OPERATION DESERT RAT

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Just Published and Now Available from Amazon!

This witty docu-drama operates at several levels. There are the large, highly resourceful rats which inhabit Richmond Hill Prison in Grenada, West Indies. They engage in fierce, nightly battles for the food of the 17 surviving leaders of the Grenada Revolution, now badly treated and semi-starved prisoners of the United States’ military forces in occupation of Grenada following President Reagan’s invasion of the country in October, 1983.
The leader of each of the “squads” of rats, rats who luxuriate in humouring others, adopts the name of one of the Caribbean Prime Ministers who collaborated with Reagan in the invasion. Vivid descriptions of the rats’ personalities, and biographies of these Caribbean leaders are cleverly woven into the story throughout, as are the suspense-filled plans and detailed preparations of both the rats and the Grenadian political prisoners for each night’s battle for the latter’s dwindling food supply.
OPERATION DESERT RAT is the ultimate battle that pitted the cunning and determination of rats against the survivability of prisoners. Find out then, what a well-trained and determined army of rats, like any modern day army, can do to a group of beleaguered prisoners.
OPERATION DESERT RAT, capturing a slice of the life of the author and his colleagues during 26 years of incarceration, is a memorable and highly entertaining follow-up to the best-selling MY MOTHER AND I–THE EPIC STORY OF GRENADA, also written by Kamau McBarnette and based on Grenada ’s Post-Columbian history, from the Caribs to the American Invasion. An informative, riveting, entertaining and sensational read. Guaranteed to grab your attention from its opening chapters!.

Richard Hart Memorial Lecture

richard-hart-2November 5th – 12:30 – 3:30pm
Bolivar Hall – 54-56 Grafton Way, London W1T 5DL

Free admission, but registration is essential:
Register here…

Programme

  • Arrive 12:30 for refreshments [£5 for curry and roti]
  • Intro by drummer Brother Niyi
  • Poem read by Linton Kwesi Johnson
  • Welcome and update on Tivoli Gardens massacre by CLS President Luke Daniels
  • Professor Richard Drayton will deliver the Richard Hart Memorial Lecture
  • Kaiso by Tobago Crusoe
  • Closing by Singer Kianja

Bookstalls food and artists

50 people deported to Jamaica

10285144161The UK government’s decision to forcibly remove 50 people to Jamaica on a private charter plane was a clear case of the increased racism following the EU referendum.

Among those targeted were parents, grandparents and partners of people still resident in the UK, some who are primary carers and one with a mental health condition. All but one had children. Many had been living in the UK for over 10 years, with some arriving in the country as small children, even babies. One person was completing the process of naturalisation before their British-born partner died; they were then told that, as a result of their partner’s death, it could no longer be concluded. The Home Office suggests that people who have been deported can remain in touch with family and keep up their parenting responsibilities via Skype and email.

Despite assurances during the EU referendum campaign that there would be a fairer response towards Commonwealth citizens if the country voted in favour of Brexit, this is clearly not the case.

In the last few weeks, hundreds of individuals previously released on bail and temporary admission have been detained, in a deliberate act to prepare for this charter flight to Jamaica. Many individuals have ongoing immigration cases and most cannot afford to pay the huge legal fees to regularise their stay. Everyone we have spoken to has been here since they were children and have no family or friends in Jamaica. Their lives are here in the UK. Everyone we have spoken to has British family, children and partners, even grandchildren and extended family.

People in immigration detention are asking that their voices are heard. They want the public to know that they were racially profiled and strategically detained in order to fill this charter flight, without consideration of their individual circumstances .  They want people to understand that this charter flight will be tearing families apart.

People issued tickets for the charter flight on Wednesday have complied with the conditions imposed on them by the Home Office. They have succumbed to the Home Office’s every demand and now feel like they have been tricked and kidnapped. Each person told the same story – they went to sign at the Home Office reporting centre as required and were tricked. They were told that they must have a quick interview and taken into a room, 3 hours later they were detained. One man even told of his friend who had attended the reporting centre with his baby in a pushchair. The Home Office called social services to pick up the baby and detained the father.

Let us be clear, this is collective expulsion. The people set to fly on Wednesday are not those with particularly weak cases, they’ve been rounded up because they’re Jamaican. These people have nobody in Jamaica and nowhere to go when they touch down in Kingston. They will be torn from families leaving wives and children behind.

These people are carers to partners, fathers to children, members of communities. The UK is their home. Black lives don’t matter to this government.

Belize economy in crisis

An international tribunal at the end of June ruled that the government of Belize has to pay Lord Ashcroft more than 12% of the country’s GDP as compensation for nationalising his telecommunications company. What’s more, His Lordship is still in dispute over more details, to squeeze the last drop of blood out of the Belizean economy, which already has a 40% poverty rate and which he risks pushing over the edge into recession.

In August of 2009, the government of Belize nationalized the Belize Telemedia Limited (BTL) from a group of companies controlled by British billionaire and former Chairman of the Tory Party Michael Ashcroft. Immediately, a foreign arbitration claim was filed against Belize claiming US$200 million. This led to seven years of litigation and court battles that for the most part favoured Lord Ashcroft. As a result the economy of the country is now being threatened, as Ashcroft has demanded that Belize must pay $35 million in US currency towards settlement of the BTL acquisition. However, the Central Bank of Belize has warned that if such request is approved, the country faces devaluation of the Belize dollar.

The International Monetary Fund report for this year on Belize came with a warning. It indicated that international reserves could decline to uncomfortable levels, especially if compensation for the nationalized utilities is paid and repatriated.

Belize’s economy grew by only 1% last year and shrank by 2% during the first quarter of this year. These recent figures in the Belizean economy are a clear indication that meeting the demands of the Ashcroft group would put Belize’s economy at great risks

The first payment, as part of the arbitration award towards the nationalization of BTL, was made on 13 July. The payment consisted of US$29.5 million and BZD$134.9 million for compensation, plus £827,000 in legal fees, and 33,000 Euros in arbitration costs. However, the Ashcroft group has now indicated that the payment made in Belize dollars, must now be in US currency instead. According to the Central bank, this is a demand that the government cannot afford.

“The Central Bank would not be able to provide the additional US$70 million and to do so would mean that Belize’s US dollar position would shrink from US$422 million to US$159 million. That is the same as 1.5 months of imports, which is half the international benchmark of three months and this will be catastrophic to our economy,” said the governor of the Belize Central Bank.

This is an unacceptable state of affairs in a country which has 40% poverty rate. “In the absence of foreign exchange, our economy suffocates, resulting in increased poverty, and risk that we won’t be able to meet obligations to other creditors and trading partners,” he said.

Meanwhile the value of deposits in Ashcroft’s Belize Bank International fell by 75% in six months as it got caught in a US tax-evasion crackdown. Ashcroft’s political links in Belize are with the People’s United Party (PUP), which lost control in 2008 to the United Democratic Party (UDP). He has a fortune estimated at £1.34bn after decades as an investor and deal-maker in businesses ranging from car auctions to cleaning services and offshore banking. He is best known in the UK as the former Conservative Party deputy chairman who fell out with David Cameron last year, when he co-wrote a biography of the former prime minister notable for its allegations of debauched student years, in particular an incident involving a pig’s head.

Marikana miners’ massacre and the development of an independent inquiry in South Africa

marikanaPublic meeting at the London Regional Headquarters of Unite at 33-37 Moreland Street, London, EC1V 8BB on Thursday 15 September from 6.30-8.30pm.

The NGO War on Want has organised a speaking tour on the fourth anniversary of the Marikana Miners’ massacre – with the aim of gathering wider international support for an independent South African civil society inquiry into the massacre.
This inquiry is getting off the ground in South Africa, with input from the trade unions, other civil society bodies, and the families of the victims.

As you will know, no-one has been brought to justice for the police killing of 34 miners on strike for a living wage, that took place in August 2012 at Marikana. The mining company involved in the massacre is the UK-owned Lonmin, so we have a special responsibility in the UK workers’ movement to support the fight for justice over Marikana.

War on Want has invited Trevor Ngwane, a leading member of the Marikana Support Campaign to come over for the tour.  He has been central to getting the independent inquiry into Marikana off the ground.

A public meeting at the London Regional Headquarters of Unite at 33-37 Moreland Street, London, EC1V 8BB on Thursday 15 September from 6.30-8.30pm.

 

JUSTICE FOR TIVOLI GARDENS

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Police in West Kingston

It is now five years since the so-called security forces in Jamaica inflicted mayhem on the down-town Kingston community of Tivoli Gardens in late May 2010. Supposedly in search of Christopher (Dudus) Coke for whom an extradition warrant had been served in August 2009, the onslaught resulted in at least 76 deaths (over 200 unofficially), most of which the Public Defender’s report considered to be extrajudicial. It was by far the most serious incident of its kind since the Morant Bay uprising in 1865.

Although it was clear that Coke had fled by the Monday afternoon (24 May), the operation continued for two more days, searching every dwelling, causing enormous material and emotional damage, personal injury and the detention of several thousand young men, very few of whom were eventually charged, and only a handful of guns discovered. Since that time no responsibility for the massacre has been accepted by those in ultimate command which includes the Prime Minister Bruce Golding, Minister of National Security Dwight Nelson, Chief of Defence Staff Major General Stuart Saunders and Police Commissioner Owen Ellington.

After years of delay, the Public Defender published his report in April 2013 based on a wide range of evidence. A Commission of Enquiry was recommended which finally began in late November 2014, guided by a Terms of Reference of which only six out of sixteen directly address the brutality unleashed on the citizens.

The independence of the three-person Commission panel is doubted by many, partly because they and their three- person support team are being paid over J$250 million, including over J$50 million for the chairman. This compares to the compassionate grants (not compensation) paid to the Tivoli residents of just J$92 million which includes just J$250,000 for each of the 94 houses ‘completely destroyed’ (a small house cannot be built for less than about J$4 million). With another 200 houses ‘severely’ damaged and many hundreds injured, the scale of the operation becomes apparent.

Residents from Tivoli gave harrowing evidence to the enquiry in November/December 2104. A sample of the abuse can be seen on one of many videos posted on YouTube by Tivoli Committee convenor Lloyd D’Aguilar. This was followed by the appearance of Bruce Golding, Dwight Nelson, Dorothy Lightbourne (Attorney General), Stuart Saunders and Owen Ellington amongst others. All denied any wrong-doing with the notion of ‘command responsibility’ (ie not passing the buck) seemingly having no relevance whatsoever.

In recent weeks the enquiry has been hearing from some of the ground commanders. They have been painting a picture of organised resistance to Coke’s arrest on such a scale that they had no alternative but to effectively declare war including the use of inaccurate mortar-bombs. Problem is, war on some gunmen, or indiscriminate war on a whole community, with only ineffective measures to avoid ‘collateral damage’? Not only deaths, serious injuries, property damage and unwarranted detention but the abuse of just about every resident – akin to what happens all too often in Jamaica (see ‘Death Squads‘)

Unless the Commission re-acquaints itself with, and properly factors in the evidence given by the Tivoli residents in November/December, their report will be worthless, a white-wash similar to the recent Marikana report on the deaths of 39 miners just published in South Africa. The struggle for justice for the people of Tivoli, and West Kingston, will clearly be a long one, extending well beyond the present enquiry and no doubt requiring the involvement of international human rights organisations such as the International Criminal Court.

It is not only the May 2010 atrocity which must be addressed. The stark class divide in Jamaica, which has left Tivoli and similar communities in comparative and even absolute poverty, which portrays every inner-city young man as a threat, must also be addressed. Resources must be pumped in regardless of any nay-saying from the IMF and those it represents – and even more, so political commitment. Otherwise the slaughter will re-occur when the privileged, and the state which protects them, feel just a little too vulnerable.

The Tivoli Committee, which is participating in the enquiry alongside the Office of the Public Defender and INDECOM, has recently engaged a new attorney. Funds are needed to cover this and other costs especially publicity and public events aimed at sustaining support for the victims of the 2010 Tivoli massacre. Please give what you can through CLS
c/o 29 Myddelton Street, London EC1R 1UA
cheques made payable to Caribbean Labour Solidarity and marked Tivoli Support Committee on the reverse