Schlagwort-Archive: Vietnam

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

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The youth unrest and political scandals in the 80s

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

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

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

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

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

In the maelstrom of Swiss political scandals

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

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

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

Switzerland as Apartheid Aid to the Boers

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

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

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

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

Attacked by a Guardia Civil special unit

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

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

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

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

Warsaw 86: In pole position behind the Iron Curtain

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

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

A tradition Zulu ceremony seen near Durban. © GMC

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

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

Underground in the fight against apartheid

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

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

Mandela’s release and his visit to Switzerland in 1993

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

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

IKRK-Einsätze im «ANC-IFP» Bürgerkrieg

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

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

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

2011: Gadaffis Milliarden in Zumas und Ramaphos Händen untergetaucht

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

Gupta Leaks: South Africa as prey to Indian klepocrats“

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Namibia: Schweizer Entwicklungshilfe im Reich der Geparde

A cheetha in the namibian Kalahari. © GMC

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

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

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

Mexico: Von Göttern inspiriertes, von Gott beseeltes Reich

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

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

1994: Zeuge Zapatistischer Indio-Aufstände in Chiapas

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

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

Cuba 93: With the socialists who feed on hope

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1997: Hell Trip to the Drug Cartels of Colombia

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

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

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

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

Species extinction through overexploitation: Amazon Cruise with scientists

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Indonesia: Dramatic deforestation and species extinction accepted

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

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

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

Philippines 95: Incredible Spirit Healing Skills

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gujarat 2013: the meeting with Narenda Moodi in Ahmedabad

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lebanon 2006: In the Palestinian Camp „Shatila

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

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

The Persian Poppy Shah and His Diplomatic Drug Princes

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

The Murderous God State and General Qassam Soleimani’s Execution


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

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

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

Species extinctions & pandemics: Will we survive?

A cheetha in the namibian Kalahari. © GMC

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

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

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

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

Floods in Thailand. © GMC

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

South Seas Pearls 1996: At the Gate to Paradise

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

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

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

Morne Brabant in the south of Mauritius Island. © GMC

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

Australia’s fantastic natural paradises and the dirty coal industry

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

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

Australia: Rain forest vegetation on Tasmania Island. © GMC

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

Opal seekers in Coober Pedy: Hope lives underground

Australien: ein Vakuum-Cleaner der Opalmineure. © GMC

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

Maldives 93: First signs of climate change become visible

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

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

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

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

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

Cannabis: Prohibition never worked, medical potential neutered

Marihuanna: Swiss Hemp leaf. © GMC

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

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

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

Abuse of power monopoly & media mistrust

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Laos 2013: River trips in the Golden Triangle and the Mekong Delta

Laos: Around 2000 Monks are collecting food in Luang Prabang every early morning


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 .

First it shoots through the multifaceted jungle face and bizarrely rugged riverbed landscapes, then it meanders another 1000 kilometers through rice-growing flatlands and finally fans out into a delta with 4000 tropical islands. The Mekong is the lifeblood of Indochina and the pulsating lifeline for seven million Laotians. What could be more natural than to explore the charms of Laos on a hotel boat and to drift downstream, contemplating the hustle and bustle of Laotian life. To slow down from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, to look calmly over the iridescent green tones of the jungle or to glide over the shining company-ment and to let the soul dangle.

A trip on the Mekong River near the Golden Triangle is still an adventure today and just as exciting as it was in the days of the first Western explorers, the Frenchmen Lagrée and Garnier, who took two years for their expedition (1866-68). They were still struggling up the river in small outrigger boats against the wild rapids. Numerous jagged rocks, huge sandbanks, rocky gorges, narrow bends and the strongly varying water level, which can rise by several meters within hours, require extreme caution and precise knowledge of all dangerous places from the ship’s captains. At night, the upper reaches of the Mekong River are closed to navigation. It would be too dangerous in the darkness on the river. These are the pitfalls in the dry season. In the rainy season, on the other hand, the river swells rapidly by up to 20 meters.

Then logs weighing tons often shoot downstream at breakneck speed. Even on our short trip, the water level rose by three meters within two days. This was due to heavy rainfall in China and the opening of a dam. No wonder the upper course of the Mekong is one of the most beautiful but also one of the wildest river upper courses in the world. Our captain manages indeed, and sometimes resembling a small miracle, even on the way back downstream in the wake of the rapids, to curve around all the dangerous cliffs and skillfully weave through the narrow passages with the jagged rocks. In the dry season, the bizarre rocky outcrops rise up to above the deck of the boat. In the rainy season, they disappear below the surface of the water.

The river trip begins in the cultural heart of Laos, in the historic center of the city of Luang Prabang, which is situated in the protection of the spur between the Mekong and its tributary Nam Khan in northern Laos at an altitude of about 300 meters and is a trading center for rice, rubber and teak wood and handicraft products made of wood, textiles and paper. Since an international airport was built here, it is also the starting point for tourists coming from Vietnam or Bankok. The number of tourists in the old royal city of Laos is manageable. Between the many backpackers mingle more and more jetsetters who want to see the quiet beauty of Luang Prabang before it gets loud and crowded as in Cambodia or Vietnam.

In 1995, Luang Prabang was declared a Unesco World Heritage Site. 32 Buddhist monasteries and all of the French colonial architecture in the city were listed and have since been restored. Restrictive urban planning is also in place to prevent violations of the unique art-historical character of the city center. Luang Prabang’s urban history is inextricably linked to the history of Laos‘ origins. The political decline of the Sukhothai kingdom in northern Thailand in 1345 and the shift of the political center in Siam to Ayyuuhaya in 1351 also accelerated the need for a political unification process east of the Mekong River. 1365 is generally cited as the founding year of Lang Chang (the Land of a Million Elephants) under Fa Ngum. As a vassal of the Khmer Empire, Fa Ngum had received the Buddha statue Phra Bang as a coronation gift from Angkor. This was venerated in Luang Prabang, which was the capital of the kingdom of Lan Chang between 1354 and 1560, as a sacred statue with a function of legitimizing the rule.

Around 1356, Luang Prabang became a place of pilgrimage for the Phra Bang Buddha statue. Under King Setthatirat, many Buddhist monasteries were built in Luang Prabang in the 16th century. In the course of the Buddhist missionary work, among others, Wat Pasman was built on the site of today’s Wat That Luang as the oldest sacred building in the city. A considerable loss of power for Luang Prabang meant the transfer of the capital to Vientiane, which King Setthatirath had arranged in 1560 out of fear of attacks from Burma. Nevertheless, Luang Prabang remained the cultural center of the country. For more than three centuries, it became a pawn in the struggle between Thai and Burmese for political supremacy between the Irrawaddy and Mekong rivers.

When Laos came into the crosshairs of the power-political rivalry between France and England around 1886, France hoped to reach southern China by sailing up the Mekong River, but the Mekong proved to be unnavigable throughout. Nevertheless, the French were interested in political control of Laos as a strategic safeguard for their colony of Vietnam. Cleverly tactical, France took advantage of the distress in which the Laotians found themselves in the face of raids by Chinese gangs in 1887 and unceremoniously declared the region of Luang Prabang a protectorate of its colony Union Indochinose (1893-1954). In contrast to Vietnam, Laos was not of economic importance to France. Until the middle of the 20th century, Laos and thus also Luang Prabang were strongly influenced by cultural and architectural influences of the colonial power France. Even before France’s devastating defeat at Điện Biên Phủ in 1954, Laos was granted political independence in 1953.

Despite the International Laos Conference in Geneva in 1962, at which the country was granted neutrality, military supplies for the Viet Cong in South Vietnam during the Indochina War passed through Laotian territory along the so-called Ho Chi Minh Trail. Heavy bombing by the U.S. Air Force was the result. The CIA inflicted death and devastation on Laos on an unbelievable scale during the Vietnam War (1965 – 1975); the Americans bombed Laos with over two million tons (fragmentation and napalm bombs as well as the nerve agent „Agent Orange“). More bombs fell on Laos than on Germany and Japan combined in World War 2. Nevertheless, the GI’s did not find the Ho Chi Mingh Trail. The peace-loving Laotians have a 200-year history of conflict with foreign aggressors. Every year, hundreds of people are seriously injured by mines. Defusing squads, mostly women, still search the ground for bombs. The city of Luang Prabang was largely spared the fighting, although units of the communist Pathet Lao organization entrenched themselves north of the city in the Pak-Ou Caves area. In 1975, communist units captured the city.

Luang Brabang is home to over 2500 monks who make pilgrimages through the streets of Luang Prabang every morning shortly after sunrise in their orange robes, taking mild offerings in their pots from the faithful and tourists. Mostly elderly women and tourists, let the procession of monks pass by kneeling and donating to each a handful of rice, some fruits, candies, a few banknotes or other things to live on. What cultural sites and religious treasures are there to discover here? First, there is the Royal Palace (Ho Kham), built between 1904 and 1909, now the National Museum, where the throne of the rulers of the Lan Chang period stand. Then the Vat Xienthong (also Wat Xieng Thong) – a temple complex on the Mekong River, built in 1560 under King Setthathirath and restored in 1960-1962. It was the only temple in the city to survive the looting of 1887 intact. The architectural style with the roof reaching almost to the ground is typical for northern Laos.

A gem is also Vat Visounarath (also called Wat Visoun or Wat Visounarath) is a temple complex located on the southeastern side of Phousi Mountain. King Visounarath founded the monastery in 1512, which was destroyed by Chinese hordes in 1887. Most of the complex was rebuilt in the 20th century. The sim (Lao term for the main building of a wat)from 1898 contains Khmer-style window columns. Inside, since 1942, there is a museum with numerous Buddah statues especially in the rain calling gesture typical of Luang Prabang (standing with overlong arms pointing down parallel to the body).

In addition, there are two other temples: That Makmo (the Watermelon Stupa) donated by Phantin Xieng, the wife of King Visounarath, in 1504, the stupa was rebuilt in 1932, with the precious grave goods transferred to the royal palace. And the Vat Sop stupa in the northeast of the old city, founded as early as 1480 as the funeral temple of King Chakkrapat. Behind Vat Sop, on the street called Thanon Vat Sop, there is a typical Lao Baan residential quarter, where you can get an impression of the everyday life of the locals. Last but not least: Mount Phousi (130 meters high, 328 steps), the topographic accent and spiritual center opposite the Royal Palace with a magnificent view of the city area, the Mekong River as well as the forested mountain landscape in the surrounding area. Then head to the night market at the foot of Phousi in Thanon Sisavangvong, the main street of the old city, handmade textiles, sou-venirs and food are offered daily between the Royal Palace and the cross street Thanon Setthathirat from 6 pm. Many of the women traders belong to the Hmong people, who are known for their high-quality weaving, embroidery and sewing.

In Laos, beyond Theravada Buddhism, there is also ancestor worship and animism, which are still widespread among the many ethnic minorities (Hmong, Khmu, Akha or Lanten) in the mountainous regions in the inadequate north bordering China and Burma. The Hmong, for example, are archaically structured opium clans with magical spirit worlds and mythical powers, who to this day believe in their spirit world, with which they have a lively connection through their opium and canabis consumption. The opium farmers live in the isolated highlands of the Golden Triangle completely self-sufficient and reject any government, as well as modern living structures to this day. They live in dark huts without electricity or heating in the most remote highland regions of Laos, as they did hundreds of years ago, and engage in skirmishes with Laotian government soldiers. But the latter are just as unable to secure the Laotian border as the Vietnamese allies, who engage in skirmishes with the Chinese. The Chinese often get the short end of the stick and are said to have three times as many casualties. The Thais also repeatedly tried to invade Laos and were repulsed by the Vietnamese. Since the generals in Hanoi made it clear to Bankok that they would advance right up to Bankok next time, there has been calm on this front.

The Hmong allied with the Americans in the Vietnam War and supplied the CIA with thousands of tons of raw opium annually for their costly war. Rumor has it that the CIA packed 150,000 tons of raw opium per year into empty ammunition crates and flew them directly to Mexico on the doorstep of the United States using Air America pilots and private charters from the Corsican mafia in Laos, which was heavily involved in the international drug trade. The CIA thus not only financed its dirty war, which cost a billion dollars a day toward its end, but also fueled the opium trade and drug consumption of quite a few U.S. citizens and Mexicans. The irony of history: The top Hmong general lived in Washington and enjoyed the protection of the U.S. government, otherwise he would have long since landed in The Hague. The Hmong exodus has resulted in over 150,000 U.S. emigrants in San Diego. Furthermore, many Hmong also live in French Guiana and are therefore Europeans with French passports.

Laos magical Mekong meander and the 4000 islands.

Afterwards, we will descend by plane from Luang Brabang to the commercial metropolis of Pakse in the south of the country, where the second part of the river journey in the Mekong Delta begins. Here the river landscape looks quite different. Wide river streams, flat land mostly overgrown with rice paddies or sand islands and here and there extensive hill ranges far away on the horizon. The trip is very leisurely and more focused on the life on board. You sunbathe on deck and read a book or listen to music and let the world just glide by. That was then the less exciting but all the more leisurely and relaxing river trip. But also here in the south there is a large temple complex called Vat Phou. However, it is a temple complex built by the Khmer. Not quite as impressive as Ankor Wat in Siam Reap, the capital of Cambodia, which I also visited and was impressed by the colossal Khmer cultural strongholds.

But in the morning we are greeted by elephants taking a dip in the Mekong River. Before they either set off on a tourist safari, silently stalking through the dense jungle along the impressive river landscape, carrying enthusiastic backpackers on their backs, or are needed for work assignments around the village. They are the strongest builders‘ helpers, replacing the crane and the tractor. Under the shouts of the Mahuds, the elephants skillfully pile up the huge logs that they had previously placed in the right position.

In Laos there are also still numerous wild elephants in the inaccessible regions of the north. To this day, between 40 and 60 new species of animals are also discovered there every year. A new species of deer and the largest spider in the world are also among the most amazing discoveries. Unfortunately, due to the destruction of the habitat of flora and fauna, a large number of animal and plant species are threatened with extinction here as well. In 1996, 68 species of mammals, birds reptiles and fish were considered endangered. However, about 14% of the territory is now protected. Forests are threatened primarily by logging, clearing for arable land, and fuel production, with about 8% of the country’s energy needs met by wood. Annual forest loss is estimated at about 300,000 hectares.

Another tourist highlight is the picturesque karst and river landscape around Vang Vien. The Boracay of Indochina, where backpackers get high on grass and opium, is halfway to Laos‘ capital Vientiane, which like Luang Brabang is known as the city of a thousand temples. Here, the sacred That Luang stupa with its chunky gold-plated tower towers above all other religious structures, while on the lowlands near Pakse, Laos‘ economic center, the intricate ruins of ancient Khmer temples can be seen at Vat Phou, the largest Khmer complex outside Cambodia.

In the lowlands of the Mekong near Pakse, where the Mekong Islands await their guests, lie the 4000 tropical islands on the lower reaches of the Mekong. On the largest of them live 30,000 Laotians, who intensively use the fertile alluvial soil for agriculture and also engage in lively fishing. Rice cultivation, fishing and agribusiness have been the most important resources of the country, from which the lowland Laotians have lived quite well. On the smallest Mekong islands and alluvial dunes, on the other hand, there is hardly room for two herons or a palm tree. The Mekong River has already reached a considerable width here and fans out into a wide delta.

So it is no wonder that the market of Pakse, the largest goods transfer point in all of Indochina is. It is unbelievable what there is to see and taste here. Gigantic the abundance and mountains of rice, vegetables, salads, spices, fruits and fine fresh Mekong fish. There are thousands of frogs jumping around in bowls, there are grilled rats and snakes, small puffer fish and all kinds of other specialties. You, dear reader, should see this with your own eyes. After a side trip to the Kuang Si waterfalls, we return to the capital of Laos, Vientianne.

1993 entwickelte sich Vietnam schneller als ein Polaroid

Auszug aus dem Buch

Vietnamese schoolgirls and boys in a secondary school in the north of Vietnam. © GMC

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 viele politische Vorgänge in Krisen-regionen rund um den Globus. Er beleuchtet das Schicksal indigener Völker, zeigt die Zerstörung ihres Lebensraumes auf, rückt ökologische Aspekte und menschenrechtliche Schicksale in den Vordergrund und 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 in einigen Ländern auf und skizziert Ansätze zur Bewältigung des Klimawandels. Pointiert, hintergründig, spannend und erhellend. Eine gelungene Mischung aus globalen Polit-Thrillern, geho-bener 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. Es erwartet Sie eine Reise durch die epochale Vergangenheit und metamorphorische Phasen vieler exotischer Länder rund um den Globus. Nach der Lektüre dieses Buchs zählen Sie zu den kulturell, ökologisch sowie politisch versierten Globetrotter.

Vietnames high school girs at the final celebration in Hanoi. Bild: © GMC

Durch die Kooperation mit Singapore Airlines, die gerade ihren Anfang nahm und dank Chrstina Hollenweger über 15 Jahre lang anhielt, brachte mich nach Vietnam zu einer Zeit, als die kriegsversehrte Nation noch am Boden lag und die Bevöl-kerung noch vor Hunger und Entbehrungen darbte. Doch von da an entwickelte sich Vietnam schneller als ein Polaroid-Foto. Ho-Chi-Mingh hat abgedankt – Honda und Coca Cola sind «in» geworden. Spektakuläre Landschaften, unverbrauchte Res-sourcen, faszinierende, uralte Kulte der Minoritäten und als Kontrast das schnelle Leben der Kinhs in einer turbulenten Aufbruchphase – Vietnam ist ein Land voller Wunder, Wonnen und Widerspenstigkeiten auf dem Weg zwischen gespenstischer Vergangenheit und hoffnungsgeladener Zukunft.

In den Strassen Saigons, dem heutigen Ho-Chi-Mingh City, spielte sich der verrückteste Tanz auf zwei Rädern ab, den man sich vorstellen kann: Tausende von Moped-FahrerInnen brausen oft mit der ganzen Familie, also auch schon Mal zu Viert kreuz und quer, hupend und knatternd durch die Strassen und auf die Kreuzungen zu, verweben sich dort zu einem dichten Knäuel, quetschen und quengeln sich durch den verqueren Richtungs-strom und stieben kurz darauf wieder wie ein FIschschwarm auseinander. Halsbrecherische Manöver sind die einzige Ordnung und verlässliche Konstante in diesem Verkehrschaos. Wer sich nicht selbst auf so ein gemietetes Moped wagt, kann sich von einem Cyclo-Fahrer durch die Strassen kutschieren lassen.

Vietnam: Tons of CO2-emmissions every day are polluting the air in Ho Chi Mingh City

Der Mobilitätswahn signalisierte damals die ungezügelte Aufbruchstimmung und spiegelte den «song voi», das schnelle Leben wieder,  dass die Bewohner von «Motorroller City» wie ein Fieber ergriffen hatte. Für Vietnams Jugend, die den zähen und blutigen Befreiungskampf nur noch aus den Schulbüchern kennt, sind Coca Cola, Hamburger und Honda wichtiger als Ho Chi Minghs Revolution. Frech geschminkte Mädchen in knallengen Jeans, glutroten Cocktailkleidern oder dottergelben Hot Pants, allesamt auf High Heels stolz durch die Strassen stolzierend, verkörperten den westlich orientierten Trend und kontrastierten das Bild traditionell gekleideter Frauen im blütenweissen, halbdurchsichtigen «ao dais» mit flatternden Haaren  wie Feen auf ihren Fahrrädern über den glühenden Asphalt hinweg glitten.

Durch die «Doi-Moi-Politik», die vietnamesische Perestroika Richtung Marktsozialismus, hat die Metamorphose vom abgehalftertem Kommunismus zum hemmungslosen Konsum rasend beschleunigt und im Land des aufsteigenden Drachens eine gewaltige unternehmerische Energie entfacht. Die Machtelite visierte damals bis zum Jahr 2000 den Beitritt zum Kreis der «asiatischen Tiger» zu schaffen und den Tourismus mächtig ankurbeln zu können. Und sie schafften beides.

Vietnamese ricefarmer working in the ricefields in the Mekong Delta.

Ho-Chi-Mingh-City und Hanoi tickten damals komplett anders und unterschieden sich wie Tag und Nacht. In der 1600 Kilometer nördlich von Ho-Chi-Mingh-City gelegenen Machtmetropole der kommunistischen Partei, spielte sich das Leben weitaus gemütlicher und beschaulicher ab, gedieh die neue Freiheit verhaltender und auch das Klima wahr angenehmer. Der Einfluss der Franzosen, die Hanoi 1883 zur Verwaltungsstadt von Tonkin und später von ganz Indochina erklärten, ist noch immer deutlich zu sehen und das nicht nur anhand der französischen Baguettes, die in Vietnam Tradition haben, sondern vereinzelt auch noch an den alten Kolonialstilbauten, welche das Savoir vivre der Franzosen und ihren Boheme-Einfluss auf die Kultur, die Malerei und die Infrastruktur wiederspiegelten und wenig mit der hektischen, freisinnigen Vitalität des Südens zu tun hatte. Aber natürlich hat auch hier der Dollar den Dong in eine blosse Zuschauerrolle gedrängt.

Zwischen den beiden Metroplen liegen die mystischen Welten der Bergvölker, wie die der Thai, der Khmer, Kohor und der Halbnomanden, den Hmong. Die 53 Minoritäten stellen zusammen zwar nur 10 Prozent der Bevölkerung der Kinh, wie sich die VietamesInnen selbst nennen, aber sie bewohnten damals fast siebzig Prozent der vietnamesischen Landoberfläche. Ausser der Region Lang Bien bei Dalat, wo sich am Fusse des Nui Baz (Frauenberg). In der «verbotenen Gegend» des gebirgigen Hinterlandes, eines der letzten Matriarchate verbirgt, gab es noch weitere Sperrbezirke für Ausländer entlang der chinesischen Grenze.

Die Hauptachsen vom Mekong Delta über Saigon nach Dalat im südvietamesischen Hochplateau und via dem Badeferienort Nha Trang bis zur alten Kaiserstadt Hue hoch waren dank den Amerikanern gut ausgebaut, die Strasse nach dem Wolkenpass bis nach Hanoi hingegen katastrophal, als wäre sie mit einem Bombenteppich überzogen worden, was ja auch stimmt. Zudem sind die Passstrassen ins Hochland in der Regenzeit oft unpassierbar.

Traumhaft: The Nam Hai Resort Hotel, Mitglied der Leading Hotels of the World, Bild: © GMC

Zu den touristischen Highlights gehörten: Da Lat, das «Valle d‘amour» der Hochzeitspärchen, der Ferienort der reichen aus dem damaligen Saigon und davor für die Franzosen. Ein schmuckes, melancholisch verträumtes Städtchen, mit gediegenen provenzialischen Kolonialstilhäusern und um den Seufzer-See, eingebettet in die Hügelzüge mit smaragdgrünen Reisterrassen, Gemüsefeldern, Reben, Kaffe- und Teeplantagen. Die Temperatur ist auch im Sommer moderat, das Klima angenehm kühl, wie in einem Schweizer Bergkurort.

Ferner: Der Badeferienort Nha Trang, ein quirliger Badeferienort, der mit einem malerischen Fischer-hafen, einer idyllischen Küsten- und Flusslandschaft, den Cham-Tempeln von Po Nagar (aus dem 7. Nis 12. Jahrhundert) sowie mit feinen französischen Strassencafés, schwülen Nachtclubs und ausgezeichneten Hotels sowie alle Facetten kultureller und touristischer Anreize. Auch Hue die Kaiserstadt am Parfümfluss mit den verbotenen Palästen, turmhohen Pagoden und prächtigen Boulevards zählt zu den schönsten Reisezielen Vietnams. Wer auch den Norden Vietnams bereist, sollte eine Schifffahrt durch die Halong Bay im Golf von Tonkin machen. Hast du die Bucht des herabsteigenden Drachens nicht besucht, hast du Vietnam nicht gesehen, flötet die bildhübsche Auflugsagentin Thuy (was klares Wasser bedeutet). Eine Fahrt auf einer Dschunke durch die mit 3000 steil aus dem Meer ragenden Felsnadeln gespickte Bucht, fühlt sich an wie ein kleines Piratenabenteuer.

Zwar war die Prostitution schon seit den Tagen von Madame Nhu, der ebenso schlitzäugigen wie schlitzohrigen Schwägerin des Präsidenten Diems, gesetzlich verboten, das änderte aber damals nichts daran, dass mehr als eine halbe Million Frauen und minderjährige Mädchen die Bars und Bordelle Südvietnams bevölkerten und man überall viele dieser con gai sah. Mit dem wirtschaftlichen Aufschwung und dem Zustrom devisenkräftiger Ausländer war die Prostitution wieder stark angestiegen. Das lebhafte Interesse und betörende Lachen einer Phu Nu Viet Nam könnten also auch von rein geschäftlicher Natur her gerührt haben. Vielen ging es wohl ums nackte Überleben zur Linderung der Armut und des Hungers. Denn selbst Mädchen im zarten Alter scheuten sich nicht mir ihre Schwester feilzubieten. Wie das zu dem konfuzianischen Weltbild passte, war mir nicht klar.

Handkehrum gab es bereits in der Dong-Son Kultur (700 bis 257 v. Chr.) etablierte sich fortan zusehends eine matriarchalisch dominierte Gesellschaft, die bekannt für ihre freizügigen Sitten und den konfuzianisch patriarchalisch eingefleischten Chinesen ein steter Dorn im Auge als auch die Ursache vieler Kriege. Die Vermutung, dass es die selbstbewussten und emanzipierten Frauen Vietnams sich nicht nur das gleiche Recht wie die Männer heraus nahmen, wobei auch die Inanspruchnahme von Liebesdiensten fast zum guten Ton gehörte, wurde weder bestätigt noch dementiert.

Weise sprach Konfuzius: «Mit Frauen und Untertanen umzugehen ist äusserst schwierig». Um die Schwierigkeiten zu verringern, ersann der chinesische Philosoph drei patriarchalische Regeln, die lange Bestand hatten. Die Frau hat sich als Mädchen, dem Vater, als Ehefau dem Mann und als Witwe dem ältesten Sohn unterzuordnen. Der Mann aber hatte alle Freiheiten, er durfte seine Frau verstossen und seine Töchter verkaufen. Dergestalt patriarchalische Vorstellungen kamen in der vietnamesischen Gesellschaft schlecht an. Auch wenn der Konfuzianismus rund hundert Jahre vor dem Christentum in Vietnam ankam und den Ahnenkult verdrängte, vermochte sich er die seit der Dong-Son Kultur etablierte Matriarchat nicht beseitigen.

Kurz nach Christi Geburt stellten sich die Trung Schwestern an der Spitze des Lac-Heeres und – auf ihren Kampf-elefanten – den Feinden entgegen. Trotz Heldinnen hafter Gegenwehr wurden sie schliesslich besiegt. Aber statt vor dem nach Rache dürstenden Gegner zu kapitulieren, gingen sie lieber in den Fluten des Roten Flusses unter, als sich dem übermächtigen Gegner zu ergeben. So werden die Hai-Ba Trung Schwestern bis heute als Heldinnen verehrt. Das machte sie auch für mich begehrt und so beschloss ich, in eines dieser Matriarchate zu gelangen, die sich ja in einem für Ausländer gesperrten Bezirk befanden. Mit Hilfe eines in Saigon lebenden Schweizers, der einen vietnamesichen Journalisten kannte, der wiederum Kontakte zu Medienschaffenden in einem dieser Gebiete pflegte, gelangte ich schliesslich im Kofferraum des lokalen Radioteams versteckt in das Matriarchat und am Ende des Tages auf dem gleichen Weg auch so wieder heraus.

Dazwischen standen spannende Stunden am Fusse des Nui Baz. Da und dort ragten die spitzen Strohhüte der Bäuerinnen über die Bepflanzung hinaus, bewegten sich rythmisch vorwärts und mit riesigen Heuballen beladene Frauen stapften breitbeinig über die dampfende Erde an uns vorbei. Unübersehbare Schilder mahnten uns unmissverständlich (wenn man vietnamesisch konnte), dass wir uns hier in Lang Bien in einer «verbotenen Zone» befänden. Bei unserer Ankunft im Dorf wurden wir kaum beachtet. Üblicherweise strömte das ganze Dorf zusammen und du wirst von einer Kinderschar umringt, die nach Bonbons betteln.

Hier interessanterweise nicht. Wir wandten uns an einen alten Mann, der im kühlen Schatten eines Tamarindenbaumes bei ein paar spielenden Kindern sass und fragten ihn nach dem oder der Dorfälteste/n, worauf er sich erhob und uns zu einer Hütte führte, die einzig von glimmenden Holzstücken beleuchtet wird, worauf erst vier Frauen mit mongolischen Gesichtern den dunklen Raum betraten, ein tönernes Gefäss vor unsere Füsse stellten und uns zum Trinken aufforderten. Schwerer, süsslicher Wein rannte durch unsere Kehlen, der eher schon ein alkoholischen Dicksaft glich.

Dann kommt das Gespräch über ihre Bräuche in Gang. Ihre Dorfgemeinschaft umfasst rund 35 Familien und über 300 Seelen. Wir kommen gleich zur Sache und wollen mehr über die matriarchalischen Strukturen wissen. Mit grosser Selbstverständlichkeit erzählen sie, dass hier die Frauen einen Mann aussuchen und dessen Familie um die Hand des Auserwählten bitten; dass der Mann nach der Heirat den Namen der Frau annimmt und in ihr Haus einzieht; dass das Erbe beim Tod der Frau an die älteste Tochter übergeht und dass der Witwer oft von der ältesten Schwester der Verstorbenen geheiratet wird. Will er dies nicht, muss er auf dem Grab seiner Frau einen Baum pflanzen und 13 Monate abwarten, bis er sich wieder vermählen darf.

Dass im Matriarchat nicht unbedingt alles viel idyllischer zugehen muss, als in männerdominierten Gesellschaften, zeigt sich an einem brutalen Brautschau-Wettkampf, dem erst französische Missionare ein Ende setzten. Begehrten zwei Frauen brennenden Herzens ein und denselben Mann, kam es unter Aufsicht der Dorfältesten zu einem brutalen Machtkampf. Die Frauen mussten ihre Köpfe tief ins Wasser des Dorfbaches strecken und die, die länger unten blieb, hatte gewonnen. Die Verliererin ihr Leben verwirkt. Es war also eine Entscheidung und ein Kampf auf Leben und Tod. Und so kam es auch vor, dass sich eine der Frauen angesichts einer langatmigeren Konkurrentin auf verlorendem Posten sahen, ihr Haar unter Wasser an einer Baumwurzel verknüpfte, um nicht früher als die Konkurrentin aufzutauchen und so einen wenngleich todbringenden Sieg errang. Denn die Verliererin wurde ja ebenfalls in den Tod geschickt. So musste der Bräutigam wieder auf Brautschau.

Bei den Bang-Tin, Lin-Hot und Chinh-Lah, wie die meisten Familien heissen, haben die Frauen zwar das Sagen, aber sie verrichten auch die Hauptarbeit im Haushalt auf dem Feld und bei der Kindererziehung. Die Männer führen im Vergleich ein geradezu feudales Leben. Ihre Arbeit beschränkt sich auf den Hausbau und Ausbau der Wasserleitungen. Daneben bleibt ihnen viel Zeit zum Spielen und Tratschen. Wichtige Entscheide in der Familie und im Geschäft, bei der Verwaltung des Geldes sowie bei der Familienfürsorge sind aber unbestrittene Domänen der Frauen. Wenn die starken Lat-Frauen von Lang Bien auch nicht die Gesellschaftsordnung von Onkel Ho(dessen Name der Aufklärende bedeutet), anerkannten, so waren sie mit seinen Worten an die starken Frauen Vietnams einverstanden: «Anh huug, bat khuat, trung han, dam dang» – Die vietnamesische Heldin kämpft unerbittlich, patriotisch und standhaft bis zur Selbstaufgabe.

Wie hat Ihnen die Story gefallen? Ich freue mich auf Ihre Kritik und Ihren Kommentar oder weitere interessante Details.

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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 einen Beitrag spenden wollen, melden Sie sich bitte per Mail bei mir gmc1(at) Vielen Dank im Namen der Empfänger/innen.

Kapitelübersicht der Auszüge aus dem Buch des Zürcher Fotojournalisten Gerd Michael Müller


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.


Die Jugendunruhen und Politskandale zu Beginn der 80er Jahre     
Im Strudel Schweizer Politskandale 


Stationär im Sengegal, in Polen und in London                                                         

Südafrika: Im Kampf gegen die Apartheid im Untergrund    

Apartheid: Das rabenschwarze Kapitel der Schweiz         


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


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


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

Malediven 93: Die ersten Anzeichen des Klimawandels

Auszug aus dem Buch des Zürcher Fotojournalisten Gerd Michael Müller


Dieses 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 viele politische Hot-Spots und Krisenregionen. Er beleuchtet das Schicksal der indigenen Völker, zeigt die Zerstörung ihres Lebensraumes auf und rückt ökologische Aspekte und menschenrechtliche Schicksale in den Vordergrund. Er prangert den masslosen Konsum und die gnadenlose Ausbeutung der Resourcen an, zeigt die Schmetterlingseffekte der Hedge Funds und Auswirkungen wirtschaftlicher, gesellschaftlicher und politischer Prozesse auf und skizziert Ansätze zur Bewältigung des Klimawandels. Sein Buch ist eine spannende Mischung aus gehobener Reiseliteratur und globalem Polit-Thriller, gespickt mit abenteuerlichen Geschichten – den Highlights seines abenteuerlich wilden Nomaden-Lebens für die Reportage-Fotografie eben.

Malediven 93: Erste Anzeichen des Klimawandels sichtbar

Die Touristen relaxen, die Inselbewohner schichten Sandsäcke gegen die Erosion auf.

Via Sri Lanka, dass ich zehn Tage lang auf einer kulturellen Rundreise kennenlernte und mit zahlreichen Besuchen in Ayurveda-Kliniken garnierte, um mehr über das 3000 jährige Gesundheitswissen zu erfahren, gelangte ich in die Malediven. Dank der grossen Entfernung zum Kontinent als auch die gigantischen insularen Distanzen von 764 km Länge und 128 km Breite, konnte sich das Inselreich dem Zugriff der Kolonialmächte entziehen. Das Staats-gebiet des Inselreichs umfasst 90’000qkm  und beherbergt über 1300 Islande. Den grössten Einfluss übten die Araber auf die Dhivehi-Insulaner aus. Die Islamisierung begann bereits im Jahre 1153, als der buddhistische König Kalamaninja zum Islam bekehrte. Die Kalamaninja Dynastie währte 148 Jahre und regierte mit 15 Sultanen. Weitere 78 Sultane folgten in der über 800 jährigen Geschichte der Malediven.

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 ragende Atoll gegen die Brandung ab. Farben-prächtige 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: Ein fragiles Ökosystem, das insbesondere durch den Tourismus gefährdet ist. Ein Inselreich, das durch die globale Klimaerwärmung und den Anstieg des Meeresspiegels bereits in den frühen 90er Jahren sichtbar in seiner Existenz bedroht und wohl unwiderruflich dem Untergang geweiht ist. 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.

Auf Ihuru. sah ich damals schon, wie die einheimischen Fischer Schiffsladungen von Sandsäcken heranführten und am Strand Wälle gegen die Erosion aufschichteten. Dies führte mir vor fast 30 Jahren vor Augen, dass es einen Klimawandel gibt, der noch als «El-Nino-Effekt» heruntergespielt wurde. Doch mit zunehmender Erkenntnis über die zunehmenden Erkenntnis über die weltweite Gletscherschmelze und dass damit der Meeresspiegel ansteigen und die klimaentscheidende Atlantikwalze abrupt abreissen werde, publizierte ich mehrere Berichte und Kommentare in Schweizer Tageszeitungen. Damals schon zeichnete sich die globale Erwärmung ab, die dann vier Jahre später im ersten «IPPC»-Bericht ausführlich und wissens-chaftlich fundiert dargelegt wurde. Der «El nino Effekt» zerstörte 1993 die submarine Korallenwelt der Malediven dramatisch. Sie bleichte aus und starb weitgehend ab. Zum Glück erlebte ich die unglaubliche Farbenpracht der schillernden Weichkorallengärten noch bei meinen ersten Tauchgängen auf Ihuru und Rihiveli sowie auf den Schwesterinseln «Dighofinolu »und «Veliganda Hura». Vier Jahre später reiste ich ins Ari Atoll zur Insel Makafushi und nahm an einer Frachterversenkung teil, mit der wieder ein künstliches Korallenriff geschaffen werden sollte. Doch das alles sind Tropfen auf einen heissen Stein und so werden die Malediven in weniger als 50 Jahren wieder in den Fluten untergehen und als versunkenes Inselatoll in Erinnerung bleiben.

1992 an der Konferenz in Rio für nachhaltige Entwicklung war der Tourismus noch kein Thema. Doch das änderte sich danach rasch durch das globale Flugverkehrswachstum. 1994 publizierte das «World Travel and Tourism Council» (WTTC) und die «World Tourism Organization» (WTO) gemeinsam mit dem «Earth Council» die «Agenda 21» für die Reise und Tourismusindustrie» und wandten sich mit einem Appell an die Vereinten Nationen, die «Agenda 21» besser zu verankern.  Doch erst im April 1999 legte die Kommission ein erstes Vier-Jahresprogramm über «Tourismus und Nachhaltige Entwicklung» vor. In der Zwischenzeit entstand eine Flut von Öko-Gütelsiegel und Öko-Zertifizierungen und auch die CO2-Kompensationsmodelle wie  «My Climate» beim Fliegen, die alle eine Art ökologische Unbedenklichkeitsbescheinigung ausstellen, was reel betrachte natürlich keineswegs der Fall ist.

1992 an der Konferenz in Rio für nachhaltige Entwicklung war der Tourismus noch kein Thema. Das änderte sich zwar danach rasch einmal durch das globale Wachstum. 1994 publizierte das «World Travel and Tourism Council» (WTTC) und die «World Tourism Organization» (WTO) gemeinsam mit dem «Earth Council» die «Agenda 21 für die Reise und Tourismusindustrie» und wandten sich mit einem Appell an die Vereinten Nationen, die Agenda 21 besser zu verankern.

Doch erst im April 1999 legte die Kommission ein erstes Vier-Jahresprogramm über «Tourismus und Nachhaltige Entwicklung» vor. In der Zwischenzeit entstand eine Flut von Öko-Gütelsiegel und Öko Zertifizierungen und auch die CO2-Kompensationsmodelle wie  «My Climate» beim Fliegen, die alle eine Art ökologische Unbedenklichkeitsbescheinigung ausstellen, was natürlich keineswegs der Fall ist. Das beste beziehungsweise übelste Beispiel ist die Schweiz. Sie weist eine gute Klimabilanz auf, aber nur, weil wir all unsere dreckigen Prozesse ins Ausland verlagert und den CO2-Ausstoss kompensieren. In Tat und Wahrheit ist unser Fussabdruck der viertgrösste weltweit. So kann das Wachstum und der Konsum micht mehr weitergehen.

Links zu einigen Publikationen über die Malediven

Ein Requiem aufs Korallenriff (Solothurner Ztg.)

Die Ökozeitbombe tickt und tickt (AT/BT)                     

Ein Requiem aufs Korallenriff (Solothurner Zeitung)   

Vom Anfang bis zum Ende in nur 100 Jahren (St. Galler Tagblatt)

Borneo 96: Mit handicapiertem Orang Utan durch den Urwald pirschend

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 gefährtet. 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 durch den Schweizer Umwelt- und Menschenrecht-Aktivisten Bruno Manser geworden, der sich vehement für die Ureinwohner des Regenwaldes, die einstigen Kopfjäger, eingesetzt hat und dann spurlos verschwand und möglicherweise von der „Holzmafia“ ermordet wurde, denen er ein Dorn im Auge war.

1996 ging die Reise nach Malaysia zur Feier der 50 jährigen Unabhängigkeit von der britischen Krone und nach der Staatsfeier mit allen asiatischen Staatschefs flog ich nach Borneo und landete in Sarawak. Ziel war es, die Situation der Waldrodung für die Palmölgewinnung und die Lage der Orang Utan, deren Lebensraum zerstört wurde, zu erkunden. Beim Lake Batang Ai» startete ich die Expedition in den Regenwald und mietete einen Führer mit Einbaumboot der mich zu den hier lebenden Iban Headhunters, also zu den Kopfjägern führen sollte. Nach zwei Tagesreisen vom Lake Batang Ai aus mit einem Kanu Flussaufwärts durch das Meer der schwimmenden Tropenstämme, landete ich dann in so einem Langhaus-Dorf. Diese Langhäuser sind auf Stelzen gebaut, bis zu 100 Meter lang und haben einen durchgehenden breiten Gang der zur Längsveranda führt. Im Langhaus ist dann eine Wohnung neben der anderen angereiht. Damit jeder weiss, was der andere der Sippe macht.

Leider war es sehr umständlich, mit den Headhuntern Gespräche über ihre Traditionen und Lebensweise zu führen, da niemand Englisch verstand. Also ging alles nur über Beobachten und eine «Low-level»-Kommunikation. Zudem erkrankte ich an Malaria, die mich komplett flach legte. Zwar hatte ich einige «Lariam»-Tabletten geschluckt, aber es ging mir immer noch sehr schlecht. Von Fieberkrämpfen geschüttelt und schachmatt. Nach drei Tagen im «Longhaus» der Kopfjäger herumliegend, fuhr ich mit dem Einbaum retour zu einem Dschungelcamp, das über eine Funkstation verfügte. Dort versuchte ich mit der Schweiz eine 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, weil es dort mitten in der Nacht war, sagte ich nur kurz, dass ich mich verabschieden wolle, weil ich die Nacht wohl nicht mehr 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 und stickigen Bretterbude, in der man mich einquartiert hatte.

Was nun geschah war einzigartig und fuhr mir fundamental ein. Ob es nur Halunzinationen waren oder ob ich tatsächlich von der Himmelfahrt zurückgeholt wurde, ist bis heute nicht klar. Jedenfalls sah ich rein optisch schon die Sterne mit kometenhaft rasender Geschwindigkeit auf mich zukommen und fühlte mich schwerelos in den Orbit hoch gezogen. Ich fühlte mich wie das Raumschiff «Enterprise», das mit Lichtgeschwindigkeit durch den Orbit düste. Da die Sterne ja nicht auf mich zukommen können, wurde mir klar, dass ich entweder abgehoben bin und nun mit Lichtgeschwindigkeit dem funkelnden Firmament entgegen raste oder mein Astralkörper seine Mätzchen mit meinem fiebernden Hirn treibt und die Reise zu den Sternen nur eine geistige Vision, ulta spannend und wahrlich erleuchtend war. Da erscholl ein Schrei und ein Kreischen in meinen Ohren und ich hörte meine Tochter und ihre Mutter in entsetzten Tönen heulen, verstand aber kein Wort. „Was zum Teufel wollen die denn hier oben“, dachte ich einen Moment lang und dann beschäftigte mich die Stimme meiner kleinen Tochter so sehr, dass mein Lichtgeschwindigkeit-Flug zu den Sternen jäh an Fahrt verlor und ich eine Schlaufe zurück zur Erde vollzog und mir sagte, dass die Zeit, abzutreten, noch nicht gekommen ist, da es ja zwei Menschen gibt, die mich brauchen. Also schluckte ich noch drei «Lariam»-Tabletten und hatte nun die Dosis für einen Elefanten erreicht, wie mir ein Tropenmediziner einige Tage später sagte. Doch ging es danach langsam wieder bergauf.

Mit Hilfe der Dschungelcamp-Bewohner kam ich wieder auf die Füsse und reiste weiter nach Kota Kinabalu zur Orang Utan Rehabilitationsstation in Sepilok und kam gerade zur rechten Zeit, weil um 11.00 Uhr die Fütterung der Orang Utan von einer Plattform ungefähr zwei Kilometer weiter im Waldesinnern stattfand. Zwei Touristengruppen waren schon vor mir auf dem Holzsteg losmarschiert, der gut zwei Meter über Boden in den Regenwald zur grossen Besucherplattform und den dahinter befindlichen zwei Fütterungsplätze in den Bäumen rein führte. Als ich mit meinem Teleobjektiv langsam auf die Szenerie zukomme und die jungen Orang Utans auf den Fütterungsplätzen, als auch den ausgewachsenen Orang Utan an dem Drahtseil hängend erkenne, das zwischen den beiden Fütterungsplätzen gespannt war, hörte ich auch die Rufe einzelner Besucher, die den grossen Orang Utan dazu bewegen wollten, sich umzudrehen, da er uns allen nur seinen Hintern entgegen reckte. Die vereinzelten Rufe waren vergeblich. Als Fotograf war ich ebenfalls interessiert, dass der fette Kerl uns sein Antlitz zeigt. So stiess ich ein paar laute Grunzlaute aus, wie ich sie schon gehört hatte und traf offenbar den richtigen Ton. Und siehe da, im Nu drehte sich der Orang Utan um und sah neugierig zu uns rüber. Perfekt: „Ready fürs Foto-Shooting!“

Danach blieb ich noch eine Weile, sah zu wie die Babies ihre Nahrung bekamen und verschlangen und dann wieder abrupt in den Bäumen verschwanden. Doch vor Ort wollte ich nach der Fütterung vor den anderen wieder zurück in der Reha-Station sein und machte mich etwas früher 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 den Durchgang blockierte, packte er mich am Unterschenkel. Was sollte ich tun? Als ich seine Hand, die mein Bein umklammerte, sachte lösen wollte, nahm er mich einfach bei der Hand also am Handgelenk, worauf wir beide, der junge Orang Utan und der immer noch fiebernde und verschwitze Fotograf Hand in Hand bis zur Station liefen. Das war ein herrliches Gefühl. Der Orang Utan hätte mih gleich mit hinauf in die Baumkronen zu seinen Kumpanen mitnehmen können. Das ging zwar nicht, dafür hatte ich aber einen verdammt guten Approach in der Reha-Station, als wir immer noch Hand in Hand wie gute Freunde dort eintrafen, um mit dem Stations-Leiter zu sprechen. Also ich wenigstens, ob der Orang Utan auch mit ihm sprach, entzieht sich meiner Kenntnis. Die Reportage über die «bedrohten» Menschenaffen kam in den Schweizer Medien gut an und nebst den sieben Tageszeitungen, die den Bericht abdruckten, publizierte auch der «Brückenbauer» damals die Story mit einem Spendenaufruf, worauf einige zehntausend Franken zusammen und der Orang Utan Reha Station in Sepilok zu Gute kamen.

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. Ein erschossener Orang Utan in Raja wurde näher untersucht und von den Wissenschaftlern als neue Art eingestuft. Sie wird zugleich aber auch die Art sein, die am schnellsten wieder verschwunden sein wird. Die geschätzten 800 Primaten sind wie auf Borneo auch von Palmölplantagen, Waldrodungen, Zersiedlung und von einem Staudamm-Projekt betroffen. Und nicht nur sie sterben lautlos aus.  Eine Million Arten sind in den nächsten Jahrzehnten vom Aussterben bedroht. Das ist das vernichtende 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 beabsichtigt gerade mit Indonesien ein Wirtschaftsabkommen zu schliessen und setzt dabei im Abkommen auf «RSPO»-Standards, die in Zusammenarbeit mit Unternehmen, Umweltorganisationen und Hilfswerken entstanden war. Gemäss dem Verordnungsentwurf würden Zertifizierungen nach vier Standards geprüft. Neben dem «Round table on sustainabel Palm Oil» (RSPO) der «Standard ISCC Plus» (International Sustainability and Carbon Certification) und die sogenannte «POIG» (Palm Oil Innovation Group). Doch damit werden weder die Abholzung noch Staudamm-Projekte gestoppt und auch der Lebensraum der Orang Utan und vieler anderer Spezies ist dem Untergang geweiht. Ein Abkommen mit Nachhaltigkeitszielen ist zwar ein Fortschritt, ändert aber leider nichts an der Tatsache, dass der Raubbau weiter geht und es zu wenig Schutzgebiete gibt.

Der Bedarf an Palmöl ist extrem gestiegen. Entsprechend wuchs die Anbaufläche, die nur durch 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 verdoppeln. Auf der Insel Borneo gehen 50 Prozent der Rodungen auf den Palmölanbau zurück. Im viel grösseren Indonesien sind es auch schon 20 Prozent. Es gibt zwar auch positive Anzeichen der RSPO-Zertifizierung, doch das Gros der Betriebe handeln nach dem Prinzip der Okonomie der Grösse (70 Prozent) und nur ein Drittel werden über Kleinbauern und Kooperativen angebaut. Damit bleibt das weitere Zerstörungspotential eminent hoch.

Philippines 95: Unglaubliche Geistheiler-Fähigkeiten

Bei einer zweiten Reise in die Philippinen leistete ich mir erst eine Schiffsreise zur Erkundung der Insel Palawan, Busuanga Island und den Coron Inseln zu machen und hernach philippinische Geistheiler in Luzon aufzusuchen. Denn vor einem halben Jahr kam ein knapp 25 jähriger Heiler in die Schweiz und nach Deutschland, der offensichtlich schon Kultstatus hatte. Jedenfalls warteten damals in Zürich gewiss drei Dutzend Personen auf eine kurze Session mit dem Geistheiler. Der Reihe nach fanden sich die Personen in einem abgedunkelten Raum ein und sagten dem in Trance befindlichen Geistheiler kurz ihr Anliegen, worauf er sie untersuchte und 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 philippischen Geistheilern wird nachgesagt, dass sie die Fähigkeit haben, ihre Finger beim Eintauchen zu entmaterialisieren und so mit dem Körpergewebe zu verschmelzen. Ob man daran und an ihre Fähigkeit Krebstumore zu entfernen glauben mag ist die eine Sache, was ich gesehen habe eine andere. Doch seine Finger, die er tief in das Fleisch reinschob, wurden sogleich unsichtbar sich unter der Hautoberfläche und verschmolzen mit dem Gewebe. Es waren keine Fingerspitzen oder kuppen mehr zu sehen, nur der Fingeransatz über der Hautoberfläche blieb ersichtlich. Ich konnte mir das von oben und seitlich von ganz nah anschauen, so unglaublich es war. 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 und nur zwei Mal bei zwei Geistheiler, dem in der Schweiz und eben dem hier in Luzon gesehen. Seither nehme ich die Welt mit anderen Augen und Sensoren wahr.

Dieses spirituelle Handwerk faszinierte mich derart, dass ich mich zuvor in Zürich ohne zu zögern in eine Session begab. Mein Anliegen war der starke chronische Husten infolge exesievem Rauchens. Also drang er erst mit der Hand in meinen Kehlkopf ein, dann als er in meine Brust eindrang, spürte ich einen leichten Spreizdruck auf den Rippen, aber nicht schmerzhaft und zum Schluss spürte ich seine Hände auch noch in meine Bauchhöhle eintauchen. Bei vollem Bewusstsein sah ich zu, wie seine Finger in der klaffenden Wunde verschwanden. Einfach unglaublich die Fähigkeiten dieses jungen spirituellen Geistheiler, der seine Magie direkt von der „Jungfrau Maria“ gespendet erhält, wie er sagte. Aber das verrückteste ist, dass sich der Husten augenblicklich in Luft auflöste, die Lungenfunktion beträchtlich besser war und dieser Zustand gewiss drei, vier Monate anhielt!

Auch bei Roberta, der Mutter meiner Tochter, die einen Krebsabstrich mit einem PAP3 Befund in der Schwangerschaft hatte und deshalb den Heiler aufsuchte, regenerierte sich und die Krebszellen nach dieser Session. Kein Mensch würde mir die Story glauben, wenn ich nicht einige Beweisfotos dieser OP-Schnitte und manuellen, spirituellen Eingriffe gemacht hätte. Das war so faszinierend, dass ich mehr über die Heiler-Methoden der philippinischen Geistheiler auf der Insel Luzon in Erfahrung bringen wollte und dort hin fuhr. Nach längerem Herumfragen fand ich dort dann einen weiteren Geistheiler, der auch westliche Touristen behandelte. Es hatte sich ähnlich, wie bei Ayurveda in Indien, in europäischen Kreisen bei Krebskranken herumgesprochen, dass vielleicht Hoffnung bestand, so geheilt zu werden, wenn die westliche Medizin an den Anschlag kam.

Beim Heiler in Luzon nahm ich an einer Elektro-Kabel-Session teil, bei der die Teilnehmer sich im Kreis die Hände gaben und dann an einen niedrigen Voltanschluss unter Strom gesetzt wurden. Auch der hiesige Geistheiler öffnete die Körper mit seinen Händen und wurstelte darin herum. Manchmal zog er kleine Gewebeteile heraus uns schmiss sie in einen Plastikeimer neben dem Untersuchungsbett. „Das sind Metastasen gewesen“, erklärte er und zu gern hätte ich Gewebeproben mitgenommen und untersuchen lassen.

Bei diesem Geistheiler war ich nicht ganz so überzeugt, ob es sich hier nicht um ein „Hokuspokus“ handelte, denn es gab auch Mitläufer unter ihnen, die versuchten mit dem Ruf der Geistheiler Geld mit westlichen Touristen zu verdienen. Der junge Philippino, der in der Schweiz war, geniesst aber meinen höchsten Respekt und mein uneingeschränktes Vertrauen. Schliesslich liess sich die Wirkung der aussergewöhnlichen Behandlung bei einigen Personen verifizieren. Die Session in Luzon hat bei mir scheinbar nichts bewirkt aber auch nicht geschadet.

Am Schluss dieser Philippinen Reise erlebte ich noch eine ungemütliche Überraschung. Ich wurde am Flughafen bei der Ausreise verhaftet. Angeblich weil ich den Namen einer Person habe, die in den Philippinen ausgeschrieben war und gesucht wurde. In der Tat haben die Grenzbeamten bei meiner ersten Einreise mich ausführlich zu meinen Namen und meiner Herkunft befragt und wollten wissen, ob ich schon mal in den Philippinen gewesen war? Als ich verneinte liessen sie mich einreisen.  Aber jetzt schien das alte Problem wieder auf dem Radar der Migrationsbehörden aufgetaucht und verhinderte meine Ausreise.

Unschuldig inhaftiert und später zur persona non grata erklärt

Also musste ich den Tourismusminister bemühen, auf dessen Einladung ich in den Philippinen war, um nach zwei Tagen von Fieber und Schüttelfrost geplagten Inhaftierung wieder frei kam und ausreisen durfte. Wäre er nicht gewesen, hätte ich 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, falls dies weiteren Reisenden passiert, publizierte ich die Telefonnummer des Justizministers in der Zeitung mit dem Verweis, in so einem Fall solle man sich doch direkt an den Chef der Justizbehörde wenden.

Dieser Hinweis in den Medien wurde von der philippischen Botschaft nicht goutiert. Mehr noch: Ein paar Jahre später bei einer weiteren Presseeinladung in die Philippinen wurde ich dann plötzlich wieder ausgeladen und auch meine Bemühungen bei der philippinischen Botschaft in Bern blieben erfolglos, obschon ich ihnen alle Passauszüge mit meinen Auslandreisen zugesandt habe. Als der philippinische Militärattache sich mit einem abschlägigen Bescheid bei mir meldete und mich zur Persona non grata stempelte, wusste ich, dass gewiss auch US-Behörden dahinter steckten. Die hatten nun gewiss auch detailliert Kenntnis von meinen zahlreichen Kuba- und Ostblockreisen. Damit war ich definitiv als Sozialisten-Freund auf dem «NSA und «CIA-Radar» angelangt.

Links zu einigen Philippinen-Reportagen (folgen)

Paradiese kurz vor dem Auftakt zum Massentourismus (AT/BT)

Paradiese kurz vor dem Massentourismus (Der Bund)          

Inselparadies für Abenteurer  (Neue Luzerner Ztg.)                       

 Inselwelt vom Feinsten (Südostschweiz)

: Inselparadies für Abenteurer (Südostschweiz)         

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Allmytraveltips Asien-Reportagen auf einen Blick. Wir wünschen Ihnen spannende Reisen zu neuen Ufern und Horizonten und freuen uns auf Ihr Feedback.


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Print Reports

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Laos Vietianne Pagoda 5264

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Inselparadies für Abenteurer (SO)Paradiese kurz vor dem Auftakt zum Massentourismus (AT/BT) | Inselparadies für Abenteurer (SO) | Paradiese kurz vor dem Massentourismus (Der Bund)  | Inselparadies für Abenteurer (NLZ) | Inselwelt vom Feinsten (SO)  die links folgen in Kürze


Sri Lanka: Ayurveda-Behandlung im Paragon auf Sri LAnka mit Reisstempel-Massage. Ayurvedic massage with rice-balls stamped on the body

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Die Ayurveda-Insel (R&S) | Die Perle des Orients nach dem Bürgerkrieg (SO) | Hinter dem Checkpoint liegt das Paradies (Tagi) | die links folgen in Kürze


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Headerbild Pilatus AIR_PC-12_09

 Pilatus AIR_PC-12_09. BIld: z.V.g. Pilatus Werke, Stans

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