Home' Greymouth Star : March 16th 2015 Contents Greymouth Star
4 - Monday, March 16, 2015
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uLetters to the editor
1190 - More than 150 Jews massacred in
1534 - England severs all relations with the
1787 - First Fleet begins assembling off the
Isle of Wight before setting sail for
proposed colony of NSW.
1872 - The first English Football
Association (FA) Cup final is
played at the Kennington O val in
London; the Wanderers beat the
Royal Engineers 1-0 .
1926 - The first liquid-fuel rocket
is successfully launched by Professor Robert
Goddard at Auburn, Massachusetts.
1968 - In the Vietnam War, during an
operation in the village of My Lai, a platoon
of US troops massacres 500 Vietnamese
1978 - Former Italian Prime Minister Aldo
Moro is kidnapped by Red Brigades guerillas,
he is later killed; About 220,000 tonnes of
oil are spilled after the Amoco Cadiz runs
aground off the Britanny coast.
uWest Coast yesteryear
uToday in history
Henny Youngman, US comedian (1906-1998);
Leo McKern, Australian actor (1920-2002);
Jerry Lewis, US comedian (1926-); Bernardo
Bertolucci, Italian film director
(1940-); Jerry Jeff Walker, US singer-
songwriter (1942-); Erik Estrada,
US actor (1949-); Kate Nelligan,
Canadian actress (1951-); Isabelle
Huppert, French actress (1953-);
Flavor Flav, US rap singer (1959-);
Jens Stoltenberg, former Norwegian
prime minister (1959-); Lauren Graham, US
“He who does not enjoy his own company is
usually right.” — Coco Chanel, French fashion
“Keep your lives free from the love of money
and be content with what you have, because
God has said, “Never will I leave you; never
will I forsake you. ”. — (Hebrews 13:5).
A young Greymouth
seaman, who signed
on the collier Kokiri
only at the end of
January this year, was one of two victims of an
explosion on Kokiri as it prepared to berth at
Wellington on Saturday night. He was Ronald
Walton, 20, ordinary seaman, single, a son of
Mrs J Walton, of Packers Q uay, Blaketown,
whose late father, as a member of the crew of
Kaponga, sur vived its wreck at the Greymouth
harbour mouth more than 30 years ago.
One man was killed instantly, the second,
Walton, drowned and four others were injured
when the explosion blasted open the coal-
laden second hold of the Union Steam Ship
Company ’s coastal vessel Kokiri as she made
for her berth at 9.48pm on Saturday. Both men
who died were standing on steel hatch covers
which were hurled mast-top high.
Young Walton was thrown into the sea and
for a few moments after the explosion could be
heard calling for help but could not be located.
His body has not been found.
Coal gas ignited by heat in an electrical
substation for the for ward working of the
ship is believed to have been the cause of
the explosion, Mr P M Outhwaite, Under-
secretary for Mines, said yesterday.
Centre of attraction at Blackball on Saturday
was the erection of the local fire brigade’s
watchtower. The tower which was completed
by midday now stands 40ft from the ground
alongside the town’s fire station in the main
Perched on top of the tower which was
constructed from 3in piping is the brigade’s
siren, which was formerly housed on top of the
uFood for thought
Printed and published by the
Greymouth Evening Star Co Limited
3 Werita Street, PO Box 3, Greymouth
03 769 7900 (office)
769 7913 (editorial)
768 6205 (fax)
03 769 7913
03 755 8422
I do not quite know what can be done
about it, but it is only a matter of time
before a pedestrian is mown down and
killed while trying to cross from Olsens
Pharmacy to the main central shopping
block in the central business district.
Itisacaseofthequick or thedead.I
am not very fast on my pins these days —
quite often I am scared stiff trying to cross
there — at the intersection of Tainui and
The cars, camper vans and trucks come
barrelling around that corner at a rate
of knots. There should be a compulsory
stop sign or some type of warning, i.e.
‘pedestrians crossing’. Though I am
wondering if anybody will take notice of
any such signs.
Also, can anything be done to slow
down or put the fear of God into the
hoons doing ‘time trials’ on their loud,
rapid and insensate hurtling down Blake
Street from the airport to the river? Some
of those stinkers in souped-up cars are
fairly airborne as they blaze through the
intersection of Achilles and Blake streets.
The deafening racket is horrid.
A ‘bomber’ went past the other day. They
would not have had a hope of braking in
time to avoid killing a schoolchild or a
mum with a pram. It is hell here. We are
L A Elphick
I am confused. Who is the pest? Or are
DOC confused? Surely they have got too
many noxious plants on their own patch to
worry about yours and mine.
Or have they got plans for the broom,
ragwort, gorse and old man’s beard?
Mind you, they have done a good job
of eradicating banana passionfruit. Well
While People for the Ethical Treatment
of Animals (PETA) Australia would
never condone the disturbing threats that
someone is making to poison baby formula
with 1080 in protest of the poison being
used to kill wildlife, we can agree that no
one should be killed in this slow, painful
Dr Miranda Sherley, scientific officer
for the RSPCA, compiled a report on the
chemical and found that poisoned animals
endure foaming at the mouth, vomiting,
losing control of their bowels, difficulty
breathing, and becoming weak or partially
And a drover from Queensland reported
seeing his working dogs ‘screaming with
pain’ after they accidentally ingested 1080.
The World League for Protection of
Animals reports that animals poisoned
with the chemical can take up to 44
agonising hours to die. Those hours are
certainly filled with anxiety and terror.
And 1080 is indiscriminate — non -target
animals are often its victims.
In addition to being cruel, poisoning
animals is ineffective for wildlife control.
If a few animals are killed, and the area
remains attractive and accessible, others
will just move in to take their places. More
effective, humane methods of managing
wildlife include fertility control, growing
‘sa crifice’ crops, electric fencing, mesh
fencing, and metal tree rings.
This poison is banned almost everywhere
in the world, except for Australia and New
Zealand, and it is a dark mark on the face
of these two nations.
PETA concurs with Dr Sherley: 1080 is
‘not humane’ and ‘we need to move on’.
People for the Ethical Treatment of
Animals (PETA) Australia
Farmers key to Tb,
I would ask all farmers to be vigilant
when 1080 is used around their properties,
and to ensure they do not further
compromise our exports like the current
sick criminal is doing at present.
Many farmers in their hope to ensure
a Tb free future currently allow 1080
operations on their own farms without
fully understanding the awful mess of
pellets and fragments left behind for their
stock to eat. Some know, to their cost, as
they have suffered dead livestock after
It is time to draw a line in the sand and
say ‘no more!’. If 1080 is to be used — and
my personal preference is no more 1080
anywhere, either in our water, on our land
or in our air — then let it firstly not be
used on or near dairy farms, then dry-
stock farms, then no farms.
Let the cavalier uses of this dreadful
poison find somewhere else.
Secondly, to farmers: consider updating
yourself on the disease Tb and what ways
you can firstly avoid having it on your
farm, and if you have got it, how to stop it
going into the bush, but even once there
how to avoid any more of your animals
picking up this disease.
Thinking farmers have achieved this
without insisting that 1080 be used. It is
unconscionable to ensure 1080 is used to
save farmers from getting off their butt,
educating themselves and solving their
problem. Tb will not put them out of
business — 1080 will.
Tb testing will not give any security if
farmers are buying stock either, so there
are many issues to think about, however
it is not rocket science to work through a
programme and eradicate the disease from
the farm, or better still, do not get caught
buying it in — that is the single greatest
cause of new Tb infections now. While
traceabilty may help in the future there are
so many fish-hooks in it at present that it
is not working.
Say ‘no’ to 1080 operations on the farm
and say ‘yes’ to educating yourself about
Tb — do not rely on old wive’s tales
and communications officers, they have
Farmers should not inflict 1080 on
anyone else in our community just so
they can make a dollar. They should be
proactive and prevent any association for
our farms with 1080.
Farmers Against Ten Eighty
o you want
“ Yes, if you
can,” I say. “I
hear it’s quite
His name is Ashour (surname withheld
for his protection) and he will soon turn
30. He is an oral and maxillofacial surgeon
from Mosul but for the past six months he
has lived in a crowded church in Kurdistan,
Iraq. He has a bag of clothes, some blankets
and a pillow, but little else.
“It ’s not so bad,” Ashour says. “I am
displaced but I still have my life.”
Ashour is one of two million Iraqis
displaced after fleeing Isis and its jihadist
agenda of torture, indiscriminate killing and
Almost one million have sought
refuge in Kurdistan, the small, semi-
autonomous region in the north of the
country, sheltering in schools, informal
tent settlements, churches, and the bare,
concrete skeletons of unfinished buildings
that pepper the Middle East ’s landscape.
I meet Ashour in Duhok, a city encircled
by mountains in the rich, fertile basin of the
Isis fighters are 35km away at the border
and engaging daily with the Kurdish
Peshmerga, but the region is largely stable
and remains under Kurdish control.
“Sometimes, the terrorists gain ground,
sometimes they are pushed back,” Ashour
He has found a temporary home in the
Ancient Assyrian Church of the East. Bags
of clothing, purple sofas, blankets and foam
mattresses are stacked waist-high and serve
as makeshift walls, neatly dividing the area
into rooms for the 50 families now living
I speak to a mother with a newborn
baby. She urges me to talk to the dentist.
“Everyone here has a story,” she says “ but
you should talk to the dentist. God is
watching over that man.”
Ashour shakes my hand. He is slightly
built with bright eyes and a warm smile.
I tell him my name and ask if he speaks
“Of course,” he says. “I am fluent.”
Ashour places three plastic chairs outside
the entrance of the church, and we sit down
in the warm winter sun. His mother joins
us. She does not speak English, but her eyes
are trained on her son’s face as he begins to
tell his story.
“I am a dentist and an oral surgeon,” he
says. “I do reconstruction work. People
who’ve had mouth cancer, or a car accident,
or been hit by an explosion . . . that sort of
thing, but I specialise in impacted teeth.”
He tells me he owns a house in Mosul
and two homes north-east of the city in
the Christian town of Tel Keppe. He has a
private dental clinic too, and he shows me
a photo on his phone of the waiting room
and the operating theatre.
I tell him I like the modern, lime-green
decor and he smiles.
“The operating theatre is very good. It had
very good equipment. State of the art,” he
The last time he saw his clinic was on
August 3. The next day he was stopped by
Isis at a checkpoint and arrested.
“I was travelling into Mosul to collect my
pay cheque because I teach dentistry part-
time at the university. I was owed six weeks’
There were four Isis checkpoints on the
road between Ashour’s house and the
university. He showed his Christian Iraqi
ID card and was waved through the first
three, but at the fourth he was stopped.
Mosul had been under Isis control for two
months. The militants had rapidly advanced
across the north and east of the country,
and on June 10 Isis fighters swept into
Mosul and took control of Iraq’s second
largest city in the space of a day.
Soldiers from the Iraqi army who were
stationed in Mosul had panicked. Ill-
equipped to deal with the size and strength
of Isis, they abandoned their posts and fled
to Baghdad and Kurdistan. The people of
Mosul were left to fend for themselves.
“Isis was very different back then,” Ashour
“The men in charge were soldiers from
Saddam Hussein’s old regime. They hated
Shia and they hated Yazidis but they were
tolerant of Christians.”
By August, new leaders were beginning to
emerge in the Isis hierarchy. They were less
tolerant of Iraq’s religious minorities and
Isis checkpoints had become a lottery for
every Iraqi, including Christians.
Ashour was told to get out of his car. “I
thought it was a mistake, so I wasn’t scared.”
He waited at the side of the road for two
hours until a convoy of Isis fighters arrived
in a cloud of dust, driving late-model pick-
The barrels of their AK-47s rested on
their wound-down windows, and they wore
dark glasses and keffiyehs loosely draped
around their necks.
They signalled for Ashour to climb in the
back. “I was the only Christian. The others
were Sunni. Most of them worked for the
He was driven 30km south of Mosul to
a jail controlled by Isis, in al-Qyara. He
was taken inside and guards took his wallet
and phone, and then led him down a long
corridor to a stifling hot, filthy cell. There
were nine men jammed inside. Ashour
became the 10th.
“The mattresses were stained with blood.
There was old blood. New blood. It was
One of the men in the cell was injured
“I saw him only that once. They came to
get him in the afternoon and told us they
were going to kill him. They took him
outside and I heard the sound of gunfire. It
was semi-automatic. An AK-47, I think.”
In the days that followed, Ashour
witnessed horrific acts of torture and
brutality. Guards came to the cells and
routinely beat and whipped the men,
striking their bare flesh with wire and
“They beat the men who had worked for
the Government. They were all killed. One
by one. I saw it with my own eyes. The
guards were trying to get information from
them. They had bad wounds. They were
bleeding. Then they were taken outside and
shot and put in a big, deep hole.”
I ask him how he knows about the “hole”.
“They told us. Isis would come into the
cell and say, ‘ This man is going in the hole’
and they would laugh. And then we would
hear the shots.”
“They will kill anyone who works for the
Government or the army. It doesn’t matter
if you are Sunni, they will kill you too.”
Ashour was told he would remain in jail
until the guards were satisfied he did not
work for the Government. They checked
his phone’s text and call history too.
“They kept saying they were sorry. They
kept saying they were sure I was a dentist.”
On the second day, a senior Isis leader
came to his cell.
“He told me they had been ordered to
take everyone’s property and spoils, but
Christians should not be killed. Then he
told the guards to get me fresh food. I
ate cucumber, tomato and lamb. It was
The summer heat in the Middle East
is unbearable at the best of times but in
August it is at its fiercest. Ashour says the
temperature in his cell reached more than
45degC in the afternoon and the stench
“Blood. Faeces. Sweat. It was horrific.”
He kept sane by telling himself he would
be released, but he worried about his family.
He knew his mother would fear the worst
so he asked a guard if he could borrow his
“I tried to call my mother so many times
. . . nine times,Ithink ...butI couldn’t
remember her number. I was furious. I
wanted to get a message to her that I was
He spent that night trying to remember
the number and the next morning, he asked
for the phone again. He tried another three
times, but each time it was wrong.
“That’s when I got angry. I told them I
couldn’t live this way any more. I did not
work for the Government. I did not work
for the army. I was a dentist.
“I told them they had two options. They
could kill me, or release me.”
The guards spoke to the leader and he
agreed that Ashour could go. They said
they would drive him back through the
checkpoints to his friend’s house in Mosul,
but first they offered him a shower.
“I laugh. I tell him if Isis said I was free to
go, I would probably skip the shower.
“But I was covered in dried blood from
the mattresses. I had a rash on my neck. I
was filthy. It was so hot in that cell. So I
had a shower. A fast shower.”
They drove Ashour to Mosul and he
stayed at his friend ’s house for five days.
Once there, he charged his phone and
called his mother.
“She can’t read so she didn’t recognise my
number. She answered the phone and said
I said “Mum. It’s me. It’s Ashour. She
didn’t say anything but she made a sound
that I will never forget. It is a sound we
make in the Middle East when we are
happy. It is a scream and a cry all at once.
“She was crying. She kept saying, ‘It’s my
son. It ’s my son. He’s alive’.”
His parents, fearing Ashour was dead,
had fled to Kurdistan. They told Ashour he
must try to reach them, even though the
roads had become dangerous. They said
Christians were no longer safe to travel.
“Saddam’s men were losing control, and
the checkpoints were run by thugs. Savages.
They were killing everyone.”
Still, Ashour thought he would try his
He asked a taxi to take him to the
Kurdistan border but the driver refused.
He said they would both be killed. Instead,
he took Ashour to his home in Tel Keppe.
“ I had no electricity, no food. There was
no market. I was alone in my home. The
neighbours had all gone.”
On the 10th day, and when he feared he
would never reach Kurdistan, the mosques
began to broadcast a message.
“They said everyone should leave
immediately or they would be killed. It was
confusing. I didn’t know what to do.”
Unbeknown to Ashour, the siege of
Sinjar was under way to the west of Tel
Keppe. Isis fighters had trapped tens of
thousands of Yazidi on Mount Sinjar, a
religious minority living in the north-west
The United States had ordered air strikes
and the mosques were worried Tel Keppe
might be bombed, or the village overrun by
Isis fighters fleeing the bombing.
Ashour found a taxi driver who was
willing to take a chance on the road. They
drove back through Mosul and on to
Kurdistan, negotiating 15 Isis checkpoints
along the route.
“They weren’t interested in Christians
by then. They were trying to catch Yazidis
from Sinjar and stop them reaching
He reached the border, was waived
through by the Kurdish Peshmerga and
has now been living with his parents in the
church in Dohuk for six months.
I ask him what he thinks became of the
other men in his cell, the men who were
whipped and beaten.
“Dead. I know they are dead. They all
worked for the Government. They would
have been killed. Every one of them.”
He tells me he can still see the messages
on the walls of his cell, written by men
who knew they would never leave alive.
“They were sad words. They had written
memorials to themselves and messages to
their families. They knew they were going
to die in there.”
I ask if he finds it difficult living as he
does now, knowing he has lost everything.
“ Yes, but I escaped with my life, so I am
grateful for that.”
He is wholly reliant on aid to sur vive. He
can no longer work. His homes are gone.
His clinic, too.
“There is nothing left,” he says. “ I have a
bag of clothes, that is all.”
He thinks a relative in Australia may be
applying for asylum for his family but he’s
“This is my life now. What can you do?
It is what it is. We just have to wait, but at
least we can wait together.”
One day, he was a prosperous dental surgeon. The next, he was taken from his car at gunpoint
and thrown in a bloodstained cell, where he watched as the other prisoners were taken out, one
by one, to be shot. Ashour tells RACHEL SMALLEY of the New Zealand Herald how he
Escape from Isis
Ashour witnessed horrific acts of torture and brutality when he was imprisoned.
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