Schlagwort-Archive: Nelson Mandela

Südafrika 94: IKRK-Einsätze im «ANC-IFP» Bürgerkrieg

AUSZUG AUS DEM BUCH «DAS PENDEL SCHLÄGT ZURÜCK POLITISCHE & ÖKOLOGISCHE METAMORPHOSEN» DES ZÜRCHER FOTO-JOURNALISTEN GERD MICHAEL MÜLLER

Der HIV-Waisenkinderchor von Oa Hera bei Maltahöhe im Süden Namibias

VORWORT

Das Buch des Zürcher Foto-Journalisten Gerd Michael Müller nimmt Sie ab den wilden 80er Jahren mit auf eine spannende Zeitreise durch 30 Länder und 40 Jahre Zeitgeschichte mit Fokus auf politische Skandale und ökologische Vorgänge in Krisenregionen rund um den Globus. Er beleuchtet das Schicksal indigener Völker, zeigt die Zerstörung ihres Lebensraumes auf, rückt ökologische Aspekte und menschliche Schicksale in den Vordergrund, analysiert scharfsichtig und gut informiert die politischen Transformationsprozesse. Müller prangert den masslosen Kon-sum und die gnadenlose Ausbeutung der Ressourcen an, zeigt die fatalen Auswirkungen wirtschaftlicher Ausbeutung, gesellschaftlicher Fahr-lässigkeit und politische Ignoranz auf und skizziert Ansätze zur Bewältigung des Klimawandels. Pointiert, hintergründig und erhellend erzählt Müller anhand seiner persönlichen Erlebnissen aus seiner investigativen Reise und Reportagetätigkeit für namhafte Medien rund 30 Länder. Ein Mix aus spannenden Polit-Thrillern, tieferen Einsichten und tollen Bekanntschaften und Begegnungen mit berühmten Persönlichkeiten. Eine nicht alltägliche Reiseliteratur, gespickt mit sozialkritischen und abenteuerlichen Geschichten sowie persönlichen Essays – den Highlights und der Essenz seines abenteuerlich wilden Nomaden-Lebens für die Reportage-Fotografie eben. Nach der Lektüre dieses Buchs zählen Sie zu den kulturell als auch ökologisch und politisch versierten GlobetrotterInnen.

IKRK-Einsätze im «ANC-IFP» Bürgerkrieg

Das IKRK protokolliert die Geschehnisse und die Toten und Verwundeten oder Verschwundenen © GMC

Nach dem das Apartheid-Regime durch den UNO-Boykott und den südafrikanischen Widerstand zusammenbrach, kam es zu einem erbittertem Machtkampf zwischen dem «ANC» (African National Congress) und Buthelezi`s «IFP» (Inkhata Freedom Party). Der Bürgerkrieg forderte X-tausend Opfer und machte Zehntausende zu Flücht-ingen. Eine weitere Tragödie, denn zuvor hatte das weisse Regime im Zuge der Rassentrennung Hundertausende von schwarzen Menschen wie Vieh zwangsumgesiedelt. Nun gab es wieder eine Welle von Vertriebenen im Land und Grabenkämpfe unter den Schwarzen. Es war eine erklärte Strategie, der abtretenden, beziehungsweise gefähr-deten Machthabern, mit allen Mittel Zwietracht unter den Schwarzen zu säen und so hat das Botha-Regime Buthelzi als Gegenkandidat zu Mandela aufzustellen. Alle Mittel der Destabilisierung wurden angewandt und die Saat ging auf. Der darauf folgende Bürgerkrieg war fürchterlich.

Südafrika: Red Cross ICRC Ambulances
South Africa: Red Cross / ICRC Ambulances in Zamokhule, one of the riot hot spots at this time. © GMC

Im Südafrika der Nach-Apartheid beschäftigten die Menschen vor allem eins: die ständig wachsende Gewalt-Kriminalität. Hatte die Polizei früher in erster Linie die Verfolgung politischer Gegner zum Ziel, fochten die Sicherheitskräfte und Politiker nun einen fast aussichtslosen Kampf gegen die Brutalität der Kriminalität aus. Der «Taxi-/Minibus-Krieg» in Durban forderte seit Jahren zahlreiche unschuldige Menschenleben. In Kapstadt tobte ein Bandenkrieg unter 80000 Jugendlichen, auch Johannesburg wurde Schauplatz zahlreicher Verbrechen. Als Tourist oder Geschäftsreisender spürte man die «Atmosphäre der Angst» intensiv. Die Polizeikräfte operierten wie paramilitärische Organisationen und hatten einen üblen Ruf, in den jeweiligen Städten.

Die Arbeitslosigkeit betrug fast 40 Prozent und liess so die weit verbreitete Armut und die Kriminalität in die Höhe schnellen, begünstigt durch die Ohnmacht und Korruption des mit sich selbst beschäftigten Justiz- und Polizei-apparates, der im Zuge des radikalen Umbaus gelähmt war. Täglich wurden in Südafrika über 60 Menschen, also jährlich insge-samt gegen 20‘000 Personen umgebracht. Südafrikas Gefängnisse platzten aus allen Nähten. Strafuntersuchungen bleiben jahrelang unbearbeitet liegen. Auch Jugendliche unter 14 Jahren waren vielfach lange Zeit inhaftiert.

Südafrika: Poolsmoor Jail 805
Mit einer UN-Sonderkommission auf Inspektion im Poolsmoor Jail in Kapstadt. © GMC

Ende 1993begleitete ich einen Freund von mir, Daniel S., der als IKRK-/Rotkreuz Südafrika-Delegierter in Johannesburg stationiert war, auf seiner Reise in die Flüchtlingslager, um die dortige Lage zu sondieren, den Opfern zu helfen und die Friedensbemühungen zur Stabilisierung des Landes im Hinblick auf eine demokratische Verfassung und Regierung der «Regenbogen-Nation» zu unterstützen. Wir fuhren zu den damaligen Hotspots «Margate» und «Ladysmith», «Ezakhweni» und «Emphangeni», «Mfung» und «Obizo» sowie «Empendle» protokollierten die abgebrannen Häuser und die Toten, führten Gespräche mit Hinterbliebenen und versuchten zwischen den Konfliktparteien zu vermitteln.

Eine schwierige, wenn nicht fast aussichtslose Aufgabe. 1994 kam es zu einem weiteren interessanten Treffen, mit Miss South Africa Basetsana Kumalo und an ihrer Seite Kwezi Hani, die junge Tochter von Chris Hani, der gerade ermordet worden war. Chris Hani war Generalsekretär der South African Communist Party (SACP), ein hochrangiges Mitglied des «ANC» sowie Stabschef von dessen be-waffnetem Arm «Umkhonto we Sizwe» (MK).

Als sich in den frühen 1990er Jahren das Ende der Apartheid abzeichnete, war er im «ANC» nach Nelson Mandela eine der beliebtesten Führungsfiguren. Hani wurde im April 1993 von dem polnischen Einwanderer Janusz Waluś ermordet. Dahinter stand ein Komplott, dessen Drahtzieher der ehemalige Parlamentsabgeordnete Clive Derby-Lewis von der Konserwatiewe Party war. Ziel war es, den Verhandlungs-prozess, der zur Beendigung der Apartheid führen sollte, zu zerstören.

Ein teuflischer Plan, der aufging. Das Treffen mit Basetsane fand in einem Spielcasino statt und wurde offensichtlich beobachtet. Es war ja auch eine brandheisse Zeit und die Bespitzelung politischer Akteure und deren Familien und Umfeld eine wohlbekannte Tatsache. Und so wurde auch ich zur Observationszielscheibe. Erst versuchte ein Schwarzer und später zwei Weisse Herren mich unauffällig diskret aber mit Nachdruck auszufragen. Und eine weitere illustre Person versuchte mich dann sogar in Gabarone, also in Botswana zu kontaktieren und in Südafrikas interne Machtkämpfe zu involvieren. Ich lehnte alle Annäherungs-versuche ab und kam so ungeschoren aus den Wirren der politischen Machtkämpfe davon.

Nelson Mandela im Dolder Hotel Zürich bei seinem ersten Staaatsbesuch. © GMC

Im Februar 1996 begann die von Mandela eingesetzte Wahrheits- und Versöhnungskommission (TRC) unter Leitung des Friedensnobelpreisträgers Desmond Tutu. mit der Aufarbeitung der Verbrechen zur Zeit der Apartheid. Die wurde vor allem zur Abrechnung und Demon-tage von Winnie Mandela genutzt, die in diesen Jahren nach Madibas Freilassung viel mehr gelitten hatte und härter kämpfen musste, als ihr Mann. Es war die damalige ANC-Spitze, die beschloss Winnie müsse sich von Nelson trennen um ihm die Wahl zum Präsidenten zu sichern. Winnies Stern stand immer unter dem Nelsons, aber sie war die eigentliche Powerfrau, die während seiner Haftzeit Mandelas Augen und Ohren waren und sie war es, die die Massen mobilisierte.

Einigen Gruppen gingen die in Mandelas Amtszeit erreichten sozialen Verbesserungen auch in Bezug auf die AIDS-Krise, nicht weit genug. Kritiker bemängelten ebenso, dass die Verbrechen des Apartheid-Regimes nicht strafrechtlich genug gesühnt wurden. Kinder unter sechs Jahren, schwangere und stillende Mütter erhielten zum ersten Mal eine kosten-lose Gesundheitsfürsorge; 1996 wurde die Gesundheitsfürsorge für alle Südafrikaner kostenfrei. Mit dem «Land Restitution Act» (1994) und dem «Land Reform Act 3» (1996) wurden Schritte zu einer Landreform unternommen. Während seiner Amtszeit wurden zahlreiche Gesetze der Apartheid-Zeit widerrufen, Armee und Polizei wurden neu aufgestellt.

Das Besuchszimmer sieht recht ordentlich aus. Doch das Gefängnis ist völlig überbelegt. © GMC

Im Rahmen meines humanitären Engagements in Südafrika konnte ich dank dem Zulu-Heiler Credo Vusama Mutwa 1997 auch das Pollsmoor-Gefängnis in Kapstadt (in dem Nelson Mandela die letzten Jahre seiner Haft verbrachte) mit einem kanadischen UN-Gesundheitsinspektorenteam besuchen. In dem für 3‘000 Häftlinge konzipierten Gefängnis waren rund 7‘000 Häftlinge inhaftiert. Fast 30% der Insassen waren damals HIV-positiv und viele Häftlinge wurden jahrelang ohne Anklage festgehalten, etliche verstarben. Es waren schockierende Zustände, die wir da antrafen. Ein Esslöffel als Kostprobe in der Gefängnisküche reichte aus, dass ich hernach Staphy-lokokken und Streptokokken hatte. Pädagogisch befremdend war auch, dass es im Kinderspielzimmer einzig eine Plastik-Schusswaffe als Spielzeug gab. So züchtet man von Kindesbeinen an eine neue nachwachsende Generation von Armut getriebener Krimineller heran.

Vusama Credo Mutwa, der zweithöchste Zulu-Sangoma ist ein sehr weiser und gütiger Mann

Den Zulu-Sangoma, Bantu-Schriftsteller & Historiker Credo Vusama Mutwa lernte ich im «Shamwari Game Reserve» kennen zusammen mit Dr. Jan Player, dem Rhinozeros-Retter und «Wilderness-Leadership-School»-Gründer. Die ganze Nacht über erzählte mir der gebildete Mensch die spirituellen Geheimnisse und ethnischen Zusammenhänge sowie kulturellen Eigenschaften und Besonderheiten der Bantu-Völker von Nord- bis Südafrika. Auch war er der erste, der den Klimawandel erkannte und mir erklärte, was es für die Völker und Regionen bedeutet, wenn der eine oder andere Käfer, diverse Insekten, die Schildkröten oder andere Wildtierarten und Meeressäuger aussterben und das zu Dürren und Plagen führe. In prophetischer Weitsicht hat Credo die Konflikte erkannt die daraus entstehen würden sowie es auch bei Staudamm-Projekten immer wieder zu Konflikten kommt, weil das ja die Lebensgrundlage vieler Menschen in mehreren Ländern verändert. Auch die Plagen wie wir sie in den letzten 20 Jahren erleben, hat er voraus gesagt. Und das gute 10 Jahre vor dem erste «IPPC»-Klimabericht.

Nur war ich gerade mit meiner Tochter und ihrer Mutter unterwegs und hatte noch Termine und Treffen bezüglich Wildlife- und Ökoprojekte und konnte nicht hier bleiben, um Credo beim «Kaya Lendaba» zu helfen. Ich war hin und her gerissen. Der Zulu-Heiler wollte die Wunden der Regenbogennation heilen und beim «Shamwari Game Reserve» ein multikulturelles Dorf bauen, in dem alle südafrikanischen Ethnien vertreten sein würden. Es sollte als Leuchtpfahl für die Wiedervereinigung Südafrikas dienen und helfen, die Konflikte zu beenden.

Das Dorf Kaya Lendaba sollte die Stämme der Regenbogennation zusammenführen. © GMC

Gerne hätte ich die Ausbildung zu einem «Sangoma», also einem Heiler gemacht, da Credo mir die Qualifikationen und die geistig-spirituelle Weltsicht zutraute. Dies erfüllte mich mit Stolz und wäre wohl eine wegweisende Weiche in meinem Leben gewesen, denn ursprünglich wollte ich auch mal als Game Ranger in einem dieser neu entstehenden Wildlife-Reservate arbeiten. Ich konnte mir nichts Schöneres vor stellen, als Wildlife-Manager in einem intakten und geschützten oder schützenswerten Umfeld zu arbeiten. Daher reiste ich immer wieder nach Botswana, Südafrika und Namibia, um mir einen Teil dieses Traums zu erfüllen und es war immer ein grossartiges Gefühl im Busch und in der Wildnis unterwegs zu sein.

Nach den Freveln des Apartheidregimes kam eine neue schwarze Elite, die sich an Südafrika ebenso schamlos bereicherten, wie ihre weissen Vorgänger. Hier zwei Beispiele:

Headerbild Südafrika Township Soweto 499
Township Soweto © GMC

2011: Gadaffis Milliarden in den Händen Zumas untergetaucht

2017: Gupta-Leaks: Wie indische Kleptokraten dank Zuma Südafrika plünderten

Weitere Berichte über Südafrika, die Sie interessieren könnten:

Apartheid: Das rabenschwarze Kapitel der Schweiz

Aufarbeitung eines düsteren Kapitels der Schweiz in Südafrika

Makabere Waffengeschäfte und Atomdeals gedeckt vom Schweizer Politfilz

E-Book Neuerscheinungen: «DAS PENDEL SCHLÄGT ZURÜCK – POLITISCHE & ÖKOLOGISCHE METAMORPHOSEN»

Das Buch des Zürcher Fotojournalisten ist nun als E-Book Reader Version für Euro 9.90 erhältlich. Dazu gab es eine der längsten Buchvernissagen der jüngeren Geschichte mittels einer Freiluft-Fotoausstellung auf über 100 Metern im Zürcher Kreis 4.

Zudem stehen zwei hochkarätige Events an: Zunächst die Werkschau im GZ Riesbach in Zürich, Kreis 8 vom 29. August 2022 bis zum 14. November 2022.

Danach das Neujahr-Konzert am 12. Januar 2023´ im zürcher GZ Heuried mit den Weltklasse Guitarren-Virtuosen aus Baden, Toni Donadio und NIc NIedermann, von Tonic Strings die diesjährigen Vizeweltmeiser im Gypsy-Soul, Blues und Jazz Genre.

Über den Autor & Pressefotografen

Müller ging 1986 in Südafrika in den Untergrund um sich ein Bild über die Apartheid zu machen. Später traf er Nelson Mandela und den Dalai Lama beide zwei Mal, 1987 sass er neben dem polnischen General Wojciech Jaruselski, (der den russen die Stirn bot) 1986 in einem für die polnische politische Elite vorbehaltenen Restaurant, 2006 traf er den russischen Aussenminister Schewardnadse in der damals führenden österreichischen Schlafklinik Lanzerhof, im Jahr 2000 Margaret Thatcher als demente Person im Coiffeur-Salon des Mount Nelson Hotels in Kapstadt. 2014 traf er den iranischen Aussenminister Mohammed Shawar Sarif , in der iranischen Botschaft in Bern zum 35.  Jährigen Jubiläum der Revolutionsgarden, Wladimir Putin begegnete er im deutschen Bundestag und den chinesischen Staatschef Wen Jibao sah er am WEF.

Zuden wurde Müller auf das Kriegsschiff USS John Rodgers vor der Küste Grenadas zum Pressefrühstück eingeladen, nachdem er der Feier zum 9. Jahrestag der US-Invasion beigewohnt war. Auch sonst hat der Fotoreporter etliche krasse Dinge erlebt, wie zwei Militärverhöre von zwei verfeindeten Staaten, deren Grenze er da und dort überschritten hatte (Senegal & Guinea-Bisseau) an einem Tag. Im Libanon gestaltete sich schon das Überschreiten gewisser Stadtgrenzen als sehr abenteuerlich bis zuweilen tödlich. Während Müllers stationärem Einsatz im Sinai gab es zwei der drei Terroranschläge. Auch die IKRK-Missionen während dem Bürgerkrieg in Südafrika (ANC-IFP-Konflikt) und später in Kenya nach den Unruhen im Rift Valley, waren prägende Eindrücke und Erlebnisse, die sich alle in seinem Buch wiederspiegeln.

Bevor Müller sich 1992 als Fotojournalist selbstständig machte und die Presse- und Bildagentur «GMC Photopress» aufbaute, war er nach der Lehre bei «Oerlikon Bührle» erst im int. Exportgeschäft tätig, wechselte dann in die Werbewirtschaft zum «Media Daten Verlag» («Werbewoche») und war Anzeigenleiter der «NZZ» und des damaligen englisch sprachigen Magazins «The Swiss Review of World Affairs».

Dann produzierte er die Wälzer «Portraits der Schweizer Werbewirtschaft» beim «Bertschi Verlag und arbeite hernach beim «Radio Tropic» als Moderator und Produzent sowie beim Aargauer «Lokalradio Kanal K, wo er die vier Parteipräsidenten anlässlich der Burka-Initiative und Verschärfung des Asylrechts ins Studio einlud und die heisse politische Debatte souve-rän moderierte.

Ab 1986/87 war Müller als Resident Manager für Imholz Reisen erst im Senegal, dann in Polen und schliesslich in London für jeweils drei Monate stationiert. Später war er für Direkt Reisen in Brasilien (Fortaleza) stationiert und kehrte nach kurzer Zeit nochmals privat nach Brasilien zurück um eine 6000 KM lange Fahrt durch vier Bundesstaaten bis nach Manaus zu machen.

1999 liess er sich für zweieinhalb Jhre in Samedan im Oberengadin nieder und gründete das Tourismus & Umwelt Forum Schweiz, dessen Präsident und Geschäftsführer er dann war. So organisierte er eine Rail-Expo mit der Rhätishen Bahn an sechs Bahnhöfen im Kanton Graubünden.

Links:

E-Book
Version
  /   Manuskript   /   Leseproben 

Konzert und Foto-Expo GZ Heuried (12.1.2023)

 Printmedien   /   Autorportrait   /   Facebook

Freiluft-Fotoexpo   /   Bildershop   /   Shutterstock-Portfolio

PRESSE PORTFOLIO (Medien für die Müller gearbeitet hat)

Annabelle, animan, Aargauer Zeitung, Airport-Magazin, Badener Tagblatt, Der Bund, Berner Zeitung, Bündner Zeitung, Excellence International, globo, Glückspost, Der Landbote, facts, Luzerner Zeitung, Luzerner Neuste Zeitung, Mittelland-Zeitung, Modeblatt, Relax & Style, On Business, Solothurner Nachrichten, Die Südostschweiz, Sonntags-Blick, Sonntags-Zeitung, Weltwoche, Welt am Sonntag, Wellness live, World of Wellness Schaffhauser Nachrichten, Tages-Anzeiger, Tourbillon, Touring Magazin, WOZ.

FOTOAUSSTELLUNGEN

2023: GZ Heuried, Zürich (11.1. bis 8.2.2023) mit KOnzert von Tonic Strings

2022: GZ Riesbach, Zürich Seefeld  (29.9. bis 14.11.2022)

2022: Freiluft-Ausstellung Ecke Kanzleistrasse/Urselweg

2021: FreiluftFotoausstellung in Zürich im Kreis 4

2017: Werkschau und Konzert in Kirchdorf (AG)

1999: Klima-Fotoausstellungen im Bahnhof von St. Moritz, Pontresina, Davos, Samedan, Pontresina in drei Güterzügen der Rhb

1994: Fotoausstellung an der Berner Ferienmesse

1993: Karibik-Fotoausstellung im Hotel International in Zürich-Oerlikon

Leseproben und Kapitelauszüge aus dem Buch

Auszug aus dem Buch von Gerd M. Müller. Das ganze Manuskript ist als E-Book Version verfügbar und die Leseproben finden Sie hier.

Vorwort

Das Buch des Zürcher Foto-Journalisten Gerd Michael Müller nimmt Sie ab den wilden 80er Jahren mit auf eine spannende Zeitreise durch 30 Länder und 40 Jahre Zeitgeschichte mit Fokus auf politische Skandale und ökologische Vorgänge in Krisenregionen rund um den Globus. Er beleuchtet das Schicksal indigener Völker, zeigt die Zerstörung ihres Lebensraumes auf, rückt ökologische Aspekte und menschenliche Schicksale in den Vordergrund, analysiert scharfsichtig und gut informiert die politischen Transforma-tionsprozesse. Müller prangert den masslosen Konsum und die gnadenlose Ausbeutung der Ressourcen an, zeigt die fatalen Auswirkungen wirtschaftlicher Ausbeutung, gesellschaftlicher Fahrlässigkeit und poli-tische Ignoranz auf und skizziert Ansätze zur Bewältigung des Klimawandels. Pointiert, hintergründig und erhellend erzählt Müller anhand seiner persönlichen Erlebnissen aus seiner investigativen Reise und Reportagetätigkeit für nahmhafte Medien rund 30 Länder.

Die Jugendunruhen und Politskandale in den 80er Jahren

Police forces are checking a group of young people while a demonstration is going on in Zürich City. © GMC

Die Reise rund um den Globus zu verschiedenen Konfliktherden und kulturellen Highlights beginnt in meiner Heimatstadt Zürich. 1980 war das Jahr, das die biedere Gesellschaft in der Schweiz aufrütteln und im Laufe der 80er-Jahre umpflügen sollte, denn es rollte ein Tsunami auf das konservative Bürgertum und die politische Klasse zu. Im Mai desselben Jahres begannen die «Opernhauskrawalle» als Auftakt zu den nachfolgenden «Zürcher Jugendunruhen». Auslöser dafür war die latente Unzufriedenheit der Jugend mit den wenigen ihnen 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 Ju-gendkulturzentrum der Stadt Zürich. 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 eben-so 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, dann die Punkszene in London aufkam, schwappten die Ausläufer auch auf die Schweiz über. Bald entwickelten sich in lokale Szenen, allen voran in Zürich. Es war auch 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 Partys ohne Ende gefeiert, doch immer mehr harte Drogen, wie Heroin, Kokain und Amphetamine kamen dazu. …

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. Die 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 Gummi-geschossen 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 Strassenschlachten im Lauf dieses Jahres, in der sich die «Bewegig» der Autonomen jeweils Mittwoch’s in den Volksversammlungen (VV’s) im Volks-haus 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!“

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

Am Zürichsee-Ufer wurde weit verbreitet oben ohne gebadet und die Frauen genossen die Freiheit und die Freuden der neuen 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 Ein-schränkung 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 ge-setzlich noch nicht einmal zusammen leben durften. So prüde war Zürich und die ganze Schweiz damals. Umso erstaunlicher war 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».

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Im Strudel Schweizer Politskandale

Police observation a demonstration in Zürich City from Urania bridge down to the street. © GMC

Im Jahre 1990 war ans Licht gekommen, dass sowohl die Bundesbehörden, als auch die kantonalen Polizeikorps 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 Aufflammen des Antikommunismus wurden vor allem linksstehende Politiker und Gewerkschafts-Mitglieder 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 auch „Alternative“, Anti-AKW-Aktivisten, „Grüne“, Friedens- und Drittwelt-Aktivisten, als potentiell gefährlich einzustufen seien, denn sie könnten kommunistisch un-terwandert, 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 Spitzelidentitäten verdecken und schützen sollte, als Staatsgeheimnisse, staatsfeindliche Aktivitäten oder einen «Landes-verrat» 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 Bekannt-machung 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.

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Die Schweiz als Apartheid-Gehilfe der Buren

FA-18 der Schweizer Luftwaffe begleiten eine Passagiermaschine über die Walliser Alpen. © GMC

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. 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. Zu den Gründungsmitglie-dern zählte auch die Schweiz. Initiator des «Berner Clubs» war der italienische Geheimdienstchef Umberto Federico d’Amato. Ziel war es damals, ein gemeinsames Chiffrier-System aufzubauen, das auch gute 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 Briga-den» in Italien. Nach den Terroranschlägen vom 11.September hat der «Club» eine verstärkte Bedeutung als Gremium der politischen Konsultation zwischen Geheim- und Staatsschutzdiensten erhalten.

2001 initiierte der «Club» die «Counter Terrorism Group» (CTG). Diese soll angeblich seit 2016 ein europäisches Geheim-dienstzentrum 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 Hun-ko den «Berner Club» und dessen informellen Zusammenschluss «CTG» als „kaum kontrollierbar. Er kritisierte auch die zunehmende Vergeheimdienstlichung der Polizeiarbeit. In Deutschland kam es 2018 anlässlich der Kontroverse um die Äus-serungen von Verfassungsschutzpräsident Hans-Georg Maassen zu Ausschreitungen in Chemnitz. Seine Rede vor dem «Berner Club» am 18. Oktober 2018 hatte seine Versetzung in den einstweiligen Ruhestand zur Folge.

Durch die Teilnahme am «Club de Berne» erhielt Regli Informationen der «CIA» und vom «Mossad». 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 Per-sonen 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.

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 ab-zuschalten (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 verab-schieden wollten und mit den Palästinänsern. 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.

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Von einer Guardia Civil Spezialeinheit überfallen

Lassen sie mich an dieser Stelle kurz das Lanzarote-Abenteuer mit einem Einsatz der Guardi Civil Anti-Terror Sondereinheit auf unserem Boot erzählen. Wir, eine handvoll Leute, lebten Ende der 70er Jahre in Playa Blanca auf der Kanarischen Insel Lanzarote an Bord eines Segelschiffes, das einem Schweizer gehörte, der in den USA lebte und erst vor wenigen Tagen hier eingetroffen war. Ein französischer Skipper, ein marokkanischer Bootsjunge, ein Brite und der amerikanische Freund des Schweizer Bootseigners hatten das Boot von Frankreich hierher gebracht. Dann kam es zum Streit zwischen dem Bootseigner und dem Skipper am Abend zuvor über das Honorar der Yachtüberführung von Südfrankreich bis hier hin und die längere Wartezeit in Playa Blanca. Der Streit eskalierte, erst wollte der Franzose das Boot versenken, was die Crew zum Glück ver-hindern konnte, dann zischte der Franzose wutentbrannt ab und wir dachten schon „das wars“.

Doch der „fiese Kerl“ rächte sich an uns, in dem er der Guardia Civil einen anonymen Anruf vom Flughafen Arecife vor seiner Abreise gab und ihnen mitteilte, wir hätten Waffen und Drogen an Bord. Sodann wurden wir am Morgen nach der Abreise des Skippers um 05.30 Uhr aus dem Tiefschlaf gerissen, weil plötzlich eine Herde Elefanten auf das Boot stampfte, dann waren militärische Befehle zu hören und als ich als erster meinen Kopf aus der Lucke rausstreckte, schaute ich in vier Maschinenpistolen rein, keinen halben Meter vor meiner Nasenspitze. Da gefror jegliche Bewegung und Erregung sofort ein. Ich erstarrte und durfte dann aussteigen, danach auch all meine Bootsfreunde. Ein halbes Dutzend schwerbewaffneter Elitesoldaten der Guardia Civil standen um uns herum. Nach sechs Stunden war die Durchsuchung des Segelbootes ergebnislos abgeschlossen und unsere Qual ausgestanden. Die Sondereinheit zog wieder ab. Wir waren erleichtert, doch der Tag war noch nicht zu Ende und hielt noch eine Überraschung für uns bereit.  …

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

Die Desertifizierung schreitet im Sengegal fort und führt zu Verlust von Acker und Weideland. © GMC

Der Senegal ist eine Welt der Geister, Hexen, Heiler und Wahrsager. Alles ist sehr mystisch angehaucht. Es werden Flüche ausgesprochen und Leute verhext und irgendwie fürchtet sich jeder davor. Daher tragen auch alle einen Boubou, einen Glücksbringer, der sie schützen soll. Auch der Kleiderkult ist legendär. Die schönsten, sehr farbenprächtigen Kleider und Kostüme werden in Dakar feilgeboten. Die bunt bemalten Pirogen, die Einbaumboote reihen sich am Strand im Getümmel der Fischer und Händler auf. Als Transportmittel gibt es Minibusse, die in alle Richtungen fahren und überall anhalten, wo ein Fahrgast ein- oder aussteigen möchte.

Dakar ist eine äusserst pulsierende Metropole. Tag und nachts, denn erst ab den Abendstunden ist die Temperatur angenehm, derweil sie über Mittag bis auf 40 Grad ansteigt. 1986 wurde ich als Stations- und Reiseleiter erst drei Monate im Senegal, dann in Warschau in Polen (also im damaligen Ostblock) und zuletzt in London für weitere drei Monate eingesetzt. Beim ersten Resident Manager Einsatz im Senegal war Flaute angesagt (sowie in Covid-Zeiten), denn damals war «AIDS» gerade erst auf dem Radar aufgetaucht und noch rätselte die Medizin darüber, woher das Virus kam und wie es übertragen wird. Daher war nicht viel los im «Club Aldiana» nahe M’Bour, hier an der Küste rund vier Stunden Autofahrt südlich von Dakar. Durch die «AIDS»-Krise, die den Afrika-Tourismus drastisch reduzierte, hatte ich Zeit für eine kurze Reise in den Süden Senegals in die Casamance und durchquerte dabei auch Gambia. In einem kleinen Kaff mietete ich einen Bungalow und lief mit meiner Kamera in der Wildnis nahe der Grenze rum und wurde unvermittelt im Gestrüpp von einer Soldatentruppe des Militärs von Guinea-Bissau angehalten und stundenlang verhört. Da der Kommandant nur portugiesisch sprach, dauerte es eine Weile, bis ich erfuhr, dass es einen Konflikt wegen des Öl-Vorkommens im Grenz-gebiet zwischen den beiden Ländern gäbe und ich erinnerte mich an einen TV-Beitrag vor wenigen Tagen, dass sich exakt zu diesem Zeitpunkt die Streitparteien in Genf zu Verhandlungen trafen. Dies war mein Rettungsanker und Trumpf, als Schweizer in dieser prekären Situation. So versuchte ich dem Kommandanten klar zu machen, dass es nicht ratsam wäre, wenn sie mich gefangen nähmen und damit die Verhandlungen in Genf gefährdeten. Das verstand er und liess mich dank einer verhältnismässig grosszügigen Geldspende unbeschadet von Dannen ziehen. Erleichtert lief ich in die Casamance, also in den Senegal zurück.

Dort angekommen, hatte ich kein Bargeld mehr, um die Miete für die Lodge zu zahlen. Dazu musste ich erst eine Tagesreise entfernt nach Zuiginchor reisen, um den Reisecheck zu wechseln. Also erzählte ich dem Hotelier vom Grenzerlebnis und meiner Spende, bei der die Miete drauf ging und lief dann erschöpft zum Bungalow, um erst einmal schlafen zu gehen. Doch es dauerte nicht lange, dann fuhren zwei Militärjeeps vor meiner Hütte vor und acht waffenstarrende, senegalesische Soldaten, stiegen aus. Sie hätten Befehl, mich zum Militärgouverneur zu eskortieren“, sagten sie zu mir. „Was ist denn jetzt schon wieder los?“, dachte ich und versuchte den Adrenalinschub zu bremsen. Eine halbe Stunde später sass ich vor dem Militärkommandanten, der mich über den Grenzvorfall ausfragte. Er habe vom Vermieter davon Kenntnis erhalten und möchte mehr dazu wissen. „Scheisse“, dachte ich mir, heute ist aber ein anstrengender Tag, geht nun die Kriegs-Diplomatie wieder von vorne los? Jetzt gilt es, möglichst alles runter zu spielen und so wenig wie möglich zu sagen, dachte ich mir. Das übte ich dann gute vier Stunden lang mit dem senegalesischen Kommandanten, worauf ich fix und fertig war. An einem Tag zwei Militär-verhöre bei verfeindeten Staaten, das war schon eine Härteprobe spezieller Güte.

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Warschau 86: In Pole-Position hinter dem Eisernen Vorhang

Vom Einsatz im Senegal ging es nach nur einem Tag Aufenthalt in Zürich gleich nach Polen weiter. Bei meiner Ankunft in Warschau, wo 14 Tagen zuvor ein Verkehrsflugzeug der «LOT» abgestürzt war und dabei rund 140 Menschen starben, kon-nte ich mit einem älteren Mann sprechen, der Englisch verstand und mir bei den Zoll- und Einreiseformalitäten für die 70 Fluggäste aus dem Westen behilflich war. Als ich mich bei ihm für seine Hilfe bedankte und nach seinem Namen fragte, ant-wortete er: „Mein Name ist Henry Zwirko. Wie bitte, entfuhr es mir, dies war doch der Name, der auf dem besagten Zettel stand, den mir der letzte Gast im Senegal überreicht hatte. Das konnte doch kein Zufall sein, dachte ich intuitiv, war aber mit den Pässen und Einreisepapieren beschäftigt, was sich noch stundenlang hinziehen könnte, da ich ja Neuling hier hinter dem «Eisernen Vorhang» in Warschau angekommen war. Doch das Prozedere wurde durch den Mann der sich als eben dieser Henry Zwirko vorgestellt hatte, mit wenigen sanften, aber entschiedenen Worten an den Grenzbeamten, erheblich abgekürzt und wir konnten alle rasch ungehindert die Grenzkontrolle passieren.

„OK“, dachte ich mir, der Mann ist in der Tat vielversprechend. Kein Wunder reicht sein Einfluss weit, schliesslich ist er ja polnischer Kabinetts-Minister und sein Vater ein Kriegsheld des 2. Weltkrieges. Soviel wusste ich schon über ihn. Aber dass ich diesen besonderen Mann gleich bei meiner Ankunft in Warschau treffen würde, war schon sehr unheimlich. Später bestätigte sich meine Vermutung, dass der VR-Präsident dem Treffen ein nachgeholfen und mir damit das Tor zu einer aussergewöhnlich verschlossenen Welt eröffnet hat, um die mich viele Geheimdienstler zu dieser Zeit inklusive unsere Spionageabwehr sicher beneidet hätten.

Keine zwei Wochen nach meiner Ankunft in Warschau und einer ersten Rundreise in Polen nach Krakau und Zakopane, trafen die Leichenspezialisten und Forensiker aus dem Ausland ein, um den Flugzeugabsturz vor drei Wochen zu untersuchen. Daraufhin wurde unsere ganze Reisegruppe (stets so um die 50 bis 70 Personen) von einer Stunde auf die andere aus dem einzigen Mittelklassehotel, dem «Forum» in Warschau, rausgeschmissen. Fortan mussten wir für die nächsten 14 Tagen mit lausigen, heruntergekommenen Hotels auskommen und manchmal zu Dritt ein Hotelzimmer oder zu zweit ein Doppelbett teilen. Dann hatte ich genug von dem Desaster und liess die lokalen Gäste mit dem bündelweise verfügbaren Dollarschmiermittel aus den Hotels rausschmeissen, in dem ich das Doppelte oder Dreifache des Zimmerpreises auf den Tisch legte und mietete mir die Luxussuite im Fünfsterne-Hotel. Daraufhin ging die Post ab.

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«London 87: Die ersten Kontakte zu «ANC»-Exilanten»

1979 kommt es zum Massaker in Soweto, als am 16. Juni 15‘000 Schüler dagegen protestierten, fortan in Africaans unter-richtet zu werden. 575 Menschen starben bei dem Aufstand, der sich über Monate hinzog. Die Schweizer Banken ver-doppelten ihr Kreditvolumen. 1980 erklärt der reformierte Weltbund» die Apartheid zur Häresie. Dies liessen die Schweiz und den Schweizer Geheimdienst kalt. Peter Reggli richtet unbeeindruckt von den Sanktionen den Pilotenaustausch mit südafrikanischen Kampfpiloten in die Wege, der Bundesrat wurde darüber aber erst 1986 orientiert. Die Summe der Kredit-vergaben der Schweizer Banken an das Apartheid-Regime vervierfachte sich. Jahr um Jahr um 100 Prozent. Infolge der internationalen Ächtung des Apartheid Regimes profitierte die Schweiz von der Menschen verachtenden, rassistischen Politik der Weissen am Kap. Die «ILO» forderte die Weltkonzerne auf, sich aus Südafrika zurückzuziehen und kritisierte die «SBG» namentlich als Sanktionsbrecherin. Nichts desto trotz erhält das südafrikanische Regime 1985 von Schweizer Banken weitere 75 Millionen Franken an Krediten zur freien Verfügung. 1986 wird der Ausnahmezustand über das hochverschuldete Land verhängt und über 10‘000 Menschen wurden verhaftet, 1800 von ihnen kamen dabei um. „Der Frieden wurde zur Bedrohung der öffentlichen Sicherheit“, sagt Erzbischoff Desmond Tutu, als das Kirchenblatt, die «New Nation» geschlossen wurde.

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Als 1987 die USA Firmen bestrafen wollte, die sich nicht an die Sanktionen hielten, kam Südafrikas Präsident Peter Botha und sein Aussenminister nach Zürich um sich mit «SBG»-Vizedirektor Georg Meyer und den Vorstand der «Vereinigung Schweiz-Südafrika» zu treffen, wo ihnen an Ort und Stelle ein „Orden der guten Hoffnung“ und weitere 70 Millionen über-geben wurde. Und 1989 kommt Südafrikas Regime dank Robert Jeker auch noch zu einer Verschnaufpause bei der Rück-zahlung der offenen Kredite über acht Milliarden Franken. Dies war die Ausgangslage damals, die mich bewog, in Südafrika für einen Augenschein und weitere Recherchen in den Untergrund zu gehen. Die Beziehungen der Schweiz zu Südafrika waren politisch, militärisch und rüstungsindustriell in den 1980er Jahren am intensivsten, als die Durchsetzung der südafri-kanischen Politik der Rassentrennung (Apartheid) am stärksten und von schweren Menschenrechtsverletzungen sowie offener Gewaltanwendung begleitet war.

Die Schweizer Industrie hat das Waffenembargo, das die Uno über Südafrika ver-hängte, in grossem Stil unterlaufen. Der Austausch nachrichtendienstlicher Informationen trug direkt zur Anbahnung von Rüstungsgeschäften, der Bekämpfung von Apartheidgegnern und zur politischen Propaganda zugunsten der südafrikanischen Regierung bei. Die Schweizer Industrie gehörte zu den Stützen des geheimen südafrikanischen Atomwaffenprogramms. Die «Gebrüder Sulzer AG» und die «VAT Haag» lieferten wichtige Komponenten zur südafrikanischen Urananreicherung, die für die sechs von Südafrika hergestellten Atombomben das notwendige spaltbare Material bereitstellte. Damit war die Schweiz ohne Zweifel in mehrfacher Hinsicht eine Stütze der Apartheidregierung. Wie kam es dazu?

Im Kampf gegen die Apartheid im Untergrund

Hunderttausende wurden vertrieben: Die Umsiedlungspläner des rassistischen Apartheidregimes.

Durch die Jugendunruhen der frühen 80er Jahre politisch sensibilisiert, als AKW-Gegner, Pazifist, und Dienstverweigerer auf der politisch linken Seite angelangt sowie durch die berufliche Tätigkeit während der Lehre bei der «Oerlikon Bührle Waf-fenschmiede für das Geschehen auch in humanitärer Hinsicht auf Südafrika fokussiert, beschloss ich also durch die in Lon-don geknüpften Kontakte zu ANC-Exilanten und die durch die «Anti Apartheid-Bewegung» (AAB) in der Schweiz erhaltenen Verbindungen Ende 1986 nach Johannesburg zu fliegen mit dem Ziel, die angespannte Situation und die menschen-unwürdigen Zustände selbst vor Ort kennenzulernen. Ich kam just zu dem Zeitpunkt in Südafrika an, als die «New Nation», eines der letzten liberalen, kritischen Blätter der katholischen Bischofskonferenz unter Desmond Tutu verboten und geschlossen wurde und führte mit dem soeben entlassenen Chefredaktor Gabu Tugwana ein letztes Interview, das damals in der «WOZ» (Wochenzeitung) erschien und war somit der erste ausländische Journalist, der das Dekret des verhassten Innenministers sah und fotografierte. Das Apartheid-Regime zensurierte oder verbot viele Zeitungen, bis alle möglichen kritischen Stimmen verstummt waren.

Die Ausgaben für die Innere Sicherheit, das heisst für die Aufrechterhaltung des rassistischen Apartheidsystems verschlang über 20 Prozent des Bruttoinlandproduktes. Dann getraute ich mich, mit dem Vororts-Zug von Down town Johannesburg nach Soweto, also in die schwarzen Townships zu fahren, damals eine äusserst gefährliche Sache. In Soweto angekommen, war man als Weisser zu dieser Zeit ziemlich allein und auffällig unterwegs. Zum Glück hatte ich lange Haare und sah weder wie ein Bure noch wie ein Engländer aus, was wohl viele davon abhielt, mich in den Town Ships umzulegen. Da wuchs dann doch eher die Neugier, was ich hier zu suchen hätte und so konnte ich sie dank meinen in London und Zürich geknüpften «ANC»-Kontakten beruhigen, sodass sie mir vertrauten und mich in die Town Ships einführten.

Einige Wochen lebte ich bei einer achtköpfigen Familie in einer kleinen Bretterbude umgeben von zehntausenden weiteren Bretterbuden ohne Licht, Strom oder Wasseranschluss.  Ziel war es, die Lebensbedingungen der Schwarzen und ihren Alltag im Rahmen der rassistischen Gesetze am eigenen Leib zu spüren und mit eigenen Augen zu sondieren. Bald war es mir mög-lich, mich mit meinen schwarzen Freunden in Soweto frei und sicher in der näheren Umgebung zu bewegen. Und so erschrak ich selbst höllisch, wenn ich plötzlich wieder vor einem Panzerfahrzeug der «SADF» (South African Defence Force) stand und Schusswaffen auf mich gerichtet waren und einer der Bewaffneten von oben runter rief; „What are you doing here? Beim ersten Treffen fiel mir nichts Besseres ein, als dieselbe Frage an ihn zu richten, nur noch einen Unterton schärfer. „What the hell are you doing here?“ und zog behutsam meinen Schweizer Pass hervor, was half, die angespannte Situation zu entschärfen und sie liessen mich dann jeweils unbeschadet laufen.

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Mandelas Freilassung und sein Besuch 1993 in der Schweiz

Zürich-City: Nelson Mandela’s speach on his first foreign visit in Switzerland after elected as president and for the nobel prize at the Dolder Hotel in front of the swiss economy-elite. © GMC

Aus dieser ersten Reise entstand eine tiefe Verbindung mit dem Land, dass ich über 20 Mal besuchte und dabei Nelson Mandela zwei Mal traf. Das erste Mal kurz nach seiner Freilassung hier in Soweto, das zweite Mal, als Präsident von Süd-afrika und frisch gekürter Nobelpreisträger im Zürcher «Dolder Hotel» vor der «class politique» und wirtschaftlichen Elite (Nationalbankpräsident und Bankenvertreter), als Mandela über seine Vision eines neuen Südafrikas als „Regenbogen-nation“ sprach. Auch ich war zu diesem historischen Treffen eingeladen und machte ein paar Bilder von Mandela. Als er sich nach seiner Ansprache beim Apéro unter die Menge mischte, hielt ich mich diskret im Hintergrund auf. Doch offensichtlich hatte Mandela ein gutes Gedächtnis und sehr aufmerksame Augen, vielleicht erinnerte er sich sogar, wo und wann in Soweto ich in der Menge der Schwarzen kurz nach seiner Freilassung als einziger Weisser stand. Auf jeden Fall veranlasste ihn das, auf mich zuzutreten und mich darauf anzusprechen, ob wir uns schon mal getroffen hätten. Da war ich erstaunt! Als ich ihm antwortete, „ja in Soweto“, reichte er mir beide Hände. Das war sehr berührend! Daraufhin starrten mich alle anwesenden Banker und Politiker im Raum an und fragten sich, wer wohl der langhaarige Freak hier sei. Das blieb zum Glück ein Geheimnis von mir, Mandela und der südafrikanischen Botschafterin in Bern, Frau Dr. Konji Sebati, bei der ich einst zu Gast in der Botschaft in Bern bei einem hochrangig besetzten Anlass war.

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IKRK-Einsätze im «ANC-IFP» Bürgerkrieg

© GMC

Ende 1993begleitete ich einen Freund von mir, der als IKRK-/Rotkreuz Südafrika-Delegierter in Johannesburg stationiert war, auf seiner Reise in die Flüchtlingslager, um die dortige Lage zu sondieren, den Opfern zu helfen und die Frie-densbemühungen zur Stabilisierung des Landes im Hinblick auf eine demokratische Verfassung und Regierung der «Regen-bogen-Nation» zu unterstützen. Wir fuhren zu den damaligen Hotspots «Margate» und «Ladysmith» und «Empendle» protokollierten die abgebrannen Häuser und die Toten, führten Gespräche mit Hinterbliebenen und versuchten zwischen den Konfliktparteien zu vermitteln. Eine schwierige, wenn nicht fast aussichtslose Aufgabe. 1994 kam es zu einem weiteren interessanten Treffen, mit Miss South Africa Basetsana Kumalo und an ihrer Seite Kwezi Hani, die junge Tochter von Chris Hani, der gerade ermordet worden war. Chris Hani war Generalsekretär der South African Communist Party (SACP), ein hochrangiges Mitglied des «ANC» sowie Stabschef von dessen bewaffnetem Arm «Umkhonto we Sizwe» (MK). Das Treffen mit Hani und Basetsane fand in einem Spielcasino statt und wurde beobachtet. Es war ja auch eine brandheisse Zeit und die Bespitzelung politischer Akteure und deren Familien und Umfeld eine wohlbekannte Tatsache. Und so wurde auch ich zur Observationszielscheibe. Erst versuchte ein Schwarzer und später zwei Weisse Herren mich unauffällig diskret aber mit Nachdruck auszufragen und später versuchte eine weitere illustre Person mich in Gabarone, also in Botswana, in Südafrikas interne Machtkämpfe zu involvieren.

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2011: Gadaffis Milliarden in Zumas und Ramaphos Händen untergetaucht

Aziz Pahad wurde von Mandela 1994 als stellvertretender Aussenminister berufen und war von 1999 – 2008 für die Regierung tätig. Zuvor sammelte er für Mandelas Wahlkampf Spendengelder und erhielt auch von Gadaffi ca. 15. Mio. Der libysche Diktator unterstütze auch Tabo Mbeki. Doch dieser wollte Gadaffis Wunsch „König von Afrika“ zu werden nicht nachkommen und versagte ihm die Unterstützung, was dazu führte, das Gadaffi sich als nächsten Jacob Zuma kaufte und ihm zur Wahl zum südafrikanischen Präsidenten verhalf. Durch die jahrzehntelangen Beziehungen zum «ANC» plante Gadaffi, im Schlimmsten Fall einen Rückzugsort und Stützpunkt im Ausland zu haben von wo aus er die Konterrevolution starten konnte und dazu hatte er ein Teil seinen unvorstellbaren Vermögens von ca. 150 Milliarden Dollar (Forbes) am 26.12.2010 nach Johannesburg fliegen lassen.

Die Maschine landete am 2. Weihnachtstag auf dem verwaisten Militärstützpunkt Waterkloof. Angeblich gab es insgesamt 179 solcher Flüge von Tripolis, die allesamt von Militärpiloten ausgeführt wurden. Die Flugdaten wurden nach jeder Operation. Gelöscht. Der Wert der Fracht, die in ICRC Halbmond beschrifteten Containern mit lybischem Dialekt aus Syrte beschriftet betrug ca. 12,5 Mia. US Dollar. Nebst Bergen von Bargeld auch Tonnen von Gold und Diamanten. Der Serbe George Darmanovitch, ein als Zumas Handlanger bekannter Secret Service Agent fotografierte die Sendung bei der Ankunft in Johannesburg und bestätigte Rechercheuren, dass das Geld mit Last-wagen vom «ANC» abgeholt wurde. Er war offensichtlich ein wenig zu lautselig über den Inhalt und Umfang der Fracht. Jedenfalls wurde Dar-manovitch kurze Zeit später in Belgrad, wo er seine Familie traf, auf offener Strasse erschossen und seine beiden Killer fand man hernach ebenfalls nur noch alsLeichen.

Das war also eine Nummer zu gross für Darmanovitch und seine Mördergewesen. Ab diesem Zeitpunkt verschwanden Gaddafis Milliarden irgendwo in Südafrika und nur wenige wissen, wo sie sind. 2012 kamen die ersten Gerüchte auf, dass beträchtliche Vermögen des toten Diktators in Südafrika sind. Daraufhin kontak-tierte die lybische Übergangsregierung den Tunesier Eric Goaied, der ein enger Freund Gaddafis war. Er sollte in Südafrika nach den verschwundenen Vermögenswerten suchen. Unter anderem auch, weil die neue Regierung eine Armee auf-bauen und dazu über 200 Kampfhelikopter und G5 sowie anderes Kriegsmaterial für gut fünf Milliarden beschaffen musste, aber kein Geld hatte. Als die libysche Regierung, namentlich Taha Buishi den hohen Finderlohn (von 10 Prozent also 1, 25 Mia. Dollar) für die Rückführung der Gaddafi-Vermögen bestätigt hatte, lockte dies ein paar Schatzsucher auf den Plan, die sich diesen Deal nicht entgehen lassen wollten. …

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Gupta Leaks: Südafrika als Beute indischer Klepokraten“

Südafrika: Pollsmore Jail Kapstadt
Südafrika: Hier im Pollsmore Jail in Kapstadt sollten die Plünderer Südafrikas ihren Lebensabend verbringen

Mit Malusi Gigaba fing das Unheil an, als er in die Regierung kam und alle wichtigen Posten in den Staatsunternehmen sukkzessive mit Gupta-Vertrauten besetzte. Wo werden die meisten öffentlichen Gelder ausgegeben und wie kommen wir daran? Das war das Geschäftsmodel der drei indischen Brüder, die mit ihrem mausarmen Vater 1993 nach Südafrika kamen. Zuerst kam «Transnet» dran. «Transnet» verwaltet alle Flughäfen, Bahnhöfe und Transportfirmen. Malusi Gigaba setzte Brian Molefi als CEO und Arnosch Sinn als Finanzvorstand ein (2 Aufträge für Lokomotiven im Wert von 5 Mia. gingen an zwei chinesische Firmen) «Mc Kinsey» erhielt mehr als eine Milliarde für Berateraufträge von Salim Essa, Geschäftspartner der Guptas. 450 Mio. Provision sprangen für die Guptas beim Lokomotiven-Deal heraus. Gelder die über Offshore Firmen nach Hong Kong und in die Arabischen Emirate abflossen.

Dann kam Duduzane Zuma, der Sohn Zumas zum Zug. Er war eng mit den Guptas verbandelt und hat mit ihnen die Korruption perfektioniert und der Kleptokratie Vorschub geleistet. Auch Cyril Ramaphosas, einst ein Gewerkschaftsanführer, der durch die Lizenzen der Bergbau-Unternehmen am Ende der Apartheid zum  Milliardär wurde, wird Vizepräsident von Zuma und reist kurz darauf nach Russland für einen Atom-Deal und den Bau von acht Atomkraftwerken in Südafrika, die mehr als 100 Mia. US Dollar kosten würden, worauf die «Shiva» Uranmine von den Guptas gekauft wurde und Zumas Sohn einen Führungsposten zugeschanzt bekam. So brachten sie sich für den Atom Deal in Stellung, der den Geldregen noch vergrössern sollte. Und Russland wollte damit erreichen, dass Süd-afrika vom Geberland abhängig ist und der Zuma-Clan beabsichtigte sich mit Hilfe der Guptas einer noch grösseren Staatsplünderung zu verschreiben.

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

© GMC

Botswana darf für sich in Anspruch nehmen, alle Facetten eines funkelnden Diamanten zu besitzen mit seinem grandiosen Artenreichtum von Fauna und Flora im Okavango-Delta, das ihr Antlitz ständig ändert. Ein Augenschein als Zaungast im Garten Eden Afrikas, wo sich ein lebenswichtiges Geflecht von Wasseradern befindet, das grösstenteils ausgedorrte südliche Afrika vom Atlantik bis zum Indischen Ozean mit dem lebenswichtigen Elixier versorgt. Der Okavango, drittgrösster Fluss unter dem südlichen Wendekreis, entspringt dem regenreichen Hochland Angolas. Obschon es nur wenige Hundert Kilo-meter zum Meer wären, steuert der Strom nach 1600 Kilometern Irrweg auf die 800‘000 Quadratkilometer grosse Kalahari zu – und fächert sich im weltgrössten Binnendelta auf.

In Mändern dringen die Flussarme in die öde und dürstende Wüste vor und formen ein einzigartiges Biotop mitten in der Kalahari. Das weltgrösste Binnendelta hat inetwa die Grösse Schleswig-Holsteins. 95 Prozent aller Wasserreserven Botswanas stammen aus dem Okavango-Delta durch das jährlich mehr als 18,5 Milliarden Wasser fliessen, wobei der grösste Teil im Sand der Kalahari versickert. Blickt man von oben auf die urwüchsige Landschaft der Okavango-Sümpfe, die von einem Labyrinth aus Flussarmen, Sümpfen, Inseln, Steppen und Lagunen durch-zogen ist, so schillert die Kalahari bis zum Horizont mal goldgelb, dann wieder tiefgrün mit blauen Tupfern.

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

In der Zentral-Kalahari leben damals rund 16‘000 Buschmänner und im gesamten südlichen Afrika schätzt man ihre Zahl auf rund 100‘000. Sie sind meisterhafte Spurenleser, berüchtigte Jäger, begnadete Bogenschützen – und wahre Ökologen. Sie leben nach dem Eros-Prinzip, das alles mit allem verbindet: «Alles gehört Mutter Natur und Mutter Erde. Keiner besitzt etwas. Alles wird geteilt», erklärt mir der junge Khoi-San Suruka die Weltanschauung der Kung-San am Fusse der Tsodillo-Hills, der vier heiligen, flüsternden Hügel mit den uralten Felszeichnungen, die ältesten von ihnen sollen über 30‘000 Jahre alt sein, womit wir vermutlich bei der Wiege der menschlichen Zivilisation angelangt wären. Und dann gibt es noch die Höhle der steinernen Pythonschlange, die nach Angaben von Wissenschaftlern vor rund 70‘000 Jahren bearbeitet wurde.

Um ihre Naturverbundenheit zu verdeutlichen, erzählen uns die kleinwüchsigen, zähen Menschen mit den kurzen, pechschwarzen Locken und pfirsichfarbenen Hauttönen. Sie bestreichen den Schaft ihrer Pfeile mit einem Gift, das sie aus Raupen gewinnen. Die Dosis des Gifts wird je nach Tier, das erlegt wird, exakt gewählt. Nichts wird verschwendet – nicht einmal ein Tropfen des Giftes. Das ist mit allen anderen Dingen so, die Bushmänner und ihre Frauen nehmen nur das, was sie gerade zum überleben brauchen. Graben sie eine Frucht oder ein Gemüse aus dem Boden, schneiden sie sie unten ab und lassen den Rest mit den Wurzeln in der Erde, damit wieder neue Triebe wachsen können.

Die San haben gelernt, auch in den unwirtlichsten und trockensten Regionen der Kalahari zu überleben. Diese Anpassungsfähigkeit wurde aus der Not geboren, wie uns Suruka weiter erzählt: „Als uns die Buren und andere weisse Herren bedrohten, vertrieben und töteten mussten wir in Gebiete ohne Wasser fliehen. Also füllten wir Strausseneier mit Wasser und vergruben sie im Wüstensand. So konnten wir auch da überleben. Unser Lebensrhythmus ist auf die Wanderung der Tiere und die Gezeiten abgestimmt und wir leben nach dem Prinzip, dass die Natur allen Menschen gehört und jeder sich nur das nehmen soll, was er braucht. Doch hat man unser Volk während Jahrhunderten wie Freiwild gejagt, vertrieben und getötet. Täter waren sowohl andere afrikanische Stämme als auch die europäischen Kolonialherren unter ihnen die Deutschen.

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

One of 10 Kenya Red Cross timber sites for reconstruction Kenyan farmhouses. Eine von zehn Rot-Kreuz-Holzwerkstätten für den Wiederaufbau der Bauernhütten von vertriebenen Flüchtlingen. © GMC

Als ich 2008 nach Kenya kam, besuchte ich erst die Region beim Samburu Nationalpark und war im «Joys Camp» stationiert. Das Samburu-Nationalreservat ist ein 165 qkm großes Naturschutzgebiet im Zentrum Kenias. Das östlich davon gelegene Shaba-Nationalreservat gehört zum gleichen ökologischen Gebiet. Charakteristisch sind die hier sehr trockener Lebensräume für Oryxantilopen, Grantgazellen, zwei Dikdikarten und Grevyzebras. Auch typisch für die Region sind die Netzgiraffen, die sich durch ihre besonders kontrastreiche Färbung von anderen Giraffen-Unterarten unterscheiden. Weitere Huftierarten des Reservates sind Elenantilopen und Wasserböcke. Unter den Raubtieren sind Löwen, Leoparden, Geparden und Streifenhyänen hier vorhanden. Darüber hinaus zeichnete sich der Park einst durch grosse Elefantenherden und zahlrei-che andere Wildarten wie Wasserböcke und Nilkrokodile aus.Traurigerweise nehmen auch hier die Elefantenbestände ab.

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Bei den Wahlprognosen und vorläufigen Ergebnissen war Oppositionsführer Odinga noch knapp führend. Nachdem der amtierende Präsident Mwai Kibaki zum Gewinner der Wahl erklärt wurde, erhob sich Protest seitens der Oppositionspartei ODM. Ihr Präsidentschaftskandidat Raila Odinga erklärte, dass das Wahlergebnis gefälscht sei. Bei den anschliessenden Un-ruhen wurden schätzungsweise über 1.500 Menschen getötet und 623.692 Menschen, vor allem Angehörige der Kikuyu mussten vor den Gewalttätigkeiten fliehen. Schliesslich flog ich nach Eldoret und ging zum lokalen «ICRC Red Cross Commitee». Mit den dortigen Mitarbeitern fuhr ich drei Tage lang in den die Flüchtlingscamps herum und sah mir die Wiederaufbauprojekte an. Es schien mir noch ein langer Weg zurück zur Normalität zu sein und das Elend in den Flüchtlings-lagern mit insgesamt über 100‘000 Personen war sehr bedrückend.

Ein solches Ausmass hatte ich noch nie gesehen, auch nicht in Südafrika zur Zeit des ANC-IFP-Konflikts. Über 10 Millionen Kenianer hungerten und täglich starben Hunderte an Wassernot und Ernährungsmangel. 3,2 Millionen Menschen waren damals von akutem Wassermangel betroffen. Viele von ihnen mussten täglich bis zu 30 Kilometer für einen Eimer Wasser zurücklegen und diesen dann zurück tragen. Das sind einige der erschütternden Zahlen, die der Stellevertretende Generalsekretär des «IKRK» und «Red Cross Kenya» mir in seinem Büro in Nairobi präsentierte. Und über 100‘000 Personen harrten in Flüchtlingscamps aus.

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Namibia: Schweizer Entwicklungshilfe im Reich der Geparde

Der Farmer zog vier Geparde auf und hat ein inniges Verhältnis zu den Raubkatzen. © GMC

Durch die vielen Reisen und Konflikterfahrungen in zahlreichen Ländern wollte ich in die Entwicklungszusammenarbeit («EZA») einsteigen und via «Interteam» (einer Schweizer Hilfsorganisation) nach Namibia fliegen, um vor Ort ab 2011 sta-tionär drei Jahre im Bereich Tourismus und Entwicklungszusammenarbeit zu arbeiten. Konkret ging es um ein Projekt mit der lokalen halbstaatlichen Organisation «NACOBTA», welche die Ureinwohner ökologisch und nachhaltiger in die Touris-muswirtschaft integrieren wollte, um dort die indigen ansässigen Stämme an der wirtschaftlichen und nachhaltigen touristi-schen Entwicklung teilhaben zu lassen. Leider kürzten kurz vor dem Einsatz ein paar ausländische Hilfsorganisationen ihr Budget für «NACOBTA» und so wurde der «EZA»-Einsatz in Namibia gestrichen.

Dennoch wurde ich durch das «Inter-team NACOBTA»-Assessment neugierig auf das südwestafrikanische Land mit deutscher Kolonialvergangenheit und be-schloss dort hin zu reisen. Eine zentrale Herausforderung in den ländlichen Gebieten Namibias ist der Aufbau von Kapa-zitäten zur Bewältigung des Konflikts zwischen Mensch und Wildtieren. Die «Cheetah Foundation» (CFF) in Ojjowaringo hat mehrere Landschaften in Namibia identifiziert, die einen dringenden Fokus auf wissenschaftsbasierte Lösungen zur Eindämmung des Konflikts menschlicher Wildtiere (HWC) benötigen. Zu den wichtigsten Schwerpunktregionen gehören die Greater Waterberg Landscape, die Gobabis-Landschaft und weite Teile des Kalahari-Ökosystem.Die «Cheetah Foundation» ist eines der beeindruckenden Wildlife-Projekte in Namibia.

Es war das erste Mal, dass ich diese edlen, eleganten Raubkatzen in freier Wildnis und beim Jagen nach ein paar armen Kaninchen zu sah, die den Geparden als Frühstückshoppen zum Frass vorgeworfen wurden. Die Populationsstudie des CCF für namibische Geparde läuft seit 1990, wobei bis heute über 750 Gewebeproben und 1000 Kotproben gesammelt wurden. Diese Proben ermöglichen die Erfor-schung der namibischen Gepardenpopulationen über einen Zeitraum von 30 Jahren. Die Populationsüberwachung innerhalb des 50‘000 Hektar großen Wildschutzgebiets wird durch die Kombination mit genetischen Analysen über Mikrosatelliten-marker ermöglicht. Das erlaubt den CCF-Forschern und Wildhütern die einzelnen Geparden sowohl anhand von visuellen als auch genetischen Merkmalen zu identifizieren.

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

Namiba: Herero women working as souvenier traders in Windhoek, selling handicraft to tourists. © GMC

Ein kurzer Rückblick auf Namibias Geschichte: 1884 wird Afrika an der «Kongo Konferenz» in Berlin unter den europäi-schen Mächten und Kolonialherren aufgeteilt. Deutschland steigt zur Kolonialmacht auf, worauf Deutsch-Südwestafrika, das heutige Namibia, errichtet und zur Kolonie ausgebaut wurde. Bis 1914 kamen rund 15.000 weisse Siedler nach Deutsch-Südwestafrika, darunter mehr als 12.000 Deutsche. Die deutsche Kolonialverwaltung regierte das Gebiet mithilfe von Ras-sentrennung und Unterdrückung. Die Einheimischen wurden von den europäischen Siedlern als Menschen zweiter Klasse be-handelt und praktisch entrechtet. Einheimische Stämme wurden gezwungen, ihr Land zu räumen.

Das für die Nomadenstämme lebenswichtige Weideland und ihre angestammte Heimat ging so immer mehr in die Hände der Siedler über. Dies bedrohte vor allem die Lebensgrundlage der dort ansässigen Hirtenstamme der Herero und Na’ama’s. Sklaverei, Landraub, öffentliche Exekution, Zwangsarbeit, Vergewaltigung und Demütigung wurden zur Doktrin und zur qualvollen Tagesordnung für die geschundene Bevölkerung. Mit Samuel Maharero begann 1904 der Aufstand gegen die weissen Besatzer.

Das Na‘ama Oberhaupt, Capitain Hendrik Witboo war die Ikone des antikolonialen Widerstandes. Er warf dem Ovambo Führer vor, dass er mit der sogenannten „Schutzmacht“ der Deutschen kooperierte und so die Schleusen für die Eroberung öffnete. Erst nach 20 Jahren der Unterdrückung durch die «Herrenmenschen», wehrten sich die Völker Namibias zum ersten Mal geeint gegen ihre Unter-drücker.  Am 12. Januar 1904 fallen die ersten Schüsse gegen die Besatzer. Die Aufständischen belagerten Militärstationen, blockierten Bahnlinien und überfielen Handelsniederlassungen.

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Mexico: Von Göttern inspiriertes, von Gott beseeltes Reich

Mexico: Religious ceremony of the local Mixteces Indios in Zacantepec. © GMC

Glanzvoll erstrahlt Mexicos Antlitz, die Wiege archaischer Indio-Hochkulturen. Sowohl die antiken Tempelanlagen als auch die kontrastreichen, prächtigen Kolonialstädte Oaxaca und San Cristobal de las Casas ragen wie schillernde Juwelen aus der Sierra Madre heraus. In der Heimat der Tzotziles, Tzetales, Chamulas und Lacandonen, geben sich die Ureinwohner in etwa so urtümlich wie Walliser oder Bündner Bergler. Im Hochland von Mexico feiert eines der ältesten Völker Zentralamerikas, die Mixteken, jedes Jahr seine eindrücklichen Kreuzwegprozessionen. Die Zeremonie stellt eine seltsame Symbiose des Christentums und der Götterwelt der Mixteken dar. In tiefster Religiosität verehren die Indios sowohl Jesu Christi und Maria Jungfrau, die Virgen de Guadaloupe, als auch ihren charismatischen Helden Rey Condoy, der sie vor der Vernichtung und Unterdrückung bewahrte.

Das spärliche Kerzenlicht, die Kopal-Weihrauchschwaden und das am Boden sich ausbreitende, stark nach Fichtennadeln duftende Meer sowie die prächtig ausstaffierten Honoratioren mit ihren silberbeschlagenen Stöcken als Insignien ihrer Würde, verwandelten das Kirchenschiff in eine sehr spirituelle und mystische Welt. Ich selbst kam mir wie ein Ausserirdischer in dieser indigenen Gemeinde vor. Flackernde Kerzen erleuchteten all die ernsten von Entbehrungen gezeichneten Antlitze. Dann schulterten die Indio-Frauen die Virgen de Guadaloupe und die Männer eine Jesus Christi Statue auf ihre Schultern, worauf der ganze Indio-Tross den steilen Berg hochkletterte.

Sie teilten sich in zwei Gruppen auf und ich beschloss, mich dem Frauen Fackel- und Kerzenlichterzug anzuschliessen. Bei der siebten Kreuzweg-Station vereinigten sich die beiden Züge bei einer kleinen Lichtung auf einem Platz, um die Bannerträger und die vor ihren Weihrauchgefässen knienden Frauen. Jetzt hielt der Padre wieder eine Ansprache und just in diesem Moment riss der Himmel zum ersten Mal vollends auf und die Sonne schien wie ein göttlicher Bannstrahl auf die kleine Indio-Gemeinde gerichtet, so als würde sie diese Zusammenkunft speziell gesegnet werden. Ihre Gesänge versetzen mich in Trance und es war ausser-gewöhnlich, diese spirituelle Erfahrung als einziger „Gringo“ und Ausländer unter den Mixteken Indios zu erleben.

Andächtig und überwältigt von diesem authentischen Schauspiel tiefster indigener und ergreifender Emotionen, sind auch wir Teil dieser Welt geworden und verschmolzen sozusagen mit ihnen und ihren Ahnen. Dies müssen auch die Indios gespürt haben und schenkten mir ihr Vertrauen und zogen mich in ihren innersten Kreis rein. Als sich aus dem Kreis der Würdenträger einer der Bannerträger herauslöste und auf uns zukam, erschrak ich erst heftig, da ich im Geheimen versteckt Fotos von der Wiedervereinigung von Jesu Christi und der Maria Jungfrau gemacht hatte. Ich bekam Schiss, sie hätten mich beim Fotografieren erwischt und ich würde nun als Sühne-Opfer dargebracht und an einer der Lanze aufgespiesst. Die Furcht war nicht unbegründet, denn in Chiapas wurden schon Touristen umgebracht, die die einheimischen Indios fotografierten. Stattdessen wurde ich als Geste ihrer Gastfreundschaft mitten ins Zentrum der Prozession rein geholt und durfte einer der drei Bannerträger sein. Welch eine Geste und Ehre für mich, die mich sehr berührte.

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1994: Zeuge Zapatistischer Indio-Aufstände in Chiapas

Mexico: Chamulas indios Civil War
Mexico: Dem Kugelhagel entfliehend. Chamulas indios fleeing from shootings during the civil war. © GMC

Der Chiapas-Aufstand wurde vom «Ejercito Zapatista de Liberacion Nacional» (EZLN), einer sogenannt links-radikalen Bewegung ausgelöst, die sich gegen neue staatliche Auflagen im Bundesstaat Chiapas auflehnte und einer Neuauflage der mexikanischen Revolution sehr ähnelte. Die Maya-Indios litten unter dem Freihandelsabkommen der Globalisierung und der rassistischen Politik in der mexikanischen Verwaltung und dagegen wollten sie sich wehren, weil sie unterdrückt und von der Teilnahme am politischen Prozess ausgeschlossen wurden.

Der Konflikt begann, als im Januar 1994 eine «EZLN»-Offensive vier Städte rund um San Cristobal de las Casas besetzte, worauf das mexikanische Militär die Situation vor Ort mit Gewalt und Unterdrückung beenden sollte und dabei auch Foltermethoden einsetzte. 2001 machten die Zapatisten unter der Führung von MARCOS einen Marsch von Chiapas nach Mexico-Stadt und am 1. Januar 2003 nahmen sie San Cristobal de las Casas ein. Erst danach setzten sich mehr und mehr NGOs für Friedensverhandlungen ein und übten Druck auf die Regierung aus. Letztlich hat sich das Schicksal der Indio-Gemeinschaften aber nicht viel zum Besseren gewendet. Nachdem ich diesem brandgefährlichen Ort entflohen war, erlebte ich in Chiapas noch ein schweres Erdbeben und in Yucatan einen turbulenten Hurrikan. Also Mexico hat wirklich nicht mit Eindrücken gespart, das war schon immer ein höllisch heisses Land, mal ganz abgesehen von all den Drogenkartellen, die sich damals gerade bestialisch bekämpften.

Eindrücklich war die Flussfahrt durch den Sumidero-Canyon, an dessen glitschigen bis zu 1000 Meter hohen Felswänden sich geübte Kletter über den Köpfen ge-frässiger Krokodile emporziehen konnten und auch schon dutzende Geier auf allfällige Opfer warten. Auch die nebelver-hangenen Täler und zauberhaften See- und Flusslandschaften Lago Monte Bellos an der guatemaltekischen Grenze und die wildsprudelnden Kaskaden von Agua Azul zählten ebenso zu den Highlights dieser Reise. Ich vermied die touristischen Hochburgen, zog kleine verträumte Orte vor und besuchte viele mesoamerikanische Tempelanlagen– von Teotihuatlan über Monte Alban, Palenque, Chinchen Itza und Uxmal und war tief beeindruckt von der ausgeklügelten architektonischen Meis-terleistung der hiesigen indigenen Hochkulturen mit ihrem apokalyptischen Drogengenuss.

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Kuba 93: Bei den Sozialisten, die sich von Hoffnung ernähren

Havanna: Cuban people sitting on the street offering fruits. Infront a drunk old man is lying on the walkway.

1993, flog ich zum ersten Mal ins sozialistische Kuba. Es ging um ein Schweizer Filmprojekt über Fidel Castro und Geraldine Chaplin war die Türöffnerin zu den sozialistischen Machthabern. Es herrschte gerade die «Periodo especial en tiempo de paz» (die Zeit des Notstandes in Friedenszeiten), als Kuba nach dem Zusammenbruch der Sowjetunion und dem Mauerfall in eine extreme wirtschaftliche Krise stürzte und sich einem sanften Systemwechsel unterziehen musste.

Durch die «Dollarliberalisierung» im sozialistischen Karibikparadies, um von der Zuckerwirtschaft auf den Tourismus umzuschwen-ken, vollzog sich eine Revolution vom «sozialistischen Herz zum kapitalistischen Verstand». Die klassenlose Gesellschaft war nunmehr in zwei Lager aufgespalten: Die mit den grünen US-Scheinen («fulanos») und die mit den wertlosen Pesos, die «esperancejos», den Hoffenden eben. So hat die Jagd nach dem «fula» (schlechten Geld) kafkaeske Formen angenommen. Der Wandel war geprägt vom unbeirrten Willen, die sozialistischen Errungenschaften um keinen Preis aufzugeben. Und doch vollzog sich seit der Dollarliberalisierung ein dramatischer, unaufhaltsamer Wertewandel.

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Police-Headquarter in Havanna | Kuba: Polizeikaserne in Havanna © GMC

La Habana – die lateinamerikanische Prachtstadt des 19. Jahrhunderts bot ein Bild monumentaler Trostlosigkeit. Ganze Viertel sind einsturzgefährdet, der Malecon ein kilometerlanges, heruntergekommenes Kolonialstil-Ensemble, der Verfall der Altstadt war weit fortgeschritten trotz finanzieller Hilfe der Unesco, die Teile des städtebaulichen Ensembles bewahren, reno-vieren oder wieder aufbauen wollte. Die Zwei Millionen Metropole war ein augenfälliges Symbol dafür, dass das Land nach dem Mauerfall und Abzug der Sowjets in Trümmern liegt. Die maroden Ruinen der fünfstöckigen Kolonialstilgebäude wur-den unter lebensgefährlichen Bedingungen von Hand, Säule für Säule abgetragen bzw. zugespitzt, bis die Gebäudeteile zu-sammenkrachten. Seit die Wirtschaftshilfe und die subventionierten Treibstofflieferungen der Sowjetunion aus-blieben, ist der mercado negro, wo 85 Prozent aller Waren umgesetzt werden, zur Hauptschlagader Kubas geworden. Fast alles musste teuer importiert werden, selbst das Grundnahrungsmittel Reis.

Die Exporteinnahmen fielen von über acht Milliarden 1989 binnen drei Jahre auf knapp zwei Milliarden US Dollar. Rohöl war nur noch halb so viel verfügbar, das Transportsystem zu-sammengebrochen, die Elektrizitätsversorgung funktionierte nur stundenweise, denn die Versorgungslage war prekär, der Peso war wertlos und das Zeitalter die Dollar-Apartheid angebrochen. „Unser Geld ist wertlos und die Preise haben sich in-nert kürze verzehnfacht“, beklagt Ernesto Solano, ein Rentner, der mit 80 Pesos im Monat auskommen musste.

Trotz der miserablen Lage hat er seinen Humor nicht verloren und fasst die missliche Lage, der nun schon zwei Jahre andauernden «Periodo especial en tiempo de paz» in Anspielung auf die Durchhalteparolen „luchan y resistan“ (kämpfen und durchhalten) und „Es lebe die Revolution – durchhalten compãgneros mit einem Witz zusammen: Ein Kubaner kommt hungrig nach Hause und ruft seiner Frau zu, sie solle den mitgebrachten Fisch braten. „Wir haben kein Öl“, lautet ihre Antwort „und weder Gas zum Kochen noch Wasser oder eine Zitrone.“ So bleibt dem Mann nur eins, den Fisch resigniert wieder ins Meer zu schmeissen, worauf dieser glücklich schreit: „Es lebe die Revolution.“

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Grenada 92: Auf dem Flugzeugträger «US John Rodgers» zum Pressefrühstück

Die US John ROdgers vor der Grenadinischen Küste zum 9. Jahrestag der US-Invasion. © GMC

Im Jahr 1992 reiste ich gleich zwei Mal in die Karibik. Erst nahm ich an einem Segeltörn teil, der von Grenada nach Trinidad zum Karneval führte, dann reiste ich via Barbados in Grenada exakt zur Zeit an, als das neun jährige Jubiläum der „Befrei-ung“ oder auch „Besetzung“ Grenadas (je nach Standpunkt) durch US-Streitkräfte zelebriert wurde. In St. George, der Haup-tstadt Grenadas konnte ich an der offiziellen Zeremonie mit dem Ministerpräsidenten von Grenada, Nicolas Brathwaiter und dem US-Botschafter im Beisein von hochrangigen US-Militärs beiwohnen, worauf ich vom US-Botschafters zum exklusiven und ultimativen Pressefrühstück auf den vor Grenada stationierten Flugzeugträger «US-John Rodgers» eingeladen wurde.

Das wollte ich mir nicht entgehen lassen, schliesslich kann man nicht jeden Tag auf einem Kriegsschiff Frühstücken, das ein gewaltiges Vernichtungspotential besitzt. Am nächsten Morgen holte mich ein US-Marine-Boot am Strand ab und fuhr mich zum Kriegsschiff hinüber, das vor der Küste Grenadas ankerte. Erst konnte ich einen kleinen Rundgang machen und dann mit dem Kommandanten und seiner Presse-Adjutantin auf der Kommando-Brücke ein Gespräch über die US-Politik führen. Rückblickend war dieser Besuch keine gute Idee, weil ich mich seit diesem Vorfall auf dem Radar der US-Geheimdienste befinde und dies später auf den Philippinen zu spüren bekam. …

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Caribbean Islands: St. Georges, the capital of Grenada Island in the West Indies. © GMC

Die Invasion auf Grenada war wohl eine der wenigen US-Operationen, die erstens glimpflich für die Zivilbevölkerung abliefen und letztlich zu einer Stabilisierung führte. Auch die US-Invasion in Panama ist nicht allzu desaströs verlaufen, aber alle anderen Interventionen, Invasionen und Infiltrierungen seitens der USA vom Vietnam-Krieg über den Afghanistan-Ein-satz, die gescheiterte Schweinebucht-Invasion auf Kuba, der aussichtslose und vernichtende Irak-Krieg, der zum IS geführt hat oder auch der Sturz von Langzeit-Despot M. Gaddhafi in Lybien und das klägliche Versagen im Syrien-Krieg, zumeist sind die USA nach dem 2. Weltkrieg, ob als Aggressor oder Weltpolizist, kläglich gescheitert. Ein „failed state“ eben, mit un-übersehbaren Konsequenzen für die ganze Welt: Die Radikalisierung in der muslimischen Welt, die den Terror-Organisa-tionen Al Kaida und dem IS Auftrieb gaben oder auch der von den USA ausgerufene „War on Drugs“ war 50 Jahre lang ein Desaster und Heuchelei. …

1997: Höllentrip zu den Drogenkartellen Kolumbiens

San Augustin: Sturmgott Steinskulptur. © GMC

In Bogota traf ich meinen Berufskollegen, den Aviatik-Journalisten und Militärpiloten Hans-Jörg Egger. Zusammen flogen wir nun im Auftrag der Swissair von der Hauptstadt Kolumbiens in einer Woche in alle Richtungen. Zuerst nach Letica ins Dreiländereck Brasilien, Kolumbien und Peru im Süden des Landes mitten im Amazonas-Dschungel, dann nach Cartagena in die Kolonialperle, mit den prächtigen Kolonialstilbauten ähnlich wie in Havanna. Weiter ging es nach Cali, damals die Drogenhochburg von Pablo Escobar, ein weiteres Ziel war Villa Vicencio, auch als Drogenumschlagsplatz bekannt und schliesslich flogen wir bis zur Karibikinsel San Andres hoch, die vor der Küste Nicaraguas liegt. Der Zweck der Reise: Wir sollten für die Swissair VIP-Aktionärsreise ein Reise-Programm zusammenstellen und die besten Orte rekognoszieren, wo noch uralte Flugzeugtypen herumfliegen. Eine fantastische Aviatik-Oldtimer-Flugreise sollt es werden.

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Die Vorboten des Urwaldes beginnen keine 100 Kilometer von Bogota entfernt, doch um dorthin zu gelangen muss man die mörderische Passtrasse der Sierra Oriental in einer Höhe von 3700 Metern über Meer überwunden haben und dann die kur-venreiche Talfahrt auf engen Wegen entlang abgrundtiefer Schluchten bis auf Hundert Meter über Meer gemeistert und überlebt haben. Die Sonne senkt sich gerade am blutrot gefärbten Horizont über dem dampfenden Urwald, wo tropische Ge-witter kurz vor Einbruch der Dämmerung heftig auf den esmerald grünen Dschungel niederprasseln und die Fahrt auf der glitschigen Passstrasse zur Hölle machen.

In Villa Vicencio angekommen, besteigen wir nach einem Interview mit dem Flug-hafendirektor den silbernen Rumpf der DC-6, mit der wir mit lautem Propellergeheul alsbald durch den peitschenden Regen fliegen. Auch die Stirn des Piloten ist mit dicken Wasserperlen überzogen, denn es sieht für ihn nach schwierigen Flug- und Landebedingungen aus. Dröhnend kämpfen die Propellermotoren gegen die dichten, schnell vorbeisausenden Wolkenschwa-den an. Der Blick aus den kleinen runden Fenstern schweift über das grüne Urwaldmeer im Amazonasbecken, die mäan-drierenden Flussläufe und Inseltupfer. Dann beginnt der Sinkflug und wir setzen zur Landung an, worauf wir alsbald er-leichtert unbeschadet angekommen zu sein.

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Am Schluss unserer Kolumbien-Reise kamen wir beim Flughafen in Bogota wie immer in den letzten Tagen erst kurz vor Abflug an. Wir hatten uns daran gewöhnt, dass jeweils knapp 15 Minuten ausreichten um gerade noch einsteigen zu können. Das klappte bestens bei allen innerkolumbianischen Flügen doch der bevorstehende Flug nach Equador, war halt ein Aus-landflug. Daran und dass das Prozedere ja viel länger dauern würde, hatten wir nicht gedacht. Als wir am Schalter ankamen und erfuhren, dass das Boarding schon abgeschlossen war, zeigte ich den Check-in Schalter-Angestellten zwei Vi-sitenkarten und sagte: „Stop the airplaine, now immediately“ und rannte einfach durch das Gate vorbei an den überrumpelten Securities auf das Flugfeld hinaus. Ohne, dass auf uns geschossen, wurde rannten wir dem Flugzeug entgegen, das zur Start-bahn rollte. Gleichzeitig sahen wir aber auch ein Treppenfahrzeug auf das Flugzeug zu rasen und der Jet stoppte. Nach einigen Dutzend Metern hatten wir es geschafft und durften die Treppe hocheilen, worauf die Boardtüre geöffnet wurde und wir an Bord gehen konnten. „Wow, was für eine geile Action!“ Warum das Flugzeug stoppte, fragen sie sich? Nun, die eine Visitenkarte war die des kolumbianischen Luftfahrt-Ministers und die andere, die des Flughafendirektors von Bogota. Beide Personen hatten wir zuvor interviewt. Und so kam es also, dass für uns zwei Schweizer Journalisten in Kolumbien ein Verkehrs-flugzeug auf einem internationalen Flug auf der Rollpiste zum Abflug gestoppt wurde, damit die zwei VIPs einsteigen konnten.  

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Artensterben durch Raubbau: Amazonas Cruise mit Wissenschaftlern

Planetarisches Massensterben: In 30 Jahren haben wir 60 Prozent der Arten-Spezies ausgerottet. © GMC

Sein Name ist Legende und klingt so exotisch, wie der Mythos, der ihn umrankt: Der Rio Amazonas. Er ist der zweitlängste und wasserreichste Fluss der Erde, der mit den meisten Nebenflüssen, dem stärksten Wasserabfluss, dem grössten Einzugs-gebiet und gewaltigsten Delta. In abertausenden von Mäandern fliesst er majestätisch durch den facettenreichsten und opulentesten Regenwald der Erde, nährt, tränkt und erhält eine unermessliche Vielfalt von Fauna und Flora und ist gleichzeitig die Lebensader von Millionen von Menschen. Der Amazonas wird von den Indios „Marano“ genannt, der „den nur Gott allein enträtseln kann“ und er besteht aus einem bizarren Geflecht von über 1100 Flüssen, davon 20 länger als der Rhein. Doch erst nach dem encuentro dos aguas, dem Zusammenfluss des Rio Negro und Rio Branco bei Manaus, wird der Fluss Rio Amazonas genannt. Mit seinem Einzugsgebiet, dass mehr als sieben Millionen km2 gross ist und seiner täglichen Ablagerung von drei Million Tonnen Sedimenten im Delta, läuft der Amazonas allen anderen Strömen den Rang ab. Ein Fünftel des Süsswassers in den Weltmeeren wird vom König der Flüsse gespiesen. Über 30’000 Pflanzenarten, die auf drei Etagen übereinander gedeihen und mehr als 2000 Fisch- und Vogelarten leben in seinem Einzugsgebiet.

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French Guyane: Ara parrot in the amazon rain forest near Cayenne. © GMC

Eine Expedition in den Amazonas-Urwald ist sowohl eine Reise in eine exotische Welt voller überwältigender Flora als auch eine Begegnung mit einer artenüppigen Fauna – voll von Riesenschlangen, wie Anacondas und Phytons, Ameisenbären, Faultiere, Brüllaffen, Piranhas, scheuen Flussdelfinen, bunten Papageien (Aras) oder prächtigen Tucans sowie flinken Kolibris. Die Liste liesse sich, so scheint es, fast unendlich fortsetzen. Doch das Gegenteil ist der Fall. Die Anzahl der vom Aussterben bedrohten Arten nimmt dramatisch zu. Experten zufolge ist er Regenwald unwiederbringlich zerstört, wenn 40 Prozent seiner Fläche vernichtet wurde. In den letzten 50 Jahren wurde bereits ein Viertel des Regenwaldes abgeholzt oder abgebrannt – mit katastrophalen Folgen für das Klima, die Umwelt, die Menschen und die Tiere. Die Ureinwohner in den Regenwäldern hatten über den Zeitraum der letzten 15‘000 Jahre kaum ein Prozent des Regenwaldes vernichtet. Eine einzige Menschen-Generation reicht also aus, um das ganze Ökosystem des Planeten Erde aus dem Gleichgewicht und die Men-schheit als solche in Gefahr zu bringen.

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Französisch Guyana: Ein Jaguar schaut und faucht. © GMC

In Brasilien gibt es heute noch rund eine Million Quadratkilometer Amazonas Regenwald, der nicht geschützt und nicht eingezont ist aber auch nicht den dort lebenden indigenen Stämmen gehört (da die in langwierigen Prozessen erst ihre jahrhunderte alte Legitimität beweisen müssen), damit ihr Land nicht dem Raubbau und der Investoren-Raubgier geopfert werden. Denn das gängige Prinzip verläuft folgendermassen: Die Gebiete werden illegal beschlagnahmt, abgebrannt oder gerodet und damit zerstört. In den Jahren danach wird dann versucht, die Landnahme auf diesem Gebiet durch die lukrative Viehwirtschaft zu legalisieren, was seit Präsident Bolsonaro ein Kinderspiel ist. Die Bodenspekulation wird durch interna-tionale Investoren angeheizt. In der Region werden in den nächsten Jahren rund 30 Milliarden US-Dollars in Strassenbau, Elektrizität und die Infrastruktur zur Erschliessung und Ausbeutung des Primärwaldes gesteckt.

92 Staudämme sind im Amazonas Gebiet geplant. Das sind verheerende Aussichten. Was für ein kapitalistischer Irrsinn. Zu allem Elend plant die Regierung von Jair Bolsonaro eine Eisenbahn fast 1000 Kilometer quer durch den Urwald und viele indigene Schutzgebiete zu bauen. Die Agrarlobby ist entzückt, verspricht das Infrastrukturprojekt des Ferrogrão doch in Zukunft tiefere Trans-portkosten bis zum Atlantik und damit höhere Gewinne. Das befeuert weitere Rodungen des Urwaldes mit desaströsen Fol-gen: Eine Studie der Ökonomen Juliano Assunçao, Rafael Araújo und Arthur Bragança hat ergeben, dass dadurch mit zu-sätzlichen Rodungen auf einer Fläche von 2050 Quadratkilometern zu rechnen ist, was rund 300000 Fussballfeldern ent-spricht. Durch das Abholzen dieses Urwaldes würden nicht nur rund 75 Millionen Tonnen Kohlenstoff produziert, sondern der zunehmende Verlust der grünen Lunge wird bald zum Kollaps des Klima- und Bewässerungssystems im gesamten Amazonas Becken führen.

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Borneo 96: Mit handicapiertem Orang Utan durch den Urwald pirschend

Malaysia: A handicaped young Orang Utan lying on the rainforest wood bridge at the reha center. © GMC

Der Orang Utan, auf malaiisch der „Waldmensch“, ist seit Mitte der 60er Jahre vom Aussterben bedroht. Trotz internationaler Artenschutzabkommen, damals noch äusserst restriktiven Handelsabkommen und den beiden Rehabilitationsstationen auf  Semengho in Sarawak und Sepilok in Sabah auf der malaiischen Insel Borneo sind die nahen Verwandten des Homo Sapiens akut gefährdet. Die Gier nach Tropenholz und Palmöl zerstören ihren Lebensraum, den Primärwald. Durch die Vernichtung ihrer Refugien sind sie heute in kleinen Gruppen isoliert.

Bekannt sind die Menschenaffen auch durch den Schweizer Umwelt- und Menschenrecht-Aktivisten Bruno Manser geworden. Manser lebte von 1984 bis 1990 auf Borneo, machte Aufzeichnungen über die Fauna und Flora des tropischen Regenwaldes und lernte die Sprache und Kultur der Penan kennen und lebte mit ihnen zusammen. 1990 musste er in die Schweiz fliehen, nachdem er von der malaysischen Regierung ausgewiesen und zur „unerwünschten Person“ erklärt wurde. Ein Kopfgeld von 50000 Dollar wurden auf ihn ausgesetzt. 1993 beteiligte sich Manser an einer Fastenaktion und. einem Hungerstreik vor dem Bundeshaus in Bern zum Protest gegen den Import von Tropenholz. Im Jahr 2000 reiste er trotz Einreiseverbot und ausgesetztem Kopfgeld vom indonesischen Teil Borneos (Kalimantan) über die grüne Grenze in das malaysische Sarawak zu den Penan und ward nie mehr gesehen. Seither gilt Bruno Manser als verschollen und wurde 2005 amtlich für tot erklärt.

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50 Years Merdeka of Malaysia: Celebration with Royals and Ministers in Kula Lupur City. © GMC

1996 unternahm ich eine Reise nach Malaysia zur Feier der 50 jährigen Unabhängigkeit von der britischen Krone und nach der Staatsfeier mit allen asiatischen Staatschefs, reiste ich erst mit dem Auto in ganz Malaysia herum und besuchte den Taman Negara Nationalpark im Regenwald. Nach dem Abstecher nach Langkawi flog ich nach Borneo und landete in Sarawak mit dem Ziel, die Situation der Waldrodung für die Palmölgewinnung, die dadurch bedrohliche Lage der Kopfjäger und der zerstörte Lebensraum der Orang Utan, zu erkunden.

Beim Lake Batang Ai in Sarawak auf Borneo startete ich die Expedition in den Regenwald und mietete einen Führer mit Einbaumboot, der mich zu den hier lebenden Iban Headhunters führen sollte. Nach zwei Tagesreisen vom Lake Batang Ai aus mit einem Kanu durch ein Meer aus abgeholzten, flussabwärts strömenden Tropenstämme paddelnd, landete ich in einem dieser abgelegenen Langhaus-Dörfer. Die Zeiten, in denen Eindringlinge mit dem parang, dem gefürchteten Langmesser enthauptet und die Trophäen in Form von geschrumpften Minischädeln an den Balken der Langhäuser aufgehängt wurden, sind Gott sei Dank vorbei. Die Langhäuser der Kopfjäger sind auf Stelzen gebaut, bis zu 100 Meter lang und haben einen durchgehenden breiten Gang der zu einer Längsveranda führt.

Leider erkrankte ich an Malaria. Von Fieberkrämpfen geschüttelt und schachmatt, lag ich drei Tage einer toten Fliege gleich im «Longhaus» der Kopfjäger herum, bevor ich mit dem Einbaum retour zu einem Dschungelcamp fahren konnte, das über eine Funkstation verfügte, um mit der Schweiz über die Funkverbindung und dem ans Funkgerät gehalten Telefonhörer, mit meiner Familie Kontakt aufzunehmen. Als zu Hause in der Schweiz das Tonbandgerät statt einer Verbindung zustande kam, sagte ich nur kurz, dass ich mich verabschieden wolle, weil ich die Nacht wohl nicht überleben würde. Danach legte ich mich von weiteren Fieberschüben durchgeschüttelt draussen unter den nächtlichen Sternenhimmel hin.

Ich wollte wenigstens im Freien sterben und nicht in der winzigen, stickigen Bretterbude, in der man mich einquartiert hatte. Was nun geschah war einzigartig und sollte meinen ausgeprägten Realitätssinn fundamental erschüttern. Ob es nur Halluzinationen waren oder ob ich tatsächlich von der Himmelfahrt zurückgeholt wurde, ist mir bis heute nicht klar. Jedenfalls hob mein Astralkörper ab und dann sah ich rein optisch schon die Sterne mit kometenhaft rasender Geschwindigkeit auf mich zukommen und fühlte mich schwerelos in den Orbit hoch gezogen und gleitete wie das Raumschiff «Enterprise», das mit Lichtgeschwindigkeit durch den Orbit düste, dem Sternenhimmel entgegen. Aber da die Sterne ja nicht auf mich zukommen können, wurde mir klar, dass ich wohl wie ein Engel abgehoben bin und nun dem funkelnden Firmament entgegen raste, es sei denn, mein fieberndes Hirn treibe seine Mätzchen und halluzinogene Vision mit mir.  

Mit Hilfe der Dschungelcamp-Bewohner kam ich nach zwei Tagen wieder auf die Füsse, reiste weiter nach Kota Kinabalu zur Orang Utan Rehabilitationsstation in Sepilok und kam gerade zur rechten Zeit an, als die Fütterung von einer Plattform zwei Kilometer weiter im Waldesinnern stattfand. Die Touristen-gruppen waren schon vor mir auf dem Holzsteg losmar-schiert, der gut zwei Meter über Boden in den Regenwald zur grossen Besucherplattform und den dahinter befindlichen zwei Fütterungsplätze in den Bäumen rein führte. Dann sah ich zu, wie die Babies ihre Nahrung bekamen und verschlangen und dann wieder in den Bäumen verschwanden. Nach der Fütterung wollte ich vor den anderen wieder in der Reha-Station sein und machte mich vor den anderen auf den Rückweg auf dem Steg.

Als ich an einem jungen handicapierter Orang Utan, mit einem abgehackten, aber schon verheilten Arm vorbeischleichen wollte, der rücklings auf dem Steg lag und so den Durchgang blockierte, packte er mich am Unterschenkel. Was sollte ich tun? Als ich seine Hand, die mein Bein umklammerte, sachte lösen wollte, packte er mich einfach am Handgelenk, worauf wir beide, der junge Orang Utan und der immer noch fiebernde und verschwitze Fotograf Hand in Hand durch den Urwald bis zur Station liefen. Er hätte mich gleich mit hinauf in die Baumkronen zu seinen Kumpanen mitnehmen können. Das ging zwar nicht, dafür hatte ich einen guten Auftritt in der Reha-Station, als wir Hand in Hand, wie alte Freunde dort eintrafen.

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Indonesien: Dramatische Abholzung und Artensterben in Kauf genommen

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

Wie sieht die Situation heute aus? Der Lebensraum der Menschenaffen hat sich weiter drastisch reduziert und so ist auch ihr Bestand nicht gewachsen sondern wurde weiter dezimiert. Zwar haben Genomiker an Universität in Zürich kürzlich eine neue Art auf Sumatra entdeckt, den Tapanuli-Orang Utan, deren Refugium in den zerklüfteten Bergen der Region Batang Toru in Indonesien liegt. Die geschätzten 800 Primaten sind, wie auf Borneo auch hier in Indonesien von Waldrodungen für Palm-ölplantagen, Zersiedlung und von einem Staudamm-Projekt betroffen. Und nicht nur sie sterben lautlos aus. Auch viele andere Spezies gehen unter. Eine Million Arten sind in den nächsten Jahrzehnten vom Aussterben bedroht. Dies ist das ver-nichtende Fazit des «Weltbiodiversitätsrates» (IPBES) von 2019. Reptilien und Vögel haben es schwer, aber auch immer mehr Säugetiere sterben aus. 540 Landwirbelarten wurden im 20 Jahrhundert ausgerottet. Die meisten im asiatischen Raum.

Die Schweiz hat mit Indonesien ein umstrittenes Wirtschaftsabkommen abgeschlossen und setzt dabei im Abkommen auf «RSPO»-Standards, die in Zusammenarbeit mit Unternehmen, Umweltorganisationen und Hilfswerken entstanden war. Doch damit werden weder die Abholzung noch Staudamm-Projekte gestoppt und auch der Lebensraum der Orang Utan und vieler anderer Spezies ist weiterhin dem Untergang geweiht. Ein Abkommen mit Nachhaltigkeitszielen ist zwar ein kleiner Fort-schritt, ändert aber leider nichts an der Tatsache, dass der Raubbau weiter geht und es zu wenig Schutzgebiete gibt, denn der Bedarf an Palmöl ist extrem gestiegen und steigt weiter. Entsprechend wuchs auch die Anbaufläche, die durch die Rodung des Primärwaldes zustande kam.

Seit 2008 ist die Fläche dafür jährlich um 0,7 Millionen Hektaren angestiegen, eine Fläche viermal so gross wie der Kanton Zürich. Und der Bedarf wird sich bis 2050 voraussichtlich nochmals mehr als verdoppeln. Auf der Insel Borneo gehen 50 Prozent der Rodungen auf den Palmölanbau zurück. Im viel grösseren Indonesien sind es auch schon 20 Prozent. Sechs Prozent aller Tierarten befinden sich auf der Insel Borneo. Seit über 4000 Jahren werden die Regenwälder Borneos von den Indigenen bevölkert. Im Laufe der letzten 50 Jahren wurde knapp die Hälfte des Regenwaldes in Kalimantan, dem indonesischen Teil Borneos abgeholzt.

Es gibt Tausende von Landkonflikten von indigenen Gemeinden gegen grosse Holzunternehmen, doch der Staat und die Justiz machen es der Bevölkerung schwer, an ihre Rechte heranzukommen und ihr Land gegen den Raubbau zu verteidigen. Zwar gibt es seit 30 Jahren eine Konvention zum Schutz der Regenwälder, doch die wurde nie vom indonesischen Parlament ratifiziert und umgesetzt. Ausserdem ist zu beobachten, dass fast alle Politiker entweder ehemalige oder noch amtierende Holzindustrielle in Jakarta sind, wie Norman Jiwan von der NGO «TuK» berichtet. Und von der Palmölindustrie profitieren nur weniger als 30 der reichsten indonesischen Familien.

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Philippines 95: Unglaubliche Geistheiler-Fähigkeiten

© GMC

Bei meiner zweiten Reise in die Philippinen leistete ich mir erst eine Schiffsreise zur Erkundung der Insel Palawan, Busuanga Island und den Coron Inseln, um hernach philippinische Geistheiler in Luzon aufzusuchen. Denn ein halbes Jahr zuvor kam ein knapp 25 jähriger Heiler in die Schweiz und nach Deutschland, der offensichtlich schon Kultstatus besass. Jedenfalls warteten damals in Zürich gewiss drei Dutzend Personen auf eine kurze Session mit diesem Geistheiler. Der Reihe nach fanden sich die Personen in einem abgedunkelten Raum ein und erzählten dem in Trance befindlichen Geistheiler kurz ihr Anliegen, worauf er sie untersuchte, abtastete und so merkwürdige Dinge vor meinen Augen tat, wie das Körperöffnen mit der Fingerspitze an gewissen Stellen, worauf die Fleischwunde aufklaffte und er mit den Fingern darin eintauchte.

Den philippinischen Geistheilern wird nachgesagt, dass sie die Fähigkeit haben, ihre Finger beim Eintauchen zu entmaterialisieren, um so mit dem Körpergewebe zu verschmelzen. Als er seine Finger tief in das Fleisch reinschob, wurden sogleich unsichtbar unter der Hautoberfläche und verschmolzen mit dem Gewebe. Dabei waren keine Finger-spitzen oder -kuppen mehr zu sehen, nur der Fingeransatz über der Hautoberfläche blieb ersichtlich. Und als er die Finger herauszog, verschloss sie die klaffende Wunde sofort und zurück blieb eine leicht gerötete Stelle an der Hautoberfläche. „Der absolute Wahnsinn!“ So etwas habe ich noch nie zuvor und nur zwei Mal – bei zwei Geistheiler in Zürich und nun hier in Luzon gesehen. Seither nehme ich die Welt mit anderen Augen und Sensoren wahr.

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Am Schluss dieser Philippinen Reise erlebte ich noch eine ungemütliche Überraschung. Ich wurde am Flughafen bei der Ausreise verhaftet, weil ich den Namen einer Person habe, die in den Philippinen ausgeschrieben war. So musste ich den Tourismusminister, auf dessen Einladung ich in den Philippinen war, bemühen, um frei zu kommen und ausreisen zu dürfen. Wäre er nicht gewesen, hätte ich extra nach Manila reisen und mich im Justizministerium präsentieren müssen. Das blieb mir glücklicherweise erspart und damit so etwas anderen Touristen in der Schweiz auch erspart würde, publizierte ich die Telefonnummer des Justizministers in den Tages-Zeitungen mit dem Verweis, in so einem Fall solle man sich doch direkt an den Chef der Justizbehörde wenden. Dieser Hinweis in den Schweizer Medien wurde von der philippinischen Botschaft nicht goutiert. Mehr noch: Ein paar Jahre später bei einer weiteren Presseeinladung in die Philippinen seitens «Singapore Airlines», meinem wichtigsten Airline-Partner, wurde ich dann plötzlich wieder ausgeladen und zur Persona non grata erhoben.

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Indien 2006: Im Reich der liebenden Hände bei den Ayurveda Pionieren

The ancient Maharadja palace Kalari Kovilakom is one of the leading luxury ayurvedic healing resorts in Kerala. © GMC

1996 flog ich das erste Mal nach Indien und zwar nach Kerala an die Südspitze des Landes zu den aufstrebenden Ayurveda-Resorts und Kliniken. Ich hatte zuvor schon auf Sri Lanka mit der ayurvedischen Medizin hautnahen Kontakt aufgenommen und eine Pancha Karma Reinigungskur gemacht und auf der Tropeninsel sieben der damals Besten Ayurveda-Resorts besucht und sie miteinander verglichen. Die ayurvedische Medizin, die ich in Sri Lanka kennengelernt hatte, faszinierte mich derart, dass ich beschloss nach Kerala zu reisen und traf dort auf die südindischen Ayurveda-Pioniere, die «cgh earth group», die sich mit sehr exklusiven Resorts bereits einen Namen gemacht haben. Die ayurvedische Medizin wurde vor über 5000 Jahren von hochbegabten Indern in der Tiefe ihrer Meditation und Spiritualität entdeckt, aber infolge der Kolonialisierung und Berufsverboten der britischen Kolonialregierung über 50 Jahre lang unterbunden, bevor sie in den 90er Jahren ein Re-vival erlebte.

«Durch das Verbot ging viel Wissen verloren», sagt Dr. Jayawardhana von der Universität Colombo. Was vor tausenden von Jahren in Nordindien entwickelt wurde, ist ein ganzheitliches Natursystem, das Körper, Geist und Seele eine Einheit betrachtet, denn die Ayurveda-Philosophie geht davon aus, dass alle Materie, so auch der Mensch, auf die fünf Ele-mente Erde, Wasser, Luft, Feuer und Raum zurückzuführen sind. Ayurveda geht davon aus, dass in der Natur alles wächst, was es braucht um den Menschen gesund zu machen und zu erhalten. So werden Pflanzen, Mineralien, Aschen, salze, Rinden, Hölzer, Wurzeln und tierische Produkte gekocht und pulverisiert und dann zu Pillen, Salben und Ölen verarbeitet.

Das zartgelbe Sesamöl ist die Basis aller Massageöle. Es ist reich an ungesättigten Fettsäuren und macht spröde Haut weich und glatt. Dem Sesamöl mischt der Arzt oder die Arztin andere natürliche Zutaten bei, die spezifisch auf den jeweiligen Dosha-Typ abgestimmt sind. Das Öl kann somit optimal auf die individuelle Konstitution des Menschen einwirken. Keine andere Medizin der Welt weist ein derart allgemeingültiges, tiefgreifendes und ganzheitliches Reinigungssystem auf, wie die ayurvedische Medizin und die Pancha Karma Kur insbesondere. Sie ist die Mutter aller Kuren!

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Gujarat 2013: das Treffen mit Narenda Moodi in Ahmedabad

Press conference with Gujarats Tourism-, Transport-, Chief Minister Nahredra Modi at the Gujarat Travel Mart in Ahmedabad-City. © GMC

2013 wurde ich im März an der jährlich in Berlin statt findenen Tourismusfachmesse «ITB» in der Halle, wo sich Indien und die indischen Veranstalter präsentierten, auf eine Pressereise nach Gujarat angesprochen und gab den Initiatoren meine Visitenkarte. Schon zwei Monate später flog ich via Dehli nach Ahmedabad, die Hauptstadt des Bundesstaates Gujarat und traf dort zu meinem Erstaunen auf ca. 150 JournalistInnen und InfluencerInnen, die aus der ganzen Welt eingeflogen worden waren, um die touristischen Reize Gujarats kennenzulernen. Nachdem wir uns in verschiedene Interessengruppen aufgeteilt hatten, wurden wir fünf Tage lang durch die Gegend gekarrt und mit den touristischen Highlights vertraut gemacht.

Das war zunächst der Rani ki Vavstepwell bei der Stadt Patan am Ufer des Saraswati Flusses. Die zum Unesco Weltkulturerbe zählende Tempelanlage wurde im 11. Jahrhundert zu Ehren der Königstochter von Khengara von Saurashtra der Solanki Dynastie gewidmet. Die Tempelanlage war ein riesiger, achtstöckiger Wasserspeicher und enthält über fünfhundert Fresken  aus der damaligen und bis heute gültigen Hindu-Mythologie. Ein weiteres Highlight war der Sun Tempel in Modhera, auch diese Tempelanlage liegt am Ufer eines Flusses, dem Pushpavati-River.

Die heilige Stätte wurde zwischen 1026 und 1027 v. Chr. während der Ära von König Bhima I von der Chaulukya Dynastie gebaut. Die Tempelanlage besteht aus drei Kom-plexen: Dem Shrine Gudhamandapa, der Vereinigungshalle Sabhamandapa und dem Wasserreservoir Kunda. Dann ging die Fahrt im Jeep weiter und führte in ein unwirtliches, staubtrockenes Land zur Rann of Kutch, ein Salzwasser-Marschland an der Grenze zwischen Indien und Pakistan. Die Rann of Kutch ist in zwei Regionen unterteilt: Die Grosse und die Kleine Rann Kutch. Die grosse liegt in Pakistan, die Kleine Rann of Kutch grenzt südöstlich daran an und reicht bis zum Gulf of Kutch. 20,946 km2 der Kleinen Kutch sind geschütztes Gebiet mit einem Wildlife Sanctuary, welches schon 1973 etabliert wurde.

Am Schluss der Reise verbrachten wir noch eine Nacht im Maharadscha Palast in Poshina und bevor es in die Hauptstadt Gujarats Ahmedabad zurück ging, wo ich noch das Ghandi Museum besuchte und dann kam es zur Schlussveranstaltung des Journalisten-Events mit dem Auftritt von Narenda Moodi, von dem bis zur Stunde keiner der MedienverteterInnen etwas wusste. Erst als einige schwerbewaffnete Soldaten mit Minenspürgeräten und Suchhunden auftauchten, war klar, dass es in Kürze hohen Besuch gab. Dann fuhr eine kleine Eskorte vor und Narenda Moodi stieg im Beisein des Tourismusministers von Gujarat und einiger anderer Officials auf und machte allen seine Ambitionen auf das indische Präsidentschaftsamt klar, ein Ziel, dass er ja dann auch erreichte und seither Indien mit seinem Hindu-Nationalistischem Kurs spaltet.

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Ägypten 2004: Bei den Beduinen im Sinai zwei Terroranschläge miterlebt

Egypt: Two Bedouines at the Observation Point of the Multi National Forces and Peace Troops in the Sinai desert getting a food package. © GMC/Gerd M. Müller

2005 im Sinai, genauer gesagt in Sharm el Sheikh angekommen, sah die Situation als Resident Manager für einen Schweizer Tour Operator wiederum ganz anders aus,. dieser Einsatz war eine echte Herausforderung. Die Die ersten zwei Monate im Sinai lebte ich im «Radisson»Hotel“ mit allen touristischen Annehmlichkeiten, guter Infrastruktur und nettem Ambiente. Dann wurde ich in einen spartanischen Betonblock für die lokalen Reiseleiter in einer tristen Umgebung verfrachtet, worauf ich mir beim Generalgouverneur für die militärischen Sperrbezirke im Sinai (aufgrund der UN-Friedensmission nach dem Sechs-Tage-Krieg) eine Sondergenehmigung besorgte, damit ich auch Nachts in die Sperrgebiete in der Wüste ausserhalb von Sharm-el-Sheikh fahren durfte. Was wollte ich nachts dort? Nun, wie immer Zugang zum Lokalkolorit und zu den Ein-heimischen ausserhalb der Touristen-Hotspots. In diesem Fall Zugang zum Leben der Beduinen im Sinai und zu meinem Freund Faroud.

Bei Aussentemperaturen tagsüber bis über 50 Grad Celsius spielt sich das Leben in der Wüste nachts ab. Da ich Bekanntschaft mit Faroud gemacht hatte, der allein beim Schiffswrack «Maria Schroeder» im Nabq Nationalpark lebte, konnte ich ihn nun nach Feierabend in der Abgeschiedenheit der Wüste, dem touristischen Trubel entfliehend, treffen und ein paar spirituelle und poetische Stunden unter dem funkelnden Firmament verbringen. Die Fahrt zu ihm war gar nicht so einfach, denn die 35 km durch die Wüste und Sanddünnen hatten es in sich. Ich legte die Strecke mit dem Dienstfahrzeug, also einem herkömmlichen PKW zurück. In stockdunkler Umgebung hiess es dann mit viel speed über die Dünen zu fahren, ohne ins Stocken zu geraten, denn ohne 4-Rad Antrieb gab es hier normalerweise kein Durchkommen. Aber ich fand einen Weg und bretterte zwei Mal pro Woche nachts in die Wüste rein, um mit dem jungen Beduinen zu parlieren, zu philosophieren und die funkelnden Sterne ohne Lichtverschmutzung zu geniessen.

Zu jener Zeit, als ich im Sinai stationiert war, gab es zwei von insgesamt drei grösseren Terror-Anschlägen. Der erste war in Taba, der zweite und grösste Anschlag ereignete sich im Juli 2005 in Sharm-el-Sheikh und forderte 88 Menschenleben, und weit über 100 wurden verletzt. Der dritte Terroranschlag geschah am Abend des 24. April 2006 in Dahab, einem Taucher-Hotspot, bei dem drei Splitterbomben gezündet wurden. Die erste detonierte an einer belebten Kreuzung vor dem Supermarkt «Ghazala» gegenüber der Polizeistation. Zwei weitere explodierten kurze Zeit darauf an der Strandpromenade.

Bei dem Anschlag verloren um die 30 Menschen, fast alle Ägypter, ihr Leben. Viele weitere Personen wurden schwer verletzt. Das waren wir äusserst knapp einer Katastrophe davon gekommen, denn wir erinnern uns noch gut an die Terroranschläge vom 17. November 1997 in Luxor bei denen auch 36 Schweizer ihr Leben verloren Aber die Furcht war gross und die Sicher-heitsmassnahmen vor jedem Hotel rigoros. Jeder Wagen wurde bei der Einfahrt sorgfältig gespiegelt und gefilzt, bevor er in die Hoteleinfahrt reinfahren konnte. Röntgengeräte scannten jeden eintretenden Hotelgast.

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MIt einer Kamelkarawane entlang dem Gulf of Akaba auf der Sinaihalbinsel unterwegs. © GMC/Gerd Müller

Umso verrückter war eine Reise mit zwei Fahrzeugen und sieben Schweizer Touristen, die unbedingt mit mir einen Trip nach Cairo im Auto machen wollten und zwar quer durch den ganzen Sinai hindurch, von der Südspitze Sharm-el-Sheikh in einem Tag nach Cairo inklusive Rückfahrt mit insgesamt über 1000 km Strecke und gut 30 Militär-Strassensperren auf einer Wegstrecke. Mein einheimischer Co-Fahrer und ich haben das Kunststück bewältigt und für die Ochsentour 27 Stunden gebraucht. Drei Stunden länger, als geplant und zwar weil ich die vorletzte Militärsperre in meiner Müdigkeit nach über 24 Stunden am Steuer übersehen habe und mit ca. 70 Stundenkilometern durch die in Schlangenlinie aufgebauten Barrieren hindurch gebraust war – notabene ohne eine einzige zu streifen.

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Libanon 2006: Im Palästinenser-Camp «Schatila»

Photo-exposition from Tel Al Zatar massacre in Shatila, Beirut City. © GMC/Gerd M. Müller

Ich habe ja schon viele Konfliktregionen besucht und das selbst kritisch heisse Phasen erlebt, aber in die Hisbollah-Quartiere vorzustossen, habe ich mich ohne entsprechende Kontakte und Verbindungen oder eine ortsvertraute Person im Hintergrund dann doch nicht getraut. Doch um Kontakte zu knüpfen, war die Zeit bis zur Abreise innert wenigen Tagen zu knapp. Aus-serdem ist einer der wichtigsten Schutz-Faktoren in meiner Tätigkeit, nicht nur die Sprache der Bevölkerung zu sprechen, sondern wenn möglich gar nicht als Ausländer oder Fremdling erkannt zu werden.

Diese Trümpfe konnte ich hier nicht einsetzen. Während meines kurzen Aufenthaltes wurde ich alleine drei Mal an einem Tag von der libanesischen Armee angehalten und kurz verhört. In den Hisbollah Quartieren wurde es noch ungemütlicher. Fast an jeder dritten Ecke wurde man als Ausländer angehalten und gefragt, wer man sei und was man hier wolle. Die Hisbollah ist Irans wichtigster Verbündeter im Libanon und das nicht nur aus militärischer sondern auch aus politischer Sicht, denn die Hisbollah ist zusammen mit ihren Verbündeten die wichtigste politische Kraft im implodierten Land an der Levante.

Der Libanon dient dem Iran als militärische Front gegen Israel und das ausserhalb des eigenen Staatsgebietes, daher ist das Assad Regime in Syrien auch ein Verbündeter und Irans einziger strategischer Partner. Aufgrund der prekären Sicherheitslage und ohne lokale Kontaktpersonen sowie einen angemessenen Schutz zog ich mich aus diesem Quartier zurück und kam stattdessen im Palästinenser-Flüchtlingscamp Schatila an.

Dort zeigte mir ein palästinensischer Flüchtling die drei Massakerstätten. Als Massaker von Sabra und Schatila wird eine Säuberungs-Aktion bezeichnet, die von phalangistischen Milizen, also christlich maronitischen Soldaten verübt wurden und gegen die im Süden von Beirut lebenden palästinensischen Flüchtlinge gerichtet war. Im September 1982 – mitten im libanesischen Bürgerkrieg – wurden die beiden genannten Flüchtlingslager gestürmt, die zu jener Zeit von israelischen Soldaten umstellt waren und Hunderte von Zivilisten wurden von den christlichen, also phalangistischen Milizen massakriert.

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Der persische Mohn-Schah und seine diplomatischen Drogenprinzen

The Iranian embassador in Bern Alireza Salari invited Irans Foreign Minister Mohammed Dschawad Sarif and diplomats to the 35th year revolution celebration in the Iranian Embassy in Bern. © GMC

Humanitäre Gründe zählten im persischen Reich des Schah von Persien nicht. Als einer der gnadenlosesten Verfolger von Rauschgifthändlern hatte Mohammad Reza Pahlavi seit 1969 aufgrund seines Anti-Drogengesetzes weit über 100 Menschen wegen illegalen Besitzes von Drogen erschiessen lassen. Wer in Persien mit mehr als zehn Gramm Heroin oder zwei Kilogramm Opium erwischt wurde, war zum Tode verurteilt. Um so grösser war in der Schweiz das Unbehagen und poli-tische Dilemma beim Verlauf der Genfer Affäre, als ein Mitglied der Equipe des Schahs, der seinen Winterurlaub in St. Moritz abbrach, weil in Genf Richter und einzelne Behördenmitglieder verlangt hatten, die Immunität des in der Schweiz nicht akkreditierten Opium-Prinzen aufzuheben um ein Drogen-Strafverfahren einzuleiten. Immerhin war Persien für die Schweiz damals der dritt wichtigste Handelspartner in Asien und überdies einer der größte Waffenkäufer.

1969/70 setzten helvetische Kriegsmaterial-Produzenten für über 90 Millionen Franken Waffensysteme im Iran ab. Dem prominenten St. Moritzer Wintersportler Resa zuliebe durfte der prominenteste Anti-Schah-Agitator, Bahman Nirumand, in der Schweiz damals auch nicht öffentlich reden. Im selben Jahr, als der Schah damals die schärfsten Drogenprohibitionsgesetze der Welt erliess, hob Mohammad Reza Pahlavi ein aus 1955 datiertes Pflanzverbot für Opium-Mohn wieder auf und schwang sich so auf den Thron der Mohnblumen-Bauern: 12000 Hektaren Mohnkulturen gehörten ihm und seiner Familie. Laut der WHO in Genf konnte das aus dem kaiserlichem Mohn gewonnene Heroin und Opium nur zum kleinsten Teil medizinisch verwendet werden. So war Persien neben Afghanistan und der Türkei die Drehscheiben für den illegalen Handel. Uno-Drogenfahnder vermerkten damals eine weitere Auffälligkeit: Derweil alle Länder, die von ihnen beschlagnahmten Drogen vernichtet hatten, wurden von den 18,4 Tonnen beschlagnahmten Drogen, im Iran lediglich 329 Kilo vernichtet, 152 Kilo gingen an den legalen Handel. der restlichen 17 Tonnen liess der Schah über seine diplomatischen Kuriere in die ganze Welt verteilen.

Der Verdacht, dass persische Diplomaten für die Devisenkasse ihres Kaisers Heroin und Opiate schmuggelten, war nicht erst seit der Huschang-Affäre in Genf aufgetaucht. 1961, als das Mohnpflanzen im Iran verboten war, sollen auch die Zwillings-schwestern des Schahs, Prinzessin Aschraf, auf dem Genfer Flughafen Cointrin mit einem randvollen Koffer Heroin ertappt worden sein. Nur ihre diplomatische Immunität, so die «National-Zeitung», habe sie vor Strafverfolgung bewahrt. Wie sieht die Situation  heute aus?

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Der mörderische Gottesstaat und General Qassam Soleimanis Exekution

Berlin, 2009: Demo gegen die Wahlen im Iran, das Regime und die Menschenrechtsverletzungen. © GMC

Was „zum Teufel“ den iranischen Botschafter in der Schweiz, Alireza Salari, veranlasst hat, mich zur diplomatischen Feier aus Anlass des 35. Jahrestages der iranischen Revolution in die Botschaft in Bern einzuladen, weiss ich nicht. Ich erwartete einen kurzen Medientermin inmitten einer Schar JournalistInnen und ein paar Worte „zur Lage der Nation“. Doch es kam anders, ich war der einzige Medienschaffende und Pressefotograf unter einer handverlesenen Auswahl Nicht-Staatsgäste. Alle anderen gut 150 geladenen Gäste waren Diplomaten, Spione oder beides. Noch interessanter wurde es, als auch der iranische Aussenminister Mohammed Dschawad Sarif in der iranischen Botschaft in Bern erschien und von Alireza Salari enthusiastischbegrüsst wurde. Die Schweiz und die iranische Botschaft in Bern, als auch die akkreditierten Vertreter bei den Vereinten Nationen in Genf spielten eine wichtige Rolle in der Weltpolitik bei den diplomatischen Beziehenung zwischen dem Iran und der USA.

Wie bei Kuba auch, dient und tritt die Schweiz als neutrales Land und Vermittlerin der diploma-tischen Interessen dieser Länder untereinander auf. Die Atom-Verhandlungen mit dem Iran fanden zu jener Zeit auch in Montreux statt. So gesehen sind die Schweiz und die «UNO» in Genf die Drehscheibe für die diplomatischen Beziehungen der USA zum Iran und zu Kuba. Daher möchte ich einen Strippenzieher der iranischen Aussenpolitik vorstellen und seine Fähigkeiten sowie seinen grossen Einfluss auf das Weltgeschehen anschauen. Die Rede ist von General Qassam Soleimani, der «Che Guevara» der iranischen Revolution, der inetwa auch so endete, wie sein berühmter kubanischer Vorgänger, der dieselbe Idee hatte und die kubanische Revolution nicht nur in alle Länder Lateinamerikas exportierte, sondern auch soweit ging, dass er auch kommunistische oder marxistische Länder in Afrika unterstützte.

General Qassam Soleimani, Teherans langjährige graue Eminenz, wurde 1998 von Chomenei zum Chef der «Khuz»-Brigaden ernannt und koordinierte die Angriffe auf die israelischen Besatzer vom Libanon aus, bis diese zwei Jahre später abzogen. Der Einmarsch Israels im Libanon ist rückblickend ein schwerer Fehler, weil er den Iran dazu befeuerte, im Liba-non die Hizbollah aufzubauen und im Irak mit shiitischen Milizen, die Sunniten anzugreifen, wie der damalige iranische Vize-Aussenminister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian sagt. Soleimani war auch der Schöpfer der «Widerstandsachse gegen den Imperialismus» und der langjährige Chefstratege bei der iranischen Aussenpolitik, die darauf abzielte, „die Imperialisten im Ausland zu beschäftigen, die shiitische Gemeinschaft im ganzen Nahen Osten zu vereinen und die Glaubensgemeinschaft gegen die sunnitischen Machtansprüche zu verteidigen“.

Insbesondere der acht jährige Irak-Krieg, der über eine Million Iraner das Leben kostete und der israelische Einmarsch im Libanon, prägten den unter den «Revolutionsgarden» und «Khuz»-Brigaden, einer Sondereinheit gross gewordenen Soleimani. Der Iran hat vom Zusammenbruch des Iraks und von den Folgen des Arabischen Frühlings profitiert und seinen Einfluss in der Region massiv ausgebaut. Teheran wird dabei von drei wesentlichen Interessen getrieben: die drei Komponenten der iranischen Aussenpolitik sind ideologische, geopolitische und sicherheitspolitische Strategien. Ideologisch sieht sich der Iran als Schutzmacht unterdrückter Muslime im Kontext einer revolutionären Widerstandsmacht gegen Israel und die USA. Geopolitisch zielt der Iran darauf ab, Saudi Arabien die Stirn zu bieten, um seinen Einfluss in der Region auszuweiten. Die Rivalität wird in Syrien oder im Jemen ausgetragen.  

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Artensterben & Pandemien: Werden wir das überleben?

One third of the world jeetah population is living in Namibia. © GMC/Gerd M. Müller

In diesem Kapitel möchte ich mich detailliert über die wissenschaftlichen Erkenntnisse des SOS-Zustandes von Mutter Erde infolge des Klimawandels und die Folgen für die Weltbevölkerung auslassen, da ich mich seit gut 30 Jahren damit befasse und weltweit die dramatischen Auswirkungen gesehen habe. Am meisten haben mich die indigenen Völker rund um den Erdball mit ihrem Naturverständnis beeindruckt. Sie sind es, die oft zu den ersten Leidtragenden und Vertrieben gehören. Aber auch die junge und die nächsten Generationen werden fassungslos erkennen müssen, dass wir im Konsumrausch nach der Ölkrise 1975 und vor allem seit Beginn der 90er Jahre fast so viel Gas, Kohle und Öl verfeuert haben, wie in einer Million Jahre Erdgeschichte zuvor nicht. Und das, obschon die Sonne seit je her 10’000 Mal mehr Energie auf die Erd-oberfläche schickt, als der Mensch braucht und die Menschheit trotz umweltwissenschaftlichen Erkenntnissen und seit den 50er Jahren verfügbaren Fotovoltaik politisch nicht zu folgen und schon gar nicht adäquat zu handeln vermag.

Zur Sprache kommen auch all die Verursacher, die Öl, Kohle- und Gasindustrie, die trotz besseren Wissens seit 50 Jahren mit milliarden-schweren Desinformations-Kampagnien ihre desaströse Daseinsberechtigung auf Kosten der Gesellschaft, Natur und Geo-sphäre legitimiert– leider bis heute mit Erfolg. Es ist nicht ausgeschlossen, dass mit dem grossen Artensterben auch unsere Spezies ausgerottet und der Mensch zur planetarischen Geschichte wird. Mehr als 2000 Milliarden Tonnen CO2 hat die Menschheit in die Erdatmosphäre gepustet. Es verbleiben noch 350 Mia. Tonnen CO2-Ausstoss, um das Klimaziel, die Erderwärmung auf 1,5 Grad zu beschränken und gut 1100 Tonnen um die Erwärmung auf zwei Grad zu begrenzen. Eine Analyse des Wissenschaftsmagazins «Nature» kommt zum Schluss, dass alle weltweit vorhandenen Anlagen im Laufe ihrer normalen Lebensdauer noch rund 700 Mia. Tonnen CO2 ausstossen werden. Also besteht wenig Hoffnung, dass wir über-haupt das Zwei Grad Ziel erreichen werden“, sagt auch Walter Rüegg, der 15 Jahre lang als Kern- und Teilchenphysiker an der «ETH» und dann 30 Jahre für «ABB» tätig war.

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Schmetterlingseffekt: Hedge Fonds sind die Treiber von Kriegen und Klimawandel

Viele schöne Worte – wenig konkrete Taten: Bonn, 28.05.08 Foto: v.l.n.r.: Srgjan KERIM, PräŠsident der UN-Vollversammlung, Bundeskanzlerin Angela MERKEL, Kanadas Premierminister Stephan Joseph HARPER, EU-PrŠsident Jose Manuel BARROSO und Umweltminister Sigmar GABRIEL

Gut 500 Firmen mit weit über 10‘000 Angestellten arbeiten in der Schweiz in der Rohstoffbranche, die mit March Rich ihren ersten berüchtigten Protagonisten hatte, der es zu zweifelhafter Berühmtheit brachte, als er zum ersten Mal in den 70er Jahren in die Schlagzeilen geriet. Der in Belgien geborene US Bürger sorgte dafür, dass der Rohstoffhandel in der Schweiz bedeutend wurde. Seine skrupellosen Öldeals mit Südafrika und dem Iran unter Umgehung internationaler Sanktionen wäh-rend der Apartheid verhalfen dem „Vater des Schweizer Erfolgsmodels“ zu immensem Reichtum und brachte ihn auf die Liste der meistgesuchten Verbrecher in den USA, bis Bill Clinton, der Gottvater der Neoliberalen ihn 2001 begnadigte. Wir erinnern uns, dass Clinton und Greenspan auch die Liberalisierung der Nahrungsmittel-Märkte vorantrieben und damit die Hedge-Fond Plage auslösten.

Zurück in die Schweiz. Hierzulande gehörten Christoph Blocher und Martin Ebner zu den skrupellosesten Liberalisierer in den 90er Jahren. Von den «Bloomberg» Journalisten Javier Blas und Jack Farchy wissen wir, dass Ebner zu den Rettern von Marc Richs Imperium gehörte und auch der «Glencore»-Chef Ivan Glasberg seine Sporen in Johannesburg in Südafrika abverdiente und viel von seinem Meister bei den illegalen Öl-Deals und der Umgehung von Sanktionen gelernt hat, auch wenn er in der Kohleabteilung tätig war. Tiefe Steuern, die zentrale Lage in Europa, der stabile Schweizer Franken und der Zugang zum internationalen Finanzsystem sowie die schwache Regulierung boten in den letzten Jahrzehnten in der Schweiz einen frucht-baren Boden für Unternehmen, welche die Ressourcen weltweit ausbeuten und kaum Steuern bezahlen. Aus «Glencore‘s» Umfeld gingen andere erfolgreiche Rohstoffhändler wie «Vitol» hervor, das dem Inselstaat Cuba zu Öldeals verhalf und dafür den Zucker zu günstigen Preisen abnahm, als Kuba zahlungsunfähig war.

Die Schweizer Rohstoffhändler kontrollieren fast 80 Prozent des weltweiten Handels und agieren skrupellos. Der Fall «Gunvor» im Kongo, die Machenschaften der «Credit Suisse» in Mosambik sowie die Geldwäscher-Affäre in Bulgarien zei-gen exemplarisch die Spitze des Eisbergs der Korruption. Der Bundesrat bestätigte zwar in einem Bericht „das grosse Kor-ruptionsrisiko“, tat aber nichts weiter, um die Bankenaufsicht zu stärken und die Geldwäscherei einzudämmen. Die Rohstoff-händler «Glencore», «Trafigura», «Vitol», «Mercuria» und «Gunvor» erhielten nach Recherchen von Public Eye von 2013 bis 2019 insgesamt 363,8 Milliarden US-Dollar an Krediten. «Public Eye» untersuchte auch die hochrisikoreichen Finanzin-strumente und -praktiken der Rohstoffhändler, die mittlerweile selbst als Banken fungieren, sich aber weitgehend der Finanz-kontrolle und der Banken- und Finanzaufsicht «finma» entziehen. «Gunvor» zahlte in den USA 164 Millionen Strafe für die Verfehlungen in Brasilien, Equador und Mexico. Es ist stossend, dass sich grosse Konzerne, Banken und Superreiche immer wieder mit lächerlichen Bussen freikaufen können, derweil andere für viel geringe Taten ins Gefängnis wandern.

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Südsee-Perlen 1996: An der Pforte zum Paradies

Sonnenuntergang im Südsee-Paradies Bora Bora. Sunset in the pacific island paradies Bora Bora. © GMC

Die Magie der Südsee hat schon viele Poeten ins Schwärmen gebracht. Der ganze Fundus abendländischer Poesie und Fantasie wurde ausgeschöpft um die Herrlichkeit Polynesiens und die sanftmütige Lebensart der Maori zu beschreiben. Ein Mosaik aus Licht und Farben umspielt die weit versprengten Inselkette. Wie leuchtend weisse Perlencolliers heben sich die schillernden, von smaragdgrüner Vegetation überzogenen und von kranzförmigen Riffen umsäumen Inseln von erst türkis, dann tief blauen Pazifischen Ozean ab. Weit über 2500 Atolle verlieren sich in der unbegrenzten Weite des Pazifischen Ozeans, der mit seinen 182 Millionen Quadratkilometern ein Drittel der Erdoberfläche verschlingt. Die Vulkaninseln und Korallenatolle begrenzen die Tiefe des Meeres, kehren dessen opulente Unterwasserpracht nach oben und entfalten die Schönheit der farbenprächtigen Korallengärten mit grosser Artenfülle und schirmen die oft nur wenige Meter über der Meeresoberfläche gelegenen Inseln gegen die Brandung ab. Tahiti, die «Insel der vielfarbigen Wasser» ist auch Symbol für den verklärten Mythos, der die Südsee wie ihr funkelndes Firmament mit zauberhaften Impressionen überziehen.

In der Südsee hat der Schöpfer einmal zeigen wollen, was er zu leisten vermag, hielt der Dichter Robert Brooke fest. Auch Gaugin geriet in einen malerisch impressionistischen Farben- und Sinnesrausch. Vor allem Moorea die keine halbe Stunde mit dem Katamoran von Papeete entfernt ist, wird von vielen ins Herz geschlossen. Gleich neben dem 900 Meter hoch aufragenden Mount Rotui liegt die berühmte Cook Bay. In der Tat kommt man nicht umhin, die Südsee in den schönsten Farben zu malen und in den höchsten Tönen zu loben. Angesichts der sanftmütigen und starken Ausstrahlung der Insulaner, ist man versucht ihre Welt zum Paradies auf Erden hochzustilisieren, wenn anmutige, kräftige Männer pfeilschnell mit ihren Kanus durch das Wasser rudern oder anmutige Geschöpfe unter den Kokospalmen, Mango-, Papaya-, Avocado- und Brotfruchtbäumen sitzen.

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Mauritius: Symphonie in Türkis und Weiss mit den weltbesten Spa-Resortsa

Unter Schatten spendenen Filaos am korallenweissen Sandstrand unter dem stahlblauen Himmel und die türkisblau schim-mernde Lagune vor Augen zu haben – solch paradiesische Ausblicke bietet Mauritius. Maler müsste man sein, denkt man, wenn man Mauritius zum ersten Mal sieht. Die Blauschattierungen des Meeres und des Himmels, die sich so klar vom Weiss der Strän-de abheben, nehmen einen gefangen. Dahinter das satte Grün von Wiesen, Palmen, Zuckerrohrplantagen und tropischer Vegetation. Die fruchtbare Vulkanerde lässt die herrlichsten Früchte gedeihen, zum Beispiel zuckersüsse Ananas, Mangos, Papayas oder Zimtäpfel. Was für eine Vielfallt an Farben. Das gleiche trifft auf die Mauritianer zu. Von Ebenholz schwarz über safrangelb bis perlweiss reichen die Farbschattierungen der mauritianischen Bevölkerung. Es ist ein buntes Völkergemisch, zwei Drittel der Insulaner sind Hindus, rund 180‘000 sind Araber, vorwiegend Sunniten. Auch leben hier auch noch einige zehntausend Chinesen, Hakkas und Weisse mehrheitlich französischer Herkunft. Die über 300‘000 Kreolen stammen von afrikanischen und madagassischen Sklaven, weissen Siedlern, indischen Landarbeitern und chinesischen Händlern ab. So vermischt sich asiatische Lebenskunst mit dem europäischen Kolonialerbe, das Ergebnis macht den Zauber dieses Inselraums aus und schlägt die Touristen in Bann.

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Australiens fantastische Naturparadiese und die dreckige Kohleindustrie

Australien: Ein Kukulanji Aborigines bläst ins Diggeridoo im Tjapukai Cultural Village nahe Cairns. A Kukulaji-Aborigines men plays the diggeridoo in the Tjapukai Village near Cairns.
Australien: Ein Kukulanji Aborigines bläst ins Diggeridoo im Tjapukai Cultural Village nahe Cairns. A Kukulaji-Aborigines men plays the diggeridoo in the Tjapukai Village near Cairns. © GMC/Gerd M. Müller

Fraser Island ist uralt und trägt die Ewigkeit von über 220 Millionen Jahre Evolutionsgeschichte auf dem Buckel. Seit zwei Millionen Jahren wird Sand auf die Insel angeschwemmt und angehäuft. Im Eiszeitalter wurde diese Landschaft geformt und in ihrer heutigen Prägung existiert sie seit ungefähr 6000 Jahren. Mit der Erwärmung des Klimas vor 140‘000 Jahren, tauchten dort auch die ersten Spuren der Aborigines auf, doch geht man davon aus, dass die Butschulla-Ureinwohner sich erst vor 20 Millionen Jahren auf «KGari» Island niederliessen, wie sei die Insel damals nannten. Der Reiz des Inselmikrokosmos sind die bis zu 240 Meter hohen Sanddünen, 120 Kilometer Strand, über 100 kristallklare Süsswasserseen, die sich zwischen Eukalyptuswäldern, Palmenhainen und einem Meer aus Farnen in der gigantischen Dünenlandschaft ausbreiten sowie eine grosse, geschützte Bucht, die Hervey Bay, welche den Buckelwalen zwischen August und Oktober einen geschützen Rückzugsort bietet. Das kristallklare Wasser des Lake Mc Kenzie lockt zum erfrischenden Bad ein. Sein von weissem Sand gesäumtes Ufer ist nicht nur ein beliebter Rastplatz nach dem Trip durch den Regenwald, auch die Dingos und Walabis (Mini-Kängurus) kommen hier zur Tränke. Die Dingos kommen aber auch wegen der prall gefüllten Provianttüten der Touristen. Da fällt manch ein feiner Happen für die Wildhunde ab.

Dann geht es weiter zum Lake Wabby, der diesseits von dichtem Regenwald umschlungen ist, während man am anderen Ufer von den beinahe in den Himmel ragenden Sanddünen herunterrollen und ins Wasser klatschen kann. Die gigantischen Süss-wasser-Reservoire bergen zusammen gerechnet zehn bis zwanzig Millionen Mega-Liter Frischwasser. Fraser Island ist uralt und trägt die Ewigkeit von über 220 Millionen Jahre Evolutionsgeschichte auf dem Buckel. Seit zwei Millionen Jahren wird Sand auf die Insel angeschwemmt und angehäuft. Im Eiszeitalter wurde diese Landschaft geformt und in ihrer heutigen Prägung existiert sie seit ungefähr 6000 Jahren. Mit der Erwärmung des Klimas vor 140‘000 Jahren, tauchten dort auch die ersten Spuren der Aborigines auf.

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Nicht weit der Stadt Cairns befindet das «Tapukjai Cultural Village», in dem die Besucher/innen der Kultur und den Gebräuchen der hiesigen Aborigines näher geführt werden. Fährt man der Küste entlang weiter nördlich, kommt man erst nach Palm Cove, ein kleines charmantes Nest, dann geht es nach Port Douglas weiter, wo die berühmte Thala Beach Lodge und die Daintree Forest Lodge situiert sind, letztere wurde mehrfach als umweltfreundlichste Unterkunft Australiens gekürt. Im Wawu-Jirakul Spa (was in der Sprache der Ureinwohner so viel wie «Reinigung des Geistes» bedeutet), werden die fünf Elemente Erde, Wasser, Feuer, Luft und Äther zu einem fantastischen Wellness-Cocktail inmitten eines Wasserfalls im Urwald zelebriert, der den Kuku Yalanji Aborigines als heiliger Reinigungskral und Brook Shields als Yoga Ort diente. Für die Spa-Behandlungen werden nebst ätherischen Ölen auch verschiedene Sandsteine verwendet, welche die Aborigines nicht nur für ihre Körperbemalung sondern auch als Nahrung dient. Ich staune, worauf der Aborigines mit mir um die Quelle herum läuft, an drei Stellen in die lehmige Erde greift und einen Abstrich auf mein nacktes Bein streicht. Sofort sehe ich dass der eine Streifen sandgelb, der zweite lehmgrau und der Dritte rötlich gefärbt ist. „Siehst du hier haben wir Zink, Kupfer und Kalzium mineralhaltige Schichten. Wenn du einmal keine Nahrung mehr hast“, meint er zu mir, „spülst du den Lehmbrei mit Wasser runter und kommst so zu Mineralstoffen“! Nicht schlecht, dachte ich, trotzdem möchte ich nicht in so eine Lage kommen, diesen Brei essen zu müssen.

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Opalsucher in Coober Pedy: Die Hoffnung lebt im Untergrund

Australia: The Opal miner city Coober Pedy cementary. © GMC/Gerd M. Müller

Zwischen Adelaide und Alice Springs irgendwo inmitten einer glühend heissen, unwirtlichen Mondlandschaft liegt das damals 5000 Seelen zählende Nest Coober Pedy, auch «Opal-Miner City» genannt. Die Bewohner leben in unterirdischen maulwurfartigen Bauten und verbringen auch den Tag unter der Erde, im Stollen, mit Dynamit bestückt, um weitere Spren-gungen vorzunehmen. Einblicke in das Leben der Opalschürfer in einem dynamitgeladenen Untergrund, angetrieben von der Hoffnung auf schnellen Reichtum und dem Risiko ausgesetzt, mausarm zu scheitern – echte Glücksucher also, aus allen Teilen der Erde sind hier bei ihrer gefährlichen Arbeit anzutreffen. Männer aus Albanien, Italien, Kroatien, Griechen, Serbien, Polen und auch Schweizer schürfen hier im heissen Outback nach den kostbaren Steinen. Einöde, sengende Hitze, jede Menge Staub und Geröll sowie Strapazen ohne Ende, nichts bleibt den Opalschürfern erspart. Vierfünftel der Bevöl-kerung lebt im Untergrund in den zu Wohnungen ausgebauten Stollen, die Licht- und Lüftungsschächte nach oben haben. Auch der Supermarkt, die Tankstelle und die Kirche sind im Untergrund. Noch Ende der 90er Jahre konnte man sich einfach einen «Claim» abstecken und zu bohren und sprengen beginnen. Glückspilze, die Coober Pedy als reiche Männer verlassen haben, gibt es nur wenige. Dafür ist der grosse Friedhof in dem Wüstennest ein beredtes Zeugnis. 

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Malediven 93: Erste Anzeichen des Klimawandels werden sichtbar

Klimawandel Malediven: Vom UNtergang bedrohtes Inselparadies
Klimawandel Malediven: Vom UNtergang bedrohtes Inselparadies. © GMC/Gerd M. Müller

Wie eine leuchtend weisse Perlenkette heben sich die knapp 1800 Korallenatolle vom tiefblauen Indischen Ozean ab. Ein Mosaik aus Licht und Farben umspielt die von Norden nach Süden über sieben Breitengrade hinweg versprengte Inselkette. Jedes dieser von smargdgrüner Vegetation überzogenen und mit türkisblauen Lagunen und kranzförmigen Riffen umsäumte Eilande, welche sich aus der Tiefe des Meeresbodens erheben und dessen opulente Unterwasserpracht nach oben kehren, sieht wieder etwas anders aus. Die Aussenriffe schirmen das oft nur wenige Zentimeter über die Wasseroberfläche heraus-ragende Atoll gegen die Brandung ab. Die farbenprächtigen Korallengärten beherbergten damals eine ungeheure Artenfülle. Eine Bilderbuchidylle von Meer, Sonne und Palmenstrand und abgeschiedener Inselromantik sowie ein Eldorado für Taucher als auch Wassersportler, erwartete mich auf der ersten Touristeninsel Ihuru. Die Schattenseiten dagegen sind: Ein fragiles Ökosystem, das nebst dem Antieg des Meeresspiegels insbesondere durch den Tourismus gefährdet ist. Ein Inselreich, das durch die globale Klimaerwärmung bereits in den frühen 90er Jahren sichtbar in seiner Existenz bedroht war und wohl unwiderruflich dem Untergang geweiht ist.

Hinzu kommen die Abfallberge, die die Touristen auf den Inseln und auf der nahe Male gelegenen Müllinsel zurücklassen, sind Zeugnisse der wachsenden Umweltverschmutzung und der Zerstörung fragiler Ökosysteme. Seit der Tourismus den Fischfang als Haupteinnahmequelle abgelöst hat, hat sich mit dem Touristenboom auch eine Müllflut über die Touristeninseln und die Korallengärten ergossen. Ausser Fisch, Kokosnüssen und Bananen müssen alle anderen Konsumgüter importiert werden. Der Spritverbrauch für den Transport der Güter zu den Touristeninseln verschlang damals schon viel Treibstoff und schlug sich an zweiter Stelle in der Importstatistik nieder.

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Im Reich der liebenden Hände bei den Top Ayurvedaresorts in Kerala

Buddhist monk and ayurvedic doctor showing old sanskrit letters in Galle-City, Sri Lanka. © Gerd Müller

Kein anderes medizinisches System der Welt weist ein derart allgemein gültiges, tief greifendes und ganzheitliches Reini-gunssystem auf, wie die uralte ayurvedische Pancha-Karma Kur. Wo gestresste Westler von östlicher Weisheit und medi-tativer Ruhe erfüllt wieder gesund werden und welches die besten Ayurveda-Jungbrunnen in Sri Lanka und Indien sind, darauf möchte ich hier näher eingehen. Langsam läuft das warme Kräuter-Sesamöl bei der Shirodhara-Behandlung in einem feinen Strahl über die Stirn. Hin und her, gleichmässig und beruhigend. Gut 20 Minuten lang. Die Alltagsgedanken lösen sich auf und geben Raum für eine wohltuende Leere. Die Aufmerksamkeit richtet sich nach innen. Tiefe Entspannung breitet sich in meinem Körper aus. Der Spiegel zur Seele öffnet sich, auch alte Erinnerungen tauchen aus der Tiefe auf des Bewusstseins auf.

Zwar fühlt man/frau sich bei den öligen Ayurveda-Massagen wie eine Ölsardine, doch gewöhnt man sich schnell daran und geniesst die wohltuenden Berührungen. Ein äusserst entspanntes Erlebnis ist die Synchronmassage, genannt Abhayanga, auch bekannt als die Massage der liebenden Hände. Dies beschreibt die Empfindung während der Massage sehr gut, denn von vier Händen synchron massiert zu werden, ist schöner als jede Liebkosung. Die sanften Handbewegungen massieren das Kräuteröl in die Haut ein, damit es die unteren Schichten des Gewebes erreicht, das Blut- und Nervensystem mit einbeziehen und die Gift- und Schlackstoffe isolieren um sie hernach ausscheiden zu können. Was vor tausenden vor Jahren in Nordin-dien entwickelt wurde, ist ein ganzheitliches Natursystem, das Körper, Geist und Seele als Einheit ansieht. Denn die Ayur-veda-Philosophie geht davon aus, dass alle Materie, so auch der Mensch, auf die fünf Elemente Erde, Luft, Wasser, Feuer, und Raum zurückzuführen. Aus der Verbindung bilden sich drei Grundkonstitutionen, die sogenannten Doshas, die man als essenziellen Bioenergien versteht.

Die Elemente Luft und Raum bilden das Vata-Dosha und stehen für das Lebensprinzip Bewegung. Es steuert die Bewegungsabläufe im Körper, die Atmung und das Nervensystem. Das zweite Dosha trägt den Namen Pitta und wird durch das Element Feuer dominiert. Die Pitta-Energie ist für alle Reaktionen zuständig, also für die Verdauungs- und Stoffwechselvorgänge. Die Elemente Erde und Wasser beeinflussen das dritte Dosha, das sogenannte Kapha. Ihre Energie ist strukturierend, formgebend und verantwortlich für den Zell- und Skelettaufbau als auch für die charakteristischen Eigenschaften. Nur wenn die Doshas im Gleichgewicht sind, sind Körper und Seele gesund.

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Cannabis: Die Prohibition hat nie funktioniert, das medizinische Potenzial wurde kastriert

Hempplants (Cannabis) withTHC (Tetrahydrocanabinol) and legal CDB (Cannabidiol), used for medical treatment, in a private garden. © GMC/Gerd M. Müller

Die Hanfpflanze und ihr medizinisches Potential hab das gleiche Schicksal erlitten, wie die Ayurveda Medizin. Auch sie wurde 50 Jahren verboten. Daher machen wir noch eine spirituelle Cannabis-Reise von den Hochkulturen indigener Völker bis zu den heutigen Niederungen, Irrungen und Wirrungen beim Drogengenuss, vertiefen uns dabei auf die internationale und staatliche Repressionsmaschine im Umgang mit psychoaktiven Substanzen und fokussieren auf die hiesige Drogenpolitik, die vor allem die Pharmaindustrie schützt und stützt, aber wenig mit Prävention und Volksgesundheit zu tun hat. Denn derweil die weltweit salonfähige Droge Alkohol, weit mehr Gesundheitsschäden und Tote fordert, wird die Hanfpflanze und der THC-Konsum noch immer stigmatisiert und sind in Nordeuropa verboten. Spanien und Portugal sowie die Tschechoslowakei haben die Gesetze gelockert und den Konsum im beschränkten Rahmen in sogenannten Social Clubs zugelassen. Nebst den USA und Kanada, die schon lange die Legalisierung vollzogen haben, folgt nun auch Mexico und weitere Länder.

Berthel und andere SuchterxpertInnen sind überzeugt, in einer freiheitlichen Gesellschaft brauchen Erwachsene keine «Le-bensführungs-BesserwisserInnen», das gelte auch für psychoaktive Substanzen aller Art. Verbote bringen nichts, eine ge-regelte Abgabe verbunden mit Sucht-Prävention sei der bessere Weg, ist Berthel überzeugt, «eine drogenfreie Gesellschaft eine Illusion». Zudem sei es nicht haltbar, eine Droge mit geringem Suchtpotential und wenig schädlichen Indikationen wie Cannabis zu verbieten, derweil eine Substanz mit einem so hohen Suchtpotential wie Alkohol blauäugig konsumiert werde. In diesem Punkt sind sich Berthel und der Pharmakopsychologe Boris Quednow, der an der Psychiatrischen Universitäts-klinik in Zürich zu Substanzkonsum und dessen Folgen forscht einig. Auch er ist der Meinung, dass der Konsum so bald wie möglich entkriminalisiert werde, «sonst bestrafe man die Schwerstbetroffenen weiterhin».

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Hempplants (Cannabis) withTHC (Tetrahydrocanabinol) and legal CDB (Cannabidiol), used for medical treatment, in a private garden. © GMC/Gerd M. Müller

Auf bei Typ-2-Diabeteskommt Cannabis zum Zug. Bestimmte Moleküle der Cannabispflanze können dazu beitragen, die Krankheit zu verhindern und zu therapieren. Bei Typ-1-Diabetes geht es sich um eine genetische Störung, bei der der Körper kein Insulin produzieren kann. Typ-2-Diabetes oder Diabetes mellitus kommt viel häufiger vor und tritt auf, wenn die Bauchspeicheldrüse, nicht genügend Insulin produziert. Ein in Grossbritannien entwickeltes Cannabismedikament, das die Notwendigkeit von Insulininjektionen bei Diabetes ausschaltet. Es zielt auf die Verwendung der Cannabinoide CBD und THCV (Tetrahydrocannabivarin) ab, die den Blutzuckerspiegel senken und die Insulinproduktion verbessern. THCV ist ein wirkungsvolles Cannabinoid und hat sich schon als Appetitzügler erwiesen. Die Cannabinoide CBD und THC verstärken sich wiederum gegenseitig in ihren therapeutischen Eigenschaften. Cannabigerol (CBG) ist wie Cannabidiol (CBD) ein nicht-psychoaktives Cannabinoid aus der Cannabispflanze. Dabei ist der CBG-Gehalt in der Regel in Indica-Sorten höher als in Sativa-Sorten und wirkt entzündungshemmend, antibakteriell, schmerzlindernd sowie augeninnendrucksenkend.

Forscher der «University of Barcelona» haben bewiesen, dass CBG ein partieller Agonist des Cannabinoidrezeptors 2 (CB2) und als Regulator der Endocannabinoid-Signale wirkt. Italienische Forscher belegten, dass Entzündungen und oxidativer Stress bei neurodegenerativen Erkrankungen wie Alzheimer, Parkinson und Multipler Sklerose eine zentrale Rolle spielt und fanden heraus, dass Cannabis auch neuroprotektive Wirkungen gegen Entzündungen und oxidativen Stress ausübt und so die neuronaler Zellen schützt. Forscher der «Uni-versidad Complutense» Madrid in Spanien untersuchten die Auswirkungen von CBG und identifizieren Gene, die mit der Huntington-Krankheit in Zusammenhang stehen (z. B. das Gamma-Aminobutter-säure-A-Rezeptors (GABA). Die Untersuchung wurde unter der Aufsicht von WissenschaftlerInnen aus 18 Ländern vorge-nommen wurde.

Das „Journal of Investigative Dermatology“ publizierte eine Studie, in der Mäuse mit Melanomen mit THC und CBD behandelt wurden und ein internationales Team von Forschern hat herausgefunden, dass diese Stoffe durch Apo-ptose und Autophagie zum Tod der Krebszellen führen. Unter dem Begriff Autophagie versteht man einen Prozess bei dem die Zelle sich selbst demontiert, um geschädigte Teile loszuwerden. Die Apoptose ist der natürliche Selbstmord der Zelle. Sie bricht auseinander und dann räumt das Immunsystem den Rest auf.

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Machtmonopol-Missbrauch & Medien-Misstrauen

Im Schlusskapitel möchte ich Sie noch auf eine zeitgenössische und futuristische Reise mitnehmen und mit Ihnen die Errungenschaften und Gefahren der Digitalisierung, die Glaubwürdigkeit der Medien und die disruptive Spaltung der Gesellschaft durch selbst ernannte Gurus, (a)soziale Fake-News und Filterblasen hinterfragen und reflektieren.

Rupert Murdoch ist einer der übelsten Strippenzieher bei der Spaltung der Gesellschaft in Grossbritannien und in den USA, er war ein Irak-Kriegstreiber und ist ein bekennender Klimaskeptiker wie Donald Trump. So unterstützten er und seine Me-dien nach dem Niedergang der Konservativen in Grossbritannien den Kurs der Regierung von Toni Blair, der ein Referen-dum über den Euro Beitritt Grossbritaniens im Wahlkampf 1997 versprach. Unter anderem wird Murdoch vorgeworfen, dass Fox TV und die 175 Zeitungen der «News Corporation» im Vorfeld des Irak-Krieges eine euroskeptische Grundhaltung eingenommen hätten.

«The Sun» und die 2011 eingestellte «News of the world» waren für ihre EU-kritische und antideutsche Haltung bekannt. «Fox TV» wurde immer wieder wegen einseitiger Parteinahme zugunsten der Regierung Bush kritisiert. 2007 räumte Murdoch in einem Interview am «World Economic Forum» in Davos öffentlich ein, dass er aktiv versucht habe, die öffentliche Meinung zu Gunsten George W. Bush Nahost-Politik zu beeinflussen. Murdoch war öfters bei Blair, als der britische Aussenminister oder andere Regierungsmitglieder in der heissen Phase und Debatte zum Kriegseintritt Grossbritanniens in Allianz mit den USA. Murdoch hat Blair dazu gedrängt sich auf die Seite der USA zu schlagen. Erst desa-vouirten Murdochs Boulevardmedien unter der Thatcher-Regierung alle Minister der Labour Regierung mit Schmutz-kampagnen und brachten so die Torries an die Macht.

Unter Cameron kam es dann zur Aufdeckung im gigantischen Abhörskandal der «News of the world“. Der Journalist Nick Davis hat 2009 hat die Hintergründe des Abhörskandals im «The Guardian» publiziert. Demzufolge wurden systematisch Hunderte von Politikern und Prominenten jahrelang ausspioniert, überwacht, erpresst oder bestochen. Vier britische Premier-minister wurden schliesslich zum «Leveson-Untersuchungsausschuss» eingeladen. Dort erfuhr man auch, dass Murdoch auch Nigel Farage von der «UKIP» dazu ermunterte, den Brexit weiter zu forcieren und es so geschafft hat, die britische Gesellschaft stark zu spalten. Murdoch stelle eine echte Gefahr für liberale Demokratien dar – ohne ihn hätte es keinen «Brexit» gegeben, sind sich Politiker und Politologen einig. Der «Brexit» war der Höhepunkt Murdochs Macht in Grossbritan-nien und mit «FOX NEWS» hat er Trump gross gemacht und zum Präsidenten befördert – nicht die Russen. Yvanka Trump verwaltete offenbar die Vermögen von Murdochs Töchtern – so kam der Kontakt zustande. Erst war Murdoch von Trump nicht begeistert, aber er erkannte Trumps Potential für seine Zwecke. Das Treffen der Stammeshäuptlinge fand 2006 in Schottland auf dem Golfplatz statt. Dort entschied Rupert sich für Trump statt für Hillary Clinton. Der Rest ist Geschichte. Trump wäre ohne «Fox News» nie Präsident geworden, soviel steht fest. Murdoch ist direkt verantwortlich für die politische Verseuchung der Medien und damit die Verseuchung der Gesellschaft.

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Mensch oder Maschine – wer ist überlegen? Wer trifft die Entscheidungen?

Ein Beispiel von Big Data im militärischen Einsatz mit tödlichen Irrtümern und Konsequenze: Ende August 1988, als der neun jährige Krieg zwischen dem Iran und dem Irak zu Ende geht, wurden zivile Öltanker am Persischen Golf angegriffen. Nach der Bitte Kuweits an die USA um Geleitschutz, begannen die amerikanischen Truppen Tankereskorten einzusetzen. Vor Ort war auch der US Kreuzer «USS Vincennes», der über ein vollständiges Luftabwehrsystem aus damals modernsten Radars, umfangreicher Luftabwehrbewaffnung und Luftaufklärungszentrale verfügte. Im «Combat Information Center» (CIC) laufen alle Fäden zusammen. Das High Tech Radar System «Aegis» hat die Aufgabe, komplexe Luftkämpfe mit bis zu 200 Flugzeugen in Echtzeit auszuwerten und eine grosse Anzahl Bedrohungen einzusortieren, sei es durch Boden-Raketen oder zur Erkennung feindlicher Flugzeuge, deren Bewaffnung, Kurs und weitere Details.

Gerade als die «USS Vincennes» von einem feindlichen Boot am 3. Juli 1988 angegriffen wurde, tauchte auch ein Flugobjekt am Himmel auf, das vom Iran ausgestartet war. Zur Identifikation der Flugzeuge werden Handbücher mit zivilen Flugplänen und die «IFF Codes» konsultiert. «IFF» steht für «Identification, Friend or Foe». Was sich dann abspielte ist eine Abfolge von Chaos, Software-Proble-men und Desinformation, die zu einem der tragischsten Flugverkehrsunglücke führte, bei dem 298 Menschen starben. Um 10.17 hatte Kapitän Mohsen Rezaian den kurzen Routine-Flug von Bandar Abbas nach Dubai gestartet mit 290 Mekka-Pilgern an Bord. Die nur 120 Meilen Flugstrecke erforderten einen kurzen Anstieg des Airbus 320.

Zum Verhängnis wurde dem Flug der Iran Air 655 wohl, dass am Tag zuvor aufgrund der militärischen Luftaufklärung auch Militärmaschinen auf dem Flughafen Bandar Abbas gelandet waren. Als der weisse Punkt auf dem Radar der «US Vincennes» auftaucht und die Verkehrsmaschine nicht auf die Warnungen des US-Marine-Officers hörte und das «Aegis»-System das Flugzeug irrtüm-licherweise als ein «IFF Model II», also einen Kampfjet einstufte, eskalierte die Situation. Da auch ein Feuerleitstrahl die iranische Maschine nicht zum Abdrehen bewog, kam es zum Abschuss und über 290 Menschen verloren ihr Leben. Was war die Ursache für die katastrophale Fehleinschätzung, die Kapitän Rodgers zum Feuerbefehl veranlassten?

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Ein weiteres Beispiel aus den Tragödien der Luftfahrtsgeschichte und dem Konflikt zwischen Mensch und Maschine bei der Kollision zweier Flugzeuge bei Überlingen am Bodensee am 1. Juli 2002, bei der die Boing auf ihrem Weg nach Brüssel mit der russischen Tupolew der Bashkirian Airlines 2937 auf dem Weg nach Barcelona in der Bodenseeregion zusammensties-sen. Dieses Luftverkehrsunglück wurde aber mitunter von einem Schweizer Lotsen verursacht, der dafür mit seinem Leben zahlt, da der Vater einer getöteten Tochter Rache nahm und den Fluglotsen ermordete. Zurück zum Unfallhergang: Als der Sicherheitsabstand der beiden Flugzeuge gefährlich gering wurde, verarbeiteten beide Flugobjekte mit dem Traffic Alert and Collison Avoidance System «TCAS», die Daten des Kontaktes, wie Kurs und Geschwindigkeit und warnten ihre Besat-zungen. Während das System des russischen Piloten, Alexander Gross, anweist, zu steigen, erhält der britische Pilot Paul Philipps die Anweisung zu sinken, was er auch sofort befolgt. Erst jetzt schaltet sich der Fluglotse von «Skyguide» in Zürich zu und es kommt zu einem Mensch-Maschine Entscheidungskonflikt und folgenschweren Eingreifen eines Menschen.

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Verkehrte Welt: Whistleblower werden bestraft und gefoltert, die Massenmörder laufen frei rum

Zum Schluss noch ein Abstecher in die politischen Abgründe und die Rolle und das Schicksal von Whistleblowern. Vor 20 Jahren fanden die Terrorattacken vom 11. September auf die Twin Towers des «World Trade Centers» in New York statt. Diese veränderten die Welt grundlegend und der «War on Terror» löste den “Kalten Krieg” mit der Sowjetunion ab, wobei die NATO Bündnispartner sich sofort mit bedingungsloser Solidarität den USA anschlossen und zum ersten Mal in der Nato-Geschichte den Bündnisfall ausrief. Nach dem Zusammenbruch der Sowjetunion stand der US-Sicherheitsapparat ohne nennenswerten Feind da.

Der «War on Terror» hat der Kriegsmaschinerie wieder kräftig Auftrieb verliehen und grosse Militär-Budgets beschert, die Rüstungskonzerne haben noch mehr davon profitiert. Der Krieg im Irak und in Afghanistan waren die Folgen und Europa hat munter mitgemacht – auch im Wissen um die Foltergefängnisse der USA in Afghanistan, im Irak, im Ostblock und auf Guantanamo. Bei den US-Entführungs- und Folterflügen hat auch die Schweiz mitgeholfen und humanitär gesehen eine katastrophale kollaborative Rolle gespielt. Deutschland steht nicht besser da und die Briten machen sowieso was die Amis wollen. Auch wir Schweizer sind Schosshündchen der Vereinigten Staaten und kuschen auf allen Ebenen. Zudem sind wir auch die europäische, um nicht zusagen globale Geheimdienst-Operations-Drehscheibe mit all den inter-nationalen Organisationen und den vielen Oligarchen, Steuerhinterziehern und Mafiosis die hier leben und arbeiten. Sie alle lieben die Schweiz, nicht nur der schönen Berge wegen.

Da es international keine völkerrechtlich anerkannte Definition von Terrorismus gibt, haben die Staaten den Begriff immer weiter ausgedehnt, den Sicherheitsapparat zu einem Präventivüberwachungsstaat hochgefahren und aufgebläht und mittlerweile ist jeder und jede eine verdächtige Person. Unter Terrorismus fallen heute Delikte, die nichts mit politischer, um-stürzlerischer Gewalt zu tun haben. So auch im neuen «Schweizer Polizeimassnahmengesetz» (PMT), das einem schon sehr zu denken gibt, weil in dem Gesetz schon die Verbreitung von Furcht und Schrecken als «Terror» gilt. Im Strafrecht hat suk-kzessive eine Verschiebung in den präventiven und damit in den privaten Bereich stattgefunden.

Die vorsorgliche Überwachung hat dramatisch und unverhältnismässig zugenommen. Nach 2015 beschloss auch die Schweiz eine Anti-Terror-Strategie und verschärfte das Nachrichtendienstgesetz, wobei nun zwangsrechtliche Massnahmen aufgrund von Vermu-tungen, vagen Indizien und genauso undurchsichtigen Algorithmen bei der Rasterfahndung zulässig sind. Da frage ich mich doch glatt, wo sind da all die Freiheits-Trychler, die innerschweizer Urgesteine, SVP-Corona-Leugner und Verschwörungs-theoretiker geblieben sind, als unsere Grundrechte seit zwei Jahrzehnten laufend beschnitten wurden und die Bevölkerung alle Verschärfungen und Einschränkungen abgenickt hat. Ein Trauerspiel und eine Heuchelei sondergleichen.

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Dank mutigen Whistleblower, wie Wikileaks-Gründer Julian Assange, oder Edward Snoden oder Investigativ-JournalistIn-nen und Recherche-Netzwerken wie «Bellingcam» oder «correctiv» kommen so einige Schweinereien von Despoten, korrupten Politikern, Militäroperationen, Überwachungsmassnahmen und Wirtschaftsdelikte ans Tageslicht. Zum Glück sollte man meinen. Doch weit gefehlt. „Julian Assange hat Beweise für schwerste staatlich sanktionierte Verbrechen erbracht, wie Folter und Massenmord“, sagt kein Geringerer als der UN-Sonderberichterstatter Nils Melzer in seinem Buch «Der Fall Julian Assange – Geschichte einer Verfolgung». Offenbar hat Melzers in der equadorianischen Botschaft im April 2019 angekündigter Besuch zur Untersuchung angeblicher Menschenrechtsverletzungen dazu geführt, dass die drei involvierten Staaten in einer dreitägigen koordinierten Blitzaktion es ermöglicht haben, dass Assange an die britische Polizei aus-geliefert wurde und seither wieder in Haft sitzt. Erst habe ihm die equadorianische Botschaft den Asylstatus und die Staats-bürgerschaft ohne rechtsstaatliches Verfahren entzogen, gleichzeitig hat die britische Regierung von den US-Behörden ein Auslieferungsgesuch erhalten und daraufhin wurde Assange der britischen Polizei übergeben. Davor hielt er sich sieben Jahre lang im Asyl in der ecuadorianischen Botschaft auf, um der Auslieferung an die USA via Schweden zu entgehen.

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„Dass derjenige, der Massenmörder und Folterverbrechen gegen die Menschlichkeit aufgedeckt habe, nun selbst als Verbrecher für 175 Jahre ins Gefängnis soll, derweil kein einziges Verbrechen gesühnt oder die Verantwortlichen bestraft seien worden“, sei übel für Europa, fährt Melzer fort. „Ich hielt es zuerst nicht für möglich, dass Schweden oder Grossbritannien die Menschenrechte derart missachten. Aber wenn es ums Eingemachte geht, funktioniert der Rechtsstaat auch bei uns in Europa nicht mehr. Assange ist sozusagen „die Leiche im Keller des selbstgerechten Westens.“ Das habe ihn (Melzer) schon erschüttert, obschon er ja als IKRK-Delegierter einiges erlebt und gesehen habe. Auch das Verfahren in Schweden wegen angeblicher Verge-waltigung an und anderer Sexualdelikte sei eingestellt worden, nachdem Meltzer der Schwedischen Regierung einen Brief geschrieben und sie auf rund 50 zum Teil schwerste Verfahrensverletzungen hingewiesen hatte. Auf die Frage, ob dies auch in der Schweiz passieren könne, lautet die Antwort des UN-Sonderberichterstatters: „Durchaus.“ Er müsse auch hierzulande regelmässig auf massive Behörden-Kollusion zugehen.

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Schmetterlingseffekt: Hedge Fonds sind die Treiber von Kriegen und Klimawandel

Seien wir uns bewusst, die Finanzmärkte stehen im Zentrum der neoliberalen Wirtschaft, sie bestimmen weltweit die Preise für Rohstoffe und Lebensmittel und sie diktieren das Geschehen rund um den Globus. Hedge-Fonds sind der Fluch des Nahrungs-, Wasser- und Rohstoff-Kapitalismus in Reinkultur. Schauen wir uns dies einmal näher an: 2008 stiegen die Preise für Lebensmittel und Rohstoffe stark an, obschon sich die Welt nach der Finanzkrise in einer Rezession befand. Das zeigt, dass die Preise aufgrund von Spekulationen und nicht aufgrund einer erhöhten Nachfrage gestiegen sind. Was in den 80er Jahren mit Thatchers und Reagans Neoliberalismus begann und als Flügelschlag eines Schmetterlings an der Wallstreet 2010 bekannt wurde, führte fortan zu Aufständen, Kriegen und weltweiten Flüchtlingskrisen. Den Flügelschlag lösten der damalige Präsident Bill Clinton und der Nationalbankpräsident Alan Greenspan mit dem «Commodity Modernisation Act» aus, d.h. mit der Liberalisierung der seit den 30er Jahren strikt regulierten Märkten und einer begrenzten Anzahl von Spekulanten. Doch von da an, konnte jeder unbegrenzt mit Rohstoffen und Lebensmitteln spekulieren, worauf die Finanzmärkte Blut leckten und die Wallstreet und Hedge-Fonds das Geschehen fortan auf übelste Art und Weise diktierten.

Diese Spekulationen und die Entwicklung in den Ölstaaten hatten zudem noch weitreichendere Folgen. Durch den enormen Kursanstieg der Petrodollars kamen Russland und Saudi Arabien aber auch Venezuela zu immensem Reichtum und vergrösserten ihre Militärbudgets und Polizeikräfte entweder zur Unterdrückung von Revolten im eigenen Land oder für weitere Offensiven, wie Russland in Syrien, in der Ukraine und zuletzt auf der Krim. Im Falle von Saudi Arabien kam es zu kriegerischen Zuspitzung in Jemen und in vielen weiteren Regionen im Konflikt zwischen Schiiten und Sunniten, derweil der Iran, den Nahen Osten auf seine Weise infiltrierte und mit seinen kruden Ideologien, Waffen und Kämpfern vollpumpte. Der Anstieg des Ölpreises war auch der Anfang des Verderbens für Venezuela, das letzlich am Ressourcen-Fluch zu Grunde ging. Die Spekulanten waren auch hier letztlich Auslöser und verantwortlich für die Flüchtlingsströme von Lateinamerika in die USA und von Afrika und dem Orient nach Europa.

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Gut 500 Firmen mit weit über 10‘000 Angestellten arbeiten in der Schweiz in der Rohstoffbranche, die mit March Rich ihren ersten berüchtigten Protagonisten hatte, der es zu zweifelhafter Berühmtheit brachte, als er zum erstenmal in den 70er Jahren in die Schlagzeilen geriet. Der in Belgien geborene US Bürger sorgte dafür, dass der Rohstoffhandel in der Schweiz bedeu-tend wurde. Seine skrupellosen Öldeals mit Südafrika und dem Iran unter Umgehung internationaler Sanktionen während der Apardheit verhalfen dem „Vater des Schweizer Erfolgsmodels“ zu immensem Reichtum und brachte ihn auf die Liste der meistgesuchten Verbrecher in den USA, bis Bill Clinton ihn 2001 begnadigte. Wir erinnern uns, dass Clinton und Greenspan auch die Liberaliserung der Nahrungsmittel-Märkte vorantrieben und damit die Hedge-Fond Plage auslösten. In die Schweiz gehörten Christoph Blocher und Martin Ebner zu den skrupellosesten Liberalisierer in den 90er Jahren. Von den «Bloomberg» Journalisten Javier Blas und Jack Farchy wissen wir, dass Ebner zu den Rettern von Marc Richs Imperium gehörte und auch der «Glencore»-Chef Ivan Glasberg seine Sporen in Johannesburg in Südafrika abverdiente.

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HIGHLIGHTS OF A WILD LIFE

Zürich-City: Nelson Mandela’s speach on his first foreign visit in Switzerland after elected as president and for the nobel prize at the Dolder Hotel in front of the swiss economy-elite

A book introduction from Gerd M. Müller

TABLE OF CONTENTS

1. The youth riots and political scandals in the 80s              

Legal, illegal, we don’t give a shit about it                                                     

Yearly hundreds died of the heroin abuse                                                                

In the swirl of Swiss political scandals  

 Switzerland as an apartheid accomplice of the Boers                                                                             

2. Internationalization and politicization (86/87)     

Africa 86 : Between the fronts of Senegal and Guinea Bissau

Warsaw 86 : In Pole position behind the iron curtain of the East Bloc             

London 87 : The first contacts with «ANC» exiles                                                     

3. South Africa 87 : In the underground fighting against apartheid                             

93: Mandela’s release and his visit to Switzerland

93/94: ICRC operations in the „ANC-IFP“ civil war

2011: Gadaffi’s billions in Zuma’s hands in hiding

2017: Gupta Leaks: How Indian kleptocrats looted South Africa thanks to Zuma

Botswana: Roaming the Kalahari with the Khoi-San

Africa: Pioneering wildlife and eco-projects in focus

Kenya 2008: ICRC mission after ethnic unrest in the Rift Valley

Namibia 2013: Development aid, HIV schools and in the realm of the cheetahs  

The dark chapter of Germany: genocide, slavery, land theft, rape

4. Cuba, Caribbean Carnival and US Invaders 

Mexico 84: Empire inspired by gods, populated by gods

Mexico 94: Witnessing the Zapatista indigenous uprisings in Chiapas  

Cuba 93-13: Eyewitness to the idealists who feed on hope

Caribbean Sailing Trips: Love of Life & Protest to the Sounds of Calypso

Grenada 92: Breakfast on the aircraft carrier „US John Rodgers

Colombia 97: Hell trip in the service of Swissair

French Guyana 89/05: From the jungle straight into space

Salvador de Bahia 2002: In the witch’s cauldron of magical slave energy

Amazon Cruise with scientists: Species extinction through overexploitation

5. Asian highlights and desasters                                      

Sri Lanka 92: The Pearl of the Orient after the Civil War

Maldives 93: First signs of climate change in a sinking island paradise

Borneo 96: Walk with handicapped Orang Utan in the rain forest

Malaysia &Indonesia: Dramatic deforestation and species extinction accepted    

1996: Bali, Lombok and the Gili-.islands

Philippines 95: On the trail of spiritual healers who open bodies with their bare hands       

Vietnam 93: developed faster than a Polaroid photo

2013: River cruise through Laos in the north and the Mekong Delta.

Magical Mekong Delta Cruise through the meanders of 4000 islands

India 96/13: with the Ayurveda pioneers and

Gujarat 2013: meeting Narenda Moodi in Ahmedabad      

6 . Orient: In Sinai, Lebanon and in the Iranian embassy

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

Lebanon 2006: In the Palestinian refugee camp „Shatila“ and near Hezbollah

Iran 1970s: The Persian poppy shah and his diplomatic drug princes

The Murderous God State, the Embassy in Bern and Qassam Soleimani’s Execution

Comoros: The perfume islands emerge from obscurity

7. climate horror journey into the unknown: How do we meet the epochal challenge?

Species extinctions & pandemics: Will we survive?

 End times: The sixth mass extinction has begun, will we go down with it?

The droughts in Europe are homemade EU agricultural subsidy policy

Without a radical paradigm shift, we are digging our own grave

Butterfly effects: Hedge funds potentiate wars and climate change

8. Spiritual journeys with ayurveda & cannabis medicine

Ayurvedic medicine: In the realm of loving hands

Canabis prohibition has never worked, medical potential neutered

Good for Alzheimer’s, diabetes type2, multiple sclerosis and parkionson

Hemp is one of the most valuable and versatile crops. A brief overview

9 . Australia, Aborigines and South Sea Highlights   

Australia’s paradisiacal natural paradises and the dirty coal industry

Hope lives underground: Opal seekers in Coober Pedy

South Sea Pearls 96: Bora Bora, Huhine, Moorea, Tetiaroa

10. (A)social media, Big Data, AI, whistleblowers and disruptive media moguls.

Critically examine the role of all media and sources and draw consequences

The curse of Big Data and our willful negligence in using it

Man or machine: who takes command?

Upside-down world: whistleblowers are tortured, mass murderers walk free.

About the Author / Acknowledgements / List of Sources

FOREWORD

The author, Gerd Michael Müller, born in Zürich in 1962, traveled as a photo-journalist to more than 50 nations and lived in seven countries, including in the underground in South Africa during apartheid. In the 80 years he was a political activist at the youth riots in Zürich. Then he was involved in pioneering Wildlife & eco projects in Southern Africa and humanitarian projects elsewhere in the world. As early as 1993, Müller reported on the global climate change and in 1999 he founded the «Tourism & Environment Forum Switzerland». Through his humanitarian missions he got to know Nelson Mandela, the Dalai Lama and other figures of light. His book is an exciting mixture of political thriller, crazy social stories and travel reports – the highlights of his adventurous, wild nomadic life for reportage photography .

(please note that translation corrections are still in progress and images will follow soon)

1. «Turbulent times»: The youth riots in the 80s

1980 was the year that would shake up the society in Switzerland and plow up over the course of the 80’s. In May of the same year the youth riots in Zürich began. The trigger for that eruption, was the dissatisfaction of the youth with the situation, that no free space was available for young people. This manifested itself most obviously of the upcoming vote on a subsidy contribution of 60 million francs to the Opera House and the Establishment. In return there where not even 10’000 Swiss Francs left for the «Red Factory», at this time the only youth culture center in Zürich City.

In the 70/80th the curfew for everyone in a bar or restaurant was midnight. Half an hour later everyone had to be at home. The leisure variete and cultural offer stopped within narrow limits. There was absolutely no place for teenagers. Only one or two leisure centers existed, focusing on sports. TV, radio, nightlife were completely boring. Good music or films were absolutely rare. Then video stores and the «Walkmen» came up and changed the music world. But still without cell phones, laptops, PC’s, social media and so on, life was as dreary as with the Corona Lockdowns, simply even without internet, digital media and smartphones. No wonder that the youth scene has been simmering for a long time. And suddenly the power erupted, which shook the society not only in Switzerland but throughout Europe. After the 68’s came the next anarchist and youth revolt arrived.

In Switzerland it was gray and dreary in every way at this time. The population persisted in their staid, conservative corset. The dreariness was widespread in Europe. The Vietnam War and the «Cold War“, the wall that divided Germany and the threat from the communists, which became more and more brutal and grotesque. First the extensive napalm bombing from US Soldiers on the civilian population in Vietnam and Cambodia. The „Clockwork Orange“ defoliation campaigns, the horrific images of burning people and children, all the mutilated dead and the prison camps.

Inexplicable of this war of extermination was also, that for decades the war was not approved or dclared by US Congress, but financed from the «CIA» budget. And the «CIA» paid the costs of the bombing by loading tons of opium into empty bomb planes in the Golden Triangle and flew it straight to Mexico, where the opium was processed into heroin. So America has brought the heroin flood to the front door of its own country and the Mexicans got the desaster with the drug kartells. In this kafkaesque operation, the «CIA» definitely lost the «I» completely.

Through the «Cold War» was the nuclear threat should, and not least the danger of the nuclear power plants themselves. At that time Switzerland wanted to become a nuclear power state. As part of this absurd intention in January 1969 it came to a nuclear reactor accident in Lucens in the Canton of Vaud. And later the Tinner brothers proved that you can also export the nuclear know-how to other states. Switzerland provided not only Pakistan but also South Africa with nuclear know-how.

When the cooling system of an experimental reactor at Lucens nuclear power plant (VAKL) in the canton of Vaud failed, there was a partial core meltdown in the reactor. In May, the reactor was put into operation, but soon shut up again. During this standstill, water ran into the reactor’s cooling circuit via a defective fan seal. The magnesium fuel rod cladding tubes corroded. When the reactor was put back into operation in January 1969, the corrosion products hindered cooling. The fuel overheated, melted fuel rods and got on fire. That bursted the moderator tank. In this process, 1100 kg of heavy water with melted radioactive material and carbon dioxide (coolant) were hurled into the reactor cavern.

But back to Zürich with a glance at the local situation in april 1980: Even in the run-up to the vote for the opera house loan, the annual three-day festival at the «Allmend» with open air concerts, flyers for a demo were distributed and youth centers were requested from speakers on stage. On this warm and wonderful weekend the importance of the rising hippy movement occured to me. Of course, almost all people smoked pot on the premises. Some of them also had an LSD trip and the mood was terrific. The music was rock, punk and trimmed for rebellion. After all, the subculture among young people has been simmering since the 68s. That power sound came just at the right time.

By chance, I past on this Saturday afternoon May 30, 1980 with the tram at the Zurich Opera House exactly at that time, where Hundreds of police officers suddenly appeared from inside of the opera towards the demonstrators blocked the entrance lying on the ground (the so-called «cultural dead bodies») and hit the people brutually. They stepped on women and men equally. These brutal scenes took my breath away and made my stomach explode. Once I got off the tram, as already burned the first container and the skirmishes with the police began.

As the police came out with full force, tear gas and rubber bullets shooting around, the situation escalated within a few hours, since at this early Saturday evening many young people in the follow Bob Marley concert were the Hallenstadion and then poured into the city center. Many spontaneously took part in the protests, which had already turned into veritable street battles. From then on, the police had nothing under control for three or four days and the street fighting erupted with full force.

The canton police station on the Limmatquai was surrounded by protesters, two of the police vehicles burned out completely. The entrance to the town hall also looked bad. The city air in the low village was pregnant with be issenden tear gas smoke, dense, than London in November mists. The extent of the destruction was just as unbelievable as the impotence of the security forces when the frustration of the young people and old 68ers, which had been pent up for years, turned into sheer anger, spurred on by the violence of the security forces during the peaceful opera house protest, with which the demonstrators the opera house visitors wanted to show a one-sided subsidy policy.

The first riot Eight followed some more battles over this s year in which the „The movement“ the autonomous each Wednesday’s in the popular assemblies (‚VV’s“) in the People’s House or time on the court Spitz was formed. Every Saturday were demonstrations announced. Regularly the shops in the old town barricaded their shop windows, because the protests continue recordings momentum and all the way to large demonstrations with almost 20’000 people were formed. The young people’s demand was plain and simple: „An autonomous youth center!” , An “AJZ” is needed ! Namely „subito!“

On July 15, 1980, one of the biggest scandals in the history of Swiss television was to take place on the program “CH-Magazin” and the number one topic of conversation in the country was to be debated. (The Zurich youth riots that had fallen with such violence on the honest country who beat waves to the Hudson River and were also from the „New York Times“ taken up. The two televised a loaded representatives / inside the youth movement, Mr and Mrs Müller, let the two city representatives, in conversation with City Councilor Emillie Lieberherr and the police commander with their parody .

The protagonists of the youth movement, „Mr. and Mrs. Smith“, returned n the tables namely to and presented n as a stock conservative pair that politics downright outrageous to inviting, with full force against those „riot technicians“ to proceed. Much larger and harder bullets, for example from Northern Ireland, are an option. The use of napalm must also be discussed. At s onst s it would also with an em ‚ ticket to Moscow „without a return ticket done. First was I stunned and bewildered, my ears did not trust, but then quickly understood the point of the ka fkaesken appearance, the S witzerland far for e ntrüstung and made headlines . „Châpeau, well done, compatriots!“

The exuberant creativity of the „Mov ig “ and their activists culminated in another media coup. When the daily announcer Leon Huber left the news , two masked men suddenly held the sign “Freedom for Georgio Bellini” in front of his chest and into the camera. And disappeared unrecognized.

Then there was still the nude demo s , even this is a previously unthinkable event in the stuffy Zürich, a city on was hard to beat prudery, a Zürich with a curfew from midnight and a very conservative cultural and musical corset. There were no places for young people and their music where they could have met without being forced to consume . It has been seething under the concrete ceiling of this self-satisfied city since 1968 .

Legal? Illegal? Does it matter?

Then, when after months of protests finally the „AJZ“ (Autome s Youth Center Zürich) rose in today’s Car-parking in an old factory plant, the whole creative potential that lay dormant for so long in secret erupted. That was a radical boost for the battered city Indians. Autonomous groups sprout from every hole in the shared apartment, the hippies now unrestrainedly lived their cult and their music in public. At least in the „AJZ“ – an area that is in fact lawless but with massive police surveillance by informers. The Zurich Police Corps was at that time „subito“ to about 30 people just to monitor the „movement“ increased. Moreover, e was in far from larger recruited army of spies to the Hippi monitor scene and all other subversive elements. And there were many.

Admittedly, after all the repression and draconian punishments, the youth’s sayings became more radical. “Power out of the state, cucumber salad” was just one of the unmistakable slogans that were emblazoned on the walls and chanted at the demos. That was already „treason“ at that time and so we were put on the level of terrorists and optionally presented as communists, Maoists or Palestine sympathizers.

The State went with full force on the activists Inne n go and activists. There was in the education system , in administration and in parts of the economy collusion on work and training bans on the „left“ in Serving opportunities such as teachers and educators , pilots, engineers and so on . Auch military service objectors were closed many doors training and denied some activities. U nd then there were also many violations and excessive violence by the police.

One of my friends lost an eye by a rubber bullet. My friend Lena dragged her hair around and her face was badly bruised. I was also arrested once with 300 other people and treated illegally during the 24 hours of pre-trial detention.

Even more spectacular guerrilla actions showed us that humility and respect for authority at eroding was.“ Underground” bars and illegal clubs shot up like mushrooms on the withered Zürich soil. G was ekifft anywhere outdoors and parks circling the joints and bongs and the police did not come to more , to intervene everywhere . The Marihuanna euphoria“ and the scent of freedom was en simply too big and the sweet grass smell suffused the exhaust and diesel smell far. Freedom has never been more lively , greater and more diverse than in the 80s, a time that I call the “ zenith of the last and this millennium” .

On the shores of Lake Zurich, topless bathing was widespread and women enjoyed the freedom to live out the joys and independence that the pill and thus contraception gave them to the full, which is also reflected in uninhibited sexuality and polygamy or in form of gay and trans parties. Back then it was not a crime among us and neither women nor men frowned upon to have sex with dozens of partners and to try out different partnership models over the course of a year . „Sex, Drugs & Rock & Roll“ or rather “ Amore et Anarchia“. What would you like to order?

Any kind of restriction was rejected, Hedoni sm us was our goal and the time of the birds of paradise began. We wanted to experiment without restrictions and try out free love, while unmarried couples were not even allowed to live together. Such a prude was Zurich and Switzerland as a whole at the time. All the more amazing is that the girls melted away like ice cream or even the scepter took over , flirted violently and a “ One Night “ were stand out . In any case, back then as a young man you were sometimes turned on unrestrainedly by women who only had one goal. m it to share the bed and try all kinds of things to you. A time that is as aphrodisiac as it is inspiring.

In short: D ie women for us were luminaries. Very self-confident and eager to experiment. “One man, one vote”, that applied equally to men and women in the youth movement. There were a lot of activists who either made their voice heard or just did what they wanted and how they wanted and nobody in our circles was bothered by it. We , including the men, put make-up on each other and I often ran through the streets to the “Red Factory”, the “Drahtschmidli” or the “AJZ ” with black painted lips, brightly painted faces and fluttering hair. Just one of the many city Indians.

This uninhibited desire to be freed from all constraints lasted until the first HIV infections in the mid-1980s and initially only shook the gay scene. “ AIDS ” was not an issue at the time of the “AJZ” and so many new experiments and life plans developed horizontally. The first teenagers had just come back from India, from Baghwan in „Poona“ and were either totally „high“ or constantly „stoned“ . The Afghan war against it washed infinitely Afghan hashish and heroin, the civil war in Lebanon the „red Lebanese “ in our smoky WG-Stuben and changed the lives , and the townscape and at the same time the political world view.

Punks, rock bands, M-TV and the Walkman revolutionized the music and media world

It was the time of the “ Rolling Stones“, the „Doors“, „Deep Purple“, by Bob Dylan, Janis Joplin and Ji l Scott Heron. It was the time of the „punks“, the rebellion, the free development, the sex and drug orgies and street battles. Nothing was like it used to be and there was no turning back. In the mid 1970s the punk scene only in New York and then in London came up, the foothills sloshed also on Switzerland. Local scenes soon developed, especially in Zurich. In 1977 there was a hard core of around 50 young people in Zurich who had a decisive influence on the Swiss punk and new wave movement. Their first meeting points were the punk clothing store “Booster” with and the “Club Hey” with the first punk discos. In the environment of various autonomous networks such as the Reithalle in Bern or during squatting where the punks were at the forefront. For example, you can find politicized punks in Winterthur , who often see themselves as a counter-movement to the right-wing extremist environment in Switzerland.

With Roger Schawinski’s pirate station “ Radio 24” , which first broadcast from “ Piz Gropera” from Italy, the barren media landscape, consisting of “Radio Beromünster” (unspeakable), Swiss television (boring and simple-minded), “ORF” (just as conservative) and the «ARD» (not much better) , plowed up. «M-TV» found its way with the first cult videos and revolutionized not only the music world but also the youth scene and subculture. And with Radio DRS3, there was also a youth station in Switzerland. Only later did local radio stations get a license and soon there were at least one, if not two radio stations in every canton.

The first residential communities at the beginning of the 1970s enriched the new life plans and forms of the youth movement and also created a lot of solidarity and engagement with other underground movements, freedom fighters and oppressed states such as Palestine, Nicaragua and Vietnam, which was occupied by US soldiers. The time was right, the last but not least by for major socio-political changes, musical protagonists of our time to the s addition to the „Rolling Stones“ , „Queen’s“ , David Bowie Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix or “ The Scorpions “ also significantly was also fueled by the « punk bands» . Zurich became a hot spot for the blossoming youth culture, which just exploded in all colors and shapes and provided the basis for the unbelievable burst of liberalization. The cities of Zurich, Bern and Basel have never been seen so freaky and trendy before and never since.

We approached the opposite sex with curiosity and respect, and approached people who thought or looked different, and that was what made the movement so unique. It was the time of the anarchists. We debated s and criticizes s fiercely, arguing and solidar ized us with other oppressed peoples. In the maelstrom of explosive liberation and gre nzenlosen life were rushing P arties endlessly celebrated, but more and more hard drugs such as heroin, came to.

When the „AJZ“ opened in an old factory near the car park on Sihlquai, it washed up all sorts of weird birds and drug dealers with. Soon the Italian drug mafia supplied with the Turkish a merciless gang war, which partially also in the „AJZ“ was held. For a while, it was really dangerous to mess with these guys and we had to put a guard on duty to prevent the worst escalations.

In the early 1980s , hundreds of young people died every year from an overdose of „Aitsch“ . The situation improved only when the methadone -A introduced bgabe and the fixer and drug-related deaths of d disappeared en Zürcherstrasse and in the contact and methadone -A bgabestellen met again.

Hundreds of people died of heroin consumption every year

I am at that time with 17 years off and on from the parents apartment in a W (WG) ohngemeinschaft at Forchstrasse drawn in which Rico Bilger and Tommy Müller , lived two writers and the cultural magazine „Babayga“ out gave that in spinning Wettingen by Kaspar Pfenninger was printed. Another roommate worked in the largest record store in Zurich and he had shipped over 900 LPs (records) to the flat. This opened up such a musical universe for all of us and we floated in Seventh Heaven.

From then on, the mail went off. We all were „subversive“ elements in the eyes of the authorities . „Better subversive than conservative,“ we said calmly. Unmarried couples were not allowed to live together at the time . Since we obviously did n’t care , the police often peeked into the flat uninvited . Since there in the lowest 5- mostly night and day room apartment 10 stayed 15 people two patrols were easily overwhelmed and subjected to barking dogs and applause quickly again. The more we were for spying since here also many „AJZ“ – activists and were received from.

But instead of “making cucumber salad out of the state” , the creative potential exploded in the catering, club scene and media landscape. S inally was not about yes to a counter-revolution and the abolition of democracy and the establishment of an anarchy instead of Parliament and the Federal Council, but simply more freedom in leisure, at work, in the family, in which sexuality, drug use and nightlife . So the people in motion became very creative in the media, published street newspapers, printed flyers and posters, also hung them up (wild posters ) and tried all sorts of crap . Zurich developed from a provincial town into a cosmopolitan city ​​and led to one of the most significant socio-political and cultural changes in Switzerland over the past 50 years.

As soon as the „AJZ“ opened at today’s car park, we set about converting and furnishing the old factory area and building. All kinds of groups were formed: craftsmen groups, the “pickling group” , the “women group” , the “drug group” and the “curve group” , i.e. for young people who had escaped from home and had been advertised by the police . Two of my friends, the Rimoldi brothers, were in the „pickling group“ , my friend Michele in the „curve group“ and I in the „drug group“.

It was a rough , but delightfully e time, a grand new beginning. The „AJZ“ was in the very act autonomously and we all have a big colorful family of creative individuals , alchemists, anarchists and Überlebenskünstler. The heroin glut guide te also too young To th. The youngest were just m al 13 years of age. That was too much. The inhuman plight lasted so long, until the methadone program also as a result of HIV infections came to train and Dr. Uchtenhagen and Councilwoman Emilie Dear junkies from the alley gets e and they finally were looked human.

One of the highlights at that time was the impromptu concert by Jimmy Cliff in the car park. One morning he came to the “ AJZ” with his entourage and was enthusiastic about the Zurich Youth Movement and the “ AJZ” . So much so that he let himself be carried away to a spontaneous concert and in no time at all we tried to build a stage and install the music system and loudspeakers.

Radio 24, Roger Schawinski’s pirate station on Piz Gropero in northern Italy , heard about it and word of the spontaneous concert quickly spread throughout the city. From 4 p.m. onwards, more and more young people flocked to the AJZ and brought trams and road traffic to a standstill on Sihlquai . A uf the square came together at the 3000 persons who frenetically and fully intoxicated with Jimmy Cliff fell into ecstasy. “Unforgetable times, indeed – formative for many of my generation.

When the heroin addiction widespread in Zurich among young activists ripped off many friends, I wanted to put an end to this capital. My 17 year-old girlfriend, Sandy was just a Ü been overdose hospitalized (and a year later she died of heroin). So I decided to travel to Spain with a friend named Marco and set out for new horizons.

Spiritual trips to Iberia, Balearic and Canary Islands and Morocco

So we took the night train to Barcelona and arrived in the city center early in the morning . As soon as we were there, there was the first police raid and we were felted from top to bottom. Fortunately, you didn’t find our withdrawal hashration. We had neatly prepared half a cigarette rod with a ready-made mixture and carefully sealed the parcels again. So we soon drove to Cascais , a suburb of Barcelona , and went through three days of painful heroin withdrawal there. On site we met an American at the train station and heard from him that there was going to be a “Greatfull Dead” concert in Seville, so we went there with him on the train. He generously gave us four „LSD“ trips, which we then shared at the concert with four young American students. When the concert ended around three in the morning and we were pretty exhausted with our hitchhiker backpacks and the four girls, they quartered us in their girls‘ boarding school for a few hours. It was still quite fun there on trips and soon we were thrown out on edge because the bed springs crunched so that the walls wobbled.

When we arrived in Algeciras on the border with Morocco, we had a relapse and bought a helping of heroin. But then a „Guardia Civil“ squad came by, who felt us and dug us in. Fortunately, you could no longer identify the substance that I had knocked out of the policeman’s hand during the raid as a drug. It was some kind of „shit powder“. So the police had to let us out of the underground bunker after two days.

After this unpleasant adventure we ended up in Morocco in the Atlas Mountains, where we found ourselves in the largest hashish-growing area at the gates of Europe. Spaniards and Italo’s went in and out of the farm every day, transporting kilos of grass and hashish. Since we had run out financially, we made our hash oil on site in exchange for a warm fur jacket with a capital A (for anarchy) on it. We smuggled the oil through Spain to Portugal, where we settled in Sitges and, thanks to the sale , were able to live well for a while until hepatitis broke out as a late consequence of heroin consumption. We didn’t want to go to the hospital and we couldn’t afford a good hotel. So we ended up in Ibiza, where Marco had a friend who wasn’t there. We broke into the finca, so to speak, and made ourselves comfortable. Then we separated and everyone lived for a while on the « island of dropouts».

Later I flew to Lanza Rote in the Canary Islands. First I wanted to cross the island with a camel, which unfortunately didn’t work, but then there was a completely different adventure. In Playa Blanca I met a sailing crew with an American, a French and a Moroccan. And they still had a cabin free for me. So I stayed with these guys on the boat for a while. One morning I was woken from a deep sleep because suddenly a herd of elephants stomped on the boat, then shouts came up and when I was the first to stick my head out of the gap, I looked into four machine guns, not half a meter from the tip of my nose. All movement and excitement immediately froze. I froze and was allowed to get out, then all my boat friends. Half a dozen heavily armed elite soldiers from the Guardia Civil stood around us. What happened?

We were on board a sailing ship that belonged to a Swiss man who lived in the USA and had only arrived here in Playa Blanca a few days ago . The French skipper, the Moroccan boat boy and the American friend of the Swiss boat owner had brought the boat here from mainland France. Apparently there was a dispute between the boat owner and the skipper the evening before about the fee for the yacht transfer from southern France to Playa Blanca. And the longer waiting time on site than originally planned.

First the angry skipper wanted to sink the boat, which the crew was able to prevent. Then the Frenchman hissed off in anger. But the „nasty guy“ retaliated by giving the Guardia Civil an anonymous phone call from Arecife airport before he left and saying we had weapons and drugs on board. Of course, an adequate number of people came to us on the boat. After six hours the agony was over, the whole boat examined and the special unit smoked another joint with us to relax after the hard work with the few crumbs they had found on the boat during the search.

Relieved about the withdrawal of the special unit and because New Year’s Eve was approaching, we got drunk playing the rest of the day. The so-called “ Si, Si, Si “ drink, with a third of vodka, a third of Cointreau and a shot of champagne, was devilishly good and we got really excited. Only when the American in the very narrow, hose-like and totally overcrowded bar, fired the sea rescue pistol from the very back across the shop over the counter and the bullet dashed along the bar through the double doors, the party mood among those present was sudden over.

They almost wanted to lynch him and since he was already reaching for the next cartridge, I struck my dear boat friend from the stool with a targeted punch and dragged him out. The American was really drunk but also tough. We saw that when he hit the pavement head first as he staggered, whereupon we dragged him to the pier. But the boat was about two meters lower due to the low tide. One could not think of lifting it down. Otherwise we would all have flooded. So we threw him down on the deck, where he hit, grunted and fell into a coma, but the next morning he somehow got back on his feet with all his bumps, or rather staggered around.

When I returned to Zurich in December 1981 and threatened to slide back into the old drug swamp there, the next radical step came. I packed up my savings and flew to the US on a one-way ticket, stayed with relatives in Danville , Illonois for a month , got my driving test, bought an Oldsmobile, and drove across the country for the next ten months States through. On my return from the United States, there was the “ AJZ“ yet, but soon after it was evacuated and destroyed. But things had changed in the Zwingli town.

During this time I also spent a lot of time at the Rote Fabrik, which was also one of the few hot spots in Zurich for young people at the time. There I also met my third girlfriend, a woman and artist named Betty Weber, who was also seven years older than me. She was a Nubian, i.e. a black woman, and also a very creative artist. I had no fear of touching mature women of any skin color and also learned to „cook on old pans,“ as we casually called a relationship between a younger man and an older woman at that time.

USA-TRIP

After the apprenticeship, I first traveled around the USA for six months. I bought a big Chevi Station Wagon in Danville (Ill.) and drove it across the country to San Francisco and L.A. and back again to Chicago, according to the motto of Jack Kerouack’s book, „On the road again. The trip was just as wild and exciting as described in this fantastic book, with the difference that I was alone on the road, but therefore met a lot of people and women. Two small anecto-den: In the chaste Mormon state of Salt Lake City, of all places, I, then a crisp young 19-year-old hippie, was approached by two women in the parking lot while my ex-girlfriend from Switzerland, who had just visited me for a fortnight, went shopping in the shopping center. The two attractive women had spotted my license plate and wanted to know if I was also from Chicago. The conversation developed into a spontaneous invitation, which I gladly accepted, and so we ended up at the home of the two ladies. I had a good time and exciting discussions with the two, while my ex-girlfriend, who barely spoke English, was bored. At some point she went to sleep, whereupon one of them unabashedly hit on me. But I was more keen on her friend. Later I learned that the lady who flirted with me what the stuff held, had dumped my ex-girlfriend with a sleeping pill, so that we could enjoy ourselves a little. They know nothing, I thought, and so I had an amorous adventure with both of them that I remembered for a long time. It was a bit of a Woodstock feeling.

And in San Francisco I stayed for over a month until the Greatfull Dead New Year’s concert. I parked my Chevi Station Car in the parking lot under the Golden Gate Bridge and there was a big community of people living there in their RVs or Station Cars. You could stay there all the time, but you had to leave for a couple of hours every night after three o’clock. Then I would drive over to Berkley and hang out with the night owls there, returning to the parking lot around six in the morning to go to sleep. Here, too, there were two formidable femme fatal who did a number almost every night, and not always alone. So there were quite a few permissive and experimental escapades on the 1981 trip across the USA from the East to the West Coast and back with over 20,000 miles covered, during which I changed the tires at least ten times and was checked by the police on average every third night, no matter where I parked.

With the time I let then in the beam of the Schein-werfer, the disks down, stretched out sleepily the Swiss passport and said that I pull tomorrow already again further. That was then also. Impressive was also the young pastor in Denver, who not only did coke but also spent his nights at gambling rounds and then stood freshly cheerful and innocent like an angel again in the church and sang psalms. So much for the Protestant clergy. But evenly nevertheless much better, than the klammheimlichen paedophile priests, which gave it to pile and still gives. There would be a lot more to tell about the trip to the USA in the truest sense of the word, but let’s return to Switzerland in the 80s.

In the squirl of Swiss political scandals

I had several good jobs in the 1980s . First I worked in export at the “ Hürlimann Brewery”, then only for three months at a trading company on Bahnhofplatz, where I shifted the entire import of grain flour from Sweden from road traffic to rail, thus not only implementing an ecological goal, but the company also saved a lot of money, as the rail solution was also considerably cheaper. Because after came three guide inserts for three months in Senegal, Poland and London into play . Later I worked for “ Media Daten Verlag”, which published “ Werbewoche” and the “ Media Trend Journal”. Then I became head of advertising for the “ Neue Zürcher Zeitung ” for the areas of tourism, schools and institutes and the sales manager for the “ Swiss Review of World Affairs”, the top-class, English-language magazine of “ NZZ” at the time. At the end I produced the tome “ Portraits of the Swiss advertising industry “ and “ Portraits of the Swiss communications industry“ in m “ Bertschi publishing “ . So I got closer and closer to journalism and I decided to learn the trade through a PR training at the « SAWI» .

In October 1989 I took part in a one-week journalism workshop with the left-wing journalist, writer and historian Niklaus Meienberg who uncovered the “ Villiger scandal in World War II”. This led us to the asylum reception center in Kreuzlingen , where we found an inhumane situation on the evening of our arrival . Before the closed asylum reception office had a dozen freezing refugees well lighted a fire to protect themselves from the bitter cold and warm October. They told us that they had been banned from the reception center for asylum seekers. The police were about to put out the fire. That enraged us. And Niklaus Meienberg really got going. The eloquent chicken orchestrated a shameful tirade of the finest didactics. But Meienberg wouldn’t be Meienberg if the words weren’t followed by deeds and so he instructed us to move the refugees to the youth hostel, which was just open. The poor hostel manager almost fell from his chair when he saw the dozen refugees in front of him , enriched with a bevy of budding journalists. Since it went bureaucratic procedures going on with the papers and had after the first five people because as due to lack of papers, ho are ffnungslos canceled and the refugees were least spend the night in the heat.

Meienberg, however, had called half the German-speaking Swiss press on the scene the next morning and pointed out the inhumane incidents and practices in front of the refugee center ( “ punitive action“). So suddenly we saw ourselves confronted with a crowd of journalists in the hustle and bustle of the press and so besieged the refugee center until we had a discussion with the head of the reception center. Then came the politicians and city councilors , the walled ones, Peter Arbenz , the refugee delegate who issued the reception center manager a clean bill of health , the church organizations that demanded more human dignity. And so the whole week was action. The course went on Friday evening to a close, everyone could overnight a write story about the events of the last week and they Meienberg show was the then gave a brief comment. His comment was weak, not to say lousy. But had I the good fortune or the audacity , my s contribution of “ Weltwoche “ submitted and the icon of this then renowned medium Margrit Sprecher, used it and the essence of another writing workshop participant to a report published on my birthday was . The entry was successful. That spurred me on to keep going in that direction. And because photography has become my passion, combining the two.

The secret files scandaland the P-26 Geheimloge

In 1990 it came to light that both the federal authorities and the cantonal police corps had dug around 900,000 “ pits “ on politically suspicious persons since 1900 . According to official information, more than 700,000 people and organizations were recorded. The observation radius first covered foreign anarchists, Swiss socialists and trade unionists, unwelcome political refugees and foreigners who were expelled. With the rise of anti-communism, left-wing politicians and members of trade unions in particular were monitored. The official aim of the “ fiche “ was to protect the country from subversive activities controlled from abroad.

The fight against subversion was a popular catchphrase during the Cold War. The PUK Parliamentary Commission of Inquiry revealed how broadly this vague term was understood. As emerged from the documents of the “ Intelligence Service and Defense Subgroup ” (UNA), zealous state protectors perceived “alternative”, “greens”, peace movements, third world activists, women’s movements and foreign worker supporters, anti-nuclear activists, “leftists” of all kinds by se, should be classified as potentially dangerous , because they could be infiltrated, hostile – or externally controlled or otherwise manipulated.

I also ordered my file from the police and the Ministry of Justice , which was surprisingly detailed in terms of the movement profile and the contacts, but was otherwise very irrelevant, except for the many black spots in the 14-page protocol, which was probably more the spy identity should cover n and protect , as state secrets, anti-state activities or a “ treason “ of monitored-a-days would have brought . It only showed the blind zeal of the authorities and the sad image of the informers . Very few of us were Marxists, Leninists, Maoists or communists or enemies of the state, even if the motto: „Power from the state cucumber salad“ was chanted. There was a lot of state propaganda and cannons shot at sparrows .

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. In 1979/1981 she was appointed as the successor to the special service in the Intelligence Service and Defense (UNA) subgroup and dissolved in 1990 by Federal Councilor Moritz Leuenberger after being announced by a parliamentary commission of inquiry (PUK). No armament was planned for the P-26 members in times of peace, but the illustrious secret society did not care. Provided was that they as a group on the orders of a remaining most overseas exile government would actively n to serve as a news source. A combat mission was not planned. That was reserved for the army alone. Nevertheless, the organization hoarded weapons and set up ammunition depots.

Professionally, at the beginning of the 90s, I was doing my public relations training and was employed by the PR agency “ Leipziger & partner” in Zumikon. The boss was a colonel in the military and a little Nazi . So he was so considered not to my s friend s or role models . But from a professional point of view, he was an ace and well connected, and I benefited a lot from his know-how and his contacts with the military and civil organizations such as “ Helvetas” and the “ Europa Institut”. In the Zumikon PR agency I organized, among others, the „Forum 91“ and the „Colloquium Security Policy & Media» with « NATO» -General Klaus Naumann, two highly political forums with senior military, politicians, scientists n and the media. Two worlds collided: Here the young freak who had sympathy for the « army abolition initiative» and evaded the recruit school, but liked to do community service. One of the well with the anti-builder were symph movement ated On the other hand, the bourgeois establishment, the head of the Swiss army up to the guest speakers, „NATO“ -General Klaus Naumann , who escorted only by three cantonal police came in.

At that time I played in thought the military „by worst-case scenario“ for Switzerland, by the had no idea. A real threat scenario would have been to drop a bomb at this event in the ETH Zurich and to wipe out the leadership of the Swiss Army in one fell swoop. I had a couple of 35mm Flabgeschosse of the “ Oerlikon Buehrle» Manufaktur available , I went at once into teaching. At that time there was no anti-terrorism device for the high-profile event, otherwise I would have known it in detail. It was then that I realized that even as a pacifist you can have a few cryptic terrorist ideas, as is otherwise customary in the military and espionage circles.

Founding the Presse agency and working as a radio man

In 1992 I had the PR diploma in hand, I set up my press and picture agency “ GMC“, referring to a „K-Tipp“ research journalists and two media representatives from the Hotel / catering sector an office , the cooperation built with the tourism Magazine “Travel Inside” and some German-speaking Swiss daily newspapers and international photo agencies and made two trips to the Caribbean this year, first for a sailing trip from Grenada to Trinidad and Tobago, then to Cuba. On the first sailing trip of my life, I wanted to experience the carnival in Trinidad with a couple of people from Bern and Zurich and could actually take the boat to the harbor in the middle of the city ​​center, dock there and so comfortably go to the parades and then back on the boat.

We were so carried away by the carnival in Trinidad that we wanted to bring it to Zurich. And we succeeded, thanks to the Trinidad percussionist on board the sailing trip. Ralph Richardson and his wife Angi , both passionate steel drum playing and Ralph also some steel drum bands and children bands in Zurich taught . By Ralph’s contacts could we Mighty Sparrow, the eight-time „King of Calypso“ for an exclusive gala concert at the Hotel International in Oerlikon , committed. For this purpose we arranged an open air on the market square in Oerlikon with eight Stelldrum bands the day before, a Saturday. Thanks to the cooperation with “ British West India Airlines” (BWIA ), which at the time was new to Zurich, we were able to fly top Caribbean chefs to Zurich for six weeks before the Calypso & Steeldrum Festival, with all the fresh ingredients and plenty of tropical decorations to enjoy in „Hotel International“ in Oerlikon offers Caribbean flair, tropical cocktails and delicious exotic specialties and dishes.

By „Calypso & Steel Drum Festival“ I was with Roger Schawinski “ cooperate Radio 24″ and was with him in an hour-long interview and in special programs as a guest . Auch at “ Radio DRS 3″, the one-hour program about Calypso from Trinidad and Might y Sparrow made, cranked up the promotional track. In addition, Frederic Dru from “ Radio Tropic” was interested in really celebrating this event. It was also nice that the Swiss TV for their first trip transmission from the Caribbean and the concert Mighty Sparrow to the first travel show inspired let s and Mighty Sparrow to premiere a fly let us play. Because the « SRF» travel editor Kurt Schaad and the music editor of Swiss television had been to our gala concert.

Was also encouraging that I thus at „Radio Tropic“ on a voluntary, began to work unpaid basis and then very quickly my own rice endings with the airlines, tour operators and tourist boards produced thereby had a completely free hand. It was a brilliant experience and I did two hour specials about Australia, Africa and the Caribbean. A year or two later came the opportunity with „Radio Kanal K“ also produce broadcasts. The station in the canton of Aargau, known as underground music and culture radio, also left a lot of leeway. And so, to everyone’s amazement, I did a top-class interview with four cantonal party presidents about the hotly debated asylum initiative of the SVP. Among others, Gerry Müller, who later became mayor of Baden, was there . The next protagonist is my favorite enemy Andreas Glarner from SVP from the Aargau community of Arni. Finally came also the two cantonal n FDP and CVP president s the argument to the studio . That was my first such highly political and at the same time top-class occupied interview with four leading politicians to the issues heissesten domestic know-how. And it was a very engaged and controversial discussion.

My professional status as a photojournalist and radio producer as well as the veritable network of photo and press agencies made my value with the airlines soar. For travel n oh Africa I called the „SAA“ South African Airways , the Caribbean , I flew as mentioned with the „BWIA“ , to Brazil with the „TAM“ to the French Ü Overseas Territories and to the South Pacific with the „AOM“ and to Asia ,“Singapore Airlines“ and „Malaysia Airlines ‚ of which I received regularly air tickets for free, as I afterwards mostly in seven daily newspapers R published eportagen and for many glossy magazines worked . “That was a fantastic, exciting and exciting time” .

From the 1990s on, I published travel reports , aviation and economic reports in national daily newspapers such as “A argauer Z eitung ”, “Der Bund”, “Neue Luzerner Zeitung”, “Solothurner Zeitung”, “Südostschweiz” and “Facts” in the „Sonntagszeitung“ , before I starting from 1997 also in the wellness, beauty and lifestyle rail jumped up and appeared in glossy magazines such as „Relax & style,“ „World of Wellness“, „Wellness Live“, „Wellness Magazine“ (D). I have also published reports in “Globo (D)”, “Animan” and “ Welt am Sonntag ” .

2.Internationalization and politicization

Between d en fronts of Sen matter and Guinea Bissau

1986 I was lucky because I was already working in the travel industry, as a tour guide or “ Resident Man a ger “ only three months in Senegal, then to live in Warsaw in Poland, so in the former Eastern bloc and most recently in London for another three months and to be allowed to work. That was three very horizon- broadening stays abroad in one year.

In m the first “ Resident Manager ‚- use in Senegal I had rather a leisurely start, because „AIDS “ was just first appeared on the radar and still puzzled medicine , where it came from , or how the virus was transmitted. At first it was suspected by a fly from Africa. Then monkey bites came into question. So there wasn’t much going on in the “ Club Aldiana ” near M’Bour. Time for a trip to the south of Senegal through the Gambia and down to the Casamance . There ran with my camera in the area around. Since no border was visible in the undergrowth, I was suddenly stopped by a troop of soldiers from the Guinea-Bissau military and interrogated for hours. The commander spoke only Portuguese, so it took a while until I found out that there is a conflict because the E l -Vorkommen s on the border betw een the two countries came u nd reminded me of a TV report vo r few days that it was precisely at this time that the parties to the dispute met in Geneva for negotiations. That was my ace as a Swiss in this precarious situation. So I tried to make it clear to the comandant that it would be bad if they took me prisoner and thereby endangered the negotiations in Geneva. He understood that and set me free thanks to my donation.

Relieved, I ran into the Senegal, so in the Casamance back. There I had the tiresome problem of running out of cash to pay the rent for the box. D azu I had only a day’s journey away by Zuiginchor travel to the traveler’s check to change. So tell me the hotelier from the border experience and my donation, when the rent was spent and was then exhausted to the bungalow, to sleep to go. It wasn’t long before two military jeeps drove up in front of the hut with a lot of noise and eight soldiers got out. This time it was Senegalese soldiers, but that didn’t really reassure me. „You have orders to escort me to the military governor, „they told me. „What is going on now“ , I thought, trying to to curb adrenaline rush. Half an hour later I was sitting in front of the military commander who asked me about the border incident . He had received knowledge from the landlord and would like to know more about it. „Shit,“ I thought to myself, but today is a busy day, going war diplomacy w ieder from the beginning. Now it is important to downplay everything as possible and say as little as possible. We then practiced that for a good four hours, after which I was pretty exhausted. Two military officers in hostile states in one day, that was a tough test.

A t the end of the operation in Senegal, the first of the “ AIDS and “ HIV “ -Fällen overshadowing was et, I invited my last guests in M’Bour into a Moorish cafe, that „Vielle Prune “ So a very served fine“ Zw e Tschgenschnaps“. An absolute rarity in Africa. My guests knew immediately which drink it was. Chuckling, I told the man that he Chairman of the“ distillery Willisau „was and producing this drink and drive out. Then we were even more happy about the next few drops and when the guest found out that I was being transferred to Warsaw, he said. „Oh, I know a very fine person and high-ranking politician, because we import vodka from Poland“ . So he wrote a name on a piece of paper and g from him to me for recommending and contacting with. Thanks to this schnapps connection in Senegal, I had drawn an ace for my next mission without even realizing it.

Warsaw 86: In pole position behind the Iron Curtain

Because d rei days later, when I arrived in Warsaw, where 14 days before an airliner of the „LOT“ had crashed and 140 people died, I was able to speak, understand the English and me in with an older man customs and immigration for the 70 any passenger boughs from the west helped . When I am with him for his help asked thanked and after his name, he replied, „My name is Henry Zwirko.“ „Excuse me „, exclaimed to me, that was still the name on the list was given to me by the last guest in Senegal. That could no coincidence be, I thought intuitively, but was busy with the passports and immigration papers, which drag on for hours on end could, especially since I after a briefing a few hours in Switzerland as a newcomer here behind the “ Iron Curtain“ in Warsaw had arrived. 

But the procedure was the man behind me, who as of this Henry Zwirko presented te, gentle with few , but decisive words to the border guards , greatly abbreviated and we could pass . „OK,“ I thought to myself, the man is indeed very promising. No wonder his influence goes far, after all, he is a Polish cabinet minister and his father is a war hero from World War II. I knew that much. But that ’s me this man the same for my arrival in Warsaw would meet, was very scary. In retrospect, my guess confirmed that the VR Presidential dent nachgeholfen a little meeting, paving the way has opened in an extraordinarily closed world to me, to the many intelligence me at this time, including our counterintelligence would have envied.

Because in a very natural way, an excellent cooperation between Henry Zwirko and me developed. Since the official tourist exchange rate for Swiss francs and D-Marks was a good seven times higher than the black market rate offered in Warsaw , I soon got on the transfer bus once or twice a week with half a million zlotys that Henry got me , with which we picked up the new guests from Zurich. U nd during the transfer from the airport to the hotel, I told the guests how difficult and dangerous the illegal exchange was and offered a good tour guide during the journey to the city center every guest 200 francs to switch to a good course. Business went smoothly and the bus driver and local guide’s were also always good away and then looked away. And so I worked my way into the depths of corruption, compliment zen – and planned economy, and soon had money to burn expressed or millions of zloty’s local currency .

Only: there was nothing to buy. Nothing at all, except liquor and sex for sale on every corner. Outside the tourist hotels it was very dreary. Apart from a few very secret places for the elite, where all the goodies , like a Chateaubriand or tartare and fresh juice was served. I have only been to this illustrious place three times, which was intended for Poland’s elite. A famous one ’s ass and President Wojciech Jaruselski (the one-eyed, the Russians offered the forehead) and his entourage on one of the side tables. For me it was almost as if I had arrived at the Kremlin.

Later I had an unexpected meeting with Gorbachev’s Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze in the sauna of a famous Medical Wellness Hotel with an outstanding sleep diagnostics center in Vorarlberg. Luckily I had a Russian-speaking Ukrainer with me as a model, so we could exchange a few words with him. Obviously plagued the Russian Foreign Schlaflosigk EITS symptoms.

Less than two weeks after my arrival in Warsaw and a first round trip in Poland to Krakow and Zakopane, the corpse specialists from abroad arrived and our entire tour group, always around 50 to 70 people, became one hour after the other from the only middle-class hotel “ Forum “ was thrown out and from then on we had to share a hotel bed with lousy, shabby hotels sometimes with third parties for the next 14 days. The 90% male guests took it relatively calmly, „We are here in the Eastern Bloc“. And they could be satisfied with boxes of vodka and champagne. Most of them were only here for a tourist attraction anyway.

Back then Warsaw was the Bangkok of Europe and the female offer was plentifully available in the hotel bar. Whole farmers‘ associations and field staff with “black commission coffers” came here from Switzerland. But I didn’t have time for that, deprived of my own box and the daily search for accommodation, the transfers and bureaucratic hurdles kept me busy. I also had to get hold of fuel on the black market for my work trips and transfers. Then this became too colorful for me and I had the local guests kicked out of the hotels with the dollar lubricant, in which I put double or triple the room price on the table. Such over time some things were running smoothly and as icing I rented one of the finest and most expensive luxury suites in the only five-star hotel in Warsaw, then, the “ Victoria “ hotel on the main square. From this state guest suite I was able to follow the papal visit of the Polish pontiff better than any other camera team from my window . I then saw the Polish Pope again in Cuba in 1993 when he paid a visit to the Caribbean island and Fidel Castro .

I had time for me, I got the unemployed girls in the lobby and the hotel bar high, de n n belonged to my suite and a piano player in the lounge between the two wings. And there was enough space in my suite with two bedrooms and a drawing room. Plötzlich I had often times’s boredom and a half private brothel at my guest. D ie three months in Poland were unforgettable and much more exciting than the time in Senegal. But now it goes straight to London, it says in the fax from the «Imholz» tour guide headquarters in Zurich.

London 87: The first contact with «ANC» exiles

Arrived in London and settled in, after an industrial accident of an Italian tour guide who worked here without a residence permit and whom I then visited in prison, I also met «ANC» exiles who had fled the racist ap artheid regime. Just before the UN sanctions were in force and the South African regime was pilloried. D a brother lived one of our tour guides in South Africa, wol some lten from our tour guide troupe to the Cape to travel and roam in Botswana through the Okavango Delta. That sounded promising and was put into practice after our assignment in London . But before that I returned to Switzerland in order to exchange information with «ANC» exiles and with the Anti-Ap artheid Movement (AAB) from London and to make further contacts in the South African underground. Equipped in this way for the South Africa mission, departure in November 1989 approached quickly. But let’s briefly look back at what had happened in South Africa over the past ten years.

In 1950, when the South African government divided its people into races (Population Registration Act 35), the Swiss banks paid the first loans of 35 million francs. When the government banned mixed marriages (Prohibition of Mixed Marriage Act), a further 85 million francs flowed to the Ap part hei d state, which by 1983 had expropriated over three and a half million blacks and deported them to „homelands“. And so 87 percent of the land belonged to the 16 percent whites. And Switzerland, more precisely my former training company, “Oerlikon Bührle AG”, delivered weapons such as the “35mm Flab cannons” and “Pilatus PC-Porter” aircraft to the Cape. Despite UN sanctions.

In 1967 nearly 700 ‚ arrested 000 black within a year because they have violated the pass laws. The expenditures for internal security already amount to 17 percent of the gross national product. When the British decided to suspend gold trading for two weeks in March 1968, Switzerland sprinted into the breach. Now South Africa’s wealth is flowing in huge quantities into the gold trading metropolis of Switzerland. „SBG“, „SKA“ and „SBV“ secure three quarters of the gold trade.

In 1968 the „Bührle Affair“ bursts. The Oerlikon weapons manufacturer had delivered weapons worth 52.7 million francs to South Africa via France. In 1973 the “UN” General Assembly decides to exclude South Africa with “Resolution 3068” and classify apartheid as a “crime against humanity”, while the loans of the three Swiss banks have already risen to 2.2 billion francs. Meanwhile, every second child under five dies in the homelands, the white men in the Cape and the “Zurich Gold Coast” are doing better and better. “Oerlikon Bührle” has circumvented the sanctions several times. I remember when in the export department I simply had to issue the export permits , freight documents and letters of credit to the “Oerlikon Bührle” holding company in Spain.

1979 comes to a massacre in Soweto, as on June 16, 15 ‚ protested 000 pupils against being henceforth taught in Afrikaans. 575 people died in the uprising that dragged on for months. The Swiss banks doubled their credit volume. In 1980 the Reformed World Federation declared “apartheid a heresy. That left Switzerland and the Swiss secret service cold . Peter Reggli directed the pilot exchange with South African fighter pilots in the ways the Federal w u rd e but only in 1986 oriented.

The amount of credit granted by Swiss banks to the apartheid regime quadrupled. Year after year by 100 percent. Due to the international n Ä the apartheid regime rect benefited the Switzerland of the contemptuous, racist policies of the White people of the Cape. The “ ILO” called on the global corporations to withdraw from South Africa and criticized the “SBG” as a sanction breaker. Nevertheless, in 1985 the South African regime received a further CHF 75 million in loans from Swiss banks. In 1986 a state of emergency is imposed on the heavily indebted country. over 10’000 people are arrested. 1800 died. „Peace became a threat to public security,“ says Archbishop Desmond Tutu when the church journal, the „New Nation“, was closed.

When the USA wanted to punish companies that did not adhere to the sanctions in 1987, South Africa’s President Peter Botha and his Foreign Minister came to Zurich to meet with „SBG“ Vice Director Georg Meyer and the board of the „Association Switzerland-South Africa“, where they were given an „Order of Good Hope“ and another 70 million. And in 1989, thanks to Robert Jeker, South Africa’s regime took a breather when it came to repaying the outstanding loans of over eight billion francs. That was the starting point at the time that made me go underground in South Africa.

Then there was a small wink of fate that encouraged me in the plan. Like so many activists, I wrote a letter to the then “ SGB” (and today’s “ UBS”), which was very active in South Africa at the time and supported the apartheid regime, in which I informed the bank that I closed my account in protest against the financial policy and the « SBG» commitment and asked them to transfer the balance to another account. The bank made a mistake when balancing the account and so they transferred me 5500 francs more. I said to myself, „I’ll leave the money in my account for a year and if the « SBG »no longer reports, the money will go to organizations in the South African underground,“ as a compensation payment, so to speak. And that’s how it happened.

3. In the fight against apartheid in the South African underground

Because South Africa internationally banned was granted the South African embassy in Switzerland a „loose leaflet visa „that means a paper visa that was not included in the passport, so later no problems at entry to other countries g Aebe. First we lived a few weeks in the posh neighborhood of the whites in Hillbrow. Getting used to was initially once the s chwarze housekeeper who was included in the rent. Then of course the restrictions on the black population in all areas of public life. Racial segregation. With the appropriate pass laws for the respective ethnic groups. There was also the Indian community in Durban and the Malay mixed race in Cape Town. That was pretty complicated and pretty perverse. Vo r especially the resettlement plans that have been implemented into practice. So Millio was nen of black people forcedly relocated and de facto expropriated and in the so-called „Bantu zones“ moved.

I carefully familiarized myself with the local conditions, visited the « Khotso House» , where some resistance organizations such as the « Black Sash» but also the « UDF » union had their offices. The house was spied on around the clock and searched by the police several times. Many committed people have been arrested, tortured, and detained without charge. One of the most prominent victims of the apartheid regime along with Nelson Mandela was probably Steven Biko .

I arrived in South Africa just at the time when the „New Nation“ , one of the last liberal , critical leaflets of the Catholic bishops‘ conference under Desmond Tutu was banned and closed. I had a last interview with the dismissed editor-in-chief Gabu Tugwana appeared in the «WOZ» (weekly newspaper). I was the first foreign journalist who saw and photographed the decree of the hated interior minister, witnessed the closure of the “New Nation” and spread the news. The apartheid regime censored or banned many newspapers until all critical voices had fallen silent. The expenditures for internal security, that is, for maintaining the racist apartheid system, devoured over 20 percent of the gross domestic product.

Since nn dare I myself with the Vororts- train from down town Johannesburg to Soweto to, that is in the black townships to go where you were as Weisser at that time quite alone and very noticeable. Fortunately, I had long hair and didn’t look like a Bure or an Englishman. That probably stopped many from killing me right away. Since then the Neugie grew but r what I as doing here and then I could thanks to my in London and Zurich compacted „ANC“ – contacts perfectly satisfying, so they trusted me and me d ie townships introduced.

It was about the living conditions of blacks and their everyday under d he racist laws to know yourself. Soon I was able to live with a family of eight in Soweto and move around freely. So I was shocked as hell when I suddenly stood in front of an armored vehicle of the „SADF“ (South African Defense Force) and guns were pointed at me. When one of the policemen called down from above; „What are you doing here?“ F iel mi r nothing B esseres one, when to direct same question to him, only a tone sharper. Then I carefully pulled out my Swiss passport, which helped defuse the tense situation. They each let me go.

From that first trip was a deep connection to the land that I visited over 20 times and thereby Mandela scored twice. The first time shortly after his release in Soweto, the second time, as President of South Africa and newly crowned Nobel Laureate in the “ Zurich Dolder Hotel” , where he recognized me in front of the political and Federal Council celebrities and gave me a brief hug, which was very touching Moment was. And what all asked at once, who because of the long-haired freak here with the former National Bank President s Leutwyler was and consorts.

Fortunately, that remained a secret from me, Mandela and the South African ambassador in Bern, Dr. Konji Sebati, where I was once a guest at the embassy in Bern on a high- profile event. By d iesen Contact I came as a travel journalist and PR consultant at that time worked at a PR mandate for the South African Tourist Board ( SATOUR) and got to the mandate of the South African airline (SAA) for years.

I owed this to my diplomatic balancing act between the underground contacts , of which only a few knew , and the contacts with the white elite, which were also very discreet. And the fact that the Swiss in South Africa a central role in the gold rush in the „nuclear power plants“ in mil itärischer support of Ap artheid regime and finally in the debt restructuring and the transformation process played and incidentally took all gold trading .

As usual, everything is completely legal and neutral. The dark chapter Switzerland – South Africa would itself fill an entire book about Switzerland’s very profitable strategy of neutrality, the close interweaving of the secret service, espionage, the military and the Swiss economy with the Ap artheid regime. Since I an apprenticeship in the armory and machine tool factory “ Oerlikon Buehrle » have, which includes the „Contraves“ and „Pilatus factory“ belonged, is to me not only the problematic saint known , who also collaborated with the Nazis and the like billionaire Schwarzenbach art treasures hoarded, the partly in Zurich in Bührle-Museum are on display , but also many interesting events and documents in the export department noticed. What could not be exported from Switzerland due to sanctions was exported by other foreign “Oerlikon Bührle” branches, for example in France or Spain .

One murder every 40 minutes. 20 ‚ 000 per year

After the apartheid regime collapsed due to the UN boycott and the South African resistance, there was a bitter power struggle between the ANC (African National Congress) and Buthelezi`s IFP (Inkhata Freedom Party). The civil war claimed X thousand victims and made tens of thousands refugees. Another tragedy, because before that the white regime had forcibly displaced millions of black people like cattle in the course of racial segregation.

In post-apartheid South Africa, the people were preoccupied with one thing above all else: the constantly growing violent crime. In the past, the main aim of the police was to pursue political opponents, but now the security forces and politicians are fighting an almost hopeless fight against brutality and crime. The „taxi / minibus war“ in Durban has claimed numerous innocent lives for years. In Cape Town, a gang war raging less than 80000 young people. Johannesburg is also the scene of numerous crimes. Even as a tourist or business traveler you can feel the „atmosphere of fear“. The police forces operier t s as paramilitary organizations and have a bad reputation.

Unemployment concerning ug nearly 40 percent. Widespread poverty made crime soaring. Favored by the impotence and corruption of the self-absorbed judicial and police apparatus, which was paralyzed in the course of the radical restructuring. Were daily in South Africa more than 60 people a year against 20 ‚ killed 000 people. South Africa’s prisons are bursting at the seams . Criminal investigations remain unprocessed for years. Young people under the age of 14 are also detained.

Mandela’s release marked the end of apartheid

On August 5, 1962, Nelson Mandela and Cecil Williams were arrested while driving near Howick in Natal, on charges of leading the banned“ ANC “ underground. The arrest came after he had worked for almost a year and a half in freedom and in the political underground, interrupted by public appearances for the ANC abroad. The start of the trial was set for October 15, 1962 (two days before I was born). The result was Mandela’s sentencing on November 7, 1962 to five years in prison for inciting public unrest (three years in prison) and traveling abroad without a passport (two years). He took on his own defense in this court hearing. After the verdict was announced, he was sent to the prison island Robben Island at the end of May 1963 , but was soon brought back to Pretoria after the rest of the «ANC» leadership had been arrested on July 11th. From October 7, 1963, Mandela stood in Pretoria in the “Rivonia” trial with ten co-defendants for “sabotage and planning armed struggle” . On April 20, 1964, the last day of the trial before the verdict was pronounced, Mandela explained in his four-hour, prepared speech in detail the need for armed struggle, because the government did not respond to appeals or non-violent resistance from the non-white population in its quest for equal treatment and instead passed increasingly repressive laws.

A m 11 February 1990 was Mandela released from prison. President Frederik de Klerk had initiated this and lifted the ban of the “African National Congress” (ANC) days earlier. Mandela and de Klerk received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993. On the day of his release, Mandela gave a speech from the balcony of City Hall in Cape Town, and days later one in front of an audience of 120,000 in the football stadium in Johannesburg. There he presented his policy of reconciliation by inviting “all people who have given up apartheid ”to participate in a “ non-racial, united and democratic South Africa with general, free elections and voting rights for all”.

In July 1992, M andela unanimously elected President e n chosen the „ANC“. This enabled him to negotiate with the government on the elimination of apartheid and the creation of a new South Africa. In 1994 his autobiography „The Long Road to Freedom“ was published and wrote: „During these long, lonely years of imprisonment, my hunger for freedom for my own people became the hunger for freedom of all peoples, whether white or black.“

In February 1996 the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) set up by Mandela began under the leadership of Desmond Tutu, a Nobel Peace Prize winner . with the coming to terms with the crimes of apartheid. For some groups, the social improvements achieved during Mandela’s tenure did not go far enough, including in relation to the AIDS crisis. Critics also criticized the fact that the crimes of the apartheid regime were not punished.

Free health care was available to children under six, pregnant and nursing mothers; In 1996 health care became free of charge for all South Africans. With the “Land Restitution Act” (1994) and the “Land Reform Act 3” (1996) steps were taken towards land reform. During his tenure, numerous laws from the apartheid period were revoked. The army and police were reorganized.

When in 199 4 the newly elected South African President and Nobel Prize winner Nelson Mandela came to Switzerland and spoke to the local “ class politique” and the economic elite (National Bank President and bank representative) about his vision of a new South Africa, I was there too Photojournalist invited and took some pictures of Mandela . However, I was not prepared for the fact that he would be blinded by the flash as a result of his eyesight, which had been lost through the long imprisonment, and without a flash I had the wrong film speed in the can. As Mandela’s speech to the assembled political and business elite in Switzerland was over and he was in Ap e mixed ro with the crowd, I thought I was rather in the background.

But apparently Mandela had a good memory and very attentive eyes, maybe he even remembered where and when in Soweto I stood in the crowd of blacks after his release. In any case, that caused him to step up to me and ask me whether we have met before. I was amazed. And when I answered him, she shook hands with me, more amazingly . That touched me a lot. Suddenly I had the feeling that maybe I had really made a difference and that I received, so to speak, a celebrity thank you and an incredible appreciation.

Civil War South Africa 94: ICRC operations in the « ANC-IFP» civil war

1993 accompanied n me photographer friend Marcus Baker to a friend of us , Daniel Sidler, of the ICRC / Red Cross South African delegate to Johanne was stationed sburg, on his journey to the refugee camps, to make matters Probing make to the victims help and support the peace efforts to stabilize the country with a view to a democratic constitution and government of the „rainbow nation“. We drove to the hotspots of the time “Margate” and “Ladysmith”, “Ezakhweni” and “Emphangeni ” , “Mfung” and “Obizo” as well as “Empendle” recorded the burned down houses and the dead. Talks with bereaved relatives and tried to mediate between the conflicting parties. A difficult, if not almost hopeless, task. At that time, there was every 40 minutes to an em murder. 20’000 per year in total .

As part of my humanitarian engagement in South Africa, thanks to the Zulu healer Credo Vusama Mutwa, I was also able to visit Poolsmo or Prison in Cape Town – where Nelson Mandela spent the last years of his imprisonment – with a Canadian team of UN health inspectors. In the 3 ‚ designed 000 prisoners prison around 7 were ‚ 000 prisoners detained. Almost 30% were HIV positive at the time. Many have been detained for years without charge. Quite a few died. The conditions we encountered were terrible. And a tablespoon of tasting in the prison kitchen was enough that I had staphylococci / streptococci afterwards. It was also educationally strange that there was only a plastic gun as a toy in the children’s playroom.

I came to this unique mission because of a spiritual capacity in South Africa. The Zulu Sangoma (healer), Bantu writer & historian Credo Vusama Mutwa . I got to know him in the “ Shamwari Game Reserve“ together with Dr. Jan. player, the rhinoceros savior and “ Wilderness Leadership School“ founder. All night long the incredibly educated person told me the spiritual secrets and ethnic contexts, the cultural characteristics and peculiarities of the Bantu peoples from North to South Africa. It was fascinating and very educational. Only I was just with my two and a half year old daughter Aiala and her mother Roberta the road and had e i nige plans, appointments and meetings regarding other wildlife and ecological projects and could not just stay here and creed in the project „help Kaya Lendaba“.

He wanted the „Shamwari Game Reserve“ to build a multicultural village, would be represented in the all South African ethnic groups , and it should serve as Lightpole for the reunification of the „serve rainbow nation“ and help end the conflict. G erne I would have the training to a „sangoma“ So, a healer done since Creed zutraute me the skills and the mental-spiritual worldview. D ies filled me with pride and would probably a pioneering crossover in my life. Because originally I wanted to work as a game ranger in one of these newly emerging wildlife reserves. I can not help me S chöneres imagine , as a Wildlife Manager to work in an intact and protected environment. That’s why I kept traveling to Botswana, South Africa and Namibia.

4 . Mexico , Cuba, Carnival and US Invaders

Mexico 89: The Easter processions of the Mixtec Indians in Oaxaca

Mexico’s face shines brilliantly , the cradle of archaic high Indian cultures. Both the ancient temples and the richly contrasting, splendid colonial cities of Oaxaca and San Cristobal de las Casas protrude like jewels from the dazzling Sierra Madre. In the homeland of the Tzotziles, Tzetales, Chamulas and Lacandons , the indigenous people are about as original as Valais or Bündner mountain people. And yet the culture, history and landscape are not the same as ours. Their cultures are closer to nature, more anarchic, clan-like and more spiritual.

I spent a few days in Oaxaca , a r magnificent n Colonial City. On the way to pick up my laundry, I happened to look into a back yard where a woman with long, curly hair was standing at a strange machine doing a job that made me curious. She noticed me and called me in , and I saw what she was doing. She was standing in front of an ancient lithography system from the early 19th century and was just printing a few lithographs. Unexpectedly, was I in the studio of the famous oaxacenischen painter Tamayo purely run. We started talking for over two hours. She told me that over Easter she wanted to go to the mountains to see the Indians and their processions over the Easter holidays because she wanted to bring some school books to a teacher. That sounded tempting and inspired me. I’ve always wanted to Indios . Winnetou was the role model in my childhood. The Apaches my inspiration.

So concluded I am Marcela immediately and so we went the next morning with a public bus in the mountains to Zacantepec to almost 3000 meters. The ten hour drive was very arduous. All the while the handle on top holding on I stood between bags, chickens and sitting on the floor children, constantly back and forth rocking, as is the bus on a narrow gravel-pass road with large, deep holes into the mountains high screwed snarling. There were two rest stops due to the two tire changes. As the only gringo on the bus, I towered over the Indians by a head height.

In the dark with thick fog we arrived at the Zapotec Indio Kaff, which consisted of three stone houses, a zocalo and a church with a corrugated iron roof. There was a single Guest House above the only small shop that except a few Tonbüchsen and Mayon e se glasses a few peppers, some coffee and Mezcal schnapps offer had. For a week there was practically nothing to eat. Marcela, the beautiful painter and I were soon in a rather mystical mood. And then came the moment when deeply veiled Indian figures emerged from the ghostly mist from all directions and streamed towards the church. There a padre in a white soutaine gave a pastoral speech in the local Indian dialect in front of the „Virgen de Guadaloupe“ of the black Virgin Mary . But much more fascinating were all the marked by deep furrows Indio faces under their colorful Rebozos , colorful scarves, which they wore on their heads and shoulders . Sparse candlelight Kopal- incense fumes and a spread on the ground, fragrant sea of pine needles and splendidly costumed Honoratoren with silver-sticks as the insignia of their dignity, Transform te n the nave into a mystical world.

Until then, I would not have thought of seeing the Indians in such a Christian pose. I had an idea of ​​the Indians that was shaped by Winnetou films , although I had met some in the USA before. Then it started, that is, the Indian women shouldered the « Virgen de Guadaloupe» and the men of Jesus Christ on their shoulders and then the whole Indian tribe pulled up into the mountains. They split into two groups. I decided the women Fa c Kel and Kerzenlichterzug to join . And so we climbed up the narrow, slippery paths. On the way there were a few rituals of the Way of the Cross and at the 7th station the two trains gathered in a small clearing with a place around the standard bearers and kneeling women with the censer. Now the padre gave another speech and at that moment the sky tore completely open for the first time and the sun appeared like a divine spell on the small Indian community. The chants somehow put me in a trance. It was extraordinary to experience this spiritual experience as the only white and foreigner among the Mixtec Indians. I merged with you and your ancestors, so to speak. D ies must also have sensed Indians and gave me their trust.

When one of the dignitaries broke away and came up to me, I was terrified because I was taking hidden photos of the reunion of Jesus Christ and Mary the Virgin. I got S chiss, they would have caught me taking pictures and I would now be offered in sacrifice and impaled on the lance. But the fear was not unfounded, because tourists who photographed the indigenous Indians have already been killed in Chiapas. Instead, as a gesture of hospitality, I was brought to the center of the procession and was allowed to be one of the three standard-bearers. What a gesture and an honor for me, when I was so critical of them. I was very touched. On many other trips to the indigenous peoples around the globe, I found time and again that I have a special spiritual connection and that I have telepathic abilities.

I opened myself up to the Indians all the more and fell into a trance several times in the following days and in crazy processions . And all without the «Nanacatl» mushrooms or other drugs like Me s calin . Only with half a bottle of mezcal schnapps did I calm the hunger and the revenge of «Montezuma», that is, the upset stomach. And due to the lack of food and the altitude, the alcohol level had a particularly good effect on the intoxicated trance states. There were no longer any language barriers and what was universal overcame all cultural boundaries. And thanks to the young painter from the studio of the famous Mexican painter «Tamayo», I learned more and more about the history and identity of the Mixtecs. From then on I was particularly interested in the natives on all continents.

Witness to the Zapatista Indio uprisings in Chiapas

Thanks to the young Marcela, I learned more and more about the history and identity of the Mixtecs and spent a few more weeks on forays through the indigenous country with her. Years later I returned as a journalist back to Mexico, as as in Chiapas escalated in 1994, the indigenous uprisings and the Mexican military and the soldiers of the army in the region of six villages and in San Cristobal de las Casas marched to the “ MARCOS“ – To push back rebels and to crush the Indio uprising. The six letters “ MARCOS“ were the first letters of the six rebellious Indian communities in the vicinity of San Cristobal. “ M“ argaritas, „A“ ltimirano, „R“ ancho, „N“ uevo, „C“ omitan, „O“ cosingo and „S“ to Cristobal. Ten kilometers further on is San Juan Chamula , the village of the traditional Chamulas, where the uprising began on 1.1.1994. This resulted in the « Subcomandante Marcos » . The jewel and the focal point of the Chamulenic world of belief, where God and the gods merge, Christ rose from the cross to rise again as the sun, is the baroque village church from the 17th century.

There we drove past tanks and roadblocks, military helicopters circled in the sky and soldiers could be seen everywhere. The Chi a pas uprising was initiated by the „Ejercito Zapatista de Liberacion Nacional(EZLN), a so-called radical left movement that rebelled against new state requirements in the state of Chiapas. The Maya Indians suffered from the free trade agreement and the racist policies in administration. And they wanted to defend themselves against it. They were suppressed and excluded from participating in the political process. The conflict began as a EZLN offensive around occupied four cities to San Cristobal de las Casas in January 1994, which the Mexican clothes and eq the situation r spot with weight a l t and should end repression, while also inserting torture. In 2001 the Zapatistas, under the leadership of MARCOS, made a march from Chiapas to Mexico City and on 1st 2003 they took San Cristobal de las Casas. Finally, more and more NGOs advocated peace negotiations and put pressure on the government. Ultimately, however, not much has turned out for the better for the Indian communities. 

In Ocosingo we flew in that time when I with a nutritionist for infants of the UN aid agency (DIF) was there, the balls just as the ears and we had n lucky that no hit and only bullet holes remained . After I escaped from this highly dangerous place, I then experienced a severe earthquake in Chiapas and a hurricane in Yucatan . So Mexico really didn’t save on impressions. It has always been a hell of a hot country, not to mention all the drug cartels that were fighting each other back then. So much for Mexico. Now it’s on to Cuba, the socialist sugar and tobacco paradise in miserable times.

Cuba 93: Among the idealists who feed on hope

In 1993, when my daughter Aiala was just three months old, I flew with her and her mother Roberta with diapers for a month to socialist Cuba. It was about a Swiss film project with Fidel Castro and Geraldine Ch aplin . She 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 plunged into an economic crisis after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the fall of the Berlin Wall and had to undergo a drastic change in system. By „Dollar liberalization“ in the socialist Caribbean paradise in order to pivot from the sugar industry to tourism, took place a revolution of „socialist heart to capitalist mind “ as I wrote in the media .

The classless society was now split into two camps: the one with the green US bills (“ fulanos “ ) and the one with the worthless pesos, the „esperancejos“, the hopeful. The hunt for the „fula“ (bad money) kafka has taken shape. The state tourism organization “ Cubanacan „pulls on the black market together all the goods to offer them to the paying with dollars tourists. Even the fresh fish do not end up on the plate of the starving population, but in a tourist hotel in Havana. At that time, was v ierstöckige department stores – except for a p aar glass beads and plastic rings, a few rifles, potato and a few agricultural products- empty. People stood in line for hours at the farmers‘ markets for a few eggs. There was seldom electricity. Entire districts were pitch black.

„I had never seen such a shocking standstill before“. Precisely for this reason was probably the propaganda machine of the socialist Castro -Regimes at full speed to get us journalists of the advantages of the socialist tourism -P to convince aradieses. Ü convincingly were only the „mojitos“ and the young, very pretty Cuban women as so-called themselves „jineteras» , horseback night entpup p th, which is at the pier of Varadero to the Touristenschiff and were pushed their luck.

But as „embedded“ journalist, I had access to aussergewöh n physical persons, such as the Green derin the women’s organization in the ’60s. So Cuba was way ahead of us. Then the famous oncologist Miranda Martinez who showed me the revolutionary health system and also their weaknesses revealed u nd a revolutionary of the first hour, with Fidel Castro fought side by side. Then I visited Ana Fidelia Quirot ( d as Olympic long-distance miracle) , d ie an explosion in the kitchen suffered as a pregnant woman serious burns and while her child from Sotomayor lost. An exclusive interview that TV stations had been waiting for in vain for a long time.

Even the political power center penetrated we thanks Geraldin Ch Aplin ago. It was yes to a film about Cuba and the „Cuban Star s“ with S wiss and Cuban filmmakers. When interviewed at the hotel „El International“ in Havana , where we lived, my three-month-old daughter sat Aiala on Geraldine’s lap while we conducted the interview. Otherwise it was completely uncomplicated to travel around C uba with a baby . All Cuban women immediately rushed to Aiala and entertained her well and caringly. For „Annabelle“ , a leading women’s magazine in Switzerland, the portraits of women were from all kuban i rule layers planned.

At the end, the sports journalist, who put the whole program together and arranged the contacts with the women, planned a presentation to the assembled Cuban press, radio and television, in which we would talk about the Swiss media landscape and journalism in Switzerland should. We had s not much time to prepare it, and wondered n us good at what we should say n , not too tightly to offend political. It was a balancing act of conveying information with low critical tones. I handed the presentation over to Roberta , because she spoke better Spanish and because we came to Cuba in the context of researching female characters and stories.

Because after we were interviewed by radio journalists and (always with just early the next morning, as we stood at 07.00 already in a mechanical woman workshop Aiala in Snuggli it) just shone an interview on the state broadcaster of yesterday’s presentation and Appearance. That was funny and a brilliant timing and again brought us a lot of sympathy and respect in the women’s workshop . It was an exciting 30 days on Sugar Island, but also an embarrassing state of the country and the hunger and poverty in the population. There was very little tourism back then. That changed quickly, however, because the Cubans urgently needed money and loosened the currency regulations.

The socialist Caribbean island attracted me again and again and thanks to the cooperation with the airline «AOM» I flew over to Sugar Island almost every year between 1993 and 1998 and stayed with a Cuban family, an elderly couple who lived in the tallest skyscrapers at the time on the Malecon next to the legendary Hotel „El International“ lived. There was a room there with its own entrance and a connecting door to their apartment. That was perfect for the social exchange with the married couple Claris and Nilo and my nightly escapades. Despite harsh controls and spying, I was able to cultivate my liasons , even cultivate them, bought myself a Chinese bike and rode all over Old Havana. Cuba was not a crowded tourist paradise then. But that changed quickly thanks to the regime’s efforts to open up the country to tourism and to create the first tourist enclaves.

Grenada 92: On the US John Rodgersfor press breakfast

This year I went on a sailing trip with the “ Paso Doble “ from Grenada to Trinidad and arrived at the time when the 10th anniversary of the „liberation“ or „occupation“ of Grenada, depending on the point of view, was being celebrated by US forces. I came with my friend Roberta and we found out in the Caribbean that she was pregnant.

Then we were able to attend the official ceremony with the Prime Minister of Grenada, Breathwater and the US Ambassador in the presence of high-ranking US military personnel, whereupon we were greeted by the US Ambassador’s PR lady for a press breakfast on the aircraft carrier “US- John Rodgers“ to be invited, which I did not want to miss. After all , that doesn’t happen every day at breakfast on a warship that had enormous potential for destruction. And so it happened. A US Navy boat picked us up on the beach and went over to where we talk about with the commander and his press-Adjudantin the US policy led. In retrospect, this visit was not a good idea because I had been on the radar of the US authorities and secret services since that incident and felt this at a later point in time in the Philippines and got me into some «troubles » , which ultimately led to «Persona non grata »was declared in the Philippines. Presumably my many visits to Cuba, which I made to the Caribbean tropical island in the 90s, were also followed critically.

Let’s briefly look back at why the Americans brought about an upheaval in Grenada. The trigger was Maurice Bishop of Grenadian, the son of parents born in Aruba from the age of 6 in Grenada lived Jura in England studied, where he the political ideas of the ’68 movement, the Black Power movement and the Trinidadian Marxist C. LR James before returning to the Caribbean in 1969 .

He began to build workers‘ councils in Grenada on the Soviet model, founded a socialist party, the New Jewel Movement (NJM, Jewel stands for Joint Endeavor for Welfare, Education and Liberation) and founded unions . He enjoyed the approval of the population , who were dissatisfied with the corrupt rule of Sir Eric Gairy and his Mongoose Gang, a “thugs”. After Gairy had probably falsified the elections , Maurice Bishop came to power on March 13, 1979 in an almost bloodless coup, which was supported by the people, and became Prime Minister of Grenada. The human rights situation improved under Bishop. He relied on social reforms , such as the introduction of a free health system and the building of new schools, and maintained good relations with the Soviet Union and Cuba, which supported Grenada with development aid and with the construction of the airport. That didn’t suit the USA at all. On October 25, 1983, the United States began an invasion code-named Operation Urgent Fury, in the course of which the government was ousted.

That was probably one of the few US operations that ultimately came off lightly for the civilian population and led to stabilization. The US invasion of Panama was not too disastrous either, but all other interventions, invasions and infiltrations on the part of the US from the Vietnam War to the Afghanistan mission, the failed Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba, the devastating Iraq war that led to IS has, the overthrow of Gaddhafi in Libya, the skirmishes in the war in Syria, in all these conflicts the USA failed miserably as the aggressor and world policeman. A “failed state” in my eyes. With unmistakable consequences for the whole world: The radicalization in the Muslim world, a boost for terrorist organizations like Al Qaeda and IS and so on, and has now reached a domestic political climax with Trump. The “War on Drugs” proclaimed by the USA was also a disaster for 50 years and now the United States are drowning on their hundreds of thousands of opiate deaths with increasing weed liberalization and have left behind a deeply divided society. Good night and bye bye good old America, one can only say.

Hell trip in Colombia in the service of Swissair

If one hears or speaks about Colombia, then mostly drugs, murder and corruption are mentioned. The sunny side of Colombian life and the beauties of the Andes and the jungle state rarely come to light. Anyone who fearlessly faces the Terra incognita in the Garden of Eden in South America despite poverty and violence will be drawn to the magic of Colombia and the fiery temperament of the population.

Only a few countries are dotted with the impressive variety of landscapes and an incomparable wealth of natural wonders, such as the V ated largest state Lat e inamerikas. In northern Colombia, the Eastern, Western and Central dominate – Cordillera. Three massive strands of the Andes with snow-capped peaks rising up to 5000 meters, the topographical panopticon of the country. They contain fertile valleys with volcanic ash soils on which coffee plantations, vegetable and grain fields and fruit trees flourish, and fragrant flowers and spice bushes bloom. Mining brings to light the most beautiful emeralds as well as gold, platinum, silver and also abundant coal and oil deposits.

In the Amazon it is as if time has stood still. Fitzgeraldo’s adventures come back to life on the spiritual horizon – there are still thousands of dangers lurking in the tropical rainforest. The Yaguas Indios are not a threat, although they still blow deadly poison arrows from their blowguns when hunting animals and birds. Crocodiles and pirahas prevent a swim in the cool Amazon. Along the Andean foothills, endless savannas with cattle pastures spread out in the north, which in the east turn into wild areas like the Guajira peninsula. White sandy beaches line the coasts of the Caribbean islands of San Andres and Providencia off Nicaragua’s coast. Over 40 nature reserves and national parks totaling 10 million hectares in size, which represent a kind of genetic treasure chest and information bank about the development of our planet, bear witness to the immense wealth of fauna and flora in Colombia. The harbingers of the jungle begin less than 100 kilometers from Bogota. But to get there you have to have overcome the grueling pass road of the Sierra Oriental at an altitude of 3700 meters above sea level and then mastered and survived the winding descent along abyssal gorges to a hundred meters above sea level.

The sun is just setting on the blood-red colored horizon over the steaming jungle, where shortly before dawn the tropical thunderstorm rained down heavily on the esmerald green jungle and also on the silver fuselage of the DC-6, with which we drove through the lashing propeller with a loud howl rain fl ying. The pilot’s forehead is also covered with thick water pearls. That looks like severe landing conditions. The propeller motors roaringly fight against the dense, swiftly passing clouds. The view from the small round windows sweeps over the Amazon basin, its rivers and islands. Now we are about to land and soon glide over the bumpy jungle runway.

For historians, architects and culturally ambitious the visit Cartagena, one of the most beautiful colonial-Reliq u ia very Lat e inamerikas, the highest of all emotions. The formerly important port city of the continent for the slave trade and seat of the then feared Inquisition Tribunal, a place of tragedy and heroes, adventurers and legends, is rich in castles, monasteries and museums, all of which are part of the world cultural heritage.

The original places, colonial metropolises of Colombia, the villages of the Yagua – Indians near Leticia in the triangle of three countries, the Caribbean flair of the holiday island of San Andres off the coast of Nicaragua and the dwellings of the farmers in the great natural areas combine to form a grandiose microcosm. Ü berragt of the Andes, embraced by the jungle and umwogt from the Caribbean and Pacific Symphony of the oceans, seething life of Colombians between happiness and despair, anger and powerlessness, commutes from exuberant joy of life, carried by cheerful dance music, through to the deepest sadness the victims of poverty, drug barons, corrupt politicians and tyrants. Colombians live, love and suffer life to the fullest. You will be carried away, dive in, maybe even under and with a little luck more well protected – almost on foot and leave the country again, peppered with unforgettable experiences.

In Bogota I met my professional colleague Hans-Jörg Egger. From there we flew in all directions. First n oh Letiza the border triangle Brazil, Colombia and Peru in the south of the Amazon, to Cartagena in the colonial pearl, according to Cali, then the drug stronghold of Pablo Escobar. Then to Villa Vicencio and finally up to the Caribbean island of San Andres , which lies off the coast of Nicaragua. A very ambitious program in one week and that was only possible because we arrived at the airport 15 minutes before the plane took off.

That worked perfectly, only on the last flight to Equador, which was again an international flight, we didn’t think that the procedure would take much longer. When we got to the counter and found out that boarding had already been completed, I showed two business cards to the staff at the check-in counter and said: „Stop the airplaine, now, immediately“. And just ran through the gate past the surprised securities onto the airfield. Hans-Jörg panted next to me, after all we had a lot of camera luggage in tow.

Without being shot at, we ran towards the plane, which had closed all doors and was taxiing. At the same time we saw a stair vehicle speeding towards the plane and the jet stopped. After a few dozen meters we made it and were allowed to hurry up the stairs, the doors were opened and we were on board. „Wo w, what awesome action“. Why did the plane stop? D ie a business card was that of Colombian aviation minister ’s and the other that of the Airport Director of Bogota. We had interviewed both people beforehand. And so it happened that for us two Swiss journalists in Colombia, a commercial aircraft on an international flight was stopped on the taxiway for departure and the board doors opened.

Since our boarding was already quite spectacular, we were allowed to take turns in the third pilot’s seat in the cockpit of this machine and experience the flight to Quito. It was then that I became aware for the first time how fast it goes when two commercial aircraft speed towards each other at 700 kilometers per hour. I was able to experience that on the spectacular approach to landing in Quito, when a machine that took off from there flew very close and very quickly past our cockpit. Only saw it only a tiny point that was enlarges rapidly and quickly to a spat over. Even more glaring was the flight with the military aircraft over the Andes, during which I was quite dazed as a result of the acceleration. I wasn’t as fit as a military pilot after all.

Guyana 1997/2003 : From the jungle straight to the space mission

Thanks to the cooperation with the «AOM», which linked the French departments d o utre Mer, ie French Guyana, Guadeloupe, Martinique, the South Seas or New Caledonia with Paris, I was able to fly to Cuba almost once a year and was also short in Guadeloupe, three weeks in the South Seas and now on the flight to French Guyana in the backyard of the Grande Nation, where the pepper grows, the political prisoners were banished and the European Space Station (ESA) is located in Kourou . The most exotic of all EU members is at best by the movie „Papillon“ , known as the former penal colony. The image of French Guyana, however, is also shaped by vague ideas and illustrious legends.

Guyana’s reputation as a dangerous country, populated with armies of poisonous insects, terrible tarantulas, deadly snakes, meter-long aligators and piranhas is probably true, but beyond that, the country where Europe expires is evaporating and one of them disappears in the green jungle thicket most stable in the region.

„The most dangerous creature here is humans, followed by wasps, „says Philippe Gilabert, the founder of „CISAME“ (Center Initiation Survie et Aventure au Millieu Equatorial), an idyllic camp in the middle of the green hell after a pirogue trip upriver about 60 kilometers Banks of the Approuague near the Brazilian border. “ D eople “ , so says the former parachutist Legion Etrangere and terrorism expert Gilabert, „is the most harmful creature for the fragile Eco circle of primary forest. D ann came the wasps but only for the unwary people are a threat, added d he then 43-year-old Frenchman ironically. He and Manoel, a Karipuna Rainforest Indio, it must know the n they specialize on bringing all the jungle closer (as they would like) and the hardest one 10 days Survival Training offer. So practicing Z ivilisationsgeschädigte once in archery, traps, climbing, canoeing, fishing, Feu ermachen and build shelters before he make his own experiences t as it is , having to survive in the jungle.

In Kourou , not far from Guyana’s capital Cayenne , in the European aviation center, the “Center Spacial” of the (ESA), reveals itself to the curious travelers to develop new living spaces rich in contrasts. From here goes / went the journey into space until Elon Musk tinkered new bases and spaceships. The town itself has nothing, except the usual lesson in the class hierarchy of the country. In the old town live the socially weakest, the Creoles, Indians and white laborers, surrounded by out of place concrete buildings for the middle class and on the beach the magnificent villas of the Europeans, the scientists and employees of the space station.

From the space station I take a boat to Devil’s Island, known as the penal colony in the film Papillon. The three islands off the coast, Ille Royaale, St. Jospeh and Ille Diable, where political prisoners were detained for years in extreme conditions before being guillotined. Some, it is said here, would have preferred to be eaten by the sharks on their flight through the sea than to have to continue to suffer the earthly hardships here . Guyana’s highlights include the country’s wild west. In particular, the picturesque colonial city of St. Laurent-du-Moroni, on Grenzflus s to Surinam is worth a visit. The colorful mix of peoples of Indios, jet-black pirogue guides, busy Indochinese and Hmongs who came here via France on the run from the Pol Pot regime, but also Haitian fabric dealers, Dominicans and Creoles of all shades and a few whites was impressively diverse .

During this time I also spent a lot of time at the Rote Fabrik, which was also one of the few hot spots in Zurich for young people at the time. There I also met my third girlfriend, a woman and artist named Betty Weber, who was also seven years older than me. She was a Nubian, i.e. a black woman, and also a very creative artist. I had no fear of touching mature women of any skin color and also learned to „cook on old pans,“ as we casually called a relationship between a younger man and an older woman at that time.

On the last evening before our departure, we, a small group of journalists from Switzerland, went on a late night pilgrimage through the harbor district of the capital Ceyenne and we were already quite drunk after the damp happy rounds in some pubs. Obviously one had observed us, because at a rather dark crossing, suddenly from all sides a few figures stepped from the house cracks rapidly towards us. I could just still warn my companions with a loud call, then someone sprayed me from behind coming, tear gas in the eyes, whereupon I could see nothing more and inhaled of course the irritant gas also coughing. I whirled around like a dervish and began to swing my camera equipment around to keep the three attackers at a distance, which I could only see very dimly. Then I broke through on one side and ran up the street until I was out of breath and out of reach of the gang. My colleagues were also lucky and still managed to fight back. With this adventure behind us, we left the country the next day and flew back to Switzerland.

2004: Stationed in northeastern Brazil

2003, I was for three months as a resident manager for a Swiss travel company in Fortalezza stationed in northeastern Brazil and was there a damn good time. W enig guests, so no stress, a hotel room just off the Beira Mar, which is like in Rio at the Copacabana u nd a good vehicle with which I as far as Jericoacoara to the fantastic sand dunes or in the south to Moro Branco could drive.

The Brazilian attitude towards life has already attracted me a lot on previous trips. Before that, I was in Rio de Janeiro , at the carnival in Salvador de Bahia , on the holiday island of Buzio and learned a little Portuguese as a result . Since I spoke Spanish well, it was easier for me to get started and I like the Brazilian dialects better. Au ch music a lle r Latin American sounds enchanted me: From the Tango in Argentina over the Bossa Nova of Gilberto Gil in Brazil and the folk dance Forro, as in Fortalezza, from salsa and Son on Cuba Merengue on the Dominican Republic, all these musical styles and T a nzformen talk to me. The eroticism is uniquely seductive. And so do the women. „Mamma mia. Simply hot and sweet as sugar at the same time ”.

I never quite understood why so many Swiss men were drawn to Thailand. Maybe I underestimate the seductive art of Asian, but I have just lat e inamerikanische and African cultures significantly closer. And since Fortalezza is, so to speak, the Bangkok of Brazil and weekly dozens of fully occupied cheap charter flights flew in from Amsterdam and Rome and fueled prostitution, I too made fiery acquaintances and a few amours. After three months of next came insert command and the culture shock would not have been glaring. Because the next stationary assignment should be in Sinai. But before in the Sinai and then to Lebanon goes , I would anticipate that I after Ä Egypt equal returned to Brazil and here lived another four months and reports now equal about it.

Z ack in Fortalezza, I lived only two months in the favela „Serviluz“ near the „Praia do Futuro“ at a friend’s. I had a simple room in his brick house and I felt very comfortable there. I soon knew a lot of people and the neighbors in the favela knew me, so I had no problems moving around freely. It was a comfortable hangover time because I had done good foreign exchange deals with tourists in Sinai and in Brazil before that. That was always a bearable additional source of income for the job. In Poland I almost became a zloty millionaire.

Then a friend from Switzerland visited me and we rented a “Highlux”, an off-roader, to drive up along the Brazilian coast from Fortalezza in the state of Ceara via the federal states of Maranhao and Piaui to Manaus and to make the return journey inland. That is a good 6000 kilometers that I covered in 11 days. the The terrain rides were almost more comfortable than the ride on the asphalt, which was completely covered with holes that were up to half a meter deep. D He asphalt looked , like after a nationwide Bombenbangriff. There, I drove almost permanently de m gravel strip on the right of the road to. You get ahead faster and stir up a lot of dust , which can be seen from afar.

The trip passed through Jericoacoara, a fantastic landscape of dunes, which in the next state of Maranhao was surpassed in beauty by the lakes in the sand dunes. A fascinating area. Deserts like me better , as jungles. You get on better. In the 4×4 at least. But here, I would be without the help of e inheimischen arg stranded fishermen. Numerous rivers had to be crossed on the trip and most of the time it went very well. But then we came to a river that was only very broad and shallow on our side, it was a small S andinselchen before the point where the river flowed through a narrow, traveling mouth like a funnel.

You could see it from 40 meters away. That was probably the most dangerous st e Stelle. If I couldn’t cross the last eight to ten meters to the tiny river island at full throttle, it would look bad. And that’s exactly how it was. So I drove with a lot of thrust through the 30-meter- wide, shallow spot towards the island, but there it came to a standstill and as a result I reached the raging flow with little momentum, with the bonnet at a 45 degree angle stuck three-quarters in the water. We managed to get out of the river only thanks to a boat in the lazy river that lifted the car a little and a car that pulled us back over the shallow river with a wire rope. We were lucky that there were fishermen nearby and that a vehicle came after three or four hours.

Another time, I was walking alone in the brooding midday heat and got stuck in the deep sand. It took four hours and endless Ruckelstösse for a few centimeters, until I return to could drive. The sand was burning hot and I s chaufelte for hours like a madman . I didn’t think I would be able to do it after being completely exhausted after two hours and having to take a break. After a few days we drove to the next state to Piaui and from there to Manaus .

2009: Amazon cruise from Iquitos (Peru) to Havana

In 2006 I had the unique opportunity to take part in an exclusive cruise on the „MS Bremen“, which went from the Peruvian city of Iquitos on the upper reaches of the Amazon to Manaus with scientists, nature and environmental experts on board. Thanks to the rafts , one could go so pure from the ship into the tangled side arms and learned a lot about the forest and the Indians, who in these remote Ö lived co-refuges. In the evening there was always talks and statistical facts about the loss of biodiversity, from the dwindling d s flora and fauna and associated with global warming at this location effects that affect the global climate.

On board were Dr. John H. Harwood , Amanzonian Neotropic and Biomass Expert (INPA), then Prof. Dr. Lothar Staeck from the Technical University in Berlin, an expert in biology and biodiversity, as well as Dr. Harmut Roder, historian and museum scientist and lecturer at the University of Bremen, Dr. Thomas Henningsen, expert in marine biology and river dolphins and campaign manager for forests and seas at Greenpeace Germany and Dr. Claudia Roedel, E x Pertin for biology and tropical east ecology. So a truly took exemplary team of experts, d as in such a diversified and high-profile cast is hard to find.

The plan was in Iquitos on board „to go MS Bremen“ going from Cachamarca in the highlands of Peru to the Inca thermal baths of via a stopover in Lima forth coming. But as a result of an appointment error, the „MS Bremen“ had left hours ago without me . Now I stood there and tried to charter a boat for three days to follow the luxury steamer. When I was finally able to travel to Manaus on a small speed boat , it finally took a week to catch up with the «MS- Bremen». On the wild boat sreise was me a backpack stolen and crossing the border from Peru to Brazil was still adventurous it . We arrived at the border in the dark of night. There was no hut to sleep there. On the other hand in Brazil, yes. Two fellow travelers and I found an old man who drove us over and kindly picked us up the next morning in Brazil and paddled back with us to Peru , as we had to cross the border properly in order not to arrive illegally in Brazil.

After the border crossing operation was successful and soon afterwards, after a 1000 kilometers of adventurous boat trip and six days later, I was burnt down and at the end of my tether on board the „MS Bremen“, I first relaxed on the luxury steamer and received delicious meals. Not only with valuable information and great lectures, but also with fantastic buffets and high-quality entertainment.

Dergestalt the journey on the luxury liner continued to French Guyana as a stopping off Cuba and the largest n track over open sea before us. The Ue berfahrt was quite calm. No wave to be seen. The sea as smooth as a mirror and the horizon endless. Nice in the morning at sunrise and even better in the evening at sunset. Otherwise boring if you didn’t give in to the social appearances. The coke helped perfectly over boredom and reached as far as Cuba. There I separated from the Munich couple and went my own way again. For the first time I arrived in Havana on a large cruise ship and that is a completely different , sublime sight and a different form of arrival . Much better than the castle across from the bay.

6. Chapter/Orient: In Sinai, Lebanon and the Iranian Embassy

Egypt 2004: Witness oft wo terror attacks and living with the Beduines

Arriving in Sinai in 2005, more precisely in Sharm el Sheikh, the situation as resident manager for a Swiss tour operator was again quite different from that in Brazil. Here I had to take care of about 700 guests per week, arriving with various flights on almost every day, and in addition I had to manage dozens of excursions every day, and all this under difficult conditions. This was a real challenge and about as intense as in London in 1987. First, the local tour operator was lousy and incompetent, whereupon I suspended the cooperation after two warnings with the agent on site and reorganized. I had already done this in Brazil and in both cases I made the right decision, which I then took advantage of. On the other hand, of course, I had a lot of problems with the discontinued cooperation partners and the renewed excitement in the Swiss travel center. But since I had proven my talent with restructuring in Brazil and the agent I had used had proven himself, they trusted me and were never disappointed. Operationally, I was an ace and also a master of improvisation. I also had a crisis-tested background, plenty of experience and good intuition. Most importantly. The many trips through conflict regions and to the world’s most inhospitable places in more than 50 countries, sharpened my keen intuition and eagle eyes, honed sensitivity and intuition to the point of occasional telepathy. Thanks to my analytical and tactical-strategic skills paired with quick-wittedness, rhetorical dominance, expertise, a good portion of cheekiness from the 80s and in full confidence in my guardian angel, I have always dared the extraordinary, so according to the motto. „What is a life worth giving up before it has begun for fear of death!“

The first two months as resident manager in Sinai I lived in the „Radisson „Hotel“ with all tourist amenities, good infrastructure and nice ambience. Then I was shipped 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 of Sharm-el-Sheikh at night. Because right behind the last hotel is the checkpoint, which closes in the evening at 18.00 o’clock. 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 Bedouin life in the Sinai. And with outside temperatures during the day topping 50 degrees Celsius, life in the desert happens at night. Since I had already 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 with my Bedouin friend.

The drive 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 then with much speed over the dunes to drive, without getting into the faltering, because without 4-wheel drive was here normally nothing to make. But I found an ideal route and bret-terte twice a week at night into the desert purely, in order to parlieren with the young Beduin, to philosophize and the sparkling stars without light pollution to enjoy. There I also saw the entry of the last space shuttle into the earth’s atmosphere in an unforgettable glowing spectacle in the firmament. During about one and a half minutes the luminous earth satellite comet and point of light with its huge fire tail, which must have been several hundred kilometers long, buzzed in the starry sky over the whole globe and disappeared at the horizon at its destination. That was an illuminating desert spectacle. Especially since I was not aware or known at that moment that a spaceship would enter the earth’s atmosphere and so I first rubbed my eyes with the Bedouin, what an extraordinary meteorite that was, which went over the whole firmament and 180 degrees horizon.

In Sinai I got to know opium that the Bedouins eat to get through the desert. This really helps enormously when you cross the Sinai or other deserts on a camel. I tried it out with the Bedouins living near the shipwreck „Maria Schröder“ on my camel trip from Sharm-el-Sheikh via Dahab to the St. Qatarine monastery at the foot of Mount Moses. At over 45 degrees in the shade, the rocking journey took four days on the dromedary through the rugged valleys of the Sinai Mountains. It was tough, but thanks to opium rations I rode through the desert like a dervish. It must have had a similar „powerfull“ effect as the „Pervertin“ that allowed the Nazis to march through France and was also used on the battlefield on the war front in the East. Or the speed pills given to Japanese kamikaze pilots for their „heroic“ death flights.

At the time I was in the Sinai, there were two of three terrorist attacks. The first was in Taba, the second in Sharm-el-Sheikh, the third in Dahab and fortunately nothing happened to any of our guests. But the fear was great and the security measures in front of each hotel were rigorous. Each car was carefully mirrored and frisked before entering the hotel driveway. On the evening of April 24, 2006, a terrorist attack was carried out in Dahab 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. In July 2005, the next and worst terrorist attack took place in Sharm El-Sheikh. Several explosive devices killed 88 people and injured over 100. At that time, there was high alert in Sinai in the military controls increased. The „MFO“ troops were on high alert. Whenever Mubarak landed in Sharm el Sheikh and drove a few miles to the port in a convoy, every 50 meters an armed, white-clad guard stood for hours to the right and left of the roadway in the dust-dry desert in the blazing sun. So here, too, I could not complain about a lack of action on the fringes of world politics and in my tour-guide activities.

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. Through the whole Sinai, from the southern tip of Sharm-el-Sheikh in one day to Cairo including the return trip with a total of over 1000 km and a good 30 military roadblocks along the way. My local co-driver and I managed the feat and needed 27 hours for the 1000 km 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 through the barriers built in a serpentine line at about 70 kilometers per hour – nota bene without touching a single one. The accompanying driver behind me accomplished the daredevil maneuver just as well and with tires squealing as well as smoking we drove past the baffled soldiers, immediately stepped on the gas pedal again to quickly get out of the line of fire, extinguished for safety the lights and turned after approximately 10 KM of the road into the desert and broke us a way by the mountains and the sand dunes up to Sharm el Sheikh, because otherwise at the next roadblock communicated over radio end stop would have been. Also here my guardian angels, of which I have a whole specialist troop, had done a great job. Apart from that, I miss nothing except the great moments with the Bedouins and the camel trip. The culture of the Egyptians has remained strange to me.

 Again, probably primarily a language problem. If I could speak Arabic, it would look quite different. Even the legendary „Pasha Club“, which attracted thousands of ravers every week, was lost on me. Through the assignment in the Sinai, I was of course also increasingly introduced and initiated into the geostrategic situation and conflicts, even if the Middle East was not my preferred travel region.

Lebanon 2006: In the Palestinian Camp „Shatila

It was once again an old „airline connection“ that brought me to Lebanon, because I always wanted to go there. In my youth Lebanon was the „Switzerland of the Middle East“, a cultural stronghold in the Orient, a melting pot of jet set, dropouts and creative music freaks. Moreover, from the Beeka Plain came, in my eyes, the world’s best shit, that is, hashish made from hand-harvested hemp flowers, of the finest taste and feel, and provided with particularly intense and fragrant flavors. Tempi passati, when I finally arrived in Lebanon. By then the country was already scarred by war with Israel and economically devastated, as well as socially deeply divided between ethnic groups such as the Shiites, Sunites, Druze and Maronites, as well as other ethnic groups. Beirut was a hot ground and a tricky mission, even for a crisis-tested reporter. The biggest problem was that I didn’t speak or understand a word of Arabic. I have visited many conflict regions and experienced the critical hot phases myself, but I did not dare to venture into 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 at all. I could not use these aces here. During my short stay I was stopped and briefly interrogated by the Lebanese army three times in one day alone and 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. But 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 by Phalangist militias, i.e. Christian Maroni 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. Since the fighting was a conflict between Christian militias and Palestinian fighters, the international outrage was ignited by Israeli co-responsibility. This is because after the Israeli military withdrew to a security zone off the Israeli border, Syria took military control of the area around the refugee camp. And they allowed hundreds of Palestinians to be massacred. Since Syria was also interested in weakening the „PLO“ fighters and Palestinian nationalists who remained in Lebanon, the situation of the people in the refugee camp became even worse. In the course of the camp wars, the Shiite Amal militia perpetrated a massacre of civilians in the same Palestinian refugee camps of Sabra and Shatila in May 1985, which was condoned by Lebanese and Syrian army units. The Lebanese civil war continued until 1990, and the massacre was subsequently deemed a genocide by the United Nations General Assembly on December 16, 1982. So much for this tragic story of the Palestinian refugees in Lebanon.

After exploring Beirut a bit, I made a side trip to Byblos, which is one of the oldest cities in the world and has been inhabited for over 7000 years. The port has been used since the Stone Age. The town was also made famous by the legend of Adonis, who died a day’s journey away at the source of the Adonis River. The rise of Byblos came with the need of the Egyptian Pharaohs for Lebanese cedar wood for their ships. Then came the Greeks, who gave the place its present name, when papyrus played the greatest role in the rise of the Phoenicians, because it was here that the first alphabet was created, and Byblos therefore became the birthplace of writing and the Bible. After the Asyrians and Babylonians, the Persians conquered the area until Alexander the Great imposed the Greek influence. Finally, the Romans also arrived in Byblos. A city that historically has always played a great role and has experienced different influences and currents.

Considering that in the 1970s and early 1980s Lebanon was a very liberal country with a pronounced French savoir vivre, and Beirut, as well as Tehran in Iran and Kabul in Afghanistan, were strongholds of pleasure and attracted the international jet set as well as dropouts on their way to India, Beirut now only radiated a pathetically run-down „disaster chick“. The traces of wars and bombings are unmistakable and very depressing. When, in 2020, the entire port blew up and pulverized the surrounding neighborhood, the state, which had been bled dry by a number of clans, had reached the end of its rope. In addition, Lebanon is also carrying another burden, that of the more than one and a half million Syrian refugees. A hopeless situation for the cedar country. With the rented car I drove from the temple ruins of the Unesco World Heritage Byblyos to Tripoli and then up into the high mountains to Bsharreh to the Maronite rock monasteries. Unfortunately, there was not enough time for the Bekka plain. Today Lebanon is an imploded, highly corrupt, stale state and the religious groups are more divided than ever. But let us remember that Europe was also shaken by religious conflicts for over 150 years until a secular society emerged.

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 drug 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.

UN drug investigators noted another Persian anomaly at the time: while all countries had destroyed the drugs they seized, of the 18.4 tons of drugs seized, only 329 kilos were destroyed in Iran, with 152 kilos going to the legal trade. of the remaining 17 tons, the Shah had them distributed around the world via his diplomatic couriers. Suspicions that Persian diplomats were smuggling heroin and opiates for their emperor’s foreign exchange coffers had not just arisen since the Huschang affair in Geneva, who had already been charged and imprisoned twelve years earlier in Paris for possession and use of drugs.In 1961, when poppy planting was banned in Iran, the Shah’s twin sisters, Princess Ashraf, were also reportedly caught at Geneva’s Coin-trin airport with a suitcase full to the brim of heroin. Only their diplomatic immunity, according to the „National-Zeitung“, had protected them from prosecution. What does the situation look like today?

Iran’s drug problems have increased and are causing a stir at home as well as internationally. In June 2017, Iran’s Central Narcotics Control Board announced that, according to one study, 2.8 million to 3 million Iranians between the ages of 15 and 65 were addicted to drugs. Observers estimate their number is even higher. Drug abuse has thus doubled in six years. In 2016, a member of parliament’s social affairs committee revealed that some addicts are as young as 11. Particularly troubling is the trend and latent drug abuse among women. Sometimes drug-addicted mothers give birth to addicted babies. A vicious spiral. The escalation resembles a national epidemic and affects people from different backgrounds. The middle class may use illicit substances as recreational drugs. Hopelessness, however, seems to play a significant role in the growing abuse. Desperation as a result of sanctions and the Corona crisis is widespread in Iran and is growing with the lack of economic prospects and political alternatives. Economic hardship-the result of decades of mismanagement and corruption-and international sanctions have left a strong psychological impact on society. Iran’s geographic proximity to Afghanistan, the center of opium production, also contributes. Ninety percent of the world’s opium poppy crop comes from the neighboring country, which shares a 1,000-kilometer border with Iran. According to Parviz Afshar, spokesman for the Central Narcotics Control Board, opium is the most commonly used narcotic in Iran, accounting for about two-thirds of the total amount of drug use. Marijuana and its derivatives are now in second place at about 12 percent. They have replaced methamphetamines. Cannabis products are thought to be used mainly by younger people, who also talk about them more freely than other drug users. Open sharing on social networks and the legalization of cannabis in parts of the Western world have contributed to its popularity, believes Abbas Deylamizadeh, head of the non-governmental Rebirth Charity Society. Since the 1979 revolution, the Iranian government has tried to crack down on drug cultivation and use, as well as alcohol consumption. Again, without success and with serious consequences

According to the Islamic law in force in Iran, all of this is forbidden. The laws are strict and have been vigorously enforced. Dubious policy of severity: Until last year, the policy showed no tolerance for drug offenders. Possession of even the smallest amounts of hard drugs, such as heroin or cocaine, was punishable by death. Over the past decades, thousands of drug offenders were arrested and executed. But the rigid policy was not successful. The drug crisis has worsened. But President Hassan Rohani’s government persuaded parliament and the Guardian Council to amend drug laws last year. The reform eliminates the death penalty for certain drug offenses. It is estimated that this has already saved the lives of close to 4,000 inmates on death row. What was not abolished was the death penalty for possession of or trafficking in at least two kilograms of hard drugs or 50 kilograms of opium or cannabis. It also continues to apply to repeat offenders. 

The Murderous God State and General Qassam Soleimani’s Execution

What „the hell“ made 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 against Shah Reza Pahlevi in the embassy in Bern, I do not know. I was thinking of a short media appointment and a few words „on the state of the nation“. But things turned out differently. I was the only media representative and photographer among a hand-picked selection of non-state guests. All the other 150 or so invited guests were diplomats or 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 greeted by Alireza Salari. Switzerland and the Iranian Embassy in Bern as well as the accredited representatives to the United Nations play an important role in world politics in the diplomatic relations between Iran and the United States. As in the case of Cuba, Switzerland serves as a neutral country and mediator of diplomatic interests between these countries.

The nuclear negotiations with Iran also took place in Montreux. In this sense, Switzerland and the „UN“ in Geneva are the hub for U.S. diplomatic relations with Iran and Cuba. However, we do not want to talk about that here, but first introduce a string-puller of Iranian foreign policy and look at his abilities as well as his great influence on world affairs, which by far exceeded that of American presidents. General Qassam Soleimani, the „Che Guevara“ of the Iranian revolution also ended up something like his famous Cuban predecessor, who had the same idea and exported the Cuban revolution not only to all Latin American countries, but he went so far as to logically support communist or Marxist countries in Africa. Gaddafi, after all, went about financing liberation and terrorist organizations (depending on your view and use of language) in much the same way .

General Qassam Soleimani, Tehran’s longtime gray eminence, was appointed by Khomenei to head the „Khuz“ brigades in 1998 and coordinated attacks on the Israeli occupiers from Lebanon until they withdrew two years later. In retrospect, Israel’s invasion of Lebanon is one of its gravest mistakes because it fueled Iran to build up Hezbollah in Lebanon and attack Sunnis in Iraq with Shiite militias, as then-Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian acknowledged. General Qassam Soleimani was the creator of the „Axis of Resistance to Imperialism“ and the longtime chief strategist in Iranian foreign policy aimed at engaging imperialists abroad and uniting the Shiite community throughout 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 unit.

Iran has benefited from the collapse of Iraq and the aftermath of the Arab Spring, massively expanding its influence in the region. Tehran is driven by three main interests: the three components of Iranian foreign policy are ideological, geopolitical and security strategies. Ideologically, Iran sees itself on the one hand 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 and expand its influence in the region. The rivalry is being played out in Syria or Yemen. Since Iran is militarily inferior to its most powerful neighbors in terms of strength, it is shifting its defensive disposition to neighboring countries.

A powerful network of non-state actors is essential in this context. Tehran’s regional policy decisions are made by the Supreme National Security Council, which includes the president, representatives of the revolutionary leader, the commanders of the armed forces and, in operational terms, the Quds (Jerusalem) Brigades. It also includes the Pasdaran, the paramilitary revolutionary guards. The supranational network includes cooperation and support for Hamas in the Palestinian territories and the Gaza Strip. In Lebanon, as mentioned, Hezbollah plays a crucial role, and there are good state-level contacts with the Assad regime. This is Iran’s asymmetric warfare in the Middle East, which has been successful so far.

When Osama Bin Laden reduced the Twin Towers to rubble, the Yanks suddenly wanted to know more from the Iranians about the Taliban and the situation in Afghanistan. Iran also saw Osama Bin Laden as an enemy, so Solemani, as head of the Khuz Brigades in Geneva, provided the CIA with key intelligence. But the Iranian-American alliance did not last long, already the stupid Bush fired up the Iranians again to enemies of the state and kreeirte the „axis of evil“. Iran, feeling threatened by the U.S. intervention in Iraq and by being surrounded by aggressive, imperialist U.S. troops, intervened at the United Nations and they warned the Americans of the consequences of intervention in Iraq in Geneva. But the Americans then „within a few months destroyed the entire structure in Iraq, weakened the state and disbanded the armed forces,“ according to Hossam Dawod, an advisor to the Iraqi dictator. „The foundations of Iraqi society were totally destroyed in the process.“

Soleimani also took advantage of the power vacuum created by the Yanks. „He played a central role in the post-war development in Iraq“ and influenced history there as well, in which he sent the Iraqi Shiite militias trained in Iran back home, equipped them with weapons and also supported them financially, several insiders confirm. As a result, the pro-Iranian Hezbollah attacked U.S. forces so mercilessly that the Americans had to withdraw, once again leaving behind a gigantic mess that will occupy the Western and Middle Eastern world for decades to come. For Iran’s shitic aggression in Iraq gave rise to the Sunni variant of extremism, the IS, which as we know has also caused much misery, to put it mildly and to cut the known events short.

And domestically, after the eight-year Iran-Iraq war, some 4,000 Iranians were then executed in a purge wave, revealing the murderous God-state’s ruthlessness toward politically rebellious individuals. Also during later protests, for example during the uprisings as a result of the increased gasoline prices, sharp shots were fired and many demonstrators were killed with targeted shots to the head, many more were sentenced to long prison terms after imprisonment or were executed and buried in mass graves without the relatives being given the corpses or being allowed to mourn. A barbaric system.

The situation is complicated. Bashar Assad is, after all, a Christian and therefore the Western states forgive him the so far untouched claim to power in Syria despite once tepid protests against his dictatorial regime at the beginning of the revolution in the shadow of the Arab Spring that he was able to defend until today. Because the Sunnis, and in particular the strengthened IS, were now also becoming a threat to Bashar Assad in Syria, Solemani and Assad joined forces in the fight against the Sunnis. Solemani flew in a plane loaded with humanitarian goods to Amman to Assad and coordinated with him the attacks against the IS. So from that point of view, ironically, Europe and the West should be a little bit grateful to Solemani. Now to another brilliant strategy play by Solemani that led to the control of Iraq from Tehran and cost the Americans billions for the arch enemy. Of the reconstruction aid between 2005 – 2015 amounting to some 800 billion. U.S. dollars to Iraq, about $312 billion was diverted by the Iranians via Hezbollah and other pro-Iranian organizations and taken out of the country, according to a Finance Committee report by former Iraqi minister Ahmed Al Hadj.

„Iraq became Iran’s cash cow,“ Hosham Dawod also affirms. But in 2019, Solemani was disavowed by an intelligence leak to Iran’s MOIS. Then the 2014 war crimes in „Jurf al Sakhar“ came to light. The Shiite Hezbollah committed atrocious crimes, resulting in over 150,000 displaced among the Sunni population. Qassem Solemani is dead. And that is a good thing. But this changes little in the foreign policy of Iran and one also wonders how many Americans should have been killed or eliminated before in order to avoid all the mischief that the USA finally caused in its own interests with catastrophic consequences for the whole world. But one must ask oneself, with all the blame on the USA, what the Muslim society and diaspora worldwide is doing to finally pacify the continuously smoldering religious conflict between Sunnis and Shiites and to end the Gordian knot of many conflicts and terrorist acts? Almost nothing is happening. And that is the biggest problem. But let’s remember for a moment how long the conflict between Christians and Catholics lasted and how many lives were claimed by religious wars in Europe. Let us be aware that in our mostly passive role as unbelieving spectators at the grotesque world events and the most evil practices of power, we often corrupt even in small ways and turn a blind eye to many grievances and conveniently fade out further interventions.

In any case, one thing becomes apparent again and again. The interventions of the Americans, be it in Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan or Syria are and ended with a huge disaster that made all regions ultimately more unstable and created numerous aggressors. And also the conditions on Guantanamo and the torture methods practiced there throw an inglorious light on the military interventions of the USA. No bitch licks that, as we say so casually. Also, the armament of all terrogroups existing today have mostly happened on military armament by the United States. A fatal cycle that seems to repeat itself again and again.

Comoros: The Perfume Islands emerge from obscurity

Now we take a short detour into the Indian Ocean to an unknown group of islands that were once colonized by France. We are talking about the Comoros. For a long time, the rival sultanates at the crossroads of the Arab and African worlds kept themselves hidden. Apart from the perfume manufacturers who stocked up and enriched themselves here with the coveted ylang-ylang fragrances, few people know the Grande Comores, with its four islands, Grande Comores, Anjouan, Moheli and Grand Mayotte. The locals call the four volcanic islands between Madagascar and Mocambique Ngazidja, Ndzuani, Mwali and Mayotte. They are politically and geographically divided and culturally a panopticon where Malay, Polynesian, African and French influences merge. Before the colonial era, as many as 12 sultanates vainly struggled for supremacy.

The French succeeded in 1845 in placing the Comoros, weakened by the quarreling regents, under their protective rule and declared it an overseas territory of the Grande Nation in 1912. In a 1977 referendum, Mayotte’s population alone voted to remain with France. The other islands opted for independence and for the long-awaited, hard-fought independence and finally united to form the Islamic Confederation of the Comoros. But the split Mayotte clouded the unity of the new island state, which, by the way, the independence economically seen, enormously penalized and totally impoverished. In tourist attractiveness the islands would not lack by far. Grande Comores is the largest island with 1025 square kilometers. Behind Ngazidja’s capital Moroni, whose magnificent building, the gleaming white Friday Mosque, stands out from the sea of houses from afar, rises the mighty volcano Karthala. It erupted for the last time in 1977, leaving behind broad lava trails that gave the youngest volcanic island in Comoros a bizarre appearance.

Crossing Grande Comores from west to east over the steep Dibwani Pass, many other small volcanic cones rise up on the northern flank of the road. The Comoros probably owe their Arabic name of „moon islands“ to this fantastic lunar landscape. Also the coast is mostly made of rugged, pitch-black lava rock. The most beautiful seaside resort of the main island offers three pearl-white beaches, surrounded by the offshore, dazzling coral reef. The Galawa Hotel is nestled here. At low tide, colorfully dressed women in headscarves arrive in droves. In the shallow, crystal-clear water, they fish with nets and harpoons made of rebar, hunting for squid or even larger fish that get caught in their nets, which are stretched out in a circle and then tightened. Anjouan, the pearl of the Comoros, is the island of untouched valleys, idyllic tropical rivers and rugged, densely guarded crater landscapes and volcanic cones. At the foot of the rainforests lie the wonderfully fragrant vanilla, spice and ylang ylang plantations, from which the French perfume manufacturers enriched themselves for decades. The neighboring island of Moheli has an African orientation and is a refuge for giant water turtles, which I was completely surprised to see burying their eggs by the hundreds on the beach at night, brightly lit by the full moon.

Otherwise the island is rather a refuge for Robinson Cruso followers. On the market of Mitsamiouli one recognizes the few Musungus (white tourists) at first sight. I saw in any case except my three journalist colleagues not a single white on the island. Here, it was not women veiled with black hijabs that dominated the picture, but the ladies dressed in colorful ngazidjas and Lesotho shawls wrapped around their bodies, whereas the women on Anjouan mostly wore a red and white chiromani. Many of the faces were covered with a thick layer of sandalwood as sun and mosquito protection. The beauty mask, which crumbled as the day wore on, served to keep the delicate skin of the women well cared for. I was really shocked when I saw condoms lying around in the hotel room of the puritanical Islamic states of God. That instead of the Koran condoms would lie on the night table, I would have expected here last. And that here condoms obviously belonged to the standard hotel room equipment, I would never have expected. One (n) learns to it. Later I found out that in addition to the normal rate there was also a Schäferstündchen rate. But from the pragmatized and contemporary so-called immoralities now to the traditional matriarchal customs of the country.

At the Grande Mariage, the most pompous celebration and most important event in the life of a Komor man and woman, traditionally all the guns are brought out. It happens that the parents build their bride a house, while the groom showers the bride with real gold or jewels. The wedding, which is often celebrated over a period of days with hundreds of guests, is not only a major festive event but is also always associated with social advancement. At least that is the expectation of most islanders. Through this act, a family also achieves a change of class into the upper class, is accepted into the circle of the grands notables and is henceforth also more influential in the political-religious context. However, the grande mariage not infrequently also means the financial ruin of a family. Even then, young people rightly complained that the money would be better invested in education and the further development of the country instead of being squandered so senselessly. The illiteracy rate at that time was almost 50 percent and the Republic of the Comoros was one of the 15 poorest nations in the world.

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7th Chapter: Climate change: How do we meet the epochal challenge?

Species extinctions & pandemics: Will we survive?

In this chapter, I would like to go into detail about the scientific findings on the SOS state of Mother Earth as a result of home-made 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. Above all, however, the indigenous peoples around the globe have always impressed me with their understanding of nature. They are also among the first to suffer and be displaced, but also the younger and next generations will be stunned to realize that we have burned almost as much gas, coal and oil in the rush to consume after the oil crisis in 1975 and especially since the beginning of the 1990s as in a million years of earth’s 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 scientific knowledge, is not able to follow politically and certainly not to act adequately. I will also talk about all the polluters, the oil, coal and gas industry, which, despite knowing better, have been trying to legitimize their disastrous raison d’être at the expense of society, nature and the geosphere for 50 years with disinformation campaigns worth billions – unfortunately with success until today. Finally, I show practicable approaches to solutions and hope that the climate journey inspires you to do even more than before and to influence other people, companies positively and actively and to take politics to task. Ultimately, it is up to the consumer to live ecologically. But to do so, we all have to turn our lives around. Let’s go. We can do it

We have passed the zenith and, despite technical progress, we have to spell back and return to the elementary and fundamental roots of our civilization and evolutionary history. The earth suffers from three diseases: Extinction of species, climate change and pandemics! This is as if the patient had a liver cirrhosis, a heart weakness and a kidney insufficiency at the same time. Consequently, there will be more wars, diseases, conflicts, famine and natural disasters if we do not get the exploitation of resources and the population growth under control. Food shortages, distribution struggles and migration flows can already be seen worldwide as a result of climate change and they will increase dramatically, if we do not radically change much in our consumption patterns immediately, it is very likely that the end of humanity will be near in a hundred years and our population will largely collapse. This will not be the end of evolution, but certainly the end of an era as we humans need, know and love it to live! It is not excluded that with the big species extinction also our species will be wiped out to a large extent and the human being will become the planetary history.

First we wiped out the Pleistocene fauna in North America and in South America, then in Australia the large giant marsupials and birds, and when man populated Polynesia, the large megafauna elements disappeared all the way to New Zealand. When these are missing, it also affects the entire fauna and flora. For example, in the last 10,000 years we have destroyed about half of the earth’s natural forest cover and altered the biosphere to the point that entire animal populations have been wiped out. Whereby the Red Lists record and cover only a fraction of what humans have wiped out in terms of fauna and flora. That is, the 800 species that have been shown to have become extinct in the past 500 years do not represent the number of animals and species that have actually disappeared or are currently disappearing. We are losing many species in the last remaining primary forests long before we even discovered and scientifically described them. Today we know that in just 40 years we have wiped out 78 percent, or more than two-thirds, of the flying insects, and the mass extinction continues, because in the near future we will lose about one million animal species, according to forecasts. First we have changed the vegetation and the animal world with agriculture and resource extraction, then we have poisoned the geosphere, first with CFCs, now with greenhouse gases. Mineral resources are mercilessly exploited, sometimes under inhumane conditions, the environment is poisoned, the local population is displaced, but the profit benefits only a few. This should not only give us food for thought, but also prompt us to act, because the garbage dump of mankind is now visible not only in the most distant regions, but also on and under the surface of the oceans. And as is well known, this is only the tip of the iceberg. Micro-plastics, nanoparticles as well as pesticide toxins have long since reached the groundwater and the food chain, causing further damage to health and great suffering. Fortunately, we cannot see all the junk in space from the eye. What do we have to do to stop the destruction of our planet? Well we would have to take a whole series of drastic measures, although a disastrous, global climate tsunami is rolling towards mankind, notabene in the soon 50 year old knowledge of the harmful CO2 emissions for our planet, we continue to happily exploit fossil energies, subsidize the cattle (-feed), meat and dairy industry and consume more and more, with which the resources continue to be mercilessly exploited and fauna and flora as well as the habitat of millions of people are destroyed.

The „NASA“ scientist James Hendson warned already in the 70’s in few, precisely formulated sentences before the dramatic effects of the greenhouse gas output caused by humans on climate and atmosphere. The oil and coal industries also had warnings from their own experts and commissioned scientists. But instead of taking them seriously, the leading oil companies „Exxon“, „Standard Oil“, „BP“, „Schell“, „Total“ decided to ignore them completely and to start an unprecedented disruptive disinformation campaign that continues to this day. For this purpose, armies of lobbyists, pseudo-scientists, journalists, parliamentarians were summoned and bribed to play down and deny climate change and to sow all kinds of doubts about the scientific findings. The oil industry and its lobbyists also penetrated and infiltrated the prestigious American universities. Generous donations to the institutions prevented overly critical professors and reports. On the other hand, renowned experts, including physicists and Nobel Prize winners, were disavowed and spied upon by all perfidious means and portrayed as communists or fantasists. To this end, the oil industry used the strategy of the tobacco lobby, which had perfected these practices long before, but ultimately had to accept a widespread ban on tobacco in the workplace and in restaurants, or almost entirely in public life. Thus, the massive lobbying efforts of the oil and coal industries began to pay off from the 1970s to the present. The issue had been swept off and under the table for the time being, and with the liberalization of air traffic from 1993 and in a second important step in 1997, air traffic began to develop massively. The „Easy-Jet“ generation was just rolling along and I was stunned by the disruptive, thoughtless and unrestrained wasteful trend reversal. Instead of the insight to keep moderation, air traffic exploded.

The electric, gas and coal industries also successfully fought photovoltaics, which had been available since 1948, and the hype at the time to build or equip homes with solar panels. With massive financial resources, smear campaigns and political influence, the U.S. electricity industry first succeeded in financing its basis for its own power grid with subsidies and from taxpayers‘ money, and then fleeced the population for decades – and this model then took hold in Europe as well. But let’s imagine what it would have been like if this pioneering ecological power supply solution had become the standard back then. Then we would have built e-cars back in the 90s and made a lot less of a mess of our planet. We could have left all the coal and oil in the ground and local populations around the world would have benefited from independent, local power generation. Back to the disastrous reality.

Scientists agree that if emissions remain the same, the temperature will be 2.1 to 3.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels by 2050. If CO2 emissions were to double by mid-century, the temperature could rise by as much as 5.7 degrees. And unfortunately, this is how things will continue. That’s because the U.S. government’s Energy Information Administration (EIA) calculated in 2019 that CO2 emissions will rise from around 36 billion tons annually today to more than 42 billion tons by 2050 as a result of the industrialization of many countries, which is only just beginning. China produces the most greenhouse gas, about a quarter of the total, ahead of the U.S. at 18 percent and the EU at 17 percent. The share of CO2 emissions that are absorbed in sinks, forests or oceans and do not remain in the atmosphere is about 44 percent, according to the report.

According to „Copernicus,“ the decade from 2011 to 2020 was globally the hottest year since measurements began. In Europe, too, but especially in the Arctic, record values of up to six degrees above average were recorded in the period from 1981 to 2010. In 2020, the high temperatures are particularly extreme, as they occurred without an El Niño effect in the previous year. In 2021, temperatures are likely to rise again as a result of the La Nina effect, and this is despite the fact that we have now had a Covid-19 year of very limited air traffic. As a result, the CO2 increase will certainly continue to rise, the Arctic will continue to melt, and if the „worst case“ scenario occurs and the Atlantic roll no longer moves as it has, we are looking at dark times. In view of the unfortunate fact that after more than 30 years of procrastination and hesitation, denial and denial, watching the destruction and looking the overwhelming facts almost idly in the eye, living in the consciousness and with the guilty conscience of even more overexploitation than ever before, each of us must now take the reins into our own hands and make substantial contributions. „Reduce to the max“ is the motto. In other words, reduce resource consumption at all levels – we are all in the same boat, as Covid has impressively shown us. There is no time to lose. Politically, much more can be done than has been done so far. Lets do it. Now!

Because the precious, vital treasures of our earth are disappearing at the speed of light. Every four seconds, forests the size of a soccer field are cut down worldwide – also or primarily for soy or palm oil plantations. The destruction of rainforests by slash-and-burn in the Amazon, Congo and Indonesia accounts for eleven percent of global CO2 emissions! Biodiversity is rapidly declining, with up to 150 plant and animal species disappearing from the earth every day. The more natural habitats shrink, the greater the risk of viruses spreading from animals to humans. Corona is the most recent example. Ebola, dengue, Mers, Sars, Zika, all these viruses have also been proven to be due to climate change and dwindling biodiversity. That’s why we need to be much more determined to protect natural habitats and crack down on wildlife trafficking and wildlife markets. According to the scientific journal „Nature Ecology and Evolution“, there is a dramatic extinction of insects with serious consequences for the ecosystem and human societies. Forecasts show that we will lose over a million animal species in the next few years, and many species will be so decimated in their populations that they will no longer matter. With maximum impact on humans: The destruction of the rainforests as well as the loss of biodiversity of the native fauna and flora will lead to an increased incidence of e.g. Lyme disease. It has been proven that with less small mammal biodiversity, there is a higher Borrelia load in the ticks. Due to climate warming and the loss of biodiversity with hotter and drier summers and winters, the risk of contracting Lyme disease in temperate zones is also increasing.

On a 20 percent of the earth’s surface, 80 percent of the biodiversity hot spots of all species are found in the tropics. One of the most comprehensive studies by Anthony Warden of the University of Cambridge, in which around 100 economists worldwide examined how the global economy benefits from nature, found that if 30 percent of the earth’s surface were protected with the most important protected areas, the benefits of protecting these areas would outweigh the costs by a ratio of 1:5. In other words, if we invest one euro in protection, we gain four euros in the long term. But it will be a long time before this realization takes hold in the lowlands of the resource-intensive economy. It is simply incomprehensible that despite all the findings that were already available in the early 1990s, and at the latest in 1997 with the „IPPC“ report, and which proved the lonely callers in the desert right, hardly any effective measures were taken or consistently implemented.

Already the first „IPPC“-report of 1990 warned the world population for the first time in detail and supported with scientific knowledge about the consequences of our unbridled overexploitation – and also shook me up. So you don’t need to be a crazy doomsday prophet to believe in apocalyptic climate conditions. The scientific findings at that time and the realization of how lamely we react to the threat already allow no other conclusion than that our species will reach the end of the age if it continues like this. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, there are two horror scenarios: One is the rise of the sea level by two meters by the end of the century, depending on how fast the Antarctic ice sheet continues to melt. Another is the collapse of the Atlantic Overcurrent Current (AMOC), which has already weakened. It distributes cold and warm water in the Atlantic and influences, for example, the monsoon in Africa and Asia, which is important for billions of people.

The ocean current is also known as the Gulf Stream, and in the higher waters it carries mild temperatures up to the Channel Islands, Ireland and Great Britain, and on toward the Netherlands to western Germany and Scandinavia, even in winter. The Gulf Stream system moves almost 20 million cubic meters of water per second, about a hundred times the Amazon current,“ says Stefan Rahms-torf, a researcher at the „Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research“ and the initiator and co-author of a study on the importance of this climate system (PIK), which was published in the scientific journal „Nature Geoscience“ in spring 2021. The collapse of the Gulf Stream would also have serious consequences for Europe, because the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Current (AMOC) has also dramatically lost strength in recent decades and changed the weather in Europe. But let’s leave the horror scenario aside and focus on Europe’s biodiversity loss, the failed EU agricultural and transport policies and take a closer look at the Swiss banking and commodity sector. There at the levers of neo-capitalism and the riches of the potentates and corporations we have to readjust the screws.

End times: The Sixth Mass Extinction has begun – are we going down with it?

At the end of 2020, Switzerland had to take stock of where it stands with regard to the protection of its biodiversity, both to review the objectives achieved in the Swiss Biodiversity Strategy and the global Biodiversity Convention, which states: „The conservation status of populations of national priority species shall be improved by 2020 and extinction shall be prevented as far as possible.“ Switzerland is on track for only one target in the biodiversity strategy, and that is forest biodiversity. For one-third of the targets, the result is lower, for one-third no progress is seen, and for the final third, developments are going in the opposite direction. The picture is also almost congruent with the national strategy for the „Aichi“ biodiversity targets, which were agreed in 2010 as part of the Bio-diversity Convention: Switzerland is on track for only one fifth. For 35 percent of the targets, however, there has been no progress at all. But among birds alone, by the end of the decade, partridge, snipe, curlew, red-headed shrike and ortolan had become extinct as breeding birds or were present in tiny numbers.

The Swiss flora was one of the richest and most diverse in Europe, but more than 700 plant species are considered to be threatened with extinction. Researchers from the „University of Bern“ and the Data and Information Center of the Swiss Flora analyzed the results with the help of 400 volunteer botanists and visited and verified over 8000 old known sites of the 713 rarest and most endangered plant species in Switzerland between 2010 and 2016. This unique treasure trove of data has now been analyzed by the „University of Bern and the results published in the scientific journal „Conservation Letters“. In their „treasure hunt“, the botanists often came up empty-handed – 27% of the 8024 populations could not be recovered. Species, which are classified by experts as most endangered, even lost 40% of their populations in comparison to the findings from the last 10 – 50 years.

We, the supposedly „clean“ Swiss, and our almost equal German neighbors are world champions in consumption, consumption, waste and CO2 emissions. Switzerland has made it to fourth place on the world ranking list of polluters and CO2 emitters, but we have exported our large footprint abroad. Thus the civilization garbage of our over all mass consuming and resources squandering society from the emergence to the destruction is banished from our eyes and our environment. One of the dirtiest industries, the textile industry, but also other polluting productions have been moved to China, Vietnam and Bangladesh in the last decades. The CO-2 emissions are thus largely outsourced to structurally weak or human rights-denying regions. For this, „My climate“ compensation certificates and similar instruments have been created to soothe our conscience, but not to alleviate the situation. Our balance sheet is by no means good and clean but simply miserable. The „My-Climate“ CO2 compensation business is pure eyewash and helps no one if we steadily increase our consumption and waste of resources instead of drastically reducing them and do not radically rethink our throwaway society.

In this country, too, biodiversity, waters, glaciers and air pollutants are in a bad way. In accounting terms, more than 30 million tons of CO2 (instead of being emitted on Swiss soil) would have to be saved outside the country’s borders. This will not only cost billions, but is also economically and ecologically absurd. These amounts for CO2 reductions not achieved domestically will be missed by the economy. The „decarbonization of society“ will not progress one millimeter in this way, the dependency and mess would become bigger and bigger, simply because of the increasing population density. Now the thin protective layer in the atmosphere is not worth a penny in the free market economy, it costs nothing and to pollute it also not. This must change!

The facts are alarming and document impressively the decline of many endangered species in Switzerland. Particularly affected are plants from so-called ruderal sites – areas that are under constant human influence. Among the affected plant species are the marginal vegetation of agriculturally used or populated areas. These populations showed losses more than twice as large as species from forests or alpine meadows. The intensification of agriculture with a large use of fertilizers and herbicides, but also the loss of small structures such as rock piles and field margins are particularly affecting this species group. Plant species of water bodies, banks and bogs are similarly affected. Here too, according to the researchers, the causes are homemade: loss of water quality due to micropollutants and fertilizer pollution from agriculture, the loss of natural river dynamics due to river straightening, the use of rivers as a source of electricity, or the draining of moorland.

In Germany, 80,000 measurements were carried out by interdisciplinary working groups from Germany, Austria, Switzerland and the Netherlands as part of the „Jena“ experiment. They had sown different numbers of plant species on more than 500 experimental plots, ranging from monocultures to mixtures of 60 species. In addition to plants, all organisms occurring in the ecosystem were studied – in the soil and above it. In addition, the material cycles of carbon, nitrogen and nitrate and also the water cycle over the entire period of 15 years. In this way, the scientists were able to demonstrate how species diversity affects the capacity of the soil to absorb, store or release water. The Jena experiment was the first to show how much the nitrogen cycle of a soil depends on many factors such as species diversity, microbiological organisms, the water cycle and plant interaction.

Species-rich meadows had a higher productivity than species-poor meadows over the entire period of the „Jena Experiment“. Consequently, if a farmer promotes and fertilizes certain species, he is on average not more successful than nature. The biomass energy (bioenergy content) of species-rich meadows was significantly higher than that of species-poor meadows, but at the same time similar to many of today’s heavily subsidized species, such as Chinese reed. Species-rich areas had better carbon storage, insect and other species numbers were significantly higher, and species interactions such as pollination occurred more frequently. Species-rich grasslands transported surface water into the soil better, and diversified ecosystems were more resilient to disturbances than species-poor monocultures were to droughts or floods.Farmers really need to roll up their arms now and ensure water conservation and biodiversify and renaturalize their farmland, or do we want to keep poisoning ourselves? Consumers have it in their hands to make do with vegan and locally produced goods and thus put an end to livestock farming, methane belching and cattle feed monocultures.

The droughts in Europe are homemade and the result of the EU’s agricultural subsidy policy.

„Three years of extreme heat and drought, like we had in Europe from 2018-2020, hasn’t happened in 250 years,“ says Dr. Andreas Marx of the „UFZ Helmholz Centre for Environmental Research“ in Leipzig, which has created a drought monitor that shows drought conditions across Germany on a daily basis. „We wouldn’t have expected a drought like this until around 2040 and not already today,“ Marx continues. Agriculture is running out of water. Cultivation can often only be sustained with artificial irrigation systems because in many places the groundwater level has dropped, making artificial watering of fields even more ecologically and economically nonsensical. Also the forest suffers from the drought and dies as Dr. Nicole Wellbrock of the „Thünen Institute for Forest Ecosystems“ states „The condition of the forests is indeed historically bad. The data collected are life-threatening for our ocosystem. „Especially the spruces and the beeches are dying rapidly in the lower elevations“. This means that valuable CO2 reservoirs are being lost across the board. 1400 billion tons of CO2 are in the lower atmosphere. If we do not decisively reduce our CO2 emissions immediately, we will have already exceeded the CO2 target in ten years.

That droughts are caused or aggravated by mistakes in land and soil management, especially by the destruction of the soil by monocultures and pesticides, is a long known fact and yet EU subsidies in the billions are paid out for it. What a madness: this is how vicious circles are created, where heat becomes drought, and drought leads to even more heat. Forest fires increase, become bigger and even develop in regions in the far north. Rivers and lakes dry up, deserts appear, as in the case of Lake Montasi in Romania, causing not only the extinction of fish, amphibians, insects and water birds, but the entire flora perishes and the whole area suffers from desert-like weather conditions, because the whole microclimate changes and desertification progresses. Romanian environmental activist Octavian Berceanu says: „Climate change is coming much faster and dramatically more drastic than we thought, pointing to our own agricultural mistakes during the Ceaușescu era, using the example of Lake Potelo. It was drained in order to increase agricultural productivity in the cultivation of large areas. The opposite happened. The mud layer, rich in nutrients, was soon exhausted and the sand of the lake bottom appeared, making the cultivation obsolete. Today, the region has become deserted and hostile to life.

The European Environmental Bureau in Bruxell represents a network of 170 environmental organizations in Europe.  Celia Nyssens of the EEB says, „What makes these droughts so destructive is homemade, because we have created large-scale agricultural monocultures everywhere, which leach the soil and have no microorganisms, because it is the microorganisms that give the soil its water-holding qualities. There are more microorganisms in a handful of healthy soil than there are people in the world. The protozoa, millipedes, fungi, bacteria and algae are responsible for the absorbency of the soil. In Germany, however, more than half of the arable soil is used to grow livestock feed. The problem is our hunger for meat and the associated vicious cycle of deforestation for monocultures, which within five years degenerate into depleted soils and promote desertification. This is not only happening in Germany or Romania, but in many places in Europe, including Spain.

The environmental activist and UN expert David Dean of the organization Earth jurisprudence criticizes the monoculture cultivation in the strongest way and has visited together with the geologist Jose Maria Calafora, professor at the University of Almeria, the source of the Rio de Aguas near the village Gotcha. It hardly supplies water anymore and the whole population of more than 8000 inhabitants has disappeared because they no longer have water to drink or to cultivate their fields. One of the few who remained says that he has to buy drinking water because the little water that still comes out has become too salty and too full of lime and chlorine. When you consider that it takes 17 liters of water just to produce one plastic bottle and that the transport route to the consumer also consumes a lot of energy, you can see how grotesque the situation is. The drying up of the spring is due to the intensive monoculture agriculture in the region.

To the second absurd agrarian subsidyism example: Also in the region of Almeria the „Mar del Plastico“, the plastic sea extends on 350 square kilometers over the country. There, among other things, the tomatoes for half of Europe are planted. A tomato needs about 10 liters of water to ripen, and so the last water reserves are squeezed out of one of the driest regions in Europe so that highly subsidized fruits and vegetables can be exported. To the detriment of the local population, the fauna and flora and the entire ecosystem. This is the key moment that causes desertification, but sometimes also affects the weather and the climate, up to the jet stream over the Atlantic, which weakens and seeks new paths.  Political missteps in Brussels and in the other EU states are causing this catastrophe to simply continue.

35 percent of man-made greenhouse gases could be absorbed by healthy soils, where a good 1000 billion tons of carbon are stored. When these leach out as a result of pesticide use, the eroded soils release an incredible amount more CO2 emissions than has been the case to date. That, too, would have to be prevented. Agriculture must also change radically. Monocultures are poison for our environment. Biodiversity on arable land is indispensable for fauna and flora and ultimately also for human survival. Food must also be increasingly produced and consumed locally again, instead of making endless journeys.

The palm oil industry has cut down more than half of the rainforest (the size of Germany) in the Indonesian provinces of Kalimantan and Sumatra in the last 30 years and is now starting to destroy the virgin forest in Papua New Guinea on a grand scale. The timber industry is happy about this, as are the oligarchy and the military. In the process, small farmers are inevitably expropriated, which is quite legal in Indonesia. The Indonesian parliament also recently passed a law that radically curtails national environmental, labor and social standards and provides for zero environmental impact assessments. Therefore, the progressively worded agreement is another illusory paper tiger that will lead to the worrying destruction of huge rainforest areas in Brazil, Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea. With the free trade agreement with Indonesia, Switzerland would legitimize this state of affairs and once again declare the completely insufficient eco-labels as standard.

„Chronology of good intentions“ and decades of failure.

For over 50 years, the challenges facing humanity have been discussed in an endless loop. Besides the „NASA“ scientist James Hendson who warned about the CO2 emission consequences, there was the biologist Paul Ehrlich who warned about the population explosion in 1968. In 1972, the „Club of Rome“ report by Dennis and Donella Meadows on „the limits to growth“ appeared. This was the starting signal for a worldwide network of global thinking and gave a boost to environmental organizations. In 1980, then U.S. President Jimmy Carter took up the issue and initiated the „Global 2000“ study, which showed the foreseeable environmental destruction and shortage of resources. In 1992, representatives of 172 countries met in Rio‘, at the largest UN Conference on Environment and Development to date, and adopted „Agenda 21“. The results were sobering. Only the smog bells disappeared and some countries succeeded in making progress in water protection.

When the third report of the „IPPC“ Climate Council came out in 1997, and what was outlined and documented there, far exceeded all the horror scenarios and the extent of destruction that I had already noticed since 1993! The report should change also my activity lastingly. From then on, I refrained from the many air and long-distance trips and concentrated more on local destinations that could be reached by train and got rid of the automobile. In 1999, I founded the „Tourism & Environment Forum Switzerland“ in Samedan together with Gisela Femppel, an editor of the „Südostschweiz“ and with my professional colleague Heinz Schmid, which was also supported by the famous tourism director of St. Moritz, Hansruedi Danuser. The NGO was domiciled at Samedan airport, as I was living up there in the fantastic Upper Engadine at that time, during the winter of the century and the following two years. In the Engadine high valley, I could also regularly roam on horseback through the forests of the alpine slopes and, for the first time in my life, also ride through the drifting snow and the untouched white splendor. That alone was a highlight. In addition, of course, there was the particularly lush winter splendor in the winter of 1999/2000. On the Bernina Pass there were snow drifts up to 27 meters high in places. When one made the first turns on the Corviglia in the glistening sunlight early in the morning, and thus from ten o’clock onwards made one’s way over to the other side of the valley to Piz Corvatsch, because the swirling powder snow was already getting a little slushy in the sun, and then on the Corvatsch plunged into the depths from 3300 meters almost flying like a bird, the adrenalin rose to undreamt-of heights.

For the „Tourism & Environment Forum Switzerland“, which I founded in Samedan, I also created a web portal that linked scientific facts, environmentally relevant NGO projects, the responsible authorities such as the „Federal Office for the Environment“ (BUWAL), international organizations and critical media reports with sustainable travel offers and tips for environmentally conscious travelers. For three years I served as managing director and president for this environmental organization and set some accents in the Grisons with traveling exhibitions on the topic of „Climate Change in the Alps“ with a „Rail-Expo“ traveling exhibition of the Rhaetian Railway, three rail cars that were stationed in Davos, St. Moritz, Samedan, Pontresina and six other alpine locations in the Grisons and sent out the first warning signals. Members of the „Tourism & Environment Forum“ at that time were the „BUWAL/FLS“, the Swiss National Park, the „Biosphere Reserve Entlebuch“, the „Research Institute for Leisure and Tourism“ of the University of Bern and the „Europa-Institut“ in Basel, but also the newly launched car rental company „Mobility“ and „Toyota“ with the first hybrid vehicle, the „Prius“, along with some transport associations, hotels and media.

Three railroad carriages of the Rhaetian Railway were stationed at the stations of six Graubünden locations for 14 days each. In addition, we organized a live concert to kick off each exhibition. The „Tourism & Environment Forum“ was also present at the annual vacation fairs in Zurich and Berne with presentations and exhibitions. Travel more consciously, experience more, destroy less, was the motto for travelers, in order to bring about the necessary CO2 reduction measures and an energy transition at home, too. I was always able to convince an important hotel group (Sun-Star Hotels) and a large amusement park in Morschach of energetic construction measures and to communicate them as a public relations representative.

So already 30 years ago I established the first long-term institutional „Corporate Social Responsibility“ engagement of my own press agency „GMC Photopress“ in this country! Abroad, I had already been privately and journalistically involved in several wildlife projects and humanitarian missions. At that time, I published numerous environmentally critical publications and commentaries on climate change, such as „A Requiem for the Coral Reef“ in the „Mittelland-Zeitung“ or „In the diver’s paradise Maldives, a time bomb is ticking“. In the commentary I wrote the following: „It is not El-Nino who is to blame. It is the human being who progresses too far. Alarm bells are ringing around the globe. Central America has been devastated and set back decades. The coral world in the equatorial belt is threatened or already largely destroyed, the seas polluted, the animal world here and there wiped out, the Alps built up and spoiled“. In 1997, as a reaction to the IPPC climate report, I addressed climate change in the Alps in the „Südostschweiz“, under the title „Keiner kommt ungeschoren davon – Alpen sind von der Klimaerwärmung besonders hart betroffen“.

In the magazine „Touring“ and in the „Brückenbauer“, both media with million reader public appeared further critical reports of me, which resounded far beyond Switzerland, since I interviewed the „UNEP“ director Klaus Töpfer, the head of the UN environmental organization as well as with Michael Iwand, at that time director environmental management with „TUI“ (tourism union international) and Iwand Widerpart of the „German environmental assistance“ and the nature protection federation and at the ITB the largest tourism trade fair in Berlin intervened to take the topic on the agenda. Prof. Hansruedi Müller of the „Research Institute for Leisure and Tourism“ (FIF) also pleaded for „more heart-liners than hard-liners“. So I addressed this urgent climate appeal more than 30 years ago to the Swiss politicians and population and at the „ITB“ in Berlin to the „world public“ and already stated then: „The drastic trail of devastation left by industrialized man and the (un-) civilized tourist is mostly carried out on the hump of the 3rd world nations and is becoming more and more dramatic.

But we here in the Alps are also particularly affected by climate change. The temperature rise is expected to be much higher than the world average and the glaciers are melting just like the biodiversity. We can no longer stand idly by and watch this happen, I said to myself, and from then on I also gave up a car or a motorcycle and committed myself to the expansion of the rail infrastructure and bicycle paths. Also in my function as president and managing director of the „Tourismus & Umwelt Forum Schweiz“ (Swiss Tourism & Environment Forum) I gave critical speeches about my own travel industry, which was urged to do more for the environment and against the enormous damage caused by air traffic and excessive mass tourism, which won me more enemies than friends. Tourism propagandists were not happy to see the global impact of their business model increasingly criticized. I emphatically challenged the Travel Agents Association to do more than just pay the usual lip service. But what happened was that, in the words of Greta von Thunberg, „When there’s a fire, people often rub up against the fire alarm instead of putting the fire out.“ It is the same with warning climate change activists as it is with whistleblowers. Both groups are punished for their commitment, disavowed, attacked, persecuted and sometimes even murdered.

The Swiss authorities were then, as now, in a state of enforcement emergency everywhere. Whether it is compliance with the Clean Air Ordinance, noise levels for the protection of the population, international agreements on the reduction of CO2 emissions or the fulfillment of declarations of intent and objectives such as the „Agenda 21“, the „Charter of Lanzarote“ or the „Declaration of Crete“, wherever we look, we have to conclude that none of the objectives has been fulfilled even close. „The crux is that while the need for environmentally and socially responsible tourism is undisputed, still not much is happening,“ which I criticized harshly in the presentations and reports at the time as president of the „Tourism & Environment Forum.“

The tour operators, above all the three big ones „Kuoni Reisen“, „Hotelplan“ and „Tui Reisen“ hardly cared about water and energy supply and waste management on site, which led to devastating pollution of the beaches and seas, especially on the Maldives and other islands. An investigation of the „Higher Technical School for Tourism“ (HFT) concluded at that time that the „Declaration of Crete“ remained a dead paper tiger“! And the greenwashing continued unchanged but infla-tionary from then on. We have already reached certain climate tipping points in some places around the world, some scientists agree.

Between 1961 and 1990 alone, temperatures in the Alps had already risen by two degrees Celsius, while the global average had risen by only 0.6 percent. The predictions at the time for the Alpine region ranged up to five degrees more in the next 30 years. Fittingly for the „Kyoto Summit“ in December 1997, „El-Nino“ swirled through the headlines. The warning could not have been clearer enough. As recently as 1992 at the Rio Earth Summit, politicians had vowed to protect the climate system for today and future generations. But the trend was in the opposite direction. Everyone jetted off to London or New York for a few days of shopping, to Ibiza for „raves,“ etc., and to Milan to buy a pair of shoes. Suddenly a plane ticket to London cost less than a train ride from Zurich to Bern or Geneva. A catastrophic turn of events that still does not bode well. Air traffic would finally have to be taxed internationally.

True, 2020 saw a revival of the „Paris Coalition of High Ambition“ at the first virtual United Nations climate change summit, where 75 nations committed to the goal of „net zero emissions.“ Most nations are aiming for the goal by 2050. So far, however, only 75 of 197 nations have submitted new or increased climate targets. But only the UK and the EU have substantially increased their targets. For all other states, ambition is low. Far too low, in fact, for the goals of the Paris climate agreement ever to be achieved. As a result, the „Coalition for Carbon Neutrality“ proclaimed by UN Secretary-General Antonio Gutierrez has a good 65 percent of the world’s CO2 emissions at its disposal, which could still rise if the financial pledges for the green climate fund of 100 billion Swiss francs per year are advanced. The key instrument is the carbon price, which is also recognized by the EU and is to rise steadily until 2030. In 2015, William Nordhaus, winner of the Nobel Prize for Economics, proposed the creation of a climate club, which would draw mutual benefit from the sharing of climate protection and exclude free riders, because this is the only way to get out of the „prisoner’s dilemma“.

Switzerland has clearly missed its climate target for 2020 and also 2021, as in previous years and in every area, buildings, industry, agriculture and especially transport. Compared to 1990, Switzerland should have reduced by 20 percent. By 2019, we had managed just 14 percent. „To stabilize global warming at 1.5 degrees, climate gases must be reduced by at least 50 percent readyis 2030,“ says ETH professor Sonja Seneviratne, an author of several reports for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. „We can’t just keep living as we are and hope that miracle technology will save us one day“ says Seneviratne. „If we continue as we are, our entire CO2 budget will be completely depleted.“ The decrease, he says, must therefore be very drastic over the next decade, and rich Switzerland, with its large footprint, must finally lead the way.

For UN Secretary-General Guttierez reminds us that the world is still on track for a global temperature rise of more than three degrees, which would amount to a catastrophe. In other words. We are still traveling at 180 kmh in terms of fossil fuel consumption. A reduction in speed is needed. The Corona pandemic in particular has shown what is possible and can be mobilized in extraordinary situations. Patient Earth is lying in the intensive care unit, gasping for breath. It is high time to act and implement drastic measures. But as was unfortunately to be expected, the climate summit in Glasgow has also turned into a debacle. The exit from the coal and oil age was again postponed to a point of no return in the future.

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

Let’s be aware, financial markets are at the center of the neoliberal economy, they determine the prices of commodities and food 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 due to speculation and not due to increased demand. What started as the flap of a butterfly’s wings on Wall Street in 2010 went on to cause riots, wars and global refugee crises. 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 limited the number of speculators. But from now on, anyone could speculate in commodities and food without limits. As a result, the financial markets licked blood and Wall Street and the hedge funds dictate the events in the most evil way.

In the same year, Russia saw over 30 percent less wheat crop due to climate change and drought. Wall-street speculated on a shortage of supply and drove up the price of wheat by 50 percent, which led to the Arab Spring in Tunisia and Egypt because Egypt imported nearly 80 percent of its wheat from Russia. A rapid rise in food prices and a small increase in oil prices inevitably leads to conflicts and warlike confrontations, scientists and mathematicians also noted. Thus, in 2011, the wars in Libya after the fall of Gaddhafi as well as in the Iraq war, both leading oil exporting states, degenerated, fueled further conflicts in the region and triggered a conflagration that engulfed the entire Orient. So, too, did the unending war in Syria. This was triggered in turn by hedge funds and speculators on Wall Street and in London. They drove up the oil price massively because they were speculating on export losses. The butterfly’s wings have fluttered here, too, and so the deregulated markets have become an engine of chaos.

This speculation 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 to immense wealth and increased their military budgets and police forces either to suppress revolts at home or for further offensives. Russia 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 and pumped it full of its crude ideologies, weapons and fighters. The rise in oil prices was also the beginning of doom for Venezuela, which perished from the resource curse. Here, too, the speculators were ultimately the trigger and responsible for the flow of refugees from Latin America to the United States and from Africa and the Orient to Europe.

In Great Britain and under the influence of the neoliberal media mogul Rupert Murdoch to the Brexit and to the right-wing radical governments in Poland, Hungary and Italy, thus also the rise of the neo-Nazis and fascists in Germany. After the boom comes the slump, after the boom comes the crash, that much economics every child has already learned in the 3rd grade. The consequences are again devastating. In Venezuela there is an apocalyptic famine, the same in Cuba, in Kenya and in the entire sub-Saharan belt, where devastating droughts lead to civil wars and in the Orient, the navel of the despots leads to disastrous economic course and catastrophic human rights situations. The completely unleashed commodity and financial market is like the plague, because thanks to algorithms and herd mentality, as well as in a cynical way, it always bets against the prosperity of fragile economies With the Covid crisis it became abundantly clear that the markets are placed above the well-being of the people and a system was created that knows no compassion for the people, but only winners and losers. Today, every detergent and every food must declare every component and the proportion of all components, whereas in artificial intelligence, where a machine makes the decisions about our being or not being, no declaration and regulation is needed. It does not get more absurd than this. This topic will be discussed in more detail in the last chapter. 

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 sad or dubious fame when he first hit the headlines in the 1970s. The Belgian-born US citizen ensured that commodities trading in Switzerland became significant. His unscrupulous oil deals with South Africa and Iran, bypassing international sanctions, helped the „father of the Swiss success model“ to immense wealth and put him on the list of the most wanted criminals in the USA, until Bill Clinton pardoned him in 2001. We recall that Bill Clinton and Alan Greenspan also pushed for the liberalization of food markets, triggering the hedge fund scourge. Back to Switzerland. Here 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 today’s „Glencore“ Ivan Glasberg boss also earned his spurs in Johannesburg, South Africa, and learned a lot from his master in illegal oil deals and sanctions evasion, even if 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 exploiting resources around the world. From „Glencore’s“ environment emerged other successful commodity traders such as „Vitol,“ which helped the island nation of Cuba get oil in return for sugar at favorable prices when Cuba defaulted in the 1990s.

It was rumored that „Vitol“ financed and operated a luxury hotel in Cuba and that the then like „Vitol“ boss Ian Taylor occasionally met with Fidel Castro for a cigar smoke and Cuba libre. Then, in the 1990s, the former Soviet republics joined the new commodity Eldorados. Swiss commodity traders control nearly 80 percent of global trade and operate unscrupulously. The „Gunvor“ case in the Congo, the machinations of „Credit Suisse“ in Mozambique and the money laundering affair in Bulgaria exemplify 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 in order to 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 a 164 million fine in the U.S. for misconduct in Brazil, Ecuador and Mexico. It is shocking that large corporations, banks and the super-rich can always buy their way out with ridiculous fines, while others go to jail for much lesser crimes. There are enough examples in Switzerland as well.

Only in November 2020, the Federal Council presented the consultation on the „Sustainable Development Strategy“ (SDS), and it is once again an indictment of „clean“ Switzerland. The record of showcase Switzerland looks even worse when the economic factors of the largest off-shore financial center are taken into account. At the end of 2019, Swiss banks managed a quarter of the world’s assets. A whopping 3742.7 billion Swiss francs. But the immense assets are hardly invested in sustainable projects. On the contrary. The gold mine and tax haven Switzerland favors and protects hundreds of potent headquarters of multinational commodity corporations and contributes massively to the outflow of private wealth from developing countries and thus to the global redistribution from the bottom to the top. The exploitation and greed knows no limits, not even in times of Covid-19. On the contrary, it favors the global techno-giants and super-rich. And this big shadow falls back on Switzerland. No matter how white we wash the image and how beautifully we talk ourselves into it or preach it to others!

Switzerland shines in many statistics such as gold and money wealth, happiness, patents, receiving but the reality is quite different. Beside the 810’000 millionaires and some billionaires there are in the small Switzerland over 300’000 families, which cannot pay their health insurance premium, 240’000 persons, who were operated for their tax debts and over 400’000 humans, who live under the poverty line. Social expenditures at the federal, cantonal and municipal levels have tripled in the last 15 years. In addition, one percent keeps half of the total wealth for itself. What does that mean? It means that companies in a free market economy would have to offer jobs with living wages and would have to show value creation for the community beyond coperate governance instead of dividends for rich shareholders.

The „finma“, the Swiss financial market supervisory authority, is a sleepyhead and appeasement authority par excellence. Whistleblowers are a different matter. They are persecuted and treated like war criminals. It seems to be good manners in Switzerland that rich people and financial institutions do not have to abide by any rules and are not imprisoned for their crimes. „Cow-trading is a tradition in Switzerland,“ some unctuous politician might say. But the same thing is happening in Germany, too, if you look at the German automakers‘ emissions scandal. So far, none of the glorious car managers has been personally fined and prosecuted for this, and in Switzerland, the bruised buyers of stinky cars are still waiting for compensation or retrofitting. The Swiss banks have learned nothing and still help corrupt politicians and kleptocrats to hide their illegally stolen state money, as the Pandora Papers show. Every single banker involved in this should finally be held accountable.

Capitalism and globalization critic Jean Ziegler, Geneva SP National Councillor and UN Special Rapporteur from 2000 to 2008 said: „For neoliberalism, egoism is the engine. For anti-capitalists and social people, man is animated by the desire for solidarity, reciprocity and complementarity.“ „The oligarchy of global finance capital, flanked by Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis, wants to silence NGOs,“ Ziegler says.  It is the NGOs‘ job to fight against the fiscal bleeding of development aid and impunity for corporations and the super-rich, he said. „The fact that Switzerland spreads the red carpet and offers shelter to mafiosi, dictators and corrupt elites is scandalous,“ adds the former UN Special Rapporteur. Two billion people already lack access to clean drinking water. 62 UN states practice torture. „We are aware that we do not want and do not accept this canibalistic world order,“ concludes Ziegler on appeal.

Without a radical paradigm shift, we are digging our own grave

The fact is that since the 1970s, the world’s population has more than doubled and consumption has increased more than tenfold worldwide, with Switzerland leading the way in consumption. Hyper-globalization has long since reached its zenith and has squandered much political, humanitarian and social capital. At the latest since the outbreak of the Corona pandemic, we have been reminded how fragile our economically rationalized and digitalized society has become – and how quickly everything can change. Just as the bark beetle causes entire forests to die, an invisible effect has been showing its impact around the globe for the past two years. Whether we have learned anything more from this about how to shape our future and how to approach it without further delays remains to be seen. It seems, however, that we continue to remain in the endless loop for too long and that substantial measures to tackle the root of the problem are still being postponed. The „Great Reset“ as Klaus Schwab formulated it at the „WEF“ has failed to materialize. Many still cannot even find a small switch to put an end to the poisoning of our soils, atmosphere, biosphere and the universe.

The policy still operates a Pflästerli strategy. It is evident that „scientific findings and the acute global threat posed by climate change are not capable of helping society to become more human. Egoism and turbo-capitalism are unfortunately still the engine of society. Such a transformation requires a lot of self-reflection, responsibility and solidarity. All this has gone out of fashion. The shouting and screaming on the (a)social media and in the filter bubbles overhear every nuance of the debate and suppress any real dialogue, any approach of solidarity as well as the ability to „see beyond one’s own horizon“. Seen in this light, the Swiss are narrow-minded, as they have always remained. This is also evident in the high percentage of Covid vaccination opponents. Even though I understand some of the fears and put basic rights and freedom above everything, I wonder what brainwashing has influenced this group and how it came about. More about this in the last chapter.

It is very regrettable, but not surprising, that the Swiss population in 2021 rejected the drinking water initiative, the pesticide initiative and the CO2 initiative at the ballot box and that the corporate responsibility initiative failed because of the majority of the cantons. This means that Switzerland no longer has a plan or a strategy for getting a grip on CO2 reduction. We are far from being considered a model student. So we can continue to spray for all we’re worth, which makes the farmers happy. Even nature-oriented farmers and organic farmers have opposed this. Pointing the finger at others is simply no longer an option, we have to pull our own hair out first.Well, the Covid-19 crisis has dampened the appetite for new restrictions and new innovations. But the Swiss economy as a whole got off lightly, except for certain circles, such as tourism, gastronomy and event industry, but even they were mostly well compensated in this country by the short-time unemployment benefits and agriculture continues to be subsidized.

Therefore, it is only right that the climate movement and the climate youth overtake or outflank the Greens on the left and demand a much faster and more consistent approach. Covid-19 is costing us trillions, if we add a few trillions for the transformation of the economy, we would have gained enormously. We absolutely must avoid further pandemics, that alone would make any climate investment worthwhile. It is in the hands of each of us to contribute to this, but it is no longer possible without drastic steps on an unprecedented scale. Long-established ways of life will have to change dramatically. So we have to start with a drastic reduction of deforestation, especially in tropical countries, because it turns out that the so-called spillover is responsible for it. This is what biologists call the process by which pathogens jump from (wild) animals to humans. Spillover gives rise to zoo-noses, i.e. diseases of animal origin. According to a study by British zoologist Kate Jones, a total of 335 new infections emerged between 1940 and 2004, 60 percent of which were of animal origin. These included the influenza A virus, the avian influenza virus H5N1, the Napah virus and probably also Sars and Covid-19. One of the best-known scientists working on zoonoses is Serge Morand, an evolutionary biologist and parasite researcher living in Thailand. Zoonoses are also caused by livestock farming, which has been shown to lead to deforestation, despite the use of antibiotics. Environmental degradation, animal diseases and epidemics are thus closely related to ecology, veterinary and human medicine.

But each of us can do a lot by reducing meat consumption, avoiding food waste, buying local, seasonal products, avoiding constantly new clothes and smart phones, using the OV instead of the car and limiting air travel to the bare minimum. Many more buildings would have to be converted to renewable energies, heating would have to be reduced and self-produced energy would have to be fed into the grid at reasonable prices. Electric stations for e-cars and e-bikes would have to be massively expanded. We must also make much better use of solar and wind energy, water protection must be applied consistently, all subsidies for fossil energy production must be discontinued, and a high fuel tax must be introduced across the board in air travel, thus significantly reducing air traffic. In the business world, carbon footprint accounting in companies and tax incentives for reduction should be introduced. In (re)construction, promote sustainable building techniques. Meadows instead of green spaces, avoid soil sealing and in forestry, cultivate mixed-age and mixed-species forests.

Furthermore, the state should create more incentives for meaningful tasks in social, educational, health care, but also in nature and environmental protection. With climate change, there would be plenty of tasks. And instead of the state paying more and more social welfare money, these human resources should be used for the climate-neutral restructuring of our society, from all age and education groups, cultural and language areas. De facto, only a few workers over 50 years of age find a job again. So why shouldn’t they be used for social tasks and nature and environmental protection projects according to their qualifications and be de-compensated accordingly. We must establish a permanent Spitex for nature. Let’s move on to the individual areas and a few suggestions:

Construction industry/ Cement industry/Building refurbishment

The cement industry is one of the biggest CO2 emitters after the oil and coal industries. However, there have long been alternative, more sustainable building materials that could be used in many places. There is a lot of potential in the construction or renovation of buildings. First of all, there is a well-insulated building envelope, which can also be done with hemp bricks and hemp fleece. With a tight building envelope, the insulation reduces energy consumption in winter. However, energy-saving houses need good ventilation of the rooms. Gas and oil heating systems are obsolete and should be equipped with geothermal probes and heat pumps, especially if solar panels are installed on the roof or on the building, so that the electricity for the heat pump and hot water comes from the sun. With a photovoltaic system, you can make a house self-sufficient in electricity and cover between 60 to 80 percent of the demand. With LED lighting, energy-efficient household appliances and a charging station for e-cars, they are well positioned to save significant operating costs in the future. In Switzerland, pension funds and large real estate companies have a duty to implement this goal quickly.

Nutrition:

The core problem we all face is that 80 million people are added every year, and those just born now theoretically have a higher life expectancy even in developing countries. By the end of the century, there will be eleven billion of us, so we will need even more living space and even more agriculture for food production. By totally transforming the earth’s surface for agriculture and feeding future generations, we are destroying the treasure troves of biodiversity for all eternity. It cannot be that we destroy alone with the animal husbandry for the meat and milk production whole species existence and important ecological systems irretrievably. A vegan diet is therefore becoming the overriding credo for the world’s growing population. For example in the consumption behavior: less meat and milk consumption up to the vegan nutrition, less plastic packing, smaller transport and work ways, in the agriculture the use of pesticides and herbicides must be drastically reduced and incentives for the ecological cultivation be created. Each of us has it in the hand with vegan nutrition and Food Waste Abhilfe a large contribution to make. If one then also consciously buys local and seasonal fruits and vegetables,

Mobility:

Car: Mobility in Switzerland consumes one third of the total CO2 consumption. This is due to the mania and the love for SUVs, i.e. for the „Extremely Environmentally Harmful Vehicles“. No country in the world drives more monster cars and mostly with only one person in the vehicle. Sorry dear car lovers and PS-Protzerer, more stupidly it does not go! Therefore, there is only one solution: gasoline and diesel would have to be taxed considerably higher for the time being and banned until 2030, so that the switch to e-cars is quickly made more attractive. Public parking spaces should be gradually decimated in metropolitan areas and quickly disappear. Instead, more e-bikes, e-cars terminals should be provided on the peripheries and mainly public transport should be expanded in the cities with the help of more e-mobility. Mind you, a trip of 100 kilometers destroys 300 kg of glacial ice. The worst of the unreasonableness is two or three kilometer trips for daycare centers and shopping.

Rail: Rail transport must be made considerably cheaper, at least in Switzerland. One example is Austria, which has introduced an affordable price for an annual season ticket. You can travel around the country for a whole year for the price of a half-fare card. This will certainly give a strong impetus to the trend reversal in public transport. The SBB is lagging behind.

Air traffic: One European flight causes around 5190 kilograms of glacier melt in the Alps. And that thousands of times every day. A CO2 tax would have to be levied on all flights worldwide, including transport flights, so that the industry would also change its technology here and the fun frequent flyers would be put in their place or make an adequate contribution.

Shipping: Freight shipping gobbles up huge amounts of diesel. The more we promote and buy local products, the less has to be transported and distributed far away. Shipping also needs to look at new fuels, sails, and wind turbines, and move full speed ahead toward the energy transition.

Financial industry and oligarchs: No one on earth needs billions, that much is crystal clear. Why not put a cap on the super-rich worldwide and, for example, confiscate and redistribute every dollar over 50 million in assets. The funds needed for climate change should be collected from the super-rich. The commodity companies and tech giants would have to do their part as well as the crypto miners and Big Data miners.

War economy/arms industry: In my opinion, all states should get their act together and introduce a war material moratorium for five or ten years and the saved funds should be spent on climate protection and CO2 reduction. Because mankind is currently fighting a global battle to save our planet, which it seems to be losing. In order to survive this war against our demise, we do not need weapons, tanks, submarines and airplanes. All of which would be of no use to us if we die as a result of hunger, thirst, devastation and distribution struggles. No one comes out of this story unscathed.

Consumer goods industry: Today, many cheap products are designed in such a way that they have to be replaced soon after the warranty period has expired, either because they cannot be repaired (due to a lack of spare parts or due to their design) or because they were designed and manufactured from the outset for a short life. If you look at the quality of components, machines, clothes, etc. that were built in the past, some of which were passed down through the generations, then we all know how things could be better. The products would have to be manufactured in such a way that they can be used for at least ten or twenty years.

Consumers: We underestimate our role and influence, even if one individual can supposedly make little difference. If we want to make a difference, we could ………………………………….

Agriculture: I have already mentioned it, and it is clear to all of us that we can no longer continue to poison the soil and water to an even greater extent. If the consumers send a clear signal and the politicians cancel the subsidies for livestock farming and intensive monoculture agriculture, we will also get going here and help the farmers who practice organic farming with the cancelled subsidies of the poisoners and pesticide polluters. As in Holland, huge cultivation buildings could be built in the agglomeration around the cities, where fruits and vegetables could grow much more efficiently and economically, be harvested more easily and automatically, and be available to the local market.

Plastic packaging: 53 kilograms of single-use plastic per capita and year end up in waste, in the water or elsewhere in the environment in Switzerland. This makes Switzerland one of the largest consumers after Singapore (76 kg), Australia (59 kg), Oman (56 kg) and on par with Belgium, the Netherlands and Hong Kong. By 2040, 1.3 billion tons of plastic will pollute the environment and waterways worldwide. Of course, the packaging industry would have to use new packaging materials, but it is also up to the consumer how and what they buy.

Urban planning/self-sufficiency/social issues: In view of the rapid loss of biodiversity and the desolation of cities, I have been asking myself for a long time why all the useless lawns in front of all rental and residential buildings are not converted into gardens for inclined hobby gardeners and self-supporters among the residents, and especially the poorer people and those with a migration background and agricultural know-how could partially grow their food in front of the house. This would also counteract poverty a little and guarantee the survival of many families as well as be meaningful. Why should we all import food from Africa, China and Latin America, when we could beautify our cities, increase biodiversity and counteract climate change with local cultivation. As soon as a blade of grass makes itself felt, the lawn robot is already there. Useless Thuya hedges as far as the eye can see. Most people don’t know what to do with nature anymore. We should think about what our communities actually do with their communal areas. They create large cultivation structures instead of promoting small-scale, local cultivation. That needs to change. We need to push for greening and solarization of our cities, use less parking, more green transportation and trails, and create green spaces everywhere including on the roofs of homes and industrial facilities, promote biodiversified, local fruit and vegetable growing, or add solar panels to rooftops and highways. Buildings could also be vertically greened, as Singapore and other cities have long exemplified.

Textile industry: It is one of the dirtiest industries after the fossil raw materials industry. There is only one way forward here, dear ladies. Renunciation and more renunciation, fewer clothes, but better quality ones. The fashion madness must come to an end. There is not much more to say here.

Wind energy: Scotland and Norway are leading the way. The Scots already have zero emissions because they have installed so many wind farms that they can export green electricity. Many communities finance these plants themselves with their residents and thus become not only independent of the power supply but also green electricity suppliers. Wind energy has also become a driver of green energy in Norway. Moreover, the country apparently offers ideal conditions to inject and store CO2 deep underground in wooden spaces. Co2 can be liquefied and thus pumped deep into the earth’s layers. In Switzerland, wind energy ekes out a shadowy existence. But wind turbines could be erected here and in many other parts of the world. Here on the lakes, in the alpine valleys where the foehn blows constantly, on alpine ridges and also on the roofs of industrial plants. In any case, there is still a lot of room for improvement in wind energy.

Climate-neutral utopias?

In America, the land of unlimited possibilities, two highway lanes on the opposite side of each entrance and exit could be converted into railroad tracks and the car lanes could be covered with solar cells, so that the power supply for the electrification of traffic could also be ensured at the same time. Of course, there would also be charging stations for e-cars and e-bikes at the train stations on the highways for local transportation. The Japanese or the Chinese or even Stadler Rail could help the Yanks upgrade their infrastructure in terms of rail technology. The fracking wells would disappear and wind turbines would take their place.

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8. Wellbeing and Healing with Ayurveda and Cannabis

Ayurveda treatment: In the realm of loving hands

No other medical system in the world has such a universal, profound and holistic cleansing system as the ancient Ayurvedic Pancha-Karma cure. Where stressed Westerners become healthy again, filled with Eastern wisdom and meditative peace, and which are the best Ayurvedic hot springs in Sri Lanka and India, I would like to share here based on my travels and reports for renowned health magazines.

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. Although the oily Ayurvedic massages make you feel like an oil sardine, you soon 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 hand movements massage the herbal oil into the skin so that it can reach the lower layers of the tissues and involve the blood and nervous systems, isolating and subsequently eliminating the toxins and waste products.

What was developed thousands of years ago in northern India is a holistic natural system that considers body, mind and spirit as one. The Ayurvedic 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, the so-called kapha. Their energy is structuring, form-giving 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.

The Ayurveda cure usually begins with a pulse diagnosis by the doctor. Dr. Rupawathie Waidyawasana from the „Lotus Villa“ in Sri Lanka gently presses her fingers into my forearm above the base of my thumb. But she not only measures the pulse beat, she determines „whether it throbs strongly, glides through the body like waves, hops like a frog or trots along like an elephant“. Thus, the harmony of the three doshas, vatta, pitta and kapha, and the susceptibility to disease are determined. Dr. Buddhike of the „Paragon“ also amazes me: at once he detects three weakened organs with the pulse diagnosis. During colonization, Ayurvedic doctors were prohibited from practicing their profession. As a result, a lot of knowledge was lost, says Dr. Jayawardhana of the „Institut Indigenious Medicin“ at the university in Colombo. And then came the influence of Western medicine, which displaced traditional medicine, adds Dr. Kamal Sersinghe, a lecturer at the university in Colmobo.

Ayurveda assumes that there is everything in nature that is needed to make and keep people healthy. Thus, plants, minerals, ashes, salts, barks, woods, roots and few animal products are cooked, powdered and processed into pills creams and oils. The delicate yellow sesame oil is mixed by the Ayrveda doctor with other natural ingredients that he or she specifically adjusts to the dosha type. The oil can thus have an optimal effect on the individual constitution of each person. „The oils and the right massage technique combined together, this is how the doshas are harmonized, philosophizes Dr. Wasanta Sumana of the Beliata Ayurveda Hospital in Hambatota, Sri Lanka.

My research on Ayurveda medicine was first done in Sri Lanka in the following resorts (before the tsunami): „Aida“ in Bentota, „Lanka Princess“ in Beruwela, „Lawrence Hill“ in Hikkaduwa, „Lotus Villa“ in Ahungatta, „Paragon“ in Unawatuna, „Surya Lanka“ in Talpe and „Vattersgarden“ in …..

How to recognize a good Ayurveda resort? For evaluation you can ask yourself the following questions: Do they accept guests outside the tourist season? Has Ayurveda been practiced for many years? Is treatment individualized or standardized?  Is there a midestay of at least 18 days for a Pancha Karma treatment?  Does the doctor have a university or college degree? Does the <drinking water supply meet the required drinking water quality? Are the meals and medicine prepared individually? Is there a general ban on smoking. If you have clarified these questions for yourself, you have already come a long way, also as a spiritual preparation for the cure.

Ayurveda: The three Dosha types and their characteristics

The doshas shape the characteristics and functions of a person’s physical and mental abilities. Here, in a simplified way, are the three most important types out of a total of ten differentiations.

Vata type: strong-willed, responsible, enterprising, courageous, emotional, motivated, creative, flexible, spontaneous, freshness, joy, happiness. Negative: anxiety, fear, nervousness and jumpy.

Vata – kinetic principle – breathing, & movement (joints and muscles) responsible for stimulating Agni (digestive fire), for elimination, sensory perception and speech.

Organs: Large intestine, lumbar and sacral regions, thighs, bones and sensory organs.

Qualíty: Provides cellular fluid, shapes physique/structure, makes joints supple, moisturizes skin, strengthens immune defenses and is responsible for internal development.

Y/T time: life phase from 46 – 80 years, months: November to February, times of day: 2 to 6 o’clock and from 2 to 6 o’clock.

Tip: ensure a lot of inner and outer peace, avoid cold and prefer warm food.

Pitta type: fiery, courageous, truth-loving, promoting understanding, dialogue and intelligence. Negative: anger, hatred, criticism, jealousy,

Pitta – thermal principle – (body temperature) it regulates metabolism, digestion, energy, heat and skin coloration. Responsible for hunger, thirst intelligence and bravery,

organs: navel, stomach, large and small intestine, sweat, blood, vision and external activity.

Qualítät: regulates the body nature, enzymes, amino acids and controls biochemical processes.

Y/T period: phase of life 17- 45 years. MOante: July to October. Daytime hours: 10 am to 1 pm and 10 pm to 2 am.

Problems: Fever, inflammation, eye irritation, bleeding gums, moles, freckles, tendency to sweat, acidity of the stomach, skin problems, ulcers, sensitive teeth, premature graying, Pitta types are often workaholics.

Tip: Eat something immediately when hungry

Kapha type: slow comprehension, good long-term memory, makes decisions thoughtfully, hard to get upset, comfortable, content person, has stamina, Negative: greed, envy, cling to material things and immovable states.

Kapha – hydro principle (synthesis and union) responsible for lubricating the joints and for oiling and greasing the tissues and skin (metabolism), potency and stability

Organs: chest, throat, head, joints, stomach, tongue,

Qualíty: regulates breathing, heartbeat, nervous system, blinking of the eyes and the movement of the olasma

Y/T period: life phase o to 16 years. Months: March to June. Daytime hours: 6 to 10 a.m. and 6 to 10 p.m.

Problems: Coughs, colds, benbulism, phlegm, depression, desire to eat, weight gain, lethargy, high blood pressure, heart attack, diabetes, water in the tissues.

What is good for the three Dosha types?

Vata type: Warm, heavy and oily foods that taste sweet, sour and salty are good. So cucumbers, carrots, sweet potatoes, cabbage, squash, radishes, asparagus, apricots, avocados, bananas, berries, honeydew melons, churches, oats, wheat, rice, nuts, poultry, meat, fish and boiled eggs. Cold, dry and light foods and cold drinks are to be avoided.

Pitta -type: Good are cold foods, foods and drinks that taste sweet or bitter, such as cauliflower, brocolli, peas, green beans, cucumbers, potatoes, squash, Brussels sprouts, mushrooms, apples, avocado, dried fruits, figs, cherries, mangoes, oranges, plums, legumes, dill, fennel, cardamom, corriander, mint, cinnamon. Hot, spicy, salty or acidic foods should be avoided.

Kapha type: light, dry and warm foods that are spicy or bitter tasting are good. Eggplant, cauliflower, brocolli, carrots, cabbage, asparagus, peppers, mushrooms, salads, apple, apricots, berries, cherries, raisins, dried fruits, all grains except oats, all legumes except white beans, garlic, honey, buttermilk, cottage cheese, madel, fish, game, shellfish, eggs, sunflower oil. Avoid heavy, oily, and clammy foods, as well as everything that is sweet, sour, and salty.

CANABIS

Let’s take another spiritual journey from the advanced civilizations of indigenous peoples to today’s lowlands, trials and tribulations of drug use, delving into the international and state repression machine in dealing with psychoactive substances and focusing 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 are banned in Northern Europe, i.e. in Germany, France, Great Britain and Switzerland. Spain and Portugal, as well as Czechoslovakia, have relaxed the laws and allowed consumption on a limited basis in so-called social clubs. In addition to the USA and Canada, which have long since legalized the drug, Mexico is now following suit.

In Switzerland, a 5-year pilot project trial phase will start in 2022, making it clear that it could take another 10 years in this country for the policy to change. The hemp plant and its substrates the cannabinoids and terpenes are condemned against better knowledge for nearly 50 years as a devil drug, condemned and criminalized, thereby donates the ancient culture and cult plant worldwide for thousands of years valuable healing and food. Thus, the hemp oil is very rich in unsaturated omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids and only in the optimal ratio. The applications in medicine are incredibly wide-ranging. Cosmetics have also rediscovered the healing properties of hemp, and in France some winegrowers are beginning to enrich their wine with hemp. By the way, this was already done by the Romans. They knew about the potentized effect of alcohol and cannabis. And the indigenous high cultures in Latin America, above all Teotihuatlan, were the strongholds of experimental drug highs. Anyone who wanted to belong to the elite had to undergo a week-long drug hell trip in the dark temples. The cocktail consisted not only of cannabis but mainly of psychoactive mushrooms and cacti such as Don Pedro and mescaline.

Once we appreciated the intoxicating and horizon-expanding aspects of the THC substance in our youth in the 60’s and 80’s, as we grew older and gained new knowledge, other valuable medicinal effects were added, such as mental and physical relaxation, a good night’s sleep and ability to fall asleep, more intense and creative sex, improved skin texture, and veritable health aids for many diseases, as we will see in a moment. Mary Jane has often been blamed as a gateway drug to harder substances, ignoring the fact that alcohol use is the first and most important step toward all other drugs, and conversely, drug addiction is not to be disparaged. Today, the mix of alcohol, designer drugs and stimulant medications is particularly sought after and dangerous. Synthetic Spice products can also be deadly. A consequence of Nixon’s misguided, globally repressive and very mendacious, racially and politically motivated drug policy and thus originated in America. Under President Nixon it was claimed „cannabis turns people“ into animals. The target of the discriminatory campaign of the „War on Drugs“ were the blacks and the white opponents of the war. And in Switzerland posters were hung with the slogan „Hasch macht doof“. Here, too, the hippies, the freaks, and the „moved“ were meant.

In the 90s, first Zurich, then the whole of Switzerland became a hemp Mecca with the legendary hemp pellets and scented sachets or bath additives containing THC-containing weed and hashish. Even ping pong balls filled with MariJane with holes in them were available. At the time, weed was legal as such, as long as it was not explicitly used for „drug abuse,“ i.e., trafficking and distribution of the flowers. There were lax regulations for the production of fragrances or for brewing hemp flower beer, which also did not depend on THC content. So tons of outdoor cannabis was legally and inexpensively traded on a large scale like in the witch’s cauldron or in video stores, clothing boutiques, drug stores and other shops. This only changed when Switzerland wanted to join the UN, which insisted that Switzerland recognize the Single Convention Act of 1961. In addition, neighboring countries Germany and France put pressure on Switzerland to roll back liberalization, which the Federal Council proposed to parliament in 2002 and which was approved by both chambers the following year, because drug tourism was a thorn in their side. With the reform of the BetmG, the status similar to the EU was adopted, with the exception that in our country the tolerance limit for commercial hemp is somewhat higher and CBD has been legalized since 2016. The only problem is that you can badly half legalize a plant and still criminalize it. That is why the current article for the five-year pilot projects in the four cities (Basel, Bern, Geneva and Zurich) with 5000 people per city is also called „experimental article“. But the conditions are somewhat abstruse. It is equally frustrating to get an exemption permit for dronabinol (synthetic THC) under certain medical criteria, but it is not covered by health insurance. Instead of promoting the area-wide, sustainable, ecological and landscape-protecting outdoor cultivation, which could be used for medicine, cosmetics, food, building materials, textiles, etc. and could also be used as avalanche protection and for CO-2 reduction, which would offer mountain farmers an economic organic basis, the focus continues to be on indoor cultivation and the one-sided synthesization of the ingredients for pharmaceutical products.

Although in the USA hemp, weed, hash etc. have been largely legalized in many states for a long time, in Switzerland we are just allowing a few pilot trials, which are unsuitable in this form and which only serve to favor the pharmaceutical industry and protect it in the event of liberalization. In its „Perspectives on Drug Policy 2030“, the Federal Council announces its intention to examine the advantages and disadvantages of the sanctions procedure and thus to reassess the opportunities and risks of legalization. In other words, the government is considering decriminalization and legalization over the next ten years. Whereas Portugal already took this path ten years ago, in 2001, with quite positive consequences. The fact that the Swiss government needs 30 years or more to do this is not exactly exhilarating. There was an attempt, but Federal Councilor Ruth Dreyfuss narrowly failed in parliament with her bill. Yet Switzerland, which in the 1980s in the face of the great heroin crisis and the many drug deaths, developed a methadone distribution program that was unique in the world and decriminalized and virtually eliminated heroin use. This successful model made Zurich, and with it Switzerland, a pioneer of a humanitarian drug policy that recognized the potential for addiction. Since then, the government has relied on the four-pillar principle (prevention, therapy, harm reduction and repression).

While hundreds of traffic deaths and thousands of acts of violence under the influence of alcohol are accepted as normal, cannabis has not yet killed anyone and tends to lead to a calm, peaceful if not apathetic stoned state. Where is the widely praised proportionality and Helvetic insight into the facts? With the popular drug alcohol, one accepts all the traffic deaths, family violence excesses, rapes and aggressions? Grotesque, isn’t it? When the 2012 World Cup took place in Portugal, the government banned alcohol for three days but turned a blind eye to cannabis use. Lo and behold, it was the most peaceful soccer games ever. Now let’s delve into today’s medical facts and the political big picture. Cannabis is admittedly no longer internationally equated with heroin since the „United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs“ (CDN) voted in December 2020 at a meeting in Vienna on various proposals made in 2019 by the World Health Organization (WHO) to reclassify cannabis. At issue was removing cannabis from Schedule IV of the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs and decriminalizing it. Because cannabis had previously been on Schedule IV along with heroin and methaphetamine, the illicit opiates and cocaine, many conservative states continued to invoke the age-old regulation. drug policy shaped over 50 years ago by messianic and hypocritical U.S. policy (and the ambitions of an out-of-work U.S. alcohol prohibition chief) is in upheaval worldwide.

Prohibition has never worked, the medical potential has been neutered

Drug prohibition is supposed to protect us, we are told everywhere. Our health is enforced by coercive and criminal means. In a very flimsy, hypocritical way, although the WHO defines addiction per se as a disease. Whether it is binge eating, alcohol addiction, heroin or opium addiction, or cannabis „abuse.“ But what is the reality? An obscure, Kafkaesque tangle that defies all logic. Do the police ring the bell when diabetics, the recommendations of doctors disregard the prescription information? Do the police sanction and fine offenders for „Ritalin“ or prescription pill abuse? There have been hundreds of thousands of deaths in the U.S. due to money-grubbing pharmaceutical companies and loose prescribing policies of opiates such as „oxytoxin“ as painkillers. A disaster of biblical proportions, exceeded only by Trump’s primitive Corona epidemic policy. In the meantime, cannabis has been legalized in many states in the USA, in Canada and in Uruguay, as well as in some countries in Europe (Spain, Portugal, Czech Republic), Switzerland is lagging behind as always and everywhere. This is probably due to the fact that the pharmaceutical giants do not want to miss out on this big business, a market worth more than five billion Swiss francs, and are lobbying the federal government to ensure that no actual liberalization is being pursued, but only pharmaceutical regulation. In other words, it will probably remain forbidden for Kreti and Pleti to grow and harvest this ancient crop in the garden next to the tomatoes and other herbs. If this were the case, Switzerland could shut down half a nuclear power plant if the growers in this country were not forced to grow the crops under lights in cellars and industrial plants with an immense demand for electricity, while hemp could secure our mountains and avalanche slopes if it were planted outside on a large scale. The only thing that is certain is that the green gold, like almost everything else in Switzerland, is turned into lucrative coal by the pharmaceutical industry and cannabis is only dispensed medically, clinically and possibly even synthetically on prescription for expensive money. Thus the CBD or THC preparations legally available at present for very few persons (approximately 3000) cost between 600 to 800 francs and the health insurance companies do not take over the costs only still or only in the rarest cases. Thus, such a legalized distribution will not eliminate the black market. And the path to a special permit has so far only been possible in four cases: for spasticity such as multiple sclerosis, for chronic pain patients, for HIV disease and for cancer and chemotherapy. It’s worth taking a brief look back to the 1980s.

„If you look back at the heroin crisis in the 1980s, you can say today that illegality and criminalization caused the greatest damage,“ says Toni Berthel, a psychiatrist who headed the „Federal Commission for Addiction Issues“ (EKSF), which has since been renamed the „Federal Commission for Addiction and Prevention of Noncommunicable Diseases“ (EKSN). 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. And it is no longer tenable to ban a drug with a low addiction potential and few harmful indications, such as cannabis, while a substance with such a high addiction 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 Clinic in Zurich, agree. He, too, believes that consumption should be decriminalized as soon as possible, „otherwise you continue to punish the most severely affected.“ But regulating each substance individually is enormously complex, he says. And beyond that, there are many other questions about whether these substances would then become prescription drugs and what the requirements would be for the substances produced. So we are also talking about legalization steps for cocaine, of which more than five tons are consumed in Switzerland every year. Or about crystal meth, LSD and mescaline. However, it is also clear that without a tight framework for dispensing, one immediately loses control, because the tobacco lobby or other (also dubious) interested parties are waiting in the wings. But back to cannabis, which is the focus of the cantons here and now also in the pilot projects approved by the FOPH over a period of three years (2022 – 2025). A substance that has been used for thousands of years and has a long-proven, high medicinal potential has been unjustly stigmatized. This much is already clear today. Because:

The catalog of diseases for which cannabis has been proven to have a positive but little or no negative effects, for a long time much wider. In medicine, THC and CBD are therefore increasingly used for therapeutic purposes, for headaches and migraines, nausea or vomiting. It has anxiety-relieving, antipsychotic effects, relieves pain from nerve injuries, inhibits inflammation, suppresses muscle spasms and seizures, stimulates bone growth, lowers blood sugar levels and intraocular pressure, and can also destroy cancer cells. That’s not all, let’s take a closer look at the rich medical and scientific potential of this semi-legal, semi-illegal plant. Israeli researchers are leading the world in the study of medical cannabis. Dr. Raphael Mechoulam, discovered THC 50 years ago and later CBD. Research conducted by the „Jewish University“ and „Tel Aviv University“ has shown that THC and CBD can promote the healing of bone fractures and activate lysylhydroxylases (the enzymes necessary for bone healing) in cells. THC binds to the canna-binoid receptors CB1 and CB2 in the body. When docking to CB1 receptors, it affects signal transmission to synapses, which transmit information to the central and peripheral nervous system, resulting in a feeling of happiness, relaxation and pain relief. In Israel, the healing effect of cannabis on colon cancer cells and adenomatous polyps has also been demonstrated. Here CBG was shown to cause cell arrest in colon cancer cells and apoptotic cell death. The most common form of cancer is skin cancer. i.e. melanoma.

Let us now turn to one of the main causes of death in the Western world, type 2 diabetes. Obesity a key risk factor closely linked to the disease. Certain molecules produced 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. If this is the case, normal blood glucose levels cannot be maintained. A UK-based is currently developing a cannabis drug that potentially eliminates the need for insulin injections in diabetes. The company has already launched an oral spray called „Sativex“ to help with the muscle spasms associated with multiple sclerosis. This drug targets the use of the cannabinoids CBD and THCV (tetrahydrocannabivarin), which are molecules that lower blood sugar levels and improve insulin production. THCV is a potent cannabinoid and has been shown to be an appetite suppressant to begin with. A study published by the American Diabetes Association examined the efficacy and safety of THCV and CBD in patients with type 2 diabetes. The researchers, found that THCV also significantly decreased fasting plasma glucose. In turn, the cannabinoids CBD and THC mutually reinforce 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 against neuronal cell loss. Researchers from the „Universidad 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 apoptosis 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. Through studies on animals, it has been shown that THC and CBD can stimulate and support both processes. In their study, the researchers used THC and CBD in equal amounts, as given in the drug Sativex, which is currently undergoing a testing phase as a pain medication for cancer patients. The researchers discovered the potential of cannabinoids to treat melanoma back in 2006, when they found the CB1 and CB2 receptors in melanoma cells. These receptors are also the binding sites for THC in the human body. By activating these receptors, the researchers were able to slow down the growth of cancer cells because apoptosis and autophagy were triggered by the treatment. As we can see, the purely medicinal spectrum of the hemp plant is enormous, not to mention that the plant, i.e. the seeds and the oil are very good for nutrition, because they contain an extremely high proportion and ideal ratio of unsaturated fatty acids and amino acids.

The hemp plant has indisputably a lot of medicinal potential that should be used increasingly by the pharmaceutical industry. But please not exclusively and under discrimination of those who want to grow the phytomedicinal qualities with sunlight and rainwater, CO2-neutral with lower THC potency free of charge and consume at any time carefree legal, no matter whether as a joint, as Hasch-Keckse or as hemp oil. That alone would already serve the public health and help the economy as well as the state, the police and justice. Tax revenues for youth protection and prevention, for the state and cantons, the relief of law enforcement agencies from the senseless stoner hunt, an economic innovation boost also in textiles and building materials. A few examples:

The skin is our largest organ and serves as a protective shield against infections and injuries. It is an extremely complex membrane with the epidermis and pores at the top, then in the derma with the sebaceous and sweat glands and hair follicles, followed by the subcutis with the adipocytes and then the muscle structure. The lipid layer is a physiochemical barrier with antimicrobial properties that controls the skin microbiome. The sebaceous glands (sebocytes) contribute with their lipid-rich sebum and, in case of unbalanced production, determine acne, dehydrated skin and other dermatological diseases. According to recent findings, there is an interesting link between cannabinoids and the metabolic processes in the skin. In a systematic study of the effects on the skin of the use of synthetic cannabinoids, which can be purchased over the counter, scientists found that there is an active interaction between cannabinoids and skin homeostasis. In 2015, at the dermatological University of Münster, Germany, human cannabinoid receptors CB1 and CB2 were detected in the sebaceous glands for the first time. Another group of researchers found that the potential of cannabinoids has a significant impact on the homeostasis of sebum production (sebum). In one experiment, CB2 receptors were specifically turned off in sebocytes, which resulted in a reduction of sebum production. In the second experiment, exogenously applied endocannabinoids were found to increase lipid pro-duction, indicating the importance of the CB2 receptor in sebocytic lipogenesis.

In other words, the phyto-cannabinoid cannabidiol clearly shows anti-acne effects by normalizing sebum production, increased proliferation of keratinocytes and bacterial inflammation. CBD does not inhibit sebum lipogenesis, but brings it into proper balanace. Also essential oil that is extracted from the hemp plant consists of a variety of terpenes and antimicrobial properties against P.acnes and are also anti-inflammatory. As a result, terpenes can or must be increasingly emphasized as another building block in the complex effect of the hemp plant for medicinal purposes and health aspects. Moreover, cannabinoids also have a key function in the skin, which is not limited to the immune cells. The modulatory effect is also active in the sebaceous glands and many other cell types that contain phatogenic and hazard-associated recognition receptors. These cells coordinate and formulate local immune responses and the production of pro- and anti-inflammatory mediators. And all this happens under the strict regime of the human cannabinoid system (ECS), as explained by the source of these exciting findings, Dr. Christian Löfke, cell biologist at the organic hemp producer „BioBloom“.

Hemp fiber was already highly valued in shipping, and recently it has come back into the conversation as a building material, opening up entirely new, sustainable construction methods for building everything from micro houses to apartment buildings. The excellent, breathable insulating materials can be used for floors, interior and exterior walls, false ceilings and even the roof. First of all, there is hemp lime for exterior walls, which can be used very flexibly in a wide variety of constructions. The hemp can be used in blocks of any size (like bricks) or it can be used to construct entire walls and floors in a tailor-made way. Hemp clay is used in interior walls and floor construction because of its excellent thermal mass. Hemp wool shines due to its exceptional insulating properties combined with high lightness and toughness. Hemp fleece, in turn, is a good impact sound insulator. And hemp lime opens up completely new, sustainable applications in the construction and wood industries. For example, a farmhouse with timber framing can be completely restored and the outer walls sealed with hemp lime. Which notabene fulfills all energy standards without additional use of other insulating materials. Hemp lime is made from hemp shives (chopped hemp stalks) that are already used as animal litter and then, with the addition of lime and water, results in a kind of natural concrete. The procedure can be made also with loam instead of lime, whereby the building method could be opened again for many other world regions. A small house requires about two tons of hemp hurds and fibers, while a single-family house can require 15 tons of hemp hurds and four tons of hemp fibers. 

According to estimates by the U.S. firm Grand View Research, cannabis companies will generate $73 billion worldwide in 2027. The London-based firm „Prohibition Partners“, which specializes in cannabis, estimates the market volume for Europe at 115 billion euros by 2028. The sales potential for Switzerland is currently estimated at a good five billion, but it could be much higher. Currently, Canadian companies are leading the way, followed by companies in the U.S. and the U.K., but there are also some quite big players in Switzerland. Drug prohibition never worked, the medical potential was neutered. We’ve known that for 50 years now. So we should at least give grass now, instead of letting valuable time pass with abstruse pilot projects. The population is mature enough for this and no longer wants to be patronized and taken for fools.

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9. places of longing: Australia, Aborigines and South Sea pearls

Finally, a very relaxing trip to Australia, and then we’re off to the South Seas. Let’s start the journey on the world’s largest sand island in the Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Queensland, where tropical forested dunes tower on the shores of crystal clear freshwater lakes amidst emerald green rainforests. Off Fraser Island’s coast, humpback whales and dolphins cavort. But the island biotope is not only a refuge for rare plant species and endemic animal species; homo ecotourism is also increasingly nesting here. Sand dunes up to 240 meters high, 120 kilometers of beach, numerous crystal clear freshwater lakes and a large sheltered bay, Hervey Bay, where whales can be seen between August and October, are the attraction of the island microcosm.

Fraser Island is ancient and carries the eternity of over 220 million years of evolutionary history on its hump. Sand has washed up and accumulated 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 only 20 million years ago. For the western world Fraser Island was discovered by James Cook in 1770.

A legend of the Butschulla tribe about evolutionary history says that the Creator once sent the gods Jendigi and Gari to earth. They created mountains, rivers and lakes, and the goddess Gari insisted on staying on earth. So Jendigi transformed the goddess Gari into a beautiful island with over 40 lakes, so clear that Gari could see him in the sky. He also created animals and humans and taught them to reproduce. This is the story of the creation of Fraser Island, the world’s largest sand island, 120 km long and 25 km wide. Over the millennia, the sea has washed up gigantic sand dunes.

The gigantic freshwater reservoirs together hold ten to twenty million mega-liters of fresh water. The crystal clear drinking water of Lake McKenzie, lined with bright white sand beaches, invites you to take a dip. Dingoes can also be seen on the shore. However, they do not come to drink, but because of the bulging provision bags of the tourists. Many a fine morsel falls off for the wild dogs.

Already in the apron of the Australia journey I made myself strong for the „whale prohibition“ and reported about it in different newspapers, among other things in the Sunday newspaper under the title „Lieber touristic ausschlachten, als abschlachten“! Now I wanted to fulfill myself the dream and participate in a whale watching. Hervey Bay is only one of a dozen places in the Great Barrier Reef where the whales cavort. About 100 people crowd to the railing on the „Kingfisher“ catamaran, scanning the horizon for fountains or a towering tail fin. „There they are,“ one yells, and the crowd cheers! A colossus weighing perhaps 30 tons with a body certainly over 16 meters long shoots high into the air like a silvery arrow performs a pirouette and then dives headfirst back into the waters. What a sublime sight! Fortunately, they are protected here.

„Whale-watching“ has blossomed into a 600 to 700 million tourism industry in the 1990s. Whale-watchers travel to Baja California, the coast of Brazil, Patagonia or South Africa to see the swimming mammals. As early as 1994, Australia was earning more than 50 million a year from whale watching. No wonder, the giants of the seas are fascinating in every way! Like encoded messages (today they are probably lamentations) their tones sound from the depth of the ocean, similar to a sonar, the echo-sounding system of shipping they determine their course with radar signals. They send out exact transmission intervals and are able to pick up the signals of the sound waves with their sensitive sense and to analyze and locate them precisely, so that they can orientate themselves over thousands of kilometers. The songs, which can last up to thirty minutes, are used for communication with conspecifics. From the turquoise shores of the Great Barrier Reef now to a completely different area, which stands in contrast to the maritime life, but equally fights for survival.

Opal seekers in Coober Pedy: Hope lives underground

Between Adelaide and Alice Springs, somewhere in the middle of a glowing, hot, inhospitable lunar landscape, lies the then 5,000-strong nest of Coober Pedy, also known as „Opal Mining City“. The inhabitants live in subterranean mole-like constructions and also spend the day underground, in the tunnels, equipped with dynamite to carry out further blasting. Glimpses into the lives of opal prospectors in a dynamite-laden underground. Driven by the hope of quick riches and exposed to the risk of failing mouse-poor, real fortune seekers thus, from all parts of the earth. But what is it that draws people here? Desolation, scorching heat, lots of dust and rubble, and endless hardships. Nothing is spared the opa prospectors here. Four-fifths of the population lives underground in the tunnels, which have ventilation shafts to the top. The supermarket, gas station and church are also underground. Here in the hot outback, men from Albania, Italy, Croatia, Greece, Serbia, Poland and even Swiss are among them. They are all looking for the precious stones. At that time, you could just stake a „claim“ and start drilling and blasting. Lucky men who left Coober Pedy as rich men are few and far between. The large cemetery in the desert nest is eloquent testimony to that.  There is also a letter carrier for the region. John Stillwell’s oxen tour clearly shows the local dimensions. Twice a week, John drives from Coober Pedy to William Creek, a provincial nest of nine houses, and then to Oodnadata, a dilapidated Aborginies settlement, delivering mail to three farmers over the 650 kilometers. John has been doing this tour for six years now and he has done the route over 700 times.  He also crosses the Moon Plain Area, a dry, stony, sandy moonscape dotted with small hills to the Anna Creek cattle ranch, whose fence is over 9600 kilometers long. The farm is thus almost as big as the Netherlands. Then we continue to William Creek and although there are only nine houses, there is probably the most expensive satellite phone booth in the world and a shady parking lot with parking meter. We continue along an old Aborginies trail to the underground hot springs and follow the „Great Overland Telegraph line“. At sunset we played another round of desert sand golf.

South Sea Pearls: At the Gate to Paradise

A mosaic of light and color surrounds the widely scattered chain of islands. Each of these islands, covered in emerald green vegetation, is fringed by turquoise blue and wreath-shaped reefs. They limit the depth of the sea, turn its opulent underwater splendor upwards and unfold the beauty of the colorful coral gardens with great abundance of species and shield the islands, which are often only a few meters above the sea surface, from the surf. After an interminably long flight from Zurich, via Paris, New-York, San Francisco and Hawaii, I landed at the „gateway to paradise“ on Tahiti – also called the „island of love“ and synonymous with the stuff dreams are made of. The French overseas territory with its 118 islands is divided into the Austral and Society Islands, the Marquesas and the Tuamotu Archipelago. The choice is difficult. But basically, there are two types of islands that unite to form a brilliant ensemble: high volcanic islands like Moorea, Huahine or Tahiti and flat atolls like Tetiaroa.

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 impressionist 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. The vacation island, on which several volcanic peaks rise like lances into the sky, became famous through Dino de Laurenti’s film „Mutiny on the Bounty“. Right next to the 900 meter high Mount Rotui lies 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 as swift as an arrow, or graceful creatures sit under the coconut palms, mango, papaya, avocado and breadfruit trees.  Since then, Europeans have measured the South Seas with the yardstick of their wishes and dreams; poets of all stripes fantasize, fabricate and compose much crazy beauty. But a place of vicious pleasures, the South Seas is not, despite all matriarchal mores and permissive sensuality. But there is a conspicuous number of transvestites (raerae) in Papeete. And a Polynesian peculiarity are the marus – sons feminized from an early age by their mothers, usually the last born in a family that has no daughters. They behave like women and do the housework. Both marginalized groups enjoy a high level of social acceptance.

Thirty years after the French invasion of Tahiti and Mururoa by an army of nuclear physicists, engineers and military men, the South Sea Islanders know not only the god of love, but also the god and power of money. Life in paradise has its price and it is high. Problems with alcohol and other drugs as well as poverty and slumming are on the rise. In fact, travel writers can’t help but describe the South Seas in the most beautiful colors and, in view of the gentle and tranquil way of life of the extremely hospitable islanders, elevate it to the status of paradise. High volcanic islands like Moorea, Huahine and Tahiti, flat atolls like Marlon Brando’s kingdom of Tetiaroa. Like Tahiti, Huahine is divided into a large and a small island. Between them is a strait that is very popular with surfers. Bora Bora has the most spectacular and beautiful lagoon in the world. Truly, the only 30 square meters small but 30 million years old atoll is a precious jewel in the Pacific. At that time, many tourists also took Moorea to their hearts because of the movie „Mutiny on the Bounty“, which was filmed there in Oponohu Bay. 

10. (A)social media, Big Data, AI, Whistleblowers and disruptive media moguls.

Critically questioning the role of all media

In the final chapter, we take another somewhat creepy journey through the world of Big Data, Artificial Intelligence and the (a)social media that so strongly influence all of our lives. As is so often the case, the technologies are helpful and good, but are mostly being used and commoditized in disruptive ways. Anyone who goes outside quickly realizes that they need to dress warmly. Anger, hatred and denunciation dominate the debate climate, prevent genuine discourse and lead to camp formation and wagon mentality. They fuel discord and prevent the necessary dialogue. A reasonable exchange between the pole positions hardly comes about any more, a discussion progress and enrichment for both sides fall under the table. One gets the impression that the discrediting of people who think differently is used as a cheap substitute for serious, well-founded and solution-oriented politics. Instead of connecting more and more with everything alive, we have successively focused our cognitive abilities on the smart phone, PCs and laptops and no longer see beyond (our own) horizon. It is striking that the view has been reduced to a display and 35 cm horizon and that most people are constantly swiping around on the smart phone instead of facing an interesting dialog or flirting a little. Interesting encounters on public transport have largely been lost, with almost everyone just staring at their displaly as if they were part of the machine, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

In contrast to the pandemic, we have still not fully recognized the negative effects of digitalization and have not put the ingenious and progressive potential of technologies and the Internet at the service of society and humanity, but have unconditionally left tech giants to our exploitation, enslavement and dehumanization and are blithely playing along with the tragic game. The gradual disconnection from everything that makes us human and humanity itself, the constant artificial seduction of apps and algorithms that dictates our lives, is where very few of us now differ from gambling addicts, tablet and alcohol addicts, even fixers. Actually, seen in the masses, we no longer differ from digi-tal zombies and hardly all that much from robots that either function according to „schema F“ or are discarded and dulled. What if the next global pandemic was a world-wide cyberattack on the Internet. Then the world would literally stand still, but millions of people would go crazy. Those who still have access to their simple, living basic needs and with all their fibers, unbroken curiosity and joy of exchange with strangers would be deterred. Where is the freedom left there? We need a sensible global income and social policy, not an economic growth policy for the sake of a few and ruin for all. Most social media, especially „Facebook“ and „Twitter“ are like „infernal machines for destabilizing whole societies“.

The US and Donald Trump have just proven it and taken it to extremes, but the disruptive SM demon is in constant use around the world, directing governments and society before it. We have become media empowered but not media literate – and most get lost in an endless loop using these perfidious techno-tools that divide society. The hypocritical and irresponsible net lords pursue a „Kafkaesque censorship policy“: Sometimes following the with the banishment of a few nipples obscure evangelical morals and opaque filters, for that they ignore posts that incite to violence, be it in the USA and Europe or with dictatorial neighbors and despots, as the military junta in Burma gave free rein to agitators in the expulsion of the Rohinas (and was not censored) and in China anyway in dealing with the Iugurs, the Hong Kong Chinese, Taiwanese, etc. What distortions of reality and discourse are being propagated or suppressed here? Where exactly are the limits of what is justifiable? How are conflicting goals, political influence and abuse of power limited and prevented?

Quite simply, binding and precisely formulated ethical standards and journalistic principles would have to be introduced for everyone, in terms of factual accuracy and source citation, and full transparency would have to be established in the filter settings and the „world view“ of the platform. But most importantly, companies should be taxed enough to actually make a social contribution to world affairs and not just make Marc Zuckerberg, Jeff Bezos and a few others multi-billionaires. No one person should own one or more billions on their own. Billionaires would have to give every cent over 100 million of mine back to society. But: The oligarchy of the globalized finance capital wants to silence the NGOs and the Swiss foreign minister Ignazio Cassis wants to put the development organizations on a short leash and cut their contributions, while it is only logical that civil organizations also get politically involved in the fight against injustice and inequality. NGOs must be in a position to get to the root of the evil and, through research, get to the bottom of the dirty dealings of the extractive and financial industries and take action on a civil level against misery and exploitation. For there is much to be done:

Two billion people have no access to clean water, 62 UN states practice torture, millions of people and children starve to death, although the world could produce enough food for all. For neoliberalism, the cannibalistic world and economic order and selfishness is the engine of history. For anti-capitalists and social movements, every human being is inspired by the desire for solidarity, reciprocity and complementarity with the poorest people, and the idea of a more just world is not a utopia but a necessity to be constantly worked on. Is it presumptuous to dream of a post-capitalist world and not lose sight of this goal. „When human consciousness is finally freed from the capitalist alienation of human values, the transformation process of the new order will begin in the framework of respect for all economic, social and cultural rights and values will be based.

Everything important is unpurchasable, everything purchasable is unimportant. Renunciation creates free space. Those who hardly need money do not have to earn much and can turn to more meaningful things than slave labor. There is still a lack of an ideal superstructure – everyone looks out for himself, egoism and self-promotion flourish. Many indulge in a superficial, consumption-oriented and meaningless existence. There are neo-ascetics, pragmatic idealists, robust materialists and exuberant capitalists. From the liberation from social constraints follows a turbo-individualism that torpedoes the ideal foundations and the cohesion of our society and renounces compassion, solidarity and respectability. After the emergence of religion and politics, the gods of capitalism lose their luster and, if present, their meaning-giving power. More appearance than reality was the motto for a long time. The varnish is off and the shine of unbridled capitalism is fading in the field of tension between turbo-capitalism and social market economy. Many things are currently being put to the test: the image of man, gender roles, the world order and the economic order, the intergenerational contract and the welfare state.

We are in a purgatory of paradoxes. Division and fragmentation have shattered the social order, and digitization is partly to blame. Have we now reached the point where we replace the lost values with even more laws and coercive state measures and protect society and the state from exuberant contemporaries and, at the same time, protect ourselves from the encroachments and interventions of the state and give up fundamental rights and freedoms more and more? They are already as full of holes as an Emmental cheese.

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 replaced the „Cold War“ with the Soviet Union, with NATO Allies immediately joining the U.S. in unconditional solidarity and declaring alliance default 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 a renewed boost and large military budgets. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were the result, and Europe blithely participated – also in the knowledge of the torture prisons of the USA in Afghanistan, Iraq, the Eastern Bloc and 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. But we Swiss are also the 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 international organizations and the many oligarchs and tax evaders and Mafiosis who live and work here. They all love Switzerland.

Let us also recall the horrific images of the Abu Ghuraib torture scandal during the U.S. occupation of Iraq, which caused a worldwide sensation. In it, Iraqi inmates at Abu Ghuraib prison were abused, raped and tortured by guards, often to the point of death. „Most of the inmates were „innocents who were in the wrong place at the wrong time,“ a general later said. In December 2002, Donald Rumsfeld approved 16 special interrogation methods for Guantanamo, including intimidating detainees with dogs, requiring them to strip naked during interrogations and assume uncomfortable postures for hours. Solitary confinement, interrogation for up to 20 hours, and deprivation of hot meals were also part of the regime. Since the war in Afghanistan, detainees have been held in an internment camp in Guantanamo Bay as well as on Diego Garcia; without judicial process or protection under the Geneva Conventions. There too, there have been reports and evidence of mistreatment and torture.

Since there is no internationally recognized definition of terrorism under international law, states have continued to expand the term, ramping up and inflating the security apparatus into a preventive surveillance state, and now anyone and 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), in which even the spread of fear and terror is considered terror. I wonder where all the freedom-trychlers, the original Swiss, SVP-Corona-deniers and conspiracy theorists have been, when our basic rights have been constantly curtailed for two decades and the population has nodded off all the tightening and restrictions. A tragedy and a hypocrisy beyond compare.

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 adopted an anti-terror strategy and tightened the Intelligence Act, with coercive measures now permissible on the basis of suspicions, vague circumstantial evidence and equally opaque algorithms in dragnet searches. And the perfidious thing is that surveillance measures have now been extended to „violent extremism,“ again a very vague legal paraphrase of who, why, or from what point in time is classified as „extreme.“

The Curse of Big Data and Our Willful Negligence with Data Handling.

As the fuel of information capitalism, Big Data establishes the dictatorship of tech giants and information elites because the sellers have the data and key technologies for analysis. All the more tragic is our careless indifference to excessive data collection of any kind. All corona vaccination and conspiracy theorists would have to deal with this as intensively as with the new vaccine. The danger that the triad of information, emotional and behavioral control suma surum leads to a risk technology for our society, freedom and democracy is more than real. The Big Data moguls and data octopuses such as Google, Amazon, Facebook, Twitter and others are beyond the control of the state. Rules for the information economy hardly exist. Equally, there is no social or political optic and strategy for dealing with Big Data and intelligent machines. We simply accept that our basic human rights, such as the right to privacy, are completely undermined and that our data circulate in a completely untraceable manner and are exploited in a non-transparent manner, and we contribute diligently to the gold rush mood and at the same time to tactical obfuscation with our unquestioning blogs and contributions. At the same time, it is becoming increasingly clear that intelligent machines will radically change our everyday lives and society, both in our interpersonal dealings and in influencing or destroying our value and legal systems as well as forms of government and communication.

Those industries that bring Big Data products with total surveillance to market have no compunction and know no limits when it comes to lucrative business. George Orwell sends his regards. His fictions, which were already creepy at the time, have been surpassed by far. Almost silently, information capitalism has crept into our foundations and into our lives. Hypertasking has degenerated into a grotesque hype. Regularly observing how fleeting the users are and how superficial the information is makes me nauseous. More and more data is supposed to improve or optimize our lifestyle, according to the motto: Hedonism, egoism and subjectivism are good. Me, myself and I. What else? This is how indoctrination with fascist ideologies and manifestos works best. The division of society has already taken place to a frighteningly disruptive degree. The attack on the solidarity of the community and the division of society is also well advanced. The alarm bells are ringing, but no one is listening. As with climate change, this problem is also gladly suppressed.

Unfortunately, we are not simply victims but active accomplices. It is up to us how naive we want to remain, how far we want to distance ourselves from reason and lull ourselves into a false sense of security by blithely participating in the whole data octopus circus. Personally, I have therefore already ended all my social media activities in 2013 and also do not use a single app on the smart phone and certainly not „Google“ is activated. On the one hand, this leads to isolation and compartmentalization, but on the other hand, it favors farsightedness and sharpness through a more focused view and insight, as well as serenity and the willingness to engage in dialogue as a result of the not constantly stimulus-flooded echo chamber apocalypse. Of course one accepts some restrictions for the peaceful rest.

In the beat of our pulse we reveal our innermost. And even if we still exercise as much control as possible over what we reveal, we can no longer escape the dictates of exploration. And the quality of the systems, the nature of the data collected about us and the knowledge gained from it remain hidden and cannot be verified by us. Unfortunately, unscientific approaches to the data we collect are also the rule rather than the exception. The primary data that we ourselves disclose is linked to secondary data, i.e. other clues and traces that we have left behind digitally. The sources are monitored by sensors and in this sense, everyone who carries the spy with the smartphone in his pocket is himself a source of data fusion, when phone calls, chats, calendars, internet are siphoned off and evaluated by nnknown powers.

Since we don’t know exactly who collects which data and how and who receives it, and we don’t know what the final result will be, we have no influence on false evaluations and misjudgments. Seen in this light, all freedom-loving Corona vaccination opponents should have parted with their smartphones a good ten years ago. Even more so, as life is more complex and multi-layered than algorythmic logic puzzles, also the collected data can be outdated, from questionable sources, wrong or incomplete and distort the picture. For this purpose, there is a special method called Bayesian statistics, which works with conditional probabilities, but this is neither used by many data miners nor is it the last word in wisdom. In contrast to the previous social development towards more individualization, it is now the intelligent machines that turn us into standardized people and, depending on the case, also misclassify and categorize us with sometimes fatal consequences. Furthermore, it is important to know that data fusion is subject to continuous adaptation because the world is changing rapidly and the amount of data is growing exponentially.

The adaptation can be done in two ways, either the data scientist adapts the algorythms itself or in the case of artificial intelligence, the machine adapts itself to the changed conditions. We should be aware that this adaptation process is as flawed as humans or the human brain. But it is of little use to us, because we and also the states have little or no influence over this branch of business. Learning machines are pure optimizers; this may still be acceptable for commercial transactions, but the situation is completely different when conclusions about the behavioral predictions of individuals are subjected to this rigid scheme. Does the increasing quantification and measurement mean that we are merely mistaken more precisely and sacrifice humanity for it?

Thus „Google“ has not only created the Intrnet from space for infrastructurally weak, remote regions, but also the key military technology for surveillance from space, because the „Google“ drones are „HALE“ drones and fly at an altitude of a good 20 kilometers above the earth. „Google’s“ drones can circle for years over any zone of the world and are impossible to fight with conventional air defense systems, because their fine structure makes them hardly dedectable. Such a „HALE“ drone is the dream of every dictator and many states, but the sovereignty lies with a private company. And this is the case in many areas of Big Data key technologies today. Certain companies today have more power than influential states, and this should also give us pause for thought.

The excesses and fatal consequences of misguided algorithms for the world population can be seen for the first time on a large scale in the banking crisis of 2008. Until then, the financial mathematical models pretended to be able to pulverize loss risks of securities, but this did not happen and the house of cards system collapsed. Then we had the Wirecard scandal a similar construct based on bubbles and fraud on a grandiose scale. Has the financial industry or the world learned anything? No, because the collapse of the financial system due to capital accumulation had suddenly become „too big to fail“ in 2009, which sent a fatal signal to the turbo-capitalists. „Just keep doing what you’re doing, but do it a little better,“ was the message. Yes, hallelujah, so high-frequency trading and the capital system are still ticking time bombs and the greed mentality has torn a deep chasm through society and taken an abysmal leave of a solidary and balanced society.

It used to be said that God sees everything, but that is tempi passati. God has been replaced by a tech triumvirate: the „NSA“ sees everything, „Google“ knows everything and „Apple“ listens in on everything. But if private companies now place themselves above the sovereignty of states and laws and disregard our fundamental rights, what is in store for us? When the constant fulfillment of duty, unconditional obedience, constant optimization and a streamlined, conforming and steriotypical behavior becomes the hubris of existence. Are we blind, deaf or just negligently stupid to just go along with the whole game and abolish ourselves? That is completely schizophrenic! Let’s remember that a state by decree or a foreign power by espionage and sabotage, as well as criminal gangs can get at the data. It is only a matter of time. Not to mention what criminal, extortionist, and disruptive activities emanate from the companies themselves. It is no wonder that the division of society has become extremely aggravated by digitalization, that elections are manipulated with Boots and so many on the social medias fall for the flood of Boots. The more intelligent the machines become, the more stupid and uncritical we become, because we no longer understand anything and can no longer escape the pull or the magic of the digital gods.

In fact, I don’t have an app on my smartphone, I don’t use chats, and I stopped all social media appearances in 2013. However, only a few can afford this way of life and this luxury of freedom.

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

An example of Big Data in military use with deadly consequences: At the end of August 1988, the nine-year war between Iran and Iraq was supposed to end with several hundred thousand deaths. For years, the warring parties had repeatedly attacked civilian oil tankers in the Persian Gulf. After Kuwait’s request for escort to the U.S., American troops moved to deploy tanker escorts. In all, six NATO countries were involved in this operation to keep the Strait of Hormuz clear. The U.S. cruiser „USS Vincennes“, which had a complete air defense system consisting of the most modern radars at the time, extensive air defense armament and its own air reconnaissance center on board, 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 missiles launched from the ground or the detection of enemy aircraft, their armament, course and other details.

Also on the scene was the „US Montgomery“, which was requested by the captain of the „US Vincennes“ to assist in an engagement. Although the „US Montgomery“ did not have the same high level aerial reconnaissance equipment, it was able to exchange tactical information with the „US Vincennes“ through a „Link-II data link“ and was thus able to see the same real-time situational picture of the sister ship’s „Aegis“ system on her „CIC“ and numerous monitors. Meanwhile, the „US Montgomery“ was attacked by an enemy boat on July 3, 1988, a flying object also appeared in the sky that had taken off from Iran. To identify enemy aircraft, manuals of civilian flight plans, „IFF codes“ and other information are included. „IFF“ stands for Identification, Friend or Foe. Automatically, the response, „Squark Mode,“ came back from the aircraft’s transponder. A „Squak Mode“ starting with II indicates a military aircraft, a „Squark“ starting with III indicates a civil aircraft.

What unfolded next is a sequence of chaos, software problems and disinformation that counted among one of the most tragic air traffic disasters before the July 17, 2014.shooting down of a KLM plane by the Russians in Ukraine that hit and killed 298 people. At 10:17, Captain Mohsen Rezaian had started 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 civilian Airbus 320 commercial aircraft. 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 mistakenly classified the aircraft as an „IFF Model II“, i.e. a fighter jet, the situation escalated. Since a fire control beam apparently did not cause the Iranian aircraft to turn away, it was shot down and a number of people lost their lives. What was the cause? The Fogarty Report of the Parliamentary Inquiry sheds light on this. The analysis of the black box of the „US Vincennes“ shows that the „Aegis“ system worked flawlessly. So where did the false reports and misinterpretations lead Captain Rodgers to give the order to fire?

First of all, it should be noted that when a system has to detect and classify several dozens to hundreds of aircraft in real time, it is an extremely complex system. When this system or software begins to make its own decisions and draw consequences from the consequences of the observation, it can be considered intelligent and is far superior to humans, as the following example from aviation history shows
The collision of two airplanes near Überlingen on July 1, 2002, in which the Boeing DHL 611 on its way to Brussels collided with the Russian Tupolev Bashkirian Airlines 2937 on its way to Barcelona in the Lake Constance region, is one of the most serious air traffic accidents in Germany, but it was caused by a Swiss air traffic controller who had to pay for it with his life, as the father of a daughter who was killed took revenge and murdered the air traffic controller. When the safety distance between the two aircraft became dangerously close, both flying objects used the Traffic Alert and Collision Avoidance System „TCAS,“ to process the data from the contact, such as course and speed, and warn their crews. While the system of the Russian pilot, Alexander Gross, instructs to climb, the British pilot, Paul Philipps, is instructed to descend, which he does immediately. Only now does the air traffic controller from Skyguide in Zurich intervene and a man-machine decision conflict and momentous intervention by a human occurs. The air traffic controller also sends the Tupolev on a descent contrary to the instructions of the „TCAS“, whereupon the momentous collision occurs. The black box recordings of the conversation between the copilot and the pilot prove the fact and the wrong decision of the stressed air traffic controller. This shows that whenever a machine makes a decision, the human being is overwhelmed and rather trusts his own instinct.

What does this mean for Big Data in commercial use?

 

In the course of writing my book I deliberately put the chapters online already in the draft stage to observe which stories seem to be interesting, how the search engines spread the keywords and what reactions there are to them. Well it shows the following picture in a nutshell. The grazing of the online information is mainly driven by countries like China, Russia, USA and also Iran and in no time a flood of applications for systematic monitoring of the content pours in as well as a tidal wave of pishing emails and other cyber attacks. It’s not particularly surprising but nevertheless impressive how seamlessly the Internet is being scoured today. In addition, spyware programs such as „PRISM“, „Tempora“ and „Boundless Informant“ come into play, as we have known since Edward Snowden. And that brings us to whistleblowers. Thanks to courageous whistleblowers like Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, or Edward Snoden or investigative journalists and research networks like „Bellingcam“, some 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 provided evidence of the most serious state-sanctioned crimes we torture and mass murder“ says none other than the 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 enabled Assange to be extradited to the 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 and has been in custody ever since. Before that, he spent seven years in asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy to avoid extradition to the U.S. via Sweden. The U.S. extradition request is currently underway.

„The fact that the person who exposed mass murderers and crimes of torture against humanity should now himself be imprisoned 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 UK would disregard human rights in such a way. But when it comes down to the wire, the rule of law doesn’t work anymore, even here in Europe. Julian 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 proceedings in Sweden because of alleged rape and other sexual offenses had been stopped, after Meltzer had written a letter to the Swedish government and had pointed out to them about 50 partly most serious procedural violations.

When asked whether this could also happen in Switzerland, the UN Special Rapporteur’s answer is: „Absolutely.“ He says he regularly has to approach massive discussions with the authorities in this country as well. The „crypto affair“ with the maipulated cipher devices is probably the most recent example that came to light, he said. Here, too, the Federal Council knew nothing about the affair, Parliament remained quiet and did not set up a commission of inquiry, and the judiciary did not take any action either, „which shows that the separation of powers does not always work in Switzerland either,“ says Melzer. Christoph Meili, who in 1997 made public the dormant assets of Holocaust victims and fled to the USA. Or Hervé Falciani, a former computer scientist at „HSBC“ bank in Geneva, who provided French, British and German tax authorities with data on thousands of tax cheats. Switzerland sentenced him to prison in 2015 for „economic espionage“ and demanded his extradition from Spain when Falciani was arrested in Madrid in 2018.

But back to the Assange case, he said the U.S. government’s unprecedented campaign is aimed at stalling Wikileaks‘ methods of allowing whistleblowers to anonymously publish large amounts of secret data. Seventeen of the 18 charges Assange faces in the U.S. involve mundane journalistic activities such as researching and publishing evidence of government abuse of power. „Assange himself never had a duty of secrecy,“ Melzer says. Assange is a journalist or publicist who obtained and published information. „That’s not a criminal offense,“ Melzer concludes. If he were convicted of being a spy for this, all investigative journalists worldwide could face the same in the future. That would be the end of democratic surveillance of state power. But there is hope, because under English law, no one can be extradited for a political offense. Espionage is by definition political. Last but not least, international law prohibits any extradition to a country where there is a threat of torture. This is well known to be the case in the U.S. for espionage charges.

The situation was different with Chelsea Manning, then known as Bradley Manning. He leaked to WikiLeaks a U.S. military video of the July 12, 2007, airstrikes in Baghdad and more than 250,000 diplomatic dispatches. The video shows civilians being shot from U.S. gunships, including Reuters reporters, accompanied by cynical comments from the helicopter crew. On July 30, 2013, he was found guilty on 19 of 21 counts and sentenced on August 21, 2013, to 35 years in prison and a $100,000 fine. Manning was released on May 17, 2017.

In 2013, Edward Snowden – a former technical employee of the US intelligence agencies NSA and CIA, who published the existence of the programs used for total surveillance of global Internet traffic. He, too, had to flee and absconded to Russia.

 

RE-TENSION

Müller’s first reports came from Soweto, where he lived underground with the oppressed black population and reported on the inhumane repression of the Apardheit regime . Müller also experienced the civil war between ANC and IFP and got a picture with an ICRC delegate in the refugee camps and with UN inspectors in prisons like the notorious Pollsmoor Jail in Cape Town. He’s humanitarian, social and environmental projects and visions Gland ieben and 5 0 countries visited.

DEDICATION

The book is my two I R Indian PROTECTION ENGELN DEVOTED TO MY MOTHER Rosemarie Müller AND MY YOUNG AND FRIEND M Ä ZEN DANIEL HAUSER

THANKSGIVING

Daniel Hauser, notary and lawyer

Silvio Imseng, bookworm, philosopher, painter and graphologist

Prof. Dr. Bernhard Kutscher,

Aiala Cella,

CELEBRITY LIST

Switzerland: Nelson Mandela, Dalai Lama, Chinese MP Wen Jibao (WEF Davos) , Federal Councilor Eveline Widmer Schlumpf (RHB 100 years) , Dalai Lama (Kongresshaus Zurich) , Ali Reza, Iranian Embassador in Switzerland in the Iranian Embassy in Bern, Niklaus Meienberg (Historian / journalist / writer), Jimmy Cliff, Bob Marley (AJZ)

South Africa: Nelson Mandela, Mangosutu Buthelezi IFP Chief & Kwa Zulu Natal Minister, Credo Vusama Mutwa (Zulu-Sangoma / writer), Walter Msimang (Satour Director South Africa), South Africa Ambassador in Bern Ms. Dr. Konji Sebati, South African Embassy in Bern, Dr. Jan Player, (Rhino Saver / Wilderness Leadership School), Margrit Thatcher (Former British Prime Minister), Alex Joc hheim (Satour Director Switzerland) , Miss South Africa 1994 ??? and Chris Hani’s daughter ???

Grenada: Prime Minister Breathwater

Cuba: Geraldine Japlin , Pope Karol Józef Wojtyła

India: Prime Minister Narenda Moodi,

Poland: General Jaruselski! Henry Zwirko (Minister of the Civil Aviation Authority) , Pope Karol Józef Wojtyła

Austria: Gorbachev’s Foreign Minister Shevardnadze. (In Lanserhof)

Trinidad: Mighty Sparrow, King of Calypso, Calypso & Steeld. Festival, legends,

Kenya: Dr. James Kisia; Deputy Secretary General of the ICRC Kenya Red Cros s

WEBLINKS:

Nomadic life for reportage photography https://www.allmytraveltips.ch/?p=29593                                         

Online book excerpts at a glance https://www.allmytraveltips.ch/?p=29854                                                       

Print publication overview https://www.allmytraveltips.ch/?p=29322                                                                     

To the GMC picture archive www.allmyphotos.ch                                                                                   

CHAPTER EXTRACTIONS

The youth riots at the beginning of the 80s

https://www.allmytraveltips.ch/?p=29209                           

Uninhibited desire to be liberated from all constraints https://www.allmytraveltips.ch/?p=29211             

Drug trips in Spain, Morocco, Portugal,

https://www.allmytraveltips.ch/?p=29213                                         

Contrasts in Sengegal, Poland and London

https://www.allmytraveltips.ch/?p=29217                                         

South Africa: In the fight against apartheid underground https://www.allmytraveltips.ch/?p=29219             

In the swirl of Swiss political scandals

https://www.allmytraveltips.ch/?p=29909                                                       

Apartheid: The pitch black chapter of Switzerland https://www.allmytraveltips.ch/?p=29391                           

Visit to the Bushmen in the Okavango Delta

https://www.allmytraveltips.ch/?p=29221                           

The Bushmen, whose life will soon be history https://www.allmytraveltips.ch/?p=29604                           

Niklaus Meienberg and the

https://www.allmytraveltips.ch/?p=29223                                                                     

On the aircraft carrier US John Rodgers

https://www.allmytraveltips.ch/?p=29229                                         

Initant of the Calypso & Steeldrum Festival

https://www.allmytraveltips.ch/?p=29225                                         

Grenada: On the aircraft carrier „US John Rodgers“ https://www.allmytraveltips.ch/?p=29229             

Mandela’s visit to Switzerland

https://www.allmytraveltips.ch/?p=29233                                                       

Always socially committed and ecologically intervening https://www.allmytraveltips.ch/?p=29235                           

Social and political engagement in Switzerland

https://www.allmytraveltips.ch/?p=29223                           

Maldives 93: The first signs of climate change https://www.allmytraveltips.ch/?p=29237             

Among the handicapped orangutans in Borneo https://www.allmytraveltips.ch/?p=29239                           

Adventure in Mexico

https://www.allmytraveltips.ch/?p=29241                                                                                   

Hell trip in Colombia in the service of Swissair https://www.allmytraveltips.ch/?p=29820                           

Climate change: Foundation of the Tourism & Environment Forum https://www.allmytraveltips.ch/?p=29243

Australia

https://www.allmytraveltips.ch/?p=29231                                                                                                 

Highlights in Brazil

https://www.allmytraveltips.ch/?p=29227                                                                                   

With the Bedouins in Sinai

https://www.allmytraveltips.ch/?p=29361                                                                     

Lebanon: In Beirut in the Palestinian refugee camp https://www.allmytraveltips.ch/?p=29363             

Visiting the Iranian Embassy in Bern

https://www.allmytraveltips.ch/?p=29679                                         

India: shortly before Moody’s election in Gujart

https://www.allmytraveltips.ch/?p=29677                                         

Namibia: Interteam mission and HIV project Oa Hera https://www.allmytraveltips.ch/?p=29672             

India: shortly before Moodi’s election in Gujarat

https://www.allmytraveltips.ch/?p=29677             

CHAPTER EXTRACTIONS

Online book excerpts in an overview   /  print publication overview

The youth unrest at the beginning of the 80s   /  Uninhibited desire to be free from all constraints

Drug trips in Spain, Morocco, Portugal 

Contrasts in Sengegal, Poland and London

South Africa: In the fight against apartheid underground 

Apartheid: The pitch-black chapter of Switzerland

In the swirl of Swiss political scandals     /    With Niklaus Meienberg at the asylum reception center

Visit to the Bushmen in the Okavango Delta   /  The Bushmen, whose lives will soon be history

Grenada 94: On the aircraft carrier US John Rodgers             

1993: Initant of the Calypso & Steeldrum Festival                            

1994: Mandela’s visit to Switzerland             

Always socially committed and environmentally intervened / Social and political commitment in Switzerland                           

Maldives 93: The First Signs of Climate Change 

Borneo 96: Among the handicapped orangutans in Borneo             

Mexico: Easter processions and Indian uprisings

Colombia: a hell of a trip in the service of Swissair                           

Climate change:  Foundation of the Tourism & Environment Forum                            

Australia and South Seas highlights:                            

Highlights in Brazil

Egypt 2004: With the Bedouins in Sinai

Lebanon 2006: In Beirut in the Palestinian refugee camp

Iran-Switzerland: Visiting the Iranian Embassy in Bern

India: Just before Moody’s election in Gujart

Namibia: Interteam EZA deployment and HIV project Oa Hera

1

3. In the South African underground fighting against apartheid

FOREWORD

The author, Gerd Michael Müller, born in Zürich in 1962, traveled as a photo-journalist to more than 50 nations and lived in seven countries, including in the underground in South Africa during apartheid. In the 80 years he was a political activist at the youth riots in Zürich. Then he was involved in pioneering Wildlife & eco projects in Southern Africa and humanitarian projects elsewhere in the world. As early as 1993, Müller reported on the global climate change and in 1999 he founded the «Tourism & Environment Forum Switzerland». Through his humanitarian missions he got to know Nelson Mandela, the Dalai Lama and other figures of light. His book is an exciting mixture of political thriller, crazy social stories and travel reports – the highlights of his adventurous, wild nomadic life for reportage photography .

(please note that translation corrections are still in progress and images will follow soon)

Zürich-City: Nelson Mandela’s speach as president and nobel prize winner at the Dolder Hotel in front of the swiss economy elite

Politically sensitized by the youth unrest of the early 1980s, 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“ Waffenschmiede, 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. I had made contacts with ANC exiles in London and had also made contacts with the „Anti Apartheid Movement“ (AAB) in Switzerland. And since one of the tour guide colleagues in London had a brother living in South Africa and we were planning an expedition to the Okavango Delta in neighboring Botswana in 1987, I had an ambitious and adventurous program ahead of me.

First, my former supervisor in London and I lived for a few weeks in the posh white man’s quarters in Hillbrow. The first thing to get used to was the black housekeeper who was included in the rent! Then, of course, there were the restrictions on the black population in all areas of public life, that inhuman racial segregation and discrimination, with the corresponding pass laws for the respective ethnicities. There was also an Indian community in Durban and the Malay mixed race in Cape Town, which was quite complicated, especially the resettlement plans, which were also put into action. Thus, according to the Ministry of Home Affairs and the NGO „Black Sash“, over half a million black people were forcibly resettled in the homelands and dispossessed. This gave the white farmers access to their large farms in high-yield regions.

I carefully familiarized myself with the local conditions, visited the „Khotso House“ in Johannesburg where some resistance organizations like the „Black Sash“ but also the „UDF“ union had their offices. The house was spied on around the clock and often searched by the police. Many committed „ANC“ activists were arrested, tortured or imprisoned without charge. One of the most prominent victims of the apartheid regime, along with Nelson Mandela, was Stephen Biko. Biko participated in the founding of the grassroots Black Community Programs (BCP) movement in 1972, which was banned by the government. He was also involved in the establishment of the „Zimele Trust Fund,“ a fund for victims of the apartheid regime. In August 1977, he was arrested by the security police for violating conditions. They interrogated and tortured Biko and dragged him unconscious 1000 kilometers to Pretoria, where he died on September 13, 1977. Biko’s violent killing led to an international outcry. Biko became a symbol of the resistance movement against the apartheid regime.

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 and 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, gobbled 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. Then the curiosity rather grew in them, what I had to look for here and so I could calm them down thanks to my „ANC“ contacts made in London and Zurich, 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 wooden shack surrounded by tens of thousands of other wooden shacks without light, electricity or water. The goal was to experience the living conditions of the blacks and their everyday life within the framework of the racist laws first hand and to explore them 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.

Mandela’s release and his visit to Switzerland

From this first trip I developed a deep connection with the country that I visited more than 20 times and met 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. However, I was not prepared for the fact that he would be blinded by flash light as a result of his lost eyesight due to his long imprisonment, and I had the wrong film speed in the box without flash light. I could have slapped myself for not having another roll of film with me. When Mandela 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 stood in the crowd of blacks as the only white person shortly after his release.

In any case, this prompted him to approach me and ask if we had ever met. I was taken aback. When I replied, „yes in Soweto,“ he amazingly extended both hands to me. That was very touching! The feeling that I had made a difference and that I had received a prominent thank you and unbelievable appreciation. Thereupon everyone in the room stared at me and wondered who the long-haired freak was here. Fortunately, this remained a secret between me, Mandela and the South African ambassador in Bern, Dr. Konji Sebati, with whom I was once a guest at the embassy in Bern for a high-ranking event.

Through this contact, I came to work as a travel journalist and PR consultant at that time, and received a PR mandate for the South African tourist office „SATOUR“. In addition, I received the PR mandate of the South African airline („SAA“) for years. I owed this to the diplomatic balancing act between the underground contacts (of which only a few knew) and the contacts to the white elite, which also took place very discreetly. And also to the sad fact that the Swiss played a central role in South Africa in the gold trade, in the „AKW’s“, in the military support of the apartheid regime with fighter jets and pilot training, and ultimately in both the debt restructuring and the transformation process, and thus also took over the gold trade. To this day, Switzerland has remained the gold trading superpower, handling nearly 80 percent of the precious metals trade.

At this point, let’s look back just under two decades, to August 5, 1962, when Mandela, together with Cecil Williams, was arrested during a car ride near Howick in Natal on the charge that he was leading the banned „ANC“ underground. The arrest came after he had spent nearly a year and a half at liberty and working in the political underground, interspersed with public appearances for the „ANC“ abroad. The start of the trial was set for October 15, 1962. As a result, Mandela was sentenced on November 7, 1962, to five years in prison for inciting public disorder (three years in prison) and traveling abroad without a passport (two years). He undertook his own defense at this trial.

After the verdict was announced, he was taken to Robben Island prison at the end of May 1963, but was soon brought back to Pretoria after the rest of the „ANC“ leadership was arrested on July 11. From October 7, 1963, Mandela stood trial in Pretoria in the „Rivonia“ trial with ten co-defendants for „sabotage and planning armed struggle.“ On April 20, 1964, the last day of the trial before the verdict was handed down, Mandela gave a detailed explanation in his four-hour prepared speech of the need for armed struggle because the government had not responded to appeals or to the nonviolent resistance of the nonwhite population in its quest for equal treatment and had instead enacted increasingly repressive laws.

On February 11, 1990, Mandela was released from prison after 26 years. President Frederik de Klerk had arranged this and days earlier had lifted the ban on the African National Congress (ANC). Mandela and de Klerk received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993 for their services. On the day of his release, Mandela gave a speech from the balcony of the City Hall in Cape Town, and days later he made another appeal to the 120,000 or so listeners at the soccer stadium in Johannesburg. There he presented his policy of reconciliation („Reconciliation“).

South Africa 94: ICRC interventions in the „ANC-IFP“ civil war

After the apartheid regime collapsed due to the UN boycott and South African resistance, a bitter power struggle between the „ANC“ (African National Congress) and Buthelezi`s „IFP“ (Inkhata Freedom Party) ensued. The civil war claimed X-thousand victims and turned tens of thousands into refugees. Another tragedy, because previously the white regime had forcibly relocated hundreds of thousands of black people like cattle in the course of racial segregation.

Now there was again a wave of displaced people in the country and trench warfare among blacks. It was a declared strategy of the outgoing or endangered rulers to sow discord among the blacks by all means, and so the Botha regime put up Buthelzi as a counter-candidate to Mandela. All means of destabilization were used and the seeds were sown. The civil war was terrible.

In post-apartheid South Africa, people were concerned with one thing above all: the ever-growing violent crime rate. Whereas in the past the police had primarily targeted political opponents, the security forces and politicians were now fighting an almost hopeless battle against brutality and criminality. The „taxi/minibus war“ in Durban claimed numerous innocent lives for years. In Cape Town, a gang war raged among 80,000 youths, and Johannesburg was also the scene of numerous crimes.

As a tourist or business traveler, one felt the „atmosphere of fear“ intensely. The police forces operated like paramilitary organizations and had a bad reputation in the respective cities. Unemployment was almost 40 percent, causing widespread poverty and crime to skyrocket, aided by the impotence and corruption of the self-absorbed judicial and police apparatus, which was paralyzed in the wake of radical reconstruction. More than 60 people were killed every day in South Africa, for a total of about 20,000 annually. South Africa’s prisons were bursting at the seams. Criminal investigations remained unresolved for years. Even young people under the age of 14 were often imprisoned for long periods.

At the end of 1993, I accompanied a friend of mine, Daniel S., 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 the 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„, „Ezakhweni“ and „Emphangeni„, „Mfung“ and „Obizo“ as well as „Empendle“ 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 senior member of the „ANC“ as well as Chief of Staff of its be-armed arm „Umkhonto we Sizwe“ (MK).

As the end of apartheid loomed in the early 1990s, he was one of the most popular leadership figures in the „ANC“ after Nelson Mandela. Hani was assassinated in April 1993 by the Polish immigrant Janusz Waluś. Behind it was a plot whose mastermind was former Member of Parliament Clive Derby-Lewis of the Konserwatiewe Party. The goal was to destroy the negotiation process that was supposed to lead to the end of apartheid. A diabolical plan that worked.

The meeting with Basetsane took place in a casino and was obviously being watched. It was, after all, a red-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 another illustrious person tried to contact me even in Gabarone, in Botswana, and to involve me in South Africa’s internal power struggles. I rejected all overtures and thus escaped unscathed from the turmoil of the political power struggles.

In February 1996, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) set up by Mandela and headed by Nobel Peace Prize winner Desmond Tutu. began to come to terms with the crimes committed during the apartheid era. This was used primarily to settle accounts with and dismantle Winnie Mandela, who had suffered much more and had to fight harder than her husband in those years after Madiba’s release. It was the ANC leadership at the time that decided Winnie had to distance herself from Nelson Mandela.

Winnie’s star was always below Nelson’s, but she was the real power woman who was Mandela’s eyes and ears during his imprisonment, and it was she who mobilized the masses. For some groups, the social improvements achieved during Mandela’s time in office, including those related to the AIDS crisis, did not go far enough. Critics also complained that the apartheid regime’s crimes were not sufficiently punished. Children under six and pregnant and nursing mothers received free health care for the first time; in 1996, health care became free for all South Africans. Steps toward land reform were taken with the Land Restitution Act (1994) and Land Reform Act 3 (1996).

During his term, numerous apartheid-era laws were revoked. The army and police were reorganized. As part of my humanitarian work in South Africa, thanks to the Zulu healer 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 Canadian team of 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 for years without charge, quite a few died. The conditions we encountered were shocking. A spoonful of food in the prison kitchen was enough to give me staphylococci and streptococci. It was also pedagogically disconcerting that the only toy in the children’s playroom was a plastic firearm. In this way, a new generation of poverty-driven criminals is bred from childhood on.

I met the Zulu Sangoma, Bantu writer & historian Credo Vusama Mutwa in the „Shamwari Game Reserve“ together with Dr. Jan Player, the rhino rescuer and „Wilderness Leadership School“ founder. All night long this educated man told me the spiritual secrets and ethnic connections as well as cultural characteristics and peculiarities of the Bantu people from North to South Africa. He was also the first to recognize climate change and to explain to me what it means for the peoples and regions when one or another beetle, various insects, the turtles or other species of wild animals and marine mammals become extinct and this leads to droughts and plagues. In prophetic foresight, Credo recognized the conflicts that would arise from this, as well as it always comes to conflicts with dams, because that changes the livelihood of many people in several countries. He also predicted the plagues we have experienced in the last 20 years.

And that was a good 10 years before the first IPPC climate report. Only I was traveling with my daughter and her mother and had appointments and meetings regarding wildlife and eco-projects and could not stay here to help Credo with the „Kaya Lendaba“. I was torn. The Zulu healer wanted to heal the wounds of the Rainbow Nation and build a multicultural village at the Shamwari Game Reserve where all South African ethnic groups would be represented. It was to serve as a beacon for the reunification of South Africa and help end the conflicts.

I would have gladly trained to become a „sangoma,“ or healer, because Credo believed I had the qualifications and the spiritual worldview. This filled me with pride and would probably have been a groundbreaking switch in my life. For originally I wanted to work as a game ranger in one of these emerging wildlife reserves. I couldn’t imagine anything more rewarding than working as a wildlife manager in an intact environment that was protected or worth protecting. So I kept traveling to Botswana, South Africa and Namibia to fulfill a little bit of this dream and it was always a great feeling to be out in the bush and wilderness.

Now let’s move on to the current situation at the Cape of Good Hope, which has by no means become rosier. After the outrages of the apartheid regime came a new black elite, who enriched themselves just as shamelessly as their white predecessors. Two examples:

2011: Gadaffi’s billions in Zuma’s and Ramapho’s hands in hiding

Aziz Pahad was appointed by Mandela as deputy foreign minister in 1994 and worked for the government from 1999 – 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 become 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 directly on the military base Waterkloof, which was deserted on the 2nd day of Christmas. Reportedly, there were a total of 179 such flights from Tripoli, all of which were carried out by military pilots. Flight data was also erased, after each operation. Allegedly, the value of the cargo, which was in ICRC crescent labeled containers with Libyan dialect from Syrte was about 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 apparently a little too vocal about the contents and size of the cargo. In any case, a short time later Darmanovitch was shot dead in the street in Belgrade, where he was meeting his family, and his two killers were also subsequently found only as corpses. So this had been a bit too big for Darmanovitch and his killers.

From then on, Gaddafi’s billions disappeared somewhere in South Africa and few know where they are. In 2012, the first rumors surfaced that considerable assets of the dead dictator were in South Africa. As a result, the transitional Libyan government contacted Eric Goaied, a Tunisian who was a close friend of Gaddafi. He was to search South Africa for the missing assets. Among other things, because the new government needed to build an army and procure over 200 combat helicopters and G5s and 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 repatriation of the Gaddafi assets, this attracted a few treasure seekers who did not want to miss out on this deal.

Goaied, a Tunisian, contacted his friend Johan Erasmus in South Africa, a former agent of the apartheid regime and a flamboyant arms dealer with good contacts to arms companies like „Denel“ in South Africa but also in Libya. Darmanowitch was also involved in the weapons of war deal. And it was he, after all, who revealed to the Libyans that some of their national wealth was here. He also sent Fannie Fondse, then the head of a special unit of the „ANC Secret Service“ and a special mercenary force that operated in Libya in violation of international law to protect Gaddaffi. During the uprising, the mercenaries had to flee headlong. He also knew Darmanovitch and received the photos with the containers from him.

When Taha Buishi, the Libyan envoy contacted the former head of security of the „ANC“ Tito Maleka and accused the ANC of having appropriated the Gadaffi assets, the latter went with his friend Dr. Jackie Mphaphudi, who knew Winni Mandela well and treated Mandela’s daughter Zondwana Gadaffi Mandela to Jacob Zuma to ask about the missing billions. The latter replied that although he was the President of South Africa, „this is the business of the Minister of Finance, Matthew Phosa.“ Then there was another meeting of high-ranking „ANC“ members on the subject of Libya funds, which Jackie Mphaphudi recorded. Finally, Jackie also organized a meeting between Taha Buishi, the Libyan government representative, and South African President Jacob Zuma at the latter’s estate in Khandla regarding the $12.5 billion that Gadaffi shipped to South Africa in 2010.

So Zuma, Esposa, and some other ANC leaders knew about the money, but they told the Libyan envoys that there had to be a formal request from the Libyan government as to the value of the money. And this request would have to be legitimized by a stable government and signed by the acting Libyan Prime Minister, the Minister of Finance and the Governor of the National Bank as well as by the head of the repatriation authorities. With the Libyan mandate and the belief that they are serving the South African government, Tito Maleka’s team not only wants to clean the dirt off the ANC and put a stop to the looting of the state, but to return the money to the Libyan people.

Mohammed Dschibril, Prime Minister Transitional Government of Libya 2011, met with Zuma and wanted to make it clear to him to get Gaddafi to step down. That didn’t work. But in the spring Zuma flew to Libya, then Zuma calls Jibril for meetings with Zuma and Phosa, but then everything got out of control: apparently Gaddafi gave Zuma money to stay in power and Zuma could help him Gaddafi escape Libya. Matthey Phosa, as treasurer, led the operation to get Gadaffi and his assets out of the country. Both teams come to the same conclusion that Phosa was the key figure. He wanted part of the commission. Fannie has the receipt for „the commission payment.“

So Phosa made his claim to some of the money. He also made that clear to Tito’s team, who had meanwhile booted out Taha Buishi in Libya. As if this were not exciting enough, the treasure hunt thriller has been enriched by a dubious chapter. For Gaddafi’s finance minister, Bashir Al Sharkawi, alias Bashir Saleh, a man now wanted by Interpol for years, is still on the loose in Johannesburg, while Gaddafi’s son Said, who has gone into hiding, is preparing to run for president in unknown exile. After ex Gaddafi’s Johannesburg banker was injured in an assassination attempt and his laptop stolen, he fled the country. In 2018, Zuma was forced to resign due to „state corruption on a grand scale“ and Libya sank into civil war. Now for the next chapter of corruption and kleptocracy in South Africa.

Gupta Leaks: South Africa as prey to Indian klepocrats“.

Human rights lawyer Brian Currin was leaked information in 2017 that came from a Gupta clan laptop. This led him to the trail of a huge corruption scandal that reached the features of state capture by private entrepreneurs. The country at the Cape of Good Hope was systematically plundered. The Guptas made billions in deals in the energy and transportation sectors, laundered the money in Dubai, the Arab Emirates and Hong Kong, and when it got to them, they absconded to Dubai with all the stolen money. The two investigative journalists Susan Comrie and Thanduxolo Jika (Sunday Times/Mail & Guardian) also researched how the South African state looting came about. The Guptas first attracted attention when they flew in some 200 wedding guests by charter plane to military airfields, escorted by police vehicles and security.

The Guptas diverted the costs of about two million dollars for the wedding from the dairy industry through „Estina“ and plundered the contributions for the black farmers for it. The money was laundered with the help of „KPMG“ in Dubai and then used to pay the cost of the wedding in millions. Also „McKinsey“ and „SAP“ profited considerably from the shadow elites and corrupt ministers in the service of the Guptas. Pravin Gordhan, South Africa’s Minister of Finance (2009 to 2014) says that South Africa had a gigantic blackout just weeks after Zuma’s enthronement and that it was no accident. Barbara Hogan, then minister of state-owned enterprises was fired by Zuma. She also comes down hard on him, saying, „Zuma promised gigantic investments in the country’s infrastructure, but we didn’t have the money. „He just didn’t get that,“ Hogan says, and went on to say, „He’s not about the country, he’s not about the problems of South Africa, he’s only about his chosen few.“

The mischief started with Malusi Gigaba when he came into government and successively filled all the important posts in state-owned 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 promote kleptocracy.

Also, Cyril Ramaphosas, once a union leader who became a billionaire through the 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, after which 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 would increase the windfall. And Russia wanted to make South Africa dependent on the donor country, and the Zuma clan, with the help of the Guptas, intended to engage in even greater plundering of the state.

Moe Shaik, head of South African intelligence (2009 -2011) was hired by Zuma, but when the Americans were concerned that the money for the nuclear power plants was coming from Iran, the then head of intelligence had to talk to his boss, President, Zuma about it and unceremoniously resigned from his job because of the disagreement. Zuma is like Trump, only his own interests count. Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene, who simply could not conjure up the money for the nuclear deal with Russia, did not fare much better. He was also dismissed and replaced by friends of the Guptas. Desmond van Rooyen was then chosen as the new finance minister, came to the Ministry of Finance with three advisors, but was in office for only four days, then Zuma was forced to remove the trio and replace them with long-time Finance Minister Pravin Gorham because of the protests and huge price drops on the stock market.

From 2016 onwards, there were more and more revelations about the kleptocracy of the Guptas and a courageous ANC member, the then deputy finance minister Mcebesi Jonas, revealed that he had also been offered a ministerial post by the Guptas. Mcebesi was the first to openly voice and criticize the venality of individuals and the tight web of corruption between Zuma, the Guptas and some ANC profiteers. He refused to become a vassal of the Guptas because it would be a stab in the back to South Africa’s hard-fought democracy. The Guptas Leaks confirm the crooked deals with the state-owned corporations „Escom“, „Transnet“ in coal mining and at the arms company „Denel“. In 2015, Brian Molefi is also made the head of „Eskom“ and Arnosch Sinn also joins. The two plunder the company shamelessly and make the Zuma clan and the Guptas much richer.

Mandela would turn in his grave and foam with rage if he saw how quickly the black elite has enriched itself and exploited the country at the Cape of Good Hope. Therefore, we are now leaving South Africa for a trip to the neighboring country of Botswana, which is one of the richest African countries thanks to its diamond mines and, moreover, because of its wealth, has also been able to protect its wildlife better than the surrounding countries. The Central Kalahari and the Okavango Delta, the world’s largest inland delta are also the habitat of the Bushmen and women.

1986-2006: Roaming the Kalahari with the Khoi-San

Botswana can claim to possess all the facets of a sparkling diamond. The grandiose wealth of species in the Okavango Delta of fauna and flora, the multifaceted wilderness that constantly changes 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, the river heads for the 800,000 square kilometer Kalahari after 1600 kilometers of wandering – and fans out in 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. 95 percent of all Botswana’s water reserves come from the Okavango Delta, through which more than 18.5 billion liters of water flow in normal years. Almost 80 percent of this water seeps 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 1986, after my first stay in South Africa with three Swiss guides from London, I set out on an expedition to the Okavango Delta in the neighboring country of Botswana. From Johannesburg we drove with two Landrovers first to Pretoria, then further north until we reached the border river Limpopo, where the first real challenge came. The crossing of the 40 meter wide river could only be done with two vehicles and winches. This means that the winch of the front vehicle is brought across the river by floating or by boat and is attached to a tree there. The second winch is attached to the back of the first vehicle and then it’s off into the water, which just sloshes over the hood. Pulling the front winch and stabilizing it with the rear one with the Landrover standing on the bank requires good cooperation from both vehicle drivers.

The crossing of the Limpopo with the second vehicle takes place then only with the rope winch of the vehicle driven before by the river and runs somewhat more turbulently but nevertheless most smoothly, since one already put a track. Then it went through the Madikgadikdadi Salt Panels, a barren, salt encrusted, pot level salt pan to Maun and from there over Kasane further to the 3rd Bridge, then to the Savuti Channel in the Moremi Game Reserve and finally we arrived at the Victoria Falls. It sounds easy now, but it was a hell of a trip with many lessons on survival in the African wilderness. Luckily, Johann, an experienced and reliable South African safari guide, was there to introduce us to the dangers of the bush experience. It was scary to sleep in a small tent and have a couple of elephants standing in front of or above you, with branches pelting down as they munched on the canopies above us with their trunks.

At first we did not want to sleep in, on or under the Land Rovers and so we surrounded our tent with the Camping Fortunately, our guide had a good ear and sixth sense turned on and warned us one night with the words. „The lions are here, get here quick and climb up on the roof.“ So we hopped nimbly like gazelles with giant leaps to the vehicles and once there, lithely up. And lo and behold, the loud roar of the lions was heard and a considerable pride was immediately surrounding our vehicles. There it would have become most uncomfortable in the tent, because the predators have finally a giant hunger and must feed their babies. Another night I woke up and had to rinse out all the beer we drank every night. So, with the flashlight out of the tent slit, I scanned the area for reflective eyes that would flash in the flashlight’s glow. Still somewhat dazed by the alcohol and the nightly heat over 40 degrees I saw nothing of the kind and wanted already out, there the hippopotamus, which stood directly no two meters before the tent entrance and grazed, ran a few steps further and now I saw significantly more of the nocturnal environment, remained however due to the animal neighbor precaution noiselessly in the tent, because hippopotamuses are the cause of death number 1 in Botswana.

When we finally arrived at the 3rd Bridge, half thirsty after a week of dust-dry tour at over 40 degrees (at night), there was no stopping us when we finally saw the delicious rinsal. Everyone rushed into the hippo and crocodile pool like high-spirited children, happily splashing around as if there were no dangers. We were quite „lucky“ at that time, because this place is teeming with crocodiles, hippos and other wild animals. Later, at the feudal wildlife lodges, a motorboat circled around the swimmers to make sure that no crocodile or hippo was near the bathing guests and developed feeding desires. Another time, while roaming the bush, I had to put an approaching lion to flight by throwing stones, kicking up dust, hissing angrily, and cursing goddamn. What exactly tipped the scales for its majestic retreat, I never learned. In any case, my pulse remained at record levels for a long time. But a stone fell from my fluttering heart.

Then we came across Willy Zingg, a former Swiss military pilot who got stuck here in Botswana and grew into a legend. Not only his fearless alligator prey but also his daredevil flying acrobatics were known far and wide. He was a swashbuckler like in the picture book. We met him at that time under most dramatic circumstances. We were driving towards one of the rarely encountered safari parties in the deserted Okavango Delta and saw, to our horror, that a mighty elephant had taken the one Landrover by the scruff of the neck and was shaking it vigorously with its trunk. Later we learned from Willy that the elephant had been after the oranges.

Next we saw a man sprinting to the other vehicle, who then took off with it without further ado and drove into the elephant’s rear end from behind. This worked in the best way! The elephant turned left with a loud trumpet howl, but in doing so accidentally trampled over a tent in which a woman was lying and whom he then severely injured on the hip during his escape. Yes, such or similarly hot situations there were some on this trip. But we were all spared, thank God. The madness! Another adventurous situation arose when the Swiss safari pioneer had completed his landing strip at the Tsodillo Hills, the sacred mountains of the Khoi-San, the indigenous people of the Kalahari also known as the Bushmen, and wanted to make a sightseeing flight with the San chief.

Since the landing gear would not fold out on landing, the experienced fighter pilot had to do a daredevil loop and roll the plane over in order to deploy the jammed landing gear again thanks to centrifugal force. He succeeded, and the first Bushman to take off into the sky was a bit „gimpy“ and slightly traumatized afterwards, but still brightly enthusiastic. This must have been for the San about the same as if we would suddenly take off with a moon rocket.

At that time, there were about 16,000 Bushmen living in the central Kalahari, and their number is estimated at about 100,000 in the whole of southern Africa. They are masterful 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,“ is how the young Khoi-San Suruka explains to me the worldview of the 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 more than 30,000 years old, which probably brings us to the cradle of human civilization. And then there are So in the northwest of the Kalahari lies the great treasure of the Khoi-San, the „Louvre of the Bushmen culture“, so to speak.

To illustrate their closeness to nature, the smallish, tough people with the short, pitch-black curls and peach-colored skin tones tell us about hunting. 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. So it is with all other things as well, the Bushmen and their wives take only what they need just 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 us, drove us out 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. In addition, we Bushmen know no private property, neither fences nor borders. Our rhythm of life is coordinated with the migration of the animals and the tides, and we live according to the principle that nature belongs to all people and that 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.

Today, a road leads from Shakawe to Tsodillo, which Sir Laurence van der Post described in his bestseller „The Lost World of the Kalahari“. Around the steeply rising pyramid hill „Male“ over 6000 years old rock paintings of the Bushmen can be seen. Since June 2002 this cultural site is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The side hills are called „Female“, „Child“ and „Grandschild“ by the San. I had a truly mystical experience while climbing up to the ancient petroglyphs in the jagged rocks. Suruka tried to tell me something in his clicking language, something like that we will come across guards, but I should not be afraid of them. The guards were probably the two rattlesnakes that slithered across before our eyes from one ledge to the other, and from two sides at the same time. If I had been alone, I probably would not have gone on. With Suruka I felt safe and was allowed to marvel at the magical, ancient rock paintings with him. 12 years later I saw a film on the British TV station „BBC“ in which Suruka appeared again and led the film crew to the Tsodillo Hills, just like me at that time.

The Okavango Delta is a uniquely dazzling and almost unearthly natural paradise and an animal kingdom, as long as man remains outside. The government in Botswana, one of the richest African countries, has succeeded well in this thanks to its abundant diamond deposits. It recognized and promoted the benefits of sustainable safari tourism early on and has placed many large areas under protection. I have traveled to the Okavango Delta several times during the 1990s, but then in a more luxurious way with visits to the most expensive luxury lodges of „Wilderness Safari“.

On the game drive with the M’koros, the dugout canoe in which the Tswanas can also transport two adult cattle, we poke through the dense reeds past the hippos, water buffalo and crocodiles to Jao Camp. It’s like gliding on a lily pad over the mirror-smooth surface of the water through the dense reeds, as the edge of the M’koros‘ boat rises only a few inches out of the water. A queasy feeling. If a hippo opens its huge mouth, you could drive the M’koros like into a tunnel. But we were spared this fate thanks to the caution of the attentive and knowledgeable staker. When the author was in the Okavango Delta for the first time before 1986, it was completely dry and had only a few water holes.

With the traditional means of transportation, the M’koros, one did not get very far. On the second visit it was just the other way around. For 46 years, the delta in the African depression had not been flooded so much. Getting around with 4×4 vehicles was impossible in many parts of the Okavango Delta around Moremi and Chief Island. What had happened? Jao Game Ranger Cedric Samotanzi knows the answer: „After tectonic shifts, for the first time the water also came back through the underground network into the Lynanti and Savuti Channel“, so Cederic explained and the phenomenon desert under water.

When the author was in the Okavango Delta for the first time before 1986, it was completely dry and had only a few water holes. With the traditional means of transportation the M’koros (dugout canoes) one did not get very far. On the second visit it was just the other way around. For 46 years, the delta in the African depression had not been flooded so much. Getting around with 4×4 vehicles was impossible in many parts of the Okavango Delta near Moremi and around Chief Island. What had happened? Jao Game Ranger Cedric Samotanzi knows the answer: „After tectonic shifts, for the first time the water also came back through the underground network into the Lynanti and Savuti Channel“, so Cederic explained and the phenomenon desert under water.

Botswana, with its natural environment and unspoiled nature and thanks to the numerous protected reserves, offers the highest concentration of wildlife in southern Africa and therefore spectacular wildlife viewing. Botswana’s greatest treasure is its vast diamond deposits, which make it one of the richest African countries. „Already since 1990, the protection of fauna and flora and the development of ecologically oriented sustainable tourism has enjoyed the highest priority in Botswana, said the then director of the Ministry of Tourism in Botswana Tlhabolongo Ndzinge. Nearly two-fifths of the country is protected natural areas, which are among the largest ecological resources in the world. Botswana is a signatory to the World Trade Organization’s Global Codes of Ethics for Tourism, which set the framework for responsible and sustainable development in the early 21st century. The progressive development of eco- and ethno-tourism is of particular importance for the sustainable development of rural areas.

More than one third of the 90 programs running in Botswana are „community based development projects“. But the problem of illegal poaching is now being exacerbated by a new epidemic affecting elephants as a result of climate change. In 2020 alone, 330 dead animals had been counted in Botswana in the Okavango Delta at the Moremi Game Reserve, and the mysterious mass deaths continued in 2021. At that time, authorities had identified cyanobacteria, or blue-green algae, as a possible cause of death. The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) concludes that the mass die-offs have to do with limited access to fresh water and that their habitats are becoming increasingly constricted by livestock farming, among other factors. In addition, the increase in cyanobacteria is due to climate change.

The unspeakable poaching could probably only be stopped if China were to stop imports and drastically control and also consistently enforce import restrictions. So why shouldn’t the international community and the countries of Africa hold the main perpetrator of the slaughter responsible and put massive pressure on China to get the Chinese government to take rigorous action against the elephant leg trade in their own country. China alone, with all its surveillance and education efforts, would be able to make a significant contribution to solving the problem.

Africa’s pioneering wildlife and ecology projects

During more than ten trips to Southern Africa between 1986 and the millennium, I discovered the „Shamwari Game Reserve“ near Port Elisabeth at the Addo Elephant Park in 1993. At that time it was developing into one of the pioneering and in the southern hemisphere unique animal protection and wildlife reintroduction projects. For this purpose, former farmland was renaturalized and converted into bush, after which the „Big Five“ were gradually resettled there. In the early 1990s, Adrian Gardiner, the owner, bought the first five black rhinos from the Natal Parks Board for half a million euros and reintroduced them to the Garden Route near Addo Elephant Park and Port Elisabeth.

During my first visit, the farmland had just been renaturalized and I remember the self-built fire pots and fireplace chimneys with which every single tree stump was smoked out. After a short time, the then 1200 ha farm has become a wildlife sanctuary of over 20’000 ha with a wildlife population of over 10’000 wild animals. This happened in the period from 1993 to 1997. Besides the Long Lee Manor House, the Shamwari Game Reserve has created five other exclusive lodges, which included Eagles Crag and Bushmen River Lodge as well as Lobengula Spa Lodge. In November 2005 Adrian Gardiner received for the sixth time the international award at the „Word Travel Market“ in London (WTM) as „world’s best private game reserve with the highest ecological standards“. In addition, the „Shamwari Game Reserve“ was also classified as the „second most important project in the southern hemisphere“ and received the „British Airways for tomorrow Award“.

Not only this, but also other pioneering eco- and wildlife projects in South Africa and Botswana I accompanied or represented for almost a decade and reported again and again about the progress and obstacles, because I was in South Africa every year and always visited the South African tourism trade fair „INDABA“ in Durban. At the „Londolozi Game“ Reserve of the Varty Brothers, who shot spectacular animal films, I was there from the very beginning and had the right nose, as I did at various places all over the world. Also in Australia with the „Daintree Forest Lodge“ and in Botswana with the „Wilderness Leadership School“ I proved to have a fine sense and was among the absolute top performers of the time. Then there were the „Mara Mara“, „Sabi Sabi“ and „Phinda Game Reserve“ and finally „The Pezula“ in Knysna, where the Swiss tennis ace Roger Federer has his villa. In the noble „Mount Nelson Hotel“ in Cape Town, Margret Thatcher suddenly sat next to me in the hairdressing salon, which made it very easy to talk to the former British Prime Minister. Only the old lady of British politics made a demented impression.

Due to my many contacts in South Africa, I received from the South African Tourist Office (SATOUR) via the embassy contact the assignment to represent South Africa in Switzerland with PR campaigns, whereby I, as a result of my aviation knowledge, also came close to the „South African Airways“ mandate and, as a result of my many visits to South Africa, wrote two travel guides about South Africa. Whether it was about „Ecotourism – and its social significance“ (Bund), the stirring report and successful fundraising campaign for the endangered „Orang Utan in the rainforest of Borneo“ („Brückenbauer“), the „Saving of the whales“ (in the „SonntagsZeitung“) or the „Climate disaster in the Alps“ („Südostschweiz“), I always had my distinctive nose in the (counter)wind and was often far ahead of my time.

This was also the case with the „Swissair scandal“, whose demise I anticipated as early as 1997 in „Der Bund“ with the report „Will Swissair survive?“ and in two other newspapers. Climate change, which today almost 30 years later is still a hot topic and the biggest problem on planet earth, concerned me very early on and I drew conclusions from this and from 1999 onwards largely renounced air travel and for the last 10 years completely. For destinations in Europe I never used an airplane, there the train was announced. Of course, one can rightly accuse me, as a travel journalist, of boosting global air travel with my travel reports, which I cannot deny. But I have always taken the trouble to promote ecologically sustainable projects and environmentally sound travel. and I have always taken a lot of time in one place, usually spending 20-30 days in one country. Finally, I have accepted the radical consequences of not flying, even though it has made my work more tedious and difficult.

Due to my many contacts in South Africa, I received from the South African Tourist Office (SATOUR) via the embassy contact the assignment to represent South Africa in Switzerland with PR campaigns, whereby I, as a result of my aviation knowledge, also came close to the „South African Airways“ mandate and, as a result of my many visits to South Africa, wrote two travel guides about South Africa. Whether it was about „Ecotourism – and its social significance“ (Bund), the stirring report and successful fundraising campaign for the endangered „Orang Utan in the rainforest of Borneo“ („Brückenbauer“), the „Saving of the whales“ (in the „SonntagsZeitung“) or the „Climate disaster in the Alps“ („Südostschweiz“), I always had my distinctive nose in the (counter)wind and was often far ahead of my time.

This was also the case with the „Swissair scandal“, whose demise I anticipated as early as 1997 in „Der Bund“ with the report „Will Swissair survive?“ and in two other newspapers. Climate change, which today almost 30 years later is still a hot topic and the biggest problem on planet earth, concerned me very early on and I drew conclusions from this and from 1999 onwards largely renounced air travel and for the last 10 years completely. For destinations in Europe I never used an airplane, there the train was announced. Of course, one can rightly accuse me, as a travel journalist, of boosting global air travel with my travel reports, which I cannot deny. But I have always taken the trouble to promote ecologically sustainable projects and environmentally sound travel. and I have always taken a lot of time in one place, usually spending 20-30 days in one country. Finally, I have accepted the radical consequences of not flying, even though it has made my work more tedious and difficult.

The press and photo agency business was going like clockwork. Cooperations with leading picture agencies like „Action Press“ and „dpa“ in Germany and „Ringer“, „Keystone“ in Switzerland and the more and more numerous publications as well as the picture archive, which had grown to a good 30,000 slides from almost 50 countries, were a solid basis for my job. In addition, I had set up the cooperation with „Singapore Airlines“ and with „Malaysia Airlines“. An exciting PR mandate, in which I conceived the PR campaigns for „Malaysia Airlines“, planned the ad placements and made many exciting trips and then published the reports. The cooperation with „Singapore Airlines“ lasted almost 15 years. So I came several times to Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, the Maldives and several times to Australia, where I visited almost all states except the Northern Territories and covered thousands of kilometers alone in an off-roader. But back to Africa, one of the most fascinating continents.

Kenya: ICRC mission in the Rift Valley after the ethnic unrest

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 square kilometer conservation area in central 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 antelopes, gerenuks, grant gazelles, two dikdik and grevyzebras. 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. However, elephant populations are declining. Their number in the Samburu, Buffalo Springs and Shaba National Reserves was still over 2500 animals in 1973, but by 1976/1977 it had already declined to 531. Now there are even fewer. It was a nice, relaxing trip and then we went on to Mombasa to see the tourist enclave on the shores of the Indian Ocean.

Not far from Mombasa is Haller Park, a wildlife reserve renaturalized by a Swiss. It was extremely impressive! From chimpanzees, macaques, to crocodiles and giant tortoises, there was a great variety of animals. School children came in droves. For them, it was not only their trip to the zoo but also a lesson on wildlife conservation and the importance of their ecosystems, meaning their environment and the behavior of local people that can help preserve wildlife. Exemplary! René Haller grew up in Lenzburg in the canton of Aargau. He learned the profession of a gardener, specialized in landscape design, attended the agronomy course of the „Swiss Tropical Institute“ of the University of Basel before he went to East Africa in 1956. His best known project is the ecological restoration of the mining area of the „Bamburi Cement“. He renaturalized a part of the then devastated large fossil coral lime mining area. Haller is the author of many well-known technical articles and speaker on the topics of ecology/economy and revitalization of devastated industrial agro-lands as well as founder of the „Haller Foundation“, worked as chairman of the „Baobab Trust“ and was a long-time advisory member of the „Kenya Wildlife Service“.

The journey continued to the „Ol Pejeta Rhino & Chimpanzee Sanctuary“ near Mount Kenya. As the name suggests, rhinos are protected from poachers and a large chimpanzee colony is cared for. For the first time I touched the carapace skin of a rhinoceros there, as I stood reverently next to the Landrover and one of these colossi, hoping that the two-ton muscular package regarded me as a harmless sparrow and did not swat me like a fly. Fortunately, nothing actually happened. The rhino would not be disturbed while grazing. After my wildlife adventure lust was quenched, it was back to the humanitarian mission. Back in Nairobi, I went to the „ICRC“ African headquarters and did an interview with Deputy Secretary General James Kisia about the situation of refugees in the Rift Valley after the bloody riots and ethnic displacement, since Kofi Annan was absent. Political unrest in Kenya began on December 30, 2007, the day the official results for the presidential election were released.

Opposition leader Odinga was still in a narrow lead in election forecasts and preliminary results. After incumbent President Mwai Kibaki was declared the winner of the election, protests arose from the opposition party ODM. 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 members of the Kikuyu, were forced to flee the violence. Finally, I flew to Eldoret and went to the local „ICRC Red Cross Committee“. With the staff there, I spent three days driving around the refugee camps and looking at 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. Hundreds died 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 100000 people were staying in refugee camps. At the end of the trip I interviewed Tourism Minister, Najib Balala, whom I also approached about the conflicts and who was surprised about the political flank and questioning about the unrest, but reacted very confidently. From Nairobi, the next mission was back to the Bush. Via Johannesburg, Gabarone and Maun I flew once again to the Okavango Delta to the renowned „Wilderness Wildlife Fund“ Bush lodges and visited the HIV foundation „Children in the Wilderness“.

Namibia: EZA, HIV schools and in the realm of the cheetahs

Due to the many travels and conflict experiences in numerous countries, I finally wanted to get into development cooperation („EZA“) and fly to Namibia via „Interteam“ (a Swiss aid organization) to work locally for three years in the field of tourism and development cooperation, starting in 2011. 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 to let the indigenous tribes participate in the development. Unfortunately, shortly before the mission, a few foreign aid organizations cut their budget for „NACOBTA“ and so the „EZA“ mission in Namibia was cancelled. Nevertheless, the „Interteam NACOBTA“ assessment made me curious about the Southwest African country with a German colonial past and I decided to travel there.

First, I arranged to meet with the local „Interteam“ representative to see the work on the ground and the challenges of the job. The first thing I was to learn is that helping is not for adventurers, as it was in the 70’s and 80’s when droves of people set out all over the world to show solidarity with local populations or liberation movements. „Know-it-alls and do-gooders“ are out of place in this work. Today’s volunteer work has become very professionalized, said Martin Schreiber, the then managing director of „Unite,“ the umbrella organization of development policy organizations in Switzerland. Today, almost 80 percent of those working in the field have a university degree, and there are also special environmental experts, telecommunications specialists, management coaches, nutritionists and social specialists.

During the one-year assessment, the candidate not only has to reflect on his or her will to persevere and reasons for motivation, but is also confronted with completely different values and religions. At the same time, there would be many hurdles to overcome, such as unreliability of people, the pitfalls of technology and lack of infrastructure, as well as in communication and socio-cultural differences. Finally, each person who is deployed is part of a whole that is constantly adapting to the needs and is in consultative exchange with local partners as to which strategies are being developed. The success of the individual is the success of all.

After this introduction, I met with representatives of „NACOBTA“ in Windhoek and decided to visit a hospital in Rehoboth, which was financed by Swiss people, before I drove across the huge, deserted country and visited the protected wildlife reserves. I also covered a good 5000 kilometers by car in Namibia but relatively little off-road, from the Caprivi Strip in the north, which extends to the four-country corner of Botswana, South Africa, Zimbabwe at Victoria Falls, and down to Fishriver Canyon, the second deepest in the world in the south of the country. First of all, there was Etosha National Park, which was placed under protection as early as 1907, after the formerly rich game population had been reduced to the brink of extinction by poaching and unthinking big game hunting, thus seriously endangering the meat supply of the population.

Today, Etosha National Park impresses with its fantastic animal wealth, which even surpasses the Okavango Delta, as far as giraffes, antelopes and zebras are meant. But not only the wild animals, also the locally resident Herero and Ovambo were mercilessly exterminated after the 1904 uprising, which was fueled by existential fears. Even women and children were not spared by Lieutenant General Lothar von Trotha, who acted on behalf of Chief of General Staff Alfred Graf von Schlieffen and also had the support of Kaiser Wilhelm I. This was one of the first genocide.

Unique cheetah conservation project in Ojjowaringo

The „Cheetah Foundation“ (CFF) in Ojjowaringo is one of the impressive wildlife projects with unique experiences. 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 research on Namibian cheetah populations over a 30-year period. Population monitoring within the 50,000 hectare game reserve is made possible by combining it with genetic analysis via microsatellite markers. This allows CCF researchers and game rangers to identify individual cheetahs based on both visual and genetic characteristics.

A key challenge in rural Namibia is building capacity to manage human-wildlife conflict. „CCF“ has identified several landscapes in central-northern and central-eastern Namibia that require 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 areas of communal land in eastern Namibia’s Kalahari ecosystem. In Namibia, 80 percent of wildlife lives outside of protected areas, but in some areas such as the eastern communal lands, the absence of wildlife threatens species such as wild dogs, cheetahs, and leopards that prey on livestock.

One of the biggest challenges in these rural areas is managing human-carnivore conflict. Cheetahs and other predators, including leopards, African wild dogs, brown hyenas, and jackals, live in large territories on livestock areas.To reverse the situation, a research-based solution that involves the community is needed. To this end, B2Gold, a Canadian gold mining company with a presence in Namibia, has provided $50,000 to support conservation research and outreach programs for communities living with carnivores. With support from B2Gold, „CCF“ has developed a comprehensive research project to assess key strategies and approaches to reduce human-carnivore conflict. The research will inform conservation efforts aimed at improving rangeland, livestock, and wildlife management, reducing livestock loss on open cropland, and restoring habitat.

The „CCF“ hosts a world-class research facility unique in Africa. The „Life Technologies Conservation Genetics Laboratory“ is the only fully equipped on-site genetics laboratory in a conservation facility in Africa. From this facility, „CCF“ collaborates with scientists around the world. The research benefits not only the cheetah and its ecosystem, but also other big cats and predators. Trained dogs to recognize the droppings also help. The poop dogs use various signals to their handler to indicate what type of animal feces is present. Once the sample is collected, it is taken to the lab. DNA is extracted to identify individual cheetahs and understand population structures of cheetahs and other carnivores.

At a later date, in the very south of Namibia, at the Fish River Canyon and the Giants Playground, we drove around with a farmer on his huge farm and there we met two magnificent cheetahs in the wild, which we approached on foot to sniff each other, because they crept slowly and smoothly towards us on their velvet posts and had obviously become accustomed to humans and knew no shyness. Nevertheless, they did not behave like tame house cats. As I soon surprisingly lay on the ground under the snout of the animal and took close-up pictures from there, the very close contact with the dangerous cuddly cats ended in the end against expectation for me with feelings of happiness instead of deadly bites. But the tingling feeling of lying under a wild cat as its prey, so to speak, only holding the camera protectively in front of my face, was already an adrenaline rush of the first order that I will never forget.

After this wonderful experience in the realm of wildlife, I would like to add a dark chapter of colonial history.

Genocide, Slavery, Land Theft, Rape, Humiliation

In 1884, Africa is partitioned among the European powers and colonial masters at the Congo Conference in Berlin. Germany rises to colonial power, whereupon German Southwest Africa, now Namibia, was officially 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 with the help 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 clear their land. Vital grazing land thus increasingly passed into the hands of the settlers. This threatened the livelihood of the semi-nomadic Herero pastoralists.

Slavery, land theft, public execution, forced labor, rape and humiliation became the doctrine and agenda for the oppressed population. With Samuel Maharero, the uprising against the white occupiers began in 1904. The Na’ama chief, Capitain 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 unitedly resisted their oppressors.

On January 12, 1904, the first shots were fired against the occupiers. The insurgents besieged military stations, blocked rail lines and raided trading posts. In the first months of the war, the Herero dominated the fighting.  The representatives of the German Empire were surprised by the uprising. The governor of German Southwest Africa, Theodor Leutwein, was ordered to put down the rebellion militarily. In May 1904, the command was transferred to Lieutenant General Lothar von Trotha. Von Trotha purposefully conducted the clashes as a war of extermination.

The 2,000-strong imperial Schutztruppen were reinforced by 14,000 soldiers, who proceeded with brutal harshness against the insurgents. He wrote: „I want my troops to go out there and wipe the whole community off the face of the earth. Clean it up, hang it up, gun it down! I destroy the insurgent tribes with streams of blood and money. Inside the German border, every Herero will be shot, with or without a rifle, with or without cattle. I will take no more women and children, drive them back to your people or have them shot.“ Then Von Trotha issued the extermination order and the genocide took its course.

In August 1904, the German army had surrounded the Herero people on the Waterberg plateau. The cornered Herero were forced to flee to the Omaheke Desert, which the Germans sealed off with a 250-kilometer cordon.  During the Battle of Waterberg, about 85,000 people starved and died of thirst in agony because the Germans had poisoned and surrounded the water holes. In total over 100’000 people were murdered by the German occupiers, the survivors enslaved, tortured and interned, Shark-Island is only one of many concentration camps in the country.

In Swakopmund on the Atlantic coast, right in front of the town hall stands the stone of contention: the war memorial of the German navy, which honors the German soldiers who killed over 100,000 people here. This annoys the city deputy Uahimisa Kaapehi massively. „The monument should be torn down, thrown in the garbage or shipped to Germany“.  Even more shocking is that to this day Germany has not officially apologized to the Namibian peoples for the first genocide in history. Nor has any land been returned that was stolen from the natives at the time. Even today, the owners of large farms and the towns are owned by the Germans, while for the Hereros and Na’ama’s only unemployment and hopelessness remained.

The genocide of the Hereros and Namas and the concentration camps and methods of extermination were the model for Nazi fascism and for apartheid in South Africa. Discrimination and oppression against both populations continued until World War I. German colonial rule over Southwest Africa did not end until 1915, when the imperial Schutztruppen surrendered to South African troops of the British Empire. Namibia was the last African country to become independent in 1990 after a nearly 25-year struggle for freedom by SWAPO against the mandate power of South Africa. Vekuii Rukuro, the head of the Herero, says: „This is how three generations have been ruined for over 100 years. Driven from their land, from their grazing grounds, driven into poverty from the graves of their ancestors. And the suffering has no end!

In the south of the country in Maltahöhe, HIV mortality was particularly high, and there were almost 40 percent orphans at that time who lost either one or even both parents in the 1980s and early 1990s. And so there is also an HIV orphan school in Maltahöhe, where poverty and unemployment are particularly high. It was moving to listen to the „Oa Hera“ children’s choir, which is supported by the backpacker camp. The bright, poignant angelic voices of the orphans impressed me as much as the wealth of imagination and creativity in the school with design tools or children’s toys. And when one considers the dangers the school children face on their considerably long marches in this inhospitable region, the composure and cheerfulness of the children in the face of their difficult fate is astonishing.

Schweiz-Südafrika Politik und Mandelas Besuch in Zürich

Auszug aus dem Buch des Zürcher Fotojournalisten Gerd Michael Müller

VORWORT

Das Buch des Zürcher Foto-Journalisten Gerd Michael Müller nimmt Sie ab den wilden 80er Jahren mit auf eine spannende Zeitreise durch 30 Länder und 40 Jahre Zeitgeschichte mit Fokus auf mehrere politische und ökologische Vorgänge in Krisenregionen rund um den Globus. Er beleuchtet das Schicksal indigener Völker, zeigt die Zerstörung ihres Lebensraumes auf, rückt ökologische Aspekte und menschenliche Schicksale in den Vordergrund, analysiert scharfsichtig und gut informiert die politischen Transforma-tionsprozesse. Müller prangert den masslosen Konsum und die gnadenlose Ausbeutung der Ressourcen an, zeigt die Auswirkungen wirtschaftlicher, gesellschaftlicher und politischer Prozesse auf und skizziert Ansätze zur Bewältigung des Klimawandels. Pointiert hintergründig, spannend und erhellend. Eine Mischung aus globalem Polit-Thrillern, gehobener Reiseliteratur, gespickt mit sozialkritischen und abenteuerlichen Geschichten sowie persönlicher Essays – den Highlights und der Essenz seines abenteuerlich wilden Nomaden-Lebens für die Reportage-Fotografie. Nach der Lektüre dieses Buchs zählen Sie zu den kulturell, ökologisch sowie politisch versierten Globetrotter.

Blenden wir kurz zurück, zum 5. August 1962 als Mandela zusammen mit Cecil Williams während einer Autofahrt nahe Howick in Natal unter dem Vorwurf festgenommen wurde, er führe den verbotenen «ANC» im Untergrund an. Die Verhaftung erfolgte, nachdem er knapp eineinhalb Jahre in Freiheit und im politischen Untergrund gearbeitet hatte, unterbrochen von öffentlichen Auftritten für den ANC im Ausland. Der Prozessauftakt wurde auf den 15. Oktober 1962 festgesetzt. Die Folge war Mandelas Verurteilung am 7. November 1962 zu fünf Jahren Gefängnis wegen Aufruf zur öffentlichen Unruhe (drei Jahre Haft) und Auslandsreisen ohne Reisepass (zwei Jahre). Er übernahm in dieser Gerichtsverhandlung seine Verteidigung selbst. Nach Verkündigung des Urteils wurde er Ende Mai 1963 auf die Gefängnisinsel Robben Island geschafft, aber schon bald wieder nach Pretoria geholt, nachdem am 11. Juli die übrige «ANC» Führungsspitze festgenommen worden war.

Ab dem 7. Oktober 1963 stand Mandela in Pretoria im «Rivonia»-Prozess mit zehn Mitangeklagten wegen «Sabotage und Planung bewaffneten Kampfes» vor Gericht. Am 20. April 1964, dem letzten Prozesstag vor der Urteilsverkündung, begründete Mandela in seiner vierstündigen, vorbereiteten Rede ausführlich die Notwendigkeit des bewaffneten Kampfes, weil die Regierung weder auf Appelle noch auf den gewaltlosen Widerstand der nicht-weißen Bevölkerung in ihrem Bestreben nach Gleichbehandlung eingegangen sei und stattdessen immer repressivere Gesetze erlassen habe.

Am 11. Februar 1990 wurde Mandela nach 26 Jahren aus der Haft entlassen. Staatspräsident Frederik de Klerk hatte dies veranlasst und Tage zuvor das Verbot des «African National Congress» (ANC) aufgehoben. Mandela und de Klerk erhielten 1993 den Friedensnobelpreis für ihre Verdienste. Am Tage seiner Freilassung hielt Mandela eine Rede vom Balkon des Rathauses in Kapstadt aus, Tage später richtete er einen weiteren Appell an die gut 120‘000 Zuhörerinnen und Zuhörer im Fussballstadion in Johannesburg. Dort stellte er seine Politik der Versöhnung («reconciliation») vor, indem er «alle Menschen, die die Apartheid aufgegeben haben», zur Mitarbeit an einem «nichtrassistischen, geeinten und demokratischen Südafrika mit allgemeinen, freien Wahlen und Stimmrecht für alle» einlud.

Im Juli 1992 wurde Mandela einstimmig zum Präsidenten des «ANC» gewählt. So konnte er die Verhandlungen mit der Regierung über die Beseitigung der Apartheid und Schaffung eines neuen Südafrikas an die Hand nehmen. 1994 erschien seine Autobiographie «Der lange Weg zur Freiheit» und schrieb dort:«Während dieser langen, einsamen Jahre der Haft wurde aus meinem Hunger nach Freiheit für mein eigenes Volk der Hunger nach Freiheit aller Völker, ob weiß oder schwarz».

Im Februar 1996 begann die von Mandela eingesetzte Wahrheits- und Versöhnungskommission (TRC) unter Leitung des Friedensnobelpreisträgers Desmond Tutu. mit der Aufarbeitung der Verbrechen zur Zeit der Apartheid. Einigen Gruppen gingen die in Mandelas Amtszeit erreichten sozialen Verbesserungen auch in Bezug auf die AIDS-Krise, nicht weit genug. Kritiker bemängelten ebenso, dass die Verbrechen des Apartheid-Regimes nicht strafrechtlich genug gesühnt wurden.

Kinder unter sechs Jahren, schwangere und stillende Mütter erhielten eine kostenlose Gesundheitsfürsorge; 1996 wurde die Gesundheitsfürsorge für alle Südafrikaner kostenfrei. Mit dem «Land Restitution Act» (1994) und dem «Land Reform Act 3» (1996) wurden Schritte zu einer Landreform unternommen. Während seiner Amtszeit wurden zahlreiche Gesetze der Apartheit-Zeit widerrufen. Armee und Polizei wurden neu aufgestellt.

Als 1994 der frisch gekürte südafrikanische Präsident und Nobelpreisträger Nelson Mandela in die Schweiz kam und zu Gast im Dolder Hotel vor der hiesigen «class politique» und die wirtschaftliche Elite (Nationalbankpräsident und Bankenvertreter) über seine Vision eines neuen Südafrikas sprach, war auch ich als Fotojournalist eingeladen und machte ein paar Bilder von Mandela.

Allerdings war ich nicht darauf vorbereitet, dass er infolge seines durch die lange Haft eingebüssten Augenlichts durch Blitzlicht geblendet würde und hatte ohne Blitzlicht die falsche Filmempfindlichkeit im Kasten. Ich hätte mich ohrfeigen können, keine andere Filmrolle dabei zu haben.

Als Mandela sich nach seiner Ansprache beim Apéro unter die Menge mischte, hielt ich mich diskret im Hintergrund auf. Doch offensichtlich hatte Mandela ein gutes Gedächtnis und sehr aufmerksame Augen, vielleicht erinnerte er sich sogar, wo und wann in Soweto ich in der Menge der Schwarzen kurz nach seiner Freilassung als einziger Weisser stand. Auf jeden Fall veranlasste ihn das, auf mich zuzutreten und mich darauf anzusprechen, ob wir uns schon mal getroffen hätten.

Da war ich erstaunt! Als ich ihm antwortete, „ja in Soweto“, reichte er mir verblüffenderweise beide Hände. Das war sehr berührend! Dieses Gefühl, vielleicht doch etwas bewirkt zu haben und dafür einen prominenten Dank samt unglaublicher Wertschätzung zu erfahren. Daraufhin starrten mich alle anwesenden Banker und Politiker im Raum an und fragten sich, wer wohl der langhaarige Freak hier sei. Das blieb zum Glück ein Geheimnis von mir, Mandela und der südafrikanischen Botschafterin in Bern, Frau Dr. Konji Sebati, bei der ich einst zu Gast in der Botschaft in Bern bei einem hochrangig besetzten Anlass war.

Durch diesen Kontakt kam ich als Reisejournalist und PR-Berater zu dieser Zeit tätig zu einem PR-Mandat für das südafrikanische Fremdenverkehrsamt «SATOUR» und erhielt dazu das PR-Mandat der südafrikanischen Fluggesellschaft («SAA») über Jahre hinweg. Das hatte ich dem diplomatischen Spagat zwischen den Untergrund-Kontakten (von denen nur wenige wussten) und den Kontakten zur weissen Elite, die ebenfalls sehr diskret abliefen, zu verdanken. Und auch dem traurigen Umstand, dass die Schweizer in Südafrika eine zentrale Rolle beim Goldhandel spielten, bei den «AKW’s», bei der militärischer Unterstützung des Apartheid-Regimes mit Kampfjets und Pilotentraining und letztlich sowohl bei der Umschuldung als auch beim Transformationsprozess eine wesentliche Rolle spielten und so auch den Goldhandel übernahmen. Bis heute ist die Schweiz die Goldhandelsgrossmacht geblieben und wickelt fast 80 Prozent des Edelmetallhandels ab.

Das dunkle Kapitel der Schweiz während der Apartheid

1950, als die Südafrikanische Regierung ihr Volk in Rassen unterteilt (Population Registration Act 35), zahlten die Schweizer Banken die ersten Kredite über 35 Millionen Franken. Als die Regierung dann Mischehen verbot (Prohibition of Mixed Marriage Act), flossen weitere 85 Millionen Franken an den Appartheid-Staat, der bis 1983 über dreieinhalb Millionen Schwarze enteignet und in «Homelands» deportiert hat. Und so gehörten 87 Prozent des Landes auf einmal den 16 Prozent Weissen. Und die Schweiz, genauer gesagt mein ehemaliger Lehrbetrieb, die «Oerlikon Bührle AG», lieferte Waffen, wie die «35mm Flab-Kanonen»  und «Pilatus PC-Porter»  Flugzeuge ans Kap, trotz UNO-Sanktionen.

1967 werden fast 700‘000 Schwarze innerhalb eines Jahres verhaftet, weil sie gegen die Passgesetze verstossen haben sollen. Die Ausgaben für die Innere Sicherheit betragen bereits 17 Prozent des Bruttosozialproduktes. Als die Briten im März 1968 einen zweiwöchige Einstellung des Goldhandels beschliessen, sprintet die Schweiz in die Bresche. Nun fliesst Südafrikas Reichtum in Rauhen Mengen in die Goldhandelsmetropole Schweiz. «SBG», «SKA» und «SBV» sichern sich dreiviertel des weltweiten Goldhandels.

1968 platzt die «Bührle-Affäre». Die Oerlikoner Waffenschmide hatte via Frankreich Waffen im Wert von 52,7 Millionen Franken nach Südafrika geliefert. 1973 beschliesst die «UNO» Vollversammlung Südafrika mit der «Resolution 3068» auszuschliessen und die Apartheid als «Verbrechen gegen die Menschlichkeit» einzustufen, derweil die Anleihen der drei Schweizer Banken schon auf 2,2 Milliarden Franken angestiegen sind. Während jedes zweite Kind unter fünf Jahren in den Homelands stirbt, geht es den weissen Herren am Kap und der «Zürcher Goldküste» immer besser. «Oerlikon Bührle» hat mehrmals die Sanktionen umgangen. Ich erinnere mich daran, als ich in der Exportabteilung die Ausfuhrbewilligungen, Frachtpapiere und Akkreditive einfach auf die «Oerlikon Bührle» Holding in Spanien ausstellen musste.

1979 kommt es zum Massaker in Soweto, als am 16. Juni 15‘000 Schüler dagegen protestierten, fortan in Africaans unterrichtet zu werden. 575 Menschen starben bei dem Aufstand, der sich über Monate hinzog. Die Schweizer Banken verdoppelten ihr Kreditvolumen. 1980 erklärt der reformierte Weltbund» die Apartheid zur Häresie. Das liess die Schweiz und den Schweizer Geheimdienst kalt. Peter Reggli richtet den Pilotenaustausch mit südafrikanischen Kampfpiloten in die Wege, der Bundesrat wurde aber erst 1986 orientiert.

Die Summe der Kreditvergaben der Schweizer Banken an das Apartheid-Regime vervierfachte sich. Jahr um Jahr um 100 Prozent. Infolge der internationalen Ächtung des Apartheid Regimes profitierte die Schweiz von der Menschen verachtenden, rassistischen Politik der Weissen am Kap. Die «ILO» forderte die Weltkonzerne auf, sich aus Südafrika zurückzuziehen und kritisierte die «SBG» namentlich als Sanktionsbrecherin. Nichts desto trotz erhält das südafrikanische Regime 1985 von Schweizer Banken weitere 75 Millionen Franken an Krediten zur freien Verfügung. 1986 wird der Ausnahmezustand über das hochverschuldete Land verhängt, über 10‘000 Menschen werden verhaftet, 1800 kamen um. „Der Frieden wurde zur Bedrohung der öffentlichen Sicherheit“, sagt Erzbischoff Desmond Tutu, als das Kirchenblatt, die «New Nation» geschlossen wurde.

Als 1987 die USA Firmen bestrafen wollte, die sich nicht an die Sanktionen hielten, kam Südafrikas Präsident Peter Botha und sein Aussenminister nach Zürich um sich mit «SBG»-Vizedirektor Georg Meyer und den Vorstand der «Vereinigung Schweiz-Südafrika» zu treffen, wo ihnen an Ort und Stelle ein „Orden der guten Hoffnung“ und weitere 70 Millionen übergeben wurde. Und 1989 kommt Südafrikas Regime dank Robert Jeker auch noch zu einer Verschnaufpause bei der Rückzahlung der offenen Kredite über acht Milliarden Franken.

Dies war die Ausgangslage damals, die mich bewog, in Südafrika in den Untergrund zu gehen. Da ereignete sich noch ein kleiner Schicksalswink, der mich in dem Vorhaben bestärkte. Wie so viele Aktivisten, schrieb ich der damaligen «SGB» (und heutigen «UBS»), die damals sehr stark in Südafrika aktiv war und das Apartheid-Regime unterstützte, einen Brief in der ich der Bank mitteilte, dass ich mein Konto aus Protest gegen die Finanzpolitik und das «SBG» Engagement auflöse und sie bat, das Guthaben auf ein anderes Konto zu überweisen. Bei der Saldierung des Kontos unterlief der Bank ein Fehler und so überwies sie mir 5500 Franken mehr. Ich sagte mir, „ich lass das Geld auf meinem Konto für ein Jahr und wenn die «SBG» sich nicht mehr meldet, dann geht das Geld an Organisationen im Südafrikanischen Untergrund“, sozusagen als Kompensationszahlung. Und so ist es dann auch geschehen!

Bürgerkrieg Südafrika 94: IKRK-Einsätze im «ANC-IFP» Konflikt

Nach dem das Apartheid-Regime durch den UNO-Boykott und den südafrikanischen Widerstand zusammenbrach, kam es zu einem erbittertem Machtkampf zwischen dem «ANC» (African National Congress) und Buthelezi`s «IFP» (Inkhata Freedom Party). Der Bürgerkrieg forderte X-tausend Opfer und machte Zehntausende zu Flüchtlingen. Eine weitere Tragödie, denn zuvor hatte das weisse Regime im Zuge der Rassentrennung Hundertausende von schwarzen Menschen wie Vieh zwangsumgesiedelt.

Nun gab es wieder eine Welle von Vertriebenen im Land und Grabenkämpfe unter den Schwarzen. Es war eine erklärte Strategie, der abtretenden beziehungsweise gefährdeten Machthabern, mit allen Mittel Zwietracht unter den Schwarzen zu säen und so hat das Botha-Regime Buthelzi als Gegenkandidat zu Mandela aufzustellen. Alle Mittel der Destabilisierung wurden angewandt und die Saat ging auf. Der darauf folgende Bürgerkrieg war fürchterlich.

Im Südafrika der Nach-Apartheid beschäftigten die Menschen vor allem eins: die ständig wachsende Gewalt-Kriminalität. Hatte die Polizei früher in erster Linie die Verfolgung politischer Gegner zum Ziel, fochten die Sicherheitskräfte und Politiker nun einen fast aussichtslosen Kampf gegen die Brutalität der Kriminalität aus. Der «Taxi-/Minibus-Krieg» in Durban forderte seit Jahren zahlreiche unschuldige Menschenleben. In Kapstadt tobte ein Bandenkrieg unter 80000 Jugendlichen, auch Johannesburg wurde Schauplatz zahlreicher Verbrechen. Als Tourist oder Geschäftsreisender spürte man die «Atmosphäre der Angst» intensiv.

Die Polizeikräfte operierten wie paramilitärische Organisationen und hatten einen üblen Ruf, in den jeweiligen Städten. Die Arbeitslosigkeit betrug fast 40 Prozent und liess so die weit verbreitete Armut und die Kriminalität in die Höhe schnellen, begünstigt durch die Ohnmacht und Korruption des mit sich selbst beschäftigten Justiz- und Polizeiapparates, der im Zuge des radikalen Umbaus gelähmt war. Täglich wurden in Südafrika über 60 Menschen, also jährlich insgesamt gegen 20‘000 Personen umgebracht. Südafrikas Gefängnisse platzten aus allen Nähten. Strafuntersuchungen bleiben jahrelang unbe-arbeitet liegen. Auch Jugendliche unter 14 Jahren waren vielfach lange Zeit inhaftiert.

1993 begleitete ich einen Freund von mir, Daniel S., der als IKRK-/Rotkreuz Südafrika-Delegierter in Johannesburg stationiert war, auf seiner Reise in die Flüchtlingslager, um die dortige Lage zu sondieren, den Opfern zu helfen und die Friedensbemühungen zur Stabilisierung des Landes im Hinblick auf eine demokratische Verfassung und Regierung der «Regenbogen-Nation» zu unterstützen. Wir fuhren zu den damaligen Hotspots «Margate» und «Ladysmith», «Ezakhweni» und «Emphangeni», «Mfung» und «Obizo» sowie «Empendle» protokollierten die abgebrannen Häuser und die Toten. Führten Gespräche mit Hinterbliebenen und versuchten zwischen den Konfliktparteien zu vermitteln. Eine schwierige, wenn nicht fast aussichtslose Aufgabe. Damals kam es alle 40 Minuten zu einem Mord, 20‘000 pro Jahr insgesamt.

1994 kam es zu einem weiteren interessanten Treffen, mit Miss South Africa Basetsana Kumalo und an ihrer Seite Kwezi Hani, die junge Tochter von Chris Hani, der gerade ermordet worden war. Chris Hani war Generalsekretär der South African Communist Party (SACP), ein hochrangiges Mitglied des «ANC» sowie Stabschef von dessen bewaffnetem Arm «Umkhonto we Sizwe» (MK).

Als sich in den frühen 1990er Jahren das Ende der Apartheid abzeichnete, war er im «ANC» nach Nelson Mandela eine der beliebtesten Führungsfiguren. Hani wurde im April 1993 von dem polnischen Einwanderer Janusz Waluś ermordet. Dahinter stand ein Komplott, dessen Drahtzieher der ehemalige Parlamentsabgeordnete Clive Derby-Lewis von der Konserwatiewe Party war. Ziel war es, den Verhandlungs-prozess, der zur Beendigung der Apartheid führen sollte, zu zerstören.

Ein teuflischer Plan, der aufging. Das Treffen mit Basetsane fand in einem Spielcasino statt und wurde offensichtlich beobachtet. Es war ja auch eine brandheisse Zeit und die Bespitzelung politischer Akteure und deren Familien und Umfeld eine wohlbekannte Tatsache. Und so wurde auch ich zur Observationszielscheibe. Erst versuchte ein Schwarzer und später zwei Weisse Herren mich unauffällig diskret aber mit Nachdruck auszufragen. Und eine weitere illustre Person versuchte mich dann sogar in Gabarone, also in Botswana zu kontaktieren und in Südafrikas interne Machtkämpfe zu involvieren. Ich lehnte alle Annäherungsversuche ab und kam so ungeschoren aus den Wirren der politischen Machtkämpfe davon.

Im Februar 1996 begann die von Mandela eingesetzte Wahrheits- und Versöhnungskommission (TRC) unter Leitung des Friedensnobelpreisträgers Desmond Tutu. mit der Aufarbeitung der Verbrechen zur Zeit der Apartheid. Die wurde vor allem zur Abrechnung und Demontage von Winnie Mandela genutzt, die in diesen Jahren nach Madibas Freilassung viel mehr gelitten hatte und härter kämpfen musste, als ihr Mann. Es war die damalige ANC-Spitze, die beschloss Winnie müsse sich von Nelson trennen um ihm die Wahl zum Präsidenten zu sichern. Winnies Stern stand immer unter dem Nelsons, aber sie war die eigentliche Powerfrau, die während seiner Haftzeit Mandelas Augen und Ohren waren und sie war es, die die Massen mobilisierte.

Einigen Gruppen gingen die in Mandelas Amtszeit erreichten sozialen Verbes-serungen auch in Bezug auf die AIDS-Krise, nicht weit genug. Kritiker bemängelten ebenso, dass die Verbrechen des Apartheid-Regimes nicht strafrechtlich genug gesühnt wurden. Kinder unter sechs Jahren, schwangere und stillende Mütter erhielten zum ersten Mal eine kostenlose Gesundheitsfürsorge; 1996 wurde die Gesundheitsfürsorge für alle Südafrikaner kostenfrei. Mit dem «Land Restitution Act» (1994) und dem «Land Reform Act 3» (1996) wurden Schritte zu einer Landreform unternommen. Während seiner Amtszeit wurden zahlreiche Gesetze der Apartheid-Zeit widerrufen, Armee und Polizei wurden neu aufgestellt.

Im Rahmen meines humanitären Engagements in Südafrika konnte ich dank dem Zulu-Heiler Credo Vusama Mutwa 1997 auch das Pollsmoor-Gefängnis in Kapstadt (in dem Nelson Mandela die letzten Jahre seiner Haft verbrachte) mit einem kanadischen UN-Gesundheitsinspektorenteam besuchen. In dem für 3‘000 Häftlinge konzipierten Gefängnis waren rund 7‘000 Häftlinge inhaftiert. Fast 30% der Insassen waren damals HIV-positiv und viele Häftlinge wurden jahrelang ohne Anklage festgehalten, etliche verstarben. Es waren schockie-rende Zustände, die wir da antrafen. Ein Esslöffel als Kostprobe in der Gefängnisküche reichte aus, dass ich hernach Staphylokokken und Streptokokken hatte. Pädagogisch befremdend war auch, dass es im Kinderspielzimmer einzig eine Plastik-Schusswaffe als Spielzeug gab. So züchtet man von Kindesbeinen an eine neue nach-wachsende Generation von Armut getriebener Krimineller heran.

Der Zulu-Sangoma (Heiler), Bantu-Schriftsteller & Historiker Credo Vusama Mutwa, den ich im «Shamwari Game Reserve» kennen lernte zusammen mit Dr. Jan Player, dem Rhinozeros-Retter und «Wilderness-Leadership-School»-Gründer. Die ganze Nacht über erzählte mir der unglaublich gebildete Mensch die spirituellen Geheimnisse und ethnischen Zusammenhänge, die kulturellen Eigenschaften und Besonderheiten der Bantu-Völker von Nord- bis Südafrika. Es war faszinierend und sehr lehrreich. Nur war ich gerade mit meiner zweieinhalb jährigen Tochter Aiala und ihrer Mutter Roberta unterwegs und hatte noch einige Pläne, Termine und Treffen bezüglich anderen Wildlife und Ökoprojekte und konnte nicht einfach hier bleiben und Credo beim Projekt «Kaya Lendaba» helfen. Ich war echt hin und her gerissen.

Der Zulu-Heiler wollte die Wunden der Regenbogennation heilen und beim «Shamwari Game Reserve» ein multikulturelles Dorf bauen, in dem alle südafrikanischen Ethnien vertreten sein würden. Es sollte als Leuchtpfahl für die Wiedervereinigung Südafrikas dienen und helfen, die Konflikte zu beenden. Gerne hätte ich die Ausbildung zu einem «Sangoma», also einem Heiler gemacht, da Credo mir die Qualifikationen und die geistig-spirituelle Weltsicht zutraute. Dies erfüllte mich mit Stolz und wäre wohl eine wegweisende Weiche in meinem Leben gewesen. Denn ursprünglich wollte ich als Game Ranger in einem dieser neu entstehenden Wildlife-Reservate arbeiten. Ich konnte mir nichts Schöneres vor stellen, als Wildlife-Manager in einem intakten und geschützten oder schützenswerten Umfeld zu arbeiten. Daher reiste ich immer wieder nach Botswana, Südafrika und Namibia.

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Geschätzte Leserin, werter Leser

Der Autor unterstützt noch immer zahlreiche Projekte. Infolge der COVID-19 Pandemie ist es aber für den Autor selbst für und zahlreiche Projekte schwieriger geworden. Die Situation hat sich verschärft. Für Ihre Spende, die einem der im Buch genannten Projekte zufliesst, bedanke ich mich. Falls Sie dies tun wollen, melden Sie sich bitte per Mail bei mir gmc1(at) gmx.ch. Vielen Dank im Namen der Hilfsprojekt-Empfänger/innen.

Kapitelübersicht der Auszüge aus dem Buch des Zürcher Fotojournalisten Gerd Michael Müller

VORWORT:

Das Buch des Zürcher Foto-Journalisten Gerd Michael Müller nimmt Sie ab den wilden 80er Jahren mit auf eine spannende Zeitreise durch 30 Länder und 40 Jahre Zeitgeschichte mit Fokus auf mehrere politische und ökologische Vorgänge in Krisenregionen rund um den Globus. Er beleuchtet das Schicksal indigener Völker, zeigt die Zerstörung ihres Lebensraumes auf, rückt ökologische Aspekte und menschenliche Schicksale in den Vordergrund, analysiert scharfsichtig und gut informiert die politischen Transforma-tionsprozesse. Müller prangert den masslosen Konsum und die gnadenlose Ausbeutung der Ressourcen an, zeigt die Auswirkungen wirtschaftlicher, gesellschaftlicher und politischer Prozesse auf und skizziert Ansätze zur Bewältigung des Klimawandels. Pointiert hintergründig, spannend und erhellend. Eine Mischung aus globalem Polit-Thrillern, gehobener Reiseliteratur, gespickt mit sozialkritischen und abenteuerlichen Geschichten sowie persönlicher Essays – den Highlights und der Essenz seines abenteuerlich wilden Nomaden-Lebens für die Reportage-Fotografie. Nach der Lektüre dieses Buchs zählen Sie zu den kulturell, ökologisch sowie politisch versierten Globetrottern.

INHALTSVERZEICHNIS / KAPITELUBERSICHT

  1. KAPITEL:
Die Jugendunruhen und Politskandale zu Beginn der 80er Jahre     
Im Strudel Schweizer Politskandale 

2. KAPITEL:

Stationär im Sengegal, in Polen und in London                                                         

Südafrika: Im Kampf gegen die Apartheid im Untergrund    

Apartheid: Das rabenschwarze Kapitel der Schweiz         

3. KAPITEL   

1994: Mandelas Besuch in der Schweiz         

 93/94: IKRK-Einsätze im «ANC-IFP»-Bürgerkrieg 

2011: Gadaffis Gadaffis Billions disapeared inZumas und Ramaphos hands

2017: Gupta-Leaks: Wie indische Kleptokraten dank Zuma Südafrika plünderte                               

Botswana: MIt den Khoi-San durch das Okavango-Delta streifen

Die Buschmänner, deren Leben bald Geschichte ist

Kenya: Nach ethnischen Konflikten in der IKRK-Mission in Eldoret

Namibia 2013: Entwicklungshilfe, HIV-Schulen und im Reich der Geparde

KARIBIK/LATEINAMERIKA

Grenada 94: Zum Frühstück auf dem Flugzeugträger US John Rodgers

1993: Lebenslust & Protest zu Calypsoklängen in London und Trinidad

Stets sozial engagiert und ökologisch interveniert

Soziales und politisches Engagement in der Schweiz

Mexico: Osterprozessionen und Indioaufstände

Kolumbien: Höllentrip in im Dienste der Swissair 

Highlights in Brasilien

ASIEN

Sri Lanka 1992: Die Perle des Orients nach dem Bürgerkrieg

Malediven 93: Die ersten Anzeichen des Klimawandels

Borneo 96: Spaziergang mit handicapierten Orang Utans

Philippines 95: Auf den Spuren der Geistheiler

2013: Abenteuerliche Flussreise im Norden Laos

Magische Mekong Cruise durch die Mäander der 4000 Inseln

Mauritius: Symphonie in Türkis und Weiss mit den weltbesten Spa-Resorts

Komoren: Die Parfüminseln tauchen aus der Versenkung empor

Der Klimawandel das Tourismus & Umwelt Forum Schweiz

Artensterben & Pandemien: Werden wir das überleben?

Endzeit: Das sechste Massensterbern hat begonnen, gehen wir mit unter?

Die Dürren in Europa sind hausgemachte EU-Agrarsubventionspolitik

Chronologie guter Absichten und jahrzehntelangem Versagens      

Schmetterlingseffekte: Hedge Fonds potenzieren Kriege und den Klimawandel

Ohne radikalen Paradigmenwechsel schaufeln wir unser eigenes Grab

Aegypten 2004: Bei den Beduinen im Sinai

Libanon 2006: In Beirut im Palästinenser-Flüchtlingscamp

Irans Drogenpolitik: Scheinheilige Repression und kafkaeske Bevormundung

Ein Blick hinter die Kulissen der iranischen Botschaft in Bern

Australiens fantastischen Naturparadiese und die dreckige Kohleindustrie

Opalsucher in Coober Pedy: «Die Hoffnung lebt im Untergrund»

Südsee-Highlights: Bora Bora, Huhine, Moorea, Tetiaroa 

(A)soziale Medien, Big Data, KI, Whistleblower und disruptive Medienmogule              

Die Rolle aller Medien und Quellen kritisch hinterfragen und Konsequenzen ziehen

Missbrauch, Misstrauen, Medien und Machtmonopole

Der Fluch von Big Data und unsere vorsätzliche Fahrlässigkeit im Umgang damit

Mensch oder Maschine: Wer übernimmt das Kommando?

Whistleblower werden bestraft und gefoltert, die Massenmörder laufen frei

Beim Kampf gegen die Apartheid im südafrikanischen Untergrund

Auszug aus dem Buch des Zürcher Fotojournalisten Gerd Michael Müller

VORWORT

Das Buch des Zürcher Foto-Journalisten Gerd Michael Müller nimmt Sie ab den wilden 80er Jahren mit auf eine spannende Zeitreise durch 30 Länder und 40 Jahre Zeitgeschichte mit Fokus auf mehrere politische und ökologische Vorgänge in Krisenregionen rund um den Globus. Er beleuchtet das Schicksal indigener Völker, zeigt die Zerstörung ihres Lebensraumes auf, rückt ökologische Aspekte und menschenliche Schicksale in den Vordergrund, analysiert scharfsichtig und gut informiert die politischen Transformationsprozesse. Müller prangert den masslosen Konsum und die gnadenlose Ausbeutung der Ressourcen an, zeigt die Auswirkungen wirtschaftlicher, gesellschaftlicher und politischer Prozesse auf und skizziert Ansätze zur Bewältigung des Klimawandels. Pointiert hintergründig, spannend und erhellend. Eine Mischung aus globalem Polit-Thrillern, gehobener Reiseliteratur, gespickt mit sozialkritischen und abenteuerlichen Geschichten sowie persönlicher Essays – den Highlights und der Essenz seines abenteuerlich wilden Nomaden-Lebens für die Reportage-Fotografie. Nach der Lektüre dieses Buchs zählen Sie zu den kulturell, ökologisch sowie politisch versierten Globetrotter.

Durch die Jugendunruhen der frühen 80er Jahre politisch sensibilisiert, als AKW-Gegner, Pazifist, und Dienstverweigerer auf der politisch linken Seite angelangt sowie durch die berufliche Tätigkeit während der Lehre bei der «Oerlikon Bührle Waffenschmiede für das Geschehen auch in humanitärer Hinsicht auf Südafrika fokussiert, beschloss ich also durch die in London geknüpften Kontakte zu ANC-Exilanten und die durch die «Anti Apartheid-Bewegung» (AAB) in der Schweiz zusätzlich geknüpften Kontakte Ende 1986 nach Johannesburg zu fliegen mit dem Ziel, die angespannte Situation und die menschenunwürdigen Zustände selbst vor Ort kennenzulernen. Und da der Bruder eines der Reiseleiter-Kollegen in London in Südafrika lebte, hatte und wir 1987 eine Expedition ins Okavango Delta im benachbarten Botswana planten, hatte ich ein ambitiöses und abenteuerliches Programm vor mir.

Erst lebten mein ehemaliger Vorgesetzter in London und ich einige Wochen im Nobelquartier der Weissen in Hillbrow. Gewöhnungsbedürftig war zunächst einmal die schwarze Haushälterin, die im Mietpreis inbegriffen war! Dann natürlich die Beschränkungen für die schwarze Bevölkerung in allen Bereichen des öffentlichen Lebens, jene menschenverachtende Rassentrennung und –diskriminierung, mit den entsprechenden Passgesetzen für die jeweiligen Ethnien.

Es gab auch eine indische Community in Durban und die malayischen Mischlinge in Kapstadt, was ganz schön kompliziert war, vor allem die Umsiedlungspläne, die auch in die Tat umgesetzt wurden. So wurde gemäss Angaben des Innenministeriums und der NGO «Black Sash», über eine halbe Million Schwarze Menschen in die Homelands zwangsumgesiedelt und enteignet. Damit kamen die weissen Farmer zu ihren grossen Farmen in ertragsreichen Regionen.

Behutsam machte ich mich mit den lokalen Verhältnissen vertraut, besuchte das «Khotso House» in dem einige Widerstandsorganisationen wie die «Black Sash» aber auch die «UDF» Gewerkschaft ihre Büro’s hatte. Das Haus wurde rund um die Uhr bespitzelt und öfters von der Polizei durchsucht und viele engagierte Leute wurden verhaftet, gefoltert oder ohne Anklage eingesperrt. Eines der prominentesten Opfer des Apartheid-Regimes, neben Nelson Mandela war Stephen Biko.

Stephen Biko beteiligte sich 1972 an der Gründung der Graswurzelbewegung Black Community Programmes (BCP), die von der Regierung mit einem Bann belegt wurde. Auch war er an der Gründung des Zimele Trust Fund, einem Fond für die Opfer des Apartheid-Regimes beteiligt. Im August 1977 wurde er von der Sicherheitspolizei verhaftet, weil er gegen Auflagen verstossen hatte. Sie verhörten und folterten Biko und schleppten ihn bewusstlos 1000 Kilometer nach Pretoria, wo er am 13. September 1977 verstarb.  Die gewaltsame Tötung Bikos führte zu einem internationalen Eklat. Biko wurde zu einem Symbol der Widerstandsbewegung gegen das Apartheid-Regime.

Ich kam just zu dem Zeitpunkt in Südafrika an, als die «New Nation», eines der letzten liberalen, kritischen Blätter der katholischen Bischofskonferenz unter Desmond Tutu verboten und geschlossen wurde und führte mit dem soeben entlassenen Chefredaktor Gabu Tugwana ein letztes Interview, das damals in der «WOZ» (Wochenzeitung) erschien und war der erste ausländische Journalist, der das Dekret des verhassten Innenministers sah und fotografierte. Das Apartheid-Regimes zensurierte oder verbot viele Zeitungen, bis alle möglichen kritischen Stimmen verstummt waren. Die Ausgaben für die Innere Sicherheit, das heisst für die Aufrechterhaltung des rassistischen Apartheidsystems verschlang über 20 Prozent des Bruttoinlandproduktes.

Dann getraute ich mich, mit dem Vororts-Zug von Down town Johannesburg nach Soweto, also in die schwarzen Townships zu fahren, damals eine äusserst gefährliche Sache. In Soweto angekommen, war man als Weisser zu dieser Zeit ziemlich allein und auffällig unterwegs. Zum Glück hatte ich lange Haare und sah weder wie ein Bure noch wie ein Engländer aus, was wohl viele davon abhielt, mich nicht gleich umzulegen. Da wuchs dann doch die Neugier in ihnen, was ich denn hier zu suchen hatte und so konnte ich sie dann dank meinen in London und Zürich geknüpften «ANC»-Kontakte beruhigen, sodass sie mir vertrauten und mich in die Town Ships einführten.

Vor den SADF-Panzerfahrzeugen in Soweto aufgelaufen

Mandelas Freilassung bedeutete das Ende der Apartheid

Aus dieser ersten Reise entstand eine tiefe Verbindung mit dem Land, dass ich über 20 Mal besuchte und dabei Nelson Mandela zwei Mal traf. Das erste Mal kurz nach seiner Freilassung hier in Soweto, das zweite Mal, als Präsident von Südafrika und frisch gekürter Nobelpreisträger im Zürcher «Dolder Hotel» vor der «class politique» und wirtschaftlichen Elite (Nationalbankpräsident und Bankenvertreter) über seine Vision eines neuen Südafrikas sprach. Auch ich war zu diesem historischen Treffen eingeladen und machte ein paar Bilder von Mandela. Allerdings war ich nicht darauf vorbereitet, dass er infolge seines durch die lange Haft eingebüssten Augenlichts durch Blitzlicht geblendet würde und hatte ohne Blitzlicht die falsche Filmempfindlichkeit im Kasten.

Als Mandela sich nach seiner Ansprache beim Apéro unter die Menge mischte, hielt ich mich diskret im Hintergrund auf. Doch offensichtlich hatte Mandela ein gutes Gedächtnis und sehr aufmerksame Augen, vielleicht erinnerte er sich sogar, wo und wann in Soweto ich in der Menge der Schwarzen kurz nach seiner Freilassung als einziger Weisser stand.

Auf jeden Fall veranlasste ihn das, auf mich zuzutreten und mich darauf anzusprechen, ob wir uns schon mal getroffen hätten. Da war ich erstaunt! Als ich ihm antwortete, „ja in Soweto“, reichte er mir verblüffenderweise beide Hände. Das war sehr berührend! Dieses Gefühl, vielleicht doch etwas bewirkt zu haben und dafür einen prominenten Dank samt unglaublicher Wertschätzung zu erfahren. Daraufhin starrten mich alle anwesenden Banker und Politiker im Raum an und fragten sich, wer wohl der langhaarige Freak hier sei. Das blieb zum Glück ein Geheimnis von mir, Mandela und der südafrikanischen Botschafterin in Bern, Frau Dr. Konji Sebati, bei der ich einst zu Gast in der Botschaft in Bern bei einem hochrangig besetzten Anlass war.

Durch diesen Kontakt kam ich als Reisejournalist und PR-Berater zu dieser Zeit tätig zu einem PR-Mandat für das südafrikanische Fremdenverkehrsamt «SATOUR» und erhielt dazu das PR-Mandat der südafrikanischen Fluggesellschaft («SAA») über Jahre hinweg. Das hatte ich dem diplomatischen Spagat zwischen den Untergrund-Kontakten (von denen nur wenige wussten) und den Kontakten zur weissen Elite, die ebenfalls sehr diskret abliefen, zu verdanken und auch dem traurigen Umstand, dass die Schweizer in Südafrika eine zentrale Rolle beim Goldhandel spielten, bei den «AKW’s», bei der militärischer Unterstützung des Apartheid-Regimes mit Kampfjets und Pilotentraining und letztlich sowohl bei der Umschuldung als auch beim Transformationsprozess eine wesentliche Rolle spielten und so auch den Goldhandel übernahmen. Bis heute ist die Schweiz die Goldhandelsgrossmacht geblieben und wickelt fast 80 Prozent des Edelmetallhandels ab.

Blenden wir kurz zurück, zum 5. August 1962 als Mandela zusammen mit Cecil Williams während einer Autofahrt nahe Howick in Natal unter dem Vorwurf festgenommen wurde, er führe den verbotenen «ANC» im Untergrund an. Die Verhaftung erfolgte, nachdem er knapp eineinhalb Jahre in Freiheit und im politischen Untergrund gearbeitet hatte, unterbrochen von öffentlichen Auftritten für den ANC im Ausland. Der Prozessauftakt wurde auf den 15. Oktober 1962 festgesetzt.

Die Folge war Mandelas Verurteilung am 7. November 1962 zu fünf Jahren Gefängnis wegen Aufruf zur öffentlichen Unruhe (drei Jahre Haft) und Auslandsreisen ohne Reisepass (zwei Jahre). Er übernahm in dieser Gerichtsverhandlung seine Verteidigung selbst. Nach Verkündigung des Urteils wurde er Ende Mai 1963 auf die Gefängnisinsel Robben Island geschafft, aber schon bald wieder nach Pretoria geholt, nachdem am 11. Juli die übrige «ANC» Führungsspitze festgenommen worden war.

Ab dem 7. Oktober 1963 stand Mandela in Pretoria im «Rivonia»-Prozess mit zehn Mitangeklagten wegen «Sabotage und Planung bewaffneten Kampfes» vor Gericht. Am 20. April 1964, dem letzten Prozesstag vor der Urteilsverkündung, begründete Mandela in seiner vierstündigen, vorbereiteten Rede ausführlich die Notwendigkeit des bewaffneten Kampfes, weil die Regierung weder auf Appelle noch auf den gewaltlosen Widerstand der nicht-weißen Bevölkerung in ihrem Bestreben nach Gleichbehandlung eingegangen sei und stattdessen immer repressivere Gesetze erlassen habe.

Am 11. Februar 1990 wurde Mandela nach 26 Jahren aus der Haft entlassen. Staatspräsident Frederik de Klerk hatte dies veranlasst und Tage zuvor das Verbot des «African National Congress» (ANC) aufgehoben. Mandela und de Klerk erhielten 1993 den Friedensnobelpreis für ihre Verdienste. Am Tage seiner Freilassung hielt Mandela eine Rede vom Balkon des Rathauses in Kapstadt aus, Tage später richtete er einen weiteren Appell an die gut 120‘000 Zuhörerinnen und Zuhörer im Fussballstadion in Johannesburg. Dort stellte er seine Politik der Versöhnung («reconciliation») vor, indem er «alle Menschen, die die Apartheid aufgegeben haben», zur Mitarbeit an einem «nichtrassistischen, geeinten und demokratischen Südafrika mit allgemeinen, freien Wahlen und Stimmrecht für alle» einlud.

Im Juli 1992 wurde Mandela einstimmig zum Präsidenten des «ANC» gewählt. So konnte er die Verhandlungen mit der Regierung über die Beseitigung der Apartheid und Schaffung eines neuen Südafrikas an die Hand nehmen. 1994 erschien seine Autobiographie «Der lange Weg zur Freiheit» und schrieb dort:«Während dieser langen, einsamen Jahre der Haft wurde aus meinem Hunger nach Freiheit für mein eigenes Volk der Hunger nach Freiheit aller Völker, ob weiß oder schwarz».

Hier ein paar Dokumente aus dieser Zeit zur Umsiedlungspolitik des Regimes:

Red Cross South Africa Civil War Ntunzini94
Red Cross South Africa Civil War Ntunzini94

Zur Publikationsübersicht nach Ländern

Links zu einige Printpublikationen über Südafrika:

Ökopioniere und sozial Engagierte   (Relax & Style)

Sanfter Tourismus ist von grosser sozialer Bedeutung  (Der Bund)

Der neue Feind heisst Kriminalität (Aargauer Zeitung)

Beim Büffel auf den Baum   (Südostschweiz:          

Tierparks so gross wie die Schweiz  (Sonntags Blick)

Nächster Halt am Zebrastreifen  (Reiseplaner)                          

African Healer (On Trip)        

Bushmen-Medizin am schönsten Ende der Welt (Wellness live)

Südafrika steht ein Bombenjahr bevor (Tages Anzeiger)

Alle 40 Minuten wird ein Mensch getötet (Tages-Anzeiger)

Vom ANC-Aktivist zum Tourismuspromotor (Travel Inside)

Demokratie in den Untergrund       (WoZ)                                              

Guerrissseurs Africaines  (OnTrip)                            

                                                                        

Ein Plakat in Soweto zur Zeit der Apartheid. Bild: Gerd M. Müller /GMC Photopress

IN EIGENER SACHE: IHR BEITRAG AN HUMANITAERE UND OEKO-PROJEKTE

Geschätzte Leserin, werter Leser

Der Autor unterstützt noch immer zahlreiche Projekte. Infolge der COVID-19 Pandemie ist es aber für den Autor selbst für und zahlreiche Projekte schwieriger geworden. Die Situation hat sich verschärft. Für Ihre Spende, die einem der im Buch genannten Projekte zufliesst, bedanke ich mich. Falls Sie dies tun wollen, melden Sie sich bitte per Mail bei mir gmc1(at) gmx.ch. Vielen Dank im Namen der Hilfsprojekt-Empfänger/innen.

Apartheid: Das rabenschwarze Kapitel der Schweiz

Auszug aus dem Buch des Zürcher Fotojournalisten Gerd Michael Müller

South African Defence Forces Panzerfahrzeuge in Soweto 1986. Bild: Gerd M. Müller, GMC Photopress

VORWORT

Der Zürcher Autor (Jg. 62) reiste als Fotojournalist durch mehr als 70 Nationen und lebte in sieben Länder, darunter auch in Südafrika im Untergrund während der Apartheid. In den 80er Jahren war er Politaktivist bei den Zürcher Jugendunruhen und dann im Autonomen Jugendzentrum (AJZ) tätig. Dann engagierte er sich für wegweisende Wildlife & Oekoprojekte im südlichen Afrika und weltweit. 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 Politthriller, Reiseberichten und voller abgefahrenen Geschichten – den Highlights seines abenteuerlich wilden Lebens eben.

1979 kommt es zum Massaker in Soweto, als am 16. Juni 15000 Schüler dagegen protestierten, fortan in Africaans unterrichtet zu werden. 575 Menschen starben bei dem Aufstand, der sich über Monate hinzog. Die Schweizer Banken verdoppelten ihr Kreditvolumen. 1980 erklärt der reformierte Weltbund» die Apartheid zur Häresie. Das lässt die Schweiz und den Schweizer Geheimdienst kalt. Peter Reggli richtet den Pilotenaustausch mit südafrikanischen Kampfpiloten in die Wege, der Bundesrat wird erst 1986 orientiert.

Die Summe der Kreditvergabe der Schweizer Banken vervierfachte sich. Jahr um Jahr um 100 Prozent. Dank internationaler Aechtung des Apartheid Regimes profitierte die Schweiz gnadenlos vom Schlachten am Kap. Die «ILO» forderte die Weltkonzerne auf, sich aus Südafrika zurückzuziehen und kritisierte die «SBG» namentlich als Sanktionsbrecherin. 1985 erhält das südafrikanische Regime von Schweizer Banken weitere 75 Millionen Franken an Krediten zur freien Verfügung. 1986 wird der Ausnahmezustand über das hochverschuldete Land verhängt. Ueber 10000 Menschen werden verhaftet. 1800 kamen um. „Der Frieden wurde zur Bedrohung der öffentlichen Sicherheit“, sagt Erzbischoff Desmond Tutu, als die New Nation geschlossen wurde.

Ein Plakat 1986 in Soweto mit zynischer multikulti Propaganda. Bild: Gerd M. Müller, GMC Photopress

Als 1987 die USA Firmen bestrafen wollte, die sich nicht an die Sanktionen hielten, kam Südafrikas Präsident Peter Botha und sein Aussenminister nach Zürich um sie mit «SBG»-Vizedirektor Georg Meyer und den Vorstand der «Vereinigung Schweiz-Südafrika» zu treffen, wo ihnen ein „Orden der guten Hoffnung“ und weitere 70 Millionen übergeben wurde. Und 1989 kommt Südafrikas Regime dank Robert Jeker auch noch zu einer Verschnaufpause bei der Rückzahlung der offenen Kredite über acht Milliarden Franken.

Behutsam machte ich mich mit den lokalen Verhältnissen vertraut, besuchte das «Khotso House» in dem einige Widerstandsorganisationen wie die «Black Sash» aber auch die «UDF» Gewerkschaft ihre Büro’s hatte. Das Haus wurde rund um die Uhr bespitzelt und öfters von der Polizei durchsucht. Viele engagierte Leute wurden verhaftet, gefoltert und ohne Anklage eingesperrt. Eines der prominentesten Opfer des Apartheid-Regimes nebst Nelson Mandela war wohl Steven Biko.

Ein IKRK-Mitarbeiter rapportiert die Bürgerkriegs-Opferaussagen in Ladysmith. Bild: Marcus Baker, GMC

Nach dem das Apartheid-Regime durch den UNO-Boykott und den südafrikanischen Widerstand zusammenbrach, kam es zu einem erbittertem Machtkampf zwischen dem «ANC» (African National Congress) und Buthelezi`s «IFP» (Inkhata Freedom Party). Der Bürgerkrieg forderte X-tausend Opfer und machte Zehntausende zu Flüchtlingen. Eine weitere Tragödie, denn zuvor hatte das weisse Regime im Zuge der Rassentrennung Millionen von schwarzen Menschen wie Vieh zwangsumgesiedelt.

Alle 40 Minuten ein Mord. 20000 pro Jahr.

Im Südafrika der Nach-Apartheid beschäftigten die Menschen vor allem eins: die ständig wachsende Gewalt-Kriminalität. Hatte die Polizei früher in erster Linie die Verfolgung politischer Gegner zum Ziel, fechteten die Sicherheitskräfte und Politiker nun einen fast aussichtslosen Kampf gegen die Brutalität und Kriminalität aus.

ANC/IFP-Konflikt: Zwei IKRK-Ambulanzen auf dem Weg zu den Bürgerkriegsopfern. Bild: GMC Photopress

Der «Taxi-/Minibus-Krieg» in Durban forderte seit Jahren zahlreiche unschuldige Menschenleben. In Kapstadt tobt ein Bandenkrieg unter 80000 Jugendlichen. Auch Johannesburg ist Schauplatz zahlreicher Verbrechen. Auch als Tourist oder Geschäftsreisender spürt man die «Atmosphäre der Angst». Die Polizeikräfte operieren wie paramilitärische Organisationen und haben einen üblen Ruf.

Die Arbeitslosigkeit beträgt fast 40 Prozent. Die weit verbreitet Armut liess die Kriminalität in die Höhe schnellen. Begünstigt durch die Ohnmacht und Korruption des mit sich selbst beschäftigten Justiz- und Polizeiapparates, der im Zuge des radikalen Umbaus gelähmt war. Täglich wurden in Südafrika über 60 Menschen, im Jahr gegen 20000 Personen umgebracht. Südafrikas Gefängnisse platzen aus allen Nähten . Strafuntersuchungen bleiben jahrelang unbearbeitet liegen. Auch Jugendliche unter 14 Jahren sind inhaftiert.

So sah es in Soweto damals aus: Hauptsächlich Wellblech-Hütten. Bild Gerd Müller / GMC Photopress

Welche Rolle spielte «Oerlikon Bührle» und die Schweiz in Südafrika?

1950, als die Südafrikanische Regierung ihr Volk in Rssen unterteilt (Population Registration Act 35), zahlten die Schweizer Banken die ersten Kredite über 35 Millionen Franken. Als die Regierung Mischehen verbot (Prohibition of Mixed Marriage Act), flossen weitere 85 Millionen Franken an den Apartheit-Staat, der bis 1983 über dreieinhalb Millionen Schwarze enteignet und in «Homelands» deportiert hat. Und so gehörten 87 Prozent des Landes den 16 Prozent Weissen. Und die Schweiz, genauer gesagt mein ehemaliger Lehrbetrieb, die Oerlikon Bührle AG, lieferte Waffen, wie die 35mm Kanonen und PC-Porter Flugzeuge ans Kap. Trotz UNO-Sanktionen.

1967 werden fast 700000 Schwarze innerhalb eines Jahres verhaftet, weil sie gegen die Passgesetze verstossen haben. Die Ausgaben für die Innere Sicherheit betragen bereits 17 Prozent des Bruttosozialproduktes. Als die Briten im März 1968 einen zweiwöchige Einstellung des Goldhandels beschliessen, sprint die Schweiz in die Bresche. Nun fliesst Südafrikas Reichtum in Rauhen Mengen in die Goldhandelsmetropole Schweiz. «SBG», «SKA» und «SBV» sichern sich dreiviertel des Goldhandels.

Afrikanisches Dorfleben im Kaya Lendaba von Credo Vusama Mutwa, dem Zulu Heiler. Bild: Gerd M. Müller

1968 platzt die «Bührle-Affaire». Die Oerlikoner Waffenschmide hatte via Frankreich Waffen im Wert von 52,7 Millionen Franken nach Südafrika geliefert. 1973 beschliesst die UNO Vollversammlung Südafrika mit der Resolution 3068 auszuschliessen und die Apartheid als «Verbrechen gegen die Menschlichkeit» einzustufen, derweil die Anleihen der drei Schweizer Banken schon auf 2,2 Milliarden Franken angestiegen sind. Derweil jedes zweite Kind unter fünf Jahren in den Homelands stirbt, geht es den weissen Herren am Kap und der «Zürcher Goldküste» immer besser.

«Oerlikon Bührle» hat mehrmals die Sanktionen umgangen. Ich erinnere mich als ich in der Exportabteilung die Ausfuhrbewilligungen , Frachtpapiere und Akkreditive einfach auf die «Oerlikon Bührle» Holding in Spanien ausstellen musste.

Zur Publikationsübersicht

IN EIGENER SACHE: IHR BEITRAG AN HUMANITAERE UND OEKO-PROJEKTE

Geschätzte Leserin, werter Leser

Der Autor unterstützt noch immer zahlreiche Projekte. Infolge der COVID-19 Pandemie ist es aber für den Autor selbst für und zahlreiche Projekte schwieriger geworden. Die Situation hat sich verschärft. Für Ihre Spende, die einem der im Buch genannten Projekte zufliesst, bedanke ich mich.

Falls Sie einen Beitrag spenden wollen, melden Sie sich bitte per Mail bei mir gmc1(at) gmx.ch.

Vielen Dank im Namen der Empfänger/innen.

Trauer um „Madiba“: «Eine Lichtgestalt hat die Erde verlassen»

Versöhnliche Worte auch an die Schweiz, obschon diese das Apartheidregime bis zu letzt unterstützte. BIld: © GMC/Gerd Müller

Versöhnliche Worte auch an die Schweiz, obschon diese das Apartheidregime bis zu letzt unterstützte. Nelson Mandela spricht als frischgekürter Präsident bei seinem ersten Staatsbesuch zur Schweizer Hochfinanz. Bild: © GMC/Gerd Müller

Allmynews-Herausgeber Gerd M. Müller lebte Ende der 80er Jahre mehrmals in den Townships in Soweto mit der unterdrückten schwarzen Bevölkerung und ANC-Aktivsten im Untergrund zusammen.  Er verfolgte die Apartheid-Politik aus nächster Nähe und traf Nelson Mandela zwei Mal – erst kurz nach seiner Freilassung in Südafrika, dann als frischgekürter Präsident und Nobelpreisträger im Dolder Hotel. Wie es dazu kam und was daraus wurde. 

Nelson Mandela als frischgekürter Präsident im Dolder. Bild: © GMC Photopress/Gerd Müller

Beeindruckend sanft: Nelson Mandela bei seinem ersten Staatsbesuch als frischgekürter Präsident im Dolder Zürich. Bild: © GMC Photopress/Gerd Müller

Der Zürcher Fotojournalist Gerd Müller erinnert sich an diese bewegte Zeit von Mitte bis Ende der 80er Jahre, die mit dem Beginn seiner publizistischen Karriere und seinem ersten humanitären Ausland-Engagement eng verknüpft waren, bestens. Seine erste Reise nach Südafrika bezeichnet er als «einer der prägendsten Abschnitte meines Lebens».

Zu seinem Aufenthalt während der Apartheitzeit in den Townships von Südafrika kam es, weil er zuvor in London stationiert war und dort einige  ANC-Exilanten und ihre dramatischen Geschichten näher kennen lernte.

mandeladolder2

Charismatisch und diplomatisch: Madiba signiert sein Buch beim Treffen mit der Schweizer Politik und Hochfinanz. Bild: © GMC Photopress/Gerd Müller

Ihre Schilderungen über das brutale und menschenverachtende Vorgehen des Apartheid-Regimes beeindruckten Müller so stark, dass er sich entschloss, selbst ein Bild von der humanitären Lage in Südafrika zu machen.

«Dass die humanitäre Schweiz ein menschenverachtendes und mit UNO-Sanktionen belegtes Regime so lange unterstützte und die UNO-Sanktionen schamlos umging», daran störte sich der Zürcher Fotojournalist Gerd M. Müller gewaltig.

Vor seiner Abreise nach Südafrika kehrte er in die Schweiz zurück, schloss sich der Anti-Apartheid-Bewegung an und half mit bei der Boykott-Kampagne gegen die damalige SBG (UBS), welche das Apartheidregime trotz scharfen Protesten aus dem In- und Ausland weiterhin munter allimentierte und aufmunitionierte, wie Südafrika-Kenner berichteten.

Plakat in Soweto mit der Aufschrift : Zusammen bauen wir eine bessere Zukunft

Zynisch: Mitte der 80er Jahre war im Apartheidsstaat noch keine Hoffnung auf eine gemeinsame Zukunft in Sicht. © Bild: GMC Photopress/Gerd Müller

Die Schweiz pflegte damals schon jahrzehnte lang intensive Kontakte zu Südafrika auf allen Ebenen: wirtschaftlich, militärisch, politisch und finanziell. Die Zusammenarbeit lief wie geschmiert. Pilatus Porter, Waffen und anderes Kriegsmaterial wurden ebenso nach Südafrika geliefert, wie Chemikalien, pharmazeutische Produkte, Medikamente und technisches Bauteile sowie Know how für den Bergbau und Bau von Kernkraftwerken. Unser rohstoffarmes Land war wiederum  besonders an den Rohstoffen sowie Gold- und Diamantenvorkommen interessiert.

«Die Sklavenarbeit in den Minen interessierte damals kein Schwein hierzulande vom Establishment und den Bankgesellen», sagt ein ehemaliger AAB-Aktivst.

Nelson Mandela bat die Schweiz, sich konstruktiv für das neue Südafrika einzusetzen

Nelson Mandela bat die Schweiz im Dolder kurz nach seinem Amtsantritt, sich auch für das neue Südafrika einzusetzen und die Regenbogennation zu unterstützen. Bild: GMC Photopress/Gerd Müller

Die Schweizer Exportwirtschaft geschäftete jahrzehnte lang sehr gut mit dem Apartheidstaat und dem Segen des Bundesrates. Und das bis zu letzt. Natürlich hatte schon damals die Hochfinanz das Sagen in der Politik. Und diese zeigte lange keine Spur von Menschlichkeit oder Gewissensbisse gegenüber der unterdrückten Bevölkerung, die zu Hunderttausenden wie Viehherden umgesiedelt, vom politischen Leben ausgegrenzt und als Menschen 3. Klasse  misshandelt wurde. Tausende verloren ihr Leben, zehntausende wurden inhaftiert und gefoltert, Hunderttausende vertrieben. Die offizielle Schweiz interessierte das nicht. «Die damalige humanitäre Politik befand sich inetwa auf dem Niveau des heutigen China», kommentiert Müller trocken. Oder mit der sarkastischen Feder von Barrigue, einem der bekanntesten Karikaturisten der Westschweiz, ausgedrückt:

Die Entschuldigung der Schweiz aus der Sicht von Barrigue: «Sorry, wir wussten damals nicht, dass Menschenrechte auch für schwarzen Menschen gelten»

UNO-Inspektion in einer Zelle des Pollsmoor Gefängnis in Kapstadt. UN-Inspection in the Pollsmoor jail in Cape town

Über 30 % der Häftlinge im Pollsmoor-Gefängnis waren damals schon HIV positiv. Bild: © GMC/Gerd Müller

Zurück in der Schweiz, trat Müller der Anti-Apartheits-Bewegung (AAB) bei und beteiligte sich an der Kampagne gegen die von hohen Militärs durchsetzte Schweizerische Bankgesellschaft (SBG) – die heutige UBS.

Einige Monate später und weiteren Kontakten zu ANC-Aktivisten, reiste Müller nach Südafrika und lebte einige Monate im Untergrund mit der schwarzen Bevölkerung zusammen. Oft pendelte er mit den Schwarzen im Zug zwischen den Townships hin- und her, da diese ja die Innenstädte Abends immer verlassen und in ihre Elendsviertel zurück gehen oder fahren mussten. Er erlebte hautnah wie die schwarze Bevölkerung in den Townships unter der Apartheidpolitik leidete und der Willkür der Südafrikansichen Polizei (SADF) schutzlos ausgesetzt war;  wie ihre Häuser nachts von den Panzerfahrzeugen einfach niedergewalzt wurden. Wie sie zu Tausenden von ihrem Grund und Boden vertrieben und wie Vieh in die Bantu-Enklaven verfrachtet wurden. Oder im Gefängnis landeten, sobald sie sich gegen die menschenunwürdige Unterdrückung aufmuckten.

Gegen 7000 Häftlinge im hoffnungslos überfüllten Pollsmoor-Jail. Bild: GMC

Gegen 7000 Häftlinge im hoffnungslos überfüllten Pollsmoor-Jail. Bild: GMC

„Zwei Mal sei er nachts beinahe von den gefürchteten SADF-Polizeieinheiten in ihren Panzerfahrzeugen über den Haufen fahren worden. Beim Schusswechsel war es besonders brenzlig“, so Müller.

Als der Staat die Zensurschrauben immer drastischer anzog und auch das katholische Kirchenblatt von Erzbischof Desmond Tutu «The New Nation» verbot, war Müller auf der Redaktion als der zwölfseitige Beschluss des Innenminister eintraf, als erster Weisser sah und darüber in der «WochenZeitung» (WOZ)  berichtete.

Auch die «New Nation wurde

Auch die «New Nation wurde „zum Schweigen verurteilt“ wie Gerd  Müller mit seinen Bildern und dem Faksmile des verhassten Innenministers illustrierte.

Nach der Schliessung der «New Nation» recherchierte Müller weiter bei der Gewerkschaft «Cosatu» und der Frauenbewegung «Black Slash», die beide wie auch die United Democrartic Front (UDF) im «Khotso-House» in Johannesburg domiziliert waren.

Nach einem abenteuerlichen Abstecher zum Okavango-Delta in Botswana kehrte Müller wieder in die Schweiz zurück, doch blieb er in den nächsten Jahren intensiv mit Südafrika verbunden und unternahm zahlreiche weitere Reisen während der Metamorphose vom Apartheidsstaat zur Regenbogennation.

1990 nach der Freilassung Mandela’s traf er den politischen Häftling, der 27 Jahre lang unbeugsam und geduldig hinter Gittern verbracht hat, zum ersten Mal bei einer Kundgebung in Soweto und erlebte wie Madiba mit Besonnenheit seine versöhnlichen Worten an die Adresse der weissen Minderheit und seinen eindrücklichen Apell an die schwarze Mehrheit seiner Landsleute richtete.

Diese unglaublich charismatische Ausstrahlung und Würde, seine warmen und strahlenden Augen und die bedachten Worte hatten etwas magisches, wie ich es zuvor noch nie bei einem Menschen erlebt habe.

MANSIGNmini4

Friedensnobelpreisträger Mandela signiert sein Buch im Dolder in Zürich. Bild: GMC/Gerd Müller

Da sich Müller bei seinen weiteren Südafrika-Reisen auch intensiver mit der Zulu-Kultur auseinander setzte und den Bantu-Schriftsteller und höchsten Zulu-Sangoma Credo Vusama Mutwa kennen lernte sowie jahrelang intensiv mit Südafrika’s Ökopionieren – den Varty-Brüdern und dem Shamwari Game Reserve von Adrian Gardiner und dem Rhinozeros-Retter Dr. Ian Player eng zusammenarbeitete, kam er zu vielen wertvollen Kontakten und übernahm schliesslich für das Südafrikanische Fremdenverkehrsamt  (SATOUR) und die südafrikanische Fluggesellschaft SAA die Kampagnen in der Schweiz.

Darüber hinaus publizierte er in den 90er Jahren Dutzende von Reportagen in fast allen überregionalen Tageszeitungen und in der Sonntagspresse und mutierte zu einer Art Botschafter für das neue Südafrika. Als Nelson Mandela als frisch gekürter und demokratisch gewählter Präsident Südafrika’s seine erste Auslandreise antrat und in die Schweiz kam, war der Zürcher Fotojournalist einer der wenigen Reporter, die von der Südafrikanischen Botschaft zum Treffen mit dem neuen Staatsoberhaupt eingeladen wurde.

Nelson Mandela traf sich im Grand Hotel Dolder in Anwesenheit der südafrikanischen Botschafterin mit ranghohen Bundesvertretern aus Bern vor der versammelten Schweizer Hochfinanz und den Spitzen der Nationalbank, um ihnen zu versichern, dass Südafrika keine Ressentiments gegen die hartnäckige und lang anhaltende Schweizerische Unterstützung der Apartheidspolitik habe und Schweizer Investoren weiterhin am Kap der guten Hoffnung willkommen seien. Ein starkes Signal der Versöhnung sendete die Lichtgestalt der Regenbogennation also auch an die Adresse der Schweiz, von der Südafrika stark abhing.

Mandela bot stets die Hand zur Versöhnung. Auch den Gnomen von der Bahnhofstrasse.

Mandela bot stets die Hand zur Versöhnung. Auch den Gnomen von der Bahnhofstrasse. BIld: GMC

«Man merkte Mandela schon an, dass er sich im Kreis der Schweizer Hochfinanz nicht sehr wohl fühlte und er einige der Herren als verlängerter Arm des Apartheitregimes ansah.  Dennoch breite er seine Arme und seine Güte aus und sein Kalkül ging auf».

Nach seiner Ansprache mischte sich Mandela beim Empfangscocktail unter die Anwesenden und sprach mit höflichen Worten auf die Banker ein. Diese erlebten einen sehr distinguierten, höchst respektvollen und diplomatisch nachsichtig gestimmten Mandela, der es den Bankgesellen und Konsorten gestattete, ihr Gesicht und ihren Einfluss zu wahren. Ein Meisterstück des politischen Kalküls. Über soviel taktisches Feingefühl und staatsmännisches Gespür verfügte die ganze Truppe nicht.

«Ich traute meinen Augen nicht, als sich Mandela aus dem Kreis der Class politique und mit edlem Tuch gekleideten Herren löste und auf mich (diskret im Hintergrund stehend) zukam, da er mich offensichtlich von der ersten flüchtigen Begegnung in Soweto wieder erkannte.»

«Unglaublich, dass Mandela sich überhaupt an mich erinnert oder mein Gesicht wiedererkennt»,  fährt Müller fort, geschweige denn,  dass er hier als Friedens-Nobelpreisträger und erster schwarzer Präsident Südafrika’s «auf mich zukommt. Als wären wir zwei alte Freunde, umarmte er mich in herzlich und raunte mir ein paar Worte zu, die ich nie vergesse: «Erfreulich, so ein vertrautes, menschliches Gesicht und ein Freund Südafrika’s unter all diesen steinernen Masken sehe».

So war Mandela eben, er kümmerte sich immer auch um die einfachen Leute und liess sie spüren, dass er für sie da ist und sich für sie einsetzt. Seine Weisheit, Grossherzigkeit und Prinzipientreue machten ihn zu einem Engel auf Erden. Er war das Gesicht einer menschlicheren und gerechteren Welt. Diese Lichtgestalt hat uns nun verlassen. «Das ist ein grosser Verlust für Südafrika und die ganze Welt», sagt Müller. Denn, ein Ersatz ist noch nicht in Sicht.

Apendix:

Der Zürcher Fotojournalist erlebte auch den blutigen Bürgerkrieg zwischen ANC und IFP während der Metamorphose vom Apartheidstaat zur Regenbogen-Nation , als er sich mit einem Schweizer IKRK-Delegierten ein Bild in den Flüchtlingscamps machte und mit UN-Inspektoren dem berüchtigten Pollsmoor Gefängnis  in Kapstadt einen Besuch abstattete. Mehr dazu in Kürze.

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