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?
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.
Institutional racism has, for many years, been the more unpleasant side of societies throughout the world. Black and other minority communities have long been oppressed by predominately white police departments. Crimes within these communities have rarely received the attention that equivalent crimes in white neighbourhoods have. Civil rights marches have been going on for years, social media tracks the violence of police forces, and the alternative media exposes the racist actions of institutions and establishment figures. But has anything really changed? Have we made any progress that truly shows a change in perception? Sadly, it doesn’t seem so.Continue Reading
At the start of November 2017, the UK Home Office released its official figures for referrals to the Prevent Counter-terror Programme for the 2015-2016 period. It showed that, of the 7,631 of all referrals, ‘Islamist extremism’ represented the greatest threat, young people were the most vulnerable to radicalisation, and authorities only needed to respond to a minority of cases. But there are problems with this reading, which are shown by exploring the nature of referrals and the political context in which they sit.Continue Reading
This series aims to vocalise and explore the realities of working as a creative freelancer in a world of ‘9-5ers’. By collating a diverse array of stories from a variety of creative professionals, I hope to contextualise the working art world and give space to discuss what it really means to become your own boss.
The crisp air shocks my puffy, tired face into some form of waking existence. The dog lead wrapped twice around my arm tugs and tugs – the tiny tyrant at the end insistent on getting personal with some arbitrary, malodorous gatepost. Ignoring the hunger gnawing in the pit of my stomach, I trudge on, disgruntled dog in tow. During this morning ritual my brain races as it thinks of self-made deadlines, promotional schemes to send to art directors, and commissions I want to apply for. Each thought tugs and tugs until no answer is arrived at. With no definite plan of how to approach my working day I walk on, still in my pyjamas. My partner left for work ten minutes ago, climbing into their calamitous car and cajoling themselves into the forty-five minute commute to their day job. I am already at work.
Last week, yet another of Theresa May’s lies was revealed: the number of international students staying in the UK after their visas expire isn’t anywhere near as high as she has frequently claimed. The idea that international students frequently stay in this country illegally was a touchstone of her policy whilst she sat as the Home Office Minister and has continually been backed up by her cabinet colleagues, including her successor to that ministry Amber Rudd.
However, on Thursday 24th August, the Office for National Statistics released new migration data showing that only 4600 international students have overstayed their visas. Not quite the hundreds of thousands that May, Rudd et al keep harping on about.Continue Reading
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.
Content warning: mentions violence against women, rape.
Britain has the greatest area of land dedicated to the indefinite detention of human beings in Europe. This is legal.
A former inmate looks at the place in which her back was physically, literally, broken and says don’t give up. Women thread flowers through this border within a border within a border. The border is admitted only by the letters IRC. Green paint flecks cling to the toes of your boots. On a hill do not question whether the people with the kite-fluttering hands can see you.
Is it rare to recall dreams. Where can I find this on gov.uk. If the guards are rapists what does that make the walls. How do you resist the lines you were born the right side of. How do you resist. Can love and hatred happen at the same time, and transform you equally. Are there two kinds of hatred. How about three. How about in the same place, at the same time. And built into the container itself – the beige, the smallness of the windows, the low shade of the roof, the two fields away from the road where no one is living. How are you. Do you need water. Can you read the sign from that window. Is this your first time. When will we deport Theresa. Is there a postcode for here. Have they repainted the fence. Is it really violent to kick it so that it thunders. Who is bringing the smoke flares next time, and in what colour. Do you need water. How do you resist. Is it violence when your window looks over an unreachable place, when that unreachable place is so blooming. Is it when everything is glass and unbreakable. What is the consensus on winding yourself at a border with a child’s party toy to say in a way I make noise therefore you are. Are there two kinds of hatred. How about four. How about one for each piece of sand on a beach in southeast Europe. Do you need water. Is this your first time. Is it violent. When this is all over, will people laugh at the theory of lying flowers on a has-been border, as if it were a wrist.
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