The Blanket

The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent

Holocaust Revisited

Through all the rallies that we (Stop The War Coalition) have had, I tried to point out that awful as what is happening in Iraq, it is not the only conflict in the world. More people have died in Colombia than in Iraq. More people have died in the Congo than Colombia and Iraq put together. And yet Congo gets very little coverage whatsoever - Jeremy Corbyn MP, May 2004

Anthony McIntyre • Other View, Winter 2004

Iraq dominates the news. Those tasked with keeping the public informed somehow manage to structure news reporting so that what we receive comes in serious tones but may not in fact constitute what is the most serious problems besetting the world at any given point. True, the situation in Iraq is dreadful and perhaps our ethnocentricity leads us to focus in on, to the exclusion of much else, hostages taken by the various militias that infest the land once oppressed by Saddam Hussein and now under the heel of somebody different. The estimated 100,000 Iraqis killed since the US-led invasion seem to register as a footnote. More instances of American Marine dead litter the memory than do the circumstances in which Iraqis met their end. The latter seem to assume the character of an amorphous mass, one blurred collective face which discloses nothing about the detailed personal narrative of each individual.

But even with that there is at least something tangible - a car bomb here, a self-destruct bomber somewhere else. The Congo, by contrast, where four million have died since 1998 and the particular circumstances of those deaths elude many of us. That is only two million less than is said to have taken place during the 1940s Holocaust. Of our time yet we know not of it. Nor do the atrocities being carried out by the Janjaweed in Dafur loom any larger in our minds. The official attitude - it is Africa and has its own unique and impenetrable Heart of Darkness.

In a recent newsletter from Tools of Solidarity it was reported that:

African wars receive less than 5% coverage of global conflicts in UK TV news programmes. Of this limited coverage only 4.4% is about the worst conflict in the Congo because British TV focuses on bombs in Kenya or the situation in its previous colony Zimbabwe. Wars without the direct involvement of the western nations do not seem newsworthy and the little coverage given only focuses on the brutality of the conflict and not on possible solutions.

When Brian Garvey suggested during the West Belfast festival that the Other View might find it worthwhile to do a follow-up piece on the Rwandan genocide, which featured in an earlier edition, it seemed a useful idea. The more 'other' a view, the more natural a home it should find in the pages of The Other View. If the magazine could generate interest in something far removed from the self-obsessed place we inhabit, it augured well for future discourse. Not everyone would agree. Many, afflicted with a 'poor me' mentality, continue to believe that the North since the Good Friday Agreement is in need of an injection of international attention which the Congo, for example, can do without. We are not racists, but just dare any enemy of the peace process suggest that extra large portions of the collective time of US Presidents, British Prime Ministers and Irish Taoisaigh should go anywhere other than our little white against white problem.

A few weeks later Brian visited my home accompanied by three others. One of them, a black woman, Eki, went out to play football in the street with the local kids. One mother informed me later that she had told her child in advance not to stare. She was aware of her son's lack of exposure to people from other races, and feared that innocent curiosity might translate itself into something uncomfortable. She need not have worried. The youngsters loved it. Experience of my own three year old suggests to me that children attach no significance to the colour of other people unless taught to. In West Belfast's Springhill, where I live, parents seem to do their utmost to ensure their kids pick up no racist traits.

The other woman, Judith, sat in our living room alongside Explo Nani-Kofi of the African Liberation Support Campaign Network (ALISC Network). This body seeks to highlight the 'struggles of grassroots Pan African communities of resistance' and is guided by 'the principles of self-determination and social justice.' As we drank coffee, Explo outlined the activity of the network. There appeared to be three primary objectives. Within an overall context of promoting Africa, more specifically ALISC want to establish a European wide movement which would campaign against western banks, governments and multinational companies which are involved in recolonising Africa, leading to expropriation of African natural resources and property leaving millions destitute or dead; in addition, it seeks to raise the level of public awareness about resistance in Africa against the policies that home grown despots inflict on their own people as proxies for the West; ALISC further aims to secure what it refers to as the 'emancipation of African women and men.'

In London, where Explo is based, ALISC organises cultural events and workshops. Amongst the type of activities it has promoted have been a commemoration of the 30th anniversary of the death of the first president of Ghana, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, and celebrations of the birthday of Abu Jamal. In addition it has sought to raise awareness about reparations owed Africa from the West, and the African Diaspora.

One of the campaigns managed by the ALISC Network is the 'IMF and World Bank Wanted For Fraud Campaign.' Despite the World Bank insider, Joe Stiglitz's blistering critique of the institution, both it and the IMF continue to promote themselves as the harbingers of 'economic growth.' But such growth has benefited the financial bully who has pushed public services such as health and education of the sidewalk and into the path of rampaging privatization.

ALISC fears that with the set backs in both Afghanistan and Iraq reinforcing a need on the part of the West to ideologically mask military subjugation in the discourse of military humanism, it might be inclined to 'Pentagonise' some African conflict spots. When I suggested to Explo that military intervention early enough in 1994 could have prevented the Rwandan genocide, he countered that the murderous rage that consumed Rwanda ten years ago was a result of 'proxy' battles being fought out by Western powers; the US were arming the Tutsis with the French doing likewise for the Hutus. While feeling that explanations of this type ignore the local dynamics at play, self-serving Western calculated cynicism is not something to be dismissed lightly.

ALISC believe that where the West does intervene it should not be in military terms. Western governments should monitor and halt arms sales from their countries to the genocidists; they should also throw their weigh behind an African Peace Initiative to stop the militias and bring the perpetrators to justice.

Explo edits Kilombo, a magazine described as the 'continuing voice of pan Afrikan communities of resistance.' It has been in production since 1997. During his visit to Belfast, he shared a public platform alongside Carmel Hanna of the SDLP, the Green Party's John Barry and Paul Braithwaite of Trocaire. Not everyone here is obsessed with ourselves. The exchange between his group and The Other View was informative. But even at that, the range of the problems are so staggering, it was only possible to conclude that every journey can only begin with the first step. And our engagement was a very small but worthwhile step indeed.

Contact details: (ALISC), PO Box 21266, London W9-3YR; e-mail:




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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent



All censorships exist to prevent any one from challenging current conceptions and existing institutions. All progress is initiated by challenging current conceptions, and executed by supplanting existing institutions. Consequently the first condition of progress is the removal of censorships.
- George Bernard Shaw

Index: Current Articles

25 January 2005

Other Articles From This Issue:

The Danger of Securocrats
Mick Hall

Criminality Accepted as the Norm
Davy Adams

The Rapture
Brian Mór

Bertie Talking Bollix
Anthony McIntyre

Pact Impact
Dr John Coulter

Holocaust Revisited
Anthony McIntyre

22 January 2005

The End of the Road
Mick Hall

Reiss Pressed on Mark Thatcher Cautioned on Damage of Another Double Standard
Fr. Sean Mc Manus

Follow up on Saor Eire
Liam O Ruairc

Strong Resistance Felt at Bush's Second Inauguration
Christian Roselund, Patsy Crocker

An Old Friend from the Blanket
Anthony McIntyre



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