Friday, 11 November 2011

11/11/11

We may not like the wars our governments have thrown us into. We may think that it is a waste of blood and treasure to be fighting in some god-forsaken mess half way round the world. I can sympathise with those who say it, I am not a military man, I do not idolise soldiers as heroes to the core. They are brave men doing an often nasty job. The wars we are in now are not wars of necessity, we are not under threat of invasion or death from an enemy in the clouds; but today, on the 11th day of the 11th month of the 11th year of this new century we must stand and be counted. For everyone of us alive today owes our freedom to millions of un-named men and women through the centuries. They have often died, in pain, alone and scared or in the line marching on an enemy, so that we may live free and never know the horror that war can bring. Whatever our feelings today it is time to remember them, they gave up peace and often life for us, people they would never know.

We Will Remember Them

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
      Between the crosses, row on row,
   That mark our place; and in the sky
   The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
   Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
         In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
   The torch; be yours to hold it high.
   If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Why Do We Ignore Restorative Justice in the UK?

Today the British Prime Minister was quizzed on his responses to the August Riots. While it is clear that previous convictions or dealings with the police did stop a select few from joining the looting and destruction one fact made me pay attention - an overwhelming majority of those caught by the police had previous convictions or cautions. As several Ministers pointed out, and I agree, these individuals had been alienated from the community they live in and by following the path of retributive justice had been removed (in the case of those who had served time) from society as a whole. As this is the case why is it that the government and the country as a whole believed that retributive justice, fining, imprisonment etc, was the best solution to deal with the post-riot arrests.
Restorative justice is an idea where-by wrong-doers are forced to apologise to the individual or group they wronged and earn their way back into society. It has been implemented in many areas of the world, including post-conflict and post-genocide countries with a large amount of success. Instead of removing a person from society and locking them up with a lot of other bad people, why not make them part of the society they felt alienated from? By giving them community projects and by allowing them to feel accepted by those around them it removes the antipathy which can lead to the forms of mass violence that was seen in the summer riots. If it can reintegrate those who participated in genocide and mass killing I think it is a reasonable conclusion to draw that it can help disaffected petty crooks in the UK.

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Israel refuses to accept anything outside of its blinkered view of exclusive knowledge

Yesterday, two boats, one Irish, one Canadian were captured by the Israeli navy and towed to an Israeli port. There crews from 9 different countries including some accredited journalists were help without charge, because really there is no charge. These two small boats were trying to breech the blockade that Israel has placed around Gaza. While I agree with the Israeli government that this was a stunt designed to raise awareness of the issue I disagree entirely with the scathing way they said it. This blockade is in place in contravention with international law and only remains through technicalities and the support of powerful friends. Freedom Waves as this latest attempt to breech the blockade has been called, is a brave and skilled attempt to demonstrate this illegality to the world once again in the hope that someonee will finally listen. I also take issue with the methods employed by the Israeli military in detaining these foreign nationals. According to the twitter accounts of the Canadian boat (@CanadaBoatGaza ), a biased account I accept, said soon after the taking of the ships, that water cannons, beatings and tasers were used in the detention of the crew. It also shared a message from the Irish boat, 'Kidnapped, being held against our will. Boat nearly destroyed by Israeli army..'
Whatever the truth of both sides I find these actions by a so-called democratic state reprehensible and degrading when I consider the relationship my own country shares with it. Israel should respect the rights accorded to all people and especially to the rights of foreign nationals. You are not a law unto yourselves and eventually our governments will realise the damage knowing you does them and then we shall see what happens...