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

Archive for May 2010

Vanishing Flotillas And Racism.

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I suppose I’m a bit like most people I can’t keep up with what’s going on in the world, so I welcomed it when Richard Millet posted on the comparison between the Dunkirk flotilla and some ships going to Gaza.

I think that the Palestinians should receive as much aid is possible. I can’t imagine what it must be like to be under the iron fist of Hamas.

I think Palestinians should get all the aid they can take, but realistically most of it will be siphoned off by Hamas and it won’t go to the most needy, rather it will be used to bolster their regime by buying favours.

I was therefore very alarmed when I read a link to the Viva Palestina site.

I have reproduced the post from the Google cache, as the original one has been deleted:

26th May 2010

Sailing to break the siege

Palestine Our Route, Humanitarian Aid Our Load Flotilla, which consists of 9 ships, carrying 750 passengers in total including 35 MPs, numerous press members, artists, intellectuals, writers, representatives from NGOs, activists, women and children and 15,000 tons of humanitarian aid cargo. On the other hand, millions of people around the world have been watching this flotilla in their own countries, as supporters.

These ships are carrying onboard the common conscience of people of the world, prayers and wishes in all languages, playgrounds for children, medical aid supplies for the injured and the sick, construction materials for building back the schools for the children and homes of thousands who currently live in tents or in ruins. The cargo of the ships has been checked and approved by independent international organizations; the ships are certainly carrying nothing else but humanitarian aid. Israel claims that they are helping Gaza. We know that Israel only allows clothing items sold by Israeli dealers and has given nominal permissions to a few sick and injured people out of Gaza. However, basic needs of Palestinians are completely different both in terms of quality and quantity. This fact has been openly stated in numerous reports by international organizations. Aid cargo on these ships include power units to be used in order to maintain access to clean water, construction materials for building homes, children’s playgrounds as means of psychosocial rehabilitation for the children of Gaza, tools and equipments to restore the downed sewerage system of Gaza which now threatens the public health… etc.

Moreover, Israel claims that they are allowing all of the NGOs attempting to bring humanitarian aid into Gaza. It is proven by documents that this is a lie. Also the application filed by IHH received no response. This fact stated here is again based on official documents. On the other hand, UNRWA has declared that the aid cargo carried by the flotilla is very important for Gaza and much needed by the people of Palestine, stating that they hope this rightful and needed flotilla would not become subject to illegal obstructions by Israel.

Meanwhile, Israeli high officials have been making strangely intense statements through which the state of panic they are currently can be sensed in regards to the flotilla. They are spreading out various claims in order to deliberately create a stressful atmosphere. They claim that the flotilla has a political agenda other than its stated aim and Israel says that they will attack the ships, arrest the passengers…etc. These statements aim at intimidating, preventing and dissuading the participants of the flotilla.

Israel again tends to stop the attempts of breaking the embargo which is a collective punishment to the people of Palestine in Gaza in a completely illegal way in international terms. However, Israel still has not been able to clean up the shame caused by arresting the activists in the previous flotilla and ramming the ships.

Current Israeli government causes itself to become isolated by declaring everyone as its enemy. In fact, it is isolating the Jewish people by doing so. It has turned Gaza into a prisoner camp and has been carrying out a genocide. This camp and genocidal acts very much resemble Hitler’s actions in history. It is an important duty for all the Jews, especially the Jews from Turkey living in Israel. We are calling out to them and to all people of Israel to stand for justice. We would like them to also know that Jewish people that live in Israel will become totally isolated from the rest of the world thanks to these Israeli policies. Because Israel waged a war against peace and humanity. Soon, they may face great difficulties and embargo because of this reason. If, one day, they turn into an embargo-stricken nation in need of humanitarian aid, everybody in this flotilla campaign will again work with the same degree of determination and passion to break the embargo that will be imposed on them.

The statements and the attitude of Israeli officials should be seen an attitude against peace. Their reaction does not comply with the requirements of logic and humanity. As long as people of Israel remain silent, they will be supporting these invasive and inhumane policies which are completely against international laws. As a matter of fact, this attitude ignited serious debates among Israeli public. The most necessary and right thing Israel will do is to allow these ships into Gaza.

It is important to underline the fact that this flotilla has got a humanitarian agenda only. This flotilla gathered its support from the people of the world and it is the voice of the common conscience of all humankind. Its legitimacy comes from the international laws and the conscience of all humankind. It is obviously and indisputably a legitimate act. The people of the world are now taking a stance against the occupation, attacks and the embargo carried out by Israel which are more dangerous than nuclear weapons for humankind and the future generations.

People are now making their voices heard and forcing their governments to care for the oppressed and the poor, for the world peace and for their own future. This is why the flotilla will ruin a lot of bad games.

This campaign has been completely organized by NGOs and these are all independent organizations. The only place they depend on is the hearts of those good people.

Israel claims that this is a campaign to support Hamas. We need to make it clear that none of those organizations is the addressee of this campaign, whether it be Hamas, PLO or any other leftist organizations. Our only addressee is the people of Palestine.

This embargo is a crime against humanity and a shameful thing. It has been happening in our lifetime. Today, we are the ones responsible to the future generations as the witnesses of this inhumane embargo and we will carry out all these humanitarian efforts to fulfill that responsibility. We believe that there is enough space for everyone in this world and we can all live together peacefully in this world.

The racism and implied threats in the highlighted text should be obvious to any thinking adult. Apparently it was removed sometime after I commented on its nauseating content on Richard Millett’s blog.

Viva Palestina is a British based charity and they should be much more careful when they publish such comments. The cause of the Palestinians has already been associated with far too much racism, it doesn’t need any more.

Update 1: So there is no doubt, here are some screenshots of that page:
Flotilla article loaded with threats.
Flotilla article part 3

Written by modernityblog

28/05/2010 at 16:27

Weird Site.

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By chance I ran across a strange blog, which on the surface looks fairly innocuous, simply a pro-Palestinian website.

But when you dig a bit deeper, you find that they print any old racist rubbish including the work of the well known anti-Jewish racist, Gilad Atzmon.

Some of their more lurid headlines include: [Warning, neo-Nazi and racist filth]



Amazing new Video Exposing Zionist Supremacism!

[Which not unsurprisingly leaves to David Duke’s web site.]



Being curious, I decided to look them up and I had assumed that they would be some neo-Nazi group, but imagine my surprise, when I checked the entry for as:

Domain name:

Registrant: Creative Spring

Registrant type: Other UK Entity (e.g. clubs, associations, many universities)

Registrant’s address: Studio 302, The Greenhouse, Gibb Street, B9 4AA United Kingdom

I assume that this design company registered it on behalf of a client, but who knows?

The IP address of is shared with another few strangely named domains,,,,,

I am not sure if these domains and businesses know that their shared IP address hosts such blatant anti-Jewish racism.

Clearly, and are linked, I wonder what is their connection to ?

I can only assume that belongs to some semi-literate neo-Nazi given the varied nature of the racist posts there, but we’ll see.

Written by modernityblog

28/05/2010 at 01:06

9/11 And Anti-Zionism?

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I often wonder when I see supposed critics of Israel using the banner of “Anti-Zionism”, what are the other peculiar views that they hold.

To me, it seems that many of these “Anti-Zionists” are not what they seem.

By that I mean that their animosity towards Israelis is only part of some deeper prejudice or hangup.

An example, would be Alan Hart, onetime BBC journalist and now doyen of “Anti-Zionist” circles.

Alan Hart has been a vociferous critic of all things Israeli, but he has been careful to say that is not really against Jews. Hart is quick to trot out the old “some of my best friends are….” defence.

Which is all well and good, except when you scratch beneath the surface and ask him about 9/11.

Astute readers will already know what his answer is….read more at Adam Holland.

Update 1: I forget that Dr. Stephen Sizer seem to have a high regard for Alan Hart’s views.

Written by modernityblog

27/05/2010 at 14:18

Amnesty And Oblivion.

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Gita Sahgal, the former Head of the Gender Unit at Amnesty International has a piece on OpenDemocracy which I think deserves reproducing in full as it raises many good points:

Salman Rushdie has said, ‘When people are told that they cannot freely re-examine the stories of themselves, and the stories within which they live, then tyranny is not very far away’. Forty nine years ago, this week, Peter Benenson struck a blow against tyranny by announcing the formation of a new organization to support forgotten prisoners who were jailed solely for their beliefs. 

This week, Amnesty International launches its Annual Report and starts year long preparations for a jamboree titled Amnesty@50.  From a small group of activists it has grown into a gigantic, global organization. And in many ways, has come to resemble the forces that it has done so much to oppose. Its record of handling one of the greatest challenges to its reputation suggests that it is entirely unable to examine the story of itself or the story of its times. So difficult is it for Amnesty International to provide a coherent account of what has happened over the last few months, that it has chosen to provide no account at all.

In his reports to the International Executive Committee circulated for ‘transparency’, the Interim Secretary General Claudio Cordone, has airbrushed out any mention of the  concerns that I forced Amnesty International to face when I went public with my complaint that the organisation has sanitized the reputation of Moazzam Begg, a former Guanatamo detainee. They have treated him as a human rights advocate, although he champions Anwar al Awlaki and al Timmimi.

Like all tryrants  – whether of the right and left, Amnesty International raised the spectre of an assault on human rights to avoid answering questions and  to imply that Amnesty International was under attack. This  helped  shut down internal debate or demands for accountability from its own  staff.  At first the managers suggested that Begg only expressed his experiences of detention; and that they did not promote his views  (suggesting that his views fell somewhat short of a belief in the universality of rights). Soon, they claimed that his views were indeed universalist but that he supported ‘defensive jihad.’ – which is, after all  waged to establish systematic discrimination.  Amnesty International felt that this view was not ‘antithetical to human rights. Although he published in a Muslim Brotherhood journal and  has associated with the Jamaat I Islami the senior leadership decided to endorse him as a human rights advocate, which they had refrained from doing before the crisis.

But at the AIUK AGM, Begg was not mentioned in reports of a European tour to advocate for the release of the remaining Guantanamo Bay detainees. Where they had previously had a picture of Begg at the door of Downing St with Kate Allen, this picture was dropped from the power point. No wonder, Amnesty is in a fix. They do not know whether they are valorizing Begg or dropping him.

I met Begg recently and told him that I thought that he had been true to his beliefs but that Amnesty had not been true to theirs. Nor has Amnesty International acknowledged their debt to Cageprisoners or the extent of their relationship with the organization. I intend to do the work that for them. Whatever my views on Begg or Cageprisoners, I do not think that a collective corporate amnesia is the right approach to take when finding a way forward.

Now they have announced an internal independent Review to discuss criteria for partnership. The reviewers have said that they are not investigating allegations against Begg, but only looking at procedures that were followed and to suggest criteria, in order that the organization can manage its reputational risk. Nor will they examine all available evidence, only any new evidence that might come to light. The problem is that no-one knows what evidence was examined, but there was plenty that was ignored.  Senior experts well known to Amnesty International were not consulted, even though at least one wrote to the Secretary General offering to give evidence at the time I was suspended. Could it be that the leadership would rather that their research and analysis looked shoddy and incompetent than admit I was right?

Most western human rights and civil liberties organizations have watched the unfolding crisis in a frozen and complicit silence. They say nothing because they too have committed similar errors of judgement, supporting proponents of radical Islam rather than simply defending their rights. Too often in Britain, entirely legitimate concerns about racism and the marginalization of Muslims are allied to the promotion of groups associated with the Jamaat I Islami and Muslim Brotherhood.

Their programmes of social control such as promotion of the hijab are supported quite uncritically. The actions of human rights advocates mirror those of governments from Chechnya to the UK. Recruit former insurgents or fundamentalists and subcontract them to provide surveillance and control over the mass of the population. Defeat one form of fundamentalism by supporting another.

Human rights groups have entirely ignored this story and as a result simply cannot tell the story of the times within which we live. There is a void, where there should be analysis of the organizational forms and ideological links of western Islamists. There is silence on ‘faith based initiatives as part of soft ‘counter-terrorism’ strategies. They cannot accuse governments without accusing themselves.

 Even internal dissent is met with expulsion as Marieme Helie Lucas, the Algerian founder of Women Living Under Muslim Laws, has recently explained. And that  raises the question as to whether there is a long term determined programme of support within human rights organizations for the political programme of Islamists.

Those who make this allegation are immediately accused of supporting torture or arbitrary detention. Shadi Sadr, the courageous Iranian lawyer who has been sentenced in absentia to lashings and imprisonment, has pointed out that while Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have rushed to condemn the niqab ban in Europe, not a word has been heard against increasing dress code restrictions imposed by the State in Iran and accompanied by draconian punishments.

But it is the bland justification that Amnesty works with everybody including the Catholic Church which has seemed distinctly unwise. I expect that the Church might object to being put in the same category as supporters of Salafi Jihadi politics. In any case, Amnesty should have spoken out against the complicity, cover up and abuse of children by those exercising religious authority. In the event, they stayed shamefully silent. As one voice, the leaders stood with the Catholic establishment and ignored Catholic victims. 

As Amnesty trundles towards its 50th anniversary, I will be working with others to ensure that whether Amnesty is covering up or cleaning up, whether the review provides any answers, the hidden history of human rights will be put on record. Peter Benenson said that we work in Amnesty against oblivion.  If human rights organizations can no longer tell their own stories, others will do it for them.


Gita Sahgal is a former Head of the Gender Unit at Amnesty International. She left Amnesty International on April 9th 2010 due to ‘irreconcilable differences’. You can read her statement on leaving Amnesty International here.







Written by modernityblog

26/05/2010 at 20:55

Algeria: Union Headquarters Shut Down.

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Thanks to Eric Lee at LabourStart:

“On 12 May 2010, Algerian authorities effectively shut down La Maison des Syndicats (2 Rue El Oued, Bach Djarrah, Algiers), the headquarters of an important coalition of independent labor unions fighting for workers rights, including the Syndicat National Autonome des Personnels de l’Administration Publique (SNAPAP). Their website has also been shut down.

The closure was justified on the grounds that the space was being used as a meeting place for young men and women, meetings were held that were not authorized by the government, foreign nationals were invited to some of these meetings without government authorization, and a general disruption of public order by the occupants.”

There’s a lot going on in Algeria that we hear very little of from the mainstream media, but thanks to the search function on LabourStart you can view all posts concerning that or any other country.

Too Polite By Half.

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The CST blog is good.

It has plenty of coverage of topics which are not in the political mainstream, but I fear that the CST are often far too polite, or at least understate things 🙂

They have a piece on “Stuart Littlewood at the anti-Zionist website Redress”, which I reproduce below in full.

Readers might remember Littlewood and the antisemitic site, redress? He was a constant defender of Baroness Tonge. I detailed the nature of redress’s racism here.

But back to CST’s post [Warning: watch out for the link to the BPP, they are a pile of neo-Nazis]:

Numerus Clausus

May 25th, 2010 by Dave Rich

Stuart Littlewood at the anti-Zionist website Redress has spotted a problem with the composition of the new Parliament:

“Proportional Representation” is a big buzz-word in the UK these days. It implies fairer voting and fairer government. It is claimed to give minorities a better chance of being heard and therefore, they say, it should be incorporated into the “new politics” our shiny new coalition government has promised us.

But one minority group needs no help in that direction.

The Jewish Chronicle has published a list of Jewish MPs in Britain’s parliament. It names 24 – Conservatives 12, Labour 10 and Liberal Democrats two.

I thought it was more. But let us for the sake of argument accept the Jewish Chronicle’s figures.

The Jewish population in the UK is 280,000 or 0.46 per cent. There are 650 seats in the House of Commons so, as a proportion, Jewish entitlement is only three seats.


Jewish over-representation is only part of our problem. An even bigger worry is the huge number of non-Jew Zionists that have stealthily infiltrated every level of political and institutional life.

Things get even more serious when you look at the Party leaderships:

Meanwhile two Jews – the Miliband brothers – are battling for the leadership of the beaten Labour Party … [David] Cameron, 43, had no significant achievement under his belt but was able to manoeuvre himself, with the help of Jewish backers, into Britain’s prime minister slot.

The Jewishness of the Miliband brothers has so far played no role in the public debate over the Labour leadership, and is unlikely to do so beyond the pages of the Jewish media. So it is noteworthy to see which websites, fringe groups and conspiracy-mongers feel compelled to point it out.

UPDATE: We are not the only ones to have noticed Littlewood’s article: it has been reproduced in full on the website of the neo-Nazi British People’s Party. They have captioned it with the quote by the conspiracy theorist Nesta Webster that, “England is no longer controlled by Britons, we are under the invisible Jewish dictatorship, a dictatorship that can be felt in every sphere of life“, and illustrated it with this flag:


Written by modernityblog

26/05/2010 at 11:31

Arizona, Neo-Nazis And Crime.

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The current bout of xenophobia in Arizona has made them some new friends, but not the type you’d like to shout about, neo-Nazis are flocking to Arizona, as this video report shows:

But it is not only that, crime follows in their way.

As skinhead criminals whose hobby is being neo-Nazis on the side become active within Arizona.

The law of unintended consequences?

(H/T: Andrew Murphy)

Written by modernityblog

25/05/2010 at 14:42

BP And Around The World.

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British Petroleum are a devious bunch, having probably engineered, by attempts at cost-cutting and speeding up an already tight drilling schedule, the largest oil spill around the southern United States, now they try to swindle the local fishermen which have been co-opted into helping them. has more:

“A federal court in Louisiana has issued the first in what is bound to be many blows against BP: The US District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana has stopped BP from forcing fisherman volunteering to help with oil spill clean-up efforts from signing away their right to free speech, from holding BP harmless for any accidents that might occur, and requiring them to give the oil giant a month’s notice before filing any legal claims.

Commercial Fishermen’s Association president George Barasich asked the court to prevent BP from requiring fisherman to sign Master Charter Agreements compromising their existing and future rights. Judge Ginger Berrigan agreed that the language of the MCA’s was too broadly worded.”

Elsewhere, the Turkish government hasn’t learnt anything:

“More than 340 children in the Kurdish south-east of Turkey have been given long prison sentences in the past three years.

Most of them were detained for taking part in anti-government protests, under a law banning any show of support for the outlawed Kurdish Workers’ Party, or PKK.”

The Tories, £6 billion of cuts is only the start.

UN camp in Gaza attacked.

If I remember well about 18 months ago there was a discussion about staff shortages on the London Underground. They couldn’t get enough quality people to do the safety work which was necessary to avoid massive deaths, when accidents occur. Now in an Alice in Wonderland move they’re probably cutting up to 800 staff, unbelievable.

Kiana Firouz needs help and support, not deportation.

More on Wikileaks.

(H/T: Adam, Tami, etc)

Written by modernityblog

25/05/2010 at 01:38

Facebook And Advertisers.

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The Register has a slightly worrying story:

“Facebook has been giving advertisers data that they can use to discover users’ names and locations, contrary to its privacy policy.

The dominant social network tells users it won’t share their details without consent, but according to the Wall Street Journal, it has handed over information that advertisers can use to look up individual profiles.

MySpace had a similar loophole, it’s reported. Both sites said they were making changes to stop the handover.

Advertisers were getting reports whenever users clicked on their ads, as is typical across the web. However, Facebook and MySpace’s reports contained the URL of the user’s profile page, which often included their real name or user name. Neither site had bothered to obscure the data, in breach of their own privacy policies.”

This is the WSJ piece:

“Across the Web, it’s common for advertisers to receive the address of the page from which a user clicked on an ad. Usually, they receive nothing more about the user than an unintelligible string of letters and numbers that can’t be traced back to an individual. With social networking sites, however, those addresses typically include user names that could direct advertisers back to a profile page full of personal information. In some cases, user names are people’s real names.

Most social networks haven’t bothered to obscure user names or ID numbers from their Web addresses, said Craig Wills, a professor of computer science at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, who has studied the issue.

The sites may have been breaching their own privacy policies as well as industry standards, which say sites shouldn’t share and advertisers shouldn’t collect personally identifiable information without users’ permission. Those policies have been put forward by advertising and Internet companies in arguments against the need for government regulation.”

Written by modernityblog

21/05/2010 at 14:59

Posted in Uncategorized

Tagged with , , ,

14 Years.

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Peter Tatchell has been covering the terrible treatment of Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga in Malawi for some time, and here is his latest update:

’14 years for Malawi couple is “brutal”

Jailed men could die in squalid prison

Malawi reverts to the mentality of the Hastings Banda dictatorship

Only hope is for Steven and Tiwonge to appeal to the High Court

London – 20 May 2010

“This is an appalling, vindictive and brutal sentence, which tramples on Malawi’s constitution, violates personal privacy and reverses the country’s commitment to human rights.

“Steven and Tiwonge love each other and have harmed no one. Yet they get a sentence more severe than some rapists, armed robbers and killers.

“With so much hatred and violence in Malawi, it is sick that the court has jailed these two men for loving and caring for each other.

“The sentence echoes the era of dictatorship under President Hastings Banda, when personal prejudices determined law enforcement, and when individual rights were crushed and dissenters persecuted,” said London-based human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell of the gay rights group OutRage!.

He was commenting on the 14 year jail sentence for homosexuality, which was handed down today against Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga in Blantyre, Malawi.

Mr Tatchell has been supporting and advocating for the jailed men since their arrest and detention in December last year; helping arrange prison visits and the delivery of food parcels, medicine, letters of support and clothes to the detained men.

In the 1970s and 80s, Mr Tatchell supported the democracy movement in Malawi and campaigned for the release of the country’s political prisoners.

“Fourteen years with hard labour could kill Steven and Tiwonge. Prison conditions are appallingly unhealthy,” he said.

“Detainees die in custody. Infectious diseases like TB are rife. Medical treatment is sub-standard. Food rations are very poor nutritional value; mostly maize porridge, beans and water, causing malnutrition. After only five months behind bars, Steven has been seriously ill and has not received proper medical treatment.”

Commenting on the verdict, Mr Tatchell added:

“The judge has violated Article 20 of Malawi’s own constitution, which guarantees equal treatment and non-discrimination to all citizens. The law under which they were convicted is a discriminatory law that only applies to same-sex relations. It is unconstitutional. The law in Malawi is not supposed to discriminate.

“Malawi’s anti-gay laws were not devised by Malawians. They were devised in London in the nineteenth century and imposed on the people of Malawi by the British colonisers and their army of occupation. Before the British came and conquered Malawi, there were no laws against homosexuality. These laws are a foreign imposition. They are not African laws.

“I expect both men will appeal against the verdict and sentence. Steven and Tiwonge’s best hope is that a higher court will overturn this unjust, cruel verdict; although a more positive outcome on appeal is uncertain, given the high-level homophobia that exists in Malawian society, including among the judiciary.

“The magistrate was biased from outset. He refused the two men bail, which is very unusual in cases of non-violent offences. In Malawi, bail is normal. It is often granted to thieves and violent criminals. Denying Steven and Tiwonge bail was an act of vindictiveness.

“I appeal to governments worldwide, especially the South African government, to condemn this harsh, bigoted judgement and to urge its reversal,” said Mr Tatchell.

Prior to the verdict, Tiwonge and Steven issued a defiant message from their prison cell. It affirmed their love for each other and thanked their supporters in Malawi and worldwide.

Tiwonge said: “I love Steven so much. If people or the world cannot give me the chance
and freedom to continue living with him as my lover, then I am better off to die here in prison. Freedom without him is useless and meaningless.”

“We have come a long way and even if our family relatives are not happy, I will not and never stop loving Tiwonge,” said Steven.

The two men’s messages were relayed from inside Chichiri Prison in Blantyre, Malawi, to Peter Tatchell of the LGBT human rights group OutRage! in London, England.

Tiwonge and Steven stressed their gratitude for the support they have received from fellow Malawians and from people around the world:

“We are thankful for the people who have rallied behind us during this difficult time. We are grateful to the people who visit and support us, which really makes us feel to be members of a human family; otherwise we would feel condemned,” said Tiwonge.

Steven added: “All the support is well appreciated. We are grateful to everybody who is doing this for us. May people please continue the commendable job…Prison life is very difficult.”

Peter Tatchell expressed his admiration of the two men:

“Steven and Tiwonge are showing immense fortitude and courage. They declared their love in a society where many people – not all – are very intolerant and homophobic. This was a very brave thing to do. Although suffering in prison, they are unbowed. They continue to maintain their love and affirm their human right to be treated with dignity and respect,” said Mr Tatchell.

“They have taken a pioneering stand for the right to love. They love each other, have harmed no one and believe that love should not be a crime. It is nobody’s business what they do in the privacy of their own home. There is no evidence that they have committed any crime under Malawian law. They should never have been put on trial. Even prior to their conviction, they had already spent nearly five months behind bars.

“OutRage! is supporting Steven and Tiwonge. For the last four months, we have arranged extra food to supplement the men’s meagre, poor quality prison rations.

“We pay tribute to the other people and organisations who are giving legal and medical assistance to the detained men. This is a huge help. Steven and Tiwonge have asked me to communicate their appreciation,” said Mr Tatchell.

Sixty-seven British MPs have signed a House of Commons Early Day Motion (EDM 564), which condemns the arrest and trial of Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga.

Amnesty International has adopted Steven and Tiwonge as Prisoners of Conscience:

Until quite recently Steven and Tiwonge did not realise that they had been adopted as Prisoners of Conscience by Amnesty International. When this news was relayed to them in prison they were, to quote one source: “Very happy with the effort made by Amnesty International to accord them this status. They offer their thanks to Amnesty.”

Tiwonge and Steven have also expressed appreciation for the protest on their behalf in London on 22 March this year.

See photos of the protest here:

See videos of the protest here:

The two men thanked London-based African and British activists who have lobbied the Malawian Ambassador and the Commonwealth Secretary-General and Human Rights Unit to seek their release and to secure medical treatment for Steven.

Steven’s condition has stabilised but he remains very ill. He is thin and weak and has jaundiced eyes, according to an eye-witness who saw him last weekend.

Tiwonge and Steven are urging continued protests to “get our release and the dropping of charges by the Malawi government.”

Write a letter to Steven and Tiwonge

Help boost their spirits. Show them you care. Send a letter or postcard of support to Steven and Tiwonge. In this difficult time, they need to know that people around the world love and support them.

Write to:

Tiwonge Chimbalanga and Steven Monjeza, Prisoners, Chichiri Prison, P.O.Box 30117, Blantyre 3, Malawi

Constitution of Malawi – Article 20:

Discrimination of persons in any form is prohibited and all persons are…guaranteed equal and effective protection against discrimination on grounds of race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, nationality, ethnic or social origin, disability, property, birth or other status.

“Or other status” means on other grounds, which includes sexual orientation.

See here:$FILE/Constitution%20Malawi%20-%20EN.pdf

African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights – Articles 2, 3 and 4:

Article 2
Every individual shall be entitled to the enjoyment of the rights and freedoms recognized and guaranteed in the present Charter without distinction of any kind such as race, ethnic group, color, sex, language, religion, political or any other opinion, national and social origin, fortune, birth or other status.

Article 3
1. Every individual shall be equal before the law. 2. Every individual shall be entitled to equal protection of the law.

Article 4
Human beings are inviolable. Every human being shall be entitled to respect for his life and the integrity of his person. No one may be arbitrarily deprived of this right.

See here:

Confirmation of Malawi’s signature, ratification and accession

Written by modernityblog

20/05/2010 at 16:12

Of Memes.

with 2 comments

Flesh is Grass has tagged me for a meme, and it is a difficult one, choosing a theme for the blog.

Most people (and in particular Bob) wouldn’t find it hard, but I find it considerably harder than any political or social question of the day.

Still, I am entering into the spirit of things, I’ve a few tunes, now I was going to add some Ranchera but I have forgotten so many and I’ll spare readers Vicente Fernández’s Volver Volver.

As an alternative, Tito Puente is a good listen:

Next we move on to Motown, where do you start? The ups and downs, the changing line ups, I don’t know. The 1960s, what music ! Where to start? And how could I leave out funk? That’s a story in its self.

Any way, I finally settled on Jimmy Cliff’s Many Rivers to Cross:


Written by modernityblog

20/05/2010 at 03:33

Posted in Uncategorized

Tagged with , ,

Blogs And Comments.

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I am away for a few days and guess what, a mountain of emails arrive and some peculiar comments to moderate come in.

The emails I can stand.

But getting a silly arse comment like “there is plenty of evidence from mainstream TV showing Israeils getting illegal kidney “ is pushing it.

So I follow the poster’s link, to his site (or favoured forum, I can’t work out which), and low and behold then I am confronted by even more mindless racism.

Profanities on his site scream out at you, shouted at immigrants, the French, any ethnic minority, etc.,

Yes, you guessed it.

Those who happened to share Baroness Tonge’s view, that there should be an investigation into the ludicrous idea that supposedly ‘Israelis went all the way to Haiti to harvest the organs of the earthquake survivors’, are often thick racists too.

Not only are these people conspicuous racists and bigots, but they’re not even subtle about their other absurd views.

That website (and please forgive me if I don’t wish to give you it for the moment) is replete with the almost obligatory page on 9.11. Not unsurprisingly, for a pile of twisted cranks, one of the articles is entitled:

“Why Do Jews Hate 9/11 Truth?”

Presumably it was written by a neo-Nazi or one of their mates, that the type of pond that Baroness Tonge swims in.

In short, these people are the fringe of the fringe, singularly incapable of realising how far they are detached from reality and oozing bigotry at every turn.

Be warned, this site is probably a neo-Nazi front, but please decide for yourself. Warning racist and disgusting material abounds, take care.

Written by modernityblog

19/05/2010 at 22:01

Nazi Saluting BNPers.

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You don’t have to be stupid to be a BNPer, but it helps.

You might think that these knuckleheads in the BNP would have been told to lay off the Nazi salutes around election time and particularly in public, but no, these sorry examples of the “master race” can’t get anything right:

Nazi saluting BNPers in Stoke.

In other news, the BNP’s chief knucklehead of London, Bill Bailey, may be arrested for his violent conduct during the election, about time too.

Update 1: Ops, it seems it was from 2002, still BNPers giving the nazi salute tho! A hit tip should have gone to Jim on this.

Update 2: Some more BNP saluting neo-nazis, from 2009:

Update 3: And another BNPer using the Nazi salute in 2010.

Written by modernityblog

15/05/2010 at 14:30

Elsewhere, Not A Round Up.

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Thankfully, the days when the world revolve or seem to revolve around Britain have long since gone and whilst the British general election has been interesting for political trainspotters there’s a lot more happening in the world, here’s my completely subjective pick:

Adam Holland has an excellent post on the next racist myth.

After the Offal libel, you can expect these fictitious super-weapons to become a stable in the life of anti-Jewish racists.

Judeosphere has a bevy of fine posts, but I thought these were particularly amusing, The New Statesman Praises Iran’s President For Not Denying the Holocaust and The Decline And Fall of Walt & Mearsheimer.

I couldn’t resist this one:

“The proportion of MPs that went to private school is five times that of the population as a whole – an increase from the last parliament. The new parliament sees the number of ethnic minority MPs almost double from 14 to 26, while the number of female MPs also rose – though by less than 2.5 percentage points, from 126 out of 646 in the last parliament, to 142 out of 649 today.”

Terry Gavin, Speaking Truth To Power In Palestine.

Over at Searchlight, Young, nazi and out of a job.

Iranian Nobel Winner Launches Scholars at Risk, Ireland Section.

Review of Slobodan Milosevic trial, weighing the evidence (HRW 2006).

At the CST, scrutinising that French racist, Dieudonne on Press TV.

Olly puts it a different way, Music Desk: Won’t Get Fooled Again.

More on Arizona’s Immigration Law from the New Centrist.

Mystical Politics covers Elena Kagan, Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, an underreported story if there ever was one.

Roland on the Mcveigh tapes.

The new look Butterflies and Wheels, The Regime in Iran has silenced the voice of five more activists!

Two multimedia projects about Bosnia from Café Turco.

Jane Austen’s latest fan.

Israel Blamed for Saudi Misogyny.

Jane Fonda and Anne Frank: Banned in Beirut.

The Index on Censorship blog: UK: Leaked coalition document promises “review” of libel laws, but don’t hold your breath.

Labour Start has many informative articles, but I was struck by Uprising in Egypt: A new labor movement takes shape and Iran: Execution of a Trade Unionist.

Harold Bloom on The Jewish Question: British Anti-Semitism.

Flesh is Grass on More on Farzad Kamangar and the political dissidents executed in Iran.

Written by modernityblog

14/05/2010 at 19:06

The Implications.

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The implications of this judgement are explained by Dave Osler’s brief:

And Dave himself explaining it:

Update 1: Thanks to Stroppyblog, here’s the press release from Bryan Cave:

“In an important judgment handed down today in the High Court, Mr. Justice Eady ruled in favour of Bryan Cave pro bono client David Osler, a well-known journalist and blogger, who was defending a libel claim brought against him by Johanna Kaschke. London associate Robert Dougans represented Mr. Osler and acted as the advocate at the hearing. Mr. Justice Eady ruled that the claim against Mr. Osler was an abuse of process and should be struck out.

This significant case clarifies the position in respect of bloggers and the online media in relation to the liability they face in respect of old postings still available in their archives. Dougans advised on the recent landmark libel case win for Dr. Simon Singh brought by the British Chiropractic Association, which has been one of the causes of a campaign to reform England’s libel laws.

The Osler case arose out of a blog post written by Ms. Kaschke in which Ms. Kaschke stated that she had been wrongly arrested in Germany in the 1970s. Mr. Osler linked to, and summarised her blog post, which caused Ms. Kaschke to sue him for libel. However, Ms. Kaschke did not issue the claim form until over a year after Mr. Osler’s blog was posted on the web. Mr. Osler applied to the court to strike out the claim on two grounds, namely that the claim was an abuse of process and that there was no evidence of any publication after the expiry of the 1-year limitation period.
In the light of this decision, it is clear that real evidence of publication of such material is required, and that it will not lightly be inferred by the courts.

Dougans successfully convinced the court that the claim brought by Ms. Kaschke fell within the situation envisaged in the case of Jameel v Dow Jones [2005] QB 946, and should be struck out as an abuse of process. Mr. Justice Eady held that there was very little difference between what the claimant had put into the public domain and what Mr. Osler had published on his blog. In the circumstances, damages could only ever be very minor and a trial was simply not worth the time and expense that would be incurred. On these grounds, Ms. Kaschke’s claim was struck out as an abuse of process.

“This is a rare occasion where the Jameel argument has actually succeeded in striking out a claim. This argument is often run, but rarely succeeds” Dougans said. “Mr. Justice Eady’s decision today ought to clarify exactly when it is appropriate to run this argument, and give clarity to both Claimant and Defendant lawyers as to the type of dispute, which should be allowed to proceed by the courts” Dougans added. “This is not just my victory. My thanks go to the excellent William McCormick QC, of Ely Place Chambers, and David Allen Green, Of Counsel at Preiskel & Co; both played a key role in assisting me in this case, particularly in the development and expression of the key arguments, which were successful on the day. Further thanks are also due to Tooks Chambers’ Joel Bennathan QC and Martin Huseyin, who offered their time to represent Mr. Osler at trial, should it have been necessary, on a pro bono basis. It is a privilege to have been able to work with such a team.” “

[My emphasis.]

Update 2: Sense About Science covers it too.

Update 3: has a piece:

“Allen Green, who has acted pro bono along with solicitor Robert Dougans, reproduced the post on his own blog yesterday, but disabled the comments facility.

Green reported on Twitter that Kaschke had threatened a new libel claim against him: “I have just been formally THREATENED WITH A LIBEL CLAIM by Johanna Kaschke,” he wrote. “I am just the latest of dozens of bloggers/journalists threatened/served with libel by Kaschke.” This, Green said, is why he and Dougans acted pro bono in the Osler case.

Kaschke has also brought a libel action against LabourHome blogger Alex Hilton. Hilton failed to get the case struck out of the High Court last month. Hilton writes today: “Readers may well be aware that Ms Kaschke has a similar claim against me, running now for two years, on the basis of something written by a Labourhome contributor. I sincerely hope I will be able to follow Dave Osler’s route out of this mess.”

Update 3: Stroppyblog does a follow up post, David Osler libel case, the impact on lives.

Update 4: There’s a snippet on V3 on the case and the Internet message boards.

Update 5: The Press Association has more:

“The judge said he was quite satisfied the posting did not link Ms Kaschke to terrorism in the sense of suggesting in any way that she was directly linked with it or that she approved of the extremist activities. Mr Osler, he added, was merely choosing to highlight an unusual event in the history of someone who was at the material time active in politics in London.

Striking out the claim, he concluded that if a jury found in favour of Ms Kaschke, the damages would be very modest and out of all proportion to the time and money spent on the cost of a two-week trial.

He commented: “It is an important consideration for the court to have in mind on any abuse application that the fact of being sued at all is a serious interference with freedom of expression.

“That may be appropriate in the majority of libel actions, where it is necessary to countenance such interference in order to vindicate the rights of another person in respect of whom a real and substantial tort has occurred.

“But the court must be vigilant to recognise the small minority of cases where the legitimate objective of vindication is not required or, at least, cannot be achieved without a wholly disproportionate interference with the rights of the defendant.”

Update 6: There’s more coverage from East London Lines, Digital Spy, Robert Sharp and Peter Risdon.

Update 7: John Gray has his own thoughts on the matter, and is the subject of a libel act from Ms. Kaschke at the moment:

“It is practically unheard of for libel cases to be knocked back for this reason which shows how completely daft it was in the first place.  In a nutshell Kaschke is a German born national who in her youth in the 1970’s had been wrongly arrested and detained on warrant for several weeks by the German police on suspicion of being involved in terrorist activities.  She was released without charge and later given compensation for wrongful detention. Despite posting this information on her own blog and being offered a full right of reply she decided to sue Dave for posting about her own admissions.

Check out the links here, here, here about the whole sorry silly tale of how a former Labour Party member who failed to be a Parliamentary candidate defected to Respect then turned to the Communist Part of Great Britain then the Communist Party of Britain then the Labour Party again and finally (for now) joined the Conservative Party – all within a few months. Who then went on to waste tens of thousands of pounds of public money by taking out multiple libel actions and court applications that were doomed to fail. There has probably by now been millions of pages of documents wasted and thousands of hours of court administration officers and officials time used up. An incredible number of different expensive direction hearings, applications and appeals. Imagine how much Royal Court of Justice Masters and Judges are paid per day and how much nonsense they had to read and listen to!

Dave is a professional journalist and has suffered the stress and uncertainty of if he was to lose this action being made bankrupt and losing his home for the past 3 years.  Check out his Partner Stroppy account of the stress and strains this has caused. “

Update 8: The Times is running with it:

“A political activist today failed in her libel action over a journalist’s blog which referred to her “Baader-Meinhof” link.

In a ruling that gives bloggers some protection against libel actions, Mr Justice Eady rejected a claim by Johanna Kaschke , a Tower Hamlets-based Conservative, against David Osler, a Labour Party member, over an article that was written in April 2007.

Ms Kaschke claimed that some of the comments linked her with terrorism. The judge at the High Court in London, however, struck out the claim as an abuse of process. “

Update 9: Tim Worstall, I know I disagree with Dave Osler about everything…