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Rock in the hard place
The US army graverobs Hendrix… the death of the man who exposed the Turin Shroud… the international court hamstrung at birth… the lonely death of Annie Kelly
Eamonn McCann, 30 Oct 2002
Nothing is sacred to these people. Idling innocently around the net one recent late night I check in on Globalvision News Network (gvnews.net) and discover that US Army Psy-Ops (Psychological Operations) specialists are making final preparations for the proposed oil war against Iraq.
"Time is spent driving around the desert in humvees mounted with nine speakers, each blasting a thousand watts of noise. Tank treads, helicopter propellers, huge guns, any sound is broadcast that’ll scare the shit out of 'em."
"When music is chosen, the playlist tends to be short – Beach Boys, AC/DC, and Jimi Hendrix's shrill 'Star-Spangled Banner', repeated ad nauseam until the enemy submits out of sheer annoyance."
You got that? They’ve captured Jimi Hendrix! And the Wilson boys and the Youngs as well!
NOW can you afford to sit at home and not get your ass along to the nearest anti-war protest?
And there's more, and worse. Here's Bush last month defending the Pledge of Allegiance – the declaration of belligerent nationalism which US school-children are required to intone, hand-on-heart, on a daily basis. "And this pledge takes on a special meaning in a time of war. Our enemies hate these words. That's what you've got to understand. They hate the words, and they want to erase them... In Iraq, they don’t put their hand over their heart and say, 'Liberty and justice for all.' There's an old saying in Tennessee – I know it’s in Texas, probably in Tennessee – that says, 'Fool me once, shame on... shame on you. Fool me... you can’t get fooled again.'"
"This may seem a coincidence, friends. But I say that what it means is that they've wired up the Moon and are laying claim to Townsend, too. They’re putting it up to us. Remember:
We’ll be fighting in the streets with our children at our feet/And the morals that they worship will be gone/And the men who spurred us on/In judgement of all wrong/They decide and the shotgun sings the song/I’ll tip my hat to the new constitution/Take a bow for the new revolution/Smile and grin at the change all around/Pick up my guitar and play/Just like yesterday/Then I’ll get on my knees and pray/We don’t get fooled again."
Save Hendrix from the grave-robbers! Save Pete from the song-stealers! Save the Wilsons and the Young boys and all of us from them who’ll misuse our music and lay the world waste if we don’t cede them control of the earth’s wonders and wealth.
Not many readers will have heard of Annie Kelly. Her death last month – she was found hanged in her cell at Maghaberry Prison, aged 19 – didn’t attract much coverage.
Almost everybody in Strabane had heard of her, though. Times, she’d been the talk of the town. She had 230 convictions, had once been dubbed "the most violent woman in Ulster" by the Sunday World. Actually, very few of her offences were violent.
Two days before her death she’d gotten 18 months for attempted armed robbery, trying to hold up a sweet shop with a toy gun. Annie was often over-billed.
Annie was one of a family of 11. When she wasn’t inside, she lived in poor circumstances in the Ballycolman Estate. She will have known alcohol, violence and abuse from an early age. She wasn't long out of infants' when she was put into care. Back home at 11, she made her court debut at 12, was never out of trouble afterwards. Burglary, shop-lifting, threatening behaviour, assault, criminal damage, disturbing the peace. To say she was a handful doesn’t come close.
She'd taken a battering from the world from the day she was born and had fiercely resolved to never lie down.
The pattern of the last two years of her life was like this: two stints of four months each in Maghaberry in 2000, back in by mid-January last year, out in February, in from April to October, released, re-imprisoned, released again, and then returned to custody in February 2002. She never came out again.
The reason she was in an adult, male prison is that there is no place in the North securely to hold a young woman who might be a threat to herself or to others. The dangerous, vulnerable young are locked away and largely forgotten.
Last year, a Maghaberry prison officer wrote to Annie’s solicitor: "The management and staff have serious concerns regarding Anne’s current level of behaviour and the possibility that her actions, however inappropriate, may lead to her accidental death… Perhaps probation or social services may be able to deliver a course appropriate to Anne’s needs...I trust you will be able to convince the courts that prison may not indeed be the answer to Anne’s problems."
Her family says that in a letter a few weeks prior to her death she told of making up a dummy and staging a hanging in her cell. To panic the staff, perhaps, even lure them in so she could let fly. Everybody knew Maghaberry was no place for her.
She isn’t the first young woman whose life has been ended in Maghaberry. Probably, she won’t be the last. Problems without a sectarian edge rarely cut it in politics here.
April 11 last, Israeli tanks scrunched through the West Bank, Chinese cops rounded up members of Falun Gong, a Nicaraguan lawyer for indigenous people was assassinated, three people died in a terrorist attack in the Philippines, and the International Criminal Court was established.
The idea of an international tribunal to hear cases of war crime, crimes against humanity and human rights abuses had been a dream of human rights campaigners for decades. A coalition of more than a thousand organisations from more than 150 countries had been involved in the effort to make it a reality. William Pace, convenor of the NGO Coalition for an International Criminal Court, greeted the development as "the most significant advance in international law since the founding of the United Nations."
September 27, EU Foreign Ministers met in Brussels and tore a hole in the court’s credibility. Overturning a pledge to maintain a united front, the Ministers gave member states the go-ahead to make separate bilateral arrangements not to recognise ICC warrants in relation to US citizens. Britain, Spain and Italy have already signalled they’ll sign exemption deals.
So it’s one law for the rich and powerful, another for everybody else.
What attitude did the Republic of Ireland (Foreign Minister, Brian Cowen) take, I hear you ask?
And I tell you that I’m amazed you have to ask.