AT a time when most folk know of, or at least have heard of, children falling asleep in school, or grabbing food and immediately eating it at food banks, and parents going without food so their children can have some kind of meal, we find the SHRC (Scottish Human Rights Commission) calling for food to be made a “human right”.

Kinda strange-sounding concept, isn’t it? Giving away food to folk who “probably spend their money on drink and cigarettes, instead of feeding their bairns” is the usual defence I hear when a radical suggestion such as the one above is made.

Let’s face it, there ARE people who would do that and if they do, there’s very little can be done about it – except of course, to make sure they at least have the food. People, after all, make choices and if that’s their choice, then that’s the consequence and if their kids are starving, it’s hardly our problem – is it?

Really? Are we really that kind of people, who would let the children of our nation starve because they have the misfortune to have bad parents, as well as having been born into poverty? Or do we do something about it?

Do we, collectively, have the responsibility for all of our children, or just the clean, well-dressed, good-mannered, likeable ones?

It looks to me that the SHRC, who don’t have the money to make changes, have at least the right to make the recommendations. It also looks to me that if we are the kind of country we like to claim we are, we can’t just stand by and wonder where the SHRC get their daft ideas. Rather, we should consider that they may have value and they coincide with our own values.

I sincerely hope our government, here in Scotland, picks up this idea and, as far as is possible, runs with it and tries to make it work. I know that in an independent Scotland we could make the choices to change so much which we know to be wrong in our society, and we are not (yet) independent, but is that a reason (excuse) to do nothing, or do we do the best we possibly can do, in the present circumstances? Even if we NEVER get independence, surely these children deserve a much better life, and future, than the one for which hunger close to starvation presently prepares them?

Surely NOW is the time to start doing something radical for them?

Harry Bickerstaff
St Cyrus, Aberdeenhire

MANY of us have been shaken by the image of Julian Assange forced by the British police to leave the Ecuadorian embassy in London, shouting “Resist!”

Catalonia, from where I write, has a piece of history shared with Assange. Here, political leaders and activists face a trial with penalties of up to 25 years for having allowed the population to vote in Catalonia’s self-determination referendum on October 1, 2017. In other words, the exercise of a democratic right is criminalised, laying the foundations that will be taken advantage of by the increasingly powerful far right in Europe.

Every day we can see on television the Spanish retransmission of this trial. It is impressive to see the lack of guarantees offered for the defence of political prisoners. Assange legitimised the effort of the inhabitants of Catalonia to vote, recognising it as people’s expression of political will. After the violence deployed by the Spanish Government to stop the referendum, on a totally peaceful population, which resulted in more than a thousand wounded, Assange questioned Europe for its silence.

In August 2018, due to Spanish pressure, the Ecuadorian president issued a warning to the journalist that he should refrain from “intervening in the politics and self-determination of countries”. They ended up cutting off his communications with the outside world.

Assange’s only crime has been to fulfil the task of any journalist. Even more valuable has been his contribution to making visible the crimes committed secretly by the US administration in other countries, among others. What happens to him will have repercussions far beyond his individual case and will reaffirm the authoritarian drift undertaken at the global level.

Days before the referendum vote, I remember the giant screen placed on the walls of the University of Barcelona from which Assange gave a video conference to thousands of students, warning about the repression that would occur. He affirmed that in such a situation, people who had the tools had the responsibility to share them. He spoke on the need to protect ourselves collectively. I think we have the same responsibility towards him. This means mobilising ourselves to demand his freedom and show him that he is not alone, that his struggle for access to information and for free expression is also ours.

Mónica Vargas

BRIAN Patton’s long letter (April 15) is eminently sensible and well-informed, but may I point out, first, that the Gilbert and Sullivan quartet “Quiet, calm deliberation disentangles every knot” is not from The Mikado but The Gondoliers; and second, that since in the course of it the four characters gradually progress from singing quietly in turn to shouting furiously at each other all together, it was perhaps not the best-omened citation he could have chosen!

Derrick McClure