Play the man, not the ball

This entry was posted on
Tuesday, September 13th, 2005
8:48 am and is filed
under The Reality-Based Community.

Guardian – Death in Bobur Square: The May 13 massacre of hundreds, possibly thousands, of innocent civilians at Andijan in eastern Uzbekistan was carried out by soldiers and paramilitary units dispatched to kill by the regime of President Islam Karimov – protege of Vladimir Putin and, until recently, a crucial ally to Britain and America in the “war on terror”. The dead were among thousands who had gathered to protest for democratic and economic reforms, and in support of businessmen arrested and held on trumped-up charges. To date, there has been no official tally of how many perished, nor an official acknowledgement of the atrocity by the authorities, who have refused an international investigation.


As refreshing as it is to see the police blaming the arms dealers and not the protestors for the drain on their resources this time around, it does need to be noted that “anti-terror laws could be used to stop the country being held to ransom by (fuel price) protesters”. Same game; different field. The arms fair is mostly being dealt with via a news blackout on who’s actually attending.

And, while all of this is going on, most people will be more concerned about some blokes what won some cricket match. No wonder Murdoch wants to own cricket; it will allow him to further secure an audience more likely to not give a tuppeny-stuff about little things like murder, torture, and the growth of the corporate empire.

Sorry, I’m in a mood today. Can you tell?

Every time I hear the word ‘Uzbekistan’, my mind immediately leaps to Tony Blair and his talk of overthrowing evil dictators and how that can’t be a bad thing. Of doing not what is popular, but what is right. But in the case of Islam Karimov, all the Blair government gave was a restrained ‘tut-tut-tut’ that followed the massacre of peaceful protestors… and only because they felt at the time that the matter couldn’t be swept under the rug.

(The response from the White House was even more delicious; And we urge both the government and the demonstrators to exercise restraint at this time. The people of Uzbekistan want to see a more representative and democratic government, but that should come through peaceful means, not through violence. And that’s what our message is. Yes, they really did urge the people getting shot in the street to use restraint.)

Before the massacre, Blair’s game was simple; keep a lid on it. When Craig Murray brought forth some uncomfortable truths about our vital ally in the ‘war’ on terror, Downing Street’s solution was simple… play the man, not the ball.

Just by the look on your face, I can tell you’re still wondering what the hell this has to do with cricket. Bear with me.

Murdoch’s ever-increasing network is built on a foundation of sport. Sport is even used as a defence mechanism to play down the insidious effect of his tabloid rag The Sun and/or its close relationship with the Blair government. (Take this typical assurance from ‘Honest’ John Prescott; (guffaw) “Oh, come now. People only read The Sun for the sports coverage.”)

Today, men from a range of governments with extremely poor human rights records will meet at a weapons jolly that we regularly host. They will meet to discuss, preview and buy weapons designed to kill people in the most efficient/brutal/intimidating manner possible. It goes beyond bordering on terror… it is terror. And we’re neck-deep in it.

“We will show by our spirit and dignity and by a quiet and true strength that there is in the British people, that our values will long outlast theirs.” – Tony Blair – 7 July 2005

*Our* values? Tony and I obviously have a slight compatibility problem.

My values don’t allow me to commit murder. Torture is also out.

My values also stop me from standing by while others get on with the nasty business of torture and murder, either at my behest or on my behalf. I may also have a slight problem providing such people with weapons and training.

And my values certainly rule out bleating about the need to protect the innocent if – all the while – I’m one of the heartless fucks ensuring that they continue to suffer.

If you want a clear idea of what Blair is trying to carve this country into, just take a look at what he’s chipping away; primarily, it’s the right to simple things like free speech, peaceful protest and anything else that threatens the Big Fat Lie of the ‘war’ on terror. Even the will to protest is slowly but surely being sapped by the harsh use of media and police (and – disturbingly – the threat of terror of and/or claims that such people are in league with terrorists) against anyone willing to say ‘boo’ to a goose.


I have days – like today – when I must admit defeat and watch an open-top bus cheered by thousands, when a few hundred people (plus the usual agenda-driven bods) is all we can draw together to express our outrage that an innocent man was shot dead under a new ‘shoot to kill’ policy that we were not told about. When perhaps another few hundred will take a stand against the selling of weapons to despots, knowing that their actions probably won’t even be reported unless arrests are made.

But I also have something to hang on to. It’s the dream that I can counter the negative effects on the will to protest so we can start winning back some of our rights.

How do I plan to do this?

Haven’t you guessed already ? I’m going to try to turn it into a sport.

Watch this space.

Scotsman – Mass protest feared at arms fair
Independent – Arms fair criticised for using Iraq war to market weapons
Campaign Against Arms Trade
Disarm DSEi 2005
Keep an eye on Indymedia UK for the latest DSEi news.

UPDATE – One good reason to love weapons technology. (Graphic. Not for the faint-hearted.)

UPDATE – Hooray for clusterbombs!

About Tim Ireland

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