Friday, 19 March 2010

Monday, 15 March 2010


Sent to jail for throwing a single bottle
The Guardian
13 March 2010

Last year, during protests against the attack on Gaza, a mixed group of demonstrators clashed with police. But when the alleged culprits were arrested in dawn raids, nearly all those taken were young Muslims

Badi Tebani and his wife were sleeping peacefully when all
hell broke loose. He shudders at the memory. The front door
was forced open, and then came the screaming. "Wah, wah,
wah, get down, get down, you are under arrest." Any number
of voices. He thought it was a nightmare – that he was back
in Algeria in the bad old days before he was granted
political asylum in Britain, and that the military had
broken into the house. When he opened his eyes, his bedroom
was full of police officers. "I have diabetes and high
blood pressure," he says quietly. "It was worse than
Algeria, even. I became very depressed."

It was 5am, April 2009. Badi's eldest son Hamza, 23, takes
up the story. "I woke up and tried to get out of bed. The
next thing is three police officers jump on top of me with
their knees, and they handcuffed me so hard I screamed.
That's when I really woke up." Hamza had been sleeping in
shorts. When he asked if he could put a shirt on the police
said no and opened the window. "It was freezing. I was

His three brothers, the youngest of whom was 15 at the
time, were also handcuffed. Hamza says there were too many
officers to count – somewhere between 20 and 30. They took
computers, clothes, iPhones, everything. "I've never been
in trouble, never been to the police station except when my
car was broken into, and they were treating me as a
criminal. One of the officers was playing card games with
my iPhone, another was just ordering coffee."

Badi, an Arabic teacher, tuts. "They make our house into a
coffee shop."

But it wasn't Badi or Hamza the police were after. It was
Yahia, one of Hamza's younger brothers. When Yahia heard
that the police were looking for him he was confounded. "I
didn't know why they were there, and then I hear my name
and I'm shocked."

Three months earlier, in January last year, Yahia had been
outside the Israeli embassy on a fractious demonstration
against Israel's sustained bombing of Gaza. The British
foreign secretary, David Milliband, had condemned the
"unacceptable" loss of life caused by the Israeli strikes
on Gaza, saying the "dark and dangerous" events could fuel
extremism, and had called for an immediate ceasefire from
both Israel and Hamas.

Protesters complained that the demonstration was policed
provocatively and that they had been "kettled" inside a
tunnel and beaten. Meanwhile, the police complained that
they had been assaulted by demonstrators.

Yahia, 18, says both accounts are true. He claims that the
policing was aggressive and intimidatory, and that
demonstrators responded by throwing sticks and bottles at
the embassy and the officers, who were wearing full-body
shields. Yahia picked up a few sticks from discarded
banners and flung them in the direction of the police. He
was one of approximately 50,000 demonstrators, many of whom
threw objects. It was a mixed bunch – white and black,
Muslim and Christian, Stop the War Coalition, CND, all
sorts. This was one of a number of Gaza demonstrations
covered on television news, and it was reported there had
been some trouble – but nothing on the scale of, say, the
G20 protests or the poll tax riots.

Yahia, who was studying media technology at Kingston
University, had gone on the march for two reasons – to
protest, and to interview fellow demonstrators for a
project on Gaza. The crowd was held by the police for four
hours and eventually released. Some people were filmed and
had to give their name and address to the police, some were
arrested. Yahia simply left of his own accord, and
eventually got home at midnight.

He told Hamza it had been a difficult day, it had given him
plenty of food for thought, and that was that – until the
police broke into the family home in Finsbury Park, north
London, three months later. Yahia was arrested in March and
charged with violent disorder and burglary – at one point
during the demo, he says, he had taken a chair from the
nearby Starbucks to sit on, but police reports said the
Starbucks was trashed and mugs and chairs were used as
weapons. He was advised that the burglary charge would be
dropped if he pleaded guilty to violent disorder, for which
he would probably receive a suspended sentence or community
service. He thought a lesser charge of affray would have
been fairer, but agreed to the compromise. "It would always
look bad in the future if it says burglary. People won't
know what really happened, so I couldn't risk that being on
my file."

What Yahia didn't realise was nearly all the protesters who
pleaded guilty to violent disorder would end up receiving
immediate prison sentences. His friend Sidali is serving
two years. Yahia was in court the day Sidali was sentenced.
"He didn't even throw sticks," he claims. "He just pushed
or something, and his clothes were ripped a bit. In court
he was crying. The shock on his face, I've never seen
anything like that. Pah!" He blows his lips together in

Yahia is to be sentenced this month. How's he feeling?
"Stressed. Pah. Just waiting to go in. I've been asking my
friend what it's like. He says time goes quick – he doesn't
want to scare me."

It's not just the prospect of prison that terrifies him,
it's what comes after. "If I've got 'ex-prisoner' on my
file, how am I going to get a job? It will destroy my

At Isleworth crown court in London, where the cases are
being heard, a disturbing pattern is emerging. Most of the
78 protesters charged with public order offences were young
men in their late teens or 20s. Many were students. And
nearly all were Muslim. Some 22 protesters have already
received prison terms of up to two and a half years for
public order offences, and more cases are due to come
before the courts in the coming months.

The Gaza Protesters Defence Campaign has been formed by the
families of some of those arrested, together with
sympathetic MPs, the Stop the War Coalition and CND. The
campaign aims to highlight the perceived injustice, and has
launched a petition which will be presented to the attorney
general and the director of public prosecutions.

Earlier this month, families queued up outside committee
room 15 in the House of Commons for a campaign meeting.
Many feel bewildered by the sentences the courts have
passed on their sons and daughters, brothers and sisters.
When Joanna Gilmore, a researcher at the University of
Manchester's law school who has monitored the cases, gets
to her feet the room is already full, and latecomers are
forced to listen from the corridor. "The vast majority of
the people involved here are of exemplary character," she
says, to mutters of approval. "The demonstrations were
overwhelmingly peaceful and if you compare the relatively
minor disturbances that took place with the violence on
other demonstrations these sentences are very severe."

Gilmore, who has followed all the court cases, says the
police arrested more people at the Gaza protests than at
any political demonstration since the poll tax riots, when
about 90 were charged with public order offences. At last
year's G20 demonstrations, during which a branch of the
Royal Bank of Scotland was looted, 20 were charged.

"Many were on their first demonstration and were protesting
because they were appalled about what was happening in
Gaza," Gilmore says. "These people and their families are
in shock and say that they will never take part in
political demonstrations again."

Bruce Kent, a former general secretary of CND and long-time
peace activist, gets to his feet to address the packed
meeting. Kent, 80, had been on the demonstration and says
he was "amazed and indignant" about the reaction of the
police and the courts.

"I don't know why there isn't absolute outrage … All this
will do is solidify in people's minds the idea that there
is a persecution of Muslims which is determined and
organised and will result in some young people being

He says there is a huge discrepancy in the way different
people are treated by the law, and recalls a time in 1986
when he had been convicted of criminal damage after cutting
a wire fence during a protest at a nuclear base. "I was in
the crown court waiting with my toothbrush packed. I
thought I was off to one of her majesty's holiday camps.
Not at all, not even a fine. Why? Because I am middle-class
and white."

Like Yahia Tebani, 24-year-old Ashir was in bed when the
police raided her west London flat at 4am. The strange
thing is, she says, her brother, who is due to be sentenced
for his part in the demonstrations this month, has never
been interested in "politics or religion" and only joined
the protest because he was at his cousins' house when they
decided to go.

Although Ashir says her younger sibling did not throw any
missiles, she admits he did protect himself when the
"police people started fighting". He left as soon as he
could, giving his details to officers. Two months later the
police made their unannounced visit.

"We heard a disturbance at the neighbour's flat first and I
heard loads of banging and shouting," she says. "I looked
out of the window but no one had police uniforms on so I
didn't know what was happening. A few minutes later when we
were getting back into bed we heard people running up the
stairs and then our door burst open. I was so scared
because I had no idea what was happening or who these
people were."

Every detail chimes with Yahia's experience – the family
were handcuffed for two and a half hours, Ashir only had
her nightclothes on and was not allowed to get dressed and
her computer was taken. "They said I may have weapons in
the house, but I didn't understand – what weapons could I
have? I am not a criminal. They went through everything.
They said they were looking for evidence, for clothes that
my brother had been wearing on the demonstration. They took
my laptop which had my university dissertation on spa
tourism on it because they said he had had access to it. I
asked if I could at least email the dissertation to myself
but they said I wasn't allowed to touch it. I still have
not got it back almost a year later even though I keep
asking for it. I had to start my dissertation from where I
had last saved it on a uni computer."

Ashir, who does not want to give her real name because she
fears going public might result in her brother being given
a bigger sentence, still has panic attacks about what
happened that night. "I am scared if I see any police
anywhere. Even if I was angry about something I would never
go on a demonstration now because I have seen what can

Muhammad Sawalha, president of the British Muslim
Initiative anti-racist group, has two questions: why were
such a high proportion of those arrested Muslim, and why
have they been dealt with so heavy-handedly?

Actually, Judge John Denniss has been quite clear about
sentencing policy. He has said, more than once, the
draconian sentences are meant to act as a deterrent to
future protesters. But, because of the fact that the people
being brought before the courts are disproportionately
Muslim, Sawalha says, the consequences could be disastrous:
"The British Muslim Initiative encourages Muslims to
express their feelings and ambitions and frustrations only
through political and legal processes. But if anything
sends the message that Muslims cannot express themselves
through political processes, and they will not be dealt
with like others, it will give more strength to the fringes
within the community who say democracy and the political
system doesn't apply to Muslims in this country. This will
only increase the frustration and sense of alienation among
these people."

Dr Khalil al-Ani says his son Mosab was one of the lucky
ones. There was no pre-dawn raid, no handcuffs, no
ransacking. He was simply asked to surrender his passport
to the police. Months after throwing an empty Orangina
bottle – the police said it was at them, Mosab said it was
at the Israeli embassy gates – he was charged. Mosab, who
was on a medical access course, hoped to be a dentist or
dental technician. He is now in prison serving a one-year

It was the first demonstration Mosab had been on since his
family marched against the Iraq war in 2003. Al-Ani, an
Iraqi who works as a GP in Wakefield and Leeds, was pleased
his son would be on the march. His two sisters were also
going, and Al-Ani felt Mosab, then 20, would protect them.

Mosab was arrested on the day and taken to a police station
where he admitted throwing the bottle, apologised, and
stressed that he had not aimed it at the police. He was
released and returned to Yorkshire, but didn't tell his
father what had happened – he didn't want to worry him, and
he assumed it was the last he would hear of it.

"He didn't think it was serious because how many times have
you seen something like this or more serious, and nothing
happens." Al-Ani stops, and apologises for his tears. "I'm
sorry I get so emotional. I came to this country in 1981.
You can hear by the way I speak my accent is not purely
British. It is a foreign accent after all these years. But
Mosab was born here in 1988 – he is British in every sense.
This is the first time I feel that because he's a Muslim
he's been discriminated against. What he did was certainly
wrong, but he should be treated similar to a British
citizen. He's gone to prison for a single bottle that
didn't hurt anybody."

The astonishing thing is, he says, that the judge gave
Mosab a flawless character reference. "He said, 'I know you
came here peacefully, I know you have an excellent
character, I know you were not armed, you said sorry to the
police.'" He was sure his son would go free. "I was so
pleased. Then the judge says, 'I'm going to give you this
sentence to deter other people.'"

Back in north London, Badi Tebani is looking at the door
the police forced open. As they left the house, they made a
point of telling him it was still in one piece. "When they
finished their work, the police officers show me the door
and say, 'It's not broken, look, look,' and they took a
photograph. I told him, it doesn't matter if you broke the
door, you broke my life."

Thursday, 11 March 2010


Sinn Féin Party President,Gerry Adams MP
MLA addresses Ard
Fheis 2010

A half a million citizens unemployed. Social welfare
payments cut. Wages cut. Health and Education in
crisis. Families facing eviction. Mass emigration back
again. Parts of the country under water. In other parts the
drinking water is unsafe. Billions of taxpayers money
gifted to a dysfunctional, toxic banking system.

Widespread anger, rage even, at the government parties. And
a sense of hopelessness and disbelief.

It would be easy for me to stand up here and to rail
against the government – to become Mr. Angry for a half an
hour. But that is not enough.

Most people know how bad this government is. They elected
it. Which is why there is such a sense of betrayal. Most
people also know that the policies of a Fine Gael led
government would be no different from this one. The Irish
people deserve better.

Everyone who lives on this island has the right to a home;
to a safe environment; to access to education and
child-care; to civil and religious liberty; and to
meaningful work with proper terms and conditions. Everyone
has the right to health care. Everybody has the right to
equality, and to respect and dignity.

This is the essence of republicanism. It is the essence of

Is any of this reflected in today’s Ireland? The answer to
that is no.

Sinn Féin believes in a genuine republic. Not a nominal
dictionary republic, but one in which the people are truly

I gceann cúpla seachtain beidh muid ag ceiliúradh agus
cuimhní ar na haislingigh a chuaigh amach le linn Seachtain
na Cásca. D’ardaigh said brat na hÉireann os cionn Oifig an
Phoist anseo i mBaile Átha Cliath. Is maith is eol dúinn go
raibh fís ag na fir agus na mná seo. Bhí sé de rún acu
deireadh a chur le riail na Breataine sa tír seo agus tír
iomlán nua a thógáil anseo. Bhí fís acu don Phoblacht Nua
le saoirse ag croílár an chlár rialtais réabhlóideach
s’acu. An aithneodh siad an stát seo mar bhuaic na
haislinge sin? Ní dóigh liom é. The Proclamation of the
Republic asserts the need to cherish all the children of
the nation equally. It doesn’t say 26 counties of the
nation. It speaks of ALL the nation and ALL its parts. All
32 counties. The Proclamation speaks to ALL the children of
the Nation. It doesn’t say – unless you are poor or
elderly. Or unless you have autism; or learning
difficulties; or disabilities. Or unless you come from a
remote rural area. Or from Moyross or Sheriff Street; or
Strabane or Ballymena. It doesn’t say unless you are a
child in the care of the state. The protection of children
is a fundamental human right. The protection of children is
the responsibility of all of us and it should be guaranteed
in the constitution

The establishment parties, like us, know that republicanism
is in many ways the conscience of the Irish people. Little
wonder that they wrap themselves in republican rhetoric
while avoiding any genuine examination of the real meaning
of republicanism. Which brings us to the hard question. How
can society be changed? How can a real republic be
achieved? The answer to that starts in the heart. It is a
belief in people. That is the starting point. And what
starts in the heart has to move to the head. It is not
enough to wax lyrical about peoples’ rights.

We have to stand up for these rights. The people of Ireland
have yet to realise our destiny as a nation. We have yet to
complete our journey. This summer marks the 40th
Anniversary of the IRA appearing on the streets of Belfast
when Republicans joined with the people of the
Ballymaccarett in the defence of St. Matthews chapel and An
Trá Ghearr. That single act of resistance. This stand
against the Orange State marked the beginning of a journey
for many activists. That journey has seen struggle and
strategies played out on the streets, in the jails and
round the negotiating table. During this time Irish society
has changed in many fundamental ways Imagine what can be
achieved now in these more peaceful times with the leveling
of the political playing field and in a climate were the
phony republicanism of the establishment is being laid
bare. So, we have to build on all that is good in our
society. We have to recognise all our heroes and heroines;
all the carers and health workers; all the active citizens
in the community and the voluntary sector, people involved
in sports, the arts and music; all those citizens who
create hope in place of misery, and common purpose in place
of mé féinism and selfishness. The key to building the new
republic, democratically shaped by the people, is to start
now. We have to embrace our strengths. Our language. Our
unique culture. Our history.

And all of us who believe in a better way, in a just
society, in a real republic; we need to make our beliefs
relevant to more and more people. We need to be about
empowerment. We need to raise our voices. We need to make a

If ever Ireland needed leadership it needs it now. Leaders
from throughout our communities. Leaders who will make a
stand. We need leaders who will give voice on the ground
and from the ground up, to the belief they have in their
hearts, so that hope and networks for change can be built.

We need leaders to ensure that no banker will evict a
family from their home.

That no farm of land will be sold off over a family’s head.

That no worker will be victimised. We need leaders to
ensure that no community will be robbed of its social
entitlements. But let me be clear about this. I am not
talking about leaders coming down to us from on high. I am
talking about everyone who is prepared to stand against
corruption, greed and injustice. Every woman, every man,
every citizen who makes such a stand is a leader. Every
little act of resistance, of rebellion, of protest, makes
change possible. Most struggles aren’t won by single
actions. Or by iconic leaders. Though they have their role.
They are won by people, taking individual actions, which
accumulate into irreversible change. It was true of the
suffragettes. It was true of the anti-apartheid movement.
It was true when Rosa Parks wouldn’t give up her seat and
it is true here in Ireland. When the Celtic Tiger economy
was at its height, and when the surplus of wealth was the
greatest in the history of this state, the establishment
refused to distribute the wealth in the common good and to
secure the future.

They would not nationalise the wealth.

But now they are happy to nationalise the debt. There is
talk of a Cabinet reshuffle. This government doesn’t need a
reshuffle. This government needs to go. Do they really
think the people are amadáns. Do they really expect the
people to foot the bill for the bankers, the developers and
their political cronies? The people need to send them a
message. The people need to tell them to get lost. Don’t
wait until the next election. Make a stand now. Be a
leader. Don’t wait for anyone else.

That’s the main thing, to stand up for ourselves. And for
others. That is what happened throughout our history. In
our homes. On the streets. On lonely hillsides. By
glensides. In the prisons.

This is what happened in the history of human kind. It’s
what is happening across the globe. Representatives from
many of these struggles are with us tonight.

Cead mile Failte romhaibh to all of our visitors.

Especially, to our friends from the Basque country; from
the USA and Canada; from Cuba; from South Africa and from
Palestine. All these struggles show the enduring power of
the human spirit in the search for freedom and justice.
Change is possible, if we really want it. And those of us
who care about the world; who care about Ireland; those of
us who believe in the people of this island, we have no
choice but to make a stand, particularly for those citizens
who cannot at this time stand up for themselves.

Sinn Féin is opposed to this government because it’s not
fair and because its policies are unsustainable.

But we are also opposed to them because there is an
alternative that will work. Sinn Féin has produced
thoughtful, costed and effective policies to chart a course
beyond this recession. Sinn Féin has set out how we would
do this through a major €3.2 billion stimulus package.

- We would establish a jobs retention fund for small and
medium businesses.

- We would set up a youth jobs fund to create 20,000 jobs.

- We would use the public sector to kickstart the economy

- We would include a social clause in public contracts for
hiring of a set number of apprentices, young unemployed and
long term unemployed, as has been done in the north by the
Sinn Féin Minister for Regional Development Conor Murphy.

- We would reclaim Brand Ireland and introduce an
aggressive all-Ireland export strategy.

All of this is possible. Jobs can be protected. Jobs can be
created. Frontline public services can be sustained and
developed if public finance is raised in a fair way. This
means real social solidarity. This means uniting public and
private sector workers, not dividing them.

Among our proposals are:

· a third rate of tax for those earning more than €100,000
a year;

· a solidarity tax of 1% on all assets worth more than €1
million, excluding farm land;

· and an end to the hundreds of unfair tax reliefs which
this government refuses to get rid of.

The biggest scandal of all is the pouring of billions of
taxpayers’ money into a toxic banking system and NAMA.
There is no NAMA for workers. And now the banks, which pay
their CEOs half a million Euro a year, are increasing
interest rates for the same taxpayers who are bailing them
out. And at the same time they are refusing credit to small
or medium businesses. And they are getting away with it.
Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin called it right when he said ‘the
closer you are to a minister in the Dublin government the
less you will suffer.’ This Fianna Fail/Green Party
government has also inflicted deep cuts on the farming
sector and on disadvantaged rural areas. Sinn Féin
understands the difficulties facing rural communities. Our
TDs and our Senator have produced three major Oireachtas
reports. These set out proposals to regenerate the west, to
ensure a viable future for fishing and farming communities,
and to create more jobs in the agri-food sector. In the
north Minister for Agriculture, Michelle Gildernew, is
tackling the needs of farmers in disadvantaged areas and
the needs of rural women.

Ó thaobh an tuaiscirt de, tá sárobair déanta ag Martin
McGuinness agus foireann na gcainteanna Sinn Féin. Bhí an
tionól agus na hinstitiúidí uile Éireann i gcontúirt mar
gheall ar chonstaicí an DUP. Ach le díograis agus fócas ár
ndaoine, bhí Sinn Féin agus an DUP ábalta teacht ar
chomhaontú nua. Rinne Aontachtóirí conradh le
Poblachtánaigh agus bhog muid an próiseas iomlán seo ar
aghaidh go dtí an chéad chéim eile. Just over a month ago
we concluded an agreement at Hillsborough with the DUP on
the way forward.

Many thought this couldn’t happen. But it did. This was a
hugely important, and symbolic moment. I want to pay
tribute to Martin McGuinness, and Gerry Kelly and our other
Ministers, as well as to the Sinn Féin negotiating team,
for all their hard work. Here is proof, if proof was needed
of the importance of negotiations as an area of struggle.

Under this Agreement powers on policing and justice will be
transferred in April. By the end of the year there will
also be the transfer of powers from London to Belfast to
deal with the issue of parades. More powers moving from
England to Ireland. Outstanding issues including Irish
language rights will also be delivered on and there is
additional funding for the language. This Agreement is a
staging post. It is proof that change is possible.

Sinn Féin achieved all this by being bold and by being
focussed. By standing up for ourselves. By standing up to
the governments. By standing up for the rights of citizens
in a continuous process of change.

The last year has been a challenging one for us, for the
peace process and for the people of this island.

It has also been a difficult period for my clann. I thank
everyone who has expressed solidarity with my family.
Colette in particular has asked me to thank everyone who
sent her get well messages. Go raibh mile maith agaibh go
leir I want to congratulate Maurice Quinlivan on his
determination to clear his good name. In the end Willie
tripped over his own moustache but be assured he would
still be in this awful government if Maurice had not made a
stand. Maith an fear Maurice. Will that end the attacks on
Sinn Féin? Of course not. The only difference between
Willie and the other smearers and backstabbers is that
Willie got caught out. As this government lurches toward an
election we can expect more of this. But we have a message
for the government and its fellow travellers. Let there be
no doubt about this. Given the mandate, Sinn Féin will
dismantle the culture of political cronyism and the golden

This proud party is interested only in making a positive
difference in the lives of the Irish people. Those who say
that this isn’t possible should look to what is emerging
from our efforts in government in the north.

This includes tackling fuel poverty; it means free travel
for the over 60s; the ending of prescription charges; and
the freezing of the regional rate. Sinn Féin Ministers have
introduced class room assistants in every P1 and P2 class;
we have invested in schools; in jobs; in infrastructure. We
have staved off water charges; and brought forward funding
to tackle rural poverty and social exclusion. Everything
that Sinn Féin has done is rooted in the equality agenda.
That is why some of the big initiatives, particularly on
education, have met such resistance. The opposition to the
removal of the 11 plus is mainly class driven and arises
from the desire of a small minority to protect an unequal
system. Parents want the best for their children. So do we.

Our commitment is to ensure that every school is a good
school and that every child has full equality of
opportunity. I am absolutely convinced that this will be
the outcome, not least because of the leadership shown by
the Minister of Education, Caitríona Ruane and progressive
educationalists, and teachers.

In the next few weeks the Westminster elections will give
us the opportunity to strengthen our mandate. We will be
making a stand in every constituency in the Six Counties.

If the northern Assembly runs to its full term all
communities in the north will have benefited from Sinn Féin
in government. We are already planning for the next
Assembly term.

This will build on the successes of our Assembly team and
set more challenging targets and goals for Sinn Féin in
government. And let me invite the viewers at home to help
us write that manifesto for change. Sinn Féin will once
again be holding Town Hall meetings. We want to be a
citizen’s conduit to government. I invite you to come along
– to put your issue – your needs – your requirements on the
Executive table.

Unionism? Unionism knows that Sinn Féin is a willing
partner in a government that is responsive, effective and
delivering. One of the big tasks facing the Executive is to
eradicate sectarianism. The vast majority of people want
this. There is work for everyone. And it is up to unionists
to demonstrate that unionism and sectarianism are not the
same and that they are as opposed to sectarianism as we

Luaigh mé níos luaithe na haislingigh naoi deag se deag
agus fís na Poblachta a bhí acu. Bhí fís ag Wolfe Tone
roimhe sin. Chuir seisean síos ar an nasc leis an Bhreatain
mar foinse dár gcuid trioblóidí polaitiúla go léir.
Caithfidh muid teacht ar ais chuige agus muid ag ullmhú don
chéad chuid eile den turas don Phoblacht Nua. In many ways
we are back with Tone and the need to unite catholic,
protestant and dissenter. We do this by making friends with
unionists and developing normal human relationships based
on tolerance, respect and equality. Let us be clear about
this; the unity of people in everyday life and the unity of
this great country of ours is part of the same human
endeavour. Sinn Féin believes that a free, independent and
United Ireland makes political and economic sense. Last
year I set out our intention to engage with the Irish
diaspora and to marshal its political strength in support
of a United Ireland. Over the last twelve months thousands
of people came together in New York, San Francisco, Toronto
and London at major conferences to put their weight behind
the demand for Irish unity. This campaign is gathering
momentum. Now is the time to make partition history. Now is
the time to build an Ireland we can be proud of. Sinn Féin
is united and strong. Sinn Féin is looking to the future.
Sinn Féin is making a stand. The British army, the heavy
gangs, the old Orange regime and slíbhín governments here
could not break us. Censorship, the prisons and the death
squads could not break us. And no amount of black
propaganda in the Tony O’Reilly press will break us either.

20 years ago Nelson Mandela – Madiba – the first President
of a free South Africa - walked free from prison. 20 years
ago there was war in Ireland. So, when someone tells you
that that apartheid would never end; or that peace is not
possible; or that a United Ireland is ‘pie in the sky’; or
that we can’t make a deal with the DUP; or that we can’t
beat this recession; don’t believe them – not for one
second. Believe in yourself. Make a stand. Make it happen.
Join us.

Wednesday, 10 March 2010


“Get out of there, give the Malvinas
back to the Argentine
Enough already with the empire.”

Telegraph blog

It’s rather pathetic when a Third World dictator starts
ranting and raving like a caricature villain from a Bond
movie circa 1973. Hugo Chavez, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s
tedious Mini-Me in Latin America, has been raging against
British rule over the Falklands, in a show of solidarity
with the Peronist regime in Argentina. In a rather
hysterical televised speech worthy of Saddam himself, the
Butcher of Caracas and prominent state sponsor of terrorism
declared yesterday:

“The British are desperate for oil since their own fields
in the North Sea are now being depleted. When will England
stop breaking international law? Return the Malvinas to
Argentina!… The English are desperate, the Yankees are
desperate and here we have the biggest petroleum reserves
in the world.”

He’s also quoted by The Washington Post as saying:

“Get out of there, give the Malvinas back to the Argentine
people. Enough already with the empire.”

Of course this is not the first time Tehran’s little helper
has lectured London on the Falklands. Back in 2007, he
called for revenge against Britain for the Falklands War,
and boasted that he would use Russian and Iranian weapons
against the British if another task force was sent to the
South Atlantic, stating:

“If we had been united in the last war, we could have
stopped the old empire. Today we could sink the British

Chavez also threatened revenge for the sinking of the
Belgrano, and declared that British history was “stained
with the blood of South America’s indigenous people”.

In 2006, he said more of the same:

“We have to remember the Malvinas; how they were taken away
from the Argentines. Mr Blair, return the Malvinas to
Argentina… Do you think we still live in the times of the
British Empire or colonialism?”

In case Hugo Chavez hasn’t noticed, almost every inhabitant
of the Falkland Islands is British, and wants to remain
British. They have no wish to be governed by the yoke of
Argentina or bullied by the likes of madmen like Chavez.
They are our kith and kin and will not be left at the mercy
of foreign powers. An attack on the Falklands is no
different to an attack on the British mainland.

As I wrote earlier this week, Great Britain must be
prepared to defend the Falklands with full military force.
There are clear signs that both the current British
government and its likely successor will do so if a
threatened Argentine blockade of the islands is actually
implemented. The British Army may well be engaged in a huge
war in Afghanistan, but the resources of the Royal Navy
remain largely available for a major operation on the other
side of the world. Great Britain remains a formidable
maritime power, despite the defence cuts of the Labour
government, and its naval prowess is second only to that of
the United States and Russia.

If the Argentine regime does decide to pick a fight it will
be emphatically defeated, just as its predecessor was in
1982. And if Hugo Chavez is foolish enough to join them,
his dictatorship will share the same fate. Perhaps Chavez
will go the same way of General Galtieri, ending up on the
scrapheap of history. He should think about that before
embarking on another round of pitiful sabre-rattling.

And then they complain Obama and
Hilary are not supporting them

Telegraph blog

The transcript of Hillary Clinton’s press conference in
Buenos Aires with Argentine President Kristina Kirchner
last night, has just been released by the State Department,
and it is a real eye-opener. Her remarks represent an
astonishing propaganda coup for the Peronist regime in its
dispute with Britain over the Falklands, with Washington
brazenly backing its position.

Here’s a snippet:

QUESTION: (In Spanish) And for the Secretary, it’s about
the Falklands. The – President Fernandez talked about
possible friendly mediation. Would the U.S. be considered –
would the U.S. (inaudible) consider some kind of mediation
role between the UK and Argentina over the Falklands? Thank

PRESIDENT DE KIRCHNER: (Via interpreter) (Inaudible) what
we have (inaudible) by both countries as a friendly country
of both Argentina and the UK, so as to get both countries
to sit down at the table and address these negotiations
within the framework of the UN resolutions strictly. We do
not want to move away from that in any letter whatsoever,
any comma, of what has been stated by dozens of UN
resolutions and resolutions by its decolonization
committee. That’s the only thing we’ve asked for, just to
have them sit down at the table and negotiate. I don’t
think that’s too much, really, in a very conflicted and
controversial world, complex in terms.

SECRETARY CLINTON: And we agree. We would like to see
Argentina and the United Kingdom sit down and resolve the
issues between them across the table in a peaceful,
productive way.

And another:

QUESTION: (In Spanish) Interpreter: The journalist was just
asking how the U.S. intends to negotiate to get the United
Kingdom to sit at the table and address the Malvinas issue.

SECRETARY CLINTON: As to the first point, we want very much
to encourage both countries to sit down. Now, we cannot
make either one do so, but we think it is the right way to
proceed. So we will be saying this publicly, as I have
been, and we will continue to encourage exactly the kind of
discussion across the table that needs to take place.

Hillary Clinton’s statements at this press conference are
highly significant, as they demonstrate a clear shift in US
policy from neutrality (last week’s position) towards
siding with the Argentine position of pressing for
negotiations over the sovereignty of the Falkland Islands
at the United Nations.

The Secretary of State, a highly skilled political
operator, knows exactly what she is doing here. She is
giving her full support for the official stance of Buenos
Aires, despite the fact that Great Britain has made it
clear that the sovereignty of the Falklands is
non-negotiable. She makes no reference at all to the fact
that Argentina recently threatened a blockade of the
Falklands, or that its close ally Venezuela has been
threatening war against Britain.

Hillary Clinton’s dire performance in Buenos Aires was not
only an appalling display of appeasement towards a corrupt
and authoritarian anti-American regime, which barely has
the support of 20 percent of the Argentinian people. It was
also an astonishing betrayal of the United Kingdom by her
closest ally, and yet another slap in the face for Britain
from the Obama administration.

Clinton has demonstrated, not the first time, strikingly
poor judgment as Secretary of State. While currying favour
with a third rate kleptocracy in Latin America, she is
alienating America’s most loyal and valuable friend at a
critically important time. She also underestimates the
resolve of the British people, who will never negotiate the
future of the Falkland Islands. If the Argentines want the
Falklands they will have to fight for them, and if they
choose to do so they will be emphatically defeated, just as
they were in 1982. Hillary Clinton can cry for Argentina if
she wants to, but the Falklands will be forever British.

Tuesday, 9 March 2010


Byron Hurt's Hip-Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes


Statement on the occasion of the international women's day

The League of Arab Students in Europe

Each year on 8 March International Women's Day is
celebrated worldwide. A significant day on which we are all
reminded of the women who were and still are in a sorry
plight, mainly in those places where abuse and gender
inequality still prevails. Knowledge leads us to make
choices, that is why as Arabs and simply human beings, we
strongly object to this revolting comportment towards women
and all other appalling evil practices in the homeland.
Violations of the basic human rights such as the occasional
honor killing in Jordan, the child marriages in Saudi
Arabia, the ill treatment of foreign maids in Lebanon and
Syria to the Gulf to Morocco are still being practiced as
we speak.

The struggle for gender equality in the Arab world is part
of a larger struggle for emancipation and progression of
women worldwide. Appearances can be deceiving, because the
position of a women in Europe is as worrying as in other
countries, women in Western countries are far from being
pampered. For example, they earn far less than men in doing
the same job and are still faced to many career obstacles.
As far as goes politics, it is still the voice of men that
has the upper hand. Sexual abuse and domestic violence are
still taboos all over the world.

At the same time we do not condone some western projections
on Arab women and the way they patronize the Arab feminist
struggle. Western feminists dig their grave with their own
knife and fork and drag alone Arab women in this so-called
concept of liberation, which is simply a projection of
their own way of living. Some Western feminists went as far
as to applaud for the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan,
and as it is widely recorded, the situation of the Iraqi
woman has deteriorated drastically since the invasion.
Prostitution, fear of terrorism, loss of livelihood,
widowhood, an increase in domestic violence, the inability
to send children to school, and other forms of deprivation
are a reflection of 'liberated' Iraq and Afghanistan. A
stubborn misconception is a patriarchal domination
inextricably linked to the Arab-Islamic civilization. The
rise of the number of Islamist women in politics has played
an important role in these movements. Elsewhere, in Europe
for example, we see that the veiled woman is part of the
vanguard for gender equality and freedom of choice.

In the framework of our struggle for a world based on
justice, the League of Arab students in Europe cannot but
acknowledge that gender equality plays an indispensable
role in obtaining this goal. Every cloud has a silver
lining, therefore we fully endorse International Women's
Day and hope that the noble goal of emancipation of women
will not remain a hollow promise or an empty slogan.

Monday, 8 March 2010


Shireen Said, co-chair of the 42nd PFLP Anniversary rally in Gaza, Palestine, 12th Dec 2009

Palestinian revolutionaries on International Women’s Day

Leila Khaled: ‘Palestinian women have a fundamental role in uniting Palestinians’

Sukant Chandan interviews Palestinian revolutionary Leila Khaled and Palestinian Gaza resident and revolutionary Shireen Said for International Women’s Day 2010

The Palestinian people’s oppression continues primarily due to the financial, diplomatic and military support that the Zionist state receives from the USA, and secondly the acquiescence of pro-Western states in the region. After the fall of the Zionists state’s long lost brother – the Apartheid state of South Africa – the Palestinian struggle remains perhaps the leading and most potent anti-imperialist struggle in the world. Unsurprisingly therefore Palestinian women are a central example of what role women can play in the struggle to free themselves, their families, communities and their nation against imperialism and Zionism.

Leila Khaled brought the Palestinian struggle to the world’s attention by means of two dramatic plane hijackings in 1969 and 1970 in which no-one but one of her own comrades was killed, the person killed was American-Nicaraguan Patrick Arguello.Kahled retells her account of this hijacking in her autobiography ‘My People Shall Live’ (1973) in which she writes: “Patrick Arguello, age twenty-seven, father of three children, a Nicaraguan citizen of the world, born in. San Francisco, USA, was pronounced dead. What had prompted someone half-way across the world from Palestine to undertake this dangerous mission? Patrick was a revolutionary Communist. His gallant action was a gesture of international solidarity. A flame of life was extinguished; it lit the world for a moment; it blazed a trail on the road back to Palestine. Arguello lives, so do my people, so does the revolution!”

An iconic picture of Leila Khaled in the early 1970s

Khaled remains one of the most inspirational and influential leftist anti-imperialist women in the post-Second World War period. Leila Khaled remains active today in the leadership of the Palestinian revolution, as she is one of the central committee members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) as well as a representative of the Palestinian National Council.

The rise of the Islamists Hamas in the Palestinian revolution since the mid 1990s has meant that many people associate the Palestinian struggle with the Islamism of Hamas rather than that of Leila Khaled and other Palestinian and Arab revolutionaries such as the Lebanese communist resistance fighter Souha Bechara. But the recent 42nd anniversary rally of the PFLP in Gaza that attracted some 70,000 people raised the profile of the Palestinian revolutionary left and also of the role of women when one young woman called Shireen Said of the PFLP stood on stage giving a salute in military fatigues and was co-chair of the rally alongside her male comrade and co-chair of the PFLP rally. In an interview with the writer Said explained a little about her background, stating that she was born in 1985 Jabalya refugee camp, from which the ‘children of the stones’ started the first Intifada, “my childhood memories are mostly of the first Intifada” she explains. In her early teens she became involved in one of the student movements associated with the PFLP.

Said explains further about herself, “I studied my Bachelor in Sport at Al-Aqsa University. I worked at Progressive Student Labour Front with lots of comrades until I got the position of secretary at the students union. I was the first young woman in Gaza to get this position via democratic elections at the university. After my graduation I worked in the committees of the Union of Palestinian Women which is part of a progressive feminist struggle for women’s liberation and to bring them together and on an equal footing with men in all fields of national and democratic reform. Along with my professional work in many non-governmental organizations as an activist in youth issues, I am now a board member of the Palestinian Progressive Youth Union and I study my Masters in Education at Al-Azhar University.

Like many young women around the world, Shireen Said was inspired by the example of Leila Khaled: “Ofcourse comrade Leila Khaled as a national and international struggler inspires all women who seek freedom, social justice and an independent prosperous homeland for themselves and for the coming generations.”

When asked to react to what Said said about her, Khaled explained to the writer: “I am proud if anyone sees me as a symbol of resistance; it gives me more strength for the struggle. To see a woman anywhere struggling for a just cause gives me hope and courage for my people. Women give their life for the struggle in Palestine and elsewhere.

Leila Khaled is a symbol for many Palestinian young women including Said of commitment and sacrifice to their peoples struggle: “My story with comrade Leila started in kindergarten when we learnt the national songs about the Intifada, martyrs and our heroes like Leila, Ghassan Kanfani and Wadi Haddad. As I was growing up my interest and love towards Leila grew inside me, I wanted to know everything about her. Although I had not had the chance to meet her she inspired me and I felt proud of her. As a woman she argued that no-one could prevent her from participating with men in the hardest parts of the struggle, so comrade Leila is an example for me and for many women.”

In the historical moment in which the Palestinians are living today many of the Palestinian revolutionary left’s principles and morals are seen by many in this traditional largely Muslim and Arab society as being alien or an unnecessary importation of Western ideals and standards, therefore Said’s participation in the PFLP rally was no easy choice: “Due to our conservative and traditional society I was afraid to face such a big audience but also because it is the first time a young Palestinian woman wears military fatigues at such a rally, but nevertheless I insisted to go through with the experience.”

Said explained how her decision was largely defined by the defiance and steadfastness of the masses in Gaza during the barbaric Zionist onslaught early last year: “The Zionists massacres of in Gaza in January 2009 were still memories raw in the hearts and minds of the people, so I wanted to present a message that despite all the killing, destruction and terror of the Zionist war we will assert that our men and women will stand side-by-side in the resistance which is our path to liberation and freedom. At the rally itself I was pleased that my personality could convey these messages to millions through television and the internet across the world. My family were also very proud of me.”

Khaled emphasised the importance of defending the hundreds of Palestinian women prisoners: “I especially think of the women in Israeli jails, the women there are evidence to the torture and oppression of the occupation, and also at the same time are examples of courage and strength.

When asked what her message would be to women across the world on International Women’s Day, Said answered: “Firstly I would like to send greetings to all women who hold the banner of struggle against capitalism and imperialism and to say to them that our path is very long and hard and necessitates well thought out strategies. We shouldn’t forget that the capitalist system oppresses and exploits women and takes away their human dignity. Therefore we must adhere to our values of humanity and progressive politics as well as remaining united and strong in the revolutionary left as the best means to achieve our ends. This is the only path to attain freedom, equality and social justice for us, our families and our children.

Finally, Khaled’s message focused her message on the women of Palestine, particularly those in the West Bank and Gaza in their role in unifying the factions, especially Hamas and Fatah, a process of reconciliation and unity in which the PFLP has been playing a central role: “In this political moment the most important issue is that of unifying our people to face the terrors of the occupation, and the main basis of unity must be fighting the occupation. Fighting the occupation demands that Palestinian factions are united. It is important to understand the role of the Palestinian masses in achieving this unity by putting pressure through democratic and civil means on the Palestinian factions focusing on Hamas and Fatah. Palestinian women are adversely affected by these divisions as many of their families are divided, which is why I am adamant that Palestinian women recognise the importance of the unity in the Palestinian struggle and their role in achieving this unity.

Sons of Malcolm's Sukant Chandan in conversation with Leila Khaled in Beirut, Lebanon, Aug 2008

Sukant Chandan is a London-based political analyst and filmmaker and runs the Sons of Malcolm blog.

He can be contacted at


I am an anarchist, says Alicia Keys

The Guardian
April 2008

It seems that Alicia Keys is not just an expert on
"wreckless love," teenage affairs and fallin' for a special
someone - she's also got the inside scoop on the conspiracy
at the heart of American hip-hop.

Gangsta rap was a "ploy to convince black people to kill
each other," the singer has claimed in an interview with
Blender magazine. While most people see Ice T and Dr Dre
merely as musicians prone to bragging about their sexual
conquests, Keys insists they were instruments of mysterious
puppetmasters who exist to perpetuate the rap community's

Keys also asserts in the interview that the late-90s feud
between east and west coast hip-hop was created by shadowy
figures in government. The deaths of Notorious BIG and
Tupac Shakur were part and parcel of this plan, an attempt
"to stop another great black leader from existing," she
told Blender.

Keys isn't afraid of entering politics herself, presumably
to put a stop to all this sort of thing. "Some of the
greatest artists did their best work when they got
political," she told Blender. "If Malcolm [X] or Huey [P.
Newton] had the outlets our musicians have today, it'd be
global. I have to figure out a way to do it myself."

The singer considers herself an anarchist, and indeed the
New York police department revealed last year that they had
Keys under observation in the lead-up to the 2004
Republican National Convention, fearing "anarchist

Though there's no sign that Keys has joined a revolutionary
commune or taken to donning a black balaclava, she has, er,
donated a whole $500 to the US Democratic party. And what
could be more anarchist than that?

Nevertheless, nobody should doubt the strength of Alicia
Keys' convictions. Her fervour is symbolised in the pendant
she wears around her neck. It's not a pretty star or a
broken heart, a unicorn or a rainbow. It's instead an AK-47
machine gun. Made of solid gold. And, um, what does it
symbolise? "Strength, power and killing 'em dead." Hurrah
for speaking truth to power.