Posts Tagged ‘Assange’

Pussy Riot, ATOS, Scientology & Stand with Brad

Sunday, January 16th, 2022

Pussy Riot, ATOS, Scientology & Stand with Brad
January 16th 2013 was an unusually busy day for protests in London on a Wednesday, though not all were quite what they seemed.

My working day started a short walk from Notting Hill Gate station, where a small group of protesters had come to take part in an International Day of Solidarity with Maria Alyokhina, one of the three members of the Russian punk band Pussy Riot who were sentenced for their performance of an anti-Putin “punk anthem” in a Moscow Orthodox cathedral the previous February.

Alyokhina was sent to serve two years in a prison camp at Perm in Siberia, one of the Soviet Unions harshest areas and was appearing in court that day to plea for her sentence to be suspended so she could raise her son, born in 2008, until he is 14.

She was kept in prison until 13th December 2013 when she was released under an amnesty bill by the Russian Duma, and since has continued her political activism, suffering further arrests and assaults. Last year – 2021 – she served two 15 day prison sentences before being put on a year’s parole.

The protest on the main road close to the Russian Embassy which is hidden down a very private street was scheduled to last three hours, and had got off to a slow start, with some of those arriving deciding to go away for coffee and come back later. Numbers were expected to rise later, but I couldn’t wait as I was due at another protest at the Royal Courts of Justice on the Strand.

I arrived at the vigil at the Royal Courts of Justice to find there was also a second protest taking place. I had come to meet disabled protesters who were supporting a tribunal hearing of a judicial review of Work Capablility Assessments on the grounds they violate the Equality Act as they are not accessible for those with mental health conditions.

Those taking part included members of the Mental Health Resistance Network, MHRN, Disabled People Against Cuts, DPAC, Winvisible, Greater London Pensioners Association and others, including members of the Counihan family and PCS members who work at the court.

Speakers at the rally reminded us of the special problems with the Work Capability Assessments for many with mental health conditions, as these are often spasmodic. On good days claimants may not seem very ill and seem fit for work, while on bad days they may be unable to attend an assessment and for this reason be automatically judged fit for work.

Their press release included the statement:
‘Dozens of disabled people are dying every week following assessment. Nearly 40% of those who appeal the decision to remove benefits have the decision overturned, meaning thousands of people are wrongly being put through a traumatic and harrowing experience needlessly. The governments own appointed assessor of the policy has ruled it ‘unfit for purpose’… This would not be acceptable in any other government contract, yet goes without comment or sanction by this government. No-one is called to account, no-one takes responsibility.’

Also protesting outside the courts were the ‘Citizens Commission on Human Rights (United Kingdom)’ who claimed that a child who has never been diagnosed with any mental illness was being dosed with a dangerous anti-psychotic drug prescribed by a psychiatrist. Wikimedia describes the group as ‘a Scientology front group which campaigns against psychiatry and psychiatrists’ and was established in 1969 by the Church of Scientology.

The court backed them in the particular case concerned, though most of the information about it was confidential and the court decision may not have been confirmed by the family court.

Among those taking part in their protest was a man in a white coat at the protest holding pill bottles representing the drugs they described as redundant and unscientific and instead promoting the benefits of ASEA, which appears to be an unscientific scam, promoted by dubious means. Basically salt water, the web site ‘Science-Based Medicine’ concluded: “The only value of the product is the entertainment value that can be derived from reading the imaginative pseudoscientific explanations they have dreamed up to sell it.”

Finally I went to Grosvenor Square for a protest outside the US Embassy where protesters, including members of ‘Veterans for Peace’, were holding a vigil in solidarity with Bradley (now Chelsea) Manning, on day 963 of his pretrial detention while his defence argued in court for charges to be dismissed for lack of a ‘speedy trial.’

They stood holding placards in silence while the audio of a 45 minute video, ‘Collateral Murder’ allegedly leaked by Manning to Wikileaks was played on a PA system. The video clearly shows US forces committing war crimes and has become a symbol of the need for Wikileaks and ‘for courageous whistle-blowers like Bradley Manning.’

The protest was one of a series organised by WISE Up Action, a Solidarity Network for Bradley Manning and Julian Assange, and after the vigil at the US Embassy many of those taking part were going to the daily vigil outside the Ecuadorian embassy where Assange was then inside having been granted asylum and under threat of arrest by British police should he leave. But it had been a long day and I decided it was time for me to leave for home before ‘Collateral Murder’ finished playing.

More at:
Stand with Brad at US Embassy
Stop Psychiatry Drugging Kids
Equality Protest Against ATOS Work Assessments
Pussy Riot London Solidarity Demonstration


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More Belgravia 1988

Thursday, June 17th, 2021
Chesham House, Lyall St, Chesham Place, Belgravia, Westminster, London, 1988 88-3f-34-positive_2400
Chesham House, Lyall St, Chesham Place, Belgravia, Westminster, London, 1988 88-3e-34

Chesham House was the Russian Embassy in London from 1853 until 1927, when we ceased to have a Russian Embassy after the foundation of the USSR. Now it hides away in Kensington Palace Gardens. The area was developed in the 1830s on land where leases had been obtained a century earlier by the Whig politician William Lowndes (1652–1724) who acquired the manor of Chesham Bury in Hertfordshire in 1687 and rebuilt the original Bury and manor house of Great Chesham in 1712.

Chesham House, Lyall St, Chesham Place, Belgravia, Westminster, London, 1988 88-3e-33-positive_2400
Chesham House, Lyall St, Chesham Place, Belgravia, Westminster, London, 1988 88-3e-33

In 2007 a large family flat occupying the third floor of this building was featured by Forbes in a listing of London’s Most Expensive Flats – at the time it was valued at a mere £17.5 million. Lowndes is said to be the origin of the phrase “Take care of the pence, and the pounds will take care of themselves” and that is an awful number of pence.

Hans Crescent, Knightsbridge, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-3e-36-positive_2400
3 Hans Crescent, Knightsbridge, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-3e-36

You can see the rear of Harrods at the right hand edge of this picture. This area was rebuilt completely between around 1890 and 1910, partly becuase of the huge expansion of Harrods and is in a vaguely Queen Anne style. This building has become very familiar to me in more recent years as the home of the embassies of both Colombia and Ecuador, each with a small suite of rooms in a rather impressive building and sharing the entrance with the other occupants.

It was of course from June 2012 to 11 April 2019 the temporary home of Julian Assange, at first granted asylum by Ecuador and then, after a change of government, handed over to the British police and since kept in solitary confinement by the British establishment who clearly hoped he would die in Belmarsh prison. Keeping a police guard outside this building to prevent Assange’s escape cost us a totally unnecessary £12.6 million.

Chelsea House, Lowndes St, Belgravia, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-3e-42-positive_2400
Chelsea House, Lowndes St, Belgravia, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-3e-42

Chelsea House, a tall, curved block on the corner of Lowndes St and Cadogan Place, has around ten residental floors above this street entrance and the luxury shops of its ground floor. There is a second entrance like this around the corner in Lowndes St, and both look to me rather as posh noses stuck on to a rather more utilitarian facade. Above the 7th floor the upper reaches are set back in a largely unsuccessful attempt to disguise the height of the builsing.

Sloane St, Knightsbridge, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-3e-43-positive_2400
Sloane St, Knightsbridge, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-3e-43

Sloane St is full of shops seliing expensive clothes to those who think labels are more important than utility, and some seem rather ridiculously styled.

Danish, Peruvian, Embassy, Sloane St, Knightsbridge, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-3e-44-positive_2400
Danish & Peruvian Embassies, Sloane St, Knightsbridge, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-3e-44

The Danish embassy at left was one of very few modern buildings of distinction in the area and designed by the famous Danish architect Arne Jacobsen, and completed by his practice after his death. It was commisioned in 1969 and existing buildings were demolishes, but the Danes ran out of cash and for four years the site was a car park. Work began again and the foundation stone was laid in 1975 with the building – with added security measure included after the beginning of the IRA attacks was completed in 1977. To its right is a dental practice and then the Peruvian Embassy and another building with adjacent doors.

The Jeeves Ladies, Kate McGill, Pont St, Belgravia, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-3e-46-positive_2400
The Jeeves Ladies, Kate McGill, Pont St, Belgravia, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-3e-46

There is still a Jeeves Dry Cleaners in Pont St, on the corner of Cadogan Lane, but its facade no longer displays the once well-known logo designed for them by Derrick Holmes. The statue by Irish Sculptor Kate McGill was commissioned by Sydney Jacob, who in 1969 founded Jeeves of Belgravia with David Sandeluss. Seven foot tall and weighing around a ton, it appeared on the street overnight in 1974 and is still there, outside a smaller shop on the opposite side of the road and rather obscured by fenced brick boxes around each of a short row of trees.


Clicking on any of the above images will take you to a larger version in my Flickr Album 1988 London Photos, where you can browse forward or back through the pictures in the album.


All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.


Assange

Sunday, August 18th, 2019

Wikileaks has released an enormous amount of information which has enabled us to see more clearly how the world really works, rather than how those in power would like us to think it works, revealing many deceptions and cover-ups. That many of those have revealed the crimes of the US military and other agencies is perhaps hardly surprising given that the US is the dominant country in the world, and certainly one that has engaged most in so many dubious military and other interventions around the world, particularly in the Middle East and Latin America.

So of course the US is out to get Wikileaks founder, Julian Assange, and would like to lock him away for life (or in some way bring it to a premature end) and it is only surprising that they have not yet manage to do so. Perhaps one day Wikileaks will publish evidence of their planning against him.

What is shameful has been the willingness of othe Sweden and the UK to collude with the US over this, with court cases that resulted in Assange jumping bail and taking refuge in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London – and then following a change of government to one more favourable to US interests (and the leaking not by Wikileaks and possibly by a US agency of material linking the Ecuadorean president with a corruption scandal) in his arrest there by UK police, and the treatment he has received in a British prison, serving 50 weeks for skipping bail and under threat of extradition to the US.

Wikipedia reports that in February 2016 the

” UN’s Working Group on Arbitrary Detention concluded that Assange had been subject to arbitrary detention by the UK and Swedish Governments since 7 December 2010, including his time in prison, on conditional bail and in the Ecuadorian embassy. According to the group, Assange should be allowed to walk free and be given compensation.”

The article also quotes Nils Melzer, UN special rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment  who visited Assange in May 2019 and stated  “in addition to physical ailments, Mr Assange showed all symptoms typical for prolonged exposure to psychological torture, including extreme stress, chronic anxiety and intense psychological trauma” and later criticised Sweden, Ecuador, Britain and the US for their bias and abuse of their legal systems to “make an example of Mr Assange before the eyes of the world.” 

Here in the UK, apart from the normal right-wing bias of most of our press, there has also been a campaign against him because of the allegations of sexual misconduct made against him in Sweden, which have been widely misrepresented, including by some on the left who should know better.

I’ve hardly met the man, exchanging just a few words with him before he spoke in Trafalgar Square, and I didn’t warm to him, but still admire much of the work that he and Wikileaks have done and feel he has been very badly treated by the British government and establishment manipulation of our judicial system. So I was pleased to be able to photograph this protest in Parliament Square. And yes, we should free Assange and either allow him to stay here or travel to a country of his own choosing.

Free Julian Assange


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