WISH YOU WERE HERE……..
A poignant reminder of the best of America in the hope that the dream might still come true.
WISH YOU WERE HERE……..
A poignant reminder of the best of America in the hope that the dream might still come true.
The dictionary definition of undue influence: “influence by which a person is induced to act otherwise than by their own free will or without adequate attention to the consequences.”
President Trumps threat to withdraw Aid from the countries who chose to vote against the US and the US Ambassador’s statement that ‘we will not forget and are taking names’ sent a collective global shudder though the halls of power. Through these actions the long standing but previously obscured abuse of power becomes transparent. The spectacle of the ‘leader of the free world’ supported by a mere handful of vulnerable nations, each of which have an inherent dependency on access to US Aid has caused many to question the degree of pressure they faced.
Guatemala with a weaker and more corrupt state and a more impoverished society than that of Mexico has a growing public debt. President Perez Molina is looking to Washington for military aid to support the Guatemalan army to root out corruption. Honduras has the world’s highest murder rate and high levels of sexual violence despite a population of a little over 9 million. An estimated 1 million Hondurans reside in the United States, 600,000 of whom are believed to be undocumented; consequently, immigration issues are an important item on the bilateral agenda.
Micronesia: (A Federation of small island states, formerly a United Nations Trust Territory under U.S. administration until gaining independence in 1986.) The US will provide $100 million annually over the next 20 years. Guam – 210 sq. mi.; population 186,000 Guam is the largest single island in Micronesia. A territory of the United States and one of its primary military bases in the Pacific. Nauru : 8 sq. mi.; population 9,000. An independent nation; single island. The United States is a major financial contributor to international and regional organizations that assist Nauru, Palau – 177 sq. mi.; population 21,000 an archipelago of over 300 islands, only 8 of which are inhabited.Palau is the largest recipient of aid per capita from the US, receiving more than $852 million over the last 15 yerars.
Marshall Islands – 70 sq. mi.; population 68,000. The United States conquered the islands in 1944. The Marshall Islands served as a test theatre for American nuclear weapons from 1946 to 1958 with 67 weapon tests conducted, These including the 15-megaton hydrogen bomb test on Bikini Atoll which was 1,000 times more powerful than the bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Bikini Atoll became uninhabitable. Prior to nuclear testing, the residents had initially accepted resettlement voluntarily to Rongerik Atoll, believing that they would be able to return home within a short time. Rongerik Atoll could not produce enough food and the islanders starved and were again relocated. In 1970 islanders returned to the Bikini Island, advised it was now safe, until further testing revealed dangerous levels of strontium-90. Today the Marshall Islands, relies on nominal access to U.S. based health agencies and is, like so many of the islands states of Micronesia, dependent upon US Aid which represents a large percentage of the islands’ gross domestic product.
TOGO West Africa: Amid a diplomatic drive by Israel to extend its influence in West Africa, Togolese President Faure Essozimna Gnassingbe met Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu twice in 2017. This included a conference hosted by the Togo President where Netanyahu stated “Israel is coming back to Africa, and Africa is coming back to Israel,” The President has visited Israel three times since 2012 and Lome the capital, consistently sides with Jerusalem in international organisations,”
While congratulating the moral victory of the 129 nations who chose to ignore the threat, at the UN Council we might also consider the 35 who chose to abstain and why, among them Canada for example, walking a political tightrope with one eye on current NAFTA negotiations.
A glance over the medieval shoulder reveals religious intolerance and a capacity for atrocity equalling anything seen today. When Henry Vlll, the English king, separated from the Church of Rome in 1534 to form the Church of England, Protestantism was forced upon the population and those who dissented were made to pay fines, thrown into prison, tortured or killed. Elizabeth 1st succeeded Henry and the Spanish Armada set sail to restore ‘the true religion’ at the popes behest. The Armada failed and centuries of division and religious persecution of Catholics followed.
Catholics were seen as potential traitors and required to deny their allegiance to the pope.The Jesuit priesthood entered the country on behalf of the papacy and laws were tightened. In 1585, the “Act Against Jesuits, Seminary Priests and other suchlike Disobedient Persons” made it High Treason for a priest to reside anywhere in England or for anyone to hide or assist a priest.Harsh laws meant fines, imprisonment or forfeiture of property could be imposed on those who brought Catholic artefacts into the country, heard mass or sent children abroad to schools or seminaries. The Catholic population became increasingly estranged. Elizabeth died childless in 1567 and was succeeded by James V1, King of Scotland who became James 1 of England. The two Protestant kingdoms became the United Kingdom in 1603, further alienating the Catholic minority. Continue reading
Myanmar (Burma) is located between India, China, Bangladesh and Thailand, its population is comprised of a distinct ethnic mix of tribal peoples with 135 ethnic groups and ‘eight national races’.
‘The Rohingya people are indigenous to Arakan, the old coastal country of Southeast Asia, now renamed Rakhine. In ancient times a southern branch of the Silk Road connected India, Burma and China with Arakan which became a key centre of maritime trade and cultural exchange for Arab merchants. From the 8th century BC Islamic conversion, intermarriage and settlement led to an increased Muslim Arakan population. The modern day Rohingya believe they descended from these early Muslim communities and ancient Sanskrit inscriptions in the region indicate that the founders of the first Arakanese states were Indian. As Muslims the Rohingya are a minority religious group in Myanmar where Buddhism is practiced by 88% of the population according to the latest government census. Minority groups dispute these figures.
China is the original homeland of the Bamar tribal people of the Dian Kingdom, annexed by China in 109BCE. The Bamar migrated from Central Asia and Tibet around the 9th century and settled in the region which is now northern Burma where they integrated with the native Pyu people. The Bamar people are primarily Buddhist and now comprise 69% of the total population of Myanmar.
In 1784 the Bamar conquered Arakan, resulting in some 35,000 Rohingya fleeing over a fifteen year period into neighbouring British Bengal, to seek protection. Thousands of men were executed by the Burmese military with many of the Arakan population deported to central Burma, leaving their homeland depopulated. The colonial policy of the British in India encouraged waves of Bengali migrants into the area of Arakan to work as farm labourers, primarily due to the requirement for cheap labour to work in the paddy fields.
British commercial and strategic interest in Burma led to war in the mid-1820s. The East India Company, an agent of British colonial power, extended its jurisdiction to Arakan, its armed forces seized the capital Rangoon, defeating the war-elephants and musketeers of the King of Ava. Arakan was annexed by the British in 1824 and administered as a colony by the East India Trading Company. Further wars led to Burmese defeat by the British Raj and the annexation of all of lower Burma in 1852. In 1885 following the British invasion of what was left of the Burmese kingdom the country’s ancient monarchy was abolished and its king exiled to India. Burma was then governed by the British Raj as a province of India, like the Punjab or Bengal, with little or no sensitivity to Burmese culture. As India moved towards independence, Rangoon became increasingly cosmopolitan with the Burmese becoming an excluded minority. By the beginning of the 20th century, Indians were arriving in Burma at the rate of a quarter million per year, equivalent to the United Kingdom today taking 2 million people a year. By 1927, Rangoon exceeded New York City as the greatest immigration port in the world. Indian immigrants formed a majority of the population of the largest cities in Burma, fanning Burmese resentment, nationalism and religious hatred with riots specifically directed against the Indian Muslim community.
Colonial control was interrupted by the Japanese invasion of Burma in 1942 when Arakan became prominent in the conflict. The war resulted in a complete breakdown of civil governance in Burma with Buddhists instigating cruel measures against Muslims. Allied forces were back in control by 1945 but the Burmese, already divided along ethnic and religious lines were impatient for Independence.The British were faced with an unexpected insurgency and thousands of Burmese nationalists fought and died in the guerilla warfare which followed before Burma became independent in 1948, by which time much of the country had been under British rule for nearly a hundred years. Arakan effectively became a colony of Burma.
Following a military coup in 1962 the military junta took power and promptly shut off the country from the outside world. Burma has only emerged from self-imposed isolation in recent years. The Rohingya have been systematically deprived of their political rights since that time. In 1982 New Citizenship law imposed by the military junta excluded Rohingya from the list of 135 national races, stripping them of citizenship.
In 1989 Burma was renamed Myanmar. Arakan State was renamed Rakhine State with identity cards excluding Rohingya. Formerly recognized as an indigenous ethnic nationality of Burma with members of the group serving as representatives in the Burmese parliament and high-ranking government positions, the Rohingya are now stateless, subjected to various forms of extortion and arbitrary taxation; land confiscation; forced eviction house destruction and financial restrictions on marriage. Rohingya have been subjected to routine forced labour to work on military or government projects, arable land, has been confiscated by the military and given to Buddhist settlers. In addition to political persecution in the last four years Rohingya Muslims have been subjected to escalating persecution by an extreme Buddhist sect of monks. The UN describing Rohingya persecution as a crime against humanity.
Aung San Suu Kyi won the Nobel Peace prize for her peaceful resistance to oppression, suffering 15 years house arrest before leading the National League for Democracy to a major win in the first open election of 2015. She has to date failed to speak for the Rohingya people and recently requested at the UN that the name Rohingya should not be used.
The international focus on Myanmar’s religious/ethnic issues has overshadowed the vast land grabs by the government.The past two decades have seen a massive worldwide rise of corporate acquisitions of land for mining, timber, agriculture and water generated by military-economic interests. Myanmar’s natural resources include oil and gas, various minerals, precious stones and gems, timber and forest products, hydropower potential, etc. Of these, natural gas, rubies, jade, and timber logs are the most valuable and currently provide a substantial portion of national income. In 2012 land laws were changed to open the country to foreign investors. Corporate acquisitions were favoured and land allocations increased by 170% between 2010 and 2013. Recently the government allocated 1,268,077 hectares (3,100,000 acres) in the Rohingya area of Myanmar for corporate rural development.
In the Myanmar Census of March 2014 the Burmese government banned the word “Rohingya”. It was reported that the Myanmar government had created a plan to expel the country’s persecuted Muslim minority. Under the proposal, all Rohingya who refuse to identify themselves as “Bengalis” (a term used for illegal migrants from Bangladesh) and do not have documentation acceptable to the government would be detained in camps before being driven out of the country. In 2016 the UN accused Myanmar of ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya, estimating that a million Rohingya refugees will have left Myanmar for Bangladesh by the end of 2017.
Researchers from the International State Crime Initiative at Queen Mary University of London suggest that the Myanmar government is in the final stages of an organised process of genocide against the Rohingya.
As a child of around 8 I was disturbed by a recurring vision I did not understand. I could clearly see the continent of Africa with which I was familiar from my school books, it was like viewing a map. As I watched, the map began to burn slowly, beginning at the top slightly to the left of centre then moving to the left and right where it it burned more quickly until the whole of the top section was alight. At this point the vision would fade, leaving me perplexed. Continue reading
BORDERS AND BOUNDARIES: The aim of colonialism is to exploit the physical, human, and economic resources of an area to benefit the colonising nation. Between the 1870s and 1900 Africa resisted European imperialist aggression, the attempt to colonise by foreign domination until finally Europeans imposed their formal rule of law on African countries.. In 1884, leaders from 14 colonial powers, including the United States, Great Britain, Belgium, Portugal, Germany, Holland, Italy and Spain, held the Berlin Conference where they divided the continent of Africa into 50 countries and claimed them for themselves. No African representatives were invited. Continue reading
TRAFFICKING: The Portugese travellers who discovered the Kingdom of Kongo in the 15th century reported a population close to half a million people, a highly developed state at the centre of an extensive trading network. Merchants traded in raw materials including ivory and a wealth of manufactured goods such as copper and ironware, raffia cloth and pottery all of which were highly profitable and in great demand in Europe.
In the 1800s the great explorer David Livingstone established his hospital then disappeared into the jungle to minister to the African natives before the famous meeting with Stanley in 1871. King Leopold II of the Belgians read about this meeting in The Times, igniting his desire to acquire land to increase his personal wealth. When the Belgian parliament resisted he decided to acquire the colony himself. The king commissioned Stanley to go back to Africa under the guise of an international scientific and philanthropic association, – to negotiate with the local chiefs. The 400 “cloth and trinket” treaties of the next four years were sealed by pacts. The African chiefs believing they were signing friendship pacts, they were in fact selling their land. Continue reading
BONDAGE: Slavery in Africa existed throughout the continent for centuries before the arrival of white settlers but was a small part of the economic life until Europeans introduced a form of slavery which devastated African life and society in the 1400s. The Portuguese were the first to buy slaves and the Spanish the first to use enslaved Africans in the islands of Cuba and Hispaniola. The Abolition of Slavery by Great Britain in 1833 led to the collapse of the international African slave trade economy resulting in European financial losses. This coincided with the colonisation of Africa and was the beginning of a commodity based trading system designed to serve the industrialisation of Europe.
As the extent of sexual abuse and paedophile networks is increasingly revealed we are faced with the reality of what has been concealed by perpetrators and those who have protected them for decades. Generations of children grown to adulthood yet scarred for life are now coming forward to tell their stories of what they were forced to endure. The weapon of the paedophile is secrecy, the victim unable to seek help, believes and with good reason that they will not be believed and so remains silent. Continue reading