Archive | International

Local peace activist honoured in Vietnam

Posted on 04 January 2014 by eln

 

The portrait of Len on view at the exhibition.

The portrait of Len on view at the exhibition.

A portrait of Tower Hamlets campaigner Len Aldis is among a series of 30 put on display at the headquarters of the Viet Nam Union of Friendship Organisations in Ha Noi just before Christmas. The subjects of the oil paintings have been chosen because they have supported Viet Nam in its recovery from war and its development as a sovereign country. From a range of countries (including Laos, Cuba, the UK, Japan, China, Chile and Australia), the subjects also have a variety of backgrounds. Some were able to organise support because of their own positions as politicians or state leaders, such as Chinese President Mao Zedong, Swedish President Olof Palme and Cuban President Fidel Castrol.  Others – including writers and journalists – had to organise solidarity at the grass roots.

Len Aldis belongs to the second category. His life as a grassroots campaigner began among the thousands of westerners who demonstrated against the US invasion and occupation of Viet Nam.  Just as the war had a lasting effect on the people of Viet Nam, so it evoked a longstanding effort from Len. He set up the UK-Viet Nam Friendship Association in 1992 and has been working to show practical solidarity with Viet Nam and raise awareness of the ongoing suffering of the people of that country.

“The paintings express Viet Nam’s deep gratitude to our international friends for their feelings, sacrifices and contributions to Viet Nam during the fierce wars, as well as during the development process,” said Vu Xuan Hong, Chair of the Viet Nam Union of Friendship Associations. He continued, “This is the first time we’ve completed 30 oil paintings portraying Vietnam’s most outstanding friends from five continents, who through their statements and deeds demonstrated their unity with Vietnam. We hope that the exhibition is useful for Vietnamese people, especially the younger generation, in remembering this assistance. For those involved in people-diplomacy, this is an event to help all others know what the world did for Vietnam. That understanding will help guide our nation’s growth today.”

Today, the scourge of war continues: and the example which Len set of giving practical solidarity to victims overseas continues.

 

Comments (2)

Vietnam Report: new edition out now

Posted on 15 July 2013 by eln

vietnamThe new issue of Vietnam Report, the publication of the Britain-Vietnam Friendship Society, is now out.

The Britain-Vietnam Friendship Society has a serious purpose: to keep alive links between our two countries as Vietnam tries to build a future free from the legacy of the Vietnam war. During that war, the US dropped chemical weapons – weapons of mass destruction – on Vietnam, and 40 years later there are still babies being born who suffer the effects of that  chemical attack.

Keep up with the news and with the solidarity work via Len Aldis’s website:
http://www.lenaldis.co.uk/.

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Get sharing!

Posted on 29 June 2013 by eln

WFWI Share PLC US V3.inddWomen for Women International supports women survivors of war. The huge amount of armed conflict which has taken place in the last 50 years has left women displaced, alone and in poverty – with few resources to rebuild their lives. This is where Women for Women International comes in, offering resources so that women can escape from the cycle of crisis and poverty.

A new cookbook, Share, is helping raise money for this good cause. It has recipes from a range of celebrities, including Alice Waters, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, Emma Thompson, Colin and Livia Firth, Dame Judi Dench, Annie Lennox and Mia Farrow. The foreword has been written by Meryl Streep. There are also recipes from women who have reclaimed their lives with help from the organisation, which brings a truly international flavour to the collection. There’s bound to be something you haven’t cooked before among the delicious dishes including traditional Afghani Flatbreads Stuffed with Falafel and Kosovan Sticky Doughnuts to Lamb Burgers with Mint and Beetroot, and Apple Tea with Cinnamon.

These women also tell the stories of what has happened to them, so readers can be reminded how much their donations are helping, and stunning photography brings the stories to life. The royalties from the book will support farming and food training projects.

Share: The Women for Women Cookbook that celebrates our common humanity
Edited by Alison Oakervee, published by Kyle Books, priced £25
For more information about Women for Women International, visit: www.womenforwomen.org.uk.

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London Bangla exposes partisan FCO employee

Posted on 27 March 2013 by eln

Ronnie Mirza1

Ronnie Mirza

An investigation carried out by London Bangla has revealed that former TV presenter Ronnie Mirza, a well known figure in the Bangladeshi community, has made partisan statements about the War Crimes Tribunal on his personal Facebook page. This is surprising, because Ronnie Mirza is now employed by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and is currently stationed in Dubai.

The FCO does not prohibit staff from using social media channels, but it does issue strict guidelines which include the instruction, “You should avoid taking part in any political or public activity which compromises, or might be seen to compromise, your impartial service to the government.”

London Bangla reported that an FCO spokesperson had told the paper:
“Mr Mirza’s comments on Facebook reflect his personal views. His account is personal and not an official account of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO).   We have very clear guidelines on the use of social media for our staff and we have reminded Mr Mizra of these.”

Mr Mirza’s Facebook page has now been taken down. However, before it disappeared one of the comments posted by Mr Mirza referred to a statement about the situation in Bangladesh which had been made by Bethnal Green MP Rushanara Ali and had been posted on the East London News website (see below). Mr Mirza posted a link to the ELN post and commented: “Nothing new!” and “Did you expect anything else from Rushanara Ali? If you have, then go and eat your pants!” It is not usual for an FCO employee to criticise a sitting MP in public.

Mirza's Facebook page - with a link to Rushanara Ali MP's statement as quoted on the ELN site.

Mirza’s Facebook page – with a link to Rushanara Ali MP’s statement as quoted on the ELN site.

Mr Mirza also criticised Ajmal Masroor, who has spoken out against violence in Bangladesh in articles printed in London Bangla.  Masroor spoke to London Bangla about the Facebook criticism, saying, “I have known Ronnie Mirza from his Channel S days. He has expressed his respect for my fresh and open-minded approach to Islam. However, on the topic of Bangladesh’s war crimes, he has taking very aggressive and militant stance. I find it sad that an intelligent person like him would be so blinded by his anger and his longing for retribution through hanging people that he has lost sight of the truth. I am disturbed that a British employee working in the Foreign Office is actively supporting violation of human rights, derision of due process and Kangaroo court in Bangladesh. I am not angry at his attack on me, I am simply appalled that such people work for the British Government.
“He has been in contact with me by facebook and I have replied to his message in private. I have come to learn that he has shared parts of our conversation on his facebook.”

Mr Masroor released the text of the conversation he had with Mr Mirza to London Bangla, which has made it exclusively available to ELN and which we print below.

 

=======================================================================

 

  • Conversation started February 19

12:26pm

Ronnie Mirza

Dear Ajmal bhai
Asslam.
It seems you have deleted me from your Facebook friendliest; I totally appreciate you have thousands of friends and you can only keep the ones you find useful/ good to keep. But I’m sure it doesn’t mean I can’t write to you.
I always respect your knowledge and honesty; you’re one of the very few British Bangladeshi politician who never shied away from admitting the truth and self-criticism . I just saw your interview on Al Jazeera and I was horrified to see how plainly you just portrayed our voice, our rage, our concern and our emotion as biased pro- Awami “trick”. I don’t support Awamileague, I personally know a good few number of organisers and they never ever supported AL; we are NOT asking for a blanket hanging for every single Razjakars we are asking the main ones to be hanged. If the court finally decides not to then we have nothing else to say/do. So are be ting out our frustration peacefully. We are not perfect we are not always right but our demand is peaceful unlike those who brutally attacked demonstrators in Altab Ali Park!
Just one more thing to add: AL is a corrupted crooked party, right? But can you please explain why they would go through all these trouble just to get rid of a party who only has two parliamentary seats in a 300seat parliament? (And please don’t forget AL leaders were NOT allowed to give any speech from Shahbag, not even the cabinet members!)
We are NOT “divided” or “polarised” with/by the religion here, this is how some people, some groups want to portray us-the common so called party-less people of Bangladesh. We are frustrated because some people thought its OK to rape right year old girls to “serve Islam”(!) do you really want to support them? We are angry because Chowdhury Moinuddin, the founder of IFE Europe though he could save bullets if Pakistani army killed “Bangladeshi infidels with bricks” (Channel 4 war crimes file, 20/20 productions. Moinudeen sued channel 4 and 20/20 but guess what? Never appeared in court!)
After your interview on AJ I promised my Facebook friends that I would share my message and your response with them and I hope you won’t disagree with this idea to irradiate confusion between you and me/us.

12:54pm

Ajmal Masroor

Ronnie thank you for emailing. I do not delete anyone from my list unless they are abusive. I do not recall you ever being that to me. As far Bangladesh is concern, I see Shabag as a sign of total erosion of Islam from Bangladeshi youths. The leaders of Shabag are atheist, secular fundamentalist and I have read some of their writing on their facebook pages and websites, I have also read about their colourful personal life including their love for alcohol, extra marital affairs and use of vile and filthy language. I believe those who are at Shabag are a melting pot of confused bunch of people, some genuine people fed up with Bangladeshi dirty politics and want to see a change, some secular fundamentalist who hate Islam and some AL opportunists. I do not have any hope of Shabag providing any leadership in Bangladesh. Who is Moinuddin and what has he got to do with the future of Bangladesh? If you have any issue with him, contact him directly. I am simply not interested in politics of vindictiveness, revenge and emotions. I hate it! Talk to me about politics using rationale, evidence and enlightened strategies. No matter how many people Bangladesh hangs, it is not going to bring one inch or ounce of stability and prosperity in Bangladesh. I am a practicing Muslim and for a Muslim country like Bangladesh I can not see its future in the hands of nationalist or secularist. I can not see it in the hands of Jamati or the current bunch of spineless mullahs. I see the future of Bangladesh in clean and pluralist democracy inspired by Islam.

1:52pm

Ronnie Mirza

Ajmal bhai?
Thanks For such a prompt response. I appeeciate taht as a practising Muslim you want to see a democratic Bangladesh inspired by Islam. That wasn’t my point my point was you said the whole uprising is a ploy by the current government so that they can win the next general election.?
My point was we are not a mere tool of AL ( as your AJ interview suggested) we are protesting against war criminals, rapists and mass murderers. I just have you two examples of War Criminals and
why they can’t be “Muslims”. You’re shocked to learn about the Bangladeshi youngsters who you were told atheist, alcoholic, involved in extra marital affairs, aren’t you horrified by the war criminals heinous crimes? As a practicing Msulim, aren’t you sad that these people and “Mullas” using Islam to justify their heinous crimes?
I understand you might get horrified when you are told this these activists are atheists, drug addicts, they have extramarital affairs et cetera et cetera. Didn’t even think for a second how come it is possible that every single demonstrators are alcohol abuser drug addicts and they all have extramarital affairs!!!!??? Some of the protesters are 60 7080 years old. Our aunts, our dads our uncles and auntie are there and they are as good and honest practising Muslim as you are, if not better. So it would be outrageous if someone tells you everybody is an atheist at the protest.
If you source is online blog then let me you this I can create a fake ID on your name and say Ajmal Masroor supports mass killing of white infidels in the UK! You can do the same about me.

Also, just like a pious soul an atheist also has the full right to demand justice, raise his concern for the trial of War Criminals, don’t they? In 1971 Rajakars and Panistani General told their followers that these Bangladeshi youngsters and freedom fighters are “becoming Hindus” becoming “atheists” they all drink etc. etc. it seems your Bangladeshi sources have just copied those words and pasted them onto your inbox.
(I’m on the move so there might be some annoying typos, apologies)

2:28pm

Ajmal Masroor

Ronnie, I would like to see the war criminals brought to justice but using international standards, respect to the due process and independent judiciary. here is something called International War Crimes Tribunal in the Hague! The war crimes tribunal has been nothing less than a Kangaroo court set up by AL and its cronies in Bangladesh. Any people, especially Shabag youth calling for hanging of people is totally uncivilised and I feel ashamed to call myself Bangladeshi as I see the disgusting face of the blood thirsty poeple. What kind of animals would call to hang people and would order to shoot, burn and kill their political opponents? Whether they are Jamat or Shabag, it makes no difference.

I have read the whole documents against Abdul Kadir Mullah and I have found the entire prosecution’s case amateurish, stupid and lack substantial evidence. This man killed so many people yet there is not a single eye witness account of his killings. I have read reports by independent experts and lawyers who have said that not a single case against Sayeedi has been proven. What a farce? I do not buy this war crimes circus for a minute. The right tribute to those who laid down their lives in 71 to liberate Bangladesh would be to hand over any accused war criminals to the Hague and wait for their independent judgments. I am a democrat and I respect international human rights treaties and standards. The current tribunal has violated all its obligations and this has been acknowledged by the chair of the humans rights commission in Bangladesh in his speech yesterday.

I am a democrat and I believe in press freedom, the Shabag youth have demanded burning and closure of all opposition press and banning of Jamat. This is what dictatorships do! Shabag is nothing less than a misadventure at this moment in time. This may change in the future and time will tell.

AL government has silenced any opposition to its politics especially exposed by any press. Majority of the press in Bangladesh are left wing secular press mainly owned by AL supporters or sons of ministers including share by the current Prime Ministers family. Everyone has the right to free assembly and demonstration without any police commissioner ordering to shoot to kill. I heard it with my own ears the words of Dhaka city police commissioner who said he would ask his officers to shoot live rounds to kill at any Jamat members. He should be fired from his job but he will never get fired, he was a leading light of AL student wing during his student years. I do not support Jamat but I do not support these types of jugle brigade enforcing the law.

Ronnie, my 3 nephews in Sylhet were arrested and held in prison for no reason but for belonging to the opposition parties. They are respectd business men in their community, never been involved in fighting or violence. Yet they were held in prison and one of them had his back and legs broken by the police and RAB thugs! This is not a democratic state and AL is a rotten party, it is a cancer for Bangladesh.

Lets talk about enlightened politics. I do not doubt every citizens right to freely express their views but today in Bangladesh freedom is only allowed to AL symapathisers. I simply feel sick to the core when I see people are emotionally so blinded that they do not see anything else but 71 war criminals. In Bangladesh people are dying without food, I have seen it with my own eyes in the capital city and other parts. These politicians and Shabag youth are only fixated by war criminals, as though if they are hanged Bangladesh will become peaceful and prosperous. What an illusion! Bangladesh needs the politics of Nelson Mandela, healing through forgiveness and reconciliation not retribution. Remember what Ghandi said, “if we took an eye for an eye all the time, the world would soon become blind!”

2:49pm

Ronnie Mirza

So you’re basically supporting Kader Mollah??
We are not supporting AL or BNP ( or their political vindictiveness) but we can’t support child rapist either. I have read myself the eye witness account of Kader Mollas crime but you failed!
What type of people want to hang these people in a civilised people? Those who believe the Soham murderers should be hanged, those who believe Schultz should be hanged, those who believe Hitler should have been hanged those; these people never regretted their crime.
We are not asking an eye for an eye we are just asking for some Rajakars to be hanged.
You raised the question of poverty and food crisis; if Awamileague kills or elderly father or your children for no reason, would you forgive them after 10/20/30/40/100 years?

2:58pm

Ajmal Masroor

Ronnie, I am following the Quranic principle which says stand on the side of justice even if you have to go against your own self, parents and family”. I do not support Kader Mullah or anyone. I simply support due process. Their fundamental rights have been violated. If Kader Mullah did wrong, that does not justify you doing anything wrong. I support anyone whose rights are violated. Even the criminals must have his or her due rights respected. Shabag and it seems you are are also failing to do that. Ronnie I am not interested in Bangladeshi dirty politics what I am interested in is justice for all using the due process! People feel like lynching a person or tearing people into pieces, people may feel like killing the driver who killed a son or a daughter, people may feel like cutting the rapists into small pieces. But that does not make law and if we allow peoples feelings to determine the legal outcome we would all be dead by now! Read my words carefully – “I support due process, democratic ideals, international treaties and human right!” Whoever violates them should be brought to trial in a free and fair court! Can you guarantee that in Bangladesh today, no you can not!

3:02pm

Ronnie Mirza

Quran doesn’t support killing of women and children FULL STOP! Bangladesh isn’t perfect but then who else is? The world is NOT taking Blair and Clinton to Hague, Israely politicians to Hague why should we? Ajmal bhai, you are an enlightens soul, OK for the sake of argument I account we al are wrong; I’m a drug addict and I am
An alcoholic, we are rotten garbage of the society you don’t expect anything more from me. BUT PLEASE think for a second, just one moment that what if what you were told are wrong? What if These people actually abused women and children, masses of innocent people using the name of Islam?

3:20pm

Ajmal Masroor

I agree but this does not exclude them from due process! No body is above the legal framework. We have to try people based on clear and reasonable evidence no emotions. I have a question, what is worst – imagine all the 71 collaborators are hanged as you so much love see them hanged. If you then discover that those people you hanged were actually the wrong people. What would you do then? What is worse? Would it not make sense to get watertight evidence against these people? It is wrong to kill anybody unfairly. Thats all I am saying! Nothing emotional about it!

  • Thursday

4:42am

Ronnie Mirza

Well, as i said on my previous comment if we are wrong then…….but if we are not? Form your first comment you’re calling our movement a movement by atheists, alcohol users, drug addicts and of the the people who have ‘extra martial affair” (all of us?really?) you branded all of us without any hesitation and all I’m saying is think for a second, what if we are NOT wrong?
This might provide a good explanation/insight on what you know about Shahbag moment (and what you don’t know:?
http://www.facebook.com/notes/diganta-bahar/%E0%A6%95%E0%A6%A5%E0%A6%BF%E0%A6%A4-%E0%A6%87%E0%A6%B8%E0%A6%B2%E0%A6%BE%E0%A6%AE%E0%A7%80-%E0%A6%A6%E0%A6%B2-%E0%A6%9C%E0%A6%BE%E0%A6%AE%E0%A6%BE%E0%A6%A4-%E0%A6%87%E0%A6%B8%E0%A6%B2%E0%A6%BE%E0%A6%AE%E0%A7%87%E0%A6%B0-%E0%A6%AE%E0%A6%BF%E0%A6%A5%E0%A7%8D%E0%A6%AF%E0%A6%BE%E0%A6%9A%E0%A6%BE%E0%A6%B0-%E0%A6%B8%E0%A6%AE%E0%A6%97%E0%A7%8D%E0%A6%B0/567367726609589

  • Saturday

8:22am

Ronnie Mirza

Anger biased report from you Ajmal bhai!!! So sad! It looks you have been either brainwashed by some proper or knowingly supporting Jamayat-Shibir!!!
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-21551603
I can send you more and more photos of Jamayat but what’s the point? There are always two side of the story but it seems you are interested only in anti-Bangladesh side of the story?
These chhatra Shibir cadres burn jaynamaz in our national mosque and hen did this:
http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=352850408162222&set=a.350994205014509.80063.264282527019011&type=1&ref=nf

By the grace of Allah you have such a sharp and analytical brain WHY are you supporting Jamayat so blindly? Bangladesh opcan only be a better “Muslim state” if Jamayat is out of the equation

8:24am

Ajmal Masroor

Ronnie i have said it hundreds of times, i do not support Jamat or BNP or AL!

8:29am

Ronnie Mirza

But when your writings are only against Bangladesh’ youth and pro Jamayat what do you want me to say?
I’m not arguing with anyone except YOU and it’s only because of my respect for your knowledge! I simply can’t understand how/why you are so anti Bangladeshi youth and HOW can anyone make you believe (what you have told me previously Shahbag prajnama) based on photoshopped photos which we are uploading everyday (to show the original source and Jamayat’s edited versions)

8:36am

Ajmal Masroor

I m not talking about Shahbag, I m talking about the brutality of the government and its police force. I have said Bangladesh does not need AL, BNP or JI, it needs clean moral and ethical leadership. I do not think Shahbag youth can give that to bangladesh either.

10:11am

Ronnie Mirza

Ajmal bhai:
1. Bushwajit the guy who was beaten to death (I’m reffering to your YouTube video) DID NOT HAVE beard.
2. Millions of people in Bangladesh have beard, including AL BNP & even Shahbag demo leaders and NONE OF THEM are called Jamatis (again a reference to your khutba/YT video.
3. All the Scholars are not in Prison ONLY the suspected criminals are!?
4. We never asked them to be ha hanged without a trial and we still don’t have anything else to do if the court decides NOT to hang them.
Shahbag leadership is inexperienced, flawed but you are blanketing them as blood thirsty hooligans who are all anti-Islam!!! This is exactly what the Pakistani military and their collaborators told is/ the world in 1971. If you echo them without analysing the bigger picture then people will rightly think you support Jamayat E Islami and their crimes ( referring to your YT video) we know about neo-Nazis and neo-Jamati collaborates; I just hoped you would stay away from them!

And finally, You preached against our constitution and for the Islamic way of a country (Nationalism is haram in Islam) when I’m in the UK next time I would like to have a discussions with you about this as I strongly believe you’re misinterpreting tribalism with the nationalism( please don’t send me any link, I have done my research, we will discuss inshallah)

11:29am

Ajmal Masroor

Ronnie when have I ever send you a link? I suggest you read the quran and life life of Prophet again and reflect on what is the purpose of our life on this earth. Ask yourself the following questions:
1. Why did Allah creat human beings and term them “Khalifa”??
2. Why did Allah send prophets and after prophets on this earth??
3. What is the purpose of Allah sending the Quran as a guide for all aspect of life and for all time??
4. What did the Prophet do for 23 years as a Prophet? What was his mission??
5. If Islam is a private religion with secular values what is the point of Prophets life in Madina??
6. If Islam is confined to a set of rituals then what’s the point of his life in Makkah??
7. Finally, what is the point of the verse of “are you going accept some part of the Quran and reject other parts, for those who do that they will be lost in this world and in grave trouble in the hereafter?

Please try your best to think about the answers to these simple questions, share them with me if you can. The penultimate question is – what will you say to Allah on the day of judgement when he asks, what was your mission and achievement on the earth.

11:39am

Ronnie Mirza

Ajmal bhai this is why I said I would like to have a discussion with you. As I said many many times, may be Im wrong and may be your SOURCES are corrupt and may be not.
In my eyes Jamatis (and those BIG Four/Fives in Prison) have only embraced parts if Quran and are systematically abusing them for their own benefit and my frustration is it seems you are regarding them as “knowledgeable Muslims”! I am accepting at our suggestions and I’m trying to read and understand more but in last few days NOT even once you agreed/accepted that those Maolanas could be actually enemies of Islam and may be, jus MAY BE what they are telling people/ what you know is not right ( but you not only showed support for them in your video but also asked people to right to the Bangladeshi government, putting pressure on them to free those criminals!!! If you had asked them to write to Bangladesh Government for a fair trial I would have accepted your worry as non-partisan

11:46am

Ajmal Masroor

I am liberal politically, unless you have proved beyond reasonable doubt that someone is actually guilty in my eyes the default position is that they are innocent. I m Muslim and Allah instructs me to be fair and just at all cost, no matter how much it hurts and even if I have to turns against our own families and friends. I believe all the war criminals should be tried at The Hague international war crimes tribunal. In Bangladesh justice cannot be served.

12:30pm

Ronnie Mirza

Exactly; so without proving “beyond reasonable doubt” how can you brand us as “anti-Islam” “drug user” all of us having “extra marital affairs”??
We are NOT bound to take them to Hague.

12:47pm

Ajmal Masroor

I didn’t say all of you as any of that. I said those who organised the initial rally, throws bloggers who were the architect of this. You have joined in the rally later. I don’t mince my words.

1:03pm

Ronnie Mirza

your lines bhai:
”The leaders of Shabag are atheist, secular fundamentalist and I have read some of their writing on their facebook pages and websites, I have also read about their colourful personal life including their love for alcohol, extra marital affairs and use of vile and filthy language”
You believe in online fake ids and I already responded to that. But then you said ”beyond reasonable doubt” since when Internet ID become an evidence beyobnd reasonable doubt?

3:57pm

Ajmal Masroor

Ronnie, lets cut to the chase. If you want to talk islam than I m happy to discuss but if you want to discuss Bangladeshi politics we both have different take in this. Lets sat I fundamentally disagree with your version and therefore it is best we learn to live our differences.

4:16pm

Ronnie Mirza

Sure. But you are not talking just about Islam!?
Anyway Ajmal bhai, thanks for your time. And one day we will inshallah have a nice discussion. Till than all the best.

Comments (1)

Celebrities call for Food for All!

Posted on 17 March 2013 by eln

logo

Mo Farah, Robbie Williams, Eddie Izzard and Sienna Miller are among the celebrities who have joined forces to demand George Osborne keep his promises on aid when he announces the Budget on 20th March – to help the battle against world hunger (see below).
For more information on the campaign, see the video in our featured videos list or on the Enough Food If website.
You can help the campaign. Sign up now at www.enoughfoodif.org and make sure the G8 leaders put food on the agenda when they meet in the UK in June.

The letter

Dear Chancellor,

I am writing to thank you for your leadership in protecting the aid budget. By announcing in the Budget that the UK will give 0.7% of national income to life saving aid, you’ll be making good a 43-year-old promise and helping millions of people in their fight against poverty and hunger.
In 2012, the UK demonstrated inspiring global leadership and community spirit through our hosting of the Olympic Games. This year, the UK Government has an opportunity to build on that promising legacy, when it hosts a major summit on food and hunger and chairs the G8 in June.
Keeping our word and doing the right thing are part of what Britain stands for. We can be proud that, in the face of crises, in good times and bad, the British public show great strength and generosity. Because of this, we can be collectively proud that huge strides have been made in reducing poverty and 14,000 fewer children are dying each day than in 1990.
The world is at a tipping point where we could abolish absolute poverty but hunger is threatening to reverse these achievements. Food prices have been higher than ever in recent years, affecting people everywhere and climate change is making things worse.
By matching the strength of spirit of the British people, we could be the generation that starts to end hunger.
No budget decisions can be taken lightly, but investing in the long term will be cheaper for all of us. We simply can’t afford hunger to rise to the emergency famine levels we saw in 2011.
In order for poor countries to be self-sufficient, as well as investment in aid they also need their own revenue to spend on fighting hunger. That is why the IF campaign is also calling on the UK and other governments to change global rules to make sure companies pay their fair share of tax in the poor countries in which they operate.
Along with others, I am proud that the UK is keeping its promise to provide 0.7% of our income for life saving aid and leading the way on vital tax reforms, which will provide a lasting solution for the world’s poorest people.

Yours Sincerely

Mo Farah, Olympic Gold Medallist
Robbie Williams, Singer; Ewan McGregor, Actor; Bill Nighy, Actor; Jemima Khan, Journalist and Campaigner; Sienna Miller, Actor; Raymond Blanc, Chef; Dermot O’Leary, Presenter; Helena Christensen, Model; Angelique Kidjo, Singer; Michael Sheen, Actor; Eddie Izzard, Comedian; Shazia Mirza, Comedienne; Tamsin Greig, Actor; Tom Hiddleston, Actor; Keeley Hawes, Actor; Joanne Froggatt, Actor; Fay Ripley, Actor; Valentine Warner, Chef; Vivek Singh, Chef; Emilia Fox, Actor; Miriam Margolyes, Actor; Jimmy Doherty, Presenter ; Roger Lloyd Pack, Actor; Billy Boyd, Actor; Atul Kochar, Chef; Jun Tanaka, Chef, Cat Deeley, TV Presenter

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Human rights under threat

Posted on 16 March 2013 by eln

ai_logoJustice Secretary Chris Grayling has announced that the Conservative Party will enter the next General Election campaign promising to change human rights law. It is not clear what change Mr Grayling envisages – and, of course, he has to persuade his Party (or at least its leader) to agree to the new policy. However, if Grayling gets his way the Conservative Party will probably be promising to remove the Human Rights Act from British law: this would mean that the Human Rights Convention could not be enforced in the British Courts and UK citizens would have to go to European courts to pursue cases. However, the Party may go further and threaten to withdraw the UK from the Convention itself, in favour of a British Bill of Rights.

Amnesty International has already criticised the Minister’s statement. UK Director Kate Allen said: “This constant drumbeat of threats to pull out of Europe’s main human rights treaty is hugely damaging to the reputation of the UK as a country that cares about human rights. Instead of throwing their toys out of their prams like this, government ministers should be seeking to improve the workings of the Strasbourg court where they can. But most of all, Britain should be a strong advocate of a convention that rightly outlaws torture and unfair trials everywhere from Vladivostok to Galway.”

Just days later, the importance of a human rights approach was vindicated when news came of the first execution in Indonesia since three of the men involved in the 2002 Bali bombings were executed in late 2008. Adami Wilson, a 48-year old Malawian national who was convicted for trafficking 1kg of heroin in 2004, was executed by firing squad in Jakarta. The use of the death penalty for drug-related offences does not meet the threshold of the “most serious crimes” as prescribed under international law.

The Indonesian Attorney General, Basrief Arief, said that the authorities planned to execute at least a further nine death row inmates this year (there are thought to be 130 people on death row in Indonesia).

Amnesty International’s Indonesia Researcher Papang Hidayat, said:
“This is really outrageous news. We oppose the death penalty in all circumstances, but Indonesia’s long period without executions and the pledge to put even more people to death, makes this even more shocking.

“This is an incomprehensible statement from the Attorney General – carrying out even more executions now would be hugely regressive. We urge the Indonesia government to immediately halt any plans to put more people to death.”
“What makes this so disappointing is that we have really seen the Indonesian government sending progressive signals on moving away from the death penalty in recent years.

“The last year has seen many other countries in the region, including Malaysia and Singapore, taking steps to limit the use of the death penalty, including for drug-related offences. We expected Indonesia to be leading this trend – not dragging the region backwards.”

For more information, visiti www.amnesty.org.uk

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From bottom to top!

Posted on 28 October 2012 by eln

Photo Le Duong, Viet Nam News

ELN: as regular ELN readers will be aware, veteran peace campaigner Len Aldis is never high and mighty. He still visits Vietnam at least once a year, and his visits don’t just include meeting Vietnamese officials. Len works at the grassroots, and his meetings with today’s fourth generation victims of Agent Orange are clearly important to him, and very moving and inspirational.

However, even Len must have been somewhat surprised on 24th October to find himself in the company of Prime Minster David Cameron.

The meeting arose because in June the Party Parliament Group on Viet Nam (APPG) and the Vietnamese Embassy in the UK organised a reception to celebrate the growing ties between the UK and Vietnam.  A fundraising auction was held during the reception, to raise money for the victims of Agent Orange. Items auctioned had been sent to the auction by businesses and by individuals, including the leaders of the three main political parties, who donated individually signed copies of their favourite book. 

To thank the donors, the Agent Orange victims sent gifts of hand-embroidered linen and colourful hand-painted pictures made by the AO child victims from Hoa Binh Village, Tu Du Hospital in HCM City and children from the Cancer Hospital in Da Nang City.

Len collected these during his visit to Vietnam in August, when he attended events to commemorate the 51st anniversary of the spraying of Agent Orange.  He was asked to present the gifts in person – hence his meeting with David Cameron.

The PM, who was accompanied by George Howarth MP, described the gifts as “beautiful”.

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Newham lad does 110km trek for charity

Posted on 21 July 2012 by eln

Maruf and the trekking team,

Emdad Rahman: Maruf Deen of Upton Park travelled to Bosnia to take part in a 110km trek in memory of the innocent people killed in the 1995 Srebrenica Genocide.

 

 

 

 

 

Maruf working on a farm.

During his trip, he worked on a farm and also with the charity MADE in Europe to help set up a fruit farm project, raising £2,600.

 

 

 

 

 

Maruf on fruit picking duties.

Maruf said the experience was physically challenging and taxing, but overall it was a unique learning experience. ”I have learnt many things and met many wonderful people and found that in particular patience, tolerance, respect, unity and team work need to be continually worked on and they are paramount in achieving your goals,” he said. Maruf recommends young people to get out of their comfort zone and to go out and explore, as that enables us bothto appreciate how fortunate we are and to make a difference. He also strongly believes in helping others and giving them the tools to become resilient and subsequently gives back to our own communities.

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Vietnam women join call to ban Dow

Posted on 04 June 2012 by eln

Nguyen Thi Thanh Hoa, President of the Vietnam Women's Union, signed the letter to LOCOG.

Stalwart peace campaigner Len Aldis visited Hanoi, Vietnam, in early May to speak at a Medical University on Agent Orange and the consequences for Vietnam.  While he was there he was able to contact the Vietnam Women’s Union (VWU).  Shortly after Len’s return to the UK, the VWU emailed him a letter addressed to the IOC (below) which Len was able to deliver by hand to the Office of Lord Coe, Chair of LOCOG, based at Canary Wharf.

With a membership of 17 million throughoutVietnamthe VWU is a powerful additional voice to those already opposed to Dow Chemical being a sponsor of the Olympic Games.

The women of Vietnam played a major part in the defending their country against theUS forces and their allies. The use of 80 million litres of Agent Orange over a period of ten-years from August 1961 has left 4.8 million still suffering from its effects.  Tragically, Agent Orange is still affecting babies born in Vietnam– the fourth generation to suffer from US use of biological weapons against an innocent civilian population.

 

 

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Vietnam joins the protest against Olympic sponsor Dow Chemical, accused of “green-washing” its Agent Orange sins

Posted on 29 May 2012 by eln

Len Aldis during a speaking trip to Hanoi, Vietnam, in early May.

Cain Nunns:  The organisers of London’s 2012 Olympics call them the Green Games – a monument to best sustainable practice within the sports world. The Vietnamese government says the organisers should tell that to the hundreds of thousands of children born with cleft palates, mental disabilities, hernias, lung, larynx and prostate cancer, missing limbs and extra fingers and toes. Vietnam joined the growing chorus of protest against Olympic sponsors accused of “green-washing” their past sins earlier this month. In a letter obtained by GlobalPost, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism castigated the Lausanne-based International Olympic Committee (IOC) for green-lighting Dow Chemical as a major Olympic sponsor.

Dow produced about one-third of the 80 million liters of Agent Orange defoliants sprayed over southern Vietnam, during what the Vietnamese call “The American War.” The Vietnamese Red Cross estimates that up to 3 million Vietnamese have been affected by Agent Orange, including at least 300,000 children born with birth defects. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs estimates are much higher. It says 4.8 million people were exposed, resulting in 400,000 deaths and injuries and about 500,000 children born with defects, many of which are still being born to this day — some four generations later. “Agent Orange … destroyed the environment, claimed the lives of millions of Vietnamese and left terrible effects on millions of others, who are now suffering from incurable diseases. Hundreds of thousands of fourth generation children have been born with severe congenital deformities,” wrote Hoang Tuan Anh, Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism to the IOC.

“Dow Chemical has expressed indifference and refused compensation for victims of Agent Orange, as well as their responsibility to clean up contaminated areas. Dow also continues to destroy the environment. In 2010, US EPA listed Dow as the second worst polluter in the world,” the letter said.

Vietnam has unsuccessfully brought legal action against Dow and other Agent Orange producers in US courts. But activists say that the Communist state is caught in a legal bind. The producers of Agent Orange blame the US government for its use, while sovereign immunity shields Washington from prosecution in American courts.

US helicopters and planes sprayed about 20% of southern Vietnam with the defoliants over a 10-year period. The goal was to strip the North Vietnamese of jungle cover and limit access to food supplies. A less reported aim was to drive rural Vietnamese who may have been sympathetic to Hanoi into US-controlled cities in what was then South Vietnam. “It’s ironic that Dow is allowed to sponsor sporting events including Paralympics athletes when it is responsible for creating generations of severely disabled children and refuses to do anything to help them,” wrote a Vietnam Association of Victims of Agent Orange/Dioxin spokesman in an email.

Dow, the IOC and the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games ignored repeated requests for comment. Dow Chemical inked a 10-year deal with the IOC in 2010. Dow envisioned a global sales bump of about $1 billion by promoting, ironically enough, a raft of environmentally-friendly products.

But it was the $11.25 million contract doled out to Dow for the 336 giant panels that will make up the decorative wrap that first sparked controversy. The Commission for a Sustainable London 2012, a watchdog body charged with overseeing the Games’ environmental credentials, was rocked when commissioner Meredith Alexander resigned last month in protest over Dow’s awarding of the stadium contract.

Campaigners believe that Dow also has ongoing liabilities relating to the 1984 Union Carbide disaster in Bhopal, India, that led to an estimated 20,000 deaths and serious injury to tens of thousands more. “But the Olympics is big business. There is an expensive machine behind the Games that is funded by corporate sponsors. Sadly when these sponsors are selected, money talks much more loudly than values,” said Alexander to The Guardian. Big business indeed. Dow’s Olympic stable mates also include BP and Rio Tinto, two resource extraction behemoths that rights groups say have woeful environmental and human-rights track records.

“Dow refuses to accept responsibility. They state they were told to make the chemicals by the US government and will not and have not paid one cent in compensation,” writes Len Aldis, secretary of Britain-Vietnam Friendship Society, in an email to GlobalPost. “Despite their record, money talks. The IOC should cancel Dow’s sponsorship of the Games.”

 •This article was first published on http://postnoon.com.

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