Afri was proud and delighted to host a series of events and meetings in solidarity with imprisoned Chelsea (Bradley) Manning’s mother Susan, Aunts Mary and Sharon, and Uncle Kevin. The family travelled from their home in Haverford West, South Wales, to Dublin, the birthplace of their father. In what is a continuing indictment of the Irish Government’s subservience to US power, Pvt. Manning had transited through Shannon on the way to the war on Iraq. He was subsequently tortured in Kuwait and Quantico and is now serving 35 years imprisonment in Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas, for courageously exposing the horrors of the endless U.S ‘war on terror’.
Afri invited independent T.D. Catherine Murphy to host a meeting of TDs and Senators in the Dáil for the family which was attended by Joe Higgins, Clare Daly, Ming Flanagan, Sean Crowe and Katherine Zappone among others. The family was also welcomed on arrival at the Dáil by Senator David Norris. Very moving interviews with Sharon and Kevin were carried later on RTÉ news and on Drivetime. The visit was also covered by a number of newspapers and radio stations. The family also met with Amnesty International, Front Line Defenders and the Public Interest Law Alliance (PILA)
On Friday night, over 100 people gathered at Trinity College to hear a powerful presentation by Gerry Conlon who had served 15 years in prison in Britain, having been tortured & framed as part of the Guilford 4. His father, Giuseppe, who was also framed, died in prison. The film ‘In the Name of the Father’ recounts this tragic story. The day following the meeting was the 39th anniversary of Gerry’s kidnapping by police from his home in Belfast. Gerry reminded us, that it is not only the prisoner who suffers the consequences of imprisonment but also the families and this was confirmed by the Manning family who have borne the brunt of media invasion and harassment, particularly by the prison authorities, during visits. This ordinary – yet extraordinary – family have, however, maintained their dignity and their pride in Chelsea’s actions right throughout this long and painful ordeal.
Gerry Conlon, drawing on his own painful experience, reminded the audience of how important people like Chelsea Manning are: people with the courage to expose lies, criminality and corruption carried out by States and concealed under the guise of ‘state secrets’. We need whistleblowers today, as never before, and we need to support them when they have the courage to speak out and tell the truth.
Carmen Trotta (from the New York Catholic Worker Movement) also spoke about where the “war on terror” has brought us and the significance of the courage and actions of Pvt. Manning. Other highlights of the evening were when Joe Black played his song “Giuseppe Conlon” for Gerry Conlon and Roj played “Free Bradley Manning” for the Manning family.
Lawyer Gareth Peirce joined us on video from London having recorded a speech that afternoon. You can watch this video here.
On Saturday night we had a party in the Brian Boru pub in Phibsborough with Joe Black, Robbie Synnot and a brief appearance by Elvis.
Press Release from the Kuala Lumpur Foundation to Criminalise War
KUALA LUMPUR, 20 November 2013 – The Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Tribunal (KLWCT) commenced hearing of genocide and war crimes charges against the State of Israel and Amos Yaron, a retired Israeli army general today.
In the prosecution’s opening statement by Prof Gurdial S. Nijar, he stated that this trial is significant as it charges a nation that thumbs its nose at UN resolutions; decisions of the ICJ and shakes our confidence in the meaning of civilisation.
Prof Gurdial stated, that the prosecution intends to give incontrovertible proof of the incredible crimes conceived since 1945 and which still continues until today. He stressed in his statement that for the Palestinians, it is a continuing tragic saga of huge proportions. What they term as Nakba or ‘catastrophe’ which started in 1948 with their forced dispossession and eviction from their homeland is a history of the present: an on-going dispossession, dislocation, massacres, ethnic cleansing and all else. In short, the continuity of the trauma is not just the result of 1948 but an on-going process, and continuing into the present and linked to current Israeli policies and practices. (more…)
An Evening for Private Manning
With members of Manning’s family in attendance.
Gerry Conlon of the Guildford Four to speak.
Human Rights Lawyer Gareth Peirce also invited.
Friday 29th November
Edmund Burke Theatre, Trinity College Dublin.
Entrance by donation.
More information: Afri, 01 8827563
Meeting co-sponsored by ISE, Trinity College Dublin
Link to Manning’s 28th February statement: http://wiseupaction.info/about-2/full-transcript-with-leaked-audio-of-brads-feb-23-statement/
In our history, Hedge Schools were places of learning, continuity and resistance, emerging out of the draconian Penal Laws that forbade formal education to most Irish people. Learning about and resisting the causes of poverty is at the heart of Afri’s work and the Hedge School symbolizes the kind of resilience and creativity needed to address the crisis facing our world as a result of climate change and the obscenity of the war industry.
As Joe Murray (Afri’s Co-ordinator) noted in his opening address the crisis facing our world today cannot be over estimated but it also represents an opportunity to bring about the kind of change that is urgently needed. Justine Nantale spoke about the effects of climate change in her country, Uganda. She noted that most people in Uganda are dependent on farming and when the rains don’t come they are very badly affected. For them, climate change is not something to be debated, but a living reality.
The 2013 Hedge School was organised in partnership with the students from the Institute of Technology in Blanchardstown (ITB). The students played a hands-on role throughout the day from being involved in the decoration of the room, to introducing speakers, to making presentations on the themes, to composing poetry, music and dance! Right from the start participants were also invited to critically engage with the themes, with an interesting question being raised at the start of the day: how many people had used cars to arrive at the venue? The answer: the overwhelming majority as evidenced by a packed car park by 9.30am! This highlighted the dependency Irish people have on fossil fuels.
This dependency on fossil fuels was addressed up in the debate between David Horgan (from Petrel Resources) and William Hederman (Journalist): “Natural Resources: Whose Gain, Whose Pain? From Ireland to the Wider World.” David Horgan argued that the Irish Government needs to open up the oil exploration licences and allow for aggressive exploration particularly in the current economic climate. William responded that the Government’s terms in relation to exploration licences are some of the worst in the world, heavily favouring the oil companies, and that climate change has not been taken into consideration at all in this debate around our resources. Scientists, in a recent IPCC report, acknowledged that human activity is 95% likely to have caused climate change.
Conflict is also linked to resources, as John Lannon from Shannonwatch pointed out, as conflict often breaks out over countries trying to secure their own energy supply. An incredible $1,700 billion dollars is wasted annually on the arms industry, which is obviously diverted from other more important needs. Worryingly, despite Ireland being a neutral country, we find ourselves now complicit in wars such as those in Afghanistan and Iraq due to the use of Shannon airport by U.S. military troops.
One thing that struck home was a word used by Justine: the Swahili word “pamoja” which means “together”, “oneness” or “interconnectedness”. Any solution to the climate crisis that faces us all must come from us acting together. As part of all Afri events a tree is planted as a visceral and direct way of tackling climate change. This year Afri planted three trees in Farnaght Woods in Leitrim as part of the Native Woodland Trust’s project to restore Ireland’s tree cover. In solidarity with this Afri’s partner in Kenya – The Kenya Pastoralist Journalist Network – also planted a tree in Kenya, highlighting the fact that we are all affected by climate change and all need to be part of the solution in whatever way we can be.
There was also powerful drama from Donal O’Kelly and Gary White Deer gave a presentation on ‘Art of campaigning’ in a day that was informative, varied, challenging, engaging and thought provoking.
Afri is particularly grateful to IT Blanchardstown for being excellent partners in An Scoil Chois Claí 2013.
Tuesday 5th November 2013
9.30 am – 4.30 pm
Room A57, A Block, I.T. Blanchardstown (for directions click here)
Programme for the day
9.30 am Registration
10 am Opening
10.15 am Natural Resources: Whose Gain, Whose Pain? From Ireland to the Wider World
Debate between David Horgan (Petrel Resources) and William Hederman (Journalist) with Q&A
11.15 am Panel Discussion with Justine Nantale (Uganda), Kevin Murphy (ITB) and a speaker from Shannonwatch
12.30 pm End of Art is Peace
Music and dance by I.T. Blanchardstown students
12.45 pm Gary White Deer (Choctaw Artist): The Art of Campaigning
1.45pm Donal O’Kelly’s play “Fionnuala”
2.35pm World cafe
To book a place, call the Afri office 01 8827563 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Afri gratefully acknowledges the support of Irish Aid and Trócaire
The human rights group Afri has said it is dismayed but not surprised by the revelation, given in response to a Dáil question, that a US military aircraft “armed with a fixed weapon” stopped at Shannon airport early last month. Afri opposes the use of Shannon by US military because of the way it implicates Ireland in the slaughter of tens of thousands of innocent people in the US’s disastrous wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Afri believes, as confirmed by groups such as Shannon Watch, that weapons are regularly transported through Shannon, the only difference being that on this occasion the weapon was visible. The ongoing arrogance of the US was again in evidence in the failure by the Embassy even to answer questions about the type of aircraft or weapon where the aircraft had flown from or its destination.
Afri is appalled by the craven attitude of the Irish Government and by Mr Gilmore’s bending over backwards in an embarrassing attempt to explain and excuse this ‘administrative error’.
Afri once again calls on the Government to end this practice of participating in proxy war by handing our airports over to the US war machine.
The Clean Clothes Campaign Ireland is joining its European partners in launching a new campaign calling on clothing companies to Pay a Living Wage to garment workers. The Pay a Living Wage campaign begins on 21st October with a week of action in 15 European countries.
The campaign launch comes exactly six months after the devastating collapse of Rana Plaza, in which 1,133 Bangladeshi workers were killed. Six months on from the largest industrial accident to hit the garment industry, millions of workers continue to have no choice but to risk their lives in order to afford a decent life.
In Bangladesh, where an estimated 4 million people work in the garment industry, the current minimum wage is just €28.60 (3,000 taka) a month. This is 11% of the €259.80 (27,369 taka) that Clean Clothes Campaign partner the Asia Floor Wage Alliance calculates to be a living wage for the country.
For many workers, the lack of a living wage means they must work long hours to earn overtime or bonuses and cannot risk taking time off due to unsafe working conditions or for ill health.
“We force ourselves to work long hours because the salary is not enough to live on, especially because my parents are dependent on my salary as well” says Horn Vy, a 25 year old garment worker in Cambodia.
For Horn Vy and other Cambodian garment workers the minimum wage is €60.95 (336,000 riel), just 21% of the €289.64 (1,596,059 riel) the Asia Floor Wage Alliance calculates to be a living wage in Cambodia.
“A living wage should be earned before overtime and allow a garment worker to be able to feed herself and her family, pay the rent, pay for healthcare and education and have a small amount of savings for when something unexpected happens.” says Kate Nolan, Clean Clothes Campaign Ireland.
The Irish Clean Clothes Campaign has brought this issue into focus with their 50sense Campaign, choosing to highlight the truly tiny amount extra it would cost to achieve a living wage within the garment supply chain.
“Arguments of supply and demand and cost sensitive markets don’t stand up against such a insignificant number. Just 50 cent more per garment, paid directly to a worker is the difference between her living with dignity or within a spiraling poverty trap.” says Kate Nolan, Clean Clothes Campaign Ireland.
The increase of this €0.50 per garment would account for an adjustment of between just 2% and 3.5% to a retailer’s profit margin, a mere drop in the ocean of retailers like Penneys, H&M or Benetton who’s profits soar into the billions each year but as of yet no retailer has successfully integrated a living wage system into their supply chains.
Yet a recent survey carried out by Clean Clothes Campaign Ireland shows consumers expect retailers to do just this. According to Nolan,
“We have seen a clear expectation expressed by consumers for retailers to pay a living wage to their workers. Of the 100 participants, 93% felt it was the responsibility of retailers to ensure their workers were paid a living wage, but we also saw that over 99% or consumers were willing to absorb part or all of the extra cost if retailers demanded it of them.”
“Companies must take steps to ensure they are paying a living wage in the countries they source from. Governments must ensure that minimum wages are set at levels that allow people to live with dignity. While low labour costs continue to be exploited throughout the industry it remains impossible to argue that the garment industry is benefitting those who work within it.”
The 50 sense Campaign is supported by NGOs, unions, schools, colleges and community groups across Ireland and from October 21st they will join activists and advocates for change across Europe to demand clothing companies take control of their supply chains and pay a living wage.
The Pay a Living Wage campaign is calling on:
• clothing brands and companies to take action by setting concrete and measurable steps throughout their supply chain to ensure garment workers get paid a living wage.
• national governments in garment producing countries to make sure minimum wages are set at living wage standards.
• European governments to implement regulation that make sure companies are responsible for the impact they have on the lives of workers in their supply chain, including their right to earn a living wage.
The week of action will see campaigners across Europe promoting a consumers’ living wage petition at press conferences, via social networks (#livingwage), films, street actions, conferences and celebrity testimonials.
Afri is supporting the Pay a Living Wage Campaign. You can sign a petition to demand that the people who make your clothes are paid a living wage:
The 2013 Hedge School will take place in Institute of Technology Blanchardstown, Dublin 15, on the themes of militarisation, conflict and the environment on Tuesday 5th November from 10am to 4.30pm in Room A57.
Registration takes place from 9.30am.
The Hedge School is being organised in partnership with the students from I.T. Blanchardstown . All are welcome.
For details on how to get to I.T. Blanchardstown, go here.
Further details will be posted closer to the event.
To book: contact the Afri office on 01 8827563 or by email at email@example.com
Spanner in the Works Theatre Company presents Diablo, a play on human trafficking in Ireland. Diablo is written and produced by Patricia Downey. It will be performed in NUI Maynooth (Student Common Room) at 7pm on Wednesday 16th October, and in Trinity College Dublin (ISE/Loyola Institute Building) at 8pm on Thursday 17th October. Tickets at the door: €10 (€5 students/concessions). Please note: this play contains violent sexual language and disturbing scenes. Over 18s I.D. is required.
Diablo has a small cast of 5 actors and is written by Patricia Downey, Artistic Director for Belfast based Spanner in the Works Theatre Company, which is partly funded by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland.
Spanner in the Works Theatre Company was established in Belfast in September 1998 and undertakes performances and workshops throughout Ireland, touring rural and urban communities. The main aim of the company is to provide challenging productions that will deal with difficult, hard hitting and controversial subject matter.
Speaking about the play’s challenging subject matter, Patricia Downey commented: “Human trafficking is a fast growing criminal enterprise due to the fact that it is relatively low risk but with a high profit potential. Sadly, criminal organisations are increasingly attracted to human trafficking because, unlike drugs, humans can be sold repeatedly.
“Diablo deals with the contentious matter of human trafficking. We might not be aware of it or like to acknowledge it, but this form of human exploitation is happening right here on our doorstep and I hope this play serves to increase awareness and, in turn, save lives.”
Northern Ireland Justice Minister, David Ford, who attended the opening production of Diablo in 2012, praised the Arts Council for funding the play. He said: “This important play shines the spotlight on human trafficking and should highlight the plight of victims in a way that will help raise awareness of this evil crime.” For further information on the upcoming performances of Diablo please visit www.aptireland.org and www.spannerintheworks.org
“I left the show quite literally speechless and with a renewed passion for the work that our organisation does to raise awareness of this issue. Patricia and her team leave no stone unturned as they unpack this complex crime in a riveting performance that is sure to move the hardest of hearts” ~ Mel Wiggins of Project ‘FREEDOM ACTS’ Craigavon Intercultural Programme.
Hairy Jaysus, Donal O’Kelly’s solo show inspired by Frank Sheehy Skeffington, will have its world premiere in the Viking Theatre @ Connollys’ The Sheds, Clontarf, Dublin, at 8pm for five nights from Monday 14th October until Friday 18th October.
Frank Sheehy Skeffington was James Joyce’s friend in UCD. When he professed to be an atheist, Joyce dubbed him ‘Hairy Jaysus’. He married Hanna Sheehy, they shared each other’s surnames, and campaigned for votes for women. He was a pacifist and a socialist. Close to James Connolly, he was active in support of the locked-out workers of Dublin in 1913. He served time in Mountjoy Jail for opposing recruitment for the First World War. He was summarily executed in Portobello Barracks Rathmines, on Wednesday of Easter Week 1916. He is rarely remembered among those executed.
Donal O’Kelly recently won a Fringe First in Edinburgh with his solo show about the Shell Corrib gas project, Fionnuala, also nominated for the Amnesty International Freedom of Expression award, and The Stage Best Solo Performer award. His 3-part musicdrama radio series, Francisco, which he wrote and directed, is nominated for Best Radio Fiction Series in the Prix Europa. Fishamble: The New Play Company will present his play, Little Thing Big Thing, on tour in Ireland early next year.
Hairy Jaysus will be broadcast on RTE Radio at 8pm on Sunday 1st December.
To book tickets (€10) contact The Viking Theatre: 087 1129970.