Sunday, May 19, 2013

Boats and Bombs

Bure 319 at "First Landing" next door to Vuda Point
After the Road Trip I went back to work in Darwin for most of April, and once again stayed in House 3, but this time I had to do all my own cooking because Lucy had settled into work in Sydney. It was the beginning of the Dry Season so the famous Night Market at Mindil Beach recommenced on Thursday and Sunday evenings, and the outdoor Deckchair Cinema season reopened for the season. This is the best time to be in the Top End so Tour Buses and  backpackers from everywhere flood into town, numerous smaller tour companies that have been in mothballs over the wet season crank up their operations again and the whole town comes alive. One of the best places for dinner is the Sailing Club at Fannie Bay, where the sun sets on the ocean and the Bay itself, deserted during the wet – ie the Cyclone – season, now fills up with scores of lovely yachts. Many of them will be departing with the annual Rally from Darwin to various parts of Indonesia.

Right now I am in Fiji visiting Sapphire for a few days, checking to see what might be needed to be sorted out when I return after my work with MSF in Sudan. It was a relief to find Sapphire in more or less presentable condition with none of the awful mold and dank mustiness that confronted me this time last year in Raiatea. I noticed however that Cyclone Evan had torn the wind instruments off the top of the mast and the aerial for the AM/FM Radio had also been broken – so a couple of extra things to add to the list of Things to Do when  I return in August. In the meantime she will remain in her trench and Bharos will continue to keep an eye on her.

Sorting out Sapphire hasn’t taken up much of my time so Ive read a couple of interesting books, the first being “Mullahs without Mercy” by Geoffrey Robertson QC, “founder and head of the worlds largest human rights practice, in London.” This book focuses on the relations between  human rights and nuclear weapons and in particular on the way these two issues relate to the “secret” nuclear weapons programme in Iran. He recounts in great detail the history of appalling human rights abuses in Iran –  torture and summary execution of prisoners in their thousands in 1988 for example,  – and yet regards Netanyahus view that Iran is planning to nuke Israel as “hysterical” and the declared Israeli plan to make a preemptive strike against Iran as illegal, at least within  the framework of International Law as it now stands. Ironically that threat by Israel would make legal a pre-emptive strike against Israel by Iran! – because Iran doesn’t actually have a nuclear weapon and has never declared that if it had one it plans to use it against Israel. Never-the-less he says  “If ever there was a human rights issue in the world today it is the appalling prospect of Iran with Nuclear Weapons”  The Mullahs who control Iran – and not so much Ahmadinejad – have demonstrated against their own people such utter disregard for fundamental human rights he calls them “without mercy” and no-one should expect them to act any differently if they were to acquire a Bomb.

Roberston argues that the way forward is to see Nuclear weapons as a human rights issue, their use contravening all of the Laws of War and all of the fundamental agreements about human rights and  freedoms, as well as indiscriminately destroying innocent human lives, communities and the environment not just at the time of their use but far into the future as well. He believes they must be declared illegal in anyones hands and acquisition of them, testing or using them should be made a Crime against Humanity.
Its quite shocking to recall that these horrific devices were being tested only  a few years ago in the very waters Ive been sailing in : the French exploded 147 of them in French Polyneisa, and to intimidate protestors, sank the Greenpeace ship Rainbow Warrior in Auckland in 1984 and killed one of her crew.

“Where have all the Protestors gone?” Robertson asks.

This book is required reading – I was going to say “for anyone interested in human rights” but aren’t we all?  Who doesn’t become very interested in human rights when one of our own is infringed upon – whether it be as trivial as having our place in a queue ignored, or as important as having something stolen or being discriminated against because of gender race religion or sexuality?  

I believe the best way to protect your own rights is to stand up for everyone elses.

I'll post again in a few days - I will write about the other book Ive just finished, and the news about my return to Fiji in August, and hopefully have a new baby Pic to share.