, depression, loss of sexual drive — are exactly the same as those documented for experiments with the male pill.

Such side effects were sufficient to discourage experiments with male hormone contraception, but are described as ‘minor’ when such drugs are recommended for womens’ use.

Judith Patterson
Salisbury
WiItshire, UK

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Volunteer breakdown
In the last 12 months there have been many stories about emergency relief supplies being held up for lack of spare parts and motor mechanics.

So I decided I wanted to help. I spent day after day visiting and ‘phoning the head charities in the UK offering my services as a qualified mechanic with experience of the Third World and relief work. I offered to go to disaster areas as a volunteer — all they had to do was get me there and provide food and shelter, I didn’t demand great sums of money, I just want a chance to help.

After several rejections, such as ‘Sorry, nothing to do with us. We’ve supplied the vehicles. Its up to the local governments to maintain them’, I got more and more frustrated.

I wonder sometimes whether I’ll ever be able to help. Perhaps I should buy my own ticket and arrive on the doorstep. I’m sure I’d soon find plenty to do.

When there are qualified and experienced people such as myself willing and available, I don’t understand why there is an outcry for assistance. Can it really be that the charitable organisations can’t be bothered to take advantage of us?

Keith Wood
Davyhulme
Manchester, UK

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Signs of solidarity
May I take this opportunity to invite your readers to send Christmas and New Year greetings to the banned and banished and the families of political prisoners and those who have been executed or murdered in detention in South Africa and Namibia.

For the hundreds of victims of Apartheid laws such greetings are both welcomed and appreciated. Please write to us for a list of names and addresses enclosing a stamped addressed envelope.

Abdul Minty
Anti-Apartheid movement
89 Charlotte Street
London W1PD 2DQ, UK

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Still suffering
In Neerja Chowdhury’s valuable review of the Indian judicial system (NI No. 105) we are told that in 80 per cent of criminal cases the accused are let off because there are no eye-witnesses.

My Calcutta lawyer states that about 60 per cent of all cases brought by the police are dismissed — but only after a delay of three to four years. Impoverished prisoners cannot be released on bail during this period. However, the West Bengal authorities have announced that no prisoner now awaiting trial in their prisons has been detained for a period longer than the sentence appropriate to the alleged crime.

It is not only lack of eye-witnesses that results in acquittal. Crimes which were never committed and crimes committed by persons other than the accused obviously lead to some acquittals.

But perhaps it is not known that the prison population in India includes witnesses imprisoned pending trial of the accused to ensure the witnesses’ availability at the eventual trial? And are people outside India aware that girls intent on ‘love-marriage’ are confined in the Presidency Jail in Calcutta on the initiative of their parents to ensure they make a suitable marriage later?

The conditions to which Indian under-trial prisoners are subjected have to be experienced to be believed. Released on expensive bail from Alipore Special Jail in Calcutta after only nine days imprisonment I am — three and a half months later — still trying to cure the amoebic dysentery which began four days after my release.

Jack Preger
Calcutta
India

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Corso comment
In your October issue, (NI No. 104), Tony Ford comments on ‘The Tour’ issue in New Zealand and finishes by saying that ‘Corso and similar NGOs have been holding back on the rugby tour debate’.

Nothing could be further from the truth in the case of Corso.

On 16 March, Corso issued a strong news release condemning the proposed tour and the system of apartheid.

In late May the Prime Minister, Mr Muldoon, held a news conference in which he read a letter which I had written to the UN Committees on Apartheid urging a change in the venue for the Commonwealth Finance Ministers Conference from Auckland should the tour proceed. The Prime Minister attacked Corso strongly and received widespread news coverage.

Corso Chairperson, John L’Estrange, then responded by accusing the Prime Minister of diverting public opinion from his own Government’s ineptitude on the affair. And finally the Editorial in Corso’s September Overview labelled the Government ‘gutless’ on the tour issue.

Many Corso staff and members took part in the demonstrations and some of us still bear the scars and pains of the struggle.

Toby Truell
General Secretary
Corso
Wellington
New Zealand

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Regarding IRIS
I view IRIS (International Reporting Information System) with great suspicion (NI No. 106). It appears to be nothing less than a multinationals’ early-warning system, organised after they were caught with their pants down over Iran.

It advises businesses when to pull out of a country that might bring in a change of government or laws prejudicial to them.

From this point, it is only a short step to Frederick Forsyth’s scenario in ‘The Dogs of War’ where mercenaries were hired by a multinational company to topple a regime which wanted to nationalise its country’s minerals — a scenario echoed in the recent Seychelles escapade.

KR. Pearman
Cardiff
Wales, UK

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