International solidarity

1 December 2019News

Solidarity with jailed independence campaigners

Aberystwyth stands with Catalonia. Photo: Marian Delyth

On 17 October, Aberystwyth locals gathered in solidarity with the Catalan people after the Spanish supreme court sentenced nine political prisoners to nine to 13 years in prison for their involvement in the 2017 Catalan independence referendum.

The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention had called on Spain to release the prisoners, conduct an independent investigation to identify public officials responsible…

1 June 2019News

Italian dock workers and French human rights groups take anti-war action

Saudi arms ship Bahri Yanbu was deterred from loading weapons in France and Italy in May, after taking on six containers of Belgian arms in Antwerp on 3 May. (The ship also stopped in London’s Tilbury Docks on 7 May, but it is not known what was loaded.)

Yemen is the worst humanitarian crisis in the world, with 12 million people on the verge of starvation. Britain sold almost a fifth of Saudi Arabia’s weapons imports between 2013–2018, while France sold four percent of them,…

1 June 2019News

300 in hunger strike over Turkish state’s treatment of Kurdish leader

Support for Imam Şiş, the Kurdish activist living in Newport, has grown as his hunger strike in solidarity with jailed Kurdish leader Abdullah Öcalan reaches the limits of human endurance.

Alongside 300 of his compatriots, Imam is on an indefinite hunger strike to protest the Turkish state’s treatment of Öcalan, who has been held mostly in solitary confinement by the Turkish government since 1999 and denied access to lawyers and family.

Imam began his hunger strike on 19…

1 April 2019News

300+ demand end to oil sponsorship

Photo: Diana More / BP or not BP?

On 16 February, more than 300 activists (using 200 metres of black cloth) took over the British Museum in London in a performance protest against the sponsorship of an exhibition by BP, the oil and gas company. Protestors drew attention to BP’s role in the 2003 Iraq war and its contribution to climate change, holding a banner: ‘The British Museum – proudly sponsored by climate change.’

1 February 2019News

Convictions for activism-related offences could lead to some European activists being forced to leave the UK

Let’s be aware that our international friends might need our support in all sorts of ways during Brexit chaos.

Being convicted for peace actions may stop activists from the remaining 27 EU countries from continuing to live in the UK.

If they want to have ‘settled’ status and remain in the UK after Brexit, EU27 citizens will have to answer three ‘simple’ questions online, according to the home office.

People will be asked to: show who they are; prove that they…

1 February 2019Comment

'I was a stranger and you welcomed me'

Just before the prime minister’s plans for leaving, or not leaving, the European Union were voted on in the Westminster parliament, there was a very large gathering, rather noisy but not violent, in London’s Parliament Square. Union Jacks and European Star flags were there in about equal numbers.

Only a few hundred yards away, outside the home office, there was a very much smaller and quieter gathering – only 10 of us. A vigil rather than a demonstration. We were there to call for…

1 October 2018News in Brief

On 15 September, Bahraini exile Ali Mushaima ended his 46-day liquid-only hunger strike in front of the Bahraini embassy. He had been fasting in solidarity with his 70-year-old father, imprisoned Bahraini opposition leader Hassan Mushaima, an Amnesty prisoner of conscience. During his fast, Ali lost two-and-a-half stone (16kg), and was hospitalised briefly.

Ali’s father, Hassan Mushaima, has serious medical conditions including diabetes. After he refused to wear a prison uniform…

1 December 2017News

Cymru Cuba celebrates 35th anniversary

On 7 November, the first centenary of the Bolshevik revolution in Russia and the 35th anniversary of Cymru Cuba’s foundation, Denbigh Town Hall was host to a historic first visit to Wales.

A full house of 400 people gathered to hear Dr Aleida Guevara, daughter of the Argentinian-born guerrilla fighter Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara, passionately calling for unity among the left. She emphasised love as the heart of the revolution, evidenced by Cuba’s tradition of sending medical staff when…

1 February 2017News

Welsh activists spend week in La Linière refugee camp

Image La Linière refugee camp near Dunkirk, France. Photo: Mid-Wales Refugee Action


Lotte Reimer: In December, a group of volunteers from Mid-Wales Refugee Action went to work at La Linière refugee camp near Dunkirk, France. Mainly from Machynlleth and the surrounding area, they brought much needed supplies of sleeping bags, blankets and clothes donated by people across mid-Wales. For a week, they volunteered with Kesha Niya, a…

1 February 2017Comment

A trip to Cuba inspires Gill Knight

Going to Cuba, for me, is a journey both in space and time. It’s 45-odd years since I wrote a thesis on Fidel Castro and the revolution as part of my certificate in education – the 1970s were definitely a more liberal age!

Over the decades, travel to Cuba has been on ‘my list’ and at last I go, prompted by the accounts of Unite the Community Union comrades.

Like them, I join a tour with ICAP, the Cuban Institute for Friendship with the Peoples, an organisation that…

1 August 2016Review

Zed Books, 2015; 336pp; £18.99

As a call for collective liberation against systemic forms of oppression, solidarity remains one of the left’s most powerful and enduring ideas. However, while the notion has been mobilised by a wide range of activist struggles over the centuries, this has often occurred without a clear articulation of what it means in practice.

In recent years, there has been a proliferation of critiques and studies examining what it means to be an ally and how one goes about effective solidarity…

1 December 2015Feature

An excerpt from Andrea Needham’s amazing new book, The Hammer Blow – how 10 women disarmed a warplane, to be published by Peace News in January

On 29 January 1996, Jo Blackman, Lotta Kronlid and Andrea Needham broke into a British Aerospace factory in Lancashire and used household hammers to disarm a Hawk warplane bound for Indonesia. They were arrested, charged with £2.4m of criminal damage, and sent to prison to await trial. A week later, Angie Zelter joined them, accused of conspiracy. After six months in prison, all four were acquitted by a Liverpool jury in a court case that effectively put Britain’s arms trade on trial.…

1 August 2015News

Swedish ship boarded & passengers detained

Marianne av Göteborg arrives in Palermo, Sicily. Photo: FREEDOM FLOTILLA COALITION

At 2am on 29 June, Marianne, one of four boats bound for Gaza in the latest attempt to break the Israeli siege, was surrounded by three Israeli navy boats while in international waters 85 miles from the Gaza coast, according to Freedom Flotilla organisers.

The Swedish ship was boarded and searched by Israeli soldiers who detained all 18 people on board. Organisers described this an ‘act…

1 February 2015News in Brief

Human rights activist Nabeel Rajab was sentenced to six months in prison on 20 January, for insulting the government of Bahrain on Twitter. He was arrested in October and detained for a month, after tweeting about reports that members of Bahrain’s security forces had joined Islamic State in Iraq. Rajab is free on bail as he appeals.

Rajab said that human rights defenders across the Gulf region ‘are not only the victims of the repression of our own governments but also the victims…

25 November 2014Review

Lexington Books, 2014; 222pp; £51.95

The school exercise books in Mozambique used to have an exhortation on the cover. In Portuguese, they said 'Let us study and make of our learning an instrument of the liberation of the people.' This was, in the years after independence and during the attacks by South African backed bandits, a stark reminder of the need for the young to put 'back' into society, to build the nation.

Tanja Müller has written a fascinating and moving book about one little known aspect of Mozambique's…