Reply Fri 9 Oct, 2009 06:07 am

hello Letty

You are right, of course.

Thinking of you in your time of bereavement
Sending you a hug
take care of yourself

0 Replies
Reply Fri 9 Oct, 2009 06:11 am

IRAQ " Ooops IRAN and those WMD (AGAIN)

Fool me once, twice, three times " hell, fool me as many times as you like, I'm dumber than a truck full of custard " and twice as thick. Twice as yellow.

Oh Mr Murdock, I'm ripe for your tripe.


Listening to all the cheesy propaganda against Iraq " oops I mean, Iran and WMD, I'm almost starting to see the hilarious side. If it wasn't that I know millions of people are facing annihilation I really would be laughing " in fact I am laughing. I can't help it. I hope it means I'm finally loosing my mind and that soon I'll be sucked into the yellow custard along with everyone else, then I won't have to think about the evil perpetuation of crimes against humanity.

I won't have to feel my mind churning into butter as I contemplate the hypocrisy and the cowardice of the custard.

I can just float away on the sugar-spill of media headlines that comfort me into doing nothing, and tell myself that being a part of the big flan is better than being spilt milk.

Here are a few links for those of you who are still able to digest the facts.

Jumpin’ Jack Verdi, It’s a Gas, Gas, Gas
Iran and the Pipelineistan Opera
Pepe Escobar


Top Things You Think You Know About Iran That Are Not True
Juan Cole


Talking about Iran on the TV
Glenn Greenwald


WMD All Over Again
Philip Giraldi


Another War in the Works
Paul Craig Roberts


The Lying Game: How We Are Prepared for Another War of Aggression
John Pilger


Toronto sun
Americans manufacture another nuclear crisis

By Eric Margolis



Truth is, every time I remind myself of the realities, I see Sean Connery lying on a blood soaked carpet in the film 'The Untouchables' gasping out his final words, “What are you prepared to do about it?”

So far, writing a few pathetic lines is all I've been able to come up with.

Yeah, I know. Custard.

Endymion 2009
0 Replies
Reply Fri 9 Oct, 2009 08:14 am

0 Replies
Reply Fri 9 Oct, 2009 09:36 am
Sometimes something unexpected comes along and wham " hits you hard.

This happened to me yesterday.

I had just read a report in the London Times about the despondency of some American troops in Afghanistan, as we head towards the 8th Anniversary of the war, when I started thinking about Iraq and a story I have been working on for over two years now, a story for a boy. That boy is Ali Hussein, a 2 year old Iraqi.

I have never worked so hard on a piece of writing in my life. Believe me, it has been a nightmare. I've cursed over it, had sleepless nights over it. I've re-written it time and time again. I just can not seem to get it right. It eludes me, it slips away from me. The struggle to finish that piece of work has been nothing short of a head ****, to put it crudely.

One more time, I opened it on my desk top and re-read what I have so far. Again, I felt incompetent and impotent as a writer. The piece is disjointed, it don't thread together, it bothers me that I can't get it 'right'.

About an hour later, I did what I usually do every few days and looked at the sites I visit on the net, including the US site Antiwar. Com.

I saw that Phillip Giraldi had written something new. I don't know who Mr Giraldi is, but I've read his stuff before and been impressed, so I opened the page to see what he had to say.

As I started reading, it happened. Wham. I knew who he was talking about in his first paragraph. I knew what name he was going to say. Ali Hussein.

I have never been so knocked over by a piece of writing in my life before. Maybe because, like Mr G " it's personal.

Reply Fri 9 Oct, 2009 12:10 pm
That's a good article, endy.
0 Replies
Reply Fri 9 Oct, 2009 01:07 pm
Really Endy--be honest, what do you know about Iraqi kids? They were the most beautiful set of kids I have ever seen. Not that they knew it mind you. I have seen them hitting heavily laden donkeys with sticks. Stripping out an engine and transmission from an abandoned car in the desert. An American car. Begging. Sometimes with an empty hand, sometimes with a nice slice of iced melon in it. Or a Coke. Never a "leetle seesta". That's North Africa. We had all our clothes washed and ironed for a pittance and kids did all the fetching and carrying. Lads.

You should go there if you want to write for them.

Reply Fri 9 Oct, 2009 03:17 pm
We all know or should know about two year old kids, whatever their national origin. I have yet to see a two year old do anything I would classify as criminal although I have known a few to hit dogs with their sippy cups.
0 Replies
Reply Thu 29 Oct, 2009 07:50 am

I know there are five million orphans in Iraq " and that's just the ones in state orphanages who have no other relatives helping them.

Five million. That's a big ******* orphanage, right?

I know that there is an under 5 mortality rate of 138,000 per year, according to UNICEF.

I know that a report by Save the Children, finds an increase in under 5 deaths of 150 % since 1990 - that's more than any other country.

I know that twenty-three percent of all children in Iraq have stunted growth, approximately twice the percentage that existed before the war.

I know that more than a quarter of Iraqi children are chronically undernourished and I know that chronic malnutrition increased from 18% in 1991 to 31% in 1996 among under-fives.

I know there has been a high increase in childhood cancers, particularly leukaemia, Hodgkin's disease, and lymphomas and I know that local people are trying to get an investigation into the use of depleted uranium by the US military.

I know that many pregnant women in Baghdad, whose babies had an expected birth date that coincided with the invasion and bombing of Iraq, had their babies induced prematurely so that they wouldn't be born in a blitz.

I know that severe trauma inflicted on a child, particularly in the first six months of life, is psychologically disabling.

I know that no children's charity or association, or government body has yet put a researched figure on the number of child amputees in Iraq, but off the record all say the figure is 'somewhere' in the thousands.

I know that Iraqi children are having their birthright sold out from under them (literally) " to British Petroleum amongst others.

I know that Iraqi children still live with the fear of death every day, and that the mental torture of dealing with such, is having a sustained and detrimental psychological effect on them, which in my opinion amounts to a crime against humanity.

I know that in some districts of Baghdad, school students are presenting stress-related illness as high as 70% and that this is probably just the tip of the iceberg, because 40% of women with children say their children do not, or can not, attend school.

I know that there are somewhere between 1 " 2 million Iraqi widows, many struggling with poverty, lack of fresh water, etc.. and that their children face the threat of being drawn into slavery as a consequence. Child-prostitution, for example, has increased substantially.

I also know that child-trafficing is happening in Iraq and that an Iraqi child can be 'brought' for between £200 to £4,000.

I know that Iraqi children are facing cholera, dysentery and typhoid, and (as reports show) a rising increase in chronic respiratory illness and diarrhoea,

That's enough to think about for now. I'd forgotten just how utterly shameful Iraq is and how much the press doesn't want to talk about it any more.

It's a bad advert for war.


Here are a few links

Warning: The first link is to a collection of photographs of Iraqi children. Some people may find some images disturbing.

Iraqi Children











BTW - The story i'm writing (and I did say this before) is a tale for a boy - not a tale about a boy. It's not about Iraqi children at all, but even if it were, that wouldn't matter. It's a tale. A children's story.

Reply Thu 29 Oct, 2009 09:21 am
It would need to be a children's story Endy in order to avoid raising the matter of why people bring children into such a world as you describe. Or even how they manage it.
0 Replies
Reply Fri 13 Nov, 2009 06:39 am
In Pakistan -

A suicide truck bomb struck Pakistan's main intelligence agency in the north-west of the country this morning, killing at least 10 people



I have looked back at the time-line of escalating violence in Pakistan.
Here it is:

Feb. 5, 2009 - At least 24 people are killed in a suicide bombing near a Shi'ite mosque in Dera Ghazi Khan, central Pakistan.

Feb. 20 - Suicide bomber kills 27 people and wounds 65 in an attack on a funeral procession for a Shi'ite Muslim killed a day earlier in Dera Ismail Khan town.

March 3 - Gunmen attack a bus carrying Sri Lanka's cricket team outside a Lahore stadium, killing seven people, including six policemen and a driver, and wounding six of the cricketers and a British coach.

March 27 - A suicide bomber kills 37 people in a crowded mosque near the Afghan border.

March 30 - Militants armed with guns and grenades storm a police training centre in Lahore killing eight recruits, wounding scores and holding off police and troops for eight hours. The attack is claimed by Pakistani Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud. Four militants are killed and three arrested.

April 5 - A suicide bomber blows himself up in a religious centre for minority Shi'ite Muslims in Chakwal in central Pakistan, killing 22 people.

April 18 - A suicide car-bomber rams a military convoy, killing 25 soldiers and police and two passers-by near Kohat, 190 km (120 miles) west of Islamabad.

May 27 - Gunmen attack a police headquarters in the Pakistani city of Lahore, setting off a car-bomb that killed at least 24 people.

June 5 - A bomb blast kills around 40 worshippers attending Friday prayers at a mosque in a remote area of northwest Pakistan.

June 9 - Militants attack the Pearl Continental Hotel, which is popular with foreigners, in Peshawar with guns and a truck bomb killing seven people including a U.N. worker.

Aug 27 - A suicide bomber kills 22 Pakistani border guards in an attack at the main crossing point into Afghanistan.

Sept 2 - Unidentified gunmen shoot and wound Pakistan's religious affairs minister, Hamid Saeed Kazmi, in a brazen attack in the capital that killed his driver.

Sept 18 - A suicide car-bomber kills 33 people on a main road near the city of Kohat in northwest Pakistan.

Oct 5 - A suicide bomber dressed as a paramilitary soldier attacks an office of the U.N. World Food Programme (WFP) in the Islamabad, killing five staff.

Oct 9 - A suspected suicide car-bomber kills 49 people in the city of Peshawar. About 100 people are wounded.

Oct 10 - Gunmen in army uniforms attack Pakistani army's headquarters in Rawalpindi. The next day Pakistani commandos storm the building and rescue 39 hostages. Nine militants, three hostages and 11 soldiers are killed.

Oct 12 - A suicide bomber hits a military vehicle in Shangla district, near the Swat valley. Forty-one people are killed, including 35 civilians and 6 soldiers, and 45 wounded.

Oct 15 - Militants launch a string of attacks in Lahore, capital of Punjab province, Peshawar and Kohat in the northwest killing at least 31 people.

Oct. 16: Three suicide attackers hit a police station in Peshawar, killing 13.

Oct. 20: Suicide bomb attack at the International Islamic University in Islamabad, kills six people - including three girls.

Oct. 22: Militants shoot and kill a senior army officer and a soldier in a residential part of the capital, Islamabad.

Oct. 23: A suicide bomber kills seven people close to a major air force complex in northwestern Pakistan.

Oct 28 - More than 80 people are killed and around 100 injured when a bomb explodes in the busy Peepal Mandi market street in Peshawar's old city.

Image from the Peepal Mandi market bombing


Dotted throughout this time line, are the US drone attacks that have killed hundreds of Pakistani civilians " plus the added complication of the suspected presence in Pakistan of the secretive Blackwater (now Xe) company.

UPDATE: November 02

At least 30 people have been killed and 45 others wounded after a suicide bomber targeted workers queuing for their salaries outside a bank and hotel in the Pakistani city of Rawalpindi, near the capital Islamabad.



"When this blast took place, the noise was so loud, one witness said she felt as if her whole world had ended. Another said she saw a woman lying on the street missing half her body."
Al Jazeera's Imran Khan, reporting from Rawalpindi

Yet more:

November 02, 2009
A bomber has attacked a police checkpoint on the outskirts of the Pakistani city of Lahore.

The incident in the east of the country on Monday wounded at least eight people, a senior police official said.



Pakistanis Seek Blame for Bombing



Pakistan On The Edge

I tell myself that Lostnsearching is okay. That she was no where near the University bombings or any of the other bombings " that she didn't know anyone who was killed.

But really, what does 'okay' mean?
The truth is that no one in Pakistan is okay. The majority, those who have been lucky enough to escape (for now) the carnage, are probably left confused as to what the real situation is.
With the splintered (and multiplying) insurgency at their backs, the Taliban in their faces and the US/UK suddenly making it very plain that they are eyeing their once-ally as a potential threat - I would hazard a guess that the average Pakistani feels helpless and perhaps as vulnerable as the Iraqi people once felt, facing in-coming war.

But there must also be anger. When I read Hilary Clinton's speech, given to the Pakistani press just hours after the Peshawar bombing, which killed mostly impoverished women and children, I was dismayed to hear her accuse Pakistan's government of harbouring Bin Laden and his cohorts.

"I find it hard to believe that nobody in your government knows where they are and couldn't get them if they really wanted to," She said.

Wow. From their point of view, her choice of words must seem ominous.

As well as wondering yet again, what the hell we are really doing in Afghanistan if Bin Laden has moved on, I was also reminded of an article I read recently by an American politician, (I think it was Ralph Nader) who asked readers to imagine how they would feel, if China was dropping bombs from drones on them in the dark of night, while simultaneously offering monetary aid, and lessons in communism...

But what about looking at it from the Pakistani side, in reality? I had to wonder how the hundreds of bereaved and injured people from the Peepal Mandi bombing found Hilary Clinton's words that day. Or the Pakistani army, engaged in fighting her enemies as she spoke.

Can a person be so oblivious to the irony?
Accusing Pakistan of not doing all in its power to 'find' Bin Laden " seems a little... bizarre, when America has failed to capture the bastard in eight long years of bloodshed and destruction, despite their space-age Empire and despite the starting line of the chase being inside their own country.

But wait. It get's worse.

When addressing a gathering of female students a short while later, Hilary Clinton said that she had been fighting George Bush's policies for eight years " which apparently got a huge laugh from her audience ( and no doubt a chuckle out of George Bush himself, when he heard.)

One student asked her why Pakistan should trust America.

Hilary Clinton, after acknowledging there had been past troubles, said, ' When you are driving forward, it doesn't help to keep looking in the wing mirror.'


Is that meant to reassure people? I mean, it doesn't help to be eating a baloney sandwich either.

Seriously, somehow that sentence (implying 'don't look back') worries me, when building up behind us, are hundreds of thousands of dead people, including the 600 civilians executed unceremoniously by drones. And further back, lessons to be learned from history, that we all seem to have conveniently forgotten.

But it's just a game, isn't it?

In his article, 'Hillary’s Ill Will Tour' Justin Raimondo slowly comes to the conclusion that Hilary Clinton is John Bolton in a dress " but I think she is better described as 'window dressing' myself, and if Afghanistan is anything to go by... if the rich, corporate, oil robbers, who now seem to dictate America's foreign policy, get their way, the next move in Pakistan will be, 'Hand him over, or pay the price.'

And what will that price be?

More widows, more orphans, more traumatised, more bereaved and more betrayed.

Pakistan (wherein lies the tap end of the trans-Afghanistan pipeline) is being sucked into the black hole that is 'The War on Territories for Resources'. We can go on denying that it is all about resources, but eventually, we will have to face the facts.

Key oil figures were distorted by US pressure, says whistleblower

‘Prepare for war,’ Chavez warns Venezuela

Meanwhile, Pakistan are on the edge of a widening catastrophe and as it spirals outward " from Afghanistan, Iraq, now Pakistan, and next (perhaps) Iran " who really is surprised?

I remember Lostnsearching telling me that she was 'safe' in Islamabad, doing her education. I remember wondering how long that would be true.

This whole saga of insanity is getting out of control. Greed and fear are driving humanity to extremes of corruption and fascism. Someone needs to start talking some sense, before events run away with us all.

Exactly who that could be, I have no idea.

Endymion 2009


Pakistan: targeting civilians is the ultimate denial of humanitarian law
Islamabad/Geneva (ICRC)
" In the wake of Wednesday's bombing in Peshawar " the latest and bloodiest in a string of attacks targeting civilians " the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is alarmed at the severe and intensifying impact of violence on Pakistan's civilian population.

"Targeting civilians is the ultimate denial of humanity," said Jacques de Maio, the ICRC's head of operations for South Asia. "Its only conceivable aim can be to spread terror among the population. It violates the fundamental principles of international humanitarian law."



Hillary’s Ill Will Tour
by Justin Raimondo, November 02, 2009

Arrogant US Misses the Message From Pakistan’s People

Drone Race to a Known Future
by Tom Engelhardt, November 11, 2009


For a Friend and Poet

In Pakistan

She is the land

She is a flower

Her heart beats strange retreat

As the ghosts fly over

Spitting murder

Blasting smile from face

In Pakistan

Somewhere, some place

She is the sky

War fills her eyes

She is the price

The loss is laughter

In Pakistan

Some far away, forgotten land

Where savage plans to hell expand

She is the sun

She is a bird

She is every perfect word

Whispered and unheard

In Pakistan

Endymion 2009

I think of you every day, Lostnsearching. I tell myself you are safe. I hope that is true.

0 Replies
Reply Fri 13 Nov, 2009 07:18 am

19 year old Rifleman, Cyrus Thatcher wrote letters to his mum from Afghanistan. Some were published in the Independent (UK) after his death. They have had quite an impact on the public, continuing to be one of the most read articles on the Independent's site. I found them (spelling mistakes and all) a great example of the mix of pride and humility that is possible to maintain, even under the most trying of circumstances.

Unfortunately 3 blokes died 2 days ago in an IED explosion in one of the FOBs [Forward Operating Bases] bout 2 kilometers away " we visited that FOB 2 days before the attack " ******* mental quite scary actually! We'v had a rest day so Im doing a bit of hand washing and fitness! God you'd be so proud Ha! Ha! Ha! We've still had spam, rice, beans and unflavoured noodles every day " promise me actually I promise you if I see spam in the house ill ******* destroy it!! Im getting pretty good at making flat bread and we bout a goat of a local for 200 dollars and we slaughtered it. I got a good video. Its either catch it, kill it, or make it out here or else you go hungry LOL!! The showers are also freezing whilst Im on the subject of moaning?? Id'e best go again BUT ill keep writing when I get the time + ill be home in a couple of months. Love you'zzz all don't worry bout me to much. Theres only 3 things that kill people over hear BULLETS, BOMBS + EGOS so I might go down with a bad case of swollen head!! Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha. Love ya xxxxx


Soldier's letters feature in Eloquent war memorial


Soldier arrested for speaking out against the Afghan war

Generals are free to speak to the media to defend sending soldiers to war but when a soldier speaks out he faces ten years in prison.

0 Replies
Reply Sat 19 Dec, 2009 09:12 pm

Go Rage


At last, a glimmer of hope that the British public still have a mind of their own.
Reply Sat 19 Dec, 2009 09:25 pm
At last, a glimmer of hope that the British public still have a mind of their own.


G'day there, Endy.
Are you a sight for sore eyes, or what?
How lovely to see you. Very Happy
Reply Mon 21 Dec, 2009 12:18 am

hi Olga

good to see you here. i have been struggling to get my head around continuing with this thread, but well... here i am and guess what?

UK Christmas no 1 ------
Reply Mon 21 Dec, 2009 12:20 am
Rage Against the Machine are UK number 1 for Christmas

500,000 copies of Killing In the Name sold in a week.

It's truly hilarious to see how the newspapers (including the guardian) are playing this down.
Poor young X factor winner has life ruined by mean old fuckers. Ha haa hhha .(God help us)

I've heard that BBC Radio 2 has refused to play RATM " they will play the X factor track. This despite RATM giving all their share of the loot to the charity Shelter.

Oh, and I also heard that RATM are going to do a free gig here in the UK as a thank you.

Ho ho - Merry Christmas
Reply Mon 21 Dec, 2009 12:33 am
"Good on you" is what I say, Endy! Very Happy

Rejecting the crap we/you constantly get forced down our throats as status quo is important, I reckon!

And how else will the machine actually know what real people actually think? Wink
0 Replies
Robert Gentel
Reply Mon 21 Dec, 2009 02:50 am
That story made me happy. Nothing against the X Factor guy, who I know nothing about, but the manufactured pop winning every year is something I can understand people getting mad about, and it's awesome to see grassroots work that well.
0 Replies
Reply Thu 24 Dec, 2009 11:55 am

I think a little faith has been restored

Smile Merry Christmas
0 Replies
Reply Thu 24 Dec, 2009 12:06 pm
The Christmas post below is a sombre note - so please save it for another time if you are into the festivities.

It's mostly for other British folk looking in, but I'm sure all around the world there are children about to have their Christmas day in some similar situation to those children currently in Yarl's Wood, Bedfordshire, England

Where ever you are reading this, what ever you circumstances...


0 Replies
Reply Thu 24 Dec, 2009 12:08 pm
Christmas Post: Santa and The Children of Yarl's Wood

Part One

Some 51 years ago, Paddington Bear arrived on these shores after surviving on marmalade as a stowaway from Darkest Peru and was given sanctuary at 32 Windsor Gardens by Mr and Mrs Brown, two paragons of traditional British hospitality towards foreign minors in need of a decent home.

Now the stray bear, who came to Britain accompanied with a note from his ailing aunt asking that he be looked after, is spearheading a campaign " along with more than 60 children's authors and illustrators " to highlight the Government's continued arrest and detention of hundreds of child asylum-seekers in prison-like conditions.


The policy of keeping hundreds of children in secure conditions at immigration removal centres is the subject of increasing concern among health professionals and campaigning groups amid evidence that minors are suffering long-term harm.


The Royal Colleges of Paediatrics and Child Health, alongside two other professional bodies " General Practitioners and Psychiatrists, and the Faculty of Public Health " last week issued a joint statement condemning the Government's detention policy and calling for it to end "without delay".

In October, NHS paediatricians and psychologists reported in the international peer-reviewed journal, Child Abuse & Neglect, that children locked up at Yarl's Wood were "clearly vulnerable, marginalised, and at risk of mental and physical harm as a result of state-sanctioned neglect".

The doctors recorded children's "sexualised behaviour" and older children's tendency to wet their beds and soil themselves, citing the "increased fear due to being suddenly placed in a facility resembling a prison" and the "abrupt loss of home, school, friends and all that was familiar to them".

Nearly 100 MPs have also signed a parliamentary motion put forward by the Labour MP Chris Mullin urging the Government to stop detaining children.

The petition to Mr Brown reads: "As writers and illustrators of books for children, we urge you to stop detaining children whose families have sought asylum in the UK. These children have already had their worlds torn apart and witnessed their parents in turmoil and in stress. No wonder that paediatricians and psychologists report that child detainees are confused, fearful, unable to sleep, suffer headaches, tummy pains and weight loss and exhibit severe emotional and behavioural problems."

The document adds: "The UK Border Agency says that 'treating children with care and compassion is a priority', but it continues with the policy of child detention which has been shown to harm children. The Government must end child detention, now."


The letter is accompanied by a special message written in the words of Paddington Bear.
It said: "Whenever I hear about children from foreign countries being put into detention centres, I think how lucky I am to be living at number 32 Windsor Gardens with such nice people as Mr and Mrs Brown.
Mrs Bird, who looks after the Browns, says if she had her way she would set the children free and lock up a few politicians in their place to see how they liked it!"


(Michael Bond and Paddington Bear)


Two Anglican priests, one of them dressed as Father Christmas, were this month barred from entering the Yarl's Wood detention centre in Bedfordshire to deliver £300-worth of presents to children which had been donated by several London churches.

~ Extracts from Stop abusing child refugees (says illegal immigrant from Darkest Peru)

Paddington creator and other authors and actors send letter to Downing Street
By Robert Verkai Monday, 14 December 200 9 ~

Part Two

Yarl's Wood immigration removal centre is not exactly easy to reach. Our taxi from Bedford station drives through the village of Clapham, with its 11th-century church and ancient yews, then out again through fields. Suddenly, we see low-lying buildings like those on a modern industrial estate. A lone man walks purposefully with a dog. From inside a glass-paned office, a man waves us through the boom gates. His uniform could be that of a security guard in any official establishment.


We step into the visitors' centre under a sign that reads: "Serco bringing service to life." Karin has brought rolls of drawing paper, as well as original paintings from our picture book Baba's Gift. We've had to specify in advance every item that we wish to bring. Apart from books to give to the children and library, our list includes a little wooden elephant and hippo, a finger-puppet hare, a small mbira (thumb piano) and an oyster shell.

As we walk along an empty corridor, I scribble down words from a notice: "Yarl's Wood IRC is committed to promoting and celebrating racial equality and diversity." We are searched in a claustrophobic little room, with two women guards, then a door is unlocked and I step into a huge visitors' waiting room with comfy seats and children's toys, overseen by a single guard. By the time Karin has been processed, we've lost a third of our workshop time.

Five locked doors and corridors decorated with murals lead to Crane section for families " mainly mothers with children. We are introduced to the primary teacher. The young lady smiles and we shake hands, but my brain takes time to connect. She is wearing the Serco uniform, with keys attached to her waist. A guard-cum-teacher or a teacher-cum-guard?


I sense a generosity from the older students. How easy it would be for them to dismiss our workshop as something for little kids.

Introducing Baba's Gift, about two children's first trip to the seaside in South Africa, I recount how I wrote the story with my daughter, Maya. I slip in that many years ago I came to Britain seeking refuge. I tell them how Maya had wanted to set a story in the place where her father grew up, but from which we'd been cut off for many years. Karin interweaves my reading by showing her artwork close up, drawing in the teens. They are intrigued.

The children begin to open out. I retell a traditional African story from my collection, The Great Tug of War, about the little hare, Mmutla, who must use his wits against the powerful, bossier animals. Karin draws the animal characters as I act out how Mmutla tricks the elephant, Ttlou, and the hippo, Kubu, into a tug of war with each other. Beneath these age-old stories is the message about resilience that enslaved Africans carried to America and kept alive through Brer Rabbit. In identifying with the little hare, I hope the children may gain their own strength.

Our workshop has to finish before Karin has time to get everyone drawing, but she leaves a painting of Mmutla tugging a rope. It stretches across a long roll of paper, and the teachers say they will give the children a chance to draw in their own players for this new tug of war.

Karin asks the two small boys from Albania to help hold up the paper. They have avoided eye contact and been terribly quiet. If for a brief moment we might have almost forgotten where we are, these young siblings most visibly remind us that here are children undergoing a deeply traumatising experience.

The government has signed up to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, yet its policy runs completely counter to the spirit of the convention. It pays Serco to "normalise" the imprisonment of children " something morally abhorrent that should never be considered normal.

Moral issue

That is why almost 70 writers and illustrators for young people have this week signed an open letter to Gordon Brown, supporting the End Child Detention Now campaign. It follows a joint report by the Royal Colleges of General Practitioners, Paediatrics and Child Health, and Psychiatrists, and the UK Faculty of Public Health, warning that detaining children in immigration centres puts them at risk of mental health problems, self-harm and suicide, and demanding an end to the practice. This is a cross-party moral issue in which we should ask every MP to stand up to the rising tide of anti-immigrant xenophobia and support Chris Mullin MP's parliamentary motion to stop detaining children.

After leaving Yarl's Wood, we meet someone who knows it well, and who says the atmosphere inside has been subdued. Last week, she tells us, a woman was deported, naked. It was her final protest.

What else have these young people " who have struck us as so delightful and thoughtful " witnessed in their uprooted lives? Have we no shame?

~Extracts from:

Inside Yarl's Wood immigration centre

by Beverley Naidoo ~

0 Replies

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