Posts Tagged ‘wreaths’

Open House, Sewol, Iran, Sabah, Sarawak & Orange Order 2017

Saturday, September 16th, 2023

Open House, Sewol, Iran, Sabah, Sarawak & Orange Order: Saturday 16th September 2017 was another busy and varied day for me in London, beginning with two visits on Open House Day and continuing with four protests.


Open House – Banqueting House – Whitehall

Open House, Sewol, Iran, Sabah, Sarawak & Orange Order

Though I’d often walked past the Banqueting House in Whithall, usually on my way to protests at Downing Street or Parliament Square, I’d never before been inside the building. But when I came past on Open House Day there was only a short queue and entrance was free. I had time to spare as a protest I’d hoped to photograph had failed to materialise, so in I went.

Inigo Jones designed (or copied from Andrea Palladio) the Banqueting House for the Palace of Whitehall, built 1619-22, and it is the only remaining building from the palace. It was the first neo-Classical building in England.

More about it and more pictures on My London Diary at Open House – Banqueting House.


Open House & more – Peckham

Open House, Sewol, Iran, Sabah, Sarawak & Orange Order

I went to Peckham to see a few things in the Peckham Festival including the Open House showing of the Old Waiting Room at Peckham Rye station which was housing a photographic exhibition of old pictures of Peckham.

Open House, Sewol, Iran, Sabah, Sarawak & Orange Order

The building itself turned out to be more interesting than the exhibition which lacked any real examination of the more recent past of Peckham. But there were other things to see in Peckham, and a short walk around Rye Lane and the Bussey Building is always interesting.

More at Open House & more – Peckham.


41st monthly Sewol ‘Stay Put!’ vigil – Trafalgar Square

Open House, Sewol, Iran, Sabah, Sarawak & Orange Order

Back in Central London, my first protest was in Trafalgar Square where a small group mainly of SOuth Koreans was continuing their series of monthly vigils in memory of he Sewol victims, mainly school children who obeyed the order to ‘Stay Put’ on the lower decks as the ship went down.

They continue to demand the Korean government conduct a thorough inquiry into the disaster, recover all missing victims, punish those responsible and enact special anti-disaster regulations.

41st monthly Sewol ‘Stay Put!’ vigil


Overthrow the Islamic Regime of Iran – Trafalgar Square

Also in Trafalgar Square the 8 March Women’s Organisation (Iran-Afghanistan) were protesting on the 29th anniversary of the massacre of political prisoners in Iraq following a fatwa by Ayatollah Khomeini calling for the death of all Mojahedins and leftists as ‘fighters against God’ and ‘apostates from Islam.’

The fatwa led to over 30,000 political prisoners, mostly members of the main opposition People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK) being executed, largely hanged in groups of six and buried in mass graves.

The protesters call for the overthrow of the Islamic regime as necessary for the ‘litigation movement’ can achieve justice and build a society where such executions cannot occur and no one is suppressed, imprisoned or tortured for their ideas.

More pictures: Overthrow the Islamic Regime of Iran.


Black Day for Sabah & Sarawak – Downing St

A short distance down the road at Downing St, Sabahans and Sarawkians were protesting on Malaysia Day, which they say is a ‘Black Day for Sabah and Sarawak’, calling for a restoration of human rights and the repeal of the Sedition Act and and freedom for Sarawak and Sabah.

Among them was Doris Jones, the leader of the Sabah Sarawak Keluar Malaysia secessionist movement in London.

When Malaysia was founded on 16th September 1963 the two independent countries in North Borneo joined with the Federation of Malaya and Singapore and were given promises, assurances and undertakings for their future in the federation. These included ’20 points’ of an Inter-Governmental Committee (IGC) Report, which the prrotesters say have been cast aside, and anyone raising them is being detained under a draconian Internal Security Act.

More at Black Day for Sabah & Sarawak.


Lord Carson Memorial Parade – Cenotaph, Whitehall

The annual Lord Carson Memorial Parade, one of several annual parades by lodges of the Orange Order came to the Cenotaph for wreaths to be laid. As well as various lodges dedicated to the Apprentice Boys of Derry there were others remembering the Ulster regiments that fought on the Somme. As well as members of lodges in the Home Counties and London, these parades also include some who come from Ulster and Scotland.

Lord Carson (1854-1935) was a leading judge and politician in the UK becoming Solicitor General and First Lord of the Admiralty. He had joined the Orange Order at the age of 19, and in 1911 became the leader of the Ulster Unionists, determined to fight against home rule for Ireland by “all means which may be found necessary“, becoming one of the founders of a unionist militia that became the Ulster Volunteer Force.

But in later years he warned Unionists not to alienate the Catholics in the north, something which parades such as this clearly do in some areas of Northern Ireland. In London they are much less controversial, although I have at times been threatened by those taking part for photographing them. But on this occasion I received just a few hard stares and even some faintly welcoming grins from some who recognised me.

More pictures on My London Diary at Lord Carson Memorial Parade.


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Armenians, Copts and Venezuela – 20 April 2013

Thursday, April 20th, 2023

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

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

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

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

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


Armenians Remember the Genocide

Armenians, Copts and Venezuela - 20 April 2013

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

Armenians, Copts and Venezuela - 20 April 2013

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

Armenians, Copts and Venezuela - 20 April 2013

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

Armenians, Copts and Venezuela - 20 April 2013

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

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

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

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


Copts Say End Egyptian Persecution – Old Palace Yard, Westminster

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

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

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

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

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

Copts Say End Egyptian Persecution


Stand Off at Venezuela Embassy – South Kensington

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

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

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

As I commented:

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

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


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Armistice Day Events & Canada Geese Protest, 2017

Friday, November 11th, 2022

Silent Remembrance Peace Vigil – Trafalgar Square, Sat 11 Nov 2017

I came up the steps from the Underground into Trafalgar Square just as the clocks struck 11am on Saturday 11th of November 2017, exactly 99 years to the minute after the end of fighting following the signing earlier in the morning of the Armistice in a railway carriage in the Forest of Compiègne. Though actually an hour late, since it was 11.00 am Paris time, an hour ahead of GMT.

A revolt by sailors in the German Navy, beginning in Wilhelmshaven on 29-30th October 2018 had lead widespread actions across Germany with the proclamation of a Republic which forced the abdication of Kaiser Wilhelm and made the end of the war inevitable – it had largely been a family quarrel between the ruling royals.

As I came up into the square a whistle marked the start of the two-minute silence, and at least one bus swerved to the side of the road and stopped, though much of the traffic continued around it. A few people in the square stood to attention, but many of the tourists continued as normal. And I stood for a few seconds then kept on walking to photograph a small group of Quakers on the North Terrace wearing white poppies and beginning a 45 minute silent remembrance peace vigil outside the National Gallery.

White poppies were first made in 1933 by the Co-operative Women’s Guild to hold on to the key message of remembrance, ‘never again’. The First World War, known at the time as The Great War, had been called “the war to end all wars” but by 1933 many were beginning to think that another world war was coming.

The white poppy remembers all victims or war, both civilians and military, and of all nationalities and has become more important as our official armistice events have over the past years become more and more militaristic celebrations. Sales of white poppies have increased greatly in recent years, with demand outstripping supply.

The white poppy challenges war and militarism and any attempt to glorify or celebrate war, and shows a committment to peace and nonviolent solutions to conflict. This year writer and poet Benjamin Zephaniah appears in a popular https://youtu.be/jtjCGCxT_PU video where he explains why he wears a white poppy and urges others to do the same to remember all victims of war and to work towards a world where there is no war.

Silent Remembrance Peace Vigil


Close Canada Goose for animal cruelty – Regent St, Sat 11 Nov 2017

Fur is Worn By Beautiful Animals and Ugly People!

Several hundred campaigners marched from a nearby square to protest outside the newly opened flagship Regent Street Canada Goose store where the protest continued for most of the day. Police struggled to clear a path through the protesters for customers to enter and leave.

Canada Goose was selling coats with fur trims using trapped wild coyotes, which may suffer for days in cruel traps, facing blood loss, dehydration, frostbite, gangrene and attacks by predators, some even trying to chew off their own trapped limbs to escape before a trapper returns to strangle, stamp or bludgeon them to death.

The down in their jackets is from ducks and geese that have their throats slit and are dumped into scalding hot water for feather removal while often still alive and feeling pain to make the down-filled jackets.

The London protests followed years of protests in New York and Toronto and continued weekly and at times more frequently. The shop gained an interim injunction restricting the activities outside the Regent St shop at the end of November 2017, but this was discharged in 2019 and their request to make it final refused, with the High Court saying the right to protest is an important legal right.

In June 2021 Canada Goose announced it would stop buying fur by the end of that year and no longer make products using real fur no later than the end of 2022. The protests backed by Peta for 15 years had eventually led to success, although the company denied that they had any part in its decision. The campaign to stop them using geese and duck feathers continues.

Close Canada Goose for animal cruelty


Remember Refugees on Armistice Day – Whitehall, Sat 11 Nov 2017

Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants hosted a a commemoration ceremony to lay a life-ring wreath in memory of the people who have died fleeing their war-torn countries to seek refuge over the past year.

The event began at the Ministry of Defence. Many feel that the official celebration of Remembrance Day has gradually become more militaristic and a celebration of our victories rather than remembering the deaths of many in all the wars that our country has played a part in.

Among those taking part were a number of refugees as well as some activists who had supported them in the camps at Calais and on Greek Islands.

After speeches on the steps of the Ministry of Defence people held up posters with the details known about some of the migrants who have died trying to cross to the UK, but for many the posters read ‘Name Unknown’ – all we know is their date of death.

Then people processed holding wreaths of orange poppies and burning candles to the Cenotaph where they laid these to remember those who died seeking sanctuary. There were 17 small wreaths, the average number of people who have died so far trying to migrate each day in 2017.

Remember Refugees on Armistice Day


Orange Lodges Remembrance Day parade – Whitehall, Sat 11 Nov 2017

As I was at the Cenotaph I heard the sound of a flute band and drums as the London City District No 63 and the Houses of Parliament Lodge marched up Parliament St with visiting loyalists on their annual Remembrance Day parade in central London.

I photographed them marching and laying wreaths, but didn’t go with them as they went to lay further wreaths at the Duke of York Column in honour of Prince Frederick, Duke of York, the second eldest son of King George III and a Grand Master of the Loyal Orange Institution of England and then to St James’ Square for the end of their parade, where they were to lay a wreath at the memorial to WPC Yvonne Fletcher. Although I had no problems in Whitehall on this occasion I have been attacked at some other Orange events in London.

Orange Lodges Remembrance Day parade


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Hiroshima Day – 6th August

Saturday, August 6th, 2022

Hiroshima Day – 6th August

Hiroshima Day - 6th August
Rev Nagase, Japanese monk from the Battersea Peace Pagoda, 2011

While I was still teaching full-time I was usually away from London in August, often in Paris or on holiday with friends in different parts of England. But since 2004 I’ve usually been in London on August 6th and attended and photographed the annual Hiroshima Day Ceremony organised by London CND close to the Hiroshima Cherry Tree in Tavistock Square. The first year for which I used a digital camera was 2004, when the event was compèred by local MP Jeremy Corbyn and among those attending were Michael Foot and Tony Benn. There was a significant non-attender too, Mordechai Vanunu had been invited to come from Jerusalem where he is under house arrest for having made public Israel’s nuclear weapons, but was prevented from coming by the Israeli government.

Hiroshima Day - 6th August
Tony Benn, 2011

Back then I think the processing of digital files left something considerable to be desired, and the images on-line are rather dull, though I think could now be greatly improved if I found time to reprocess the raw files.

Hiroshima Day - 6th August
Bruce Kent, 2009

By the time photographed the ceremony in 2009, the pictures looked much better. Jeremy Corbyn was again introducing the speakers, who included CND stalwart Bruce Kent.

Bruce Kent spoke again in 2011, as did Tony Benn, but the star of the event was Hetty Bower who had begun her campaign against war in 1914 when she was a young schoolgirl, almost nine. Her’s was a remarkably powerful performance from a 105 year old who 97 years later was still taking part in every major UK anti-war march.

Nobo Ono, 2013

Hetty Bower was there again in 2013 and made a short speech. Other speakers included Bruce Kent, Peter Tatchell, Jeremy Corbyn, Walter Wolfgang, amd Green Party Leader Natalie Bennett as well as several peace activists, among them Val Brown from the London Guantanamo Campaign who talked about their work and the regular protests at the US Embassy, and Nobo Ono who spoke about the nuclear disaster at Fukushima and the weekly protests organised by Japanese Against Nuclear UK.

In 2014 my train to London was held up and I arrived after the event began, when a speaker was reminding everyone of the long life as a peace activist of Hetty Bower, and a several of those present were wearing t-shirts with her picture.

As usual, towards the end of the event there was a period of silence in memory of the dead and wreaths and flowers were laid at the Hioroshima Cherry Tree, planted in the garden here by the then Mayor of Camden in 1967.

In 2015, because of the Labour leadership contest, the event which usually attracts only a small handful of press was attended by several TV crews and a large number of photographers, many of whom more or less ignored anything but Jeremy Corbyn, seen in my picture standing for a few moments in thought after laying a sunflower at the foot of the tree.

Cllr Nadia Shah, Mayor of Camden lays a wreath, at left Anthony Flaum who had sung earlier, 2016

It was back to the usual lack of media interest in 2016, but the event was well attended with a number of familiar faces among the speakers, performers and the audience. Walter Wolfgang and Kate Hudson of CND, Mohammed Kozbar from Finsbury Park Mosque and Shahrar Ali from the Green Party were among those who spoke, and there were fine and very different perfomances from opera singer Anthony Flaum, radical folk singer Jim Radford and rap artist Potent Whisper, as well as the Raised Voices choir who as usual both performed on their own and led those at the event in singing some well-known peace songs.

Among the more memorable speakers in 2017 was writer A L Kennedy – but as usual all were worth listening to.

You can also see pictures and read the accounts from 2018, 2019 and 2021 on My London Diary.

I hope be again in Tavistock Square for today’s London CND Hiroshima commemoration – Saturday 6th August 2022 – starting at noon.


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World Pride & Spanish Civil War

Thursday, July 7th, 2022

World Pride & Spanish Civil War. On Saturday 7th July 2012 there were two events taking place at the same time and I was determined to cover both. Fortunately having begun at the start of the WorldPride procession in Marylebone I was able to jump onto the Bakerloo Line to Waterloo and photograph the annual International Brigades Commemoration at Jubilee Gardens before returning on the same line to Charing Cross to photograph the end of the march.


WorldPride London – Portman St & Westminster

Pride almost didn’t happen in 2012 as the organisers were met shortly before the event to provide financial assurances to the GLA, Met Police, Westminster Council, London Fire Brigade and Transport for London, which they were unable to do. Quite why London Mayor Boris Johnson decided to try to stop Pride in this way is not at all clear.

Two marchers in a group who had been at the first Gay Pride in 1972

So rather than the planned event they decided to stage a ‘peaceful protest’ march or ‘procession’ specified as a democratic right under the Public Order Act 1986. This meant there were none of the corporate floats that have in recent years come to dominate the event, although company staff still marched in their company outfits.

Gay Pride had in recent years lost much of its political edge, becoming a carnival of different lifestyles and a commercially sponsored jamboree, with large and expensive floats. Without these, although the corporates were still present, everyone was on the street together and the whole event seemed more intimate.

WorldPride 2012 was again a protest – as it used to be, though in a very different situation from when it began when for many that took part it was where they ‘came out’, taking the significant step in affirming themselves as gay and standing together against the prejudices of a society which was only just beginning to accept that being gay was not a perversion.

Of course there are still some communities in the UK where being gay remains unacceptable, and as campaigner Peter Tatchell reminded us, there are still some countries where people are being killed because they are gay.

There were a number of heavy showers while people were arriving for the event, and many put off arriving as late as possible. Although at first it looked as if the event might be a washout, by the time I was making my way towards Baker Street station the street was tightly packed making my progress slow.

When I returned to photograph marchers at the end of the event in Whitehall and Pall Mall I had missed the front of the march, but there were still many arriving hours after the procession had begun.


Sacrifice For Spain Remembered – International Brigade Memorial

David Loman unveils the new plaque in Jubilee Gardens

The annual International Brigades Commemoration has been on the same day as Pride in several years, and recording both has often been a problem. I was particularly keen to be there this year as it could well be the last to be attended by any of those who volunteered to go to Spain.

The war in Spain began in 1936, 76 years earlier. A new plaque was being unveiled in Jubilee Gardens by David Loman who was an 18 year old Jewish lad, David Soloman, from the East End when he went to fight in Spain in 1936, changing his name to Loman (also know as Lomon) because it was illegal. He was captured by Italian soldiers in 1938, surviving some months in a prison camp before being repatriated. He served in the Royal Navy in the Second World War and like other surviving members of the International Brigades he was awarded Spanish nationality in 2007 for his services to the Spanish nation and presented with a Spanish passport in 2011.

Now 94, and looking very sprightly Loman is one of only three remaining British veterans – the others being Lou Kenton then 103 and Stanley Hilton. Both Loman and Kenton died during before the commemoration in 2013. Hilton, who was living in Australia, died in 2016 aged 98.

David Loman holds the flag he was presented

There were many family members of those who fought in Spain at the commemoration, and there were a number of speeches and performances by folk musician Ewan McLennan, performance poet Francesca Beard, singer-songwriter Paco Marin and folk duo Na-Mara, but Loman was definitely the star of the occasion.

More at Sacrifice For Spain Remembered.


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XR, Axe Drax and Knife Crime 2019

Sunday, April 17th, 2022

XR, Axe Drax and Knife Crime 2019 – three years ago Extinction Rebellion were, like today, protesting on the streets of London, with several key locations in London blocked for most of the week. Some joined the Axe Drax protesting over the polluting wood-burning powerstation that gets environmental subsidies for massive pollution. And the families of victims of knife crimes held a rally at Downing St and later blocking Westminster Bridge calling for urgent action against knife crime.


XR Waterloo ‘Garden Bridge’ continues – Waterloo Bridge

With several of London’s key routes still blocked by Extinction Rebellion there were no buses in the central area, so I walked across Waterloo Bridge on my way from the station to the City. I could of course had used the tube, but XR had turned the bridge into a ‘Garden Bridge’ and I wanted to see how their protest there was progressing so went earlier to allow myself plenty of time.

The bridge over the River Thames was still closed and had plenty of plants on it – so XR had, despite a couple of hundred arrests, achieved something that Boris Johnson had failed to manage with his backing the ludicrous and expensive Garden Bridge scheme as Mayor. New protesters were arriving to keep the bridge green as I walked across, enjoying the atmosphere with no traffic pollution, only people, plants and bikes.

The only vehicle on the bridge was a lorry brought by XR to stop the flow of traffic and to act as a stage for performances. There were people on top and locked on underneath to frustrate any attempt by police to remove it. It was a sunny morning, warm for the time of year and people were enjoying themselves, some dancing to drums or listening to poets, story tellers and singers, some attending workshops, others just laying back and enjoying the sun.

Their aim was to keep the bridge closed to vehicles until the government took necessary action on the global climate and ecological emergency, telling tell people the truth about the disaster we are facing, halting biodiversity loss, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2025. They want a programme led by a Citizen’s Assembly on climate and ecological justice. The government failed to act, other than put increasing pressure on the police to remove the gardeners who held the bridge for over a week.

XR Waterloo ‘Garden Bridge’ continues


Drax wood burning must end – Grocers Hall, City

Campaigners were picketing the Drax AGM in the City of London next to the Bank of England demanding an end to burning wood at Drax power station, the UK’s biggest carbon emitter.

In 2018 Drax got a huge subsidy of £789 million from a levy on our electricity bills because their highly polluting wood-burning qualifies them under a measure intended to combat climate change, not contribute to it. The wood they burn, largely from US forests which are being destroyed for it, contains carbon safely locked away, which they put back into the atmosphere that the trees removed it from. Drax – which was also planning to become the largest gas powered generating station in the UK, put 13 million tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere in 2018.

Drax wood burning must end


XR around Parliament Square

I took the tube to Westminster where Extinction Rebellion were still blocking the streets around Parliament Square two days after they closed them to traffic.

More protesters were arriving to join the blockade, and the theatrical ‘Red Rebel’ group of protesters was walking around the area. I took a few pictures before walking up Victoria St to the Dept for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy.

XR around Parliament Square


Drax Protest at BEIS – Westminster

The Axe-Drax protesters had also come from the City to continue their protest outside BEIS demanding an end to environmental subsidies for massive pollution. Drax burns more wood each year than the UK produces, mainly from environmentally disastrous clear-felling of US forests. Drax also burns coal from opencast mining, again with huge environmental damage, disrupting some communities and lead to human rights abuses, particularly in Colombia.

Drax’s planned gas-fuelled power plant, 2.7 times larger than the existing largest gas-fired plant was planned to come into operation in 2025 and probably intended to get most of its gas from UK fracking or new gas fields in the UK and Shetlands. Campaigners say that we can only meet the desperate need to cut our emissions enough to keep the temperature rise to 1.5 degrees if we keep the gas in the ground under land and sea – and that our longer-term aim needs to be to lower the CO2 levels. The campaigners were joined by a few more from Extinction Rebellion.

Drax Protest at BEIS


Knife crime campaigners Operation Shutdown – Westminster

Finally I joined a large group of campaigners from Operation Shutdown, a consortium of mums, dad’s and other bereaved family members and loved ones who were holding a rally at Downing St calling for urgent action by the government to halt the growing epidemic of knife crime.

They called for stiffer penalities for knife and gun crime, an end to cuts to local services including youth work and theie restoration to pre-austerity levels, as well as more money to get more police on the streets. They want adequate safeguarding, a coordinated approach to trafficking and grooming and abuse of children and young people and a proper sharing of information and accountability for recently announced public health approach to knife crime.

At the end of the Downing Street rally they marched with two wreaths the short distance to Bridge Street where they presented the wreaths to a police officer and hold a silence in memory of PC Keith Palmer, killed at Parliament by terrorists, before continuing onto Westminster Bridge which they sat down on to hold a further rally.

Knife crime Operation Shutdown


More pictures and text on these stories on My London Diary:

Knife crime Operation Shutdown
Drax Protest at BEIS
XR around Parliament Square
Drax wood burning must end
XR Waterloo ‘Garden Bridge’ continues


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Armistice Day – November 11th

Thursday, November 11th, 2021

Poppies in Trafalgar Square. 11 Nov 2006

When I was young everything still stopped for two minutes at 11am on Armistice Day although the main remembrance events had been moved to Remembrance Sunday in 1939 so as not to interfere with the war effort. But traffic still pulled into the side of the road here. In France the Armistice de la Première Guerre mondiale is still a national holiday.

Paris lle, 11 Nov 2008

I’m not a pacifist, but I am firmly opposed to most wars, both historic and current. The First World War was clearly a disaster that should not have happened, a family quarrel that should not have resulted in such incredible suffering and loss of life largely with people killing others who they had far more in common with than with those who sent them into battle.

Clearly US war in Vietnam (and earlier the French in Indochina) was wrong as was the invasion of Iraq. And equally clearly we as a nation should not be wasting money on pointless nuclear weapons and selling arms to promote wars around the world such as that in Yemen. And so on.

Remembering Animals Killed in War, Park Lane, 11 Nov 2006

But while it seems clear that America should not have been fighting in Vietnam, it seems clear that the Vietnamese had to fight against them, just as it seems clear that Cubans were justified in fighting against Batista and US imperialism – and the same applies to other struggles against colonialism and for national liberation.

School Students Against the War, Oxford St, 11 Nov 2006

I’ve recently re-read George Orwell’s Homage to Catalonia and although Stalinists contest his view of events it remains powerful both as a personal account of the war in Spain and makes clear the main reasons why the democratically elected government was defeated by the fascists – and Stalinist Russia’s contribution along with fascist Italy and Nazi Germany to that defeat, which made a wider war inevitable. If you’ve not read it, this is a book I highly recommend – and there is an excellent article ‘Orwell and the Spanish Revolution‘ by John Newsinger in International Socialism Journal which explains Orwell’s position and deals with some of his detractors.

Staines, Nov 11 2007

I grew up in the years following the Second World War and had my share as a wolf cub and boy scout of standing in short trousers with the bitter November wind blowing up them at Remembrance Sunday parades at local war memorials. Of course we should remember those who died, but not in the kind of militaristic and often jingoistic fashion that most or all such events have in England. The best way to honour their sacrifice is surely to work for peace. In Germany they have a day as a peace celebration.

Families of Servicemen Killed in Iraq, Cenotaph, Whitehall. 11 Nov, 2006

After briefly photographing the event at the Mairie in the 11th arrondissement – I’d rushed out from a café when I saw the event happening – we strolled the short distance to the Cimetière du Père-Lachaise.

Père-Lachaise, Paris lle, 11 Nov 2008

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October 7th 2017

Thursday, October 7th, 2021

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On 7th October 2017 I started the day at a silent vigil for Elephants and Rhinos in Parliament Square before going on the the main event, the Football Lads Alliance and Veterans Against Terrorism rally and march. They were protesting against the recent terror attacks in the UK and Europe, remembering the victims and calling on government to take decisive action against the extremist threat, including locking up all terrorist suspects and deporting those of foreign origin.

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I had some slight hopes that the FLA would turn out not just to be another extreme right organisation like the EDL and the organisers had emphasised that they were opposed to all extremism and racism, but the speeches at the rally in Park Lane and the response from the crowd soon made their position clear, with demands for many thousands of British Muslims to be locked up as extremists. And as I wrote “there was a huge outcry when the name of Diane Abbott was mentioned, with a loud shout from behind me that she should be raped. It was hard to avoid the impression that it was a meeting to stir up Islamophobia, and there seemed to be a total lack of sympathy with refugees fleeing their countries to seek asylum here.”

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Although most of the supporters were happy to be photographed with their wreaths there were a few times when I was greeted with abuse and threats and moved quickly away from some groups.

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More people joined the march as it moved up Picadilly and by the time it reached Trafalgar Square what had been billed as a silent march had become very noisy. There it was joined by a couple of hundred Gurkhas, many wearing medals, who marched at the front for a short distance before being overtaken by some of the organisers and fans.

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On Whitehall a group from Stand Up to Racism had gathered to stand as the march went past, handing out a flier ‘Some questions for the leaders of the FLA‘, which asked them to take steps to ensure their movement was not taken over by racists. The called on the marchers to stand together with the slogan ‘No to racism & Islamophobia, Football for All’.

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Many of the marchers took exception to this, shouting insults and threats, with some taking the leaflets and tearing them up, though there were some who seemed to take an interest and read it. Police formed a line to protect those handing out leaflets – making both handing the leaflets and taking photographs difficult, but preventing us being assaulted – and eventually forced the marchers who had stopped in a block against Stand Up to Racism to move away. Relatively few of the marchers seemed to make it to the final rally and wreath-laying on Westminster Bridge, with pubs in the area getting crowded and others hanging around in groups in Parliament Square.

Stand Up To Racism and the FLA
Football Lads Alliance March
Football Lads Alliance Rally
Silent Vigil for Elephants and Rhinos


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Hiroshima Day – August 6th

Friday, August 6th, 2021

2018

On 6th August 1945 a US B-29 bomber dropped a atomic bomb, code name ‘Little Boy’, from a height of 31,000 ft over the Japanese city of Hiroshima. It took almost 45 seconds to fall to a height of 1,900 feet where it detonated, by which time the bomber, Enola Gay was over 11 miles away.

2014

Hiroshima was a large city, a port with many industrial and military sites and a population of around 350,000. Because it had been selected as a target for a nuclear bomb it had not suffered the intensive conventional bombing of most other Japanese cities. The USA wanted to be able to see clearly the damage an atomic weapon could cause.

2019

Around 70,0000 people, 30% of the population were killed by the initial blast and firestorm which was caused, with around the same number badly injured. Around 70% of the city’s buildings were destroyed, an area of almost 5 square miles devastated. Those killed included over 90% of doctors and medical staff who were concentrated in the central area of the city.

2017

Two days later on August 8th the US decided to drop the second atomic bomb, one of a different design using plutonium rather than uranium, code-named ‘Fat Boy’. The intended target was Kokura, an ancient Japanese city with a huge arsenal, but dark clouds obscured the city, and the B-29 ‘Bockscar’ diverted to the city which was the secondary target, Nagasaki.

2016

The black clouds may have come from the the previous days US conventional fire-bombing of nearby Yahata, but workers at the steel works in Kokura had apparently decided to burn coal tar to try to make a smokescreen. Or it could just have been bad weather or some combination of all three than saved Kokura and condemned Nagasaki.

2009

There were clouds over Nagasaki too, but a patch of clear sky allowed the bomb to be dropped. The plutonium bomb was almost one and a half times more powerful than that which devastated Hiroshima but it exploded over a valley which slightly contained its effects. At least 35-40,000 were killed immediately, almost all of them civilians, including many foreign workers. Unlike in Hiroshima there was no firestorm as the area it was dropped on was less intensively developed.

2009

Although it was the US who dropped the bomb, the British government was deeply involved. Under the 1943 Quebec agreement between Roosevelt and Churchill which brought scientific development of atomic weapons by the two countries together, the consent of the UK was needed for these weapons to be used.

2011

Of course deaths continued after the explosions. Acute radiation syndrome killed many who survived the initial attack, mostly within 20-30 days. Radiation induced cancer and leukemia takes longer to emerge, reaching a peak around 6-8 years later. Radiation also causes miscarriages and birth defects.

2014

Around 650,000 people were recognised by the Japanese government as ‘hibakusah’, survivors affected by the bombs, and around 1% of these had illnesses attributed to their radiation exposure.

2015

Ceremonies in the two cities and around the world remember the bombings and call for the outlawing of nuclear weapons, a total of around 13,000 of which are now held by China, North Korea, France, India, Israel, Pakistan, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States. The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) was adopted by the UN in 2017 and entered into force on 22 January 2021. Countries voting for its adoption included two former nuclear states, South Africa and Kazakhstan, who gave up their weapons voluntarily and North Korea. So far 55 states have ratified or acceded to the treaty.

2016

The pictures, taken in various years, come from the annual Hiroshima Day event held every 6th August in Tavistock Square in London organised by London CND. The square is in the London Borough of Camden and take place next to the Hiroshima cherry tree planted there in 1967 by the then Mayor of Camden.


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.

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.