Posts Tagged ‘Rojava’

Knives, Afrin and Vedanta

Thursday, May 26th, 2022

Knives, Afrin and Vedanta: Two of the four events I photographed on 26th May 2018 were connected with knife and gun crime in London, the other two about international events – the invasion of Afrin by Turkey and the fatal shooting by Indian police of protesters against the polluting activites of the Sterlite copper plant owned by Vedenta in Tamil Nadu.


‘Be the Change’ Knife and Gun Crime – Windrush Square, Brixton

London’s murder rate has increased by over a third in the last three years, and last year saw a 22% increase in recorded knife crime and 11% in gun crime. Of the 39 children and teenagers killed in the UK by knives last year over half were in London. The victims of knife crime are disproportionately young black men. Many attribute the rise in these crimes to the cuts in youth clubs, community projects, counselling and other services for young people, cuts in police and PCSO numbers and changes in illegal drug dealing.

Lambeth is an area that has suffered greatly from the cuts, and with a Labour council that often seems particularly insensitive to local needs, particular over housing where it has been colluding with developers over profiting from the destruction of social housing. It has also been subjected to some of the most discriminatory policing which has led to several riots or uprisings in Brixton over the years.

Brixton Seventh Day Adventist Church is in the centre of Brixton, worshipping a short walk from Windrush Square, where they had come on Saturday morning when normally they would be in church to protest and witness their concerns over the deaths. I’d missed photographing their march to the Square as they had taken a different route to that I’d expected but was able to spend some time photographing them speaking and singing the gospel. But it did seem to me that despite being hugely concerned and convinced in their beliefs that they were preaching only to the converted, with few of those walking past stopping to listen.

More pictures at ‘Be the Change’ Knife and Gun Crime.


Youth Peace Walk by Korean-based cult – Langham Place

I left Brixton and was making my way to the BBC when I was surprised by the Korean-based IYPG (International Peace Youth Group) making their way down Langham Place and stopped to photograph them. I knew nothing about them but saw they were marching with a posted about knife crime in London.

Back home later in the day I did my research on the web, finding the IYPG had held annual peace walks in countries around the world on or around May 25th since 2013, commemorating the ‘Declaration of World Peace’. The group was founded in South Korea by Mr Man Hee Lee, a war veteran and peacemaker who claims to have had a personal revelation linked to the biblical Book of Revelations. He is the leader of a strange heretical Christian cult in Korea called ShinChonji and a linked organisation Mannam. Critics say that although the IPYG hosts events such as these peace walks, they do nothing to promote peace but are a part of a recruiting drive for ShinConji whose followers are obliged to give large donations to the cult.

More pictures at Youth Peace Walk by Korean-based cult.


March Against Turkish Occupation of Afrin – BBC to Westminster

Kurds and supporters held a short rally outside the BBC before marching to Downing St and Parliament Square to call for an end to the Turkish occupation of Afrin.

Among those speaking was the aunt of British volunteer Anna Campbell, killed defending Afrin. The invasion of Afrin began in January, and was carried out by Turkish forces together with former ISIS fighters. The Kurdish forces withdrew in March when they were in danger of being encircled and have vowed to continue the fight to regain Afrin through a guerilla war.

Erdogan would like to completely eliminate the Kurds who have been persecuted for many years in Turkey and to end the autonomous Kurdish led areas in both Syria and Iraq. Afrin was a part of Rojava, the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria which has a liberal socialist constitution based on direct democracy which enshrines ethnic and gender equality and other fundamental human rights including freedom of religion – a huge contrast with Turkey’s increasingly Islamic autocracy.

I left the march after a short distance at Oxford Circus to make my way to the Indian High Commission in Aldwych.

More at March Against Turkish Occupation of Afrin.


India complicit in Thoothukudi killings – India House, Aldwych

Hundreds had come to protest outside the Indian High Commission protest at the Indian government complicity in the brutal repression of protests against pollution from the Sterlite copper plant at Thoothukudi, in the Southern State of Tamil Nadu. The protest was organised by Foil Vedanta, Tamil People in UK and PARAI – Voice of Freedom and supported by South Asia Solidarity Group and others including the Socialist Party.

On May 22nd, four days earlier, Indian police had fired into a crowd of protesters, killing 12 and wounding more than 60. Protests had been continuing for 100 days demanding that the plant, owned by a subsidiary of British company Vedanta Resources be closed down. Vedanta is said to be the largest donor to the Indian BJP party of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Vedanta, set up by British Indian billionaire Anil Agarwal with UK government help in 2003 is notorious for its polluting activities in India, Goa, Zambia and elsewhere as well as unsafe working practices and tax evasion. Sterlite, which has a long record of dumping toxic waste and operating without proper licences is expanding and opening a second plant in the town. The London Mining Network say the Vedanta operates “like a house without a toilet” and “consistently dump waste next to their smelters and captive thermal power plants.”

Protesters called for an end to Vedanta’s polluting activities around the world, and an end for support for the company by both UK and Indian governments. They called for the Stock Exchange to delist the company – and the company delisted itself a few months later probably to avoid facing more public interest litigation in the UK.

More pictures at India complicit in Thoothukudi killings.


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BBC Ignores Turkey’s War On Kurds

Sunday, March 6th, 2022

BBC Ignores Turkey’s War On Kurds. Six years ago today, on Sunday 6th March 2016, thousand of Kurds marched from the BBC to Trafalgar Square calling for an end to the silence from Turkey’s NATO allies and the western press over Turkey’s increasing war against Kurds since the political successes of the Kurdih political party and the formation of the popular progressive democracy of Rojava in Northern Syria.

Marchers sat down briefly at Piccadilly Circus

On My London Diary I posted a list of over 30 UK groups supporting in the protest including the National Union of Teachers, the PCS and RMT as well as other trade unionists and branches, the Stop The War Coalition, the Green Party, Unite Against Fascism, many left wing parties and political groups and of course Kurdish organisations.

The repression and marginalisation of Kurds by Turkey is as old as the Turkish state, formed in 1923. For many years the state even denied their existence, describing them as “mountain Turks”, and it outlawed their language and clamped down on their cultural events such their Nowruz New Year Festival and on the wearing of their traditional dress and Kurdish names. Even the words Kurds and Kurdistan were banned.

The crowd stretched some way past Broadcasting House

The 1990s and early 2000s saw some relaxation of the repression of their language and community celebrations, but it remains illegal to teach in Kurdish and there is still limited freedom of expression. In 1978 Kurds formed the militant Kurdish Workers’ Party, PKK, which launched a military freedom fight against Turkey in 1984. PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan was captured in Nairobi in 1999 by Turkish agents assisted by the CIA and flown back for trial in Turkey. He was sentenced to death, but this was commuted to life imprisonment when Turkey abolished the death penality and since then has been held in a Turkish high-security island prison.

Öcalan had argued for a political solution to the conflict since 1993 and even in prison remains the leader of the PKK. Subjected to long spells on isolation there have been periods where he has been allowed visits and has been in negotiations with the Turkish government. He has also written about the democratic confederalism which is at the heart of the constitution of the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria, widely known as Rojava, founded in 2012.

Rojava’s decentralised democratic form of government recognises and includes the various communities in the area – Kurds, Arabs, Turkmen, Yazidis, Assyrians and others as well as promoting the equality of women.

The main ground forces which have been effective against Daesh (ISIS) in the region are from the Kurdish People’s Protection Units, men in the YPG and women in the YPJ, who with the help of US air support defeated the Islamic State in Northern Syria.

Turkey regards the YPG and YPJ as being a part of the PKK, regarded by them and many countries as a terrorist group and widely banned. Since 2016 it has used its overwhelming military power (supported by NATO and Russia) to try to crush the Kurds and to capture Rojava, occupying large areas. Together with Syrian allies (including some former ISIS fighters) they are carrying out a policy of ethnic cleansing against the Kurds, and have been engaged in a wide range of war crimes.

Peter Tatchell

As well as calling for an end to attacks by Turkey and for full and un-biased reporting of Turkey’s attacks on the Kurds the marchers want the UK to end its support for the Turkish aggression and also to repeal the ban on the PKK under the Terrorism Act 2000. It is banned in most other western countries including the EU, where several court verdicts have found its proscription to be illegal but it has remained.

The march sat down for a few minutes stopping traffic at Piccadilly Circus, then went on the a rally in Trafalgar Square, where I left them. There were no reports of the march on the BBC or in other UK mass-media, though I think it was covered by some foreign news services and our minuscule left-wing press.

More at Break the Silence! Turkey’s War on Kurds.


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Defend Afrin, end Turkish Attacks

Thursday, January 27th, 2022

The largest protest I attended on Saturday 27th January 2018, four years ago was against the Turkish attacks on Afrin in Northern Syria, then a part of the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria (DFNS) or Rojava, a de facto autonomous region in northern Syria.

Turkey, a NATO member with probably the largest and best-equipped army and air force in the Middle East was taking on the small and poorly equipped Kurdish forces, and despite a valiant fight the final result was predictable, particularly once Russia, the other major player in the Syrian conflict had given them their blessing.

Turkey has continued its attacks on Northern Syria, but mainly through air strikes, but these are seldom reported in UK media although covered by specialist sources such as ‘Foreign Policy‘, part of the Slate Group.

The US gave some support in other battles fought by the Kurds against Islamic State forces, but this was always limited and mostly ended with the withdrawal of US troops which was announced by Trump in December 2018, and again in October 2019, although around 900 were still there in October 2021. Turkey has been a major source of finance for ISIS, allowing them to profit from smuggling of oil, and backing some groups which were fighting with them.

In recent days there have been short mentions on the BBC about the continuing battles being fought by the Syrian Democratic Forces, a US-backed, Kurdish-led militia against Islamic State in Northern Syria. The prisons and refugee camps where former ISIS fighters and supporters are held are largely in Kurdish territory and ISIS are still active and fighting to release people from detention to increase their strength.

As I wrote in 2018, “the constitution of Rojava treats all ethnic groups – which include Arabs, Assyrians, Syrian Turkmen and Yazidis as well as Kurds – equally and liberates women, treating them as equal to men. The constitution is based on a democratic socialism and its autonomy is seen by many as a model for a federal Syria.”

Unfortunately there seems little chance that such a model with be adopted more widely. Turkey continues to attack the Kurdish areas and does so using weapons sold to them as a NATO member by the UK, France and UAE. Turkey claims that the Kurdish forces fighting ISIS are an extension of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, PKK, founded in 1978 which began its armed struggle for self-rule for Kurds in Turkey 1984.

PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan has been held in a Turkish jail since 1999 and the organisation has been proscribed in many countries allied to Turkey, including the USA and UK. Several PKK flags were seized by police at the start of the march.

More at Defend Afrin, stop Turkish Attack.


This was not the only protest in London on that day, and I also photographed two other events. African Lives Matter and the International Campaign to Boycott UAE were outside the UAE Embassy in London protesting against the funding by the the United Arab Emirates United of armed Groups in Libya which imprison, torture and kill African migrants and sell them as slaves. On Regent St, the long-running protest outside the Canada Goose flagship store in Regent St was continuing asking shoppers to boycott the store because of the horrific cruelty involved in trapping dogs for fur and raising birds for down used in the company’s clothing.

Canada Goose protests continue
End UAE support for slavery in Libya


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A Busy Saturday – August 15th 2015

Sunday, August 15th, 2021


I began my working day rather later than the pickets outside the National Gallery, who held a short rally after picketing since the early morning on the 61st day of their strike against plans to outsource the jobs of 400 gallery assistants and the sacking of PCS union rep Candy Udwin for her union activities.
More at: National Gallery 61st day of Strike

A related protest against the privatisation of visitor assistants was taking place a little later outside Tate Modern on Bankside, with workers giving out leaflets calling for equal pay and conditions for outsourced and in-house workers at both Tate Britain and Tate Modern in London. Privatised staff doing the exactly the same job have zero hours contracts with no guarantee of regular work, get £3 an hour less, and do not get the decent pensions, sick pay and holidays enjoyed by their colleagues.
More at: Equalitate at Tate Modern

Back over the river to Aldwych and the Indian High Commission, where two protests were taking place on Indian Independence Day. Sikhs were supporting the call by hunger striker Bapu Surat Singh, now on hunger strike for over 200 days, calling for the release of Sikh political prisoners and other prisoners of all religions who have completed their jail terms but are still in prison.

Many of the Sikhs held posters of Gajinder Singh, a founding member Dal Khalsa which calls for an independent Sikh state, Khalistan, and they called for a referendum to be held in the Punjab and among the Sikh diaspora around the world on the setting up such as state.
More at: Sikhs call for release of political prisoners

Also protesting outside the Indian High Commission were a crowd of Kashmiris calling for freedom. Kashmir is a disputed territory with parts occupied by India, Pakistan and China, and since 1987 the Indian occupation has turned their area into one of the most militarised places in the world, with around one Indian soldier for every 14 Kashmiris.

Over 100,0000 Kashmiris have been killed since the current uprising against Indian occupation began in 1987, and torture is used as a mean to get confessions and terrorise the civilians including women and children. In Kashmir Indian Independence day is observed as ‘Black Day’.
More at: Kashimiris Independence Day call for freedom

Back in Trafalgar Square Iranian Kurds from the Party of Free Life of Kurdistan (PJAK) remembered its fighters killed in the fight against Iran and ISIS for self-determination. Like the PKK, PJAK owes allegiance to Abdullah Öcalan and the ideals of the Rojava revolution.
More at: Kurdish PJAK remembers its martyrs

A few yards away, Koreans were holding their monthly silent protest for the victims of the Sewol ferry tragedy, mainly school children who obeyed the order to ‘Stay Put’ on the lower decks as the ship went down. They continue to demand that the Korean government raise the Sewol ferry for a thorough inquiry and punish those responsible as well as bringing in special anti-disaster regulations.
More at: 16th ‘Stay Put’ Sewol silent protest

Finally I made my way to Oxford Circus to meet members of the United Voices of the World and supporters including those from SOAS Unison, the National Gallery strikers, Class War and others who were marching to protest outside Sotheby’s in Old Bond St. The UVW werecampaigning for proper sick pay, paid holidays and pensions for the cleaners who work there, and so far Sotheby’s response had been to sack two of the union members, Barbara and Percy.

Police harassed the protesters as they arrived outside Sotheby’s, trying to move them off the road they were marching along and onto the pavement, and they responded by sitting down on the road and refusing the police orders to move. After some minutes they got up and marched around the block, past the rear entrance to Sotheby’s, with two union officials going into some of the shops on the way to hand out leaflets explaining the action. Police tried to stop these two going into the shops and some arguments developed.


The marchers returned to the street in front of Sotheby’s and held a short rally, again ignoring police who tried to move them off the road. Police then tried to stop them marching around the block again, holding some while others surged around and the marchers made another circuit, returning to Sotheby’s for a short final rally before marching back towards Oxford Circus.
More at: United Voices – Reinstate the Sotheby’s 2.

My day wasn’t quite over, and I moved to Grosvenor Square, where two young women, one black and one white, had organised a Black Lives Matter protest close to the US embassy in solidarity with events across the US against the collective and systemic unlawful arrests and killings of black people in America. The protest around the statue of Franklin Delano Roosevelt was supported by groups including BARAC (Black Activists Rising Against Cuts) and the Nation of Islam.

More at: BlackoutLDN solidarity with Black US victims.

In all the travelling around central London on foot or by bus, I had time to take a few pictures between protests.
More at: London Views.


All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.


April Fools Day

Thursday, April 1st, 2021

The idea of a day – or rather a morning – for largely harmless pranks to be played on others on April 1st seems to have been fairly widespread around many countries, but the seems to be no real explanation of its origin, but it seems to date back as least into the middle ages. The choice of date is suggested by some to have marked the end of the week of celebrations for the New Year, which was traditionally celebrated across Europe on March 25 until the sixteenth century.

There have been some celebrated hoaxes over the years – and those of us who were around in 1957 still remember the spaghetti harvest on the BBC with its narration by Richard Dimbleby, which fooled much of the nation and amused the rest of us. But so many of today’s news stories and government pronouncements throughout the year now seem so bizarre and unbelievable that I now am disappointed when no-one comes on afterwards to shout ‘April Fool!’

On several occasions in recent years I’ve found myself covering protests outside our Atomic Weapons factory at Aldermaston on April 1st and it’s long seemed to me that our government’s policy on nuclear deterrence is at best a complete hoax – but so far no government has stood up to admit this.

But I wrote about Aldermaston a few days ago, so today I’ll look elsewhere and to April 1st 2014, where I photographed three events in central London, one of which was by probation officers, naming then Justice Minister Chris Grayling whose birthday it was an ‘April Fool’, a judgement adequately confirmed by the failure of his reforms of probation and legal aid, and by his performance in later Government Ministries. Who can forget his no-deal Brexit ferry fiasco which resulted in us taxpayers forking out an extra £50 million on termination bonuses including to the firm with no ferries? ‘Failing Grayling’ is a truly well earned epithet.

But the first event on that day was a picket by disablement activists at the Department of Work and Pensions HQ in Westminster, then run by Iain Duncan Smith, another Tory with a rather too consistent record of failure. Among the groups protesting were the Mental Health Resistance Network who successfully took the DWP to court over the discrimination against people with mental health conditions built in to the Work Capability Assessment (WCA). The DWP lost their appeal against the judgement but had defied the court in failing to address the issue.

Along with the MHRN were campaigners from DPAC and Winvisible and the picket was one of a number around the country demanding that assessments of work capability and personal independence payments be carried out by local GPs rather than the discredited tests by IT companies such as ATOS, which are inadequate by design and deliberately administered to disadvantage claimants, with trick questions and falsification of responses to meet targets set by the companies for the largely unsuitably qualified staff who administer them.

From the DWP in Caxton St it was a short walk to Parliament Square, where Kurds and Alevi were protesting against the attacks on the Kurdish areas in Northern Syria by forces supported by Turkey.

Kurds want justice and autonomy for northern Syria, where the area known as Rojava has a constitution that supports the rights of women and of all its population groups based on widespread community involvement. Many at the protest had flags for the PJAK (Party of Free Life of Kurdistan) which, like the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) calls for the release of Kurdish leader Abdullah Öcalan, held in a Turkish jail since 1999. The PKK was made a proscribed organisation in the UK in 2001 probably at the request of the Turkey, one of our NATO allies, who have a long record of discrimination and attempts to eliminate Kurdish culture and invaded and occupied Kurdish areas of Syria in 2016, implementing a policy of ethnic cleansing of the Kurds.

The largest of the protests on 1st April 2014 was by probation officers and lawyers from the London Criminal Courts Solicitors Association and other supporters of the Justice Alliance against the moves to privatise probation and cut legal aid.

Among the speakers at the event were two shadow ministers of justice and other MPs including Jeremy Corbyn, as well as Green Party Leader Natalie Bennett, trade unionists, and solicitors as well as several probabtion officers.

Following the rally in Parliament Square, the campaigners marched the short distance to the Ministry of Justice, where Tom Robinson led the singing of “the alternative ‘Happy Birthday’ and unwrapped a couple of presents for InJustice Minister Chris Grayling, a packet of Skittles (as bought by Travon Martin) and a copy of ‘The Book Thief’. Grayling had just announced that he was to stop books being sent to prisoners in UK jails.” A small group then delivered a birthday cake with a tombstone with the message ‘RIP Justice’ to the ministry.

More at:
Probation Officers Strike for Justice
Kurds protest at Rojava attacks
DWP & Atos Work Assessments

Rojava, Bolivia & Ecuador

Tuesday, October 13th, 2020

One of the things that makes it hard to leave London is the diversity of the communities that have made their homes here, making this an exciting place. Throughout its history Britain’s population has been enriched by immigration and although immigrants have not always been made welcome they have made a very positive contribution to our society. Among them have been many religious and political refugees and asylum seekers, and many continue to support the causes in their home countries while in London.

While our media generally give little attention to protests – except for those rare occasions involving individual violent acts or anti-establishment acts such involving insults against national heroes such as the writing of graffiti on the plinth of the Churchill statue or attacking statues of slave traders, the protests by ethnic communities against events in their home countries are almost entirely dismissed as what one newsroom at least refers to as “tribal matters”.

Of course they are wrong, as well as being xenophobic. We live in a world that is increasingly interconnected and globalised, and Brexit, taking us out from under the wing of Europe will give even more importance to events happening around the rest of the world, including Rojava, Ecuador and Bolivia.

Rojava is important not just to those who live in this Kurdish-controlled part of Syria and to Kurds in general but the rest of us around the world. It was the Syrian Kurds who with US air support who were able to defeat ISIS but as a model of a democratic system dedicated to equality, the liberation of women and ecological justice that could serve to provide the system change we need to overcome climate disaster and to resolve the problems of the middle east and elsewhere.

After ISIS were defeated, Trump brought US forces out of the area, leaving it open for Turkey to advance into Syria – with the aid of Islamist forces and the aim of destroying the Kurds. Through NATO we give Turkey support and doubtless supply arms while Russia, backing President Assad are happy to see Syrians who don’t support him exterminated. The Turks have huge superiority in weapons and seem very likely to acheive their aims, but are then likely to establish an Islamic state in the area rather than withdraw back to Turkish territory and we could well then see a war between Russia and NATO forces.

If you rely on the BBC for your news you will know probably know very little about what is going on in northern Syria and the protesters, mainly Kurds but with some support from the British left, gathered outside Broadcasting House a year ago today on Sunday October 13th 2019 to condemn the poor BBC coverage and hope to persuade them to do more. I met them there and marched with them as far as Trafalgar Square; they went on towards Parliament but I stopped to cover two other protests over events abroad.

Ecuadorians living in the UK had come to call for the resignation of President Lenin Moreno who they say is their worst president ever. Many there were from indigenous groups who have been hardest hit by public service cuts, particularly the ending of fuel subsidies. Protests had been causing chaos in the capital Quito since these were announced two weeks earlier. The austerity measures had been demanded by the International Monetary Fund in order for the country to get a £3.4bn loan. After Brexit we could well see Britain having to meet similar IMF demands whose aim is to protect and promote international capital and corporations at the expense of the poor.

As the Ecuadorians left they were replace by Bolivians who held a lively rally with music and dancers in support of President Evo Morales, who was seeking a fourth term in elections a week later on 20 October.

Morales, the first Indigenous president, and his Movement for Socialism (MAS) greatly reduced poverty, cut the influence of the USA and multinational companies and made Bolivia a model of economic growth. Although popular among the poorer citizens, his policies had not endeared him to the wealthy or to the United States.

Although the election results made Morales a clear winner, with just enough votes to win on the first round, it was followed by violent insurrection amid claims of electoral fraud. Morales fled the country and resigned as President claiming there had been a coup after armed intruders broke into his home. He was offered political asylum first in Mexico and later moved from there to asylum in Argentina.

Although an Organization of American States investigation found there had been voting fraud, later studies by US political scientists and experts on Latin American politics concluded there was no statistical evidence of fraud. Despite being voted in by the Bolivian people, a warrant was issued in December for the arrest of Morales on charges of sedition and terrorism.

More about the three protests on My London Diary:

Rally supports Bolivia’s Evo Morales
Against Ecuadorian President Moreno
Solidarity with Rojava – Kurdish Syria


All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.


Solidarity with Rojava

Monday, April 6th, 2020

While we may feel cooped up in isolation in the UK, and are mourning the deaths of several thousand from COVID-19, the situation for many around the world is far worse. Particularly at risk are the people of Rojava in North-East Syria, mainly Kurds, at risk both from Turkish invasion forces and from the virus.

Kurds are the largest minority community in Turkey as well as being widespread across the northern parts of Iran, Iraq and Syria. They were promised an independent state at the end of the First World War, but that promise was denied when the boundaries of modern Turkey were defined in 1923.

Since 1923 Turkey has attempted a programme to eliminate Kurdish culture and identity, at times with massive military campaigns as well as repressive legislation. The Kurds, around 20% of the population, have fought back the opposition led since the 1980s by the Kurdistan Workers’ Party or PKK led by Abdullah Öcalan who has been in jail in Turkey since 1999.

In recent years Turkey has been aggressively attacking Kurds outside Turkey and in early 2018 they invaded Afrin canton in northern Syria, part of the territory where Kurds with other minority ethnic groups had established a de-facto autonomous region of Rojava, with a constitution based on decentralisation, gender equality, direct democracy and guaranteeing ethnic minority rights and religious freedom.

Kurdish forces in the People’s Protection Units, the men of the YPG and the women of the YPJ, were the most effective force in fighting the ISIS in Syria, with the help of US air support. But Turkey is second only the the US in military strength in NATO, and has benefited greatly from NATO support and arms supply, and were able to take Afrin from these lightly armed Kurdish forces. Many Kurds were forced out of the area, which had been overwhelmingly Kurdish and they are now a relatively small minority.

President Trump’s announcement of a US withdrawal from Syria gave Turkey’s President Erdogan a green light to continue his country’s invasion of Rojava, and left the Kurds there no alternative but to call on the Syrian government for support, a move which in the longer term seems likely to end their autonomy.

Turkey is now using the coronavirus to threaten Kurds in Turkish prisons for political reasons – including many journalists, excluding them from its plans to release them with other prisoners because of the pandemic. They are also refusing to refer prisoners with COVID-19 symptoms for medical treatment.

For the 4 million inhabitants of North and East Syria, including 600,000 refugees the situation is also dire. The World Health Organisation refuses to support the area directly and little comes to them through the Assad regime. There are no WHO test kits or test machines and only 35 intensive care beds and 40 ventilators.

More pictures from October’s protest: Solidarity with Rojava – Kurdish Syria


All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.


Kurds protest against Turkish invasion

Sunday, January 19th, 2020

Kurds have lived in the area around what is now southern and western Turkey and northern Syria and Iraq and north-western Iran at least since the time of Alexander the Great, and in more modern times were a part of the Ottoman Empire until the end of the First World War. At the end of the war their region was split between several countries, including Armenia and a rather smaller area called Kurdistan, but soon after this was occupied by Turkish forces under Kemal Atatürk  and by 1923 the whole area was incorporated into modern Turkey.

There were various uprisings by the Kurds against Turkish rule, and Turkey tried to eliminate Kurdish culture, banning the language and even the use of the terms  “Kurds”, “Kurdistan”, or “Kurdish”, re-christening the Kurds as “Mountain Turks”. Many Kurds were jailed.

In the 1980s and 90s there was a guerilla war led by the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) with the Turks destroying thousands of villages and killing over 20,000 Kurds. In 1999 Kurdish leader Abdullah Öcalan (“Apo”) was captured by the CIA in Nairobi and handed over to the Turks. He was tried in Turkey and sentenced to death, but this was later commuted to life imprisonment. He was held in solitary confinement in an island prison until 2009, when a few more PKK prisoners were moved with him to a new jail on the island, and he remains in prison, but still acts as a highly regarded leader of his people.

The protest at the Turkish embassy followed further threats by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to invade more Kurdish areas of Northern Syria, where the Kurdish state of Rojava has been set up with a  “democratic confederalism” constitution based on the ideas of Murray Bookchin which enshrines the values of environmentalism, self-defense, gender equality, and a pluralistic tolerance for religion, politics, and culture.

The call out for the protest states:

Through invasion, destruction & annihilation the fascist Turkish State, with its media, secret intelligence services and the Kurds he has pulled to his side is now trying to destroy the hard works of the Kurdish people in Northern Syria.

Its aim is to annihilate the Kurds and their existence. To protest this, the kurdish community and their friends will stand honourably against the atrocities being committed by the Turkish state and strengthen the struggle for freedom.

On this basis, Kurds and all the people who believe in democracy and peace are invited to protest against this fascist regime.

Stop Turkey’s Invasion of Kurdistan


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