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Readings in Nonviolence

Readings in Nonviolence’ features extracts from our favourite books, pamphlets, articles or other material on nonviolence, or reviews of important works in the field (suggestions welcome).

Introduced by Roberta Bacic

At this moment when so much unrest is taking place  in so many places around the world, Libya, Egypt, Bahrain and elsewhere it seems crucial that Readings in Nonviolence features either analysis of present use of nonviolence or reactions by our readers and ourselves on what is happening and the challenges TODAY. While we introduce this brief piece 180,000 migrant workers are at the refugee camps that have been created on the borders of Libya. Many have not made it as they are black people who are threatened and robbed while fleeing by mercenaries. They have all come to work in the oil industry of Libya and in the present circumstances just want to go back home. Home is most of the times the other countries in crisis today, and poor, and on arrival their future is also uncertain.

It seems remarkable that the piece we are featuring this month was done on the 22nd of February by a woman working with affected people from Zimbabwe. She knows from personal experience what she is taking about, what is coming, and also knows of the urgent need of help and support. Her and her own people's circumstance has not shadowed her capacity to see "the other". If we are not able to do so, we are far from being able to act in front of what is going on.

We invite our readers and colleagues to contribute on these absolutely burning issues to contribute and share what they are doing, reflecting, suggesting. It is a cry to us: let us do something NOW, let the world know, do something . . . . .

LIBYA: 22 February 2011
by Shari Eppel

Gaddafi furls and unfurls his umbrella
a giant bat’s wing
in the desert
where it never rains

but tonight

bombs hail down from the sky
shredding pale flesh to lace…

red tear drops splatter
on the desert’s face
in this frail fight for freedom
where people scream into radio silence
and hospitals try to contain their pain.

Tell the world, the crying doctor implores,
he is killing the innocent –
we who want peace, only peace

and outside it storms, it storms
bullets thunder and flash
fires glow as buildings fall

- can you hear it, can you hear?

Ash blows in shrouds, as bodies are laid below.

The madman flails his fists
rails at the ‘dogs’ of truth
declares his joy at being still here
where pain rains down

and the world can only gaze in awe

offering as little hope

as a white silk umbrella

to those who wring their hands at the skies.

Shari Eppel, the author, writes:
I am a Zimbabwean activist, who listens to BBC World Service on my shortwave radio for several hours every evening, and I have been tracking unfolding events in the Middle East with deep interest. However, I have such a feeling of foreboding where Libya is concerned, and do not see a quick or tidy ending considering the nature of both Libya and Gaddafi. I have been deeply moved by the intense emotions of those very few voices to come out of Libya - the doctor who wept in spite of himself when talking of events, and the rage and pain - and increasingly the impotence - of those who have seen terrible violence there. Also, their sense of abandonment and alone-ness. As a health professional, I find truly shocking the indications that those offering support to victims are being victimised. As I do not have TV, I looked up Gaddafi's bizarre 30 second press interview with his strange umbrella on the internet, and found it so incongruous and somehow insulting to his people, that it moved me to write the poem, immediately after viewing the video....

Copyright INNATE 2016