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Impressions from the 2014 Hedge School

i Nov 27th Comments Off by
Cathyrn O'Reilly (standing) and Vonnie Munroe of the Dunnes Stores Anti-apartheid strikers speaking at the Afri Hedge School in ITB.

Cathyrn O’Reilly (standing) and Vonnie Munroe of the Dunnes Stores Anti-apartheid strikers speaking at the Afri Hedge School in ITB.

By coincidence, the Afri Hedge School 2014 took place on the 96th anniversary of the official ending of World War 1.  I say ‘official’ ending as of course a monstrous machine of that size and ferocity doesn’t suddenly come to a halt all at once. Active battling in which several human beings lost their lives continued well after that iconic moment of the 11th hour, on the 11th day of the 11th month on which the leaders cried ‘stop!”. And signatures were made on a piece of paper.  I say ‘official’ as the fallout, the ramifications of that horrific war, ironically titled in the recruitment propaganda as ‘the war to end all wars’, is still to this very day having its devastating impact. The battles continue long after Armistice. The trauma has traversed generations in the many insidious ways that trauma can. Palestine is just one of many, many ongoing casualties that continues to bleed and die.

The lives of those men who had chosen to become or had been forced to become soldiers and were sacrificed in that war are traditionally remembered by silence and ceremony on this iconic day.

The Afri Hedge School chose not to hold the silence, but rather to facilitate the raising of voices. It invited the testimony of witnesses and casualties beyond those in active combat. It welcomed the awkward questions. And it framed all of this within the matrix of conscience. (more…)

Northern Kenyans adopt nocturnal life to escape extreme heat

i Nov 5th Comments Off by
Asha Abdi, a woman in the northern Kenyan town of Atheley, sits outside a shelter designed to protect residents from stifling daytime heat. Photo: Abjata Khalif/Thomson Reuters Foundation

Asha Abdi, a woman in the northern Kenyan town of Atheley, sits outside a shelter designed to protect residents from stifling daytime heat. Photo: Abjata Khalif/Thomson Reuters Foundation

This report from our partner organisation, the Kenya Pastoralist Journalist Network, shows the harsh consequences of climate change and how solar power is helping people to adapt.

By Abjata Khalif

ATHELEY, Kenya – It is 6 pm in Atheley and as the sun sets, bringing with it a cool breeze, this village in northern Kenya breaks out in a flurry of activity.

People gather outside, schoolchildren shout and play, and the sound of ululating fills the air. But this isn’t a wedding or a festival. The residents of this drought-stricken village are celebrating nightfall, because it means they can finally emerge from the shelters that have been protecting them from the extreme heat of the day and carry on with their lives.

“The ‘day’ has started and people are out of their hideouts ready to attend to their daily chores,” says community elder Abdi Abey. “Don’t mistake the celebration for a traditional festival. It’s a celebration of the changing weather.”

Over the past decade, Atheley and other villages in northern Kenya have suffered through a series of every-worsening droughts that have made normal life increasingly difficult. This year, for the first time, temperatures hitting over 40 degrees Celsius during the day have made farming, schooling, healthcare and other daily activities a struggle. (more…)

The Wave

i Oct 28th Comments Off by
Detail from Hokusai's The Great Wave off Kanagawa

Detail from Hokusai’s The Great Wave off Kanagawa

The Wave

(after Hardy)

They gathered up the guns and tanks,
divided the soldiers into ranks,
turned to face the enemy –
make a new date for history.

Prepare to fight – the order came
as the foe came into sight –
horizon-filled: a mighty wave
sent them all into their grave.

All the bullets, guns and bombs,
nuclear missiles impotent.
What use these weapons made by Man
with humanity an also-ran.

What use now the hunger and greed,
the makers of superfluous need.
What use those forgotten goals
for climate change and ozone holes?

What use the trillions spent on arms –
while dust and drought sucked up the farms,
as consequences grew in turn
enough to wither, drown and burn.

All the bullets ever made, every gun
every grenade, every cluster or barrel bomb,
laser rays, loud battleships, whispering drone –
secret weapons until then unknown,
gathered up in proud array –
for once all pointing the same way –
(although no silver saucer spun
beneath the unforgiving sun)
singing from the same hymn sheet, as they say.
recording the Earth’s sad lament –
a planet came a planet went.

~Pete Mullineaux, October 2014

Pete Mullineaux’s latest book Just a Second!  Exploring Global Issues through Drama & Theatre has just been published and is available to buy from the Afri office.

Date for the Diary: 2014 Hedge School

i Oct 20th Comments Off by

Hedge School poster

The 2014 Hedge School will be held on Tuesday 11th November in Room A57, Aontas Block on the I.T.B. campus, Blanchardstown, Dublin 15.  

Registration is at 9.30am and the Hedge School will run from 10am to 4pm.

This event is organised in partnership with the students from the Social and Community Development Course in I.T. Blanchardstown.

You can book a ticket and find out directions for the 2014 Hedge School via our Eventbrite page here.

Peaceful Endeavour to Terminate Aggressive Landings at Shannon

i Oct 16th Comments Off by

Afri has consistently opposed the abandonment by successive government of Ireland’s policy of neutrality, a policy whereby Ireland pursued largely non-militaristic foreign policy and refused to participate in wars of aggression.

All that has now changed, against the will of the Irish people and governments cravenly provide Shannon Airport to the US for its never-ending ‘war on terrorism’ as well as surrendering our neutrality in many other ways.

Afri recently launched a petition opposing the use of Shannon as a war-port, which is on-going and our Board member John Maguire has devised this campaign called ‘PETALS’ (Peaceful Endeavour to Terminate Aggressive Landings at Shannon) as a way of drawing attention to our continual participation in wreaking death and destruction on other peoples and nations.

John was prevented from handing these peace shamrocks to passengers in Shannon Airport this weekend. Apparently war planes and rendition flights are acceptable in Shannon but not shamrocks!

To sign our petition to show that you oppose the military use of Shannon airport go here.

There is No Military Solution to Fundamentalism

i Oct 16th Comments Off by

New IPB LOGOIPB Statement

Tackling the challenge represented by ISIS (Islamic State or ISIL) is a tough assignment, both for governments and for civil society. Their barbaric killings and rapidly expanding control of territory have resulted in precisely the reaction intended: military intervention by the US and its allies. Despite the failures of the recent wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and elsewhere, those with hammers in their toolboxes once again see every problem as a nail. (more…)

The Courage of Their Convictions: Conference Organised by the Movement for the Abolition of War

i Oct 14th Comments Off by

MAWReport by Joe Murray

I recently attended a peace conference in the unlikely venue of the ‘Imperial War Museum’ in London. Organised by the Movement for the Abolition of War (MAW) in a venue, containing, as MAW President Bruce Kent said, three of the most unattractive words in the English language, the event was interesting and timely, looking critically, as it did, at the way in which World War 1 is being commemorated. Many contributions noted the attempt to ‘redeem’ World War 1, and to portray it as a ‘good war’ by those who continue to benefit from the business of war and who want to ensure its continuance as a means of ‘settling’ international disputes.

A disturbing feature was the announcement that since the Museum re-opened after refurbishment in July 2014, it has been visited by over half a million people. And while the peace event attracted around one hundred people largely in the over-50 age bracket, the war museum was visited by thousands of people in the course of the day. Among the visitors were families including children of all ages, many of whom were being photographed proudly standing alongside or caressing some of the most grotesque weapons ever manufactured. (more…)

Blood Fruit

i Oct 8th Comments Off by
At the premiere of "Blood Fruit" in Galway: (from left to right) Theresa Mooney, Karen Gearon, Sinead O'Brien (film director), Cathryn O'Reilly, Liz Deasy, Michelle Gavin, Sandra Griffin, Joe Murray (Afri) and Mary Manning.

At the premiere of “Blood Fruit” in Galway: (from left to right) Theresa Mooney, Karen Gearon, Sinead O’Brien (film director), Cathryn O’Reilly, Liz Deasy, Michelle Gavin, Sandra Griffin, Joe Murray (Afri) and Mary Manning.

 

Blood Fruit will be shown on TG4 on Wednesday 22nd October at 9.30pm and Sunday 26th October at 11.30pm

 

Blood Fruit  recounts the story of ten exceptional young workers in Dunnes Stores in Henry Street who took the courageous decision to refuse to handle ‘the fruits of apartheid’ in 1984. This decision was to have major consequences for the workers themselves – being locked out for more than 2 years – and internationally as the story became known around the world. It resulted in a rare and amazing victory when the Irish Government banned the importation of fruit and vegetables from South Africa.

The film relays the experience of the daily drudgery on the picket line as well as their invitation to address the UN, their meeting with Desmond Tutu en route to receive the Nobel Peace prize and their abortive visit to South Africa where they were held by armed police before being sent home on the next plane. This is a compelling and inspiring story which should be compulsory viewing for people of all ages, reflecting what is best in human nature – the ability to empathise with the suffering of others even in faraway places and to express solidarity to the point of making a real and significant difference.

Nelson Mandela had said that the action of the strikers had helped him during his imprisonment and, in a message sent to the strikers via Afri for the premiere, Archbishop Tutu saluted them, describing them as ‘a beacon of hope’ and ‘part of the history of South Africa’s struggle for freedom’.

Shannonwatch Welcomes Oireachtas Petitions Committee Visit to Shannon

i Oct 8th Comments Off by

Shannonwatch Press Release

Shannonwatch welcomes the visit to Shannon Airport by the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Public Service Oversight and Petitions. The visit which took place on October 2nd was a follow-up to a petition by Shannonwatch earlier this year. The petition called for the Government to investigate the use of Shannon Airport and Irish airspace for the transit of US armed troops, munitions and other war material, as well as for the refuelling of CIA-associated aircraft involved in extraordinary rendition.

During their visit to Shannon, representatives of the Committee met with members of the Gardai including Chief Superintendent John Kerin and with airport officials before meeting again with Shannonwatch. They were informed that about 40,000 US troops had gone through Shannon so far this year. However Shannonwatch understands that airport officials said that US troops were not essential to the economics of Shannon Airport as they contribute relatively little, and that civilian passengers contribute far more with shopping, car parking and so on.

Amongst the topics covered in a constructive meeting between Shannonwatch representative Edward Horgan and the Committee were the non-searching of US military aircraft, and past indications from Gardai that the Attorney General had issued advice not to search suspected rendition planes.

“We had a long discussion on issue of Gardai searching or non-searching of US military and military chartered aircraft” said Mr Horgan. “Gardai continue to insist on needing a warrant from a judge to search chartered troop carriers, and it is even suggested that international diplomatic laws forbids them from searching US military aircraft. We have never received an adequate explanation of the legal basis for such claims”.

Shannonwatch asked the Oireachtas Committee to seek clarification of exactly what laws the government is referring to when it talks about sovereign immunity and chairperson Padraig MacLochlainn TD undertook to follow up on this.

Shannonwatch also raised the fact that military planes and chartered “civilian” troop carriers are treated differently and pointed out that both are bound by international laws on neutrality. “We also pointed out the direct contradiction in government policies when they continue to declare a policy of neutrality while being in gross breach of international laws on neutrality. We recommended that the Committee should consult an international law expert on neutrality and they agreed. Matters of policy are primarily a matter for legislators rather than Gardai.”

“The issue of whether or not a former Attorney General issued advice that suspect rendition aircraft, and maybe even US military aircraft, should not be searched has not yet been adequately addressed.” said Mr Horgan. “If such advice was ever given it would be a very serious matter, and for that reason it needs to be fully investigated.”

Prior to the Committee’s visit to Shannon Padraig MacLochlainn noted that Shannonwatch have also made serious claims that complaints or requests made to Gardaí at Shannon have not been followed up. He went on to say that “The series of meetings on the ground in Shannon tomorrow will assist the Committee in following up this controversial issue. We will also be able to assess first-hand Shannonwatch’s call for an independent inquiry in relation to what they perceive as the failure to investigate aircraft suspected to be involved in illegal rendition.”

During the meeting Shannonwatch’s Edward Horgan noted that while legal issues such as neutrality are important, the reality that Ireland has been facilitating wars in which hundreds of thousands of innocent people including children are being killed, while failing in our constitutional and moral responsibilities to promote international peace and justice, is of greater importance. “We will not allow our government or the Gardai to ignore that fact” said Mr Horgan.

Shannonwatch are organising a large demonstration at Shannon Airport on October 12th at 2pm. It is being supported by peace and anti-war groups from around Ireland, and is being held at a time of renewed bombing in the Middle East by the US and its allies.

Just A Second! – New Development Education Resource Published

i Sep 17th Comments Off by

 

Just A Second coverJust A Second! Exploring Global Issues Through Drama and Theatre is a development education resources offering school groups an accessible guide to exploring global issues through drama and theatre. The book opens with coverage of Afri’s 2013-2014 ‘Just A Second!’ project which focused on the theme of militarisation. This is followed by the full texts of five mini-plays that were devised with young people taking part in Afri initiated development education projects in primary and secondary schools during the years 2005-2011.

These plays can be read or acted out, but more importantly are designed to act as a stimulus for further drama exploration, discussion and debate. With this in mind they are accompanied by multiple suggestions for follow-up activities, linking across the curriculum so that schools groups, youth theatres, college students and others can explore the themes and issues raised for themselves.

Pete Mullineaux is an Arts facilitator currently working on Afri’s ‘Just A Second!’ schools programme in secondary schools in Galway.

If you are interested in this publication please contact the Afri office: ph: 01 8827563 or admin@afri.ie

This publication received funding from Irish Aid’s WorldWise Global Schools and Concern WorldWide.

Remembering Gerry Conlon, Supporting Chelsea Manning

i Sep 16th Comments Off by

Report by Genny Bove

The Irish greeting Céad míle fáilte (a hundred thousand welcomes) is no exaggeration. Over in Dublin from Wales again for a few days, this time with Chelsea Manning’s Mum Susan, we are once again experiencing the extraordinary hospitality, warmth and staunch solidarity of our friends here, and it’s wonderful.

Thursday night we gathered at the Teachers’ Club in central Dublin for an evening gathering Resisting Injustice organised by Afri to remember the late, great Gerry Conlon who met and offered his support to Chelsea’s family and who spoke so eloquently against injustice and for Chelsea Manning last November, just a few months before his untimely death from cancer this June.

Donal O’Kelly, the creative force behind January’s Manning Truthfest, was MC for the night. Donal has helped keep the cause in the public eye in myriad ways, most recently dedicating the World’s Best Radio Show award for his play Francisco to Chelsea Manning.

Nuala Kelly

Human rights campaigner, Nuala Kelly, speaking about Gerry Conlon at Resisting Injustice. Photo: Dave Donnellan

The first speaker was Nuala Kelly, whose talk drew on her extensive experience of supporting Irish prisoners in overseas jails. She recounted how she had at first been more aware of Giuseppe Conlon’s arrest back in 1975 than that of his son Gerry but how later, in her work with the Irish Council for Prisoners Overseas, she became involved in supporting Gerry and his family in their quest for justice. Nuala emphasised the impact on families when a person is imprisoned and the importance of offering support and working alongside families. She described how the campaign to free the Guildford Four, Maguire Seven and Birmingham Six started to gain momentum, with local groups little by little getting involved and taking their own solidarity initiatives, such as a women’s group organising street stalls in central Dublin. If we are going to build an effective campaign to free Chelsea, we need to find ways to engage as many people as possible as well as being mindful of the perspectives of both the prisoner and her family. (more…)

War Games at Croke Park

i Sep 3rd Comments Off by
A USAF F-16C over Iraq in 2008.  Source: Wikipedia

A USAF F-16C over Iraq in 2008. Source: Wikipedia

I was planting a tree in the garden of my north Dublin home on Saturday afternoon when the silence was shattered by a sudden thunderous roar, the like of which I had never heard before, while I caught a glimpse of a black streak flashing across the sky. My wife ran from the house alarmed and fearful – thinking that an attack of some sort was actually taking place. In our local vegetable shop, a staff member reported customers instinctively ‘running for cover’ as they were overwhelmed by the deafening noise. A man in his 70s who was repairing a house nearby had to go inside for an hour as a result of the shock.

We later learned that the cause of our Saturday afternoon jolt was two F-16 war planes, performing a fly-past for the American football match in Croke Park. I thought of the fear that, if only for a few seconds, these war planes had generated. The vaguest hint, perhaps, of what it must be like for families in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere for whom this is a daily reality, except in these instances it is no propagandist fly-past as the war planes ‘deliver’ death, destruction and misery. I thought of what it would be like for my own children if this had been the ‘real thing’, and of those children for whom this sound is the last they will ever hear! (more…)

Afri expresses outrage at the “fly past” by 2 U.S. jet fighters as part of the U.S. football match in Croke Park on Saturday 30th August

i Sep 1st Comments Off by

The justice and peace group Afri have expressed outrage at the “fly past” by 2 U.S. jet fighters as part of the U.S. football match in Croke Park at the weekend.

“Many people in the surrounding areas were shocked and frightened when the silence of a quiet Saturday afternoon was shattered by the thunder of 2 F16 fighter jets which, without warning or explanation, flew overhead in a “lap of honour” for the participating teams.  What would it be like if, as in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere, they were firing the missiles which are their stock in trade?  Who gave consent for this invasion of Irish air space by elements of the U.S. war machine? Is it appropriate that the headquarters of Ireland’s national games, built over many years by the pence and shillings, cents and euros, of loyal supporters should be used as a backdrop for U.S. war propaganda?

If official permission was given, Afri would condemn the authorities in Croke Park and the Irish Government for collusion with this disgraceful display.  As with Shannon Airport, this shows a typically supine attitude by the Irish Government to U.S. power.  Is there no limit to our willingness to prostrate ourselves before the altar of U.S. militarism?   Sport should be a means of bringing people together and promoting peace, not a vehicle for promoting war and militarism,” said Dr. Iain Atack of Afri.

Should there be a recurrence of this event in future years, Afri stated that it will mobilise people to protest against such obscene conflation of war and sport.

Article in the Irish Times by Fiona Gartland: Croke Park Classic: fighter jet fly-past upsets people, dogs and anti-war group

Resisting Injustice

i Aug 28th Comments Off by

gerry conlon evening poster smallerA Memorial evening for Gerry Conlon in solidarity with Chelsea Manning, Thursday 11th September, 7pm in the Teachers’  Club, Dublin 1

Entrance on a donation basis – To book tickets: click here

Gerry Conlon of the Guilford Four, a victim of the one of the most serious miscarriages of justice in recent history, devoted much of his life on his release from prison, to campaigning on behalf of other prisoners and highlighting human rights abuses worldwide.

In November 2013, Gerry spoke at an event in Trinity College in solidarity with whistleblower Chelsea Manning who was sentenced to 35 years in prison for revealing the truth about the war in Iraq. The meeting in November was attended by hundreds of people including the family of Chelsea Manning. Gerry Conlon spoke movingly about his own experiences, the courage of Chelsea Manning and the importance of whistleblowers in revealing miscarriages of justice. This address will feature as part of the Memorial evening, and will include a reflection on Gerry Conlon by human rights campaigner Nuala Kelly.  It will also include contributions from leading musicians and actors such as Joe Black, Simon Meyler, Sorcha Fox, RoJ Whelan, Donal O’Kelly  and more!

Entrance by donation. Donations from the event will go to the Manning Family Fund.

To book tickets: click here

See also our facebook event page 

Iraq calls for global ban as study confirms depleted uranium cancer risks

i Aug 28th Comments Off by

img_457Iraq has called for an international treaty banning depleted uranium (DU) weapons in a report to the United Nations as evidence continues to mount of their risks to civilians. Iraq’s report, published ahead of this autumn’s UN General Assembly where DU weapons will be debated, also urges member states and UN agencies to adopt a proactive approach to the issue and condemn the use of the weapons. Iraq is the country most affected by wartime DU contamination, with at least 400,000kg used by the US and UK in 1991 and 2003’s conflicts.

The International Coalition to Ban Uranium Weapons (ICBUW) has also called for DU weapons to be banned, just as anti-personnel landmines and cluster bombs have been. ICBUW argues that the weapons are inherently indiscriminate and that their legacy persists long after the end of conflict.

“ICBUW warmly welcomes Iraq’s intervention,” said ICBUW Coordinator Doug Weir. “We hope that it will act as a reminder that the legacy of these weapons lasts well beyond the end of conflicts and disproportionately affects the civilian population. The complete lack of obligations on the users of DU weapons to clean up their mess leaves civilians at risk of exposure as clearance is expensive, technically challenging and often beyond the ability of countries recovering from war.”

New report: dozens of new studies reveal health risks
Little was known about the risks to civilians posed by DU weapons prior to their first major use in the 1991 Gulf War, with significant uncertainties persisting until the present day. However a new analysis of nearly 50 peer-reviewed studies has concluded that the chemically toxic and radioactive substance can damage DNA and cause cancer, the report calls for urgent studies into the extent to which civilians are being exposed to DU.
All radioactive substances that emit alpha radiation, including DU, have already been classified by the WHO’s specialist International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) as Group 1 carcinogens if they get inside the human body. Studies show that DU can also damage DNA and cellular processes in a number of different ways, such as by triggering oxidative damage, breaking DNA strands and binding directly to the DNA itself. Other papers have documented that DU can cause mutations in DNA, change the structure of chromosomes, make cells become cancerous and destabilise the genome.

“These studies contain irrefutable evidence of the damage that DU can do,” said David Cullen, one of the report’s authors. “It is completely unacceptable that this material was used in weapons before the effects were properly understood. We urgently need research to find out how much DU is getting into those people who are forced to live, work and play in areas contaminated by DU weapons so we can make a full assessment of the risks”.

Studies into DU’s impact in the field have been severely hampered in Iraq by the refusal of the United States to release data on where the weapons were fired and in what quantity. The chance release of a handful of coordinates earlier this year indicated that DU had been used against a far wider range of targets in Iraq than was legal and in populated areas, increasing the risks that civilians would be exposed.

Notes:

Iraq’s report to the United Nations
Iraq’s report is available here with analysis of all the reports here. This October, the United Nations will consider a 5th biennial General Assembly resolution on the risks posed by DU weapons. The last, in 2012, was supported by 155 states and opposed by just four – the US, UK, France and Israel. Further information on the legacy of DU use in Iraq can be found in the reports In a State of Uncertainty and Laid to Waste by PAX.

Download the new scientific review
The new study ‘Malignant Effects: depleted uranium as a genotoxin and carcinogen’ is available to download here.

About ICBUW
The International Coalition to Ban Uranium Weapons (ICBUW) campaigns for a ban on the use of uranium in all conventional weapons and weapon systems and for monitoring, health care, compensation and environmental remediation for communities affected by their use. ICBUW represents more than 160 organisations worldwide and seeks to do for uranium weapons what the International Coalition to Ban Landmines and Cluster Munition Coalition did for those types of weapons, in essence to develop a uranium weapons treaty that would prohibit the use of uranium in all conventional, i.e. non-nuclear, weapons.

About depleted uranium weapons
For a quick overview of depleted uranium, the weapons and key issues see our briefing: http://www.bandepleteduranium.org/en/overview

International Scientists Support Call For Island Of Ireland Fracking Ban

i Aug 18th Comments Off by

3769435_370Afri welcomes the decision by Northern Ireland Environment Minister Mark Durkan not to award a license to Australian mining company Tamboran Resources who sought to begin test drilling work on the Cavan-Fermanagh border as part of its ambitious fracking plans for the island of Ireland. The group say nothing short of an all-Ireland ban on fracking is needed and that leaders in Dublin and Belfast should follow the lead of the French and German governments in banning fracking while prioritising renewable energy sources. According to Afri Coordinator Joe Murray, fracking is a short-sighted solution to job creation and energy supply, which he says compromises water supplies, farming, wildlife and air quality.

Afri’s campaign is backed up by leading international scientists who are supporting Afri’s online campaign for an all-Ireland ban on fracking.

These include renowned scientist Dr. Ken Caldeira from the Carnegie Institution for Science at Stanford University who said:

“We know we need to be heading towards a near zero emission energy and transportation systems. Expansion of the dirtiest corners of the fossil fuel industry is a step in the wrong direction. We need to be developing and deploying the near zero emission clean energy technologies of the future, not expanding last century’s archaic energy system. We can no longer afford to be building energy and transportation systems that assume we can continue to use the sky as a waste dump.” (more…)

Afri’s Tree Planting Project

i Aug 14th Comments Off by
Trees_WEB

Native tree saplings growing in the Afri site in Native Woodland Trust’s forest, Laragh, Wicklow

As part of Afri’s work in promoting sustainable development we have, for the past year and a half, adopted a policy of not just planting a native tree at each of Afri’s signature events, but of supporting the development of a small, native woodland forest, near Laragh, in County Wicklow.  Accordingly, we have developed a partnership with the Native Woodland Trust which is dedicated to the preservation of Ireland’s ancient woodlands and to the planting of new trees and woods all over Ireland.  Afri staff members recently visited the Laragh site to view the burgeoning forest!  You can support this work by sponsoring a tree via the Native Woodland Trust’s website  (please indicate that you would like your tree to be part of the Afri ‘forest’).

Sign_WEB

Shannonwatch Welcomes Attempts by TDs Clare Daly and Mick Wallace to Inspect US Military Aircraft at Shannon Airport

i Jul 23rd Comments Off by

Shannonwatch, 22 July 2014

Shannonwatch welcomes attempts by TDs Mick Wallace and Clare Daly to inspect US military aircraft at Shannon earlier today. At a time when the airport may be helping to supply the weapons used by Israel to kill and main civilians in Gaza, it is vitally important that we have proper oversight of what is on the military planes at the airport. Despite repeated requests, the authorities refuse to search the planes to ensure they are not in breach of international law.

“We are being told repeatedly that there is no proof there are illegal weapons on the planes” said Mick Wallace. “It is nonsense to suggest that none of them are involved in military operations or that there are no weapons on board these planes, which is what the government says. But because the authorities won’t search the planes to find out if that is the case, people like us have to do it.” (more…)

Blood Fruit

i Jul 15th Comments Off by
At the premiere of "Blood Fruit" in Galway: (from left to right) Theresa Mooney, Karen Gearon, Sinead O'Brien (film director), Cathryn O'Reilly, Liz Deasy, Michelle Gavin, Sandra Griffin, Joe Murray (Afri) and Mary Manning.

At the premiere of “Blood Fruit” in Galway: (from left to right) Theresa Mooney, Karen Gearon, Sinead O’Brien (film director), Cathryn O’Reilly, Liz Deasy, Michelle Gavin, Sandra Griffin, Joe Murray (Afri) and Mary Manning.

Members of Afri were delighted to attend the premiere of ‘Blood Fruit’ in Galway recently. Director Sinead O’Brien has ensured that the eventual telling of this extraordinary story on the big screen was worth the long wait. The film recounts the story of ten exceptional young workers in Dunnes Stores in Henry Street who took the courageous decision to refuse to handle ‘the fruits of apartheid’ in 1984. This decision was to have major consequences for the workers themselves – being locked out for more than 2 years – and internationally as the story became known around the world. It resulted in a rare and amazing victory when the Irish Government banned the importation of fruit and vegetables from South Africa.

The film relays the experience of the daily drudgery on the picket line as well as their invitation to address the UN, their meeting with Desmond Tutu en route to receive the Nobel Peace prize and their abortive visit to South Africa where they were held by armed police before being sent home on the next plane. This is a compelling and inspiring story which should be compulsory viewing for people of all ages, reflecting what is best in human nature – the ability to empathise with the suffering of others even in faraway places and to express solidarity to the point of making a real and significant difference.

Nelson Mandela had said that the action of the strikers had helped him during his imprisonment and, in a message sent to the strikers via Afri for the premiere, Archbishop Tutu saluted them, describing them as ‘a beacon of hope’ and ‘part of the history of South Africa’s struggle for freedom’.

Afri supports Palestinian Appeal for Solidarity and Humanitarian Intervention

i Jul 15th Comments Off by

The on-going humanitarian crisis in Gaza has in recent times once more reached such a level of frenzied depravity that it is too easy to become frozen in a kind of shocked paralysis. The fact that it comes amidst a persecution by the Israeli powers of the Palestinian people that has spanned many decades and the earthly lives of countless Palestinian souls, makes it seem all the more unjust and no less intensely disturbing.

Horribly stuck in a traumatic historical time warp, it is as if the crimes of past wars have achieved the ultimate victory over humanity by the perpetuation of these same crimes by their victims on other human beings.

The parallels between the terrible crime against humanity that was the genocide of the Jewish and other people by the Nazi regime, and the crimes against humanity and apparent genocide being conducted by Israel against the Palestinian people today, are so obvious that it seems redundant to even speak of them.

Yet in the face of an impotent international political system and an international community that, for the most part, remains resolutely silent in the face of such crimes, then failing to speak of these parallels (when recognising the sovereignty of all life) is a kind of treason: a betrayal not just of innocent Palestinian civilians but of humanity everywhere. (more…)