Category Archives: Ethics and values

On Trump endorsing torture

Human rights is not my field but we have to speak up against Trump’s personal endorsement of it. This is nothing new, the US has used it all the time.

But isn’t it tragic that almost 70 years after torture was prohibited in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, we see 141 countries still using torture – according to Amnesty International.

Here my short comment on Iran’s PressTV

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Faces of Aleppo

Fourth photo story from Aleppo: “Faces of Aleppo. Just out of 4,5 years of occupation hell”

January 25, 2017

Unique photos from Eastern Aleppo in Syria when it was finally liberated on December 11-12, 2016.

The people you see here have just come out to freedom from 4,5 years of the occupation by what can be called RIOTs – Rebels-Insurgents-Opposition-Terrorists – mostly the latter.

And most of them with some kind of support by NATO countries.

Western media, politics and humanitarian organisations focus on the victims from Eastern Aleppo who left to RIOT territories elsewhere, such as Idlib, after the liberation – family members and supporters of the occupiers.

That’s not the whole truth about Aleppo.

They conveniently ignore the thousands of other Aleppians: Those who were happy beyond words to see all of Aleppo back under the control of the Syrian government.

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Man from Eastern Aleppo in the Jibrin Reception Center – relieved, smoking and getting a little food. In freedom © Jan Oberg 2016 

These are the people in this photo story. They are among the 13 million Syrians who, according to the UN in Syria, are in need of humanitarian assistance – thanks to U.S. – non-UN – sanctions since 1979 and thanks to the war since 2011.

They too need and deserve the world’s attention and help.All of them and not just the politically chosen few.

Until the immense historical significance of the liberation of Aleppo is understood much better by many more and the biased Western media coverage has changed we will continue to highlight important but hidden dimensions of the conflicts in Syria.

Because peace will be impossible within the present dominant Western narrative and discourse.

And given the incomprehensible suffering of the Syrian people and the destruction of their society since 2011 possibilities for peace – rather than war – should occupy anyone with a human heart.

If you agree, please use the hashtag: #keepfocusonaleppo

* * *

If we do not care about the single individual, can we care about humanity?

My other stories have had quite a lot of texts. You may check them out to get the background and situation.

Here I just want you to see and reflect on how the Allepians I met expressed happiness, despair, hope, kindness but also anger at one and the same time. Pictures can say much more than words, particularly when we contemplate mindfully on what there is to see in every and each face of these victims of what is often called high politics – which often implies low morality.

So, please don’t rush. See and empathize.

© Jan Oberg 2017. Under no circumstance may the photos in this series be reprinted, reproduced or otherwise used without my prior consent.

 

MS – Markedsført Sandhed og Syrien? Med tillæg om en god dialog

Introduktion tilføjet den 7. februar 2017

Som det fremgår i en kommentar under denne artikel blev både MS’ forkvinde, Helle Munk Ravnborg og generalsekretær, Tim Whyte, kede af min udlægning omkring MS “markedsføring” og holdning til Syrien. Naturligt nok.

Mit indlæg var skarpt formuleret – der skal af og til sparkes i løgsovsen også for den gode sag som MS i sig selv jo er. Men de valgte alligevel til min store glæde at invitere mig til en snak.

Det møde havde vi så i dag den 7. februar over deres kaffe og min medbragte mazarintærte.

Jeg indledte med at undskylde at der i min artikel (som står herunder som den blev skrevet) findes et par formuleringer, der kunne tolkes af de to som et personangreb; det var ikke tilsigtet og jeg mener jo som alle andre fornuftige mennesker – oh, Gandhi! – at man skal gå efter bolden og ikke spilleren.

Vi havde 90 minutters sober snak og gensidig lytten, udforskning af vigtige temaer. Man kan sige at min konfrontation ledte til dialog og endog nogle konstruktive idéer til fremtiden.

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Jeg lærte at det er svært at balancere når man – de såvel som jeg – bliver vred over den lidelse vi ser uskyldige udsættes for. Og at man let kommer til at tage parti i kampens hede for den ene eller den anden part i stedet for måske at tage afstand fra alles vold.

At det kan være svært at have alle fakta på plads (og at vide hvad der er empirisk holdbart og hvad der er fordrejning) inden man tager stilling og mobiliserer opinion. Aktivisme går jo gerne gå lidt hurtigere end det dér 5-10 årige forskningsprojekt.

At MS ikke – som jeg havde fået indtrykket af – har et markedførings-firma, der hjælper dem med den stil, de har på hjemmesiden, på blogger og i taler; det er deres egne folks måde at gøre det på.

At de er dybt bekymrede over at mennesker føler så stor magtesløshed og at det vigtigt at organisationer som MS forsøger at skabe møder, pladser og forløb hvor denne magtesløshed – der er så farlig for demokratiet – kan erstattes af fællesskaber og konstruktiv aktivitet.

Og at MS så at sige arbejder med sig selv og har en løbende intern debat om både form og indhold i kampagner.

Jeg følte både åbenhed og respekt og det er jeg glad for.

Derfor delte jeg også lidt af min erfaring med hensyn til hvordan man kan analysere de underliggende konflikter, som volden er symptomer. Jeg mener at symptom-diskussioner let leder til golde debatter om skyld. Det ville være bedre at fokusere mere på konflikternes karakter over tid end på “hvem der er værst” til at bruge vold – fordi symptom- og skylddiskussioner ikke kan lede frem til dialoger om fredens muligheder.

Og at det er freden, der er MS’ historie eller essens og ligger både Tim Whyte og Helle Munch Ravnborg varmt om hjertet – ja det er der jo ingen tvivl om.

Jeg foreslog så nogle konkrete ting som jeg mener MS måske kunne tænke over og måske gøre fremover og at det er vigtigt at være for nogen eller noget snarere end at være imod – og de blev opfattet med stor interesse.

Så meget at vi blev enige om at mødes igen når jeg er hjemme fra næste rejse til Syrien.

Dét ser jeg meget frem til. Så tak for idag, kære venner.

• • •

Mellemfolkeligt Samvirkes nye stil og måden at håndtere Syrien på bør blive en parentes i organisationens liv. For der må være tale om enten uvidenhed eller uhæderlighed.

Mellemfolkeligt Samvirke er slået ind på den amerikansk inspirerede linje med professionel markedsføring, reklamesprog og iscenesat aktivisme samt – og ikke mindst – en bestemt politisk holdning vedrørende visse internationale spørgsmål.

 

Den nye humanitære industri

Det er muligvis en del af den nye humanitære industri hvor regeringer, humanitære og menneskerettigheds-organisationer samt medier gør fælles sag vedrørende krigszoner. Det indebærer selvsagt at “N” i NGO, Non-Governmental Organisations, kommer til at stå for “Near” og ikke “Non.”

Civilsamfundet tenderer at udhules og demokratisk dialog mellem folk og regering forsvinder. Langsomt men sikkert.

Organisationer som Læger Uden Grænser og Human Rights Watch påtager sig roller som både partiske medier i felt og politiske eksperter og gør det politisk korrekt i forhold til især vestlige militære interventioner.

Det er altsammen affødt af den kendte men tvivlsomme doktrin om humanitær intervention eller Responsibility to Protect (R2P) – hvor spørgsmålet i en begrænset verden er: Intervention hvor? Mod eller med hvem? Af hvem? Vil vi gøre mere skade end gavn? Og hvor gider vi ikke intervenere?

Svaret på det sidste er: dér hvor største menneskelig behov findes og hvor der samtidig ikke findes strategiske interesser eller mulighed for at bruge våben.

I dagens verden flyver de fleste landes humanisme F16. Også det officielle Danmarks. Ren humanisme, medmenneskelighed og ægte solidaritet er faldet ud af den politiske værktøjskasse.

 

M for Markedsføring – og USAs valg

Vælger man denne let smarte markedsføring-og-politik strategi i denne nye industri skal man være godt klædt på forinden.

Det findes der, som jeg ser det, to årsager til at MS ikke synes at være. Continue reading

The little girl from Eastern Aleppo

New year’s night, January 1, 2017

This girl had come out of Eastern Aleppo after four dark years of occupation by Western-backed terrorists – too many to name. People who for no reason had destroyed her home, her part of that beautiful city.

Perhaps half of her life living in fear, perhaps having lost family members.

I do not know.

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“The Little Girl From Eastern Aleppo” – © Jan Oberg 2016

I met her on December 14 at the Jibrin reception and registration centre in Western Aleppo where Syrian soldiers and volunteers from Aleppo University had just given her this bread with some vegetables inside.

She was one of thousands, old and young people who had been hit by unspeakable evil, death and destruction.

Victims of the dozens of conflicting parties and their criminal games. Destroying her life, her family, livelihood and her home town.

Of which there is nothing left. Nothing.

It was a rainy gray day. She was in a queue to get this little and she was so very grateful.

So hopeful. A little to eat to begin all over again.

Her standing there, her gesture. And the media tell you that Eastern Aleppo fell, that it wasn’t liberated?

Ask this girl.

Grasp her gratitude for what little most of the world take for granted. And those eyes.

I could not hold back tears in mine when I shot this image. Neither while I returned to process it and now writing this.

I’m a peace researcher and art photographer. The two sides come together in this image.

It’s the most important among thousands of pictures I took in 2016. Perhaps in all my years.

I have no wishes for myself this year. Have everything.

But I have many other wishes.

That this little but formidably strong girl and the thousands of other children and adults of Aleppo will live in some little peace in 2017.

That they will have the strength to return to what is left of their homes, if anything, and rebuild them. Go to a school and play in safety.

That the inhuman international “community” – it is no community – will lift the sanctions on Syria and show their humanity. Sanctions only hit innocents like her.

That she will live forever in security and peace and that she will not carry traumas from her childhood for the rest of her life.

That she will be able to, eventually, forgive the satanic forces who did this to an innocent child.

And that I may go back in 2017 and find her and ask how I can help her.

That’s the very very least I can do in gratitude for what she has taught me about the utter meaninglessness and cruelty of war.

No I can’t. I can’t wish anybody dead.

But I can express my rage through Bob Dylan. Who, fifty-three years ago, spoke to “The Masters Of War” – and I include the arms traders among them – thus:

And I hope that you die
And your death’ll come soon
I will follow your casket
In the pale afternoon
And I’ll watch while you’re lowered
Down to your deathbed
And I’ll stand over your grave
‘Til I’m sure that you’re dead.

As we move into the new year – 2017

The old years went – in as little a time as it takes to turn around and see who is tapping you on your shoulder. And it is the new, the next year.

I hope it will pass too – in as little time as it takes for me to turn my head and look forward again – because the face of 2017 doesn’t look good or kind to me.

Neither do the next ten or so years.

Beyond that the world will become a better place. If, that is, if we survive and don’t destroy it all.

It is actually already becoming a better place!

The thing that has too pass – or pass away – is the United States Empire.

In a few years it will go the way Rome and all the rest plus the Ottoman, British and Soviet empires did. No empire lasts forever.

But before we go for it – a video from Beirut, December 2016:

 

Some indicators of Empire dissolution

The indicators, the cracks, in the Empire are there for all to see – the Americans and other Westernes will be the last and remain in denial for some time until the discrepancy between the self-image and the reality, the self-delusion, has grown too big. Like East Germany or Russia at in the early 1980s.

The rest of the world, the non-West sees some of these cracks quite clearly: Continue reading

Thanks for the friends’ and followers’ boom

During the last two weeks I have received almost 800 friend requests on Facebook and about 1000 new followers. It’s overwhelming and warms my heart beyond words.

Many many thanks for your trust and support – and for not only thinking it but taking time to tell it.

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I can only assume that it is all because of my visit to Damascus and Aleppo. Literally thousands have thanked me for my short texts and photos from there – and for taking the risk going there.

Lots of people go to difficult places, be they humanitarian workers, journalists, photographers, UN people, other diplomats or civil society organisations. But – regrettably, I would say – it is not often I’ve met other researchers in war zones.

Those of us who go, go because we feel we have a duty, because we are curious and must see for ourselves and because a visit opens doors to people, to the suffering and to natural human solidarity.

Media focus on all those with weapons in their hands – the warlords. I’ve always felt enriched and grateful to all the others one can meet, wonderful people who stand up and stand together, struggle, help their neighbours – and survive the other main type of people present, the murderers who get all the fame.

I’m no hero. Just that you know. Many (more) could do what I do.

But back to the social media boom, I’ve just experienced. Continue reading

Udefinerede menneskelig fejl da danske F-16 var med til at dræbe snesevis af syriske soldater. Ikke andet?

Den 29. november fortæller Danmarks Radio på sin hjemmeside at det var et antal sammenfaldende og beklagelige menneskelige fejl, der forårsagede at danske F-16 fly i september var medvirkende til at dræbe mellem 60 og 80 syriske soldater – eller “mindst 15” som den amerikanske rapport herom angiveligt udtrykker det – og såre over 100.

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Hvilke menneskelige fejl? Hvor? I Danmark, USA eller hvor? 

Hvorfor “mindst 15” dræbte når alle kilder angiver højere tal? Eller hvorfor ikke “mindst 1”? 

Hvorfor i en periode med våbenhvile?

Hvem bærer det endelige ansvar i Danmark og i USA?

Har man bedt nogen om undskyldning for drabet på så mange?

Véd russerne virkeligt bedre end amerikanerne hvor amerikanerne bomber?

Denne pressekonference forekommer mig at være en klokkeren snakken-udenom.

Danmarks Radios – og Ritzau – gengiver kun de officielle forklaringer fra dansk og amerikansk forsvar, der altså har forårsaget disse omfattende drabstal.

Ingen research. Ingen placering af begivenheden i den militærtaktiske og strategiske ramme dér og da. Ingen spørgsmål af den type jeg stiller ovenfor. Ingen reference til kilder, der mener noget andet – af hvilke der er nok så mange på nettet.

Ingen tvivl – det var bare sådan et lille uheld som vi skam beklager. Tænk hvilken dækning man havde givet det hvis så mange danske soldater et eller andet sted var blevet pløkket af Ruslands flyvevåben og russernes forsvarsmyndigheder meddelte at det bare var sådan et hændeligt uheld på grund af beklagelige menneskelige fejl.

De gjorde det jo “i god tro”.

DR igen som talerør for den officielt markedsførte fortælling.

Der efterlader en ubehagelig mistanke: Var det måske alligevel ikke en fejltagelse?