Posts Tagged ‘refugees’

Stratford, Shoreditch & Racist Immigration Laws – 2009

Thursday, June 27th, 2024

Stratford, Shoreditch & Racist Immigration Laws: On Saturdy 27th June 2009 I took a few pictures from a high viewpoint arooss Stratford , then photographed graffiti in the streets of Shoreditch before going to a protest against the UK’s racist immigration laws a Communications House, close to the Old Street roundabout.


Olympic Update II – Stratford, London.

Stratford, Shoreditch & Racist Immigration Laws

There is a little of a mystery for me over these pictures as I don’t state the location I took them from, simply state I was in Stratford for a meeting on Saturday and took the opportunity to take a few pictures of the Olympic site from a high viewpoint.

Stratford, Shoreditch & Racist Immigration Laws

I no longer have my 2009 diaries and cannot remember any such meeting which from the views I think must have been on one of the upper floors on top of the shopping centre. I possibly made my way onto the roof area after the meeting.

Stratford, Shoreditch & Racist Immigration Laws

The lighting and weather were not at their best but they do show some of the buildings on the Olympic site as well as Westfield under construction and Stratford Station.

Olympic Update II


Shoreditch

Stratford, Shoreditch & Racist Immigration Laws

My train to Liverpool Street arrived in time to allow me to make a leisurely and rather indirect walk to Old Street for the protest there.

Back in the early 1980a, Shoreditch was a run-down area of warehouses and small workshops which were closing down and being taken over by artists for cheap studios, including some who were forced to move out of Butler’s Wharf which in the 70’s had become the largest artists’ colony in England. Over half moved out following the firein late 1979, but the 60 remaining were all given notice to quit in January 1980. Some formed a new community in the Chisenhale centre in Tower Hamlets, but quite a few found cheap premises in Shoreditch.

The artists preserved much of the area’s properties and made it a much more attractive place to live. For most of them this meant the rents grew rapidly to far more than they could afford and they had to move to more outlying areas. But Shoreditch had become a trendy place with clubs and nightlife and the new graffiti – much inspired by New York street art began to cover almost every available wall.

Shoreditch


Support Migrants – Fight Racist Immigration Laws – Old St

The Campaign Against Immigration Controls had organised the protest outside the Immigration Reporting Centre Communications House where many refugees are processed before they were taken to detention centres and deportation.

After the SOAS management and employers ISS had colluded with the Home Office over a dawn raid on their cleaning workers on 12 June 2009 in reprisal for their successful campaign for a living wage and trade union recognition, it was here that the SOAS 9 were brought before their deportation.

The first speaker at the protest was Laureine Tcuapo who had fled to Britain to escape repeated rape and abuse from a relative in the Cameroon police force. On Friday 12 June at 7am, immigration police kicked down the door of her Newcastle house and took her and her two young children forcibly to Yarl’s Wood Immigration Prison, intending to deport here to Cameroon. Action by Tyneside Community Action for Refugees and No Borders North East managed to prevent her deportation and get her release from Yarls Wood on 25th June but she is still under threat of deportation.

The protest also supported the continuing hunger strikers in Yarls Wood over the inhumane conditions there. In a press release from TCAR Tcuapo stated “Families were separated; people were being beaten up by guards. It just felt to all the asylum seekers that we were less than animals… I still think about my time in Yarlswood. It was very traumatising. I can’t even imagine how things are at the moment for people inside. They’re counting on us because inside, they have no rights.

We also heard directly from some women in Yarls Wood who were able to use mobile phones to speak at the protest. Much of what is still happening at places such as Yarls Wood has been condemned by official inspections and is clearly against the laws of this country as well as EU Human Rights legislation and attention needs to be drawn to it. Our treatment of migrants, especially asylum seekers offends against justice and humanity.

More at Support Migrants – Fight Racist Laws


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.


Holloway, Nabja, Vegans, Refugees & Topshop – 2016

Tuesday, May 14th, 2024

Holloway, Nabja, Vegans, Refugees & Topshop – I celebrated 14th May 2016 with a busy day of protests around London.


Reclaim Holloway

Holloway, Nabja, Vegans, Refugees & Topshop
Jeremy Corbyn

Islington Hands Off Our Public Services, Islington Kill the Housing Bill and the Reclaim Justice Network marched from rally on Holloway Road demanding that when Holloway prison is closed the site remains in public hands, and that the government replace the prison with council housing and the vital community services needed to prevent people being caught up in a damaging criminal justice system.

Holloway, Nabja, Vegans, Refugees & Topshop

The prison is in Jeremy Corbyn’s constituency and the then Labour leader turned up on his bike to speak before the march to give his support.

Holloway, Nabja, Vegans, Refugees & Topshop

There was a long rally outside the prison with speeches by local councillors, trade unionists and campaigning groups.

Holloway, Nabja, Vegans, Refugees & Topshop

Islington Council wanted to see the site used for social housing and in 2022 gave https://www.ahmm.co.uk/projects/masterplanning/holloway/ planning permission for a development by Peabody, who bought the site in 2019 with help from the GLA, and London Square for 985 new homes. 60% of these will be affordable, including 415 for social rent, together with a 1.4-acre public park, a Women’s Building, and new commercial spaces.

Reclaim Holloway


68th Anniversary Nabka Day – Oxford St

Holloway, Nabja, Vegans, Refugees & Topshop

A rolling protest outside shops which support the Israeli state made its way along Oxford St from Marks and Spencers, with speakers detailing the continuing oppression of the Palestinian people, and opposing attempts to criminalise and censor the anti-Zionist boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement.

It came on the day before Nabka Day, the anniversary of the ‘day of the catastrophe’ which commemorates when around 80% of Palestinians were forced to leave their homes between December 1947 and January 1949, and later prevented by Israeli law from returning to their homes, or claiming their property.

The protesters included both Palestinians and Jews opposed to the continuing oppression of the Palestinians by the Israeli government. They were met by a small group of people holding Israeli flags who stood in their way and shouted insults, accusing them of anti-Semitism.

The organisers were clear that the protest was not anti-Semitic but against Zionism and some actions of the Israeli government. Both police and protesters tried hard to avoid confrontation with those who had clearly come to disrupt and provoke.

Many UK businesses play an important part in supporting the Israeli government by selling Israeli goods and those produced in the occupied territories and in other ways, and their were brief speeches as the protest halted outside some of them detailing some of these links.

More on My London Diary at 68th Anniversary Nabka Day.

This Saturday, 18th May 2024, you can join the march in London, starting at the BBC on the 76th anniversary of the Nabka calling for an end to the current genocide in Gaza.


Vegan Earthlings Masked Video Protest – Trafalgar Square

Vegans in white masks from London Vegan Actions were standing in a large circle on the North Terrace of Trafalgar Square, some holding laptops or tables showing a film about the mistreatment of animals in food production, bullfighting, etc. Although bright sun made the laptop screens almost impossible to see and the sound outdoors was largely inaudible the large circle of people standing in white masks did attract attention.

More pictures Vegan Earthlings masked video protest.


Refugees Welcome say protesters – Trafalgar Square

Also protesting in front of the National Gallery were a small group holding posters calling for human rights, fair treatment and support for refugees. Some held a banner with the message ‘free movement for People Not Weapons‘.

More pictures Refugees Welcome say protesters.


Topshop protest after cleaners sacked – Oxford St

After Topshop suspended two cleaners who were members of the United Voices of the World trade union for protesting for a living wage and sacked one of them protests were taking place outside their stores around the country.

The UVW were supported by others at the London protest which began outside Topshop on Oxford Street by others including trade unionists from the CAIWU and Ian Hodson, General Secretary of the BWAFU as well as then Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell and Class War.

A large crowd of police and extra illegal security guards wearing no ID blocked the entrance to the shop stopping both protesters and customers from entering. The several hundred protesters held up placards and banners and protested noisily but made no serious attempt to go in to the store.

A man wears a mask of Topshop owner Phillip Green

Some protesters, led by the Class War ‘Womens Death Brigade’ moved onto the road, blocking it for some minutes before the whole group of protesters marched to block the Oxford Circus junction for some minutes until a large group of police arrived and fairly gently persuade them to move.

They stopped outside John Lewis, another major store in a long-running dispute with the union as it allowed its cleaning contractor to pay its cleaners low wages, with poor conditions of service and poor management, disclaiming any responsibility for workers who keep its stores running.

The protest there was again noisy and there were some heated verbal exchanges between protesters and police, but I saw no arrests. After a few minutes the protesters marched off to continue their protest outside another Oxford Street Topshop branch close to Marble Arch.

More at Topshop protest after cleaners sacked.


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.


Goodbye and Good Riddance – March 2023

Monday, January 1st, 2024

Goodbye and Good Riddance – March 2023: Continuing from yesterday’s post some more pictures from 2013, from my albums on Facebook from March 2003.

Goodbye and Good Riddance - March 2023
Croydon Residents Protest 15% Council Tax Hike. London, UK. 1 Mar 2023. People from the London Borough of Croydon protest outside the Council offices against the council raising Council Tax by 15%. The huge rise is needed because of of swingeing cuts in support from central government and years of mismanagement by both Labour and Tories, particularly in the council’s housing company. The proposed rise comes on top of years of cuts to essential services in the borough. Peter Marshall
Goodbye and Good Riddance - March 2023
A Tree Is Planted In Memory of Bruce Kent. London, UK. 4 Mar 2023. Jeremy Corbyn and Valerie, Bruce Kent’s widow, come to plant the tree. Several hundred came to the planting of a tree in Finsbury Park in memory of Bruce Kent who died last June. A prominent Catholic priest he became a political activist and one of the great peace campaigners of our times. Speakers included Jeremy Corbyn and Kent’s wife Valerie who together planted the tree. Peter Marshall
Goodbye and Good Riddance - March 2023
Million Women Rise 2023. London, UK. 3 Mar 2023. Women, including many from migrant groups, met just off Oxford Street for a march organised by Million Women Rise, a collective led by Black women, which welcomes all women to attend. They called for an end to male violence against women and girls in all its forms. They want an end to everyday and structural racism at the heart of policing and our immigration system and society generally. Peter Marshall
Goodbye and Good Riddance - March 2023
Bank of England – Hand Back Venezuela’s Gold. London, UK. 4 Mar 2023. A protest at the Bank of England on the 10th anniversary of Hugo Chavez’s death demanded they return the 31 tonnes of Venezuela’s gold in their vaults. The UK government has refused to recognise the elected government of Venezuela and insists the gold belongs to the opposition led by Juan Guaido whose interim presidency has been dissolved by the democratically elected National Assembly. Peter Marshall
Save The NHS, Support Strikers and Welcome Migrants. London, UK. 11 Mar 2023.Thousands marched in London from a short rally at Warren Street calling for decent pay for all NHS workers. They demand an end to NHS privatisation and a return to a publicly funded public service. Migrants Are Welcome with and have played a vital role in the NHS, with large numbers of nurses, doctors and other staff from abroad, and they supported Gary Lineker in his description of the substance and tone of Government policies. Peter Marshall
Iranians Continue Protests For Regime Change. London, UK. 11 Mar 2023. Iranians continue their protests in London in solidarity with protesters in Iran calling for the end of rule by Mullahs. In Parliament Square a group held placards against the gassing of schoolgirl protesters and Iran and calling for Twitter to ban the Taliban, as well as pictures of those killed and held Iranian flags and banners supporting the mourning mothers and fathers of Iran. Peter Marshall
Save Our Schools Carnival, London, UK. 15 Mar 2023. Striking teachers, parents and supporters march to a carnival event in Trafalgar Square organised by the National Education Union as a huge Budget Day show of strength to demand the Chancellor and ministers deliver a fully-funded above inflation pay rise to #SaveOurSchools. They demand action to end poor pay, low funding, the SEND crisis and excessive workload, to support pupils in poverty and end inappropriate inspection and tests. Peter Marshall
UN Anti-Racism Day March. London, UK. 18 Mar 2023. Women Life Freedom, Iran. Thousands march through London to make clear that refugees are welcome and oppose the government’s racist policies against immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers. They demand safe routes for migrants and an end to institutional racism in policing and an end to Islamophobia, anti-semitism, and prejudice against Black, Chinese, Asians, gypsies, Roma, travellers and other communities in the media and government. Peter Marshall
UN Anti-Racism Day March. 18 Mar 2023. Thousands march through London to make clear that refugees are welcome and oppose the government’s racist policies against immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers. They demand safe routes for migrants and an end to institutional racism in policing and an end to Islamophobia, anti-semitism, and prejudice against Black, Chinese, Asians, gypsies, Roma, travellers and other communities in the media and government.
Peter Marshall

More pictures from these and other protests in March 2023 in my Facebook Albums.


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.


Chelsea Manning, Kurdistan & Syria – 2016

Sunday, December 17th, 2023

Chelsea Manning, Kurdistan & Syria – Three protests in London on Saturday 17th December 2016.


Vigil on Chelsea Manning’s 29th birthday – Trafalgar Square

Chelsea Manning, Kurdistan & Syria

A silent vigil on the steps of St Martin-in-the-Fields in Trafalgar Square marked the 29th birthday of trans-gender whistleblower Chelsea (formerly Bradley) Manning, jailed for 35 years in 2013, whose courageous leaks revealed war crimes by US, UK and other governments.

Chelsea Manning, Kurdistan & Syria
A Queer Strike protester and veteran peace activist Bruce Kent

Working for the US Army as a specialist intelligence analyst as Bradley Manning she released almost 750,000 documents to Wikileaks in 2010 showing the US, UK and other governments’ war crimes and corruption in Afghanistan, Haiti, Iraq, Israel & the Palestinian Authority, Peru, Venezuela and elsewhere. Some were classified and many others were highly sensitive and incriminating. In 2013 she was sentenced to 35 years and held in the maximum security U.S. Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth.

Chelsea Manning, Kurdistan & Syria

The London vigil was a part of an international day of action for her release. Since she came out as a trans woman in 2013 she had been repeatedly harassed by the military in prison and twice in 2016 had attempted suicide. Protesters around the world called on President Obama to release her on the basis of the prison time she had already served before he left office. The following month he commuted her sentence to around seven years and she was released from jail. She spent a further year in 2019-2020 after she refused to testify to a grand jury investigating WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

Vigil on Chelsea Manning’s 29th birthday


Kurds protest for a Free Kurdistan – Downing St

Chelsea Manning, Kurdistan & Syria

Kurds, many wearing or waving the flag of Free Kurdistan called on the civilised world to recognise the sacrifices made by the Peshmerga in fighting for freedom and against Islamic extremism in Iraq and Syria.

The Peshmerga is the army of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in Iraq, first formed in the18th century as border guards but more recently fighting for Kurdish autonomy, although it also includes Assyrian and Yazidi units. Iraqi Kurdistan is an autonomous region of Iraq, and under the Iraqi constitution the Pershmerga is responsible for the security of the region.

They played a key role in US missions against al-Qaeda after 9/11and were with other Kurdish forces now fighting against ISIS with some support from the USA. But the USA was refusing to directly supply any weapons except through the Iraqi government who were failing to pass any on the the Pershmerga as they feared they would be used to promote an independent Kurdistan. And in London people seemd to be clearly calling for a free Kurdistan.

The result of this failure to pass on weapons is that the force is poorly armed, mainly using Soviet-era weapons they captured in earlier Iraq uprisings and now weapons captured from ISIS in 2014. This protest called for greater support to provide them with modern weapons and other support they lack including ammunition, ambulances and military communications equipment.

Kurds protest for a Free Kurdistan


Doctors & Nurses Die-in for Syria – Old Palace Yard, Westminster

A short walk away in front of the Houses of Parliament Healthcare workers held a die-in at Parliament in solidarity with the Syrian people.

They called for an end to the bombing of civilians, hospitals and schools by the Assad regime and for the UK government to put pressure on the Syrian government to allow the delivery of aid. They urged the UK to make airdrops of aid, provide safe passage to all those trapped and grant asylum to refugees.

The protest was organised by Medact’s Arms and Militarisation (MAM) group along with Syria solidarity activist groups and individuals including the Syrian British Medical Society.

Peter Tatchell holds a poster

Between 2014 and 2021 when the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme closed, the UK accepted around 20,000 Syrian refugees. When adjusted to reflect the population size of European countries this puts the UK well down among European countries. For the total number of resettled refugees from 2008-20021 the UK comes fifth behind Germany, Sweden, Norway and France but adjusted for population size we are in 10th position.

But along with the USA, Britain failed to take any effective action in support of the Syrian revolution and the crimes against the people committed by the Assad regime, and were severely outplayed by Russia who backed Assad.

Doctors & Nurses Die-in for Syria


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.




A Table, COP21, Refugees and Santas – 2015

Tuesday, December 12th, 2023

A Table, COP21, Refugees and Santas On Saturday 12 December 2015 I started at the ‘Free the Focus E15 Table’ protest in Stratford, came to Westminster where climate activists were protesting on the final day of the COP21 Paris talks, then to a solidarity vigil for refugees at Downing Street. Since Christmas was approaching there were also santas on the streets, including some on BMX bikes taking part in a charity ride as well as others taking part in the annual Santacon.


Free the Focus E15 Table – Stratford

A Table, COP21, Refugees and Santas - 2015

Focus E15 had since they began over two years earlier been a major irritant for Newham Council, drawing attention to the failure of Newham Council to sensibly address the acute housing problem in the borough, which has around 5,000 people living in temporary accommodation.

A Table, COP21, Refugees and Santas - 2015

At the same time 400 council homes in the Carpenters Estate close to the centre of Stratford have remained empty, some for over ten years as the Labour council under Mayor Robin Wales have been trying to sell it off.

A Table, COP21, Refugees and Santas - 2015

Focus E15 have opposed, at first on their own behalf and later for others in their ‘Housing For All’ campaigns the council policy they label ‘social cleansing’, which attempts to force those needing housing out of London and into private rented property in towns and cities across the country- Hastings, Birmingham, Manchester etc – and even in Wales.

A Table, COP21, Refugees and Santas - 2015

As well as organising protests, opposing evictions, demanding the borough meet its statutory obligations to house homeless individuals by going with them to the housing office they had for over two years held a weekly street stall every Saturday on a wide area of pavement on Stratford Broadway, speaking, providing advice and handing out leaflets.

On the previous Saturday in a clearly planned operation, Newham’s Law Enforcement officer John Oddie assisted by several police officers, confronted the campaigners and told them they were not allowed to protest there, and that unless they immediately packed up their stall, sound system, banners and other gear it would be seized. Council and police cited legal powers that were clearly inapplicable to this situation and this was clearly an illegal act.

When Focus E15 stood their ground, police took the table they were using and threw it into the back of their van and drove away with it. It was probably on the advice of their lawyers that a couple of days later the council wrote a letter to the protesters asking them to reclaim the table; Focus E15 asked them to return it to them on Stratford Broadway this Saturday – but it didn’t arrive.

But there were plenty of tables there when I arrived with several groups coming to show solidarity and defend the right to protest including Welwyn Garden City, South Essex Heckler, Basildon and Southend Housing Action, Clapton Ultras, East London Radical Assembly, Anarchist Federation, Carpenters Estate, Aylesbury Estate Southwark, Squatters & Homeless Autonomy and more. Some came with tables and Focus E15 had also brought a replacement.

The protest was lively with speeches, singing and dancing, and although the local paper, too much in the council’s pocket, was ignoring ‘Tablegate’ a BBC local crew did come and film a few interviews. Police and Newham Council seemed to have learnt from the previous week’s farce and kept away.

Free the Focus E15 Table


Climate Activists Red Line protest – Westminster Bridge

Campaign against Climate Change protested by carrying a ‘red line’ across Westminster Bridge against the inadequate response to global temperature rise reached at COP21 which was on its final day.

Many climate activists were still in Paris, so the protest was rather smaller than usual. They met for a sort rally opposite Parliament in Old Palace Yard before marching behind the Campaign against Climate Change banner and a trumpeter on to the pavement across Westminster Bridge.

There they unrolled a 300m red length of cloth, carrying it above their heads across the bridge as a ‘red line’. For many countries, a maximum global temperature rise of more than 1.5°C will mean disaster, and the Paris talks have not committed to this nor have they set up any real mechanism for holding countries to the more limited commitments they have made.

The world needs a far more urgent change to renewable energy, with fossil fuels being left in the ground – or only extracted for use a chemical feedstock. But huge vested interests in the fossil fuel lobby are still dominating the thinking of most governments – and the annual COP meetings.

The protest called for the UK government to reverse the anti-Green measures introduced since the 2015 election, and to get behind green jobs, energy use reduction measures and renewable energy and t abandon its plans for carbon burning technologies and fracking in particular. Vital for the future of the world, these changes would also aid the UK economy.

More at Climate Activists Red Line protest.


Christmas Solidarity Vigil for Refugees – Downing St

As darkness fell refugees, solidarity campaigners and Syrian activists came to a Downing St vigil demanding justice for refugees, opening of EU borders to those fleeing war and terrorism and a much more generous response from the UK government.

A strong and gusty wind made it hard to keep candles alight and they had to be pushed through the bottom of plastic cups to provide windshields to stay alight.

As well as Syrians, there were other refugees from around the world, as well as some of the many British who are disgusted at the miserable response of the Tory government. Despite much lobbying which forced David Cameron to increase the UK response, the UK still only agreeing to take 20,000 refugees in the next five years, while Canada will take more – 25,000 – in a single year.

Christmas Solidarity Vigil for Refugees


Santas in London

While I was photographing the climate ‘red line’ on Westminster Bridge a large group of Santas rode past on BMX bicycles on a charity ride and I rushed across in time to photograph a few of them. These BMXLife ‘Santa Cruises’, in 2023 in their 9th year, have now raised over £135,000 for Children’s Heart charity ECHO. The 2023 ride starts from Leake Street at 11am on 16th December.

After the Refugee Vigil I walked up to Trafalgar Square where santas were beginning to arrive at the end of a long day walking around London in the annual Santacon, an alcohol-fuelled annual fun event which describes itself as “a non-profit, non-corporate, non-commercial and non-sensical parade of festive cheer.” This year’s event was last Saturday, 9th December.

More pictures at Santas in London.


Refugees, Sharia and Islamophobia

Tuesday, June 20th, 2023

Refugees, Sharia and Islamophobia: In 2000 the UN June General Assembly declared that June 20th every year is World Refugee Day on which, as the UNHCR web site puts it, ‘the world celebrates the strength and courage of people who have been forced to flee their home country to escape conflict or persecution. The 2023 theme of World Refugee Day is “hope away from home.”’

Back in 2010 it was celebrated with parades including one in London. Also on Sunday 20th June there was a rally by One Law For All calling for an end to Sharia and other religious laws, opposed by a small group of Islamic extremists, who were opposed by Islamophobic EDL supporters, in turn opposed by largely Asian East Londoners.


Umbrella Parade for Refugees – Whitehall to Geraldine Mary Harmsworth Park.

Refugees, Sharia and Islamophobia

The London Umbrella Parade for refugees was organised by a partnership of groups including Amnesty International, British Red Cross, Oxfam, Refugee Action and Student Action for Refugees working with ECRE, the European Council on Refugees and Exiles, and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

Refugees, Sharia and Islamophobia

The umbrella was “a symbol of care and shelter, representing our proud tradition of offering safety to those in need of international protection,” a tradition that was then clearly under threat from the UK Borders Agency, with forced deportation flights in which refugees are returned to an uncertain future in Iraq, with beatings on the flight and on arrival.

Refugees, Sharia and Islamophobia

Since then we have seen successive Home Secretaries racheting up increasingly racist anti-refugee policies, now clearly and deliberately flouting international laws. The UK once had proud tradition and well-deserved reputation for upholding human rights, playing a leading role in establishing these human rights laws it is now breaking.

Refugees, Sharia and Islamophobia

IN 2010 I wrote “Competition between the political parties to be even tougher on immigration and appease the right-wing press have serious eroded the chances of refugees and asylum seekers receiving humane treatment and proper consideration in the UK.” Things have travelled much further only this inhumane path since then.

I walked with the campaigners from the Defence Ministry in Horseguards Avenue down Whitehall, past the Houses of Parliament and across Westminster Bridge. The march ended with a picnic in Geraldine Mary Harmsworth Park outside the Imperial War Museum. The start and finishing places were chosen appropriately as most refugees and asylum seekers are a result of war.

More pictures at Umbrella Parade for Refugees.


No Sharia – One Law For All – Whitehall

Maryam Namazie speaking opposite Downing St

One Law for All campaigns against Sharia and religious arbitration in the UK, Iran and across the globe. They say these religious laws are discriminatory against and promote violence against women and have no place in the 21st century.

They want to end “religious laws and theocracy and promote secularism and the separation of religion from the state, education, law and public policy as a minimum precondition for the respect of human, women and LGBT rights.”

They have have campaigned for an end to Islamic regimes in Iran and Afghanistan, and have recently been involved in the Woman, Life, Freedom protests in London and elsewhere, promoting the Woman, Life, Freedom Charter.

Their rally opposite Downing St on 20th June 2010 came on the anniversary of the the killing of Neda Agha-Soltan in Iran, and after the rally the several hundred taking part marched to the Iranian Embassy in Kensington.

A short distance away were a group of mainly young Muslim men dressed in black and holding posters and flags. The called themselves ‘Muslims Against the Crusades’ or ‘Muslims Against Crusaders’ widely thought to be a reincarnation of the banned ‘Islam4UK’ (itself a relaunch of the banned Al-Muhajiroun.) One of their banners proclaimed ‘Sharia Will Dominate The World’.

In my 2010 account I quote from Maryam Namazie of One Law for all, writing on the Iran Solidarity blog:

“The battle against Sharia law is a battle against Islamism not Muslims, immigrants and people living under Sharia law here or elsewhere. So it is very apt for the Islamists to hold a counter-demonstration against our rally. This is where the real battleground lies. Anyone wanting to defend universal rights, secularism and a life worthy of the 21st century must join us now in order to push back the Islamists as well as fringe far Right groups like the English Defence League and the British National Party that aims to scapegoat and blame many of our citizens for Islamism.”

My London Diary

During the rally police escorted a small group of EDL supporters along Whitehall to opposite the Muslim protesters where they shouted insults and threat at both them and the photographers who went to take their pictures. After a few minutes they were led away to a penned protest area further south of the One Law For All rally.

A second much larger group were then brought down Whitehall, much more carefully surrounded by police, making them hard to photograph. Some carried Unite Against Fascism placards and most of the several hundred were young British Asians. Earlier the UAF and United East End had marched frpm Stepney Green to a rally at Whitechapel against the EDL and this group had marched to confront them in Westminster. But by the time they arrived the One Law for All rally had ended and the Muslims Against the Crusades had left.

After some minutes photographing the young Asians, including one man being rather forcefully arrested, mainly having to work over the heads or between their police escorts, I rushed after the One Law For All marchers to take more pictures.

I didn’t make it to the Iranian embassy. By the time the march was passing Victoria Station I decided I was tired and had taken enough pictures and got on a train to begin my journey home.

I wrote about this and posted pictures of the One Law for All campaigners at No Sharia – One Law For All but separated out the photographs of the other protesters into posts at Muslim Crusaders For Sharia, EDL Oppose Muslims Against Crusades amd UAF Arrive to Oppose EDL



Shut down Yarl’s Wood Immigration Prison – 2017

Saturday, May 13th, 2023

On Saturday 13th May 2017 I put my Brompton folding bike on the train and made my way to Bedford Station via St Pancras. I was on my way the the 11th protest outside the immigration detention centre at Yarl’s Wood in the campaign led by Movement for Justice to shut down this and other immigration prisons.

Shut down Yarl's Wood Immigration Prison

This was the first time I’d taken a bike to get to Yarl’s Wood, although I’d been to most of the previous protests they had organised there. Before I’d ridden from the station on a coach organised by the event organisers which hadn’t always been ideal, meaning I sometimes arrived late – especially once when the driver got lost – and had to leave when the coach was leaving, sometimes before the end of the protest and sometimes when I would have liked to leave earlier. On the bike I was free to arrive when I wanted and leave when I liked.

Shut down Yarl's Wood Immigration Prison

Yarl’s Wood is sited in an area remote for the southern parts of England, on the site of a former wartime airfield, probably chosen as somewhere people could be locked away out of sight and out of mind, on the hills around 5 miles north of Bedford. Motorists would take the A6 to Milton Ernest, the closest village, and then a mile or more uphill to the meeting point outside the Twinwoods Business Park. But I took a slightly more sensible cycle route, mainly along side roads or cycle paths, with just a short section beside the A6 into the village.

Shut down Yarl's Wood Immigration Prison

Most of the route was uphill, climbing slowly towards the hills, then wasting the energy I’d expended in climbing with short downhill sections. But the final section from Milton Ernest was uphill all the way, long and steep, though I didn’t need to worry about traffic on it as the police had helpfully closed the road.

Shut down Yarl's Wood Immigration Prison

My Brompton has a 3-speed hub gear and isn’t really good on hills, with the lowest of the three still being rather high when things get steep, but I managed to struggle up without having to get off and walk, though I was tired and seriously panting by the time I reached the top.

There I locked the bike to a fence and joined the thousand or so protesters who had travelled from around the country in a long line of coaches parked along the road. There were speeches and chanting for some time as we waited for others to arrive.

Shut down Yarl's Wood Immigration Prison

The gates of the business centre were locked and protesters are prevented from taking the shortest route to the prison (there is also a more direct private road from the south closed to the public.) But a public footpath runs beside the 20ft fence around it. To reach it the campaigners first march a few hundred yards along the road, then turn down one footpath to reach a bridleway before going a few hundred yards along this to the path leading to the prison.

Its not a great distance, a little over three-quarters of a mile, but much of the way is on paths often muddy and full of puddles, and the Brompton is not happy off-road. I ended up pushing it much of the time, occasionally carrying it along with my camera bag, though some of the protesters did give me a hand so I could take some photographs.

Outside the prison the protesters marched into a field on the north side where a small hill rises to give a limited view over the solid lower half of the 20 foot metal prison fence. Their shouts and noise were greeted by those inside the centre who had managed to get to the windows on that side.

The prison windows have very limited opening, but enough for some of the women inside to get their arms through and wave, often holding items of clothing, or sheets of A4 paper with messages calling for freedom and for justice. Our view of them from the hill was only through the wire mesh of the upper 10 feet of the 20 foot fence which made taking pictures difficult.

From most places we could only see the two upper floors of the building, but at the very highest point the upper part of some ground floor windows was also visible. These rooms are used to house families being detained and although Yarl’s Wood was mainly used to detain women there were a few men here as well.

Most of the protesters stood up on the hill holding banners and placards but others were at the bottom, some banging or kicking the metal fence which resonates to make a terrific racket. Others wrote slogans on the fence, though these were only visible to us outside. People climbed up on ladders or other people’s shoulders or used long poles to hold banners, posters and placards in front of the upper mesh where the detainees could see them.

Movement for Justice had brought a public address system and there were speeches, mainly from former detainees, including several women who had been held at Yarl’s Wood. One who spoke was Mabel Gawanas who had been recently released a after a few days short of 3 years inside. A few detainees were also able to speak from inside over mobile phones, amplified by the PA system.

The protests at Yarl’s Wood have been important in gaining publicity for the terrible way in which the UK treats asylum seekers, particularly women who are locked up in this ‘racist, sexist hell-hole’ which has been exposed by various reports. They have an enormous morale-boosting affect on the prisoners who feel isolated and forgotten inside.

But the government’s response has been to re-purpose Yarl’s Wood as a short-term holding facility for men arriving in the UK by boat in December 2021 and to set up a new immigration detention centre for women in an even more remote location in County Durham, where it is much harder for the women to organise and argue their cases. Almost certainly a part of this decision was to try to avoid further protests such as this one.

More recently the Home Office has started indefinitely detaining women at Yarl’s Wood again, although the numbers are much smaller. No official announcement was made of this reversion.

Much more at Shut down Yarl’s Wood Prison on My London Diary.


Algeria, BDS and Kenya – 2014

Wednesday, April 12th, 2023

Algeria, BDS and Kenya: The three protests I covered on Saturday 12th April 2014 were all about activities in other countries, though the first was calling on UK consumers to take action by boycotting goods produced in illegally occupied Israeli settlements on Palestinian land.


Don’t Buy Sodastream at John Lewis – Oxford St

Algeria, BDS and Kenya

Supporters of the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign were handing out flyers in a regular fortnightly protest outside John Lewis, urging people not to buy SodaStream products which were then being made in illegal Israeli settlements on Palestinian land.

The protests are a part of the BDS campaign for boycott, divestment and sanctions of Israeli products called for by Palestinian civil society, particularly aimed at products which are made in the illegally occupied settlements.

Algeria, BDS and Kenya

The Financial Times had recently commented that the “status of the settlements is clear in international law even if Israel chooses to ignore this and expand its colonisation of Palestinian land, while ostensibly negotiating on the creation of a Palestinian state.” Sodastream makes some of its dispensers in Ma’ale Adumim, a large Israeli settlement in the occupied West Bank. Trade with these illegal settlements is illegal under international law.

Algeria, BDS and Kenya

Sodastream claim that they promote peaceful coexistence between Arabs and Jews by employing around 500 Palestinians, but the FT pointed out “The way to create Palestinian jobs is to end the occupation and let Palestinians build those foundations – not to build “bridges to peace” on other people’s land without their permission.”

A former Sodastreamn worker there claims that most Palestinians working for Sodastream support the boycott “because they are against [Israel’s] occupation. But they cannot afford to personally boycott work opportunities.” The company was reported to be trying to set up a new factory inside Israel rather than the occupied territories which would mainly employ Israeli Arabs. In 2015 as a result of protests such as this one, Sodastream moved production from Ma’ale Adumim in the occupied West Bank to Lehavim in Israel proper. The company, which had been founded in the UK in 1903 but relaunched in 1998 was bought by PepsiCo in 2018.

Algeria, BDS and Kenya

Before the establishment of the state of Israel, Palestinians (including Druze & Bedouins) owned 92% of the land, while Jews owned about 8%. The UN awarded Israel 54% of the land, though a fairly large part of this was empty desert. In the 1948 war, Israel took another 24%. In 1967 Israel occupied all of Palestine and with further settlements and the building of the separation wall since then only the Gaza strip and around 40% of the occupied West Bank remains under Palestinian control.

Don’t Buy Sodastream at John Lewis


Against the Electoral Masquerade in Algeria – Algerian Embassy, Riding House St

This protest in London came as presidential elections were about to begin in Algeria, electing President Bouteflika for his fourth term since 1999.

The Algeria Solidarity Campaign say these elections are a huge scam and they are “more convinced than ever that the upcoming elections will be neither free and fair, nor transparent. They will certainly not result in the election of a legitimate President, representative of the wishes of the people.”

Their campaign called “for a massive boycott and/or abstention from voting and its full rejection of the ‘Presidential poll’, as it deems it to be a mere spectacle meant to maintain and cloak its authoritarian and corrupt rule in electoral legitimacy.”

The turnout in the election was low at 51.7%, and as low as 20% in some regions, and around 10% of votes were blank or invalid. But of those who voted, 81.5% were for Bouteflika. Ill health meant he made few public appearances in his fourth term and he resigned in April 2019 after months of mass protests, dying two years later.

Against the Electoral Masquerade in Algeria


Somali Refugees mistreated in Kenya – Kenya High Commission, Portland Place

Members of the Somali community protested outside the Kenyan Embassy against the mistreatment of Somali refugees at the Kasarani Concentration Camp in Kenya. They called for the ICC to investigate the crimes being committed there.

According to Reuters, the Kenyan authorities arrested more than 1,000 Somalis in mass arrests in a Somali dominated suburb of Nairobi following terrorist attacks by the Somali militant Islamic group al Shabaab. Almost 4000 were arrested and more than a thousand were held in the Kasarani sports stadium. Human Rights Watch reported many were held in packed and filthy police station cells and they saw “police whipping, beating, and verbally abusing detainees. There have been numerous credible accounts of Kenyan security forces extorting money and beating people during the arrests and in detention.”

Access to the Kasarani camp by invesigators and reporters was severely restricted, and the few people allowed access “were not able to freely interview detainees in the stadium.”

The arrests followed a number of earlier incidents reported by Human Rights Watch when “Kenyan police in Nairobi tortured, raped, and otherwise abused and arbitrarily detained at least 1,000 refugees, including women and children, between mid-November 2012 and late January 2013, following grenade and other attacks.”

Kenya still hosts large numbers of refugees from other African countries, including around 287,000 Somalis in a total of 520,000 refugees and asylum seekers.

Somali Refugees mistreated in Kenya


UN Anti-Racism Day 2017 & 2023

Saturday, March 18th, 2023

UN Anti-Racism Day 2017 & 2023

Today, 18th march is the UN Anti-Racism Day, and in 2017 it was also a Saturday, and tens of thousands marched through London, starting as they will today outside the BBC and ending with a large rally in Westminster.

UN Anti-Racism Day 2017 & 2023

Today’s march, as in 2017, is organised by Stand Up to Racism, Unite Against Fascism and Love Music, Hate Racism and the TUC and supported by many other groups, including football fans from around the country who will be wearing team colours.

UN Anti-Racism Day 2017 & 2023

This years march is perhaps even more important, with the UK Government pursuing clearly racist policies against immigrants in last year’s Nationality and Borders Act, its attempt to deport refugees to Rwanda and Suella Braverman’s recently announced Illegal Migration Bill.

Phyll Opoku of PCS ‘Stand Up to Racism’

Football fans have been energised by the BBC’s reaction to Gary Lineker’s tweet. He was clearly correct in observing the hostile anti-refugees language used by the government to language used in Germany in the 1930s. They say the government are trying to stir up division and racism to deflect attention from their multiple crises and turn refugees into scapegoats.

Unfortunately it isn’t just the government, but also the official opposition who continue to up the ante over immigration, refusing to stand up to the government with any real attempt to improve our treatment of refugees and asylum seekers. Real opposition to racism has been left to a few increasingly isolated figures on the left of the party – including many of those who have been ejected for supposed anti-semitism, increasingly being used to expel Jewish members who support the Palestinian people. And of course left to footballers or former footballers.

Even Theresa May, who the 2017 march was strongly opposed to for promoting racist measures against immigrants and in particular Muslims in concert with Donald Trump has found Braverman’s latest proposals which will break international law on the human rights of migrants a step too far.

The 2023 march organisers say:

In Britain we face a crisis-ridden government attempting to use racism to make ordinary people pay for the cost of living crisis. The ‘Rwanda plan’, the Nationality and Borders Act, racist deportations and the hostile environment for refugees and migrants are all about divide and rule.

The government deny the reality of institutional racism – despite massively disproportionate deaths in black communities during the pandemic – and the reality of deaths in police custody, racist stop and search and discrimination across society.

Internationally we are seeing the growth of the racist and fascist right and an alarming rise in Islamophobia, antisemitism, Sinophobia, anti East/South East Asian racism and attacks on Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities.

Despite a rail strike this Saturday I hope to be there later today, again taking photographs and marching with many thousands of others.

Much more from the 2017 march and rally on My London Diary: Thousands March Against Racism.


Peckham Pride

Monday, February 20th, 2023

Earlier this week I took a walk with a couple of friends in Peckham, one of my favourite parts of south London, and currently on this site I’ve been making a number of illustrated posts about walks I made there back in 1989, the latest, a couple od days ago being Bird in Bush, Wood Dene, Asylum and a School. But I’ve also photographed other events in Peckham, including the first Peckham Pride, seven years ago on Saturday 20th February 2016.


Peckham Pride

LGSMigrants and Movement for Justice organised the event to put the politics of resistance which has for many years been sidelined by the growing commercialisation of Pride marches and events back into Pride.

Peckham’s FIRST EVER Pride march is for everyone with and without citizenship, papers or no papers. We REFUSE to accept stigma or discrimination over the colour of our passports, the colour of our skin, our gender, our sexuality or our ability.

They had chosen to come to Peckham for this event as the area had become a major target for anti-immigration raids, racist go-home vans, and street harassment by the Home Office.

The are has a large Nigerian and Ghanaian community which makes it a convenient target for racist raids leading to brutal deportations on cattle-like charter flights to Nigeria and Ghana. But its residents have also made it a focus of growing popular resistance on the streets to these illegal and immoral activities.

Several hundred supporters of the event met on the square by Peckham Library – now threatened along with the Peckham Arch by Southwark Council who are eager to build on much of the area – and perhaps to end the community events which gather there, sometimes critical of council activities.

At a rally there were speeches calling for refugees to be welcomed in Britain and to find here a safe haven where they can enjoy freedom, oppourtunity and education. Instead they are faced with a government which is increasingly making the country a hostile environment both for them and for the majority of citizens. The speakers emphasized the need to organise and act together to oppose and defeat these polices.

From the arch on Peckham High Street Peckham Pride marched down the major shopping street of Rye Lane, attracting attention and some encouraging gestures and comments with some loud chanting and a samba band.

They stopped again a little past Rye Lane station where there were more speeches, including by another former Yarl’s Wood detainee who told how they had organised and held together to stop a fellow detainee being forcibly deported. A local shopkeeper came to talk about the Border Force raids, including one on his premises and the community opposition close to them, and there was a powerful speech from a local resident about the need to organise resistance and oppose these raids.

Local resistance is both effective and appropriate, as the Home Office employees who carry them out are generally acting in abuse of the law. I had to leave before the end of the march and missed the performances which were to follow it at the Bussey Centre at the centre of Peckham.

Peckham Pride