Iranian refugee wins cartooning award

Have you heard the story of a detainee in Papua New Guinea who has won cartooning award?
Ali, an Iranian refugee held at Papua New Guinea Manus Island detention centre, and whose pen name is Eaten Fish, drew cartoons to depict life inside the camp. Ali struggles with obsessive compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder and debilitating panic attacks and he has been held there for 3 years now.

A cartoon by Ali, an Iranian refugee held at Papua New Guinea's Manus Island detention centre whose pen name is Eaten Fish, is seen in this image supplied to Reuters on August 27, 2016.     Eaten Fish/Handout via REUTERS

According to Reuters;

”Under Australia’s hardline immigration policy, anyone intercepted trying to reach the country by boat is sent for processing to camps on Manus or Nauru in the South Pacific. They are not eligible to be resettled in Australia.

A cartoon by Ali, an Iranian refugee held at Papua New Guinea's Manus Island detention centre whose pen name is Eaten Fish, is seen in this image supplied to Reuters on August 27, 2016.   Eaten Fish/Handout via REUTERS

Cartoonists Rights Network International (CRNI) said Ali was recognized for his courage in documenting life under Australia’s offshore detention program – which drew thousands of protesters onto streets across the country on Saturday calling for its closure.

“Eaten Fish has been able to keep up a stream of cartoons documenting the unspeakable abuses and excesses of the guards and administrators of the camp,” Joel Pett, president of CRNI’s board of directors, said in a statement on Friday.

“For this he has been the subject of beatings, deprivation of food, and even worse degrading treatment by the guards.”

Australia’s Department of Immigration and Border Protection denied the claims made by CRNI and defended the care provided at the facility.

“The department currently has no evidence that any of these allegations are true,” a spokesman said in an email to Reuters.

Australia and Papua New Guinea said earlier this month the Manus center would be shut but they gave no date for the closure, leaving the fate of about 800 refugees unclear.”

(Reporting by Harry Pearl; Editing by Stephen Coates)

Guardian reports on asylum houses in London

Watch the video here

I have been to this house a few times to visit a friend of mine who is an asylum seeker and lives in a single room with her daughter. The little girl, age 5,  is suffering from Arthritis and she is going to school this year. When I went there I was shocked to see al the children living in such condition. One of them was autistic and lived in a little room with his mother. There was hardly one meter room for them to play, no garden , no toys.

According to Guardian,  dozens of vulnerable asylum seeker women and children are living in filthy, overcrowded and dangerous conditions in Home Office accommodation in west London. The owner of the property lives next door in very different conditions. Hounslow council is now carrying out an official inspection after the Guardian raised concern.

 

Ruth’s story: One child refugee’s journey from Eritrea to England by BBC

 

Ruth is helping her mum on the family farm
Ruth is helping her mum on the family farm

According to BBC three-thousand children arrived in the UK alone last year. Many of them are migrants or refugees escaping war or devastation in their home countries. They’ve travelled thousands of miles across deserts, mountains and seas. When they get to the UK they are often tired and afraid. They are taken by immigration officers or police to a safe place where they are asked lots of questions.

This is so that the people in charge can understand how old the child is, where they have come from and what they will need to keep them healthy and safe. If the child is under 17, they are given leave to remain, which means they can stay in the UK and will be looked after until they are old enough to look after themselves.

This often means they are placed with a foster family who look after them as though they are part of their family. They can start going to a local school and they can start to make a life for themselves here in the UK.

Many of the children stay around Kent and Dover in the south of England because that is where they first arrive. In the past year Kent has placed nearly 1,000 children in homes in that area.

Ruth is one of them. She came all over from Eritrea on her own. She now goes to college and has many friends. She wants to become a nurse.

Read her story here

Journey Festival International Open Day

 

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Another festival for refugees in Manchester.

Journeys Festival International celebrates the extraordinary creativity, culture and experiences that refugees bring to the UK. Managed by ArtReach and established in Leicester in 2013, the festival will be developing strands of work in Manchester this October, with a view to hosting full festivals in 2017 and beyond. Working across a wide range of creative media and disciplines, Journeys Festival International aims to bring the exceptional talent of local, national and international refugee artists into the public eye. 

Strands of work that will be brought to Manchester in 2016 (and beyond) include:

·         Look Up – a visual exhibition uniting the public realm with art in iconic cityscape locations. If you are an artist, there is scope to develop work for the 2017 exhibition or beyond.

·         The Container Project – presenting installations, visual arts and pop-up performances based in and around a shipping container, symbolic of export and transference of place. There will be opportunities to display work, perform and engage with the activities going on in this space.

·         Coffee Shop Conversations – an opportunity for the public to discuss and exchange views with refugees and refugee artists over the domestic ritual of coffee and cake. There will be opportunities to participate in these sessions as speakers and chair persons to lead the discussions.

·         Manchester Museum – Journeys Festival International Take Over – on Saturday 8 October Manchester Museum will be taken over by a host of Journeys Festival International activity. There will be exhibitions, performance, activities and storytelling curated by Manchester Museum/Portsmouth University department of Psychological Sciences. There will also be a Coffee Shop Conversation, pop up theatre performances and interactive, digital kite flying.
The open day is your chance to find out more and make links with the festival organisers. Light refreshments will be provided.

To book your place, please email katherine@can.uk.com or text 07533 568 672.                                

Refugee week and festivities

Refugee week is coming and there is a lot going on here across the Greater Manchester.

We went to Bristol to take part in the Community Theatre Festival #Actatheatre, 2016. Our show  is being supported by #CAN, Community Arts North West and it’s a project for refugee women. We are a group of 7 women from different countries and we shared our stories during a few workshops held in Manchester city centre.  The director Rany Morthy made them into the script and gave us instructions on how to act.

Our first performance was a bit of a shock to me as it was my first time being on stage and I could hear the sound of my heartbeat in my ears. I kept telling myself that this is just fun and try to enjoy it. Audience was incredible and they really supported us to towards the end.

I also had a chance to see other shows and meet fantastic Caribbean women and their show @Moonshine Nights which was one of the best performances I have seen. They filled us with  joy and laughter for more than one hour and they acted so naturally and authentically.

The next show was a street performance by two incredible women from London. There were some other shows to watch but we had to come hack to Manchester, getting ready for our next performance which is going to be in Z-Arts on 22th of June.   

The whole process was fun and for me kind of therapy to relieve myself from bad experiences I have had during the last few years.

To book for the show click here

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Standing in My Own Truth

I am honored to be part of CAN theatre project as co-writer and actress. Book your ticket if you like to see amateur women telling their Lie and True stories.

Book online or call: 0161 232 6089

Read from CAN website:

In a world of half truths and lies, when is it safe to own one’s true destiny?
Brought to you as part of CAN’s Refugee and Migrant Women’s Theatre Programme, Standing in My Own Truth is a cross-art exploration of the brave, often circuitous journey towards one’s own destiny. Making a new life in a baffling city that offers sanctuary but no peace of mind. Liberated from the shackles of the old life but still yearning for a time of innocence in a land now too far away. But always finding time for joy in a song or two.

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Deportation of refugees to turkey from today 4th of april

Sad news for refugees in Greece.

Deportation of refugees from Greece to Turkey begins today under the EU deal. According to this agreement people who apply for asylum in Greece and  have their applications refused,  will be returned to Turkey. Today 200 migrants from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan were sent back to Turkey.

Aegean_Sea_map

One reason behind this deal is to stop human trafficking  across the Aegean and The Mediterranean and therefore to stop death toll in the most deadliest sea crossings. It has been said that so far this year, the death toll has climbed at an even faster rate than over the same period in 2015. However, following the belated decision by Europe’s leaders in late April to reinstate an effective search and rescue mission, this has for the time being been stemmed.

Those migrants who are attempting this perilous journey to Europe mainly come from Eritrea, Afghanistan, Somalia and Nigeria. But by far the single largest number by nationality is Syrian.

The EU is paying Turkey more than £4 billion over the next three years to contain 2.5 million refugees. However the deal to send people back across the Aegean Sea has been fiercely criticised by rights groups on ethical grounds. The Spectator leading article reiterates that ” the problem,  is that Turkey is being offered more than money. The EU, in its desperation, says that within a few months it will offer Turkey’s 77 million citizens the ability to travel to any of its 28 member states without the need for a visa. Worse, it will fast-track Turkey’s application to become a full member of the EU — and turn a blind eye to the human rights abuses of Recep Erdogan’s regime. Not that he wants to join the EU: he just wants to show his domestic audience that can behave how he likes, lock up who he likes, and have the EU eating out of his hand.”

 

 

Refugee Engagement Event/ Conversation in Moss Side

Greater Manchester is taking control of £6 billion of public funding for health and social from April 2016.

This will involve making decisions about some of the most important things in our lives – such as health and social care. It will also mean that transfer of certain powers and responsibilities from national government to all 37 NHS Trusts and Local Authorities in Greater Manchester.

Manchester Refugee Support Network is working across Greater Manchester to ensure that refugee voices are heard. They want to help build a collective understanding of what hinders or helps refugees and people seeking asylum from taking charge of their health and well being and making healthy choices, so they need your thoughts and experiences.

This event happening tomorrow Saturday 19th March, 11 am – 3 pm At: St James Church, Princess Road, Moss Side, Manchester, M14 4TH

Refreshments and travel expenses will be provided.

People from all parts of Gtr Manchester are strongly encouraged to attend this event.

For further details contact Belay Kahsay on 01618680777

Email: belay”mrsn.or.uk

You could go online and answer a few questions about your health;

http;//takingchargetogether.org.uk/?grp=Refugees.

 

What 8th March Means to Me

I have been asked by Migrants Supporting Migrants to write an essay for International Woman’s day. I took the opportunity to talk about some women who have been in jail or still in jail due to their humanitarian or civil activities.

”Another 8th of March has arrived and the international woman’s day is cherished in many counties around the world. However while we , in the west, celebrate this day, there are millions of women in developing or dictatorship countries who can’t commemorate simply because their government sees it as a political act and a threat against itself.

I want to take this opportunity to introduce you a few brave Iranian women who fight for women rights in Iran and have been in jail for that matter. Some still in jail as Prisoners of Conscience. Because 8th of march is their day as well and it’s true that without such brave women and their fight for equal rights we would not have had what we got now.

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Nasrin Sotoudeh

Nasrin Sotoudeh is a human rights lawyer and activist in Iran, the winner of many human rights awards.

She has represented imprisoned Iranian opposition activists and politicians following the disputed June 2009 Iranian presidential elections as well as prisoners sentenced to death for crimes committed when they were minors.
Nasrin’s first work in the field of women’s rights was a diverse collection of interviews, reports, and articles for the journal Daricheh. The editor-in-chief of the publication rejected the collection which “made Sotoudeh even more determined in her work for women’s rights”. She is one of the key leaders of one million signature.

One Million Signatures for the Repeal of Discriminatory Laws, also known as Change for Equality, is a campaign by women in Iran to collect one million signatures in support of hanging discriminatory laws against women in their country.

Nasrin has been arrested a few times. Last time she was arrested in September 2010 on charges of spreading propaganda and conspiring to harm state security and was imprisoned in solitary confinement in Evin Prison.

In January 2011, Iranian authorities sentenced her to 11 years in prison, in addition to barring her from practicing law and from leaving the country for 20 years. An appeals court later reduced Sotoudeh’s prison sentence to six years, and her ban from working as a lawyer to ten years.

In jail, she went on hunger strike two times. First strike was to protest being denied visits and phone calls from her family which last four weeks. Again on 17 October 2012, she began an indefinite hunger strike in protest of new restrictions placed on her family visits. She her hunger strike after 49 days following a short visit of some parliament members at Evin prison where they acknowledged and implemented her requests on lifting her daughter’s travel ban.

Nasrin was released on 18 September 2013 along with ten other political prisoners days before an address by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani
to the United Nations. She has been active since her release and is being threatened by hardliners.


Read the rest of the story on the following link;

http://www.migrantechoes.org.uk/news/category/iran

the heartbreaking story of syrian refugees by Richard Flanagan

Today I read a story beautifully written on Syrian refugees by Booker prize winner Richard Flanagan in Guardian.  He visits Lebanon, Greece and Serbia to report on the plight of the 5 million Syrians fleeing their country. The story tells how families had to pack and flee their home after ISIS had appeared from nowhere; inexplicable situations which  the pen is incapable of describing.

He asked children to draw their homes in Syria and every single of them used dark colours , blue and black. One of them said ” there were no colour left after Daesh came”.

The story ends very touching ;  ”Refugees are not like you and me. They are you and me. That terrible river of the wretched and the damned flowing through Europe is my family.”

Read this unique story here;

He has also made a short film in which he shows the pictures of refugee camps in Lebanon. You can watch the video here.