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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ARTS MARKETS ARE NOT JUST FOR CHRISTMAS

By Carmina Masoliver

People tend to flock to arts markets during the festive season, looking for gifts for loved ones, or treating themselves. I write in celebration of these markets and to urge others who want to shop ethically to seek out their local arts markets all year round.

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THE FAR-RIGHT THREAT IN 2022: A CROSSROADS FOR EUROPE’S ROMA

by Jonathan Lee

Europe stands at a crucial juncture; as the pandemic enters its third year without an obvious end in sight, the far-right draws ever closer to the centres of power across the continent, and the very existence of the European Union as we know it faces renewed threats from both East and West of the bloc. The Covid-19 pandemic continues to threaten new emergency measures, lockdowns, and school closures in countries across Europe. The impact of these measures would be keenly felt by a vulnerable Romani population, already beleaguered by police violence, illegal quarantines, and distance learning which denies their children an education. The threat from the far-right, however – already steadily growing over the last decade within European politics – will have several opportunities to move even closer to the hallways of power this year, with potentially dire consequences for the continent’s largest and most marginalised ethnic minority group. In the midst of what could prove to be a tumultuous year for European politics, Europe’s 12 million strong population of Romani people stand to lose out more than most if the political pendulum swings the wrong way.

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THE GIRL AND THE DRAGON, BY SUITCASE STORYTELLING COMPANY – REVIEW

By Sarah Edgcumbe

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. 

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BEST LEADERSHIP FORWARD: WHERE’S THE OPPOSITION?

by Sunetra Senior

To mount successful opposition, Labour Leader, Keir Starmer, must embody an Evolved Left.

The ambiguous outcome of the recent by-election at North Shropshire has been telling: screaming even. Starmer is a leader of airs over recognisable reformative action. A microcosm of the calamity of the general election in the summer, the traditionally Tory stronghold in the North of England was lost to the Liberal Democrats as opposed to Labour, despite it being fertile territory for the latter in the wake of recent Conservative catastrophe: the explicit exposure of corruption, incompetent handling of the pandemic and the creeping economic fallout of Brexit, have seen the Tories floundering in the polls. Starmer’s red party should enjoy a stronger lead. A piece for Open Democracy states: “After the Conservatives, the biggest loser from this by-election is Labour. The party shed more than half of its vote share, from 22% to 10%, and was pushed into third place.” This is a deepening of the disillusionment from the nation-wide local election held earlier this year. Labour failed to make substantial gains, while also unable to regain Hartlepool as the party’s traditional heartland.  For someone who made ‘winning’ a lynchpin of his manifesto as announced at the annual Labour conference in Autumn, Starmer’s performance has been persistently poor. 

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