Thanks to the locals who are raising awareness of Iran’s Sakineh, the Iranian mother of two condemned for adultery. She has been imprisoned since 2006 ‘for having an illicit relationship’ with two men, according to freesakineh.org/ and there are currently 219,571 signatures calling for her immediate release.
Last Saturday – August 28 – 110 cities around the world rallied and organised events for ‘100 World Cities Against Stoning Action Day’. Byron Bay was also involved through activist Harsha Prabhu and friends.
August 28 coincided with the date Sakineh was informed by authorities that she would be executed. So far there is no word on what has happened. According to www.stopstonningnow. com/wpress/ ‘there has been no news concerning the completion of this death sentence. It seems that the Islamic Republic, while under immense international pressure, wanted to give the impression that it would not bow to world public opinion.’
In her country, the penalties for such actions are horrendous and unjustifiable. Death by stoning violates any and all definitions of human rights, but it still continues throughout parts of the Middle East and Africa.
The countries that participate, according to www.stop-stoning. org are Afghanistan, Iran, Nigeria (about one-third of the 36 states), Pakistan, Sudan, and the United Arab Emirates.
‘Some of these countries have since repealed the law of stoning,’ it says. ‘While the penalty has never been carried out in Nigeria, or by the state in either Pakistan or Iraq, incidents of stoning have been carried out by communities, seemingly encouraged by the existence of the punishment in law.’
In Iran, ‘Rajm’ is an Arabic word that means to stone, and refers to the traditional Islamic Hudud punishment. Hudud punishments are considered to be ‘claims of God,’ and include theft, fornication, consumption of alcohol, and apostasy.
This highlights the barbaric, primitive and dangerous nature of religious fundamentalism.
The website concludes with ‘Culture is not static, but constantly re-created and re-defined by the various interests of groups in positions of power in a society at any given time. There is no excuse for the killing of women. Murder is a brutal violation of the most basic human right – the right to life – and any practice which harms women or impinges upon their agency and autonomy contradicts fundamental rights, such as the right to security; the right to freedom from violence; from inhuman, degrading treatment and punishment; from terror;
the right to choose a marriage partner; and the right to not face discrimination under the law. No‘culture’ has the right to kill and harm women based on their perceptions of morality or honour. The freedom of belief does not mean freedom to kill. Stoning is a brutal example of how culture and religion are being misused to perpetuate violence against women.’
These sentiments are are hard to refute – at least our culture has thankfully progressed past the stone age.
The petition can be signed at http://freesakineh.org/ and more information found at http://stopstonningnow.com/wpress/
Every three years one can look forward to seeing first hand the political elite and their understudies in action. The second and only Byron opportunity was the ‘Meet The Candidates’ night, held at the Byron Community Centre last Thursday.
Justine’s victory was inevitable; her preparation was thorough, her answers of pure polly dreams. She did cop a few heckles, but that’s the price for saying to a crowd of train supporters the state, not federal government are the ones to blame for taking the Trains Off Our Tracks. Similarly, Byron library supporters were told funds for community projects allocated to Council are not bound by conditions, so it’s a local government issue. Well done – crisis diverted. So the people of Byron need a new library? At least it’s better than Kingscliff’s one, Independent Julie Boyd told the gallery. This caused an awkward silence but spurred a new thread of conversation into play – the selling of public assets to build infrastructure. Unfortunately both van Lieshout and Nationals candidate Alan Hunter spoke mostly about themselves and with ignorance on complex issues. Democrats David Robinson didn’t speak much at all. It was sometimes just a little embarrassing, but sort of cute. Grandmas and farmers can run for office, just like lawyers.
The intellectual discourse was thankfully projected to a higher frequency by Independent Stephen Hegedus, who opened with ‘I came here instead to talk about philosophy.’ He offered reasoned and empathetic responses to complex issues which is encouraging in a newcomer. Fellow independents Nic Faulkner, Matt Hartley and Julie Boyd along with Joe Ebono of the Greens also displayed knowledge, wisdom, humour and bluntness in their unelectable cause. It was theatre of the absurd and the ultimate in standup comedy – all for the benefit of 150 physical and 100 virtual (web streaming) souls. That figure represents 0.27 percentage of the 91,881 voters in the seat of Richmond. Democracy inaction?
Richmond is no longer a marginal seat. In 2007, ALP primary votes tallied 43.8 per cent, the Nationals 37 per cent and the Greens 14.9 per cent. Back then there were only four minor party candidates. Except for the Democrats, most were religious and/or right wing – this time we have a much more sophisticated free-thinking group of independents, albeit all similar in ideology.
By comparison, Justine Elliot of the ALP doesn’t say or do much, which is a wise move given that this is a safe seat for her. In 2004, Elliot beat Larry Anthony (Nationals) by a margin of only 301 preferred votes. In 2007 there was a national mood for change and she delivered a swing of over seven per cent to the ALP. It is hard, however, to write a glowing account of her achievements. Failure to deliver a light rail system – despite explicit promises – continues to highlight how underfunded our region is. The federal government just gave Queensland a huge financial boost for rail infrastructure, but Ms Elliot doesn’t seem to have the political clout to make it happen here.
Joan van Lieshout of the Liberals was pushed out of her gig as mayor of Tweed by her council ‘colleagues’ last year. In the bigger pond of national politics it is likely her influence would be even less effective. Since the Libs didn’t run a candidate last election, she may pick up some elderly conservative support. Like the Nationals, her campaign has appeal for those knocking on death’s door, but very little in the way of a youthful or progressive outlook. Considering what the demographics are in Richmond this may be clever politics, which is surprising because she doesn’t appear that bright.
Alan Hunter of the Nationals is a nice chap by all accounts, however like the Liberals he is attached to policies and ideology that offer future generations of this country nothing. Nothing. As with most politicians aligned with conservative parties, he is more progressive than his party in terms of climate change and farming practices.
Joe Ebono of the Greens will no doubt poll comparatively strongly, given that the folks who live in the immediate area are generally engaged in the political process and understand complex geopolitical and social issues. Both Gillard and Abbott don’t want to debate Bob Brown. One can only assume this is because of their concern for losing political ground, which highlights why two parties offering little variation in policy keeps stunting the growth of a nation.
If you don’t capture four per cent of the vote, then the $500 it costs to climb into the political arena is not refunded.
Thank you Nic Faulkner, Stephen Hegedus, Matt Hartley, David Robinson (Democrats) and Julie Boyd. It is those who have little hope of winning who can speak more freely. More importantly, they can highlight and examine issues without party approval or retribution. In other words, they can be more truthful.
As mentioned, Richmond is not likely to change sides in this election. What changes the political sheets in this country is a few thousand swinging voters in marginal seats. It is their often short-sighted and ill-conceived views that both sides of parliament believe they have to flatter. Until that fundamental problem can be addressed, our politicians will continue to lead by opinion poll and govern by focus groups.
A while back I made dinner for myself and friends and unintentionally poisoned the lot of us, albeit only as a ho- meopathic dose. The custard I made as dessert had a list of ingredients that included cornflour, sugar, salt and a few numbers: 102 (Tartrazine) and 110 (Sunset Yellow).
I consulted the The Chemical Maze, a reference book about numbers in food, and it revealed that these are considered potentially harmful to humans. Ingesting these synthetic colours, upon further investigation, not only pointed to a health hazard, but were in fact potentially carcinogenic.
When asked of the health implications, the custard company responded with waffle about its consumer concerns, corporate responsibilities and meeting Australian food standards. Regardless of my unanswered questions, this lesson has taught me that we as consumers are mostly oblivious of being sold poison.
Custard, after all, is just egg, sugar and milk. That’s it. The numbers are there to poison us and to make it yellow.
If you really want yellow custard, tumeric or saffron could be the answer. Why would you add a nasty colour additive when a natural one would suffice? Is it because it’s cheaper to unload excess chemical residue onto the public, rather than use a natural colour?
The supermarket I bought the custard from stocks at least three brands of custard powder, and they all included those same additives.
I now have the Chemical Maze book as an application on my iPhone, which is handy in a supermarket. It would be great to see labelling where the additive – and its effects – are by law designed to stand out on the packet in a huge bold font. Just like a cigarette warning, it would scream at us that we are potentially buying and eating chemical garbage.