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.
It’s been over a week since Turkey launched a fresh military offensive targeting Kurdish forces in northeast Syria. The death toll in Rojava is rising, and an exodus of civilians from the area has already reached a mass scale. Conflict in Syria thus deepens, becoming ever more complex, with the Syrian regime armed forces now reported to have moved into Kurdish controlled Manbij in order to counter the Turkish invasion. But what has sparked this new wave of insurgency? What role does the US have? What are the Kurds fighting for? And what significance does this have for the wider global justice movement?
Content warning: Article mentions suicide.
The political transition we have seen in NUS over the last 12 months would have been unthinkable this time last year. The student movement has risen to the growing need for radical action this year, building groundbreaking, vital campaigns, presenting a powerful response to the many crises modern students face.
The Norwich Radical contacted all candidates in this year’s UEA Students Union officer elections for comment on why they’re running and what they stand for. These articles are intended to offer an insight into the current and future state of the union and of the UEA more broadly.
UEA Students can vote at uea.su/ueavotes until Tuesday March 21st.
By Noorulann Shahid, NUS LGBT+ Officer (Open Place)
The year is 2014. A group of trans activists are standing huddled around an iPad in a small room filled with baggage at the University of Nottingham. Glances and expressions of hope, determination and anxiety shoot around the room. I can see the focus in my peers’ eyes. I hastily jot down some notes, soon after which we scatter back onto the conference floor. There is a sense of tension and seriousness in the room as delegates wait to debate a highly-anticipated motion. When the motion is finally called out, the trans rep on NUS LGBT campaign committee delivers an impassioned speech for the creation of a full-time NUS Trans officer.
by Nicholl Hardwick
Content warning: this article mentions sexual harassment, sexual assault, and rape.
Here is a little snippet of the continuous thoughts and actions that are applicable to many women when walking alone as the night begins to descend.
- Multiple checks over her shoulder.
- Trying to cover up and make your self look as undesirable as possible (pulling down top, head down, arms covering torso).
- Weapon ready in hand (Keys slipped between enclosed fist, rape alarm, pepper spray etc.).
- Analysing what the quickest escape route is (Your mind works like a ninja e.g. what is the quickest way to exit the park? THROUGH THE TREES!)
- Being ultra responsive to sound (the snap of a twig = RUN YOU FOOL)
- The old ‘I’m talking on my phone so you can’t attack me’ trick, when in reality your phone died two hours ago.
- The ability to power walk like a trouper — thighs of steel — the quicker you get home the sooner you can stop shitting yourself that you’re not going to make it.
- The avoidance of headphones — If you’ve got Bey on full blast then you ain’t gonna hear the footsteps!
- The ability for women to have extensive knowledge of all ‘well lit’ routes in their area — THERE MUST BE LIGHT OTHERWISE IT’S MY FAULT — our minds work like twisted Satnavs.
- The continuous regret that you didn’t just save money and get a taxi.
by Emmanuel Agu
Classically, a university education especially one of Russell group or Red-Brick standard universities has been marked as a distinction of class mobility, we know that the those in the upper percentage of wealth in this country are typically high academic achievers. Factually that merit of class distinction has belonged disproportionately to white men; though due to a long legacy of educational reform and positive action to break down these barriers, the goal of societal equality is ever more obtainable.
As Fraser Nelson, editor of The Spectator states: girls are 30% more likely to go to university than boys, and that BME students remain on the top end of university admission statistics; facts that deserve much celebration as they have been attained largely without positive discrimination quotas. Yet to one who chose to who see facts at only the surface level of the wider situation; this state of affairs only upsets him. He calls on the plight of the ‘white working class men’ espousing rhetoric concerning feminism “becoming detached from equality” and should instead reach to that of bridging the between women and working class men. Similarly in national focus on the BME attainment gap Nelson states, “In spite of all we hear to the contrary, this is a pretty good country in which to be young, gifted and black.”
by Kat Boettge
Whatever the future holds we must work together for unity. After this dreadful referendum and the Brexit vote we must all pull together. The country appears divided, the young vs the older generations, the north vs the south, the “leavers” vs “remainers”. Such divisions, promoted by the wealthy and powerful, have helped them to avoid responsibility for their economic crimes and allowed the 1% to prosper at the expense of the 99%. Meanwhile the left is facing turmoil.
by Emmanuel Agu
Content warning: mass shooting, homophobia, mental health
In the wake of the Pulse nightclub shooting, myself members of queer societies and wider society are yet again pulled into self-reflection in this time of despair. The tragedy stands as a solid reminder that those who live queer lives are aberrant; there are those who can never accept us — our death is the only thing that can appease them. A solid reminder that when these atrocities strike our communities — those who are struck hardest will be the queer people of colour, our trans siblings and disabled siblings. It was a solid reminder of the extent of homophobia within our society leads to; whilst simultaneously exposing the exclusion of faith within our spaces of activism and self-organization. It is entirely uplifting to see people from across the world and many facets of society declare their solidarity following #weareorlando trend; I am filled with pride and affirmation that the life style myself and my kinfolk live are valid, we deserve recognition, we deserve to be able to celebrate our cultures — to simply exist, without fear of decimation and harm.
I do not mean to detract from these displays of solidarity, but it is necessary to also ask one another to what extent are we responsible for the development of Omar Mateen?
In February The Norwich Radical carried an article by Chris Jarvis entitled ‘How I fell out of love with Peter Tatchell‘. This is Tatchell‘s reply.
by Peter Tatchell
A reply to the sectarian distortions of Chris Jarvis.
The future of progressive politics is under threat, again. But this time from the left. Historically, socialists and greens have made gains by building broad alliances around a common goal, such as the campaigns against the poll tax and the bombing of Syria. We united together diverse people who often disagreed on other issues. Through this unity and solidarity, we won. The government of the day was forced to back down.
Nowadays, we are witnessing a revival of far ‘left’ sectarian politics and it is infecting the Green Party too. Zealous activists, seemingly motivated by a desire to be more ‘left’ and pure than rivals, are putting huge energy into fighting and dragging down other campaigners.
by Chris Jarvis
February 12th saw the release of St Lucian born musician Taj Weekes’ fifth full length album Love Herb and Reggae – a collection of fourteen bouncing, mellow reggae tunes with his band Adowa. In 51 minutes, Taj’s lyrics cover the full assortment of reggae’s lyrical history, touching on politics, human rights, marijuana and love. And yet from the opening hook, to its final, fading gasps, it never slips into cliché or stereotype, proving itself to be original and unique and without doubt their strongest record to date.
by Robyn Banks
Once upon a time, a man named Tony Blair looked in to a mirror, turned out the lights and repeated ‘Education, education, education’. Little did he know at the time that this event would herald the eventual downfall of civilisation through the birth of a whole new kind of student totally unlike the hardy and privileged students of old. If you come on to UEA campus at night you’ll see these new students, sleeping peacefully in their incubated pods in the library and the lecture halls, wrapped in blankets of bubble wrap and trigger warnings. They’re a bit like adults, these students, but not quite. They’re certainly adult enough to have a tabloid smear campaign waged against them, but, unlike other adults, these students have never seen the outside world.
by Emmanuel Agu
Let’s face it, the history we are exposed to in this state is white-oriented, Eurocentric and frequently glamourizes the power and history of Britain’s Imperialism. School curriculum’s explain theorems, recount stories and literature of white heroes, white professors and white creatives. Our history museums and art establishments are filled to the brim of treasures looted from Africa and Asia that continue to remain in our state for claims of ‘greater accessibility’ for the rest of the world– Infact even within the castle of our Monarch sits the remains of buried princes forcibly taken from their homes. In the supremacist society we live in- white history is celebrated and panegyrized daily, don’t be so ignorant as to ask for your time of remembrance when society does not exclude you.
Black history month exists in defiance of the structures that chose to exclude those that supremacy excludes- but one must, ask what does it mean to be black?
by Robyn Banks
Last week Nobel Prize winning scientist, Sir Tim Hunt, addressed an audience of senior female scientists at the World Conference of Science Journalists in South Korea. “Let me tell you about my trouble with girls”, he said, “Three things happen when they are in the lab: you fall in love with them, they fall in love with you, and when you criticise them, they cry.” This was reportedly met with stony silence, which is hardly a surprise. He later clarified that, although the comments were intended as a “joke”, he meant what he said and was just trying to be “honest, actually”. Women present at the conference took to twitter to voice their discomfort, sparking a twitter storm of derision, humour and critique. The story made the national press and less than 48 hours later, Sir Tim Hunt had resigned from his faculty position at University College London.
This week, the Daily Mail published a story by Sarah Vine titled ‘March of the feminist bullies!’. In it she referred to the complaining women as humourless “feminazis”, as “stupid, pampered, spoilt” and lamented the fact that “men like [Tim Hunt] can’t be allowed to go around the place making giant scientific breakthroughs of the kind that may one day lead to, oh I don’t know, a cure for cancer, unless and until they have fully submitted to the will of the mob”. And, in true sisterly fashion, wrote that she despaired of her sex.
by Robyn Banks
The Focus E15 campaign began suddenly in August 2013 when 29 young or expectant mothers, who had been residing in the Focus E15 hostel for homeless young people, were served eviction notices by East Thames Housing Association after Newham council severed its funding. Appealing to the council for help, the E15 mums were told that due to cuts to housing benefit and a lack of social housing, they would have to be relocated as far away as Manchester or Birmingham and suffer the consequences of being plucked suddenly from their homes, families and support networks.
The move, which many consider to be one of many changes taking place involving the relocation of people on low incomes to outside of London — a form of social cleansing — prompted one of the most fiery and successful grassroots anti-cuts campaigns under the conservative government. The Focus E15 mums got organised, protested and held marches and occupations for ‘social housing, not social cleansing’ to pressure Newham Council. Although the campaign was born from individual need and the right to have a roof over your head, when the E15 mums act women everywhere benefit.
In the fallout of the Charlie Hebdo shootings, there are so many avenues of investigation that require a spectrum of analysis – and in due course the tragedy will no doubt be discussed from every angle, and in excruciating detail. Over the past week, there has been comparatively little debate on the idea supposedly central to the Parisian publication itself though – satire. In an age of seemingly perpetual outrage, offensive material is routinely accepted because it dresses in the clothes of ‘satire’. But in the wake of Charlie Hebdo, somebody needs to ask the question “what exactly is satire, and who should it serve?”