By Owei Lakemfa
MANY parts of the world were in a festive mood this Wednesday marking Christmas, but thousands of Australian volunteers were at war, fighting hundreds of fires ravaging their country.
Men and women left behind their families to fight in a war that has gone on since September. In New South Wales some one thousand homes have been consumed in raging fires with 2,500 volunteers battling to stop the fires spreading to more homes and offices.
With the temperature soaring to a record 41.9 degrees Celsius on December 18 and only marginally reducing to 40.9 in the Christmas season, the country and its people are witnessing serious climatic changes.
Ironically, Australia is one of the countries that has prevented humanity from battling climate change. Although the country is drought-stricken with record temperatures triggering wild bush fires, yet the government of Prime Minister Scott Morrison resists the pressure to curb greenhouse gas emissions.
Morrison while apologizing for taking a family holiday in Hawai when his country is in flames, said the disaster Australia is facing will not lead to a change of mind on tackling climate change because as he claims, “There is no argument … about the links between broader issues of global climate change and weather events around the world.” Australia which accounts for 0.3 per cent of the world’s population, releases 1.3 per cent of the world’s greenhouse gases.
There are no physical fires burning in Bethlehem where Jesus was born, but the fires of repression and resistance are not far from the surface. On Wednesday, some faithful who had come from various parts of the world gathered to celebrate Christmas. But Bethlehem is under the guns of the Israeli state which has also built a physical wall of separation in the holy city.
The irony is that in the birthplace of Jesus, the Prince of Peace, there is no peace. Where Jesus preached love, hatred prevails. The powerful and their Western allies ensure that the people in Bethlehem are under siege; that they do not even have the right to leave and return to their country.
Queen Elizabeth II and the royal family minus the patriarch, Prince Philip, attended Christmas service at her Sandringham Estate in Norfolk. Hundreds who should be at church or home for Christmas were near the church premises to watch the spectacle. The Queen’s Christmas message to her subjects talked about a bumpy year. It is not certain whether that included her collusion with Prime Minister Boris Johnson to attempt a coup on parliament in the guise of a pro-rogue which the Supreme Court declared illegal.
Prince Philip had returned from the hospital on Christmas eve. At 98, he really needs to rest, as does the Queen who is only five years younger. After 68 years on the throne, the Queen might be doing a lot good to the House of Windsor if she steps aside for Prince Charles who is already 71.
This Monday, Saudi Arabia turned the murder of a journalist, Jamal Khashoggi, into a circus show. It claimed that five men had been sentenced to death and three given prison terms for the killing. The alleged convicts were nameless, the claimed trial was shrouded in secrecy and the big fishes including Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman whom the United Nations investigations revealed, ordered the killing, were apparently never on trial.
If the claimed sentences were true, confirmed on appeal and executed, there is every indication that it is some of the executioners, not those who ordered the hit that would be affected. Justice will not be served, meanwhile, supporters of the monarchy would have a basis to attempt washing it clean of the heinous crime of luring a journalist to its Istanbul mission, murdering and making his corpse disappear.
If Saudi Arabia has any iota of seriousness about the matter, the first thing it should do is producing the journalist’s remains or tell the world in a verifiable way, what happened to Khashoggi’s corpse.
Mr Donald Trump spent Christmas as impeached President of the United States. That he abused power is a fact, but that he would be found guilty by the Senate, is quite unlikely.
The issue is not whether he is guilty or not, rather, it is about power relations. Trump, even if his actions appear criminal, is a very powerful politician and it is easier to bomb a non-Western city out of existence than to find him guilty in the Senate.
Christmas was not possible for many in Syria where large Christian populations have been uprooted by terrorists previously supported by the West and the Gulf countries.
The fight for Idlib remains ferocious, but the Christians in Syria know that their wellbeing and return to their ancestral homes depend on an outright victory by the Syrian armed forces and militia. But the powerful forces who set the fires in Syria, trained, funded and propped terrorists to take up arms in that ancient country, are not about to give up.
These same forces make peace in Yemen impossible. They have tried bombing the country into the pre-historic age hoping to impose their stooges. For countries like Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Egypt, Morocco, Jordan, Sudan and Senegal, the continued massacre of civilians does not matter; they are confident that no case of crimes against humanity will be brought against them whether in the United Nations or the International Criminal Court. But if one is brought, the powerful Western countries backing them will ensure that it comes to nought.
The year is coming to an end with Libya in flames. It was a rich, prosperous and peaceful country before the West decided that the patriot and pan-Africanist, President Mouamar Ghadaffi must be eliminated. They succeeded and handed over the country to terrorists, Islamic fundamentalists and touts. Now, there is a joke about an “internationally recognized government in Tripoli”.
Was Ghadaffi’s government not internationally recognized before it was eliminated? Today, the beneficiary countries have split themselves into various factions supplying arms and logistics to the factional governments and militia groups in the country.
So they will be in charge of the country and its enormous resources regardless of which faction wins or even if the country splits.
Nigeria, where the powerful rules and tramples on basic rights, made a sudden manoeuvre on Christmas eve releasing two of its political prisoners, Colonel Sambo Dasuki (retd) and journalist, Omoyele Sowore. It is still too early to determine whether this is a bait, a temporary withdrawal, change of tactics or a decision to return to constitutionalism.
As we move towards 2020, humanity should pray for the rule of law, rather than the rule of the lawless, and back up such prayers with concrete action.