Home' Greymouth Star : April 11th 2014 Contents Greymouth Star
4 - Friday, April 11, 2014
We appreciate the value of the Letters to the Editor
column as a public forum for West Coasters and
welcome your opinion and suggestions.
Letters may be submitted by post, fax or e-mail and
must include your name, address, phone number
and - except for e-mails - your signature. Noms de
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Please keep your letters honest, respectful and
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reserves the right to edit or not publish letters,
especially those that are o ensive or too long.
Post to PO Box 3, Greymouth, fax to 768 6205 or
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uLetters to the editor
1814 - Napoleon Bonaparte abdicates as
emperor of France and is banished to Elba by
Treaty of Fontainebleau.
1913 - French pilot Gustave Hamel makes a
record return trip across the English Channel
from Dunkirk to Dover and back in only 90
1919 - Voters in a New Zealand referendum
go against prohibition. e constitution of the
International Labour Organisation goes into
1951 - US President Harry Truman relieves
General Douglas MacArthur of his command
in Far East.
1951 - e Stone of Scone, symbol
of Scottish independence stolen from
Westminster Abbey by nationalist protesters, is
recovered after an 107-day hunt.
1973 - Martin Bormann, Nazi
o cial pursued throughout the world,
is o cially declared dead and taken
o West Germany's "most wanted"
1979 - Idi Amin is deposed as
president of Uganda as rebels and
exiles backed by Tanzanian forces seize control.
2002 - Wouter Basson, a scientist who
headed South Africa's covert chemical and
germ-warfare operations during the apartheid
era, is acquitted on 46 charges of murder,
conspiracy, drug possession and fraud.
uWest Coast yesteryear
uToday in history
George Canning, English statesman (1770-
1827); Manuel Quintana, Spanish poet
(1772-1857); Oleg Cassini, French fashion
designer (1913-2006); Ethel Kennedy, widow
of US politician Robert F Kennedy
(1928-); Joel Grey, US actor (1932-);
Louise Lasser, US actress (1939-);
Jeremy Clarkson, British television
presenter (1960); Nigel Pulsford,
British musician of Bush fame
(1963-); Lisa Stans eld, British singer
(1966-); Ian Bell, English cricketer
(1982-); Alessandra Ambrosio,
Brazilian model (1981-); Joss Stone, British
singer (1987-); James Magnussen, Australian
"Only the vanquished remember
history." --- Marshall McLuhan, Canadian
communications theorist (1911-1980)
"And now I am no longer in the world, but
they are in the world, and I am coming to you.
Holy Father, protect them in Your name that
You have given me, so that they may be one, as
we are one." --- John 17.11
A New Zealand-
other large rms in expressing its con dence
in the future of the West Coast. Mr R W
omas, general manager of Foodstu s
(Christchurch) Ltd, announced today that his
rm had amalgamated with the old-established
Greymouth business of Duncan McLean Ltd.
"Our desire to come to the West Coast has
been prompted by the increasing growth which
is taking place in this area," Mr omas said.
e company is best known to West Coasters
as the parent body for Four Square grocery
stores, of which there are 1550 throughout
New Zealand. All of these stores are
individually owned and operated.
Police called to the Brunner Workingmen's
Club early this morning following a ght
between two men earlier, found one dead. e
other has been arrested and is to be charged
later this afternoon with manslaughter.
e dead man is Jack Clive Gri n, aged 38,
a Dobson miner who is married and has four
young children. He was secretary of the club.
e arrested man is married, 24, and an
employee of the club. It was not yet clear what
had been the cause of the dispute, detective
sergeant R Bridge, the police spokesman, said.
It has been reported that the dead man has
a broken neck among several head and facial
AXFORD - BOWDEN.---Mr and Mrs M
Bowden, Mill Street, Runanga, have much
pleasure in announcing the engagement of
their second daughter, Sharyn Lilian, to Brian
Richard Axford, of Sussex, England.
uToday s birthdays
uFood for thought
Printed and published by the
Greymouth Evening Star Co Limited
3 Werita Street, PO Box 3, Greymouth
03 769 7900 (o ce)
769 7913 (editorial)
768 6205 (fax)
Sports Editor Tui Bromley
Chief Reporter Laura Mills
03 769 7913
03 755 8422
Religion, not politics, driving force for many Syrian rebels
Con ict in Syria kills
hundreds of thousands
of people and spreads
unrest across the Middle
East. Iranian forces battle
anti-Shi'ite ghters in
Damascus, and the region braces for an
If the scenario sounds familiar to an
anxious world watching Syria's devastating
civil war, it resonates even more with
Sunni and Shi'ite ghters on the front
lines --- who believe it was all foretold in
seventh century prophecies.
From the rst outbreak of the crisis in
the southern city of Deraa to apocalyptic
forecasts of a Middle East soaked in
blood, many combatants on both sides
of the con ict say its path was set 1400
years ago in the sayings of the Prophet
Mohammed and his followers.
Among those many thousands of sayings,
or hadith, are accounts which refer to the
confrontation of two huge Islamic armies
in Syria, a great battle near Damascus, and
intervention from the north and west of
e power of those prophecies for many
ghters on the ground means that the
three-year-old con ict is more deeply
rooted --- and far tougher to resolve ---
than a simple power struggle between
President Bashar al-Assad and his rebel
Syria's war has killed more than 140,000
people, driven millions from their homes
and left many more dependent on aid.
Diplomatic e orts, focused on the political
rather than religious factors driving the
con ict, have made no headway.
"If you think all these mujahideen came
from across the world to ght Assad,
you're mistaken," a Sunni Muslim jihadi
who uses the name Abu Omar and ghts
in one of the many anti-Assad Islamist
brigades in Aleppo, said.
" ey are all here as promised by the
Prophet. is is the war he promised --- it
is the grand battle," he told Reuters, using
a word which can also be translated as
On the other side, many Shi'ites from
Lebanon, Iraq and Iran are drawn to
the war because they believe it paves the
way for the return of Imam Mahdi --- a
descendant of the Prophet who vanished
1000 years ago and who will re-emerge at
a time of war to establish global Islamic
rule before the end of the world.
According to Shi'ite tradition, an early
sign of his return came with the 1979
Iranian revolution, which set up an Islamic
State to provide ghters for an army led
by the Mahdi to wage war in Syria after
sweeping through the Middle East.
" is Islamic Revolution, based on the
narratives that we have received from the
prophet and imams, is the prelude to the
appearance of the Mahdi," Iranian cleric
and parliamentarian Ruhollah Hosseinian
said last year.
He cited comments by an eighth century
Shi'ite imam who said another sign of the
Mahdi's return would be a battle involving
warriors ghting under a yellow banner
--- the colour associated with Lebanon's
pro-Assad Hizbollah militia.
"As Imam Sadeq has stated, when the
(forces) with yellow ags ght anti-
Shi'ites in Damascus and Iranian forces
join them, this is a prelude and a sign of
the coming of his holiness," Hosseinian
was quoted as saying by Fars news agency.
Islam split into its Sunni and Shi'ite
branches during a war over the succession
to the leadership of the faith in the
generation that followed the Prophet
Mohammed's death in 632.
e hadith, or sayings of the Prophet and
his companions, have been handed down
orally over the centuries and are the most
important sources of authority in Islam
after the Koran itself. Many date back to
those medieval battle elds in what are
now Syria and Iraq, where the two main
Islamic sects took shape.
e historical texts have become a
powerful recruitment tool, quoted across
the region from religious festivals in Iraq's
Shi'ite shrine city of Kerbala to videos
released by Sunni preachers in the Gulf,
"We have here mujahideen from
Russia, America, the Philippines, China,
Germany, Belgium, Sudan, India and
Yemen and other places," Sami, a Sunni
rebel ghter in northern Syria, said. " ey
are here because this what the Prophet
said and promised, the grand battle is
Both sides emphasise the ultimate goal
of establishing an Islamic State which will
rule the world before total chaos.
Although some Sunni and Shi'ite clerics
are privately sceptical of the religious
justi cations for the war, few in the region
express such reservations in public for fear
of being misinterpreted as doubters of the
"Yes some of the signs are similar but
these signs could apply at any time after the
fall of the Islamic State (1000 years ago),"
one Sunni Muslim scholar in Lebanon said,
asking that he not be identi ed. " ere is
no way to con rm we are living those times.
We have to wait and see."
For the faithful, the hadith chart
the course of Syria's con ict from its
beginning in March 2011, when protests
erupted over the alleged torture of
students and schoolboys who wrote anti-
Assad gra ti on a school wall in Deraa.
" ere will be a strife in Sham (Syria)
that begins with children playing, after
which nothing can be xed," according to
one hadith. "When it calms down from
one side, it ignites from the other."
Hadith on both sides mention Syria as a
main battle eld, naming cities and towns
where blood will be spilled.
Hundreds of thousands of people will
be killed. e whole region will be shaken
from the Arabian Peninsula to Iraq, Iran
and Jerusalem, according to some texts.
Saudi Arabia will collapse. Almost every
country in the Middle East will face
unrest. One statement says "blood will
A widely circulated hadith attributed to
Mohammed says Sham, or Syria, is God's
favoured land. Asked where the next jihad
will be, he replies: "Go for Sham, and if
you can't, go for Yemen . . . (though) God
has guaranteed me Sham and its people."
Another refers to Muslims gathering
"at the time of war in Ghouta, near a city
called Damascus". Ghouta, east of Syria's
capital, has been a rebel stronghold for the
last two years.
A Sunni hadith speaks of a battle in
a town called Dabeq, in northern Syria
near the Turkish border, and intervention
by a foreign army to split the Muslim
ghters --- seen by some as a reference to a
possible Turkish incursion.
Syria's civil war grew out of the "Arab
Spring" of pro-democracy revolts in the
Middle East and North Africa in 2011
after Assad's forces cracked down hard on
But because Assad is a member of the
Alawite sect, an o shoot of Shii'ism, and
most of his opponents are Sunni Muslims,
the ghting quickly took on a sectarian
character, which has largely overwhelmed
the political issues.
" ese hadith are what the mujahideen
are guided by to come to Syria, we are
ghting for this. With every passing
day we know that we are living the days
that the Prophet talked about," Mussab,
a ghter from the Nusra Front, a Sunni
hardline group linked to al Qaeda, said
Murtada, a 27-year-old Lebanese Shi'ite
who regularly goes to Syria to battle
against the rebels, says he is not ghting
for Assad, but for the Mahdi, also known
as the Imam.
"Even if I am martyred now, when he
appears I will be reborn to ght among his
army, I will be his soldier," he told Reuters
Murtada, who has fought in Damascus
and in the decisive battle last year for the
border town of Qusair, leaves his wife
and two children when he goes to ght in
Syria: "Nothing is more precious than the
Imam, even my family. It is our duty."
Syria's civil war built upon sectarian
con icts elsewhere, especially in Iraq
and Lebanon, leading to a growing sense
across the region that all those power
struggles in individual countries were part
of a titanic battle for the future.
Abbas, a 24-year-old Iraqi Shi'ite ghter,
said he knew he was living in the era
of the Mahdi's return when the United
States and Britain invaded Iraq in 2003.
" at was the rst sign and then
everything else followed," he told Reuters
from Baghdad, where he said he was
resting before heading to Syria for a fourth
"I was waiting for the day when I will
ght in Syria. ank God he chose me to
be one of the Imam's soldiers."
Abu Hassan, a 65-year-old pensioner
from south Lebanon, said he once thought
the prophecies of the end of days would
take centuries to come about.
" ings are moving fast. I never thought
that I would be living the days of the
Imam. Now, with every passing day I am
more and more convinced that it is only a
matter of few years before he appears."
Shattered buildings in a Syrian city. Muslim foes see this was as a forecast apocalyptic battle.
Interesting to read of the progress made
by Paci c Mineral Resources Ltd on the
proposed mining of the Barrytown Flats
for ilmenite (Greymouth Star, April 5).
In the article Mr Hickey says he is
encouraged by "positive feedback from the
community". I nd this surprising as there
has been no community consultation,
public meeting of any kind or accountable
surveying of opinion, for or against the
e company policy of PMR Ltd seems
to be to deal with our community on an
ad hoc, basis, inviting people to
communicate with the company as
individuals or small groups.
For those of us around in 1991 this
compares unfavourably with Westland
Ilmenite's proposal, which included a
company representative calling on each
household in the area, public meetings
at the local hall and an extensive
environmental impact report (some 192
pages) given to every household.
I would also like to question the
number of jobs Mr Hickey says will be
created. I believe a lot of the work will be
undertaken by existing contractors and
will not create many new jobs. Westland
Ilmenite envisaged only 25 new jobs for a
40-year project, existing contractors and
imported experts being the bulk of the
ere are still many questions
unanswered, e.g. water rights issues and
the di cult problem of how to deal with
the two radioactive elements unearthed,
thorium and monazite.
Not least, perhaps, is the issue of
foreign ownership of land, and its future.
I wonder how many people realise that
this is a Hong Kong-based company
that will own over two-thirds of the
Barrytown Flats. is raises the concern
that a foreign company can come into
New Zealand, gain access to public and
private land, strip it of its resources,
take the pro ts overseas and end up
owning a substantial land asset, while
the community, who have invested their
lives in this area, seemingly have no status
I would like to thank the person who
picked up my tarpaulin and tie-down
rope, accidentally left on the ground at
McLeans Pit land ll last Wednesday
afternoon and then delivered to my
address. at person's action was greatly
At the last meeting of Friends of History
House, members were brought up to
date about improved signs, promotional
materials --- brochures and yers ---
subject to council approval. e aims and
objectives of the group have been written,
and the public are reminded that more
members are welcome to join.
e decision to keep History House
on its present site for the next four or
ve years has given a boost to e orts
to promote and re-brand it as a photo
museum also. It was decided to forward
material to the council for inclusion in the
next quarterly newsletter. e centenary of
World War One will be marked by special
A list of volunteers who may be able and
willing to give some time to assist with
tasks at History House is being compiled.
A wide range of skills is needed, from
painting to research. Give 768 4028 a call
if you can help in any way.
Friends are making a submission to the
Grey District Council annual plan with
ideas to promote the museum. e nal
form has yet to be settled.
Members spoke of the increasingly
positive way people regard History House
Museum and how it is an essential part of
the whole heritage of Greymouth and the
Who are those claiming what a
wonderful job they are doing for our
West Coast health system? Politicians
think it is okay to blame other politicians.
Researching this you nd it is not
true --- economic growth, high internal
debt, global recession, interplay between
governments are well documented issues.
National clearly de ned their policy to
reach surplus by 2014. is included the
major overhaul of health and education
sectors. National's e orts are well
Coasters are not stupid, they have
'lived' the past 14 years. e arrogant
and secretive DHB totally excluded the
public; it was not until the 'secret' 2007
proposal, leaked to the public, that they
became aware of how unscrupulous the
Every change the DHB carried out until
2010 excluded all public consultation ---
Seaview Hospital closure, mental health,
orthopaedics, maternity, the outlying
clinics, Buller, Reefton, closing the
laundry, trans-alpine link etc.
e DHB state that in-committee
discussions are important as it is all about
detail that would confuse the public. is
is rubbish as it is this detail the public
need to be part of. In the past, the public
never knew there was any planning or
If the business case model for Grey
Base Hospital has still not been selected
and nalised and the mental health
review still not released for public debate,
then why have there been all of these
In my opinion, the management of our
health system has been atrocious, yet there
are those who claim success and demand
A recent statement by the chief
executive, 'It would have been easier
to close Reefton', really sums up the
attitude of the Ministry of Health and our
executive management towards the West
Have a thought for the frontline sta
who have had to work under the 2000-
2010 regime --- apparently the toughest in
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