Galway Alliance Against War – Peace Activists Arrested on World Peace Day

GALWAY ALLIANCE AGAINST WAR

Press Release

Sunday, 1st September 2013:

This afternoon two members of the Galway Alliance Against War, Margaretta D’Arcy (79) and Niall Farrell (60) blocked the runway at Shannon airport to express our  opposition to the continued use of the airfield by the US military as part of its wars in Asia, Africa and the Middle East. On behalf of the two peace activists, the Galway Alliance Against War released the following statement:

“Over the past twelve years consecutive Irish governments have colluded in Washington’s campaign of wars from Afghanistan to Yemen, in which up to 2 million people have perished. By allowing the US military to use Irish airspace and Shannon airport to wage these wars we have become a willing accessory to mass murder. We have blood on our hands.

GAAW

“Irish democracy has been subverted in the interests of this American war machine: the Greens and Labour entered government with a mandate to oppose Ireland’s role in these wars and develop a policy of neutrality, but reneged on their promises. Therefore, we feel we have no alternative but to block the runway at Shannon to highlight Irish involvement in this carnage. We have also come on the runway to conduct, what President Higgins proposed, a “conversation” in public places about Irish society. There is no more relevant place in Ireland than Shannon airport’s runway to discuss the need for the government to return to Ireland’s traditional policy of neutrality and cease its collusion in these criminal wars.

“Once more the drums of war are beating, this time the Western powers, in particular the USA, have Syria in their sights. We call on the Irish government to follow the lead taken by neutral Austria and ban all military flights through national airspace and airports for any military operation related to Syria. We also call on the government to join with other governments throughout the world and oppose any use of force against Syria.

“The wars waged in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya have resulted in on-going death and destruction. These wars have not brought stability but the very opposite. It is time to give peace a chance!”

ENDS

For Information on Shannon Warport, see:  Shannonwatch

Galway Alliance Against War

RTÉ – Through an Orientalist Prism

“…..neither the term Orient nor the concept of the West has any ontological stability; each is made up of human effort, partly affirmation, partly identification of the Other. That these supreme fictions lend themselves easily to manipulation and the organization of collective passion has never been more evident than in our time, when mobilizations of fear, hatred, disgust and resurgent self- pride and arrogance- much of it having to do with Islam and the Arabs on one side, “we” Westerners on the other – are very large scale enterprises.” Edward Said, 2003

Due to factors outside my control and to be discussed soon, I’ve been sitting at home, hugging my laptop for the last week. During that week I’ve had lots of time to listen to the radio,  our national broadcaster RTÉ radio one and in particular the Pat Kenny show, presented by Myles Dungan.

On Thursday 16th August Palestinian Raja Shehadeh was interviewed about his book Occupation Diaries. From the outset Dungan frames the interview in terms of negativity, stating that Shehadeh has said he is “angry” and that anger is generally seen as a negative emotion. In the usual Irish journalistic obsession with discussing personal relationships between occupied and occupier, Dungan asks Shehadeh to describe his friendships with Israelis. Why does this constantly happen in such interviews? I don’t think it’s a genuine interest in how people relate to each other, I think it’s orientalism – we will tell your story, partly, but we want the Israeli narrative in there too…your own is not adequate.

When Shehadeh has described his and his father’s friendships with Palestinian Jews and the current situation whereby Israelis are prevented by that state’s law from visiting Palestinian neighbourhoods, Dungan segues into the next section with this: “Now, not all Israelis see you as some sort of potential terrorist”. Why would he say that? Shehadeh at this point has not mentioned the perception Israelis have of him or of other Palestinians, it comes out of nowhere in relation to the interview but it definitely comes out of somewhere deepseated when analysing journalistic depiction of Palestinians in the Irish mainstream media.

Dungan then describes how Shehadeh writes of the way he is viewed as a threat or a non-person by Israeli “border guards” and asks him: “Can you not see it from the point of view of, say for example, an Israeli border guard, some of their comrades perhaps have died as a result of terrorist activity?” This is an astonishing question to ask, especially in the context of zero empathy displayed by Dungan for either his interviewee or the people subjected to military occupation by said “border guards”. He doesn’t wonder how a Palestinian must feel having seen thousands of his sisters and brothers murdered, imprisoned and oppressed by the Israeli state.

For Dungan’s final flourish he asks: “Is Palestine itself, it is blessed or is it cursed by its own political leadership?” Now there are very valid questions to be asked about the Palestinian political leadership, as there are about the Irish one etc, but they have to be contextualised and they are not here, they rarely are in such programmes – Palestine is portrayed as a lawless, violent place with ineffectual at best leadership, absolutely without context, with no situating of it within the reality of the Nakba of 1948, the further occupation of 1967 and the fracturing of Palestinian society by Israeli apartheid.

While querying whether things have improved since the days of Arafat,  Dungan then goes on to ask this astounding question: “But did Arafat himself, did he not play into Israeli hands by creating the impression of a corrupt state which was undeserving of independence?” What? – “a corrupt state which was undeserving of independence” – who decides whether states are worthy of independence? Is Ireland? The US? This question encapsulates Dungan’s patronising opinion of the Palestinian people and the orientalist prism through which he conducted this interview. It is depressing that on one of the rare occasions we get to hear Palestinian voices on our airwaves, that they are subjected to this type of interview.

The next morning on the same show, American writer Karl Marlantes was interviewed about his book: What It Is Like To Go To War. Marlantes was a marine in the US war against Vietnam and has written this book on how those who become soldiers are, in the main, unprepared for war. By contrast with the interview with Raja Shehadeh, Dungan, while mentioning that Marlantes had seen his fellow soldiers commit “acts of savagery”,  never asks him whether he could see the perspective of the Vietnamese people who had seen their people slaughtered by the US army. He never asks this man who was part of an occupying force about his relationships with the Vietnamese people, or about whether he could understand their point of view.

The previous day he asked a man living as part of an occupied population to see the perspective of the occupier but in this instance he does not pose similar questions, even when Marlantes is describing how soldiers dehumanise their ‘enemy’ in order to kill them better. He does ask Marlantes about an occasion when he was “forced to kill”, as the ‘enemy’ would have killed him. Can you imagine a situation where he calmly would ask a Palestinian about such a scenario? I cannot and it would not happen because, looking through the orientalist prism, it is ok for US or Israeli soldiers to kill, we must understand their motivation, realise they have no choice and that anyone who resists that is a terrorist.

It’s just one week, one journalist, one broadcaster but it is typical of the way occupation is depicted in our complicit media. While such journalism pervades, governments find it easier to murder people as we are rarely reminded of our shared humanity with all people, just a manufactured one with some.

Media Bias. Labour Party Conference: “Violence, What Violence?” – Galway Peace Group

Yesterday, 14th April 2012, thousands of people protested at the Labour Party Conference in NUIG. Though the protesters were a diverse group, representing many different causes and campaigns, they were all united in their disgust at this government’s, in which the Labour party is a partner, selling out of Ireland and the Irish citizenry.

At the protest Galway Alliance Against War held a symbolic funeral for Irish neutrality which has been sold to the US imperialist war machine by successive governments since the beginning of the ‘war on terror’. Since then, millions of US troops have passed through Shannon airport on their way to and from the illegal invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan. People have also been transported through Shannon airport to be tortured at Guantanamo prison camp and other torture sites.

While a largely corporate and compliant media consistently ignores the illegal use of Shannon airport for such crimes against humanity and the actual and terrible violence being visited on the people of Iraq and Afghanistan, it reported erroneously today on violence from the GAAW, among others, at the Labour conference protest.  Indeed John Drennan in the Sunday Independent is quite hysterical: “Over 1,000 protesters, using a mock coffin as a weapon, breached the garda cordon surrounding the conference on the campus of NUI Galway and protesters made it to the doors of the hall.” That bears repeating: “using a mock coffin as a weapon” – really? What? The violence on the day was the use of pepper spray by the Gardaí. This kind of reporting is typical of the mainstream media in Ireland, the actual brutal and terrifying  violence employed against innocent people in Iraq and Afghanistan is largely ignored and an anti-war group characterised as violent.   Such rhetoric is constantly used so as to legitimise war and those who wage it while simultaneously demonising those who protest it, who refuse to accept the casual slaughter of people with our complicity. I seem to remember that some prominent Labour party people once shared such views….politics…..

The GAAW has made a statement on this reportage and it is reposted in full below.

The majority of the commentary around the protest, is as usual, skewed in favour of the establishment and ultimately has little respect for people’s democratic right to protest and to resist injustice.  Labour party members also called us “bullies” and “scumbags”, confirming that they too merely pay lip service to true democracy.

I have stood with these good people in Shannon warport many times, and am proud to do so. Equally, I am proud of all the people who protested yesterday and delighted to have been among them. One of the chants on the day was :”This is what democracy looks like” – perhaps that’s why the government and the media get so nervous and hysterical about it.  One day we may have a society founded in equality and fairness and we won’t be governed by those who think that bombing people in distant lands is alright but that protesting it is not.

GALWAY ALLIANCE AGAINST WAR
Labour Party Conference: “Violence, What Violence?” – Galway Peace Group
In reaction to press reports of violence during the protests at the Labour Party conference at NUI Galway, Galway’s local peace group, the Galway Alliance Against War, has issued the following statement.
“GAAW’s symbolic funeral for Irish neutrality was at the head of Saturday’s protest march to the Labour Party conference. The tricolour-draped coffin carried by four pallbearers dressed as Guantanamo prisoners was a poignant image with a strong message: Irish neutrality is dead since consecutive Irish governments – including the FG-Labour coalition – have colluded with Washington’s disastrous “war on terror”, which has turned Shannon airport into a US warport.
“ In response to the sensational media reports of violence, we would ask, what violence? Apart from the unnecessary use of pepper spray by the Gardaí there was nothing other than some pushing and shoving. It has to be said that the Gardaí were quite restrained. This reflects the disaffection of the Gardaí with the policies that are impacting on the vast majority of Irish citizens, including members of the Gardaí. But perhaps the most ludicrous media report was that our coffin was used as a “battering ram”. The fact that nobody was hurt by the coffin – only by pepper spray – shows that report to be nonsense.
“If the Irish media wants to know about violence then perhaps it should turn its attention to the military hardware including chemical weapons that have travelled through Shannon warport en route to Iraq and Afghanistan. Take a look at the reports of the US attack on Fallujah in 2004 and its aftermath, where white phosphorous was used that came via Shannon.
“Or maybe the Irish media should read the testimony of “extraordinary rendition” victim Binyam Mohamad. His CIA kidnappers and torturers travelled through Shannon warport on two occasions and even stayed overnight en route to bring Mr Mohamad to torture. Now there is real violence. The Irish state was in breach of international law. And the present government is also in breach, as Gilmore has refused to search any of the US warplanes travelling through Shannon, preferring to accept the highly unreliable assurances of his confidant the US ambassador.
“And if the Irish media has still not got an understanding about what violence is, then maybe they should look at the body count from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. So far more than 1.5 million people have been killed. And Irish governments under Fianna Fail, the PDs, the Greens, Fine Gael and Labour have been accessories to these killings. Yes, they have blood on their hands and so has the Irish people because we have failed to prevent our airports and air space to be used by the US warmongers.
“Indeed, Eamon Gilmore in his speech to conference hailed his government’s collusion in the “war on terror” in Afghanistan as something to be proud of: ‘I want to pay tribute tonight to …the members of our Defence Forces and Gardaí serving in … Afghanistan…They all represent the best of what it is to be Irish.’
“By bringing Irish neutrality’s coffin to the conference hall door we wanted to raise the real issues of violence that Ireland is involved in and which the powers-that-be and the media prefer to ignore.”
ENDS

For your information:    Toxic legacy of US assault on Fallujah ‘worse than Hiroshima’

More information on the US military use of Shannon airport here at Shannonwatch

Obama Sings and It’s Headline News – He Kills…. Nothing

So Barack Obama sings a song in the White House and it makes headlines worldwide. It was actually a news item on all Irish news bulletins on the national radio and tv stations today.  Obama sings the blues at White House

When people are killed in Obomber’s drone attacks it barely warrants a mention in the mainstream media, if at all.  The Irish media does not cover such stories, preferring to propagate the sycophancy that accompanies his presidency in this country. The continuing crime that is Guantanamo receives no coverage really.  There are great and honest journalists like John Pilger and Glenn Greenwald, among others, who document the war mongering, but the mainstream media remains complicit in it.  Murder people and we turn away, but belt out a tune and we’re all watching. It’s fucked up.

U.S. drones targeting rescuers and mourners

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