Lotty is a graduate of International Development and Environment. She’ll rant all day about gender, conflict, political ecology, and indigenous rights. In her spare time she likes to practice yoga, cook, and play ukulele.
Content warning: sexual violence, corrective rape, sexual abuse, suicide.
Last Friday was the beginning of Yangon Pride celebrations in a country where human rights abuses are rife, and homosexuality is criminalised. The rising profile of LGBTQ+ rights in Myanmar provides precious hope for queer people in the country. However, the road to equality is a long one.
Yangon’s 2020 Pride festival is organised by &PROUD and runs from January 18th to February 2nd. The opening day in Thakin Mya park attracted thousands of people. The city’s pride events include a boat parade, queer dance performances, drag shows, queer film screenings and panel discussions, and of course lots of rainbows. The films that will be shown include ‘A Simple Love Story’ a short documentary film that was given a distinction in the Wathann Film Festival but was not screened due to censorship, even though there was no nudity. The film centred around a trans couple and asked the question ‘does love have any gender?’.
Back in August much of the Asia Pacific region, and the world, was captivated by the death of a baby dugong called Mariam. Washed up on the beach in southwestern Thailand, the ill and orphaned dugong gained the attention of the public, complete with live webcasts, only for her to die a few months later due to plastic poisoning.
The environmental and climatic impacts of war and conflict have long been silent causalities. Environmental implications throughout the timelines of conflict are huge. From deforestation, mining for metals, use of chemical weapons, ‘scorched’ earth tactics, plunder of resources, and collapse of environmental management systems. Natural resources can cause war, fuel war, and be destroyed by war.
Towering out of the ocean at 13,796ft, Maunakea is the tallest point in Hawai’i, and one of the most culturally and spiritually important sites in the archipelago. It is considered to be the piko (umbilical cord) of Hawai’i. It is also seen as kūpuna (ancestors/elders), and is the home of deities as well as the site of various shrines and burial grounds. Furthermore, the mountain is also an important habitat for several endemic species of animals. If you were to have driven down the road to the summit on the 15th July, you would have been stopped by a line of kūpuna blocking the road with their bodies. They were protecting this sacred site from the construction of a 30 meter telescope (TMT) which was given the OK by Hawai’i governor David Ige. Since then, this group has gained traction, and crowds have grown from a few hundred, to thousands. If you were to go there today, you would find a large camp on the site, with tents, cultural ceremonies taking place, traditional food being prepared, and a community run day care and school.
(08.07.19) – Power, Food and Land – Part 2
We are all actors in a global hegemonic food and agricultural system that is increasingly undemocratic, unjust, and dominated by corporate interest in the hands of a rich minority. Part 1 explored how this has happened and the impacts of power concentration and intensification of agriculture globally. Much of the food we buy from supermarkets is packaged in plastic, , and has thousands air-miles attached to it as it has often been shipped across the world before reaching our trollies. The public has lost a connection to the land and lacks any kind of relationship to where its food comes from, and how it is grown, and indeed there is a great deal of ignorance around food production, nutrition, storage and even cooking. Sadly, it is ultimately the poorest and more marginalised people in society who are impacted the most by food poverty, having to buy and consume cheap food with poor nutritional value. Amidst rising levels of food poverty in the UK, we also have vast amounts of food waste on a household and commercial level, as about ⅓ of food is wasted.
(20.06.19) – Power, Food and Land – Part 1
Land is a topic that is not at the centre of political news or conversations in the UK, yet land and how we value it is central to environmental, social and economic sustainability worldwide. Land is central to food security, culture, conflict and peace, and society as a whole. Food is a human right, and yet it is a commodity privy to the powers of the market, and not guaranteed for many people. Power is concentrated in the hands of a few mega corporations who monopolise global agriculture and food systems.
(16.05.19) – Smallholder farmers persecuted in Myanmar
Millions of farmers in Myanmar are fearing eviction and incarceration after a recent amendment in national land law. In September 2018 the government of Myanmar announced that anyone cultivating on land that the government deems ‘wasteland,’ who does not have a Land Use Certificate by March 2019, would be at risk of eviction, fines, or imprisonment. Now three months into this amendment in effect, the consequences have already been devastating for smallholder farmers.
(17.03.19) – U.S. – Hands Off Venezuela
Make no mistake, I am not a defender of the current Nicholas Maduro regime in Venezuela, and there is widespread opposition to Maduro in Venezuela: right now, in Caracas, despite a ban on rallies, there are thousands of people protesting the Maduro regime. However, the US intervention in Venezuela is a violation of international law and is not being called out by many media outlets. In January this year Juan Guaidó, who was supported by the US, ignored democratic process and announced that he was president. He was immediately recognised by the US, Canada, UK, Spain, France, Germany, Sweden and Denmark and several right-wing countries in Latin America as the legitimate interim President of Venezuela.
In 2017 when the United States, the world’s second biggest polluter, withdrew from the Paris Climate Accord it felt hugely demoralising, but unsurprising. Unsurprising because for years some climate activists have been disillusioned with the notion of a top-down political solution to climate change because it is the political and economic elites who have been the architects of this economic and climate crisis, and who benefit from the current capitalist, neoliberal system. However, newly elected congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio Cortez (otherwise known as AOC) has challenged this view. The ‘Green New Deal’ (GND) being proposed by democrats, spearheaded by AOC, and backed by grassroot groups, is a welcome dose of hope and progress that has been injected into an otherwise gloomy mainstream discourse around the fate of our planet.
Content warning: mentions violence against women, abuse, rape, self-harm, suicide, racism, harassment, homophobia.
Last Saturday, a group of UEA students and Norwich residents travelled to a protest at Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre in Bedfordshire. This protest was the fifth Movement for Justice by Any Means Necessary (MFJ) has organised to shut down detention centres. As I approached the building, hidden inside an industrial estate, surrounded by fields, in the middle of nowhere, it was just as intimidating and depressing as 6 months ago when I went to Yarl’s Wood for the first time. It looks like a prison, except that it is ‘worse than prison, because you have no rights’, as former detainee Aisha Shua put it. Some women are in Yarl’s Wood because their visa expired, others because their asylum claim was unsuccessful. They have committed no crime. And yet they can be detained there indefinitely.