Had our problems with Police Scotland: arrests and jailings recently for peaceful protests; Saturday night knock on the dooor and off to the cells for the weekend; an illegal arrest and assault; a cover-up of a complaint. So it was gratifying on several levels to receive this note (which I had forgotten about due to pressure of events). Never should any of us doubt we're leaving a trace, even if we don't see the results directly.
E-MAIL FROM EX-CHIEF INSPECTOR GAVIN BUIST
From: 'Gavin Buist'
Sent: 21 July 2014 16:33
Subject: Scottish PSC - A letter to Mick Napier
You may not remember me, but you and I spent quite a bit of time together in 2003 during the lead-up to the second Gulf War. I was the Chief Inspector in Edinburgh City centre who commanded most of the policing operations around the unofficial rallies and marches organised by the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign, and later the Anti-War Coalition.
While these events were testing for myself and my colleagues, I thought that I had recognised the importance of the right of you and your colleagues to speak out against the situation in the Middle East. I listened to the speeches given by you, Lloyd Quinan, Aamer Anwar and others and thought I understood. I didn't.
I have now retired from the police and am currently working as an Advisor to the Abu Dhabi Police. I share an office with two Palestinian women who are gradually becoming my friends. From them, I am gaining an understanding of the horrors of the current situation in a way which is deeply personal, deeply humbling and very far removed from the journalism one encounters on TV, in the newspapers and even through social media. It is an understanding which could never have been achieved thousands of miles away in Edinburgh.
It is so clear that there are scores of innocent victims killed, many more who have suffered life-altering injuries, and even more who have been brutally and traumatically bereaved - the biggest tragedy being the proportion who are children. It angers and frustrates me that this tragedy is attributable to the actions of a state which refuses to listen to world opinion and both consistently and casually disregards the rights of a people who - had history been different - might otherwise be their natural neighbours. Unlike the media, my colleagues Doha and Reem don't tell their families' stories in any sensationalist sense. Instead, there is a resignation and quiet despair in their accounts. They tell me of ordinary people who only want to live ordinary lives, who want only to see their children laugh and play in the streets and their elders enjoy the twilight of their lives in peace and happiness. They tell me of a people who - in spite of everything - want somehow to try to try to find some accommodation and future alongside their much more powerful neighbour. I hear of the humiliations, the indignities and unhappiness endured by what I believe to be fundamentally decent people and see the pain on the faces of my new colleagues. I still don't claim now to fully understand - but I think I am beginning to.
I was heartened, in a way I would not previously have thought possible, by news of the large demonstrations in Glasgow and London at the weekend. So many people taking a stand, telling those who lead us that these atrocities do not take place in their name. Heartened too that Doha and Reem knew of and welcomed these events, and that their families in Gaza drew, and will continue to draw, strength and hope from them.
Please don't stop Mick. You and your colleagues have my unequivocal support.
Sent: 21 July 2014 18:17
To: 'Gavin Buist'
Subject: RE: Scottish PSC - A letter to Mick Napier
Thanks for your note . The reference in the final para to Doha, Reem and their families in Gaza is the sort of feedback that encourages us to continue our efforts to end the crime against them. Assure Doha and Reem that our thoughts are with them and all Palestinians in their agony.
Please also let them know that while Israel is attacking hospitals openly and killing their relatives at will, and has the support of the British Government, Israel has already lost the main battle, that of world-wide public opinion. Around the entire world, and certainly in Scotland and the UK, Israel is already a pariah state. We are working to channel this feeling into pressure to force our governments to end their complicity in Israel's programme of ethnic cleansing.
See, for example, Israel's image in the world: rock 'bottom by a wide margin'
Do I have your permission to publish your letter?