Neil Durkin
Neil Durkin is a Press Officer at Amnesty International UK, specialising in media relations for Amnesty on the Middle East, the USA, counter-terrorism, the death penalty, Russia & "STAN" states, Afghanistan.

Other interests include music (regular London gig-goer, sometime even get out of London), cinema (regular watcher of DVDs at home, sometime even go to the cinema), literature (subscriber to the LRB, sometime even finish reading it).

Entries by Neil Durkin

This Blog Is Not About Sport

(1) Comments | Posted 10 September 2014 | (00:00)

No, it's about protest, torture and death. Sport is just the backdrop. Starting with... the Brazil Olympics in 2016 (yes, you're probably already counting the days).

Given the widespread protests against the Brazil World Cup this summer, I can only suppose that there'll be further demonstrations against the...

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After the Islamic State Deluge, Who Will Save Iraqis?

(6) Comments | Posted 26 August 2014 | (16:44)

With news filtering out via the United Nations that Islamic State fighters may have killed some 650 prisoners they took from a Mosul jail in June, there currently seems to be no limits to the sheer horror of the group's actions.

It's almost overwhelming and it's hard...

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We Tortured Some Folks...

(0) Comments | Posted 7 August 2014 | (00:00)

Barack Obama's now rather famous phrase from the end of last week is quite something.

As others have observed, it's not the first time he's referred to the mistreatment of detainees during the USA's "war on terror" as torture (though it's still rare to hear it)....

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Do You Believe in the Death Penalty?

(21) Comments | Posted 2 August 2014 | (00:00)

When I was about 18 one of the records I bought was Do You Believe In The Westworld?, Theatre of Hate's soaring post-punk anthem. I think half of the appeal was that strange questioning title. Believe in it?

The song comes to mind (my mind anyway!) in the wake of...

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The Edgy Ambience of US Supermax Prisons

(0) Comments | Posted 16 July 2014 | (18:51)

One of the bars in London I've frequented over the years is a basement place done out with industrial-chic steel and concrete fittings. It's a small DJ venue with very few seats, but it's the seating that sticks in the mind. There are three tables made out of enormous blocks...

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Isis - Time Bandits

(13) Comments | Posted 12 July 2014 | (00:00)

There's something gloriously demented about reports (apocryphal?) that ISIS have been issuing "passports" for their self-pronounced caliphate in the Middle East.

Their message? Tear up your phony Syrian or Iraqi passport and get yourselves one of these new Islamic State passports, covered in high-quality black leather ("for...

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Russia's Ban on Swearing in the Arts - I Say Nyet!

(1) Comments | Posted 4 July 2014 | (14:55)

'There are official searchers, inquisitors ... sometimes they pick up the nearest volume and leaf through it, looking for infamous words ...' - Jorge Luis Borges, The Library of Babel

I haven't seen much media coverage of the new ban on swear words in the arts in...

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Stop Me If You've Heard This One Before - There Was This Ticking Bomb...

(0) Comments | Posted 27 June 2014 | (12:21)

Can you hear that sound? Listen. Tick, tick, tick, tick, tick ... You know what that is, don't you? It's an explosive device with a timer and it's counting down to its detonation. When it explodes - in less than an hour's time - it's likely to kill hundreds of...

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The Al Jazeera Trial: First They Came for the Muslim Brotherhood...

(4) Comments | Posted 25 June 2014 | (00:00)

... then they came for the journalists accused of being in league with the Muslim Brotherhood.

And next? Former members of the Muslim Brotherhood? Friends of Muslim Brotherhood supporters? After that? Start arresting people who retweet tweets about the Muslim Brotherhood? What about locking up everyone who voted for Mohamed...

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The Immiseration of Yarmouk

(1) Comments | Posted 18 June 2014 | (00:00)

soup kitchen

This photograph of people in the besieged area of Yarmouk [photo from recent update] waiting to get some food at an outdoor soup kitchen is yet another reminder of what it's come to in Syria. Gruelling blockades, endless indiscriminate bombardment, destitution, pain, hunger....

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Oooh, Aaaaah ... Manchest-ar!

(0) Comments | Posted 28 May 2014 | (15:37)

Way back in the mists of time (otherwise known as the late 1980s and early 1990s) I was a student living in Manchester absorbing a lot of that excellent city's life, culture and ... not inconsiderable precipitation.

At the risk of descending into Manc cliché, there was:...

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This Kiss Is Not a Kiss: Iran's Problem With Women and Film-Makers

(0) Comments | Posted 23 May 2014 | (00:00)

The fuss amongst religious conservatives in Iran over the actress Leila Hatami receiving a kiss on the cheek from the president of the Cannes Film Festival is ... well, interesting.

You'll recall that Iran's Deputy Culture Minister Hossein Noushabadi was quoted as saying, somewhat ominously, that...

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Finding a Cure for the Cancer of Torture

(1) Comments | Posted 15 May 2014 | (00:00)

In Solzhenitsyn's great book Cancer Ward, the plight of a bunch of Soviet prisoners with various tumours is clearly meant to be a wider commentary on the malignancy of the political situation just after Stalin. As Solzhenitsyn knew from bitter first-hand experience, that situation included denunciations, round-ups, interrogations...

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Why Domestic Workers From the Philippines Don't Watch Football

(3) Comments | Posted 25 April 2014 | (00:00)

Compare and contrast. In a few years' time several hundred professional footballers from all over the world will arrive in the Gulf state of Qatar to take part in the 2022 World Cup.

Young men, along with hundreds of others - physiotherapists, dieticians, pyschologists, coaches, personals assistants, agents, managers, sundry...

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This Easter Don't Play the Monopoly of Persecution Game

(1) Comments | Posted 19 April 2014 | (00:00)

David Cameron saying he's "evangelical" about his Christian beliefs is all well and good (though I somehow doubt this means he gets on buses and proclaims passages from the Bible, as Nigerians and other Africans in my bit of London do quite regularly). But his recent

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Algeria's Election: A Date With Destiny

(1) Comments | Posted 10 April 2014 | (00:00)

It's never a great idea to talk of "parallels" between events in different countries at different times, but - forgive me! - here's one anyway ...

Last year Egypt's military ousted a democratically-elected president and soon after that the party of government itself was banned. What followed has been one...

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The Chain That's Throttling Bahrain

(0) Comments | Posted 5 April 2014 | (00:00)

Forget 6 Music and 1Xtra - since the death of John Peel and Radio 3 Jazz Record Requests' ill-judged ditching of the excellent Geoffrey Smith, the only regular music on the radio I listen to is ... er, Desert Island Discs.

Hmm. And Desert Island Discs isn't really about music...

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The Dark Side of the Planet: Where the Death Penalty Is King

(62) Comments | Posted 31 March 2014 | (00:00)

I'm not sure, but I think that in some people's minds the idea that there ought to be laws that mean you can sentenced to death for certain crimes is not in any way controversial. It would be almost axiomatic, for some people, that the most serious crimes - premeditated...

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Yarmouk: The Drowned and the Not-Yet-Saved

(0) Comments | Posted 10 March 2014 | (15:52)

In The Drowned And The Saved and If This Is A Man - Primo Levi's devastating books on the Auschwitz death camp - Levi talks about the presiding importance of food if a prisoner was to have even a hope of surviving. The camp's meagre piece of morning bread ("the...

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Twelve Years a Guantánamo Slave

(3) Comments | Posted 11 February 2014 | (23:00)

Well, not exactly a slave, but a slave of the Guantánamo system. I'm talking about Shaker Aamer, the former UK resident who is still - still - marooned at the notorious US detention centre in the Caribbean almost exactly 12 years after being taken there during the height of George...

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