History has shown us on many occasions that people from one country have involved themselves with affairs of another country. This could be in the form of medical/financial aid, weapons, manpower and intelligence. Personally, I’ve always supported the ideology of man helping man for righteousness, regardless of colour, race, or religion. The reality is that if we were ever in a civil war or invaded by foreign powers and innocent people were being killed, we would like our voices to be heard and receive help. It’s the simple principle of, ‘Treat others the way you would love to be treated.’ Indeed, war and foreign affairs can be very complex and the vulnerable can be misguided. People may go out to assist and there could be a possibility of a hidden agenda. It could be to gain popularity amongst their peers, get crucial votes at elections, get a foothold in another country and ownership of foreign resources. However, many do it for a genuine humanitarian cause.
The problem and division occurs when an establishment allows one of its groups to freely do as they please and restrict the other when ‘socially’ both groups claim to be doing the same thing. Note the following:
Sam Childers – An American who dedicates his life to rescue children in the war zone of South Sudan. He founded Angels of East Africa, an orphanage in looking after more than 300 children. It is currently the largest in Southern Sudan and is unique in its approach of leading armed rescue missions directly into LRA territory. He himself has taken up arms. He is married with one daughter. He converted to Christianity in 1992 and through his church decided to help those in need. He has also exposed the atrocious acts of the Lord’s Resistance Army. He’s doing great work and helping the innocent by any means necessary. Even if it means he has to get rid of a few people, let’s face it, they won’t be missed. If only you knew what the LRA did to children. Now he’s an American helping and fighting in what are his own words ‘Another Man’s War.’ In 2011 his life and work was portrayed on the big screen in ‘Machine Gun Preacher.’ A must watch.
Now just because he’s American, does it mean that he has to join the army and serve wherever they are? He is free to involve himself in a just cause. He’s a humanitarian and doing what every human should do, he can help whoever he wants. Why must it be dictated to him who he must assist? However, when you get other people doing them same in countries such as Syria, then we all know what they get labelled as.
Israel – Every summer in the Negev desert, hundreds of Jewish teenagers from Britain, Europe, Mexico and America pay to spend nine weeks in a camp saluting, marching, firing guns and otherwise pretending to be soldiers. It is funded by the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) – allies of our countries and a military that we financially support. British Jews on their return are subjected to no questions or charges.
“Shooting an M16 gun… physically lying on the land of Israel, learning how to defend it, gave me an immense sense of pride.” Aimee Riese, a London schoolgirl
“There’s an implicit aim to associate a fun experience with the Israeli army” Micah Smith, a British student.
“We’re all fighting for the same thing. “We’re fighting for a Jewish homeland.” Private Allen is one of more than 100 British citizens currently serving in the IDF as lone soldiers.
So who is this ‘Fun’ and ‘Proud’ army? Views will differ, but mine is straight forward. It’s a shame to see the IDF treat the Palestinians the way their ancestors were treated by Adolf Hitler. The IDF have and continue to break UN and International laws. They have imposed an illegal siege on Gaza since 2007 (recognised by UN as illegal). In December 2008 they killed almost 1400 innocent Palestinians, including babies, children and women in air and land attacks. They also used white phosphorus which is forbidden by UN laws and the Geneva Convention, all of which was broadcast on BBC, FOX News and CNN and nobody did anything. It’s all about having the right friends I say. Israel has also implemented a racially segregated bus service, kindergartens, and mainstream media and political voices routinely refers to dark-skinned immigrants as ‘infiltrators’. This hostility has moved beyond legislative brutality, to physical brutality. They continue to demolish Palestinian homes in order to build Jewish settlements again recognised illegally by the UN. I recommend you watch Oscar Nominated ‘5 Broken Cameras,’ truly inspiring.
Western Invasion – Israel possesses nuclear weapons too, so it’s weird that Britain and America haven’t yet invaded it yet. After all, we were told the Iraq war was instigated due to Saddam Hussein possessing Weapons Mass Destruction (WMD) and was a threat to the West. After a decade, the search is still on. America has WMD and has used them. Nobody can forget Nagasaki, Hiroshima and currently Fallujah in Iraq, where thousands of babies are born with deformities. It may be America, but Britain morally and financially supports them. Good way of spending our tax money. So who’s going to put us on trial and hold us responsible for our actions? It seems like the West are exempt on certain issues.
The truth is that only America and its friends can have WMD, invade countries and bomb them into abyss and get away with it. What happened on 9/11 and 7/7 was wrong and I hope every perpetrator, regardless of who they are get the worst possible punishment. However, according to Wikipedia and Western statistics over 300,000 innocent civilians have been killed by British, American and NATO forces, and that’s just an estimate. How is that justified? When questioned, the answer more often than not is its ‘collateral damage.’ The United States is responsible for the greatest amount of bloodshed since World War II. They include Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Iraq, Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen and Afghanistan. For years, Washington meddled in Latin America’s internal affairs as though those affairs were its own, installing and overthrowing regimes willy-nilly.
Thanks to people like Edward Snowden, Julian Assange, Bradley Manning, Moazzam Begg and Wiki-Leaks, the world got to know some of the realities of our countries. These people are now seeking asylum, in prison or awaiting trial. The main charge is treason. Keep your mouth shut and play ball you’re a hero and citizen of the year, open your mouth and expose the truth you’re a terrorist and a traitor.
British born Moazzam Begg, arrested on false pretences, has already spent time in Bagram and Guantanamo. He was released in 2005 after being cleared. This man has spent his recent years in helping the helpless and giving a voice to the voiceless. He has also researched and exposed Britain’s involvement in Illegal imprisonment, torture and rendition of prisoners. This didn’t win him any friends, maybe if he exposed some other country. He is currently in prison again and in the middle of a trial. He is charged with terror related offences in Syria. Apparently providing a generator to Syrian refugees is a heinous crime. The work he does and has done in the past is not too different from Sam Childers, one’s a hero and the other a terrorist. I don’t see a movie based on Moazzam Begg ‘coming to a theatre near you’ anytime soon. Moazzam Begg is a well respected and loved individual, and he knows too much, much to the anger of Britain. If the courts sentence him, it will mean going against all the laws and principles the British justice legal system stands for.
Russia and Ukraine – I am not a fan of Vladimir Putin, neither do I agree with his recent actions. However, the reaction so far from the British and Americans is hypocrisy at its best. It is reasonable for them to occupy foreign lands but when Putin called for the annexation of Crimea to Russia the West is screaming bloody murder. At least Russia asked the inhabitants under which sovereign power they wished to live. They want to now impose sanctions on Russia, yet the Israeli occupation of the Palestinians does not cry out to the world — not for sanctions and certainly not for threats of war. Netanyahu is a friend to the West, Putin is a convenient enemy. Israel’s violations of international law are almost never mentioned. The Israeli occupation, more brutal than that of Crimea, is not recognized, and the West does not do a thing to truly bring it to a halt. The United States and Europe even provide it with funding and arms.
They criticised Putin on the whole issue of free expression and with the disgraceful Pussy Riot affair. Yet just a few weeks ago the police came to mosques in Birmingham, England to advise us not to attend a protest for those innocently detained by police. I thought it was our democratic right, the EDL sure make full use of it and have police security all the time. Remember too, Its America that runs Guantanamo, not Russia. It’s not to say Putin should be exempt, but if the West want to be the ‘World Police’, then don’t pick and choose your criminals. Besides, whoever gave them the god given right to police the world is a greater mystery than the Bermuda Triangle.
Spanish and Syrian Civil War – In the late 1930’s, thousands of British civilians went to Spain to fight against the fascist movement. The cause was very important to them as they witnessed many injustices happening and didn’t want to stay silent. The government at the time remained neutral in the matter so the volunteers decided to help their fellow humans. Those who volunteered to fight in the Spanish Civil War did so illegally, but according to them, the concern for humanity and those that were being oppressed was far greater than any legally binding law.
This summer, 26 Yorkshire volunteers will be honoured in a special 75 year anniversary memorial service, and so they should. They were freedom fighters who went to resist a democratically-elected government from being overthrown. Unlike today when the West supported the coup d’etat of the Democratic Egyptian government and ignore the legitimacy of the democratically-elected government in Gaza, Palestine. Some of the British fighters made it back home, some died in Spain. However, they will be remembered by many for their bravery and assistance to a country they were unknown to. Borders and nationality didn’t come in the way of them helping those in need.
Now in the same context, we have Muslims from the West, including Britain that are involved in the Syrian civil war. Nobody can deny that there is a humanitarian crisis. The Assad regime is breaking countless international and UN laws, in response people have gone to deliver medical aid. Britain has admitted to supplying non-lethal aid to rebel groups, finance and aid to refugees and even offered shelter. Countless Muslim charities are on the ground risking their lives and working tirelessly to help the victims of war. Just like the freedom fighters of the Spanish Civil War, Muslims have gone to fight against the oppressive regime. The brutality of Assad’s crimes are recognised and condemned by the international world. Just like Spain, it is illegal for Brits to go and fight, but just like the Yorkshire men, fighting against injustice is more important. Indeed, like in many cases around the world, people will get involved in wrong activities and get radicalised. However, you can’t judge all on actions of few.
There was a case recently when a British Muslim fighter drove a truck full of explosives into a prison in Aleppo, Syria. It was all over the news and it was being condemned by the West. What they didn’t tell you was in that prison were hundreds of civilians who were being tortured, raped and killed by the Syrian army. Now if an American or British soldier did the same in Afghanistan or Iraq, he would have been an instant hero.
Recently many Muslims on return from Syria, whether involved in aid work or training camps, have been detained and sentenced. I consider the IDF a terrorist organisation, the UN recognise that they practice illegal and inhumane activities, so why don’t the British Jews get the same treatment. Britain says Muslims join rebel groups that preach a radical ideology, yet Britain funds and aids them. All a bit confusing if you ask me. Muslim charities have been scrutinised, aid and assets frozen. Yet at the same time UNICEF this week has made an appeal for the children of Syria. This has been approved by the government, but yet Muslims have been told to take it easy on the funds. It’s almost as if to say, ‘Hey Muslims, don’t help the Syrians, we’ll do it, we can’t have the media portraying you as good people, the world would rather see you as radicals.” What kind of message does that send out? The Western media is a very powerful, brainwashing and deceptive outlet.
The case studies can go on for days, but I think we get the idea. I know I could have chosen many other examples, but I thought these were more relevant since we live in this part of the world and it affects many today. They may seem random but they have many things in common. The world is full of hypocrisy, lies, deception and wrongdoers. At the same time there are many great people out there who are willing to put everything on the line for a better world. We need to pick a side quickly before it’s too late.
This world can be a dark place, it’s our duty to shed some light on it. We need to free ourselves, break the shackles, stop believing in everything we hear or see without doing our own research. If you seek the truth, you will have obstacles in your way, but it’s better to stand alone for the truth than sit with the masses like a coward. We need to distinguish the good from the evil. If we judge a group of people by the actions of a few, then we would all be racists, terrorists, fascists, rapists and murderers. If a set of rules is acceptable for one, then it should be acceptable for all and vice versa. History has a tendency to repeat itself and we need to learn from our mistakes. There is enough space on this earth for all of us to live peacefully. We shouldn’t be too proud of our nations and governments that we are blinded to any atrocities they may commit. They will try their best to cover it up and focus our attention elsewhere. Nationality, borders and patriotism shouldn’t stop us from helping one another and fighting against injustice, even if it’s against your own country. We don’t bleed the colour of our flags, we won’t be wrapped in it when we die. Our allegiance is to the greater good.
Abdul Hamid Faruki
Carol Anne Grayson is an independent writer/researcher on global health/human rights and is Executive Producer of the Oscar nominated, Incident in New Baghdad. She is a Registered Mental Nurse with a Masters in Gender Culture and Development. Carol was awarded the ESRC, Michael Young Prize for Research 2009, and the COTT ‘Action = Life’ Human Rights Award’ for “upholding truth and justice”. She is also a survivor of US “collateral damage”.