Real Media and Phoenix Media Co-op have teamed up to release a regular newsletter. True to our collective aims, we seek to provide bold, accurate, accessible journalism which is unashamedly internationalist and subversive. A key part of this is covering and sharing the work of people who are resisting and organising against marginalisation, oppression and destruction.
Together we will highlight and amplify the efforts of these people who are struggling in the UK and around the world to forge a better world.
First of all, we look at the story of a 3.5-metre puppet of a young Syrian refugee girl who has travelled across Europe and has just participated in events in London. Her journey will end in Manchester next month.
Real Media interviewed Naomi Webb, executive director of one of the production partners of an event at St Paul’s in London. She explained that the main purpose of the tour was to give a chance to the many positive voices who understand we need to give refuge to migrants who often flee countries with nothing. The Walk has reached out to youth, community groups, artists and schools all along the journey, hoping to spark conversation and counter some of the prejudice that exists against refugees.
While other cultural institutions including the Royal Shakespeare Company, the South Bank theatres, Scottish museums and others have ditched sponsorship deals, the Science Museum in London is under fire for strengthening its links with the fossil fuel industry.
Back in May, the Shell-sponsored “Our Future Planet” exhibition opened, and in June, young people from the UK Schools Climate Network were threatened with arrest and evicted by police when they tried to stage an overnight occupation.
this was a peaceful protest and this is how the cops respond, threatening and intimidating young people and scientists and it was the science museum who asked them to do thishttps://t.co/79QeG50Wwf pic.twitter.com/RmI0a6tS0m
— ukscn london 🌍🏴 (@ukscn_london) June 20, 2021
Campaign group Culture Unstained uncovered a gagging clause in the sponsorship agreement that prevented the museum from making any statement that could be seen as “discrediting or damaging the goodwill or reputation of the sponsor”.
Now that the museum has inflamed environmentalists by accepting sponsorship from mega coal corporation Adani for the new “Green Energy Gallery”, more protests are planned.
London Renters Union
On 25 October, residents of Milford Towers estate in London took action to highlight and oppose “squalid, unsafe and demeaning living conditions”. In a London Renters Union (LRU) protest, residents marched on Lewisham Council’s offices. They are demanding greater security, an end to a situation of disrepair, and a fire safety review. One resident said his time there has “been a nightmare”, and called it “slum living”. LRU says that “the towers are home to hundreds of low-paid, migrant, Black, Brown and Racialised tenants in temporary accommodation”, and residents’ “requests for repairs are totally ignored”.
The residents’ direct action pushed the council to commit to negotiations. Here, the residents are giving their letter to the Director of Housing:
After a mass direct action with more than 40 residents @LewishamCouncil have committed to negotiating with Milford Towers residents in two weeks!
Direct action works and there’s power in a union! ✊ pic.twitter.com/mZLh11G3OD
— London Renters Union (@LDNRentersUnion) October 25, 2021
Elsewhere, LRU organising pushed Lambeth Council to serve an ‘improvement notice’ on the landlord of Dorchester Court. Dorchester Court Tenants’ Union said: “There are 96 flats at the Court and our landlord is on the Sunday Times Rich List. Around 500 windows are going to be replaced with double glazing! This is a huge achievement and something we couldn’t have managed without fellow members of @LDNRentersUnion.”
Climate civil disobedience activists from Insulate Britain were back out on the streets on Monday despite High Court injunctions and strong warnings from the Home Secretary. They brought parts of the City of London to a standstill with roadblocks at three major intersections. It took police several hours to clear the last of the protesters, one of whom had glued their face to the road, and more than 50 people were arrested.
Insulate Britain is calling for firm commitments from the government to insulate social housing around the UK as “part of a just transition to full decarbonisation of all parts of society and the economy”.
Turkey’s Erdoğan lashing out under pressure
As Phoenix Media Co-op reported previously, NATO member Turkey has long launched cross-border attacks on Kurdish communities in northern Syria (aka Rojava). Autocratic Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdoğan torpedoed peace talks with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) back in 2015, and has targeted the PKK-inspired political system in Rojava ever since, despite these being among the most effective forces in the fight against Daesh and other extremists in the region. The Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal ruled in 2018 that the Turkish state had committed war crimes against the Kurdish people. And the country’s attacks on Rojava are “in violation of ceasefires brokered by Washington and Moscow”.
Erdoğan’s government has been able to retain power for almost two decades partially due to its reputation on the economy. But in the last five years, Turkey’s currency has tanked. And now, it has hit an all-time low (along with Erdoğan’s approval ratings). When in trouble previously, Erdoğan cracked down on his opponents. But one factor contributing to his current problems is the ongoing imprisonment of a philanthropist, Osman Kavala, who has previously supported Kurdish rights. Erdoğan has come under pressure to release Kavala, but has dug in and is currently in a standoff with his country’s allies as a result. Turkey is also now on an international watchlist for failing to end money laundering and financing of terrorism.
Previously, Erdoğan has got away with crackdowns at home and attacks on Rojava to distract from his bad governance. And Turkish aggression may soon turn from drone strikes to another invasion, with Ankara allegedly telling its fundamentalist allies in Syria to prepare for an operation against Rojava. But with Erdoğan raising tensions with Turkey’s normal allies, and increasing international recognition for Rojava’s democratic system, the autocratic leader is playing a very risky game.
- The Zapatista tour of Ireland (and Britain) continued. You can see images and information about the tour here, here, here, and here.
- Campaigners took to the streets to insist that the NHS should be for all people regardless of where they come from.
- Israel designated numerous Palestinian human rights groups as terrorist organisations, sparking widespread local and international opposition. People in the UK, meanwhile, continued to campaign against the presence of Israeli arms company Elbit. In Oldham, there were songs of resistance outside an arms factory; and on 26 October rapper Lowkey is due to perform at the location.
- West Papuan campaigners called for an end to Australian joint exercises with the occupying Indonesian forces. This comes as almost 3,000 Indigenous civilians have fled their homes as a result of Indonesian military operations in the region of Maybrat in the last couple of months.
- The Ethiopian government has been continuing controversial airstrikes in the Tigray region. This region has become home to one of the worst global hunger crises in years, largely as a result of a conflict that started in late 2020.
- Tensions between Mali’s coup regime and international bodies continue. There are reports of enforced disappearances, incommunicado detentions, and summary executions by state forces.
- There are ongoing US efforts to unionise Amazon workers.
- A Channel 4 report highlighted how Colombian leaders have been ignoring illegal deforestation despite significant support (allegedly for prevention) from the UK.
With Remembrance Day approaching, the White Poppy campaign is starting up again. As the Peace Pledge Union says: “White poppies stand for remembrance for all victims of war, both military and civilian, of all nationalities, as well as a commitment to peace and a challenge to any attempt to glamourise war.” It adds that: “Money raised through white poppy sales goes towards promoting nonviolent approaches to conflict and producing educational materials. Many white poppy wearers also donate to charities supporting veterans or other victims of war.”
There will be a protest to oppose the upcoming Malvern arms fair on 4 November. Campaign Against Arms Trade says: “The Three Counties Defence and Security Expo (3CDSE) is due to be held in November and is sponsored by BAE Systems, whose military exports to Saudi Arabia are implicated in thousands of civilian deaths in the civil war in Yemen.” There is also a petition calling for “the Three Counties Showground to withdraw hospitality from arms fairs, to implement an effective, ethical events and hiring policy, and to maintain its reputation for high quality education and entertainment.”
That’s all for this week, but please let us know of any stories and issues you’d like to see more of, and check out our new weekly round up ‘What’s Happening’ on our YouTube channel on Wednesday evenings (UK time).