Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Hamza al-Kateeb – 13 Years Old and Tortured to Death in Syria

If President Bashar al-Assad's and his security forces are known for anything, it is that they are and always have been, torturing, murdering bastards. In recent weeks however, they have shown the world that, even by their standards, they are psychopathic scum that seem to be totally out of control. They have opened fire on ambulances. They have gunned down unarmed teenagers. They have even shot at children on a school bus. Now they have brutally tortured to death a 13 year-old boy, Hamza al-Kateeb.

Hamza al-Kateeb loved when the rain filled farmer's irrigation channels enough for him and his friends to swim in. He raised homing pigeons. And though not from a wealthy family himself, he was acutely aware that there were others less fortunate than him. He would often ask his parents for money to give to the poor.

However, in the hands of President Bashar al-Assad's security forces, in this case the thugs of Airforce Intelligence, Hamza found no such compassion, his humanity degraded to nothing more than a lump of flesh to beat, burn, torture and defile, until the screaming stopped and his young life ended.

Hamza was arrested during a protest in Saida, 10km east of Daraa, On April 29. That day was dubbed "The Friday of Ending the siege on Deraa", the border city where the torture of children had lit the spark for the Syrian uprising and where Maher al-Assad's forces lead the assault on a civilian population that killed hundreds.

The child had spent nearly a month in the custody of Syrian security, and when they finally returned his corpse to his family on Tuesday 24th May it was horribly disfigured by the scars of unbelievably brutal torture.

Hamza's mutilated, castrated corpse had lacerations, bruises and burns to his feet, elbows, face and knees, consistent with the use of electric shock devices and of being whipped with cable. Both techniques of torture much favoured by Assad's henchmen and well documented by Human Rights Watch as being used in Syrian prisons during the bloody three-month crackdown on protesters.

Hamza's eyes were swollen and black and there were identical bullet wounds where he had apparently been shot through both arms, the bullets tearing a hole in his sides and lodging in his belly. On Hamza's chest was a deep, dark burn mark. His neck was broken and his penis cut off.

Make no bones about it; I want you to see what that murdering bastard al-Assad is doing in Syria. I want you to imagine the suffering of this innocent child so that scum like al-Assad can stay in power. I want you to consider what is happening in Libya and ask why the people of Syria  are not being offered the same protection. I want you to consider why the world allows such fucking scum as al-Assad and his sick bastard lackeys to live.  


Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Shame by Association Is a Fallacy.

Billy and Tim are sectarian bigots. Billy and Tim are Scottish. Therefore, all Scottish people are sectarian bigots. The fact that the people involved in the attacks on Neil Lennon are Scottish is as much an irrelevance as is the colour of their hair. The idea that the actions of an individual should result in the collective guilt and “shame” of the many is an “Association Fallacy”. It is one that nobody should agree with. And its time for the vast majority of people in Scotland to reject this argument.

Background: A series of threats has been made over time to Neil Lennon the manager of Celtic Football Club, some players and three prominent fans. These have taken the form of bombs and ammunition being sent through the post. These parcels have been posted from Scotland and Northern Ireland. It is generally accepted that this campaign is motivated by religiously motivated sectarianism. Lennon was also attacked by a spectator during a game against Hearts at Tynecastle. In some quarters this has been deemed to have brought shame on the country as a whole.

Celtic chief executive Peter Lawwell has said that the attacks, threats and intimidation directed at his club is “Scotland’s shame and its high time Scotland addressed it.”
(For those, and without doubt that’s the majority who live and breath on this planet, “Scotland’s shame” is the much loved accusation levelled by Rangers and Celtic fans against each other in their endless battle to secure the moral high ground. The use of the phrase by Lawwell should therefore be seen as calculated.)

Lawwell is not alone in the opinion that these incidents should be seen as shaming an entire nation. The question asked on BBC Scotland’s phone-in programme “Call Kaye” the morning after the Tynecastle attack was, “Are you embarrassed to be Scottish?” The usual suspect package of football writers and pundits turned historians and social commentators, “look at me” journalists and politicians with season tickets for the band wagon have been unable to order a pie and Bovril in the last few days without telling the rest of us that it is somehow our fault. And no one has made this clearer than the former Secretary of State for Scotland Jim Murphy who wrote, “There are too many sectarian morons in Scottish football, but it is part of a dark underbelly that shames Scotland.”

This is based in the belief that we, including Lawwell, Murphy, et al, are somehow accountable for the actions of other individuals by association. In this case, the entire population of a country is held responsible for no other reason than that they are the population of that country.

Collective guilt, or guilt by association, is an idea that has roots in the Old Testament in such stories as “The Food”, “The Tower of Babel”, and “Sodom and Gomorrah”. However, it is an idea that most advanced systems of criminal law dismiss in favour of the principle that guilt is personal. That is the position in Scotland.

For any group to feel collective shame there must be an acceptance of collective responsibility and guilt. As such, in this case, it can only belong to a sectarian ingroup. It is doubtful, though not inconceivable, that any individual within this ingroup will view the actions as unjustifiable. However, no one outwith that ingroup can in anyway be held accountable for their actions.

Murphy’s assertion that the ingroup is the entire nation and that we collectively give approval to sectarianism is a sweeping generalisation to say the least. It may come as a surprise to Glasgow-centric commentators but, the vast majority of people in Scotland live in communities where sectarianism is not an issue. In fact for many, religion is an irrational irrelevance in their lives. There are lawmakers, law enforcers and courts to punish lawbreakers. That is how it works in a democracy. And it works that way to allow decent people to get on with their lives without having those lives sidelined by the actions of some religiously motivated retards. They quite rightly refuse to be dragged into the cesspool of intolerance that is the result of ignorance and superstition.

Sharing a social, cultural and national identity with other individuals is so inclusive that it is unreasonable to consider it in terms of an “ingroup”. Holding all Jews responsible for the death of Christ, all Germans for the actions of the Nazis, all Roman Catholic priests for a child abusing minority or all Muslims for the actions of extremists are a few examples of this. It is not difficult to see that such arguments are not only irrational but also irresponsible. Indeed, in recent times, we have been told, ad infinitum, not blame Islam for the actions of a few. No talk of a “dark underbelly” there.

There may be those in Scotland who do feel shame for some misguided reason. However, I have in the last week, taken a seriously unscientific vox-pop survey and found no one who agrees with the “Shame on Scotland” team. When asked “Do you feel ashamed by the actions of these people?” the answers were unequivocally “No. Why should I?” One other thing that they also made clear was that they found the idea that they should be held responsible to be ridiculous and offensive.

As distasteful as the attacks on Neil Lennon are, the responsibility, guilt and any shame lies with those who carried them out. No one else. And certainly not an entire nation.

And it is time the majority made this clear.