“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” Abraham Lincoln

Archive for January 31st, 2009

Morecambe Bay.

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Societies are global, from the earliest time travellers went from region to region, across the globe in search of better lives, goods and trade. In doing so brought back tales of faraway places, exotic people and strange customs, or so the Romans thought when meeting early Britons.

Britain is, lest we forget, a nation of immigrants, from Celts passing through, Roman settlers, various Germanic tribes and the proto-French conquerors. All that even before the 12th century. Later on the British Empire further expanded globalisation through slaughter, theft, commerce and even slavery.

The English language is an another example of globalisation, peppered with foreign words, complete with peculiar grammar structure, inconsistent spelling and non-phonetic pronunciation.

Britain, along with other European countries is multi-ethnic and whilst some might want to think of themselves as somehow “Anglo-Saxon” and deserving of special treatment, that is an illusion. (Ask yourself where that Saxon comes from? Modern day Germany and Denmark ! How ever so British.)

So the xenophobic slogans employed in the recent strikes are worrying, but worse is our inability to remember those who once harvested cockles in Morecambe Bay, five years ago.

Twenty three of them killed by criminal negligence.

Further compounded by a vague apathy to them, as people, they were immigrants from China, part of globalisation. People seeking work, to better themselves, to live to enjoy life, as we all do.

Dave Tang’s comments at the Speccy are surprisingly good:

“As a Chinese Anglophile, I have recently become incensed by the way in which some of my compatriots, though illegal, are being treated in this country that I love. I am hugely saddened by the fifth anniversary of the Morecambe Bay incident (on 5 February), in which 23 illegal Chinese cockle-pickers drowned. They were forced to do a filthy job and they died a foul death. It has made me think how wrongly complacent the British are about the Chinese population. We Chinese have this reputation of being reticent, rather inscrutable, but minding our own business, excelling in our professions, and beavering away making money. It’s not a bad reputation and so as an ethnic group the Chinese do not cause any worry, still less alarm.”

So remember those deaths on Morecambe Bay, five years ago and ask why such indifference to their fate?

Written by modernityblog

31/01/2009 at 16:25

Posted in Uncategorized

Mean While Else Where?

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Wen Jiabao is visiting the UK to deliver a Rede lecture and will surely have an opportunity to glad-hand some of New Labour’s finest, in around of mutually advantageous discussions, one dictatorship’s club to another set of control freaks?

But I doubt the topic of the missing 1,000 Tibetans will come up, Gordon Brown is unlikely to mention the human right’s of poor Tibetans lest he offend China’s PM and ruin business relations.

AI reported in December 2008 that:

“Tibetan former monk Nami Jhaba was detained by police on 19 April 2008, and has been held incommunicado since then. Police recently returned some of his possessions to his family, and he is therefore believed to be in danger of torture and other ill-treatment.”

Widespread protests are expected:

“The UK government has made some critical statements about China, but not as much as campaigners would like.

Last week, it published its four-year strategy on China, which said: “We will be candid and honest should we disagree – on issues such as human rights, for example.”

But activists say the situation within China is not improving.

The Amnesty International website has once again been blocked inside mainland China, as are sites collecting signatures for Charter 08, a petition by academics and human rights activists calling for legal and political reform.

Search terms such as ‘freedom’, ‘human rights’, and ‘Tibet’ are filtered to censor websites.

Internet users have allegedly been imprisoned after unfair trials, often on vaguely defined charges such as subversion or leaking state secrets.

“Chinese people have as much right to free speech and access to information as everyone else, and their government should respect this,” Ms Allen added.

“This includes making up their own minds about what we are saying on the Amnesty website.”

Defence lawyers, journalists, HIV/Aids activists, workers’ rights activists, villagers protesting against land seizures, and relatives of people killed or disabled during the crackdown on the 1989 pro-democracy movement are also regularly imprisoned.

China also retains the questionable distinction of executing more people per year than any other country in the world. In 2007, at least 470 people were killed, although with real figures a closely held secret, that number is liable to be far higher.

2009 sees a resurgent activist movement build on the demonstrations which took place around the world following the torch relay before the Olympic Games last year.

It is the 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre, the 60th anniversary of the foundation of the Chinese Republic and the 50th anniversary of the 1959 Tibetan uprising.

Free Tibet activists, who are organising the vast majority of protests this weekend, say the situation in the region remains grave.

Many areas of Tibet still remain under de facto martial law with an open military presence in many Tibetan towns.

The whereabouts of 1,000 Tibetans detained on charges relating to protests still remain unaccounted for by the Chinese government. “

Go on, be a bit radical or even revolutionary, follow it all at Free Tibet.

Written by modernityblog

31/01/2009 at 01:48

Posted in Uncategorized