Posts Tagged ‘Kurds’

Two Years Ago – 22 Sept 2018

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2020

Two years ago I’d spent a quiet week after having been away the previous weekend for a 40th birthday celebration in Belper. For once there didn’t seem to be many events in London to photograph, or at least not that I could easily get too. Living just outside London covering anything starting early in the morning or finishing late at night makes travel difficult and/or expensive, and unless I’m actually commissioned certainly loss-making. And over the past few years I’ve turned down almost all the few commissions that have been offered, suggesting other photographers who I know need the jobs much more than I do.

But on Saturday 22nd September 2018 there were a few things happening in London, though to be honest if I’d had a busy week I might have left them to others to cover. I had five different events in my diary and also there was an art installation in Trafalgar Square that sounded mildly interesting and despite a poor weather forecast I decide to go up to London.

Nelson was getting an extra lion, and in fluorescent orange for the London Design Festival. It was supposed to create and spout poetry as well as roar in response to visitors, but well I was there it had entirely lost the muse. Perhaps it was the rain which dampened its spirits. It’s pretty difficult to get proper detail in anything that is fluorescent orange without making the surroundings far too dark, and most of the pictures I saw published in the papers failed. But I’d had a lot of practice photographing protests against Guantanamo with campaigners dressed in orange jump suits.

People taking part in The Peoples Walk for Wildlife set up by naturalist and broadcaster Chris Packham showed some remarkable ingenuity in the costumes and despite the rain were in good spirits, though I was getting pretty fed up and my cameras were beginning to suffer. It was weather for underwater cameras an my lenses were beginning to mist up. Wildlife is important and we are just another species in the many that make up our world and the extreme rate of species loss at the moment is already beginning to affect us. Unless we halt climate change and stop the ecocide due to habitat loss, pesticide use, over-fishing and other things that are destroying wild life our own species is also under threat of extinction.

I stuck it out until the march began and then took the tube rather than walk in the rain, coming back to meet them and take pictures again on Pall Mall. They were going on to another rally, but I’d had enough of getting my cameras wet and decided to call it a day.

There were some other events in my diary, but none that I felt strongly enough about to make a trip to take pictures. But on my way to Charing Cross station I photographed a protest in Trafalgar Square.

The People The Fadaii Guerrillas of Iran in London and the Democratic Anti-imperialist Organisation of Iranians in London were remembering the massacre of 18,000 political prisoners in between July and September 1988 on the 30th anniversary and calling for an end to the massacres of Azeris, Kurds, Arabs, Turkmen and Balouchis and communists and others in the brutal represssion that is following the mass protests in Iran in January 2018. These have included six Kurdish activists who were executed earlier in the month.

I was pleased then to get on a train and make my way home, though I still had several hours of work to do to edit, process and select images and send them to the agency.

You can see more pictures on My London Diary from all these:
End executions in Iran
People’s Walk for Wildlife
Please feed the lions


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

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.


More from May Days: 2011

Wednesday, May 6th, 2020

May Day 2011 was a Sunday which helped swell the numbers gathering at Clerkenwell Green, though perhaps the trade union groups were rather less numerous than usual. But of course the usual communist and socialist groups were there, and the CPGB-ML with their large image of Stalin and a banner with a quote from him with letters picked out in yellow to spell ‘resist’ along with the word revolution.

A new group in this year’s march was ‘Justice for Domestic Workers‘ (J4DW), a self-help group for migrant domestic workers and part of the hotel, restaurant and catering branch of the Unite the union. They were using the event to launch a new petition urging the UK government to change its position and endorse the 2011 ILO convention on Domestic Workers. The UK joined the ILO in 1919, but since the Tories came to power in 2010 have only ratified conventions on Maritime Labour and Fishing.

There was a large group from the Latin American Workers’ Association, calling for justice for refugees and asylum seekers, with the message ‘No-One Is Illegal’ carried by two of their younger supporters.

As in previous years there was a very strong representation of nationalist communist groups from London’s Turkish, Kurdish and Cypriot communities as well as a large group of Sri Lankan Tamils calling for the war criminals from Sri Lanka to be taken to the International Criminal Court and asking why the UN and NATO had not intervened when their community in Sri Lanka was facing massacre.

I followed the march a short distance, stopping to photograph until the end of the march had gone passed me, then decided to go home rather than continue to the rally in Trafalgar Square.

London May Day March


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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


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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: 2009

Monday, May 4th, 2020

Another year, another May Day. 2009 was just a little different with more happening at Clerkenwell Green than usual, though some things remained the same. Although in my very early years Stalin was known through our press as ‘Uncle Joe’ and it was certainly the case that it was the Russian Army that played the major role in the defeat of Hitler, it does seem to me somehow obscene to be continuing a cult of his personality with what we now know about him.

As always the Turkish and Kurdish community were out in force – here the KGÖ (Komünist Gençlik Örgütü), the youth wing of the Marxist Leninist Communist Party (Turkey) MLKP.

Unusually there was a maypole, brought and erected by Chris Knight and others from G20 Meltdown, and a few people tried to dance around it.

There were the usual collection of trade union banners, with pride of place going to a couple carried by Ford workers following the Visteon dispute, as well as various other left-wing groups from the UK and abroad.

As in previous years the rally at Trafalgar Square failed to acknowledge the predominant presence of various minority communities on the march and was dominated by speakers from the large unions and Labour party. The star of the event was undoubtedly Tony Benn. At his left a Tamil holds a placard with a picture of Velupillai Prabhakaran, the leader of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) who was killed in an ambush by Sri Lankan government forces only a few days later on May 18.

Earlier there had been heated arguments on the march against the participation by the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP), a Sinhalese communist and Marxist–Leninist party which is a part of the government oppressing and fighting the Tamils.

More at May Day March & Rally


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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: 2007

Saturday, May 2nd, 2020

A fairly random selection of pictures I like from my coverage of May Day events in London in 2007.

Unusually my photographic day began in Whitehall where a small group of what I described as “the more eccentric elements of middle england” had gathered with a horse-drawn hearse and a dragon to take a coffin draped in a St George’s flag to Downing St, celebrating 300 years of union with Scotland by asking for English devolution. On My London Diary I wrote (and all in lower case):

i never did find out what the barnett formula they were against was, but i’m sure that these were people in favour of warm beer, cricket and morris dancing as well as good manners. st george didn’t look like the type to scare dragons (and the dragon wasn’t either scary or easy to photograph.)

but i’ve never really thought of myself as being very english. like most of the english, most of my family came from somewhere else at some time or other. i only knew one of my four grandparents and i’m not convinced she spoke english, but then she didn’t say much either.

apart from my lack of sporting skills i could have qualified for at least two of our national sides (so perhaps after all i could have played cricket for wales.) if i ever think of myself know as having any kind of cultural identity now (and it’s a very un-english thought) it would be as a londoner. maybe

http://mylondondiary.co.uk/2007/05/may.htm

From there I made my way to Clerkenwell for the annual London May Day march, dominated as usual by large groups from London’s ethnic communities.

Also on the march were trade unionists with their banners and campaigning groups such as ‘Stop The War’. Among other groups you can see in my pictures are Chagos Islanders and Gate Gourmet strikers who were protesting at being betrayed by their union, the T&G W U.

The marchers went on as usual to Trafalgar Square where a man stood with a whistle and a sign to welcome them.

I went on to Canary Wharf, where the Space Hijackers, outnumbered around ten to one by police, were holding their ‘Booted and Suited’ party in Reuters Square

And the day ended with a little police sadism:

A police officer applies a dangerous ‘pain compliance’ hold cutting blood supply to the brain of a man who wasn’t resisting arrest, while another officer forces his hand up behind his back. The man was then put in a police van and driven away. He had apparently ignored a police order to move on.

The whole of the Canary Wharf area is one of those increasing parts of the city which are private fiefdoms, with the public only allowed access to serve the needs of capital as workers or consumers. It has its own security service, but on this occasion only their boss, wearing a suit, was in evidence, coming to talk with protesters and police. It dresses its security officers in uniforms which closely resemble those of police officers, in a way that seems to be an offence under the Police Act 1996. Having invited several hundred police officers to the event I imagine they had decided having the security officers there would be too confusing.


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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.


Solidarity with Rojava

Monday, April 6th, 2020

While we may feel cooped up in isolation in the UK, and are mourning the deaths of several thousand from COVID-19, the situation for many around the world is far worse. Particularly at risk are the people of Rojava in North-East Syria, mainly Kurds, at risk both from Turkish invasion forces and from the virus.

Kurds are the largest minority community in Turkey as well as being widespread across the northern parts of Iran, Iraq and Syria. They were promised an independent state at the end of the First World War, but that promise was denied when the boundaries of modern Turkey were defined in 1923.

Since 1923 Turkey has attempted a programme to eliminate Kurdish culture and identity, at times with massive military campaigns as well as repressive legislation. The Kurds, around 20% of the population, have fought back the opposition led since the 1980s by the Kurdistan Workers’ Party or PKK led by Abdullah Öcalan who has been in jail in Turkey since 1999.

In recent years Turkey has been aggressively attacking Kurds outside Turkey and in early 2018 they invaded Afrin canton in northern Syria, part of the territory where Kurds with other minority ethnic groups had established a de-facto autonomous region of Rojava, with a constitution based on decentralisation, gender equality, direct democracy and guaranteeing ethnic minority rights and religious freedom.

Kurdish forces in the People’s Protection Units, the men of the YPG and the women of the YPJ, were the most effective force in fighting the ISIS in Syria, with the help of US air support. But Turkey is second only the the US in military strength in NATO, and has benefited greatly from NATO support and arms supply, and were able to take Afrin from these lightly armed Kurdish forces. Many Kurds were forced out of the area, which had been overwhelmingly Kurdish and they are now a relatively small minority.

President Trump’s announcement of a US withdrawal from Syria gave Turkey’s President Erdogan a green light to continue his country’s invasion of Rojava, and left the Kurds there no alternative but to call on the Syrian government for support, a move which in the longer term seems likely to end their autonomy.

Turkey is now using the coronavirus to threaten Kurds in Turkish prisons for political reasons – including many journalists, excluding them from its plans to release them with other prisoners because of the pandemic. They are also refusing to refer prisoners with COVID-19 symptoms for medical treatment.

For the 4 million inhabitants of North and East Syria, including 600,000 refugees the situation is also dire. The World Health Organisation refuses to support the area directly and little comes to them through the Assad regime. There are no WHO test kits or test machines and only 35 intensive care beds and 40 ventilators.

More pictures from October’s protest: Solidarity with Rojava – Kurdish Syria


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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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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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Friday Diary

Sunday, July 7th, 2019

I had three events listed in my diary for 29th March, but for some reason, although I took the train to London, I only photographed one of them. Perhaps it was the weather, or just that I got tired and went home. But I think it was more likely that I just thought I’d done enough for the day before the last two things started.

I had after all already photographed three protests, if not the three I had come up to London for. One I hadn’t bothered to put in my diary was a regular thing, a Fridays for Future climate protest inspired by 15-year-old Swedish schoolgirl Greta Thunberg. I photographed the first of these last October, and although there have been some big Friday school students protests since, the regular events have not really grown.

I was probably feeling pretty fed up. Although the Brexit protest hadn’t been anything like as huge as the organisers appear to have expected, I do find most Brexiteers rather depressing. Of course people voted to leave for a whole number of reasons, some of which make at least some sense, the kind of people who come to protest appear largely delusional and racist, convinced that Brexit will restore the British Empire and put foreigners, particularly black foreigners, back into their place both literally and metaphorically.

Migration to this country over my lifetime (and I was born some time before the Empire Windrush berthed at Tilbury) has revitalised our culture, giving us greater variety, most obviously in our diet, but across the whole spectrum. And it wasn’t migrants that took our jobs, but migrants who provided the workforce needed for a post-war recovery, to keep essential services like the NHS and transport running. It wasn’t migrants or Europe that took away large sections of manufacturing industry but overseas competition and government stupidity.

And again it was Thatcher whose policies greatly reduced the supply of low cost social housing, with ‘right to buy’ removing homes from councils that were largely after a few years recycled into the hands of people wealthy enough to profit from a disastrous rise in ‘buy to let.’

The last of the three events came as a surprise, when some of the Kurds I had photographed a few weeks earlier supporting Kurdish hunger strikers turned up to protest again outside parliament. The hunger strike by HDP MP Leyla Güven  began in early November; kept alive by sugary and salty drinks and vitamin B she was then on her 142 day of protest – eventually ended on 16 May after the authorities ended the isolation of Abudullah Ocalan in prison.

Kurds support hunger strikers
Fridays for Future climate protest


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And small donations via Paypal – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.

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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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Solidarity with hunger strikers

Sunday, June 16th, 2019

The political situation in Turkey seems to be getting even worse, with more and more opponents of President Erdogan being arrested and jailed, including members of the HDP (Peoples’ Democratic Party) and the Free Women’s Congress, as well as many journalists, socialists and LGBTI+ campaigners.

Many of those jailed are Kurds, and the Turkish Army has also killed thousands of them since the the peace process broke down in 2015. Many Kurds have been involved in the fight against ISIS (Da’esh) in Syria; Turkey, having invaded and occupied Afrin with the aid of Islamist fighters now threatens other Kurdish areas in Syria.

A few weeks after I took these pictures, there were local elections in Turkey, and a surprise defeat for Erdogan’s candidate in the  Istanbul mayoral election. His response was to refuse to accept the democratic vote and declare the election invalid – with a re-run later this month.

I’ve photographed many Kurdish protests in London over the past 20 years, beginning with a protest in Whitehall against the illegal arrest of Kurdish leader Abudullah Öcalan in 1999. He has been in a Turkish island prison, mainly in solitary confinement since then, but demands for his release continue unabated.

On 7th November 2018 HDP MP Leyla Güven, then a prisoned in a Turkish jail, began a hunger strike calling for an end to the isolation of Öcalan . Many others, both prisoners in Turkish jails and outside, joined in her protest, which she continued after being released from prison pending her trial. The hunger strikes ended on 26th May after they acheived their aim and the isolation of Öcalan was ended.

After the protest in Trafalgar Square, the Kurds marched down to protest opposite Downing St, where the group of right-wing Brexiteers were also protesting. Rather to my surprise they greeted the Kurds with loud applause, I think, recognising them as fighting for their rights against authority, but perhaps unaware of their very different political views.

More at:
Rally supports Kurdish hunger strikers
Yellow Vests applaud Kurdish protesters


There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, please share on social media.
And small donations via Paypal – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.

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

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

To order prints or reproduce images