Posts Tagged ‘Tamils’

Nakba, NHS, Guantánamo, Sri Lanka – 2013

Saturday, May 18th, 2024

Nakba, NHS, Guantánamo, Sri Lanka: On Saturday 18th May 2013 I began work outside Parliament at a protest against Israeli ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, then went across the Thames to the Festival Hall for the start of a march to defend the NHS before going the US Embassy in Grosvenor Square for a ‘murder scene’ in solidarity with hunger strikers at Guantánamo. There I also photographed a woman protesting for the release of her husband arrested 9 years ago by US forces in Iraq. Finally I met a march by several thousands of Tamils calling for and end to the continuing genocide in Sri Lanka. You will find much more detail (and many more pictures) on each of these protests at links below to My London Diary.


End Israeli Ethnic Cleansing – Old Palace Yard, Westminster

Nakba, NHS, Guantánamo, Sri Lanka

65 years after 700,000 Palestinians were driven out of their homes as refugees in the ‘Nakba’ (catastrophe) when Israel was created, Palestinians call for an end to the continuing ethnic cleansing and a boycott and sanctions until Israel complies with international law.

Nakba, NHS, Guantánamo, Sri Lanka

Several hundred people came to the protest, including a group of extreme orthodox Neturei Karta Jews who see themselves as guardians of the true Jewish faith, and reject Zionism, as well as many of Jewish or Palestinian origin. As well as the Palestine Solidarity Campaign the protest was also supported by many other groups – a long list on My London Diary – and speeches were continuing when I left for another event.

Nakba, NHS, Guantánamo, Sri Lanka

More about the Nakba and the protest at End Israeli Ethnic Cleansing.


London Marches to Defend NHS – South Bank to Whitehall

Nakba, NHS, Guantánamo, Sri Lanka

Thousands had gathered by the Festival Hall to march against cuts, closures and privatisation of the NHS, including many groups opposed to hospital closures around London, trade unionists and others concerned the the government is ending the NHS.

An unprecedented coalition of Londoners, including medical staff, trade unions, health campaigners, patients and others have been alarmed at what they see as an attack by the government on the principles that underlie our National Health Service and the threats of closure of Accident and Emergency facilities, maternity units and hospital wards which seem certain to lead to our health system being unable to cope with demand – and many lives put at risk.

You can read more about the crisis in the NHS in 2013 in the post on My London Diary, but of course this has continued and is still making the news. Despite their protestations it seems clear that the Tories are trying hard to run down the NHS so that the population lose its trust and love for our universal free public – and would allow them to eventually replace it with US-style insurance based healthcare which would greatly increase costs and generate huge profits for private health companies.

I went with the march across Waterloo Bridge and down Strand to Charing Cross, leaving it as it was waiting to enter Whitehall for a rally there.

More information and pictures at London Marches to Defend NHS.


Guantánamo Murder Scene – US Embassy, Grosvenor Square

London Guantánamo Campaign staged a ‘murder scene’ at the US Embassy on the 101st day of the Guantánamo Hunger Strike in which over 100 of the 166 still held there are taking part, with many including Shaker Aamer now being forcibly fed.

As I arrived there were 8 black-hooded ‘prisoners’ in orange suits lying on the pavement, the number of prisoners who have died there in suspicious circumstances who had previously taken part in sustained hunger strikes. At least seven of them had the cause of death reported as ‘suicide’.

Other protesters drew lines around the bodies on the ground and surrounded the area with ‘Crime Scene – Do Not Enter‘ incident tape. The bodies then stood up and there was a short enactment of forced feeding by a man wearing an Obama mask.

Others held placards and posters, some including quotations from Thomas Jefferson and other historic and prominent Americans, and there were speeches about the events in Guantanamo, where British resident Shaker Aamer was still held despite having been cleared for release. You can read more, including a statement by one of the organisers, on My London Diary.

As I left some of the poems written in Guantánamo by Shaker Aamer were being read.

More at Guantánamo Murder Scene.


More US Embassy Protests – US Embassy, Grosvenor Square

Also protesting outside the embassy as she has for a number of weekends was Narmeen Saleh Al Rubaye, born in the US and currently living in Birmingham, whose husband Shawki Ahmed Omar, an American citizen, was arrested in Iraq by American forces in 2004 and turned over to Iraqi custody in 2011. He was tortured by the Americans when held by them, and his now being tortured by the Iraqis. He is also on hunger strike. His young daughter Zeinab came and spoke briefly to the Guantanamo protesters, telling them that she wanted her daddy to be released.

Later she was joined by a small group of Muslim men and boys who stood with her.

It was a busy day for protests at at the US Embassy were a small group of supporters of Syrian President Assad, including some from the minor Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist) who had come to protest against western intervention in Syria.

More about these protests at More US Embassy Protests.


Tamils protest Sri Lankan Genocide – Hyde Park to Waterloo Place

Finally I rushed away to join thousands of British Tamils and dignitaries and politicians from India, Sri Lanka and the UK who were marching through London on the 4th anniversary of the Mullivaikkal Massacre. Many were dressed in black in memory of the continuing genocide in Sri Lanka and some wore the tiger emblem and called for a Tamil homeland – Tamil Eelam.

Tamils are disgusted at the lack of response by the UK, the Commonwealth and the world to the organised genocide that took place and is still continuing in Sri Lanka, of which the massacre at Mullivaikkal four years ago was a climax. I noted on My London Diary that I could see no other non-Tamil photographers covering the event.

On My London Diary you can read a statement by the British Tamil Forum who had organised the march. I left as the rally in Waterloo Place was about to start, partly because I was tired but also because I thought few of the speeches would be in English.

Tamils protest Sri Lankan Genocide.


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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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Iraq Oil Grab, Freedom, Rosary Crusade & More

Tuesday, October 11th, 2022

My day in London on Saturday 11th October 2008 – 14 years ago


100 Days to stop Bush & Cheney’s Iraq Oil Grab! Shell Centre

Iraq Oil Grab, Freedom, Rosary Crusade & More

The ‘Hands of Iraqi Oil’ coalition including Corporate Watch, Iraq Occupation Focus, Jubilee Iraq, PLATFORM, Voices UK, and War on Want and supported by the Stop the War Coalition protested at the Shell Centre against plans to had over most of Iraq’s oil reserves to foreign companies, particularly Shell and BP.

Iraq Oil Grab, Freedom, Rosary Crusade & More

From 1961 on the Iraqi government took increasing control of the oil industry in Iraq, finally nationalising it it 1970. Before the 2003 invasion of Iraq it provided 95% of the government’s revenues.

Iraq Oil Grab, Freedom, Rosary Crusade & More

Any lingering doubts about the true reason behind the US-led invasion were dispelled by the grab for the country’s key national resource, a move strongly supported by expert consultants supplied by the UK and US who previously worked at a high level for companies like Shell and BP who drafted the bill for the giveaway which is opposed by Iraqi trade unions and oil experts.

The protest took place at the start of the final 100 days of George W Bush’s administration and began at Shell’s UK headquarters on the South Bank before the samba band, ‘oil workers’ and other demonstrators with a huge and grotesque US Vice President Dick Chaney set off to make their way to BP’s HQ in St James’s Square and on to the US Embassy. But I needed to go to another protest.

Bush & Cheney’s Iraq Oil Grab


Freedom not Fear 2008 – New Scotland Yard, Victoria St

Freedom not fear 2008 events were taking place in over 20 countries to demonstrate against excessive surveillance by governments and businesses, organised by a broad movement of campaigners and organisations.

In the UK the main event was at New Scotland Yard in London, opposed to the restriction of the right to demonstrate under SOCPA, the intimidatory use of photography by police FIT squads, the proposed introduction of ID cards, the increasing centralisation of personal data held by government, including the DNA database held by police, the incredible growth in surveillance cameras, ‘terrorist’ legislation and other measures which have affected our individual freedom and human rights.

Although police handed out notifications under the SOCPA legislation warning them that protesting in the zone around Westminster they were in was illegal, neither the police nor the demonstrators seemed to be taking this very seriously in the 45 minutes or so I was there or when I briefly returned an hour later.

Freedom not Fear 2008


Rosary Crusade of Reparation – Westminster Cathedral

Half a mile or so up the road people were gathering outside the Roman Catholic Westminster Cathedral for the Rosary Crusade of Reparation, one of the larger walks of public witness by Catholics in London.

The Rosary campaign was begun in Austria in 1947 by Franciscan Fr Petrus Pavlicek who prayed for his country to be freed from its communist occupiers and it attracted half a million supporters. The first annual parade with the statue of Our Lady of Fatima wasin 1948 in Vienna on the feast of the Name of Mary, Sept 12. This feast celebrated the defeat in 1683 of Turkish invaders surrounding Vienna by Christian armies who had prayed to the Blessed Virgin.

The London procession takes place on the nearest Saturday to the anniversary of the final appearance of Our Lady at Fatima in October 1917, close to the end of the First World War. Those present saw the sun dancing around in the sky, and she promised peace and an end to war if men showed contrition for their sins and changed their lives.

This was the 25th annual procession in London, starting from Westminster Cathedral and making its way to a service at Brompton Oratory. The statue of Our Lady of Fatima was carried by the Catholic Police Guild and two thousand or more Catholics walked behind saying Rosary and singing hymns devoted to Mary.

This year’s procession had as its special theme atonement for the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill then passing through Parliament.

Rosary Crusade of Reparation


Parliament Square

I left the procession as it started off and walked back past New Scotland Yard to Parliament Square, where several protests were taking place. Tamils were calling for an end to genocide in Sri Lanka and for an independent state of Tamil Eelam in the north and east of Sri Lanka.

In the centre of the square was a small protest by London Against Detention demanding an end to the detention of asylum seekers and the closure of immigration detention centres.

And Ben and Ben of ‘Still Human Still Here” were approaching the end of their two week protest in Parliament Square over the scandalous treatment of asylum seekers who are being forced into abject poverty in an attempt to drive them out of the country. They spent two weeks in a tent in the square living on the emergency rations that the Red Cross will supply to these inhumanely treated asylum seekers.

Brian Haw was then still in the square, then in his seventh year of long-term protest. As usual I went to talk to him, and was there when a man came up to laugh at him and insult him. He smelt strongly of alcohol, was talking nonsense and acting unpredictably. One of Brian’s supporters stood between him and Brian who was filming him. I put down my bag as I took photographs in case I needed to step in and help, but fortunately he eventually moved away.

Danny was lying on the grass and called out to me as I walked past after talking to Brian. He told me he had been on hunger strike for two weeks demanding a proper investigation into his case. He claims to have been abused by police and social services following an incident in which as a seven year old child in Llanelli he was implicated in the death of a baby brother but I found it hard to make much sense of his allegations.

While I had been talking to Danny I’d seen a group of people on the street opposite carrying placards go up Parliament Street and I’d later caught up with them at the top of Whitehall. I found they were Obama supporters hoping to find and persuade Americans here to register and vote in the election.

Parliament Square


Families Separated, Gaza, Ghouta and Sri Lanka

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2022

Families Separated, Gaza, Ghouta and Sri Lanka – On Saturday 23rd August 2014 I photographed four protests in Westminster, one against an aspect of our racist immigration policies, the second against the UK selling arms to Israel which have been used in attacks on Gaza (along with a counter demonstration), the anniversary of chemical attacks by the Syrian regime and a protest calling for UK support against the continuing genocide of the Tamil nation.


Divided Families protest over cruelty – Downing St

Families Separated, Gaza, Ghouta and Sri Lanka

The cruel and unfair immigration rules set up by the Home Office under Theresa May mean that anyone earning less than £18,600 was unable to bring a non-EU spouse into the country (Brexit means that similar rules now apply to most EU countries.)

Families Separated, Gaza, Ghouta and Sri Lanka

This income requirement discriminates against women, the retired and disabled young and many minority ethnic people who have on average lower incomes than the general population. For couples with children, the income limit is even higher, and to secure visas for a spouse and two children you would need an income of £24,800.

Families Separated, Gaza, Ghouta and Sri Lanka

Fees for applications are also expensive – from £1048 to £1538 per person and applicants may also need to pay a healthcare premium of from £1560 to £3120 for adults and around three-quarters of this for each child. For applications made in the UK there is an extra £800 if you want a faster decision. And applicants also need to supply a great deal of documentation.

The policy, which also includes tougher English Language tests, a proof of greater attachment to the UK than of any other country and extending the probationary period from two to five years, is in direct contradiction of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights which states:

‘No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.’

Universal Declaration on Human Rights

People at the protests included many whose families were divided as they were unable to meet the income levels, as well as a number of parents and friends of divided families.

Many carried placards with images of the divided families, along with captions such as ‘I WANT MY DADDY TO CUDDLE ME NOT SKYPE ME’. I felt deeply for those caught by what seem to be vindictive, unnecessary and totally insupportable polices. It was impossible not to agree with the placards with messages such as ‘WHY IS LOVE DIVIDED BY LAW? THERESA MAY HAS NO HEART!!! THE LAW NEEDS TO CHANGE….’

Divided Families protest over cruelty


Gaza Protest – Stop Arming Israel – Downing St

A large rally at Downing St called on the UK to stop selling arms to Israel, and for an end to Israeli war crimes. Among the protesters were many Jews from various Jewish groups, including the ultra-orthodox Neturei Karta who had walked down from north London to support the protest.

Israel had carried out air strikes on Gaza in July 2014 following a number of incidents including the shooting by the IDF of two Palestinian teenagers and the kidnapping and killing of three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank. There were other incidents including house demolitions and the kidnapping and killing of a Palestinian youth. Hamas replied to air strikes with rocket fire on Israel.

The Israeli invasion of Gaza began in earnest on 20th July and the ground war was still continuing though on a lesser scale when this protest took place, with a ceasefire being agreed and coming into effect on 26th August.

There are more details about the invasion in the Wikipedia Timeline, which states “2,256 Palestinians and 85 Israelis died, while 17,125 Palestinians, and 2,639 Israelis suffered injuries.”

At the protest there was a row of black boxes representing coffins and the names of children killed, and some people carried ‘bloodstained’ bundles representing dead children

Three people came to wave Israeli flags across the road and were led away for safety by police.

Earlier one of the Palestinian protesters had tried to seize one of the flags and was dragged away by police. At the end of the rally opposite Downing St some of the protesters marched around London and I went with them as far as Trafalgar Square where I had another event to cover.

More pictures: Gaza Protest – Stop Arming Israel


Syria Chemical Massacre Anniversary – Trafalgar Square

A rally marked a year after the Ghouta massacre of 21/08/2013 when Assad regime forces outraged the world by using Sarin gas, killing 1,477 residents including over 400 children in this Damascus suburb. The world failed to act against Assad.

One man was wearing wolf head with bloody hands and placard ‘I AM CHEMICAL BASHAR AL ASSAD AND ONE YEAR ON I AM STILL GASSING SYRIAN CHILDREN. THANK YOU FOR UN VETO’

After an hour-long rally in Trafalgar Square the protesters, who were mainly Syrians, marched along the pavements to Richmond Terrace, opposite Downing St, where they laid flowers in memory of the dead.

More pictures: Syria Chemical Massacre Anniversary


Tamils protest Sri Lankan rapes & killing – Downing St

Also present when I returned to Downing St were Tamils protesting over the continuing genocide of the Tamil nation, calling for a UN investigation and referendum on Tamil Eelam.

Placards called for an end to the use of rape to destroy their nation and sexual violence against children.

More pictures: Tamils protest Sri Lankan rapes & killing


Nakba, NHS, Gitmo etc & Tamils

Wednesday, May 18th, 2022

NakNakba, NHS, Gitmo etc & Tamils – Saturday 18th May 2013 was another busy day for protests in London and I covered a number of demonstrations.


End Israeli Ethnic Cleansing – Old Palace Yard, Westminster

65 years after 700,000 Palestinians were driven out of their homes as refugees in the ‘Nakba’ (catastrophe) when the state of Israel was created, Palestinians and their supporters protested outside parliament calling for an end to the continuing ethnic cleansing and a boycott and sanctions until Israel complies with international law.

There had been protests in Jerusalem earlier in the week on Nabka Day against the continuing sanctions against Palestinians that have crowded them into an ever-decreasing area of land, diminishing almost daily as new Israeli settlements are created and new restrictions placed on the movement of Palestinians. Many of those protesting in London from Jewish or Palestinian backgrounds and as usual these included a group of extreme orthodox Neturei Karta Jews who had walked down from North London; they see themselves as guardians of the true Jewish faith, and reject Zionism.

The speeches were continuing when I left to cover another event. More at End Israeli Ethnic Cleansing


London Marches to Defend NHS – South Bank to Whitehall

On the opposite side of the River Thames thousands were gathering by the Royal Festival Hall to march against cuts, closures and privatisation of the NHS, alarmed at the attack by the government on the principles that underlie our National Health Service and the threats of closure of Accident and Emergency facilities, maternity units and hospital wards which seem certain to lead to our health system being unable to cope with demand – and many lives put at risk.

Nine years later we are seeing the effect of these policies with ambulance services unable to cope with demand, lengthy delays in treating people in A&E, delays in diagnosing cancers leading to increased deaths and more. And although it was only a matter of time before we had a pandemic like Covid, and exercises had shown what needed to be done to prepare for this, the NHS had not been given the resources to prepare for this, leading to much higher death rates than some comparable countries.

Part of the problems of the NHS come from disastrous PFI agreements pushed through under the Labour government, landing NHS trusts with huge debts that will continue for many years. This forced NHS trusts into disastrous hospital closure plans, some of which were defeated by huge public campaigns. Many of those marching were those involved in these campaigns at Lewisham, Ealing, Charing Cross, Hammersmith, Central Middlesex, Whittington and other hospitals around London.

I left the march as it entered Whitehall for a rally there. More at London Marches to Defend NHS.


Guantánamo Murder Scene – US Embassy, Grosvenor Square

London Guantánamo Campaign staged a ‘murder scene’ at the US Embassy on the 101st day of the Guantánamo Hunger Strike in which over 100 of the 166 still held there are taking part, with many including Shaker Aamer now being forcibly fed.

More at Guantánamo Murder Scene.


More US Embassy Protests – US Embassy, Grosvenor Square

Other protesters outside the US Embassy included Narmeen Saleh Al Rubaye, born in the US and currently living in Birmingham, whose husband Shawki Ahmed Omar, an American citizen, was arrested in Iraq by American forces in 2004 and turned over to Iraqi custody in 2011. He was tortured by the Americans when they held him and was now being tortured by the Iraqis and also was on hunger strike. She has protested with her daughter Zeinab outside the US Embassy for a number of weekends and on this occasion was joined by a small group of Muslims who had come to protest against Guantanamo, appalled by the actions of the US waging a war against Islam and Muslims.

Shawki Ahmed Omar is still held in Iraq; before he died in 2021 former US Attorney General Ramsey Clark recorded a video calling for his release which was posted to YouTube in with the comment by another US lawyer “This case is one of the greatest miscarriages of justice in recent United States history. It is a case where the US government essentially lied to the US Supreme Court to cover up torture and to be able to turn an American citizen over to people who they knew would torture him.”

A few yards away, kept separate by police, a group of supporters of the Syrian regime, including some from the minor Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist) was also holding a protest in favour of the Assad regime and against western intervention in Syria.

More at More US Embassy Protests.


Tamils protest Sri Lankan Genocide – Hyde Park to Waterloo Place

I met thousands of British Tamils and dignitaries and politicians from India, Sri Lanka and the UK as they marched through London on the 4th anniversary of the Mullivaikkal Massacre, many dressed in black in memory of the continuing genocide in Sri Lanka. Many wore the tiger emblem and called for a Tamil homeland – Tamil Eelam.

Although it was a large protest, with perhaps around 5,000 marchers I think it received absolutely no coverage in UK media, and I seemed to be the only non-Tamil photographer present. Tamils were rightly disgusted at the lack of response by the UK, the Commonwealth and the world to the organised genocide that took place in Sri Lanka, of which the massacre at Mullivaikkal four years ago was a climax.

The march had started from Hyde Park, and I caught up with it on Piccadilly and went with it taking photographs to Waterloo Place where there was to be a rally. But it had been a long day for me and I left just before this started.

More at Tamils protest Sri Lankan Genocide.


11 October 2008

Monday, October 11th, 2021

It was the start of the final 100 days of the Bush adminstration and the ‘Hands off Iraqi Oil’ coalition whose members included Corporate Watch, Iraq Occupation Focus, Jubilee Iraq, PLATFORM, Voices UK, and War on Want and was supported by the Stop the War Coalition and others had come to Shell’s UK headquarters at Waterloo to protest against plans by Britain and the USA for Iraq to hand over most of the country’s oil reserves to foreign companies, particularly Shell and BP.

Iraq had nationalised its oil by 1972, and it provided 95% of its government income. Many had seen the invasion of Iraq by the US and UK (along with Australia and Poland) as largely driven by the desire to gain control of Iraq’s huge oil reserves and the US had engaged consultants to help it write a new oil law which it got the Iraqi cabinet to approive in 2007 which would give foreign oil companies – including Shell and BP, long-term contracts within a safe legal framework. But large-scale popular opposition meant the Iraqi parliament failed to approve the new law. But in June 2008, the Iraqi Oil Ministry went ahead with short-term no-bid contracts to the major foreign oil companies – including Exxon Mobil, BP, Shell, Total and Chevron and later these and other contracts were made more favourable to the oil companies.

After the protest at Shell’s offices the protesters marched to protest outside the BP HQ in St James’s Square and then to the US Embassy, and I left to cover the London Freedom not fear 2008 event outside New Scotland Yard. Similar protests were taking place in over 20 countries to demonstrate against excessive surveillance by governments and businesses, organised by a broad movement of campaigners and organizations.

The London event highlighted the restrictions of the right to demonstrate under the Labour government’s The Serious Organized Crime and Police Act 2005, (SOCPA),, the intimidatory use of photography by police Forward Intelligence squads (FIT), the proposed introduction of ID cards, the increasing centralisation of personal data held by government, including the DNA database held by police, the incredible growth in surveillance cameras, ‘terrorist’ legislation and other measures which have affected our individual freedom and human rights.

For something completely different I walked a quarter of a mile down Victoria Street to Westminster Cathedral where people were assembling for the Rosary Crusade of Reparation, one of the larger walks of public witness by Catholics in London.

This tradition began in Austria in 1947 with the roasary campaign begun by a priest praying for his country to be freed from the communist occupiers. The first annual parade with the statue of Our Lady of Fatima took place in 1948 in Vienna on the feast of the Name of Mary, Sept 12, which had been established by Pope Innocent XI in 1683 when Turkish invaders surrounding Vienna were defeated by Christian armies who had prayed to the Blessed Virgin.

As the procession to a service at Brompton Oratory began I walked back up Victoria St to Parliament Square, where a number of other small protests were in evidence. All over the centre of London there were people giving out leaflets about the growing problems faced by Tamils in Sri Lanka, where they allege a program of ethnic cleansing is being carried out by the government. International media are banned from the Tamil areas of the country and NGOs have been ordered out of some areas, so there are few reports of the war. Worse was to come and in 2009 in the final stages of the war conservative estimates are that 70,000 civilians were killed in the the Mullivaikkal massacre.

Others in the square were protesting against the UK’s scandalous treatment of asylum seekers and calling for the asylum detention centres to be closed down.

Brian Haw was still there, and I wrote:

Facing Parliament, Brian Haw‘s peace protest continues – he has been there for almost 2700 days – over 7 years – and it will soon be his 60th birthday. Brian says that now the police seem to have largely abandoned attempts to get rid of him legally there have been a number of odd attacks against him and others in the square – which the police have ignored. I took some time talking to a man who smelt of alcohol, was talking nonsense and acting unpredictably – and who then went and started to insult Brian. One of the other demonstrators stood between him and Brian who was filming him. I put down my bag as I took photographs in case I needed to step in and help, but fortunately he eventually moved away.

There were others protesting in Parliament Square, including one man who asked me to take his picture. He told me his name was Danny and that he had been there on hunger strike for two weeks, protesting over his failure to get his case investigated. He claimed to have been abused by police and social services following an incident in which as a seven year old child in Llanelli he was implicated in the death of a baby brother. I was unable to find any more information about his case.

Finally I saw a group of people walking past holding leafelts with the the word CHANGE on them and rushed after them to find they were Obama supporters hoping to persuade Americans they met to register and vote in the election. It was time for me to go home.

Parliament Square
Rosary Crusade of Reparation
Freedom not Fear 2008
Bush & Cheney’s Iraq Oil Grab



More from May Days: 2011

Wednesday, May 6th, 2020

May Day 2011 was a Sunday which helped swell the numbers gathering at Clerkenwell Green, though perhaps the trade union groups were rather less numerous than usual. But of course the usual communist and socialist groups were there, and the CPGB-ML with their large image of Stalin and a banner with a quote from him with letters picked out in yellow to spell ‘resist’ along with the word revolution.

A new group in this year’s march was ‘Justice for Domestic Workers‘ (J4DW), a self-help group for migrant domestic workers and part of the hotel, restaurant and catering branch of the Unite the union. They were using the event to launch a new petition urging the UK government to change its position and endorse the 2011 ILO convention on Domestic Workers. The UK joined the ILO in 1919, but since the Tories came to power in 2010 have only ratified conventions on Maritime Labour and Fishing.

There was a large group from the Latin American Workers’ Association, calling for justice for refugees and asylum seekers, with the message ‘No-One Is Illegal’ carried by two of their younger supporters.

As in previous years there was a very strong representation of nationalist communist groups from London’s Turkish, Kurdish and Cypriot communities as well as a large group of Sri Lankan Tamils calling for the war criminals from Sri Lanka to be taken to the International Criminal Court and asking why the UN and NATO had not intervened when their community in Sri Lanka was facing massacre.

I followed the march a short distance, stopping to photograph until the end of the march had gone passed me, then decided to go home rather than continue to the rally in Trafalgar Square.

London May Day March


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.


More from May Days: 2009

Monday, May 4th, 2020

Another year, another May Day. 2009 was just a little different with more happening at Clerkenwell Green than usual, though some things remained the same. Although in my very early years Stalin was known through our press as ‘Uncle Joe’ and it was certainly the case that it was the Russian Army that played the major role in the defeat of Hitler, it does seem to me somehow obscene to be continuing a cult of his personality with what we now know about him.

As always the Turkish and Kurdish community were out in force – here the KGÖ (Komünist Gençlik Örgütü), the youth wing of the Marxist Leninist Communist Party (Turkey) MLKP.

Unusually there was a maypole, brought and erected by Chris Knight and others from G20 Meltdown, and a few people tried to dance around it.

There were the usual collection of trade union banners, with pride of place going to a couple carried by Ford workers following the Visteon dispute, as well as various other left-wing groups from the UK and abroad.

As in previous years the rally at Trafalgar Square failed to acknowledge the predominant presence of various minority communities on the march and was dominated by speakers from the large unions and Labour party. The star of the event was undoubtedly Tony Benn. At his left a Tamil holds a placard with a picture of Velupillai Prabhakaran, the leader of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) who was killed in an ambush by Sri Lankan government forces only a few days later on May 18.

Earlier there had been heated arguments on the march against the participation by the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP), a Sinhalese communist and Marxist–Leninist party which is a part of the government oppressing and fighting the Tamils.

More at May Day March & Rally


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.


Tamils remember Mullivaikkal massacre

Wednesday, October 2nd, 2019

The British colonised Ceylon and in the nineteenth century it was a major source of coffee grown on British owned plantations. When the coffee crops began to fail, efforts were made to replace coffee by tea plants and seeds from Assam in India. Although at first this was unsuccessful, by the end of the nineteenth century tea had replaced coffee as the major export crop.

Sri Lankan Tamils had lived in parts of the island since at least around the 2nd century BC, but the tea plantations imported Indian Tamils to the hill areas in large numbers. Following independence in 1948, the Sinhalese-led government deported large numbers of the Indian Tamils and also made life difficult for the Sri Lankan Tamils, severely limiting employment opportunies, suppressing their culture and encouraging anti-Tamil riots, leading to the start of a civil war in 1983.

One-third of Sri Lankan Tamils now live outside Sri Lanka, the largest group, around 300,000, being in Canada.  There are thought to be between 100,000 and 200,000 British Tamils living in the UK, the figures vague as Tamil was not one of the ethnic groups listed in the UK census, though people could write it in.

Over 70,000 Tamils are thought to have been killed in the earlier phases of the Sri Lankan Civil war, but it came to a particularly disastrous and bloody end in 2009, on a small strip of land at Mullivaikkal, where 40,000 Tamils, around half of them civilians, are thought to have been killed, mainly by shelling by Sri Lankan government forces in what they had designated as a ‘no-fire’ zone, but some by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). The numbers are highly disputed, with huge variations between government and Tamil sources, but there is no doubt that it was a massacre on a terrible scale. According to the Tamil Guardian:”

After providing an initial death toll of 40,000, the UN found evidence suggesting that 70,000 were killed. Local census records indicate that at least 146,679 people are unaccounted for and presumed to have been killed during the Sri Lankan military offensive.

May 18th, the date on which this protest took place is widely marked as Mullivaikkal Genocide Remembrance Day

The protest I photographed included some graphic re-enactments of shooting (though only with crude wooden guns) and many people with bandages and fake blood, giving plenty of photographic opportunities. And unsurprisingly, feeling run high. Tamils want Sri Lanka to face prosecutions by the International Criminal Court for war crimes and a referendum in Sri Lanka to lead to the setting up of an independent state, Tamil Eelam.

More on the protest: 10 Years since Mullivaikkal massacre
A week earlier I photographed a group of Tamils at Downing Strike begining a week of hunger strike for their demands:
Tamil Genocide Hunger Strike


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.

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