Category Archives: Equality

Let this be the last: we can’t let this go on

Just over two years ago, David Cameron lost a vote on the UK taking part in bombing raids and other military action on Syria.

The plan then was for the UK to send military help to the opponents of Assad’s government. Since then (BBC, 12th March 2015):

Capitalising on the chaos in the region, Islamic State (IS) – the extremist group that grew out of al-Qaeda in Iraq – has taken control of huge swathes of territory across northern and eastern Syria, as well as neighbouring Iraq. Its many foreign fighters in Syria are now involved in a “war within a war”, battling rebels and jihadists from the al-Qaeda-affiliated Nusra Front, who object to their tactics, as well as Kurdish and government forces.
In September 2014, a US-led coalition launched air strikes inside Syria in an effort to “degrade and ultimately destroy” IS, ultimately helping the Kurds repel a major assault on the northern town of Kobane.

Unnoticed in the timeline of the war, in 2012 a family fled from Damascus to survive: Abdullah, Rihan, Galip, and Aylan Shenu reached Turkey, where they were called “Kurdi” because of their ethnic background.
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Filed under Children, Human Rights

We can’t let this go on: Aylan Kurdi

Petition the UK government to accept more refugeesA few days ago when I signed this petition the number of signatures was at less than 10,000 – as you see, the signatories have blasted past 120,000, and if David Cameron upholds his own policy on petitions (as he failed to do in the past over the NHS) Parliament now needs to consider this for a debate.

Aylan Kurdi is the small child who drowned in the Mediterranean Sea and whose photograph, dead, is on so many newspaper front pages today. Aylan was three: Galip, his five-year-old brother, and Rihan, his mother, also drowned. The only survivor was his father, Abdullah.

I hope Abdullah’s permission was obtained by each of the newspapers who chose to highlight the refugee crisis with the body of his dead child. I cannot imagine, I cannot begin to conceive, the hell of suffering and loss Abdullah Kurdi is in, to lose your children and your partner in a desperate effort to escape with them to a safe refuge.
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Filed under Children, Human Rights, In The Media

Sex work and Amnesty

Amnesty International: In Solidarity, Uphold Human RightsOne of the commonest distortions of the resolution Amnesty International voted on this August is that Amnesty want to make sex work a human right.

What Amnesty International resolved to do

develop a policy that supports the full decriminalization of all aspects of consensual sex work. The policy will also call on states to ensure that sex workers enjoy full and equal legal protection from exploitation, trafficking and violence.

I’d say this distortion from “protect the human rights of sex workers” to “sex work is a human right” was bizarre, except that I have seen similar distortions before, when Amnesty finally agreed that in a very limited set of circumstances (such as pregnancy caused by rape, especially in a war zone) they would treat access to abortion as a human right, and that they would treat healthcare – medical support of a girl or a woman who’s had an illegal abortion and needs treatment – as a human right. That got distorted too.

So, Amnesty International are taking the position that sex work should be decriminalised, in order to protect the human rights of sex workers.
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Filed under Human Rights, Police, Poverty, Women

We can’t let this go on: Rukhsan Muhammed

On 29th November 2013, a photojournalist on a rescue boat in the Aegean Sea took the photograph below of Rukhsan Muhammed struggling to keep her child Mirwan alive. Later, the photographer sold the image to Anadolu Agency (a state-run press agency in Turkey) which licenced it to Getty Images:

Rukhsan Muhammed, one of the passengers of the boat carrying Syrian refugees to Greek Islands fights for her life after the boat sinks at Aegean Sea near the coastal city of Balikesir, in Turkey on November 29, 2013. Rukhsan Muhammed told a new aspect of her family’s dramatic escape, to Turkish authorities during her appearance in court this week. She explained that following the accident she used her suitcase as a means of life preserver to keep her 1,5 years-old child, Mirwan Muhammed, from drowning. But despite of all her efforts her son fell off the suitcase and got lost amongst the waves.

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Filed under Human Rights, In The Media, War

Smearing by Mensch, 2

There’s a solid 19-point guide at the This-Is-Not-Jewish tumblr, on how to criticise Israel without being anti-Semitic. I have a quibble only over point 5: “Zionism is no more a dirty word than feminism.”

Feminism is the peaceful worldwide revolution for women’s rights and to end the patriarchy. Zionism is the movement, founded in the late 19th century, for the return of Jews to Eretz Yisrael / “the re-establishment of a Jewish homeland in the territory defined as the historic Land of Israel”.

The two are not the same. The equivalents would be the peaceful revolution to end anti-Semitism worldwide or the foundation of a matriarchal state.

The problem with founding a homeland is that in any habitable part of the world, there are people already living there. (The same tumblr also discusses this in how to support Israel without being racist.)

Deir Yassin was a village in what was Palestine. On 9th April 1948, around 120 fighters from the Irgun and Lehi groups (which were “paramilitary” or “terrorists” depending on your viewpoint) attacked the Deir Yassin village, killing over a hundred people, many of them women and children, and drove out the survivors.

In Kelvingrove Park, there is a plaque in memory of the massacre, unveiled on the 40th anniversary by the then-Lord Provost Robert Gray. At a memorial event on 7th April 2002, during Operation Defensive Shield, the STUC General Secretary Bill Spiers said:

“But in the midst of this brutal madness in Palestine there is a glimmer of hope which links April 1948 to April 2002.
“We know what happened in Deir Yassin in 1948 in part because of the eyewitness testimony of Jewish villagers, who had lived peacefully alongside their neighbours until the Zionist terrorists arrived. And more ­ the slaughter was actually stopped by courageous protesting Jews from the nearby village of Givat Shaul.”

Louise Mensch on TwitterLast Friday night Louise Mensch – former Tory MP, current Sun on Sunday columnist, and author of Sparkles, Glamour, Glitz, Passion, Desire, and Destiny, had an embarrassing incident involving a screenshot and Twitter’s auto-complete function, detailed in part 1. I am posting these as a series of debunking reports of the long blog Mensch posted on unfashionista the Saturday night after her Twitter fail.

Louise Mensch, like the Telegraph, started out seeing Jeremy Corbyn’s bid for leadership as a very good joke, since obviously Labour members and supporters would never actually elect him: and then as it became clear that he might just win, that Jeremy Corbyn could be Leader of the Opposition in September, Mensch and the Telegraph appear to be as one on this one thing: Corbyn must be stopped.

On Thursday 13th August, a follower responding to Louise Mensch’s tweet “Christ on a bike. Antisemites for Corbyn” coined the first use of the hashtag #antisemitesforcorbyn. (In the same tweet, he also coined #inbredforcorbyn and #thickasminceforcorbyn.)

Louise Mensch didn’t immediately pick up on this hashtag. Nobody did.
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Filed under Equality, Politics, Religion

Smearing by Mensch, 1

Louise Mensch on TwitterLast Friday night, Louise Mensch – former Tory MP, former novelist, currently a columnist for Rupert Murdoch (she took the trouble to praise Murdoch highly when she was an MP and the Murdochs were being investigated by Parliament for phone-hacking) – came unstuck in her hashtag-related attempt to smear Jeremy Corbyn when she confused Twitter’s autocomplete function with Google’s autocomplete function.

Google’s autocomplete function, while targeted towards you based on your location and search history, gives you an idea of what other people are searching on.

Louise Mensch discovers her own search historyTwitter’s autocomplete function simply remembers your own previous searches. Louise Mensch had been searching Twitter for references to Liz Kendall (@LizForLeader) combined with “zionist”, “nazi”, “jewish”, “jews”.

When Mensch noticed this coming up in her Twitter autocomplete, she concluded the only reason someone would be doing this kind of search was because they were an anti-Semitic supporter of Jeremy Corbyn. She therefore screenshotted this and posted it on Twitter – to have it pointed out to her that she was condemning her own search history as a “sewer”.
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Filed under Equality, Racism, Religion

Susan Rae: Leith Walk and Hawick Riding

Susan Rae Leith WalkComfy in Susan Rae’s tiny sitting-room, in her flat at the top of Shrubhill, with a cup of tea, I ask her “So why did you move to Edinburgh from the Borders?” I knew she’d moved here seven years ago.

An American once told me, exasperated, “When I ask why you guys always say ‘Well, four hundred years ago – ‘”

This is of course quite untrue. Sometimes, it’s five hundred years ago.
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Filed under Elections, Historic Scotland, Politics, Scottish Politics, Women