Archive for September, 2013

The crop is reaped and mice are coming in from the fields
to the farmhouse, and the owls follow them in.
Sometimes in the evening they call one another
from one corner of the garden to another. I found
a butterfly with worn-out wings in the grass – it could not
fly any more. One night while I went out to pee,
I saw the Milky way for the first time. A nutcracker
shrieked in the hazel hedge – the nuts are ripe.
The wasps abandoned their nests. They are flying
and feasting, slipping into beehives,
into jam cans and overripe apples;
and grasshoppers are sawing in the grass and on the trees
more and more loudly, and dolorous
as the summer’s last string knowing it will break.

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This is the last poem of Víctor Lidio Jara Martínez, born on 28 September 1932 and murdered on 16 September 1973. Jara, a teacher, theatre director, poet, singer, songwriter and political activist was arrested after Pinochet’s US-Backed coup, in Chile. He was tortured, both his hands and ribs were broken and he was shot 44 times. His body was dumped in the streets of Santiago. This is Jara’s last poem, written in a concentration camp, memorized, and smuggled out by other political prisoners:

There are five thousand of us here
in this small part of the city.
We are five thousand.
I wonder how many we are in all
in the cities and in the whole country?
Here alone
are ten thousand hands which plant seeds
and make the factories run.
How much humanity
exposed to hunger, cold, panic, pain,
moral pressure, terror and insanity?
Six of us were lost
as if into starry space.
One dead, another beaten as I could never have believed
a human being could be beaten.
The other four wanted to end their terror
one jumping into nothingness,
another beating his head against a wall,
but all with the fixed stare of death.
What horror the face of fascism creates!
They carry out their plans with knife-like precision.
Nothing matters to them.
To them, blood equals medals,
slaughter is an act of heroism.
Oh God, is this the world that you created,
for this your seven days of wonder and work?
Within these four walls only a number exists
which does not progress,
which slowly will wish more and more for death.
But suddenly my conscience awakes
and I see that this tide has no heartbeat,
only the pulse of machines
and the military showing their midwives’ faces
full of sweetness.
Let Mexico, Cuba and the world
cry out against this atrocity!
We are ten thousand hands
which can produce nothing.
How many of us in the whole country?
The blood of our President, our compañero,
will strike with more strength than bombs and machine guns!
So will our fist strike again!

How hard it is to sing
when I must sing of horror.
Horror which I am living,
horror which I am dying.
To see myself among so much
and so many moments of infinity
in which silence and screams
are the end of my song.
What I see, I have never seen
What I have felt and what I feel
Will give birth to the moment …


September 1973

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Syrian Politicians’ Letter To UK MPs

Damascus, 29 August 2013
Rt Hon John Bercow MP
Speaker’s Office
House of Commons
London SW1

An Open Letter To Our Fellow Parliamentarians Of The British House Of

Dear Sirs and Madams

We write to you urgently as you debate launching an attack on Syria. We
write to you as fellow parliamentarians and representatives of our
respective peoples.

More important still, we write to you as fathers and mothers, as members
of families and communities really not so different to yours. We write to you
as fellow human beings for, if you bomb us, shall we not bleed?

Despite our common humanity, we are divided by mutual suspicion. Such
divisions have throughout history been the starting points for terrible
conflicts – as we are reminded as time ticks away to the centenary of
August 1914.

Local tragedies become regional wars that explode into global conflict
because of breakdowns in communication. So we implore you to
communicate through civilised dialogue, rather than a monologue of blood
and fire.

It was such a propaganda monologue that led to so many British MPs
being taken in by the dodgy dossier on chemical WMDs in Iraq. There are,
some who, despite the misery caused by that illegal meddling, now want yet
another war. A war that could plunge secular Syria, and indeed the whole
region, into a cataclysm of sectarian mass murder that will dwarf the
terrible human suffering we have already seen.

Those who want to send others to fight will talk in the Commons of the
casualties in the Syrian conflict. But before you run over the cliffs of war,
would it not be wise to pause. Remember the thousands of British soldiers
killed and maimed in Afghanistan and Iraq, not to mention the hundreds of
thousands of Iraqi dead, both in the war and in the continuing chaos.

That said, yours is a very old and well-established democracy that is a
model for us. So, we ask you not to bomb us but work with us. We need
your help as parliamentarians to build a stable, just and fair secular
democracy in Syria.

That is why we urge you to come to Syria and find more about what is
going on here for yourselves. You need to come to Syria to measure the
situation before you cut – especially when the scissors will cost your
constituents £1 Million each, and the cloth they cut is human flesh.

Despite our current differences, we Syrians have great respect for your
British institutions, especially your Mother of Parliaments and your legal
system. That is why we hereby:

1) Invite you, as fellow Parliamentarians, to come to our country, either en
masse or by sending a delegation, at the ealiest time convenient to you;

2) Suggest that it might be particularly appropriate for such a visit to
coincide with the conclusion of the current United Nations’ investigation
into the chemical attack – which we condemnn without reservation;

3) Invite you to bring your own experts with you to check for yourselves
the UN’s conclusions;

As for our admiration for the English legal system, it is such that we are in
the process of obtaining senior Counsel’s opinion as to the grounds for our
bringing action through your courts against those responsible should
the UK governemet launch an attack on Syria.

We believe that such an aggressive and unprovoked act of war would be
illegal because:

a) Syria is a sovereign state and does not pose any threat to the United Kingdom;

b) The United Nations Security council has not sanctioned such an attack;

c) The UN Report into the terrible incident in the Suburb of Damascus has not
yet even been published. No-one can yet know whether it will conclude that
there is enough evidence for any kind of prosecution, let alone acts of mass
execution with your own weapons of mass destruction;

d) The UN has, by contrast, already concluded that there is very strong evidence
that Islamic terrorists from the al-Nusrah Front have used poison
gas against Syrian soldiers and innocent civilians. To act against people who
you regard, without legitimate evidence, as chemical weapons criminals,
while aiding and abetting Wahhabi rebels who stand accused precisely
of that crime by the United Nations, is surely in breach of your basic principle
of Natural Justice.

Those, al least, will be arguments laid before your courts, the European
Court and in The Hague by injured and bereaved Syrians in the event of
an attack by the UK government. Each and every British MP who encourages
or orders such an attack will be held personally legally liable for all the
losses and damages so suffered by Syrian individuals, families and society
as a whole. We will be writing separately to your Attorney-General as soon
as we have the formal opinion of Queen’s Counsel.

Overall, however, we urge you to consider not so much the legal risk to
yourselves but the potential human cost of firing cruise missiles into the
Middle East powder keg. Western meddling has already created one totally
failed state in Iraq and Mr. Hague’s adventurism has put Libya on the same
downward spiral. If you do the same in Syria, then you will in due course
also have on your hands the blood of untold thousands in Syria.

We appreciate you sharing our revulsion at the images of the chemical
attack. We are not only co-operating with the UN Investigation Team,
but are also putting together our own formal inquiry into what happened.
You may not be aware that Syrian experts are also investigating the
question of who carried out this atrocity against our people, but we
parliamentarians are determined to get to the truth and to bring those
responsible to justice, whoever they are.

In the meantime we ask you to stop the rush to reckless action. It is in
your power today to turn Great Britain back from the war path and back to the
diplomatic road. We hope to meet you upon that road, and to talk, as
civilised peoples should.

This is all the more important since, in reality, we face the same terrorist
threat. By attacking and weakening Syrian targets and institutions you
would automatically strengthen our common enemy, Al Qaida and its affiliates.
Instead of fighting each other, we should be working together to
implement full UN Security Council Resolutions 1373 and 1624 against
terror. Instead of being enemies, we should be allies, and walk the road to
peace, truth, and reconciliation together.

With Best Regards

Speaker of People’s Assembly

MHD. Jihad Allaham

via http://news.sky.com/story/1134712/syrian-politicians-letter-to-uk-mps

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W. H. Auden – Musee des Beaux Arts

About suffering they were never wrong,
The Old Masters: how well they understood
Its human position; how it takes place
While someone else is eating or opening a window or just walking dully along;
How, when the aged are reverently, passionately waiting
For the miraculous birth, there always must be
Children who did not specially want it to happen, skating
On a pond at the edge of the wood:
They never forgot
That even the dreadful martyrdom must run its course
Anyhow in a corner, some untidy spot
Where the dogs go on with their doggy life and the torturer’s horse
Scratches its innocent behind on a tree.

In Breughel’s Icarus, for instance: how everything turns away
Quite leisurely from the disaster; the ploughman may
Have heard the splash, the forsaken cry,
But for him it was not an important failure; the sun shone
As it had to on the white legs disappearing into the green
Water, and the expensive delicate ship that must have seen
Something amazing, a boy falling out of the sky,
Had somewhere to get to and sailed calmly on.
Breughel’s Icarus

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