Posts Tagged ‘Syria Solidarity Campaign’

Zuma, Boat Dwellers, Syria & Latin Village – 2017

Monday, April 8th, 2024

Zuma, Boat Dwellers, Syria & Latin Village: Saturday 8th April 2017 was another varied day for me in London with protests against South African President Zuma, the Canal & River Trust, chemical warfare in Syra and against the planned demolition of the largest Latin American community market in England.

Zuma Must Go – Trafalgar Square

Zuma, Boat Dwellers, Syria & Latin Village

South Africans living in the UK had come to protest outside the South African High Commission after President Zuma sacked the Finance Minister and his deputy.

Zuma, Boat Dwellers, Syria & Latin Village

They accuse Zuma and the African National Congress government of wrecking the South African economy and say that “Zuma must fall”.

Zuma, Boat Dwellers, Syria & Latin Village

Police had set barriers outside the High Commission for the protest and the protesters were so densely packed into the area that it was very difficult to move around an take photographs.

Zuma, Boat Dwellers, Syria & Latin Village

It was a colourful protest and certainly demonstrated the anger of those taking part but the ANC would still remain the leading party and if Zuma resigned he would be replaced by another ANC leader.

Zuma did finally go, replaced by Cyril Ramaphosa in 2018 because of the increasing allegations of corruption and cronyism and in 2021 was given a 15 month contempt of court sentence for refusing to testify. Ramaphosa is also a controversial figure with various allegations of corruption, and as as London Platinum non-executive director urged the police to take the action which lead to the police massacre at Marikana on August 16, 2012 which lead to the deaths of 44 miners and over 70 more with serious injuries.

The elections next month, May 2024 are expected to be the first since the end of apartheid in 1994 in which the ANC will not gain over 50% of the vote and the country may get a coalition government. Zuma who has now joined the opposition Umkhonto weSizwe (MK) party has been banned from standing in the election but has appealed the ban.

Zuma Must Go

Boat dwellers fight evictions – Embankment Gardens

Boat dwellers held a rally in Embankment Gardens before marching to Downing St and DEFRA to demand the Canal & River Trust (CRT) stops evicting or threatening to evict boat dwellers without permanent moorings.

The say the British Waterways Act 1995 includes the right to live on a boat without a permanent mooring and that the CRT is acting illegally in evicting or threatening to evict boat dwellers.

Although boats can be required to move after 14 days at a mooring, the law requires at least 28 days notice and does not lay down restrictions on the distance boats have to move or that they should be making a “progressive journey.”

Some of the speakers at the rally had horror stories about boats being seized and other illegal activities by the trust, a charity set up in 2012 to look after the canals and navigable rivers.

Boat dwellers also oppose the plans being made for chargeable bookable moorings and want the trust to maintain the canals properly. The rally was still continuing when I needed to leave.

Boat dwellers fight evictions

March Against Chemical Warfare in Syria – Marble Arch

RefugEase and Syria Solidarity Campaign had organised this march calling on the UK Government to protect civilians in Syria.

President Assad’s forces used Sarin nerve agent three years earlier at Ghouta, and a few days before the protest there had been another attack using Sarin at Khan Sheikhoon near Idlib on April 4th.

The West’s response to the Syrian Revolution has been confusing and largely ineffectual. The US and Turkey encouraged and aided the setting up of an Islamic state and allowed it to export oil to finance its operations – and later the US gave air support to the Kurds to defeat ISIS. And although there were strong words over the use of chemical weapons at Ghouta, there was no real action. Nor has their been any opposition to the invasion and occupation of large parts of Syria by Turkish forces.

The march to Downing St began at Marble Arch and I walked with it down Oxford Street as far as Oxford Circus Station where I caught the Victoria Line to Seven Sisters.

Against Chemical Warfare in Syria

Human Chain at Latin Village – Seven Sisters

The indoor market next to Seven Sisters station in South Tottenham had been reinvigorated in recent years by the local Latin American community and had become the largest Latin American community market in England.

Part of the site at Ward’s Corner has been derelict for some years and the local authority, Haringey Council, wants to demolish the who block together with property developers which would convert it to expensive flats and chain stores, profiting investors at the expense of the community.

In 2008 the community gained the support of London Mayor Boris Johnson who wrote to the council asking them to review the scheme. But the council were determined to go ahead along with property developer Grainger PLC and issued a compulsory purchase order in 2016 which was finally approved by the secretary of state for housing, communities, and local government James Brokenshire in 2019.

The community in the area had been fighting since 2002 to save the Latin Village from this social cleansing and gentrification and on Saturday 8th April 2017 held a festival there. The speeches and performances paused for everyone to join hands in a human chain around a quarter of a mile long around the whole block.

In 2020 Transport for London who had taken over the management of the indoor market closed it down. But in 2021 Grainger PLC withdrew from the plans for the site. You can read more about the Wards Corner Community Plan online. The Community Benefit Society was launched in 2022 and planned to reopen the site in 2024.

Many more pictures at Human Chain at Latin Village

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Refugee Rights & Stop Trident – 2016

Tuesday, February 27th, 2024

Refugee Rights & Stop Trident – On Saturday 27th February 2016 I photographed two large protest marches in London. The first was part of a protest across Europe calling for safe passage for refuges and the second was against government plans to replace the UK’s Trident nuclear weapons which recently for a second time failed a test launch in 2023.

European March for Refugee Rights – Hyde Park

Refugee Rights & Stop Trident

Several hundred protesters, including many who had been to aid refugees in Lesvos and at the Calais camps and some who had volunteered in Syria with Medicins Sans Frontiers, marched from Hyde Park Corner to a rally at Speakers Corner before going on to Trafalgar Square as part of a day of protest in cities across Europe calling for safe and secure routes for all refugees and asylum seekers seeking protection in Europe.

Refugee Rights & Stop Trident

They want an end to the deaths in sea crossings and other borders and for refugees to be allowed to keep their possessions and be reunited with their families.

Refugee Rights & Stop Trident

Groups supporting the protest included the Syria Solidarity Campaign, Solidarity with Refugees, London2Calais, Migrants’ Rights Network, SOAS Solidarity with Refugees & Displaced People Soc, Wonder Foundation, Calais Action, UK Action for Refugees, Refugee Aid Initiative, No Borders and the Greece Solidarity Campaign.

Refugee Rights & Stop Trident

A woman who had volunteered at Lesvos came a child’s life-jacket worn on the dangerous sea crossing to there, more suitable for a beach holiday; others wore similar life-jackets on the march which have become a symbol for the refugees and those who drown on the journey from Turkey to Lesvos. Refugee support groups from Brighton brought a splendid banner they had made based on Picasso’s Spanish Civil War painting ‘Guernica‘.

I marched with them through Hyde Park to Speakers Corner where there was a short rally before they marched on to Trafalgar Square in front of the CND Stop Trident march which was then beginning to march from Marble Arch.

Some then decided to join the CND march but others decided to march in front of it. CND stewards at first tried to stop them but then halted the Stop Trident march for around ten minutes to leave a gap between the two marches which were following the same route.

More at European March for Refugee Rights.

Stop Trident March – Marble Arch to Trafalgar Square

Around sixty thousand had come to Marble Arch to join the march to a rally in Trafalgar Square against government plans to replace the UK’s Trident nuclear weapons at a cost of £180 billion or more.

CND say Trident is immoral and using it would cause catastrophic global damage. These weapons of mass destruction don’t keep us safe and divert resources from essential spending on services like the NHS, schools and housing.

In 2024 CND estimates that the total cost of building and maintaining Trident has been £205 billion. The UK has hung on to nuclear weapons largely as a matter of prestige and to justify its position on the UN Security Council and it has never been an important deterrent – and the recent test failures make it even less of a credible threat to other countries.

I arrived late for the official photocall before the start of the march on Park Lane because the crowd of marchers was so dense and we were soon moved well away from the front banner and those holding it by stewards in the usual somewhat unfriendly ‘Stop the War’ manner.

At the southern end of Park Lane the march halted for around ten minutes to make a gap between it and the marchers for Refugee Rights who had come to join them. I went to take a few pictures of this march and then returned to the ‘Stop Trident’ march.

After taking some pictures of the marchers, working my way through the crowds I had to leave and take the tube from Green Park to Charing Cross for the start of the rally, meeting the head of the march as it arrived at Trafalgar Square.

It was a long rally with a long list of distinguished speakers including Nicola Sturgeon, Caroline Lucas, Leanne Wood, Vanessa Redgrave, Bruce Kent, Christine Blower, Mark Serwotka, Tariq Ali and many more including some younger activists, and you can see photographs of most of those who spoke. They all opposed the renewal of Trident which they dismissed as out of date, totally irrelevant to our defence and a complete waste of money which could be put to so much better use providing proper jobs and services.

The rally went on longer than expected as we were waiting for the final address by Jeremy Corbyn who was travelling down from Sheffield where he had been speaking at a conference. He arrived on the platform to an enormous round of cheering and applause and gave a rousing speech ending the protest on a high note.

Many more photographs of the march and rally on My London Diary:
Stop Trident Rally
Stop Trident March