Monday, 14 November 2011

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Tectonic movements in the British media

Official inquiries as a result of the phone hacking scandal are rocking the British media landscape [REUTERS]

Tectonic movements in the British media

The phone hacking scandal that rocked News of the World to its core is still causing uneasiness in the British media.

Can the media industry in Britain restore public trust, which is ebbing away in the wake of the scandal over phone-hacking by employees of the Murdoch-owned News International? The grand institutions of British media are taking a long hard look at themselves and their media ethics following the public outcry over the News of the World hacking scandal, clearly anxious over what inquiries into this will reveal.

On September 6, James Murdoch was recalled to a Parliamentary Select Committee on the Media for further questioning: at the same time, across town, a list of high powered media figures gathered at a Westminster Media Forum conference titled “News Now”.

“Everybody here I would hope is in favour of a free press: it’s the life blood of democracy,” Mark Lewis, lawyer for the family of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler, told the conference. Dowler’s voice mail had been hacked by the News of the World staff, who deleted her phone messages, giving false hope to the Dowler family that Milly was alive.

“We talk about the risk of state regulation, of state control of the press,” Lewis said. “We talk about Stalinism but we have a problem if we go the other way and have corporate control of the press, that’s corporate Stalinism, and if we have too great a control by any corporation then we lose sight of democracy.”

Lord Inglewood, chair of the House of Lords Select Committee on Communications, led the Media Forum discussion, which centred on the failure of checks and balances that permitted such corporate erosion of democracy in the UK by the Murdoch empire. The revelations of July 2011 showed the extent of phone-hacking and the News of the World executives’ powerful influence over the British police and politicians, including a succession of Prime Ministers. Tony Blair, it was recently revealed, was godfather to one of Rupert Murdoch’s children.

Current Prime Minister David Cameron’s appointment of former News of the World editor Andy Coulson as his press officer, after Coulson had been sacked in 2007 in connection with phone hacking, also demonstrates the unhealthy influence of the Murdochs over democratic governance.

“Some have called this a shift to a ‘public-relations democracy’,” said Professor Natalie Fenton, co-director at Goldsmith’s Leverhulme research centre, University of London. “Politicians are at the mercy of hungry journalists who can make or break their career. Politicians put PR before sound policy-making and journalists intimidate policy-makers with threats of media campaigns that will make them unelectable”.

The phone hacking scandal caused a major shock for News Corp[GALLO/GETTY]

At the launch of the Hacked Off campaign by the victims of phone-hacking, Fenton had “sensed the palpable fear of the MPs in the room – and a very explicit understanding of the courage it had taken to speak out against the Murdoch Empire.”

That kind of media activity “isn’t about speaking truth to power,” she said, “it’s about conducting character assassinations of people who irritate certain people and secret meetings with those in ministerial office where acceptable terms of media policy may be laid down”.

Mary Hockaday, head of the newsroom at the publicly-funded BBC, said that when we all look back on 2011 what will stand out about the news industry will be the sheer number of news stories and the breadth of the news agenda - from the Arab Spring to the summer riots… but after that, of course, hacking. “This has been a year when this slow-burning story finally begun unravelling at speed and sucked media police and politicians right into it,” she said.

The Select Committee was asking Murdoch and other newspaper representatives whether they had misled Parliament at earlier hearings. Those led to a formal inquiry by Lord Justice Leveson into the standards of the press, looking at the relationship between the press and the police and the press and politics.

Its brief is to inquire into the culture, practices, and ethics of the press, looking at the contacts and the relationships between national newspapers and politicians and police, the extent to which the current policy and regulatory framework has failed including in relation to data protection; and the extent to which there was a failure to act on previous warnings about media misconduct.

There are also moves to reform the regulation of the media in Britain, to support the integrity and freedom of the press, with the plurality of the media, and its independence, including from government, while encouraging the highest ethical and professional standards. Regulation, however, worries media managers.

Tom Kent is deputy managing editor and Standards Editor at Associated Press. He would prefer that media organisations remained self-policing and practised a code of ethics “integral to the culture of their particular organisations”.

Professor Natalie Fenton responded that this approach has failed to protect media in the interests of the public: “Regulation of the press has always been seen as tantamount to authoritarian rule… It’s seen as deliberate interference with the inner vision and the freedom of the press and it’s been profoundly anti democratic.”

“Yet we have to now face up to the fact that this approach has actually done precious little to protect the public interest in the provision of news and its contribution to democratic life,” Fenton continued: “maybe it has done quite a lot to encourage commercial news vandalism.”

Public-service broadcasting is regulated by law in the UK and, Fenton said, there “we see some of the very best in investigative journalism. It’s not perfect, but it does expose the nonsense that imposing standards on a news industry inevitably leads to anti-democratic practise and diminishes journalistic integrity.”

If we accept that there is a connection between news and democracy, that news provides the vital resources of information gathering, deliberation, and analysis – then surely,” Fenton concluded, “it’s not unreasonable to accept that it’s any government’s democratic responsibility to ensure the conditions are in place to promote democratic practise.

An excessively liberalised press has failed to provide the freedom to practise independent journalism in the public interest.”

Solicitor Mark Lewis said that the scandal did not start in 2011, “it didn’t start with Milly Dowler’s family when that was exposed”. That revelation simply broke the “wall of silence” about what the Murdoch press - and other newspaper groups - had been doing. Lewis has had “phone calls from other groups’ lawyers who said ‘if you mention us, we’re going to sue you’.”

All the newspaper groups say their journalists follow the Press Complaints Commission Code of conduct and abide by the criminal law “but what they don’t say is whether they did all the time, and whether they have looked at past actions by individual reporters," Lewis said.

Investigating properly is “something that’s worth while doing, it helps democracy,” Lewis concluded, “but actions which don’t do that which, break the law for no purpose at all, other than to feed a story which isn’t in the public interest, or to create a story – that’s not worth while at all.”

Society is bigger than government

Words and images ©Pennie Quinton 2011
Society is bigger than Government

I had been out of London when the riots began, having a genteel Sunday afternoon in Stratford-on-Avon. My mobile rang as I was standing in a queue at the Royal Shakespeare company: the ringtone blared from my handset generating a severe frown from the one woman taking forever dealing with enquiries at the counter. I quickly stifled it.

“Where are you?” growled the voice down the phone of a friend – a campaigner for Kurdish rights from north London.

“Oh, I am in Leamington Spa visiting my sister and we are trying to see something at the RSC!”

“I thought you would be out in the middle of it all, photographing.” She said.

“Photographing what; in the middle of all what?” I asked, puzzled.

“Oh the police have shot another man dead, and the demonstration against his death turned into a riot, but the organisers of the protest have condemned the riot, people have been made homeless because their apartment block has been burned down. It is chaos!”

“Riots in London why?” I asked, inwardly cursing my bad timing for leaving the city.

More ferocious stares from the grey haired woman manning the counter…

“Er, well I am at the theatre; I can’t really talk, will be back later on tonight.”

I had already been fourth place in the queue for over ten minutes, which grew ever longer as the attendant fumbled and fussed. I wondered if queuing, an oft-observed cliché about English life, like much else in Stratford-on-Avon, was deliberately being overdone for the American tourist market. I doubted queues were much of a feature of Elizabethan life, although rioting was probably more common in Shakespeare’s time and after my visit to the town of the great man’s birth I could see why he could not wait to get to London to join in with all that violence and debauchery, just as I could not wait to return to photograph the debauchery of the second Elizabethan age.

The last decade of Elizabeth Tudor’s reign has been recognized by historians as an exceptionally volatile period, characterized by “high prices, food shortages, heavy taxation" and major wars against Spain and Ireland.

As I walked around the RSC souvenir shop, I could see the staff discreetly nudging each other and pointing at me as if I was going to steal something: they must have heard me discuss the news of the riot with my sister and thought we were a mini looting team, day-tripping from London.

London is the city in which I grew up and I always feel a sense of relief on my return – not least after being in Stratford-on-Avon. As news came through that Hackney was kicking off, I felt I had to get out and see what was happening.

I have filmed and photographed demonstrations all over the world since completing my Masters in Fine Art at Central Saint Martins, which was where my work began to focus on mass movements, insurrection and protest. Discontent and unfairness bug me and keep me awake at night. I have to work out why these things happen; this motivating factor regularly drives me into the streets and even into conflict zones with my cameras to see, to understand. The media is mediated; I need to see for myself to know why people suddenly express rage and frustration. I’m left wondering why they don’t express rage and frustration all the time. Why riots in London now and not following the police shooting of Charles de Menezes in Stockwell in 2005?

And now London is in shock about the rioting, with many expressing outrage feeling their sense of security violated. BBC News Anchors’ first response to any understanding expressed concerning the possible causes underlying the riots is a pithy but loaded: ‘But surely you don't condone this?’ Right now, people are venting and expressing their hurt, but simply venting will not solve the problems that have instigated these riots.

In Elizabethan London a fabulously wealthy elite lived cheek-by-jowl with a thoroughly destitute majority. Even when gainfully employed, workers in handicrafts earned not much more than subsistence wages: for example, a 1589 proclamation prescribes wages for London linen weavers of 6d a day with meat and drink, or 10d a day without meat and drink. Given this polarization, it is not surprising that the 1590s were especially marked by social disorder and protest.

The public spending cuts this year meant many of the youth summer schemes in London did not run. These riots suggest boredom – and inarticulate rage. The youth are smashing and grabbing the things society tells them to want. The coalition government's austerity measures have hit this generation hard. There will be no higher education for those who cannot take on burdensome debt. The chance of ever being able to afford to buy a home in London seems remote – except for those whose wealthier parents can provide the deposit for a home loan. A generation of young people have been left behind by this coalition’s policies and the policies of previous governments. How can these young people see that they have anything invested in British society that will enable them to become fulfilled and successful adults?

Pennie Quinton is a freelance journalist based in East London. You can read more of her writings on her website

Friday, 29 July 2011

Audio of Debate "Why does Street Photography make us paranoid."

Audio and Video highlights of Debate organised by 'the London Festival of Street photography' on why does street photography make us paranoid.

Anna Minton, Author of 'Ground Control'
James Welch, Liberty legal director
Pennie Quinton, Photographer and Journalist
Dermont Robinson, Detective Superintendant, Head of Counter Terrorism, City of London Police
Terry Hanley, Planning and Contingency Director for Knightsbridge Guarding

[Audio] http://londonstreetphotography​​reetphotographymakeusparanoid_​debateaudio.mp3
Video highlights of debate: "Why does street photography make us paranoid"

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

©Pennie Quinton 2011
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"Free Gaza have a great day" Graffiti @ Gunnersbury train station

Full Moon over Tower blocks

©Pennie Quinton 2011

©Pennie Quinton 2011

©Pennie Quinton 2011

Monday, 20 June 2011

'Unsung hero' Brian Haw, 1949-2011

On Sunday June 19, 2011, Brian Haw died peacefully in his sleep following a long fight against lung cancer.

Brian’s death ends his decade-long challenge to the British establishment and his constant reminder to Members of Parliament and civil servants entering the Houses of Parliament in London of the brutal effects on ordinary people of economic sanctions and wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

On June 2, 2001, Brian Haw left his wife and seven children and his work as a carpenter to live day and night outside Parliament, to focus attention on the devastating impact of the economic sanctions on Iraq and the plight of children born with birth defects attributed to the use of depleted uranium munitions in the 1991 Gulf war.

Brian endured threats, violence and abuse for the duration of his protest. “I want to go back to my own kids and look them in the face again,” he wrote in 2002, “knowing that I've done all I can to try and save the children of Iraq and other countries who are dying because of my government's unjust, amoral, fear- and money-driven policies. These children and people of other countries are every bit as valuable and worthy of love as my precious wife and children.”

In 2003, when the UK and US commenced their war against Iraq, Brian began fasting and praying with other protesters who joined him in sleeping rough in Parliament Square. Laws were drafted and passed attempting to remove Brian – but he manage to remain.

Member of Parliament John McDonnell recalls how, with fellow-MP Tony Benn, he acted as a character witness for Brian in his many appearances in court, including some brought by the Metropolitan Police on accusations of aggression and assault. “Brian was bearing witness to the horrendous war crimes in Iraq, reminding MPs of their own guilt,” McDonnell says. “He was always willing to engage in debate but was continually harassed by the state. He remained a pacifist and a true democrat. Argument and debate were the only tools that he would use in his fight against injustice. He won repeatedly in court against the police.”

“Brian was in the British tradition of protest against great injustices,” McDonnell adds, “alongside the long-term picket outside the South African embassy against Apartheid.”

Jeremy Corbyn MP says Brian “single-handedly managed to irritate the British establishment simply by his presence in Parliament Square, every day reminding MPs of their preference for lies and deceit regarding Iraq and Afghanistan over the truth that British weapons and arms have destroyed thousands of innocent lives.”

Rikki Blue is an independent film-maker who covered many of the protests and events that spiraled out of Brian’s long struggle to remain in Parliament Square. He recalls that Brian “always worried about the kids. Everything that is wrong about war is that innocents die and the biggest symbol of innocence are children.”

“Brian demanded that the world stops killing kids,” Blue expands: “He was such an angry man but when he smiled it was like the heavens opened. He suffered so much persecution and violence during his time in the square – but nothing could shake his belief that killing kids is wrong.”

Emma Sangster, of the Voices in the Wilderness campaign against sanctions in Iraq, recalls how she first met Brian ten years ago: “Initially he had just three little placards – but he created a space where people could learn about the world in a way that was very formative before he was beleaguered by all the legal pressures the laws especially drafted to get rid of him.”

Later the authorities’ determination to remove him became more entrenched but, Sangster says, “truth was stranger than fiction in the ways he managed to survive and remain. In 2002 he won the case that made his protest lawful: he stood his ground but he was under lots of pressure day after day.”

“In 2004,” Sangster recalls, “I took my newborn son to meet Brian at a vigil at Downing Street. It was very special. Brian had great affection for my son Tom as well as all the children he met in Parliament Square.”

“His legacy,” Sangster concludes, “will be one of inspiration that people can stand up as individuals against the great wrongs. That was his message and it went all over the world. He was iconic, inspired by the Christian tradition of people who stand up and speak out: this was what drove him during the early period of his protest and is what I remember him most for.”

Milan Rai, an author and editor of Peace News also pays tribute: “We first met Brian while holding our Friday vigils in Parliament Square on the Iraq sanctions. We used to enjoy speaking with him and supporting him.”

Brian Haw became, Rai says, “a symbol for people in Britain who treasured him for speaking out against the lies that were told about the invasion of Iraq. He became a channel for people’s anger. Brian was motivated by a very deep love of children: he felt so fiercely about the plight of the children in Iraq, he was going to stand up for those children as if they were his own. He was a man of uncompromising principles who touched a chord.”

In 2004 I filmed Brian Haw welcoming American peace campaigner Cindy Sheehan, whose son had been killed in Iraq. Brian and Cindy threw their arms around each other and wept over the grim images of mutilated children arranged over Brian’s protest display. They both kept saying, “see what they are doing to the kids, see what they are doing to the kids.” Crowds of people followed them to the Prime Minister’s residence at 10 Downing Street, where they continued to protest for the rest of the day.

After the first year of his protest Brian had amassed a large number of placards denouncing US and British bombing of Iraq: the local authority, Westminster City Council, went to court to end the vigil. The judge, Mr Justice Gray declined, finding that: “This application raises questions as to the interaction between the right and the duty of a local authority to remove obstructions from its highways on the one hand, and the right of the individual citizen to use those highways to exercise his or her right to freedom of expression on the other hand… I am not satisfied in the circumstances of this case that there is any pressing social need to interfere with the display of placards so as to protect the right of others to pass and re-pass [the highway].”

One significant aspect of the case was an individual’s right under Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which guarantees freedom of speech. Mr Justice Gray added that he was “not persuaded” the defendant's placards could be considered advertising. “Looking at the issue of reasonableness in the round and taking account of the duration, place and purpose and the effect of the obstruction, as well as the fact that the defendant is exercising his Convention right,” Mr Justice Gray came to the conclusion “that the obstruction for which the defendant is responsible is not unreasonable: I decline to grant the injunction.”

After the ruling, Brian raced outside the courts and embraced a Buddhist monk and nun who had held a vigil outside the Royal Courts of Justice and told them: “God sends us good judges.” He pointed to pictures of sick Iraqi children, declaring: “This has been hidden from our people for so long. This is an abomination. If the people knew what is being done in their name in Iraq, they would be horrified.” Asked how long he would continue his protest he said: “As long as it takes. When do you give up on the kids?”

With the death of Brian Haw London has lost one its most unusual and distinctive landmarks. Anyone who passed the Houses of Parliament could hardly miss him. Another indicator of his wide impact was Britain’s most coveted art award, the Turner Prize, being won by Mark Wallinger for rebuilding Brian’s Parliament Square protest in the Tate Britain gallery.

John McDonnell now plans to put a resolution (an “Early Day Motion”) before the Houses of Parliament calling for the erection of “a monument to Brian Haw that celebrates peace, rather than celebrating war as do many of London’s great monuments.”

Monday, 30 May 2011

The revolution in heaven will not be televised

The revolution in heaven will not be televised


And I was hurt and scared and shocked when they sent a limousine from heaven to take her to God if there is one...1

Now that limousine has taken Gil Scott-Heron to heaven; and he will see to it that God, if there is one, has a lot of explaining to do. The revolution in heaven will not be televised, but poets undermine the power of empires and their words live on.

I first heard ‘The revolution will not be televised’ on the grassroots independent media project when it was covering Prague ‘S26’ demonstration against the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on September 26, 2000.

I was there for the demonstration – an overwhelming experience that changed my life and worldview.It sent shock-waves through governments and succeeded in focusing attention on issues such as the legitimacy of the IMF and the clash between World Trade Organization rules and UN environmental conventions.

‘The revolution will not be televised’ became the soundtrack for this unexpected metamorphosis.

Despite first being released in 1970 (on Small talk at 125th and Lenox), in 2000 it resounded relevant and fresh amid the carnivalesque tactics of beautiful chaos of the pink- and-silver bloc that disrupted and halted the IMF conference. The Carnival Queen entered the lair of the IMF, through tear gas, police batons and street fighting, chasing the beast away from its prey (for the time being)2.

There were cameras – our cameras – everywhere. This revolution was going to be televised, but with more than the one-sided, editorializing, clichéd mainstream media descriptions of ‘a hard core of demonstrators’.

En route to the conference centre where the IMF were meeting, Prague’s high concrete Nusle Bridge was the scene of a long showdown between demonstrators and cops. The Italian Ya Basta group3 were at the front in home-made padding with plastic dustbin lid shields – a small army of Michelin people, taking the police blows and pepper spray.

After many hours in solidarity linking arms and pushing forwards against the armoured personnel carriers of the Czech policie, we went for food.

We emerged from a curry house an hour later onto Wenceslas Square to rejoin the crowds.

Due to some planning error two unescorted buses carrying IMF delegates drove right into the middle of hundreds of milling protesters.

At the sight of the crowds the delegates stared out at us frozen with terror, hanging tightly onto the yellow poles inside the bus, their complexions pale as the name-tags pinned to their neat dark suits.

The crowd, also frozen in stunned silence, stared right back, unsure how to react. Here were the deciders of policies that impacted on so many lives worldwide, against which the protest had been struggling, vulnerable and exposed in our midst, staring fearfully at us staring confused and unsure back at them.

Static-laden, the atmosphere was filled with potential confrontation. No-one knew what came next.

A young woman darted out to the front of the bus, took out a spray can and sprayed a big smiley across the windscreen in shaving cream. There were cheers and laughter. The silence and tension was broken.

A small regiment of riot police ran single-file into the crowd, briskly escorting the delegates off of the buses to their nearby hotel, refusing to acknowledge the surrounding crowds, then vanished as fast as they had come.

Later, listening to this story reported on Indymedia radio; I was amazed and inspired by the track that followed: ‘The revolution will not be televised’.

This song and the moment of confrontation between the IMF delegates and we, the people, are for me intertwined.

The fear on the delegates’ faces and the fear that as a member of a mob I could be called to act violently against defenceless people acts as a reminder that we are all human and vulnerable and of how easy it is to abuse power at the moment we have power over another.

The young woman with the can of shaving foam kept it real. Her gesture thawed the ice in which we were frozen at that tense moment.

Over the next five years the anti-globalisation protests continued and the Indymedia phenomenon grew; expanding into radio, video and online projects across the world with the slogan ‘Don’t hate the media, be the media.’ From this dramatic introduction to protest and grass roots media I became involved in Indy media projects in: London, UK, France, Italy, Belgium, New York, Switzerland and Spain.

That hearing of “the revolution will not be televised” on the streets of Prague completely changed the direction of my life and I played Gill Scott Heron regularly on the weekly radio slot I produced and hosted on Resonance FM for five years, Global Indy reports.

Gil Scott-Heron’s words and music continued as an inspiration. And his poem ‘Whitey on the moon’ remains pertinent in the face of the government cuts and austerity measures while the banks are bailed out with business as usual:

Was all that money I made las’ year

(for Whitey on the moon?)

How come there ain’t no money here ?

(Hmm! Whitey’s on the moon)...

I think I’ll sen’ these doctor bills

(to Whitey on the moon.)4

Global capitalism is failing the vast bulk of the world's population.

RIP Gil Scott-Heron: long live your words.

1‘Coming from a broken home’ Now and then: the poems of Gil Scott-Heron (2001) Edinburgh: Canongate, p 1

2Prague World Bank / IMF 2000 from A Year in the Streets

3See interview at

4‘Whitey on the moon’ Now and then: the poems of Gil Scott-Heron (2001) Edinburgh: Canongate, p 21

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Canal Art one Sunday April 2011

©Pennie Quinton 2011

©Pennie Quinton 2011

©Pennie Quinton 2011

©Pennie Quinton 2011

©Pennie Quinton 2011

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©Pennie Quinton 2011

The Magician he sparkles in satin and velvet, you gaze at his splendour with eyes you've not used yet" Donovan lyric from Sunny Goodge Street

©Pennie Quinton 2011

The Magician he sparkles in satin and velvet, you gaze at his splendour with eyes you've not used yet" Donovan lyric from Sunny Goodge Street

©Pennie Quinton 2011

The street of the definite article

©Pennie Quinton 2011
©Pennie Quinton 2011

The street of the definite article

The strand.

The one two the iambic chaos

The rush through it, on it and under it

The busy busy

The buses the bridges the protests

The lawyers the law courts the justice,

The cafes, the authors

The Dickens, the Thackery the Makepeace

The temple inn

The no children

The Strand school for civil service gone,

The whirling doors on the King’s building

The Students, the must just read hard enough

The elect alumni, on the plate glass

The mini deities to become

The bus stop that never stops

The sun dial that never sees the sun,

The empty office blocks,

The man suits that always hurry

The black cabs

The cyclists

The lights

The waitings

The crossings

The coffee bars,

The Somerset house and my love my love

The river.

©Pennie Quinton 2011

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Vale Vittorio Arrigoni, 'hero of Palestine'

Vale Vittorio Arrigoni, 'hero of Palestine'

The murder of a peace activist who fought for Palestinian human rights has left me crying with rage at such cruelty and stupidity

  • penni
  • Italian pro-Palestinian activist Vittorio Arrigoni killed in Gaza Strip
    Vittorio Arrigoni in April 2010. Photograph: International Solidarity Movement/handout/EPA

    Hearing of the murder of Vittorio Arrigoni, a committed peace activist who for the last 10 years campaigned for recognition of Palestinian human rights under Israeli occupation, has left me shaking and crying with rage at the sheer cruelty and stupidity of those who would carry out such an act. According to news reports, Arrigoni was murdered by the Tawheed and Jihad group, which operates in the Gaza Strip in opposition to the Hamas government.

    His kidnap and murder came as a terrible shock to all who knew him. Known to his friends as Vik, as a human rights campaigner he was an unstoppable force.

    Even after Israel's forces deported him from the West Bank he still took part in a direct action, associated with the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), to highlight Israel's deportation of peace activists, taking a flight to Ben Gurion airport in the hope of being allowed to attend a peace conference in Bethlehem – only to be deported after spending Christmas 2005 in detention.

    I first met and interviewed Arrigoni while he was preparing for this action. He described to me how, after some years of suffering depression, he undertook volunteer work in Africa and Eastern Europe. He soon found himself in Palestine as part of ISM and felt that he had to do all he could to help bring about equality and human rights for Palestinians living under occupation and to raise awareness outside Palestine of the difficulties and injustices of their lives.

    He was aboard the 2008 Free Gaza Movement vessel and was imprisoned in Israel several times. He was in Gaza throughout "Operation Cast Lead", helping medics and reporting what was happening. Arrigoni wrote for the Italian newspaper Il Manifesto and for Peace Reporter and in 2010 he wrote Gaza Stay Human, a book based on what he witnessed and survived during Operation Cast Lead.

    Khaleel Shaheen of the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights in Gaza, a friend of Arrigoni, says: "What has happened is a black day in Palestinian history. The horrific murder of our friend Vittorio is totally condemned. We ask the local authorities to bring the criminals to justice as soon as possible. He is in our minds always. He is a hero of Palestine."

    Arrigoni's brutal murder comes after the murder of a settler family and the shooting of theatre director Juliano Mer-Khamis last week. Writing as someone who has spent a great deal of time in the West Bank over the years, these events seem alien to the Palestinian culture of resistance I have come to know and respect. Such actions smack of some kind of dirty war, based on motives that have little to do with the ongoing struggle for Palestinian self-determination.

    On Friday Arrigoni's friends gathered at the Italian embassy in London with candles and flowers. Demonstrations also took place following the Friday prayer across from the UN headquarters in Gaza. The villages of Bil'in and Al Masara dedicated their weekly Friday demonstrations to Arrigoni; and there were gatherings in Al Manara square in Ramallah and at Al Jundi al Majhull in Gaza City. A mourning tent will open at the fisherman's port Al Mina and in Nablus, in the north of the West Bank, political parties have called for an event in the city centre, condemning Arrigoni's killing and celebrating his work.

    Vik took and withstood much violence but stayed so human and loving until the end – dear Vittorio Arrigoni, you are deeply missed.

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Black Block on the move in London

©Pennie Quinton 2011

©Pennie Quinton 2011

Sunset over Bow February 2011

©Pennie Quinton 2011

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©Pennie Quinton 2011