Featuring a letter writing campaign, music, poetry, discussions, presentations and petitions, Leicester Human Rights Arts and Film Festival runs this December across Leicester. Now in it’s third consecutive year the festival is focussed around International Human Rights Day, celebrated globally on the 10th December.

“The festival will give people in Leicester a platform through which to engage with human rights issues at home and abroad” explains organiser Ambrose Musiyiwa.

The event will be fundraising for After18 and LE Solidarity – charities which support refugees and those fleeing persecution.

Photography by Ambrose Musiyiwa / CivicLeicester
Photography by Ambrose Musiyiwa / CivicLeicester

This year’s festival opens on December 4 with an invitation to those who are interested to write or email their MPs and councillors and let them know what they think about issues such as the British Army’s increasing presence in some Leicester schools; how the army is displaying military hardware and weapons in public spaces; how it is letting children play with guns in the city centre at army recruitment events; and whether or not the age at which young people can join the army should be raised from 16 to 18 years.

This will be followed by an event that takes place at the Secular Hall on December 5 at which Elizabeth Banner will explore the extent to which cycling can build bridges between the communities. The event will also feature “Life Cycles”, a choreopoem by Kevan Manwaring which explores the pleasures of cycling; and a performance by Red Leicester Choir.

On December 6, at the Secular Hall, there will be a panel event that will look at transgender issues at home and abroad. Speakers include Dr Nayia Kamenou, a Lecturer in Social Work at De Montfort University; Dr Zowie Davy, a Senior Lecturer in LGBTQ Research also at De Montfort University; and Paul Fitzgerald, the East Midlands Ambulance Service’s Equality and Diversity Manager.

Dr Kamenou will be speaking on the institutionalisation of Trans discrimination in Cyprus; Dr Davy on the approaches different countries are using in order to develop social and health policies to meet the needs of people who are transgender; and Paul Fitzgerald will talk about transgender issues in relation to the ambulance service.

On December 7, the festival joins Save the Children UK in calling on world leaders to do more for children who are fleeing conflict, violence and persecution and will be asking those who are interested to sign and share a Save the Children petition with the same request.

Photography by Ambrose Musiyiwa / CivicLeicester
Photography by Ambrose Musiyiwa / CivicLeicester

On December 8, Leicester Friends of the Earth presents a panel event, at the Secular Hall, exploring the connection between human rights and climate change. Michaela Smith, Chris Walker and Dr Maria Rovisco will be speaking at the event.

Michaela Smith has worked as a translator and travelled extensively in Latin America. She is now a full-time activist and works on campaigns against fracking and the arms trade and on campaigns supporting refugees. Chris Walker works at Quaker Peace and Social Witness, coordinating and supporting action for climate justice. He has also worked for Global Justice Now as a campaigner for just and sustainable food and energy systems around the world. Dr Maria Rovisco is a Lecturer in Media and Communication at the University of Leicester.

This will be followed by a political parties debate that will take place on December 9, at the Race Equality Centre. The debate will look at Britain and the European Union’s response to the refugee crisis. Natalie Bennett (Green Party), Mathew Hulbert (Lib Dems), a representative from the Labour Party as well as representatives from other political parties that have a presence in Leicester will be speaking at the event.

The festival will culminate in Music without Borders 3, an event in solidarity with children who are seeking refuge which will take place at Duffy’s Bar on December 10. In addition to being a fundraiser for After18 and LE Solidarity, Music without Borders 3 will also be a drop-off point for items of groceries that will go to the Read Cross in Oadby.

Leicester Human Rights Arts and Film Festival runs from December 4th to the 10th at venues including The Secular Hall, Race Equality Centre and Duffy’s Bar. More information can be found at facebook.com/HRAFFL.

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Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Great Central, John has been actively involved in Leicester’s creative community for over a decade – promoting shows and releasing records under the name Robot Needs Home. He is a director of Handmade Festival, and ex member of the band Maybeshewill.

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