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Posted on 20th November, 2011

Free

expression?

 

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Another Indian theme for this posting, as I attended Diwali on the Square on Sunday 16th. Trafalgar Square that is, a strange location considering it's the siting of a statue of Sir Henry Havelock, commemorated for his part in 1857 as we Brits viciously destroyed the Indian Mutiny. But Indians have forgiven us on that point it seems, as several thousands of them, together with plenty of us outsiders, enjoyed snippets of their culture within betel-spitting distance of Sir Henry.

 

India Against Corruption-GB protesters at Trafalgar Square, 16th October 2011.

 

I was there with my camera of course, taking pics of the opening garba (dance), and the later, less-structured varieties. Unfortunately though, I found it difficult to get a decent shot in the style I wanted. What I did want was to be in the thick of them, capturing the animation and free expression so common with people caught up by pulsating beats and rhythms. Well it was intimate without doubt, but just too intimate perhaps, with hands chopped-off left right and centre (well, left and right anyway), and stray hands / heads etc flying into the frame from all directions. In addition to that, certain other things happened so fast that I hadn't got the camera set properly, and I either missed-out, or, messed-up. Overall then, out of about 60 shots, just a couple will survive the bin.

 

Luckily, all was not lost, as the day and location also attracted a couple of small demos to shoot. Considering the nature of the adjacent audience, it was not surprising perhaps that one related to India. But, coincidentally, it also related to the lecture I attended by Sir Mark Tully at the NPG a week or so earlier. The thread linking the demo to Sir Mark was corruption, with the "India Against Corruption - Great Britain" group (IAC-GB) supporting Anna Hazare's campaign to implement a strong anti-corruption law in that country. I do wonder though if IAC-GB accepts the irony of the situation, should Sir Mark's evaluation be correct. Ie: that bribes are needed to get any law enforced in India. Will we see people bribing others to enforce a law, that stops people being bribed perhaps? The mind boggles. Anyway, if IAC-GB is successful, perhaps they could then turn their attention to the same rotten situation that exists in the UK?

 

Talking of corruption in the UK leads me nicely to the second demo, a campaign to get what his supporters see as 'justice' for a certain John Twomey. Mr Twomey was convicted of a 2004, £1.75 million robbery from premises at Heathrow, in the first non-jury trial in the UK for almost 400 years. However, his allies claim that it was a 'revenge' attack by the Metropolitan Police, because Mr Twomey gave evidence some years ago against their officers during the Operation Countryman anti-corruption investigation. They also say that the conviction was unfair, because it was decided by a single judge who had been influenced by non-public evidence supplied to him by the Met. My understanding of their argument is that had there been '12 good men and true' making the decision, it would not have been possible to present evidence privately (using what is known as public interest immunity), and that could have given a different result.

 

I make no comment whatsoever about the guilt or otherwise of Mr Twomey: I'd never even heard of him until Sunday in fact. However, I note that it is the 2003 Criminal Justice Act that allows trial without jury, a law brought in by Blair. Now this couldn't be the very same freedom-supressing Blair who actioned a systematic denial of photographers' rights could it, as part-justification of his illegal war in Iraq? Justification, by aggressively-stoking totally irrational fears that all photographers are terrorists, taking pics to help plan attacks in the UK. Enough said I think.

 

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