Schlagwort-Archive: Andrej Hunko

Introduction to the book «Political and ecological Metamorphoses» of Swiss Investigative Photo-Journalist Gerd M. Müller

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The youth unrest and political scandals in the 80s

Zürich-City: The police is blocking the road/bridge at labour day on May 1st at the Grossminster. © GMC

The journey around the globe to various trouble spots and cultural highlights begins in my hometown of Zurich. 1980 was the year that would shake up staid society in Switzerland and plow it over the course of the 1980s, as a tsunami rolled in on the conservative middle class and political class. In May of the same year, the „Opera House Riots“ began as a prelude to the „Zurich Youth Riots“ that followed. This was triggered by the latent dissatisfaction of the youth with the few facilities and free spaces available to them. This manifested itself most conspicuously in the upcoming vote on a city subsidy of 60 million francs for the opera house and, in return, no 10,000 francs for the „Rote Fabrik,“ at that time the only youth cultural center in the city of Zurich. It was the time of rebellion, free development, politicization, sex and drug orgies and street fights, musically accompanied by the „Rolling Stones“, „Doors“ or „Deep Purple“, who were as much our musical gods as Bob Dylan, Janis Joplin and Jil Scott Heron. Nothing was the same anymore and there was no going back! When the „punks“ emerged in the mid-1970s, first in New York, then the punk scene in London, the offshoots also spilled over into Switzerland. Soon local scenes developed, especially in Zurich. It was also the time of the anarchists and utopians. We debated and criticized fiercely, argued and showed solidarity with the oppressed peoples. In the maelstrom of this explosive attempt at liberation and boundless life, there were no end of raucous parties, but more and more hard drugs, such as heroin, cocaine and amphetamines, were added to the mix. …

Coincidentally, on Saturday afternoon, May 30, 1980, I was riding the streetcar past the Zurich Opera House, exactly at the moment when hundreds of policemen poured out of the Opera House entrance, which had been blocked by demonstrators, and beat the people lying on the ground (the so-called „cultural corpses“). They maltreated women and men alike. The naked state violence and brutal scenes took my and other passers-by’s breath away and made the rage in our bellies explode. Immediately I got off the streetcar, the first containers were burning and the skirmishes with the police began. When the police immediately started to use tear gas, rubber bullets and water cannons, the situation escalated within a few hours, as many young people were on their way home after the Bob Marley concert in the Hallenstadion and then streamed into the city center. Many spontaneously took part in the protests, which after a short time turned into veritable street fights. From then on, the police had nothing under control for three or four days and the street fights erupted with full force. The cantonal police station on Limmatquai was surrounded, two of the police vehicles were completely burned out, and the entrance to the town hall also looked a mess. The air in the Niederdorf was saturated with acrid clouds of tear gas smoke, denser than London in the November fog. The extent of the destruction was inconceivable, as was the impotence of the security forces, as the frustration of the youth and old-68s, pent up for years, turned into sheer rage, with which the demonstrators wanted to show the opera house visitors the one-sided subsidy policy. The first night of riots was followed by several more street battles in the course of that year, during which the „Bewegig“ of the autonomists formed themselves every Wednesday in the Volksversammlungen (VV’s) in the Volkshaus or occasionally also on the Platzspitz. Almost every Saturday demonstrations were announced, regularly the stores in the Niederdorf barricaded their store windows with boards at 14.00 o’clock, because the protests continued to gain momentum and formed up to large demonstrations with almost 20’000 people. The demand of the youth was simple: „We want an autonomous youth center“, an „AJZ“ must come! And that „subito!“

Legal? Illegal? „I don’t give a damn!“ was the motto of the rebellious youth

On the shores of Lake Zurich, topless bathing was widespread and women enjoyed the freedom and the pleasures of the new independence that the pill and thus the possibility of autonomous contraception gave them to live fully, which also expressed itself in uninhibited sexuality and polygamy or in the form of the first gay and trans parties. It was not a crime among us at that time and was not frowned upon for either women or men to have sex with dozens of partners and to try out different partnership models in the course of a year. „Sex, Drugs & Rock & Roll“ or rather „Amore et Anarchia“? Well, why the agony of choice? Preferably all together! Every kind of restriction was rejected, pure hedonism was the goal and the time of the birds of paradise had dawned. We wanted to experiment on all levels without restrictions and try out free love, while unmarried couples were not even legally allowed to live together at that time. That’s how prudish Zurich and the whole of Switzerland was back then. So it was all the more astonishing that the girls just melted away like ice cream or took the reins themselves, flirted fiercely and were out for a one-night stand. Anyway, back then, as a young man, every now and then you were uninhibitedly hit on by women who had only one goal, to share lust and bed and try out all kinds of things. An equally aphrodisiac and inspiring time, which is still unparalleled today! The women were shining lights for us, many of them very feminist self-confident and eager to experiment. „Emancipation, yes of course, we said to ourselves, and finally introduced women’s suffrage by political means. One (wo)man, one vote“ applied equally to men and women in the youth movement. There were a great many women activists who either made themselves heard or simply did what they wanted and how they wanted it, and no one from our circles was bothered by it. We, that is also the men, put make-up on each other and often walked through the streets to the „Rote Fabrik“, the „Drahtschmidli“ or the „AJZ“ with black painted lips, colorful painted faces and fluttering hair. …

In the maelstrom of Swiss political scandals

Those who where against the army where politically suspicious persons at this time. © GMC

In 1990, it came to light that both the federal authorities and the cantonal police corps had created some 900,000 „fiches“ on politically suspicious persons. According to official figures, more than 700,000 individuals and organizations were recorded, meaning that over a tenth of the population was classified as subversive. The radius of observation initially targeted foreign anarchists, Swiss socialists and trade unionists, writers, unwelcome political refugees and foreigners who were often expelled. With the rise of anti-communism, left-wing politicians and trade union members in particular were monitored. The official goal of the „fiching“ was to protect the country from subversive activities directed from abroad. The fight against subversion was a widespread slogan during the Cold War. The Parliamentary Investigation Commission „PUK“ brought to light how broadly this woolly term was understood. As the documents of the „Nach-richtendienst und Abwehr“ (UNA) sub-group revealed, zealous state protectors also considered „alternative“, anti-nuclear activists, „Greens“, peace and Third World activists to be potentially dangerous, because they could be communist-immigrant, enemy- or foreign-controlled or otherwise manipulated. So I, too, ordered my „fiche“ from the police and the Ministry of Justice, which turned out to be more detailed than expected, as far as the movement profile and contacts were concerned, but otherwise was very insignificant, except for the many black spots in the 14-page protocol, which was probably more intended to cover and protect the top identities than to bring to light state secrets, anti-state activities or a „treason“ of the monitored person. It showed the blind zeal of the authorities and the sad reflection of their informers. Very few of us were Marxists, Leninists, Maoists or communists or enemies of the state even if the slogan: „Make cucumber salad out of the state“ was chanted. There was a lot of state propaganda to shoot with cannons at sparrows. But we „chaots“ never received a „ticket to Moscow“. …

Then there was another political scandal: The „P-26“ secret lodge (Project 26) was a secret cadre organization to maintain the will to resist in Switzerland in the event of an occupation. It was set up in 1979/1981 as the successor to the Special Service in the Intelligence and Counterintelligence (UNA) subgroup and was disbanded in 1990 by Federal Councillor Moritz Leuenberger after it was made public by a Parliamentary Investigation Commission (PUK). P-26 members were not supposed to be armed in peacetime, but the illustrious secret society did not care about that. It was planned that they would become active as a group on the orders of any government-in-exile that might remain abroad, in order to serve as a source of intelligence; a combat mission was not envisaged, for that was reserved for the army alone. Nevertheless, the underground organization hoarded weapons and amassed large ammunition depots. …

Switzerland as Apartheid Aid to the Boers

Switzerland supported South Africa with military pilot training and delivered nuclear know how. © GMC

Peter Regli was such a cult figure of the „Cold Warriors“ and, as head of the Swiss intelligence service from 1991 to 1999, an illustrious, shady secret service figure. He organized secret pilot exchanges with the apartheid regime in the early 1980s. According to former South African intelligence chief Chris Thirion, the intelligence services of Switzerland and South Africa also agreed in 1986 to exchange know-how on chemical weapons. On January 25, 1988, the head of South Africa’s NBC weapons program, Wouter Basson, who later went down in history as „Doctor Death,“ and police general Lothar Neethling met with representatives of the „AC Laboratory Spiez“ in Bern. Under the „Project Coast“ the military doctor Basson wanted to nip possible uprisings of the black population in the bud with B- and C-weapons at that time. „It is a horrible idea that Switzerland could have secretly participated in this diabolical plan and could have been involved in the extermination of tens of thousands of blacks. Sources from the „NDB“ environment lead to the secret meetings of the „Club de Berne“. This informal organization was founded in Berne during the Cold War in 1971. It brings together the heads of all the secret services and the federal police from about ten countries, including Germany, the United States, Great Britain and Switzerland, and is still operational today. Switzerland was one of the founding members. The initiator of the „Bern Club“ was the Italian intelligence chief Umberto Federico d’Amato. The aim at that time was to build up a common cipher system, which also served well for intercepting foreign nations and in 2020 led to the „Crypto-Affair“… In the mid-1970s, the „Club“ was given an active role in taking action against left-wing terrorist organizations such as the „RAF,“ the Red Army Faction in Germany, and the „Red Brigades“ in Italy. After the terrorist attacks of September 11, the „Club“ gained increased importance as a body for political consultation between intelligence and state security services.

In 2001, the „Club“ initiated the Counter Terrorism Group (CTG). This group has reportedly been running a European intelligence center in The Hague since 2016. Since 2016, exploratory talks have been underway with „Europol,“ as the „CTG wanted to network with the police structures of the EU or individual member states. In 2017, German MP Andrej Hun-ko described the „Berner Club“ and its informal association „CTG“ as „hardly controllable. He also criticized the increasing secretiveness of police work. In Germany, riots broke out in Chemnitz in 2018 on the occasion of the controversy surrounding statements made by Hans-Georg Maassen, president of the Office for the Protection of the Constitution. His speech to the „Berner Club“ on October 18, 2018, resulted in his transfer to temporary retirement. By participating in the „Club de Berne“, Regli received information from the „CIA“ and the „Mossad“. But Regli went too far in doing so, „by taking too high a risk of endangering the security of the country and the international obligations and neutrality of political Switzerland. The fact that Regli was able to exchange information with „CIA and „Mossad also had to do with other persons who had his back and opened doors for him, such as the head of the internal intelligence service „DAP“. Urs von Daeniken and his superior, Peter Huber, both members of the „Club de Berne“. They fell out of favor after the „Fichenaffäre“ in 1989 and were cold-cocked due to public pressure. …

The 1980s were thus marked by great political upheavals, which the youth movement had triggered and thus politicized an entire generation, because the domestic political upheavals also had a lot to do with the international situation. With the schemas of the Cold War, the Vietnam War, the Six Days War and invasion of Israel in the Palestinian territories, the liberation movements in Latin America such as the Sandinistas in Nicaragua, the Tupamors or the „Sender Luminoso“ in Peru, as well as the struggle of the „Red Army Faction“ (RAF) in Germany and the „Red Brigades“ in Italy. Fueled by this, young activists were also inclined to abolish the army and shut down nuclear power plants (sometimes a reaction because of the Chernobyl nuclear accident). So we looked far beyond the horizon and showed solidarity or got involved with the Sandinistas in Nicaragua, who wanted to say goodbye to dictator Somoza, and with the Palestinians. The imperialist skirmishes of the USA in Cuba, Grenada and Panama also infuriated us and so it is no wonder that we went out into the world to discover new things and to abolish old ones. …

Attacked by a Guardia Civil special unit

Let me briefly recount at this point the Lanzarote adventure involving an operation by the Guardi Civil anti-terrorist special unit on our boat. We, a handful of people, were living in Playa Blanca on the Canary Island of Lanzarote at the end of the 70’s on board a sailing boat owned by a Swiss who lived in the USA and had arrived here only a few days before. A French skipper, a Moroccan boat boy, a Briton and the American friend of the Swiss boat owner had brought the boat here from France. Then there was a dispute between the boat owner and the skipper the night before about the fee for bringing the yacht from the south of France to here and the longer wait in Playa Blanca. The dispute escalated, first the Frenchman wanted to sink the boat, which the crew could fortunately prevent, then the Frenchman hissed in a rage and we already thought „that’s it“. But the „nasty guy“ took revenge on us by giving the Guardia Civil an anonymous call from Arecife airport before he left, telling them we had weapons and drugs on board. Then, the morning after the skipper left at 5:30 a.m., we were jolted out of a deep sleep because suddenly a herd of elephants stampeded on the boat, then military orders were heard and when I was the first to stick my head out of the hatch, I looked in at four submachine guns not half a meter from the tip of my nose. There any movement and excitement froze immediately. I froze and was then allowed to get out, then all my boat friends too. Half a dozen heavily armed elite soldiers of the Guardia Civil stood around us. After six hours, the search of the sailboat was completed without result and our torment was over. The task force departed again. We were relieved, but the day was not over yet and still had a surprise in store for us.  …

Senegal 86: Zwischen den Fronten und in der Welt der Hexen und Heiler

A local tribunal takes place in M Bour at the coast of Senegal 4h soth of Dakar. © GMC

Senegal is a world of spirits, witches, healers and fortune tellers. Everything is very mystical. Curses are cast and people are bewitched, and somehow everyone is afraid of them. That’s why everyone wears a boubou, a lucky charm that is supposed to protect them. The dress cult is also legendary. The most beautiful, very colorful dresses and costumes are hawked in Dakar. The colorfully painted pirogues, the dugout canoes, line up on the beach in the hustle and bustle of fishermen and traders. As a means of transportation, there are minibuses that travel in all directions and stop wherever a passenger wants to get on or off. Dakar is an extremely vibrant metropolis. Day and night, because only from the evening hours the temperature is pleasant, while over noon it rises up to 40 degrees. In 1986, I was assigned as a station and tour manager first for three months in Senegal, then in Warsaw in Poland (i.e. in the then Eastern Bloc) and finally in London for another three months. On the first resident manager assignment in Senegal, there was a lull (as well as in Covid times), because at that time „AIDS“ had just appeared on the radar and medical science was still puzzling over where the virus came from and how it was transmitted. Therefore, there was not much going on at „Club Aldiana“ near M’Bour, here on the coast about a four-hour drive south of Dakar. Due to the „AIDS“ crisis, which drastically reduced African tourism, I had time for a short trip to the south of Senegal to the Casamance and also passed through Gambia. In a small town I rented a bungalow and walked around with my camera in the wilderness near the border and was suddenly stopped in the bushes by a troop of soldiers of the military of Guinea-Bissau and interrogated for hours. Since the commander spoke only Portuguese, it took me a while to learn that there was a conflict over the oil reserves in the border area between the two countries and I remembered a TV report a few days ago that the parties to the dispute were meeting in Geneva for negotiations at exactly this time. This was my lifeline and trump card, as a Swiss in this precarious situation. So I tried to make it clear to the commander that it would not be advisable if they captured me and thus endangered the negotiations in Geneva. He understood and, thanks to a relatively generous donation of money, let me leave unharmed. Relieved, I ran back to Casamance, that is, to Senegal. Once there, I had no more cash to pay the rent for the lodge. To do so, I first had to travel a day’s journey away to Zuiginchor to change the traveler’s check. So I told the hotelier about the frontier experience and my donation, which included the rent, and then walked exhausted to the bungalow to go to sleep first. But it did not last long, then two military jeeps drove up before my hut and eight weapon staring, Senegalese soldiers, got out. They had orders to escort me to the military governor,“ they said to me. „What’s going on now?“, I thought, trying to slow down the adrenaline rush. Half an hour later I was sitting in front of the military commander, who questioned me about the border incident. He had been told about it by the landlord and wanted to know more. „Shit“, I thought to myself, but today is a busy day, is war diplomacy starting all over again now? Now it’s a matter of playing everything down as much as possible and saying as little as possible, I thought to myself. I practiced this for a good four hours with the Senegalese commander, after which I was exhausted. Two military interrogations with hostile states in one day was a special test of endurance. …

Warsaw 86: In pole position behind the Iron Curtain

From the mission in Senegal, after only one day’s stay in Zurich, I went straight to Poland. On my arrival in Warsaw, where a „LOT“ airliner had crashed 14 days earlier, killing about 140 people, I was able to speak to an elderly man who understood English and helped me with the customs and immigration formalities for the 70 passengers from the West. When I thanked him for his help and asked his name, he replied, „My name is Henry Zwirko. This was the name on the piece of paper that the last guest in Senegal had given me. This could not be a coincidence, I thought intuitively, but was busy with the passports and entry papers, which could drag on for hours, since I was a newcomer here behind the „Iron Curtain“ in Warsaw. But the procedure was considerably shortened by the man who had introduced himself as this very Henry Zwirko, with a few gentle but firm words to the border official, and we were all able to quickly pass through border control unhindered. „OK,“ I thought to myself, the man is indeed promising. No wonder his influence reaches far, after all he is a Polish cabinet minister and his father a WW2 war hero. That much I already knew about him. But that I would meet this special man as soon as I arrived in Warsaw was quite eerie. Later, my suspicions were confirmed that the Chairman of the Board had facilitated the meeting and thus opened the door to an extraordinarily closed world for me, a world that many intelligence officers at that time, including our counterintelligence, would surely have envied. Less than two weeks after my arrival in Warsaw and an initial tour of Poland to Krakow and Zakopane, the body specialists and forensic experts from abroad arrived to investigate the plane crash three weeks earlier. As a result, our entire tour group (always around 50 to 70 people) was kicked out of the only middle-class hotel, the „Forum“ in Warsaw, from one hour to the next. From then on, we had to make do with lousy, run-down hotels for the next 14 days, sometimes sharing a hotel room in threes or a double bed in twos. Then I had enough of the disaster and had the local guests kicked out of the hotels with the bundle of dollars available, putting double or triple the room rate on the table and rented the luxury suite in the five-star hotel. As a result, things took off. …

„London 87: The first contacts with „ANC“ exiles“.

A tradition Zulu ceremony seen near Durban. © GMC

In 1979, a massacre took place in Soweto when 15,000 students protested on June 16 against being taught in Africaans from then on. 575 people died in the uprising, which lasted for months. Swiss banks doubled their lending volume. In 1980, the „World Alliance of Reformed Churches“ declared apartheid a heresy. This left Switzerland and the Swiss secret service cold. Unimpressed by the sanctions, Peter Reggli initiated the exchange of pilots with South African fighter pilots, but the Federal Council was not informed until 1986. The amount of credit granted by Swiss banks to the apartheid regime quadrupled. Year after year by 100 percent. As a result of the international condemnation of the Apartheid regime, Switzerland profited from the contemptuous, racist policy of the whites at the Cape. The „ILO“ demanded the world corporations to withdraw from South Africa and criticized the „SBG“ in particular as a sanction breaker. Nevertheless, in 1985 the South African regime receives another 75 million Swiss francs in loans from Swiss banks at its free disposal. In 1986, a state of emergency was imposed on the heavily indebted country and over 10,000 people were arrested, 1800 of whom died. „Peace became a threat to public security,“ says Archbishop Desmond Tutu, as the church paper, the New Nation, was shut down.

In 1987, when the United States wanted to punish companies that did not comply with the sanctions, South Africa’s President Peter Botha and his Foreign Minister came to Zurich to meet with „SBG“ Deputy Director Georg Meyer and the board of the „Association Switzerland-South Africa“, where they were presented on the spot with an „Order of Good Hope“ and another 70 million. And in 1989, thanks to Robert Jeker, South Africa’s regime also got a breather in the repayment of the outstanding loans of eight billion Swiss francs. This was the situation at the time that prompted me to go underground in South Africa for an inspection and further research. Switzerland’s relations with South Africa were at their most intense politically, militarily and in terms of the arms industry in the 1980s, when the enforcement of South Africa’s policy of racial segregation (apartheid) was at its strongest and was accompanied by serious human rights violations and of- fensive violence. Swiss industry has been a major player in undermining the arms embargo imposed on South Africa by the UN. The exchange of intelligence information directly contributed to the initiation of arms deals, the fight against apartheid opponents and political propaganda in favor of the South African government. Swiss industry was one of the pillars of the secret South African nuclear weapons program. The „Gebrüder Sulzer AG“ and the „VAT Haag“ supplied important components for the South African uranium enrichment, which provided the necessary fissile material for the six atomic bombs produced by South Africa. Thus, Switzerland was undoubtedly a supporter of the apartheid government in more ways than one. How did this come about? …

Underground in the fight against apartheid

White and black people where seperated under Apartheid everywhere also in the casino. © GMC

Politically sensitized by the youth unrest of the early 80s, as an opponent of nuclear power plants, a pacifist, and a conscientious objector on the political left, as well as focused on South Africa from a humanitarian point of view through my professional activities during my apprenticeship at the „Oerlikon Bührle“, I decided to fly to Johannesburg at the end of 1986 with the aim of getting to know the tense situation and the inhumane conditions on the spot, thanks to the contacts I had made with ANC exiles in London and the connections I had obtained through the „Anti Apartheid Movement“ (AAB) in Switzerland. I arrived in South Africa just at the time when the „New Nation“, one of the last liberal, critical papers of the Catholic Bishops‘ Conference under Desmond Tutu, was banned and closed down. I conducted a last interview with the just dismissed editor-in-chief Gabu Tugwana, which appeared at that time in the „WOZ“ (weekly newspaper), and was thus the first foreign journalist to see and photograph the decree of the hated Minister of the Interior. The apartheid regime censored or banned many newspapers until all possible critical voices were silenced. Spending on internal security, that is, on maintaining the racist apartheid system, swallowed up more than 20 percent of the gross domestic product. Then I dared to take the suburban train from Down town Johannesburg to Soweto, that is, to the black townships, at that time an extremely dangerous thing to do. Once you arrived in Soweto, you were quite alone and conspicuous as a white person at that time. Fortunately I had long hair and looked neither like a Boer nor like an Englishman, which probably kept many from killing me in the townships. Curiosity grew as to what I was doing here, and thanks to the „ANC“ contacts I had made in London and Zurich, I was able to reassure them, so that they trusted me and introduced me to the Town Ships. For a few weeks I lived with a family of eight in a small shack surrounded by tens of thousands of other shacks without light, electricity or water.  The goal was to feel the living conditions of the blacks and their everyday life within the framework of the racist laws on my own body and to probe with my own eyes. Soon it was possible for me to move freely and safely with my black friends in Soweto. And so I myself was scared as hell when I suddenly stood in front of an armored vehicle of the „SADF“ (South African Defence Force) again and firearms were pointed at me and one of the armed men shouted down from above; „What are you doing here? At the first meeting I could think of nothing better than to ask him the same question, only an undertone sharper. „What the hell are you doing here?“ and gently pulled out my Swiss passport, which helped defuse the tense situation and they then let me go each time unharmed. …

Mandela’s release and his visit to Switzerland in 1993

Meeting Nelson Mandela (the second time) as a newly elected president and nobel price winner. © GMC

From that first trip, I developed a deep connection with the country that I visited over 20 times, meeting Nelson Mandela twice. The first time shortly after his release here in Soweto, the second time, as President of South Africa and newly elected Nobel Laureate in Zurich’s „Dolder Hotel“ in front of the „class politique“ and economic elite (National Bank President and bank representatives), when Mandela spoke about his vision of a new South Africa as a „rainbow nation“. I was also invited to this historic meeting and took a few pictures of Mandela. When he mingled with the crowd at the aperitif after his speech, I stayed discreetly in the background. But obviously Mandela had a good memory and very attentive eyes, maybe he even remembered where and when in Soweto I was the only white person standing in the crowd of blacks shortly after his release. In any case, this prompted him to approach me and ask if we had ever met. I was astonished! When I replied, „yes in Soweto,“ he extended both hands to me. That was very touching! Thereupon all present bankers and politicians in the room stared at me and wondered who the long-haired freak was here. Fortunately, this remained a secret of me, Mandela and the South African ambassador in Bern, Dr. Konji Sebati, with whom I was once a guest in the embassy in Bern at a high-ranking event. …

IKRK-Einsätze im «ANC-IFP» Bürgerkrieg

ICRC SOuth Africa reporting about the victims of the civil war between ANC and IFP. © GMC

In late 1993, I accompanied a friend of mine, who was stationed in Johannesburg as an ICRC/Red Cross South Africa delegate, on his trip to the refugee camps to assess the situation there, to help the victims, and to support peace efforts to stabilize the country with a view to a democratic constitution and government for the „Rainbow Nation.“ We went to the then hotspots „Margate“ and „Ladysmith“ and „Empendle“ pro-logged the burned houses and the dead, talked to bereaved families and tried to mediate between the conflicting parties. A difficult, if not almost hopeless task. In 1994, another interesting meeting took place, with Miss South Africa Basetsana Kumalo and at her side Kwezi Hani, the young daughter of Chris Hani, who had just been murdered. Chris Hani was secretary general of the South African Communist Party (SACP), a high-ranking member of the ANC and chief of staff of its armed arm, Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK). The meeting with Hani and Basetsane took place in a casino and was observed. It was a very hot time and the spying on political actors and their families and surroundings was a well-known fact. And so I also became a target of observation. First a black man and later two white gentlemen tried to question me discreetly but emphatically and later another illustrious person tried to involve me in Gabarone, i.e. in Botswana, in South Africa’s internal power struggles. …

Thanks to the Zulu healer and book author Credo Vusama Mutwa, I was also able to visit Pollsmoor Prison in Cape Town (where Nelson Mandela spent the last years of his imprisonment) in 1997 with a team of Canadian UN health inspectors. The prison, designed for 3,000 inmates, held about 7,000 prisoners. Nearly 30% of the inmates were HIV-positive at the time, and many prisoners were held without charge for years, with many dying. The conditions we encountered were shocking. One spoonful of food in the prison kitchen was enough to give me staphylococcus and streptococcus. …

2011: Gadaffis Milliarden in Zumas und Ramaphos Händen untergetaucht

Aziz Pahad was appointed by Mandela as deputy foreign minister in 1994 and worked for the government from 1999 to 2008. Before that, he collected donations for Mandela’s election campaign and also received about 15 million from Gadaffi. The Libyan dictator also supported Tabo Mbeki. But Mbeki did not want to comply with Gadaffi’s wish to become „King of Africa“ and refused to support him, which led to Gadaffi buying Jacob Zuma as his next choice and helping him to be elected South African president. Through the decades of relations with the „ANC“ Gadaffi planned to have in the worst case a retreat and base abroad from where he could start the counterrevolution and for this he had a part of his unimaginable fortune of about 150 billion dollars (Forbes) flown to Johannesburg on 26 December 2010. The plane landed on the orphaned military base Water-kloof on the 2nd day of Christmas. Reportedly, there were a total of 179 such flights from Tripoli, all of which were performed by military pilots. The flight data was after each operation. Deleted. The value of the cargo, which was in ICRC crescent labeled containers with Libyan dialect from Syrte amounted to approximately 12.5 billion. US dollars. Besides mountains of cash also tons of gold and diamonds. Serbian George Darmanovitch, a Secret Service agent known as Zuma’s henchman, photographed the shipment upon arrival in Johannesburg and confirmed to investigators that the money was picked up by trucks from the ANC. He was obviously a little too vocal about the contents and size of the cargo. In any case, Dar-manovitch was shot dead in the street shortly afterwards in Belgrade, where he was meeting his family, and his two killers were also found dead. This was too big for Darmanovitch and his killers. From then on, Gaddafi’s billions disappeared somewhere in South Africa and only a few know where they are. In 2012, the first rumors surfaced that considerable assets of the dead dictator were in South Africa. In response, the transitional Libyan government contacted Eric Goaied, a Tunisian who was a close friend of Gaddafi. He was to search for the missing assets in South Africa. One of the reasons was that the new government had to build up an army and procure more than 200 combat helicopters and G5s as well as other war material for a good five billion, but had no money. When the Libyan government, namely Taha Buishi, confirmed the high finder’s fee (of 10 percent, i.e. $1.25 billion) for the return of the Gaddafi assets, this attracted a few treasure hunters who did not want to miss out on this deal. …

Gupta Leaks: South Africa as prey to Indian klepocrats“

South Africa: Thats where the Gupta family shoud be: Inside Pollsmoor jail near Cape town. © GMC

The mischief began with Malusi Gigaba when he came into government and successively filled all the important posts in state enterprises with Gupta confidants. Where is most of the public money spent and how do we get it? That was the business model of the three Indian brothers who came to South Africa with their mouse-poor father in 1993. First came „Transnet.“ „Transnet“ manages all airports, train stations and transport companies. Malusi Gigaba appointed Brian Molefi as CEO and Arnosch Sinn as CFO (2 orders for locomotives worth 5 billion went to two Chinese companies) „Mc Kinsey“ received more than a billion for consulting contracts from Salim Essa, business partner of the Guptas. 450 million commission jumped out for the Guptas on the locomotive deal. Money that flowed through offshore companies to Hong Kong and the Arab Emirates. Then Duduzane Zuma, Zuma’s son, came into the picture. He was closely associated with the Guptas and worked with them to perfect corruption and foster kleptocracy. Also, Cyril Ramaphosas, once a union leader who became a billionaire through mining company licenses at the end of apartheid, becomes Zuma’s vice president and shortly thereafter travels to Russia for a nuclear deal and the construction of eight nuclear power plants in South Africa that would cost more than $100 billion. US dollars, whereupon the „Shiva“ uranium mine was bought by the Guptas and Zuma’s son was given a leading position. This was how they positioned themselves for the nuclear deal, which was supposed to increase the windfall. And Russia wanted to achieve that South Africa is dependent on the donor country and the Zuma clan intended to commit itself with the help of the Guptas to an even greater plundering of the state. …

1986-2006: Mit den Khoi-San durch die Kalahari gestreift

Botswana: Two Naro-Bushmen are hunting in the Kalahri-desert. © GMC

Botswana can claim to possess all the facets of a sparkling diamond with its magnificent wealth of fauna and flora in the Okavango Delta, which is constantly changing its face. An eye-opener as a fence-sitter in Africa’s Garden of Eden, where a vital network of water veins supplies the largely parched southern Africa from the Atlantic to the Indian Ocean with the vital elixir. The Okavango, third largest river below the Tropic of Capricorn, originates in the rain-fed highlands of Angola. Although it would only be a few hundred kilometers to the sea, after 1600 kilometers the river heads for the 800,000 square kilometer Kalahari – and fans out into the world’s largest inland delta. In bands, the river branches advance into the barren and thirsty desert and form a unique biotope in the middle of the Kalahari. The world’s largest inland delta is about the size of Schleswig-Holstein. Ninety-five percent of Botswana’s water reserves come from the Okavango Delta, through which more than 18.5 billion gallons of water flow each year, most of it seeping into the sands of the Kalahari. If you look down on the pristine landscape of the Okavango swamps, which is crisscrossed by a labyrinth of river arms, swamps, islands, steppes and lagoons, the Kalahari shimmers to the horizon, sometimes golden yellow, sometimes deep green with blue spots. …

In the Central Kalahari live at that time about 16’000 bushmen and in the whole southern Africa their number is estimated at about 100’000. They are masterly trackers, notorious hunters, gifted archers – and true ecologists. They live according to the Eros principle, which connects everything with everything else: „Everything belongs to Mother Nature and Mother Earth. No one owns anything. Everything is shared,“ the young Khoi-San Suruka explains to me the worldview of the Kung-San at the foot of the Tsodillo Hills, the four sacred, whispering hills with the ancient petroglyphs, the oldest of which are said to be over 30,000 years old, which would probably bring us to the cradle of human civilization. And then there is the cave of the stone python snake, which according to scientists was carved about 70,000 years ago. To illustrate their closeness to nature, the smallish, tough people with the short, pitch-black curls and peachy skin tones tell us. They coat the shaft of their arrows with a poison they extract from caterpillars. The dose of the poison is chosen precisely depending on the animal that is being killed. Nothing is wasted – not even a drop of the poison. It is the same with everything else, the Bushmen and their wives take only what they need at the moment to survive. If they dig a fruit or a vegetable out of the ground, they cut it off at the bottom and leave the rest with the roots in the ground so that new shoots can grow again. The San have learned to survive even in the most inhospitable and arid regions of the Kalahari. This adaptability was born out of necessity, as Suruka continues to tell us, „When the Boers and other white masters threatened, drove and killed us, we had to flee to areas without water. So we filled ostrich eggs with water and buried them in the desert sand. So we could survive there as well. Our rhythm of life is based on the migration of animals and the tides, and we live according to the principle that nature belongs to all people and everyone should take only what he needs. Yet for centuries our people have been hunted, driven out and killed like fair game. Perpetrators were other African tribes as well as the European colonial masters among them the Germans. …

Kenya: IKRK-Mission im Rift Valley nach den ethnischen Unruhen

With the ICRC on tour through the refugie camps around Eldoret in the Rift Valley after the riots and clashes

When I came to Kenya in 2008, I first visited the region near Samburu National Park and was stationed at „Joys Camp“. The Samburu National Reserve is a 165 sq km nature reserve in the center of Kenya. The Shaba National Reserve to the east of it belongs to the same ecological area. Characteristic of the area are the very dry habitats for oryx antelope, grant gazelles, two dikdik and grevy zebras. Also typical of the region are the reticulated giraffes, which are distinguished from other giraffe subspecies by their particularly contrasting coloration. Other ungulate species of the reserve are eland and waterbuck. Among the predators, lions, leopards, cheetahs and striped hyenas are present here. In addition, the park was once characterized by large herds of elephants and numerous other game species such as waterbuck and Nile crocodiles. Sadly, elephant populations are declining here as well. …

In the election forecasts and preliminary results, opposition leader Odinga was still in the lead by a narrow margin. After incumbent President Mwai Kibaki was declared the winner of the election, the opposition party ODM protested. Its presidential candidate Raila Odinga declared that the election results were fraudulent. In the ensuing unrest, it is estimated that over 1,500 people were killed and 623,692 people, mostly Kikuyu, were forced to flee the violence. Finally, I flew to Eldoret and went to the local „ICRC Red Cross Committee“. I spent three days with the local staff driving around the refugee camps and seeing the reconstruction projects. It seemed to me that there was still a long way to go back to normality and the misery in the refugee camps with a total of over 100,000 people was very depressing. I had never seen such a scale, not even in South Africa at the time of the ANC-IFP conflict. Over 10 million Kenyans were starving and hundreds were dying daily from water shortages and lack of food. 3.2 million people were affected by acute water shortages at the time. Many of them had to walk up to 30 kilometers a day for a bucket of water and then carry it back. These are some of the staggering figures that the Assistant Secretary General of „ICRC“ and „Red Cross Kenya“ presented to me in his office in Nairobi. And more than 100,000 people were staying in refugee camps. …

Namibia: Schweizer Entwicklungshilfe im Reich der Geparde

A cheetha in the namibian Kalahari. © GMC

Due to the many travels and conflict experiences in numerous countries, I wanted to get into development cooperation and fly to Namibia via „Interteam“ (a Swiss aid organization) to work there for three years in the field of tourism and development cooperation. Specifically, it was a project with the local parastatal organization „NACOBTA“, which wanted to integrate the indigenous people ecologically and more sustainably in the tourism industry, in order to let the indigenous tribes there participate in the economic and sustainable tourism development. Unfortunately, shortly before the assignment, some foreign aid organizations cut their budget for „NACOBTA“ and so the „EZA“ assignment in Namibia was cancelled. Nevertheless, the „Inter-team NACOBTA“ assessment made me curious about the South West African country with a German colonial past and I decided to travel there. A key challenge in Namibia’s rural areas is building capacity to address human-wildlife conflict. The Cheetah Foundation (CFF) in Ojjowaringo has identified several landscapes in Namibia that need an urgent focus on science-based solutions to mitigate human-wildlife conflict (HWC). Key focus regions include the Greater Waterberg Landscape, the Gobabis Landscape, and large parts of the Kalahari ecosystem.The „Cheetah Foundation“ is one of the impressive wildlife projects in Namibia. It was the first time I watched these noble, elegant predatory cats in the wild and hunting for some poor rabbits, which were thrown to the cheetahs as breakfast food. CCF’s Namibian cheetah population study has been ongoing since 1990, with over 750 tissue samples and 1000 fecal samples collected to date. These samples allow for the study of Namibian cheetah populations over a 30-year period. Population monitoring within the 50,000 hectare game reserve is made possible by combining this with genetic analysis using microsatellite markers. This allows CCF researchers and wildlife managers to identify individual cheetahs based on both visual and genetic characteristics. …

Das dunkle Kapitel Deutschlands: Völkermord, Sklaverei, Landraub, Vergewaltigung

A brief review of Namibia’s history: In 1884, Africa was divided among the European powers and colonial rulers at the „Congo Conference“ in Berlin. Germany rises to colonial power, whereupon German Southwest Africa, today’s Namibia, was established and developed into a colony. By 1914, some 15,000 white settlers had arrived in German Southwest Africa, including more than 12,000 Germans. The German colonial administration ruled the area by means of racial segregation and oppression. The natives were treated as second-class people by the European settlers and were practically disenfranchised. Native tribes were forced to vacate their land. The pastureland that was vital for the nomadic tribes and their ancestral homeland thus increasingly passed into the hands of the settlers. This threatened above all the livelihood of the Herero and Na’ama pastoralist tribes living there. Slavery, land theft, public execution, forced labor, rape and humiliation became the doctrine and the agonizing daily order for the maltreated population. The uprising against the white occupiers began in 1904 with Samuel Maharero. The Na’ama chief, Captain Hendrik Witboo, was the icon of the anti-colonial resistance. He accused the Ovambo leader of cooperating with the so-called „protecting power“ of the Germans, thus opening the floodgates for conquest. Only after 20 years of oppression by the „Herrenmenschen“, the peoples of Namibia for the first time united against their oppressors.  On January 12, 1904, the first shots were fired against the occupiers. The rebels besieged military stations, blocked railroad lines and raided trading posts. …

Mexico: Von Göttern inspiriertes, von Gott beseeltes Reich

Mixtec Indios celebrating eastern in the church of Zacantepec in the mexican mountains of Oaxaca. © GMC

Mexico’s face, the cradle of archaic Indian civilizations, shines brilliantly. Both the ancient temple complexes and the contrasting, magnificent colonial cities of Oaxaca and San Cristobal de las Casas stand out like dazzling jewels from the Sierra Madre. In the homeland of the Tzotziles, Tzetales, Chamulas and Lacandones, the indigenous people are about as primitive as the people of Valais or Grisons. In the highlands of Mexico, one of the oldest peoples in Central America, the Mixtecs, celebrate their impressive Stations of the Cross processions every year. The ceremony represents a strange symbiosis of Christianity and the world of the Mixtec gods. In the deepest religiosity, the Indians worship both Jesus Christ and Mary Virgin, the Virgen de Guadaloupe, and their charismatic hero Rey Condoy, who saved them from annihilation and oppression. The sparse candlelight, the clouds of copal incense and the sea spreading out on the floor, smelling strongly of spruce needles, as well as the magnificently decked out dignitaries with their silver-studded canes as insignia of their dignity, transformed the nave into a very spiritual and mystical world. I myself felt like an alien in this indigenous community. Flickering candles illuminated all the serious faces marked by hardships. Then the Indio women shouldered the Virgen de Guadaloupe and the men a statue of Jesus Christ on their shoulders, after which the whole Indio troop climbed up the steep mountain. They split into two groups and I decided to join the women’s torch and candlelight procession. At the seventh Stations of the Cross, the two processions united at a small clearing in a square around the banner bearers and the women kneeling before their thuribles. Now the Padre gave another speech and just at that moment the sky fully opened for the first time and the sun shone like a divine spell directed at the small Indio community, as if they were being specially blessed by this gathering. Their chants put me in a trance and it was extraordinary to live this spiritual experience as the only „gringo“ and foreigner among the Mixtec Indians. Devout and overwhelmed by this authentic spectacle of deepest indigenous and poignant emotions, we too became part of this world and merged, so to speak, with them and their ancestors. The Indians must have felt this as well and gave me their trust and pulled me into their innermost circle. When one of the banner bearers came out of the circle of dignitaries and approached us, I was at first very frightened, because I had secretly taken pictures of the reunion of Jesus Christ and the Virgin Mary. I was afraid that they had caught me taking pictures and that I would be offered as an expiatory sacrifice and impaled on one of the lances. The fear was not unfounded, as tourists have been killed in Chiapas for photographing the local Indians. Instead, as a gesture of their hospitality, I was brought in to the center of the procession and allowed to be one of the three banner bearers. What a gesture and honor for me, which touched me very much. …

1994: Zeuge Zapatistischer Indio-Aufstände in Chiapas

Souvenier shop full with Commandante MARCOS T-Short, bags, stickers in San Cristobal de las Casas © GMC

The Chiapas Uprising was sparked by the „Ejercito Zapatista de Liberacion Nacional“ (EZLN), a so-called radical leftist movement that rebelled against new state impositions in the state of Chiapas and closely resembled a new edition of the Mexican Revolution. The Mayan Indians were suffering from the free trade agreement of globalization and racist policies in the Mexican administration, and they wanted to resist this because they were being oppressed and excluded from participating in the political process. The conflict began when, in January 1994, an „EZLN“ offensive occupied four towns around San Cristobal de las Casas, whereupon the Mexican military used violence and repression to end the situation on the ground, including the use of torture methods. In 2001, under the leadership of MARCOS, the Zapatistas made a march from Chiapas to Mexico City, and on January 1, 2003, they took San Cristobal de las Casas. Only after that did more and more NGOs advocate for peace negotiations and put pressure on the government. In the end, however, the fate of the indigenous communities did not change much for the better. After escaping this incendiary place, I experienced another severe earthquake in Chiapas and a turbulent hurricane in Yucatan. So Mexico has really not spared with impressions, it has always been a hellishly hot country, not to mention all the drug cartels that were fighting each other bestially at that time. Impressive was the river trip through the Sumidero Canyon, on whose slippery rock walls up to 1000 meters high, experienced climbers could pull themselves up over the heads of ravenous crocodiles and dozens of vultures were already waiting for possible victims. The misty valleys and enchanting lake and river landscapes of Lago Monte Bellos on the Guatemalan border and the wildly gushing cascades of Agua Azul were also among the highlights of this trip. I avoided the tourist strongholds, preferred small dreamy places and visited many Mesoamerican temples – from Teotihuatlan to Monte Alban, Palenque, Chinchen Itza and Uxmal and was deeply impressed by the sophisticated architectural masterpieces of the local indigenous high cultures with their apocalyptic drug use. …

Cuba 93: With the socialists who feed on hope

Pope-Visit in Havanna: Ten thousands of peoples on Plaza de Revolucion. © GMC

In 1993, I flew to socialist Cuba for the first time. It was for a Swiss film project about Fidel Castro and Geraldine Chaplin was the door opener to the socialist rulers. It was the „Periodo especial en tiempo de paz“ (the time of emergency in peacetime) when Cuba, after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the fall of the Berlin Wall, was plunged into an extreme economic crisis and had to undergo a soft system change. Through the „dollar liberalization“ in the socialist Caribbean paradise, in order to switch from the sugar economy to tourism, a revolution from the „socialist heart to the capitalist mind“ took place. The classless society was now split into two camps: Those with the green U.S. bills („fulanos“) and those with the worthless pesos, the „esperancejos“, the hopeful ones. Thus, the hunt for the „fula“ (bad money) has taken on Kafkaesque forms. The change was marked by an unswerving determination not to give up the socialist achievements at any price. And yet, since the liberalization of the dollar, a dramatic, inexorable change in values has taken place. …

La Habana – the Latin American splendor of the 19th century presented a picture of monumental desolation. Entire neighborhoods were in danger of collapse, the Malecon was a mile-long, dilapidated colonial-style ensemble, and the decay of the old city was far advanced despite financial help from Unesco, which wanted to preserve, renovate or rebuild parts of the urban ensemble. The two-million metropolis was a conspicuous symbol of the fact that the country lay in ruins after the fall of the Wall and the withdrawal of the Soviets. The dilapidated ruins of the five-story colonial-style buildings were removed by hand, pillar by pillar, under life-threatening conditions until the building sections collapsed. Since economic aid and subsidized fuel supplies from the Soviet Union stopped, the mercado negro, where 85 percent of all goods are traded, has become Cuba’s main artery. Almost everything had to be imported at high cost, even the staple food rice. Export revenues fell from over eight billion in 1989 to barely two billion U.S. dollars within three years. Crude oil was only available in half that amount, the transportation system collapsed, the electricity supply functioned only on an hourly basis because the supply situation was precarious, the peso was worthless and the age of dollar apartheid had begun. „Our money is worthless and prices have increased tenfold in a short time,“ complains Ernesto Solano, a pensioner who had to get by on 80 pesos a month. Despite the miserable situation, he has not lost his sense of humor and sums up the predicament of the „Periodo especial en tiempo de paz“, which has now lasted two years, with a joke alluding to the slogans „luchan y resistan“ (fight and persevere) and „Long live the revolution – persevere compãgneros: A Cuban comes home hungry and shouts to his wife to fry the fish he brought with him. „We have no oil,“ is her reply, „and no gas for cooking, nor water, nor a lemon.“ So the only thing left for the man to do is to resignedly throw the fish back into the sea, whereupon it happily cries out, „Long live the revolution.“ …

Grenada 92: On the aircraft carrier „US John Rodgers“ for a press breakfast

Grenadas Premier MInister speaking to the US-Delgation at the 9th anniversary of the Invasion by US troops

In 1992, I traveled to the Caribbean twice. First I took part in a sailing trip from Grenada to Trinidad for Carnival, then I arrived in Grenada via Barbados exactly at the time when the ninth anniversary of the „liberation“ or „occupation“ of Grenada (depending on your point of view) by US forces was celebrated. In St. George, the capital of Grenada, I was able to attend the official ceremony with the Prime Minister of Grenada, Nicolas Brathwaiter and the U.S. Ambassador in the presence of high-ranking U.S. military officials, after which I was invited by the U.S. Ambassador to the exclusive and ultimate press breakfast on the aircraft carrier „U.S. John Rodgers“ stationed off Grenada. I didn’t want to miss that, after all, it’s not every day that you can have breakfast on a warship that has a huge potential for destruction. The next morning, a U.S. Navy boat picked me up on the beach and drove me over to the warship, which was anchored off the coast of Grenada. First I was able to take a short tour and then have a conversation about U.S. policy with the commander and his press aide on the command bridge. In retrospect, this visit was not a good idea, because I have been on the radar of U.S. intelligence agencies since this incident and later felt it in the Philippines. …

The invasion of Grenada was probably one of the few U.S. operations that, first of all, went smoothly for the civilian population and ultimately led to stabilization. The U.S. invasion of Panama was not too disastrous either, but all other interventions, invasions and infiltrations on the part of the U.S. from the Vietnam War to the Afghanistan operation, the failed Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba, the hopeless and devastating Iraq War that led to IS or even the overthrow of long-term despot M. Gaddhafi in Libya and the miserable failure in the Syria war, for the most part the USA failed miserably after WW2, whether as aggressor or world policeman. A „failed state“, with obvious consequences for the whole world: The radicalization in the Muslim world, which gave a boost to the terrorist organizations Al Qaeda and IS, or the „War on Drugs“ proclaimed by the USA was a disaster and hypocrisy for 50 years. …

1997: Hell Trip to the Drug Cartels of Colombia

Cloumbia: A airplaine junk yard and cemetary near Villa Vicencio airport. © GMC

In Bogota, I met my professional colleague, aviation journalist and military pilot Hans-Jörg Egger. Together we flew from the capital of Colombia in all directions in one week on behalf of Swissair. First to Letica in the border triangle of Brazil, Colombia and Peru in the south of the country in the middle of the Amazon jungle, then to Cartagena in the colonial pearl, with the magnificent colonial style buildings similar to Havana. We continued to Cali, then the drug stronghold of Pablo Escobar, another destination was Villa Vicencio, also known as a drug transshipment point, and finally we flew up to the Caribbean island of San Andres, located off the coast of Nicaragua. The purpose of the trip: We were to put together a travel itinerary for the Swissair VIP shareholders trip and reconnoiter the best places where ancient aircraft types still fly around. It was to be a fantastic vintage aviation trip. …

The harbingers of the jungle begin less than 100 kilometers from Bogota, but in order to get there you have to overcome the grueling pass road of the Sierra Oriental at an altitude of 3700 meters above sea level and then master and survive the winding descent on narrow paths along abyssal canyons down to a hundred meters above sea level. The sun is just setting on the blood-red horizon above the steaming jungle, where tropical thunderstorms rain down heavily on the esmerald green jungle just before dusk, making the ride on the slippery pass road hell. Arriving in Villa Vicencio, we board the silver fuselage of the DC-6 after an interview with the airport director, and soon we are flying through the lashing rain with a loud propeller howl. The pilot’s forehead is also covered with thick beads of water, as it looks to him like difficult flying and landing conditions. The propeller engines are roaring as they fight against the dense, fast-moving clouds. The view from the small round windows sweeps over the green jungle sea in the Amazon basin, the meandering river courses and island dots. Then the descent begins and we set down for landing, whereupon we are soon relieved to have arrived unharmed. …

At the end of our Colombia trip we arrived at the airport in Bogota as always in the last days only shortly before departure. We had gotten used to the fact that 15 minutes were enough to board the plane. This worked well with all Colombian flights, but the upcoming flight to Ecuador was just a flight out of the country. We had not thought about that and that the procedure would take much longer. When we arrived at the counter and learned that boarding was already completed, I showed the check-in counter employees two seat cards and said: „Stop the airplaine, now immediately“ and simply ran through the gate past the surprised securities out onto the airfield. Without being shot at, we ran towards the plane that was taxiing to the runway. At the same time we saw a stair car racing towards the plane and the jet stopped. After a few dozen meters, we made it and were allowed to rush up the stairs, whereupon the boarding door opened and we were able to board. „Wow, what awesome action!“ Why did the plane stop, you ask? Well, one business card was that of the Colombian Minister of Aviation and the other, that of the Bogota Airport Director. Both of these people we had interviewed before. And so it happened that for us two Swiss journalists in Colombia, a commercial airliner on an international flight was stopped on the taxiway for departure so that the two VIPs could board.  …

Species extinction through overexploitation: Amazon Cruise with scientists

Columbia: Two Jaguars lying under a bush in the thick Amazon rain forest. © GMC

Its name is a legend and sounds as exotic as the myth that surrounds it: the Rio Amazonas. It is the second longest and most water-rich river on earth, the one with the most tributaries, the strongest water discharge, the largest catchment area and the most enormous delta. In thousands and thousands of meanders it flows majestically through the most diverse and opulent rainforest on earth, nourishing, watering and sustaining an immense variety of fauna and flora and at the same time being the lifeline of millions of people. The Amazon is called „Maranhão“ by the Indians, „which only God can unravel“ and it consists of a bizarre network of over 1100 rivers, 20 of which are longer than the Rhine. But it is only after the encuentro dos aguas, the confluence of the Rio Negro and Rio Branco at Manaus, that the river is called Rio Amazonas. With its catchment area of more than seven million km2 and its daily deposit of three million tons of sediment in the delta, the Amazon outranks all other rivers. One fifth of the fresh water in the world’s oceans is fed by the king of rivers. More than 30,000 species of plants, which thrive on three levels above each other, and more than 2,000 species of fish and birds live in its catchment area. …

An expedition to the Amazon jungle is both a journey into an exotic world full of overwhelming flora and an encounter with a species-rich fauna – full of giant snakes, such as anacondas and phytons, anteaters, sloths, howler monkeys, piranhas, shy river dolphins, colorful parrots (macaws) or magnificent tucans as well as nimble hummingbirds. The list could, it seems, be continued almost indefinitely. But the opposite is the case. The number of species threatened with extinction is increasing dramatically. According to experts, the rainforest is irretrievably destroyed when 40 percent of its area has been destroyed. In the last 50 years, a quarter of the rainforest has already been cut down or burned – with catastrophic consequences for the climate, the environment, people and animals. The indigenous people in the rainforests had destroyed barely one percent of the rainforest over the period of the last 15,000 years. A single human generation is therefore sufficient to bring the entire ecosystem of planet Earth out of balance and the human race as such into danger. …

Amazon expedition with scientists cruising from Iquitos in Peru to the Amazon Delta in Brazil. © GMC

In Brazil today there are still about one million square kilometers of Amazon rainforest, which is not protected and not zoned, but also does not belong to the indigenous tribes living there (because they must first prove their centuries-old legitimacy in lengthy processes), so that their land is not sacrificed to overexploitation and investor rapacity. Because the common principle goes as follows: Areas are illegally confiscated, burned or cleared and thus destroyed. In the years that follow, attempts are then made to legalize land grabbing in this area through lucrative cattle ranching, which has been a piece of cake since President Bolsonaro. Land speculation is fueled by interna-tional investors. In the region, some 30 billion U.S. dollars will be spent in the next few years on road construction, electricity and infrastructure to develop and exploit the primary forest. 92 dams are planned in the Amazon region. These are devastating prospects. What capitalist madness. To add to the misery, the government of Jair Bolsonaro plans to build a railroad almost 1000 kilometers across the jungle and many indigenous protected areas. The agricultural lobby is delighted, as the Ferrogrão infrastructure project promises lower future transport costs to the Atlantic and thus higher profits. A study by economists Juliano Assunçao, Rafael Araújo and Arthur Bragança has shown that additional clearing of an area of 2050 square kilometers is to be expected, which corresponds to around 300,000 soccer fields. Not only would the clearing of this virgin forest produce about 75 million tons of carbon, but the increasing loss of the green lung will soon lead to the collapse of the climate and irrigation system in the entire Amazon basin. …

Borneo 96: Stalking through the jungle with a handicapped orang utan

A highly endangered species due to our palm oil consuption and demand for tropical wood. © GMC

The orang utan, the „forest man“ in Malay, has been threatened with extinction since the mid-1960s. Despite international species protection agreements, at that time still extremely restrictive trade agreements and the two rehabilitation stations on Semengho in Sarawak and Sepilok in Sabah on the Malaysian island of Borneo, the close relatives of Homo Sapiens are acutely endangered. Greed for tropical timber and palm oil is destroying their habitat, the primary forest. Due to the destruction of their refuges, they are now isolated in small groups. The apes have also become known through the Swiss environmental and human rights activist Bruno Manser. Manser lived in Borneo from 1984 to 1990, recorded the fauna and flora of the tropical rainforest, learned the language and culture of the Penan and lived with them. In 1990 he had to flee to Switzerland after he was expelled by the Malaysian government and declared an „undesirable person“. A bounty of 50000 dollars was put on his head. In 1993, Manser participated in a fasting action and a hunger strike in front of the Federal Parliament in Bern to protest against the import of tropical timber. In 2000, despite an entry ban and a bounty on his head, he traveled from the Indonesian part of Borneo (Kalimantan) across the green border into the Malaysian Sarawak to the Penan and was never seen again. Since then, Bruno Manser has been considered missing and was officially declared dead in 2005. …

Malysia/Borneo: A handicaped young orang utan at the reha station in Sepilok, Sarawak. © GMC

In 1996, I made a trip to Malaysia to celebrate 50 years of independence from the British crown and after the state celebration with all Asian heads of state, I first traveled by car all over Malaysia and visited the Taman Negara National Park in the rainforest. After the detour to Langkawi, I flew to Borneo and landed in Sarawak with the goal of exploring the situation of forest clearing for palm oil production, the threatening situation of the headhunters and the destroyed habitat of the Orang Utan. At Lake Batang Ai in Sarawak on Borneo I started the expedition into the rainforest and hired a guide with a dugout canoe to lead me to the Iban Headhunters living here. After two days‘ travel from Lake Batang Ai, paddling a canoe through a sea of deforested tropical tribes flowing downstream, I ended up in one of these remote longhouse villages. The days of decapitating intruders with the parang, the dreaded long knife, and hanging the trophies in the form of shrunken mini-skulls from the beams of the longhouses are thankfully over. The longhouses of the head hunters are built on stilts, up to 100 meters long and have a continuous wide corridor leading to a longitudinal veranda.

Unfortunately, I came down with malaria. Shaken by fever cramps and checkmate, I lay around for three days like a dead fly in the „longhouse“ of the headhunters, before I could go back by dugout canoe to a jungle camp, which had a radio station, in order to take up contact with Switzerland over the radio connection and the telephone handset held to the radio, with my family. When at home in Switzerland the tape recorder instead of a connection came, I said only briefly that I wanted to say goodbye, because I would probably not survive the night. After that I lay down outside under the starry night sky, shaken by further bouts of fever. I wanted to die at least in the open air and not in the tiny, stuffy wooden hut in which I had been quartered. What happened now was unique and should shake my distinctive sense of reality fundamentally. Whether it was just hallucinations or whether I was actually brought back from the Ascension is not clear to me to this day. In any case my astral body took off and then I saw purely optically already the stars with comet-like rapid speed coming towards me and felt pulled weightlessly up into the orbit and glided like the spaceship „Enterprise“ which jetted with light speed through the orbit towards the starry sky. But since the stars can’t come at me, I realized that I must have taken off like an angel and was now racing toward the sparkling firmament, unless my fevered brain was doing its antics and hallucinogenic vision with me.  With the help of the jungle camp residents, I got back on my feet after two days, traveled on to Kota Kinabalu to the Orang Utan Rehabilitation Station in Sepilok, and arrived just in time for the feeding from a platform two kilometers further into the forest. The tourist groups had already started walking before me on the wooden walkway that led a good two meters above the ground into the rainforest to the large visitor platform and the two feeding stations in the trees behind it.

Then I watched as the babies got their food and gobbled it down and then disappeared back into the trees. After feeding, I wanted to get back to the rehab station before the others, so I made my way back along the walkway before the others. As I tried to sneak past a young handicapped orangutan, with a chopped off but already healed arm, lying backwards on the walkway, blocking the passage, he grabbed me by the lower leg. What was I supposed to do? When I wanted to gently loosen his hand that was clutching my leg, he simply grabbed me by the wrist, whereupon we both, the young orangutan and the still feverish and sweaty photographer ran hand in hand through the jungle to the station. He could have taken me right up into the treetops with his cronies. That didn’t work, but I made a good appearance in the rehabilitation ward when we arrived there hand in hand, like old friends. …

Indonesia: Dramatic deforestation and species extinction accepted

Borneo: A man in a small boat ist trying to cruise on the river which is full of cut off timer trees © GMC

What is the situation today? The habitat of the great apes has been drastically reduced and their population has not increased but has been further decimated. Genomicists at the University of Zurich have recently discovered a new species on Sumatra, the Tapanuli orangutan, whose refuge lies in the rugged mountains of the Batang Toru region in Indonesia. The estimated 800 primates are affected by forest clearing for palm oil plantations, urban sprawl and a dam project here in Indonesia, as they are on Borneo. And they are not the only ones silently dying out. Many other species are also going extinct. One million species are threatened with extinction in the next decades. This is the devastating conclusion of the 2019 „World Biodiversity Council“ (IPBES). Reptiles and birds are having a hard time, but more and more mammals are also becoming extinct. 540 land vertebrate species were wiped out in the 20th century. Most of them in the Asian region.

Switzerland has concluded a controversial economic agreement with Indonesia and relies on „RSPO“ standards in the agreement, which was created in cooperation with companies, environmental organizations and aid agencies. But this will not stop deforestation or dam projects, and the habitat of the orang utan and many other species continues to be doomed. An agreement with sustainability goals is a small step forward, but unfortunately does not change the fact that overexploitation continues and there are too few protected areas, because the demand for palm oil has increased extremely and continues to rise. Accordingly, the area under cultivation has also grown, resulting from the clearing of primary forest. Since 2008, the area under palm oil cultivation has increased by 0.7 million hectares per year, an area four times the size of the canton of Zurich. And demand is expected to more than double again by 2050. On the island of Borneo, 50 percent of deforestation is due to palm oil cultivation. In the much larger Indonesia, the figure is already 20 percent. Six percent of all animal species are found on the island of Borneo. For over 4000 years, the rainforests of Borneo have been populated by indigenous peoples. Over the last 50 years, almost half of the rainforest in Kalimantan, the Indonesian part of Borneo, has been cleared. There are thousands of land conflicts by indigenous communities against large logging companies, but the state and the judiciary make it difficult for the people to access their rights and defend their land against overexploitation. Although a convention to protect the rainforests has existed for 30 years, it has never been ratified and implemented by the Indonesian parliament. Furthermore, it can be observed that almost all politicians are either former or still incumbent timber industrialists in Jakarta, as Norman Jiwan of the NGO „TuK“ reports. And only less than 30 of the richest Indonesian families profit from the palm oil industry. …

Philippines 95: Incredible Spirit Healing Skills

UNESCO Riceterraces of Banaue on the Island Luzon in the Region of Ifugao. © GMC

On my second trip to the Philippines, I first took a boat trip to explore Palawan Island, Busuanga Island and the Coron Islands, and then visited Filipino spiritual healers in Luzon. Half a year before, a 25 year old healer came to Switzerland and Germany, who obviously already had cult status. In any case, three dozen people were waiting in Zurich for a short session with this spiritual healer. One after the other, the people gathered in a darkened room and briefly told the spiritual healer, who was in a trance, their concerns, whereupon he examined them, palpated them and did strange things before my eyes, such as opening the body with the fingertip in certain places, whereupon the flesh wound opened up and he dipped his fingers into it. The Filipino spiritual healers are said to have the ability to dematerialize their fingers as they are dipped in order to merge with the body tissue. When he pushed his fingers deep into the flesh, they immediately became invisible under the surface of the skin and fused with the tissue. There were no more finger tips or tips to be seen, only the base of the fingers above the skin surface remained visible. And when he pulled his fingers out, they immediately closed the gaping wound, leaving behind a slightly reddened area on the skin’s surface. „Absolute madness!“ I have never seen anything like this before and only twice – with two spiritual healers in Zurich and now here in Luzon. Since then I perceive the world with different eyes and sensors. …

At the end of this Philippines trip I experienced another uncomfortable surprise. I was arrested at the airport when leaving the country, because I had the name of a person who was written out in the Philippines. So I had to go to the Minister of Tourism, on whose invitation I was in the Philippines, to be released and allowed to leave. Had it not been for him, I would have had to travel to Manila and present myself at the Department of Justice. Fortunately, I was spared that and so that other tourists in Switzerland would also be spared such a thing, I published the telephone number of the Minister of Justice in the daily newspapers with the reference that in such a case one should contact the head of the justice authority directly. This reference in the Swiss media was not appreciated by the Philippine Embassy. Even more: A few years later, when „Singapore Airlines“, my most important airline partner, invited me to the Philippines, I was suddenly disinvited again and elevated to persona non grata. …

India 2006: In the realm of loving hands with the Ayurveda pioneers

A patient receives a ayurvedic nose and head treatment (Nasyam) in Somaatheram in Kerala. © GMC

In 1996 I flew for the first time to India, namely to Kerala at the southern tip of the country to the up-and-coming Ayurveda resorts and clinics. I had previously come into close contact with Ayurvedic medicine in Sri Lanka and had done a Pancha Karma cleansing treatment and visited seven of the then best Ayurvedic resorts on the tropical island and compared them with each other. I was so fascinated by the Ayurvedic medicine I had experienced in Sri Lanka that I decided to travel to Kerala and met the South Indian Ayurvedic pioneers, the „cgh earth group“, who had already made a name for themselves with very exclusive resorts. Ayurvedic medicine was discovered over 5,000 years ago by highly gifted Indians in the depths of their meditation and spirituality, but as a result of colonization and professional bans by the British colonial government, it was suppressed for over 50 years before experiencing a revival in the 1990s. „A lot of knowledge was lost because of the ban,“ says Dr. Jayawardhana of the University of Colombo. Developed thousands of years ago in northern India, Ayurveda is a holistic system of nature that considers body, mind and spirit a single entity.Ayurvedic philosophy holds that all matter, including humans, can be traced back to the five elements of earth, water, air, fire and space. Ayurveda assumes that everything grows in nature that is needed to make and keep man healthy. Thus, plants, minerals, ashes, salts, barks, woods, roots and animal products are cooked and powdered and then made into pills, ointments and oils. The delicate yellow sesame oil is the base of all massage oils. It is rich in unsaturated fatty acids and makes brittle skin soft and smooth. To the sesame oil the doctor mixes other natural ingredients that are specifically adapted to the particular dosha type. The oil can thus have an optimal effect on the individual constitution of the person. No other medicine in the world has such a universal, profound and holistic cleansing system as Ayurvedic medicine and the Pancha Karma cure in particular. It is the mother of all cures! …

Gujarat 2013: the meeting with Narenda Moodi in Ahmedabad

Press conference with Gujarats Prime Minister Nahredra Moodi in Ahmedabad. © GMC

In March 2013, at the annual tourism trade fair „ITB“ in Berlin, in the hall where India and Indian tour operators presented themselves, I was approached about a press trip to Gujarat and gave my business card to the initiators. Just two months later, I flew via Dehli to Ahmedabad, the capital of the state of Gujarat, and there, to my amazement, I met about 150 journalists and influencers who had flown in from all over the world to get to know the tourist attractions of Gujarat. After splitting into different interest groups, we were carted around for five days and introduced to the tourist highlights. First was the Rani ki Vav stepwell near the town of Patan on the banks of the Saraswati River. A Unesco World Heritage Site, the temple complex was dedicated in the 11th century in honor of the king’s daughter of Khengara of Saurashtra of the Solanki Dynasty. The temple complex was a huge eight-story water reservoir and contains over five hundred frescoes from Hindu mythology of that time and still valid today. Another highlight was the Sun Temple in Modhera, this temple complex is also located on the banks of a river, the Pushpavati River. The sacred site was built between 1026 and 1027 BC during the era of King Bhima I of the Chaulukya dynasty. The temple complex consists of three com-plexes: The Shrine Gudhamandapa, the Unification Hall Sabhamandapa and the water reservoir Kunda. Then the journey continued in a jeep and took us into an inhospitable, dust-dry land to the Rann of Kutch, a saltwater marshland on the border between India and Pakistan. The Rann of Kutch is divided into two regions: The Great Rann Kutch and the Little Rann Kutch. The Greater Rann is located in Pakistan, while the Lesser Rann of Kutch borders it to the southeast and extends to the Gulf of Kutch. 20,946 km2 of the Little Kutch are protected area with a Wildlife Sanctuary, which was established in 1973. At the end of the trip we spent one more night in the Maharaja Palace in Poshina and before it went back to the capital of Gujarat Ahmedabad, where I visited the Ghandi Museum and then it came to the final meeting of the journalist event with the appearance of Narenda Moodi, of which until the hour none of the media representatives knew anything. It was only when some heavily armed soldiers with mine detectors and search dogs showed up that it was clear that there would be high ranking visitors shortly. Then a small escort drove up and Narenda Moodi ascended in the presence of the tourism minister of Gujarat and some other officials and made clear to all his ambitions for the Indian presidency, a goal that he then also achieved and since then has divided India with his Hindu nationalist course. …

Egypt 2004: Witnessing two terrorist attacks among the Bedouins in Sinai

Bedouines cooking at Maria Schröder shipwreck in Nabq National Park. © GMC

Arrived in Sinai in 2005, more precisely in Sharm el Sheikh, the situation as resident manager for a Swiss tour operator was again quite different. this assignment was a real challenge. The first two months in Sinai I lived in the „Radisson „Hotel“ with all tourist amenities, good infrastructure and nice ambience. Then I was shipped off to a spartan concrete block for the local tour guides in a dreary environment, whereupon I got a special permit from the Governor General for the restricted military areas in Sinai (due to the UN peacekeeping mission after the Six-Day War), so that I was allowed to drive into the restricted areas in the desert outside Sharm-el-Sheikh at night. What was I doing there at night? Well, as always, access to the local color and locals outside the tourist hotspots. In this case, access to the life of the Bedouins in Sinai and to my friend Faroud. With outside temperatures during the day reaching over 50 degrees Celsius, life in the desert takes place at night. Since I had made the acquaintance of Faroud, who lived alone at the shipwreck „Maria Schroeder“ in the Nabq National Park, I could now meet him after work in the seclusion of the desert, escaping the tourist hustle and bustle, and spend a few spiritual and poetic hours under the sparkling firmament. The journey to him was not so easy, because the 35 km through the desert and sand dunes had it in itself. I covered the distance with the official vehicle, thus a conventional passenger car. In pitch-dark surroundings it meant to drive then with much speed over the dunes, without getting into the faltering, because without 4-wheel drive there was normally no getting through here. But I found a way and twice a week I drove into the desert at night to parley with the young Bedouin, to philo-sophize and to enjoy the twinkling stars without light pollution. …

At the time I was stationed in the Sinai, there were two of a total of three major terrorist attacks. The first was in Taba, the second and largest attack occurred in July 2005 in Sharm-el-Sheikh and claimed 88 lives, and well over 100 were injured. The third terrorist attack occurred on the evening of April 24, 2006, in Dahab, a diving hotspot, in which three fragmentation bombs were detonated. The first detonated at a busy intersection in front of the „Ghazala“ supermarket across from the police station. Two others exploded a short time later on the seafront. Around 30 people, almost all Egyptians, lost their lives in the attack. Many more people were seriously injured. We were very close to a catastrophe, because we remember the terrorist attacks of November 17, 1997 in Luxor, where 36 Swiss lost their lives. But the fear was great and the security measures in front of each hotel rigorous. Each car was carefully mirrored and frisked before entering the hotel driveway. X-ray machines scanned every hotel guest entering. …

Egypt : The Check point of the Unesco World Heritage Tempel Hatschepsut near Luxor. © GMC

All the crazier was a trip with two vehicles and seven Swiss tourists, who absolutely wanted to make a trip to Cairo with me in the car, across the whole Sinai, from the southern tip of Sharm-el-Sheikh in one day to Cairo including the return trip with a total distance of over 1000 km and a good 30 military roadblocks on one way. My local co-driver and I managed the feat and needed 27 hours for the oxen tour. Three hours longer than planned, because I overlooked the last but one military roadblock in my tiredness after more than 24 hours at the wheel and roared with about 70 kilometers per hour through the barriers built up in a serpentine line – nota bene without touching a single one. …

Lebanon 2006: In the Palestinian Camp „Shatila

Beirut: Schatila refugie camp, where around 300’000 refugies are living in poor conditions. © GMC

I have already visited many conflict regions and even experienced critically hot phases, but I did not dare to enter the Hezbollah quarters without appropriate contacts and connections or a locally familiar person in the background. But in order to establish contacts, the time until my departure within a few days was too short. In addition, one of the most important protective factors in my work is not only to speak the language of the population, but if possible not to be recognized as a foreigner or stranger. I could not use these trump cards here. During my short stay, I was stopped and briefly interrogated by the Lebanese army three times in one day alone. In the Hezbollah quarters it became even more uncomfortable. Almost on every third corner you were stopped as a foreigner and asked who you were and what you wanted here. Hezbollah is Iran’s most important ally in Lebanon, not only from a military but also from a political point of view, because Hezbollah, together with its allies, is the most important political force in the imploded country on the Levant. Lebanon serves Iran as a military front against Israel and that outside its own territory, therefore the Assad regime in Syria is also an ally and Iran’s only strategic partner. Due to the precarious security situation and without local contacts or adequate protection, I withdrew from this neighborhood and arrived instead at the Palestinian refugee camp of Shatila. There, a Palestinian refugee showed me the three massacre sites. The Sabra and Shatila massacre is the name given to a cleansing action perpetrated by Phalangist militias, i.e. Christian Maronite soldiers, directed against Palestinian refugees living in the south of Beirut. In September 1982 – in the middle of the Lebanese civil war – the two mentioned refugee camps, which were surrounded by Israeli soldiers at that time, were stormed and hundreds of civilians were massacred by the Christian, i.e. Phalangist militias. …

The Persian Poppy Shah and His Diplomatic Drug Princes

Humanitarian reasons did not count in the Persian empire of the Shah of Persia. As one of the most merciless persecutors of narcotics traffickers, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi had had well over 100 people shot for illegal possession of drugs since 1969 on the basis of his anti-drug law. Anyone caught in Persia with more than ten grams of heroin or two kilograms of opium was sentenced to death. All the greater was the unease and political dilemma in Switzerland over the course of the Geneva affair, when a member of the Shah’s team, who broke off his winter vacation in St. Moritz because judges and individual members of the authorities in Geneva had demanded that the immunity of the opium prince, who was not accredited in Switzerland, be lifted in order to initiate criminal drug proceedings. After all, Persia was Switzerland’s third most important trading partner in Asia at the time and, moreover, one of its largest arms buyers. In 1969/70, Swiss war material producers sold weapons systems in Iran for over 90 million Swiss francs. For the sake of the prominent St. Moritz winter sportsman Resa, the most prominent anti-Shah agitator, Bahman Nirumand, was also not allowed to speak publicly in Switzerland at that time. In the same year that the Shah enacted the world’s toughest drug prohibition laws, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi lifted a 1955 ban on opium poppy planting and ascended to the throne of poppy farmers: 12,000 hectares of poppy crops belonged to him and his family. According to the WHO in Geneva, the heroin and opium extracted from the imperial poppy could only be used medicinally to a very small extent. Thus Persia, along with Afghanistan and Turkey, was the hubs for the illicit trade. At the time, UN drug investigators noted another conspicuous fact: While all countries had destroyed the drugs they had seized, only 329 kilos of the 18.4 tons of seized drugs were destroyed in Iran, 152 kilos went to the legal trade. of the remaining 17 tons, the Shah had them distributed throughout the world via his diplomatic couriers. Suspicions that Persian diplomats were smuggling heroin and opiates for their emperor’s foreign exchange coffers had not only arisen since the Huschang affair in Geneva. In 1961, when poppy planting was banned in Iran, the Shah’s twin sisters, Princess Ashraf, were also reportedly caught at Geneva’s Cointrin airport with a suitcase full to the brim of heroin. Only their diplomatic immunity, according to the „National-Zeitung“, saved them from prosecution. How does the situation look today? …

The Murderous God State and General Qassam Soleimani’s Execution


What „the hell“ prompted the Iranian ambassador in Switzerland, Alireza Salari, to invite me to the diplomatic celebration on the occasion of the 35th anniversary of the Iranian revolution at the embassy in Bern, I do not know. I expected a short media appointment amidst a crowd of journalists and a few words „on the state of the nation“. But it turned out differently, I was the only media representative and press photographer among a hand-picked selection of non-state guests. All the other 150 or so invited guests were diplomats, spies or both. Things got even more interesting when Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Sarif also appeared at the Iranian Embassy in Bern and was enthusiastically greeted by Alireza Salari. Switzerland and the Iranian Embassy in Bern, as well as the accredited representatives to the United Nations in Geneva, played an important role in world politics in the diplomatic relations between Iran and the United States. As with Cuba, Switzerland serves and acts as a neutral country and mediator of diplomatic interests between these countries. The nuclear negotiations with Iran also took place in Montreux at that time. From this point of view, Switzerland and the „UN“ in Geneva are the hub for the diplomatic relations of the USA with Iran and Cuba. Therefore, I would like to introduce a string-puller of Iranian foreign policy and look at his capabilities as well as his great influence on world affairs. We are talking about General Qassam Soleimani, the „Che Guevara“ of the Iranian revolution, who ended up in about the same way as his famous Cuban predecessor, who had the same idea and exported the Cuban revolution not only to all the countries of Latin America, but also went so far as to support communist or Marxist countries in Africa as well. …

Iran: Gebäude bei der Pol-e Khaju Bridge mit Ayatolla-Gemälden. © GMC

General Qassam Soleimani, Tehran’s longtime gray eminence, was appointed head of the „Khuz“ brigades by Khomenei in 1998 and coordinated attacks on the Israeli occupiers from Lebanon until they withdrew two years later. Israel’s invasion of Lebanon is a grave mistake in retrospect because it fueled Iran to build up Hezbollah in Leba-non and to attack Sunnis in Iraq with Shiite militias, according to then-Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian. Soleimani was also the creator of the „Axis of Resistance to Imperialism“ and the longtime chief strategist in Iranian foreign policy aimed at „engaging imperialists abroad, uniting the Shiite community across the Middle East, and defending the faith community against Sunni claims to power.“ In particular, the eight-year Iraq war, which cost the lives of over a million Iranians, and the Israeli invasion of Lebanon, shaped Soleimani, who grew up under the „Revolutionary Guards“ and „Khuz“ brigades, a special forces unit. Iran has benefited from the collapse of Iraq and the consequences of the Arab Spring, massively expanding its influence in the region. Tehran is driven by three main interests: the three components of Iran’s foreign policy are ideological, geopolitical and security strategies. Ideologically, Iran sees itself as a protective power of oppressed Muslims in the context of a revolutionary resistance force against Israel and the United States. Geopolitically, Iran aims to stand up to Saudi Arabia to expand its influence in the region. The rivalry is being played out in Syria or Yemen.  …

Species extinctions & pandemics: Will we survive?

A cheetha in the namibian Kalahari. © GMC

In this chapter, I would like to go into detail about the scientific findings of the SOS state of Mother Earth as a result of climate change and the consequences for the world’s population, as I have been dealing with this for a good 30 years and have seen the dramatic effects worldwide. I have been most impressed by the indigenous peoples around the globe with their understanding of nature. It is they who are often among the first to suffer and be displaced. But also the young and the next generations will have to realize stunned that in the consumption rush after the oil crisis in 1975 and especially since the beginning of the 90s we have burned almost as much gas, coal and oil as not in a million years of earth history before. And this, although the sun has always sent 10,000 times more energy to the earth’s surface than man needs and mankind, despite environmental scientific knowledge and photovoltaics available since the 1950s, is politically unable to follow and certainly unable to act adequately. Also all the causers, the oil, coal and gas industry, which despite better knowledge for 50 years with billion-heavy disinformation campaigns their disastrous raison d’être at the expense of the society, nature and geosphere legitimates – unfortunately until today with success. It is not excluded that with the great species extinction also our species will become extinct and man will become planetary history. Mankind has blown more than 2000 billion tons of CO2 into the earth’s atmosphere. There are still 350 billion. tons of CO2 emissions to meet the climate goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees and a good 1100 tons to limit warming to two degrees. An analysis by the scientific journal „Nature“ concludes that all existing plants worldwide will still emit around 700 billion tons of CO2 over the course of their normal lifetime. tons of CO2 over the course of their normal lifetimes. So there is little hope that we will reach the two degree target at all“, says Walter Rüegg, who worked for 15 years as a nuclear and particle physicist at the „ETH“ and then for 30 years for „ABB“. …

Butterfly effect: Hedge funds are the drivers of wars and climate change

Australia: A big bush fire due to the dryness due tot he global climate change. © GMC

A good 500 companies with well over 10,000 employees work in the commodities industry in Switzerland, which had its first notorious protagonist in March Rich, who made it to dubious fame when he first hit the headlines in the 1970s. The Belgian-born U.S. citizen ensured that commodities trading became significant in Switzerland. His unscrupulous oil deals with South Africa and Iran, circumventing international sanctions during apartheid, helped the „father of the Swiss success model“ to immense wealth and put him on the list of most wanted criminals in the US until Bill Clinton, the godfather of neoliberals pardoned him in 2001. We recall that Clinton and Greenspan also pushed for the liberalization of food markets, triggering the hedge fund scourge. Back to Switzerland. In this country, Christoph Blocher and Martin Ebner were among the most ruthless liberalizers in the 1990s. We know from „Bloomberg“ journalists Javier Blas and Jack Farchy that Ebner was among the saviors of Marc Rich’s empire, and „Glencore“ boss Ivan Glasberg also earned his spurs in Johannesburg, South Africa, and learned much from his master in illegal oil deals and evasion of sanctions, even though he worked in the coal department. Low taxes, a central location in Europe, a stable Swiss franc and access to the international financial system, and weak regulation have provided fertile ground in Switzerland in recent decades for companies that exploit the world’s resources and pay little in the way of taxes. From „Glencore’s“ environment emerged other successful commodity traders such as „Vitol,“ which helped the island nation of Cuba secure oil deals in exchange for sugar at favorable prices when Cuba defaulted.

Floods in Thailand. © GMC

Swiss commodity traders control almost 80 percent of global trade and act unscrupulously. The „Gunvor“ case in the Congo, the machinations of „Credit Suisse“ in Mozambique and the money laundering affair in Bulgaria are examples of the tip of the corruption iceberg. Although the Federal Council confirmed in a report „the great risk of corruption“, it did nothing further to strengthen banking supervision and curb money laundering. Commodity traders „Glencore,“ „Trafigura,“ „Vitol,“ „Mercuria“ and „Gunvor“ received a total of $363.8 billion in loans from 2013 to 2019, according to research by Public Eye. „Public Eye“ also investigated the high-risk financial instruments and practices of commodity traders, which now function as banks themselves, but largely evade financial control and banking and financial supervision „finma“. „Gunvor“ paid 164 million fine in the USA for the misconduct in Brazil, Ecuador and Mexico. It is repugnant that large corporations, banks and the super-rich can repeatedly buy their way out with ridiculous fines, while others go to jail for much lesser acts. …

South Seas Pearls 1996: At the Gate to Paradise

French Polynesia: Airshot from Bora Bora Island in the Pacific Ocean. © GMC

The magic of the South Seas has made many poets go into raptures. The whole fund of occidental poetry and fantasy has been exhausted to describe the glory of Polynesia and the gentle way of life of the Maori. A mosaic of light and color surrounds the widely scattered chain of islands. Like luminous white pearl necklaces, the shimmering islands, covered with emerald green vegetation and fringed by ring-shaped reefs, stand out from the first turquoise, then deep blue Pacific Ocean. Well over 2500 atolls are lost in the boundless expanse of the Pacific Ocean, which with its 182 million square kilometers swallows up a third of the earth’s surface. The volcanic islands and coral atolls delimit the depths of the sea, turn its opulent underwater splendor upward and unfold the beauty of the colorful coral gardens with great abundance of species and shield the islands, often located only a few meters above the sea surface, from the surf. Tahiti, the „island of multicolored waters“ is also a symbol of the transfigured myth that covers the South Seas like its sparkling firmament with enchanting impressions. In the South Seas the creator once wanted to show what he was capable of, the poet Robert Brooke recorded. Gaugin, too, fell into a painterly impressionistic frenzy of colors and senses. Especially Moorea, which is less than half an hour away from Papeete by catamaran, is taken to heart by many. Right next to the 900 meter high Mount Rotui is the famous Cook Bay. Indeed, one cannot help but paint the South Seas in the most beautiful colors and praise it in the highest terms. In view of the gentle and strong charisma of the islanders, one is tempted to elevate their world to a paradise on earth, when graceful, strong men row their canoes through the water at the speed of an arrow or graceful creatures sit under the coconut palms, mango, papaya, avocado and breadfruit trees.

Mauritius: Symphony in turquoise and white with the world’s best spa resorts

Morne Brabant in the south of Mauritius Island. © GMC

To be under shady filaos on the coral-white sandy beach under the steel-blue sky and to have the turquoise-blue shimmering lagoon in front of your eyes – Mauritius offers such paradisiacal views. You should be a painter, you think, when you see Mauritius for the first time. The shades of blue of the sea and the sky, which contrast so clearly with the white of the beaches, captivate you. Behind them, the lush green of meadows, palm trees, sugar cane plantations and tropical vegetation. The fertile volcanic soil allows the most wonderful fruits to flourish, for example sugar-sweet pineapples, mangos, papayas or cinnamon apples. What a variety of colors. The same is true for the Mauritians. From ebony black to saffron yellow to pearl white, the color shades of the Mauritian population range. It is a colorful mixture of peoples, two thirds of the islanders are Hindus, about 180’000 are Arabs, mainly Sunnis. There are also tens of thousands of Chinese, Hakkas and whites, mostly of French origin. The more than 300,000 Creoles are descended from African and Malagasy slaves, white settlers, Indian agricultural workers and Chinese traders. Thus, Asian art of living mixes with the European colonial heritage, the result makes the magic of this island area and captivates tourists. …

Australia’s fantastic natural paradises and the dirty coal industry

Airshot of Hardy Reef, Great Barrier Reef, Brisbane, Queensland. © GMC

Fraser Island is ancient and carries the eternity of over 220 million years of evolutionary history under its hump. Sand has been washing up and accumulating on the island for two million years. During the Ice Age, this landscape was formed and in its present form it has existed for about 6000 years. With the warming of the climate 140,000 years ago, the first traces of the Aborigines appeared there, but it is assumed that the Butschulla aborigines settled on „KGari“ Island, as they called the island at that time, only 20 million years ago. The attraction of the island microcosm are the up to 240 meters high sand dunes, 120 kilometers of beach, over 100 crystal clear freshwater lakes, which spread between eucalyptus forests, palm groves and a sea of ferns in the gigantic dune landscape as well as a large, protected bay, the Hervey Bay, which offers the humpback whales between August and October a protected retreat. The crystal clear waters of Lake Mc Kenzie beckon for a refreshing swim. Its shore lined with white sand is not only a popular resting place after the trip through the rainforest, but also the dingos and walabis (mini kangaroos) come here to drink. But the dingos also come because of the bulging provision bags of the tourists. Many a fine morsel falls off for the wild dogs. Then we continue to Lake Wabby, which is surrounded by dense rainforest on this side, while on the other shore you can roll down from the sand dunes almost reaching into the sky and splash into the water. The gigantic freshwater reservoirs hold a combined ten to twenty million mega-liters of fresh water. Fraser Island is ancient and carries the eternity of over 220 million years of evolutionary history on its hump. Sand has been washing up and accumulating on the island for two million years. During the Ice Age, this landscape was formed and in its present form it has existed for about 6000 years. With the warming of the climate 140’000 years ago, the first traces of the Aborigines appeared there. …

Australia: Rain forest vegetation on Tasmania Island. © GMC

Not far from the city of Cairns is the Tapukjai Cultural Village, where visitors are introduced to the culture and customs of the local Aborigines. If you drive further north along the coast, you first come to Palm Cove, a small charming nest, then you continue to Port Douglas, where the famous Thala Beach Lodge and the Daintree Forest Lodge are located, the latter has been awarded several times as the most environmentally friendly accommodation in Australia. At the Wawu-Jirakul Spa (which means „cleansing of the spirit“ in the Aboriginal language), the five elements of earth, water, fire, air and ether are celebrated into a fantastic wellness cocktail amidst a waterfall in the jungle that served as a sacred cleansing kraal for the Kuku Yalanji Aborigines and a yoga site for Brook Shields. For the spa treatments, in addition to essential oils, various sandstones are used, which the Aborigines use not only for their body paint but also as food. I am amazed, whereupon the Aborigines walks with me around the spring, reaches into the loamy earth at three places and strokes a smear on my naked leg. Immediately I see that one stripe is sand-yellow, the second clay-gray and the third reddish colored. „See here we have zinc, copper and calcium mineral layers. Once you run out of food,“ he says to me, „you flush the clay down with water and get minerals that way!“ Not bad, I thought, nevertheless I would not like to come into such a situation to have to eat this porridge. …

Opal seekers in Coober Pedy: Hope lives underground

Australien: ein Vakuum-Cleaner der Opalmineure. © GMC

Between Adelaide and Alice Springs, somewhere in the middle of a glowing hot, inhospitable lunar landscape, lies the then 5000-strong nest of Coober Pedy, also called „Opal-Miner City“. The inhabitants live in subterranean mole-like structures and also spend the day underground, in tunnels, equipped with dynamite to carry out further blasting. Glimpses of the life of opal prospectors in a dynamite-laden underground, driven by the hope of quick riches and exposed to the risk of failing miserably – real fortune seekers, in other words, from all parts of the world can be found here doing their dangerous work. Men from Albania, Italy, Croatia, Greece, Serbia, Poland and even Switzerland are digging for precious stones in the hot outback. Desolation, scorching heat, lots of dust and rubble, and endless hardships – the opal prospectors are spared nothing. Four-fifths of the population lives underground in the tunnels, which have been converted into apartments and have light and ventilation shafts to the top. The supermarket, the gas station and the church are also underground. As recently as the late 1990s, you could just stake a „claim“ and start drilling and blasting. Lucky people who left Coober Pedy as rich men are few and far between. The large cemetery in the desert nest is eloquent testimony to that.  …

Maldives 93: First signs of climate change become visible

Maledives: people putting sand bags along the beach to protect it from erosion due to the global climate change and uprising sealevel. © GMC

The nearly 1800 coral atolls stand out from the deep blue Indian Ocean like a shining white string of pearls. A mosaic of light and color surrounds the chain of islands scattered from north to south across seven degrees of latitude. Each of these islets, covered with smaragd green vegetation and fringed with turquoise blue lagoons and ring-shaped reefs, which rise from the depths of the seabed and turn its opulent underwater splendor upward, looks slightly different again. The outer reefs shield the atoll, which often rises only a few centimeters above the water surface, from the surf. The colorful coral gardens were then home to a tremendous abundance of species. A picture book idyll of sea, sun and palm beach and secluded island romance as well as an Eldorado for divers as well as water sports enthusiasts, awaited me on the first tourist island of Ihuru. The downsides, however, are: A fragile ecosystem, which is endangered by the rise of the sea level and especially by tourism. An island kingdom that was already visibly threatened in its existence by global warming in the early 1990s and is probably irrevocably doomed. In addition, the mountains of garbage left behind by tourists on the islands and on nearby Male are testimony to the growing environmental pollution and the destruction of fragile ecosystems. Since tourism has replaced fishing as the main source of income, a flood of garbage has poured over the tourist islands and coral gardens along with the tourist boom. Apart from fish, coconuts and bananas, all other consumer goods have to be imported. The fuel consumption for the transport of the goods to the tourist islands already devoured a lot of fuel at that time and was reflected in second place in the import statistics.

In the realm of loving hands at the top Ayurveda resorts in Kerala

The ancient Maharadja palace Kalari Kovilakom a leading luxury ayurvedic healing resorts in Kerala. © GMC

No other medical system in the world has such a universal, profound and holistic purification system as the ancient Ayurvedic Pancha-Karma cure. Where stressed Westerners become healthy again, filled with Eastern wisdom and mediative calm, and which are the best Ayurvedic fountains of youth in Sri Lanka and India, is what I would like to discuss here. Slowly the warm herbal sesame oil runs in a fine stream over the forehead during the Shirodhara treatment. Back and forth, evenly and soothingly. For a good 20 minutes. Everyday thoughts dissolve and make room for a soothing emptiness. Attention turns inward. Deep relaxation spreads through my body. The mirror to the soul opens, even old memories emerge from the depths of consciousness. Although the oily Ayurvedic massages make you feel like an oil sardine, you quickly get used to them and enjoy the soothing touches. An extremely relaxing experience is the synchronous massage, called Abhayanga, also known as the loving hands massage. This describes the sensation during the massage very well, because being massaged synchronously by four hands is more beautiful than any caress. The gentle movements of the hands massage the herbal oil into the skin so that it reaches the lower layers of the tissues, involving the blood and nervous systems and isolating the toxins and waste products to be eliminated afterwards. What was developed thousands of years ago in Nordin-dien is a holistic natural system, which sees body, mind and soul as one. The Ayur-veda philosophy assumes that all matter, including human beings, can be traced back to the five elements: earth, air, water, fire and space. From this connection three basic constitutions are formed, the so-called Doshas, which are understood as essential bio-energies. The elements air and space form the Vata-Dosha and stand for the life principle movement. It controls the movement processes in the body, breathing and the nervous system. The second dosha is called pitta and is dominated by the element fire. Pitta energy is responsible for all reactions, i.e. digestive and metabolic processes. The elements earth and water influence the third dosha, called kapha. Their energy is structuring, shaping and responsible for the cell and skeleton structure as well as for the characteristic features. Only when the doshas are in balance, body and soul are healthy. …

Cannabis: Prohibition never worked, medical potential neutered

Marihuanna: Swiss Hemp leaf. © GMC

The hemp plant and its medicinal potential have suffered the same fate as Ayurvedic medicine. It too was banned for 50 years. Therefore, we make another spiritual cannabis journey from the advanced cultures of indigenous peoples to today’s lowlands, errors and confusions in drug use, delving into the international and state repression machine in dealing with psychoactive substances and focus on the local drug policy, which mainly protects and supports the pharmaceutical industry, but has little to do with prevention and public health. For while the globally acceptable drug alcohol, causes far more health damage and deaths, the hemp plant and THC consumption are still stigmatized and banned in Northern Europe. Spain and Portugal, as well as Czechoslovakia, have relaxed the laws and allowed consumption on a limited basis in so-called social clubs. Besides the USA and Canada, which have long since legalized, Mexico and other countries are now following suit. …

Berthel and other addiction experts are convinced that in a free society adults do not need „lifestyle know-it-alls,“ and that this also applies to psychoactive substances of all kinds. Berthel is convinced that bans are useless, and that regulated distribution combined with addiction prevention is the better way to go, and that „a drug-free society is an illusion. Moreover, it is not tenable to ban a drug with a low addictive potential and little harmful indications such as cannabis, while a substance with such a high addictive potential as alcohol is consumed naively. On this point, Berthel and pharmacopsychologist Boris Quednow, who researches substance use and its consequences at the Psychiatric University Hospital in Zurich, agree. He, too, is of the opinion that consumption should be decriminalized as soon as possible, „otherwise we will continue to punish the most severely affected.“ …

Cannabis is also used to treat type 2 diabetes. Certain molecules in the cannabis plant can help prevent and treat the disease. Type 1 diabetes is a genetic disorder in which the body cannot produce insulin. Type 2 diabetes or diabetes mellitus is much more common and occurs when the pancreas, does not produce enough insulin. A cannabis drug developed in the UK that eliminates the need for insulin injections in diabetes. It targets the use of the cannabinoids CBD and THCV (tetrahydrocannabivarin), which lower blood sugar levels and improve insulin production. THCV is a potent cannabinoid and has already been shown to suppress appetite. In turn, the cannabinoids CBD and THC enhance each other’s therapeutic properties. Cannabigerol (CBG), like cannabidiol (CBD), is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid from the cannabis plant. CBG content is usually higher in indica varieties than in sativa varieties and has anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, analgesic, and intraocular pressure-lowering effects. Researchers from the „University of Barcelona“ have proven that CBG is a partial agonist of cannabinoid receptor 2 (CB2) and acts as a regulator of endocannabinoid signaling. Italian researchers proved that inflammation and oxidative stress play a central role in neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and multiple sclerosis and found that cannabis also exerts neuroprotective effects against inflammation and oxidative stress, protecting neuronal cells. Researchers from the „Uni-versidad Complutense“ Madrid in Spain studied the effects of CBG and identify genes associated with Huntington’s disease (e.g., gamma-aminobutyric acid A receptor (GABA). The study was conducted under the supervision of scientists from 18 countries. The Journal of Investigative Dermatology published a study in which mice with melanoma were treated with THC and CBD, and an international team of researchers found that these substances lead to the death of cancer cells through apo-ptosis and autophagy. The term autophagy refers to a process in which the cell disassembles itself to get rid of damaged parts. Apoptosis is the natural suicide of the cell. It breaks apart and then the immune system cleans up the rest. …

Abuse of power monopoly & media mistrust

In the final chapter, I would like to take you on another contemporary and futuristic journey, questioning and reflecting with you on the achievements and dangers of digitalization, the credibility of the media, and the disruptive division of society by self-proclaimed gurus, (a)social fake news and filter bubbles.

Rupert Murdoch is one of the most evil string-pullers in the division of society in the UK and in the US, he was an Iraq-war-monger and is an avowed climate skeptic like Donald Trump. Thus, after the decline of the Conservatives in Great Britain, he and his me-dies supported the course of Toni Blair’s government, which promised a referen-dum on Britain’s euro entry in the 1997 election campaign. Among other things, Murdoch is accused of having taken a Euroskeptic stance on Fox TV and the 175 newspapers of „News Corporation“ in the run-up to the Iraq war. „The Sun“ and the „News of the world,“ which was discontinued in 2011, were known for their anti-EU and anti-German stances. „Fox TV was repeatedly criticized for one-sided partisanship in favor of the Bush administration. In 2007, Murdoch publicly admitted in an interview at the World Economic Forum in Davos that he had actively tried to influence public opinion in favor of George W. Bush’s Middle East policy. Murdoch was with Blair more often than the British Foreign Secretary or other members of the government during the hot phase and debate on Britain’s entry into war in alliance with the United States. Murdoch urged Blair to side with the USA. First, Murdoch’s tabloid media desa-vouirized all Labour government ministers with smear campaigns under the Thatcher government, bringing the Torries to power.

Under Cameron, the gigantic wiretapping scandal of the „News of the World“ was uncovered. In 2009, journalist Nick Davis published the background to the bugging scandal in The Guardian. According to the report, hundreds of politicians and celebrities were systematically spied on, monitored, blackmailed or bribed for years. Four British prime ministers were finally invited to the Leveson Inquiry. There, it was also learned that Murdoch also encouraged Nigel Farage of „UKIP“ to further push for Brexit and thus managed to strongly divide British society. Murdoch represents a real danger to liberal democracies – without him, there would have been no „Bre-xit,“ politicians and political scientists agree. The „Brexit“ was the peak of Murdoch’s power in Great Britain and with „FOX NEWS“ he made Trump great and promoted him to president – not the Russians. Yvanka Trump apparently managed the assets of Murdoch’s daughters – that’s how the contact came about. At first Murdoch was not enthusiastic about Trump, but he recognized Trump’s potential for his purposes. The meeting of the tribal chiefs took place on the golf course in Scotland in 2006. There, Rupert chose Trump over Hillary Clinton. The rest is history. Trump would never have become president without „Fox News,“ that much is certain. Murdoch is directly responsible for the political contamination of the media and thus the contamination of society.

Man or machine – who is superior? Who makes the decisions?

The Commandant of the USS Vincence at the 9th anniversary of the US invasion in Grenada. © GMC

An example of Big Data in military use with deadly errors and consequence: In late August 1988, as the nine-year war between Iran and Iraq was winding down, civilian oil tankers were attacked in the Persian Gulf. After Kuwait’s request to the U.S. for escort protection, American troops began deploying tanker escorts. The U.S. cruiser „USS Vincennes“, which had a complete air defense system consisting of the most modern radars at the time, extensive anti-aircraft armament and an air reconnaissance center, was also on the scene. The Combat Information Center (CIC) is where all the threads come together. The high-tech radar system „Aegis“ has the task of evaluating complex air battles with up to 200 aircraft in real time and sorting out a large number of threats, be it from ground missiles or to detect enemy aircraft, their armament, course and other details. Just when the „USS Vincennes“ was attacked by an enemy craft on July 3, 1988, a flying object that had taken off from Iran also appeared in the sky. Manuals with civilian flight plans and the „IFF codes“ are consulted to identify the aircraft. „IFF“ stands for „Identification, Friend or Foe.“ What unfolded next is a sequence of chaos, software problems and disinformation that led to one of the most tragic air traffic disasters, killing 298 people. At 10:17 a.m., Captain Mohsen Rezaian had departed on the short routine flight from Bandar Abbas to Dubai with 290 Mecca pilgrims on board. The flight distance of only 120 miles required a short climb of the Airbus 320, and the flight of Iran Air 655 was probably doomed by the fact that military aircraft had also landed at Bandar Abbas airport the day before due to military aerial reconnaissance. When the white dot appeared on the radar of the „US Vincennes“ and the commercial aircraft did not listen to the warnings of the US naval officer and the „Aegis“ system erroneously classified the aircraft as an „IFF Model II“, i.e. a fighter jet, the situation escalated. Since even a fire control beam did not cause the Iranian aircraft to turn away, it was shot down and over 290 people lost their lives. What was the cause of the catastrophic misjudgment that led Captain Rodgers to order the plane to fire? …

FA-18 military jets from Swiss Airforce escorting civil airplaine in the swiss alps. © GMC

Another example from the tragedies of aviation history and the conflict between man and machine in the collision of two aircraft near Überlingen on Lake Constance on July 1, 2002, when the Boing on its way to Brussels collided with the Russian Tupolev of Bashkirian Airlines 2937 on its way to Barcelona in the Lake Constance region. This air accident, however, was partly caused by a Swiss air traffic controller who paid for it with his life, as the father of a daughter who was killed took revenge and murdered the air traffic controller. Back to the cause of the accident: When the safety distance between the two aircraft became dangerously close, both aircraft used the Traffic Alert and Collision Avoidance System „TCAS“ to process the data of the contact, such as course and speed, and to warn their crews. While the system of the Russian pilot, Alexander Gross, instructs to climb, the British pilot Paul Philipps receives the instruction to descend, which he follows immediately. Only now the air traffic controller of „Skyguide“ in Zurich intervenes and it comes to a man-machine decision conflict and momentous intervention of a human being. …

Upside-down world: Whistleblowers are punished and tortured, the mass murderers walk around free

Finally, a detour into the political abyss and the role and fate of whistleblowers. 20 years ago the terrorist attacks of September 11 on the Twin Towers of the „World Trade Center“ in New York took place. These fundamentally changed the world and the „War on Terror“ replaced the „Cold War“ with the Soviet Union, with NATO Allies immediately joining the U.S. in unconditional solidarity and declaring an alliance emergency for the first time in NATO history. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the U.S. security apparatus was left without a significant enemy. The „War on Terror“ gave the war machine another powerful boost and large military budgets, and the arms companies profited even more. The war in Iraq and in Afghanistan were the consequences and Europe has blithely participated – also in the knowledge of the torture prisons of the USA in Afghanistan, in Iraq, in the Eastern Bloc and on Guantanamo. Switzerland also helped in the US kidnapping and torture flights and played a disastrous collaborative role in humanitarian terms. Germany is no better off and the British do what the Americans want anyway. We Swiss are also lapdogs of the United States and kowtow at all levels. In addition, we are also the European, not to say global intelligence operations hub with all the inter-national organizations and the many oligarchs, tax evaders and Mafiosis who live and work here. They all love Switzerland, not only because of the beautiful mountains. …

Since there is no internationally recognized definition of terrorism under international law, states have extended the concept further and further, ramped up and inflated the security apparatus to a preventive surveillance state, and in the meantime everyone is a suspect. Terrorism today includes crimes that have nothing to do with political, subversive violence. This is also the case in the new „Swiss Police Measures Act“ (PMT), which gives one food for thought, because in the law even the spreading of fear and terror is considered „terror“. In criminal law, there has been a gradual shift to the preventive and thus to the private sphere. Preventive surveillance has increased dramatically and disproportionately. After 2015, Switzerland also decided on an anti-terror strategy and tightened the Intelligence Act, whereby coercive measures are now permitted on the basis of suspicions, vague indications and equally opaque algorithms in dragnet searches. I wonder where all the freedom-trychlers, the original Swiss, SVP corona deniers and conspiracy theorists stayed when our basic rights have been continuously curtailed for two decades and the population has given its nod to all the tightening and restrictions. A tragedy and a hypocrisy beyond compare. …

Thanks to courageous whistleblowers, such as Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, or Edward Snoden, or investigative journalists and research networks such as „Bellingcam“ or „correctiv“, some of the dirty tricks of despots, corrupt politicians, military operations, surveillance measures and economic crimes come to light. Fortunately, one would think. But far from it. „Julian Assange has produced evidence of the most serious state-sanctioned crimes, such as torture and mass murder,“ says none other than UN Special Rapporteur Nils Melzer in his book „The Case of Julian Assange – History of a Persecution.“ Apparently, Melzer’s visit to investigate alleged human rights violations, announced at the Ecuadorian embassy in April 2019, led to a three-day coordinated blitz by the three countries involved that allowed Assange to be handed over to British police and has since been back in custody. First, the Ecuadorian embassy withdrew his asylum status and citizenship without due process of law, and at the same time the British government received an extradition request from the U.S. authorities, after which Assange was handed over to the British police. Prior to that, he stayed in asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy for seven years to avoid extradition to the U.S. via Sweden. …

„That the person who exposed mass murderers and crimes of torture against humanity should now himself be jailed as a criminal for 175 years, while not a single crime has been atoned for or those responsible punished,“ is evil for Europe, Melzer continues. „I didn’t think it was possible at first that Sweden or the United Kingdom would have such a disregard for human rights. But when it comes down to the wire, the rule of law doesn’t work anymore, even here in Europe. Assange is, so to speak, „the skeleton in the closet of the self-righteous West.“ This has already shaken him (Melzer), although he has experienced and seen a lot as an ICRC delegate. Also the procedure in Sweden because of alleged Verge-waltigung at and other sex offences had been stopped, after Meltzer had written a letter to the Swedish government and had pointed them to approximately 50 partly most serious procedure injuries. Asked whether the same could happen in Switzerland, the UN special rapporteur replied, „Absolutely.“ He said he regularly has to approach massive authority collusion in this country as well. …

Butterfly Effect: Hedge Funds are the Drivers of Wars and Climate Change

Let’s face it, financial markets are at the center of the neoliberal economy, they determine commodity and food prices worldwide, and they dictate events around the globe. Hedge funds are the bane of food, water and commodity capitalism at its purest. Let’s take a closer look: In 2008, food and commodity prices rose sharply even though the world was in recession after the financial crisis. This shows that prices rose because of speculation, not because of increased demand. What began in the 1980s with Thatcher’s and Reagan’s neoliberalism and became known as the flapping of a butterfly’s wings on Wall Street in 2010, led to riots, wars and global refugee crises from then on. The flapping of wings was triggered by then President Bill Clinton and National Bank President Alan Greenspan with the Commodity Modernization Act, i.e. the liberalization of markets that had been strictly regulated since the 1930s and a limited number of speculators. But from then on, everyone could speculate with commodities and food without limits, whereupon the financial markets licked blood and Wall Street and hedge funds henceforth dictated events in the most evil way.

These speculations and the developments in the oil states also had even more far-reaching consequences. Due to the enormous rise in the price of petrodollars, Russia and Saudi Arabia, but also Venezuela, came into immense wealth and increased their military budgets and police forces either to suppress revolts in their own countries or for further offensives, as Russia did in Syria, in Ukraine and most recently in Crimea. In the case of Saudi Arabia, war came to a head in Yemen and in many other regions in the conflict between Shiites and Sunnis, meanwhile Iran, infiltrated the Middle East in its own way, pumping it full of its crude ideologies, weapons and fighters. The rise in oil prices was also the beginning of doom for Venezuela, which ultimately perished from the resource curse. Here, too, the speculators were ultimately the trigger and responsible for the refugee flows from Latin America to the USA and from Africa and the Orient to Europe. …

A good 500 companies with well over 10,000 employees work in the commodities industry in Switzerland, which had its first notorious protagonist in March Rich, who made it to dubious fame when he first hit the headlines in the 1970s. The Belgian-born US citizen ensured that commodities trading became significant in Switzerland. His unscrupulous oil deals with South Africa and Iran, circumventing international sanctions during the Apard era, helped the „father of the Swiss success model“ to immense wealth and put him on the list of most wanted criminals in the US until Bill Clinton pardoned him in 2001. We remember that Clinton and Greenspan also pushed the liberalization of food markets, triggering the hedge fund plague. In Switzerland, Christoph Blocher and Martin Ebner were among the most ruthless liberalizers in the 1990s. We know from „Bloomberg“ journalists Javier Blas and Jack Farchy that Ebner was among the saviors of Marc Rich’s empire and that „Glencore“ boss Ivan Glasberg also earned his spurs in Johannesburg, South Africa. …


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Die Jugendunruhen zu Beginn der wilden der 80er

Auszug aus dem Buch des Zürcher Fotojournalisten Gerd Michael Müller


Der Zürcher Autor, Gerd Michael Müller (Jg. 62), reiste als Fotojournalist durch mehr als 50 Nationen und lebte in sieben Ländern, darunter auch in Südafrika im Untergrund während der Apartheid. In den 80er Jahren war er Politaktivist bei den Zürcher Jugendunruhen und im «AJZ». Dann engagierte er sich für wegweisende Wildlife & Ökoprojekte im südlichen Afrika und humanitäre Projekte andernorts auf der Welt. Schon 1993 berichtet Müller über den Klimawandel und 1999 gründete er das «Tourismus & Umwelt Forum Schweiz». Durch seine humanitären Einsätze lernte er Nelson Mandela, den Dalai Lama und weitere Lichtgestalten kennen. Sein Buch ist eine spannende Mischung aus gehobener Reiseliteratur, spannendem Politthriller, gespickt mit abgefahrenen Geschichten – den Highlights seines abenteuerlich wilden Nomaden-Lebens für die Reportage-Fotografie.

Die Reise rund um den Globus zu verschiedenen Konfliktherden und kulturellen Highlights beginnt in meiner Heimatstadt Zürich. Mit 18 Jahren bereits berufstätig rollte ein Tsunami auf das konservative Bürgertum und die politische Klasse zu. 1980 war das Jahr, das die biedere Gesellschaft in der Schweiz aufrütteln und im Laufe der 80er-Jahre umpflügen sollte. Im Mai desselben Jahres begannen die «Opernhauskrawalle» als Auftakt zu den nachfolgenden «Zürcher Jugendunruhen». Auslöser dafür war die latente Unzufriedenheit der Jugend mit den für sie zur Verfügung stehenden Einrichtungen und Freiräumen. Das manifestierte sich am augenfälligsten Beispiel der bevorstehenden Abstimmung über einen städtischen Subventionsbeitrag von 60 Mio. Franken an das Opernhaus und im Gegenzug dazu keine 10‘000 Franken für die «Rote Fabrik», damals das einzige Jugendkulturzentrum der Stadt Zürich. Zu jener Zeit gab es noch die Sperrstunde für alle um Mitternacht, eine halbe Stunde später mussten alle brav zu Hause sein. Der Freizeitspass und weitere kulturelle Angebote hielten sich in engen Grenzen. Freiräume für pubertierende Jugendliche gab es überhaupt keine, nur ein oder zwei Freizeitzentren, die hautpsächlich auf Sport fokussiert waren.

Drei kurze Sätze waren in meiner Jugend prägend: „Das kannst du nicht!“ „Das darfst du nicht!“ Und: „Das geht nicht!“. Dies war für uns Motivation pur für eine Revolution nach dem Motto: „Na klar geht das!“ Warst du einen Zacken neben der Spur, das heisst abseits der biederen bürgerlichen Norm von Moral und Ordnung, wurdest du eines Aussätzigen gleich behandelt. Radio und TV waren damals tote Hose. In der Schweiz und in ganz Europa mutete es einen in den 70er grau Jahren und trist in jeder Hinsicht an, die Bevölkerung verharrte in ihrem bieder-konservativen Korsett. Ein Nachtleben, Internet oder Streaming gab es nicht. Gute Musik oder Filme waren rar bis Videotheken aufkamen und der «Walkmen» die Musikwelt veränderte. Aber Handy, Labtop, PC, Social Media und Co. existierten noch nicht. Kein Wunder, dass es in der jugendlichen Szene schon länger brodelte und plötzlich entlud sich das Pulverfass, das die Gesellschaft nicht nur in der Schweiz sondern in ganz Europa erschüttern sollte. Nach den 68ern kam die nächste anarchistische Jugendrevolte.

Diese Tristesse war eine Folge der Ölkrise, des «Kalten Krieges», der Mauer und der Bedrohung durch die kommunisten Regime, des Vietnamkrieges, der immer brutaler und grotesker wurde. Erst die flächendeckenden Napalm-Bombardements auf die vietnamesische Zivilbevölkerung mit den grauenhaften Bilder von brennenden Menschen und Kindern, dann die «Agent Orange» Entlaubungsaktionen und all den verstümmelten Toten sowie der unmenschlichen Gefangenenlager. („Das war einfach nur grauenhaft und sinnlos“). Da schrien Herz, Seele und Verstand nach Gerechtigkeit, wenn nicht gar nach Vergeltung! Unerklärlich an diesem Vernichtungskrieg war, dass er jahrzehntelang nicht vom US-Kongress abgesegnet, sondern allein von der «CIA» finanziert wurde und die hat die Kriegskosten dadurch bezahlt, indem US-Truppen im Goldenen Dreieck das Opium tonnenweise in die leeren Bombenflugzeuge verfrachteten und dann nach Mexico brachten, wo das Opium zu Heroin verarbeitet wurde. So hat sich Amerika die Heroinflut vor die eigene Haustüre geschafft und den Mexikanern ihre Drogenlabore und -kartelle beschert.

Bei dieser kafkaesken Operation ist der «CIA» definitv das «I» also die «Intelligence» abhanden gekommen oder man könnte es auch anders sagen und die «CIA» als «Criminal Intelligence Agency» bezeichnen. Nebst dem «Kalten Krieg» kam noch die atomare Bedrohung im «Kalten Krieg» hinzu und nicht zuletzt auch die Gefahr vor den Atommeilern selbst. Auch die Schweiz wollte damals eine Atommacht werden und im Zuge dieser irrwitzigen Absicht, ist es in der Schweiz im Januar 1969 zu einem Reaktorunfall in Lucens im Kanton Waadt gekommen. Dann kam es zu dem Reaktorunfall in Tschernobyl, der bis heute das Gemüse im Tessin und anderswo in Europa belastet. Später haben dann die Gebrüder Tinner wieder einmalskandalträchtig bewiesen, dass man das Schweizer „Atom Know How“ auch exportieren kann, zum Beispiel nach Pakistan.

Schon Peter Regli, ein Schweizer Geheimdienst-Offizier, arbeitete mit dem Apartheidregime beim ABC-Waffenprogramm zusammen. Die opportunistische Schweiz hat also nicht nur ihre politische Kurzsichtigkeit exportiert, sondern auch Südafrika und Pakistan mit Atom-Know-how und Uran versorgt. Doch zurück nach Zürich zur hiesigen explosiven Lage im Vorfeld der Abstimmung für den „Opernhauskredit“. Am jährlich stattfindenden «Allmendfest» über Pfingsten mit den ersten Open Air Konzerten, wurden Flyer für eine Demo verteilt und Jugendzentren gefordert. An jenem warmen und wunderschönen Pfingst-Wochenende wurde mir die Bedeutung der Hippie-Bewegung vor Augen geführt, so nach dem Motto: «Peace, Love, Happiness & Freedom». Natürlich kifften fast alle auf dem Gelände, einige hatten auch einen LSD-Trip intus und die Stimmung war absolut grandios. Die Musik war rockig, punkig und auf Rebellion getrimmt, denn schliesslich brodelte es schon seit den 68ern in der Subkultur unter den Jugendlichen und so kam dieser Power-Sound gerade zur richtigen Zeit.

Zufällig fuhr ich am Samstag-Nachmittag dem 30. Mai 1980 mit dem Tram beim Zürcher Opernhaus vorbei, exakt in dem Moment, als Hundertschaften von Polizisten aus dem von Demonstranten blockierten Opernhaus-Eingang herausquollen und auf die am Boden liegenden Personen (die sogenannten «Kulturleichen») einschlugen. Sie malträtierten Frauen und Männer gleichermassen ein. Diese nackte Staatsgewalt und brutalen Szenen verschlugen mir und anderen Passanten den Atem und liessen die Wut in unseren Bäuchen explodieren. Sogleich stieg ich aus dem Tram, da brannten schon die ersten Container und die Scharmützel mit der Polizei begannen. Als die Polizisten sogleich mit aller Härte vorgingen und mit Tränengas und Gummigeschossen um sich schossen, als auch Wasserwerfer einsetzten, eskalierte die Situation innert wenigen Stunden, da sich an diesem frühen Samstagabend viele Jugendliche infolge des Bob Marley Konzert im Hallenstadion auf dem Heimweg befanden und dann in die Innenstadt strömten. Viele nahmen spontan an den Protesten teil, die sich schon nach kurzer Zeit zu veritablen Strassenschlachten ausgeweiteten. Von da an hatte die Polizei für drei, vier Tage nichts mehr unter Kontrolle und die Strassenkämpfe entluden sich mit voller Wucht.

Der Kantonspolizeiposten am Limmatquai wurde umzingelt, zwei der Polizeifahrzeuge brannten völlig aus und auch der Eingang zum Rathaus sah dementsprechend übel aus. Die Luft im Niederdorf war geschwängert mit beissenden Tränengasrauchschwaden, dichter, als London im November-Nebel. Das Ausmass der Zerstörung war unfassbar, ebenso die Ohnmacht der Sicherheitskräfte, als sich der jahrelang aufgestaute Frust der Jugendlichen und Alt-68iger in blanke Wut verwandelte, mit dem die Demonstranten den Opernhausbesucher die einseitige Subventionspolitik aufzeigen wollten. Der ersten Krawallnacht folgten einige weitere Strassen-Schlachten im Lauf dieses Jahres, in der sich die «Bewegig» der Autonomen jeweils Mittwoch’s in den Volksversammlungen (VV’s) im Volkshaus oder vereinzelt auch auf dem Platzspitz formierten. Fast jeden Samstag waren Demonstrationen angesagt, regelmässig verbarrikadierten die Geschäfte im Niederdorf um 14.00 Uhr ihre Schaufenster mit Brettern, weil die Proteste weiterhin an Fahrt aufnahmen und sich bis hin zu Grossdemonstrationen mit fast 20‘000 Personen formierten. Die Forderung der Jungend war schlicht und einfach: „Wir wollen ein autonomes Jugendzentrum“, ein «AJZ» muss her! Und zwar „subito!“

Dann am 15. Juli 1980 spielte sich in der Sendung «CH-Magazin» einer der grössten Skandale in der Geschichte des Schweizer Fernsehens ab und wurde zum Gesprächsthema Nr. 1 des Landes. Die Zürcher Jugendunruhen, die mit solcher Heftigkeit über das biedere Land hereingebrochen waren, schlugen Wogen bis zum Hudson River und wurden auch von der «New York Times» aufgegriffen. Die beiden vom Fernsehen eingeladenen Vertreter/innen der Jugendbewegung, Herr und Frau Müller, liessen den beiden Stadtvertreter/innen, im Gespräch mit Stadträtin Emillie Lieberherr und dem Polizeikommandanten mit ihrer Polit-Persiflage die Hosen runter. Die Protagonisten der Jugendbewegung, „Herr und Frau Müller“, kehrten den Spiess um und präsentierten sich als stock-konservatives Paar, dass die Politik geradezu unverschämt dazu aufforderte, mit aller Härte gegen die «Krawallanten» vorzugehen, denn zur Option stünden viel grössere und härtere Geschosse (z.B. aus Nord-Irland). „Auch der Einsatz von Napalm müsse diskutiert werden“. Ansonsten wäre es auch mit einem «Ticket nach Moskau einfach“, also ohne Rückfahrkarte getan. Verblüfft und konsterniert, traute ich erst meinen Ohren nicht, verstand dann aber rasch die Pointe des kafkaesken Auftritts, der schweizweit für Entrüstung und Schlagzeilen sorgte.

Die überschäumende Kreativität der «Bewegig» und ihrer Aktivisten und Aktivistinnen sollte in einem weiteren Medien-Coup gipfeln. Als der Tagesschausprecher Leon Huber am 3. Mai 1981 die Nachrichten verlass, hielten ihm plötzlich zwei maskierte Männer das Schild «Freedom für Giorgio Bellini» (ein anarchistischer Tessiner Buchhändler, der mit einer Gruppe militanter Autonomer Sprengstoffanschläge auf AKWs verübte und einen Strommasten in die Luft sprengte, weil sie Atomkraftwerk-Gegner waren) vor die Brust und in die Kamera und verschwanden unerkannt. „Wir haben uns köstlich amüsiert über diese unverfrorene und medial spektakuläre Aktion“. Weitere Details gefällig, wie die spektakuläre TV-Aktion ablief? Insgesamt fünf als PolizistInnen verkleidete Personen (zwei Frauen und drei Männer), betraten das Fernsehstudio unter dem Vorwand einer Drogenrazzia, was damals offenbar beim Schweizer Fernsehen kein Stirnrunzeln oder einen Verdacht hervor rief. So drangen zwei Personen in den Regieraum ein und sorgten dort für Ablenkung und ein wenig Chaos. Zeitgleich betraten zwei weitere Personen in die Sprecherkabine und hielten dem Nachrichtensprecher das Schild frech vor die Nase in die Kamera der Hauptausgabe.

Doch es kommt noch besser: Als die beiden Chaoten aus dem Regieraum angehalten und der Polizei übergeben werden sollten, holten die KollegInnen von der Sprecherkabine die beiden ab und sagten, sie nähmen sie gleich mit und so kamen alle fünf unerkannt davon. Zurück zum Tessiner Giorgio Bellini, dem Anarchisten der in Zürich einen revolutionären Buchladen an der Engelstrasse betrieb. Als das Schweizer Stimmvolk am 18. Februar 1979 die «Atomschutzinitative» mit einem knappen Anteil von 51,2 Prozent ablehnte machte sich eine kleine Gruppe von militanten AKW-Gegnern auf den Weg ins Fricktal. Die Gruppe «Do it yourself» hatte acht Kilo Sprengstoff im VW-Bus und sprengte damit den Informations-Pavillion beim geplanten KKW Kaiseraugst in die Luft. Personen kamen dabei keine zu Schaden – darauf legte die Gruppe grössten Wert, doch über den materiellen Schaden hinaus, entzündeten die AktivistInnen eine harsche politische Debatte, denn Sprengstoffanschläge hatten in der Schweiz bis anhin zum Glück Seltenheitswert. Nach diesem Sprengstoffanschlag in Kaiseraugst folgten weitere Anschläge auf die AKW‘s Leibstadt und Gösgen. Auf die Frage, wie die Gruppe an den Sprengstoff heran gekommen sei, sagte Bellini, dass dieser in der Landwirtschaft und auf dem Bau verfügbar war und zu seiner Zeit sowas wie „das Spielzeug für die, dem Kindesalter entwachsenen war“. In der Tat kann ich das bestätigen und hinzu fügen, dass wir schon als Kinder auch mit Armee-Pistolen und anderen gefährlichen Waffen oder explosiven Material gespielt haben und bereits als 14 jährige auf grösseren Motorrädern ohne Helm mit riskanten Jumps die gut zehn Meter hohe Steilwand in der Kiesgrube hochbretternd unsere Stunts und Akrobatenküste übten. Das was damals alles nichts Aussergewöhnliches und natürlich auch mit gewissen Risiken verbunden. Doch welch eine grossartige Freiheit unter vielen weiteren. „Kein Vergleich zur heutigen Schisskultur und Risikoarmut!“

Doch zurück zur Gruppe «Do it yourself». Die AktivistInnen gingen sehr professionell vor und lernten vom „Klassenfeind“ und seinen Institutionen. So wurde das berühmte Guerilia-Handbuch eines Schweizer Geheimdienst-Offiziers «Der totale Widerstand – Kriegsanleitung für jedermann» zur Hilfe genommen und bei der Spurentilgung half die Fachzeitschrift «Kriminalistik» den militanten AKW-Gegnern weiter. Zur selben Zeit gab es auch noch den zum Bündner «Öko-Terroristen» abgestempelten Marco Camenisch, der 1979 ebenfalls zwei Sprengstoffanschläge auf Strommasten verübte und zu zehn Jahren Zuchthaus verbannt wurde. Die beiden waren aber nicht die einzigen radikalen AKW-Gegner. Einer ging noch weiter, Chaim Nissim, der später für die Grünen im Genfer Kantonsparlament sass, griff 1982 mit einem Raketenwerfer sowjetischer Bauart, Typ RPG-7 den Reaktor Creys-Malville im französischen Rhônetal an, ohne ihn allerdings in die Luft jagen zu wollen.

Dann kam der Aushebungstermin für die Rekrutenschule beim Militär, auf die ich gar nicht erpicht war, denn im Zuge des Vietnamkriegs und des Eisernen Vorhangs, der Europa teilte, war mir nicht danach zu Mute, Teil einer Kriegsmaschine zu werden. Ganz im Gegenteil: Ich war pazifistisch eingestellt und habe auch für die Armee-Abschaffungsinitiative gestimmt, womit ich also ein veritabler Staatsfeind in den Augen von Politik und Militär war. Nichts desto trotz, setzte ich alles daran, nicht eingezogen zu werden. Und der Zufall half mir dabei, denn kurz vor dem Aushebungstermin fand das Allmendfest statt, einer der ersten Hippie-Events in Zürich. An besagtem sehr heissen Pfingswochenende, lief ich mit nacktem Oberkörper auf dem Festivalgelände rum und traf einen alten Schulkollegen, der mit Siebdruck grosse Cannabisblätter auf die T-Shirts druckte. Da ich keines anhatte, druckte er das Hanfblatt direkt auf meinen Rücken und da ich schnell bräunte, war drei Tage später beim Abwaschen der Farbe, erstrahlte das grosse Cannabisblatt viel heller, auf der gebräunten Rückenhautoberfläche, was dazu führte, dass ich bei der Musterung in der Reihe stehend auffiehl und sich schallendes Gelächter verbreitete, als die angehenden Rekruten und die Aushebungsoffiziere das sahen worauf ich sofort zum Aushebungsoffizier überstellt wurde. Als der dann im Fragebogen auch noch las, dass ich Marihuanna täglich konsumiere und auch noch ein paar andere Substanzen aufführte, wurde ich zwei Jahre zurückgestellt und beim zweiten Aushebungstermin dann in Folge unveränderter Situation vom Militärdienst befreit und dem Zivilschutz zugeteilt. Das war einer meiner glücklichsten und befreiendsten Momente, auch wenn damit eine Pilotenkarriere ausgeschlossen war, doch eine pazifistische Haltung war mir weitaus wichtiger.

Legal? Illegal? „Scheissegal!“, das war das Motto der rebellischen Jugend

Als nach monatelangen Protesten endlich das «AJZ» (Autonomes Jugendzentrum Zürich) auf dem heutigen Car-Parkplatz in einer alten Fabrikanlage aufging, entlud sich zu unserer Freude das ganze Kreativpotential, das so lange im Verborgenen schlummerte. Das war ein radikaler Schub für uns gebeutelte «StadtindianerInnen». Autonome sprossen aus allen WG-Löchern hervor und die Hippies lebten ihren Kult und ihre Musik nun hemmungslos in aller Öffentlichkeit aus. Zumindest im «AJZ» – einem in der Tat rechtsfreien Raum aber mit massiver Polizeiüberwachung durch Spitzel. Das Zürcher Polizeicorps wurde daraufhin «subito» um über 30 Personen aufgestockt nur zur Überwachung der „Bewegung“ und überdies ein weitaus grösseres Heer von Spitzeln in der ganzen Stadt rekrutiert, um die Hippie-Szene und alle anderen subversiven Elemente zu überwachen. Und deren waren viele. Zugegeben: Nach all den Repressionen und drakonischen Strafen wurden die Sprüche der Jugendlichen radikaler. „Macht aus dem Staat, Gurkensalat», war nur eine der unmissverständlichen Parolen, die überall an den Wänden prangten und bei den Demos lauthals skandiert wurden. Das war damals für Papa Staat schon «Landesverrat» und so wurden wir Sympatisanten auf die Stufe von Terrorristen gestellt und wahlweise als Kommunisten, Maoisten oder Palästina-Freunde abgestempelt.

Der Staat ging mit aller Härte auf die Aktivistinnen und Aktivisten los. Es gab im Bildungssystem, in der Verwaltung und in Teilen der Wirtschaft geheime Absprachen über Arbeits- und Ausbildungsverbote von „Linken“ bei Tätigkeiten wie Lehrer und Pädagogen, Piloten, Ingenieure oder kommunale Tätigkeiten. Auch den Militärdienstverweigerern wurden viele Berufsbildungstüren verschlossen und deren Tätigkeiten verwehrt. So kam es auch zu vielen subtilen Verstössen und weniger subtilen Gewaltexzessen seitens der Polizei und Staatsorgane. Ich erinnere mich an einen Vorfall, bei dem ich mit dem Moped und zwei Mädels vorne und hinten drauf vom Niederdorf zum AJZ rüber fahren wollte, dabei am Polizeiposten Urania vorbei kamen, worauf uns beim Landesmuseum ein Polizeifahrzeug den Weg abschnitt, indem der Fahrer das Auto unmittelbar vor uns quer stellte (halb auf der Strasse und halbwegs schräg auf dem Trottoir) zum Stehen kam, worauf drei Türen aufgerissen wurden und drei heldenhafte, flinke Polizisten heraus sprangen, gerade noch bevor ich mit dem Moped in die hintere, offene Tür rein fuhr. Was für eine hinreissend filmreife Aktion, um drei Jugendliche auf einem lahmen Töffli, die nun wirklich keinen Fluchtweg hatten und wie eine hoch kriminelle, schwer bewaffnete Bande überwältigt wurden. Die Schwerverbrecher-Jagd endete mit einer Busse und mein Vater musste mich vom Polizeiposten abholen. Nicht bei allen Einsätzen verlief es so glimpflich.

Während den Unruhen verlor einer meiner Freunde durch ein Gummigeschoss ein Auge und meine Freundin Lena schleiften sie an den Haaren herum bis ihr Gesicht arg zerschrammt war. Ich wurde ein zweites Mal, zusammen mit 300 anderen Personen während einer Demo an der Nüschelergasse verhaftet und während der 24 stündigen Untersuchungshaft illegal erkennungsdienstlich behandelt, danach freigelassen und später mit Fr. 80.- für die Haft entschädigt. Weitere spektakuläre Guerilla-Aktionen, zeigten uns, dass die Demut und der Respekt vor der Obrigkeit am erodieren war. «Underground»-Bar’s und illegale Clubs schossen wie Pilze aus dem verdorrten Zürcher Boden. Gekifft wurde überall auch im Freien und in den Parks kreisten die Joints, so dass die Polizei gar nicht mehr nach kam, überall einzuschreiten. Die Marihuana- Euphorie» und der Duft der Freiheit waren einfach zu gross und der süssliche Gras-Geruch überströmte den Abgas und Dieselgeruch bei weitem. „Nie war die Freiheit lebendiger, grossartiger, vielfältiger und anarchistischer, als in den 80er Jahren“, einer Zeit, die ich als „Freiheits-Zenit des 20. und des 21. Jahrtausends“ bezeichne.

Am Zürichsee-Ufer wurde weit verbreitet oben ohne gebadet und die Frauen genossen die Freiheit und die Freuden und die neue Unabhängigkeit, die Ihnen die Pille und damit die Möglichkeit zur autonomen Schwangerschaftsverhütung verschaffte voll auszuleben, was sich auch in ungehemmter Sexualität und Polygamie oder in Form der ersten Schwulen- und Trans-Parties ausdrückte. Es war damals unter uns kein Verbrechen und weder für Frauen noch für Männer verpönt, mit Dutzenden von Partner Sex zu haben und im Verlauf eines Jahres verschiedene Partnerschaftsmodelle auszuprobieren. «Sex, Drugs & Rock & Roll» oder lieber «Amore et Anarchia»? Nun, warum die Qual der Wahl? Am besten alles zusammen! Jede Art von Einschränkung wurde abgelehnt, Hedonismus pur war das Ziel und die Zeit der Paradiesvögel war angebrochen. Wir wollten uneingeschränkt auf allen Ebenen experimentieren und die freie Liebe ausprobieren, derweil unverheiratete Paare damals gesetzlich noch nicht einmal zusammen leben durften.

So prüde war Zürich und die ganze Schweiz damals. Umso erstaunlicher ist es, dass die Mädels nur so dahin schmolzen wie Eiscreme oder selbst das Zepter übernahmen, heftig flirteten und auf einen One Night Stand aus waren. Jedenfalls wurde man damals als junger Mann hin und wieder hemmungslos von Frauen angemacht, die nur ein Ziel hatten, die Lust und das Bett zu teilen und alle möglichen Sachen auszuprobieren. Eine ebenso aphrodisierende wie inspirierende Zeit, die bis heute ihres gleichen sucht! Die Frauen waren für uns Lichtgestalten, viele von ihnen sehr feministisch selbstbewusst und experimentierfreudig. „Emanzipation, ja klar, sagten wir uns und führten endlich auf politischem Weg das Frauenstimmrecht ein. One (wo)man, one vote“, das galt bei der Jugendbewegung für Männer und Frauen gleichermassen. Es gab sehr viele Aktivistinnen, die sich entweder Gehör verschafften oder einfach taten, was sie wollten und wie sie es wollten und es störte sich aus unseren Kreisen niemand daran. Wir, also auch die Männer, schminkten uns gegenseitig und liefen öfters mit schwarz geschminkten Lippen, farbenfroh bemalten Gesichter und flatternden Haaren durch die Strassen zur «Roten Fabrik“, ins «Drahtschmidli» oder ins «AJZ» und haben so auch vor 50 Jahren das Frauenstimmrecht unterstützt und schliesslich durchgesetzt.

In meiner frühen Jugend war ich begeistert von Pippi Langstrumpf, vom Buch und der TV-Serie. Das freche Mädel war revolutionär und mein anarchistisches, feministisches Vorbild für die „Befreiung von Kinder, Küche und Kirche“ damit vorgespurt. Die autonomeste und frechste Rotzgöre und der erste weibliche Punk, der mir begegnete, hat wohl auch mein Frauenbild geprägt. Sinnlich, frech, unkonventionell, unabhängig und voll geil drauf! Handkehrum waren Tom Sawyer und Huckley Berry Finn meine abenteuerlich, brüderlichen Vorbilder. Ich liebte ihre Lagerfeuer-Romantik und Streiche. Sie waren unsere Vorbilder und die Schreckgespenster unserer Eltern. Doch auch wir betrieben viel Unfug und loteten die Grenzen mächtig aus. Kitas gab es nicht, mein Spielplatz war der grosse Zollikerberg-Wald mit all seinen tierischen Bewohnern und Geheimnissen. So verschwand ich den ganzen Tag im Gestrüpp des Zolliker Waldes, verweilte bei den Kaulquappen und Feuersalamandern an den Teichen, kletterte bis in die Baumspitzen und baute Baumhütten und Staudämme wie die Biber und kam nur zum Mittagessen und dann erst Abends wieder zurück. Eine Aufsicht gab es nicht, dafür jede Menge Abenteuer bis eben hin zu Schusswaffengebrauch, frisierten Floretts und Motocross-Töffs mit denen wir die Steilwände der Kiesgruben hochfuhren, lange bevor wie einen Führerausweis hatten und anderen wilden Spielereien. Wir konnten uns irre austoben, etwas was den Jugendlichen heute für die persönliche Entwicklung fehlt, da sie oft nur noch virtuell am Geschehen teilnehmen und schon da reizüberflutet durchdrehen. Ein weiteres Problem ist auch das eher abstrakte, virtuelle Anbandeln und der digitale Austausch mit dem anderen Geschlecht sowie das heutige Sexual- und Rudelverhalten an sich, dass einerseits wieder ultra konservativ, andererseits extrem egozentrisch geworden ist. Da kann kein Spass mehr aufkommen, wenn man sich auf ein Rudel Jungs oder eine Mädchen-Traube einlassen muss, um in die Nähe des oder der Auserwählte/n zu kommen.

Zurück in die experimentell sehr bewegten 80er Jahre. Die ungehemmte Lust an der Befreiung von allen sexuellen Zwängen hielt bis zu den ersten HIV-Infektionen ab Mitte der 80er Jahre an und erschütterte dann vorerst einmal nur die Schwulenszene. «AIDS» war zu «AJZ»-Zeiten noch kein Thema und so entwickelten sich auch in der Horizontalen viele neue Experimente und Lebensentwürfe. Die ersten Teenager kamen gerade von Indien, von Baghwan aus Poona oder von Goa zurück und waren entweder spirituell total «high» oder ständig «stoned». Der Afghanistan Krieg dagegen spülte unendlich viel Afghan-Haschisch und Heroin, der Bürgerkrieg im Libanon den «roten Libanesen» in unsere verrauchten WG-Stuben und veränderte das Leben, das Stadtbild und auch die politische Weltanschauung. «Thai-Sticks» und «Acapulco Gold» aus Mexico oder «Durban Poison» aus Südafrika machten die Runde und «Zenzemillia» wurde zum geflügelten Wort in der Kifferszene.

Es war die Zeit der Rebellion, der freien Entfaltung, der Politisierung, der Sex- und Drogenorgien und Strassenschlachten, musikalisch untermalt von den «Rolling Stones», «Doors» oder «Deep Purple», die ebenso zu unseren Musikgöttern zählten wie Bob Dylan, Janis Joplin und Jil Scott Heron. Nichts war mehr wie früher und es gab auch kein zurück! Als Mitte der 1970er die «Punks» erst in New York und dann die Punkszene in London aufkam, schwappten die Ausläufer auch auf die Schweiz über. Die Sex Pistols und Talking Heads, Ramones oder under sex zählten zu den heissesten Bands, der damaligen Zeit. Bald entwickelten sich in lokale Szenen, allen voran in Zürich. 1977 gab es in Zürich einen harten Kern von etwa 50 Jugendlichen, welche die Schweizer Punk– und New Wave-Bewegung massgebend beeinflusste. Ihre ersten Treffpunkte waren der Punk-Kleiderladen «Booster» und der «Hey Club», die erste Punk-Disco in Zürich oder die Reithalle in Bern sowie bei Hausbesetzungen, bei denen die Punks an vorderster Front standen. Auch in Winterthur gab es eine stark politisierte Punk-Szene, die sich häufig als Gegenbewegung zum rechtsextremen Umfeld, also zu den Skinheads in der Schweiz verstanden. Auch in Basel gab es ein «AJZ», indem die Punks und Autonomen sich trafen.

Mit dem Piratensender «Radio 24» von Roger Schawinski, der erst vom «Piz Gropera» aus Italien sendete, wurde auch die karge Medienlandschaft, bestehend aus «Radio Beromünster» (unsäglich) dem Schweizer Fernsehen (langweilig und einfältig), dem «ORF» (ebenso bieder) und der «ARD» (nicht viel besser), umgepflügt. «MTV» hielt Einzug mit den ersten Kultvideos revolutionierte nicht nur die Musik- und Medienwelt, sondern auch die Jugendszene und Subkultur und mit Radio «DRS3» kam hierzulande noch ein genialer Jugendsender in der Schweiz hinzu. Erst später bekamen dann auch Lokalradios eine Lizenz und bald gab es in jedem Kanton mindestens einen, wenn nicht zwei alternative Radio-Sender.

Die ersten Wohngemeinschaften zu Beginn der 70er Jahre bereicherten die neuen Lebensentwürfe und Formen der Jugendbewegung und schufen so auch viel Solidarität und Engagement mit anderen Untergrundbewegungen, Freiheitskämpfern und unterdrückten Staaten wie Palästina, Nicaragua und das von US-Soldaten besetzte Vietnam. Die Zeit war reif, für grosse gesellschaftspolitische Veränderungen. Zürich wurde zum Hot Spot für die aufblühende Jugendkultur, die gerade in allen Farben und Formen explodierte und die Grundlage für den unglaublichen Liberalisierungsschub hinsichtlich kultureller Freiräume lieferten. „So ausgeflippt und trendy hat man die Städte Zürich, Bern und Basel nie zuvor und nie mehr danach gesehen“! Wir gingen neugierig und mit Respekt auf das andere Geschlecht ein und auf Andersdenkende oder Aussehende zu und das machte die Bewegung so einzigartig.

Es war die Zeit der Anarchisten und Utopisten. Wir debattierten und kritisierten heftig, stritten und solidarisierten uns mit den unterdrückten Völkern. Im Strudel dieses explosiven Befreiungsversuchs und des grenzenlosen Lebens wurden rauschende Parties ohne Ende gefeiert, doch immer mehr harte Drogen, wie Heroin, Kokain und Amphetamine kamen dazu. Als das «AJZ» in einer alten Fabrikanlage beim Carparkplatz am Sihlquai aufging, spülte es allerlei schräge Vögel und Drogendealer mit rein. Bald lieferte sich die italienische Drogenmafia mit der türkischen einen Bandenkrieg, der teilweise auch im «AJZ» ausgetragen wurde. Eine Weile lang, war es richtig gefährlich, sich mit diesen Typen anzulegen und wir mussten einen Wachdienst aufziehen, um die schlimmsten Eskalationen zu verhindern. In den frühen 80er Jahren starben jährlich hunderte Jugendliche an einer Überdosis «Aitsch» (der Slang-Name für Heroin). Die Situation verbesserte sich erst, als Emilie Lieberherr, die Frauenrechtsvorkämpferin und spätere Sozialvorsteherin und Stadträtin die Methadon-Abgabe einführte und die Fixer, Dealer und Drogentoten von den Zürcher Strassen verschwanden und die Süchtigen sich in den Kontakt- und Methadon-Abgabestellen wieder trafen.

Jährlich starben Hunderte von Jugendlichen an Heroin

Ich bin damals mit 17 Jahren aus der Elternwohnung aus- und in eine Wohngemeinschaft (WG) an der Forchstrasse gezogen, in der Rico B. und Tommy M., zwei Literaten wohnten und die Kulturzeitschrift «Babayaga» (russische Hexe) herausgaben, die in der Spinnerei Wettingen von Kaspar P. gedruckt wurde. Andy, ein weiterer Wohngenosse arbeitete im grössten Plattenladen von Zürich und er hatte seine über 1200 LPs (Schallplatten) umfassende Kollektion in unsere WG verfrachtet. Dadurch eröffnete sich ein unfassbares musikalisches Universum für uns und wir schwebten musikalisch im siebten Himmel. Von da an ging die Post ab, denn wir waren alle „subversive“ Elemente in den Augen der Obrigkeit. „Lieber subversiv, als konservativ“, sagten wir uns gelassen und legten los, die Welt zu verändern. Wie gesagt, durften unverheiratete Paare damals noch nicht zusammen leben. Da uns dies offensichtlich „Wurscht“ war, sah die Polizei öfters mal ungebeten in der WG rein. Da sich dort in der zu unterst befindlichen 5-Zimmer Wohnung zumeist Tag und Nacht gut 10-15 Leute aufhielten, waren die Zweier-Patrouillen leicht überfordert und zogen unter Hundegebell und jugendlichen Beifall rasch wieder ab. Umso mehr wurden wir dafür bespitzelt, da hier auch viele «AJZ»-Aktivistinnen und Aktivisten ein und aus gingen. Doch statt «aus dem Staat Gurkensalat“ zu machen, explodierte das Kreativpotential in der Gastronomie, Clubszene, der graphischen Industrie und in der Medienlandschaft. Schliesslich ging es uns ja nicht um die eine Konterrevolution und Abschaffung der Demokratie oder der Etablierung einer Anarchie anstelle von Parlament und Bundesrat, sondern schlicht um mehr Freiheit in der Freizeit, im Beruf, in der Familie, bei der Sexualität, beim Drogenkonsum und dem Nachtleben. So wurden die Bewegten medial sehr kreativ, gaben Strassenzeitungen heraus, druckten Flyer und Poster, hängten sie auch überall auf (Wildplakatierung) und probierten allerlei Neues aus. Zürich entwickelte sich von einem Provinznest zur Weltstadt und die Aufbruchstimmung führte zu einem der bedeutendsten, gesellschaftspolitischen und kulturellen Wandel der letzten 50 Jahre in der Schweiz.

Sobald das «AJZ» beim heutigen Carparkplatz aufging, machten wir uns daran, das alte Fabrikareal und die Gebäude umzubauen und einzurichten. Es wurden allerlei Gremien gebildet: Handwerker-, «Beizen-», «Frauen-», «Drogen-» und die «Kurvengruppe», also für Jugendliche, die von zu Hause ausgebüxt und polizeilich ausgeschrieben waren. Zwei meiner Freunde, die Rimoldi-Brüder, waren in der «Beizengruppe», meine erste und meine um sechs Jahre ältere Freundin Michele Lang in der «Kurvengruppe» und ich bei der „Drogengruppe“. Es war eine rauhe, aber herrliche Zeit einer grandiosen Aufbruchstimmung. Das «AJZ» war in der Tat sehr autonom und wir alle eine grosse bunte Familie von kreativen Individualisten, Alchemisten, Anarchisten und Überlebenskünstlern. Doch einhergehend mit der Heroinschwemme kam es zu vielen sehr Toten, die Jüngsten waren damals gerade 13 Jahre alt. Auch Mandy, meine spätere, damals ein Jahr jüngere, also 17 jährige Freundin starb später an einer Überdosis. Diese unmenschliche Misere dauerte so lange, bis das Methadon-Programm auch infolge von HIV-Infektionen zum Zug kam und Dr. Uchtenhagen zusammen mit der Stadträtin Emilie Lieberherr die Junkies von der Gasse holte, um sie nun endlich menschenwürdig im Methadon-Programm zu betreuen. Das war ein mutiger Schritt in die richtige Richtung und das Methadon-Modell wurde auch international kopiert.

Das AJZ war unsere Heimat! Hier traffen wir uns, hier schliefen wir oft, hier engagierten wir uns sehr kreativ. Einer der Höhepunkte zu dieser Zeit war das spontane Konzert von Jimmy Cliff auf dem Carparkplatz. Er kam eines Morgens ins «AJZ» mit seiner Entourage und war begeistert von der Zürcher Jugend Bewegung und dem autonomen Jugendzentrum Und zwar so sehr, dass er sich zu einem spontanen Konzert hinreissen liess und wir in Windeseile versuchten eine Bühne zu bauen und die Installationen für die Musikanlage und die Lautsprecher vorzunehmen. Radio 24, Roger Schawinskis Piratensender auf dem Piz Gropero in Norditalien erfuhr davon und so sprach sich das Spontankonzert schnell in der ganzen Stadt rum. Ab 16.00 Uhr strömten immer mehr Jugendliche zum AJZ und brachten den Tram und Strassenverkehr am Sihlquai zum Erliegen. Auf dem Platz fanden sich an die 3000 Personen zusammen, die frenetisch und musikalisch als auch mit Marie-Jane voll berauscht mit Jimmy Cliff in Ekstase gerieten. „Unforgetable times, indeed – und prägende Momente für viele meiner Generation.“ Auch Bob Marley seinerseits hat uns im AJZ besucht, er war aber eher reserviert und mit sich selbst beschäftigt.

Während dieser Zeit verbrachte ich auch viel Zeit in der Roten Fabrik, die ebenfalls zu einem der wenigen Hot-Spots in Zürich für Jugend-liche der damaligen Zeit gehörte. Dort lernte ich auch meine dritte Freundin, eine ebenfalls sieben Jahre ältere Frau und Künstlerin namens Betty Weber kennen. Sie war eine Nubierin, also eine schwarze Frau und zudem eine sehr kreative Malerin, Fotografin und Skulpteurin. Ich hatte keine Berührungs-ängste zu reiferen Frauen jeglicher Hautfarbe und lernte zudem offensichtlich auf „alten Pfannen kochen“, wie wir damals eine Beziehung zwischen einem jüngeren Mann und einer älteren Frau salopp nannten.

Nach der Lehre reiste ich erst einmal sechs Monate lange durch die USA. Ich kaufte mir in Danville (Ill.) einen grossen Chevi Station Wagon und fuhr damit quer durchs Land bis nach San Francisco und L.A. und wieder zurück bis nach Chicago – ganz nach dem Motto des Buches von Jack Kerouack, «On the road again». Die Reise verlief ebenso wild und aufregend, wie in diesem fantastischen Buch beschrieben, mit dem Unterschied, dass ich alleine unterwegs war, aber genau deshalb spontaner auf eine unmenge Leute und Frauen traf. Hier zwei kleine Anek-toden: Ausgerechnet in der keuschen Mormonen-Staat Salt Lake City wurde ich, damals ein knackiger junger 19-jähriger Hippie von zwei Frauen auf dem Parkplatz angesprochen, derweil meine Ex-Freundin aus der Schweiz, die mich gerdade für 14 Tage besuchte, im Einkaufszentrum shoppen ging. Die beiden attraktiven Frauen hatten mein Licence Plate entdeckt und wollten wissen, ob ich auch aus Chicago sei. Aus dem Gespräch entwickelte sich eine spontane Einladung, die ich gerne befolgte und so landeten wir in dem Haus der beiden Ladies. Ich hatte eine gute Zeit und spannende Diskussionen mit den beiden, während meine Ex-Freundin, die kaum englisch sprach, sich langweilte. Irgendwann legte sie sich schlafen, worauf die eine Lady mich ungeniert anmachte, ich aber eher auf ihre Freundin scharf war. Später erfuhr ich, dass die Lady, die mit mir flirtete, was das Zeug hielt, meine Ex-Freundin mit einer Schlaftablette abserviert hatte, damit wir uns ein wenig vergnügen konnten. Die kennen nichts, dachte ich mir und so hatte ich letztlich mit beiden zusammen ein amouröses Abenteuer, an dass ich mich noch lange errinnerte. Das war so ein bisschen Woodstock Feeling mit Sex, Drugs and Rock‘n Roll.

In San Franzisco blieb ich über einen Monat bis zum Greatfull Dead Neujahrskonzert. Ich parkierte meinen Chevi Station Car auf dem Parkplatz unter der Golden Gate Bridge und dort gab es eine grosse Community von Leuten, die dort in ihren Wohnmobilen oder Station Cars lebten. Man konnte sich dort locker die ganze Zeit aufhalten, musste aber jede Nacht nach drei Uhr für drei Stunden verschwinden. Dann fuhr ich jeweils nach Berkley rüber und hängte dort mit den Nachtschwärmern rum, um gegen sechs Uhr in der Früh auf den Parkplatz zurückzukehren und mich schlafen zu legen. Auch hier gab es zwei formidable Femme fatal, die fast jeden Abend eine Nummer schoben. So gab es u.a. recht viele freizügige und experimentelle Eskapaden auf der Reise 1981, die quer durch die USA von der Ost- zur Westküste und zurück führte mit über 20‘000 bewältigten Meilen und mindest zehn Reifenwechseln. Fast jede dritte Nacht wurde ich von der Polizei kontrolliert, egal wo ich gerade parkierte. Mit der Zeit liess ich dann im Strahl der Scheinwerfer, die Scheiben runter, streckte schlaftrunken den Schweizer Pass raus und sagte, dass ich Morgen schon wieder weiter ziehen würde. Damit war die Sache erledigt. Beeindruckend war auch der junge Pastor in Denver, der nicht nur kokste sondern seine Nächte auch bei Zockerrunden verbrachte und dann frisch fröhlich und unschuldig wie ein Engel wieder in der Kirche stand und Psalme sang. Soviel zu den Evangelischen Geistlichen, aber eben doch viel besser, als die klammheimlichen pädophilen Priester, die es ja zu Hauf gab und immer noch gibt. Es gäbe noch ganz viel über den USA-Trip im wahrsten Sinne des Wortes zu erzählen, doch kehren wir in die Schweiz der 80er Jahre zurück.

Im Strudel SchweizerPolitskandale

In den 80er Jahren gab es noch hinreichend gute Jobs. Erst arbeitete ich noch im Rechenzentrum der Oerlikon Bührle, danach bei einer internationalen Handelsfirma, später bei der «Brauerei Hürlimann» im Export, danach wieder für kurze Zeit bei einer Handelsfirma, der ich den gesamten Import von Getreidemehl aus Schweden vom Strassenverkehr auf die Bahn verlagerte und so schon in den frühen 80er Jahren ein erstes ökologisches Ziel umsetzte, dass der Firma auch noch viel Geld sparte, da die Bahnlösung erheblich günstiger war. Danach kamen drei Reiseleiter-Einsätze für je drei Monate im Senegal, in Polen und in London. Als ich von den drei Auslandeinsätzen und dem anschliessenden Aufenthalt im Untergrund in Südafrika von dort zurückkehrte, arbeitete ich beim «Media Daten Verlag», der die «Werbewoche» und das «Media Trend Journal» heraus gab und wurde dann Anzeigenleiter der «Neuen Zürcher Zeitung» für die Bereiche Tourismus, Schulen und Institute und war der Verkaufsleiter der «Swiss Review of World Affairs», dem damaligen, hochkarätigen, englisch sprachigen Magazin der «Neuen Zürcher Zeitung» «NZZ». Später produzierte ich die Wälzer, der «Portraits der Schweizer Werbewirtschaft» und «Portraits der Schweizer Kommunikationswirtschaft» beim «Bertschi-Verlag». Durch die Verlagstätigkeit rückte ich dem Journalismus immer näher und beschloss das Handwerk über eine PR-Ausbildung am «SAWI» zu erlernen.

Im Oktober 1989 nahm ich an einem einwöchigen Journalismus-Workshop mit dem „linken“ Journalisten, Schriftsteller und Historiker Niklaus Meienberg teil, der kurze Zeit zuvor den «Villiger-Skandal» im 2. Weltkrieg aufgedeckt hatte. Und uns nun überraschend nach Kreuzlingen zur Asylantenempfangsstelle führte, bei der wir noch am selben Abend unserer Ankunft eine menschenunwürdige Situation vorfanden. Vor der geschlossenen Asylanten-Empfangsstelle hatten gut ein Dutzend frierender Flüchtlinge ein Feuer angezündet, um sich vor der bitteren Oktoberkälte zu schützen und aufzuwärmen, denn sie seien von der Asylanten-Empfangsstelle ausgeschlossen worden, erklärten sie uns. Die Polizei war gerade dabei das Feuer zu löschen, was uns in Rage brachte. Niklaus Meienberg kam so richtig in Fahrt und der wortgewaltige Hühne orchestrierte eine verbale Schandtirade feinster Didaktik. Aber Meienberg wäre nicht Meienberg, wenn den Worten nicht auch Taten folgen würden und so wies er uns an, die Flüchtlinge in die Jugendherberge zu verschieben, die zum Glück gerade noch geöffnet hatte. Der arme Herbergen-Verwalter fiel fast vom Stuhl als er das Dutzend frierender und heruntergekommener Flüchtlinge im Schlepptau der JournalistInnen vor sich sah, so ging das übliche bürokratische Prozedere mit den Papieren los und musste nach den ersten fünf Personen, aufgrund fehlender Identitäts-Papiere, als hoffnungslos, abgebrochen werden, worauf die Flüchtlinge wenigsten mit ein bisschen Druck und Kostenübernahme (durch die Teilnehmenden) diese Nacht in der Wärme verbringen konnten.

Meienberg indes hatte schon am nächsten Morgen die halbe Deutschschweizer Presse auf den Plan gerufen und über die menschenunwürdigen Vorkommnisse und Praktiken (Strafaktion) vor der Flüchtlingsstelle hingewiesen. So sahen wir uns plötzlich im Presse-Trubel mit einer Schar Journalisten konfrontiert und belagerten mit diesen zusammen das Flüchtlingszentrum, bis wir mit dem Leiter der Empfangsstelle eine Aussprache hatten. Dann kamen die Politiker und Stadträte zu Wort, die mauerten. Auch Peter Arbenz, der damalige Flüchtlingsdelegierte des Bundes meldete sich zu Wort und stellte dem Empfangsstellenleiter einen Persilschein aus, derweil die kirchlichen Organisationen mehr Menschenwürde einforderten. Und so war die ganze Woche action. Der Kurs ging am Freitag-Abend zu Ende, jeder konnte über Nacht eine Story über das Geschehen der letzten Woche schreiben und sie Meienberg am Samstag-Morgen zeigen, der dann einen kurzen Kommentar dazu abgab, der allerdings lausig und launisch ausfiehl. Doch hatte ich das Glück, dass mein Beitrag in der damals renommierten «Weltwoche» mit der Essenz eines anderen Schreibwerkstatt-Teilnehmers gemeinsam just zu meinem Geburtstag abgedruckt wurde. Das war der Einstieg und Ansporn, weiter in diese Richtung zu gehen und weil Fotografieren schon länger zu einer Leidenschaft herangewachsen war, wollte ich Journalismus und Reportage-Fotografie miteinander kombinieren. Zoff und Stoff gab es ja genug, wie ihr gleich erfährt.

Im Jahre 1990 war ans Licht gekommen, dass sowohl die Bundesbehörden, als auch die kantonalen Polizeikorps seit Beginn des Jahrhunderts rund 900‘000 «Fichen» über politisch verdächtige Personen angelegt hatten. Laut offiziellen Angaben waren mehr als 700‘000 Personen und Organisationen erfasst, also über ein Zehntel der Bevölkerung wurden als subversiv eingestuft. Der Beobachtungsradius zielte zuerst auf ausländische Anarchisten, Schweizer Sozialisten und Gewerkschafter, Schriftsteller, unwillkommene politische Flüchtlinge und Ausländer, die oft wieder ausgewiesen wurden. Mit dem Aufkommen des Antikommunismus wurden vor allem linksstehende Politiker und Mitglieder von Gewerkschaften überwacht. Offizielles Ziel der «Fichierung» war es, das Land vor aus dem Ausland gesteuerten subversiven Aktivitäten zu schützen. Die Bekämpfung der Subversion war während des Kalten Krieges ein weitverbreitetes Schlagwort. Die Parlamentarische Untersuchungskommission «PUK» brachte zu Tage, wie weit dieser schwammige Begriff aufgefasst wurde.

Wie aus den Unterlagen der «Untergruppe Nachrichtendienst und Abwehr» (UNA) hervorging, empfanden eifrige Staatsschützer „Alternative“, „Grüne“, Friedensbewegte, Drittwelt-Aktivisten, Frauenbewegungen und Fremdarbeiterbetreuer, Anti-AKW-Aktivisten, „Linke“ aller Art per se, als potentiell gefährlich einzustufen seien, denn sie könnten kommunistisch unterwandert, feind- oder fremdgesteuert oder sonst wie manipuliert sein. So bestellte auch ich meine «Fiche» beim Polizei und Justizministerium, die dann doch detaillierter als angenommen ausfiehl, was das Bewegungsprofil und die Kontakte angeht, aber ansonsten sehr belanglos war, bis auf die vielen schwarzen Stellen in dem 14 seitigen Protokoll, das wohl mehr die Spitzel-Identitäten verdecken und schützen sollte, als Staatsgeheimnisse, staatsfeindliche Aktivitäten oder einen «Landesverrat» des Überwachten zu Tage gebracht hätte. Es zeigte den blinden Eifer der Behörden und das traurige Abbild ihrer Spitzel. Die wenigsten von uns waren Marxisten, Leninisten, Maoisten oder Kommunisten oder Staatsfeinde auch wenn das Motto: «Macht aus dem Staat Gurkensalat» skandiert wurden. Da wurde viel Staatspropaganda aufgefahren, um mit Kanonen auf Spatzen zu schiessen. Aber ein «Ticket nach Moskau einfach», haben wir «Chaoten» trotzdem nie erhalten.

Dann gab es noch einen weiteren Politskandal: Die «P-26» Geheimloge (Projekt 26) war eine geheime Kaderorganisation zur Aufrechterhaltung des Widerstandswillens in der Schweiz im Fall einer Besetzung. Sie wurde 1979/1981 als Nachfolgerin des Spezialdienstes in der Untergruppe Nachrichtendienst und Abwehr (UNA) eingesetzt und 1990 nach der Bekanntmachung durch eine Parlamentarische Untersuchungskommission (PUK) durch Bundesrat Moritz Leuenberger aufgelöst. Für die P-26-Mitglieder war in Friedenszeiten keine Bewaffnung vorgesehen, doch darum scherte sich der illustre Geheimbund nicht. Vorgesehen war, dass sie als Gruppe auf Befehl einer allenfalls im Ausland verbleibenden Exilregierung aktiv würden, um als Nachrichtenquelle zu dienen, ein Kampfauftrag war nicht vorgesehen, denn der war allein der Armee vorbehalten. Dennoch hortete die Untergrund-Organisation Waffen und legte grosse Munitionsdepots an. Ein weiterer Skandal setzte dem ganzen Abhör-, Bespitzelungs- und Geheimdienstzirkus noch die Krone auf. Doch es kommt noch viel dicker. Auch der Schweizer Nachrichtendienst war unterwandert mit „Kalten Kriegern“.

Die Schweiz als Apartheid-Gehilfe der Buren

Peter Regli war so eine Kultfigur der «Kalten Krieger» und als Chef des schweizerischen Nachrichtendienstes 1991 bis 1999 eine illustere, zwielichtige Geheimdienst-Figur. Er organisierte in den frühen 1980er Jahren geheime Pilotenaustausche mit dem Apartheidregime. Laut dem ehemaligen Geheimdienstchef Südafrikas, Chris Thirion, vereinbarten die Geheimdienste der Schweiz und Südafrikas 1986 auch einen Know-how-Austausch über C-Waffen. Am 25. Januar 1988 traf der Leiter des südafrikanischen ABC-Waffen-Programmes, Wouter Basson, der später als «Doktor Tod» in die Geschichte einging, sowie Polizeigeneral Lothar Neethling sich mit Vertretern des «AC-Laboratoriums Spiez» in Bern zusammen. Unter dem «Project Coast» wollte der Militärarzt Basson mit B- und C-Waffen damals mögliche Aufstände der schwarzen Bevölkerung im Keim ersticken. „Eine grauenhafte Vorstellung, dass die Schweiz bei diesem teuflischen Plan im geheimen mitgewirkt hat und an der Vernichtung von zehntausenden von Schwarzen hätte beteiligt gewesen sein können.“ Dies zeigt die damalige Doktrin und das schablonenartige Denken der Geheimdienste. Heute ist das vermutlich nicht viel besser mit politisch hochstilisierten Feindbildern und den Algoryhtmen.

Vor Reglis erzwungenem Rücktritt liess er 1999 sämtliche Akten über die nachrichtendienstliche und militärische Zusammenarbeit mit dem Apartheidregime vernichten. 2003 reichte das (VBS) eine Strafanzeige und leitete eine Administrativuntersuchung gegen ihn im Zusammenhang mit den umstrittenen Kontakten des Geheimdienstes zum südafrikanischen Apartheid-Regime ein. Obwohl auch eine Parlamentarische Untersuchungskommission (PUK) diese Operation als unrechtmässig bezeichnete, wurde Regli 2007 vom Bundesrat vollständig rehabilitiert. Die Aktenvernichtungen sei im Interesse der Schweiz gewesen. Reglis Rehabilitierung war allerdings umstritten, sie wurde von Hilfswerken und der politischen Linken (Sozialdemokraten, Partei der Arbeit, Grüne) mit Empörung quittiert. Doch wie kam Regli überhaupt zu diesen hochrangigen ausländischen Kontakten zur «CIA», zum «Mossad» und zum südafrikanischen Geheimdienst? Quellen aus dem «NDB»-Umfeld führen zu den geheimen Sitzungen des «Club de Berne». Diese informelle Organisation wurde während des Kalten Kriegs 1971 in Bern gegründet. Sie vereinigt die Chefs aller Geheimdienste und der Bundespolizeien aus etwa zehn Ländern wie Deutschland, den USA, Grossbritannien und der Schweiz und ist auch heute noch operativ tätig. Ziel ist der regelmässige Infor-mationsaustausch zwischen westlichen Geheimdiensten und Bundespolizeikorps über aktuelle Bedrohungen. Zu den Gründungsmitgliedern zählte auch die Schweiz. Auch Israel spielte eine entscheidende Rolle und der Austausch mit dem israelischen Inlandgeheimdienst «Schin Bet» und dem Auslandpendant «Mossad» waren intensiv. Initiator des «Berner Clubs» war der italienische Geheimdienstchef Umberto Federico d’Amato.

Ziel war es damals, ein gemeinsames Chiffrier-System aufzubauen, das auch hervorragende Dienste bei der Abhörung fremder Nationen und 2020 zur «Crypto-Affäre» führte.. Mitte der 70er Jahre erhielt der «Club»  eine aktive Rolle beim Vorgehen gegen linke Terrororganisationen wie die «RAF», die Rote Armee Fraktion in Deutschland oder die «Roten Brigaden» in Italien und so wurde ein weiteres, vom ersten getrenntes Meldesystem aufgebaut. Nach den Terroranschlägen vom 11.September hat der «Club» eine verstärkte Bedeutung als Gremium der politischen Konsultation zwischen Geheim- und Staatsschutzdiensten erhalten. Aus der Organisation ist ein breit abgestütztes internationales bekanntes aber immer noch sehr diskretes Gremium geworden. 2001 initiierte der «Club» die «Counter Terrorism Group» (CTG). Diese soll angeblich seit 2016 ein europäisches Geheimdienstzentrum in Den Haag leiten. Seit 2016 laufen Sondierungen mit «Europol», da die «CTG sich mit den polizeilichen Strukturen der EU oder einzelner Mitgliedstaaten vernetzen wollte. 2017 bezeichnete der deutsche Abgeordneter Andrej Hunko den «Berner Club» und dessen informellen Zusammenschluss «CTG» als „kaum kontrollierbar. Er kritisierte auch die zunehmende Vergeheimdienstlichung der Polizeiarbeit. In Österreich wurde der «Berner Club» im Rahmen der «BTV-Affäre» in den Medien genannt. In Deutschland anlässlich der Kontroverse um die Äusserungen von Verfassungsschutzpräsident Hans-Georg Maassen zu den Ausschreitungen in Chemnitz 2018  bekannt. Seine Rede vor dem «Berner Club» am 18. Oktober 2018 hatte seine Versetzung in den einstweiligen Ruhestand zur Folge.

Aviva Guttmann, eine Historikerin am «King’s College» in London, ist eine der Forscherinnen mit Zugang zu den «Club-de-Berne» Aufzeichnungen der 80er- und 90er-Jahren, die in ausländischen Archiven gelagert sind. Sie sagt, „dass Regli Kraft seines Amts Mitglied gewesen sein muss“ und ist sich sicher ist, „dass Regli stets über einen Wissensschatz verfügte, der weit über seinen Dienstgrad hinausging“. Durch die Teilnahme am «Club de Berne» erhielt Regli Informationen der «CIA» und vom «Mossad». Ein klassischer Modus Operandi für jeden Nachrichtendienstchef. Doch Regli ist dabei zu weit gegangen, «indem er ein zu hohes Risiko einging, die Sicherheit des Landes und die internationalen Verpflichtungen sowie Neutralität der politischen Schweiz zu gefährden. Dass Regli sich mit «CIA und «Mossad austauschen konnte, hat auch mit anderen Personen zu tun, die ihm den Rücken frei hielten und Türen öffnete, wie der Leiter des internen Nachrichtendiensts «DAP». Urs von Daeniken und sein Vorgesetzter, Peter Huber, beide Mitglieder im «Club de Berne». Sie fielen nach der «Fichenaffäre» 1989 in Ungnade und wurden aufgrund des öffentlichen Drucks kaltgestellt. Alt-Bundesrat Adolf Ogi erinnert sich und erzählt, dass der Geheimdienstchef für ihn immer mehr zum „Problem geworden sei, weil „Regli zu eng mit Personen aus dem Apartheid-Regime verbandelt war, die ein chemisch-biologisches Waffenprogramm aufgebaut hatten.“

Carla Del Ponte wollte Regli wegen der damals bekannt gewordenen Südafrika-Affäre sogar verhaften. Doch dazu kam es nicht, erst kam noch die Bellasi-Affäre dazwischen, benannt nach dem ehemaligen Geheimdienstbuchhalter Dino Bellasi, der von Regli mit 8,9 Millionen Franken ausgestattet und beauftragt wurde, ein geheimes Waffenarsenal aufzubauen. Als Bundesrat Ogi im November 1995 die Leitung des Militärdepartements übernahm und in sein Amt einarbeitete, hoffte er, von seinem Vorgänger, dem FDP-Bundesrat Kaspar Villiger Informationen zu erhalten, doch der liess seinen Nachfolger auflaufen. Dieser gab ihm keine Informationen über die Abläufe des «SND» oder über die Amtsführung von Peter Regli. So kam es auch, dass Ogi bis zum 12. Februar 2020 nichts von der Kontrolle des «CIA» und «BND» über «Crypto AG» wusste, wie er selber sagt.

Beruflich hatte ich zu Beginn der 90er Jahre bei meiner Public Relation Ausbildung und bei der PR-Agentur «Leipziger & Partner» in Zumikon mit dem Militär zu tun, obschon ich als Dienstverweigerer und Befürworter der «Armeeabschaffungs-Inititave» und daher kein Armee-Freund oder Kriegswaffen-Fetischist war. Mein Chef, Dr. Emil S., war Oberst im Militär, «AUNS»-Mitglied und ein „kleiner Nazi“ und gehörte so betrachtet nicht zu meinen speziellen Freunden oder Vorbildern. Aber beruflich gesehen, war er ein PR-Ass und bestens vernetzt, wodurch ich trotz meiner Aversion gegen Ernst Cincera, Peter Sager und Christoph Blocher viel von seinem Know-How und Kontakten zum militärischen Kader oder zu gemässigten Zivilorganisationen wie «Helvetas» und dem «Europa Institut» profitierte. Bei der PR-Agentur «Leipziger & Partner» organisierte ich u.a. das «Forum 91» und das «Colloquium Sicherheitspolitik & Medien» mit «NATO»-General Klaus Naumann als Gast, zwei hochpolitische Foren mit hochrangigen Militärs, Politikern, Wissenschaftlern und Medienvertretern.

Da prallten zwei Welten aufeinander: Hier der junge Freak, der Sympathie für die «Armee-Abschaffungs-Initiative» zeigte und sich der Rekrutenschule entzog, dafür aber gerne Zivildienst leistete. Einer der auch mit der Anti-AKW-Bewegung sympathisierte! Auf der anderen Seite das bürgerliche Establishment, die Spitze der Schweizer Armee bis hin zum Gastreferenten, «NATO»-General Klaus Naumann, der nur von drei Kantonspolizisten eskortiert in die Aula hereingeführt wurde. Da ich das Sicherheitsdispositiv im Detail kannte, wäre es für mich einfach gewesen, einen Terrorakt zu verüben, bei dem die Schweizer Armeespitze einen empfindlichen Schlag hätte hinnehmen müssen. Insgeheim malte ich mir aus, wie es wohl gewesen wäre, wenn ich die hiesige Militärelite mit einem Schlag mit einem der 35mm Flabgeschosse aus meinem früheren Lehrbetrieb «Oerlikon Bührle» oder einem anderen Sprengsatz hätte vernichten können. Da habe ich gemerkt, dass man selbst als Pazifist einige abgründige Szenarien in Erwägung ziehen kann, wenn man in militärischen Kategorien denkt, so wie das in Militär- und Spionagekreisen und bei meinem Chef eben alltäglich und branchenüblich war. 

Die 80er Jahre waren also geprägt von grossen politischen Umwälzungen, die die Jugendbewegung ausgelöst hatte und so eine ganze Generation politisiert hat, denn die innenpolitischen Umwälzungen hatten auch viel mit der internationalen Lage zu tun. Mit den Schematas des Kalten Krieges, dem Vietnam-Krieg, dem Sechs Tage Krieg und Einmarsch Israels in den palästinensischen Gebieten, den Befreiungsbewegungen in Lateinamerika wie den Sandinisten in Nicaragua, den Tupamors oder dem «Sender Luminoso» in Peru sowie der Kampf der «Roten Armee Fraktion» (RAF) in Deutschland und der «Roten Brigaden» in Italien. Dadurch befeuert waren die jungen Aktivisten auch geneigt, die Armee abzuschaffen und die AKWs abzuschalten (mitunter eine Reaktion wegen des Reaktorunfalls von Tschernobyl). Wir schauten also weit über den Tellerrand hinaus und solidarisierten oder engagierten uns mit den Sandinisten in Nicaragua, die sich von Diktator Somoza verabschieden wollten und mit den Palästinänsern. Während den Jugenunruhen trugen wir alle die pälästinänsischen Tücher als Schutz gegen die Tränengaspetarden. Auch die imperialistischen Scharmützel der USA in Kuba, auf Grenada und in Panama brachten uns in Rage. Und so ist es kein Wunder, dass wir in die Welt hinaus zogen, um Neues zu entdecken und altes abzuschaffen.

Natürlich waren mir/uns damals all diese politischen Fakten nicht in dieser Dichte und Detailtreue bekannt, doch die vielen Skandale passten in das «ideologische Feindbild», dass ich auf privater und geschäftlicher Ebene beim Lehrbetrieb Oerlikon Bührle und später bei der PR-Ausbildung erlebte.

Auszug aus der noch unveröffentlichten Autobiografie «DAS PENDEL SCHLÄGT ZURÜCK POLITISCHE & ÖKOLOGISCHE METAMORPHOSEN» des Zürcher Fotojournalisten Gerd Michael Müller

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