Friday! Soft Cell- Say Hello, Wave Goodbye

My favourite Soft Cell song (although a close run thing, a tie really with ‘Where The Heart Is’) and a shout out to Otto, keepin’ it real for the Soft Cell Massive (Attack) in Peru. Where will these dedications go next…?

Stop Deportation To DRC, Where Rape Is Endemic

Personally I would consider anyone involved in trying to deport Mireille Mbimbo to the DRC as conspiring to commit rape.

Sanctuary for Mireille Mbimbo (Very urgent support needed)

Mireille Mbimbo a national of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and a resident of Bradford, is currently being held at Penine House Manchester STHC and due to be forcibly removed from the UK on Monday 15th February @ 19.00 on Kenya Airways flight KQ101, from Manchester to Nairobi for onward transit on flight KQ550 to Kinshasa.

Mireille  first sought asylum in the UK on 31st July 2008. She is a member of the political opposition group Mouvement de Libération du Congo (MLC) and fears for her life and her liberty if she is returned to DRC. Outstanding arrest warrants exist for both Mireille and her brother, as a result of their participation in demonstrations against the government.

World Report 2010 – Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)

Human Rights Watch, Events of 2009

Violence and brutal human rights abuses increased in the Democratic Republic of Congo throughout 2009. Two military campaigns by the Congolese army, in the east and north, resulted in a dramatic increase in violence against civilians by both rebel and government forces. At least 2,500 civilians were slaughtered, over 7,000 women and girls were raped, and more than 1 million people were forced to flee their homes.

Impunity, already endemic, was further entrenched with the promotion of Bosco Ntaganda to the rank of general, despite a warrant for his arrest from the International Criminal Court. In July the government announced a policy of “zero tolerance” for human rights abuses committed by its soldiers, but only made a handful of arrests. Violent attacks against human rights defenders continued throughout the country.

“Violence against women and girls”

High levels of rape and other forms of sexual violence continued throughout the country, with a concentration in eastern DRC, where armed group fighters and government soldiers were the principal perpetrators. Many women and girls suffered gang rape, were raped more than once or were held in sexual slavery. Most victims did not receive medical or psycho-social care. The majority of rapists went unpunished and women and girls lived in fear of reprisals if they reported the rape or even sought medical treatment.” (Amnesty International Report 2009 – DR Congo)

It is almost certain that Mireille will face immediate arrest and ill-treatment if she is returned to DRC.

Whilst living in Bradford, Mireille has been a member of the BIASAN women’s group and the African Women’s Circle at Great Horton Methodist Church. She had just re-started English lessons and was keen to improve her language skills sufficient to be able to use the Business Diploma, which she had gained in the DRC, to ultimately gain employment and contribute to the country that has become her home.

What you can do to help / Please take urgent action now

1) Email/Fax/phone, Sam Okwulehie, Group Area Manager Kenya Airways and urge him not to carry out the forced removal of  Mireille Mbimbo – you can use the model fax ‘ Mireille MbimboKA.doc’ attached. You can copy, amend or write your own version – please quote,  Mireille Mbimbo to be forcibly removed from the UK on Monday 15th February @ 19.00 on Kenya Airways flight KQ101, from Manchester to Nairobi for onward transit on flight KQ550 to Kinshasa.

Email: contact@kenya-airways.com

Fax: 020 8745 5027 – from outside the UK + 44 20 8745 5027

Phone: 020 8759 7366 – from outside the UK + 44 20 8759 7366

2) Email/Fax, Rt. Hon. Alan Johnson MP Secretary of State for the Home Office asking that  Mireille Mbimbo, be granted protection in the UK. Attached “model letter” MireilleMbimboAJ.doc which you can copy/amend/write your own version (if you do so, please remember to include her HO ref M1375563 )

Fax: 020 8760 3132(00 44 20 8760 3132 if you are faxing from outside UK)

Emails: Privateoffice.external@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk

UKBApublicenquiries@UKBA.gsi.gov.uk

“CIT – Treat Official” <CITTO@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk>

Also see Democracy Now with Eve Ensler and Congolese Gynecologist Dr. Denis Mukwege.

Update: texts for model letters below-

Read the rest of this entry »

T. Blair- PeaceMonger!

WASHINGTON — Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Thursday that former British Prime Minister Tony Blair is going to play a bigger role in efforts to get Israel and the Palestinians back to peace talks by intensifying his partnership with special U.S. Mideast envoy George Mitchell.

In a written statement, Clinton said she had spoken to Blair on Thursday about developments in the region. As a result of that call, she said Blair would broaden his current role as representative of the so-called Quartet of Mideast peacemakers to “intensify his partnership” with Mitchell in support of the attempt to revive political negotiations.

Mooching around I found this old report at the Guardian which tells a strangely symbolic story –

Memories of Cherie Blair’s outspoken position on Palestine clearly still haunt. In 2002 she was forced to apologise for telling a charity event in London that young Palestinians had “no hope” but to blow themselves up.

Fast forward seven years, to a similar event in the House of Commons next Tuesday: the official launch of the newly created Labour Friends of Palestine (LFP). Their main speaker was due to be Blair … until yesterday, when she pulled out, around two hours after LFP’s inaugural line-up had been publicised.

So far there has been a difference between the government’s line on Gaza 2009 and Lebanon 2006. Back then, Tony Blair attracted criticism (from, among others, the current foreign secretary, David Miliband, who was then the minister at Defra) for not calling for an immediate end to firing and saying Israel must be allowed to defend itself. This month, no such line, and instead the call for an immediate ceasefire.

LFP are broadly pleased with government movement so far, but clearly things are too brittle for candour from Cherie. LFP will, however, do fine without her: speaking will be Jocelyn Hurndall, the mother of activist Tom Hurndall, who was shot dead in Gaza in 2003.

6pm update: We take it back: A friend of Cherie Blair’s has just called to say the reason she won’t be attending the launch is because she’s going to be in America with her husband when he collects the congressional gold medal from George Bush. Apparently, Cherie knew a while back but couldn’t tell LFP that she wouldn’t be around until now.

So she missed the launch of a group that while an attempt at a balancing corrective is tiny compared to Labour Friends of Israel (one T. Blair a member when PM) because Tony was getting his medal for conspiring with Bush, the Neocons and Israel to invade Iraq. Yeah this peace process is fine, no problems at all, what could possibly go wrong…

Spoilt Cowardly Bigots

Professional footballers have refused to appear in a campaign video against homophobia because they fear being ridiculed for taking a stand against one of the sport’s most stubborn taboos,The Independent has learnt. Both players and agents declined a request by the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) to take part in a video which was to use high- profile players as figureheads in the association’s drive against anti-gay prejudice.