Neil Durkin
GET UPDATES FROM 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

Salman at the Beach: The Saudi King's Commandeering of a Stretch of the French Riviera Is Hardly Crime of the Century

(0) Comments | Posted 22 July 2015 | (18:47)

News that Saudi Arabia's King Salman and a 400-strong entourage will have a one-kilometre stretch of the French Riviera closed off for their enjoyment this week has been ... ahem, making a few waves.

Notably, I caught it on the Radio 4 news bulletins at the weekend. It...

Read Post

Into the Black: Channel 4's 'Escape From Isis'

(0) Comments | Posted 20 July 2015 | (00:00)

For a group as written about, reported on and generally mediated as Islamic State is, you almost think there can't be that much left to say.

Naturally though, there is. Channel 4's recent Escape From Isis Dispatches programme showed... well, it showed things we already knew about ISIS...

Read Post

Policing Women's Clothing and Behaviour in the Age of the Rihanna Video

(3) Comments | Posted 13 July 2015 | (00:00)

A question. Who's the odd one out in this list? Rihanna, Jennifer Lopez, and two unnamed female hairdressers from Morocco?

Answer: Rihanna. Why? Because she's the only one who hasn't upset the Moroccan authorities through her supposedly 'indecent' behaviour.

Last month a concert from everyone's favourite Bronx-born-Latino-infused-R&B-singer-with-an-acting-career-second-life performer (aka Jennifer...

Read Post

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....

Read Post

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....

Read Post

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...

Read Post

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...

Read Post

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...

Read Post

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...

Read Post

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...

Read Post

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...

Read Post

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...

Read Post

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...

Read Post

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...

Read Post

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...

Read Post

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...

Read Post

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...

Read Post

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...

Read Post

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...

Read Post

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...

Read Post