Epping Forest Centenary Walk
Manor Park to Epping, Mon 31 Aug 2009
walk across Wanstead flats - towards the Montague Rd flats
Every year in September, the Friends of Epping Forest organise a walk through
the forest from Manor Park station to Epping. The route was developed in 1978
to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Epping Forest Act, 1878. But we
did the 16 mile walk (and perhaps a little more as we occasionally found ourselves
a little lost) on our own.
It wasn't the first Epping Forest Act, but it placed the former royal forest
in the care of the City of London Corporation and gave them powers to halt
and partly reverse the enclosures that were rapidly reducing the size of the
forest. The City as Conservators were required to "at all times keep
Epping Forest unenclosed and unbuilt on as an open space for the recreation
and enjoyment of the people", and have continued to do so - with an exception
for the London 2012 Olympics when a legislative reform order allowed a temporary
police centre to be built on Wanstead flats, despite considerable local opposition.
Although in general the City have played an imporant part in preserving the
forest, at times - such as the Olympics - they have let other interests interfere
with their role under the 1878 Act. There activities are now closely watched
by 'The Friends of Epping Forest', a group initially formed to oppose the
M25 route which would have cut off a corner of the forest at Epping. Their
opposition led to the M25 being put in a tunnel under the forest. But around
10 years later, in 1989-94, a large section at the south of the forest was
lost to build the M11 link road.
Notting Hill - Children's Day
Notting Hill, London. Sun 30 Aug 2009
Liquid Gold. I think it washed off me without too much
I spent a few hours in Notting Hill and took a lot of pictures - here
are just a few of those I liked. I didn't get around to putting them on line
in 2009, and only remembered them again in 2014 when August bank holiday was
so wet I stayed home and didn't go to carnival.
Climate Camp: Saturday
Blackheath Common, London. Saturday 29 Aug
Welcome tent at the Climate Camp
I've had an active interest in the environment since my student days in the
late 60s, speaking in public on some of what were then seen as the major issues,
particularly pollution and resource depletion. At that time, although we were
aware of the increase in CO2 levels and global warming, the significance of
the greenhouse effect was not fully realised.
I first put pictures of an environmental protes on the web in 1996, and
those very dated looking pages with primitively scanned images of the Reclaim
the Streets West
Cross Route Party remain on line, but of course I'd been photographing
events before this. And in 2007 I was very pleased to have an exhibition of
some of my pictures of environmental protest in London shown at Fotoarte
2007 in Brasilia.
A sash showing I was a part of the Climate Camp documentation team did make
taking pictures easier, but I still came across a certain amount of hostility
to photography. There were some 'no media' areas marked, and although strictly
this did not apply to the documentation team, I largely steered clear of them.
I was also asked not to photograph two particular events, and a few people
declined my request to take their picture. But in general people were friendly,
cooperative and helpful and some clearly enjoyed having their pictures taken.
It would be hard to visit the site and not be impressed by the organisation
of the Climate Camp. There also seemed to be plenty of people volunteering
to do the various jobs needed. In the workshop sessions, some of the events
were very well attended with marquees overflowing, and I was impressed by
some of the speakers and contibutors I briefly listened to.
I've read a few silly things about the Camp in the press and on the web,
both in articles and more commonly in the comments made on them. What I think
they all had in common was that they were by people - journalists and the
public - who hadn't been there to actually see what was taking place.
There were no uniformed police on the site, and no need for them. This was
almost certainly the most caring and most law-abiding part of South London,
with no crime, no drugs and very little alcohol around. As I walked around
the outer area of the site at one point I looked up and saw one of the the
police cameras on their cherry picker following me around, and later when
I left the site and went to photograph it more closely, I was then followed
rather ineptly (perhaps deliberately so) by a young black man in plain clothes
as I wandered around for the next 15 minutes, occasionally writing in his
notebook. It seemed a waste of public money.
Climate Camp: Setup
Blackheath Common, London. Wednesday 26 Aug
Whitechapel Anarchists settle in - but not for long
as most apparently left after a little 'anti-pig' action when two officers
came on site in the evening
Climate Campers converged from six locations around London onto
the common at Blackheath on Wednesday afternoon. It's a large area of common
land fairly close to the centre of London, with stations nearby at Greenwich
(DLR and Overground), Lewisham and Blackheath, and which is used occasionally
for other festivals and fairs, in particular an annual kite festival and a
fireworks display, and is far enough away from local housing to cause no great
nuisance. The Climate Camp has a good record for putting in the necessary
plumbing and other necessities and also for cleaning up sites well when the
camp is over.
Lewisham, the borough in which the site lies, is also one of London's greener
boroughs, with six green councillors including Darren Johnson. Local Green
party members here and in neighbouring Greenwich (just across the main road
at the north of the site) have welcomed the Climate Camp in their area.
It's almost certainly a coincidence that it is more or less on the Greenwich
Meridian, but not that this was the site where radical cleric John Ball
made what is described as the first speech against class oppression, with
its famous "When Adam delved and Eve span, who was then the gentleman?"
and urged his peasant audience to "cast off the yoke of bondage,
and recover liberty."
The Peasant's Revolt of 1381 ended unhappily, and Ball was hung,
drawn and quartered the following month while the teenage King Richard II
looked on as the priest was bfirefly hung and then carefully kept alive to
watch his genitals and bowels being removed and burnt before he was beheaded
and his body hacked into four pieces. Ball’s fate didn't stop Jack
Cade leading a further popular revolt to also camp at Blackheath Common
on its way to London in 1450, although Cade was fortunate to be killed in
a battle before he could be hung, drawn and quartered; like Ball, his head
was then displayed on London Bridge.
The Climate Camp are hoping for somewhat better treatment by the authorities,
and on Wednesday at least the police were content to police at arms length.
While I was there on Wednesday afternoon there were no police on site, although
a helicopter was hovering above, and presumably filming all those taking part.
With stabilised cameras the image quality should have been high enough for
them to match the faces against their database (which of course they claim
does not exist.)
Although I was able to photograph freely while I was there on Wednesday afternoon,
the Climate Camp aims to control the activities of the press on site. Press
photographers visiting the site will be required to sign a media policy
that most of us would find unacceptable and to be accompanied while on the
site by a minder. (It can't of course apply to the police photographers in
their helicopter or cherry picker.) The policy appears to be driven by a few
individuals with paranoid ideas about privacy and a totally irrational fear
of being photographed. It really does not steal your soul!
Climate Camp: Blue Group Stockwell Swoop
Stockwell to Blackheath, London. Wednesday 26 Aug
We changed on to the DLR at Bank station
I chose to go with the Blue Group which was starting from Stockwell Underground
Station in south London, chosen as a starting point because of the events
of 22 July 2005.
Coming up the escalator at Stockwell station it's hard not to shiver at the
memory of those videos showing Jean Charles de Menezes strolling down to catch
his last train, and police coming though the gates in pursuit. There is a
memorial to him outside the station, including a great deal of information
about the event and the misinformation and covering up by police.
In the station entrance I passed half a dozen police in a group apparently
ignoring everyone and found a group of around 80 Climate Campers waiting for
the message to move off, along with around 30 filming and photographing them.
It was good to see some familiar faces there, always making it easier to
take pictures, but I think all of us were beginning to get bored with waiting
by the time we were told we still didn't know where to go, but could go and
wait in a nearby park.
There some played games (and my whistle came in handy when local kids challenged
campers to a game of football) while others rested and ate their lunch. After
and hour or so three PCSOs came to see how we were getting on, but otherwise
there seemed to be no police interest. Finally another announcement came and
at 2pm we made our way back to the station for the Northern Line to Bank and
then on to Greenwich on the DLR with a helpful train captain who made sure
we all got off at the right stop.
The ride, particularly on the underground, was crowded, hot and sticky but
without incident, and the group, perhaps a little over a hundred strong climbed
up the hill to Blackheath Common past an apparently deserted police station.
On the edge of the common we did see a few police questioning a couple of
anarchists in the distance, but otherwise they were keeping a very low profile.
Downing St Protest at Netanyahu talks
Downing St, Whitehall, London. Tuesday 25 August
Police hold back demonstrators trying to push towards
Several hundred protesters gathered in London opposite Downing St as Israeli
prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu was due to have talks with Gordon Brown. They
chanted 'Netanyahu, War Criminal
!' and other slogans, demanding that
Israel dismantle settlements on Palestinian land, end the seige in Gaza and
stop their ethnic cleansing in East Jerusalem.
Protesters had applied for permission to protest and were allowed to do so
on the distant side of the Whitehall, subject to the restrictions on freedom
of SOCPA (The Serious Organised Crimes and Police Act) which, for example
ban the use of megaphones and other amplification. As the demonstration started
around 1.30pm a few demonstrators started to drift across the road to wave
placards and flags on the pavement in front of the tall and well-protected
gates of Downing St, where any protest is illegal. As I began to photograph
them they were joined by more people with a megaphone, and for some minutes
police simply watched as he and others waved flags, chanted slogans and addressed
the slowly growing crowd of protesters who had by now gathered on the pavement
by the gates, as well as passing tourists.
After 20 minutes, police made their first move and came out to talk to the
protesters, informing them that their protest was illegal under SOCPA and
politely asking them to move across to the other side of the very wide road
to continue their protest. After a few minutes police abandoned this polite
approach and started pushing people to force them to move, at which point
another hundred or demonstrators streamed across Whitehall from the legal
demonstration on the other side to join them.
Although the police had managed to clear a small area of pavement in front
of the Downing St gates, this was at the expense of blocking much of one side
of the road with a larger crowd of demonstrators, and soon traffic had to
be stopped. The noisy demonstration continued, with a smaller group including
ant-zionist rabbis still protesting on the 'legal' side of the road. There
were occasional bouts of shoving as some protesters walked around or through
the rather thin police line, but in general it was a good natured demonstration
and one elderly and confused woman waving an Israeli flag was treated kindly
by protesters - and she had been there around an hour before a police officer
insisted it might be a good idea to for her to put the flag away in her handbag.
After police reinforcements arrived, Chris Nineham of 'Stop the War', the
organisers of the event, spoke to the crowd outside Downing St and ended by
suggesting they move back across the road. Few did, but by then there were
enough police to successfully push them across, and the event continued with
people on the pavement distant from Downing St.
Three people were arrested at this point; a police officer confirmed that
they had been warned earlier in the event that they were demonstrating illegally
under SOCPA but had continued, and that their arrest had been delayed until
more police were available. Later I heart that there were two further arrests
made later, but that all five were freed between 11pm and midnight, having
been detained for around 9 hours.
The SOCPA restrictions on demonstrations were ill-thought out and have always
angered anyone with a concern for freedom and justice. They were introduced
to try to get rid of the inconvenience and embarrassment of a one man peace
protest by Brian Haw just down the road in Parliament Square. As I walked
home I waved in his direction, still camped there after 3006 days.
Hackney Million Mothers March
Dalston to St John's Church, Hackney, London. Sunday 23 Aug 2009
The march started along KIngsland High St, calling for
'Peace On Our Streets'!
Today in Manchester a the a Million Mothers March was taking place
to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Mothers Against Violence, mothers from
bereaved families who are having a real impact in reducing gun, gang and knife
crime. Women in Hackney decided to have a march on the same day as a part
of an international peace parade to join in this celebration and to pledge
action in Hackney over the issue.
The march was organised by Songololo Feet, Friend's Charity,
Hackney Council for Voluntary Service (HCVS), International Action
against Small Arms (IANSA), St. John's Church and The Crib, a local community
group which "delivers creative and inspiring projects for young people
in Hackney" and brought a number of them to take part. Also present
were people from the Christian Party and a woman from the 100
Mothers Movement. Perhaps because it was August and many people were
on holiday, the actual number taking place was rather disappointing, but it
was enough to make people turn round and look as it marched along Kingsland
Road, Dalston Lane, Graham Road and Mare Street to St John’s Church.
At the church there were a few more to greet the marchers and bring the numbers
up to aproaching a hundred. Several people addressed the rally, including
a mother whose son had been killed in a knifing, a young man who had given
up gangs and become a professional footballer, he had been lucky to live after
being stabbed, someone bringing support from the Manchester Million Mothers
March and the Speaker (a councillor elected annually to carry
out similar public engagements to Mayors in other boroughs) from LB Hackney,
Councillor Muttalip Ünlüer. The event ended with singing
from a group of six women on the church porch.
LIVE and FAME March Against Knife Crime
Whitehall to Kennington Park, London. Saturday 22 Aug, 2009
Families of crime victims from FAME were at the front of the march behind
the dark-suited Adventist leaders.
Saturday's march through London against knife and gun violence was one that
raised many questions in my mind. Of course there can't be many who would
oppose the aim of cutting down the number of murders, the number of young
men and women who are killed, each one a tragedy for the families concerned.
But this was also a march that raised other issues of crime and pubishment.
The event was organised by two groups; LIVE, a campaign of the youth
leaders of the Seventh Day Adventist Church was working in partnership with
FAME (Families Against Murders Escalating) which was backed
by the Southwark News. Adventists certainly have a strong presence in black
communities around the country, and as these communities are disproportionately
affected by stabbing and shooting of young men and women, and their invovlvment
seems very positive.
LIVE, "Living Intentionally Versus just (merely) Existing",
"aims to challenge, empower and motivate a generation of disadvantaged
and advantaged youth to live for all the things that is positive and turn
away all the things that are negative like the gun, drugs, and knives."
It's clearly a laudable aim, but there were aspects of the event that worried
me, not least the very large numbers of stewards in high-viz vests and a slightly
sinister dark-suited row of "leaders" at the front of the march.
FAME was established in 2008 by Jackie Summerford from Walworth after the
brutal murder of her daughter Bonnie Barrett, a sex worker who was killed
in a Rotherhithe flat in 2007 by a man who has been described as a 21st century
"Jack the Ripper" and who the judge recommended should
serve a minimum of 30 years imprisonment. FAME's message on its placards -
and its main demand - is for tougher penalties, that "Life should
mean Life". While this would undoubtedly be welcomed by the families
of many victims it seems irrelevant to actually tackling the situations that
leads to these tragic deaths.
Problems with social services did not start with Victoria Climbié
and Baby P. One earlier case of a death that arose from their failure was
the tragic death of 18 month old Doreen Jane Mason in 1987. Like
the other cases it seems to have been a mixture of inappropriate and failing
management, overworked and undertrained social workers, inadeadequate practices
an irrational belief in 'management' as well as devious and wicked clients.
Mason, renamed by relatives as Aysha Kuddissi after her terrible death, was
killed by mistreatment and neglect by her mother and step-father. What is
even more distressing is that although Christine Mason and Roy Aston were
found guilty and sentenced to 12 years for her manslaughter (and 3 years for
cruelty to run concurrently) in January 1988 they were released on appeal
in 1990. Although there was no doubt that the two of them had been responsible
for the death, it could not be established which of them had actually delivered
the fatal blow - and so both walked free.
Also among the 36 portraits of those killed which were displayed on one of
the Fame placards was Tamzin Spalding, who died on 19 May 2008. Her father,
Michael Spalding, has complained to the IPCC about the conduct of Northants
Police over his daughter's death, claiming they failed to investigate the
case properly and that the investigating officer misrepresented it to the
coroner's clerk as "a straight forward suicide." The family claim
she was murdered and Mr Spalding says that before her death he had complained
to the police 31 times over six years about her Colombian ex-boyfriend, who
he alleges had made three previous attempts to kill Tamzin as well as making
death threats to her and her family.
Clearly cases such as these show there are problems with the police, the
justice system and social services which need to be addressed, but also and
more importantly we need a cultural revolution to create a society where people
are more connected and care more for each other. We have to look at ways of
London Sri Murugan Chariot Festival
Manor Park, East Ham, London. Sunday 16 August, 2009
A family warms hands over the flame on the blessed fruit
The Sri Murugan Temple in Manor Park, built in 2005, is the largest
South Indian Hindu temple in Europe and an impressive black granite building
to a traditional Tamil plan with three highly decorated towers.
A highly decorated chariot carrying images of Hindu Gods (including the Goddess
Gayatri) left the temple early on Sunday morning and made its way slowly around
the streets of East Ham in a traditional 'Ther' festival, followed
by perhaps 5000 people, mainly members of London's Tamil community. Along
the route men and women stood in front of their homes and businesses with
plates or baskets of fruit to hand to the temple priests riding on the chariot
or walking in front for blessings by the Goddess; metal trays bearing fruits
were returned bearing a flame and the families held out their hands to feel
The chariot had two finely painted prancing horses at its front but was pulled
by two ropes, on the right by women and on the left by men, with a large mixed
crowd of followers behind. A group of musicians walked in front. Those on
the ropes and between them and many others walked barefoot through the streets.
Men walking with the chariot carried short heavy knives which were used to
halve the coconuts offered for blessing, and at several places along the route
groups of men stood and threw large numbers of coconuts onto the road to smash.
Fortunately there appeared to be no injuries although many of those around
- myself included - were soaked by coconut milk and the road was running in
Finally after almost four hours the procession arrived back at the Temple
where there was a very long queue for food, and I left for home.
Southwark Youth Carnival Procession
Burgess Park, London. Saturday 15 Aug, 2009
Dancers rest before the procession
The procession was a part of 'The Mix' youth festival in Southwark's
Burgess Park. I went briefly to the festival but didn't take any pictures.
The procession formed up on Neate St at the east end of the park, and then
walked on the road around it. I photographed people getting ready at the start
and then as it went up Trafalgar Ave and then along the Old Kent Rd.
Some of the groups taking part had worked on an 8 day carnival costume course
organised by Kinetika Bloco in Bellenden Old School.
The procession started roughly 45 minutes late, as some of the performers
had been touring around the borough and were held up in traffic. I had to
leave as it went down Albany Rd on its way to the Camberwell Rd entrance to
Day of the Broken Promise
Netherlands Embassy, London. Friday 14 Aug, 2009
Benny Wenda, West Papuan independence leader and chairman of the Koteka Tribal
Benny Wenda, West Papuan independence leader and chairman
of the Koteka Tribal Assembly, and most of the rest of the small handful of
West Papuans living in Britain demonstrated opposite the Netherlands Embassy
in London, to mark the anniversary of the 'Day of the Broken Promise', 15
The western half of New Guinea became a Dutch colony in the nineteenth century,
but by the 1950s they were moving towards giving it independence. However
the Indonesian goverment claimed the country and threatened invasion after
then Dutch set up an elected government of West Papua in 1961.
Indonesia was backed by military aid from the Soviet Union, and the Kennedy
administration in the USA wanted to prevent further movement of the country
towards the Soviet bloc, so pressured the Netherlands into signing the 'New
York Agreement' with Indonesia in August 1962. This allowed Indonesia to take
over the administration of the country but provided for all the adult population
of West Papua to vote at a later date on whether they wished to become independent.
The Indonesian army moved in on 1 May 1963 and began a programme of repression
and human rights abuse against the people. In 1969 they rounded up and detained
just over a thousand West Papuans as representatives of the people and enusured
that they voted for rule by Indonesia by threats, including at least in some
cases that they and their families would be killed unless they did so.
The Indonesian government made it impossible for the UN represenatative who
was supposed to oversee the election to operate properly, and banned most
foreign reporters. Although it was clear that the vote did not reflect the
will of the West Papuan people - and had failed to meet the terms of the agreement
- which had been ratified by the UN - it was approved by the UN General Assembly.
Since then there have been many reports of repression by Indonesia in the
country, including murder, political assassinations, torture, rapes, dissapearances
and bombing. The government also had a programme of resettling migrants from
Indonesia in the country, apparently aimed at producing an Indonesian majority
West Papuans have engaged in both civil disobedience - particularly around
cermonial raising of the West Papua flag (the Morning Star) as well as armed
Wenda was jailed for displaying the West Papuan flag but managed to escape
and gain asylum in the UK. Estimates of the number of West Papuans killed
by Indonesian repression are in the hundreds of thousands (400,000 according
to the Free West Papua Campaign), and in 2006, 43 refugees landed in a traditional
canoe in Australia, claiming the Indonesian military was carrying out a programme
Despite a widespread recognition of what has been happening, there is little
international support for West Papua. The country has the world's largest
copper and gold mines, largely owned by US Compnay Freeport-McMoRan with UK
based Rio Tinto Group also involved.
Today's demonstration was peaceful and tuneful, with Benny and Maria Wenda
and others playing instruments and singing traditional West Papuan songs opposite
A Dutch diplomat came across the road to talk to the demonstrators and receive
a letter demanding that the Netherlands and other governments insist on the
proper implementation of the 1962 agreement, with a free and fair independence
referendum involving all West Papuans overseen by the UN. Papuans feel they
were let down by everyone involved, but particularly by the Dutch; "We
trusted you and we believed in you. But you betrayed us."
The diplomat spoke for a few minutes with the demonstrators and was interested
to see a feature on the rebel army there which appeared in today's Independent
After the demonstration at the Netherlands Embassy the protest was moving
to the Indonesian Embassy in Grosvenor Square, where the West Papuans hold
Rally For Vestas Jobs
Dept of Energy & Climate Change, London. August 6, 2009
The rally outside the Department of Energy and Climate Change in Whitehall on
Thursday evening started in light rain, but it was pouring by the time it finished.
Despite the weather, the 80 or so present listened intently to speeches from
a Vestas worker, trade union speakers from the RMT, PCW and Billy Hayes of the
Communications Workers Unions, as well as former Labour Secretary of State for
the Environment Michael Meacher MP and Green Party GLA member Jenny Jones, who
arrived at the event by bicycle.
Despite the government having spent thousands of billions propping up the
banks it is unwilling to put up the much smaller amounts needed to support
green industries. The problems of Vestas are indeed very much of the Government's
making, with its failure to put it's money where its mouth is on green energy
policies, relying on hot air rather than support for wind power and other
Making wind turbines is a profitable business, and will become even more
so, but unless action is taken - such as nationalising Vestas, at least (as
with the banks) on a temporary basis, the UK will be buying them from abroad
rather than making money selling them to the rest of the world.
Olympic Site Update - August
Stratford Marsh, London. August 6, 2009
'Welcome to Hell' says the graffiti at Hackney Wick - and it certainly looks
like hell for photographers
The process of sanitising the Greenway (Northern Outfall Sewer) which forms
an elevated footpath through the centre of the site is now in full swing,
though I suspect for the actual fortnight they will be relying on tons of
air freshener rather than being able to entirely lose its sweet and sickly
smell. But they are apparently clearing most of the vegetation that made the
'Greenway' green and reasonably pleasant.
For the next few months the whole section between Stratford High Street and
the main line will remain totally closed, and currently between the railway
and Hackney Wick all but a relatively narrow strip is fenced off, with security
men roughly every 50 yards standing or sitting with very little to do. Most
of the larger bushes and trees have little bits of fence around them with
a notice saying they are to be retained. The diversion goes round by Pudding
Mill station, which adds perhaps a quarter of a mile to the route,and there
are other diversions planned for later dates.
Because of the fencing it is no longer possible to photograph the stadium
and other building works to the north of the Greenway from this viewpoint.
The best view of the stadium itself is now from Hackney Wick
What you can see of the Bow Back rivers look in pretty poor shape, and the
Lea Navigation itself seems to be suffering from more build-up of weed than
usual. The graffiti around Hackney Wick is still flourishing though.
Stop East London Arms Fair
Clarion Events, Hatton Garden, London. August 6, 2009
A young demonstrator lies down in front of the office door
Demonstrators from 'DISARM DSEi' picketed the offices of Clarion Events
in Hatton Garden, London on Thursday lunch time, calling for an end to the
Defence Systems & Equipment international (DSEi), the world's
largest arms fair, which Clarion are organising at ExCeL in East London next
DSEi is a vast event - in 2007
there were over 1300 companies from 40 countries exhibiting weapons (though
the Space Hijackers
were refused admission to sell their tank) and related equipment and a total
of over 26,000 visitors to the show.
The arms trade results in millions of men, women and children being killed
in conflicts around the world. According to UNICEF, in the ten years between
1986 and 96, two million children were killed in armed conflict and a further
six million injured, many permanently disabled.
British companies are among those making high profits from equipment designed
to kill people, and our High Street banks invest huge amounts in arms companies.
Demonstrators handed out leaflets to the many passing by, explaining what
went on the what appears to be an office for the diamond trade. Many of them
were surprised to find that our government encouraged such activities, and
some stopped to talk with the pickets. The youngest member of the group provided
some entertainment running around with a small plastic boomerang, hardly a
dangerous weapon and unlikely to be found at arms fairs. At one point he staged
a short 'die-in', blocking the entrance to the offices by lying on the floor
in front of the door, but otherwise the demonstration was restrained and entirely
Police watched from across the road, one making copious notes and apparently
taking a great deal of interest in the four press photographers present, who
were mainly just standing around talking to each other as there wasn't a great
deal to photograph. There were also two officers, one armed with what a colleague
identified as a GLOCK semi-automatic pistol on hand a few yards down the street,
although it was hard to see any need for this - the demonstrators are after
all opposed to the arms trade. This was an event with no possible terrorist
threat or threat to public order, and it looked very much a case of boys and
toys. Only a few years ago we prided ourselves that our police were not armed;
now they seem to want guns even to help old ladies across the road. The only
active duty they took during the protest was to escort one - or possibly two
- men into the offices, rather pointless as they would otherwise have walked
through the picket without being noticed.
The protesters rolled up their banner and left as arranged after an hour,
with a police car following them at walking pace along the street and along
High Holborn as they went towards a pub.
London Remembers Hiroshima
Tavistock Square, London. August 6, 2009
The Workers Music Association was one of two socialist choirs at the event
The London nemorial ceremony, organised by London CND, took place in Tavistock
Square, next to the cherry tree planted there by the Mayor of Camden in 1967
to remember the victims of Hiroshima. The current Mayor of Camden, Cllr Faruque
Ansari was the first speaker, after a brief introduction by Islington MP Jeremy
Corbyn and a peace song by the Workers Music Association, and he was followed
by Frank Dobson MP and Bruce Kent, Vice President of CND.
Speakers called for Britain to abandon our Trident missiles and not to waste
billions on their replacement. South Africa is the only country yet to renounce
nuclear weapons and we could lessen the risks of a future nuclear conflict
by giving up our expensive and obsolete systems.
A second socialist choir, Raised Voices also performed, and were followed
by Pat Allen of Highbury and Islington CND talking on the the international
campaign for a ban on atomic weapons he was involved with in the years before
the foundation of CND. and Ann Garrett of Bromley CND reading three of her
poems. It was a surprise to also hear a 14-year-old girl, Sonia Azad speak
so confidently. I had met her a few months earlier when I was photographing
and she was videoing CND's 'Wedding
'Die-In' Against Afghanistan War' at the British military HQ at Northwood
in May. The two socialist choirs then joined together for a further anti-bomb
song, 'Against the Atomic Bomb' which puts words by Ewan McColl to a Japanese
Lindsey German, convenor of Stop the War gave a typically forthright performance
and reminded us of the need to keep demonstrating against the war in Afghanistan
- particularly in the demonstration planned for 24 October. Len Aldis talked
about the success of the 'Mayors for Peace' campaign but urged all of us to
get our Mayors to join if they have not already done so, and Silvia Swinden
talked about the World March for Peace and Nonviolence, which starts on 2
Those present were then invited to lay flowers beneath the Hiroshima cherry
tree during a minute's silence to remember the victims of Hiroshima and Nagasaki,
after which choirs and all those present joined in singing "Don't
you hear the H Bomb's Thunder." I had to rush away at this point
to another event, but people were invited to stay for a picnic in the park
after the ceremony.
Ian Parry Award 2009
Eastcastle St, London. Tuesday 4 August
Award winner Maisie Crow in front of her work
It was a good show - and it continues for a week at the gallery. You can
read some of my thoughts about it on >Re:PHOTO.
Although there were a lot of people there I recognised (and often wished I
could put names to - my memory sometimes seems to be going very fast) none
of the photographers I meet regularly when I'm working were there. That there
seemed to be very few of the working photojournalists who come to events such
as Photoforum or attend NUJ events seemed a little odd given the nature of
the award. It perhaps says something about the way this country's photographic
establishment regards photographers.
I was disappointed that Don McCullin wasn't able to make the evening. But
there were a few people it was good to meet again. Brian Griffin
for one, and I was pleased to hear that he is to be photographing people involved
in the Olympics - at least one thing to look forward to in the run up to 2012.
Since I intended to write about the award on >Re:PHOTO I'd taken a camera
with me, though by the time the awards were made I'd sampled the rather better
than average for openings offerings from Eminent Wines, and was not in the
best state to operate machinery; fortunately the D700 works pretty well on
autopilot and occasionally I managed to press the button at an appropriate
Carnaval del Pueblo
Elephant & Castle, London. 2 August, 2009
carnival parade forms up on Elephant Road
The London borough of Southwark is home to many of London's Latino communities
and in 1999 supported the first 'Carnaval del Pueblo', a three mile
carnival procession followed by a huge free festival in one of south London's
largest parks. In the ten years since then it has grown into what is described
as "the largest Latin American out-door festival in Europe"
and attracted support from the Mayor of London and the Heritage Lottery fund
The colourful procession started from the Elephant and Castle and included
floats, music and traditional costumes from 19 Latin American countries including
Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Cuba, Ecuador, Mexico and Peru with around 20 different
community organisations and other groups providing floats. I photographed
the performers getting ready for the parade and left as it started out down
the Walworth Road to Burgess Park.
Iran Protest at Press TV
Westgate House, Hanger Lane, London. 2 August, 2009
Demonstrators opposite Press TV studios in West London
Around 40 British and Iranian socialists and trade unionists protested outside
the west London studios of Press TV, the English language TV station funded
by the Iranian government on Sunday 2 August to highlight the plight of political
prisoners in Iran.
The protest at Westgate House overlooking the A40 Hanger Lane roundabout
at was organised by Workers' Liberty and the Worker-communist Party of Iran
- Hekmatist and The 8 March Women’s Organization (Iranian – Afghanistan.)
(March 8 is International Women's Day, first celebrated by the Socialist Party
of America a hundred years ago in 1909.)
In the June protests in Iran, thousands were arrested and possibly a hundred
people killed. Around 750 are still in prison and many have simply disappeared.
Show trials of some are now taking place. Amnesty reports that four have died
in prison, and torture is routine, with some dying from its effects after
Last Thursday there were further protests to mark the 40 days since the killing
of protesters including Neda Agha-Soltan, with protesters being beaten, arrested
and one reported killed.
Press TV's reporting of the events has been one-sided propaganda in favour
of the regime and failed to report the protests when - thanks largely to citizen
journalism for Iran - they were headlining other media around the world. The
demonstrators expressed their support for journalist Nick Ferrari who resigned
his job as a presenter at Press TV and Jeremy Corbyn who withdrew from a program
because of the station's biased coverage of the repression in Iran.
Among the demands made in speeches from Iranians and UK supporters in English
and Farsi were the unconditional release of all political prisoners and an
end to torture as well as the arrest and trial of those responsible for the
attacks and killing of protesters. Protesters also called for freedom of speech,
a free press and free trade unions and policitcal organisation, as well as
equal rights for women in all aspects of life and the abolition of compulsory
veiling. They demand a separation of religion from the state and a society
where all are free and equal.
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