my london diary index


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All pictures Copyright © Peter Marshall 2018, all rights reserved.
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Stop the Massacres in Syria

Russian Embassy, London. Sat 13 Jan 2018

A woman makes an impassioned speech calling on the Russians to stop bombing civilians in Syria
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Protesters opposite the Russian Consulate called for an end to the massacres taking place now in Syria.

Russia and Assad's forces are bombing civilians in Idlib, Hama and Eastern Ghouta, specifically targetting medical workers and facilities, with 8 hospitals in Idlib bombed since the start of December.

Around a half of those still in Idlib are civilians previously displaced from other areas by attacks by Assad and his allies Russia and Iran. The protesters called on Russia to stop the bombing and end the sieges of these areas and to make serous attempts to make the peace talks succeed rather than use them as a pretext to prevent any intervention while they complete the destruction of all groups opposed to the Assad regime and bomb or starve to death the civilian population in areas held by opposition forces.
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Free Ahed Tamimi & all child prisoners

US Embassy, London. Sat 13 Jan 2018

Protesters at the front of the embassy call for Ahed and all child prisoners to be released
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Protesters at the US Embassy in Grosvenor Square call for the release of all child prisoners held in Israeli jails, including Ahed Tamimi, held for slapping an Israeli soldier who came into her family's garden shortly after she had learnt that a relative had been shot by Israeli forces. She is one of the thousands of Palestinian children have been detained by Israel, since 2000 in a systematic policy which the UN has said includes abuse and ill-treatment.

Among those leading the protest was Nana Hourriyah, a cousin of Bassem Tamimi, who is Ahed's father, and there were others present with family links to Palestine and who had spent time in the country. One of the speakers was Robert Inlakesh who had returned recently from three months spent there staying with Palestinian families, and who was deported by the Israeli authorities for having taken part in a peaceful demonstration. He had stayed with the family of another child prisoner, Abdul Khalik, before his arrest and knew him well.

In the over an hour I was with the protest there was a single counter-protester in a pen at the end of the street waving an Israel flag and shouting that everything the protesters were saying was lies. A few of them went up and shouted back at him, some telling him that if like them they had been there then he would know what was happening rather than parroting the Zionist lies. After I left a second counter-protester arrived with a Saudi flag, joining the man with the Israeli flag in what Inlakesh called "the Terrorist Coalition".

Israel is an apartheid state, with very different laws and police treatment for Palestinians in the West Bank who are subject to Israeli military law and dealt with in military courts which offer little or no chance of justice.
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Guantanamo Vigil Marks 16 years

US Embassy, Grosvenor Sq, London. Thu 11 Jan 2018

It proved very difficult to get all of the roughly 90 candles burning brightly at the same time
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A Candlelight vigil outside the US Embassy marked the 16th anniversary of the illegal torture camp at Guantanamo bay where 41 prisoners are still held. Most are being held indefinitely without charge or trial and have permanent injuries from torture that would make their release embarrassing to the US (and possibly UK) authorities.

Protesters lit candles in front of the embassy fence spelling out 'GITMO' and then stood holding candles and large photographs of the 41 remaining detainees, most showing them more than ten years ago at the start of their illegal detention. The vigil called for the immediate closure of Guantanamo and for freedom for the detainees.
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Close Guantanmo - 16years

Trafalgar Square, London. Thu 11 Jan 2018

The protesters stood in the cold light rain for two hours
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Protesters in orange jump suits and black hoods stand in a squarefor a two hour vigil at Trafalgar Square marking 16 years of the illegal detention and torture camp at Guantanamo Bay.

The names of the 41 remaining detainees were read out, many held indefinitely without charge or trial, almost all who were sold to the US by Afghan militias and the Pakistani military for cash bounties with no real evidence of terrorist involvement, but whose torture in CIA secret prisons across the world before arrival at Guantanamo as while as throughout their detention there makes their release too embarrassing to US authorities.

THere were also a number of speeches, including one outlining the previous history of the US in running similar illegal detention schemes at Guantanamo, an area of Cuba it continues to occupy under an agreement reached over a hundred years ago and now longer recognised by the Cuban government following the Cuban revolution, who have refused to accept the annual cheque for $4,085 sent by the US authorities since 1959.

The US has long been in default of the 1901 agreement which stated that the base at Guantanamo Bay was only to be used as a coaling station to refuel Navy ships. But their immense shame around the world because of Guantanamo is not over their breaking of the agreement, but for the illegality and torture that have taken place at the camp there, chosen for the purpose precisely because the US Justice Department had advised the Pentagon that it was ideal as it was outside the reach of US law and it was unlikely US courts would grant detainees there habeas corpus rights.
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Capital Ring

Wimbledon Park to Richmond, London. Mon 1 Jan 2018

Almost the end - Richmond Bridge
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As often, we began the year with a walk, though this time there were only the two of us.

With the days still around their shortest we decided on a short walk - though long enough to make my legs feel the pain, a section of the Capital Ring from Wimbledon Park to Richmond. Though we've only ever done a few little bits of the Capital Ring, mainly walking together further out from Central London, almost all of this was familiar ground - and we had made a very similar walk from Putney Heath only a few years ago - with a larger family group.

That time we had enjoyed a dusting of snow, but today we got some light rain and drizzle, and many of the paths were rather muddy and slippery, particulalry coming down the hill from Richmond Park to Petersham, where Linda lost her footing. At least by that time the drizzle had stopped and the sun had come out.
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