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Friends and readers write

8 July 2005

After yesterday’s calls and messages from family, friends and colleagues, this morning I arrived to messages from openDemocracy’s friends and readers around the world. Many voiced sympathy and solidarity. A number expressed more complex – and sometimes less generous - emotions.

So far, they come from Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Egypt, France, Germany, India, Israel, Italy, New Zealand, Palestine, South Africa, Spain, the UK, the US and Venezuela.

Isabel Hilton’s letter, published in the afternoon, and the accompanying evening email, “Letter from wounded London”, attracted much support but also concern.

The email referred to:

“that chain of cities and regions - from New York to Mombasa, Madrid to Istanbul, Casablanca to Bali - whose everyday citizens have suffered indiscriminate, violent assault”.

This was a variation on Isabel’s letter, which read:

“The dread, the deaths, the injuries, the lives devastated – this was London’s story today, as it has been the story of many others in many places, from Baghdad to New York, Paris to Bali, Madrid to Istanbul.”

Some of you replied to add to the email’s list, to include Jerusalem, Baghdad (mentioned in the letter but not the email), Tel Aviv, Haifa, Nettanya, Affulla, Karachi, Kabul, Basra, Falluja, Najaf.

One reader, after wondering whether to raise concern, “concluded that the unconscious prejudice displayed is of no service to the victims, to the honest dialogue open democracy claims to support, or to addressing the scourge of terrorism”.

The first message to reach me stated that “fair discourse makes us free and better. It helps us to grow and live”, while others doubted that fairness and justice would halt such outrages. Many were glad openDemocracy’s staff were safe and unharmed.

I won’t list every name and message. But here are some of the words we have received. There has also been response in our forums. Your further comments will be appreciated here on the blog, or there.

“Getting back to normal as fast as possible is the only answer to terrorism which seeks to destroy our values and disrupt our life. Mumbai completely ignored 1993 bombings and continued their daily routine, showing the terrorists that we are not going to be scared.”

“We love London for its incredible diversity and vitality – sending you our best wishes for strength and calm in the days ahead.”

“Thank You that courage is on the menu for sharing.”

“What about the 17 Afghan civilians and kids killed just last week in ONE stray “precision bombing”?”

“Please remember the plight of the defenceless people in Zimbabwe. Please do not let the millions without a voice to the outside world be further silenced. If ever the help of the G8 was needed, it is needed now.”

“I write to inform you of my concern that an assault on democratic values will take place in reaction to the terrorist attacks London has just endured.”

“The number of people lost in the bombing of London represent about one and a half minutes worth of children who die under empire. Put this in perspective.”

“A day like this shows not only how vulnerable we are but also how valuable democracy and diversity are. It is good to have a forum like opendemocracy on the net.”

“On behalf of the people who I was with in the beleaguered Rafah today when the news came through – they feel this is an awful and shocking event – your letter is a fine response to an impossible challenge.”

“[Isabel Hilton’s] words inspire all of us to continue seeking just, non-violent, co-creative solutions to our collective challenges.”

“I am glad that all at openDemocracy are safe. The excellent work they are doing is much needed in a world as much riddled by insanity as by injustice. I am writing from Egypt. The news of the brutal and senseless murder of the Egyptian Ambassador to Iraq reached us about the same time yesterday as the news of the atrocious London massacre.”

“As citizens of a country whose government did not and has not protected civil and human rights in the face of terrorism, and which has resorted to the demonization and isolation of large groups of people, we support you in your call for democratic values to be upheld in the aftermath of this horrible attack.”

Stop the secrecy: Publish the NHS COVID data deals


To: Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care

We’re calling on you to immediately release details of the secret NHS data deals struck with private companies, to deliver the NHS COVID-19 datastore.

We, the public, deserve to know exactly how our personal information has been traded in this ‘unprecedented’ deal with US tech giants like Google, and firms linked to Donald Trump (Palantir) and Vote Leave (Faculty AI).

The COVID-19 datastore will hold private, personal information about every single one of us who relies on the NHS. We don’t want our personal data falling into the wrong hands.

And we don’t want private companies – many with poor reputations for protecting privacy – using it for their own commercial purposes, or to undermine the NHS.

The datastore could be an important tool in tackling the pandemic. But for it to be a success, the public has to be able to trust it.

Today, we urgently call on you to publish all the data-sharing agreements, data-impact assessments, and details of how the private companies stand to profit from their involvement.

The NHS is a precious public institution. Any involvement from private companies should be open to public scrutiny and debate. We need more transparency during this pandemic – not less.


By adding my name to this campaign, I authorise openDemocracy and Foxglove to keep me updated about their important work.

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