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Thursday's Buckhingham Palace Protest Against Royal Wedding Invite to Saudi invaders of Bahrain
rights and freedoms |
Friday April 29, 2011 19:18 by Ciaron - Giuseepe Conlon House, London Catholic Worker
...excuse the Gonzo journalism, it's the only genre I know! And I'm too old to change!
Link to Guardian photo of the Palace protest
Lat Thursday 10 a.m., on the eve of the Royal Wedding, Giuseppe Conlon House received a call out from Peter Tatchell to head down to Buckhigham Palace to support Bahrain exiles & human rights activists in their protest against the Royal wedding invite to Saudi invaders of Bahrain. We were able to scramble 5 Giuseppe Conlon House volunteers (2x Australian CW's, a Czech athiest, Scottish Marxist and a Polish cemeraman!) and got in there for kick off at 2pm...not a bad rapid response time!
It was a pretty weird scene down around the Palace last Thursday.
Eavesdropping on conversations was even weirder!
Young American, with stars and stripes draped over his shoulders,
to older English woman....
"You've supported us in our wars, so we're here to support you!"
(Gee that sounds like a fair deal..you get to send your sons and daughters to kill and die in one of our imperial outposts and we'll come to London to party! Go figure?)
There was a group of about hundred people acorss the road from the Palace with their backs turned to the Palace facing the park...great I thought this looks like a "turn ya back" protest thingy OR maybe it's Falun Gong about commence some collective yoga?
..........nope this crowd were trying to get on TV as the backdrop to a live U.S. brodascast on a temporary stage set up just within the park.
"You see your reflection in a stagnant pool
and are fulfiled...."
Bobby Dylan "Infidels"
It was a big crowd of devotees and the curious, heavilly policed, short cuts to the Palace Gates redevous didn't seem like an option. It took us a while to negotiate a path to the front gates of the Palace. When we arrived, our CW crew doubled the numbers. For some reason of sheer coincidence, all our guys were over 6 ft high
...so I shook hands with Peter and the Bahranians and said
"We left the short guys at home! (BOOM! BOOM!)
Also present was novelist, columnist and human rights defender Joan Smith. Eventually our crew took the Bahrain flags to create a backdrop for these folks. Curious crowds and a media pack started to gather and then the cops started to form what seemed (to the alert or the paranoid) like a loose kettle around us all.
Peter Tatchell kicked off the impromtu press conference.....
Mohamed Sadiq from "Justice for Bahrain" spoke about the situation in Bahrain since the recent Saudi invasion and mentioned that three activists in Bahrain had been sentenced to death there that morning. Peter and Joan spoke aout the human rights situation in Bahrain. I spoke about the power the Saud family wields in London stating " We stand with the London Metropolitan Police outraged at Tony Blair's last act as Prime Minsister cancelling a two year Serious Frauds Office corruption inquiry into a BAE slush fund for one Saudi Prince!"
I didn't hear any "here here!" or "amens, you tell it brother!" coming from the Met police who seemed to be circling closer aorund our party. It's interesting to note that neither Brown or Blair were invited to a wedding that seems to be quite clearly doubling as an event celebrating the British state...Thatcher and Major were invited! Go figure?
Anyways, the cops started stressing out and a pretty senior one had arrived. We tried to leave single file the way we had come, but were eventualy blocked after a hundred yards. We turned around. Peter is pretty good at demanding his/our rights and negotiating with (pushing the limits of) the cops. (I think this is because Peter comes from the more liberal southern Australian states in the '60's AND I come from Queensland in the '70's where you could expect to be bashed for suggesting anything to a cop OR just for asking street directions!). Cultural differences abound!
We were then joined by a couple of Bahranian families that quadrupled our original numbers. Peter insited on pausing and having us pose for some snap shots for the album, as the police insisted on us departing the scene as rapidly as possible. Peter is not a man to be rush the fine art of photography! These standoffs were stressful (for moi), kind of funny and offered opportunities for impromtu street speaking to curious passers by of varying degrees of sympathy. As much as red and white Bahrainian flags drew attention in a to our small party in large crowd, a growing number of cops surrounding you also catches the eye.
Anyways, we got out of there AND home safe and sound...and got quite a lot of media attention (for what it's worth?) for the issues we were concerned about. A photo of four vigil accompanied the lead story on the Guardian website overnight, so that can't hurt uh? Hopefully our small act lifted the spirits of the Bahranians at home and in exile. Hopefully it will cause some "disquiet and dismay" (just love that phrase!) amongst the ruling elites.
The themes of the speeches made, you can draw from Peter Tatchell's original press release and links provided below.
Saudi Prince invited, despite Saudi repression in Bahrain
7 royal tyrants on royal wedding guest list
William Hague and Queen approved royal despots
London - 28 April 2011
Novelist, columnist and human rights defender Joan Smith, and human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, will join Bahraini democracy supporters for a silent, dignified vigil outside the main gates of Buckingham Palace at 2pm this afternoon, Thursday 28 April.
"We are protesting against Saudi Prince, Mohamed bin Nawaf bin Abdulaziz, being invited to the royal wedding, despite his country's invasion, occupation and repression in Bahrain. The invitation by the Queen was approved by the Foreign Secretary William Hague, according to St James's Palace. This invitation is an insult the many people in Bahrain who have been murdered, arrested jailed and tortured," said human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, Director of the Peter Tatchell Foundation.
"Human rights activists in Bahrain report that 35 civilians have been killed, over 400 injured and four people have died in custody after beatings and torture. About 800 Bahrainis have been arrested, including opposition leaders. Shia mosques and shrines have been destroyed. Saudi military forces are helping with this repression," Mr Tatchell added.
See this report:
"The Saudi prince is one of seven leading royals from autocratic states who have been invited to the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton.
"It is deplorable that the Queen has invited royal representatives from the dictatorships in Saudi Arabia, Oman, Swaziland, Kuwait, Qatar, Brunei and Abu Dhabi. All seven royal families preside over severe human rights abuses, such as detention without trial, torture, the denial of free speech, restrictions on press freedom, bans on political parties, discrimination against women, oppression of minority faiths, homophobic persecution, ill-treatment of guest workers and the violent suppression of peaceful protests. The seven regimes are backed by western governments, despite their appalling human rights records.
"These invitations are a massive misjudgement by the monarch. They show the Queen is out of touch with the humanitarian values of most British people. She's putting royalty before human rights.
"The guest list displays a shocking insensitivity to the suffering of people who have been persecuted by these royal despots. It is an insult to the victims of dictatorship for our royal family to welcome and embrace these oppressors.
"The seven invitations should be withdrawn immediately, as a mark of respect for those who have been murdered, arrested, jailed and tortured.
"St James's Palace claims the Queen invited the seven dictatorial royals to William and Kate's wedding with the agreement of the Foreign Office. This approval was presumably sanctioned by the Foreign Secretary, William Hague.
"William Hague should come clean about the advice he gave the Queen. If he did authorise wedding invitations to royal tyrants, he has shown exceedingly poor judgement and caused great distress to the victims of royal repression. The British monarch and government should not be colluding with human rights abusers. We should be on the side of the victims," added Mr Tatchell.
St James's Palace has defended the wedding guest list, insisting that the Foreign Office had approved it. "Invitations are extended from the Queen following the long-held tradition of inviting other crowned heads of state; we have taken advice from the Foreign Office about their continued inclusion," a spokesman told the media last weekend.
See the official royal wedding invitation list here: http://tiny.cc/rr1dk
Further information: Peter Tatchell -
Mohamed Sadiq, Justice for Bahrain
Examples of human rights abuses by the seven countries whose royal representatives have been invited to Prince William's and Kate Middleton's wedding on 29 April: