Housing and Planning Bill March
Imperial War Museum to Downing St. Sat 30 Jan 2016
Class War pose on Westminster Bridge - and Lisa McKenzie
waves her trident
Lambeth and Southwark councillors were among around two thousand who took
part in a rally and march from the Imperial War Museum to Downing St in a
protest organised by Lambeth Housing Activists against the Housing and Planning
Bill. The protesters say it will have a particularly large impact in London
and greatly worsen the already acute housing crisis here.
Among the speakers at the initial rally were Green Party Leader Natalie Bennett
and an number of housing activists including Simon Elmer of Architects for
Social Housing, and there speeches were warmly applauded. But when Southwark
Council Cabinet Member for Housing Richard Livingstone the atmosphere changed,
with boos and loud heckling from several people in the crowd including Elmer.
One man in particular continued to shout and point at Livingstone, reminding
him of the social cleansing by Southwark Council, and in particular the scandalous
demolition of the Heygate Estate where a huge area of social housing has been
lost, and the continuing demolition of the Aylesbury estate. While Southwark
claim to be building more social housing than any other borough, they have
allowed developers to renege on the committment to providing any social housing
in schemes such as neo-Bankside.
The argument between the two men continued after Livingstone had left the
platform. Many who lost their homes on Heygate and Aylesbury have had to move
far away from the area, and few if any of the promises made by the council
have been kept. Financially and morally Heygate was a scandal, and one the
council seem determined to repeat, and it is not surprising that feelings
The march started off in the opposite direction to Downing St, and wandered
to Lambeth North through the back streets, much to the surprise and consternation
of many taking part. Class War decided to liven things up a little, first
by dancing along the street singing the 'Lambeth Walk' and then by rushing
across the pavement towards a large estate agency. Police formed a line to
stop them entering and they stood outside for some minutes with their banners
- the field of crosses with the message 'We have found new homes of for the
rich' and the Lucy Parsons banner with its quotation "We must devastate
the avenues where the wealthy live" before rejoining the march.
In front of the banners, Lisa Mckenzie stood waving a plastic trident with
a small banner 'This Bill is the end of Council Housing' with its second message
an image of David Cameron and the alternative text 'Bell End'. From time to
time she also wore a mask of Iain Duncan Smith, who she stood as Class War
candidate against in Chingford in last year's general election.
As the march approached Downing St, police lined up across the road to direct
the marchers across to the opposite side of Whitehall. They walked past the
line then recrossed to mass in front of the gates of Downing St, where the
protest continued for some time on the pavement and road, with several groups
listening to speakers and the samba band playing. I left as police were finally
persuading most of those present to leave the road.
IWGB protest victimisation by CCM/CBRE
Finsbury Circus, London. Wed 27 Jan 2016
The IWGB protesters march up and down the pavement
outside 1 Finsbury Circus
Grass-roots union IWGB (Independent Workers Union) held a noisy protest
outside the CBRE-managed offices at 1 Finsbury Circus in the City of London.
They were protesting against the victimisation of two cleaners who had complained
and campaigned against overwork and intimidation by cleaning contractor CCM.
CCM is a privately owned contract cleaning and maintenance company based
in London and the cleaners say they managers are running a campaign of intimidation
and provocation against long-term employees, trying to deny them their employment
rights and force them out of their jobs so they can be replaced by new workers
with reduced working conditions.
They say that CBRE, a huge commercial property firm who manage these (and
many other) offices and who contracts CCM has been leaning heavily on CCM
to cut costs by reducing the conditions of their cleaners.
The protesters had brought with them banners and posters, and set up in front
of the door to the offices, watched by a small contingent of City of London
Police. They handed out leaflets explaining why they were protesting and drew
attention to their presence by making a great deal of noise, with loud speeches
over a portable sound system by union president Alberto Durango, chanting
of slogans, 'Shame on You' and 'What do we want? Justice! When do we want
it? Now!', banging drums and blowing whistles and plastic horns.
During the protest, which lasted around 50 minutes as workers from the building
were entering and leaving for their lunch breaks, Durango announced that the
union were also beginning a campaign to get the London Living Wage for the
workers in the offices, all of whom are currently only paid the statutory
minimum of £6.70 per hour, hugely less than is needed to live in London,
where the London Living Wage, calculated by the Greater London Authority is
£9.40 per hour.
NCAFC 'Grants Not Debt' Blocks Bridge
Westminster Bridge.Tue 19 Jan 2016
A police officer tries to talk to NUS Vice President
Shelly Asquith as she and others shout 'Grants Not Debt!'
NCAFC 'Grants Not Debt' Rally
Parliament Square.Tue 19 Jan 2016
Clive Lewis, Labour MP for Norwich South and Shadow
Minister in Department of Energy arrives to speak
Following the scrapping maintenance grants last Thursday by a parliamentary
committee, a protest in Parliament Square by the National Campaign Against
Fees and Cuts supported today's Labour party debate against the action and
the government's flagrant denial of democratic process. The scrapping of the
grants was approved by the votes of just 10 MPs in an obscure committee.
After the rally which included speeches by Clive Lewis, Labour MP
for Norwich South and Shadow Minister in Department of Energy and Climate
Change and Shelly Asquith, NUS Vice President (Welfare) the protesters
moved on to Westminster Bridge, unrolling a new banner 'No Grants
= No Bridge' and stopping traffic there. I left after around an hour,
by which time the police had persuaded them to move to block only the southbound
carriageway and the protest appeared to be dying down.
International Times new 'Issue Zero'
Fleet St, London. Sat 16 Jan 2015
Hot from the Press - Nick Victor holds up a copy from
the box he has just opened at the launch party
Notorious London underground paper International Times, first published
in 1966 and closed down in 1973 (with several re-incarnations and a web site
since 2009) started again for its 50th anniversary with a launch party for
the 36 page 'Issue
Among those writing for the new issue were stalwarts from its early days,
including Heathcote Williams, and the issue was edited by Heathcote
Ruthven with subediting by Emily McCarthy, Heather Williams, David
Graeber and Heathcote Williams, design by Darren Cullen
and art by Nick Victor and Claire Palmer.
The magazine is available online
where it is described thus:
Released at the beginning of the 50th year of IT, issue zero contains searing
polemics, investigative journalism, satiric comics, a poem, and much more.
There are pieces on topics as diverse as the (lack of a) housing crisis,
Stop The War Coalition, self-serving refugee charity, first-hand accounts
on gunfighting between the PKK and Turkish state, and reflections on feminist
revolutions in Iceland.
Designed and printed on Risograph at gallery, studio, and comic book shop
WAR in Lewisham by Darren Cullen.
The issue is dedicated to Mike Lesser, who along with Robert
Tascher edited a special edition of IT from the Paris barricades in 1968.
Drop Food Not Bombs on Syria
Trafalgar Square, London. Sat 16 Jan 2015
A man shouts at the protest, behind him a placard with
a bloody hand on the face of Putin
Syrians in Trafalgar Square called for an end of spending billions on
bombs and weapons an the the UK insted to allocate the money to humanitarian
aid for those under siege across Syria, including those in Madaya and the
Yarmouk refugee camp.
Many wore or held the Free Syria flag with its green, black and white strips
and three red stars, and various posters which made clear they condemnation
of ISS, the Russian bombings and the Assad regime. One poster read 'Syrians
started the Revolution - Assad started the war' while others made clear what
they were calling for; 'Drop the Food, Not Bombs' and 'Medaya is Crying While
the World is Denying'.
Vegans 'Awakening Compassion'
Piccadilly Circus, London. Sat 16 Jan 2015
call for an end to farming animals
Vegans from 'Awakening Compassion' held posters round the statue of Eros
at Piccadilly Circus. They want an end to all animal farming and urge a plant-based
diet which avoids cruelty, is more healthy and far less polluting for the
They stood holding posters around the base of Eros at Piccadilly Circus with
large pictures of animals we farm for food - chickens, cows, sheep, goats,
pigs- with meassages such as 'I am an animal - Someone not something - I want
to stay alive'
March against Taiji Dolphin Slaughter
Regent St, London. Sat 16 Jan 2015
Many marchers had red hands for the blood of the dolphins
which turns the sea red
Campaigners against the annual inhumane slaughter of dolphins and small
whales at Taiji marched from Cavendish Square to the Japanese Embassy calling
for the end of this barbaric practice.
I met the marchers as they were halfway down Regent St and photographed them
until the end of the march had gone down Piccadilly. Although they march on
the pavement rather than on the road they still attracted the attention of
the many shoppers on the street.
Video and photographs, some of which were on banners and placards, show the
repeated stabbing of small whales and dolphins after they have been herded
into the shallow water of Taiji Cove by the fishermen in their boats. They
thresh around and die painfully, their blood and that of the others of their
family also being killed staining the water red, while the fishermen laugh
and joke as they attack them again and again in a scene of horrendous cruelty
against these highly intelligent animals.
Among the groups supporting the march were Sea Shepherd, Born Free, Earthrace
and the Dolphin Project.
St Pancras Die-In for Calais refugees
Kings Cross & St Pancras, London. Sat 16 Jan 2015
Protesters stage a die-in outside the entrance from
the Underground to St Pancras
An emergency protest against clearing the Calais refugee 'Jungle' urged
the UK government to give refugees at Calais safe passage into the UK to claim
asylum. They say many have family and friends here and the UK must take a
fair share of migrants. Today was an International Day of Action in solidarity
with refugees and there were also protests in Calais and Dunkirk.
The protesters, including people from the London2Calais convoy as well as
a Christian contingent with some bible-based placards, met in the square in
front of Kings Cross and after a brief speech by one of the organisers walked
the short distance to the main entrance of St Pancras International. Checking
earlier they had found a large number of police were stationed at all entrances
to St Pancras and inside, particularly around the Eurostar ticket gates. A
line of police across the entrance prevented them going inside and the protest
continued in front of them, with speeches from Kent anti-fascist Bridget Chapman
and Adam from NUS Black Students.
The protesters, followed by police who continued to film them, then walked
down outside the station to the Euston Road, before stopping briefly to decide
which way to go. Some then went out into the road briefly stopping traffic,
probably to mislead the police before running into the underground entrance
and rushing towards the passage leading to the long shopping concourse of
There they were stopped by police, and held a further protest with a number
of speeches before staging a 'die-in'. Speakers called for the refugees at
Calais and Dunkerque, who include many unaccompanied minors and others with
relatives living in the UK, to be allowed to enter the UK and make asylum
claims. They state:
As activists in Britain, we believe that while the "Jungle" is
a symptom of the crisis in Calais and Dunkerque, the root cause is British
migration and foreign policy.
During the last months alone, at least 25 migrants have died trying to
cross the border through the Eurotunnel, the youngest victims include an
unborn baby, which died when his mother tried to cross in July 2015. David
Cameron and Theresa May have blood on their hands.
The reason why refugees from countries like Afghanistan, Syria, Eritrea,
Iraq and Sudan have chosen to live right next to the British border, risking
their lives atttempting to cross it, is the fact that Britain refused to
take its fair share of migrants.
Faced with the biggest worldwide displacement of people since the Second
World War, the Tory governments refusal to take in more refugees is unacceptable.
We refuse to accept that there is money to bail out banks and bombing Syria
but that there is no money left to help refugees.
After around ten minutes there was a final speech and the protesters got
up and left. We were told that some protesters had managed to get inside and
protest with fake 'body-bags' at the Eurostar entrance. Throughout the protest
the protesters had left a gangway so that people going to catch trains could
enter the station, although a few had been held up briefly by police who mistook
them for protesters.
Guantanamo 14 Years on
US Embassy, London. Mon 11 Jan 2016
Former 'hostage' Shaker Aamer lights a candle at the
vigil in front of the US embassy
Shaker Aamer and six other former detainees attended a vigil at the London
US Embassy on the 14th anniversary of the setting up of Guantanamo, demanding
Obama make good his promise to close the prison camp and release the remaining
103 'hostages' held there.
People, many of whom have taken part in the protests over the years by the
London Guatanamo and Save Shaker Aamer campaigns came to the US Embassy to
mark 14 years of the illegal concentration camp, and demand that President
Obama keeps his promise to close down the camp and send all 103 of those still
detained there - who Shaker Aamer has called 'hostages' be sent to countries
where they can live without fear of further imprisonment and torture.
They brought banners and posters and lit candles with the message 'GITMO14'
in front of the embassy, while speeches continued, reminding us that while
all British detainees had now been released - and seven were said to be at
the event - there were still over a hundred men left in the US concentration
camp on Cuba. The London Guantanamo Campaign will be keeping up its monthly
embassy protests until all are free.
Among those who spoke at the open mike were Aisha Maniar of the London Guantanamo
Campaign, Imam Suliman Ghani from Tooting Islamic Centre, Jean Lambert, Green
Party MEP for London, Green Party, Lindsey German of Stop the War, Hamja Ahsan,
Peter Tatchell, and former detainees Moazzam Begg and Shaker Aamer.
Shaker Aamer seemed in excellent health and was in very good spirits, talking,
hagging and shaking hands with those who had campaigned for his release. He
told them that the news he had heard through visiting lawyers had kept his
spirits up and made him determined to keep on while in the prison - much of
the almost 14 years in solitary.
At the same time as this London vigil, the large inflatable 'Shaker Aamer'
was outside the White House, where another rally was taking place. Towards
the end of the vigil, as he was about to read the names of the over a hundred
still detained in the prison camp he was called away to appear over a live
TV link to the Washington event, and Suliman Ghani took his place in reading
out their names.
One of those who spoke was the daughter of Munir Farooqi, a man who ran Muslim
information stalls on the streets of Manchester, despite attempts by police
and local authorities to close them down. Six years ago he was given four
life sentences after two undercover police officers faked conversion to Islam
and spent a year spying on him, pretending they were desperate to go to train
abroad to fight and questioning him in a classic case of entrapment to frame
him as a terrorist recruiter.
Munir's family and supporters continue to fight to prove his innocence and
have him released, and the authorities have attempted to confiscate the family
home. Since there was no hard evidence of his guilt, proving his innocence
is difficult; an appeal in 2013 was rejected.
Class War Footy at White Cube
White Cube, Bermondsey, London. Sat 9 Jan 2016
Fire breathing and the Class War Womens Death Squad
banner on the White Cube yard
Class War protested against gentrification outside the White Cube gallery
in Bermondsey where Gilbert & George are showing slogans from protests,
playing football, breathing fire, singing protest songs and declaiming verse
on the extensive yard.
Class War have waged a long campaign against gentrification in London and
elsewhere, not least in their lengthy 'Poor Doors' campaign in 2014-5
at 'One Commercial St' in Aldgate. The Gilbert & George show
'Banners' at White Cube's Bermondsey St gallery, which appropriates slogans
from various protests - including a number made popular by Class War - rewriting
them in their handwriting and prominent signature and claims this as high-priced
art (for rich suckers - for this work won't stand the test of time) pointed
out the changes that have happened to this area over the past 20 or 30 years,
with a rash of food shops, designer clothes, a fashion museum and galleries
including the extremely pretentious White Cube moving in to what had been
a solidly working class area on the edge of docklands.
The yards which had housed innumerable workshops and small businesses, as
well as larger firms in the printing trade are now full of new and expensive
flats, with a few design studios and architects offices - and of course no
shortage of estate agents. Just beyond them are the old council estates with
their blocks of flats, now all designated as 'brownfield sites' and ripe for
demolition and exploitation as homes for the rich under the latest Tory government
It's an area that I knew well and photographed in the 1980s, writing an small
leaflet for a walk looking at its industrial history, West
Bermondsey - the leather area - as an exercise in desk-top publishing.
It sold hundreds of copies at a few pence each, partly for charity, and is
still available for free download on the web, though much of what it mentions
is now rather different.
In front of the White Cube gallery is a large open yard belonging to the
gallery, and after Class War paid a visit to the gallery in December, they
decided this would be a good place for a game of football, particularly as
many of the council estates close by have signs saying 'No Ball Games
Allowed' and they felt the space would make a good place for kids to
Although there had been no advance publicity of the protest on Facbook, rumours
had got out and the police were there in 4 vans and waiting, along with several
men in plain clothes standing outside the gallery who were probably private
security. They made no attempt to stop the protest but stood watching, preventing
protesters from entering the gallery and standing guard around a tall sculpture
in one corner of the yard which had been bubble-wrapped in advance of the
protest - which seemed to me a considerable artistic improvement.
The protesters deliberately kicked the football at police and security, encouraging
them to join in the game. Some of them did kick the ball back, while others
simply stood and let a protester come to collect it, sometimes holding it
but returning it when requested.
But the protest outside the 'protest' show (entitled 'Banners')
was not just football, but there was some spectacular fire breathing along
with a premiere performance of Ray Jones's latest song, 'any chance
of a sub?' dedicated to Damien Hirst and accompanied by the dancing Lucy Parsons
banner 'We must devastate the avenues where the wealthy live'. (Jones, together
with Ian Bone were formerly part of the Welsh punk band "Page 3".)
'Sid Skill' had brought along a fairly lifelike black model bird (a fiver
on eBay) which inspired a histronic performance from Ian Bone, about how the
security men guarding the White Cube had murdered the last raven from the
Tower of London, and that London was now doomed. Doomed I say, doomed.
Later, there were two spoken word performances, one by Jane Nicholls of a
traditional verse, 'The Finest f***ing Family in the Land', performed
with great gusto and with the small crowd joining in, and the second of a
rather odd poem about a raven, sent in response to a tweet about Ian's performance
at the protest by Ray Jones, which he read to us all. And the Womens Death
Squad led a rousing performance of their anthem, ' Bunch of C***s'
Altogether it was a 'happening' with arguably rather more artistic credibility
than the rather sterile work on display inside the gallery, and one that was
appreciated by some members of the public even though it lacked the Art World's
Eventually it was time to leave - and for Class War to continue their celebrations
in a local pub (while I left for Croydon.) On the way a number of Class War
Womens Death Squad stickers somehow found their way onto street furniture,
walls and estate agents windows, to remind the gentrifiers that Class War
will be back.
NHS Bursaries March
London. Sat 9 Jan 2016
Short Sighted Tories says a poster behind a man carrying
Unite flags on the march
Nurses, doctors and supporters of the NHS marched through London against
axing of bursaries for NHS nurses and midwives who perform essential work
for the NHS in hospitals caring for patients as an integral part of their
After a brief initial rally the march formed up behind the main banners in
Forum Magna Square before the several thousand set off down York Rd towards
Police stopped traffic and paused the front of the march briefly in the centre
of Waterloo Bridge for those at the back to catch up. Green Party leader Natalie
Bennett was among those holding the banner at the front of the march,
and Unite general secretary Len McCluskey marched with others holding
a Unite flag in the middle of the march. On Waterloo Bridge he came up for
a few moments to talk and have his picture take with Sam Fairbairn,
the National Secretary of the People's Assembly against Austerity,
who was leading the march.
I stood on the corner of the Strand taking pictures as the march turned to
go to Trafalgar Square for the main rally, watching as the whole march went
past before taking a bus back to Waterloo to travel to another event.
NHS Bursaries rally before march
St Thomas's, London. Sat 9 Jan 2016
Nurses wait for the start of the march. Some have I
(heart) NHS on their faces
Nurses, doctors and supporters of the NHS gathered in Belvedere St opposite
St Thomas Hospital for a brief rally before the march against axing of bursaries
for NHS nurses and midwives who perform valuable work in hospitals during
training, caring for patients.
Before the march started there was a brief rally, with speeches from a member
of the public and NHS patient Mike Dee, final year junior doctor
Lauren Gavaghan, a special registrar in psychiatry at Kings and one
of the founders of Support Junior Doctors, President of the National
Union of Students (NUS) Megan Dunn and Green Party
Leader Natalie Bennett.
Many of the junior doctors at the protest were wearing the t-shirt which
Vivienne Westwood designed in support of their campaign following
a request from Gavaghan, which features a heart because as the designer said
" you doctors are dealing with matters of life and death."
There was strong trade union support, with flags, banners and a balloon from
Unison and Unite general secretary Len McCluskey was standing the crowd listening
to the speeches -and spoke at the rally at the end of the march which I didn't
Don't extradite Omar Zayed to Israel
Bulgarian Embassy, Kensington. Fri 8 Jan 2016
Justice Omar Zayed - don't extradite Palestinian to
Israel where he may face torture
The Palestinian Prisoners Campaign protested outside the Bulgarian Embassy
urging Bulgaria to refuse an Israeli extradition demand for former Palestinian
political prisoner Omar Zayed, currently hiding in the Palestine embassy in
Sofia. He has lived in Bulgaria for 22 years where he married and has 3 children.
Zayed, 52, was born the occupied West Bank city of Jenin. He was arrested
by occupation forces in May 1986 and sentenced to life imprisonment for killing
an Israeli yeshiva student in occupied East Jerusalem. Palestinians call him
a political fighter who was defending the Palestinian causer and say that
he was beaten and tortured in prison. When he was in danger of death after
a 40 day hunger strike in 1990, he was transferred from prison to a hospital
in Bethlehem. He managed to escape from there and left Israel, settling in
Bulgaria four years later, where he married a Bulgarian citizen and has three
Bulgarian children. He became a part of the the Palestinian community of Sofia
running a Palestinian grocery.
His home was raided by police and his son arrested, and Zayed took refuge
in the Palestinian Authority embassy in Sofia to evade extradition. But the
embassy have told him that he has to leave. If he is extradited to Israel
he will again face imprisonment and torture; had he remained in jail there
he would probably have been released with other Palestinians following the
1994 Oslo accords. Israel has an extradtiion treaty with the council of Europe,
but that excludes political offences, and given Israel's record of torture
- and that they previously tortured Zayed, the extradition request should
be turned down on human rights grounds.
After an hour of protest they delivered a letter to the Bulgarian ambassador,
which was taken in by Embassy staff. I left them as they were preparing to
travel to the Palestinian Authority mission in Hammersmith to remind the PA
of its responsibilities to protect Zayed and other former political prisoners.
Kill the Housing Bill protest
Westminster, London. Tue 5 Jan 2016
The march against the Housing Bill led by Class War
stops in front of Parliament
Protesters urged MPs to oppose the Housing and Planning Bill being debated
in Parliament which would effectively end low cost social housing in the UK,
forcing councils to sell council housing, bringing in means testing and ending
The Conservative government are rushing though the Housing and Planning Bill,
described as "one of the most dangerous and far-reaching pieces of legislation
passed in this country in a long time" and so far it has been almost
unnoticed in the main stream media, although more then 150 housing sector
organisations have made known their concernts in written submissions to the
House of Commons Public Bill Committee. These appear to have been completely
ignored and the government is hoping to fast-track it into law.
According to Architects for Social Housing, if passed it will:
- Replace the obligation to build homes for social rent with a duty to
build starter homes capped at £450,000 in London and £250,000
- Extend the Right to Buy to housing associations without the obligation
to replace them, further depleting the number of hoems for social rent;
- Compel local authorities to sell ‘high value’ housing, either
transfering public housing into private hands or freeing up the land it
sits on for property developers;
- Force so-called ‘high income’ tenants with a total household
income over £30,000 (£40,000 in London) to pay market rents;
- Grant planning permission in principle for housing estates designated
as such to be redeveloped as 'brownfield land';
- Phase out secure tenancies and their succession to children and replace
them with 2-5 year tenancies - with such tenancies also being applicable
to tenants who have been 'decanted' for the purposes of redevelopment.
The bill also attacks the rights of Gypsies and Travellers through a discriminatory
reduction of available housing sites, and will also hit barge dwellers.
Protests today were called for by several groups in the 'Kill the Housing
Bill' alliance - Defend Council Housing, Camden Assembly of Tenants,
Tower Hamlets Tenants Federation, GMB Union, NUT - London Teachers Housing
Campaign, Camden LG, Cambridge City and other Unison branches, Unite Housing
Workers, the Green Party, John McDonnell MP, London Gypsy Traveller
Unit, Islington Hands Off Our Public Services, Islington Private Tenants,
Kirklees Federation of Tenants & Residents Association - along with
other groups, particularly ASH and Class War with other
housing activists from the Aylesbury estate and elsewhere across London. There
was support from other groups including SERTUC and squatters.
The protest had brought together a wide range of groups, and there were clearly
differences in the way some thought the protest should be conducted. While
Class War and others protested loudly at the front of the crowd facing Parliament,
with some powerful speeches from Lisa McKenzie and Martin Smith among others
and some housing songs led by John Hamilton of Lewisham People Before Profit
and the Strawberry Thieves Choir, a smaller group at the back in front of
George V seemed determined to hold a separate and more organised event. And
when someone set off a green smoke flare, a SWP newspaper seller came and
picked it up to carry away from the protest.
Among the speakers at the back of the event were Andrea Carey Fuller
from the Green Party London List, Kevin Price, Cambridge City councillor
and Marcus who spoke about the impact of the Housing Bill on Gypsies,
Travellers and Bargees.
After an hour and a quarter of static protest, Class War decided to lead
a march around past the Houses of Parliament and further. Most of the couple
of hundred present decided to join them, with a small group staying behind
to continue the protest in Old Palace Yard.
As the march moved off, police tried to persuade the marchers to keep to
the pavement and avoid endangering themselves in the traffic, but they took
no notice, keeping to the road. After a short while the police gave up and
instead facilitated the march on the road by stopping traffic for it. Class
War considered blocking Westminster Bridge, but instead turned down the Victoria
Embankment to march up it and along Horseguards Avenue onto Whitehall. Opposite
10 Downing St they turned across towards the gates, igoring police requests,
but coming to a halt when a small group of police stood in front of their
leading 'New Homes for the Rich' banner.
The marchers stood on the roadway in front of Downing St for around 5 minutes,
letting their views be known to anyone who might be inside before continuing
on their way down Whitehall and on to Parliament Square. The march halted
again in front of Big Ben for some more slogans and a change of music from
the bike-hauled sound system before continuing to rejoin the protest that
was continuing in Old Palace Yard.
It was time for me to leave, though there was time for a short rest in the
pub with some of the protesters before catching my train. The protest was
continuing and later there was a meeting in Parliament with the protesters
and MPs including both Jeremy Corbyn and John Macdonald - one unreported reason
why the Labour shadow cabinet reshuffle dragged on late into the night.
Kurds protest Turkish army killings
Parliament Square, London. Tue 5 Jan 2016
A woman shouts against the Turkish attacks on Kurdish
towns in front of flags showing Kurdish leader Ocalan
British Kurds came to Parliament Square to protest against Turkish support
for ISIS to attack Kurds in Syria and Turkish army attacks against Kurds.
They accuse Turkey of carrying out genocide against the Kurdish people.
The UK continues to support Turkey despite these attacks on the Kurds and
the evidence that Turkey is collaborating with Da'esh (ISIS/ISIL/IS) in the
export of oil from the captured oilfields in Syria. President Erdogan's own
family members are known to be involved in the smuggling operation, with pipelines
and long lines of lorries taking ISIS oil over the Turkish border. Some ISIS
oil is also refined in a Turkish refinery. Among the customers for the smuggled
oil is Israel.
Until Russia started their bombing campaign the allied airstrikes had avoided
taking effective action against ISIS's oil industry, which until recently
is estimated to have brought in £1.5 to £2m a day to fund ISIS.
Kurds have long been a persecuted minority in Turkey, wiith the state trying
to destroy their culture. The Turks with CIA help in 1999 captured and imprisoned
the Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan, a founder and leader of the Kurdistan
Workers Party (PKK) and he is still held on the prison island of Imrali.
The peace process between Turkey and the PKK had broken down in June, and
after the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) lost 20 of the
81 seats it had won in June 2015 in the November snap election called by President
Erdogan there have been increased armed struggles in Turkey between the Turkish
Army and the PKK (Kurdistan Workers Party) in which several hundred armed
fighters on each side have been killed but there have been more civilian deaths
The PKK calls for an independent Kurdistan, including parts of Turkey, Iran,
Iraq and Syria, and there are considerable differences between them and those
in control in Iraqi Kurdistan, who, as in Syrian Kurdistan (Rojava), favour
autonomy inside the existing state.
Shortly after I left, the protesters went from Parliament Square to the nearby
Conservative Party headquarters to deliver a letter. Some moved into the foyer
and occupied the buildling and steps outside for several hours. This made
the newspapers while the peaceful protest in the square did not.
London, January 2016
Jan 5 - Westminster
Pictures from my journeys around London in January 2016.
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