... in dead people

I love life...

06 Jan 2007 | 215 words | beirut lebanon politics branding dead people

Is the PR campaign by the march 14 camp against the ongoing demonstration by the opposition in downtown Beirut. They argue that the ongoing protests are strangling Lebanon’s economy to death and because of that those who love life should rally behind them (the slogan also is a reference to the martyrdom culture entertained by Hezbollah). These days large parts of the city are covered with i love life stickers (in arabic, english and french) and there are i love life x-mas trees at random locations. This afternoon in cafe De Prague in Hamra, someone had this cigarette box:

The sticker on the left reads i love life in arabic and the text on the main part (كلنا للوطن - we are all for/to the nation) are the first two words of the national anthem. Makes a nice contrast with the rest of the worlds obsession to put warning labels on cigarette boxes.

Of course this focus on loving of life does not mean that the good old Beirut tradition of sticking portraits of dead people to the walls has suddenly disappeared. People simply started to combine their admiration for life and for the dead:

In this case the dead man is Pierre Gemayel, the former industry minister, assassinated on the 21st of november 2006.

Apparently i am a terror expert...

07 Nov 2006 | 90 words | dead people terrorism

… at least that is what the vistor stats of this site seem to suggest:

Looks as if quite alot of people do look for information on the 9/11 attacks around that date and that some of them do end up here. I would guess that this has to do with my 9/11 lamp, but who knows as there are lotsofotherterrorismrelatedpostingshere as well. In any case the bars in the sites/visits row (orange and yellow that us) on the 9th do look like the WTC i remember from my childhood.

Barca mba Barzaak ...

05 Aug 2006 | 370 words | migration dead people deportations africa europe

… seems to mean ‘Barcelona or the afterlife’ and according to the Guardian Unlimited this is the phrase west African migrants say before they board those small fishing boats on the Senegalese coast that attempt to reach the Spanish Canary Islands some 800 nautical miles away.

The guardian article deals with how these often deadly emigration attempts of young people from Senegal are represented in local rap songs. it focusses on DJ Awadi the person behind the recent hit Sunugaal (‘Our boat’) which seems to combine outrage about the Senegalese governments failure to provide jobs for the majority of young people in the country with warnings about the perils of emigrating to Spain and the rest of the EU.

On the website the song is accompanied by a flash slideshow (click here if the link above does not work). the slideshow contains 51 pictures of exhausted, dead or otherwise sufferening black migrants on small boats, in the desert of in camps. pretty discouraging stuff in any case, and probably one of the more effective means to discourage someone from attempting to leave for Europe in a boat or through the desert.

This and the fact that the quality of the pictures available to the makers of the animation (these are not your average google image search results) makes me wonder if the song/slidshow has not been produced with the help of a European government or secret service or of the EU’s external border security agency Frontex (ok, the last option is extremely unlikely, given that those Frontex people have not even managed to get up their own website in more than a year). Guess this would be a far more effective way of spending money to deter migrants than building fences or flying people back in deportation class. Of course it would be even more effective to just let them in and not force them to take more and more deadly routes…

Ironically when you google ‘Barca mba Barzaak’ you get a paid search result for the MBA programme of the Barcelona Management Institute …

… and upon clicking on the link, the website greets you with the image of a happy young african MBA student. Barca mba Barzaak indeed!

Coffin counter

24 Jul 2006 | 67 words | war israel lebanon dead people

So it looks like counting dead people becomes one of the main threads woven through this blog. i have mentioned my own and other people’s efforts before and now I came across this simple yet powerful visualization of the proportionality of deaths resulting from the conflict between Israel en Hezbullah. The page is maintained by Moiz Syed using the numbers taken from BBC’s coverage on the conflict.

I am sick of it...

Actually i am sick of a number of things at the moment. Has a lot today with what the media reporting, but this evening i am particularly sick of how the media are reporting. Around 2000h yesterday evening the germen news-portal spiegel online had a breaking news alert on top of their frontpage:

Why is that important? Even the most stupid intern doing a sunday afternoon shift in the news room while it is summer outside must have noticed that up until now more than 150 people have been killed in Lebanon by the Israelis and at least 20 have been killed in Israel by Hezbollha. So what is the point of pointing out that 8 Canadians have been killed? I mean dead people are dead people and it does not really matter which passport they had (o.k sometimes it does matter, but that is another story and i cant find the link right now) even if the idiots who are running most media outlets and wire services seem to think otherwise.

Are we supposed to pay more attention to the death of Canadians just because they are mostly white, better educated and issue pointless statements for restraint through the same international organizations (G8/NATO/OECD/…) as ‘we’ are?

Or is it because canadians are so healthy and live in such a safe place that their live expectancy is slightly higher than that of the average Lebanese person and as a result their unexpected death weights more than that of a non-western person?

Now don’t expect an answer from spiegel online, as their breaking news alert linked to an absolute non-story. i do not even know why i still have this crap news-site as my start up page in my browser. Guess i have to change that.

This whole episode also reminds me of how pissed i was with all the western media last week for the amount of attention they paid to the Bombay train bombings. given that these attacks where almost exactly one year after the 7/7 London bombings and killed almost 4 times as many people the media attention was extremely sparse. No interactive flash graphics or interviews with distressed emergency responders when it comes to non-westerners being the victims of terrorist attacks (but then interactive flash graphics and interviews with distressed emergency responders are highly annoying things so maybe one should plead for less media attention to terrorist attacks in the west).

Update [23.jul]: Here is a little bit of background on the dead Canadians by Jim Quilty writing for the Canadian website straight.com.

Meanwhile at the border... (one week in Malta)

I think i have mentioned before that I am maintaining a list of reported deaths of immigrants trying to enter the European Union called meanwhile at the border. This is quite a depressing routine that builds on a couple of google news alerts and a number of highly customized rss-feeds. some of the links that i am getting in my inbox do not immediately reveal if the linked pages are indeed news reports concerning drowned/shot/dehydrated migrants which means i get to see a fair amount of websites that contain any possible combination of the words ‘migrants’, ‘dead’, ‘drowned’, ‘illegal’ and so forth while following up on them.

Today i ran into a remarkable feature on the site of maltatoday.com. They have a page that lists this week’s headlines and the current edition of which exists for almost 50% of headlines related to the influx of migrants to the island of Malta:

Sunday, 25 June

Child born on patrol boat

A Somali woman gives birth to a boy on board the Armed Forces patrol boat that goes out to rescue a group of illegal immigrants, including the woman, caught out at sea. The AFM rescues 25 migrants and the mother gives birth to her child the moment she is transferred to the military patrol boat. Both mother and child are reportedly in good health after being transferred to St Luke’s Hospital.[…]

Monday, 26 June […]

Migrants give the slip

Seven migrants are on the run after landing with a group of 27 others at Xghajra in the dead of night. The migrants are noticed during a police patrol in Xghajra and apprehended by the police after a thorough search of the area. Seven Africans, remain on the loose. […]

Tuesday, 27 June

Mass breakout

Almost 400 illegal immigrants escape from the Safi detention centre and attempt to march all the way to Valletta to protest against detention. The mass breakout also turns violent at times with immigrants hurling stones at police officers and soldiers who at times seemed to be overwhelmed. A sizeable group of immigrants gets as far as the roundabout leading to Garibaldi Road in Marsa before being forced back into the centre by the security forces almost two hours later. Several police officers, soldiers and immigrants are slightly injured. Security personnel, called in from all parts of Malta, show great restraint in controlling an extremely tense situation.

266 more migrants

The largest group to date of immigrants is sighted off Malta’s coast after the boat they are on stalls. The 266 immigrants initially refuse the army’s assistance but then are persuaded to board an army patrol boat and brought to shore. The immigrants hail from Morocco and Egypt and are very likely to be repatriated soon.[…]

Thursday, 29 June […]

More migrants arrive

A group of 28 illegal immigrants including three women arrive in Malta aboard a boat. They land at Benghisa in Birzebbuga and are rounded up by the police.

Friday, 30 June […]

48 migrants arrive

Another group of 48 illegal immigrants, all men, arrives in Malta after being brought in by the army to Haywharf. Saturday, 1 July

I guess this pretty much speaks for itself. Also in other news today one migrant was shot and two fell to death while trying to enter Melilla (a.k.a Europe) from Morocco and 21 bodies of sub-saharan migrants washed up on a beach in western Morocco)

Counting the dead

Since december 2002 I have been counting dead people. To be more specific I have been collecting news reports about migrants that have been killed while trying to get to Europe. Since i have started i have found news articles documenting a total of 1354 1356 deaths and these are only those incidents that have been mentioned in news sources indexed by google news or which I have stumbled upon while reading the newspaper (and this figure does not include the people reported to be missing after the many incidents involving ships, most of them can be safely assumed to be dead as well). In addition there are lots of incidents that never make it into these publications.

I never really questioned myself why i am doing this, I just started to do it once it became feasible without to much hassle (e.g when google news got launched). Clearly i am not expecting that someday someone stumbles across the page, realizes how fucked up the the european attitude towards migrants is and then changes the system. People generally do not care when people with a different skin color die, and i do not really think this will ever change.

Also I never really found other people engaged in the particular activity of counting dead migrants. So imagine my astonishment when i came across someone who does not only also count dead migrants but on top of it knows exactly why he is doing it:

Martin Kelly runs a ‘new occasionalseries‘ on his blog ‘the purpose of which is to record the deaths of migrant workers’. Now that sounds pretty similar to what i am doing, but our Mr. Kelly here has a real mission:

He is collecting migrant deaths in the UK to prove that mass migration is bad and because of this ‘common humanity dictates that somebody try and keep track of the casualty figures’ of the poor souls ‘who would still be alive if tighter border and labour controls were in place’. Thankfully for the rest of the ‘british victims of migrant criminals’ Mr. Kelly has come to the rescue and taken up the burden of recording these incidents so that someday someone will stumble across his blog and decides that ‘common humanity’ dictates that a wall must be built around british isles, because ‘until we are prepared to change our ways, such tragedies as happened yesterday will continue. As migration grows, there will be more of them…’

Guess you have to be pretty fucked up to come to this kind of conclusions when reading about a car incident. This guy really leaves me speechless… what a fucking idiot!

Here are some more argumentative jewels form his insane ‘Right-Wing Rants, Ramblings, Ravings and Ruminations from the West of Scotland‘:

That the process of identifying the migrants should be estimated to be ‘lengthy’ exposes the laxity and inadequacy of our migration controls. Yet consider also its inhumanity – these men died here, far away from their own homes and families, and there is no one official to whom the police can turn who will be guaranteed to know their names. […]

They join Jean Charles de Menezes, Karolina Mikolajewska [pk: a polish care worker murdered in Bristol in feb 2006], the october men [pk: no clue here] and the martyrs of Morecambe Bay in the ranks of mass migration’s victims; for they are victims, just as surely as any British victim of a migrant criminal.

If we had had an immigration system that worked, De Menezes might have been deported; but at least he would still be alive! […]

Now i can read heartfelt sympathy for all those victims from the quotes above. Almost makes me believe that he really cares for the poor victims. In fact he seems to care so much that he has another blog purely focussed on ensuring that the family of Jean Charles de Menezes will not be compensated for his liquidation by the Metropolitan Police.

When i am dead....

…i want to be buried here:

razor wire graveyard wall

Walked past the catholic (this might constitute a ideological problem) graveyard on Consolação today and to my immense joy realized the paranoid citizens of this fine city have had the ingenious idea to put razor wire on top of the sky blue walls that surround it. Until now i have never really known where i would want to be buried but now i am sure (other places i have briefly considered can be seen here and here). I will feel much safer here than on any other graveyard once i am dead.

Also i feel a bit sad that i have to leave as well. São Paulo has been really great. I must come here more often. I spend the last 2 hours at an amazing place: Prestes Maia 911. it is 23 story building in downtown that has been squatted by 458 families associated with the roofless movement (they do not say homeless because what they are missing is a roof or a dwelling and not a home with all its non material implications). It is a very organized place with an incredibly warm and friendly atmosphere. In fact it is the only squat i have ever been to that smells good (i was there around dinner time and the smell of all the different families cooking is absolutely mouth watering. The families live in separate little rooms that are made from wood and other discarded materials. in a way it is pretty much 23 favelas (by lack of a better word for collections of tiny makeshift housing units) stacked on top of each other. The whole place embodies the anarchic, organic chaos of the city on a miniature scale. Being there and talking to some of the inhabitants has been quite an experience. unfortunately it looks like the place is going to be evicted pretty soon.

Thanks to everybody who invited me into their ‘apartments’ and thanks to Fabiene for taking me there.

meanwhile... is the personal weblog of Paul Keller. I am currently policy director at Open Future and President of the COMMUNIA Association for the Public Domain. This weblog is largely inactive but contains an archive of posts (mixing both work and personal) going back to 2005.

I also maintain a collection of cards from African mediums (which is the reason for the domain name), a collection of photos on flickr and a website collecting my professional writings and appearances.

Other things that i have made online: