Wednesday, September 25, 2013


Legofesto is exhibiting a number of pieces at the "War And Trauma" exhibition at the Museum Dr Guislain, (Museum of Psychiarty) in Ghent, Belgium from 1st November 2013 to 29th June 2014. Pieces to be shown include:
Ghosts of Abu Ghraib
Guantanamo Bay
Iraq: Civillian Death Toll
Sri Lanka: Bombing A Refugee Camp
Darfur: A villiage Attack
Rape in Mahmudiyah

‘War and Trauma’ is one exhibition in two locations. These locations are directly linked to the theme’s two essential parts, both are lieux de mémoire: one in the location of the war and the front, and one where psychiatry and mental suffering in Flanders and Belgium were ‘acknowledged’ for the first time and where a mental institution was built.

On the eve of the great commemorations for the First World War, this double exhibition makes it clear that our concern, even after 100 years, should be for the fate of the people. Flanders Fields Museum in Ypres features the organisation of general medical care at the front during the Great War. Museum Dr. Guislain in Ghent focuses on the different conflicts of the twentieth century and highlights that specific branch of medicine, psychiatry. It tells the history from shell shock to posttraumatic stress disorder.

Over a period of 100 years (1914-2014), the Museum Dr. Guislain explores four aspects of psychiatry and traumatic experiences. One specific theme of war and trauma is emphasised for every period.

For further information please see their  website:

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Sri Lanka: Bombing A Refugee Camp

Britain and other EU countries sold military equipment worth millions of pounds to the Sri Lankan Government in the last three years of its bloody civil war with the Tamil Tigers, The Times has learnt.

The approval of the sales still raises the question of whether weapons from the EU were used in the last five months of Sri Lanka’s 26-year civil war, during which UN officials estimate that 20,000 civilians were killed.

“I think we need answers about what these were used for,” said Mike Gapes, a Labour MP who chairs the Commons Foreign Affairs Select Committee and is a member of the Committee on Arms Export Controls.

The sales were cleared despite the 1998 EU Code of Conduct on Arms Exports, which restricts transfers to countries facing internal conflicts or with poor human rights records and a history of violating international law.

Human Rights Watch researcher Anna Neistat says both sides in Sri Lanka's conflict are violating the laws of war. Approximately 100,000 civilians are trapped in a government-declared "no-fire zone" in the northern Vanni region. Tamil Tiger (LTTE) rebels have prevented civilians from leaving a tiny strip of land, while government
forces have repeatedly and indiscriminately shelled the area. (link)

Source photographs of the shelling of makeshift hospitals and civilians in refugee camps in Tamil controlled areas by the Sri Lankan government can be found here, here, here and here.

We in the West need to campaign to stop our own leaders from fueling internal conflict, human rights abuses and war crimes, massive casualties, and poverty through selling arms to be used on civilian populations.

Control Arms campaigns to strengthen Arms Treaties. Find them here

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Burma: The Protest of the Monks

Buddhist monks pray at a riot police roadblock in downtown Yangon, Myanmar, Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2007. About 10,000 anti-government protesters gathered again in Yangon on Thursday despite a violent crackdown by security forces that drew international appeals for restraint by Myanmar's ruling junta (Link to original image)

A Buddhist monk runs past a motorcycle which was burned in Yangon, Myanmar on Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2007. Security forces fired warning shots and tear gas canisters while hauling militant Buddhist monks away in trucks Wednesday as they tried to stop anti-government demonstrations in defiance of a ban on assembly. (Link to original image)

A wounded Japanese photographer, Kenji Nagai, lay before a Burmese soldier on Thursday in Yangon, Myanmar, as troops attacked protesters. Mr. Nagai later died. (link to original image)

Further images in this series can be found on my Flickr site

Irresponsible arms transfers fuel conflict, poverty and human rights abuses.Sign the Control Arms petition here

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Darfur: A village attack

The suffering in Darfur is on an almost unimaginable scale: some 4.5 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance and their number continues to grow as violence and intimidation forces thousands more to flee their homes each month. Many have been forced to abandon their homes several times to try to find some kind of safety. (source)

Countless women and girls have been raped. Hundreds of villages have been bombed and burned; water sources and food stocks have been destroyed, property and livestock looted. Mosques, schools and hospitals have been burnt to the ground. (source)

These are recreations in LEGO of drawing done by children survivors of such attacks. These drawing are to be allowed as evidence in war crimes trials. (source)

The original drawings and testimony can be found:
here, here, here, and here

In making these models I came across a campaign that is trying to stop arms ending up in the wrong hands - like the ones my models show. If you want to do something about this situation, you can help control the flow of weapons world wide by joining the Control Arms petition to President Obama calling for his support for an effective arms trade treaty [LINK]

Go on, do your bit and sign the petition.

Further images in this series can be found on my Flickr site

Sunday, April 26, 2009

G20: Death at a protest

Death at G20 protest 1

Death at G20 protest 2

Death at G20 protest 3

Death at G20 protest 4

On the 1st of April, 2009, as the leaders of the 20 most powerful nations met in London, a man walking through the City was beaten by police; he subsequently died. Not only have police repeatedly lied about the events - initially stating they had had no contact with Ian Tomlinson prior to a passer-by finding him collapsed and dying - but they had their own pathologist do the postmortem, whose findings have been subsequently overruled by a second postmortem. A third postmortem is in the offing. Ian's family want answers.

Read the story here, watch a collection of footage taken by journalists and members of the public, each and every one of whom was breaking the law under anti-terror legislation by filming the police. Also in photos here.

Read about the "incident" which could have destroyed some of the essential evidence here.


Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Iraq: "We Don't do Body Counts"

Iraq: Civilian Death Toll

Lieutenant General Tommy Franks, who led the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan during his time as head of US Central Command, once announced, "We don't do body counts." This blunt response to a question about civilian casualties was an attempt to distance George Bush's wars from the disaster of Vietnam. One of the rituals of that earlier conflict was the daily announcement of how many Vietnamese fighters US forces had killed. It was supposed to convince a sceptical American public that victory was coming. But the "body count" concept sounded callous - and never more so than when it emerged that many of the alleged guerrilla dead were in fact women, children and other unarmed civilians.

Read the rest of What is the real death toll in Iraq? here

Links to death toll reports:

The Lancet reports are here: 2004
and the 2006 follow up report

Les Roberts:
Iraq's death toll is far worse than our leaders admit

Ignorance of Iraqi death toll no longer an option

Blairwatch: Blair And Bush Hit By Friendly Fire

The ORB report: More than one million Iraqis murdered

Iraq: Mission Accomplished?

Iraq: Mission Accomplished

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Northern Rock: The road to nationalisation

Northern Rock: a run on the bank.

Funding problems at Northern Rock, the country's fifth largest mortgage lender, triggered the first run on a British bank in more than a century.

As the Times put it at the time:

The jitters plaguing financial markets spread to the high street for the first time (in September) as thousands of panicking savers queued to withdraw millions of pounds from Northern Rock, Britain’s eighth-biggest bank.

The rush to pull out savings followed the revelation that Northern Rock had been forced to ask the Bank of England for a rescue injection of finance.

The timeline for the crisis, which threatened to undermine the banking industry (and destroyed Gordon Brown's allegedly fabulous handling of the surge in Visa debt economy) can be found here .

And then Alisdair Darling the Chancellor of the Exchequer stepped in to calm things down on the radio...


Friday, February 08, 2008

This Week: Abbott, Neil & Portillo


The best way to spend a Thursday night, watching BBC's politics programme This Week in bed.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Guantanamo Bay: 6th Anniversary

On January 11th, 2008, The illegal Guantanamo Bay Detention Centre will "celebrate" it's 6th anniversary. Amnesty International is holding vigils and protests worldwide to shut down Gitmo, which Tony Blair referred to as an anomaly whilst Prime Minister and Gordon Brown now ignores.

Many of the detainees (kidnapped and held hostage under the rendition programme) have been released, having been tortured and abused, held without legal representation for years, but the kidnapping and torture continues a pace. Bush and his Neo-Cons know Guantanamo Bay has to close, being nominally on US soil. Instead they have expanded the legal black hole of Bagram in Afghanistan, which is now twice the size of Guantanamo.

More links on Gitmo, torture and rendition can be found here.

As Britain's outspoken Ambassador to the Central Asian Republic of Uzbekistan, Craig Murray helped expose vicious human rights abuses by the US-funded regime of Islam Karimov. He is now a prominent critic of Western policy in the region.

Links to released Guantanamo detainees reading their poetry written whilst in Guantanamo Bay can be found here

Please feel free to add relevant links to articles on Gitmo in the comments.


Waterboarding: Charlie Don't Surf

Malcolm Nance, an advisor on terrorism to the US departments of Homeland Security, Special Operations and Intelligence, publicly denounced the practice. He revealed that waterboarding is used in training at the US Navy's Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape School in San Diego, and claimed to have witnessed and supervised "hundreds" of waterboarding exercises. Although these last only a few minutes and take place under medical supervision, he concluded that "waterboarding is a torture technique – period".

The practice involves strapping the person being interrogated on to a board as pints of water are forced into his lungs through a cloth covering his face while the victim's mouth is forced open. Its effect, according to Mr Nance, is a process of slow-motion suffocation.

Typically, a victim goes into hysterics on the board as water fills his lungs. "How much the victim is to drown," Mr Nance wrote in an article for the Small Wars Journal, "depends on the desired result and the obstinacy of the subject.

"A team doctor watches the quantity of water that is ingested and for the physiological signs which show when the drowning effect goes from painful psychological experience to horrific, suffocating punishment, to the final death spiral. For the uninitiated, it is horrifying to watch."


Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Iraq: Rape, Murder & cover-up

"AN Iraqi army doctor told today of his horror at coming upon a dead teenager "naked with her legs spread" after the alleged murder of her family by a group of US soldiers.

Testifying on the first day of a US military hearing to decide whether there is enough evidence to court martial four of the soldiers, the doctor described how he was called to the 14-year-old's home in Mahmudiyah, south of Baghdad.

It has been alleged that on March 12 five US soldiers left their post and headed to the nearby home of a Iraqi.

The young girl was allegedly raped and killed, along with her family, and the house set on fire.

The doctor said the girl's upper torso and her head were burned and she had a single bullet under her left eye.

Her five-year-old sister was found in an adjacent room, where a bullet had blown the back of her head out.

The girls' father and mother had also been shot dead.

The mother was riddled with bullets in her chest and abdomen. The doctor told the prosecutors that he was ill for weeks after witnessing the crime scene.

Reporters were barred from the hearing during the testimony, and the medic's name was not released, but a recording of his testimony was made available.

Two other Iraqis also testified but the media was not allowed to listen.

The "Article 32" hearing began overnight behind closed doors, to allow Iraqi witnesses to testify without the risk of being identified in their community, where there is strong anti-American sentiment.

Military lawyers ordered that the identity of the witnesses be protected, for fear that they could face threats from insurgents for collaborating with the US troops, despite their testimony against the accused servicemen.

Sergeant Paul Cortez, Specialist James Barker, Private Jesse Spielman and Private Bryan Howard could face the death penalty if found guilty of taking part in the attack.

A fifth suspect, Steven Green was discharged from the army because of a "personality disorder" and will be tried separately in the United States in a civilian federal court."

G.I.'s Investigated in Slayings of 4 and Rape in Iraq

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Abu Ghraib prison, Iraq: Torture #2 - starring unnamed CIA officers, plus Charles Graner & Sabrina Harman

"A Briton released from Guantánamo alleged that, as in Abu Ghraib, sexual humiliation was identified by US officials as a way of breaking Muslim detainees. In Iraq it was the simulation of oral sex, forced masturbation and human pyramids, withpeople kept naked for long spells.

Abuse allegations against the US have now surfaced in Iraq, Guantánamo, Bagram, in Afghanistan, and even in Gambia, where a British businessman told the Guardian he was threatened with rape and beatings while being questioned by US agents.

Part of the interrogating team at Abu Ghraib was from the CIA. There are clues from that organisation's history that it has found ill-treating detainees to be useful in the past. Two CIA interrogation manuals surfaced in 1997 after the Baltimore Sun obtained them under freedom of information laws. Reading them in the context of the pictures from Iraq and accounts from Guantánamo suggests that the advice they contain is still being applied.

One, dating from 1983, was written for use in Honduras. Entitled "Human Resource Exploitation Training Manual", it states: "The purpose of all coercive techniques is to induce psychological regression in the subject by bringing a superior outside force to bear on his will to resist. Regression is basically a loss of autonomy."

Sgt Frederick says detainees at Abu Ghraib were kept in isolation for up to three days in windowless rooms. According to the CIA manual, "a person's sense of identity depends upon the continuity in his surroundings, habits, appearance, relations with others ... Detention should be planned to enhance ... feelings of being cut off from anything known and reassuring."

The US denies it uses torture. While the pulling of fingernails may be out, coercion and psychological stress are permitted, according to the CIA manual. How to put such advice into practice is up to intelligence officers.

The 1983 CIA manual draws heavily from the 1963 "Kubark manual", named after the codeword the CIA gave itself. It explains what the US military may have hoped to gain by sexually humiliating prisoners. "The effectiveness of most of the non-coercive techniques depends upon their unsettling effect. The interrogation situation is in itself disturbing to most people encountering it for the first time. The aim is to enhance this effect, to disrupt radically familiar emotional and psychological associations ... When this aim is achieved, resistance is seriously impaired. There is an interval ... of suspended animation, a kind of psychological shock or paralysis. It is caused by a traumatic or sub-traumatic experience which explodes, as it were, the world that is familiar to the subject as well as his image of himself within that world. At this moment the source is farlikelier to comply."

This appears to be what US intelligence officers at Abu Ghraib have been putting into effect. Specialist Sabrina Harman, one of the accused guards, (the female soldier seen in these pictures) testified that it was her job to keep prisoners awake, including the hooded man placed on a box with wires attached to his fingers, toes and genitals.

According to the New Yorker, she stated: "MI [military intelligence] wanted to get them to talk. It is Graner [a guard] and Frederick's job to do things for MI ... to get these people to talk." The Kubark manual states that "resistance is sapped principally by psychological rather than physical pressures". It also warns that approval from headquarters is needed for "bodily harm" or "medical, chemical or electrical methods"."

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Israel in Lebanon: "If You Haven't Left, You're Hezbollah"

"SIDON, Lebanon, Jul 30 (IPS) - The Israeli attack on Qana has taken the biggest toll of the war, but it is only one of countless lethal attacks on civilians in Lebanon.

Large numbers fled the south after Israelis dropped leaflets warning of attacks. Others have been unable to leave, often because they have not found the means. The Israelis have taken that to mean that they are therefore Hezbollah.

Israeli justice minister Haim Ramon announced on Israeli army radio Thursday that "all those in south Lebanon are terrorists who are related in some way to Hezbollah."

Justifying the collective punishment of people in southern Lebanon, Ramon added, "In order to prevent casualties among Israeli soldiers battling Hezbollah militants in southern Lebanon, villages should be flattened by the Israeli air force before ground troops move in."

This policy explains the large number of wounded in the hospitals of Sidon in the south..

Wounded people from southern Lebanon narrate countless instances of indiscriminate attacks by the Israeli military.

Thirty-six-year-old Khuder Gazali, an ambulance driver whose arm was blown off by an Israeli rocket, told IPS that his ambulance was hit while trying to rescue civilians whose home had just been bombed.

"Last Sunday people came to us and asked us to go help some people after their home was bombed by the Israelis," he said from his bed in Hamoudi Hospital in Sidon, the largest in southern Lebanon. "We found one of them, without his legs,
lying in a garden, so we tried to take him to the nearest hospital."

On way to the hospital an Israeli Apache helicopter hit his ambulance with a rocket, severely injuring him and the four people in the back of the vehicle, he said.

"So then another ambulance tried to reach us to rescue us, but it too was bombed by an Apache, killing everyone inside it," he said. "Then it was a third ambulance which finally managed to rescue us."

Khuder, who had shrapnel wounds all over his body, said "this is a crime, and I want people in the west to know the Israelis do not differentiate between innocent people and fighters. They are committing acts of evil.. They are attacking civilians, and they are criminals." "