Neil Durkin
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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

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

(66) 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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Get Into the Groove: Why Pussy Riot Should Start Doing Disco Songs

(2) Comments | Posted 4 February 2014 | (15:52)

Straight blokes don't dance*. Or at least not much, or not without consuming copious amounts of alcohol, and often very reluctantly and stiff-limbed-ly when they do.

I can relate. Over the years I've fought shy of the physical business of dancing. Even though I've long since dropped my indie-rock-kid resistance...

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Egypt's Three Years on the Misery-Go-Round

(0) Comments | Posted 26 January 2014 | (23:00)

Spotted on the side of a bus in my local area in east London the other day: "We're moments. We're timeless. We're Egypt". Yes, it was one of those bus banner adverts, enticing us to book a holiday in sun-kissed Egypt. Meanwhile, slightly less enticingly, the UK's Foreign & Commonwealth...

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Guantánamo: Where There Are No Shades of Grey

(0) Comments | Posted 20 January 2014 | (17:05)

One of the books that detainees at Guantánamo Bay are reportedly banned from reading is 50 Shades of Grey, the international bestseller from the US writer EL James. Could it be that the US military authorities have decided that James' erotic thriller is actually pornographic (so-called...

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Slavery and Popcorn: '12 Years A Slave'

(4) Comments | Posted 10 January 2014 | (23:00)

I saw this on the side of a bus the other morning: "One of the best films ever made." Oh hum. Film publicity hyperbole, don't you just love it? Anyway, this highly unimaginative bit of hype was bigging up the new blockbuster about slavery 12 Years a Slave,...

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Fast Cars - Bahrain's Response to the Protest Movement Is the Equivalent of a Reckless Joyrider

(0) Comments | Posted 17 December 2013 | (23:00)

A confession (freely offered, no coercion involved). I recently attended a "speed awareness" course. This is a half-day session the police allow you to go on if (like me) you're caught by a speed camera doing 37mph in a 30 zone. I learnt a lot actually, including that the UK's...

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Frankly, Mr Shankly, Your Quote Needs Updating - Football IS a Matter of Life and Death

(3) Comments | Posted 1 December 2013 | (23:00)

"Some people believe football is a matter of life and death ... it is much, much more important than that." Bill Shankly's Wildean bon mot has been wheeled out more times than Ryan Giggs has played for Manchester United. But I'm giving it another brief outing here. (You never know....

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Refer-REEEEE! Crying Foul Over the Qatar World Cup and Workers Who Don't Drive Sports Cars

(0) Comments | Posted 18 November 2013 | (12:53)

My reading habits being rather gadfly-ish (ie all over the place), the other day I picked up a book lying around at work called Fathers, Sons And Football. It's by Colin Shindler, who also wrote the excellently-named Manchester United Ruined My Life. The Fathers book is about the...

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Syria's Refugee Crisis: History on Repeat and No Superhero to the Rescue

(6) Comments | Posted 1 November 2013 | (23:00)

The scale of the refugee crisis as a result of the never-ending conflict in Syria is well-known. Out of a population of approximately 22.5million before the conflict started in 2011, 6.25million Syrians - about a quarter - have now been forced from their homes. Of these, over 2million have crossed...

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Think You've Read Every Blog Post There Is on Buying Box Sets? Here's Another ...

(0) Comments | Posted 16 October 2013 | (13:20)

In the age of instant streaming and catch-up TV, who on earth bothers with box sets anymore? Clunky, brick-like things destined to take up far too much room on your sagging shelves.

Er, well, the answer seems to be - a lot of people. A lot of people bother...

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Egypt's Anti-Christian Sectarianism Is Another Sign Its Revolution Is a Battered Wreck

(7) Comments | Posted 11 October 2013 | (00:00)

About 15 years ago I went on a two-week holiday to Egypt. During the trip we visited St Catherine's Monastery in the Sinai desert. It's pretty much on the tourist trail. Or used to be.

If, like we were, you're staying at the Benidorm-like resort of Sharm el-Sheikh and you've...

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'No Nuke's': We Shouldn't Let the Diplomatic Barking and Growling Deflect Us From Iran's Atrocious Human Rights Record

(29) Comments | Posted 30 September 2013 | (00:00)

The media commentary on the warming of relations between Iran and the USA can be summed up as an intense discussion of "nuclear diplomacy". It's all about "Iran's nukes", the "Shia Bomb", "Rouhani's olive branch" and Obama's "second-term gambit". You know the kind of thing.

So the Economist,...

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Saif Gaddafi's Trial in Libya Is Victor's Justice

(24) Comments | Posted 21 September 2013 | (00:00)

On 20 October it will be two years since the death of Muammar Muhammad Abu Minyar al-Gaddafi, a mere colonel in the Libyan army but "Brother Leader" of the Great Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya - a man who wielded more power than anyone else in Libya for a time-defying...

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Piss-Poor - The Russian Authorities' Understanding of Pussy Riot

(9) Comments | Posted 29 August 2013 | (00:00)

One of the last times I posted something on Pussy Riot I was waxing lyrical (literally) on what I saw as the underlying radicalism of Pussy Riot's situationist-style art-cum-music stunts.

I reckon it's pointless looking at them as "political musicians", still less as a musicians trying to carve...

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Manning Should Never Have Been in the US Military's Crosshairs

(122) Comments | Posted 23 August 2013 | (00:00)

Chelsea Manning should have her crushing 35-year sentence commuted by President Obama to the three-and-a-quarter years she's already spent behind bars awaiting trial and sentence (there's a White House petition to that effect here). What purpose is there in further punishing a woman who has, when all's said...

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Is Egypt Teetering on the Edge of Something Even Worse?

(58) Comments | Posted 20 August 2013 | (00:00)

The death toll from last Wednesday is more than 600. The death toll from last Friday is at least 173. On Sunday at least 38 people died. The death toll from today will be ...

This is the paralysingly horrible bodies-and-yet-more-bodies nature of events in Egypt now. Every day is...

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