openDemocracy https://www.opendemocracy.net/ en Apply for a 50.50 feminist investigative journalism fellowship https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/apply-for-5050-feminist-investigative-journalism-fellowship <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>We need your help to track the backlash against sexual and reproductive rights. Apply for 50.50's inaugural feminist investigative journalism fellowships.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/tracking backlash_0.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/tracking backlash_0.png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="311" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span>We need your help to track the backlash against sexual and reproductive rights. Apply for 50.50's inaugural feminist investigative journalism fellowships.</p><p dir="ltr">50.50 is the section of the independent media platform openDemocracy.net covering women's rights, gender and sexuality. We are looking for two part-time feminist investigative journalism fellows to work with editors <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/claire-provost-lara-whyte/tracking-the-backlash">Claire Provost and Lara Whyte</a> on in-depth and investigative reports for the series&nbsp;<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/tracking-backlash">tracking the backlash against sexual and reproductive rights</a>.</p><p dir="ltr">Fellowships will run for three months, and can begin in March or June 2018. Each fellow will be expected to work with editors on 2-3 reports, and to prepare for and attend weekly (virtual) editorial meetings. Fellows will be paid per story – up to £330 ($450) per report. They will also receive ongoing mentorship and practical training. Workshops will be arranged, where possible, on specific topics such as Freedom of Information requests, interview skills, and feature writing, depending on projects and fellows' needs.</p><p dir="ltr">Fellows may be based anywhere in the world. Previous experience in journalism, research, and multimedia storytelling is welcome. Most importantly, you are a creative, critical thinker and collaborative team player. We're looking for young women and trans writers, from anywhere in the world, with ideas and enthusiasm for original, feminist investigative journalism. Applicants between the ages of 20 and 30 years old, living in sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America, are particularly encouraged to apply.&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">These are not full-time positions, and can run alongside other responsibilities. They may suit freelancers or researchers wishing to pivot towards investigations. You should be able to dedicate approximately 7-8 hours to this fellowship each week. You must be comfortable researching and writing in English (with other language skills of course welcome). You must have reliable internet access and be able to join virtual meetings (for example via Skype).</p><h2><a href="https://opendemocracy60862.recruiterbox.com/jobs/fk0f8jx">Complete your application online</a> by 15 February 2018. </h2><p>Email <a href="lara.whyte@opendemocracy.net ">lara.whyte@opendemocracy.net </a>with any questions, including “feminist investigative journalism fellowship” in the subject line.</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="/5050/claire-provost-lara-whyte/tracking-the-backlash">Tracking the backlash: why we&#039;re investigating the &#039;anti-rights&#039; opposition</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/write-for-opendemocracy-5050">Pitch your story to 50.50</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/claire-provost/support-independent-feminist-media">Support independent feminist media</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 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 Women's rights and the media Tracking the backlash women's movements women and power feminism 50.50 newsletter women's work young feminists Lara Whyte Claire Provost Wed, 17 Jan 2018 10:39:50 +0000 Claire Provost and Lara Whyte 114855 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Operations Manager https://www.opendemocracy.net/opendemocracy/operations-coordinator <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>We are looking for an experienced Operations Manager to ensure the smooth running of the openDemocracy office and play a key role in developing our systems and processes at a pivotal moment.</p> </div> </div> </div> <h2><strong><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/558532/2_1.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/558532/2_1.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="229" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></strong></h2><p><strong>Hours:</strong><span>&nbsp;28-35 hours a week</span><br /><strong>Pay:</strong><span>&nbsp;Up to £30,000 per annum (pro-rata)</span><br /><strong>Contract:</strong><span>&nbsp;Permanent</span><br /><strong>Location:</strong><span>&nbsp;London office</span><br /><strong>Application deadline:</strong><span>&nbsp;Sunday 21st January 2018</span></p><h2><strong>About openDemocracy</strong></h2> <p>openDemocracy (established in 2001) is a global, non-profit media platform that seeks to challenge power and inspire change through tenacious reporting, thoughtful analysis and democratic debate. We run <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/dup-dark-money">deep investigations</a>; we partner with <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/protest">NGOs</a>, think tanks, <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/openmovements">activists and academics</a> across the world; and we have an <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/node/add/submission">open submissions policy</a> committed to diversity of voice and perspective. We publish in <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/od-russia">Russian</a>, <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/north-africa-west-asia">Arabic</a>, <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/democraciaabierta">Spanish and Portuguese</a> as well as English, with an ambition to bring on more languages. We also partner on <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/wfd">major global conferences</a>, and occasionally run specialist <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/teamsyntegrity">on-the-ground events</a> ourselves, bringing together innovative activists and thinkers from across the globe to try and solve some of the world’s most entrenched problems.</p> <h2><strong>The role</strong></h2> <p>We are a small, dynamic and growing organisation with big ambitions and the Operations Manager role, which sits at the heart of openDemocracy’s operations team, will be key in ensuring the smooth running of the openDemocracy office and building the foundations for the future.</p> <p>Supporting the Head of Operations &amp; Finance, Managing Editor and Finance Manager you will be responsible for developing and maintaining systems and processes that will enable our brilliant journalists and editors to focus on openDemocracy’s mission. You will have proven experience in operations / administrative / project support roles and be highly organised with the ability to maintain a detailed overview of all aspects of a varied workload.</p> <p>This is a challenging and exciting time to be here, and we are looking for someone who will share our excitement, and will approach the role with confidence, spirit and enthusiasm.&nbsp;</p> <p>The key responsibilities of the role are:</p> <ul><li><strong>Office management &amp; administration </strong>– ensuring the smooth running of the openDemocracy office by establishing and maintaining effective systems and processes.</li><li><strong>HR</strong> <strong>&amp; Training</strong> – supporting oD’s brilliant staff by developing and managing HR systems and processes including recruitment and induction; organising staff training and reviewing and updating training guides.</li><li><strong>Project support</strong> – supporting the Managing Editor in the development of project management systems and processes and the administration of main site projects and grants.</li><li><strong>Financial administration </strong>– supporting the Finance Manager in maintaining and updating financial systems and processing payments.&nbsp;</li></ul> <p>For more details, <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/files/FINAL Operations Manager JD.pdf">click here</a> to see the job description and person specification.&nbsp;</p> <h2><strong><span>How to apply</span></strong></h2> <p>Candidates must be able to demonstrate the skills, knowledge and experience detailed in the person specification section of the<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/files/FINAL Operations Manager JD.pdf"> job description</a>.</p> <p>To apply please <a href="https://opendemocracy60862.recruiterbox.com/jobs/fk0fico">click here</a> to submit your CV and a letter outlining how you fit the criteria for the role as detailed in the <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/files/FINAL Operations Manager JD.pdf">job description</a>. Please also include details of two referees (we will request permission before contacting any referees) and whether you are applying for the role on full-time, part-time or flexible basis.</p> <p><strong>Application deadline</strong>: Sunday 21st&nbsp;January 2018 with interviews likely to be the week commencing 29th&nbsp;January 2018.</p> <p><strong><em>We particularly encourage those from groups who tend to be under-represented in the media to apply. We are also open to family-friendly working hours, and/or to accommodating other caring responsibilities.</em></strong></p><div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Opportunities at openDemocracy openDemocracy Thu, 21 Dec 2017 16:13:14 +0000 openDemocracy 115454 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Hope for Russia’s hopeless elections https://www.opendemocracy.net/od-russia/andrey-kalikh/hope-for-russias-hopeless-elections <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>“I’m not participating in this shit” could become the main political slogan at Russia’s upcoming presidential elections. <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/od-russia/andrei-kalikh/nadezhda-na-beznadezhnye-vybory" target="_self"><em><strong>RU</strong></em></a></p> </div> </div> </div> <p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none_left caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/564053/jal9ih29_3_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/564053/jal9ih29_3_0.jpg" alt="" 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'>Source: cikrf.ru</span></span></span>For the first time ever, it seems Russian society is consolidating ahead of presidential elections not out of desire for victory, but because none of the alternative candidates have a chance at winning&nbsp;— and thus, no chance for real change. In conditions of deep political apathy, when people say to one another “this is going to last for another six years” and there’s no chance to stop “this”, more and more active citizens in Russia find comfort arguing about how not to vote, rather than who to vote for. </p><p dir="ltr">The idea of boycotting the elections isn’t new. It has always made me feel awkward — just like anything that’s overly emotional or unrealistic. But in light of the effective campaign carried out by Alexey Navalny, and the Central Election Commission’s <a href="https://meduza.io/en/feature/2017/12/25/i-don-t-like-the-central-election-commission">refusal</a> to register him as a candidate, the opposition politician’s <a href="https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2017/12/25/russias-navalny-calls-election-boycott-officials-ban-him-running/980805001/">old call to action</a> began to look different. The rather widespread support for the boycott from an increasingly large circle of activists, politicians and political analysts was unexpected.</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">Elections in Russia are a rare time when opposition-minded citizens can state their position loudly — and not only on the street</p><p dir="ltr">In terms of its effectiveness, a boycott is a desperate measure. But elections in Russia are a rare time when opposition-minded citizens can state their position loudly — and not only on the street. A political boycott supposes a broad coalition made up of very different social groups (perhaps we’re <a href="https://www.idelreal.org/a/28953134.html">witnessing the creation of it right now</a>). On one side of the barricades, there’s the forces who unite around Navalny’s call (and not necessarily around Navalny himself). And on the other side, there’s the party of power, as well as the liberal party Yabloko and <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/od-russia/yulia-taratuta/whats-wrong-with-ksenia-sobchaks-campaign">Ksenia Sobchak</a>, who have joined it. </p><p dir="ltr">Sobchak has already made her message to supporters of Navalny clear: when your leader isn’t registered for the elections, I will represent your interests (i.e. vote for me). Yabloko’s position is even simpler: boycotting the elections (i.e. not voting for Grigory Yavlinsky, the party’s leader) is a criminally negligent choice to stay at home. After all, you won’t get any changes like this (I note that this party, which is calling on people to vote this March, is led by a man who plans to lose the presidential elections for the fourth time in a row).</p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none_left caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/564053/800px-FEV_6460_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/564053/800px-FEV_6460_0.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Alexei Navalny, Russian opposition leader, at Central Election Commission's session which is about to deny his right to be in the ballot on the upcoming presidential elections. Photo CC BY-SA 4.0: Evgeny Feldman / Wiki Commons. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span>We can see an attempt at clouding the meaning of a boycott in Yabloko’s position. After all, a boycott is an active position — especially in contrast to not voting (which does, in fact, mean sitting at home on the couch). Indeed, Navalny calls for an active boycott (<a href="https://navalny.com/p/5686/">“Don’t vote! Agitate against it! Be an election observer!”</a>). And I get the feeling that, given the hopeless nature of the coming elections, Yabloko take no less joy in Navalny’s non-registration than the party of power (if United Russia does actually feel something apart from indifference). For Yavlinsky, supporting the voters’ strike means supporting Navalny, as well as reducing the turnout from Russia’s protest electorate — a prospect that Yabloko can’t reconcile itself with. </p><p dir="ltr">And here, of course, there’s moral questions for my colleagues from the united democratic camp of Yabloko/Sobchak to answer. On paper, they demand an end to Putinism, but in practice they not only fail to show solidarity with the strongest anti-Putin candidate who hasn’t been permitted to participate in the elections (Navalny), but are even happy about it. Which, on the one hand, you can understand (less rivals means less competition), but this will not lead towards the stated goal (an end to Russia’s authoritarian regime). </p><p dir="ltr">To my mind, Alexander Morozov has <a href="https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=10210698076432526&amp;id=1367268883">described</a> this situation the best:</p><p class="blockquote-new" dir="ltr">“You have to be ‘naive in the bad sense’ to go and vote for anyone other than the so-called ‘opposition candidate’ in a situation where the Kremlin demonstratively, and without hiding the political nature of the decision, removed a prominent opposition candidate (neither his name, nor his programme matter), thus clearly revealing the fact that these are NOT ELECTIONS AT ALL.”</p><p dir="ltr">In this situation, the most ethical decision (and therefore most pragmatic, according to Andrey Sakharov) for Ksenia Sobchak or Grigory Yavlinsky would be to withdraw their candidacies in protest against the non-registration of Navalny and these elections without choice. </p><p dir="ltr">Unfortunately, we all know that this is impossible. Mass protest and an electoral strike will become Russian citizens’ only response to these hopeless elections. </p><p dir="ltr">&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="/od-russia/andrey-kalikh/russias-ngo-policies">Toxic cash: the risks of Russia’s “sovereign civil society” programme</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/od-russia/yulia-taratuta/whats-wrong-with-ksenia-sobchaks-campaign">What’s wrong with Ksenia Sobchak’s campaign to be Russian president</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/od-russia/ilya-budraitskis/alexei-navalnys-campaign-effective-management-or-grassroots-movement">Alexei Navalny&#039;s campaign: effective management or grassroots movement?</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 4.0 </div> </div> </div> oD Russia oD Russia Andrey Kalikh Russia Thu, 18 Jan 2018 22:34:13 +0000 Andrey Kalikh 115703 at https://www.opendemocracy.net A renewed Poor People’s Campaign revives King’s dream of challenging class divides https://www.opendemocracy.net/transformation/sarah-freeman-woolpert/renewed-poor-people-s-campaign-revives-king-s-dream-of-challen <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Can a new fusion of movements reignite the search for freedom and equality in America?</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><em>This article was first published on <a href="https://wagingnonviolence.org/feature/poor-peoples-campaign-revives-king-dream-challenging-class-divide/">Waging Nonviolence</a>.</em></p><p><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/SaraFreemanWolpert.jpeg" alt="" width="460" /></p> <p class="image-caption">Rev. William J. Barber speaks to the crowd gathered at Pullen Baptist Memorial Church in Raleigh, North Carolina on New Years Eve 2017. Credit: WNV/David Freeman.</p> <p>The air in Raleigh, North Carolina was bitterly cold on New Years Eve, but the chill did not stop hundreds of people from gathering for a mass community meeting at the Pullen Baptist Memorial Church. Inside, the band was warming up on stage and friends called out greetings to each other as they went into the main hall.</p> <p>A group of Raging Grannies filled a pew at the front, wearing floppy hats adorned with activist badges. Locals from North Carolina greeted activists who had traveled from around the country to attend. Some of them had recently been arrested together for protesting the tax bill on Capitol Hill.</p> <p>As speakers began addressing the audience, people in the crowd linked arms and audience members flocked on stage to sing “We Shall Overcome” and chant “Forward together! Not one step back!” Together, the crowd assembled in Pullen rang in 2018 with a commitment for the coming year: to lead a nationwide campaign to save the “heart and soul” of American democracy.</p> <p>Officially titled “The Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival,” the campaign’s objective is to train a massive network of grassroots activists to spark a multi-fronted movement challenging four systemic “evils” in American society: poverty, racism, ecological devastation and the war economy.</p> <p>One of the key faces of the campaign, former North Carolina NAACP President Rev. William J. Barber, delivered a fiery speech to those gathered in the church on New Years Eve. His voice boomed through the congregation, calling on everyone to “speak truth to power and love to hate in the name of God and all that is holy.”</p> <p>“What we face is not new,” Barber then told the cheering crowd. “But when you get scared, remember the folks in power are scared too. They’re having nightmares!”</p> <p>Barber read biblical passages in which the marginalized citizenry—the so-called “stones the builder rejected”—rise up together to face the “wolves”—or politicians—to save their society. In doing so, he added, sometimes they even “save some of the wolves.”</p> <p>A towering, imposing figure, Barber has been described by activist and professor Cornel West as a modern-day Martin Luther King, Jr. It is easy to draw the parallel, as the Poor People’s Campaign itself is named after an initiative King announced months before his assassination. The campaign is considered an unfinished part of his legacy — a movement seeking to unify people across racial lines around the shared poverty and structural inequalities they experience.</p> <p>The formal launch of the contemporary Poor People’s Campaign was held exactly 50 years after King announced the campaign in 1967 and is gearing up to be the largest nonviolent mobilization in the United States this year. Building on years of organizing within the state of North Carolina, leaders of the Poor People’s Campaign will spend the next five months training, educating and mobilizing communities around the country. Then, on Mother’s Day, the campaign will begin 40 days of widespread civil disobedience, nonviolent direct action and voter education.</p> <p>The movement aims to draw in labor unions, farm workers, civil rights groups and marginalized communities from around the country, focusing each week on a specific issue of injustice. Each week will include specific policy demands and voter education programs at the state and federal levels, as well as training in nonviolent direct action and civil disobedience. By organizing through local and state chapters, the campaign will maintain a relatively decentralized structure guided by a set of core principles and targets.</p> <p><strong>Reviving King’s dream of challenging class divides.</strong></p> <p>One of the major strengths of the Poor People’s Campaign is its potential to appeal to Americans across party lines. It aims to unite the grievances of the marginalized white working class with marginalized communities of immigrants and people of color throughout the country. Barber says this division has kept poor whites and people of color from coming together in common cause for generations. Organizers of the campaign promote a narrative that reaches out to rural or working-class whites—a discourse often employed by politicians on the right, while also emphasizing opposition to sexism, homophobia and racism that are more traditionally territory of the left.</p> <p>North Carolina activist Tony Quartararo explained his support for the movement in terms of its unifying potential, saying, “[Trump] used xenophobia to play poor whites off against poor black and brown and Muslim people. That’s what the 1 percent has always done, played the 99 percent off against each other and allowed themselves to stay in power.”</p> <p>Quartararo and his wife Elena Ceberio said they are willing to be involved in supporting the campaign in any way, and have both already been arrested for civil disobedience actions with Barber and others. They say they prefer to stay “in the background” and out of the spotlight, and they enthusiastically promote the movement within their social circle. This year, for example, the couple’s Christmas card featured a photograph of themselves with their son, all clad in black Poor People’s Campaign T-shirts, with a message asking their friends to lend their support. King’s dream was “to bring everybody together,” Quartararo said, and he hopes to draw in people from all walks of life to participate.</p> <p>References to King are frequent among national and state-level campaign leaders, and much of the movement’s popular legitimacy draws on this connection. The original Poor People’s Campaign, spearheaded by King and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, sought to bring together people living in poverty across the country in a new March on Washington. The march was intended to pressure Congress and the Johnson administration to pass comprehensive anti-poverty legislation, as well as demand jobs, healthcare and affordable housing. Unlike previous campaigns to fight for the civil rights and voting rights of African Americans, the Poor People’s Campaign addressed issues affecting poor people of all races.</p> <p>In April 1968, just weeks before the march was scheduled to take place, King was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee. Rev. Ralph Abernathy was put in charge of organizing the march in his place, along with a group of other civil rights leaders, such as Rev. Jesse Jackson. The march began on Mother’s Day, May 12, 1968, when Coretta Scott King began a two-week-long protest demanding an Economic Bill of Rights. Five thousand protesters descended on the National Mall during the campaign’s first week and built a protest camp called “Resurrection City.” But the encampment was plagued by ceaseless rain, and its inhabitants were ultimately expelled in the middle of the night on June 20. As a result, the campaign has since been considered an unrealized part of King’s dream.</p> <p>Today, the Poor People’s Campaign aims not only to revive this decades-old dream, but also to reenergize many of the activists who were engaged in the anti-war and civil rights movements in the 1960s and ‘70s. David Freeman, who dropped out of high school to join the Poor People’s Campaign in 1968, has played an active role in other Barber-led campaigns. “I know of no organization, past or present, which engenders the same passion and commitment over as broad a coalition as [the Poor People’s Campaign],” Freeman said.</p> <p>The campaign also represents a second chance for those who played a less active role in social justice struggles of that era. At 78 years old, Fran Schindler laments “missing her chance” to participate in the social movements of the 1960s, having spent those years raising small children. But after attending the Women’s March in Washington, D.C., she felt the time had come to take a stand. “It was an awakening, if you want to call it that,” Schindler said. “It wasn’t my time to do it back then, when I wanted to be doing it so much and felt I was being left out. But now’s my time.”</p> <p>Having had a double mastectomy, Schindler has gone to protests with slogans like “This is what a preexisting condition looks like” painted across her chest. After the inauguration, she said she was grateful to find a way to “let it out” by “going topless and screaming” at the top of her lungs. “I’ve got some feminist stuff in me,” she laughed. “Just because a woman’s got no breasts does not mean she is any less of a woman.”</p> <p><strong>Roots in North Carolina’s progressive resistance.</strong></p> <p>Supporters like Schindler, Quartararo and Ceberio learned about the Poor People’s Campaign through a series of actions in North Carolina targeting reforms on the state level, which had been organized by Barber and other progressive groups around the state. After the Republicans won a majority in North Carolina’s state legislature in 2010 and the governorship in 2012, Barber launched the Moral Mondays movement in April 2013. He led protests bearing “moral witness” to the state legislature’s far-right agenda, which included attacks on health care, women’s rights, LGBTQ rights and voting rights throughout the state.</p> <p>The movement gained momentum when 17 people were arrested at the first Moral Monday demonstration in the summer of 2013. Within months, there had been over a thousand arrests, sparking more actions throughout North Carolina. These included the “Tuesdays with Tillis” demonstrations outside Sen. Thom Tillis’ office in Raleigh and the “Air Horn Orchestra” demonstrations every Wednesday outside Gov. Pat McCrory’s mansion, protesting issues like gerrymandering and environmental degradation.</p> <p>Barber became a leading figure of progressive resistance in the North Carolina NAACP, the organization’s second largest state chapter, while serving as its president for 11 years. Barber stepped down in May 2017 to join Presbyterian Rev. Liz Theoharis in co-chairing the Poor People’s Campaign. Theoharis runs the New York-based Kairos Center for Religions, Rights, and Social Justice and is the founder of the Poverty Initiative. Although Theoharis often speaks at mass meetings and Poor People’s Campaign events, she is less visible in the public spotlight than Barber, who was more involved in state-level organizing in the years leading up to the campaign launch.</p> <p>Barber is also known for his role as head of the non-profit organization Repairers of the Breach and for leading the “Forward Together” movement, which began organizing the annual Moral March to the Raleigh statehouse every February, also known as the Historic Thousands on Jones Street, or HKonJ. The march is put on by the HKonJ People’s Assembly Coalition, a group comprised of over 125 North Carolina NAACP branches, youth councils and college chapters, as well as representatives from over 200 other social justice organizations. The march has produced some of the largest civil rights gatherings in the South since Selma and Birmingham, and will take place again this February.</p> <p><strong>A fusion of movements.</strong></p> <p>One of the campaign’s strengths, aside from a strong foundation in grassroots organizing, is its aim to draw together many smaller organizations and campaigns into what Barber calls a “fusion of movements.” Back in 2014, in the early planning stages of the campaign, over a hundred leaders from more than 40 organizations began holding strategic dialogues to plan the Poor People’s Campaign, and it has been seen as broadly encompassing many other movements ever since.</p> <p>The campaign has so far succeeded in drawing in many smaller groups, like the Pennsylvania-based March on Harrisburg. Community organizer and march leader Kyle Moore was inspired to join the coordinating committee for the Pennsylvania state chapter of the Poor People’s Campaign after he was arrested with Barber in July. Moore was a key organizer of the March on Harrisburg, a group that held a 105-mile march from Philadelphia to the Pennsylvania state legislature in Harrisburg in May 2017. The same group was also arrested in November, when they dressed up as the “Where’s Waldo” character to make the point that it is easier to find Waldo than elected officials. They were also drawing attention to issues of gerrymandering, voter suppression and political corruption at the state level.</p> <p>&nbsp;“What we did with the March on Harrisburg is very similar to what the Poor People’s Campaign is doing,” Moore said. “If you don’t have voting rights, you’re going to have people in office voting for things that a majority of people don’t support.”</p> <p>The Pennsylvania Coordinating Committee will be organizing state-wide “barnstorming” efforts with the Pennsylvania chapter from January until March, hosting trainings in Unitarian Universalist churches on citizen lobbying and civil disobedience. Moore, who is also a trained civil rights historian, said he became passionate about the campaign after watching Barber speak to thousands of people at a church in New York City. “He’s so much like Martin Luther King, Jr.,” Moore said. “My feet started dancing a little bit. The way he talks is like a rhythm, it’s like a prophet. You’re willing to follow him down any road that could restore democracy in this country.”</p> <p>While the campaign is garnering substantial enthusiasm in local and state chapters, as well as painting a compelling narrative of unity among marginalized and disenfranchised groups in America, many hurdles remain. Organizers will be pressed to forge a movement among diverse interest groups, develop a clear strategy with attainable goals, and maintain the enthusiasm of early supporters while also drawing in new participants. What’s more, they face the same problem as the original Poor People’s Campaign: having a single charismatic leader as the face of the movement. If such figures become unable to lead, as we have seen, the campaign can lose momentum and direction.</p> <p>Nevertheless, the Poor People’s Campaign has already laid the groundwork for major mobilizations in 2018, drawing in numerous stakeholders and whipping up a frenzy of enthusiasm from supporters across the country. “Yes, we need to keep checking ourselves critically, to improve outreach to youth,” Freeman said. “But all progressive organizations are struggling with these issues. The Poor People’s Campaign is the most hopeful, most powerful coalition we have going. Nothing compares to it in breadth.”</p> <p>For now, Barber’s leadership remains a strong asset for inspiring dedicated participants and drawing the campaign into the national spotlight. As Schindler boldly declared, “I am definitely throwing what’s left of me in with his mission. Wherever he goes, I will follow him.”</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="/transformation/mary-mountcastle/moral-mondays-new-face-of-protest">Moral Mondays: the new face of protest? </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/transformation/sarah-freeman-woolpert/why-are-nazis-so-afraid-of-clowns">Why are Nazis so afraid of clowns?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/transformation/michael-edwards/welcome-to-transformation-0">Welcome to Transformation </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 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Transformation Transformation Sarah Freeman-Woolpert Transformative nonviolence Activism Thu, 18 Jan 2018 21:33:41 +0000 Sarah Freeman-Woolpert 115610 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Anti-feminism and anti-gender far right politics in Europe and beyond https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/angela-mcrobbie/anti-feminism-and-anti-gender-far-right-politics-in-europe-and-be <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The proclaimed support of the EU for gender equality is seen as one element in a wider programme of colonization, whereby what was once Marxism is now replaced by gender politics. Book review.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-25352534.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-25352534.jpg" alt="lead " title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Christiane Taubira when she was French Justice Minister in 2013. Bernard-Salinier/ Press Association. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>The rise, over the last two decades, of the neo-nationalist, populist right is now a well-established fact across the political landscape. But the precise permutations taken and modes of organisation and affiliations on specific issues such as anti-LGBTQ rights, which many of these groups have pursued, is often less well-known. Two recent books, one by Bruno Perreau titled <em><a href="http://www.sup.org/books/title/?id=27481">Queer Theory: The French Response </a>(2016 Stanford)</em> and the other edited by David Paternotte and Roman Kuhar titled <em><a href="https://www.rowmaninternational.com/book/antigender_campaigns_in_europe/3-156-7734fc12-00e3-47fc-8478-05897740ac19">Anti-Gender Campaigns in Europe</a>,</em> (<em>Rowman and Littlefield</em> 2017) make significant inroads in filling this gap, each of them focusing on Europe, and in particular on questions of sexuality and gender. </p> <h2><strong>‘Natural order’</strong></h2> <p>It transpires that campaigns against civil unions, same-sex marriage and full parenting rights to LGBTQ people were initiated largely from within the Roman Catholic church dating back to the late 1990s. There is a good deal of traffic between lay conservative Catholic campaigners, members of Opus Dei, as well as clerics, who acted as intermediaries bringing to the attention of Vatican scholars, developments from feminism and subsequently queer theory, each of which are perceived as threats to the family and the ‘natural order’. </p> <p>Over the space of a few years feminism and queer theory has come to be subsumed by the term ‘gender theory’ which is then demonised as a ‘totalitarian’ force, for its attempts to undermine the differences between men and women and the sanctity of ‘holy matrimony’ as the only rightful institution for the bringing up of children. </p> <p>This invocation of the spectre of Stalinism is clearly a deliberate ploy to instil fear of the return of communism. Paradoxically, ‘gender ideology’ is seen as both American in its endorsement of communities of difference, and state-authoritarian (suggestive of East European socialism) in its attempts to impose a whole new coercive social order. This activity is most pronounced in France, as Perreau demonstrates. Here it finds fertile ground among right wing thinkers and writers, but also from some on the left. Well-known feminist writers like Sylviane Agacinski (married to the former Prime Minister Lionel Jospin) join this chorus of denunciation, characterising gender theory as something ‘monstrous’ emanating from American universities and threatening the very fabric of French society. </p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-1565629.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-1565629.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Lionel Jospin and Sylviane Agacinski on holiday in 2001. ABACA/ Press Association. All rights reserved. </span></span></span>The attacks on the French <em>Marriage for All</em> Bill of 2013 presented by the then Minister of Justice Christiane Taubira, came first from Catholic campaigners including clergy and intellectuals and writers, but soon spread to various far right groups. </p><p>This culminated in the shockingly racist attacks by <em>Manif Pour Tous</em> on Christiane Taubira, a woman of French Guianaian origin, with posters depicting her ‘as a half-human half-Godzilla figure, a monstrous emblem of the destruction of the French family’ (Perreau p 60). </p> <p>Still, it is the machinations of the Holy See that underscore these activities. Various lay activists, writing in their Catholic blogs, claimed to have the ear of the Holy Father and especially that of the theologian and philosopher Joseph Ratzinger both before and after he became Pope Benedict XVI. Perreau traces the pathways of such figures as they provide their own take on queer theory, as the American Opus Dei member and writer Dale O’Leary who lampoons it in her book <em>The Gender Agenda.</em> Advocating gender identity, according to O’Leary is comparable to choosing one’s daily wardrobe and make up, a maliciously profound mis-reading of Butler’s influential <em>Gender Trouble</em> of 1990. Perreau says that these tracts by O’Leary and others were purportedly made available to the Pope, who, along with his Cura, in turn produced a number of philosophical responses, all published and widely distributed. </p> <p>The Vatican, from Pope Benedict XVI to the current Pope Francis goes to great lengths to hold at bay this idea of gender equality which they see as sweeping Europe and well beyond, undermining ideas of ‘human ecology’ which have preserved the anthropological nuclear family over the centuries. If feminism, from the late 1960s onwards, disturbs this idyll of happy family life by supporting divorce, birth control and rights to abortion, these more recent activities culminate, as the Cura sees it, in LGBTQ people assuming equal rights to those of the heterosexual majority, and in the dissolution of sexual difference. </p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-2336069.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-2336069.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger elected as new Pope in 2005. Zabulon Laurent/ Press Association. All rights reserved. </span></span></span>Perreau traces activities which connect upper middle-class Opus Dei Catholics with members of the Front Nationale and various other far right organisations including the fascistic <em>Bloc Identitaire</em>. At the heart of these mobilisations is <em>Manif Pour Tous</em> which borrows a good deal of its tactics from the left, including street demonstrations with silent marches and street pray-ins. These groups are constantly monitoring changes in French life, for example, lessons on gender equality in the school system which they see as eating away at the fabric of French life, in much the same way as they blame feminism for destroying romance.&nbsp; </p><h2><strong>A class dimension</strong></h2> <p>Bruno Perreau has done a remarkable job in order to make the case that the nation itself was perceived as under threat by LGBTQ activists. He alludes to the fact that single women in France are not permitted access to IVF, thus showing the entire field of sexuality to be indisputably the prerogative of the heterosexual nuclear family. </p> <p>He also argues that a great deal of effort was made within these political circles in France, from the mainstream to the margins, to ensure that granting LGBTQ rights of marriage did not fundamentally disturb the seemingly harmonious and God-given union of family and nation state. Even the majority of feminists and supporters of the Socialist Party in France seem to have fallen into line with this deeply conservative stance. </p> <p>It goes without saying that the hundreds of thousands of people in France, especially of immigrant background, whose family lives for various reasons diverge from this pathway must then be envisaged as failed, and stigmatised as such. </p> <p>Likewise women without a partner and hoping nevertheless to be able to become a mother are forced to look outside France for IVF. They too must experience condemnation and condescension as single mothers. </p> <p>Inevitably there is a class as well as a racial dimension, since poverty and unemployment often make the nuclear family an unfulfillable reality for so many. Overall Perreau shows how antiquated fears of a gay conspiracy combined with fascination for this still ‘deviant’ sexuality, linger deep within the psyche of the white French political classes. And where the RC church heartlessly still disapproves of adoption for the reason that it ‘condones adulterous behaviour’ we can see why Perreau and the activist groups such as <em>Les Tordues</em> who in the context of these neo-nationalist upsurges have struggled for the full range of LGBTQ rights, feel the urgent need for a community of belonging.&nbsp; </p> <h2><strong>French and German common-sense</strong></h2> <p>In <em>Anti-Genderism Campaigns in Europe</em>, Paula-Irene Villa provides the most succinct account of what is now frequently referred to in Germany <em>as anti-genderismus</em>. This has a different lineage, and is less orchestrated by the Catholic church. &nbsp;Instead it emerges more directly from the mainstream as well as the populist right, but also from within the ranks of academia, and finds ample grounds across the German media, from quality press such as <em>Die Zeit</em> to feminist magazines such as <em>Emma.</em> This campaign works by appealing to the common-sense of the nation against what is claimed to be the extremes of ‘gender ideology’. </p> <p>What Paula-Irene Villa understands as ‘post-essentialist’ definitions of gender as ‘not determined by nature’ but rather by ‘complex socially instituted’ differences, has led to both outrage and ridicule, and within the university system to claims that gender research is not scientific. </p> <p>Although well-known German feminists such as the journalist Alice Schwarzer, founding editor and owner of Emma magazine, have controversially joined this <em>anti-genderismus</em> chorus, there is at the same time a deep connection between anti-feminism and the anti-LGBTQ campaigns. </p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-22738609.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-22738609.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>TV host with guests including Alice Schwarz, second left, on TV talk show on the topic 'Sexual variety: Man, woman, whatever?', April, 2015. Horst Galuschka/ Press Association. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>The informal and deeply conservative settlement reached in what was then west-Germany from the late 70s in response to feminist demands for equal access to labour markets, was to make a full professional working life more or less antipathetic to having children. Lack of quality child care and the school day finishing at 13.30 required costly and elaborate arrangements, again a clear disincentive to women to the point that being a feminist and /or lesbian meant in effect not being a mother. </p><p>Post re-unification the right and its allies in the press and on TV easily invoke the spectre of ‘forced labour’ and of the GDR working women into the ground, in order to promote the ideal of the stay-at-home mother (as does incidentally the well-known Marxist sociologist Wolfgang Streeck). </p> <h2><strong>Honest speaking out</strong></h2> <p>There are various other voices who join this cacophony of outrage including for example many with grievances against the feminist left such as the journalist Bettina Rohl, daughter of Ulrike Meinhof. Rohl’s right wing stance leads her to blame the EU as over-interventionist especially in regard to its ‘gender mainstreaming’ policies. </p> <p>Villa reports how after decades of feminism still the image of the working mother is routinely disapproved of. ‘For many Germans, working mothers do not therefore embody an appropriate social model’. This kind of public discourse finds wide readerships and audiences by affecting a simultaneously heroic and purportedly honest stance, one that suggests the author is daring to speak out, (echoing Trump when he declares that he tweets what others think but dare not say). </p> <p>Across many other member states, the EU is blamed for endorsing this ‘gender agenda’ to the detriment of traditional family life. Indeed the proclaimed support of the EU for gender equality is seen as one element in a wider programme of colonization whereby what was once Marxism is now replaced by gender politics. </p> <p>This again reflects increasingly evangelical Vatican fears about losing its grip amongst Catholics across the world, especially the young. In Italy it is reported that parents are encouraged to phone an anti-gender helpline to report ‘indoctrination’ of their children at school, in what is seen as an ‘anthropological emergency’ even by leading figures from the left. </p> <h2><strong>European sexual politics</strong></h2> <p>Above all, these volumes speak to the dangerous convergences of interests from the RC church, the far right, the neo-fascistic right, to the mainstream parties of the right, while also finding some traction within the left and within strains of liberal feminism. </p> <p>They converge on a specific vocabulary which envisages new feminisms and LGBTQ politics as embodying a profound threat to national culture and to social reproduction. If such alliances and cross-fertilisations have not found the exact same opportunities in the UK, for example, this should neither blind us to the distinctive contours which anti-feminist hostility and anti-LGBTQ opposition take, nor should it permit any basking in some badly-needed respite of temporary solace. (I am not immune to grasping onto shards of hope. The need for fantasies of ‘progress’ is sometimes irresistible.) </p> <p>The UK government is less vindictive in the policy environment it has put in place for transmen and women, especially youngsters. A historically more progressive youth and pop culture contribute to a ‘common culture’ which in turn has a more socially mixed audience and readership than in many other parts of Europe.&nbsp; </p> <p>But against this many have pointed out that after the Brexit vote was reported, hate crimes against non-white people, against white east Europeans, and against LGBTQ people rose remarkably. This is undeniably the case. Perhaps one lesson also emerging from these discussions is the added effort needed on the part of British ‘remainers’ to find ways of maintaining full participation in European sexual politics. </p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Two recent books on&nbsp; questions of sexuality and gender:</p><p><br /> <em><a href="http://www.sup.org/books/title/?id=27481">Queer Theory: The French Response</a> (2016 Stanford) by Bruno Perreau</em> <em></em></p><p><em><a href="https://www.rowmaninternational.com/book/antigender_campaigns_in_europe/3-156-7734fc12-00e3-47fc-8478-05897740ac19">Anti-Gender Campaigns in Europe</a>,</em> (<em>Rowman and Littlefield</em> 2017) edited by David Paternotte and Roman Kuhar </p> </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"> EU </div> <div class="field-item even"> France </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Germany </div> <div class="field-item even"> UK </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"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Culture </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Equality </div> <div class="field-item even"> Ideas </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> <div class="field-item even"> Science </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? UK Germany France EU Civil society Conflict Culture Democracy and government Equality Ideas International politics Science World Forum for Democracy 2017 World Forum for Democracy Angela McRobbie Thu, 18 Jan 2018 14:55:37 +0000 Angela McRobbie 115715 at https://www.opendemocracy.net ISIS and Tunisia-Iran: a deeper link https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/isis-and-tunisia-iran-deeper-link <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The anger and ideals of excluded young people contain a story of the world's disorder.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/558532/PA-34462346.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/558532/PA-34462346.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>"In 2018 the market basket is empty": this man attends a speech by the general secretary of the Tunisian General Labour Union during the Tunisian revolution's 7th anniversary, 2018. Chedly Ben Ibrahim/PA images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>Two recent columns in this <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/author/paul-rogers">series</a> examined ISIS's future after the loss of its caliphate. The group, it was suggested, might in future pursue a threefold course: build on its affiliations with paramilitary groups across the Middle East, north Africa and south Asia; increase its attacks in the “far enemy” countries of the west; and transition towards a new insurgency in Iraq (see "<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/wars-next-phase-isis-plus-expertise">The next war: ISIS plus expertise</a>", 21 December 2017); and "<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/isis-comeback">ISIS: the comeback</a>", 4 January 2018).&nbsp;&nbsp; </p><p>The Iraqi part of this strategy is already well underway. A grim series of attacks in and around Baghdad has taken hundreds of lives in the past year, even during the coalition assaults on Mosul and Raqqa. The latest <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-27838034">hit</a> the capital early in the morning of 15 January, when two suicide-bombers detonated their devices at Tayaran Square where day-labourers gather for work. The results were terrible: at least thirty-five people killed and ninety injured. Some of the <em>Shi’a</em> dead were carried off for burial that day in the holy city of Najaf.&nbsp;&nbsp; </p><p>Such operations confirm that ISIS paramilitaries remain active and are able to strike, including in the heart of Baghdad. In this respect the intense military campaign to dislodge the group from its former <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-27838034">areas</a> of control is double-edged. The United States-led coalition's <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/zeus-complex-against-air-war">aerial </a>pounding inflicted huge damage on Iraqi urban centres, with hardly any sign of reconstruction so far. That risks the further marginalisation of the <em>Sunni</em> minority that contributed to ISIS's rise in the first place. In doing its utmost to encourage that process, ISIS is intent also on <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/17/world/middleeast/iraq-baghdad-isis-bombing.html">targeting</a> districts mainly populated by Iraq's majority <em>Shi’a</em> population. </p><p class="mag-quote-left">Such operations confirm that ISIS paramilitaries remain active and are able to strike, including in the heart of Baghdad.</p><p>If an ISIS <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/irregular-war-and-how-to-reverse-it">insurgency</a> in Iraq continues to sprout from the urban ruins, Donald Trump’s hollow claim that the movement is defeated will look even more boastful. But a more awkward issue is at stake here: namely, whether ISIS is also just a symptom of a much more fundamental problem (see "<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/alqaida-and-global-revolt">Al-Qaida, and a global revolt</a>", 22 May 2014).</p><p>What is clear is that this extraordinary movement has attracted far wider support than most western politicians would dare acknowledge. Within the few years of its existence, many tens of thousands of young people from the Middle East, north Africa, south Asia, and western countries <a href="http://uk.businessinsider.com/how-many-foreign-isis-fighters-have-returned-home-from-the-battlefield-2017-10">went</a> to fight for and otherwise support ISIS in Iraq and Syria. Police and security sources in western Europe have records of over 40,000 people still involved.</p><p>Some may have been prone to violence before their departure, and be&nbsp; attracted by an exciting and dangerous <a href="https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2015/03/what-isis-really-wants/384980/">endeavour</a>. But there is evidence that far more were actually attracted by what they believed to be an ideal – the chance to participate in a new kind of society that might help deliver them from an otherwise bleak future with few prospects. Azadeh Moaveni's perceptive analysis raises this issue, from a perspective that few non-Muslim westerners might grasp (see “<a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/12/opinion/sunday/post-isis-muslim-homeland.html">The Lingering Dream of an Islamic State</a>”, <em>New York Times</em>, 16 January 2018).</p><p>The idea of a "dream" is powerful. Religious-political fusions – often termed “caliphate” – have been prominent features of Islamic societies, some of them long-lasting and sophisticated in their organisation. The Abbasid caliphate <a href="http://www.gifex.com/detail-en/2010-01-01-11553/The-Abbasid-Caliphate-7501258.html">across</a> much of the Middle East for three centuries from 750 CE is a notable example.&nbsp; </p><p>It would be perverse to equate ISIS with what, in its own time, was a world centre of civilisation. That is certainly not Moaveni's point. Rather, she raises the possibility that ISIS's proclamation of a new caliphate struck a deep chord with very large numbers of today's Muslims: not just in autocratic, repressive and elitist Middle East societies, but among disaffected minority diasporas in Britain, France and elsewhere.</p><p>On the ground in Iraq and Syria, brutality and repression were justified as necessary to maintain the caliphate's purity of purpose. But from the outside, it might have been possible to maintain a seductive vision that something much better was being realised – <a href="https://www.newamerica.org/our-people/azadeh-moaveni/">Azadeh Moaveni’s</a> "lingering dream". That view is supported by many of the early returnees to Britain and France, who turned out to be bitterly disappointed at what they had actually found.</p><p>If this theme needs to be explored further, it is also directly relevant to the serious anti-authority public disturbances in <a href="https://www.vox.com/world/2018/1/3/16841310/iran-protests-2018">Iran </a>and <a href="http://www.dw.com/en/fresh-protests-in-tunisia-on-anniversary-of-arab-spring-uprising/a-42142325">Tunisia</a> during the past month. Not, it should be emphasised, because either upsurge is in any way rooted in direct support for the likes of ISIS. In both cases the protests were unorganised and decentralised. Yet underlying common factors helped to spark them.</p><p class="mag-quote-right">There is the possibility that ISIS's proclamation of a new caliphate struck a deep chord with very large numbers of today's Muslims.</p><p>Tunisia, the origin of the <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/libya-bahrain-and-arab-spring">short-lived</a> "Arab spring" in December 2010, has made tortuous progress towards more democratic governance in these seven years. But its pre-existing economic inequalities remain, consigning hundreds of thousands of educated young people to lives with few prospects. Iran is a similarly young country with huge numbers of young people also <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/north-africa-west-asia/ali-vaez/iran-s-protests-time-reform">yearning</a> for a decent life. These are but two examples of many states in the region and beyond where the basic social contours are near identical. Indeed, there are connections here with the anti-austerity sentiment evolving in different directions in wealthy western states (see "<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/tunisia-and-world-roots-of-turmoil">Tunisia and the world: roots of turmoil</a>", 24 January 2011). </p><p>In its own context, ISIS can be seen as a singularly brutal extremist movement led by clever men seeking power in the name of religious belief. That perception makes of the movement an isolated “one-off”: a problem to be crushed and made to disappear by the use of sufficient military force. But adjust the gaze, and ISIS can appear in a different light: namely, as one symptom of a world in serious disarray (see "<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/world-in-trouble-war-drought-food-flight">A world in trouble: drought, war, food, flight</a>", 6 July 2017).</p><p>Many people in the Middle East and beyond are living in an economic and social order which acts against their basic needs and reasonable interests. That makes for an uncomfortably direct link between ISIS, Tunisia and Iran. Recognising it is the first step towards a different approach to human security, one which sees past the symptom to address the deep source.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="http://www.brad.ac.uk/peace/index.php"><span><span>Department of peace studies, Bradford University</span></span></a></p><p>Paul Rogers, <a href="http://www.ibtauris.com/Books/Society%20%20social%20sciences/Politics%20%20government/Political%20activism/Armed%20conflict/Irregular%20War%20Islamic%20State%20and%20the%20New%20Threat%20from%20the%20Margins.aspx?menuitem=%7BE8A98B5E-F20B-476E-8EE5-B1C4BE955AD3%7D"><em>Irregular War: ISIS and the New Threat from the Margins</em></a> (IB Tauris, 2016)</p><p><span><span><a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/">Oxford Research Group </a></span></span></p> </div> </div> </div> <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="/paul-rogers/world-in-trouble-war-drought-food-flight">A world in trouble: drought, war, food, flight</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/irregular-war-and-how-to-reverse-it">Irregular war, and how to reverse it</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/beyond-%E2%80%9Cliddism%E2%80%9D-towards-real-global-security">Beyond &quot;liddism&quot;: towards real global security</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/tunisia-and-world-roots-of-turmoil">Tunisia and the world: roots of turmoil</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/thinning-world-mali-nigeria-india">The thinning world: Mali, Nigeria, India</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 4.0 </div> </div> </div> global security Paul Rogers Thu, 18 Jan 2018 13:50:05 +0000 Paul Rogers 115706 at https://www.opendemocracy.net US Senate launches attack on Nicaragua poverty programmes https://www.opendemocracy.net/democraciaabierta/john-perry/us-senate-launches-attack-on-nicaragua-poverty-programmes <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The so-called NICA Act, if passed, would require the US government to veto loans from international financial institutions to Nicaragua. <em><strong><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/democraciaabierta/estados-unidos-ataca-nicaragua">Español</a></strong></em></p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/557099/PA-14263740_2.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/557099/PA-14263740_2.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="328" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Nicaragua's President, Daniel Ortega (L), and OAS General Secretary, Miguel Insulza (R) during Central American Integration System (SICA) summit, Managua, Nicaragua, August 8, 2012. Photo: German Miranda/dpa/aa</span></span></span></p><p>In an extraordinary move on the day before the US Senate’s Christmas recess, two Democratics sided with right-wing Republicans to introduce the so-called NICA Act which, if passed, would require the US government to veto loans from international financial institutions to Nicaragua. While it is still a long way from becoming law, the bill suddenly looks like a more serious threat to that country’s social progress.</p><p class="mag-quote-right">The NICA act got support from right-wingers like Senators Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio</p> <p>Republican Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, long hostile to progressive governments in Latin America, originally sponsored the bill. It was not surprising when it got support from other right-wingers like Senators Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio. But now Senators Leahy (D-VT) and Durbin (D-IL), who have both been prominent in challenging US support for the right-wing government in neighbouring Honduras, have put their names to the NICA Act too. </p> <p>Why is it being promoted? Ever since the former guerrilla leader Daniel Ortega won election for a new term as president of Nicaragua in 2006, he has faced renewed hostility from the United States, even though of a much softer form than was the case during the Contra war of the 1980s. His opponents focus continually on his supposed grip on power, especially after the courts overturned a constitutional ban on presidents running for second and subsequent turns of office. </p><p>Their frustration intensified when his wife Rosario Murillo became his vice-president after the last national elections, even though she has been a key figure in the government from the start. </p><p>Most recently, his critics focussed their attention on the arrangements for last November’s municipal elections, in which Sandinista mayors were returned in most towns and cities. It was because of the supposed bias in the electoral process that the proposed <a href="https://cruz.senate.gov/files/documents/Bills/nicaragua.pdf">NICA Act</a> was conceived, and which it was intended to address.</p> <p>The timing and purpose of the Senate’s support for the bill are both curious. First, the municipal elections are over, the results were unsurprising and the Organisation of American States, who observed the polls, concluded that the outcome was fair even though they had various recommendations for improving the electoral process (since accepted by the government). </p><p>Second, the real electoral scandal in Central America is in Honduras, where all the criticisms which <a href="https://www.cruz.senate.gov/?p=press_release&amp;id=3567">Cruz directs at Nicaragua</a> apply in spades, because the November election there is <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/jan/02/us-silent-as-honduras-protesters-killed-in-post-election-violence">widely regarded as a fraud</a>, including by the OAS. This has not, of course, prevented the US government from recognising the outcome because its ally, current president Juan Orlando Hernández, is the beneficiary (and to be fair to Senator Leahy, he has been an active critic of Hernández and the Honduran election.)</p><p class="mag-quote-center">Opposition representatives lobbied in Washington in support of the NICA Act, which given freedom of speech in Nicaragua they are allowed to do, but in many countries would have seen them arrested for treason on their return.</p><p>Third, no one who knows Nicaragua believes that the opposition to the Ortega government would have had any chance in elections anyway: they consistently receive only tiny levels of support in independent opinion polls compared to the government’s two-thirds or higher. Nor has the opposition ever had a credible programme other than its opposition to Ortega: indeed, its own representatives lobbied in Washington in support of the NICA Act, which given freedom of speech in Nicaragua they are allowed to do, but in many countries would have seen them arrested for treason on their return.</p> <p>Of course, there are political controversies in Nicaragua, not least because of its planned interoceanic canal. Open Democracy &nbsp;/ DemocraciaAbierta has published pieces by <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/democraciaabierta/luciana-t-llez-ch-vez/human-rights-vs-authoritarianism-in-nicaragua">Luciana Téllez Chávez</a>, <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/democraciaabierta/robert-soutar/nicaragua-canal-becomes-government-s-achilles-heel">Robert Soutar</a> and others, arguing that the government has become more authoritarian in trying to push the project through, criticisms which <a href="http://news.trust.org/item/20171201092333-6asue/">I have argued</a> are more to do with a broader frustration with the failure of opposition politics than with the environmental and human rights consequences of the canal itself.</p> <p>But in any case this is irrelevant to the consequences if the NICA Act became law. It would mean that the US would vote against loans from international financial institutions until Nicaragua has, in the US government’s judgement, taken effective measures to "<a href="http://org2.salsalabs.com/dia/track.jsp?v=2&amp;c=MFNyK5OQTtDjz8J7rBY9h%2FpWWEYC0BLb">combat corruption and promote democracy, free speech, civil society and rule of law</a>". Quite apart from the effrontery and hypocrisy of the US adopting such a role given its stance on Honduras and elsewhere, who knows how long this might take? </p> <p>How does the Nicaraguan government use the support it gets from international institutions? One example is a current <a href="http://www.worldbank.org/en/results/2017/08/09/toward-more-shared-prosperity-in-nicaragua?CID=TAI_TT_Transport_EN_EXT">World Bank project</a> that improves access to health services and strengthens land rights. Both the World Bank and IMF, where US officials would vote against future loans, have announced new support packages for 2018 while praising Nicaragua’s effective use of past loans. </p><p class="mag-quote-left">&nbsp;Nicaragua was one of the first countries in Latin America to achieve the UN millennium development goals for poverty reduction.</p><p>Apart from specific projects, the Ortega government has used the budgetary support it receives to reduce poverty, dramatically improve the school system and develop its health services. Its achievements over the last decade are simply undeniable: for example, Nicaragua was one of the first countries in Latin America to achieve the UN millennium development goals for poverty reduction.</p> <p>Texas Democratic Vicente González<strong>&nbsp;</strong>was <a href="http://miamiherald.typepad.com/nakedpolitics/2017/10/house-passes-bill-limiting-loans-to-nicaragua-sponsored-by-ileana-ros-lehtinen-.html">the only member who opposed</a> Ros-Lehtinen's bill during floor debate.&nbsp;He pointed to the fact that few Nicaraguans migrate to the United States because of its government’s success in tackling poverty, drug smuggling and wider crime, in contrast to the countries between it and the Mexican border. </p><p>Nicaragua is now one of <a href="https://www.insightcrime.org/news/analysis/insight-crime-2016-homicide-round-up/">the safest countries in the hemisphere</a>. "Enacting this bill could have serious consequences in the region," González said. "How can we in good consciousness support a measure that would punish the poorest country in Central America?"&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</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="/democraciaabierta/luciana-t-llez-ch-vez/human-rights-vs-authoritarianism-in-nicaragua">Human rights vs. authoritarianism in Nicaragua</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/democraciaabierta/cirilo-antonio-otero/nicaragua-as-pawn-in-global-geopolitics">Nicaragua as a pawn in global geopolitics</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/democraciaabierta/robert-soutar/nicaragua-canal-becomes-government-s-achilles-heel">The Nicaragua Canal becomes the government’s Achilles heel</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"> Nicaragua </div> <div class="field-item even"> United States </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Economics </div> <div class="field-item even"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> DemocraciaAbierta United States Nicaragua Conflict Democracy and government Economics International politics latin america John Perry Thu, 18 Jan 2018 12:29:17 +0000 John Perry 115713 at https://www.opendemocracy.net ‘Happy 18th birthday! You’re out’ https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/hsiao-hung-pai/happy-18th-birthday-you-re-out <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Tougher internal controls under Macron are only giving police more powers, allowing them to conduct identity checks in emergency shelters. Brutality towards migrants is likely to become even more common.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/chapter6. children watching performance in Dunkirk Grande Synthe Liniere camp.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/chapter6. children watching performance in Dunkirk Grande Synthe Liniere camp.JPG" alt="lead " title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Children inside the former Liniere camp in Grande Synthe, northern France. Many who couldn't cope with life inside reception shelters had ended up in this camp.</span></span></span>On New Year’s Eve, when cities were cheering and watching fireworks, Jahid called me from his shelter in France. He had been there since spring 2017, and had been living with the hope that his life would be sorted out in the not-too-distant future. </p> <p>The underage refugee I had met in Lampedusa eighteen months ago was entitled to protection, and as such was promised by the French authorities that he would be given an “immigrant card” within two years that would ensure his indefinite leave to remain in the country. Ten months later, however, he was abruptly informed that his entitlement to protection will be coming to an end in five months’ time when he reaches eighteen. </p> <p>Where will he go? What can he do? I have as few answers as he does. </p> <p>This is the agonising cycle of life for tens of thousands of refugee and undocumented children and teenagers in Europe. Their lives are held hostage by the border regime across the continent, and they are experiencing hardship and destitution like many adult refugees. The majority<strong> </strong>of these children and youths are unaccompanied and without resources, and barely even understand why their misery continues beyond their arrival in Europe. </p> <p>35 million, that is 15%, of the estimated 232 million migrants worldwide, are children and youths under the age of twenty. The majority of them are in developing countries, rather than in Europe. In 2016, more than 63,300 unaccompanied minors entered the EU (half of them Syrian and Afghan refugees). Among them, more than 25,000<strong> </strong>reached Italy via the Mediterranean sea route. </p> <p>As the world’s wealthiest continent, Europe has nevertheless been unable or unwilling to offer protection and provide a safe haven for these displaced young people. Child rights are enshrined within a Treaty of the EU and that it is a right recognized by the Council of the EU (the EU Charter on Fundamental Rights and the United Nations Convention on<strong> </strong>the Rights of the Child<strong> </strong>establish how children should be treated regardless of their migratory status, nationality or background, and “children shall have the right to such protection and care as is necessary for their well-being and that the best interests of the child must be a primary consideration in all actions relating to children”). However, EU countries have miserably failed to protect children despite their migratory status and ethnic background. </p> <h2><strong>Why don’t French local authorities have the resources to cope?</strong></h2> <p>My new book <em>Bordered Lives</em> documents the destiny of some of these children who have ended up in the camps in Italy and other parts of Europe after their rescue at sea. More than 600 migrants were kept in the camp on the island of Lampedusa when I visited, 400 of them underage. These minors were then transferred to camps across Sicily and mainland Italy. Finding themselves in miserable conditions and enduring long bureaucratic delays about decisions on their status, many of them absconded from these camps and went north, either to Germany or further north to Scandinavian countries, or France. </p> <p>France, despite politicians across the spectrum talking about the country being “overburdened” by refugees, has not developed sufficient infrastructure to support the incoming minors, let alone adults. Across the country, there are between 6,000 and 8,000 undocumented minors in the care of local authorities, who are legally bound to support them but not always equipped for such a task. “Local authorities don’t have the resources to cope,” is the standard line repeated by everyone, yet nothing has been done to expand their capacity. Undocumented migrants and asylum seekers, including large numbers of children, become visibly destitute in France’s cities and towns. </p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/chapter6. children in Dunkirk camp.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/chapter6. children in Dunkirk camp.JPG" alt="" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Inside Dunkirk Grand Synthe Liniere camp.</span></span></span>In<strong> </strong>Seine-Saint-Denis (in Paris’ northern suburbs) and in central Paris, where the majority of young migrants arrive, they sleep rough in the streets and rely on charity for basic food provision. Homelessness of migrant minors has become part of the urban landscape in this First World country. Some of them move out into rural France, to get away from the harshness of being destitute in a metropolis. Many try to seek protection in shelters: others end up again in the streets outside Paris. </p><h2><strong>“Irresponsible adults”</strong> </h2> <p>I followed the lives of some of these children from their arrival in Europe and saw how their dreams of finding a safe haven and secure livelihood fell apart along the way. Many times when the walls of borders closed in, it was impossible for me not to want to intervene and try to offer a way out. But the system always overwhelmed. I witnessed how these young minds were toughened, and hearts broken – by local hostility and racism, by the trickery and deception of those who were supposed be in the position of care.&nbsp; </p> <p>Inside shelters, the minors have their basic needs met, such as food, lodging and some language lessons depending on what is available. The quality of care varies according to the allocation of resources, and in most cases, little individual attention is given. As time goes on, the children often realize that these places are as transitory as those they’ve been in all along their long journey, the security only illusory, and that they may cease to be sheltered when they reach eighteen.</p> <p>In theory, France is one of the five EU member states (along with Cyprus, Italy, Spain and Sweden) where undocumented children are entitled to the same level of health care as citizen children (although they’re not eligible for mainstream healthcare insurance except when they’re unaccompanied minors). In reality their access to healthcare depends on the shelters in which they are placed and how much care they are given in those shelters. I have not met one child who told me that they had been given immediate health care when they fell ill, if at all. Jahid, the 17-year-old I mentioned earlier, for one, had waited for over four months just to see a doctor. </p> <p>Children who are living in these shelters often feel isolated from the rest of society, with little guidance and advice from those providing their care, and grow increasingly more anxious about their migratory status and their future in France. Jahid often revealed that he felt alone and confused. Social workers who are responsible for him rarely paid him attention. When he enquired about their plans for him, they often responded in a casual manner, showing no commitment to his case. Jahid had come to know them as “irresponsible adults”, in his words. </p> <p>He isn’t alone in the way he’s been “dealt with” by those in position of care. Most minors in shelters are left in the dark about what might happen to them, whether they will be given regular status and whether there will be any change in their situation when they reach eighteen.</p> <h2><strong>France, land of asylum</strong></h2> <p>I visited Amiens in France, nicknamed “little Venice of the North”, a couple of times, and saw how many underage undocumented migrants found temporary solutions to their isolation. This city, only an hour north of Paris, has had a growing number of undocumented children and youths coming in over the past two decades. Since 2011, around 100 of them came to this city every year. However, in Amiens, like in other places in the Somme region, the child welfare services (ASE) do not have enough beds in group homes. Some young refugees are housed in hotels.</p> <p>Charities have come in to fill the gap – a pattern that has been repeated elsewhere all over France. For instance, France Terre d’Asile<strong> </strong>(“France Land of Asylum”), provided local-government-subsidized housing to dozens of unaccompanied children from Congo, Sudan or Guinea, and organised French lessons and workshops for them. Organisations such as this have helped the local authorities ease the pressure by sharing the task of providing housing and support to young refugees and migrants. </p> <p>I came across a group called Solidarity Network of Amiens, a grassroots gathering of volunteers who were organised on social media. One of the children I was visiting invited one of the volunteers, a local teacher in her thirties, to come to meet me. She met the children often and helped them with learning French. &nbsp;“Everybody can decide to help as they want,” the volunteer told me. “Often, we put up posts on Facebook about needing help with food, with accommodation, books or transport… We also organise social events like birthday parties, Eid, visit to the zoo and various shows in town…” Apart from providing the much-needed temporary housing (albeit on an ad-hoc basis), the group volunteers become an important social network for the young. Social interaction with the outside world is much needed, and I could see how it helped the children cope with their lives in limbo.</p> <h2><strong>Bone-tests and beards</strong></h2> <p>Inside these shelters, the senseless, lengthy waiting for an unknown future is a massive weight on a young spirit. As it turns out, in France, only 40% of these unaccompanied minors who ask to be taken into care are actually accepted and able to stay in the system. The key idea for the authorities is not to provide protection but to “de-incentivize” and deter more minors from coming into the system. </p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/chapter1. school poster in Lampedusa.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/chapter1. school poster in Lampedusa.JPG" alt="" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>A school poster, 'people not borders', in Lampedusa, where Jahid (in the article & book) was detained when arriving in Europe.</span></span></span>The deterrence, as shown by the experience of many children seeking protection, is provided by a series of obstacles to keep them away from being accepted and given regular status. For instance, the French authorities adopt a racially-motivated, “guilty before proven innocent” approach and use a bone test system to determine the age of migrants – this is despite the practice having been condemned by many in Europe as inhumane and, in fact, unscientific: the bone test was originally conceived for height prediction and not age, and can give results with up to twenty-year margin of error. </p><p>Boys and girls who are staying in shelters are constantly monitored (by those responsible for their care) for changes in their appearances, and signs of growing up, such as boys growing a beard. Soon enough, these youngsters would be singled out for assessment and have to go through a complicated series of legal procedures, to determine whether they are eligible for protection. Can you imagine European children being subjected to such a deeply offensive age assessment mechanism? </p> <h2><strong>Macron in Le Pen’s footsteps</strong></h2> <p>Many unaccompanied children and youths are simply unprepared for the level of racism in French society. Their right to healthcare and education is something that France’s Front National wants to end. Its leader Marine le Pen had put it like this: "I’ve got nothing against foreigners but I say to them: if you come to our country, don’t expect that you will be taken care of, treated (by the health system) and that your children will be educated for free. No more playtime.” The racial hatred of Front National unfortunately often echoes throughout mainstream society. The culture of suspicion and resentment towards refugees and any “foreign-looking” people is evident in the segregated existence of those seeking protection.</p> <p>There were sighs of relief when Marine Le Pen failed to win the presidency in last May’s election. But soon enough, refugees and asylum seekers came to see that Macron was occupying what used to be Front National territory and bringing in anti-migrant, anti-refugee policies. Under Macron, an action plan was launched a month after the election, to “systematically deport” failed asylum seekers and “illegal economic migrants”. &nbsp;In 2016, 16,489 people were deported; deportations rose by 14% in 2017. </p> <p>Last Tuesday (January 16) in Calais, Macron outlined his new immigration and asylum policy which ensures a higher number of expulsions of failed asylum seekers and undocumented migrants. Tougher immigration controls will be introduced in a bill and discussed at the council of ministers in February.</p> <p>A large part of the impact of the French immigration regime has been the fear of the police who are seen by most migrants as a threat to their safety. As the police are tasked with enforcing migration regulations, no migrants, particularly the undocumented, would see it as safe to report any incident of violence to the police, who are already known for their racism. I often saw stop and search on French streets and station platforms, where police officers were physically aggressive. Police brutality was (and still is) ingrained in the experience of every migrant in Calais and Dunkirk as it has been part of their everyday life. </p> <p>Tougher internal controls under Macron are only giving police more powers, allowing them to conduct identity checks in places where migrants live, even in emergency shelters. Brutality towards migrants is likely to become even more common. Many of these unaccompanied children are already living a precarious life on the edge of society. These tougher controls will put them at even greater risk of racial violence from both the far-right and the police. </p> <h2><strong>Going underground</strong></h2> <p>Jahid remembers the day when he arrived on an island that he did not know was called Lampedusa and how far away he was from home. Back then, he had escaped slave labour in Libya, and never expected to battle away his life with borders in Fortress Europe. The only path left for him now is going underground and joining the <em>sans papiers</em>, because, like many trapped in Europe, returning home is no option.</p> <p><a href="https://www.amazon.com/Bordered-Lives-Europe-Refugees-Migrants/dp/1780264380"><em>Bordered Lives: How Europe Fails Refugees and Migrants</em></a>, is published by New Internationalist, on 18 January 2018.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="https://newint.org/books/politics/bordered-lives/"><em>Bordered Lives: How Europe Fails Refugees and Migrants</em></a>, is published by New Internationalist, on 18 January 2018.<img src="image/png;base64,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" alt="" /></p> </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"> France </div> <div class="field-item even"> EU </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? uk EU France People Flow Hsiao-Hung Pai Thu, 18 Jan 2018 11:40:02 +0000 Hsiao-Hung Pai 115709 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The tentacles of autocratic regimes: the case of Egypt https://www.opendemocracy.net/north-africa-west-asia/maged-mandour/tentacles-of-autocratic-regimes-case-of-egypt <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The process of repression is outsourced to the citizenry who indirectly secure absolute power for the regime. It is a vicious cycle with the masses being both the victims as well as beneficiaries of repression.&nbsp;</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/549460/PA-25732689.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="El-Geziry Fayed/ABACA/Press Association Images. All rights reserved."><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/549460/PA-25732689.jpg" alt="El-Geziry Fayed/ABACA/Press Association Images. All rights reserved." title="El-Geziry Fayed/ABACA/Press Association Images. All rights reserved." width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Streets of Old Cairo. March 2016. El-Geziry Fayed/ABACA/Press Association Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>Autocracies, to maintain their hold on power, rely on heavy doses of repression. Their power appears to be heavily centralized in the upper echelons of the social order, however, the reality is much more complex.</p> <p>Autocracies mould their masses, who are both the victims of repression and its beneficiaries. Beneficiaries in the sense of “smaller” autocrats also repressing those below them in the social order. As such, repression is decentralised, creating fertile ground for ‘societal repression’, the main victims of which are those on the margins and the weaker segments of society such as minorities, women and the poor. </p> <p>This repression is recreated at all levels of society as well as in a number of situations at schools, the work place, and even within families and homes. With a state policy that condones this form of repression, a society with extremely limited margins of freedom is created in both the public and the private spheres, with the burden lessening as one moves up the social ladder. </p> <p>Inequality is accepted as a natural condition, as those on the social margins are dehumanized, repressed and violated. This is an essential method for the preservation and the propagation of an autocratic system.&nbsp; </p> <h2><strong>Autocracy in the classroom</strong></h2> <p>When one looks at Egypt and the lineage of repression, which I have personally experienced, one can only see that repression penetrates all layers of society. A simple example is that of the school system, and the levels of violence children of the lower classes are exposed to. </p> <p>In 2015 a <a href="http://www.middleeasteye.net/news/child-dies-egypt-after-beating-teacher-1058061838">child died</a> due to injuries sustained from a beating by a schoolteacher. Another prominent case was in 2014, where the <a href="http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-29143883">manager of an orphanage</a> was sentenced to three years in prison after footage surfaced of him savagely beating orphans in his care. </p> <p>This extreme violence against children is endemic in Egypt’s schools, specifically in lower class areas. It pre-dates the rise of the neo-military regime currently ruling the country. </p> <p>The Minster of Education under Mubarak, <a href="http://www.egyptindependent.com/beating-children-name-discipline/">Ahmed Zaki Badr</a>, stated that banning corporal punishment in schools would leave teachers vulnerable. Thus, this violence against students is condoned by the state. </p> <p>Interestingly, as a member of the middle class and the product of a private school system, I was spared the physical violence and repression in the classroom that the children of the poor experience. </p> <p>The weight of repression increases on the poor and the vulnerable, which is interestingly also practiced by those who are suffering the most. One only needs to remember that the average Egyptian teacher is economically marginalized and underpaid, as <a href="https://usilive.org/egyptian-teachers-protest-repressive-labour-laws-and-low-pay/">protests</a> exposed in 2015. </p> <p>Thus, the autocracy was able to recreate a miniature dictatorship in the classroom, primarily directed against the lower classes with the aim of implanting obedience and discipline in the minds of the poor, who have no recourse of protection against these practices.</p> <p>This is accompanied by the constant ideological indoctrination of the importance of obedience, the need for conformity, and the stifling of any forms of creative thought. For example, there is considerable emphasis on the memorisation of information rather than the development of analytical skills. Any deviation from the textbook is considered incorrect.</p> <h2><strong>Autocracy on the streets</strong></h2> <p>The classroom is not the only place where autocracy has recreated itself, it has also done so on the streets of the Cairo, mostly notably with homeless street children. </p> <p>These <a href="https://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/egypts-street-children-forgotten-victims-cairos-crises-n178401">children</a>, who are estimated to be around 600,000 in the city of Cairo alone, are subjected to harrowing levels of sexual violence and abuse. They are not offered any form of legal protection nor social assistance. </p> <p>The level of violence only came to public attention when the bodies of a number of street children appeared in 2006 and subsequently a <a href="http://www.almasryalyoum.com/news/details/100466">gang of six</a> individuals were arrested who were supposedly responsible for the murder, rape and torture of a number of children. </p> <p>This case quickly quietened down with no notable response from the government nor a change in the public perception of street children. </p> <p>The autocracy, once again, created the space for repression, where the most vulnerable in society are being preyed upon by the more powerful, decentralizing repression and violence to the periphery and violating the basic social contract of the Leviathan, as defined by Thomas Hobbes. </p> <p>The lives of these children are not valued, not just by the government, but by more powerful segments in society. This manifested itself in the <a href="http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/1/64/104271/Egypt/Politics-/Updated-Article-proposing-idea-of-killing-Egyptian.aspx">call</a> made by an Egyptian writer, who called for the killing of these children as a solution to the problem. &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <h2><strong>Autocracy and women</strong></h2> <p>Another social group that has been subjected to <a href="http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-19440656">widespread abuse</a> and repression are women. From domestic violence, to sexual abuse and mob violence, especially during the period of the mass protests that rocked Egypt between 2011 and 2013.</p> <p>A <a href="https://www.amnesty.org.uk/press-releases/egypt-new-report-reveals-huge-extent-violence-against-women-country">UN survey</a> stated that 99.3 percent of its respondents said they were subjected to sexual harassment, either verbally or physically. In another <a href="http://www.prb.org/pdf10/spousalviolence-egypt.pdf">survey,</a> conducted in 2005, one third of women reported having been abused by their husbands, with seven percent claiming that they were beaten “often.” </p> <p>This dire situation is complicated by state policies that offer no protection for women. On the contrary, they condone this form of violence by creating hurdles for the survivors of domestic and sexualised violence. </p> <p>Based on eyewitness accounts, members of the security forces are very reluctant to take action when a woman reports a case of sexual harassment, and members of the public even attempt to dissuade her from reporting the incident. </p> <p>As for domestic violence, Egyptian law places a number of obstacles for women who wish to report cases of abuse. This, combined with cumbersome divorce laws, women are more often than not forced to remain silent and in abusive relationships. </p> <p>Women are a marginalized group that is an easy target for “societal repression” by men, who are also repressed by more powerful men, creating a reinforcing cycle of violence and repression.&nbsp;&nbsp; </p> <p>Autocracy is also recreated in the home. The man, who is repressed outside the home takes up the mantle of the autocrat within the family structure, dispensing violence and repression as he sees fit with little social or legal protection given to the woman or children. </p> <p>Once again, the regime creates the space for the recreation of autocracy at the level of the family, with the male head of the house acting as the local autocrat. The brunt of this is being dealt to women from the poorer classes. Social norms provide a semblance of protection for middle and upper-class women, even though they are not immune from such abuses.</p> <h2><strong>A plethora of autocracies</strong></h2> <p>Based on the above it becomes clear that an autocratic regime does not simply have one autocrat, it has a multitude of dictators spread across all aspects of daily life.</p> <p>The autocratic regime creates the conditions that allow for the abuse of power and outsources the process of repression to its citizenry. This repression ensures the stability of the regime, as it allows its victims to repress others even though they themselves are repressed. The end result is absolute power.</p> <p>This also helps to create anti-democratic tendencies as mini-autocrats would not want to lose the power they have over their victims, who in the case of the existence of a democratic order would have both legal and social protections against such abuse. </p> <p>This constant violence and repression allows for the brutalization and de-humanization of the citizenry, and creates the necessary social conditions for the social production of autocracy. </p> <p>It negates the ideas of equality and freedom, and entrenches the notion of natural inequality as the basis of social order. Prime example being the superiority of men over women. </p> <p>Without these social conditions the autocracy would not be able to survive. In order for one autocrat to rule, the tentacles of repression have to reach all echelons of society.</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="/north-africa-west-asia/maged-mandour/sisi-egypt-LGBT-arrest-prison-middle-class-sexual-morals">Sisi, the guardian of sexual morals</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/maged-mandour/laying-foundations-for-totalitarian-state">Laying the foundations for a totalitarian state</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/maged-mandour/pain-and-torture-state-violence-in-egypt">Pain and torture: state violence in Egypt</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"> Egypt </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Culture </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> North-Africa West-Asia Middle East Forum North-Africa West-Asia Egypt Culture Democracy and government power dictatorship autocracy human rights human rights abuses Chronicles of the Arab revolt Egypt in the balance Maged Mandour Thu, 18 Jan 2018 09:46:18 +0000 Maged Mandour 115689 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Who drills, wins https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/seth-piper/who-drills-wins <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>When it comes to oil, Norway just can’t help itself.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p>This week, a governing coalition was finally formed in Norway, a full four months after the general election which saw the minority government of Conservatives and populist-right Progress party remain in power. The new coalition platform now includes the Liberal party, Venstre, who have controversially joined forces with the Progress party for the first time, despite repeatedly denying this was a possibility during the election campaign.</p><p>Arguably, very little of Norwegian politics has any real international significance, barring a few issues. Two exceptions that come to mind are the potential <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2018/jan/15/norway-may-rip-up-eu-deal-over-uk-brexit-demands">influence</a> Norway is having on Britain’s post-Brexit options, as well as the way the country manages its gigantic <a href="https://www.nbim.no/en/">pension fund</a> (the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund). But the most significant area is related to oil and gas activity, since Norway has for many years been among the world’s largest petroleum exporters by volume. Only the gulf states of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and U.A.E. are bigger exporters per-capita. A fair amount of the responsibility for the global climate crisis can justifiably be laid at the feet of Norway, which has become one of the world’s richest countries as a direct result.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/539191/24641003286_3f905b71b4_z_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/539191/24641003286_3f905b71b4_z_0.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Norwegian environmental organisation Natur og Ungdom protesting in Paris 2015. Photo by Helene Lind Jensen</span></span></span></p><p>Internationally, the political situation related to oil and climate has shifted significantly in the past year. President Macron has <a href="https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/france-ban-new-oil-gas-exploration-stop-granting-licences-macron-hulot-renewable-energy-drive-a7806161.html">proposed an “ecological transition” law</a>, intended to end the granting licences for oil and gas exploration in France. The World Bank has <a href="http://www.worldbank.org/en/topic/climatechange/brief/qa-the-world-bank-group-and-upstream-oil-and-gas">announced</a> that it will “no longer finance upstream oil and gas”. The number of <a href="https://uk.reuters.com/article/climatechange-law/climate-change-court-cases-on-the-rise-globally-majority-in-u-s-idUKL8N1IP59D">climate lawsuits</a> is growing internationally, and the Norwegian state itself was forced to defend the country’s oil activity in a <a href="https://www.savethearctic.org/en/peoplevsarcticoil/background-documents/">legal case</a> brought by Greenpeace and local eNGOs.</p><p>In this context, it comes as a massive disappointment that the new governing coalition in Norway intends to carry on with aggressively expansive oil policies. The logic seems to be to find and pump up as much oil and gas as possible before it’s too late- in other words, before the world is able to transition away from over-reliance on fossil fuels to meet energy needs. The day after the new coalition platform was formed, 103 new petroleum extraction licence blocks were announced, situated in unexplored parts of the Norwegian and Barents seas in the Arctic north.</p><p>The Liberals have been eager to describe themselves as a ‘green’ party, which is very difficult to square with their willingness to support what can only be described as business-as-usual, ‘drill, baby, drill’ policies. As a symbolic gesture, a few of the most vulnerable areas close to the Norwegian coastline will be spared. In a machiavellian masterstroke, successive governments have managed to neutralise opposition to drilling from environmental groups by first throwing into doubt, then protecting, the area around the Lofoten archipelago- but only one parliamentary period at a time. This is despite majority public opposition to drilling in what is arguably one of Norway’s most unique and biologically significant areas. Meanwhile, the overall expansive policies of oil and gas exploration remain effectively unchallenged, because green groups are busy either defending, or celebrating, the protection of Lofoten, which while important, has little significance on a global level in terms of emissions.</p><p>There is no doubt among climate scientists that the majority of existing oil and gas reserves must be kept in the ground if we are to avoid devastating global temperature increases. However, the question of which oil will stay unburned and which country will show restraint is very much undecided. International climate agreements generally cover domestic emissions but not those from exports, which leads to a situation where countries such as Norway take advantage by ‘outsourcing’ emissions that they are also at least partially responsible for.</p><p>In light of these developments, Norway’s reputation as a responsible environmental role model is totally undeserved. Norwegian leaders should be met with increasing international pressure demanding that they begin to show real restraint when it comes to opening new areas for oil and gas extraction. No other country has amassed the kind of wealth Norway has, yet saying ‘no’ to the oil industry still somehow remains politically impossible.</p><div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Norway </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Norway climate change oil Seth Piper Thu, 18 Jan 2018 09:20:03 +0000 Seth Piper 115707 at https://www.opendemocracy.net