Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Jaffa Port

War Dreams

War dream three

Am awakened by the dream’s vividness in the early hours of the morning.

Afghanistan. Gentle green hills, a dusty road running through the countryside, the light is soft. The land beautiful but for the sense of danger all around, for this is a war torn country. I am a child I am wandering alone. I do not know if I am a boy or girl, I am malnourished and my clothes are ragged, I look down at myself and I see I am wearing torn red trousers.

Rumbling sounds vibrate through the yellow earth, a tank is coming.

I crouch down near the edge of the road in the dust. The tank inevitably comes with the soldiers riding on top. English, they speak English, they say something I don’t know what.

I am afraid, they make me crouch down lower, they point guns at me, I say nothing do nothing just crouch there, like they said.

Then they go on their way, their tank rolls away, taking them and their guns further along this endless road though nowhere.

I stand up and start along in my hesitant walking crouching run along this endless dusty track relieved to have survived an encounter with soldiers.

Once more the ground starts to rumble beneath my feet, another tank is coming.

A ruined house just a wall of stones with windows shot out, a line of four evenly spaced rectangles show the sky.

The rumbling is getting louder soon the tank will appear from around the bend. I do not want to encounter any more soldiers.

I crouch down once more, behind the wall with the evenly spaced rectangles.
The sky is a soft grey and the silky grass is taller than me a lush blue green.

The ground shakes and then ceases, the tank has stopped by the wall, more English voices.
“Come out we know you’re there! Come out, or we’ll blow you and this building to pieces!”

The sound of the gun starting up, I crouch down to make myself yet smaller, please let them pass; please let them not mean it. Maybe I will survive this!

I wake it is still the dark early hours of morning.

War dream 2

I am a girl of ten years. The Taliban has taken over Shoreditch high street on horseback. The Taliban herd all the women and children inside a cobbled goods yard near the church and lock the metal gates higher then a two-storey building.

We all lie down together on the cobbles and huddling and clutching each other wrapped up in our gauzy dresses.

From outside the gates we hear the sounds of a massacre-taking place; we cling to each other more tightly trying to shut out the screams and the gun fire.

I imagine catching all the bullets fired in the hollow of my wrist preventing them from penetrating flesh and killing.

Scarlet blood flows beneath the gate into the goods yard it soaks into our gauzy dresses. We lie there and wait.

The gates are opened the massacre has finished.

I return home to my family’s small apartment. I stand by the kitchen window looking across London holding my left wrist, which suffers from a sharp pain, from where I clenched it tight imagining catching the bullets.

The dream cuts to a voice over and now I am watching the girl stand by the window looking out at the grey sky.

Voice Over, "Shortly after she died of a constricted vein where she had caught the dream bullets in her wrist, her heart just stopped."

War Dream 1

Wembley stadium. I am working as a journalist. The stadium is being used as a torture centre; we are trying to get footage out to international media.

Vomit and blood flows everywhere, people are screaming. I wade through the blood and crawl along huge heating pipes to try and get shots of what is happening.

I look out across the pitch, people are running, black figures against green. Helicopters circle, firing at the fleeing stick figures, mines are dropped, which explode as the people run across the playing field.

“Oh god they are killing them!”

As the black mines penetrate the grass I know there is no way out of here. I rush towards windows on the other side of the building and look across the city.
London is a vast sea of bill board sized screens, frantic with moving images which all erupt into one single image of Goddess Kali screaming with laughter blood dripping from her mouth as she howls with pleasure at the carnage and death all around.

My Nabloosi leery pumpkin head!!

So it is Halloween and I am in Nablus, if I mention Halloween to anyone here, the most common response is, " oh like in America?"

And I say yes, like in America but different to America.

Of course Halloween is big in America, there everything is bigger.

But Halloween has for me specifically UK associations, a certain type of mysterious light at dusk, big orange spiders that suddenly hang in bushes and doorways. A certain sadness that winter is coming and the yearning for summer past, often a summer that never appeared.

Halloween in the UK is still seen as something sinful a bit naughty as well as being a commercial festival to encourage more punters to drink in bars on the 31st of October.

Halloween my favourite festival, mysterious and picaresque unlike the blatent in yer faceness of the Yule season.

So every Halloween I carve my pumpkin head and make my wishes for the new year commencing on the 1st of November and say farewell to the year just past.

The orangey glow inside the jack o lantern, the small flame like my embryonic excitement of things to come.

Student Council Elections in a Northern West bank University


Sunday, 2 November 2008

Survey of student travel at An Najah University Nablus

The northern West bank city of Nablus sits in a valley and the only way in or out of the city is through check points manned by Israeli soldiers. The Palestinian population suffer terribly from this in terms of trade and travel restrictions. Human rights of Palestinians are violated at every level. http://www.pchrgaza.org/files/W_report/English/2008/30-10-2008.htm

Within the Right to Education Campaign at An Najah National University we are setting up systems for the collection of data on human rights abuses at check points. Student volunteer field workers on the campaign handed out a survey devised by researchers in partnership with Bethlehem University. The above images show the students at work on campus collecting and sharing data.