29 August, 2005

Incident at Najaf (Iraq)

Brisbane will be commemorating 11 September 2001 by mourning the deaths of so many people in a number of countries as a result of US retribution for the deaths from the attacks on the twin towers of the World Trade Center. We will be linking up with Cindy Sheehan in Texas, USA, showing our support for her campaign against the illegal war of aggression and plunder in Iraq. Actor Martin Sheen, Rev. Al Sharpton and Joan Baez Come To Crawford In Support Of Cindy Sheehan http://www.uruknet.info/?p=m15162&l=i&size=1&hd=0 Israel's Women In Black have also joined this protest. Cindy Sheehan is part of Gold Star Families for Peace http://www.gsfp.org/ where you can find dozens of links like Iraq Veterans Against War http://www.ivaw.net/

No one really know how many people have been killed in Iraq (in addition to Cindy Sheehan's son, Casey, but Gideon Polya calculates that the death toll is now over 110,000. http://www.countercurrents.org/iraq-polya110305.htm Passive Genocide in Iraq. See also http://www.occupationwatch.org/

Cindy Sheehan's email address Scindy121 at aol.com
Write to:
Cindy SheehanCrawford Peace House9142 East 5th StreetCrawford, TX 76638-3037, USA

Incident at Najaf (Iraq)

The kids from Ohio didn’t know
Why they were sent there
In the sun and the sand all day
They were under orders and hard wired
To expect trouble from these people
They had no knowledge of
Did not understand
And they were shit scared

They knew what to do if the car stopped
Or if the car didn’t stop
But no one had told them what they had to do
If unarmed civilians didn’t understand what they
Were supposed to do and failed to follow orders

There was less than a second to decide
No other option but to shoot first
Too scared to think trained to respond
With military precision
Self-protection more important
Than right and wrong

Its not for their President
Or those who voted for him
To live with this error
Nor their officers
Whose fingers were not actually
Squeezing the triggers
Only they who realised too late
Blowing away whole families
Will relive that moment
Sleeplessly for their lifetime

Willy Bach © 2003

Footnote: This was only one of many reports of the killing of civilians in Iraq by US forces. Soldiers are frequently placed in situations where, if they make a mistake, they will either be killed themselves or may kill non-combatants. This has happened on a number of occasions in the North, East and Northeast of Uganda. The military solution is a very blunt instrument.

23 August, 2005

Forced Choice Questions – Kasese Dilemmas

Forced Choice Questions – Kasese Dilemmas

“It is better to have free schooling for our children
Even if the quality of education is low”
Bearing in mind the agenda
Of the underlying assumptions

“Is it better for everyone to have a job
Even if it means average wages are low”
So why not ask people who earn US$1 a day
And ask them how they do it

“In order to develop the country
The government should have the power
To seize property without compensation”
If you were given the choice
Would you sabotage the future

“Since elections sometimes produce bad results
We should adopt other methods
For choosing this country’s leaders”
Just start imagining some of the choices

“Political parties create division
It is therefore unnecessary
To have many political parties in Uganda”
“Since the president represents all of us
He should pass laws without worrying
What the parliament thinks”

All we need is a patriotic media

Willy Bach © 2002

Written in Kasese at the time of the organizing of the Baseline Survey for the EU Civic Education Programme. Quoted lines are from the questionnaire document.

Photo by Willy Bach, November 2002, Kasese, Major General James Kazini’s hotel under construction, funded from his ‘business’ dealings in Ituri Province, DRC. This photo was taken with a telephoto lens from the town after having my film confiscated from me at gunpoint on the site. The hotel sits ‘gouged’ into a foothill of the Rwenzori Mountains.

Tampa Day 2001 - remembered Saturday 27 August 2005

Lots of things have happened since my previous posting. We have gone from World Refugee Day on 20 June, to Melbourne and Morry Schwartz commenting on the impending federal defamation legislation 5 July (expect Phillip Ruddock to remove some more of our freedom of expression) http://www.slv.vic.gov.au/programs/ltf/lectures/rbl/2005/schwartz.html

Students of Sustainability Conference, 11-16 July at Monash University http://www.fta.org.au/node/472/view

Then came the poetry event 'Words Against Warriors' at The Brisbane Social Forum 29, 30 and 31 July http://www.brisbanesocialforum.org/

Then came Hiroshima Day 8 August (remembering two grotesque experiments that may not have ended the war in the Pacific and saved thousands of lives - as we were told for so long) http://www.abc.net.au/pm/stories/s159696.htm

Next a state by-election in Queensland Saturday 20 August (more on this) to Tampa Day 27 August - a day of shame for Australians to ask forgiveness from asylum seekers who were so wronged by our pernicious government policies.

John Howard is not the only threat to our fragile democracy. This is a letter I wrote to Peter Beattie, following his comments on ABC TV (Saturday 20 August), when confronted by Greens candidate for the by election in Chatsworth, Elissa Jenkins, on the vexing subject of bogus How to Vote cards (are they legal?).

Gives you the letter I wrote to Peter Beattie, Premier of Queensland. This is someone who believes it is OK to cheat when the law is too weak to stop you. Moral relativism like that of 'Pete the Cheat' is not the sort of example I would like to be giving to children of the next generation.

The way politicians are reminds me of the 'development' industry and how they want to change other people. The problem is that neo-liberal political operators want to make everyone 'fall into line' (as John Howard would say of Muslim Australians). Things work (or don't work) in much the same way in developing countries. See next posting!