Posts Tagged ‘sanctions’

Free Palestine, Free Ahad Tamimi – 2017

Saturday, December 23rd, 2023

Free Palestine, Free Ahad Tamimi – Six years ago Palestine was also in the news and on Saturday 23rd December 2017 I photographed three protests in London related to the country and its occupation by Israel. These were protests called at short notice and there were larger protests in the New Year.


Jerusalem, Capital of Palestine – US Embassy

Free Palestine, Free Ahad Tamimi

Outside the US Embassy – still then in Grosvenor Square – a rally by Palestinians and their supporters condemned the decision by US President Trump’s announcement that the US Embassy in Israel will move to Jerusalem.

Free Palestine, Free Ahad Tamimi

Jerusalem is one of the oldest of world cities and is of great significance to three major world religions. It was where Soloman built the first temple after the city had been captured by his father, King David around three thousand years ago. Here Jesus was tried and crucified around 30AD, and here that the prophet Mohammed died and ascended into heaven in 632AD, and the Temple Mount is the third holiest site in Islam with the Dome of the Rock and al-Aqsa mosque.

Free Palestine, Free Ahad Tamimi

Jerusalem was from 1923 until 1948 the capital of Palestine, and in 1948 was declared by United Nations General Assembly Resolution 194 to be an international city. After the 1967 Six Day War Israel gained control of the whole of the city and in 1980 Israel passed its Jerusalem Law declaring it the “complete and united” capital of Israel. The United Nations Security Council responded with ‘Resolution 478 on 20 August 1980, which declared that the Jerusalem Law is “a violation of international law“, is “null and void and must be rescinded forthwith“. Member states were called upon to withdraw their diplomatic representation from Jerusalem.’

Free Palestine, Free Ahad Tamimi

Trump’s decision to move the US embassy to Jerusalem was a clear dismissal of this UN resolution and was condemned by those who spoke at the rally. They called for peace and freedom for Palestine and also condemned the increase in hate crimes following Trump’s announcements and the brutal repression of protests against it in Palestine, including the shooting of peaceful protesters, one in a wheelchair by Israeli forces, and the beating up and detention of 16-year-old Ahed Tamimi and members of her family.

Jerusalem, Capital of Palestine


Free Palestine, Free Ahad Tamimi – M&S, Oxford St,

The protest invited people to “discover more” about M&S and to boycott the Israeli goods they sell

The Revolutionary Communist Group held a weekly protest outside Marks & Spencer’s flagship store on Oxford Street for 13 years as a part of their ‘Victory to the Intifada‘ campaign in support of freedom for Palestine and an end to the Israeli military occupation of Palestine.

They point out that M&S support Israel by selling goods produced their including the illegal sale of some items produced in the occupied territories and urge shoppers to boycott M&S and support the growing BDS campaign – Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions.

They say many British companies including Marks and Spencer are collaborators with the apartheid regime in Israel and call for the release of all Palestinian political prisoners, many of whom are being held effectively indefinitely without trial or have been sentenced in unfair trials. Israel has reacted to the BDS campaign with a number of schemes including campaigns in both the Tory and Labour parties. Many of the controversies about anti-Semitism in the Labour party and elsewhere are a part of this orchestrated anti-BDS campaign, particularly directed against Jeremy Corbyn for his very public support for freedom for Palestine.

Today’s protest was a special one called to demand the immediate release of 16-year-old Ahed Tamimi, beaten up and arrested by Israeli soldiers at her home in the village of Nabi Saleh in the occupied West Bank at 4am on Tuesday 19 December.

Free Palestine, Free Ahad Tamimi


Free Ahed Tamimi – Trafalgar Square,

Another group of protesters calling for the release of Ahed Tamimi were in Trafalgar Square to condemn the kidnap, beating up and arrest of 16-year-old Ahed Tamimi by Israeli soldiers at 4am on Tuesday 19 December, and the later arrest of her mother Nariman Tamimi and cousin Nour Tamimi, and called for their immediate release.

The two younger women had earlier slapped Israeli soldiers in their occupied village of Nabi Saleh when their 14 year old male cousin was shot in the face by Israeli soldiers. Among those taking part in the protest were some who knew Ahed and her family personally and had visited them in their village of Nabi Saleh where regular protests are brutally repressed by the Israeli army.

Ahed’s father Bassem Tamini was also in some of the photographs the protesters held and he has been detained by the military many times in the past.

This was a fairly small protest in front of the National Gallery and had been going for some time when two men turned up to shout at the protesters and disrupt it.

They tell the protesters that Palestine will never be free and that Israel has offered peace, but the protesters reply that Israel has never been prepared to make a serious offer of peace with justice. When a two state solution seemed possible following the Oslo accords, Israel prime minister Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated for having signed them and Benjamin Netanyahu and Ariel Sharon, both opposed to the peace, took power in Israel, and the building of settlements on occupied land tripled.

The two men told the protesters they should “go home” which seemed a peculiarly stupid and insensitive comment as some of those present had lost their homes in Palestine when they were forced out of them by Israel.

Both of the men were well-known Zionists who have attempted to disrupt other protests calling for boycotts of Israel and supporting Palestine. Their shouting and disruption had the effect of calling more attention to the protest calling for the release of Ahed Tamini. After some minutes they were joined by a third Zionist, and angry woman who joined them to scream a message of hate and then left.

Eventually police arrived and told two men that they should behave themselves and suggested they leave. They didn’t go but quietened down considerably. The following year after even more aggressively disruptive behaviour at a pro-Palestine protest one of the two was fined and issued with a restraining order under the Public Order Act.

One of the protesters complained to the officers about the racist comments the two had made to him, but the police showed no interest. The protest continued but it was soon time for me to catch my train home.

Free Ahed Tamimi



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Roma, Olympic Park and Mind – 2016

Tuesday, October 31st, 2023

Roma, Olympic Park and Mind: After a morning protest by Roma at the Czech Embassy in Kensington I took a walk around the Olympic Park in Stratford before joining the Mental Health Resistance Network (MHRN) and Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) who were holding a Halloween Demo at the national office of Mind.


Roma protest Czech Murder – Czech embassy, Kensington

Roma, Olympic Park and Mind

Ladislav Balaz, Chair of the Roma Labour Group and Europe Roma Network and others had come to hand in a letter calling for the murder of a young Romani man by neo-Nazi skinheads in Žatec to be properly investigated.

Roma, Olympic Park and Mind

The man who had lived in the UK until a year ago was a second cousin of Balaz. He was set upon as he went to buy cigarettes at a pizzeria.

Roma, Olympic Park and Mind

Most cases of murders of Roma in the Czech Republic are dismissed by police as accidents and they have already issued false stories about the victim, claiming he was mentally ill and attacked people. The Roma demand justice and equality for everyone in Czech Republic and the elimination of any double standards of justice. Several of the protesters made speeches in Czech as the letter was presented.

Roma protest Czech Murder


A Walk in the Olympic Park – Stratford

Roma, Olympic Park and Mind

I had several hours between the protest outside the Czech Embassy and a protest in Stratford High Street and decided it was a good occasion to take another walk in the park at Stratford which had been the site of the 2012 London olympic games and to make some more panoramic images.

It was a year since I had been there, and four years since the Olympics and I had hoped to see the park in much better condition than I found it. Considerable progress had been made in the buildings which are shooting up around it and many of the ways into the park are still closed.

I walked around much of the southern area of the park and found it still “largely an arid and alienating space composed mainly of wide empty walkways rather than a park.”

I took rather a lot of pictures, both panoramic and more normal views before it was time to make my way back through the Westfield shopping centre into the centre of Stratford.

Many more pictures at A Walk in the Olympic Park.


Against Mind’s collusion with the DWP – Stratford

Paul Farmer, Mind’s chief executive came out and spoke to the protesters

The Mental Health Resistance Network (MHRN) and Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) came for a Halloween Demo at the national office of mental health charity Mind in Stratford.

They complain that Mind failed to mention the effects of welfare reform, sanctions, or benefit-related deaths in its latest five-year strategy and has dropped its support for the long-running court case aimed at forcing the government to make WCA safer for people with mental health conditions.

Mind’s policy and campaigns manager Tom Pollard had been seconded to work as a senior policy adviser to the DWP and was to start the following day and they demanded the resignation of Mind’s chief executive, Paul Farmer.

Farmer came out to meet the protesters on the pavement and told them that Mind was still working for people with mental health problems and not for the DWP, and that Pollard’s decision had been entirely a personal one in order to gain more insight into the workings of government rather than to assist them in the any discrimination against the disabled.

The protesters were unconvinced and after he had finished speaking several spoke about how local Mind groups were working against the interests of those with mental health problems. They claimed the local managers were often more interested in empire building than in the welfare of benefit claimants.

More pictures at Mind’s collusion with the DWP.


Whitechapel & Illegal Dates

Wednesday, September 27th, 2023

Whitechapel & Illegal Dates; On Saturday 27th September 2014 I went to Whitechapel early to photograph campaigners who were to protest against Sainsbury’s who were selling dates and other goods from illegal Israeli settlements, in defiance of international law. Around two years earlier I had made a panoramic image of part of the new Royal London Hospital which interested me but I felt was not quite what I wanted.

Whitechapel & Illegal Dates

Going back to re-take photographs is often disappointing, with key features having changed, but I think this time I did at least come up with an improvement. This was a more complex panorama than most of those I now make, and needed me to stitch together three separate exposures. It would perhaps be a little better with some slight cropping on the botton edge.

Whitechapel & Illegal Dates

The Royal London Hospital has much great problems, all arising from the poor PFI deal that was used to finance its construction. All PFI schemes have turned out to be a mistake, but this was worse than most and I think has left the hospital group in financial trouble while providing excessive profits to the investors, with payments continuing for many, many years. The contract means they can charge silly prices for necessary services,

Whitechapel & Illegal Dates

After several attempts at producing the picture I wanted I went for a short stroll around the area making a few more panoramic images before it was time to join th protest.

More pictures at By the Royal London.


Sainsbury’s told Stop Selling Illegal Goods – Whitechapel High St

Whitechapel & Illegal Dates

Campaigners from the Tower Hamlets & Jenin Friendship Association held a protest on the high Street close to Sainsbury’s, calling on the store to end selling dates and other goods from illegal Israeli settlements, in defiance of international law.

The protes was part of the international BDS campaign calling for a Boycott of Israeli goods, divestment from Israeli firms and sanctions against Israel until it ends the persecution of Palestinians and comes into line with international law and UN resolutions.

Similar protests earlier outside Co-op stores had led to the company in 2013 stating they would ‘no longer engage with any supplier of produce known to be sourcing from the Israeli settlements’.

The BDS campaign was given added impetus early in 2014 by the disproportionate use of force against the people of Gaza. During the recent Israeli attacks on Gaza over 2,100 Palestinians were killed, roughly 1500 of them civilians, among them over 500 children. 66 Israeli soldiers died, along with 5 Israeli civilians (including one child.) Over 500,000 people – roughly 30% of the population of the Gaza strip were displaced from their homes, and over 17,000 homes made uninhabitable, with over twice that number suffering less severe damage.

The raids also destoryed much of Gaza’s industry, including factories making biscuits, ice cream factory, plastics, sponges, cardboard boxes and plastic bags as well as the main electricity plant. Two sewage pumping stations were damaged, as were the main offices of the largest diary product importer and distributor.

The protesters had several tables on the pavement outside the library on Whitechapel High St ,one selling Palestinian olive oil, almonds and a range of decorated purses etc. Some handed out leaflets and a postcard ‘Sainsbury’s: Taste the Indifference’, while others held banners or collecting signatures for petitions. At intervals people made short speeches about the Palestinian situation and the campaign to get Sainsbury’s to stop selling illegal Israeli goods.

After an hour or so on the busy street, some of the protesters decided it was time to visit Sainsbury’s, just a couple of hundred yards away down a side-street. They folded up their banners and walked down to the store, where Sainsbury’s were ready and waiting for them with extra security on duty, and they were stopped in the very spacious lobby area in front to the store.

Here they opened up their banners and protested for a little over 10 minutes. There were a few moments of some tension, when store employees or security tried to grab one of the banners, but the whole protest and Sainsbury’s response was pretty civilised.

After 12 minutes, a man in casual dress arrived, and after asking the store manager to request the protesters to leave came across and talked with the the protesters, showing them his poolice warrant card and apologising that the police station didn’t have anyone in uniform available to send at the moment.

Having made their point by their protest, they decided to go quietly and a little exultantly back to the High Street, where others had been continuing the protest. Shortly after I decided it was time for me to leave.

Sainsbury’s appears still to refuse to follow its own ethical guidelines and still apparently sells some products from the occupied West Bank and to deal with suppliers who source goods from there, although probably rather less than in 2014. They have claimed not to source goods from the occupied territories but do still deal with wholesalers who deliberately mislable such produce.

Sainsbury’s told Stop Selling Illegal Goods

Workfare, Methodists & Grow Heathrow – 2012

Friday, September 8th, 2023

Workfare, Methodists & Grow Heathrow: Saturday 8th September 2012 was another day of travelling around London, with protests against forced unpaid work for benefit claimants in Camden and Brixton, Ghanaian Methodists celebrating at Victoria and then an open day at Grow Heathrow in Sipson from where a couple of buses took me home.


Day of Action Against Workfare – Camden & Brixton

Boycott Workfare held a UK day of action targeted against charities and shops that take part in the government scheme of forced unpaid work which treats the unemployed as criminals. They also celebrated companies and charities that have withdrawn from the scheme.

Although the scheme is described as voluntary those who refuse to take part or or whose participation is judged unsatisfactory face the loss of some or all of their benefits. Under harsh government targets the number of claimants being sanctioned had increased threefold over two years and in 2012 there were over half a million under sanctions. It’s work for nothing or lose your benefits.

As Boycott Workfare pointed out, the four week Mandatory Work Activity scheme is the equivalent of a medium level community service order – such as might be given to someone found guilty of assault or drunken driving. And while the longest community service order a judge can give is for 300 hours, under some workfare schemes claimants are being forced to work without pay for 780 hours.

Many claimants unable to find paid work do find useful unpaid community activities they can volunteer for – and then are forced to give these up by workfare schemes.

These schemes are supposed to provide work experience than can then lead to actual jobs, but many companies in the schemes use them simply as a source of free labour – which then then be replaced by new free workers when they come to and end of their period. Often there is no possibility of people on the schemes moving into paid work.

Among well known shops and charities making use of this unpaid labour in 2012 were Boots, Argos, Scope, Cancer Research UK, Poundland and British Heart Foundation, and the protests took place in front of a number of their shops. In Brixton protesters handed out leaflets inside Poundland.

Protests against workfare had already had some effect with groups including Burger King, Oxfam, Waterstones, Shelter, 99p Stores, Pizza Hut and Sainsbury’s pulling out from the scheme.

More on My London Diary at Day of Action Against Workfare.


Ghanaian Methodists Celebrate 10 Years – Westminster Cathedral

Celebrations of 10 years of the Ghanaian Methodist Fellowship UK and its 16 churches were to end in a thanksgiving service the following day. On Saturday the met at Westminster Catholic Cathedral and then danced away down Victoria Street towards Methodist Central Hall.

Methodism in the UK tends to be worthy and rather rather less exuberant, though with loud singing of hymns and much drinking of tea. There was a very different atmosphere at these dancing celebrations.

More pictures Ghanaian Methodists Celebrate.


Grow Heathrow Open Day – Sipson

A journey to the end of the Piccadilly line and a short bus ride took me to Sipson where over two years ago Transition Heathrow moved onto the local eyesore and dumping ground of the former Berkeley Nursery site. This was an open day for their Grow Heathrow project.

People had moved onto the site to fight against plans for a third runway at Heathrow, but realised the potential of the site to create a productive alternative off-grid home that would become a creative hub for the area.

They started by clearing the rubbish and getting the local council to take away around 30 tons of it, but much of the material on site was a valuable resource that with a great deal of ingenuity they recycled for there own uses. Many built there own small temporary houses in the wilder areas of the site, though some were still then living in tents. And patched up part-ruined greenhouses and a couple of cabins on the site became communal spaces including a comfortable sitting area, a library and a vistor’s room.

Their activities gained a great deal of support from the local residents and when the site owners gained permission to evict them they were granted leave to appeal on human rights grounds with the judge describing the site as as “much loved and well used” by the local community. The site was open to them and other visitors weekdays from 10am – 6pm and on Sunday afternoons.

There are regular events every week open to anyone, including bicycle workshops, art workshops and gardening, and some of the results were impressive. Were it just a little closer to my home I’d be tempted to come here more often, but although it might be a pleasant place in Summer I think I would miss the comforts of my own home rather too much in winter. The wood-burning shower did look rather draughty even if the water was very hot.

Among firm supporters of Grow Heathrow was local MP John McDonnell who stated “This inspirational project has not only dramatically improved this derelict site but it has lifted the morale of the whole local community in the campaign against the third runway and in planning a sustainable future for our area. We cannot lose this initiative and I will do all I can to enable it to continue.”

And continue it did for some years, surviving a number of legal challenges. Half of the site was reclaimed by bailiffs in 2019, but the final eviction only came in March 2021.

More at Grow Heathrow Open Day.


Al Quds Day march for Jerusalem 2014

Tuesday, July 25th, 2023

Al Quds Day march for Jerusalem: In 2014 the annual Al Quds Day march was held on Friday 25th July and came the day before a major protest close to the Israeli Embassy over attacks by Israeli forces on Gaza which had killed over a thousand Palestinians, mainly civilians.

Al Quds Day march for Jerusalem

I’ve written many times before about these marches which began in Iran in 1979 and is a anti-Zionist protest in solidarity with the Palestinian people and in support of their rights and specifically concerned with the Israeli occupation of East Jerusalem (Al Quds) and the West Bank which followed the 1967 Six-Day War. Israel celebrates this with a national holiday on Jerusalem Day.

Al Quds Day march for Jerusalem

Public events take place across the Arab world, particularly in countries with large Shia Muslim communities and also in London and some cities in Europe and America. Many of these events are organised by groups funded by Iran.

Al Quds Day march for Jerusalem

Critics have often accused the event of being anti-Semitic, but on the various occasions I’ve photographed them there has been little evidence of this. I have seenboyco a few people who have turned up with anti-Semitic slogans on placards being forced to discard them or leave the march by the stewards.

Al Quds Day march for Jerusalem

Although the vast majority of marchers are Muslims there is also a significant number of Jews on the march, most obviously with the ultra-orthodox Neturei Karta Jews carried their usual placards and banners against the Zionist state and condemning the atrocities carried out in its name. They say that Judaism is not a nationalist religion and reject any idea of a Jewish State. But many of the the non-Muslims from various left groups that support the march are also Jewish.

The march in London was fairly large with perhaps 5-10,000 people, including many who had come in coaches from mosques around the country. Many had come with families and some marched together, but mostly men and women marched in separate groups as you can see from my pictures. The women were considerably more colourfully dressed and along with the Neturei Karta – all male – are over-represented in my coverage of the event.

The march calls for Freedom for Palestine and for all oppressed people across the world, and it also calls for a boycott of Israel and an end to Israeli occupation of Palestinian land and Israeli apartheid. And clearly this is an anti-Zionist event, but not anti-Jewish, as one of the chants used by the marchers made clear: ‘Judaism Yes, Zionism No!’.

I left the march as it turned off of Regent Street to make its way to a rally at the US Embassy. By that point there had been no sign of the opposition to the march I had seen in some previous years from Zionist, Iranian freedom, communist and royalist movements and UK right wing fringe groups, but I think there many have been some Zionists waiting to protest against it at the US Embassy.

Many more pictures at Al Quds Day march for Jerusalem.


BP Greenwashing & Benefits Cuts

Friday, May 19th, 2023

BP Greenwashing & Benefits Cuts – Thursday 19th May 2016 – Seven years ago today.


Greenpeace ‘Sinking Cities’ banners at BM/BP show – British Museum

BP Greenwashing & Benefits Cuts

There are some protests which are advertised well in advance and other actions which are kept highly secret with only a small group taking part being in the know. And the action on the opening day of the BP sposored exhibition Sinking Cities at the British Museum was definitely one of the latter.

I heard about it only as I was on my way up to London for another event close by, and detoured slightly to cover it. I live on the edge of London, just inside the M25 and can’t usually respond to ‘breaking news’ as it takes me too long to get there.

BP Greenwashing & Benefits Cuts

Clearly the BP sponsorship of ‘Sinking Cities’ was going to be controversial as there has been a long campaign, particularly by ‘BP or Not BP’ to get the British Museum to end the deal which has allowed BP to ‘greenwash’ their polluting and climate destroying activities, which have significantly contributed to global warming and so to recent floods in cities across the globe.

Greenpeace had come with very professionally produced large banners for ‘Sinking Cities’, naming some of the places which have been flooded recently by global warming induced climate change and had managed to come inside and hang this down the columns across the front of the museum’s Main entrance. At first glance they really looked as if they were a part of the Museum’s own publicity.

BP Greenwashing & Benefits Cuts

It really was impressive, and the Museum had been caught on the hop, reacting in panic they closed the whole museum for the day, dissapointing many who had come. This seemed unnecessary as the museum could simply have closed this front entrance to deal with the climbers and remove the banners. The climbers on the columns were obviously experienced and operating safely and apparently without damage to the museum structure.

It served as rather a good advertising stunt for the show, but of course was rather embarrassing for the sponsors BP which is why the Museum felt it necessary to remove them. Most other major arts organisations in London including the Tate Museums, the Royal Opera House and the National Portrait Gallery had dropped BP as a sponsor following pressure by protests such as these and pressure from artists, musicians and staff who work in them.

‘Sinking Cities’ banners at BM/BP show


No More Deaths from Benefit Cuts – Tottenham Court Rd

BP Greenwashing & Benefits Cuts

I had come to London that morning as delegates at the TUC disabled workers conference led by activists from Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC), Mental Health Resistance Network (MHRN) and Winvisible (Women with visible and invisible disabilities) were to hold a lunchtime protest which I had been invited to photograph.

They came out and marched, led by people in wheelchairs from Congress House to Tottenham Court Road calling for an end to government benefit cuts which have led to the deaths of many disabled people – including 2 DPAC members the previous day.

Two long banners gave the message ‘NO MORE DEATHS FROM BENEFIT CUTS’ and on arriving at Tottenham Court Road they held these across the road stopping traffic in both directions.

Another banner was full of the names of some of those known to have died because of sanctions and cuts in benefits, among them David Clapson, a diabetic ex-soldier who died penniless, alone and starving after being sanctioned. He didn’t even have enough money to keep the refrigerator to store his insulin running.

Another banner asked the question ‘IS THIS HOW 2 TREAT Disabled People?’. The protesters held a short and noisy rally, getting considerably support from many around including many workers also on their lunch breaks. There were a few short speeches before it was time for the protesters to march back for the afternoon session at Congress House, with a police officer arriving just as they were about to leave. As usual he is confused to find that no-one is in charge.

When the Tories got into power, at first in coalition in 2010, they determined they would save money by cutting benefits thinking the disabled would be an easy target. Groups such as DPAC and the others at this event have shown them how wrong they were. These people rely on benefits to live and to have a decent life and have organised and reacted to try to retain them against the government’s attacks.

More at No More Deaths from Benefit Cuts.

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


No To Job Coaches in GP Surgeries – 2016

Saturday, March 4th, 2023

No To Job Coaches in GP Surgeries

On Friday 4th March 2016, campaigners from the Mental Health Resistance Network and DPAC protested outside City Road Surgery where Remploy/Maximus job coaches will “create jobs by prescription.” They say disabled people will be bullied into unsuitable work and lose benefits through sanctions if they refuse – and protest ‘No Job Coaches in GP Surgeries‘.

No To Job Coaches in GP Surgeries

Particularly since the Tories came into power in 2010, disabled people have been systematically attacked with cuts in benefits and unfair tests of fitness for work which have led to many suicides.

No To Job Coaches in GP Surgeries

What should be a supportive system of Job Centres encouraging and helping people find work has increasingly become a vindictive system reducing the benefits to many for often ridiculous, trivial and arbitrary reasons and attempting to force people into unsuitable jobs. Benefit sanctions can leave people without the necessary means to stay alive for months or even years at a time.

In January 2022, people on Universal Credit, either unemployed or on low paid jobs were told they had only four weeks before they had to look for jobs outside the sectors they had previously worked in, and if job centre staff feel they had not tried hard enough or had turned down jobs, however unsuitable, they would have their benefits cut.

And a few days ago, the government announced an incentive scheme awarding £250 monthly prizes to the staff whose Job Centre forces the most claimants into work and forcing claimants who have been on the benefit for thirteen weeks a to attend a job centre every weekday for a fortnight for “intensive support”.

The government clearly believe that the only incentive is cash, while most of us want jobs that we feel are worth doing and have some interest as well as pay enough to live on. Even Job Centre staff are poorly paid and their union dismissed the prize scheme, calling instead for their poverty pay to be increased. But these staff are generally not evil people, and being made by the government to bully people rather than help them must be painful for many of them as well as their clients.

The protest was a creative and colourful piece of street theatre, if sometimes chaotic, with a man dressed as a doctor wearing an Iain Duncan Smith mask and a name label ‘Dr Iain Duncan Smith, Dept of Eugenics‘ handing out prescription forms for a ‘Mr A Scrounger, 17 Lazy House, Sink Estate, Tory Britain‘.

The forms prescribed ‘Endless Job Coaching in Surgery, Major benefits reduction and PRN (‘pro re nata’ – as needed) Regular Sanctions‘ on the basis ‘Continue until complete cure or death‘ from ‘Dr A Lackey, DWP Surgery, c/o Nudge Unit, Tory Headquarters‘.

Then Maximus ‘Job Coaches’ pounced on the patients to issue G4S or Ingeus Deloitte Ltd ‘work cures’ and red ‘Sanctioned’ notices. Perhaps appropriately one of those job coaches was in costume as a squirrel and had a placard reading ‘Nuts to IDS – Squirrels Fight Back’.

There were also some serious speeches, including from a local GP, Roy Bard of MHRN, Paula Peters of DPAC, and Petros Elia, General Secretary of the United Voices of the World trade union who had come with a banner, drummers and plastic horns to add some noise to the protest.

At the end of the protest DPAC led a march down City Road, with police vainly trying to move them onto the pavement.

The march stopped at the busy Old Street roundabout where they held a noisy protest letting all around know why they were protesting for around 20 minutes blocking all traffic while police tried to move them away. Eventually after police began seriously to threaten arrests they decided it was time to end the protest and slowly moved off the street.

Much more on My London Diary at No Job Coaches in GP Surgeries. You can also see some pictures I took later that day at the launch of the re-born International Times at London is on Fire – IT is back.


Disabled Protest at BBC in London

Friday, September 2nd, 2022
Disabled Protest at BBC in London
“Hands OFf” protester Andy Greene tells BBC secuirty

Disabled Protest at BBC in London: On Monday 2nd September 2013 I went with disablement protesters, some in wheelchairs, who were protesting at Broadcasting House in London at the BBC’s failure to report truthfully the effects of government cuts, particularly on the disabled. They blocked the main BBC entrance for an hour, with some locking themselves to the doors.

Disabled Protest at BBC in London
DPAC activists meet in McDonalds near the BBC

The BBC eventually called the police, who arrived not long before the protest was to end, and when they told the police this, the police stood back and watched until they did pack up and leave. Of course the protest was only a minor inconvenience to the BBC as there are alternative entrances which people were able to use.

They join hands before going to the BBC

At one point a BBC TV cameraman turned up who had been asked to film the protesters. I joked with them that perhaps he would be able to sell his footage to ITV news as it was most unlikely that it would be shown by the BBC. And I was correct in that there was no mention of the protest at all on BBC news programmes. Perhaps a few years later the footage might appear in some feature about disabled people.

The protesters took turns in speaking out about the failure of the BBC to report the real hardship caused by ATOS assessments and the withdrawal of benefits, benefit cuts and caps and the bedroom tax. All were fed up with the BBC repeating the lies and half-truths of government and asked why the real problems and numerous deaths from the austerity programme and the protests over these were not being properly reported.

Outside the main BBC entrance

The situation was critical for many poor and disabled people, with over 500,000 having to resort to food banks set up by churches and charities to fend off starvation. The protesters chanted ‘BBC, Tell the Truth’ and requested someone from the BBC to come and discuss the issue with them – but no one would.

They made clear they were not asking for special treatment for the disabled, but for full, accurate and impartial reporting – something the BBC once had a reputation for, but sadly no more.

They were joined by chance by activist comedian Mark Thomas who had been inside the BBC when they arrived. Some had recently met him during his ‘Mass Miracle’ performance outs Atos’s Edinburgh office which had been a part of the previous months Edinburgh fringe. He was persuaded to speak briefly and gave his support to the protest, praising the protesters for coming to make their views known to the BBC.

I have mixed feelings about the BBC which still does produce some fine programmes but also I think has failed in many ways. Although they are supposedly independent they are very much an establishment mouthpiece and they very much work from the point of view of the wealthier parts of our class-ridden society.

BBC Security failed to persuade them to move

Journalist Emily Maitlis has recently spoken out about the ‘Tory cronyism at the heart of the BBC’ and their misguided approach to impartiality which led, for example, to climate deniers being given equal prominence to the huge body of scientific evidence over the extreme dangers of climate change.

Protesters took turns to speak about the effect of the cuts

Maitlis is clearly an accomplished journalist and presenter with a long and successful career. But she was in a very well paid post at the BBC, is married to an investment manager and lives and works in a very different world to the great majority of the British people. At least she was one of relatively few in such positions who was educated at a state school (though certainly not a bog-standard one) before going to Cambridge.

Eventually police arrived – and protesters told them they would leave shortly

But for years it has been clear that we can not rely on the BBC for a comprehensive view of events in the UK and around the world. If you want to be well-informed about what is happening and why you need to look and listen to other sources – including the BBC’s own World Service, and other UK and foreign news services (which often have a very different bias), as well as alternative UK media such as Double Down News, Novara Media and The Canary.

But the BBC has increasingly come under threats from governments who control its purse-strings – if at a slight distance. I don’t pay a licence fee because I don’t view TV but do listen to BBC radio for an hour or two most days, though usually with half and ear while doing other things. The BBC is still much better in many ways than the commercial alternatives and in a different league to those in some other countries – such as the USA.

More pictures at DPAC at BBC – Tell The Truth.


Central Hill, Brian Haw & Al Quds

Saturday, June 18th, 2022

Central Hill, Brian Haw & Al Quds. 18th June 2017 was a Sunday, and though I now prefer to observe Sunday as a day of rest, five years ago it was for me another working day. Since the lockdown I get tired much more quickly and I’m cutting down a bit on work. Today I’ll probably go for a walk with my wife after lunch, stopping off on the way home to sit and eat an ice cream before picking more strawberries from the garden and relaxing a little before dinner.

But back in 2017 I was making good use of a Travelcard, going first to the Central Hill Estate which looks down over London close to Crystal Palace then travelling to Westminster to remember Brian Haw before taking the tube up to Oxford Circus and walking to the BBC to join marchers gathering for the annual Al Quds march.


Ted Knight speaks for Central Hill – Central Hill Estate

Central Hill, Brian Haw & Al Quds
A woman comes to talk to me about living on the estate since it was built

I deliberately arrived very early at Central Hill so I could take a walk around and make more pictures of one of London’s finest council estates, but almost missed the start of the talk I had come to hear opposing Lambeth Council’s plans for its demolition as I spent some time talking with a woman who had seen me taking pictures who was still living in the home she had moved into when the estate was built and had raised her family here. She told me how good it had been living here in a fine home that was still in good condition and had never needed any major repairs.

Central Hill, Brian Haw & Al Quds

Ted Knight, former leader of Lambeth Council, had come to speak in support of the campaign to save the Estate, passed for demolition by the council despite the almost unanimous vote of residents for plans to refurbish rather than demolish and the plans by Architects for Social Housing which would achieve the increase in density desired without demolition.

Central Hill, Brian Haw & Al Quds

Knight as council leader earned the name ‘Red Ted’ from the gutter press for standing up to the Tory Government’s rate-capping 1984 Rent Act which severely limited the spending of local councils – which eventually led to him and 31 other councillors being surcharged and banned from political office for five years in 1986. He remained an active trade unionist and in the Labour Party and when he spoke was Branch Chair of the Gypsy Hill ward which includes Central Hill. Although his politics and mine were not entirely the same, I was sad to hear of his death in 2020.

As Knight said, under borough architect Ted Hollamby the estate was planned by Rosemary Stjernstedt as a living community and had remained remarkably successful, with a number of original residents from the 1970s still living there and wanting to continue to do so. At that time Labour believed that nothing was too good for the working people and the estate was built to high specifications and is still in sound condition. A deliberate process of managed neglect – like that which had resulted in the Grenfell Tower disaster had – had been carried out by Lambeth Council to legitimise its demolition.

Lambeth council now refuse to allow the community to use the resource centre

Although the meeting was poorly attended, surveys of estate residents have shown a very high proportion of residents want to remain on the estate and oppose the demolition. The council quotes very different figures and its response to feedback from estate residents has been to remove the estate representatives from the consultative body.

Faults in the paving are marked but left without repair

Lambeth Council has also ridiculously inflated the estimate for the refurbishment of the estate and rejected without proper consideration a carefully planned alternative scheme for a much cheaper limited infill of the site rather than demolition which would involve far, far less disruption to the families who live here and also result in the retention of much-needed social housing. The only real problem with the alternative scheme proposed by Architects for Social Housing is that it would not generate excessive profits for the developers.

Ted Knight speaks for Central Hill


Brian Haw remembered – Parliament Square

This was the sixth anniversary of the death of peace campaigner Brian Haw who had made a ten-year political stand against war in Parliament Square despite considerable harassment by police urged on by politicians, laws introduced against his and other protests, Westminster Council officials and almost certainly MI5 agents.

Brian Haw began his camp here on 2 June 2001, and remained in place despite many attempts, legal and otherwise to remove him for almost 10 years, leaving only when arrested, for court appearances and to speak at protests at Trafalgar Square and Downing St until 1 January 2011 when he left England to receive treatment for his lung cancer in Berlin. He died in Germany in the early hours of 18 June 2011.His ten years of protest and the frequent and repeated harassment undoubtedly hastened his decline and death.

His protest in Parliament square was continued by Barbara Tucker who had joined him in 2005 and had been imprisoned twice for her role in the protest and arrested 48 times. The level of harassment increased and she went on hunger strike on 31st December 2012. Late in January 2013 she was taken into hospital close to death, and was treated for frostbite and exposure. Her protests continued on-line.

Brian Haw remembered


Al Quds march – BBC to US Embassy

Several thousands came from around the country for the annual Al Quds (Jerusalem) Day march in London. Organised by a Quds committee with the Islamic Human Rights Commission it was supported by various groups including the Stop the War Coalition, Muslim Association of Britain and Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods. At the front of the march were a group of Imams and Neturei Karta anti-Zionist Jews.

The march called for ‘Freedom for Palestine’ and for all oppressed peoples across the world. It supports of the BDS campaign for a boycott of Israel Israeli goods, divestment from companies supporting Israel and sanctions against the Israeli state. It demands that Israel ends its breaches of international law and its oppression of the Palestinian people in what is an apartheid system, and ends its siege and attacks on Gaza.

Zionists oppose the march with a protest close to the final rally at the US Embassy, but a small militant group carrying Israeli flags attempted to stop the march on its route, calling those taking part supporters of the banned terrorist group Hezbollah.

A number of the marchers were holding Hezbollah flags, which carried a message indicating they were supporting Hezbollah as a political organisation – it is one of two main parties representing Shia Muslims, Lebanon’s largest religious group – as a part of national unity governments in the Lebanese parliament.

Police seemed very reluctant to move the Zionists off the road in front of the march which was held up for some time, with marchers simply waiting for the police to clear them. After some time the the marchers held their planned minute of silence for the Grenfell Tower victims before getting up and telling police that unless the police cleared the road they would simply push them aside and march through.

The Al Quds day march is very much a family event but with the numbers involved the march stewards would clearly have been able to do so and the statement did galvanise the police into action, and the march was able to move on slowly.

The event organisers make it very clear that this is not an anti-Semitic event, and I think one or two placards which might have suggested this were rapidly removed by stewards. In 2019 Home Secretary Sajid Javid decided to proscribe Hezbollah’s political wing as well as the military wing which had been proscribed in 2008, so showing any support for Hezbollah would be an offence carrying a sentence of up to 10 years in prison.

Al Quds march
Zionists protest Al Quds Day March