Monthly Archives: April 2013

British citizenship test tightened to include English test


Theresa+May+MP,+Home+Secretary+and+Minister+for+Women+and+Equalities+reads+a+statement+on+security+measures+for+the+London+Olympic+Games+in+the+House+of+CommonsMy thoughts on British citizenship test tightened to include English test for immigrants or rather economic migrants:

“Yesterday (Wed 17th April, 2013) saw a sad day for equalities’ communities, although you wouldn’t know it from the newspapers and media etc today. Yesterday (Tuesday 16th April, 2013) in Parliament, the Conservative (coalition) government voted (by 310 v 244) to get rid of the general Equality Duty (to promote and address inequality) that applies to all statutory sector organisations and all those organisations commissioned by them.

What it means for you and your families who work

you’ve lost quite a few Equality rights in the UK now, and this affects everyone. Here’s what it means for you in a nutshell:

(1) people’s ability to achieve their potential is limited by prejudice or discrimination.
(2) there is no respect for and protection of each individual’s human rights.
(3) there is no respect for the dignity and worth of each individual.
(4) each individual does not have an equal opportunity to participate in society.
(5) there is no mutual respect between groups based on understanding and valuing of diversity and on shared respect for equality and human rights.

This important news story, got lost got ignored by the UK Press and Media. The only way to tell people about this change, is either to blog or produce a press release about it, and make sure the media knows about these changes.

The House of Lords repealed this. The Coalition Government… didn’t. They know what they were changing.”

For some time I have spoken about equality, multiculturalism, diversity and immigration in the UK. I even mentioned that I’m a proud son of an immigrant as my father and mother have contributed to this country which allowed myself and my siblings to be educated in this country.

When I look around our great nation and able to see multiculturalism and diversity I can’t help to reflect if our parents were not able to hold a decent conversation in English and would they able to get by without our help. The answer will be mixed as I begin visited various communities I note with concern that there are still some communities are not willing to accept change to able to speak English and they still depend on family ties to help them to fill out forms and translate for them.

Which is still worrying in one sense the other is both successful governments in the UK have tried to address without success. Until the current government start to address the social policies or issue they are no further in moving forward this is because they are not addressing the root causes yet they continue to throw the problems back on immigration and they have to speak English to enter this country thinking it will be a vote winner.

photo(1)David Cameron has the cheek to state that multiculturalism is failing and then continues to mention on radicalisation and the causes of terrorism.

At a security conference in Munich, he argued the UK needed a stronger national identity to prevent people turning to all kinds of extremism.

He also signalled a tougher stance on groups promoting Islamist extremism.

The speech angered some Muslim groups, while others queried its timing amid an English Defence League rally in the UK.

As Mr Cameron outlined his vision, he suggested there would be greater scrutiny of some Muslim groups which get public money but do little to tackle extremism.

Ministers should refuse to share platforms or engage with such groups, which should be denied access to public funds and barred from spreading their message in universities and prisons, he argued.

“Frankly, we need a lot less of the passive tolerance of recent years and much more active, muscular liberalism,” the prime minister said.

“Let’s properly judge these organisations: Do they believe in universal human rights – including for women and people of other faiths? Do they believe in equality of all before the law? Do they believe in democracy and the right of people to elect their own government? Do they encourage integration or separatism?

“These are the sorts of questions we need to ask. Fail these tests and the presumption should be not to engage with organisations,” he added.

00220889 - 425x238The Labour MP for Luton South, Gavin Shuker, asked if it was wise for Mr Cameron to make the speech on the same day the English Defence League staged a major protest in his constituency.

_63247790_jex_1525741_de26-1SKThere was further criticism from Labour’s Sadiq Khan whose comments made in a Daily Mirror article sparked a row. The shadow justice secretary was reported as saying Mr Cameron was “writing propaganda material for the EDL”.

Conservative Party chairman Baroness Warsi hit back, saying that “to smear the prime minister as a right wing extremist is outrageous and irresponsible”. She called on Labour leader Ed Miliband to disown the remarks.

It’s time the right hand knew what the far-right hand is doing”

Meanwhile, the Muslim Council of Britain‘s assistant secretary general, Dr Faisal Hanjra, described Mr Cameron’s speech as “disappointing”.

He told Radio 4’s Today programme: “We were hoping that with a new government, with a new coalition that there’d be a change in emphasis in terms of counter-terrorism and dealing with the problem at hand.

“In terms of the approach to tackling terrorism though it doesn’t seem to be particularly new.

“Again it just seems the Muslim community is very much in the spotlight, being treated as part of the problem as opposed to part of the solution.”

In the speech, Mr Cameron drew a clear distinction between Islam the religion and what he described as “Islamist extremism” – a political ideology he said attracted people who feel “rootless” within their own countries.

“We need to be clear: Islamist extremism and Islam are not the same thing,” he said.

The government is currently reviewing its policy to prevent violent extremism, known as Prevent, which is a key part of its wider counter-terrorism strategy.

InayatBunglawala from Muslims4Uk says Mr Cameron is “firing at the wrong target”

A genuinely liberal country “believes in certain values and actively promotes them”, Mr Cameron said.

“Freedom of speech which includes Freedom of worship, The rule of law, and Equal rights, regardless of race, sex or sexuality.

“It says to its citizens: This is what defines us as a society. To belong here is to believe these things.”

He said under the “doctrine of state multiculturalism”, different cultures have been encouraged to live separate lives.

“We have failed to provide a vision of society to which they feel they want to belong. We have even tolerated these segregated communities behaving in ways that run counter to our values.”

Building a stronger sense of national and local identity holds “the key to achieving true cohesion” by allowing people to say “I am a Muslim, I am a Hindu, I am a Christian, but I am a Londoner… too”, he said.

Security minister Baroness Neville-Jones said when Mr Cameron expressed his opposition to extremism; he meant all forms, not just Islamist extremism.

“There’s a widespread feeling in the country that we’re less united behind values than we need to be,” she informed the media.

“There are things the government can do to give a lead and encourage participation in society, including all minorities.”

But the Islamic Society of Britain’s Ajmal Masroor said the prime minister did not appreciate the nature of the problem.

“I think he’s confusing a couple of issues: national identity and multiculturalism along with extremism are not connected. Extremism comes about as a result of several other factors,” he told BBC Radio 5 live.

Former home secretary David Blunkett said while it was right the government promoted national identity, it had undermined its own policy by threatening to withdraw citizenship lessons from schools.

He accused Education Secretary Michael Gove of threatening to remove the subject from the national curriculum of secondary schools in England at a time “we’ve never needed it more”.

“It’s time the right hand knew what the far-right hand is doing,” he said.

“In fact, it’s time that the government were able to articulate one policy without immediately undermining it with another.”

I would like to challenge him to hold a public debate to address this issue in local communities across the country and stop using spin to address his ideology

I have to say that the government are living in the land of never, never. Instead of addressing the issues in their own backyard they are quite happy not finding the solutions of the 1000s of immigrates who enter this country with fake identities. Once they reach here they use different names to work or claim benefits. Some will argue you need to have a national insurance card to gain employment.

I beg to differ on the grounds that people who enter the UK by other means will find ways of obtaining a national insurance card, work permits by paying underground prices. Nor am I suggesting that every immigrants who came to this country came used the same route as most that came here during the 1940s to 1970s have contributed to society and provided employment to simulate the economy by the invitation of the government.

The Home Secretary and UK Boarders need to clamp down on the loopholes and engage more in the wider communities to grasp the nettle and stop pandering to fascism and racism of the far right parties. Sure it is a vote winner but at a very expensive cost. For years we give a good talk but still can’t do the walk.

I can understand why this has come up coupled with the problems of lack of social housing, and employment needs which is the main concern from the all sections of society instead this government are more concern about pleasing their rich donors to the Conservatives. The same argument is being used by the government to undermine Labour by saying that the Trade Unions are the pay masters of Labour Party.

I don’t have a problem per say for people who want to enter the UK to gain employment but the test must be done fairly across the board for people applying for British citizenship are to be set a compulsory English exam.

From October 2013, all those wishing to settle in the UK will have to pass an English language course as well as the existing test on life in the UK.

And that has now been extended to cover applicants for citizenship.

English-speakers applying for citizenship have currently only to take the life-in-the-UK test, which is in English.

If they are not English speakers or skilled migrants, they must pass a course in English for speakers of other languages (ESOL) which contains citizenship materials.

Immigration Minister Mark Harper said the changes would “ensure that migrants are ready and able to integrate into British society”.

In a letter to Keith Vaz MP, Home Secretary Theresa May said: “It would clearly be wrong for people to be able to become British citizens with a lower level of English than that expected from permanent residents.”

In some ways the images I have is when I see the Home Secretary in her bid to outdo the Iron Lady by pushing the right wing agenda in the hope of a leadership challenge to David Cameron should he not succeed in winning the next General Elections in 2015.

 

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Has Thatcherism ever left us under this coalition


My Thoughts On Thatcherism:

thatcherI have always had very strong views to the right to peaceful assembly and the right to family life. Once skirmish starts I draw the line as it leads to a criminal record which is not worth it. Secondly I don’t believe in UKCuts tactics of allegedly using removal vans to block roads be near mansion or homes as it undermines the democratic process.

There are many who are not happy with a law then I suggest that you all start to campaign to change it by lobbying your Member Of Parliament(MP) that is what they are there to represent your views. Granted tensions are rising over a number of issues but I am strongly against the idea to organising assemblies celebrating the death of someone as its distasteful and lack of respect which I will not apologise for mentioning on my blog, Facebook or Twitter I may add.

Nor will I promote or embrace Thatcherism as I recall incidences of painful memories which my family went through during the Thatcher periods and the distractions which helped to dived families, friends, and communities from the north, west, east and south of all regions in the UK under Thatcherism which caused splits in many families and communities under the Conservatives during the periods of 1979 -1997.

My understanding of Thatcherism is the conviction politics, economic and social policy, and political style of the British Conservative politician Margaret Thatcher, who was leader of her party from 1975 to 1990. It has also been used by those who describe the beliefs of the British government while Thatcher was Prime Minister between May 1979 and November 1990, and beyond into the governments of John Major, Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and David Cameron

Tony+Blair+Prime+Minister+David+Cameron+Hosts+gJjCJwrBT9VlThatcherism claims to promote low inflation, the small state and free markets through tight control of the money supply, privatisation and constraints on the labour movement. It is often compared with Reaganomics in the United States, Rogernomics in New Zealand and Economic Rationalism in Australia as a key part of the worldwide neoliberal movement. Nigel Lawson, Thatcher’s Chancellor of the Exchequer from 1983 to 1989, listed the Thatcherite ideals as:

photoFree markets, financial discipline, firm control over public expenditure, tax cuts, nationalism, ‘Victorian values’ (of the Samuel Smiles self-help variety), privatisation and a dash of populism

I do not hold any malice against Margaret Thatcher but remember what many families went through during Thatcher regime during her time in office and the very reason why I’m proud for what my father did as soon as I turned 16 years old which I will be eternally grateful for by taking out my membership to join the Labour Party which has helped me to understand what was the heart of politics and this has strengthen many in the Labour Party during the 1980s to help gain a Labour victory in 1997.

article-1052881-044DB9B90000044D-204_468x286There are many people who will recall the 1980s very well to this day for those of us who were around not because of that Margaret Thatcher was the first elected female Prime Minister but the way how the right-wing branch of the Conservatives went about destroying a large mining communities across the country, introducing the dreaded Poll Tax, took on the Trade Unions, privatised the utilities, selling off council housing, and destroyed our manufacturing industries and helped to spark the 1981-1985 Brixton and Handsworth Riots which bore the scares of Thatcherism.

poll taxUnemployment had been rising throughout the 1970s as companies set about restructuring and modernising their businesses.  It has been alleged that it picked up speed after the Conservatives took power in 1979, rapidly rising to over three million in 1982 by most right-wing rags. Unemployment hit hardest in Northern Ireland, where one in five were out of work in the early 1980s, and the industrial areas of northern England and Scotland. And a further alleged economic boom later in the decade helped to bring unemployment down but it was a slow process. Against this backdrop of high unemployment, the Coal Board announced in early 1984 that twenty uneconomic pits would have to close, putting 20,000 miners out of work.

minersIt was the Conservative Government’s second attempt to close these pits, after a climb-down in 1981.  Miners at the endangered Cortonwood colliery in Yorkshire walked out on 5 March 1984 in protest at the plans. Within a week more than half the country’s miners were on strike. The dispute lasted a year and led to conflict not only with police but between miners who supported the strike and those who did not.

When the miners returned to work, the pit closure programme continued. Inflation was running at more than 20% at times in the 1970s so a key tenet of the incoming Conservative government was to bring it down – which was allegedly largely successful.

However growth suffered in Mrs Thatcher’s first term with a deep recession in the early 1980s, followed later in the decade by a boom. The base rate was set by the government rather than the Bank of England itself. With rates often climbing well above 10%, people with large mortgages suffered but such moves did have the desired effect of bringing down inflation.

Many of us continues to bore witness to the scars of Thatcherism which have condemned the social impacts of her policies encouraging the free market and stripping power from unions during her 11 years in office.

Some have called Margaret Thatcher is deserving of a state funeral, her supporters have said, as preparations for a ceremonial farewell for Britain’s first and only woman prime minister got under way. I whole heartily disagree with it and will go as far to say why should tax payers fork out for the cost especially when this coalition are cutting benefits, public services and frontline staff on the one hand then saying to their Tory donors oh look what we have done for you so please, please, give generously to the Conservative Party and under the other hand why should tax payers pay for Thatcher’s funeral and was the same offered to Clement Attlee when he died?.

Some Tory MPs have expressed their disappointment that the 87-year-old has not been granted a state funeral – even though such a ceremony would be against her own wishes. Peter Bone, MP for Wellingborough, said she should have “the highest kind of funeral that can be allowed”. “I would have thought a state funeral would be very appropriate. She was the first female prime minister. She was also the greatest peacetime prime minister we ever had,” he told the Daily Mail.

seeandenenI look around today under the coalition with their Welfare reform programmes and I still convinced that  Thatcherism exist under this coalition by introducing a mark 3 of the Welfare Reform and continued high unemployment and shortage housing that Thatcher, Coalition, and Labour had the opportunities to build more social housing to help boost the economy. Perhaps some sections of society continue to argue a good response to Thatcher’s passing is to redouble our efforts to ensure that the worst excesses of Thatcherism never again blight our country: bigotry, xenophobia, scapegoating, narrow-mindedness, lack of compassion.

Please feel free to watch the two links which sums up the mood of Thatcherism to the many and not the few:

http://youtu.be/0wAaAAjOOq0

http://youtu.be/XDtClJYJBj8

Lets not forget another part of history Tony Blair former Leader of Labour Party and Prime Minister under Blairism(Thatcherism part 2) did recognize earlier on under Thatcherism he had to engage Labour Party to change clause 4 in order move the party forward which he rubbed both trade unions and members up the wrong way. Secondly under Blairism kept most of the policies under Thatcherism introduced.

Blairism did not want the return full power to the trade unions hence he did not want to dismantle the anti-trade union laws but carried on with policies that Conservatives made into law like Private Finance Initiative(PFI) not just in hospitals but in Highways which Blairism embrace which he mentioned the scars on his back of Public Services.

Yet under Blairism a number of policies were introduced the National Minimum Wage, SureStart, reformed Health and Laws, family Friendly Policies, return Bank to the financial services, and transforming the economy, Human Rights Laws, and equality agenda under Blairism saw a large influxes of Labour Women MPs all who sat in the house of commons name a few.

Politically, Blair has been identified with record investment into public services, an interventionist and Atlanticist foreign policy, support for stronger law enforcement powers, a large focus on surveillance as a means to address terrorism and a large focus on education as a means to encourage social mobility. In the early years (circa 1994-1997), Blairism was also associated with support for European integration and particularly British participation in the European single currency, though this waned after Labour took office.

The term is used in particular in contrast to Brownite, to identify those within the Labour Party with a connection to, or identification with, Gordon Brown rather than Blair. However, with Blair and Brown typically in agreement on most political issues (from Iraq to public sector reform), commentators have noted that “the difference between Brownites and Blairites … is more tribal than ideological”.

This is believed to stem from a personal disagreement between Blair and Brown over who should have run for the leadership following the death of John Smith in 1994: though Brown was originally considered the senior of the two, he waited until after Smith’s funeral to begin campaigning by which point Blair had gathered too much momentum to be beaten individuals who supported Blair’s leadership or those who supported his policies. Often Brownites are seen as more left and, by some, seen to have a slightly more Liberal or Liberal Left ideology than Blairites. Brownites are also against the third way and are for more democratic socialist then Blairites.

The coalition is part 3 of the return of Thatcherism by cutting frontline services like Police, Nurses, Social Workers, closure of Day centers and  dismantling the welfare state which included benefit cuts to the most disadvantage in society by introducing the Bedroom Tax encouraging Councils and Town Halls to get people on benefits to pay their Council Tax.

Under this Coalition the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said the number of people without work rose 70,000 in the three months to the end of February to reach 2.56 million – pushing the jobless rate up to 7.9%.

The number of people in work fell by 2,000 over the period to just under 30 million – the first time the figure has dipped since autumn 2011.

There were 900,000 out of work for more than a year, an 8,000 increase on the three months to November, while the number of unemployed 16 to 24-year-olds rose by 20,000 to 979,000.

While the jobless figures suggested a reversal in the resilience of the UK labour market amid the UK’s weak economic growth, it was the pay statistics that will most worry those who are seeking a pick-up in consumer spending to boost output.

Pay, excluding bonuses, rose by 1% between November and February compared to a year earlier which was the smallest on record, the ONS said.

With CPI inflation currently measured at an annual rate of 2.8%, the pay figure demonstrates that prices are continuing to rise at a faster pace than wage growth at a time when energy bills and many other costs have soared. Employers have been limiting pay increases as a way of managing to keep hold of staff amid the flat-lining economy.

The move has been cited by some economists as a key reason why unemployment levels fell last year: companies wanting to be ready for when recovery came. GMB union general secretary Paul Kenny said: “The Chancellor should heed IMF advice to change course to grow the economy to end this needless waste of human talent.”

Lastly, I make no apologies for making a statement calling for all Labour Party activists to help our candidates to win the Local Government, European and General Elections seats starting in  2013- 2015 as many of us in Labour Party long for a return of a victory of a Labour Government which I will gladly celebrate with open hands and properly do a dance on the day.

USA withdraw its nuclear testing


north-korea_2100289bMy thoughts on USA withdraw its nuclear testing:

I’m glad that USA are finally seeing sense over North Korea and its young leader as I can see it the minute the US starts its test on missile it plays into the hands of the North and the hard liners will continue with their propaganda machine to prove that the US are the instigators to suppress its citizens.

The fact the USA has postpone their missile until May has indicated to me that they are beginning to take the wait and see approach which is in the right direction and the ball is now in North Koreas court. Nobody wants to go to war but both sides still needs to exercise caution and continue with talks but not hot air.

As I said in my earlier post that the hard liners most of them are from the old guard or old school and most of them needs to be replaced by young blood as they are the future of North Korea will go along way. It’s about time that the tribalism must stop and let the young leader lead the country towards democratic elections and open up its country to bring in much-needed investment which will help to build their economy which will lead to a stop on depending on aid from China and Russia.

There are many North Korean dissidents would be brought in the much-needed investments from the Western World but only when they feel safe and able to travel more freely until that day comes all eyes will on North Korea.

Is there a future for North Korea yes they can should they want change. Many will agree this is a necessary course to take for the country to move it forward and improve on their education, housing, jobs, and investment. There are many ideas that the new leader could introduce and make his mark for North Korea. It’s about time that the young leader shows leadership instead of pandering to the hard liners in the country why don’t they just retire and enjoy the fruits they have gained so far it’s because they have no proper pension system and they depend on the backhandeers which the leadership will have to deal with.

Its been an unbelievable few weeks with the rhetoric from David Cameron William Hague and President Obama over North Korea its like throwing a bowl of rice on to the wall and the rice bounce back of the wall to hit all North Koreans in the face. Yet both countries will accept and defectors with open arms to gain intelligence from them to remain in the UK and USA what hypocrites both countries has become.

New Image1Yet on the one hand David Cameron claiming that North Korea is a threat to the UK then we have William Hague quoted

The North Korean regime is guilty of “paranoid rhetoric” after warning last week that it could not guarantee the safety of embassy staff in the event of a war, William Hague has said.

As the US moved to ease tensions by postponing a missile test in California, the foreign secretary urged Britain and other allies to remain calm as he said there were no signs of a major military buildup.

download1Then I saw William Hague Speaking on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show,  saying: “We have to be concerned about the danger of miscalculation by the North Korean regime, which has worked itself up into this frenetic state of rhetoric in recent weeks, and the danger that they would believe their own paranoid rhetoric. But it is important that the international response to this, including our response, must be clear and united and calm.”

There is still time for both new leaders from North and South Korea to reach an amicable agreement to open up trade and much-needed investment.

Syria Civil Disobedience Alive or Dead?


anti-syrian-protest-543x2752

My thoughts on Syria Civil Disobedience:

For some time we have either read or saw a numinous news coverage of Syria and the more we watch the sadder it becomes when we see children suffering with schools closing down whilst the conflict continues. The children are the nation of tomorrow to help build a nation. It’s a shame to see children taking up arms to help overthrow the Syrian Government instead the children should be at school having a decent education.

If the coalition is that concern about its budget why in hell does this government continue to supply arms to the rebels the question many are asking ourselves why are we supplying killing machines comes to mind if this coalition is really concern about cutting the budget.

I see some history lessons coming into place for those who studied Russian and Cultural Revolutions will recall its citizens rebelled against the upper class and gained control of the situation most of them both working and middle classes  joined forces to help bring about a victory to change a government.

Some would argue that both revolutions were different in today’s modern world I would concur slightly but remind people that Governments should be afraid of its people as they are the ones with the power to overturn governments to bring a future. Just remember when students march against its governments it is always followed by the mass movement.
bashar460x276

The idea that the Syrian Government can turn its army and artillery on its own people indicates that Human Rights Abuse is increasing. Yet they have the cheek to say they are being attacked by terrorist against the government and they have to act now to eliminate them before it gets out of hand.
Let look at the history of Syria:

The oldest remains found in Syria date from the Palaeolithic era (c.800,000 BCE). On August 23, 1993 a joint Japan-Syria excavation team discovered fossilized Paleolithic human remains at the Dederiyeh Cave some 400 km north of Damascus. The bones found in this massive cave were those of a Neanderthal child, estimated to have been about two years old, who lived in the Middle Palaeolithic era (ca. 200,000 to 40,000 years ago). Although many Neanderthal bones had been discovered already, this was practically the first time that an almost complete child’s skeleton had been found in its original burial state.[1]

Archaeologists have demonstrated that civilization in Syria was one of the most ancient on earth. Syria is part of the Fertile Crescent, and since approximately 10,000 BCE it was one of centers of Neolithic culture (PPNA) where agriculture and cattle breeding appeared for the first time in the world. The Neolithic period (PPNB) is represented by rectangular houses of the Mureybet culture. In the early Neolithic period, people used vessels made of stone, gyps and burnt lime. Finds of obsidian tools from Anatolia are evidence of early trade relations. The cities of Hamoukar and Emar flourished during the late Neolithic and Bronze Age

The ruins of Ebla, near Idlib in northern Syria, were discovered and excavated in 1975. Ebla appears to have been an East Semitic speaking city-state founded around 3000 BCE. At its zenith, from about 2500 to 2400 BCE, it may have controlled an empire reaching north to Anatolia, east to Mesopotamia and south to the Red Sea. Ebla traded with the Mesopotamian states of Sumer Akkad and Assyria, as well as with peoples to the northwest.[2] Gifts from Pharaohs, found during excavations, confirm Ebla’s contact with Egypt. Scholars believe the language of Ebla was closely related to the fellow East Semitic Akkadian language of Mesopotamia[3] and to be among the oldest known written languages.[2]

Ebla was probably conquered by Sargon of Akkad around 2330 BCE. The city re-emerged, as the part of the nation of the Northwest Semitic speaking Amorites, a few centuries later, and flourished through the early second millennium BC until conquered by the Indo-European Hittites.[4]

From the third millennium BCE, Syria was occupied successively by SumeriansEgyptiansHittitesAssyrians and Babylonians.[2] The region was fought over by the rival empires of the HittitesEgyptiansAssyrians and Mitanni between the 15th and 13th centuries BCE, with the Middle Assyrian Empire eventually left controlling Syria.

When the Middle Assyrian Empire began to deteriorate in the late 11th century BC, Canaanites and Phoenicians, came to the fore and occupied the coast, and Arameans supplanted the Amorites in the interior, as part of the general disruptions and exchanges associated with the Bronze Age Collapse and the Sea Peoples.

From the 10th Century BCE the Neo-Assyrian Empire arose, and Syria was ruled by Assyria for the next three centuries, until the late 7th century BCE. After this empire finally collapsed, Mesopotamian dominance continued for a time with the short lived Neo-Babylonian Empire, which ruled the region for 70 or so years.

Eventually, in 539 BCE, the Persians took Syria as part of their empire. This dominion ended with the conquests of the Macedonian Greek king, Alexander the Great in 333-332 BCE. Syria was then incorporated into the Seleucid Empire. The capital of this Empire (founded in 312 BC) was situated at Antioch, then a part of historical Syria, but just inside the Turkish border today. The Roman general Pompey the Great captured Antioch in 64 BCE, turning Syria into a Romanprovince.[2]

The city of Antioch was the third largest city in the Roman Empire, after Rome and Alexandria. With an estimated population of 500,000 at its peak, Antioch was one of the major centers of trade and industry in the ancient world. The largely Aramaic speaking population of Syria during the heyday of the empire was probably not exceeded again until the 19th century. Syria’s large and prosperous population made it one of the most important Roman provinces, particularly during the 2nd and 3rd centuries CE.[5]

Syria is significant in the history of ChristianityPaul the Apostle was converted on the Road to Damascus and emerged as a significant figure in the Christian Church at Antioch, from where he set off on many of his missionary journeys. (Acts 9:1–43 )

The Roman emperor Elagabalus (218-222) was half-Aramean, and his family held hereditary rights to the high priesthood of the sun god El-Gabal at Emesa, (modern Homs) in Syria. He was succeeded by his cousin Alexander Severus (222 to 235) who was also from Syria. Another Roman emperor who was Syrian was Philip the Arab (Marcus Julius Philippus), emperor from 244 to 249.[5]

Palmyra, a wealthy and powerful indigenous Aramean state arose in the 2nd and 3rd centuries AD, and for a short time it was the center of the Palmyrene Empire, which briefly rivalled Rome.

With the decline of the empire in the west, Syria became part of the East Roman, or Byzantine, Empire in 39

In 634-640, Syria was conquered by the Muslim Arabs in the form of the Rashidun army led by Khalid ibn al-Walid, resulting in the region becoming part of the Islamic empire. In the mid-7th century, the Umayyad dynasty, then rulers of the empire, placed the capital of the empire in Damascus. Syria was divided into four districts: Damascus, Homs,Palestine and Jordan. The Islamic empire expanded rapidly and at its height stretched from Spain to India and parts of Central Asia; thus Syria prospered economically, being the centre of the empire. Early Umayyad rulers such asAbd al-Malik and Al-Walid I constructed several splendid palaces and mosques throughout Syria, particularly in Damascus, Aleppo and Homs.

There was complete toleration of Christians (mostly ethnic Arameans and in the north east, Assyrians) in this era and several held governmental posts. In the mid-8th century, the Caliphate collapsed amid dynastic struggles, regional revolts and religious disputes. The Umayyad dynasty was overthrown by the Abbasid dynasty in 750, who moved the capital of empire to BaghdadArabic — made official under Umayyad rule — became the dominant language, replacing Greek and Aramaic in the Abbasid era. For periods, Syria was ruled from Egypt, under the Tulunids (887-905), and then, after a period of anarchy, the Ikhshidids (941-969). Northern Syria came under the Hamdanids of Aleppo.[6]

The court of Ali Saif al-Daula, ‘Sword of the State,’ (944-967) was a centre of culture, thanks to its nurturing of Arabic literature. He resisted Byzantine expansion by skillful defensive tactics and counter-raids into Anatolia. After his death, the Byzantines captured Antioch and Aleppo (969). Syria was then in turmoil as a battleground between the Hamdanids, Byzantines and Damascus-based Fatimids. The Byzantines had conquered all of Syria by 996, but the chaos continued for much of the 11th century as the Byzantines, Fatimids and Buyids of Baghdad engaged in a struggle for supremacy. Syria was then conquered by the Seljuk Turks (1084-1086). After a century of Seljuk rule, Syria was conquered (1175-1185) by Saladin, founder of theAyyubid dynasty of Egypt.

During the 12th-13th centuries, parts of Syria were held by Crusader states: the County of Edessa (1098-1149) and the Principality of Antioch (1098-1268). The area was also threatened by Shi’a extremists known as Assassins (Hassassin) and in 1260 the Mongols briefly swept through Syria. The withdrawal of the main Mongol army prompted the Mamluks of Egypt to invade and conquer Syria. In addition to the sultanate’s capital in Cairo, the Mamluk leader, Baibars, made Damascus a provincial capital, with the cities linked by a mail service that traveled by both horses and carrier pigeons. The Mamluks eliminated the last of the Crusader footholds in Syria and repulsed several Mongol invasions.

In 1400, Timur Lenk, or Tamerlane, invaded Syria, defeated the Mamluk army at Aleppo and captured Damascus. Many of the city’s inhabitants were massacred, except for the artisans, who were deported to Samarkand.[7][8] At this time the Christian population of Syria suffered persecution.

By the end of the 15th century, the discovery of a sea route from Europe to the Far East ended the need for an overland trade route through Syria. In 1516, the Ottoman Empire conquered Syria.

Ottoman Sultan Selim I conquered Syria in 1516 after defeating the Mamlukes at the Battle of Marj Dabiqnear Aleppo. Syria was part of the Ottoman Empire from 1516 to 1918. Ottoman rule was not burdensome to the Syrians because the Turks, as Muslims, respected Arabic as the language of the Koran, and accepted the mantle of defenders of the faith. Damascus became made the major entrepot for Mecca, and as such it acquired a holy character to Muslims, because of the barakah (spiritual force or blessing) of the countless pilgrims who passed through on the hadj, the pilgrimage to Mecca.[9]

The Ottoman Turks reorganized Syria into one large province or eyalet. The eyalet was subdivided into several districts or sanjaks. In 1549, Syria was reorganized into two eyalets; the Eyalet of Damascus tand the new Eyalet of Aleppo. In 1579, the Eyalet of Tripoli which included Latakia, Hama and Homs was established. In 1586, the Eyalet of Raqqa was established in eastern Syria. Ottoman administration was such that it fostered a peaceful coexistence amongst the different sections of Syrian society for over four hundred years. Each religious minority — Shia Muslim, Greek Orthodox, Maronite, Armenian, and Jewish — constituted a millet. The religious heads of each community administered all personal status law and performed certain civil functions as well.[9]

As part of the Tanzimat reforms, an Ottoman law passed in 1864 provided for a standard provincial administration throughout the empire with the Eyalets becoming smaller Vilayets governed by a Wali, or governor, still appointed by the Sultan but with new provincial assemblies participating in administration. The territory of Greater Syria in the final period of Ottoman rule included modern Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Jordan, Palestinian Authority, Gaza Strip and parts of Turkey and Iraq.

During World War I, French diplomat François Georges-Picot and British diplomat Mark Sykes) secretly agreed on the post war division of the Ottoman Empire into respective zones of influence in the Sykes-Picot Agreement of 1916. In October 1918, Arab and British troops advanced into Syria and captured Damascus and Aleppo. In line with the Sykes-Picot agreement, Syria became a League of Nations mandate under French control in 1920.[10]

In 1920, a short-lived independent Kingdom of Syria was established under who later became the King of Iraq. In March 1920 Syrian National Congress proclaimed Emir Faisal I of the Hashemite family, as king of Syria “in its natural boundaries” from the Taurus mountains in Turkey to the Sinai desert in Egypt. However, his rule in Syria ended after only a few months, following the clash between his Syrian Arab forces and French forces at the Battle of Maysalun. French troops took control of Syria and forced Faisal to flee. Later that year the San Remo conference split up Faisal’s kingdom by placing Syria-Lebanon under a French mandate, and Palestine under British control. Syria was divided into three autonomous regions by the French, with separate areas for the Alawis on the coast and the Druze in the south.[11]

Nationalist agitation against French rule led to Sultan al-Atrash leading a revolt that broke out in the Druze Mountain in 1925 and spread across the whole of Syria and parts of Lebanon. The revolt saw fierce battles between rebel and French forces in Damascus, Homs and Hama before it was suppressed in 1926.

The French sentenced Sultan al-Atrash to death, but he had escaped with the rebels to Transjordan and was eventually pardoned. He returned to Syria in 1937 and was met with a huge public reception. Elections were held in 1928 for a constituent assembly, which drafted a constitution for Syria. However, the French High Commissioner rejected the proposals, sparking nationalist protests.

Syria and France negotiated a treaty of independence in September 1936. France agreed to Syrian independence in principle although maintained French military and economic dominance. Hashim al-Atassi, who had been Prime Minister under King Faisal’s brief reign, was the first president to be elected under a new constitution, effectively the first incarnation of the modern republic of Syria. However, the treaty never came into force because the French Legislature refused to ratify it. With the fall of France in 1940 during World War II, Syria came under the control of Vichy France until the British and Free French occupied the country in the Syria-Lebanon campaign in July 1941. Syria proclaimed its independence again in 1941, but it was not until 1 January 1944 that it was recognised as an independent republic. There were protests in 1945 over the slow pace of French withdrawal. Continuing pressure from Syrian nationalist groups forced the French to evacuate the last of their troops in April 1946, leaving the country in the hands of a republican government that had been formed during the mandate.[12]

Syria became independent on April 15, 1946. Syrian politics from independence through the late 1960s were marked by upheaval. Between 1946 and 1956, Syria had 20 different cabinets and drafted four separate constitutions.

In 1948, Syria was involved in the Arab-Israeli War, aligning with the other local Arab states who were opposed to the establishment of the state of Israel.[13] The Syrian army entered northern Palestine but, after bitter fighting, was gradually driven back to the Golan Heights by the Israelis. An armistice was agreed in July 1949. A “supposed” demilitarized zone under UN supervision was established; the status of these territories proved a stumbling-block for all future Syrian-Israeli negotiations. It was during this period that many Syrian Jews, who faced growing discrimination, left Syria as part of Jewish exodus from Arab countries.

The outcome of the war was one of factors behind the March 1949 Syrian coup d’état by Col. Husni al-Za’im, in what has been described as the first military overthrow of the Arab World[13] since the Second World War. This was soon followed by another coup by Col. Sami al-Hinnawi.[13] Army officer Adib Shishakliseized power in the third military coup of 1949. A Jebel Druze uprising was suppressed after extensive fighting (1953–54). Growing discontent eventually led to another coup, in which Shishakli was overthrown in February 1954. The Arab Socialist Ba’ath Party, founded in 1947, played a part in the overthrow of Shishakli. Veteran nationalist Shukri al-Quwatli was president from 1955 until 1958, but by then his post was largely ceremonial.

Power was increasingly concentrated in the military and security establishment, which had proved itself to be the only force capable of seizing and, perhaps, keeping power.[13] Parliamentary institutions remained weak, dominated by competing parties representing the landowning elites and various Sunni urban notables, whilst the economy was mismanaged and little was done to better the role of Syria’s peasant majority. In November 1956, as a direct result of the Suez Crisis,[14] Syria signed a pact with the Soviet Union, providing a foothold for Communist influence within the government in exchange for planes, tanks, and other military equipment being sent to Syria.[13] This increase in Syrian military strength worried Turkey, as it seemed feasible that Syria might attempt to retakeİskenderun, a matter of dispute between Syria and Turkey. On the other hand, Syria and the Soviet Union accused Turkey of massing its troops on the Syrian border. Only heated debates in the United Nations (of which Syria was an original member) lessened the threat of war.[15]

In this context, the influence of NasserismPan-Arab and anti-imperial ideologies created fertile ground for the idea of closer ties with Eygpt.[13][16] The appeal of Egyptian President Gamal Abdal Nasser‘s leadership in the wake of the Suez Crisis created support in Syria for union with Egypt.[13] On 1 February 1958, Syrian President al-Quwatli and Nasser announced the merging of the two states, creating the United Arab Republic.[12] The union was not a success, however.[13] Discontent with Egyptian dominance of the UAR, led elements opposed to the union under Abd al-Karim al-Nahlawi, to seize power on 28 September 1961. Two days later, Syria re-established itself as the Syrian Arab Republic. Frequent coups, military revolts, civil disorders and bloody riots characterized the 1960s. The 8 March 1963 coup, resulted in installation of the National Council of the Revolutionary Command (NCRC), a group of military and civilian officials who assumed control of all executive and legislative authority. The takeover was engineered by members of the Ba’ath Party led by Michel Aflaq and Salah al-Din al-Bitar. The new cabinet was dominated by Ba’ath members; the moderate al-Bitar became premier.[12][13] He was overthrown early in 1966 by left-wing military dissidents of the party led by General Salah Jadid.

Under Jadid’s rule, Syria aligned itself with the Soviet bloc and pursued hardline policies towards Israel[17] and “reactionary” Arab states especially Saudi Arabia, calling for the mobilization of a “people’s war” against Zionism rather than inter-Arab military alliances. Domestically, Jadid attempted a socialist transformation of Syrian society at forced pace, creating unrest and economical difficulties. Opponents of the regime were harshly suppressed, while the Ba’ath Party replaced parliament as law-making body and other parties were banned. Public support for his regime, such as it was, declined sharply following Syria’s defeat in the 1967 Six Day War,[18] when Israel destroyed much of Syria’s air force and captured the Golan Heights.[19][20]

Conflicts also arose over different interpretations of the legal status of the Demilitarized Zone. Israel maintained that it had sovereign rights over the zone, allowing the civilian use of farmland. Syria and the UN maintained that no party had sovereign rights over the zone.[21] Israel was accused by Syria of cultivating lands in the Demilitarized Zone, using armored tractors backed by Israel forces. Syria claimed that the situation was the result of an Israeli aim to increase tension so as to justify large-scale aggression, and to expand its occupation of the Demilitarized Zone by liquidating the rights of Arab cultivators.[22] The Israeli defense minister Moshe Dayan said in a 1976 interview that Israel provoked more than 80% of the clashes with Syria.[23][24]

Conflict developed between right-wing army officers and the more moderate civilian wing of the Ba’ath Party. The 1970 retreat of Syrian forces sent to aid the PLO during the “Black September” hostilities with Jordan reflected this political disagreement within the ruling Ba’ath leadership.[25] On 13 November 1970, Minister of Defense Hafez al-Assad seized power in a bloodless military overthrow (“The Corrective Movement“).[26]

Syria became independent on April 15, 1946. Syrian politics from independence through the late 1960s were marked by upheaval. Between 1946 and 1956, Syria had 20 different cabinets and drafted four separate constitutions.

In 1948, Syria was involved in the Arab-Israeli War, aligning with the other local Arab states who were opposed to the establishment of the state of Israel.[13] The Syrian army entered northern Palestine but, after bitter fighting, was gradually driven back to the Golan Heights by the Israelis. An armistice was agreed in July 1949. A “supposed” demilitarized zone under UN supervision was established; the status of these territories proved a stumbling-block for all future Syrian-Israeli negotiations. It was during this period that many Syrian Jews, who faced growing discrimination, left Syria as part of Jewish exodus from Arab countries.

The outcome of the war was one of factors behind the March 1949 Syrian coup d’état by Col. Husni al-Za’im, in what has been described as the first military overthrow of the Arab World[13] since the Second World War. This was soon followed by another coup by Col. Sami al-Hinnawi.[13] Army officer Adib Shishakliseized power in the third military coup of 1949. A Jebel Druze uprising was suppressed after extensive fighting (1953–54). Growing discontent eventually led to another coup, in which Shishakli was overthrown in February 1954. The Arab Socialist Ba’ath Party, founded in 1947, played a part in the overthrow of Shishakli. Veteran nationalist Shukri al-Quwatli was president from 1955 until 1958, but by then his post was largely ceremonial.

Power was increasingly concentrated in the military and security establishment, which had proved itself to be the only force capable of seizing and, perhaps, keeping power.[13] Parliamentary institutions remained weak, dominated by competing parties representing the landowning elites and various Sunni urban notables, whilst the economy was mismanaged and little was done to better the role of Syria’s peasant majority. In November 1956, as a direct result of the Suez Crisis,[14] Syria signed a pact with the Soviet Union, providing a foothold for Communist influence within the government in exchange for planes, tanks, and other military equipment being sent to Syria.[13] This increase in Syrian military strength worried Turkey, as it seemed feasible that Syria might attempt to retakeİskenderun, a matter of dispute between Syria and Turkey. On the other hand, Syria and the Soviet Union accused Turkey of massing its troops on the Syrian border. Only heated debates in the United Nations (of which Syria was an original member) lessened the threat of war.[15]

In this context, the influence of NasserismPan-Arab and anti-imperial ideologies created fertile ground for the idea of closer ties with Eygpt.[13][16] The appeal of Egyptian President Gamal Abdal Nasser‘s leadership in the wake of the Suez Crisis created support in Syria for union with Egypt.[13] On 1 February 1958, Syrian President al-Quwatli and Nasser announced the merging of the two states, creating the United Arab Republic.[12] The union was not a success, however.[13] Discontent with Egyptian dominance of the UAR, led elements opposed to the union under Abd al-Karim al-Nahlawi, to seize power on 28 September 1961. Two days later, Syria re-established itself as the Syrian Arab Republic. Frequent coups, military revolts, civil disorders and bloody riots characterized the 1960s. The 8 March 1963 coup, resulted in installation of the National Council of the Revolutionary Command (NCRC), a group of military and civilian officials who assumed control of all executive and legislative authority. The takeover was engineered by members of the Ba’ath Party led by Michel Aflaq and Salah al-Din al-Bitar. The new cabinet was dominated by Ba’ath members; the moderate al-Bitar became premier.[12][13] He was overthrown early in 1966 by left-wing military dissidents of the party led by General Salah Jadid.

Under Jadid’s rule, Syria aligned itself with the Soviet bloc and pursued hardline policies towards Israel[17] and “reactionary” Arab states especially Saudi Arabia, calling for the mobilization of a “people’s war” against Zionism rather than inter-Arab military alliances. Domestically, Jadid attempted a socialist transformation of Syrian society at forced pace, creating unrest and economical difficulties. Opponents of the regime were harshly suppressed, while the Ba’ath Party replaced parliament as law-making body and other parties were banned. Public support for his regime, such as it was, declined sharply following Syria’s defeat in the 1967 Six Day War,[18] when Israel destroyed much of Syria’s air force and captured the Golan Heights.[19][20]

Conflicts also arose over different interpretations of the legal status of the Demilitarized Zone. Israel maintained that it had sovereign rights over the zone, allowing the civilian use of farmland. Syria and the UN maintained that no party had sovereign rights over the zone.[21] Israel was accused by Syria of cultivating lands in the Demilitarized Zone, using armored tractors backed by Israel forces. Syria claimed that the situation was the result of an Israeli aim to increase tension so as to justify large-scale aggression, and to expand its occupation of the Demilitarized Zone by liquidating the rights of Arab cultivators.[22] The Israeli defense minister Moshe Dayan said in a 1976 interview that Israel provoked more than 80% of the clashes with Syria.[23][24]

Conflict developed between right-wing army officers and the more moderate civilian wing of the Ba’ath Party. The 1970 retreat of Syrian forces sent to aid the PLO during the “Black September” hostilities with Jordan reflected this political disagreement within the ruling Ba’ath leadership.[25] On 13 November 1970, Minister of Defense Hafez al-Assad seized power in a bloodless military overthrow (“The Corrective Movement“).[26]

 Upon assuming power, Hafez al-Assad moved quickly to create an organizational infrastructure for his government and to consolidate control. The Provisional Regional Command of Assad’s Arab Socialist Ba’ath Party nominated a 173-member legislature, the People’s Council, in which the Ba’ath Party took 87 seats. The remaining seats were divided among “popular organizations” and other minor parties. In March 1971, the party held its regional congress and elected a new 21-member Regional Command headed by Assad.

In the same month, a national referendum was held to confirm Assad as President for a 7-year term. In March 1972, to broaden the base of his government, Assad formed the National Progressive Front, a coalition of parties led by the Ba’ath Party, and elections were held to establish local councils in each of Syria’s 14 governorates. In March 1973, a new Syrian constitution went into effect followed shortly thereafter by parliamentary elections for the People’s Council, the first such elections since 1962.[12] The 1973 Constitution defined Syria as a secular socialist state with Islam recognised as the majority religion.

On 6 October 1973, Syria and Egypt initiated the Yom Kippur War by launching a surprise attack on Israel. After intense fighting, the Syrians were repulsed in the Golan Heights. The Israelis pushed deeper into Syrian territory, beyond the 1967 boundary. As a result, Israel continues to occupy the Golan Heights as part of the Israeli-occupied territories.[27] In 1975, Assad said he would be prepared to make peace with Israel in return for an Israeli withdrawal from “all occupied Arab land”.

In 1976, the Syrian army intervened in the Lebanese civil war to ensure that the status quo was maintained, and the Maronite Christians remained in power. This was the beginning of what turned out to be a thirty-year Syrian military occupation. Many crimes in Lebanon, including the accused assassinations of Rafik HaririKamal Jumblat and Bachir Gemayel were attributed to the Syrian forces and intelligence services although were not proven to this day.[28] In 1981 Israel declared its annexation of the Golan Heights. The following year, Israel invaded Lebanon and attacked the Syrian army, forcing it to withdraw from several areas. When Lebanon and Israel announced the end of hostilities in 1983, Syrian forces remained in Lebanon. Through extensive use of proxy militias, Syria was attempted to stop Israel from taking over southern Lebanon. Assad sent troops into Lebanon for a second time in 1987 to enforce a ceasefire in Beirut.

The Syrian-sponsored Taif Agreement finally brought the Lebanese civil war to an end in 1990. However, the Syrian Army’s presence in Lebanon continued until 2005, exerting a strong influence over Lebanese politics. The assassination of the popular former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, was blamed on Syria, and pressure was put on Syria to withdraw their forces from Lebanon. On 26 April 2005 the bulk of the Syrian forces withdrew from Lebanon[29] although some of its intelligence operatives remained, drawing further international rebuke.[30]

Hafez al-Assad greets Richard Nixon on his arrival at Damascus airport in 1974

About one million Syrian workers went to Lebanon after the war to find jobs in the reconstruction of the country.[31] In 1994 the Lebanese government controversially granted citizenship to over 200,000 Syrian residents in the country.[32] (For more on these issues, see Demographics of Lebanon)

The government was not without its critics, though open dissent was repressed. A serious challenge arose in the late 1970s, however, from fundamentalist Sunni Muslims, who rejected the secular values of the Ba’ath program and objected to rule by the Shia Alawis. After the Islamic Revolution in Iran, Muslim groups instigated uprisings and riots in Aleppo, Homs and Hama and attempted to assassinate Assad in 1980. In response, Assad began to stress Syria’s adherence to Islam. At the start of Iran-Iraq war, in September 1980, Syria supported Iran, in keeping with the traditional rivalry between Ba’athist leaderships in Iraq and Syria. The arch-conservative Muslim Brotherhood, centered in the city of Hama, was finally crushed in February 1982 when parts of the city were hit by artillery fire and leaving between 10,000 and 25,000 people, mostly civilians, dead or wounded (seeHama massacre).[33] The government’s actions at Hama have been described as possibly being “the single deadliest act by any Arab government against its own people in the modern Middle East”.[34] Since then, public manifestations of anti-government activity have been limited.[12]

When Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990, Syria joined the US-led coalition against Iraq. This led to improved relations with the US and other Arab states. Syria participated in the multilateral Southwest Asia Peace Conference in Madrid in October 1991, and during the 1990s engaged in direct negotiations with Israel. These negotiations failed over the Golan Heights issue and there have been no further direct Syrian-Israeli talks since President Hafez al-Assad‘s meeting with then President Bill Clinton in Geneva in March 2000.[35]

In 1994, Assad’s son Bassel al-Assad, who was likely to succeed his father, was killed in a car accident. Assad’s brother, Rifaat al-Assad, was “relieved of his post” as vice-president in 1998. Thus, when Assad died in 2000, his second son, Bashar al-Assad was chosen as his successor.

Hafez al-Assad died on 10 June 2000, after 30 years in power. Immediately following al-Assad’s death, the Syrian Parliament amended the constitution, reducing the mandatory minimum age of the President from 40 to 34. This allowed Bashar Assad to become eligible for nomination by the ruling Ba’ath party. On 10 July 2000, Bashar al-Assad was elected President by referendum in which he ran unopposed, garnering 97.29% of the vote, according to Syrian Government statistics.[12]

The period after Bashar al-Assad’s election in the summer of 2000 saw new hopes of reform and was dubbed the Damascus Spring. The period was characterized by the emergence of numerous political forums or salons where groups of like-minded people met in private houses to debate political and social issues. The phenomenon of salons spread rapidly in Damascus and to a lesser extent in other cities. Political activists, such as Riad Seif,Haitham al-MalehKamal al-LabwaniRiyad al-Turk, and Aref Dalila were important in mobilizing the movement.[36] The most famous of the forums were the Riad Seif Forum and the Jamal al-Atassi Forum. Pro-democracy activists mobilized around a number of political demands, expressed in the “Manifesto of the 99”. Assad ordered the release of some 600 political prisoners in November 2000. The outlawed Muslim Brotherhood resumed its political activity. In May 2001 Pope John Paul II paid an historic visit to Syria.

However, by the autumn of 2001, the authorities had suppressed the pro-reform movement, crushing hopes of a break with the authoritarian past of Hafez al-Assad. Arrests of leading intellectuals continued, punctuated by occasional amnesties, over the following decade. Although the Damascus Spring had lasted for a short period, its effects still echo during the political, cultural and intellectual debates in Syria today.[37]

Tensions with the USA grew worse after 2002, when the US claimed Damascus was acquiring weapons of mass destruction and included Syria in a list of states that they said made-up an “axis of evil“. The USA was critical of Syria because of its strong relationships with Hamas, the Islamic Jihad Movement in Palestine and Hezbollah, which the USA, Israel and EU regard as terrorist groups. In 2003 the US threatened sanctions if Damascus failed to make what Washington called the “right decisions”. Syria denied US allegations that it was developing chemical weapons and helping fugitive Iraqis. An Israeli air strike against a Palestinian militant camp near Damascus in October 2003 was described by Syria as “military aggression”.[38] President Assad visited Turkey in January 2004, the first Syrian leader to do so. The trip marked the end of decades of frosty relations, although ties were to sour again after 2011. In May 2004, the USA imposed economic sanctions on Syria over what it called its support for terrorism and failure to stop militants entering Iraq.[39] Tensions with the US escalated in early 2005 after the killing of the former Lebanese PM Hariri in Beirut. Washington cited Syrian influence in Lebanon behind the assassination. Damascus was urged to withdraw its forces from Lebanon, which it did by April.[40]

Following 2004 Al-Qamishli riots, the Syrian Kurds protested in Brussels, in Geneva, in Germany, at the US and UK embassies, and in Turkey. The protesters pledged against violence in north-east Syria starting Friday, 12 March 2004, and reportedly extending over the weekend resulting in several deaths, according to reports. The Kurds allege the Syrian government encouraged and armed the attackers. Signs of rioting were seen in the towns of Qameshli and Hassakeh.[41]

Renewed opposition activity occurred in October 2005 when activist Michel Kilo and other opposition figures launched the Damascus Declaration, which criticized the Syrian government as “authoritarian, totalitarian and cliquish” and called for democratic reform.[42] Leading dissidents Kamal al-Labwani and Michel Kilo were sentenced to a long jail terms in 2007, only weeks after human rights lawyer Anwar al-Bunni was jailed. Although Bashar al-Assad said he would reform, the reforms have been limited to some market reforms.[33][43][44]

Over the years the authorities have tightened Internet censorship with laws such as forcing Internet cafes to record all the comments users post on chat forums.[45] While the authorities have relaxed rules so that radio channels can now play Western pop music, websites such as WikipediaYouTubeFacebook and Amazon have been blocked,[46] but were recently unblocked throughout the nation.[47][48]

Syria’s international relations improved for a period. Diplomatic relations with Iraq were restored in 2006, after nearly a quarter century. In March 2007, dialogue between Syria and the European Union was relaunched. The following month saw US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi meet President Assad in Damascus, although President Bush objected.[49][50][51][52]Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice then met with Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem in Egypt, in the first contact at this level for two years.[53][54][55]

An Israeli air strike against a site in northern Syria in September 2007 was a setback to improving relations. The Israelis claimed the site was a nuclear facility under construction with North Korean help.[56] 2008 March – When Syria hosted an Arab League summit in 2008, many Western states sent low-level delegations in protest at Syria’s stance on Lebanon. However, the diplomatic thaw was resumed when President Assad met French President Nicolas Sarkozy in Paris in July 2008. The visit signaled the end of Syria’s diplomatic isolation by the West that followed the assassination of Hariri in 2005. While in Paris, President Assad also met the recently-elected Lebanese president, Michel Suleiman. The two men laid the foundations for establishing full diplomatic relations between their countries. Later in the year, Damascus hosted a four-way summit between Syria, France, Turkey and Qatar, in a bid to boost efforts towards Middle East peace.

In April 2008, President Assad told a Qatari newspaper that Syria and Israel had been discussing a peace treaty for a year, with Turkey acting as a mediator. This was confirmed in May 2008 by a spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. The status of the Golan Heights, a major obstacle to a peace treaty, was being discussed.[57]

In 2008, an explosion killed 17 on the outskirts of Damascus, the most deadly attack in Syria in several years. The government blamed Islamist militants.[58][59][60]

2009 saw a number of high level meetings between Syrian and US government diplomats and officials. US special envoy George J. Mitchell visited for talks with President Assad on Middle East peace.[61][62][63][64] Trading launched on Syria’s stock exchange in a gesture towards liberalising the state-controlled economy.[65][66][67] The Syrian writer and pro-democracy campaigner Michel Kilo was released from prison after serving a three-year sentence.[68][69] In 2010, the USA posted its first ambassador to Syria after a five-year break.[70][71][72]

The thaw in diplomatic relations came to an abrupt end. In May 2010, the USA renewed sanctions against Syria, saying that it supported terrorist groups, seeks weapons of mass destruction and has provided Lebanon’s Hezbollah with Scud missiles in violation of UN resolutions.[73][74][75] In 2011 the UN’s IAEA nuclear watchdog reported Syria to the UN Security Council over its alleged covert nuclear programme.[76][77]

The Syrian Uprising (later known as the Syrian civil war) is an ongoing internal conflict between the Syrian army and the rebel Free Syrian Army. Encouraged by the Arab Spring, there were pro-reform protests in Damascus and the southern city of Deraa in March 2011. Protestors demanded political freedom and the release of political prisoners. This was immediately followed by a government crackdown whereby the Syrian Army was deployed to quell unrest.[82][83]

Security forces shot and killed a number of people in Deraa, triggering days of violent unrest that steadily spread nationwide over the following months. There were unconfirmed reports that soldiers who refused to open fire on civilians were summarily executed.[84] The Syrian government denied reports of executions and defections, and blamed militant armed groups for causing trouble.[85] President Assad announced some conciliatory measures: dozens of political prisoners were released, he dismissed the government, and in April he lifted the 48-year-old state of emergency. The government accused protesters of being stirred up by Israeli agents, and in May, army tanks entered Deraa, Banyas, Homs and the suburbs of Damascus in an effort to crush anti-regime protests. In June, the government claimed that in 120 members of the security forces had been killed by “armed gangs” in the northwestern town of Jisr al-Shughour. Troops besieged the town, whose inhabitants mostly fled to Turkey. At the same time, President Assad pledged to start a “national dialogue” on reform. He sacked the governor of the northern province of Hama and sent in more troops to restore order.

In July 2011, some of the anti-Assad groups met in Istanbul with a view to bringing the various internal and external opposition groups together. They agreed to form the Syrian National Council. Rebel fighters were joined by army defectors on the Turkish-Syrian border and declared the formation of the Free Syrian Army (FSA). They began forming fighting units to escalate the insurgency from September 2011. From the outset, the FSA was a disparate collection of loosely organized and largely independent units.

In December 2011, Syria agreed to an Arab League initiative allowing Arab observers into the country. Thousand of people gathered in Homs to greet them, but the League suspended the mission in January 2012, citing worsening violence. Twin suicide bomb attacks outside security buildings in Damascus killed 44 people in December 2011. This was the first in a series of bombings and suicide attacks in the Syrian capital that continued throughout 2012. The opposition accuses the government itself of staging the attacks. The government accuses the Western media of turning a blind eye to the rebels’ use of al-Qaeda-style terrorist attacks.

As the Syrian army recaptured the Homs district of Baba Amr in March 2012, the UN Security Council endorsed a non-binding peace plan drafted by UN envoy Kofi Annan. However, the violence continued unabated. A number of Western nations expelled senior Syrian diplomats in protest. In May, the UN Security Council strongly condemned both the Syrian government’s use of heavy weaponry and the massacre by rebels of over a hundred civilians in Houla, near Homs.

The UN reported that, in the first six months alone, 9,100–11,000 people had been killed during the insurgency, of which 2,470–3,500 were actual combatants and rest were civilians.[86][87][88] The Syrian government estimated that more than 3,000 civilians, 2,000–2,500 members of the security forces and over 800 rebels had been killed.[89] UN observers estimated that the death toll in the first six months included over 400 children.[90][91][92][93][94] Additionally, some media reported that over 600 political prisoners and detainees, some of them children, have died in custody.[95] A prominent case was that of Hamza Al-Khateeb. Syria’s government has disputed Western and UN casualty estimates, characterizing their claims as being based on false reports originating from rebel groups.[96]

According to the UN, about 1.2 million Syrians had been internally displaced within the country[97] and over 355,000 Syrian refugees had fled to the neighboring countries of Jordan,[98] Iraq,[99]Lebanon and Turkey during the first year of fighting.[97][100]

Both sides have been accused of human rights abuses. The United Nations Human Rights Council has found numerous incidents of torture, summary executions and attacks on cultural property. The Syrian government has been accused of committing the majority of war crimes, although independent verification has proven extremely difficult.[101] The conflict has the hallmarks of asectarian civil war; the leading government figures are Shia Alawites, whilst the rebels are mainly Sunni Muslims. Although neither side in the conflict has described sectarianism as playing a major role,[102] the UN Human Rights Council has warned that “entire communities are at risk of being forced out of the country or of being killed.”[103] The conflict has increasingly forced minorities to align themselves with one side or another, with Christians, Druze and Armenians largely siding with the government while Turkmen are mostly anti-government. Palestinians have split, while Kurds have fought against both rebels and government forces. Some Christian communities have formed militias to protect their neighborhoods from rebel fighters. International religious freedom groups have been drawing attention to the plight of Syria’s Christian minority at the hands of the rebel jihadist elements. Churches have been destroyed, killings and kidnapping reported, and Christians driven out of their homes. Almost the entire Christian population of Homs – 50,000-60,000 people – have fled the city.[104]

The Arab League, the Organization of Islamic CooperationGCC states, the USA and the European Union have condemned the use of violence by the Syrian government and applied sanctions against Syria. China and Russia have sought to avoid foreign intervention and called for a negotiated settlement. They have avoided condemning the Syrian government and disagree with sanctions. China has sought to engage with the Syrian opposition.[105] The Arab League and Organization of Islamic Cooperation have both suspended Syria’s membership.[106][107]

In June 2012 a number of high-ranking military and political personnel, such as Manaf Tlas[108] and Nawaf al-Fares, fled the country. Nawaf al-Fares stated in a video that this was in response to crimes against humanity by the Assad regime.[109] In August 2012, the country’s Deputy Prime Minister Qadri Jamil said President Assad’s resignation could not be a condition for starting peace negotiations.[110]

Syria-Turkish tension increased in October 2012, when Syrian mortar fire hit a Turkish border town and killed five civilians. Turkey returned fire and intercepted a Syrian plane allegedly carrying arms from Russia. Both countries banned each other’s planes from their air space. In the south, the Israeli military fired on Syrian units after alleging shelling from Syrian positions across the Golan Heights.

After heavy fighting, a fire destroyed much of the historic market of Aleppo in October. A UN-brokered ceasefire during the Islamic holiday of Eid al-Adha soon broke down as fighting and bomb attacks continued in several cities. By this time, the Syrian Arab Red Crescent estimated that 2.5 million people had been displaced within Syria, double the previous estimate. According to the anti-Assad Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, almost 44,000 people have died since the insurgency against began. According to a UN report, the humanitarian situation has been “aggravated by widespread destruction and razing of residential areas.” “Towns and villages across Latakia, Idlib, Hama and Dara’a governorates have been effectively emptied of their populations,” the report said. “Entire neighborhoods in southern and eastern Damascus, Deir al-Zour and Aleppo have been razed. The downtown of Homs city has been devastated.”[103]

In November 2012, the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces, commonly named the ‘Syrian National Coalition’ was formed at a meeting hosted by Qatar. Islamist militias in Aleppo, including the Al-Nusra and Al-Tawhid groups, refused to join the Coalition, denouncing it as a “conspiracy”. There is also concern over Muslim Brotherhood or Islamist domination of the anti-Assad coalition.[104] Despite this, in December 2012, the USA, the Gulf states, Turkey and many EU members moved quickly to recognise the coalition as the “sole legitimate representative of the Syrian people” rather than the former main rebel group, the Syrian National Council. The USA and Gulf states wanted a reshaped opposition coalition to include more Syrians who were fighting on the ground – as opposed to those who had been in exile for decades – and one that was more broadly representative of all Syria’s regions. At the same times, the U.S. has added al-Nusra – one of the most successful rebel military groups – to its terrorist list, citing ties to al-Qaeda.

On 20 December 2012, a UN Independent Commission of Inquiry said that Syria’s newest insurgent groups increasingly operate independently of the rebel command and some are affiliated with al-Qaeda. Many of the insurgents are foreign fighters; “Sunnis hailing from countries in the Middle East and North Africa,” and are linked to extremist groups.[103]

Granted there are a few apples but they are fewer in numbers compare to the many who are calling for democratic elections, education, housing and employment and the list goes on.

With the continuing conflict in the Middle East still gathering momentum I can’t see how can this coalition continue to give arms to the rebels can not be sustainable in giving aid. Then there is the Nationalist view from the hard liners that wants to continue with this dogma that the British, French owes them something. Hello er no way the Middle East got their independence after 1946 and whoever takes over the country will need to rebuild the country.

The hard reality is if a government or dictator cannot provide for the country then it needs to be called into question why and how this happen. They al can start with by stop paying a fee to officials to turn a blind eye to events and its about time the citizens start to hold government to account for their actions as they are there to protect their citizens.

The next question is the amount of Syrian dissidents in both in UK and France is unbelievable yet they are the ones that are feeding our governments sometimes false intelligence because of isms that goes back centuries and they are not held to account to date.

Granted most of them claimed political asylum and refugee status in order to enter the UK and France soil. Well it’s about time that they return to their country to support their fellow country men and women in their struggle to overthrow the Government and form a democratic or legitimate government and help stimulate their economy which will bring about law and order.

Given the current circumstances all the Syrian dissidents are not speaking to each other and the hurtful part of it is that they all have different agendas when they pass on intelligence to Western Governments just to keep their remain to stay status. So in a nutshell it’s hard to get proper intelligence to help Syria in moving forward.

It’s no wonder why that Syria is in the mess it is in today and the coalition wants to supply arms to the rebels and the United States of America deciding to get as much support from the backdoor of the United Nations Resolution when the time comes to get rid of  Bashar al-Assad at very short notice should they need the assistance of the Arab League countries. The other side of the coin is  a real danger of replacing the Syrian Government coupled by tribalism which is understandable by the UK and French Governments as they have learnt from the lessons of the past. My bet we have not heard the end of this as the media are now more concerned about Korea as events hotting up.

 

North and South Korea divide


OB-TX598_NSKORE_DV_20120726162902My thoughts on North and South Korea:

For as long as I can remember there has been unrest from Both North Korea and South Korea. Yet it’s a lovely country to visit and in my eyes it’s one country that is divided in their internal affairs or rather at logger heads with each other.

In most cases both China and Russia always come to the rescue of the North Korea. Some will say that they should stand by the North Korea comrades. I would advocate that the North Korean leader is following in his father footsteps and this is a dangerous ground. It’s about time that both North and South Korea return to the negotiating table to come to a mutual agreement which will lead to everlasting peace.
china-korea-unstable-crop-603x523I can understand why China would still get involved but it’s about time that both USA and China let Korea sort out their on self-determination for once for all as I’m of the opinion that the hard liners in the North are pulling the strings of their new young leader to test his leadership.

Granted there is a conflict of interest with China, and USA as each sides offer aid to both North and South Korea with aid but lets look back at the time when both North and South Korea (25 June 1950 – 27 July 1953)  Korean War

link.korea.map.cnnHistorically, the Korean Peninsula was occupied by only Korea and it was ruled by several different dynasties, as well as the Japanese and the Chinese. From 1910 to 1945 for example, Korea was controlled by the Japanese and it was mostly controlled from Tokyo as a part of the Empire of Japan.

Toward the end of World War II, the Soviet Union (USSR) declared war on Japan and by August 10, 1945, it occupied the northern part of the Korean Peninsula. At the end of the war, Korea was then divided into northern and southern portions at the 38th parallel by the Allies at the Potsdam Conference. The United States was to administer the southern part, while the USSR administered the northern area.

This division started the conflicts between the two areas of Korea because the northern region followed the USSR and became communist, while the south opposed this form of government and formed a strong anti-communist, capitalist government. As a result, in July of 1948, the anti-communist southern region drafted a constitution and began to hold national elections which were subjected to terrorism. However, on August 15, 1948, the Republic of Korea (South Korea) was officially founded and Syngman Rhee was elected as president. Shortly thereafter the USSR established a Communist North Korean Government called the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea) with Kim Il-Sung as its leader.

Once the two Koreas were formally established, Rhee and Il-Sung worked to reunify Korea. This caused conflicts though because each wanted to unify the area under their own political system and rival governments were established. In addition, North Korea was heavily supported by the USSR and China and fighting along the border of North and South Korea was not uncommon.

By 1950, the conflicts on the border of North and South Korea led to the beginning of the Korean War. On June 25, 1950, North Korea invaded South Korea and almost immediately the United Nations member states began to send aid to South Korea. North Korea was however, able to quickly advance south by September 1950. By October though, U.N. forces were able to again move the fighting north and on October 19, North Korea’s capital, Pyongyang was taken. In November, Chinese forces joined North Korean forces and the fighting was then moved back south and in January 1951, South Korea’s capital, Seoul was taken.

In the months that followed, heavy fighting ensued but the center of the conflict was near the 38th parallel. Although peace negotiations began in July of 1951, fighting continued throughout 1951 and 1952. On July 27 1953, peace negotiations ended and the Demilitarized Zone was formed. Shortly thereafter, an Armistice Agreement was signed by the Korean People’s Army, the Chinese People’s Volunteers and the United Nations Command, which was led by the U.S. South Korea however, never signed the agreement and to this day an official peace treaty has never been signed between North and South Korea.

Today’s Tensions

Since the end of the Korean War, tensions between North and South Korea have remained. For example according to CNN, in 1968, North Korea unsuccessfully attempted to assassinate South Korea’s president. In 1983, a bombing in Myanmar that was linked to North Korea, killed 17 South Korean officials and in 1987, North Korea was accused of bombing a South Korean airplane. Fighting has also repeatedly occurred both land and sea borders because each nation is continually trying to unify the peninsula with its own system of government.

In 2010, tensions between North and South Korea were especially high after a South Korean warship was sunk on March 26. South Korea claims that North Korea sunk the Cheonan in the Yellow Sea off the South Korean island of Baengnyeong. North Korea denied responsibility for the attack and tensions between the two nations have been high ever since.

Most recently on November 23, 2010, North Korea launched an artillery attack on the South Korean island of Yeonpyeong. North Korea claims that South Korea was conducting “war maneuvers” but South Korea states that it was conducting maritime military drills. Yeonpyeong was also attacked in January 2009. It is located near a maritime border between the countries that North Korea wants moved south. Since the attacks South Korea began practicing military drills in early December.I have nothing against for any country to be self reliant but when it comes to protect our country with Trident Missiles I somehow believe it is time to come up with other alternatives. One the one hand the coalition alleges to be saving money on the budget and cutting our beloved Welfare State they managed to find funding on killing machines which does not add up.

I sometimes wonder each time North Korea says they will do whatever the USA plays into their hands by responding to the north by moving missiles defence shields to Guam.In light of recent comments from both President Obama and Prime Minister David Cameron it’s no wondering why both see Korea(North) was a threat yet they more aid to Africa and what they give to Korea is a mere pittance. Here comes the interesting part the United States of America only interest is to eradicate communism which the USA has a long history just look at Cuba and Guantanamo Bay

I have nothing against for any country to be self reliant but when it comes to protect our country with Trident Missiles I somehow believe it is time to come up with other alternatives. One the one hand the coalition alleges to be saving money on the budget and cutting our beloved Welfare State they managed to find funding on killing machines which does not add up.

Some would say that I’m taking soundings from Campaign Against Nuclear Disarmament (CND) let me make it quite clear which I’m sure many CAD members will tell you that I’m no longer a member for the past 23 years and I can confirm that their ideology has some way to go in taking the lead in this field but then there have been many who like me who joined but decided to take other directions in life like bring up children and more interest in family life and bread and butter issues. Yet I commend them for keeping the struggle alive which many don’t do enough my CND friends and comrades still enjoy a gathering once in a blue moon.

Some would say that I’m taking soundings from Campaign Against Nuclear Disarmament (CND) let me make it quite clear which I’m sure many (CND) members will inform you that I’m no longer a member for the past 23 years and I can confirm that their ideology has some way to go in taking the lead in this field but then there have been many who like me who joined but decided to take other directions in life like bring up children and more interest in family life and bread and butter issues. Yet I commend them for keeping the struggle alive which many don’t do enough my CND friends and comrades still enjoy a gathering once in a blue moon.

There are many of us both in China and Korea would love to return to our beloved country one day but as it stands we can not because when we speak of our land(China and Korea) we can not forget the about the Human Rights Abuse caused by the dictators with no proper democratic elections where the Republic of China and Korea citizens can choose our future leaders and be able to speak freely without the fear of being arrested and openly being executed by the regimes.

Many Chinese and Koreans abroad who speaks of the days of the past but it’s up to our future generations to take on the changes to help rebuild our lands and to ensure that we have free elections and prosperity to both China and Korea whist most of us are free in the Western World to be educated lets not forget that there are those who does not have the opportunities in both China and Korea as they not belong to the elite and rich. whilst the rich are allowed to move with some freedom there are those who are not so fortunate as we continue our struggle the answer is yes we can by not through education but through mass peaceful protest and by letting the UN into both countries to monitor the situation and by leading by example.

With this in mind  I take leave by leaving you all with a song by Bob Marley:

Until the philosophy which hold one race superior
And another
Inferior
Is finally
And permanently
Discredited
And abandoned –
Everywhere is war –
Me say war.

That until there no longer
First class and second class citizens of any nation
Until the colour of a man’s skin
Is of no more significance than the colour of his eyes –
Me say war.

That until the basic human rights
Are equally guaranteed to all,
Without regard to race –
Dis a war.

That until that day
The dream of lasting peace,
World citizenship
Rule of international morality
Will remain in but a fleeting illusion to be pursued,
But never attained –
Now everywhere is war – war.

And until the ignoble and unhappy regimes
that hold our brothers in Angola,
In Mozambique,
South Africa
Sub-human bondage
Have been toppled,
Utterly destroyed –
Well, everywhere is war –
Me say war.

War in the east,
War in the west,
War up north,
War down south –
War – war –
Rumours of war.
And until that day,
The African continent
Will not know peace,
We Africans will fight – we find it necessary –
And we know we shall win
As we are confident
In the victory

Of good over evil –
Good over evil, yeah!
Good over evil –
Good over evil, yeah!
Good over evil –
Good over evil, yeah!

Changes into UK benefits system from the 1st -28th April 2013



ap_obama_newtown_shooting_jp_121214_wg
Quote of the day:

“If the people cannot trust their government to do the job for which it exists – to protect them and to promote their common welfare – all else is lost”.(President Obama)

My thoughts on the changes into UK benefits system from the 1st -28th April 2013:

On the 1st April 2013 will be remembered for two things April Fool’s Day and the other is the changes of our welfare system the following will come into effect they are:

Bedroom tax introduced

Thousands lose access to legal aid

Council tax benefit passes into local control

NHS commissioning changes for ever

Regulation of financial industry changes

50p tax rate scrapped for high earners

Disability living allowance scrapped

Benefit uprating begins

Welfare benefit cap

Universal credit introduced

bedroomtaxevictionsIn light what has been mentioned I say welcome back to the modern day of Thatcherism under the guise of the coalition government who has are hell bent on making the very low paid suffer to appease their party donors from both Conservative and Libdems. So far we have witnessed a number of Bedroom Tax demonstration and rallies across the UK which has been very peaceful and supported by the opposition parties across the UK. Whilst millionaires and expats endorsing their full support to the very ideology of the coalition.

Yet hardliner are the ones who are pulling the heartstrings on telling their leader what policies they have to implement. Frankly the many are suffering whilst the rich donors are robbing their hands which remind me of the story of Robin Hood but the difference is the crown ordering its servants to take from the poor to give the rich in the name of the king.

The tax financially penalises social and council tenants deemed to have a “spare” room – or forces them to move to a smaller property. If tenants refuse they face eviction. It will hit 650,000 people.

LvLuXLlrVEJWbBz-556x313-noPadAngry campaigners have sprung up across Britain, and on 30 April 2013 we made our voices heard. Campaigners assembled in Whitehall, London, and placed banners on the railings of Downing Street reading: “Axe the tax” and “David Cameron, blood on your hands.”

This helps to feed into the ideology of the right wing of the Tory Party cuts and how the poor and ordinary working people are being punished by self interest of greed and venality of the rich. Perhaps one of the main reasons the bedroom tax has generated many rumblings of a nationwide and national campaigns is because it violates our human rights.

corporate-fat-catA home, be it bought or rented, represents more than just shelter in our lives. This is even more so in the case of the poorest in society, people for whom moving every few years is not possible and, for many, undesirable even if it were. Some have argued that mobility is a luxury the poor cannot afford. In its place are community, roots, a sense of belonging. The millionaires, with their multiple houses and ability to move and travel on a whim, can never hope to understand.

For the most socially vulnerable in society a home is the one place they are entitled to feel completely secure and safe in a society in which they are blamed for their plight rather than regarded as victims of it. A home also represents a history, where children are brought up, parents pass away, in which good and bad times are shared. It is essential to a sense of being and self-worth, not to mention dignity. These things are under attack with the bedroom tax.

This is why the sheer cruelty of it transcends words such as iniquitous or unfair. It is nothing short of a violation of the human rights of those affected, compounded by the fact that it will have a disproportionate impact on the disabled and elderly and sick. The stress being suffered by its victims leading up to its implementation will already have been immeasurable, leaving them feeling even more vulnerable and isolated in the face of decisions being made affecting their lives in which they have no input whatever.

Securing rented accommodation in the private sector, which has already seen demand spike in recent years due to the near collapse of the mortgage market as a consequence of the financial crisis caused by the world of banking which is the end result of this recession, is a far from simple process. The demand for one-bedroom flats in particular far outstrips supply in every major city. recently I was in the position of seeking a one-bedroom flat in the public sector and as the council was knocking the tower block which I lived in for many years  it proved a horrible task of relocating to a different part of Birmingham.

To add insult to injury, the requirement of upfront fees and deposit that letting agencies demand means that anyone without savings is burnt at the very first hurdle. For people forced into this position as a consequence of the bedroom tax there is also the ludicrous situation whereby local councils will end up putting even more taxpayers’ money into the pockets of private landlords to meet rents on one-bedroom accommodation that are on average higher than they are in the social housing sector for two bedrooms.

I criticise the housing crisis at the behest of both Conservative and Labour Governments. This has brought the many to the point where, according to Shelter, two million households are currently waiting for social housing in England and Scotland, many of them languishing in temporary accommodation with young children. The solution to this crisis is not to force people already in social housing onto the mercy of the private sector but an emergency national programme of house-building in order to meet demand. Attempting to solve one human crisis by precipitating another describes a country governed by an incompetent government . This is a policy that has either been carefully calibrated to punish the poor – part of the mass experiment in human despair fashioned