openDemocracy en Dying for Justice: black and minority ethnic deaths in custody <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>509 suspicious deaths of people from BME, migrant and asylum seeker communities in state custody over 23 years.&nbsp;<span style="line-height: 1.5;">Five prosecutions. Not one single conviction.</span><span style="line-height: 1.5;">&nbsp;A chilling report from the&nbsp;</span><span style="line-height: 1.5;">Institute of Race Relations.</span></p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="" alt="" title="" width="460" height="382" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><p>Twenty-six years it has taken the families of the 96 killed at Hillsborough to force out <a href="">the confession</a> from police chief inspector David Duckenfield that he had lied about procedures on that fateful day in 1989 and was in fact responsible for the&nbsp; crowd surge which ultimately killed so many. </p><p>On 23 March in the House of Lords, Stephanie Lightfoot-Bennett, holding back her tears, told a meeting how<em> she</em> was still having to fight twenty-two years after the death of her twin brother Leon Patterson in Manchester to find out how he died and make the authorities take responsibility. </p><p>She was there to support the launch of a report from the Institute of Race Relations on 509 suspicious deaths of people from BME, migrant and asylum seeker communities in police, prison custody and the detention estate between 1991 and 2014, which have resulted in just five prosecutions and not one conviction in a quarter of a decade – so stacked is the system in favour of our custodians. Hundreds of confused, bereaved, and frustrated families are all still, in the report’s title, dying for justice. </p> <p>The research shows that the majority of deaths, 348, took place in prison, 137 in police custody and twenty-four in the immigration detention estate. One in three of the total deaths were as a result of self-harm and in sixty-four cases the person was known to have mental health problems. Medical neglect was a contributory factor in forty-nine cases and in forty-eight the use of force appears to have contributed to a person’s death.</p> <p>It is ironic that in the same week that former Equality and Human Rights Commission boss Trevor Phillips&nbsp; comforted the nation on his Channel 4 TV programme <a href="">(‘The thing we won’t say about race that are true’</a>) that it was fine to speak in ethnic stereotype, such a&nbsp; damning a report&nbsp; should be published.</p> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_right 0'><a href="" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="" alt="" title="" width="212" height="300" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span>For it reveals how, on occasion, young men of Caribbean descent acting erratically or even asking for help, are stereotyped first and foremost as bad, mad, and, being black, likely to be involved in drugs and/or violent – so they are met with violence. (<a href="">According to INQUEST</a> of 54 people killed in police shootings since 1990, nine were from BME communities.) </p><p>Force (including restraints, sprays, batons, guns) was involved in forty-eight&nbsp; deaths examined in this report. And the stereotype has being extended to other deprived communities who are being prejudged as ‘up to no good’ or simply of no account, not deserving of courtesy or care – Joy Gardner (an overstayer), Ibrahima Say (a Gambian asylum seeker), Zahid Mubarek (a British Asian teenager in a young offenders’ institute for a petty theft), Jimmy Mubenga (a foreign national prisoner). </p> <p>The culture, aided and abetted by politicians and the mass media, has, over the last thirty years, been impregnated with views which encourage suspicion and contempt for whole groups of people who are surplus to requirements of, or antithetical to, the neoliberal project. Asylum seekers, Muslims, the young never-employed (who may eke out a dubious living) are not just demonised daily in the tabloids as terrorist, shirkers and scroungers, but set apart from society. They are not part of us – in fact they are undermining ‘usness’.</p> <p>But what compounds the ‘us and them’ of the system is the impunity enjoyed by the police, prison and immigration/detention officers. Despite twelve verdicts of unlawful killing from inquest juries recently, there have been just a handful of prosecutions <em>and never a conviction</em>. For, invariably, the officer is deemed to have used force proportionate to the threat he felt he was under. His fear will always be subjective, unmeasurable, and the ultimate self-defence. Note that the <a href="">Independent Police Complaints Commission has just cleared the police in the case of Mark Duggan</a> (who was shot dead in Tottenham in August 2011) of any wrongdoing since it was likely they thought he was throwing away a handgun. </p> <p>One of the most vexed issues to emerge from the research is that of accountability. Though there <em>have</em> been verdicts of unlawful killing, these are often contested at a higher court and sometimes reversed, or simply not followed up by prosecution, and inevitably no one is found guilty of any wrongdoing. Internal discipline or punishment is either non-existent or fleeting and mild, implicated officers retire or resign before procedures have taken their course. And the privatisation of detention services has diminished accountability yet further. The chain of command is long, the responsibility for the well- or ill-being of an inmate is sub-contracted. </p> <p>One of the recent changes, and which is reflected in the spike of deaths in 2007, for example, is the detention of asylum seekers, unwanted migrant workers and foreign national prisoners whose prison terms are spent. Detention centres (now termed removal centres) are part of a growth industry, now largely sub-contracted to the private sector (as are an increasing number of prisons) where huge multinational companies such as G4S, Serco, GEO, Mitie order the lives of prisoners and waiting deportees. In this parallel system of detention where frightened anxious detainees often self-harm, medical care is not required&nbsp; to be of the standard supplied by the NHS. The private companies have simple targets: to make sure the deportee is fit to travel.</p> <p>These are closed worlds in which, after a death, officers inevitably close rank and the authorities hold all the cards – including access to information and money for legal representation. But still they learn little from inquiries into deaths, reports, narrative verdicts at inquests and new guidelines, though&nbsp; families and friends of the bereaved do. And, as the report reveals, the tenacity of groups campaigning against conditions for those in immigration detention and of bereaved families fighting through networks such as the United Families and Friends Campaign, and INQUEST has begun to have a public impact and taken the struggle into the heart of the system.</p><p><em>The IRR's report, Dying for Justice, by Harmit Athwal and Jenny Bourne, can be accessed <a href="">here</a>. Main image:&nbsp;<span>Sujata Aurora.&nbsp;</span><span>Jacket image: Vigil for Mikey Powell, September 2012. (© Ken Fero/Migrant Media)&nbsp;</span></em></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/ourkingdom/carolyne-willow/many-thousands-of-children-stripped-naked-in-custody-ignites-memories-of-">Many thousands of children stripped naked in custody. Ignites memories of being raped</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/ourkingdom/clare-sambrook/racist-texts-what-mubenga-trial-jury-was-not-told">The racist texts. What the Mubenga trial jury was not told</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/ourkingdom/rebecca-omoniraoyekanmi/black-and-dangerous-listening-to-patients%E2%80%99-experiences-of-mental-">Black and dangerous? Listening to patients’ experiences of mental health services in London</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/ourkingdom/harmit-athwal/neglect-and-indifference-kill-american-man-in-uk-immigration-detention">Neglect and indifference kill American man in UK immigration detention</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/ourkingdom/rebecca-omoniraoyekanmi/uk-immigration-detention-truth-is-out">UK immigration detention: the truth is out</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/ourkingdom/jackie-long/%27headbutt-bitch%27-serco-guard-yarl%E2%80%99s-wood-uk-immigration-detention-centre">&#039;Headbutt the bitch&#039; Serco guard, Yarl’s Wood, a UK immigration detention centre</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/ourkingdom/damien-walshe/when-irish-travellers-die-in-british-prisons">When Irish Travellers die in British prisons</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/ourkingdom/rhetta-moran-kath-grant/coroner-finds-capita-detainee-died-of-natural-causes-at-mancheste">Coroner finds Capita detainee died of natural causes at Manchester immigration lock-up</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/ourkingdom/frances-webber/justice-blindfolded-case-of-jimmy-mubenga">Justice blindfolded? The case of Jimmy Mubenga</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> OurKingdom OurKingdom G4S: Securing whose world? Care and justice The attack on legal aid Immigration detention and removal in the UK Shine A Light Jenny Bourne Sat, 28 Mar 2015 00:28:09 +0000 Jenny Bourne 91607 at Treating kids in trouble like adults isn’t justice <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>In youth justice, time and again, adults let children down, says Just for Kids Law.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="" alt="" title="" width="460" height="123" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><p>James was 12 years old when his mother was informed he was wanted by the police for a suspected burglary. </p> <p>This is the ‘crime’ the police were investigating: James had wanted to show his friend his old primary school which was open at the weekend for external clubs. Once inside the school they found a cleaner’s pass and used it to explore staff-only areas, such as the kitchen, something many curious children might do. Nothing was stolen or damaged. </p> <p>After the weekend the school watched the CCTV. Recognising James as a former pupil, but not his friend, the school called the police,<strong> </strong>and so the wheels of the criminal justice system were set in motion. </p> <p>When James discovered the police wanted to question him he became so anxious he was unable to sleep, his mother had to take him into her bed. </p> <p>He was taken to the police station and interviewed on suspicion of burglary under caution. His<strong> </strong>mum says that he did not understand one word of the police caution, they “may as well have been speaking Latin”. After the formal interview at the police station the police decided not to proceed with criminalising James further, the process was over but the impact of the process will not go away so quickly.</p> <p>Lately Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) published <a href="">a report which concluded that vulnerable children in contact with the police need care not custody</a>. </p><p>This is no surprise to those of us who work with children caught up in the criminal justice system, but has often been a point of contention between organisations like mine, Just for Kids Law<strong>,</strong> and government agencies. </p><p>The report found that in encounters between children and the police, “Some police officers did not regard all children as vulnerable. They saw the offence first and the fact that a child was involved as secondary.” This is often entrenched position, as exemplified by what happened with James and one that we believe needs to be reversed. </p> <p>The HMIC report highlighted various areas of serious concern in relation to how children are treated in police custody, for example shockingly, the HMIC reported that according to data in the areas that they were inspecting, not a single child was transferred from the police station to a local authority bed in the 12 months prior to the 2014 inspection, despite requests being made by the police. </p> <p>This means that in every case where data was collected a child was kept overnight at the police station, in a police cell, in breach of the law which says that children who are not granted bail must be transferred to child safe accommodation.<strong> </strong></p> <p>One child told the inspectors: </p><blockquote><p><span>“</span>When you’re sitting in that [...] freezing cold cell for, well like just short of 23 hours, you know what I mean? It’s a long time to sit in that cell, in them four walls….I just start going crazy ‘cause I think about me mum and that all the time and it just makes me go really mad. I just end up punching all the cell wall and that and breaking all me hands and [stuff] like that.”</p></blockquote> <p>One of the young people we work with said of the cells: </p><blockquote><p>“When I was taken into the cell – I felt like I was alone, a little boy left alone in grown up world. I was being left in a place where they hold people who kill people. I felt as if I had been thrown in there and left to die. I had no idea how long I would be in there. No one brought me any food or water I was completely left in there being treated like I had killed someone.”</p></blockquote> <p>Children tell us that they are given nothing at all to do in the hours that they are kept in the cells. One boy said he was </p><blockquote><p>“staring at the walls, it was completely blank cell it is like the most boring thing in the world multiplied by 100 there were no colours, nothing to look at.”</p></blockquote> <p>Another shocking finding of the HMIC report is the levels of strip search being used on children, and especially on children who are from black and ethnic minorities. Research by Children’s Rights Alliance England shows that numbers of strip search has doubled in the years between 2008 – 2013; alarmingly 45 per cent of the children stripped by the police have their clothes removed without their appropriate adult present or even being made aware.</p><p>The fact that strip searches are being used disproportionately against black and ethnic minority children makes it even more galling. A graph from the HMIC report emphasises the point —&nbsp;not only are African-Caribbean people more likely to end up in custody, but also: “BAME groups were significantly more likely than their white counterparts to die following the use of restraint.”</p><p><span><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="" alt="" title="" width="440" height="299" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span>As those who had been detained pointed out to the HMIC Inspectors, strip searches are, by their very nature, “undignified and degrading”.</span></p> <p>The UNCRC requires that children in trouble with the law are&nbsp;<span>“treated in a manner consistent with the promotion of the child’s sense of dignity and worth.”&nbsp; The HMIC report found: “In light of the research information available to us coupled with the lack of authoritative police data, we consider that police forces are at considerable risk of discriminatory strip-searching practices.”</span></p><p>The 1999 Macpherson report, following the death of Stephen Lawrence, suggested measures to tackle institutional police racism. It is disheartening that still, 16 years later, there is persistent evidence that BAME people in contact with the police are at risk of discriminatory treatment.</p> <p>In the last year the Home Secretary has ackowledged the discriminatory and ineffective use of stop and search. The same must now &nbsp;be recognised about strip-searches. &nbsp;We believe &nbsp;they must be used only as a last resort and regulatory practices and data collection must ensure that even then they are used &nbsp;in an even-handed way.</p> <p>In a further depressing finding the HMIC report<strong> f</strong>ound that examples of <em>good practices</em> of treatment of young and vulnerable people by the police seemed to depend only on individual officers’ own experiences, “rather than being able to refer to official training or guidance”. </p> <p>The report stated: </p><blockquote><p>“A significant finding from this inspection is that police officers are trying to respond to children and those suffering from mental health crises in an environment and with policing tools, skills and knowledge that are wholly unsuited to the task.”</p></blockquote> <p>In light of investigations such as the one in Rotherham, it is frightening to think that, despite all child protection rules, despite local safeguarding boards and all other protection that are in place to ensure children’s welfare is at the forefront of any interaction with a child, some police officers are still treating children as if they were adult criminals. </p> <p>The HMIC report stresses that “children who were charged with a crime did not always fully understand the nature of the alleged offence due to the technical language used by officers”. This chimes with our experience of children in the criminal justice system. </p> <p>HMIC found that many of those detained were uncertain of their rights and entitlements and this caused “anxiety and stress for participants who were entering custody for the first time. It also inhibited some children from asking for entitlements, such as a blanket, while detained.”</p> <p>One of my greatest concerns as a lawyer for children is seeing the number of children who don’t exercise their right to legal advice at the police station: the young people we work with say that often the police actively discourage them from having a solicitor, telling them it will only delay their getting out of the police station.</p> <p>At Just for Kids Law, we provide not only legal representation but we try to look at the whole person and providing support, advice and representation to children in every area of their life that may be difficult. When we see systemic failures in the system we lobby and fight for changes in the law.</p> <p>The mainstream media portrays children in trouble with law as threat, menace, and evil. What <em>we</em> mostly see is a vulnerable child trying to navigate their way through an often unjust and baffling adult world. </p><p>As responsible adults, we must remember and accept that we all embarked on a journey to become responsible, considered human beings, we weren’t born considered or mature. We are constraining the development of those who are trying to become adult human beings if we do not recognize that they too are on that journey. We cannot expect children and young people to be mature until they grow into it – just as most of us believe in evolution not creationism. </p> <p>I find it frightening that children are not allowed to be children and are expected to comply with the rules of adult society despite not having the biological, emotional or neurological development to make the responsible, mature, considered choices.</p> <p>I remember a discussion with a right wing think tank who wanted the UK to lower the age of criminal responsibility. At that time my son aged 3 was going through a “biting phase”. My son definitely knew what it was wrong to bite – the standard that some argue for setting&nbsp; criminal responsibility-&nbsp; but if we were to hold a 3 year old to the same account that we would hold an adult who bit strangers accountable for his actions, he would have been not only criminalised but perhaps even incarcerated for his ‘assault’ of another person.</p> <p>We believe that bad behaviour by children, while not being condoned, should belong in a special category – different from the system that is used to criminalise mature adults. It has always made economic sense to respond to the welfare and needs of children rather than to pursue criminal retribution, but the economic argument has never held much import.</p> <p>The same week that HMIC published its depressing report Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Probation reported that at&nbsp; the other end of the criminal justice system, release from custody that the “re-offending outcomes” for many children&nbsp; were ‘poor’.</p> <p>The inspectors wrote: “very often the support to help these children to successfully stop offending and start new law abiding lives had not been good enough.”</p> <p>Reoffending rates for children who have been in custody remain stubbornly close to 70 per cent while the cost of detaining these children is at least double the cost of the UK’s most exclusive&nbsp; private boarding schools.</p> <p>If the system is failing children in trouble at every point, perhaps it is time for a new system. We need to find an approach which can see them as children first and show them the compassion that they deserve and that any of us would want for our own children.</p><h2><hr /></h2><h2>Two reports</h2><p><em>The welfare of vulnerable people in police custody</em>,&nbsp;<span>Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary,&nbsp;</span><span>March 2015, is <a href="">here</a>. </span><span>&nbsp;</span></p><p><em>Joint thematic inspection of resettlement services to children by Youth Offending Teams and partner agencies&nbsp;</em>reflects the findings of HM Inspectorate of Probation, the Care Quality Commission and Ofsted, 12 March 2015, can be accessed <a href="">here</a>.</p><p>The cartoon is from the Just for Kids Law stop &amp; search video.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/ourkingdom/shauneen-lambe-paola-uccellari/3-police-officers-forcibly-strip-vulnerable-child-without-">3 police officers forcibly strip a vulnerable child without calling her mum. Is that all right? </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/ourkingdom/frances-crook/our-youth-justice-systems-fatal-flaw-it-is-harming-children">Our youth justice system&#039;s fatal flaw: it is harming children</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/ourkingdom/carolyne-willow/many-thousands-of-children-stripped-naked-in-custody-ignites-memories-of-">Many thousands of children stripped naked in custody. Ignites memories of being raped</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/ourkingdom/al-aynsley-green/who-is-speaking-for-britains-children-and-young-people-challenge-to-chil">Who is speaking for Britain&#039;s children and young people?: a challenge to the children’s sector</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/ournhs/al-aynsley-green-ingrid-wolfe/politicians-are-failing-our-children-on-grand-scale">Politicians are failing our children on a grand scale</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/ourkingdom/clare-sambrook/strip-searched-in-derbyshire">Strip-searched in Derbyshire</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/ourkingdom/malcolm-stevens/criminalised-vulnerable-and-likely-to-re-offend-will-this-government-help">Criminalised, vulnerable, and likely to re-offend: Will this government help young offenders in England and Wales?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/ourkingdom/frances-crook/pregnant-teenager-imprisoned-for-failing-to-keep-appointments-with-her-supe">Pregnant teenager imprisoned for failing to keep appointments with her supervisor</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/ourkingdom/frances-crook/we-in-uk-punish-girls-for-being-vulnerable">We in the UK punish girls for being vulnerable</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/ourkingdom/shauneen-lambe-maryrachel-mccabe/%E2%80%98we-changed-law-to-save-children%E2%80%99s-lives%E2%80%99">‘We changed the law to save children’s lives’</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> OurKingdom OurKingdom Care and justice The attack on legal aid Shine A Light Shauneen Lambe Sat, 28 Mar 2015 00:00:57 +0000 Shauneen Lambe 91614 at openDemocracy writers longlisted for Orwell Prize <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Rebecca Omonira-Oyekanmi and Clare Sambrook are among <a href="">15 writers in contention</a> for one of journalism’s highest honours.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="" alt="" title="" width="460" height="276" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>George Orwell</span></span></span></p><p><a href="">Rebecca Omonira-Oyekanmi</a>, who has exposed the impact of government policy on ordinary lives, has been longlisted for the <a href="">Orwell Prize</a> for political journalism.</p> <p>Also longlisted is <a href="">Clare Sambrook</a>, who edits openDemocracy’s <a href="">Shine a Light</a> project, exposing injustice, challenging official lying, and providing intelligence and ammunition to people working for policy change.</p> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_left caption-medium'><a href="" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="" alt="" title="" width="240" height="267" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-medium imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Rebecca Omonira-Oyekanmi</span></span></span>Omonira-Oyekanmi’s prize submission gives voice to <a href="">single parents struggling to survive in Austerity Britain</a> and to women incarcerated at <a href="">Yarl’s Wood detention centre</a>. The work investigates the mistreatment of <a href="">insecure tenants</a> and the prevalence of institutional racism within the <a href="">mental</a> health service.</p> <p>Published online and in print,&nbsp;<span>Omonira-Oyekanmi’s work&nbsp;</span><span>appears in openDemocracy, Lacuna, the New Statesman, The Friend and Socialist Lawyer, with original illustrations by </span><a href="">Patrick Koduah</a><span> and </span><a href="">Lottie Stoddart</a><span>.</span></p> <p>Clare Sambrook’s scoop <a href="">“Nice work: G4S wins $118 million Guantánamo contract”</a>,&nbsp;followed by The Daily Telegraph, Guardian, Independent, and the Daily Mail, provoked a complaint from Reprieve to the UK government. </p> <p><span>Among other articles in Sambrook’s Orwell submission</span><span>&nbsp;</span><a href="">“</a><a href="">Fail and prosper: how privatisation really works</a><a href="">”</a>&nbsp;<span>exposes waste, greed and dishonesty in the privatisation of public services and the PFI fiasco.</span></p> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_right caption-medium'><a href="" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="" alt="" title="" width="240" height="200" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-medium imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Clare Sambrook</span></span></span>For&nbsp;<a href="">“</a><a href="">The racist texts; What the Mubenga trial jury was not told</a><a href="">”</a><span>&nbsp;Sambrook dredged inquest transcripts to present some of the violent racist material found in possession of two of the three G4S guards who were cleared of the manslaughter of Jimmy Mubenga.</span></p> <p><span>From hundreds of entries, the Orwell judges selected 12 books, 15 journalists, and 14 pieces of social reporting to be considered for three Orwell Prizes. All three longlists follow below.&nbsp;</span></p><p><span>Lara Pawson, who explored Britain’s relationship with Angola</span><span>&nbsp;</span><a href="">on openDemocracy</a><span>&nbsp;</span><span>after Jimmy Mubenga’s unlawful killing, is</span><span>&nbsp;</span><a href="">longlisted for the Orwell book prize</a><span>&nbsp;</span><span>for: <em>In the Name of the People: Angola’s Forgotten Massacre.</em></span></p><p><span>Shortlists will be announced on Tuesday 21 April.</span></p> <p>A new <a href="">Orwell Youth Prize</a> remains open to entries until Thursday 30 April 2015. Anyone aged 14 to 18 who is at school or college, from England, Northern Ireland, Scotland or Wales may apply. </p><p>The theme is: <em>Exposing a lie.</em>&nbsp;Young writers may be guided by George Orwell<span>’</span><span>s words from</span><span>&nbsp;</span><a href="">Why I Write</a><span>:</span></p><blockquote><p><em>“</em><span>When I sit down to write a book, I do not say to myself, ‘I am going to produce a work of art.’ I write it because there is some lie that I want to expose, some fact to which I want to draw attention, and my initial concern is to get a hearing.”</span></p></blockquote><p>&nbsp;</p><hr /><p><em><br /></em></p><p>&nbsp;</p> <h2><em>Orwell Prize Longlists:</em></h2> <h2>Book Prize:</h2> <ul><li><span>Jamie Bartlett, THE DARK NET (William Heinemann)</span></li><li><span>John Campbell, ROY JENKINS (Jonathan Cape)</span></li><li><span>Rana Dasgupta, CAPITAL: THE ERUPTION OF DELHI (Canongate)</span></li><li><span>Dan Davies, IN PLAIN SIGHT: THE LIFE AND LIES OF JIMMY SAVILE (Quercus)</span></li><li><span>Nick Davies, HACK ATTACK (Chatto &amp; Windus)</span></li><li><span>Robert Ford and Matthew Goodwin, REVOLT ON THE RIGHT (Routledge)</span></li><li><span>Zia Haider Rahman, IN THE LIGHT OF WHAT WE KNOW (Pan Macmillan)</span></li><li><span>David Kynaston, MODERNITY BRITAIN (Bloomsbury)</span></li><li><span>Louisa Lim, THE PEOPLE’S REPUBLIC OF AMNESIA (Oxford University Press)</span></li><li><span>David Marquand, MAMMON’S KINGDOM: AN ESSAY ON BRITAIN, NOW (Penguin)</span></li><li><span>James Meek, PRIVATE ISLAND: WHY BRITAIN NOW BELONGS TO SOMEONE ELSE (Verso)</span></li><li><span>Lara Pawson, IN THE NAME OF THE PEOPLE: ANGOLA’S FORGOTTEN MASSACRE (I. B. Tauris)</span></li></ul> <p>&nbsp;</p> <h2>Journalism Prize:</h2> <ul><li><span>Ian Birrell, </span><em>Mail On Sunday</em><span>, </span><em>The Guardian</em></li><li><span>Rosie Blau, </span><em>The Economist</em></li><li><span>Martin Chulov, </span><em>The Guardian</em></li><li><span>David Gardner, </span><em>The Financial Times</em></li><li><span>Anthony Loyd, </span><em>The Times</em></li><li><span>James Meek, </span><em>London Review of Books</em></li><li><span>Suzanne Moore, </span><em>The Guardian</em></li><li><span>Rebecca Omonira-Oyekanmi, </span><em>, Lacuna, New Statesman</em></li><li><span>Melanie Phillips, </span><em>The Times</em><span>, </span><em>The Spectator</em></li><li><span>David Pilling, </span><em>Financial Times</em></li><li><span>Steve Richards, </span><em>The Independent</em></li><li><span>Mary Riddell, </span><em>The Daily Telegraph</em></li><li><span>Peter Ross, </span><em>Scotland on Sunday</em></li><li><span>Clare Sambrook, </span><em></em></li><li><span>Kim Sengupta, </span><em>The Independent</em></li></ul> <p>&nbsp;</p> <h2>Prize for Exposing Britain’s Social Evils:</h2> <ul><li><span>George Arbuthnott, </span><em>Slaves in peril on the sea</em></li><li><span>Lucy Bannerman, </span><em>FGM: Child abuse that’s gone mainstream</em></li><li><span>Michael Buchanan and Andy McNicoll, </span><em>Mental health crisis</em></li><li><span>Aditya Chakrabortty and Guardian team, </span><em>London’s housing crisis</em></li><li><span>Steve Connor, </span><em>The lost girls</em></li><li><span>Edward Docx, </span><em>Walking with Karl</em></li><li><span>Alison Holt, </span><em>Care of the elderly and vulnerable</em></li><li><span>Nick Mathiason, </span><em>A great British housing crisis</em></li><li><span>Lindsay Pantry, </span><em>Loneliness: The hidden epidemic</em></li><li><span>Lindsay Poulton and Guardian team, </span><em>The shirt on your backs</em></li><li><span>Randeep Ramesh, </span><em>Casino-style gambling</em></li><li><span>Louise Tickle, </span><em>Domestic abuse: How victims are failed by society and the state</em></li><li><span>Times team, </span><em>Secrets of Britain’s teen terror trade uncovered</em></li><li><span>Mark Townsend, </span><em>Serco: A hunt for the truth inside Yarl’s Wood</em></li></ul><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/ourkingdom/rebecca-omoniraoyekanmi/black-and-dangerous-listening-to-patients%E2%80%99-experiences-of-mental-">Black and dangerous? Listening to patients’ experiences of mental health services in London</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-omonira-oyekanmi/lampedusa-never-again">Lampedusa: Never again</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/ourkingdom/rebecca-omoniraoyekanmi/down-rabbit-hole-single-parenthood-in-austerity-britain">Down the rabbit hole: Single parenthood in austerity Britain</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/ourkingdom/rebecca-omoniraoyekanmi/rats-in-lunchbox-mould-in-mattress-living-in-squalor-in-london">Rats in the lunchbox, mould in the mattress: living in squalor in London</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-omonira-oyekanmi/refugee-women-in-uk-fighting-back-from-behind-bars">Refugee women in the UK: fighting back from behind bars</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/ourkingdom/clare-sambrook/racist-texts-what-mubenga-trial-jury-was-not-told">The racist texts. What the Mubenga trial jury was not told</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/ourkingdom/clare-sambrook/fail-and-prosper-how-privatisation-really-works">Fail and prosper: how privatisation really works</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/ourkingdom/clare-sambrook/nice-work-g4s-wins-118-million-guant%C3%A1namo-contract">Nice work: G4S wins $118 million Guantánamo contract </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/ourkingdom/clare-sambrook/goves-own-operation-trojan-horse-privatisation-of-our-schools">Gove&#039;s own Operation Trojan Horse: the privatisation of our schools</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/ourkingdom/clare-sambrook/man-84-dies-handcuffed-in-hospital-uk-border-control-by-geo-group">Man, 84, dies handcuffed in hospital: UK border control by the GEO Group</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/ourkingdom/clare-sambrook/one-man-two-guvnors-conflict-at-heart-of-british-justice">One Man, Two Guvnors: the conflict at the heart of British justice</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/ourkingdom/clare-sambrook-rebecca-omonira-oyekanmi/one-life-in-investigative-journalism">One life in investigative journalism</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> OurKingdom OurKingdom G4S: Securing whose world? Care and justice The attack on legal aid Immigration detention and removal in the UK Shine A Light OurKingdom Sat, 28 Mar 2015 00:00:15 +0000 OurKingdom 91613 at The good, the bad and the ugly: when SYRIZA meets Europe <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The EU has shown three simultaneous faces to Greece: ‘the good, the bad and the ugly’, to use a cinematic metaphor, all of them with the same message but with a different delivery package</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="" alt="Logo of the movie, 1966." title="" width="460" height="180" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Logo of the movie, 1966. Wikicommons/MGM.Some rights reserved.</span></span></span>Symbolism is an essential part of politics and it often matters more than reality. The key for political elites is to send the right message at the right time and that gains them support and popularity. </p> <p>In Greece, SYRIZA took the first position in the January 2014 elections on the promise of “dignity and hope”, irrespective of whether the government had a realistic plan to handle one of the most difficult crises of modern Greece.&nbsp; As such, one of the pre-electoral promises of SYRIZA was to end the Troika in Greece.&nbsp; </p> <p>Once in power, one of the first actions of the new government was renaming the “Troika” as “institutions”, a rather sensationalist way of removing a charged term from the Greek crisis vocabulary; this was indeed hugely symbolic for the majority of Greeks because the Troika has been associated with a perceived “colonial” presence of creditors’ techno(auto)crats, regularly monitoring and subsequently demanding more austerity measures and sacrifices by the Greek people. </p> <p>“But it is not pure symbolism” SYRIZA would swiftly respond: renaming the creditors resulted in different rules of engagement, dealing with them separately and changing the locations of meetings in Athens. Moreover, renaming the Troika was thought to be a ‘Greek’ way of deconstructing the forceful Triumvirate of auditors representing the European Commission, European Central Bank and IMF who, since 2010, have been carrying out regular checks to see if Greece is sticking to its commitments under the bailout agreements. </p> <p>While the change of labelling has been accepted by the creditors, this has not changed the reality of regular checks and the full expectation that the new government has to respect its obligations to them, irrespective. And what clearly unites all institutions is deep distrust towards what they see as a government which fails to convince on its will to proceed with reforms and stick to its agreements. </p> <p>Since the election of the new government, it has become evident, in the various levels of bilateral and multilateral interaction, that Greece fights a lonely war against the three institutions - a solitary struggle vis a vis the rest of the Eurozone members, and it would appear vis a vis the members of the EU. So much so that even Greece’s ‘comrades’ in the hard-hit Eurozone periphery, have become, for their own domestic purposes, the most vociferous opponents of SYRIZA’s new claims. </p> <p>Moreover, the revised and more promising forecasts for Europe’s economies are alienating Greece further from the wider European mainstream. They magnify the symbolism of ‘Greek exceptionalism’ and resurrect the rhetoric used in 2009 and 2012,&nbsp; when Greece was seen as a unique case of economic malaise threatening to spread its infection across Europe. Now, the creditors point to Spain’s export-led recovery, Portugal’s exit from the bailout, Ireland’s promising economic growth and Cyprus’ disciplined stance. This leaves Greece as the odd one out, the pariah country, the lonely ‘resistance fighter’ and the whole debate of a “Grexit” or “Graccident” returns with a vengeance. Greece has ‘partners’ in the EU, but not ‘allies’.</p> <h2><strong>Looming Graccident</strong></h2> <p>Yet, how united is the European bloc against Greece in this critical moment of looming Graccident? One of the unintended consequences of the unilateral abolition of the Troika, and its replacement by the institutions, is that in some ways it threatens to expose potential differences between the institutions. And while there is a generic unity among them on the grounds that Greece has to respect previous agreements and that it cannot get free funding, at the same time there are some subtle differences as to how to address the Greek problem. During the first difficult months of negotiations between Greece and the EU, the latter has shown three simultaneous faces to Greece: ‘the good, the bad and the ugly’, to use a cinematic metaphor, all of them with the same message but with a different delivery package. </p> <p>The ‘good face of Europe’ is that of the European Commission - a traditional ally of the weaker and smaller states, but which during recent, more difficult years has placed itself in the back seat of the German car. The new President of the European Commission is trying to change this image of a weak Commission and aims at clawing power back to Brussels with a louder and more independent message in European and world politics. The fact that the President was elected by the European Parliament gives further legitimacy to his goals and his authority. </p> <p>On the Greek crisis, President Juncker showed from the beginning his philhellenic face, receiving Prime Minister Tsipras in Brussels as a friend, and regularly expressing his determination that Greece stays in the Eurozone. He would certainly not like to go down in history as the leader of the Commission who presided over the disintegration of the Eurozone. Moreover, Juncker wants to show that he appreciates the severity of the humanitarian crisis, and has earmarked 2 billion in EU cash to address this grave social matter. </p> <p>The ‘bad face of Europe’ is presented by those who decide how to disburse the funds - the European Central Bank and the Eurogroup - both of whom are adopting a hard stance vis a vis Greece. The leader of the ECB, Mario Draghi, refused to extend more credit to Greece without a programme, while the head of the Eurogroup, Jeroen Dijsselbloem, has hinted that Greece might have to impose controls on the movement of capital, which is what happened with Cyprus in 2013 and what induced them to sign their bailout agreement. The image of the ‘bad’ comes from those who take decisions on Greece’s liquidity and cash flow aimed at squeezing and blackmailing Greeks to stick to their programme. It also reflects a growing anger with Greeks for being unruly and wanting to get cash without strings attached. </p> <p>The ‘ugly face of Europe’ is projected by those who do not fear a “Grexit” and are even considering this as a possibility. They are represented by Germany’s Economy Minister Schauble, a politician who speaks bluntly, who makes inflammatory and intrusive political statements and who has adopted a moralising discourse vis a vis Greece’s spendthrift past. Schauble represents those who are fed up with Greece’s shenanigans. Not moved by the social and humanitarian implications of Greece’s economic depression, he is convinced that austerity and reform is the ideal strategy for Greek recovery and is not moved by the outcomes of democratic elections, especially when these result in proposed amendments to the agreements. While no one doubts that he is a man of principle and European credentials, many criticise his obstinacy and ideological rigidity. The ugly face of Europe believes that the European economy is perfectly prepared to survive a “Grexit” and if it happens it will be Greece that will come off the worst from it.</p> <p>These three narratives send three mixed messages of contained compassion, blackmail and outright negativity and come from a European Union which is itself struggling to find a common position on Greece, a struggle which only results in further cacophony and ambiguity. </p> <h2>The Greek version</h2> <p>The Greek government uses these three images for its internal consumption and public rhetoric. On the one hand, it refers to Juncker’s benign solicitude as the guarantee that Europeans would never allow Greece to exit from the Eurozone. Then, the Greek government refers to the ECB’s ‘bad’ narrative as a heartless strategy which is wringing the life out of Greece in its moment of need; Greece is, according to this, a victim of European blackmail. As for the ‘ugly’, it evokes patriotic and heroic reflexes, bringing back memories of the Nazi occupation and debts that were never paid by the Germans. To the good, bad and the ugly, SYRIZA is staging a threefold response - Europeanised with the Commission, victimised with the European Central Bank and adversarial and patriotic vis a vis Schauble’s Germany. Greek leaders are trapped between these three discourses, sending confusing messages, speaking multiple languages and addressing rather different audiences.</p> <p>But the Greek government is not simply reacting to these three narratives. The SYRIZA-ANEL coalition reproduces them as a mirror image of Europe, used partially for internal consumption and at the same time as a strategy abroad. The ‘good face’ of the government is represented by those within SYRIZA who are committed europeanists: they seek a compromise and hold a more pragmatic approach to Greece’s ability to negotiate from a weak, even desperate, position. This stance is represented by such politicians as Deputy Prime Minister Yannis Dragasakis or Minister of Development Giorgos Stathakis, who avoid confrontational remarks and represent the moderate faction of SYRIZA. The ‘bad face’ of the Greek government is represented by the more rigid politicians within SYRIZA, the hardliners who are ideologically commited to their left wing roots, some of them even daring to speak of a plan B, exit from the euro and the return to the drachma. Finally, the ‘ugly face’ of the Greek government is borne by those who have adopted what they see as a heroic and ultra-patriotic discourse, represented by the leader of ANEL and Minister of Defence Panos Kamenos. They make incendiary statements against Germany, threatening that Greece will enter the Russian camp as a plan B, and that Greece will flood Germany with immigrants and Islamist Jihadists.</p><h2><strong>Muddling image</strong></h2> <p>Each of these three discourses resonate with the various domestic audiences, but taken together they become incomprehensible to external audiences.&nbsp;Because these narratives come from both sides of the spectrum, Europe and Greece, they only contribute to further cacophony and ambiguity, either of a constructive or destructive nature. It is not clear which.</p> <p>For there are three outcomes in this fight between Greece and the EU, three scenarios that can happen: one good, one bad and one ugly. The good scenario is that somehow Greece, through its reform list, will reassure the world that it has honourable and credible intentions and this will lead to a compromise that could be acceptable to both sides, allowing the Greek government to get the funding that it so desperately needs, and the creditors to claim that the Greek government has shown its will to cooperate. </p> <p>The bad scenario is the one that brings Greece to the brink of economic asphyxia, a capital control a la Cyprus and a humiliating defeat for the Greek government, which could have longer term repercussions on the government’s external credibility and internal legitimacy. This is a bad scenario because it alienates Greece from its partners and the partners from Greece and paves the way for many bitter feelings in the future. </p> <p>The ugly scenario is the one of “Grexit”, where Greece will have to manage a forced exit from the Eurozone leaving the Greek economy years behind and leading to political instability; this could also have wider repercussions for the coherence of Europe and the Eurozone. And this is neither the right moment, nor the right place for such an ugly turn of events. Let us hope in the often ugly real world of populism and antagonisms that the good scenario prevails, and that the ‘good guys’ from either side win the day. Let us hope that the bad guys are turned around and the ugly voices marginalised and disappeared. This would indeed bring back the symbolism of hope and dignity based on credible narratives for a country, its economy and its society, that deserves to be back on track.</p><div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Greece </div> <div class="field-item even"> EU </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? EU Greece Othon Anastasakis Fri, 27 Mar 2015 21:29:59 +0000 Othon Anastasakis 91615 at Trouble in paradise <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Months before Hong Kong’s Occupy unleashed popular frustration onto the streets, a refugee movement adopted occupation tactics in order to protest the social marginalization of asylum seekers.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Refugee protest, Hong Kong, February 2014. Demotix/Geoffrey Cheng. All rights reserved."><img src="" alt="Refugee protest, Hong Kong, February 2014. Demotix/Geoffrey Cheng. All rights reserved." title="Refugee protest, Hong Kong, February 2014. Demotix/Geoffrey Cheng. All rights reserved." width="460" height="306" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Refugee protest, Hong Kong, February 2014. Demotix/Geoffrey Cheng. All rights reserved.</span></span></span><span>For more than a decade, asylum seekers from Africa and South Asia have beaten a path to Hong Kong. They have been attracted by its international reputation for rule of law, a rather liberal visa regime and economic prosperity comparable to coveted asylum destinations in Europe and North America.</span></p> <p>Despite the city’s growing reputation in developing countries, about 7000 asylum seekers currently languish at the edges of society. Their high expectations for liberty, fairness and prosperity are not reflected in policies that seek their social marginalization. Now they are speaking out.</p> <p>Months before <a href="">Hong Kong’s Occupy</a>&nbsp;unleashed popular frustration against the government’s apathy towards electoral reform, a <a href="">refugee movement</a>&nbsp;had been engaged in an occupation protest, calling for scrutiny of the politics that depicts asylum seekers as deviant vagrants. </p> <h2>Asia’s world city</h2> <p>To ensure that the ugly face of indigence does not perturb the cultivated facade of sophisticated modernity projected by Hong Kong overseas, asylum seekers are reluctantly provided token ‘humanitarian’ assistance. This is insufficient to prevent destitution. The predictable outcome is acute physical and psychological hardship for foreigners left to fend for themselves without support networks. Despite the ban on working, the majority are compelled to engage in income-generating activities, and do so most notably in narrow socioeconomic sectors where policing seems complicitly intermittent. The exploitation of refugee labour that is cheap and flexible goes hand in hand with an age of reckless subcontracting and damaging socioeconomic polarization.</p> <p>In Hong Kong, impoverished residents cope by working day and night in multiple low-paying jobs, or taking entrepreneurial risks in niche sectors. They have unwittingly bought the government line that a welfare state would destroy the city’s prosperity, and heed the sirens of neoliberal governance demanding self-reliance. In this vicious ecosystem, the matrix of inadequate government assistance and deterrent policies contributes to marking thousands of asylum seekers as expendable pawns in the rags-to-riches dramas relentlessly played out in ‘Asia’s World City’.</p> <p>College-educated Paul arrived in Hong Kong from Pakistan in March 2009. He is still an asylum seeker with a pending case. This reproachable delay confines him between a past he wants to forget and a future of prosperity that might never happen. The assistance he receives from a charity organization contracted by the government is barely enough to rent a filthy room in&nbsp;<a href="">slum-like conditions</a>&nbsp;in Hong Kong’s rural districts. Emergency food rations are provided every ten days, but he is expected to meet every other daily need himself. He <a href="">laments</a> that his fate was sealed when he sought asylum in Hong Kong. Daily indignities destroy his self-respect<em>&nbsp;</em>“as I beg for assistance with rent, food and incidentals, under threat of arrest and jail if I dare to work”. </p> <p>The confinement of asylum seekers in Hong Kong does not conceal them from the public eye, behind barbed wire on remote islands. Instead it is akin to an ‘open prison’ where the lack of legal status and economic rights, coupled with discrimination by obvious markers like skin colour, define their extraneousness to law-abiding society. Nonetheless, it is segregation. Such a condition homogenizes individuals by classifying them according to an unwelcome immigration status, labelling everyone with the harsh directives of removal orders. </p> <h2>An Occupy for refugees</h2> <p>It is against this lamentable backdrop that scores of asylum seekers united in February 2014 to protest what they argue are intolerable living conditions. For six interminable yet exciting months, Paul and fellow incensed asylum seekers displayed unprecedented courage and self-determination by occupying public spaces in the financial heart of Hong Kong. They raised grievances about the injustice and chronic economic hardship they faced for prolonged periods as asylum claims dragged on.</p> <p>We believe there is much to learn from this growth of assertive consciousness that, born of emotional frustration and years of suffering, speaks of the corruption of a system that unjustly penalizes asylum seekers for breaking the law when no alternatives are available. In a 200-day occupation movement, asylum seekers demanded policy changes and declared that they were no longer willing to submit compliantly to unfair treatment. </p> <p>Charities are today facing an unprecedented dilemma. As philanthropic institutions face increased pressure from government regulators and financial constraints, it is harder for charities to retain or expand their scope of operation when more complex grant proposals compete for ever scarcer donations. However, attentive consideration should be given to the vitiating effect of altering a charity’s mandate by supporting and lending legitimacy to government policies that might conceal ulterior motives. A case in point is the charity assistance that delivers immigration and social control payloads, which indirectly leads to correctional services, removal and deportation.</p> <p>The refugee occupation movement reminded us of an old lesson, namely that the act of giving implicitly requires a worthy cause. In the refugee sphere this cause is increasingly hard to appreciate when asylum seekers are broadly stigmatized as undeserving drifters intent on pocketing benefits. Given the limited resources available to charities, ‘beneficiary selection’ is a regrettable phenomenon that produces remnants denounced as unworthy of primary attention and concern. On the one hand, we witness asylum seekers forced to work illegally because charities become increasingly unable to fill the vast gaps left in government services. On the other, asylum seekers may adapt their behaviour, by appearing as mendicants to secure the limited aid distributed by cash-strapped charities. </p> <p>The occupiers blasted the unfair conditions that inevitably reduced them to the status of reluctant supplicants. Rather than focusing on the dehumanizing condition of being an asylum seeker, this group turned the table on their oppressors, demanding that their status as beneficiaries of state assistance be constitutionally defined. The refugee occupation movement marked an important identity shift for asylum seekers in Hong Kong, who are now set on a path of renegotiating their socioeconomic marginalization.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/kong-tsunggan/time-is-now-hong-kong%E2%80%99s-occupy-central">The time is now: Hong Kong’s Occupy Central</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> China </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-city"> <div class="field-label">City:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Hong Kong </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> </div> </div> Hong Kong China Civil society Democracy and government Cosmo Beatson Francesco Vecchio Fri, 27 Mar 2015 19:44:19 +0000 Cosmo Beatson and Francesco Vecchio 91608 at Superheroes alert UK voters to attack on legal aid <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Actors, comedians and film-makers raise awareness of devastating cuts.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="" alt="" title="" width="460" height="259" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span><span>In Britain today, a </span><a href="">former PR man</a><span> with no legal training is both Lord Chancellor (obliged to uphold the rule of law) and Justice Secretary, making drastic cuts to legal aid.</span></p> <p>On April Fools Day, Chris Grayling’s 53rd birthday, The Guardian will launch a new animated film —&nbsp;<a href="">Legal Aid Team</a> —&nbsp;to raise awareness of his government’s attack on access to justice.</p> <p>Maxine Peake, Joanna Lumley, Sally Hawkins, Simon Callow and Kevin Eldon are among actors and comedians whose voices feature in the film, made by <a href="">Fat Rat Films</a>.<span>&nbsp;</span></p> <p>“Most people in the UK understand the importance of a functioning national health service,” says Fred Grace of Fat Rat Films. “They understand that, at any point, they could require its services. Can the same be said of legal aid? No it cannot.”</p> <p>He says: “We do not have the same concept of ‘it could happen to me’. The narrative that has been propagated by its opponents is that legal aid is a tool for the radical left wing, a prop for terrorists and bogus asylum seekers, a way of making rich lawyers richer. Articles have been written that refute these allegations, but they do not carry enough of a counter narrative. In short they are boring...</p> <p>“What we need is a new tactic; satire and comedy, a lightness of touch for such a serious issue. We need to make people laugh so they are open to learning and will share this idea with their friends. So we present to you Legal Aid Team!”</p> <p>The film opens in 1949, with Clement Attlee launching Legal Aid and conveys the devastation of the cuts through an animated superhero adventure.&nbsp;</p> <p>If you want to help spread the word, please use the hashtag #legalaidteam, follow the Legal Aid Team on <a href="">Facebook</a> and <a href="">Twitter</a>, and look out for the video release. </p><p> If you want to <a href="">contribute to the project</a>, the Legal Aid Team will credit you on their website once the film goes live.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/ourkingdom/gemma-blythe/defending-rule-of-law-against-uk-government%E2%80%99s-%E2%80%98slash-and-burn%E2%80%99">Defending the rule of law against the UK government’s ‘slash and burn’</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/ourkingdom/melanie-newman/legal-aid-cuts-punish-poorest-tenants">Legal aid cuts punish poorest tenants</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/ourkingdom/james-davies/uk-government-tries-to-hide-chaos-caused-by-legal-aid-cuts">UK government tries to hide the chaos caused by legal aid cuts</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/ourkingdom/clare-sambrook/one-man-two-guvnors-conflict-at-heart-of-british-justice">One Man, Two Guvnors: the conflict at the heart of British justice</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> OurKingdom OurKingdom Care and justice The attack on legal aid Shine A Light Gemma Blythe Fri, 27 Mar 2015 14:52:01 +0000 Gemma Blythe 91602 at Sanctions and regime survival <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><img src="" alt="" hspace="5" width="160" align="right" />The sanctions knife cuts both ways – rallying around the flag, and regime change.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p> </div> </div> </div> <p>Some debates never die; they just get replayed. After the Soviet Army invaded Afghanistan in late December 1979, the United States imposed economic sanctions against the USSR. The Russian Federation since March 2014 has been subject to US and EU sanctions for its annexation of Crimea and active role in the armed conflict in eastern Ukraine. The targets of the latest sanctions <em>–</em> political elites, business executives, and large companies and banks with close ties to Vladimir Putin <em>–</em> are more selective this time, but the continuation of the sanctions for nearly a year has rekindled the debate about the effectiveness of sanctions. Can sanctions compel governments to change policies? Do they encourage a ‘rally round the flag’ effect? Can they help bring about regime change (which by now is the only way political power can genuinely change hands in Russia)?</p><h2>The aim of sanctions</h2> <p>The huge academic literature on sanctions addresses these questions in various ways, depending on what the aim of the sanctions is. Often the aim is to force a specific change of policy or behaviour. In some instances, however, the coercing state has had the more ambitious objective of destabilising and fomenting unrest in a targeted state. The idea is that if economic conditions deteriorate, the vast majority of people in the target country will blame their own government for the hardships and possibly rise up against it. The goal of regime change was at least part of the rationale for the use of economic warfare on numerous occasions during the Cold War, such as the Soviet Union’s imposition of economic sanctions against Yugoslavia in the late 1940s and early 1950s, the US economic embargo against Cuba starting in 1960 (and tightened considerably in 1962), Soviet economic coercion against Albania and China in the 1960s, US economic pressure on Salvador Allende’s government in Chile in the early 1970s, and the US economic embargo against Iran starting in 1979.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="" alt="Putin addresses a crowd at a celebration of the one year anniversary of the 'return' of Crimea to Russia." title="" width="460" height="306" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Putin addresses a crowd at a celebration of the one year anniversary of the 'return' of Crimea to Russia.</span></span></span><span></span></p><p><span>Moreover, even when the coercing state’s objectives are relatively limited and are not aimed at triggering upheavals and rebellion per se, one of the consequences of economic pressure might be an outbreak of destabilising unrest in the target country. Indeed, some advocates of economic sanctions have argued that fears of such unrest are precisely what would spur the targeted regime to comply with the coercing state’s wishes.</span><span>&nbsp;</span></p><p><span class="pullquote-right">Western scholars and public officials have long questioned whether the tactic actually works.</span></p> <p>Despite the frequent use of economic pressure by states against other states, Western scholars and public officials <a href=";hl=en&amp;sa=X&amp;scisig=AAGBfm3N_p_Xo3gIcs0TWbMipOWDd0fvLQ&amp;nossl=1&amp;oi=scholarr&amp;ei=qC8VVfrZAsHnaOiHgagN&amp;ved=0CCAQgAMoADAA">have long questioned whether the tactic actually works</a>. Much of the debate about the efficacy of economic sanctions lies outside the scope of this article, but some scholars have specifically focused on the question of whether economic coercion is likely to be successful in provoking political instability and undermining the ruling authorities in the target country. In particular, studies show that, on average, economic sanctions do tend to facilitate regime change in targeted countries.</p><h2>Regime survival</h2> <p>In<a href=";uid=2&amp;uid=3738032&amp;uid=4"> a study of 136 countries from 1947 to 1999</a>, Nikolay Marinov sought to determine whether ‘economic sanctions hurt the survival of government leaders in office.’ After comparing the longevity of leaders in countries that were targeted by sanctions with the longevity of leaders in countries that were not targeted, he concluded that sanctions do in fact ‘destabilise the leaders they target.’<span>&nbsp;</span></p> <p>In <a href="">a major refinement of Marinov’s argument</a>, Abel Escribà-Folch and Joseph Wright argue that rather than treating authoritarian regimes as a single class, scholars analysing the impact of sanctions on regime survival must specify the type of authoritarian regime in the targeted state. Escribà-Folch and Wright find that although economic sanctions do, on average, contribute to the destabilisation and removal of personalistic dictators, sanctions do not have any appreciable effect on the longevity of single-party regimes and military juntas. The results of their analysis vary somewhat depending on how one treats hybrid regimes, but their findings are impressively robust.</p> <p>A different take on this question comes in <a href=";oq=%E2%80%9CInternational+Economic+Sanctions+against+a+Dictator%2C%E2%80%9D&amp;aqs=chrome..69i57j0.632j0j7&amp;sourceid=chrome&amp;es_sm=91&amp;ie=UTF-8#q=%E2%80%9CInternational+Economic+Sanctions+against+a+Dictator%E2%80%9D">a study co-authored by William Kaempfer, Anton Lowenberg, and William Mertenis</a> that relies on a model derived from public-choice theory.&nbsp;The three authors claim that ‘damaging economic sanctions can have the counterproductive effect of encouraging the ruling regime and its supporters while at the same time undermining the political influence of the opposition.’ As they see it, sanctions are less important for ‘their economic effects’ than for ‘their impact on the relative political effectiveness of interest groups within the target country.’</p> <p>Using a model of an authoritarian system in which a support-maximising dictator engages in domestic redistribution by responding to pressures from interest groups, Kaempfer <em>et al</em>. contend that authoritarian rulers normally emphasise the provision of private (excludable) goods for their supporters rather than public (non-excludable) goods for the wider population. The imposition of economic sanctions, they argue, affects the relative levels of ‘political resources of key groups in the target countries’ and thus ‘can alter the alignment of domestic interests’ in the targeted state. In principle, this could lead to either the removal or the consolidation of the regime:</p> <p>‘If opponents of the regime are encouraged by foreign sanctions, the ability of opposition interest groups to mobilise collective action is increased. At the same time, the regime might be weakened by sanctions if potential supporters defect in expectation of imminent collapse of the status quo. However, the sanctions knife cuts both ways: it is equally likely that sanctions will cause the regime’s supporters to rally around the flag in defiance of foreign interference, thereby strengthening the ruling elite and reinforcing its objectionable policy.’&nbsp;</p><p class="pullquote-right">The sanctions knife cuts both ways.</p> <p>One of the implications of this approach is that sanctions cannot be effective in precipitating the downfall of the regime unless ‘there exists within the target country a reasonably well-organised opposition group whose political effectiveness potentially could be enhanced as a consequence of sanctions.’ Even in this case, however, the sanctions might still have debilitating effects on the opposition.</p> <p>The model developed by Kaempfer and his co-authors indicates that if the sanctions damage the economy of the targeted state ‘to such an extent as to impoverish the public, the domestic opposition’s ability to exert influence might be weakened. Moreover, the capacity of the regime to repress dissent might be increased if a poor populace is more readily policed.’ Hence, the sanctions would allow the support-maximising dictator to substitute loyalty for repression and consolidate his power.</p> <p>The dictator would be helped even more if the sanctions enabled him ‘to gain some of the rents accruing from sanctions-induced changes in the terms of trade,’ which could then be doled out to supporters to ensure their loyalty. The beneficial impact for the dictator would be multiplied if ‘groups that are close to the regime might be induced by the sanctions to increase their support in order to capture more of the sanctions rents for themselves,’ which would mean that the costs borne by the dictator to preserve the loyalty of these key insider groups would diminish. The net result would be that the sanctions strengthen the dictatorship and undercut the main political opposition groups.</p><h2>Effects</h2> <p>In the case of the Soviet regime and the sanctions imposed by the Carter administration in 1980 after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, we know for sure from declassified CPSU Politburo transcripts that Soviet leaders hated the sanctions and resented their effects. The sanctions did not, however, produce any near-term change in Soviet policy in Afghanistan.</p> <p>The Reagan administration promptly lifted the measure that Soviet leaders particularly disliked, namely, the embargo on US grain exports. During the 1980 election campaign, Reagan had promised voters in the Corn Belt states that he would end the grain embargo, and his administration fulfilled that promise in April 1981, just a few months after he took office.</p> <p>Hence, assessing the longer-term effects of the 1980 sanctions is inherently difficult. The sanctions may have had a small deterrent effect on subsequent Soviet foreign policy decisions (e.g., during the crisis in Poland), but they did not change fundamental Soviet goals. Gorbachev's adoption of a vastly different approach to foreign policy is not directly traceable to the impact of past sanctions (though indirectly they may have played a small role).</p><p class="pullquote-right">The US and EU sanctions have not produced any discernible change in Russian policy vis-à-vis Crimea and eastern Ukraine.</p> <p>In the case of the Russian Federation today, the US and EU sanctions have not produced any discernible change in Russian policy vis-à-vis Crimea and eastern Ukraine, and Putin’s regime has given no indication that it will back down even if the sanctions are tightened. Will the sanctions help to bring about a change of regime?&nbsp;With Putin’s popularity ratings at 85% and few if any signs of a debilitating split in the ruling elite, this goal too seems elusive, at least for now. Although one cannot fully rule out a longer-term impact on the stability of the regime, that seems a distant prospect at best.</p><p>This article was <a href="">originally published</a> on PONARS Eurasia 11 March 2015</p><p><em>Image: RIA Novosti/Aleksei Nikolsky. All rights reserved.&nbsp;</em></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/od-russia/james-kovpak/american-credibility-trap">The American credibility trap</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/od-russia/daniel-kennedy/arming-ukraine">Arming Ukraine</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 3.0 </div> </div> </div> oD Russia oD Russia PONARS Eurasia Mark Kramer Ukraine Russia Foreign Conflict Business & Economics Fri, 27 Mar 2015 12:40:05 +0000 Mark Kramer 91591 at Requiem for EuroMaidan <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><img src="" alt="" hspace="5" width="160" align="right" /></p><p>As Ukraine turns into an oligarch republic, civil society has few chances left to make itself the true victor of EuroMaidan.</p><p>&nbsp;</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span>Today, the significance of EuroMaidan for Ukrainian society lies in its intentions – to restore the Republic, establish the rule of law in economics and politics, and to secure control over elites via partnership with the European Union; a sizeable democratisation mechanism. And although Maidan enjoyed far from universal support, it spoke in the interests of all Ukraine's citizens.</span></p><p>Unfortunately, the results of our actions often diverge from the motivations behind them. The power elites that swept out the clans tied to the Party of Regions have not been able to consolidate the promises of EuroMaidan. This fiasco has several causes, but one of them merits particular discussion: the oligarchs' take-over of an unfinished autocracy.</p><h2>Requiem for EuroMaidan</h2><p>In recent days, Kyiv has found itself immersed in a new crisis. Ihor Kolomoisky, a pro-Maidan oligarch and governor of the eastern powerhouse of Dnipropetrovsk, openly used fighters from the Dnipro volunteer battalion to seize control of Ukraine's state-owned gas company, Ukrtransnafta.</p><p>One day prior, the Ukrainian government and parliament passed a law to take the management of Ukrtransnafta back under governmental control. Subsequently, President Petro Poroshenko accepted Kolomoisky's resignation as governor and now faces a challenge of possible civil unrest in Dnipropetrovsk. Local lawmakers in Dnipropetrovsk are already calling for a new Maidan. </p><p>Meanwhile, Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk was accused of being involved in large-scale corruption by the former head of Ukraine's financial inspection service. The following day, the head of the Ministry of Emergency Services was arrested on corruption charges live on television during a cabinet meeting as Poroshenko and Yatsenyuk looked on.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="" alt="" title="" width="460" height="302" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Ihor Kolomoisky has recently been dismissed as head of Dnipropetrov'sk regional administration. (c) Inna Solokovska / Demotix. </span></span></span></p><p>For Ukrainian citizens who placed their hopes in a revolutionary president and prime minister, these events sound like a requiem for EuroMaidan.<span>&nbsp;</span></p><h2><span>Creative oligarchy</span></h2><p>In the post-Soviet space, it's worth remembering that an oligarch is not just a highly wealthy individual. An oligarch is someone who pursues their private interests (accumulating capital, receiving rents, monopolising certain sectors) with the help of public instruments.</p><p class="pullquote-right">Just as EuroMaidan defended the interests of all Ukrainian citizens, it also defended the oligarchs.</p><p>At the time of going to press, for instance, Ukrainian billionaire Rinat Akhmetov is no longer an oligarch, although he remains one of the richest people in Ukraine. Akhmetov no longer holds sway over Ukrainian public institutions, and he lives the life of a usual post-Soviet businessman – vulnerable to the police, tax inspection, fire inspections, and other agencies, which extort illegal payments. </p><p><span>The complex mechanisms of administrative and political&nbsp;</span><span>safeguards comprise one such 'public instrument': an oligarch's private interests and property are guaranteed by parliamentary deputies, political parties, and functionaries in the executive and judiciary. Without recourse to exploitation of public institutions, an oligarch is merely a very rich individual, unable to defend his property under the majority of post-Soviet political regimes.</span></p><p>Just as EuroMaidan defended the interests of all Ukrainian citizens, it also defended the oligarchs. They too suffered from Viktor Yanukovych's autocratic tendencies, just like everyone else. </p><p>By November 2013, though, even the oligarch groups at the core of the Party of Regions had been isolated from most budget streams and influential government posts. But after Maidan, the oligarchs were able to acquire greater rights and opportunities than any other group in Ukraine. This acquisition was made possible by the fact that, as a group, oligarchs have been far more effective in the pursuit of their own interests when compared with any other group of post-Soviet society, formal or informal. At the same time, the conflicts emerging between the victors' political programmes, have also contributed to oligarchic acquisition.</p><p>To understand why oligarchs are so effective, one has to look at their creativity. Their ability to survive and expand their influence never fails to impress; their ability to corrupt any half-decent public initiative never fails to frighten.<span>&nbsp;</span></p><p>Consider the threat posed by the Privat group, headed by Ihor Kolomoisky. Today, this group owns one of Ukraine's biggest private banks (Privatbank), which has 19m customers, Ukraine's biggest TV Channel (1+1), as well as businesses in energy, retail, and many other sectors, dozens of Rada deputies, several governors and mayors.<span>&nbsp;</span></p><p>Having lost major holdings in Crimea and Donbas in 2014, the highly congenial Kolomoisky managed to retain and even enlarge his assets, all the while positioning himself as the saviour of Ukraine, creating a personal army in the form of volunteer battalions, and building his own fiefdom out of several regions in Ukraine's south east. Kolomoisky's creative potential is sizeable. And so is the danger he poses to the (as yet unborn) Third Ukrainian Republic.</p><h2>Caught between the Maidan and war</h2><p>For companies like Privat Group, the opportunity to grow and develop arose due to the conflict between the demands of Maidan and the demands of fighting a war in the East.</p><p>The Maidan programme is one of civil revolution, and is aimed at the restoration of the republic with its three branches of power, and distribution of authority between the centre and local communities; in other words, political pluralism. It entails a free economy with opportunities both for entrepreneurs and ordinary citizens. The Maidan programme is for fair and accessible justice, as well as high-quality healthcare, accessible to all. It is also about controlling the elites.<span>&nbsp;</span></p><p>The demands of war, on the other hand, require victory over separatists and foreign influence in Donbas, the restoration of national sovereignty, and territorial security. It requires the concentration of resources (economic and human), and involves autocratic rule, as well as unaccountable authorities. The programme of war requires that we limit not only the freedom of information, but personal freedoms, too.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="" alt="" title="" width="460" height="306" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Ukrainians bid farewell to fallen soldiers at Independence Square. (c) Nazar Furyk / Demotix. </span></span></span><br /><span>The conflict between these demands is shaping Ukraine's future development. And the principles of oligarchic rule have crept into the gaps between them.</span><span>&nbsp;</span></p><p><span class="pullquote-right">The conflict between Maidan and the conflict in Donbas is shaping Ukraine's future development.&nbsp;</span></p><h2>Oligarch republic</h2><p><span>Today, Ukraine is practically an oligarch republic. Several pro-Maidan businessmen (among them Arsen Avakov, now Interior Minister, and Serhiy Pashinsky, former head of the Presidential Administration) have taken charge of key power posts, and started building – what appears to be – their own oligarchic domains. But the oligarchic system remains incomplete. There are still people, whether in the parliament, executive, or the army, who don't see eye to eye with the oligarchs.</span></p><p>The recent law on shareholder groups demonstrates that these conflicting programmes can strengthen one another. The necessity of collecting taxes to defend the country can still force the parliament to pass a law, which increases economic transparency. The attempt to force Ukrtransnafta, Ukraine's largest state enterprise to pay taxes and dividends is an important first step in pushing back against the oligarchs in Ukraine.</p><p>This step reflects the fact that there is still a chance for reforms, to create a third republic. But for this we need to take key measures that would cut across the oligarchs' ability to control state enterprises, avoid paying taxes, and use the Rada and Cabinet of Ministers to further their own interests. The perspective of a new unprecedented wave of privatisation only increases the oligarch's appetite, as well as the risks for Ukrainian democracy. If the anti-corruption service currently under construction does not launch, the planned mass privatisation will once again lead to the hijacking of Ukraine's principal industries, and will benefit only a few families, who will later require political guarantees for their property. The prospect of oligarchic success becomes more and more likely every day.<span>&nbsp;</span></p><p>A clearer division between the private and public sector, or 'de-oligarchisation', is not the silver bullet to Ukraine's problems. But it will create the conditions for developing an effective and accountable government and parliament. Economic competition continues to grow, and the pressure on small businesses is receding. The current government has made several steps to make life simpler for small businessmen and the self-employed.</p><p>People's dependence on patron-client networks is also decreasing. Civic activism and the lack of funds in the state budget is already eroding the huge clientele of those Ukrainians who are dependent on the state budget. A new poverty has already arrived in Ukriane. And its impact is a shock for many households; a shock and a challenge to become more active and entrepreneurial. But the survival techniques of the 1990s are not only a sign of desperation, they are&nbsp;<span>an opportunity to try and be free once again. In a time of economic crisis and military conflict, the government cannot dedicate up to 43% of its budget to state employees (the so-called <em>byudzhetniki</em>) any more. The citizenry is doomed to be free.</span></p><p>If the current chance is lost, a new Maidan is unavoidable. But now, just as Ukraine is acquiring more and more experience of conflict, a future political crisis could be even more terrifying.</p><p><em>Editor's note: a version of this article appeared first in <a href="">Russian </a>on <a href=""></a></em>.&nbsp;</p><p><em>Standfirst: Ukrainians pay tribute to fallen soldiers on Independence Square, Kyiv. (c) Nazar Furyk / Demotix.&nbsp;</em></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/od-russia/fabian-burkhardt/vying-for-influence-in-ukraine">Vying for influence in Ukraine</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/od-russia/nicholas-ross-smith-zbigniew-dumie%C5%84ski/rethinking-eurasia%27s-future">Rethinking Eurasia&#039;s future</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/od-russia/manuel-veth/empire-that-is-shakhtar-donetsk-fc">The empire that is Shakhtar Donetsk FC</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 3.0 </div> </div> </div> oD Russia oD Russia Mikhail Minakov Ukraine Justice Conflict Business & Economics Fri, 27 Mar 2015 12:32:57 +0000 Mikhail Minakov 91590 at Spanish bullfights: a Muslim perspective on reactions after the Charlie Hebdo attacks <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Violent reactions from parts of the Islamic world to caricatures of the Prophet Muhammed in western magazines are against the essence of Islam and fuel a cycle of provocations and overreactions.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="" alt="Jamat-ud-Dawah are protesting against publication of blasphemous caricatures in French Charlie Hebdo" title="" width="460" height="319" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Peshawar demonstration against caricatures in French Charlie Hebdo. Asianet-Pakistan/Demotix. All rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p>In early February, not even one month after the terrorist attacks on the Charlie Hebdo offices and only two weeks before the Copenhagen terror shootings, former Pakistani railway minister Ghulam Ahmed Bilour <a href="">announced</a> in the country’s National Assembly a $200,000 reward for anyone who kills the owner of the satirical magazine. As a Muslim, I cannot conceive of a more severe insult to the Prophet Muhammed than to promote such violence in his name. When followers of our religion respond to criticism through violence rather than words, the very essence of Islam is distorted and compromised. What is more, these violent reactions to every perceived offense threaten to become a source of destruction for our religion.</p> <p>For quite some time now, caricatures of the Prophet of Islam have been published in the west, especially some European countries. While many artists and writers portray them as an inventive contribution to an ongoing dispute, others perceive them as promoting a <a href="">bullying racist agenda</a>. Even so, the irrational reactions by some Muslim leaders and communities – whether in the form of violent protests or calls for murder – only fuel the continued publication and popularity of these offensive caricatures. The media and political pundits now increasingly describe these attacks as part of an ongoing struggle between the west’s freedom of expression and Islam’s lack of tolerance.<strong><em></em></strong></p><h2><strong><em>A Spanish bullfight&nbsp;&nbsp; </em></strong></h2> <p>My good friend Muhammad Al–Mukhtar Al–Shinqiti, a Mauritanian intellectual, recalls the analogy used by the renowned Muslim philosopher, Malek Bennabi, to describe this current dynamic between the west and the east: “the mass media leaders in the west tend to adopt a strategy similar to the Spanish bullfighting game with the third–world nations, whereby they show a red cape to anger the bull, usurp its power, and finally hound it to death.” Bennabi further compared the struggle between the west and the third world countires to Ivan Pavlov’s concept of ‘conditioned reflex’, whereby a reaction becomes more frequent and predictable in a given environment as a result of reinforcement. </p> <p>We see this cycle of provocation–overreaction playing out over and over again. Salman Rushdie’s <em>The Satanic Verses</em>, the publication of Prophet Muhammed’s caricatures in a Danish newspaper in 2005, the release of a short film (“<em>Fitna”</em>) by a Dutch parliamentarian a few years later, and finally the recent caricatures published by <em>Charlie Hebdo</em> all serve to remind us of the Spanish bullfighting game and Pavlov’s experiments with dogs. As some Muslims reflexively respond to a perceived insult with habitual threats of violence, they fail not only to end the provocation; they become handmaidens to the destruction of the very Islamic principles they are trying to protect: principles of civility, rationality and peaceful resolution, which are at the core of the Quran and the Hadith. </p><h2>Learning from the Prophet</h2> <p>The first question that we Muslims should ask ourselves is how the Prophet would have reacted to these incidents if he was among us. Reading the Quran and the stories of Prophet Muhammed’s life can provide us with the answer. From the beginning, when the Prophet lived in Mecca in hardship and deprivation, to the time he enjoyed military and political power in Medina, he encountered numerous enemies and detractors who called him “despicable” and described him as a “sorcerer”, “liar”, “betrayer”, “mad”, “ill” and “insane.”</p> <p>Even as the Quran recounts the humiliation and offences instigated by the Prophet’s opponents, it never calls for a <em>physical </em>response, nor does it prescribe punishment for the offenders. From the perspective of the Quran, being insulted is one of the challenges that all messengers of god face: “<em>Oh the regrets that human beings will have to bear! Never has an apostle come to them without their deriding him</em>!” (36:30). As to what should be done in response to those who ridicule Islam, the Quran states: “indeed, we are sufficient for you against the mockers” (15:95). The Quran invites us to use these instances as an opportunity to call people to speak the Truth: “…<em>so let them alone, and advise them, and speak to them concerning themselves far–reaching words</em>” (4:63). It recommends indulgence, abstinence and optimism; and these were the principal elements of the strategy that the Prophet of Islam adopted in such circumstances. Mockery and insults were never used as an excuse for violence and retribution.</p> <p>The Quran extends the virtue of tolerance and leniency to such a level that it even forbids mockery and insult to non–living <em>idols</em>, saying: <em>“Revile not you those whom they call upon besides Allah, lest they out of spite revile Allah in their ignorance. Thus we have made pleasing to every community their deeds. Then to their Lord is their return, and He will inform them about what they used to do” (6:108). </em>We can infer a key lesson from this verse: We have no right to overreact to mockery and insult to Islam since judgment belongs to God, in the afterlife.</p> <h2>The cycle of violence and hatred</h2> <p>The actions of violent movements that have emerged in the past 50 years in the Muslim world do not use the methods employed and prescribed by the Prophet. Instead, these groups that claim to defend Islam appear closer in nature to leftist radicalism. The use of violence to destroy the “old” world and establish a new political system is characteristic of this extreme philosophy. This form of radicalism is similar to a Maoist–type cultural revolution in the name of Islam. They call for the unification of the Islamic world, but in reality they only further divide Muslims into smaller, adversarial communities.</p> <p>Over the past few years, every violent reaction perpetrated by these so–called “defenders of Islam” against perceived enemies has harmed Islam and Muslims worldwide. They have caused much more extensive and severe damage to the Prophet and his teachings than that caused by any type of offensive film, caricature, article or story made by his opponents. In fact, one of the miracles of his messenger is that ‘<em>his reputation is raised high’</em>, as God says in the Quran: “<em>And [We] raised high for you your repute</em>” (94:4). Prophet Muhammed stands high among the greatest personalities of history, and his name is the most reputed of all, which no pen and no artistic exposition can ever obscure.</p> <p>The violation that Muslim extremists have committed against the Prophet of Islam is, in effect, worse than any caricature. In the post–attack issue of Charlie Hebdo, a new caricature depicting the Prophet with his hands on his face, saying: “Mohammed overwhelmed by fundamentalists: ‘It’s hard to be loved by idiots!’” sparked diverse international reactions. </p><p>After the incident, the whole world looked at Paris. Millions of people marched in the streets in France, millions of copies of the magazine were sold; and millions of caricatures of the Prophet were distributed. Today, even those who were not interested in the caricatures published by the magazine are now shouting “We are Charlie!” The print run of the magazine skyrocketed from merely 60,000 to 8 million copies. The attacks popularised the artists who were once unknown to others; their names now appear in the headlines in magazines, newspapers and news programmes on TV, and their works and articles are published for free by all the media. </p><p>Moreover, the terrorist attack on Charlie Hebdo has provoked retaliatory attacks on Muslim mosques, discrimination towards Muslims who have migrated to Europe and America, putting distressed Muslims in a defensive situation, and closing down the open spirit of western people towards Islam. We see this rise of Islamophobia manifested in the deliberate killings of three young Muslim–American students in Chapel Hill, even if initially labelled as a <a href="">‘parking dispute’</a> by the police.</p><h2>The way forward</h2><p>It is important to recognise that satire is traditionally the weapon of the powerless against the powerful. Molly Ivins, an American political satirist, explained, “I only aim at the powerful. When satire is aimed at the powerless, it is not only cruel –– it's vulgar!” Today, Muslims face a major cultural assault. The question is how to respond to this assault. In answering this, one thing is clear: violence as a response to those who ridicule Islam is not only un–Islamic, it is also counterproductive, as it reinforces the position of those who criticise it.</p> <p>Perhaps we can learn from the example of the Council on American–Islamic Relations (CAIR). A few years ago, a Christian pastor in Florida <a href="">set the Quran</a> on fire and left all Christians in the world embarrassed. In response, CAIR distributed one million copies of the Quran in English. They turned the offence into an opportunity to show the true messages of Islam. Can Muslims learn from this experience? What we observe, in general, is that Muslims, in Muslim countries and in the west – are in a position to address the challenges of today’s world in a more rational manner.</p> <p>The Islamic world has been overshadowed by violence and terrorism for several years now – a <a href="">co–creation</a> of poor western policies and even poorer internal dynamics in the Muslim world. These terrorist groups claim leadership of the Islamic world while senselessly inflicting endless miseries upon ordinary Muslims and the larger Muslim world. From the decapitation of humans to the revival of slavery, mass killings of religious and ethnic minorities from Afghanistan to Iraq, and the severe abuse of women, these so–called ‘Muslim warriors’ are no different than Genghis Khan and his troops, who looted and destroyed the tangible achievements of the great Islamic civilization in the 13th century. These terrorist groups are here to destroy and erase the intellectual and ethical values of Islamic civilization from the records of the history. I fear that these groups are causing the implosion and elimination of a great religion from within – a trend that is observable in the remote corners of the Muslim world as well as in the heart of the western world. </p> <p>I believe the solution to this mayhem begins and ends with us, the Muslim community. Not until we acknowledge this fact and try to rectify the path we are travelling can we expect a better outcome for the future. In the past, the glorious civilization that has developed in Baghdad, Central Asia, Balkh, Andalusia, Istanbul and Cairo did not emerge as a virtue of an ‘emirate’ or ‘caliphate’, but as a result of the hard work of its thousands of scientists, scholars, artists, writers, statesmen and innovators who lived throughout their territories. We, as Muslims, must institute effective strategies and solutions to address the radicalism and violence of the so–called ‘Muslim extremists’. What took place in Paris is not only condemnable based on the ethical standards of today, but also by rational Islamic law, the Quran, and the instructions from the daily life of Prophet Muhammed. The renowned Muslim poet Rumi captures the essence of my assertion in his fabulous Persian poem: “I feel pity for the religion so pure…Exterminated by the unwise followers it owns.”</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/simon-dawes/charlie-hebdo-and-right-to-offend">Charlie Hebdo and the right to offend </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/od-blog/mary-fitzgerald/charlie-hebdo-insert-%27offence%27-here">Charlie Hebdo [insert &#039;offence&#039; here]</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> Bashir Ansari Fri, 27 Mar 2015 10:12:38 +0000 Bashir Ansari 91392 at Reinventing urban democracy in Barcelona <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Barcelona's citizens are setting aside the historical baggage of the nineteenth and twentieth century struggles of industrial workers movements, inventing a newly resonant language of rights and democracy.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><img src="" alt="Image of people's assembly in Barcelona" title="People&#039;s Assembly in Barcelona" width="460" height="306" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>People's assembly in Plaça Catalunya. Flickr/Sergio Alvarez. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p><strong><em>“We’re losing Barcelona and we want to win it back.”</em></strong></p><p>These are the opening words of the manifesto of the new electoral alliance&nbsp;<em><a href="">Barcelona en Comú&nbsp;</a></em>(which can be translated as "Barcelona for all"). It’s a sentiment that will resonate with city-dwellers across the world. The alliance is already topping some polls in its bid to win this May’s city council elections and bring to an end decades during which urban development became a get-rich-quick scheme for private investors. The Catalan capital, which was a hotbed for radical politics of all stripes in the early twentieth century, immortalised in Orwell’s&nbsp;<em>Homage to Catalonia</em>, is giving birth to a 21st century vision of municipal democracy.</p> <p>This is a vision that cities across Europe need now more than ever. During the 1970s and 1980s devastated urban landscapes emerged from the wreckage of deindustrialisation giving way to a new kind of urban politics in cities from Malaga to Maastricht<strong>.</strong>&nbsp;This new politics, often described as <a href="">“neoliberal urbanism”,</a> is all about extending the role of the market in shaping how cities work. The policy recipe is well known: privatisation of municipal services; promotion of “light touch” tax regimes; a low-wage, precarious service sector and the conversion of housing into an investment asset. These measures, intended to respond to the urban crisis let loose by deindustrialisation,<strong>&nbsp;</strong>have created a new, permanent crisis for the majority of city-dwellers and facilitated the enrichment of a tiny, footloose global elite.<strong>&nbsp;</strong></p> <h2><strong>Creating an alternative city</strong></h2> <p>The real estate business is emblematic of the soaring inequality and often downright corruption at the heart of this urban model. Our social housing has been privatised, our public spaces are consumer oriented and heavily policed, and our city budgets are often squandered on "mega-events" and "flagship developments" which only serve to boost land values and tourist revenues. But neoliberal urbanism also has global impacts. The integration of real estate and the global financial system, starkly revealed by the global financial crisis, means that urban politics has consequences for everything from Greek sovereign debt to the policies of the Federal Reserve.</p> <p>We all know these problems, and researchers have been diagnosing them for years. But what can be done about them? Discussions about creating an alternative city have tended to focus on grassroots movements, community organising and <a href="">Jane Jacobs</a>-style passion for creating liveable cities. These are all essential parts of the process, but one avenue of change has remained curiously outside of the discussion – taking back our local political institutions.</p> <p>This is exactly what&nbsp;<em>Barcelona en Comú</em>&nbsp;seeks to achieve, with an ambitious programme of radical reform. To begin with,&nbsp;<em>Barcelona en Comú</em>&nbsp;is not a political party, at least not in any traditional sense. It’s a “citizen’s platform”, a vehicle for civil society and social movements to bring their work on the streets and in the neighbourhoods to the heart of political decision making. The platform came about through a coming together of social movements, civil society organisations and community groups, many of whom forged close relations during the alter-globalisation movement of the early 2000s and more recently as part of the <em>indignados</em>&nbsp;movement. A strong current of citizen participation was thus evident from the outset, and this has only intensified with neighbourhood meetings, an open process for selecting candidates, and the use of online tools for greater transparency and participation.</p> <h2><strong>Beyond left and right</strong></h2> <p>The term “citizen platform” is more than a re-branding exercise. It speaks to a new orientation with regard to urban social movements in Barcelona, and across Spain, and one which relates to both the divide between citizens and state institutions and the divide between left and right. In relation to the former, city activists have for sometime sought to move away from an “oppositionalist” stance vis-a-vis the institutions of the state, seeking instead to find ways to bring their politics into the sphere of public institutions in a manner which would democratise them instead of depoliticising social movements, as has often been the case in the past. In relation to the latter, many of the new struggles which have emerged in the wake of the Spanish financial crisis, including those against evictions and the privatisation of healthcare and education (all of which have fed into B<em>arcelona en Comú</em>) transcend the left/right dichotomy. They are setting aside the historical baggage of the nineteenth and twentieth century struggles of industrial workers movements, in the process inventing a new language of rights and democracy that resonates with the experience of today’s city-dwellers.</p> <p>The shift beyond left and right has also allowed the new social movements in Spain to outflank the two party political system, under which the socialist and conservative parties have played pass-the-parcel with Spain’s political institutions since the decline of Franco. In a sense,&nbsp;<em>Barcelona en Comú</em>&nbsp;is a municipal politics of the 99%.</p> <p>For this politics to be real it needs concrete measures to subject local representatives to democratic processes. In this regard, all of those running under the&nbsp;<em>Barcelona en Comú</em>&nbsp;banner will sign up to a&nbsp;<a href="">code of ethics</a>&nbsp;designed to ensure that political representatives implement the policies they have a mandate for and don’t become career politicians. Successful candidates may not earn more than €2,200 per month (including expenses) and can hold office for a maximum of two terms. Moreover, the code of ethics imposes a blanket ban on “double jobbing” and on taking up directorships or board membership in the private sector following time in office, thus putting an end to the “revolving door” between public service and private gain.</p> <p>The urban policies they hope to implement are equally ambitious. These include the prioritisation of social and cooperative housing, as well as the auditing of all vacant housing and measures to put it to use. The platform will also target the most pernicious aspects of the tourist industry in order, as their&nbsp;<a href="">manifesto</a>&nbsp;puts it, to “prevent the city’s essential nature from being changed. We don’t want a theme park. We want liveable, inclusive cities and neighbourhoods that provide decent work.” This is an important issue for a city of 2 million which attracts over 7 million visitors annually.</p> <h2><strong>Re-claiming our cities</strong></h2> <p><em>Barcelona en Comú</em>&nbsp;is now, according to the polls, neck and neck with the incumbent centre-right Catalan party&nbsp;<em>Convergéncia i Unió</em>. Sister organisations have also sprung up to contest local elections in Madrid, Valencia and other major cities. The potential for&nbsp;<em>Barcelona en Comú</em>&nbsp;to win the upcoming elections was given a boost when&nbsp;<em>Podemos</em>&nbsp;joined the alliance in February, lending its significant political capital and media presence. This new political party at the national level, which itself emerged from the cauldron of Spain’s&nbsp;<em>indignados</em><em>&nbsp;</em>movement, is topping the polls, providing yet another indication of the radical shake up of Southern Europe’s electoral scene in the wake of disastrous troika bailout programmes</p> <p>It’s too early to say what the outcome of this audacious attempt to democratise local government will be, but what’s happening in Barcelona sends a clear message to all of those who care about cities and the people who live in them. The kidnapping of local government by private interests has been a disaster for cities. It’s time to take back our public institutions.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/opensecurity/tom-slater/resilience-of-neoliberal-urbanism">The resilience of neoliberal urbanism</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/fred-halliday/barcelona-catalonia-real-thing">Barcelona i Catalunya: the real thing </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/tim-baster-isabelle-merminod/podemos-new-type-of-resistance">Podemos, a new type of resistance</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Spain </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-city"> <div class="field-label">City:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Barcelona </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Ideas </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? Barcelona Spain Civil society Democracy and government Ideas Mick Byrne Fri, 27 Mar 2015 10:01:59 +0000 Mick Byrne 91249 at