- Created: Tuesday, 12 June 2012 10:08
Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! 227 June/July 2012
An appreciation of my father Gerry 1934-2012
My father Gerry, who died this May, was a Scot of Irish origin, like so many of us here. His Uncle Peter became a member of Sinn Fein in Dundee, having learned of Irish history from the Molly Malones of Dublin town when he was stationed there with the British army in 1919.
My dad was never formally politically active himself, but he understood justice and was prepared to stand up for it. As a young lad, my friends and I were stopped and threatened by the police for an alleged break-in at a nearby factory. We were all quite badly shaken up. My father took them on by complaining and soon we had inspectors coming up to the house to take statements. They were nice as pie with my folks around but once, they arrived with just me in the house and like the sneaks and bullies that they are, tried to intimidate me into dropping the complaints. My father was furious and went on to challenge this behaviour as well.
He along with my mum and aunty and uncle came down to the RCG’s very first Free Speech Rally in the City Square which was called in response to police arrests and loyalist threats against Irish Hunger Strike solidarity campaigners in 1981.
I still see him bawling at the TV as the BBC News showed British soldiers and police trying to drive the Irish people off their own streets with hundreds of plastic bullets fired during the massive funeral of hunger striker Joe McDonnell. I see him in the front row with my folks as Albertina Sisulu addressed a large public meeting in the city to build support for the struggle against racist apartheid. At Zimbabwe’s liberation he joked about going to greet ‘Uncle Bob’ Mugabe. I see him joining hundreds of thousands of his own generation on the huge protest march against Margaret Thatcher in Liverpool in the early 1980s.
He was a shop steward in NALGO, the local government union, but despite overtures he never went near the Labour Party or succumbed to the culture of drinking and dining available to union reps. He knew about corruption too.
He and my mum were lucky enough to visit the Soviet Union in 1989 and were on their way to Cuba the following year. Like Che Guevara, my Dad’s granny was a Lynch, and in the 1950s he owned the same model of motorcycle as Che had when he toured Latin America – a Norton 500 ES! There’s a photo of me perched on it in 1958.
Of course there’s a price to pay for hearing out these wee stories of which I am very proud – but my generous dad’ll stand his round as ever! Here’s a pledge for £1,000 toward the Fighting Fund.
Solidarity with Gaza
‘You can’t go, you’re too young.’ I was 12 years old when, in August 2010, my father first told me that there was a possibility of him going to Gaza with a solidarity convoy. All sorts of questions started going through my head. Would he ever come back? Would the Israelis detain him like they always detained people on the news? Well, I was only going to find out one way – by going with him. Obviously that was never going to be easy – as soon as word got round that I was going chaos erupted. My mum, uncles and most of my family’s friends were all against me going. But what can I say, I was a stubborn kid and when I look back now I’m grateful I was.
As soon as we had reached Al Arish city, where we would go to the sea port and collect all our ambulances and equipment from our ship, we were surrounded by Egyptian police. They claimed to be ‘protecting’ us from thugs – only later did we realise that they were the thugs. They came to our hotel in the middle of the night, banging with their metal rods everything in their way. They stole all of our possessions, our cameras, money and most of our clothes. In the morning we gathered what was left of our belongings, collected our goods from the port and left for the Rafah border.
Once reaching the border the Egyptian forces told us that we weren’t going through no matter how long we stayed. After seven hours in the scorching sun I saw my father get dragged away by an officer – just as I was about to scream a hand was clamped over my mouth and I was dragged away as well. After struggling I found there was no use and let darkness take over me. I woke up to find myself tied to a chair and facing two officers. To say they interrogated me would be an understatement. What shocked me the most was when the officer handed me an empty gun and a couple of bullets and asked me to put the bullets in the gun. I told him I couldn’t. Then he asked me if I knew how to shoot. I told him no. 10 hours passed and the officers finally let me go and pass through the border along with the rest of the convoy.
When we entered Gaza it was as if we had walked into our own homes and were being greeted by our own family. The elders chanted for us, the women showered us with flowers, children ran up to us with sweets and the teenagers lifted us up on their shoulders and took us to the streets. And to be honest, if going through 20 hours of being detained and getting beaten up by the Egyptian police is what it takes to stay another minute in Gaza, then without any doubt I’d go through it all over again.
What is apathy? The meaning of apathy from the dictionary is a lack of interest or energy. We the working class see apathy manifest itself through a distinct lack of interest in the way that our country is run by our elected representatives. This is not something that happened overnight; it is something that has happened over time through constantly being let down by the politicians that claim to represent us, the majority of Britain – the working class. Just a few weeks ago, George Osborne, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, was still pushing ahead with the aggressive cuts campaign/attack on the working class, slashing disability living allowance for thousands of the most vulnerable people in our country, and all the time telling us we are all in this together. At the same time, his father was eyeing up a £19,000 Fornasetti Architettura Trumeau writing bureau (a desk to you or me). Are we really all in this together, Mr Osborne?
The signs of apathy are there for everyone to see, proven in the turnout for the general elections which reached its peak in 1950 with 83.3% turn out and never since 1951 has the turn out reached above 80%, steadily declining through the years with a few peaks and troughs along the way, ultimately resulting in a miserable 65.1% turnout in 2010. Just as apathy did not appear overnight, it will not disappear overnight. In fact it may never disappear unless we the working class come together and stand up for what we believe to be right and organise. Only then will we find the antidote to the apathy poison that is destroying our societies.
Indian freedom fighters
I congratulate FRFI for publishing the letter from the comrades of the Communist Party of India (Maoist). The CPI (M) are genuine freedom fighters struggling for the well-being of the downtrodden and oppressed.
Maybe one day we could found a sister organisation in Scotland.
Deportation won’t stop
fight for justice
I thank you all at FRFI for your ongoing loyal support. On 25 April I was given a formal written notification from the Ministry of Justice that I will be one of the foreign national prisoners who will be deported back to my native country.
This new legislation could come into effect as early as May. I received my life sentence in 1987 and my tariff expired in 1996. According to the Ministry of Justice letter, if a person has served their tariff, even if the Parole Board refuses the prisoner’s release, the Ministry has been given the authority to overrule the Parole Board and deport the prisoner.
As you know, I have been fighting for truth and justice in my case and I will continue to do so when I am deported back to my native Finland. I have served over 26 years on falsified and fabricated police evidence. The forensic experts could not find any evidence against me. I am most certainly not the only innocent person convicted on false police evidence, but I am a fighter and a survivor and trust that with my good legal team’s help I am a winner and in due course will be on the victory train with all my helpers and supporters!
If I am deported I will remain in touch from Finland. I welcome letters from supporters and from others wrongfully convicted.
PETER HAKALA A3960AE
HMP Wakefield, 5 Love Lane
Wakefield WF2 9AG