"We have maintained a silence closely resembling stupidity" - Neil Roberts

Until we have legislation adopted into law to ensure fiduciary accountability and transparency in public affairs we will continue to have human rights breached because the existing crown immunity and lack of any independent oversight invites corruption to flourish.

"Question authority, and think for yourself" - Timothy Leary

"We have maintained a silence closely resembling stupidity" - Neil Roberts

"Information is the currency of democracy" - Thomas Jefferson

‎"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever does." - Margaret Mead

"The truth is like a lion, you don't have to defend it. Let it loose, it will defend itself."

"I = m c 2 [squared] where "I" am information" - Timothy Leary

"Ring the bells that still can ring, forget your perfect offering, there's a crack in everything, that's how the light gets in." Leonard Cohen

"The internet is a TV that watches you"

Thursday, April 22, 2010

No one told us it would be like this.

Tena ra tatou katoa
He korero na Alistair Te Ariki Campbell e pa ana ki te ANZAC pakanga i tu ki gallipoli

Ka awatea ka tineia te kamokamo o te mata o te kanohi, katahi ka timata matou ki te whawhai o taua rangi nei. Ko nga Taitama o te pamu, o te kohao whenua, o te taone, o te kura ranei, i matea i te puke pupu rere a i matea hoki matou i te puke tupapaku i takotokoto ai. Kihai te tangata i pohehetia ai.
Ka maumaharahara kia ratou ma.

New Zealand poet Alistair Te Ariki Campbell wrote this about the ANZACs in Gallipoli:

"The light of adventure that shone so brightly in our eyes when we set out was extinguished that day. Young men from the farms, the mines, the cities, the public schools, we died in a vast quagmire of blood and broken bodies. No one told us it would be like this."

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

For Sacha Macfarlane

Sacha Catherina Macfarlane died on the 29th November 1984, exactly one month before her twenty first birthday, when the car driven by Chilean diplomat Luis Felipe Lopez crossed the centre line and collided head on with the car in which Sacha was a passenger.  Her sister Nina was in the car behind Sacha, and witnessed the crash  (all three cars were BMWs), which some reports referred to as "an accident", which is an insult to Sacha and her family.

Luis Felipe Lopez was the driver of the car which collided with the one Sacha was in. Luis Felipe Lopez, official representative of the brutal and corrupt Pinochet regime in Chile was drunk, he stank of alcohol. He made a deliberate decision to drink and drive, and he killed a beautiful young woman with her whole life ahead of her, in front of her sister. 

Lopez then claimed diplomatic immunity and fled the country.  Prime Minister David Lange postulated, like he did about Alain Marfart and Dominique Prieur after the murder of the Greenpeace photographer Fernando Pereira on the Rainbow Warrior, but nothing ever happened, and everyone else just forgot about it.

Sacha was 20 years old, and died a horrible and unnecessary death, Nina carries the memories of it forever.  Day after day, year after year, all this time, I've been listening for the sound of someone saying "Sorry about Sacha.  It was wrong what happened." But all there ever was was silence.  Yesterday, something special happened, because a woman called Carol Cromie spoke up.  Carol is the partner of Sacha and Nina's Dad, Kester Macfarlane.  She wrote a poem, about Sacha, and it managed to encompass everything from the minute Sacha was conceived until this minute - the minute you're reading this.  Everything her life meant, everything her death means.  It's a sad, beautiful and very special poem.  A fitting tribute to a special young woman whose life ended because of a drunk driver who got off scot free.

Mr Macfarlane, 67, said yesterday that the apology meant a lot to him and his family. “The circumstances and the ensuing publicity surrounding her death caused us unbearable and unnecessary grief” he said.  It caused a lot of grief for everyone who knew Sacha, she was special. She was no ordinary young woman, she was like a shining light, like a beautiful tree about to burst into blossom.  She was full of fun, full of promise, full of life.  

Carol sent her poem to Chile’s Foreign Affairs Ministry, and to its embassy in Wellington, which responded by offering to hold a memorial service. 

The apology was officially conveyed at the service at Old St Paul’s yesterday.  It took twenty five years.

Mr Macfarlane said “The letter of apology is beautiful. It is a genuine apology, which lays the whole thing to rest as far as I am concerned. It was a little thing I needed to happen after all these years.” Mr Macfarlane also took the opportunity to point out that Luis Felipe Lopez was in New Zealand at the time as a representative of the corrupt Pinochet regime, and as such, shouldn't have even been in the country.

Never underestimate the power of words, the power of a simple, honest poem.  This one healed a lot of pain, it made a lot of people think, and I hope it continues to make them think for a long time.  It's a beautiful, beautiful poem, thanks Carol. 

When it seemed like the whole world had forgotten the gross and outrageous injustice, after all these years have gone by, this poem is what changed everything, and healed the pain of injustice. Let it inspire us to write our own poems.  Naming and shaming people works, things change, people acknowledge the truth, there is redemption, everyone can move on a bit.  This is the poem that changed things:

A message for Mr Lopez.

I was in Santiago the other day, Mr Lopez, first time in my life,,

and I was intending to look you up.

I’m not sure what I would have said
if I’d knocked on your door and found
you home. If a woman, your wife or
even a daughter, had called over
the balcony or the intercom ¿hola?

You see, Mr Lopez, I’m not sure
what I want from you any more.

The phone directory has many Lopez
as you of course would know -
they’re rare where I come from – but just three listed as Luis Felipe.

Perhaps you’re all related: elderly father,
your eldest son and you, Mr Lopez,
the diplomat. Are you still an embassy
man or did you switch your line
of work after the immunity wore off?

I’d been rehearsing our meeting
all these years but, somehow I got
to Chile and my heart wasn’t in it.
What was I going to say to you:
Hi, Mr Lopez, I’d like a word
about my daughter?

Would it hurt if I told you she was
twenty, tall and beautiful, unsure
as some striking people are,
and gifted, an artist with a promising
future. Paintings are all I have.

Hi, Mr Lopez, I could have said,
I’m the father of the girl you killed
when you drove dead-drunk
in a new car in a new country
on the wrong side of a road.

Would it hurt if I told you, last time
I saw her, I promised her oil paints
for Christmas and watched her small plane
until it was just a speck in a summer sky.

You! You crossed the centre line
a third time, saw the headlights and
swerved – not to the left, your side
of the road, which might have
saved her – but to the right,
Luis Felipe Lopez, to the right.

Hi, Mr Lopez, I could have said
in Santiago, please step outside,
They missed you at the inquest.
The coroner’s man couldn’t get
Sacha’s name right – he called her
‘Sacka’, as if she were a sack of nothing -
but he had yours down pat.

I have one daughter left alive.

On birthdays and death days
and in the early mornings, you are
not far from our thoughts, Luis -
can I call you that? I wonder if
the ‘car accident’, fool phrase,
wrecked your life as it did ours.

What price did you have to pay,
loyal servant of General Pinochet,
for slaughter in a foreign city?

When you hug your own daughter,
do you sometimes think of Sacha.

I sat on the bed in my hotel room
in your city ringed with mountains,
three likely numbers in my hand, and
I knew it was over. To tamp down
my bitterness, concentrate my sadness,
I tried to put myself in your shoes,
to imagine what it must be like
to be a killer. I tried but I cannot.

No, Luis Felipe Lopez,
I do not want to see your face.

Sleep softly now Sacha, and you others, who did what you could, what you should, and finally people listened, all because you did.

The power of words can conquer anything, release and unlock things, heal pain, sadness and bitterness.  

It's easy, just say how you really feel, tell the truth.  Thanks to Sacha's family for the poetry lesson.