“Riot”, “protest”, “upheaval”, “social eruption”, “mindless criminality”... These were just a few of the phrases from the wide spectrum of opinions that set out to describe what happened in August 2011. For some it was unprecedented, inexplicable social degeneration, while others saw it as the inevitable social outburst caused by government policies, long term economic deprivation coupled with social exclusion. Wherever one placed oneself in this spectrum, it was soon revealed that the August events defied any clear-cut, simple, mono-layered explanation.
The reaction and involvement of media, government agencies and community organisations soon became a point of discussion themselves. Various reports have been published since then, high numbers of people from various backgrounds and age groups are within the judiciary system for their involvement in the disturbances and communities are working hard to battle new or replenished tensions the events evoked.
Balik Arts and IDMC (International Dance and Music Centre), in partnership, were among a group of organisations funded by Hackney CVS and Team London to undertake a project related to the August Disturbances. Currently based in Hackney, which was one of the affected areas of London, Balik Arts has been working with children, young people and adults from disadvantaged backgrounds to provide them with access to arts and culture since 1999, and Turkish/Kurdish communities have been one of the main target groups since the inception. Frequently working with young people from Hackney, IDMC is a Turkish/Kurdish (Non-Political) Youth Club. It provides Kurdish folk dancing lessons (for all ages), drama lessons, guitar lessons and many other opportunities.
Within this project a focus group was held with young people from Turkish/Kurdish communities, and interviews were conducted with community leaders, shop owners and local people from Hackney. Findings of the project not only led to the construction of a report but also to the production of a film which documents the responses by the interviewed members of these communities. Directed by Mustafa Boğa, the film follows the interviewees through questions from the reasons for the disturbances to their opinions on the responses by the agencies to their take on the outcomes and the future outlook. The immediacy and the sincerity of the accounts evoke further thought, and the closing question of the film is there to haunt us for a long time – can we achieve a just and peaceful society?