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ISSUE 71 AUTUMN 2015 Full pdf


Peace Matters Index

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ONLINE contents
Selection from paper publication

- assassination inc uk
- believe it or not
- sinister forces at work
- keir hardie centenary
- writing for peace
- women making peace
- migration, climate and security
- we can stop wounding the world


REYAAD KHAN was over the moon when he met shadow chancellor Ed Balls, he wanted to be Britain’s first Asian prime minister. Now he is dead, blown to pieces in Syria by the authority of the current prime minister. We do not know the steps on the journey that took Reyaad from wanting to be a prime minister to urging British Muslims to join insurgents in Syria. But we can speculate. He could, and this is probably the dominant view, have been ‘radicalised’ - a term popular with media commentators and politicians though quite what it means and how it operates is not clear. It is a key word in the terror lexicon signifying everything and explaining nothing. Equally he could just have been a normal young man awash with hormones. In a social and political climate where violence, especially when allied with a ‘cause’, is acceptable and often commended, his action should not come as a total surprise. Think Remembrance Sunday. Think the Spanish Civil War. Seeing fellow Muslims under attack can seem to offer a more or less rational reason to join a romantic and exciting fight for ‘justice’. Perhaps Reyaad’s wish to be prime minister was not that far from where he ended up.
Grim reaper

To be sure there are problems posed by young men and now a few women going to take some part in war zones but it is hard not to suspect that these are being exaggerated and misinterpreted for less than honourable reasons. The back story to the announcement of Reyaad’s assassination, never mind the assassination itself, is surely evidence of this, if any is needed. tinyurl.com/ofyzvss.

‘In an act of self-defence, said David Cameron, ‘and after meticulous planning Reyaad Khan was killed in a precision airstrike carried out on 21 August by an RAF remotely piloted aircraft while he was travelling in a vehicle in the area of Raqqah in Syria.’ Parliamentary prohibition against military UK action in Syria seems to be no barrier to ‘secret’ military action in Syria. Nor, it appears, is there any interdiction to, let’s call it politely, extra judicial assassination which is surprising. Just a few weeks ago, whilst visiting Bangladesh, the International Development

Minister Desmond Swayne said ‘Extrajudicial killings cannot be tolerated in a democratic country like Bangladesh’, stressing that all incidents regarding recent extrajudicial killings there ‘should be investigated and the perpetrators should be brought to justice’. Is Bangladesh being held to a higher standard than Britain? Should David Cameron be worried and did his former Foreign Secretary William Hague not warn him that ‘.. We don’t approve of extra-judicial killing’. Or are these the weasel words of politicians the world over?: they may not approve but hell, if they can they will.

Binyamin Netanyahu’s recent flying visit to London to fix some deals, particularly on cyber security cooperation (surveillance to the rest of us), must have been a mixed blessing. Shaking hands with a man whose state pioneered technological assassination and for whom there are calls for his arrest for war crimes should give pause for thought. It’s tough at the top.

A few miles south of Lincoln, whose cathedral is home to one of a growing number of memorials to Bomber Command, is RAF Waddington. Motto ‘For Faith and Freedom’. The base is so proud of its heritage that it has a visitors’ heritage centre to show it off but its website is silent on its role as home for Her Majesty’s official assassins, for it is from RAF Waddington that the Reaper drone was piloted and fired its missile at two British citizens in Syria. It was previously the home of Britain’s hugely expensive and totally useless Vulcan bombers.


Jan Melichar

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