Posts Tagged ‘Iraq’

2 March 2002: Stop the War, Hands off Iraq

Tuesday, March 2nd, 2021

Back in 2002, protests were still in black and white – or rather I was still using film for my photographs and the library I was putting pictures into was still only taking colour pictures as transparencies – something I had given up taking seventeen years earlier as I found colour negative far better to work with.

For the huge Stop The War protest on March 2nd, 2002 against the war in Afghanistan and the forthcoming invasion of Iraq I was actually working with three cameras, one with black and white film, a second with colour negative and the third a panoramic camera also loaded with colour negative film. Although I contact printed the developed films from all three, it was only selected images from the black and white work that was printed and went to the library.

Some day I hope to get around to printing some selected images from the seven or eight colour films I exposed on that day, but at the time I had no particular incentive to do so. It was difficult for me to use colour even on the web site, as my flatbed scanner at that time was a monochrome only scanner – and all the pictures on My London Diary from this event are black and white scans from the black and white prints I made to send to the library.

There are a few colour pictures from this era on my web sites, mainly those taken on a pocket-sized 2Mp digital camera I had begun to use as a notebook a year or two earlier, but the images were generally unsuitable for publication. Prints from them at much more than postcard size were poor quality.

Around this time I did get my first film scanner, but it was very slow to use and the quality wasn’t great. And at the end of 2002 I began using my first DSLR, the 6Mp Nikon D100, and soon began submitting digital images to agencies that would handle digital work.

Newspaper reports at the time rather followed the police in giving figures of 10-15,000 people at the protest, though I think the true number was at least twice this. As I reported, “people were still leaving hyde park at the start of the march when trafalgar square was full to overflowing two and a half hours later.” It takes more than 15,000 to fill Trafalgar Square and the tailback over the 2 mile route adds considerably to that number.

As I wrote back then:

police estimates of the number were risible as usual – and can only reflect an attempt to marginalise the significant body of opinion opposed to the war or a complete mathematical inability on behalf of the police.

In my comments I also quote Tony Benn telling us photographers at the start of the march that it wasn’t worth us taking his picture, “it won’t get in the papers unless i go and kick a policeman” and he was quite right. They didn’t report his speech either, in which he said that for the first time in his life he though the situation was so desperate that he was advocating non-violent resistance, calling for everyone to stop work for an hour at the moment the bombing begins. “Stop the buses. Stop the trains. Stop the schools. It’s all very well going to Downing Street, I’ve spent half my life at Downing Street, in, outside Downing Street. It has to be more than that, its got to be something we take up in every town and village.” This he said would get the debate going. His speech received a huge reception from the crowd.

It was hardly a very radical suggestion – and after the bombing started it would have been too late. But had ‘Stop The War’ called for similar action before the parliamentary debate – and not just another A to B march planned months in advance – it might have made a difference. The message that this was simply a war for control of oil resources and would be a disaster for the region was getting through – and there were regular protests in towns and villages across the nation, including in the true-blue town where I live, and more radical actions could have prevented the UK joining in the US action.

More at http://mylondondiary.co.uk/2002/03/mar.htm


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage : Flickr

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.


Gentlemen o’ Fortune in London

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2021

Ahoy! Some years ago I let me younger son, then in his 30s, use me ‘puter while he was stayin’ wit’ us, ‘n afterwards found that he had changed t’ language on me Facebook t’ “Pirate”. It loot a wee while fer me t’ change it back ‘n certainly wasn’t made easier by havin’ all th’ menus ‘n explanations in ‘Pirate’.

Or to put that in English rather than blabberin’ on in Pirate;

Pirates in London

Some years ago I let my younger son, then in his 30s, use my computer while he was staying with us, and afterwards found that he had changed to language on my Facebook to “Pirate”. It took a little while for me to change it back and certainly wasn’t made easier by having all the menus and explanations in ‘Pirate’.

As you may know, though I didn’t afore now, there are several online English to Pirate translators should you ever for any reason (or unreason) wish to convey your thoughts in that medium. England’s fortune was of course largely plundered by pirates including such well-known names as Sir Walter Raleigh, though now instead of galleons our pirates sail in the plush offices of hedge funds often registered in those distant tax havens around which many of the older pirates sailed in search of vessels to board and rob – and in whose sands they may have buried a little of their stolen treasures. Arrhh Jim Lad!

But on Saturday 23 Feb 2008 I was with pirates in London, taking part in the ‘Hands off Iraqi Oil Piratical Action Tour of London’, part of an international campaign in solidarity with the Iraqi people against the corporate theft of Iraq’s oil. The real pirates were of course the largely US oil companies busy profiteering in Iraq following the illegal US and UK invasion of that country.

Saddam was a dictator and committed many crimes, though producing weapons of mass destruction as the invaders claimed largely in contravention of the evidence of their spies, to justify their invasion was not one of them. Far more important but not stated was the fact that as long as he remained dictator, oil would remain a public sector industry in Iraq. So obviously, to further the interests of Shell, BP and other majors in the oil business and capitalism generally he had to be removed.

The pirate-themed protest included a number of protesters in pirate dress along with a samba band to make a great deal of noise and draw attention to the banners, posters and placards calling for corporate killers to get out of Iraq along with a small group with blacked faces in a large black sheet representing Iraqi crude.

The protest marched to the premised of various companies involved in the invasion or seeking to exploit Iraqi oil, stopping at them to speak about their activities and protest noisily. Before I met them some had gone inside the National Portrait Gallery to protest inside against BP sponsorship of their major awards.

The tour visited Erinys International Limited, a private military security company with a reputation for using excessive force which provides security services in Iraq as well as training Iraq’s Oil Protection force, BP whose former CEOs worked as advisors to the Iraqi Oil Ministry telling them let companies like BP come in a make vast profits and helping to draft new Iraqi hydorcarbon laws, and the International Tax and Investment Centre, which is paid by the big oil companies to lobby for a free-market approach which would let them dominate Iraqi oil.

Running late, the tour missed the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, whose policies have largely been to run around in support of BP and Shell, employing former oil executives as advisers on economic policy in the Middle East. And Development Program Worldwide Ltd (previously Windrush Communications) has offices too far away in the City for the tour; it promotes the establishment of private capital enterprises in places such as conflict zones where there are few controls over their activities and no effective government to represent the public interest.

The pirates stormed up the Jubilee footbridge, crossing it to reach the Shell Centre for a longer rally to end the tour. Shell executives have played a leading role in the re-purposing of the Iraqi oil industry from a state asset to a multinational profit opportunity and plan for three major oil fields there.

More at Hands off Iraqi Oil Piratical Action Tour.


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage : Flickr

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.


Eight events

Thursday, December 17th, 2020

I find that I was wrong to suggest in an earlier post that covering seven events on Human Rights Day was a personal record, as on Saturday 17th December 2011 I managed to photograph eight protests.

It was a big day for UK Uncut, protesting about the failure of Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs to get major companies operating in the UK to make proper contributions to our tax revenue. If HMRC had got them to pay up, there would be no need for the massive cuts in public services that were being imposed by the government after the financial crisis. UK Uncut claim that corporate tax doging costs the UK £25 billion a year, four times the amount of the cuts.

Their protest began with UK Uncut’s Santa and two helpers calling at the Westminster offices of the head of UK tax collection with a present, a card and a sack of barbecue charcoal. Dave Hartnett, the man in charge of HMRC had recently let Vodaphone who owed £6 billion pay only around a fifth of what they owed, losing taxpayers £4.75 billion as well as giving an £8 million handout to Goldman Sachs. Mr Hartnett was about to retire with a massive pension despite a series of blunders which cost us a fortune.

As I wrote:

The UK seems to be loophole central for the rich, not just for taxes but also for the kind of fraudulent unregulated creation of imaginary money that has sustained and grown the City since the ‘big bang’ and lies at the epicentre of our current world financial crisis. Doubtless it is too much to hope that Mr Hartnett will be called to account for his relatively small part in this process, but as a taxpayer it pains me to think of him retiring and enjoying an excessive civil service pension for his misdeeds.

A rather larger group of protesters met on Oxford St to protest outside Topshop against the failure of the Arcadia group to pay UK tax on its UK earnings. Sir Philip Green, who took huge amounts of money out of the group eventually leading this year to its collapse with a vast hole in its pension fund, runs a vast empire that includes Topshop, BHS and Dorothy Perkins, but exploits a loophole in that the business is owned by his Monaco-based wife who does not have to pay income tax.

Police had come out in large numbers to protect Topshop, although the protest was expected to be (and was) entirely peaceful. They obstructed the press who were attempting to report on the event, lying to us that we would be allowed to re-enter the store to cover the protest inside, and then aggressively moved on the protesters claiming with little justification that they were causing an obstruction; as I commented, it was clearly a large block of police that were obstructing the pavement and not the protesters.

Police behaved rather better when the protest moved on to Vodaphone, making no attempt to stop the protest on the pavement outside the shop, while forming a line to prevent more than a few early arrivals to get inside the shop.

The protesters made effective use of a ‘Human Microphone’ to shout out in unison a series of short statements about the reason for the protest; they stated that when they first protested about Vodaphone they were told the £6 billion of tax dodged was “an urban myth”, but they had now been told it may have been £8 billion. The protest continued with them singing a number of Christmas carols specially adapted for the event, including:

Away in a mansion
On my four poster bed
You lie outside freezing
While I'm resting my head

The stars in the bright sky
They sparkle like jewels
The ones that I paid for
By robbing you fools

and as I left had begun dancing on the pavement.

I left for Downing St, where Syrian Kurds were calling for an end to the massacres being carried out in Syria by the Assad regime forces – and on that day alone at least 32 civilians including two children were killed.

Kurds form almost a fifth of the Syrian population, and during the continuing civil war in the country have formed an autonomous region in the north of the country which became called Rojava. At the protest they were arguing for Syria after the war to become a federation, with considerable autonomy continuing for regions such as this, though many Kurds also support the formation of a separate nation of Kurdistan, including the Kurdish areas of Iraq and Turkey. Since the end of 2011 the situation has moved on with Turkey invading and occupying some of the Kurdish areas of Syria and the support of Russia for Assad which makes his eventual victory seem inevitable and the future looks even bleaker for the Kurds.

Also protesting opposite Downing St were a group of Congolese, continuing the protests in London against the election fraud, rapes and massacres and calling on the British government to withdraw its support from the immoral regime of President Kabila responsible for the atrocities and voted out by the people.

The continuing problems in the Congo region are the terrible consequence of the western exploitation of the area’s mineral resources such as Coltan – needed for mobile phones, the computers and other electronic devices on which our lives and the media now depend. But those media “have so far taken relatively little interest in the desperate situation of the people in the Congo. They seem to be being sacrificed while the vast natural resources of their country are being largely stolen by underhand deals which enrich a few in their and neighbouring countries while the industrialised world turns an almost totally blind eye to the violence and injustice.”

The protest outside the US Embassy celebrated the withdrawal of US troops, but also demanded that mercenaries still in Iraq should also be expelled, and the war criminals prosecuted. Iraqis also want an end to the looting and pillaging of Iraq’s natural resources and an end to government sponsored executions there. They were joined by Syrian supported of the Assad regime want the US to stop their attempts to interfere with events in Syria through UN resolutions and other means.

The BBC came in for criticism from the Iraqis as “a Patronizing Media Channel, With Racist Undertones, towards Arabs & Islam” and being “Deceptive and Inaccurate” and they asked “Why does it not report on the wide spread asset looting and corruption taking place in Iraq?”

Also outside the US Embassy was a vigil on the 24th birthday of Bradley (now Chelsea) Manning whose pre-trail hearing was taking place. The protesters who included members of Veterans for Peace and Payday Men’s Network called him an American Peace Hero for leaking evidence of US war crimes.

It was beginning to get dark by the time I reached the Egyptian embassy where Egyptians had come to protest after the military attacks on protesters in Cairo, killing at least 10 and injuring more than 500.

It was a protest that was slow to start – and when I arrived on time I found only one person there. I waited, feeling increasingly frustrated as the light was disappearing rather faster than protesters were arriving. Half an hour later around 25 people had come and more were arriving and I took my pictures and left.

Egyptians Protest At Embassy
Bradley Manning Birthday Demo
Iraqis and Syrians Protest At US
Congolese Protests Continue
Kurds Call For A Stop To Syrian Massacres
UK Uncut Xmas Protest At Vodaphone
UK Uncut Xmas Protest At Topshop
UK Uncut Santa Calls on Dave Hartnett


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage : Flickr

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.


British Museum’s Stolen Goods

Tuesday, September 3rd, 2019

Stolen Land – Stolen Culture – Stolen Climate‘ was the message on the banner carried by two people dressed as cartoon criminals in masks and striped jumpers for the unofficial tour of the British Museum by campaigners ‘BP or Not BP?’ callling for stolen cultural objects to be be returned to their countries of origin.

As in a previous tour by the campaigners, the event with indigenous Australian campaigner Rodney Kelly in front of the Gweagal shield, stolen from his ancestor by Captain Cook and his men when they arrived at Botany Bay, along with other shields and spears. His plea with the museum authorities that this shield be returned to its homeland to form the nucleus of a new museum there has so far fallen on deaf ears.

Danny Chivers of BP or Not BP? had introduced the event, explaining their campaign to end sponsorship of the British Museum and other cultural institutions by BP which they use to improve their image, with a great deal of positive publicity at relatively little cost. BP are one of the companies driving climate change and their operations in oil extraction around the world are highly polluting and dangerous to the environment as well as being accompanied by significant human rights abuses. Putting cash into exhibitions, concerts and opera performances helps to cover up their crimes.

After Kelly had spoken about his ancestors and their treatment and the failure of tbe British Museum to contemplate handing back the stolen objects, Samir Eskanda spoke about many objects which have been taken over the years from ‘biblical’ excavations in Palestine, but which are important to understanding the culture and history of Palestine and the Middle East and should be returned to museums there.

The crowd then moved on to the Assyrian galleries, where as well as the removal of cultural objects by excavations in the last century, the 2003 invasion of Iraq was accompanied by a huge amount of looting. Many of these looted objects have now been sold at auctions, particularly in the UK and US and are now in museum and private collections, despite objections from Iraq and Iraqi institutions.

Finally we all moved on to the gallery which contains the Parthenon (or Elgin) Marbles, bought from the Turkish occupiers of Athens by Lord Elgin, essentially looted items.

More pictures at British Museum Stolen Goods Tour.


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage : Flickr

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.

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