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Year 2005 No. 23, February 15, 2005 ARCHIVE HOME JBBOOKS SUBSCRIBE

Demonstration at Labour Party Spring Conference Demands End to Occupation of Iraq

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Demonstration at Labour Party Spring Conference Demands End to Occupation of Iraq

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Demonstration at Labour Party Spring Conference Demands End to Occupation of Iraq

On Saturday, February 12, Tyneside Stop the War Coalition organised a demonstration against the continued occupation of Iraq and the plans of the US and Britain to extend their wars of aggression yet further. Hundreds of police were drafted in alongside the huge police operation already in place, which had sealed off Gateshead south of the Tyne Bridge around the Sage Centre, where the Labour Party spring conference was taking place.

Several hundred demonstrators gathered in the grounds of St Thomas, the Martyr Church after the City Council had instructed the police to stop the march from starting in the traditional place in Ceremonial Way. None of these measures which have turned Newcastle and Gateshead into cities under police rule deterred the demonstrators who proceeded behind a huge banner End the Occupation of Iraq! The march passed through the centre of Newcastle and onto the quayside opposite the Sage Centre. A militant rally took place chaired by Martin Levy of the Tyneside Stop the War Coalition, which was addressed by Yunus Baksh (Unison National Executive), Hayley Green (Women in Black), Simon Hall (Tyneside Stop the War Coalition), Marion a relation of Gordon Gentle who was a soldier killed in Iraq and Andrew Grey (CND).

Martin Levy said that some people in the media had questioned him as to why they were demonstrating and he pointed out that not only was the main purpose of the demonstration to demand the withdrawal of British troops from Iraq but that New Labour had waged war in every year it had been in office firstly in Kosovo, followed by Afghanistan and next it was Iraq. Now the government’s partner in crime the US was threatening to attack Iran, Syria, Korea, Cuba and Venezuela.

Yunus Baksh denounced Tony Blair and his fellow war criminals "across the river" detailing the crimes against humanity that they had committed in Iraq. He highlighted Gillian Slovo’s article in the Guardian where she stated that all these new measures of detention without charge, including house arrest, reminded her of her childhood under the racist South African apartheid regime. He asked how it was that a government that styles itself as a "people’s government" had to spend £4 million to keep the people of the North East away from it.

Hayley Green spoke about the UNICEF findings on the torture and murder of children in present wars and in particular remarked on the deliberate lack of information about this question in Iraq giving estimates based on the Lancet report.

Simon Hall spoke about the coming National Demonstration on March 19 and other events.

Marion then denounced Tony Blair saying that the soldiers are being sent to Iraq not to defend the country but to die for this government's lies and demanded that they be brought home.

Andrew Grey pointed out that New Labour’s "pledges" did not mention a pledge to withdraw from Iraq, or against further wars and occupations and he outlined a number of anti-war pledges, in line with international law that the movement should demand are taken up.

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