Posts Tagged ‘Turkey’

Hate Crime, Turkish Invasion, Hong Kong & More

Thursday, November 2nd, 2023

Hate Crime, Turkish Invasion, Hong Kong & More – Saturday 2nd November 2019 was a busy day for me and I made six posts from different events on My London Diary – and here is a little about each in the order of my day.


Day of the Dead – Columbia Market, Bethnal Green

Hate Crime, Turkish Invasion, Hong Kong & More

I walked from Hoxton Overground station to Columbia Market which was holding a festival for the Mexican Day of the Dead, arriving at the time this was supposed to start. But it had been raining heavily and had only just stopped which had put off others from coming early and the streets were pretty deserted. So all I was able to photograph were the decorations on the street and on some of the shops.

Hate Crime, Turkish Invasion, Hong Kong & More

Things would almost certainly have become more interesting had I stayed, but I had other things to attend and had to leave after around half an hour. I’d intended to return later but was too busy. I did take a few pictures as I walked to and from the station as well.

Day of the Dead


Against constitutional change in Guinea – Downing St

Hate Crime, Turkish Invasion, Hong Kong & More

Back in central Westminster I photographed protesters from the UK branch of the National Front for the Defence of the Constitution (FNDC) who were demanding that President Alpha Conde abandoned the constitutional chages that would enable him to seek a third term in power.

Hate Crime, Turkish Invasion, Hong Kong & More

The London protest came after massive protests in Guinea in October during which 11 people had been killed in government violence against the opposition and peaceful protesters. They called for an end to and end to the killing and the release of all political prisoners, with posters showing the victims and calling for peace and justice in their country.

Against constitutional change in Guinea


Stop Hate Crime, Educate for Diversity – Downing Street

Also at Downing Street, campaigners from Stand Up to Lgbtq+ Hate Crime condemned the increasing incidence of hate crime and bigotry against LGBTQ+ people and defended the teaching of lessons which feature LGBTQ+ families and relationships.

Their message was one of celebrating love, inclusion and diversity and say No to Homophobia, Islamophobia and Transphobia. I took some pictures and left as some began to speak about their own experience of discrimination at school before before the group marched to Eros in Piccadilly Circus for a further rally.

Stop Hate Crime, Educate for Diversity


Defend Rojava against Turkish Invasion – Marble Arch & Oxford St

The largest protest of the day was a a rally and march in support of Rojava in North-East Syria against Turkish invasion which gathered at Marble Arch.

Since soon after the start of the revolution in Syria a large area of the country had been under the de-facto control of a Kurdish-led democratic administration which has put ecological justice, a cooperative economy and women’s liberation at the heart of society, enshrined in a constitution which recognises the rights of the many ethnic communities in the area.

Many have seen this area, Rojava, as an important model for more democratic government, particularly in multi-ethnic areas, but Turkey sees it as a threat on its borders. For generations it has been discriminating and fighting against its own Kurdish population which makes up almost a fifth of the country’s population, and the Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan, held in prison in Turkey since he was abducted from Kenya in 1999.

In prison Ocalan continued to campaign for the Kurdish people but had moved away from militancy towards political solutions. In jail he wrote about the rights of women and developed the philosophy of democratic confederalism which forms the basis of the constitution of Rojava.

Rojava has received wide support for its principles from environmental groups, green movements, feminists, human rights supports and those generally on the left, but not from western governments who see it as a threat to capitalist hegemony.

Despite this, the Kurdish people’s defence forces in Syria with the aid of US air power led the successful fight against ISIS. Turkey had backed ISIS although denying to do so, aiding them in getting the massive funds they needed by smuggling out oil from the ISIS held regions. Again they saw ISIS as an ally in their fight against the Kurds.

When Trump withdrew US troops from Syria, Turkey took advantage of this to invade areas of Syria controlled by the Kurds, and to encourage and aid Islamic groups to join them in their attacks. Turkey as a member of NATO has been encouraged and helped to develop its armed forces and is second only to the USA within Nation and is said to be the 13th largest military power in the world.

The Turkish invasion threatened the existence of Rojava, who had been forced to go to both Russia and President Asad of Syria for support. Obviously this threatens the future of the area and its constitution and its long-term hopes of autonomy in the area.

I left the protest on Oxford St on its way to the BBC who they accuse of having failed to report accurately on what is happening in the area. There had certainly been very little coverage of the recent events and a long-term failure to address issues of discrimination against the Kurds in Turkey.

Defend Rojava against Turkish Invasion


March for Autonomy for Hong Kong – Marble Arch & Oxford St

Also meeting at Marble Arch were protesters, mainly Chinese from Hong Kong living in the UK, and in solidarity and supporting the five demands of those then protesting in Hong Kong. Many wore masks to protect their identity, either because they may return home or fear their families there may be persecuted.

They demanded complete withdrawal of the Extradition Bill, a retraction of characterising the protests as riots, withdrawal of prosecutions against protesters, an independent investigation into police brutality and the implementation of Dual Universal Suffrage.

More pictures at March for Autonomy for Hong Kong


Queer Solidarity for trans and non-binary – Soho Square

Bi Survivors Network, London Bi Pandas, Sister Not Cister UK, BwiththeT and LwiththeT held a rally in Soho Square pointing out that the newly announced LGB Alliance’, which claims to be protecting LGB people is actually a hate group promoting transphobia.

They pointed out that trans and non-binary people have always been a part of the gay community and played an important part in the fight for gay rights and in particular Stonewall, and there is no place for such bi-phobic and gay-separatist views in the gay community.

More pictures: Queer Solidarity for trans and non-binary



Israel, Egypt, ISIS, Sewol & Marikana 2014

Wednesday, August 16th, 2023

Israel, Egypt, ISIS, Sewol & Marikana: The Marikana massacre when 34 striking mine workers were shot dead in South Africa took place on 16th August 2012, so today the 11th anniversary will be marked in London by a commemoration beginning at 16.00 outside the South African Embassy in Trafalgar Square. You can read more about the massacre and these commemoration in my post last year, London Solidarity with Marikana Miners.

Israel, Egypt, ISIS, Sewol & Marikana

On Saturday 16th August 2014 I attended the event on the Second Anniversary of Marikana Miners Massacre and you can see more pictures from this on My London Diary.

But the Marikana commemoration was not the only event on that day, and here are also some of the other things I photographed.


Boycott Israel – Boycott M&S – Brixton

Israel, Egypt, ISIS, Sewol & Marikana

Protesters outside M&S in the centre of Brixton argued that the store legitimises the illegal occupation of Palestine and supports Zionist racism and brutality by selling Israeli goods and called for a boycott in solidarity with the people of Gaza. I made a brief visit as the RCG picket was beginning and then took the tube to Bond Street.

More pictures at Boycott Israel – Boycott M&S.


R4BIA remembers Egyptian massacres – South St, Mayfair

Israel, Egypt, ISIS, Sewol & Marikana

Marchers met at the Egyptian Embassy to march to Downing St on the anniversary of the massacres by Egyptian forces at Rabaa and Nahda squares on 14th August 2013 in which over 2600 were killed, 4000 injured and many arrested.

Israel, Egypt, ISIS, Sewol & Marikana

The Rabaa hand sign with four fingers extended and the thumb pressed into the palm was adopted in Egypt by the Muslim Brotherhood and supporters following the overthrow of President Morsi by a military coup. After his election Morsi had given himself unlimited powers to make laws and moved the country towards an Islamist state, eventually leading to mass protests which led the army to move on 3 July 2013, deposing him and suspending the new constitution. Pro-Morsi demonstrations were brutally dispersed with Human Rights Watch documenting over 900 deaths.

More pictures at R4BIA remembers Egyptian massacres.


March against ISIS massacres – Portland Place

The Kurdish People’s Assembly and others met in front of the BBC to march against the attacks on Kurds, Shia, Sufi, Christian and Yezidi communities in Iraq, calling on the UK government for greater action including pressure on Turkey and Qatar to end support for jihadism.

They met in front of the BBC to emphasise the lack of proper reporting of what is happening in Iraq and as one poster said, ‘Your silence is Killing people‘. The BBC has failed to report on the support that Turkey with its increasingly Islamic regime has given to the Islamic State jihadist forces. ISIS relies on oil exports smuggled through Turkey to support its existence and murdering attacks.

Our government keeps quiet about Turkey and refuses to condemn its activities as Turkey is a key member of NATO, and as in so many areas, the BBC toes the government line. While it employs many fine journalists they are constrained by their editors and managers up to the highest level and not allowed to report impartially, particularly on the UK domestic channels. Sometimes the World Service does rather better.

More pictures at Kurds Protest against ISIS


Koreans call for special Sewol Ferry Act – Trafalgar Square

Koreans had been holding regular silent vigils in Trafalgar Square since the Sewol ferry disaster in April that year when schoolchildren on board were told to ‘Stay Put’ below decks and drowned.

The protest on 16th August was part of global day of support for the Sewol Tragedy Victims’ Family Committee petition, already signed by around 4 million, for a special bill to investigate the deaths of 304 people, mainly high school students in the ferry disaster.

Koreans call for special Sewol Ferry Act


Second Anniversary of Marikana Miners Massacre

Taking place later in Trafalgar Square was the commemoration of the Second Anniversary of Marikana Miners Massacre mentioned at the start of this post.

Among those taking part was mime protester Charlie X, who came with a poster of the constitution of the Republic of South African and stood holding this and with a miner’s lamp in front of the locked gates of the embassy.


Turkey & Free Assange

Friday, June 16th, 2023

Turkey & Free Assange: Ten years ago today on Sunday 16th June 2013 I covered two protests in London around countries and issues still in the news now. The first was demanding an end to human rights abuses in Turkey and for Erdogan to go – and he has recently won another term in office and his authoritarian regime continues. It was also the first anniversary of Julian Assange taking refuge in the Eduadorian Embassy and Assange is still confined, now in Belmarsh prison, still likely to be extradited to spend the rest of his life in US prisons for publishing details of US war crimes.


Turks continue fight – Turkish Embassy to Downing St

Turkey & Free Assange

Around a thousand British Turks met opposite the London Embassy and marched to a rally opposite Downing St. Their march was in solidarity with mass rallies in Turkey a day before a general strike there called by the country’s largest union representing public sector workers as a response to the brutality used in clearing Gezi Park.

Turkey & Free Assange

President Erdogan and his ironically named Justice and Development Party AKP had brutally repressed earlier peaceful protests in Turkey in Gezi Park, Taksim Square and elsewhere in the country. Some of the protesters wore badges of protesters shot by police in demonstrations.

Turkey & Free Assange

This was a very patriotic protest, many carrying Turkish flags and singing Turkish songs. The modern Turkish state was established by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk in the 1920s as a secular and democratic state and many Turks feet the AKP governments under Erdogan sine 2002 have seriously eroded these principles.

Turkey & Free Assange

Since 2002 they have imposed their conservative Islamic views on the country and have built an extra 17,000 mosques. Authoritarian measure have restricted the sale of alohol and shows of public affection.

Turkey & Free Assange

The government had enacted strict control over Turkish media and imprisoned more journalists than any other country in the world. Opponents of the government are accused of treason and imprisoned without evidence, while court hearings can take years. Many had been held without charge for 5 years or more.

It remains impossible to have fair elections in Turkey as the government exercises almost complete control of the media. In May 2023 Erdogan was re-elected president with 52% of the vote against 48% for his opponent although there had been hopes he might lose.

More at Turks continue fight.


Waiting for Assange – Ecuadorian embassy, Knightsbridge

Sunday 16th June 2013 marked exactly a year since Julian Assange had been given asylum at the Ecuadorian embassy and I joined a crowd of supporters waiting for him to appear on the balcony and calling from release of all whistle-blowers.

The UK government had refused to allow him passage to Ecuador and instead had spent over £3m of taxpayers cash over a constant police presence outside the embassy, which occupies only a few rooms in the building.

The event was organised by Veterans for Peace UK, and they linked Assange with others ‘facing persecution for exposing the true nature of war and the state‘, Edward Snowden and Bradley Manning. Supporters view Assange, Manning and Snowden as heroes who should be released rather than prosecuted.

The decision of Sweden to pursue the extradition of Assange on charges related to his sexual activities appears to have been politically motivated to make it easier for him to be transferred to the USA.

Among those at the protest were women from Women Against Rape who made clear they were against his extradition, accusing politicians of using “once again women’s fury & frustration at the prevalence of rape & other violences” to advance their own purposes.

The protest continued with a protest on the pavement outside the embassy holding up signs with the message ‘F R E E A S S A N G E’. They went back acrooss to the pavement opposite after a few minutes when politely asked to do so by police. A number of South Americans entertained with songs, but there was no sign of Assange.

It had been suggested when I arrived that he would come out at around 5pm, but at that time the embassy told press he was sleeping and they hoped he would come out at 6pm. I decided there was little point in my waiting and left.

Following a change in government in Ecuador police were invited inside to arrest Assange in April 2019. Since then he has been kept, much of the time in isolation, in the high security Belmarsh prison in Thamesmead. After a number of legal cases and appeals, ten days ago on 6th June 2023 he lost his appeal against extradition.

More at Waiting for Assange.


Turkish Spring, Badgers and BNP – 2013

Thursday, June 1st, 2023

Turkish Spring, Badgers and BNP: Ten Years ago on Saturday 1st June 2013 Turks in London were celebrating the start of the Turkish Spring, but now they are mourning last Sundays’ election results with the Islamist dictator winning another term in office. Badger culling was just beginning and there is still no sign it will actually end and over 210,000 badgers have now been killed to little effect – and Defra is still failing to introduce more effective methods to control bovine TB. Anti-fascists managed to prevent the BNP laying a wreath to exploit the killing of Lee Rigby – but despite the family’s clearly stated wishes and MoD condemnation – racists including a leading Tory MP are still using the murder to whip up hatred.


London Supports Turkish Spring – Marble Arch

Saturday 1st June 2013

A large crowd, mainly Turks and Kurds from North London, met in Hyde Park close to Marble Arch for a march in support of the popular protests that had erupted over the previous few days over Gezi Park.

Saturday 1st June 2013

At first there had been small protests against the loss of one of Istanbul’s few remaining green spaces for a shopping mall. But brutal police repression, with tear gas and water cannon used indiscriminately on people in the area angered many and the protests grew, becoming protests calling for an end of the authoritarian Erdogan regime.

Saturday 1st June 2013

Many Turks were then disturbed at Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party (AKP), abandoning the secular state established as the basis for modern Turkey in the 1920s by Kemal Atatürk towards a conservative authoritarian Islamic dictatorship.

Saturday 1st June 2013

This process has continued, and Turkey has also been involved in the supporting of wider Islamic movements in the Middle East, particularly ISIS, as well as supporting Russia in its intervention in crushing the anti-Assad revolt in Syria. Last week’s election came as a huge blow to democracy in Turkey.

The 2013 protest was high-spirited and noisy, with many young men including Turkish football supporters. Many of London’s Turkish and Kurdish community are people who had to flee Turkey for political reasons and their sons and daughters. Kurds in particular have long been subjected to huge discrimination and oppression with the Turkish government attempting to eliminate their culture.

I had to leave before the march to the Turkish Embassy were around four thousand protested in support of the ‘Turkish Spring’.

London Supports Turkish Spring


Cull Politicians, Not Badgers – Westminster

I joined a large crowd at a rally in front of Tate Modern for the National March Against the Badger Cull, where the speakers included Queen Guitarist Brian May.

Many at the protest had come up to London from country areas, particularly from the pilot areas in west Gloucestershire and west Somerset where culling was to start later in the year. Many more licences were issued in later years and culling is continuing. Detailed statistical analysis suggests in some areas culling has led to a slight decease in bovine TB but overall it has had no real effect as badgers are only responsible for a small amount of the transmission, with 94% of infection being passed from cow to cow.

Defra’s support for culling and their reluctance to bring in more accurate cattle testing, controls on the movement of cattle, vaccination, proper slurry management and other effective measures seems largely to be driven by lobbying from farmers who want to avoid more controls on their activities.

After the rally there was a short march to Parliament where some of those taking part danced on the street, with many then going on to join the protest taking place opposing the racist British National Party.

Cull Politicians, Not Badgers


Anti-Fascists Prevent BNP Exploiting Brutal Killing

Anonymous were there along with Antifa, trade unionists and the UAF to oppose the BNP hate

On May 22nd 2013, off-duty Fusilier Lee Rigby was brutally murdered on a Woolwich street, run over then stabbed by two Muslim men who tried to decapitate him. The killing was universally condemned, including by Britain’s Muslim community, and I had two days ago photographed a march and rally in East London by Muslims to show solidarity and sympathy with the family of Lee Rigby and to denounce his brutal killing, describing it as against all the tenets of Islam.

Nick Griffin answers questions under a placard ‘Hate Preachers Out’ and fails to appreciate the irony

The BNP had wanted to organise a mass protest in Woolwich to exploit the killing, making use of his senseless slaughter there to gain support for their anti-Muslim rhetoric, but police had banned their plans for a march as it would have endangered public safety, enraging many in the local area. Lee Rigby’s father had made clear that he and his family did not want his son’s death to be used to stir up hatred.

Instead, BNP leader Nick Griffin had planned to march to the Cenotaph and lay a wreath there, and had come with a small group of supporters to Old Palace Yard to start the march. It was only a very small group, even for the BNP, with perhaps as I wrote suggesting “it was something that even the ultra-right membership of the BNP could not stomach”.

Griffin himself blamed the low turnout on the police turning many of his followers away, stating that the whole area around Westminster was “a virtual exclusion zone“. I’d just walked there seeing no unusual police activity, and certainly large numbers who had come to oppose his wreath laying found no problems in getting in to do so.

Police arrest an anti-fascist

It would have been possible for anyone – BNP member or not – to go to the Cenotaph on any of the days following the brutal murder and even on this morning to lay a wreath, though not today a well-known racist face like Griffin himself. But Grffin’s intentions were not about expressing sympathy. He wanted a triumphal march with flags flying to gain support for his Islamophobic hate, and given the opposition this never seemed likely to happen.

Police tried hard to clear a way for the BNP to march, but anti-fascists held their ground and refused to move. Police told them they were acting illegally and would be arrested if they did not move – and I saw a couple of double-decker buses being filled with arrested protesters and driven away, but there were simply too many for police to arrest them all.

The protest brought back memories of Cable Street, though few if any there were old enough to have actually been there back in 1936, though rather more had been at the http://mylondondiary.co.uk/2006/10/oct.htm 70th anniversary. But as then the slogan was ‘They shall not pass’, and on this occasion there were not enough police to force a way through. After the two buses of arrested protesters had been driven away police tactics changed and they simply maintained a standoff keeping the opposing groups apart.

Police told the BNP that they expected the anti-fascists to go home and they expected be able to clear the route by half past four, but they stayed on. It was the BNP who gave up, turning around and walking back to waiting coaches and leaving. When the anti-fascists were told the BNP had gone, they marched to Old Palace Yard for a brief rally to celebrate the victory.

Much more about the BNP and the protest which stopped them on My London Diary:
Anti-Fascists Stop BNP Wreath Laying
BNP Exploiting Woolwich Killing Stopped


Armenians, Copts and Venezuela – 20 April 2013

Thursday, April 20th, 2023

It’s easy to forget in our current government racist climate towards asylum seekers that Britain has a long history of giving sanctuary to political activists from around the world who have been forced to leave their countries and there are a number of statures, memorials and plaques around the city that remind us of this.

Of course our historical record is blemished; although we supported those striving for freedom from the rule of other European countries, attempts in our own Empire to gain independence were met with often illegal, ruthless and horrific violence as well as deliberate famines starving many of the general population – as in India, Ireland, Kenya and elsewhere.

Despite increasingly draconian laws enacted in recent years Britain remains a relatively free country. Protests are coming under increasing restrictions, but we can still protest although it is now rather more likely we may end up in prison for doing so in any active way – and protesters have even been jailed recently for contempt of court for attempting to defend their actions.

Over the years I’ve covered many protests by communities from other countries living in the UK, often involving people who came here as asylum seekers. Most are protesting in solidarity with protesters and victims in their home countries and some because those at home are unable to protest.

The three events I covered on Saturday 20th April 2013 were taking place for different reasons but all involved people whose origins are in other countries and were protesting about events in those countries, current or historical.


Armenians Remember the Genocide

Armenians, Copts and Venezuela - 20 April 2013

Armenians march through London every year in memory of the Armenian Genocide by Turkey. Beginning in 2015, Turkey arrested around a thousand members of the Armenian community and murdered them, followed by the killing of around 300,000 Armenian conscripts in the Turkish Arm and then “mass killings, deportations and death marches of women, children and elderly men into the Syrian Desert. During those marches, many of the weak or exhausted were killed or died. Women were raped. The deportees were deprived of food and water. Starvation and dehydration became commonplace.”

Armenians, Copts and Venezuela - 20 April 2013

Most of the deaths came in 1915, but massacres and deportations continued on a smaller scale until 1923, with around 1 – 1.5 million people – roughly 70% of the Armenian population in Turkey – being killed.

Armenians, Copts and Venezuela - 20 April 2013

Armenia has an ancient cultural heritage, with the first Armenian state dating back to 860BC, and at times its territory has included large parts of its surrounding countries. It was invaded by many other countries and in the 16th century was divided between the Turkish Ottoman Empire and Persia (Iran.) Russia took over the Iranian area following a war with Persian in the early 19th century.

Armenians, Copts and Venezuela - 20 April 2013

The Armenian Genocide took place during the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. After the Turkish revolution of 1908 there had been a massacre of around 20-30,000 Armenians at Adana in 2009. But it was during the First World War when Russia and the Ottoman Empire were fighting each other that the genocide took place, probably as a reaction to Armenian volunteers fighting on the Russian side.

Turkey still denies that the genocide took place, despite the incontrovertible evidence, and say that the deaths were the result of a civil war although the Armenians had no weapons and no military organisation.

Although the UN Commission on Human Rights has described it as genocide and many countries around the world have officially recognised it as such, including the United States, France, and Germany and the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Ireland parliaments, the UK government has instead come up with trivial excuses for refusing to do, including the fact that the term genocide was only defined in 1948. When the UN did so then, Raphael Lemkin who had coined the term genocide, described it as “The sort of thing Hitler did to the Jews and the Turks did to the Armenians.”

My London Diary describes the march through London to the Cenotaph, where there were speeches and wreaths were laid. I left the march as it moved off to a service in St Margaret’s Church in Parliament Square.
Armenians Remember the Genocide.


Copts Say End Egyptian Persecution – Old Palace Yard, Westminster

Around the corner from the church I joined UK Copts who were protesting Against the new Muslim Brotherhood led fascist regime in Egypt, which is attacking freedom, muzzling the press, undermining the legal system and encouraging attacks on religious minorities.

The protest followed an attack on April 8th on people leaving a mass funeral in St Mark’s Cathedral, Cairo, for 5 Copts who had been killed in violent clashes in the northern suburbs of the city. As the hundreds of worshippers tried to leave they were attacked with stones and Molotov cocktails thrown from nearby buildings and had to retreat back into the cathedral.

Clashes continued outside the cathedral, Egyptian security forces fired shots into the building and police fired tear gas. One Copt was killed and 84 people including 11 police were injured.

After the attack President Morsi spoke with Pope Tawadros II and issued a statement that he had given orders that the police guard the cathedral and that the state would protect the lives of both Christians and Muslims. But this was just one of many attacks on Copts in Egypt and they feel the authorities are encouraging violence against them.

The Copts see this as part of a growing Islamicisation which is also undermining Egypt’s judicial system, and as a deliberate attack on all opposition, including the liberal and left political opposition as well as all minority religious groups. The stress their protest was not against Muslims but to persuade the British government to stop supporting the current fascist regime in Egypt and to put pressure on the Egyptian government to uphold human and civil rights.

Copts Say End Egyptian Persecution


Stand Off at Venezuela Embassy – South Kensington

Following the death of President Hugo Chávez on 5 March 2013, elections were held in Venezuela on 14 April 2013 which resulted in a close victory with a majoirty of around 223,600 votes for Nicolás Maduro, the successor chosen by Chávez to stand for the United Socialist Party.

Opposition candidate Henrique Capriles refused to accept the result, demanding audits – which confirmed he had lost. Venezuela has a highly sophisticated and automated voting system that left no room for reasonable doubt that he had lost.

Middle-class Venezuelans who oppose Maduro and come along to protest at the embassy, and a wider group of people, mainly South Americans but not all from Venezuela, had come to defend it.

As I commented:

Maduro’s support comes largely from the workers in Venezuela, for whom the Chavez ‘revolution’ has seen real gains, including much improved healthcare. Many of those who were there to support him today had come to Britain as refugees – largely as a result of US-backed military coups in their countries. Their support for Chavez, and after him Maduro is hardly surprising.

More about the protest on My London Diary: Stand Off at Venezuelan Embassy


Brexit, Fridays For Future & Turkey

Wednesday, March 29th, 2023

I’d not been well for a few days in March 2019 and was still feeling rather weak and tired on Friday 29th March, but decided to go up to London and cover some events happening in and around Parliament Square. But I found I wasn’t really well enough, and had to leave and come home much earlier than I had intended, before things were expected to get rather livelier later in the day when extreme right protesters were expected to march join those already in the square.


Brexiteers protest Betrayal – Parliament Square

Brexit, Fridays For Future & Turkey
‘Clean out the Augean Stables’ was doubtless the kind of snappy slogan that would appeal to Rees-Mogg

Friday 29th March had been the original deadline for the UK to leave the EU established when Theresa May triggered Article 50 and this was approved by the House of Commons, officially notifying the European Council of its intention to leave.

Brexit, Fridays For Future & Turkey

But things had not gone to plan, Parliament had dithered and there had been no real attempt to make the necessary negotiations for our departure – and indeed these have only really been completed with the Windsor Framework more or less agreed a month ago. Boris Johnson won an election on his promise of an ‘oven-ready agreement’ but this turned out as might have been expected to be half-baked.

Brexit, Fridays For Future & Turkey

Even with the agreement over the Irish border – if it proves workable, much still need to be agreed to really sort out our relationship with the EU and get things back to normal, though even that will be rather unsatisfactory compared with EU membership.

Brexiteers came to Parliament Square to protest against this failure to leave by the deadline, holding posters and banners. Later a ‘Leave Means Leave’ march arrived with two Orange marching bands.

There was a lot of noisy shouting and some MPs who walked through the crowd were subjected to angry abuse, while a few who were ardent supporters of Brexit stopped riedly to talk with the protesters.

There were also a few Remain supporters, and while I was present they were largely ignored by the Brexiteers and the atmosphere remained generally calm. Among them was #EUsupergirl Madeleina Kay dressed as Britannia.

But after a couple of hours I was feeling very out of breath and weak and decided I was in no state to continue working, particularly as things were expected to get rather more heated as the extreme right Tommy Robinson and the Democratic Football Lads Alliance were expected to arrive shortly.

Brexiteers protest Betrayal


Fridays for Future climate protest – Parliament Square

Although the Brexiteers were the largest and noisiest group in Parliament Square, others were also protesting and I photographed them too.

The school strike for climate was one of many weekly #FridaysForFuture events taking place in many cities and towns across the world. These protests were inspired by the action of 15-year old Greta Thunberg who instead of going back to school at the end of the Summer break in August broke the law by protesting outside the Swedish Parliament.

Fridays for Future climate protest


Kurds support hunger strikers – Houses of Parliament

On the pavement in front of Parliament as I was getting ready to leave I photographed a group of Kurds who were protesting in solidarity with hunger strikers in Turkey, some of whom had been on hunger strike since November.

The strikes began on November 7th and were against the imprisonment of members of the HDP (Peoples’ Democratic Party) and the Free Women’s Congress, as well as many journalists, socialists and LGBTI+ campaigners. A number of Kurds in the UK have also gone on hunger strike in sympathy, including two of those taking part in this protest.

Leading the hunger strike in Turkey was HDP MP Leyla Güven, on indefinite hunger strike for over 110 days, vowing to continue until death unless the isolation of Kurdish Leader Abudullah Ocalan in prison was ended – and called an end to her hunger strike in May when this happened, having kept alive by consuming only Vitamin B and salty and sugary liquids.

The UK government continues to support Turkey as a fellow member of NATO despite the continuing human rights abuses there. Ocalan and many other Kurds remain in jail and many Kurds have been killed.

Kurds support hunger strikers


Kurds March Against Turkish State Attacks – 2016

Tuesday, February 7th, 2023

Kurds March Against Turkish State Attacks

Seven years ago on February 7th 2016 I made my way on a Sunday afternoon to Edmonton in north London. I don’t now much like working on Sundays, when I often go out for a walk with my wife and catch up with things from the week that’s just ended. And public transport, on which I rely to get into and around London is often disrupted by engineering work on the railways and poorer or non-existent bus services.

Kurds March Against Turkish State Attacks

But the trains and underground on that day took me smoothly if rather slowly to Silver Street from where it was just a short walk along the street to the corner with Fore Street where Kurds were meeting up for a march. Angel Road is now I think the underpass which carries most of the traffic along the North Circular under this junction, but this is still the Angel junction.

Kurds March Against Turkish State Attacks

I’d responded to an invitation to cover the event with the title ‘End the siege of North Kurdistan! Turkey out of Rojava!’ which read (in part) “Kurdish, Turkish and left organisation call on the unions, left, progressive, feminist and antifascist groups of London to join a march through the heart of the community from Upper Edmonton to Haringay. We are calling for the end of the siege of the Kurdish regions by the Turkish army, and the withdrawal of Turkish troops from Rojava. We must show our solidarity with the resistance and popular assemblies in both regions, and build our links with this heroic and inspiring movement.”

The time given for the protest was 16:00 and I’d arrived a little before 4pm, hoping to take as many pictures as possible before the light faded. Sunset here in early February is just before 5pm, not that there was much if any sign of the sun on that dry but very overcast day. By the time the march moved off a little after 4.30pm the light was dropping fast, and before long I was working at ISO 2000 and 3200 on the two Nikons I was using. Even then many pictures were a little blurred due to people moving at walking pace.

On My London Diary I write more about the groups involved and the reasons for the protest. Almost all those on the march were from Kurdish groups and as I commented “Apart from a banner from the Paddington Branch of the RMT there was no presence from the British left, who don’t appear to have woken up to what is happening in Turkey and in Kurdistan.”

Our governments too over the years appear to have kept a deliberately blind eye to events in Turkey, standing up for it as a member of NATO rather than standing up to it and supporting the human and civil rights of the Kurds, who have long been oppressed.

Things got worse in Turkey after the success of Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s AKP party in the June 2015 elections with curfews, the imposition of martial law, and arrests of anyone opposed to the Turkish government, with attacks by tanks and artillery, and snipers targeting homes, killing more than 400 civilians in the last 7 months. Politicians, human rights activists, journalists, students and 30 mayors had been imprisoned and hundreds of thousands have been threatened and forced to flee their homes.

Britain and the EU have turned that blind eye to the support of Turkey for ISIS, aiding them to smuggle oil whose sale finances their activities. Kurds have led the fight against ISIS and Turkish attacks on them have hindered them.

Since 2016 the situation in Kurdish areas of Syria has worsened with Turkish forces invading parts of the area with the help of former ISIS fighters in 2018. Hundreds of Kurds were killed and Turkey has instituted a policy of ethnic cleansing, depopulating the area. The remaining Kurds face death, extortion, and kidnappings by various armed groups backed by Turkey. Kurdish-owned homes and farms are confiscated, and new settlements for non-Kurds are being built.

I left the march shortly after it passed White Hart Lane. I was getting tired and it was getting too dark to take more pictures without flash, and I thought I had done enough.

More at Kurds protest Turkish State attacks on My London Diary.


Santas, a Gay Objecter, Routemasters, Victorian Christmas & Ethiopia

Friday, December 9th, 2022

Seventeen years ago on Friday December 9th 2005 I sspent the day photographing in London, and posted an account on My London Diary. Like all posts in the first few years of the site the text was entirely lower case, an affection I now regret, and so rather hard to read, and although there were plenty of pictures they weren’t well-connected with the text, a design fault that I only finally corrected in posts from 2007 on. So I thought today I would put things right for that one day. This is the post from 2005 in normal case and with a few typos and other minor corrections, with text and pictures connected and I hope not too many new mistakes.


Fathers4Justice: 24 Days of Christmas Chaos – Westminster, 9 Dec 2006

Santas, a Gay Objecter, Routemasters, Victorian Christmas & Ethiopia
Santas and Mama Santas protest at Church of England and Dept of Education & Skills, Westminster

I’ve photographed Fathers4justice on several previous occasions. Today they were taking advantage of Christmas and the Father Christmas idea to protest against the Church of England. being on a Friday, there were rather fewer Father and Mother Christmases (and Santa’s Little Helpers were mainly at school, though some of their dads behind the whiskers were pulling a sickie.) It was still an arresting sight to see so many figures dressed in red on the street, including some rather inflated figures in inflatable suits.

After rather a slow start events warmed up a bit outside the offices of the Church of England, and, a few yards down the road, the Department for Education and Skills. Of course our ‘serious crimes’ law now forbids the use of amplified sound in demonstrations in Westminster, so the fathers simply had to shout rather loud. The next place for a stop was of course opposite Downing Street, where there were more shouted comments. I left the march as it turned down Whitehall Place on its way to the law courts in the Strand.
more pictures


Free Mehmet Tarhan – Turkish Airlines, Pall Mall, Dec 9, 2005

Santas, a Gay Objecter, Routemasters, Victorian Christmas & Ethiopia

Outside Turkish Airlines at the bottom of Haymarket there was a picket protesting against Turkish imprisonment of protesters, in particular Mehmet Tarhan, a gay conscientious objector.

Santas, a Gay Objecter, Routemasters, Victorian Christmas & Ethiopia

Recently, his 4-year sentence for refusing military service was overruled on procedural grounds, and he is to be retried for insistent insubordination with the intent of evading military service.


London Transport – Last day for the Routemaster, 9 Dec 2005

Santas, a Gay Objecter, Routemasters, Victorian Christmas & Ethiopia
One of the last regular service journeys by a London Routemaster bus

The last proper bus service to use London’s signature Routemaster double-decker buses, route 159, ceased today, with its buses being replaced by more modern designs. I caught one of the last to run to take me down to Westminster, then photographed it. Although the official ‘last bus’ had already run, there were several others following on, with the final pair passing Big Ben 28 minutes after I made my picture.

There will still be a few Routemasters running in London on two special short ‘heritage routes’ both running. [The last of these came to an end in 2021 – and there is now a private company running ‘Route A’ at £5 for a day ticket – not covered by your Oyster or Travelcard.]

More pictures of this and other London Transport related images


Victorian Christmas Market – Chrisp St, Poplar, Dec 9, 2005

Hat Trick – Jim and Bev James Singing Chimney Sweeps

Chrisp street market was part of an early post-war public housing redevelopment, the Lansbury estate, built for the 1951 Festival of Britain. Fifty or so years later it was beginning to show its age and there has been some tidying up and its pedestrian precincts are now rather tidier than a few years ago.

The market is bustling with life, more so than usual when I visited, as there were two days of a special Victorian Christmas event. There were various special stalls in the market, and also entertainers wandering around and performing on a small stage. There were kids from two local schools who had come to perform but unfortunately I had to leave before they had really started.

I’d hoped to return on the Saturday, when things would have been livelier, but in the end I just couldn’t make it.

more pictures


The Ethiopian Tragedy – Stop UK Support – Marble Arch, Dec 9, 2005

Ethiopians from across Europe protest against Ethiopian concentration camps and ask for end to UK support.

At Marble Arch there was a crowd gathering of Ethiopians from across Europe, come to protest at the British government’s support of the oppressive communist regime in their country.

More than 70,000 people are detained by the regime, being tortured and dying in concentration camps. Britain is spending £30 million of our money to support the regime that is violating human rights there. The protesters want the British public to urge their MPs to support motions on the situation in Ethiopia and demand an end to these crimes.

more pictures


Naked Vegans, Acid Attacks, Anonymous & Kobane

Tuesday, November 1st, 2022

PETA World Vegan Day Naked Protest – Trafalgar Square, Sat 1 Nov 2014

Wikipedia tells me that World Vegan Day is an annual event celebrated by vegans around the world every 1 November and was established in 1994 to mark the 50th anniversary of the founding of the UK Vegan Society and the coining of the terms “vegan” and “veganism”. The exact date of the founding wasn’t known and Nov 1st was chosen for its association with “Samhain/Halloween and the Day of the Dead”. November 1st has also been All Saints Day since AD 835.

I’m not a vegan. But I have no problems with eating vegan food or vegetarian food, but often prefer meat or fish in my meals. But clearly reducing the amount of meat that is eaten by people around the world would be a useful contribution to reducing carbon emissions, although some vegetable production does involve a considerable carbon footprint, as well as environmental problems.

I welcome that many people now choose not to eat animals and avoid animal products, whatever their reasons, but also think there are good reasons to keep farming animals though there are plenty of farming practices I think should be banned. But keeping livestock is very much a traditional part of life in this country, one that has produced the landscape we enjoy and the animals we like to see in it. It can be done in an ethical and humane manner, though this means paying a price that allows farmers to do so.

So although I was happy to photograph PETA’s World Vegan Day protest in Trafalgar Square when activists wearing little clothing and smeared with fake blood lay on a large tarpaulin, I was not in sympathy with some of the views expressed by PETA. But the posters held by those taking part in the protest (I think less than half the advertised 255, the number of animals killed for food in the UK every second) simply noted the “1 billion animals killed for flesh each year” and encouraged people to “Choose Life: Chose Vegan“.

PETA World Vegan Day Naked Protest


Against acid attacks on Iranian women – Trafalgar Square, Sat 1 Nov 2014

I think I had actually come to Trafalgar Square for this protest, organised by the 8th March Women’s Organisation (Iran – Afghanistan).

They were in the square protesting at the horrific attacks on women who go onto the streets of Iran not wearing a veil. Gangs encouraged by the Iranian regime have thrown acid in the faces of many women, causing intense pain and burning, leaving them scarred and blinded. As the protest also pointed out as well as the forced wearing of the veil, women in Iran have no right to divorce, can still be stoned to death for adultery and can be victims of so-called ‘honour killings’.

Against acid attacks on Iranian women


Revolution Banner Drop – Waterloo Bridge and Trafalgar Square, Sat 1 Nov 2014

‘Anonymous’ protesters in Guy Fawkes masks held up a large banner with the message ‘REVOLUTION’ on Waterloo Bridge to publicise their November 5th ‘March Against Government Corruption’ in London. I photographed it from Westminster Bridge, but the banner really wasn’t quite large enough to really stand out against the background of the City.

Later they took the banner to Trafalgar Square where a rally in support of Kobane was taking place (see pictures below) and it was rather more impressive there.

Revolution Banner Drop


Global Solidarity With Kobane – Trafalgar Square, Sat 1 Nov 2014

November 1st was also World Kobane Day, and thousands were in Trafalgar Square supporting the defenders of Kobane against ISIS and fighting for the remarkable democratic revolution of Rojava, calling for aid for the Kurdish fighters and refugees, legitimisation of the PKK and the release of Ocalan. The protest was part of a Global day of solidarity with the YPG (People’s Defense Units) and the women of the YPJ fighting against ISIS.

The protest was organised by the Kurdish People’s Assembly and Peace in Kurdistan Campaign in cooperation with Kurdistan National Congress (KNK), Roj Women Assembly and Free Youth Movement and community organisations, and was also supported by some left and human rights groups, but failed to attract some of the larger groups on the left.

Among the speakers were human rights lawyer Margaret Owen OBE, an adviser to Kurdish human rights groups in London, Jean Lambert, Green Party MEP for London, Mark Thomas, Peter Tatchell and Father Joe Ryan, a Catholic priest from Haringey as well as those from various Kurdish groups.

Many speakers criticised Turkey for supporting ISIS and allowing the smuggling of oil and other goods through Turkey which finance ISIS. They also supported the the model constitution adopted in Rojava, the de facto autonomous Kurdish majority region in northern and north-eastern Syria as an important democratic development, for its pluralism, democratic participation and protection of fundamental human rights and liberties.

Global Solidarity With Kobane


Turkey and Voting Systems

Monday, July 25th, 2022

Turkey and Voting Systems – Saturday 25th July 2015, seven years ago today,wasn’t a particularly busy day for me in London, and I covered only three protests. What caught my attention, because of our current political situation was a protest following the May 2015 election over the unfairness of our current voting system. The other two were about repression in another country which has featured greatly in the news recently particularly over the export of grain from the Ukraine, our NATO ally Turkey.


Free Steve Kaczynski from Turkish Jail – Kingsway

Turkey and Voting Systems

Steve Kaczynski, born in Scotland was at one time employed by the BBC World Service as an expert on Turkey. He was arrested in April 2015 during a raid on a left-wing Turkish cultural centre on suspicion of being a British spy and was still in jail without charge, now on hunger strike.

Turkey and Voting Systems

Kaczynski was at the centre to show international solidarity against fascism when it was raided by Turkish police following a hostage incident in a courthouse where a state prosecutor and the two gunmen holding him captive were killed, but there is no evidence that he was in any way involved with the incident.

Turkey and Voting Systems

The Turkish media has made much of rumours leaked by the government that he was a British or German spy, but those who know him find this impossible to believe. His arrest appears to be part of a systematic programme by the AKP Turkish government to intimidate any political opposition.

The protest outside the building housing the Counsellor’s Office for Culture & Information of the Turkish Embassy on Kingsway, close to Holborn Station, included some from the British left as well as the Turkish Popular Front in the UK. Those who knew him described him as a kind and gentle man who abhors violence and has long campaigned for human rights and political freedom. The protesters handed out leaflets to people passing by and made a lot of noise singing and chanting, but the office was closed on a Saturday morning and it was unlikely that there was anyone in there to hear them.

Steve Kaczynski was finally released three months later, after surviving a 61 day hunger strike.

Free Steve Kaczynski from Turkish Jail


Make seats match votes – Old Palace Yard, Westminster

Great Britain in balloons, viewed from the north-west tip of the Scottish mainland

The May 2015 General Election resulted in the Conservative Party who got only 36.8% of the votes, just a little over a third, being returned with an overall majority, though only a small one.

A lone Green balloon on the south coast – and not enough room to put in the London area


Our first past the post constituency-based electoral system brings in huge differences based on both which party you vote for and the area in which you live. There was a Tory MP elected for every 34, 241 Tory voters, a Labour MP for every 40,290 Labour voters, but a Lib-Dem for every 301,990 Lib-Demo Voters and only 1 UKIP and one Green MP despite their parties getting 3,881,099 and 1,157,630 votes respectively. Two small parties with significant votes got no MPs at all.

A petition had been started before the election by Owen Winter, the independent member of the youth parliament for Cornwall, got over 200,000 signatures in a week or two and their were other similar well-supported petitions on other sites calling for voting reform and a system of proportional representation that would result in a government that reflected how people voted – signed in total by more than half a million people.

The protest included a map of the UK made by balloons of different colours for the various parties holding seats in the UK, which doubtless made sense for anyone sitting in a helicopter above the event but was pretty well impossible to see and photograph clearly at ground level.

After a short introduction, people went through the ‘map’ with pins popping balloons for the constituencies where no candidate got over 50% of the votes. Again this was hard to make visual sense out of at ground level.

What seemed to me lacking – apart from the other 499,000 or so who had signed the petitions – was any clear suggest of how a fairer voting system might work, though on My London Diary I put forward one suggestion which might work as well as retaining some of the advantages of the present system. But almost any system of PR would give us a fairer result than the current one, popular with the Conservatives and Labour as it entrenches their unfair advantage. Although the SNP also benefit from the current system they support electoral reform.

Make seats match votes


Kurds blame Turks for Suruc massacre – Downing St

32 Young activists were massacred by ISIS at Suruc on their way with toys, books and other materials to build a playground, library and other projects in Kobani (or Kobane). Kurds and supporters protested at Downing St, blaming our NATO ally Turkey for supporting ISIS.

People hold pictures of some of those killed by ISIS

Kobani is a Kurdish-majority city in northern Syria, close to the Syria–Turkey border, which became a part of Rojava, the autonomous area in the north of Syria under Kurdish control as a consequence of the Syrian Civil War. It was beseiged by ISIS from September 2014 to January 2015, and the defeat of ISIS in the area by the Kurdish Peoples Protection Units, backed by US air support was a key turning point in the war against Islamic State.

Turkey has carried out a campaign of repression against the Kurds in Turkey who in return have been trying, sometimes by military means, to free themselves from Turkish domination which treats them as inferior citizens, outlawing their language and culture, and kidnapped and still holds their leader, Abdullah Ocalan. More recently Turkey has invaded parts of Rojava, and the Kobani area accepted the Syrian Army and their Russian support into the area in an attempt to protect it from Turkish invasion.

Turkey allows ISIS to operate on and across their border, as well as assisting them in the smuggling out of oil and other goods through Turkey vital in their economic support. They have also allowed recruits and supplies to reach them through Turkey. They appear to hope that ISIS will solve the Kurdish problem for them by defeating the Kurds in Iraq ad Syria.

After many speeches, including one by Edmonton MP Kate Osamor who has many Kurds in her constituency, they marched off towards the BBC which they say ignores attacks on Kurds and routinely sides, like the British Government with the Turkish government against them.

Kurds blame Turks for Suruc massacre