Perspectives section writer
Sarah holds an MA in conflict studies and human rights and an MA in refugee protection and forced migration studies. She considers home to be wherever she has good friends and has many interests which essentially boil down to human rights and resistance movements. Sarah also loves wide expanses of wilderness and dogs.
(28.11.22) – BDS is More Important Now Than Ever
Between January 1st 2022 and 25th November 2022, Israeli forces killed 199 Palestinian civilians, including 47 children, and at least 15 women. Perhaps the most high profile killing occurred in May 2022, when Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh was shot in the head by Israeli Occupying Forces (IOF) whilst covering a story in the Occupied West Bank. She was wearing a press vest at the time, marking her clearly identifiable as both a journalist and a target. Others present at the time, including a colleague who was injured, made it clear that there were no Palestinian fighters near them when they were targeted by direct fire. This incident was, in effect, a continuation of Israel’s deliberate policy of targeting journalists as a means of shutting down any reporting which can contradict the Israeli state narrative – and, once more, Israel escaped without repercussions.
(01.09.22) – Safety in Numbers: Don’t Pay UK
Energy bills are set to rise by 80% from 1st October, taking the average household’s annual energy bill to £3,549. The Trades Union Congress (TUC) estimates that the average UK household’s income in 2023 will be £2,054 per month, making the cost of energy equivalent to around two months’ salary. Meanwhile, the poorest among us have been forced onto pre-paid meters which enable energy companies to charge even more for the same energy. Welcome to Tory Britain.
(26.02.2022) – The Other Side of Hope – Review
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.
(05.02.2022) – Political Acrobatics, Amnesty International, Israeli Oppression
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.
(17.01.2022) – Review: The Girl and The Dragon
The Suitcase Storytelling Company are magicians. There is no other way to describe them. On a recent wet and mizzly Sunday afternoon my partner and I took his eight-year-old daughter to a nearby community theatre, expecting to fidget our way through being mildly entertained, but hoping his daughter would enjoy the show. The set consisted of a screen painted with a rudimentary set of train tracks set against mountains in the background. In the foreground, a painted electronic sign indicated we would be transported onto a railway station platform as soon as the show began. A tannoy announcement repeatedly announced that the train was delayed, before politely asking passengers to keep their umbrellas next to them and report any sightings of dragons to train staff.
(04.01.2022) – The Best Reads of 2021
With Ewa Giera and Samantha Rajasingham
From getting through that ‘to read’ backlog while stuck at home to reciting inspiring extracts at protests and on picket lines, we have read in many ways these past 12 months. As ever, at The Norwich Radical we believe in the written word as a world-changing source of joy, inspiration, education and hope. In this article, three of our contributors come together to share the best things they read in 2021, new and old. Each recommendation comes with a link to buy it direct from the publisher or on bookshop.org (where possible), but we encourage you to use your local bookshop in the first instance if you can. Happy reading!
(14.12.2021) – Nationalism as a Tool for Progression
“Refugees Welcome” is a phrase commonly seen on placards at demonstrations held by the recently revitalised Cornish independence movement. Sometimes paired with other phrases such as “No More Second Homes”, “Fuck Yuppies” and “Tories Out”, the centrality of the statement “Refugees Welcome” at the forefront of the Cornish nationalism movement clearly flies in the face of conventionally liberal or left-wing wisdom, which automatically posits nationalism as right-wing and pernicious. We should instead recognise that “nationalism” doesn’t necessarily equate to ethno-nationalism, and that in parroting anti-nationalist rhetoric, we are likely regurgitating colonial propaganda. Anti-colonial movements fought for a collective nationalism defined by independence. Nationalism, then, cannot automatically be dismissed as a negative phenomenon.
(06.11.2021) – The Times, the Tories, St Andrews and the Oxbridge Dinosaur
The Times newspaper is at it again. Since the 1st October, it has been attempting to whip white British right-wingers into a fury by portraying freedom of speech as being in danger. According to The Times, students (read: white students) are falling prey to authoritarian demands that they accept “personal guilt” at St Andrews University. Odd, that only since it beat Oxford and Cambridge to the title of the UK’s top university, has the paper fixated on St Andrews’ supposed institutional villainhood like a rabid dog.
(26.06.21) – The Holiday Home Paradox
“Stop whining, you ungrateful inbred bastards, it’s our money that keeps you afloat” or some variant of that sentiment is regularly heard by Cornish people and permanent residents of Cornwall. Particularly in the summer. Particularly when we register our frustration at being priced out of communities we grew up in; at pristine green land being built upon, despite the presence of thousands of empty homes; and particularly when we dare to register our opinion that people are not entitled to as many houses as they like, no matter how wealthy they are. The severe levels of poverty experienced in parts of Cornwall are completely overlooked by wealthy holiday home-owners and the government (the two being far from mutually exclusive). It is hidden from view sufficiently that it will not dirty their holiday photos, it will not visibly encroach upon the sandy beaches or the pristine sea. They can pretend that everybody in Cornwall is as thick as portrayed in the TV show Doc Martin while maintaining a wilful ignorance about the devastating effects their Airbnb accommodation or holiday home is wreaking upon the county they proclaim to love.
(13.01.21) – What Next After the Siege of Capitol Hill?
The storming of Capitol Hill in Washington on the 6th January and the ongoing aftermath has dominated western media over the past few days with good reason. White Americans fuelled by bizarre QAnon conspiracy theories and egged on by Trump’s false narrative of fraudulent election results, forced their way into the building, ransacked the interior, hung confederate flags, stole items and generally behaved like a bunch of supremacist football hooligans who had been binge-drinking for several hours, and whose team had just lost. In doing so however, they demonstrated the extent to which they have become empowered by Trump – and that is terrifying. When Trump leaves the White House (hopefully in handcuffs; tears streaking his fake tan), his manifest right-wing extremist legacy is going to remain present for years to come.
(12.06.20) – We Need to Talk About the Rioting and the Looting
CW: racism, violence, police brutality
We need to talk about the rioting. And the looting. And the destruction of statues during recent Black Lives Matter protests. We really do. The failure to recognise the entrenched nature of historical and enduring structural violence in both the US and the UK speaks volumes in terms of the normalization of oppression, enforced poverty, racism and discrimination in contemporary society. Whilst there are certainly white victims of structural violence, it is an irrefutable fact that Black or minority ethnic communities experience the most severe intersecting consequences – not as uncomfortable rarities, but as a grinding, every day, relentless struggle, which as we have seen in the case of George Floyd along with so many other black men, women and youth, can too often have fatal results.
(01.06.20) – Will Iraq’s New Prime Minister Recognise Roma Rights?
In early May 2020, Mustafa al-Kadhimi was appointed as Iraq’s new Prime Minister against the context of ongoing protests and popular discontent resulting from widespread government corruption. This corruption has contributed massively towards increasing poverty, reduction in public services and rising unemployment. Since the 2003 U.S. led invasion of Iraq, social cohesion has fractured perhaps (but hopefully not) irrevocably, with politics and society becoming increasingly sectarian.
The effects of the sectarian conflict in Iraq have been widely reported on, but the media has remained largely silent on the dire situation of the Iraqi Roma. This lack of attention by the media is reflective of the neglect of the Roma of Iraq by the government, humanitarian and human rights organizations and largely speaking, civic society in general. The complete lack of information produced by the Iraqi government on the Iraqi Roma is symptomatic of the de facto policies of ostracization and othering which have persisted since the formation of the Iraqi state in the 1920s. The number of Roma residents in Iraq, including the Kurdish Region of Iraq (KRI), is unknown, but best estimates place the figure at nearly 200,000 – translating to roughly 0.5% of the Iraqi population.
(21.04.20) – The Acid Test of ‘Britishness’
The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic continues to have disastrous consequences for many people around the globe who have lost loved ones, or who are struggling to cope financially due to livelihood disruption. Domestic violence rates have increased at a staggering rate, whilst loneliness and uncertainty are having a negative effect on many people’s mental health. It is amidst these turbulent times that once again, much like the train-wreck of Brexit, the acid test of “Britishness” seems to be qualified by how deferential people can be to the political elite, as opposed to how willing they are to defend democracy and the welfare of Britain’s citizens and residents.
(04.04.20) – Resistance and Rebellion after Covid-19
What a time to be alive. As Covid-19 rampages its way across the globe ravaging families and livelihoods, a medical fetish company has had to supply the NHS with equipment because the British government is a lethal combination of neoliberal, greedy and incompetent. While kink is contributing to saving lives, and while many people are faced with the prospect of trying to subsist and keep their families afloat on £94.25 per week sick pay during the lockdown, the British government has been putting together £1 billion of public funding to be doled out to countries who then intend to use this loan to buy British-made bombs and surveillance technology. British people die through negligence, people in other nations die through cataclysmic violence: welcome to Tory Britain.
(05.01.20) – Slaughter and Mass Displacement in Idlib
“Children and anybody with a free spirit have become terrorists in the eyes of the world.” My Syrian friend and I are discussing the current situation in Idlib. We are both exasperated that the world is standing idly by as thousands of innocent people are murdered or made homeless. Idlib, a governorate in North West Syria, is often portrayed as home exclusively to terrorists and violent Islamist extremists. My friend’s reference to “a free spirit” is his description of the people who participated in the Syrian revolution: those who dared to demand a free and peaceful life including the right to participate in democratic elections and to exercise freedom of speech and assembly without fear of being arbitrarily detained, tortured, executed or otherwise disappeared into the Syrian regime’s nightmarish prison system.
(08.12.19) – Narratives of Power and the Silencing of Community
The monopolization and manipulation of public narratives by the powerful has long been a pernicious political reality on both a national and global level. Invariably, they who shout the loudest somehow assert a claim to legitimacy, despite the commonly ill-conceived and downright harmful nature of the content being peddled.
(09.11.19) – Rojava, Refugees, and EU Responsibility
Since Turkey’s aggressive offensive against Rojava, an area of North Eastern Syria, began early in October 2019, at least 160,000 Syrians have fled their homes. A BBC report from the 17th October states that airstrikes and ground attacks have killed civilians on both sides of the Turkey / Syria border and quotes a UNICEF estimate that 70,000 children have already been displaced. This is a tragedy for the Kurdish citizens of Rojava, as well as the broader Middle East, given what the Rojava political project represented.
(15.10.19) – Colonialism, Corruption & Chaos: The Disillusionment of Iraqi Youth
During early October 2019, in the space of just nine days, Iraqi state forces killed over one hundred young people and injured thousands more. Thousands. In just nine days. As anti-corruption protests broke out, the state deployed live ammunition almost immediately. In some places, snipers positioned themselves on rooftops, picking off young Iraqi citizens who had nothing left to lose except the hope that they would one day experience a government that provides for their basic needs rather than greedily shovelling oil revenue into its own pockets.
The catalyst for these protests was the sacking of Lieutenant General Abdul-Wahab al-Saadi, who led the fight against ISIS as part of Iraq’s elite counter terrorism unit, and who was widely acknowledged as the liberator of Mosul. As soon as his transfer to an administrative role was made public, speculation arose that ‘his refusal to back a specific political party made him unpopular among officials in Baghdad’, and that he was ‘removed from his post because he broke sectarian barriers in Mosul.’ The sacking of al-Saadi was widely perceived as emblematic of the corruption that has characterized successive post-U.S invasion administrations, resulting in widespread protests against corruption, unemployment and poor public services.
(12.09.19) – Problematic ‘Peacebuilding’: When the Powerful Don’t Ask and Won’t Listen
Afghanistan, a country that has been in and out of the news since the 9/11 terror attack and subsequent U.S.-led coalition invasion, is once again at the forefront of media attention this month, as a result of Trump’s decision to cancel peace talks with the Taliban on 9th September. The relentless violence and bombings conducted by Afghan state forces, U.S.-backed Afghan militias, Taliban, religious extremist groups, career criminals and other groups are no longer considered to be remarkable events; they happen so frequently that the international audience has become desensitized to them.
(21.08.19) – Legacy of Empire: Darkest Days of Indian Democracy
CW: rape, torture
Since 5th August 2019, the Indian government has shut down Kashmir in the most repressive and terrifying fashion possible. 48,000 Indian troops have been moved into the state, making it, with 70,000 Indian troops already posted there, the most densely militarized zone on Earth. These troops are now operating under a “shoot-to-kill” policy and hundreds of Kashmiri human rights activists, academics and business leaders have been arrested. Meanwhile, the Indian government has simultaneously imposed a media and communications blackout, cutting off the internet and thus preventing Kashmiris from being able to communicate their suffering in real time to the rest of the world. Pakistan too revoked state subject rule from Gilgit-Baltistan (part of Pakistan occupied Kashmir) in 1974, in a move similar to India’s current strategy. However, in doing so, there was no media black-out nor curfews imposed. India, on the other , has jailed all Kashmiri leadership, transferring them to jails in New Delhi, as well as, according to a magistrate speaking on condition of anonymity, arresting and detaining over 4,000 Kashmiri citizens since 5th August.
(21.07.19) – What We Call a Terrorist Should Apply to Powerful States As Well
In April of this year, President Trump further demonstrated his ineptitude as world leader, and cemented his status as an intellectually defective moron, by designating Iran’s Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization. Yes. Trump has designated a sovereign country’s state forces “terrorists” despite his single-handed destruction of the Iranian Nuclear Deal, wholehearted support for Israeli aggression and murder of unarmed Palestinians, and the fact that U.S state forces have unjustifiably slaughtered millions. The pot is definitely calling the kettle black.
(29.06.19) – Rebel Kites
“We are fighting for freedom. We are fighting for our smiles. We don’t care what the occupation thinks about us or what they will do. This is an act of defiance.”
The certainty of retribution implied within the above statement seems exaggerative for merely flying kites, but this is the reality in Burin, a village that holds fast among beautiful rolling hills in the countryside of the northern West Bank, and which is also surrounded by three illegal Israeli settlements. Centuries old, with a population of nearly three thousand, the villagers of Burin have long cared for this land. They’ve raised their families here for generations, celebrated births and marriages, supported each other, grown and harvested ancient olive trees, with roots that symbolize the hundreds of years of Palestinian toil that connect the people to this land. This land that Israel wants so badly but will never have.
(02.05.19) – The Enemy Of Your Enemy Is Not Your Friend: Pseudo-Leftists, Assad & Russia
For a few years now so-called leftists have been acting as cheerleaders for Syria’s President Assad. The apparent logic seems to go something like this: “American imperialism is abhorrent, so naturally we will embrace America’s enemy – Russia – and by extension, Assad as our friends.” Let me be clear: in this case, the enemy of your enemy is not your friend. It is perfectly feasible to recognise that Russia is an imperialist power and serial abuser of human rights without legitimizing America’s terrible track record of imperialism, occupation and human rights abuses.
(19.03.19) – Shamima Begum Is A Reflection Of Societal Failure: We Must Bring Her Home And Learn
The British press has been in a frenzy recently over nineteen-year-old Shamima Begum and her desire to return to the UK from the refugee camp in Syria where she currently resides. There are probably very few people in the UK who are unaware that Shamima travelled from the UK to ISIS territory in Syria at the age of fifteen, where she married an ISIS militant, conceived and lost two children before giving birth to a third (who also passed away) in the refugee camp in Syria she currently calls home.
(03.02.19) – The Perfect Gift For Right-Wing Nationalist Acquaintances? Letters To A German Friend
The collective Letters to a German Friend were clandestinely written and published by Camus during the Nazi occupation of France. The context must be taken into account here: these letters do not discuss Germany as it stands today, but rather what it represented under the Third Reich – fascism and the intolerance of diversity and dissent. Camus himself states that the letters should be viewed as “contrasting two attitudes, not two nations, even if, at a certain moment in history, these two nations personified two enemy attitudes.”
(06.01.19) – Sudan Uprising
Sudan is burning. Literally.
Government offices have been set on fire. Areas in Darfur have been burning for quite some time, though Western media no longer reports on it. The killings in Darfur that proved to be the initial acts of a campaign of genocide took place in 2003. Since then 480,000 have been killed by President Bashir’s forces, which include his ‘Janjaweed’ militia, with a further 2.8 million being displaced.
(09.12.18) – Let’s Make 2019 the Year we Stand with the Traveller Community
‘Gypsy and traveller families ‘hounded out’ of areas in act of ‘social cleansing’ as councils impose sweeping bans’ was the ominous heading of a story printed in the Independent last month. It may sound like a news article from 1940s Italy, but this demonstrates the alarming fact that antigypsyism is perceived by many to be the last socially “acceptable” form of racism in the UK today.
(28.10.18) – Red Poppies vs White Poppies (and the problem with pacifism)
The red poppy/white poppy/no poppy debate has become increasingly emotive in recent years, as certain right wing groups have co-opted it for their own warped ethno-nationalist causes, bringing forth the notion of ‘poppy fascism’: If you’re not wearing a red poppy you must be some kind of terrorist sympathizer, or a communist… if you don’t like this country and what it stands for you can fuck off to another. Nice. Of course most people who wear a red poppy don’t behave like this, but the minority who do, aside from being obnoxious, are loud, determined and represented by sensationalist and divisive British tabloids, resulting in ‘poppy fascism’ spreading exponentially.
(20.09.18) – On Anarchy, Antifa, and Apathy
In a left wing social media group I am part of, a member recently asked whether anybody supported Antifa, before continuing on to state that he personally feels that “they sound like the fascists they are trying to rid the world of” and harming the potential of the left. This sentiment was unexpected given the online location. Why do the words “anarchist” and “Antifa” provoke such strong negative reactions?
(16.08.18) – Palestine Solidarity: Compulsory Defence of Human Rights, not Anti-Semitism
May 2017 saw Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli detention uniting to take part in a hunger strike. Every Friday during the strike, street protests were held in solidarity and various other events took place under the motto ‘salt and water’. Some of my friends from Nablus, viewing horses as inextricable from ‘non-horsey’ aspects of life (their lives are absorbed by riding horses; taking selfies with horses; racing horses; breeding horses; bathing horses…) demonstrated solidarity non-violently by riding their horses into Nablus city centre, carrying Palestinian flags and calling for solidarity with the prisoners.
(07.08.18) – Refugee Solidarity in the Face of the Rising Far Right
Owen Jones recently pointed out that the far right is now at its strongest since the 1930s. A horrifying reality of today’s populist Europe. These groups have been unfailingly and cynically opportunistic in using terrorist attacks in Europe to galvanize hatred against Muslims, whilst presenting themselves as protecting white European innocents from the depravity of the Qu’ran, or simply as “not racist” concerned citizens who feel that we should help “our own” (read: white) homeless before helping others. This mindset has contributed to the election of far right governments in Poland, Hungary and Italy and demonstrates that we should not view these groups as fringe street-movements – they are effecting political change with horrifying efficiency through influencing voters.
Mainstream media is in on this, of course. As Chris Jarvis wrote in October 2016, the media’s reaction to refugees and migrants has been nothing short of inflammatory. The influence of mistruths presented in the media has led to vilification of refugees and migrants. In our failure to protect vulnerable people who are unable to seek protection in their country of origin, we have failed to learn history’s lesson. Enoch Powell would be proud of us. We should all be fucking ashamed of ourselves.