Posts Tagged ‘Palestinians’

Free Palestine March & Rally 2005

Tuesday, May 21st, 2024

Free Palestine March & Rally – May 21st 2005. George Galloway, then MP for Bethnal Green, was clearly the man of the hour at the rally in Trafalgar Square, fresh back from his hearing in front of a US Senate committee. As I commented in 2005, “the senators were clearly outclassed and outgunned as Galloway gave them a verbal ‘Glasgow kiss.’ It was an impressively sustained performance of concentrated power, a pit-bull seeing off a pack of ineffectual spaniels.”

Free Palestine March & Rally

The crowd gave him “a tumultous ovation when he arrived at the Trafalgar Square rally” at the end of the march, and his speech there did not diappoint them. I commented “he has built up a great rapport with the many muslims now living in this country, not least in his own Bethnal Green constituency, the youths from Bradford were excited when he promised to come and visit their city.” Of course many things have happened since then, but it wasn’t surprising to see him elected for Bradford West at the 2012 by-election or more recently when he won the seat at Rochdale this February.

Free Palestine March & Rally

Galloway was not the only powerful speaker at the rally, with putting in his usual performance as “probably the best living political speaker at least using the english language” and Jeremy Corbyn, still a much underrated speaker, also showing what he could do. And there were others too, including Paul Mackney of the higher education teachers’ union, NATFHE.

Free Palestine March & Rally

The march from Embankment to Trafalgar Square had been reasonably large but not huge, though more had arrived for the rally. Waiting at the side of the march as it reached the square was human rights activist Peter Tatchell with a group from Outrage!

Free Palestine March & Rally

They supported the Palestinian struggle for freedom and justice, but demanded an end to the “so-called ‘honour’ killing of Palestinian women, and the arrest, jailing, torture and murder of lesbian and gay Palestinians by factions of the PLO, Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the Palestinian Authority.”

Free Palestine March & Rally

At first police stopped the group from getting to the march and handing out leaflets, but after a complaint by Tatchell they were allow to do so. Some march stewards tried to stop people taking the leaflets, but many did so and expressed their support.

You can read more about the event on the second May page on My London Diary under the heading George’s Triumph and the pictures begin at the right of this page.


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Nakba, NHS, Guantánamo, Sri Lanka – 2013

Saturday, May 18th, 2024

Nakba, NHS, Guantánamo, Sri Lanka: On Saturday 18th May 2013 I began work outside Parliament at a protest against Israeli ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, then went across the Thames to the Festival Hall for the start of a march to defend the NHS before going the US Embassy in Grosvenor Square for a ‘murder scene’ in solidarity with hunger strikers at Guantánamo. There I also photographed a woman protesting for the release of her husband arrested 9 years ago by US forces in Iraq. Finally I met a march by several thousands of Tamils calling for and end to the continuing genocide in Sri Lanka. You will find much more detail (and many more pictures) on each of these protests at links below to My London Diary.


End Israeli Ethnic Cleansing – Old Palace Yard, Westminster

Nakba, NHS, Guantánamo, Sri Lanka

65 years after 700,000 Palestinians were driven out of their homes as refugees in the ‘Nakba’ (catastrophe) when Israel was created, Palestinians call for an end to the continuing ethnic cleansing and a boycott and sanctions until Israel complies with international law.

Nakba, NHS, Guantánamo, Sri Lanka

Several hundred people came to the protest, including a group of extreme orthodox Neturei Karta Jews who see themselves as guardians of the true Jewish faith, and reject Zionism, as well as many of Jewish or Palestinian origin. As well as the Palestine Solidarity Campaign the protest was also supported by many other groups – a long list on My London Diary – and speeches were continuing when I left for another event.

Nakba, NHS, Guantánamo, Sri Lanka

More about the Nakba and the protest at End Israeli Ethnic Cleansing.


London Marches to Defend NHS – South Bank to Whitehall

Nakba, NHS, Guantánamo, Sri Lanka

Thousands had gathered by the Festival Hall to march against cuts, closures and privatisation of the NHS, including many groups opposed to hospital closures around London, trade unionists and others concerned the the government is ending the NHS.

An unprecedented coalition of Londoners, including medical staff, trade unions, health campaigners, patients and others have been alarmed at what they see as an attack by the government on the principles that underlie our National Health Service and the threats of closure of Accident and Emergency facilities, maternity units and hospital wards which seem certain to lead to our health system being unable to cope with demand – and many lives put at risk.

You can read more about the crisis in the NHS in 2013 in the post on My London Diary, but of course this has continued and is still making the news. Despite their protestations it seems clear that the Tories are trying hard to run down the NHS so that the population lose its trust and love for our universal free public – and would allow them to eventually replace it with US-style insurance based healthcare which would greatly increase costs and generate huge profits for private health companies.

I went with the march across Waterloo Bridge and down Strand to Charing Cross, leaving it as it was waiting to enter Whitehall for a rally there.

More information and pictures at London Marches to Defend NHS.


Guantánamo Murder Scene – US Embassy, Grosvenor Square

London Guantánamo Campaign staged a ‘murder scene’ at the US Embassy on the 101st day of the Guantánamo Hunger Strike in which over 100 of the 166 still held there are taking part, with many including Shaker Aamer now being forcibly fed.

As I arrived there were 8 black-hooded ‘prisoners’ in orange suits lying on the pavement, the number of prisoners who have died there in suspicious circumstances who had previously taken part in sustained hunger strikes. At least seven of them had the cause of death reported as ‘suicide’.

Other protesters drew lines around the bodies on the ground and surrounded the area with ‘Crime Scene – Do Not Enter‘ incident tape. The bodies then stood up and there was a short enactment of forced feeding by a man wearing an Obama mask.

Others held placards and posters, some including quotations from Thomas Jefferson and other historic and prominent Americans, and there were speeches about the events in Guantanamo, where British resident Shaker Aamer was still held despite having been cleared for release. You can read more, including a statement by one of the organisers, on My London Diary.

As I left some of the poems written in Guantánamo by Shaker Aamer were being read.

More at Guantánamo Murder Scene.


More US Embassy Protests – US Embassy, Grosvenor Square

Also protesting outside the embassy as she has for a number of weekends was Narmeen Saleh Al Rubaye, born in the US and currently living in Birmingham, whose husband Shawki Ahmed Omar, an American citizen, was arrested in Iraq by American forces in 2004 and turned over to Iraqi custody in 2011. He was tortured by the Americans when held by them, and his now being tortured by the Iraqis. He is also on hunger strike. His young daughter Zeinab came and spoke briefly to the Guantanamo protesters, telling them that she wanted her daddy to be released.

Later she was joined by a small group of Muslim men and boys who stood with her.

It was a busy day for protests at at the US Embassy were a small group of supporters of Syrian President Assad, including some from the minor Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist) who had come to protest against western intervention in Syria.

More about these protests at More US Embassy Protests.


Tamils protest Sri Lankan Genocide – Hyde Park to Waterloo Place

Finally I rushed away to join thousands of British Tamils and dignitaries and politicians from India, Sri Lanka and the UK who were marching through London on the 4th anniversary of the Mullivaikkal Massacre. Many were dressed in black in memory of the continuing genocide in Sri Lanka and some wore the tiger emblem and called for a Tamil homeland – Tamil Eelam.

Tamils are disgusted at the lack of response by the UK, the Commonwealth and the world to the organised genocide that took place and is still continuing in Sri Lanka, of which the massacre at Mullivaikkal four years ago was a climax. I noted on My London Diary that I could see no other non-Tamil photographers covering the event.

On My London Diary you can read a statement by the British Tamil Forum who had organised the march. I left as the rally in Waterloo Place was about to start, partly because I was tired but also because I thought few of the speeches would be in English.

Tamils protest Sri Lankan Genocide.


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Palestinian Land Day – 2019

Saturday, March 30th, 2024

Palestinian Land Day remembers the day in 1976 when unarmed protesters were killed when marches in Arab towns against the confiscation of land were confronted by Israeli army and police. Six unarmed Palestinians were killed around a hundred wounded and hundreds arrested. Most of the information here on Land Day is from Wikipedia.

Palestinian Land Day - 2019

The numbers involved now seem so small compared to the over 32,000 murdered in Gaza in recent months but it was a significant event as the marches were the first since 1948 in which Palestinians had organised nationally together against Israeli policies with these marches and a national strike.

Palestinian Land Day - 2019

The protests were against plans to confiscate Arab land and to expand Jewish settlements in Galilee were a part of an increasing seizure of Arab land.

Palestinian Land Day - 2019

In response to the planned strike and marches there had been a much increased police and military presence in the area, with armoured vehicles and tanks being driven “along the unpaved roads of various villages of the Galilee“. Some of these military convoys were attacked by youths with stones and even, according to Israeli government sources, Molotov cocktails.

Palestinian Land Day - 2019

The Israeli government had declared the strikes and all demonstrations illegal and some Palestinian leaders had voted against supporting them, but these actions seem only to have hardened the resolve of the Palestinians.

Palestinian Land Day - 2019

According to the Wikipedia article, quoting an academic source, the events led to “a new sense of national pride, together with anger toward the state and police and sorrow over the dead protesters, developed among the Arab community in Israel.” And in 1988, Land Day was announced as “a Palestinian-Israeli civil national day of commemoration and a day of identification with Palestinians of the West Bank and Gaza, to be marked by yearly demonstrations and general strikes.

The Freedom, justice & equality for Palestinians protest in London close to the Israeli Embassy in Kensington on Land Day, 30th March 2019 came a year after the 2018 Land Day Protest in Gaza, also known as The Great March of Return. On that day in Gaza, 30,0000 Palestinians took part in a largely peaceful march some distance from the border fence. But Israeli snipers in safe positions opened fire on those who approached the fence, some to burn tyres or through objects at the fence. 17 Palestinians were killed, including five Hamas members, and more than 1,400 injured.

A small group of Zionists had come to oppose the protest

Smaller marches in Gaza continued at weekly intervals and by Land Day 2019 a total of over 250 mainly unarmed protesters had been killed and thousands injured.

It’s hard to look back on history to Land Day (and beyond) and not see how Zionist right wing policies have failed both Israel and Palestine and are continuing to fall all those in the area. Balfour is often blamed for kicking the situation off, but had his “it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine” ever been taken seriously we would not be where we are now.

A line of police protects the Zionist pen

The Oslo Accords were another start to a possible peace process, but again firmly opposed by the right-wing Zionist parties – and Israeli prime minister Yitshak Rabin was assassinated for signing them. Leaders opposed to the accords – Ariel Sharon and current Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu came to power.

This man shouts repeatedly ‘There are no Palestinians in Gaza!’

On Land Day 2019, a group of Zionist extremists had come along to the Palestinian protest to try and shout down those speaking. Police kept them a short distance away and with a relatively powerful public address system their efforts were largely inaudible.

Some of the Palestinians took a large Palestine flag and hid the group behind it until police persuaded them back and other protesters moved in to argue with and shout at them. Police tried to move the Palestinians away with little success while I was present

Taking part in the Palestinian protest were as usual many Jews, including the ultra-orthodox Neturei Karta who see Zionism as diametrically opposed to Judiasm.

Freedom, justice & equality for Palestinians.


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No To Arms Fair At Twickenham

Saturday, January 27th, 2024

No To Arms Fair At Twickenham: This Monday, 22nd January 2024, Richmond & Kingston Palestine Solidarity Campaign organised their third annual protest at Twickenham Rugby Stadium which was hosting the International Armoured Vehicles Fair for the third year in a row from 22-25th January. The arms fair claims to be the largest of its type in the world, attracting around a thousand delegates from over 40 nations,

I came to the bus stop outside Twickenham Station to find several people clearly on their way to the stadium, and found more on the bus when it arrived – the bus more or less emptied when we arrived at the stop in front of the stadium. We walked across the road and joined a hundred or so who had already come to protest.

I had to leave after around an hour for a meeting, and people were still arriving to the protest which had another couple of hours to run. This was a considerably larger protest than in the two previous years having become more important because many of the companies selling weapons inside are suppliers of weapons which are being used now to kill Palestinians in Gaza.

Richmond & Kingston Palestine Solidarity Campaign is an active local group campaigning for the rights of Palestinians, justice and freedom against Israeli occupation and apartheid. Their numbers at this protest were swelled by others who had come from other areas of London to tell the Rugby Football Union to stop hosting arms fairs. As well as the International Armoured Vehicles Fair this week they are also hosting the International Military Helicopter conference from 27th to 29th February 2024.

Many of the posters and placards at the protest called for an end to the Israeli genocide taking place in Gaza now, and there were others more specific to Twickenham, calling for fair play and an end to the promotion of killing by the Rugby authorities.

At the centre of the protest was a large poster with the heading ‘MERCHANTS OF DEATH’ naming companies taking part in the arms fair, including BAE Systems, Elbit Systems and Thales, with cartoons of arms dealers making vast profits from war. Most of the companies involved supply Israel with armoured vehicles and other weapons used in its devastating assault on Gaza and used to repress, terrorise, abduct and kill civilians and children in Palestine as well as in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Yemen and elsewhere around the world. And as some posters and speakers reminded us, Israeli arms manufacturers proudly boast ‘OUR WEAPONS ARE FIELD-TESTED’ – on Palestinians in the killing fields of Gaza and the West Bank.

Standing around the poster were members of Richmond & Kingston PSC, holding up their hands in white gloves stained with fake blood, with one holding a Palestinian flag. Others held posters and banners, ‘CEASEFIRE NOW’, ‘WAR KILLS PEOPLE & PLANET’, ‘STOP BOMBING CHLDREN’

Shortly before I had to leave a group arrived carrying cloth bundles stained with red dye, representing the children killed by the Israeli attacks. A report by Save The Children from Ramallah on 11th January began with the following:

More than 10,000 children have been killed by Israeli airstrikes and ground operations in Gaza in nearly 100 days of violence, according to the Ministry of Health in Gaza, with thousands more missing, presumed buried under rubble, Save the Children said.

Save The Children

By now the number will be many more. As one poster stated: ‘TWICKENHAM DON’T SIDE WITH GENOCIDE’.

More pictures

Remember Gaza & Ashura 2009

Wednesday, December 27th, 2023

Remember Gaza & Ashura – Two events in London on December 27th 2009 was the first anniversary of ‘Operation Cast Lead’, Israel’s earlier war against Gaza which began on 27 Dec 2008. By the time this illegal attack came to an end on 18 Jan 2009, it had killed more than 1,400 Palestinians and devastated the Gaza strip, destroying homes and infrastructure.


Remember Gaza – Israeli Embassy, Kensington

Remember Gaza & Ashura 2009

That attack in 2008 had come after a number of earlier attacks by Israel on Gaza over the years – which had resulted in a growing active resistance from Palestinians, including the firing of rockets from Gaza into Israel and the free election of Hamas with a majority in Gaza in 2006.

Remember Gaza & Ashura 2009

After Hamas took over the running of the Gaza strip in 2007, Israel imposed an indefinite blockade of Gaza that has continued until now. Intended to stop Hamas importing weapons it “also led to significant humanitarian challenges, as it restricts the flow of essential goods, contributes to economic hardship, and limits the freedom of movement for Gaza’s residents.”

Remember Gaza & Ashura 2009

The current destruction of Gaza is of course on a much greater scale than in 2008, with over 20,000 Gazan deaths including 10,000 children. More journalists have now been killed in Gaza than were killed in the whole six years of the Second World War; many aid workers have also been killed. Over 90% of those living in Gaza have been forced to flee their homes with many families living in squalid conditions in makeshift tents without water supplies or sanitation and short of food. UN officials on the ground describe it as “hell on earth”.

Remember Gaza & Ashura 2009

It is now clear to almost everyone around the world outside Israel that the current Israeli attacks go far beyond anything that can possibly be justified as a response to the horrific attack by Hamas on 7th September. Now impossible not to see the current attacks as an attempt at genocide, the complete elimination of the Palestinian population of the area, and this has been the clearly stated aim of some Israeli right-wing politicians including some of those in the Israeli government.

It is hard at the moment to see any end to the current destruction of Gaza and its people by Israeli armed forces. The US seems unable to exert any real influence on Israel but has been able to effectively stymie any international action through the United Nations, watering down the United Nations Security Council resolution to almost meaningless platitudes – and even then abstaining.

As Russia’s UN Ambassador stated to the council, this resolution “would essentially be giving the Israeli armed forces complete freedom of movement for further clearing of the Gaza Strip“.

More than a thousand came to protest as close a police would allow them to the Israeli Embassy in Kensington on December 27th 2009. They called for an end to the siege of Gaza, justice for the Palestinian people and the trial of Israelis responsible for war crimes, and for Egypt to allow the peace convoy taking humanitarian aid to Gaza to proceed.

It was a peaceful but noisy rally, with a number of speakers including Jeremy Corbyn as well as Palestinians from Gaza. Police stopped people from crossing the road towards the private road leading to the Israeli embassy and led them back, with one man who sat down and refused to move being carried back with reasonable care by smiling officers.

Also present at the protest were a group of ultra-orthodox Neturei Karta Jews who oppose Zionism, believing it to be a political movement that is against their view of the Jewish religion. They were taking part in other similar demonstrations in major cities around the world and a group of their Rabbis was on its way to Gaza to show solidarity with the people.

More on My London Diary at Remember Gaza.


Ashura Day Procession – Marble Arch to Kensington

Also taking place earlier in the day in London on 27th December 2009 was the annual Ashura Day procession, which takes place on the 10th of the Muslim month of Muharram to mourn the assassination of the Imam Hussain and his followers at Karbala in AH 61 (680 AD.) Because the Islamic Calendar is based on a year of 12 lunar months this observance occurs at different dates each year according to the civil Gregorian calendar – and in 2023 was in July.

The march began at Marble Arch and two large groups of Shia Muslims – men followed by women -marched from there to the Islamic Centre in Holland Park. Most were dressed in black and many beat their chests with their hands in mourning as they marched to the beat of drums and the sounding of trumpets. Some wept as the marched. Many had been fasting for the previous nine days of Muharram, saying prayers and giving charitable gifts.

Imam Hussain was the grandson of the Prophet Mohammad and he and his followers had refused to accept the authority of Caliph Yazid as they believed this would have meant abandoning the “true” Islam of his grandfather. He and his small group of followers were surrounded at Karbala, left for three days in the desert without water and then Imam Hussain and his 72 male companions including male children were slaughtered and the women made to march as captives to Damascus.

More on My London Diary at Ashura Day Procession,


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UN Human Rights Day 2016

Sunday, December 10th, 2023

UN Human Rights Day – On 10 December 1948 the 1948 the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and December 10th is now celebrated around the world as Human Rights Day.

The theme for the day in 2016 was ‘Stand up for someone’s rights today’ and there were a number of protests in London which did just that. This year will mark the 75th anniversary of the declaration and it seems unlikely that the UK government will be doing much celebration as it begins to try to push through a law to prevent asylum seekers from asserting their human rights.


Silent Chain for Europe – Old Palace Yard, Westminster

UN Human Rights Day

Campaigners linked arms in silent chains in protest opposite parliament and elsewhere in other towns and cities.

UN Human Rights Day

They say Brexit threatens our human rights including workers rights to paid holidays, maternity leave and fair treatment at work, the right of free movement around Europe, to live in the EU and for EU citizens to live here, disability rights and the right to freedom from discrimination.

More pictures at Silent Chain for Europe.


BBC censors prison struggles – Broadcasting House

UN Human Rights Day

A Human Rights day protest outside the BBC highlighted the failure of the organisation to report on people wrongly held in prison in some countries around the world.

UN Human Rights Day

They say the BBC as an institution largely or totally ignores wrongful imprisonment in Northern Ireland, including the frame-up of the Craigavon 2 and the continuing internment of Tony Taylor for legal political activities.

The Craigavon 2, John Paul Wootton and Brendan McConville, have been in prison since March 2009 and were convicted for the killing of police officer Stephen Carroll by a Diplock court without a jury on the basis of evidence which has been described as ludicrous. An appeal was dismissed in 2014 and at the start of 2023 Northern Ireland’s The Sunday Life newspaper revealed that MI5 had set up and operated what purported to be a human rights organisation but was actually working to subvert the campaign for their release.

Other cases the say the BBC consistently fails to report include the imprisonment of Mumia Abu Jamal on Death Row in the USA, Palestinians held in Israeli jails and victims of Erdogan’s purge in Turkey.

BBC censors prison struggles


Balochs UN Human Rights Day protest – Downing St

People from Balochistan in West Pakistan called on Theresa May to speak up for the Baloch people and their freedom against the Pakistan regime which they claim has a policy of genocide against the Baloch people and has killed thousands of Baloch activists and abducted more than 25,000 of them.

When Pakistan was set up in 1947, the kingdom of Balochistan became a part of it with some autonomy but a year later was merged with Pakistan. Since then various political and military separatists have emerged in the area which also includes part of neighbouring Iran.

Balochs UN Human Rights Day protest


Human Rights Day call close Guantanamo – Downing St

Also at Downing Street the Guantanamo Justice Campaign held a rally calling for an end to torture, the closure of Guantanamo and an end to British complicity in torture.

Speakers at the rally included Lewes Amnesty Group Chair Sara Birch, Journalist and writer Victoria Brittain and Stop the War convenor Lindsey German. Mizan the Poet gave an impressive performance of his poem ‘1984’ against the government’s anti-Muslim ‘Prevent’ counter extremism strategy.

More pictures at Human Rights Day call close Guantanamo


Save Yazidi women and girls – Westminster

A small group of women protesters from WAVE (Women’s Action against Violent Extremism) held placards in Parliament Square before coming to protest at Downing St calling for help for the Yazidi women who were targeted and captured by ISIS (Da’esh) in Iraq.

ISIS regard the Yazidi as devil worshippers and subjected their women to physical and sexual violence, including systematic rape and sex slavery. The UN in 2014 reported that more than 5000 Yazidis had been murdered and 5-7,000 abducted. Over 3,400 are believed to be still held.

Although in 2014 the UK government in 2014 provided some emergency aid to those who escaped to a refugee camp, few if any have been given asylum here. The Independent reported in 2018 that “some Yazidis in the UK are having their asylum denied.” When SNP Brendan O’Hara asked a question in Parliament in 2022 on how many Yazidi refugees have been resettled in the UK since 2014 he was simply told that the Home Office keeps no records of the religious or ethnic background of refugees. Others put the figure at close to zero.

Save Yazidi women and girls


Not everything I photographed in London on 10th December was related to Human Rights Day. I also found a couple of rhinos and many more Santas. You can see them on My London Diary.
Save the Rhino
London Santacon 201


Solidarity With Gaza, Save Lewisham Hospital – 2012

Friday, November 24th, 2023

Solidarity With Gaza, Save Lewisham Hospital – On Saturday morning, 24th November 2012 I joined marchers against the then recent Israeli attacks on Gaza and the continuing blockade which makes normal life there impossible. Although still a clearly disproportionate response, the death toll in 2012 was minuscule compared to the current ongoing destruction. In the afternoon I went to Lewisham for a march against proposals to close A&E and maternity services, and possibly also the the children’s wards, critical care unit and emergency surgery by the Trust Special Administrator Matthew Kershaw.


Solidarity With Gaza, End the Seige Now – Downing St

Solidarity With Gaza, Save Lewisham Hospital

Despite persistent rain, several thousands turned up to protest at Downing Street before marching towards the Israeli Embassy following the start ten days earlier of ‘Operation Pillar of Defense‘ by the the Israel Defense Forces (IDF).

Solidarity With Gaza, Save Lewisham Hospital

In the eight days before a ceasefire, Wikipedia statesthe IDF claimed to have struck more than 1,500 sites in the Gaza Strip, including rocket launchpads, weapon depots, government facilities, and apartment blocks” with the UNHCR reporting “174 were killed and hundreds were wounded. Many families were displaced.”

Solidarity With Gaza, Save Lewisham Hospital

There were also deaths and casualties among Israelis, but on a much smaller scale, with 6 Israelis being killed and 240 injured by rockets fired from Gaza.

Solidarity With Gaza, Save Lewisham Hospital

As in this year, “Canada, Germany, the United Kingdom, the United States, and other Western countries expressed support for what they considered Israel’s right to defend itself” , or condemned the Hamas attacks, while some other countries condemned the Israel attacks. Human Rights Watch said both sites committed war crimes.

Solidarity With Gaza, Save Lewisham Hospital

As in 2023, many of hose killed in Gaza in 2012 where children, and at the front of the march, ahead of the main banner were a group of children, each carrying a placard hanging around their neck with the names and ages of some of the dead children.

And as in the recent marches I’ve photographed, both the National Marches calling for a ceasefire in Gaza and those in Camden and Lewisham, among those taking part there were many individual Jews and Jewish groups including Jews Against the Siege of Gaza, Jews for Justice for Palestinians and a group of Jewish Socialists.

Before the march began 163 while balloons printed with the Palestinian flag – one for each of the Palestinians then known to have been killed – were released. The march then moved up Whitehall and I went with it as far as Trafalgar Square where I took pictures for the next 15 minutes or so as the crowd moved past before catching a train from Charing Cross to Lewisham.

More at Solidarity With Gaza, End the Seige Now


Save A&E at Lewisham Hospital – Lewisham

Thousands of protesters – perhaps as many as 15,000 – formed a human chain to hold hands around Lewisham hospital after a march from the centre of Lewisham to oppose plans to close its A&E department to pay debts from mismanagement at other hospitals in south London, which have huge PFI debts.

The march had seemed rather smaller than expected when I arrived at the start close to Lewisham station, but the numbers grew greatly as we got closer to the hospital and Ladywell Fields, with the road still packed with people coming to join this as the human chain began to form.

At Ladywell Fields the march divided into two, with hospital workers making their way to the front of the hospital in an anti-clockwise direction and the others going clockwise to meet them. Soon people were filling the whole thre-quarters of a mile ring around the hospital and holding hands in a human chain. The organisers had asked people to go in single file, but there were far too many in most places for this and in some areas the pavements were filled ten deep.

Traffic around the hospital was brought to a stop with people still flooding in on the High Street and Ladywell Road and nothing was moving on the roads by the time I left and caught a train home, except for ambulances which police and stewards were ensuring could still reach the hospital, clearing a route through the crowds.

Lewisham Hospital is well run and well used by people in the area around, and has played no part in the financial problems faced by the South London Hospitals Trust, which were largely caused by disastrous private finance schemes entered into to build the trust’s hospitals in Orpington and Woolwich. The planned closures would drastically cut health services in the area and almost certainly lead to many deaths as well as huge inconvenience for millions and are driven entirely by the financial gain in selling off 60% of the site.

But even this makes little sense as the expected £17 million this would raise would be only a minor one-off contribution towards the over £60 million the Trust has to find each year for its PFI debts which were then expected to total around £1,200 million before they were paid off.

The problem of PFI debt is not of course limited to this trust. Government figures in 2018 were that the total value of PFI investments in the NHS was then £12.8 billion – and that by the time these were paid off the NHS will have paid over £80 billion for them – more than six times as much. The figures have worsened since then as many contracts include inflation-based cost increases – leading to an extra £264 million in payments in the past 2 years. Some trusts now have to spend 10-13% of their total income on their PFI debts, and these payments cannot be cut and are prioritised. over other expenditure such as than on staff costs and drugs.

Lewisham Hospital’s campaign against the cuts was successful. They were ruled unlawful by the High Court and eventually dropped by Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt after he lost an appeal.

More at Save A&E at Lewisham Hospital.


Armistice Day Protests 2006

Saturday, November 11th, 2023

Armistice Day Protests – Today I hope to be photographing a huge protest calling for a ceasefire in Gaza and peace in the Middle East as it makes its way from Hyde Park to the US Embassy. It’s an event some Tory politicians have tried to arouse controversy around, aided by some of the media in their lies. Armistice Day has always been an occasion for protests for peace and making it out as some huge national celebration we all share in is untrue as this post shows.

Armistice Day Protests

Both the BBC and the Tories seized on the fact that some people at a protest in London shouted ‘Jihad!’ but lie in saying it was an offshoot from the huge march taking place in London calling for peace and justice for Palestine.

It’s a lie that the BBC continues to let them promulgate without question, although their journalists must surely know that this was at an entirely separate protest organised by Hizb ut-Tahrir Britain, an Islamic fundamentalist political organisation dedicated to the establishment of an Islamic caliphate, whose lead banner at their protest read “Muslim Armies! Rescue the People of Palestine!”.

Armistice Day Protests

I’ve photographed many protests by Hizb ut-Tahrir in London since I first came across them in 2004 and they are very different and entirley separate from those organised by mainstream Muslim organisations, Stop The War, CND and the others now leading the protests by hundreds of thousands across the country calling for an end to the killing of civilians – whether Palestinian or Israelis – in Palestine and Israel. Most are particularly enraged by the killing of so many children in Gaza by air strikes which Israel claims are targeted, but are targeted on places where many people live and so die in them.

I think most of us who march – and the many more who support the marches but are unable to attend – want peace and the justice that can only come if there is a thriving country where Palestinians can live normal lives in peace and not under military rule and an apartheid regime.

Armistice Day Protests

Probably that can only come about with a two-state solution and a massive world aid programme to restore the incredible damage in Gaza as well as establishing rational borders for Palestine with the removal of many of the illegal settlements.

I grew up in a largely working class area on the outskirts of London in the 1950s, and then I think it was true that virtually the whole of the country paused to celebrate and commemorate the armistice, joining in with the minute’s silence in schools, shops, works and offices and traffic on the roads coming to a halt.

Armistice Day Protests

But even then relatively few joined in the military style parades on Remembrance Sunday, with most of my friend’s parents who had fought in WW2 having had more than enough of that kind of thing. My attendance was compulsory as a Wolf Cub and Boy Scout but I resented it and my freezing legs as cold November winds blew up my shorts – and the derision from friends who weren’t members. And by the time I was a Senior Scout we collectively refused to take part.

The idea that Armistice Day is not a suitable day for a peaceful protest calling for an end to the fighting and peace in the Middle East seems to me to be beyond absurd – yet again is taken seriously and promoted by the BBC. Armistice Day has I think always seen protests for peace – and November 11th 2006 was no exception.

On that day I began on Park Lane, where there was a brief ceremony in front of the sculpture commemorating animals who died in war in the central area there at 11 am. There were only a small group there, wearing poppies they described as purple, though to me they seemed more lilac or mauve. In 2018, the Peace Pledge Union sold 122,385 white poppies: more than any year since white poppies were first worn in 1933, and many keep their white poppies to wear in following years, as unlike the red poppies their sale is not intended to raise funds but they are simply worn as a symbol of remembrance and peace.

I moved on to Grosvenor Square and the US Embassy where School Students Against The War had scheduled a ‘die-in’. Unfortunately only around 20 had turned up for it – probably now many work on Saturdays or prefer to enjoy a lie-in at home.

Another short walk took me to Marks & Spencer on Oxford Street, where a protest was taking place as a part of the fourth International Week of Action against the Apartheid Wall in Palestine.

Fight Racism, Fight Imperialism who had organised this event also hold regular vigils outside M&S every Thursday evening, calling for a boycott of the company as part of a wider Boycott Israel campaign. M&S sell goods including those coming illegally from the occupied territories of Palestine and give financial and moral support to Israel.

School Students Against The War came from the US Embassy to join them and staged their die-in on the wide pavement in front of M&S. This certainly generated a great deal of attention and they made some short speeches to the the crowds milling past M&S before marching off down Oxford Street with their megaphones and banner. They staged a second ‘die-in’ further down the street, again attracting the attention of shoppers, although perhaps surprisingly, not the police none of whom seemed to be around.

I went on to Trafalgar Square where I hoped to photograph the fountains filled with red poppies, but I arrived a little late to find a man in waders fishing them out with a shrimp net. It was bizarre if not surreal, although not quite what I’d been hoping for.

My main event of the day was taking place on Whitehall, at the Cenotaph. Not the military parade ‘at the eleventh hour‘ which I had refused to cover, but a commemoration by some of the families of servicemen killed in Iraq.

Led by a piper they marched solemnly to stand in front of it, while they came up to read out the names of the 121 dead British servicemen killed in the Iraq war. A small selection of names of Iraqi civilians killed was also read out. It’s difficult to estimate the exact number who have died, and more deaths have occured since 2006. The US Brown University Watson Institute now states “we know that between 280,771-315,190 have died from direct war related violence caused by the U.S., its allies, the Iraqi military and police, and opposition forces from the time of the invasion through March 2023.”

A deputation then took a letter in to Downing Street for Prime Minister Tony Blair who had misled parliament and ignored the largest protest ever seen in the UK to take the country into a misguided invasion together with the USA.

Among those taking part in what was an extremely moving ceremony were Rose Gentle of Military Families Against The War, and others who have lost sons or partners in Iraq, including Ann Lawrence, Roger Bacon, Natasha Mclellan, Maureen Bacon as well as Lance Corporal George Solomou, from the London Regiment of the Territorial Army who refused to go to fight in Iraq. Families of some serving soldiers also took part.

Also there and supporting the event among others were Kate Hudson of CND, Yvonne Ridley and Lindsey German of Respect and Stop The War, fashion designer Katherine Hamnett, and Jeremy Corbyn MP.

This was an event that attracted considerable media attention; there is a delicate balance between intruding on private grief, but those there had chosen to make their grief public, and we had to record it for them.

More Pictures on My London Dairy – Scroll down the page there for links.


End Killing In Palestine & Doctors Protest – 2015

Tuesday, October 17th, 2023

End killing in Palestine & Doctors Protest: Eight years aso on Saturday 17th October 2015 protesters came to the street close to the Israeli Embassy to call for peace in Palestine and an end to Israeli repression. Later I photographed Junior Doctors protesting against changes to their contracts being imposed by the government.


End the killing in Palestine – Israeli Embassy

End killing in Palestine & Doctors Protest

A large crowd were squashed into a protest pen set up by police on the far side of High Street Kensington opposite the private road where Israel has its embassy. Many had Palestinian flags and wore the Palestinian keffiyeh headscarf, and they included many Palestinians.

End killing in Palestine & Doctors Protest

There had been a number of events over the previous month, in particular over what appeared to be a change to the de facto arrangements since 1967 for access by Palestinians to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem and an apparent end to the ban on Jewish religious ceremonies there, as well as growing frustration over the continuing suppression of human rights and the failure of any peace talks.

End Killing In Palestine & Doctors Protest - 2015

Tension was increased by a number of uncoordinated stabbings in what has been called the ‘Jerusalem intifada’, carried out by lone Palestinians against Israeli police, military personnel and civilians. This unrest lasted well into 2016.

End Killing In Palestine & Doctors Protest - 2015

In response Israeli forces killed over 200 Palestinians, many of whom were allegedly carrying out attacks on Israelis. But human rights organisations and Palestinian leaders say that many of these were unlawful ‘extrajudicial’ killings, with some of these being killed posing no threat.

Many of those who spoke at the protest – and many are listed and shown on My London Diary – complained about the one-sided coverage of the events in the UK media, particularly the BBC, saying that while the killing of Israelis makes the BBC news headlines, the deaths of Palestinians at the hand of Israeli security forces, illegal settlers and other Jewish extremists is seldom mentioned, although some BBC correspondents make a point of doing so despite the corporate pressure to downplay them.

More at End the killing in Palestine.


Junior Doctors protest to save the NHS – Waterloo Place & Whitehall

Junior Doctors and their supporters including many consultants and other medical staff gathered for a rally in Waterloo Place before marching down Whitehall to a rally in Parliament Square.

They were protesting against new contracts which Health Minister Jeremy Hunt was imposing on them. These will mean more working unsocial hours at standard rates and remove the safeguards that prevent hospitals from more serious overwork. They also penalised those who volunteer for charities, have families or carry out research.

Many doctors see the new contracts as a part of the increasing attempts to privatise the NHS for the profits of private medical firms, which many Tory MPs have interests in. Overwhelmingly doctors who work in the NHS want to see it kept as a service dedicated to the public good rather than working for private profit.

Hunt says the changes are essential to make the NHS a 24 hour 7 day service, but it is already that, and there were many placards naming doctors who would have come to the protest but could not do so as they were at work.

Some of the placards against NHS privatisation for the march were designed by Street graffiti artist Stik who is standing under two of them in this picture. The marchers crowded into Parliament Square but there was not enough room for them all at the rally.

More at Junior Doctors protest to save the NHS


Votes, Love, Arms & Al Quds

Monday, July 3rd, 2023

Votes, Love, Arms & Al Quds: Sunday 3rd July 2016 was a busy day for me, photographing young people demanding the right to vote, a board remembering murdered MP Jo Cox, a picket against sponsorship of the London Transport Museum by one of the largest arms companies in the world and then the always controversial annual Al Quds Day march and its Zionist counter-demonstration.


16-17 Year olds demand the vote – Trafalgar Square to Parliament Sq

Votes, Love, Arms & Al Quds

Many young people who were not old enough to vote in the EU referendum were outraged at not being able to take part in the vote which will impact their future more than that of older generations.

Votes, Love, Arms & Al Quds

They point out that many of those who did vote will die before the worst effects of Brexit are felt, and that it was the vote of the eldest in the population to leave Europe than swung the vote. Young people, including those too young to have a vote were strongly in favour of staying in Europe.

Votes, Love, Arms & Al Quds

The march by several hundred people, mainly 16-17 year olds, called for a lowering of the voting age to 16. Most of the speakers at the rally in Parliament Square were teenagers.

More pictures at 16-17 Year olds demand the vote.


Jo Cox banner of love – Parliament Sq

Votes, Love, Arms & Al Quds

People were still coming to sign and write tributes on a giant board in Parliament Square to Labour MP Jo Cox, brutally murdered on 16th June on the street in Birstall where she had gone to hold a constituency surgery.

Cox, who had worked for some years at Oxfam GB as head of policy and advocacy had become an MP in 2015 and had founded and chaired the parliamentary group Friends of Syria, campaigning over the Syrian Civil War, and supported Palestinian rights and the BDS campaign. She was one of few MPs who stood up and campaigned for refugees and their rights.

Her murderer, a constituent with far-right white supremacist obsessions, shot her three times before multiple stabbings. He was sentenced to life with a whole-life tariff.

Jo Cox banner of love


Arms dealers out of LT Museum – London Transport Museum, Covent Garden

I stopped briefly outside the London Transport Museum to talk with and photograph campaigners from the London Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) who were holding a picket to demand the museum end its sponsorship by Thales, the worlds 12th largest arms company. Thales supplies missiles, drones and other military products, selling them to repressive regimes around the world including Saudi Arabia, Russia, Colombia, Kazakhstan and the UAE.

More pictures at Arms dealers out of LT Museum.


Al Quds Day March – BBC to US Embassy

Several thousands, mainly Palestinians and Muslims from around the country, as well as other supporters of Palestinian freedom marched from the BBC to a rally at the US Embassy.

The final Friday of every Ramadan was designated Quds (Jerusalem) Day by Ayatollah Khomeini in 1979 as a day when Muslims around the world would demonstrate their solidarity in support of the Palestinians and call for an end to the Israeli occupation of Palestine. The London march takes place on the Sunday following.

A few supporters of Israel tried to protest against the march, holding Israeli flags and shouting at the marchers, but police kept them away.

Some of the marchers came with flags and t-shirts supporting the Lebanese Shia Islamist political party and militant group, Hizbullah (Hezbollah). Since 2019 this entire organisation has been proscribed in the UK, but in 2016 we still followed the EU in making a distinction between it as a political party with MPs in the Lebanese government and as a terrorist group.

Among the marchers were a group of Neturei Karta Orthodox Jews whose religious beliefs reject Zionism and the Israeli state. Their posters say Judaism is ‘G-dly & Compassionate’ while Zionism is ‘G-dless & Merciless’ and that ‘Jews True to their faith will Never recognise ZIONIST occupation’ and other similar statements.

At the US Embassy a large force of police separated their rally from a counter-protest by Sussex Friends of Israel, the Zionist Federation and the Israel Advocacy Movement. They displayed placards demanding ‘Peace Not Hate’ and Israeli flags.

This group reserved its loudest and most angry shouting for the anti-Zionist Neturei Karta Jews who came and stood facing them from a wall in front of the US Embassy.

Much more on My London Diary:

Al Quds Day March
Supporters Stand Up for Israel