Posts Tagged ‘Safe Passage’

COP23 & Calais – 24th October 2017

Sunday, October 24th, 2021

Guardians of the Forest

Four years ago today we were waiting for the start of the COP23 UN Climate Change Conference in Bonn, though for various reasons it didn’t get the same publicity as COP26 coming up shortly in Glasgow. There were certainly fewer hopes of anything positive emerging as it was the first such meeting since Donald Trump had stated he was going to pull the US out of the Paris Agreement.

Those talks were unusual in that although held in Germany (who did most of the organising) they were actually the first hosted by a small-island developing state, with Fiji taking the Presidency.

As usual at such events, not a lot was achieved, with the US decision dominating much of the business in various ways. Syria announced that it would sign up to Paris during the event, leaving the US as the only country in the world saying it would not honour the agreement. And the US withdrawal made China a rather more important player.

Britain actually took part in the one major positive outcome, coming together with Canada to launch the ‘Powering Past Coal Alliance’, calling for the phasing out of coal in OEC and EU countries by 2030 and in the rest of the world before 2050. Unfortunately none of the major coal producing countries signed the pledge.

The Guardians of the Forest, indigenous leaders from Latin America, Indonesia and Africa, had stopped off in London on their way to Bonn and held a rally in Parliament Square to commemorate those who have lost their lives defending the forests against mining, the cutting down of forests for palm oil production and other crops and other threats to the forests and those who live in them.

Many companies listed on the London Stock Exchange are among those responsible for damage to the forests and the murder of indigenous people in search of profits, with whole tribes forcibly removed from their homes and their rights to the land they have lived in for many generations ignored.

Increasingly we are becoming aware of the importance of forests as sources of oxygen and in removing carbon dioxide and so combating global heating and the need for proper stewardship of these huge natural resources – rather than their destruction for short-term profit. Indigenous people have maintained them for hundreds or thousands of years in a renewable manner and their knowledge and continuing maintenance has a vital part to play in the fight against climate change.

Safe Passage

Earlier I’d photographed a rally by Safe Passage on the anniversary of the destruction of the Calais Jungle. Although around 750 child refugees had been brought here from France, they urged the government to provide safe and legal routes for the hundreds of refugees still living in Calais, many sleeping rough in terrible conditions.

Lord Alf Dubs

In particular they called on them to fill the remaining 280 places allocated under the Dubs law to children but not yet filled 18 months after Parliament passed the law. Many of those still in France are entitled to come here to be reunited with their family and they called on the Home Office to have an official in France to aid their transfers.

More at:
Guardians of the Forest – COP23
Safe Passage for the Children of Calais

Stop Trident, Save Refugees…

Saturday, February 27th, 2021

Last Tuesday I watched John Pilger’s 2010 film, The War You Don’t See, a film that takes an honest look at wars and the failure of most journalists to report honestly on them – and how those that do find their work fails to get broadcast or printed. It’s an at times harrowing view of war and lays open the whole huge PR web of lies that is used to persuade the public that they are necessary and to support them, based mainly around the propaganda over Iraq and Afghanistan.

It is now a matter of official record that all of the reasons put forward at the time for the invasion of Iraq, notably in the UK by Prime Minister Tony Blair were lies; but not only that, were known at the time to be false. It was simply a war for the control of Iraqi oil, and to keep the military industry growing. Of course many of us outside the
CIA and other agencies also knew that at the time, including the over a million who went to protest in London.

Pilger managed to get interviews with a wide range of people, including journalists and others who admit that they failed for various reasons to inform the public what was really going on. Those from other news sources, including the BBC, make a wholly unconvincing attempt to justify the approach they took, visibly squirming as Pilger asks his questions, trying to defend their toeing the government line rather than examining the evidence and reporting objectively.

We are in an age of perpetual war, not largely because of real disputes that could not be solved by other means, but manufactured and promoted by a huge web of deceptions to feed what is sometimes called the military-industrial complex, a term coined by Eisenhower for his final public speech in 1961 when he warned of the “economic, political, even spiritual” dangers of “the disastrous rise of misplaced power” it it could – and has – produced.

Pilger’s film deals briefly with the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which it is now clear served no military purpose as the war with Japan was rapidly drawing to a close when they were dropped. The film includes an interview he made in the 1980s with Australian journalist Wilfred Graham Burchett who managed to evade the military security that kept almost all journalists simply taking down and passing on the military briefings which denied the existence of radiation sickness and went to Hiroshima and reported on the terrible effects of the bomb.

Despite censorship and other attempts to stop his report reaching the outside world, the first 200 words of his 3,000 word report reached the Daily Express who put it on the front page – and the world learnt of how 30 days after the bombing apparently uninjured people were still “dying, mysteriously and horribly” from what Burchett described as “the atomic plague.”

Journalists who step out from the official line can expect to suffer, and many. particularly those who refuse to be led and “embedded” have been killed reporting on wars. Others, such as Julian Assange find themselves the subject of deliberate campaigns to harass and discredit them – and in his case to imprison him in solitary confinement – possibly to be extradited to life in solitary in the USA – despite an extradition treaty that excludes those accused of political crimes.

Our so-called Independent Nuclear Deterrent is wholly a programme to feed that military-industrial complex, with its chilling threat hanging over us all, something that at least one US president has been prepared to consider using and which only the willingness of one Russian soldier to disobey orders saved us from its accidental unleashing.

On Saturday 27th February, around 60,000 came to Marble Arch to march from there to a rally in Trafalgar Square against government plans to replace the UK’s Trident nuclear weapons at a cost of £180 billion or more. They said Trident is immoral and using it would cause catastrophic global damage; these weapons of mass destruction don’t keep us safe and divert resources from essential spending on services like the NHS, schools and housing.

I was a little late to the official photocall because of the dense crowds as I made may way from the European March for Refugee Rights which had finished with a rally a short distance away in Hyde Park. This was taking place in various cities across Europe and demanding that governments take action now to open secure safe passage routes for all refugees and asylum seekers seeking protection in Europe. They called for an end to deaths at borders and for refugees to be allowed to keep their possessions and be reunited with their families.

At the end of this march, many of those taking part went to join the Stop Trident march, some forming up as a group ahead of the official front of the march despite attempts by the Stop the War stewards to move them. Eventually the stewards halted the main march for around ten minutes to create a gap between the two groups.

Stop Trident Rally
Stop Trident March
European March for Refugee Rights


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.


Three Years Ago

Saturday, October 24th, 2020
Lord Alf Dubs

Three years ago on October 24th 2017 I photographed two protests over stories that have come back into the news in recent days.

This 9th October the House of Lords voted 317 to 223 for an amendment to the immigration bill proposed by Lord Alf Dubs and three other peers to ensure that rights under UK law to family reunion guaranteed under the EU’s Dublin III treaty continue after the transition period. The government used its House of Commons majority to overturn the amendment and it returned to the House of Lords on 21 October. The Lords on 21st October again backed the amendment by a majority of 78, the fourth defeat for the government over attempts to ensure lone child refugees maintain the right to be reunited with their families in the UK. The government will probably use its majority to again strike out the amendment and demonstrate yet again how little they care for others.

Back in 2017, Safe Passage were protesting at the Home Office’s dragging its feet in carrying out their obligations under Dublin III and the previous Dubs Amendment passed in May 2016 to act “as soon as possible” to relocate and support unaccompanied refugee children in Europe. It took four years until May 2020 for the 480 places provided for under this scheme to be allocated and the children allowed to come here. The government then announced it had ended the scheme and had no plans to allow any of the thousands still stranded in Europe to come here.

The second event on October 24th 2017 was a rally by indigenous leaders Guardians of the Forest from Latin America, Indonesia and Africa, on their way to the COP23 UN Climate Change Conference in Bonn, arguing that the continuing maintenance of the forests by their indigenous inhabitants is vital in the fight against climate change, and that the clearance and devastation has to be stopped.

This year, Monday 12th October, known to some as Columbus Day, was celebrated in America and around the world as Indigenous Peoples’ Day. Although first proposed in 1977 and recognised in the 1980s, this year saw a huge leap in its profile, with a US wide billboard advertising campaign featuring work by over 50 artists in what was called ‘The 2020 Awakening’.

Among the indigenous leaders speaking out on climate change is Ugandan activist Vanessa Nakate, who made the news earlier this year when she was cropped out of a photo showing Greta Thunberg at Davos. It made her realise that not just her but the whole of the majority world gets ignored by media coverage. She strongly makes the point that “The Global South is not on the front page, but it is on the front line,” already suffering from the effects of climate change.

At the start of October 2020 Time magazine named Nemonte Nenquimo from the Waorani people of Ecuador of its 100 most influential people of 2020. There is a longer interview with her on Huffington Post.

Facing the climate crisis we need to learn how to live on the Earth in ways that are sustainable and work with nature rather than destroy it. As Nakate puts it:

“People always say that it is hard for human beings to adapt to new ways of living, but the pandemic has shown that we can.”

“If we want a future that is liveable and healthy for everyone, it has to be sustainable, it has to protect the people, it has to protect the planet.”

Vanessa Nakate – Euronews.com