Posts Tagged ‘War on Want’

A Hero Remembered, Olympics and Iraq

Wednesday, August 4th, 2021


Some photographers love to travel, but I relish the great variety of events I have been able to photograph in London, (as well as the city itself.) Saturday 4th August 2012 demonstrates that well.

Raoul Wallenberg was clearly one of the great heroes of the twentieth century, and played a huge role while working as a Swedish diplomat in Budapest in 1944-5. Historians now question the popular claims that he saved as many as 100,000 Jews and suggest the actual figure may be between 4,500 and 9,000, but as one of them commented, his “fame was certainly justified by his extraordinary exploits.”

Wallenberg and his fellow Swedish diplomat Per Anger issued thousand of official-looking “protective passports” identifying the bearers as Swedish citizens and rented over 30 buildings in Budapest which he declared to be Swedish territory. According to Wikipedia these eventually housed almost 10,000 people. The money for these came from the American Red Cross and it was apparently at US request that Wallenberg was posted to Budapest.

Wallenberg was not the only diplomat in Budapest issuing protective passports to save Jews, with others being provided with Swiss, Spanish and Portuguese documents. He is also said to have persuaded the Germans not to blow up the Budapest ghetto and kill its 70,000 inhabitants, though the Italian businessman Giorgio Perlasca who was posing as the Spanish consul-general claims that it was his intervention that saved them

Swedish Ambassador Nicola Clase speaks about Wallenberg

Wallenberg disappeared on 17th January 1945 after being summoned to see the commander of the Russian forces encircling the city to answer charges he was involved in espionage. He was taken to Moscow and little definite is known about him after than although the Soviet Government in 1957 released a document stating he had died in prison, probably of a heart attack on 17 July 1947. But there were later reported sightings of him. Documents released in 1996 by the CIA show he was working with their wartime predecessor.

Wallenberg was born on August 4th 1912, and a ceremony took place in his honour around the Wallenberg memorial, sculpted by Philip Jackson outside the Western Marble Arch Synagogue. It was a moving event, led by Rabbi Lionel Rosenfeld with Rector Michael Persson from the Swedish Church in London reading Psalm 121 and giving an address about Wallenburg who he called an ordinary man who was brave when the time came and had followed the Lutheran ideal of living, a calling to be yourself and to do good for other people. The Swedish ambassador also spoke about him.

Earlier I had been at the Olympics. Not the thing on Stratford Marsh, but a rather smaller event organised by War on Want outside Adidas on Oxford St, claiming that workers making clothes for the official sportswear partner of London 2012 get poverty wages are not allowed to form unions and have little or no job security.

War on Want point out that around the world thousands of workers producing clothes for Adidas are working for poverty wages that do not cover basic essentials like housing, food, education and healthcare. Many have to work beyond legal limits, up to 15 hours a day to scrape a living. And workers who try to organise trade unions face harassment and sacking.

The games began with badminton, and then moved on to hurdles, but police told them it was too dangerous on the pavement in Oxford St. They were made to move around the corner. Adidas sent along someone from their PR Agency to give misinformation to the press, but there was damning information on the War on Want web site on wages and conditions in factories in Indonesia, Sri Lanka and China producing goods for Adidas. I don’t expect things have changed that much for these workers since 2012.

Finally I made my way to Iraq Day 2012, “organized to celebrate the games with a hint of Iraq flavor” by the Iraqi Culture Centre in London and sponsored by Bayt Al Hekima- Baghdad in conjunction with the Local Leader London 2012 program.

There were some unplanned and fairly dramatic events on stage, and one of the performers stormed off the platform, furious at what she felt was cultural discrimination against the Kurds, and a group of Kurdish musicians were told they had to leave the stage, but generally it lacked much interest for me.

I was sorry for the many Iraqis and others who were unable to eat the Iraqi food that was on offer – for this event was taking place during Ramadan. I had been asked to photograph a fashion show that was a part of the programme, but for some reason it didn’t take place when it should have, and I had to leave before it happened.

More on all of these:

Iraq Day Festival
Raoul Wallenberg 100th Anniversary
Adidas Stop Your Olympic Exploitation


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.


Armenian Genocide, TTIP, Football and Cyclists in Tweed

Sunday, April 18th, 2021

On Saturday 18th April 2015, Armenians marked the 100th anniversary of the start of the Armenian Genocide in Turkey in which 1.5 million were killed between 1915 and 1923. Turkey still refuse to accept the mass killings as genocide and the UK has not recognised the killing of this huge number of Armenians as genocide. The term was first published in 1943 by Polish lawyer Raphael Lemkin in his book ‘Axis Rule in Occupied Europe‘. After he had read about the killing of Armenians in Turkey and found that there was no law under which Talat Pasha, the grand vizier of the Ottoman Empire could be charged he invented and defined the term ‘genocide.

I left shortly before their march began to catch up with the Football Action Network who were taking copies of their manifesto to the Labour, Tory and Lib-Dem offices in Westminster. They were moving fast and there was no sign of them at Labour HQ; I ran on to the Tory HQ to find they had left, and finally caught up with them at the Lib Demo offices near Parliament Square. There I found supporters with scarves from Bolton, Luton Town and Dulwich Hamlet from Football Beyond Borders holding a couple of banners and passports with their demands, including a Football Reform Bill, a living wage for all staff, fair ticket prices, safe standing, and reforms to clubs & the Football Association.

The next even came to me, as a group of cyclists on the Tweed Cycle Ride stopped at the traffic lights on the road opposite, and I ran to meet them, then ran along with them through Parliament Square when the lights changed to green. he Tweed Run raises money for the London Cycling Campaign and describes itself as “a jaunty bike ride around London in our sartorial best“. The vintage-themed ride stops for tea and a picnic and ends with “a bit of a jolly knees-up.” Not really my kind of thing.

I caught the tube to Shepherds Bush and a rally on the Green against TTIP, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership being secretly negotiated by governments and corporations which poses a threat to democracy and all public services. The huge public outcry across the EU against this and in particular the Investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) already incorporated in some other treaties which allows companies to sue countries for ‘discriminatory practices’ including efforts to combat global heating is possibly why these talks were eventually abandoned in 2016, though our EU referendum may also have helped. After speeches the rally split into groups for discussion.

After the rally, white-coated War on Want campaigners moved across the road to a branch of Kentucky Fried Chicken for a performance with buckets and rubber chickens protesting against TTIP which would force us to admit US agricultural products produced by practices considered unsafe here – such as chlorine-dipped chickens, hormone stuffed beef etc. The need for these methods is driven by US intensive farming methods which have lower standards for safety and animal welfare than are acceptable here – and although TTIP ended without a treaty, our post-Brexit trade agreement with the US seems almost certain to include similar hazards.

Next I moved with protesters to the BP garage on the opposite side of Shepherds Bush Green, where activists staged a die-in as TTIP would force countries to use dirty fuels including coal, tar oil and arctic oil and seriously delay cutting carbon emissions and the move to renewable energy.

Finally, a group of protesters walked into the Westfield centre to stage a street theatre performance outside Virgin Media to illustrate the danger that TTIP poses to our NHS, allowing corporations to force the privatisation of all public services. Like other large shopping centres Westfield is a private place where protests and photography are not permitted, but police and security stood back and watched the event, and though security attempted to stop some videographers I kept a lower profile and was not approached.

Virgin Media is actually no longer a part of the Virgin empire, though it still pays Branson to use the name. Virgin Care now runs a large part of the NHS which is rapidly being privatised by the Conservative government. According to The Observer, because of a complex structure of holding companies with links to other parts of the Virgin empire with its roots in the British Virgin Islands, the company is “unlikely to pay any tax in the UK in the foreseeable future.”

Westfield ‘Save our NHS’ protest
BP die-in against Climate Change
KFC protest over TTIP
Stop TTIP rally
Tweed Cycle Ride
Football Action Network Manifesto
Centenary of Armenian Genocide