Sunday, 25 November: On the third day, he was still weak but we went to the wonderful Museo Larco. At night we caught the plane home. We should have gone to Cusco, then Machu Picchu. Cynthia and Jemma went with Dilwyn who is an experienced guide.
I took Gareth Peirce’s book, “Dispatches from the Dark Side”, to read on the trip. I’d had the book waiting for six months because I needed a block of time to read it and because I knew it would upset me. The problem of climate change has taken priority over my previous focus on human rights and I needed to catch up. I wanted to know what had happened to those men who had been arbitrarily arrested and locked up for four years in Belmarsh by Blair, never having been told what crime they were supposed to have committed; the law of habeus corpus is that, once arrested, a person must be charged and brought before a court.
I knew Gareth would know what had happened to them after the Law Lords ruled that their internment was illegal: some were re-arrested and are still in prison or under extreme bail restrictions. One who went mad is in a prison psychiatric ward, some were sent back to their country of origin (even though they are British citizens) where they were tortured. There are now more detainees who have been arrested without charge.
Throughout this repugnant travesty of justice the UK has broken the most serious prohibitions of the Geneva Convention and the UN Declaration of Human Rights. One reason I support our connection to the EU is because the European Court completely challenges the human rights abuses in our country.
In UK prisons today there are many men and some women who have no idea why they are there. They are said to be “linked to terrorism, linked to extremism and/or radical ideology”. In these cases the evidence can be something found on a defendant’s computer – even be an email sent by somebody else.
The most touching story of why someone was kidnapped and imprisoned with the knowledge of British officials – and sent to Guantanamo – is that of Moazzam Begg. His father joined a charity building wells and schools and to provide food for widows and orphans in Afghanistan. He donated one of the wells on behalf of his son whose name, Moazzam Begg, was inscribed on the well.
The book is full of institutional illegality, e.g. removing evidence from the site of the Lockerbie bombing – the case a totally collapsed shambles.
But I will stop at this point to mention two terrifying facts: court sentences in the US are so inhumane that 97% of the accused plead guilty; there are now 40,000 prisoners in “Supermax” jails where the prisoner is interred in a concrete cell, the bed is concrete and fused to the wall, there is a 10cm square window which shows only the sky, meals come through a hatch: he is in total isolation without human contact; he may be there indefinitely. I don’t know, I’ll have to check in the book, but I think maybe (perhaps most) of these prisoners are deemed to be terrorists. The very name “Supermax” has a propaganda effect for US citizens: We’re the big guys blasting the aliens! Criminologists now think that as a nation the US now celebrates and demands official cruelty and the infliction of pain in its criminal justice system – a “rage to punish”.
This is an example of “pragmatism”: it doesn’t matter who the victim is so long as he is punished; the more severe the punishment, the more successful the system.
Gareth’s case against the prevailing institutional illegality begins with history: Historically, the rights of the individual have been very hard fought for and won. After the Civil War, the first act of the Long Parliament in 1642 was to set free John Lilburne and to abolish the secret court of the Star Chamber which had imprisoned him on the basis of secret evidence. They adopted a resolution that Lilburne’s sentence was “illegal and against the liberty of the subject, and also bloody, cruel, wicked, barbarous and tyrannical”. (He had been tortured, including being held in stress positions and gagged for three years.)
This is how I sum up her argument:
- In a democracy, the unalienable rights of the individual are protected by law. Everyone has the right to a fair trial.
- “Inalienable” rights means that nothing can supersede or overrule these rights. The state cannot take priority over them. Claims of national security are not an excuse to abolish them.
- Once politics replaces justice, then tyranny replaces democracy.
Gareth makes the point that law is simple: it mirrors people’s repugnance to cruelty, their decency and humanity. But, because England is the least transparent of all the so-called democratic countries and the cleverest in putting up barriers to keep the public ignorant, they thereby prevent them from those just feelings of repugnance. This is politically the most convenient way to control the public.
Naming the “War on Terror” creates the facts – escalates the violence, the persecution and the paranoia, suppresses the public’s natural sense of justice, leads to countless arrests with or without convictions – under the excuse of “national security”.
Once we realize what’s going on, what do we do about it? What do I do about it? This was worrying me all the time I was in Peru. And I am so shocked by the acceleration and scale of institutionalized illegality since 9/11. Everything we do should aim to affect public opinion; change only happens when public opinion is mobilized.
I must concentrate on the Climate Revolution. We have to win by 2020, the next Olympics. Yet we have to re-establish the rule of law; it will preserve us. (And of course we’re trying to help the victims.)
Let’s begin by calling our elected representatives (not all of them but certainly the most powerful) by their real name: We are being governed by psychopaths.
Most people are not psychically constructed to dream up or tolerate the idea of “Supermax” prisons. Think of Tony Blair – Desmond Tutu is right to call him a war criminal. But I wouldn’t dream of putting Blair in one; I wouldn’t put Hitler in one. Just as I wouldn’t dream of blowing 800 feet off the top of a mountain to get coal and not care that people got cancer from it.
My idea of a psychopath is someone who is out of touch with reality. The CIA is full of them. I first realized this in the 70’s when I read the book on Watergate. These privileged kids were recruited from top universities by the CIA and given assignments like getting poisoned boot polish to Castro. They had probably been steeped in US isolationist propaganda (Oliver Stone tells how when he was a kid his father taught him that he was in constant danger of being attacked by Communists.) The kid who has never faced reality lives in a fantasy and his task is then to impose his fantasy on reality – on the world. We see that plots that are forever being presented to us are needed to impose and fulfil the fantasy, that victims who it is claimed are connected to terrorism are likewise needed.
How much should I talk about this? I think if the fact that the Twin Towers was a demolition was brought out into the open you could rally public opinion against powers that kill, destroy and persecute. I have been thinking about how this could be done and indeed if it would make a difference. Is it too much for people to cope with when my most important problem is to build the Climate Revolution? They would turn away.
I asked Andreas who says there is so much good in the world and the good will win. OK! So join the Revolution? Let’s try.
Monday, 26 November – Saturday, 1 December: Got home from Peru Monday night.
Tuesday, Wednesday, at home worrying and jetlagged. Couldn’t do anything. Certainly you must suffer to travel. Obviously, if you stay long enough the ratio of experience to suffering is better. Andreas says, “I feel very privileged to have met the people of the Ashaninka, people whose values are different from our own. I think in 10 years’ time it will be different.” I, too, am glad.
Thursday-Friday – Went to work but did not manage to work much on the collection. Too many daily bits and pieces to catch up with.
Friday evening – I go to the cinema less than once a year but the films of Michael Haneke have made a big impression on Andreas and we went to see the latest, “Amour”. “Impression” is the right word; it has been impressed on my memory step by step. The way it was done, the selection of detail and which bits of a lifetime’s experience and impressions to use; by using the external to show the internal. Economy: everything included, nothing not needed. Acting truthful, not sentimental. It is, of course, about an old couple and the end of life.
Saturday – The film last night and yoga brought me back to life. I’m my old cheery self. I have decided to voice my opinions publically about psychotic rulers, not about 9/11 for the moment. I shall keep mentioning it privately to test the waters of opinion.
Muccia Prada asked me to do a window to mark the relaunch of the Cafe Royal (they had a party for three days). Joe Rush did me a Climate Revolution window and Muccia sold a limited edition of our Climate Revolution t-shirts to the total value of £10.000 which she donated to Cool Earth. (If you wish to donate to Cool Earth it’s good to do it now to keep the plan to save the Rainforest driving along).