Anonymous en Dear patient - why your care is getting shattered, not more 'joined up' <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Healthcare is fragmenting as a result of changes ministers claim promote 'joined up care', finds a frustrated NHS worker.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p class="MsoNormal"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//" alt="" title="" width="460" height="345" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><p class="MsoNormal">Dear Patients,</p><p class="MsoNormal">It has been a while since I last <a href="">wrote</a>. Since then the steady drip, drip of changes occurring around me have become easier to spot. They make my working life and your care so much more difficult.</p><p class="MsoNormal">When you come to see me you often tell me your lovely GP sent you for some ultra-sound and x-ray imaging, to help my diagnosis. Very thoughtful and sensible of them. Unfortunately, these days I find such scans have often been outsourced to a company outside of the NHS. The NHS still pays for it but because it is a private company, the images are stored in their own system. So as an NHS worker, I can’t always see the images. Which is a pity, because I do need the pictures as well as the report really, to make a good diagnosis. </p><p class="MsoNormal">The same problem arises for the poor patient who has a quick in-and-out job (the most lucrative) at a private facility funded by the NHS. They get their bits x-rayed there then. Later in the year, they see their regular NHS specialist consultant for their long-term ailment. The NHS consultant has a look to see if the patient has had any scans lately - and finds no images on the system. </p><p class="MsoNormal">I wonder who owns your images; the images of your body?</p><p class="MsoNormal"><span>I’m finding the same problem with your blood test and other pathology and microbiology results lately. Several times a day I need to check recent results ordered by the different NHS health professionals who care for you. All your results used to be carried out in county NHS pathology labs and stored in one NHS-run system. But <a href="">someone decided</a> such services were ideal for outsourcing to other labs - <a href="">including privately run labs</a> - and now I struggle to find results of tests. They aren’t getting put on to an easily-accessible system for NHS workers. Sometimes the only way to see results is order more tests myself. It is all getting really quite tedious.</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span>Apparently, a lot of the recent changes that have caused this fragmentation are</span><a href=""> in the name of better joined-up care</a><span>. Who knew?!</span></p><p class="MsoNormal">‘Joined-up’ care takes many forms. A popular way to achieve it is to take bits of various departments and make a new, specialist one. Musculoskeletal teams (treating back and limb problems) are a particular favourite. Unfortunately, such teams often pluck workers from different departments then decide that the system is so new and innovative, that it’s really only fair to let the private sector bid to take it over. Oops! Didn’t see that one coming…</p><p class="MsoNormal">The new department has some lovely joined-up features but sometimes doesn’t join up very well with the rest of the county’s services. </p><p class="MsoNormal">And what’s left behind in the NHS is reduced in scope, <a href="">limited to the expensive, complex and unpredictable cases</a> the private companies don’t want to ‘cherry pick’, and <a href="">struggling to survive</a> as a result. </p><p class="MsoNormal">The government are particularly keen to ‘join up’ not just different bits of healthcare, but health and social care too - having unglued it in recent years, as I <a href="">told you about last year</a>. </p><p class="MsoNormal">Sounds like a great idea, doesn’t it? Where I work, the <a href="">joined-up care message</a> is coming through loud and clear. We have an integrated care team, a kind of recipe made up of bits of adult social care and bits of NHS. A consommé soup; little consistency or substance but looks good. </p><p class="MsoNormal">Of course the NHS budget is <a href="">still ring-fenced</a>, isn’t it? Erm…maybe not. Adult social care has leached a fair bit of our staff time to the new ‘integrated care team’. We had a jolly good game of ‘hunt the admin’ staff recently, following yet another complaint from a patient wondering where they had to go/what they had to do/who to speak to. We found them in the end; they had all gone to the new team to do council work. They said it was lucky that the NHS trust is still printed on their payslip or they might have forgotten what the job was that they were hired to do originally.</p><p class="MsoNormal">It’s not just round here - I gather this <a href="">Better Care Fund</a> thingy, taking cash away from the NHS into local government, isn't shaping up too well anywhere.</p><p class="MsoNormal">Friends in another county have told me about another way they are ‘re-joining’ health with stuff that’s been split off and re-branded ‘social’ care. Their NHS department (outsourced of course) now offers the so-called ‘social’ treatments on the same premises in the evening - for a fee. </p><p class="MsoNormal">Yes, you are thinking “but isn’t that on public property?” It’s ok - the government thought of that and they gave the premises to <a href="">NHS Property Services</a> (a private company), so it’s no longer yours.</p><p class="MsoNormal">Oh yes, I nearly forgot, dear Patient, I have some good news. Last time I wrote I mentioned a lovely lady who seemed destined to never improve with only <a href=""><em>de rigeur</em></a>&nbsp;'joined up' 'care in the community'. All my pleading went unheeded until she got a lot worse - leading to an emergency admission which resulted in her initial problems being solved. That's right, it took an emergency admission to get her a hospital stay (of several weeks) to solve a problem that 'community care' alone could not solve over a period of several years.</p><p class="MsoNormal">I'm not sure it that's a good result. </p><p><span>Anyway, I have to go now because I have offered to complete an 81-question survey for a friend and colleague who has completed a </span><a href="">leadership course</a><span>. This means she’ll be counted as having ‘managerial responsibilities’ - lots of clinicians do, something I wish </span><a href="">Mr Farage</a><span> would remember when he complains of too many managers. Anyway, I have to decide if she "encourages others to become 'ambassadors' for the vison and generates excitement about long-term aims". No, I'm not sure what it means either.</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><em><strong><span>Like this piece? Please donate to OurNHS&nbsp;</span></strong></em><a href="" target="_blank"><strong><span>here&nbsp;</span></strong></a><em><strong><span>to help keep us producing the NHS stories that matter.&nbsp;Thank you.</span></strong></em><span>&nbsp;</span></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/ournhs/anonymous/nhs-my-part-in-its-downfall">The NHS - my part in its downfall</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/ournhs/veronica-beechey/health-and-social-care-integration-blueprint-for-future-0">Health and Social Care Integration: a blueprint for the future?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/ournhs/jenny-shepherd/how-to-commercialise-and-cut-health-and-social-care-without-anyone-noticing">How to commercialise and cut health and social care without anyone noticing</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> ourNHS ourNHS Privatising our NHS Social Care Anonymous Fri, 16 Jan 2015 14:01:19 +0000 Anonymous 89671 at HIV, homophobia and historical regression: where next for Uganda? <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>President Yoweri Museveni was once globally admired for mobilising an HIV response in Uganda founded upon compassion and shared responsibility. So what happened? We need to look back in time in order to comprehend the devastating scale of Uganda’s backslide in HIV prevention, care and support</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><em>This article is the 8th in 50.50's <a href="">series on the World AIDS 2014 Conference</a> taking place this week in Melbourne</em></p><p>The <a href="">International AIDS Conference</a> is a chance to reflect on where we’ve come from and what we’ve learned along the way in terms of HIV prevention, care and support. The growth of inspirational AIDS <a href="">rhetoric</a>, as well as significant <a href="">medical advances</a>, might imply that progress is inevitable, or that it’s simply a question of time until we end the AIDS pandemic. But moving forward doesn’t automatically constitute movement in the right direction. Hajjarah Nagadya’s article highlighted the regressive implications of Uganda’s <a href="">new HIV laws</a> upon the “little success already achieved” for women in relation to HIV. This comes only months after the <a href="">introduction</a> of the harsh, <a href="">anti-homosexuality act</a>, which can specifically penalise homosexuals living with HIV. At the same time, Uganda is one of only three countries - together with Angola and Mozambique - on the continent where <a href="">HIV prevalence is rising</a> instead of falling. </p> <p>But only two decades earlier, Uganda’s HIV response was <a href="">heralded</a><strong> </strong>as the bravest and smartest in Africa. Incumbent president, Yoweri Museveni, was once globally admired for mobilising an HIV response founded upon compassion and shared responsibility. So what happened? This article looks back in time in order to comprehend the real, devastating scale of Uganda’s backslide in HIV prevention, care and support. </p> <p>“Brother, you have a problem.” </p> <p>These were the legendary words of advice given from Fidel Castro to the only recently sworn-in president of Uganda, Yoweri Museveni, in 1986. They came after Museveni sent 60 soldiers from his army to Cuba for further military training. Routine HIV testing in Cuba discovered that 18 of these tested HIV positive. In fact, we now know that approx. 30% of the entire population of Uganda was estimated to be living with HIV at this <a href="">time</a>. Some months after testing, Castro took Museveni aside during a conference in Zimbabwe and delivered the news in person. The Ugandan president’s response was ground-breaking. He called for action at all levels, from schools to churches and mosques. This made Museveni the first leader in Africa to acknowledge the epidemic publicly and Uganda the first country in Africa to make the HIV pandemic a national, political priority. </p> <p>Uganda soon implemented the famous <a href="">ABC programme</a> (Abstain, Be faithful, Use condoms). Billboards were erected urging people to “love carefully” to practice “zero grazing” (not to look outside of their own pen for a different mate). Bishops and Imams <a href="">united</a> against the threat of HIV. Condoms became widely accessible, even from shop corners of remote areas. The candid discussion about sex and condoms that it stimulated was unprecedented. </p> <p>It was this environment that enabled the formation of <a href=";view=article&amp;id=56">The AIDS Support Organisation</a> (TASO). It was the first community support programme of its kind and it could only have existed under Museveni’s presidency. TASO created the justly famous, and widely replicated, model of Positive Living: “creating systems and structures that take care of and support people living with HIV to lead meaningful, productive and happier lives while at the same time supporting people not living with HIV to remain HIV free.” In other words, TASO promoted a system of mutual support and acceptance, care and mindfulness. What was so progressive about Uganda’s national HIV response, apart from the fact that it was led by the highest office in the land, was that the movement was grounded in compassion, social justice, dignity and treatment access for all. Later, Uganda became an early pioneer of antiretroviral treatment (ART) scale-up in 2004, allowing people living with HIV to live much longer and healthier lives. As a result of all of these advances, Uganda saw massive drop in the number of HIV transmissions. The rate of people living with HIV in Uganda was reduced from approximately 30% of the population, in 1986, to <a href="">6.4% in 2006</a>. </p> <p>To put the significance of Museveni’s open and pro-active approach to HIV into perspective, we have to understand the context. Uganda’s ‘love carefully’ revolution was happening whilst the epidemic was being casually ignored or actively discredited by most other political figures in Africa. Even Nelson Mandela never fully addressed HIV until after his retirement.&nbsp; He remarked to the <a href="">BBC in 1994</a> that, "I wanted to win, and I didn't talk about AIDS." But even after winning, and despite governing a country that was home to some of the highest numbers of people living with HIV anywhere in the world, Nelson Mandela remembered how he did not have “time to concentrate on the issue". It was Museveni’s original support for public discussion and action about HIV that paved the way for the extraordinary community-based leadership and innovation that continues to thrive today. </p> <p>But now, over two decades later, the global community of activists, scientists, policy makers are again crying out - “Brother, you have a problem” – albeit to a less receptive Museveni. 13th May saw the passage of the <a href="">HIV Prevention and Control Act</a> by the Ugandan Parliament. It was yet another devastating blow to the HIV agenda and to human rights. The act includes Mandatory HIV testing for pregnant women and their partners, as well as for victims of sexual abuse. It also allows medical providers to disclose a patient’s HIV status to others. Both of the above contravene <a href="">international best practices</a> and violate fundamental human rights. </p> <p>Mandatory HIV testing unfairly targets women, as they are more likely to be tested in antenatal clinics. This makes them vulnerable to violence; from their partners, their communities, the health service providers and now also; the law. The same law also intends to <a href="">criminalise</a> the transmission of HIV&nbsp; - as well as ‘attempted’ HIV transmission. It is a move that contradicts evdience, logic and human rights. Puntive laws instil fear and blame. There is no evidence that links them to beneficial public health outcomes. Instead, <a href="">research</a> has shown that it de-incentivises testing and heightens stigma. Stigma then <a href="">reinforces</a> further discrimination against people living with HIV. What then, is the justification of these laws? </p> <p>The introduction of the act seems to be part of a larger and worrying trend in which Uganda is moving away from the foundation of care and support that was present in its initial public health campaigns. Homosexuality has long been illegal in Uganda, as it is in a large number of African countries, despite its existence before the British <a href="">imposed</a> stringent homophobic laws on their colonial territories. But on Tuesday 25th February 2014, the <a href="">“Anti-Homosexuality-Act”</a> was signed by the president. The bill included the creation of new crimes, to be imposed alongside brutal and arbitrary punitive measures. “Aggravated homosexuality”, for example, carries a life sentence and penalises “homosexual acts committed by a person living with HIV.” “Aiding and abetting homosexuality” carries a seven-year sentence and looks likely to inhibit key public health services from operating in the country. The Ugandan government officially <a href="">refutes</a> this but <a href="">Avert</a> claims that HIV services supporting men who have sex with men (MSM) are effectively non-existent and we have already heard from colleagues that organisations supporting gay rights are being closed down. This act includes lesbians for the first time. Current data on HIV prevalence among MSM in Uganda are unknown; data is not even being collected in order to understand the full impact that these laws will have upon HIV transmission. Museveni, who was the first African leader to speak out about the HIV epidemic, now seems content to shut his eyes to it. </p> <p>Persecution of LGBTI people is increasing. Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) and the National LGBTI Security Team <a href="">documented</a> 162 reported incidences of persecution perpetrated against Ugandan “LGBTI people” between 20 December 2013 and 1 May 2014. Even if we cannot yet know how the Anti-homosexuality-law is affecting HIV transmission rates among this key population in Uganda, this study gives us a grim picture of how it may already be manifesting by way of violence and discrimination. </p> <p>The real tragedy of this situation is the historical regression. For more than a decade Ugandan political leadership and the tremendous accompanying community response was an exemplar of best public health practice. Yet in 2011 Uganda was recognised as one of <a href="">only three countries</a> on the continent in which rates of HIV prevalence are rising. And the long-term impacts of both the <a href="">Anti-Homosexuality laws</a> and the <a href="">HIV Prevention and Control Act</a> look set to worsen this. “Brother, you have a problem” remains astute counsel for Museveni. </p> <p>Executive Director of Uganda Network on Law, Ethics &amp; HIV/AIDS. Dorah Kiconco, <a href="">calls</a> for a holistic approach to human rights and health care. “For Uganda to address its HIV epidemic effectively, it needs to partner with people living with HIV, not blame them, criminalize them, and exclude them from policy making.” </p> <p>Let’s hope the people of Uganda who have worked for decades to make sure that care and support formed the basis for HIV prevention campaigns can regain their president’s ear. Meanwhile, we must all hope that whilst Uganda still leads with discrimination and fear, it will not become again the public health role model for other African countries. </p> <p>&nbsp;<em>The author's name has been withheld at her request</em></p><p><br /><strong><em>This article is part of 50.50's long running series on <a href="">AIDS Gender and Human Rights</a>. We are publishing articles daily during the 2014 World AIDS Conference in Melbourne July 20-25</em></strong></p><p><br /><em>&nbsp;</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/alice-welbourn/aids-2014-conference-stepping-up-pace-and-still-on-wrong-path">AIDS 2014 Conference: stepping up the pace and still on the wrong path </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/ida-susser-zena-stein/bioinsecurity-and-hivaids">Bio-insecurity and HIV/AIDS </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/martha-tholanah/hiv-disclosure-changing-ourselves-changing-others">HIV disclosure: changing ourselves, changing others </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/cecilia-chung/hiv-call-for-solidarity-with-transgender-community">HIV: a call for solidarity with the transgender community </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/susan-paxton/positive-and-pregnant-in-asia-how-dare-you">Positive and pregnant in Asia - How dare you</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/jessica-horn/accepted-mishaps-faith-healing-hiv-and-aids-responses">Accepted mishaps? Faith healing, HIV and AIDS responses</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> 50.50 50.50 50.50 AIDS, Gender and Human Rights 50.50 Our Africa 50.50 Editor's Pick women's movements women's human rights women's health 50.50 newsletter Anonymous Wed, 23 Jul 2014 08:45:33 +0000 Anonymous 84650 at The NHS - my part in its downfall <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><span style="text-align: justify;">I have broken the NHS in to digestible bits ripe for being eaten up by private companies, confesses an NHS clinician.&nbsp;</span></p> </div> </div> </div> <p class="MsoNormal"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//" alt="" title="" width="400" height="265" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_large" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span><em>The "All-better-now" fairy? Image: Tim Parkinson/Flickr</em></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span>I began working for an NHS </span><span>T</span><span>rust in 1996.</span></p><p class="MsoNormal">I was totally unaware of the politics of the NHS.</p><p class="MsoNormal">My Trust covered a large area and many types of care. We did not compete and had a large pot of money with which to cross-subsidise between different departments, so the money went where it was needed most.</p><p class="MsoNormal"><strong>Not 'entitled'</strong></p><p class="MsoNormal">I first realised something was afoot when my boss told us that we had to make a 20% saving. We were to stop providing our service to people at home and in care homes and we had to inform a set percentage of our patients that they were no longer 'entitled' to treatment.</p><p class="MsoNormal">Overnight, someone who needed us miraculously no longer needed us.</p><p class="MsoNormal">The structure of the NHS was changing. The money pot had become several smaller pots as we morphed into new trusts. We started talking about the other trusts on our doortep as if they no longer worked for the same organisation. When once it did not matter who did a certain type of patient review for example, we now cried "I'm not doing that, the _ _ _ department/surgery get paid to do that".</p><p class="MsoNormal">The language of care changed too. To smooth the cuts, give them some sense, we were encouraged to differentiate between social care and medical care. There had been much unoffiical overlap until then. Both were provided directly from the public sector so it had not occurred to my colleagues and I that we were so different.</p><p class="MsoNormal">Many of us could not get to grips with the new separation – medical care and social care are entwined. How could we do our basic functions of caring for people if social care was to become such a separate entity?</p><p class="MsoNormal">But change was afoot and social care was being increasingly out-sourced - and charged for. Soon it seemed those in social care had different drivers, that their work was now about cutting corners in order to drive up profits.</p><p class="MsoNormal">I now realise the social care staff were having a very rough time watching their vulnerable patients (rebranded ‘clients’ or ‘customers’) get less and less of a service and become more and more isolated in their homes.</p><p class="MsoNormal">In the NHS we clung to the principle of care for the sake of care, of protecting the vulnerable.</p><p class="MsoNormal">But we began to say that patients did not need us if their problems were of a 'social' nature, not medical. Patients that had relied on us for many years were simply cut off from the service.</p><p class="MsoNormal">All around us the rebranding of ‘healthcare’ as ‘social care’ affected&nbsp;the most vulnerable in society.</p><p class="MsoNormal"><strong>Bed blockers</strong></p><p class="MsoNormal">As needs went unmet, health and social care workers were increasingly maligned in the media.</p><p class="MsoNormal">And so were our elderly patients, who became the fodder for an economic war.</p><p class="MsoNormal">Patients now come to me apologising profusely, "I'm sorry for being old and pushing the NHS to its limits," they say.</p><p class="MsoNormal">I too began to talk of 'bed-blockers'. I didn’t think about how emotive this term was. If elderly people were in a community hospital following a stay in an acute hospital, they were 'blocking' the system up, weren’t they?</p><p class="MsoNormal"><span>Wasn’t</span><span>&nbsp;it all the fault of the lack of beds in nursing and residential homes? "Those homes are awful, how dare they block up our precious hospitals?”</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span> I did not think about the fact that hospital care was paid out of taxation whereas elderly and ‘social’ care was largely privately provided, and often means-tested or requiring large payments to be made by the ‘clients’. I didn't know the UK already had fewer actual hospital beds than in most developed countries.</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span><strong>Care in the community</strong></span></p><p class="MsoNormal">‘Care in the community’ is where it's at now, whether for general health, mental health or social care. Specialist and mobile health professionals like myself, working in ‘NHS Community Services’, are leading the way.</p><p class="MsoNormal">Apparently, patients want to be at home when they are ill and diseased. Full service hospitals are so yesterday.</p><p class="MsoNormal">We are told hospitals can manage with less because we are all working on getting care more community-based. But - oops - they forgot to put the money in to the community! </p><p class="MsoNormal"><span>And even if they did, there is no proof this is&nbsp;beneficial. </span><span>I have been caring for someone who should have been treated with in-patient, hospital care. She needed to be non-weight-bearing and have 24 hour care. All who treated her agreed she needed a combination of 'community' and 'acute' care, first in a hospital, then at home. What she got was community care (at and close to home),&nbsp;with periodic reviews with hospital staff. Neither have been&nbsp;enough and as a result she continues to be our patient, in pain and&nbsp;increasingly immobile, two years&nbsp;<span>on</span>.&nbsp;</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span>Why?&nbsp;Because the hospitals no longer&nbsp;tend the treatment she needs. They only want the in-and-out stuff, the stuff that is quantifiable, easy to cost. The person develops a malfunction, they go to hospital, get fixed, get sent home, never bothered with again. That is the way to make money.</span></p><p class="MsoNormal">Managers are working on ways to get consultants more community-based. "Surely all they do is sit in an office and consult", one manger reasoned with me. But a consultant's room is conveniently situated near imaging, pathology, and pharmacy. It’s conveniently near the wards, too, for admitting and visiting those awkward bed-ridden 'clients' who just refuse to get with the trend of suddenly no longer needing acute care.</p><p class="MsoNormal"><strong>Short term miracles</strong></p><p class="MsoNormal">Appointments have changed, along with record keeping. Every patient contact - every treatment or contact or even phone-call - now has to be coded and computerised. Every patient interaction, broken down in to its constituent parts ripe for selling or buying or invoicing. So many more trusts and companies and steps along the way to and from care – so many more accountants and managers.</p><p class="MsoNormal">We now help people, not for the sake of helping people, but in order to meet targets. We have to write lengthy plans for patient care packages, with 'diagnosis', 'objectives', 'treatment plan', 'review timescale' and 'episode of care timescale'. &nbsp;</p><p class="MsoNormal">Plans are important - they help care-givers work together for the benefit of patients. </p><p class="MsoNormal">But <em>these</em> plans have to have short-term ends. Our patients had to ‘get better’ even when their problems were life-long, because you cannot bill a buyer for unending treatment.</p><p class="MsoNormal">So we now 'discharge' our patients. They have not suddenly become younger or un-disabled. We know they will be back again soon with a new 'episode of care'. And yet more paperwork, again only asking me about the short term.</p><p class="MsoNormal">In the short term, my job increases comfort and quality of life.</p><p class="MsoNormal">But the long term is what matters more. In the long term, my job prevents deformity, and huge economic, social and medical consequences. A reduction in time off work, an increase in family involvement as parents or grandparents, lesser chance of surgical intervention, hugely reduced chance of expensive, chronic skin ulcerations, reduced liklihood of orthopaedic appliances.....</p><p class="MsoNormal">Reducing patient care to short episodes that can be bought and sold takes all this away. It denies the long-term exists. It is all about making money now and sod the future.</p><p class="MsoNormal">So there you have it. I have told patients they no longer need me. I have blamed other trusts and other care agencies for failings in care. I have bestowed the imaginary all-better-now miracle fairy upon countless people who are still poorly. I have used language to make vulnerable patients feel bad about the current politics of the NHS. And I do mountains of paperwork to ensure the money moves around in circles within the NHS and government.</p><p class="MsoNormal">For all this, I am truly sorry.</p><p class="MsoNormal">I have broken the NHS in to little digestible bits ripe for being eaten up by private companies. &nbsp;</p> ourNHS uk ourNHS Cuts - dismantling the NHS Privatisation Social Care Anonymous Fri, 10 Jan 2014 08:12:20 +0000 Anonymous 78313 at Forced marriage to rapists: the death of Amina El Filali <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>For years, human rights and women's&nbsp;organizations have been demanding reform of Article 475 of the Moroccan Penal Code which allows rapists to escape punishment if they marry their victim. It is time to break the wall of silence about these archaic customs.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p>Read this article in <a href="">Arabic</a>.</p><p>Morocco is considered one of the leading Arab countries when it comes to <a href="">working towards</a> establishing a strong respect for and implementation of women’s rights. Its <a href="">2004 reforms</a> to the “mudwana” Family Code were <a href="">heralded</a> as “one of the most progressive laws on women's and family rights in the Arab world”.Yet whilst Morocco has made some significant changes to the Family Code over the past decade, such as restricting polygamy and extending the right to petition for divorce to women, there arestill major gaps in the law. The criminal and family laws in particular are filled with loopholes that facilitate the crime of rape and make it easy for rapists to escape prosecution. The tragic story of Amina El Filali captures the horror facing women and girls who are raped and forced to marry their rapist because of one particularly archaic legal tradition. </p> <p>Amina El Filali was a 16 year old village girl who lived on the outskirts of Larache city in the north of Morocco. She was from a humble and modest family consisting of her father, his two wives and three girls.</p> <p>In March this year, Amina El Filali’s family <a href="">stated</a> on Moroccan and foreign television channels that their daughter was <a href="">kidnapped at knifepoint</a> from the neighborhood surrounding her school by a man named Mustafa. Mustafa is a young man in his twenties who lived in the same area as Amina El Filali. &nbsp;</p> <p>Amina was brought to the woods and kept there for ten days, until her family was tired of searching and looking for her everywhere in the village. On the tenth day, Amina’s mother met one of Mustafa’s friends, named Zuhir, who assured her that her daughter was in the woods with Mustafa.</p> <p>Amina’s family visited Mustafa’s family hoping to rescue Amina, however Amina made her own way back to her parent’s house after ten days of being absent.</p> <p>Conflicting statements have been put forward regarding the possibility that Amina may have had an existing relationship with Mustafa at the time of her attack. Amina’s friend <a href="">assured</a> the media that prior to the rape, Amina was a friend of Mustafa and used to go out with him, and according to a Moroccan television channel, some photos of Mustafa <a href="">were found</a> in Amina’s parent’s house.</p> <p>Once she was reunited with her family, Amina visited the doctor who confirmed that she had been raped. Mustafa was sued by Amina El Filali’s family for rape and was condemned to marry Amina by the family court judge.</p> <p>Article 475 of Moroccan law states that a rapist can escape punishment if he marries his victim. This is called a “Reparations agreement“between the girl’s family and the family of the accused and it requires the blessings of the concerned authorities. It was under this law that Amina was forced to marry her rapist against her will.</p><p>Amina spent roughly six months married to Mustafa. During this time she was subjected to repeated physical abuse. She was beaten, deprived of food and insulted by her husband. All of this suffering caused Amina to put an end to her miserable life; she committed suicide by consuming rat poison on 10 March.</p> <p>Amina’s family told the media that prior to her death, she had told her family that she had not intended to commit suicide, but only wanted to draw people’s attention to the abuse she was receiving from her husband. When Amina felt alone and didn’t find anyone who would listen to her, she went to the local authorities to file a complaint against her husband; but the authorities didn’t take her complaint seriously<strong>.</strong></p> <p>Amina’s suicide was a huge shock to her family and to Moroccan society at large. The manner in which various Moroccan <a href="">media outlets</a> and <a href="">social networking sites</a> have addressed Amina’s story has rocked Moroccan public discourse and sparked a reconsideration of the way our nation deals with the crime of rape by putting more focus on the victim rather than the laws. Human rights associations and&nbsp;women's&nbsp;associations have been calling for a reform to Article 475 for years, but in vain.</p> <p>There are also similar laws in other Arab countries such as Jordan. Article 358 of the Jordanian penal code, for example, similarly exempts the rapist from prosecution if he marries his victim. This explains why <a href="">May Abou Saman</a>, an active member of the Jordanian Women’s Committee, led a protest against this law. She stated that women are killed twice by the law, once while being raped, second when forced to marry their rapist. </p> <p>In order to stop this violation of women’s rights we need to deal with the culture of shame as well as reforming the law. In Jordan as in Morocco, it is thought that a raped girl brings shame on her family - and herself - and that no other man would want to marry her. A girl’s family therefore chooses to marry their daughter to her rapist in order to escape shame and save their dignity. In obliging their daughter to marry the rapist they nevertheless fail to consider the dignity and mental state of their daughter; they fail to think about the rights of the victim. </p> <p>During the <a href="">16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence</a>, people all over the world need to remember the death of Amina and raise their voices to denounce this law. It is time to think about the victim’s rights and break the wall of silence about these archaic customs.</p><p><em>Read&nbsp;<a href="">other articles</a>&nbsp;in the series, 16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence 2012.</em></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/heidi-basch-harod/uncertainty-for-future-of-moroccan-women%E2%80%99s-movement">Uncertainty for the future of the Moroccan women’s movement</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/valentina-bartolucci/moroccos-silent-revolution">Morocco&#039;s silent revolution</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/ziba-mir-hosseini/feminist-voices-in-islam-promise-and-potential">Feminist voices in Islam: promise and potential</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/susannah-sirkin/mass-crime-of-rape-ending-impunity">The mass crime of rape: ending impunity</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/aleksandra-nedzi/are-bosnian-and-herzegovinian-victims-of-wartime-rape-finally-being-given-cons">Are Bosnian and Herzegovinian victims of wartime rape finally being given constructive attention? </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/isabella-matambanadzo/minister-and-me">The Minister and Me</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/ghaidaa-al-absi/street-sexual-harassment-breaking-silence-in-yemen">Street sexual harassment: breaking the silence in Yemen</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/amira-mhadhbi/state-feminism-in-tunisia-reading-between-lines">State feminism in Tunisia: reading between the lines </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/heather-mcrobie/ken-clarke-strauss-kahn-yale-and-slutwalks-rape-consent-and-agency">Ken Clarke, Strauss-Kahn, Yale and SlutWalks: rape, consent and agency</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/zainab-magdy/undressing-um-ahmad-egyptian-women-between-bikini-and-burquaa">Undressing Um Ahmad: Egyptian women between the bikini and the burquaa&#039;</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/blog/5050/karama">Karama: women activists across the Middle East</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/eba%E2%80%99-el-tamami/harassment-free-zone">Harassment free zone </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/ghaidaa-al-absi/who-is-to-blame-street-sexual-harassment-in-yemen">Who is to blame? Street sexual harassment in Yemen</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/sara-abbas/revolution-is-female-uprising-of-women-in-arab-world">Revolution is female: the uprising of women in the Arab world</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/marwa-sharafeldin/revolutionary-woman">A Revolutionary woman</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Morocco </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 Morocco africa 16 Days: activism against gender based violence 16 Days, 2012 50.50 Gender Politics Religion Women and the Arab Spring 50.50 Our Africa 50.50 newsletter Sexual violence violence against women women's human rights Anonymous Tue, 04 Dec 2012 08:33:36 +0000 Anonymous 69615 at موت أمينة الفيلالي: قصة الزواج من مغتصب <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>لعدة سنوات ’ طالبت منضمات حقوقية و جمعيات نسائية لتعديل المادة 475 من القانون الجنائي المغربي الذي يعفي المغتصب من العقاب عند زواجه من الضحية. حان الوقت لتغيير هذا القانون الغير المنصف للمرأة و كسر جدار الصمت حول أعراف أصبحت من ضرب الماضي </p> </div> </div> </div> <p>Read this article in <a href="">English</a>.</p> <p>يعتبر المغرب من بين الدول العربية التي تعمل على احترام حقوق المرأة, فمدونة الأسرة التي صدرت سنة 2004 هي نتاج للتطور الذي طرا على حقوق المرأة و الأسرة في العالم العربي. رغم آن المغرب استطاع أن يحقق في 10 السنوات الأخيرة هذا التطور الملحوظ في مدونة الأسرة مثل تقنين تعدد الزوجات وإعطاء حق المرأة للتطليق إلا أن هذا القانون لازال يعاني من الثغرات. &nbsp;فالقانون الجنائي وقانون الأسرة وقوانين أخرى تعتمد على الأعراف المغربية المليئة بالثغرات التي تسهل جريمة الاغتصاب والإفلات من العقاب&nbsp; كما حدث&nbsp; في القصة المأساوية لأمينة الفيلالي التي تبين الوجه الآخر للمرأة و الفتاة المغتصبة والمجبرة على الزواج من مغتصبها من اجل تقاليد أصبحت متجاوزة.</p> <p>أمينة الفيلالي فتاة قروية تبلغ من العمر16 سنة تسكن بضواحي مدينة العرائش شمال المغرب من أسرة قروية متواضعة مكونة من أب وزوجتين و3 بنات.</p> <p>في مارس من هذه السنة صرحت عائلة أمينة الفيلالي في القنوات المغربية والأجنبية أن ابنتهما استدرجت من أمام مدرستها تحت تهديد السلاح الأبيض من طرف&nbsp; المسمى مصطفى وهو شاب في العشرينيات من عمره يقطن في نفس المنطقة التي تقطن بها أمينة الفيلالي&nbsp; واقتادها إلى الغابة حيت احتجزها لمدة 10 أيام حتى تعبت العائلة من البحث, وفي اليوم العاشر التقت الأم أحد أصدقاء مصطفى ويدعى زهير&nbsp; حيث أكد لها أن أمينة توجد في الغابة مع مصطفى.</p> <p>&nbsp;عندها ذهبت عائلة أمينة عند أسرة مصطفى وبعد 10 ايام من الاختفاء رجعت أمينة إلى منزل والديها.</p> <p>&nbsp;غير أن هناك رواية أخرى منافية لما قالته عائلة أمينة حيث أكدت صديقة أمينة في المدرسة للصحافة أن أمينة كانت على علاقة بمصطفى وكانت تخرج معه. وقد عرض تحقيق صحافي لإحدى القنوات الأجنبية وجود صورة لمصطفى كانت تحتفظ بها أمينة في بيت والديها وأكد أبوها أن الصورة كانت ملك لأمينة قبل موتها. </p> <p>وعند رجوعها عرضت أمينة على الخبرة الطبية التي أكدت أنها تعرضت للاغتصاب وبعدها أقامت عائلة أمينة دعوة على مصطفى فتم الحكم بتزويج أمينة من مغتصبها بمباركة قاضي الأسرة.</p> <p>فبموجب مادة القانون رقم 475 تتم سقوط العقوبة عن المغتصب في حالة قبوله الزواج من ضحيته. بموجب هذا القانون أجبرت أمينة على الزواج من مغتصبها فمثل هدا يسمى )اتفاق جبر الضرر( بين أسرة الفتاة وأسرة الجاني وبمباركة السلطات المعنية ودلك من أجل إنقاذ شرف عائلة المغتصبة.</p> <p>&nbsp;قضت أمينة قرابة 6 أشهر مع مصطفى بعد ما كانت تتعرض للضرب والجوع والإهانة من طرف زوجها المغتصب مما أدى بها لوضع حد لحياتها البائسة. انتحرت أمينة الفيلالي عبر تناول سم الفئران بعد أن عاشت مجبرة كزوجة لمغتصبها,فترة تمتد لستة أشهر<strong>, </strong>وحسب<strong> </strong>ما صرحت عائلة الضنينة في<strong> </strong>وسائل الإعلام<strong> </strong>أن<strong> </strong>أمينة قبل أن تموت قالت لوالديها أنها لم تكن تنوي الانتحار, وإنما فقط كانت تريد التنبيه إلى ما تتعرض له من ضرب وإساءة على يد زوجها.</p> <p>&nbsp;وتجدر الإشارة إلا أن أمينة حين لم تجد أدانا صاغية من محيطها لما تتعرض له, ذهبت إلى السلطات المحلية لتقديم شكوى ضد زوجها الذي يضربها ويعتدي عليها بانتظام, إلا أن السلطات لم تأخذ شكواها محمل الجد.</p> <p>فقد تناولت مختلف وسائل الإعلام المغربية والشبكات الاجتماعية بالخصوص, حكاية انتحار أمينة و رغم تضارب الآراء تبقى الطريقة التي أنهت بها أمينة حياتها صدمة لعائلتها و للمجتمع المغربي,و التي هزت المغرب وفتحت المجال لإعادة النظر في التعامل القانوني مع جريمة الاغتصاب و التفكير بالضحية والجدير بالذكر أن جمعيات حقوقية وجمعيات نسائية تطالب مند سنوات بتغييره&nbsp; ولكن بدون نتيجة .</p> <p>كما أن هناك قوانين مشابهة في دول عربية أخرى مثل الأردن فالمادة 358 من قانون العقوبات الأردني تعفي المغتصب من الملاحقة الأمنية في حال زواجه من الضحية. لدا قادت السيدة "مي أبو سمان" من الأردن تظاهرة ضد هذا القانون وصرحت " أن المرأة تغتال شخصيتها مرتين, الأولى حين اغتصابها, والثانية عند زواجها من الجاني, موضحة أن أهل الفتاة يلجأون إلى تزويج ابنتهم, كحل يحفظ كرامتهم من نظرات المجتمع, متناسين كرامة ابنتهم والحالة النفسية " .</p> <p>&nbsp;ومن اجل الحد من اغتصاب حقوق المرأة و الحد من النظرة السلبية اتجاه المغتصبة ولأن المغتصبة في نظر المجتمع تحمل العار لعائلتها ولنفسها وحيت أن لا أحد من الشباب يقبل أن يتقدم لخطبتها, فأهل الفتاة يلجأون إلى تزويج ابنتهم, كحل ومنفذ لهم يحفظ كرامتهم من نظرات المجتمع. كما أن المغتصب يعفى من الملاحقة الأمنية في حال زواجه من الضحية. يجب التفكير مليا &nbsp;في حق المغتصبة و مواكبتها نفسيا. </p> <p>خلال 16 يوم من النضال للحد من العنف ضد المرأة ارتفعت أصوات الناس من جميع أنحاء العالم للتنديد بهذا القانون وتكسير جدار الصمت حول أعراف أصبحت من ضرب الماضي.&nbsp;</p><p><em>Read&nbsp;<a href="">other articles</a>&nbsp;in the series, 16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence 2012.</em></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/heidi-basch-harod/uncertainty-for-future-of-moroccan-women%E2%80%99s-movement">Uncertainty for the future of the Moroccan women’s movement</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/valentina-bartolucci/moroccos-silent-revolution">Morocco&#039;s silent revolution</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/ziba-mir-hosseini/feminist-voices-in-islam-promise-and-potential">Feminist voices in Islam: promise and potential</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/susannah-sirkin/mass-crime-of-rape-ending-impunity">The mass crime of rape: ending impunity</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/aleksandra-nedzi/are-bosnian-and-herzegovinian-victims-of-wartime-rape-finally-being-given-cons">Are Bosnian and Herzegovinian victims of wartime rape finally being given constructive attention? </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/isabella-matambanadzo/minister-and-me">The Minister and Me</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/ghaidaa-al-absi/street-sexual-harassment-breaking-silence-in-yemen">Street sexual harassment: breaking the silence in Yemen</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/amira-mhadhbi/state-feminism-in-tunisia-reading-between-lines">State feminism in Tunisia: reading between the lines </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/heather-mcrobie/ken-clarke-strauss-kahn-yale-and-slutwalks-rape-consent-and-agency">Ken Clarke, Strauss-Kahn, Yale and SlutWalks: rape, consent and agency</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/zainab-magdy/undressing-um-ahmad-egyptian-women-between-bikini-and-burquaa">Undressing Um Ahmad: Egyptian women between the bikini and the burquaa&#039;</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/blog/5050/karama">Karama: women activists across the Middle East</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/eba%E2%80%99-el-tamami/harassment-free-zone">Harassment free zone </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/ghaidaa-al-absi/who-is-to-blame-street-sexual-harassment-in-yemen">Who is to blame? Street sexual harassment in Yemen</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/sara-abbas/revolution-is-female-uprising-of-women-in-arab-world">Revolution is female: the uprising of women in the Arab world</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/marwa-sharafeldin/revolutionary-woman">A Revolutionary woman</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Morocco </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 Morocco africa 16 Days: activism against gender based violence 16 Days, 2012 Women, culture and law 50.50 Our Africa women's human rights violence against women Anonymous Tue, 04 Dec 2012 08:33:33 +0000 Anonymous 69616 at Jalila Khamis: the high price of courage <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>"My children's life turned to hell for the past 9 months, they refused to celebrate the Eid, it is the second one without me" - Jalila Khamis, held in detention in Umdorman, Sudan </p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_right 0'><img src="//" alt="Photo of a black woman's face in a colourful headscarf with an Arabic caption." title="" width="104" height="134" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_small" style="" /> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>"Freedom for Jalila"</span></span></span>On March 14th, at 2:00 AM in the morning, two cars full of plain clothes men carrying automatic guns raided <a href="">Jalila Khamis's </a>house in Khartoum, while her husband, her children, and another 20 of Jalila’s relatives living with her after they fled the war in Nuba mountains few months earlier, were sleeping. Jalila was the one who opened the door and the men kidnapped her in seconds, still wearing her sleeping clothes, they took her to an unknown place. Jalila’s husband went in the morning and reported to the police the kidnapping of his wife. The police took no action, and the next day the National Security Services (NSS) called him and informed him that his wife was detained in the political division of the NSS and he must bring her clothes. </p> <p>From that day in March 2012 until this moment when I am writing this article, Jalila has remained in detention. She has been through many painful experiences during her detention period. In the first five days she was subjected to very long hours of investigation, and then kept in solitary confinement in a cell for four months. All the other women human rights defenders who were detained in the period from June to August for their participation in the protests were released. Jalila has remained in detention to face five charges or accusations that could lead to a death sentence. Since her detention she has developed health problems and now suffers from high blood pressure . </p> <p>Jalila's main crime was supporting her people, and helping them survive the war conditions after they fled from their homes carrying nothing. Jalila hosted in her house twenty or thirty people who had fled the war in the Nuba mountains, her homeland (she is originally from Buram locality in the South of Nuba mountains). She was very sad and deeply affected by the suffering of her people; she decided to do something to help them, but because she couldn't afford to feed thirty people at once, she called for help and she spoke on a social media <a href="">video</a> about the situation in the Nuba mountains. She called for peace for the sake of the innocent people, and she condemned the indiscriminate bombing of the Sudanese government. She talked about the young children who had fled their homes, barefoot and without their parents. </p> <p>Jalila is accused of 'waging war against the state', under Article 51 of the 1991 Criminal Act, and of undermining the constitutional system, under Article 50. Both <a href="">charges</a> could lead to a death sentence.</p> <p>The war in Nuba mountains erupted in June 2011 after disputed elections in the region. The competing parties - the ruling the National Congress Party and the opposition and partner of the then ruling the Sudanese Peoples Liberation Movement “SPLM”-&nbsp; didn’t agree on the results of the elections. But the fighting in the region goes much deeper than that; Nuba ethnicity is one of the indigenous African ethnicities in Sudan, and is now one of the largest, following the secession of South Sudan in July 2011. The Nuba people fought with the South Sudanese in the 50 year civil war before the Peace Agreement of 2005 and the decision to hold a referendum in 2011 to determine the destiny of South Sudan. Under the Peace Agreement the people of the Nuba mountains were to hold a popular consultation to help them decide their future as a part of Sudan, especially the degree of independence of the local government from central government. But before this “popular consultation” took place the two parties started to <a href="">fight for control</a> of the rich region, which was to become the only oil producing region in Sudan after the secession of the South. </p> <p>The situation of Nuba women now is one of the most devastating stories of women's struggle to survive conflicts. Women are alone taking refuge in caves of the mountains, living side by side with snakes and scorpions, eating bugs and leaves, and risking their lives to bring some water or sorghums to feed their starving children while the Sudanese government air craft circulate in the sky, bombing everything moving on the ground. We observed that in the past two months most of the deaths and casualties have been women who took the risk of going out to try to cultivate some food, because the Sudanese government is preventing aid agencies from entering the area. </p> <p>In a recent report by the <a href="">Enough project</a> about the food security in the region, 81% of the households said they have only one meal a day, while none of them had one meal a day two years ago. Women also take risks to save their children from starving to death, so they walk for days to go to the refugee camps in South Sudan, and while they walk in the roads they face the dangers of rape and bombing. Rape and sexual violence is one of the daily stories of Nuba women. Entire villages had been raped by the Sudanese government militias, “even old women “ one eyewitness from Umhitan village said. “They are living under siege completely cut from the outside world. Women use tree leaves when they have their periods”, reported one Nuba woman activist who visited the region lately. </p> <p>Jalila spoke out very early last year about the situation in Nuba mountains - just 10 days after the war. And for her 7 minute video she has been detained for 9 months and is now facing a death sentence. This is the high price that this brave woman, Jalila Khamis, is paying for her courage and her support for her people, while the international community remains silent about all the atrocities and grave human rights violations the Sudanese government is committing every day in Nuba mountains, Blue Nile and Darfur . </p><p><em>Facebook and twitter campaign for Jalila freedom #Jalila8Months. </em></p><p><em><br /></em></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/anonymous/we-are-fed-up-power-of-new-generation-of-sudanese-youth-activists">We Are Fed Up! The power of a new generation of Sudanese youth activists </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/nazik-kabalo/call-of-sudanese-women-human-rights-defenders">The call of Sudanese women human rights defenders </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/amel-gorani/sudanese-women-demand-justice">Sudanese women demand justice </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/fatin-abbas/sudan-secession-resolving-divisions">Sudan secession: resolving divisions?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/hakima-abbas/are-women-occupying-new-movements">Are women occupying new movements?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/amina-mama/where-we-must-stand-african-women-in-age-of-war">Where we must stand: African women in an age of war</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/sara-abbas/sudan-lonely-road-for-women-mps-in-opposition">Sudan: a lonely road for women MPs in opposition </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/amel-gorani/on-record-women-in-south-kordofan">On the record: women in South Kordofan</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/amel-gorani/south-kordofan-activism-resilience-and-sacrifice">South Kordofan: activism, resilience and sacrifice </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/siham-rayale/narrating-peace-somaliland-women%E2%80%99s-experiences">Narrating peace: Somaliland women’s experiences</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/zainab-mhassan/somalia-call-for-sisterhood">Somalia: a call for sisterhood </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/khaita-sylla/senegalese-youth-taking-stand">Senegalese youth: taking a stand </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/patricia-daley/understanding-contemporary-violence-in-central-africa-militarism-race-and-gender">Understanding contemporary violence in Central Africa: militarism, race, and gender</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/lindsey-hilsum/is-that-what-we-fought-for-gaddafis-legacy-for-libyan-women">Is that what we fought for? Gaddafi&#039;s legacy for Libyan women</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/lyduine-ruronona/burundi-at-50-towards-governance-of-peace">Burundi at 50: towards a governance of peace</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/hoda-elsadda/narrating-arab-spring-from-within">Narrating the Arab spring from within</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/deniz-kandiyoti/disquiet-and-despair-gender-sub-texts-of-arab-spring">Disquiet and despair: the gender sub-texts of the &#039;Arab spring&#039; </a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Sudan </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 Sudan 50.50 Our Africa 50.50 newsletter Anonymous Thu, 08 Nov 2012 08:36:51 +0000 Anonymous 69237 at We Are Fed Up! The power of a new generation of Sudanese youth activists <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The recent protests in Sudan attest to the rise of a new generation of Sudanese youth activists. At the heart of this emerging political force is Girifna, a youth-led movement which has been using internet power, confrontational street tactics, and advocacy to stand up to the regime of Omar al-Bashir.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p>On Saturday June 16<sup>th</sup>, 2012, a group of students at the University of Khartoum in Sudan began a march from their dorms, in protest against austerity measures imposed by the government that have led to a staggering rise in the price of basic goods and services. <a href="" target="_blank">During the subsequent wave of protests</a> – which quickly grew to include calls for the toppling of the government – ordinary Sudanese citizens took to the streets in the capital Khartoum and in cities such as Kassala, Gedaref, and Sennar. These protests attest to the rise of a new generation of youth activists who are quickly emerging as a primary political force in Sudan. At the heart of this struggle is a movement by the name of <a href="" target="_blank">Girifna</a>, which was instrumental in broadening the revolt by mobilizing protesters, coordinating demonstrations and marches, and publicizing human rights violations perpetrated against demonstrators and activists.</p> <p>Girifna, which translates from Arabic as “we are fed up” or “we are disgusted,” was founded by a group of university students in October of 2009 in order to encourage citizens to vote in the run-up to the May 2010 elections. These elections – which were the first to be held in 21 years – were seen as a way to bring about nonviolent political change. However, they failed to achieve their goal. The ruling National Congress Party, which came to power in a military coup in 1989 and which is headed by Omar al-Bashir (who is wanted for crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Court for his role in the war in Darfur) remained in power despite allegations of corruption, intimidation and vote rigging by opposition parties.</p> <p>In the aftermath of the elections Girifna continued to push forward and organize for regime change. A Girifna activist who has chosen to remain anonymous (she will be referred to as Heba for the purposes of this article), explains, “We feel that the [NCP’s] ideology is the root cause of all [our] problems. We are a country of multiple cultures, multiple religions, multiple languages. We need to be governed in a way that accepts this diversity. These people are unable to accept diversity. Their ideology is imposing a supremacy of Arabism, Islamism…[it’s] an ideology of discrimination, of racism, and of manipulating religion to marginalize a lot of people in Sudan.” Heba insists that the secession of South Sudan in July of last year has done nothing to resolve Sudan’s problems. Even after secession, the country continues to be ethnically, culturally, and religiously diverse, and thus the regime’s ideology continues to be the main source of oppression. “This was one of our first demands, and it is still one of our first demands, that the NCP goes.”</p> <p>The movement is representative of today’s discontented Sudanese youth, who are “fed up” not only with the NCP’s brutal rule but also with the politics of the traditional opposition groups and parties. These parties – such as the National Umma Party, the Communist Party and the Democratic Unionist Party, among others – are highly sectarian in nature and dominated by an older generation of male politicians and activists. It is the failure of these parties to mount viable or effective resistance to the NCP throughout its 23 years of dictatorship that has prompted the rise of Girifna and other youth groups that have also sprung up in its wake. “The opposition parties have failed,” says Heba. “They’ve failed in opposition, they’ve failed when they were in power.” She adds that they have also consistently failed to take young people into account and to allow them to “be creative, to be innovative and to exercise leadership.”</p> <p>What marks Girifna apart from these older groups is not only its youthful constituency, but also the diversity of its membership. Girifna activists come from all parts of the country – from Khartoum, Darfur, the Nuba Mountains, eastern Sudan and, before secession, South Sudan. The movement has also successfully tapped into the talents and expertise of the huge population of young Sudanese living in the diaspora. Women have consistently played an important part as leaders of and participants in the movement. One of the recent protests coordinated by Girifna, which took place on Friday, July 13th, was named “<a href="" target="_blank">Kandake Protest</a>,” or the “the Protest of Strong Women,” which saw mothers, daughters, sisters and others taking to the streets against the regime. </p> <p>The contrast between Girifna and these older, more traditional opposition groups is also apparent in its tactics, which are characterized by fearlessness, creativity and innovation. The movement – which is decentralized in structure and led by volunteers based both in Sudan and in the diaspora – uses the internet extensively to organize and to raise awareness within the country and internationally, relying on a core base of activists, amateur bloggers and journalists to do so. As Heba notes, “we have really been at the forefront of new media over the last three years”. Through their <a href="" target="_blank">website</a>, their <a href="" target="_blank">Facebook page</a>, and Twitter, volunteers document the regime’s human rights violations, organize and publicize actions and protests, and campaign on behalf of political prisoners.&nbsp; </p> <p>One of the group’s most successful internet campaigns focused on Safia Ishag, a Girifna activist who was kidnapped and gang-raped by members of the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) in Khartoum after participating in a political protest in January of 2011. Members of Girifna recorded Ishag’s testimony about her rape and, with her permission, posted the video <a href="" target="_blank">online</a> in February of that year. The video (below), which received thousands of hits on Youtube, represented an unprecedented milestone for women in Sudan. While rape is known to be a weapon widely deployed by the regime against women (used most notoriously by regime-backed Janjaweed militias in the war in Darfur), it is considered deeply shameful for women to speak publicly about their violation. Safia Ishag’s testimony, therefore, represented an historic milestone for victims of the regime’s sexual violence, the first time a woman has publicly and unapologetically broken the barrier of silence to speak about her violation.</p> <iframe style="margin: 0 20px" width="420" height="315" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe> <p style="text-align: center; font-size: 80%;"><em>Ishag’s testimony</em> </p><p>The group’s internet presence has also been vital in the recent revolt in Sudan. Given the severe repression of the press and of free speech in the country, demonstrators participating in the protests relied heavily on Girifna’s internet presence to access information and coordinate actions. It was through the group’s Facebook page that the name for one of the largest protests, “Elbow-licking Friday” was coined, in reference to a statement that Bashir made that attempting to topple the regime was as fruitless as attempting to lick one’s elbow. In the run-up to the protest, which took place on June 30<sup>th</sup>, countless Girifna activists and sympathizers posted pictures of themselves, their friends, <a href="" target="_blank">their children</a> licking their elbows, in a show of contempt for Bashir’s statement. Since June, the group has continued to coordinate protests, including marches in support of political detainees and protests in solidarity with Darfur, among others. Since the beginning of the protests, membership on the group’s Facebook page has more than tripled; before the protests there were approximately 11,000 individuals subscribed to the page. Just over a month later there are almost 40,000 subscribers.</p> <p>But if Girifna has been effective online, it has been just as effective on the street in Sudan. “One of the things that distinguishes this movement from others,” says Heba, “is that from the beginning we were very confrontational with the regime.” Over the past three years, Girifna has regularly organized themed forums on political issues and youth forums on social justice issues (forums that are constantly raided by the police and the internal security services), distributed pamphlets criticizing the regime, undertaken door-to-door outreach, held anti-regime rallies in crowded city centers such as markets and transportation hubs, and spray painted anti-regime graffiti all over the capital.</p> <p>The movement’s tactics have been paying off in important ways. “If Girifna has done one thing,” says Heba, “it has managed to challenge and break the barrier of fear in Sudan”. Indeed, the group’s confrontational style and the fearlessness of its activists in standing up to state authorities have inspired many Sudanese to do the same. The protests that erupted in the wake of the government’s austerity measures, while largely spontaneous, testify to a new courage and determination on the part of average Sudanese to tackle the regime head-on. This is a state of mind that has by and large been nurtured and encouraged by Girifna activists over the past three years, and which is beginning to bear fruit on a widespread level.</p> <p>But the movement’s successes have come at a cost. In the recent wave of protests, for instance – in which at least 2,000 people have so far been arrested – individuals associated with Girifna have been heavily targeted by the police and security forces. Heba explains, “We’ve been the most targeted movement [for arrests] because we have a lot of members, and we have very visible members who have a presence on the street”. She continues, “Our main challenge right now is detentions, because they are a disincentive for the Sudanese nation generally, not just for us.” A <a href="" target="_blank">recent report</a> posted on Girifna’s website highlights the plight of detainees, many of whom have been denied legal representation and held in secret detention facilities, and some of whom have been beaten or tortured.</p> <p>Despite these obstacles, Heba says she has hope for the future, and dismisses pessimistic analysis in the western media that has tended to depict the recent protests in Sudan as insignificant in comparison to the “Arab Spring”. What is most encouraging, she notes, is that cracks are beginning to appear within the state’s very own security apparatus. She reports one friend witnessing the resignation of a member of the National Intelligence and Security Services, who gave up his job in protest at the treatment of detainees. Girifna recently posted a photograph of a <a href=";set=a.187972361227984.44922.125423854149502&amp;type=1&amp;theater" target="_blank">policeman</a> hiding his face and holding up a hand-written sign in support of protesters. Scuffles between members of the police and the security services have been reported, because of disagreements over the treatment of detainees.</p><p>“I personally am very optimistic for the future,” says Heba. “Change will come...The [NCP] has been in power for 23 years. It’s game over.” </p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/rawa-gafar-bakhit/women-in-sudanrevolts-heritage-of-civil-resistance">Women in #SudanRevolts: heritage of civil resistance</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/hakima-abbas/are-women-occupying-new-movements">Are women occupying new movements?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/deniz-kandiyoti/promise-and-peril-women-and-%E2%80%98arab-spring%E2%80%99">Promise and peril: women and the ‘Arab spring’</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/amel-gorani/sudanese-women-demand-justice">Sudanese women demand justice </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/amel-gorani/on-record-women-in-south-kordofan">On the record: women in South Kordofan</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Sudan </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 Sudan Civil society Democracy and government africa conflicts global voices online e-democracy africa & democracy 50.50 Gender Politics Religion Arab Region: The Dignity of Women 50.50 Our Africa 50.50 Editor's Pick Pathways of Women's Empowerment fundamentalisms secularism women's movements Anonymous Fri, 31 Aug 2012 07:32:15 +0000 Anonymous 67189 at Profiting from confusion: a management consultant's view of the NHS <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> A management consultant working in healthcare speaks out on what can be a cynical profession, thriving on the fear and uncertainty of clients. He forecasts a worrying future in which consultants play a central role as the NHS prepares itself for radical reforms. </div> </div> </div> <p><em>A management consultant working in healthcare speaks out on what can be a cynical profession, thriving on the fear and uncertainty of clients. He forecasts a worrying future in which consultants play a central role as the NHS prepares itself for radical reforms.</em></p><p>Rapid policy change often leads to pressure, confusion and uncertainty.&nbsp; And wherever you find management under pressure and uncertain about how to implement policy, you can bet there will be a management consultant knocking at the door, ready to speak with confidence about a suggested ‘way forward’ that will solve all of their problems.&nbsp; Many such consultants are experts in their field, and can save public money at an order of magnitude higher than any fees they charge.&nbsp; However, there are others who take advantage of uncertainty, regardless of their ability to improve the situation.</p><p>The NHS is proving fertile ground for such consultants as the health service prepares for the radical reforms set out in the Health and Social Care Bill, now passing through the Lords. Changes are already well underway ahead of the Bill’s passing, particularly in the creation of the new <a href="">Clinical Commissioning Groups</a> of GPs. On top of this, many hospitals are being forced to seek support in fighting against chronic underinvestment to make further ‘efficiencies’ and to <a href="">obtain Foundation Trust status by 2013</a>. </p> <p>I write as a graduate management consultant working in healthcare.&nbsp; I have no deeper knowledge of the NHS than what I have learned first-hand over the last six months of working in a ‘failing’ hospital and through actively following the policy debate.&nbsp; But I was shocked to find that many of my more senior colleagues were in a similar position. Many did not have any understanding of the nature or depth of the reforms being implemented, let alone their ideological underpinning.&nbsp; Most trumped up any previous knowledge they had of the workings of a hospital, and few seemed to have any deeper concerns about the nature of the work we were undertaking. </p> <p>I was in a hospital full of hard-working people, passionate about improving the service they deliver. But they live in a world of uncertainty, scared for their jobs and worn down by endless rounds of restructuring and laborious temporary fixes for aging, inefficient systems. On the whole, I found that they knew what their problems were and they were working to solve them. We consultants did little to help. We worked for the management, to whom the opinions of staff are often a revelation. And our objective, let’s not forget, was to encourage the hospital to continue to spend money on us.</p> <p>There are management consultants who add great value to the NHS.&nbsp; It is unfair to view all consultants as being jargon-touting suits intent on ‘headcount reduction’ (otherwise known as culling staff). The NHS does need to update some of its working practice, and many consultants, in a stable environment, would be well placed to offer advice on changes based on their extensive experience. But in an unstable environment the NHS will get exactly the sort of consultants it doesn’t need.&nbsp; By forcing through changes that the NHS does not have the time or capacity to implement, the government is forcing up spending on consultants.&nbsp; </p> <p>So what’s the alternative? Empowering leading experts from within the health service to make change happen. The government should have worked with these leaders from the outset to devise any large policy changes, and should now give them the mandate, support and freedom to help their peers bring about reform in a sustainable, cost effective manner.</p> <p>But it is clear that the government has <a href="">already alienated</a> many of the professionals who will have to play out its reforms on the ground. Forcing through changes without the support and leadership of those in the Health Service is clearly a mistake. The government must broker deals that empower and give a voice to the disenfranchised body of the Health Service. Leaving a power vacuum around the NHS will mean it is management consultants, not doctors, whose “mouths are stuffed with gold” to bring about these reforms.&nbsp;</p><div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> England </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item even"> Economics </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Science </div> </div> </div> uk uk England Democracy and government Economics Science OurKingdom debates the NHS Anonymous Mon, 13 Feb 2012 15:04:46 +0000 Anonymous 64164 at Terror strikes at Malawi's democratic protesters <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> In August, Stuart Weir wrote of the <a href=""> Malawi government crackdown</a> on the July protesters. Here, one of the participants in the protest movement reports on what has happened since in this terror campaign of murder, arson, beatings and oppression. He vividly describes the difficulties of holding the protest movement together, and the weak response of the UNDP and influential donor community to the crisis. </div> </div> </div> <blockquote><p><strong><em>The Constitution of Malawi</em></strong></p><p><em>This Constitution is founded upon the following underlying principles:-</em></p><p><em>i. All legal and political authority of the State derives from the people of Malawi and shall be exercised in accordance with this Constitution solely to serve and protect their interests.</em></p><p><em>ii. All persons responsible for the exercise of powers of State do so on trust and shall only&nbsp; exercise such power to the extent of their lawful authority and in accordance with their responsibilities to the people of Malawi.</em></p><p><em>iii. The authority to exercise power of State is conditional upon the sustained trust of the people of Malawi and that trust can only be maintained through open, accountable and transparent Government and informed democratic choice.</em></p></blockquote> <p>Despite the above principles upon which our Constitution is premised, Malawi suffers from an inequitable neo-patrimonialist paradigm, built upon a pervasive system of political patronage, compounded by systemic poverty, illiteracy and ignorance, which politicians are adept at mobilizing and exploiting.</p> <p>The Government of President Bingu wa Mutharika enjoyed a remarkable landslide victory in the 2009 General Elections following a turbulent first term characterised by his defection from the United Democratic Front (UDF), which had hoisted him into the Presidential driving seat and, with this divorce, creating a unique scenario wherein the incumbent President had no party in Parliament to support his policies and pass legislation necessary for his programs.</p> <p>The first term could thus be described as a political comedy which could have easily turned turned tragic but, despite being held in check by a rampant opposition, he achieved remarkable economic growth, made noticeable democratic advances and managed to address the perennial problem of persistent hunger with the help of some competent ministers. In February 2005, Mutharika also created his own party, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), which is now the governing party in Malawi.&nbsp;</p> <p>However, the political gloves were removed in his second term to expose the entrenched structural instabilities of Malawi's political order and the deep insecurities of incumbency.&nbsp;His second term has been a veritable litany of woes, ranging from muzzling the media, passing oppressive laws that violate the very spirit of the Constitution, shrinkage of political space for alternate views, inappropriate economic policies leading to acute foreign currency and fuel shortages, exacerbating economic woes through wanton profligacy and reckless expenditure, cutting off vital support by arbitrarily deporting the British High Commissioner - thereby alienating the international community - &nbsp;and, in so doing, jeopardising revenue inflow amounting to over 40% of the national budget, and imposing punitive taxes on essential goods and pro-poor services whilst refusing to curb governmental expenditure.</p> <h3>The petition</h3> <p>Faith-based groups, academics and civil society organisations (CSOs) all earnestly attempted to petition the government on these issues &ndash; urging the authorities to halt the descent towards authoritarian one party rule. But the government simply disregarded all such concerns, blithely continued upon its destructive path, and responded to growing discontent by threatening critics and harassing civil society activists. Civil society subsequently began to mobilise into a semblance of coherence that would be required to exert the necessary countervailing influence and change the current course towards catastrophe.</p> <p>The Human Rights Consultative Committee (HRCC) provided the umbrella under which various disparate groupings such as the faith communities, the Malawi Congress of Trade Unions (MCTU), the Institute for Policy Interaction (IPI) amongst others, gathered with a common cause &ndash; i.e., to convince the President and the government to become more accountable and responsive to the electorate.</p> <p>A petition highlighting key concerns and recommendations pertaining to economic and political governance was collectively drafted and, after having being endorsed by all the stakeholders, plans were laid to hold nationwide demonstrations during which the said petition would be delivered to various offices throughout the country for the direct attention of the President.</p><p><img src="" alt="" width="138" height="204" /></p> <h3>The demonstration</h3> <p>With the economic situation worsening by the day, thousands of people took to the streets on Wednesday, 20&nbsp;July 2011 in a series of marches that had been planned and advertised well in advance. Ironically, the same government that outlawed ex parte injunctions against any governmental action, applied through a proxy and obtained an ex parte injunction from a newly promoted judge (Chifundo Kachale) to stop the demonstrations from taking place. This blatant manipulation of the justice system fuelled widespread anger when it was announced to those gathered to march the next day, especially when the police used it to delay, harass, scatter and even beat demonstrators. As a result, mob violence inevitably broke out and buildings and property known to belong to the Presidential inner circle were looted and targeted for destruction. The police, in a typical show of unfettered brutality, used live ammunition against unarmed civilians to control the situation &ndash; and slaughtered 20 people with hundreds being seriously injured and arrested. But the point had been made, the corridors of power had been shaken,&nbsp; the power elites paused to lay out their plans to deal with this new perceived threat to their sense of complacency.&nbsp;</p><p><img src="" alt="" width="411" height="344" /></p> <h3>The ill-fated vigil of 17&nbsp;August, 2011</h3> <p>Days after the demonstration, the government remained unapologetic with the President using public speeches to issue obdurate threats such as, "I'll smoke you out&rdquo; against the organisers of the march. Arrest warrants for treason were issued for civil society leaders: Undule Mwakasungula, McDonald Sembereka, Rafiq Hajat and Benedict Kondowe, who promptly went to ground, but remain resolute in the face of Presidential threats to "smoke out" &nbsp;detractors. [Under executive powers, those accused of treason may be arrested and held without trial- <em>editors.</em>]</p> <p>The government was given until 17&nbsp;August 2011 to respond to the 17page petition that had been delivered in all the major cities after the march, but a positive response was noticeably absent, thereby making follow-up protests inevitable.&nbsp;The situation became even more confused by the army (Malawi Defence Force - MDF) threatening to march because their commander was summarily (retired) removed from his position and replaced with someone from the same tribe as Mutharika, who could thus be relied upon to exert greater control of the MDF. To make matters worse, the civil service were becoming more discomfited by the day, due to unpaid salary arrears whilst Mutharika graciously rewarded the police force with bonuses of MK60,000 each (blood money) for their performance (shooting unarmed civilians) on 20-21&nbsp;July 2011.</p> <p>Meanwhile, the First Lady, who may have been irritated by the petition mentioning her "salary" of MK1.2 million per month (backdated by 6 months) ostensibly for her charity work, went on public record by telling NGOs "to go to hell" at an opening ceremony for a health centre that was, ironically, built by an NGO! In the same speech, she is reported to have told the villagers that they had no need for fuel because they did not own vehicles and no need for foreign exchange because they did not engage in cross-border trade! According to her, the disturbances were largely being driven by NGOs and urban-based elites who were disgruntled by the success of the Mutharika regime. This cavalier arrogance drew widespread criticism from all quarters of society but Madame Callista remained trenchantly unapologetic!</p> <h3>The capitulation</h3> <p>The clock was ticking. The count down to the vigil scheduled for August 17&nbsp;was uppermost in the public mind. But the government continued stonewalling on the issues raised in the petition, preferring instead to issue veiled threats about dire consequences if the vigil went ahead. Rumours were rife about the "DPP Cadets", reinforced by a force of approximately 300 armed &nbsp;"mercenaries" who had ostensibly been imported from Zimbabwe, being unleashed on demonstrators who would be left totally defenceless without even a vestige of police protection.</p> <p>On 16&nbsp;August, the writer was visited by two young men, driving a hired car, who claimed to have penetrated a group formed by DPP functionaries to sow terror amongst dissidents by using various tactics, including&nbsp;<strong><em><span>burning offices and homes!</span></em></strong> They went on to say that a house had been specially rented for the terror team in Zingwangwa (a local suburb in Blantyre), from which all such operations would be coordinated. They then produced a list of names that were targeted for "special attention". This memory later returned to haunt the CSO Leaders when one of the men, Robert Chasowa, identified as the president of an activist group, Youth for Democracy &amp; Freedom (YDF), was found brutally murdered on the Polytechnic campus on Saturday, 24&nbsp;September 2011.</p> <p>On August 15, the Public Affairs Committee (PAC) held an interdenominational prayer meeting at the COMESA Hall in Blantyre where Bishop Zuza delivered a searing homily with great courage and conviction. He cautioned against rampant egotism and arrogance, apportioning blame and the disastrous consequences of creating strife in a peaceful society. The function was attended by President Mutharika who sat through the sermon with a stony face, but the cadre of DPP spokespersons were soon busy denigrating the sermon and demanding that the bishop apologise for thinly veiled insults allegedly levelled against the head of state.</p> <p><em>&ldquo;My dear brothers and sisters, the person who thinks and believes that he or she is perfect is actually the most stupid and foolish person. In Chichewa and Tumbuka we call such people as 'chitsiru chamunthu' (a veritable idiot) or 'chindere chakufikapo'. &nbsp;Do we want to be called 'chitsiru' or 'chindere' because we think and believe we&rsquo;re perfect and therefore we have all the best solutions for the storm that is passing through our country? Fellow Malawians, let us not become stupid people.&rdquo;</em></p> <p>On the same day, a group of activists and representatives from political parties went to the High Court in Blantyre to vacate an injunction that had been applied for by two "businessmen" (vendors) on the grounds that demonstrations disturbed their business and thus harmed their livelihoods. The fact that President Mutharika had spent the previous few days on a whistle stop tour of vendor markets, urging vendors to oppose and resist any demonstrations, was seen as probable cause and also the probable source of the funds and confidence with which two young vendors had lodged such an audacious application through a judicial system that is normally viewed with suspicion and antipathy by the informal sector.</p> <p>At the same time, the Southern Region Organising Committee was meeting at the office of the Institute for Policy Interaction, the de facto meeting place for the region since the commencement of the campaign, to finalise strategy and logistics for the vigil scheduled for August 17. During that meeting, one of the attendees, Billy Banda, received a telephone call from the chair of the Human Rights Consultative Committee, Undule Mwakasungula, who informed him that the the vigil had been called off due to the lack of security and police pressure. The main coordinating committee had instead opted to request a United Nations team that was currently on a fact-finding mission in Malawi, to facilitate dialogue between civil society and the government on issues raised in the petition.</p> <p>Needless to say, this caused tremendous discomfiture amongst the Southern Region Committee members, who saw it as a betrayal of the public confidence that had been vested in civil society and as such, undermining the very raison d'etre of CSOs. The meeting broke up in an atmosphere of gloom and despair and scheduled an emergency meeting at IPI for the morning of the next day.</p> <p>During the emergency meeting, a prominent lawyer, Ralph Kasambara, provided a legal overview and opinion on the quandary facing the committee; i.e., whether to proceed with the vigil or not? &nbsp;The meeting agreed that it would not be appropriate or, indeed, even feasible, "to go it alone" and members instead decided to hold a press conference to announce the postponement of the vigil (instead of cancellation &ndash; as had been suggested by the main committee) as well as the reasoning underpinning the decision and the setting of a specific future date (September 17) for the continuation of the event. It was hoped the subsequent press release would help to allay public perceptions of a "sell out"' by civil society leaders - &nbsp;though the ensuing backlash soon disproved that theory.</p> <h3>UN debriefing &amp; CONGOMA/HRCC explanatory meeting</h3> <p>The Council for NGOs in Malawi (CONGOMA), together with HRCC, called for a meeting of civil society leaders at Lilongwe Hotel on Saturday, August 20,&nbsp;which appeared to be an ideal forum to provide explanations and answers. The Southern Region Organising Committee were quite optimistic that all outstanding concerns would be allayed by their colleagues on the main committee and travelled eagerly 310 kilometres up to Lilongwe on the Friday. They&nbsp;arrived in Lilongwe at 19.00 hours that evening and rushed to attend a debriefing meeting that had been pre-arranged beforehand by the main committee with the UNDP Resident Representative, Richard Dictus, in order to ascertain what exactly was the role of the UN in the deferral of the vigil and how it came to be?</p> <p>They learned from Mr Dictus that the UN had become involved partly due to the coincidence that the fact finding mission happened to be in town at the time that the main committee had approached the UN for help in resolving an impending disaster that could occur as a result of the envisaged vigil. Mr Dictus was very quick to mention that the role of the UN was purely to facilitate a neutral space in which dialogue talks could take place in a peaceful and constructive manner. The UN was not thus playing a mediatory role as had been commonly perceived by the media and public - which was why the laborious UN procedures that normally preceded mediatory interventions had not been required in this case. These explanations partly satisfied the Southern Region Committee members.&nbsp;</p> <p>At the debriefing meeting the next morning, the CSO representatives were soon taken aback by the agenda, which allocated two precious hours to topics such as the background history and role of CONGOMA and of civil society in effecting change on the political terrain. The relevance of the agenda was soon queried in view of the fact that this was supposed to be a half day meeting and there were many weighty issues to be discussed. But the queries failed to make any impact on the organisers who proceeded throughout the entire meeting to meet every query, question and objection with adamant resistance. This resistance extended to the method and criteria used in (s)electing the CSO Dialogue Committee, who would be mandated to negotiate with Presidential Committee on Dialogue (PCD). A pre-determined list of names was projected onto the wall and passed with little alteration &ndash; largely due to Malawian culture and habitual public politeness. In view of the predominant focus on issues pertaining to economic/political (mis)governance in the Petition, It was quite obvious the chosen members of the dalogue committee did not possess the necessary depth of knowledge and expertise on the predominantly economic and political misgovernance issues raised &nbsp;by the petition and that the government PCD team would run rings around them - but that observation was submerged in the wave of collective mindlessness. It was a shocking display of the opacity and manipulation&nbsp; typical of party political meetings, but not in a Civil Society gathering.</p> <p>The climax came when coordinators for various activities were being (s)elected and IPI was chosen to be the National Coordinator for the vigil&nbsp; envisaged for 21&nbsp;September. This was the most dangerous task on the list and IPI admitted that much as it had been the base for the July 20&nbsp;demonstration and the ill-fated August 17&nbsp;vigil in the Southern Region, it did not have the capacity to handle coordination on a national scale in the absence of solid support from CSO members. The IPI Executive Director further went on to appeal that it was imperative to identify organisations who had the structural and financial capacity to handle such coordination as most CSOs were not up to that standard. This comment met with disapproval and the meeting broke up in an acrimonious&nbsp;manner. IPI, which was accused of "being too close to opposition political parties and having a different agenda" firmly resolved to wash its hands of any further involvement in organising such activities with HRCC &amp; CONGOMA and made it clear that any participation would henceforth be on a strictly personal basis.</p> <h3>The new Forum for Defence of Democracy</h3> <p>This resolution did not however preclude IPI from continuing on its quest for a responsive government and a small group of like minded people met at IPI on 25&nbsp;August to form the Forum for Defence of Democracy (FDD) as a pressure group to provide a bridge between CSOs, trade unions, political parties, academia, faith communities and any citizens with outstanding democratic convictions who were committed to the same ideals and vision as the forum.&nbsp;</p> <p>The FDD formative group won a very encouraging response from its consultations with key stakeholders, thereby raising hopes that the Forum would burst on the scene by mid October with a national coordination network in place. A meeting was held at IPI on August 30 to update all members on events that had occurred thus far. &nbsp;It was proposed that there would be two national cordinators &ndash; one from civil society, the other from the political parties. The meeting decided upon Rafiq Hajat (CSO) and Kamlepo Kalua (politician) as Joint National Coordinators. Rafiq Hajat was then mandated to introduce the FDD aims and objectives at an HRCC/CONGOMA meeting scheduled &nbsp;to be held in Lilongwe in&nbsp;September 2011, but not to commit the Forum to any organisational activities leading up to the national CSO vigil&nbsp; envisaged for&nbsp;September 20.&nbsp;</p> <h3>The terror campaign -&nbsp;arson attacks</h3><p><strong><img src="" alt="" width="340" height="368" /></strong></p> <p>This fateful FDD meeting might well have led to the calamity that followed. The IPI offices were torched by arsonists on the night of September 2.&nbsp;&nbsp;The fire, fed by all the archives, books, furniture and carpets, swept through the building and gutted it completely &ndash; destroying years of records, information resources and priceless research materials. It was wanton destruction and brought back echoes of the presidential threats to "smoke you out" &ndash; for one cannot have smoke without fire.</p> <p>This incident raised an outcry from Malawian society and the CSO community issued a warning that such behaviour could seriously affect the ongoing dialogue with government. But the international community, including the UN Resident Representative, Richard Dictus, remained strangely silent in the face of this blatant display of terror which would normally be be regarded as an incontestable violation of human rights&ndash; even when the Presidential Spokesperson, Heatherwick Ntaba, in alleged outrageously that the fire was self-inflicted &ndash; ostensibly to destroy evidence of misappropriation of donor funds provided to IPI for pro-gay demonstrations. This message was then consistently&nbsp; brayed through all public media until a seed of doubt has been sown in the minds of the public &ndash; especially since the IPI management properly remained silent on the issue for the police to complete their investigations and for the case to be heard in court. IPI has now sued Dr. Ntaba for defamation and slander in en effort to exonerate itself from such malicious misinformation.</p> <p>But the silence from Malawi's international donor community [an influential group in Malawian politics- <em>editors</em>] has had an effect, for it appears to have convinced the DPP thugs that their terrorist behaviour is being condoned and they have continued in a rampage of arson and murder. The homes of the Reverend Macdonald Sembereka, the National Coordinator of HRCC, and of Salim Bagus, a prominent opposition politician in Lilongwe and the Blantyre flea market, were petrol bombed on September 10 and on September 18. &nbsp;Worse was yet to follow.</p> <h3>The terror campaign &ndash; beatings</h3> <p>Dennis Bisika, the lead organiser of the September 20&nbsp;vigil for Zomba was attacked late in the afternoon at Ndindeya Motel as he was having a late lunch.&nbsp; A team of &nbsp;six party cadets from the ruling DPP, driving in a Toyota Hilux double cab, registration number ZA 9622 (silver in colour),&nbsp; swarmed into the place where they closed both the main gate and the door to the restaurant. They reportedly charged Bisika with being among those critics giving sleepless nights to Bingu and said that they had been sent to teach him a lesson &nbsp;As they began to&nbsp;assault Dennis, he managed to escape through another door. At this time, the assailants also moved outside to smash his vehicle, but when they saw a big crowd approaching (reportedly after the bar attendant had mobilised them), the assailants quickly drove away.</p> <p>Dennis has sustained scratches in the legs and arms and strained his left knee as he fell during his escape. Fortunately, four people have been identified as follows: Mr Bamusi - DPP Director for Youth - Eastern Region; and DPP youth members Phinious; Daniel Nanthambwe; and Lawrence Kandiziwa (also reportedly assistant to Hon Yunus Mussa, who is also reported to be the owner of the car they were driving).</p> <p>The assault was duly reported to the police who gave Bisika a letter for him to access treatment at the hospital. However, the role of the police in the affair seems suspect to the extent that people are speculating that they might have been aware beforehand about this attack.&nbsp;Firstly, it is reported that the Zomba police spokesperson, Tomeck Nyaudi, came to the scene towards the end of the attack. Barely a few minutes later, a team of 15 police officers walking on foot also arrived. Finally, before the matter was even reported, one CID officer had already started interrogating Ndindeya personnel about the incident. Indeed, it is rather unusual that the 15 police officers were not a Rapid Response Unit, which ordinarily would have used a vehicle for transportation and further, in view of capacity and resource limitations, it is highly unusual to see 15 police officers rushing to a crime scene together.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <h3>The terror campaign - murder</h3><p><strong><img src="" alt="" width="374" height="259" /></strong></p> <p>The terrible month went from bad to worse. On Saturday, September 24, a Polytechnic student was found dead at the campus with his head almost split in two according to eye witnesses. The death of the student, Robert Chasowa, who was in fourth year engineering, was deemed suspicious by the students at the campus, as he had been very critical of President Bingu Wa Mutharika and was also apparently being hunted by the CID.&nbsp;</p> <p>It is reported that the police had come to the campus looking for him for his role in an anti-Mutharika grouping, Youth for Democracy &amp; Freedom, which releases the weekly <em>Political Update</em>. The publication minces no words in condemning Mutharika&rsquo;s dictatorship. In one of its publications, the YFD published details of DPP's sinister doings, including the names of the arsonists (led by DPP Governor Masangwi and DPP Cadet Leader Ngalande) who had allegedly petrol bombed IPI's offices.</p> <p>The death of the student came just days after police raided the home of 21 year old Black Moses, President of the YDF, whisking him away to an unknown location where he was apparently being questioned over a one-page article that used critical language against Mutharika&rsquo;s authoritarian rule. Black Moses is now apparently incarcerated at Chichiri prison and efforts are being made to find out what charges he faces.</p> <p>According to eye-witnesses, Robert Chasowa looked as if he had been thrown approximately eight to 15 metres off a tall building but one eye witness, who refused to be &nbsp;named, stated, "it's a murder, he never jumped, because no part of his body bones has been broken. He is a political victim&hellip;.because he has been a staunch critic of Mutharika via the Youth for Freedom and Democracy in which he was the Vice President".</p> <p>Students at the campus were not fully aware of the incident at the time of writing this article, but there are strong indications of a major misunderstanding between the police and students, as anger brewed among students waking up to the news. Students at the college and the police have crossed paths in recent months, and the news of the student being found mysteriously dead certainly exacerbated the tension even further. There was no immediate comment from the police but it is understood that investigations are underway trying to establish the cause of the death.</p> <p>It is now Sunday, September 25, 2011. This is a month that we will remember with horror whilst we await the next atrocity with bated breath &ndash; because we now know that the campaign of terror will not cease until all opposition and dissent, whether real or perceived, has been extinguished amidst a miasmic fog of fear reminiscent of 1964. The only hope left now, is that the awakened spirit of the Malawian populace, which has learnt to speak out and express their discontent against the implacable wielders of power, will not be stifled but instead swell into an irresistible crescendo that is impossible for any government to ignore and in so doing, bring about the change that we all dream about &ndash; A Better Malawi For All Malawians!</p><p><img src="" alt="" width="188" height="277" /></p> Anonymous Thu, 29 Sep 2011 12:41:49 +0000 Anonymous 61673 at Will the spirit of spring come to cyberspace? <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Anonymous and LulzSec represent a real change in the politics of cyberspace. The networked power at the hands of the hackers may show itself to be the equal of people power on the streets</p> </div> </div> </div> <span style="text-align:center; display:block;"><object width="425" height="349"><param name="movie" value=";rel=1&amp;fs=1&amp;showsearch=0&amp;showinfo=1&amp;iv_load_policy=1" /><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true" /><param name="wmode" value="opaque" /><embed src=";rel=1&amp;fs=1&amp;showsearch=0&amp;showinfo=1&amp;iv_load_policy=1" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowfullscreen="true" wmode="opaque" width="425" height="349"></embed></object></span><p>In February the Newsnight economics editor Paul Mason <a href="" target="_blank">very succinctly laid out</a> the radically different nature of recent popular uprisings across North Africa, the Middle East and Europe compared to earlier political movements, and the economic and sociological reasons behind it. This incisive blogpost rang true for many of those involved in those social movements, articulating, as it did, a new sentiment and new political priorities amongst those populations. The short article sketched out a more cohesive image which the media in general was missing, partly through structural failings, but largely because events were unfolding at speed and trying to drag the chaotic events into an understandable analysis was difficult.</p> <p>Running alongside the (still unfolding) Arab Spring, informing and shaping and being shaped in turn by those events, was a developing online conflict with major similarities; young, optimistic graduates who saw societies in more generalised terms of &ldquo;power&rdquo;, highly networked, informal and decentralised decision making processes and a deep cynicism and mistrust of traditional power elites and political ideologies. In the last month especially we&rsquo;ve seen a series of events and developments that are changing the game of cyber-war (and cyber-class-war).</p> <p>So what&rsquo;s going on in cyberspace? What we&rsquo;re seeing is a significant escalation in serious geo-political combat, and the mainstream press has failed in it&rsquo;s coverage so far. Perhaps years of rehashing press releases have left many hacks without the critical journalistic capabilities to monitor, study, explain and contextualise the recent events of the cyber-war, leaving the majority of the populace completely in the dark as to what&rsquo;s happening, and how governments and (unelected) transnational organisations are investing significant resources in an attempt to limit online freedoms.</p> <p>Make no mistake- this is not a minor struggle between state nerds and rogue geeks- this is the battlefield of the 21st Century, with the terms and conditions of war being configured before our very eyes. Given the significant economic disruption online activism and hacking can cause, and the power online tools have to agitate, plan and execute IRL activism, the current increase in tensions between hackers and the capital/state partnership is every bit as significant as the continuing developments of the Arab Spring, with which the online activist movements are inextricably linked. Below we have laid out a brief overview of recent events. This list is necessarily partial, given the complexity, history and depth of the situation, and we are by no means experts in the field; we would recommend people use it as a jumping off point to help get more educated (we have heavily hyperlinked the text FYI). Get googling.</p> <p>1. At the heart of it is a newly politicised generation of hackers who have moved from a lulz-based psychic-economy to an engaged, socially-aware and politically active attitude towards world events, primarily as a reaction to the way governments and multinationals dealt with the fallout of Wikileaks. The &ldquo;politicisation of 4chan&rdquo; and the birth of Anonymous have set the stage for a practice of socially-engaged hacktivism of a form and scale we&rsquo;ve not seen before.</p> <p>2. This new &ldquo;political hacktivist&rdquo; class are digital natives and have become evangelised by passing through the immoral free-for-all of <a href="" target="_blank">4chan</a>, to the development of a political critique and political programme through Anonymous.</p> <blockquote>&ldquo;this is the digital natives striking back here<br /> people that live, eat, breathe and sleep on the internet&rdquo;<br /><em>(quoting from the lulzsec irc channel yesterday)</em></blockquote> Digital natives are radicalised primarily by the threat to their internet freedom, with the continued shift in policy by global governments against the assumed freedoms of the net (<a href="" target="_blank">laid out in the past</a>). A natural by-product will be the continued radicalism of youth online. <p>3. Much like the IRL uprisings in Africa, Middle East and Europe, there&rsquo;s a generational aspect to the way this conflict is playing out&ndash; although, like those uprisings, this is as much a symptom as a cause. A generation bought up on MTV, fed an endless stream of sophisticated advertising, naturally trained in memetic exchange, are going to know <a href="" target="_blank">how to fight an infowar</a> much more instinctively, and hence at greater speed and adaptability. An IRL manifestation being the role of the &ldquo;citizen journalist&rdquo; in the age of <a href=";" target="_blank">old media&rsquo;s death rattle</a>.</p> <p>4. For net natives, there&rsquo;s a definite sense of an international, borderless identity, whereby on a day-to-day level national borders hold less and less meaning. If your interactions with a fellow computer users are the same whether they live in London, Texas or Cairo, the narratives of national difference start to break down. Instead, they define according to their roles and activities online, and their values and political beliefs: a new, international class of immateriality, with all the repercussions of online solidarity that holds.</p> <p>5. This erosion of borders has manifested itself strongly in the way newly radicalised hacktivists related to the unfolding events of the Arab Spring. As Paul Mason points out in his blogpost &ldquo;People have a better understanding of power. The activists have read their Chomsky and their Hardt-Negri, but the ideas therein have become mimetic: young people believe the issues are no longer class and economics but simply power.&rdquo; This highly problematic retreat from a fundamentally economic analysis has, despite it&rsquo;s problems, enabled a casual ease with which the issue of international solidarity is approached.</p> <p class="image-center"><span class="image-caption"><img title="hackers1" src=";h=366" alt="" width="500" height="366" /></span></p> <p>6. There is a growing understanding of the infrastructure and fabric of the internet as a whole by a younger generation that grew up believing that decentralised infrastructure / free speech and the free sovereignity of the net was a given. That pioneer generation is now finding out that those ideals were only utopian notions afforded to them as result of governments slow ability to act and control the flow of data. As an (admittedly simplistic) example, whole organising infrastructures of UK activist and student groups were shut down wholesale during the recent <a href="" target="_blank">purge of facebook groups</a>.</p> <p>7. There is an intensity of feedback that fuels the fire. Realtime results can be measured by everyone on the global stage, leading to a fueling of the ego of a close-knit group of hackers who are <a href="" target="_blank">dropping the share price</a> of a multi-billion pound corporation like Sony because it dared to assault the hacker ethic, <a href="" target="_blank">one hack at a time</a>.<br /> This is sometimes matched by morale-boosting donations, such as with <a href="" target="_blank">LulzSec</a>, who yesterday received upwards of <a href="" target="_blank">$7000 in bitcoins.</a></p> <p>Not since the <a href=""> saga</a> of 1990s has the ability existed for real time participation in the dropping of a corporations share price been <a href="" target="_blank">so readily available</a>.</p> <p>8. We are seeing the splintering of &ldquo;hackers group&rdquo; Anonymous into multiple manifestations that display a more comprehensive understanding of hacking techniques (although in many cases exploiting relatively low level techniques such as SQL injections; we&rsquo;re certainly yet to see the use of computer science III).</p> <p>These emergent groups are able to carry out sustained and targeted attacks under a rebrand of sorts, a multiplicity of approach that cannot be assigned entirely to the collective identity of Anonymous. This often allows group to act without the need to deal with moralfaggotry.</p> <p>9. Anonymous is breaking apart but only in the sense that the media&rsquo;s depiction of a grand narrative for the &ldquo;hacking movement&rdquo; ever held any truth. Anonymous as a group has always been inherently pluralistic with a healthy but constant wave of fail raids.<br /> What creates this logical divergence from a single hive mind is the shift from a necessity for op in botnet assemblies, facilitated through the use of LOIC (Low Orbit Ion Cannon), with the DDoS now relegated to just another tool in a growing arsenal of a disparate emergent hackers movement.</p><p><span style="text-align:center; display:block;"><object width="425" height="349"><param name="movie" value=";rel=1&amp;fs=1&amp;showsearch=0&amp;showinfo=1&amp;iv_load_policy=1" /><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true" /><param name="wmode" value="opaque" /><embed src=";rel=1&amp;fs=1&amp;showsearch=0&amp;showinfo=1&amp;iv_load_policy=1" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowfullscreen="true" wmode="opaque" width="425" height="349"></embed></object></span></p><p>10. The continued evolution of Operation Payback demonstrates both the power of this hacktivism, and how underdeveloped defence systems are. Op Payback was launched back in September 2010 as a reaction to the hiring of Aiplex Software by Bollywood movie rights holders, for the purpose of DDoSin&rsquo; <a href="" target="_blank">The Pirate Bay</a> for copyright infringment. During the first wave of attacks a large number of anons originating from 4chan targeted <a href="" target="_blank">RIAA,</a> <a href="" target="_blank">MPAA</a> and <a href="" target="_blank">ACS:LAW</a> in a revenge attack in defence of internet sovereignty.<br /> The operation evolved into a targeted attack on a series of laws firms who had targeted file sharers with legal threats. ACS:LAW was the worst hit when their database was leaked online leading to the <a href="" target="_blank">demise of the company</a>.<br /> These attacks continued, targeting, amongst others, <a href="" target="_blank">Sarah Palin</a> and Gene Simmons.</p> <p>With the advent of the Wikileaks Cablegate saga we saw an escalation of Op Payback, in defence of the organisation with the creation of hundreds of mirrors for the site, the alternative dissemination of leaks and the attack on those that had withdrawn services to the organisation as a result of state pressure.<br /><a href=";a=item&amp;i=983" target="_blank">The operation</a> has again shifted gears with it now focusing on the <a href="" target="_blank">PROTECT IP Bill.</a></p> <p>11. Beyond Anonymous and hacktivism there exists a greater threat, and despite the reaction of Anonymous to the rhetoric of the Pentagon, much of the new mantra being espoused by governments globally relates to the first age of real cyber warfare. With entire parts of infrastructure now plugged into the network, there exists a real threat and possibility for hacker/cyberattack based offensives across borders. We saw this during the South Ossetia War in 2008, when <a href="" target="_blank">Georgia suffered extensive damage from cyberattack</a>, or in the ongoing standoff between Iran and the US/Israel, where the US/Israel succeeded in feeding <a href="" target="_blank">Stuxnet, a worm</a>, into the Iranian nuclear programme infrastructure.</p> <p>12. Governments are responding with a conscious and concerted effort to reframe cyber activity and activism as criminality against state and capital, which, no doubt, will soon be upgraded to a form of terrorism. This bears analogies to similar reframing of narratives around workers movements throughout the 19th and 20th Century, not least the &ldquo;strategy of tension&rdquo; in Italy in the 1970s.</p> <p>The eG8 summit, held at the end of May, was part of this restructuring of the official relationship between State and Net. Nicholas Sarkozy spoke to attendees (including Mark Zuckerberg) on the cultural repercussions of Facebook et al, but his speech betrayed a more pointed message for those who seek IRL change through virtual means, as reported on <a href=";task=view&amp;id=651&amp;Itemid=9" target="_blank">IPtegrity-</a></p> <blockquote>&ldquo;The Internet is &lsquo;not a parallel universe stripped of morals and all of the fundamental principles which govern society in democratic countries&rsquo;, he said.<br /> &hellip;<br /> &lsquo;Don&rsquo;t let the technology that you have forged&hellip;the revolution that have started [sic] &hellip; carry along the bad things without any brakes, don&rsquo;t let it become an instrument in the hands of thow [sic] who would attack our security and therefore our liberty and our integrity.&rsquo;</blockquote> <p>13. The Pentagon have declared cyberterrorism and cyberattacks as a <a href="" target="_blank">conventional attack of war, with the right for reprisals.</a></p> <p>14. NATO have also begun to redefine the parameters of war in relation to cyber attacks and acts of &ldquo;cyberterrorism&rdquo;, declaring conventional retalliation to acts of &ldquo;cyberwarfare&rdquo; to be legitimate. The Information and National Security subsection of the <a href="" target="_blank">NATO Spring Report</a> this year is focused very specifically on Cablegate and Anonymous as known identities. This is the first time a NATO report has cited the existence of Anonymous.</p> <p>&ldquo;Observers note that Anonymous is becoming more and more sophisticated and could potentially hack into sensitive government, military, and corporate files.&rdquo;</p> <p>In the same paragraph it is suggested that &ldquo;It remains to be seen how much time Anonymous has for pursuing such paths. The longer these attacks persist the more likely countermeasures will be developed, implemented, the groups will be <a href="" target="_blank">infiltrated and perpetrators persecuted</a>.&rdquo;</p> <p>15. Anonymous reacted directly to the Spring Report and <a href=";a=item&amp;i=1001" target="_blank">&ldquo;declared war on NATO&rdquo;</a>. Perhaps you may think this is the idle threat of basement dwellers, but NATO certainly don&rsquo;t. Things are changing at unprecedented speed in the infowar.</p> <p class="image-center"><span class="image-caption"><img title="anonymous" src=";h=376" alt="" width="500" height="376" /></span></p> <p>16. Anonymous have started to engage in more active outreach programmes, such as bootcamp training. This is of particular importance for the generation that grew up online or politicised through anonymous and 4chan, many who were drawn to the &ldquo;movement&rdquo; with more radical inclinations and have had the time now to develop a deeper understanding of hacking tools etc&hellip; or at very least become adept skiddys.</p> <p>Much of this is basic advice for how to look after yourself online, a form of practical mutual aid analogous to the protest handbooks distributed by Anonymous during the North African uprisings; rather than advice on how to build a shield to protect yourself against watercannon, these &ldquo;bootcamps&rdquo; feature advice on how to use <a href="" target="_blank">proxies</a> and <a href="" target="_blank">encrypt data</a>, for example.</p> <p>17. Governments worldwide are now entering a race to <a href="" target="_blank">mass-recruit cyberwarriors</a> in order to bolster cyberdefense, with UK security services launching the &ldquo;<a href="" target="_blank">Cyber Security Challenge</a>&rdquo; as an attempt to create an <a href="" target="_blank">army of white hats.</a></p> <p>18. <a href="" target="_blank">Lulzsec</a> is the fastest growing and <a href="" target="_blank">most prolific</a> hacking group the internet has seen in recent years, having <a href="" target="_blank">single-handedly declared war</a> by attacking an FBI affiliated website <a href="" target="_blank">Infragard</a>.</p> <p>Yesterday Lulzsec&rsquo;s twitter account jumped from hundreds to 75,000 followers. Lulzsec is fundamentally representative of the evolution loosely drawn out in previous points. They appear to descend if only in lulzy rhetoric from the likes of <a href="" target="_blank">Goatse Security</a>, the <a href="" target="_blank">GNAA</a> and <a href="" target="_blank">Gnosis</a>.</p> <p>19. Despite the enormous presumed weighting in favour of the authorities, hackers still hold primacy, and that&rsquo;s what gives the situation such political potency. When the white hat security firm HBGary Federal attempted to create an expose of the true face of Anonymous they were swiftly shut down by a sustained assault by anonymous that clearly demonstrated their abilities, illustrating the inherent security flaws created by <a href="" target="_blank">human complacency.</a></p> <p>20.Hackers are upping their game to match the rhetoric used against them; indeed, in the past few years security breaches have shown the potential weaknesses in systems that could, in future, be exploited as part of war. Today, however, hackers are, essentially, exploiting those breaches. When a group makes a &ldquo;significant and tenacious&rdquo; attack on a lynchpin of the military-industrial complex like <a href="" target="_blank">Lockheed Martin</a>, talks of &ldquo;potential&rdquo; cyberwar become a thing of the past. We have arrived, we are deep within the first cyberwar.</p> <p>As a hacker <a href="" target="_blank">wrote last Saturday</a>, &ldquo;We all know that cyberspace has come to an intense moment of confrontation; it will become more and more difficult to focus on the very reasons of the conflict opening, as the fog of war is rising.&rdquo; We are no experts in the field, but given the increased tempo and ever thicker &ldquo;fog of war&rdquo; we felt these events and organisations need wider discussion. Developing a general public understanding of these issues is vital if we are to prevent governments manipulating our understanding of events in order to suppress the sovereignty of the internet.The hacker cause, if such a thing can be pinned down, must surely be opening up the free flow of all information as widely as possible.</p> <p>The mainstream media are proving incapable or unwilling to contextualise, to bring light to complicated, discreet and hidden worlds and languages; whilst they dither on the Assange personality cult, and whether it&rsquo;s possible to be both a liberal messiah and a rapist simultaneously, governments are writing the script for the next decade of online repression. Equally, those currently engaged in online skirmishes should at least heed <a href="" target="_blank">examples from the past.</a></p> <p>We must educate ourselves, but beyond this we must engage practically in the application of the tools we currently have. As the events unfolding begin to accelerate at a pace not unlike the Arab Spring, we should look to the technologies and networks that are being developed such as <a href="" target="_blank">diaspora</a>, a p2p <a href="" target="_blank">DNS</a>, <a href="" target="_blank">flattr</a> and <a href="" target="_blank">bitcoin</a>. There is a necessity now to understand the implication of such projects and the pursuit of their pragmatic ideals, so that we can begin to push the current trajectory of the net away from ever-increasing control and surveillance and towards a liberatory project of free information exchange.</p><p><em>Cave</em> Anonymous' mantra:</p><p>"Knowledge is free.<br /> We are Legion. We do not forgive. We do not forget. Expect us."</p><p><em><a href="" target="_blank">DSG: Ebaumsworld Division</a></em></p> <fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>This piece was originally published by the <a href="">Deterritorial Support Group</a></p> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item even"> International politics </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Internet </div> </div> </div> uk Conflict International politics Internet Networked Society Anonymous Internet Security Sat, 25 Jun 2011 16:30:51 +0000 Anonymous 60151 at Saving Sakineh <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> This is a tragedy that belongs to modern powerplay and the current moment, and that calls for a much more thoughtful response from outside observers </div> </div> </div> <p>In the west, those tragedies occasionally flicker across our front pages or perform a brief morbid dance on our television screens.<br /> <br /> But it is difficult to understand how they infuse Iranian culture, politics, and every day life.<br /> <br /> The stoning of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, a 43 year old woman sentenced to death for allegedly committing adultery, is just one manifestation of the horror faced by Iranians who’ve fallen foul of the government. Her case is particularly heart rending, and worthy of international attention, because of her son’s desperate<a href=""> plea</a> to the world to save his mother. <br /> <br /> In May 2006 Sakineh was accused of having an ‘illicit relationship’ with two men after the death of her husband, who was allegedly murdered. Sakineh received 99 lashes as punishment; but when the trial for her husband’s death opened, the main suspect accused Sakineh of having an affair whilst her husband was still living - a more severe crime. Sakineh confessed to adultery, but later <a href="">retracted</a> her confession on grounds of duress. <br /> <br /> Under article 71 of Iran’s penal <a href="">code</a>, the punishment for adultery is listed as ‘killing or stoning’. Adultery can be proven by either ‘four just men, or three just men and two just women’. In other words, the testimony of a woman is of less value than - and needs the corroboration of - a man. <br /> <br /> It perhaps comes as no surprise then that mercy for this woman was slow in arriving; her appeals for pardon were twice rebuffed. But what more do we know of the country that condemned her to such a fate, and of the laws that Foreign Office Minister Alistair Burt has lambasted as ‘medieval’? What lies beyond the media’s telescopic lens?<br /> <br /> First, of course, is the reality that many Iranians themselves abhor the penal code that governs their country. The iconic images of Iranians marching against Ahmadinejad’s regime have probably seared this into the minds of many outside observers. Too often, however, the dissent evident in Iran’s more ‘traditional’ spheres - such as the clerical establishment - often slips by unnoticed. In fact, the former head of the judiciary Ayatollah Shahroudi <a href="">decreed</a> in 2002 that stoning should no longer be used as a method of execution, although it was never officially removed from criminal law. <br /> <br /> To see Sakineh as a victim of archaic, misogynist, and unchanging Islamic law thus misses the complexity of Iran, Islam, and how they intersect. Not all Iranians, including politicians and clerics, think that Islamic tenets are atemporal and unyielding. Sakineh is the hostage of a particular government - Ahmadinejad’s - that seeks to revive the crudest interpretation of Sharia laws in the interest of maintaining an arguably waning powerbase. Many Iranians have fought to reconcile those laws with more modern concepts of justice and equality in recognition that the world that they live in - and that their state must seek to govern in - has changed dramatically since the days of Mohammad. Thus, until recently, the Islamic Republic juddered toward reform, slowly cutting back on the dogmatic debris of its early revolutionary days. For example, birth <a href="">control</a> is now legal and widely available and divorce and custody <a href="">laws</a> have been amended to provide for greater (though by no means perfect) equality. The issue of stoning in particular has been the subject of <a href=";cid=46">criticism</a> in Iran for years, both by clerics and high profile human rights activists like Shirin Ebadi<strong>. </strong><br /> <br /> Such efforts undoubtedly threaten Ahmadinejad and his cronies, whose hardline attitudes are increasingly out of tune with a well-educated and youthful population. Dramatic and barbaric events like stonings are thus not merely some sort of medieval throwback as depicted in the media. They are responses to the currents of change in contemporary Iranian society, very modern powerplays that seek to assert a particular brand of Islam over interpretations that risk overtaking it. <br /> <br /> Sakineh’s fate has received the international outcry it deserves. The fate of countless other prisoners facing execution in Iran has not. While it is not clear whether she will still face the death penalty, Iran’s London embassy now says that Sakineh will <a href=";lid=ARTICLE_15661465_Iran_Stoning_Execution%3A_Aut">not </a>be stoned. Today, however, <a href="">another</a> young woman - Zeynab Jalalian - is on death row in Iran. Her execution is expected imminently. Accused of waging war against god for her alleged ties to an armed Kurdish group, she does not slip so easily into our oft-repeated platitudes about Iran: a country that despises sexual deviance, a place where women are helpless, naked victims of religious brutality. What of the countless others accused of political dissent, violence, even terrorism? Are their deaths less shocking, more justified? <br /> <br /> While Sakineh’s horrific story was instantly recognizable to a Western audience inundated with stories of misogynistic violence in Iran, Zeynab’s doesn’t resonate with us. It requires a deeper understanding of Iran’s long and turbulent relationship with Kurdish activists. It asks us to look carefully at the forms of (often under -reported) resistance directed at the Islamic Republic. It demands tough judgement calls, like whether the use of violence against the state is ever legitimate. It asks us to look carefully at the reasons why men and women like Zeynab might take up arms against the government. In short, it doesn’t make for a headline. <br /> <br /> Sakineh’s story should be an invitation to think about the countless in Iran who face retribution for being different, not an opportunity to bang out more crude analysis about a backward, medieval state. An <a href="">editorial</a> in today’s Guardian called Sakineh’s sentence ‘brutality, pure and simple’. Pure brutality, yes. But simple? Tragedies never are. </p><div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Iran </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Equality </div> <div class="field-item even"> International politics </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 Iran Conflict Democracy and government Equality International politics iran: how to avoid war? 50.50 Gender Politics Religion bodily autonomy feminism fundamentalisms gender gender justice patriarchy violence against women women and power women's human rights Anonymous Fri, 09 Jul 2010 12:45:48 +0000 Anonymous 55070 at Anonymous <div class="field field-au-term"> <div class="field-label">Author:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Anonymous </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-au-surname"> <div class="field-label">Surname:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Anonymous </div> </div> </div> <p>Author withheld.</p><div class="field field-au-shortbio"> <div class="field-label">One-Line Biography:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Author withheld. </div> </div> </div> Anonymous author Anonymous Fri, 26 Mar 2010 13:15:14 +0000 Anonymous author and Anonymous 52425 at An unfortunate accident: violence in Ahmadinejad’s Iran <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> In the wake of the contested Iranian election, Ahmadinejad's regime is seeking to silence political dissent through coercion and arbitrary imprisonment - where men as well as women are vulnerable to rape and torture. Women's organizations have actively campaigned against such violence, but analysis of post-election violence must not look at abuse of women in isolation. Instead, it must highlight the way that difference – whether it be political opinion, religion, sexuality, or gender – is being persecuted in Ahmadinejad's Iran. </div> </div> </div> <p>On June 19th, Taraneh Mousavi was arrested at a post-election protest. Several weeks later she had disappeared. The last record of her life was a medical document stating that she had been briefly hospitalized for an ‘unfortunate accident’ in which her womb and anus had been ruptured.</p> <p>Sexual violations have long stained Iranian prisons (and detention centres around the world). In 1986 Ayatollah Montazeri, now <a href="">renowned</a> in the West for his fiery criticism of Ahmadinejad’s regime, penned an outraged <a href="">letter</a> to then-Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khomeini asking “Did you know that young women are raped in some of the prisons of the Islamic Republic?” And though gender-based violence is generally associated with the abuse of women, the recent <a href="">accusations</a> of opposition leader Mehdi Karroubi highlight the use of rape against detained women and men alike. One young Iranian man <a href="">writes</a> of his incarceration in July, “They put a flash light into our faces and said if you make a noise we will put these batons into your a**. I could not believe that. I was thinking that this is just a nightmare.”</p> <p>The post-election <a href="../../../../../../../../article/iran-s-election-democracy-or-coup">crackdown</a> in Iran has thus highlighted that way in which tools of gender-based violence traditionally associated with women are being wielded against both sexes. This reality is reflected on by <a href="">1 Million Signatures</a>, an Iranian women’s rights organization that is now campaigning against the arbitrary arrest of men and women in the wake of Ahmadinejad’s ‘re-election’. It features ‘<a href="">I Am Atefeh</a>’ campaign to free Atefeh Nabavi - the first woman to receive a prison sentence for her political activities in the wake of the contested election - but also draws attention to the detention of men like <a href="">Farzad Islami</a>, a student activist, and the journalist <a href="">Sassan Aghayee</a>.</p> <p> Of course, as the Iranian-Swedish feminist scholar Golbarg Bashi <a href="">notes</a> ‘[Iranian women] have paid the highest price for living in a patriarchal theocracy (and before that in a autocratic monarchy)’. The way that women and men have historically experienced inequality and violence in Iran is indeed qualitatively different. But with the Islamic Republic’s legitimacy being questioned more forcefully than ever before, it is indiscriminately lashing out at anyone - male or female - who strays outside the government sanctioned code of conduct. Thus, the campaigns of civil society and opposition groups in Iran call for a broader view of post-election violence that does not look at the abuse of women in isolation, but focuses on the way that <em>difference</em> – whether it be political opinion, religion, sexuality, or gender – is being persecuted.</p> <p>Women do wield a great deal of symbolic power in Iran, which perhaps makes their activism particularly resonant. The work of individuals like <a href="../../../../../../../../democracy-fifty/meaning_century_4670.jsp">Shirin Ebadi </a>highlights the way in which Middle Eastern women are successfully fusing together Islamic, democratic, and human rights discourses together - and explains why Ahmadinejad’s government (which has failed on all of the above accounts) felt it necessary to <a href="">seize</a> Ebadi’s Nobel Peace Prize. Moreover, the Iranian state in all its incarnations over the past century has sought to use women’s bodies as canvases for its nation-building projects. It has been especially pre-occupied with women’s role as mothers and importance in shaping future ‘model citizens’. The Pahlavi dynasty praised ‘enlightened mothers’ who would infuse young Iranians with ostensibly modern/western values, whilst under Khomeini mothers were lauded as ‘the pillars of family’ who would help Islamicize society.</p> <p>Not only have Iranian women challenged this discourse at the political and cultural levels, but they have subverted their government-sanctioned role as mothers in the wake of the post-election violence to lobby on behalf of its victims. The <a href="">Mourning Mothers of Laleh</a>, for example, vowed after the June demonstrations to assemble at Laleh Park every week “<em>from now until the release of all detained demonstrators, the cessation of violence and until our children’s killers receive their punishment</em><em>”</em>. On December 6th, in anticipation of Student Day protests taking place around Iran today, the government responded by <a href="">arresting</a> 21 of the Mourning Mothers' members. But it’s measure that will undoubtedly merely to galvanize women like Parvin Fahimi, whose son <a href="">Sohrab Aarabi </a>is thought to have died whilst in detention after participating in pro-opposition protests. She was recently <a href="">interviewed</a> by women’s rights activist Mahboobe Abbasgholizadeh, where she forcefully proclaimed “each mother is responsible, all Iranian people are responsible, not to let the blood of our children be ignored”.</p> <p> For mothers’ organizations in Iran, that responsibility extends to a range of interconnected problems including the country’s nuclear portfolio and the frightening possibility of yet more sanctions. Similarly, the opposition movement as a whole is welded together by numerous problems that have been churning in the belly of the Islamic Republic for the past 30 years. It is important then, to place government-led violence in the context of the broad complaints that it is facing and its frenzied efforts to quell them rather than focusing exclusively on misogynistic policies directed at women. Women’s rights in Iran are intimately connected to the broader struggle for a country where difference is tolerated - and where ‘unfortunate accidents’ are not met with impunity.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>*Author's name supplied but withheld upon request</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="">For Atefeh or for All the Prisoners?</a></p><p><a href="">From Discrimination to Discrimination; An Examination of Policies<br /> Related to Women During the First Four Years of Ahmadinejad’s<br /> Presidency</a></p><p><a href="">Pressure on Student Activists Intensifies as Several Arrested in Recent Weeks</a></p> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Democracy and government </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 Democracy and government 16 Days: activism against gender based violence 16 Days, 2009 feminism gender gender justice patriarchy sexual identities Sexual violence violence against women women and militarism women's human rights Anonymous Mon, 07 Dec 2009 15:47:15 +0000 Anonymous 49364 at Berlusconi and Blair: an open letter to Anthony Barnett <p> Dear Anthony Barnett, </p><p> I am an Italian who has been working in the City of London for many years: a conservative at heart. As time goes by I am more and more convinced that free market capitalism and democracy go hand in hand. </p><p> As a believer in democratic capitalism, I think that the case against Saddam was just. I followed with great interest <b>openDemocracy</b>&#146;s <a href= target=_blank>debate</a> on the war. <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=979">You</a> may argue that it is madness to impose enlightenment values (freedom, tolerance, open markets, rule of law) on an Islamic country. But I think it a worthwhile experiment. Even if Baghdad ends up short of a Bill of Rights, this quest for greater variety, tolerance and justice, for as long as it lasts, is no bad thing. Even were the motives behind this drive to war just plain wrong, it is clear that after the event, the so-called &#145;coalition&#146; did the right thing in smashing a horrible dictatorship. </p><p> It may be typically Italian of me to indulge in such a wordy introduction: but I have a reason for this. Actually, I am writing to tell you that I myself am ashamed of having an <a href=,6121,871630,00.html target=_blank>appalling government</a>: one that is steadily turning into the kind of regime which might one day add Italy to the list of those countries where &#145;regime change&#146; would only be too welcome. How else am I to begin to put into words the embarrassment I feel at the spectacle of Tony Blair kissing and hugging the Italian prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, outside number ten Downing Street? </p><p> <b>Trails of power, paths of deceit</b> </p><p> Am I going too far? The day before the meeting between these two politicians, Berlusconi&#146;s closest associate and former Italian minister of defence, <a href= target=_blank>Cesare Previti</a>, was sentenced to eleven years in prison for corruption. This was for bribing judges in the late 1980s, while pocketing a cool &pound;8 million in return for finessing the outcome of a trial revolving around a dispute between the state and the heirs of SIR, an Italian company, over a &pound;300 million mega-transaction. </p><p> This trial was linked to a second court case where Previti acted on behalf of Silvio Berlusconi himself. Here, Previti stands accused of helping his boss take over the publishing company, <a href= target=_blank>Mondadori</a>, by bribing the judges. Luckily for Berlusconi, he will not appear in the witness box, having managed to secure the statutes exempting him. </p><p> A third case involves the same pair: this time, in the takeover battle for <a href= target=_blank>SME</a>, a state-controlled food company. Business tycoon <a href= target=_blank>Carlo De Benedetti</a> reached an agreement with Romano Prodi, then head of IRI, the SME State holding company, for his &pound;200 million offer in 1985. The then prime minister, <a href= target=_blank>Bettino Craxi</a>, opposed the sale, encouraging his friend Berlusconi to oppose De Benedetti&#146;s plans. In 1986, a court ruled against De Benedetti, preventing him from buying the company; according to the Milan judges, it was again Cesare Previti who fixed that sentence. Berlusconi did not buy SME either: he pulled out of the deal. Only in 1993-94 was the company broken up and sold to different buyers. </p><p> On Monday, Berlusconi appeared in the Milan courts to argue that he deserved a medal for obstructing De Benedetti, who was on the point, thanks to state favouritism, of procuring the company at a very low price. Berlusconi hinted at corruption behind the deal. In the process of defending himself, Berlusconi &#150; the coming president of the European Council when Italy assumes its six-month presidency in July &#150; has had to point the accusing finger at many other people, including <a href= target=_blank>Romano Prodi</a>, current president of the EU Commission. This is a deep and dangerous game. </p><p> Soon after the judges&#146; verdict on Previti, just before the Blair embrace, Berlusconi launched a furious volley against the Italian judges, accusing them in turn of undermining the Italian government, and pledging revenge. The National Association of Magistrates reacted angrily, charging the prime minister with challenging the very legitimacy of the Italian judicial system. This stand-off has plunged Italy into a serious crisis. </p><p> Silvio Berlusconi and his associates, who have a parliamentary majority, are now attempting to reintroduce a parliamentary immunity lifted in 1993, when the extent of the corruption in Italian politics was first laid bare. Once this measure goes through, it will be impossible to pass any further judgment on this group of operators. </p><p> Many Italians are flabbergasted. Sentiments are running very high. Those who oppose Berlusconi, thinking he bribed his way to power, have once again locked horns with those who allege that he is the victim of a judicial persecution inspired by former communist forces. Until now, Berlusconi has defended himself and his associates from charges of tax evasion simply by arguing that it was the only way to survive as a poor Italian entrepreneur in the corrupt state that was 1980s Italy. </p><p> These recent trials, however, have made it impossible to ignore the steady encouragement to this endemic corruption which Berlusconi and his acolytes offered. Too many sordid details are emerging every day from these trials to make his protestations of innocence convincing. </p><p> <b>An overweening ambition</b> </p><p> For a conservative like me, this is a rude awakening: even the most libertarian thinker will tell you that contracts must be honoured if we are to avoid the law of the jungle. When Berlusconi paints himself a defender of free markets, he seems to me to confuse the ideal of market freedom with a very different personal freedom on his part: to tyrannise his neighbour. </p><p> A conservative such as myself is against all forms of dictatorial control on the grounds that they destroy variety, kill democracy, inhibit market freedom and impoverish civil life. Berlusconi is a one-man monopolist at the centre of a titanic <a href= target=_blank>conflict</a> of interest, who owns three TV channels at the same time as leading a government which controls a further three; as if all this were not enough, he has even managed to fill the top posts in a seventh independent channel with his own friends. Berlusconi is utterly consistent in doing virtually nothing to promote market openness. He is a living personification of anti-competitive behaviour. </p><p> Since Berlusconi took power, the privatisation process has virtually ground to a halt. Government allies (former fascists and the <a href= target=_blank>Northern League</a>) now talk openly of the need to defend &#145;national champions&#146;. Independent market-regulating bodies have seen the reduction of their powers, in favour of strengthened government control. This anti-market attitude contrasts with the keen determination the prime minister has shown in changing all the laws (including one on fraudulent accounting which is now much more lenient) that could threaten his own personal interests. </p><p> This pattern of behaviour has a wider reach. On <a href= target=_blank>25 April</a>, the day of celebration of Italy&#146;s liberation from fascism in 1945, Berlusconi decided to &#145;go on holiday&#146;, reasoning that the process has been habitually hijacked by the left, which played a significant historical role in the liberation. This cleared the way for some of his former fascist allies to attempt a revision of such terrible stories as that of <a href= target=_blank>Marzabotto</a>, a village where Nazis killed dozen of civilians in retaliation against a partisan attack. The ex-fascists now ventured to suggest that the Nazis were provoked into this action. But this initiative badly backfired on them, when it emerged that Silvio&#146;s second wife, Veronica, a former soft porn star who possesses both common sense and judgment, had written a heartfelt piece for the leftist magazine <i>Micromega</i> in memory of her grandfather, who was killed in Marzabotto! </p><p> <b>A missed opportunity</b> </p><p> To conclude, dear Anthony Barnett, I do not understand why Berlusconi is finding himself praised by George Bush and even hugged by Tony Blair. I understand the need of international alliances and <i>Realpolitik</i>; but in fact they are here cherishing a bond with a man who has no enthusiasm for the allied effort during the second world war, who despises competition and free markets, and who is setting up a soft Orwellian dictatorship-by-media: a man who from the start was at odds with the rule of law, which he equates with &#145;communism&#146;, in exactly the same way as the Mafia used to do. </p><p> What has Blair got in return? Moral support for the Iraq war, with an insignificant commitment amounting to a few hundred soldiers for peacekeeping missions, scarcely more than a dozen other (and far smaller) states contributed; and support for the Lisbon agenda on <a href= target=_blank>European economic reform</a> (somewhat compromised by Berlusconi&#146;s negligence in reforming the Italian economy). </p><p> In exchange for such virtual pledges, Berlusconi acquires legitimacy on the world stage, impressing his electorate with the high regard in which he is now held. That is the greatest favour you could do a man who seeks to close a historic window of opportunity that was presented to Italy: to rid itself of the excesses of three forces &#150; the left, Catholicism, and neo-fascism &#150; in order to become a normal country: more tolerant, market-friendly, intellectually open and law-abiding. </p><p> This is the opportunity Silvio Berlusconi has squandered. </p><p> Berlusconi should be publicly named and shamed rather than embraced. I am not alone in thinking and feeling this. Many other Italians working in the City of London share my sentiment. That is why so many of us are here in the first place. These are people who have more sophisticated ambitions than Italy&#146;s backward domestic financial market can satisfy in the foreseeable future. This too is thanks to Berlusconi, who is in no hurry at all to improve matters: who now instead is a major part of the problem. </p><p> Yours sincerely, </p><p> Reader </p><p> </p> europe democracy & power Anonymous Tributaries of the right Original Copyright Tue, 06 May 2003 23:00:00 +0000 Anonymous 1206 at