Walking Backwards for Tibet

Tibetans walk backwards in front or Parliament in human rights protest

I spend quite a lot of my time covering protests walking backwards, and have the bruises and scars to prove it from various encounters with curbs, vehicles, lamp posts and other street furniture. Fortunately none of these occasions has been seriously damaging, other than to my dignity, long since a lost cause.

Human rights for Tibetans in Tibet also seems increasingly to be a lost cause, as Western nations eager for business with China put their own national interests in profit above higher concerns. Of course its always been so, and we even once went to war with China to force it to allow our drug traders to operate.

So while the west has made noises about human rights violations by China since the invasion of Tibet in 1959, these noises have been getting softer and softer over recent years and are now a mere formality, while China has ramped up its efforts to completely eradicate Tibetan culture, committing atrocities against the Tibetan people – with over 1.2 million deaths. In recent years around 130 desperate Tibetans have set fire to themselves in protest, and the Chinese response has been to arrest and torture family members, charging them with abetting self-immolation.

They started to protest in Parliament Square but were soon told to leave by the GLC’s ‘heritage wardens’

Human rights are indeed going backwards in Tibet, and Tibetans decided to march backwards in London past the Houses of Parliament to Downing St to highlight what is happening there and as a direct response to China becoming a member of the UN Human Rights Council, despite its own terrible human rights record and its record of support for human rights violations by other countries.

Blue, white, red, yellow and a little green in the flags – and one man wears a Union flag as well

Protests by Tibetans are always colourful, with so many of them wearing or carrying the brightly coloured Tibetan flag – something that would rapidly lead to arrest and torture in Tibet. At times the colours tend to dominate the pictures and I sometimes find it overpowering. Visually you can have too much of a good thing.

They are walking backwards but it isn’t very obvious.

It was also a slight problem to convey the fact that people were walking backwards in a still image. People walking backwards do look rather similar to people walking forwards, and it’s something that makes far more impact in a moving image than a still. There is something about the postures in the images from a distance, but working close, I don’t think it is possible to tell.

Walking backwards in Whitehall – but impossible to tell.

However it was a welcome change to be able to walk forward while taking the photographs!
More about the protest at Tibetans Walk Backwards for Human Rights.


My London Diary : Buildings of London : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

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