Kaunas

Jul. 27th, 2017 09:15 pm
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (Default)
I meant for this to be two separate posts: one for the fun stuff, one for the Ninth Fort, which is the most harrowing, emotionally devastating place I have visited since Buchenwald. But of course image hosting isn't cooperating, so unfortunately at the moment, if you want to see the fun pictures, you will also have to see the depressing pictures (which I promise aren't actually that bad, as I only really took exterior shots that are only disturbing if you know the context). This said, here is the gallery, and content/trigger warning for some of the photos being of a place where 30,000-50,000 people were murdered.

(Of course, I have no idea if you can even view the photos. I really need to work out my image hosting issues. Flickr is an impossibility at the moment while I'm out of Canada.)

Anyway! I'm sure somewhere in your mind, you were wondering about the fact that I keep posting pictures of pretty buildings and lovely, walkable cities. Admit it--you expected a bit more Soviet brutalist and you were wondering where it was. The answer is that it's all in Kaunas. Kaunas does have a cute Old Town but the stuff we wanted to see wasn't there, and where we're staying is pure 1960s poured cement. I will admit a slight fondness for it, though I wouldn't want to live there.

Our first stop was the Devil's Museum, which is exactly what it says on the tin. It's an excellent collection of devils of all sorts. Our one criticism is that the gift shop was missing some obvious opportunities as it practically didn't exist.

Then we went across the street to the museum of M. K. Ciurlionis, a Symbolist artist and composer. Cool, not the most exciting, but some lovely work.

We also rode a funicular, which is kind of like an amusement ride except not very good. But it's one of my favourite words now.

The main event was going about a half-hour outside town to the Ninth Fort. It's an early 20th century fort that became a hard labour camp, then a transfer point for deportations to Siberia during the first Soviet occupation of Lithuania, then basically a killing field under the Nazis. The second time the Soviets occupied the country, they turned it into a vast and ghastly monument to the victims of fascism, which subsequently was expanded to include evidence of their own crimes after Lithuania's independence.

I can't really describe it to you properly. Unless you've been in the remnants of a concentration camp or similar, you won't be able to get what it's like to stand in a place that is well and truly haunted by the unquiet dead. The museum consists of one building that's an overview of the atrocities committed on the premises, but focusing mainly on the Soviet occupation, several vast, giant sculptures and plaques describing the Nazi massacres, and the fort itself, which shows prison cells, interrogation rooms, a recreation of a Kaunas Ghetto house, and informational rooms with the requisite belongings of the victims. It's cold, and damp, and good luck ever not feeling that bone-deep chill again. Also, this is why we don't fucking compromise with fascists, okay?

Anyway we coped really well after, which is to say I had 1/3 of a bottle of wine and I'm just about shaking history from my head. Tomorrow it's back to Kiev, and then home.
sabotabby: (furiosa)
Lost amongst the much bigger (but also, of course, disturbing) Panama Papers story is this article, about the decision of the Ontario Court of Appeals that records from the testimony of residential school survivors can be destroyed in 15 years.

Wait, what?

This fills me with so much rage I'm shaking almost too much to type.

I grew up knowing about residential schools. It wasn't exactly a secret, and it ended within my lifetime. I knew they were rape, torture, and death camps from a very early age. I've known about the FUCKING MASS GRAVES FULL OF CHILDREN'S CORPSES for at least a decade. I only recently found out that most settler Canadians claim to have only found out about it with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission findings, which I don't really believe because I tend to attribute to malice what I can't believe is stupidity.

So, of course, we're going to destroy the records. Thousands of people were brave enough to testify to the rape, torture, destruction of their language and culture, and horrific abuse they suffered at the hands of the state and church, and the state has decide this isn't worth keeping. Probably in another ten years, it can be entirely forgotten. If there's one thing settler Canadians are great at, it's forgetting.

Oh yes, they're claiming that they're going to contact the survivors and ask if they want their records archived rather than shredded (obviously they do, though, or they wouldn't have fucking testified in the first place, would they?) but since a lot of them are dead and they're aging in general and we're not exactly talking about a stable population, I'm guessing they'll say, "oh, we tried to call them but the phone was out of service, into the shredder with the testimony."

And then Canada can go back to pretending its a shining example of human rights when it instituted genocide on a mass scale and there are dead children buried in unmarked graves.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (red flag over TO)
As you wave your flags, change your FB icons, set off your fireworks, and proclaim your love for this strong and free country of ours*, please remember that tens of thousands of First Nations children died in residential schools and the vast majority of people here truly don't give a shit.





* General "you," not specific "you my readers who know better." Sheesh.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (fighting the man)
Here is a thing that happened:

The government of Canada, in collusion with various churches, kidnapped, tortured, starved, neglected, raped, and in many cases murdered aboriginal children. They robbed them of their families and culture. They beat them for speaking their own languages. When they died—and per capita, more of them died than Canadian soldiers in WWII—they were not returned to their families but buried in mass graves that were abandoned once the "schools" were closed. This fucking abomination, our own Holocaust, committed on Canadian soil with the full blessing of the law and with willful, savage brutality, took place from 1869 to 1996, involved 150,000 innocent children, and dealt a blow to indigenous communities that still echoes today. How can it not? 1996. Do you understand how recent this is, how raw this wound remains?

And it's not a secret. It hasn't been a secret as long as I can remember. The Truth and Reconciliation Committee's report on it was released today, but the information contained therein has been in the news for years. I looked back in my "first nations" tag and found a post I made about Kevin Annett, who did extensive research that revealed estimated death tolls and some of the mass grave locations, in 2008. I remember watching "Where the Spirit Lives," which depicts rape, torture, and murder in a residential school, in 1989. We had like five channels back then, but it was on CBC, which you could get even if you just had a coat hanger wired to the back of your TV. My whitebread honky school showed the movie to us in class (different times; these days it would be too graphic to show to children). Even my shitty Canadian history textbooks, which existed to spread a false image of Canada as a multicultural, democratic, benevolent paradise, had a little paragraph noting that this was a thing that happened. (Minus the mass graves and the death toll, which may not have been that well known back in the 80s and regardless is not a thing that instills national pride.)

I don't pretend to be particularly knowledgable about indigenous issues. I'm white as the driven snow. I know some First Nations people, though not many. I've been vaguely involved in some solidarity activism. But I didn't have to go out of my way to learn that my government kidnapped and murdered children.

Like any decent human being, the fact that this was done enrages me. (Decent human beings, judging by some of the comments to today's Star articles, are at a premium in Canada. But if you are not outraged by genocide there's something wrong with you and you are #gulagbait.) But what also enrages me is the number of people who are acting like they had no idea this happened.

"We didn't study it in school."

"I had no idea it was that bad, though."

JESUS FUCK, people, what did you think happened? Why Oka? Why Caledonia? Why Attawapiskat? Why Bill C-51? Don't you live here?

Like, I get how someone brand new to the country might not have heard about it, as the fact that we fucking slaughtered large swaths of the indigenous population is not something that Canada advertises to new immigrants. But do people just never read the news? Is everyone just relying on Grade 10 Canadian history to be an honest and truthful representation of the European conquest of Canada? I'm actually raging here at how willfully oblivious so many whites must be to have made it to adulthood without having any inkling of the blood that permeates the land they've stolen. It's a testament to the brilliance of our national propaganda machine that it can convince so large a percentage of the population that this is not information worth investigating. And it's a testament to the sheer ignorance and racism of settler culture that, proportionally, more children died in residential schools than in Auschwitz or of the Black Plague, and until today few were willing to call it genocide.

Fuck off. If you were born here and didn't know, it's because you didn't care to find out.

P.S. We also enslaved black people. That's not in the history textbooks, but now you can't not know that either.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (day of the dead)
I've been spamming FB about this but I'm going to spam here too because it's important. Former Guatemalan dictator José Efraín Rios Montt was found guilty of genocide and crimes against humanity and sentenced to 80 years in prison. Fucker's going to rot in jail, and if I'm wrong about the whole atheism thing, he's going to rot in hell before the sentence is up. I'd like to see him hanged from a lamp post but this is pretty great too.

Xeni Jardin at BoingBoing has provided excellent blow-by-blow coverage of the trial, so you can read that if you're interested in the details and why this verdict is so important for the indigenous people of Guatemala. If you have more time, you should also read I, Rigoberta Menchu.

Speaking of Rigoberta Menchu, here she is reacting to the verdict.

Two of my friends lived in Guatemala for a number of years and are re-tweeting play-by-plays from the courtroom. Apparently, there are cheering crowds, singing this song, which has for years been one of my favourite songs of all time:

sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (ya basta!)
The first Thanksgiving, as reenacted by children:

sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (Default)
The first Thanksgiving, as reenacted by children:

sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (Jew jokes)
I went to see Art Spiegelman speak. I wish I had more time to tell you about it, but in the meantime, because of his talk I am now aware of this:

Photobucket

Did everyone else know and just not tell me?

P.S. Art Spiegelman is awesome.

P.P.S. So are my new thigh-high green-on-green striped kneesocks. They match my "Ceci n'est pas un pipe" t-shirt perfectly and I basically looked like a cartoon character today. (Appropriate, since I just drew four cartoons of myself because I'm an egomaniac.) I should have taken a picture.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (Default)
I went to see Art Spiegelman speak. I wish I had more time to tell you about it, but in the meantime, because of his talk I am now aware of this:

Photobucket

Did everyone else know and just not tell me?

P.S. Art Spiegelman is awesome.

P.P.S. So are my new thigh-high green-on-green striped kneesocks. They match my "Ceci n'est pas un pipe" t-shirt perfectly and I basically looked like a cartoon character today. (Appropriate, since I just drew four cartoons of myself because I'm an egomaniac.) I should have taken a picture.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (sleep of reason/goya/wouldprefernot2)
It's another one of those long days at school and I won't be around, so here are two discussion questions for you. Fight talk amongst yourselves.

1. What do we think of this news story? There's a lot in there, so let's pick it to pieces.

2. Speaking of genocide, the Toronto District School Board has a new history course dealing with the subject. It officially recognizes three genocides: Armenia, the Holocaust, and Rwanda. What's missing, and why do you think they chose to exclude the genocide that happened in the country where the course will be taught.

Have a happy Friday!
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (Default)
It's another one of those long days at school and I won't be around, so here are two discussion questions for you. Fight talk amongst yourselves.

1. What do we think of this news story? There's a lot in there, so let's pick it to pieces.

2. Speaking of genocide, the Toronto District School Board has a new history course dealing with the subject. It officially recognizes three genocides: Armenia, the Holocaust, and Rwanda. What's missing, and why do you think they chose to exclude the genocide that happened in the country where the course will be taught.

Have a happy Friday!
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (type something dirty)
You've all got the William S. Burroughs Thanksgiving thing memorized by now, right?
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (Default)
You've all got the William S. Burroughs Thanksgiving thing memorized by now, right?

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