Posts Tagged ‘violence’

Gaza March in London 3rd Feb 2024

Friday, February 9th, 2024

Gaza March in London – Another huge march through central London called for an immediate ceasefire and for an end to the Israeli genocide against Palestinians.

Gaza March in London
London, UK. 3 Feb 2024

I didn’t hear any news reports of the march, and over the past few days other events have largely pushed reporting over the continuing genocide to the edges of coverage.

Gaza March in London
London, UK. 3 Feb 2024.

If anything the deliberate targeting of civilians in Gaza appears to have increased since the ICJ ruling calling on Israel to do all it can to prevent genocide in the area.

Gaza March in London
London, UK. 3 Feb 2024.

Israel is still keeping international journalists out of Gaza and feeding the world’s press with misleading information. The BBC have some good reporters but they cannot work in Gaza. They have had interviews with some families and doctors in Gaza – some now killed. Papers such as The Guardian also carry reports from people in Gaza – such as Mondays Gaza diary part 44: ‘The angel of death is roaming the skies, nonstop’. But to get real information about what is actually happening on the ground you need to also go to alternative news sources.

Gaza March in London
London, UK. 3 Feb 2024.

One of those is Double Down News, who say “Far too many Journalists sit comfortably trapped in their own bubble of privilege and power, talking to each other and the so-called political class, rather than serving the people they’re meant to inform.” They aim to “prioritise people, ideas, evidence and community above all.” DDN carries no advertising but is supported by over fourteen thousand of subscribers who give what they can afford rather than being owned by governments or billionaires. And you can be one and become a part of the community equally with the others.

London, UK. 3 Feb 2024.

One of their latest videos is ‘Israel’s AI Killing Machine‘ by Palestinian-American lawyer and activist Lara Elborno which exposes by how Israel is using modern technology to target civilians across Gaza. Like other videos on the platform it provides a chilling insight missing in the mass media.

London, UK. 3 Feb 2024.

Before writing this a few days ago I read Al Jazeera’s Israel War on Gaza coverage, with its list of key events on day 123 published on Tuesday 6th February. Under the Humanitarian crisis in Gaza it begins its report with “At least 27,478 people have been killed and 66,835 wounded in Israeli attacks on Gaza since October 7.

London, UK. 3 Feb 2024.

It goes on to give other significant news on the humanitarian crisis, before news on Regional tensions and diplomacy and on what is happening in the Occupied West Bank. Al Jazeera was the first independent news channel in the Arab world and is funded by the Qatari state.

London, UK. 3 Feb 2024.

All pictures here are from the march in London on Saturday 3rd February 2024 which was I think uneventful. It was certainly large and several streets around the BBC were densely crowded before the start. I photographed the start and then slowly went down Regent Street with the marchers, stopping a number of times to photograph them as they walked past me.

London, UK. 3 Feb 2024. ‘Sunak’ and dead babies.

At Piccadilly Circus I decide to wait until the end of the march arrived there, and it was a long wait. It was almost two hours after the start of the march before the end arrived, and most of that time the streets were crowded across both carriageways with slowly moving people.

London, UK. 3 Feb 2024. London Mothers and Children Say Stop Killing Babies.

It was too late to be worth trying to get to the rally on Whitehall and so I began my journey home. I uploaded 35 images to Alamy but later put these and around 35 more into an online album Ceasefire Now – Stop The Genocide In Gaza.


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Massive London Protest Over Gaza Genocide – 13 Jan 2023

Thursday, January 18th, 2024

Massive London Protest Over Gaza Genocide: Last Saturday I photographed the march in London when over 200,000 marched from Bank calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza. Among those on the march, Little Amal, a 12ft giant puppet of a Syrian child refugee stood out. As usual there was a strong Jewish representation both on the main march and on a separate feeder march for families and children I photographed as they set off from outside Kings College on Strand.

Massive London Protest Over Gaza Genocide

This was the seventh large protest in London and reflects the feelings of a large majority of the British public but unfortunately this and other huge protests around the world, including in the USA, seem unlikely to have any effect on our or the US governments polices. They will continue to give support to Israel while making weak statements about the need to reduce the killing which Israel will continue to ignore while denying the effects of its actions and blaming Hamas for the death and destruction they are causing.

Massive London Protest Over Gaza Genocide
The front of the march waiting to start.

The march took place on the 99th day of the Israeli attack on Gaza which has so far killed over 23,000 people, mainly civilians including more than 10,000 children, with many bodies still under the rubble. The bombing and shelling has made humanitarian aid and medical treatment impossible and widespread deaths from disease and starvation now seem inevitable.

Massive London Protest Over Gaza Genocide
Doctors Against Genocide.

Israeli forces have attacked hospitals, schools, refugee camps and have killed many doctors and arrested others. Only one hospital remains operating in the whole of Gaza and there are desperate shortages of medicines with many amputations having to be carried out without anaesthetics. Few of the 60,000 severely injured so far by the Israeli attacks have been able to get proper treatment.

Massive London Protest Over Gaza Genocide
A few of the Palestinian press who have been killed by Israel

Gaza’s journalists appear to have been especially targeted and more have now been killed by the IDF than journalists were killed in the whole six years of the Second World War.

A man holds a bloodstained bundle representing a dead child

As well as calling for a ceasefire, protesters also demand a just solution with freedom for Palestine, an end to the military occupation of the country and an end to Israeli apartheid.

Free Palestine Hands Off Yemen

Two events in the previous week added to the demands of protesters. Some had placards praising the Houthi forces in Yemen for their attacks on ships in the Red Sea and their were chants such as “Yemen, Yemen, make us proud, turn another ship around” following the US and UK air attacks. The Houthi are now in control of much of Yemen following the October 2022 ceasefire and peace talks led by the UN began it December 2023, but they continue to be referred to in UK media as rebels or terrorists.

Last week South Africa stated the case at the International Court of Justice accusing Israel of genocide. It got rather less attention in the UK media than the response the following day by Israel, which appeared largely a continued recital of the widely condemned attacks of October 7th and the long-discredited assertion that their actions in Gaza are self-defence. Israel also denied having bombed any hospitals and claimed they were facilitating humanitarian aid, lying in the face of mountains of evidence the world has read.

A woman holds a placard ‘Well Done South Africa’.

Many on the protest praised South Africa for taking Israel to court. The moral case seems clearly proven, but I suspect the case may be lost on some legal technicality. ICJ verdicts are in any case not binding and I think the majority of the world has already reached their conclusion.

People hold up posters showing Nazi Germany and Palestine with a poster saying ‘Signs Like These Have Been Criinalised by the Met Police

There were apparently 1,700 police on duty for the protests and a handful of people were arrested for carrying placards or handing out leaflets which the police decided were possibly “showing support for a proscribed organisation which is an offence under the Terrorism Act.” The flyer, published by the Met, stated their “unconditional and wholehearted support and solidarity for the Palestinian struggle, which is once more breaking out into armed resistance” but made no explicit mention of Hamas. Other groups in the Palestinian struggle are not proscribed in the UK.

With so many taking part, the march ended with rallies in both of London’s major central squares, Trafalgar Square and Parliament Square, though I only got to the first of these. I was quite tired having walked from London Bridge station to Bank and then along with the march going back and forth taking pictures and decided to get a train from Charing Cross rather than go on to Parliament Square.

There are around 50 more of my pictures from the march at Massive London Protest Over Gaza Genocide.


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Free Palestine Coalition Demand A Ceasefire Now

Tuesday, January 9th, 2024

Free Palestine Coalition Demand A Ceasefire Now: Last Saturday, 6th January 2024, like many others I was watching on Twitter/X for the announcement by the Free Palestine Coalition of the starting point for their Gaza protest at 10am.

Free Palestine Coalition Demand A Ceasefire Now

It was with some surprise that I read it was to be at the drinking fountain in St James’ Park, one of London’s Royal Parks, a feudal remnant with bylaws against almost everything, but at least it was easy to get to, and I had plenty of time to make it by the starting time of noon, and arrived around a quarter of an hour early.

Free Palestine Coalition Demand A Ceasefire Now

The protest was organised and backed by Black Lives Matter UK, NMEE, Sisters Uncut, East and South East Asian Sisters, Copwatch Network, Health Workers For a Free Palestine, Queers For Palestine, London Campaign Against Police & State Violence, Palestinian Youth Movement and London Palestine Action.

Free Palestine Coalition Demand A Ceasefire Now

It made three clear demands; a full unconditional ceasefire NOW, the UK to stop arming Israel and an end to the Israeli Occupation of Gaza and Palestine. It had clearly been planned as a peaceful protest, although one that would cause some disruption to traffic in central London as many other events including other protests do.

Free Palestine Coalition Demand A Ceasefire Now

There was only a small group there when I arrived, but numbers grew rapidly by the time the rally began and continued to grow for some time, perhaps increasing to a couple of thousand by the end of the event. Shortly after the rally began police approached the speaker and told her that she could not use a megaphone as it was against the Park bylaws. After a short delay she continued without it, though now the crowd was so large many could not hear. A few minutes later a public address system arrived and the speakers began to use this. After another warning by police they wheeled this out onto the pavement of Birdcage Walk.

A doctor speaks about the terrible conditions in Gaza’s hospitals, most bombed out of existence.

Here the speakers continued, with a particularly moving account by a doctor from Health Workers For a Free Palestine about the horrific conditions faced by her colleagues working in Gaza, where almost all hospitals have been bombed by Israeli forces and only three remain able to continue, facing terrible shortages which have meant amputations with no anaesthetics available and a total lack of medicines, clean dressings and antiseptics taking medical conditions back into the dark ages.

Officers come to seize the PA system

After the rally had continued for some minutes, a squad of police rushed in and seized the PA system from the pavement, forcefully pushing all those close out of their way. I was thrown aside and kicked in the shin hard enough to cause some bleeding and although not seriously injured certainly suffering from shock. I’m unsure about what happened for the next few minutes and it was almost ten minutes before I’d recovered enough to photograph seriously again.

The police appeared to have been deliberately trying to provoke the protesters and had a very large presence for what was expected to be a relatively small protest. Eventually the organisers called on the protesters who had been shouting angrily at the police for some minutes to move off and the march slowly made its way towards Westminster Bridge.

As the front of the march came to Bridge Street at the side of the Houses of Parliament there was a halt for photographs and when the march moved off a line of police across the road tried to stop them. But there were far too few officers to form a proper cordon, and I and around a couple of hundred protesters moved past and onto the start of Westminster Bridge before reinforcements arrived.

There were more police on the bridge and a line of police vans behind them, as well as more on the Embankment. Had the protesters been allowed to march onto the bridge and protest there the bridge would have been closed until the protest ended, but traffic could have continued to flow on both the Embankment and Bridge Street, which were still blocked when I left later. Protests continued on Westminster Bridge, though most of the protesters were still held on Bridge Street behind a police line. Around half an hour later police did decide to allow them to join the others, probably to make it easier for them to kettle the protest in one block rather than two.

On the bridge there were some noisy protests which forced police liaison officers to withdraw from the crowd. Some of them complained to the event stewards about the leaflets which were being distributed to the many tourist also being blocked by the police from leaving towards Parliament Square, suggesting that those distributing them might be committing an offence. I read one carefully and could find nothing anti-Semitic, nothing which I had not heard or read in the mainstream press despite their failures in reporting.

At one point people let off smoke flares in the red, green and white of the Palestinian flag. Later there was a period of silence for the victims in Palestine and those in Israel, and many sat or lay down on the roadway. A group in front of the police cordon wore masks showing Rishi Sunak, wearing tops with the messages ‘STOP ARMING ISRAEL’ ‘CEASEFIRE NOW!’holding up their hands red with fake blood which dripped down their arms.

I left as the police allowed the protesters to all join together, kettling both groups. I was tired and still a little shaken from the earlier assault by police and needed to sit down and rest on a seat on the Embankment. Eating my sandwiches for a late lunch and drinking some water helped too.

As I walked back to Waterloo the blue lights were still flashing on Westminster Bridge, and an hour later at 3.32 the Met posted “All protesters have now left the area around Westminster Bridge. Officers remain on-duty in central London and are ready to respond to any further demonstrations.” I felt their response to this one had been negative in the extreme and had made the situation worse than if they had stayed away completely. Their presence was a huge waste of public money and London really does not need police who behave as they did at this event.

The police had arrested a number of people on Westminster Bridge but later Black Lives Matter UK, one of the organisers, made the following post: “All arrestees have been released with no further action. Thanks to all who have supported the protests and taken time out to care for all those made vulnerable by the police.

More pictures in my Facebook album Free Palestine Coalition Demand A Ceasefire Now!


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Dear Suella, Please Resign

Wednesday, November 1st, 2023

Dear Suella, Please Resign – I and I think most of the British public have had enough of your hate speech, and your latest tirade against the half million or so people who came out onto the street to call for a ceasefire in Gaza plumbed new depths in hypocrisy.

Dear Suella, Please Resign

Those hundreds of thousands who marched last Saturday – and I was there – were marching for a ceasefire to end the humanitarian catastrophe which is underway in Gaza, where thousands of civilians have already died through Israeli attacks and more will do so if the attacks continue from bombing and shelling, the lack of food and clean water and the almost complete breakdown of medical services.

Dear Suella, Please Resign

There was no celebration of Hamas on the march and certainly none for the particularly barbaric actions in Israel on October 7th. Nor for the taking of hostages, although some on the march will certainly have felt it was the only way that Palestinian prisoners in Israel might be freed – over 4,000 of them, many locked up without charge, including (April 2022 figures) 32 women and 160 children. The continuing attacks on Gaza also threaten the lives of the hostages held by Hamas and appear to have stopped for the moment negotiations which would have led to further releases.

Dear Suella, Please Resign

Together with the BBC and some other news media you continue to collude to suggest that people at these protests shouted for Jihad. As you well know, these shouts took place at an entirely separate protest by Hizb ut-Tahrir Britain, an extreme Islamic organisation calling for the establishment of a caliphate, whose protests I have covered since 2004. Their protest was not for peace but was calling upon Muslim Armies to liberate Palestine. To use their activities to denigrate those taking part in the huge protests for an end to the fighting and occupation in Palestine is dishonest in the extreme.

Dear Suella, Please Resign

The world needs peace in Palestine and so does Israel as well of course as the Palestinians. We have seen over the years since Israel was set up that war is not the way to achieve this.

As the UN Secretary General made clear when condemning the Hamas attack, it did not take place in a vacuum. It took place after years when Palestinians have been forced out of their homes, their lands occupied, and they have been subjected to arbitrary military rule under an apartheid regime with Gaza held under siege. Years in which the peace process has been put to one side. The only hope for peace is if Palestine is allowed to grow and to flourish rather than continue to be oppressed.

I grew up in a country which prided itself for its sense of fair play and decency, even though this ideal was not usually extended in practice to those we colonised.

We were a country that led the way in the establishment of the United Nations and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other conventions.

Now we seem to be a country that is ruled by politicians that have no real regard for human rights and the rights of asylum seekers, that are massively incompetent and put their own personal aggrandisement before the national interest, and are directed by corporate interests rather than those of the people or the planet. With some politicians from both main parties claiming huge expenses and often fiddling unnecessary second homes and increasingly frequent sexual scandals.

Government ministers and shadow ministers alike seem prepared to come onto the media and bluster and lie for the party, backed up by an electoral system that fails to provide any real democracy. Our current parliamentary election system is actually rather less democratic than the system that brought Hamas to power in 2006 – despite considerable interference by the US and Israel in the electoral process, though since Hamas took over Gaza completely by military force in 2007 and there have been no elections there.

The Covid inquiry continues to reveal government failures which led to many early deaths and its now clear that our current government have decided to abandon any real attempt to slow down or reverse our excessive global heating despite almost daily scientific evidence of the increasing risks – and the evidence we all fell as our weather becomes more and more chaotic. And rather than try to deal with the many problems that various protests bring to the fore, successive governments have enacted laws to restrict the right to protest and free speech and have encouraged police to prevent protests and courts to impose harsh ‘exemplary’ punishments.

Frankly Suella, you and your government are a disaster. And you are the leading edge of that disaster. The sooner you all go the better for Britain. Resign Now.

Pictures here are from London last Saturday, 28th October 2023. You can see more of those I made during the protest at:
National March for Gaza – Ceasefire Now, London 28 Oct 23
More Pictures – Gaza Ceasefire Now! London 28 Oct 23
Gaza Ceasefire Now! Protest At Waterloo Station, London 28 Oct 23


Shut Down Yarl’s Wood 14

Friday, July 21st, 2023

Shut Down Yarl’s Wood 14: This protest on Saturday 21st July 2018 was the 14th organised by Movement for Justice outside the immigration prison at Yarl’s Wood and I think their last there. I missed the first so this was my 13th visit to this remote location, cyling uphill the five or six miles north from Bedford station. I had previously photographed a number of protests organised by MfJ outside the two immigration prisons (officially called detention centres to make it sound nicer) on the north of Heathrow airport, Harmondsworth and Colnbrook, a rather easier journey.

Unlike these two prisons which housed men, Yarl’s Wood was mainly used to hold women, though there were also a few families there. The protests there had attracted more campaigners because of this, with women being seen more widely as victims than male asylum seekers. And many of those who were locked up inside were women who had been raped as well as beaten and otherwise subjected to traumatic events before fleeing their countries.

Many of the women – as too the men elsewhere – were kept locked up for many months and some for years in indefinite detention while the Home Office refused to believe their stories or to properly investigate their cases, often demanding paperwork it would be impossible for them to provide. The remoteness of the centre and only limited access to internet and telephones makes it difficult for the women to progress their cases.

Many of these are people with desperate needs for counselling and help, but instead as various investigations, official as well as undercover journalism – had shown are held under appalling conditions in this and other centres run by private companies such as SERCO, with detainees refused their human and civil rights, assaulted, sexually harassed and assaulted, denied proper medical treatment, poorly fed and forced to work for £1 an hour on menial tasks.

The protests here are greeted by the women, giving them the assurance that they have not been forgotten and that there are those outside who support them. Those able to get to the windows facing the hill on which the protesters stood so they could be seen over the tall prison fence – the lower 10ft solid steel and above that another ten foot of dense metal mesh – shouted greetings, waved and held up messages.

A powerful public address system meant those inside could hear the speeches, some by former inmates of Yarl’s Wood and other detention centres, and some by those inside, relayed by mobile phone to the amplifier, as well as by some leading MfJ members.

Most of those inside will eventually be released, the majority getting leave to stay in this country. Some are taken to be deported with the MfJ and other organisations then working desperately and often successfully to stop their deportation flights back to terror and violence in their home countries.

This was by far the smallest of all the protests at Yarl’s Wood organised by the MfJ, following complaints made against the organisation by a former member who appears to have been treated badly by them. But however justified her personal complaint, her comments revealed little or nothing about the nature of the group which was not already on Wikipedia or otherwise common knowledge. But the dispute led to many other groups ending their support for protests organised by the MfJ, some organising their own protests but with very limited success.

Mabel had been held in Yarl’s Wood for a day or two less than 3 years

Other groups were and are working – as MfJ still is – to support detainees. The MfJ has played a major role in protests against our racist immigration detention system and in actions to prevent deportations. It still seems to be supported by many former detainees who have always played a leading role in the protests both at Yarl’s Wood and at Harmondsworth.

The Home Office finally decided it was too easy for protests to be organised outside Yarl’s Wood and moved the women – many of whom were released at the start of the Covid epidemic – up to an even more remote location in the north-east, with Yarl’s Wood being used to house those who had crossed the Channel in small boats.

The Illegal Immigration Act finally passed a few days ago intends to deport almost all migrants and asylum seekers (other than those coming under special schemes for Ukraine, Hong Kong etc) to Rwanda without any consideration of their asylum claims. Efforts to persuade the government to set up safe routes for those claiming asylum were rejected by the government in the latest ratcheting up of its racist policies, justified by them through the doublespeak of “compassion” while showing not the faintest scintilla of any real compassion.

More on My London Diary at Shut Down Yarl’s Wood 14.


Nakba, South Africa, Fair Votes & Iran

Monday, May 15th, 2023

Nakba, South Africa, Fair Votes & Iran: Events I covered in London on 15th May 2023 and one I just missed.


Nakba Protest For Free Palestine – Downing St

Nakba, South Africa, Fair Votes & Iran

May 15 is Nakba Day, remembering the 1948 disaster when Palestinians were expelled from their land and calling for an end to Israeli occupation and breaches of international law.

Nakba, South Africa, Fair Votes & Iran

Over 400 Palestinian villages were destroyed and the 1948 partition of Palestine to create the state of Israel created around 700,000 Palestinian refugees, many of whom or their descendants are still in refugee camps. Protests take place on or around May 15 every year around the world calling for justice for Palestine.

Nakba, South Africa, Fair Votes & Iran

The biggest in London is on the nearest weekend to the 15th, and the 2023 London march organised by Palestine Solidarity Campaign together with Stop the War Coalition, Palestinian Forum in Britain, Friends of Al-Aqsa, Muslim Association of Britain and Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament was last Saturday, May 13th, marching from the BBC.

Nakba, South Africa, Fair Votes & Iran

Organisations supporting this rally included Artists’ Union England, BFAWU, CWU, The MU, NEU, PCS, RMT, TSSA, UCU, UNISON and Unite the Union. In most recent years I’ve photographed these protests, but this year the rail strike meant I was unable to do so.

Back on 15th May 2010 the Nakba protest was a static one opposite Downing Street. Last Saturday the march to the rally began at the BBC, deliberately chosen to yet again expose the failure of our major broadcaster to report on protests in the UK, particularly those calling for freedom for Palestine.

It may not be written down anywhere in the BBC, but the broadcaster definitely has a policy of playing down or usually totally ignoring protests in the UK, at least unless it can condemn any acts of violence of criminal damage by protesters. Occasionally any involving major celebrities may also get a mention, though they may need to get arrested for the BBC to notice. You have more chance of your protest getting a mention if it occurs in another country, preferably one with a regime our government disapproves, than under their noses in London.

Other UK media tend to follow the example of the BBC and if you want to know about protests that are happening in the UK you need to follow foreign media such as Al Jazeera or RT, or read left wing publications in print or online. There you may even find out what the protests were about.

Among the protesters were many Jews opposed to the actions of the State of Israel who form a major part of most if not all left wing and anarchist groups. Most obvious were those from the ultra-orthodox ‘Neturei Karta’ who are totally opposed to Zionism and the idea of a Jewish political state. They say the Torah prohibits the use of human force to establish a Jewish state before the coming of the Messiah, and support the right of the Palestinians to their land, which should be returned to them. The say Jews should live in peace and harmony with their Muslim neighbours in Palestine as their ancestors did for many centuries.

Nakba Protest For Free Palestine


South African Right March in London – Trafalgar Square

I arrived in Trafalgar Square too late to see a march by expatriate right-wingers, part of a campaign to persuade football supporters not to go to South Africa for the the World Cup. They say the country is too violent with around 18,000 murders a year.

Unfortunately that high rate is fairly typical among many countries in the global south and lower than in many of them. Perhaps the main difference between South Africa and the others is the large white population who also suffer from the violence and murders.

The march organisers had earlier regretted that police had prohibited any marchers carrying flags or banners of the extreme right Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging (AWB) or other white nationalist groups. The extreme racist AWB protest at the ‘Boer Genocide’ and is committed to setting up an independent Volkstaat on parts of South Africa with extreme apartheid policies.

Although there were only a handful of people in red shirts who had taken part in the march I was able to photograph some of the crosses, posters and banners they had left behind in front of South Africa House before police removed them.

South African Right March in London


Purple Protest Demands Fair Votes – Old Palace Yard

More than a thousand people, mainly wearing purple, had come to Westminster to demand a fair voting system, feeling cheated by the recent election results which failed to produce a government reflecting how people voted.

The 2010 election had clearly failed to reflect the votes cast, particularly for the Lib-Dems who got almost a quarter of the votes but less than one tenth of the seats. Perhaps even more importantly it showed that over a third of the population had so little confidence in our political system that they didn’t bother to cast there vote.

These results had left to a movement springing up rapidly through the Internet, using Twitter, Facebook, You Tube and other social networking sites, and it also attracted the backing of existing electoral campaigning groups such as the Electoral Reform Society, Unlock Democracy (incorporating Charter 88), 38 Degrees and Power2010.

Most of us have experience of elections taking place using the single transferable vote system with give much greater fairness. The Lib-Dems had demanded a UK-wide referendum on the Parliamentary voting system for taking part in the coalition governement, but the proposals were dismissed as more an attempt to defuse the issue than to deal with it. The vague proposal was in any case decisively rejected, though only 42% of the electorate bothered to vote.

This year has seen another attack on the fairness of our elections with the introduction of the need for photo-ID to cast a vote. I don’t know how many were put off from trying to vote by this requirement, but apparently 1.2% of those who turned up to polling stations were not allowed to vote.

Purple Protest Demands Fair Votes


Protest Against Executions in Iran

Around a hundred people demonstrated in Trafalgar Square and then marched for a rally opposite the Iran Embassy following the execution last Sunday of 5 political activists, the latest of many such death sentences.

In the previous year millions in Iran had protested for greater freedom in Iran, with the protests making headlines around the world after the fatal shooting of Neda Agha-Soltan in June 2009. Thousands have been arrested, tortured to make untrue confessions and then condemned in unfair trials and many have been executed.

The death of Jina Mahsa Amini after being arrested by the religious morality police for allegedly not wearing the hijab in accordance with government standards in September 2022 has led to a series of protests in Iran and around the world on an even more widespread scale than those in 2009-10, 2007 and 2019. Again the protests in Iran have been brutally repressed with at least 476 people killed by the end of 2022, and many arrested and tortured and a number of protesters hanged.

The protest on 15 May 2010 came after the executions of five political activists – four men and a woman – on Sunday 9 May; Farzad Kamangar, Ali Heydarian, Farhad Vakili, Mehdi Eslamian and Shirin Alam-Houli.

The protests in London around the world in 2022-3 have been on a larger scale than in 2010, with large and continuing protests with the slogan ‘Woman Life Freedom’.

Protest Against Executions in Iran


Shut Down Racist Yarl’s Wood

Saturday, March 12th, 2022

Shut Down Racist Yarl’s Wood. On Saturday 12th March 2016, six years ago today, I made another visit to the immigration detention centre at Yarl’s Wood where the Movement for Justice (MfJ) had organised another large protest.

Shut Down Racist Yarl's Wood
Women at the windows – one holds a bible through the narrow window opening

The Home Office no longer uses Yarl’s Wood to house large numbers of women asylum seekers, but unfortunately this does not mean their cruel and racist policies have changed. Women were at first moved out because of Covid, but Priti Patel has set up a new immigration prison, Derwentside Immigration Removal Centre, to hold 80 detainees to replace it, with around 88 women being moved and locked up there for Christmas 2021.

Shut Down Racist Yarl's Wood
People march down the road to a footpath leading to Yarl’s Wood

The new centre at Hassockfield is on the site of the notorious Medomsley Detention Centre, where over 1,800 young male detainees were abused in the 1960s to 1980s, and is at at Medomsley Edge, 13 miles NW of Durham, 1.7 miles North of Consett. It has been renamed again as Derwentside, to give it a more friendly image, though the river is around a mile away as the crow flies. Almost certainly the Home Office was fed up with the protests organised by MfJ and others at the already rather remote site at Yarl’s Wood, around 5 miles outside Bedford, and thought it a good idea to move it rather further away from London, where there are many former detainees and activists who came to demonstrations.

Shut Down Racist Yarl's Wood
Marching along the footpath

But of course people came from all over the country – including from Scotland – to Yarl’s Wood, and protests will continue, with an active ‘No to Hassockfield‘ local group at their centre, although it’s too far away for me to photograph them.

Women have little to protest with and the windows only open an inch or so. They hold messages to the glass and throw out toilet paper

Hassockfield is so remote that the Home Office was unable to find law firms which would give satisfactory tenders to give legal advice there and abandoned the search – with detainees now only able to get advice by phone. Women for Refugee Women are calling for donations to mount a legal challenge over this lack of support. There is a great deal more information about the cruel and racist treatment of asylum seekers with many telling their own stories on their web site.

Yarl’s Wood like almost all of the immigration prisons is privately run for the Home Office, with companies cutting costs for profit

Back on 12th March 2016, my own journey to Yarl’s Wood didn’t go too well, with a train cancellation. But I still got to Bedford Station in a little over two hours and in time for the coach organised by MfJ to the meeting point at Twinwoods Business Park, around a mile walk from the prison. Unfortunately the coach driver didn’t know the way and police had put up large signs stating the road up from the A6 was closed (though in fact they were letting traffic to the protest to go through.) The result was a rather lengthy tour of the Bedfordshire countryside – with another wrong turning, meaning we arrived the best part of an hour late.

Shut Down Racist Yarl's Wood
Protesters climb up to show placards and balloons to the women

Fortunately the event had started with a rally on the road waiting for people from around the country to arrive, and the mile or so walk to the prison was waiting for us and only just about to begin.

Shut Down Racist Yarl's Wood
Battering the fence makes a lot of noise

Fortunately it was a fine day for the walk, but there had been heavy rain in previous days and some of the footpath and the field beside the prison where the protest took place was full of mud and some puddles, making it hard to move about and keep my balance. As you can see in some pictures close to the fence it was a sticky mess.

Shut Down Racist Yarl's Wood
Many of those protesting were former detainees, some of whom spoke at the event

The field has a fairly steep slope up from the 20ft prison fence, which does enable protesters to see over the lower 10ft of thick metal sheeting and to glimpse the women waving, shouting and holding posters at the upper floor windows inside.

Shut Down Racist Yarl's Wood
Women had written messages on towels and clothing to hang out through the narrow openings.

It is tricky taking pictures through the 10 ft upper section of the fence with its thick wire grid and I don’t have the kind of long and fast lenses for this. I actually declined the invitation from the organisers to photograph the first large MfJ protest here as I knew I didn’t really have the right gear, suggesting they invite a colleague. But for later protests I decided that there were many other pictures I could take and I could at least get some kind of pictures through that fence.

Shut Down Racist Yarl's Wood
Many reports have confirmed the abuses taking place inside Yarl’s Wood

Many of those at the protest were people who had been locked up inside Yarl’s Wood or other detention centres, and almost all of those who spoke had stories to tell about how their mistreatment – having been physically and sexually assaulted, locked in rooms, denied medical assistance, unable to get proper legal advice and more. Most had come to this country fleeing from violence, often from rape and in dire need of care and understanding and instead were locked up, their stories disbelieved and further subjected to hostile and inhuman treatment.

Shut Down Racist Yarl's Wood
Detainees are allowed phones and some were able to speak from inside the immigration prison

At the end of the protest people let off a number of coloured flares before the long walk back to the coaches. I was rather caught in the mud and unable to get close to where this was happening. On the path and road back to the coach I tried to scrape the worst of the mud from my boots and trousers on the grass and on the kerb of the road, and found some sticks to help, but Bedfordshire mud proved extremely persistent.

Shut Down Racist Yarl's Wood
Most of the speakers were former detainees and friends inside could hear them

We needed to remove our boots before getting on the coach, and fortunately I had a plastic bag to put them in for the journey, getting back into them where we were dropped off at the station. The journey home was slow but uneventful and I was exhausted and needed a good meal and a bath when I arrived – but at least unlike those detainees I was free.

Shut Down Racist Yarl's Wood

More at Shut Down Yarl’s Wood on My London Diary, where you can also find accounts of other protests at Yarl’s Wood as well as other immigration prisons at Harmondsworth and Colnbrook using the site search.


Flowers to Yarls Wood – 2017

Thursday, November 18th, 2021

Four years ago on Saturday 18th November saw Movement for Justice’s 12th protest outside the immigration detention prison up a hill around 6 miles north of Bedford, calling for this and the other immigration detention centres to be shut down. On this occasion many took flowers to pin to the upper section of the fence where they could be seen by the women inside.

The whole system of immigration detention seems to have been designed as a deterrent to asylum seekers coming to the UK, though unsuccesful in doing so. People who had fled their countries because they were in fear of their lives and had often been subject to violent attacks and rapes were thrown into jail while there cases were being considered. Often their imprisonment made it very much harder for them to provide the evidence demanded by the Home Office of the danger they had been in and their suffering, and official reports and journalistic investigations, some by reporters who had taken jobs at the centres, both revealed the callous and often illegal treatment they received from the staff in these privately run centres, including sexual assaults and violence.

Mabel Gawanas who was held inside for a day under 3 years speaks to her friends still inside

The accomodation provided is poor and the food is of poor quality and often fails to meet the relgious ordietary needs of the detainees, and there have been numerous reported cases where necessary medical treatment has been either refused or excessively delayed. But the major problem is that immigration detention is of indeterminate length, with some detainees serving perhaps a few weeks and others up to three years. Unlike in a normal jail there is no known length to the time people serve and no way that they know when they may be released or deported. And there is no process for them to appeal their detention. The government like to pretend it isn’t a prison, and there are some differences in the routines, but those held inside cannot leave and are often restricted in their movements inside the buildings.

The windows only open a few inches

There are currently in 2021 seven ‘Immigration Removal Centres’ in the UK as well as a number of short-term holding facililites. All but one of the seven are run by private companies, Serco, Mitie, G4S, a Capita subsidiary and Geo, and they are run to make profits. The less they spend on food, staffing and facilities the more the companies make – and the more those detained suffer. In 2015 the Chief Inspector of Prisons labelled it ‘a place of national concern’.

Yarl’s Wood is in an isolated location, hidden away from roads on a former wartime airfield. As I found cycling from Bedford Station it is on the top of a hill and rather windswept. From where the protesters coaches and cars can park it takes aroud a mile walking along public footpaths to get to the field next to the prison where the protests take place. The prison is surrounded by a 20 ft high metal fence, the lower half with metal panels and the upper half with a thick wire grid material that allows the upper storeys of the building to be seen from the top of a rise in the field.

It’s difficult to take pictures through this screen, but not impossible. I’d taken with me a Nikon 70-300mm lens and was working with the D810 in DX mode which converts that into a 105-450mm equivalent and still provides a 16Mp file. Focussing was tricky as the autofocus was very good at focussing on the wire, leaving the building behind well out of focus, and although it would sometimes focus on a window frame, it was far easier to use manual focus.

I also took some pictures on a 28-200mm (equivalent to 42-300mm) which was better when I wanted to include any foreground detail, but the windows became rather small. Even at 450mm any one of the pair of windows only filled around a sixth of the frame, and some of the images have been cropped.

For photographing the protesters as well as that highly versatile 28-200mm used both as a X lens on the D810 body and a full-frame lens on the D750, I also had a 28-35mm lens for use on the D750.

Many of the exposures I made where not quite sharp. It was November and the light dropped off fairly dramatically towards the end of the protest and by 3pm I was having to work at 1/250s at the full aperture of F5.6, not really fast enough a shutter speed for a 450mm lens. So camera shake added to my focus problems. At 3.30pm the protest seemed to be nearing its end, I was getting too cold and decided it was time to get on my bike and return to Bedford Station. Fortunately except for a short steep slope it was more or less downhill all the way.

In August 2020 the Home Office announced it was ‘re-purposing’ Yarl’s Wood, which became a short-term holding facility for men arriving in the UK by boat. But by November 2020 it had also been brought back into its previous use with around ten women then being indefinitely detained there.

Shut Down Yarl’s Wood 12


10,000 Disabled Dead

Tuesday, September 28th, 2021

On 28th September 2013, disabled activists and supporters came to Parliament Square for ‘10,000 Cuts & Counting’, a ceremony of remembrance and solidarity for over 10,000 who died shortly after the degrading Work Capability Assessments run for the government by Atos.

The figure of 10,000 is the number who died in the 3 months following the degrading Atos-administered tests used by the government intended to assess the needs of people receiving benefits related to disability and ill health. The campaigners are not claiming that the test itself killed people, although some have been driven to commit suicide after being failed by Atos, but that such tests administered in the final days of life are unfeeling, unnecessary and persecute the sick and dying.

At the event we heard moving personal testimonies by disabled people and a mother of three disabled children, with many damning indictments of the failures of Atos and the Department of Work and Pensions, both failing to understand the needs of the disabled and not treating them with dignity and humanity, and of deliberately discriminatory policies, arbitrary decisions and bureaucratic incompetence.

Parliament Square was covered with 10,000 while flowers, one for each of the dead, and there was 2 minutes of silent remembrance for those who have suffered and died.

The silence was followed by four prayers facing the four sides of the square; prayers facing Westminster Abbey for the families of those who have suffered and disabled people still suffereing or despairing; facing the Supreme Court calling for justice and compassion for those without resources and power and for an end to discrimination and violence against the disabled; towards the Treasury calling on those in national and local government who decide on the use of resources to take into account the effect on people of what they do; and finally towards Parliament, calling for a new deal for disabled people and to put right the evident wrongs in the current system.

Unfortunately the prayers were not heard by those in power. The government’s response? They stopped issuing the figures on which this event was based.

More at 10,000 Cuts – Deaths After Atos Tests.


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.


Kashmiris say ‘India Out!’

Saturday, January 18th, 2020

By 1947 Britain had boxed itself into an impossible position in India (not least by the earlier actions of Lord Curzon as Viceroy in Bengal in 1905) and it was clear that the only option was for a British withdrawal from the whole area. Clement Atlee who had become UK prime minister since the 1945 election had long been a supporter of Indian independence and the question was not whether this should happen, but how it could be managed in a way that satisfied both Muslim and Hindu communities and avoided catastrophic bloodshed.

It was indeed a hugely complex situation. As well as the British Raj, there were also several hundred princely states in a looser arrangement with British rule. And as well as Muslims and Hindus, there were also some areas where Sikhs, Buddhists and Jains were in the majority. The British Government ruled that the area would become independent at the latest by June 1948, but Lord Mountbatten, newly appointed Viceroy announced his plan on June 3 1947 with independence only just over 2 months away on 15 August 1947.

The plan called for various existing Indian legislatures to vote on whether to be a part of India or Pakistan or be partitioned and set up a boundary commission to establish partition, but failed to deal with the princely states, where the decision of which dominion to join would be a matter for the prince alone.

Protesters in Kashmir have been killed and many deliberately blinded bu Indian forces

Mountbatten was clearly poorly advised and was as he said a soldier not a civilian and he assured those who predicted a bloodbath at partition that the army would be able to control the situation: ” I shall see to it that there is no bloodshed and riot.” In the event around 10 million people were displaced and somewhere between 200,000 and 2 million killed, with violence being encouraged by some of the princely rulers, including in Kashmir.

Kashmir had a Muslim majority but a Hindu prince who was hesistant to join Pakistan and went to Mountbatten for military help when Pakistani forces invaded part of the area; Mountbatten agreed to help on condition it would become a part of India. In 1948 the UN intervened and brokered a ceasefire, declaring that a referendum of Kashmiris be held – which never happened. There were further military conflicts between India and Pakistan in Kashmir in 1965 and 1999.

Since then the Indian controlled area named Jammu and Kashmir has been under military occupation by Indian troops. The severity of control by police and army increased following an armed revolt by Kashmiris calling for independence in 1989. Elections in the area are now widely thought to be rigged in favour of pro-India groups.

The special position of the area was recognised in 1954 by Article 370 of the Indian constitution, with separate laws on  citizenship, the ownership of property and fundamental rights. In particular these prevented non-citizens of the area buying land and property in the state.

On 5th August 2019 the Indian government cancelled the 1954 provisions, bringing Jammu and Kashmir under the same conditions as other Indian states. Kashmiris protested and there was a further security clampdown, with communications to the country being severed and a further influx of Indian soldiers – there are now around 800,000 there.

Kashmiris protest at India House
Kashmiris protest in Trafalgar Square