Posts Tagged ‘procession’

Vaisakhi, Uganda & Freedom Umbrella – 2011

Tuesday, April 9th, 2024

Vaisakhi, Uganda & Freedom Umbrella: On Saturday 9th April 2011 After visiting Woolwich to photograph the Vaisakhi celebrations I came back into central London to photograph Ugandans and Kurds protesting for freedom and democracy.


Vaisakhi Celebrations in Woolwich

Vaisakhi, Uganda & Freedom Umbrella

For some years I had been documenting religious festivals in and around London and had photographed a number of Sikh Gurdwaras at their Vaisakhi festivals.

Vaisakhi, Uganda & Freedom Umbrella

On Saturday 9th April 2011 I went to the Ramgarhia Association Gurdwara in Mason’s Hill Woolwich. The Ramgarhia are a Sikh community who originally came from the close to Amritsar in the Punjab and traditionally they were carpenters, blacksmiths and other artisan workers but were renowned for their military prowess and the victories of the armies.

Vaisakhi, Uganda & Freedom Umbrella

When I turned up I was warmly welcomed and taken to the Langar hall where I enjoyed some of the free vegetarian food on offer to all, prepared and served by members of the congregation who volunteer their services as a part of their religious practice and was able to talk with people there and wander around taking photographs.

Vaisakhi, Uganda & Freedom Umbrella

The Gurdwara was established in 1970 in an existing landmark building, the Victorian Freemasons Hall, just over the Woolwich border in Plumstead on a street which was then called Mount Pleasant.

The Freemason’s Hall was where the Royal Arsenal Football Club held its annual meetings and dinners, and on 16th May 1891 that the Annual General Meeting of the Royal Arsenal Football Club (earlier known as Dial Square) the committee announced it had decided two weeks earlier to turn professional and had thus resigned from the amateur Kent and London Associations.

In 1913, the club moved across the river to a new stadium at Highbury, where it continued to play until 2006, when it moved the short distance to its new Emirates stadium. Apparently it is doing quite well at the moment.

The Vaisakhi festival, which takes place on April 14 each year marks the formation of the Khalsa by Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth Sikh Guru, in 1699. You can read more about this and the Vaisakhi Nagar Kirtan procession which is lead by five Khalsa – baptised Sikhs – dressed in saffron robes and turbans and carrying swords in the account I wrote on My London Diary, Vaisakhi Celebrations in Woolwich, as well as in the posts on other Vaisakhi processions on that site.

On My London Diary I wrote in more detail about the origins of Vaisakhi and the 10th Sikh Guru who gave Sikhism its modern form with its symbols and the eternal guru, the Guru Granth Sahib, the holy religious scripture being reverently carried out to the procession in th picture above.

Unfortunately the start of the procession was delayed and although I had photographed the preparations for it I had to run to catch a train before the actual start of the colourful procession, with its joyful singing of Sikh hymns, martial arts demonstrations and Dhol drumming through the town, expected to take several hours.

More at Vaisakhi Celebrations in Woolwich.


Ugandans Demand Democracy – Uganda House, Trafalgar Square

Ugandans had come to protest outside Uganda House in Trafalgar Square, calling for new free and fair elections after the rigged Parliamentary and Presidential elections in February.

The election on 18 Feb had resulted in the re-election of the sitting president Yoweri Museveni, in power for 25 years, apparently getting 68% of the vote.

But the EU Election Observation Mission which had been in Uganda for the vote reported the election, with a turnout of only 59% had been “marred by avoidable administrative and logistical failures which led to an unacceptable number of Ugandan citizens being disenfranchised” and that Museveni had used his presidential power to “compromise severely the level playing filed between the competing candidates and political parties.”

As well as the state owned Uganda Broadcasting Corporation giving much more coverage to the ruling NRM party, there had been extenisve human rights abuses with the police failing to take action against groups attacking opposition political meetings, intimidation and assaults on journalists and the cancellation of broadcasts.

Ugandans Demand Democracy


Freedom Umbrella Kurds March Through London – Old Marylebone Rd – Downing St

Freedom Umbrella (Chatri Azadi), a coalition of British-based Kurdish organisations and supporters, had organised a demonstration in front of the offices of the Kurdistan Regional Government in Old Marylebone Road followed by a march to a rally opposite Downing St.

They called for support of the people’s uprising for freedom and social justice in the autonomous region of Iraqi Kurdistan which had begun on 17th February but had hardly been noticed by UK media.

Two Kurdish militia groups dominate Iraqi Kurdistan and remain in power. On 19th April their security forces began a more organised violent crackdown on the protests which brought them to an end.

I met the protesters as the march neared Trafalgar Square and photographed their rally opposite Downing Street.

More pictures Freedom Umbrella Kurds March In London.


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October Plenty & The Martydom of Ali – 2005

Monday, October 23rd, 2023

October Plenty & The Martydom of Ali: In 2005 much of my photography was of cultural and religious events as well as political protests on the streets of London. And on Sunday 23rd October I photographed a harvest festival event on the South Bank before going to Marble Arch to photograph a Muslim procession. The text here is revised from my 2005 accounts on the October 2005 page of My London Diary and some picture captions.


October Plenty: The Lions Part – Globe Theatre & Bankside

October Plenty & The Martydom of Ali

The Lions Part Is a group of actors who came together in the Original Shakespeare Company But now pursue independent professional careers in theatre and TV etc. They now work together on various projects including three regular celebrations on Bankside in co-operation with the Globe Theatre.

October Plenty & The Martydom of Ali

One of these is October Plenty, loosely based on traditional english harvest festivities and particularly celebrating the apple and grain harvest.

October Plenty & The Martydom of Ali

Characters in the procession include the Green Man (or Berry Man), the Hobby Horse and a large Corn Queen stuffed with fruit and veg, not to mention a violin-playing Dancing Bear with other musicians and more characters who take part in several plays and performances in various locations.

October Plenty & The Martydom of Ali

The day started in front of the Globe Theatre with the bear, then the procession came and led us into the Globe Theatre, where they gave a short performance before we left to go through the streets to Borough Market where further plays and games were scheduled. I decided it was time for lunch and to go to another event and left at this point.

more pictures


The Martydom Of Ali, Hub-E-Ali – Marble Arch

Hub-E-Ali organise an annual mourning program in London to mark the Martydom Of Ali, the cousin of the Prophet Muhammad and the first person to embrace Islam, who was martyred in 660CE in Kufa, Iraq.

Ali was struck by a poisoned sword while leading dawn prayers in the mosque, and died two days later. The event and its consequences continue to divide Muslims down to the present day.

Many (and not only Muslims) have regarded Ali as the model of a just Islamic ruler, working to establish peace, justice and morality. The procession both marks the killing of Ali and also looks forward to the day when a descendant of the prophet Muhammad will return to be the saviour of the world.

It also celebrates the duty of the followers of Islam to speak out against oppression and immorality, and to live pious lives in solidarity with the oppressed.

To show their sorrow, those taking part in the mourning parade (Jaloos) recite eulogies about Ali and beat their breasts (Seena Zani.) A ceremonial coffin (Taboot) is carried as a part of the procession, along with symbolic flags. There was also a long session of recitations before the procession.

more pictures

More from October 2005


Autumn Equinox & Druids

Friday, September 22nd, 2023

Autumn Equinox & Druids: In 2023 the Autumn Equinox is at 6.50am Greenwich Mean Time on 23rd September (7.50am British Summer Time.) The exact timing timing is when the sun’s path crosses the Equator and it happens at slightly different time each year between the 21st and 24th of September, though mainly on the 22nd or 23rd.

Autumn Equinox & Druids

In 2009 the Equinox was at 10.19pm BST on September 22nd, and nine hours earlier I was photographing the Druid Order celebrating the event with their annual ceremony at Primrose Hill in London.

Autumn Equinox & Druids

I’ve photographed the Druid Order on a number of occasions both at Primrose Hill and also for the Spring Solstice at Tower Hill in March. I think 2009 was my first visit to the autumn ceremony and probably my best attempt to cover it as a whole, though I did take one or two striking images in a later year.

Autumn Equinox & Druids

The ceremony follows closely the pattern laid out possibly a hundred years ago. The Druid Order dates from around 1909 or 1912, though it claims to be a continuation of much older druidry. You can read more about its founder in a lecture by Dr Adam Stout.

Autumn Equinox & Druids

All we know about the ancient druids who worshipped in these islands for thousands of years before the Romans came is from their monumental structures such as Stonehenge and the brief and probably rather biased comments of Roman historians which described them as wise but bloodthirsty and given to human sacrifice, staining the altars of Angelsey with blood.

As I commented on My London Diary, “Fortunately today the members of The Druid Order are peace loving. free-thinking and rather photogenic in their white robes, and their main aim is to develop themselves through being rather than through intellectual learning.”

My post on My London Diary describes the Alban Elued (Autumn Equinox) ceremony in some detail both through the text and my photographs, and I won’t repeat myself here. You can read various versions of the ceremony on-line (also called Alban Elfed) and also watch a 49 minute video on the Druid Order website which also has a reflection on the Autumn Equinox.

Before the ceremony I also photographed a memorial plaque to Iolo Morganwg (1747-1826) unveiled in June 2009 at the top of the hill which had been unveiled earlier in the year, marking the site of the first meeting of the Gorsedd of the Bards of the Isle of Britain on Midsummer’s day 1792.

The start of the 18th century saw a revival of interest in druidry by people including Irish freethinker and philosopher John Toland (1670-1722). Iolo Morganwg (1747-1826) invented descriptions of Druid ceremonies and added these, together with some of his poems, into the translations he made of medieval Welsh manuscripts. He also introduced the ‘Awen’ symbol with its three ‘rays’ still used by the Druid Order.

The Druid Order are not the only druids who celebrate the Autumn Equinox on Primrose Hill. A little further west down the hill in a small hawthorn grove you may see the celebration of a smaller group of the Loose Association of Druids of Primrose Hill.

More at Autumn Equinox: Druids at Primrose Hill.


Lewisham, Secular Europe & Malta Day – 2013

Thursday, September 14th, 2023

Lewisham, Secular Europe & Malta Day – Saturday 14th September 2013 was a very mixed day for me, beginning with a victory celebration by hospital campaigners in Lewisham, then moving to Westminster for a protest celebrating secularism in Whitehall before finally photographing a highly religious Malta Day celebration at Westminster Cathedral.


Lewisham Hospital Victory Parade

Lewisham, Secular Europe & Malta Day

Lewisham Hospital is a highly successful and well run hospital serving a large area of South London, and when the government planned to close large areas of its services there was a huge public outcry, with large marches to keep it open, as closure would have severely damaged the health service in the area.

Lewisham, Secular Europe & Malta Day

The planned closure was not in response to any failure by Lewisham; it’s sole purpose was to allow the NHS to continue to make massive PFI repayments due from the building of other London hospitals through contracts that were badly negotiated when interest rates were high and have already delivered huge profits to the lenders.

Lewisham, Secular Europe & Malta Day

As well as a hugely successful public campaign, both Lewisham Council and the Save Lewisham Hospital campaign went separately to the High Court for Judicial Review of the decision by Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, and both were successful.

Lewisham, Secular Europe & Malta Day

The immediate response of the Health Secretary was to announce he would appeal the two decisions, and the campaign had launched a petition calling on him to accept the defeat gracefully and not waste any further time or taxpayers money over the appeal. Given the clear judgement of the court any appeal seemed unlikely to succeed.

The government also intend to change the law to make it much more difficult for people to contest their decisions in the courts after being defeated on this and other cases where they have failed to give proper consideration to policies. But having a government which seems to think ‘sod the law, we’re going to do as we like‘ doesn’t seem at all healthy for democracy.

The Victory Parade was rather smaller than the earlier protests which had brought thousands out onto the streets of Lewisham, with perhaps a little fewer than five hundred people, though more turned up to take part in the celebration event at the end of the parade in Ladywell Fields. But perhaps marching now seemed less important, and the poor weather will have put some off.

At the front of the parade was a Lewisham Council dustcart with large posters on it and following it were marchers with a small street band. Among those marching were two nurses wearing their uniforms from the Olympic opening ceremony, some ‘Olympic’ drummers and others in medical uniforms.

More pictures on My London Diary at Lewisham Hospital Victory Parade.


Secular Europe Protest – Downing St

Around a hundred people had marched from Temple to a rally opposite Downing Street for the 6th annual Secular Europe Campaign protest celebrating secularism and demanding an end to religious discrimination and indoctrination.

As well as the protest in London there was also a similar protest taking place in Krakow, Poland, a country where politics are still very much dominated by the Catholic Church.

Things are rather different in the UK, but we still have the anomaly of 26 Church of England bishops sitting in the House of Lords, reflected in some of the campaigners wearing paper versions of a Bishop’s mitre with the number 26 on the front.

We obviously need reform of the House of Lords, but the bishops seem to me a minor issue and are among the more sensible and progressive members of the house. There are still 92 hereditary peers, as well as many more wholly undeserved political appointees, particularly those given a seat as thanks for their political and other services to retiring Prime Ministers. The recent list by Boris Johnson included some that clearly bring our politics into disrepute, and if the list by Liz Truss is approved following her disastrous fifty days in office, our politics will clearly have become a farce.

The campaigners also called for an end to religious indoctrination in schools, though I was pleased to hear one speaker make clear that not all church or religious schools were guilty of this, with many providing a good education that encouraged their pupils to think for themselves.

Others complained about the lack of secular speakers on Radio 4’s ‘Thought for the Day’, and though I think the selection has widened a little in recent years there is certainly still room for a wider choice of viewpoints. And they still have some who make me cringe every time they appear.

Some of the other things that concern the secular movement are religious discrimination against women and gays, abuse of children by the clergy, the teaching of creationism in schools, the anti-abortion lobby and misinformation about contraception and AIDs, religious male circumcision and female genital mutilation, false accusations about witchcraft, Sharia law, forced marriages and the right to die with dignity. And of course many of these concerns are shared with many religious people.

More at Secular Europe Protest.


Malta Day Procession – Westminster Cathedral

Finally I walked to Westminster Cathedral where a Mass was taking place for Malta Day, attended by the Lord Mayor of Westminster, Councillor Sarah Richardson, taking pictures as people came out from the church for the procession which was to follow.

Malta Day, actually 8th September, is a public holiday in Malta, the Feast of Our Lady Of Victories or Victory Day. Celebrations in villages there mark the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, commemorated in statues of ‘il-Bambina’, one of which was carried in the procession.

The day also celebrates the Victory of the Knights of St John of Malta against the Turks in 1565, a victory over the French in 1800 and the surrender of Italy, then occupying Malta, in 1943.

Fire-crackers were set off in the plaza and a band played before the procession finally set off down Victoria Street.

As well as the statue of ‘il-Bambina’, there were also seeral large and colourful banners, men in the robes of the Knights of Malta, and girls in huge black hooded cloaks (Faldetta or Ghonella), which seemed a little sinister to me. For various personal reasons although I’ve never been there I’ve long regarded Malta as an epitome of religious intolerance.

More pictures at Malta Day Procession.


Arms Fair, Chile & Syria – 2013

Monday, September 11th, 2023

Arms Fair, Chile & Syria – On Wednesday 11th September 2013 protests were continuing against the DSEi Arms Fair, with East London Against Arms Fair floating a wreath on the dock in Front of the ExCel Centre and protesters still occupying a camp at the East Gate. But it was also the 40th anniversary of the US backed coup in Chile, rather now overshadowed by later the 9/11 events, and Stop The War protested at the US Embassy against any military intervention in Syria.


Wreath for Victims of London Arms Fair – Royal Victoria Dock

Arms Fair, Chile & Syria

Protesters met at Royal Victoria Station for a procession around the Royal Victoria Dock organised by East London Against Arms Fair (ELAAF) to commemorate all those who will be killed by the weapons being sold at the DSEi arms fair taking place in the ExCel Centre on the dock, as well as those sold there at previous DSEi arms fairs.

Arms Fair, Chile & Syria

The procession walked around the dockside led by a woman dressed in black carrying a white floral wreath with the message ‘REMEMBER VICTIMS OF THE ARMS TRADE.’

Arms Fair, Chile & Syria

Following here people marched behind the ELAAF banner with its dove of peace. Also there to record the procession were a class from the local primary school, many of whom took photographs on their tablets and interviewed some of those taking part.

Arms Fair, Chile & Syria

As well as ELAAF members there were also two Buddhist monks and some of the activists who have been occupying the roundabout at the East gate of the Arms Fair at ExCel since Sunday.

When the procession neared the end of the dockside path opposite the ExCel Centre it stopped and after a song against the arms fair the wreath was placed on the water in the dock.

As it floated away they held a two minute silence in memory of those killed by the arms from deals made at the previous fairs and those who will die from the weapons being sold at this DSEi fair. The event ended with another anti-war song, after which everyone dispersed.

More pictures on My London Diary at Wreath for Victims of London Arms Fair.


Occupation at DSEi Arms Fair Continues – Eastern Gateway Roundabout

Protesters were still occupying the roundabout at the eastern gate of the DSEi arms fair in East London, with around a dozen sleeping there most nights, and more visiting during the day.

Some protesters had been arrested earlier in the day after blocking the entrance to the arms fair for a short time.

While I was there the protesters were handing out leaflets to the few pedestrians who left by the eastern gate, and showing posters and banners to vehicles, including several coaches that were taking visitors from the ExCel centre.

More pictures at Occupation at DSEi Arms Fair Continues.


9/11 Protest at US Embassy – US Embassy, Grosvenor Square

The date 9/11, though confusing for those of us who put day and month in a more logical order was etched into our memories in 2001. For those who launched the attacks it was probably the anniversary of the defeat of the armies of Islam at Vienna in 1643.

But in terms of rather more recent American history, September 11th 2013 was the 40th anniversary of the CIA-backed military coup in which the Chilean military, led by General Augusto Pinochet, seized power from the democratically elected government and murdered Chile’s President Salvador Allende to set up a US-backed military dictatorship.

It was the Chilean anniversary that brought protesters to the US Embassy to demand that the US should not attack Syria, though the embassy flag was at half-mast for the 2001 twin towers attack.

More pictures at 9/11 Protest at US Embassy.


Notting Hill Carnival 2006

Monday, August 28th, 2023

Notting Hill Carnival 2006: On Monday 28th Aug 2006 I went to photograph Notting Hill Carnival, working with both black and white film and digital colour. In most of my carnival pictures I’ve concentrated on the people attending the event rather than the costumes and I did so on this occasion with the black and white, but for the colour I decided to mainly photograph those taking part in the carnival as the pictures here show.

Notting Hill Carnival 2006

Rather unusually my August 2006 page only starts on Friday 25th, when I went to Greenhithe & Swanscombe Marsh. I’d been away from London most of the month, holidaying with friends in Kent, visiting Paris and staying with family in Beeston and decided it wasn’t appropriate to post pictures from these locations on My London Diary.

Notting Hill Carnival 2006

In 2006 I went on both Sunday 17th, the Children’s Day and the main carnival event on the Monday, but the pictures here are all from the Monday. You can see those from Children’s Day on a link from the August Page of My London Diary.

Notting Hill Carnival 2006

I’ve always had a fairly elastic definition of London, and it stretched some way out along the River Thames both upstream and down, and also taking in the London Loop, a section of which I walked with family the following day.

Notting Hill Carnival 2006

Sunday had been a busy day too. Notting Hill only really gets going after lunch, so I had time to go to East Ham in the morning for the Sri Mahalakshmi Temple Chariot Festival and then call in at Bromley-by-Bow and walk to Stratford and photograph again the Bow Back Rivers before going to Children’s Day.

So I think I was probably fairly tired by the time Monday came around, having done rather a lot of cycling and walking over the past three days, as well as taking a great many pictures.

As I pointed out, it was “two years on from when I last photographed the event.” The previous year I had “tried to go, dragging myself to the station with a knee injury, but the pain was too much to continue. This year my knee held out, though I was glad to sink into a seat on the Underground at Latimer Road at the end of the day.

I also wrote “when I’ll get round to processing the film is anyone’s guess” and the answer was not for a very long time – and then I sent it away for processing rather than do it myself. By 2006 I had almost completely committed to digital for its many advantages and this was one of my final flings with film. The “more pictures soon” with which the piece ends was an aspiration never fulfilled online and I’ve yet to print any of the black and white pictures.

Perhaps the reason for this – and why I probably won’t get to Carnival this afternoon – is “because I’m getting older … I didn’t get the same buzz from this year’s event as in previous years, though most of the same things seemed to be around. perhaps there lies the problem; most of them did seem to be the same.”

But Notting Hill Carnival is still one of London’s great spectacles – and a great fashion show on the street. If you’ve never been it’s very much worth attending.

More pictures on My London Diary.



Our Lady of Mount Carmel

Sunday, July 16th, 2023

If you go to the web site of St. Peter’s Italian Church in Clerkenwell today you will find the programme for this year’s Procession in Honour of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, which has been taking place there since 1883. It will probably be taken down soon after the event, and at some time be replaced by the programme for next years event on Sunday 21st July 2024.

Our Lady of Mount Carmel

Theis year it takes place this afternoon, 16th July 2023, and the programme has some photographs from previous years, along with a map of the area showing the location of the church on Clerkenwell Road, roughly opposite Hatton Garden, the route of the march, this year going down Leather Lane and across Greville Street to Return up Hatton Garden, and the location of the Sagra in Warner Street. There is also a long list of the 38 groups in the order of the procession, the final one following Our Lady of Mount Carmel being the crowd of Parishioners.

Our Lady of Mount Carmel

Of course if you go there you will be able to pick up a printed copy. It’s best to arrive in plenty of time to enjoy an ice-cream, snack or plastic cup of wine or two at the Sagra before the procession begins at 3.30pm – and you can go back there again after the procession. It’s an event where everyone is welcome and there are no tickets or booking required.

Our Lady of Mount Carmel

The pavement on Clerkenwell Road gets very crowded so unless you are tall you will want to get there at least a few minutes before the start to find a good place to stand, though once the end of the procession has gone past you can walk to see it coming back to the church.

Our Lady of Mount Carmel

Many also go into the church well before the procession and even if you don’t wish to pray it is worth a visit. According to the web site it has been described as “one of the most beautiful churches in London“. When built in 1863 its “Irish architect John Miller Bryson worked from plans drawn by Francesco Gualandi of Bologna, modelled on the Basilica of San Crisogno in Rome.” And while it may not be entirely to my taste it is certainly remarkable.

Our Lady of Mount Carmel

As too is the procession, with its floats on lorries and walking groups in costumes related to the life of Jesus , the first communicants, and various groups and associations, some carrying the heavy statues from the church decorated for the occasion.

Our Lady of Mount Carmel

Our Lady of Mount Carmel is one of the titles of the Virgin Mary, who was adopted as the patroness of the Carmelite Order which was begun by hermits on Mt Carmel in Palestine around the end of the 12th century. July 16 became the liturgical feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel and the procession takes place on the closest Sunday – and this year, as in 2017, it is on the actual saint’s day.

Our Lady of Mount Carmel

The pictures here are all from Sunday 16th July 2017 – and there are many more on My London Diary at Processione della Madonna del Carmine as well as more from other years.

You can also see the pictures I made the first year I went to the festival, in 1992, in an album on Flickr with 50 black and white and 19 colour pictures. In some ways I think this remains the best set of images I’ve made of the event over the years.


Nicaragua, Votes for Women & Al Quds

Saturday, June 10th, 2023

Nicaragua, Votes for Women & Al Quds – Events in London on Sunday 10th June 2018


End Government Killings in Nicaragua – Trafalgar Square

Nicaragua, Votes for Women & Al Quds

Nicaraguans protested in Trafalgar Square against the violence in their country where since the 19th of April police had killed over 100 protesters and a injured more than 600, and many have been unjustly detained, tortured and raped.

Nicaragua, Votes for Women & Al Quds

President Daniel Ortega first came to power during the Nicaraguan Revolution as a leader of the Sandinista National Liberation Front which ousted the US-supported Samoza dictatorship, becoming leader of the ruling junta which replaced them in 1984 and getting a large majority in the country’s first free and fair presidential election in 1985. His government then implemented a number of leftist policies despite widespread campaigns against him by the US who supported rebel forces and imposed a full trade embargo on the country, even mining its ports.

Nicaragua, Votes for Women & Al Quds

Massive US interference in the 1990 Nicaraguan general election led to his surprise defeat and he also stood and lost in 2001, but was returned to power following the 2006 elections, though on a much lower vote than in 1985 against a very split opposition.

Nicaragua, Votes for Women & Al Quds

Since coming to power in 2007, Ortega has abandoned most of his leftist principles, becoming increasingly dictatorial and alienating many of his earlier supporters. Popular protests which began in 2018 against his social security reforms which increased taxes and reduced benefits were violently repressed and further measures have included closing down newspapers, universities and NGOs. Leaders of the political opposition including some former colleagues were jailed for the 2021 election.

This repression has led to many fleeing the country, particularly to neighbouring Costa Rica where over 30,000 Nicaraguans have claimed asylum. Ortega remains in power, with his wife Rosario Murillo as Vice President since 2017.

End government killings in Nicaragua


100 years of Votes for Women

Women marched through London in three strands wearing head scarves in one of the purple, white and green suffragette colours to celebrate a hundred years since the 1918 act gave wealthier older women the vote.

The 1918 Act brought the vote to all men over 21, as well as those like my father over18 serving in the armed forces, but women had to be both over 30 and meet a property requirement. It was another ten years before my mother and other women could vote on the same terms as men with the Representation of the People Act 1928.

Under the 1918 Act, “Women over 30 years old received the vote, but only if they were registered property occupiers (or married to a registered property occupier) of land or premises with a rateable value greater than £5 or of a dwelling-house and not subject to any legal incapacity, or were graduates voting in a university constituency.”

Around 8.4 million women in the UK got the vote in 1918, but there were still around 5 million of women over 21 without a vote – and there were still around 7% of the population, mainly male middle-class university graduates who had an extra vote either in university constituencies or in the constituency where they owned business premises.

Sadly when my mother did get the vote she used it to support the Conservative Party, displaying their poster in our front window at every election. My father, who kept quiet about his politics to avoid conflict at home, went into the polling station every time to cancel out her vote with one for Labour.

Many more pictures at 100 years of Votes for Women.


Al Quds Day Protests – Saudi embassy, Mayfair

A large crowd squashed into barriers on the street in front of the Saudi Arabian embassy for a rally in support of the oppressed people of Palestine and others around the world.

The event, organised by the Justice for Palestine Committee, was supported by the Islamic Human Rights Commission and a wide range of pro-Palestinian organisations, and opposed by the Zionist Federation and some right wing hooligans, who were stopped from attacking the peaceful event by a large police presence in the area.

The official Zionist Federation protest which was perhaps a little smaller than in some previous years kept behind the barriers provided for them a short distance from the Palestinian protest, and the two groups shouted insults at each other.

There were also a number of well-known Zionist protesters along with some right-wing football supporters active in the EDL and other racist organisations wandering the streets of Mayfair. Police made an effort to keep them away from the Palestine protest, and at one point this involved some fairly forceful policing as the thugs were taken away. Not all of the right-wing are thugs, and later when I went home I was pleased to meet a man who knew me and walked with me to make sure I didn’t get troubled by any of the others still around.

As a colleague remarked to me, there may well have been more Jews taking part in the pro-Palestine rally than opposing it, as the Al Quds day event was supported by several groups and numerous individuals from the Jewish left as well as the ultra-orthodox Neturei Karta, who as always attracted a great deal of venomous anti-Semitic shouting from the Zionists.

Celebrated in many countries, Al Quds Day, established by the Islamic Republic of Iran in 1979, has been marked in London for over 30 years.

This year’s event was a gesture of defiance to the demonisation campaign and the ongoing murders by Israeli troops of innocent Palestinian protestors in the Gaza Strip commemorating 70 years since Israel was formed on expropriated Palestinian land.

More about the protest and many more pictures on My London Diary:
Al Quds (Jerusalem) Day
Zionists protest against AlQuds Day


Bengali New Year and Levellers 2013

Friday, May 12th, 2023

Bengali New Year and Levellers: I spent Sunday 12th May in East London, beginning at Weavers Fields in Bethnal Green for the Boishakhi Mela procession and then moving on to Wapping where a plaque was being unveiled at the burial place of Leveller Thomas Rainsborough. On my way there I was passed by a large group of motorcyclists out for a ride.


Boishakhi Mela Procession – Bethnal Green

Bengali New Year and Levellers 2013

The Bengali New Year is in the middle of April, but when the annual celebrations by the Bangladeshi community in Tower Hamlets began in 1997 they decided April in London was too cold and likely to rain and moved their celebration to a month later.

Bengali New Year and Levellers 2013

The celebration, which I’d photographed in 2006 and 2008, had been based around Brick Lane, but had by 2013 become a victim of its own popularity and had outgrown its original location, and had been moved to Victoria Park, well away from the centre of the Bangladeshi community. I think in later years it returned to its original location in the Brick Lane area, but I’ve not been back since.

Bengali New Year and Levellers 2013

The Mela is said to be the largest celebration of Boishaki outside of Bangladesh, and it was certainly very crowded when I was in Brick Lane in 2008. Tower Hamlets Council had that year banned it on safety grounds from using their parks, but later allowed them to use Weavers Fields for the main stage. It is said to be the second largest street festival in UK – though at around 80,000 taking part it is still an order of magnitude smaller than Notting Hill.

Bengali New Year and Levellers 2013

But as the pictures show it is a very colourful event. The council took over the management of the festival in 2009 when a record 95,000 people attended.

I walked with the procession to the gates of Victoria Park taking photographs, but left as they entered the park to go to Wapping.

Boishakhi Mela Procession


Bikers – Bethnal Green

The Boishakhi Mela Procession had been held up for a couple of minutes in Bethnal Green and had to wait as a large group of motorcyclists made its way down Old Ford Road where they were to go. I talked briefly with some of the bikers as they waited at the traffic lights, but conversation was rather difficult over the noise of perhaps a hundred poorly silenced engines. But I think they were simply a group from Dagenham and other parts of Essex out for a ride around London.

Bikers


Leveller Thomas Rainsborough – St John’s Churchyard, Wapping

Although I had walked through and photographed the small park, saved from being built on by local campaigners, which had been the churchyard of St John’s in Wapping, I don’t think I had previously known it was where Thomas Rainsborough had been buried.

Colonel Thomas Rainsborough was a military leader in Cromwell’s New Model Army, fighting for Parliament against the king in the English Civil War. He was killed by a Royalist raising party during the siege of Pontefract on 29 October 1648 and buried at Wapping on 14th November.

Rainsborough is best remembered now for his statement in the Putney Debates in London in 1647 about all men being equal:

"For really I think that the poorest he that is in England hath a life to live as the greatest he; and therefore truly, sir, I think it’s clear that every man that is to live under a government ought first by his own consent to put himself under that government; and I do think that the poorest man in England is not bound in a strict sense to that government that he hath not had a voice to put himself under…"

It was truly a revolutionary idea at the time, and he was labelled as an extremist. He was the most senior officer to support the Levellers.

The four Royalists had entered his lodgings at night and attempted to arrest him. There was a huge funeral procession by Levellers from Tottenham to Wapping for his burial. His sea-green regimental standard (a replica of which was carried by the Sealed Knot’s ‘Colonel Rainsborough’s Regiment of Foote’ in today’s ceremonies) was torn into strips and the sea-green ribbons became a Leveller symbol.

He had been an important military leader, in command of 1500 musketeers, but today there just five from the Sealed Knot, along with an officer and some pikemen, but they put on an impressive performance for the hundred or so of us who had turned up for the event, with speeches by John Reese, Tony Benn and others before Tony Benn pulled the string to unveil the plaque. This included words from the inscription on his long lost tomb which proclaimed he had made ‘Kings, Lords, Commons, Judges shake, Cities and Committees quake‘.

After the official proceedings and while photographs were being taken Ian Bone of Class War seized the opportunity to speak against the appropriation of Rainsborough by members of the political establishment who had taken part in the ceremony, but would still be opposed to the radical ideas put forward by the Levellers.

Standing in front of a fine banner showing a red sleeping lion with the text ‘Who shall rouse him up’ he spoke about the more radical Fifth Monarchists, fifty of whom staged a brief and doomed insurrection following the restoration in 1661, led by Thomas Venner. They stormed St Paul’s Cathedral on January 1 and held parts of London for three days before all were killed or taken prisoner. Venner was captured after suffering 19 wounds, tried and then hanged, drawn and quartered on 19 January 1661.

More at Leveller Thomas Rainsborough.


No More Benefit Deaths – 2016

Wednesday, September 7th, 2022

No More Benefit Deaths – 2016 The action on Wednesday 7th September 2016 began with a huge banner being displayed over the river wall on the Albert Embankment so it could be seen clearly be any MPs and others on the river terrace outside the houses of Parliament with the message ‘NO MORE BENEFIT DEATHS #DPAC’

The date was the opening day for the Paralympics in Rio, and protesters held a rally outside Downing Street to call on Theresa May to pay attention to human rights and to make public the findings of the UN investigation into the UK for violations of Deaf and Disabled people’s rights, to scrap the Work Capability Assessment and commit to preventing future benefit-related deaths.

From Downing Street they marched behind a coffin towards Parliament Square.

But on reaching Bridge Street they surprised police by turning on to Westminster Bridge

where they blocked the road on both carriageways with banners, a floral sign and the coffin.

The giant banner that had previously been displayed on the embankment was now stretched across the road.

Protesters sat in wheelchairs or stood holding posters and banners and there were some speeches about why the protest was taking place.

Police at first asked them politely to leave, then began to threaten protesters and journalists covering the event with arrest if they remained on the highway.

Most of those in wheelchairs refused to move. One carer who was looking after a disabled person was arrested and taken to a police van.

I think those arrested were later released without charge – arrest was being used in an abuse of process to harass protesters

Many of DPAC’s disabled protesters refused to move and a few remained blocking the roadway almost two hours after the protest began.

Eventually Paula Peters decided that the protest had gone on for long enough and triumphantly called a halt to the protest.

DPAC block bridge over benefit deaths
‘No More Benefit Deaths’ rally
Giant Banner ‘No More Benefit Deaths