The “New Turkey”: Permanent State of Emergency and the Dream of Absolute Power 22:57 Apr 24 0 comments
Buscando la verdad entre las ruinas de Duma 19:16 Apr 24 0 comments
The search for truth in the rubble of Douma 19:13 Apr 24 0 comments
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greece / turkey / cyprus / anti-fascism / non-anarchist press Tuesday April 24, 2018 22:57 byÖnder Kulak and Kansu Yıldırım
After declaring a state of emergency in the country, the decree laws of the government have replaced the law and therefore the constitution (already suspended partially) in Turkey.The main aim of the government since the failed coup attempt is quickly avoiding the cases slowing down or hindering the construction of the new structure of the state. So that merging the security apparatuses and connecting them directly to the ruler has been undertaken. What is expected is to maintain the absolute power of the ruling party and to surpass the threats against accumulation of capital without any economic or political lost.
These aims were almost achieved in 2017 – especially by the referendum in April 2017. That is to say, the referendum in 2010, that annihilated the division of powers, has been sustained and advanced further by the decree laws since July 2016 to the present and the referendum in 2017. Five major themes have emerged as critical issues in the consolidation of the new structure.
1. The government, ever since the beginning of its rule, has begun to try seizing all public organizations or establishing alternative ones when it has not been strong enough to seize. This effort has now entered a new phase. Article 108 of the constitution has been amended after the referendum in April 2017. This amendment has authorized the state auditing board of the presidency (DDK) to undertake “administrative investigations” for all public agencies and institutions and professional organizations that have the status of public agency or institution. As a result of that authorization, the government has announced that the possible independent structure of organizations except the state is not recognized any longer. That is to say, from now on all independent public organizations are under threat.
2. There has always been a tension between the police and the army in Turkey. Most of the underlying reasons have already been eliminated in favour of the government. Definitely, the main reasons were accepted as the relatively autonomous administration and resource management of the army in comparison to the other. In addition to this, the army had been accepted as the protector of the Kemalist ideology. As is mentioned, most of the reasons have already been eliminated, and the remaining ones have been eliminated by the authorization given to the police department to use the vehicles, arms and properties of the military police department in need without any special permission by Article 12 of the decree law numbered 668. Therefore, the police department, always known as loyal to the ruler, has gained more power against the relatively less loyal structures in the past.
3. Within the old structure of the state, every security apparatus had its own intelligence section. The reason was the different needs and the different uses of the information. Beside this, because of the legal and administrative obstacles, investigating individuals and organizations was not easy “enough” to perform for the intelligence services. These all have been changed by Article 62 of the decree law numbered 694. First of all, the national intelligence coordination council (MIKK) was established under the administration of the president. The main tasks of the MIKK have been defined as merging and managing all the intelligence services both inside and outside of Turkey, providing the coordination between the offices, the public agencies and institutions and also monitoring their tasks and responsibilities, and announcing security forces about them if it is needed. What is more, the MIKK has the authority to perform security clearance for any person, agency or institution. This means everyone and every organization might be monitored – with or without any legitimate reasons.
4. There are many active pro-government paramilitary groups in Turkey. After the declaration of state of emergency, many of them began searching for a way to legalize themselves. Despite their unrecognized status among the state institutions, the groups had the direct support of whom they were working for. Moreover, each was benefiting from many official opportunities. They were more like official organizations rather than civil ones. However the groups were still feeling themselves uncomfortable because of the unofficial recognition of their position in the state. Then the state, under the decree law published with the number 696 on 24th of December 2017, has finally recognized the official status of the paramilitary organizations that were already responsible for many dirty jobs such as using violence against the peaceful opposition.
5. The government has undertaken the revision of the election system in February 2018 by the amendment of many articles in the constitution. Many groups in the opposition describe the revision as the annihilation of the elections due to legitimating some of the anomalies in a possible fair election. One of them is the repeal of the article that the voting envelopes and papers have to be signed and approved officially. The opposition claims that this amendment makes possible to use fake voting envelopes and papers in the upcoming elections. In addition to that amendment, security forces have gained the right to remove everyone in the polling stations if it is needed. It is well known that security forces are mostly supporting the government. Who could claim the privacy of the voting polls any longer by this amendment?
Another amendment is the repeal of the article that makes compulsory for an individual to use voting IDs with the other individuals living in the same location and therefore being on the same voting list. The consistency between the locations and the voting lists was accepted as a measure to prevent giving vote by fake identities. But now the Article is no longer available. However that is not all. Furthermore, the assignment of the chairman of the board of polling stations has been taken over by the government. It is an amendment clearly against the neutrality principle of the chairman.
People from other countries are usually curious about how an anti-intellectual political organization could be so influential on the masses. There are many reasons for this. But one of the main reasons is the bourgeois press. The bourgeois represented in the government owns 90 per cent of all the press in Turkey including TV and radio channels, newspapers, journals, etc. It means when someone relates with a media organ, she or he sees, listens and reads only the same source.
The Press as the Means of Politicization and Depoliticization of the Masses
Today the press is accepted as the fourth power with legislative, executive and judiciary in most countries experiencing a working bourgeois democracy. Besides this, in countries faced with authoritarian or fascist state forms, the press is a crucial part of the total power. However, under all forms of capitalism, the main point of the bourgeois press is to take part in the maintenance of the existing social relations. It is not possible to think otherwise after realizing that the press is usually under the private property of one or two monopolies. It does not matter how much the organs of these monopolies refer to the words “impartial”, “independent”, “objective” press and moreover. By using the term ideological state apparatuses of Louis Althusser, it could be mentioned that the bourgeois press defines the borders and the limits of an official ideology or ideologies to keep the subjects inside the existing order.
As for Turkey, it might be seen that the press is an important instrument of the existing order to persuade the masses for a country without law. The law in Turkey is actually the sum of decisions given by the ruler and his officials. At exactly this point, the need for legitimacy of their decisions is conveniently supplied by the bourgeois press. This could only be done by the press itself. It gathers all individuals together into a common place. Using this opportunity, it gains the chance to persuade or threaten the subjects in favour of the government. And it does not hesitate to use different kinds of manipulation and disinformation for this mission.
The press has always been influentially used during the AKP rule. Many visual and printed media organs have established without caring about their ratings. Here the only measure has usually been making the party ideology, Political Islam more apparent and more effective. What is important is the concrete consequences of the influence performed by the press. And these consequences have been the direct products of the Political Islamist intelligentsia not having any academic or intellectual formations but having fake or fictional titles. These “experts” aim to determine and control the minds of people by the media organs. Various subjects from daily problems to social events are being undertaken by the “experts” at the media organs.
By focusing the minds, Political Islamists have two main ends. One is politicization; and the other is depoliticization of the masses.
For the goal of politicization, the first thing is to polarize and divide the masses for the negative cases in charge of the government. Then passing the buck to the opposition, even if it is the victim. By this process, it is as easy as pie to mark workers, peasants, students, academicians, intellectuals, journalists, engineers, lawyers and many others who protest the violation of their rights as “the devils in human form.” Here the press is the major instrument to declare who is enemy and who is not. After that, it mobilises the masses against the opposition.
The goal of depoliticization is the other side of the coin. It is a process keeping the masses ready to mobilize against the opposition but hindering them to not listen to or to take part in the opposition. The main point here is making people irrelevant to politics up to the call by the ruler. By forming cynic supporters like these, neutrality or apathy of the masses is expected on the decisions of the government. The result of cynical supporters is a relatively social silence which protects the powerful from possible wave of resistance and struggle against the coming violation of rights.
The government has escalated the repression against the opposition after declaring state of emergency by the effective usage of the politicization and depoliticization processes. Also the bourgeoisie has designed its press once more after the accomplishment of the five critical domestic security issues mentioned above. Hereafter the expectation from the press is to formulate every act of the government as “national will” and to mask the class character of the state. •
Actually, Article 12 was planned to be put in to place nearly four years ago. However there were no really adequate technical conditions to realize that process, and then the regulations were postponed for a future time.
Louis Althusser, “Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses,” trans. Ben Brewster, Marxists.org, 1971.
This situation is like the term mass mobilization against a political ideology belonging to Jacques Ellul in Propaganda: The Formation of Men’s Attitudes. It uses the term in the sense of the power which uses TV, radio and printed media to specify and begin a mobilization against its enemies.
This point should be thought of by the term transformismo associated with Antonio Gramsci and his idea of the formation of passive consent.
mashriq / arabia / iraq / imperialismo / guerra / non-anarchist press Tuesday April 24, 2018 19:16 byRobert Fisk
Traducido para Rebelión por Juan Antonio Julián.Esta es la historia de una ciudad llamada Duma, un lugar devastado y apestoso de bloques de apartamentos destrozados, y también es la historia de una clínica subterránea cuyas imágenes de sufrimiento permitieron que tres de las naciones más poderosas del mundo occidental bombardeasen Siria la semana pasada. Hay incluso hay un amistoso médico vestido de bata verde que, cuando me lo encuentro en la misma clínica, me dice alegremente que el video del “gas” que horrorizó al mundo –a pesar de todas las dudas– es completamente genuino.
Las historias de guerra, sin embargo, tienen la costumbre de oscurecerse. Este mismo médico sirio, de 58 años de edad, agrega a continuación algo profundamente incómodo: los pacientes, dice, no fueron víctimas del gas sino de la ausencia de oxígeno en los túneles y sótanos llenos de basura, en una noche de viento y fuertes bombardeos que provocaron una tormenta de polvo.
Cuando el Dr. Assim Rahaibani anuncia esta extraordinaria conclusión, vale la pena observar que él mismo admite que no fue un testigo ocular de los hechos y, como habla bien inglés, se refiere por dos veces a los yihadistas de Jaish el-Islam [Ejército del Islam] de Duma como “terroristas”, la palabra que utiliza el régimen para sus enemigos y un término utilizado por muchas personas en toda Siria. ¿Estoy escuchando bien? ¿Qué versión de los hechos debemos creer?
Con la misma mala suerte, los médicos que estaban de servicio esa noche del 7 de abril están todos en Damasco dando testimonio de una investigación sobre armas químicas que intentará dar una respuesta definitiva a esa pregunta en las próximas semanas.
Mientras tanto, Francia dijo que tiene “pruebas” de que se usaron armas químicas, y los medios de comunicación estadounidenses han citado fuentes que afirman que las pruebas de orina y sangre también lo demuestran. La OMS ha dicho que sus socios en el terreno trataron a 500 pacientes “que mostraban señales y síntomas que indicaban la exposición a sustancias químicas tóxicas”.
Al mismo tiempo, los inspectores de la Organización para la Prohibición de las Armas Químicas (OPCW) siguen sin poder llegar aquí al sitio del supuesto ataque con gas, aparentemente porque carecían de los necesarios permisos de la ONU.
Antes de continuar, los lectores deben tener en cuenta que esta no es la única historia respecto a Duma. Hay muchas personas con las que hablé en medio de las ruinas de la ciudad que afirman que “nunca creyeron en estas historias de gases”, historias que los grupos armados islamistas diseminaban regularmente. Estos yihadistas en particular sobrevivieron bajo una tormenta de fuego al vivir en las casas de la población y en largos y anchos túneles con caminos subterráneos tallados con herramientas manuales por los presos en la roca viva, en tres niveles por debajo de la ciudad. Atravesé tres de ellos ayer: vastos corredores de roca viva que aún contenían cohetes rusos –sí, rusos– y coches quemados.
Así pues, la historia de Duma no es solo una historia de gas o no gas, según cada uno. Se trata de miles de personas que optaron no marcharse de Duma en los autobuses que partieron la semana pasada, junto con los hombres armados con los que tuvieron que convivir como trogloditas durante meses para poder sobrevivir. Ayer, atravesé la ciudad con bastante libertad, sin soldados, policías o guardianes que siguieran mis pasos, solo dos amigos sirios, una cámara y un cuaderno. A veces tuve que trepar a través de murallas de 20 pies de altura, arriba y abajo de paredes de tierra casi transparentes. Felices de ver extranjeros entre ellos, y aún más felices de que el sitio finalmente haya terminado, en su mayoría sonríen; aquellos cuyas caras puedes ver, por supuesto, porque una sorprendente cantidad de mujeres de Duma usan un hiyab negro completo.
Mi primera entrada en Duma fue como parte de un convoy escoltado de periodistas. Pero una vez que un aburrido general anunció, a las puertas de un municipio destartalado, que no tenía información, el más útil lema basura de los funcionarios árabes, me alejé. Otros reporteros, principalmente sirios, hicieron lo mismo. Incluso un grupo de periodistas rusos, todos con vestimenta militar, se fue a su aire.
Fue un corto paseo que me llevó al Dr. Rahaibani. Desde la puerta de su clínica subterránea - “Punto 200”, se llama, en la extraña geología de esta ciudad parcialmente subterránea - hay un corredor cuesta abajo donde me mostró su humilde hospital y las pocas camas donde una pequeña niña lloraba mientras las enfermeras trataban un corte sobre su ojo.
“Estaba con mi familia en el sótano de mi casa a trescientos metros de aquí esa noche, pero todos los médicos saben lo que pasó. Hubo muchos bombardeos [por parte de las fuerzas gubernamentales] y los aviones siempre sobrevolaban Duma por la noche, pero esa noche hubo viento y enormes nubes de polvo comenzaron a entrar en los sótanos y bodegas donde vivía la gente. La gente comenzó a llegar aquí sufriendo de hipoxia, pérdida de oxígeno. Entonces alguien en la puerta, un “Casco Blanco”, gritó “¡Gas!”, Y comenzó el pánico. La gente comenzó a arrojarse agua unos sobre otros. Sí, el video fue filmado aquí, es genuino, pero lo que se ve en él son personas que sufren de hipoxia, no de envenenamiento por gas.”
Curiosamente, después de conversar con más de 20 personas, no pude encontrar ninguna que mostrara el más mínimo interés en el papel de Duma como provocación de los ataques aéreos occidentales. Dos me dijeron textualmente que no tenían idea de que hubiera ninguna conexión.
Pero fue un mundo extraño en el que entré. Dos hombres, Hussam y Nazir Abu Aishe, dijeron que desconocían cuántas personas habían sido asesinadas en Duma, aunque este último admitió que tenía un primo “ejecutado por Jaish el-Islam [Ejército del Islam] por supuestamente ser “cercano al régimen”. Se encogieron de hombros cuando pregunté sobre las 43 personas que se dice que murieron en el infame ataque de Duma.
Los Cascos Blancos, los asistentes médicos de respuesta rápida, ya legendarios en Occidente pero con algunos aspectos llamativos en su historial, desempeñaron un papel familiar durante las batallas. Este grupo está en parte financiado por el Ministerio de Asuntos Exteriores británico y la mayoría de las oficinas locales estaban integradas por hombres de Duma. Encontré sus oficinas destruidas no muy lejos de la clínica del Dr. Rahaibani. Habían abandonado una máscara de gas fuera de un contenedor de alimentos con un ojo perforado y había una pila de sucios uniformes militares de camuflaje dentro de una habitación. ¿Un montaje? me pregunté a mí mismo. Lo dudo. El lugar estaba lleno de cápsulas, equipos médicos rotos y archivos, ropa de cama y colchones.
Por supuesto, debemos escuchar su versión de la historia, pero eso no sucederá aquí: una mujer nos dijo que todos los miembros de los Cascos Blancos de Duma abandonaron su cuartel general principal y optaron por tomar los autobuses organizados por el gobierno y protegidos por los rusos con destino a la provincia rebelde de Idlib junto con los grupos armados, cuando se acordó la tregua final.
Había puestos de comida abiertos y una patrulla de policías militares rusos, un extra optativo para cada alto el fuego sirio, y nadie se había molestado siquiera en asaltar la intimidante prisión islamista cercana a la Plaza de los Mártires, donde supuestamente decapitaban a sus víctimas en los sótanos. El personal complementario de la ciudad a la policía civil del Ministerio sirio del Interior –que llevan una extraña vestimenta militar– es vigilado por los rusos, que a su vez parecen o no observados por los civiles. Una vez más, mis serias preguntas sobre el gas se encontraron ante lo que parecía una genuina perplejidad.
¿Cómo podría ser que los refugiados de Duma que habían llegado a los campos en Turquía ya estuvieran describiendo un ataque con gas que nadie en Duma hoy parecía recordar? Se me ocurrió, una vez que hube caminado más de una milla a través de estos miserables túneles excavados por prisioneros, que los ciudadanos de Duma vivieron tan aislados unos de otros por tanto tiempo que las “noticias” en nuestro sentido de la palabra simplemente no tenían significado para ellos. Siria no llega a ser una democracia jeffersoniana -como me gusta cínicamente decirles a mis colegas árabes- y de hecho es una dictadura despiadada, pero eso no pudo evitar que esta gente, feliz de ver a los extranjeros entre ellos, no reaccionara con unas pocas palabras de verdad. Entonces, ¿qué me estaban diciendo?
Me hablaron de los islamistas bajo los cuales vivieron. Hablaron de cómo los grupos armados se habían robado viviendas civiles para evitar los bombardeos del gobierno sirio y los rusos. Jaish el Islam había incendiado sus oficinas antes de marcharse, pero los enormes edificios dentro de las zonas de seguridad que ellos mismos habían creado habían sido derribados por ataques aéreos. Un coronel sirio que encontré detrás de uno de estos edificios me preguntó si quería ver qué tan profundos eran los túneles. Me detuve después de caminar más de una milla, y él me hizo la críptica observación de que “este túnel podría llegar hasta Gran Bretaña”. Ah sí; me acordé de la señora May, cuyos ataques aéreos habían estado tan íntimamente conectados a este lugar de túneles y polvo. ¿Y el gas?
mashriq / arabia / iraq / imperialism / war / non-anarchist press Tuesday April 24, 2018 19:13 byRobert Fisk
Exclusive: Robert Fisk visits the Syria clinic at the centre of a global crisisThis is the story of a town called Douma, a ravaged, stinking place of smashed apartment blocks – and of an underground clinic whose images of suffering allowed three of the Western world’s most powerful nations to bomb Syria last week. There’s even a friendly doctor in a green coat who, when I track him down in the very same clinic, cheerfully tells me that the “gas” videotape which horrified the world – despite all the doubters – is perfectly genuine.
War stories, however, have a habit of growing darker. For the same 58-year old senior Syrian doctor then adds something profoundly uncomfortable: the patients, he says, were overcome not by gas but by oxygen starvation in the rubbish-filled tunnels and basements in which they lived, on a night of wind and heavy shelling that stirred up a dust storm.
As Dr Assim Rahaibani announces this extraordinary conclusion, it is worth observing that he is by his own admission not an eyewitness himself and, as he speaks good English, he refers twice to the jihadi gunmen of Jaish el-Islam [the Army of Islam] in Douma as “terrorists” – the regime’s word for their enemies, and a term used by many people across Syria. Am I hearing this right? Which version of events are we to believe?
By bad luck, too, the doctors who were on duty that night on 7 April were all in Damascus giving evidence to a chemical weapons enquiry, which will be attempting to provide a definitive answer to that question in the coming weeks.
France, meanwhile, has said it has “proof” chemical weapons were used, and US media have quoted sources saying urine and blood tests showed this too. The WHO has said its partners on the ground treated 500 patients “exhibiting signs and symptoms consistent with exposure to toxic chemicals”.
At the same time, inspectors from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) are currently blocked from coming here to the site of the alleged gas attack themselves, ostensibly because they lacked the correct UN permits.
Before we go any further, readers should be aware that this is not the only story in Douma. There are the many people I talked to amid the ruins of the town who said they had “never believed in” gas stories – which were usually put about, they claimed, by the armed Islamist groups. These particular jihadis survived under a blizzard of shellfire by living in other’s people’s homes and in vast, wide tunnels with underground roads carved through the living rock by prisoners with pick-axes on three levels beneath the town. I walked through three of them yesterday, vast corridors of living rock which still contained Russian – yes, Russian – rockets and burned-out cars.
So the story of Douma is thus not just a story of gas – or no gas, as the case may be. It’s about thousands of people who did not opt for evacuation from Douma on buses that left last week, alongside the gunmen with whom they had to live like troglodytes for months in order to survive. I walked across this town quite freely yesterday without soldier, policeman or minder to haunt my footsteps, just two Syrian friends, a camera and a notebook. I sometimes had to clamber across 20-foot-high ramparts, up and down almost sheer walls of earth. Happy to see foreigners among them, happier still that the siege is finally over, they are mostly smiling; those whose faces you can see, of course, because a surprising number of Douma’s women wear full-length black hijab.
I first drove into Douma as part of an escorted convoy of journalists. But once a boring general had announced outside a wrecked council house “I have no information” – that most helpful rubbish-dump of Arab officialdom – I just walked away. Several other reporters, mostly Syrian, did the same. Even a group of Russian journalists – all in military attire – drifted off.
It was a short walk to Dr Rahaibani. From the door of his subterranean clinic – “Point 200”, it is called, in the weird geology of this partly-underground city – is a corridor leading downhill where he showed me his lowly hospital and the few beds where a small girl was crying as nurses treated a cut above her eye.
“I was with my family in the basement of my home three hundred metres from here on the night but all the doctors know what happened. There was a lot of shelling [by government forces] and aircraft were always over Douma at night – but on this night, there was wind and huge dust clouds began to come into the basements and cellars where people lived. People began to arrive here suffering from hypoxia, oxygen loss. Then someone at the door, a “White Helmet”, shouted “Gas!”, and a panic began. People started throwing water over each other. Yes, the video was filmed here, it is genuine, but what you see are people suffering from hypoxia – not gas poisoning.”
Oddly, after chatting to more than 20 people, I couldn’t find one who showed the slightest interest in Douma’s role in bringing about the Western air attacks. Two actually told me they didn’t know about the connection.
But it was a strange world I walked into. Two men, Hussam and Nazir Abu Aishe, said they were unaware how many people had been killed in Douma, although the latter admitted he had a cousin “executed by Jaish el-Islam [the Army of Islam] for allegedly being “close to the regime”. They shrugged when I asked about the 43 people said to have died in the infamous Douma attack.
The White Helmets – the medical first responders already legendary in the West but with some interesting corners to their own story – played a familiar role during the battles. They are partly funded by the Foreign Office and most of the local offices were staffed by Douma men. I found their wrecked offices not far from Dr Rahaibani’s clinic. A gas mask had been left outside a food container with one eye-piece pierced and a pile of dirty military camouflage uniforms lay inside one room. Planted, I asked myself? I doubt it. The place was heaped with capsules, broken medical equipment and files, bedding and mattresses.
Of course we must hear their side of the story, but it will not happen here: a woman told us that every member of the White Helmets in Douma abandoned their main headquarters and chose to take the government-organised and Russian-protected buses to the rebel province of Idlib with the armed groups when the final truce was agreed.
There were food stalls open and a patrol of Russian military policemen – a now optional extra for every Syrian ceasefire – and no-one had even bothered to storm into the forbidding Islamist prison near Martyr’s Square where victims were supposedly beheaded in the basements. The town’s complement of Syrian interior ministry civilian police – who eerily wear military clothes – are watched over by the Russians who may or may not be watched by the civilians. Again, my earnest questions about gas were met with what seemed genuine perplexity.
How could it be that Douma refugees who had reached camps in Turkey were already describing a gas attack which no-one in Douma today seemed to recall? It did occur to me, once I was walking for more than a mile through these wretched prisoner-groined tunnels, that the citizens of Douma lived so isolated from each other for so long that “news” in our sense of the word simply had no meaning to them. Syria doesn’t cut it as Jeffersonian democracy – as I cynically like to tell my Arab colleagues – and it is indeed a ruthless dictatorship, but that couldn’t cow these people, happy to see foreigners among them, from reacting with a few words of truth. So what were they telling me?
They talked about the Islamists under whom they had lived. They talked about how the armed groups had stolen civilian homes to avoid the Syrian government and Russian bombing. The Jaish el-Islam had burned their offices before they left, but the massive buildings inside the security zones they created had almost all been sandwiched to the ground by air strikes. A Syrian colonel I came across behind one of these buildings asked if I wanted to see how deep the tunnels were. I stopped after well over a mile when he cryptically observed that “this tunnel might reach as far as Britain”. Ah yes, Ms May, I remembered, whose air strikes had been so intimately connected to this place of tunnels and dust. And gas?
aotearoa / pacific islands / miscellaneous / opinion / analysis Tuesday April 24, 2018 08:06 byPink Panther
The new Labour lead coalition government in Aotearoa/New Zealand has made a number of announcements regarding housing. The reality falls short of these announcements of progress.With much fanfare the Labour-led government announced in its first budget major changes to supposedly assist beneficiaries who are struggling with housing costs. On April 1st, 2018, the changes, especially to the Accommodation Supplement, took effect but it quickly became apparent the government had given with one hand and taken away with the other.
While the maximum payments in the various Accommodation Supplement zones increased by an average of $15 a week (more in some areas as they were moved to other Accommodation Supplement zones) the majority of those people who had an Accommodation Supplement increase lost their Temporary Additionary Supplement. In effect their payments only increased by the annual cost of living adjustment. For many people that meant less than $5 a week extra in the hand. $5 a week is hardly the major increase in assistance that the government hinted at. Indeed, the actions of the Labour-led government to address the problem of housing have been less than stellar.
When TVNZ revealed on April 12th, 2018, that the Department of Work and Income had issued Advances of Benefit for tents for twenty families the Housing Minister Phil Twyford stated, “It’s not ok for the government to be supplying tents. It might have been acceptable under the past government it’s not under ours … We’re pulling out all the stops with emergency and transitional housing, building thousands of extra state houses, and if people are homeless and don’t have anywhere to live we will do our absolute best to find somewhere for them.” That was a response that was full of the sort of bombastic nonsense and rhetoric that would’ve made U.S President Donald Trump proud.
While the government has announced lofty plans to address the housing shortage, including the announcement that 53 new state houses are planned for the Castor Crescent area in Porirua (Stuff website, March 6th, 2018), nothing has been built up to now.
Housing shortages in most parts of New Zealand have become critical. The NZ Herald stated in an article on November 3rd, 2017, that there was a nationwide shortage of 71,194 houses (44,738 in Auckland alone) according to the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment. That’s disgusting in a country that once prided itself on its virtual lack of homelessness.
What is even more disgraceful is that it’s the most vulnerable groups in our society who have found themselves unable to put a roof over their heads. Maori. Pacific Islanders, youth and the mentally ill have been the most heavily impacted by the lack of housing.
With the median rent in Auckland and Wellington being $550 a week and $385 a week nationwide (excluding Auckland) according to Nigel Jeffries, the head of Trade Me Property (NZ Herald, February 26th, 2018), it’s obvious why homelessness has become such a major problem. Even if rental properties were available the rents are simply unaffordable.
The problem regarding housing isn’t just because of the law of supply and demand. Successive governments and local councils have been selling houses either to speculators or to so-called “social housing providers” since the 1980s. This has created a critical shortage of council and state housing to meet the growing need for housing nationwide. Even though the current government has committed itself to building 10,000 state houses a year to meet growing demand there has been no indication that any state houses have been built or that the sale of existing state or council housing has been stopped. Instead, all we are hearing are plans for new state housing developments.
The area of housing is one where we see the ugly face of the ruling elite, the state and Capital. While the state pays lip service to helping those in need of a roof over their head little is done about it. The private sector assures everyone it can provide affordable housing but there is no incentive to build such housing and private landlords openly state they will not rent to people they view as lazy, drug addicted boozers on welfare – if comments on Facebook and Newstalk ZB are any indicator. The property-owning classes oppose any attempts to construct housing intended for working class or low income people if there is any likelihood it would lower their property values. This situation is highlighted by for example, the opposition to a proposed low cost housing project in Awatea Ave in Paraparaumu in which property owners opposed a proposal to build affordable housing because it would create a “ghetto” though no explanation was offered as to how this would be the case. (Paraparaumu ‘ghetto’ plan opposed, Kapiti Observer, November 20th, 2014)
Having a place to live is not, and must not, be a luxury reserved for those deemed to be ‘deserving’. It is a fundamental human right. By “housing”, that doesn’t mean an overcrowded converted garage or a tent in a camping ground.
Anarchist architect and town planner Colin Ward once stated in his book The Hidden History of Housing (London: History and Policy, September 2004), “In the post-war decades popular mythology held that every acre of Britain was precious in the interests of agriculture. Farmers were free to destroy woodlands and hedges, drain wetlands and pollute rivers and water supplies in the interests of increased production. Now that the bubble of over-production has burst, the same people are subsidised for not growing and for returning habitats to what is seen as nature. This results in golf courses and publicly-financed set-aside.
“Unofficial settlements are seen as a threat to wildlife, which is sacrosanct. The planning system is the vehicle that supports four-wheel-drive Range Rovers, but not the local economy, and certainly not those travellers and settlers seeking their own modest place in the sun. These people have bypassed the sacred rights of tenure, but still find their modest aspirations frustrated by the operations of planning legislation. Nobody actually planned such a situation. No professional planner would claim that his or her task was to grind unofficial housing out of existence, and nor would any of the local enforcers of the Building Regulations.
“But all these unhappy confrontations are the direct result of public policy. Something has to be done to change it, and the hidden history of twentieth-century housing offers some currently unconventional models.”
The housing models that have got Aotearoa to this dire point need to be abandoned. It is time to start introducing some of those unconventional models of which Colin Ward spoke, including squatting and collective ownership, into this country. If the homeless wait for private charity or the government of the day to house them they will be waiting a very long time. As of the December 2017 quarter there were 7725 people on the Housing New Zealand waiting list – and they were just the most urgent cases. (Stuff website, February 1st, 2018.) Rather than waiting patiently for the government or the private sector to provide the most basic of human needs, the homeless, those in sub-standard housing and their allies in the community can co-operate together and undertake direct action to achieve their modest goals.
américa del norte / méxico / movimiento anarquista / opinión / análisis Tuesday April 24, 2018 05:00 byAlgunxs Libertarixs Organizadxs.
El insurreccionalismo demostró su inoperancia, y su falta de sentido común en su natal Italia, y volvió a demostrarlo en la experiencia española ("La epidemia de rabia. 1996-2007", de los Tigres de Sutullena), donde inició "una huida hacia adelante bordeando el nihilismo" (o incluso sumergiéndose en él), como diría el grupo Ruptura (Ekintza Zuzena, "Entrevista al grupo Ruptura"), y lo demostró en Grecia, donde todxs lxs presxs miembrxs de la “Conspiración de Células del Fuego” han terminado coludidos con la mafia carcelaria, y otra vez, quedó demostrado en Chile, con sus presxs y sus muertxs, y está siendo demostrado en México, donde lxs luchadores populares, y las organizaciones sociales, rechazan abiertamente sus tácticas terroristas y su propuesta de más violencia a una sociedad civil hastiada de la violencia que ejerce cotidianamente la delincuencia organizada y sus cómplices del Estado…
El Desplome del “Informalismo” y el Fin de la Epidemia de Rabia en México.
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