Posts Tagged ‘ISIS’

BBC Ignores Turkey’s War On Kurds

Sunday, March 6th, 2022

BBC Ignores Turkey’s War On Kurds. Six years ago today, on Sunday 6th March 2016, thousand of Kurds marched from the BBC to Trafalgar Square calling for an end to the silence from Turkey’s NATO allies and the western press over Turkey’s increasing war against Kurds since the political successes of the Kurdih political party and the formation of the popular progressive democracy of Rojava in Northern Syria.

Marchers sat down briefly at Piccadilly Circus

On My London Diary I posted a list of over 30 UK groups supporting in the protest including the National Union of Teachers, the PCS and RMT as well as other trade unionists and branches, the Stop The War Coalition, the Green Party, Unite Against Fascism, many left wing parties and political groups and of course Kurdish organisations.

The repression and marginalisation of Kurds by Turkey is as old as the Turkish state, formed in 1923. For many years the state even denied their existence, describing them as “mountain Turks”, and it outlawed their language and clamped down on their cultural events such their Nowruz New Year Festival and on the wearing of their traditional dress and Kurdish names. Even the words Kurds and Kurdistan were banned.

The crowd stretched some way past Broadcasting House

The 1990s and early 2000s saw some relaxation of the repression of their language and community celebrations, but it remains illegal to teach in Kurdish and there is still limited freedom of expression. In 1978 Kurds formed the militant Kurdish Workers’ Party, PKK, which launched a military freedom fight against Turkey in 1984. PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan was captured in Nairobi in 1999 by Turkish agents assisted by the CIA and flown back for trial in Turkey. He was sentenced to death, but this was commuted to life imprisonment when Turkey abolished the death penality and since then has been held in a Turkish high-security island prison.

Öcalan had argued for a political solution to the conflict since 1993 and even in prison remains the leader of the PKK. Subjected to long spells on isolation there have been periods where he has been allowed visits and has been in negotiations with the Turkish government. He has also written about the democratic confederalism which is at the heart of the constitution of the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria, widely known as Rojava, founded in 2012.

Rojava’s decentralised democratic form of government recognises and includes the various communities in the area – Kurds, Arabs, Turkmen, Yazidis, Assyrians and others as well as promoting the equality of women.

The main ground forces which have been effective against Daesh (ISIS) in the region are from the Kurdish People’s Protection Units, men in the YPG and women in the YPJ, who with the help of US air support defeated the Islamic State in Northern Syria.

Turkey regards the YPG and YPJ as being a part of the PKK, regarded by them and many countries as a terrorist group and widely banned. Since 2016 it has used its overwhelming military power (supported by NATO and Russia) to try to crush the Kurds and to capture Rojava, occupying large areas. Together with Syrian allies (including some former ISIS fighters) they are carrying out a policy of ethnic cleansing against the Kurds, and have been engaged in a wide range of war crimes.

Peter Tatchell

As well as calling for an end to attacks by Turkey and for full and un-biased reporting of Turkey’s attacks on the Kurds the marchers want the UK to end its support for the Turkish aggression and also to repeal the ban on the PKK under the Terrorism Act 2000. It is banned in most other western countries including the EU, where several court verdicts have found its proscription to be illegal but it has remained.

The march sat down for a few minutes stopping traffic at Piccadilly Circus, then went on the a rally in Trafalgar Square, where I left them. There were no reports of the march on the BBC or in other UK mass-media, though I think it was covered by some foreign news services and our minuscule left-wing press.

More at Break the Silence! Turkey’s War on Kurds.


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Defend Afrin, end Turkish Attacks

Thursday, January 27th, 2022

The largest protest I attended on Saturday 27th January 2018, four years ago was against the Turkish attacks on Afrin in Northern Syria, then a part of the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria (DFNS) or Rojava, a de facto autonomous region in northern Syria.

Turkey, a NATO member with probably the largest and best-equipped army and air force in the Middle East was taking on the small and poorly equipped Kurdish forces, and despite a valiant fight the final result was predictable, particularly once Russia, the other major player in the Syrian conflict had given them their blessing.

Turkey has continued its attacks on Northern Syria, but mainly through air strikes, but these are seldom reported in UK media although covered by specialist sources such as ‘Foreign Policy‘, part of the Slate Group.

The US gave some support in other battles fought by the Kurds against Islamic State forces, but this was always limited and mostly ended with the withdrawal of US troops which was announced by Trump in December 2018, and again in October 2019, although around 900 were still there in October 2021. Turkey has been a major source of finance for ISIS, allowing them to profit from smuggling of oil, and backing some groups which were fighting with them.

In recent days there have been short mentions on the BBC about the continuing battles being fought by the Syrian Democratic Forces, a US-backed, Kurdish-led militia against Islamic State in Northern Syria. The prisons and refugee camps where former ISIS fighters and supporters are held are largely in Kurdish territory and ISIS are still active and fighting to release people from detention to increase their strength.

As I wrote in 2018, “the constitution of Rojava treats all ethnic groups – which include Arabs, Assyrians, Syrian Turkmen and Yazidis as well as Kurds – equally and liberates women, treating them as equal to men. The constitution is based on a democratic socialism and its autonomy is seen by many as a model for a federal Syria.”

Unfortunately there seems little chance that such a model with be adopted more widely. Turkey continues to attack the Kurdish areas and does so using weapons sold to them as a NATO member by the UK, France and UAE. Turkey claims that the Kurdish forces fighting ISIS are an extension of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, PKK, founded in 1978 which began its armed struggle for self-rule for Kurds in Turkey 1984.

PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan has been held in a Turkish jail since 1999 and the organisation has been proscribed in many countries allied to Turkey, including the USA and UK. Several PKK flags were seized by police at the start of the march.

More at Defend Afrin, stop Turkish Attack.


This was not the only protest in London on that day, and I also photographed two other events. African Lives Matter and the International Campaign to Boycott UAE were outside the UAE Embassy in London protesting against the funding by the the United Arab Emirates United of armed Groups in Libya which imprison, torture and kill African migrants and sell them as slaves. On Regent St, the long-running protest outside the Canada Goose flagship store in Regent St was continuing asking shoppers to boycott the store because of the horrific cruelty involved in trapping dogs for fur and raising birds for down used in the company’s clothing.

Canada Goose protests continue
End UAE support for slavery in Libya


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25th July 2015

Sunday, July 25th, 2021

Six years ago I photographed three events in London on Saturday 25th July. The first was a protest outside the Counsellor’s Office for Culture & Information of the Turkish Embassy at Craven House on Kingsway by members of the British left and the Turkish Popular Front in the UK calling for the immediate release from Turkish jail of Scottish left-wing activist Steve Kaczynski. In Istanbul to interpret at an anti-imperialist conference, he apparently shouted “Repression Cannot intimidate Us” in Turkish as he was arrested on 2nd April 2015. He was finally released in late September 2015.

The arrest was a part of a Turkish clampdown on political opposition following an unrelated hostage incident elsewhere in the city when a state prosecutor and the two gunmen holding him captive were killed. The Turkish government issued rumours to the media that Kacsynski was a British or German spy and kept him under poor conditions and in isolation, leading to him going on hunger strike.

From Kingsway in Holborn a short bus ride took me to Old Palace Yard opposite the Houses of Parliament for a protest against our crazy parliamentary voting system. Over half a million people had signed petitions calling for voting reform after May’s elections, where the winning party were voted for by just under 24% of the electorate, gaining 36.1% of the votes.

The ‘First Past the Post’ system makes it impossible for small parties to gain proper representation, particularly when their votes are spread widely across the country. So although the Green Party got over a million votes it only got one seat, as did UKIP despite over 3 million. The Tories with just three times their vote got 330 times as many MPs.

The system has always favoured the two major parties – and until recently very much suited their interests. But seeing the current position of the Labour party and possible constituency boundary changes it seems likely to condemn them to permanent opposition.

Under a thousand people turned up for the protest, which was themed around a map of the UK laid out on the grass and marked by coloured balloons for the different parties, the kind of bright idea that has photographers like me wringing their hands in desperation. Unfortunately I hadn’t brought a helicopter with me in my camera bag, and even if I owned a drone it would have almost certainly been illegal to fly it.

I finished my day just a short walk up Whitehall to Downing Street, where a large group of Kurds and supporters were protesting at the involvement of the Turkish State in the massacre of 32 young activists by ISIS as they were on their way with toys, books and other materials to build a playground, library and other projects in Kobane.

The Turkish Government has a long history of treating its Kurdish citizens as inferior, outlawing their language and culture, and and imprisoning the Kurdish leader, Abdullah Ocalan and others from the political and military groups opposing them. Turkey sees ISIS as an ally in its fight against the Kurds, and has aided or turned a blind eye to the smuggling of oil and other goods through Turkey and allowing supplies and recruits through to them.

The London Kurds organising this protest say that many Kurds and Turkish socialists here “have seen friends and family murdered in recent days and increasingly over the last few years by the Turkish state as it’s nationalist, imperialist and Islamist project has been damaged by the progressive politics of the Kurdish movement.”

After the protest at Downing St, the Kurds marched off for a further protest in front of the BBC to try to persuade them to properly cover the massacre and other atrocities of the Turkish state against Kurds.


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.


Kurds protest against Turkish invasion

Sunday, January 19th, 2020

Kurds have lived in the area around what is now southern and western Turkey and northern Syria and Iraq and north-western Iran at least since the time of Alexander the Great, and in more modern times were a part of the Ottoman Empire until the end of the First World War. At the end of the war their region was split between several countries, including Armenia and a rather smaller area called Kurdistan, but soon after this was occupied by Turkish forces under Kemal Atatürk  and by 1923 the whole area was incorporated into modern Turkey.

There were various uprisings by the Kurds against Turkish rule, and Turkey tried to eliminate Kurdish culture, banning the language and even the use of the terms  “Kurds”, “Kurdistan”, or “Kurdish”, re-christening the Kurds as “Mountain Turks”. Many Kurds were jailed.

In the 1980s and 90s there was a guerilla war led by the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) with the Turks destroying thousands of villages and killing over 20,000 Kurds. In 1999 Kurdish leader Abdullah Öcalan (“Apo”) was captured by the CIA in Nairobi and handed over to the Turks. He was tried in Turkey and sentenced to death, but this was later commuted to life imprisonment. He was held in solitary confinement in an island prison until 2009, when a few more PKK prisoners were moved with him to a new jail on the island, and he remains in prison, but still acts as a highly regarded leader of his people.

The protest at the Turkish embassy followed further threats by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to invade more Kurdish areas of Northern Syria, where the Kurdish state of Rojava has been set up with a  “democratic confederalism” constitution based on the ideas of Murray Bookchin which enshrines the values of environmentalism, self-defense, gender equality, and a pluralistic tolerance for religion, politics, and culture.

The call out for the protest states:

Through invasion, destruction & annihilation the fascist Turkish State, with its media, secret intelligence services and the Kurds he has pulled to his side is now trying to destroy the hard works of the Kurdish people in Northern Syria.

Its aim is to annihilate the Kurds and their existence. To protest this, the kurdish community and their friends will stand honourably against the atrocities being committed by the Turkish state and strengthen the struggle for freedom.

On this basis, Kurds and all the people who believe in democracy and peace are invited to protest against this fascist regime.

Stop Turkey’s Invasion of Kurdistan


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Angola & Muslims

Saturday, May 18th, 2019

I don’t know how much you know about Muslims in Angola, but when I took the picture above outside the Angolan Embassy just off Baker St in London I knew very little. So of course I Googled it, and came up with several articles, including one in The Guardian and I think on Wikipedia, and wrote a little about why this protest was taking place to go with my pictures, along with rather more about Anjem Choudary who came along to speak at the event.

Thanks to a post by AFP Fact Check, from AFP Kenya, I now know that these pictures have in recent months been shared on social media along with pictures from various countries showing mosques being demolished in posts falsely claming that Islam has been banned in Angola

Mary Kulundu, the author of ‘No these pictures are not evidence of Angola banning Islam‘ searched for the pictures online:

Finally, there are two photographs of Muslims protesting against the Angolan government. A reverse image search on Tineye showed that these two images were originally published in 2013 by the British photographer Peter Marshall on his website, My London Diary.

It isn’t of course true that Islam was banned in Angola, but an Islamic organisation had failed to get legal recognition in Angola, along with many other non-Christian organisations, which greatly restricts their activities. Several mosques have been destroyed and others closed and Wikipedia gives some some details, though the article may not be not up to date. But there are said to be 60 mosques still open in the country and Muslims are free to practice their religion.

But Muslims in Angola are still trying to get official recognition almost six years later, though apparently there is less opposition now, and the number of signatures required by any religious congregation to acheive recognition has been lowered from 100,000 to 60,000. Estimates of the total number of Muslims in Angola vary wildly from around 80,000 to 800,000, almost all of them Sunni Muslims.

Back in November 2013 I speculated on why Choudary had not yet been arrested, and a couple of years later he was, and sentenced for urging others to support ISIS. Of course when I took these pictures in November 2013, few had heard of ISIS, which was only proscribed in June 2014 . When Choudary talked about Sunni armies being on the move and establishing the Khalifa (caliphate) I thought he was being a fantasist, but all too soon the reality became clear.

See and read more at Islamists Protest Angolas Ban on Muslims


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