UK Social Struggles Feature Archive
There have been accusations of genocide having taken place in Sri Lanka in the last few months. So far this year, it is estimated that over 50,000 Tamils – mainly civilians - have lost their lives in a massive military onslaught by Sinhalese Sri Lankan government forces as the 26-year civil war was brought to a climax with the use of cluster bombs and shelling of civilian areas. Sri Lankan Armed Forces are also alleged to have used chemical weapons.
Over 280,000 displaced civilians are being held in prison camps – where conditions are reported to be dire, with poor sanitation, widespread diseases and a lack of adequate security. Amnesty International has received consistent reports of serious human rights violations, including enforced disappearance, extra-judicial executions and torture and sexual violence, including young girls being abducted from the camps.
As attacks by the national army in Sri Lanka have intensified, so do the protests around the world. After the news of thousands of civilian deaths in Sri Lanka at the weekend, which the UN has described as ‘a bloodbath’, British Tamils began a civil disobedience protest on Monday (11.05.09) in the hope that the British government might put genuine and decisive pressure on Sri Lanka to stop the atrocities it is currently committing. Five hundred began the protest at Parliament Square early in the morning. Thousands more joined them, at which point they moved onto Westminster Bridge and closed it off to traffic. Police officers were taken by surprise. The blockade lasted until mid-afternoon, at which time police resorted to physical attacks on people in an effort to clear the bridge.
More than 300,000 Tamils are currently under siege by the Sri Lankan forces. Aerial bombardments and shelling of civilians are continuing. Children and elderly are dying as a direct result of the aerial bombardment. There has been increased violence in Sri Lanka following the capture of Tamil territory. It is estimated more than 75,000 people have already died in the conflict.
Upcoming: Tamil solidarity event this Sunday (17.05.09)
On the newswire: Estimate 1700 Tamil civilians killed 3000 injuried in 48 hrs in Sri Lanka | Civil Disobedience Protest By British Tamils Met With Police Brutality | Tamils Blockade Parliament Square Again (photos) | Tamils Blockade Parliament Sq (photos) | Bloodbath unfolding in Sri Lanka | Tamil blockade of Parliament Monday 11th May (photos) | "State terror in Sri Lanka - a Tamil perspective" today at Resonance 104.4 FM | Tamil protesters take to streets as the GENOCIDE of there people gose on | Urgent, westminster blockade happening now | Tamils genocide: More than 2,000 civilians feared slaughtered in a single night
The Nottingham City Council scheme to impose CCTV on Forest Fields is facing increasingly organised opposition. Much of the affected area has been leafletted with anti-CCTV material and campaigners against the scheme attended a consultation meeting last Thursday to make their views known. Many are worried about the intrusive and controlling nature of CCTV and think it would contribute to suspicion rather than strengthening the local community.
Whilst the police and the Council's Area 4 Management claim to be engaging in consultation their language regarding CCTV has always framed it as a necessary development. Ironically, these same people objected to a journalist taking their photos at the meeting, indicating that residents are not the only ones who are concerned about surveillance! The plans have already been scaled down from 5 camera masts in Forest Fields to masts at 3 locations but campaigners vow to continue until it is scrapped.
Newswire: CCTV proposed scheme for Forest Fields : public meeting report | CCTV in Forest Fields - public meeting on April 23rd | Forest Fields Latest: CCTV | Forest Fields CCTV Update | CCTV coming to Forest Fields unless we act NOW! | Surveillance of Nottingham city centre | Surveillance of Nottingham City Centre [Update]
Previous feature: Watching the watchers in Nottingham
On Saturday 18th April, the ex-patriate Zimbabwe Community from around the UK, came together to discuss the ‘Death of Democracy’ in their country. The gathering was held in Nottingham at the Hyson Green Youth Centre.
The NZCN (Nottingham Zimbabwe Community Network) organized and hosted the event. Most attendees dressed in black to remember and honour the hundreds of Zimbabweans who have been murdered during the MDC’s struggle for democracy. Guest speakers included MDC activists still working and striving towards a new, free and safe Zimbabwe.
Event Photos: ‘Death of Democracy’ Gathering
Links: No Borders Nottingham | Nottingham Zimbabwean Community Network | Zimbabwe Civic Action Support Group | Association of Zimbabwean Journalists in the UK (AZJ-UK) | Zimbabwe Association Ltd | Operation Mavhoterapapi (how did you vote) - Post-election violence [pdf 5.2M]
Spontaneous protests have erupted in London as a result of the ongoing state violence in Sri Lanka. On Monday, over 300 Tamil youths blockaded Westminster Bridge, which remained closed overnight. On Tuesday and Wednesday large numbers gathered outside parliament and had reached at its peak up to 3000 to call on Gordon Brown to 'open his eyes' and work towards securing an immediate ceasefire in Sri Lanka. Under the banner 'Stop the genocide of Tamils in Sri Lanka' over 150.000 people marched in Central London on Saturday 11th April. Further demonstrations happened in Oslo, Paris and Copenhagen. Reports:   [photos 1] [photos 2] [video]
Earlier on in the week police tactics were violent, with unprovoked attacks on demonstrators. On Wednesday morning Tamil flags were being confiscated under the Terrorism act. Demonstrators reported that police used truncheons and dragged protesters across the ground. A three-year-old's leg was reportedly broken in the process. Seven people have been arrested, two under the terrorism act on suspicion of carrying articles supporting proscribed literature. Two people started a hunger strike earlier in the week, of which one was still fasting on Saturday 11th April.
More than 300,000 Tamils are currently under siege by the Sri Lankan forces. Aerial bombardments and shelling of civilians are continuing. Children and elderly are dying as a direct result of the aerial bombardment. There has been increased violence in Sri Lanka following the capture of Tamil territory. It is estimated more than 70,000 people have already died in the conflict.
On the newswire: Fast unto last breathe (day 13) | Video of the Tamil protests | Massive Tamil Protest Against Sri Lankan Genocide | Tamil Hunger Strike, London - pictures (day 6) | Stop the Genocide in Sril Lanka Protest - London April 11 2009 | Tamil protest (day 6) | Tamil Demo in Central London | Emergency Protest In London 11th April Please Come | Supporting the Tamil protests, SOCPA arrest | parliment square still going strong (day 4) | Tamil Protest in Parliament Square: Students on Hunger Strike to the Death (day 4) | Tamil protest still going strong / 8th April 3pm (day 3) | Tamils protest against chemical attacks | Tamil protest amid more police violence (day 3) | A lively night in Parliament Square (day 2) | Tamil protest still going strong /continues (day 2) | Tamil Protest still going strong | Tamil Protest on Westminster Bridge (day 1) | Sri Lanka: Killings, Concentration Camps and International Silence | Students on Hunger Strike | Tamilgotcha! Westminster Bridge occupied for 3 hours - Sat 31st Jan
A march for Jobs, Justice and Climate headed across London on Saturday 28th as part of a global campaign to challenge the G20 ahead of the summit taking place on April 2nd. About 40,000 people braved the cold weather from 11am until 5pm and marched from Victoria Embankment via Westminster to Hyde Park for a rally.
With only ten days to go before the massive protests against the G20 summit taking place in London, the Parliament's Joint Select Committee on Human Rights accused British police of being heavy-handed, misusing counter-terrorism laws and anti-social behavior legislation when dealing with demonstrators.
"The right to protest is a fundamental democratic right and one that the state and police have a duty to protect and facilitate," said Andrew Dismore, Labour MP for Hendon and chair of the committee.
After a year of inquiry, the seventy-page report raised serious concerns about the police forces ability to distinguish appropriate use of the powers they are given. The committee complained that police have been routinely using "legal powers not designed to deal with protests such as anti-social behaviour legislation and the Protection from Harassment Act 1997."
The report was particularly damning regarding the police's abuse of stop-and-search powers to intimidate, unjustifiable seizures of personal property, and improper detention and containment of protesters. The committee's chairman said: "The state must not impose restrictions unless it is necessary, and proportionate, to do so. That is a high threshold. The presumption is in favour of protest without state interference."
Related Indymedia Posts: Police 'turn themselves in' over abuse of power claims | Report into police tactics at Kingsnorth released | Video of police tactics at Kingsnorth | Summer of rage? It's a figment of febrile imaginations | Senior police officer warns of “summer of rage” | Protest against police state | Britain 2009 (are we in a police state?) | Climate Camp Cops feel the heat | Over Policing | Police maintaining special database | Whole TV series on this issue
On Monday 9th March, city council workers protested in Market Square against proposed cuts at the council which would see some 400 people laid off. The protest was several hundred strong and attracted particular attention in the local media because of the presence of film actor Samantha Morton, who was herself brought up in one of the council's children homes.
The evening after the protest and with no apparent regard for it whatsoever, Councillors passed the budget without amendment, confirming that 366 jobs would be cut with a further 333 vacant positions being axed. Inevitably, the council is now actively engaged in spinning the budget as an investment, an interpretation rejected by the unions.
Previous Features: Credit Crunch Hits Nottingham | Local Government Workers in Notts Join National Strike | Notts Workers Join National Strike | Nottingham City Council: Mired in Corruption | Library Staff Speak Out Against Uniforms and Management Bullying | Public service workers out to protect pensions
37 years later, an Early Day Motion (EDM) has been tabled demanding a public inquiry into the gross miscarriages of justice and disclosure of all Government and security papers relating to the case.
Thousands of workers in the construction industry who walked out in solidarity with workers at the Lindsey oil refinery run by Total in Killingholme, Lincolnshire, have won a significant victory. Strikers at Lindsey voted to accept a deal drawn up by union officials and the companies involved in the dispute and end their unofficial industrial action on Thursday 5th February.
The government and media have been keen to present this as a nationalist or even "racist" dispute and the ever-opportunistic BNP made efforts to capitalise on the struggle. Certainly there have been reactionary elements within the strike and the "British jobs for British workers" slogan, which echoes Prime Minister Gordon Brown, is unerringly reminiscent of the far-right. Nevertheless, the politics of the strike were complicated and at Langage Power Station near Plymouth, Polish workers joined strikers.
Regional Feature: Workers walk out at Staythorpe
Newswire: Strikes in oil refineries and power stations | British jobs for British workers - Green jobs for Green workers? | Oil and Power strikes: News, Resouces and analysis | Wildcat strikes in Newark | Today's wildcat strikes in the UK oil and now nuke business | Wildcat strikes - an open letter to the anarchist/anti-authoritarian movement | A 'Racist' Strike? | BNP activists agitating at wildcat strikes
Construction workers at the site of a new gas fired power station at Staythorpe near Newark, Nottinghamshire have joined workers across the country in striking against the use of foreign contractors. The issue has been contentious for some time, with unemployed workers holding protests outside the site since November. The issue was reignited after workers at the Total oil refinery at Lindsey in Lincolnshire walked out over similar concerns.
On Monday, all 300 British workers at the site walked out for several hours. They returned to work on Tue 3rd Feb, but within an hour, around 60 staged an unofficial walkout in solidarity with others in the construction industry across the country. A ballot held amongst those who had walked out showed a majority in support of staying out on Wednesday, which they duly did. A protest also took place outside the London offices of contractor Alstom on Thursday 5th.
National Feature Victory for wildcat strikers
Newswire: Staythorpe Power Station Demonstration | Staythorpe walkout | Oil and Power strikes: News, Resources and analysis | Wildcat strikes in Newark | Today's wildcat strikes in the UK oil and now nuke business | Wildcat strikes - an open letter to the anarchist/anti-authoritarian movement
On Wednesday evening (28 January), a group of students started an occupation of a tenth floor lecture theatre in the Owen Building, where an earlier meeting on the conflict in Gaza had taken place.
Following other occupations around the country, students and workers voted to occupy the lecture theatre and democratically approved a list of demands to Sheffield Hallam University. The full list of demands can be read in their announcement on the newswire.
On Thursday morning (29 January) negotiations began with university management.
A teach-in was scheduled for Thursday afternoon and a screening of La Haine for the early evening. University administration demanded that the group leave at 9pm, threatening police involvement if not. When the deadline passed, the group resolved to stay.
After more discussions, however, the occupation now seems to have been brought to an end. Further negotiations are still taking place with university management about the demands to the university: only one of which has been agreed to: "No victimisation of students or staff supporting the occupation in any form".
The group have a Sheffield Hallam Occupation blog with the most up to date information and the group welcome messages of solidarity and support. Messages of support and mutual aid have been received from other occupations in Bradford, SOAS London, Oxford and Nottingham, as well as Sheffield Trades Council, Sheffield NUJ, South Yorkshire UCU, Sheffield Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Free Gaza and the Sheffield and Rotherham Stop the War Coalitions.
Mainstream coverage: Sheffield Star
In the midst of the scandal surrounding the uncovering of corruption at Nottingham City Homes (NCH), other important news regarding council housing in Nottingham has passed more quietly. Council house evictions for rent arrears rose by 42% in 2008 whilst Nottingham City Council (NCC) were found to be refusing around 60% of applications for Discretionary Housing Payments. Discretionary Housing Payments are meant to be used by Local Authorities to help those whose housing benefit doesn't cover their rent. Due to the underspend NCC's grant for such payments has been reduced for the 6th year in a row. In addition, the Council's Housing Benefit Decision Notices have been deemed "Inadequate and illegal" by one commentator.
Whilst corruption in NCH is old news to some of our readers, the revelation that the NCH disability forum has a BNP activist as its Vice Chair has come as a shock. The individual involed also claims to attend the NCH Black and Minority Ethnic forum.
Newswire: Nottingham Loses Out again | Housing Benefit Decision Notices Inadequate and Illegal | Big Underspend on Payments to help Poor Tenants | BNP member on NCH Disabled Person's panel | Squatting and the Sept 2nd raid on Nottingham City Homes offices
Concerned residents have begun a campaign of 'sousveillance' of Nottingham's CCTV cameras and of some of the people employed to watch over us. PCSO Watch aims "to playfully gather information, data, and stories about PCSOs and their Community Protection Officer (CPO) colleagues" in order "to open up a channel of communication upwards rather than downwards about an increasingly out-of-control area of our society." The Office of Community Sousveillance was recently out and about on the streets of Hyson Green, getting members of the public to give their testimonies about their treatment by PCSOs.
Meanwhile, a CCTV treasure hunt was held in Nottingham on Sunday in order to "help map Nottinghams insane surveillance system!!!" The aim was to encourage members of the public to anonymously photograph CCTV cameras in their area and post them, along with details of where they are located, on a national website.