Below we publish an article by a group of Berlin-based solidarity activists who challenge Pink Floyd co-founder, Roger Waters, concerning his interview on the Russian state propaganda station, RT. The text of their letter to Roger Waters also follows.
A handful of Berlin-based activists, who support Palestinian rights, thus also those of Syrians, and consequently their upheaval, wrote a private letter to Roger Waters. What we found disturbing were his declarations on Syria that are in total conformity with Russian propaganda.
As we mentioned in our letter(see below), Roger Waters, who had decided to speak about Syria at his Barcelona concert in mid-April, also made another decision: not to mention the fact that since February 2018 the attacks on East Ghouta by the Syrian regime and its allies had already killed at least 1700 civilians in a region that since years had been cut off from any basic supplies.
On April, 14 a retaliating air strike by US, UK, and French forces (which RW decided to criticize in his Barcelona declaration) hits a Syrian military base, suspected to be the origin of the chemical attack; thankfully, there are no casualties. While Waters continues to tour Europe, attacks by the Syrian regime and its allies as well as by Islamist groups against civilians continue in East Ghouta, as well as deportations, disappearances, imprisonments.
End of August (by then Roger Waters has read our letter and – as we are told by our contact – taken it to heart): Idlib province with its roughly three millions of herded in civilians, among them hundreds of thousands of refugees from other parts of Syria, faces an imminent attack by the Syrian regime and its allies – which in fact begins in early September.
Whenever bombings subside, people in Idlib take to the streets in huge protests, waving the flag of the Syrian revolution and demonstrating their unwavering resistance against the Assad regime andthe Islamists.
September 15: Roger Waters gives a long interview to Russia Today’s Sophie Schewardnadse, again discrediting the White Helmets – all he has to say on Syria, its people, their basic rights, their revolution, their suffering.
What else does he choose to talk about in this interview? – That – as we all know – US public school system is only very poorly funded by the government. His explanation: in order for „them“ to be able to “control” the people; that the mainstream media in the US are owned by corporations and controlled by them, this of course being also true of social media (again no news). That the people in the US are under total control, manipulated – by „them“. He complains, that on US TV you won’t learn anything about fracking, because „they“ are not interested in informing the people about this.
He feels the urge to say these things in an interview on a channel financed by the Russian government. A government that harshly oppresses activists who dare to speak up against – for example – the relentless destruction of the environment in their country. Activists who under these conditions don‘t have the chance – as for example their European or US-American counterparts, in spite of being “controlled” and “manipulated” – to network, inform the public and build a movement against fracking and other destructive practices.
He feels the urge to ramble on about „them“, who don’t want to hear, what he, Roger Waters, has to say. „They“ are silencing him because of his anti-war stance. He expects that sooner or later he won’t have a public voice at all in the US and will in the end be kicked out of the country, or he‘ll just leave … maybe to Portugal, he muses. Why not Russia? Schewardnadze asks, and he seems surprised: Why Russia?! – Because it’s a great country, answers RT’s patriotic anchor person. The answer of the guy who has got all choices in the world (and of course never considered that one), flabbergasted: maybe…
What if at that point he finally had said something like: I think, I don’t want to live in a country where dissent is brutally repressed, a country that is proud of waging a war against the people in Syria in support of one of the most cruel dictatorships you can imagine …
Of course the interview wouldn’t have been aired by RT.
Why a critical letter to a celebrity, a star who time and again publicly speaks up for equality and justice, especially in the context Israel/Palestine, someone who we seem to agree with?
It is not so much about him but about an ideology that he shares with many others who consider themselves left-wing, pro-Palestinian, anti-war, progressive etc. It’s an ideology that cannot do without conspiracy theories. Those who share it have an idea of solidarity that is based on geostrategic categories – it is about solidarity with certain powers, not with people(s). A central category of this ideology is the ideal of “stability”, which they share with those who are most keen to keep things “stable” so that capitalism can strive undisturbed. We wonder: Is a revolution, an upheaval, any movement that profoundly criticizes the powers to be and strives for real change possible withoutdestabilizing these powers to be? Isn’t stability in the end exactly what the capitalist economy and all governments try to accomplish or to keep up by all possible means? Did the progressive and peace-loving advocates of stability not realize that the “Arab Spring” was a rather disturbing development for the smaller and bigger powers with their manifold interests in those countries that were being destabilized by those upheavals? Are they not aware of the fact that “regime change” (from above and afar) is no longer up to date? Didn’t work at all, resulted just in chaos, costs, unfavorable conditions for investments.
Calm and stability – these are the ideals of the “anti-imperialist Left” and of parts of the peace movement in the global North, and of capital. Do not disturb by demanding the impossible! At least not down there, in those countries. What maybe fit for us does not apply to everyone.
Syrians who began taking to the streets in 2011 should have asked if “destabilizing” Assad’s Syria, that important brick in the global architecture of power, was o.k. with those self-declared anti-imperialists and their geo-strategic preferences. They should have asked, if for the sake of stability of that architecture they’d rather forget about their dreams of freedom, justice, and dignity, swallow their pride and keep suffering without complaint.
Those who rose up in Kafranbel, Idlib, East Ghouta, Aleppo, Yarmouk, Raqqa and everywhere in Syria failed to ask permission for their revolution, naively assuming that of course, „the world“, and definitely the Left would be in solidarity with them, at least take a closer look, contact them, listen to what they have to say before relying on conspiracy theories about who „is behind it“, who „pulls the strings“, who controls, manipulates…
Meanwhile in Palestine and Syria the hopelessly incurable Wretched of the Earth hold up scribbled messages during protests: „From Gaza’s border on the Friday of Breaking the Siege, greetings to the rebellious throats in Idlib …” And during demonstrations in Eastern Aleppo countryside: „To our people in the March of Return to Gaza’s border— We are with you!“
So are we in Berlin: Greetings of solidarity, with eyes on Idlib, eyes on Gaza!
Below please find the text of the letter to Roger Waters:
Dear Roger Waters,
Those of us who were at your Berlin concert or with BDS Berlin outside of the venue, felt overwhelmed and happy after those two days in June. We as activists for freedom and justice in Palestine as elsewhere greatly appreciate your unwavering support for BDS and Palestinian rights.
Maybe you saw one of our banners that we often bring to demonstrations and protests – like when Netanyahu visited Merkel in June. It is a Palestinian flag with the words written on it: IGNORANCE IS A CHOICE.
As you can imagine, there are many opportunities when this banner serves very well to sum it all up, so when recently unarmed protesters in Gaza were maimed and killed by IDF snipers – and our government was silent, mainstream media and Israeli propaganda spoke about Hamas and their rockets and Israel’s right to defend herself. They made the choice – to look away, to ignore the obvious and focus attention on some irrelevant aspect.
We have Syrian friends in Berlin and in Syria, some of them Palestinians, who are going through their second Nakba. Being targeted by the Syrian regime, its allies and/or Islamist groups they and other Syrians had to leave their towns or villages. Their crime: to have stood up for bread, dignity, and freedom. As you know, the regime’s and its allies’ reaction has been to physically crush this upheaval and collectively punish the Syrian people, by bombing whole cities, often aiming at hospitals, bakeries, schools. You know all this, we assume, as in your show you referred to Assad and Putin, among others, as criminals and warmongers.
Our Syrian friends who took part in the upheaval in Syria are in solidarity with their Palestinian brothers and sisters and their struggle. To use your words: it’s in their DNA. They understand: this is onestruggle for justice and equality. Some of them, artists, even lead the boycott of the Berlin Pop Kultur Festival last year.
So they and some of us, BDS activists in Berlin, were shocked when we heard your public declaration on the White Helmets at a moment when the people of Douma and all of East Ghouta, after having been under hunger siege for years, were being mercilessly bombed, buried under the rubble, medical facilities destroyed, no food, no water. These people probably would have accepted the help of a White Helmet or any other volunteer or even the devil himself if only he tried to drag their loved ones out from under the ruins.
The White Helmets are being accused by Russian and some other media of being just a propaganda outfit financed by western powers. Obviously they arefinanced by western powers as many NGOs in conflict zones are. We all know that this generous support of humanitarian organizations often is a vehicle used by these powers to build influence, as is widely the case in the Palestinian occupied territories. So the WHs, too, probably play this role.
But what we just don’t understand is the idea that the WHs should serve as some kind of propaganda tool. We wonder, what could possibly be the propaganda the WHs help to convey? And what is the truth they and Western imperialist powers try to hide from us? – Is it the truth that there actually is no major humanitarian catastrophe in Syria? Has this just been made up by Western propaganda? Are the pictures of people buried under rubble just fake? And as opposed to Western propaganda lies, the truth is, those massive indiscriminate bombings by the Syrian regime and its allies on densely populated areas did not happen? Our Syrian neighbors in Berlin – are they liars? Did they not, as they tell us, escape these bombings and did they not lose their loved ones there?
We also wonder, if you ever had the opportunity to listen to and see those brave Syrians in cities and villages who as soon as the massive bombings by the Syrian regime and Russia stopped for a few days, came out and demonstrated against both, Daesh’s and the regime’s terror and oppression.
Dear Roger Waters, we ask you to consider if it was the right moment to focus on the WHs and not to speak about the brutal war against the Syrian people that was being waged at exactly the same time by those powers who spend a lot of effort to distract our attention from their horrific crimes – among other things by focusing on what may be problematic about the WHs.
Many of us and our friends, Syrians and others who defend Palestinian rights assume that your deep empathy and strong convictions about the sisterhood and brotherhood of all of us human beings include also our Syrian brothers and sisters and their more than legitimate struggle for dignity and equality that they have been keeping up now for more than seven years.
We would very much appreciate learning more about your thoughts on this.
Sophia Deeg, BDS Berlin
Halimah El Azem, 4syrebellion Berlin
Harald Etzbach, Welcome to Palestine initiative and 4syrebellion, Berlin
Iris Hefets, JVP Germany
Ruth Luschnat, Jüdische Stimme für gerechten Frieden in Nahost
Gabriele Martin, Free Syria Action Group, Berlin
Ahmed Matar, BDS Berlin
Anja Matar, BDS Berlin
Sina Zekavat, Alliance of Middle Eastern Socialists, Anti-War Committees in Solidarity with Struggles for Self-Determination
Italian translation of the above letter:
Well done to you all, the abandonment by the world’s left of the Syrian left is one of these most shocking aspects of the conflict. You’d think a peaceful, flower waving, freedom seeking revolution would be every socialist’s dream.