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Roger Waters: “Is There A Palestinian Mandela?”

Written by Greg Moskovitch on January 2, 2014

As 2013 drew to a close, former frontman of prog-rock legends Pink Floyd Roger Waters issued a year-end statement, in which the musician salutes whistleblowers Daniel Ellsberg, Edward Snowden, and Chelsea Manning, and appeals to his fans to “keep asking awkward questions.”

In the reflective missive, which Waters addresses “To all my friends, in fact to everyone, foe and friend,” the 70-year-old artist begins by musing on recent reading material, saying, “I have spent much of the holidays, take your pick which…reading a remarkable book, King Leopold’s Ghost.”

As Waters himself explains, the 1998 best-selling popular history book, written by American journalist Adam Hochschild, “tells the story of Leopold II of Belgium’s catastrophic colonization of the Congo in the late 19th century,” adding, “It is an horrific read but serves us all well on a number of levels.”

Waters then uses the “powerful indictment of colonialism, greed and un-regulated commerce” found in the book to reflect on today’s socio-political zeitgeist, saying, “[it is] disquietingly apparent that the rich and powerful are still much attached to the feathering of their own nests at any cost to others.”

“So, here we stand, at the turning of one year into the next, looking back maybe at 2013, and wondering if there is anything to be done in 2014,” writes Waters, before declaring, “There is.” Waters then hails whistleblowers such as Manning as “our life line to the survival of democracy.”

“Without these brave men, who are not prepared to hide behind the ‘just following orders’ line of defense, the studded, padlocked, iron door marked, ‘CLASSIFIED’ could forever stand, impenetrable, between you the people, and the information that is your constitutional right.”

The artist’s attention then shifted the Israel-Palestine conflict. Waters has long been a vocal critic of the actions of the Israeli government, which last month landed him in hot water once again, after he compared the “unacceptable” and “racist apartheid Israeli regime” to Nazi Germany.

Waters insists his fans “keep asking awkward questions,” listing examples such as “Is there a Palestinian Mandela? Is there such a man, languishing in some dark prison cell? Equally, is there an Israeli F.W. De Klerk?” referencing the last State President of apartheid-era South Africa.

Waters concludes his post by praising the civic action he witnessed in 2013 and urges the “fledgling movement” to press on, saying, “we are against the forces of commerce, racism, bigotry, religious extremism and narrow self-interest,” adding, “Let us make 2014 The End Of The Beginning.”

Roger Waters Year-End Statement

To all my friends, in fact to everyone, foe and friend.

Happy New Year!

We are all brothers and sisters in the family of man and we all deserve each others love and respect.

I have spent much of the holidays, take your pick which holiday, reading a remarkable book, “King Leopolds Ghost”. It tells the story of Leopold 11 of Belgium’s catastrophic colonization of the Congo in the late 19th century. It is an horrific read but serves us all well on a number of levels.

Firstly, it is a powerful indictment of colonialism, greed and un-regulated commerce. It would be easy to tut, tut, in disapproval of those bad old days, were it not disquietingly apparent that the rich and powerful are still much attached to the feathering of their own nests at any cost to others. (Chevron v The People of Ecuador) par example.

Secondly, there are heroes in this story, not least E.D. Morel, a humble cog in the machinery of shipping, who worked for a company in Liverpool England, discovered the calumny in the Congo through accounting, of all things, and devoted the rest of his life to exposing it. Then there is Sir Roger Casement, an Irish patriot and human rights activist who eventually gave his life for his part in the Irish republican struggle, on the gallows in Pentonville prison London in 1916.

So, here we stand, at the turning of one year into the next, looking back maybe at 2013, and wondering if there is anything to be done in 2014.

There is.

Firstly, we can learn from the examples of E.D. Morel and Roger Casement. We can admire their sacrifice, and give full voice to our admiration for contemporary whistle blowers. Daniel Ellsberg, Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning we salute you and all the others who have gone before you. The whistle blowers are our life line to the survival of democracy, the corrupt in government cover their tracks assiduously, without The Pentagon papers how would we have ever known that President Lyndon Johnson had repeatedly lied to congress? Without these brave men, who are not prepared to hide behind the “just following orders” line of defense, the studded, padlocked, iron door marked, “CLASSIFIED” could forever stand, impenetrable, between you the people, and the information that is your constitutional right.

Secondly, keep asking awkward questions.

Is there a Palestinian Mandela?
Is there such a man, languishing in some dark prison cell?
Equally, is there an Israeli F.W. De Klerk?

Why is the Government of The U.S.A. slowly but inexorably turning its back on Mistress Liberty and The rule of Law?

I won’t bang-on, the new year is a time for positive thoughts and looking forward.

However, to look back for just a moment, it has been exciting in 2013 to see so many good people organizing in the Universities and the Churches, in the temples and the bars, uniting across boundaries of faith and nationality in support of Universal Human Rights. I feel your spirit abroad in the land, abroad across the globe. We are a fledgling movement, a mere two hundred and fifty years old, and arraigned as we are against the forces of commerce, racism, bigotry, religious extremism and narrow self-interest, the fight will be long and hard.. As Winston Churchill famously said in November 1942, “This is not the end, it is not even the beginning of the end, but it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”

Let us make 2014 The End Of The Beginning.

Love
Roger

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