UK & US Governments assist war crimes

Today is the second anniversary of this blog, set-up to raise money for Unicef. The other reason for setting it up was to help raise awareness and boost the profile of national and international causes (as well as my rants about various elements of life). One of my earliest blogs was about the ongoing war between the Israelis and Palestinians and how the Israelis continue to persecute the Palestinians. I believe strongly that not enough is being done to stop the Israeli Government from killing innocent civilians, in fact the UK and US Governments are actually assisting their war crimes, by supplying arms to Israel.

Now the war has struck up again. I will hand over to Amnesty International on the campaign to put a stop to this illogical and immoral support of Israel: 

 Gaza: Stop the arms, stop the killing

It began just after four o’clock on a sunny Wednesday afternoon. Four young boys, all cousins from the same family, were playing football on a Gaza beach.

The Israeli shelling rained down – killing all four children. The mother of one of the boys was pictured crying out in despair outside the morgue in Gaza.

Since the Israeli military offensive ‘Operation Protective Edge’ launched on 8 July, scores of civilians have been killed and injured. This deadly battle has wreaked further havoc, punishment and devastation on Gaza’s blockaded population, with Gaza’s children caught in the crossfire.

Indiscriminate targeting of civilians is against international law. But countries, including the UK, continue to supply weapons to Israel and potentially facilitate these war crimes.

How many deaths will be enough?

The horrific human toll of the violence is mounting. The past eleven days of violence have seen at least 237 Palestinian deaths (52 of them children) and more than 1,700 injured.

Thousands have fled their homes, or what was left of them. Those that stayed are being denied basic services: over half of Gaza’s population is now without water.

And with the ground invasion now under way, we expect the numbers of civilian casualties and the destruction of Gaza’s crippled infrastructure to increase.

British Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg spoke out against Israel’s retaliatory shelling, dubbing it ‘deliberately disproportionate’ and amounting to ‘collective punishment’.

Palestinian armed groups have also launched dozens of indiscriminate rockets into Israel. Two Israelis have been killed.

We are not innocent bystanders

Last year the UK sold £6.3 million-worth of arms to Israel. We know that some arms sold by the UK government have been used to commit human rights violations in Gaza in the past.

And if the UK continues to supply arms – even indirectly – it is likely the UK will be helping to facilitate war crimes.

Stop all arms sales – don’t facilitate war crimes

We’re urging the UK government to suspend all arms transfers to Israel.

We also want to see:

  • the UK government to call on other states to stop their arms transfers to Israel, Hamas and any other armed group until there is no longer a substantial risk that such items will be used for serious violations of international humanitarian law or serious human rights abuses.
  • an end to indiscriminate attacks on civilians.

Our action to the UK Government is part of a campaign by Amnesty activists around the world to halt sales in their countries and call for a UN arms embargo.



Changing education (part four)

I wholeheartedly agree with the questions we pose. Pupils and students are the best judges of a good education, yet they are often the last to be consulted. They say education is like Piccadilly Circus – if you stand there for long enough it will come back round again – this is what is happening with the current Government’s approach and it is deeply concerning and thoroughly depressing.

This blog is for UNICEF – please support the campaign here.

Today a Sudanese woman who faced 100 lashes and execution for renouncing Islam and marrying a Christian was sentenced to death. She is also 8 months pregnant – angry? Then sign the petition by Amnesty for her immediate release – here.

Surviving with grace

4: It all adds up

So far I’ve looked at the systemic failure of our current system, explored some of the external and internal pressures demanding radical change, and suggested what that change might begin to look like. In this final part I’ll consider the influence of formal exams and the need for a different approach.

What you measure is what you get

There’s an old truth that what you measure is what you get, which is to say that examination systems can themselves introduce counter-productive bias. If you put a premium on narrow academic performance then you will skew the rest of the system around it.

This is not about dumbing down; quite the reverse. It’s about asking much more rigorously whether how we test is fit for purpose, which in turn means asking more seriously what the purpose is.

Consider this: if I was managing a call centre…

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The Lawrence Legacy

I remember as a teenager shouting at the TV as politicians and police representatives discussed the Stephen Lawrence murder case during a programme of BBC’s question-time with Dimpleby, four years after Stephen was murdered. I was so angry at the complacency of the Police that I emailed the programme to ask for answers on what steps were being taken to re open a case because of fundamental errors in the original investigation, errors caused by outright racism. I remember thinking what an amazing woman she was to have coped with the loss of her son and find strength to follow her conviction that the police did not do all that they could to bring her son’s killers to justice.

Now 21 years later an enquiry has finally confirmed Mrs Lawrence’s  (now Baroness) suspicions. One of the DS’s working on the case admitted to having corrupt connections with the father of one of the killers (who was finally convicted 19 years after Stephen’s death). We still have a problem with racism today and the only way that issue can be tackled is through education, so if a child has racist parents, these views are at least counter-acted at school.

My parents are racist and so are my in-laws, sadly they are of the generation that caused them to be ignorant of other cultures, mainly due to poor education (regardless of state or private education). It can not just be put down to age, the lady across the road from me was born in the same year as me but her views date back to the 1800s. She says that she would hate to have a ‘half caste baby’. I try to limit my interaction with her to zero for obvious reasons.

At work ( which is a business in the luxury sector), I could count the number of black people on one hand. They are currently seeking a deputy CEO and I am hoping the person they select is a) a woman and b) black, just to make-up for the fact that the rest of the business is a weak representation of modern UK society.

Stephen Lawrence did not die in vain. It is a sad fact in the way us humans operate that action is very often preceded by tragedy. In this case there were multiple tragedies, beginning with Stephen’s death and ending with the number of years it took for his family to find justice. But if Doreen had been a weaker mother and wilted under the pressure, Stephen’s killers would still be free, racism would me more entrenched and more murders would have been committed. Stephen, Doreen and their family have made a lasting impact on society and empowered others who feel wronged to stand-up for their rights, no matter how long they have to wait for justice.

I am blogging every day to raise money for Unicef. If you can help too please visit my page.

Thanks for reading.