Rebels with a cause

Dear readers,

It's been a while. They say that the summer brings with it a sense of nonchalance which is partially true but not altogether veritable. Sometimes you just need to take a long break from politics, especially the Maltese specimen which is on display 24/7 both in the obvious and subtle forms. For the moment I intend to do just that so I have decided to dedicate this post to what I have termed 'rebels with a cause'. The people about whom I shall relate are not gun toting revolutionaries fighting for what they believe in. They are far far braver. For what its worth, this is my little tribute to them.

The first is Neda Agha-Soltan who's dissent and unquenchable thirst for a basic, transparent democracy led to her death on the streets of Tehran. A mere victim of circumstance, she was shot dead by what ordinary Iranian citizens themselves have exposed as a brutal regime. Indeed, they would have us believe that her very death and most of what occurred since the 24th of June has been a manipulative construction of the Western media. This is the unreasonableness that you get when fundamentalism overcomes those who hold the reigns of power. Not so long ago I watched a film on the Mayan civilization which began with an intersting quote by Will Durant - A great civilization is not conquered from without until it has destroyed itself from within. Although not wholly fitting to the present context the similarities are subtle but striking. Neda's death has surely caused much pain to her loved ones but it has also symbolised the human passion for basic liberties and civil decency in all corners of the world lingers on. In this sense her death has not been in vain.

The second is a more recent victim. Her name is Natalia Estemirova, a passionate human rights activist. She was shot dead for exposing to the world the shocking brutality of human rights abuses in Chechnya. It is yet too early to point out with certainty who was behind this act of cowardice but as they vow that her killers shall be found there is a suspicion that we may never get to know or that the "culprits" will be no more than a smoke-screen for top-level statesmen who ordered her death.

My third tribute goes to the Palestinian people who, for want of a better expression, are suffering the brunt of ethnic cleansing by the seemingly untouchable rogue state of Israel. We have all seen the pictures of grossly disproportionate Israeli agression as well as the unfortunate backlash by Palestinian fundamentalists who mistakenly believe that the rocket is the only way to proclaim their inalianable right to exist. Israel bases its arguments on the notion of self-defence. Yet I wonder what justification exists for putting people behind barriers, for stealing their homes and systematically shattering their lives. A group of Israeli soldiers have also made a bizarre but unsurprising confession, namely that in urban warfare no one is innocent and that the illegal use of phosphorus shells is 'cool'. Without any distinction between citizen and militant the entire Palestinian race becomes no more than beasts for the slaughter. An even greater travesty is that whilst we pat on ourselves on the back for having an International Criminal Court which succesfully puts dictators of the third world in the dock, equally guilty men and women of more powerful nations, such as Israel (who has great influence in Washington), seem to be outside the confines of international justice.

Last but not least my final tribute goes out to Suleiman Abubaker and Abdifatah Muhammed. Both are victims of a racism that is haunting our country. On many ocassions in this blog have I commented on racism and whilst it has not been altogether in vain for I have met many who share my sentiments, my words - our words of alarm are making very little difference. The problem is that in this country the persons who have the greatest potential to effect radical policies in countering and punishing racism are either too busy trying to remain in power or too busy trying to gain that power. And on controversial issues which have the potential to sway the balance of popularity even the slightest inch to either side they speak not. Despite the futility I beckon one and all to come to terms with the reality of the situation which we find ourselves in and act before the nation that we all love so dearly begins to whisper "whites only" - words which we hoped were forever replaced by "Free at last!"

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