70 years of Human Rights
US Embassy, London. Mon 10 Dec 2018
Some of the protesters in front of the US Embassy
The final 'Shut Guantanamo!' monthly protest of 2018 at the US
Embassy by the London Guantanamo Campaign took place on the 70th anniversary
of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).
The UDHR, which is the foundation of the modern human rights movement,
declared "No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman
or degrading treatment or punishment" and "No one shall
be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile."
Clearly the USA is in breach of these and other articles of the UDHR, and
has been since it set up the illegal prison camp on Cuban soil and used
illegal rendition to bring prisoners there and in the various secret military
torture facilities it has had in Afghanistan and elsewhere. Guantanamo still
has 40 detainees who have been tortured and held in indefinite detention
without trial for almost 17 years. The protest called for justice and release
for them and other and victims of human rights abuses everywhere.
Marchers oppose Tommy Robinson
London. Sun 9 Dec 2018
A little red smoke livens up the march
A 'united' counter demonstration by anti-fascists marches in opposition
to Tommy Robinson's fascist march. The march which included both remain
and leave supporting anti-fascists gathered at the BBC to to to a rally
at Downing St. Police had issued conditions on both events designed to keep
them well apart from the fascist pro-Brexit march.
Originally two different groups of organisations had been planning to hold
separate protests against Robinson, but Unite Against Fascism and Stand
Up to Racism appealed to the other groups including several Brazilian groups
and various anti-fascists who had successfully blocked a previous Robinson
march to join them in a united protest.
Unfortunately agreements that were made about how the march should proceed
were apparently ignored by the UAF and SUTR, leaving the anti-fascists angry
about what appeared to be a complete takeover of the event. Some anti-fascists
clashed with Robinson supporters who had come to Trafalgar Square to try
to disrupt the march and a large group of anti-fascist marchers ignored
the rally taking place with speakers they felt dominated by the Socialist
Workers Party and allied organisations.
This bloc decided to leave Whitehall in a group to disperse at Charing
Cross station. At first police formed a cordon to stop them leaving, but
after a brief stand-off, the police organised to escort them there, and
I left with them.
London flooded with Santas
Covent Garden, London. Sat 8th December 2018
Santas pose for the camera in St Martin's Lane
Large crowds of people dressed in Santa costumes, together with the
odd elf and reindeer were converging on Trafalgar Square spreading glad
tidings as darkness fell, some following hand-pulled sound systems and dancing
on the streets, though many groups were diverted into pubs and food shops
on the way.
Many carried bottles or cans and all were in merry mood. Santacon had
started at 11am at several different locations and is an annual charity
event, this year supporting Christmas for Kids.
British Museum Stolen Goods Tour
British Museum, London. Sat 8th December 2018
Rodney Kelly speaks beside the Gweagal shield stolen from his ancestor by
Captain Cook at Botany Bay
A tour organised by BP or not BP? led by Indigenous Australian campaigner
Rodney Kelly and other campaigners called for the return of stolen vital
cultural objects in the British Museum collection.
Rodney Kelly is a 6th generation direct descendant of Cooman, whose Gweagal
shield was taken when Captain Cook's men arriving in Australia fired on
him. He began (and ended) his talk by playing his didgeridoo, and then talked
about how the British Museum had dismissed his earlier attempts to return
the shield and other items, and had refused to take seriously the oral tradition
of his people as it could not be confirmed by written records. In their
efforts to retain possession of the shield and other items, many of which
are kept in the museum basement and never exhibited they were prepared to
go to desperate lengths, including getting their own experts to cast doubt
on the stories which the museum had previously featured about these objects.
The shield sits in a dimly lit cupboard and is looked at by very few of
the museum's visitors, while Kelly says that 'back home' it would be at
the centre of a living culture, inspiring his people to keep and develop
A large crowd gathered to hear him speak and he was warmly applauded. Before
he began his formal talk he had been introduced by BP or not BP campaigners,
several of whom came dressed as 'burglars' in striped black and white tops
and carrying a sack for swag. Another came in a suit wearing a BP logo and
explained why BP gave the museum a relatively small amount in sponsorship
which gave them huge rewards in making them seem a responsible company despite
their reprehensible activities in countries around the world, despoiling
resources, polluting the environment and severely aggravating global warming
by encouraging fossil fuel use.
From the Gweagal shield with its musket hole the crowd followed a guide
from BP or Not BP to the entrance to the current BP-sponsored Assyrian show,
where an Iraqi woman talked about BP's role in her country and the looting
which followed the invasion of Iraq and the looting of cultural artifacts,
some of which were on display in the show.
We then moved to gather beside a stone figure from Easter Island where
a speaker from the Pacific Island arts group the Interisland Collective
talked about the treatment by museums of Maori and Pacific Islands cultural
items and read a statement from the Rapa Nui Pioneers on Easter Island calling
for the return of their stolen Moai Head.
The final location for speeches was in front of the Parthenon (Elgin) Marbles,
where BP or not NBP's Danny Chivers revealed his partly Greek ancestry and
talked about his visit to the Parthenon and the museum there which has been
built to exhibit its missing sculptures.
The tour ended with a group photograph of those who had taken part in front
of the Assyrian exhibition.
While it is great for us to be able to see these various objects looted
from their cultures in one place, the technology exists to make replicas
indistinguishable to the originals and display these while returning the
originals where they belong.
Other campaigners called for the return of objects from the Pacific Islands
and Iraq. Many of these objects have been used in 'grenwashing' BP sponsored
museum shows, including looted items from Iraq in the current Assyria exhibition.
Dharma meditation for climate
Trafalgar Square, London. Sat 8 Dec 2018
Dharma Action Network meditate but call on people
to act over climate
Protesters from the Dharma Action Network meditated in Trafalgar Square
and handed out flyers calling for people and governments to take effective
actions to combat climate change.
Their meditation was intended as a springboard to action and they suggested
people move their money out of banks which invest in fossil fuels, get informed
by reading the IPCC report on global warming and join them and other groups
including Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace or take action with Extinction
Protest Slavery in Libya
London, UK. Sat 8 Dec 2018
The protesters march from Europe House past Parliament to the Foreign&
Protesters meet at Europe House to protest against the lack of action
over African migrants and refugees being sold or held against their will
in Libya by terrorists and jihadists funded by the EU and others.
After a few speeches there, they marched to protest outside the Foreign
& Commonwealth Office, saying the UK had failed to do anything to help
because the victims were African, then stopped briefly at Downing St on
their way to the Libyan Embassy.
Winkfield, Berks. Fri 7 Dec 2018
Stables near Winkfield
Pictures from a fairly short family walk starting and finishing at
a pub in Winkfield where we had a very nice plate of fish and chips, followed
by a rather expensive pudding.
It was raining when we left home, but the weather was kind to us and it
stopped ay the time we started the walk, and the sun was shining before
we reached the end of the roughly 3 mile circular walk.
Winkfield is somewhere near Ascot, and it shows with various horsey things
around and you stand a good chance of being run down by a very expensive
car if you walk along the roads. Our route was mainly along footpaths, usually
with a fence on one side and barbed wire on the other, and little danger
of straying from the route.
The walk was on in a book, and I have to say it wasn't very exciting. Probably
the best bit photographically was going through a large '(im)mobile home'
site, though stopping around three quarters of the way around at The Winning
Post, which describes itself as ' A luxurious inn' for a drink of Upham
Brewery's 'Punter' was a bonus. We didn't eat there, though probably the
'Punter battered haddock with hand cut chips, tartare sauce and peas' would
have been as good as the 'special' we got down the road at exactly half
the price, where we had agreed to meet the others for lunch at The White
SHAC Alternative Housing Awards 2018
Bishopsgate, London. Wed 5 Dec 2018
from Unite Housing Worker's Branch after the awards were made
SHAC Social Housing Action Campaign) hold their annual Alternative
Housing Awards outside the National Housing Awards which were taking place
at etc.venues 155 Bishopsgate, part of the Broadgate development.
SHAC is a joint initiative between housing associations and co-operative
residents, housing activists and members of the Unite Housing Workers Branch
demand that housing associations end commercialisation, improve services,
provide safe and secure homes, build truly affordable housing and offer
decent pay and conditions for their staff.
The Alternative Housing Awards cups for Housing Associations as landlords
were awarded to Sanctuary Housing for Most Rotten Repairs, London &
Quadrant for Soaring Service Charges, Peabody Trust for Senseless Social
Cleansing and Dodgy Development, with a special mention for The Old Tidemill
Garden in Deptford, Notting Hill Genesis for Rocketing Rents, Optivo for
Secrecy, Unaccountability & Spin, Tower Hamlets Community Housing for
Blundering Board and Management, with Clarion Housing Group as Overall Lousy
Looking at them as employers, Catalyst were winners for Poverty Pay, St
Mungo's for Punitive Performance Management, Peabody Trust gained a second
award for its Relentless Restructures with Catalyst being awarded as Overall
As none of the Housing association bosses had turned up to receive their
awards, after the citations for one of the awards had been read by Nick
from Unite Housing Workers Branch the small trophy was instead handed to
a resident or trade unionist involved with the winning housing association,
who each made a speech of acceptance, adding more damning details of their
The protest took place on the steps leading up to 155 Bishopsgate. Security
there objected to banners being taped to the wall, worried that the gaffer
tape might cause some damage, but told the campaigners the protest could
go ahead on the private steps if these were removed - which after some argument
a giving cups to housing associations for poor repairs, service charges,
social cleansing & dodgy development, rents, lack of accountability
& spin, blundering management, poverty pay, punitive performance management,
relentless restructures and overall bullying. Nick from Unite Housing read
lengthy indictments for each award before inviting tenants and trade unionists
involved with each to speak.
BBC Boycott Eurovision Israel 2019
Broadcasting House, London. Sat 1 Dec 2018
There were around a hundred pro-Palestine protesters
listening to speeches outside the BBC
Protesters called on the BBC to withdraw from the 2019 Eurovision Song
Contest hosted by Israel, to avoid being complicit in Israel's ongoing violations
of Palestinian human rights.
The Palestine Solidarity Campaign and others say the contest 'artwashes'
Israel's human rights record, including the killing of at least 205 Palestinians
by Israeli forces in the besieged Gaza Strip since protests began at the
end of March, and the passing of the Jewish nation state law which formalises
an apartheid system in Israeli law. Also supporting the #BoycottEurovision2019
protest were the Stop The War Coalition, Palestinian Forum UK and Friends
of Al-Aqsa (FOA).
The protest was opposed by a small group of Zionists who were shouting
hate slogans against Hamas and some of whom made unfriendly gestures towards
me as I photographed them. I stayed back a little more than usual in case
they spat at me.
Together for Climate Justice
London. Sat 1 Dec 2018
The Statue of Taking Liberties at the head of the
Climate march to Downing St
Several thousand marched through London from a Campaign against Climate
Change led rally outside the Polish Embassy where grave doubts were expressed
about next week's UN climate talks in Katowice, Poland, which are being
sponsored by leading firms in Poland's fossil fuel industry.
Speakers, including Labour MP Clive Lewis, Green Party co-leader Sian Berry,
Anna Gretton from Extinction Rebellion, UCU Vice President Nita Sanghera,
Neil Keveren of the No 3rd Runway Coalition, Paul Allen from Zero Carbon
Britain, Beatriz Ratton of Brazilian Women Against Fascism, Asad Rehman
of War on Want, and Richard Roberts, fracking direct action campaigner whose
recent prison sentence for lorry surfing at Preston New Road was overturned
and was released from jail with a conditional discharge expressed solidarity
with protesters in Poland and stressed the urgent need to cut CO2 and methane
At the end of the rally we were all taught to say a couple of slogans in
Polish, including 'Razem dla klimatu' (Together for the Climate) which appeared
on a number of placards, and the rather less pronounceable Polish for 'Time
to limit to 1.5', as well as for 'Climate, jobs, justice!'.
The march then set off, going through the centre of London to Downing at
where there was a further rally with speeches from Labour MP Barry Gardiner,
Liz Hutchins of Friends of the Earth, a woman from Frack Free United and
a final speech by Claire James of Campaign against Climate Change who introduced
a speaker on behalf of the Global South, where people are already dying
because of climate change.
Stop Universal Credit day of action
Camden Town, London. Sat 1 Dec 2018
Some stood with banners while others handed out leaflets
to the many passing by
Protesters in Camden Town handed out leaflets in one of many nationwide
protests in a day of action called by Unite Community to stop Universal
They want an end to the long wait before claimants receive money, for applications
to be at job centres as well as online, better help when the system fails
people, direct payments to landlords to avoid rent arrears and evictions
and an end to benefit sanctions for all claimants.
For those in the many areas that have been moved on to Universal Credit
in the previous week, the move will hit them particularly hard, with the
normal six week waiting time meaning they and their families will have no
money over Christmas. UC has created incredible hardship, pushing many into
extreme poverty and destitution, making them reliant on food banks and street
food distributions, greatly increasing the number of homeless and rough
sleepers. Thanks to Tory policies, more than 120,000-plus homeless children
in Britain will spend Christmas in hostels and B&Bs, many without the
means or facilities to provide a Christmas meal.
Some have said that UC is a part of a "state euthanasia" system
for the poor, with academic estimates that it and other benefit cuts and
sanctions since the 2010 elections having caused 110,000 early deaths, including
many suicides. A cross party committee has called for its rollout to be
halted until improvements are made, but the government has dismissed virtually
all criticism of the system, making only insignificant changes.
While the government's policies have led to a huge growth in the number
of foodbanks and the demand on them, the only Conservative response has
been to encourage MPs to make festive visits to them with donations for
publicity photographs, something that has sickened
The main banner here points out that it hands more financial power to male
claimants making it a misogynist's dream, forcing women in violent relationships
into greater dependency on their violent male partners.
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