Monthly Archives: April 2010

Information is Beautiful- Left and Right politics..

Everyone in the office today was talking about politics and the elections and the problems with Labour, Conservatives, the wars, politics in general etc. Where I’m working at the moment is quite diverse and I get to  talk to some tories (!) and to be honest- I am finding it absolutely fascinating.  Kinda realizing that they are just (if not more so) fragmented as the left and seem pretty pragmatic in their views.. still the legacy of Thatcher runs pretty deep in my Manchester roots and I don’t think I could ever vote Conservative!

Anyway, I stumbled on this and just thought it was a great summary of the differences between left and right politics in the Western world. I think we should be taught more things visually- especially when it looks this gorgeous.

Click on the image to get a proper look at the info!


Art, Kids and Migration

I’ve been doing bits of reading on migration for university work and one of the most interesting that came to the surface is how flawed our perceptions are of population movements.

Especially in the west, we tend to think that migrants are swamping our oasis of calm and stealing our resources. That more and more are coming every year and soon there will be space for no-one. In reality, almost of all of migration occurs between developing countries and only around 3% actually make into the developing world. Clearly some where along the way, there has been some serious miscommunication.

Talking of communication, I also stumbled across an interview with UK Photographer Caroline Irby on Immigrant Children by the brilliant Qiana Mestrich of the blog Dodge & Burn: Diversity in Photography.
Here are some stand out bits:

CI: Of the estimated 565,000 migrants who arrive in the UK each year, 26,000 of them are children.  The numbers are often analyzed in the media, but for every number there’s a story.  There are stories dancing around in playgrounds across the country and they are seldom told.  I learned, from talking to all these children, that they rarely speak about where they have come from or what they’ve been through.  And I think we should take the opportunity to ask and listen to them: we can learn a lot when we do…

QM: These children all come from different countries each with their own experiences. Is there anything that you’ve found they have in common?

CI: With most of the children who are here indefinitely, I felt an undertow of nostalgia, fed not so much by the desire to return home as by the impossibility of it, because the home they remember has changed, and they have changed too.

However well integrated the children are, almost all fantasize about returning to the countries they have left, but when questioned on this, most told me that returning for a holiday is enough – that they no longer fit in the place they have come from, that the UK is now home.

Something else I found these children often shared was an acute self-awareness: having experienced life in more than one country; their vision is already global.  In the process of moving and adapting to another culture they have had to understand a lot about themselves and where they are from.

There were many recurrent themes in what the children said in their interviews but perhaps the most consistent was that they miss their Grandmas.  They miss their friends, their food, their animals and homes, but it was almost always the Grandmas they said they miss most.

Aaawwwhhhhh. That is simultaneously super sad and super cute.

Make/Shift 7: Why Misogynists Make Great Informers

A couple of weeks ago, the latest copy of the US-based feminist Make/Shift Magazine (with a short article from me) found its way through my postbox and one of the piece I read has still got me thinking.

It was by a community organizer and writer called Courtney Desiree Morris on how gender violence and injustice totally destroys progressive organisations from the inside out. It also turns out that those who practice gender violence are more likely to be gov informants. So I guess that it makes it doubly important to get rid of those kinds of people… ( as if you needed more reasons!)

The piece was sparked off by news that an FBI informant had infiltrated a radical movement in Texas and also the revelation that an ‘activist’ named Darby at the Common Ground collective in New Orleans, which helped residents after Hurricane Katrina, was also an FBI agent.

The co-founder of CG Malik Rahim spoke how he lamented all of the ‘young ladies’ who left Common Ground as a result of Darby’s domineering, aggressive style of organizing. Morris rhetorically asks what happened when these women complained and follows the issue to its logical conclusion:

Well, their concerns likely fell on sympathetic but ultimately unresponsive ears- everything may have been true, and after the fact everyone admits how disruptive Darby was, quick to suggest violent, ill-conceived direct-action schemes that endangered everyone he worked with. There were even claims of Darby sexually assaulting female organizers at Common Ground and in general being dismissive of women working in the organization.”

Maybe if the organizers made collective accountability around gender violence a central part of our practices we could neutralize people who are working on behalf of the state to undermine our struggles.”

Because Politicians are a Laugh

Hilarious poster on the Tories that I stumbled across on the Headstretcher blog [ Steve Connor from Manchester’s Creative Concern]. I think it’s important to see the funny side of politics…. I am sure politicians poke as much fun at the rif-raf of humanity that is the general public too.

Image via Make A Mark

Joe Sacco’s Footnotes on Gaza

Joe Sacco probably has the best job in the world- he’s is a cartoon journalist. Now I know there isn’t many of those but even if there were, he would defintely be one of the top journo-toonists. Ever.

I read his ‘Safe Area Gorazde’ for some university work and was totally blown away. Not only is he a talented cartoonist but he has real knack for telling personal stories in moving away [i.e. minus the drama] with the factual accuracy and political/social background you [should] expect from a journalist.  Safe Area definately comes highly recommended especially if you want to know more about the war in Bosnia. I recently read ‘Palestine’ which was his first full graphic novel on …well, Palestine. For those wanted to get more on the situation the book is great but I am looking forward to getting my hands on his latest book ‘Footnotes on Gaza’.

Mondoweiss has more exclusive pages of the book, so check it out

From the Book FOOTNOTES IN GAZA by Joe Sacco. Copyright © 2009 by Joe Sacce. Reprinted by arrangement with Metropolitan Books, an imprint of Henry Holt and Company LLC.

– Arwa Aburawa

Universal Jurisdiction and why Palestine needs it

Palestine Flags in Ramallah

Okay,  let’s get thing started.

The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights in Gaza has just published an 184-page long report on the “Principle and Practice of Universal Jurisdiction: PCHR’s Work in the occupied Palestinian territory.”

Yep, that’s right:  Universal Jurisdiction. I know what you thinking- this is going to be long and complicated. Also, what’s this all got to do with Palestine.

Well, I’ll keep this brief.

Universal Jurisdiction is basically the legal principle that a very serious crime affects the entire international community (not just that of the country where the crime happened) and so national courts have the right to investigate and prosecute those involved.

The Palestinian Centre (PCHR) has been trying to apply this principle to Israeli war crimes since 2002 with some victories such as the arrest warrant for the former Israeli Chief of Staff.

PCHR state that;

universal jurisdiction is the only available legal mechanism capable of ensuring Palestinian victims right to an effective judicial remedy. In the broader context, universal jurisdiction is also an essential tool in the fight against impunity…

Universal jurisdiction is presented as stepping stone on the road to universal justice, whereby the protections of international law may be extended to all individuals without discrimination.”

You can find the short version of the main points of the report here.

I have also written about Universal Jurisdication and why its important in this report for Friends of Al-Aqsa (skip to page 48!).

Arwa Aburawa