Terna Gyuse - Each episode of the Democratic Republic of Congo’s long-running civil war has weighed particularly heavily on women, yet women have relatively little voice in the negotiations for peace. The renewed fighting that broke out in August 2008 between the National Congress for the Defence of the People (known by its French acronym, CNDP) and the DRC’s army and allied militias has again exposed Congolese women to displacement, death and widespread sexual violence. As director of the Society of Women Against AIDS in Africa in the DRC, Aimée Mwadi Kady conducted a study of the effects of pervasive sexual violence in the eastern DRC. Katana Gégé Bukuru set up the organisation Solidarity of Activist Women for Human Rights, which trains women to defend their rights. Here they speak candidly to Terna Gyuse during the November 2008 conference of the Association of Women in Development.
Naima Bouteldja - Front-page horror stories of extremist preachers filling the heads of young British Muslims with suicidal thoughts are a crude but effective means of helping to create the environment necessary for authoritarian action. They also help to sell newspapers. So it is that, since the tragic events of July 7th, Fleet Street’s fundamentalists have focused on “mad” Omar Bakri Muhammad, “bad” Abu Qatada and, of course, the tabloid favourite: the one-eyed, hooked-handed Abu Hamza. However, caught in the spotlight are some of the very thinkers Muslims and non-Muslims need to hear.
Azmi Bishara - Between the self-promotion and consumerist hype of the Live 8 concerts, it is possible to discern some of the features of an albeit unwritten and unsystematically thought out ideology, which places itself at the centre of, rather than against, current global policies. There are no longer evil forces in the world, not even in the context of African poverty, with the exception, of course, of fundamentalist Islamic movements. The London bombings furnished an opportunity to affirm the sense of harmony and complacency within a culture that has rallied to display its solidarity on behalf of the absolutely abstract victim, poor and defenceless Africa, which cannot, in contrast to the culture of terrorism, play anything but the victim. It is important, too, that our demonstrations of universal solidarity in the fight against poverty and disease be heavily spiced with celebrity appearances and performances lest solidarity becomes boring.
John Pilger - The enemy then was fascism. The enemy then was a great world power, rapacious, with plans of domination, of capturing the world’s natural resources: the oil fields of the Caspian and the Middle east, the mineral riches of Africa. They seemed invincible. The enemy then was also lies. Deceit. News dressed up as propaganda. Appeasement. A large section of the British establishment saw fascism as its friend. Some understood the nature of fascism, and they saw through the lies ands the deceit and the appeasement. They also knew that the true enemy didn’t always wear arm bands, and didn’t always strut, or command great rallies, but were impeccable English gentlemen who supported ruthless power behind a smokescreen of propaganda that appropriated noble concepts like “democracy” and “freedom” and “our way of life” and “our values”.
Mike Whitney - There are only two implements in the imperial tool-chest; fear and deception. Any serious investigation of the London bombings must keep this in mind; fear and deception are the lone forces that animate the administration and move policy. We will never completely know the level of government involvement in the London bombings, nor do we need to. We know that terror serves the greater interests of the state, props up the flagging careers of inept politicians, savages civil liberties, incites violence against minorities, divides society into hostile political encampments and vindicates the war agenda. We also know that Blair’s fear mongering on the attacks has enhanced his standing with the British people and increased his ability to manipulate public opinion.
Peter Symonds - If one deleted the names and dates from a description of the Dujail massacre, it could just as easily be the description of an untold number of US military operations in Iraq. A convoy comes under attack, helicopter gunships strafe the neighbouring village or suburb, squads of heavily armed troops kill or detain hundreds of suspected “terrorists”, and the arrested are held in detention centres without trial and tortured. The scale of atrocities in Dujail pales in comparison to the US military’s levelling of Fallujah, but the last thing that the Bush administration wants is to have to defend all of the lies that it used to justify its act of aggression. By insisting that the trial take place in Baghdad, the White House has ensured that the US invasion will never become a courtroom issue.
Ramzy Baroud - Sharon has once more demonstrated that he is anything but a changed man. His words and actions are the single required testimony. In fact, one might argue that his commitment to the illegal settlements project is approaching the apex: Caging in Palestinians in the whole occupied territories, effectively annexing 58 per cent of the West Bank, expanding the borders of “Greater Jerusalem”, dispatching thousands of Jewish settlers from Gaza to the West Bank, incarcerating tens of thousands of Palestinians behind walls, fences, trenches and locked gates. This is what the Israeli Prime Minister has to offer Palestinians in response to their one sided ceasefire and to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, whose foremost priority seems to be proving to Washington and Tel Aviv, that he, unlike Arafat, is a worthy and “relevant” peace partner.
Iman Al-Saadun - I am sending this letter to the British people and, in particular, to the residents of London. For a period of hours, you lived through moments of anxiety and horror. In those hours you lost a member of your family or a friend, and we wish to tell you, in total honesty, that we, too, grieve when human lives are lost. You don’t know our martyrs, but we know them. You don’t remember them or cry over them, but we do. Have you heard the name of the little girl Hannan Salih Matrud? Or of the boy Ahmad Jabir Karim? Or Sa`id Shabram? Yes, our dead have names too. They have faces and stories and memories. There was a time when they were among us, laughing and playing. They had dreams, just as you have. They had a tomorrow awaiting them. But today they sleep among us with no tomorrow on which to wake.
Guest Editorial from MediaLens - Terrible ironies attend the use of violence for political ends. Despite their ostensible opposition, two warring factions are often united in their fundamental view of the world. Both insist that continued violence is the only realistic option. Both insist the enemy is the incarnation of mindless evil, completely beyond reason. Both reject as treasonous rational analyses indicating their own responsibility for promoting violence and rejecting non-violent alternatives. In other words, patriotic clichés and rousing rhetoric come at a high price. To the extent that rational thought and compassion for suffering are drowned out, the forces of violence are empowered.
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