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?
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.
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.
The following was originally published as the afterword to the collection Love after Babel and Other Poems by Chandramohan S, published in January 2020 by Daraja Press. The collection won the Nicolás Cristóbal Guillén Batista Outstanding Book Award in January of this year. You can order a copy direct from Daraja Press here.
They ask me why do you write poems?
I write poems – the people have the right to…bear arms.
These lines, taken from his one-stanza masterpiece ‘Why Do I Write Poetry?’, encapsulate the very essence of Chandramohan S’ approach to his craft in his third collection, Love after Babel and Other Poems. These poems are unapologetically weapons, fighting against the pre-modern notion of caste in all its insidious 21st century glory.
by Alessandra Arpaia
CW: abuse, sexual assault, drowning, death.
Last month Italian Prime Minister and former European Central Bank president, Mario Draghi, took his first trip abroad since he assumed office. He chose to visit Libya, and met with Libyan president Abdel Hamid Mohamed Dbeibeh to discuss the countries’ economic ties and cooperation on tackling irregular immigration. During his visit, Draghi congratulated the Libyan government on their work over recent years in stemming the movement of migrants who leave Libya’s coast in hope of finding refuge in Europe.
The truth is, and as many investigations have shown, Libya’s ‘rescue missions’ out at sea often result in the transportation of people to Libyan detention camps notorious for their human rights violations.
Content warning: references to and short descriptions of sexual harassment, sexual violence, xenophobia, homophobic & transphobic abuse.
Made by Sea and Wood, in Darkness, the debut novel by Alexandros Plasatis, weaves together a collage of stories that tell the experience of Egyptian immigrants in Greece through a variety of voices. The stories are primarily set in and around Café Papaya in Kavala, where Pavlo the waiter works nights, acting as both a main character and an observer of the Egyptian fishermen. In snapshots of a male underworld, violence dominates this narrative, as the central female character Angie the barmaid fights against being cast as a victim.
In this era of jaw-dropping politics and marionette-style blunders, Boris Johnson has done it again. This time, though he may not have landed any more mums in Persian clinks, it seems he’s just landed Britain in a little more shit.
‘Is anyone else seeing this?’ I thought (admittedly with some relish) as I read that 600,000 Hong Kong citizens are, on Boris’s invitation, seeking permanent residency in the UK within the next two years.
Content warning: mentions transphobia
As the Green Party lets its members elect its third member of the House of Lords, one candidate’s name has jumped to my attention more than the rest: Rupert Read. For those who don’t know, Read is an Associate Professor in Philosophy at the University of East Anglia, a former Green Party Councillor in Norwich and, according to his website, a ‘climate and environmental campaigner’. Whilst this can be seen as an impressive list of roles and beliefs, these aren’t the reason that Read’s name caught my eye.
by Sarah Edgcumbe
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. Continue Reading
by UEA Exodus
Every year, UEA’s School of Literature, Drama and Creative Writing decide a season of plays, performed and produced by third year Drama Students. This year, they present Exodus, ‘two plays on power and conflict’; both works of dramatic literature set during the 20th century but inspired by legends of antiquity. John Steinbeck’s ‘The Grapes of Wrath’, and Bertolt Brecht’s ‘The Caucasian Chalk Circle’. Both plays look at mass departures of people, engendering the ever present plight of refugees having to leave their homes.