Dated: 19 Feb 2005
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Doctor Salam Ismael took aid to Fallujah last month. This is his story of how the US murdered a city
"ALL OUT for the 19 March demonstration," was the message of a successful fourth annual conference held by the Stop the War Coalition on Saturday of last week. Coalition president Tony Benn opened the 400-strong delegate conference. "We must make the war the central issue in the coming general election," he said.
TRADE union voices had a strong presence at the Stop the War conference. Bob Crow, general secretary of the RMT railworkers’ union, congratulated the coalition for building and sustaining such a broad campaign.
I would like to salute you. Your activities here are hidden from the Iraqi people. I have been amazed since arriving in Britain how many young people in particular are active in the anti-war movement.
More than 1,000 people attended Saturday’s climate change demonstration. It was called because the Kyoto agreement to limit greenhouse gas emissions came into force on Wednesday of this week.
Shareholders in the first ever hospital Private Finance Initiative (PFI) scheme have grabbed a £37 million windfall. These figures were revealed by the government’s public spending watchdog last week.
The unelected committees supposedly representing healthcare in Epsom and Sutton, Surrey, rejected the wishes of the majority of citizens in the area and voted to downgrade St Helier and Epsom hospitals to "care centres" last month.
Austin Mitchell MP, chair of the council housing group of MPs, chaired an MPs’ inquiry session as part of a fringe meeting at Labour’s spring conference last week.
The campaign to free detainee Babar Ahmad got a boost from a large meeting organised by students at Imperial College, London, last week. Students in Imperial Against Imperialism (the college’s anti-war group), Amnesty International and the Islamic Society got around 160 people to the meeting.
I’M NOT particularly interested in league tables. But if you put Shakespeare to one side, Arthur Miller stands comparison with any playwright writing in the English language for his contribution to our culture and our understanding of what it is to be human. He uniquely captured the pain and the anguish, the hopes and aspirations of human beings in the modern world. And perhaps most importantly, he understood how human beings are connected to events in the greater world.
"Is the prime minister finally emerging from the shadow of Iraq?" asked James Naughtie on Radio Four’s Today Programme on Monday morning. The media briefings pouring out of 10 Downing Street are clamouring in answer: "Yes!"
IRAQI ACTIVISTS have dismissed the idea that the elections held in Iraq are any kind of triumph for George Bush and Tony Blair. "The US should not take any comfort from this result," says Sabah Jawad, secretary of Iraqi Democrats against the Occupation.
TWENTY FIVE students and teachers from City and Islington College, north London, protested outside the home office on Tuesday of last week over the threatened deportation of student Abdul Turay.
I HAD been wondering what to do at my workplace, a university in south London, in the run-up to the 19 March anti-war demonstration. I spoke to colleagues and we decided to propose a whole week of events around the theme of "debating war, defending justice".
Scabs break rules in airport strike AIRPORT FIREFIGHTERS in Glasgow are going into their third week of indefinite all-out strike. The bosses are breaking all the rules to keep the airport open, using senior fire officers from all the other British Airport Authority airports to scab on their subordinates.
COUNCIL TENANTS are standing up to bullying and blackmail in Lambeth, south London, and fighting back against proposals to privatise their housing.
WELL OVER 400 delegates attended the annual conference of the Scottish Socialist Party (SSP) in Perth last weekend. Following the resignation of Tommy Sheridan as SSP convenor three months ago, it was widely felt that the event had successfully drawn a line under what had been a difficult period for the party.
Newly elected SSP convenor Colin Fox spoke to Socialist Worker about his priorities coming out of last weekend’s successful party conference:
Attacks on the BBC and the union’s low pay campaign were two of the issues discussed at an NUJ Left conference held in Manchester. Union general secretary Jeremy Dear said he thought this was the best chance in a decade for the NUJ to win a ballot over strike action to fight a feared 9,000 job cuts at the BBC.
The RMT maritime union has written to ferry operator Caledonian MacBrayne to demand that it assures there will be no worsening of pensions, pay and conditions for its workforce. The company will face a ballot for industrial action otherwise.
ELECTRICIANS IN the EPIU contracting branch are keeping up the pressure on construction bosses in the north west of England. Pickets were out in force at the Arndale site and at The Edge, both in Manchester, on Friday of last week.
This fight is crucial for current public sector workers—but also for future generations. In 20 years’ time, I don’t want to have to answer the question "Why did you let the government wreck our pensions?"
Over the next few weeks, most of the key public sector unions are set to ballot for industrial action.
New Labour has bought into the myths about pensions. Tony Blair and Gordon Brown argue that the economy cannot afford to pay out pensions for workers who are living much longer.
THE GOVERNMENT wants to implement its plans for the local government pension scheme this year. If it gets away with that, it will be harder for us to resist other attacks.
One of Africa’s most brutal dictators died last week. The population he had repressed for over four decades first rejoiced and then burst into protest for change and democracy. Gnassingbe Eyadema’s death brought to an end 38 years of his rule in Togo. The military then announced that his son, Faure Gnassingbe, would be taking over immediately as president.
TUBE WORKERS in Buenos Aires, capital of Argentina, have won a 19 percent wage increase after a strike. They struck for five days, after being offered a rise of just 7 percent by their employers, which will barely keep pace with spiralling inflation.
THE RECENT grenade attack on a political rally in Bangladesh (Socialist Worker, 12 February) was not an isolated event. That attack killed the former finance minister Shah AMS Kibria and several other members of the Awami League (Bangladesh's biggest opposition party), sparking a wave of strikes.
IT IS obviously a huge relief to be free, even if there is still a long way to go before I can be secure. It has been a terrifying few weeks. On 14 January I went to the home office reporting centre in Manchester. I was required to go there regularly because my application for asylum had been refused.
Herschel Grynszpan, a young Jewish man, assassinated a Nazi diplomat in the German embassy in Paris on 7 November 1938.
In 1947 Britain lost control of India, the colony that British prime minister Disraeli had once called the "jewel in the crown of England".
STAFF AND former pupils are demanding to know whether New Labour education ministers were involved in the decision to sweep aside an inspectors’ report and fail Islington Green school in 1997.
NO DECENT civilisation should condemn the majority of its people to 30 years of starvation and misery, while around them the rest of the population enjoy the wealth they created. But this will be the situation faced by pensioners in Britain if the government drives through its pensions strategy.
SOCIAL SECURITY, the programme that has provided basic economic support for America’s elderly, disabled and orphaned for 70 years, is in danger. The danger comes not from "baby boomers" (that wave of people born between 1945 and 1960), but from a campaign of lies and fear-mongering, led by President Bush.
The respected cameraman and producer Michael Burke co-operated with Dr Salam Ismael to produce powerful material that was due to be shown on Channel 4 News this week. It included film taken of mass burials near Saqlawiya, on the outskirts of Fallujah. The bodies that were interred there were collected mainly from the Jolan district in the city. Socialist Worker’s Simon Assaf saw the unedited footage and describes its graphic content.
Fallujah is roughly 45 miles from Baghdad on the Euphrates river.
Dr Salam Ismael, now 28 years old, was head of junior doctors in Baghdad before the invasion of Iraq. He was in Fallujah in April 2004 where he treated casualties of the assault on the city.
Cameraman Issam Rashid Abdel Rahman found himself in trouble when he filmed protests in Iraq against the occupation. He tells Simon Assaf what happened
CNN’S TOP news executive has left his job abruptly after 23 years, following claims that he accused US forces of deliberately targeting journalists in Iraq.
Saturday 26 FebruaryPalestine Solidarity Campaign conference, 10.30am, Conway Hall, Red Lion Square, London WC1.Phone 020 7700 6192 for more details
Michael Tippett was, along with Benjamin Britten, one of the two great modern English composers of the post-war period. Not only did he compose some excellent operas, oratorios and symphonies, he was a man with political interests and social concerns.
THIS exhibition is provocatively titled Politics, Sex and Death. That was enough to make me want to see it.
The Yes MenDirected by Chris Smith, Sarah Price and Dan Ollman Released 18 February
Agitate! Educate! Organise! Friday 25 February Victoria and Albert Museum, London.6.30pm-10pm, free THE V&A celebrates a new wave of social protest, observation and documentary in the arts with spoken word performances, poetry slamming and impromptu gigs around the museum.
The launch of Labour’s election pledge card has shown just how low the party has sunk in its craven tail-ending of Tory and tabloid racism. The card was originally set to carry five pledges—as in 1997 and 2001. These would broadly cover education, health, the economy, crime and the family—also in line with previous elections. But at the last minute, a sixth pledge was added—"Your country’s borders protected." Labour has promised "ID cards and strict controls that work to combat asylum abuse and illegal immigration".
Time to make poverty history Last week I visited a local sixth form college in my council ward in Preston. As I walked in, I was met by students wearing white bands, and a building covered with white paper chains. The college was going all out to raise issues of debt and poverty as part of the Make Poverty History campaign.
Meetings And Events