From the worsening plight of refugees around the world to mass unlawful killings; from the vicious crackdowns on dissenting voices to the rise of hate speech across Europe and the USA, the world in 2016 became a darker and more unstable place. As we fast approach 2018 will it be more of the same yet again, an inexorable slide into ever-deepening despair, or just some sort of crazy one-off madness? And what of the months that are left in 2017? With further disintegration in the offing from the Tory government, we could yet see more leadership contests and for the pound to plummet further as we encounter more delays in leaving the European union. We might expect those from the far right to back the Conservative government whichever way they twist and turn, along with their quest to not accept fair refugee quotas, and continue their fascist agendas to whatever ludicrous end, whilst we ourselves wait with fear and expect the worst to come.
Look at the madness that is Western interference in the Middle East. Large parts of Syria’s most populous city, Aleppo, were pounded to dust by air strikes and street battles; while the cruel onslaught against civilians in Yemen continued, the Conservative government sent in the RAF to strike alongside the Saudi-led coalition as bombing raids across Yemen killed thousands of civilians. The Ministry of Defence said that the military officials were not directly choosing targets or typing in codes for the Saudi “smart bombs” but confirmed that they were training their counterparts in doing so.
The Saudi air force, along with the United Arab Emirates and other Gulf allies, have backed the internationally recognised government in Yemen against a rebellion that swept much of the country from the north. But this coalition has been heavily criticised for striking civilian targets, and Britain is under particular fire as a major weapons supplier to the Saudi air force. The admission that British officers were working alongside Saudi and other coalition colleagues in the campaign’s operations rooms came in a briefing to journalists by the Saudi foreign minister, Adel al-Jubeir. Once more, the Tory government demonstrates its unerring ability to always back the wrong horse and sell weapons to the worst kind of murdering scum.
As world leaders failed to rise to the challenge of the global refugee crisis, 75,000 people remained trapped in a desert no-man’s land between Syria and Jordan, and thousands have already lost their lives trying to reach Europe, their last hope. We have seen images of children dying in their quest to flee their countries, torn to shreds by acts of war. We have to ask ourselves: when will it end? What is our own government doing to help refugees? Or are they too busy fighting among themselves to see that people who’ve been through genuine conflict need a safe place to live?
When fleeing military forces in fear of your life and that of your children, you won't stop to collect your worldly goods, liquidise all your assetts, or ensure you have enough foood for a journey you will undertake in the hope of finding a safe refuge. Children are always the innocent parties, and yet so often we see sickening comments from mindless individuals with their agenda's fixed to ridicule those unable to fully grasp the gravity of the situation they find themselves in. The MSM bias facilitating the devil's work, played out to immense ignorance and apathy. There has been a sickening moral attitude toward those of Muslim faith, be that toward adults or children, but simply must come to an end if we're ever able to move forward and look to a peaceful future.
We might remind ourselves of the tireless work done by Muslim communities in Britain whenever a disaster occurs, more recently the Grenfell fire, where Muslim communities helped with donations of food, water, clothing and shelter for survivors. We should also be reminded of the fact we have a large and growing homeless population, and that Muslim's are seen to be feeding and helping those unfortunate amoung us. It's not all Anjem Choudrey and his disciples of hate as the right wing MSM have tried to paint. The far right will hope that all we see are terrorists, but that's their agenda, they would! In fact there are good and bad in all walks of life, and in all nations including Britain. No organisation that preaches hate deserves any air time at all, yet we see that right wing MSM publish intentious articles on the very subject. Their agenda is abundantly clear!
Ethnic Rohingya Muslims fleeing Burmese security forces in Burma’s Rakhine State have described killings, shelling, and arson in villages that have all the hallmarks of a campaign of “ethnic cleansing.” Burmese army, police, and ethnic Rakhine armed groups have carried out operations against predominantly Rohingya villages since the August 25, 2017 attacks by Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) militants against about 30 police posts and an army base. Burmese army commander Sr. Gen. Min Aung Hlaing told the media that the government-approved military clearance operations in Rakhine State was “unfinished business” dating back to the Second World War. Burmese government security forces had carried out armed attacks on villagers, inflicting bullet and shrapnel injuries, and burned down their homes. They described the military’s use of small arms, mortars, and armed helicopters in the attacks. The military claimed that about 370 “terrorists”, 13 security forces, two government officials and 14 civilians had been killed in a week of fatal clashes. Listen to George Galloway speaking at a rally in Manchester on this terrible atrocity!
Hateful, divisive and dehumanising rhetoric in 2017 unleashed the darkest instincts of human nature. The election of Donald Trump as President of the USA followed a campaign of deeply divisive statements marked by misogyny and xenophobia, and pledges to roll back established civil liberties. Trump’s poisonous campaign talk and the policies that have followed exemplify a global trend towards more divisive politics, towards an abandonment of even the perception that the centre ground needs to be held. Let's not also forget the role played by a certain Nigel Farage, when he apparently 'advised' Trump. The flights back and forward to the USA were paid for by whom? Farage himself presumably. Or not as the case may be. After all, he is supposedly a man of the people, and don’t let his private education or record as a Home Counties banker get in the way of that fact. Look, he likes to get photographed outside a pub with a pint of warm bitter in front of him, but at least if he's in the pub, he's not kissing babies in the street. At least that's something positive!
The USA itself hit the news more recently over the incredible scenes in Charlottsville, Virginia. Just as incredible, in their own way, were the actions of Trump himself, as he attacked both sides (thus conflating anti-fascism with pro-fascism), before rowing back a little and issuing a more contrite prepared statement, only to go back on that and defend his original statement. What’s going on here? Because I’m a little confused. But deep down we knew this was always how it was going to be.
Across the world, leaders and politicians conjure up their narratives of fear and disunity, pinning blame on the ‘other’ for the grievances of the electorate. It’s never their fault. And the development of a mass-surveillance machine in the USA, as revealed by whistleblower Edward Snowden, continues with barely a murmur. The people do nothing to stop this, thinking, as they do, that nothing can be done. And all this time the people have no idea of the power they hold, and instead are content to let the media dictate to them and the government blame them.
Despite the lessons of the past, human dignity and equality came under relentless assault from powerful forces of blame, fear and scapegoating, spread by those who sought to hold power at almost any cost. The more countries that backtrack on fundamental human rights commitments at home, the less leadership we see on the world stage, with governments everywhere emboldened to join a global pushback against human rights. Oh how we could use another Dr Martin Luther King, Gandhi or Mandela at this point to help free us from a self-inflicted tyranny and the agendas of those high up in the pecking order of world dominance.
More than 90,000 public sector employees were dismissed on grounds of alleged ‘links to a terrorist organisation or threat to national security’ in Turkey during a coup attempt which had seen the country forced into a state of emergency, while hundreds more journalists were detained and media outlets permanently closed. Often stern measures were simply an attempt to mask government failures, such as in Venezuela, where the government sought to silence critics rather than address a spiralling humanitarian crisis. Every year has its low points, and this year is littered with them – and we still have almost 100 days left of this one.
In addition to the direct threats and attacks, there was an insidious chipping away at established civil and political freedoms in the name of security. The UK adopted a new law, the Investigatory Powers Act, which served to increase authorities’ powers to intercept, access, retain or otherwise hack digital communications and data without any requirement of reasonable suspicion against an individual, and of course pushed into law with sickening vigour by Theresa May. Very much 'her baby' and as we know it, 'the snoopers charter' is executive proof itself of the sinister way world governments are conspiring against the people who elect them to office. How does that make you feel? By introducing one of the most authoritarian mass surveillance programmes of any country in the world, the UK took a significant step towards a reality where the right to privacy is simply not recognised. This despite United Nations objections and disdain from the EU. (Remember them?)
There is hope in 2017. Every region of the world saw evidence that where formal structures of power are used to repress, people will find ways of rising up and being heard. Peaceful movements such as the International Women’s March, the pro-democracy protests in the Gambia and the Ayotzinapa student protests in Mexico should inspire us all to stand up for our freedoms. In the UK we're seeing more and more efforts from the 'free press' on social media, and thankful we should be for it. The internet is finally allowing us to deliver the sorts of news and comment that the British MSM would never go near. Let's not kid ourselves, the MSM, with their massive cash reserves and ready access to commercial gains, continue to be the main source of 'brainwashing' as they continue to package the news in whatever little nuggets they see fit. But no longer do people take what they see on mainstream news programmes as the truth. They have finally honed their truth filters to the point whereby even simple statements can be seen through, that being hit over the head with a ‘message’ is no longer acceptable.
We can find inspiration from activists of the past, and from individuals who've made a difference by taking a stand, be they civil rights activists in the USA, anti-apartheid activists in South Africa, or women’s rights and LGBTI movements, or indeed from the legends of the free press, who tirelessly write articles in the hope of waking up the slumbering masses! Courageous voices are needed, ordinary heroes who will stand up against injustice and repression, and especially against the demonisation and victimisation of benefit claimants which our present government appear to pursue with fervent vigor. The vulnerable in our society need as much help and support as we can offer, and rightfully we do so with pride. Nobody can take on the whole world, but everyone can change their own world and so often we do. When we are truly united and stand together in solidarity, we can move mountains. We have so much to offer, but presently are being kept firmly from doing so on the scale needed. And yet government is worried, and so they should be.
I know we cannot do everything and I do understand the world is a big place, and far too big for even a group of dedicated people to make more than a passing difference, but I do believe we can change things at the core itself. We used to have a moral government who went to war on poverty not the poor. We were the inventors and builders of great things, yet we are no longer regarded as either. Britain has changed so quickly as a moral 'for the people' country in a short space of time, to a country that's very close to becoming a fascist dictatorship, and sometimes some of us might wonder why that is. If we are to aspire it's to understand the dangers we face from a succession of governments who are not for the people, but are instead spokesperson's for those who hold the greater wealth.
We can change things by electing responsible leaders to represent us. I trust and will continue to back and urge others to vote for Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the Labour party. With Jeremy as prime minister, a start can finally be made on making life more bearable, more hopeful. There's so much injustice on our own shores these days, thanks to the Conservatives, and enough for Jeremy to sort out once we elect him into Downing Street. We are in charge of our own destinies, but we must also rely on the helping hand of a progressive, caring government. Time must not wait for us to be prisoners of conscience. Unity is strength, solidarity being the key to all our futures. The time for heroes is now.
Kenneth Walker for Political Provocateur