Posts Tagged ‘massacres’

Occupy London, The Lord Mayor’s Show & More

Friday, November 12th, 2021

Ten years ago was a very busy day for me in London. Saturday 12th November was the day of the annual Lord Mayor’s Show, which I’d photographed occasionally in previous years, but probably would not have bothered with, but it was made far more interesting this year by the presence of the Occupy London camp outside St Paul’s Cathedral.

I went up quite early to photograph the camp where later in the day Occupy LSX were to hold there own alternative ‘Not the Lord Mayors Show’ festival of entertainment, and wandered around talking to people and taking a few pictures.

I also went to take photographs of some of those preparing to take part in the Lord Mayor’s Show, and then took pictures as the parade began. As I commented, “I found the marching servicemen, military vehicles and weapons and military bands that are a major element of it disturbing. Of course the event as a whole reflects earlier times, with the city aldermen and liverymen in quaint costumes, but it would be appropriate for it to present a rather more civilised face to the world.

As in other years, the Lord Mayor’s coach stopped at St Pauls for him to be blessed by the Canon in Residence Rt Revd Michael Colclough. Occupy LSX asked the cathedral staff if the Canon would bless them too, and though the staff were very doubtful, the Canon came to talk with the people from Occupy and then blessed them too.

Entry to St Pauls, other than to take part in services usually involved paying a fee – back in 2011 it was £14.50 – but is free on the day of the Lord Mayor’s Show, and I took the opportunity to go in and up to the ‘Stone Gallery’ around the base of the dome (the higher ‘Golden Gallery’ was closed because of the crowds) and take some pictures there.

I took the District Line to Westminster for an advertised protest against Ethiopia’s war against Somalia, only to find there were only three men and a small boy at the advertised starting time, though they had a number of placards against what they describe as genocide and ‘Obama’s Proxy War’. They assured me more people would arrive and that the protest would continue for five or six hours, but when I came back again two house later there was no sign of it.

I returned to the City, where some protesters were setting off from the OccupyLSX camp at St Paul’s Cathedral for a ‘tour of shame’, visiting the offices of 3 arms dealers, Qinetiq, BAE and Rolls Royce, who went with David Cameron to Egypt in February to sell arms to the Egyptian army. This was a part of the International Day to Defend the Egyptian Revolution which had toppled the Mubarek regime, but the army had taken charge and there had been more than 12,000 trials in military courts, without the ability to call witnesses or access to lawyers in a programme of repression against the people. They called on the UK government to end support for the Egyptian military and stop selling them arms which might be used in further massacres such as that in Maspero a month earlier when soldiers opened fire killing 27 Coptic Christians and injuring over 300.

I left the marchers at Ludgate Circus and walked back to see what was happening with Occupy SLX at St Paul’s, then took the District Line again to Westminster to see if the Somali protest had grown. There was no sign of it, but I found another protest just leaving Old Palace Yard for a rally outside Westminster Abbey. This was the ‘500 Crosses for Life’ prayer procession, organised by EuroProLife UK, a “European ecumenical initiative” based in Germany with the full title “European Voice of the Unborn Children: Protect Our Life”, and there were several hundred people carrying white crosses.

They had walked from Westminster Cathedral to a rally here and a speaker at the rally was describing and applauding protests outside clinics in Germany where abortions take place. I found this disturbing – and commented on My London Diary “People have a right to their views on abortion, and to hold peaceful protests such as this and of course to pray about the matter. But isn’t harassing women who go to clinics at what is almost certainly for them a very stressful time morally offensive, a demonstration of an un-Christian lack of love as well as a statement of lack of faith in the power of prayer?”

More on all these at:
Anti-Abortion Prayer Protest
Day to Defend the Egyptian Revolution
Somalis Protest Obama’s War
London From St Paul’s
Lord Mayor’s Show
Lord Mayor’s Show – Occupy London


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Eight events

Thursday, December 17th, 2020

I find that I was wrong to suggest in an earlier post that covering seven events on Human Rights Day was a personal record, as on Saturday 17th December 2011 I managed to photograph eight protests.

It was a big day for UK Uncut, protesting about the failure of Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs to get major companies operating in the UK to make proper contributions to our tax revenue. If HMRC had got them to pay up, there would be no need for the massive cuts in public services that were being imposed by the government after the financial crisis. UK Uncut claim that corporate tax doging costs the UK £25 billion a year, four times the amount of the cuts.

Their protest began with UK Uncut’s Santa and two helpers calling at the Westminster offices of the head of UK tax collection with a present, a card and a sack of barbecue charcoal. Dave Hartnett, the man in charge of HMRC had recently let Vodaphone who owed £6 billion pay only around a fifth of what they owed, losing taxpayers £4.75 billion as well as giving an £8 million handout to Goldman Sachs. Mr Hartnett was about to retire with a massive pension despite a series of blunders which cost us a fortune.

As I wrote:

The UK seems to be loophole central for the rich, not just for taxes but also for the kind of fraudulent unregulated creation of imaginary money that has sustained and grown the City since the ‘big bang’ and lies at the epicentre of our current world financial crisis. Doubtless it is too much to hope that Mr Hartnett will be called to account for his relatively small part in this process, but as a taxpayer it pains me to think of him retiring and enjoying an excessive civil service pension for his misdeeds.

A rather larger group of protesters met on Oxford St to protest outside Topshop against the failure of the Arcadia group to pay UK tax on its UK earnings. Sir Philip Green, who took huge amounts of money out of the group eventually leading this year to its collapse with a vast hole in its pension fund, runs a vast empire that includes Topshop, BHS and Dorothy Perkins, but exploits a loophole in that the business is owned by his Monaco-based wife who does not have to pay income tax.

Police had come out in large numbers to protect Topshop, although the protest was expected to be (and was) entirely peaceful. They obstructed the press who were attempting to report on the event, lying to us that we would be allowed to re-enter the store to cover the protest inside, and then aggressively moved on the protesters claiming with little justification that they were causing an obstruction; as I commented, it was clearly a large block of police that were obstructing the pavement and not the protesters.

Police behaved rather better when the protest moved on to Vodaphone, making no attempt to stop the protest on the pavement outside the shop, while forming a line to prevent more than a few early arrivals to get inside the shop.

The protesters made effective use of a ‘Human Microphone’ to shout out in unison a series of short statements about the reason for the protest; they stated that when they first protested about Vodaphone they were told the £6 billion of tax dodged was “an urban myth”, but they had now been told it may have been £8 billion. The protest continued with them singing a number of Christmas carols specially adapted for the event, including:

Away in a mansion
On my four poster bed
You lie outside freezing
While I'm resting my head

The stars in the bright sky
They sparkle like jewels
The ones that I paid for
By robbing you fools

and as I left had begun dancing on the pavement.

I left for Downing St, where Syrian Kurds were calling for an end to the massacres being carried out in Syria by the Assad regime forces – and on that day alone at least 32 civilians including two children were killed.

Kurds form almost a fifth of the Syrian population, and during the continuing civil war in the country have formed an autonomous region in the north of the country which became called Rojava. At the protest they were arguing for Syria after the war to become a federation, with considerable autonomy continuing for regions such as this, though many Kurds also support the formation of a separate nation of Kurdistan, including the Kurdish areas of Iraq and Turkey. Since the end of 2011 the situation has moved on with Turkey invading and occupying some of the Kurdish areas of Syria and the support of Russia for Assad which makes his eventual victory seem inevitable and the future looks even bleaker for the Kurds.

Also protesting opposite Downing St were a group of Congolese, continuing the protests in London against the election fraud, rapes and massacres and calling 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.

The continuing problems in the Congo region are the terrible consequence of the western exploitation of the area’s mineral resources such as Coltan – needed for mobile phones, the computers and other electronic devices on which our lives and the media now depend. But those media “have so far taken relatively little interest in the desperate situation of the people in the Congo. They seem to be being sacrificed while the vast natural resources of their country are being largely stolen by underhand deals which enrich a few in their and neighbouring countries while the industrialised world turns an almost totally blind eye to the violence and injustice.”

The protest outside the US Embassy celebrated the withdrawal of US troops, but also demanded that mercenaries still in Iraq should also be expelled, and the war criminals prosecuted. Iraqis also want an end to the looting and pillaging of Iraq’s natural resources and an end to government sponsored executions there. They were joined by Syrian supported of the Assad regime want the US to stop their attempts to interfere with events in Syria through UN resolutions and other means.

The BBC came in for criticism from the Iraqis as “a Patronizing Media Channel, With Racist Undertones, towards Arabs & Islam” and being “Deceptive and Inaccurate” and they asked “Why does it not report on the wide spread asset looting and corruption taking place in Iraq?”

Also outside the US Embassy was a vigil on the 24th birthday of Bradley (now Chelsea) Manning whose pre-trail hearing was taking place. The protesters who included members of Veterans for Peace and Payday Men’s Network called him an American Peace Hero for leaking evidence of US war crimes.

It was beginning to get dark by the time I reached the Egyptian embassy where Egyptians had come to protest after the military attacks on protesters in Cairo, killing at least 10 and injuring more than 500.

It was a protest that was slow to start – and when I arrived on time I found only one person there. I waited, feeling increasingly frustrated as the light was disappearing rather faster than protesters were arriving. Half an hour later around 25 people had come and more were arriving and I took my pictures and left.

Egyptians Protest At Embassy
Bradley Manning Birthday Demo
Iraqis and Syrians Protest At US
Congolese Protests Continue
Kurds Call For A Stop To Syrian Massacres
UK Uncut Xmas Protest At Vodaphone
UK Uncut Xmas Protest At Topshop
UK Uncut Santa Calls on Dave Hartnett


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