Lockerbie and The British Council: Business As Usual.

 

The imprisonment of an apparently innocent man and the cold denial of justice to the passengers on Pan Am Flight 103 and their bereaved family is well-documented and anyone looking for comprehensive coverage can do so through “The Lockerbie Case”. (An excellent website created by Professor Black, a law professor responsible for helping set up Camp Zeist in the Netherlands, where Al-Magrahi and another Libyan, Al Amin Khalifa Fhimah, were put on trial. Professor black later became concerned with how the trial and later events actually unfolded). What concerns us here, however, is the under-reported threat that British workers (especially teachers for the British Council) would have faced, had Al-Megrahi died in prison.

Clearly, the foreign office were aware of this threat but, as far as we are aware, no attempt was made to warn potential recruits to the British Council in Libya or to stop the recruitment campaign itself. This is crucial given the fact that the British Council has been spearheading various initiatives to improve trade relations with the Libya and promote British interests. Key amongst these initiatives has been the Orwellian named “Peacekeeping English Project” (PEP), funded directly through the UK Ministry of Defence, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and the Department for International Development.

Being as Libya had, most likely, little or nothing to do with the Lockerbie bombing, it is no surprise that its people feel harshly treated in that they had to hand over two citizens to face trumped up charges and, furthermore, pay substantial compensation to the victims’ families (the US demanding 10 million dollars each). Had the Libyans not done this the country would have been subject to crippling international sanctions orchestrated by Britain and the US.

As the Family of PC Yvonne Fletcher can testify, Libyan leader, Colonel Gadhafi is a man who bears grudges and he is not concerned with who might get hurt in his bid to see his view of justice done. Thus in the case of six Bulgarian nurses “convicted” of deliberately infecting Libyan children with HIV, Gadhafi was quick to link the their case to that of Lockerbie. Not surprisingly, the mother of Kristiyana Vulcheva (one of the Bulgarian nurses imprisoned) pleaded with the UK and the US: “We are sending our plea to the British government and the victims of Lockerbie. We are well aware the issue is painful to all, but in the name of the most humane of the professions we ask them to be merciful and let Megrahi go.” And the compensation demaded by the Libyans for the families of the victims of the nurses’ actions? 10 million each. What a surprise figure.

 

Those who believed that the visit of Mr Blair changed foreign relations between Libya and Europe would be very much mistaken. Last year Gadhafi’s son and daughter-in-law were arrested in Geneva for maltreating their servants, they were later released and settled the matter out of court. This did not stop Gadhafi from suspending trade with the country and arresting two Swiss businessman on typical trumped up charges. They are still in prison with the Swiss government agitating for their release and a re-establishment of trade relations (the latter clearly being of more importance) .

 

 

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6 Comments

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6 responses to “Lockerbie and The British Council: Business As Usual.

  1. The BC’s actions in Libya are not surprising at all. I did a short stint teaching in Libya when the BC (not for them) was just undertaking their huge expansion and they were so desperate for teachers that they gladly turned a blind eye to the proselytizing activities of some of the people they were hiring.

    How’s that for putting your colleagues in danger?

  2. marxistelf

    Thanks Troy, its always good to hear from people’s experiences on the ground.

    It seems the British Council is now leading a scramble for Africa (i.e. trying to improve relations with countries which were formally under the influence of France and Belgium- most notably Rwanda)

    David Cameron’s visit there with other Tory “volunteers” was all about the same project and ideology.

    The truth, however, is something different from what they want to portray. See

    http://www.fdu-rwanda.org/en/rwanda/news-detail/article/rural-poverty-is-dramatically-increasing-in-rwanda-belgian-researcher-an-ansoms-reveals/index.html

    I feel sorry for teachers caught up in this game and even more sorry for teachers who actually believe the bullshit the Council espouses.

    See https://marxistelf.wordpress.com/2009/03/08/tefl-guardian-the-french-language-rwanda-and-imperialism/

    for more background on Rwanda.

  3. Ian

    I, too, was in Libya when the British Council first opened their teaching centre there and was somewhat perturbed to discover they were giving free English Language courses to the families of government officials and National Oil Corporation employees. When I tried to get more details using the Freedom of Information Act I was provided with information that was both inaccurate and incomplete. It was only because I had “inside information” that I knew they had not provided the information requested – despite them categorically stating they had done so. My complaint is currently with the Information Commissioner.

    What I did find out was interesting. These ‘sponsored courses’ were provided out of ‘grant-in-aid’, i.e. taxpayers’ money, and were for the purposes of “relationship building” – whatever that means (one could argue that bribery is a form of relationship building). Anecdotally, I also heard that this was done because word had come “direct from Number 10”.

    The British Council use their quasi-diplomatic status to gain unfair advantage and further their own commercial interests. By setting themselves up in Libya, initially, as part of the British Embassy – and let’s remember that as a charity they should be completely free of government influence – they put themselves in a unique position to enter areas forbidden to other foreign enterprise, e.g. education.

    The British Council is a selfserving organisation which, in an age where we are all having to tighten our belts, is something we could all do without.

  4. marxistelf

    Thanks Ian.

    You and D Blakie http://dblackie.blogs.com/the_language_business/2007/03/the_british_cou.html continue to do an excellent job in exposing the Council’s unfair business practices. keep up the good work.

    What concerns us most though is the ends not necessarily the means (taxpayer money, charitable status etc). After all we believe in supporting the “taxpayer” ESOL courses in the UK to help those non-natives living and working in the country to improve their English. Nor here would we wish to undermine the work of certain charities by depriving them their status-

    No our argument is that the Council is trying “groom” elites in other countries to support British interests, often in contradiction to the democratic and economic needs of the wider society. This is done in the name of charity. No democratic discussion or transparency exists with respect to this activity, despite the taxpayers’ millions which are expended on it. The BC describe their role as helping the countries modernise, we consider it plain old-fashioned imperialism.

  5. Derek Dodds

    I never had much time for the British Council, after reading this article and the comments, I now have no time at all for the self-serving bastards.

  6. marxistelf

    Apologies to readers, it appears the British Council has dropped its web page which once proudly explained how they taught English to the army commanders who enforce a totatalitarian state in Libya.

    The British Council are still happy to explain their part in the NATO alliance though:
    http://www.britishcouncil.org/learning-elt-pep.htm

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