Posts Tagged ‘China’

Olympic Shame, Holocaust Hero And Iraq Festival

Thursday, August 4th, 2022

Olympic Shame, Holocaust Hero And Iraq Festival – 2012 On Saturday 4th August 2012 much of the nation and all of the media were in the grip of another sporting obsession the 2012 London Olympics and two of the events I covered had at least some link to this. The third was something rather more serious, celebrating the work of one of the great heroes of the Second World War, not a military hero but a man who saved the lives of many.


Adidas Stop Your Olympic Exploitation – Adidas, Oxford St

Olympic Shame, Holocaust Hero And Iraq Festival

War on Want held a protest outside Adidas on Oxford Street, playing games and handing out leaflets because workers making clothes for the official sportswear partner of London 2012 in Indonesia, Sri Lanka and China get poverty wages are not allowed to form unions and have little or no job security.

Olympic Shame, Holocaust Hero And Iraq Festival

War on Want stated:
Around the world thousands of workers, mainly women, producing clothes for Adidas are not paid enough to live. There wages do not cover basic essentials like housing, food, education and healthcare.
With such low wages, workers have to work excessive hours just to scrape together enough to get by, sometimes beyond legal limits – up to 15 hours a day.
In many cases workers are told that if they try to organise trade unions to defend their rights, they face harassment or they will be fired.

Olympic Shame, Holocaust Hero And Iraq Festival

Around 20 police stood around watching as War On Want began their games in protest, and they stopped play as the protesters began their badminton game using a banner as a net, claiming it might endanger people walking past. The street was even more crowded than usual with people who had come to London to attend the events, some of whom stopped to talk with the protesters and express their disgust at the exploitation of foreign workers, but the action by Scottish police drafted down to London perhaps reflected a lack of experience in dealing with protests.

The badminton continued for a few minutes in a side street, and then they turned to a rather short hurdles event. Again when they ‘ran’ this on the pavement in front of the Adidas shop police fairly soon stopped it, perhaps because Adidas complained that half the area of pavement was its property.

As well as leaflets, War On Want was handing out Freepost postcards to people to send to Herbert Hainer, the CEO of Adidas, care of War on Want, calling for Adidas to end the exploitation of workers.

Unusually Adidas sent out a person from their PR agency to talk to me as I began to take pictures of the event, and she later sent me an e-mail stating Adidas was “fully committed to protecting workers rights and to ensuring fair and safe working conditions in factories throughout our global supply chain.” Unfortunately it was clearly an attempt to mislead as it was irrelevant to the claims that were made by War on Want about wages and conditions in factories in Indonesia, Sri Lanka and China producing goods for Adidas. She also said that they had tried to contact War on Want to discuss their claims but had been unable to do so.

A War on Want press release gave full links to the cases on which their claims were made and stressed that they had taken part in discussions with Adidas, “but the multinational continues to deny the widespread nature of the problems and has failed to respond to the organisation’s demands that the firm commits to paying a living wage.”

Of course Adidas is not the only major sponsor of London 2012 and other major sporting events – and London 2012 showed itself also to be blind to the activities of Dow, Atos, BP and all the others.

More at Adidas Stop Your Olympic Exploitation.


Raoul Wallenberg 100th Anniversary – Great Cumberland Place

Olympic Shame, Holocaust Hero And Iraq Festival

A ceremony took place around the monument erected to Raoul Wallenberg in 1997 in Great Cumberland Place, outside the Western Marble Arch Synagogue to mark the 100th anniversary of his birth. Led by Rabbi Lionel Rosenfeld it was attended by the Lord Mayor of Westminster and the Swedish Ambassador as well as many from the synagogue and the Swedish Church in London.

Rabbi Lionel Rosenfeld of the Western Marble Arch Synagogue leading the chanting of a Psalm in Hebrew

Rector Michael Persson from the Swedish Church talked about Wallenberg, who he called ‘an average man’ who grew up in a banking family but was too sensible, too friendly and too nice to be a banker and so became a businessman. Faced with the situation of thousands of Jews being sent to their death in Hungary he did everything he could to help, following the Lutheran ideal of living, a calling to be yourself and to do good for other people, an ordinary man who was brave when the time came and became one of Sweden’s greatest heroes.

The Swedish Ambassador lays one of several wreaths

The memorial shows Wallenberg standing in front a a large wall made of stacks of the roughly 100,000 very official looking ‘protective passports’ he issued identifying the bearer as Swedish subjects awaiting repatriation. Although these had no legal status, they looked impressive and, sometimes with the aid of a little bribery, saved the bearers from deportation.

Raoul Wallenberg 100th Anniversary


Iraq Day Festival – Queen’s Walk, South Bank

Olympic Shame, Holocaust Hero And Iraq Festival

The Iraq Day 2012 festival also had an Olympic link, being “organized to celebrate the games with a hint of Iraq flavor” by the Iraqi Culture Centre in London and sponsored by Bayt Al Hekima-Baghdad in conjunction with the Local Leader London 2012 program.

Although it aimed to build stronger relationships among British-Iraqi communities and promote the the rich cultural heritage of Iraq including its music, food and art in several ways it actually demonstrated the differences between different Iraqi communities.

Given the continuing political divisions and unrest in Iraq after the US-led invasion the stated aim to promote tourism to the country seems entirely wishful thinking. Current UK advice on travel to Iraq begins “Iraq remains subject to regional tensions. Militia groups opposed to western presence in Iraq continue to pose a threat to UK and other interests in Iraq – including through attacks on Global Coalition military bases, diplomatic premises, and foreign nationals…” and ends with the paragraph “If you’re travelling or moving to Iraq, you should take appropriate security precautions before travelling. Outside of the Kurdistan Region you are strongly advised to employ a private security company, make arrangements for secure accommodation and transport and consider pre-deployment training.

US travel advice is even blunter: “Do not travel to Iraq due to terrorism, kidnapping, armed conflict, civil unrest, and Mission Iraq’s limited capacity to provide support to U.S. citizens.”

I saw one performer storm off the platform, furious at what she felt was cultural discrimination against the Kurds and overheard a loud and bitter argument between the director of a fashion show and the event organisers. I’d been told the show would start in two minutes and when I went home an hour later it still had not happened.

Afternoon prayers

There was a great deal of Iraqi food on offer, and while many of those going past along the riverside walk stopped to taste and buy some this was perhaps rather insensitive so far as many of the Iraqis present were concerned. The event was taking place during Ramadan and although they could see and smell the Iraqi food on offer they were fasting until after sunset at 2041.

A Mixed Day: 23 Nov 2019

Tuesday, November 23rd, 2021

Brixton

Bon Marché, the first purpose-built department store in the UK closed in 1975

I can’t remember why I went to Brixton on Saturday morning two years ago, though there must have been some reason. My events diary has nothing relevant in it and neither the text or pictures in My London diary contain any clues as to why I should have decided to take a walk up Brixton Road. I suspect I may have had a tip-off about something which was supposed to be taking place outside Brixton Police Station which turned out to be inaccurate.

It isn’t unusual to arrive at the time and place I had been told something would happen to find I am the only person there. It’s rather better for those things with an events page on Facebook which tells you how many people have said they will be going, though these are often wildly inaccurate. After walking up and down the road I left for central London.

Carnaby Street Show

Three of my Notting Hill pictures in a Carnaby St shop window

I’m not quite clear either about my next movements, as I seem to have taken the tube to Charing Cross and looked for another event in Trafalgar Square, where again I clearly didn’t find what I was looking for and only made two pictures. I was on my way to Carnaby Street where I wanted to see how three of my pictures were being used in ‘A retrospective on the musical footprint of an iconic sneaker‘ in a window display and screens inside the shop.

Stand With Hong Kong

After a brief look at the shopfront in Carnaby Street I hurried down to Parliament Square where protesters were gathering for a march to Downing St calling on the Prime Minister to act over China’s breaches of the Sino-British Joint Declaration. They called attention to Hong Kong’s humanitarian crisis, widespread injustices and erosion of autonomy and called for the Hong Kong protesters 5 demands to be met.

Some carried yellow posters stating these demands: complete withdrawal of the Extradition Bill; a retraction of characterising the protests as riots; withdrawal of prosecutions against protesters; an independent investigation into police brutality; the implementation of Dual Universal Suffrage.

Unfortunately even if Boris Johnson could be persuaded to lift a finger it would not attract the slightest notice from the Chinese authorities.

March Against Fur 2019

A short walk took me to Leicester Square, where several hundred were gathering for the annual march against fur, a tour of the West End and stores selling fur products, calling for an end not just to using fur in clothing but against all exploitation of animals of all species, whether for meat, dairy, wool, leather or other products.

Using fur in clothing has a very long history, but it is a practice that should now be in the past. We now have so many alternatives and there is abundant evidence of barbaric cruelty in the trapping and farming of animals for their fur. Most in the fashion industry and most shops have been persuaded by various campaigns over the years to abandon fur, but too many still sell clothes with fur trims or use animal skins or down fillings. There are long-running campaigns against stores such as Canada Goose.


More pictures and details in My London Diary

March Against Fur 2019
Carnaby Street Show
Stand With Hong Kong
Brixton


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London’s Industrial HeritageLondon Photos

All photographs on this page are copyright © Peter Marshall. Contact me to buy prints or licence to reproduce.


A Hero Remembered, Olympics and Iraq

Wednesday, August 4th, 2021


Some photographers love to travel, but I relish the great variety of events I have been able to photograph in London, (as well as the city itself.) Saturday 4th August 2012 demonstrates that well.

Raoul Wallenberg was clearly one of the great heroes of the twentieth century, and played a huge role while working as a Swedish diplomat in Budapest in 1944-5. Historians now question the popular claims that he saved as many as 100,000 Jews and suggest the actual figure may be between 4,500 and 9,000, but as one of them commented, his “fame was certainly justified by his extraordinary exploits.”

Wallenberg and his fellow Swedish diplomat Per Anger issued thousand of official-looking “protective passports” identifying the bearers as Swedish citizens and rented over 30 buildings in Budapest which he declared to be Swedish territory. According to Wikipedia these eventually housed almost 10,000 people. The money for these came from the American Red Cross and it was apparently at US request that Wallenberg was posted to Budapest.

Wallenberg was not the only diplomat in Budapest issuing protective passports to save Jews, with others being provided with Swiss, Spanish and Portuguese documents. He is also said to have persuaded the Germans not to blow up the Budapest ghetto and kill its 70,000 inhabitants, though the Italian businessman Giorgio Perlasca who was posing as the Spanish consul-general claims that it was his intervention that saved them

Swedish Ambassador Nicola Clase speaks about Wallenberg

Wallenberg disappeared on 17th January 1945 after being summoned to see the commander of the Russian forces encircling the city to answer charges he was involved in espionage. He was taken to Moscow and little definite is known about him after than although the Soviet Government in 1957 released a document stating he had died in prison, probably of a heart attack on 17 July 1947. But there were later reported sightings of him. Documents released in 1996 by the CIA show he was working with their wartime predecessor.

Wallenberg was born on August 4th 1912, and a ceremony took place in his honour around the Wallenberg memorial, sculpted by Philip Jackson outside the Western Marble Arch Synagogue. It was a moving event, led by Rabbi Lionel Rosenfeld with Rector Michael Persson from the Swedish Church in London reading Psalm 121 and giving an address about Wallenburg who he called an ordinary man who was brave when the time came and had followed the Lutheran ideal of living, a calling to be yourself and to do good for other people. The Swedish ambassador also spoke about him.

Earlier I had been at the Olympics. Not the thing on Stratford Marsh, but a rather smaller event organised by War on Want outside Adidas on Oxford St, claiming that workers making clothes for the official sportswear partner of London 2012 get poverty wages are not allowed to form unions and have little or no job security.

War on Want point out that around the world thousands of workers producing clothes for Adidas are working for poverty wages that do not cover basic essentials like housing, food, education and healthcare. Many have to work beyond legal limits, up to 15 hours a day to scrape a living. And workers who try to organise trade unions face harassment and sacking.

The games began with badminton, and then moved on to hurdles, but police told them it was too dangerous on the pavement in Oxford St. They were made to move around the corner. Adidas sent along someone from their PR Agency to give misinformation to the press, but there was damning information on the War on Want web site on wages and conditions in factories in Indonesia, Sri Lanka and China producing goods for Adidas. I don’t expect things have changed that much for these workers since 2012.

Finally I made my way to Iraq Day 2012, “organized to celebrate the games with a hint of Iraq flavor” by the Iraqi Culture Centre in London and sponsored by Bayt Al Hekima- Baghdad in conjunction with the Local Leader London 2012 program.

There were some unplanned and fairly dramatic events on stage, and one of the performers stormed off the platform, furious at what she felt was cultural discrimination against the Kurds, and a group of Kurdish musicians were told they had to leave the stage, but generally it lacked much interest for me.

I was sorry for the many Iraqis and others who were unable to eat the Iraqi food that was on offer – for this event was taking place during Ramadan. I had been asked to photograph a fashion show that was a part of the programme, but for some reason it didn’t take place when it should have, and I had to leave before it happened.

More on all of these:

Iraq Day Festival
Raoul Wallenberg 100th Anniversary
Adidas Stop Your Olympic Exploitation


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.


Stand with Hong Kong

Friday, January 24th, 2020
Supporters of Hong Kong and the protests there march from Trafalgar Square towards Downing St.

History is catching up on Hong Kong and Britain. Back in the 17th century the British East India Company had begun cultivating large quanties of opium in Bengal which was then imported into China in order to pay for the luxury Chinese goods much desired in Europe. This led to a huge increase in opium addiction in China, and in 1839 the Emperor decided the trade had to stop.

Chinese students and others in Trafalgar Square oppose the pro-Hong Kong march

The trade went through the port of Canton, and the Emperor’s man there tried to persuade the foreign merchants to hand over their opium in exchange for tea, and when they refused, seized around 1200 tons of the drug and publicly destroyed it. We sent in the Navy to fight this ‘First Opium War’, and Chinese war junks were no match for our gunboats. In 1842 China was defeated and forced to sign the Treaty of Nanking, opening up China to free trade and ceding Hong Kong to Britain.

Protesters pose for photographs before they march in support of the Hong Kong protests

This wasn’t the end of our quarrel with China over the opium trade, and in 1856 we picked a second fight with the Chinese to get greater access and to legalise the opium trade, ending in the 1869 Convention of Peking which also ceded a part of Kowloon to join Hong Kong. The final area of Hong Kong, the New Territories were added on a 99 year lease in 1898.

At the rally on Whitehall facing Downing St. But the British Government can no longer send a gunboat and dictate to China.

In 1984 when the end of that lease was only a dozen years away, Margaret Thatcher signed the Sino–British Joint Declaration with China, returning all of Hong Kong to China on 1 July 1997. Under this agreement Hong Kong would be a ‘Special Administrative Region‘ which would retain its capitalist system and way of life unchanged for 50 years until 2047 in what is known as the “one country, two systems” principle.

Posters make the Chinese response to the Hong Kong protests clear.

China now considers the joint declaration to be only of historical significance, while the UK government and the G7 still regard it as an important international treaty. In practice there is probably little Britain can do to see that either the letter or the spirit of the agreement is adhered to. China – and the Chinese students and others who came out to oppose the protest supporting the Hong Kong protesters see Hong Kong as a matter of China’s internal affairs.

More pictures from the pro-Hong Kong and Chinese protests at Stand with Hong Kong & opposition.


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.

There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, please share on social media.
And small donations via Paypal – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.


More on Kashmir

Monday, January 20th, 2020

Indian Independence Day, August 15th, saw a much larger protest at the Indian High Commission against Prime Minister Modi’s revocation of Article 370 of the Indian Constitution and calling for freedom for Kashmir. The protesters call the 15th August 1947 ‘Black Day’ .

The size of the protest became evident long before I reached the protest as Waterloo Bridge was closed to traffic and I had to walk across. Aldwych was packed with people and it was difficult to get close to the High Commission, where police and police horses faced the crowd behind barriers.

A lot of noise was coming from India Place at the west side of the building, but it was impossible to get there for the crush of protesters and a solid wall of police blocking the way. Later I heard from a colleague who had been there and who had got sprayed with fake blood which protesters threw at the building and I was pleased to have missed this.

On Aldwych the protest was made up of a number of clearly separate groups, some rather noisier than others. As well as those representing the Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir, there were also Pakistanis, including some from Azad Kashmir, the Pakistan administered region of Kashmir. Among them I met Sahibzada A Jahangir, spokesman to the Prime Minister of Pakistan. 

Later after the protest in Aldwych there was another protest in Trafalgar Square where differences between the various groups emerged more clearly. While the Kashmiris from the Indian occupied area are calling for an independent Kashmir, the position of Pakistan is a little unclear, with some from the Pakistan administered area supporting independence and other calling for the integration of the whole country into mainland Pakistan, with possibly the small area long under Chinese occupation being officially ceded to China.

More about both protests:
Kashmir Indian Independence Day Protest
Stand with Kashmir


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.

There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, please share on social media.
And small donations via Paypal – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.