Posts Tagged ‘Kurdish’

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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More from May Days: 2013

Friday, May 8th, 2020

Another London May Day March and rally – and I went into some details on My London Dairy:

The march, organised by The London May Day Organising Committee, was supported by the Greater London and South East TUC ( GLATUC & S&ERTUC), UNITE London & Eastern Region, CWU London Region, PCS London & South East Region, ASLEF, RMT, TSSA, MU London, FBU London & Southern Regions, GMB London & Southern Regions, UNISON Greater London Region, NPC, GLPA and other Pensioners’ organisations and organisations representing Turkish, Kurdish, Chilean, Colombian, Peruvian, Portuguese, West Indian, Sri Lankan, Cypriot, Tamil, Iraqi, Iranian, Irish, Nigerian migrant workers & communities plus many other trade union & community organisations.

London May Day March

As in previous years the rally, although it had some rousing speeches from some leading figures on the left, including Len McCluskey, Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell, didn’t really reflect the diversity of the march – which was emphasised by the many young protesters who had climbed up onto the plinth and continued their protest there.

There were relatively few anti-capitalist and anarchist groups present this year, and I wasn’t aware of any separate events organised by them, so it was perhaps a rather less interesting May Day than some.

It was a large march and rally, though not massive, and it brought much of central London to a standstill for an hour or two, with strikes on the day at closing some government offices. But as usual,, although many newspapers and broadcasters reported May Day events around the world, and some of the odder events in towns and villages in the UK, there appeared to be a total media blackout on what was happening in London.

As so often, if you want to know what is happening you can’t rely on the mainstream media to tell you. Reports on Facebook and elsewhere by independent media organisations as well as some foreign-based news sources had reports on London’s May Day – and of course my own pictures and short description were online within a few hours of my arriving home, and shortly after on Facebook, with a larger selection of images appearing a few days later on My London Diary.

TUC May Day Rally
London May Day March


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.


More from May Days: 2010

Tuesday, May 5th, 2020

Perhaps because in 2010 May Day was a Saturday and an election was coming up in five days time there were more things than usual happening as well as the usual Trade Union & Socialist May Day March from Clerkenwell Green. This had its usual mix of communist and socialist groups from London’s various communities along with trade unions, campaign groups and others but with a strong anarchist bloc, including the Black Horse of Anarchy and an executioner.

Among the trade union groups were the National Union of Sex Workers.

While the official TUC rally took place in Trafalgar Square I joined the May Day ElectionCarnival in Parliament Square. There the Black Horse of Anarchy which had marched from Clerkenwell with an effigy of Nick Griffin was joined by the three other Horses of the Apocalypse which had made shorter journeys from the Westminster campaign headquarters of the three political parties, bringing with them effigies of Gordon Brown, David Cameron and Nick Clegg.

There was an extremely crowded and rather confused series of executions with plenty of gore, not easy to photograph, though I took rather a lot of pictures.

The sky turned black but the storm held off for the heads of class traitors to be exhibited on poles

and the Space Hijackers to finally arrive with their ‘Spoil Your Vote Campaign Bus‘, which had been touring London. Their message was clear:

“If voting actually changed anything they would ban it. Did you get to vote on the Iraq war? Did you get to vote about regulations on banking? Did you get to vote on MP’s expenses? Is this a democracy or a bad joke?

Why play by the rules in this farce of an election?

Every spoilt ballot gets counted and shown to the candidates in that constituency, so why not reject the lot of them and tell them what you think with your ballot paper?”

Rhythms of Resistance had made their way from Parliament Square to the Leake Street graffiti tunnel, where the Rave Against The Machine continued in the dry as the storm broke overhead.

Rave Against The Machine
Spoil Your Vote Campaign Bus
May Day Election Carnival
Trade Union & Socialist May Day March


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.


More from May Days: 2008

Monday, May 4th, 2020

Continuing my short series of posts about previous May Day celebrations in London that I photographed.

I photographed them after they had photographed me

As usual the London May Day committee had organised a march from Clerkenwell Square and my day started with police photographing me as I arrived to photograph the event. As I commented:

It’s hard to see any real point in this other than a kind of mild intimidation of journalists and difficult not to regard it as an attack on free speech and the freedom of the press. Definitely a distortion of the role of the police in a free society, it is also one that distracts them from the vital tasks they have at the present time.

TUC May Day March

Numbers on the march were lower than in previous years, perhaps because it was also a day when elections were taking place in London, and the weather probably didn’t help. But there were those with trade union banners, including the sacked Gate Gourmet workers. As usual there were large groups of marchers from the Turkish and Kurdish communities, and I particularly liked the picture at the top of this post, but there are many more of them on My London Diary.

Many accounts of May Day write about its origins with the The Second International calling for a commemoration of the Haymarket Martyrs as an international workers day, but seldom mention its special significance for the Turkish groups:

For Turkish groups, the day also commemorates the 1977 Taksim Square massacre, when around 40 people in a crowd of around half a million celebrating May Day were killed and around 200 injured by firing from the Hotel International. None of those responsible has been brought to justice but both Turkish secret police and CIA have been implicated. At least at the moment our own police are only using cameras.

As the marchers left Clerkenwell on their way to Trafalgar Square I made my way to one of my least favourite areas of London, Mayfair, where the Space Hijackers had announced a celebration, a recreation of the Mayfayres which gave the area its name and were banned in  1708 because of their boisterous disorder.

Camilla and Boris took turns in the stocks

They had made their plans after Police Commander Bob Broadhurst had attempted to justify the very different policing of pro-Tibet and pro-Chinese protesters during the Olympic Torch debacle in London by claiming the pro-China group were not restricted because they were celebrating rather than protesting. As I commented in 2008 on My London Diary:

As their various events over the years have shown, the Space Hijackers do a rather ace job of celebrating, although they haven’t always had the same cooperation from the police as those upholding human rights abuse by China – or even football supporters. For this year’s May Fayre, police even supplied a comprehensive photographic service, although the price (I believe £10) of obtaining your pictures from them by a Freedom of Information request seems rather high, especially considering the poor quality of results I’ve seen. As I think my pictures demonstrate, it’s often better to use a wide-angle rather than the extreme telephoto “peeping toms” favoured by police photographers.

They were also seen searching a few people, possibly to enforce the fancy dress code, but otherwise just seemed to be standing around the area – particularly across the access roads – and carrying out a useful role in preventing traffic from disrupting the festivities while letting those on foot walk in and out as they wished.


It was a fun event, and even some of the police appeared to enjoy it (and the overtime they were getting for watching what was an entirely peaceful and well-organised event – even if they maypole dancing could have done with more practice) though as in the morning we were all getting extensively and obtrusively photographed. I’ve often wondered what they do with all these images, but they are rather secretive and embarrassed about them. Despite having photographed me many times on numerous occasions, on the only time I bothered to make a Freedom of Information request and paid my £10 they were unable to find a single picture.

Mayfair Mayfayre – Space Hijackers
TUC May Day March


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.



Shrinking May Day

Friday, August 30th, 2019

There has been a march in London on May Day, May 1st, for many years now, and since I went freelance I think I’ve attended it most or all years. Before when I was working as a full-time teacher, I was usually working on the actual May Day and unable to celebrate it, though back in the 70s I would turn up to work with a sprig of Lily of the Valley in my lapel, provided by a left-wing colleague, with French connections – there they have a public holiday to celebrate La Fête du Travail which is also know as La Fête du Muguet .

Back in 1978, the then Labour Prime Minister James Callaghan lost his nerve in creating a May bank holiday, and instead of declaring May Day as a holiday we got the rather ridiculous first Monday in May. Despite it not being May Day it remains contentious, with the Tory right Little Englanders wanting to replace it with a nationalistic UK Day ‘Best of Britain’ celebration in Ocotober. Next year it is to be moved to Friday May 8th to celebrate the 75th anniversary of VE Day.

Without London’s ethnic communities, I think the London march would have died years ago, with Kurds and Turkish communist groups really keeping the event alive and many other nationalities taking part. There is a small hard-core of left wing trade unionists and British communists, as well as various issue groups also.

This year Clerkenwell Green seemed very empty when I arrived at the time marchers were supposed to gather from noon, though more came later, knowing it would only start around 1pm.

But there were a few speeches in front of the Marx Library, notably from an man from the Indian Workers Association about the 100th anniversary of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre  and their demand for a formal apology from Britain and the Venezuelan ambassador who spoke in support of their government against media lies used to promote the  US-inspired and supported right-wing coup

Two unwelcome marchers held a banner with an anti-trans message woman an adult human female. Later following complaints they were challenged by march stewards and forced to leave the march. There is little support for this ‘Terf’ bigotry on the left which almost universally supports LGBTQ+ rights as an important area of human rights.

You can see more pictures at London May Day .

My next post will look at some of the banners on the May Day March


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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