Unite for Iran!


Join Compass Youth this Saturday in a Rally called by Human and Civil Rights activists from around the world in solidarity with the People of Iran

For More Information Contact Kaveh Azarhoosh on 07835026468 or at K.azarhoosh@gmail.com

London

Time: 1:00-4:00 p.m.


Location: Start from opposite Iranian embassy

From United4Iran website

United4Iran is a non-partisan collaborative of individuals and human rights organizations. United4Iran does not promote any political agenda. Our only aim is to condemn the widespread and systematic violations of the Iranian people’s human rights and to call for full restoration of their human and civil rights.

We came together to organize a Global Day of Action on July 25th so the citizens of the world can stand together for:

1) Civil and human rights for the people of Iran
2) Stopping the abuse of power—the imprisonment, torture and killing
3) Solidarity with the Iranian people. To our Iranian brothers and sisters: We have heard your voices, and you are not alone.

What’s happening?

On Saturday July 25, people around the world have the opportunity to support the people of Iran in their struggle for democracy, freedom and basic human rights by attending rallies in dozens of cities around the world.

Why a global day of action?

On June 12th, Iranians participated in a presidential election marred by accusations of widespread fraud and voting irregularities. In the days that followed, hundreds of thousands of Iranians took to the streets to protest the official election results. The Iranian government’s brutal response to these protests has left at least 20 people dead, hundreds more badly injured, and still hundreds more arrested and at high risk of torture and execution. These acts are a direct assault on the Iranian people’s human and civil rights – and those of everyone who supports these ideals around the world.

Since the contested elections on June 12th, hundreds of thousands of people have participated in hundreds of demonstrations in at least 40 major cities in 15 countries. However, no globally coordinated event has yet been organized. On July 25 people around the world can support the people of Iran in their struggle for democracy, freedom and basic civil rights.

What do we hope to achieve?

The global day of action is organized around the following core demands:

That the international community uphold the Iranian people’s human rights as a matter of international concern, and that the UN Secretary General should immediately appoint a delegation to travel to Iran to investigate the fate of prisoners as well as disappeared persons;
The immediate and unconditional release of all political prisoners and prisoners of conscience, including journalists, students, and civil society activists;
An end to state-sponsored violence, and accountability for crimes committed; and
Freedom of assembly, freedom of expression, and freedom of press as guaranteed by the Iranian constitution and Iran’s obligations under international covenants that it has signed.

What do we believe in?

We agree with the following values and visions:

“If one country sincerely wants to support democracy in another country that is under dictatorial rule, the only thing to do is to support the freedom fighters who stand for the democratic institutions of that country. Done this way, the sapling of democracy will bear the flower of freedom.” – Shirin Ebadi, Iranian human rights activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner

“The Campaign is founded on these principles: that human rights in Iran, and in every country, are a matter of legitimate international concern and essential to establishing international peace and security; that human rights in Iran can only be implemented with the assistance of civil society, whose role must be protected and sustained; that human rights compliance in Iran should be approached from a non-partisan perspective, and detached from political objectives; and that solidarity with any and all peoples prevented from enjoying their human rights is a moral imperative of our time.” –International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran

We do not have any political agenda; our only aim is to support the people of Iran in their struggle for democracy, freedom and basic civil rights.

ABLED

At Compass Youth, we are always looking for new ways of bringing our campaigns closer to the community. The ideas we try out, the campaigns we work on, the relationships we build together.

Having been inspired by the "talking wall" of a community group in South Africa,
I want youth activists to tell their narrative. I'm constantly amazed by the energy and passion of the people I meet - whether they're our members, supporters or from other campaigning groups - and the talents they bring to making change happen.

I wanted to share those
stories with you. I hope you enjoy them.
Do you want to share your experience of being involved in campaigning, your thoughts on an issue that matters to you? Get in touch with me now at noel.hatch1@gmail.com

This month, Rupy Kaur, founder of ABLE and member of the NUS Disabled Committee tells us her story. Over to you Rupy!


"Like every student considering going to university, I wanted to ‘fly the nest’ to move as far away as possible from home. How very exciting!? I was looking at all sorts of universities to begin my journey of development and the independence that comes with it. I was ordering prospectuses, looking at different courses and choosing places to live. That’s when it hit me - the fact that I have a disability meant that going through the UCAS process wouldn’t be as easy for me as it was for my peers.

Basically I have Cerebral Palsy (CP). CP can affect people in varying degrees. It is not a life threatening condition and it can happen at time of birth or early childhood. The common cause of CP is a lack of oxygen supplied to the baby’s brain whilst the mother is in labour. Due to the brain not receiving that oxygen, parts of it become damaged and consequentially can cause a ‘wide’ range of disabilities – which can include both learning and/or physical disabilities. As you can see it’s not very easy to put all types of disabilities in one box. My CP has affected me in such a way where I have reduced mobility and therefore use an electric wheelchair (which is in need of pimping! Hehe – I think I may need Xzibit on the case rather than Westwood).

I, like many other students with varying degrees of disability, have struggled through the educational process and in life generally. I’m not complaining though – and in some sort of ironic way, I am glad to have battled through the system as if I had an easy ‘ride’, I’d probably wouldn’t be campaigning today.

Going back to university - to make life a little simple, I decided to remain in Manchester – I liked the look of The University of Manchester and decided to read Psychology. Now I needed to get some support in ‘getting there’ not in terms of my A level grades but accessibility wise.

I contacted the Disability Support Office (DSO) at the university who advised me to speak to social services with regards to personal care. The DSO would handle all the educational side of things (e.g. organising note-takers, equipment, lecture handouts etc).

Every disabled person has a social worker who assesses what needs each individual has and if funding is necessary for a particular reason, it is their duty to report those needs to a panel of ‘judge’ type people who either agree with what is being requested or not. The sad story is that often students are ‘put off’ the idea of going to university due to the sheer amount of effort it takes in getting there in the first place and social services don’t really encourage students to go either.

Some of the types of questions I received from my social worker were ‘Why do you want to go to university?’ Why don’t you study from home…you know, do a Learn Direct course or something along those lines?’ ‘So what are you going to do if the fire alarm goes off in your halls of residence, then you try to get out of the building and as you get to the door your chair breaks, then you would block everybody in? (Serious, not a joke!). My favourite one so far is ‘how many times do you go to the loo a day, would you benefit from a catheter?’ Hmm….HELL NO! So as you can see going through social services was a mission in itself.

So if students actually make it to university they not only have the same worries as non disabled students but extra worries such as how to organise personal care, study support, equipment etc. Some decide to drop out during the first few weeks of uni – this obviously isn’t a good thing.

Finally succeeding I moved into Richmond Park bringing suitcases and even a portable hoist, which helps me, transfer from my wheelchair. I meet my Personal Assistants (PAs) and my flat mates. Everything was going well for about a week then I realised that things were not going to turn out as bright as I thought they would. The PAs had inadequate training, were young and had difficult communication skills. In spite of this I tried to immerse myself with my flatmates but they would go to places that I couldn’t go to due to not having wheelchair access and whenever I tried to invite myself along there would be that awkward silence as they knew the places that they were going to would not have decent access for me.

However, I still had the fighting spirit in me maybe I’d make friends on my course? This wasn’t so easy either. Due to the lecture theatres, I had to sit at the front and of course students like to fall asleep in lectures so the further away they are from the front the better. So I couldn’t really mix with the people from my course either. What was I to do? I was surrounded by lots of people but felt really alone. After 4 weeks of staying in halls I decided to move back home but commuted everyday to my lectures.


As you can see it is pretty tough making that transition from school/college to university especially those with disabilities. When I started uni I was a typical fresher in the sense I wanted to join any society that encouraged drinking! I thought by socialising with new students it would take the pressure off everything else. So I went to fresher’s week and there were no societies really accessible for disabled students.

I was determined to go out and socialise and even though maybe for the wrong reasons initially I, and some other excellent students, set up a student society called ABLED which any student, disabled or not, could join. In turn most of our members were either disabled, or had a disabled friend or had a disabled sibling. Consequentially, by its own very nature the society became political and started to campaign on disabled issues.

However, it was political in the sense of making the ‘world’ better accessible to all rather than aligning to any political group/party.


From ABLED I was elected to be on the Disabled Committee for the National Union of Students.

To cut the long story short, I think it’s hard for disabled people to get involved with politics. We have all these parties and it’s difficult to know who to vote for when disability issues are side swept. Disability issues are side swept as I believe there’s not enough representation in society for disabled people to push for things to be sorted. The reason as to why disabled people probably don’t vote as much is because policies do not seem to be representative and there tends to be this one whole vicious cycle.

However, there are disabled pressure groups but nobody seems to be communicating with each other and therefore not know what is going on.


I personally believe the student movement can assist with the situation. Disabled students who have been through the process need to go out to spread the word as to how things can be achieved. There needs to be a perceptual change in society too which focuses not on what disabled people cannot do but how society can help in order to achieve their full potential.

Young people need to be at the forefront of this and within political young groups I believe disabled issues need to be highlighted. This will then eventually encourage disabled people to become more politically active as they know that they actually have a voice.


To demonstrate different disabilities people may have – here is a list of some – I think it’s important for people to realise that there are a wide range of disabilities rather than the typical ‘wheelchair user’ that people envisage."

by Rupy Kaur

* Clubfoot
* Paralysis * Amputation * Multiple sclerosis * Parkinson's disease * Cerebral Palsy * Muscular dystrophy * Arthritis * Rheumatoid arthritis * Osteoarthritis * Stroke * Spina Bifida * Visual impairments * Blindness * Low vision * Colour blindness * Cataract * Hearing impairments * Cancer * Autoimmune disease * AIDS * Multiple sclerosis * Renal failure * Cystic fibrosis * Tuberculosis * Diabetes * Hypoglycemia * Chronic fatigue syndrome * Spinal cord injuries * Traumatic brain injuries * Mental health issues * Anorexia * Alzheimer's disease * Phobias * Agoraphobia * Acrophobia * Aleurophobia * Anxiety disorder * Depression * Bipolar disorder * Obsessive compulsive disorder * Schizophrenia * Neurosis * Dyslexia * Down syndrome * Attention deficit disorder and ADHD * Hyperactivity * Autism/Aspergers

EDUCATION, EDUCATION, EDUCATION: WE ALL AGREE, DONT' WE


With the rise of Obama and the anticipated fall of New Labour - Jamie Audsley and Randall Lahann ask where UK and US policies are taking education and how they fit with aims of a progressive left.

“This agenda starts with education. A highly-educated and skilled workforce will be the key not only to individual opportunity, but to the overall success of our economy as well…We cannot be satisfied until every child in America has the same chances for a good education that we want for our own children.”


When President Obama spoke these words in financially ravaged Flint, Michigan, he was greeted with cheers and adulation. Had the audience examined his message in more depth however, the applause might have dulled. Obama’s words reveal the degree to which we have reached a point, both here and in the United States, where education is mainly prioritised as a tool of economic productivity. Is GDP another school league table, only once removed? Is there more to education than just the preparation of future workforces? Well of course there is, but we are in danger of losing the ability to deliver an education system which creates equity and opportunity in society for its own sake -not just to feed the economic machine. After the crunch, regurgitation of the more of same is hardly the “A” grade thinking we need to deal with an unprecendented global crisis.

Because we both prioritise the value of education as a tool of social justice we were attracted to the social aims of two teacher training schemes – Teach First (UK) and Teach America (USA). These programs were set up to overcome the obstacles of deprivation and improve educational opportunities by placing high quality graduates in some of our nations’ most challenging schools. Entering classrooms in London and California we took with us the mission we had regularly and willingly repeated during our training, “to address educational disadvantage.” We served a variety of roles: subject experts in class, pastoral leaders with our tutor groups, but by what standard should we judge ourselves? How would we know when we could say “mission achieved”?

During our time in the classroom, we were both struck by the scale of the obstacles faced by many students, not the least of which was their perceived lack of agency to overcome them. For example, Dane, a perceptive 12 year old living in South East Croydon remarked on the extent to which his area was under resourced, “We’re isolated. We haven’t got enough jobs, we need more youth clubs, and a cinema would be nice.” Fighting educational disadvantage seemed to require more than just excellent teaching in our classrooms. If education is really about changing the world, where was the opportunity for Dane to be part of that change, act on his concerns and start to address the barriers which create educational disadvantage?


At Dane’s school the headline vision aims to “improve life chances by raising standards”. Recent governments have driven standards by focusing on improving access to the curriculum, raising achievement and attempting to increase student aspiration. Improved access has meant supporting the needs of pupils, be that in terms of language, learning difficulties or individual wellbeing. Achievement has focused on measurable progress against test results, while aspiration has linked to extending time in education, opening access to higher education and delivering cultural change through new schools. These are not antithetical to our mission of “addressing educational disadvantage”, but to be sure of making real progress a greater discussion of what social justice means in our nations’ schools is needed, and indeed, why we value education in the first place.

When discussing the fundamental purpose of public education recent curricular theorists have divided thinking into four categories: scholar/academic (knowledge for knowledge's sake), child-centered (whatever serves the unique interests of the individual child), social-efficiency (a utilitarian approach which values the good of society as a whole), and social-reconstructionist (education as a tool of social justice). We write from this final perspective because as we said, it was the reason we entered the teaching profession. Moreover, while we were frustrated by the lack of clarity in the progressive goals of our respective programs in tackling educational inequality, this short-coming is not all that surprising since the educational establishment in both of our countries, including policy-makers, practitioners, and academics has struggled with it as well.

These discussions of the fundamental purposes of public education belong not only in the halls of universities, but in classrooms, boardrooms, and legislative chambers. We feel that a de facto vision of neoliberal social efficiency, masquerading as social reconstruction has come to singularly dominate current thinking on education. From this perspective “Closing the achievement gap” has value only to the extent that it means that all students are better prepared to do their part in the global economy, rather than to fundamentally achieve equality and social change. Meanwhile, because of the lack of public debate on these essential questions, our countries conceive of education as a purely technical problem, rather than a philosophical, moral, and democratic one.

In the UK more of the same looks likely, with the shadow school’s secretary Michael Gove calling for an extension of Blair’s choice agenda – the supermarket offer of schooling which normalises us to the neoliberal education system. You get to choose (state a preference) for the school you want but you don’t get real choices about what’s on offer. Essentially it’s a simplistic choice which fails to open up the debate of what our schools are really for.

An alternative is to promote the “voice” agenda and provide a fundamentally democratic opportunity that would see students, parents and teachers allowed to influence the direction of education. This could be done if more decision-making power was given to governing bodies, school boards (USA), school councils (run by students) and teachers. The success of the UK’s Summerhill school provides inspiration. A leader in democratic schooling, giving pupils radical choice on what they learn, it avoided closure despite the fact that it didn’t fit the government’s philosophy on how schools should run.


If we don’t open up this debate we aren’t preparing young people to be agents of social and political change. Instead we normalise them to keep the cycle of inequity that’s implicit within a neoliberal social and economic agenda. Allowing students to decide the direction of what their education should achieve and provide opportunity for young people to take action is therefore required. London Citizens’ Schools Alliance is a good example of learning that is delivered this way. It joins students, parents and governors to develop local community campaigns and aspire to achieve changes that matter to them. More activities like this are needed and the development of a broader, more radical citizenship curriculum will enable it to happen.


The attempt of Academy (UK) and Charter (USA) schools to provide aspiration is laudable but the danger with their version of aspiration is that it maintains the status quo at the cost of addressing underlying systemic factors of education inequity. Policy First, a policy document written by Teach First teachers outlines how academies are “consciously forming their identity away from the local community, in a quest to help pupils to aspire to something beyond”. Thus in their view “ …. the academy model is entirely appropriate, enabling pupils to see beyond the constraints of their local community." While we of course support all students having the broadest range of experiences beyond their local area, aiming to remove schools from their locality becomes problematic if students are merely encouraged to escape as opposed to take action and change their reality.

Aspiration can’t just be about something beyond, something that is always being chased, something external. It has to be aspiration in the here and now: improving transport, creating jobs, helping create local low carbon communities, building youth clubs. Furthermore, academies have often been imposed against the wishes of local communities, removing their ownership of local education and excluding them from identifying with their local school. As educationalist Richard Hatcher has argued, allowing someone to buy and control the vision of a community’s education is another way in which inequalities are maintained and Others retain the power to make the real choices. Academies thus represent cultural imperialism in our own communities.

In its present form the education system largely silences the value judgement of social justice behind a wall of technical, economic, neoliberal education policy. Students, teachers and parents are largely excluded from being able to discuss what education is for, what a good school means, and how schools should contribute to society. We believe we need a clear debate over the ways in which schools should help reconstruct society more justly and in doing this we must accept a mission of proper democratic education for our schools. We don’t claim to have all the answers but believe Dane needs the chance to not only voice his concerns but to be encouraged to act on them.

Jamie Audsley and Randall Lahann

Thanks to cobalt123 for the photo published under Creative Commons

I choose change. Do you?

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We can't let this happen. And we won't, if we stand together now and show the politicians once and for all that it's high time we were given a choice in how they're elected.

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Great opportunity for young East Londoners!

If you live in Barking & Dagenham, Newham or Tower Hamlets and are 19-25 years old, this is an opportunity for you! If not, you may know someone who fits this profile so please forward this on to them. UpRising is a fantastic opportunity for young East Londoners who want to change East London for the better. Visit here.