Saturday, January 29, 2011

Jersey Hypocrisy Day?

Since 2001, Jersey has been marking Holocaust Day with a ceremony.
Twenty-two people from Jersey are known to have died in the various extermination camps during World War Two and it is perfectly proper that they should not be forgotten.

But, as referred to in our previous blog – this ceremony is part of our obsession with death in war and the manner in which this is so often presented as something glorious.

At the centre of Jersey’s Holocaust Day is the former navigation light, now turned into yet another obelisk to the memory of the fallen and every year it is the focal-point for a service of remembrance and laying of wreaths. Of course, that is all perfectly desirable - but what else does or should happen?

“It must never happen again” is the message on so many lips year after year - and the same annual speeches are presented by Jersey’s leaders about man’s inhumanity and the horrors of war. Yet, the people of Jersey fail to remove the discrimination and injustices within this little community that are the very breeding ground for discontent and hostility between groups and nations.

Here, in the following video we look very briefly at this year’s ceremony and speak with Constable Simon Crowcroft who laid a wreath for the people and Parish of St. Helier.

Last year, interviews with Senators Freddie Cohen and Ian Le Marquand were posted on You Tube by The Voice and these are re-presented here too so that the smug complacency of our government might be exposed.

With the passing of yet another year, there is even less chance of Jersey enacting anti-discriminations laws in the near future or signing-up for so many of the international human rights conventions and treaties that were written following the “Holocaust.”

Jersey was supposedly “liberated” in 1945 from occupation and should be leading the world in upholding human rights standards. In fact, this Island is so far behind most places that it is becoming an insult to the memory of the many millions who have died in wars.

This Island claims not to have the funds or resources to ratify the world’s most basic obligations with regard to children, women or disability yet has ample money to establish overseas offices in Brussels, the Middle East and China touting for tax haven business.

This is hypocritical and discredits Jersey’s Holocaust Memorial internationally.

Saturday, January 8, 2011


Jersey Death Haven…

The only certainties in life are said to be death and taxes.
Jersey is long established as a tax haven but what is the scope regarding death?
Clearly avoidance of death is not an option yet for us living persons – but memorials to the dead are usually designed to keep somebody alive in our minds. No harm in that we might think but there is a bandwagon currently promoting the construction of yet another memorial to Major Peirson who was killed in the Royal Square in 1781 fighting the French.

There are already many images of the dead Yorkshire-man around. He features in Copley’s painting of the “Battle of Jersey”, his bronze bust sits in the Town Hall and in the Town Church, his likeness features in countless articles and books. But why?
What is our obsession with this death in battle really all about?.....

“What need of sculpture’s marble to imprint
The worth impressed on every British heart
Peirson’s – who rushed invasion to repel
And conquering, covered o’er with laurels fell.”

Another memorial is underway to Francois Scornet, the young French-man executed at St. Ouen’s Manor by the Germans during the Occupation.
Of all the millions who died violently during the Second World War – why are we constructing this particular memorial now?
What are we really remembering?

Of course it helps if somebody local has been killed by foreigners. That allows us to justify murder as a glorious patriotic act more easily and gives us somebody to blame who is not part of our own community.

The words on the Durell/Saumarez memorial in the Town Church says it all – “he acquired glory to his country by his death being slain in a sea-fight against the French in 1747 etc.”

Thomas Anquetil is remembered in the same building, killed “whilst fighting hand to hand with the enemy” in Bengal in 1842. Did he, we wonder, bayonet to death any of the ancestors of those Indians we now seek to trade with? Is Anquetil’s death to be viewed as “glorious” now?
What does God think about such sentiments being displayed in his holy building?

All twelve Jersey parishes have obelisks or other memorials to the glorious dead of the two world wars and a Town Church plaque declares that the names of the 24 men who fell in the 1914-18 conflict “liveth for evermore”- but do they and why should they?

There have been hundreds of wars over thousands of years and millions of deaths – why are we so selective with our memory – why do we only remember the few by name? If Major Peirson warrants a statue now, two centuries after he died – what about all the others? Or should it more properly be - ALL or NONE?

We have blogged previously about the whole Remembrance/ Red Poppy ritual that overtakes Britain from September to November each year and wonder if this an appropriate way to remember those who have suffered in past conflicts or to raise funds for injured service-people or their dependents still living.

This blog-site is dedicated to the memory of the gallant, brave people who overthrew the corrupt
Jersey Royal Court
on 28th September 1769. We believe that this event is something that does warrant a memorial and should be celebrated as an important day in Island history. Nobody died – the demonstration was peaceful.
But, why has the event been so deliberately forgotten?

We also have supported Team Voice in sponsoring a bronze portrait of Emille Collins, the long-time democratic, political campaigner who still phones-in the BBC radio. He surely deserves to be recognised in his lifetime – and to be remembered long after his inevitable demise.

But, shall anybody be proposing a sculptured memorial outside or near Haut de la Garenne where generations of Jersey children were abused or worse, over many decades?
Which particular aspects of our own past violence are to be remembered in future?

The video that follows shows Jersey’s very own Welsh historian and linguist Geraint Jennings, talking in Jerriaise and English before the statue of German-speaking Hanoverian King George II aka Duke of Brunswick, who was the last British monarch to lead the English army into battle on foreign soil (in Germany) and he is depicted here, in the Royal Square of Jersey, as a Roman Emperor, whilst some would say he was really the Duke of Normandy, so far as the Channel Islands are concerned.

The statue, sculpted by Clapham-born John Cheere was already in the square to oversee the 1769 Jersey Revolution and received some damage from the French in the American War of Independence battle during which Yorkshire-man Major Peirson of a Derbyshire regiment – died on 6th January 1781.
Where does any national glory belong now?

Tom Gruchy