Day-Mer has been organising festivals for 17 years. In organising our annual summer festival, we have been endeavouring to determine its aims and content in line with the prevalent conditions affecting the lives of all communities living and working in Britain. Our festival in this respect has the significance of being an instance of the reply of the working people, native or migrant, to the problems and needs they are experiencing.
We know well that the people of Britain, including the members of our Turkish and Kurdish community, experience a multitude of common problems including those which relate to their cultural and social lives. Our basic aim in organising the festival is to bring together people of all colours and ethnic origins to interact about these problems and needs in a cultural setting which complements the other aspects of their lives.
One of the most significant issues affecting the entirety of populations in Western Europe and Britain in the aftermath of the events of September 11th has been the question of integration and, to put it somewhat differently, the relationship between the migrant communities and the native peoples. This is especially significant in that the progress made towards the establishment of harmonious interaction of the migrant communities with the native populations in Western Europe and Britain has suffered a major setback with the events of September 11th.
It is unfortunate to observe that in the course of the last few years there has been considerable efforts seeking to divide the peoples who experience a body of common issues and difficulties over "cultural differences". For instance, over the last few years in this country, there has been many instances where cultural prejudices or a number of cultural aspects relating to different communities have been manipulated in a way that will sharpen the already existing contradictions and tensions rather than seeking to define these differences as aspects enriching and complementing a society. Quite justifiably these experiences has been accounted by many as constituting a tactic of divide and rule policy.
This issue, as one of the main issues of concern for Day-Mer, has been incorporated into the plans and objectives of our festival. Our 17th Festival has the objective of being a step towards the establishment of harmonious relationships between communities. As its quite fashionable these days we are not going to appeal to over-simplified generalisations, drawing inaccurate distinctions about this or that ethnic group or associating a certain community with inherent criminality. On the contrary our festival aims to provide an environment in which the conditions giving rise to these problems like the war on Iraq, its implications at home in the form of cuts in public spending, the unacceptable conditions migrants are forced to live in and the immigration policies of governments are questioned in order to determine solutions common to all of us. Our festival has to be our united reply to our problems.
Considering that each and everyone of us living in Britain, regardless of our ethnic, cultural, religious backgrounds are subjected to the same brutal policies of privatisation, this need is more vital now than it has ever been in recent history. Through the policy of academies, the schools of working class children are being sold off to big businesses to generate more profits while the teachers themselves are subjected to despicable work and pay conditions. In the course of last year, our health services have also been caught by the claws of privatisation: local health services are being sold off to private contractors, signalling the end of free health care and services for all. As though these privatisations policies and spending £6 billion on the war on Iraq was not enough, the pension right of the workers is under attack, with the government’s plans to increase the pension age. All these cuts have been opposed by the workers and trade unions; this struggle has to continue on the basis of unity and solidarity and with the participation of workers from all backgrounds. Added to these, there are the current attacks against our civil rights and liberties.
Two of the most significant events of the festival have exactly these concerns in mind: the traditional Park Festival, due take place on Sunday, July 2nd and the panel discussion titled "Together We Are Strong" which is due to take place on Saturday, July 1st. In these events as well as having the opportunity to establish connections between the affects of the war, the wave of cuts directed at the social and political rights of the working peoples all around the world, the situation of migrants and the issue of culture from the perspective of both the migrants and the working peoples of Europe will be discussed.
There are serious issues pertaining to the situation of young people, due to reasons to do with their educational and working lives as well as their social and cultural lives. Alongside issues concerning the insufficiency of resources for the educational field, this situation is compounded with working methods such as working to meet targets rather than insuring the education of students. Further, in line with the situation of young people in education, the situation of working young people is no better; they are made to work, usually to support their education, in the worst off conditions and with lowest possible wages. While this is the situation of young people in education and employment, the social/cultural lives of the young people present parallels. Having no opportunities to express and realise their full potential and having been continuously neglected, young people face serious problems in the other parts of their lives. For instance, in Hackney only, the number of youth clubs closed in the last ten years in Hackney amounts around 10, while many secondary schools has been closed and Hackney College has been shrunk to only one serious site. This clearly is an imposition over the youth a life without no direction; not having anything to belong to, the young people are further patronised and even prosecuted with the "anti social behaviour orders (ASBOs)".
In this respect, our youth meeting which will take place on Sunday, June 25th titled “Youth Riots and Youth Movement” has the aim to provide a youth event that is organised with an outlook combating the problems just mentioned and to bring together in unity as an alternative to their problems. One event that concerns specifically the young people at a lower age and their parents will be the Children's Festival that will take place on Saturday, June 24th. This event will parallel the youth event but with an emphasis on children and their parents, for them to meet in an environment where their children play and enjoy themselves while their parents interact about the issues affecting the education of their children.
Our festivals represent the zenith of our work throughout that year. This year has witnessed developments which necessitate a greater emphasis on the unity of all people on the face of attempts to undermine the already existing aspects of this unity such as the positive examples of the established relationship between ethnic communities and the rest of the society, the joint fight for rights or the unity achieved in opposing the catastrophic war. So, rather than accepting the prospect of dealing in isolation with our common issues and aspirations, lets meet in the events of the festival in order to strengthen this unity in our part of Britain and to stand united for a better world and future!