BATS, BIKES AND BETRAYALS – THE FIGHT TO STOP THE WENSUM LINK

By Sophie Ciurlik-Rittenbaum

The Norwich Western Link, also known as the Wensum Link, is a proposed road that cuts through the Wensum River Valley. It would cut through a Site of Special Scientific Interest destroying critical habitat, most notably inhabited by one of the only colonies of endangered Barbastelle bats. The project is already over budget, and according to Stop The Wensum Link, may cost up to £300 million. The Conservative-controlled Norfolk County Council is responsible for the Link and is pushing for its construction, whereas the Labour-controlled Norwich City Council has announced its opposition to the link.

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‘BURN THE WITCH’: AN OVER-DUE DEFENCE OF AMBER HEARD IN A MANIACALLY MISOGYNISTIC MEDIA

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by Sunetra Senior

Content warning: abuse, domestic violence, sexism

It is difficult not to be polarised on any given topic in the explosively divisive climate we are living through. However, emerging from the sensationalism is an irrefutable objective truth in the high-profile trial, where megastar Johnny Depp is suing his ex-wife, up-and-coming actress Amber Heard, for $50 million over editorial defamation: a clear example of inherent misogyny of the media. Heard penned her self-professed subjective piece in The Washington Post, supportively discussing a ‘Transformative Moment for Women’ during the height of the #MeToo campaign. The article, which was read out during the trial as part of Heard’s opening statement, was intelligently and boldly written, focussing on the actress’ harrowing experience of speaking out as female victim of domestic violence and the progressive change within the industry that she wishes to see. Further to this, there was no mention of Johnny Depp specifically or any of the personal accounts, currently being spewed out in public, due to his bringing her to court.

It is worth remembering that Depp lost his prior lawsuit against The Sun for referring to him as ‘abusive’, and in which the British judge found him guilty on 12 counts of the alleged domestic violence. To use the defendant’s own words in court then, he has ironically made democratic activism solely “about him.” 

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SPIRITED, RIDICULOUS, FUN – THE LOVELY EGGS LIVE AT THE WATERFRONT

by Kasper Hassett

The Lovely Eggs brought a buzz to an eager crowd at the Waterfront on a Tuesday night last April. Formed by the Lancaster couple Holly Ross and David Blackwell, the band delivers a charismatic hippie-punk sound which brings the room to life. Although there are only two members, there is enough going on to satisfy any noise-hungry gig-goer. Holly juggles vocals with the guitar, complemented by David on the drums, creating something which is lively, interactive, and absurd. 

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OUR SUBVERSIVE VOICE: 400 YEARS OF PROTEST SONGS

By Rowan Gavin

Last year, two-tone legends The Specials released an album entitled ‘Protest Songs 1924-2012’. It featured covers of tracks by Bob Marley, Leonard Cohen, Big Bill Broonzy and other legends of protest music – but not one song penned by a British person, despite the band’s Coventry origins. This, UEA Professor John Street tells me, was part of the impetus behind the project Our Subversive Voice: The History and Politics of the English Protest Song.

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OFFSHORING: A DEMONSTRATION OF CONSERVATIVE CRUELTY AND XENOPHOBIA

by Sarah Edgcumbe

CW: mentions of suicide, sexual assault

The war crime-laden conflict in Syria has not ended; Saudi Arabia (at the time of writing) continues to drop British-made bombs on Yemen; Israel is once again escalating its policy of state-sanctioned slaughter of Palestinians; the Taliban have taken control of Afghanistan, reducing armed violence, but increasing the risk of persecution and repression; Bosnia is teetering on the edge of a relapse into conflict; violence in the Central African Republic is ongoing; human rights abuses in Eritrea and Ethiopia continue. These are merely a few examples of the conflicts and instabilities which blight the lives of civilians who otherwise simply wish to live a life of safety, health and happiness. 

Safe routes of asylum to the UK should be available to all who need them, not least because Britain is complicit in an untold number of conflicts and repressive governments around the globe. Yet of all those who require support and protection, only Ukrainian refugees are deserving of such assistance, according to the Conservative government; one clear demonstration is the introduction of the government’s  ‘Homes for Ukraine’ scheme. Of course, Ukrainians should be welcomed to the UK – or any other country they’d prefer to claim asylum in – but so should refugees from any other context of conflict or persecution. Just as Russia has obliterated parts of Ukraine leaving a trail of war crimes in its wake, so too has it devastated swathes of Syria. Why then, as a nation, are we willing to be so selective as to who we will welcome as refugees?

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TWO BILLION BEATS BY SONALI BHATTACHARYYA – REVIEW

By Ananya Wilson-Bhattacharya

The presence of South Asian characters in British theatre is not the extreme rarity it once was. Whilst South Asians and people of colour more widely are still hugely underrepresented in theatre – as actors, writers, directors and in storylines – there has undoubtedly been some progress in recent years. What remains less visible, however, is South Asian characters engaging in rich discussions of history in all its complexity, from a questioning, left-wing perspective. If this is not for you, you should probably avoid playwright and Momentum activist Sonali Bhattacharyya’s Two Billion Beats, showing now at London’s Orange Tree Theatre.

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THE OTHER SIDE OF HOPE – REVIEW

By Sarah Edgcumbe

To refer to The Other Side of Hope simply as ‘a literary magazine’ feels like an injustice. It is a beautiful, complex and painful collection of short stories, non-fiction and poems written and edited by refugees and immigrants. Having recently finished reading my copy, I find myself contemplating the journeys portrayed between the covers of the magazine days later. My mind wanders back to the melancholic ending of the fictional story ‘the Proposal’ by Qin Sun Stubis, or the heart-wrenching experiences of perpetual displacement, racism and otherness experienced by the protagonist of the poem ‘Engelestân’ by Kimia Etemadi. The Other Side of Hope is more than a magazine – it constitutes a tool for building empathy, for generating understanding, and an avenue through which to become immersed in the lives of refugees and immigrants for a brief, yet emotive period of time.

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BEHIND THE CAMPAIGN: UPDATES FROM A STUDENT DIVESTMENT CAMPAIGNER

By Sophie Ciurlik-Rittenbaum

I’m a student and divestment campaigner at the University of East Anglia (UEA). Halfway through my third year and, still pushing this campaign through, I think it’s time for an update.

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POETRY AND SETTLED STATUS FOR ALL – PRE-LAUNCH EVENT REVIEW

by Richard Byrt

Last December, I attended a pre-launch of the anthology, Poetry and Settled Status for All, edited by Ambrose Musiyiwa, and published by CivicLeicester in January, 2022.  The event was held on Zoom as part of the 8th annual Leicester Human Rights Arts and Film Festival. A recording of the event is available, through CivicLeicester on YouTube.

The poems and short prose pieces in the Poetry and Settled Status for All anthology, including those read at the pre-launch, concern the experiences of refugees, people seeking asylum and other immigrants. 

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POLITICAL ACROBATICS, AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL, AND ISRAELI OPPRESSION

by Sarah Edgcumbe

“A disgraceful attack on the Jewish state” is how one conservative American publication responded to Amnesty International’s most recent report on the 2nd February. The Amnesty report, which bears the title ‘Israel’s Apartheid Against Palestinians: Cruel System of Domination and Crime Against Humanity’ was published by Amnesty on the 1st February this year –  predictably attracting the wrath of Israel whilst generating much controversy. The Israeli government responded as maturely as ever, with Foreign Minister Yair Lapid alleging that “Instead of seeking facts, Amnesty quotes lies spread by terrorist organizations.” Meanwhile, a range of wilfully ignorant journalists and public figures have labelled the report “anti-semitic”. Here we go again. 

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