Posts Tagged ‘Venus CuMara’

Alevi, Flag Wavers, Fuel Poverty & A Party

Wednesday, February 16th, 2022

Alevi, Flag Wavers, Fuel Poverty & A Party – London on Saturday February 16th 2013


Alevi Protest Discrimination in Turkey & UK

The Alevi are Turkey’s largest religious minority, with between 10 and 20 million of them living in the country and worshipping in their own language. Their religion is Islamic but men and women worship together, and women are not required to cover their hair and poetry, music and dance are central to their worship. It is a distinct form of Muslim religion which is related to Shi’ism, which contrasts with the official Turkish Sunni practice.

It is a religion that cuts across Turkey’s ethnic groups, and although most Alevi are ethnic Turks about a quarter of Turkey’s Kurds are also Alevi. They have been persecuted in Turkey for centuries, often attacked and sometimes killed, and are not allowed to build worship houses. While Christian and Jewish children are exempted from the compulsory Sunny Islam religious classes in Turkish schools, Alevi are not.

Their protest in Trafalgar Square called for democracy in Turkey and an end to discrimination and persecution, and an end to the compulsory religious education. They also called for the UK government to live up to its responsibilities for all immigrant communities whose views they say are ignored here, calling on immigrants to ‘Unite and Fight’ to get political representation that would demand equal treatment over health and education and fighting crime.

Alevi Protest Discrimination in Turkey & UK


Defend the Union Flag

The Defend the Union Flag protest was called by the ‘South-East Alliance’ a small extreme right anti-immigration group of former English Defence League, whose leader Paul Pitt was thrown out of the EDL in 2012 to support Loyalists in Belfast who were protesting against a decision that the Union Flag should only be flown on the City Hall there on 18 designated days.

The protest was supported by other extreme right groups, notably Britain First, whose leader Paul Golding and Northern Ireland organiser Jim Dowson also spoke at the rally.

It was an uncomfortable event to photograph, and I received a number of threats and warnings from some of those taking party who I recognised from earlier protests I’d covered by the BNP, March for the Flag, EDL and Britain First, though many mistake me for another photographer who worked for Searchlight. A few who knew me were more friendly and came to talk with me. Although I’ve always made clear that I have different views, I’ve also tried to report these events objectively as a journalist.

Defend the Union Flag


Fuel Poverty Rally & DAN Roadblock

Back in 2013 we were also being faced with rising fuel bills, and Fuel Poverty Action had organised a national day of action. In London this began with a rally outside the Department of Energy and Climate Change on Whitehall and was then followed by a road block on Whitehall led by the Disabled Peoples Direct Action Network, DAN.

The rally on the pavement was crowded and was supported by Disabled People Against Cuts, Greater London Pensioners’ Association, Redbridge Pensioners’ Forum, Southwark Pensioners’ Action Group, Global Women’s Strike and others.

Cuts and price rises meant then that one in four families now has to choose between heating their homes adequately or eating properly. Many children now go to school hungry and even the wealthiest suburban areas now need to have churches and others setting up food banks for those unable to buy food.

The government had cut services and cut benefits as a part of their austerity programme. Their energy policy is largely dictated by the Big Six energy companies, who continue to increase their profits while the consumers of energy suffer and had largely ignored the pressing need to increase renewable energy and cut power generation for gas and coal that was powering global warming.

When DAN blocked the road, with some in wheelchairs chaining them together, the rally continued and police stood back and watched, diverting traffic away. After around 15 minutes they came to try and persuade them to leave the road. The arguments continued for around another 15 minutes, after which the protesters agreed they would leave in around a further 10 minutes. But I had to leave before they did so as I had a party to go to.

Fuel Poverty Rally & DAN Roadblock


Reclaim Love Valentines Party

The 11th Reclaim Love free Valentine’s Party took place around Eros in Piccadilly Circus, aiming to spread peace and love around the world, and to reclaim love from its commercial exploitation.

I had been held up photographing the DAN roadblock and had missed the major part of the event when several hundred people held hands in a large circle around Eros, chanting together ‘May All The Beings In All The Worlds Be Happy & At Peace’. But it was good to meet up with some friends and take some pictures.

Venus Cumara, the originator of this annual event in 2003 told me this was this was the last she would organise and I made sure to get plenty of pictures of her. We occasionally talked about producing a book on the event together, but it hasn’t happened, though perhaps I might do so on my own one day.

As I wrote back in 2013:

There are really very few such spontaneous events in London like this, and this is unique in central London. I’ve photographed most of these events and I hope that they will continue with others taking over the running in future years.

Reclaim Love Valentines Party

You can read more about all four events and see many more pictures on My London Diary:
Reclaim Love Valentines Party
Fuel Poverty Rally & DAN Roadblock
Defend the Union Flag
Alevi Protest Discrimination in Turkey & UK


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All photographs on this page are copyright © Peter Marshall. Contact me to buy prints or licence to reproduce.


Valentine’s Day 2015 – Reclaim Love and Release Shaker

Monday, February 14th, 2022

Valentine’s Day 2015 – Reclaim Love and Release Shaker – two events I photographed on St Valentine’s Day, February 14th 2015.


Venus CuMara Reclaim Love 13 at Eros

I’ve photographed the Valentine street party at Piccadilly Circus most years, though I missed the first one, but it seldom takes place actually on the 14th February, as since the event began in (I think 2003) there have been only two years where that has been a Saturday – 2009 and 2015.

A 2010 article in ‘Resurgence’ described the intentions of the event well:

Valentine’s Day, which has its origins as far back as the Middle Ages, is traditionally a day where people show their affection by sending each other handwritten ‘love notes’. But again, this simple affirmation has been hijacked by corporations to the point where cards, chocolates, jewellery – even weekend breaks – are now expected.

But not everybody wants to participate in this orgy of consumerism. Now in its seventh year, Reclaim Love is a global movement away from celebrating Valentine’s Day with flowers and chocolates towards a day of celebrating Love itself. All around the world people are taking to the streets, parks or organised venues to link hearts and minds to send a warm message of love, unity and joy out into the world

Resurgence magazine
Venus Cumara

The event was conceived and coordinated by Irish poet Venus CuMara, and spread to a number of cities around the world, where at 3pm UTC also join hands in a large circle and recite together the mantra ‘May all the beings in all the world be happy and at peace’, an English translation of an ancient Sanskrit prayer.

Before and after this there is a great deal of celebration, with drumming, dancing and various free gifts of food and often t-shirts bearing the mantra. I have a couple of these, though have to admit I have seldom worn them, though I did give one away to one of my sons.

It wasn’t possible to hold a public gathering in 2021, but Venus asked for people to meditate at 3.30pm and hosted a livestream. I missed the event in 2020 as I was busy elsewhere, but it was very small, probably because of the abysmal weather.

2018

The last time I photographed Reclaim Love was in 2019, when we were all delighted to see Venus who despite suffering from cancer which is spreading through her body, was in great spirits and able to speak about her message of love. She had missed the previous year’s event as she was in Indonesia being treated for her cancer.

Venus in 2019

Venus asked people to go to Piccadilly Circus for Reclaim Love on 12 Feb 2022 in a video on the Facebook page, though this was only posted the previous day, and she apologised for not being able to be there in person. I went along to see if anything was happening a little after 3pm and found nothing, waited a few minutes and then left as I had another event to attend. Later I saw a photograph of around five people who were there at 3.33pm, the ‘circle’ time. Perhaps next year there will be more.

Venus CuMara Reclaim Love 13 at Eros


Valentine Day – 13 years for Shaker Aamer

Earlier in the day I’d walked with protesters from Parliament Square to a rally opposite Downing St calling for the urgent release of London resident Shaker Aamer from Guantanamo, where he arrived has been held and regularly abused for 13 years without charge or trial.

He arrived at Guantanamo on the 14th February 2002, and there has been subjected to several hundred incidents of beating and torture, including one notorious occasion in June 2006 where he was taken to a special secret interrogation site; three men who were taken with him for similar treatment that day died from asphyxiation, but he survived similar treatment.

Long cleared for release he continued to be held, probably because his evidence would be embarrassing both for the US and UK authorities. He has a British wife and resident status, and a campaign led to the UK government eventually making requests for him to be freed after he was cleared for release in 2007 and again in 2009. Despite this they UK had also spent over a quarter of a million pounds in legal fees to prevent his legal team gaining access to evidence to prove his innocence.

He was eventually released at the end of October 2015.

Valentine Day – 13 years for Shaker Aamer


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All photographs on this page are copyright © Peter Marshall. Contact me to buy prints or licence to reproduce.


Kyoto & One In Love – 2005

Friday, February 12th, 2021

The texts from two posts from My London Diary for Saturday 12 Feb 2005, sixteen years ago. I’ve had to change the formatting a little to fit this site, but otherwise the text is identical. There are more pictures from each event on My London Diary.

Campaign against Climate Change Kyoto Climate March

London, 12 Feb, 2005

When i talked about the dangers of increasing co2 emission and the need to cut down use of fossil fuels 35 years ago, i was a crank. now everyone except the usa oil lobby and their political poodles recognises that climate change is for real. even blair has recognised it as the most vital issue facing us, threatening the future of the planet, although actually taking effective action still is a step too far for him. however he did call for a conference to examine the problem, which told him and us that we had perhaps ten years to take action before it would be to late.

Caroline Lucas

kyoto is history now thanks to the US boycott, (although it comes into effect this week), but it should have been the first inadequate step on the road to action. every journey has to start somehow, and even a half-hearted step is better than none, and would have led the way to others. what got in its way was texan oil interests, whose political face is george w bush.

i’ve photographed most of the campaign against climate change’s kyoto marches over the past few years. this one was probably the largest, and certainly excited more media interest, truly a sign that the issue has become news.

starting in lincoln’s inn fields, the march stopped first outside the uk offices of exxonmobil, on the corner of kingsway, for a brief declaration, then for a longer demonstration outside the australian high commission in aldwych (with guest appearances by ‘john howard’ and an australian ‘grim reaper’ with cork decorated hat), before making its way past trafalgar square and picadilly circus to the us embassy.


O-I-L One in Love

Reclaim Love, Eros, Picadilly Circus, London, London, 12 Feb, 2005

i left them in picadilly and returned to eros, where o-i-l, one in love, were organising a small gathering to “reclaim love” and “send love and healing to all the beings in the world” on the eve of valentine’s day. it’s something we could all do with, and it was good to see people enjoying themselves around the statue of eros, in what is usually one of the most depressing spots on london’s tourist circuit.

there was the samba band again, rhythms of resistance, (hi guys) and dancing and people generally being happy and friendly and free reclaim love t shirts and apart from the occasional showers it was harmless fun. rather to my surprise, the police either didn’t notice it or decided to ignore it, an unusually sensible strategy.


More pictures of both events on My London Diary.

This year there can be no street party at Eros in Piccadilly Circus, but Venus CuMara invites you to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Operation Infinite Love, Global Annual Love and Peace Meditation/street party by joining her on her Youtube ‘love stream / live stream/ life stream’ Global Love Meditation at 3.33 pm on St Valentine’s Day, Sunday 14th February 2021.

“MAY ALL THE BEINGS IN ALL THE WORLDS BE HAPPY AND AT PEACE”


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.


Valentine for Venus

Wednesday, May 29th, 2019

Like everyone else at this year’s Reclaim Love street party I was delighted that Venus CuMara, who founded this remarkable annual street party back in 2004 was there, and to hug her and to hear her speak.

I missed that first event in 2004 as I was in Paris with my wife for Valentine’s Day and her birthday a few days later. This year was the 16th ‘Reclaim Love’ free Valentine’s Day street party and like all except I think the first which began in Trafalgar Square, took place around the statue of Eros in Piccadilly Circus, with drumming, music, dancing poetry to celebrate reclaim love as a manifestation of the human spirit from the sleazy commercialisation which has taken over Valentine’s Day as a festival of profit.

Many of us still have the free t-shirts which were handed out to all who wanted them at several of these events, with their message “MAY ALL THE BEINGS IN ALL THE WORLDS BE HAPPY AND AT PEACE, though mine is now a little stained and doesn’t often get worn.

It was this same mantra that was repeated as those present made a large circle around Piccadilly Circus to share Venus’s message of peace and love around the world. Venus called it a “Massive Healing Reclaim Love Meditation Circle beaming Love and Happiness and our Vision for world peace out into the cosmos“.

Police stood back and watched this unofficial event each year, sometimes coming to persuade those who had climbed up onto the top of the fountain to come down. I think the only more serious intervention came when one year everyone went to the sacred grove of trees in Green Park to make the large circle there, and the police in the park were definitely not amused.

Beginning in 2005, I’ve photographed the street party almost every year and shared the pictures on-line, both on Facebook and on My London Diary. I missed 2016, when I was too ill to go, and 2017 when I was in Hull (both celbrating the city of culture and again my wife’s birthday.)

Venus and I have talked on several occasions about bringing out a book with my pictures of the events and her poems and reflections, but haven’t got around to making it happen.

A couple of years ago we were shocked to hear that Venus was suffering from cancer, and she missed the 2018 party at a retreat in Indonesia. But this year she was back again, though with the cancer still spreading through her body, speaking about it and about how we should all hug ourselves and each other. Her cancer has made her even more determined to spread her message of love.

Much more at Reclaim Love 2019 street party


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