Socialist Worker


Issue No. 1776

I am Somali woman living and working in London who decided to join Health Workers Against the War. I took that decision after my seven year old daughter came home from school and said it is not right that poor children should be bombed in Afghanistan. If only Bush and Blair had the same morality as a child!

The ordinary people are always the victims. When US troops invaded my country in 1993 they left nothing but more power to the warlords and more poverty for the people.

The people of Somalia are now suffering again because of the closure of the branches of the Al-Barakaat bank because of alleged links with terrorism. This bank allowed us to transfer money directly to our families at home at very low interest. I sent money to support my sister, widowed during the war, and her seven children.

Bush and Blair are again making threats against Somalia and other countries. Our family went on the demonstration last Sunday, along with other health workers from east London. We must all come together to stop this war.

Aftermath of the war will be a disaster

WHAT HAPPENED in New York on 11 September was awful. Thousands of innocent people died and the death of innocent people is ALWAYS a bad thing. So why are Bush and Blair now killing innocent people in Afghanistan? People need to be made aware of the situation.

If the people who shout mindless comments at me and my friends when we are giving out leaflets knew about all the innocent people who were dying, would they shout such stupid things? 'Bomb the buggers!' is one of their favourites. If they saw the pictures of people dying in Afghanistan, or children who are wafer thin and facing starvation, would they then think twice about it?

People need to be told the facts about what is happening. It needs to be on TV. Even if they didn't drop another bomb the after-effects of this war are going to be a disaster.
BETH, 14 years old, Sheffield

Angry at imperialism

As a Christian, I have become sickened about how some churches are using their pulpits to spread war propaganda instead of adhering to the words of Jesus: 'Blessed are the peacemakers.'

I do not believe that war is necessary. I have become increasingly angered by US foreign policy and imperialism, and the unjustness of capitalism. After the Afghans fought the US's war against the Russians the US promised to rebuild Afghanistan, but went back on its word. It has this desire to 'take over the world'. US interests are all over the world, but people in the poorer nations see through this.
NEIL, a reader

What's the answer?

The use of B-52s and 'daisy cutter' bombs is abhorrent and should be halted. But the Taliban is an evil regime that does not allow women to work, to have education or even leave the home without a male relative.

It is very easy to say war is not the answer. It is harder to explain exactly what the answer is. The coalition's motives may not be right, the use of B-52s may not be right, but ousting the Taliban is a worthwhile objective.

I know what B stands for

Best wishes for your efforts against this wicked and unjust war. I was born in 1915 and each of my parents lost a brother in the war then. In 1936 my young brother tried to get to Spain, but he was considered to be too young so we both got busy raising money for Spain.

In the last world war both of my brothers were called up to join the army and I remember my constant worry. When I think of what is now happening I cannot understand the callousness of Bush and the gutless toadying of Blair.

Both names start with B, but I can think of other names better suited.
E R, a reader

Media targeted

The Kabul office of the Arab satellite al-Jazeera TV channel was destroyed by a US missile. The Qatar-based satellite channel gained global fame for its exclusive access to Osama Bin Laden and the Taliban during the war. Although none of its staff was wounded, al-Jazeera's managing director, Mohammed Jasim al-Ali, told BBC News Online that the channel's 12 employees in Kabul were out of contact.

Mohammed Jasim al-Ali would not speculate as to whether the offices were deliberately targeted, but said to journalists, 'This office has been known by everybody. The US aeroplanes know the location of the office. They know we are broadcasting from there.'

The episode is a tragic reminder of the 1999 NATO bombing of Serbia's state television station. On that occasion NATO defended the attack, saying it was a legitimate target.

The Kabul bombing re-opens the question of the safety of media personnel, traditionally not considered legitimate targets.
Paola Desiderio, Media Workers Against the War

Changing labels

One of the arguments used to justify the butchery of innocent people in Afghanistan is that Bin Laden is like Hitler. We have been here before. Saddam Hussein was a friend of the US and British governments. When he became a threat to their interests he suddenly became the 'new Hitler'.

In Serbia, Milosevic was the man the West 'could do business with'. Then he too became 'the new Hitler'.

Bin Laden was created, funded and supported by the West and then... Yet when real Nazis appear like Haider in Austria Britain refuses even to cut diplomatic relations. And when Berlusconi in Italy has fascists in his government who organised the beating of demonstrators in Genoa, Tony Blair shakes hands with him.
DESPINA, Hackney

News values

When an elderly white man is attacked in Oldham, his damaged face is all over the tabloid front pages with the accusation of a black on white racist attack. When the court then finds that the attack was not racist, the judgement is buried.

When a group of lads hold their Bonfire Night in a church, it's a lead story in the newspapers, with the Bradford police instantly dubbing it racist. Channel 4's more thorough coverage of the story suggested the group may have retaliated for being moved from their chosen site.

Meanwhile when a (white) gang attacks a hostel, forcing the people seeking asylum out onto the street, it does not merit the same national news attention. Refugee-bashing is racist, and is happening all the time.

It is encouraged both by racist legislation and by the rhetoric of war. I know about the latest incident, because it happened locally, two weeks ago in Salford.

However, what is happening elsewhere in the country is not known to me, because...

Postal Points

OVER 1,000 people marched on the US embassy in Thailand on 9 November. Banners proclaimed 'Global Day Against IMF, World Bank, and WTO' and 'Workers Unite Against Global Capitalism'.

At the rally people spoke of how the TRIPS policy of the World Trade Organisation was leading to genetic piracy on Thailand's 'Jasmine Rice' by US multinationals. Global Action-Global Solidarity!
LEK, Thailand

OUTGOING BT boss Sir Peter Bonfield trousered a cool £1.5 million even though the company's shares are on the skids. Such news will leave most people gasping with disbelief.

It is absurd and disgraceful that these so called executives should be rewarded with such massive pay-offs. BT customers will look at their next phone bill and know exactly where all their money went.

I have just read George Monbiot's book Captive State and am shocked at what scheming businessmen and politicians are doing. It is far worse than I thought. Big business runs this country-not elected politicians.

Monbiot does us a great service in exposing this and Captive State should be compulsory reading for everyone!

COLIN WILSON certainly seems to have got the message regarding Windows XP (Socialist Worker, 10 November), though Apple is just as bad in its attempt to push its OS 9 and OS X systems.

The whole computer industry is increasingly gearing up for short-term use between the production line and the landfill. This is done at the expense of technology, the sweatshops of the 'free trade zones', where so much of the equipment is constructed, and the planet. 'Technocapitalism' does not compute. We will free the technology as we give the system the sort of upgrade that leads to our bosses being de-installed and permanently de-activated.
JOHN JOHNSON, Chelmsford

I SPEND much time in Italy and on my most recent visit the local school in Sondrio was closed by the pupils taking a day off to protest against the war on Afghanistan.

Sondrio is not a town renowned for dissent or activism. Indeed it is a sleepy regional centre. But I think it is no coincidence that after Genoa Italian school kids are prepared to take up the cudgels.

GPMU Greater London Region Branch

To commemorate the life of one of its best known rank and file members ROSS PRITCHARD the GPMU Greater London Region Branch has launched a memorial fund in Ross's name.

The trustees of the fund have decided to present an annual prize of £350 for an essay of not more than 4,000 words dealing with issues dear to Ross's heart, namely:

Socialism; Internationalism; Respect for fellow human beings

Younger GPMU members are earnestly invited to submit essays, but other contributions will be welcomed. Essays should be submitted by July 1st 2002 for adjudication by October 2002.

All essays and donations (cheques made payable to The Ross Pritchard Memorial Fund) should be sent to: John Beck, Deputy Branch Secretary, GPMU, 18 Brixton Road, London SW9 6BU.

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Article information

Sat 24 Nov 2001, 00:00 GMT
Issue No. 1776
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