Event reports

Open Shuha­da Street: tak­ing part in a glob­al protest
On Feb­ru­ary 24th the High Street was busy with peo­ple on their way to the Rug­by Inter­na­tion­al against Eng­land. So, set­ting up a check­point near the City Cham­bers, mem­bers of Protest in Har­mo­ny and street the­atre group Active Inquiry told the sto­ry of the Hebron “High Street” which, since 1994, has been closed to Pales­tini­ans liv­ing in the West Bank of Hebron.

Queue­ing at a ‘check­point’

With queues, pass­es and “sol­diers”, they act­ed out Shuha­da Street-style apartheid as wit­nessed by San Ghan­ny Choir dur­ing their April 2017 vis­it to Hebron, in the West Bank. Songs of non-vio­lent protest were sung by the choir led by Pen­ny and Shereen. San Ghanny’s thir­teen mem­bers vis­it­ed and sang in Shuha­da Street and were so shocked by the sim­i­lar­i­ty to apartheid they vowed to join the glob­al cam­paign to “Open Shuha­da Street” start­ed by Youth Against Set­tle­ments in Hebron. “It was like the High Street in Edin­burgh being closed to all Scots!” said Sheila Mack­ay.
Many peo­ple were involved in the plan­ning of this action includ­ing mak­ing ban­ners, badges, a mock check­point and “pass­es” to hand­out to passers-by. A prepa­ra­tion day had intro­duced us to street the­atre tech­niques and Suzanne Dance had encour­aged us to impro­vise and act out sce­nar­ios to help us feel what it might be like to live on an apartheid street. About twen­ty-five choir mem­bers were involved in this suc­cess­ful and enjoy­able action and near­ly four hun­dred explana­to­ry “pass­es” were hand­ed to those who stopped to watch and lis­ten.
Eileen Karmy made a video of the event which has been shared with Youth Against Set­tle­ments in Hebron and with a cam­paign­ing organ­i­sa­tion in Chile.

UCU strikes
Shereen writes: Many, many thanks to the PiH-ers who turned out ear­li­er this week to sup­port the UCU strikes. It’s been huge­ly appre­ci­at­ed by my col­leagues (and of course by me!).

Bhopal memo­r­i­al Decem­ber 3rd 2017
Bhopal Greyfriars 2017
It’s always mov­ing to sing in Greyfri­ars Kirk­yard on Decem­ber 3rd in mem­o­ry of the hor­ren­dous 1984 gas dis­as­ter in India. We stand tucked in, round the cor­ner, near the plaque at the gate­way so vis­i­tors often don’t see us at first. Then we sing. This year it was Think of Me, Step by Step (as a round) Rise Like Lions (but not with­out inci­dent!) Bam­balela and Free­dom Come All Ye.

Some­times it’s been in the dark or the rain but this year it was just “nor­mal Scot­tish cold” We, twen­ty-five or so mem­bers of Protest in Har­mo­ny led by Jane and Shereen, three wreath-lay­ers from the Trades Unions and one or two oth­er stal­wart souls lis­tened to Eurig Scan­drett as he spoke of his knowl­edge of Bhopal and the ongo­ing work there. Then he read from Rob Edwards’s 2014 news­pa­per arti­cle. We held a minute’s silence. Peo­ple came and went using the short­cut through the kirk­yard. But a small group stopped to lis­ten and learn about the world’s worst indus­tri­al dis­as­ter.

Cam­paign Against the Arms Trade
On Sat­ur­day Dec 9, 2017, quite a few of us went out to sing in Rose Street after our last rehearsal of the term. A record amount of mon­ey was col­lect­ed by CAAT. Very suc­cess­ful.

Abil­i­ty Cen­tre, West Loth­i­an
Eight or nine mem­bers of PiH went out to Liv­ingston to sup­port them as they chal­lenged the clo­sure of their ser­vices. They sang songs includ­ing Save Our Pub­lic Ser­vices and Bam­balela.

Refugees are Wel­come Here

Singing ‘Refugees Are Wel­come Here’ at the Scot­tish Green Par­ty event out­side Par­lia­ment in June to show sup­port for stay­ing in EU just before the Par­lia­men­tary debate.

image image
Some of us were able to be at the vig­il on June 15th for the peo­ple whose lives were tak­en in Orlan­do. We sang as peo­ple gath­ered.

Con­sci­en­tious Objec­tors Memo­r­i­al Day, 15th May 2016

About 70 peo­ple joined the third annu­al Con­sci­en­tious Objec­tors Day vig­il on 15 May to remem­ber the 16,000 COs of the First World War and all those who have refused com­pul­so­ry mil­i­tary ser­vice around the world in the past and today. Mark­ing the cen­te­nary of con­scrip­tion in the First World War we shone par­tic­u­lar­ly remem­bered COs from Edin­burgh and Scot­land who were impris­oned, forced to do hard labour and those who died.

We also remem­bered local peace activists who have passed away in the past year, includ­ing Fr Daniel Berri­g­an, an Amer­i­can Jesuit priest whose action with the Catonsville Nine in 1968 sparked anti-war actions and demon­stra­tions that even­tu­al­ly end­ed the Viet­nam War.
Speak­ers includ­ed Peace and Jus­tice Cen­tre Coor­di­na­tor Bri­an Larkin, Les­ley Orr from the Iona Com­mu­ni­ty, Eric Chester (IWW), Ari­an­na Andrean­geli­ni, who spoke about Sec­ond World War CO Franz Jag­ger­stadter, and Eliz­a­beth Allen and Andrew Far­rar, descen­dants of First World War COs.

Protest in Har­mo­ny joined in the memo­r­i­al singing songs includ­ing Unsung Heroes, Siya Ham­ba and Here We Are Again.

Once more this was a very mov­ing occa­sion.
May Day march and ral­ly, 2016
Mem­bers of Protest in Har­mo­ny added their voic­es to the 2016 Edin­burgh May Day march and ral­ly. 2016 May Day was cel­e­brat­ed on Sat­ur­day, 7 May and cel­e­brat­ed work­ers’ rights, human rights and the life of James Con­nol­ly. One of our song­lead­ers, Pen­ny Stone, sang at the ral­ly with mem­bers of PIH sup­port­ing from the crowd!

2016 Street Choirs Fes­ti­val, Leices­ter
30 choirs, the vast major­i­ty being polit­i­cal­ly engaged, gath­ered for a fab­u­lous con­cert giv­en by local musi­cians and come­di­ans, a great massed sing in Jubilee Square, busk­ing on the streets (includ­ing lusty singing as we strolled past march­ing sol­diers gath­ered for Armed Forces Day), a fan­tas­tic con­cert of all the choirs, and work­shops and a pic­nic the final day.

Phew. Exhaust­ing? Yes. Exhil­a­rat­ing? Cer­tain­ly. Inspi­ra­tional? Undoubt­ed­ly — espe­cial­ly as it occurred on the week­end after the momen­tous deci­sion to leave the EU. Won­der­ful to be sur­round­ed by hun­dreds of peo­ple who care pas­sion­ate­ly about sol­i­dar­i­ty and diver­si­ty — the twin themes of the week­end.

Many thanks to Shereen and Pen­ny for their bril­liant lead­er­ship.

Mof­fat week­end 2016
Our annu­al res­i­den­tial week­end took place at the Well Rd Cen­tre in Mof­fat.

27 of us had a great week­end of singing, social­is­ing, eat­ing, origa­mi, waltz­ing, Oscars, choco­late spoons and more. It might have been slight­ly chilly, but we soon warmed up thanks to the love­ly food on offer.

Eileen P. led us in some singing on Fri­day evening and on Sat­ur­day morn­ing the song lead­ers put us through our places, we soon warmed the gym up. Pen­ny taught us The Arti­cle 6 Waltz and there were some smart moves in the danc­ing. Although one mem­ber was heard to say that it was dif­fi­cult to har­monise and waltz at the same time. Shereen fair­ly woke us up with Big Sky, for many their first expe­ri­ence of Shape Note singing. This proved to be quite a chal­lenge, but as ever we all rose to the occa­sion and our voic­es rose as well as we were encour­aged to shout our parts. Poor Jane then had the unen­vi­able task of lead­ing us in a very poignant song about refugees, When Death Was Behind Me.
One of the high­lights, as ever, is the ‘Sat­ur­day Pair­ty’, very ably com­pered by John and the glam­orous Mag­gie who did a ster­ling job with award­ing the choco­late spoon Mof­fat Oscars. At the end of the evening we were all com­ment­ing on the huge and var­ied tal­ent pool that is Protest in Har­mo­ny.
Thanks to Kathy and her able accom­plices of Liz B, Hilary, Hilery and Liz E who made the week­end run seam­less­ly. If you missed it, make sure you are free for next year.

Inter­na­tion­al Work­ers Memo­r­i­al Day is a day to remem­ber those who have died through work to pledge our ongo­ing com­mit­ment to improv­ing work­ing con­di­tions around the world. As it does every year, Protest in Har­mo­ny played an impor­tant part in Edinburgh’s 2016 com­mem­o­ra­tion. We sang before and after the event on a rainy and cold day at the Work­ers Memo­r­i­al Day tree in Princes Street Gar­dens.
image image
Despite the weath­er the event was a mov­ing one, specif­i­cal­ly high­light­ing work-relat­ed men­tal health issues and remem­bered those who have died through sui­cide where work played a part. Speak­ers were Paul Holler­an, Nation­al Union of Jour­nal­ists NUJ, Eileen Pen­man, a mem­ber of Protest in Har­mo­ny. telling a per­son­al sto­ry of loss, and Alieu Ceesay, a jour­nal­ist and refugee from the Gam­bia. We sang One Heart Beat­ing, William Mor­ris and Free­dom Come All Ye. The event was organ­ised by Scot­tish Haz­ards Cam­paign and Edin­burgh TUC. Wreaths laid by UNITE, UNISON, NUJ, UCU, FBU, RISE, Scot­tish Haz­ards and Edin­burgh TUC.

Scrap Tri­dent march and ral­ly
image24 singers trav­eled to Lon­don to join oth­er cam­paign choirs, and many oth­ers from Scot­land and the rest of the UK, to encour­age the gov­ern­ment not to renew the Tri­dent mis­sile sys­tem.

(Lat­est news appears to be that gov­ern­ment has by-passed the demo­c­ra­t­ic process and has announced that it will spend a fur­ther £642million on Tri­dent ahead of the Par­lia­men­tary vote.)

The atmos­phere, the weath­er, the crowds and the singing were all great — the lat­ter bril­liant­ly led by Shereen, Pen­ny and Jane.

At Trafal­gar Square there was a major­i­ty of female speak­ers, includ­ing polit­i­cal lead­ers. Nico­la Stur­geon made the obvi­ous point that the UK is in a minor­i­ty in hav­ing nuclear weapons.

Unfor­tu­nate­ly we didn’t have the oppor­tu­ni­ty to sing our unique­ly Scot­tish songs, to the dis­ap­point­ment of one small soul (whose push chair she had aban­doned momen­tar­i­ly) who had been prac­tis­ing the Choco­late Teapot song dili­gent­ly!

Sad­ly one of the unsung songs (I want to have a lit­tle bomb like you) was writ­ten many decades ago but is still high­ly rel­e­vant.

Wouldn’t it be won­der­ful if we no longer had to make these heart­felt protests?

Cam­paign against the Arms Trade
On 12 Decem­ber around 35 of us braved the cold to take part in our annu­al fundrais­ing sing for the Cam­paign against the Arms Trade. Ably encour­aged by our inspi­ra­tional song lead­ers, we sang a very sat­is­fy­ing med­ley of sea­son­al stan­dards togeth­er with some new and mov­ing songs for Syr­ia and Pales­tine. The Christ­mas shop­pers seemed appre­cia­tive. Sad­ly recent events have made our songs very rel­e­vant this Christ­mas.

We Speak Earth

Mem­bers of Protest in Har­mo­ny joined singers from the Open Com­mu­ni­ty Singing Group, Por­to­bel­lo Com­mu­ni­ty Choir and Wild­fire to sing a Sami yoik, We Speak Earth, in sup­port of the Sami com­mu­ni­ty which will be dev­as­tat­ed by the increas­ing effects of cli­mate change.

We met togeth­er at Por­to­bel­lo Beach, luck­i­ly in some wel­come sun­shine after days of stormy weath­er, to sing togeth­er and make a sight and sound­bite to share on YouTube on 12th Decem­ber for the Paris Cli­mate Sum­mit 2015.

Singing it out­doors on the sand with the sea behind us and the sun shin­ing on us, with the sound of the waves, the gulls and the breeze sur­round­ing us made it all the more enjoy­able and mean­ing­ful.

Sara Marielle Gaup Beas­ka explains their sit­u­a­tion and plea here, and sings the yoik:

Bhopal memo­r­i­al 2015
20 peo­ple braved the rain and wind to gath­er at Greyfri­ars Kirk­yard to com­mem­o­rate the 31st anniver­sary of the Bhopal gas dis­as­ter. With songs, poet­ry and state­ments of sol­i­dar­i­ty, we remem­bered all those who have died and been made ill in Bhopal and renewed our pledges to sup­port the peo­ple of Bhopal in their ongo­ing strug­gle for health care, clean water and jus­tice.
image image

Edin­burgh wel­comes refugees, Sept. 12th 2015
We sang and sang, and sang — at rehearsal, on the Roy­al Mile, out­side the Par­lia­ment — to show how Edin­burgh wel­comes refugees.
image image image image