Posts Tagged ‘march’

Syria 8 Years On

Tuesday, July 2nd, 2019

Syria has certainly been one of the saddest stories of recent history. The optimism of the Arab Spring in 2011, encouraged by Western governments and then totally let down by them, becoming the second deadliest war of the 21st century so far (after the Congo). By 2016 it had seriously wounded or killed 1 in 10 Syrians. It is currently estimated that over 5 million refugees had fled the country and perhaps 8 millions are displaced inside it, from a total 2010 population of 21 million.

As so often around the world, the US had completely misread the situation in the area, not least in its 2003 invasion of Iraq which provided fertile ground for the growth of ISIS, which with covert support from both US allies such as Turkey and enemies such as the Assad regime also became a major player in Syria. At least it had the sense to support the Kurds who became the most effective force in the fight against ISIS thanks to US air power.

But both politically and militarily the US was totally outsmarted by Russia, who came to the defence of the Syrian regime (and also took some decisive action against ISIS.)

It is very hard to see much hope for the future of Syria, even though the civil war appears to be coming to a possibly bloody close in Idlib. What shape will that future take, and what will happen to the currently autonomous region of northeast Syria, the Kurdish area of Rojava, seen by many, but probably not the Syrian regime or its Russian supporter, and certainly not by Turkey as a model for a new federal and democratic Syria.

More about the protest and more pictures on My London Diary: 8th Anniversary of the Syrian Revolution


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

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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UN Anti-Racism day

Monday, July 1st, 2019

Before the march moved off from Park Lane, a group came to pose at the front carrying posters of politicians from countries across much of the world with the message ‘Wanted for Racism’, including President Bolsonaro from Brazil and the others in the picture above. It seemed rather strange to me to find that the UK representative, next to Donald Trump, was not Theresa May or even Nigel Farage but the unelected Tommy Robinson, who I hope will shortly be serving another jail sentence to add to his three previous terms.

It was of course Theresa May who set up the ‘hostile environment’ in her years at the Home Office, encouraging the demonisation of foreigners in general and sending out vans against them, as well as immigration raids, greatly beefing up the policies which had begun under Straw, Blumkett, Reid and the others. Policies which encouraged racist civil servants and the setting up of barriers including mountains of required paperwork which led to the deportation of many from the WIndrush generation.

Grenfell is another reason for nominating May. Although she made appropriate noises at the time of the fire, actions since then have largely been a way of protecting those responsible rather than seeking to bring them to justice. Her promises to those who survived the fire have not been met – over two years later there are still some who have not been found new homes.

There were many other issues raised by those on the march, particularly over the increasing Islamophobia across the country – for which Robinson must take a great deal of the blame, having inspired some to commit atrocities. He has also allied himself with Zionists groups against those calling for a fair deal for the Palestinians and opposing the ever-increasing take-over of Palestinian and Arab lands by the state of Israel. Among the marchers were several groups representing anti-Zionist Jews.

There were also those with more general but sometimes forcefully expressed views against racism and fascism, and you can see a number of these in my report on the march on My London Diary

No to Racism, No to Fascism


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

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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Fukushima anniversary

Sunday, June 30th, 2019

It’s hard to believe that it is 8 years since the nuclear disaster at Fukushima when three reactors went into meltdown on 11 March 2011, but it is a disaster that is still continuing, with high levels of radiation in parts of the plant and clean-up of the site will take many more years, although life is begining to get back to normal in the surrounding area.

It is still far to early to give any definitive figure for the number of deaths th accident and its associated leak of radioactive material will cause, but Fukushima  ranks only second to Chernobyl in the long list of nuclear accidents. One method of estimation suggests it will eventually result in around 130 deaths from cancer.

Nuclear power has never yet lived up to the promises made by its advocates of clean, abundant and cheap energy, and even though the costs of decommisioning nuclear power stations has largely been disregarded, the costs of nuclear energy run high. Nuclear power plants have largely developed around the world because of their production of isotopes for nuclear weapons rather than simply to provide energy. Unless and until it becomes possible to develop nuclear fusion reactors it would make sense to put nuclear on hold, and to concentrate investment on reducing energy use and backing low-cost renewables such as on-shore wind.

Although the health risk from Fukushima may be lower than some activists suggest, it has had huge disruption for those in the surrounding area, with many having to be evacuated. Clearly it was a nuclear facility in the wrong place and with inadequate regard for safety. The operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), was found to have failed to meet basic safety requirements including risk assessment, preparations for containing collateral damage, and developing evacuation plans. 

There continue to be regular protests about Fukushima in London, and an annual march on or close to the anniversary. I like to photograph them both because I think it important to end reliance on nuclear energy and becuase they are colourful and slightly surreal events, with people dressing as large bright yellow containers of nuclear waste and carrying large sunflowers, and some fine graphic posters.

Remember Fukushima 8 years On


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

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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Big School Strike for the Future

Thursday, June 27th, 2019

School students can see clearly the threat that faces the planet – especially with some predictions that human life will be extinct on Earth before they reach middle age. I’ve never expected to be still alive in 2050, though it’s just about possible, but these people clearly should be – but quite likely won’t if we continue “business as usual“.

But its also good to be with them and to feel the energy they have, and the enthusiasm they show. As well as in the actions on the day it comes out too in the many placards. There are some mass produced from the usual culprits, Socialist Worker and the Socialist Party, but even the SWP have produced a decent one for the cause, with a nice Wave and the message ‘System Change Not Climate Change’. But clearly there are many schools where the art department is full of people making their placards.

We clearly are at a point where we need drastic change, and are unfortunately stuck with dinosaurs in charge, fiddling about with Brexit and internal party politics (both Tory and Labour) while the planet almost literally burns.

We won’t of course go on like this. It’s a simple choice, change or die, and one that has become far more critical since I first got up in front of a microphone almost 50 years ago and said we can’t go on like this. We now know much more in detail about what is going on.

Police tried to stop the protesters at the end of the Mall, but while a crowd gathered in front of their line, others coming up behind simply swarmed around the sides and ran across the grass to get to the Victoria Monument in front of Buckingham Palace.

The police gave up and the others came through to gather around the monument, and their were speeches from several of the protesters to a tightly packed crowd – and I managed to squeeze my way through to take photographs. Mostly I was so close that the fisheye became almost essential, though the one at the head of this post was made with the 18-35mm at 18mm.

After the speeches there was something of a lunch break, with people making their way along various routes back towards Parliament Square – I chose the shortest way – where some protests continued. The largest block made its way over Westminster Bridge and then turned to the east; I left them on Stamford St, deciding I’d walked far enough, but they were still going strong.

London Schools Climate Strike


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, a small donation – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.

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

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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Women’s Strike Assembly

Wednesday, June 19th, 2019

The Women’s Strike Assembly unites a range of feminists (of all genders) and is a part of an international women’s movement which has led protests on the streets in many countries, from “Argentina to Poland, from Ireland to Kurdistan” as well as in London, with women “making connections, building alliances and taking action against our current conditions of womanhood.” It “rejects the decades of economic inequality, criminalization and policing, racial and sexual violence, and endless global war and terrorism.

On the evening of International Women’s Day, the met in front of the Bank fo England to make the point that “it is our labour that keeps the world turning and profits flowing.

They had called for a “tidal wave of red feminist energy and righteous rage” at the end of the Women’s Strike day. After speeches they marched towards Soho, where sex workers were taking part in an evening strike in Leicester Square.

My own energy was by this time becoming rather low, having been out taking pictures since the morning, and, inspiring though the event was, my spirits and cameras were rather dampened by the rain, which turned from light to heavy as the march began.

I was also having problems with the light and exposures, and my Nikon SB800 flash was in one of its moods. When it works I think the Nikon flash system is the best there is, and it always works when I test it back at home, either inside or outside in my back yard. But something about the dark streets or perhaps the rain often seems to upset its delicate nature, and the exposures were wildly fluctuating, often washing out the image completely.

I was cold, wet, tired, hungry and fed up by the time the march reached Aldwych, and rushed ahead to catch a bus before they were held up by the march, missing the events in Soho, where some of my friends made some interesting exposures. I’d done all I could and had to accept there are limits to what I can cover.

Women’s Strike Red Feminist March


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, a small donation – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.

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

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, a small donation – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.

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

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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Algerians protest

Tuesday, June 11th, 2019

Protests have been taking place every Friday in Algeria for 16 weeks as I write this, and the protest I met in London came close to the start of this peaceful call for change.

The protests in Algeria were triggered in the middle of February when the wheelchair-bound President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, 82 on the day of this protest, announced he would stand for yet another term in office in the April elections. People took to the streets to say he had to go and to call for a civilian-led replacement to the military regime.

Bouteflika was coming to the end of his fourth 5-year term in office, heading a repressive and corrupt military government and has hardly been seen in public since a stroke in 2013. Algeria has seen few benefits from its huge earnings from oil and gas exports, much of which is unaccounted for, and almost a third of young people are unemployed.

Although police have used tear gas and violence against the protests in Algeria, unlike in the Sudan the regime (and protesters) have tried to avoid escalation, probably fearing a repeat of the civil war the country suffered in the 1990s. The regime probably fears that many of its soldiers would refuse to carry out orders to attack the protesters.

So since February there have been attempts to conciliate the protesters. In April Bouteflika was forced to resign, and some of his close associates arrested, with the speaker of the parliament Abdelkader Bensalah  being elected as interim President. The protests are now calling for him and others associated with the old regime to also go, including the head of the army, Ahmed Gaid Salah.

I hadn’t been aware that this protest was taking place, and was walking towards Trafalgar Square for another event when I saw the march moving off in the distance and ran to catch up with them. I always take care to read (and photograph) the banners and placards at protests, and with these (at least those that were in English) I was soon clear what this protest was about. Usually when I plan my diary I also do at least a little research about the events and causes, but this time I had to do this after the event.

Algerians say no 5th term for Bouteflika


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, a small donation – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.

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

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