On Nabka Day, 150 thousand Pro-Palestinian demonstrators marched through Central London to the Israeli Embassy, protesting against Israeli airstrikes on Gaza and demanding immediate action from the UK Government to end the brutal violence against the people of Palestine.
This month it’s 37 years since ‘Black July’ 1983 when there was a Sinhalese led anti-Tamil Pogrom, riot and massacre in Sri Lanka. Sinhalese mobs targeted Tamil homes and businesses, looting and ransacking property.
Over 3,000 Tamils were murdered and over 150,000 people made homeless. It marked the beginning of the Sri Lankan Civil War between Tamil militants and the Government in Sri Lanka. Many Tamils were forced to flee to other countries forming Tamil diaspora communities. No one has yet been held accountable for the genocide.
I visited the Calais Jungle camp over the 6 months period prior to the brutal eviction of the residents and the total destruction of the site by the French authorities in October 2016.
The conditions that the refugees and migrants were forced to live in were truly dreadful, but their resilience,ingenuity and humanity were amazing. They had all lived through the horrors of the past but were holding on to hope and determination to fight for their right to a better future.
Prior to the eviction there were close to 10,000 migrants and refugees living in the Calais Jungle. Of these, 800 were unaccompanied minors for whom there were no provisions at the time of the eviction.
The majority were young men of diverse nationalities who had travelled for many months, leaving behind communities torn apart by war, bloodshed and torture. Their aim was to find a safe haven where they could get the education and jobs needed to provide a secure future.
Over the years the transitory residents of The Jungle managed to build up an incredible makeshift infrastructure which included: shops, advice centers, barbers, classrooms and places of worship. These were also important meeting places providing emergency accommodation, free meals, schooling and asylum advice.
Despite its size, it never gained legal status as a refugee camp and received very little official aid or humanitarian support. To fill the gap hundreds of humanitarian volunteers and human rights defenders arrived to help.
New arrivals created temporary homes which they hoped they would not have to live in for long. However, the increasingly dangerous and life threatening on-ward journey meant that many remained in the “Jungle” for months or even years.
Most felt that their ties to the UK, be they family or language, would provide the best chance to integrate and set up a new life.
Though Calais has currently slipped from the news agenda, it is estimated that there are now over 1,000 people living in the forests with 200 of these being unaccompanied children. Many are also forced to sleep under bridges and behind industrial buildings, often with little more than a sleeping bag for protection. French authorities are regularly destroying their tents and belongings in random acts of aggression. The demolition of the Jungle did not end the plight of the refugees and migrants but has made it far more difficult for charities to distribute food and aid. Covid 19 has made the situation even more critical.
For more images: Calais Jungle
On the 14th of June 2017, seventy two people died in the Grenfell Tower disaster.
Three years on there continues to be injustice for many of the families who are yet to be permanently housed.
Three years on the unsafe and flammable cladding that was used on Grenfell Tower still remains on thousands of buildings in the UK.
The majority of the residents were from the BAME community.
“The march is led and organised by Black women for all women. We believe that ‘all oppression is connected’. We work together to create safe spaces, free from racism, fascism, discrimination and hate. When we demand an end to men’s violence against us, this includes calling for the dismantling of all oppressive structure that promote and facilitate everything from misogynoir through to ableism.” (a Million Women March)
“This is an opportunity for us to come together in sisterhood, solidarity, unity and upliftment…to march together, to feel the strength, exhilaration and power of being with other women, to celebrate ourselves, our differences and our diversity…to raise our voices and, if necessary, to mourn in silence.” (A Million Women March)
On India’s Republic Day, the Sikh and Kashmiri diaspora communities in Britain traveled to London despite an attempt by the Indian authorities to ban the protest. The aim was to inform the public of the ongoing crimes that the Indian State under Prime Minister Narendra Modi is committing against the Muslims, Sikhs, Christians and Dalits.
Last August, the Muslim-majority area of Kashmir was stripped of its semi-autonomous status and demoted from a state into a federal territory. The Kashmir valley was put into a state of lock-down. Tens of thousands of troops were dispatched, landlines and cellular connections were suspended and internet services were cut. According to the NY Times it has been “the world’s longest internet shutdown in a democracy”. As many as eight million people have endured a punishing information blackout.
Foreign journalists and diplomats have been blocked from visiting and the government has arrested scores of Kashmiris, including former heads of state without disclosing charges.
This time the attempt to ban the march was stopped.
We must preserve the right to speak out and the right to protest.
Forty years on, I’ve been really pleased to have had two different opportunities to exhibit some of my industrial photographs back in their original locations in the West Midlands (UK).
In June, along with John Myers, I had an outdoor exhibition “Black Country Living” which was part of the Blast Festival. My chain-making photos from 1978 were mounted on hoardings and mobile advertising boards in West Bromwich.
Currently: My photographs from the Jewellery Quarter taken in 1977 are being shown along with more recent images of the area by Andy Pilsbury and Ines Elsa Dalal at the Iron House Gallery in Birmingham. Still: Stories from the Jewellery Quarter open 26th October – 10th November
Returning to the area after 40 years was an amazing experience. Turner and Simpson where I took most of the photographs no longer exists but it is good to see that there are still some craftspeople and workshops continuing to keep traditional skills alive in this historic area.
At both these venues a real ‘blast from the past’ was the showing of the 1978 ATV film about the original project: https://www.macearchive.org/films/camera-streets
Below is Florence Alan who had been with Turner & Simpson for 35 years. She was the holder of a secret gilding formula which she was only going to reveal to her son on her death bed.
Above is Bill Spooner, a silversmith, age 70. He began working in the Jewellery Quarter at age ten.
Link to an interview: by Jewellery Quarter Townscape Heritage: https://th.jewelleryquarter.net/behind-the-lense-janine-wiedel/
Townscape Heritage Blog: https://th.jewelleryquarter.net/jq-on-view-janine-wiedel/
Books/zines available from Cafe Royal Books:
‘The Jewellery Quarter 1977: https://www.caferoyalbooks.com/shop/janine-wiedel-jewellery-quarter-birmingham-1977
A box set with 7 individual books of The West Midlands industries: https://www.caferoyalbooks.com/shop/janine-wiedel-industry-west-midlands-19771979
Ten years on, Tamils gathered in London to remember the genocide of their people. On May 18th 2009, Sri Lankan forces finally defeated the Tamil Tigers in a brutal and indiscriminate military assault. The military’s intentional shelling of government-designated “No Fire Zones” was responsible for killing 70,000- 140,000 Tamil civilians and displacing at least 300,000.
Ten years on, there has been no accountability for the enormous loss of life, for war crimes and for human rights abuses.
“Exist, Resist, Return”. A global call for solidarity on Palestinian Land Day: a day which commemorates the unarmed protesters killed by the Israeli police and Defense Force in 1976, during demonstrations against Israel’s expropriation of Palestinian land. This year, March 30th also marked the first anniversary of the start of the Great Return March demonstrations: weekly mobilisations calling for the Right to Return for Palestinian refugees and an end to the twelve-year siege of Gaza. Over one six-week period these demonstrations saw more than 110 unarmed Palestinians killed by the Israeli Defence Forces. The rally on Saturday echoed the demands of the Great Return Marches, in calling for an end to the siege and that the state of Israel acknowledge International Law on the right of return. Speakers also rejected suggestions that criticism of Israel could be seen as ‘antisemitic’.
Behind police barriers a small counter-demonstration, under both Israeli and Brazilian flags, expressed their enduring support for the state of Israel, and their criticism of Hamas.
A million people marched through London on the ‘Peoples Vote’ anti-Brexit protest 23 March 2019
for more go to: https://bit.ly/2TEF9SF
United Families & Friends Campaign take part in the 20th annual remembrance procession down Whitehall in London.
On Saturday, members of the UFFC, a coalition of family and friends of individuals who have died in the custody of police, prison officers and other authorities, delivered a petition to 10 Downing Street.
In 2017/2018, twenty-three people died in or following police custody, the highest number in 10 years.
Above left and below: Remembering Kevin Clark who died in southeast London last month after being restrained by up to 9 police officer while having a mental health crisis.
So far there has never been a successful prosecution for manslaughter following a death in custody, despite unlawful killing verdicts in coroner’s inquests. The last time a police officer was successfully prosecuted for the death of somebody in custody was in 1969.
Seni Lewis’s mother Ajibola. In 2010, Olaseni Lewis, a 23-year-old IT graduate, collapsed at Bethlem Royal Hospital after being restrained by 11 police officers. He never regained consciousness and was pronounced dead three days later.
In October 2017, six cops were cleared of any wrong doing. After the coroner ruled out a finding of unlawful killing, the jury identified a litany of failures by both police and medical staff that contributed to Lewis’s death. “The excessive force, pain compliance techniques and multiple mechanical restraints were disproportionate and unreasonable. On the balance of probability, this contributed to the cause of death”.
top left: Nuno Cardoso, a law student, died in a police van after he was arrested in Oxford last year.
bottom left: Lisa, the sister of Mark Cole who died when police tasered him in Falmouth in 2017.
right: Leroy Junior Medford, father of seven, died in police custody in Reading on April 2. 2017.
Mark Cole, 30 yrs old and father of two, died after being tasered in 2017.
Raj Mahay (left) thirty years on is still campaigning for a fresh investigation into the death of his mother Kishni Mahay who was killed by a speeding police car in 1989.
I was very pleased to have my photograph win the ‘Historic’ category of The British Life Photography Awards and to have another image “highly commended” .
The exhibition and book were launched this week and will be on view at The Royal Albert Hall until the end of February and then go on tour.
I took above in 1978 as part of a two year documentary project on industries in the West Midland. Everyday at midday the drop hammers at Smith’s Forgings stopped and the forge became silent for an hour. All the workers vacated to the pub round the corner. It was the only other building still standing amongst the encroaching urban decline in the shadows of Spaghetti junction.
This second image was taken in at The Gainsborough Silk Weaving Company in Sudbury, West Suffolk in the 1990s.
The sounds and atmosphere transported me back 100 years. The mill was founded in 1903, during the diaspora of overtaxed weavers from the East End of London. Today it’s one of the few remaining commercial silk mills in England and is still using the original Hattersley looms.
Hundreds protested outside the Libyan Embassy, calling for the British Government to put pressure on Libya to end slavery and the inhumane treatment of migrants.
Libya, the main transit point for refugees and migrants trying to reach Europe by sea, is estimated to have tens of thousands currently being held in camps, as well as being detained by people smugglers and armed militia.
Conditions in the centers have been described as “horrific,” and among other abuses, migrants are vulnerable to being sold off as laborers in slave auctions. As Leonard Doyle (Director of Media and Communications for the IOM in Geneva) said “they become commodities to be bought, sold and discarded when they have no more value,”
The United Security Council expressed grave concern about the recent reports from Tripoli amounting to the “heinous abuses of human rights”.
Whilst slavery has a long history in Libya, the recent CNN footage has sparked worldwide outrage and brought the issue to the forefront in the media as it is considered to be the first hard evidence of 21st-century slave trade in Africa. Parliament is due to debate the petition on December 18th. Let’s not allow this abuse to be ignored !!!
Very pleased to have another book published this month by Cafe Royal Books
These photos were originally part of 2 year project “Vulcan’s Forge” which became an exhibition and book. In 1978, I was funded by West Midlands Arts to document the industries of the area.
Smiths’ Forgings, in the Aston area of Birmingham, was a typical small firm. It began in 1910 and by the ’70s was producing the majority of ‘male-female couplings’ for British articulated lorries. Most of the workers had been there for their entire working lives and many were from the same family.
The work was tough. Red-hot furnaces heated the raw metal, which was then placed under a 35-hundredweight hammer; a rope released the ratchet, and the hammer dropped about nine feet to stamp the metal into shape. There were nine hammers, the oldest of which was seventy years old, the youngest thirty-five. The noise was deafening. Accidents occurred, but the men had no thought of changing jobs. The hammers were referred to as “Jim’s” or “Bob’s”. They belonged to the men who worked them, a testament to the closeness felt for their company and work. “We do things in the old fashioned way here,” they said with pride, “there are a great many things that only a man over fifty still understands… Any child could work in the modern forges, but we are the real stampers.”
order direct from Cafe Royal Books
(or ) For a £10 signed copy email: email@example.com
(Please note: All photographs on this site are copyrighted and must not be copied in any form without permission)
Very pleased that Cafe Royal Books has published my book/Zine: ‘Black Power / Black Panthers’. It’s now available from:
Malcolm X and Martin Luther King had been assassinated and Black radicalism had taken over from the non-violent Civil Rights Movement. America’s urban black population were faced by rising unemployment, disintegrating public services, pervasive and systematic racism and police brutality. They decided to fight back: we shall overcome ” became “we shall overrun”.
for a £10 signed copy email: firstname.lastname@example.org
On now at Gallery 101: The International Salvation Army Headquarters
photographs by Jacky Chapman and myself
With both the Calais Jungle and the Grande Synthe camp now razed to the ground, the 10,000 plus refugees/migrants have been disperse across France. Without the support and communal infrastructure they had managed to build in the camps they now face an even more precarious and vulnerable future.
Hopefully our photographs will provide a lasting record of the ingenuity and humanity of those who having been forced to leave their homelands in order to find a place of safety, were able to form an alternative community and an environment that could help them survive with some dignity (including places of worship, shops, and schools).
All this now destroyed!
…”In Transit’s considerable power emerges through the effective interweaving of multiple dimensions. From the general to the intimate, from the distant to the near and from the graphic to the human, the photographs offer a carefully balanced range of perspectives. In so doing they build towards a sensitive, and much needed, recovery of a time and place whose memory, and one-time residents, now seem vulnerable to multiple modes of disappearance. This recovery eschews both nostalgia for and dismissal of what has been lost. The squalor and implied violence of the camps are here, but theirs is the sotto voice. The emphasis instead falls upon glimpses of lives carried on through adversity. In this sense the exhibition seems underwritten by the motto which one photograph shows written on the wall a young man from Darfur’s room: ‘never give up’… review by Erica Zimmermann in Photomonitor
Over a thousand Yemeni-Americans closed down their bodegas (24 hr grocery stores) in protest against Donald Trump’s executive order banning US entry to travelers from Yemen and six other predominantly Muslim countries. Around 5,000 supporters gathered at Borough House in Brooklyn (New York City) to show their patriotism to the USA and their anger at the immigration ban. The “shut down” aimed to demonstration to the public the important contribution the Yemeni community makes to the economic and social fabric of the city.
At 5.30 as the sun set, the crowd fell silent and hundreds lined up for prayer.
Every week UK charter flights carrying deportees and guards depart for Nigeria, Ghana, Jamaica, Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Movement for Justice marched through Brixton protesting the targeting of long-established African, Asian and Caribbean communities in Britain – dividing families and deporting people who have built lives in the UK, who have parents, partners and children here, people who have lived most of their lives in Britain, students who have not finished their courses, those who have sought asylum and protection, people with serious health problems and others who are long-term carers to elderly and disabled relatives.
The targeting of so many people who are integrated members of their communities and wider society is a divisive act of racist discrimination.
In 2013, Corporate Watch published a research report titled “Collective Expulsion: the case against mass deportation charter flights”.
Today, not much has changed:
“The UK continues to make political deportation deals with governments of its former colonies and war zones. Almost 2,000 people a year are still loaded onto secretive night flights from Stansted airport, handcuffed by private security ‘escorts’, in one of the most brutal facets of the detention and deportation regime…….. https://corporatewatch.org/news/2017/jan/06/deportation-charter-flights-collective-expulsion-2017
An exhibition on the Calais Jungle and Dunkirk Refugee Camps by Jacky Chapman and myself
On the same week that we hammered our photographs up on the wall, 10,000 people were evicted from the Calais Jungle and the remaining structures were razed to the ground.
We had good feedback from our first venue which was really rewarding:
“In Transit provided us with a platform to engage student across the curriculum and wider cultural, social, global and most importantly humanitarian issues that are to often skewed by social media and the press. Jacky and Janine’s sensitive and extremely well observed photos engaged our students from Year 6 up to Year 13 into these wider global issues and our responsibilities.
The exhibition brings the migrant crisis literally to our doorstep, the powerful visuals evoke and provoke a reaction. These are insights and detail we are not used to seeing, the day to day living in the camps, the true reality of refugee’s situations. The exhibition opens the door to wider conversations and deeper understanding and empathy. As well as invaluable educational stimulus across many subject areas (Geography, History, PSHE, RT, Art, Architecture, English) it teaches our students about their place in the world to make positive change”. Sue Mulholland Director of Art, Dulwich College
Below: a small selection from the exhibition. photographs © Janine Wiedel
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
This year marked the 10th anniversary of the Big Splash Annual Festival in Brixton.
The community which has been defined by Afro Caribbean heritage ever since the Windrush generation of the 40s and 50s is currently undergoing a battle against a tide of controversial changes triggered by regeneration/gentrification and financial greed.
However, on Sunday the sun was shining and all the surrounding streets felt like a mini- Notting Hill carnival with the pavements vibrating with large and small sound systems. Festival goers and locals struggled to find a free space to dance or merely to move. Windrush Square and the church grounds were more relaxed with music, crafts and picnicking. The day was good!!!!
It was a long day of walking and carrying heavy cameras. The march set off from crowded streets by the Bank of England and ended up in Parliament Square for a rally and speeches. The turnout was huge with nearly 150,000 people from all walks of life protesting against austerity measures. The day was mainly peaceful but there was a strong undercurrent of anger against current government policies and the targeting of public services, the young and the vulnerable.