Posts Tagged ‘Janjaweed militias’

Grenfell, Idlib, Sudan – 15 June 2019

Wednesday, June 15th, 2022

Grenfell, Idlib, Sudan – 15 June 2019 – Another day I photographed several protests in Central London.


Grenfell Solidarity March – Westminster

The previous evening I’d photographed the silent march from close to Grenfell Tower remembering the victims of the disaster on the second anniversary of the disastrous fire which killed 72 and left survivors traumatised, and came up to London the following day, Saturday 15 June, for a rather noisier solidarity march, starting and finishing at Downing St, organised by Justice4Grenfell.

My journey up to London had been much slower than usual as there were engineering works on the railway and no trains from my station, and I decided to take a bus the five miles or so to my nearest Underground station for a train to London. On the way the bus passed a recently closed fire station, a reminder of the cuts made by Boris Johnson to the fire services which had contributed to the severity of the Grenfell disaster – though this fire station had been closed by Surrey County Council.

Banners from several branches of the Fire Brigade Union were prominent on the march, which was also supported by other trade unionists and housing activists, including the Construction Safety Campaign, the Housing For All campaign, Defend Council Housing and the Global Womens Strike, as well as others from the Grenfell community.

Yvette Williams demands Truth and Justice For Grenfell

From a rally opposite Downing Street the campaigners marched to the Home Office in Marsham St, now also home to he Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, for more speeches. The Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea is one of the richest bouroughs in the country, but it is dominated by Tory councillors representing the wealthy areas of the borough who seem to have little regard for poorer residents.

They signed off through their housing organisation the penny-pinching use of unsuitable highly flammable cladding, failed to properly oversee its installation, made other changes that threatened the safety of the residents and arranged for inadequate fire safety inspections, and dismissed the warnings of residents who they labelled as trouble-makers.

RBKC’s reaction after the fire was also severely lacking, and often showed little understanding or concern for the survivors, and their record over rehousing them was abysmal – and remains so now.

Among the speakers outside the Ministry of Housing were Moyra Samuels of Justice4Grenfell and Eileen Short of Defend Council Housing. After the speeches the protesters marched back to Downing St where there was to be a further rally, but I left to go elsewhere.

Grenfell Solidarity March


‘We are the Love’ for Idlib – Parliament Square, London

The Black Eyed Peas song ‘Where’s the love?’ was the inspriation for a protest which was part of an international non partisan campaign to raise awareness about the massacre currently unfolding in the province of Idlib in Syria. It called for an end to the violence in Idlib, the opening up a the supply of humanitarian aid to the people of the city and for those responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity to be brought to justice.

Campaigners stood in a line holding posters which spelt out the message ‘#we are the love’ but this was difficult to photograph, partly because of its length, but also because of the drummer and bagpiper marching in front of it. Bagpipes in my opinion are best heard from the opposite side of the glen and I didn’t stay long.

‘We are the Love’ for Idlib


Hands off Sudan march, Hyde Park Corner

I left Parliament Square to look for a protest march over the massacre of 124 peaceful protesters by Janjaweed militias (Rapid Support Forces) in Khartoum and other cities in Sudan.

They were marching from the United Arab Emirates Embassy in Belgrave Square, and going to protest at the Egyptian and Saudi embassies, as all three countries had been visited by Sudan’s ruling military council and they were thought to be opposing a democratic Sudan and the movement which had led to the removal of corrupt president al-Bashir in April 2019.

From the timings I had for the event I expected them to be at the Egyptian embassy in Mayfair, but when I rushed there from Parliament Square found only a small group of supporters waiting for the protest.

I didn’t know the exact route of the march, but walked back along what seemed to be the its most obvious path, and was very pleased when I got to Hyde Park Corner to see and hear them just emerging from Grosvenor Crescent around a hundred yards away.

They stopped on the pavement just before crossing the road there and there was a lot of loud chanting, mainly led by women at the front of the protests, before crossing the road towards Hyde Park. They stopped again there and there seemed to be some arguments between protests and there was much more loud shouting and chanting, none of which I could understand.

Fortunately many of the posters and placards were in English, and as well the many Sudanese there were also some supporters of English left groups marching with them.

Hands off Sudan march


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Darfur – International Day of Action: 2007

Thursday, September 16th, 2021

Sudan became independent in 1956 and ever since it has suffered civil wars and political instability. Since 1899 it had effectively been a British colony though Anglo-Egyptian in name, with British policy largely being directed at ensuring the Sudan did not become united with Egypt. Under British rule it was effectively administered as two separate regions, North and South Sudan.

After the 1952 Egyptian revolution Egypt and Britain decided to give both regions a free vote on independence but the country gained independence without an agreed constitution, and arguments continued among the political parties. These were resolved by a military coup in 1958, and the country was under military rule (with three attempts at further military coups) until civil disobedience in 1964 led to a return to civilian rule.

Stability of a sort only came to Sudan in 1989 when Colonel Omar al-Bashir carried out another coup and set up a one-party state with himself as President in 1993. Massive protests in 2019 eventually led to him being overthrown and to a new constitution with a transitional joint milatry-civilian government.

Although there had been previous conflicts in Darfur, a region roughly the size of Spain at the south-west of Sudan with borders with Libya, Chad, the Central African Republic and South Sudan it was only in 2003 that the War in Darfur began when rebel groups accused the government of oppressing Darfur’s non-Arab population.

According to Wikipedia, “The government responded to attacks by carrying out a campaign of ethnic cleansing against Darfur’s non-Arabs. This resulted in the death of hundreds of thousands of civilians and the indictment of Sudan’s president, Omar al-Bashir, for genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Court.”

Estimates of the number killed “range up to several hundred thousand dead, from either combat or starvation and disease” and millions were forced to flee into refugee camps or across the border. Many seeking asylum in Europe are refugees from the Darfur war.

UN attempts to intervene were largely ineffective and the Sudanese government made clear its opposition to foreign involvement. Various peace talks and ceasefires failed to stop continuing violence and war crimes, but by 2009 the war had quietened down. Peace talks and donor conferences in Doha continued but so did attacks, with villages burnt and mass rapes by Sudanese soldiers in 2014. Sudan was accused of having used mustard gas on civilians in 2016.

Finally in 2019 a draft declaration was signed to make a peace agreement, and some deals were signed in 2020 with the UN and African Union peacekeeping mission coming to an end after 13 years. But deadly tribal clashes have continued in 2021 in Darfur, often fuelled by disputes over land, partly a legacy of the changes to the principles of land ownership from communal to individual imposed under British rule, and exacerbated by climate change.

More from 2007 on My London Diary at Protect Darfur


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.


15th June 2019

Tuesday, June 15th, 2021

Grenfell protest at Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government

Saturday 15th July was one of those days when my local station has no trains. I don’t think it used to happen, or at least only very rarely, before we privatised the railways, but it seems to be happening on quite a few weekends every year now. At first when these weekends began there was complete chaos, with unmarked rail replacement buses where the only way to find out if they were going the right way for you was to ask the driver, who usually knew, though often didn’t know how to get there and had to send a call out to passengers asking if anyone knew where the station was.

Closed Fire Station in Ashford

One one memorable occasion a passenger directed a double-decker down a road that, although it was the route I might have walked, narrows halfway down to rather less than bus width. After a very tricky and lengthy reverse we got back to the main road and drove on, past the correct turning. I and other passengers jumped out of our seats to tell the driver. He drove on, looking desperately for somewhere to turn the bus in busy narrow streets, finally doing a 3 or 4 point turn where the main road widened a little almost a mile on. This time as we cam back we made sure he turned left at the correct point.

Grenfell – 72 Dead and still no arrests How Come?

After a few such incidents, things did get sorted out more, but still too often the rail replacement bus arrived a couple of minutes late and missed its supposed connection – apparently no one had the authority to hold it for the bus. A journey that usually took 35 minutes often ended up close to two hours (and I’d face similar chaos on the way home.) So unless there was something really important to photograph I often stayed home.

Yvette Williams demanding the Truth and Justice For Grenfell

My alternative was to take a bus to Heathrow or Hatton Cross where I could join the Underground, and this became more viable once I could simply swipe a credit card to pay for the ride. It was still a slow journey, but more reliable than the rail replacement lottery. And on Saturday 15 June I took the bus and made a few pictures on the way from the upper deck.

It was the day after the second anniversary of the Grenfell Tower fire in which 72 people died, and Justice For Grenfell had organised a solidarity march, starting and finishing at Downing St. After some speeches at Downing St, we marched to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government offices in the Home Office building to protest there, with a few more speeches before leaving to march back to Downing St for a final rally.

The event was supported by housing and building safety campaigners including Defend Council Housing and by branches of the Fire Brigades Union from around the UK.

As I walked through Parliament Square on my way to take the tube to another protest, I stopped briefly to photograph two events there. One was ‘We are the Love’ for Idlib inspired by the Black Eyed Peas song Where’s the love? to raise awareness about the massacre currently unfolding in the province of Idlib in Syria. Just along from this line of people holding large cards each with a letter of their message, and a drummer and a piper, was a small and quieter protest about the wrongful conviction of Brendan Dassey and his uncle, Steven Avery for the murder of Teresa Halbach in Wisconsin in 2005. The long and convoluted case which reflects badly on both the local police and the US legal system was the subject of a lenghty TV series.

By now I thought I would be too late to join the Hands Off Sudan march at its start at the UAE Embassy and guessed they might have got as far as the Egyptian Embassy, but when I arrived found just a few there waiting for the march. So I began to walk back on what I thought might be their route. I heard them before I could see them as I walked across Hyde Park corner, and the large and noisy crowd emerged from Grosvenor Cresecent as I turned down Grosvenor Place.

They were protesting after 124 peaceful protesters were massacred by Janjaweed militias (Rapid Support Forces) in Khartoum. Protests had begun in December and appeared to be causing a peaceful transition to democracy, removing corrupt president al-Bashir, until the heads of the ruling military council visited Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Egypt, all countries opposed to a democratic Sudan – and today’s march was going to each of their embassies.

The marchers seemed to be stopping every few yards around Hyde Park Corner and singing and dancing and shouting slogans. Half an hour after I met them they had only moved on a few hundred yards are were slowly making their way up Park Lane. I felt I had taken enough photographs and went back to Hyde Park Corner for the slow journey home via Hatton Cross.

Hands off Sudan march
‘We are the Love’ for Idlib
Grenfell Solidarity March
Staines, Heathrow, Bedfont


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.