Protest supports Windrush amnesty debate
Parliament Square, London. Mon 30th April 2018
Women of Colour in the Global Women's strike banner
at the protest
A protest outside Parliament supported the petition which was being debated
inside calling for an end to the deportations of migrants in the 'Windrush
generation' who arrived in Britain between 1948 and 1971, changing the burden
of proof which means they are now required to prove their right to remain,
and to provide compensation for any loss and hurt.
Most of those who have been deported, threatened with deportation or refused
entry after visiting families abroad have worked here for many years, paying
taxes and raising families here and have long regarded Britain as there
Despite government promises some are still under imminent threat of forced
deportation on charter flights. The petition has gained over 170,000 signatures.
Speakers included Harold who came to this country legally in the 1950s and
and has worked here since who the Home Office has been refusing a passport,
others whose parents and grandparents are from 'Windrush' families, anti-racism
campaigners, NEU General Secretary Kevin Courtney and Shadow Home Secretary
International Vigil supports Mumia Abu-Jamal
Trafalgar Square, London. Mon 30th April 2018
campaigner holds a picture of Mumia Abu-Jamal on the steps of St Martin's
A silent vigil on the steps of St Martin-in-the-Fields Church in Trafalgar
Square on the day that a court in Philadelphia is holding a hearing into
the re-opening of his case.
Former spokesman for the Black Panther Party and radical journalist Mumia
Abu-Jamal was wrongly convicted in a trial dominated by racism in 1982 of
killing a police officer. In December 2017 there was an international call
to release the police and prosecution files on his case supported by over
500 organisations around the world including the UK's largest trade union,
The documents are thought to include material to prove he was wrongly convicted.
Vigils and protests in his support are taking place elsewhere, including
Berlin, Detroit, Houston, Johannesburg, New York, Oakland, Mexico, Paris,
Seville, Toronto, Vallejo and outside the court hearing in Philadelphia.
Windrush march to Home Office
Westminster, London. Sat 28 Apr 2018
Sara Burke speaks outside the Home Office
People met at Parliament Square to march to the Home Office in a protest
called by an individual disgusted by the government's incompetence and deliberately
targeted attack on legal immigrants.
Sara Burke who organised the event wrote that "the government's
abhorrent treatment of those from the Windrush generation is a national
embarrassment" and planned the march to the Home office to put
pressure on them to keep their promises to these people.
As well as Sara Burke there were also speakers from Docs Not Cops, Stand
Up to Racism, Movement for Justice and the Socialist Party which made clear
that the policy of a 'hostile environment' means that many other people
in this country legally are also under threat.
Workers’ Memorial Day Grenfell vigil
Notting Hill, London. Sat 28 Apr 2018
A memorial on the fence around the burnt tower block
The Construction Safety Campaign held a short vigil outside Notting
Hill Methodist Church for all those who died in the Grenfell Tower fire.
After speeches from the CSC, Moyra Samuels of Justice4Grenfell and a nursery
worker from the nursery in the tower there was a short silence in their
memory. The speakers made clear that as more comes out about the disaster
it becomes clearer that it was entirely preventable, and the the actions
of the council and its TMO in specifying flammable cladding, applying it
improperly, providing inadequate fire doors, and various other faults showed
a culture that disregarded the safety of social housing residents, whose
concerns about building safety were ignored.
Grenfell shows a need for tighter building regulations and also for the
proper inspection and implementation of them, rather than the relaxation
that has taken place, and for the lessons of this and of previous disasters
to be taken seriously and implemented rather than ignored. The Grenfell
community also need to be better involved in the inquiry and there need
to be prosecutions of those responsible for the disaster.
International Workers’ Memorial Day
Tower Hill, London. Sat 28 Apr 2018
Wreaths from CSC and Unite at the statue of the building
worker on Tower Hill
The International Workers’ Memorial Day rally at the statue of
a building worker on Tower Hill remembered all those killed at work, around
500 in the last ten years, mainly in the construction industry, as well
as those injured, disabled and made unwell, almost all in preventable incidents.
The actual number of work-related deaths is several orders of magnitude
greater, estimated at over 150 per day, but the official figures only include
those actually killed at work for which accident reports have been submitted
- and not for example the 18,000 that die years after exposure from work-related
cancers. The Government 'red tape initiative' has resulted in fewer and
less rigorous safety inspections and the removal of many important safety
checks that protect workers. At the centre of the event was a coffin with
a pair of empty boots and a hard hat, and after the speeches by Peter Kavanagh,
secretary London & Eastern Region Unite, Helen Clifford, a solicitor
working on workplace deaths, Moyra Samuels of Justice4Grenfell and Gail
Cartmel, Assistant General Secretary Unite, wreaths were laid and there
was a period of silence before black balloons were released, one for each
worker killed this year in the construction industry.
End outsourcing at University of London
University of London, London. Wed 25 Apr 2018
IWGB members outside the University
A noisy rally by workers, students and other trade unionists supports
over 100 cleaners, porters, security officers, receptionists, gardeners,
post room staff and audiovisual staff in the Independent Workers Union of
Great Britain - IWGB marked the end of the first day of a two day strike
at the University of London central administration.
The workers, employed by various outsourcing companies, are demanding to
be directly employed by the University, and receive the same conditions
and benefits as directly employed colleagues; outsourced workers receive
worse pension, holiday pay, sick pay, maternity pay and paternity pay entitlements
than their in-house colleagues, may be on zero hours contracts and are often
bullied by managers.
Among the speakers was Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell who also brought
support from Jeremy Corbyn and promised a Labour government would bring
in new trade union laws and end the unfairness of outsourcing. Billy Bragg
performed three songs, two poets from Poetry on the Picket Line performed,
Goldsmith's UCU came announcing their donation of £1000 to the strike
fund and there were other speeches and performances.
After the speeches the over two hundred people present marched around Russell
Square, briefly holding up traffic, led by the yellow Precarious Workers
Mobile and accompanied by a samba band, returning to dance outside the entrance
to Senate House.
Justice for Asifa protest
India House, London. Sat 21 Apr 2018
Some said the protest was non-political but others
held the message 'Modi, you have blood on your hands'
Protesters at India House call for the Indian government to take effective
action against the rape culture that is leading to an increasing number
of crimes against women.
In a recent horrendous incident, Asifa Bano, an 8-year-old girl
from a nomadic Muslim family in Kathua, Jammu and Kashmir, was kidnapped
and taken to a Hindu temple where she was gang raped before being strangled
with her own scarf, her skull bashed in with a rock and her dead body left
in a forest. According to the protesters there are 106 rapes per day in
India with 4 our of 10 of the victims being minors.
Some of those at the protest called for the death penalty for rape, and
one placard - which no one was holding - read 'Chop Off Their Raping
Tools'. Previous horrific rapes led to the setting up of the Justice
Verma Committee which reported at length in 2013, stressing that the rape
culture resulted from the deeply rooted social and gender inequity. And
although it did recommend stiffer legal penalties it also opposed the use
of capital punishment or chemical castration, and called for an extensive
program of educating police and medical personnel in dealing with the victims
of rape and for sex education in schools. Most of its recommendations have
Although the event organisers were anxious to point out that this was not
a political protest, but one against violence towards women, there were
some present who felt otherwise, they say rape has been encouraged by members
and supporters of the ruling BJP party, who have shielded and attempted
to excuse the actions of rapists in a number of cases, and at times suggested
the women are responsible for their rape.
Right-wing Hindu groups continue to encourage violence against lower castes
and supporters of other religions, and it was this normalisation of violence
which led to the horrific assaults on Asifa, a premeditated crime in which
she was drugged and raped repeatedly in a Hindu temple for four days before
being taken outside, raped again by a special police officer and a juvenile
before being strangled to death and her head bashed in to make sure she
was dead, all part of a crime planned to create fear among her nomadic Muslim
community and to drive them out of the area.
As well as the five men involved in raping Asifa, there were also 3 police
officers involved in trying to cover up the crime, and Hindu lawyers and
politicians who tried to block the investigation. It was the truly horrific
nature of the crime that eventually caused the outrage that made the news
and led to the Indian government finally expressing its revulsion - and
to the resignation of two BJP ministers in the Kashmiri administration who
had attended a rally in support of the rapists.
Recognise the Armenian Genocide
Marble Arch, London. Sat 21 Apr 2018
Dirk Campbell, the father of Anna Campbell, speaks
about her sacrifice for the future of Afrin
Armenians march through London from Marble Arch to the Cenotaph at the
start of a series of events commemorating the 103rd anniversary of the beginning
of the Armenian Genocide, and demanding the UK to follow the lead of many
other countries and recognise the Armenian genocide.
Between 1915 and 1923 Turkey killed 1.5m Armenians, around 70% of the Armenian
population, but Turkey still refuses to accept these mass killings as genocide.
The word genocide was coined in 1943 to describe organised killings such
as that in Turkey, and most historians and genocide scholars as well as
the UN recognise the killing of the Armenians as genocide, and it has been
officially recognised by 29 countries including Brazil, Canada, France,
Germany, Italy and Russia,
Before the march set off there was a short speech and a musical performance
by Dirk Campbell, the father of Anna Campbell, a British volunteer killed
fighting for Afrin in the Kurdish YPJ who drew comparisons between the plight
of the Kurdish and Armenian peoples.
Land Rover stop supporting Bahrain
Mayfair, London. Sat 21 Apr 2018
CAAT picket the Land Rover showroom calling on an
end of arms sales to Bahrain
Campaigners from CAAT (Campaign Against Arms Trade) protest outside
the Land Rover showroom in Mayfair against their continuing sale of military
vehicles to the Bahraini regime, and their sponsorship for the Royal Windsor
Horse Show where Bahrain's King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa will join the Queen
on May 12th.
Despite Bahrain's horrific and deteriorating human rights record, Britain
still sells large volumes of arms to the regime, over £82m licenced
exports since the 2011 pro-democracy rising. Events such as the horse show
and the meeting with the Queen serve to legitimise this despotic regimes
and whitewash its human rights record. The campaigners call on Land Rover
to end its sponsorship and for others to join them in a protest at the horse
show on 12th May.
Solidarity with the Windrush families
Brixton, London. Fri 20 Apr 2018
People listen as Diane Abbott speaks in Windrush Square
Hundreds came to Windrush Square in Brixton to show their respect
and support for migrants long settled here who have been told they cannot
stay in Britain because they cannot prove they have the right to remain.
Immigration is the only part of the British judicial system in which those
under investigation are required to prove their stories are true rather
than the authorities having to prove them false.
Some have already been forced out of the country, others denied permission
to return after going abroad to visit families and friends, locked up in
immigration detention, lost jobs and homes, been refused urgent medical
treatment, lost driving licences and had bank accounts closed.
The children of the Windrush generation are part of a much wider group
of victims of the 'hostile environment' brought in by Theresa May's 2014
Immigration Act which introduced draconian and discriminatory provisions
and changed the legal immigration landscape.
Speakers, included a number of local Brixton community workers, activists
and councillors and Diane Abbott MP, one of 8 Labour MPs who voted against
the 2014 Act pointing out it would cause the kind of problems which have
now come to public notice. Speakers also condemned the destruction of vital
historical documents including landing cards from the Empire Windrush and
other vessels which would have been an important resource not just to prove
the right of some to live here, but also as a part of the Black Cultural
Archives in front of which the protest took place.
City of London, Wed 18 April 2018
The new bridge over London Wall
Back in 1947 when architect Charles Holden and planner William Holford
were looking at the reconstruction of the City of London after the destruction
during the war they put forward an ambitious scheme to separate pedestrians
from traffic, with elevated 'pedways'.
These were incorporated into major new schemes such as the Barbican, and
during the 1950s and 1960s the provision of these first-floor walkways was
a requirement for all major redevelopments. But they were costly to build
and most were relatively little used, partly because there were only limited
areas where they gave coherent routes. There was no overall plan, and considerable
opposition to any links which would have required demolition or extensive
alteration of existing buildings. The system was left with quite a few dead
When I began to photograph the city intensively in the 1980s there were
still a number of these walkways still around, and there are still odd bits
of the system today, but only a few parts remain in use. Best known are
of course those around the Barbican, where routes are still marked with
yellow lines to help people find their way from nearby tube stations to
the skillfully hidden Barbican Arts Centre.
From near the back of the Guildhall two highwalks led to bridges across
London Wall to St Alphage Highwalk, one replaced in the 1980s and the walkway
incorporated into the Alban Gate building over London Wall. I often walked
and photographed the area around these highwalks. The area around the St
Alphage Highwalk included gardens and a number of low 'kiosks' including
shops and commercial premises, but has recently been redeveloped with tall
During the redevelopment the highwalks in the area disappeared, but they
have now been replaced with a new system with a new bridge across London
Wall open to the public. I think it was this bridge that caused some problems,
as when it was built it was found to be only 5.3 metres above the roadway,
rather than the 5.41m which had been given planning permission. Apparently
the difference of a little over 4 inches was because the designers had omitted
to take the weight of the bridge into consideration when calculating its
height, and its suspension method means this drags it down by this amount.
At first the City asked to developers to raise it, but this wasn't practicable
and eventually they decided to accept it after having got them to produce
an assessment of the impact of a high vehicle on it.
Although the new buildings along London Wall are not attractive, the new
walkway seems rather an improvement on the old, giving some interesting
views, particularly of the Salter's building and garden and the ruins of
St Alphage and its gardens, on which work is not quite complete.
'Time to Twig' Masked Ball
Marylebone, London. Wed 18 Apr 2018
They hold large photographs showing forest clear cutting
and some of the animals that are lost
Environmental group Biofuelwatch hold their 'Time to Twig' Masked Ball
Forest Flashmob outside the Marylebone hotel where the largest international
biomass conference was taking place.
Biomass, such as that supplied by Enviva to the UK's Drax power station,
comes from clear cutting unique ecosystems in the southern US, creating
large scale environmental degradation and dumping toxic dust near communities,
turning forests into sawdust pellets.
Environmental scientists are now virtually united in condemning the practice
which destroys the only known large-scale method of removing carbon dioxide
from the atmosphere, the forest, agreeing, as one of the speakers noted,
with the commonsense which even primary school children appreciate.
Wood burning returns carbon dioxide to the air which has taken the forests
hundreds of years to remove. The protesters call for an end to this ridiculous
industry, and the immediate cessation of the totally inappropriate environmental
subsidy for this destructive and highly polluting practice.
Indians protest President Modi's visit
Parliament Square, London. Wed 18 Apr 2018
The Indian flag turned out to be very difficult to
London, UK. 18th April 2018. Kashmiris and Indians from many sections of
the community including Tamils, Sikhs, Ravidass, Dalits, Muslims and others
came to Parliament Square in protest against Prime Minister Narendra Modi
who they say is pursuing policies dictated by the ultra-fight Hindu supremacist
RSS. They want an end to his encouragement of mob violence against other
religious communities, particularly Muslims and Christians, to his protection
of rapists, to the promotion of caste hierarchy and persecution of Dalits,
the assassinations of political opponents, the attacks on the free press
and judicial system, the promotion of corporate plunder by global mining
companies and for an end to the atrocities and occupation of Kashmir.
Hindus support Modi
Parliament Square, London. Wed 18 Apr 2018
A man holds up a scarf of President Modi's BJP party
Several hundred Indians, some carrying scarves in support of Prime Minister
Narendra Modi's right-wing Hindu nationalist BJP party protested noisily
against the thousands who were gathering across the road in Parliament Square
against his visit to the UK for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.
A line of police on both sides of the road kept the two groups apart.
Save Girl, Educate Girl
Parliament Square, London. Wed 18 Apr 2018
The women carried placards with President Modi's face
on one side and 'Save Girl Educate Girl' on the other
Prime Minister Narendra Modi's ‘Beti Bachao Beti Padhao' initiative
(Save girl child, educate a girl child) was celebrated by a group of Hindu
women, mainly wearing red sarees, in Parliament Square.
They carried placards of the 'Save Girl, Educate Girl' women empowerment
and education campaign, with a portrait of Modi on the reverse. police quickly
shepherded them out from the square where several thousand were gathering
to show their opposition to Modi's visit.
Stop & Scrap Universal Credit say DPAC
Parliament, London. Wed 18 Apr 2018
DPAC and friends were joined by some of the protesters
against Modi when they blocked the road
Campaigners from DPAC (Disabled People Against Cuts), MHRN (Mental Health
Resistance Network), Black Triangle Winvisible and others began their nationwide
day of action against Universal Credit in London with a rally in Old Palace
Yard and a protest inside Parliament.
After those who had been protesting inside joined those outside, the rally
continued for a short while before marching to Parliament Square, where
they blocked the road for over half an hour before ending their protest.
They say the Universal Credit has so many flaws it must be scrapped and
call it "an economic and political disaster bringing further distress
and impoverishment to those forced to endure it", pointing out
it has been particularly disastrous for disabled people. Among various problems
which impact them, the removal of Severe and Enhanced Disability Premiums
means single disabled people lose around £2,000 per year and a disabled
couple over £4,000.
Grenfell silent walk - 10 months on
Kensington, London. Sat 14 Apr 2018
'Tories have blood on their hands' but the silent
march seems to have had little impact
People including many who lost family and friends at Grenfell take
part in a silent walk marking 10 months since the disaster.
The marchers met at Kensington Town Hall to stress that they hold Kensington
and Chelsea Council responsible for the tragedy and for failing to deal
effectively with is aftermath, with many survivors still not properly rehoused.
They want justice with those responsible being brought to trial, for the
community concerns to be heard and for changes to be made to ensure safety
for all, particularly those living in social housing. The march started
immediately after a bikers United Ride for Grenfell ride rode past on its
way to Parliament.
Some of those supporting the march feel that the silent march is not being
effective and is too easily ignored. They argue that to get justice it will
have to become more political and more militant.
Bikers for Grenfell
Kensington Town Hall, London. Sat 14 Apr 2018
Bikers ride past the crowd waiting to start the silent
march at Kensington Town Hall
Bikers from the Ace Cafe including Muslim bikers Deen Riders and others
took part in a United Ride 4 Grenfell, from the Ace Cafe on the North Circular
Rd, riding to Parliament and then coming to Kensington Town Hall.
They rode past the crowd waiting to start the march from the town hall
to cheers and applause, making a loud noise. The monthly silent walk marking
10 months since the Grenfell fire disaster began immediately after the ride-past.
Hizb Ut-Tahrir protest against Turkey
Turkish Embassy, Belgrave Sq, London. Sat 14 Apr 2018
Men stand at the front of the protest opposite the
Turkish embassy, with women in a group at the back
Hizb Ut-Tahrir Britain protested opposite the Turkish Embassy against
Turkish complicity in handing Syria back to Assad in accordance with colonial
Their criticism of Turkey goes back to the 1922 abolition of the Ottoman
state and the Turkish recognition of the Zionist occupation of Palestine
in 1949, and accuse President Erdogan of strengthening Turkish military
and economic ties with Israel. They claim the Turkish state is a secular
state "whose role is to protect the colonialist’s interests in
our lands, defending and strengthening our enemies who murder us in Syria
and Palestine" and call on "Muslims to join us to STAND, STRUGGLE
AND SACRIFICE FOR PALESTINE."
The protest was on 27th Rajab in the Islamic calendar, the night when the
Prophet made a night journey to al-Aqsa (Jerusalem) and called on Muslims
to support the brave people of Palestine who "are raising their
voices to speak out and protest against the illegal occupation, as they
are mercilessly killed by the Zionist regime."
Hizb Ut-Tahrir call of a restoration of what Sunni Muslims call the Khilafah
Rashidah, the "Rightly Guided" rule of the four caliphs
who succeeded the Prophet in a 30 year reign when Muslim armies conquered
much of the Middle East.
The Landlords' Game
Mayfair, Belgravia & Brompton, London. Sat 14 Apr 2018
The tour stops in front of the offices of a company
whose boss founded an organisation to oppose the RSPB
A tour of London's wealthiest areas, led by the Land Justice Network
reminded people that land ownership in Britain is one of the most unequal
in the world, both in rural areas and in cities.
The tour began in Westminster, largely owned by the Duke of Westminster,
stopping at relevant points on the Grosvenor Estate and Park Lane. In Hyde
Park we heard more about the enclosures and the fight for public access
to parks and open spaces.
From there we crossed Knightsbridge and went on to Grosvenor Crescent,
said to be the most expensive street in London, with an average house price
of £16.9m and into Belgrave Square for more information and speeches.
The tour ended with a rally in Cadogan Square, part of he 93 acres of the
Cadogan Estate, the wealthiest part of Kensington & Chelsea .
Unequal ownership of land is the basis of the class system and the aggregation
of wealth and inequality that have led to our present crisis levels of homelessness
and degradation. Largely beginning with the Norman conquest, the battles
over land have continued over the centuries, with the enclosure of common
land and the current redevelopment of public land, particularly council
estates, as private housing for the wealthy.
Ditch the Deal say NHS Staff
Department of Health, London. Fri 13 Apr 2018
Jeremy Hunt looks pleased with himself on the screen
as NHS workers protest in the Dept of Health foyer
A group of NHS staff from hospitals across London briefly staged a
token occupation of the foyer of the Department of Health in Victoria St
to show their opposition to the proposed pay deal for all NHS staff except
doctors, dentists and very senior managers.
Leaked information about the deal has caused widespread outrage, showing
that for most staff it means a rise under predicted inflation over the three
year period and will cut holiday entitlements. After sitting in the foyer
for a short period they walked out for a group photograph on the pavement
The deal also includes an appraisal process, which staff not at the top
of their pay band must complete in order to progress to their next pay point.
Both shadow chancellor John McDonnell and shadow health secretary Jonathan
Ashworth have spoken out against the proposals and those protesting want
all those involved in the NHS to ditch the deal and take action for a satisfactory
Don't Bomb Syria protests
Downing St, London. Fri 13 Apr 2018
crowd blocks Whitehall outside Downing St and shouts at Theresa May not
to bomb Syria
Stop the War and Syrians protested at Downing St calling for Theresa
May to stop her plans to bomb Syria with the USA and France following the
reports of a chemical weapon attack there.
Stop the War went across to Downing St and tried to hand in a letter signed
by MPs, trade unionists and others. But to get through security you need
to apply several days in advance, and only Emma Dent Coad as an MP could
enter to take the letter in.
Stop the War held a rally on the opposite side of Whitehall until 6pm,
with speeches from Stop the War activists, along with Kate Hudson of CND
and Ben Griffin of Veterans for Peace. Most of those present had expected
a larger protest with a wider range of speakers, and stayed on after the
end. Noisy chanting continued and there were a few short speeches using
a PA system which people from Inminds Palestinian Prisoners Campaign had
brought along after their protest on the SOuth Bank.
Syrians had applied for permission to protest at 6pm, but although a number
of them had come earlier and had joined in the Stop the War protest, the
people leading their protest had not yet arrived.
Most of those present crossed the road to protest outside Downing St before
blocking both carriageways of Whitehall. After some minutes police pushed
the protesters on the southbound carriageway back onto the pavement including
the Syrian surgeon who had got their permission to protest and wanted to
do so on the street rather than on the pavement. Police had other ideas
and eventually forced him and the others onto the pavement where the Syrian
People were still sitting and blocking traffic on the other carriageway
when I left, but police reinforcements had arrived and it looked as if the
road would soon be cleared.
Palestinian Prisoners Day protest
South Bank, London. Fri 13 Apr 2018
A campaigner holds a tall pole flying two large Palestinian
A vigil on the South Bank of the River Thames on Palestinian Prisoners
Day highlights the plight of the roughly 6,500 Palestinians currently in
Israeli jails, around 350 of them children.
The protesters included several Palestinians and were joined by an anti-zionist
ultra-orthodox Jew. Their display included an actual size drawing of an
Israeli underground prison cell in which children are held in isolation
as well as several banners and a series of posters detailing the involvement
of HP in maintaining the apartheid regime.
The protesters handed out leaflets and talked with those walking by, and
speeches gave facts about the prisoners. In two months this year alone 1319
were imprisoned, including 274 children, 23 women and four journalists.
Over 500 of these prisoners are currently held indefinitely without charge
or trial under administrative detention orders. Physical torture during
interrogation is standard practice, even for children, and many are sexually
abused; since 1967, 72 prisoners have been tortured to death.
As a part of the Israeli 'apartheid' system, Palestinians are not tried
by the Israeli civil courts but by military tribunals with a 99.74% conviction
rate. Since 1967, roughly 1 in 5 of the entire Palestinian population have
been held in prison at some time.
The protest, organised by Inminds human rights group, called for a boycott
of Israeli goods and of companies including HP who are complicit by supplying
the IT infrastructure which runs the Israeli prisons and torture dens.
Great March of Return - Stop the Killing
Downing St, London. Sat 7 Apr 2018
2000 protesters packed the area opposite Downing St
A protest at Downing St condemned the shooting by Israeli snipers of
peaceful unarmed Palestinian protesters on the first day of a peaceful protest,
the Great March of Return, at the separation wall in Gaza on Land Day, 30th
Live fire by the Israeli army on Land Day killed 17 and wounded over 750
unarmed protesters. A further nine Palestinians including one journalist
were killed yesterday and 1,350 injured, around 400 by live fire, with around
25 in a critical condition. The protests continue every Friday until Nakba
Day on May 15th.
There were many speeches condemning the Israeli killings, calling for an
end to the siege of Gaza and for peace and a just settlement implementing
the UN resolution allowing refugees to return to their homes and for the
UK government to condemn the Israeli actions.
The only MP to speak was from Sinn Fein, and Baroness Jenny Tonge the only
representative of the Lords (in her speech she asked any MPs or Lords to
raise their hands - and none were raised) but messages of support were read
from Jeremy Corbyn and Caroline Lucas. With parliament in recess for Easter
many MPs will have been on holiday, but it seems more likely that it was
the threat of being accused of anti-semitism that kept more away as we are
now living in a situation where any criticism of Israel or support for Palestine
gets pounced on by a small but vocal group and magnified by the media.
There was a small group of right-wing extremists just a few yards along
Whitehall - I counted six when I visited them briefly - waving Israeli flags
and shouting slogans in support of the shootings and against Hamas, but
they were simply ignored - probably few in the large crowd at the protest
heard or saw them.
There were many Jews at the protest, some wearing the badge of Jewish Voice
for Labour, others supporters of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and other
groups, some just individuals wanting to show their shame at the actions
of the Israeli government. A speaker from Jewdas recited a prayer for peace
in Hebrew and then in English translation, and Glen Secker of JVL spoke.
At the end of the protest the names of those murdered last week were read
out and there was a two minute silence honouring them. The London protest
was organised by the Friends of Al-Aqsa, Palestine Solidarity Campaign,
Palestinian Forum in Britain and Stop the War, and supported by EuroPal,
Olive and Muslim Association of Britain.
Lea Valley Walk
Harpenden to Hatfield, Herts. Wed 4 Apr 2018
Stone bridge across The Broadwater (the River Lea)
at Brocket Park - James Paine 1772-4 Grade II* listed
With some of my family I walked from Harpenden to Hatfield, more or
less following the published Lea Valley Walk, with some minor diversions.
We had planned to do this walk a couple of weeks ago, but cancelled it
twice because of bad weather. Wednesday the forecast wasn't hopeful, but
it turned out to be rather better, with only one short period of heavy rain,
though much of the time it was overcast with the occasional spit of rain.
It's around a mile from Harpenden station to the path which starts beside
the River Lea and then goes a little up a hillside and for a kilometer or
so along a former railway bed, before diverting up a hillside and through
fields to Wheathampstead. The path was waymarked in places and mainly follows
We spent some time in Wheathampsted Church, and I sat on a seat and ate
my sandwiches in the churchyard, finishing them just as it started to rain
more seriously. I took a little walk around the centre of the town (or village)
in the only heavy rain we saw while the others stayed in the church. The
footpath goes on close to the river, but most of the bank is private, owned
by angling clubs, and the river meanders sometimes a couple of hundred metres
distant. At Waterend a Roman Road crosses the Lea, with a shallow ford,
which we walked through, though there is a footbridge, but the path stays
on the north bank, so we walked back. It starts on the river bank but soon
departs from it and is at times out of sight.
Another short diversion took us back to the river to admire the Flint Bridge,
and unusual structure, inside which we sheltered for a few minutes from
another shower before returning to to path which climbs steeply up a hill
and on to a golf course. There appeared to be only one solitary golfer on
the course, just walking back to his car as we made our way across, so there
were no balls to avoid.
The path here goes past Brocket Hall, a Grade I-listed classical country
house built around 1760, notable mainly for its size. But the estate was
laid out to provide a suitable location for a grand house, with a dam making
the the river here into a wide lake 'The Broadwater', and across this a
Grade II* listed Palladian bridge from 1772-4. The grounds are now two golf
courses, the second added by the current lessees.
Brocket Hall gained some notoriety when owned by the Lamb family, with Lady
Caroline Lamb, the wife of Lord Melbourne but better known for her affair
with Lord Byron, organised a state banquet for her husband's birthday in
which she was served naked in a large silver tureen. In 1923 the estate
was bought brewery owner Sir Charles Nall-Cain who was made Baron Brocket
ten years later. His son, the second Baron was a Nazi sympathiser and was
interned in the Second World War and the house was taken over as a maternity
hospital. The third Baron Brocket leased the estate to the Club Corporation
of Asia on a long lease until at least 2050while he was serving a prison
sentence for insurance fraud. They converted the house into a conference
centre and laid out the second golf course.
There is a good view from the footpath of the bridge across the lake, but
we decided to make a detour to get a closer view, taking another footpath
to rejoin the Lea Walk just before reaching Lemsford Mill. It's hard to
see why this is not the official route. There appears to be no truth behind
the story that this is the old mill often sung about by cliched drunks,
and Nellie Dean, if she existed, was almost certainly American rather than
The route goes across fields to the Great North Road, meeting it close to
the bridge over the Lea. Our guides (one a first edition and the other recently
bought) both then show the route going straight across this and then under
the A1(M) to Stanborough Park, but the approved route apparently now diverts
down the Great North Road. There is still a sign (rather hidden) on the
opposite side where the path meets the road for the old route, and we followed
this. There are some short steep muddy slopes, with the remains of some
steps to get to the bottom of the bridge under the motorway, and the path
leading under this is in places covered by water. It wasn't very deep, but
enough to just go over the edges of the low boots I was wearing.
But if you can, it's better to go this way and walk through the north end
of Stanborough Park than along the road, and you can walk close to the river
for much of the way, following it under the main road to get to the southern
part of the park before turning off at the end of the lake to go to a bridge
under the railway line. The walk down past Woodhall farm is rather boring,
and leads to the A1000, where we walked to a bus stop for a bus to St Albans.
Altogether, with a little wandering in places, we'd covered around ten miles
which was enough for me.
CND At 60 at Aldermaston
Aldermaston, Berkshire. Sun 1 Apr 2018
Rebecca Johnson holds up a copy of the UN treaty banning
CND celebrated the 60th anniversary of the first Aldermaston march
which mobilised thousands against the Bomb and shaped radical protest for
generations with a rally at the main gate of the now privatised Atomic Weapons
Their protest outside the Atomic Weapons Establishment included a giant
version of their name and iconic peace symbol, speeches, including by some
of those on the original march, singing and drumming and it celebrated the
UN treaty banning nuclear weapons, finalised last year and signed by 122
nations, for which ICAN, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons,
of which CND is a part was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
Among the speakers was Rebecca Johnson of CND and ICAN who held up a copy
of the treaty and the replica of the Nobel award and urged everyone to keep
up the pressure on the UK government to sign the treaty, pointing out that
past governments had professed support for multilateral nuclear disarmament
such as this treaty, and that Britain's nuclear expertise would give opportunities
for greater earnings from disarmament than from bomb-making. Walter Wolfgang,
now in his 90s, and one of the organisers of the first Aldermaston march,
spoke as did a woman who had been taken on it by her parents, while veteran
peace campaigner Bruce Kent recalled how he had cursed it as a young cleric
in Kensington as it blocked the road for several hours and disrupted the
schedule of four weddings he was conducting, going on to tell us of his
conversion to nuclear disarmament not long afterwards. Antony Owen told
us of his experiences speaking with those who survived the Nagasaki bomb
and read two poems from his book 'The Nagasaki Elder' which had many of
us listening in tears. Music came from the samba band Tribo and the Welsh
socialist choir Côr Cochion.
At the end of the event faith groups held a vigil and people pinned doves
with peace messages to the AWE security fence. The campaign continues to
get the UK and other nuclear nations to ratify the UN treaty and reap the
benefits of peace and employment from getting rid of its nuclear weapons.
Fortunately despite some days of bad weather leading up to the event and
terrible forecasts for the following week, it was a fine day, mild for the
time of year and with no wind, but some reasonable periods of sun, considerably
better than had been predicted, and my bike ride from Reading station and
back (12 miles each way) was a pleasant one.
A dramatic sky over the South Bank as I make my way home
This months oddments include pictures are mainly pictures from buses, along
with a few from a longer than usual visit to see my (and your) pictures
in our National Gallery, which was even more crowded with tourists on a
wet Saturday afternoon, but I photographed a couple of old favourites and
two I'd not noticed before.
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