Tag Archives: disgrace

When Gaza means dying children are too political for tv…

In a word, pathetic. That’s the decision of ITV, BBC and Sky not to show an appeal film by the British charity DEC on their screens. It’s particularly galling from the BBC (though not entirely unsurprising considering its slanted coverage of the crisis as a whole) that it sees its impartiality under question if it had gone ahead. Judging by its past form it’s depressing that a public service broadcaster with the breadth and reach of the organisation shouldn’t use its voice to help appeal for money in what is another in a long line of humanitarian crises.

They’re just covering their consciences, most likely in light of their recent scandals, but it’s a totally spineless act. It does seem that it’s ok for appeals from tsunamis, famines and earthquakes, but when children are dying from starvation from a conflict it’s not. What the fuck did they think was going on in Eritrea, Congo or Rwanda?

Gaza's dying children

Crossing the line…. again and again

The sadness of the Israel/Gaza conflict over the last two weeks has been that, every day, there seems to be a fresh and even more disheartening episode of anguish and sadness. Every day there is fresh horror.

When the Israeli army bombed a UN shelter at a school – which it had GPS coordinates for, knowing that it was being used by the UN – killing more than 40 Palestinians (Hamas terrorists if you’d believe the propaganda, but women and children among them if you believe the hospitals) it seemed, with the fresh hope of peace talks and ceasefire, that the conflict had reached its nadir. But today, the 8th, brings even more terrible atrocities.

News that children had been found by the Red Cross, lying almost starved next to their dead mothers, with Israeli troops less than 100 metres away. The Red Cross had not been allowed in over the past week to give vital aid to those hundreds of thousands that depend solely on it to survive from day to day. Only yesterday had the ‘humanitarian corridor’ been opened by Israel (is disgracefully late action, no doubt to be hailed as a sweeping grand gesture of compassion by their own spin office), at a time when many of Gaza’s residents may be beyond hope. This episode has sadly proven this to be true. And we have no idea how many more are in the same position, lying dead in their rooms, not from bombs or shells, or attacks from ground troops, but from simple lack of food and water, prevented by an illegal and despicable blockade that’s lasted well back to 2007, but yet seems to be swept under the carpet by the apologists that support Israel.

Added to this, the UN has now suspended their aid operations after a UN marked truck was hit by an Israeli shell, killing two aid workers. What sort of country and people can see this as justified actions of war? How blinkered can we be, can the world be? How can this disgusting behaviour be accepted? It is not even the scantest form of self-defence, but yet our own government, the US, Canada, and Australia, who recognise Hamas only as terrorists, and not as any legitimate political party, continue to stay almost silent on the matter, calling only for ceasefire, not condemning the senseless acts and the continual blockade that has engulfed the area way before this war began. It’s actions that make me embarrassed and ashamed to call Labour my government. That we cannot see what is happening in front of our eyes, and see that it is inherently wrong.

It was Israel that overstepped the line on November 4th 2008, breaking the ceasefire with a raid into Gaza that killed six Hamas fighters. But this is again something that’s been conveniently papered over, like much of anything that seeks to further the Israeli cause. But for the past weeks, and in the past few days in particular, it’s made these pale into insignificance by its actions, as if it’s challenging itself to stoop lower each time. History will look back on these days as dark times, ones that we, as those that live in countries that support the Israel movement and condemn the actions of Hamas outright, should be deeply ashamed. Because people are dying in squalor and poverty, and we sit by and watch it happen.

Police protection, the Italian way….

Police Raid in Genoa at G8 in 2001

Some of you may know the story of the police brutality at the 2001 G8 summit in Genoa, where riot police waded into crowds (including members of the public, journalists) and then into a school where an alternative protest summit was being held by groups wishing to voice their concerns about the G8. These protests happen at every G8, some a more militant, some peaceful, but none will be dealt with with the ferocity of that day seven years ago.

And finally, a chapter has been closed on the episode, in Italy at least, where today a ruling cleared all senior police officers of any charges relating to that day. This is the day that 300 police charged into a school containing 200 peaceful protesters, and, to a man and woman, beat every single one of them. Women, men, young and old, British, Italian, German, Belgian, there was no discrimination. What was one of the most shameful days for a police force in any western country, has been swept quietly under the carpet, as if it was simply a storm in a teacup.

What does this say about Italy itself? It’s hard to guage a sentiment, as there is still so much not known about what happened that day. Did the police assume the protesters were part of the Black Bloc anarchist movement (as some witnesses have claimed) or was this just an excuse for the violence? Who orchestrated the action? Not one senior officer has been charged, so if this is the case, where did the commands come from? Following the events, one officer even preposterously claimed he “was off duty and had just turned up to make sure his men were not being injured.” Many of the police testimonies differered greatly, key evidence disappeared, and many of those officers cleared are now in high-ranking positions in Italy, some in anti-terrorism. Every single charge against the protesters was dropped, yet in the face of this, only 13 of those that took part have been sentenced. And, due to the length of the appeals, and a statute of limitations, none of them will even go to jail.

And yet the victims, including British journalist Mark Covell, who still suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, have little recompense. All deported straight after the events, (cleaning up the evidence and clamour in one go) they still suffer while the police are held almost totally unaccountable. None of the police, bar one, that took part in the raid has ever been identified, as they all had masks on. They have, from this, never stood trial.

While we in Europe like to pride ourselves on our liberal and forward-thinking approach to law and order, it’s clear that, even now, this view isn’t one that’s held, or at least acted out, throughout our society. The acts of that day in Genoa, and the resultant disgrace that took place in its courts shows that there are those that are still far from civilised. In Italy, the spectre of the far right still looms, and with Silvio Berlusconi still in power, the recent shame of the persecution of Romany gypsies is still a warning to those that feel it is now a thing of the past.

Let us not forget this shameful episode. Italy’s police, it seems, may seek to uphold the law, yet they may also be above it.