Protest Against Forcible Deportation to Iraq

Kurds protest

Friday was a gloomy day for me, although the weather was typical April sunshine and showers. I’d decided to cover a demonstration by Iraqi Kurds about the forcible deportation of their fellow asylum-seekers back to Iraq. It takes a considerable and shameful leap of the imagination for our government to consider that anywhere in Iraq is a safe place to return those who have previously fled in fear of their lives. Even though the Kurdish area may be safer for most than the rest of the country, among those who have been returned were people who came from elsewhere in the country, as well as some who feared retribution for their previous support of Saddam and their Christian religion.

Our policy on returning people who have failed to gain permission to remain is shameful, but the way it is implemented is even more so. Dawn raids, violence, dumping people at inappropriate destinations without support or resources and so on. All done to appease the racist elements of our popular press (and apparently assisted by racist attitudes in parts of our civil service that deal with immigration, along with inappropriate government-set targets that reduce people to numbers.)

Even those papers that might support human rights – even for immigrants – generally fail to regard such stories as news. The plane-full of Kurds dumped in Iraq at the end of March was reported only in the Guardian among the commercial newspapers, and no mention of Friday’s demonstration appeared anywhere – other than perhaps in the odd blog, and of course my own report on Indymedia.

Jean Lambert

It wasn’t a particularly exciting event. There was no riot, no arrests. It was a relatively small protest, with most of the speeches not in English. One exception was Jean Lambert, Green MEP for London, the only British politician to take an interest, and I admire her for it, but have to apologise for detaining her for a few seconds as she was about to leave. After I’d taken a couple of pictures and thanked her, many of those taking part in the demonstration came up to her and wanted to have their pictures taken with her, so she was still at the event 5 minutes later when the heavens opened and we all got rather wet.

More about this and more pictures on My London Diary.

I suspect rain was also behind another reason for me feeling gloomy on Friday, when I finally had to admit that my 18-200mm VR lens really wasn’t working well enough and took it in for service. For some months it’s been getting harder and harder to get auto-focus at shorter focal lengths – and I’ve often found myself having to zoom out to focus before zooming back to take a picture – and sometimes missing a picture by doing so.

The long zoom range comes with a quite impressive extension to the length of the lens, and this basically seems to pump moisture into the lens even from the slightest of London drizzle, often resulting in condensation on inner elements. It’s a very handy lens in dry weather, but one I’ve come to leave at home when the forecast is bad. But on a few occasions recently its been impossible to avoid it getting a little damp, and I suspect this will result in a very expensive bill for repair.

Its great to be able to read the news that commercial media doesn’t bother with on Indymedia, but it has several flaws, especially for the professional. Not least that it doesn’t pay – nor does this blog or My London Diary.

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