Sunday, May 25, 2008

Stop the deportation of Hich

Although he posts here as rarely as everybody else Hicham Yezza, or Hich to his many friends, is ostensibly one of the contributors to this blog. Unfortunately, he now faces imminent deportation to Algeria.

If you know Hich and/or can help in any way, get int touch with the campaign.

Phone: 07948590262

The press release does a pretty good job of summing up what's going on...

From a group of Nottingham residents, concerned student and academics at the University of Nottingham.
For immediate use, 24/05/08 SATURDAY

Notts Uni detainee innocent but still facing deportation

Hicham Yezza, a popular, respected and valued former PhD student and current employee of the University of Nottingham faces deportation to Algeria on Sunday 1st June. This follows his unjust arrest under the Terrorism Act 2000 on Wednesday 14th May alongside Rizwaan Sabir and their release without charge six days later.

It has subsequently become clear that these arrests, which the police had claimed related to so-called “radical materials” involved an Al Qaeda manual downloaded by Sabir as part of his research into political Islam and emailed to Yezza for printing because Sabir couldn’t afford to get it printed himself.

There has been a vocal response from lecturers and students. A petition is being circulated, letters have been sent by academics across the world and a demo is being planned for Wednesday. 28th May. This has clearly been deeply embarrassing to a government currently advocating an expansion of anti-terror powers.

On his release Hicham was re-arrested under immigration legislation and, due to confusion over his visa documentation, charged with offences relating to his immigration status. He sought legal advice and representation over these matters whilst in custody. On Friday 23rd May, he was suddenly served with a deportation notice and moved to an immigration detention centre. The deportation is being urgently appealed.

Hicham has been resident in the U.K. for 13 years, during which time he has studied for both undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in Nottingham. He is an active member of debating societies, a prominent member of an arts and theatre group, and has written for, and edited, Ceasefire, the Nottingham Student Peace Movement magazine for the last five years.

He is well known and popular on campus amongst the university community and has established himself as a voracious reader and an authority on literature and music. An application for British citizenship was underway, and he had been planning to make his yearly trip to Wales for the Hay Festival when he was suddenly arrested.

The authorities are clearly trying to circumvent the criminal justice system and force Hicham out of the country. Normally they would have to wait for criminal proceedings to finish, but here they have managed to convince the prosecution to drop the charges in an attempt to remove him a quick, covert manner. The desire for justice is clearly not the driving force behind this, as Hicham was happy to stand trial and prove his innocence.

Hicham had a large social network and many of his friends are mobilising to prevent his deportation. Matthew Butcher, 20, a student at the University of Nottingham and member of the 2008-9 Students Union Executive, said, “This is an abhorrent abuse of due process, pursued by a government currently seeking to expand anti-terror powers. Following the debacle of the initial ‘terror’ arrests they now want to brush the whole affair under the carpet by deporting Hicham.”

Supporters have been able to talk with Hicham and he said, “The Home Office operates with a Gestapo mentality. They have no respect for human dignity and human life. They treat foreign nationals as disposable goods - the recklessness and the cavalier approach they have belongs to a totalitarian state. I thank everyone for their support - it’s been extremely heartening and humbling. I’m grateful to everyone who has come to my aid and stood with me in solidarity, from students to Members of Parliament. I think this really reflects the spirit of the generous, inclusive Britain we know - and not the faceless, brutal, draconian tactics of the Home Office.”


Tuesday, July 24, 2007

It's a crazy, crazy world...

So.... in the news today... historic elections in Turkey, unprecedented floods in England, mayhem in Iraq, dramatic tensions between the UK and Russia....
Yet, as of 12pm today... the most read AND most emailed "news" article is .... *drum roll*
It's a crazy world, I tell ya!!!

Friday, February 09, 2007

Forthcoming events

In case this reaches a different audience than the other places these announcements have been posted...

Next weekend is rather a bonanza for peaceniks and progressives in Nottingham! To wit:

KnowledgeLab 4:
"an attempt to provide a collective space for anti-capitalist reflection. It is located at the margin of the university, an institution essentially geared towards the production of knowledge as a resource for corporate interest and as justification for particular constellations of power relations.

The Knowledge Lab is hence also an attempt to claim back some of the university's space, resources and know-how from the military-industrial complex and make them available for people concerned about and working against the status quo of unceasing commodification, exploitation, war, and biospherical destruction."

KnowledgeLab is held on Feb 16-18 at the Portland Building, Nottingham University

And of course, that long-term favourite, the NSPM Peace Conference, on Sunday Feb 18 in the Portland Building. Some details
here and anyone with a printer and some energy can download a poster here

Monday, May 08, 2006

For a Free Education!

This is a time of radical change in education. With the introduction of fees and now top-up fees, access to higher education has become stratified, dividing potential students into those who can afford it and those whose financial insecurity excludes them. This is accompanied by a general trend in universities towards a business-oriented model of education, where students are reduced to passive consumers of training for their future roles as battery workers. There is an increasing involvement of private companies in the funding of research, in return for prime opportunities to recruit students. Meanwhile, markets in student services are being opened up so that we can be exploited wherever we go, by food vendors, increased advertising, privatisation of student accommodation, etc. With this approach to education any source of funding is fair game, regardless of the ethical and ecological consequences, hence Nottingham’s acceptance of millions of pounds from British American Tobacco to fund an MBA in corporate social responsibility, sponsorship of research by human rights abusers Rolls-Royce and Shell, and the ubiquity of Coca-Cola vending machines and Nestlé water in the water coolers.

“Top-up” fees and the AUT dispute
What is unknown to many students is that “top-up” fees go directly to the universities themselves. They are not a form of indirect taxation, but direct funding to the institutions who lobbied for them, under the auspices of increasing pay for staff. Since then the universities have reneged on this offer, despite the increasing workload and relative pay cuts endured by academic staff. As a result, staff members are understandably aggrieved and want to take action against their exploitation, hence the strikes seen earlier this year. However, many AUT members, whilst wishing to take action against their employers, are not in favour of the tactics of boycotting student assessment, because they damage students rather than the university. Rather than judging the legitimacy of staff claims for better pay and conditions based upon the AUT’s questionable choice of tactics, students would do well to consider the past behaviour of university management, especially considering Nottingham’s scandalous behaviour leading to the University’s greylisting by the AUT in 2004. Then, the University imposed performance-related pay and refused to negotiate with the union. All of this continues whilst Nottingham’s Vice-Chancellor, Sir Colin Campbell, was revealed to have received a 23% pay rise in 2004-5, bringing his salary to a total of £221,000. The parallels with corporate fat cats are hard to avoid. The University’s staff, as well as its students, are being damaged by the business model being ruthlessly imposed, and linking our two campaigns could strengthen them both.

What can you do?
Education could be a chance for students to learn to think critically and to question the inevitability of a career path. With government funding (perhaps diverted from the massive budgets for maintaining the occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq, subsidising the arms trade, and developing tactical nuclear weapons) this education could be made free, thus avoiding the reliance on big business for extra cash, and ending their stranglehold on our education.
However, appeals to the government or the University are unlikely to be listened to. The lack of progress of campaigns requesting the transfer of the University’s investments to ethically-managed portfolios, and to banish Coca-Cola from campus, have failed to make an impact on University management. Likewise, we are unlikely to be supported by our NUS executive, which has failed to show collective solidarity with student and staff struggles. Indeed, many NUS exec members embody the unthinking careerism that we are struggling to avoid.
It seems that the most effective action will come from us, the students, directly. We need to challenge those who would support corporate involvement in our education, within our departments and at the level of University management. By increasing our fellow students’ awareness about the companies that exploit people and environment, we can build movements against their presence on campus. We could form unions of rent-payers, to ensure that landlords are requesting reasonable amounts, boycott corporate vending machines in favour of home-grown lunches, provide information on the few remaining free spaces in the city. Who knows, we could even occupy the Vice-Chancellor’s office, a library building, or our classrooms, and start providing our own education. The struggle for free education is about to begin…

Resources for further action
Nottingham Student Peace Movement
Corporate Watch
Education Not For Sale

Saturday, April 08, 2006

What race does a racist have to be?

The British National Party is apparently in uproar over the selection of a supposedly 'ethnic' candidate. Leader Nick Griffin would like the party to become more racially inclusive, providing equal opportunities to become a fascist scumbag. (provided you're not too 'ethnic', of course - members are reassured that the candidate in question is 'not a Pakistani Muslim.) Sharif Gawad, a 'totally assimilated Armenian Christian' whose mum is a fan of Omar Sharif, has jumped at the chance to seize such an opportunity. The BNP rank and file, meanwhile, are less than enthusiastic, questioning the point of joining a racist organisation if one then has to be racially tolerant .
I'm stuck deciding which element of the above story is the most mind-boggling.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Anti-Semites are fuckwits

[Cross-posted from the Disillusioned kid for your delectation.]

Ilam Halimi was a 23-year old mobile phone salesman who lived in Paris. His apparently normal life was shattered when he was kidnapped by a gang apparently calling themselves "The Barbarians," who held him for 24 days, tortured him before dumping him near a train station in the parisian suburb of Bagneux, leaving him to die. In and of itself this is nasty enough and not to be encouraged. What has given the brutal abduction added potency, however, is the perception that it was motivated by anti-Semitism.

Nicholas Sarkozy told the National Assembly, "The truth is that these crooks acted primarily for sordid and vile motives, to get money, but they were convinced that 'the Jews have money', and if those they kidnapped didn't have money, their family and their community would come up with it. That's called anti-Semitism by amalgam." While not exactly renowned for his contribution to race relations Sarko appears to be on the right lines here, particularly if claims that the woman accused of seducing him for the gang was told to focus her efforts on Jewish men, turn out to be correct.

Encouragingly the whole affair has been greeted by widespread revulsion in France which has been expressed in the time-honoured French fashion of holding a large-scale demonstration. Rather less encouraging is attempts to capitalise on popular concerns on the part of the far-right Mouvement pour la France (MPF) whose leader Philippe de Villiers tried to attend but was greeted by cries of "racist" and had to be removed by what Ha'aretz describes as "guards". Worryingly it also appears that organisers had hoped to invite Jean-Marie Le Pen of the neo-Fascist Front National (FN), only relenting after "sharp opposition" from unnamed lefties.

It might seem strange that a right-wing fucktard like Le Pen who is not averse to dabbling in Judeophobia's murky waters himself and famously dismissed the gas chambers as "a point of detail," should want to have anything to do with a march against anti-Semitism, but if you think about it, it serves his short-term interests. The kidnappers appear to have been immigrants from the suburbs, one suspect even fled to the Ivory Coast. And there have been suggestions that some of them were linked to Muslim and/or Palestinian organisations. These are exactly the group whom the FN have been directing their ire against in recent years, tapping into apparently widespread anti-immigrant sentiment and Islamophobia.

This sort of things isn't without precedent. Recall that during the General Election in the UK the BNP fielded a Jewish candidate. Patricia Richardson who campaigned on an anti-immigration ticket and claimed, "The Jews and the British now share the same enemy — the al-Qaeda terrorists who we know are often hidden in Britain illegally plotting against the West. Both have an interest in the much tougher stand on law and order that we in the BNP are promoting." While the decision caused considerable controversy within the ranks it doesn't appear to have hurt the party terminally (unfortunately).

At the risk of unduly generalising from the specific I wish to suggest that these moves on the part of the French and British branches of the Adolf Hitler fan club serve to illustrate the extent to which anti-Semitism and Islamophobia feed off each other. Over the last few years there have been a series of reports pointing to a rise in one or the other. Recall also that while France is today dealing with concerns about anti-Semitism, only a few months back racism targetted against the immigrant populations - most of them black and Arab - led to rioting accross the country. All too rarely have people drawn the connections.

Clearly the Israel-Palestine conflict plays a part here, but that's an essay in itself (one I may get around to writing someday). While I don't want to get bogged down in the issues surrounding the Israeli occupation here, I will note in passing that accusations of anti-Semitism levelled against anybody with the temerity to criticise Israeli policy has created a situation whereby the Left (such as it is) seems has developed a blindspot around the issue. This is - to put it lightly - unfortunate. Anti-Semitism remains as contemptible, unjustifiable and as dangerous as ever. It is the enemy of the Palestinian solidarity movement and it is the enemy of anybody interested in building a better world.

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Thursday, March 02, 2006

Relief blogging service

Bonjour from EloH/Nella, the new member of the Peace Pipe team. How much of a 'relief' i'm going to be remains to be seen, since i don't have much more time than D or DK, but i will try. Since those two have a tendency to quote me on everything from Holocaust denial to the correct preperation of a tofu baby (not connected!) i guess i'd better defer to their judgement on this one.
As with the other PP bloggers, my posts will stem from my opinions rather than some kind of party line - so don't blame the others for anything i say, or vice versa.
Having said that, there will be some effort on my part to be one of the team. If you want to see me being, well, me, then visit me at the world of the Dynamite Lady. Otherwise, just watch this space for my first attempt at a proper post.