by Bernard Rorke
CW: child mistreatment, state violence, abuse
Back in May 2018, both Vladimir Putin and former US Attorney General Jeff Sessions hit the headlines in the same week by threatening to take children away from their families. In the New Yorker, Masha Gessen called this a form of state terror: “Hostage-taking is an instrument of terror. Capturing family members, especially children, is a tried-and-true instrument of totalitarian terror.”
This form of ‘state terror’ is all too familiar to Europe’s Roma. While for centuries, racist folktales warned children not to wander into the woods lest they get ‘snatched by Gypsies’, the historical reality is quite the reverse. It is Romani children who have been kidnapped by the authorities and separated from their parents; kidnapped by authorities bent on forced assimilation, or in the case of the Nazis and their allies, gruesome experimentation and annihilation. In the democratic 21st Century, where anti-Roma racism has been routinized, disproportionate numbers of Romani children are removed from their biological families and placed in institutional state care.
In a small apartment in the Sancaktepe-Emek neighbourhood of Istanbul, 12-year-old Miray sits at home, trying to get her 9-month-old brother to sleep. Her other younger brother, only 3-years-old, plays on the floor. It is just past midday on a Tuesday – a school day – but Miray is at home, looking after her siblings while her mother is at work; unable to attend classes because of the Covid-19 pandemic, and unable to join her classmates remotely because of her family’s precarious financial situation.
Miray and her family belong to Europe’s largest and most discriminated ethnic minority group – the Roma – who because of centuries of persecution and exclusion often exist on the margins of society, where they are subjected to racism and poverty.
By Jonathan Lee
Part I of this article can be found here.
Since the United Kingdom signed the Withdrawal Agreement and formally left the European Union on 31st January, Remainers and Leavers are just as polarised as they ever were. Much of the rhetoric from Leavers and Remainers demonstrates a warped understanding of what the EU actually is and how it works. In this part, we address a few notable example of the things which both sides get very, very wrong.
By Jonathan Lee
Lots of people are probably feeling quite deflated at the moment, after the United Kingdom finally signed the Withdrawal Agreement and officially left the European Union on 31st January. Liberal Remainers are certainly making their grief known to the world, crying from the digital rooftops and tearing their virtual hair out. Meanwhile the most fanatic Leavers are probably wondering why all the foreigners are still here and why milk and flour still comes in litres and kilograms. It’s all fiction of course. We’ve not left the EU yet in economic terms, so until the end of the year almost nothing will change. Continue Reading
by Jonathan Lee
Content warning: sexual assault, racist slurs, violence
On Monday 14th October, a UEFA Euro Qualifiers match between Bulgaria and England was forced to stop on two occasions after racist abuse from Bulgarian fans was aimed at Black players on the England team. The match, which was already subject to a partial stadium ban for previous incidents of racism, saw black clad, nazi saluting, monkey-chanting skinheads hijack the proceedings and force the stadium to issue announcements and the refereee to halt the game.
The three step UEFA protocol (which reached the second step on Monday night, the third would have abandoned the match) has been criticised for being ineffective and too soft to counter discrimination. Whilst UEFA’s public reaction to the racism has been firm, calling for “football’s family” to “wage war on the racists”, whether or not neo-nazis should be given two free gos at abusing Black English players before they are punished is a valid point.Continue Reading
by Sunetra Senior
A news-based long read of the darkening climate under Boris Johnson, and consequent examination of the solutions.
NB: this piece was written before the announcement of the suspension of parliament. The call to progressive action is of the utmost urgency.
Shock, horror!! Boris Johnson is Prime Minister, we are on the verge of a catastrophic No-Deal Brexit, and Trump’s ego is bigger than ever before. Prior to this, the Scandinavian Peninsula, or the magical lands of social democracy and hygge, saw the rise of a nationalist group in Finland. There were also the New Zealand shootings in a show of Islamophobia, so horrific, that the country’s PM moved to ban militarised weapons practically overnight. So, amidst this caustic circus, where is the progressive clout? Given the gradual upheaval of the moral development of society, it’s apt to return to a timeless saying: ‘The personal is the political.’Continue Reading
by Jonathan Lee
After the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, England football fans had enjoyed a slightly improved reputation internationally for behaving themselves a bit better at away games in Europe. This illusion was shattered last week in Portugal for all the world to see, as boozy lads in shorts and polos attacked locals with bottles, wrecked cars, and clashed with police on the streets of Porto. It turns out that, without Russian ultras and law enforcement to keep them in line, England’s lads-on-tour stag party of intolerance and imperialist nostalgia is just as present in the travelling fan culture as it always has been. Embedded homophobia, a staple of the hooligan culture of old, also reared its ugly head again in Portugal with some England fans feeling unsafe among their own supporters.
“I experienced more homophobia in 3 hours here than I did in 3 weeks in Russia,” said Joe White, an English football fan and co-founder of LGBT+ supporters group Three Lions Pride. “And this has all come from England fans” he added. “LGBT+ is clearly not welcome.”
By Sarah Edgcumbe
Since the beginning of the conflict in Syria in 2012, over three million civilians have fled the country. The vast majority are currently living in Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq, Jordan, Egypt and Libya. Afghanistan has been subjected to war for four decades resulting in Afghans comprising the second highest refugee population in the world, yet the vast majority of Afghan refugees live in Iran and Pakistan. This resettlement of Syrian and Afghan refugees in neighbouring countries is no anomaly: the majority of refugees around the world reside in countries neighbouring their own. These countries often have poor economies and fragility of peace and governance, yet they often accommodate millions of refugees.
by Jonathan Lee
I am probably not the image most people have in their mind when they think of a Gypsy.
My mother is of mostly Irish-American stock – which gives me a few ginger wisps in my beard, and a smattering of freckles across my nose and cheeks. My hair is dark brown, not black. I don’t wear a lolo diklo (red scarf) around my neck, or a staddi kali (black trilby hat) on my head. Most of the time I wear jeans and t-shirt, I rarely ever dance on tables, and I have no piercings or tattoos. I live in an apartment in the centre of a European capital with a woman whom I am not married to, and I travel only about 20 minutes maximum by foot every day to go to work.
If I ask you to close your eyes and picture a Gypsy in your mind’s eye you probably see someone with bangles and gold hoop earrings, floral patterned clothing, long hair, and dark flashing eyes. They may or may not have a tambourine, and may or may not be wearing a turban with a little gem in the centre holding it up. Maybe you see a fortune teller, or a travelling metalsmith? Perhaps a musician? If you are European, more likely you also see a beggar, a thief, a criminal.Continue Reading
By Robyn Banks
Content warning: fascism, mass state violence
Last week the Spanish government approved the exhumation of the body of General Franco, the fascist dictator who ruled over Spain for most of the 20th century. Whilst this may not seem like a huge deal on the face of it, it is massive news in Spain and to those with an awareness of Spanish politics. Franco’s ‘legacy’ has been hanging over Spain since his death in 1975. This decision marks a major point of departure for the country.