Xenatisch

Freedom of speech comes with no strings attached…

Human Rights Act … So long.

I really don’t seem to be able to get over this one. The more I try, the harder my blood boils.

As highlighted in page 58 of the Conservative manifesto for 2015 election (click here to download), the government is going to abolish the Human Rights Act 1998, and subsequently our membership to the European Court of Human Rights. I find it exceedingly ironic, and utterly horrific that in the 21st century, in the heart of Europe, some of the citizens of this country are actually fighting to deprive themselves of these rights, or legal protection thereof:

  1. right to life,
  2. right not to get tortured,
  3. right not to be enslaved,
  4. right to a fair trial,
  5. right not to be punished if you haven’t broken the law,
  6. right to private family life,
  7. right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion,
  8. right to freedom of speech and expression,
  9. right to assembly, association and demonstration,
  10. right to marry and start a family,
  11. right to peaceful enjoyment of properties,
  12. right to protection from discrimination in respect of these rights and freedoms,
  13. right to education,
  14. right to free elections,
  15. right NOT to be given to death penalty.

Wasn’t LASPO Act 2012 enough? What’s next? Colonising Guantanamo bay?

minimum-wage-poverty

Here are a few comments I have encountered these days whilst discussing this topic here and there:

It is abused.

So what? Are you saying no legislation passed in the UK has ever been abused? Say freedom of speech. Has it never been abused? Shall we get rid of that too and ask Islamic State to direct us on this matter?

We had these rights before ECHR.

Did we indeed? Through Magna Carta? You mean the document that gave the rights to the elite and thereby implied that the country is for the monarch, and the elite (the feudalists and priests)?

Who protected these rights? The House of Lords, with hereditary membership? Or the government who legislates whenever it is challenged in a court? Have you any idea how many lives have been saved as a result of these protections? How many brutalities interrupted?

So you’re saying it’s okay to share your entire private life with another government, but not okay for impartial, independent judges of our (Judge Paul Mahoney) as well as other nations (one from each signatory) to protect your rights? It that really what you want? Careful what you wish for!

We are a nation able to govern itself.

What does that even mean in this globalised world? Our ability to govern ourselves is the reason why we invaded Iraq? or the reason why our government not only conducts mass surveillance, it shares the data with other governments, too.

The answer is not to wipe the question. We must safeguard our rights, and look at individual cases as humans. People tend look at social topics as if they are binaries. That’s wrong, and that, right there, is the main problem of the society. We don’t see the human beings whose lives are thereby protected; we merely see those who abuse the system. Some people abuse the welfare system. Is scrapping the whole system the right answer?

We should start seeing the human factors involved in these matters too. Our decisions influence other people’s lives too. It’s not black and white, but that’s how many, many of us see it. If people try to see those protected by ECHR as human beings and not only a bunch of cases, if people read some of ECHR judgements and the stories behind them, they will have easier time understanding the concept. That is, of course, if they value human life above all.

If only we tried to understand things…

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Gaza, apartheid, and politicians of the cloud cuckoo land

In the 1980s, President Reagan of the US and Prime Minister Thatcher of the UK committed their governments to the South African apartheid regime, an action which was later entitled “constructive engagement“. This engagement meant that the US and the UK would veto all impositions of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) against the South African regime. Their populist justification for this action was constructed based upon their belief in free trade and the anti-Marxist nature of the apartheid government.

Thatcher, one of the most hated Prime Ministers of all time for whom British politicians held a state funeral in 2013, declared the African National Congress (ANC) a terrorist organisation. Her spokesperson said once that anyone thinking that the ANC would ever form a government in South Africa was “living in a cloud cuckoo land“.

By the 1990s, everything changed. The under-pressure politicians, although not happy with it, decided to support the public consensus over the issue and imposed sanctions on the apartheid government of South Africa. Britain’s extensive investments in South Africa meant that any sanctions against the regime would result in considerable impacts on the economy. And that was the reason why the apartheid regime of South Africa failed, and fell eventually.

Unfortunately, however, the nature of politics never changed in Britain or the United States. David Cameron and George Osborne (UK chancellor of exchequer) both cried during Thatcher funeral. This meant only one thing to me: ‘they would have done the same’.

And indeed, they are doing the same; in Gaza.

But unlike them, I have learnt my history and hence am confident that they will fail just as well. As they did in South Africa, in Vietnam, in India, and so on and so forth. Colonialism will no longer work. Oppression will no longer work. People who couldn’t see then, can see now. After all, we live in the era of telecommunications. Politicians may never learn; nonetheless, the history won’t hesitate to repeat itself.

Last word:

You can wake someone who is sleep, but you can never wake someone who pretends to be sleep.

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On resignation of a Tory minister over Gaza

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As an opposition to any form of conservatism and capitalism, I generally have no common perspective with Tory politicians. Nor have I forgotten the expenses scandal Baroness Warsi got away with in 2012; or for that matter, her warning to Labour on “allowing schoolchildren to be propositioned for homosexual relationships”. However, I believe in redemption where people try to right their wrong doings. If there is one conservative politician who can be said to have tried to accomplish this goal and regain some public respect; it would be Baroness Warsi, who seems to have prioritised humanity over political interests. Earlier today, in an unprecedented action, she tendered her resignation to Prime Minister Cameron, stating:

Particularly as the Minister with responsibility for the United Nations, The International Criminal Court and Human Rights I believe our approach in relation to the current conflict is neither consistent with our values, specifically our commitment to the rule of law and our long history of support for International Justice.

I salute Sayeeda Warsi for her reputable action, and urge other ministers to stand in solidarity with her.

 

PS: Photo from the BBC.

Can Obama be stripped off his Nobel prize?

The short answer is “No”.

Right, now if you are still reading this, it means you want to know more.

In the last few days, a number of my friends and acquaintances have asked me to start a campaign addressed to the Nobel committee on this issue. I did a bit of research on it, an it appears that the prize is irrevocable on the basis of Nobel Prize constitution.

Despite receiving numerous petitions throughout its history, the committee has refused to change this clause of the constitution. It is, however, important to appreciate that the committee is usually vey cautious and vigilant in awarding the prize and normally does so some 20 years later. In many cases, the people who really deserve to receive the price die, and again on the basis of the constitution, the prize cannot be awarded to a person who has passed away. The most notable example of this was Mahatma Gandhi whom despite 5 previous nominations, never received the award and was assassinated in the year he was shortlisted for the prize. Although in his recognition, the committee decided not to award the prize in 1948 all together.

For no apparent reason, they didn’t uphold this practice with regards to Obama. I really believe that in the case of Obama, the prize was given for no arguable reason. In other words, it was given as an encouragement, rather than an appreciation/recognition. This itself was in breach of the Nobel Prize constitution. But then their decision is final and cannot be appealed. Not the most democratic institution, ey?

I believe they know they’ve made a big mistake, which will seriously undermine the integrity of the prize, but there isn’t much they can do about it now. All I can say is that our future generations will see this and laugh at us, just as we laugh at our previous generations now when we hear that Adolf Hitler was a Nobel Peace Prize nominee just before the outbreak of WWII. Of course Obama and Hitler could not be compared indiscriminately and haphazardly, nevertheless the integrity of the prize is damaged even further.

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Can one be moral in a secular society?

The concept of god was initially created to enforce morality through religious requisites, claiming it was a divine dictation, so that it could not be questioned or tampered with. These requisites, howsoever practical they may have been at genesis, gradually became irrational as human understanding, and thus humanity, evolved. Sui generis nature of the human mind has enabled the course of evolution to develop the ability of deduction, capacitating our species with the power to distinguish between good and evil through gaining experience, and transmitting the evident and substantial experiences to future generations.

Morality, on the other hand, is not a definitive notion, but one open to interpretation. Therefore, as suggested by Johnson (2013) “ethics initially requires an analysis of moral concepts”(1); it entails rendering an interpretation of the concept in preparation for debating it within the context. Kantian perspective determines the innermost intent of an action, that known merely to the executant, as what defines morality (2). Kant further argues that morality is that which is positive and can be emulated (3), a perception widely recognised nowadays. Injecting religious beliefs into a society, ergo, is in contradiction with the aforementioned definition of morality by Kant; for religion, if practiced as dictated, is a negativity that amounts to cruelty. From the Holocaust, to slavery and homophobia, to abusing women and children rights, were and indeed are explicitly promoted by religion. Consequently, individuals only hang on to their religious beliefs inasmuch as they are used to it, and not that they feel the necessity to hold up the conception as did thousands of years ago.

Philosophy of the newly born concept of nonreligious faith in a divine entity (hereinafter, irreligious faith) is also practically identical to its preceding idea of divinity, or god; which itself appeared as a mean to support religion. Thus, in order to succeed, the concept required amongst other distortions, to be a subsidiary to the otherwise unachievable yet consuming desire for the following 4 issues in the human mind: (I) justice and injustice, (II) reason for the unknown, (III) reliance in difficulties, and (IV) eternal life. Similar to every other idea, this substitutional conception also evolved through time, i.e. religion after religion; until it was no longer acceptable to self-identify as a prophet. This historical intersection was a moment of substantial significance in evolution of mind, whereby the consensus gentium shifted towards logic, and repealed dictation. The idea of irreligious faith was consequently initiated to justify similar needs for superficially secular parties whose academic knowledge or social status no longer embraced traditional religious ideologies.

In conclusion, by relying upon the above definitions of morality and religion, it is safe to suggest that morality is only possible within a secular society. As Simon de Beauvoir (1972) rightfully proposed: “If it came to be that each man did what he must, existence would be saved in each one without there being any need of dreaming of paradise, where all would be reconciled in death.”(4)

Pouria Hadjibagheri
30 January 2014 – London.

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References:

 (1) Johnson, R. 2013. Kant’s Moral Philosophy: Stanford Encyclopædia of Philosophy. [online] Available at: http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/win2013/entries/kant-moral/ [Accessed: 29 Jan 2014].

(2) Kant, I. 1873. Kant’s Theory of Ethics or Practical Philosophy. London: Longmans, Green, Reader and Dyer. pp. 87-93.

(3) Epstein, G.M. 2009. Good without God. New York: HarperCollins. p. 112.

(3) Beauvoir, S.D. et al., 1972. The Ethics of Ambiguity. Secaucus, N.J.: Citadel Press.

People vs Attorney General : Only in the UK.

These past few days, a UK High Court verdict has resurrected talks about the neutrality of monarchy and that whether or not the public has the right to know if the monarch in question is, and has always been neutral in politics. After all, it is the only reason why they cannot vote in elections.

The verdict, as anyone of ‘sound mind’ would predict, was against the attorney general who vetoed a freedom of information request by The Guardian to release all and every letter from Prince Charles, the heir to the throne, to the cabinet. This will enable the public to ensure the prince’s neutrality in politics.

The prince allegedly interfered with the government at times and has expressed disagreement with certain policies of former prime minister Blair and his cabinet. If these accusations are true, then it is only right to launch further investigations into the prince’s conduct.

The public has the right to be informed, as determined rightfully by The Guardian.

All said, this new shambles supported by this attorney general has reminded me of a piece of music by Handel: Zadok the Priest.

Rejoice!

What a piece of work

What a piece of work is this guy, Bibi (Benjamin Netanyahu).

He complains about the EU countries summoning Israeli ambassadors over the settlements [Read more @ BBC], which by the way, are outside the UN’s formal recognition of Israeli borders, and says “When did the EU call in the Palestinian ambassadors about incitement that calls for Israel’s destruction?”. He has the audacity to say this, whilst knowing that Palestine is NOT formally considered to be a country by the UN, and cannot therefore be dealt with as such. I don’t know about the Israeli, but that’s not what we call a successful practice of propaganda and populism in European politics.

He also forgets that his praised-by-him late predecessor, Ariel Sharon, made the former British Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, wait for a meeting with him for hours, only because beforehand, whilst visiting Iran, he used the noun “Palestine” rather than the adjective “Palestinian” in an article for the Iranian press. [See Straw’s interview with The Independent ]

Someone, maybe an advisor to Bibi, needs to remind him of three things:

1- There are certain boundaries in the world that you are not supposed to cross.

2- Patience, even the American kind of it towards Israel, has a limit. The terms and conditions of which, however, does not include the Israeli defence minister insulting the American Foreign Secretary. [Read more at the BBC website]

3- The Arabs have more money than Israel, which might change the balance if deemed necessary.

What separates, has to be learned. What unites, can be seen in an instant.
– Sartre, J.P. (1954) Colonialism and Neocolonialism.

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Boycott Ukraine, hold up Bahrain!

Now I don’t seem to be quite able to figure this one out. What exactly is the reason why the Formula One Grand Prix games were not boycotted by the “European” countries, despite the extensive humanitarian issues and concerns and the ongoing political unrest in the country. Chief Ecclestone simply “declared” the following statement: “Sport and politics should not mix [citation: CNN 13 April 2012]”. Well thank you very much, chief, for your spectacular perspective which has undoubtedly inspired the Bahraini government to strike on people in a more “formal” way.

Yet on the other side of the seas, the “European” countries have called to boycott Euro 2012 games in Ukraine for pretty much the same reason in a significantly smaller scale [citation: The Independent 3 May 2012]. I only happen to recall Igor Voloshin, the spokesman of the Foreign Ministry of Ukraine giving the following statement: “Euro 2012 is about football not politics. It’s impossible to solve any political issues through boycotting sporting events.” [citation: The Guardian 30 April 2012].

Now I am not by any means approving of what is happening in Ukraine. But as a matter of personal interest, I’m just wondering why have two identical statements made by two different countries for very identical issues are treated so differently. I’m not also suggesting that it might in any way be relevant to the oil industries, nor am I referring to the fact that wealthy Arab countries may be playing any roles whatsoever in this game. But nevertheless, I have my suspensions. It is probably because these events are happening in Europe, the utmost “heart” of civilisation, or is it just because the European blood is redder than that of the Bahrainis’?

Do the Muslims have to be one who start the unrests (peaceful or violent ones) in the world? and the “westerners” to be amongst those who end it? Or is it just Mccarthyism being replaced by Islamiphobia?

The Jews used to be the subject to the same game though, didn’t day? A game that has remained identical to what it has always been in the modern and post-renaissance history. The chessboard has remained the same, so have the champions. Only the set has changed!

Feudalism never faded. It never died. It just transformed! Whores have renamed to prostitutes! It’s just the name of industry that’s changed and its tactics revolutionised, not the job, not the players.

Righter and more fascist than Hitler, and yet operating vastly within the continent! Wilders of the Netherlands, Griffin of Britain, Le Pen of France… The list goes on and on, and yet the German government supposes that they can influence the syndrome by prohibiting the publication of Mein Kampf for as long as they practically can (in accordance with Copyright obligations) and ultimately publish it in an “unattractive” way to prevent neo-nazism [citation: The i 23 April 2012]! Isn’t this just absurd?

When do these people want to wake up and realise that human beings are not bunches of papers on their desks, and should not therefore be treated as such. Why is it that the innermost values of humanity has been neglected, demoted and demeaned to an extent where people let themselves to sit on the other side of a desk and treat so egregiously as if they would never ever be subject to standing on the other side of that very same desk…

Shame on us! oh come on, me included… Let’s be realistic instead of optimistic!

Some hundred years ago, Desecrate claimed that human being has two different aspects. A theory that is known as Dualism! Making it very short, it claims that human mind is a separate entity that works in association with the brain. Something that exists, but cannot be touched or seen. Some kind of a “majestic” phenomenon that is not made of matter. This idea was welcomed by those who believe(d) in a supreme being. Hundreds of years later, however, it was claimed that mind is not in association with brain, but a production of it. This one is called Materialism.

Seeing what is happening in the world around me, I personally subscribe to the second one. The reason is clear…

We are only biorobots. Some of us can occasionally see beyond what is given to us. Only because we have a more advanced brain that can yield a better product, while some others can just see the procedures as written on the paper. They are made to follow the procedure.

I’m sorry, but that is the procedure… Doesn’t this sentence sound too familiar to be ordinary???

Flexibility is not for robots. Human being who have lost their ability to be flexible, are not worth being called human beings anymore!

Pouria Hadjibagheri

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Biorobots – Alone in the dark: Coast of Atlantic, Cape Town, South Arica – By Pouria Hadjibagheri

Occupy Sheffield Camp

Couple of days ago, on Tuesday, I visited the Occupy Sheffield camp down the High Street, just on the forecourt of Sheffield Anglican Cathedral. Late evening, it was a rather cold misty autumn night. I was looking for a friend of mine, Lesley, who had invited me and was also one of the organisers. The intention was to take some photographs from the camp and get to know the fellows around. Once I got to the camp, I started wandering around looking for Lesley. She wasn’t there. Couple of chaps there noticed that I’m not just an average pedestrian passing by, which led them to come over and say hello, presumably to find out who I am.

After a short chat, I was introduced to the other fellow members of the camp who were gathering around the fire. Some where already sleeping, I was told! There were about 10 or 12 tents already set up. I pulled out my camera whilst having a chat about photography with the guy standing next to me, Chris was his name, or so I recall! Changed to a proper lens, installed my flashgun, and geared up, headed towards the scene. A nice middle-age man was playing a Country song on his guitar. He gave me a sweet nice smile and greeted me warmly. So I started with him. A nice, good looking young lad, wanted me to include him in my photographs too.


Once finished with that scene, I decided to walk around the camp and read the posters and banners. I must confess that one of them was so against what I had pictured in my mind. It had the following message displaying on it: “Drug and Alcohol Free Site”. Considering the fact that I had heard ‘drugs’ and ‘alcohol’ are the main issues at the camps of this ongoing movement, I so wasn’t expecting to see such a message. Nevertheless, I had to inquire about it. “Chris”, I shouted, “Can I have a word please?”. And I asked “Why the general assembly of the camp have decided to ban any drug or alcohol? Considering the fact that this is a private property, you wouldn’t have any problems with the police either!”. He told me that they had heard about the issues within the other camps and experienced a minor difficulty themselves on the first night the camp was set up, and therefore the assembly decided to ban any drug or alcohol from the camp.

In response to my question asking “Don’t you have any problems with the homeless people?”, Chris said “No, if they come over, they are more than welcome for as long as they observe the rules and respect the cause.”

I had heard in the past that these camps tend to be very attractive to the homeless people, but majority of the people I met there seemed neither homeless, nor uneducated. In fact I met several academics, retired staff of the government, students, medical doctors, former military staff, and a mathematician. It looked nothing like a night-shelter for the destitute or the homeless. vulnerable? maybe! I also had a nice chat about politics and economy with several people over there.

I noticed some problems, I must confess, and I indicated them to the organisers later. Among the most important ones, I should highlight the fact that the campaign significantly lacked a written manifesto, and a defined spokesman.

However, on the other hand, I really liked the innovative, hopeful and fresh spirit throughout the camp. Everyone was basically doing whatever they could possibly do. There was even a cultural tent in which they were keeping books, newspapers, magazines, and also planning for concerts and other cultural shows.

I just had to return once again to see if there is any progress going on within the camp! So I did. And the short answer was “yes”. Everyone was having fun organising or otherwise managing something. I was offered a nice warm coffee, and talked to more members. I also attended the general assembly meeting. I liked the democratic way through which the meeting was conducted. Everyone, even me, had their say. Everyone was the same. Everyone was ‘worth’ the same. I asked myself, would we really see this on a countrywide scale someday, too?

Pouria Hadjibagheri

BBC World Services Responds to my Complaint

Response of BBC Persian (BBC World Services) to my letter criticising their programme on homosexuality.

Click here to read my letter.

Please leave comments to let me know whether or not you find this response satisfactory or shall I take further action upon it.

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Dear Mr. Hadjibagheri,

Thank you for your letter dated 12 September 2011, in response to our programme ‘Homosexuality, adventitious or genetical?’ recently broadcast on BBC Persian.

We always appreciate feedback from our audiences because it helps us to enrich the Pargar debate and improve future programming.  In response to your comments, the objective of this programme was to listen to the arguments of the parties we interviewed and to challenge the opinions of experts, and we are satisfied that this was achieved.    In Pargar format it is mainly the function of panel 2 members to ask questions and challenge the experts’ arguments in the debate.  We took great care in chosing experts who could enrich the content of this programme, whilst also giving a balanced view of the realities of being homosexual or transgender in Iran.   We feel that it is important that journalists continue to challenge the research of academics and experts, and how laws are applied in various states, so that our audiences can see whether they are a clear representation of the realities of life.

In response to your criticism that this programme should have been given an age limit, we are also confident that the language used in the debate did not contain any strong langugage that was inappropriate for a time limit on this programme.

We would also like you to know that this was the first programme on BBC Persian to deal with homosexual or transgender issues in this format, and that this programme was widely welcomed by our audiences.  In fact, we have found that no other debate on Pargar has attracted as much lively debate on our Facebook page, and we have received many thanks for raising an issue that is currently taboo in Iran.

We welcome your feedback in the future.

Kind Regards

BBC Persian
BBC World Service