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.
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.
by Ewa Giera
Content warning: xenophobia, discrimination
The Day of the Duck, by Helen Stratford and Lawrence Bradby, takes form of neither a scripted play, nor a novel: intertwined with visual diagrams, elements of script and a simple, character-driven narrative, the book is a unique experience as opposed to a traditional novel. The story revolves around a Muscovy duck, the last of its species in a town heavily based on Ely in Cambridgeshire, whose goal is to discover why its brethren have all disappeared. The book is framed as a noir detective-style plot – the Muscovy duck takes on the role of the detective and asks all the uncomfortable questions to people whose names it’s not concerned with, which serves the aim of having the characters translate as everymen.
by Lee-Anne Lawrance
As we approach the (extended) close of the consultation to the reform of the Gender Recognition Act, one group of activists is calling for a calm and rational debate – or in their words, a ‘respectful and evidence-based discussion’.
The current debate has been dominated by a group of so-called ‘feminists’ and supporters who oppose the changes, citing ‘concerns’ for women. The concerns they raise however are based on false information. Nothing short of propaganda is used to disseminate this false information to the wider public.
Content warning: mentions racism, violence, hate crimes
The Brexit negotiations have long ceased to be about deal making and more about the imposition of values and principles. From the start, British values have been about finding someone to blame, a bogeyman. Islamists, immigrants, bankers, the EU; it really no longer matters who just as long as someone can be put against the wall and publicly and figuratively shot. The problem is that this has become such an intricately entwined aspect of British society that the ability to dispatch from the blame game and actually go about resolving an issue is fast disappearing from the national psyche. It is much better to pile up the bodies and stare admiringly at the perceived resolution of society’s ills. Just below the surface however, simmers a violent and angry determination to enforce British values at all cost, threatening to overtake all sense of decency.
Owen Jones recently pointed out that the far right is now at its strongest since the 1930s. A horrifying reality of today’s populist Europe. These groups have been unfailingly and cynically opportunistic in using terrorist attacks in Europe to galvanize hatred against Muslims, whilst presenting themselves as protecting white European innocents from the depravity of the Qu’ran, or simply as “not racist” concerned citizens who feel that we should help “our own” (read: white) homeless before helping others. This mindset has contributed to the election of far right governments in Poland, Hungary and Italy and demonstrates that we should not view these groups as fringe street-movements – they are effecting political change with horrifying efficiency through influencing voters.
Mainstream media is in on this, of course. As Chris Jarvis wrote in October 2016, the media’s reaction to refugees and migrants has been nothing short of inflammatory. The influence of mistruths presented in the media has led to vilification of refugees and migrants. In our failure to protect vulnerable people who are unable to seek protection in their country of origin, we have failed to learn history’s lesson. Enoch Powell would be proud of us. We should all be fucking ashamed of ourselves.
By Lewis Martin
Two weeks ago, Donald Trump signed an executive order bringing an end to the separation of undocumented migrant children from their parents. This was widely reported in the mainstream press as a win for those had publicly campaigned against this policy. But just saying that doesn’t make it so. The executive order did bring an end to the separation of children from their parents, but there has been no commitment to reuniting the families already separated. Children previously taken from their parents are being kept in camps in the Texan desert, while families crossing the border since the executive order are being transferred to ICE ‘Family Detention Centres’, which have extremely limited capacity. Whilst this was picked up by smaller media outlets and on social media, many in the mainstream press didn’t acknowledge these complications, focusing only on the initial ‘win’.