Archive for the ‘Published’ Category

A terrifying night

Posted: May 30, 2013 in International, Published
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BY: Khairul Kuader

The time around from 2:00am to 4:00am, a two-hour crackdown by three phase’s troops with guns and tears moved ahead the Mothijeel square in Dhaka to exile the Hefazat-e Islam activists with triggering fire at last night on May 6. As a journalist I was in the troops and moved ahead, it was a nightmare. After the drive the troop members started the rescue operation and some kind troop members help them for safe escape. “What I have done in the night, all are kids here, and how I opened fire on them!” a troop member said with breaking tears. Most of the gunned down people were minor boy and very elderly man, those who came to attend at a meeting at evening on the day. The place just became a hell with fires, loud sound of sound grenades, blank fires as well as countless triggers of rubber bullets. With in very short time countless bodies fallen down on the street like life less and rolling down blood to the nearby drain and street from those injured body. Many were seen running with hands up above their heads towards Notre Dame College. Most of them made off through Tikatuli.

At least 14 killed in ongoing clashes between Hifazat and law enforcers. Some 25000 Hifazat demonstrators of Motijheel retreated into the nearby lanes amidst clouds of teargas and a hail of rubber bullets. Police say most of those protestors were indeed Jamaat-e-Islami and its student wing Islami Chhatra Shibir activists, but Police admitted that it is an assumption. However Motijheel area was littered with papers, sandals and some bags after the operation drove the assorted band of Hifazat and Jamaat supporters away. Fire was burning in a few places. Five vehicles were also burning at the scene.

Original here – http://khamin.wordpress.com/2013/05/06/a-terrifying-night/

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Pakistan Election

By: Naeem Asghar

ISLAMABAD: Keeping the tribal tradition alive, once again the local women were barred from casting their ballots in recent Pakistani re-polls at at-least two of the polling stations in its Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

Polls Women

Earlier Gem Observation Mission (GOM) from Gender Concerns International on May 13th issued a report based upon election observations, disclosing that women were not permitted to cast their ballots in eight dirstrict of Pakistan mostly belonging to the Khuber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan.

However, this time Pakistani women were barred from casting their votes in a provincial assembly constituency PK-260,  Batagram  II of the same KPK province in at-least two polling stations.

Un-official results declared Shah Hussain, a contesting candidate from Jamiat-e-Ulema-e-Islam (Fazal) was running up scoring highest 8117 votes, whereas Muhammad Zubair , an independent candidate was the running up candidate in this constituency with his 7721 votes.

Pakistan

Zubair made a complaint to the Presiding officer, the females have been barred from using their right to vote, following which the re-polls were permitted on the two polling stations

On the complaint of independent candidate Muhmmad Zubair presiding officer held re-poling for women on these two polling stations in PK-260,  Batagram  II.

It was witnessed that despite getting takeoff at sharp 9 am, no female appeared to cast her vote till the end time.

Muhmmad Zubair logged a complaint making claim that women in the area were forcibly stopped to not to cast their votes and poling day confirmed his claim as well.

These two polling stations are located in the vicinity of Batgrame and are in village Allaai Miaan, where women do not cast their vote.

Reliable sources told the scribe that local elders reached a consensus prior polling day that women could not take decision, and should not be permitted to vote, summing up into ‘no vote for women.’

An aged local  Gulab Khan told,

It is our tradition to not to let women involved in decision making or to cast their votes, In according with our local traditions and customs no women casted any single vote during current or the past election.

The total number of registered voters in this constituency PK-260,  Batagram  II is 77,762 voters, whereas only 24,256 votes had been casted in recent elections, which reflects the ratio of female registered voters who were not permitted to use the right of their vote.

See original here – http://www.thekooza.com/tribal-customs-dont-allow-women-voting-women-barred-from-ballots-in-pk-260-re-polls/

PUBLISHED in the ‘Derry Journal’ Friday 8 June 2012 – http://www.derryjournal.com/lifestyle/entertainment/celebrating-palestine-in-derry-through-culture-and-art-1-3924275

Little known Canadian-Palestinian performance poet, Rafeef Ziadah, has already received worldwide recognition for her work at 30 years of age. Most notably from film director, Ken Loach. He said “Rafeef’s poetry demands to be heard. She is powerful, emotional, political. Please read her work and see her perform.”

Ms. Ziadah’s is highly thought of in the birthplace of her grandparents – Palestine. By popular vote, she was chosen to represent Palestine at ‘Poetry Parnassus Festival’ at the South Bank Centre in London. The Arts Council in Ontario also recognised her talents in awarding her a grant to create her debut performance poetry album ‘Hadeel’.

Ziadah was in Ireland last week for the cultural concert tour “Commemorating Al Nakba – Celebrating Palestine”. We met in a Dublin city centre apartment to discuss the tour and the message it is bringing to an Irish audience.

While waiting patiently outside the apartment for her to arrive, I recognise her approaching among an oncoming group of five. I had seen her image several times on social media so, happily I cry out, “Hi Rafeef?” With a gentle smile she replies “yes, I am Rafeef”.

On first impressions, not the passionate personality who performed ‘we teach life sir’ in London last November. A performance that received over 215,000 hits on YouTube.

However, on the stairway up to the apartment, as we discuss Palestine and her poetry, the passion re-emerges. She passionately explains the message behind the concerts that recently visited Cork, Dublin, Belfast and Derry on the Irish leg of a tour that also included the UK.

She explains “the tour commemorates what Palestinians call ‘Nakba’ week – Arabic for catastrophe, which marks the 64th anniversary of the foundation of the State of Israel, when over 700,000 Palestinians were expelled”.

Among those expelled were her grandparents. They never returned. The right for refugees to return and the struggle of the Palestinian people are the key messages of the tour. They are the driving forces behind Ziadah’s poetry.

She excitedly explains what it means to her and other Palestinians. She explains what it means to be performing in Ireland. “Ireland has a special place in the hearts of Palestinians”. She jokes “we believe Ireland was mistakenly located and should be down her with us”. On a more serious note “the tour was planned at the time of mass hunger strikes in Palestinian prisons”, she pauses, “what country understands hunger strikes like Ireland”?

On the tour with Ms. Ziadah was singer, Terez Sliman, a Palestinian citizen of Israel, Phil Mansour, a Lebanese-Australian singer-songwriter and musician, Yazin, form the occupied Golan Heights. It was “a very unique collaboration” says Ziadah.

For the first time ever she worked with Phil Monsour, who performed his CD ‘Ghosts of Deir Yassin’. The CD says “we are no longer living in the fear, we are going to return” says Ziadah.

Mansour presented his set and Ziadah played guitar with him as part of her performance poetry. The rest was a mix of Arabic songs, written by Sliman, and English poetry, written by Ziadah and integrated with Yazin’s music.

Ziadah was pleased with the response from the Irish audience. She feels it was so positive due to “the musicality of Arabic words mixed with English poetry so the audience can understand where we are coming from”. She explains “it is very hard to explain, it’s something you need to see to grasp the fullness of it”. However, she adds, “it is very unique and very theatrical but also very political at the same time”.

Palestinian art cannot be purely art “as nothing in our life is not political” she says. Ziadah feels a strong need to assert herself through art. She explains that art is about “asserting culture and identity and culture that is being destroyed”.

So how did she get started on this road? Ziadah says “she always wrote poetry” although she didn’t perform until her University years in Toronto. Despite growing up in Lebanon in the early 80s in the middle of the war, it was Toronto Canada where she first experienced real hatred.

It happened when Ziadah, and her fellow students, were working on a creative art scene, using a mock Israeli checkpoint. Ziadah and her fellow students played the parts of Israeli soldiers and Palestinian citizens.  In the middle of a scene, whilst lying on the ground, she was attacked by a young Jewish student. He kicked her in the stomach and yelled “you deserve to be raped before you have your terrorist children”.  One week later she performed her poem “Shades of anger”.

Ziadah’s was also influenced by Palestinian poets such as Mahmoud Darwish, Fadwa Tokan and Ghassan Kanafani. A childhood growing up during the Lebanon war meant she experienced a great deal of trauma so, “getting it out on paper was very important”.

Ken Loach’s praise may raise her profile but the bread and roses issues of Palestine will ensure her work is always heard. What does she hope the legacy of this tour will be? “To get the Palestinian story, on a day to day basis, out there and publicise the normalisation of violence against Palestinians”.

Ziadah is equally passionate about the cultural boycott of Israel and is indeed a signatory to the campaign. She hopes it will counter the “de facto boycott” that exists against Palestinian artists and serve as a “wakeup call to Israel”. “The boycott is working, Israel is taking notice and we have received support from South African artists who understand apartheid”.

And recent political criticism of the cultural boycott? She cools her passion and plainly replies “it shows where their priorities are”.

 

PUBLISHED in ‘Connect’ CWU Magazine Page 33 – http://www.cwu.ie/_uploads/documents/Connect/Connect_June_2012.pdf

Harassment from the most battled-trained army in the world, explosion of equipment, unlawful competition, limited access to frequency and excessive government restrictions. Palestinian-American businessman, Sam Bahour, encountered all of this in establishing Paltel, Palestine’s first mobile phone company.

Since Paltel’s eventual launch in 1999, its subscription rate increased from 570,000 subscribers in 2005 to two million in 2010. Telco in Palestine outperforms other conflict countries. Penetration per capita stands at about 33%. This puts it ahead of Egypt, Syria and Yemen. Paltel is Palestine’s largest private sector employer, employing 3,000 people, with 7,668 shareholders, making up 29% of Palestinian GNP and accounting for 50% of worth of the Palestinian Security Exchange. Paltel is a success story.

Despite this success, Bahour claims that even today Paltel faces unauthorised competition from Israeli providers serving Israeli settlements overlooking Palestinian areas. He claims this is illegal as, in his words, “there are no ifs ands or buts about it, neither side is allowed provide a service to the other side unless they are licensed to do so” and the Israelis are not licensed to do so according to Bahour.

The Palestinian National Authority (PNA) have the right to collect taxes on these calls, yet cannot do so as Bahour claims the Israelis refuse to transfer them. This amounts to an estimated loss of $60m annually. It is also estimated that if Paltel had the opportunity to provide 3G coverage since 2005, it would have avoided lost revenue of almost $67m.

So how then, did he get Paltel off the ground? Bearing a striking resemblance to former Minister Frank Aiken, Bahour explains that to set up a mobile phone company he needed to tick six boxes – mobile licence, mobile frequency, transmission equipment, start-up capital, human resources and customers. As the PNA grant the licence and Palestinians were eager customers, two boxes were immediately ticked.

Palestinian Banks hold over $7Bn in reserves and the Diaspora is keen to invest, which ticks the start up capital and transmission equipment boxes. However, this equipment still needs to be accessed, when it arrives at customs, and installed safely. That box, and the access to human resources and mobile frequency box, is not so easy to tick. This is where Paltel faced their greatest challenges.

As an IT graduate from Youngstown State University and as a Director at the Arab Islamic Bank, Bahour was one of their key human resources. However, other properly skilled Palestinians living abroad were refused entry visas which necessitated the hiring of expensive foreign labour and consultants.

Accessing mobile frequency was problematic due to the bizarre reality of Palestinian Telecommunications. Local telecommunication regulations give the PNA the right to issue licences but Israel the right to issue frequency. Frequency must be released “…based on need…” which Bahour claims the Israelis ignored. Paltel did not get the necessary frequency until mid 1999 despite being ready to go live since January 1997.

The transmission equipment ordered by Paltel was held in storage by Israeli customs, without explanation, for two years. Israeli equipment was released in 2-3 weeks. In August 2010 the World Bank found that from 2002 – 2009 Paltel lost an estimated $382.7m due to Israeli confiscation of equipment and restrictions to operate.

The equipment that eventually got through was subject to arbitrary attacks from the Israeli Defence Force with “no explanation, apology or compensation given” claims Bahour. Delays meant that Paltel were forced to host mobile switches in London and route communication through that switching equipment to one of the Israeli operators. To avoid further delays Paltel then bought from Israeli providers.

So how did Bahour do it? How did he cope with the delays, explosions and lost revenue? What was the key? Quite simply he says “Palestinian business people are resilient”. He believes they are successful as they are “very tested crisis managers” and have learned to “use technology effectively to communicate with areas they cannot physically access”. He believes the Palestinian Diaspora are also a major advantage as, like the Irish, “…are scattered to every corner of the globe…” keen to invest and “willing to take a lot of risk”.

As a businessman Bahour pursued a “better reality for Palestinians” through business and believes the “best form of resistance against Israeli occupation is setting up businesses”. Not talk of revolution, talk of business and business can be revolutionary. Just as we in Ireland know, Bahour too knows that people are less likely to leave their homeland when they have work. “Businesses mean jobs and jobs mean Palestinians stay”. The Paltel story is an example of resilience in the face of adversity. Resilience not dissimilar to that in Irish business people.

 

PUBLISHED ‘Irish Times’ Friday 9 September 2011 – http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/world/2011/0909/1224303759225.html

Chief Dan Daly remembers only too well the scenes of devastation and hopelessness he witnessed – he also remembers the faint glimmer of hope that inspired him so much.

September 11 2001 was ‘a beautiful crystal clear day’, what some pilots would call ‘severe clear’. Off duty that day, he was tempted to take his private plane up for a run around. But that run around was put on hold when he got a phone call from a friend asking him if he had seen what had happened, to which he replied ‘No’. His friend told him to turn on the TV and when Dan asked ‘…which channel…’ his friend replied ‘…it doesn’t matter which channel…’. Within minutes the 24 year veteran was at the scene and he couldn’t believe what was unfolding in front of him. He lost over 50 of his men at Ground Zero that day. One of those was Steve Belson, a very close friend of Dan’s who had convinced him to leave school teaching and join the fire department all those years ago, went into the North Tower and never came out.

He also remembers how he felt those days and for some days afterwards. Like so many Americans it was a feeling of anger. The ex Fire Chief, again like so many Americans, gave serious consideration to joining the armed forces to exact revenge. However, unlike some other Americans, those feelings subsided. Chief Daly began to realise a completely different message to most. He believes that 9/11 will remain one of the greatest atrocities of our generation, in the western world at least, and it is because the atrocity was so great that a new message must be spread.

Those feelings of anger subsided despite experiencing the horrific scenes of picking up human body parts and putting them into buckets along with the horror of losing close comrades and lifelong friends. Amongst the devastation, which has been well documented over the last 10 years, he would see that faint glimmer of hope. The hope he saw was through the volunteers who turned up to ground zero to set up tents and bring some comfort to the rescue workers through therapies such as massage and chiropractics. He describes how he saw ‘two worlds’ unfold in front of him. On one side there was Dante’s inferno as the two towers crashed and burned and on the other side there was a ‘City of Angels’ made up of these volunteers in their tents. In the early days there was no uptake on the services of the volunteers as firemen and other rescue workers were ‘too manly’ for such things. Yet as the days went by one or two tried it out, then three or four and pretty soon there were queues of rescue workers waiting to use them on a daily basis. These people, or ‘angels’ as Dan refers to them, sent him this new message, helped those feelings of anger to subside and changed his life forever. Up until that point he viewed retirement as taking it easy and living it up in The Caribbean, again like so many Americans. A dream retirement for most Americans but not when you feel you have even more to give and after 9/11 to Dan Daly ‘that would be a very shallow thing to do’.

Dan feels compelled to have a positive influence on the world and to do something to ensure that events such as these may never happen again. In his talks he has spoken in New Zealand, Australia and in the ghettos of Rio de Janeiro.  What he teaches is that we ‘need to drop our ego and reach out to people’. Dan says that “9/11 was a wakeup call for everybody but it seems that everybody has gone back to sleep” People are still filled with fear and confusion which has lead to tension and they don’t know what to do. Young people growing up are ‘Hi Tech but Low Touch’ and the so called ‘leaders in society are lost to them’. He feels that the vibrancy is back in New York as ‘New Yorkers are survivors’ but wonders, with some disillusionment, ‘what kind of lesson will we have to experience before we get serious about living with each other in peace’

Now in that retirement, far from kicking back in The Caribbean, Dan Daly is spreading a new message, that message of hope, compassion and personal responsibility to ensure that we get the real message from 9/11. As a father, Dan is conscious of the world that the older generation are handing over. It is for this reason that he is focusing his message on the youth of the world. In so doing he has already travelled to Brazil, Nicaragua, Nepal, Canada, Chile and, this Sunday September 11, he will be addressing crowds at the National Basketball Arena in Tallaght. He will be speaking on The 5 keys to Successful Living which is a message of personal responsibility and means that ‘your actions matter and your actions have reactions’.

And with a name like Dan Daly it’s a sort of homecoming. Dan, moved to New York when he was 3 years old, having been born in London to Irish parents. His father is from Cahirciveen and his mother from Mitchelstown with an uncle, who is a retired Senior Captain with Aer Lingus, residing in Co. Dublin.

Dan’s talks are pro-bono so, apart from a small contribution from the US State Department, he does not receive a fee for giving these talks. Dan says that ‘every human being is on the same quest – the quest for happiness – yet they get distracted on the way which is what leads to so many problems in the world’.  In all of Dan’s life as both a School Teacher and Fire fighter nothing compares to bringing a young 5 year old girl with Aids to the Bronx Zoo, from the Children’s Wish Foundation. He saw that he had made a real difference in her life, a difference he would like to make in so many more lives. It is ‘an amazing feeling’ and it is why he does it. Time for a new story from 9/11, time for this new message.

 

Libya Under Gaddafi

Posted: July 24, 2012 in International, Published

PUBLISHED‘Drogheda Independent’ 30 March 2011 – http://www.drogheda-independent.ie/news/libyan-doctor-suffered-at-the-hands-of-gaddafi-2600486.html

Dr. Fatima Hamroush, has worked as an Ophthalmologist at the Lourdes Hospital Drogheda and Mater Hospital Dublin for the past 11 years. She arrived in Ireland with her 4 children in January 1996 to begin work at The Mater. Fatima lived under the dictatorship of Gaddafi, whose regime eventually forced her family to leave.

The abuses were evident when her father, Abdullah Hamroush, was a judge in the military court in 1967. Prior to Gaddafi’s coup, an army official complained about a lieutenant who ordered ‘…other soldiers to walk over him when he fainted during a training session…’ That lieutenant was Muammar Gaddafi and he was sentenced to 3 days in solitary confinement by Fatima’s father. After the Gaddafi coup and as an act of revenge, Abdullah would spend 3 years and 3 days in prison, a year and a day for the days Gaddafi spent inside. And this was not an end to the uncertainty or suffering they would experience at the hands of Gaddafi.

After leaving Gaddafi’s army, Fatima’s father worked for Liebherr which ended shortly after Gaddafi nationalised all businesses. He then established his own business but Gaddafi’s influence meant private businesses were abolished in favour of “co-operatives” which the government would own. He lost money as he was given just one month to wind up his business or risk being prosecuted. Fatima’s family did not own any property apart from the house they lived in. However, many others, who owned more than one property, would lose them as Gaddafi’s Green Book stated ‘…the house is owned by whoever lives in it…’ Many squatted in others’ houses and the government even facilitated the change of ownership without the consent of the owner or sale agreement. There was no compensation. Many lived out the rest of their lives running after squatters to buy their property back and others died from stroke or cardiac arrest. Fatima’s father passed away in July 2003 due to a medical error, which was common under Gaddafi’s ‘…neglected health care system…’

Fatima recalls Gaddafi’s public executions. In one such execution, a man by the name of Alsadek Alshwehdi, was accused of plotting against the regime. Previously Alsadek had studied engineering in the USA and participated in demonstrations against Gaddafi. A year after Alsadek’s return to Libya, in 1984, Gaddafi’s residence in Bab Alaziziya was attacked by members of the National Front for the Salvation of Libya (NFSL). Some of the participants in the attack were old friends of Alsadek and his name came up during their interrogation by Police. He was arrested and accused of conspiring against Gaddafi, without any evidence. His trial, broadcasted live on state television from the basket ball stadium in Benghazi, lasted just over half an hour. The prosecutor, judge and executioner were all members of Gaddafi’s revolutionary committees.

The head of the Jury that day was a woman by the name of Huda Ben Amer. The accused was blind folded, with the gallows behind him. Ordinary locals were invited and forced to watch the court hearing. Alsadek was shaking from head to toe, begging for mercy and denying his involvement in any conspiracy or crime. Huda insisted that he admit his guilt in order to reduce his sentence. The viewing public, out of fear and an attempt to gain some sort of reprieve for Alsadek, encouraged him to admit. After much cajoling, and in an attempt to save his own life, this is exactly what he would do. Huda then turned the table on Alsadek and exclaimed that this was what she had known all along and he was merely overcome with guilt to admit his wrong-doing. He was sentenced to death by hanging.

The noose, which unknown to Alsadek, had been suspended behind his back all the way through the ‘trial’, was then fixed around his neck as the chair he had sat on was kicked from underneath him. Imminent as Alsadek’s death should have been, he survived. Undeterred, Huda Ben Amer decided that Alsadek was an enemy of the state and could not walk free. She proceeded to grab the Alsadek’s legs and pull him downwards, with the noose still fixed around his neck – yet somehow he survived.  Fearing loss of face in front of the crowd, the prosecutor ordered that Alsadek be sentenced to death by lethal injection. A doctor on duty was ordered to fit Alsadek with an IV line and to inject him with air. The doctor refused. One of the revolutionary committee, did it herself and Alsadek died of an air embolism in his heart.

Brutal as this ‘trial’ was, Fatima was most struck by how little people reacted. They returned to work and went about their business. Such was the fear of Gaddafi amongst ordinary Libyans, that they feared they too would suffer a similar fate to Alsadek’s.

Huda rose through the ranks of the Gaddafi regime. She was appointed Head of The Arab Parliament in 2008 and State Ombudsman in January 2010. Prior to these appointments she was The Minister for Women and Children for many years. She remained a close personal friend of Gaddafi’s and was well trusted by him. During the recent revolt in Libya, revolutionaries in Benghazi burnt her house to the ground. She now resides in Tripoli.

Fatima herself was approached by Huda to join the regime as she had, according to Huda Ben Amer, ‘…leadership qualities…’ Fatima refused. On one such occasion, at a summer camp in 1979, she was forced to watch the systematic beating and whipping of teenage girls, for the alleged theft of cutlery. Fatima still fears reprisals from this woman, because of her anti Gaddafi stance.

Fatima had hoped that things would have changed by the completion of her Post-Graduate studies. However, she was to be disillusioned as things would get worse. In 1996, when 1,200 prisoners were massacred at Abusleem prison, Fatima would finally leave Libya. She could no longer tolerate the regime or live in fear of it.

As the attempts to remove Gaddafi from power failed, he became even more suppressive of his own people and all forms of opposition against him. This brutality included mass executions, public hangings, torture as well as a host of other barbaric methods, which have been well reported over the years, yet seem to have neglected the human side of such barbarity.

Fatima also tells horrific stories of how he psychologically tortured those closest to him to gain their loyalty. He turned his soldiers into ‘…killing machines…’ Stories tell of how these soldiers, as a test of their loyalty to Gaddafi, were forced to walk on their knees with their hands tied behind their backs and eat dog meat that hung suspended above them in a darkened room. When they became physically unwell from so doing, they were forced fed again to stop the vomit. This act of barbarism culminated in a lewd act with a deceased dog’s severed head. This is how Gaddafi would treat those most loyal to him.

There would seem to be no end to the brutality and mal treatment of his people. Fatima tells an even more disturbing tale of the 450 school children injected with the HIV virus by a Palestinian and Bulgarian medical team. The alleged collusion with European nations, including those connected with EU heads of state. The brutality and abuse of his countrymen, women and children is tragically endless.

Fatima, and her son Abdullah, have set up a charity to assist the needs of Libyan hospitals, following the brutal attacks on civilians in Libya. The charity aims to do what it can to expose ‘…Gaddafi’s regime to the people of the world…’, ‘…to voice the concerns of ordinary Libyans and to make them aware of their rights…’ Her campaign is conducted mainly over the internet, through social media and the charity organised by Fatima’s son Abdullah. More information on this campaign can be found at www.libyanemergencyaid.com where donations can also be made. Fatima posted under a pseudonym for a long period of time such was the fear of reprisals from the Gaddafi regime. Sara & Farah take to the streets with their Libyan colleagues in Ireland and tell of their experiences in Tripoli and Benghazi.

Fatima says that the hope of all opposition members is to get rid of ‘…Gaddafi’s brutal and inhumane regime as a whole, to reintroduce the constitution with law and order prevailing, to respect human rights and have normal relations with other countries of the world…’

2004 was the last time Fatima visited her homeland. She has not felt it safe to return since then. She and her opposition colleagues are hopeful that the current revolution against this brutal dictator will bring an end to his reign of terror and signal the dawn of “a democratic country without fear.. a peaceful country with a respected government, whose people are kind, loving and respect international agreements and charters of human rights… a country that will be the centre of world cooperation and a bridge of peace between the developed world and the third world, due to its strategic location and wealth”.

 

PUBLISHED‘Northside People’ (Page 12) 20 April 2011 – http://issuu.com/dublinpeople/docs/northside_people_east_april20_2011

My experience in the Kobe earthquake of 1995 and the long road back to normality

At 5:46 a.m. in the morning of January 17, 1995, a huge earthquake struck Kobe, my hometown.

It was a terrifying experience.

The Kobe earthquake claimed the lives of more than 6,000 people and changed people’s lives in an instant. While my family and I survived the immediate quake, and were very grateful for that, the road back to a normal existence was a long and difficult one. My father had his own small fish wholesale business and I always remember the sight of him sitting alone at the kitchen table one night with his head in his hands; how would he support his employees, how would he take care of his family?

The experience made me realize that life can be turned upside down in an instant and I have to live my life to the full without regret.

Sixteen years have passed since the Kobe earthquake and thanks to help from many people and the fortitude of the inhabitants, the city has been rebuilt. Kobe is now a very modern, convenient city but unfortunately, not the same Kobe that I knew as a child.

Japan Tsunami: Appeal for Donations

As you know from TV or radio, a massive earthquake, the seventh largest recorded in history, struck the east coast of Japan on Friday 11 March.

The earthquake, measuring 9 on the Richter scale, triggered a tsunami which hit the east coast of Japan with 10-metre-high waves, leaving a trail of destruction. One small historic coastal town called Minamisanriku has simply disappeared and half of the town’s population of 17,000 is still missing. No one knows yet what the final death toll will be.

What can we do to help?
In the immediate aftermath, what is necessary is blankets, cup noodles, milk. After that, people have to fix their houses, their boats, fishing nets, schools and hospitals and what they need is money. This is where we can help. I know that Ireland is in the middle of its own economic tsunami, but if you can spare a little, it will be so appreciated.

How to donate?
By credit card through the Irish Red Cross:
http://www.redcross.ie/help/donate_now.php

By bank transfer through the Ireland–Japan Association: (www.ija.ie)
Bank Name: Bank of Ireland, St Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2
Account name: Ireland Japan Association – Earthquake Appeal
Account number: 81235601
Sort code: 900084

With time, the images from Japan will disappear from the TV but the process of recovery and need for aid will continue. When you have friends over for dinner or BBQ over the next year, if you can place a “Japan Tsunami Appeal” mug in a strategic place, it will help to give a steady stream of support.

The North East coast of Japan is famous for its beautiful coastline, and for its agriculture and fishing industry. In winter they have heavy snow. The people are patient, simple and warm. Please do what you can to help.