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

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

(2) Comments | Posted 6 November 2015 | (00:00)

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 | (01:00)

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 | (01:00)

"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 | (15:07)

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

(9) Comments | Posted 21 August 2015 | (01:00)

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 | (19:47)

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 | (01:00)

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 | (01:00)

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 | (16:44)

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 | (01:00)

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 | (01:00)

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 | (19:17)

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 | (01:00)

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 | (01:00)

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 | (14:51)

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

(11) Comments | Posted 2 April 2015 | (01:00)

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 | (19:19)

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 16 March 2015 | (00:00)

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 | (11:45)

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 | (17:27)

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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