Posts Tagged ‘Kurds’

Chelsea Manning, Kurdistan & Syria – 2016

Sunday, December 17th, 2023

Chelsea Manning, Kurdistan & Syria – Three protests in London on Saturday 17th December 2016.


Vigil on Chelsea Manning’s 29th birthday – Trafalgar Square

Chelsea Manning, Kurdistan & Syria

A silent vigil on the steps of St Martin-in-the-Fields in Trafalgar Square marked the 29th birthday of trans-gender whistleblower Chelsea (formerly Bradley) Manning, jailed for 35 years in 2013, whose courageous leaks revealed war crimes by US, UK and other governments.

Chelsea Manning, Kurdistan & Syria
A Queer Strike protester and veteran peace activist Bruce Kent

Working for the US Army as a specialist intelligence analyst as Bradley Manning she released almost 750,000 documents to Wikileaks in 2010 showing the US, UK and other governments’ war crimes and corruption in Afghanistan, Haiti, Iraq, Israel & the Palestinian Authority, Peru, Venezuela and elsewhere. Some were classified and many others were highly sensitive and incriminating. In 2013 she was sentenced to 35 years and held in the maximum security U.S. Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth.

Chelsea Manning, Kurdistan & Syria

The London vigil was a part of an international day of action for her release. Since she came out as a trans woman in 2013 she had been repeatedly harassed by the military in prison and twice in 2016 had attempted suicide. Protesters around the world called on President Obama to release her on the basis of the prison time she had already served before he left office. The following month he commuted her sentence to around seven years and she was released from jail. She spent a further year in 2019-2020 after she refused to testify to a grand jury investigating WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

Vigil on Chelsea Manning’s 29th birthday


Kurds protest for a Free Kurdistan – Downing St

Chelsea Manning, Kurdistan & Syria

Kurds, many wearing or waving the flag of Free Kurdistan called on the civilised world to recognise the sacrifices made by the Peshmerga in fighting for freedom and against Islamic extremism in Iraq and Syria.

The Peshmerga is the army of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in Iraq, first formed in the18th century as border guards but more recently fighting for Kurdish autonomy, although it also includes Assyrian and Yazidi units. Iraqi Kurdistan is an autonomous region of Iraq, and under the Iraqi constitution the Pershmerga is responsible for the security of the region.

They played a key role in US missions against al-Qaeda after 9/11and were with other Kurdish forces now fighting against ISIS with some support from the USA. But the USA was refusing to directly supply any weapons except through the Iraqi government who were failing to pass any on the the Pershmerga as they feared they would be used to promote an independent Kurdistan. And in London people seemd to be clearly calling for a free Kurdistan.

The result of this failure to pass on weapons is that the force is poorly armed, mainly using Soviet-era weapons they captured in earlier Iraq uprisings and now weapons captured from ISIS in 2014. This protest called for greater support to provide them with modern weapons and other support they lack including ammunition, ambulances and military communications equipment.

Kurds protest for a Free Kurdistan


Doctors & Nurses Die-in for Syria – Old Palace Yard, Westminster

A short walk away in front of the Houses of Parliament Healthcare workers held a die-in at Parliament in solidarity with the Syrian people.

They called for an end to the bombing of civilians, hospitals and schools by the Assad regime and for the UK government to put pressure on the Syrian government to allow the delivery of aid. They urged the UK to make airdrops of aid, provide safe passage to all those trapped and grant asylum to refugees.

The protest was organised by Medact’s Arms and Militarisation (MAM) group along with Syria solidarity activist groups and individuals including the Syrian British Medical Society.

Peter Tatchell holds a poster

Between 2014 and 2021 when the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme closed, the UK accepted around 20,000 Syrian refugees. When adjusted to reflect the population size of European countries this puts the UK well down among European countries. For the total number of resettled refugees from 2008-20021 the UK comes fifth behind Germany, Sweden, Norway and France but adjusted for population size we are in 10th position.

But along with the USA, Britain failed to take any effective action in support of the Syrian revolution and the crimes against the people committed by the Assad regime, and were severely outplayed by Russia who backed Assad.

Doctors & Nurses Die-in for Syria


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Hate Crime, Turkish Invasion, Hong Kong & More

Thursday, November 2nd, 2023

Hate Crime, Turkish Invasion, Hong Kong & More – Saturday 2nd November 2019 was a busy day for me and I made six posts from different events on My London Diary – and here is a little about each in the order of my day.


Day of the Dead – Columbia Market, Bethnal Green

Hate Crime, Turkish Invasion, Hong Kong & More

I walked from Hoxton Overground station to Columbia Market which was holding a festival for the Mexican Day of the Dead, arriving at the time this was supposed to start. But it had been raining heavily and had only just stopped which had put off others from coming early and the streets were pretty deserted. So all I was able to photograph were the decorations on the street and on some of the shops.

Hate Crime, Turkish Invasion, Hong Kong & More

Things would almost certainly have become more interesting had I stayed, but I had other things to attend and had to leave after around half an hour. I’d intended to return later but was too busy. I did take a few pictures as I walked to and from the station as well.

Day of the Dead


Against constitutional change in Guinea – Downing St

Hate Crime, Turkish Invasion, Hong Kong & More

Back in central Westminster I photographed protesters from the UK branch of the National Front for the Defence of the Constitution (FNDC) who were demanding that President Alpha Conde abandoned the constitutional chages that would enable him to seek a third term in power.

Hate Crime, Turkish Invasion, Hong Kong & More

The London protest came after massive protests in Guinea in October during which 11 people had been killed in government violence against the opposition and peaceful protesters. They called for an end to and end to the killing and the release of all political prisoners, with posters showing the victims and calling for peace and justice in their country.

Against constitutional change in Guinea


Stop Hate Crime, Educate for Diversity – Downing Street

Also at Downing Street, campaigners from Stand Up to Lgbtq+ Hate Crime condemned the increasing incidence of hate crime and bigotry against LGBTQ+ people and defended the teaching of lessons which feature LGBTQ+ families and relationships.

Their message was one of celebrating love, inclusion and diversity and say No to Homophobia, Islamophobia and Transphobia. I took some pictures and left as some began to speak about their own experience of discrimination at school before before the group marched to Eros in Piccadilly Circus for a further rally.

Stop Hate Crime, Educate for Diversity


Defend Rojava against Turkish Invasion – Marble Arch & Oxford St

The largest protest of the day was a a rally and march in support of Rojava in North-East Syria against Turkish invasion which gathered at Marble Arch.

Since soon after the start of the revolution in Syria a large area of the country had been under the de-facto control of a Kurdish-led democratic administration which has put ecological justice, a cooperative economy and women’s liberation at the heart of society, enshrined in a constitution which recognises the rights of the many ethnic communities in the area.

Many have seen this area, Rojava, as an important model for more democratic government, particularly in multi-ethnic areas, but Turkey sees it as a threat on its borders. For generations it has been discriminating and fighting against its own Kurdish population which makes up almost a fifth of the country’s population, and the Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan, held in prison in Turkey since he was abducted from Kenya in 1999.

In prison Ocalan continued to campaign for the Kurdish people but had moved away from militancy towards political solutions. In jail he wrote about the rights of women and developed the philosophy of democratic confederalism which forms the basis of the constitution of Rojava.

Rojava has received wide support for its principles from environmental groups, green movements, feminists, human rights supports and those generally on the left, but not from western governments who see it as a threat to capitalist hegemony.

Despite this, the Kurdish people’s defence forces in Syria with the aid of US air power led the successful fight against ISIS. Turkey had backed ISIS although denying to do so, aiding them in getting the massive funds they needed by smuggling out oil from the ISIS held regions. Again they saw ISIS as an ally in their fight against the Kurds.

When Trump withdrew US troops from Syria, Turkey took advantage of this to invade areas of Syria controlled by the Kurds, and to encourage and aid Islamic groups to join them in their attacks. Turkey as a member of NATO has been encouraged and helped to develop its armed forces and is second only to the USA within Nation and is said to be the 13th largest military power in the world.

The Turkish invasion threatened the existence of Rojava, who had been forced to go to both Russia and President Asad of Syria for support. Obviously this threatens the future of the area and its constitution and its long-term hopes of autonomy in the area.

I left the protest on Oxford St on its way to the BBC who they accuse of having failed to report accurately on what is happening in the area. There had certainly been very little coverage of the recent events and a long-term failure to address issues of discrimination against the Kurds in Turkey.

Defend Rojava against Turkish Invasion


March for Autonomy for Hong Kong – Marble Arch & Oxford St

Also meeting at Marble Arch were protesters, mainly Chinese from Hong Kong living in the UK, and in solidarity and supporting the five demands of those then protesting in Hong Kong. Many wore masks to protect their identity, either because they may return home or fear their families there may be persecuted.

They demanded 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 and the implementation of Dual Universal Suffrage.

More pictures at March for Autonomy for Hong Kong


Queer Solidarity for trans and non-binary – Soho Square

Bi Survivors Network, London Bi Pandas, Sister Not Cister UK, BwiththeT and LwiththeT held a rally in Soho Square pointing out that the newly announced LGB Alliance’, which claims to be protecting LGB people is actually a hate group promoting transphobia.

They pointed out that trans and non-binary people have always been a part of the gay community and played an important part in the fight for gay rights and in particular Stonewall, and there is no place for such bi-phobic and gay-separatist views in the gay community.

More pictures: Queer Solidarity for trans and non-binary



Global Frackdown TTIP & Kobane

Wednesday, October 11th, 2023

Global Frackdown TTIP & Kobane: On Saturday October 11th 2014 I photographed a protest against HSBC supporting fracking in the UK, against the secret TTIP US/EU trade deal and finally a rally in support of the Kurdish fight against ISIS in Kobane and against Turkish support for the ISIS militants.


Global Frackdown at HSBC

Global Frackdown TTIP & Kobane

As a part of a ‘Global Frackdown’ by communities around the world against this environmentally destructive industry which leaves a legacy of water contamination, air pollution and health problems, activists took a mock ‘fracking rig’ to two branches of HSBC in central London. UK anti-fracking campaigners were joined by some from Algeria and Romania.

Global Frackdown TTIP & Kobane

The HSBC bank provides banking services for Cuadrilla the oil and gas exploration and production company developing fracking in the UK and also funds fracking around the world. In Algeria, they are helping to bring this water intensive process to the Sahara and in the US, they underwrite the BG Group responsible for fracking in large parts of the country.

Global Frackdown TTIP & Kobane

As well as the particular problems caused by fracking produces a dirty fossil fuel whose use deepens the climate crisis. But it was largely the earthquakes caused by Cuadrilla’s exploratory drilling that led to a moratorium on it in 2019 in England & Wales. The ban was briefly lifted by Liz Truss in her short but disastrous time as prime minister, but reinstated by Rishi Sunak.

Global Frackdown TTIP & Kobane

I met with the campaigners in Golden Square in Soho, where they were being closely watched and probably outnumbered by obviously nervous police who tried with no success to find out what they planned to do. After a while a group dressed in orange ‘Frack Off London’ hi-viz suits picked up some long black poles they had brought with them and marched towards Regent Street, with others carrying a banner and joining the procession.

They marched along Regent Street forming a quite impressive small crowd and stepped to erect the poles into their mock fracking rig in front of the HSBC branch, where they held a rally. Supporting the protest were Climate Revolution and Romanian anti-fracking activists who had brought their own drilling rig for some street theatre.

After some speeches the campaigners set off marching again, down Regent Street and past Piccadilly Circus on their way to the Strand branch of HSBC where they erected their rig again.

Here there were more speeches and some from the Romanian group put on a short piece of street theatre, fortunately in English, involving a greedy banker, corrupt politicians and people protesting.

The the protest marched off and down Whitehall to Parliament Square for a final short rally and some photographs.

More at Global Frackdown at HSBC.


No TTIP Rally & Banner Drop – Westminster

Protesters against the TTIP, a EU-US Trade Deal being negotiated at highly secretive talks would let corporations sue governments, lock in privatisation of our schools and NHS, undermine protection for privacy, workers and the environment and allow fracking and other harmful activities.

Although the talks were secret, some details had emerged and they were extremely worrying. The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership would get the EU to remove the barriers which stopped US agricultural products produced under less hygienic conditions with lower animal welfare standards such as chlorine-washed chickens and beef pumped with high levels of growth hormones as well as GM crops being imported.

EU governments which took actions on environmental grounds could find themselves in industrial kangaroo courts which could impose huge fines if their laws caused US and other companies to lose potential profits from exporting their polluting goods.

The protesters had brought with them a very long two part banner reading ‘HANDS OFF DEMOCRACY’ which was really too long for Parliament Square – and certainly too long for most photographers. A third part of it read ‘#no TTIP’, and I could only just fit thatin as well using a fisheye lens.

After the rally in the square, the protesters marched on to Westminster Bridge and carried out a ‘Banner Drop’ holding all three parts of the message. I’d run down the busy embankment to where it was possible to get a decent picture of the whole thing, but just as I began taking pictures it was moved, probably at the phoned request of the rather lazier official photographer for the group who was much closer to the bridge. And shortly after I’d started taking pictures at the second position it was on the move again.

More pictures at:
#NoTTIP – Hands off our democracy
#NoTTIP – Banner Drop


Support the Defenders of Kobane – Parliament Square

In Parliament Square I also photographed a rally with thousands, mainly of Kurdish or Turkish origin who had stopped for a rally on a march around London supporting the Kurdish fight against ISIS in Kobane, calling for support for the Kurdish fighters and condemning Turkish support for ISIS.

Kobane is a city in Syria and was surrounded by Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) militants in September 2014, forcing most of its inhabitants to flee to Turkey. Bloody battles by Kurdish forces with some help from US air strikes recaptured the city and the surrounding area, and they quickly drove back a later attack by ISIL in June 2015.

Kobane was at the time part of the de facto autonomous region of Syria, Rojava, a remarkable Kurdish democracy with a constitution giving equality to men, women and all ethnic and religious groups. But in October 2019 the city was threatened by an invasion by Turkey and accepted the entry of the Syrian government forces and Russian Military Police into the city, although it still then apparently remained under the de facto control of Rojava.

Turkey has supported the Islamic state militants, hoping that they will defeat the Kurds, many of whom live in Turkey and have been struggling for many years for greater autonomy. Turkey have provided routes for smuggling oil to provide finance for ISIS, and have for some years been fighting with Islamic militants against Kurdish forces in Syria.

Many speakers at the rally in Parliament Square called for the lifting by the UK of the ban on the PKK, the Kurdish Workers Party, whose leader Abdullah Öcalan has been held in jail in Turkey since 1999. In recent years Öcalan has been attempting to negotiate a peaceful end to the conflict, declaring a ceasefire at the Kurdish New Year in March 2013. There were many speakers from the mainstream UK community, including a number of trade unionists, London Green MEP Jean Lambert, and human rights lawyer Margaret Owen.

As the protesters marched away from Parliament Square there was a confrontation with police after they had tried to search some of the protesters and make an arrest. There was a lot of pushing and shoving and the marchers who had already left the square sat down on the street in Whitehall. They were still sitting there half an hour later, with negotiations between the police and protesters apparently continuing. Later one of the three men arrested was released and the protest came to and end.

Support the Defenders of Kobane


Putin Hands Off Queers & Syria – 2013

Sunday, September 3rd, 2023

Putin Hands Off Queers & Syria – 2013 On Tuesday 3rd September 2013, ten years ago I photographed two different protests in Central London, beginning at Downing St against Russian homophobia and going on the the US Embassy in Grosvenor Square for a rather mixed protest over Syria.


Love Russia, Hate Homophobia – Downing St

Putin Hands Off Queers & Syria

Several hundred had come to Downing St two days before David Cameron was to attend a G20 Summit in St Petersburg hosted by Putin, urging our Prime Minister to press him to repeal the Russian anti-gay law and prosecute violent homophobes.

Putin Hands Off Queers & Syria

The organisers had asked people to wear red, and many did though others came in more colourful attire and several were in drag. The protesters including a large African LGBT contingent and Peter Tatchell.

Putin Hands Off Queers & Syria

The protest which was a part of a world-wide day of action against Russian homophobia :

Putin Hands Off Queers & Syria

The organisers had listed eight themes for the action including some related to the forthcoming 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics:

  • David Cameron: What are you doing about the anti-gay law in Russia? We want answers. Tell Putin to drop the law.
  • Russia: End the anti-gay law & homophobic violence
  • Solidarity with Russian LGBT & human rights defenders
  • Defend freedom of expression & human rights for all Russians
  • Oppose the Putin regime’s escalating authoritarianism
  • IOC must protect LGBT athletes and spectators, and ensure freedom of expression
  • Sochi corporate sponsors must condemn homophobic legislation & violence
  • The IOC must insist that Russia lifts its ban on a LGBT Pride House at Sochi

More pictures at Love Russia, Hate Homophobia.


Hands off Syria – US Embassy, Grosvenor Square,

Several hundred people, including many Syrians living in the UK, came to the US Embassy for a protest rally called by Stop The War to keep up the pressure on President Obama not to bomb Syria.

Among the Syrians present were groups supporting both the revolution in Syria, particularly Kurds who have long suffered discrimination and repression in the country and supporters of the Assad regime who made the ridiculous claim that there had been no discrimination in Syria.

The Assad regimes have made more than 300,000 Kurds stateless, not included in the census, unable to vote, stand for office, gain school certificates or university degrees, or travel outside their own provinces. International organisations have clearly shown that Kurds in Syria are subject to discriminatory policies against their language and dress.

The Stop The War protest was followed by a lengthy protest by the pro-Assad Syrians against US intervention. They vociferously denied that Assad’s forces had used chemical weapons in Syria blaming others for their use. Reports by various bodies now show there is no room for any doubt that they were used by government forces.

The failure by Obama and other western countries to take effective action in Syria – such as enforcing a no-fly zone in disputed areas left the door open for Putin to intervene providing direct military support for Assad in 2015. Putin was also able to come to arrangements with Turkey despite them being key members of NATO in the region and enabled them to take military action against the Kurds who were the most efficient force in the fight against ISIS in Syria.

The failures of the USA in Syria was probably also key in giving Putin the confidence to invade the Crimea and parts of Ukraine in 2014 – and then on to the current invasion there. We were also given a powerful reminder of earlier US blunders by the presence outside the US Embassy just along from the protests I was covering of a protest camp already in front of the embassy over the attacks on Camp Ashraf in Iraq on 1 September.

Camp Ashraf in Iraq had been home to the People’s Mujahedin of Iran (PMOI/MEK), the main opposition to Islamic rule in Iran, in 1986. Before the US coalition invasion of Iraq, the US had come to an agreement with Iran that they would neutralise the PMOI, and coalition forces attacked the camp. Eventually there was a ceasefire after which the PMOI agreed to give up its tanks, armoured vehicles and heavy artillery and the residents of the camp were given protected status as civilians under the Fourth Geneva Convention.

But after the US left Iraq, the camp came under control of the Iraq government, who attacked it on several occasions. The Iraqi army killed 34 and wounded 318 in a raid in April 2011, and a raid on September 1, 2013 had killed killed 52. The PMOI blamed Iraq for this but others blame Iranian militias directed by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. The PMOI camp was calling for the US for support. The PMOI were focibly moved to another site in Iraq in 2012 and in 2016 the US brokered a deal to relocate them to a site in Albania, giving the UN refugee agency $20million for their resettlement.

More pictures of the Embassy protests at Hands off Syria.


Turkish Spring, Badgers and BNP – 2013

Thursday, June 1st, 2023

Turkish Spring, Badgers and BNP: Ten Years ago on Saturday 1st June 2013 Turks in London were celebrating the start of the Turkish Spring, but now they are mourning last Sundays’ election results with the Islamist dictator winning another term in office. Badger culling was just beginning and there is still no sign it will actually end and over 210,000 badgers have now been killed to little effect – and Defra is still failing to introduce more effective methods to control bovine TB. Anti-fascists managed to prevent the BNP laying a wreath to exploit the killing of Lee Rigby – but despite the family’s clearly stated wishes and MoD condemnation – racists including a leading Tory MP are still using the murder to whip up hatred.


London Supports Turkish Spring – Marble Arch

Saturday 1st June 2013

A large crowd, mainly Turks and Kurds from North London, met in Hyde Park close to Marble Arch for a march in support of the popular protests that had erupted over the previous few days over Gezi Park.

Saturday 1st June 2013

At first there had been small protests against the loss of one of Istanbul’s few remaining green spaces for a shopping mall. But brutal police repression, with tear gas and water cannon used indiscriminately on people in the area angered many and the protests grew, becoming protests calling for an end of the authoritarian Erdogan regime.

Saturday 1st June 2013

Many Turks were then disturbed at Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party (AKP), abandoning the secular state established as the basis for modern Turkey in the 1920s by Kemal Atatürk towards a conservative authoritarian Islamic dictatorship.

Saturday 1st June 2013

This process has continued, and Turkey has also been involved in the supporting of wider Islamic movements in the Middle East, particularly ISIS, as well as supporting Russia in its intervention in crushing the anti-Assad revolt in Syria. Last week’s election came as a huge blow to democracy in Turkey.

The 2013 protest was high-spirited and noisy, with many young men including Turkish football supporters. Many of London’s Turkish and Kurdish community are people who had to flee Turkey for political reasons and their sons and daughters. Kurds in particular have long been subjected to huge discrimination and oppression with the Turkish government attempting to eliminate their culture.

I had to leave before the march to the Turkish Embassy were around four thousand protested in support of the ‘Turkish Spring’.

London Supports Turkish Spring


Cull Politicians, Not Badgers – Westminster

I joined a large crowd at a rally in front of Tate Modern for the National March Against the Badger Cull, where the speakers included Queen Guitarist Brian May.

Many at the protest had come up to London from country areas, particularly from the pilot areas in west Gloucestershire and west Somerset where culling was to start later in the year. Many more licences were issued in later years and culling is continuing. Detailed statistical analysis suggests in some areas culling has led to a slight decease in bovine TB but overall it has had no real effect as badgers are only responsible for a small amount of the transmission, with 94% of infection being passed from cow to cow.

Defra’s support for culling and their reluctance to bring in more accurate cattle testing, controls on the movement of cattle, vaccination, proper slurry management and other effective measures seems largely to be driven by lobbying from farmers who want to avoid more controls on their activities.

After the rally there was a short march to Parliament where some of those taking part danced on the street, with many then going on to join the protest taking place opposing the racist British National Party.

Cull Politicians, Not Badgers


Anti-Fascists Prevent BNP Exploiting Brutal Killing

Anonymous were there along with Antifa, trade unionists and the UAF to oppose the BNP hate

On May 22nd 2013, off-duty Fusilier Lee Rigby was brutally murdered on a Woolwich street, run over then stabbed by two Muslim men who tried to decapitate him. The killing was universally condemned, including by Britain’s Muslim community, and I had two days ago photographed a march and rally in East London by Muslims to show solidarity and sympathy with the family of Lee Rigby and to denounce his brutal killing, describing it as against all the tenets of Islam.

Nick Griffin answers questions under a placard ‘Hate Preachers Out’ and fails to appreciate the irony

The BNP had wanted to organise a mass protest in Woolwich to exploit the killing, making use of his senseless slaughter there to gain support for their anti-Muslim rhetoric, but police had banned their plans for a march as it would have endangered public safety, enraging many in the local area. Lee Rigby’s father had made clear that he and his family did not want his son’s death to be used to stir up hatred.

Instead, BNP leader Nick Griffin had planned to march to the Cenotaph and lay a wreath there, and had come with a small group of supporters to Old Palace Yard to start the march. It was only a very small group, even for the BNP, with perhaps as I wrote suggesting “it was something that even the ultra-right membership of the BNP could not stomach”.

Griffin himself blamed the low turnout on the police turning many of his followers away, stating that the whole area around Westminster was “a virtual exclusion zone“. I’d just walked there seeing no unusual police activity, and certainly large numbers who had come to oppose his wreath laying found no problems in getting in to do so.

Police arrest an anti-fascist

It would have been possible for anyone – BNP member or not – to go to the Cenotaph on any of the days following the brutal murder and even on this morning to lay a wreath, though not today a well-known racist face like Griffin himself. But Grffin’s intentions were not about expressing sympathy. He wanted a triumphal march with flags flying to gain support for his Islamophobic hate, and given the opposition this never seemed likely to happen.

Police tried hard to clear a way for the BNP to march, but anti-fascists held their ground and refused to move. Police told them they were acting illegally and would be arrested if they did not move – and I saw a couple of double-decker buses being filled with arrested protesters and driven away, but there were simply too many for police to arrest them all.

The protest brought back memories of Cable Street, though few if any there were old enough to have actually been there back in 1936, though rather more had been at the http://mylondondiary.co.uk/2006/10/oct.htm 70th anniversary. But as then the slogan was ‘They shall not pass’, and on this occasion there were not enough police to force a way through. After the two buses of arrested protesters had been driven away police tactics changed and they simply maintained a standoff keeping the opposing groups apart.

Police told the BNP that they expected the anti-fascists to go home and they expected be able to clear the route by half past four, but they stayed on. It was the BNP who gave up, turning around and walking back to waiting coaches and leaving. When the anti-fascists were told the BNP had gone, they marched to Old Palace Yard for a brief rally to celebrate the victory.

Much more about the BNP and the protest which stopped them on My London Diary:
Anti-Fascists Stop BNP Wreath Laying
BNP Exploiting Woolwich Killing Stopped


New River, Nuclear Waste, Wandle, Orange Order & Syria

Monday, April 17th, 2023

Saturday April 17th 2010 was a long and varied day for me, travelling to various parts of London and making a couple of short walks as well as photographing three events.


New River & Harringay – Finsbury Park

New River, Nuclear Waste, Wandle, Orange Order & Syria

My journey across London had been rather faster than expected, probably because TfL’s Journey Planner had estimated rather longer times than I needed for connections, and I arrived at Harringay Green Lanes with rather a lot of time to spare.

New River, Nuclear Waste, Wandle, Orange Order & Syria

So I decided to walk around part of the area, walking partly along the New River, a water supply aqueduct opened in 1613 to bring water from Hertfordshire to London. It’s no longer New and was never a river.

New River, Nuclear Waste, Wandle, Orange Order & Syria

The light and sky was rather unusual. Like most of the Europe London was under a cloud of volcanic ash from the impossible to spell Eyjafjallajökull in Iceland, and no planes were flying. Thee sky had a slightly different blue to usual and lacked the con-trails and wispy clouds that these decay to and was a little dull from horizon to horizon. It wasn’t ideal for the panoramic views I made.

New River, Nuclear Waste, Wandle, Orange Order & Syria

More at New River & Harringay.


Olympics and Nuclear Trains – Harringey

New River, Nuclear Waste, Wandle, Orange Order & Syria

A few members of the Nuclear Trains Action Group and London CND were handing out leaflets close to the rail bridge on Green Lanes warning of the dangers of trains carrying highly toxic radioactive waste through densely populated North London. The event was given added moment by President Obama’s recent warning that nuclear terrorism is the gravest threat to global security.

Protesters had come to Haringey because nuclear waste from the power station at Sizewell is regularly shipped by rail on the line through here on its way to be reprocessed at Sellafield. Waste from Dungeness also travels through London, but on a route through the south and west of the city.

A terrorist attack on the trains carrying spent fuel rods could contaminate considerable areas of London with highly toxic materials and deaths could result. The protesters also pointed out that the route also goes past the Olympic site and an incident there would give the terrorists a huge amount of publicity.

Journalists had planted a fake bomb on one of these trains in London in 2006 to show the lack of real security and there has been no attempt to provide adequate security along the whole length of the route.

Transport by sea would be safer but would add significantly to the costs, and nuclear power is already hugely uneconomic when the full costs of decommissioning of power stations and safe long-term storage of wastes are included.

Olympics and Nuclear Trains


Wandsworth and the Wandle – Wandsworth

It hadn’t taken long to take a few pictures of the protesters in Haringey, and I still had rather a long time before my next event.

I’d heard that a new section of path had been opened by the Wandle close to where it enters the River Thames and planning my day I’d thought I would have time to take a look at it. It’s a longish journey from Haringey to Wandsworth, south of the river, but I had plenty of time to eat my sandwich lunch on the journey.

I was disappointed to find that although I could walk along the new section of ‘riverside’ path, it was still a short distance from both Wandle and Thames and these were still largely hidden from view by fences.

More at Wandsworth and the Wandle.


Loyal Orange Lodge London Parade – Westminster

My next journey, to Clapham Junction and then Victoria was rather easier, and I arrived in time to photograph the members of the City of London District Orange Lodge and their guests as the prepared to march though central London on their St Georges Day Orange Parade.

They were going to march to lay wreaths in memory of Crown Forces at the Cenotaph and then on to St James’s Square to lay another at the memorial to WPC Yvonne Fletcher, fatally wounded by a shot from the Libyan Embassy on 17 April 1984.

Among other groups taking part were the Corby Purple Star Flute Band and the Churchill Flute Band of Londonderry.

Even with progress towards peace continuing in Northern Ireland and now 25 years since the Good Friday Agreement, parades such as this are still contentious there. But in London they arouse little or no antipathy and are seen simply as a celebration of a particular Protestant culture.

More pictures at Loyal Orange Lodge London Parade.


Release Syrian Political Prisoners – Syrian Embassy, Belgrave Square

I left the Orange parade to make my way to the Syrian Embassy, where Kurds and others were protesting on the 64th anniversary of Syrian independence calling for the release of Kurdish prisoners of conscience held in Syrian jails.

Similar demonstrations, organised by the International Support Kurds in Syria Association (SKS, based in the UK and founded in 2009) were taking place in Brussels, Canada, Switzerland, France and the USA.

The protesters waved both Syrian and Kurdish flags – which are illegal in Syria – and called for the prisoners to be released and for the repeal of Decree 49. Introduced in September 2008, this controls the movement of people in the border area between Syria and Turkey where most Kurds live, and under it people there have to get a licence to build, rent or buy property.

Around 1.7 million Kurds live in Syria and have been systematically denied their basic human rights for many years. In 1973, around 300 villages were confiscated and the land taken from around 100,000 Kurds and handed over to Arab farmers, with the names of Kurdish villages being changed into Arabic names.

Emergency rule had been in force in Syria since 1963 and a 1962 law led to around 120,000 Kurds being stripped of Syrian nationality and becoming stateless. They are not allowed to move house, own land or businesses, are banned from many jobs, have no passports or other travel documents and their access to medical treatment is restricted.

Since the Syrian revolution of 2011, the largely Kurdish northeast of Syria has become the de-facto autonomous region of Rojava, adopting universal democratic, sustainable, autonomous pluralist, equal, and feminist policies.

More at Release Syrian Political Prisoners.


Brexit, Fridays For Future & Turkey

Wednesday, March 29th, 2023

I’d not been well for a few days in March 2019 and was still feeling rather weak and tired on Friday 29th March, but decided to go up to London and cover some events happening in and around Parliament Square. But I found I wasn’t really well enough, and had to leave and come home much earlier than I had intended, before things were expected to get rather livelier later in the day when extreme right protesters were expected to march join those already in the square.


Brexiteers protest Betrayal – Parliament Square

Brexit, Fridays For Future & Turkey
‘Clean out the Augean Stables’ was doubtless the kind of snappy slogan that would appeal to Rees-Mogg

Friday 29th March had been the original deadline for the UK to leave the EU established when Theresa May triggered Article 50 and this was approved by the House of Commons, officially notifying the European Council of its intention to leave.

Brexit, Fridays For Future & Turkey

But things had not gone to plan, Parliament had dithered and there had been no real attempt to make the necessary negotiations for our departure – and indeed these have only really been completed with the Windsor Framework more or less agreed a month ago. Boris Johnson won an election on his promise of an ‘oven-ready agreement’ but this turned out as might have been expected to be half-baked.

Brexit, Fridays For Future & Turkey

Even with the agreement over the Irish border – if it proves workable, much still need to be agreed to really sort out our relationship with the EU and get things back to normal, though even that will be rather unsatisfactory compared with EU membership.

Brexiteers came to Parliament Square to protest against this failure to leave by the deadline, holding posters and banners. Later a ‘Leave Means Leave’ march arrived with two Orange marching bands.

There was a lot of noisy shouting and some MPs who walked through the crowd were subjected to angry abuse, while a few who were ardent supporters of Brexit stopped riedly to talk with the protesters.

There were also a few Remain supporters, and while I was present they were largely ignored by the Brexiteers and the atmosphere remained generally calm. Among them was #EUsupergirl Madeleina Kay dressed as Britannia.

But after a couple of hours I was feeling very out of breath and weak and decided I was in no state to continue working, particularly as things were expected to get rather more heated as the extreme right Tommy Robinson and the Democratic Football Lads Alliance were expected to arrive shortly.

Brexiteers protest Betrayal


Fridays for Future climate protest – Parliament Square

Although the Brexiteers were the largest and noisiest group in Parliament Square, others were also protesting and I photographed them too.

The school strike for climate was one of many weekly #FridaysForFuture events taking place in many cities and towns across the world. These protests were inspired by the action of 15-year old Greta Thunberg who instead of going back to school at the end of the Summer break in August broke the law by protesting outside the Swedish Parliament.

Fridays for Future climate protest


Kurds support hunger strikers – Houses of Parliament

On the pavement in front of Parliament as I was getting ready to leave I photographed a group of Kurds who were protesting in solidarity with hunger strikers in Turkey, some of whom had been on hunger strike since November.

The strikes began on November 7th and were against the imprisonment of members of the HDP (Peoples’ Democratic Party) and the Free Women’s Congress, as well as many journalists, socialists and LGBTI+ campaigners. A number of Kurds in the UK have also gone on hunger strike in sympathy, including two of those taking part in this protest.

Leading the hunger strike in Turkey was HDP MP Leyla Güven, on indefinite hunger strike for over 110 days, vowing to continue until death unless the isolation of Kurdish Leader Abudullah Ocalan in prison was ended – and called an end to her hunger strike in May when this happened, having kept alive by consuming only Vitamin B and salty and sugary liquids.

The UK government continues to support Turkey as a fellow member of NATO despite the continuing human rights abuses there. Ocalan and many other Kurds remain in jail and many Kurds have been killed.

Kurds support hunger strikers


Turkey’s War on Kurds, Bunhill Fields – 2016

Monday, March 6th, 2023

Break the Silence! Turkey’s War on Kurds – BBC to Trafalgar Square

Turkey's War on Kurds

Turkey’s War on Kurds. On Sunday 6th March 2016, several thousand of Kurds and their supporters marched through London in solidarity with the Kurdish people calling for an end to the silence from Turkey’s NATO allies and the western press over Turkish war being waged against Kurds in northern Syria.

Turkey's War on Kurds

This area of Syria has successfully broken away from control by the Syrian regime under President Assad and set up a popular progressive participatory democracy under the name Rojava. Although Kurds form the majority, the impressive constitution of the new area guarantees the rights of all the minority groups and also has enshrined the equal rights of women. Many see it as a model for future democratic states elsewhere.

Turkey's War on Kurds

The Kurds also call for the UK to decriminalise the PKK Kurdish liberation Movement here, and for the release of their leader Abdullah Ocalan who has been in jail in Turkey since his illegal kidnapping in Kenya in 1999. In 2003 the European Court of Human Rights ruled his trial unfair, and called for a retrial. Turkey lost an appeal against this decision in 2005 but have still refused to hold a retrial.

The march began with around 5,000 people massing outside the BBC, who have consistently failed to cover the real issues over the Kurdish struggle and like to almost totally ignore any political protests taking place in the UK. True to form there appeared to be no mention of this large march in any BBC national or local news in the following few days.

The protest was called by his protest was called by Stop the War on the Kurds and supported by a huge array of groups, which I listed on My London Diary. Here it is again.

Peace in Kurdistan, Kurdistan National Congress (KNC), Scottish Solidarity with Kurdistan, Day Mer, GIK-DER/RWCA, National Union of Teachers (NUT), Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS), National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers Union (RMT), Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association (TSSA), Trade Union Congress – International Section, Greater London Association of Trade Union Councils (GLATUC), Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC), National Shop Stewards Network (NSSN), Unite Housing Branch, Unison Islington, Stop the War Coalition, People’s Assembly, Unite Against Fascism (UAF), Socialist Workers Party, Socialist Resistance, Plan C, Revolutionary Communist Group, Left Unity, Green Party, Kurdish Community Centre, Halkevi, Roj Women’s Assembly, Kurdish Students Union, Alliance for Workers Liberty (AWL), Anti-Fascist Network (AFN), National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts (NCAFC), Party of Free Life of Kurdistan (PJAK), Democratic Union Initiative & PYD and other groups.

The march slowly went down Regent Street to Piccadilly Circus where the head of the march stopped and briefly sat down, blocking the junction. A few minutes later they got up and marched down Haymarket to a rally in Trafalgar Square. I left them to go to another event as te rally began.

More pictures on My London Diary: Break the Silence! Turkey’s War on Kurds.


Bunhill Fields Under Threat

Bunhill Fields is one of the City of London’s most special places, a Grade I cultural heritage site owned by the City of London and enjoyed by many nearby office workers in the area as a quiet space for their lunch breaks, though I think these are rapidly becoming, like the cemetery a thing of the past, with many working from home or snatching a quick sandwich at their desk still staring at a terminal.

William Blake was buried a little this side of the tree on the far side of the path. His wife on the south side of the cemetery close to Susannah Wesley

It’s a quiet place, a sanctuary and every similar cliche you like to throw at it, and of course always under threat from rapacious developers (are there any other kinds?) Although the cemetery itself is protected by its listing, I’d signed a petition against a development immediately on the north-east boundary which will result in this small and important site being overshadowed by a large and inappropriate development.

Tomb of John Bunyan

The proposed 10 and 11 storey skyscrapers would set a precedent soon to be followed by others and would severely change its nature, depriving it of light and altering its micro-climate. Islington Council had rejected the planning application but it was called in by then London Mayor Boris Johnson who allowed it to go ahead, along with other damaging schemes around the city.

Bunhill Fields was a burial ground mainly for nonconformists who could not be buried in Church of England churchyards and cemeteries and was in use from 1665 to 1854. It is best-known as the burial place of William Blake, Daniel Defoe, Isaac Watts, George Fox and John Bunyan, as well as others including Susannah Wesley.

Susannah Wesley’s stone is brilliant white. Now you can only walk along the path by it if accompanied by an attendant

The cemetery, which has a public path through its centre, is opposite Wesley’s Chapel on the City Road, with the path leading through to Bunhill Row. Most of the monuments in it, many listed, are in enclosed areas behind fences and can only be viewed from the paths, though years ago it was possible to wander more freely. There is still a garden area at the north of the site, where many, including Blake, were buried, with a lawn and seating.

More pictures at Bunhill Fields Under Threat.


Kurds March Against Turkish State Attacks – 2016

Tuesday, February 7th, 2023

Kurds March Against Turkish State Attacks

Seven years ago on February 7th 2016 I made my way on a Sunday afternoon to Edmonton in north London. I don’t now much like working on Sundays, when I often go out for a walk with my wife and catch up with things from the week that’s just ended. And public transport, on which I rely to get into and around London is often disrupted by engineering work on the railways and poorer or non-existent bus services.

Kurds March Against Turkish State Attacks

But the trains and underground on that day took me smoothly if rather slowly to Silver Street from where it was just a short walk along the street to the corner with Fore Street where Kurds were meeting up for a march. Angel Road is now I think the underpass which carries most of the traffic along the North Circular under this junction, but this is still the Angel junction.

Kurds March Against Turkish State Attacks

I’d responded to an invitation to cover the event with the title ‘End the siege of North Kurdistan! Turkey out of Rojava!’ which read (in part) “Kurdish, Turkish and left organisation call on the unions, left, progressive, feminist and antifascist groups of London to join a march through the heart of the community from Upper Edmonton to Haringay. We are calling for the end of the siege of the Kurdish regions by the Turkish army, and the withdrawal of Turkish troops from Rojava. We must show our solidarity with the resistance and popular assemblies in both regions, and build our links with this heroic and inspiring movement.”

The time given for the protest was 16:00 and I’d arrived a little before 4pm, hoping to take as many pictures as possible before the light faded. Sunset here in early February is just before 5pm, not that there was much if any sign of the sun on that dry but very overcast day. By the time the march moved off a little after 4.30pm the light was dropping fast, and before long I was working at ISO 2000 and 3200 on the two Nikons I was using. Even then many pictures were a little blurred due to people moving at walking pace.

On My London Diary I write more about the groups involved and the reasons for the protest. Almost all those on the march were from Kurdish groups and as I commented “Apart from a banner from the Paddington Branch of the RMT there was no presence from the British left, who don’t appear to have woken up to what is happening in Turkey and in Kurdistan.”

Our governments too over the years appear to have kept a deliberately blind eye to events in Turkey, standing up for it as a member of NATO rather than standing up to it and supporting the human and civil rights of the Kurds, who have long been oppressed.

Things got worse in Turkey after the success of Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s AKP party in the June 2015 elections with curfews, the imposition of martial law, and arrests of anyone opposed to the Turkish government, with attacks by tanks and artillery, and snipers targeting homes, killing more than 400 civilians in the last 7 months. Politicians, human rights activists, journalists, students and 30 mayors had been imprisoned and hundreds of thousands have been threatened and forced to flee their homes.

Britain and the EU have turned that blind eye to the support of Turkey for ISIS, aiding them to smuggle oil whose sale finances their activities. Kurds have led the fight against ISIS and Turkish attacks on them have hindered them.

Since 2016 the situation in Kurdish areas of Syria has worsened with Turkish forces invading parts of the area with the help of former ISIS fighters in 2018. Hundreds of Kurds were killed and Turkey has instituted a policy of ethnic cleansing, depopulating the area. The remaining Kurds face death, extortion, and kidnappings by various armed groups backed by Turkey. Kurdish-owned homes and farms are confiscated, and new settlements for non-Kurds are being built.

I left the march shortly after it passed White Hart Lane. I was getting tired and it was getting too dark to take more pictures without flash, and I thought I had done enough.

More at Kurds protest Turkish State attacks on My London Diary.


Saturday 17th December 2011

Saturday, December 17th, 2022

Although I’ve been photographing protests in London for many years it was only after I left a full-time teaching job in 2000 that I was really able to photograph more than the occasional event, and only after I began to use a digital SLR camera at the end of 2002 that pictures from them appeared regularly in My London Diary. For a couple of years after that I was still using both film and digital, largely because I only had one Nikon lens and it was a few years before I got a real wide-angle for digital, but the on-line posts were almost entirely from the digital images.

Saturday 17th December 2011

But the huge growth in internet use as people organising protests more and more began to put details on their web sites, use e-mail and Facebook meant that with a few hours searching each week I was able to find more and more events to photograph. Before it had only been easy to find out about the protests organised by groups I was a member of and major national organisations. Some I found from fly-posted notices in parts of London, and others from a little intelligent guesswork based on events in the news, anniversaries and other significant dates. And back then and still now, if I’m in London I’ll take a look at places like Trafalgar Square, Downing Street, Parliament Square and find things I had now prior knowledge of taking place.

Saturday 17th December 2011

By 2011 there was a great deal of information on-line and I think I took the train to London with a list of all the events I managed to cover that day, three by UK Uncut, Kurds and Congolese protesting at Downing
St, Iraqis, Syrians and supporters of Bradley (now Chelsea) Manning at the US Embassy, and Egyptians at their Embassy. I sent pictures on each to Demotix (no longer with us) along with a story and later wrote a total of nine posts on My London Diary, possibly a record for any single day for me – peak protest!

Saturday 17th December 2011

With so many protests I’m not going to write much about any of them today – but you can click any of the links to read the roughly 2700 words I wrote about the nine events in 2011. All of the pictures in this post are from Saturday 17th December 2011.

UK Uncut Santa Calls on Dave Hartnett – HMRC, Parliament St

Saturday 17th December 2011

UK Uncut brought a Christmas present to Dave Hartnett, the UK’s top tax man, shortly to retire with a massive pension despite a huge series of blunders. And he had also let major companies off paying huge amounts of tax they owed – including £4.75 billion for Vodaphone and around £8 million for Goldman Sachs.

UK Uncut Santa Calls on Dave Hartnett

UK Uncut Xmas Protest At Topshop – Oxford St

A group from UK Uncut protested briefly inside the Oxford Circus Topshop at the failure of Arcadia group to pay UK tax on its UK earnings, continuing their protest with others on the pavement outside until cleared away by police.

UK Uncut Xmas Protest At Topshop

UK Uncut Xmas Protest At Vodaphone – Oxford St

UK Uncut moved to Vodaphone to protest about their dodging of UK tax. Police kept them a few yards from the shop but otherwise did not interfere with the peaceful demonstration.

UK Uncut Xmas Protest At Vodaphone

Kurds Call For A Stop To Syrian Massacres – Downing St, Whitehall,

The Syrian Kurdish community protested at Downing St as massacres continue in Syria, calling for Britain to help to stop them. They want freedom for Syria and also for Kurds in Syria in a federation to replace the Assad regime.

Kurds Call For A Stop To Syrian Massacres

Congolese Election Protests Continue – Downing St, Whitehall

Congolese continued their protests in London against the election fraud, rapes and massacres and called 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.

Congolese Protests Continue

Iraqis and Syrians Protest At US Embassy – Grosvenor Square

Iraqis met to celebrate their defeat of the occupation on the day US troops left Iraq, and called for the mercenaries to go too, as well as for proper coverage of Iraq by the BBC. They were joined by Syrian supporters of President Bashar al-Assad, at the embassy to demand no US intervention in Syria.

Iraqis and Syrians Protest At US Embassy

Bradley Manning Birthday Demo – US Embassy, Grosvenor Square

Supporters of Bradley Manning (now Chelsea Manning) held a vigil at the US Embassy on Saturday afternoon, his 24th birthday, and on the second day of his pre-trail hearing, calling him an American Peace Hero.

Bradley Manning Birthday Demo

Egyptians Protest Against Attacks on Protesters – Egyptian Embassy, Mayfair

News of the deaths and injuries in Cairo as armed forces attacked protesters prompted Egyptians to protest at the London Embassy, calling for the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces to halt the attacks and hand over power.

Egyptians Protest At Embassy