BBC Home
Explore the BBC
BBC News
Launch consoleBBC NEWS CHANNEL
Last Updated: Saturday, 15 March 2008, 19:44 GMT
Irony brings home anti-war message
By Dan Bell
BBC News

Pin-up costumed peace activist
Police look forward to Ms Sumer attending anti-war protests

As thousands descend on Trafalgar Square to mark the fifth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, the sea of placards is punctuated by pirates, drag queens and a pin-up girl.

With the war now grinding into its sixth year, protesters are using irony and the absurd to re-energise their message and reach the broadest possible audience.

Inanna Sumer, 35, is wearing shiny silver boots, fishnet stockings and a 60s mini-dress that has, shall we say, come a little undone at the front.

An activist from north London, she is representing pin-ups for peace - an activist organisation that has decided if sex sells, you might as well use it to sell something worthwhile.


She flicks her auburn locks, which may or may not be a wig, juts out a hip, and says: "It's like Miss World, what does Miss World want? World peace! Where is Miss World when you need her?"

Ms Sumer is an old hand at the politics of the absurd and has brought her make-love-not-war message to numerous demonstrations.

She says the police look forward to seeing her too, so everyone's happy.

Protestor dressed as a fairy
The fall-out fairy lost her wings to radiation sickness

"The first time I turned up and spoke to police officers the reaction was amazing," she says.

"[They said] we love it when you turn up; it gives us something lovely to look at."

But should you be having fun at an anti-war protest?

"There are a few people who have just said, let's make this look good, let's make this look glamorous."

"It's about making protests attractive to people and although it's about serious issues, it's a celebration of the right to protest."

Ms Sumer says Pin-ups for Peace are part of a long tradition of using theatre as a means of dissent, a tradition that was revived in the carnival-like atmosphere of the anti-road protests during the late 1980s.

"And it's a little bit cheeky," Ms Sumer grins.

Trafalgar Square's inner circle, with its lions and fountains, is packed to capacity with protesters of all ages, many of whom have clearly put time and creativity into the demonstration.

It's not war loot, it shouldn't be seen as a booty chest
Ewa Jasiewicz

Muffled reggae beats waft through the crowd from a tricycle pulling a small speaker and mixing desk.

The music mingles with the sound of the fountains, the shouts of vendors hawking placards, and the voices of speakers condemning the war from a stage at the foot of Nelson's Column.

Another protester who is making her point with a frock and make-up is the Fall-Out Fairy.

She may not be as alluring as the Pin-ups for Peace girl, but she is certainly as striking.

Also Known as Peter Lux, the Fall-Out Fairy has slipped into the spangly lace and sequins number to protest against the war and Britain's nuclear weapons programme at Aldermaston near Reading.

Protestor dressed as a pirate
Ewa Jasiewicz says Iraq's oil is being looted as 'booty of war'

The 45-year-old web designer from Suffolk looks distraught through her thick make up as she explains that radiation sickness has made her wings fall off.

She perks up a bit though as she explains why she chose to dress up. "It's kind of fun, it adds colour to the protest."

Ewa Jasiewicz, 29, a human rights activist and journalist from London, has come as a pirate to protest against what she describes as the looting of Iraqi oil.

'Piracy and plunder'

"This is the hidden story of the economic occupation of Iraq," she says.

Ms Jasiewicz, who said she spent nine months with Iraqi oil workers between June 2003 and February 2004, said she wants to draw attention to the efforts to privatise Iraq's oil reserves and take them out of the hands of the Iraqi population.

She describes the economic aspect of the occupation as "corporate piracy and plunder".

"It's not war loot, it shouldn't be seen as a booty chest. The people of Iraq should decide what happens to their resources."


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific