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

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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)
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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)
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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)
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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)
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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.


Militant attack on Afghan prison frees hundreds

Afghan security personnel in front of a prison gate after an attack by Daesh that had freed hundreds in Jalalabad, east of Kabul, on Monday. (AP)
Updated 04 August 2020

Militant attack on Afghan prison frees hundreds

  • The attack, reportedly by Daesh, took place hours before end of cease-fire

KABUL: Militants affiliated with the Daesh group stormed a prison in eastern Afghanistan in a daylong siege that left at least 39 people dead, including the assailants, and freed nearly 400 of their fighters before security forces restored order, a government official said Monday.

The attack on the main prison in Jalalabad, in Nangarhar province, where several hundred Daesh fighters have been detained, began on Sunday afternoon with a car bomb detonated at the entrance to the jail.

The attack came hours before the end of a three-day ceasefire between the Afghan government and the Taliban, who immediately denied any involvement in the assault. Several Western media outlets reported that the Daesh had claimed responsibility.

The Nangarhar governor’s spokesman, Attaullah Khogyani, told Arab News that there was still gunfire on Monday morning, and that more than 20 civilians and personnel and three attackers have died in the fighting.

Two local security sources speaking on condition of anonymity said that nearly half of the prison’s 1,500 inmates managed to flee.

They said 20 assailants made their way into the prison and a number of explosions were heard from inside the jail.Residents said one group of attackers was firing on the jail from a nearby building and they reported heavy and sustained exchanges of small fire.

According to Khogyani, most of the escapees have been caught. He gave no further details about the attack.

The assault comes amid official claims that Daesh leaders have been arrested or killed in recent months, notably in Nangarhar, which used to be the group’s bastion.

“This is a major embarrassment for the government, which every now and then claims to have wiped out or paralyzed the Daesh. The government needs to answer why such a high security lapse has happened,” analyst Shafiq Haqpal said.

The Eid Al-Adha ceasefire between the Taliban and Afghan government forces was a part of efforts to begin long-awaited peace talks following a US-Taliban agreement signed in Qatar in late February.

In accordance with the deal, the Taliban is releasing 1,000 Afghan troops in exchange for 5,000 militants held by President Ashraf Ghani’s government.

The process is near completion, but Kabul is refusing to free 400 remaining Taliban inmates, saying they have been behind “heinous crimes.”

After Eid prayers on Sunday, Ghani announced he would summon a traditional grand assembly, Loya Jirga, to help him decide whether the rest of Taliban prisoners should be freed.

The assembly is scheduled to start on Aug. 7. Loya Jirga has deep roots in Afghan history and tradition and is usually summoned during times of crisis or emergency.

The Taliban have voiced their opposition to the convocation of the jirga. Their Qatar-based spokesman, Suhail Shaheen, told TOLO News that Kabul’s decision would only complicate the peace process.

Afghan politicians are divided on the jirga announcement. Hamidullah Tokhi, a member of parliament from southern Zabul province, said: “The nation and parliament have deep doubts about Ghani’s goal for summoning the jirga to decide over the fate of 400 Taliban.

“All of the 4,500 Taliban already freed were involved in some sort of bloody attacks. Why did the government not ask for the jirga on the overall release of the Taliban?”

“Summoning the jirga now is a treason to this country and a clear blocking of the peace process,” he said.
Torek Farhadi, who served in the previous government as an adviser, said Ghani hopes that the victory of Democrats in the upcoming US elections, would sideline Zalmay Khalilzad, the US special envoy for Afghanistan who struck the Qatar deal with the Taliban, allowing Kabul to be in charge of the peace process.
“We should have one Loya Jirga to discuss substantive matters on peace with the Taliban and the type of future regime,” Farhadi said, adding that the Taliban, too, should participate in the assembly. “This meeting would be like a half-baked national dialogue (if it is) conducted by only one side of the conflict.”