Knives, Afrin and Vedanta

Knives, Afrin and Vedanta: Two of the four events I photographed on 26th May 2018 were connected with knife and gun crime in London, the other two about international events – the invasion of Afrin by Turkey and the fatal shooting by Indian police of protesters against the polluting activites of the Sterlite copper plant owned by Vedenta in Tamil Nadu.


‘Be the Change’ Knife and Gun Crime – Windrush Square, Brixton

London’s murder rate has increased by over a third in the last three years, and last year saw a 22% increase in recorded knife crime and 11% in gun crime. Of the 39 children and teenagers killed in the UK by knives last year over half were in London. The victims of knife crime are disproportionately young black men. Many attribute the rise in these crimes to the cuts in youth clubs, community projects, counselling and other services for young people, cuts in police and PCSO numbers and changes in illegal drug dealing.

Lambeth is an area that has suffered greatly from the cuts, and with a Labour council that often seems particularly insensitive to local needs, particular over housing where it has been colluding with developers over profiting from the destruction of social housing. It has also been subjected to some of the most discriminatory policing which has led to several riots or uprisings in Brixton over the years.

Brixton Seventh Day Adventist Church is in the centre of Brixton, worshipping a short walk from Windrush Square, where they had come on Saturday morning when normally they would be in church to protest and witness their concerns over the deaths. I’d missed photographing their march to the Square as they had taken a different route to that I’d expected but was able to spend some time photographing them speaking and singing the gospel. But it did seem to me that despite being hugely concerned and convinced in their beliefs that they were preaching only to the converted, with few of those walking past stopping to listen.

More pictures at ‘Be the Change’ Knife and Gun Crime.


Youth Peace Walk by Korean-based cult – Langham Place

I left Brixton and was making my way to the BBC when I was surprised by the Korean-based IYPG (International Peace Youth Group) making their way down Langham Place and stopped to photograph them. I knew nothing about them but saw they were marching with a posted about knife crime in London.

Back home later in the day I did my research on the web, finding the IYPG had held annual peace walks in countries around the world on or around May 25th since 2013, commemorating the ‘Declaration of World Peace’. The group was founded in South Korea by Mr Man Hee Lee, a war veteran and peacemaker who claims to have had a personal revelation linked to the biblical Book of Revelations. He is the leader of a strange heretical Christian cult in Korea called ShinChonji and a linked organisation Mannam. Critics say that although the IPYG hosts events such as these peace walks, they do nothing to promote peace but are a part of a recruiting drive for ShinConji whose followers are obliged to give large donations to the cult.

More pictures at Youth Peace Walk by Korean-based cult.


March Against Turkish Occupation of Afrin – BBC to Westminster

Kurds and supporters held a short rally outside the BBC before marching to Downing St and Parliament Square to call for an end to the Turkish occupation of Afrin.

Among those speaking was the aunt of British volunteer Anna Campbell, killed defending Afrin. The invasion of Afrin began in January, and was carried out by Turkish forces together with former ISIS fighters. The Kurdish forces withdrew in March when they were in danger of being encircled and have vowed to continue the fight to regain Afrin through a guerilla war.

Erdogan would like to completely eliminate the Kurds who have been persecuted for many years in Turkey and to end the autonomous Kurdish led areas in both Syria and Iraq. Afrin was a part of Rojava, the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria which has a liberal socialist constitution based on direct democracy which enshrines ethnic and gender equality and other fundamental human rights including freedom of religion – a huge contrast with Turkey’s increasingly Islamic autocracy.

I left the march after a short distance at Oxford Circus to make my way to the Indian High Commission in Aldwych.

More at March Against Turkish Occupation of Afrin.


India complicit in Thoothukudi killings – India House, Aldwych

Hundreds had come to protest outside the Indian High Commission protest at the Indian government complicity in the brutal repression of protests against pollution from the Sterlite copper plant at Thoothukudi, in the Southern State of Tamil Nadu. The protest was organised by Foil Vedanta, Tamil People in UK and PARAI – Voice of Freedom and supported by South Asia Solidarity Group and others including the Socialist Party.

On May 22nd, four days earlier, Indian police had fired into a crowd of protesters, killing 12 and wounding more than 60. Protests had been continuing for 100 days demanding that the plant, owned by a subsidiary of British company Vedanta Resources be closed down. Vedanta is said to be the largest donor to the Indian BJP party of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Vedanta, set up by British Indian billionaire Anil Agarwal with UK government help in 2003 is notorious for its polluting activities in India, Goa, Zambia and elsewhere as well as unsafe working practices and tax evasion. Sterlite, which has a long record of dumping toxic waste and operating without proper licences is expanding and opening a second plant in the town. The London Mining Network say the Vedanta operates “like a house without a toilet” and “consistently dump waste next to their smelters and captive thermal power plants.”

Protesters called for an end to Vedanta’s polluting activities around the world, and an end for support for the company by both UK and Indian governments. They called for the Stock Exchange to delist the company – and the company delisted itself a few months later probably to avoid facing more public interest litigation in the UK.

More pictures at India complicit in Thoothukudi killings.


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