Al Quds Day march
Portland Place to US Embassy, London. Fri 10 Jul 2015
Protesters line up behind the BBC ready for the march
The annual Al Quds Day march on the last Friday of Ramadan, organised
by the Islamic Human Rights Commission gathered close to BBC Broadcasting
House, marching from there to a rally at the US Embassy, calling for justice
and freedom for Palestine.
Several thousand came to the back of Broadcasting House for the start of
the march, mainly Muslim, but with a few maingly Jewish supporters from the
British left and a group of ultra-orthodox Neturei Karta anti-zionist Jews.
The IHRC receives support from the Iranian regime, and the celebration of
Al Quds Day on the last Friday of Ramadan was introduced by Ayatollah Khomeini
in Iran 1979 and spread from there to other countries. The roots of the event
are quite clear with a large banner carrying a quotation from Khomeini, although
support for Iran was less marked than in previous years, and I only saw one
protester carrying a photograph of Khomeini.
Most of the banners and placards and the chanting on the march were calling
for freedom for Palestine, and there were many placards against Israeli violence
in Gaza and the West Bank, and calling for a boycott of Israel, a movement
which seems to be growing in strength.
There were too a few - very few - Hezbollah flags and people wearing badges
showing their support. The Neturei Karta had their anti-Zionist placards,
with their message that 'Authentic Jewry Always Opposed Zionism And the State
of "Israel"', but I found no evidence for anti-semitism, which opponents
of the march always charge it with.
Among the groups supporting the march are many organisations involved with
Palestine, including the Ahlulbayt Islamic Mission, Friends of Al Aqsa, Friends
of Lebanon, Innovative Minds, Islamic Centre of England, Islamic Students
Association, Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods, Lebanese Community UK, Muslim
Association of Britain, Muslim Council of Britain, Muslim Directory, Neturei
Karta International, Scottish PSC, Sons of Malcolm, Passion Islam, Stop the
War Coalition and UK Islamic Mission.
I left the march as it turned off Regent St to make its way through Mayfair
to a rally at the US Embassy.
IWGB protest at Royal College of Music
Kensington, London. Fri 10 Jul 2015
Jason Moyer-Lee and Alberto Durango of the IWGB blow horns outside the Royal
College of Music
The IWGB union protested noisly at the Royal College of Music after it
failed to respond to their offer of negotiations to acheive sick pay, holidays
and pension for outsourced workers similar to workers directly employed by
Security staff at the RCM tried to get the protesters to move away from the
area in front of the entrance, but they refused, and their presence there
did not greatly impede people entering or leaving. There were more people
around than usual as there was a graduation ceremony taking place. The union
had offered to call off the protest if the management would talk about their
claim for for proper sick pay, holidays and pensions for the outsourced workers.
Quite a few of those going in and out took the flyer about the dispute and
some expressed their support. The noisy protest will have been evident to
all those inside the building, which would perhaps not have been the case
if the protesters had moved away as requested.
There was a minor incident when one woman came out of the building and remonstrated
with the protesters, telling them to go away. When they refused to do as she
asked she assaulted on of them, and the RCM security quickly led her away.
Sotheby's 4 sacked for protesting
Old Bond St, London. Wed 8 Jul 2015
An officer refuses to make eye contact as he pushes
UVW general secretary Petros Elia away from Sotheby's
United Voices of the World and their supporters protested at Sothebys
after they sacked four workers who took part in last week's protest for proper
sick pay for the cleaners and porters there.
As the week before, the protesters, now calling for the reinstatement of
the 'Sotheby's 4' as well as for the original demands for proper
sick pay, holidays and pensions met at Oxford Circus. The UVW were supported
by other groups and individuals including Class War, SOAS Unison and the PCS
workers from the National Gallery.
They marched to Sotheby's, where they made clear to police that they wanted
to protest outside the auction house, while police tried to force them across
to the pavement opposite. After five minutes police began pushing the protesters,
but were only successful after two more police vans brought reinforcements
a few minutes later. The protest then continued facing Sotheby's from across
the road and was continuing when I had to leave around an hour later.
Save Shaker Aamer weekly vigil
Parliament Square, London. Wed 8 Jul 2015
A line of police watch the regular Shaker Aamer weekly
Budget Day was just another Wednesday for the Save Shaker Aamer Campaign,
and they were there to remind MPs that Shaker Aamer, long cleared for release,
is still held, abused and tortured in Guantanamo and urging his immediate
release to the UK.
Joint Strikers Budget Day Rally
Parliament Square, London. Wed 8 Jul 2015
Candy Udwin, victimised PCS rep at the National Gallery
speaks in Parliament Square
Public sector workers on strike against the privatisation of the council
services in Barnet and Bromley and of workers at the National Gallery marched
to a rally in Parliament Square while the Budget speech was being made called
by Bromley Unite.
DPAC Parliament Square Budget Day protest
Parliament Square, London. Wed 8 Jul 2015
Police secure Andy Greene in his wheelchair inside a
specially adapted van hired for the occasion
The DPAC 'Balls to the Budget' protest ended in Parliament Square. After
a short rally police moved in to remove the giant banner and protesters from
the road. Several protesters, including Andy Greene of DPAC in his wheelchair,
When the protesters came off Waterloo Bridge they stopped on the junction
at the corner of Parliament Square blocking all traffic there, and held a
short rally, joined by trade unionists who had come for a rally there. Traffic
standing still on Whitehall had meant that those marching from the National
Gallery, led by Candy Udwin who spoke briefly here, had needed to get off
the road and march on the pavement.
After a short while, large numbers of police came onto the road to persuade
the DPAC protesters to move away, although the police who included a small
group on horses, effectively blocked Parliament Square for rather longer.
The police arrested at least two of the protesters, and there was a long wait
while they brought in specially adapted hired van to take away Andy Greene
of DPAC in his wheelchair, along with pensioner Terry Hutt.
DPAC blocks Westminster Bridge
Westminster Bridge. Wed 8 Jul 2015
A cyclist pulls up his front wheel as he jumps off,
his way blocked ny the DPAC banner
Disabled People Against the Cuts block traffic on Westminster Bridge
on Budget Day with a 23 metre long banner in protest against cuts hitting
the disabled, after displaying it opposite the Houses of Parliament.
The protesters walked on to the roadway on the bridge with their banners,
while a small group on the embankment unrolled the long banner and held it
on the embankment wall facing the Houses of Parliament.
They then brought it up onto the bridge, where it stretched the whole width
of the bridge, again blocking traffic for a few minutes before marching with
it towards Parliament Square.
DPAC 'Balls to the Budget'
Downing St, London. Wed 8 Jul 2015
Paula Peters tries to throw a football into Downing
Disabled People Against Cuts supporters, some in wheelchairs and mobility
scooters, protested against the changes to benefits which will hit the disabled
hardest, writing messages on balls and throwing them over the gates of Downing
Among other groups supporting the protest were Global Womens Strike, Winvisible,
Women Against Rape, Unite Community and Class War. Also at Downing St was
political artist Kaya Mar with a Budget Day painting.
After some speeches on the opposite site of Whitehall, Paula Peters of DPAC
lead protesters across the road, including a number on mobility scooters and
in wheelchairs as well as walking. There they stopped in front of the two
rows of police and tried to throw balls of various sizes over the gates. Some
of the larger balls had messages such as 'If the Tories had a soul they'd
sell it', 'Cuts Kill' and 'Blood on your hands' and a woman carried a large
poster, 'Balls to this Bullshit Budget'. A few did go over the gate, but most
The protesters then made their way along the raod down Whitehall towards Parliament
Darent Valley Path & Thames
Gravesend, Kent. Sat 4 Jul 2015
Riverside path at Littlebrook power station
Our walk started at Dartford Station, rejoining the Darenth Way. For some
reason this does a short and pointless deviation to emerge and cross the river
again as it flows into the large ponds which used to be in front of a large
pharmaceutical works. Much of this has now gone, with production ceasing a
few years ago. Today the pond had some large areas of water lilies.
We made our way up Hythe St past the Hufflers' Arms, a reminder of when the
Darent was navigable, and men were needed to pull the barges upstream to the
Dartford wharf. A little past there a path took us across the Darent again
and on to a riverside path, a route I first walked thirty years ago. Since
then The Wellcome Foundation changed to Glaxo Wellcome, expanded, became Glaxo
Smith Kline, shortened to GSK and closed down. Some industry still remains
on the site, which has been sold to be developed for housing.
The riverside path took us to the lock, now rather derelict with a permanent
half-tide barrier to retain water upstream at low tide. Boats can still go
over this at or near high tide, and one narrow boat was moored just upstream,
and a man from the Friends of Dartford and Crayford Creek, aka Steam Crane
Wharf who are trying to restore navigation was working by the lock. We stopped
and talked with him for some time, and he told us that a yacht was going to
try and come up from the Thames in an hour or two.
Getting under the flood barrier isn't a problem, as it is only lowered very
occasionally at exceptionally high tides, though the river is very shallow
at low tide, but the Dartford bypass (Bob Dunn Way) has a low fixed span across
the river, boats need to come up and under it as the tide is rising and then
wait to travel further up towards Dartford.
The whole creek is now very silted up, with large mud banks in places, and
the permanent half-tide barrier has greatly increased the problem above it,
holding the water so it deposits its load of silt.
The paper works on the west side of the river are also now closed, and much
of the site is now being developed as housing. Downstream of the bypass the
Cray, also navigable for a short length, joins the Darent. The riverside path
is on a tall bank and winds considerably with distant views over the marshes.
It goes past some lakes, past a motocross circuit, a clay shooting range some
distance away, fields and cows, some derelict square roofless military structures,
and the scattered buildings of a former fireworks factory to the Darent Flood
We stopped here to eat our sandwiches in the shade of a hedge, about the only
shade between Dartford and Greenhithe where our walk ended. As we finished
we saw a yacht making for the Darent and I ran to photograph it going under
the flood barrier and upriver.
The path alongside the Thames was hot and dusty, taking us past the sewage
farm and Littlebrook Power station which finally ceased operation this year,
to the QEII bridge. As we got to the bridge the Cobelfret ferry eased out
of its berth at Purfleet, turned in the river, and made its way out towards
By this time I was getting a little hot and tired and took few pictures as
we walked past Crossways and on to Greenhithe where we took the train home.
We had meant to take a slightly early path away from the riverside to go up
to Stone Church and then on to Stone Crossing, but failed to see it if it
is still there.
Ahwazi crash secret UK-Iran business meeting
Westminster, London. Fri 3 Jul 2015
People try to stop the protesters in the corridor at
the British Iranian Chambers of Commerce
A small group of Ahwazi Arabs with the support of Peter Tatchell rushed
into the secret UK-Iran business talks to protest peacefully against violent
persecution of their people in Iran. Several protesters and a press photographer
were assaulted by a young Iranian man, thought to be an Iranian agent.
Around fifteen protesters, mainly from the Hashem Shabani Action Group,
named after Arab-Iranian poet and human rights activists Hashem Shabani, executed
for peaceful opposition to the Iranian regime in January 2014, met outside
Westminster Abbey, where they attracted the attention of a security man who
was relieved when they assured him they were shortly going to move elsewhere
after they had finished making their plans. Some of the protesters would protest
outside the building, but a group who were prepared to take direct action
would follow Peter Tatchell into the building and rush up the stairs
to try and crash the meeting.
Together with two cameramen and several photographers they then made their
way to the Tothill St entrance of NIOC (National Iranian Oil Company) House,
a building containing the offices of the British Iranian Chambers of Commerce
(BICC), which promotes UK-Iran trade and investment and where the secret meeting
was taking place on its sixth floor.
The protesters rushed into the foyer and most managed to evade the two or
three security staff and make for the stairs, where I and the two other photographers
followed them, running up the six stories. After running up six floors I wasn't
at my best, feeling rather too old for this sort of thing! It took a little
while to find the corridor to the room where the meeting was taking place,
with people standing around and taking light refreshments, and there were
some arguments in the corridor outside.
After a little pushing the protesters managed to enter the room and carry
out their protest against the exploitation of their homeland and anti-Arab
oppression by the Tehran regime. Various people were trying to throw us out
and I wasn't able to get a picture of Lord Lamont as he was confronted
by some of the protesters in the corridor outside, although the other photographers
did. He has been one of those pressing for the banning of the peaceful and
non-violent (their slogan is'Our weapons are pens. Our bullets are words')
Hashem Shabani Action Group along with Tory MP Richard Bacon, leader
of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Iran, who I think is visible in the
background of some of my images.
Iran's campaign of violent persecution, forced displacement and the suppression
of Ahwazi Arabs began around 1925, largely driven by the discovery of huge
oil reserves on the Arab lands. Continued after the Iranian revolution, it
has resulted in their homeland, thought to have been the inspiration of the
Bibilical 'Garden of Eden' becoming a desolate wasteland, the poorest area
of the Middle East.
Oil was first discovered there in 1908, and the Anglo-Persian Oil Company
formed to exploit it (in was renamed the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company in 1935)
was directly controlled by the British government from 1914 to 1951 when it
was nationalised under the the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC.) The UK
and USA led the 1953 coup which brought a new agreement which favoured the
multinationals and was only ended by the Islamic Revolution in 1978-9, which
brought Iranian oil back under the control on NIOC. Iran is the second largest
oil exporter in OPEC and still has huge reserves of oil and gas, mostly in
the Ahwazi regions.
After around ten minutes of protest at the BICC offices, the protesters and
photographers went back down the stairs and attempted to leave the offices.
They were held there by police, who made some enquiries about the assault
on one of the photographers, who eventually decided not to press charges against
the man who police had easily identified. It was thought that his assailant
was probably an Iranian secret agent who would be able to claim diplomatic
After sitting around on the comfortable seating in the foyer for around 45
minutes drinking the fruit juice hospitably brought by the building manager,
police allowed protesters and press to leave and the group, including those
who had stayed outside the building posed for photographs on the steps outside.
Sotheby's 'Dignity under the Hammer' protest
Old Bond St, London. Wed 1 Jul 2015
Protesters on the road outside Sotheby's making a
lot of noise
A noisy protest at Sotheby's as an auction of art works expected to fetch
over £350m was beginning, called for the cleaners and porters who work
there to get contractual sick pay and for an end to harassment of workers
for union activities.
The protesters met at Oxford Circus and marched down to Sotheby's in Old
Bond St with banners, drums, United Voices of the World flags and whistles,
stopping on the road outside the auction house. Sotheby's had a black carpet
and covered entranceway going across the pavement almost to the curb with
a number of security men and a flunkey waiting to greet their customers.
Other protesters, including a group from Class War with their Lucy Parsons
banner were waiting for them at Sotheby's. The protesters crowded around the
entrance way which was kept clear by police and security and kept up a continuous
protest with chants, drumming and other noise, along with some speeches from
Petros Elia of the UVW and two of the cleaners, Percy and Barbara.
Some of those going into the auction took the leaflets they were offered,
while others tried to ignore the protest; a few stopped briefly to talk. Although
noisy and making its demands loudly and angrily, the protest was peaceful
and had moments of humour, particularly from Class War, with a dance on the
black carpet by Adam Clifford, and some antics from Ian Bone, who rather upset
some of the police. The Class War women had brought large water pistols, which
mainly they used on other supporters of Class War, with Adam being shot and
dying spectacularly in front of the Sotheby's entrance.
Earlier UVW protests at Sotheby's had led to the cleaners and porters working
there winning the London Living Wage, contractual sick pay, the reinstatement
of our trade union members that had been suspended and dismissed and many
other things. But Sotheby's then fired CCML, the company that had been employing
the cleaners, and brought in new contractors, Servest, who refused to implement
the contractual sick pay that had previously been agreed. They also refused
to backdate the payment of the London Living Wage as had also been agreed
and were doubtful whether they would increase the rate to the new level when
it comes in on Nov 1st.
A letter was sent to all the employees, threatening with sacking if they
took part in any protests over the backing down by the company from the agreement
that had earlier been reached with CCML, and begain unfair disciplinary action
against one of the union reps, while refusing to investigate his report of
threats of violence made by managers.
Sotheby's has been making record profits in the past year and paying the
cleaners as previously agreed would have only an infinitesimal impact on this.
On the date chosen for the protest a Contemporary Art Evening Auction was
taking place at which works by artists including Francis Bacon and Andy Warhol
were being offered for sale, with the auction house later announcing that
the evening "realised £130.4m ($204.7m / €183.9m), Sotheby’s
highest-ever total for a sale of Contemporary Art in Europe. Warhol’s
only hand-painted one-dollar bill painting sold for £20.9 million, the
highest price for any work sold in London this week."
The day after the protest and sale when the cleaners reported for work, four
who took part in the protest were stopped as they came to work and told they
were not allowed to enter. The UVW has pledged to continue protests like this
until Sotheby's take back the workers and meet the previously agreed demands.
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