And Then They Came For The Poets…

Poet Nasser Saber Bondek was arrested on 17 February at his home by people believed to be members of the Syrian security forces. His whereabouts are unknown and his life is in danger; a man arrested in the same neighbourhood that day died in custody.

Nasser Saber Bondek’s wife, Farizah Jahjah Bondek, who lives abroad, told Amnesty International that a local contact had told her that members of the Syrian security forces believed to be Military Intelligence arrived at Nasser Saber Bondek’s house in the Damascus suburb of Sahnaya at around 6.30pm on 17 February, arrested him and broke items in the house. A released detainee has reported seeing Nasser Saber Bondek shortly after his arrest at the Military Intelligence Branch 227 in Damascus. Since then, his wife has not received any information on his whereabouts, though an unofficial source told her in late April that he was “ok”.

Among those who were arrested in Sahnaya that day are human rights lawyer Jihan Amin and student Ranim Ma’touq, (whose father, human rights lawyer Khalil Ma’touq, has been subjected to enforced disappearance) and another man, whose body was returned to his family about three weeks later, from the same Military Intelligence branch where Nasser Saber Bondek was last seen. A local contact told Amnesty International that a judge ordered Jihan Amin’s provisional release on 29 April after questioning her about “distributing aid to terrorists”, due to accusations that she had assisted people internally displaced as a result of the armed conflict in Syria, perceived by the Syrian authorities as family members of who they consider ‘terrorists’. Ranim Ma’touq is still detained, and is also on trial for “distributing aid to terrorists”, due to similar accusations that she had assisted internally displaced people.

The exact reasons for Nasser Saber Bondek’s arrest are unknown. His wife told Amnesty International that he engaged in humanitarian assistance activities, such as aiding the internally displaced. Farizah Jahjah Bondek is a peaceful political activist herself, and is known for attending demonstrations. She had fled Syria with their children out of fear of arrest by the authorities before her husband was arrested.

Nasser Saber Bondek works at part of the Ministry of Information, the Arab Organization for Advertising. He also writes poetry. He is originally from al-Suwayda, a predominantly Druze area in southern Syria near the Jordanian border. For further information on the two women also arrested in Sahnaya, see UA 38/14, 21 February 2014 ( http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/MDE24/009/2014/en ).

For an insight into the widespread torture and other ill-treatment in Syria’s detention centres, see I wanted to die: Syria’s torture survivors speak out ( http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/MDE24/016/2012/en ). Thousands are reported to have died in the custody of the Syrian security forces since unrest began in 2011. Amnesty International documented this practice in the report Deadly detention: Deaths in custody amid popular protest in Syria ( http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/MDE24/035/2011/en ).

If you felt like writing to the Syrian UN representative about this, you can contact them here: Permanent Representative to the UN
Bashar Ja’afari, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary
820 Second Avenue, 15th Floor, New York,
NY 10017
Fax: 001 212 983 4439
E-mail: exesec.syria@gmail.com  
Salutation: Your Excellency

The Noise From Brazil

Hi

As you may or may not know, there’s going to be some kind of football thing happening in Brazil shortly. Some people have denounced protesters who are pointing out that the government’s clearing of slums and crushing of any opposition is a bad thing, saying that they’re spoiling the event.

Since the spotlight’s focussed on Brazil at the moment, now seems like as good a time as any to highlight a few things that action needs to be taken. These are web actions, which can achieve some amount of difference, even though action pod is about taking direct action and affecting actual change, rather than pressing buttons and making virtual change. Still, if enough people get behind these campaigns, online and in the real world, things can happen to improve the situation. Check this out first: http://amnesty.org.uk/resources/local-groups-activity-pack-june-2014-brazil-world-cup-and-human-rights?fb_action_ids=10152036790517315&fb_action_types=og.likes&fb_ref=.U4uuZ0nlx0s.like&fb_source=aggregation&fb_aggregation_id=288381481237582

 

Riot police break up protest at death of Douglas Rafael Pereira da Silva, 24 April 2014 © AP

Riot police break up protest at death of Douglas Rafael Pereira da Silva, 24 April 2014 © AP

Also, down in the Amazon basin, there’s this going on, so you might want to sign: http://uk.whales.org/campaigns/stop-illegal-killing-of-river-dolphins

river-dolphin-infographic

Don’t destroy the dolphins.

These aren’t the only issues, of course. We’ll keep updating this with the results as they come in, rather than just leaving things as a cut and dry issue. There are many more problems in the country to resolve – go out and find out more for yourself and do something about them!

Cheers!

The Action Pod Team

The Action Pod Generic Racist Response Fact Pack!

Hey there!

Isn’t it great living in Great Britain? Of course it is, that’s why so many foreign people want to live there. It’s nothing to do with freedom of movement in the EU and availability of jobs, is it? Well, we have frankly become so fed up with arguing with moronic racists that we thought we would compile this little fact pack that we will use by posting a link to it at any opportunity instead of feeling the need to reason with the unreasonable dullards. It might change their mind, it might not, but at least it won’t waste as much time trying to explain things rationally when they’re just bellowing rage and want to blame people in difficult situations rather than the people who put them in those situations.

To begin with, here are some facts that British nationalists might not want to hear:

– Britain does NOT take more asylum seekers, refugees or immigrants than other countries. In the EU, as at 2013, Austria has most at a whopping 15% (that is such a great majority, isn’t it? they’re taking over!), then Switzerland and Spain at 14% of its population being immigrants, including a lot of British people (but that’s ok, isn’t it, as it’s the other way around, and British ex-pats in Spain are usually so calm, reserved, and great representatives of our proud nation. You never see them getting rat-arsed and leery, smashing up the villas and puking in the swimmingpools, do you?). Germany has 12% and the UK has about the same. The countries that take the most asylum seekers, refugees and immigrants are those next to war torn countries, usually countries that our country is destroying in its lust for resources.

– Countries next to war torn countries should not be made to shoulder the burden, as they’re usually as messed up and poor as the countries that Western and Eastern powers are struggling over there.

– Immigration improves the economy and culture. (see the handy links below for details)

 

So… what exactly did foreigners ever do for us? Well, they did happen to invent the following:

– Paper and printing originated in China (Papyrus scrolls originated in Egypt over 5000 years ago, but China perfected the process about 2000 years ago in 105 AD into the form of paper that we know today)

– The magnetic compass also came from China

– As did gunpowder

– Silk too (although we should probably really thank silkworms for that)

– Trigonometry came from ancient Egypt

– The ancient Egyptians also invented scissors

– The numerical system currently adopted across the globe emerged among the Hindus of India, though Europeans refered to this system via Arabic numerals as it was the Arabs who were the intermediaries through which these numbers reached medieval Europe

– Religion (for all its faults) came from the Middle East

– Greek philosophy came through translations from Arabic, which were then retranslated into Latin and the vernacular languages of the West Europeans

– The English language is strongly based on Latin roots, mixed with French, Italian, Yiddish, Indian, Arabic and Germanic Saxon origins

– The game of chess came out of India

– The current British Royal Family has recent German and Greek roots

– The founder of Burtons, one of the most popular fashion shops in Britain, Sir Montague Burton, originally came from Lithuania

– Michael Marks, initial creator of Marks and Spencer, was a Polish Jewish immigrant

– Batteries were invented by Italians

– As were pizzas

– Most electronics come from China

– The television tube was invented by a Pole, Josef Horovitz, so without Polish people, we wouldn’t be able to watch our beloved tellys

– The time-honoured British tradition of drinking tea came from China, which was a medicinal drink there

– Coffee comes from Africa and Brazil, and was first roasted and brewed for drinking in Arabia

– Chocolate has been grown for at least 3000 years in Mexico and South America

– Potatoes come from South America too, pinched by Sir Francis Drake

– Beer comes from Mesopotamia (now known as Iraq)

– Firm teatime favourite curry comes from India

– Kebabs come from Turkey

– Fish and chips, one of our national dishes favoured by staunch patriots across the nation, were originally created by Italian Jewish immigrants, no less, who lived in Scotland and favoured the inexpensive ingredients that they fried into a tasty treat! Eat that, racists! (We hope that you choke on the bones.)

As one commentator clearly and succinctly states, “The historic sharing of cultural advances, until they became the common inheritance of the human race, implied much more than cultural diversity.  It implied that some cultural features were not only different from others but better than others.  The very fact that people- all people, whether Europeans, Africans, Asians, or others- have repeatedly chosen to abandon some feature of their own culture in order to replace it with something from another culture implies that the replacement served their purposes more effectively: Arabic numerals are not simply different from Roman numerals, they are better than Roman numerals. This is shown by their replacing Roman numerals in many countries whose own cultures derived from Rome, as well as in other countries whose respective numbering systems were likewise superseded by so-called Arabic numerals.”

There are some small points to watch out for in any debate about racism. If you spot them, jot them down, you could use them to play our points-based game – “Racist For The Prize” – the person with the highest score who spots the most stupid racist cliches from the following wins!:

– Badly Spelt Racist Graffiti (10 points) – We have seen one piece of graffiti that read, “Keep Britian White”. They love the culture they purport to represent so much that they can’t even spell the words correctly, or the name of the country. Unless we’re being grossly unfair, and there’s a guy named Brit Ian who keeps changing colour. We also saw a swastika that someone had started to spray, but halfway through it the lines went the wrong way, so it looked like some kind of a demented spider. Unless it was promoting the Demented Spider Party, who can say? “Eight legs good, two legs bad!”

– “I’m Not A Racist…”(15 points) – Beware of the classic cheap excuse to be racist: “I’m not racist, some of my best friends are black.” As if having some black friends immediately makes you invincible to being racist, even if you’re actually saying racist things. It also amuses us how people snort with derision and complain about the “PC Brigade”, and how you have to watch what you say, it’s just another way of saying, “I’m not allowed to be racist anymore! It’s not fair! Poor me! It’s almost as if using intimidating and unpleasant words against people from overseas who have enough to deal with already don’t like it when I use those racist, derogatory words! DON’T YOU AGREE?! Life’s so unfair! Why does nobody love me? Oh well, back on the beat.”

– Selective Racism (20 points) Some people (mainly idiot racists) seem concerned that Romanians are going to flock here. Um, they’re part of the European Union, people have freedom of travel and right to work wherever they like within the EU, that’s what being part of it entails. It isn’t a Pick ‘n’ Mix selection, “We’ll only take a handful of French, Italians and Portuguese, as we know about them, but Romania?! Isn’t that where Dracula comes from?! They’re all a bunch of bloodsuckers, after all. Not like the rich bankers, businesspeople and politicians who don’t pay their taxes, steal our money and leech us dry, they’re fine, upstanding members of society.”

– TYPING IN CAPITAL LETTERS ON INTERNET COMMENTS SECTIONS (2 points) – One of the most cringeworthy examples of stupid racists are those excruciating messages that you see on internet comments pages in their squealing droves, “I’M TYPING THIS IN CAPITAL LETTERS WITHOUT ANY PUNCTUATION BECAUSE I’M FURIOUS AND MAKING A REALLY IMPORTANT POINT THAT EVERYONE SHOULD LISTEN TO BASED ON SOMETHING A BLOKE SAID IN A PUB WITH NO FOUNDATION OR BACKING MATERIAL BASED IN REALITY OR ON REASON OR ANYTHING!!!” Arseholes. I saw one the other day, you’ve probably seen or heard something like it, where one informed citizen was moaning, “I went to Birmingham the other day, and you know what? I didn’t hear a single person speaking English!” That’s not because the city was overrun by feral foreigners… that’s because you were in BIRMINGHAM! Nobody speaks English in Birmingham, they speak Brummie, an entirely different language that nobody can understand anyway. “Alright bub? Gowin’ down the potteries?” Gobbledegook, at the best of times. We’re not being Brummist, by the way, some of our best friends are from Wolverhampton.

– Kneejerk Media Reactions (10 points) – There was that nonsense scare in the news recently where Roma families were accused of stealing children, only it turned out that they were the actual parents. “But their hair was a different colour! It’s almost as if DNA gets passed down indirectly or something!” Why exactly are people that bothered that Romanians are going to come to the wonderful, delightful cities that the UK has to offer, hey? Are there really masses of Romanians huddled there muttering to one another, “You know what, my Romanian family, I really want to start a new life somewhere, but forget Paris, Amsterdam, Brussels or New York. You know where I REALLY want to go? PETERBOROUGH! Yes indeed! The glamour, the charm, the romance and the high octane thrills that Peterborough has to offer, it really is THE place to be! Peterborough’s where it’s at. It’s got so much to offer.” Don’t flatter yourself too much, will you?

As usual, polticians and their lapdogs in the press, who do the dog tail wagging, are constantly repeating the mantra that they’ve learnt from Big Daddy Murdoch that immigration is bad, that after a while, they begin the act known as “chasing the woozle”, following their own misguided footprints, and utterly believing the thing that they said was true, because they said it was, and since they said it was, it must have historical precedence. This article admits that things may be otherwise: http://www.opendemocracy.net/transformation/chitra-nagarajan/how-politicians-and-media-made-us-hate-immigrants

Let’s not play the game that Murdoch wants us to.

Some handy links for racists and non-racists alike:

http://www.kickamigrant.com

http://www.economicshelp.org/blog/6399/economics/impact-of-immigration-on-uk-economy/

http://uk.news.yahoo.com/asylum-report-slams-border-official-decisions-001227211.html

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-south-scotland-19624507

http://kenanmalik.wordpress.com/2013/03/30/the-framing-of-immigration/

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/advisor-warns-david-cameron-immigration-3022952

http://www.statistics.gov.uk/hub/cross-cutting-topics/migration/index.html

http://migrationobservatory.ox.ac.uk/briefings/migrants-uk-overview

http://www.theguardian.com/news/datablog/2010/jun/26/non-eu-immigration-uk-statistics

http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2010/05/british_jobs_for_foreign_worke.html

http://greatbritishcommunity.org/mythbuster-immigration-rewriting-history/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foreign-born_population_of_the_United_Kingdom

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Immigration_to_the_United_Kingdom_since_1922

Stay racist free!

Boris Johnson’s Wet Dream – The Boris Johnson Water Cannon Campaign

It has been brought to our attention here at Action Pod HQ that Boris Johnson is in favour of bringing water cannons to the streets of the UK. While Vladimir Putin is showing that he’s a fan of winter sports, if not being a sport about human rights for gay people or political activists, it appears that Boris has come out as being a big fan of water sports.

Water cannons are wrong for a number of reasons. Here are some: http://youtu.be/ANXSBdKaoqI

(Warning: contains quite graphic gory images)

In a bid to show how wet behind the ears the Lord Mayor of London really is, the Action Pod team would like to encourage anyone in the London area in possession of a water pistol to give him a little squirt (appropriately) whenever they get the chance.

(Warning: be sure that the cops don’t Mark Duggan you!)

boris

It could very well add insult to injury if you were to perform a drive-by water-pistoling on a Boris Bike, but that’s your prerogative.

Also, for those inclined to sign things, there is a petition here: http://www.change.org/StopWaterCannons

Take action today and let us know how you get on!

Hazing Hague – The William Hague Campaign

This is your sparkling new action-packed Action Pod Post! Yes, it’s here. So what you going to do about it, huh? Well, there are lots of things that you can do!

william-hague-460_1633718c

One is to take action to make Home Secretary William Hague get up and do something about the illegally incarcerated people at Guantanamo Bay. Hague was made wimpish, weaselly attempts to placate the general public with claims that he is doing all that he possibly can to free Shaker Aamer, the last British national detained there, a man who has seen no evidence of why he’s been kept there for over 12 years, and never even had a trial. He should be called ‘Vague’ instead of ‘Hague’, eh?! (See what we did there?) It’s tricky to give someone a trial if there’s no evidence against you, unless you count that extracted under torture by prison guards from somebody else who may have just been pointing the finger to stop being tortured. Just a thought, but one that the US authorities don’t seem to want to consider. What good did innocence ever do anyone, anyway? If he wasn’t guilty, he wouldn’t be locked up, would he? Or would he?

Here is the latest message from Shaker in a piece by the Stop the War Campaign: http://stopwar.org.uk/news/dead-people-are-better-off-than-us-says-guantanamo-prisoner-shaker-aamer#.Uv4eLq36Rn

So, to make Hague sit up and listen, we at Action Pod HQ are calling on people to do what they can to leave little reminders of Shaker Aamer around anywhere that William Hague might be. We want you to place pictures and messages of support for Shaker Aamer everywhere that Hague goes, so that he can’t get away from his responsibility. Please post your results or ideas in the comments below, you could win a special Action Pod prize!

haguemekon

He also looks like The Mekon.

If you’d like to mail something, anything, even a wardrobe with the words “Free Shaker Aamer” on it, to Mr Hague, you can reach him at the following address:

House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA

or

Foreign and Commonwealth Office, King Charles Street, London, SW1A 2AH

Another way would be to post to him on Twitter: https://twitter.com/WilliamJHague

Do whatever you can to get the message to him, repeatedly, until he takes decisive rather than constantly dithering action to free Shaker Aamer. Go Action Pod Team! Go!

Slap The Slaphead – The Iain Duncan Smith Campaign

ids1

Everyone knows that Iain Duncan Smith is a massively repellent, odious, snivelling little gonad of a man. He’s sent thousands to their deaths with his insidious ATOS Back to Work schemes, which were deemed not fit for purpose years ago, yet still continue!

ids2

Although we don’t advocate violence, we would like to encourage readers if they get the opportunity to encounter Mr Duncan Smith to give him a light tap on the forehead, by way of reminding his that his policies have led to thousands of deaths. Who knows, it might even get his brain working and he could rethink his policies?!

ids4

If you can get a photo, please post it here, and we will arrange some kind of small reward. So there you go – get slapping the slaphead!

If you want to do more, there are various petitions against his heinous policies online, such as this one here: http://streetdemocracy.wordpress.com/iain-duncan-smith/iain-duncan-smith-a-petiton-against-atos-and-the-deaths-they-cause/

Give them a click and start taking action!

The Actionpod Team

It’s Alive! It’s Aliiiive!!!

What we’re saying is, it’s alive. The blog, that is. Hope you enjoy it, we think it’s going to be fun and full of political activities for YOU to get involved in. This isn’t just a place for keyboard warriors to rant and spew their bile, this is a springboard for action in the real world that will achieve positive aims. Let’s make it happen!