VisitAberdeen is representing the Granite City at European Incentive Business Travel and Meetings (EIBTM) expo, in Barcelona. The three day annual conference takes place between 18 and 20 November, and is an opportunity for Aberdeen to increase its share of the business tourism market.
Aberdeen will be showcased as a buoyant business travel destination to over 9000 global industry buyers in the meetings and events industry looking for cities suitable to host their events.
Jenni Fraser, Business Development Manager and Andrew Pratt, Business Tourism Executive of VisitAberdeen will be networking with decision makers and organisers of business travel to explain why they should make Aberdeen their choice of destination.
“The quality of the 9000 buyers attending EIBTM and the decision making authority they hold is what marks this event out from other business travel industry expos. I will be selling Aberdeen at a number of pre-scheduled appointments with leading buyers and at networking events.”
As the oil and gas capital of Europe, Aberdeen has a strong pedigree in delivering meetings and events and with inbound international business tourism on the rise, Aberdeen will play a central role in attracting further economic benefits. In 2013, international business tourists to Scotland spent £296.6 million during their visits, which represents a 20.9% rise on the previous year.
By attending the EIBTM expo, Jenni Fraser and Andrew Pratt, ensure that Aberdeen remains at the forefront of influential buyers’ minds.
In addition to increasing expenditure, there is also a rise in the number of incoming business trips: up 5.3 % on last year and a growth of 6.6% in total number of nights spent in Scotland during business trips.
“People attending business meetings and events in Scotland are increasingly enhancing their stay by experiencing the culture that their host cities have to offer.
“This opens up opportunities for local leisure providers to capitalise on the disposable income business travel visitors are willing to spend. Aberdeen is a city which has the support services to make a business trip a diverse experience, with award winning restaurants and cocktail bars, historic Old Aberdeen and bespoke outdoor activities in conjunction with the capacity to hold large and intimate scale events.
“Aberdeen is widely accessible to the international community due to the long established routes to key European hub airports in Frankfurt, Heathrow, Amsterdam and London therefore it is easy and convenient to reach Aberdeen from across the globe.
“With the new four star Village Urban Resort, opening this December, along with seven more brand new hotels there is rising room capacity and choice in the city which will be central in sustaining Aberdeen as a top business travel and meetings destination.”
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In 2011, Jonathan Russell wrote three articles on the Libyan conflict in Aberdeen Voice, in part because of the lack of public outcry. Here he presents the last part of his four article series.
Libya is an artificial state like much of the Middle East and Africa, carved out in the colonial era of early 20th century by Italy. After independence in 1951 Libya was ruled by a constitutional and hereditary monarchy under King Idris, Libya’s only monarch, who presided over an essentially tribal society.
On 1 September 1969, a small group of military officers led by 27-year-old army officer Muammar Qaddafi staged a coup d’état against King Idris, launching the Libyan Revolution.
Following the murder of Qaddafi in October 2011 and the collapse of his allies, the National Transitional Council (NTC) were recognised by the NATO powers at the same time however countries like Cuba and Venezuela who had offered to broker negotiations left their embassy’s in Libya.
The NTC from its outset was dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood who are now, of course, out of favour with their erstwhile NATO backers.
In August 2012 a new Assembly was elected dominated again by the Brotherhood as in Morsi’s Egypt or Tunisia. The Muslim Brotherhoods ally Nuri Abu Sahmain is President of Libya. Mohammed Magarie replaced Mostafa Abdeljali in August last year as Head of State and Ali Zeidin replaced Abdurrahim al-Keib as Prime Minister in November last year following internal and external difficulties.
The latest news on March 12th throws Libya into even greater turmoil. Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zeiden was deposed on March 12th and fled to Malta, the Maltese government confirmed, on a stopover toward a reported destination of Germany.
Zeidan fled his country immediately following a vote of no confidence which ended his roughly one-and-a-half-year term as prime minister of the North African country. The hasty departure of the ex-diplomat rendered moot any attempts to arrest him.
Zeidan, who during his term as prime minister was once kidnapped and held for hours by armed militants, failed in recent days to stop rebels in the country’s east from controlling the sale of crude oil there. In spite of armed forces loyal to the government ensuring that a tanker called “Morning Glory” remained in harbor in Al-Sidra – the city has been held for months it left port and escaped flying a North Korean flag.
Back in Tripoli the blunder turned the mood in the provisional parliament against Zeidan. The subsequent no confidence vote was later criticized by Libyan media as a “trick” on the former prime minister.
Rebel leader Ibrahim Jathran now appears to be the winner in the war of nerves over the strategically vital oil harbors. Until July 2013 he was commander of the unit sent to protect the oil installations, explains Libya expert Amanda Kadlec of the Chatham House think tank in London.
“This gave him ease of access to all the port facilities throughout Libya”
His supporters have occupied three terminals, she says, and he has called for a separate government for a portion of eastern Libya. It remains unclear how many fighters Jathran commands, but according to Kadlec, reports range anywhere from 800 to 20,000.
Numerous accounts confirm the reality that lawless bands, armed by NATO during the war with modern weapons and which include foreign and local Al-Qaeda and other jihadists, are carrying out daily bombings across the country in the struggle for local control. Tripoli itself has numerous armed militias controlling various sections of the capital.
The general picture in Libya is that of developing armed struggle between local tribal militias and the Brotherhood that controls the central government with leaders in the provinces of Cyrenaica and Fezzan seeking to break away from Tripoli.
Congress has summoned militias allied to the Brotherhood to the capital to try to prevent a coup. As a result, the main opposition party, the centre-right National Forces Alliance, has deserted Congress together with several smaller ethnic parties, leaving the Brotherhood’s Justice and Construction party heading a government with crumbling authority.
The July 2013 coup in Egypt against Morsi has further weakened the government which had intended to support Morsi with finance from oil revenues.
Libyans are increasingly at the mercy of militias who act outside the law, demand bribes for services and help perpetrate rampant corruption. Popular protests against militiamen have been met with gunfire; 31 demonstrators were shot dead and many others wounded as they protested outside the barracks of “the Libyan Shield Brigade” in the eastern capital Benghazi in June last year and a further 44 were killed in Tripoli on 8th September.
The unreported Libyan diaspora
Prior to the 2011 “revolution” Libya had a population of 5,613,380 of whom roughly 2 million are now either internally displaced in camps or outside of the country. Official statistics suggest that 1.2million are now living in Tunisia, 400,000 in Egypt and 30,000 in Chad with others scattered around the world. We hear virtually nothing in our media about this and very little about the deteriorating situation inside Libya.
Libya exports terrorism
According to the New York Times, 13th June 2013, some of the more militant Islamic factions are now fighting in Syria and arms for the Islamic groups are coming from Libya.
However, Qaddafi’s assertion in 2011 that the rebels included Al-Qaeda groups was dismissed by the Western media. Prior to the conflict Al-Qaeda sympathisers had trained in Afghanistan then, on their return to Libya, started a bombing campaign. This led to arrests and imprisonments but ACCOR they were let out on amnesty largely according to the Amnesty 2010 report on Libya due to the influence of Qaddafi’s son Salif.
Though the NATO intervention against Qaddafi was justified as a humanitarian response to the threat that Qaddafi’s tanks and planes would slaughter dissidents in Benghazi, the international community has chosen to ignore the continuing and escalating violence. The foreign media, which once filled the hotels of Benghazi and Tripoli, have likewise paid little attention to the near collapse of the central government.
The strikers in the eastern region Cyrenaica, which contains most of Libya’s oil, are part of a broader movement seeking more autonomy and blaming the government for spending oil revenues in the west of the country. Foreigners have mostly fled Benghazi since the American ambassador, Chris Stevens, was murdered in the US consulate by jihadi militiamen in September 2012.
Violence has worsened since then with Libya’s military prosecutor Colonel Yussef Ali al-Asseifar, in charge of investigating assassinations of politicians, soldiers and journalists, himself assassinated by a bomb in his car on 29 August last year.
Rule by local militias is also spreading anarchy around the capital. Ethnic Berbers, whose militia led the assault on Tripoli in 2011, temporarily took over the parliament building in Tripoli. The government called on the Supreme Security Committee, made up of former anti-Qaddafi militiamen nominally under the control of the interior ministry, to restore order.
At least 19 prisoners received gunshot shrapnel wounds, with one inmate saying “they were shooting directly at us through the metal bars”. There have been several mass prison escapes this year in Libya including 1,200 escaping from a prison after a riot in Benghazi in July.
The Interior Minister, Mohammed al-Sheikh, resigned last year in frustration at being unable to do his job, saying in a memo sent to Mr Zeidan that he blamed him for failing to build up the army and the police. He accused the government, which is largely dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood, of being weak and dependent on tribal support.
Other critics point out that a war between two Libyan tribes, the Zawiya and the Wirrshifana, is going on just 15 miles from the Prime Minister’s office.
the terror network only retreats to remote areas, regroups and eventually bounces back
The surrounding area both Sudan and Mali and of course Syria have been greatly affected by Qaddafi’s fall. There has been civil wars in Mali and conflict in the Sudan. Al Qaeda has used Libya as a training ground for sending combatants into Syria.
In the rocky mountains and uncovered wastes of south-western Libya, al-Qaeda’s North African branch has established a haven after French and West African forces drove them out of their fledgling Islamic state in northern Mali a year ago.
Now, according to interviews with local soldiers, residents, officials and Western diplomats, it is restocking weapons and mining disaffected minorities for new recruits as it prepares to re-launch attacks.
It is an al-Qaeda pattern seen around the world, in hot spots such as Yemen, Somalia, and Afghanistan and increasingly in North Africa: seemingly defeated, the terror network only retreats to remote areas, regroups and eventually bounces back – pointing to the extreme difficulties involved in countering their growth and influence.
On Saturday January 18th 2014, a group of heavily armed fighters stormed an air force base outside the city of Sabha in southern Libya, expelling forces loyal to the “government” of Prime Minister Ali Zeidan, and occupying the base. This report has been confirmed by the Saudi Gazette in an article dated 22nd January:
“The Tamenhint air base 30 km northeast of Sebha is reported to be back in pro-Qaddafi hands after Tebu forces from Murzuk who were guarding it withdrew. They unilaterally pulled out Monday evening [Jan. 20] claiming that the government was deliberately exploiting clashes in Sebha between Tebus and Awlad Sulaiman in order to divert attention from moves to replace it with a new administration.”
At the same time, reports from inside the country began to trickle in that the green flag of the Jamahiriya was flying over a number of cities throughout the country. Despite the dearth of verifiable information – the government in Tripoli has provided only vague details and corroboration – one thing is certain: the war for Libya continues.
Since mid-January forces that remain allied with the former Jamahiriya political and economic system set up by Qaddafi have taken control of several cities and towns in the south. Clashes have also been reported around the capital of Tripoli, where nationalist forces have fought pitched battles with militias and military forces backed by the GNC regime. (Libya Herald, 20th Jan)
These developments have prompted French Admiral Edouard Gillard in the Washington post to appeal for a fresh NATO intervention.
Dissatisfaction is growing among the Libyan population. Once the most prosperous nation in Africa, with a standard of living that exceeded several European countries, the conditions inside the country have drastically deteriorated since 2011. The decline in living standards, the failure of the regime to rein in the militias that terrorize the population, the collapse of the oil industry and widespread corruption have drawn broad criticism, even among the favoured elites.
Another decree issued in January prohibits scholarship students and public employees from speaking out against the conditions prevailing in Libya. According to AllAfrica.com:
“It calls on Libyan embassies abroad and others to draw up lists of names and refer them to the Prosecutor General for prosecution.”
What is certain is that unrest will continue for some considerable time and the civilians who NATO and the UN Security Council resolution 1973 was meant to protect will be those that suffer the most and it is almost certain that the world will continue to turn a blind eye.
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In 2011, Jonathan Russell wrote three articles on the Libyan conflict in Aberdeen Voice, in part because of the lack of public outcry. Here he presents the second part of a new four article series.
As in the whole of the Middle East human rights abuses were of considerable concern under the Jamahiriya Government. The Amnesty International Report in 2010 in its introduction makes the following point:
“Freedom of expression, association and assembly continued to be severely curtailed and the authorities showed little tolerance of dissent. Critics of the government’s human rights record were punished. Former detainees at Guantánamo Bay returned to Libya by US authorities continued to be detained; one died in custody, apparently as a result of suicide.
“Foreign nationals suspected of being in the country irregularly, including refugees and asylum-seekers, were detained and ill-treated. An official investigation began into the killing of prisoners at Abu Salim Prison in 1996 but no details were disclosed and some of the victims’ relatives who had campaigned for the truth were arrested.
“Hundreds of cases of enforced disappearance and other serious human rights violations committed in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s remained unresolved, and the Internal Security Agency (ISA), implicated in those violations, continued to operate with impunity.”
What Amnesty fails to report however, is that health services and education were available to a high standard to everyone, food and electricity was heavily subsidised, all the population had been housed and the position of women in society was better than anywhere else in the Middle East or Africa, and in many ways better than many Western countries. The situation in Libya was also far from straightforward.
Numbers of men, particularly from Benghazi, had gone to Afghanistan to the Al-Qaeda training camps then returned to Libya and started a bombing campaign. The largest grouping of Al-Qaeda prior to the conflict fighting in Iraq came from Benghazi.
According to West Point authors Joseph Felter and Brian Fishman,
“Saudi Arabia took first place as regards absolute numbers of jihadists sent to combat the United States and other coalition members in Iraq during the time frame in question. Libya, a country less than one fourth as populous, took second place. Saudi Arabia sent 41% of the fighters.”
According to Felter and Fishman,
“Libya was the next most common country of origin, with 18.8% (112) of the fighters listing their nationality stating they hailed from Libya.”
Other much larger countries were far behind:
“Syria, Yemen, and Algeria were the next most common origin countries with 8.2% (49), 8.1% (48), and 7.2% (43), respectively. Moroccans accounted for 6.1% (36) of the records and Jordanians 1.9% (11).”
This means that almost one fifth of the foreign fighters entering Iraq across the Syrian border came from Libya, a country of just over 6 million people. A higher proportion of Libyans were interested in fighting in Iraq than any other country contributing mujahedin. Felter and Fishman point out:
“Almost 19 percent of the fighters in the Sinjar Records came from Libya alone. Furthermore, Libya contributed far more fighters per capita than any other nationality in the Sinjar Records, including Saudi Arabia.”
“But since the Al Qaeda personnel files contain the residence or hometown of the foreign fighters in question, we can determine that the desire to travel to Iraq to kill Americans was not evenly distributed across Libya, but was highly concentrated precisely in those areas around Benghazi.” ( See chart below from the West Point report, page 9 )
Unsurprisingly, Qaddafi and his government saw them as a threat to the stability of Libya. Apart from the sanctions, this was a major reason why Qaddafi came to the agreement with the West which was facilitated by Tony Blair.
None of this excuses the human rights abuses, but does put them in a wider context.
What can be said is that for the majority of people in Libya, life was good; however, if you went against the regime, watch out.
Though human rights violations in Libya under Qaddafi were bad, what followed in the wake of the so called ‘revolution’ far outstripped the human rights abuses of his time.
Armed militias continue to commit serious human rights abuses with impunity, including arbitrary arrests and detention, torture and unlawful killings. Thousands of people suspected of formerly supporting or fighting for Qaddafi’s government remained detained without charge or trial and with no means of remedy. The most famous of these is Salif Al-Islam, Qaddafi’ second son, who is still being held by one of the militias in Zinan.
Tens of thousands of people who were forced to leave their homes in areas perceived to have supported Qaddafi in 2011 remain internally displaced and continue to be at risk of revenge attacks and other abuses. Undocumented foreign nationals faced arbitrary arrest, indefinite detention, exploitation and torture or other ill-treatment.
Human Rights Watch recently posited the possible reasons for Libya’s current lawlessness. In a dispatch posted on 20th October 2013, Human Rights Watch described mass executions carried out by Libyan rebel groups on the day of Qaddafi’s death. In the days that followed, HRW gathered hard evidence of the executions and of who was responsible, which it presented to transitional authorities shortly afterward; to date, no investigation has been carried out.
“The failure to investigate systematic executions helped set the stage for the militia lawlessness in Libya today,” wrote Fred Abrahams, special advisor to HRW’s program office.
“Impunity for those and subsequent crimes sent the message that Libya’s armed groups stand above the law.”
Law 38 granted amnesty to those who committed crimes if their actions were aimed at “promoting or protecting the revolution” against Qaddafi.
On the 23rd October 2013 Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Deputy Director, stated that:
“two years after the conflict, Tawarghas and other displaced communities are still waiting for justice and effective reparations for the abuses they have suffered. Many continue to face discrimination and live in under-resourced camps with no solution in sight.”
Human rights Watch in their 2013 report have said:
“As of October, roughly 8,000 people were in detention. The majority of them were held for more than a year without charge or due process rights, including judicial review and access to a lawyer. The Ministry of Justice holds around 3,000 detainees, around 2,000 are held by the Ministry of Defence or Supreme Security Committee. The rest were being held illegally by various armed groups.’’
Given that most of the country is being run by militias the figures are likely to be in reality much higher.
Conditions in militia-run facilities varied, with detainees in some facilities reporting repeated torture and deaths in custody. Conditions in state-run facilities appeared to improve, although there continued to be cases of abuse and some deaths in custody.
Following rising violence the Interior Minister Mohamed Khalifa al Sheikh resigned in August last year
Non-Libyans from sub-Saharan Africa, mainly migrant workers, are particularly vulnerable to abuse, facing harassment, arrests, ill-treatment in detention, forced labour and no regulated access to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
Sporadic armed confrontations between militias across the country have caused hundreds of deaths; the victims included children and other civilians not involved in the fighting. Impunity remained entrenched, both for gross human rights violations committed in the past and for ongoing human rights abuses by armed militias.
Amnesty UK Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Libya Researcher, reported the following:
“The authorities have failed to break the stranglehold of the militias. Hundreds of armed militias that fought against Mu’ammar al-Gaddafi’s repressive regime now pose the greatest threat to human rights in Libya.
“In 2012, our researchers visited the country and found evidence of a catalogue of abuses, including arbitrary arrests and detention, torture, unlawful killings and forcible displacement. All are casting a shadow over post-revolution Libya.
“Torture is rife in Libya. It is carried out not just by military and security entities but also armed militia groups operating outside of legal frameworks.
“When our researchers visited 11 detention facilities in central and western Libya used by various militias, there was only one facility in which detainees did not report torture and ill treatment. In ten, detainees showed us injuries resulting from recent abuse.
“At least eleven people detained by militias have been tortured to death.
“So far, not one person has been brought to justice for these human rights violations. There have been no effective investigations into cases of torture and deaths in custody.”
Following rising violence the Interior Minister Mohamed Khalifa al Sheikh resigned in August last year. Some 500 prisoners in Tripoli jail undertook a hunger strike to protest being held for two years without charges. When the government ordered the Supreme Security Committee to restore order, they began shooting prisoners through the bars. Where was the outcry from the West? In July 1200 prisoners escaped a jail after a riot in Benghazi. In short, lawlessness and anarchy is spreading
The position of women
Whilst Islamic law established almost equal rights for women in relation to divorce for the past 1,400 years, under the Gaddafi’s Jamahiriya Government the rights of women became greatly enhanced. Women were granted equal rights to men with many younger women in the cities wearing western clothes and thirty percent were in employment, which compared well with many other Middle Eastern countries.
Women were also increasingly seen driving, shopping and travelling without husbands or male companions, a practice which is forbidden in some countries in the Middle East. Child brides were banned and the minimum legal age to marry placed at 18. Women became lawyers, judges, aircraft pilots, army commanders and Ministers in the Government. It has been suggested that women had a stronger position in Libya than in any country in the world. By all accounts, the rights of women have taken a severe setback since the destruction of Jamahiriya, particularly in areas held by Al Qaeda.
According to the Human Rights Watch 2013 report, attacks against religious minorities started in October 2011, and intensified in 2012. Armed groups motivated by their religious views attacked Sufi religious sites across the country, destroying several mosques and tombs of Sufi religious leaders. Armed groups attacked churches in at least two incidents in Tripoli in May and September. The government’s security forces have failed to stop the attacks and have made no significant arrests.
Amnesty International has said that a total around 65,000 people are internally displaced across Libya, not just Tawarghas, but members of the Mashashya tribe from the Nafusa Mountains, residents of Sirte and Bani, Walid, and Tuaregs from Ghadames too.
The Tawarghas, ethnic black Libyans, are among those who have suffered the most. More than 1,300 Tawarghas are estimated to be missing, detained or were subjected to enforced disappearances, mainly in Misratah. Most were seized by militias and subjected to torture and other ill-treatment, such as electric shocks, whipping and beatings with metal bars or water pipes in detention.
Amnesty International has asked the Libyan authorities to investigate all cases of enforced disappearance and indiscriminate torture, including of victims perceived as pro-al Qaddafi.
The European Union (EU), last year’s Nobel Peace Prize recipient, and its member states have been assisting the Libyan authorities in tightening border security and developing “an integrated border management strategy” in order to curb “illegal migration” to Europe at the expense of human rights. Amnesty International has repeatedly urged the EU to fully protect the human rights of refugees, asylum-seekers and migrants, and put in place a satisfactory system for assessing and recognising claims for international protection.
Migrants in Libya are often perceived to be a threat to national security. Since May 2012, the Libyan authorities have deported 25,000 persons.
“EU funding should be used to promote and protect human rights in Libya, especially while the country is still recovering from a recent armed conflict and confronted with a legacy of abuse,” Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui from Amnesty International has said.
“It is deeply troubling that EU funds appear have been used to support detention centres where thousands of foreign nationals are unlawfully held. Asylum-seekers and refugees who are entitled to international protection and should only be detained because of their status in the most exceptional circumstances are among those routinely detained and abused in detention.”
Libya’s immigration detention practices not only violate the country’s international obligations under refugee and human rights law and standards, but they are also at odds with EU human rights obligations as well as EU standards concerning the detention and return of third country nationals.
Libya’s Constitutional Declaration, adopted in 2011, declares that the “state shall guarantee the right of asylum by virtue of the law”. It is urgent the authorities translate this principle into real action and adopt legislation establishing a national asylum system.
Amnesty International has urged the EU, and member states, not to enter into further agreements on migration control with Libya until the government demonstrates that it respects Human Rights.
Thousands of people deemed to have entered Libya “irregularly” have been held in detention for months before their deportation, without access to a lawyer or the ability to challenge their forcible removal and/or detention.
Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui from Amnesty International (AI) has said:
“The Libyan authorities must amend their legislation by setting a maximum detention period pending deportation for migrants.”
AI also found evidence that the Libyan authorities have resumed deporting foreign nationals diagnosed with infections such as hepatitis or HIV after compulsory medical tests were introduced earlier this year. No individual should be deported on the grounds of their medical condition. Hassiba continued:
“Reintroducing compulsory testing for foreign nationals and deportation on the ground of their health status amounts to scapegoating them and only proves how inadequate Libya’s public health policies are.”
At the time of AI’s investigation a total of 5,000 refugees, asylum-seekers and migrants were held in 17 “holding centres” under the Ministry of Interior, in addition to an unknown number of detainees held by militias. AI’s delegates also met a small number of unaccompanied children, sometimes as young as 10, who had been detained in at least three “holding centres” for months.
Many of the “holding centres” visited had extremely poor hygiene standards exposing those held there to the risk of disease, including chest infections and chronic diarrhoea. At the “holding centre” in Sabha, where some 1,300 were being held last May, detainees were held in filthy, overcrowded rooms.
The prison also lacked a functioning sewage system – and piles of garbage filled the corridors. Around 80 detainees – who complained of itchiness on their hands and genitals, suggesting a scabies infection – were held in a courtyard in the sun as treatment, but became dehydrated due to extended exposure to sun.
Denying detainees proper medical care is inexcusable. Libya’s government must show the world it is serious about protecting the rights of all individuals in Libya, whatever their status and nationality.
To date, NATO, which waged the air campaign against Qaddafi’s forces, has failed to investigate properly at least 72 civilian casualties caused by its airstrikes. The UN Commission into Libya also received written reports from the authorities stating that NATO launched about 3,000 airstrikes on several civilian and military targets in Libya. According to the same unverified reports, these strikes resulted in the death of 500 civilians and 2,000 injured.
The same reports stated that NATO had targeted schools, universities, mosques, and others civilian locations. According to the same sources, 56 schools and three universities were directly hit by these strikes. Furthermore, it is claimed that NATO airstrikes have resulted in the closure of 3,204 schools, leaving 437,787 students without access to education.
Security Council members that initially championed resolution 1970 referring Libya to the ICC have been largely silent on Libya’s obligation under that resolution to cooperate with the court.
The Truth About Libya: NATO Crimes & Mass Media Lies Exposed! Reported by Russia Today in 2011.
Though some of the people in Libya have benefited for the majority life has turned into nothing short of a nightmare.
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In 2011, Jonathan Russell wrote three articles on the Libyan conflict in Aberdeen Voice, in part because of the lack of public outcry. Here he presents the second part of a new four article series.
As world attention has focused on the coup in Egypt and the Syrian conflict, Libya has plunged almost unnoticed into a political and economic crisis. Two and a half years ago, Philip Hammond, the Defence Secretary, urged British businessmen to begin “packing their suitcases”, to fly to Libya to share in the reconstruction of the country and exploit an anticipated boom in natural oil and gas extraction.
Before the civil war, oil companies were sometimes only allowed eight percent of the profits from oil and gas exploration, the rest of the profits going to Libya.
These were the toughest exploration of gas and oil terms in the world, and as such were greatly disliked by the oil and gas multinationals. The need for this to change was greatly aided by the financial collapse in the West, leading to vast debts in their own economies and the need to get resources to balance the books.
After the civil war/invasion, the multinationals were to be given fifty percent or more of the profits, and in some cases for a 40-year period.
China, which was increasingly being given contracts, would be out of the framework. China had also been given a 20-billion dollar contract by the Libyan Government to build new housing. Again this fed into a wider picture of the West not liking the growing economic and political influence of China in Africa. It must be stated however that China has been given a contract recently to build 20,000 homes in Benghazi.
Qaddafi also had considerable influence in African countries, many of whom had been ex- French colonies, and this conflicted with France’s economic need to have more influence in their old colonies.
After the 2011 civil war/invasion, Libya exceeded expectations and rapidly ramped up its oil production by more than one million barrels per day and doubled its real GDP. That recovery, however, was short lived. Libya has now almost entirely stopped producing oil as the government has lost control of much of the country to militia fighters.
Mutinying security men have taken over oil ports on the Mediterranean and are seeking to sell crude oil on the black market. Ali Zeidan, Libya’s Prime Minister, initially threatened to “bomb from the air and the sea” any oil tanker trying to pick up the illicit oil from the oil terminal guards, who are mostly former rebels who overthrew Qaddafi and have been on strike over low pay and alleged government corruption since July.
In an escalating crisis, output of Libya’s prized high-quality crude oil has plunged from 1.4 million barrels a day earlier this year to just 160,000 barrels a day in December. Only offshore fields remained largely out of the militia’s reach and have been supporting Libya’s production. However, offshore volumes tend to be small.
The UK government, in a desperate attempt to save face, has said it will train more of the Libyan army and, of course, sell the Libyan army even more weapons to help our balance of payments.
Libya has no shortage of oil resources – both conventional and unconventional. Libya holds Africa’s largest proven oil reserves. Its potential may be even greater as only about twenty percent of the country has been explored.
The recent loss in production has no precedent in Libya’s history. Existing oil companies have scaled down their activities with predictable negative consequences for the Libyan economy, which is poorly diversified and heavily reliant on hydrocarbon revenues. Oil and gas account for nearly 96 percent of government revenues and 98 percent of export revenues. This was a weakness of Qaddafi’s Socialist People’s Arab Jamahiriya Government, as it is now, with an over-dependency on oil and gas.
Corruption had become an increasing factor in Libya directly linked to the depletion in resources due to the sanctions applied by the West on Libya from the 1990s, which led to disquiet amongst the population and a decrease in the popularity of Qaddafi and his Government.
During the civil war, the drop in oil and gas production led to a contraction of real GDP by 62 percent, but the situation now is far worse. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) warned last year that current levels of government expenditure are unsustainable, if oil production does not return to pre-2011 levels, putting the country at risk and further fuelling already heightened socio-economic tensions.
Libya suffers from a high unemployment rate, especially among its young population and to survive many are enticed to join the militias, while much-needed public and private investment has remained anaemic. This high unemployment, both prior to and after the revolution, was a major factor in the growth of Al-Qaeda affiliated groups.
In May 2013 Libyan officials announced plans to review and draw up a new Petroleum Law for a 2014 licensing round which would offer more attractive fiscal terms in an attempt to entice international oil companies. Prior to the conflict China had been involved increasingly in the extraction of oil, a fact, as with China’s increasing economic links with Africa in general, much disliked by the West.
Libya should, as Philip Hammond had suggested, be on the radar of every international oil company when considering the size and quality of the country’s oil and gas reserves, but the latest developments have distorted the risk-reward balance that investors aim to achieve.
Foreign businesses were involved prior to the fall of Qaddafi but the government took in considerable revenue which supported free health care and education as well as subsidised food, housing and electricity. Having done away with the subsidies, many Libyans are now living in poverty. To get anything done Libyans have to bribe the militias who control not only militarily but also economically.
Prior to the overthrow of Qaddafi, the IMF estimated that the country’s total foreign assets were worth $150bn with just under half of that managed by the Libyan Investment Authority (LIA), with other investments made through the central bank and other investment vehicles.
The Financial Times interviewed former Gaddafi officials, directors of LIA and bankers who had never done business with the LIA, concluding that vague claims of mismanagement were more rumour and innuendo with no hard evidence. The accountancy firm KPMG had provided reports and audit in 2010 which showed the LIA asset position steadily improving, and made no suggestions of corruption or wrongdoing by any LIA staff member.
Farhat Bengdara, a Qaddafi appointee, the former governor of the Central Bank of Libya and member of LIA’s board of trustees, claimed that there was a “clear lack of governance at the LIA” which is surprising since he’d been on its governance Board of Trustees until the revolution came. On Bengdara’s recommendation Sami Rais , another Qaddafi-era appointment, had been made chief executive of LIA in October 2009.
Rais and Bengdara were subsequently sacked by the new Government of Libya.
The record actually shows the LIA managed to preserve Libyan state assets throughout the banking crisis of 2008 – 2010, and then during the revolution. Although a few investments showed book losses in 2010, the asset base grew from US$50 billion in 2008 to US$63 billion by 2010.
The performance of the LIA compares very favourably with the huge losses, up to 50% of total asset value, suffered by most other Arab and international sovereign wealth funds over the same period.
Stephen Jen, a Morgan Stanley economist, put actual international sovereign wealth fund losses at US$700 billion to the end of 2008, compared with the Libyan Investment Authority’s reported actual profits and increase in asset value over the last six years of the Qaddafi era.
The Libyan Central Bank had 143.8 tonnes of gold. This is an enormous store of wealth – particularly with gold prices at a historic high of over $1,800 an ounce. In terms of gold per capita, Libya had the ninth biggest amount of gold wealth in the world, just behind the US, at 22 grams per person.
There are important questions over what has happened to this gold since amid the chaos in Tripoli this is still not known. It could potentially have fallen into the hands of Al-Qaeda, or individual tribal militias, or Qaddafi loyalists, or a Western Government or Governments. What has actually happened to the $150 billion of foreign investments is also not clear.
A report, which was leaked to the BBC, revealed that at the time of the invasion, some of the biggest and best-known financial institutions in the world held billions of dollars of Libyan state funds. Principal among them were HSBC, Royal Bank of Scotland, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase, Nomura and Société Générale. However, the banks refused to say whether they held, or are still holding, the funds.
All the assets have now been frozen by the European Union and United Nations.
The document, dated June 2010, showed that HSBC held $292.7m in 10 cash accounts, with a similar amount invested in a hedge fund, while Goldman Sachs had $43m in three accounts. Almost $4bn was held in investment funds and structured products, with Société Générale alone holding $1bn. The Japanese bank Nomura and the Bank of New York also held $500m each.
All the banks refused to make any public comment on the funds they received and managed on behalf of the Libyan Investment Authority, citing client confidentiality
A much larger proportion of LIA’s assets – $19bn in total – was held by Libyan and Middle Eastern Banks, the document revealed.
It also showed that the LIA holds billions of dollars in shares in global corporations such as General Electric, BP, Vivendi and Deutsche Telekom. It had already been widely reported that the fund also held stakes in UK publishing group Pearson, Italy’s UniCredit bank and industrial group Finmeccanica, as well as Canadian oil exploration group, Verenex Energy.
The board of directors of the LIA resigned in September 2012, citing what it said was the incompetence of the fund’s current management. That has meant that the LIA hasn’t been legally able to execute substantial trades or sell any holdings. The LIA’s current management has lost support of the government. Last November, the Libyan prime minister dismissed the chairman, but his refusal to step down sparked a political crisis in Tripoli.
Those involved in management has said the dismissal was politically motivated and is illegal.
It has been suggested that the Western intervention was about stopping Qaddafi, who was the Chairman of the African Union from 2009 to 2010, introducing the Gold Dinar as a currency in Africa. This would have had substantial effect on increasing the deteriorating value of the Dollar, Sterling and the Euro. Qaddafi’s decision to pursue the gold standard and reject dollars for oil payments may have sealed his fate.
The price for a barrel of oil rose above 100 dollars amid concerns over instability in Libya and South Sudan, plus a growing US and worldwide demand for fuel. Fighting in South Sudan and erratic oil production in Libya are having a ripple effect on the global oil market.
Libya’s state news agency says gunmen stole $54m (£33.5m) in an attack on a van carrying foreign and local currency for the Libyan central bank. Ten men stopped the van as it entered the city of Sirte from the airport. The cash delivery had been flown 300 miles (500km) from the capital, Tripoli. “The robbery is a catastrophe for the whole of Libya”, Abdel-Fattah Mohammed, head of Sirte Council, told Reuters.
Libya’s economy has gone from being one of the most stable and financially effective in the world to a complete calamity. Whether or not this will eventually be turned around is yet to be seen, but the losers at present, whatever happens in the future, are the vast majority of the Libyan people. The West, whose intervention was at best naive and at worst extremely sinister, has also not gained.
As with other conflicts in the Middle East, the US and its allies, primarily in this case the UK and France, have played into the hands of militant Islamic groups.
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In 2011, Jonathan Russell wrote three articles on the Libyan conflict in Aberdeen Voice, in part because of the lack of public outcry. Here he presents the first part of a new four article series.
The lies used to justify the NATO war against Libya surpassed even those created to justify the invasion of Iraq.
Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch both had observers on the ground for months following the rebellion in eastern Libya, and both have repudiated every major charge used to justify the NATO war on Libya, which was meant to have been about imposing a No-Fly Zone as agreed by the United Nations.
The video “Libya War Lies – Worse than Iraq” which can be found on Youtube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rNWf1kw2eUk , is the work of Thomas Mountain, author of the widely read article by the same title, and explains his perception of the real reasons for the war on Libya.
The media also played an important role in galvanizing public opinion, in particular Al Jazeera whose output was trusted particularly by many people in the Middle East including Libyans and by those in the West who had come not to trust their own media.
Al Jazeera reported on 22nd February 2011 that Libya’s Government carried out airstrikes on Benghazi, Tripoli and elsewhere. Both observers and Russian satellite pictures have said since that this was not correct. Many Libyans who supported the uprising now regret their support, not only because they were misinformed, but also because of the appalling state that Libya now finds itself in.
Below is a clip from the speech by Denis Kucinich, who stood twice for the Democratic Party leadership in Congress, suggesting that the military intervention was pre-planned. He raises concerns about both the abuse of the United Nations and democracy in the USA. You can see three further clips of his speech on Youtube.
Congressman Dennis Kucinich’s address to Congress on the War in Libya:
There were no confirmed accounts of helicopter gunships attacking civilians, and no jet fighters bombing people, which completely invalidated any justification for the No-Fly Zone in the Security Council resolution used as an excuse for NATO to launch its attacks on Libya. There were some tragic examples of rape on both sides of the conflict. However, the stories of mass rapes by Government troops were never verified.
‘What has happened in Libya since the conflict is, however, far worse than could have been suspected and has been highlighted again with the flight of Prime Minister Al Zeidin fleeing the country this Wednesday. So much goes on in the world and particularly the Middle East that there is little news coming out about Libya. What we have heard about is the killing of the American ambassador in Benghazi and the taking hostage of the Libyan Prime Minister by a militia group; and most recently the killing of a UK citizen and his New Zealand partner.
The general impression is that the country is lawless.
Sir David Richards, leader of the British NATO forces at the time of the invasion of Libya, has said on BBC Radio 4 recently that Qaddafi has been proven right in what he said would happen to his country following his fall from power. That is, that the country would fall into the hands of Islamic extremists and there would be inter-tribal fighting.
When looking at the situation more closely what you see is a broken country – the basic facts are:
that the country is being ruled by militias and that the Central Government has little control. Al-Qaeda’s flag is flown in many towns.
Under Qaddafi, multinational oil companies got as little as 8% of the profits from oil and gas. By contrast, it was agreed by the Transitional Government during the conflict that they would get 50% or more and some for a 40-year period.
Oil and gas exploration has now almost collapsed as installations are controlled by the militias.
Libya had been one of the few countries in the world that was not badly affected by the world economic collapse of 2008. It is now nearly bankrupt according to the IMF.
Around 2 million of the 5,613,380 population are either displaced in camps in Libya or no longer living in Libya. These people are mostly in camps in surrounding countries and mostly forgotten by the world – including the UN.
A law was passed – Law 38 – saying that no action would be taken against any crimes that had taken place against Qaddafi loyalists. Thus all crimes committed by anti-Qaddafi forces, including Al-Qaeda’s and NATO’s crimes go unprosecuted and it is open season on ex-Qaddafi loyalists.
Human Rights violations are massive, torture and killings are common.
Not only were the electricity stations bombed by NATO, as was done in Iraq, but also the Great Man-Made River http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Man-Made_River which supplied the country with water. Although some repairs have been carried out, electricity is cut every day and there are water shortages.
Women’s rights and involvement in society which were strong under Qaddafi have taken a severe step backwards; some cannot even join university out of fear.
The Libyan bank had 143.8 tons of gold that disappeared: who in fact took this gold? None of the $153bn of assets held by Libya abroad has been returned.
Here is a clip from Russia TV:
Three further articles will examine:
the economic situation;
human rights; and
the political situation in Libya and surrounding countries
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Trump’s nae deein the Hielan Fling He’s noo tryin River Dance Intae his Menie Developmint Anither dollar he’ll nae advance . He’s gyaan ti the Emerald Isle Doon the wye o Coonty Clare A feel sorry fer the Irish fowk His arrogance they’ll hae ti bear . His mither bein’ Scottish born The chiel wis aywis blawin Wull we noo hear fae him His faither wis a leprechaun . Scotland wull be the losers The bugger dis rant an roar Donald jist gie’t a rest Yer mair than jist a bore
Wull wi ivver hae peace on earth Difference o opeenion causes fechts Can wi see common sinse prevail An sort oot wrangs fae richts . Nae muckle chunce a sadly feel Greed an religion pull the strings The puir struggle tae survive Heicher prices hiv their fling . The warld an his mither are oot there Buyin up aa they bliddy can Cos they hiv the cloot tae buy Goods fae China or Japan . Wull wi survive the yammer Fer mair an mair tae hae Or hive wi the collective will Tae lave some fer anither day . The economy maan hae priority Governmints an bunkers aye state Tryin tae bowster warld economies His fair hertin’t the greedy trait
With thanks to Scottish Venezuela Solidarity Campaign.
People in Scotland with a commitment to social justice will mourn the death of Hugo Chavez.
He was a great leader for the people of Venezuela, with a practical commitment to improving the lives of its people and in particular the millions who had been left to a life of poverty by previous regimes.
The sheer scope of the imaginative programmes he led forward is extraordinary – for universal healthcare, literacy, food soverignty, land reform, electoral democracy, environmental protection, racial and gender equality, the rights of indigenous people and industrial democracy, for example.
To carry these forward he had to confront the malign influence which the USA had extended over the entire continent of South America and had instead forged an alliance for progress with neighbouring countries. No wonder this brought upon him the opprobrium of the USA government and its allies in this country.
Instead of listening to the untruths they tried to spread about him, increasing numbers of people in Scotland have been looking to Chavez and Latin America for lessons to apply to their own predicaments.
Some of these were heard at the Learning from Latin America conference we held last December in Glasgow, at which Sandra Whyte MSP told us, as an observer of the 2012 Presidential elections, of the impeccable organisation, the very impressive turnout, and above all the massive enthusiasm in Venezuela for the re-election of Hugo Chavez – sadly the last of the many elections which he won democratically in the teeth of a local and international media dominated by his enemies.
He was a great man and our thoughts and solidarity go out to his family and the people of Venezuela.
As part of Israeli Apartheid Week SPSC Aberdeen presents a screening of the award-winning documentary Roadmap to Apartheid. The film presents a detailed look at Palestine/Israel and how the concept of apartheid can be used to understand the historical and ongoing situation.
About Israeli Apartheid Week
Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW) is an annual international series of events held in cities and campuses across the globe.
The aim of IAW is to educate people about the nature of Israel as an apartheid system and to build Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaigns as part of a growing global BDS movement.
Lectures, films, and actions will highlight some of the successes of the BDS movement and build / support ongoing campaigns.
Speakers and full programme for each city will be available on this website. Join us in making this a year of struggle against apartheid and for justice, equality, and peace.
“In this award-winning documentary, the first-time directors take a detailed look at the apartheid analogy commonly used to describe the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
“Narrated by Alice Walker (author of The Color Purple), Roadmap to Apartheid is as much a historical document of the rise and fall of apartheid in South Africa as it is a film about why many Palestinians feel they are living in an apartheid system today, and why an increasing number of people around the world agree with them” (official website).
In the fourth part of the series The Menie Estate, Suzanne Kelly looks at the roles different people played in writing the Balmedie Coast’s future. There were those who tried to uphold existing planning and environmental laws such as Martin Ford and Debra Storr. They were vilified and even assaulted in the case of former Councillor Storr.
Public servants and politicians held meetings with the Trump organisation while planning matters were pending, contrary to protocol – if not to law. At least one town planning professional seems to have colluded with Trump while the application was pending. This is the first half of the story of the people involved – that of the heroes.
Part 1: Heroes
In a perfect world, a world some of us thought was guaranteed by existing legislation, no one would be treated like the residents of the Menie Estate have been. The environment would have been likewise valued and protected, particularly as the land in question included a SSSI.
Local planning laws would have been respected, and councillors who sought to uphold existing laws would not have been mocked merely for upholding enshrined principles.
The national government would not have interfered in pending planning matters or discussed pending applications with interested parties. Journalists would have been free to report on stories without being arrested. Unfortunately, that world doesn’t exist.
In the face of powerful opposition, there were those who tried to do the right thing by law. There were people who used film and fine art to illustrate the issues. There were those who took a principled stand against the controversial development. And then there were some whose daily lives were made needlessly stressful, while the threat of compulsory purchase powers overshadowed their lives.
When I met with Menie Estate residents on 12 January 2013, some of them were keen to express thanks to people who have helped, or tried to help. This is a partial account of some of these remarkable people, who have made a difference.
Vilified by the local press, Aberdeenshire Councillor Ford is mostly known to the public for his casting the vote which turned down the development when it was first voted on.
By rights, that should have been the end of the matter, but acting without precedent, the Scottish Government called the plans in. Ford voted against Trump’s golf course for tangible, logical reasons. These were many and complex, but included the fact the development would destroy (at least in part) the fragile SSSI site and compromise the ecology of the area.
The Trump plan to part finance the course and club was to build hundreds of holiday homes – something which meant a significant deviation from existing policy. For upholding existing law he was branded a ‘traitor’, vilified and abused in local media. His paper on the subject can be found at http://www.andywightman.com/docs/martin_ford_ch.pdf
Anthony Baxter & Richard Phinney
Baxter and Phinney are the men behind the documentary ‘You’ve Been Trumped’ – which beautifully illustrates the Menie situation environmentally, socially and procedurally.
They were arrested while filming, as is dramatically captured in the film. The arrest was for ‘breach of the peace’ on the say-so of a Trump employee.
They had gone to the estate office to ask how when water would be returned to the residents – Trump’s construction workers had managed to dam the water supply and left people without running water for a week with no help, apology or explanation.
If anything, the film makers were treated rather poorly by the site personnel. Later, while at Susan Munro’s house and despite being journalists, they were arrested and their equipment seized. A National Union of Journalists spokesperson said:-
Later the charges were dropped (Baxter learnt this from the Guardian newspaper – not the police). While that might sound like a good outcome, it meant the police were never forced to account for the arrest, and Baxter and Phinney never got their day in court to give their side or clear their names properly.
Freedom of Information Requests by me and by others were answered with poor excuses, including the police claiming they were not able to give information on criminal charges brought against other people (the charges had been dropped when I wrote).
Baxter and Phinney largely financed the film themselves (Anthony Baxter mortgaged his home). ‘You’ve Been Trumped!’ went on to win awards around the world, shocking audiences wherever it played. The local press did not mention this film for a year, even when it premiered in Aberdeen, selling more quickly than the latest Harry Potter film had, or when it won awards world-wide.
Eventually David Ewen of the Evening Express wrote a piece on the film after its premier on national television; Ewen claimed ‘Baxter was unavailable for comment’ in his initial piece, even though the two men spoke within hours of Ewen’s first contact, according to Baxter.
Ewen, by the way, is author of a book entitled ‘Chasing Paradise – Donald Trump and the Battle for the World’s Greatest Golf Course,’ with a forward by Donald Trump. It was available at the Press & Journal/Evening Express shop in Aberdeen until the shop closed. The local press has supported the Trump faction from the outset. More on this support will appear in the next in this series of articles.
The former Aberdeenshire councillor has, like her colleague Ford, been vilified for her vote against the course. Like Ford she has spent time talking with the residents. She was assaulted on her own doorstep by a woman who supported Trump.
This former Aberdeenshire councillor also showed concern for the environment and compassion for the residents as Storr and Ford had. He did not mince words when he declared:
“I have seen and heard enough from your Trump to last me a lifetime – don’t send me any more of his simpering platitudes. No more – do you read me?”
Another Aberdeenshire councillor, he was disciplined for claiming Trump got a ‘sweetener’ from the shire (i.e. the taxpayer) in the form of land worth some £5 million. This was apparently so Trump would build 98 affordable homes. Whether or not these homes will emerge, and what will be deemed ‘affordable’ remains to be seen.
However, it appears the homes will not be anywhere near the aspirational course and clubhouse, as there are not enough local amenities.
These four councillors were the subject of a demand by the Trump Organisation to Aberdeenshire Council – Trump sought to have then excluded from any debates on the use of compulsory purchase orders (a means by which private land and homes can be bought if absolutely necessary – for municipal projects). Trump apparently branded these four ‘scoundrels’.
Dr David Kennedy
Dr Kennedy, a respected academic, returned his degree to Robert Gordon University (chancellor – Sir Ian Wood) when the decision was made to grant Trump an honorary doctorate. Kennedy’s views are summed up and captured eloquently in ‘You’ve Been Trumped!’
Alicia Bruce and David McCue – Artists
Whatever history eventually makes of this tale, two artists have captured the players for posterity.
Portrait artist David McCue features in ‘You’ve Been Trumped’; an exhibition of his portraits of Trump on site in the Forbes’ property were hung to great effect.
The portraits of Trump embody avarice and aggression; they contrast with the cooler colours and dignified portrait of Michael Forbes.
Alicia Bruce re-creates important paintings from all periods in art history as photographs of contemporary people and situations. Her works include powerful, defiant images of the Forbes family posed with pitchfork outside their barn, echoing ‘American Gothic’, (this piece was recently on show in the Royal Academy, Edinburgh) and an endearing, sensitive portrait of Molly Forbes with a gaggle of geese.
Tripping Up Trump is the pressure group which has stood against Trump and the destruction of the environment. The website provides the latest developments, information on past news, and other resources. The membership has swollen since the BBC screened ‘You’ve Been Trumped’ – which Trump tried unsuccessfully to prevent. Their mission statement is below; the website is http://www.trippinguptrump.com/ They are also found on Facebook and Twitter
Tripping Up Trump (TUT) has established itself as the popular movement against the use of compulsory purchase for private profit. TUT’s campaign has stood alongside the people and protected environment threatened by Donald Trump’s development in Aberdeenshire.
The TUT campaign has been key to Donald Trump’s retreat from the use of compulsory purchase orders.
The threat of forced evictions was deliberately held over the heads of the Menie families for nearly two years. Donald Trump’s track record shows he cannot be trusted to behave reasonably towards his neighbours or act responsibly towards the environment. He has bullied and mislead from the start.
TUT is committed to supporting the rights of the families at Menie and will highlight and seek to stop any further bullying or other wrongs by the Trump Organisation in Scotland.
We need your support. Please spread the word and join this important campaign.
Finally, the real heroes are the men and women who are trying to live normal lives in their homes at the Menie Estate.
Many have been there for decades; all of them love the land, the flora and fauna, and simply want to get on with their lives. As documented by Baxter, they have been tested in the extreme, quite unnecessarily and aggressively so.
Blocked water supplies, trespass, property damage, snapped power lines and aggressive security and greens-keeping personnel have all overstepped the mark in their treatment of these people. And yet they have all managed to do something Trump can’t quite master: they have kept their cool.
If anyone wishes to send them messages of support, letters, etc., please contact Aberdeen Voice; we will pass items to them for you.
There are many other heroes in the tale; but it was the villains who carried the day. It is really their story currently being enacted at Menie; without their actions (and indeed their interactions), things might be quite different. Who they are, how they are linked to each other, and some of their actions will be covered in Menie Heroes And Villains: Part 2 – Villains.
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