Monday, 31 August 2020

Climate Not Trident


As a weapons system designed for the Cold War, the case for Trident is non-existent in 2020.
Nuclear weapons are wrong – strategically, morally and financially. Yet, despite peoples long-standing opposition to their obscene presence, MPs inside the House of Commons decided the UK will renew its nuclear deterrent system writing a blank cheque to base another generation of nuclear weapons in Scotland’s waters.
But CND believe Britain should not possess a weapon whose only purpose is to threaten the whole of humanity. Each warhead has 8 times the explosive power of the bomb that destroyed the Japanese city of Hiroshima in 1945. That bomb alone vaporised human flesh within a half mile radius and fatally burned thousands miles from the epicentre.of mass destruction. Instead of the billions of pounds squandered the cost could be better spent on infrastructure, education, combating climate change and helping fund the NHS without threatening the lives of othersBritain, let's not forget is a signatory to the Nuclear Non- Proliferation Treaty, and gas made an unequivocal undertaking to accomplish the total elimination of its nuclear arsenal, but the decision to replace Trrident would run counter to our Treaty commitments, cost billions of pounds, escalate, rather than secure, Britain's real security.
As MPs return to parliament tomorrow. Let's make sure that the first thing they have think about is the existential threats of nuclear weapons and climate change.
Write to your MP to raise concerns about the existential threats of climate change and nuclear war
Nuclear annihilation and climate catastrophe are the two biggest threats to human existence. This has been confirmed by the atomic scientists that maintain the Doomsday Clock: this year its hands were set at 100 seconds to midnight.

Britain should be a world-leader in tackling climate change, but also in the disarming of nuclear weapons, urgent action is needed, as the risk of disaster has never been greater.  Urgent action is needed but our government continues to prioritise war and weapons over the future of our planet.
Write to your MP to raise concerns about the existential threats of climate change and nuclear war.
Urge your MP to put pressure on the government to step up the response to the climate emergency, to stop Trident replacement and to sign the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

Use the following tool to write to your MP now

https://cnd.eaction.org.uk/ClimateNotTridentLobby/search

Friday, 28 August 2020

The Captain Swing Riots



The Captain Swing riots occurred in England during 1830-31  following years of war, high taxes and low wages, farm labourers, especially in the south and east of England, finally snapped These farm labourers had faced progressive impoverishment and unemployment over the previous fifty years due to the widespread introduction of the threshing machine and the policy of enclosing fields, Labourers were often desperate for food and resorted to poaching to try and feed their families with the result that there was a dramatic increase in the crime rate. Various other factors brought matters to a head in 1830; first the Census showed that the population was increasing, secondly the end of Napoleonic Wars added 500,000 men to the labour market and in addition the development of the threshing machine produced widespread loss of employment during the winter months. In addition the harvest was poor and there was persistently bad weather.
No longer were thousands of men needed to tend the crops, a few would suffice. The anger of the rioters was directed at three targets that were seen as the prime source of their misery: the Tithe system, the Poor Law guardians, and the rich tenant farmers who had been progressively lowering wages while introducing agricultural machinery With fewer jobs, lower wages and no prospects of things improving for these workers the threshing machine was the final straw, the object that was to place them on the brink of starvation. The Swing Rioters smashed the threshing machines and threatened farmers who had them.was due to modern threshing machines being introduced into agriculture, the result of which was low wages paid by farmers  which led to the starvation of farm workers where many died as a result of not earning money to buy food for themselves and their families.
Between 1770 and 1830 ,in the Enclosure Acts of rural England no less than a million acres (24,000 km2) of common land were enclosed by rich landowners depriving the common people of ancient rights to use common ground.For centuries this common land had been used by the poor of the countryside to graze their animals and grow their own produce. This land was now divided up among the large local landowners, leaving the landless farm workers dependent upon working for their richer neighbours for a cash wage.
After the Napoleonic wars in 1815 grain prices plummeted. Many farm workers were thrown out of work and at home they faced poverty and the prospect of the workhouse. Farmers would pay their workers as little as possible, knowing that the parish fund would top up wages. Echoes of working tax credits of today.
Another burden was the tithe demanded by the Church of England of a 10th of the harvest to pay the parson a generous wage and the Swing movement demanded a large reduction in these taxes. In parliament Lord Carnarvon had said that ‘The English labourer was reduced to a plight more abject than that of any race in Europe’ Generally the lot of an agricultural labourer was a pretty miserable one.
Social tensions  increased and the labourers naturally rose up, demanding a minimum wage, the end of rural unemployment, tithe and rent reductions. and an end to the threshing machine which destroyed their winter employment. They reinforced their demands with rick-burning, the destruction of the threshing machines and cattle-maiming among other things. The major landowners were concerned for their own farms and due to their influence were able to get military assistance in putting down the riots.
In many places hay ricks were set alight, in some places the protests took on non-violent forms such as church boycotts and walk outs. In Wroughton in Wiltshire the protest amounted to people smoking pipes in the cemetery as a means of getting their point across.
As well as the attacks on the threshing machines the protesters reinforced their demands with wage and tithe riots and by the destruction of objects of their oppression, such as workhouses and agricultural tithe barns During these riots many threshing machines were either dismantled or destroyed entirely.
On the night of August 28 in 1830 in Kent, England a threshing machine was destroyed by angry labourers - the start of the Swing rebellion. Typically a farmer would receive an anonymous note  often signed by "Captain Swing", with the intention of creating fear, telling him that unless he destroyed his threshing machine then his barns, haystacks and house would be burned down, and if they did not cave in, mobs would attack the farms, set them a flame and smash the machines., as a reprisal for the injustices  that were felt.
 By the third week of October, over one hundred threshing machines had been destroyed in East Kent.
There was no centralised organising committee but such was the deep seated feeling of oppression that as news of the troubles spread, there was no shortage of local volunteers to lead or "Captain" his fellow workers. Night after night fires started by roving mobs lit up the countryside. For many farmers, danger and destruction was a matter of when, not if. Understandably,  farmers were frightened by the initial wave of attacks and generally gave in to the demands of the rioting farm workers.This only made the rioters bolder.

                                                              Captain Swing Cartoon
                                                        Image Source British Museum


 .
Farm workers now started confronting farmers asking for higher wages and other improvements to their conditions. Rectors were told to lower tithes by armed gangs. Often their demands were met.
There are many stories of confrontations from all over the county. One at Halnaker near Chisester ended peacefully when the Duke of Richmond told the mob that they should return home and talk later. Another such confrontation in Lancing ended up less happily with the local landowner taking a severe beating.
The riots continued sporadically until 1831 when those arrested were sent or trial. The recriminations were savage and harsh. In Hampshire .the Duke of Wellington established a special commission to deal with rioters and they imposed very severe punishments in order to make example of the offenders On the 18th December the commission met in Great Hall and of the 300 prisoners, 95 were formally sentenced to death (ultimately 6 had the sentence confirmed although 4 were reprieved and only two men were ultimately executed), 68 rioters were sent to prison and a further 69 were  transported. Public opinion was shocked by severity of these sentences, transportation could be for up to 14 years and many of the men never returned to England. In 1835 Lord John Russell pardoned most of the rioters although by then it was too late for many of them.
While there was never any evidence of an organised attempt to overthrow the government, the Captain Swing Riots were  the first large-scale demonstration of agricultural labourers' strength, an expression of their fear and anger by the poorest people in the land.who saw their meagre way of life threatened by new technology. Agitation continued, especially after the 1834 Poor Law Amendment Act. There were no agricultural trade unions because jobs and therefore homes were at stake.Some of the landowners were  actually sympathetic to the plight of the poor, and raised wages or  offered more employment but in general nothing changed until the advent of prosperity in the mid 1850's when manufacturing started to provide employment and draw the population away from rural areas.
The 'Swing' riots did influence the passing of the 1834 Poor Law Amendment Act and the 1836 Tithe Commutation Act,  but wages and conditions did not improve overall or a long time to come. But the Captain Swing Riots served to encourage a wider demand for political reform culminating in a huge step forward for democracy in Britain with the advent of the Representation of the People Act 1832. This act increased the electorate from about 500,000 to 813,000 by allowing almost one in five adult males to vote  but still no women. Demonised at the time as thugs and enemies to progress the Captain Swing protestors had justifiable grievances and were in fact only protesting for a fairer and more prosperous Britain.




Further reading :- 

Captain Swing - Eric Hobsbawn , 1969

Pictured: one of the letters

Captain Swing - Robb Johnson, live Tolpuddle, 2010


Monday, 24 August 2020

If you tolerate this your children will be next - Manic Street Preachers

 

Madrid. The ‘Military’ Practice of the Rebels. If you tolerate this your children will be next. The dead body of a young girl, with numbered labels for identification, against the background of a clouded sky across which aeroplanes fly in formation. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/1122

The Manic Street Preachers released If  You  Tolerate  This Your Children Will Be Next from their massive selling fifth album ‘This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours on this day in 1998 which  managed to reach No 1.The Song is a beautiful and meaningful one  about the Spanish Civil War and the Welshmen who joined the International Brigades to Spain in the 1930s to fight against General Francisco Franco's fascist forces: roughly 200  welshmen went to join the fight, with 33 losing their lives.
All four members of the original band were born and raised in Blackwood, a Rhymney Valley community in South Wales. The 1984-5 miners’ strike had marked their childhood. The cover design for the CD featured a group photograph of the Welsh fighters, members of the ‘volunteers for liberty’, taken before the battle of Ebro in July 1938.


 Welsh Volunteers of the XV International Brigade before the Ebro offensive, 1938 – photo from the South Wales Coalfield Collection at Swansea University

The song lyrics include not only a repeat of the words on the poster in the chorus but also quote the remark allegedly made by one of the Welsh volunteers Tom Thomas from, Bedllinog when asked if he wanted to fight in Spain: ‘If I can shoot rabbits then I can shoot Fascists.’( as quoted in Miners Against Fascism by Hywel Francis, )  and refers to the young idealists who swapped shooting rabbits in  the country side for shooting fascists in the battlefields of Spain.
Another line "I've walked Las Ramblas but not with real intent" brings to mind the account of Georgee Orwell's  first hand account of the war "Homage to Catalonia! and of fighting on the Ramnblas.
The response in Wales was largely provided by the South Wales Miners' Federation and the Communist Party and eventually supported by a broad coalition including the Labour Party, Liberals, some Welsh writers, academics and teachers.
One of the first to recognise the growing threat of fascism was Labour MP Aneurin Bevan who, as early as 1933, formed an anti-fascist workers militia - the Tredegar Workers' Freedom Group.
The 200-or-so Welsh men who volunteered to fight in Spain represented the largest regional industrial grouping within the British Battalion of the International Brigades; only one Welshman fought for the fascist forces led by General Franco.
They were Communist or Labour in sympathy, largely from the central valleys of the Rhondda, Cynon and Taff although there were also volunteers from the north Wales coalfield, the coastal towns of the south and rural areas.
Some became famous in later life as trade union leaders, notably Will Paynter and Tom Jones, known subsequently as Twm Sbaen throughout the labour movement.
The title of the song comes from a harrowing  recruiting poster created and released by the newly formed Propaganda Ministry of the Spanish Republican government in November 1936 that showed images of carnage caused by Francos's Nationalists..Possibly the most famous poster from the Spanish Civil War in Britain, the broader European threat is once more a salient theme in Madrid: The ‘Military’ Practice of the Rebels. Circulated in Britain and France, this poster also directly confronts the audience with the dangers of European fascism and total warfare. The subtitle, ‘If you tolerate this your children will be next’, as used as title for the Manic's song  addresses the viewer with a call to arms, this threat to the children of Britain reinforced by the death of a Spanish girl. The bombers in the background fly in formation to the top left of the poster, or to the northwest of Spain, towards British shores. The planes are, however, not the central focus of this poster. The image of child ‘4–21: 35’, once more taken from ¡Asesinos!, may at first look not to be dead; she is ‘facing’ the camera, almost looking out. On closer examination, the reality of the image and its implications with regards to this new form of warfare are realised by the viewer. This photograph provides the ‘ce n’est pas ça’ of that which has been lost and is now absent, through the inability of the dead girl to return the look of the viewer. The text, though, reiterates ‘reality’ or ‘thereness’ – the ‘ça’ of the situation cannot be ignored, this is happening – and adds the secondary messages of propaganda of agitation: a call to arms in order to protect the basic needs of the people, in this instance, security.
For many it was not just a war to defeat the fascists it was the beginning of a new society. A revolution in fact, unfortunately revolutions do not succeed when the people are divided. There are many lessons to be learnt from this struggle, a struggle that continues to do this day. What the world did or refrained from doing had terrible consequences. Britain and France helped Franco indirectly and Germany and Italy directly. Later came Russia. No country (Except for Mexico perhpas) took side with the legitime government. What happened next was WWII and we all know how that went. So if you tolerate this your children will be next (And in fact they were).
Lets not forget all those who were killed serving with the International Brigades who nobly fought bravely in a spirit of solidarity, and political and moral awareness to try and save us from fascism's threat that still sadly lingers and haunts us  today.The dark shadow cast by the Spanish Civil war, still matters, and the wound inflicted on Spain still within living memory for many has yet to close.
Thia powerful song serves to remind  us that we must continue to resist oppressive forces, with our shout of no pasaran and remember to stand for something , otherwise you will fall for anything.

 If you tolerate this your children will be next. - Manic Street Preachers



The future teaches you to be alone
The present to be afraid and cold
"So if I can shoot rabbits then I can shoot fascists"

Bullets for your brain today
But we'll forget it all again
Monuments put from pen to paper
Turns me into a gutless wonder

And if you tolerate this then your children will be next
And if you tolerate this then your children will be next
Will be next, will be next, will be next

Gravity keeps my head down
Or is it maybe shame
At being so young and being so vain

Holes in your head today
But I'm a pacifist
I've walked La Ramblas but not with real intent

And if you tolerate this then your children will be next
And if you tolerate this then your children will be next
Will be next, will be next, will be next, yeah will be next

And on the street tonight
An old man plays with newspaper cuttings of his glory days
And if you tolerate this then your children will be next
And if you tolerate this then your children will be next
Will be next, will be next, will be next

Under the Influence



Music - (noun):The glue that's holding this chaos together. A universal language recognised by all sentient beings.

Music releases comfort, cancels out the dark, non sectarian, flies over walls, liberating minds with pulse of freedom, when life is crap can soothe.Releasing satori breath, without cancelling anger. At home I still play my old records, that take me to uncontrolled steeples heights, punk, jazz and blues, some reggae and soul,psychedelic adventurers, world music cosmanauts, celtic flowers spinning with benediction. Waves of now in deep communication.

Entrapping time, drowning misunderstanding, in magical perfume, atoms of infinity. supplicants of memory, returning me to,gardens of youth. Round and round, paint the sky, with saluted cadence, discharging smiles, floods of necessity, time capsules of electricity, cicada's voice rumbles on, ringing out loud, doubling horizon, opening windows of perception, rhythms endless stream, resurrecting and carrying.

Transistors of heart's beat, that feed my faith,among pastures of endurity, tides that release our dancing feet, floating on rivers of delight. Oceans of sound,melding endlessly in gracious flight, releasing the blossom of chords and notes, enough to sustain and warm as melodies and songs continue to explode on tonque.

Music can collectively unite us all Where war has raged, people need everything to return to life: food, water, shelter, clothing, medicine. But more than anything, people need hope. To reconcile, people need empathy. To heal, people need connection and community.

Music creates empathy, builds connection, can convey important messages and ideals that people can truly listen to, that gives hope allowing people to come together and become powerful forces for change. The music of change is blowing through all Continents. Soak it in.

Saturday, 22 August 2020

Happy Birthday Ray Bradbury (22/08/20 - 5/6/12) - Everyone must leave something behind.


Ray Bradbury, known for his imaginative and evocative tales of Martian lands and sinister carnival characters, was born  100 years ago today.In his lifetime Bradbury wrote hundreds of stories, a number of screenplays, and over two dozen novels,of subtle genius including The Martian Chronicles, The Illustrated Man, Dandelion Wine,and I sing the body electric. earning Bradbury a place within the canon of modern Western literature. Long have I been an admirer of his work. Here is a link to a piece I wrote  several years ago when I heard about his death , :-https://teifidancer-teifidancer.blogspot.co.uk/2012/06/ray-bradbury-220828-5612-rip-something.html A beautiful, writer, of gentle, probing, persuasive thought best known as a science fiction author, Ray Bradbury’s writing was courageous and visionary, combining poignant social criticism..
His  novel Farenheit 451, which came out in 1953 at the height of the “Red Scare” period most memorably exemplified by Senator Joseph McCarthy’s vicious, witch hunt against supposed communists and communist sympathizers which included attempts to remove suspect books from public libraries. This was also the period of the Hollywood blacklist, with many actors, directors, and screenwriters being banned from working on Hollywood films or television. Although Bradbury has said that the book-burnings in Fahrenheit 451 were inspired by the 1933 Nazi book-burnings, he was much more likely inspired by the censorship that accompanied the Red Scare of his own era.
Set in a bleak, dystopian future,where we find Guy Montag, the main protoganist, a fireman,whose main focus isn’t to fight fires, but to start them. In order to control information and its dissemination, the government has banned books. Anyone found in possession of them is subject to having their house burned to the ground by the fire department.
In his world, where television rules and literature is on the brink of extinction, firemen start fires rather than put them out. His job is to destroy the most illegal of commodities, the printed book, along with the houses in which they are hidden. Montag never questions the destruction and ruin his actions produce, returning each day to his bland life and wife, Mildred, who spends all day with her television “family.” But then he meets an eccentric young neighbor one Clarisse McClennan , who introduces him to a past where people didn’t live in fear and to a present where one sees the world through the ideas in books instead of the mindless chatter of television.
When Mildred attempts suicide and Clarisse suddenly disappears, Montag begins to question everything he has ever known.He  become disillusioned with the societal distractions his wife had engaged in and  becomes fascinated with the people who hide and defend the books he is ordered to destroy. As such, he begins secretly hoarding books from the houses he is sent to destroy.Towards the end, Montag is befriended by individuals who have been labeled outcasts for their love of books and knowledge. Montag is speaking with one of them, named Granger, who delivers the following message :

"Everyone must leave something behind when he dies, my grandfather said. A child or a book or a painting or a house or a wall built or a pair of shoes made. Or a garden planted. Something your hand touched some way so your soul has somewhere to go when you die, and when people look at that tree or that flower you planted, you're there.
It doesn't matter what you do, he said, so long as you change something from the way it was before you touched it into something that's like you after you take your hands away.It doesn't matter what you do, he said, so long as you change something from the way it was before you touched it into something that's like you after you take your hands away. The difference between the man who just cuts lawns and a real gardener is in the touching, he said. The lawn-cutter might just as well not have been there at all; the gardener will be there a lifetime....


- Ray Bradbury - Farenheit 451.

This end signified a turning point from hoplessness to hope, but the message of the book still powerfully acts today as a warning, teaching us not to accept what we are told is right or wrong as governments around the globe today continue today to suppress knowledge and the free flow of information. We  must keep on clinging to the freedom to read, the freedom of ideas, and the freedom of communication.
The gardeners to  be remembered, leaving their marks of unfettered imagination, seeds of the future to be forever  cherished and treasured. Everyone must leave something behind! Happy birthday, Ray Bradbury.

Friday, 21 August 2020

Stop Arming Israel : National Day of Action

 

Palestinian rights campaigners will gather across Britain on Saturday to protest against this country’s complicity in arming Israel.
The day of action comes on the sixth anniversary of Israel’s 51-day bombardment of the Gaza Strip, which killed 2,200 people — nearly a quarter of them children.
Israeli forces attacked densely populated civilian areas, destroying 18,000 residential units and leaving over 100,000 Palestinians homeless.
Despite widespread condemnation of Israel’s deliberate and systematic targeting of the civilian population of Gaza, including by the United Nations, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, Britain continues to arm Israel. According to Campaign against Arms Trade (CAAT) between 2014 and 2018, the UK issued individual licenses for £364 million worth of military equipment and technology for export to Israel, as well as 20 open licenses, allowing unlimited deliveries over a 3-5 year period. In addition, the UK continues to purchase high-tech weaponry from Israel, advertised as battle-tested on the Palestinian people. As Israel continues to murder Palestinians with impunity, Palestinian civil society has called for effective action to hold Israel to account, including for a two-way arms embargo now.
But the chain of complicity runs deeper than the government. As revealed by research that shows both UK universities and local government pension funds invest in companies complicit in Israel’s war crimes, including companies that supply weapons to Israel.
In addition, financial institutions such as HSBC invest and provide financial services worth millions to companies that supply Israel with weapons. Including BAE Systems and Raytheon. Weapons with both BAE and Raytheon components were used in 2014. All institutions have a moral duty to end their complicity now. They must all #StopArmingIsrael
Meanwhile, the latest Israeli military offensive has now been pounding Gaza with air strikes and artillery for more than 10 days.Israel uses military force to maintain its oppression of Palestinians. It targets people with tear gas grenades, rubber-coated bullets and live ammunition, and carries out mass arrests, house demolitions and extrajudicial executions. This brutality lies at the heart of Israel’s systematic violations of Palestinian rights, amounting to serious breaches of international law, and even war crimes. Gaza officials are currently warning of disruptions to Gaza's only power plant , leaving residents with just a few hours of electricity per day after Israel cut fuel supplies to Gaza's only power plant.
Manchester Palestine Solidarity Campaign’s Norma Turner said: “Today, we are calling on people to not just demonstrate but head straight for those most complicit in these crimes, especially the arms factories and offices of Elbit Systems, Israel’s largest weapons-maker, which makes the majority of the drones that kill so many Palestinians.
“Companies like Elbit shouldn’t be profiting, they should be punished and banished, given the murder and injury their weapons are being used for.”
Adie Mormech of Manchester Palestine Action warned that Israel is using Gaza as a laboratory for the development of its weapons.
He said: “Just like for the fight against apartheid South Africa, we must stand in the way of such a grotesque industry that thrives on the devastation, loss and trauma that people like the Palestinians face every single day.”

A full list of demonstrations can be found here: palestinecampaign.org/events/stop-arming-israel-national-day-of-action-2/

 Help  increase the pressure on the UK government to end its arms trade with Israel and its complicity in Israel’s occupation and war crimes: email your MP to demand a two-way arms embargo on Israel.

Wednesday, 19 August 2020

Simone Segouin (b; 3/10/25) - Symbol of Female Resistance

                                
On this day in 1944 the above picture was taken by Robert Capa. It has since become a symbol of women’s involvement in the French Resistance. Here we can see a man with makeshift army fatigues to the left and a young man on the right, but the person who grabbed everyone's attention is the girl in shorts in the centre. 
Her name was Simone Segouin, an 18 year-old girl aka as Nicol Minet. In 1944, at the height of the Nazi occupation of France, she joined the Francs-Tireurs et Partisans (Free-shooters and Partisans, or FTP) – a combat alliance made up of militant communists and French nationalists, to help liberate the capital.The group named themselves after the French irregular light infantry and saboteurs who fought the Germans during the Franco-Prussian War.
Stealing a bicycle from a German military administrator was the first mission she was assigned. After the successful outcome of her first mission, the bike was painted so it could become Simone’s ‘reconnaissance vehicle’, allowing her to deliver messages and stake out targets. Shortly, after displaying her skills in secret weapons training, she was allowed to take part in dangerous combat missions. In 1944, at the height of the Nazi occupation of France, Simone Segouin was involved in armed actions against enemy convoys and trains, attacks against enemy detachments and acts of sabotages. She also assisted in capturing 25 German POWs during the fall of Chartres. The French newspaper Independent Eure-et-Loir on its August 26, 1944 issue described her as “one of the purest fighters of heroic French Resistance who prepared the way for the Liberation”. .
Simone became known to the world after American reporter Jack Belden interviewed her for a Life magazine feature headlined ‘The Girl Partisan of Chartres’ Her bravery would make her s symbol of female resistance across the world.
After the war Simone was promoted to lieutenant and awarded the prestigious Croix de Guerre, along with other fighters who had by then been organised into a formal military organisation called the French Forces of the Interior (FFI).Simone went on to become a paediatric nurse in Chartres, where her wartime daring acts made her hugely popular . A street in Courville-sur-Eure was named for her. She is still alive, and is happily surrounded by her grandchildren.
Simone experienced the heaviness of  the war years.People have asked Simone if she has killed anyone before. "On July 14, 1944, I took part in an ambush with two comrades. Two German soldiers went by on a bike, and the three of us fired at the same time, so I don’t know who exactly killed them. You shouldn’t have to kill someone like that. It’s true, the Germans were our enemies, it was the war, but I don’t draw any pride from it."
She and other women in the French resistance  played a vital role in the fight for liberation from the Nazis, showing exemplary courage under atrocious circumstances.The price of participation was enormous. Resisters suffered arrest, imprisonment, interrogation and sometimes torture, and deportation to concentration camps as political prisoners. La Roquette women's prison in Paris figured on many a woman's itinerary; another larger women's facility in Rennes grouped women resisters from the entire northern zone. From prisons in France, many were shipped to camps farther east, where they perished from disease, starvation, exhaustion, beatings, or more systematic forms of extermination. Many Frenchwomen were sent to Ravensbrück, the concentration camp for women east of Berlin. Jewish resisters and those deemed particularly dangerous were also sent to Auschwitz in eastern Poland; this is the case of the famous convoy known as the "31,000" (the series tatooed on their arm upon arrival). Unlike their male counterparts, full recognition of their important  central role in the French Resistance  has only come several decades after the events.

Sunday, 16 August 2020

Stuart Christie (1946-2020) - Anarchist activist, writer and publisher




From Kate Sharpley Library

 John Patten

Stuart Christie, founder of the Anarchist Black Cross and Cienfuegos Press and co-author of The floodgates of anarchy has died peacefully after a battle with lung cancer.

Born in Glasgow and brought up in Blantyre, Christie credited his grandmother for shaping his political outlook, giving him a clear moral map and ethical code. His determination to follow his conscience led him to anarchism: “Without freedom there would be no equality and without equality no freedom, and without struggle there would be neither.” It also led him from the campaign against nuclear weapons to joining the struggle against the Spanish fascist dictator Francisco Franco (1892-1975).

He moved to London and got in touch with the clandestine Spanish anarchist organisation Defensa Interior (Interior Defence). He was arrested in Madrid in 1964 carrying explosives to be used in an assassination attempt on Franco. To cover the fact that there was an informer inside the group, the police proclaimed they had agents operating in Britain – and (falsely) that Christie had drawn attention to himself by wearing a kilt.

The threat of the garotte and his twenty year sentence drew international attention to the resistance to the Franco regime. In prison Christie formed lasting friendships with anarchist militants of his and earlier generations. He returned from Spain in 1967, older and wiser, but equally determined to continue the struggle and use his notoriety to aid the comrades he left behind.

In London he met Brenda Earl who would become his political and emotional life partner. He also met Albert Meltzer, and the two would refound the Anarchist Black Cross to promote solidarity with anarchist prisoners in Spain, and the resistance more broadly. Their book, The floodgates of anarchy promoted a revolutionary anarchism at odds with the attitudes of some who had come into anarchism from the sixties peace movement. At the Carrara anarchist conference of 1968 Christie got in touch with a new generation of anarchist militants who shared his ideas and approach to action.
Christie’s political commitment and international connections made him a target for the British Special Branch. He was acquitted of conspiracy to cause explosions in the “Stoke Newington Eight” trial of 1972, claiming the jury could understand why someone would want to blow up Franco, and why that would make him a target for “conservative-minded policemen”.

Free but apparently unemployable, Christie launched Cienfuegos Press which would produce a large number of anarchist books and the encyclopedic Cienfuegos Press Anarchist Review. Briefly Orkney became a centre of anarchist publishing before lack of cashflow ended the project. Christie would continue publishing, and investigating new ways of doing so including ebooks and the internet. His https://christiebooks.co.uk contains numerous films on anarchism and biographies of anarchists. He used facebook to create an archive of anarchist history not available anywhere else as he recounted memories and events from his own and other people’s lives.

Christie wrote The investigative researcher’s handbook (1983), sharing skills that he put to use in an exposé of fascist Italian terrorist Stefano delle Chiaie (1984). In 1996 he published the first version of his historical study We the anarchists : a study of the Iberian Anarchist Federation (FAI), 1927-1937.
Short-run printing enabled him to produced three illustrated volumes of his life story (My granny made me an anarchist, General Franco made me a ‘terrorist’ and Edward Heath made me angry 2002-2004) which were condensed into a single volume as Granny made me an anarchist : General Franco, the angry brigade and me (2004). His final books were the three volumes of ¡Pistoleros! The Chronicles of Farquhar McHarg, his tales of a Glaswegian anarchist who joins the Spanish anarchist defence groups in the years 1918-1924.

Committed to anarchism and publishing, Christie appeared at many bookfairs and film festivals, but scorned any suggestion he had come to ‘lead’ anyone anywhere.

Christie’s partner Brenda died in June 2019. He slipped away peacefully, listening to “Pennies From Heaven” (Brenda’s favourite song) in the company of his daughter Branwen.

Stuart Christie, 10 July 1946-15 August 2020


I was a friend on facebook where he posted frequently lots of inspiring stuff , so my deepest condolences  go the family and friends of Stuart Christie. Sad news, May this lifelong committed anti-fascist and anarchist rest in power and his  extraordinary life long be remembered.
A perfect society  may not come tomorrow, the struggle could last forever, but at least we can thank people like Christie who had the courage and vision that provides the spur to struggle against things as they are, and for things that might be. Our progress towards a more meaningful world must begin with the will to  resist every form of injustice.

Witness History - The Plot to kill Franco

https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/p024bsjc 

Stuart Christie id Glasgow - Ryan Harvey




  

Monday, 10 August 2020

Those Who Pass Between Fleeting Words - Mahmoud Darwish (13/4/41- 9/8/08)


Mahmoud Darwish who I've witten about previously https://teifidancer-teifidancer.blogspot.com/2010/01/mahmoud-darwish-poet-of-resistance.html was a widely known and popular Palestinian poet whose work I greatly admire.. He was born in Berweh, a village east of Acre, Palestine, in 1942.
When the Israelis occupied his home in 1948, Darwish began to experience many forms of oppression. He grew up as a refugee, his village was destroyed, and between 1961 and 1967 he was arrested by the Israelis five times, once for writing "Identity Card," a poem which became a rallying cry for the Palestinian movement. Early in life, Darwish became politically active through his poetry and involvement in the Israeli Communist Party, Rakah. He spent a period as the editor of Rakah's newspaper, Al-Ittihad (Unity).
Darwish's political advocacy brought him a great deal of negative Israeli attention, which included harassment and house arrest. Finally, in 1971, after years of hardship, Darwish left Israel and fled into exile in Beirut, Lebanon. By this time, he had established and upheld an outstanding reputation as one of the leading poets of the resistance.
Many of his poems have been converted to music in order to fuel the Palestinian defiance.Considered Palestine's most eminent poet, Darwish published his first collection of poems, Leaves of Olives, in 1964, when he was 22. Since then, Darwish has published approximately thirty poetry and prose collections which have been translated into more than twenty-two languages. Sadly there is no comprehensive collection of his poetry in English, though there is a good selection of poems from the 1980s and 1990s under the title Unfortunately, It Was Paradise (2013), as well as The Butterfly’s Burden, which brings together three short volumes of poems from 1998-2003. (Copper Canyon Press, 2006),  Stage of Siege (2002), The Adam of Two Edens (2001), Mural (2000), Bed of the Stranger (1999), Psalms (1995), Why Did You Leave the Horse Alone? (1994), and The Music of Human Flesh (1980). Appropriately, then, to gain a broad view of Darwish’s output people have to piece together scattered publications from several countries, in books, journals, and newspapers. As Darwish says in “You’ll Be Forgotten, As If You Never Were,” a late poem in The Butterfly’s Burden, “I am the king of echo. My only throne is the margin.”
 Darwish was an editor for a Palestine Liberation Organization monthly journal and the director of the group's research center. In 1987 he was appointed to the PLO executive committee, and resigned in 1993 in opposition to the Oslo Agreement. He served as the editor-in-chief and founder of the literary review Al-Karmel, published out of the Sakakini Centre since 1997
About Darwish's work, the poet Naomi Shihab Nye has said, "Mahmoud Darwish is the Essential Breath of the Palestinian people, the eloquent witness of exile and belonging, exquisitely tuned singer of images that invoke, link, and shine a brilliant light into the world's whole heart. What he speaks has been embraced by readers around the world—his in an utterly necessary voice, unforgettable once discovered."
His awards and honors include the Ibn Sina Prize, the Lenin Peace Prize, the 1969 Lotus prize from the Union of Afro-Asian Writers, France's Knight of Arts and Belles Lettres medal in 1997, the 2001 Prize for Cultural Freedom from the Lannan Foundation, the Moroccan Wissam of intellectual merit handed to him by King Mohammad VI of Morocco, and the USSR's Stalin Peace Prize.
He died  twelve years ago in 2008, in Houston, Texas  due to complications from heart surgery. but  Darwish’s words continue  today to play an important role in shaping the identity of diaspora Palestinians. His celebrated poms have always connected Palestinians to their homeland. But for those living in the West they have become psalms of the tragic, human dimensions of the Palestinian cause.
 Darwish wrote the following  poem in 1988 during the first intifada and the direct and uncompromising words caused a great stir in Israel. Israel’s then Prime Minister, Yitzhak Shamir, quoted the poem in the Israeli Knesset to “prove” that the PLO posed a threat to existence of the Zionist state. In response, Darwish said that he found it “difficult to believe that the most militarily powerful country in the Middle East is threatened by a poem”.

 Those Who Pass Between Fleeting Words  - Mahmoud Darwish
  
O those who pass between fleeting words
Carry your names, and be gone
Rid our time of your hours, and be gone
Steal what you will from the blueness of the sea and the sand of memory
Take what pictures you will, so that you understand
That which you never will:
How a stone from our land builds the ceiling of our sky.

O those who pass between fleeting words
From you the sword — from us the blood
From you steel and fire — from us our flesh
From you yet another tank — from us stones
From you tear gas — from us rain
Above us, as above you, are sky and air
So take your share of our blood — and be gone
Go to a dancing party — and be gone
As for us, we have to water the martyrs’ flowers
As for us, we have to live as we see fit.

O those who pass between fleeting words
As bitter dust, go where you wish, but
Do not pass between us like flying insects
For we have work to do in our land:
We have wheat to grow which we water with our bodies’ dew
We have that which does not please you here:
Stones or partridges
So take the past, if you wish, to the antiquities market
And return the skeleton to the hoopoe, if you wish,
On a clay platter
We have that which does not please you: we have the future
And we have things to do in our land.
O those who pass between fleeting words
Pile your illusions in a deserted pit, and be gone
Return the hand of time to the law of the golden calf
Or to the time of the revolver’s music!
For we have that which does not please you here, so be gone
And we have what you lack: a bleeding homeland of a bleeding people
A homeland fit for oblivion or memory
O those who pass between fleeting words
It is time for you to be gone
Live wherever you like, but do not live among us
It is time for you to be gone
Die wherever you like, but do not die among us
For we have work to do in our land

We have the past here
We have the first cry of life
We have the present, the present and the future
We have this world here, and the hereafter
So leave our country
Our land, our sea
Our wheat, our salt, our wounds
Everything, and leave
The memories of memory
O those who pass between fleeting words!

—Translation from the Jerusalem Post, April 2, 1988

Links to two more poems by Mahmoud Darwish

https://teifidancer-teifidancer.blogspot.com/2015/03/to-our-land-mahmoud-darwish-13309.html

https://teifidancer-teifidancer.blogspot.com/2012/11/mahmoud-darwish-13341-9808-think-of.html

Thursday, 6 August 2020

Remembering Hiroshima and Nagasaki

  


75 years ago  on 6th August 1945 am.the United States dropped  an atomic bomb called ' Little Boy" on Hiroshima, Japan which is estimated to have killed 100,000 to 180,000 people out of a population of 350,000. Then three days later, a second  atomic bomb  called "Fat Man" was dropped on the city of Nagasaki, killing between 50,000 and 100,000 people.
.Hiroshima and Nagasaki were largely civilian towns, meaning there wasn't a strong military reason to drop the atomic bombs over those particular cities. No one was excluded from the horrors of the atomic bomb, a "destroyer of worlds" burnt hotter than the sun. Some people were vaporised upon impact, while others suffered burns and radiation poisoning that would kill them days, weeks or even months later. Others were crushed by debris, burned by unimaginable heat or suffocated by the lack of oxygen. Many survivors suffered from leukemia and other cancers like thyroid and lung cancer at higher rates than those not exposed to the bombs. Mothers were more likely to  lose their children during pregnancy or shortly after birth. Children exposed to radiation were more likely to have learning disabilities and impaired growth.
Those that did manage to survive  would be traumatised for the rest of their lives. Hibakusha is a term widely used in Japan, that refers to the victims of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, it translates as 'explosion effected  Survivor of Light. These survivors speak of the deep, unabating grief they felt in the days, months and decades since the attack  They have described the shame of being a survivor , many were unable to marry, find jobs, or live any sort of normal life. They have said that many Hibakusha never speak of the day, instead choosing to suffer in silence. They told what it was like to be suddenly alone in middle age, to lose their parents, spouses, children, and livelihoods in a single instant. In memory of them, we should make sure that the  misery and devastation caused by nuclear weapons is never forgotten.
Even if Japan was not fully innocent, the people of Japan did not deserve to pay the price for their nations wrongdoing, and there was absolutely no moral justification in obliterating these two cities and killing its inhabitants in what was clearly a crime against humanity and murder on an epic scale. Hiroshima and Nagasaki held no strategic importance. Japan were an enemy on the brink of failure an members of the country's top leadership were involved in peace negotiations. Many believe that these two atrocities were a result of  geopolitical posturing at its most barbaric, announcing  in a catastrophic  display of military capability, of inhumane intention showing America's willingness to use doomsday weapons on civilian populations.The bombings serving as warnings and the fist act of the Cold War against its imperialist rival Russia. A message to the Russians of the power of destruction and technological military capability that the US had managed to develop.Three days later U.S president Harry Truman exulted ; "This is the greatest thing in history! " and gloated that " we are now prepared to obliterate more rapidly and completely."
Then the photos began to emerge, haunting images of burned children with their skin hanging off, of bodies charred and there was Sadaki Sasaki and the 1,000 origami peace cranes she folded before her death at the age of 12 from leukemia ten years after the bomb was dropped on her hometown of Hiroshima. The bombs dropped were  of a indiscriminate and cruel character beyond comparison  with weapons and projectiles of the past. Despite all  this Truman never regretted his decision. .
Today as the world commemorates the lives that were lost and the unacceptable devastation caused to people and planet, we still have so much to learn from this picture of indescribable human suffering. Lets not forget that in our our current dangerous  times, many world leaders remain recklessly committed to their nuclear  arsenals. There are an estimated 16,000 nuclear weapons in the world at the present time with over 90% held by USA and Russia, but also by the UK, France, India, Pakistan, Israel and lately North Korea. This is more than enough to wipe out most of the human race and most other life.
For Hiroshima Day and on August 9 Nagasaki Day we must echo the call of the Hibakusha, and  press our leaders to take the actions necessary to ensure  these immoral, illegal weapons are never used again.  The calls come amid progress on the criminalisation of nuclear weapons by the United Nations, where three more countries have voted to ratify the 2017 Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.
The treaty needs 50 countries to ratify it, at which point it would become international law — though the pact is binding only on those countries which are party to it. By last month, 40 countries had signed, with Sudan, Fiji and Botswana being the most recent signatories.
Britain, the United States and other nuclear powers have refused to sign and did not attend the 2017 session of the UN general assembly which voted for the treaty.
The abolition calls also come against the background of intensifying belligerence and military threats from United States President Donald Trump.
Campaigners against nuclear weapons said the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, remain relevant today in a world where nuclear bomb stockpiles cast the shadow of potential global obliteration.
Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament secretary Kate Hudson said: “We are facing an increasingly dangerous military situation driven most alarmingly by Trump’s policies.
“His withdrawal from key treaties, the possibility of the resumption of nuclear testing, all increase the risk of nuclear war.
“Of course, we understand the context for this: the US is a declining power economically and seeks to assert itself militarily.
“This has been the case for some time — noticeable under the Bush administration, which sought to compel non-compliant states to bend to the US will.
“Trump’s drive to war is far more dangerous. The US National Security Strategy focuses on what it describes as strategic rivals or competitors, notably China and Russia. Its goal is to be able to defeat them militarily, to prepare for war on a massive scale.” She said that “so-called usable nuclear weapons” have been deployed. “Taking these two strategies together, it is clear that there is a significant danger of a US war on China and that opposing this is a fundamental task for the movement today,” she said.“This is a conflict where nuclear weapons will be used and we need to work with all our strength to prevent such a war.” She said the world today is “closer to tragedy” than it has ever been. “On this anniversary, we must recommit to working together, in unity, to ensure that those hands never reach midnight.”
Former Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn said of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings: “We must never forget these atrocities, and we must never give up on the mission to rid our world of nuclear weapons.”
Stop the War Campaign convenor Lindsey German said: “For my generation, Hiroshima meant that there could never be another major war without the destruction of all humanity.
“We still see this terrible barbarism everywhere today. The major states are nuclear armed and there is the ever-present threat of conflict, now growing between the US and China in particular.
“Today, August 6, we should redouble our efforts to oppose war and all nuclear weapons.”
CND Cymru chairwoman Jill Evans said: “People in Wales and internationally are marking this anniversary by joining the many events online.
“We cannot hold our planned event at the National Eisteddfod, but we can still raise our voices to call on governments to act. I urge everyone to take some time this week to listen to the powerful testimony of nuclear survivors.”
Also in memory of the victims of the Hiroshima bombing Shabaka Hutchings will share a new composition on the 75th anniversary of the Hiroshima bombing, via Stop the War Coalition this August. Alongside the live stream concert, Stop the War will also be profiling anti-war jazz records, starting with John Coltrane’s performance of ‘Peace on Earth’ from his Concert in Japan album.
Stop the War Coalition will stream Hutchings’ new composition live across their social media platforms on Thursday 6th August from at 7.00pm GMT.
Head here for more info.

Hiroshima; An Acrostic Poem

Horror was dropped on August 6, 1945
Incinerating thousands of innocents
Reason evaporated after deadly poison shed
One bomb released left devastaion
Senseless slaughter, the scorched sin of humanity
Haunting vapors of pitiful sorrow
Insanity blossoming with black rain
Murderous atoms shattered spirits
American weapon of evil, B-29 Enola Gay


Monday, 3 August 2020

Sir Roger Casement - Human Rights Defender and Irish Martyr


On this day Sir Roger Casement was hanged for high treason for his part in trying to smuggle German weapons to Ireland for the Easter Rising of 1916. He was the last knight of the realm to befall such a fate in the United Kingdom.
Roger Casement was born in Dublin in 1864. His father, an army captain, was a Protestant and his Cork-born mother was a Catholic who had her children secretly baptized. Like his country, Casement was a study in contradictions,  he has vaiously  been called “a microcosm of Ireland:” Dubliner, Ulsterman, Catholic, Protestant, poet, and patriot.
Orphaned at a young age, he lived with his father’s family in Antrim. He was a child of promising intellect who wrote poetry and immersed himself in Celtic myths. Unwilling to accept the charity of relatives, Casement left school at 15 to work for a shipping company in Liverpool. He had always dreamed of far-off places and now the handsome, hardworking clerk was soon promoted to be the British Consul, serving in West Africa.
Word of the brilliant Casement had reached the British Foreign Office. So, too, had word of the atrocities in King Leopold II’s private fiefdom, the Belgian Congo. Leopold, a staunch imperialist was perpetuating genocide there, eventually killing 10 million natives. He became, thanks to Congo resources, the richest man in Europe. The Foreign Office sent Casement into the Congo to investigate, photograph, and bear witness.He took the testimony of Africans who told stories  that were simply shocking , tales of , murder, whippings, maiming and rapes. The collection of ivory and rubber was not done by farming but by a forced terror system. The local people were given quotas to bring in rubber from the forest. If they failed to meet them they were tortured or their families held at ransom and abused. They were not bought, like slaves, but simply seized in a systematic and barbaric way.
Casement published his report in 1904 and then campaigned with others for change via the Congo Reform Association. By 1908 the Congo Free State was replaced by the Belgian Congo and the personal rule of King Leopold II ended. The hellish conditions in the Congo provide the background to Joseph Conrad’s 1899 novel Heart of Darkness. Conrad and Casement met in the Congo, sharing a flat for a few weeks, with  Conrad  declaring that Casement was one of the few decent white men he met in the Congo.
 Casement’s courage, compassion and determination were put to further use when he was asked by the British government to travel to Putanamayo in Peru to report on the human price of the rubber trade in the Amazon, where once again human rights and so many lives were being sacrificed heedlessly for private profit and greed. The Peruvian Amazon Company was a London-registered enterprise with three British directors, John Russell Gubbins, a friend of Peruvian President Augusto Leguía; Herbert Reed, a banker; and Sir John Lister-Kaye, an aristocrat. This forced the British government to order an investigation into the ruthless search for rubber, enslavement of indigenous people and terrible atrocities that came close to wiping them out in a sustained act of ethnocide. Over 100,000 innocent people are thought to have been killed.
All that he witnessed would forever change his life too. Exploitation and greed, he realized, were business as usual for empires, including the world’s largest, the British Empire. His dormant Irish nationalism awoke; he shed his Anglo skin and found the Irishman underneath. Having sparked the world’s first human rights campaigns, Casement was awarded one of Great Britain’s highest citations, the Order of St. Michael and St. George.
 But  after identifying with the oppressed  rather than the oppressor.  that same year Roger Casement  joined the Gaelic League and signed, for the first time, his name as Ruairí Mac Easmainn. The British Empire had forever lost her international hero.. Casement's  increasingly radical views ,and  an interest in Irish history, and a deepening critique of European Imperialism, that drew him ever more firmly into the nationalist fold.  In 1913 he resigned from the Foreign Office and  he became deeply involved with the Irish Volunteers, and  by the time war broke out in 1914, Casement was in America plotting with prominent Irish-Americans to secure German support for the Irish cause.
During World War I, operating on the principle, “The enemy of my enemy is my friend,” Casement and Devoy met with a German diplomat. They promised Ireland would remain neutral if Germany helped the coming Easter Rising by supplying guns and expertise. In Germany, Casement tried to secure arms and persuade Irish P.O.W.s to form an Irish Brigade. After two years, both initiatives were disappointments. There was no brigade – Irish soldiers wouldn’t dishonor their oath to the King – and Germany could only deliver some 20,000 guns, a fraction of the weaponry needed. Worse, British Intelligence was intercepting his messages.
The Easter Rising was imminent. Believing that there were not sufficient arms for the rebellion, Casement slipped out of Germany by submarine to warn the leaders. He placed the armaments on a separate boat, the Aud, flying under a Norwegian flag, which he planned to meet on the Irish shoreline.
First to arrive was the Aud, but it was ambushed by the waiting British navy and taken to Cork.
Unaware of the plight of the gun-runner, Casement had moved from the submarine to a dinghy. But this capsized, leaving him to swim onto Banna Strand in County Kerry.
It was 3:00 a.m., Good Friday, 1916. Once on land, Casement, ill, drenched, and exhausted, found there was no one to meet him. Still, he rejoiced:
“I was for one brief spell happy and smiling once more… all round were primroses and wild violets and the singing of the skylarks in the air and I was back in Ireland again.”
His happiness was short-lived. When the Easter rising began and the Proclamation of the Irish Republic was read, Casement was in the Tower of London.
His trial at the Old Bailey lasted four days. It took the jury one hour to find him guilty, strip him of his knighthood, and condemn him to death by hanging. After his sentencing he delivered a speech from the dock, arguably one of the greatest political statements of all time that would resonate long after his death.. He stated, logically – and ironically, since he had a cultured British accent – that he couldn’t commit treason against England since he wasn’t an Englishman to begin with. Then he railed against the colonial system, “when men must beg with bated breath for leave to subsist in their own land, to think their own thoughts, to sing their own songs, to garner the fruit of their own labours … then surely it is a braver, a saner, and a truer thing to be a rebel in act and deed against such circumstances as this than tamely to accept it as the natural lot of men."
 His admirers and friends launched a campaign for clemency, arguing that he had acted out of conscience and in the interests of his country – Ireland. Those admirers included George Bernard Shaw, Conan Doyle, Bishops and politicians. The campaign looked as if it might succeed until the British government discovered and published  salacious extracts fom  his diary, that outlined his sexual exploits, in order to discredit him with the British and Irish public. The Republican movement was a deeply socially conservative body instilled with Catholic morality, if anything even more homophobic than the British. It was horrified by the accusations, denying them as true but reacting by downplaying Casement’s role as a great Irish martyr. Members of Casement’s family, Irish Republicans and others have claimed in the past that the Casement diaries are forgeries, but most historians to day believe them to be genuine. Whether they are genuine or forgeries, there is no doubting the effect the extracts had on public opinion in 1916:  But for Casement  judging by his diary, the acceptance of homosexuality was an aspect of African society and unlike other empire-builders in the field, he saw the African not as a body to exploit but as an equal to love..
After receiving the last rites of the Catholic Church, Roger Casement was executed on August 3, 1916, at Pentonville Prison at 9 a.m  the sixteenth and final leader of the Rising to be executed. Standing in the gallows Casement was asked by the governor if he had any final words. He did,' Bury me in Ireland'.' John Ellis, his executioner, called him "the bravest man it ever fell to my unhappy lot to execute".
 Even after his execution his corpse was violated, his anus “examined” to provide further proof of his “perversity.” His body was buried on the prison grounds, and the Irish government and his family spent decades demanding the right to return his body to Ireland. British Prime Minister Harold Wilson’s government denied that wish and released the remains only on condition that they could not be brought into Northern Ireland, as “the government feared that a reburial there could provoke Catholic celebrations and Protestant reactions.”
His death  would inspire t W.B. Yeats to write, “The Ghost of Roger Casement” – in which the poet sees Casement’s spirit coming across the sea, knocking on the door, still wanting to come home:

 The Ghost of Roger Casement - W.B. Yeats

 O WHAT has made that sudden noise?
What on the threshold stands?
It never crossed the sea because
John Bull and the sea are friends;
But this is not the old sea
Nor this the old seashore.
What gave that roar of mockery,
That roar in the sea's roar?
The ghost of Roger Casement
Is beating on the door.

 John Bull has stood for Parliament,
A dog must have his day,
The country thinks no end of him,
For he knows how to say,
At a beanfeast or a banquet,
That all must hang their trust
Upon the British Empire,
Upon the Church of Christ.
The ghost of Roger Casement
Is beating on the door.

John Bull has gone to India
And all must pay him heed,
For histories are there to prove
That none of another breed
Has had a like inheritance,
Or sucked such milk as he,
And there's no luck about a house
If it lack honesty.
The ghost of Roger Casement
Is beating on the door.

I poked about a village church
And found his family tomb
And copied out what I could read
In that religious gloom;
Found many a famous man there;
But fame and virtue rot.
Draw round, beloved and bitter men,
Draw round and raise a shout;
The ghost of Roger Casement
Is beating on the door.

Casement was late to enter the pantheon of 1916 martyrs, marginalized, no doubt, by his sexuality. Finally, in 1965, an Irish military escort removed his remains from the prison graveyard in London and accompanied them to Ireland for a state funeral. Hundreds of thousands came to pay him tribute including the very conservative President de Valera, a veteran of the Easter Rising, who delivered his eulogy. He lies today in the Heroes section of Dublin’s Glasnevin Cemetery where his name, Ruairí Mac Easmainn is carved on a gravestone reading, in Gaelic, “He died for Ireland.”
As we remember the other  brave men and women who fought for Irish independence against colonial oppression, we must remember and honor this remarkable man who risked his own life, health and wellbeing to tell the world the true story of their enslavement, who died in the defense of the Irish people, isolated, alone and reviled by so many because of his sexuality. Now at least recognised as an Irish patriot and father of the human rights movement. The lesson of his life remains a vital one: when the status quo is injustice, the right thing to be is a rebel. We should continue .to honor the memory of a great man whose life was cut short by a cruel, dishonest and vindictive state, and whose own life was dedicated to others and the fine virtues of true, indivisible, human rights.

Sunday, 2 August 2020

Dark Descent


Walking the daily shuffle
Thinking of those gone before,
To the river with heavy shoes
Carried by sadness, with chorus of blues,
Life's jagged  jigsaw's diverting reflection
The kindness of friendship's grip ceasing,
Beautiful dreams, the days kept erasing
Leaving behind scars, the weight of addiction,
Impenetrable minds, injecting poison
Desperate breaths dying to be free,
Not caring about actions, in need of sleep
Releasing pain from heart, taking a final drop,
As world imploded, and wings soar no more
From  alters of cruelty sank into the abyss,
Nothing left to waste, oblivion scattering
Escaping babylon, mental exhaustion,
Out of site now, releasing a trail of tears
The borders of intensity,.no longer possessing,
Carried to the vaults of eternity
As shoals of fish flash through the sea.