‘Let’s condemn occupation and aggression, by anyone, anywhere’

IN MY VOICE: The world stands behind Ukraine now as sanctions against Russia are put in place. NFGL student Adventino Banjwa says Russia must be held accountable for its actions - but what about the transgressions of other nations, nations such as the US?

'Let’s condemn occupation and aggression, by anyone, anywhere'

Developments in Europe emerging from actions of Russia in Ukraine have fueled the decades-long debate on occupation, colonialism and imperialism.

With world powers forming a grand coalition against Russia, East-West sentiments have been pushed to record levels since the 1989 fall of the Berlin Wall. This article is not intended to challenge the move by the United States and its European allies against Russia’s actions, but rather to unveil the underlying hypocrisy of these allies on the subject of occupation. It is an effort to underscore the often-neglected cases where these allies are highly culpable on the same charges as Russia.

That said, the question I will pose to anyone reading this piece is who will hold these allies responsible for their actions, the way Russia has been hold responsible for its methods.

Russia’s annexation of Crimea following the crisis in Ukraine was a very unfortunate act. Apart from President Putin breaching the very agreement signed by his predecessor on security assurances to Ukraine after the nation gave up its nuclear stockpiles, there is no justification whatsoever for any country to invade another country and seize territory.

This move by Russia attracted immense criticism from major powers across the world, with President Obama ranking Russian aggression as global issue #2 after Ebola while addressing the 69th UN general assembly. Crippling sanctions from the US and the EU have seen the Russian economy shrink to record levels, accompanied by global isolation which even saw Russia being suspended from the G8 league.

But much as I feel that Russia deserves this, I also believe that many more deserve what Russia is going through today. As we rightly condemn Russia for aggression and bullying a weak neighbour, we should not forget that a number of other countries have either gone through or are undergoing what Ukraine is going through at Russia’s hands. We should stand with all these countries and peoples who are suffering the effects of occupation and aggression across the planet.

The families of over 2,500 people murdered by the United States in its infamous and illegal drone campaigns in Yemen, Pakistan, Somalia and many other countries, we should stand with them against this sophisticated and unpredictable US aggression. We should stand with the people of Iraq whose country was vandalized in an illegal invasion led by the United States in 2003 after bombing Afghanistan.

Yes, we should stand with the people of Libya whose country, a former glory of Africa, is now a failed state and a breeding ground for extremists and terrorists as a result of the US, France and allies’ bombs that violated UN resolution 1973.

More so, the whole world should stand with Palestine whose people, for nearly half a century, have lived under US-backed Israel occupation. Efforts from countries like Sweden to recognize the State of Palestine should be followed by serious condemnation and possibly sanctions against Israel and all those backing this illegal occupation project.

So, much as Russia’s actions are regrettable, those of the US and allies in the aforementioned cases and more are deplorable as well and must be condemned. All these actions constitute what today Russia is accused of – aggression and occupation. These and more are simple truths, but there is a sustained campaign to turn the message upside down.

We should debunk the idea that there is ‘bad and good aggression or occupation’, just as we refuse to accept the often used notion of ‘good and bad dictators’. Like dictatorship, all forms of aggression/occupation are bad and must be condemned and punished altogether.

That said, the fundamental question that lies before us relates to who will hold the US and its allies responsible for their transgressions?

Adventino Banjwa
MSc in Development Studies
Lund University

This article is part of the In My Voice series, which allows NFGL students to share their opinions, reflections, and reactions Sweden and the world's events. These views are not necessarily those of SI or the SI News Service, but are intended to stimulate discussion about issues facing the world today.

Please feel free to share your thoughts below – and contact us at the SI News Service if you are interested in contributing. 

Member comments

  1. I agree with the sentiments of the author with a caveat. We have a free press and a vibrant opposition movement to expose malfeasance inside an outside of the US. Unlike Russia, reporters and opposition politicians are not assassinated here. Millions of people every year desperately want to emigrate to the US for political freedom and economic advancement. Russia is a dictatorship, and we must fight the alure of fascism in Europe and the US by condemning Russia (Putin) for attacking a neighboring nation with a Democratically elected government, because Putin fears an economically successful Ukraine, allied with the EU, influencing Russian citizens, many of whose lives are mired in poverty, questioning Putin’s and the Oligarchs stranglehold on their nation.

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Sweden Elects: I’ve got election pork coming out my ears this week

The Local's editor Emma Löfgren rounds up this week's key talking points of the Swedish election campaign.

Sweden Elects: I've got election pork coming out my ears this week

There’s an old Swedish Word of the Day in The Local’s archives: valfläsk (literally “election pork”, or pork barrel politics).

This week, there’s been enough of it to feed a Swedish town large enough for both a Biltema and a Dressmann store and still have half the pig left!

You could say it started the week before last, when the Social Democrats’ Immigration Minister Anders Ygeman floated a test balloon loaded with a 50-percent cap on non-Nordic residents in troubled neighbourhoods (it went down among the other parties like it was made out of lead).

Then last week, the Liberals threw their hat in the ring by proposing mandatory language assessments for two-year-olds who don’t attend preschool, and then make preschool mandatory for the toddlers whose Swedish isn’t deemed good enough. This, they said, was meant to help integration in areas where bilingual children don’t speak Swedish at home.

“Studies show that early preschool benefits children whose mothers are low-educated and whose parents are born abroad,” their manifesto read.

Liberal leader Johan Pehrson’s statement that in the most extreme cases – where parents clearly refuse to let their children learn Swedish – led to a social media storm that conjured up images of crying toddlers being taken into care for failing to distinguish between en and ett when quizzed.

For any parents of multilingual children (who know better than most how language works in early childhood – I’m raising a multilingual baby myself, but I’ve only just started so if you have any tips, do let me know!), I should stress that the proposal is less extreme than how it was first presented.

This is typical for valfläsk, by the way. Take something that’s perfectly obvious and hard to argue against (of course mixed neighbourhoods and children being encouraged to learn languages are generally good things) but dial it up a notch, insert something immigration-related, promise to get tough on whatever it is you want to get tough on, and propose either something that already exists or would be near-impossible to implement.

Then the Stockholm branch of the conservative Moderates proposed that entire school classes in vulnerable areas should be screened for ADHD through optional rapid tests, in order to increase the comparably lower rate of medication among foreign-born children and prevent them from falling into a life of crime.

“Detached from reality,” said their Social Democrat rival and pointed out that the partly Moderate-run region was planning to cut the number of psychiatric care clinics for young people.

The Christian Democrats, never ones to be outdone, wanted to chemically castrate sex offenders, give police access to healthcare biobanks, and let police take DNA samples from people stopped in internal border checks.

But while many of the election pledges that get tossed around this close to the election (less than a month to go, now!) tend to range from the radical to the ridiculous and are unlikely to ever be implemented, they’re still worth paying attention to. They give us an indication of the direction the parties want to take, and could well reappear in a more watered-down format later on during the governmental cycle.

They may also become part of post-election negotiations, where even small parties hold key cards as the larger parties fight to cobble together viable government coalitions.

They also say something about Sweden and the direction of the political sphere as a whole, where the parties are currently racing to outdo each other on who can be toughest on immigration and law and order.

The Local’s reporter Becky Waterton has gone through all the parties’ election pledges to see how they specifically would affect foreign residents in Sweden – in case you’ve missed her article, click here to read it.

Also in the world of Swedish politics, a new poll by SVT and Novus has the Moderates and the Sweden Democrats neck and neck, Moderate leader Ulf Kristersson promised lower taxes in his summer speech and Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson tougher sentences on gang criminals in hers, and Sweden Democrat leader Jimmie Åkesson suggested changing the name of the Swedish Prison and Probation Service (Kriminalvården) to the Penal Office (Straffverket).

Sweden Elects is a new weekly column by Editor Emma Löfgren looking at the big talking points and issues in the Swedish election race. Members of The Local Sweden can sign up to receive the column plus several extra features as a newsletter in their email inbox each week. Just click on this “newsletters” option or visit the menu bar.