Racist signs like this were common across South Africa in the 1980s.

Some things were different in 1987. People thought U2 were cool, and it was sorta okay to have a mullet haircut. Other stuff was much the same. We knew white supremacy was bad, that racism was wrong.

In fact, the year before, the U.S. Congress had finally passed the Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act. It imposed sanctions on the racist apartheid regime in South Africa, and it detailed an multitude of ways that the U.S. government wanted to undermine the South Africa’s institutional segregation — from banning the import of its sugar to instructing the U.S. Ambassador there to try to visit…


Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has spent more than three years in prison in Iran.

Iran knows a bit about hunger striking. It’s part of the country’s political culture.

Dissidents in prison regularly fast to protest their wrongful detention, a tradition long recognised by the regime. In 1981, Iranian authorities famously changed the address of the British embassy in Tehran from Winston Churchill Street to Bobby Sands Street in tribute to the IRA prisoner who died from hunger striking.

The year before, 17 prisoners in Ward 350 of Iran’s notorious Evin prison went on hunger strike for 16 days to protest poor conditions, including a lack of medical attention and abuse by prison guards. …


Deriding Trump’s supporters might feel good, but it changes few minds. Credits: DonkeyHotey & MattBuck

Joe Biden’s candidacy makes it 20 Democrats to pick from for the 2020 presidential election. Choosing the right candidate to beat Trump is obviously a massively important decision, but American progressives look like they’re making the same mistakes that we on the left in Britain made in the 1980s in responding to Margaret Thatcher.

At the age of 16 I campaigned in the 1979 general election against Thatcher. Despite my endearing appeals across hundreds of doorsteps, she won, ushering in 18 years of continuous Conservative Party rule.

During the early 1980s I was a local Labour Party activist in Britain…


Derry mural showing Bloody Sunday scene of Fr. Edward Daly leading group carrying dying Jackie Duddy through the Bogside.

Today’s decision by the Northern Ireland’s Public Prosecution Service (PPS) to bring charges against a former soldier over the 1972 shooting of civil rights protestors in Derry is a landmark step in the history of the Irish Troubles, vindicating the victims’ families’ long struggle and offering encouragement to those elsewhere in the world fighting impunity.

On 30 January, 1972, soldiers from the British Parachute Regiment 1st Battalion opened fire on unarmed protestors in the Bogside area of Derry. Fourteen civilians were killed, and another 14 injured.

Soldiers began shooting the demonstrators around 4.10pm that day. According to the military, 21…


Ali Mushaima outside the Bahrain embassy in London today.

In Seventh Century Ireland, commoners would hunger strike at the door of nobility who had wronged them, shaming them into justice. Nobel literature laureate William Butler Yeats wrote a play about the tradition, The King’s Threshold, first performed by the Irish National Theatre Society in 1903, recounting the story of a man who hunger strikes against the king.

Ali Mushaima has been hunger striking on the threshold of the Bahrain embassy in London for 24 days because his 70 year-old father Hassan, one of the kingdom’s most prominent political prisoners, is being denied a cancer scan.

The king of Bahrain…


Amal Fathy

Around 2.30am on Friday more than a dozen police officers stormed the Cairo home of Amal Fathy, her husband Mohamed Lotfy, and their three year-old son. They took them to Maadi police station.

It was a big operation to take three people. Several police vans waited outside the home. Their house was searched, their mobile phones were taken. They were denied the right to communicate with a lawyer or family members. Lotfy and the child were released about three hours later, but at the time of writing, about 80 hours later, Fathy is still being held.

Ominousy, there are credible…


Mural in Derry commemorating Bloody Sunday in January 1972, when 14 unarmed protestors were shot and killed by British soldiers at a civil rights march in the city.

More than a dozen members of the United States Congress this week criticized the British government for its failure on Northern Ireland “legacy issues,” including the failure to provide adequate resources for coroners’ inquests into deaths during the Troubles.

It’s 50 years since the first big civil right marches in Northern Ireland, and 20 years since the Good Friday Agreement put an end to a generation of large scale violence.

But the truth about many of the thousands of deaths during the conflict has yet to be fully documented, and outstanding questions remain about responsibility and accountability. Some of these…


UAE human rights defender Ahmed Mansoor

Authorities in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are prosecuting one of the world’s most prominent human rights defenders, Ahmed Mansoor, in a secret trial.

Details are sketchy, but it seems that after being held in secret detention for more than a year, Mansoor had a second trial date this week. The Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) reports “the surprising news that Mansoor’s trial started in March. There had been no news about him since September 2017. …


The Irish navy rescued 329 migrants on one day in July 2015, including from this boat.

Last May we reported on the local backlash against Hungarian priest Fr Zoltan Nemeth when he offered shelter to a group of asylum-seekers in his parish.

He let them sleep in an empty church building out of the winter cold “because they were in life-threatening danger,” but that “it came as a surprise to public opinion”. The parish was divided. While some people praised him, others shouted abuse at him on the street.

He’s one of countless people being targeted for offering support to migrants. Today the United Nations special rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, Michel Forst…


Child detainee Nour.

As Egypt welcomes U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson this week, and prepares for rigged presidential elections next month, a new report from the Belady Center for Rights & Freedoms details the targeting of children by President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi’s security forces.

The Egyptian NGO documents a shocking range of attacks last year. “In 2017 alone, 89 children were arrested, 52 forcefully disappeared, 49 received prison sentences, and three were killed extrajudicially after being forcefully disappeared,” it says.

Drawing on accounts from child survivors and their families, on legal documents and publicly available material, Belady’s report is a shocking reminder…

Brian Dooley

Author & historian. Senior advisor Human Rights First @dooley_dooley https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brian_J._Dooley

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