DAY 150: Brief tour of the world, no comments.

November 3rd, 2015 § 0 comments

Harmondsworth, February 2013.

An 84-year-old man being held at a detention centre died of a heart attack after being shackled for five hours while suffering chest pains, an inquest has heard. Alois Dvorzac, a former electrical engineer, was at Harmondsworth immigration removal centre after being denied entry to the UK during a journey from Canada to his native Slovenia.

An inquest at West London coroner’s court heard that Dvorzac806 was taken for emergency treatment on 10 February 2013 from Harmondsworth to a west London hospital with acute coronary syndrome.

Paramedic Ricardo Ambrosino said the team who met them at Hillingdon hospital’s A&E department was shocked by the handcuffs and chain.

Ambrosino, who treated Dvorzac in the ambulance, said: “The nurse in charge, and there was another nurse there, when they saw him, they were shocked, they were saying: ‘Wow, why is he chained, why is he chained?’ I questioned it as well and I was told it was Home Office procedure. It was unnecessary. He was a frail person. He could barely walk. He was … unwell.”

The senior coroner [at the inquest], Chinyere Inyama, asked Ambrosino if he had been told that the handcuffing procedures were in place because of previous escapes. He replied: “No, I was just told it was Home Office procedure.”

Lesbos, October 24th, report from Merel Graeve

(who first brought the particularly dire situation there to all our attention).

Day 8: My dear reader, just when I think it cannot get any worse than what we’ve seen, it somehow got even worse last night. After putting out an emergency call on Facebook to the volunteer group the previous night, I woke up to hundreds of messages and comments from people wanting to help. I had to ignore a lot of the offers, I cannot coordinate that all alone, and seek out the few organisations who are already established and able to hit the ground running straight away. The best help has come from Calaid, who have straight away put a doctor on the plane to assess the situation the next day. They also brought a lorry full of aid which was delivered to camp Pikpa in the morning containing big tents, clothes and other things.

lesbosLesbos (Tired of miserable tents-and-puddles pictures)

We decided to put up a big tent in moria and set up a distribution point inside of it where people can get things. We filled Nathan’s van with aid and tents. Full of good hope we went off to moria to round up all the volunteers and get the tent set up. When we got out at moria, I noticed a 15 year old Afghan boy all alone, looking so lost and so wet and cold in his red coat. I gave him a hug and he grabbed my shoulders “you are my sister!” He said with the biggest smile on his face. We set the tent up in the rain, in the mud, nearby the queue of waiting families. The situation in the meanwhile has become so desperate for people that they swarm around us asking for help (help we cannot give). We are the only volunteers on the ground so they look to us for answers and help, not being able to do anything is permanently hurting my heart a little more each day. An hysterical woman grabs my arm and drags me to her tent, i open the zip and look inside, on the ground are 5 tiny children who are crying their eyes out, one of the boys has no clothes at all he is just wrapped in a blanket which is soaked not just from the rain, but also his own urine. The clothes were packed in the bottom of the van, so we couldn’t take the things out yet, it had to be done step by step. The father is also missing, Arne takes the woman to see if we can make an announcement to him on the loudspeaker. I stay with the children who are inconsolable. When she comes back the issue isn’t solved in the slightest, but being unable to do anything else we had to get on with setting up the tent, that was also important. When we finished it, the two staff from UNHCR come to ask us for help. (I’ve only ever seen 2 staff on the ground from UNHCR – those two are amazing and do what they can as individuals), but where the hell is all the money? They ask us to help them clean the trash of a few shelters down the road which should be able to house 50 families. We went in through the gate to help but the moment you try to do one thing you get side tracked you get sucked in by the horrors around you and the people who ask you for help. The afghan boy with the red coat tells me he doesn’t know Lesbos-refugees-mainwhere his family is, the police won’t let him through so i bring him a piece of paper to write his name. The moment i take it out of my pocket the paper is completely drenched already. We find some plastic and write it on there. They did not come to the meeting point. For the next few hours he brings me urgent cases to the side. For hours we plee with the police to let through the sick babies, the passed out women, the leg injuries. Sometimes they let us go in, sometimes not. So many people want my help but the majority of the time they don’t speak any English so I don’t even know what it is they need. A girl, no older than 8 falls on her knees in front of me and folds her hands together and in hysterics she says “please help, please help”, I don’t understand what it is, most likely she just wants warmth, dry clothes, shelter, food. She is paining me so much, i pull her back up and and she falls back on her knees again in the mud. A passed out woman is dragged in, babies drenched in their blankets. These are the scenes I see before my eyes like a horror film I cannot switch off.

The rain has been completely torrential and hasn’t stopped for 3 days. Every single person is drenched to the bone, all their clothes, their shoes stuck in the knee-high river of mud. Inside the gates we help the families who are about to register, every single person is shivering and pretty much every single person is in need of medical attention. The woman from UNHCR grabs me, “they are about to open the gates for the next group” I take one look at the gate and see the squashed people pushed up against it, sounds of crying and screaming: I know already exactly what will happen when we open the gate. The riot policelesbos1 removes the bolts and opens it. Hordes of people run in, we make gestures to walk slowly but it’s no use, she pulls me aside to step away from the crowd. But what unfolds in the next few seconds we knew already: people are getting trampled on, piled on top of each other when they all try to push in. She grabs my arm, “we have to pull out the babies!”, we run in and with all my might i tuck at the people stuck at the bottom, it’s no use, I see a child and pull her arms. Then, a strange smell and a quick sensation: teargas. It burns my eyes, my throat, my face, people scream and run away from the gas. I have to let go of the child and run also, it is unbearable. We run behind the bus, the boy with the red coat is waiting for me. “Sister!” He shouts, he takes my hand and we run together, away from the gas. We stop, i bend over and spit. A little girl comes over to me and cries, i pick her up and we sit on a role of fencing wire in the corner. Her family gathers around us, i hug the girl tight, stroke her face and all together we weep for the deep misery that is so unnecessary. After 15 minutes I know I have to go back in to help. I leave them behind.
Inside is utter chaos, many families have been split up. The hordes of people that made it in are trying to shelter beneath the tarpaulin, the police brutality order them around, shouting and using their sticks. Some of the police want to help, some of them are real Nazis. So many children were split from their families, the mums still on the other side. We try to re-unite them by pleeing with the police. “What kind of person leaves their child alone? These people are not human ” one of them says to me over a tiny baby that is all alone. What kind of person uses teargas on children?
For the rest of the night we try to dress the drenched babies that are coming in with the clothes from the van. I’ve never seen such feet and hands, completely white and shrivelled up. Again nothing fits and there are no jackets or shoes. But we try our best. I’ve come to realise you cannot do anything but make the situation for one individual a little better for a very short period. God knows what more they’ll have to endure. I feel such anger also, how out of control is the situation when you have volunteers who have no experience or training working with the UNHCR to try and fight the shitstorm? With a heavy heart we call it a night, we call some last minute ambulances for the sick people: the doctors office closes at 12, so there is no help for anyone after that. A guy jumps in the back of the car and asks for a doctor, his foot is hurting. We drive to kera tape, the syrian camp down the road to see if there are any doctors there. Negative. His pain isn’t enough of an emergency for the hospital, we’re worried if we take him there, they’ll just turn him away and he won’t be able to get back because he’s not registered yet so he cannot take a taxi. The guy from UNHCR gives him 2 blankets, we give him painkillers and drive him back to Moria. With a heavy heart i watch him walk back out into the rain.
I came back home and found hundreds of messages on my ipad and phone, I could only reply to the most urgent. It seems not everybody likes the truth I’m telling: some person has reported 10 of my holiday photos on Facebook as if they contain nudity. (They certainly do not). But my dear reader I thank you for your care, and no matter how little sleep I will keep writing and I know I can trust you to help me spread the truth that the European holocaust of the 21st century is happening again. The only thing I can be grateful for in this situation is that it is supposed to stop raining this afternoon.
I thank you for your support and your donations with which I’ve bought as many tents as the cash machine lets me withdraw each day. At least some families can sleep dry because of your generosity. No pictures today, as my camera got soaked in the rain, but I think I’ve painted an all too vivid picture none the less. Love, peace and hope for the sun to come out again.


It seems incredible that I spent a pleasant and relaxed fortnight there in late August – in what has now become one of the centres of  conflict and repression.

30 Oct  (Mondoweiss)— An eight-month-old Palestinian baby died Friday from tear gas inhalation in Beit Fajjar village south of Bethlehem during clashes in the area, the Palestinian Ministry of Health said. The ministry said in a statement that Ramadan Mohammad Faisal Thawabta died after inhaling tear gas when clashes erupted nearby between Palestinians and Israeli military forces.460_0___10000000_0_0_0_0_0_babysuffocation2015maan Thawabta’s body is being transported to Beit Jala Governmental Hospital. Three Palestinians were injured with 0.22 caliber bullets during clashes in the village, the ministry added . . . The eight-month-old child’s death brings the total number of Palestinians killed this month to nearly 70, at least ten of whom have been children. Sixty-nine Palestinians have been killed from clashes and attacks on Israeli military personnel and civilians, many of which have been disputed. At least nine Israelis have been killed in attacks by Palestinians during the same time period.

And in al-Aida refugee camp, an IDF commander was filmed announcing over a loudspeaker: ‘We will gas you until you die.’ The struggle on the West Bank can, by now, be seen as a popular uprising – but one in which the sides are desperately unequal. Maybe it doesn’t add anything to our argument to throw in the term ‘genocide’; but there’s a whiff of it in the air, with all this tear gas, from Bethlehem to Lesbos to Calais. (OK, no tear gas at Harmondsworth – but at Calais?)


I had an irritable exchange with a friend the other day who quoted (from the Telegraph) the statement that Portugal’s disqualification of the recent election results showed ‘that Europe had crossed the Rubicon’. I appeal to my readers – those who still have a sense of geometrical and/or linguistic accuracy: how can a literal continent (Europe) cross a metaphorical river (the Rubicon) inside itself? Can we believe anything the Telegraph tells us ever again? Supposing we ever did.


Or, better times on Lesbos -and a feeling one often gets (like Sappho) when watching one’s young and beautiful friends in conversation.

φάινεταί μοι κῆνοσ ἴσοσ τηέοισιν
ἔμμεν ὤνερ ὄστισ ἐναντίοσ τοι
ἰζάνει καὶ πλασίον ἀδυ
φωνεύσασ ὐπακούει

καὶ γαλαίσασ ἰμμερόεν τὸ δὴ ᾽μάν
καρδίαν ἐν στήθεσιν ἐπτόασεν,
ὠσ γὰρ εὔιδον βροχέωσ σε, φώνασ
οὐδὲν ἔτ᾽ ἔικει,

ἀλλὰ κάμ μὲν γλῳσσα ϝέαγε, λέπτον
δ᾽ αὔτικα χρῷ πῦρ ὐπαδεδρόμακεν,
ὀππάτεσσι δ᾽ οὐδὲν ορημ᾽,
ἐπιρρόμβεισι δ᾽ ἄκουαι.

ἀ δέ μ᾽ ί᾽δρωσ κακχέεται, τρόμοσ δὲ
παῖσαν ἄγρει χλωροτέρα δὲ ποίασ
ἔμμι, τεθνάκην δ᾽ ὀλιγω ᾽πιδεύϝην
φαίνομαι [ἄλλα].

 Rather flowery translation:


Peer of the gods, the happiest man I seem
Sitting before thee, rapt at thy sight, hearing
Thy soft laughter and they voice most gentle,
Speaking so sweetly.


Then in my bosom my heart wildly flutters,
And, when on thee I gaze never so little,
Bereft am I of all power of utterance,
My tongue is useless.


There rushes at once through my flesh tingling fire,
My eyes are deprived of all power of vision,
My ears hear nothing by sounds of winds roaring,
And all is blackness.


Down courses in streams the sweat of emotion,
A dread trembling o’erwhelms me, paler than I
Than dried grass in autumn, and in my madness
Dead I seem almost.


I don’t think we’ve ever had a track by Paul Robeson, I can’t think why. And here’s a real find – his rendering of ‘O Isis and Osiris’ from ‘The Magic Flute’ Your task this week is to find out how Paul’s (and Mozart’s) preoccupations relate to the other themes dealt with above.




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