Category Archives: Issues

Refugee Week – events, films and awareness raising!

Refugee Week has started!  Check out the list of events and get involved.

I’m looking forward to seeing Leave to Remain

Omar is an Afghan teenager who’s waiting for a decision to be made on his asylum application.

What are you going to do or see this Refugee Week?


International Labour Organisation video on Forced Labour.


Qatar migrant workers ‘treated like animals’ 

Also a problem in the UK. Report from the Joshep Rowntree Foundation about FORCED LABOUR’S BUSINESS MODELS AND SUPPLY CHAINS. Article in the Guardian Forced labour in the UK: ‘There was no escape. I lived every day in fear’

Australia’s treatment of refugees breaches International Obligations

Australia have done everything legally possible to prevent asylum seekers from being able to make a claim. The pictures below are taken from a comic designed to put off potential asylum seekers. The comic portrays a deep sense of hostility towards refugees.

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Australian government targets asylum seekers with graphic campaign while it has been criticised Green immigration spokeswoman Senator Sarah Hanson-Young described the graphic novel as “fear-mongering propaganda”, adding that it “fails to even acknowledge that the vast majority of refugees are felling war, torture and terror”. This is just one of the measures Australia has taken in an attempt to limit their liability under the 1951 Refugee Convention. A key part of this appears to be refusing to acknowledge the distinction between economic migrants and refugees. The comic portrays the motivation to move to Australia as being based on financial reasons rather than a “well founded fear of persecution”.

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The comic shows offshore processing camps as being rife with disease and stress. The story today that in Australia asylum: One killed in violence at PNG camp shows that these conditions are not exaggerated. Australia has a duty to respect the human rights of people while they are waiting for an assessment. Australia is failing to meet international obligations under the Refugee Convention.

There has long been concerns about the legality of the offshore processing camps. In Analysis: Australia’s offshore asylum process Benjamin Pynt, the director of Humanitarian Research Partners, based in Australia, told IRIN. “This policy will see asylum seekers sent to Nauru [in the Pacific] or Manus Island [Papua New Guinea (PNG)] before having their refugee status assessed in a move Australia hopes will circumvent its international human rights obligations,” Amnesty International has also published a report about Australia: Asylum seekers held in cruel and prison-like regime on Manus Island.

LGBT Lives in Russia and Lithuania: Queer Cinema and Associated Events. Edinburgh and Glasgow (11-23 February)

A roundtable discussion between Olgerta Kharitonova and Sabine Hoffmann (joint editors of Ostrov, the oldest Russian lesbian magazine), Olya Kurachyova (journalist and representative of Side by Side) and Dr Vikki Turbine (University of Glasgow) and chaired by Dr Francesca Stella (University of Glasgow) raised many interesting points and insights into the LGBT Situation in Russia.

Particularly the current law that children (under 18) must not be exposed to neutral or positive portrayal of same sex relations so not to impede their natural development. This law is broader in scope than Section 28 was in the UK as it is not confined to education, but includes the media. The possibility of new more restrictive laws was a concern once the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics was finished. There was particular worries that the custody of children with same sex parents could be affected.

This was followed by short documentaries and social advertising in the form of public information films. Side by Side is the only LGBT film festival in Russia.

There are events on the 22nd and 23rd of February. Tickets for Documentary Double-Bill – They Hate Me in Vain: LGBT Christians in Today’s Russia + Not With Us are available at Summerhall. More information at Edinburgh Film Guild website.

Hate Crime Series Overview


A hate crime is: ‘Any hate incident, which constitutes a criminal offence, perceived by the victim or any other person, as being motivated by prejudice or hate based on a person’s disability, gender-identity, race, religion or belief, or sexual orientation.”

Hate crimes can include: threatening behaviour, assault, robbery, damage to property, inciting others to commit hate crimes, harassment

A hate incident is: ‘Any non-crime incident which is perceived by the victim or any other person, as being motivated by hostility or prejudice based on a person’s disability, gender-identity, race, religion or belief, or sexual orientation.”

This Series will focus on charities, current campaigns, resources, educational activities and experiences of hate crime.

The Law Commission for England and Wales is currently reviewing the Hate law system and will publish their final report in Spring 2014. Find out more about the Law Commissions’s project here.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Workshop ideas for Children

A video of the full speech. I used the section below for the workshop to keep it appropriate for the children who were aged 5-10.

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the colour of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day right down in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today.

Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania.

Let freedom ring from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado.

Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California.

But not only that, let freedom, ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia.

Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi and every mountainside.

And when this happens, when we let freedom ring, when we let it ring from every tenement and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing  “Free at last, free at last.” 

Full text version of “I have a dream…” available here.

There are so many resources available for Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The worksheets available at Family Education are great. The “Dream’s Idea Sheet” is a useful template for a poster if you want a more interactive, creative activity. We also created another poster and replaced the American places with places the children suggested, connecting the idea of freedom to their own lives.

Comprehensive overview of Martin Luther King, Jr’s speech and the historical context on the BBC History website.

I’d also recommend The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr edited by Carson, particularly the audio book as the inclusion of clips of speeches and songs helps convey the power of the movement and Martin Luther King Jr’s place in this.

Profile: Edem Children Foundation (ECF)

Edem Children Foundation (ECF) is a Nigerian charity founded  in 2007 by Comrade Edem O. Edem and Mrs Fiona Edem to promote children’s rights.

They have started an initiative called ‘The Full Stop Campaign’ which aims to protect children from abuse by awareness raising and education. They are also aiming to open an online counselling service and Child Help telephone service, to give children who have been abused a safe space to talk.

This project has been delayed from December 2013 to June 2014 due to lack of funds. If there is any way you could help by donating time or money please contact the Edem Children Foundation (ECF) by email: or through their website.