Posts Tagged ‘sunflowers’

The lessons of Marikana

Tuesday, January 21st, 2020

Seven years ago, on August 16th 2012, South African police opened fire on striking miners at the Marikana platinum mine, killing 34 of them.

The mine was owned by London-based mining company Lonmin (better known by its earlier name of Lonrho) one of whose directors at the time was Cyril Ramaphosa, now President of South Africa.  It seems certain that the police action was deliberately planned and had the backing of powerful people in the South African government.

No one has been prosecuted for the murders and the campaigners called for justice and for compensation for the workers families. Lonmin have attempted to evade their responsibilities and the company was sold in May 2019 to South African mining corporation Sibanye-Stillwater for $226 million. This is a company with a terrible safety record – 20 mineworkers were killed in its mines in the first six months of 2018 – and the Lonmin shareholders and London asset management companies, Investec and Majedie are major investors in Sibanye-Stillwater.

Legally the new owners have inherited the liabilities of Lonmin and are responsible for compensation for their crimes at Marikana.

The protest took place outside the South Africa Embassy in Trafalgar Square where for 1408 days and nights the City of London Anti-Apartheid Group staged their non-stop picket for the release of Nelson Mandela, beginning in 1986. That picket was firmly opposed by both the South African government and the Metropolitan Police who harassed it in various ways, attempting to ban it and making 171 arrests.

Today’s commemoration was again opposed by an embassy employee, who came out and told the protesters they had to move, but they took no notice, and after the embassy had closed for the day they decorated its gates and walls with the pictures of the murdered miners and yellow flowers. The police ignored the event.

A number of those taking part had also taken part in that earlier non-stop picket. Although Mandela was released and we have a new South Africa, much of the exploitation that was present in the old continues, though at times with some new masters. But the colonial domination and extraction of African wealth by London-based companies (and those from other wealthy nations) continues – and the Marikana massacre demonstrates that little has changed.

Justice for Marikana – 7 years on


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage : Flickr

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.

There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, please share on social media.
And small donations via Paypal – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.


Fukushima anniversary

Sunday, June 30th, 2019

It’s hard to believe that it is 8 years since the nuclear disaster at Fukushima when three reactors went into meltdown on 11 March 2011, but it is a disaster that is still continuing, with high levels of radiation in parts of the plant and clean-up of the site will take many more years, although life is begining to get back to normal in the surrounding area.

It is still far to early to give any definitive figure for the number of deaths th accident and its associated leak of radioactive material will cause, but Fukushima  ranks only second to Chernobyl in the long list of nuclear accidents. One method of estimation suggests it will eventually result in around 130 deaths from cancer.

Nuclear power has never yet lived up to the promises made by its advocates of clean, abundant and cheap energy, and even though the costs of decommisioning nuclear power stations has largely been disregarded, the costs of nuclear energy run high. Nuclear power plants have largely developed around the world because of their production of isotopes for nuclear weapons rather than simply to provide energy. Unless and until it becomes possible to develop nuclear fusion reactors it would make sense to put nuclear on hold, and to concentrate investment on reducing energy use and backing low-cost renewables such as on-shore wind.

Although the health risk from Fukushima may be lower than some activists suggest, it has had huge disruption for those in the surrounding area, with many having to be evacuated. Clearly it was a nuclear facility in the wrong place and with inadequate regard for safety. The operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), was found to have failed to meet basic safety requirements including risk assessment, preparations for containing collateral damage, and developing evacuation plans. 

There continue to be regular protests about Fukushima in London, and an annual march on or close to the anniversary. I like to photograph them both because I think it important to end reliance on nuclear energy and becuase they are colourful and slightly surreal events, with people dressing as large bright yellow containers of nuclear waste and carrying large sunflowers, and some fine graphic posters.

Remember Fukushima 8 years On


There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, please share on social media.
And small donations via Paypal – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.

My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage : Flickr

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.

To order prints or reproduce images