Supporters of executed Nigerian writer rally in Glasgow

Two friends of Nigerian writer Ken Saro-Wiwa, who was executed in his homeland last week. will speak at an intemational writers conference where they will condemn Nigeria's military government and the multi-national oil companies they say keep it in power. Banned Malawian writer Jack Mapanje and Femi Folorunso. a Nigerian research student at Edinburgh University, were already due to attend the event in support of imprisoned writers, which is part of Amnesty lntemational's Freedom Festival in Glasgow. But it has been lent added poignancy by the hanging of Sam- Wiwa and eight other environmental campaigners.

‘Like most people I am terribly depressed and angry at the same time.‘ said Folorunso. ‘l knew Ken personally and we were in the campaign for democracy in Nigeria together. My own

. v“ c.4532“ jg", Writing wrongs: poet Jack Mapanle who i was imprisoned for three years without trial worry now is what will happen to Nigeria. which is faced with a terribly brutal dictatorship. Last night I heard off two friends in Nigeria both

newspaper editors - who had fled the country after hearing they would be shot on sight.‘

The nine Nigerians who were executed had all been tried in connection with the deaths of four tribal chiefs in the Ogoni area of Nigeria last year. The trial was condemned by observers who witnessed it and Prime Minister John Major described it as ‘fraudulent'. All nine activists claimed oil drilling in the area was causing massive environmental damage. Ogoniland

environmental protesters say the region

suffers from the pollution. but none of the economic benefits. of the oil industry. Shell. one of the major oil

producers in the area. now faces further

i international condemnation after a : concerted campaign earlier this year to

stop it dumping the Brent Spar platform

at sea.

‘The nine activists were executed for Shell and the oil companies operating in Nigeria.‘ said Folorunso. ‘l was impressed by the Brent Spar protest. but there are a million Brent Spats around the world. I appeal to the western public to look more carefully at the activities of multi-nationals.’

Shell. which had planned to develop a new $4 billion gas plant in Nigeria. said this week it would delay committing itself to the deal. The British and American governments appear likely to oppose calls for an international boycott of trade with Nigeria on the grounds that an oil embargo would cause hardship among ordinary Nigerians. (Eddie Gibb)

l i glit Through the Bars, organised by writers group Scottish PEN. is on Sat [8 Nov at 2pm in Hate/resort 's Hall. Glasgow. Call 0/4] 332 2995for details.

Rebel Inc puts Welsh on Internet

The underground magazine which revolutionised Scottish writing by publishing early work by Irvine Welsh, Alan Warner and Gordon Legge is about to reach a wider audience when it launches on the Internet. The last- ever printed issue of Babel Inc is published next month, but editor Kevin Williamson will continue to produce an on-line version.

‘l’m primarily interested in publishing some of the cool new writers who have emerged outside Scotland,’ said Williamson. “There are some great writers like Mark Luchard and Barbara Gaudi who are doing stuff that’s related to the material we have been publishing.’

The first on-llne edition will feature new poetry from Alan Warner and Alison Kennack, plus articles from back issues including Williamson’s notorious ecstasy interview with Irvine Welsh. Welsh, however, remains sceptical.

‘Everything’s on the Internet these days,’ he said. “I’m waiting till the dust settles. So many people I’ve know have got into it and I lust switch off after a while. I would hate for Rebel Inc to become involved in that kind of high-tech, middle-class stuff. I hope it keeps winding people up.’

Williamson remains convinced about the lnternet’s potential. ‘With communications media developing so rapidly, it’s a brilliant way of getting things out,’ he said. “Rebel Inc has an agenda under the surface which is different from other magazines, but i want people to work out that agenda for themselves.’ (Deirdre Molloy)

Rebel Inc's web site is at rebelinc. See Book Events for details at launch.

Ghild poverty and asthma linked in new health study

New evidence of the link between childhood asthma and poverty is making this one of the key public health issues of the 90s. According to two recent studies, children are twice as likely to suffer from asthma if they come from deprived backgrounds as those who are better off.

The National Asthma Campaign states the chance of suffering from _ disabling asthma is doubled for people ; in the lowest two social classes. This claim is reinforced by Greater Glasgow Health Board figures which reveal that a child living in local authority housing in Easterhouse is twice as likely to be hospitalised due to respiratory illness as one raised in an area of owner-occupied housing, such

as Eastwood.

The new statistics coincide with an announcement this week of Glasgow

install central heating in around 80,000 council houses. The city has a

poor record for respiratory problems,

many of which are caused by damp housing.

A conference on children’s health in Scotland this week will hear that the

raised increases the likelihood of their developing serious illnesses later in life. ‘childhood poverty lays

a down patterns of development which _ have an impact throughout the life of i a child and make it more likely that

3 they will die sooner than their

District Council’s £500 million plan to

conditions in which some children are

wealthier peers,’ said Damian Killeen, director at Strathclyde Poverty Alliance. ‘Poorer households are also more likely to live in cold damp housing in which children are more prone to asthma and other chest diseases. This experience increases

i their susceptibility to serious respiratory disorders in later life.’ This view is backed up by Dr James

; Paton, consultant paediatrician at

i Glasgow’s Yorkhill llospital. “The link

i between deprivation and poverty is

i very clear,’ said Paton, who believes the Government’s recent official recognition of the link is a significant 6 step forward. lllt is the most important political change this year, yet it has hardly been mentioned,’ he said. ‘The long tradition that you are responsible for your own health is being challenged.’ (Stephen llaysmith)

In Search of Better Health is on Fri 17 No v. Further details from Stepping Stones in Scotland on 0141-331 2828.

War reporter lunches new Bosnian charity

Paul Harris was a Scottish-based publisher with several clients in the printing industry in Yugoslavia when war broke out in Slovenia in 1991. While many of his business colleagues fled as the first shells were fired. Harris stayed on and turned himself into a war : photographer and reporter. “l‘d always , had a hankering to be ajoumalist and l

when the war started in Slovenia. l was 1 ' '

there before the international press corps had arrived.‘ he said.

Four years on. Harris has had his photographs and eye-witness reports published in many national newspapers. hungry for images of bombed-out buildings. Now to launch a ' new charity aimed at getting the printing and publishing industry back on its feet in Bosnia. Harris has published a book concentrating on a more human side of the war and its effect on ordinary people. ‘These are photos the newspapers are not interested in.‘ he said. ‘They are regarded as too soft. I have focused on the people. which I think tells more about the war than pictures of shattered buildings and shattered limbs.‘

All proceeds from the book Cry

i Bosnia will go to the charity of the

same name which, like several other

Bosnian aid organisations such as

Edinburgh Direct Action and Scottish

' European Aid, is based in Edinburgh.

Harris believes that the special

relationship between Bosnia and Scotland could be a ‘small country ; thing'.

‘I like to think I've covered the war from every point of view. although my

r . I 0 Heart strings: Bosnian cellist Vedran Smallovlc and Edinburgh musician Illgel Osborne play

in the ruins of a Sarajevo concert hall sympathies lie with the government in Sarajevo. i think rnostjournalists would admit that,’ added Harris. ‘I think that good and evil is fairly well delineated in this war though it's not the people, it‘s a handful of their leaders. The people are the same on every side.‘

(Eddie Gibb)

Cry Bosnia by Paul Harris is published by Canongate Books. The charity can be contacted on 013/ 667 3299.

4 The List l7-30 Nov I995