my london diary index
 

January 2009

Tamils March Against Sri Lankan Genocide
Gaza: Protest March from the BBC
Three Mills Loop Walk
Olympic site panorama
Tamils protest Sri Lankan Genocide
Gaza: 1000 Dead and Nothing Said
No Third Runway Decision Day Flashmob
Guantanámo - 7 Years
Hizb ut-Tahrir Britain Gaza march
Blessing the Thames
Gaza Massacre - National March
Daily Gaza protest at Israeli Embassy
Italian Garden & Princess Diana Fountain
Ashura Procession, London
Hands Off Gaza: Free Palestine
Open the Gaza Border - Egyptian Embassy
London New Years Day Parade

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Stock photography by Peter+Marshall at Alamy

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All pictures Copyright © Peter Marshall 2009, all rights reserved.
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Tamils March Against Sri Lankan Genocide

Westminster, London. Saturday 31 Jan, 2009

The Sri Lankan Army is killing women and children in its attacks in Sri Lanka
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Sri Lanka is another of our colonial cockups. In the nineteenth century we decided it was handier to treat the two ancient kingdoms of Ceylon as a single unit, combining the Tamils and the Sinhalese areas, and when we gave the island of Ceylon independence in 1948 failed to realise the problems this would cause.

Buddhist Sinhalese make up 70% of the island's population, and this gave them control of the parliament we set up, without proper safeguards for the 30% largely Hindu Tamil minority. From the start the Tamils were discriminated against, with more than a million being made stateless, and the Sinhalese began in various ways to dominate. Tamil language and culture was marginalised and most Tamils were removed from the civil service as they were not fluent in Sinhala.

The government encouraged riots by Buddhist Sinhalese against the Tamils and many were killed, and this was followed over the years by many massacres, some carried out by government forces. Land reforms took land away from many Tamils in some areas of the country, forcing them to move. The position of the Tamils was made clear when the government declared the country to be a Buddhist republic, giving it the name Sri Lanka.

Various Tamil liberation movements opposed the government and much of the Tamil area became essentially self-governing, leading to what became essentially a civil war between the government and the Tamil Tigers - and the government even managed to get the Indian army to come and fight on their side for a while. Various international attempts have been made over the past decade to broker peace, particularly by Norway, but all have failed and the Sri Lankan Army and Air Force have continued to attack Tamil regions, causing most of the population to flee from the cities into the jungle. Many civilians have been killed by the air attacks, and there has been a systematic killings of politicians, journalists, human rights activists and aid workers.

Many Tamils have fled the country, and about 2-300,000 are now resident in the UK. Perhaps of third of them were in London for the demonstration, which while I was there was slowing making its way - and a great deal of noise - along the agreed route past the Houses of Parliament, calling for the UK government take action and for the media to give the genocide in Sri Lanka the attention it deserves. After I had gone a number of the marchers staged a sit-in on Westminster Bridge, closing it for several hours.

It was noticeable that there were few if any photographers from the daily press covering the event, and I saw no UK TV crews. There was no mention of what was almost certainly the largest UK demonstration since the anti-Iraq war march of February 2003 on the BBC radio news or on its web site when I looked late that evening. I wrote at more length about the situation in Sri Lanka in Tamils March in London - BBC Fails Again on >Re:PHOTO, as well as on Indymedia and NowPublic, but there are more pictures on this site.
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Gaza: Protest March from the BBC

Portland Place to Trafalgar Square, London. Sat 24 Jan 2009

George Galloway applauds a speaker at the rally in Portland Place
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The march for Gaza was planned to start with a protest at Broadcasting House and a rally in Portland Place to draw attention to the biased reporting of the Israeli attack by the BBC. It called for an end to the blocade and arms sales to Israel, for a free Palestine and for Israli war criminals to be brought to justice.

The BBC bosses then scored a clear own goal, making their pro-Israel position crystal clear to the nation by refusing to run the Disasters Emergency Committee appeal for humanitarian relief for Gaza. The decision was widely seen as a failure by the BBC to uphold its reputation for impartiality, despite more than curious assertion that this was why they decided to turn down the request by the major charities.

The event started with a press conference on the pavement outside Broadcasting House, after which a deputation led by Tony Benn delivered a letter of protest to the BBC. The we went a hundred yards or so up the road for a lengthy rally, beofre starting the march past Broadcasting House to Trafalgar Square.

The Press Association reported this press conference as the demonstration, giving a number of 400 people which has been widely reported - while there were around 10,000 demonstrators (5000 according to the police.)

Some people had brought old shoes to throw, and others carried dolls or packages swathed in white bandages and most of these were left on the roadway outside broadcasting house. It was a peaceful demonstration although at the start there was a bit of shoving by police to move demonstrators and photographers away from Broadcasting House, and those throwing shoes took care to avoid the police. Who were present in large numbers throoughout the event.

Later, close to Piccadilly Circus, a few people were taken away by police to some of the many waiting vans, and the march halted for ten minutes or so threatening to remain there unless arrests stopped. But soon it was on its way again to Trafalgar Square for the final rally. It had originally been planned to go there past Downing Street, but the route was changed before the march started.
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Three Mills Loop Walk

Bromley by Bow, Stratford etc, London. Sunday 18 Jan. 2009
Three Mills, Bromley by Bow
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The Three Mills Loop Walk is a monthly walk from Three Mills, on the Greenway through the centre of the Olympic site to the Lea Navigation, then along the Hertford Union canal before turning south and heading back for Bow. You can find more details on line, and the group also organise other walks. It would make an excellent introduction to the area for those who don't know it, and was a pleasant afternoon's light exercise, and good for once to be walking with other people.

I first walked around here in the early 1980s, although things have changed rather from those early days. You can see a few pictures from then on my River Lea web site, along with more from the last ten years. Since work began on the Olympic site I've been back most months to take pictures. There are some more pictures of Three Mills here and here - as well as other pages on the site.

After the walk ended I took a few more pictures around the area, including one of the works for the new lock on the Prescott channel, though I couldn't yet see a great deal. Despite great hopes about how this was going to save thousands of lorry journeys to and from the Olympic construction area, it seems likely not to be used, and simply to be a white elephant - rather a sorry start to the Olympic legacy.
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Olympic site panorama

Stratford Marsh, Sunday 18 Jan 2009

Original image is about 10,000 pixels wide and a 68Mb fiie.

If you've not managed to see the Olympic site recently, here's a roughly 180 degree view - the wall at left is the same wass as at the right. There were some fine clouds on Sunday, so it seemed an opportunity not to miss. The full size version is rather too large to put on line but the link below goes to a large enough version to view, along with a second slightly less wide image taken from a few metres further on.

More pictures from the Three Mills Loop walk I was on shortly.
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Tamils protest Sri Lankan Genocide

Downing St, London. Saturday 17 Jan, 2009

Tamils protest genocide and call for an independent Tamil state
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On the opposite site of Whitehall to Downing St while the demonstrators about Gaza were delivering a letter there, another demonstration was taking place, with a densely packed pen of several hundred Tamils.

The Tamils were there to draw attention to the continuing attacks on Tamil civilians, schools, hospitals and churches by the Sri Lankan Army and Air Force and to call for an independent Tamil state, Tamil Eelam, in Sri Lanka. They accuse the Sri Lankan government of genocide, and claim that in the past month alone over 300,000 Tamils have been forced to move out of their homes by the bombardment.

The killing of Tamils has been mentioned on My London Diary on previous occasions, with a five-day fast in Parliament Square by Thaya Idaikkadar in June 2006 and the leafleting by Tamils in Central London last October, but certainlyit has seldom made an impression in the mainstream media, although I came home to find a double page in today's newspaper following the killing of Lasantha Wickrematunge, editor of Sri Lanka's The Sunday Leader and the publication of the remarkable column he wrote in anticipation of his assassination.

Last October I wrote "International media are banned from the Tamil areas of the country and NGOs have been ordered out of some areas, so there are few reports of the war. The Tamils allege that over 100,000 Tamils have been killed, over a million have fled the country and another half million have fled their homes inside Sri Lanka - half of these in the last three months."
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1000 Dead and Nothing Said – End the Slaughter of Gaza

Trafalgar Square, London. 16 Jan 2009

A militant burns an Israeli flag in at the rally in Trafalgar Square.
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Well over a thousand Palestinians have been killed in the past three weeks by Israeli attacks on Gaza including some 300 children - and attacks have included those on known UN installations where people were sheltering - with a top UN official today calling for war crime investigation into the shellilng of a school. In the same time around 13 Israelis have also died, four of them killed by its own army.

So it was hardly surpising that Trafalgar Square was fairly full for today's rally against the Israeli attacks, with perhaps 5-10,000 people - although this was only a small fraction of the number at last week's national demonstration.

A few hours after the demonstration, news was released that Israel was to announce a ceasefire on its own terms. Unfortunately we can be sure that these terms will mean no justice for Palestine, welcome though what seems likely to be a temporary respite in the killings may be.

I arrived just as - so often in the Square - Tony Benn was being announced and rightly given a huge welcome. One of the greatest political figures of the last 50 years, it's a national tragedy that while he has so often been right on major issues, governments have seldom if ever followed his lead.

Most of those attending listened to all the speakers with respect and applauded enthusiastically, though a small section of the crown attracted rather more than its share of press atttention with its noisy animatio and gestures such as burning Isrqaeli flags and teariong up placards carrying pictures og George Bush (what will we do after Obama takes over next week?)

As well as a number of polictical sppeches from a wide range of speakers there were two contributions that particularly moved me. One was a polished speech by an 11 year old Palestine girl, now living in Manchester, and another was the Palestinian singer Reem Kelani (who also grew up in Manchester) who led the crowd in singing a Palestinian song, written in the 1930s but since then appropriated by others that she wants to reclaim for Palestine.

On the stone steps behind the speakers were a group of children all dressed in white robes marked with bloody red handprints, keeping our minds on the children slaughtered in Gaza. After Kelani had sung, they came down from the plinth and went with a deputation to take a letter from the rally to Downing St, calling for an immediate ceasefire and reparations for the war damage inflicted by the Israeli attacks.

I went with them down Whitehall to Downing St, where police led them into a pen close to the gates. While a delegation of six, including Diane Abbott, MP, Betty Hunter, PSC General Secretary. Lindsay German of Stop the War and others took the letter into Downing St, the children posed for pictures, as first standing, and then lying on the ground as if the innocent victims of an Israeli attack; but these children were just playing dead.
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No Third Runway Decision Day Flashmob

Terminal 5, Heathrow Airport, London. Saturday 17 Jan, 2009

Some of the several hundred protesters in the Departures area of Terminal 5
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Following the government decision to press ahead with airport expansion and build a third runway at Heathrow despite the environmental consequences announced earlier in the week, several hundred people turned up at Terminal 5 for a 'flashmob' protest at 12 noon on Saturday.

Attracting most press attention were four brave young ladies who had saved the ten quid for a red 'STOP AIRPORT EXPANSION' t-shirt and instead opted for red body paint with a black message across their midriffs, 'Simply No Slaughter' and a pair of strategically placed gold sticking plasters proclaiming 'art' and 'port' (port was indeed on the left.)

Among them were many of the locals who have led the long term opposition to the project, including some I photographed on the march in 2003 in Sipson and Harmondsworth, as well of course as John Stewart of HACAN and local MP John McDonnell who many were congratulating for his seizure of the mace in the House of Commons when the announcement was made.

For three-quarters of an hour the demonstrators chanted, threw red balloons in the air and red tennis balls at an 'Aunt Sally' of Transport Secretary Geoff Hoon and conga'ed around the area and had there pictures taken by a large squad of photographers including some from the national press and some TV crews.

They were watched by a few of those waiting to check in and rather more police and airport security staff who made a loose ring around event. But although the atmosphere before the demonstration had appeared a little tense, with police making continued patrols through the departure area presumably looking for trouble-makers, they seemed pretty relaxed - and some were clearly amused by what was happening.

Finally Stewart thanked us all for coming, and repeated the determination of all those involved to keep up the fight to ensure that despite the decision, the runway will never be built. McDonnell was given a cheer for his action in parliament and everyone was invited to take a last chance to pelt Hoon before we all slipped away to the underground and bus stations.
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Guantanámo - 7 Years

US Embassy, Grosvenor Square, London. Sunday Jan 11, 2009

The US Flag and American Eagle above a shackled 'detainee'.
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Around 50 people attended a meeting outside the US Embassy in London on Sunday 11 Jan, 2008, to protest at the continued scandal of illegal detention and illtreatment by the US at Guantánamo Bay.

The illegal detention of prisoners and their continued mistreatment at Guantánamo has rather moved away from the top of the agenda with the election of a new US president who takes over power in a few days. So the events to mark seven years of this blot on freedom were considerably low-key compared to previous years. However it is still far from clear if Obama will keep promises made to shut down the camp and Amnesty International have launched an international 100 day campaign calling on him do so without delay and launch a full enquiry into the abuses there.

But people are still held there, including two from London, Binyam Mohamed and Shaker Aamer. Many were seized on the flimsiest of suspicions and tortured before illegal rendition to Guantánamo, and some would be subject to further imprisonment and torture if returned to their native countries simply because they had been imprisoned at Guantánamo.

Pictures like the those I took including the US Embassy in the background resulted in a police officer coming over and warning me. Apparently they are a security risk. That's security spelt "E, M, B, A, R, R, A, S, S, M, E, N, T" and surely no proper concern of the British police.

In Britain we have our own 'Guantánamo Lite' at Belmarsh prison, where terrorism suspects are kept. One of these, Mousa Brown from Walthamstow, who spoke at the embassy, spent 18 months on remand there before being acquitted by a jury. His "crime" had been to go paintballing with some friends ("military training") and to be a Muslim with a prominent beard. It was a chilling story of how ordinary, everyday activities can be interpreted as evidence of terrorist guilt.
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Hizb ut-Tahrir Britain Gaza march

Marble Arch to Arab Embassies, London. Sun Jan 11, 2009

A 'coffin' held in front of the Egyptian Embassy to mark their complicity in the Israeli killings in Gaza.
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Hizb ut-Tahrir Britain organised a march against the Israeli attacks on Gaza in London on Sunday, going to the to the Egyptian, Syrian and Saudi Embassies. As expected it was a peaceful and highly ordered event. The march, which started with a rally at Marble Arch, was particularly aimed at Arab dictators who they claim collude with Israeli terrorism.

Perhaps 2-3,000 almost entirely Muslim men and women then marched down Park Lane led by men carrying posters against the occupation of Palestine, Iraq and Afghanistan and an end of support for 'Arab puppet tyrants.' Behind these, men carried 3 black 'coffins', all with the message 'Killed in Gaza' on one side. On the other, one had 'Killed by Mubarak', the second 'Killed by King Abdullah' and the third, 'Killed by Assad.' Most women marched in a separate block led by female stewards in the centre of the demonstration.

Behind these was a large orange banner carrying the message 'Only Khalafah will Liberate Palestine.' The protesters called for all the current corrupt Muslim rulers to be replaced by a Khalifah (Caliph) who would send the armies from Muslim countries to defend Gaza and liberate Palestine.

The first call was to the Egyptian embassy in South Street, where the 'Killed by Mubarak' coffin was displayed in front of the doorway. The marchers then made their way to the Saudi Arabian embassy, a large house set back behind a garden in Charles St; here the 'Killed by King Abdullah' coffin was held up while there was a short address and some chanting. Finally the marchers went down Piccadilly and past Hyde Park Corner to Belgrave Square.

There, police had used barriers to make a small area facing the Syrian embassy for the demonstrators, but clearly it was nothing like large enough to hold them (though doubtless several times too large for the number the police would report attended.) Police and demonstrators together moved the barriers forward to double the area, but it was still far too small for the demonstrtors to pray as they had intended. After some speeches, the prayers were held with everyone remaining standing and holding up their hands.

Hizb ut-Tahrir Britain has also been organising an email campaign for Muslims to send messages to the UK Ambassadors of Egypt, Syria and Iran urging these states to send their armed forces to defend the people of Gaza.

Hizb ut-Tahrir promotes the re-establishment of the Islamic Caliphate across the Muslim world with "an elected and accountable ruler, an independent judiciary, political parties, the rule of law and equal rights for minority groups." They follow the example of the Prophet Muhammad in doing so by intellectual and political activity and not by any resort to violence.
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Blessing the Thames

London Bridge, London. Sunday 11 Jan, 2009
The Bishop of Woolwich throws a plain wooden cross into the River Thames - below another cross in the sky.
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Once again this year the congregations of the two Anglican churches at each end of London Bridge - the City church of St Magnus the Martyr and Southwark Cathedral met in procession at the centre of the bridge for a short service to bless the River Thames and all who work on the river.

You can see my pictures from last year and 2007, where I also have some more about the origins of this ceremony, which was started in 2004. I was sorry not to be able to stay for the lunch which follows it.
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Stop the Gaza Massacre - National March

Hyde Park to Israeli Embassy, London, Saturday 10 Jan, 2009

Protesters with 'Gaza - Stop the War' placard on the street opposite the Israeli Embassy

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Over 100,000 marchers turned up to Hyde Park in London on Saturday to show their opposition to the Israeli attacks on Gaza and call for an end to the killing there. As well as posters and banners, some carried dolls as a reminder of the 300 or so children already killed by the Israeli attacks in the current offensive. The massive turnout showed

Many of the placards also called for an end to the seige on Gaza imposed by Israel with the help of Egypt and the support of much of the international community after democratic elections in Gaza led to a victory for Hamas.

The police consistently underestimate the numbers of demonstrators, and at least a part of the problems that occurred came from their belief in their often ridiculously low estimates. For Saturday's demonstration the police had only planned for 15-20,000 despite the predictions of a much larger number by the organisers.

So there simply were not enough police in the right places, and there seemed to be insufficent anticipation of the totally predictable problems that would occur close to the Israeli Embassy. Rather than keep as wide a possible a route open and try to move the march past as quickly as possible to a dispersal area (it was perhaps unfortunate that the organisers were not allowed to use Kensington Gardens,) the street was narrowed to little over half its normal width by barriers and inevitably a blockage occurred, leaving around a mile and a half of marchers crowding the streets all the way back to the starting point close to Speakers Corner when the front of the march arrived there around 2.50pm.

Quite rightly, feelings run very high over Gaza and there were many who wanted to get to the Israeli Embassy and make their feelings clear. The police are charged with preserving public order - including the right to peaceful protest - but also protecting life and property.

By this time the march was led by several hundred mainly young protesters who were already clustering in front of the road leading to the embassy by the time the line of celebrities at the official front arrived and paused for a few minutes. I had no problems with the police during the event, but at this point I was assaulted by several Stop the War stewards, some of whom do seem to have a real problem with the press. They pushed me around and tried to stop me from working, although other stewards who who saw what happened did apologise to me for the treatment I received.

After they had gone past, a largely static crowd began to build up, blocking the road more or less completely and shouting towards the police guarding the road to the embassy. There seemed to be some fighting with police at the front of the crowd as demonstrators tried to climb the barriers, but I couldn't see what was happening. A few shoes were thrown in their direction, as well as some placards and the light sticks from them. A few yards down the road were a group of young men burning placards with a picture of the "World's #1 Terrorist" and I stopped briefly to take a few pictures before walking on. Further down the road things were pretty quiet, and some Muslim men were saying prayers.

It was clear that the demonstration was going to continue long into the night, and that it would become another lengthy struggle against the police outside the embassy. But I'd promised to take some pictures at another event and had to leave.
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Gaza - Daily protest at Israeli Embassy

High Street Kensington, London. Wednesday 7 January

Protesters including some ultra-orthodox Neturei Karta Jews line the road close to the Israeli Embassy
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Daily demonstrations opposite the Israel Embassy in London against the killings and injuries in Gaza continue.

By the time I had to leave around 6.30pm around 500 people had turned up to protest opposite the Israeli embassy about the continuing ground and air attacks on Gaza and its people with its ever increasing death toll - over 680 people killed in 11 days -and to call for an immediate end to Israeli aggression. Among the many Palestinians and others showing their solidarity with the Palestinian people were several ultra-orthodox Neturei Karta as well as other Jewish groups including the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network. There were several holding posters "ASHAMED TO BE AN ISRAELI!!!" and a group of supporters of Haitian human rights activist Lovinsky Pierre-Antoine (kidnapped in Haiti in 2007) who had come to the Gaza demonstration rather than their normal weekly vigil at the Brazilian Embassy.

While I was there, police were keeping the demonstrators behind a double row of barriers and keeping a single lane of traffic moving on the road in front in both directions. For a very short time I was able to photograph from the area in the front of the demonstration, but one familiar police officer told me that I was getting in his way and I was forced to leave.

The demonstration was due to end at 7pm and a pro-Israel demonstration was scehduled to start at 7.45pm in the same place. According to news reports, around 500 pro-Israel demonstrators turned up and some of the pro-Palestine demonstrators had stayed to oppose them. There were a number of struggles with police with 5 pro-Palestine demonstrators being arrested as police attempted to drive them further west away from the Embassy. Another arrest was also reported earlier when police stopped a group of almost a hundred cars with Palestinian flags coming to join the demonstration from East London.
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Hyde Park: Italian Gardens & Princess Diana Fountain

Hyde Park, London. January 7, 2009

A stream over Cornish Granite in a London park as a memorial to Princess Diana
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I didn't go to Hyde Park to see the Princess Diana Memorial Fountain, but as I was more or less passing on my way from photographing the Ashura Procession on the Bayswater Road at the north of the park to the Serpentine Gallery at its south I thought I would take a look. I was never a fan of Di, though I felt she was disgracefully treated by the Windsor family, and on a couple of occasions I've photographed the annual remembrance at the gates of Kensington Palace, (Princess Di - 9th Anniversary and Princess Di - Ten Years On) but never bothered to walk down to see the memorial.

Certainly on a freezing winter day the memorial had a coolness and a kind of detachment about it that her fans might find inappropriate, but I think it's a piece of landscape art that will long outlive her memory and bring pleasure to people in a way that those many monuments to forgotten figures of earlier ages don't - if its foundations are strong enough to take being walked on by the majority of visitors who ignore or don't see the forlorn small print notices. I think they are right to do so - it is a structure to be used and to be played on.
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Ashura Procession, London

Bayswater, London. January 7, 2009

Black-clad Muslim women carry a banner past Lancaster Gate station
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Ashura is a major religious festival for Shia Muslims, who mourn the martyrdom of Imam Hussain, the grandson of the Prophet Muhammed, at the battle of Karbala in 61 AH (680 AD.) The procession in London is a part of the commemoration and mourners, largely dressed in black, walk along accompanied by the beating of drums and the wailing of horns, with a rhythmic ritual beating of their chests and chanting "Ya Hussain".

The procession, on the 10th day of the Islamic month of Muharram, is just a part of an extended period of mourning for Hussain. Shia see the battle and martyrdom of Hussain as part of a wider struggle of good against evil, with Hussain representing freedom against tyranny and injustice.

You can see pictures from previous Ashura processions on My London Diary:
            2005,    2006,    2007  and 2008.
Today it was cold and rather dark as the procession of several thousands of men, women and children left Hyde Park on their way to the Islamic Centre in Kensington, and it was hard to get good pictures.
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Hands Off Gaza: Stop The Bombing: Free Palestine

London, 3 January, 2009

Young Muslim women with Palestinian flags and colours on their faces
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Israeli attacks on Gaza which have resulted in the killing of many innocent civilians as well as a few Hamas miilitants have led to many protests around the world, and as well as the national demonstration in London there were also other protests in towns and cities across the UK as well as internationally. The police estimate of 10,000 demonstrators, repeated by the BBC seemed ludicrous as Trafalgar Square now holds perhaps twice that figure after the pedestrianisation of the north area, and it was fairly packed, with a large crowd still in Whitehall and others leaving before the speeches at the rally.

So between 20 and 25,000 came to protest in London at short notice and many stayed to listen to speakers including Alexei Sayle, Annie Lennox, Ken Livingstone, George Galloway and many more.

Towards the end of the rally the organisers announced we would be marching on to the Israeli embassy for a further demonstration. Rather than wait for the march I caught a bus there, though it diverted half a miile short. Police apparently made various efforts to stop the march and attacked some of the marchers, especially in the underpasses at Hyde Park corner but I missed all of that.

Opposite the embassy there were hundreds of police, and as more demonstrators arrived they put on their helmets and riot shields. From behind the police lines I didn't have much of a view, but there did seem to be a number of minor charges by police towards the demonstrators behind the barriers, and then the protesters, who had already pushed the barriers forward some distance, pushed down some of the barriers and things became a little chaotic.

A number of shoes and bags of flour were thrown by the protesters, some narrowly missing the press; placards were also thrown, but these fell shorter among the police. When police moved the press completely away from the action I felt it was time to go home.

In the chaos I had hear my trousers rip, and looked down to see a tear in one leg. What I hadn't realised is that it had also ripped the stitching of the 'secure' zipped pocket which I've long used to keep filled CF cards from my camera. On my way home (I had to walk three-quarters of a mile to find the diverted bus route) I found that I had lost the 8Gb card with most of my pictures from the day, so there are rather fewer than usual here - just some from the start of the march and the last few minutes of the embassy protest.
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Open the Border - Gaza Protest at Egyptian Embassy

South Street, Mayfair, London. January 2, 2009

Demonstrators outside the Egyptian Embassy
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Demonstrations have taken place every day opposite the Israeli Embassy in Kensington since Israel started their attacks on Gaza last Saturday. On Friday around 500 Palestinian supporters demonstrated outside the Egyptian Embassy in Mayfair, calling for greater support for the Palestinians in Gaza and in particular the opening of the border crossing from Gaza to Egypt they control.

The crowd, mainly of Palestinians but with a good sprinkling of other supporters, were united in pressing for urgent action from Egypt as well as an immediate stop to the Israeli killing in Gaza and an end to the siege, although there were a few minor arguments and I saw stewards call police to deal with one trouble-maker who was quickly escorted away.

There was an effective barrier on the opposite side of South Street between the crowd and the embassy with a fairly strong police presence on the roadway in front of the building, as well as a number well behind the crowd, but other than preventing any access by demonstrators or press to the front of the Embassy the police simply stood and watched for the hour and a quarter I was there.

After some prolonged chanting and various addresses to the crowd, a small group of young men burnt some crudely drawn Israeli flags decorated with swastikas, and then set fire to a photograph of the Camp David meeting with a text reading "TREATY OF CAMP DAVID." A few small tomatoes - past their best - were also thrown towards the embassy.
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London New Years Day Parade

Westminster, London. 1 January, 2009

US High School Bands are still an important part of the New Year Parade in Westminster
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There were still plenty of USAmerican high school marching bands and pom-pom waving cheerleaders, but the Westminster parade is now more of a Greater London event, with teams of participants from London boroughs including Brent, Merton and Hounslow as well as English oddities such as the Pearlies, firework societies as well as clubs dedicated to particular brands of cars or motorbikes and more.

I was suprised to see there are still Butlins redcoats, and also in red were the formidable ladies of the California-based Red Hat Society for women over 50. A couple of groups made more serious political points, with a small group calling for an end to kidnapping in Colombia, and a marching band, dancers and more from Falun Dafu, persecuted in China.
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All pictures on this section of the site are Copyright © Peter Marshall 2009; to buy prints or for permission to reproduce pictures or to comment on this site, or for any other questions, contact me.

 

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