Tamils March Against Sri Lankan Genocide
Westminster, London. Saturday 31 Jan, 2009
The Sri Lankan Army is killing women and children in
its attacks in Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka is another of our colonial cockups. In the nineteenth century we
decided it was handier to treat the two ancient kingdoms of Ceylon as a single
unit, combining the Tamils and the Sinhalese areas, and when we gave the island
of Ceylon independence in 1948 failed to realise the problems this would cause.
Buddhist Sinhalese make up 70% of the island's population, and this gave
them control of the parliament we set up, without proper safeguards for the
30% largely Hindu Tamil minority. From the start the Tamils were discriminated
against, with more than a million being made stateless, and the Sinhalese
began in various ways to dominate. Tamil language and culture was marginalised
and most Tamils were removed from the civil service as they were not fluent
The government encouraged riots by Buddhist Sinhalese against the Tamils
and many were killed, and this was followed over the years by many massacres,
some carried out by government forces. Land reforms took land away from many
Tamils in some areas of the country, forcing them to move. The position of
the Tamils was made clear when the government declared the country to be a
Buddhist republic, giving it the name Sri Lanka.
Various Tamil liberation movements opposed the government and much of the
Tamil area became essentially self-governing, leading to what became essentially
a civil war between the government and the Tamil Tigers - and the government
even managed to get the Indian army to come and fight on their side for a
while. Various international attempts have been made over the past decade
to broker peace, particularly by Norway, but all have failed and the Sri Lankan
Army and Air Force have continued to attack Tamil regions, causing most of
the population to flee from the cities into the jungle. Many civilians have
been killed by the air attacks, and there has been a systematic killings of
politicians, journalists, human rights activists and aid workers.
Many Tamils have fled the country, and about 2-300,000 are now resident in
the UK. Perhaps of third of them were in London for the demonstration, which
while I was there was slowing making its way - and a great deal of noise -
along the agreed route past the Houses of Parliament, calling for the UK government
take action and for the media to give the genocide in Sri Lanka the attention
it deserves. After I had gone a number of the marchers staged a sit-in on
Westminster Bridge, closing it for several hours.
It was noticeable that there were few if any photographers from the daily
press covering the event, and I saw no UK TV crews. There was no mention of
what was almost certainly the largest UK demonstration since the anti-Iraq
war march of February 2003 on the BBC radio news or on its web site when I
looked late that evening. I wrote at more length about the situation in Sri
Lanka in Tamils March in London - BBC
Fails Again on >Re:PHOTO, as well as on Indymedia
and NowPublic, but there are more pictures on this site.
Gaza: Protest March from the BBC
Portland Place to Trafalgar Square, London. Sat 24 Jan 2009
George Galloway applauds a speaker at the rally in Portland
The march for Gaza was planned to start with a protest at Broadcasting House
and a rally in Portland Place to draw attention to the biased reporting of the
Israeli attack by the BBC. It called for an end to the blocade and arms sales
to Israel, for a free Palestine and for Israli war criminals to be brought to
The BBC bosses then scored a clear own goal, making their pro-Israel position
crystal clear to the nation by refusing to run the Disasters Emergency Committee
appeal for humanitarian relief for Gaza. The decision was widely seen as a
failure by the BBC to uphold its reputation for impartiality, despite more
than curious assertion that this was why they decided to turn down the request
by the major charities.
The event started with a press conference on the pavement outside Broadcasting
House, after which a deputation led by Tony Benn delivered a letter of protest
to the BBC. The we went a hundred yards or so up the road for a lengthy rally,
beofre starting the march past Broadcasting House to Trafalgar Square.
The Press Association reported this press conference as the demonstration,
giving a number of 400 people which has been widely reported - while there
were around 10,000 demonstrators (5000 according to the police.)
Some people had brought old shoes to throw, and others carried dolls or packages
swathed in white bandages and most of these were left on the roadway outside
broadcasting house. It was a peaceful demonstration although at the start
there was a bit of shoving by police to move demonstrators and photographers
away from Broadcasting House, and those throwing shoes took care to avoid
the police. Who were present in large numbers throoughout the event.
Later, close to Piccadilly Circus, a few people were taken away by police
to some of the many waiting vans, and the march halted for ten minutes or
so threatening to remain there unless arrests stopped. But soon it was on
its way again to Trafalgar Square for the final rally. It had originally been
planned to go there past Downing Street, but the route was changed before
the march started.
Three Mills Loop Walk
Bromley by Bow, Stratford etc, London. Sunday 18 Jan. 2009
Three Mills, Bromley by Bow
The Three Mills Loop Walk
is a monthly walk from Three Mills, on the Greenway through the centre of
the Olympic site to the Lea Navigation, then along the Hertford Union canal
before turning south and heading back for Bow. You can find more details on
line, and the group also organise other walks. It would make an excellent
introduction to the area for those who don't know it, and was a pleasant afternoon's
light exercise, and good for once to be walking with other people.
I first walked around here in the early 1980s, although things have changed
rather from those early days. You can see a few pictures from then on my
River Lea web site, along with more from the last ten years. Since work
began on the Olympic site I've been back most months to take pictures. There
are some more pictures of Three Mills here
and here - as well
as other pages on the site.
After the walk ended I took a few more pictures around the area, including
one of the works for the new lock on the Prescott channel, though I couldn't
yet see a great deal. Despite great hopes about how this was going to save
thousands of lorry journeys to and from the Olympic construction area, it
seems likely not to be used, and simply to be a white elephant - rather a
sorry start to the Olympic legacy.
Olympic site panorama
Stratford Marsh, Sunday 18 Jan 2009
Original image is about 10,000 pixels wide and a 68Mb fiie.
If you've not managed to see the Olympic site recently, here's a roughly
180 degree view - the wall at left is the same wass as at the right. There
were some fine clouds on Sunday, so it seemed an opportunity not to miss.
The full size version is rather too large to put on line but the link below
goes to a large enough version to view, along with a second slightly less
wide image taken from a few metres further on.
More pictures from the Three Mills Loop walk I was on shortly.
Tamils protest Sri Lankan Genocide
Downing St, London. Saturday 17 Jan, 2009
Tamils protest genocide and call for an independent
On the opposite site of Whitehall to Downing St while the demonstrators about
Gaza were delivering a letter there, another demonstration was taking place,
with a densely packed pen of several hundred Tamils.
The Tamils were there to draw attention to the continuing attacks on Tamil
civilians, schools, hospitals and churches by the Sri Lankan Army and Air
Force and to call for an independent Tamil state, Tamil Eelam, in Sri Lanka.
They accuse the Sri Lankan government of genocide, and claim that in the past
month alone over 300,000 Tamils have been forced to move out of their homes
by the bombardment.
The killing of Tamils has been mentioned on My London Diary on previous occasions,
with a five-day fast in Parliament
Square by Thaya Idaikkadar in June 2006 and the leafleting
by Tamils in Central London last October, but certainlyit has seldom made
an impression in the mainstream media, although I came home to find a double
page in today's newspaper following the killing of Lasantha Wickrematunge,
editor of Sri Lanka's The Sunday Leader and the publication of the
column he wrote in anticipation of his assassination.
Last October I wrote "International media are banned from the Tamil
areas of the country and NGOs have been ordered out of some areas, so there
are few reports of the war. The Tamils allege that over 100,000 Tamils have
been killed, over a million have fled the country and another half million
have fled their homes inside Sri Lanka - half of these in the last three months."
1000 Dead and Nothing Said – End the Slaughter
Trafalgar Square, London. 16 Jan 2009
A militant burns an Israeli flag in at the rally in Trafalgar Square.
Well over a thousand Palestinians have been killed in the past three weeks
by Israeli attacks on Gaza including some 300 children - and attacks have
included those on known UN installations where people were sheltering - with
a top UN official today calling for war crime investigation into the shellilng
of a school. In the same time around 13 Israelis have also died, four of them
killed by its own army.
So it was hardly surpising that Trafalgar Square was fairly full for today's
rally against the Israeli attacks, with perhaps 5-10,000 people - although
this was only a small fraction of the number at last week's national demonstration.
A few hours after the demonstration, news was released that Israel was to
announce a ceasefire on its own terms. Unfortunately we can be sure that these
terms will mean no justice for Palestine, welcome though what seems likely
to be a temporary respite in the killings may be.
I arrived just as - so often in the Square - Tony Benn was being announced
and rightly given a huge welcome. One of the greatest political figures of
the last 50 years, it's a national tragedy that while he has so often been
right on major issues, governments have seldom if ever followed his lead.
Most of those attending listened to all the speakers with respect and applauded
enthusiastically, though a small section of the crown attracted rather more
than its share of press atttention with its noisy animatio and gestures such
as burning Isrqaeli flags and teariong up placards carrying pictures og George
Bush (what will we do after Obama takes over next week?)
As well as a number of polictical sppeches from a wide range of speakers
there were two contributions that particularly moved me. One was a polished
speech by an 11 year old Palestine girl, now living in Manchester, and another
was the Palestinian singer Reem Kelani (who also grew up in Manchester) who
led the crowd in singing a Palestinian song, written in the 1930s but since
then appropriated by others that she wants to reclaim for Palestine.
On the stone steps behind the speakers were a group of children all dressed
in white robes marked with bloody red handprints, keeping our minds on the
children slaughtered in Gaza. After Kelani had sung, they came down from the
plinth and went with a deputation to take a letter from the rally to Downing
St, calling for an immediate ceasefire and reparations for the war damage
inflicted by the Israeli attacks.
I went with them down Whitehall to Downing St, where police led them into
a pen close to the gates. While a delegation of six, including Diane Abbott,
MP, Betty Hunter, PSC General Secretary. Lindsay German of Stop the War and
others took the letter into Downing St, the children posed for pictures, as
first standing, and then lying on the ground as if the innocent victims of
an Israeli attack; but these children were just playing dead.
No Third Runway Decision Day Flashmob
Terminal 5, Heathrow Airport, London. Saturday 17 Jan, 2009
Some of the several hundred protesters in the Departures
area of Terminal 5
Following the government decision to press ahead with airport expansion
and build a third runway at Heathrow despite the environmental consequences
announced earlier in the week, several hundred people turned up at Terminal
5 for a 'flashmob' protest at 12 noon on Saturday.
Attracting most press attention were four brave young ladies who had saved
the ten quid for a red 'STOP AIRPORT EXPANSION' t-shirt and instead
opted for red body paint with a black message across their midriffs, 'Simply
No Slaughter' and a pair of strategically placed gold sticking plasters
proclaiming 'art' and 'port' (port was indeed on the left.)
Among them were many of the locals who have led the long term opposition
to the project, including some I photographed on the march in 2003 in Sipson
and Harmondsworth, as well of course as John Stewart of HACAN and local MP
John McDonnell who many were congratulating for his seizure of the mace in
the House of Commons when the announcement was made.
For three-quarters of an hour the demonstrators chanted, threw red balloons
in the air and red tennis balls at an 'Aunt Sally' of Transport Secretary
Geoff Hoon and conga'ed around the area and had there pictures taken by a
large squad of photographers including some from the national press and some
They were watched by a few of those waiting to check in and rather more police
and airport security staff who made a loose ring around event. But although
the atmosphere before the demonstration had appeared a little tense, with
police making continued patrols through the departure area presumably looking
for trouble-makers, they seemed pretty relaxed - and some were clearly amused
by what was happening.
Finally Stewart thanked us all for coming, and repeated the determination
of all those involved to keep up the fight to ensure that despite the decision,
the runway will never be built. McDonnell was given a cheer for his action
in parliament and everyone was invited to take a last chance to pelt Hoon
before we all slipped away to the underground and bus stations.
Guantanámo - 7 Years
US Embassy, Grosvenor Square, London. Sunday Jan 11, 2009
The US Flag and American Eagle above a shackled 'detainee'.
Around 50 people attended a meeting outside the US Embassy in London on Sunday
11 Jan, 2008, to protest at the continued scandal of illegal detention and
illtreatment by the US at Guantánamo Bay.
The illegal detention of prisoners and their continued mistreatment at Guantánamo
has rather moved away from the top of the agenda with the election of a new
US president who takes over power in a few days. So the events to mark seven
years of this blot on freedom were considerably low-key compared to previous
years. However it is still far from clear if Obama will keep promises made
to shut down the camp and Amnesty International have launched an international
100 day campaign calling on him do so without delay and launch a full enquiry
into the abuses there.
But people are still held there, including two from London, Binyam Mohamed
and Shaker Aamer. Many were seized on the flimsiest of suspicions and tortured
before illegal rendition to Guantánamo, and some would be subject to
further imprisonment and torture if returned to their native countries simply
because they had been imprisoned at Guantánamo.
Pictures like the those I took including the US Embassy in the background
resulted in a police officer coming over and warning me. Apparently they are
a security risk. That's security spelt "E, M, B, A, R, R, A, S, S, M,
E, N, T" and surely no proper concern of the British police.
In Britain we have our own 'Guantánamo Lite' at Belmarsh
prison, where terrorism suspects are kept. One of these, Mousa Brown from
Walthamstow, who spoke at the embassy, spent 18 months on remand there before
being acquitted by a jury. His "crime" had been to go paintballing
with some friends ("military training") and to be a Muslim with
a prominent beard. It was a chilling story of how ordinary, everyday activities
can be interpreted as evidence of terrorist guilt.
Hizb ut-Tahrir Britain Gaza march
Marble Arch to Arab Embassies, London. Sun Jan 11, 2009
A 'coffin' held in front of the Egyptian Embassy to mark their complicity
in the Israeli killings in Gaza.
Hizb ut-Tahrir Britain organised a march against the Israeli attacks on Gaza
in London on Sunday, going to the to the Egyptian, Syrian and Saudi Embassies.
As expected it was a peaceful and highly ordered event. The march, which started
with a rally at Marble Arch, was particularly aimed at Arab dictators who
they claim collude with Israeli terrorism.
Perhaps 2-3,000 almost entirely Muslim men and women then marched down Park
Lane led by men carrying posters against the occupation of Palestine, Iraq
and Afghanistan and an end of support for 'Arab puppet tyrants.'
Behind these, men carried 3 black 'coffins', all with the message
'Killed in Gaza' on one side. On the other, one had 'Killed by
Mubarak', the second 'Killed by King Abdullah' and the third,
'Killed by Assad.' Most women marched in a separate block led by
female stewards in the centre of the demonstration.
Behind these was a large orange banner carrying the message 'Only Khalafah
will Liberate Palestine.' The protesters called for all the current corrupt
Muslim rulers to be replaced by a Khalifah (Caliph) who would send the armies
from Muslim countries to defend Gaza and liberate Palestine.
The first call was to the Egyptian embassy in South Street, where the 'Killed
by Mubarak' coffin was displayed in front of the doorway. The marchers
then made their way to the Saudi Arabian embassy, a large house set back behind
a garden in Charles St; here the 'Killed by King Abdullah' coffin
was held up while there was a short address and some chanting. Finally the
marchers went down Piccadilly and past Hyde Park Corner to Belgrave Square.
There, police had used barriers to make a small area facing the Syrian embassy
for the demonstrators, but clearly it was nothing like large enough to hold
them (though doubtless several times too large for the number the police would
report attended.) Police and demonstrators together moved the barriers forward
to double the area, but it was still far too small for the demonstrtors to
pray as they had intended. After some speeches, the prayers were held with
everyone remaining standing and holding up their hands.
Hizb ut-Tahrir Britain has also been organising an email campaign for Muslims
to send messages to the UK Ambassadors of Egypt, Syria and Iran urging these
states to send their armed forces to defend the people of Gaza.
Hizb ut-Tahrir promotes the re-establishment of the Islamic Caliphate across
the Muslim world with "an elected and accountable ruler, an independent
judiciary, political parties, the rule of law and equal rights for minority
groups." They follow the example of the Prophet Muhammad in doing
so by intellectual and political activity and not by any resort to violence.
Blessing the Thames
London Bridge, London. Sunday 11 Jan, 2009
Bishop of Woolwich throws a plain wooden cross into the River Thames - below
another cross in the sky.
Once again this year the congregations of the two Anglican churches at each
end of London Bridge - the City church of St Magnus the Martyr and Southwark
Cathedral met in procession at the centre of the bridge for a short service
to bless the River Thames and all who work on the river.
You can see my pictures from last
year and 2007, where I also have some more about the origins of this ceremony,
which was started in 2004. I was sorry not to be able to stay for the lunch
which follows it.
Stop the Gaza Massacre - National March
Hyde Park to Israeli Embassy, London, Saturday 10 Jan, 2009
Protesters with 'Gaza - Stop the War' placard on the street opposite the Israeli
Over 100,000 marchers turned up to Hyde Park in London on Saturday to show
their opposition to the Israeli attacks on Gaza and call for an end to the
killing there. As well as posters and banners, some carried dolls as a reminder
of the 300 or so children already killed by the Israeli attacks in the current
offensive. The massive turnout showed
Many of the placards also called for an end to the seige on Gaza imposed
by Israel with the help of Egypt and the support of much of the international
community after democratic elections in Gaza led to a victory for Hamas.
The police consistently underestimate the numbers of demonstrators, and at
least a part of the problems that occurred came from their belief in their
often ridiculously low estimates. For Saturday's demonstration the police
had only planned for 15-20,000 despite the predictions of a much larger number
by the organisers.
So there simply were not enough police in the right places, and there seemed
to be insufficent anticipation of the totally predictable problems that would
occur close to the Israeli Embassy. Rather than keep as wide a possible a
route open and try to move the march past as quickly as possible to a dispersal
area (it was perhaps unfortunate that the organisers were not allowed to use
Kensington Gardens,) the street was narrowed to little over half its normal
width by barriers and inevitably a blockage occurred, leaving around a mile
and a half of marchers crowding the streets all the way back to the starting
point close to Speakers Corner when the front of the march arrived there around
Quite rightly, feelings run very high over Gaza and there were many who wanted
to get to the Israeli Embassy and make their feelings clear. The police are
charged with preserving public order - including the right to peaceful protest
- but also protecting life and property.
By this time the march was led by several hundred mainly young protesters
who were already clustering in front of the road leading to the embassy by
the time the line of celebrities at the official front arrived and paused
for a few minutes. I had no problems with the police during the event, but
at this point I was assaulted by several Stop the War stewards, some of whom
do seem to have a real problem with the press. They pushed me around and tried
to stop me from working, although other stewards who who saw what happened
did apologise to me for the treatment I received.
After they had gone past, a largely static crowd began to build up, blocking
the road more or less completely and shouting towards the police guarding
the road to the embassy. There seemed to be some fighting with police at the
front of the crowd as demonstrators tried to climb the barriers, but I couldn't
see what was happening. A few shoes were thrown in their direction, as well
as some placards and the light sticks from them. A few yards down the road
were a group of young men burning placards with a picture of the "World's
#1 Terrorist" and I stopped briefly to take a few pictures before walking
on. Further down the road things were pretty quiet, and some Muslim men were
It was clear that the demonstration was going to continue long into the night,
and that it would become another lengthy struggle against the police outside
the embassy. But I'd promised to take some pictures at another event and had
Gaza - Daily protest at Israeli Embassy
High Street Kensington, London. Wednesday 7 January
Protesters including some ultra-orthodox Neturei Karta
Jews line the road close to the Israeli Embassy
Daily demonstrations opposite the Israel Embassy in London against the killings
and injuries in Gaza continue.
By the time I had to leave around 6.30pm around 500 people had turned up
to protest opposite the Israeli embassy about the continuing ground and air
attacks on Gaza and its people with its ever increasing death toll - over
680 people killed in 11 days -and to call for an immediate end to Israeli
aggression. Among the many Palestinians and others showing their solidarity
with the Palestinian people were several ultra-orthodox Neturei Karta
as well as other Jewish groups including the International Jewish Anti-Zionist
Network. There were several holding posters "ASHAMED TO BE AN ISRAELI!!!"
and a group of supporters of Haitian human rights activist Lovinsky Pierre-Antoine
(kidnapped in Haiti in 2007) who had come to the Gaza demonstration rather
than their normal weekly vigil at the Brazilian Embassy.
While I was there, police were keeping the demonstrators behind a double
row of barriers and keeping a single lane of traffic moving on the road in
front in both directions. For a very short time I was able to photograph from
the area in the front of the demonstration, but one familiar police officer
told me that I was getting in his way and I was forced to leave.
The demonstration was due to end at 7pm and a pro-Israel demonstration was
scehduled to start at 7.45pm in the same place. According to news reports,
around 500 pro-Israel demonstrators turned up and some of the pro-Palestine
demonstrators had stayed to oppose them. There were a number of struggles
with police with 5 pro-Palestine demonstrators being arrested as police attempted
to drive them further west away from the Embassy. Another arrest was also
reported earlier when police stopped a group of almost a hundred cars with
Palestinian flags coming to join the demonstration from East London.
Hyde Park: Italian Gardens & Princess Diana Fountain
Hyde Park, London. January 7, 2009
A stream over Cornish Granite in a London park as a memorial to Princess Diana
I didn't go to Hyde Park to see the Princess Diana Memorial Fountain, but
as I was more or less passing on my way from photographing the Ashura Procession
on the Bayswater Road at the north of the park to the Serpentine Gallery at
its south I thought I would take a look. I was never a fan of Di, though I
felt she was disgracefully treated by the Windsor family, and on a couple
of occasions I've photographed the annual remembrance at the gates of Kensington
Di - 9th Anniversary and Princess
Di - Ten Years On) but never bothered to walk down to see the memorial.
Certainly on a freezing winter day the memorial had a coolness and a kind
of detachment about it that her fans might find inappropriate, but I think
it's a piece of landscape art that will long outlive her memory and bring
pleasure to people in a way that those many monuments to forgotten figures
of earlier ages don't - if its foundations are strong enough to take being
walked on by the majority of visitors who ignore or don't see the forlorn
small print notices. I think they are right to do so - it is a structure to
be used and to be played on.
Ashura Procession, London
Bayswater, London. January 7, 2009
Black-clad Muslim women carry a banner past Lancaster Gate station
Ashura is a major religious festival for Shia Muslims, who mourn the martyrdom
of Imam Hussain, the grandson of the Prophet Muhammed, at the battle of Karbala
in 61 AH (680 AD.) The procession in London is a part of the commemoration
and mourners, largely dressed in black, walk along accompanied by the beating
of drums and the wailing of horns, with a rhythmic ritual beating of their
chests and chanting "Ya Hussain".
The procession, on the 10th day of the Islamic month of Muharram, is just
a part of an extended period of mourning for Hussain. Shia see the battle
and martyrdom of Hussain as part of a wider struggle of good against evil,
with Hussain representing freedom against tyranny and injustice.
You can see pictures from previous Ashura processions on My London Diary:
Today it was cold and rather dark as the procession of several thousands of
men, women and children left Hyde Park on their way to the Islamic Centre
in Kensington, and it was hard to get good pictures.
Hands Off Gaza: Stop The Bombing: Free Palestine
London, 3 January, 2009
Young Muslim women with Palestinian flags and colours
on their faces
Israeli attacks on Gaza which have resulted in the killing of many innocent
civilians as well as a few Hamas miilitants have led to many protests around
the world, and as well as the national demonstration in London there were
also other protests in towns and cities across the UK as well as internationally.
The police estimate of 10,000 demonstrators, repeated by the BBC seemed ludicrous
as Trafalgar Square now holds perhaps twice that figure after the pedestrianisation
of the north area, and it was fairly packed, with a large crowd still in Whitehall
and others leaving before the speeches at the rally.
So between 20 and 25,000 came to protest in London at short notice and many
stayed to listen to speakers including Alexei Sayle, Annie Lennox, Ken Livingstone,
George Galloway and many more.
Towards the end of the rally the organisers announced we would be marching
on to the Israeli embassy for a further demonstration. Rather than wait for
the march I caught a bus there, though it diverted half a miile short. Police
apparently made various efforts to stop the march and attacked some of the
marchers, especially in the underpasses at Hyde Park corner but I missed all
Opposite the embassy there were hundreds of police, and as more demonstrators
arrived they put on their helmets and riot shields. From behind the police
lines I didn't have much of a view, but there did seem to be a number of minor
charges by police towards the demonstrators behind the barriers, and then
the protesters, who had already pushed the barriers forward some distance,
pushed down some of the barriers and things became a little chaotic.
A number of shoes and bags of flour were thrown by the protesters, some narrowly
missing the press; placards were also thrown, but these fell shorter among
the police. When police moved the press completely away from the action I
felt it was time to go home.
In the chaos I had hear my trousers rip, and looked down to see a tear in
one leg. What I hadn't realised is that it had also ripped the stitching of
the 'secure' zipped pocket which I've long used to keep filled CF cards from
my camera. On my way home (I had to walk three-quarters of a mile to find
the diverted bus route) I found that I had lost the 8Gb card with most of
my pictures from the day, so there are rather fewer than usual here - just
some from the start of the march and the last few minutes of the embassy protest.
Open the Border - Gaza Protest at Egyptian Embassy
South Street, Mayfair, London. January 2, 2009
Demonstrators outside the Egyptian Embassy
Demonstrations have taken place every day opposite the Israeli Embassy in
Kensington since Israel started their attacks on Gaza last Saturday. On Friday
around 500 Palestinian supporters demonstrated outside the Egyptian Embassy
in Mayfair, calling for greater support for the Palestinians in Gaza and in
particular the opening of the border crossing from Gaza to Egypt they control.
The crowd, mainly of Palestinians but with a good sprinkling of other supporters,
were united in pressing for urgent action from Egypt as well as an immediate
stop to the Israeli killing in Gaza and an end to the siege, although there
were a few minor arguments and I saw stewards call police to deal with one
trouble-maker who was quickly escorted away.
There was an effective barrier on the opposite side of South Street between
the crowd and the embassy with a fairly strong police presence on the roadway
in front of the building, as well as a number well behind the crowd, but other
than preventing any access by demonstrators or press to the front of the Embassy
the police simply stood and watched for the hour and a quarter I was there.
After some prolonged chanting and various addresses to the crowd, a small
group of young men burnt some crudely drawn Israeli flags decorated with swastikas,
and then set fire to a photograph of the Camp David meeting with a text reading
"TREATY OF CAMP DAVID." A few small tomatoes - past their best -
were also thrown towards the embassy.
London New Years Day Parade
Westminster, London. 1 January, 2009
US High School Bands are still an important part of
the New Year Parade in Westminster
There were still plenty of USAmerican high school marching bands and pom-pom
waving cheerleaders, but the Westminster parade is now more of a Greater London
event, with teams of participants from London boroughs including Brent, Merton
and Hounslow as well as English oddities such as the Pearlies, firework societies
as well as clubs dedicated to particular brands of cars or motorbikes and more.
I was suprised to see there are still Butlins redcoats, and also in red were
the formidable ladies of the California-based Red Hat Society for
women over 50. A couple of groups made more serious political points, with
a small group calling for an end to kidnapping in Colombia, and a marching
band, dancers and more from Falun Dafu, persecuted in China.
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