Warm words, but is anyone listening?

Another striking striking front-page today: The callous hypocrisy of our asylum system.

The paper contrasts last weeks warm words from Gordon Brown about how we need to support human rights in Burma, Darfur and Zimbabwe, with the fact that people from . yes youve guessed it, Burma, Darfur and Zimbabwe are being refused asylum in Britain.

Obviously not everyone from these countries is going to be a fully-fledged refugee, but theres definitely something jarring about senior politicians saying the right things about tackling human rights in the very same parts of the world that Home Office officials are busily returning people to.

Meanwhile, its also got to be wrong to bully people back to dangerous places with the threat of losing all financial and housing support. This, as weve said in earlier blogs, is whats happening when people get refused asylum, and its causing a new asylum-driven destitution on our streets.

Not many desperate Burmese are going to make it to Britain - the vast majority of the worlds refugees only make it to the next-door country - but any that do are likely to be incredibly anxious about the future of their country and the safety of their friends and family.

Theres now a real prospect of an away-from-the-cameras crackdown in Burma. With the streets of Rangoon now forcibly cleared of protestors, and monks and others either rounded up or confined to monasteries or homes, and with internet cafes closed, the internet virtually cut off and phone lines barely working, the country is being sealed up. Certainly the blogs seems suspiciously quiet.

This is all very ominous. And its not on the front pages or at the top of news bulletins any longer - so we need to keep up the pressure for the release of political prisoners and for continued intervention from the UN.

Meanwhile, support our Burma demo in central London this Saturday. Watch this space for details.

Finally, on a completely different note, I was struck by two music stories today. First, "Ox Jam", a gig in my local Oxfam shop in Dalston, east London. A couple of Kooks strumming a few tunes and Jarvis Cocker on the wheels of steel (with his nicely scratched charity shop purchases...). Great idea. I'm a big fan of charity shops - hey it was recycling before Zac Goldsmith was out of knee britches - and I think it's time to put the rock 'n' roll back into rummaging about in other people's discarded underwear. Check out this blogger who writes about - yes, the Dalston Oxfam shop. Hey!.

So, the other story? It was that Radiohead are saying "pay what you like" when you download the new album. Again, I like it. Free music, now there's a revolutionary idea.

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Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.
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