Posts Tagged ‘humanity’

The lessons from Hillsborough for politics today

04/05/2016, 11:19:43 PM

by Samuel Dale

My dad stood in the Leppings Lane end at Hillsborough to watch Manchester United play Leeds United in the 1977 FA Cup semi-final.

As soon as he heard about the deadly crush during the Liverpool v Forest game in 1989, he knew what had happened.

He remembered the push coming from the back of the stand as fans rushed forward. He struggled to breath and was lifted off his feet for minutes at a time. And that was when the police supposedly had control of the crowds. It was not uncommon at matches during that are but Leppings Lane was particularly bad.

And his first thought was that most natural of human emotions: it could have been me.

It could have been 96 Man United fans. My dad, my uncle and all their mates. It could have been anyone who went to a football match before 1989.

The standing areas at football matches in the 1970s and 1980s were a national disgrace. Tens of thousands of young men penned in by high fences and crushed so they couldn’t breathe.

Hillsborough was not the first football tragedy. There was the Valley Parade fire in 1985 that killed 56. The Ibrox disaster that killed 25 when a stand collapsed in 1971.

Police, politicians and club owners did not consider match-going supporters as individuals but as a mass of dehumanized, working-class drunken louts with no rights.


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Europe is a bystander to human tragedy, yet again

20/02/2015, 06:00:50 PM

by Ranjit Sidhu

A few weeks ago, at the 70th year commemoration of Auschwitz, Roman Kent, a survivor of the Holocaust made a speech about his fear, that we again become bystanders to tragic events.  With tears in his eyes, he said,

“When I think of the holocaust as I often do …I think of the righteous gentiles who endangered their own lives, and their families to save the life of a stranger…We must ALL be involved and stay involved, no one, no one ever should be a spectator, I feel so strongly about this point that if I had the power I would add a 11th commandment to the universally accepted 10 commandments, you should never, never be a bystander.”

The indifference of those around them is both the most haunting refrain of many holocaust survivors and also the most pressing warning for the future. Elie Wiesel, the writer of Nightin 1999 said,

“…to be indifferent to that suffering is what makes the human being inhuman… Indifference is not a response for it benefits the aggressor — never his victim, whose pain is magnified when he or she feels forgotten.”

Elie Wiesel in the same speech went on to mention the totemic event of indifference to the plight of the Jews in Europe before the Second World War started, The Voyage of the St Louis,

“Sixty years ago, its human cargo — maybe 1,000 Jews — was turned back to Nazi Germany. And that happened after the Kristallnacht, after the first state sponsored pogrom, with hundreds of Jewish shops destroyed, synagogues burned, thousands of people put in concentration camps. And that ship, which was already on the shores of the United States, was sent back.”

The St Louis was not an isolated event, many ships full with Jews fleeing the rise of Nazism were turned back in 1938 to 1939 be it from the UK, US or Denmark or the then colonially controlled Middle East and Africa.

Looking back now, with 76 years passed, we can look back in shame how the world was a bystander to those fleeing Europe and genocide.


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