Elson-Watkins, Rebecca

Rebecca Elson-Watkins
1 June 2022Comment

The Government needs to stop gaslighting those suffering from 'invisible illnesses' like Gulf War Syndrome, argues Rebecca Elson Watkins

On 11 May, thousands of veterans of the First Gulf War of 1991, those affected with Gulf War Syndrome, were vindicated.

After over 30 years of official denial and gaslighting, the cause of the veterans’ suffering has finally been identified: sarin gas.

Odourless, tasteless and wildly fatal (a few drops on bare skin can kill), sarin is one of the most toxic chemical weapons known to humankind. Unknown amounts of sarin (and other chemical weapons) were released into Iraqi air…

1 April 2022Comment

Rebecca Elson-Watkins celebrates the London LGBTQ+ Community Centre

I am a sixth-generation Londoner, on my father’s side. It is home, in every sense of the word. Yet London can be a lonely place; try and strike up a conversation on the bus or in most cafes and chances are, you’ll be rewarded with a funny look or a raised eyebrow 

(I personally favour the latter, for the record).

There are few places where this rule doesn’t hold true, and they are beyond precious.

Since last December, London has had another one of these welcoming, strike…

1 February 2022Comment

Rebecca Elson-Watkins puts her rage into words

I’m getting to the point where my thoughts on Boris Johnson’s government are usually expressed in a series of unintelligible, exasperated groans. But for you, PN readers, I will attempt to put my rage, my contempt and my disgust into words.

On 20 May 2020, as the country was in the depths of the first kockdown, Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson and his cohort, including his wife and his newborn son, were ‘making the most of the lovely weather’ with cheese and wine in the…

1 December 2021Comment

A letter to Fibromyalgia

Dear Fibromyalgia,

You woke me up three times last night. When sleep finally came, my careful, conscious positioning of my body went out the window. And so, you woke me with pain. When I finally woke at an appropriate hour, you greeted me instantly; my constant, demanding companion. Over the night, carefully-maintained joints and muscles have stiffened, the previous day’s physiotherapy undone.

I feel like I haven’t slept – non-restorative sleep is typical with fibromyalgia.…

1 October 2021Comment

A call for solidarity with ordinary Afghans

I don’t think I am in alone in watching in absolute horror as the rest of the world has abandoned Afghanistan to the Taliban. Our government, with many others, has betrayed their democracy, and abandoned them to a theocratic regime with a reputation for brutality, especially towards women and girls.

For the past 20 years our Afghan sisters have made great strides towards equality. They formed a national cricket team, competed in the Olympics and won awards for their scientific work.…

1 October 2021News

London demo calls for Johnson to 'stop stalling on LGBT+ rights'

On 24 July, 2,500 members of the LGBT+ community gathered in Parliament Square in Central London for a #ReclaimPride march.

Organised by legendary gay rights activist Peter Tatchell, the demonstration had five key demands: ban LGBT+ conversion therapy; reform the Gender Recognition Act; ensure a safe haven for LGBT+ refugees fleeing persecution; decriminalise LGBT+ people worldwide; and, finally, solidarity with Black Lives Matter.

Before a march to Hyde Park, Peter Tatchell…

1 October 2021News

Rebecca Elson-Watkins is a Londoner, an activist and a writer. She's probably on some sort of watchlist as a rabble-rousing peacenik.

As part of the two weeks of protest against the Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEI) arms fair held in London’s ExCeL Centre, Stop the Arms Fair organised a Festival of Resistance on 11 September. They were joined by activists from Extinction Rebellion (XR), Campaign Against the Arms Trade (CAAT), Trident Ploughshares and others – there were even jointly-produced flyers available in the information tent (along with copies of PN). The XR activists I talked to all spoke…

1 August 2021Comment

Our children can't continue to pay the price for Tory austerity, argues Rebecca Elson-Watkins

As I write this, BBC News is reporting the fatal stabbings of a 15-year-old and a 16-year-old in different parts of South London, within hours of each other. Another 15-year-old child has been arrested for one of the murders.

So far, 21 teenagers have been murdered in London in 2021.

As we ease out of lockdown, our old social problems are resurfacing with a vengeance.

Personally, I think the blame falls…

1 August 2021Feature

To mark the premiere of a new Netflix documentary, Hating Peter Tatchell, we interviewed the legendary human rights activist

Peace News: How did your early life shape your worldview, and your activism?

Peter Tatchell: I grew up in a conservative, working-class family in Melbourne, Australia, in the 1950s, ’60s. My parents were devout evangelical Christians, with no interest in social issues.

My mother remarried when I was six. I suffered a lot of violence at the hands of my stepfather; even forcing me to work long hours in his backyard farm. My mother could not leave him; there were no refuges or…

1 August 2021News

UK 'debasing natural justice' says Amnesty International

On 14 July, the UK government announced proposals to end all prosecutions for crimes committed during Northern Ireland’s ‘Troubles’ – and all related civil cases, inquests and complaints about police wrongdoing.

One effect would be that no British military personnel – or loyalist or republican paramilitaries – could be prosecuted for murdering civilians, so long as their crimes were committed before the 1998 Good Friday Agreement.

Out of the 3,600 people killed during the…

20 July 2021Comment

We need to talk more about death, argues Rebecca Elson-Watkins

We need to talk about death. Even as I write this sentence, I can almost hear PN readers groan ‘what, more?! Haven’t we talked about death enough in the past year?!’ But, yes, we must talk about death. We must talk about death on both micro and macro scales.

On the micro scale, the past year has painfully reminded many people, including myself, that the only two things we are assured of in life are death and taxes. I have come to the conclusion that we have absolutely nothing…

6 July 2021Feature

Climate action around the UK

The United Nations will host the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow from 1–12 November, COVID-19 permitting. Climate emergency activists and campaigners up and down the UK are planning actions to take advantage of the fact that the biggest climate summit since the 2015 Paris Agreement is happening on their doorsteps.

Greenpeace UK told us that they were going to be …

6 July 2021Comment

Rebecca Elson-Watkins celebrates Russell T Davies' new TV series It's a Sin

It’s not often a work of televised fiction comes along that I would call important.

Watching Russell T Davis’ new five-part miniseries, It’s A Sin, for me, ‘important’ was the only word to describe it. 

The series focuses on the lives of a group of young, gay men and their friends, in London during the height of the AIDS crisis in Britain. It’s A Sin is, unsurprisingly given the topic, tough viewing; I am not ashamed to admit I wept.

I was born in…

4 July 2021Comment

Trump's trial should be used to put the truth about Trumpism before the US people

On 6 January, something happened in Washington DC that has not happened since the US-UK War of 1812. The Capitol building, that instantly-recognisable symbol of US democracy, was stormed by Donald Trump supporters. 

I watched, agog, as many of the same people who called peaceful BLM protesters ‘thugs’ donned assault rifles, gas masks and body armour, and attempted to reverse the results of a legitimate federal election. 

Rhetoric has consequences. 

Just like the ‘Stab in…

11 December 2020Comment

We must take COVID-19 just as seriously as our grandparents took polio

I’m going to say it – I love vaccinations. I was among the first generation of my maternal bloodline that did not have someone contract tuberculosis. The addition of the BCG vaccination to the British vaccination schedule in 1950, and the herd immunity it resulted in, is most likely the reason my peers and I were spared.

My grandmother, ‘Mam’ to me, suffered polio as a child. I grew up hearing stories of how her childhood was spent in calliper-style leg braces, her life a whirlwind of…