Category Archives: Foreign Affairs

Nazanin sentenced to ANOTHER year in Iranian prison – this is what happens when you ask a Tory for help

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe: this wrongly-jailed woman has become a pawn in an international power struggle.

This poor woman might have been freed years ago if Boris Johnson hadn’t become involved and said the wrong thing at every opportunity.

For clarity:

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has been sentenced to a further year in prison and a one-year travel ban after being found guilty of propaganda against the regime in Iran.

Her lawyer said she was accused of taking part in a protest in London 12 years ago and speaking to the BBC Persian service.

Johnson was asked to help arrange the release of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe when he was Foreign Secretary, way back in 2017 after she was first imprisoned in Iran on a false charge of sedition.

Idiot that he is, our current prime minister botched it to such an extent that she was told she may face new charges.

Now she has been convicted – again.

Nazanin’s husband Richard now believes that she is a pawn in negotiations over £400 million owed by the UK to Iran after a former ruler of that country, the Shah, paid for tanks that were never delivered because of the 1979 revolution in that country.

The current issue seems to be about interest payable on the debt. Johnson doesn’t want to pay the figure demanded by Iran, one expects.

I wrote last month that I don’t think Johnson cares what happens to Nazanin – he’d rather keep the cash.

That opinion can only be strengthened by the recent claim that he said he would rather see “bodies piled high in their thousands” than order another economic lockdown that harmed business profits.

Source: Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe sentenced to a year in Iran prison – BBC News

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Hypocrisy of UK MPs sanctioned for criticising China human rights abuses

Hypocrite: Iain Duncan Smith oversaw the deaths of thousands of unemployed, sick and disabled people who were victimised by his ‘reforms’ to the UK’s benefit system. How dare he criticise another country for doing the same to its people?

Shame on the Tory MPs who are whining because China has sanctioned them for highlighting that country’s abuses of the Uighurs!

Yes, you read that right. Shame on them, because they are hypocrites.

They seem to think it is perfectly reasonable to claim moral superiority over the government of another country for abusing its citizens’ human rights, while turning a blind eye to the fact that they are doing exactly the same to the people of the UK.

Tory MPs Iain Duncan Smith, Nusrat Ghani, Tim Loughton, Neil O’Brien and Tom Tugendhat all merrily voted in support of the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill that will strip many of us of our human rights – and remove from all of us the right to protest in any meaningful way against further Tory atrocities against us.

Duncan Smith is well-known as an advocate of harm against his fellow UK citizens, having presided over the deaths of many thousands of benefit claimants – that occurred for no documented reason – under the cruel regime he imposed at the Department for Work and Pensions. But now he’s saying

Those of us who live free lives under the rule of law must speak for those who have no voice.

He was quite happy to deprive benefit claimants of their voices – and to look the other way when his policies deprived them of their lives. In their thousands, remember – not just one or two mistakes.

Attacking human rights abuses anywhere else in the world must be, for these people, an act of abominable hypocrisy.

Note also the typical reaction of the bully: these are people who sneered at us for protesting against the Police Bill and then went right ahead and voted to strip us of our rights – but when the shoe is on the other foot and they’re being singled out by China, suddenly they’re whining about how unfair it is.

Boris Johnson is, of course, the worst of the lot.

Despite being omitted from the list of UK MPs selected for sanction by China, he had the cheek to say

Freedom to speak out in opposition to abuse is fundamental and I stand firmly with them.

Fine words from the prime minister whose sickeningly draconian Police Bill strips his own people of that very freedom.

I do not wish to defend China. It’s treatment of the Uighurs is vile and should be opposed by all those of good faith. But these Tories are not opposing China in good faith. They’re trying to steal undeserved good publicity by attacking a country whose human rights abuses are – currently – worse than their own.

But it doesn’t work that way – or at least it shouldn’t.

Any attack on anybody’s rights as a human being is an attack against all of us – everywhere.

Johnson and his other little Tories might think they can take what moral high ground there is to be gained because their abuses aren’t quite as bad. But we know where that thinking leads.

The abuses become worse.

The number of people being oppressed grows.

The UK’s Tory government already fits every description of a fascist state that is worth reading. If you’re not feeling Johnson’s jackboot on your face yet, it’s just a matter of time.

So don’t waste any sympathy on these liars. They don’t deserve it.

Source: Uighurs: China bans UK MPs after abuse sanctions – BBC News

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£2.6 million Downing Street briefing room was built by Russians. Not ‘very sensible’!

The new government media briefing room: your local parish council could have done a better job, and cheaper, but Boris Johnson gave the contract to a company based in a hostile state.

After This Site’s article yesterday showing that Boris Johnson is trying to hide the idiocy of his decisions by claiming they are “very sensible”, this:

His government paid £2.6 million to a Russian company for construction of the new media briefing room – in Downing Street, the heart of the UK government.

Despite being sued for unlawfully withholding details of contracts, the Tory government has refused to say whether the work was put out to competitive tender. It should have been, because the contract was not awarded as part of an emergency.

In fact, no details of the contract with Russian-owned Megahertz have been published.

Megahertz carried out the main work on the project, including installing computers, cameras, microphones and a control desk. Its owner Okno-TV has previously carried out similar technical work for Russian state-controlled broadcasters Russia Today, Channel One, and Public Television of Russia.

It has not been suggested that the company is influenced by the Russian government, but the question has to be asked:

Why did Boris Johnson hire a company from a country that has been designated a “hostile state” to build a communications hub for the UK government?

It’s a security nightmare.

And, after the Salisbury poisonings, a public relations disaster.

Worse still, the briefing room itself looks amateurish.

Advance photos of the space, released before it goes into daily use, show a layout that could have been put together at a village hall, with a central podium backed by two Union flags and a TV screen on one side facing rows of the kind of chairs you see stacked at the side of your local meeting-room.

It doesn’t look like a £2.6m facility. Let’s be honest, it doesn’t look like it cost £2,000.

Admittedly, the broadcasting equipment was probably expensive. But, coming from a Russian firm, who knows what might be included in it, alongside what Johnson asked for?

The work also comes after a Tory government had to end the involvement of Chinese firm Huawei in the rollout of 5G telecommunications in the UK.

So This Writer is in a rare position of agreement with Labour’s Chris Bryant, who chairs the all-party Parliamentary group on Russia, who said,

What shocks me most is that the Johnson government seems to have learnt nothing about the involvement in sensitive UK projects of companies with [links] to autocratic regimes, whether in Russia or in China.

Fundamental to the whole issue, of course, is the fact that Johnson spaffed this cash to Russia while do the dirty on nurses by giving them a pay cut.

It is clear that Johnson’s claim that he could not afford to pay any more to the people who saved so many from Covid-19 is bunkum; he’s got money to burn.

The problem is that his priorities are wrong.

Source: Exclusive: Russian-Owned Firm Played Key Role In Downing Street Media Refit | HuffPost UK

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Gibraltar edges closer to Spain with post-Brexit tax treaty

Gibraltar: Theresa May let the Spanish use the Rock to roll right over her. Now it is drifting towards Spain (politically, not physically).

Is it good or bad?

The UK government has signed a new treaty with Spain over Gibraltar. No, it doesn’t transfer ownership of the Rock back to the Spanish, but it does align their tax systems.

Some might think this is inconsequential – but it puts Gibraltar in a closer position to Spain (and the EU), and will prevent it from being used as a tax haven.

Gibraltar voted to remain in the European Union in the 2016 referendum and the result – forcing the UK to leave – created considerable issues for the small community there.

Many commentators see this treaty – the first explicitly over Gibraltar between the UK and Spain in around 308 years – as a first step towards handing the Rock back.

Even if it isn’t, it seems likely the UK government will face criticism – if anybody gets to hear about it; the British mainstream media have ignored the treaty (in accordance with the apparent drift towards fascism in this country – the only news the public gets is what the country’s masters decide may be permitted).

Spain demanded a free hand to negotiate the future of Gibraltar with the UK back in 2018, raising concerns that its government believed it would be better-able to have the Rock returned to it without the other EU nations holding it back.

I said at the time that a threat to the UK’s ownership of even one territory could create a cascade effect in which attempts are made to take many of them away at once – and the UK’s military capacity may no longer be great enough to prevent them all.

But the loss of even one will harm the country’s international reputation and accelerate its decline into backwater, “has-been” status – from which the world’s rising players may not allow it to rise for many lifetimes.

Theresa May, prime minister at the time, followed this by allowing Spain a veto over Gibraltar benefiting from any future trade deal between the UK and the EU. This prompted Spanish politicians to claim that the UK would have to open talks over “joint sovereignty”.

That hasn’t happened yet and, personally, This Writer couldn’t care less if a few tax avoiders have their noses put out of joint, but I wonder how it will affect business there.

An economic downturn could be all the prompting needed to turn residents away from a UK that they may rightly feel has betrayed them.

Source: Spain-Gibraltar: Gibraltar Treaty

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Tory idiocy means that on Mother’s Day, mother Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe was back in Iranian court on new charge

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe: this wrongly-jailed woman has become a pawn in an international power struggle.

This is what happens when you appeal to Boris Johnson for help.

Johnson was asked to help arrange the release of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe when he was Foreign Secretary, way back in 2017 after she was first imprisoned in Iran on a false charge of sedition.

Idiot that he is, our current prime minister botched it to such an extent that she was told she may face new charges.

It seems his untrue statement that she had been training journalists is not the reason she has been brought back to court. This Writer wonders whether it induced the Iranians to search for other reasons to imprison her, though.

She appeared in court on March 14 on a new charge of propaganda against the regime – apparently based on allegations that she took part in a demonstration outside the Iranian embassy in London 12 years ago and gave an interview to the BBC Persian service.

Nazanin’s husband Richard now believes that she is a pawn in negotiations over £400 million owed by the UK to Iran after a former ruler of that country, the Shah, paid for tanks that were never delivered because of the 1979 revolution in that country.

The current issue seems to be about interest payable on the debt. Johnson doesn’t want to pay the figure demanded by Iran, one expects.

So Nazanin stays in Iran – if not in prison (because of Covid-19) then under arrest.

Johnson doesn’t care. He’d rather have the cash.

Meanwhile his propaganda machine is trying to pretend that his government is still doing everything it can – and failing:

How sad that this Tory government’s failure to protect a woman should happen alongside the backlash over police oppression of women at the Sarah Everard vigil – on an annual day set aside to celebrate women.

Nitpickers can grip that it was Mother’s Day and not all women are mothers. Nazanin is, though – and she is separated from her child because of the wrong decisions of the UK’s prime minister.

Many of the people at Clapham Common were mothers – some were there with their daughters. No doubt all were there because they want their children to live in safer communities than we have now, due to Tory misrule.

So a day of celebration has turned – for many – into a day of anger and bitterness.

Source: Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe in Tehran court on new charge – BBC News

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Johnson insults Turing with foreign education scheme on the cheap

Insult AND injury: if the injustice he suffered while he was alive wasn’t bad enough – and remember, it drove him to suicide – it seems Boris Johnson is trying to make it worse by linking one of the UK’s greatest minds with a scheme that will actually prevent students from achieving their potential.

We always knew the UK backed out of the ‘Erasmus’ scheme, for UK students to study in the EU, for only one reason: to save money.

Now the scale of Boris Johnson’s cheapness is becoming clear.

The new scheme, named after Bletchley Park code-cracker Alan Turing, will send students all over the world, rather than just into the EU.

But it will not pay for their tuition. Instead, universities are to be urged to agree tuition fee “waivers” with their counterparts abroad. Does anybody really think that’s going to happen?

Nor will the new scheme pay travel costs for UK students to study abroad – except in the case of students from the most disadvantaged backgrounds (but we know that the Tories are biased against such students from last year’s ‘A’ level results so it seems unlikely that any travel costs will be paid at all).

The European Commission had paid up to £1,315 for UK students to study in the EU, so this will seriously hinder the ability of poorer students to travel.

Oh, and just for good measure, the living allowance has been slashed – by a fifth, according to the Scottish National Party.

Originally, Johnson had promised that UK students would remain part of the far better-funded Erasmus.

But it seems clear that he changed his mind when he realised there was an opportunity to cut spending – and victimise poorer UK citizens at the same time.

(Rich students will still be able to study abroad if they want, because they can rely on the bank of mummy and daddy.)

Instead, he announced the new Turing scheme, doing his best to make it sound like a huge stride forward into a brighter, wider world:

In fact, Johnson is pushing us into darkness and isolation.

Source: New ‘Erasmus’ scheme will not pay tuition or travel costs and living allowance slashed | The Independent

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Tories say they have to cut aid to Yemen because of Covid crisis financial pressure. But there isn’t any!

A destroyed school in Yemen in 2017 – three years after the conflict there began – where a Saudi-led coalition has been accused of killing thousands of civilians.

The Johnson government has cut aid to war-torn Yemen by as much as 60 per cent, claiming it cannot afford the cost because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

But the entire cost of government measures to deal with Covid-19 has been paid already, with money the government created specifically for that purpose. There is no financial pressure at all.

Meanwhile, sales of weapons – to the Saudi-led coalition that has been accused of killing many thousands of Yemeni civilians in the seven years since the conflict began in 2014 – continue unabated.

So a decision to cut life-saving aid, quoting

 “recent global challenges”

that have created

“a difficult financial context for us all”

is a decision based on a lie. No wonder 101 charities have condemned it.

Source: Yemen conflict: UK cuts aid citing financial pressure from Covid – BBC News

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Trump acquitted in second impeachment trial – but not by the court of public opinion

Did anybody think Donald Trump would be found guilty by the Republican-dominated US Senate?

Impeached for the second time in his presidency – for inciting the Capitol riot in January that led to the deaths of five people – the evidence was considered by the 100-strong Senate, whose membership is evenly balanced between Republicans (Trump’s party) and Democrats.

For Trump to be convicted, a simple majority was not enough; the rules state that two-thirds of the Senate would have to find against him.

And here’s the result:

Final vote tally 57-43 but Senate fails to achieve two-thirds majority needed to convict former president of incitement.

Seven Republicans voted against their now-former president but it wasn’t enough. The others supported Trump.

It is suggested that they would have done so, no matter what evidence was put before them. That is a matter for their consciences.

The court of public opinion is another matter, though.

And the reaction of the people seems clear:

 

 

“The only thing easier to buy in the USA than a gun is a Republican Senator.”

Fair comment?

Source: Donald Trump acquitted in second impeachment trial | Donald Trump | The Guardian

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Tories had five years to free Nazanin; now they can only hope she’ll be released on schedule

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe: did Boris Johnson ever give a damn about this UK citizen, wrongly imprisoned in Iran?

What a pathetic defeat for the Conservatives – and for Boris Johnson in particular.

You’ll remember that Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe was imprisoned by the Iranian authorities on trumped-up charges in 2016 – for five years.

The case was brought to the UK’s Foreign Secretary – at the time, Boris Johnson – in November 2017. And the first thing he did was make the situation worse.

He said Nazanin had been arrested because she had been “teaching journalism”. In fact, that was the reason for her arrest – a reason that she denies (the Iranian authorities related it to activism against the state).

He later tried to claim that his words had not been clear and he had meant even if she had been teaching journalism, that would not have justified her arrest. But this was not true – one of many lies he has spoken on his way to the top.

The Iranian authorities said they would use Johnson’s words against Nazanin, but he refused to apologise for worsening the situation.

Next it was rumoured that Johnson was going to pay Iran £450 million owed to that country but unpaid due to international sanctions, in return for Nazanin’s freedom…

Then it was said that he had put the brakes on that scheme for fear of upsetting US President Trump.

Nazanin went on hunger strike. While she starved, Johnson (now prime minister) was working on his suntan, on the billionaires’ playground island of Mustique.

Now, her prison sentence is due to end on March 7. And what is the UK government saying?

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said that he would leave “no stone unturned” in his quest to have Zaghari-Ratcliffe released on time.

How pathetic. How humiliating. And what a let-down for Nazanin’s family, including husband Richard Ratcliffe who placed his hopes in the Tories and had them dashed on the rocks of international diplomacy.

There’s no guarantee that she will be released. The authorities in Iran have threatened to lengthen her sentence, or sentence her on new charges, on several occasions.

That will be an even greater humiliation for the Tories. Or it would be, if they cared.

Nazanin’s family do care. But the politicians probably think their agony of waiting is nobody’s business but their own.

Source: Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe hopes to be freed ‘within weeks’ as the end of her prison sentence nears

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/mike-sivier-libel-fight/


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Dutch Rutte government resigns over child welfare fraud scandal – Vox Political Scrapbook

I brought this to your attention yesterday, remarking on the similarity between this and the wrong done to UK child benefit claimants by the Conservatives, with their so-called ‘rape clause’.

Now this has happened:

Mark Rutte’s government has stepped down after thousands of families were wrongly accused of child welfare fraud and told to pay money back.

Families suffered an “unparalleled wrong”, Dutch MPs decided, with tax officials, politicians, judges and civil servants leaving them powerless.

An “unparalleled wrong”.

The Dutch can recognise when their government mistreats their benefit claimants abominably.

Why can’t we show the same perception, here in the UK?

Source: Dutch Rutte government resigns over child welfare fraud scandal – BBC News

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/mike-sivier-libel-fight/


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The Livingstone Presumption is now available
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HWG PrintHWG eBook

Health Warning: Government! is now available
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The first collection, Strong Words and Hard Times,
is still available in either print or eBook format here:

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