Archive for the ‘Colonial history’ Category


is there ROOM for escape?
Leaving the European Union…
Leaving the People’s Republic of China…
Apart from the question: WHO IS FLEEING FROM WHERE?
there is the question: WHERE CAN ONE FLEE?
– In the news-picture flow of these days we may see British Union Jack flags waving both in the UK and Hong Kong, while REMAIN partisans wave EU and PRC flags with more than one star, one having a blue, the other a red background.

“The red background symbolizes the revolution and the golden star colors ‘radiate’ on the red background representing one of the Five Elements of fire and earth. The big star represents the unity of Chinese people under the leadership of the Communist Party of China (…) the four smaller stars that surround the big star symbolize the four social classes (the working class, the peasantry, the urban petite bourgeoisie and the national bourgeoisie) of China’s New Democracy mentioned in Mao’s ‘On the People’s Democratic Dictatorship’. [wiki]
The EU (European Union and European Council) flag has “the blue sky of the Western world” with 12 stars that “symbolize the peoples of Europe in a form of a circle, a sign of union. Their number is invariably twelve, the figure twelve being the symbol of perfection and entirety.” [wiki]
I have taken out one of the twelve EU stars in this picture… to symbolize the ‘disunity’ when the UK leaves the EU. Will it be a loss of ‘perfection’ and will what is left of the EU be eternally ‘incomplete’?

The official Union Jack Flag of the United Kingdom may shed some of its constituting parts soon. “The present design of the Union Flag dates from a Royal proclamation following the union of Great Britain and Ireland in 1801. The flag combines aspects of three older national flags: the red cross of St George for the Kingdom of England, the white saltire of St Andrew for Scotland (which two were united in the first Union Flag), and the red saltire of St Patrick to represent Ireland. Notably, the home country of Wales is not represented separately in the Union Flag, as the flag was designed after the invasion of Wales in 1282. Hence Wales as a home country today has no representation on the flag.”


A demonstrator waves a Union Jack flag in front of police during protests that have once again raised issues of identity as well as hostility towards Beijing among young people in Hong Kong. VINCENT YU/AP [The Times June 14 2019]

SO WHO IS FLEEING FROM THE ‘PEOPLE’S DEMOCRATIC DICTATORSHIP’ IN HONG KONG? Which star should be taken out? Is it the ‘urban petite bourgeoisie’? Is it the ‘national bourgeoisie’? Or both?
Will the Brits float their island away to the West across the Atlantic? Or will the USA conquer one of the former colonial motherlands, as many are suggesting depicting Boris Johnson as the trickster that plays the Trump-card.
Is there any option for drifting away for the tiny islands and some bits of connected mainland territory? It is hardly imaginable that Hong Kong can catapult itself to the Western hemisphere… it can drift a fair bit south-west toward Singapore or a rather long way east toward Taiwan, or even further to Japan.
All of this seems far beyond the doable… especially for the HKEXIT plan. Can any nation in the world ESCAPE the globalizing market forces? There seems to be NO ROOM for it anymore. Still in this perspective one may argue that the main HKEXIT actors maybe not the inhabitants of that former British Crown Colony, but those in Beijing who are responsible for keeping the ‘peoples dictatorship’ up and running. Is it not so that by limiting what is called ‘ the free market economy’ (wrong term in fact but let’s use it here to avoid too long an exposé about the un-freedom of it) and limiting the formal separation of the law-system from the state apparatus (‘rule of law’) in Hong Kong, the People’s Republic of China is the one that forces the Hong Kong – as it is still now – OUT: EXIT HK?


Once more IS THERE ROOM FOR ESCAPE in this world?
I think there is not. One has to face up to the political and military power realities of where one lives now, seek for no relief from the past, but instead face up to the future. There is No glorious past to go back to, not for the Brits and their infamous colonial empire, not for the people of Hong Kong. Their status of voiceless subjects without a parliament in a British Crown Colony – that developed into a modern day piracy nest for the big finance – has remained unchanged, better said worsened. Hong Kong’s actual status of “Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China” protocoled as “one country two systems” has seen the quality of civil rights eroding and promises for more democracy, made before the hand-over to China by the UK, thwarted. This has lead some to long for a a past that was supposedly better, but at best – only at the end of British reign – one may speak of some gestures of ‘belated enlightened top down’ delivered measures of empowering Chinese Hong Kong citizens. Before British rule of law was strongly geared toward the expatriate business community.

In the Hong Kong turmoil of the last months local social economic issues have hardly been mentioned and there are many to tackle. The exploitative housing market being one of them, as well as the impunity of aggressive capitalist ventures that are based in Hong Kong, “free” to develop their predatory practices in the Asia Pacific and beyond and are  – how paradoxical – allowed to exploit the mainland workers population of China as well.

There is an aspect of ‘unholy alliance’ in the fight of Hong Kong people against the Moloch of the People’s Republic of China. All social classes in Hong Kong seem to unite, from students to bankers. ‘The enemy of my enemy is my friend’ goes the saying. Not something that can be escaped. Still, something that must be kept in mind actively. This point is proven by the support of the USA voiced by Donald Trump for the demands of the Hong Kong people’s movement. A mean and menacing gesture in the globalist power game called the ‘US-China Trade War’.
The BREXITers practice their own ‘unholy alliance’ by joining the ‘free-marketeers’ based in the UK whose interest is to free themselves from EU tutelage and enter into Atlantic and global joint ventures, not giving a damn about the social economic effects that will have for the less fortunate part of the British population, ready to even massacre what is left of the famous British National Health Service.
National states and associations thereof are means and no ends in themselves. Local communities form the basis of any state. Local level interests can only be furthered by local level changes and the national and supra national state bodies need to be forced to get geared to that.
The one who flees the local-level social state of affairs becomes a refugee. Refugees going elsewhere will in the end land in yet another local situation.
It is there… that change must be wrought. The actual sentiments of Britishness and Hongkongness are more products of a shared opinion of what is ‘not wanted’ than an expression of  of a ‘national unity’ in the 19th and 20th century sense. It is the unwanted partnership with a supra-national conglomeration that makes people aware of their local  identity, but once that partnership is broken and a single unit chooses to stand on its own, that sense of ‘togetherness’ will fall apart. Internal contradictions will take over.

The Balkanisation of Former Yugoslavia may serve as an example, whereby a federal state with multiple nations has been forced apart and some of the new nations have sought refuge in a far bigger federation of nation states (the European Union), while others stayed ‘alone’, thus losing their former close social, economic and cultural ties and markets, restraining their national identity to a single one, where it was plural before. In most cases creation and disintegration of unions of nations and states are marked by violent acts. There are exceptions like the split up of Czechoslovakia into two separate sovereign states Czechia and Slovakia in 1993 (both new states remained in the European Union), or the dissolution of the 1814 Union between Norway and Sweden in 1905 (it went into history books as a peaceful settlement, only when one neglects the suffering of  the border populations). Most other cases throughout history have been bloody affairs, some of the most deadly being the result of failed imperial rule in the British empire (the partition of India and Pakistan with a death toll that has never been formally established ranging between 200.000 and 2 million and 14 million displaced persons).

Thus, the  positive option is REMAIN, and adapt the rules of the supra-federation to local needs (in my view the PRC is a supra-federation which is too much centralised now).

The negative option is to leave and the hardship of confronting social-economic barriers produced by these supra-federations, which will start of with a few decades of revenge for those who have left. Of course in the global power reality Hong Kong does not stand a chance to leave the PRC. Hong Kong  will not be “sold back” to Britain or what ever it is that will be left after BREXIT of the UK. Also, Hong Kong will not become a ‘City Free State’ like Singapore. Hong Kong is bound to be a ‘special region’ of that – seemingly – big state-unit and ‘unity’ called China. How ‘special’ and for ‘how long’ depends on its will and capacity to keep kicking.


Read Full Post »

oorspronkelijk gepubliceerd i op 16 november 2013 op mijn Flickr web-pages. Deze prent had daar 11.407 views. De route is anders in 2018, maar de hier uiteengezette betekenissen zijn nog onveranderd. Sinterklaas/Zwarte Piet Amsterdam 2013. Geen racisme maar klasse-uitbuiting: KOOPSLAVENOPTOCHT & WERKSLAVENKADOOTJES


Mijn commentaar op Zwarte Piet = Racisme Discussie:

Ik zie niet in waarom nu plotseling er meer RACISME in Nederland is/zou zijn dan voorheen. Je ziet hetzelfde in Frankrijk, waar ditmaal de regering de mond vol heeft over een golf van racisme die het land overspoelt.

“Race & Class” Rasse en Klasse heette het neo-marxistisch tijdschrift uit de zeventiger jaren waarin gepoogd werd de toenmalige situatie te analyseren. En de titel van dat blad zegt al wat een betere insteek in dit debat is: hoe verhoudt zich rasse tot klasse. (1)

Het jaarlijks spektakel dat de grootwinkelbedrijvers met in hun gevolg de middenstandwinkeliers en de opkomende klasse van e-winkeliers op straat brengen is bedoelt om de kooplust aan te wakkeren en natuurlijk is de klasse van kooplustigen (en dat is het merendeel van de bevolking) er niet van gediend om dit ceremonieel – dat de aanvang van het grote inslaan markeert – verstoord te zien door enkelingen die niet zozeer de kooplust, maar enkel de wijze waarop die gestalte geven wordt, willen bestrijden. In het huidige ‘anti-racisme debat’ is de essentiële factor van ‘klasse’ en ‘klassenmaatschappij’ steeds minder te vinden. Hierdoor wordt vaak meer aan het verleden gerefereerd dan aan het heden getoetst.

Waar zijn de demonstranten tegen de cadeautjesdwang, de overconsumptie gebleven? Die waren er ook in het verleden. Zal nog maar eens zoeken naar hun pamfletten, want naar mijn mening raakten zij de zaak van Zwarte Piet beter en in de kern. “De zak van Sinterklaas… o tsjonge, tsjonge wat een baas, daar stopt hij, daar stopt hij blij van zin, de hele, de hele de wereld in…” Heden ten dage gaat het letterlijk zo.

Eeuwen terug al hebben Protestantse regenten geprobeerd om een plaatselijke Sinterklaasverbod uit te vaardigen (de goedheiligman was immers tot lid van de Katholieke Kerk gebombardeerd). Maar het gewone volk dat zich het genot van ‘suikergoed en marsepein’ ontzegd zag, revolteerde! Wat was toen de rol van Zwarte Piet? Eerder die van een voor-christelijke duivelsknecht dan van een een Moor of Neger uit koloniale dagen (die woorden werden toendertijd onverbloemd gebruikt).

Alle culturen kennen de rituelen van ‘vraatzucht’, heden ten dage vermeerderd met de ‘koopzucht’, het afnemen van de onstuitbare stroom aan goederen die van de lopende band fabrieken in verre landen met zie ginds komt de stoomboot uit China weer aan, aangevoerd worden.

Rasse en Klasse, denk ik dan weer.

Wie heeft het over het lot van de uitgebuitenen in de Aziatische zweetfabrieken die onze Sinterklaascadeutjes produceren? Kijk maar naar het labeltje in al die kleding-op-een-koopje: Bijenkorf, C&A, Diesel, Esprit, H&M, HEMA, V&D, ZARA. (2)

Waarom maakt de Goede Sint geen omweg over de Amsterdamse haventerreinen langs de loods vol met cacaobonen van het Hedge Fund Amajaro, die 15% van de wereld-cacaoproductie in handen heeft en dat uit speculatieve overwegingen overal in de wereld opslaat in grote loods, zoals ook in de Amsterdamse havens. Waarom niet een wagenspel toegevoegd aan de stoet waar het verdrijven, de landroof, van de kleine cacaoboeren van hun akkers in Afrika en elders verbeeld wordt? Dat zou helpen om het chocoladeletter-volk te doordringen van de betekenis van hun eigen bij Dirk of de A&H gekochte initialen en de bittere nasmaak die die zouden moeten hebben. (3)

Wie heeft het over de expeditiemedewerkers hier ten landen die overuren maken? Wie geeft er extra suikergoed aan de vuilnismannen die al die dozen en al dat verpakplastic mogen opruimen op 6 december? Hoe ervaart het op de schopstoel zittend winkelpersoneel die inkoopwoede?

Ik denk nog steeds… rasse en klasse…

Die hele Zwarte Piet discussie is om te doen vergeten, dat het niet zo zeer gaat om ‘racisme’, als het aanwijzen van mensen met een andere huidskleur, maar over de combinatie van uitbuiting en huidskleur. Uitbuiting van mensen met een andere huidskleur als die van de uitbuiters (hoe bespottelijk en miniem ook dat verschil mag wezen; denk aan de trend in vele delen van de wereld om een lichter gekleurde huwelijkspartner als aantrekkelijk te zien).

Wie is de slaaf van tegenwoordig? Kunnen we haar, hem herkennen aan de huidskleur? Mij lijkt van niet.

Wel denk ik dat die hele route waarlangs Sinterklaas dit weekeinde zal paraderen, omzoomd is door slaven’…

… slaven van de grootwinkelbedrijvers, slaven van de kleinwinkeliers, slaven van de ewinkeliers…

Vrijwillige slaven? Gemanipuleerde slaven? Verslaafde slaven?

Wie zal daar tegen protesteren?

(1) ‘Race & Class’ Journal, had a change of editor in 1974, with Ambalavaner Sivanandan, taking over the longer existing British academic journal ‘Race’ and changing its publishing policy. Sivanandan was a Marxist, but not of the communist party type… he had his own way of using Marxism as a tool for his idea of emancipation. Though, now and at the time I was often wary of the form of their kind of marxism, as it often failed – historically – to see the shortcomings of state socialsm as practised in may countries at that time, the fundamental position on ‘class and race’ they had, I did and do agree with:

“For the black man, however, the consciousness of class is instinctive to his consciousness of colour. Even as he begins to throw away the shackles of his particular slavery, he sees that there are others besides him who are enslaved too. He sees that racism is only one dimension of oppression in a whole system of exploitation and racial discrimination, the particular tool of a whole exploitative creed. He sees also that the culture of competition, individualism and elitism that fostered his intellect and gave it a habitation and a name is an accessory to the exploitation of the masses as a whole, and not merely of the blacks. He understands with Gramsci and George Jackson that ‘all men are intellectuals’ or with Angela Davis that no one is. (If the term means anything it is only as a description of the work one does: the intellect is no more superior to the body than the soul to the intellect.) He realises with Fanon that ‘the Negro problem does not resolve into the problem of Negroes living among white men, but rather of Negroes exploited, enslaved, despised by a colonialist, capitalist society that is only accidentally white’. He acknowledges at last that inside every black man there is a working-class man waiting to get out.”
[Sivanandan, Ambalavaner. 2008. Catching history on the wing race, culture and globalisation. London: Pluto Press. ; p.17; original article published in the year 1974; ]

The same idea expressed in poetry, republished in one of the standard works of Franz Fanon, ‘Black skin, white mask’:

“I want to be of your race alone
workers peasants of all lands . . .
. . . white worker in Detroit black peon in Alabama
uncountable nation in capitalist slavery”

Hereby these lines in their full context:

“Africa I have kept your memory Africa
you are inside me
Like the splinter in the wound
like a guardian fetish in the center of the village
make me the stone in your sling
make my mouth the lips of your wound
make my knees the broken pillars of your abasement
I want to be of your race alone
workers peasants of all lands . . .
. . . white worker in Detroit black peon in Alabama
uncountable nation in capitalist slavery
destiny ranges us shoulder to shoulder
repudiating the ancient maledictions of blood taboos
we roll away the ruins of our solitudes
If the fl ood is a frontier
we will strip the gully of its endless
covering fl ow
If the Sierra is a frontier
we will smash the jaws of the volcanoes
upholding the Cordilleras
and the plain will be the parade ground of the dawn
where we regroup our forces sundered
by the deceits of our masters
As the contradiction among the features
creates the harmony of the face
we proclaim the oneness of the suffering
and the revolt
of all the peoples on all the face of the earth
and we mix the mortar of the age of brotherhood
out of the dust of idols.

( cited by Fanon from Jacques Roumain, “Bois-d’Ebène,” Prelude, in Anthologie de la nouvelle poésienègre et malgache, p. 113)”
[Fanon, Frantz. 1967. Black skin, white masks; p.103]

(2) “Bangladesh and the Ethics of Sweatshops”; July 14, 2013 by Rashad Seedeen

(3) “Chocolate Nations: Living and Dying for Cocoa in West Africa
The price of a lunchtime Twix can have a devastating effect on farmers in west Africa.” By Jeremy Harding

Read Full Post »

Grotesque and hypocrite the new Libyan Government statement on the persecution of the alleged killers of Gaddafi. Stating that these could not have been regular opposition groups and that the new government knows the rules of war… and taking prisoners.

“With regards to Qaddafi, we do not wait for anybody to tell us,” NTC vice chairman Abdel Hafiz Ghoga.

 “We had already launched an investigation. We have issued a code of ethics in handling of prisoners of war. I am sure that was an individual act and not an act of revolutionaries or the national army,” the top interim official said.

 “Whoever is responsible for that (Qaddafi’s killing) will be judged and given a fair trial.”

What a lie, as both NATO and the insurgents – that became the army of the new Libyan government – have thrown tons of munition on any spot they thought Gaddafi would be at a certain moment. A fair trial of Gaddafi has never been on the agenda of neither NATO nor the insurgents, who became the new government. Only the International Criminal Court in The Hague lent itself to suggest that such a trial was a viable option, never protesting in public against the repeated attempted killing of their indicted trial candidates, Gaddafi and his close circle.

Photograph published in The Independent 2011/07/24 with this caption: "Nato planes bomb a Gaddafi compound in Tripoli last month. Air strikes by allied forces have become increasingly ineffective"

NATO and insurgents were out to kill all those months, but failed in spite of all the high tech devices put to the task. Now a few hot heads – which are necessarily part of any insurrectionist forces – finished Gaddafi’s life by hand, and they will be made into culprits, to wash the virtual bloody hands of NATO and the new  government.

Photograph published on the web site of the Daily Mail 2011/10/21 with the following caption: "Celebration: Rebel fighters carry a young man holding what they claim to be the gold-plated gun of Colonel Gaddafi which was taken from him."

It is sad that such distortions of reality  are published in the international press without any direct rebuttal.

Gaddafi should have been put on trial. His murder will hamper any attempt to cleanse Libya of decades of dictatorship.

It is most disturbing to notice that – apparently – distant killing by regular armies using state of the art guided missiles airplanes with remote sensing, and the like, is not conceived as murder and somehow a civil way of getting rid of an adversary, whereas traditional lynching on the spot or firing a gun at a victim at close range is perceived as a barbaric act that can be classified as a crime of war or murder.

Two additional sources that give details on other summary executions of pro-Gaddafi forces  in the same town of Sirte, less in the picture than the person of Gaddafi:
– Media Lens: “Killing Gaddafi” 2011/10/27
– Human Right Watch report on Libya: “Apparent Execution of 53 Gaddafi Supporters” 2011/10/24

Read Full Post »

A picture today in Aljazeera of the Green Square (1) in Tripoli struck me, it had a caption “People gather near a portrait of Gaddafi in Tripoli’s Green Square on Friday, before the explosions [Reuters]”. This news picture showed a huge street painting or print of Gaddafi and what seems to be a dwindling crowd around it. There is a fence around the picture that must be something like 50 by 250 meter in size. On the inside of the fence once sees guards posted at regular intervals. The picture shows Gaddafi in one of his hundreds of outfits, possibly the uniform of an air marshall  he wore when visiting the Italian president Berlusconi in June 2009. On the right side of his uniform jacket Gaddafi wears a gallery of medals and on the left the a photograph has been pinned on his uniform. The photograph shows the martyr of Libyan resistance Omar Mukhtar, the “Lion of the Desert”, on the day before he was hanged by his Italian colonial masters in 1931. A provocative statement for his host Berlusconi, who hugged  him nevertheless as he was about to make some big business deals with the Libyan leader.

The people around the fence at the Green Square in Tripoli in July 2011 look at the picture of this moment of theatrical revenge on the former colonial power, a picture that shows the leader completely, from his golden adorned cap to this shoes, with a saintly light blue glowing aura all around him. If one would not trust the strict editorial rules of Aljazeera and Reuter’s photo agency,  it could have been a photoshopped picture.

This made me think of the frontispiece of the book by Thomas HobbesLeviathan” published in the mid 17th century during the English Civil War, which describes the necessity of a sovereign authority to be accepted by all, to avoid ‘the state of nature’, everybody for themselves, a ‘war of all against all’ (Bellum omnium contra omnes).

For the sake of peace, the people, so did Hobbes argue,  had to make a social contract with an absolute ruler, best in the form of a king. The ruler in 1651 is depicted as an embodiment of ‘the people’. There is a crowd that marches from a landscape into the body of the ruler. The ruler has a sword in one and a crosier s used by priests in the other hand, showing he is in command both of state and church.

The display of the picture of the ruler as if he was a landscape, one could walk in, at the Green Square in Tripoli, has a similar function: Gaddafi as embodiment of the Libyan nation. Only, the aerial photograph unveils that it is but a meagre crowd assembled around their leader. It expresses how the maximum leader has inflated himself disproportionally to the feelings of embodiment by ‘his people’. In mathematical terms one can even speak of an ‘inverse proportionality‘, the more his popularity shrinks, the bigger his pictures.

The 17th century theory of state of Hobbes can still be used today, to understand the prolonged rule of dictators. There is some form of common interest, expressed in a social contract, by the ruler and his subjects. (2) How such a two dimensional state of affairs – ruler and ruled – may become a more diverse structure where more people can participate in the affairs of state, is apparently not well understood. The attempts of outsiders – like the Western coalition forces under NATO command – to kill the ruler have failed until now. Aerial bombing, even under the title of a UN mandate to protect civilians from attacks by their own ruler, are counterproductive. To deliver the idea of democracy to a nation does not work, or at least it takes many generations to wear off the effect of long distance destruction perpetuated by outside forces in one’s own country. (3) Interventionist regime change – as we witness for a few months now – does do little to empower the common people. Meanwhile, the ranks of the opposition forces are more and more filled with former supporters of the Gaddafi regime that try not only to evade the eminent purges after Gaddafi’s downfall, but also are preparing to continue the old rule, hidden under new revolutionary slogans.

The inflated picture on the pavement of the square of revolution in Tripoli of  the dictatorial ruler Gaddafi, serves more than one purpose. It glorifies him and at the same time it shows him as an ancient non-heriditary king who knows his days are counted when he hears the song in the streets: “the king must die“. (4) The ruler as scapegoat to cleanse the history of a nation. The ‘effigy of Gaddafi’  may serve an extra purpose, as a painting to be trampled on by thousands of feet in a direct release of anger , thus avoiding or diminishing the acts of revenge that accompany any change of regime.

(1)  Green Square named so after the Green Revolution coup d’état of Gaddafi in 1969 (Arabic: الساحة الخضراء‎ As Sāḥah āl Ḥaḍrā), also known as Martyrs’ Square (Arabic: Maidan Al Shohdaa‎); a downtown landmark at the bay in the city of Tripoli. Mainly constructed during Italian colonial times. Named Square of Independence during the short lived Libyan monarchy (1951-1969). On February 20th an anti-Gaddafi demonstration took place here, which was harshly suppressed. One source, a mortuary orderly from Tripoli who fled to Tunesia, later told the BBC that he saw hundreds of dead and wounded be brought into the hospital where he worked: “Many young people went to protest in Green Square that day, and I believe almost no-one came back alive that night.”

(2)  This phenomenon is explained in another way one century earlier (1548) – and with more foresight – by Etienne de la Boétie in his “Discours de la servitude volontaire” (The Politics of Obedience: The Discourse of Voluntary Servitude). Boétie notes  that “…the best and most virtuous man would not remain so if he ruled alone…” See also the study of David Lewis Schaefer “Freedom over servitude: Montaigne, La Boétie, and On voluntary servitude”, page 40, partly available at GoogleBooks.

(3) Incendiary carpet bombing of Germany, Japan, Korea, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam, imprecise precision bombing of Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan…

(4) See the famous chapter of Frazer in his book the ‘Golden Bough’: “Kings killed at the end of a fixed term.”

Read Full Post »

‎”Kennis Nederlandse trainers over Kunduz lijkt beperkt” (knowledge of the Dutch trainers about Kunduz seems limited) is the headline of De Volkskrant daily this morning and I imagine how an ignorant Royal Dutch Marechaussee (military police) officer instructs the local Afghan police force: “Look that is how we do it in Holland!”

At the same time I imagine the improbable reversed situation of an Afghan military or police functionary training Dutch police officers at the Dutch Police Academy in Apeldoorn: “Do you understand?  That’s how we do it in Afghanistan!”

Should it be rather the Dutch politicians who need such a training before deciding to send a police training mission to Afghanistan? An impossible proposition almost for sure, because who would determine who would be the Afghan trainers for such a mission in the Netherlands, which fraction of Afghan society would such an instructor represent? Now we are ready to reverse this question and think about who has been selected in the Netherlands to train Afghan policemen. Or, can policing be made in something blank and objective non dependant on local standards and social complexities? I doubt it.

Photograph from: ourmediaindymedia.blogspot.com

Surprisingly the military  mission which is presented to the Dutch public by the government as only a civil-police training mission, has been supported by two opposition parties, D66 (Democrats 1966, a mid course party ) and Groen Links (Green Left, a mishmash of christian, ecologists and former party communists). Dutch peace activists protested in February this year by protecting with their own invented ‘Kurduz Police Force’ the Green Left Congress from Taliban intruders.

A photo documentation can be found here and there is also some apparently uncut video documentation at YouTube. A more formal description of the Dutch police mission to Kurduz in Afghanistan is at the Wereldomroep web site, the world wide broadcasting service of the Netherlands that because of its critical tone is now on the government lists of non-supportive media whose budget will be scrapped.

Read Full Post »

Nasser speaking in Alexandria in 1956... click picture to see movie

A post by my Hungarian friend Attila Ara-Kovacs on Facebook pointing to an article in The Guardian about the youth of Alexandria protecting the new Alexandria Library against looters (“lawless bands of thugs” according to the librarian), did trigger a whole range of associations:

Alexandria, Egypt, Friday, Feb. 4, 2011.

Alexandria the city of popular upheavals for millennia against Roman pagan rule, against Roman christian rule, against French and British imperialists from the landing of Napoleons troops at the beginning of the 19th century to the French and British naval bombardment in 1882 and the Suez War of 1956… at the same time of the rising in Hungary and the Russian invasion. The Egyptians under Nasser where supposedly allies of The Soviet Union in those Cold War days… though Nasser kept local party communist activists neatly in prison.

An ancient obelisks from Alexandria, dating back three millennia, symbol of the all powerful rule of Egyptian pharaohs and – in disrespect of any idea of cultural heritage was given away in 1819 by Muhammad Ali Pasha to thank the Brits – enemies of his enemies for their interference against French Napoleonic occupation. Ali Pasha was a Turk general of Albanian origin of the Ottoman empire who had just declared himself ‘Khedive’ (vice-king) of Egypt and Sudan. The obelisk was taken and shipped  much later from Alexandria and almost lost on its way and can till this day be seen in London at the embankment of the river Thames. Later the Americans also did get their Egyptian obelisk as a gift by the next Egyptian ruler, Isma’il Pasha, in 1877 – the year of the opening of the Suez Canal – who wanted to play the Americans against the now en encroaching powers of France and Britain. This obelisk also came from Alexandria and now stands  in Central Park New York. The French did also get their obelisk from Muhammad Ali Pasha in 1826, this one  was taken from a temple in Luxor, it now stands at Place de la Concorde in Paris.  In a long range view of history, such symbolic gestures of royal gifts to stem imperial strive make sense. Was the founder of the Bibliotheca Alexandrina not one of the generals of another much earlier imperialist, Alexander The Great?

Ptolemaeus (367-283 BC), a Macedonian general, who used the icon of Alexander as a ‘trade mark’ on the coins of his new found Greek kingdom on the soil of Egypt… exploited the split up spoils of Alexanders wars of aggression against other empires, founding yet another one. He named himself pharaoh  and  was also the founder of the most idealised icon  of all libraries the ‘Museon’ with in it a collection of  mainly book-scrolls, later known as  ‘The Bibliotheca Alexandrina’. The new dynasty was expanding over neighbouring countries and held out three centuries to end up as a Roman dependency.

Alexandria has been a most important hub in Mediterranean trade, not only of goods but also a centre where different believe systems both came together and were fighting each other.  Pagans versus Christians and different schools of Christians between each other , while over time Islam took over almost completely and Jewish influence was constant, but marginal.  The history of rulers and upheavals in the town of Alexandria is sheer endless. These associations made me find today a fascinating book on the history of this town by  Christopher Haas “Alexandria in late antiquity: topography and social conflict”,  with several opening chapters freely available on the internet by GoogleBooks.

“The true criminals are the blood suckers… that sucked us dry”, Colonel Nasser is shouting from a balcony in Alexandria just over half a century ago… and I remember the war and the inflamed news of the Cold War  on the radio, from when I was just a boy of 12 years old. The bloodsuckers where the French entrepreneurs that started the construction of the Suez canal and the Brits that were first opposing  this new shipping route – because they had insufficient control of it – but later took over control and endorsed it. Main part of the work was based on Egyptian slave labour (“Egyptian blood ran in the canal before the water of the seas”). Nasser and his rebellious group of young army officers confiscated the Suez Canal in 1956 and send a wave of popular enthusiasm not only through the whole of Egypt, but throughout all of the Arab world. That attempts at canal building and the inclusive slave labour to realize it goes back till the time of the Egyptian pharaohs was left out of the revolutionary rhetorics of that time.

Click picture to see the news reel as a part of a documentary on YouTube

Has Egypt now been colonised by its own ruling class? Or is it only a neo-colonialist conspiracy with Mubarak as a puppet? The last option seems to be the most unreal one… So who are the true criminals now?

It seems that in the end each nation that has freed itself from the shackles of colonialism and even neo-colonialism, has enough exploitive creativity within its own ranks to keep on or recreate whatever forms of group exploitation. What we see is the demise of romantic ‘Third Worldism’, packaged in marxist, leninist, maoist or any other anti-imperialist discourse. The ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’ may on the level of Gross National products economically by separate areas of the world, but within each territory this two-fold separation is reproduced once again. Each name of a leader we may know or learn during upheavals like the one in Egypt, is like a bastions behind which whole social layers of society who are profiteers and practitioners, hide themselves. The personal power of the Egyptian presidency from Nasser To Sadat en Mubarak may be comparatively speaking huge, a ruler and his or her rule is always carried by several layers of society, kept in a bond of reciprocal dependency.

Is being wealthy always a crime and poorness a virtue? Or can there be some form of creative connection between the classes to level out their differences, because too much wealth can not be consumed alone and needs to be shared. Is that maybe what democracy in Egypt and elsewhere should be about?

Read Full Post »

Een van staatswege gecanoniseerde eenduidige geschiedsrepresentatie is een 19e eeuws idee. Het voorstel voor een nieuw Nederlands Historisch Museum in Arnhem is daarmee een 19e eeuws plan voor de 21e eeuw. Als er iets mis is met het historisch besef in Nederland dan hebben al die honderden al decennialang bestaande musea zich onvoldoende van hun taak gekweten en dienen we eerst uit te zoeken waaraan dat ligt. Een van de belangrijkste knelpunten is volgens mij het ‘huichelhollander’ complex: zich humaanvoelend en vooruitstrevend wanend in weerwil van enkel met de grootste moeite omzeilbare historische gegevens die weinig voedsel kunnen geven aan zoiets als ‘nationale trots’ en daarom verhult worden. De nu bestaande musea dienen eindelijk eens te beginnen om ook de keerzijde van het Hollands heldendom te tonen: de slavenhandel permanent in het Scheepvaart Museum, een aparte zaal over de Oost-Indische slachting en kunstroof op het eiland Lombok in het Rijksmuseum, de ontmaskering van de Batavierenmythe in het Allard Pierson, de gewelddadige aspecten van zowel Christendom als Islam in het Bijbels Museum, waarom Nederland de meeste Joden verloor in het Joods Historisch Museum en het Paleis Soestdijk met 2x de geschiedenis van de Oranjes: in monarchistisch en republikeins perspectief. – Ad Libitum. Kortom, geschiedenis als meervoudige waarheid. Geschiedenis die doet twijfelen. Geschiedenis als aanzet tot zelfstandig denken en handelen. Er zullen heel wat mensen zijn die dat weer ‘een tautologische stelling’ zullen vinden, geschiedenis kan immers enkel meervoudig zijn, maar… probeer dat de initiatiefnemers voor het aankweken van een ‘nieuw nationaal besef’ in de Lage Landen maar eens uit te leggen.

Aankomst der Batavieren in Nederland

klik plaat voor grotere versie

Read Full Post »

Uruzgan was de “Vijfde Politionele Actie” van Nederland in Azië. ‘Politionele Actie’ een Hollands eufemisme om het werkelijke imperiale streven van de inzet van Nederlandse troepen te verhullen: Pogingen eerst om het koloniale rijk in Den Oost te behouden: de Indonesische eilanden en Nieuw Guinea. “Politionele acties” 1 en 2 van 1947 tot 1949 op Java en Sumatra met inzet van vrijwilligers later ook dienstplichtigen; nummer 3 was de koude anti-comunistische Korea Oorlog 1950-1953 met uitzending van soldatenvrijwilligers; nummer 4 Nieuw Guinea 1959-1961 waarbij dienstplichtigen gedwongen werden deel te nemen in een krampachtige poging dit strategisch gelegen mineraalrijke eilandsdeel voor het Koninkrijk der Nederlanden te behouden. Laatste in dit rijtje is het eveneens grondstofrijke Afghanistan met inzet van beroepssoldaten, de VIJFDE NEDERLANDSE POLITIONELE ACTIE IN AZIë, die in NAVO-jargon ‘Task Force Uruzgan‘ genoemd wordt.

Traditiegetrouw wordt iedere beëindiging van zulk een typische Hollandse ‘politionele actie’ met stille trom gevierd en rest enkel nog de nazorg van de familieleden van de omgekomen Nederlandse militairen en de getraumatiseerde soldaten die het overleefd hebben. Zij kunnen – hier ten lande-  op meer begrip rekenen, dan de even getraumatiseerde achterblijvende Afghanen. Jammer genoeg moeten de laatsten bij hun eventuele reisplannen, om-er-even-uit-te-zijn, rekening houden met deze, op de website van de Partij Voor de Vrijheid te vinden, reisbeperking: “Invoering quotum asielzoekers van maximaal 5.000 per jaar, opvang in eigen regio.”

Deze recente cartoon is - heel verrassend - op de officiële Nederlandse geschiedenis canon web site te vinden die anders weinig uitblinkt in het kritisch weergeven van het Hollands koloniaal verleden. In mijn hoofd zie ik vrijwel dezelfde prent met twee Hollandse dienders tegen een bergachtige achtergrond, één van de mannen op het bankje heeft een Afghaanse muts en de rechtse bromsnor zegt: "... zitten we een beetje de Taliban te spelen soms?." Klik cartoon om het canon-venster te zien....

Het wachten is nu op de lange en vertraagde  nasleep met details en cijfers over het totale aantal doden en andere slachtoffers van deze “vredesmissie” – ongeacht of zij nu het stempel Taliban of niet opgedrukt gekregen hebben. Nu de ingebedde journalisten met ander werk uitgescheept gaan worden, zal met het verloop van de tijd het nog verzwegene alsnog gaan spreken. Weer “een venster in de nationale geschiedenis canon” erbij waarvan het gordijn nog opgeschoven moet worden.

Read Full Post »

Lokjoden, lokhomo’s, als jood of als homo verklede politie-agent-provocateurs die hierdoor aangetrokken joden- en potenrammers in de kraag gaan grijpen. Recente  voorstellen (*) voor Amsterdam met positieve discriminatie als doel, maar in mijn visie zijn het middelen die het doel in de verkeerde richting voorbijstreven. Ook zwaardere straffen voor geweld tegen homo’s behoren mijns inziens tot de categorie van middelen die niet in overeenstemming zijn met het uiteindelijke doel: gelijkwaardigheid van alle mensen. Dat gaat ook op als er gestraft moet worden.

Marcouch wil dat de politie daadkrachtig optreedt tegen daders van antisemitisch geweld. "Ik vind dat je alles moet doen om die etters, die kwelgeesten, die criminelen te pakken." De PvdA'er reageert hiermee op berichten dat joden in sommige Amsterdamse stadsdelen zich niet meer veilig voelen op straat met een keppeltje op. Klik beeld voor link naar artikel op de web site van Amsterdamse lokale televisie AT5.

Ooit waren uiterlijke kenmerken van het tot een maatschappelijke groep behoren van overheidswege opgelegd. Het koloniale bewind van de Hollanders hield – bijvoorbeeld – middels strenge kledingvoorschriften controle over miljoenen onderdanen in Oost-Indië. Inlander, Chinees, Indo en raszuivere Hollanders konden zo keurig op geruime afstand onderscheiden worden door hun kleding en daarmee gemakkelijker in het gelid gehouden worden. Apartheid is niet voor niets een Hollands woord en ergens dringt dit  uiterlijk en ruimtelijk gescheiden houden van religies, rassen, klassen  en standen, voortdurend in de ‘vaderlandsche’ geschiedenis door: van half verborgen schuilkerken voor niet staats-protestante christenen, tot stegen en sloppen voor de armen net even apart van de grachtenhuizen voor de rijken, van bewaakte asociale dorpen in Amsterdam-Noord tot burgerwijken in oud-Zuid. Segregatie ook in het huidige Amsterdam van Buitenveldert tot Bijlmer, van Grachtegordel tot De Baarsjes.

De relatieve onzichtbaarheid – op straat – van het tot een gemeenschap behoren, in de moderne verstedelijkte samenleving wens ik als een emancipatie te zien. De tegenbeweging met haarbedekking voor vrouwen en geloofsduidende hoedjes en petjes voor mannen lijkt gelijke tred te houden met ander uniformgedrag van neo-punkers tot oranjefans. Als de lokale politie hier zich nu opzichtig als homoachtige homo of  joodachtige jood gaat verkleden om, met deze stereotypen een stereotype reactie uit te lokken, bij een doelgroep die door de vele bestraffend wijzende Hollandse vingers in hun ghetto gehouden worden (de Marokkaanse jongeren), dan vind ik dat een handelen dat van een onbeschrijfelijk gebrek aan inzicht getuigt. Uitlokking genereert en bevestigt geweld. Dat dit soort onbezonnen voorstellen ook nog eens een functie van populariteit bevorderende maatregelen voor bepaalde politici hebben maakt het nog eens te meer kwalijk.

Verbetering van hoe wij met elkaar omgaan is niet met dit soort ‘stereotype hypes’ gediend. We kennen de overgeleverde slogans: ‘ze moeten wel met hun poten van onze rot-joden afblijven’ en een enigszins positief bedoeld ‘onze rot-marokkanen’ bestaat ook al enige jaren (uitspraak toebedeeld aan Pim Fortuyn, die er – anders dan Wilders – bij zei dat het daarom ook “ons probleem” was); zo dient een ieder ook met zijn poten van onze ‘rot-poten’ af te blijven. Maar zulke op een gespleten karakter wijzende half-goedbedoelde-leuzen waren en zijn onvoldoende.

Het zijn ‘onze rot-Hollanders’ die maar niet in het reine wensen te komen met hun eigen ‘rot-geschiedenis’ die deel van het probleem zijn, maar het niet van zichzelf willen weten. Als nu eens in plaats van de oranje gekleurde ‘fata morgana’s’ van nationalistische geschiedenis interpretaties en het “Nederland kan het weer! Die VOC mentaliteit…” (Balkenende, 2006), een omslag in het begrijpen van het verleden van dit land zou plaats vinden, dan was daarmee tevens een basis gelegd voor een andere opvoeding en scholing van ‘onze jeugd’, ongeacht hun af- en herkomst. Als de ‘huichelhollander’ het onaangenaam verleden gemaakt door vorige generaties – waarvoor hij/zij zelf niet verantwoordelijk gehouden kan worden – gewoon onder ogen zou zien en dit onverbloemd voor zichzelf en aan de jeugd duidelijk zou weten te maken, dan komt er ruimte voor een mentaliteitsomslag. Leren, uitleggen, begrijpen, hoe joden en homo’s hier in de loop van de geschiedenis in de de verdrukking zijn gekomen, tot aan de onaangename details van registratie, concentratie en deportatie van de meeste Nederlandse joden met medewerking van Nederlandse autoriteiten en joodse notabelen die dachten het onheil te kunnen keren, tijdens de Duitse bezetting. Onder ogen zien hoe de eerste generatie na-oorlogse gastarbeiders hier binnengehaald werden op vrijwel gelijk wijze als de Chinese, Javaanse en Hindoestaanse ‘koelies’ in de nadagen van het Nederlands koloniaal stelsel naar Suriname werden gehaald. Arbeiders die hier decennialang bijgedragen hebben aan de groeiende welvaart en waarvan werkgevers en autoriteiten dachten dat ze even onopvallend als ze binnengehaald werden wel weer zouden verdwijnen. Ik zie nog voor mijn ogen de spandoeken van gastarbeiders-demonstraties op het einde van de zeventiger jaren toen de conjunctuur langzamerhand terug begon te lopen met leuzen als “Wij willen werken”, iets wat Geert Wilders (1963-) geweten had kunnen hebben als hij als tiener zijn ogen had opengehouden.

"Hoe het begon, de vele gezichten van Marokkaans Nederland", een reeks documentaires van de NOS waarin een onthullende oude Polygoon reportage uit 1969 over het ronselen van arbeiders op contract door de Nederlandse regering in Marokko is te zien... de hele serie zou vast onderdeel dienen te zijn van de geschiedenisles op Nederlandse middelbare scholen. Klik plaat om naar de on-line versie van deze videos te gaan.

Als ook de vensters van de ‘national geschiedenis canon‘ vermeerderd worden en de versluierende vitrages weggetrokken worden, opdat massamoord, slavenhandel en tal van vormen van koloniale exploitatie en lokale uitbuiting in zijn volle omvang begrepen kunnen worden, dan is dat de voedingsbodem waarop het zaad van een minder gewelddadige samenleving gezaaid kan worden, waarmee jonge generaties Marokkanen en wie er nog meer behoefte aan hebben tot andere gedachten gebracht kunnen worden. Daarmee en daardoor wordt een leraar – van lagere school tot MBO – in staat gesteld om de Holocaust in een begrijpelijk geheel van gebeurtenissen te plaatsen; dan kan ook de complexe geschiedenis van de Maghreb, de Arabische veroveringstochten, het Ottomaanse rijk, het Franse en Spaanse kolonialisme, de regionale tegenstellingen en het ontstaan van het conflict in het huidige Midden Oosten, begrijpbaar en bespreekbaar gemaakt worden. Ook hier is veel onverkwikkelijks te melden niet enkel ov er de vestiging van de staat Israel en onteigening en ontheemding van de Palestijnen, maar eveneens de tumulteuse Noord-Afrikaanse geschiedenis. Ook daar ligt er een verhullende sluier over het verleden.

Wie de tentoonstellingsagenda van de laatste vier decennia van het Amsterdamse Joods Historisch museum en het Amsterdams Historisch Museum (AHM) kent, weet dat deze door de gemeente gesteunde culturele en educatieve instellingen niet of nauwelijks bij machte geweest zijn om  bovengeschetste onderwerpen tot het centrum van een kritisch debat te maken (buiten de uitzondering die gemaakt kan worden voor het onderwerp van homoseksualiteit in het AHM). Met name het Joods Historisch Museum is de grote afwezige als het gaat om deelname aan een bestaand maatschappelijk debat bij de keuze van haar tentoonstellingen. Waarom niet het anti-joodse sentiment  bij (een deel van) de Marokkaanse jeugd tot een museum-presentatie of project gemaakt?  Waarom is de tragedie van Amsterdam, de constructie van het joodse ghetto, de bureaucratie van de Joodse Raad en het falen van het verzet ertegen niet ter lering en als waarschuwing, in een permanente opstelling in meerdere talen, te zien in dit museum, een verhaal dat dieper graaft en verder durft te gaan dan dat wat nu in het toeristisch lokkertje van het Anne Frankhuis aan verhullen verhaal te zien is?

Een tastbaar monument voor eigen historisch onvermogen zou deze stad sieren. Dat is pas dapper. Daarmee en daardoor valt uit het verleden te leren. Niet het sprookje over ‘Amsterdam die tolerante stad’ die nooit bestaan heeft. Zulk een zelfkritische presentatie zal iedereen zo ver uit de eigen tent weten te lokken dat we elkaar weer recht in de ogen kunnen kijken en op voet van gelijkheid met elkaar over heden en verleden kunnen spreken. Dat is geen politie en justitie taak, dat is een culturele taak, het wordt tijd voor  voor LOKHOLLANDERS TEGEN GEWELD met acties  ter verlokking van de Marokkaanse en alle andere jeugd.

Een reeks iconen met stereotypen, waarvan ik de precieze bron nog niet heb kunnen vinden, maar waarbij het vrijwel zeker gaat om 'teenagers stereotypen'. Het zou goed zijn als een jong talent eens in dergelijke reeks van stereo-typen voor Nederland/Amsterdam zou maken. Vereenvoudigde, schematische beelden zoals die nu bij teenagers bestaan. De benoeming van Marokkaanse jongeren en dan met name Marokkaanse jongens als 'straat-terroristen' (Wilders, 2009/210) is op zich net zo'n stereotype.

(*) Recente voorstellen lokhomo’s en lokjoden  info & links:


– Omdat dit artikel in de Elsevier van 19 juni2010 enkel gedeeltelijk on-line staat, citeer ik hier in extenso de formulering van René van Rijckevorsel (plaatsvervangend hoofdredacteur van Elsevier) “Is geweld tegen joden en homo’s soms normaal?.”  Voor mij getuigt de hieronder gevoerde redeneertrant van een te nauwe focus op een deelprobleem, waarbij dan weer een deeloplossing aangedragen wordt, die meer problemen zal veroorzaken dan oplossen. Dit terwijl de onderliggende fundamentele vraag onbeantwoord blijft, wat dan wel de Nederlandse samenleving is, waaraan als buitenstaanders voelende en behandelde groepen, aangepast dienen te worden. Mij bekruipt een huiver ook door het geciteerde taalgebruik van de heer Marcouch: “Deze jongens hebben een speciale behandeling nodig. Ze moeten geknipt en geschoren worden, voordat ze weer op straat staan.”

"Moffenhoer" behandeling van een vrouw met een Duits liefje op 8 mei 1945 in Amsterdam: kaalgeknipt en geschoren en met pek ingesmeerd en gedwongen voor de foto de Hitlergroet te brengen. Een voorbeeld van hoe snel bij een machts- en rolomdraaiing de strafhandeling verwordt tot een spiegelbeeld van wat verafschuwd werd..

“Geknipt en geschoren”, voor mij zijn dat een hele reeks beelden: ‘bijltjesdag’ waarbij een niet geheel koshere menigte de liefjes van Duitse soldaten op straat kaalscheren; militair geleide heropvoedingsgestichten voor straatbengels zoals beschreven in de jeugdromans van  ‘Pietje Bel’ tot ‘Willem Roorda’; dorpsgerichten op het Italiaanse platteland in de zestiger jaren waar hippies (cappelloni) de haren afgeknipt  werden… Zulke beelden vliegen zo snel door je hoofd en laten zich zo traag opschrijven en lezen, dat ik nu verder René van Rijckevorsel aan het woord laat:

Terwijl Geert Wilders door heel politiek correct Nederland wordt gekapitteld voor zijn generieke opvattingen en ongenuanceerde uitlatingen over moslims, is er relatief weinig publieke verontwaardiging over de wijze waarop jonge Marokkaanse Nederlanders in de publieke ruimte redelijk ongestoord hun antisemitisme kunnen botvieren.

Maar wat Marokkaanse Nederlanders denken en zeggen over joden, gaat nog een tandje verder dan wat Wilders beweert over moslims. Overigens heeft die nooit gezegd dat álle moslims Nederland uit moeten, zoals tegenstanders zijn woorden uitleggen, hij had het over criminele moslims en ‘straatterroristen’ met dubbele nationaliteit.

Niet alleen joodse Nederlanders hebben het steeds zwaarder te verduren. Het is met de dag onveiliger om ostentatief als homo over straat te gaan in wat ooit de ‘gay capital of the world’ was. Of om als homostel in vinexwijk de Leidsche Rijn in Utrecht te wonen. Twee mannen zijn er uit hun koophuis getreiterd door Marokkaanse jeugd. Er is nog niemand gearresteerd, omdat er niet genoeg bewijs is, aldus burgemeester Aleid Wolfsen (PvdA).

De onrust over het toenemende anti-homogeweld leidde afgelopen zondag tot een spontaan protest bij het homomonument in de schaduw van de Amsterdamse Westertoren. In aanwezigheid van het nieuwe PvdA-Kamerlid Ahmed Marcouch kwamen honderden demonstranten bijeen.

Marcouch wond er geen doekjes om: ‘Deze jongens hebben een speciale behandeling nodig. Ze moeten geknipt en geschoren worden, voordat ze weer op straat staan.’ Hij wees erop dat er geen hek om Nederland staat, daarbij degenen aansprekend die de vrijheid en tolerantie blijkbaar niet kunnen verdragen. Later in de week bepleitte hij zelfs het inzetten van ‘lokjoden’.”

bron = http://www.elsevier.nl/web/Opinie/Commentaren/268375/Is-geweld-tegen-joden-en-homos-soms-normaal.htm#

Read Full Post »

Two days ago I went to a combined theatre performance and action meeting in the Brakke Grond in Amsterdam in support of the the Libyan migrant Ahmed Al-J. (also referred to as Ahmed Issa) who has been at the center of years of court cases and juridical and technical researches about a fatal fire on October 27, 2005 in a detention center at Schiphol airport for migrants, waiting for the result of their appeal against planned extradition.  Ahmed had at first been labeled by the court as the main culprit, because of a burning cigaret in his cell that set the whole section of the center aflame an left 11 people dead. Recently he has been acquited of this charge, as a whole series of management and construction mistakes have come to light, as result of a  series of inquiries and counter-inquiries. I will not further detail this case too much here as the facts are widely known by now. The incessant support for the traumatized migrants by several action groups (of which at least two should be mentioned here Migrant To Migrant/M2M and All Included), lawyers and some politicians, have had some concrete results, but the essential question of who is to be held responsible for the fact that a single cigarette in a prison-like new facility can lead to so many victims, has still not been answered in a satisfactory way. Singling out the Libyan migrant and his cigaret has allowed to keep out of focus the planners, management and local authorities who have to control the safety of this detention facility (located at Schiphol Oost, originally build to house drug smugglers captured at the airport). Many see this as a form of scapegoating.

Detail of painting (1854) "The Scapegoat" by William Holman Hunt (1827-1910)

Detail of painting (1854) "The Scapegoat" by William Holman Hunt (1827-1910) Exiled animal that bears the sins of the Jewish people (according to the Old Testament) a white goat with woolen threads between his horn like a trickle of blood, symbolizing purity, prefiguring the Messiah wearing the crown of thorns. For the whole painting and a more detailed description at the Hungarian Web Gallery of Art, click the picture...

Ahmed Al-J. who has now officially been exempted from responsibility for the death of 11 people, has found no clemency for his ordeal of the last four years (of which he spent two in prison). He has been ordained to be sent back to Libya. This in spite of the fact that he and his lawyer have appealed against this decision by the ministry for migration affairs. If he is still in the Netherlands at the moment of me writing? This I do not know.

Another depiction of a purifying ritual by driving out a scapegoat that carries the problems and sins of a community, with the goat like demon Azazel in the middle and a recent poster of the Free Ahmed Isa campaign, which reads: Schiphol keeps on burning (blows the fuses). "Thus the goat will bear al my  faults.." Ahmed Isa  scapegoat. Campaign Free Ahmed Issa.

Another depiction of a purifying ritual by driving out a scapegoat that carries the problems and sins of a community, with the goat like demon Azazel in the middle. Antique Greece knew a similar ritual whereby pre-selected persons (a slave cripple or criminal), called 'pharmakos' (Greek: φαρμακος) would be expelled from the community at the occurence of a disaster or at pre-configured days of purification. The word 'pharmakos' later became a term for a healing potion or drugs, hence 'pharmakeus' and nowadays 'pharmacy'. At the right end a recent poster of the Free Ahmed Isa campaign, which reads: Schiphol keeps on burning (blows the fuses). "Thus the goat will bear al my faults.." Ahmed Isa scapegoat. Campaign Free Ahmed Issa.

Back to the theatre evening where three short performances were given, each of them by one actor in a monologue form. One by an Iranian migrant with a  dance like performance about three generations of men being called into wars, especially referring to the mass slaughters of the Iran-Iraq War. Another,  an attempt to give some insight in the inner soul of the protestant christian former Minister of Justice Donner who had abdicated because of his formal responsibility for the burned down detention center and is put on stage trying the Catholic system of confession to find redemption. The last actor was a descendent of a maroon  tribe of run-away black slaves in the former Dutch colony of Surinam, who did a sort of ‘winti-pré’ (Surinam form of voodoo) about the officialdom hypocrisy embedded in the idea of “Dutch free citizenship.”

After these performances there was a modest attempt at discussion and a question what could or should be done. This brought into my mind a series of recurring odd associations during the last months and weeks, with Libya as a binding factor.

Here we had an absolute non glamorous, low profile most probably economic motivated migrant from Libya who had had lots of bad luck and had been forced into unwanted infamy and fame (Ahmed always have tried to keep his face hidden when entering court, and has tried hard to keep any picture of  his face out of the newspapers). While elsewhere another Libyan – also both infamous and famous – Gaddafi (*) has been stealing again the international news shows. After having been re-introduced on the international stage, late 2007, by French President Sarkozy his star has been rising again. Sarkozy maneuvered the French state oil and energy company ELF/Total in a successful barter with Gaddafi exchanging wrongly accused Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian medic for new Libyan energy supplies and other favoring economic contracts.

It took another year before another President, Silvio Berlusconi, could not resist the historic opportunities and the money and energy reserves of Colonel Gaddafi and invited him for yet another reconciliation visit. The ‘acte the presence’ of the Libyan leader was once more overwhelming, but what stroke me the most was his show with a historical photograph pinned on his uniform, next to the battery of color-codified military medals, rubbing Italy’s colonial history straight in the face of its actual president at the very moment of his arrival. Then, shortly after, Gaddafi popped up as a guest at the G8 meeting and had a tête-à-tête with British prime minister Gordon Brown. Again a barter was made, this time a rightly accused and convicted countryman of Gaddafi, Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi, the Libyan convicted of the Lockerbie bombing, who in exchange for a Libyan energy deal, was abducted from the independent nation of Scotland – where he did his twenty years prison sentence – to be flown back to a glorious reception in Tripoli as a lost national hero.

Welcome party at Tripoli airport of

Welcome party at Tripoli airport of Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi, one of the Lockerbie terrorists convicted to twenty years of imprisonment, relieved from prison for humanitarian reasons as he has a terminal stage of cancer on August 22, 2009. Gaddafi commented to the international press on the British prime minister and the Scottish parliament, calling the freeing "a courageous humanitarian gesture."

All these events and the images of them displayed in the media got connected in my mind – against all odds – with the case of the Libyan migrant in the Netherlands, who will await no happy crowds, who may need to fear for his well being once returned to his country. Visions came to me, in that Amsterdam theatre, where the question was posed what could be done for Ahmed Al-J…. I saw Ahmed being picked up by the Libyan leader with all his post-revolutionary pomp, the humiliation of the Dutch authorities, the oily business deals that would certainly be made on the side…. and a need arose to visualize all this, if it would not happen in real, to have it at least performed as a concrete fantasy on my and your screen… and some derivations following the history of the historical photograph pinned at the uniform of Colonel Gaddafi….

It is ex-minister of Justice Jan Hein Donner who has the honor to accompany Colonel Gaddafi

It is ex-minister of Justice Piet Hein Donner (middle left) who has the honor to accompany Colonel Gaddafi (middle right) during the inspection of the guard at Schiphol Airport, commanded by new strategic NATO commander Jeroen van der Veer (left foreground), with in the far left corner Profesor Pieter van Vollenhoven (chairman of the Transport Safety Board and member of the royal family) with his camera ready, to see to it that everything is handled correctly. Van der Veer wears the traditional green beret of the Dutch marines in his new military role at NATO, after having served with Royal Dutch Shell for three decades, last as Chief Executive Officer. Donner, who resigned in 2005 as minister of Justice after the fire in the Schiphol Detention Center that left 11 people dead - but was taken back in grace shortly after for another role of Minister of Social Affairs- wears the governmental decorations of repeated service to the nation, the 'orange earmuffs' (with the inscription: "non audi et alteram partem"). Van der Veen - in expectation of energy arrangements at the side - has instructed a multi-national battalion to unfold the standards of ENI, TOTAL and Shell as a subtle hint for the Colonel that nothing is for free in this world. The center of attention Ahmed Al-J. - the man who has recently be acquited from the charge of being responsible for the the fatallities of the detention center fire - does not attend the ceremony yet . He is waiting in his residence at the Schiphol Oost Detention center for the Colonel and his cortege arrive through the high security gate and to finally deliver him from Dutch state hospitality.

You are invited to study the above high resolution picture in all its details by clicking on it;  a new window will open that allows you to have both an overview and also to study the details by clicking once more, which will show the picture full size;  if possible try to enlarge your browser window to the maximum size; if needed use the sliding bars of your browser to pan through the big size tableau picture.

Gaddafi had pinned a color photograph of the Schiphol fire to his uniform in a demonstration that the wounds of the neglect of the migrant detenees by the Nterlands still run deep.

Gaddafi had pinned a color photograph of the Schiphol fire of the year 2005 to his uniform in a demonstration that for him the wounds of the neglect of migrant detenees by the government of the Netherlands still run deep. Gaddafi later told the journalists that this tragedy was "a cross for the Dutch Nation" without making any allusions to a tragedy that could have been called 'his own cross': the Lockerbie disaster of 1988 with its 270 casulaties. Happily minister Donner was still wearing his earmuffs at that moment, so a direct diplomatic embarrassment did not occur. Gaddafi has used similar emblematic tactics during his recent historical visit to Italy in June 2009, where he pinned to his uniform a historical photograph of Omar Al-Mukhtar, the Libyan resistance fighter during the colonial era who was hanged by the Fascist military government in Tripoli, a picture that showed Al-Mukhtar in chains at the time of his arrest in 1931. Click photograph for a full size view.

Ahmed Al-J. waiting at the gate of the Detention Center for Migrants Schiphol Oost, nicely refurbished after the disaster of October, 25 2005

Ahmed Al-J. - for years consequently keeping his privacy with minimal means - waiting at the gate of the Detention Center for Migrants Schiphol Oost (nicely refurbished after the disaster of October, 25 2005, with protective high fences and electrical wires), being confused about where and what is the inside and outside of Dutch Control Society. Click the picture for a full size view.


June 14, 2009 Italian prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and Colonel Gaddafi at Ciampino airport, Rome. A step to turn several pages of the past, from the Italo-Ottoman War from 1911-194 (which war saw the first aerial bombardments in history with bombs thrown by hand by Italian pilots on human settlements), the fascist occupation and colonization of Libya in the thirties and forties of last century and the American air strikes on Tripoli and Benghazi in 1986 in retaliation of Libyan (at first alleged and hard to prove) involvement in a series of terrorist attacks in Europe in the previous years (Achille Lauro cruise ship hijacking, Rome and Vienna airport attacks, West-Berlin disco visited by American servicemen).

xxx Click picture for full size view.

The photograph Gaddafi was wearing at his arrival in Italy in June 2009. It shows the main leader of the resistance - Omar Mukhtar (Arabic عمر المختار ‘Umar Al-Mukhtār) (1862 - September 16, 1931) - against the Italian fascist colonization with its white supremacist violent policy that started in the year 1922. Before, there had been a period of Italian competition with what remained of the Ottoman empire in the North of Africa. A period with changing alliances between tribes and occupiers developing into some sort of civil war in the end. Omar al-Makhtar (also written as Umar...) was a Cyrenaican muslim tribesman that led for several years the struggle against Italian occupation. When he was finally captured in 1931 his importance and influence was so great that the Italian general Rodolfo Graziani choose to hang him in front of 20.000 forcefully gathered tribesmen. Good statistics of the number of victims of these decades of violence are hard to find. Some indication can be derived from the statistics on the Italian policy of area control, involving a concentration camp system in which a hundred thousand Libyans were imprisoned. Historians have estimated that more than half of these prisoners did not survive and some have labeled these gruesome events the "Italian Holocaust" (**) Click photograph for full size view.

Violence from the past  needs to be acknowledged to purge the motivation to keep carrying it into the future.

Violence from the past needs to be acknowledged by the perpetrators of it, to purge the motivation to keep carrying this experience into the future by new violent acts. Comparisons of the number of victims, caused by one and another historical event, is seen as an amoral exercise by many. Nevertheless knowledge of the scale and impact of violence is essential for our understanding of causes and finding remedies. Several tens of thousands have found a violent death during the fascist Italian regime in Libya over two decades; 270 people died in a few seconds over and in the Scottish town of Lockerbie. Forty to sixty people are said to have died in the retaliation air strikes ordered by USA President Ronal Reagan in in Libya. The highjacked ship, airport attacks and disco bombing produced a total of approximate 20 dead. Click for full size view.

(*) Muammar Abu Minyar al-Gaddafi1 (Arabic: معمر القذافي‎ Mu‘ammar al-Qaḏāfī; also known simply as Colonel Gaddafi; born 7 June 1942) has been the de facto leader of Libya since a coup in 1969; some of the many alternative spellings of his name are: Gadafi, Gadhafi, Qadhafi.
(**) One of my sources on the Italian violent colonization of Libya is “The making of modern Libya: state formation, colonization, and resistance …” by Ali Abdullatif Ahmida. Several pages can directly be viewed via Googlebooks.
(**) There is a dramatized rendering of the fight against the Italian occupiers of Libya in the feature movie “Lion of the desert” with Oliver Reed and Anthony Queen; directed and prduced by Moustapha Akkad in 1979, whose fate was to be killed in the hall of an American owned  luxury hotel in Amman by a radical Islamic suicide bomb attack in 2005. It may be clear that this is – like almost all war movies – a propaganda film, this time  from a radical Islam viewpoint with a big financial aid of the Gaddafi administration, now thirty years back.

A detailed description of the movie via a link... click the picture to go there

A detailed description of the movie via a link... click the picture to go there

Read Full Post »