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

Don't Shoot the Piano Player, or the Guitar Playe, or the Tabla Player...

(0) Comments | Posted 4 July 2016 | (21:48)

In Francois Truffaut's excellent 1960 film Shoot The Piano Player we see a classical pianist slumming it playing piano in a bar who then gets dragged into an underworld of Parisian gangsters. It's a classic nouvelle vague homage to hardboiled American film noir, witty, profound and sporting that...

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Soft Toppling - Iran's Latest Use of a Dual-National as a Political Pawn

(1) Comments | Posted 17 June 2016 | (14:07)

So Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, the British woman detained more than two months ago in Iran, separated from her two-year-old daughter and held for weeks in solitary confinement, is... a revolutionary foreign agent apparently hellbent on overthrowing the Iranian government.

According to the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, Ms Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe "has...

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Truth for Giulio Regeni

(0) Comments | Posted 27 April 2016 | (00:00)

Is the UK government doing enough over the terrible case of Giulio Regeni?

By "enough" I mean: is the government putting any real time and effort into supporting the campaign to find out what really happened to this Cambridge University student who was abducted and tortured to death...

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Mocking Justice: Israel's Jailing of Palestinian Circus Trainer Mohammad Abu Sakha

(0) Comments | Posted 15 March 2016 | (19:27)

Yesterday's lively Amnesty "Justice for clowns" demo near the Israeli Embassy in London banged the drum for jailed Palestinian circus trainer Mohammad Abu Sakha who's been held by Israel without charge or trial for three months.

As with around 600 hundred other Palestinians, a six-month "administrative...

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Never Mind the 'Thaw', Are Human Rights Still in the Deep Freeze in Iran

(1) Comments | Posted 18 February 2016 | (23:00)

"It's going to be chilly this weekend". "Lovely weather if you're planning a barbecue". "What can we expect for the Bank Holiday? A lot of rain, I'm afraid".

One of my many - many! - personal bugbears is the dumbed-down, science-free weather forecasts that most of the media inflict on...

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Arming Saudi Arabia: Philip Hammond at the Controls

(2) Comments | Posted 28 January 2016 | (23:00)

Repeat after me: "We have some of the most stringent export controls anywhere in the world." Got that? Sure? Let's be safe, though, and check again. So listen carefully, it goes like this: "We have some of the most stringent export controls anywhere in the world."

Easy, isn't it? Now...

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Syria in 2015: Another Year of Agony

(1) Comments | Posted 15 December 2015 | (23:00)

We're reaching the end of 2015 with no end in sight over Syria. The carnage and agony continue. So do the detentions, the torture, the deaths in custody, the "disappearances" and state gangsterism. The Syrian government's barrel bombings also continue and the ever-widening internationalisation of the conflict appears...

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The Syrian Government Is Now a Vampire State Feeding Off Its Own People

(2) Comments | Posted 5 November 2015 | (23:00)

The whirl and churn of the news cycle means that even cataclysmic events like the ever-widening war in Syria usually make only fleeting appearances.  Amazing, really, that a human catastrophe of this magnitude - a quarter of a million dead, a staggering two million (out of 22 million) injured, and 

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UK Plc Shutting Up Shop: A Cheerless Time for Human Rights Activists Around the World

(2) Comments | Posted 10 October 2015 | (00:00)

It didn't get one hundredth of the airtime of speeches by Messrs Cameron, Osborne, Gove, Johnson and Hunt (not to mention Theresa May's anti-immigration diatribe), but the Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond's Conservative Party conference speech was equally notable in its own way.

Its keynote was security, and its...

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Bombing Islamic State, But Refusing Europe's Refugees: The UK Prefers Weaponry to Refuge

(8) Comments | Posted 24 September 2015 | (00:00)

"Bomb Islamic State targets. Bomb Assad regime targets. Bomb some more. Er, that's it." This is how Private Eye satirises what the magazine sees as a lack of coherence to an emerging UK government policy over bombing targets in Syria.

After the PM's revelation that a UK-operated...

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The Air Is Toxic: Refugees and the Ghosts of European History

(1) Comments | Posted 2 September 2015 | (14:07)

Before they properly industrialised their killing of Jews, Roma and thousands of other victims in large-scale gas chambers, the Nazis had experimented with gassing people in vans (Gaswagen). They would feed the exhaust fumes into the backs of the vehicles where up to 60 people were crammed into sealed wagons....

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First They Came for the Cheeses and No-One Spoke Out - Russia's Banning Mania

(8) Comments | Posted 21 August 2015 | (00:00)

A pair of British historians' books, Italian Parmesan, the news website Reddit - is there no limit to the things Russia wants to ban?

On top of existing prohibitions on "undesirable organisations", on numerous public demonstrations, on gay pride rallies and on materials said...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

(6) 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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