BBC Blindness

There was a short sit-down at Piccadilly Circus on the way to the Trafalgar Square rally

You, or certainly I, might think that a protest by over 5,000 people on the streets of London against the action of an oppresive regime that brings traffic to a halt is worthy of a mention on the BBC, but apparently it isn’t news.  I searched their site and found no mention, even though they cannot have failed to notice the large crowd which deliberately gathered outside Broadcasting House.

Perhaps the Kurds aren’t singled out for special treatment. The BBC routinely fails to report on protests in the UK, with a few exceptions, mainly where celebrities of one sort or another get involved, or there is some particular ‘human interest’ peg on which they can hang a report on, preferably on something only involving a handful of people and an entirely trivial subject.  But protests about serious issues tend to be avoided – unless they are happening overseas and particularly in a country the establishment has issues with.

According to Wikipedia, there are probably 50,000 Kurds resident in the UK. It’s figure used by government but which came from the BBC, as the government have not bothered to collect it – at the last census it wasn’t a category, but people could write in ‘Kurdish’ if they wanted to, and in England and Wales 48,239 reported their main language as Kurdish. Other probably even less reliable sources put the figure at 200-250,000.

The march assembled in front of Broadcasting House, spilling along the road north and south

Roughly one tenth of that population (on the BBC figure), which is spread out across most of our major cities, though with a significant number in north London and around Croydon – came to this protest about what is happening to the Kurdish community in Turkey (though many of them come from other areas of Kurdistan which also spreads across parts of Iraq, Iran, Armenia and Syria.) It’s a remarkable statistic, though the BBC didn’t think so.

Freedom for Öcalan – his picture was also on many flags on the march

Kurds have long been a persecuted minority in Turkey, which has systematically tried to eliminate their language and culture.  Opposition to this has been both political and military, with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) being regarded in many countries as a terrorist organisation (and is proscribed in the UK.) Its leader Abdullah Ocalan has been held in a Turkish jail since 1999; he still features on many of the flags carried in protests.

The Kurds also accuse Turkey of supporting ISIS (Daesh) both as a part of an attempt to turn Turkey into an Islamic dictatorship and also as a part of their fight against the Kurds, hoping that ISIS will make all of Kurdistan into part of its caliphate and sort out their Kurdish problem for them. They say Turkey – as Russian intelligence has also shown – provides a route for the oil exports that finance ISIS.

We support Turkey – and out government want to brush Kurdish issues under the mat – as a part of NATO in our continuing opposition to Russia. The US has supplied some arms to Kurdish fighters in Syria because they see their fight against the Syrian regime as also being against the increasing Russian influence. (They also got some British weapons but found they didn’t work…)  The Kurds have unfortunately become pawns trapped in the ‘Great Game’ in which our government and the BBC are players.

Photographing the march presented few problems, and it was more colourful than many with some wearing traditional Kurdish dress and many scarves in the Kurdish colours. The 16mm fisheye with its 147 degree horizontal angle of view enabled me to show the sit-down at Piccadilly Circus effectively (and as usual I ‘de-fished’ the image at the top of the page.) Like most landscape format images on this blog you can see it larger by right-clicking and selecting ‘View Image’.

I tried hard to represent the different groups and opinions in my picture – and you will see many posters, flags and banners in my pictures at Break the Silence! Turkey’s War on Kurds. As well as Kurds, the event was also supported by anti-fascist groups and a few others including human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell.


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