Category Archives: E U

German Green Party return to the safety of their middle class comfort zone.



Like their Irish counterparts, who are junior partners in a conservative coalition government led by the right of centre Fianna Fáil Party, the German Green Party in the Hamburg region has signed a deal with the conservative Christian Democratic Union, (CDU) which will take them into the regional government led by Hamburg’s CDU Mayor Ole von Beust. (The CDU is the party of German Chancellor Angela Merkel)

The landmark coalition agreement signed on Thursday, April 17, in Hamburg’s City Hall, follows five weeks of intensive political negotiations that centered on energy and environmental issues, or so we are told. It is expected to be formally approved by party executives at the end of the month.
 
“In politics as in normal life, it is important to have the strength and the courage to walk new paths,” said Hamburg’s CDU Mayor Ole von Beust. “It’s not an experiment but a chance … Even if it may seem unusual to many, I’m convinced it’ll be a success for Hamburg.”
 
The Hamburg CDU leader Von Beust lost his absolute majority in the Feb. 24 State elections and his party has since then been on the search for a suitable coalition partner. 
The Greens have typically partnered with the SPD and the CDU has traditionally found an ally in the free-market liberal Free Democratic Party (FDP), but the addition of fifth party, the Left Party, has forced political camps to rethink their well practiced two-party alliances.
 
For both the CDU and the Greens in Hamburg, “it’s just about opening up new options in the new five-party system,” wrote the Financial Times Deutschland on Friday. “For chancellor and CDU chairwoman Angela Merkel, nothing less than securing her chancellorship beyond the election year 2009 and the likely end of the grand coalition [of the CDU and SPD] are at stake. For this goal, serious conflicts are simply papered over, particularly in the areas of economic and energy policy.”

“Now older and wiser, the children who had once run away from the middle-class are coming back,” opined the Sueddeutsche Zeitung on Friday from Munich. “The Greens are becoming the junior partner of the party that they once considered to represent the bleak, stale, unenlightened middle-class.

Berlin’s Tagesspiegel considers the milestone coalition “a break in Germany’s party history.”
“If it’s successful, the Hamburg coalition will contribute to the de-ideologization of German politics, so that it’s no longer membership in a political camp but agreement on individual issues that will determine how governments are built,” wrote the paper on Friday.
 
“For the voters, that means that politics is becoming less predictable and more complicated.”

Many of us on the left, especially those of us who come from the working classes have always had our doubts about the Greens, not least because they have always refused to stand down for a left candidate who had a better chance of being elected. It seems once the Greens had a taste of political power that aphrodisiac replaced political principles and loyalty to a broad progressive coalition.
 

 

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Filed under E U, enviorment, Germany, green-party, International solidarity/democracy/oppression/neo-cons/, progressive-coalition

Pete Doherty: Yet another victim of the UK’s drug laws.


I have no doubt that when Pete Doherty, the front-man of the English rock band Babyshambles was recently sentenced to 14 weeks in jail for drug offenses, most people shrugged their shoulders and thought the man’s a prick, he had his chances and failed to take them. Perhaps, but the State hardly comes up smelling of roses as it recognizes that drug addiction is a medical condition and those suffering from it need help, indeed the UK government pours millions of pounds into drug ‘treatment’ programs, most of which are little better than useless, but in the long run the governments only solution to problem drug users is to lock them up in jail.

Doherty has been sent to jail for what, taking drugs? Now come on, the man is an addict who lives a somewhat chaotic life style, it is thus hardly surprising he takes drugs and fails to keep appointments. [He was returned to court for sentence after failing to keep an appointment with the probation service]

Despite his addiction Doherty continued to work and as far as I can judge he is the only victim of the crime he was accused of committing. If this was simply about a rather silly pop star who has over indulged, it would be small beer, but it is not, as the UK’s criminal justices system and prisons are full of people who have committed minor drug offense not dissimilar to Pete Doherty. A few months ago I did Jury Service and three out of the four cases involved defendants who found themselves before the Crown Court due to their drug taking.

In one case a young man was sentenced to eighteen months imprisonment after breaking a probation order. He had been before the courts on countless occasions for possession of class A drugs and petty shoplifting. It was patently obvious to all in the Court that the reason he had become a revolving door defendant was because of his drug addiction, a medical matter. Yet the judge had no alternative but to sentence him to a term of imprisonment due to the lack of alternatives and to be fair to him it was clear he did so with the utmost reluctance and displeasure, he simply had no alternative as the options which were available to him had been tried on the defendant in the past and failed. As far as the court was concerned, when all else fails, send the poor sod to jail.

So is there an alternative, of course, there is always an alternative, the most sensible option would be to legalize class A drugs, but as the politicians are so cowardly and the media so hateful there is not a hope in hells chance of this happening. Doherty’s erratic behavior is far from unique as it epitomizes that of many drug addicts, although not all by any means. It is clear he is not yet ready, or able to give up narcotics, and no matter what, he will continue to take them, so the best option would be for a doctor to provide him with a weekly prescription for the pharmaceutical narcotic which matches his needs.

Like any drug addict given a regular, and legal supply he could begin to lead a ‘normal’ life, one in which scoring drugs is not his overriding priority. There will be ups and downs but nothing to traumatic such as a prison sentence; and gradually he will come to see that there are more important things in life than scoring and taking narcotics; and in his own time he will hopefully take the matter from there, possibly by entering a treatment program that may see him emerge drug free. However if he never takes this final step, to the outside world he will have become Pete Doherty musician, for his drug taking will be controlled in much the same way a cigaret smoker controls his nicotine addiction, accept Mr Doherty will get his drug of choice from a chemist shop and not the local tobacconist or newsagent.

Of course this article is not only about Pete Doherty, but the tens of thousands of people who are class A drug addicts and whom the State treats in the most uncivilized and appalling manner by attempting to control the flow of illegal drugs by categorizing them; the main victims of illegal drugs as criminals.

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Filed under class-A-drugs, drug-addiction, duty-of-care, E U, Organized Rage, UK, war-on-drugs

Tony Greenstein; Why I am suing Gilad Atzmon for Libel and Defamation


I reported some time ago on the outcome of a libel case brought by Socialist activist Tony Greenstein against Times Newspapers, which was settled in Tony’s favor. I have just received the email below from Tony which is self explanatory, I felt it deserved a wider readership hence my decision to post it up on Organized Rage.

MH

Why I am suing Gilad Atzmon for Libel and Defamation

Last year I brought libel proceedings against The Times because David Aaronovitch had deliberately allowed, on his moderated blog, allegations that I had intimidated and harassed Jewish students for 30 years. The Times eventually backed down and agreed a suitable apology and damages of £1,000 to be paid to FOBZU.

Unfortunately I have again had to seek redress for defamation. On February 13th 2008 I initiated proceedings in the High Court for libel and defamation against Gilad Atzmon, who will be well known to many people as an anti-Semite and a supporter of holocaust denial. http://www.socialistunity.com/?p=1559#comment-35911

Following an article I wrote for the Guardian’s Comment is Free blog, The Seamy Side of Solidarity, http://commentisfree.guardian.co.uk/tony_greenstein/2007/02/greenstein.html I was subject to malicious personal abuse by Atzmon, mainly picking up on stale Zionist allegations, although adding his own unique spice to them.

It is not simply a matter of obtaining personal redress. There is also a political rationale. Socialists have long disagreed over whether it is right to settle political disputes in the libel courts and the record is clearly a mixed one, for example George Galloway and Tommy Sheridan’s experiences.

Atzmon’s response to political criticism is not to respond politically but by making vicious personal allegations against his detractors. He has done this against Mike Rosen, Roland Rance and David Rosenberg to name but 3 people. His behaviour is designed to ridicule, intimidate and isolate his critics and in particular Jewish anti-Zionists or what he terms ‘crypto Zionists and 3rd Category Jews’. Most of his allegations originate on far-right Kahanist sites and he actually thanks one of these Zionists publicly.

Some of Atzmon’s allegations could endanger the physical security of those whom he is making the allegations about. In particular is allegations that anti-Zionist Jews are in essence nothing but Zionist agents within the Palestine solidarity movement. But above all it is designed to demonise individuals and legitimise racism in the solidarity movement.

I have therefore come to the conclusion, as the primary recipient of his abuse, that there is little alternative but to use the bourgeois courts to seek redress.

Ironically on 9th June 2005 Atzmon threatened to sue me for libel before making a hasty retreat!

Mr. Greenstine I don’t wish to sue you, i sue you and the following on line quote ( Re: The talk of Holocaust Denier, Gilad Atzmon, ) is going to cost you a fortune.

I ve already passed it to my management and its legal advisers.

To call a famous artist a ‘Holocaust denier’ without providing a single proof is very expensive as you are going to learn very soon.

Now with real sympathy

Gilad Atzmon

I understand, from a posting by Linda Grant on the Engage website, before it was ‘accidentally’ deleted, that Atzmon is considering countersuing for libel! Judging from his past record however this is likely to be more bluster on his part.

I saw Gilad Atzmon in the lobby at the BBC last week. We were both waiting to go into studios. He was talking at some length to someone on his mobile phone about the best method of suing someone, based on the case he is himself, he said, preparing again ‘Greenstein.’ He was dressed all in black and I was left with the impression that he dyes his hair. Personally, I find that iffy in a guy, but very common in the music business, I suppose.

http://jewssansfrontieres.blogspot.com/search?q=%22linda+grant%22

I have therefore issued proceedings in respect of:

False allegations of serious criminal conduct and fraud. concerning alleged offences over 20 years ago, contrary to s.8 of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974.
False allegations of violent crimes, in particular against Jewish people
False allegations of race hate crimes against Jewish people
False allegations of vandalising church property

For obvious reasons I do not wish to go into any detail regarding the legalities of the case. However in view of the fact that this matter has already been broadcast by Atzmon’s supporters under various guises (‘Jews for Transparency’ being one), I thought it right to issue a statement.

Tony Greenstein

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Filed under E U, justice, Organized Rage, RCP. UK, socialists, The-law

It’s easy to spot the terrorist: She/He’s the one with the small bomb




The London Guardian’s letters page published some interesting comments today from Niall Farrell, the brother of Mairéad Farrell, a senior member of Óglaigh Na hÉireann (PIRA) who was assassinated in 1988 by British army special forces, along with two of her comrades, whilst they were reconnoitering the British protectorate of Gibraltar, prior to attacking British soldiers who were stationed there.(see below) Mr Farrell points out that whilst his sister is regarded as a martyr and hero to her comrades, to the Guardian and the rest of the UK and Irish media and the British establishment she was a terrorist. Yet a servant of that Establishment like Francis Pym, who recently died, was described in the Guardian as a man of great decency and principle.

Yet Pym had far more innocent blood on his hands than Mairéad Farrell, as in his time he had been British Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Defense Secretary, Foreign Secretary, (During Falklands War) and whilst in the ‘House of Lords’ he voted for the illegal war on Iraq. Having never personally having experienced, oppression, occupation or inequality it is difficult to understand how the Guardian could justify calling Pym a decent and principled man, as to do so it would mean excusing the violence he inflicted on others whilst he held high political office.

More fair minded, and less partisan people might regard Mairéad Farrell and people like her, as individuals who have taken up arms because no democratic avenues were open to them through which they could right the injustices they faced. Thus far from being terrorists they should be regarded as freedom fighters or guerrillas. There was a time when the Guardian took this tack but not any more it seems, although English liberals have always been craven and weak when it came to facing up to the sins of their own government, the more so when it has been oppressing people beyond English shores.

One of the areas where the neo liberals have been successful, is by blanketing as terrorist all those who fight back against oppression and occupation. Whether they be those who are currently struggling against the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, within Iraq and Afghanistan or retrospectively those who fought against the British presence in Ireland or the invasion of Lebanon by the IDF.

It is unfortunate that in todays world all who resist are blanketed by Western governments and media as terrorists or potential terrorists. Which is not only grossly unfair and inaccurate, but it has a poisonous effect within the communities from which these fighters come. Where far from being regarded as terrorists they are often held in respect, for they do not live in an abstract world but have parents, brothers, sisters uncles and friends etc.

Since time in memorial those with power have bastardized language to benefit their cause, but this does not make it right, nor do we need to acquiesce to them doing so, for if bin Laden is a terrorist for ordering the death of thousands on 9/11, what does that make Harry Truman, whose orders killed tens of thousands on the 6th and 9th of August 1945. Let alone GW Bush and Tony Blair when they illegally attacked Iraq almost five years ago to the day; and started a process that has led hundreds of thousands of men, women and children to an early grave.

The use of words like terrorist is designed to dehumanize those who resist, whether for a good cause or bad and it does nothing to bring about a resolution of these conflicts and even worse it leads us to believe that our suffering is worse than that which we [the West] inflict on others and that is hypocrisy of the worst kind.

Niall Farrell’s letter to the Guardian.

I have to agree with Ian Jack (My silence about the terrorists was only partly cowardly, March 8) on one point: political memories are usually selective. My sister, Mairéad Farrell, is a “martyr” to her comrades and a “terrorist” to the Guardian and the British establishment. On the other hand, the English imperialist Lord Pym was, a “man of great decency and principle” according to Gordon Brown.
Lord Pym had the innate task of carrying the white man’s burden. Terrorism my dear sister should have accepted her place to be a second-class person in a sectarian hellhole created by her British betters.
Ian Jack prefers to ignore that the IRA have put down their arms, while the British imperialists continue to carry their burden to Iraq, Afghanistan … Yes, they will pursue their righteous cause to the death of the last native with the assistance of their killers in the SAS etc.
Brendan Behan summed it up quite succinctly: “It’s easy to spot the terrorist. He’s the one with the small bomb”.


Niall Farrell

Galway,
Ireland

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Filed under E U, Iraq, Ireland, Mairéad-Farrell, Organized Rage, Palestine, resistance, Terrorism, UK

A Turkish Kurd speaks out against the use of Turkish military in northern Iraq.


Below is an interview with Kurdish intellectual and veteran political activist Mr Ümit Fırat, it was first published in the Turkish daily newspaper Zaman. As political tensions rise throughout Turkey and northern Iraq due to the possibility of a major incursion into this mainly Kurdish region by the Turkish military, I thought readers might be interested in what Ümit Firat has to say as he looks at the issue from the perspective of a Kurd who is a citizen of the Republic of Turkey. By publishing this interview, Organized Rage is neither endorsing the interviewee’s opinions nor opposing them, simply allowing this democratic space to be used to enhance an understanding about the Kurdish reality in Turkey.

Firat is an author and editorial board member for the Kurdish political magazine Serbestî, published in Turkish in İstanbul, he also writes for the Turkish daily newspapers Zaman and Radikal as well as the Bianet Internet news site. Originally from Bingöl, Turkey, he had a bookstore in Ankara between 1973 and 1979 and was sent to jail for four years by the repressive regime that emerged after the 1980 military coup. An İstanbul resident since 1989, he has been active in the formation of many Kurdish organizations, including the Helsinki Citizens Association and Kurdish Intellectuals Initiative, which organized a sizable conference that was allowed by the Turkish authorities to have “Kurdish” in its name for the first time. [The Necessities of Recognizing the Kurdish Reality] That there was such controversy about the title of a conference show the lengths the State has gone to in the past to deny the Kurdish reality in Turkey. In the early 1990s, he worked actively in the New Democracy Movement (YDH). He was also active in 2004 promoting a signature campaign in Turkey for the text “What Do the Kurds Want in Turkey?” published by the International Herald Tribune, Le Monde and Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspapers.

MH

Question/ What would happen if Turkey entered Iraq?

Ümit Fırat replies/ Turkey will have to deal with two actors if it enters Iraq: the autonomous Kurdish administration formed under the Iraqi constitution and the peshmerga units subordinate to this administration. The peshmergas are considered part of the Iraqi army; therefore conflict with them will automatically mean opening war with Iraq, and this inevitably carries with it the possibility of confrontation with the United States. This will all eventually lead to abandonment of Turkey’s six-decade-long international policy.

Q/ But isn’t the region home to the PKK?

ÜF/ The actual sphere of influence of the PKK is in Turkey, and if a solution were sought, measures should be implemented inside the country. Those who are settled on Kandil Mountain in northern Iraq got there through Turkey and return to the same territory. Turkey would not be able to resolve anything in Iraq through a military intervention.
The PKK would fulfill its goal of dragging Turkey into northern Iraq if Turkey launches a military operation. It will not be easy to present a cross-border operation as part of a comprehensive combat against terrorism. Above all, there is a general assumption that combat against terrorism is executed by special forces — not by regular army units. Besides, for such an operation against terrorism [to be successful], the consent of the country where the operation will be carried out is required.
Otherwise, Turkey will be considered an invader. And even though the military and the government seek to present a cross-border operation as a matter of internal security, this action is declaration of war under international law. In that case, it will not be possible for you to call your opponent a terrorist organization as they become the other party of the war. In a possible conflict, international organizations will refer to the terrorist organization as warring party. In that case, calls for cease-fires and calls for implementation of the provisions of the Geneva Conventions might come into consideration.

Q/ Don’t you think that an army operation would have a role in preventing further PKK attacks?

ÜF/ The only benefit of the operation would be proof of military superiority Turkey already has. Besides, it is obvious that no social problem can be resolved through military methods. Attempting to test whether this is the case once more would be too expensive and risky. I want to emphasize that a climate of killing and ending lives has emerged in the region, and attempts should be made to change that and ensure normalization.

Furthermore, a military incursion by Turkey into northern Iraq would possibly de-align the Kurds in the region from the PKK, whereas it would strengthen Barzani’s KDP [Kurdistan Democratic Party]. Turkey should be determined to resolve the Kurdish question if it really seeks to eliminate the PKK terrorism. A Turkey committed to resolving the Kurdish question will have the chance to overcome the obstacles in time.

Q/ What was the difference between the Beytüşşebap and Dağlıca incidents?

[On September the 29th of this year, 12 people, seven of whom were Kurdish village Guards in the pay of the Turkish government, were massacred in the Beytüşşebap district of the southeastern province of Şırnak, and then on October 21st at least 12 Turkish soldiers were killed near the village of Dağlıca in the Hakkari province of south-east Turkey. The Ankara Parliament shortly after passed a motion authorizing a cross-border military operation into northern Iraq to hit the PKK bases there if diplomatic efforts fail.]

ÜF/ There is no similarity between the two. In Beytüşşebap, the victims were working on the construction of a canal to transport water to their village. They were killed on their way home for iftar [fast-breaking meal during Ramadan]. I cannot help but remember a very similar massacre that was committed in Şırnak-Güçlükonak in 1996. In that massacre, 11 villagers, including some village guards, were forced to get off the minibus and were killed at the scene. The terrorists burned the bodies. Despite this, the identification cards were found in good condition. The authorities took journalists to the site, but they were not allowed to talk to the local people, who disagreed with the security forces on who had committed the murders. They thought that the massacre was committed by some State agencies.

Q/ Are you convinced that Beytüşşebap massacre was committed by some clandestine powers in the Turkish State?

ÜF/ We know through our experience that we have no reason to believe the official statements, considering past explanations that followed many similar incidents. It may come as no surprise to see the “good guys” who were behind the Semdinli incidents two months ago. Actually, the conclusion I want to draw here is not to single out who the perpetrators of the incident were — that’s not something I can tackle at any rate. But why aren’t these events being illuminated through official [Turkish] investigations? Why are the people who question these events warned or threatened? Why does Turkey insist on this policy?

Q/ Who do you think are the “good guys”?

ÜF/ The powers organized by the “good guys” might include former PKK informants and village guards who became stronger and then turned into gangs that threatened society. It’s possible to get an idea about this through documents submitted to the courts and the memoirs and interviews with retired military men. In the current environment of violence and conflict, nobody would question why this country has one of the largest armies in the world. While some make calculations to increase the influence of the army in politics considering the consequences of the prevalent environment of violence, others seek an opportunity to establish absolute authority by the PKK in the region through the same environment. An organization whose purpose of existence is war and armed conflict may preserve its political survival through the existence of an environment compatible with its goal.

Q/ And what would you say about the Dağlıca incident?

ÜF/ The military unit attacked in Oremar [Dağlıca] was there for a military operation; the PKK militants, acting based on the intelligence on the presence of the military unit at the site, carried out the assault. The Turkish troops would have done the same if they had similar intelligence. That is, if there is a conflict, it is inevitable for one of the parties to suffer substantial losses. For instance, a few days before the Beytüşşebap incident, nine PKK militants were killed in a conflict. I want to emphasize again that a climate of killing rules, and moves are needed to change that.

Q/ What should be done?

ÜF/ The post-Saddam developments following the US occupation in 2003 seriously damaged the “stability” policies of Turkey to preserve the status quo in the region. The new situation in Iraq was perceived by the status quo actors of Turkey as a threat. These actors never accepted the new state of affairs. Turkey should abandon its policy of rejecting an entity that emerged under Iraqi law and its constitution and instead recognize it under international legal instruments as something generated through the internal developments of Iraq. It should view the northern Iraqi autonomous Kurdish administration as a friend. This is the way to end the current tension — a friendly state would not support hostilities. Increasing the tension will not resolve the problem; quite the contrary, it will make it chronic. Effective measures should be taken immediately before further Beytüşşebap-like incidents are committed. Northern Iraq needs peace, and a strong and stable northwestern border.
But the discourse promoted by Barzani and Talabani does not imply peaceful actions from Turkey’s perspective.
In such delicate times, even ordinary actions may fall outside reason and rationale. Considering that the editor-in-chief of a major daily newspaper in Turkey provokes the nation to exhibit a strong reaction and that Barzani makes provocative statements, it’s only normal if the regular citizens of the country act in accordance with their basic instincts rather than reason. History tells us that such statements are of no use. These remarks and statements usually speak to the excessive sentiments of the masses, and they do not transform into permanent policy. Fortunately the initial outrage is gradually being replaced by reasonable action and words, anyway.

Q/ What would you say about the role of the pro Kurdish DTP [Democratic Society Party] deputies on some vital issues, particularly on the release of the soldiers held captive by the PKK?

ÜF/ There is nothing they can do on their own initiative. If the PKK agrees to make a gesture by handing over the eight hostages to DTP deputies, at that time they may be involved in the process. It does not seem possible for them to assume a role at present to determine the PKK’s actions.

Q/ What would happen if the DTP deputies recognized the PKK as a terrorist organization?

ÜF/ Nothing. Let’s say they did. Would the PKK’s strength decrease? No, on the contrary DTP deputies’ power would decrease because these deputies were elected by those who have an affinity or allegiance with the PKK. The DTP deputies have to consider their demands and political views. The deputies have to be influential within the party in order for them to detach from the PKK. However, they are aware how they have been nominated. It now seems impossible that they will have a proper position to attract the moderates, particularly given the latest developments.

Q/ So you’re saying that the DTP deputies cannot have an independent sphere?

ÜF/ Following the 2004 election, Abdullah Öcalan [the imprisoned leader of the PKK] gave a start for the formation of a new party because he was threatened by the autonomous policies of DEHAP [the Democratic People’s Party] and gave orders for the establishment of the new party, naming it the DTP. I don’t think the DTP could be an address — apart from the PKK — in solving the Kurdish problem in Turkey. And I don’t think the Turkish government needs such an address to solve the Kurdish problem as long as it says this is a problem of Turkey.

end

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