The Joyful Resistance

When: 10.30am to 5pm, Sunday 26 January 2020

Where: Amnesty International HQ, 25 New Inn Yard, London EC2A 3EA

Reserve your place now – it’s free.

I want to invite you to join The Joyful Resistance. It’s a new venture inspired by an interview I did with Idil Eser, the former director of Amnesty international Turkey on The Guilty Feminist.  I asked Idil for her advice in guarding against losing our human rights by stealth as she lived through Turkey turning from a democracy into a police state. Idil said we must resist. We must be resilient in our resistance. And we mustn’t forget to be joyful because that will allow us to draw a large community together and sustain the resistance. 

Our initial project is a day’s Open Space conversation facilitated by the brilliant people at Improbable Theatre, who we are collaborating  with.  We’ll be using Open Space to work on the question  “How do we stop our governments making compassion a crime and fight for humanitarians looking at jail time”. Our mission on this day is to find artists, activists, administrators and concerned citizens to create projects that draw attention to the fact that humanitarians are being criminalised for helping refugees.

This link explains in detail how young activists who are helping refugees who might otherwise drown, are being charged with trafficking by European governments. Two of our friends are out on bail and looking at 25 years in jail if they lose their court case. Amnesty International is drawing attention to this urgent issue and asking individuals to write to the Greek government in protest because the pressure we can being to bear is likely to embarrass them into dropping these appalling charges

If one of these humanitarians were to watch a Greek person drown, they’d be imprisoned for that. But if they offer a hand to a refugee in the same situation they can go to jail for that. This means some Europeans governments are now creating a precedent of two tiers of human being.

The mission of The Joyful Resistance is to activate the compassion of those who believe themselves to be apolitical or are in the habit of looking away from stories like these. Rather than arguing with those who will never agree with us, we wish to build bridges to those who are as yet unengaged and feel disconnected from politics and current events. We want the creators and individuals who come to the event to spark new ideas to capture the attention and incite the imagination of the public through collaborations made in the room and self-sustained beyond the event.

We featured Sara Mardini, one of the humanitarians charged, herself a Syrian refugee on The Guilty Feminist and it raised a huge amount of awareness and crucially action from the public but mostly from those already engaged in issues of social justice. Our question is – what are our Car Pool Karaokes? What could make people who are kind and compassionate in their every day life but don’t see politics and social issues as something their personally need to engage with, listen, look and act? We truly believe it most people knew what was happening they’d protest this horrendous policy and we know that even most socially aware people aren’t aware of this issue.

If this project works, we’d like to host more events of connected, creative Joyful Resistance on a broader range of issues. We’d love you to consider giving your time and talent to this first topic of criminalising humanitarians and see what exciting places we could go together after that.

Please register for your place to attend by clicking here. Limited places are available and we look forward to welcoming you.

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Deborah Frances-White is a comedian, podcaster and writer who’s award-winning podcast The Guilty Feminist has had 100 million downloads in seven years becoming something of a cultural phenomenon.