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

Dress Code: No T-Shirts (Unless You Want to Go to Jail)

(5) Comments | Posted 22 June 2015 | (15:44)

Over the years I reckon we've all had our run-ins with dress code authoritarianism. Requirements to wear suits ("lounge suits"). Being told you've got to wear a shirt with a collar. Or a tie. The need to turn up in "smart" attire. Or footwear that isn't a pair of trainers....

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Qatar 2022: All Sing Together, ITUC or Anyone, They'll Never Defeat Us, We'll Fight Til the Day Is Won...

(8) Comments | Posted 22 May 2015 | (00:00)

As the Premiership comes to another action-packed conclusion - or not - I imagine football fans' thoughts are turning to... actually, god knows what they're turning to. Not being an enthusiast of the precious art of booting a leather sphere around an overly-tended rectangle of grass (ha!), I wouldn't know....

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Drowning Not Waving: The Mediterranean Migrant Crisis and Libya's Implosion

(5) Comments | Posted 13 May 2015 | (00:00)

Despite the outcry in recent weeks over the repeated drownings in the Mediterranean, surprisingly little has been said about the country most of the migrants and refugees are coming from: Libya. Which is odd, because the increasingly disastrous state of Libya is a key component to this tragedy.

This huge...

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Never Mind the Ballots, I'm Voting for Raif Badawi!

(0) Comments | Posted 6 May 2015 | (18:17)

The boring campaign. The puerile campaign. The too-close-to-call-but-I'm-going-to-go-on-about-the-endless-permutations-of-possible-coalition-deals-anyway campaign.

Yes, it's General Election 2015 and it's ... nearly over.

Like a lot of people (most, I suspect), my "engagement" with the election has been slender at best. I freely confess that I haven't come close to actually reading a party...

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The Torture of Boxing - Why I'm Boycotting the Mayweather-Pacquiao Fight

(14) Comments | Posted 1 May 2015 | (00:00)

Call me a wimp, a puny weakling who gets sand kicked in his face whenever he foolishly ventures onto the beach (with his decidedly non-beach-ready body), but I just don't understand the appeal of... boxing.

Pummelling your opponent with your leather-gloved fists. This is a sport? It's true I don't...

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Celebrating the Great Patriotic Struggle... To Create Twerk Videos

(1) Comments | Posted 28 April 2015 | (00:00)

It certainly wasn't an incendiary Pussy Riot-style political stunt, though it did involve six young women dancing in a short YouTube video. And it's also led to time behind bars for three of them.

Like Pussy Riot, the Novorossiysk "twerk three" were charged with "hooliganism", though in this...

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Real Life v the Bahraini Grand Prix

(1) Comments | Posted 17 April 2015 | (13:51)

Ooh, they make me dizzy' - Buzzcocks, Fast Cars

Yeah, all these years later it's still a favourite. Buzzcocks' always-exhilarating song springs to mind whenever I think of Formula One, that commercially turbo-charged extravaganza of cars "going 'round and 'round".

It's the Bahrain Grand Prix this weekend, so...

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The Immoral Maze of the Death Penalty

(15) Comments | Posted 2 April 2015 | (00:00)

The US state of Oklahoma's recent move to introduce nitrogen gas executions has apparently been "inspired" (if that's the right word) by the former Conservative minister Michael Portillo's TV programme about supposedly "humane" execution methods. If the proposal goes through it means that in the event...

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Syria After Four Years: Back to the Dark Ages

(0) Comments | Posted 24 March 2015 | (18:19)

In the town where I grew up the council have started switching off most of the street lights at night to save money. Warwickshire County Council say the night-time switch-off is needed because of budgetary deficits - it's a so-called "austerity" measure, as well as a way to...

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Don't Judge Me, but I Don't Like Marvin Gaye or Pharrell Williams

(2) Comments | Posted 15 March 2015 | (23:00)

The furore around a US jury awarding millions of dollars in damages to the children of the singer Marvin Gaye because a recent hit song from Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams was deemed to have stolen from a 1977 Gaye song is ... well, pretty interesting.

No doubt...

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Death Disco: Music, Torture and the Diary of Mojamedou Ould Slahi

(0) Comments | Posted 3 February 2015 | (10:45)

Reading about the Guantánamo diarist Mojamedou Ould Slahi's experiences of being tortured by the US military, two things leap out. One is that he seems to have been targeted for sexual assault by a female interrogator/torturer. And the other is that, along with numerous other US detainees subjected...

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Je Ne Suis Pas Un Vrai Charlie

(0) Comments | Posted 12 January 2015 | (16:27)

A quick challenge. Imagine, for a moment, that a satirical magazine like Charlie Hebdo had been based in Saudi Arabia. Having trouble? Me too, because it's unimaginable. Independently-minded discussion of "sensitive" matters like politics or religion in Saudi Arabia simply isn't tolerated. Even as the search for the Hebdo attackers...

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The Al Jazeera Case: Egypt's Descent Into Fear, Loathing and Televised Raids on Places of Debauchery

(1) Comments | Posted 29 December 2014 | (08:37)

Some recent developments in Egypt: raids on an "atheists' café" and on a bathhouse for "debauchery", 439 civilians sent for military trials for "rioting", a prominent analyst denied entry to the country, and more than 600 children reportedly being kept in a...

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Islamic State: Can the Laughter for a Bunch of Rapists and Murderers

(18) Comments | Posted 23 December 2014 | (23:00)

They're the baddies we love to hate. New (or relatively new) international outlaws whose very depravity has given them a special status. Could it be that some parts of the media are half in love with their almost picturesque excessiveness, eagerly pouncing on every "shock" video, rapidly launching them out...

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CIA Torture Report: The Lid Lifted?

(3) Comments | Posted 10 December 2014 | (23:00)

Is the long-awaited report into CIA torture during the so-called "war on terror" an exercise on transparency or something rather less than that?

Seems to me it's clearly the latter. This is a 525-page "executive summary" of a 6,700-page report (sprinkled with 38,000 footnotes apparently), or about one...

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The Number One News Formula: Sport and More Sport

(0) Comments | Posted 24 November 2014 | (14:58)

So there I was, driving along, listening to the radio, when the news comes on. Wow. What's this! The top news is ... it's unbelievable. Forget Afghanistan, Iraq or Syria. Never mind Theresa May talking about immigration or tackling terrorism. There was something far more important happening. Lewis Hamilton had...

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Fireworks: Spare Me the Torture of These Horrible Things

(0) Comments | Posted 4 November 2014 | (15:29)

On 5 November 1660, Samuel Pepys recorded in his diary that "This 5th November is observed exceeding well in the City; and at night great bonfires and fireworks."

Already a five decades-old tradition by then, the annual celebration of "deliverance" from the 1605 Gunpowder Plot was bedding in...

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Why Do the Libyan Militias Run Amok?

(0) Comments | Posted 30 October 2014 | (17:52)

In Rainer Werner Fassbinder and Michael Fengler's memorably-named 1970 film Why Does Herr R. Run Amok?, a depressed white-collar worker is seen meandering his way through stiflingly boring days before killing his wife, his son and a family friend in an act of sudden, apparently senseless violence.


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The Ghoncheh Ghavami Case: Another Iranian Own Goal

(0) Comments | Posted 21 October 2014 | (12:16)

There's quite a good Twitter account I follow which specialises in anti-jokes. The jokes go a bit like this. "Q: How do you explain the offside rule to a woman? A: With a video recording of a football match and Fifa's Laws Of The Game rulebook." Geddit? Well,...

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'Mostly They Kidnap Sunnis': Iraq's Sectarian Abyss

(2) Comments | Posted 14 October 2014 | (15:47)

Despite ISIS and despite the suicide bombings and incessant carnage, one of the things we've been hearing a lot from Western politicians in recent weeks is how things in Iraq are better than they were because an "inclusive" government now exists under prime minister Haider al-Abadi.

The desirability...

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