Category Archives: London

Here and There

Lille, France

Today opens at Science Po Lille (Institut d’Études Politiques de Lille) an exhibition that I have been working on for a few months and which will expand and develop over the next three years, via the INFOCON-Project, steered by the Internationalist Foundation

“Here and There” is seeking a better understanding of the relationship between diaspora communities and their home counties sometimes affected by conflicts or tensions, internal or external. This exhibit is part of the first of three conference cycles  organized via the INFOCON project in order to better disseminate the findings and trends the research has so far laid out. The is therefore the debut of an exploration, a project very close to the people, their emotions and sometimes their sensitivities. It  promises to bring great photographic result, maybe with only subtle visual impact, but most importantly with deep, personal perspectives on human beings, their experiences and their evolution moving across borders in our ever more integrated world. I have thus explored various Diasporas in London and abroad and will continue to work with them in the next two years along with the academic research being carried on.  With the help of close friends in London, I have been able to get in touch with Rwandas, Iraqis, Kurds, Moldovan and,  with the help of my great friend and colleague Renaud Philippe from Stigmat Photo, with various actors of the Tibetan community in London and India.

As this is an evolving project you are very much encouraged to leave comments and suggestions hereafter.

* The exhibit will be on display at Science Po Lille until May the 14th, the conference taking place on the 6th and 7th.

Ambassador Gatete of Rwanda in his London office

Ambassador Gatete of Rwanda in his London office, in front of Rwandan President Paul Kagame's portrait

Ambassador Gatete of Rwanda in his London office

Ambassador Gatete of Rwanda in his London office

15 years on - Commemoration of the Rwandan Genocide, London

15 years on - Commemoration of the Rwandan Genocide, London

Prayer and sermon at the Commemoration of the Rwandan Genocide, London

Prayer and sermon at the Commemoration of the Rwandan Genocide, London

Commemoration of the Rwandan Genocide, London

Commemoration of the Rwandan Genocide, London

نوروز (Nowrūz) celebration, display of Abdullah Öcalan portrait, London

نوروز (Nowrūz) celebration, display of Abdullah Öcalan portrait, London

نوروز (Nowrūz) celebration, Mr. Omed Ali, a Kurd from Irak celebrating at Trafalgar Square, London

نوروز (Nowrūz) celebration, Mr. Omed Ali, a Kurd from Iraq celebrating at Trafalgar Square, London

Oula Kadhum has been living in the UK since the 1st Gulf War and returned to Iraq for the first time in 19 years last April (09)

Oula Kadhum has been living in the UK since the 1st Gulf War and returned to Iraq for the first time in 19 years last April (09). She is now a post-grad student at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) London and her research focuses on the impact of the 2003 Iraqi occupation on womens rights

Members of the Moldovan Diaspora in London against the communist party running for election in Moldova

Members of the Moldovan Diaspora in London against the communist party running for election in Moldova

Dechen Pemba. UK born Tibetan was deported from China after living there for two years for dubious reasons

Dechen Pemba. UK born Tibetan was deported from China for dubious reasons, only a few weeks before the 2008 Beijing Olympics. She had been living in China for two years, learning Mandarin.

Tenzin Tsundue Tibetan political activist and poet, born in Indian and very active for the Tibetan both in Tibet and on the international scene

Tenzin Tsundue Tibetan political activist and poet, born in Indian and very active for the Tibetan both in Tibet and on the international scene

 Paldem Gyatso is a Buddhist monk who was jailed for 33 years in China. He now tells his story in conferences around the world displaying some of the torture material he stole from jail

Paldem Gyatso is a Buddhist monk who was jailed for 33 years in China. He now tells his story in conferences around the world displaying some of the torture material he stole from jail

Lhasang Tsering one of the first Tibetan refugee to migrate to India, at the age of 7

Lhasang Tsering one of the first Tibetan refugee to migrate to India, at the age of 7

Special meeting of the Tibetan Diaspora in Dharamsala, India, initiated by the Dalaï-Lama, but from which he was voluntarily absent

Special meeting of the Tibetan Diaspora in Dharamsala, India, initiated by the Dalaï-Lama, but from which he was voluntarily absent

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Filed under Diaspora, Iraq, Kurdistan, London, Moldova, Politics, Rwanda, Tibet

From Ravers to Riots: street vision of the G20 protests

***Update on last photo. Ian Tomlinson, the man who died at the G20 protest initially of an unrelated cause, was caught on tape being hit and pushed by the police for no apparent reason, minutes before he died.  A video footage released by the Guardian poses serious questions on police intervention techniques and motivations on Mr. Tomlinson. ***

The first of April hasn’t fooled the London Transport and Metropolitan Police nor the broader law enforcement teams in London.

Readied for mayhem on the streets of London, the enforcement agencies of the Capital City were prepared to intervene and contain the thousands of protesters that flocked to the streets, a day before the world leaders met at for the London Summit / G20 in the UK. Some violence has been reported, as expected:  RBS was stormed in the afternoon, windows broken, rubbish fires lit up in the streets, graffiti on walls, but also music, tam tam jam and the sustained smell of hops and herbs in the air.

Pick your protest: With several protests going on at the same time, raging against climate change, the economic crisis, poverty, war and many other societal sins, the pick was hard for citizens to demonstrate. However numerous the protests were, the police enforcement forces had been deployed all over the city.

I had the intention to navigate through a few protests, but never had the chance to do so. I started, and ended, in front of the Bank of England. The sun was out and it was a good day for a social gathering of this scale. After the march had reached the square adjacent to the financial institution, the rest of the day was mostly spent walking in circles, hitting, one at a time, a barrage of police officers and riot personnel that would block any issues to the marching groups.  At this point, people could still make their way out of the area at will.

Cowboy Cops: 5pm marked a turning point in the group control techniques. While the protesters were still agitated, not much damage or violence was being perpetrated. Again, this is relative, but compared to the hundreds of shop windows, cars, telephone booth and other public and private goods that the French had mutilated in 2006 during the CPE protest, I was rather surprised to see the main group of protesters yelling at the police and pushing them, while being right next to the unprotected, still immaculate HSBC Bank. This was indicative of the loose ideology, as it often is, that characterised the group cohesion on April 1st. The police kept the protesters, journalists, elders (yes, met a 72 year old couple) and everyone else entrapped for 2 hours not letting anyone out.  The ‘kettle’ technique, consisting of blocking all possible issues hermetically, has been obviously criticized and made the end of the day a nightmare for many. By 8.00PM, the police started letting people out: 1 per minute for an hour. I was able to leave with a more regular flow of people by 9.20PM.

Photos: While the so called ‘anarchist’ make the front pages, I decided to focus some of my attention to various portraits in the crowd and talk to people. Among the many encounters, I met two ‘punks’ (Photo #4) bored out of their minds on the margins of the protests, who were actually from Oxford and on their way to the British Museum to see the Shah ‘Abbas exhibit. How deceiving can the appearances be. Some of the later photos are slightly graphic. I had a few of those which would probably be well suited for spot news, but decided to cover a wider range of photojournalism on this day.

Personal Nota Bene: Thanks to the scale of the event, the availability of digital equipment of increasing performance and quality,  and maybe to the drive for ‘extreme’ experience,  it seemed that me that their were as many photo/video – graphers as protesters. Biased this opinion surely is but the level had dramatically increased in comparison to 2006, when I covered the riots in France against the CPE, and in Singapore for the IMF/World Bank meetings. Needless to say that the emancipation of social media tools bolsters this growth, which, in my view, can only benefit the profession: Need for new angles, new ideas and new ways of approaching the fast paced world of news.

G20 Protests, Bank of England, London, 1st of April 2009

G20 Protests, Bank of England, London, 1st of April 2009

G20 Protests, Bank of England, London, 1st of April 2009

G20 Protests, Bank of England, London, 1st of April 2009

G20 Protests, Bank of England, London, 1st of April 2009, Well organized protesters had brought some personal entertainment

G20 Protests, Bank of England, London, 1st of April 2009, Well organized protesters had brought some personal entertainment

G20 Protests, Bank of England, London, 1st of April 2009

G20 Protests, Bank of England, London, 1st of April 2009

The Police used the 'kettle technique' to contain the masses and 'jail' the demonstrators in the square in front of the Bank of England. Protesters, the press, myself as well as others, who had not taken their chance to leave the area before 4.30PM found themselves imprisoned there until 8PM. The MET then decided to let people out [...] at a rate of one person a minute for one hour, to better file them, take photos and interrogate participants. By 9PM, a 'normal' flow outwards had begun.

The Police used the 'kettle technique' to contain the masses and 'jail' the demonstrators in front of the Bank of England.

G20 Protests, Bank of England, London, 1st of April 2009,

G20 Protests, Bank of England, London, 1st of April 2009

G20 Protests, Bank of England, London, 1st of April 2009, while rather peaceful as a whole, some protesters had a try at the rather robust police equipment, and their less so robust patience

G20 Protests, Bank of England, London, 1st of April 2009, while rather peaceful as a whole, some protesters had a try at the rather robust police equipment, and their less so robust patience

G20 Protests, Bank of England, London, 1st of April 2009: badly hurt person. One person died at the manifestations. The cause of the death is not directly linked with the cash between the police and protesters.

G20 Protests, Bank of England, London, 1st of April 2009: badly hurt person. One person died at the manifestations. The cause of the death is not directly linked with the clash between the police and protesters***.

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Filed under Finance, London, News, Protest, Social gathering

HE Masoud Barzani, President, Kurdistan Region, Iraq

President Barzani spoke at the London based think-thank Chatham House on March the 12th, 2009. His talk covered a wide array of topic related to the relatively stable Kurd region of Iraq. Besides the aspirations to independence of the region, a good number of questions from the audience were directed, not so surprisingly, towards the potential of oil extraction from Kirkuk (كه‌ركووك, كركوك). The Baba Gurgur oil field near Kirkuk currently produces 1 million barrel per day, accounting for an important part of Iraqi oil export.

HE Masoud Barzani was elected the first president of the Kurdistan Region by the Kurdistan National Assembly in June 2005 and has been leader of the Kurdistan Democratic Party since 1979.

FT Readers waiting for HE President Barzani to arrive

Over my shoulder: FT Readers waiting for HE President Barzani to arrive

HE President Barzani

HE President Masoud Barzani

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Filed under Iraq, Kurdistan, Leader, London, News, Politics, President

A ‘New Day’ has come نوروز (Nowrūz)

The Persian New Year, generally celebrated on the day of the Spring equinox, 21st of March, was marked by an afternoon of celebration at Trafalgar Square, London, 15th of March 2009.
An important social gathering of several Diasporas communities from Turkey, Iran, Syria, Iraq and several other neighboring countries as well as passersby, curious, and foodies alike. The event was visually dominated by flags of Abdullah Öcalan,  founding-leader of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK, Partiya Karkêren Kurdistan).
Öcalan is considered a terrorist by the EU and the US for his armed separatist ‘actions’ , along with the PKK,  against Turkey. Öcalan was arrested in Kenya and  is currently sentenced to life imprisonment in Turkey.
db_news_london_nooruz_framed1

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