Evil under the sun
Whilst NI deserves credit for tackling the massive subject of torture throughout the world, it is a great pity that your map of ‘Evil under the sun’ (NI 327), based as it was on Amnesty International’s 1999 data, is so full of omissions.
A glaring case in point is Iran, to which all 9 incriminating symbols are applicable, yet it only received 3. Particularly regrettable is the absence of the little blue figures symbolizing brutalization of children, an area in which this regime, which practices 174 different kinds of torture, is a world leader.
Boys in their thousands continue to be recruited every year into the Islamic paramilitary forces and played a key role in suppressing the mass student uprising of July 1999. During this same uprising, scores of schoolchildren as young as 13 and 14 were bussed off to already overflowing prisons, from which many have still to this day not returned.
. children are imprisoned
with their parents .
Iran is the country of chillingly specific laws and fatwas against the families of so-called ‘enemies of God’, inciting the Iranian public to torture, rape and even kill ‘infidel’ children. There are plenty of cases today of children being imprisoned with their parents, where they might be subjected to torture and rape under the heading of ta azir, ‘purification’; or they might end up in a children’s prison, another Iranian speciality, or on the streets.
Neither Amnesty nor the UN High Commission are allowed inside Iran, which may account for gaps in their data. So please, dear NI readers, paint Iran’s thousands of brutalized children into the map at once, plus all the other missing symbols.
Iran Aid Support Committee
Ed: There are undoubtedly other such cases which our map did not highlight. Based on Amnesty’s Report 2000 which covers data for 1999, it acknowledged problems of limited access to reliable information about torture (which most governments attempt to keep hidden) and suggested the situation could be worse in some cases.
You, like every other political person (including many who are bisexual), lump bisexuals together with lesbians, gays and transgenders as a minority (Out South NI 328). However, the majority of bis do not consider themselves bi. Only a short time ago, a married woman declared that she made love only to her girlfriend (other than her husband) and that didn’t count! Many people don’t discover their love for their own sex until they are 40 and older. Which is more important: what people do or what they say they are? If you conducted a survey for people older than sixty, you might find that the majority had had sex at least once with someone of the same gender, making them bisexual in my book. And you might find that the rest had at least wondered about it.
Your article ‘Impact of angels’ (NI 326) angered me with its sweeping generalizations. The author allies Western NGOs in Africa with the IMF and World Bank as part of some covert re-colonization programme. I have no doubt that some NGOs have made mistakes in their methods. But what about organizations under the Jubilee 2000 banner who have been campaigning tirelessly for Third World Debt Relief, and coming up against heavy opposition from both the IMF and World Bank? If their campaign is not about long-term development, with the aim to make African and other highly indebted countries economically autonomous and self-reliant, then I do not know what is. Jubilee 2000 clearly states that the finances freed up from debt relief should be closely monitored and distributed by NGOs – not Western NGOs but NGOs from within each indebted country. The author turns the whole Western world with all its multiple and competing forces and ideologies into a unified colonial bugbear. This is as crudely inaccurate as the blinkered view about which Chris Brazier writes: ‘Africa is reduced to one single, terrible reality: violence’.
Referring back to your superior pesticide reporting (NI 323), your readers would want to know that cut flowers are among the products most highly contaminated with pesticides. The flower has become a poisonous gift: from the women who work in the industry, whose health and that of their children has been compromised; to the imported flowers which must be free of insects, fungi, etc at the borders; to the soil which is forever contaminated by the production of these flowers; to the ozone layer diminished by methyl bromide use; to the rivers and lakes drained for the highly intensive irrigation; to the agricultural loss in developing countries where food is sacrificed for export commodities…
The flower has become
a poisonous gift
How many people who are careful to eat organic meals have adorned their tables with the ‘snow white’ fillings of their flower vases? In the United States a greenhouse cannot be replaced without also excavating the soil beneath it, due to the use of chemicals. First World entrepreneurs have taken their market expansion to Third World fields where the chemical regulations are less strict or less enforced. The good news is that there is a ‘green label’ (Florverde) but it is little known in the US market.
Your issue on Pan-Africanism (NI 326) included comment by US Assistant Secretary of State Susan Rice. Ms Rice seems to be propagating the views of her white American bosses in the State Department. As always with the US Government, the political, cultural and trade interests of the United States are paramount.
Ms Rice mentions Africa’s young, who she appears to hope will become, like many millions of youth around the world, the prey of the ‘Coca-Cola’ cultural imperialism of US media and multinationals with their message of consumerism and corporate greed.
How do I know, as an Australian, that the aim of the US is to ‘Americanize’ African culture and gain control of the business sector (and through that, politically influence African governments)? Because that is the way Australia is today after many years of heavy American influence.
We have just received the terrible news that Tristan, the grandson of Jenny James (‘Letter from Colombia’ contributor NI 295 - 300) has been kidnapped and possibly killed in the area of Hoya Grande, Tolima, Colombia.
Tristan was 18. He was about to come to Ireland, but first went into a dangerous area to say goodbye to friends. He disappeared at night, along with a Colombian boy, Javier, who has also been part of our group.
We have tried everything possible to get more information about what happened. But as is the custom in fear-ridden Colombia, no-one will talk.
Jenny has gone on Colombian TV appealing for any information, and has said publicly she believes they are both dead. She has had to fight against the media not to let them use this tragedy against the FARC (the guerilla group who control that area), as there is no information that indicates their involvement. However, they are responsible for security in that area, and suspicion is pointed at a local group ‘Los Chaparales’.
Jenny and Anne are in Bogotá doing everything possible and making as much fuss in the media as possible, but have stated clearly that their deaths are not to be used to justify the US involvement in its so-called concern for Colombia – ‘Plan Colombia’.
We are appealing to you in this time of terrible tragedy within our own group to support Jenny and Anne, in whatever way you can.
If you can send them any donation for help with all the investigative work and cost of phone calls etc we would be so grateful. Or even just write to Jenny and support her in this very difficult time.
Her address: AA 241858, Bogotá, Colombia, S America.
If you can send a donation, it’s best to send a bank draft made payable to:-
Fundacion Atlantis Colombia.
Atlantis Affinity Group and Irish branch of the Colombian Radical Action Campaign
I saw the drawing of the ‘Festival for Democracy’ in a recent issue of your magazine (NI 324). I liked it. Then my mother told me that a man named David Solnit, a puppet-maker, was arrested when he came to Windsor, Canada in June to protest against the Organization of American States. The people who arrested him thought he was dangerous.
My question is: if a puppet is really light, how can it hurt someone? How can someone that makes puppets hurt anyone when he is busy making puppets?
Andabu Brownhill (aged 8 1/2)