‘No justice, no peace’: Tens of thousands in London protest death of Floyd

1 / 4
Protesters take part in a demonstration on Wednesday, June 3, 2020, in Hyde Park, London, over the death of George Floyd, a black man who died after being restrained by Minneapolis police. (AP Photo)
2 / 4
Protesters march down Whitehall during an anti-racism demonstration in London, on June 3, 2020, after George Floyd, an unarmed black man died during an arrest in Minneapolis, USA. (AFP)
3 / 4
A protester holds a painting of George Floyd while taking part in a demonstration on Wednesday, June 3, 2020, in London, over the death of Floyd in police custody, in Minneapolis, on May 25. (AP Photo)
4 / 4
Protesters march during an anti-racism demonstration in London, on June 3, 2020, after George Floyd, an unarmed black man died during an arrest in Minneapolis, USA. (AFP)
Short Url
Updated 03 June 2020

‘No justice, no peace’: Tens of thousands in London protest death of Floyd

  • Floyd died after a white policeman pinned his neck under a knee for nearly nine minutes in Minneapolis on May 25
  • Floyd’s death unleashed long simmering rage over perceived racial bias in the US criminal justice system

LONDON: Tens of thousands of people chanting “no justice, no peace, no racist police” marched through central London on Wednesday to protest against racism after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
Floyd, an unarmed black man, died after a white police officer knelt on his neck, an event that has set off the biggest anti-racism protests seen in the United States since the 1960s civil rights era.
Demonstrators have also come out in cities around the world in solidarity with Floyd and to express anger over racism. Protesters in London chanted “George Floyd” and “Black Lives Matter” as they marched through the city center.
On Parliament Square, on Trafalgar Square and at other locations, thousands knelt on one knee, a form of protest known as “taking a knee” famously used by American footballer Colin Kaepernick to denounce police brutality against black people.
Some demonstrators urged police officers lining the route of the march to also take a knee, and a few of the officers did.
“This has been years in the coming, years and years and years of white supremacy,” 30-year-old project manager Karen Koromah told Reuters.
“We’ve come here with our friends to sound the alarm, to make noise, to dismantle supremacist systems,” Koromah said, cautioning that unless there was action the United Kingdom would face problems like those in the United States.
“I don’t want to start crying,” she said of the images from the United States. “It makes my blood boil.”
The demonstrators booed as they walked past 10 Downing Street, official residence of Prime Minister Boris Johnson, and some also booed and took a knee in front of New Scotland Yard, London’s police headquarters.
Some protesters waved banners with slogans such as: “The UK is not innocent: less racist is still racist,” “Racism is a global issue” and “If you aren’t angry you aren’t paying attention.”
The event was almost entirely peaceful. There were brief scuffles between police officers and some protesters outside 10 Downing Street but they were over within minutes.
Johnson, who was inside at the time giving the government’s daily briefing on the coronavirus outbreak, was asked what he would say to US President Donald Trump about Floyd’s death and the protests it has sparked.
“We mourn George Floyd, and I was appalled and sickened to see what happened to him,” he said.
“My message to President Trump, to everybody in the United States, from the UK is that — and it’s an opinion I’m sure is shared by the overwhelming majority of people around the world — racism and racist violence has no place in our society.”
Johnson has been criticized in the past for comments that many considered racist. In 2018, when he was foreign minister, he wrote in a newspaper column that Muslim women wearing burkas looked like bank robbers or letter boxes.
Outside Downing Street, some protesters chanted “Boris is a racist.”
British police chiefs said they were appalled by the way Floyd lost his life and by the violence that followed in US cities, but called on protesters in the United Kingdom to work with police as coronavirus restrictions remain in place.
“We can see feelings are running really high today. It’s been a peaceful protest,” said police commander Alex Murray.
“We’re committed to make London a lot safer and to build trust with all communities,” he said.
Many marchers said racism was a British problem too.
“It’s not like this is just about someone dying, we live our lives made awfully aware of our race. That’s not right, that’s not the natural order,” said Roz Jones, who came to Britain as a child from South Africa.


Kabul begins freeing Taliban

Newly freed Taliban prisoners walk at Pul-e-Charkhi prison, in Kabul, Afghanistan August 13, 2020. Picture taken August 13, 2020. (REUTERS)
Updated 15 August 2020

Kabul begins freeing Taliban

  • Release of final 400 inmates was approved by traditional Afghan grand assembly

KABUL: After months of delay, Afghanistan’s government has started releasing the last 400 Taliban inmates in its custody, clearing the way for long-awaited peace talks, officials confirmed on Friday.

Eighty of the 400 were set free on Thursday and, according to the government, more will be freed in the coming days. The release was a condition to begin intra-Afghan negotiations to end 19 years of conflict in the war-torn country. The talks, already delayed twice, are expected to take place in Qatar once the release process is complete.
“The release was to speed up efforts for direct talks and a lasting, nationwide cease-fire,” the Afghan National Security Council said in a statement accompanied by video footage showing former Taliban inmates calling on insurgent leaders and the government to engage in peace talks.
The prisoner release follows an agreement signed by the US and the Taliban in Qatar in February that stipulated the exchange of prisoners between President Ashraf Ghani’s government and the militants, who have gained ground in recent years.
The process, involving 5,000 Taliban detainees held by Kabul and 1,000 security forces imprisoned by the militants, was slated to begin in early March and should have been followed by an intra-Afghan dialogue.
Ghani, initially resistant to the idea of freeing the Taliban inmates, began to release them under US pressure. Some 4,600 Taliban inmates were freed over the few past months, but Ghani refused to free the remaining 400, arguing they were behind major deadly attacks and that setting them free was outside his authority.
Faced by mounting pressure, after Eid Al-Adha holidays two weeks ago, the president vowed to summon a traditional grand assembly, the Loya Jirga, to help him decide if the remaining Taliban inmates should be freed or not.

FASTFACT

Footage showing men in uniforms mutilating the bodies of purported Taliban members went viral on social media this week, raising concerns that violence between security forces and the militants may impede the peace process despite the prisoner release.

Last week, the assembly approved the release, which is now underway and expected to be followed by the peace talks, in accordance with the US-Taliban deal.
The process, however, coincides with a spike in violence in the country and mutual accusations of an increase in assaults by the Taliban and Afghan government forces.
On Thursday, the Defense Ministry said it was probing a video circulating on social media showing men in army uniforms mutilating the bodies of purported Taliban fighters.
The UN requested that the incident be investigated. It remains unclear when and where it took place.
The Taliban, in a statement, said the bodies of their fighters were mutilated in the Arghandab district of the Zabul province.
Concerns are rising that similar acts of violence will further delay the peace process.
“Let us hope that this video does not become part of revenge-taking between the two sides and affect the process of peace. It is really unfortunate,” analyst Shafiq Haqpal told Arab News.
“As the violence continues, we see more brutal and shocking tactics from the sides and examples of revenge-taking, and that is very worrying and impacts any trust in a peace process,” Shaharzad Akbar, the chief of Afghanistan’s Independent Human Rights Commission, said in a Twitter post on Thursday.
“It is on the leadership of the two sides to have clear messages to their fighters to avoid war crimes and actions that further the instinct for revenge that will make the reconciliation that should come out of a peace process difficult,” she added.

Related