Climate Change, the Protection of Life and the need for Decolonial, not neoliberal, intervention.

This week the Bolivian city of Tiquipaya hosted the World People's Conference on Climate Change and the Protection of Life.

A much needed counterpoint to the UN framework, this was the second meeting of its kind, five years after the first in 2010. If the attendance of UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon and a French Foreign Minister (Chair of the forthcoming Paris talks) is anything to go by, the global power establishment is making  greater efforts to ignore/coopt/defang it.

Here are a few videos about it, one from Telesur, a Pan Latin American news channel, and another by a pretty dismissive White American journalist.


An English translation of the declaration coming out of this gathering can be found here, and will act as an important reference point, just like The Universal Declaration of Rights of Mother Earth. It elaborates on issues that the previous Declaration mentioned and develops some new threads; from the social values (not) built into Climate Science, spirituality in Socio-Ecological relations, the commercialisation of nature and the formation of some kind of International Earth Rights Legislature.

Its a great read and learning resource, like the current Pope's Laudato Si. Critique is centred on capitalism, though colonialism does feature to some extent, racism gets a single passing reference but unfortunately white supremacy is unmentioned, yet without it is Climate Change even possible?


Back in London, OpenDemocracy, a political blog site, is beginning to host voices articulating the colonial continuities that express themselves through climate change, and a Climate Change-themed Friday prayer service(stunt) by Muslim NGOs in Parliament Square reassured some, and inflames neocon Islamophobia industry ( not going to link to that odious website).


Londoner Samiun Rahman: Trapped in the Bangladesh Injustice System

This is a resource page which will be updated as the situation develops

One minute you are trying to settle a family land dispute...then
25 year old London cab operator Samiun Rahman's ordeal began last year in late Septamber, when he was arrested in Bangladesh under dubious circumstances and accused of recruiting Bangladeshi fighters for Jabal al Nusrat and ISIS (who were at war with each other at the time). Samiun had been visiting Sylhet to address some kind of family land dispute. Roughly half the cases in the Bangladeshi courts concern land disputes, and its doubley tricky to get what you want done if you aren't there at the best of times.

"Let's Skin the Cat" says Hasina
The arrest was in time to accent the Prime Minister of Bangladesh's "Partners in the War on Terror" song at the 2014 United Nations General Assembly. Unfortunately, until we arrange otherwise, Hasina Wajed and her Awami League rule over Bangladeshis.  An excerpt of her speech to the UNGA on the 27th September 2014 are quoted below. For her, the global agenda against terrorism and extremism is a useful fig leaf to justify annihilating her political opposition.
"Terrorism and extremism remain major impediments to global peace and development. My Government maintains a 'zero-tolerance' policy to all forms of terrorism, violent extremism, radicalization and religion-based politics. We remain firm in our resolve not to allow any terrorist individual or entity to use our territory against any state. 
The anti-liberation forces continue to remain active in destroying the progressive and secular fabric of our nation. They resort to religious militancy and violent extremism in every opportunity. Under the direct patronage of the BNP-Jamaat Alliance Government from 2001 to 2006, they coalesced to form terrorist outfits, that perpetrated bomb and grenade attacks killing secular political leaders and activists."
"We've no idea what he's facing" says family
Samiun has been detained without trial in Bangladesh for a year now, his family forced to pay safety bribes, and prevented from seeing him. He is under mental distress as reported in a recent Observer article,
“We’ve no idea what he’s facing,” said Mrs Rahman, “which makes it doubly hard. Nobody has seen any evidence against him, even at his bail hearings, where bail has been refused.” She only hears news of him after consulate visits. “Physically he is fine, but mentally he is not doing so good. If someone is held like that in prison for over a year, of course it takes its toll on you; anxiety and depression creep in. He was such a laid-back, easygoing man before this. Fun to be around."
“I don’t believe for a minute he will get any kind of fair trial, and I don’t think it is working in his favour that he is a British citizen, as it suits the Bangladesh government to say that terror is coming in from overseas, that it’s foreigners coming in to commit crimes in the country. These people are simply politically motivated. Samiun doesn’t agree with violence or violent people and it’s very strange to hear his name used in connection with these terror groups.”
Analysing the press coverage

Incidentally the Guardian ( the Observer's anti-Corbyn sister paper) is one of the papers that helped to stitch him up and has institutionalised Islamophobia regarding all matters Bangladesh. Quite an accusation, but it is evidenced by the Guardian's cover-up of the 2013 Dhaka Massacre,and its reliance on likeminded misleading gatekeepers.

It was the motley crew of Shiv Malik, Saad Hammadi and company that wrote a stinker of a piece on Samiun last year, which took the official account at face value.  They did not even feel responsible enough to correct their churn when informed.

The Telegraph, whose Dhaka correspondent David Bergman happened to be in the Dhaka court when Samiun was there, was slightly better, reporting words of the accused and his family.

A BBC video report interviewed a member his family in Sylhet and reported there was a police raid on his home in Holborn on the 29th September. Yo its credit they included a contribution from a CAGE spokesman about taking regime pronouncements with a pinch of salt.

Bergman, blogged about Samiun twice in the following days, first with Samiun's full account to his question in court, and then a few days later focussing on the political benefit to the government of the detention and discrepancies between Samiun's and the official account. Samiun reports that the police detained him on the 24th September from his ancestral village home in Habiganj, while police say they arrested him coming off a train from Sylhet terminating in Dhaka late in the evening on the 28th.

News of how Samiun's jailer in Habiganj extorted money from his family, and the stage management of the arrest were reported by the Independent later in November. It seems that other than occasional visits to check he's not dead, that the UK government is doing sod all. I wonder how they would behave if the victim was white?

Forced disappearances, and (if you are very lucky) reappearances are very common in Bangladesh today, from opposition politicians like late Ilyas Ali, garments activists like late Aminul Islam,  and witnesses in the War Crimes Tribunals, to random Londonis, they tell us about the level impunity with which the state and its enforcers behave.

Samiun's case is not even the craziest involving a UK national. Over the summer following the high profile murder of a blogger, the police pinned it 58 year old Tawhidul Rahman from London who has bad mental health, and who they had detained kidnapped three months previously. His sister, Dr Nasera Begum filed the paperwork to prove it.

What is to be done?
Samiun is basically a young man who had straightened his life out, who has become a pawn in a cruel game between venal elites. He could be anybody. For what its worth, his case needs a strong, ever widening community campaign behind it. A few threads come to mind that might matter.

Ensure that people and networks are more widely informed about the case. Awareness remains low, both amongst relevant campaign communities and the wider Bangladeshi and Muslim communities. There is a kinda cute Justice for Samiun webpage, and the London-based campaign group CAGE pushed out a bilingual press release with good context in August but there is precious little else out there. I have hyperlinked to most of it in this post but do feel free to post more stuff in the comments.

Reach out to support the families affected by this. The mother of a friend affected by an unjust long and cruel detention and extradition told me with great sadness that 'Our friends are afraid to see even our shadows'.  Fear of institutional/social recrimination is a powerful barrier to dignity and mobilisation.

Enrol the concern and support of justice-orientated politicians. By politicians I don't just mean the elected parliamentary sort, but those people you expect leadership, courage and determination from. Does the Labour Party led by Jeremy Corbyn actually mean anything here, or is the party hobbled by the current autocrat's niece being one of his MPs? UKcentrism aside there are many able people who can eat in Bangladesh who chafe under its injustice system, and yearn for a transformation.

Stress the need for justice for all detainees in Bangladesh, especially those victimised by the Global War on Terror and the Awami League's battle to stay in power. The injustice system and political prisoner situation in Bangladesh cannot be ignored and shouldn't.