Bingo and Dancing for Elephant & Castle
Southwark Council offices,London. Tue 30 Jan 2018
in front of the banners form the Latin community
Campaigners Listened to speeches, danced and played bingo outside the
Southwark Council meeting which was to vote on plans by developer Delancey
and the council which would destroy the Elephant & Castle centre and
the community around it.
The Elephant & Castle centre includes a Bingo Hall and is
the the heart of a vibrant Latin American community. Although Delancey have
promised concessions, the written proposal under consideration by the council
remains unaltered, and the protesters want a solution which will serve the
needs of the community rather than expensive flats for overseas investors,
many likely unoccupied.
Speakers included local housing activists, students and trade unionists
from the University of the Arts who occupied the college against its backing
for the proposals which would renew and enlarge its campus and representatives
of the traders who would lose their businesses and the Latin community.
Piers Corbyn told us of his brother Jeremy Corbyn' concern about the scheme
which like others in Southwark and elsewhere in London fail to meet the
current Labour Party guidelines for regeneration.
After the protest had been continuing for around an hour, those outside
heard that the motion to turn down the application had not been put, and
the council had voted to put off the decision until a further meeting to
give Delancey time to submit a revised proposal.
Defend Afrin, stop Turkish Attack
BBC to Downing St, London. Sat 27 Jan 2018
Rojava's constitution liberates women and gives all
ethnic groups equal treatment
Several thousand people, mainly Kurds, march through London from outside
the BBC to a rally opposite Downing St, calling for an end to the attacks
by Turkish forces on the Afrin Canton of Northern Syria, now a part of the
Democratic Federation of Northern Syria (DFNS) or Rojava, a de facto autonomous
region in northern Syria.
The area is one of the most peaceful in Syria and the constitution of Rojava
treats all ethnic groups - which include Arabs, Assyrians, Syrian Turkmen
and Yazidis as well as Kurds - equally and liberates women, treating them
as equal to men. The constitution is based on a democratic socialism and
its autonomy is seen by many as a model for a federal Syria.
Turkey is using weapons sold by the UK, France and UAE and the protesters
say that the British government has contributed to the basis of this war
and call on it to oppose Turkey's invasion of Syria and attempt to destroy
the Kurdish forces that have been most effective in the fight against ISIS.
The Kurds also point out that Erdogan has provided ISIS with most of its
funding by allowing it to smuggle oil out through Turkey.
Turkey appears to be taking advantage of its position in NATO and the threat
of closer relationships with Russia to eliminate the Kurds on its borders,
who it alleges are a part of the PKK, the Kurdistan Workers' Party, a Kurdish
nationalist organisation regarded by Turkey and its allies as a terrorist
organisation, which has been in armed conflict with Turkey since 1984, demanding
equal rights and Kurdish autonomy in Turkey. Its leader Abdullah Ocalan
has been held in a Turkish jail since 1999. Turkey is also getting support
from some opposition Syrian forces who see the Rojavan Kurds as too closely
aligned with the Assad regime.
The PKK is a proscribed group in the UK and the police apparently seized
a few PKK flags at the start of the march, although at least one was still
being carried among hundreds of others at the end of the march.
Canada Goose protests continue
Regent St, London. Sat 27 Jan 2018
Protesters outside the Canada Goose store with a toy
dog and a banner with bloody fur
Protesters were again outside the Canada Goose flagship store in Regent
St asking shoppers to boycott the store because of the horrific cruelty
involved in trapping dogs for fur and raising birds for down used in the
An injunction against the protesters was amended in December to increase
the number of protesters allowed and to allow loud-hailers to be used between
2 and 8pm. The protests now continue on Saturdays and at least one day during
the week and are said to be having an effect on sales at the store.
End UAE support for slavery in Libya
UAE Embassy, London. Sat 27 Jan 2018
People hold African Lives Matter posters at the protest
African Lives Matter and the International Campaign to Boycott UAE
protest at the UAE Embassy in London against the funding by the the United
Arab Emirates United of armed Groups in Libya which imprison, torture and
kill African migrants and sell them as slaves.
The protest also called for an end of the human trafficking of African
migrants to and from Dubai and for help to be given for slavery victims
in Dubai to return to their families in Africa.
Cleaners rush into Royal College of Music
Royal College of Music, London. Thu 25 Jan 2018
Protesters with placards in the foyer of the Royal
College of Music
Independent Workers Union of Great Britain members and supporters swarmed
into the foyer of the Royal College of Music in an unannounced protest this
evening in support of the cleaners there.
A bus had taken the protesters from an earlier protest outside Senate House
at the University of London to a 'secret location' for another protest,
and it turned out to be the Royal College of Music. The bus dropped the
protesters and several journalists around the corner a short distance from
the college, and everyone got out and prepared for the protest. Two people
went on a little in advance to hold the doors open while the rest followed
in silence a short distance behind, running for the doors as they were opened
and pushing their way into the foyer.
Tenon FM took over the cleaning contract at the RCM and decided to unilaterally
cut hours in half and change shift times, telling the cleaners they must
work at times most already have other cleaning jobs, and they are now threatened
with dismissal for refusing to accept the new hours. The RCM and Tenon have
refused to discuss the changes with the IWGB who have launched a collective
grievance and the cleaners have balloted for strike action; the union is
also considering a legal challenge under law governing the transfer of undertakings.
The protesters waved IWGB union flags and placards, banged drums and shouted
slogans but were careful to avoid any damage, and left when requested to
do so by police who arrived after 12 minutes and ordered them out. They
were still continuing their protest on the pavement outside when I left.
End Outsourcing at University of London
Senate House, London. Thu 25 Jan 2018
A samba band comes to support the workers
Striking security officers and receptionists from the Independent Workers
Union of Great Britain picketed Senate House and were joined by supporters
for a noisy rally at the gates. Cleaners, receptionists, security officers,
porters and post room staff are all demanding that the university ends discriminatory
employment practices and makes them all direct employees.
Outsourced workers get far worse pensions, holiday entitlements, sickness
entitlements, and maternity and paternity leave than in-house employees,
and are often bullied and overworked and may be paid several months late.
The workers also want an end to zero hours contracts and increases in pay
they were promised.
Following earlier protests the University is considering bringing some
of the workers in-house, but they and their union, the IWGB, insist that
all should be put onto the university payroll.
Supporters arrived to protest with the workers who had been picketing all
afternoon and soon there was a large and noisy crowd around the gate. There
had been a sound system and some drums and vuvuzelas but things got louder
still with the arrival of the samba band. After they had played several
numbers cheers encouraged them to play an encore, after which there were
speeches from some of the union leaders including IWGB President Henry Chango
Lopez and a number of supporters, including United Voices of the World General
Secretary Petros Elia, who encouraged the strikers with news of another
campaigning success, where after a noisy protest outside the offices last
month the company had agreed to pay cleaners the London Living Wage.
Finally, IWGB General Secretary Jason Moyer-Lee announced that a double-decker
coach had arrived and would take IWGB members and any more they could fit
in to a surprise protest at another London location.
Protests continue for Grenfell victims
Kensington Town Hall, London. Wed 24 Jan 2018
Andrew Cooper stands with his banner for Grenfell
on the town hall steps
Most of those who had come to protest went into the council meeting
and only a handful were left to protest outside the council offices where
the Kensington and Chelsea Council were meeting.
They put up banners and used a small projector to display slogans, at first
on the brick wall, but then on a small improvised white screen. They had
brought two PA systems and while I was there one person made a short speech.
The protest called for all survivors and those evicted because of the fire
to be rehoused in the area in appropriate housing and for those in the council
and the council's TMO to face criminal charges, along with Rydon who made
the flammable cladding and others involved. They say protests will continue
until there is a real inquiry led by the community which gets at the truth
and those responsible are brought to justice.
US Embassy first protest - No to Trump's racism
US Embassy, Nine Elms, London. Sat 20 Jan 2018
Paula Peters of DPAC in front of the new US Embassy
at Nine Elms
Stand Up to Racism held the first protest outside the new US Embassy
in Nine Elms on the anniversary of President Trump's inauguration. The protest
was prompted by his racist description of African nations, Haiti and El
Salvador as 'shitholes'.
This word caused offence and outrage around the world, and was a new and
more offensive aspect of the racist attacks on black communities, migrants,
refugees and the Muslim community and his demands to build a wall to keep
out migrants which have been a consistent feature of Trump's campaign and
first year in office.
Stand Up to Racism had called for a wave of protests across the country
today to ‘knock down the racist wall’, and the protesters had
built a wall in front of the new US embassy which opened for business earlier
in the week in Nine Elms. At the end of the protest they knocked this wall
A few days earlier Trump had announced he would not be coming to open the
embassy, as had been planned for late February, a visit that would have
been met by massive protests. Few doubt that it was this that caused him
to cancel his visit, though Trump tweeted that it was a lousy building in
the wrong place - and with his usual accuracy blamed Obama for a decision
that had been taken by Bush.
The embassy in Grosvenor Square, despite its Grade II listing in 2009,
remains one of London's least liked eyesores. Designed by leading modernist
architect Eero Saarinen it was London's first purpose-built embassy when
opened in 1960 nd attracted criticism from both modernists and traditionalists.
Saarinen had apparently intended it would become less blunt with the effect
of London's sooty air, but the Clean Air Act has kept it in its raw state,
although the 2008 perimeter security project with two entrance pavilions
and ugly fencing completed before its listing worsened its appearance.
The new building is rather more interesting, and stands out among the mediocrity
of the surroundings of luxury flats apparently built at low cost which will
doubtless largely be overseas investments rather than homes. There will
be more pictures of the building and some of those around in the London
Break UK silence over Iran uprising
Downing St, London. Sat 20 Jan 2018
A man holds up two large photographs at the protest
Protesters opposite Downing St urged UK Prime Minister Theresa May
to break her silence over the uprising in Iran and call for the immediate
release of the thousands arrested and under threat of the death penalty.
The protest was organised by the French-based National Council of Resistance
of Iran (NCRI) and the associated PMOI/MEK, an Iranian political–militant
organisation in exile, and claimed to represent 40 Anglo-Iranian communities.
There were a wide range of speakers including several MPs. After I left
those taking part in the protest were to march to the Houses of Parliament.
Indians protest Hindu caste-based violence
Parliament Square, London. Sat 20 Jan 2018
Some banners & posters showed Dr Ambedkar, India's
great statesman and author of the Indian constitution
A protest organised by the Dr Ambedkar Memorial Committee GB and supported
by various Ravidass groups, Amberdkarite and Buddhist organisations, the
South Asian Solidarity Group and others met in Parliament Square to march
to the Indian High Commission in protest against the attacks on the Dalit
community by Hindu fundamentalists and the continuing illegal caste-based
Violence erupted on January 1st this year when thousands of Dalits from
all over India marched to commemorate the 200th anniversary of a historic
victory by Dalit soldiers fighting for the East India Company in the Battle
of Koregaon where under British command they routed a 50 times larger army
of Peshwa Banirao II. Dalits began commemorating this victory under the
leadership of Dr Ambedkar in 1927 at the memorial pillar erected by the
the British in 1851.
This year's bicentenary celebration was attacked by Hindu fundamentalists
and many were injured and one boy killed. Unrest and attacks spread to Mumbai.
Caste discrimination is outlawed by the Indian constitution, written for
independence in 1947 by Dr Ambedkar, but together with caste based attacks
on Dalits has increased greatly since the election of the Hindu nationalist
BJP party under Narendra Modi, whose central vision along with the linked
violent Hindu Nationalist RSS movement is for Dalits to remain at the bottom
of Indian society.
Bolivians protest for Liberty & Democracy
Parliament Square, London. Sat 20 Jan 2018
The protesters brought many Bolivian flags and shouted
'Bolivia dijo NO!', Bolivia said NO!
Bolivians protest in Parliament Square against President Evo Morales
having won a Supreme Court appeal which will allow him to run for a fourth
term in 2019.
In a referendum on 21st February 2016 the Bolivian people voted just over
51% against a constitutional change to allow Morales to stand again had
voted down the constitutional change, but the government argued it had lost
because of an illegal defamatory campaign against Morales. He is the country's
first indigenous leader, in office since 2006, and says he needs more time
in power in order to consolidate his party's programme of of social reforms.
The protesters accuse him of wanting to be a dictator and abandoning democracy.
The protest also condemned the revised penal code signed in December. Among
other things this provides provision for legal abortions, but journalists
fear it endangers their freedom of expression and some other professions
are worried about the sanctions it provides against professional misconduct.
Stop Turkey's invasion of Afrin
Turkish Embassy, London. Fri 19 Jan 2018
Kurds say that Turkey is ISIS, whose funding came
from oil exported through Turkey
Kurds protest outside the Turkish embassy as massive Turkish forces
gather on the border with Syria and are shelling Afrin, a Kurdish canton
of Rojava in north-western Syria which is defended by the YPG, a Syrian
The YPG which has been given support from the USA has been the most effective
group in the fight against Islamic State forces which the Kurds say are
supported by President Erdogan of Turkey. Erdogan claims the YPG are a terrorist
group allied to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), banned in Turkey, and
has said he will attack and destroy what he calls a "nest of terror"
on Turkey's borders.
Syria has called the threat to attack across their border a blatant disregard
of their sovereignty, and the US has refused to give help to the YPG against
Turkey. Britain sees Turkey as an important NATO ally and has expressed
support for Turkey's fight against the Kurds. Russia appears at the moment
not to be shooting down Turkish aircraft over Afrin, and there are reports
it has withdrawn its observers from Afrin to avoid Turkish bombs. It currently
looks as if the USA has decided that the YPG have outlived their usefulness
having defeated ISIS and are not willing to help them against Turkey.
Afrin is one of the three self-governing regions of The Democratic Federation
of Northern Syria (DFNS), better known as Rojava, which gained de-facto
autonomy in 2012 with a poly-ethnic population and secular constitution
based on democratic socialism, gender equality and sustainability and is
widely regarded as a model for a modern federal state. It's loss would be
a great setback to any promise of a peaceful settlement in Syria. But it
is of course not certain that Turkey, although they have one of the most
powerful armies in the world will be able to defeat the much smaller Kurdish
Vigil for 10 Million Congolese killed for minerals
Belgian Embassy, London. Wed 17 Jan 2018
Mpolo was killed along with Patrice Lumumba, Congo's first president and
On the 57th anniversary of the assassination of Congo's first Prime
Minister Patrice Lumumba, a protest by African Socialist International and
the Patrice Lumumba Coalition opposite the Belgian Embassy remembered the
over 10 million Congolese killed since 1998 over theft of Coltan, Cobalt
and other minerals to make smart phones, electric cars, etc and demanded
an end to Belgian military support for the Kabila regime in the Democratic
Republic of the Congo.
Congo gained independence from Belgium on June 30th 1960 with a democratic
government led by Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba. Within days Belgium was
sending forces to back the secession of mineral rich Katanga and after USA
and the UN failed to help, Lumumba turned to the USSR who sent planes to
transport his troops.
President Eisenhower feared that the control by US banks and mining companies
of the Congo economy and resources was under threat and sent in the CIA
to back Congo's army head Joseph Mobutu against Lumumba in their longest
and largest campaign anywhere. Eisenhower ordered the CIA to eliminate Lumumba,
and there were several unsuccessful attempts on his life before a plot by
the CIA and the Belgians aided by MI6 led to his assassination along with
his aides Maurice Mpolo and Joseph Okita by by Katangan and Belgian army
officers on 17th January 1961. The three men were taken and shot, their
bodies dismembered and then dissolved in an acid bath provided by the CIA.
The Democratic Republic of Congo is now ruled by Joseph Kabila, essentially
an appointee of western interests, which are still looting the mineral wealth
of a country which based on its natural resources should be one of the richest
in Africa but ranks as the poorest in the world with an average annual income
of around $400.
Don't destroy Elephant & Castle
Southwark, London. Tue 16 Jan 2018Protesters
outside Southwark Council offices
Local residents, including many from London's Latin American community
and housing activists marched with traders and LCC students from the Elephant
& Castle to Southwark Council's offices in Tooley St to demolish the
Southwark Council and the University of the Arts have both backed Delancey's
plans to replace the current centre and London College of Communication
campus which is home to Walworth residents, traders, the Latin American
community and LCC students with luxury flats, a new university campus and
shops but with only 3% of 'so-called' social housing and 5% of affordable
retail units which is projected to give £154m profit to its offshore
Delancey and Southwark are keeping secret the viability assessment that
would allow the developers to avoid any commitment to actual social housing
in the scheme, instead offering a small number of properties they would
manage with rents they claim would be close to social rents. Under pressure
from the protesters Delancey revised their plans shortly before the Planning
committee meeting to include more low cost housing, but came nowhere near
meeting the objections of local residents and businesses currently using
Marchers included students and workers from the London College of Communication
which has lent support to the scheme and where students have occupied part
of the building in protest.
I left as the Planning Committee meeting started, and it was a long one.
After several hours of discussion the members narrowly voted to overthrow
the officers recommendation and turn the plan down, but this was not the
end of the matter. The meeting then went into a private session where it
was agreed that there would be another meeting to consider the development
plans on Jan 30th, and the meeting finally ended around 1 am. Fourteen councilors
have signed an open letter against the scheme, citing “unacceptable”
social housing provision and inadequate protection for traders, and opposition
appears to be growing.
Around the Elephant
Southwark, London. Tue 16 Jan 2018
Elephant and Castle shopping centre
I took a few pictures on my way to join a protest against plans to
demolish the Elephant & Castle.
I took a few pictures on the bus from Waterloo to the Elephant, and as
I had arrived a few minutes early, took some of the area which is threatened
by redevelopment. The shopping centre with its office block was built in
the 1960s and most people agree it is in need of modernisation and perhaps
a total replacement.
But despite a rather dilapidated condition, it is a well-used local community
asset, with many small local businesses including market stalls and a bingo
hall. In more recent times it has been greatly enlivened by the many Latin
Americans who live in the area around, and is home to many businesses owned
The proposals for development seem based almost entirely on profit rather
than on the needs of the local people. Few would ever be able to live in
the the development and none of the businesses have been given any promises
about being able to return to the new centre, where most rents would probably
be prohibitive. The current Elephant is a thriving community and one which
gives the area an identity, and any development should have the needs of
that community at its heart.
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
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 targeting 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.
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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.
Close Guantanamo - 16years
Trafalgar Square, London. Thu 11 Jan 2018
The protesters stood in the cold light rain for two
Protesters in orange jump suits and black hoods stand in a square for
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.
Wimbledon Park to Richmond, London. Mon 1 Jan 2018
Almost the end - Richmond Bridge
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
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,
particularly 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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