Updated: Apr 1
Holly Burton 'Frack Off!' Black and White Photograph, 30cm x 40cm. @_hollyburtonphotography
Many of us entered 2022 nervous and exhausted after the emotional turmoil of the past couple of years, due to COVID-19 lockdowns and political instability. 2022 saw the end of one of the longest UK reigns with the death of the Queen, followed by one of the shortest as we said goodbye to Liz Truss and hello to the third prime minister in just one year. Whilst the Tories continued to trash the economy, Unions had been working all year towards a general strike, which came into fruition in December.
Disruption had not just been caused by strikes, however. Thick snowfall outside my London flat led to the closing of schools and train lines. Despite this seasonally appropriate weather, it follows one of the hottest summers and autumns in the UK. Warmer weather can still be seen throughout southern Europe, a cause for concern as it follows the trend of global warming and climate change.
However, it is not all doom and gloom, as there have been big wins for UK protest groups, including those seeking climate justice.
People and Planet list nine universities from 2022 as having divested from fossil fuels, and there is great pressure on Cambridge University still to end its business partnership with Schlumberger, an oilfield services company. The end of this partnership would mean the top UK climate scientists could work without being bound by contracts to fossil fuel companies and instead lead the way into solutions for global warming. #StopCambo have tirelessly campaigned to prevent new oilfield expansion after their success with Shell pulling out of Cambo oil field in 2021. It has been announced that Rosebank, the largest undeveloped oil field in the North Sea located west of Shetland, is indefinitely delayed.
Contracts were also cut by the UK Army and Navy with Elbit, who create drone technology that is used against Palestinians. This comes after Palestine Action shut down the Elbit/Ferranti factory in Oldham, as well as their headquarters in London. The World Cup in Qatar has also shown mounting support for the Palestinian struggle, as flags were openly waved at matches despite Qatar’s otherwise strict rules on political or LGBTQ+ symbols.
Civil disobedience in authoritarian regimes reached a climax in Iran and gained worldwide attention after the killing of Mahsa Asimi.
The first executions for participating in the protests have begun and are an alarming reminder that capital punishment is still enforced, and that around the world protest is treated with heavy punishment. Protestors must be protected.
Scrutiny of those who enforce law and order can be seen in the UK too. Freedom Of Information requests and leaks have seen the integrity of the police torn apart and public opinion of them rapidly waning. Chris Kaba’s death at the hands of the police has sparked new investigations into the systemic racism of the force, and much like for Asimi has shown what the power of a family fighting for justice can achieve. Protests were so large that the news mistook them for the mourning of the Queen and information that the police originally withheld has been released.
There has also been an increasing number of people joining Copwatch and police monitoring groups, who can hold the police accountable. They also liaise with the Anti-Raids organisation, which in 2022 led to the resistance against multiple immigration raids, most notably in Peckham in June. Many people were incensed by the idea that the home office had sanctioned the deportation of people to Rwanda, despite admitting it was likely to be found an illegal practice in the future. So far, not a single flight has taken off yet due to legal challenges, which were achieved, in part, due to direct action delaying the plane on the runway. What is more disturbing about this practice is that it is recycling a failed secretive arrangement that Israel had to deport their refugees to Rwanda. Denmark has also signed a contract with the Rwandan government to do the same, despite the condemnation of the practice by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.
2022 has been about fighting for our human rights for safety and liberty worldwide.
We have seen plenty of new tactics from the less popular art souping to holding a blank piece of paper, which irked UK police at the Queen’s funeral and has become the symbol for recent Chinese demonstrations.
So, despite what is often horrific news and worrying practices being reported, ultimately knowing about it means we can act to stop it. Street spirit cannot be diminished, and I hope that 2023 will bring about the change many people need to retain or gain civil liberties.