Posts Tagged ‘Ukraine’

Gitmo, London Uni, Ethiopia, Israel & Ukraine Miners

Monday, May 23rd, 2022

Gitmo, London Uni, Ethiopia, Israel & Ukraine Miners – Protests in London on Friday 23rd May 2014 included those against the continuing illegal detentions in Guantánamo, redundancies for support workers at London University, killing and human rights abuses in Ethiopia and those supporting hunger strikes in Israeli jails and strikes by miners in Ukraine.


Obama keep your promises – Trafalgar Square

A year after President Obama again pledged to close Guantánamo, activists in black hoods and orange jumpsuits in London and 40 other cities reminded him of yet another broken promise and called for the urgent release of Londoner Shaker Aamer – prisoner 239. The protest in London was part of an international day of action coordinated by the US organisation Witness Against Torture.

In the year since Obama made the promise only 12 prisoners have been released and 154 remain, subjected to appalling conditions, beatings and daily abuse of their human rights. Former London resident Shaker Aamer’s family in Battersea include a son born a few months after his capture by bandits in Afghanistan. He was one of the first transferred to Guantanamo and has been there over 12 years, despite having been cleared more than once for release.

More at Obama keep your promises.


Defend UoL Garden Halls workers – Senate House, University of London

The IWGB trade union protested at Senate House, the headquarters building of the University of London demanding proper consultation and negotiation over the redundancies of 80 workers at the University of London’s Garden Halls in Bloomsbury.

Those under threat of losing their jobs include porters, cleaners and security guards and include many of those who are active in the continuing struggle for proper sick pay, holidays and pensions in the ‘3 Cosas’ campaign at London University.

Although most of the workers are members of the independent union, the Independent Workers of Great Britain, both the University and its contracted employer Cofely refuse to talk with the IWGB and recognise instead more compliant traditional unions with few if any members among the workers. The IWGB states “many of these workers have been at the University of London for decades” and “the University bears responsibility for the treatment of these workers, regardless of the fact that their roles are contracted to private companies.”

The lunchtime protest was a noisy one with with workers using a megaphone, drums, whistles and shouting to make their demands heard. They intend to come back every Friday until the end of term or until management engages in meaningful talks over the issues.

More at Defend UoL Garden Halls workers.


Oromo and Ogaden against Ethiopian killings – Old Palace Yard, Westminster

Oromo and Ogaden National Liberation Front supporters had come to protest opposite Parliament over the Ethiopian government’s killing of Oromo university students peacefully protesting the grabbing of Oromo land and calling for the release of political prisoners.

There are around 30 million Oromo living in Ethopia and adjoining areas of Somalia and they are the Largest ethnic group in the country; their language is Africa’s third most widely spoken. There were a number of democratic kingdoms in the area before they were conquered in the late nineteenth century by Abyssinian emperor Menlik II, aided by the European colonial powers and their modern weapons. Around half the Oromo are said to have been killed in these wars and since then successive regimes have made determined attempts to destroy Oromo identity – its language, culture, customs and traditions.

This oppression continues, now with the help of the US government who since 9/ll have worked with the Ethopian government as part of their worlwide fight against “terrorism”, according tto BBC Newsnight and and the Bureau of Investigative Journalism “using billions of dollars of development aid as a tool for political oppression” with programmes of deliberate starvation of communities, and “of mass detentions, (and) the widespread use of torture and extra-judicial killings.

More at Oromo and Ogaden against Ethiopian killings.


Support Hunger Strike in Israeli Jails – G4S HQ, Victoria St

Protesters outside the London HQ of security firm G4S supported the mass hunger strike by Palestinians demanding an end to Israels’s illegal policy of rolling Administrative Detention which can jail them for years without charge or trial in prisons which G4S secures.

The hunger strike by Palestinian prisoners had begun a month earlier with 134 detainees taking part. Israel uses administrative detention to imprison Palestinians indefinitely without charge or trial, using rolling detention orders of 1-6 months which are renewable indefinitely in defiance of international law.

The detention orders are based on “secret evidence” which neither those detained or their lawyers have any right to see, and in the years up to 2014 there had been around 2000 made each year. Those given them include 9 Palestinian MPs. Often when released from one order detainees are immediately re-arrested on another.

Those taking part in hunger strikes included 34 years old Ayman Al-Tabeesh who has spent over 10 years in Israeli prisons. He began his second hunger strike in February 2014 and 70 days later had lost over 25kg; at the time of this protest he had been advised after 85 days that he was at grave risk of a heart attack. His brother had sent a message of support to the protesters for their earlier protest in support of the hunger strikers stating “We need you to tell the international community of Israel’s criminal brutality against our prisoners, the violation of their rights. The occupations illegal never ending administrative detention orders is nothing less than a slow death for Palestinian prisoners.”

More at Support Hunger Strike in Israeli Jails.


Solidarity with Ukrainian Miners – Holborn

A protest outside the registered offices of London mining company Evraz, owned by Russian Oligarchs Roman Abramovich and Alexander Abramov, supported miners in the Independent Union of Miners of Ukraine who had ensured peace and unity at Kryviy Rih and were striking to maintain real wages.

Kryviy Rih is a city in south-east Ukraine, at the centre of the largest steel industry in Eastern Europe with a population of around three-quarters of a million people. Protests there in 2014 demanded “Putin, Get Out!” and supported the Ukrainian government against the Russian separatists in Ukraine, with the Independent Union of Miners of Ukraine organising to defend the protests there.

The miners were striking for a doubling of wages to meet the rapid rise in the cost of living which has meant a 30-505 drop in real wages. They were angered after a 20% increase promised the previous month was not paid. The Miner’s union state “We are deeply convinced that the main cause of the destabilised situation in the country is the greed of Ukrainian and Russian oligarchs, who pay a beggar’s wage to workers, send all their profits off-shore and don’t pay taxes in Ukraine. In fact the oligarchs are almost completely exempt from taxes on their profits.”

On 11th May 2014 the miners had marched through the streets of Kryvyy Rih to protest at the offices of the mining company EVRAZ and had called for support in London where the company, owned by Russian Oligarch Roman Abramovich, along with his business partner Alexander Abramov, is based. The protest in Holborn was one of a number including at the registered office of the company in the City of London, at Chelsea Football Ground and elsewhere. This year, after the Russian invasion of Ukraine the British government accused the company of “providing financial services or making available funds, economic resources, goods or technology that could contribute to destabilising Ukraine” and after sanctions were applied to Abramovich the trading of Evraz shares on the London Stock Exchange was suspended.

In April 2022, Russian forces were around 60km from the city, but the ArcelorMittal Kryvyi Rih steel plant which had closed down all of its four blast furnaces at the start of the Russian invasion restarted production with one furnace in early April, though hampered by the loss of around 94% of their staff to military duties or by evacuation.

More at Solidarity with Ukrainian Miners.


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Past Time To Act On Climate Change?

Monday, March 7th, 2022

Past Time To Act On Climate Change? Seven years ago on Saturday 7th March 2015, 20,000 or so protesters marched through London to remind government and the nation it was Time to Act on Climate Change. Seven years on, the IPCC Sixth Assessment Report released a week ago warns “that climate breakdown is happening faster than expected and that the window to take action is closing fast. The report is a call to governments and private sector players to take drastic action against climate change.”

It’s a report that has largely been lost to public sight, pushed together with the stories about Tory sleaze and lies out of the news by the Russian invasion of Ukraine, though it has even more far-reaching implications. Not that I want to in any way minimise Putin’s criminal action and its terrible consequences for the people of Ukraine, largely innocents caught up in a situation of others’ making.

Of course the invasion of Ukraine has now raised the spectre of a nuclear war, which would almost certainly lead to mass extinction rather more rapidly than climate change, but the very dramatic prospect fortunately makes this almost unthinkable. Were it to happen it would almost certainly be by accident, something we have come close to several times in the past. Even our maddest politicians realise there is nothing to be gained by mutually assured destruction, and there would be no profits in it for the oligarchs or billionaires.

Climate change doesn’t happen in a massive flash, but is relatively slow and insidious. Even in the richer countries we are just beginning to feel its effects, and some in the Global South have long been suffering extreme hardship. But unless we heed the report and take drastic action without delay it will be too late to stop; many systems are coming close to their tipping points, past which there is no chance of recovery.

Scientists have been warning about the dangers for many years. Even 50 years ago when I was a student I spoke about the need to change the way we used the Earth’s resources and move to renewable systems of energy and agriculture, as many aspects of our current way of life were unsustainable.

Over 50 years ago it was clear to me that we needed to cut our dependence on fossil fuels, not just because of the carbon emissions and other pollutants, but also because thinking in the longer term it seemed a waste to burn what was a limited resource and an important chemical resource for plastics and other materials. I sold the only car I’d owned in 1967 or 8, because we needed to move away from a society based around private cars. It was clear too that we needed to farm in ways that conserved the soil and that many modern agricultural practices destroyed it – my father had joined the Soil Association which was established in 1946.

But of course there were huge profits to be made from fossil fuels and other industries that were driving up global emissions – and huge campaigns of obfuscation and lobbying. Most politicians in most countries were doing very nicely out of exploiting our natural resources – and the workers, who needed to be kept happy by more and more consumer goods as well as a huge and almost universal media promoting consumerism. Bread and circuses is of course nothing new.

Countries around the world, whatever their politics, are almost entirely run by politicians who have prospered from ‘business as usual’, and usually business corruption which they have colluded in by allowing money laundering, allowing huge tax avoidance and evasion and more. They have now learnt to talk the talk about climate change, but, as Greta Thunberg pointed out, it has been all “blah, blah, blah”, promises but little or no action.

There were many different groups taking part in ‘Time To Act on Climate Change’, including the Campaign Against Climate Change who have organised regular protests in London since 2002, Friends of the Earth who I’ve supported since the 1970s, the Green Party, anti-fracking protesters including the fabulous ‘Nanas’ of Frack Free Lancashire, campaigners against Heathrow expansion – and I list a few more in Climate Change Rally, which also has pictures of some of the speakers.

At the end of the rally I went on to photograph a protest by ‘Art Not Oil’ who invaded the steps of Tate Britain with their ‘longship’ and ‘oil spills’ in a protest demanding the Tate give up taking sponsorship from BP, who used their support of the arts to give themselves a positive public image despite the pollution and climate change their activites cause. It’s time to end this ‘greenwashing’.

Viking longship invades Tate steps has a few pictures of the event. The Longship first sailed to the British Museum where BP had sponsored a show on the Vikings. As I commented, the plastic oil spills used by the protesters “are a lot easier to clean up than the real ones BP has created such as Deepwater Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico, and which could be truly catastrophic in the Arctic.”

More on all these on My London Diary:
Viking longship invades Tate steps
Climate Change Rally
Time to Act on Climate Change


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Anti-Putin protests over Ukraine and Syria 2014

Tuesday, February 22nd, 2022

Anti-Putin protests over Ukraine and Syria 2014. On 22 Feb 2014 the small regular protest opposite the Russian Embassy in Kensington was joined by several hundred Ukrainians supporting the Maidan coup in their country and calling for an end to Russian interference in the Ukraine.

Ukrainian Orthodox priests lead a service of mourning for those killed in the Maidan revolution

President Yanukovych was removed from his post by a vote in the Ukraine parliament on the 22 Feb, although he called the vote illegal as it did not follow the procedures of the Ukrainian Constitution. He fled as the new government raised criminal proceedings against him.

Syrians were also protesting against Putin opposite the Russian Embassy

There were Antimaidan protests in Ukraine, particularly in the southern and eastern areas, and there was considerable public support in the Crimea for the invasion by Russian troops which began on 26th February. There appears to have been considerable public support in the Crimea for the Russian action and a referendum, declared illegal by the EU and USA, on Crimea joining the Russian Federation had an official turnout of 83% and resulted in a 96% vote in favour.

Ukrainians march from a nearby cultural centre to the Russian embassy

On 22 Feb 2014, deputies at the Congress of the Southern and Eastern regions declared, accordint to Wikipedia, they were “ready to take responsibility for protecting constitutional order in their territory” and they rejected the authority of the Ukraine government. Demonstrations and clashes followed with opinion polls showing most people rejecting both the regional and national governments as illegitimate but fairly equally divided as to which they supported and separatist militia took control of large areas.

The Minsk summit in February 2015 brought a ceasefire between the Ukraine government and the militias but has failed to unite the country. When I drafted this post a few days ago Russian forces were massed on the borders of Ukraine and it seemed inevitable some would soon cross the border to come to the aid of their comrades in the breakaway areas as they now appear to be doing.

Fortunately I don’t suffer the same hawkish advisers as NATO – or at least like to add a pinch of salt as they more or less monopolise the BBC airwaves. This isn’t a second Cuba missile crisis (and I remember that vividly) but may possibly bring some resolution to an unsatisfactory situation in the area which the West has failed to properly grapple with since Minsk. At least I hope so. Nobody – not even the Russians – wants another war, and it would be disasatrous for the Ukraine.

Russia has interpreted (probably correctly) the large flow of arms and training by the west into the country as a build up for a Ukrainian government attack to retake Eastern Ukraine – where apparently over 600,000 people are of Russian heritage and still have Russian passports. It still it seems most likely to me that the Russian action will be confined to establishing clear borders for the breakway republics rather than a full-scale invasion of the country, and the end result will be a smaller but more united Ukraine in the remaining areas.

If Russia remains inside the new republics it has recognised, the Ukraine that remains, like the protesters in 2014, will be a strongly Orthodox country. After the protest opposite the Russian embassy they left and marched to the statue of St Volodymyr, ruler of Ukraine 980-1015, erected by Ukrainians on the corner of Holland Park in 1988 to celebrate the establishment of Christianity in Ukraine by St Volodymyr in 988.

The statue was surrounded by flowers, photographs and tributes with hundreds of burning candles to the many pro-opposition protesters who have been killed in Kiev and elsewhere in the Ukraine. Two Ukrainian Orthodox priests presided at a service to remember all those who have died to establish a free and independent Ukraine.

More about the 2014 protests in London on My London Diary:
Ukrainians Protest, Celebrate and Mourn
Syrian Peace Protest at Russian Embassy


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