Monday, October 7, 2013

Londoners (and Peace camp at Parliament Square)

 I just very recently finished reading: "Londoners: The days and Nights of London Now -as told by those who love it, hate it, live it, left it and long for it" by Craig Taylor. It is written as a set of stories of all kinds of people, rich and poor, native and immigrant, women and men, talking about London. People who work at pubs, or in the stock market; a young man who started living in the city amongst the homeless and had to sleep at a park. The girl whose voice you hear announcing your next stop at the underground station. Those who came to the city from far and close... As with people, I guess, some stories were very easy to read and relate to, and I found others more difficult. But it really gives a perspective of the life of the city. One of my favorite stories was that of Barbara Tucker, protester at Parliament Square. Brian Haw started a peace camp at the famous square, just outside Westminster Abbey in 2001, exposing the consequences of the UK and US foreign policy. He became a symbol of the anti-war movement, and the camp lasted for 12 years of peaceful protest. "Protesters had planted crops in the square, including lettuce and carrots. There was a kitchen with drinking water in the Peace Camp". I just learnt that, sadly,  the last tents were removed this May, so I consider myself lucky that we actually saw the camp on its last months this January. Here's an excerpt of her story, from the book:
Barbara Tucker / Protester.

"I always say, every single building around here should be covered with the truth. It should be all over the place, you know? Then they'd soon stop, wouldn't they? Because what I've noticed is, they don't mind doing what they're doing, but they really don't do shame. What they're doing is really shameful. It beggars belief. You have to share that truth. The dynamic is brilliant here, because the global community of people come past, and we're giving them the opportunity to learn as much as they want. Not only to give you information , but to show you that yes, you can challenge your government. Yes, you can say no. The people who are suffering and dying will never be forgotten. while we're here. You know? And if that was happening to your family member, you'd want somebody to speak out about wouldn't you, really? 

I say to people, 'Welcome to Westminster Village. The only thing we do well is making a killing out of the suffering of others'. I've been arrested thirty-nine times in five years. I've learnt that if you cannot stand your ground in a public space to tell the truth without violence, you shouldn't be doing what you're doing. It's those in the government who duck and dive, and run and hide behind their gate, the weapons, the cheap sound bites in the TV studios and the corrupt courts. Some nights when they have a late night getting out I stand here with the loudspeaker and I say to them, as my little bedtime story: you are going to spend the rest of your miserable lives looking over your shoulders, checking your holiday itineraries, cos' whether it's ten years, twenty years or thirty years from now, you know, people will hunt you down, bring you to justice- we're not saying we're going to murder you or slaughter you, but we'll bring you to justice and change the systems that have allowed this to happen where human life is not protected. It's my little bedtime story. It's like, go to sleep with that one.

I've got 'Arrest war criminals' or 'Stop killing children' or other banners. They've got big tough machine guns. Protecting what? It just wakes up people. (...) We are in the belly of the beast, really. We're surrounded. I say to people who pass by, I say on the loudspeaker, as long as this country will want to occupy other countries, then we're occupying Westminster Village. We will occupy your minds, your time, your money, to remind the thousands of people that work in Westminster, that all you do is perpetuate the lies of this government that lead to the suffering of innocent civilians. And that when 90 per cent of the casualties of these legal wars are affecting civilians, it can't be war.


If we're going to have a normal world, let's bring people together. Because they try and portray it, 'Maad people over there', because that's the game, isn't it really. 'They're mad over there'. Let's make it as hard for you to go over there and discover that actually it's quite interesting, you know, who's doing what. I'd love to see this open, you know, as a sort of people's square. It's got to be kept open for everyone. What's the point of having a square if there's no access to it? It's got to be the people's square you know. It should remain with the people for ever. "

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