Yemen, Palestine, & Climate Emergency Centres (What’s Happening newsletter #23)

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.

Remember Yemen and hold Saudi Arabia accountable

In recent days, there were numerous calls for accountability over the West’s ongoing alliance with the dictatorship of Saudi Arabia. These came in the wake of the country’s announcement that it had just executed 81 people in its biggest mass execution in several decades. They also came amid Formula 1’s hypocritical support for the Saudi Grand Prix while cancelling the Russian Grand Prix.

In 2015, the controversial Western ally led a military coalition that launched a war of aggression against Yemen. This devastating conflict still continues seven years later, and the UN has regularly given it the title of “the world’s worst humanitarian crisis”. According to the Yemen Data Project, the war has killed around 9,000 civilians so far, and there have been numerous accusations of Saudi war crimes. Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) has called for people to write to the prosecutor at the International Criminal Court (ICC) asking him to investigate these crimes.

The European Civil Protection And Humanitarian Aid Operations said on 28 March that “19 million people will face acute food insecurity by June 2022”, and “Up to 161,000 people will face famine-like conditions during the second half of the year”.

On 23 March, ordinary people gathered outside an elite dinner where arms dealers were networking. And Yemen featured prominently in their protest:

Then, as the Saudi Grand Prix took place on 27 March, human rights groups highlighted why the event was so vile:

Declassified UK has created a damning infographic to demonstrate UK support for the Saudi-led war on Yemen.

In the US, there will be a rally on 2 April to encourage politicians to end the country’s support for the war.

Free speech, #FreePalestine

Grassroots campaigners at Palestine Action have struck again, targeting Israeli arms manufacturer Elbit in Leicester:

This comes as people trying to shut down criticism of Israeli apartheid have targeted rapper Lowkey, who is outspokenly supportive of the Palestinian people’s struggle. Numerous artists have since written a letter of solidarity calling Lowkey “the target of a coordinated smear campaign to demonise, defame and deplatform him”. The musician himself has said: 

This coordinated campaign is an extension of the brutalisation of the Palestinians. Palestinians are routinely arrested by Israel for posts on social media, even children. Dareen Tatour spent almost a year in occupation jail for posting a poem to her Facebook.

And he stressed defiantly: “We will not be silenced on Palestine, not now, not ever.”

How to set up Climate Emergency Centre

Amidst all the bad news, there are always moments of hope, community and resilience. Here’s one:

A small group of people set up a ‘community interest co-op’ (easier than it sounds), and approached the owner of a huge building in London. Business rates while the property was empty were a massive £100k per annum. So, a deal was struck. The co-op approached the council with a plan to run community events, classes, talks and so on. In return, the council waived the rates and the thankful owner, saving £100k, agreed to donate £10k to help set up the centre. The building was secure, in use, and an asset to the council and the community. The owner got free guardianship and massive kudos with the council. The community got a new volunteer-run resource where people networked, learned, and supported each other. It lasted a whole year.

Sounds like a fairy tale? Well no, it actually happened, but we’re sworn to secrecy where.

It doesn’t always go quite so beautifully, and a lot of hard work and time is involved, but similar projects are springing up all over the UK, and on Saturday we filmed at the latest Climate Emergency Centre, which opened in a former restaurant in the heart of London’s Angel Shopping Centre. In this case, the owners haven’t donated any money, but have offered the space on a short term basis for free.

Read more about it and watch the film at

Other News

  • Both Real Media and Phoenix Media Co-op have received awards from the Independent Media Association (an organisation comprising more than 50 media outlets). Phoenix Media Co-op won the International Reporting of the Year award and you can see a summary of our best stories here. Real Media, meanwhile, won four awards: for environmental, political and equalities coverage, and for best film.
  • The Tyre Extinguishers network (whose launch we mentioned in our newsletter three weeks ago) have continued their campaign to shame SUV use in urban areas. They have a downloadable leaflet on their website, and they encourage people to simply let down tyres on private SUVs (not work vehicles, NHS, or disabled) and leave the warning and explanation leaflet on the windscreen. Their campaign seems to be spreading fast, with hundreds of vehicles targeted in 13 cities at launch, hundreds more since, and copycat movements springing up internationally.
  • Oil and energy giants in the West gave about $100bn to the Russian government between 2014 and 2021, according to a recent analysis from Global Witness, Greenpeace USA, and Oil Change International.
  • On 23 March, Animal Rebellion locked on to a lorry supplying the Kedassia slaughterhouse. The group claims this is the “last remaining slaughterhouse” in London, and that the lorry is the “only” one to supply the facility. It said there were no chickens in the vehicle at the time. The action was part of Animal Rebellion’s Gardens Not Slaughterhouses campaign, which aims to shut Kedassia slaughterhouse down.
  • From Liverpool to Rotterdam, there was ongoing solidarity with hundreds of UK workers whom P&O fired recently. In Rotterdam, dockers refused to load a P&O ferry destined for Hull. In Liverpool, dozens of people blockaded the port.

The next couple of months are shaping up to be extraordinary. 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.