my london diary index


Stock photography by Peter+Marshall at Alamy

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Against Israeli Land Day massacre

Israeli Embassy, London. Sat 31 Mar 2018

A shocked crowd met to condemn the shooting of unarmed Palestinians by Israeli forces
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An emergency protest close to the Israeli embassy condemns the cold-blooded shooting by the Israeli army of peaceful protesters near the separation wall in Gaza yesterday.

Israel Defence Force snipers were placed in position on the wall and opened fire on unarmed protesters several hundred yards using live ammunition. 17 Civilians were killed and over 750 seriously injured by live fire, with others injured by rubber bullets and tear gas.

The massacre yesterday shocked the world and led the UN to call for an independent investigation, which Israel have refused. It is hard to see how anyone with the slightest streak of humanity or decency can fail to condemn the cold-blooded shooting of unarmed civilians carrying out a peaceful protest, but the coverage of the event in the UK media has been surprisingly muted, with the BBC giving considerable air-time to Israeli state speakers who have shamefully claimed the massacre was reasonable and fully justified.

The Palestinians were taking part in a mass popular march commemorating Land Day, 42 years ago when Palestinian refugees demanded the right of return to the homes and villages. Israeli forces in 1976 killed six Palestinians, seriously wounded around a hundred and arrested many more. Over 70% of the Palestinians in Gaza are from families that were ejected from their land 70 years ago, and are demanding the right to return. The march on Land Day was the start of a six-week period of regular peaceful actions, 'The Great March of Return' leading up to May 15th, the day after Israeli Independence Day, celebrated as Nakba or Catastrophe Day by Palestinians who were expelled from their homes and land in 1948.
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Defend Afrin - Bring Anna Home

Oxford St, London. Sat 31 Mar 2018

A woman in a walking frame at the head of the protest on Oxford St
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People met in a street near Marble Arch to march to Parliament Square demanding an end to the invasion of Afrin by Turkish forces and al Qaeda-affiliated militias which aim to destroy a peaceful state and eliminate the majority Kurdish population of the area.

The attack into north-west Syria is a clear violation of international law, and air strikes have deliberately targeted civilian areas. Turkey has NATO's second largest army and its weaponry comes mainly from European countries including the UK, who recently signed a major arms deal. Turkish president Erdogan has stated he intends to invade all the Kurdish areas of Syria and "cleanse" the area of its Kurdish people.

The British government has expressed support for Turkey, claiming it has a right to defend its borders, despite its attack being outside them and the announced intention to push on to distant areas in Syria.

The protest called for an end to the invasion of Syria with an immediate ceasefire to enable the body of YPJ volunteer Anna Campbell to be returned to her family in Sussex, an end to all arms sales, to Turkey and other anti-human regimes in the Middle East, for humanitarian relief for Afrin and other areas of Syria and for an investigation into human rights abuses and war crimes in Afrin.
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BMXLife Charity Bunny Hop

Oxford St, London. Sat 31 Mar 2018

BMXLife ride for charity on Oxford St in an 8 mile 'Bunny Hop' ride around London
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A large group of BMX bike riders dressed as Easter Bunnies taking part in the 4th Bunny Hop ride-out in London by BMXLife to the streets to raise money for children staying at Evelina London Children’s Hospital passed me as I was walking along Oxford St and I took a few pictures.

BMXLife began after young Tommy Wright suffered a near fatal heart attack, and his family wanted to give something back after the support they had received at Evelina London Children’s Hospital. They have since raised over £60,000 for the register charity Evelina Children's Heart Organisation ECHO.
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Land Day protest against supporters of Israeli state

Oxford St, London. Sat 31 Mar 2018

A protester takes a selfie at they protest against Adidas supporting Israel
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A rolling protest along Oxford St showed solidarity with Gaza and the Land Day protests there where 17 unarmed Palestinian civilians were shot dead by Israeli forces yesterday.

The protesters called on shoppers to boycott stores with business links with Apartheid Israel. Land Day commemorates the 1976 protests by Palestinians against the confiscation of Palestinian land by the Israeli state. Those shot yesterday were taking part in largely peaceful protests for the 'Great March of Return' which is continuing until Nakba Day on May 15th, the anniversary of the expulsion of Palestinians from their homes and villages in 1948.

The protesters met up outside the Oxford St Marks & Spencer where regular protests have been held for many years, handing out leaflets and collecting signatures for a petition, and then left to walk along Oxford St, stopping for short protests outside other businesses which sell Israeli goods, calling for shoppers to boycott them. While I was with them they also protested outside Selfridges, which sells Israeli wines, Adidas which supports the Israel football team, Boots which sells cosmetics made in Israel and Carphone Warehouse.
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Staines Good Friday Procession

Staines, Middx. Fri 30 Mar 2018

Bad weather meant the High St was rather less busy than usual
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As in previous years, Staines Council of Churches held a Good Friday procession of witness, marching from the Methodist Church behind a Salvation Army Band through the market in the High St to the Two Rivers retail park, where they held a service and gave out hot cross buns with an Easter message to shoppers, inviting them to take part and come back to the church at the end of the event for tea and coffee and to find out more.

The service included hymns, songs, prayers, readings and an address about Christ's passion and resurrection with contributions from leaders of many Staines Christian groups. Bad weather, with some heavier showers of rain meant that the band had to move to shelter under the covered area in front of the shops and probably explained the lower attendance at the event.


Shut Down Yarl's Wood

Yarl's Wood, Bedford, UK. Sat 24 Mar 2018

A woman sits at a window of the prison holding a poster 'Release Torture Victims Shame' and a pink bra
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Movement for Justice held their 13th protest at Yarl's Wood Immigration Removal Centre, calling for all immigration detention centres to be closed down, with other groups including Sisters Uncut for the first time separately organising for the protest following revelations about the mistreatment of former MfJ activists.

Hundreds of anti-racists came from across the country to show their solidarity with the women held inside, making a huge noise kicking on the fence, shouting slogans and with speeches, mainly by former detainees from Yarl's Wood and elsewhere, on the MfJ's powerful public address system. Speaking from a step-ladder next to the tall fence they were able to be seen as well as heard by the women who crowded around windows facing the protest.

The other groups mainly protested separately a little further along the fence. The protesters could also clearly hear the voices of the women as they shouted together with them, and a several spoke from inside over phone links as well as holding posters calling for freedom and justice to their windows and waving clothing, mainly bras; some of the protesters waved bras back to them.

MfJ have a record since around 2014 of organising many protests at detention centres including this and elsewhere, and and of working with detainees inside them and after their release, preventing deportations etc, and clearly have earned and retain the support of many former detainees. They have put countless hours into leading the fight to get detention centres closed, and to stop deportations as well as considerable expense. It has been a fight that has been a consequence of their clearly stated political position, consistent with their other actions since I first met them in the late 1990s in Brixton and Tottenham.

It's good to see that more other groups are getting organised, however regrettable the incident that prompted this. I hope it will lead to more and bigger protests in the future, including some on other occasions to those organised by MfJ.
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Cleaners protest at Royal Opera House

Royal Opera House, London. Wed 21 Mar 2018

Royal Opera House security help a CAIWU protester out of the foyer
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Cleaners union CAIWU held another of their series of protests at the Royal Opera House following the dismissal of five workers and a final warning to a sixth, victimised because of their trade union activities.

The cleaners briefly protested in the foyer and then stood on the pavement outside handing out leaflets and making a continuous loud noise for around half an hour as people entered for tonight's opera.

The six, all members of the CAIWU, were sacked or warned over minor timekeeping misdemeanours despite long records of loyal service at the Royal Opera House by cleaning service provider Kier who have a record of blacklisting trade unionists. The dismissals occurred a month after the union members had been active in a successful campaign to get the workers the London Living Wage.

Since an earlier protest on March 8th, the CAIWU have held daily evening protests since March 15th, at the first of which union organiser Alberto Durango was assaulted by an opera-goer arriving for a performance. The union intends to continue these daily protests at least until the end of the month.
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Support for Yarls Wood strikers

Home Office, London. Wed 21 Mar 2018

Protesters call for all immigration detention centres to be closed
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A protest at the Home Office supports the Yarl's Wood strikers who today announced they were ending the hunger strike they began a month ago, refusing food, refusing to work, and refusing to use services inside detention.

They demand an end to indefinite detention and a return to the original plan for a 28 day limit, respect by the Home Office for human rights conventions and due process, including an end to deporting people while their cases are still being decided, for the authorities to introduce a fair bail process and the disclosure of all evidence to immigration tribunal courts.

They want proper health care in detention and an end to menial work paid at £1 per hour as well as an end to the detaining of vulnerable people including victims of rape, torture, the disabled and the mentally ill. They call for an end to deportation by charter flights and an amnesty for those who have lived in the UK for over 10 years.

The protest was organised by Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants, Detained Voices, East End Sisters Uncut, The London Latinxs, NELMA North East London Migrant Action, Right to Remain, BLMUK Black Lives Matter UK, End Deportations and SOAS Detainee Support and supported by others, with several women form the All African Women's Group speaking about their terrible treatment in Yarl's Wood.

There were also protests today supporting the Yarls Wood strikers in Manchester, Leeds, Liverpool, Bristol and Glasgow.
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Alfie's Army at Downing St

Downing St, London. Tue 20th Mar 2018

Alfie's army support Bootle infant with a degenerative neurological condition
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A small group from 'Alfie's army' protested opposite Downing St after the High Court ruled that Alder Hey Childrens’ Hospital can remove his life support.

Later the Supreme Court refused to consider the case. The hospital say they have made every effort to investigate and find a way to treat Alfie. Because Alder Hey is a specialist centre we have good links with other centres and, including contacting the experts in Rome and others who Alfie's family say should be allowed to treat him, and "all are unanimous in their agreement that Alfie’s condition is irreversible and untreatable."
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British Museum Carillion staff

British Museum, London. Tue 20th Mar 2018

Candy Udwin from the National Gallery was one of the organisers of the protest

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Staff at the British Museum whose jobs were privatised despite union oppositions and became Carillion employees and have been left in limbo after the collapse of the company protested.

They say that so far the management of the British Museum has refused to talk with their unions, the PCS and Unite. They want the management to bring the staff back into direct employment and protect their jobs, pensions and terms and conditions.

Speakers at the protest included PCS General Secretary Mark Serwotka, Clara Paillard, President of PCS Culture Group and Zita Holbourne. Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell MP had intended to be there but had to attend a privy council briefing and sent a long message which was read out. There were also speakers from successful campaigns at SOAS and the LSE to have workers there brought back in house, as well as support from other trade union groups.

After a rally outside the museum main gate, the protesters marched around the block, protesting outside the management offices and the rear entrance before returning to the main gate to end the protest.
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Staines & Shortwood Common

Staines, Middx. Sun 18 Mar 2018

There was a little snow still on the common
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I was persuaded to go for a short walk in the late afternoon.

Unfortunately the South West Railway has closed the crossing across the railway we used to use to go from one part of Shortwood Common to the rest and we had to go a longer way round, crossing the railway at the footbridge by the station. The lane leading to the crossing is a public right of way, but the crossing was not registered as such and the railway appear to have been able to close it on a whim.

It would have been relatively simple to provide an alternative route, as the track leads on under the bypass, and steps up could lead to the footpath on the east side of this and over the railway. Steps down could then lead to the lane on the opposite side of the railway. Instead to get to the other side involves a detour of 1.5km.

Of course few people want to travel between those two points, but some journeys will be lengthened by a considerable amount. I used to occasionally use the crossing on my way to work mainly because it led to a nice path to Ashford.

There was a decent covering of snow on the common, thin in some areas but several inches in others. Walking was a little tricky in parts as the ground under the snow wasn't frozen but a little muddy in places.

We walked up beside the pond towards the London Rd and then across to a stile quite close to the corner taking us onto the path by the London Rd. Then along to the footbridge across Staines Road West, the first section of the by-pass to be built, opened a few years before the rest. When it ended here at the Crooked Billet roundabout it was something of an anti-bypass, bringing more traffic to the desperately overcrowded Staines High St.
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March Against Racism

BBC to Whitehall, London. Sat 17 Mar 2018

'Never Again! No to the Nazis' placard held by a 'Love Music hate Racism supporter
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Over five thousand turned up to march through London on the March against Racism on UN Anti Racism Day despite apocalyptic weather forecasts, an amber weather warning, a temperature around zero with the occasional snowflake and a chilling east wind.

The march hosted by Stand Up to Racism began with speeches outside the BBC on Portland Place and ended with a rally in Whitehall, where angry Kurds protested in front of Downing St calling for the government to take action against Turkey to stop its invasion of Afrin.

Many went home or found somewhere warmer at this point, and the crowd staying to listen to the speeches in Whitehall was considerably smaller than the march. And I left after just a few of the speeches as it was really too cold to stand around in the open air, and missed most of the main speakers.
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University teachers march for pensions

Bloomsbury to Westminster, London. Wed 14 Mar 2018

Jeremy Bentham, one of the founders of UCL - his body is still in a cupboard there
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Several thousand striking London Region UCU members and supporters, including many students, march through London to a rally in support of their continuing strike against the attempt by the universities to abandon the USS pension scheme which many have been contributing to for years and move to a highly inferior scheme.

They call the calculations that are behind the employers' move because of a pension deficit 'bullshit' and reject the need for the change. The strike has brought the two sides to talks with a fresh proposal from the employers but this was rejected by the union yesterday and the strike continues.

Lecturers see the pensions move as a part of the continuing monetisation of education and want to end the reliance by the universities on cheap labour from part-time workers, graduate student and others on zero hours contracts.
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Kurds protest Turkish Invasion of Afrin

Parliament Square, London. Wed 14 Mar 2018

Women sit with dolls, some wrapped in cloths and hold pictures of those killed and wounded
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Kurds continue their protests in London trying to get the UK and other western countries to take action to stop the Turkish invasion of Afrin, a Kurdish area of Syria on the Turkish border.

They came to Parliament Square and blocked the roadway for several hours before police persuaded them to move back onto the pavement where they continued to protest for some hours.

Turkish forces, aided by Russian air support and the Free Syrian Army which includes many former ISIS and al-Qaeda fighters are attempting to eliminate the Kurdish population in the area, claiming that they are all terrorists. The Kurdish forces played the major role in the defeat of ISIS which was supported by Turkey but are now being attacked by far better equipped forces with weapons supplied to Turkey as a member of NATO and Russian warplanes and weapons.

The attacks have been targeted on civilians areas with several hundred civilian deaths and many more casualties, but despite many accounts, reports and videos of the continuing genocide it has been largely ignored by Western media and governments. The Syrian regime has protested against the incursion on its territory but appears to have done nothing to oppose it, and the US have done nothing either, abandoning the Kurds who had been their allies against ISIS.
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Chiswick House Gardens

Chiswick, LB Hounslow. Mon 12 Mar 2018

Amphitheatre, Obelisk and Ionic Temple, Chiswick House Gardens
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A family outing on a wet Monday to Chiswick House Gardens and the exhibition in the glass house there of camellias.

I wouldn't go very far at all to see a show of camellias, but others in our group were keener, and at least the conservatory was out of the rain which was coming down pretty steadily. Had it been a nicer day, the small car park might have been full and we could have had to queue in the cafe, so there were some compensations.

I probably first went to these gardens sixty or more years ago. My father was a keen gardener (and looked after the fine gardens of a Mr Miller in Hounslow a few hours a week) and family outings were often to Kew, but I think also at least once or twice to Chiswick House which had become a public park in 1929 - and entry to the park was free. The whole place was then rather run down, and the Grade 1 listed conservatory which houses the ancient camellias was in poor shape, though perhaps more picturesque for this. Fortunately camellias don't really need a greenhouse to flourish.

Back then we all thought the conservatory had been built by Joseph Paxton, but it actually predated his time here, and it probably provided the inspiration for the hot-house he built at Chatsworth after having been poached by the Duke of Devonshire, and later the Crystal Palace. It's certainly a large greenhouse, but hardly deserves its listing as it has been rebuilt several times over the years, most recently in this century. Though the latest was doubtless a careful reconstruction, the earlier rebuilds were almost certainly rather less sympathetic.

More recently, back in the 1980s and 1990s this was a park we used to bring photography students to, letting them loose around the extensive and picturesque grounds - where Bill Brandt had made a fine image or two and, perhaps of more interest to them, the Beatles had been filmed for one of the early music videos.

The students, mainly 16-18 year olds but with a few more mature, were set loose with firm instructions to go back to nearby Chiswick station for a particular train, on on one occasion two failed to turn up. The rest of the group set off with a member of staff and I waited half an hour for the next train, finally giving up and returning to college, where there was still no sign of them. Parents were phoned and we hung around waiting, before finally I gave up and went home. The following day we found that they had been running to get the train and were stopped by police, who then held them for several hours, refusing to let them contact anyone - parents or college and failing to check their story with the college. There were firm complaints about the police behaviour, but as usual with no result.

Having seen the flowers we had lunch in the cafe. I can't recommend it, though the coffee was OK. Almost any pub lunch would have been preferable, then Linda and I did a quick trot around the deservedly Grade I listed grounds in the rain on the way back to the car park.
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Don't Bomb Syria

Downing St, London. Sun 11 Mar 2018

A small group of Syrians with posters opposite Downing St
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A small group of Syrians protested opposite Downing St calling on Theresa May to take actions to stop the bloodshed and killing of children in Syria.
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Remember Fukushima, 7th Anniversary

Japanese Embassy to Parliament, London. Sun 11 Mar 2018

Waiting outside the Japanese Embassy for the start of the march
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A march from the Japanese embassy to a rally outside Parliament organised by Kick Nuclear (London) and Japanese Against Nuclear London with the support of CND remembered the victims of the continuing Fukushima disaster and all victims of nuclear power and nuclear bombs.

It was on the seventh anniversary of the nuclear disaster, the radiation from which is still escaping; between 100-650 people are expected to die from long term cancers caused by the immediate radioactivity leak and many more from the continuing release.

The march stopped briefly outside the Lower Regent St offices of Lockheed Martin, one of the companies which manufactures nuclear weapons and then went on to Old Palace Yard, opposite the Houses of Parliament where they held a rally.

Speakers condemned the continuing nuclear power programme which has always been closely linked with the production of nuclear weapons and, never an economically viable method of power production, has now been rendered entirely obsolete by improved renewable energy sources. As well as speeches, there were musical performances and a poet read one of her poems about Fukushima. I had to leave before the rally concluded with a die-in.
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London March for Freedom for Tibet

Downing St, London. Sat 10 Mar 2018
Tibetans and supporters prepare to march at Downing St
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The annual Tibet freedom march in London commemorating the 59th anniversary of the Tibetan National Uprising, with around a thousand people, including many Tibetans and supporters gathering at Downing St before marching to a protest at the Chinese Embassy.

Before the march left there was a minute of silence for those who have died, including by self-immolation, and a long Tibetan prayer, followed by the singing of the Tibetan National Anthem.
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Against attacks on Afrin

Parliament Square, London. Sat 10 Mar 2018

People with Kurdistan flags and posters
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A row of people across the front of Parliament Square hold posters about the continuing Turkish siege of Afrin, where the local authority reports that 220 civilians have been killed and 600 injured.

The Turkish forces have taken advantage of the media concentrating on Eastern Ghouta and largely ignoring what is happening in the Kurdish area of northern Syria, where up to a million civilians are coming under attack.

Turkish forces are augmented by hard line Islamic extremists from the Free Syrian Army, many of whom fought with ISIS and al-Qaeda and are determined to have revenge on the PKK Kurdish forces which were largely responsible for their defeat.
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Sri Lankans protest Buddhist mob violence

Downing St, London. Sat 10 Mar 2018

Women on the march to the Sri Lankan Embassy
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Sri Lankan Tamils gathered for a rally at Downing St to protest against the continuing violence by Buddhist mobs in Muslim neighbourhoods around Kandy which have destroyed shops and restaurants despite the state of emergency declared last Tuesday with a curfew and the deployment of soldiers to towns in the troubled area.

In similar violence last month a mosque was destroyed. The government has also closed down social media websites which they say were used to organise the violence. The majority Sinhalese population is predominantly Buddhist while the minority Tamils include Hindus, Muslims and Christians.

As protesters left to march to the Sri Lankan High Commission there were some arguments as some men tried to force women protesters to the back of the march, but were met with some defiance. They were held back while some men with banners went to the front of the march, but soon joined it.
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Protest forcible religious conversions

Parliament Square, London. Sat 10 Mar 2018
People dressed in black wear head bands 'Free Our Faith'
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People stood in rows in Parliament Square for a protest by members of many faiths calling for religious freedom and against Coercive Conversion Programmes which attempt to forcefully change an person's belief through psychological intimidation, verbal and physical abuse.

This was a one of a number of protests around the world called by the South Korean based NGO The Association of Victims of Coercive Conversion Programmes (AVCCP) which raises awareness of human rights abuses caused by religious conflicts after the death of a Korean girl, Jo In Gu, allegedly suffocated by her parents for refusing to take part in a religious conversion programme.
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Million Women Rise

Oxford St, London. Sat 10 Mar 2018

Latin-Americans in Orchard St where the march gathered
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Women march through London against male violence against women, part of the Million Women Rise movement against the global pandemic of male violence against women.

Many carried feminist placards and there were groups from various women's organisations around the country, including from various ethnic communities. They were marching along Oxford St to a rally in Trafalgar Square.
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Unilever & Myanmar's Rohingya genocide

Unilever House, , London. Thu 8 Mar 2018

Unilever told their investments in Myanmar are supporting rape and genocide of Rohingya
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A protest on International Women's Day at Unilever House called on Unilever to disinvest from Myanmar where they have a $667 million investment as the military government there are committing systematic rape and other torture with total impunity as part of their genocide against the Rohingya people.

Unilever claims to to embody principles that respect the dignity and rights of women and girls, especially in their marketing of Dove products and as 'Impact Champion' appointed by UN Women, and a company which makes the claims that "UNILEVER aims to improve safety for women and girls in the communities where they operate."

The protest was organised by Global Women's Strike in support of the call by Sisters of Rohingya for Unilever to divest from Myanmar.
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Reinstate the Royal Opera House 6

Royal Opera, Covent Garden, London. Thu 8 Mar 2018

CAIWU members outside Covent Garden Royal Opera House
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Cleaners from CAIWU were supported by a a large crowd from the London Womens's Strike in a protest outside the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden against the victimisation of cleaners working there for taking part in trade union activities.

In January, actions by Independent Workers Union - CAIWU (members were successful in getting the cleaning service provider Kier to pay its workers the London Living Wage. Only a month later, Kier, a company who have a record of blacklisting trade unionists, fired four cleaners and porters from their jobs for minor timekeeping misdemeanours. Another is being disciplined and a sixth is on a final written warning. All are CAIWU members and are clearly being victimised for having taken part in the successful campaign at the Royal Opera House.

The protest was so large that it blocked Drury Lane for some time before returning to Covent Garden Market. Police came and talked briefly with both the protesters and those inside the Royal Opera House, then came out, removed all the posters and fliers from the police car, got in and drove away.

The campaign against victimisation is continuing with a whole series of protests scheduled for later in the month at times when customers will be going in to performances there.
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Solidarity with Yarl's Wood hunger strikers

Home Office, London. Thu 8 Mar 2018
A group from Manchester at the London protest with a Shut Down Yarl's Wood banner
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Protesters come to the Home Office to show solidarity with those held in Yarl's Wood on International Women's Day, and in particular with those who began a hunger strike 15 days ago against their imprisonment and the conditions and treatment by the detention centre staff and the Home Office.

Since then this has gathered momentum and escalated into an all-out strike: work strikes, occupations, and a general refusal to co-operate, and long lists of the detainees demands have been published by Detained Voices.

So far the Home Office has issued denials that the action is taking place and has sent those taking part letters threatening them with accelerated deportation because of their actions. The protesters call for an end to all immigration detention. Hundreds of people including some at this protest were fasting today for International Women's Day in solidarity with those inside Yarl's Wood.
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London Women's Strike

Russell Square, London. Thu 8 Mar 2018

A woman holds red roses and a poster about smashing the patriarchy
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Over a thousand people, mainly women, are at the London Women's Strike in Russell Square on International Women’s Day.

There were a series of speeches, singing and events to mark the day of strike by women, refusing to do work either paid or unpaid, including housework and domestic work. The organisers say the "Women's Strike is a strike for solidarity between women - women of colour, indigenous, working class, disabled, migrant, Muslim, lesbian, queer and trans women" and "is about realising the power we already hold - activating and nourishing resistance."

Here is a part of one of their statements:

• For every woman who is sick to death of being sexually harassed and bullied at work.
• For every woman who is hungry and unable to heat her house.
• For every woman suffering because of benefit cuts or poverty wages.
• For every woman who is expected to earn less than her male colleagues and then come home and start a second shift of cooking, cleaning and caring.
• For every woman who is kept powerless by whore stigma.
• For every woman of transgender experience who is subject to violence and whose womanhood is denied by the state, her doctor, her employers, and those around her.
• For every woman who is told she is just going through a phase, that she's too pretty to be a lesbian or too ugly to be straight and has endured homophobia, biophobia or queerphobia at home, at work and in the street.
• For every woman who has worked herself to the bone to keep the national health and education systems functioning and yet has not received a pay rise in years.
• For every woman who has suffered violence at the hands of partners, friends, colleagues or bosses and is not believed.
• For every woman who faces violence at the hands of the state through immigration raids, mass incarceration and racist policing.

Groups of those on strike took part in a number of events elsewhere, including several protests in support of cleaners at the TopShop and The Royal Opera in Covent Garden, and cinema workers at Picturehouse, calling for an end to immigration detention an in solidarity with the Yarl's Wood hunger strikers, for Unilever to withdraw its investment in Myanmar where its presence supports a government that has brutally raped, tortured and killed many Rohingya, and supporting sex workers by calling for the decriminalisation of prostitution.
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Family Courts put on Trial

Old Palace Yard, London. Thu 8 Mar 2018
A finger points at one of the two judges the protesters say are stealing children from families
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Global Women's Strike mock trial of the Family Courts in an International Women’s Day protest in front of Parliament. Speakers included mothers who have had children unjustly removed and others who read out their statements as well as the shocking comments made in court by judges as well as those from groups which assist women to try and keep their children or who have had children taken without good cause.

The UK has the highest rate of adoptions in Europe, almost all without consent of their birth family. In some working class areas, 50% of children are referred to social services and that families of colour, immigrant and disabled are all disproportionately affected.

They say that poverty, often a result of benefit cuts and sanctions, and lack of proper housing is often mistaken for neglect and that instead of help being provided as the 1989 Childrens Act instructed, children are taken into care and then put up for adoption when they have mothers or grandmothers who are capable of good parenting and only need support.

Victims of domestic abuse are often accused of 'failing to protect' their children and vague charges such as putting children at risk of future emotional harm and neglect are used by the secret courts to remove children from mothers and grandmothers.

The campaigners want hearings with proper public scrutiny, an end to the gagging of mothers and families, the greater use of kinship carers (only 9% of looked after children are placed with these in the UK, compared to almost half in Spain) and the proper implementation of the 1989 Children Act, and the Care Act 2014 which entitles disabled mothers to extra help.
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Shut Guantanamo at new US Embassy

US Embassy, Nine Elms, London. Thu 8 Mar 2018
London Guantanamo campaigners in front of the new US Embassy
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The London Guantánamo Campaign held the first of their monthly protests outside the US Embassy calling for the US prison camp to be shut down and the remaining 41 prisoners to be released.

They have protested at the Grosvenor Square US embassy every month since 2007 and will continue outside the new embassy until the illegal and immoral camp is closed down. They say that with President Trump's plans to keep Guantanamo open and possibly send more people there it is important to continue to stand against this shameful injustice. There is no evidence against most of those held and tortured there which would stand up in a court of law, and some were simply foreigners in the region seized by merely to gain cash rewards from the US forces.

The protests normally take place on the first Thursday of the month, but March's protest was postponed for a week because of last week's snow. This meant that some regular protesters were unable to attend, and the protest started a little later than usual as some had problems finding the new location. I had to leave after a few minutes to photograph another event and more people may have turned up later. more pictures

Embassy Quarter

Nine Elms, London. Thu 8 Mar 2018

The US Embassy has a 'moat' water feature in front of it
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I walked from Vauxhall to the US Embassy for a protest, but was a few minutes early (or the protesters were late) so had time to take a few pictures of the embassy and its surrounds in what estate agents call the Embassy Quarter.
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IWGB protest at Graduation Dinner

Chi swell St, London. Tue 6 Mar 2018

A woman holds a baking tray with the message 'No To Outsourcing - Keep Us In
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Outsourced workers, including cleaners, security officers, receptionists, porters and gardeners who keep the university running smoothly protested noisily outside University of London Vice Chancellor Sir Adrian Smith's graduation dinner, calling on the university to employ them directly, for an end to zero hours contracts and to implement promised pay rises.

Currently they are employed by contractors under worse holiday entitlements, sick pay, pensions and paternal leave than university employees, and are often subjected to discrimination, bullying and unfair deduction of wages.

The university management has repeatedly refused discussions with the workers and their trade union, the IWGB, who are this week balloting for further strike action after months of campaigning.

The workers and supported marched from Barbican station to the dinner venue and watched by police and security staff as they held a noisy protest and handed out flyers to those attending the dinner.
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More Staines

Staines, Middx. Sun 4 Mar 2018

Former gravel pit, Church Lammas, Staines
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It was late afternoon when we set out for a walk - I'd been working at the computer all day and needed some fresh air and a little exercise.

We walked down to the Thames and then along what used to be the tow path upstream to the Lammas Park. From 1812 to 1885 there were bitter and sometimes violent battles over the enclosures of common land around Staines, and particular resentment when John Ashby (whose family owned among other things Staines' leading brewery) bought and enclosed this area. The resentment didn't go away, even when the area was donated as a park to the town in 1922, and although officially then called the Ashby Recreation Ground, locals refused to use that name, and 71 years later the local council capitulated and changed it back to The Lammas. Hopefully it won't take quite so long for the council to change the official name of the town back to Staines, from the asinine Staines-upon-Thames.

Walking through the Lammas we crossed the road to another area of the Lammas fields now called Church Lammas Lakes, as the fields were dug up for gravel in the 1980s and 90s. Rather than restoring them to fields the pits were left and at fairly minimal expense (a couple of gates, a few paths and benches) turned into a nature reserve open to the public. The borough has far too many such former gravel pits - and of course also large areas of water in a number of reservoirs.

At the west of the site is a small ditch, the COunty Ditch, which forms the boundary of Middlesex - and now of the Borough of Spelthorne, and we walked by its side t the northwest corner of the reserve by the Staines Aqueduct, where we turned east to go to a footpath leading over the aqueduct and then under the bypass and across a field to Moor Lane, turning south on that to come back under the bypass and over the aqueduct again, then taking a footpath that leads to Vicarage Lane and on to Church St, returning to the towpath by Bridge St to make our way home. By that time is was getting seriously dark.
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No More Deaths On Our Streets

London. Sat 3 Mar 2018

Police stop the march briefly close to Piccadilly Circus
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Supporters from March With The Homeless - #solidaritynotcharity, Streets Kitchen, Homeless Outreach Central, and London: March for the homeless gathered at Downing St after rough sleepers have died on the streets of London in the recent cold snap to say enough is enough - no more deaths on our streets.

After blocking Whitehall for a short time they marched along the Strand and through Covent Garden before making their way towards Piccadilly Circus and then on to the squatted Sofia House which is offering shelter and food to the London's street homeless.

Police made several attempts to stop their march with a small force of officers including two poorly controlled horses who endangered the public on some of the crowded West End streets. They kept trying to stop the march going where it intended and making it go back to Downing St, but there were not enough of them to stop people simply walking around their various cordons.

Eventually at the top of Haymarket the police appeared to come to some agreement with the marchers that would allow them to proceed, and I left for home

Protesters blame the government for failing in its duty to provide social housing and to look after its citizens, and that government cuts in benefits and money for welfare services are killing people who are poor, disabled or suffering from mental health conditions. They say the authorities should take over some of the many empty properties to house the homeless - there are around ten times as many empty homes in the UK as there are homeless families.

There are also many large empty commercial properties like the one that some of those on the march have squatted in Great Portland St and made into a temporary refuge. Without people making initiatives such as these and the work of groups like Streets Kitchen feeding the homeless many more would have died, particularly in the cold nights and snow of the past week. The squat provided food and overnight shelter for around 30 people on the night of the march.
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London Images

March 2018

South Bank from Waterloo Bridge
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Taken on my travels around London on buses and trains and occasionally on foot.

Includes pictures from Westminster, Holborn, New Malden, Vauxhall, Hyde Park Corner, Smithfield and more.

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