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…)
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’.
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…)
The third episode in the “Airing Erris” series was held yesterday in Ceathrú Thaidhg in Erris, County Mayo. This episode focussed on policing and included contributions from former UN assistant Secretary-General Denis Halliday, Goldman Environmental prize winner Willie Corduff, former Garda and Human Rights Monitor Bernard McCabe, peace activist Margaretta D’Arcy and investigative journalist Gemma O’Doherty. Garda Whistleblower John Wilson, also attended, and spoke about his experiences of Garda corruption.
The event was livestreamed by Atlantic Livestream and can be watched again here.
Lorna Siggins also wrote an article about the event in the Irish Times: Ex-UN official calls for presidential commission to investigate Garda
Noel Sharkey, Professor of Artificial Intelligence and Robotics at the University of Sheffield, has said an international ban must be put in place now, before one country starts using them in conflict, opening the door to others to follow suit.
Speaking at the Euroscience Open Forum in Copenhagen, Professor Sharkey noted that so far no nation has openly used entirely autonomous aircraft, submarines, surface vessels or tanks that are capable of tracking, selecting, targeting and deploying weapons entirely by themselves and based on algorithms. However, such systems are already being developed by a number of countries, including the US, China, Israel, Taiwan and Russia. However, because they have not yet been used, an opportunity is there to ban them before nations race to develop and start using them.
To read more: click here
Professor Sharkey was also interviewed about the Campaign to Ban Killer Robots on RTE: click here
Developmenteducation.ie and the Irish Development Education Association (IDEA) have created a new, online space to showcase projects, advocacy, campaigns and actions in development education for schools, community and youth groups. Afri’s 2013 Famine Walk is one of the case studies that you can now read about: http://www.developmenteducation.ie/taking-action
‘From Famine to Food Sovereignty’ was the theme of the 2014 Afri Famine walk in The Doolough valley in May. Here is a short film about the Walk made by Dave Donnellan
In Autumn of 2013, Afri was approached by Ciaron O’Reilly and asked if we would host a visit to Ireland by the family of Chelsea Manning. We were, of course, delighted to do so and to organise a Solidarity meeting in Trinity College onNovember 29th. Among the speakers at that meeting was Gerry Conlon who gave this profoundly moving and passionate address.
Airing Erris 3 with a special message from Desmond Tutu and featuring Willie Corduff, Denis Halliday, Margaretta D’Arcy, Bernard McCabe and Gemma O’Doherty will take place in Erris on 6th July. The event will be live-streamed by Atlantic Stream via the following link: