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Barbara Tucker now on hunger strike: started Thursday 27th

Paul O'Hanlon | 31.12.2012 16:36 | SOCPA | Afghanistan | Iraq | Policing | London | World

Long term Parliament Square peace campaigner Barbara Tucker is now on a hunger strike which started on Thursday 27th December 2012.

Long term Parliament Square peace campaigner Barbara Tucker is now on a hunger strike which started on Thursday 27th December 2012.

From the website Barbara says:

****Freedom**** of Expression is the most important right you can exercise to bring about change peacefully.

I did not come to Parliament Square to die and I do not want to die. I came to Parliament Square because people everywhere are entitled to - live - in peace, without the constant illegal wars being waged by government.

I have been campaigning in Parliament Square, with Brian Haw's Parliament Square Peace Campaign, 24/7 for seven years, during which time I have been unlawfully arrested 47 times and imprisoned twice without trial in Holloway Women's Prison in North London.

Our campaign's 24/7 presence reflects the fact that while wars rage and Parliament continues to only sit part-time, with many long breaks, the people do care about one another, all the time, in all weather.

We remind government that the horrendous brutality of the illegal wars have led to millions of innocent civilians suffering and dying in Iraq and Afghanistan.

On January 16th 2012, Westminster Council along with many Metropolitan Police endangered our lives by stealing our tents and their contents from Parliament Square in the middle of winter when the night time temperatures regularly plummet to well below zero degrees Celsius.

I was not prosecuted within twenty eight days as necessary under S145 (5) of the newly introduced Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011. The state knew they were breaching Health and Safety Law and wanted by making our physical survival impossible, for us to just walk away.

However, somehow I survived last winter without any shelter at all, although I was in constant pain for three months because while my body was constantly fighting the cold weather and associated dangers, I could never remain warm enough. I lost some feeling in my fingertips from frostbite. The year dragged out into the wettest on record in the UK.

As the year wore on, the state has continued desperate attempts to illegally remove our peaceful campaign.

In a revolving door process the Mayor of London, Westminster Council, and the Metropolitan Police all continued thefts of property they already had to return, from January 16th 2012, along with some illegal prosecutions over basic items we use for survival.

This woman and mother is the first person in the universe to face criminal prosecution for peaceful possession of an ..umbrella !!!! and two blankets while campaigning.

The state intend to hasten a break down of the human immune system, which placed under constant stress, fighting the elements, will mean we go or die.

It is illegal for the state to make their endangering of life a condition of our Freedom of Expression.

The daily dangers we face from our immune systems being compromised by constant exposure to all weathers include dehydration, deep vein thrombosis, frost bite, hypothermia, coma and death.

Only recently, police illegally dragged Neil out of his car while he was insured and had his 24/7 vehicle insurance number on him. Neil suffered badly bruised ribs from the violent assault by police, which has left him in constant pain.

While Neil was recovering we then both came down with flu, which has been much harder for him to overcome properly, because his immune system was already under too much stress just from the constant pain of trying to deal with badly bruised ribs with inadequate shelter. And so Neil ended up very ill which has prevented him campaigning. Without our tents, a recently returned umbrella, does not provide sufficient shelter or opportunity to properly maintain a healthy body - and - immune system.

I know with certainty that even I, am very unlikely to survive another winter without our tents, and so I have taken the serious step of beginning a hunger strike. This is not something I have ever done in seven years of peacefully campaigning here.

The purpose of my hunger strike on the doorstep of government, where we campaign, is to highlight to government their injustice in not returning our tents which are necessary for our survival as we peacefully exercise our right to Freedom of Expression now.

After fasting for five days, it is a calm opportunity to quietly reflect.

I am not asking for any concession from the law. Westminster Council had twenty eight days from January 16th 2012, to prosecute me on the pavement, and the Mayor of London had fourteen days from August 17th 2012, to agree proceedings from our being on the grass.

Through this hunger strike, I am peacefully, politely and respectfully making a simple request for the immediate return of our tents that we are legally entitled to have here and which in providing small respite, are necessary for our - very - survival, now.

Our campaign here still has much work to do.

As the West continues it's relentless march of horror and destruction through the Middle East, people come up to us in Parliament Square every day and thank us for visibly continuing the 24/7 struggle for all people, outside Parliament.

That is our Freedom of Expression.

Babs Tucker

Parliament Square Peace Campaign

See also:

Paul O'Hanlon
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Hide the following 2 comments

A brave lady.

01.01.2013 12:38

I fully admire your courage and determination, and hope it gets results.

Iain macinnes
mail e-mail:

war in the "peace camp"

12.01.2013 19:07

October 2011


...... It was 1.30 am and Maria (Gallastegui) was waiting for me. She had been charged with obstruction and a future court appearance awaits. As we walked back across town through the dark streets I quizzed her to learn more about the bitter rift that divides the Peace Camp where she has lived for in a tent for over five years now, I in mine three months.

It was pioneer activist Brian Haw who first sat down on the green in Parliament Square in June 2001, initially to protest sanctions against Iraq. Maria was one of the first to join Parliament Square Peace Campaign (PSPC) as the situation heightened from sanctions to invasion and war. She became Brian's campaign manager. Among other supporters who joined later, however, was Australian Barbara Tucker, who became a close influence on Brian Haw. She called Maria “the Bitch” and accused her and other people camped out on Parliament Square of being agents provocateurs. As a result Haw stopped speaking to Maria, and disassociated himself from the 'Peace Strike' campaign which she set up. Since his death from cancer earlier this year Tucker has taken over the running of PSPC, and the enmity she shows to the 'Peace Strike' campaign is deep.

"It would be easier to solve the conflict between Israel and Palestine than it would the issues between the protesters on Parliament Square, ” sighed Maria.

I know what she's talking about. When I was first given permission by Maria to move into a vacant tent on the side of the square facing Westminster Abbey I had little contact with the handful of veteran Brian Haw members on the side facing Parliament. Barbara Tucker was serving a sentence in prison at the time, but the others looked with disdain and suspicion on the mostly homeless unemployed campers I lived among, and never had a word of greeting. We were in Coventry as far as they were concerned. However, after police arrived early one morning on 31 August to dismantle and cart away tents and structures which had belonged to the deceased Brian Haw on the grounds that they were 'litter', and saying that they would be coming the next morning to evict those camped on the Abbey side, me and a couple of others decided to move our tents into the vacated space at the front. Into a hornets' nest. The Haw clique were irate, saying we were desecrating ground sacred to his memory and threatening us with violence if we didn't move. My friends disappeared but I remained, adamant that I had as much right to be there as they did. It wasn't very comfortable. They wouldn't let me to attach any pictures to the wire fence behind my tent, I heard them saying nasty things about me as they sat outside in their conversation at night, and I found a hole had been punched in the side of my tent.

I had no contact with Barbara Tucker on her release from prison until she suddenly appeared at my tentside one evening a couple of weeks ago and seized a giant silver plastic and cardboard sickle which I had propped against the fence. I had found it in the street on the other side of town (possibly used in a Harvest Festival ceremony in a church) and carried it back propped against my shoulder prompting many a fearful or amused look, me looking like the grim reaper, what with my black garb and skullcap. Tucker took the scythe and moved it several yards away down the fence, saying "This has nothing to do with our protest!" I called her a bully. The next day I saw it had been tossed over the fence and was lying on the green. I asked one of the wardens inside to pass it over and I took it to the park next to Parliament, tossed it ceremonially over the embankment into the Thames and watched as it slowly floated away.

Arriving back at the camp at 2.30 am and drained after our incarceration in the police station, Maria and I wished each other goodnight and retired to our quarters. As I unzipped my tent I heard a radio playing in the one next to me, usually but rarely occupied by a burly man from the Haw group. A strange woman looked out and began chatting to me. She said Barbara had let her use the tent for the weekend, and wasn't she incredible? I agreed that I thought her incredible, but in a negative way. I crawled into my tent and got ready for bed, but the woman (who reminded me of a younger Maggie Smith in looks and manner) lingered at her opening, asking if my tent were fireproof, expressing timidity at the mice scampering around, and commenting on a drunken argument going on between two young men on the other side of the road in front of Parliament.

"I hate violence."

Suddenly Barbara Tucker was standing there between us, bloated and tousled.

"Don't speak to this guy. He's not part of our campaign. He's just a little piece of shit who pushed his way in here and took over our space with no respect for Brian. Don't talk to him. He's not on our side. He's just a little piece of shit!"

My neighbour glared at me as she disappeared into her tent and zipped up the flap. Babs stormed off. Angry at her words, but grateful for some peace at last, I closed up my own entrance and went to sleep.

The next day, Sunday, after my morning trip to the internet cafe I went to Westminster Bridge where the UK Uncut organization were staging a sit-down protest about the cuts being planned in the National Health Service by the Coalition Government Bill. There was a carnival feeling as over 2000 people, including many dressed as medics, brandished banners and placards, shared picnics and stories and made their opposition heard. Remembering the result of the previous day I decided not to sit down on the bridge, but walked around displaying my collage of Cameron on the toilet, listening and talking to others, and collecting the leaflets and flyers being handed out by activists.

Deciding to take a break and have a smoke in my tent I went back to the nearby Peace Camp to find a large number of lemon-jacketed policemen in pairs standing along the curb. One of the Haw group, an aggressive Arab named Akil, approached, filming me with a video camera and saying: "You shouldn't leave your tent unattended or it could be removed. Did you not know that? Naughty, naughty!" Others including Barbara Tucker surrounded my tent as I unzipped to enter, telling me to get lost, and that I was going to be forcibly removed. I lost patience and raised my voice. I told Ms Tucker that I would never address another human being as a "little piece of shit", and that if she really wanted to remove something it should be the banner attached to the fence above her tent which proclaims; 'FREE POLITICAL PRISONER BARBARA TUCKER'. She has been out of prison for nearly a month and yet it still hangs there.

"I might be re arressted," she retorted.

"But you're free now, so it's a lie. Take it down!"

They went back to their little circle, saying that my tent would be removed by the police if I left it unoccupied. I approached two policemen who were standing nearby and asked if it were true. They said they were only on duty in the square because of the demonstration on the bridge and it was not their duty to remove tents. I told them that I was going to go out again for about half an hour and asked them if they would keep an eye on my tent and stop anyone from moving it. They said they would. I went back to Westminster Bridge to catch the end of the protest. Police vans were blocking access as best they could but I managed to get through. Protesters were holding a "general assembly" in the middle of the bridge, similar to those organised by campaigners on Wall Street, where they discussed future demonstrations against the government's cuts. At the other side of the bridge a loudspeaker with a big 'A' on it was blasting out some excellent music so I had an energetic dance to get rid of my tensions and then went back to the camp.

I was shocked to see that my tent was gone. It had been carried and dumped unceremoniously in a vacant place at the other end of the pavement from the Haw settlement. Some of them approached.

"So sorry to see your tent has been moved!" simpered a long-haired European with a scant beard, his arms raised in a camp pose. I copied him. I'm a good mimic.

"Fuck off!" said he.

"Fuck off!" said I.



They retreated, their task over, the thorn removed from their side. The police said they hadn't witnessed the move, but if I wanted to complain I should go to Charing Cross Police Station. I decided against it. What would be the point? When I inspected the tent I found it had been damaged. One of the supporting metal beams had become crushed and bent, so it now leans over crookedly. And when I went inside to rearrange my belongings I found a long gob of phlegm on my sleeping bag. Someone had spat on it.

The Haw group were sitting in their circle. I went to congratulate them.

"I will have to accept my new place and live in it. You don't speak to me. I shall follow suit and not speak to you either. But first I would just like to say that I consider you all to be hypocritical snobs and bullies. You have nothing to do with peace. And if Brian Haw knew about your behaviour he would be turning in his grave!"

Now, a few days later I feel much better to be out of the vicinity of their paranoid poison, and even have the freedom to hang an exhibition of my political collages on the fence behind my tent, including the one of Cameron on the toilet, but one thing is for certain, the name 'Peace Camp' is certainly a misnomer for this bitterly divided place. It's more like a war zone.



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