Posts Tagged ‘Sikhs’

UEFA gets a Red Card for Israel – 2013

Friday, May 24th, 2024

UEFA gets a Red Card for Israel – On Friday 24th May 2013 UK campaigners met those who had arrived by Eurostar at St Pancras to march to the Mayfair hotel where UEFA was holding its annual congress. They demanded it to kick out Israel and protested against the UEFA under-21 men’s football final being held in Israel in June 2013.

UEFA gets a Red Card for Israel

The event was organised by the London-based Red Card Israeli Racism Campaign founded by members of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Friends of al-Aqsa and Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods and followed protests at UEFA’s Swiss offices following a letter signed by 52 leading players deploring Israel ’s attacks on Gaza.

UEFA gets a Red Card for Israel

Previously the Red Card campaign had led protests over the detention of Palestinian footballer Mahmoud Sarsak detained without charge in 2009 while travelling from Gaza to a new club on the West Bank. He lost almost half his body mass in a 3 month hunger strike and was only finally released in July 2012 after appeals from the international professional footballers association FIFPro, Eric Cantona, Frédéric Kanouté and the presidents of EUFA and FIFA, as well as others from outside football.

UEFA gets a Red Card for Israel

Israel’s participation in international football has long been controversial, and in 1974 they were expelled from the Asian Football Confederation of which they had been a founder member when several nations refused to play against them. They became a full member of UEFA in 1994. In February 2024 UEFA turned down demands from 12 Middle East Nations to suspend Israel from international competitions.

UEFA gets a Red Card for Israel

International football is clearly a political football. And Israel’s team have clearly demonstrated their intention to use it as such when captain Eli Dasa held up a small sports shoe of a missing child hostage and talked about it ahead of a Euro 2024 qualifier against Switzerland.

The Palestinian Football Association called in April on FIFA/UEFA to suspend Israel from international competition and are asking other FAs to join them. FIFA is carrying out a legal assessment before it makes a decision on whether to agree to Palestine’s call to suspend the Israeli federation over the war in Gaza was repeated a few days ago at FIFA’s congress in Bangkok.

PFA president Jibril Rajoub was quoted by the BBC as saying “How much more must the Palestine football family suffer for FIFA to act with the same severity and urgency as it did in other cases?” and others have also accused FIFA and UEFA of double standards.

As a petition by some football fans calling on the English FA to support the suspension of Israel states: “It took FIFA/UEFA less than one week to ban Russia from international competition following the invasion of Ukraine. Apartheid South Africa was suspended from FIFA for ten years before being expelled in 1976 and was only permitted to re-join in 1992 as the apartheid regime was dismantling. In that same year, the Yugoslavia national team was suspended by FIFA from international competition as a part of UN-led sanctions against the former state during the Balkans war.

Palestinian footballer and former hunger striker Mahmoud Sarsak

You can read an account of the May 2013 march and the static protest outside the hotel in Park Lane on My London Diary with many more pictures. One of the speakers at this was former hunger striker Mahmoud Sarsak and he received a huge welcome and “the couple of hundred people present really sounded like a rather larger football crowd.”

UEFA gets a Red Card for Israel.

Don’t hang Prof Bhullar!

Also on Friday 24th May 2013 I photographed a protest by Sikhs at the Indian High Commission against the intended hanging of Professor Devender Pal Singh Bhullar who had then served 18 years on death row following his conviction for involvement in a car bomb in Delhi. His conviction was based on a confession based on torture in police custody. The Indian Supreme Court commuted his sentence to life imprisonment in March 2014. More on My London Dairy at Don’t hang Prof Bhullar!.

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DPAC – Stop & Scrap Universal Credit – 2018

Thursday, April 18th, 2024

DPAC – Stop & Scrap Universal Credit: A couple of days ago the media were carrying news of a report by the Resolution Foundation on the working of the Universal Credit benefit first introduced in 2013. This found that seven in 10 (71%) families on UC were worse off in real terms now than they would have been under the previous benefits, and that out of work people with disabilities were those likely to have lost most.

DPAC - Stop & Scrap Universal Credit

Six years ago, DPAC were already pointing this out and on Wednesday 18th April 2018 campaigners from DPAC (Disabled People Against Cuts), MHRN (Mental Health Resistance Network), Black Triangle, Winvisible and others began a nationwide day of action against Universal Credit in London with a rally in Old Palace Yard and a protest inside Parliament.

DPAC - Stop & Scrap Universal Credit

Security meant I was unable to cover their protest inside the Houses of Parliament but I met those who had been protesting inside when they came out to join those protesting outside and held a rally in Old Palace Yard.

DPAC - Stop & Scrap Universal Credit

As that rally ended the campaigners marched into Parliament Square where they blocked the roadway for around half an hour before ending their protest.

DPAC - Stop & Scrap Universal Credit

DPAC and others say that Universal Credit has so many flaws it must be scrapped, calling it “an economic and political disaster bringing further distress and impoverishment to those forced to endure it“.

Back in 2018 they pointed out it has been particularly disastrous for disabled people. The removal of Severe and Enhanced Disability Premiums means single disabled people lose around £2,000 per year and a disabled couple over £4,000.

There have been some changes in Universal Credit since 2018, but these have mainly been administrative and have not affected the basic unfairness towards the disabled. The Resolution Foundation report suggests that a single person with a long-term disability which prevents them from working would now be £2,800 per year worse off than under the old benefits system.

Their report suggests overall cost of Universal Credit in 2028 will be about £86bn a year, while under the previous system it would have been £100bn, a saving of £14bn, which is being made to the cost of those disabled and others out of work – the poorest groups in our society. In contrast those working and also claiming UC will be a little better off than under to previous benefits system.

As always police found dealing with disabled protesters difficult. It doesn’t look good to be harassing them in the way they would normally act to protesters, and they have a great problem in making arrests of people in wheel chairs or on mobility vehicles. Apparently the Met have only one vehicle which can safely carry either – and only in limited numbers, perahps one at a time.

More about the protet and more pictures on My London Diary at Stop & Scrap Universal Credit say DPAC.

As well as this protest there was also a large protest in Parliament Square by Kashmiris and Indians from many sections of the community including Tamils, Sikhs, Ravidass, Dalits, Muslims and others against the visit by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and smaller groups supporting him and his ultra-right Hindu supremacist policies.
Indians protest President Modi’s visit
Hindus support Modi
Save Girl, Educate Girl

And in late afternoon I went to join Environmental group Biofuelwatch holding their ‘Time to Twig’ Masked Ball Forest Flashmob outside the Marylebone hotel where the largest international biomass conference was taking place.
‘Time to Twig’ Masked Ball

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25 Years Ago – April 1999

Wednesday, April 17th, 2024

25 Years Ago – April 1999. When I began posting on my web site My London Diary I decided that the posts would begin from the start of 1999, and there are still image files I created in January of that year on line, though I think they probably only went live on the web a few months later.

25 Years Ago - April 1999
The Millennium Dome seen across the River Thames from Blackwall DLR station, one of a series of medium format urban landscape images.

In those early days of the site there was very little writing on it (and relatively few pictures) with most pictures just posted with minimal captions if any.

25 Years Ago - April 1999
Burnt out cars at Feltham on the edge of London, stolen and wrecked on waste land by youths.

A single text on the introductory page for the year 1999 explained my rather diffuse intentions for the site as follows (I’ve updated the layout and capitalisation.)

What is My London Diary? A record of my day to day wanderings in and around London, camera in hand and some of my comments which may be related to these – or not

Things I’ve found and perhaps things people tell me. If I really knew what this site was I wouldn’t bother to write it. It’s London, it’s part of my life, but mainly pictures, arranged day by day, ordered by month and year.

My London Diary 1999

25 Years Ago - April 1999
Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, Archbishop of Westminster (left) takes part with Anglican and Methodist clergy in the annual Good Friday Procession of Witness on Victoria St, Westminster.
25 Years Ago - April 1999

In the years following My London Diary expanded considerably, gradually adding more text about the events I was covering but retaining the same basic structure. Had I begun it a few years later it would have used a blogging platform – such as WordPress on which this blog runs, but in 1999 blogging was still in its infancy and My London Diary was handcoded html – with help from Dreamweaver and more recently BlueGriffon, now sadly no longer.

25 Years Ago - April 1999
Man holding a placard at a protest against Monsanto’s genetically modified crops.

My London Diary continued until Covid brought much of my new photography to a standstill and stuttered briefly back to life after we came out of purdah. But by then my priorities had changed, and although I am still taking some new photographs and covering rather more carefully selected events my emphasis has switched to bringing to light the many thousands of largely unseen pictures taken on film in my archives, particularly through posting on Flickr. Since March 2020 I’ve uploaded around 32,000 pictures and have had over 12 million views there, mainly of pictures I made between 1975 and 1994. The images are at higher resolution than those on my various web sites.

121 Street Party, Railton Rd, Brixton. 10th April 1999 121 was a squatted self-managed anarchist social centre on Railton Road in Brixton from 1981 until 1999.

Since I moved to digital photography My London Diary has put much of my work online, though more recent work goes into Facebook albums (and much onto Alamy.) My London Diary remains online as a low resolution archive of my work.

Sikhs celebrate 300 Years of Khalsa – Southall. 11th April 1999

April 1999 was an interesting month and all the pictures in this post come from it. I’ve added some brief captions to the pictures.

No War on Iraq protest – Hyde Park, 17 April 1999 President Bill Clinton was threatening to attack Iraq to destroy its capability to produce nuclear weapons. Operation Desert Fox, a four day air attack, came in December 1999
Southall Remembers Blair Peach – Southall. 24th April 1999. Blair Peach, a teacher in East London was murdered by police while protesting a National Front meeting in Southall in 1979.

Stockley Park – one of a series of panoramic landscapes of developments in London – this is a major office park with some outstanding architecture

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EDL Saved by Police in Slough – 2014

Thursday, February 1st, 2024

EDL Saved by Police in Slough: Ten years ago today around two hundred EDL supporters had come from around the country to march to a rally in the centre of Slough on Saturday 1st February 2014, sparked by plans to convert a failed social club on the outskirts of Slough to be used as a mosque and Islamic centre.

EDL Saved by Police in Slough

Their protest was opposed by a much larger counter-protests by black clad anti-fascist groups, the UAF and trade unionists, a large group of local mainly Asian youths and other local residents. Police had to clear a route for the EDL march with charges by police horses and with riot police with raised batons, and also protect them from having to run for their lives from angry counter-protesters to allow their rally to proceed. A large police presence seperated them from a rally by the UAF and trade unionists a short distance away.

EDL Saved by Police in Slough

Langley Village Club on Cheviot Road, Langley ceased trading in 2013 and was bought by Dawat-e-Islami who gained planning permission to convert it into an Islamic community and teaching centre and place of worship, Faizon-E-Madina.

EDL Saved by Police in Slough

Langley is on the eastern outskirts of Slough just north of the M4 and A4 and the small medieval village became a major manufacturing ventre, at first for building the Hawker Hurricane and other fighters during and after the war including the Hawker Hunter. When Hawker Siddeley left in 1959 the entire site was taken over by the Ford Motor Company who had been making parts for commercial vehicles there since 1949. The club was a part of the large estates that grew up here in the 1960s and 70s to house the workers in these and other factories around Slough and at Heathrow.

EDL Saved by Police in Slough

Some local residents had objected to the change of use, in particular fearing it might generate large volumes of traffic, although it is a relatively small building and the planning permission imposed a limit of 300 people at events there. The area now has a fairly high number of Muslims living within walking distance of the centre and the charity argued that the 35 parking places on site were sufficient, though the planning committee was not convinced.

The opposition to the plans by the EDL were not largely about parking but Islamophobia. EDL leaflets talked about “the disturbing proliferation of poorly regulated mosques” and linked the protest with its actions to highlight the activities of “vile grooming gangs“; they alleged that residents living around other mosques have been “driven to anger, tears and despair” because of the mosques, and suggested that the centre will “antagonise, perhaps even terrorise, local residents.”

They also claimed that Dawat-e-Islami “overtly supported the assassination of Pakistani politician Salmaan Taseer by Mumtaz Qadri, a member of the organisation who disagreed with Taseer’s opposition to Pakistan’s blasphemy law.”

They raised other local issues too, including the setting up of a Muslim faith-based school under the Free Schools programme which opened in September 2015 as Eden Girl’s School. Many others -including probably most of those who came to protest against the EDl would agree with there opposition to this, some opposed to all faith-based schools and those who oppose the whole divisive approach of ‘Free Schools’, agreeing as I do with the teacher’s union NUT (now NEU) that “We believe it is wrong that state funding should be given to small groups of individuals to run schools that are unaccountable to their local communities.”

I don’t visit Slough often, although I live only a few miles away – though it takes a while on the bus. I arrived a couple of hours before the EDL rally was due to start and was able to photograph and talk with the EDL about their protest for some time before a few of them objected to my presence.

The pictures on My London Dairy at EDL Saved by Police in Slough and my account there give a very full account of what happened and I won’t repeat it here. Slough is one of the UK’s most ethnically diverse towns and its industries have brought people to it from across the country and around the world since the 1920s. The population of the borough is now over 150,000 and the various communities seem largely to live together with few problems.

According to Wikipedia, “the 2011 census showed that 41.2% of Slough’s population identified as Christian, 23.3% as Muslim, 10.6% as Sikh, 6.2% as Hindu, 0.5% as Buddhist, 0.1% as Jewish, 0.3% as having other religions” and Slough has the highest proportion of Sikh residents of any town in the country and “the highest percentage of Muslim and Hindu residents in the South East region.”

Much more about what happened along with many more pictures at EDL Saved by Police in Slough.

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Knife Crime & 1984 Sikh Genocide

Saturday, June 3rd, 2023

Five years ago today on Saturday 3rd June 2018 I photographed two events in London, beginning with a protest opposite Downing Street by campaigners against gun and knife crime and moving on to an annual march remembering the 1984 Indian Army attack on the Golden Temple in Amritsar where thousands of Sikhs were massacred, and the Indian government encouraged mob killings of Sikhs across the country following the assassination of Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards later in the year.

Anti-Knife UK protest – Downing St

Knife Crime & 1984 Sikh Genocide

The event was organised by Anti-Knife UK, founded by Danny O’Brien in 2008 which monitors knife crime incidents from across the UK on a daily basis. 2008 had been a particularly bad year for the murder of teenagers on London’s streets, with 29 deaths, and thought the numbers had gone down until 2012 when there were 9 such deaths by 2017 they back up to 27.

Knife Crime & 1984 Sikh Genocide

All of these deaths are tragedies for the teenagers and their families, and the numbers of crimes involving knives across England and Wales is huge – now over 45,000, though many of those are for possession of knives – and the total number of deaths is the year ending march 2022 was 261.

Knife Crime & 1984 Sikh Genocide

Many of those at the protest were bereaved family members and their supporters and were wearing t-shirts or holding placards with photographs of the knife victims and pairs of empty shoes as well as banners.

Knife Crime & 1984 Sikh Genocide

Speakers called for measures to tackle the problem including tougher sentences, tagging of all knives, knife arches in night clubs, equal rights for victims and families, a review of the laws governing self-defence and reasonable force and work in schools and communities.

More pictures at Anti-Knife UK protest.

Sikhs remember the 1984 genocide

I went to meet a large crowd of Sikhs at a rally in Hyde Park before the march, sitting on the grass. It was 24 degrees in London, and without any shade I was far too hot. Few of the speeches were in English, but many of the placards were and others graphically made their message clear.

Sikhs were badly treated by the British at the time of partition which divided the country up between the Hindus and Muslims, with millions of people having to flee across the borders of the new states and millions were terribly killed in doing so. Sikhs had called for an independent Sikh state in the Punjab, but most were simply lumped in, along with Buddhists and Jains with Hindu dominated India, although large numbers also remained in the part of the Punjab which had been designated as Muslum Pakistan.

Although there were large numbers of Sikhs across the Punjab before partition were still a minority population and they were not united in their demands for an independent state of Khalistan. Althugh they would probably have been better joining Pakistan, their cultural ties to Hinduism as well as a history of persecution by Muslims led them to instead unite with India. Many Sikh leaders had been involved with the Indian Congress Party which had made them promises about their position in India where the are less than 1% of the population but these were never kept.

The idea of a separate Khalistan became talked about more widely particularly in the diaspora in the 1970s, with the movement in Punjab led by Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale advocating an autonomous state within India. The movement had become increasingly militant with a number of armed supporters, setting up in 1982 what Wikipedia describes as ‘what amounted to a “parallel government” in Punjab‘.

In June 1984, the Indian Army launched Operation Blue Star to remove Bhindranwale and his armed followers from the Golden Temple complex in Amritsar, killing Bhindranwale and large number of his supporters as well as many civilians as the temple was packed with pilgrims. The figures for deaths are disputed but probably between 5-7,000, with around 700 of the Indian army also dying.

In 2018 I commented “Since this 1984 Sikh genocide there has been a continuing program of police arrests, torture and killing of Sikh males in the Punjab and crippling economic and social policies. Sikhs demand independence from India and a Sikh state, Khalistan.”

After the rally the march set off, led by Sikh standard bearers and five Khalsa representing the Five Blessed Ones or Panj Pyare holding swords and walking barefoot in their orange robes and followed by several thousand Sikhs with flags, placards and banners. I talked with them past Marble Arch and down to Hyde Park Corner where I left them going down Piccadilly towards another rally at the end of the march in Trafalgar Square.

You can see many more pictures and captions describing the event on My London Diary at Sikhs remember the 1984 genocide.

Death Penalty, Social Housing, Iraqi Killing and a Pillow Fight

Thursday, April 6th, 2023

Death Penality, Social Housing, Iraqi Killing and a Pillow Fight: Ten years ago on Saturday 6th April 2013 I photographed a Sikh vigil against the death penalty in India, a protest against the unfair ‘Bedroom Tax’ and benefit caps and demanding more social housing, Iranians calling for an enquiry into Iraqi attacks on Camp Liberty and finally a pillow fight.

Vaisakhi “Save a Live” Vigil – Old Palace Yard, Westminster

Death Penalty, Social Housing, Iraqi Killing and a Pillow Fight

Thousands of protesters, mainly Sikh men, women and children came to Old Palace Yard opposite the Houses of Parliament to back the Kesri Lehar vigil against the death penalty in India.

Death Penalty, Social Housing, Iraqi Killing and a Pillow Fight

The Kesri Lehar or ‘I Pledge Orange’ campaign, takes its name from the colour which stands for sacrifice in the Indian flag and is also the colour of the Sikh flag and the dress worn by baptised Sikhs which makes Vaisakhi such a colourful festival. It began as on-line campaign by US-based Sikhs for Justice. Most of those attending the protest wore orange turbans or scarves to show their support for the campaign.

Death Penalty, Social Housing, Iraqi Killing and a Pillow Fight

There were then around 480 prisoners in Indian jails sentenced to death, and protesters feared that some were about to be hanged. These included Balwant Singh Rajoana, sentenced in 2007 for his part in a suicide bomb attack which had killed a former Chief Minister of Punjab, Beant Singh and 17 others in 1995. He remains in jail in 2023.

Death Penality, Social Housing, Iraqi Killing and a Pillow Fight

A large group from Derby had come in support of Professor Devender Pal Singh Bhullar who has been on death row in India for 18 years, for his alleged involvement in a car bomb in Delhi. His sentence was commuted to life imprisonment in 2014.

Sikhs were poorly treated when India and Pakistan were granted independence in 1947, with their homeland area being split across the border and most of those in jail are activists for an independent Sikh state of Khalistan. The India government has carried out a determined policy to stamp out Sikh separatists and Beant Singh who was assassinated is held by Siks to have been responsible for the extra-judicial killing of over 25,000 Sikh civilians during his period of office.

More at Vaisakhi “Save a Live” Vigil.

No to Bedroom Tax & Benefit Caps – Downing St

Death Penalty, Social Housing, Iraqi Killing and a Pillow Fight

The Counihan-Sanchez Family Housing Campaign from Kilburn organised a protest opposite Downing St against the unfair Bedroom tax and benefit caps which are effecting so many people and called for the GLA and London councils to build more social housing.

They and others spoke at the campaign about the problems in getting councils to provide proper housing, and the failures of our benefits system which leave many destitute and some desperate enough to kill themselves.

As I commented, “The huge housing problems in London come from the failure over the past thirty years to provide social housing for the many low paid workers that support the city and keep it running, with a housing benefit system that has simply acted as a subsidy for private landlords and driven up rents. The cap on benefit will do nothing to solve the problem, but just make life difficult or impossible for the poorest in our society. We need more social housing and an end to poverty pay and of course more jobs.

Ten years on things are certainly no better. Further changes in benefits including the move to Universal Credit have increased problems for many, local authority budgets have been further cut and the cost of living crisis has hit many more people. We do have more food banks, but many of these are finding it hard to cope with demand.

More at No to Bedroom Tax & Benefit Caps.

PMOI Protest Iraqi killings – Downing St

Also protesting at Downing Street were the People’s Mujahedin of Iran (PMOI). They called for an enquiry into the Iraqi attacks on Camp Liberty in February and previous attacks which have killed and injured many of them.

The PMOI, also known as the Mojahedin-e-Khalq (MEK) was founded in 1965 and took part in the 1979 Iranian revolution which deposed the Shah. Soon after they were in armed struggle with the Islamic Revolutionary Guards and had to take refuge in neighbouring Iraq, where Saddam Hussein gave it refuge.

During the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq they agreed a ceasefire with the US and gave up their arms – which included 19 Chieftain tanks – and became the majority in the Iranian parliament in exile, the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), with its base in Paris.

In Iraq the roughly 5000 MEK fighters were confined in the refugee Camp Ashraf, guarded by the US military and declared by the US as protected persons under the Fourth Geneva Convention. The camp was transferred to Iraqi control at the start of 2009, and in 2012 those remaining were transferred to the former US military base Camp Liberty in Bagdhad, renamed Camp Hurriya.

There had been many attacks by Iraqis on these camps, with deaths, injuries and arrests. In the most recent on 9th Febuary 2013, Iraqi mortars and rockets killed at least seven MEK members. The MEK has appealed to the UN Secretary General and the US for help and was at Downing Street to ask the UK government for support.

PMOI Protest Iraqi killings

Feathers Fly in Trafalgar Square – Trafalgar Square

This had been designated World Pillow Fight day by the urban playground movement and this pillow fight was one of around 90 such events in cities around the world.

The urban playground movement aims to make cities into more public and social spaces by encouraging unique happenings like this pillow fight. It aims to help people move away from “passive, non-social, branded consumption experiences like watching television” and to consciously reject “the blight on our cities caused by the endless creep of advertising into public space.” They hope this will result in “a global community of participants, not consumers.

Despite once company bringing a team of young women and handing out prominently branded free pillows, this remained large an unbranded event, and hundreds turned up with their own pillows and cushions to take part.

An earlier pillow fight had been planned for Hyde Park, but relatively few people had turned up and park police were able to prevent it taking place. But the numbers here – over 500 – made it impossible to stop. As well as the participants there were rather more who simply stood and watched. Which went against the spirit of the event, meant to be something to take part in rather than a spectacle.

It started on time and a great deal of fun was certainly being had, with some at least of those taking part adhering to the ‘rule’ not to attack photographers. At first the air was clear, but then pillows began to break up and more and more feathers filled the air. After half an hour there was a brief break and then the fight recommenced, but I left for a nearby pub where the air was clearer.

Feathers Fly in Trafalgar Square

Southall – Britain’s Holy City – 2005

Saturday, October 1st, 2022

Southall - Britain's Holy City - 2005

Seventeen years ago I was fortunate to be able to go on a tour of the Sri Guru Singh Sabha Gurdwara, opened in 2003 and said to be the largest Sikh temple (Gurdwara) in Europe and the fourth largest in the world, led by one of the Sikh volunteer guides and the architect, Richard Adams of Architects Co-Partnership.

Southall - Britain's Holy City - 2005

The tour had been organised by art and urban historian Mireille Galinou for the group London Arts Café, and was one of a series of interesting events and exhibitions between 1996 and 2007, which you can still read about on the rather messy London Arts Café web site that I was responsible for, though the front page of this makes very clear that the London Arts Café is no more. The site remains on line as a record of its activities.

Southall - Britain's Holy City - 2005

Architects Co-Partnership had won an open competition to design the building, and Adams had worked fully with the Sikh community to produce a building suited to their needs. It does so impressively: clean simple surfaces, powerful colour in the windows and light streaming into the central stairway and lobby from the large window and glass roof areas.

The Gurdwara has a vast prayer hall officially capable of seating up to 3,000 people, a fine marriage room (and two years later I photographed one of my wife’s colleagues getting married here), and various other facilities including a Langar (dining hall). This free community kitchen can serve over 20,000 vegetarian meals on a festival weekend.

The building had a powerfully religious atmosphere, and on entering we removed our shoes, covered our heads with scarves provided and washed our hands before continuing into the temple.

As we went around both our Sikh guide and the architect explained how the building served the basic Sikh tenets of service, humility and equality. The guide explained the spiritual guidance from the Sri Guru Granth Sahib, religious writings which were appointed as spiritual head of the Sikh religion by Guru Gobind Singh around three hundred years ago.

The building was extremely impressive, and there was a great atmosphere to in the community kitchen where volunteers, mainly women, were working together to prepare the free vegetarian meals. Although normally I would have sat to eat on the floor in the traditional way, a rather painful knee made it easier for me to stand and eat at one of the tables along with most of our group.

The food is free, but in return people are expected or welcomed to perform some service to the temple in thanks or give an donation which we gladly did. The meal was delicious and made a good end to a most interesting visit.

I ended my account on My London Diary:

Southall is now Britain’s Holy City, apparently with places of worship for over 50 religions or denominations. Brother Daniel Faivre’s ‘Glimpses Of A Holy City’ published in 2001 after more than 20 years of living in Southall gives a good insight into some of this diversity.

We didn’t on this occasion visit any of these others, but did go for a short walk before catching our bus home, going into the Christian cemetery opposite the Gurdwara and some streets around for some views of the building’s exterior, as well as some local views.

I’d visited Southall before to photograph some of the religious festivals – both Sikh and Hindu – in the town and there are pictures of some of these on My London Diary, as well as pictures from Vaisakhi celebrations here and in Hounslow, Slough, Woolwich, East Ham, Gravesend and Sikh protests in central London. You can find these by searching on My London Diary.

More pictures on My London Diary.

Sri Guru Singh Sabha Gurdwara 2005

Friday, October 1st, 2021

Sixteen years ago on Saturday 1st October 2005 I was fortunate to be able to go with friends from the now long defunct London Arts Café on a visit to the Sri Guru Singh Sabha Gurdwara completed in Southall in 2003 with the building’s architect Richard Adams of Architect Co-Partnership and one of the Sikh volunteer guides. The temple, built with over £17m of local donations was said to be the largest in the western hemisphere, intended to be “a temple second only to the Golden Temple in Amritsar, with a life expectancy of a minimum of 100 years“.

The architects had won the commission in open competition and working with the Sikh community and had produced what I described as “a building suited to their needs, and it does so impressively:clean simple surfaces, powerful colour in the windows and light streaming into the central stairway and lobby from the large window and glass roof areas.” I hope my pictures convey something of this.

Here’s some of the text I wrote about the visit at the time, when I was posting entirely in lower case:

the sri guru singh sabha gurdwara serves the community, both for workship and for other needs. as well as a vast prayer hall officially capable of seating up to 3,000 people (and actually holding rather more at major festivals) there is a fine marriage room, and various other facilities including a langar (dining hall); this free community kitchen can serve over 20,000 vegetarian meals over a festival weekend.

the gurdwara had a powerfully religious atmosphere. on entering we followed the customary practice of removing our shoes, covering our heads with the scarves provided and washing our hands before commencing our visit. at various points both our guide and the architect explained how the building served the basic sikh tenets of service, humility and equality, and also the spiritual guidance from the sri guru granth sahib, the religious writings which are were appointed as spiritual head of the sikh religion, the eternal guru, by guru gobind singh around three hundred years ago.

although the architecture and the prayer hall in particular were impressive, what made the strongest impression on me was the kitchen, especially the team of women working together. the food was excellent, a real pleasure to eat, although my still rather painful knee made it easier for me to stand and eat at one of the tables rather than in the traditional manner seated on the floor. although food is free, those eating may perform some service to the temple in thanks for their food, or give an donation of some kind, which we gladly did.

southall is now britain’s holy city, apparently with places of worship for over 50 religions or denominations. brother daniel faivre’s ‘glimpses of a holy city’ published in 2001 after more than 20 years of living in southall gives a good insight into some of this diversity.

More pictures on My London Diary.

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.

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.

1984 Remembered

Tuesday, June 8th, 2021

Every year around the 8th June, Sikhs march in London to remember the 1984 destruction at the Golden Temple in Amritsar. The Soviet government forged documents in 1982 to show that Sikh militants were getting CIA support for their plans to establish an independent Sikh state of Khalistan in the Punjab and these were taken seriously by Indian intelligence services and prime minister Indira Gandhi, who on June 1st 1984 sent in the Indian Army in Operation Blue Star, attacking scores of Sikh temples across the Punjab.

On 3rd June Indian forces surrounded the Golden Temple in Amritsar where many of the militants who were well armed had taken refuge, along with thousands of pilgrims who were there for the anniversary of the death of the fifth guru, Arjan Dev Ji. The siege lasted several days and many were killed, mostly pilgrims who had been allowed by the army to enter on the 3rd June but not allowed to leave later that day. As they secured the Temple, the army carried out many executions of those they detained and fired on men and women as they were trying to follow army orders to leave.

Acoording to Rajiv Gandhi, around 700 Indian Army soldiers were killed in the attack, although the official figure was 83. There are also huge discrepancies between the official figures of those who died inside the Temple, with an official figure of 554 casualties and independent estimates of 18-20,000.

Many Sikhs resigned from official positions and soldiers left the Indian Army after this assault on their religion, and five months later Indira Gandhi was assassinated by her Sikh bodyguards in an act of revenge. This in turn led to anti-Sikh riots in which thousands of Sikhs were killed.

Many Sikhs still continue to call for an independent Sikh homeland, Khalistan, combining parts of the Punjab in both India and Pakistan that were severed at partition in 1947 when the whole area was divided between the two and Sikhs, along with other minorities were sidelined. Both political and military activities continue as does their repression by the Indian government, with many Sikhs held in Indian prisons, some under threat of hanging.

Feelings still run very high, and in 2013 four Sikhs were found guilty of attacking one of the generals who led the attack on the Temple, long retired and on holiday in London with his wife. Police have often taken a very keen interest in the annual march and prevented people from carrying some placards and posters which support the proscribed organisation Babbar Khalsa. The pictures here are from the march on Sunday 8th June 2014, which I left as the last of the protesters went down Park Lane on their way to a rally in Trafalgar Square

Sikhs march for Truth, Justice & Freedom

Protest Against Egypt Death Sentences

Also taking place on Sunday 8th June 2014 was a protest against the the 1,212 death sentences imposed on Islamists in Egypt, which was taking place as the new Egyptian president, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, was sworn in. These included 529 members of the Muslim Brotherhood sentenced in 2014 following an attack on a police station in 2013.

There was a mock trial. People wearing numbers to represent the prisoners made the Islamist R4BIA (Rabia) sign and the event ended with a die-in in front of Marble Arch.

Protest Against Egypt Death Sentences

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.