Posts Tagged ‘peace’

Al-Bashir & the Sultan of Brunei

Wednesday, April 6th, 2022

Al-Bashir & the Sultan of Brunei – On April 6th 2019 I photographed two protests in London both linked with the brutal excesses of Sharia law, in the Sudan and in Brunei.

Al-Bashir & the Sultan of Brunei

Sudanese for Freedom, Peace and Justice – Sudan Embassy, St James’s

Al-Bashir & the Sultan of Brunei

Sudan became united under Egyptian conquest in the 19th century and then coming under British rule in the 1880s after the British occupied Egypt in the 1880s, though since 1899 its governance was nominally shared by Britain and Egypt. After the 1952 Egyptian revolution Britain was forced to end its shared sovereignty and Sudan became independent in 1956.

Al-Bashir & the Sultan of Brunei

Independence led to a civil war which eventually resulted in the independence of South Sudan in 2011. There was a military coup in 1958, then a return to civilian rule from 1964-9 with another military coup in 1969 and yet another in 1985 that overthrew dictator Jaafar Nimeiri. But in 1989 came the military coup led by Omar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir, who became its dictator under various titles from 1989 until 2019 when the large-scale protests in Sudan which this London protest supported led to him being deposed by the military on 11th April. Later in the year power was transferred to a mixed civilian-military Sovereignty Council.

Al-Bashir & the Sultan of Brunei

Under al-Bashir the country had been run under a severe implementation of Sharia law, with stoning, flogging, hanging and crucifixion. In 2020 Sudan ended the rule under Islamic law and agreed there should be no state religion. It abolished the apostasy law, public flogging and the alcohol ban for non-Muslims, and criminalised female genital mutilation with a punishment of up to 3 years in jail.

The protest was large and high energy, and called for an end to the violent and corrupt Sudanese regime and for president Omar al-Bashir to ‘Just Fall’ and stand trial by the ICC for genocide in Darfur, the Nuba Mountains and South Blue Nile.

Sudanese for Freedom, Peace and Justice

Brunei Sultan gay sex stoning protest, Dorchester Hotel, Park Lane

I arrived rather late at the protest outside the Dorchester Hotel on Park Lane, a short walk away (though I ran much of it) from St James’s to find a rather staid protest taking place against its multi-billionaire Sultan of Brunei who has announced death by stoning as a punishment for gay sex, adultery and blasphemy. The hotel was bought by him in 1985.

Although it was a colourful crowd, with a number of people in rainbow clothing and a few in drag, along with several well-known figures who spoke, including Labour Shadow Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Emily Thornberry MP and Peter Tatchell, the protesters kept outside the hotel yard with police harassing them to keep the road clear despite there not being enough room on the pavements, and to allow cars and taxis to take and collect hotel guests to the main entrance.

It took Class War to liven up proceedings, pushing aside the barriers in front of the hotel entrance and running inside the hotel yard with their Women’s Death Brigade and Lucy Parsons banners, ignoring the attempts of security and police to stop them. They stood on the steps of the hotel entrance, stopping guests entering or leaving and after a short delay many of the other protesters joined them, bringing placards and rainbow flags.

The protesters ignored the hotel staff who told them to leave and the police who came and threatened them with arrest, and were still blocking the entrance when I left 50 minutes later.

Brunei Sultan gay sex stoning protest


FlickrFacebookMy London DiaryHull PhotosLea ValleyParis

London’s Industrial HeritageLondon Photos

All photographs on this page are copyright © Peter Marshall. Contact me to buy prints or licence to reproduce.


Druids Celebrate the Spring Equinox

Sunday, March 20th, 2022

The Spring Equinox in 2022 is apparently at 15:33 today, Sunday, 20 March. While I think we all look forward to Spring, Druids in the UK will be celebrating it with ceremonies in the open air, as they have done for some years. Here are some pictures from the annual celebration by the Druid Order at noon on Tower Hill in 2014.

Druids Celebrate the Spring Equinox

I’ve photographed this ceremony several times over the years, as well as their similar Autumn Equinox ceremony on Primrose Hill, and you can find pictures from other years also on My London Diary. Here is what I wrote about it in 2014, with just a few of the pictures.

Druids celebrate the Spring Equinox

Tower Hill, London. Thu 20 Mar 2014

The Druid Order celebrated the Spring Equinox at noon with a sacred ceremony at Tower Hill, forming a circle in their white robes and celebrating the cycle of nature. They have carried out similar ceremonies for just over a 100 years.

The Druids robed in a hall next to Tower Hill and then processed in single file to the open space, where they formed a circle, with the Head Druid and the banners at the east.

The procession reaches Tower Hill
The long horn is sounded to the east
Is it Peace?

A long horn was carried to the middle of the circle sounded to the four corners of the world and then the sword was held aloft to North South, East and West in turn, pulled loose from its scabbard with the call “Is it Peace?” and on receiving the reply “Peace”, pushed back.

The lady, representing the Earth Goddess Ceridwen then requested permission to enter the circle with her two attendants, and it was granted. They brought a horn containing cider and a plate of seed to the chief druid. The cider was tasted, then carried around the circle with libations being poured onto the earth. The seeds were received and were then distributed around the circle.

The names of companions of the ancient order no longer with us were read out, including that of the artist William Blake and other well-known historical figures. We all observed a minute or two of silence and their was a fairly long address, a message of peace and human understanding.

Druids hold hands and renew their vows

The Druid Order are peace loving and free-thinking and their main aim appears to be to develop themselves through being rather than through intellectual learning. Near to the close of the event, the druids joined hands around the circle and renewed their druid vows. In a final act of the ceremony, four druids came to the centre of the circle and raised the hands in turn to the four points of the compass to proclaim peace.

Peace to the four points of the compass

Everyone present was thanked for coming and an invitation issued to those who want to find out more about the order to attend their regular public meetings. The druids then left the circle in order through a gate made by two of their number and filed away.

You can see many more pictures of the 2014 celebration on My London Diary at Druids celebrate the Spring Equinox.


FlickrFacebookMy London DiaryHull PhotosLea ValleyParis

London’s Industrial HeritageLondon Photos

All photographs on this page are copyright © Peter Marshall. Contact me to buy prints or licence to reproduce.


Valentine’s Day 2015 – Reclaim Love and Release Shaker

Monday, February 14th, 2022

Valentine’s Day 2015 – Reclaim Love and Release Shaker – two events I photographed on St Valentine’s Day, February 14th 2015.


Venus CuMara Reclaim Love 13 at Eros

I’ve photographed the Valentine street party at Piccadilly Circus most years, though I missed the first one, but it seldom takes place actually on the 14th February, as since the event began in (I think 2003) there have been only two years where that has been a Saturday – 2009 and 2015.

A 2010 article in ‘Resurgence’ described the intentions of the event well:

Valentine’s Day, which has its origins as far back as the Middle Ages, is traditionally a day where people show their affection by sending each other handwritten ‘love notes’. But again, this simple affirmation has been hijacked by corporations to the point where cards, chocolates, jewellery – even weekend breaks – are now expected.

But not everybody wants to participate in this orgy of consumerism. Now in its seventh year, Reclaim Love is a global movement away from celebrating Valentine’s Day with flowers and chocolates towards a day of celebrating Love itself. All around the world people are taking to the streets, parks or organised venues to link hearts and minds to send a warm message of love, unity and joy out into the world

Resurgence magazine
Venus Cumara

The event was conceived and coordinated by Irish poet Venus CuMara, and spread to a number of cities around the world, where at 3pm UTC also join hands in a large circle and recite together the mantra ‘May all the beings in all the world be happy and at peace’, an English translation of an ancient Sanskrit prayer.

Before and after this there is a great deal of celebration, with drumming, dancing and various free gifts of food and often t-shirts bearing the mantra. I have a couple of these, though have to admit I have seldom worn them, though I did give one away to one of my sons.

It wasn’t possible to hold a public gathering in 2021, but Venus asked for people to meditate at 3.30pm and hosted a livestream. I missed the event in 2020 as I was busy elsewhere, but it was very small, probably because of the abysmal weather.

2018

The last time I photographed Reclaim Love was in 2019, when we were all delighted to see Venus who despite suffering from cancer which is spreading through her body, was in great spirits and able to speak about her message of love. She had missed the previous year’s event as she was in Indonesia being treated for her cancer.

Venus in 2019

Venus asked people to go to Piccadilly Circus for Reclaim Love on 12 Feb 2022 in a video on the Facebook page, though this was only posted the previous day, and she apologised for not being able to be there in person. I went along to see if anything was happening a little after 3pm and found nothing, waited a few minutes and then left as I had another event to attend. Later I saw a photograph of around five people who were there at 3.33pm, the ‘circle’ time. Perhaps next year there will be more.

Venus CuMara Reclaim Love 13 at Eros


Valentine Day – 13 years for Shaker Aamer

Earlier in the day I’d walked with protesters from Parliament Square to a rally opposite Downing St calling for the urgent release of London resident Shaker Aamer from Guantanamo, where he arrived has been held and regularly abused for 13 years without charge or trial.

He arrived at Guantanamo on the 14th February 2002, and there has been subjected to several hundred incidents of beating and torture, including one notorious occasion in June 2006 where he was taken to a special secret interrogation site; three men who were taken with him for similar treatment that day died from asphyxiation, but he survived similar treatment.

Long cleared for release he continued to be held, probably because his evidence would be embarrassing both for the US and UK authorities. He has a British wife and resident status, and a campaign led to the UK government eventually making requests for him to be freed after he was cleared for release in 2007 and again in 2009. Despite this they UK had also spent over a quarter of a million pounds in legal fees to prevent his legal team gaining access to evidence to prove his innocence.

He was eventually released at the end of October 2015.

Valentine Day – 13 years for Shaker Aamer


FlickrFacebookMy London DiaryHull PhotosLea ValleyParis

London’s Industrial HeritageLondon Photos

All photographs on this page are copyright © Peter Marshall. Contact me to buy prints or licence to reproduce.


Armistice Day – November 11th

Thursday, November 11th, 2021

Poppies in Trafalgar Square. 11 Nov 2006

When I was young everything still stopped for two minutes at 11am on Armistice Day although the main remembrance events had been moved to Remembrance Sunday in 1939 so as not to interfere with the war effort. But traffic still pulled into the side of the road here. In France the Armistice de la Première Guerre mondiale is still a national holiday.

Paris lle, 11 Nov 2008

I’m not a pacifist, but I am firmly opposed to most wars, both historic and current. The First World War was clearly a disaster that should not have happened, a family quarrel that should not have resulted in such incredible suffering and loss of life largely with people killing others who they had far more in common with than with those who sent them into battle.

Clearly US war in Vietnam (and earlier the French in Indochina) was wrong as was the invasion of Iraq. And equally clearly we as a nation should not be wasting money on pointless nuclear weapons and selling arms to promote wars around the world such as that in Yemen. And so on.

Remembering Animals Killed in War, Park Lane, 11 Nov 2006

But while it seems clear that America should not have been fighting in Vietnam, it seems clear that the Vietnamese had to fight against them, just as it seems clear that Cubans were justified in fighting against Batista and US imperialism – and the same applies to other struggles against colonialism and for national liberation.

School Students Against the War, Oxford St, 11 Nov 2006

I’ve recently re-read George Orwell’s Homage to Catalonia and although Stalinists contest his view of events it remains powerful both as a personal account of the war in Spain and makes clear the main reasons why the democratically elected government was defeated by the fascists – and Stalinist Russia’s contribution along with fascist Italy and Nazi Germany to that defeat, which made a wider war inevitable. If you’ve not read it, this is a book I highly recommend – and there is an excellent article ‘Orwell and the Spanish Revolution‘ by John Newsinger in International Socialism Journal which explains Orwell’s position and deals with some of his detractors.

Staines, Nov 11 2007

I grew up in the years following the Second World War and had my share as a wolf cub and boy scout of standing in short trousers with the bitter November wind blowing up them at Remembrance Sunday parades at local war memorials. Of course we should remember those who died, but not in the kind of militaristic and often jingoistic fashion that most or all such events have in England. The best way to honour their sacrifice is surely to work for peace. In Germany they have a day as a peace celebration.

Families of Servicemen Killed in Iraq, Cenotaph, Whitehall. 11 Nov, 2006

After briefly photographing the event at the Mairie in the 11th arrondissement – I’d rushed out from a café when I saw the event happening – we strolled the short distance to the Cimetière du Père-Lachaise.

Père-Lachaise, Paris lle, 11 Nov 2008

FlickrFacebookMy London DiaryHull PhotosLea ValleyParis

London’s Industrial HeritageLondon Photos

All photographs on this page are copyright © Peter Marshall. Contact me to buy prints or licence to reproduce.


Wool Against Weapons

Monday, August 9th, 2021

The seven-mile long scarf was joined up at 1pm

On Saturday 9th August 2014 I took a bike ride outside London, putting my bike on the train to Reading, from where I cycled west to Burghfield and on to Aldermaston. It was Nagasaki Day, remembering August 9th 1945, when the US exploded an atomic bomb at the city of Nagasaki, killing around 80,000 people, and CND were holding an unusual protest, stretching out a seven mile long knitted scarf between the two factories where Britain’s atomic war heads are made. 69 years after the bomb was dropped, the UK government was about to vote on huge spending on a new nuclear weapons system, and CND were calling for Trident and its replacement to be scrapped.

‘Drop Stitches Not Bombs’ at the Burghfield end of the 7-mile scarf

I’d taken my bike, both to get to Burghfield from Reading but also so that I could cycle along the whole seven mile length of the protest and photograph the scarf along the way. A bike was ideal for this, as I could easily cover the whole distance and unlike a car you can jump off anywhere and take pictures. But for the moment when all the lengths of wool were joined up, I jumped off my bike and ran along the first section of the scarf, taking picture after picture.

Joining up the lengths of scarf

Here’s some of what I wrote in my 2014 post Wool Against Weapons along with a few of the pictures I took along the road.

”Groups from all over the country and some from France brought long rolled up lengths of knitted and crocheted scarves, made in individual sections and joined together. A lot of planning was needed to make sure that there were enough rolls and they were taken to the right places to be unrolled and joined together, but it all worked on the day.”

One of many banners on the fence around AWE Aldermaston

“The project involved a very large number of people, many of whom had taken no active part in protests against nuclear weapons before, but who are convinced that we should not waste public money on the Trident replacement – money that could be put to something useful like keeping our NHS running.”

‘NHS Not Trident’

“I cycled to Burghfield from Reading, and arrived just over two and a half hours before the whole scarf was scheduled to be joined up at 1pm. After taking some pictures around the end of the scarf there, I got back on my bike and cycled slowly along the route of the scarf to Aldermaston, stopping at all of the ‘mile points’ which were the bases for the various regional groups (and a ‘faith’ group) and also where people were busy laying out the rolls of scarf and joining them up and taking photographs. It took me around an hour and a quarter to get to the Aldermaston end of the scarf at the fence around the AWE there.”

Protesters at Burghfield

“I made it back to Burghfield – with just a few stops for more pictures – in half an hour. It helped that there is quite a long downhill section and the wind was behind me, but I wanted to be sure to be back well before the planned ‘linking time’ of 1pm.”

At side roads the scarf could be lifted to allow cars through.

“I took pictures at Burghfield of the linking when people rang bells at 1pm, then started running along the scarf, stopping to photograph the people holding it up. After almost a mile I gave up and returned back to Burghfield where a rally was to start at 1.30pm.”

‘PAIX’

More pictures on My London Diary at Wool Against Weapons.


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.