Iraq war refugees in Britain, new theatre play


This video from Britain says about itself:

Nabil Elouahabi and Rashid Razaq discuss their new play, The Nightmares of Carlos Fuentes, with Juliette Foster on Arise News, 17 July 2014.

By Joe Gill in Britain:

The power of nightmares

Tuesday 5th August 2014

Nabil Elouahabi tells JOE GILL how he came to produce and star in a new play about an Iraqi refugee in Britain

Nabil Elouahabi took the opening night bow at the Arcola Theatre in Dalston last week to loud applause for a play that he not only stars in but nurtured from an idea to its realisation.

Written by Evening Standard journalist Rashid Razaq and directed by Nicholas Kent, The Nightmares of Carlos Fuentes tells the story of an Iraqi refugee who comes to Britain and changes his name to that of the famous Mexican writer in a semi-comical attempt to disguise his Arab origins and forget the horrors of Iraq.

Told in a fragmented narrative, it’s a funny, sad and moving drama in which Carlos (born Salim) meets a rich Englishwoman called Lydia (Caroline Langrishe) while working as a waiter. He marries her but ultimately cannot escape his past — he left a wife and daughter in war-torn Baghdad.

The play opens with Carlos handcuffed to a hotel bed during a dirty weekend with Lydia — a sharp and witty two-hander in which a sex game morphs into an English history test for the would-be British citizen.

By the end we are taken full circle as the story jumps between 2006 and 2011, each scene introduced with a video speech from western political leaders, including Bush, Blair and Cameron, reminding us of the doublespeak used to justify the Iraq war.

Ultimately we see the impact of political deception in the tragedy of Carlos’s life but rather than a mere victim, his eccentricities, struggles with the language — captured brilliantly in the script and Elouahabi’s performance — and naive dreams of becoming a true Englishman keep the piece grounded at the human level.

We believe wholeheartedly that Elouahabi is Carlos/Salim — an innocent everyman caught up in brutal geopolitics.

Elouahabi is best known for his TV and film work — playing Tariq in East Enders, with parts in 24, Zero Dark Thirty and two Michael Winterbottom films — but recently he has been searching for more interesting roles than the two-dimensional terrorists he was being offered.

“I was becoming very frustrated with the parts that were available and the prism through which we see Arabs,” he says.

“I am lucky in that I do work, but that’s not to say that there isn’t a frustration that the roles you are doing are peripherals, always seen as an addition. I wanted to completely change the theatrical lens and make them the centrepiece.”

Ultimately this led to him producing The Nightmares of Carlos Fuentes, the seeds of which were born when he read a collection of short stories by Iraqi writer Hassan Blasim back in 2009.

“I’d been working with Nick Kent at the Tricycle and I was fortunate enough to be part of a trilogy of plays called The Great Game: Afghanistan. Then Nick retired and I thought he’d be an interesting person to take this piece to because it had a political dimension to it and I knew that was his brand.”

Elouahabi asked Kent if he would consider directing a play based on the Blasim story. “One of the strengths of Nicholas Kent’s direction is his ability to hang the piece on a political frame without it being didactic — it’s always through the personal. It’s about his wife, his daughter, about the human in all of us.”

Kent was moved by the story of displacement and assimilation. Next Elouahabi asked Razaq, whose work he had seen and liked, to write a script on spec. Kent was impressed with Razaq’s draft script. Two years and 20 drafts later, the play took to the stage.

“It’s the first time I’ve put on the producer’s hat,” says Elouahabi.

“For me it’s about creating the right alliance, getting the right people to do the right jobs and letting them get on with it.”

The play opened with Iraq once again in the headlines. “We’ve just recently had this surge in sectarian violence in Iraq with Isis coming through, forcing Shias and Sunnis to divorce, so this is absolutely topical right now.”

Elouahabi has recently made headlines for talking about the paucity of good roles for Arab and black actors in British drama. “For me it’s about enriching the theatrical landscape as opposed to making it exclusive,” he says.

“We all benefit from sharing stories with different people in them. There is a fear that ‘oh no, that’s a story with Arabs in it,’ but actually if the stories and characters are on the front foot, everything else is irrelevant. It’s all about the writers and the people at the top believing those stories are going to be watched.

“I’m not on a political mission, but simply from an audience perspective, why just have fish and chips? It’s like food, now we like hummus – let’s put more food on the table. Right now it’s just a bit samey samey.”

Runs until August 16. Box office (020) 7503-1646.

Refugees from the world’s conflicts came to Westminster to share their stories, writes JEREMY CORBYN: here.

Victory for refugee Orashia Edwards


This video from England says about itself:

Judgement Day – Documentary – Orashia Edwards

30 June 2014

Following on from the documentary ‘State of Limbo’- here Orashia Edwards attends his ‘Judgement Day’ hearing at Leeds Crown Court.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Bisexual asylum seeker’s deportation dropped

Thursday 3rd July 2014

PLANS to deport a Leeds asylum seeker who is escaping persecution in his country for his sexuality were yesterday dropped by Home Office immigration officials.

Orashia Edwards was due to be deported to Jamaica after being refused asylum.

But following a legal challenge, a judicial review into the refusal is to be heard next week.

Immigration officials had planned to deport him before the review was heard, but have now abandoned this idea.

Mr Edwards fled from Jamaica after being persecuted for being bisexual.

He made his home in Leeds where he has family and has become an active campaigner with the city’s LGBT community.

Emily Jennings of Leeds No Borders said the decision to cancel Mr Edwards’ flight had been taken a week ago but he had not been informed by the Home Office.

“This is yet again an example of how awfully asylum seekers are treated by the Home Office,” she said.

So, a partial victory for Orashia Edwards. However, the fight for his rights is not over yet.

Welcome to South Williamsport, Pennsylvania — the only place in America, outside of the Inhofe family, where there are no gays in the village: here.

Stop British government deporting bisexual refugee


This video from Britain is called State of Limbo – Short Documentary; about refugee Orashia Edwards.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Asylum seeker threatened with deportation before judicial review

Tuesday 24th June 2014

IMMIGRATION officials are attempting to deport a Leeds asylum-seeker a week before a judicial review of his case is held.

Campaigners in the city have rallied to support Orashia Edwards, 32, a Jamaican who fled his own country after being persecuted for being bisexual.

He settled in Leeds and applied for asylum. He has won many friends and carried out campaigning work in the city.

But asylum has been refused. He was arrested on June 12 and granted bail. The judicial review has been set for July 9 but Mr Edwards has been issued with “removal directions” for July 2.

Leeds No Borders group has mounted regular protests and demonstrations in his support and is urging campaigners to take action, including by protesting to British Airways. Details are available on the Leeds No Borders website.

The next protest against Mr Edwards’s deportation will be held outside Leeds town hall at 4.30pm on Thursday.

GAY, lesbian, bi and transsexual activists condemned “Ukipisation” of British politics yesterday as they kicked off a campaign against migrant discrimination: here.

Wars make over fifty million refugees


This video is called More Than 50 Million Refugees Worldwide, Half Of Them Children.

By Patrick Martin:

Impact of war and persecution

More than 50 million displaced persons worldwide

21 June 2014

The total number of people displaced from their homes by war and political persecution now exceeds 50 million, the highest number since World War II, according to a report issued Friday. The report was released by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

The overall total of 51.2 million displaced people includes 16.7 million refugees, 33.3 million displaced inside their country of origin, and 1.2 million seeking asylum.

The report notes that if these 51.2 million were a separate nation, it would rank 26th in the world in population, just behind South Africa and ahead of South Korea. Half of all these displaced persons are children.

Some 10.7 million people were newly displaced in the course of 2013, for an average of 32,200 every day. This includes a record 8.2 million internally displaced, the highest figure ever reported by the UNHRC, and 2.5 million new refugees, the most since the Rwanda genocide of 1994. The number of new refugees more than doubled, compared to 2011 and 2012, when there were about one million new refugees each year.

The conditions under which displaced people live are deteriorating, with fewer resettlements of refugees than in all but three other years since the UNHCR began keeping such figures in 1989.

Nearly one-fifth of the world’s displaced people come from a single conflict, the civil war in Syria, with nearly 3 million Syrian refugees in Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq and Jordan, while another 6.5 million are displaced within the country.

Syria has undergone the most dramatic change, as the report notes: “The Syrian Arab Republic has moved from being the second-largest refugee-hosting country [mainly from Iraq] to being the second-largest refugee-producing country—within a span of five years.”

The second largest displaced population, and the longest in exile, are the 5 million Palestinians, many of them descendants of those originally forced to flee in 1947 by Zionist atrocities during the establishment of the state of Israel.

Other huge refugee populations include 2.6 million Afghans, mainly in Pakistan and Iran, 1.1 million Somalis, mainly in Kenya and Ethiopia, and 1.5 million Iraqis (a total that does not include the estimated million or more displaced this month by the explosion of civil war in Sunni-populated northern and western parts of the country).

The report is largely a dry recounting of numbers of people, measured by country of origin and country of refuge, while avoiding any examination of the underlying causes of this escalating human tragedy. But some conclusions are suggested by the figures.

Nearly all the countries accounting for the largest number of refugees and internally displaced persons are those targeted by American imperialism for military violence or economic blockade, or those saddled with US-backed repressive regimes that have carried out counterinsurgency campaigns against their own people.

These include five of the six countries with the largest totals of displaced people: Syria, with 9.2 million, Colombia, with 5.8 million, Afghanistan, with 3.6 million, Sudan, 2.6 million, and Somalia 2.4 million. To these should be added Iraq, with 1.5 million, Pakistan, 934,000 (mostly from the Pashtun-populated region along the border with Afghanistan).

In the band of countries across west and central Africa, including Mali, Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, French imperialism shares responsibility with Washington.

The first two countries are former French colonies, while the Congo was destabilized largely as a consequence of the genocide in neighboring Rwanda, in which French imperialism played an odious role. The US helped trigger the crisis in Mali through the US-NATO attack on neighboring Libya, which led to a flood of Islamist insurgents and weapons across the border.

Contrary to the myths peddled by the corporate-controlled media in Europe, the United States and Australia, refugees are not flooding into the wealthy countries.

The vast majority live in impoverished Third World countries (86 percent).

Only one advanced country, Germany, has as many as half a million refugees or displaced persons. Australia, home to an ever-escalating official hysteria over refugees, has only 48,000—less than one-tenth of one percent of the world’s total.

The United States hosts less than 350,000 displaced persons, about one for every 1,000 people. Lebanon, by contrast, has 178 refugees for every 1,000 people.

British government pro-war in Syria, anti-Syrian refugees


This video about the British parliament is called UK’s David Cameron defeated on [his plans for war in] Syria.

By Will Stone in Britain:

Protesters welcome Syrian refugees as Con-Dem resettlement programme helps only 24

Tuesday 17th June 2014

Mass demonstrations hit Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, Oxford and London over government failure to support Syrian people

Mass demonstrations took place last night from Glasgow to the Home Office in Westminster under the banner “Syrian refugees welcome here” after the government revealed that only 24 had arrived in Britain under its trumpeted resettlement programme.

Millions of Syrians are seeking asylum after fleeing the conflict in their country but the government admitted last month that its “vulnerable persons relocation scheme” had only pulled in two dozen people.

Campaigners said the figure “confirms their worst fears about the government programme” and held protests in Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, Oxford and London from 6.30pm yesterday.

Luke Cooper of the Syria Solidarity Movement said the government had “been extremely reluctant to reveal these figures and now we know why: they are embarrassingly low and contradict Britain’s supposed support for the relief effort.

“The Home Office response to this catastrophe is quite disgraceful, especially seen in the context of the generous programmes of the United States, Germany and others.”

To add insult to injury Syrian refugees have reported long delays in their asylum claims when entering Britain.

It comes as Britain marks Refugee Week — an annual celebration of arts and educational events held each June to mark the huge contributions made by refugees.

More than three million Syrians have fled the country and another 6.5 million are internally displaced, the top UN agency for refugees announced Friday. At nearly ten million, the total number forced from their homes amounts to nearly half the country’s total population: here.

On Thursday, the White House asked Congress to authorize $500 million for direct US military training and equipment for Sunni insurgents fighting the Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad: here.

Syria conflict: UK planned to train and equip 100,000 rebels: here.

British plans developed in 2012 for the creation of a huge “rebel” army to march on Damascus and overthrow Syrian president Bashar al-Assad have been exposed: here.

Syrian ‘moderates’ aren’t so moderate in Iraq. Who are the ‘moderate’ rebels President Obama wants to train and arm? Here.

British government wants to deport Nigerian woman to death


This video from Britain says about itself:

FGM: Nigerian mother’s fears for two daughters if deportation goes ahead

25 April 2014

Afusat Saliu, 31, and her two children aged one and three, face deportation to Nigeria on Friday. Saliu, who was a victim of female genital mutilation (FGM) as a child, has appealed to the Home Office on the grounds that her daughters could face FGM if sent back to their home country. But her appeal was rejected on Thursday. Nigeria has the highest number of genitally mutilated women in the world.

By Paddy McGuffin in Britain:

Nigerian woman who fled FGM ‘faces death’ if deported back

Friday 30th May 2014

A WOMAN facing deportation from Britain to Nigeria risks being killed if returned to her home country, campaigners said yesterday.

Afusat Saliu was taken into custody by UK Border Agency staff on Wednesday and was scheduled to be flown back to the African country last night.

She fled to the Britain in 2011 while heavily pregnant after her stepmother threatened to subject her daughter Bassy, now four, to female genital mutilation (FGM). Her second daughter Rashidat, two, was born in London.

Ms Saliu — herself a victim of FGM — has said she fears her children will be cut and that she will be forced to marry a man against her will if she returns to her native country.

Since moving to Leeds three years ago Ms Saliu has converted to Christianity and friends and supporters fear she will be targeted by Islamist extremist group Boko Haram — the group responsible for the abduction of around 250 mainly Christian schoolgirls in northern Nigeria.

Ms Saliu’s solicitor BP Legal has launched a judicial review in a last-ditch attempt to keep her in Britain and has accused Home Office officials of ignoring their own guidelines by ordering her deportation before the review is heard.

Bhumika Parmar, her lawyer, said: “Once judicial review is issued, the Home Office rarely removes as a right to a fair hearing should be exercised.

“In fact, their own guidelines state that detention should be a last resort.”

More than 120,000 people have signed a petition calling for the Home Office to halt the deportation.

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