Very pleased to have my photographs in Life Force ‘the magazine of the photo-essay’ .
The Kurdish march was charged with emotion and anger. The aim was to break the silence of the UK media and government regarding Turkey’s war on and persecution of this resilient community. Currently Turkey’s entrance into the EU as well its geographical position next to Syria play a major roll in silencing the West on human rights issues. Once again the Kurds were automatically blamed for the latest bombing in Ankara.
The Kurdish Workers Party (PKK) have been labelled terrorists by President Erdogen. Over the years, Turkey’s long battle against them has resulted in more than a quarter of a million people being driven from their homes. In the past four months, state security forces have killed 268 civilians as tanks and heavy artillery are being used on densely populated communities in southern Turkey.
The Kurdish history is long and complex and as I am currently trying to understand it myself so won’t attempt to write it down! I just spent the weekend with the Iraqi Kurds in Dunkirk and heard many personal stories of the horrifying persecution they suffered and in this case hopefully escaped from.
Last night I enjoyed seeing the wide selection of images on view at The Mall Gallery private viewing of British Life Photography Awards. I was really pleased to have winners in two categories (‘Life at Work’ and ‘Historic’). I also had two further images highly commended and eight included in the book published by Dewi Lewis.
While feeling a bit “historic” as I look at my older images, it also made me reflect on how much photography has changed. Perhaps the biggest change being that today we have the luxury of instantly seeing/checking that we have captured the image. In the past we were shooting in a sense blind and then worrying until the film emerged from the tank (far too late to re-shoot). Those long days in the darkroom with chemicals are now substituted by unhealthy hours in front of a screen working with hyper sharp pixels. With the democratization of photography many of our skills are now redundant but in the end I guess it has always depended on how you use the images and what you want to say with them.
My day on Saturday was depressing and terrifying! A National Front organized anti- immigration / anti-refugee rally taking place in Dover…the main port of entry for refugees & migrants.
It began with a peaceful gathering of anti-fascist protesters listening to speeches in the town square while the right wing Neo-Nazi extremists were at the railway pub a short distance away tanking up on beer, chanting racist slogans, and making Hitler salutes.
The day quickly turned violent as the Anti-fascists stormed through the high street to confront and stop the racist march from taking place. Hundreds of riot Police screeched into action trying to separate the groups.
anti-fascists attempting to stop the racist rally
The neo-Nazis gathering
Rocks, bricks and bottles were flying through the air (weapons later retrieved by the police included lock-knifes, knuckle dusters, metal poles, pieces of wood and glass).
I lost my nerve and clambered up the steep bank but rocks still managed to reach these heights and were whizzing past the helmet I had luckily worn. As soon as they landed, the rocks were hurled back down indiscriminately hitting police/fascists or anti-fascists alike.
On my way down to get closer to the action I was suddenly charged by a neo-Nazi protester (not the one in the photo below) wielding a large wooden plank yelling: ‘Fucking get that fucking camera fucking away”. Behind me four men jumped on a female anti-fascist protester and started kicking her. As a group of press stormed past me and I realized it was time to run!
The National Front adheres the white supremacist slogan: “We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children.”
To quote their website: “Multiracialism has been a disaster for Britain – only a policy that enforces a total ban on immigration and the humane repatriation of all immigrants and their descendants to their ancestral homelands can save this country from chaos.”
“This is OUR country and we want it back.”
“Say it proud, say it clear, refugees are welcome here,” echoed over Central London on Saturday.
The event was emotional and electric as a hundred thousand people from all walks of life marched from Marble Arch to Parliament Square in solidarity with refugees and demanding that the government take on their responsibility in the face of the current crisis.
Britain’s offer of taking in 20,000 refugees over four years (many of whom could potentially face deportation at 18) is woefully inadequate and the EU meetings so far seem only to have strengthened “Fortress Europe”.
‘We must spend our resources on helping and not hindering people and to bring about that world of human rights and justice”… ”open your hearts and open your minds and open your attitude towards supporting people who are desperate, who need somewhere safe to live, want to contribute to our society, and are human beings just like all of us.” from Jeremy Corbyn’s speech in Parliament Square