Defending humans, animals and free speech (What’s Happening newsletter #22)

Real Media logo and Phoenix Media Co-op logo side by side

Welcome to this week’s Real Media / Phoenix Media Co-op newsletter. Please also remember to subscribe on YouTube.

Opposing all wars, and defending free speech

The Russian war on Ukraine has killed hundreds of civilians so far, and free speech is suffering significantly. Reporters Without Borders says, “Vladimir Putin’s hostility to press freedom has reached an unprecedented intensity since the start of the war and the Kremlin now wants to eliminate all media that do not serve up its propaganda”. One journalist in Ukraine also told the organisation about torture at the hands of invading Russian forces. In Ukraine too, for months prior to the invasion journalists faced attacks, and now the Ukrainian government has ‘combined’ all the country’s TV channels. The government has also faced accusations of using the war as an excuse to dismantle workers’ rights.

It’s important to emphasise that other serious conflicts around the world are still in progress. Israeli human rights group B’Tselem continues to document how the apartheid forces of Israel terrorise people in occupied Palestine. Conflicts in Mali and Ethiopia continue to kill civilians. And in the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Yemen, the UN says that three quarters of the population will need food assistance to survive this year. 

Other international emergencies include Afghanistan, DR Congo, Myanmar, Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, and Syria. Numerous critics have called out the significant difference between Western responses to the Russian invasion of Ukraine and similar responses to existing conflicts where Western allies are the perpetrators (the Saudi-led war on Yemen being a prominent example).

In an example of powerful direct action against the arms trade, five people took to the roof of a US facility of Raytheon, demanding that the arms company “stop profiting from war, genocide, and colonial violence”. They were arrested several hours later.

Child Q

A shocking report last week from the City and Hackney Child Safeguarding Partnership revealed that, in 2020, a 15 year-old school pupil had been strip-searched by police officers, including being made to remove a sanitary pad, bend over and spread her legs. There was no ‘appropriate adult’ present, her parent had not been notified, and it was all because she smelt of cannabis. No drugs were found. The report identifies racism as a ‘contributing factor’ in the action.

Real Media filmed a rally outside Stoke Newington police station on Friday 18 March. Please watch and share.

The incident occurred in May 2020, but an IOPC police conduct investigation is yet to be concluded so no action has been taken against the officers involved. 42 MPs have signed a letter calling for urgent action and undertakings from the Home Secretary. You can see the full story here.

Elsewhere in London, children protested on 21 March against being searched before entering City and Islington Sixth Form College.

Scientists ‘flabbergasted’ by early emergence of climate tipping points

Last week, temperatures in the Arctic reached 30ºC above normal, while in the Antarctic, they were 40ºC above normal.

For opposite poles to break all-time records at the same time (in different seasons) is unprecedented, and climate scientists are concerned that although currently a one-off event, it could be a sign that global weather systems are reaching tipping points earlier than expected, leading to catastrophic runaway (i.e. irreversible) climate change.

Animal rights action

This week in animal rights:

  • Kernow Hunt Saboteurs thanked famous Cornish pub the Jamaica Inn after the landlord decided to ban hunts from meeting at the establishment. The decision came after Kernow Sabs and West Cornwall Hunt Sabs turned up to a joint meet between East Cornwall Hunt and Beaufort Hunt at the pub on the previous Saturday. A statement published on Facebook by the Jamaica Inn described the presence of the Beaufort Hunt as “extremely ill advised” and led to its decision.
  • Animal Rebellion declared victory as their proposal to turn Oxford City Council’s event catering 100% plant-based was adopted, despite opposition by high profile pundit Jeremy Clarkson.
  • The Countryside Alliance claimed victory after winning an amendment for the Animal Welfare (Sentience) Bill. The amendment will force the government to consider “religious rites, cultural traditions and regional heritage” when deciding on issues of animal sentience. Compassion in World Farming suggests it “could perhaps relate to hunting & other issues”.
  • The ‘Rabbit Liberation Unit’ claimed to have liberated 11 rabbits from a rabbit farm owned by T&S Rabbits. This is part of a wider campaign aimed at shutting the company down. Days later, Shut Down T&S Rabbits held a demo outside a Rutland farm owned by T&S Rabbits.

Other News

  • Just Stop Oil activists have been disrupting football matches in a series of actions to get their message to audiences not always the first to join climate protest movements. Watch their films. 1 2 3 4. They regularly hold open Zoom meetings for people to find out more, and they urge all to get involved in upcoming civil resistance.
  • On 26 March, the Solidaires union in France will hit the streets to call for an end to evictions and action to deal with the commercialisation of housing.
  • Ferry company P&O faced resistance from workers last week after its highly controversial sacking of staff. And on 21 March, RMT workers in London headed to parliament to call for action. Also in Westminster on the same day were private hire drivers calling for more regulation of the sector.
  • There were protests in Belize as British royals visited the country. They raised concerns about the royal family’s colonial legacy in the Caribbean, particularly through the current operations of their charitable work.
  • The Court of Appeal has rejected an appeal by young climate activists who argue that the government’s failure to take adequate measures to fulfil the Paris Agreement amounts to infringements of their rights to life and to family life. Other European countries have acknowledged the connection in law, but the UK Supreme Court has attracted criticism (including a letter signed by more than a hundred scientists and lawyers) for not doing so. The activists, backed by litigation charity Plan B, will now take the case to the European Court of Human Rights.

Please let us know of any stories and issues you’d like to see more of, remember to subscribe on YouTube, and please consider donating to help us carry on our work.