17 May, 2005

Romper Room Grenade Launchers

Today is 17 May 2005. Once again I am reminded of how offended I feel when I hear that two academics in Melbourne, Professor Mirko Bagaric and Julie Clarke, of Deakin University's Law School, have written an article that advocates that we should accept the need for 'regulated' torture.

Of course, they just love it in George W Bush's USA, and, no doubt, in the Australian Athorney General, Phillip Ruddock's office. It also sits well with the apointment of ASIO, Director General, Dennis Richardson's appointment to the position of Ambassador to the USA. Dennis approves of torture too. Let's hope he can remember which country he is working for.

Refer to the poem 'Safe and Warm'.

Of course, 'the world's most lawless policeman' also uses children to help it 'keep the peace' or allows proxies to do so. This is a poem dedicated to the 3.5 million people killed in the Democratic Republic of Congo in the past few years. Six of every ten fighters is a child like yours:

Romper Room Grenade Launchers

Kids with attitude
Strutting their truculence
Beside the technical
Brandishing weapons
Taller than themselves
He at nine she at twelve

I can be your hero, baby
I can kiss away the pain
I will stand by you forever
You can take my breath away
Someone placed an order
For camouflage uniforms this small
Knowing that these little people
Would be there to wear them

Women with sewing machines
Probably mothers knew
The seams they deftly stitched
May one day soon
Be spattered with blood
This arm hole a gash with
An untidily torn off limb

I can be your hero, baby
I can kiss away the pain
I will stand by you forever
You can take my breath away

Someone ordered these uniforms
Smart and neat perfectly tailored
Who knowingly employed
These once innocent ones
Into malleable hands

You only need to know
That you are meant to
Keep all the working parts clean
To point these things at people
And fire them when ordered
Tools of their destructive trade
Specially designed to be light enough
For the tender aged and inexperienced

I can be your hero, baby
I can kiss away the pain
I will stand by you forever
You can take my breath away

Those who removed these children
From families too poor to be aware
Took them away to train
Across the border
And brought them back to proxy
For professionals
Knew exactly what they did
For governments with silent nods
And averted gaze

Willy Bach © 2003

Written in response to photos of child soldiers that were taken by Monitor journalist Frank Nyakairu in Bunia. At least 1,200 children abducted from their families in Ituri Province, Democratic Republic of Congo, have proven to be trained in military skills at a UPDF camp near Kampala, Uganda.

Brazen denials followed as these child soldiers were reinserted into the ethnic tinderbox created by UPDF officers for whom this conflict was a business. The suffering of civilians in the ensuing Hema – Lendu carnage was regarded with indifference.

A technical is generally a four-wheel drive utility with a machine gun mounted on the back. This is a favoured vehicle for rebel armies, readily commandeered and converted for military use.

The song ‘Hero’ is by Enrique Iglesias frequently played on commercial FM stations in Uganda.

Romper Room Securities was a derisive name given to a firm of New York stock brokers that was started by a teenage early school leaver in the heady bull market of the early 90s.


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