OUR LAND, OUR STREETS: NORWICH’S KILL THE BILL PROTEST

by Yali Banton-Heath

While Archant published clickbait headlines in the EDP and Norwich Evening News that chose to spotlight the pink chalk ‘vandalism’ of a war memorial, Saturday’s Kill the Bill protest in Norwich city centre was in fact a peaceful display of solidarity, and an empowering antidote to the violence that protesters elsewhere in the country have been subjected to. In Bristol, boards reading ‘People Over Property‘ now surround the former plinth of the Edward Colston statue, and act as a visual reminder of both the police and the media establishment’s skewed priorities when it comes to covering protests. Chalk gets washed away with a spell of wet weather. Authoritarian bills don’t. 

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BLIGHTED LIVES: ROMANI CHILDREN IN STATE CARE

Lil' Sister Looking Out The Window
by Bernard Rorke

CW: child mistreatment, state violence, abuse

Back in May 2018, both Vladimir Putin and former US Attorney General Jeff Sessions hit the headlines in the same week by threatening to take children away from their families. In the New Yorker, Masha Gessen called this a form of state terror: “Hostage-taking is an instrument of terror. Capturing family members, especially children, is a tried-and-true instrument of totalitarian terror.”

This form of ‘state terror’ is all too familiar to Europe’s Roma. While for centuries, racist folktales warned children not to wander into the woods lest they get ‘snatched by Gypsies’, the historical reality is quite the reverse. It is Romani children who have been kidnapped by the authorities and separated from their parents; kidnapped by authorities bent on forced assimilation, or in the case of the Nazis and their allies, gruesome experimentation and annihilation. In the democratic 21st Century, where anti-Roma racism has been routinized, disproportionate numbers of Romani children are removed from their biological families and placed in institutional state care.       

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THE NORWICH RADICAL IN 2020

by The Norwich Radical team

At year’s end, many of us feel the pull to try and put a positive spin on the preceding 12 month period – to celebrate its joys, while recognising its difficulties in order to put them behind us as we look to the new year with a hopeful eye. At the end of 2020, it is particularly difficult to find a positive angle from which to look back, or forward. The slow-motion explosion that is Brexit has rolled on, the UK government that came to power just over a year ago has taken every opportunity to demonstrate its incompetence and corruption, and the mainstream media has continued to side with the powerful over the marginalised. And then there’s the elephant in every room – the Covid-19 pandemic, which has pushed many of the institutions we rely on to breaking point, revealing just how little many governments care about the lives of their more vulnerable citizens. 

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ROMA ARE BEING EXCLUDED AS SCHOOLS IN TURKEY SWITCH TO DISTANCE LEARNING

roma turkey distance learning
by Jonathan Lee

In a small apartment in the Sancaktepe-Emek neighbourhood of Istanbul, 12-year-old Miray sits at home, trying to get her 9-month-old brother to sleep. Her other younger brother, only 3-years-old, plays on the floor. It is just past midday on a Tuesday – a school day – but Miray is at home, looking after her siblings while her mother is at work; unable to attend classes because of the Covid-19 pandemic, and unable to join her classmates remotely because of her family’s precarious financial situation.

Miray and her family belong to Europe’s largest and most discriminated ethnic minority group – the Roma – who because of centuries of persecution and exclusion often exist on the margins of society, where they are subjected to racism and poverty.

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RESISTANCE IN BUDAPEST: STUDENTS DEFY LATEST MOVE IN VIKTOR ORBÁN’S CULTURE WAR

free szfe hungary title
by Bernard Rorke

On the Wednesday evening of the 2nd of September, in a narrow street in Budapest’s eighth district, a large crowd gathered in solidarity with the students who have staged an occupation of Hungary’s University of Theatre and Film Arts (SZFE). The students had sealed the entrances to the building with red and white tape in protest against the latest power grab by the far-right government of Victor Orbán. 

From the first-floor balconies, students stood silently in yellow face masks with clenched fists, while below, leading figures from Hungary’s cultural and literary scene recited apposite verses from the country’s rich reserve of defiant, liberty-loving poetry. The students closed the event with a folk song and the crowd joined in defiant chants of ‘Szabad Ország, Szabad Egyetem! (Free Country, Free University!)’.  

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CRIMINALISING TRESPASS, PART ONE: SEDENTARIST IDEOLOGIES AND THE OUTLAWING OF TRAVELLING LIVES

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by Tesni Clare

Something strange is happening. Certain ways of life are slowly, quietly being enclosed, along with the land on which those lives depend. 

Last year Priti Patel opened a consultation on ‘Strengthening police powers to tackle unauthorised encampments’ ; in short, the government hopes to criminalise the act of trespassing when setting up an unauthorised encampment in England and Wales. The consultation is now closed and responses are being reviewed. The decision came as no surprise, considering Patel’s draconian desire for control over minority ways of life, along with the Conservative Party’s 2019 manifesto commitment to ‘make intentional trespass a criminal offence’.

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WILL IRAQ’S NEW PRIME MINISTER RECOGNISE ROMA RIGHTS?

by Sarah Edgcumbe

In early May 2020, Mustafa al-Kadhimi was appointed as Iraq’s new Prime Minister against the context of ongoing protests and popular discontent resulting from widespread government corruption. This corruption has contributed massively towards increasing poverty, reduction in public services and rising unemployment. Since the 2003 U.S. led invasion of Iraq, social cohesion has fractured perhaps (but hopefully not) irrevocably, with politics and society becoming increasingly sectarian.

The effects of the sectarian conflict in Iraq have been widely reported on, but the media has remained largely silent on the dire situation of the Iraqi Roma. This lack of attention by the media is reflective of the neglect of the Roma of Iraq by the government, humanitarian and human rights organizations and largely speaking, civic society in general. The complete lack of information produced by the Iraqi government on the Iraqi Roma is symptomatic of the de facto policies of ostracization and othering which have persisted since the formation of the Iraqi state in the 1920s. The number of Roma residents in Iraq, including the Kurdish Region of Iraq (KRI), is unknown, but best estimates place the figure at nearly 200,000 – translating to roughly 0.5% of the Iraqi population. Continue Reading

THE TORY RECORD ON GYPSIES, ROMA & TRAVELLERS MAKES FOR GRIM READING

by Jonathan Lee

A political party in the UK is defined by its members and its representatives. Regardless of the leader, the real character of a party is found in the policies it puts forward, and the things that its cabinet members, MPs, and local councillors do and say. In the Labour Party, the about turn the party took from being the neoliberal centre-right party of Tony Blair, to the democratic socialist party of Jeremy Corbyn was brought about by the will of its members. The elected politicians of the Labour Party do not always see eye-to-eye with their leader, but if you look at the collective things they say and do, and the policies they propose, there is a broad consensus on certain values which tell you the nature of the party as a whole. The same can be said of the Conservative Party. You can read more here if you want a ten year history of Conservative hate speech against Romani and Traveller people.

The following is a summary of Conservative policies which have affected Gypsies, Roma, & Travellers during the time the Conservatives have been in power.Continue Reading

RACIST FOOTBALL CHANTS ARE JUST THE TIP OF THE ICEBERG IN BULGARIA

by Jonathan Lee

Content warning: sexual assault, racist slurs, violence

On Monday 14th October, a UEFA Euro Qualifiers match between Bulgaria and England was forced to stop on two occasions after racist abuse from Bulgarian fans was aimed at Black players on the England team. The match, which was already subject to a partial stadium ban for previous incidents of racism, saw black clad, nazi saluting, monkey-chanting skinheads hijack the proceedings and force the stadium to issue announcements and the refereee to halt the game.

The three step UEFA protocol (which reached the second step on Monday night, the third would have abandoned the match) has been criticised for being ineffective and too soft to counter discrimination. Whilst UEFA’s public reaction to the racism has been firm, calling for “football’s family” to “wage war on the racists”, whether or not neo-nazis should be given two free gos at abusing Black English players before they are punished is a valid point.Continue Reading

ANTIGYPSYISM WILL NOT BE CURED BY NEOLIBERAL WISHFUL THINKING

by Jonathan Lee

There is a mendacious yet persistent fantasy that Roma could be saved from the horrors of racism and discrimination if only they weren’t so poor. It is the conservative idea that the free market can cure racism, that racism is purely a product of economic disparity, and that if only Roma were more economically engaged, most of the nasty symptoms of antigypsyism would simply fall away. Continue Reading