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Year 2005 No. 41, March 21, 2005 ARCHIVE HOME JBBOOKS SUBSCRIBE

May 19 Rally in Trafalgar Square

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May 19 Rally in Trafalgar Square

Statement from Stop the War Coalition, CND and the Muslim Association of Britain, Handed into the US Embassy and Downing Street

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May 19 Rally in Trafalgar Square

By the time the first marchers reached Trafalgar Square, the square was already full of protesters who had gone there directly and the speeches had started. Over the next three hours, speaker after speaker called for strengthening the unity of the diverse anti-war movement, resisting the attacks on democratic rights, withdrawing British troops from Iraq and holding the warmongers in the government to account, particularly during the upcoming general elections.

Paul Mackney of the college and university lecturers' union NATFHE called on the government to end its occupation of Iraq and to use the funds released to reintroduce grants for students and to provide pensions. He also demanded that it end its discrimination against Sinn Fein and fully implement the Good Friday Accords.

Lindsey German of the Stop the War Coalition made the link between the state terrorism being practised by the Anglo-Americans and the economic terrorism of the big powers and called on all present to take part in the mobilisation against the G8 summit, which is due to be held in Edinburgh in the summer.

Dr Daud Abdullah, assistant secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain, called for peace, freedom and independence in Iraq and called on those present to remember the people of Syria, Iran and Venezuela who are threatened by war. He demanded that those responsible for the destruction of Iraq and the rape of its wealth be held to account.

Sami Ramadani, an Iraqi exile living in Britain, declared that the US occupation forces had entered Iraq against the wishes of its people and that John Negroponte had been appointed as "ambassador" to Iraq to organise terrorism including planting bombs in mosques and kidnapping foreigners who were sympathetic to the cause of the Iraqi people. He declared that he was confident that the people of the Middle East would defeat US imperialism.

Bruce Kent of CND said that Tony Blair kept repeating that it was necessary to draw a line under Iraq and move on. However, he said that the line which needed to be drawn was the line between those who have committed murder and those who haven't and Tony Blair was on the wrong side of that line. He finished his speech by declaring, "I don't care if you're Christian, Muslim, agnostic or atheist, we all have a common faith in a better humanity."

Craig Murray, former British ambassador to Uzbekistan who will be standing against Jack Straw in the upcoming election, noted that the government had established that evidence procured through torture was now admissible in British courts. He declared that what the government was doing was criminal and we must stop them. He continued, "Whitehall has become a machine which produces lies on a scale of Joseph Goebbels. The media calls it spin but it is state propaganda and it is leading us to view our fellow Muslim citizens as a threat." He finished his speech by declaring that if anyone votes for a Labour candidate in the upcoming election, some of the blood of Labour's crimes would find its way onto their fingers and remain there permanently.

George Galloway called on those present to take a stand in the elections in May and vote to clear out the liars and murderers. He declared that there was no point demonstrating and then rewarding Blair in the election. He called on voters to ask their MPs if they had voted to kill 100,000 people in Iraq.

Fareed Sabri of the Muslim Association of Britain called on peace loving people to keep up the pressure on Britain to pull its troops out of Iraq. He pointed out that two years into the occupation of Iraq there was 60% unemployment in that country. He ended his speech by declaring: "Let our slogans be – No More Unjust Wars! No Blood For Oil! Bring Our Troops Home!"

Alys Elicia Zairin of School Students against War confirmed the passionate dedication of the school students to the struggle against the war and occupation, and explained that on the previous Thursday some 500 school students had taken part in a vigil against the occupation of Iraq and any future wars.

Sheikh Ahmad Kassim, a political prisoner during the days of apartheid South Africa, declared that it was the oppressors who should be in the dock. He said that whereas we should be against imperialist wars of colonial conquest we should be for revolutionary wars of resistance and liberation. He said that he had been condemned as a terrorist and incarcerated on Robben Island, but his only crime was that he had terrorised the oppressors and for this he was unrepentant.

Martin Mubanga, who was recently released from Guantanamo Bay after spending 33 months there, hailed the unity of the people of different colours, beliefs and political outlooks. He asked how much longer we would tolerate the injustices which are being committed in the world, including the locking up of people without a trial and the murders being committed by the leaders of various countries. He continued, "We must come together for the common cause of justice and truth and we should not allow these so-called righteous politicians to get away with atrocities. They create destruction everywhere in the name of democracy. No more war in our name! No more hypocrisy!"

Other speakers at the rally included Birmingham anti-war activist Salma Yaqoob, Tony Benn, Tariq Ali, Billy Hayes of the Communications Workers Union, Caroline Lucas of the Green Party, US peace activist Joe Fahey, Shami Chakrabati of Liberty, MP Jeremy Corbyn, National Union of Journalists general secretary Jeremy Dear, and Mary Compton, president of the National Union of Teachers who was speaking in a personal capacity. Anas AlTikriti and Dr Adnan Siddiqui also spoke from the Muslim community. Reg Keys and Rose Gentle, parents of soldiers killed in Iraqi, also addressed the rally. Messages from Ken Livingstone, mayor of London, and the Committee for Democracy in Iran were read out to the rally.

Following the speeches, there were a number of anti-war musical performances including contributions from The Unpeople, Lowkey and Martin Mubanga.

Building a block to the wave of reaction

What was characteristic of the speeches at the rally, despite any differences in orientation and irrespective of their varying ideologies, was that they reflected the growing unity in action of the anti-war forces. They reflected the determination to strengthen the will and organisation of those forces to confront the warmongering programme of the Bush and Blair administrations and to reject the justifications which the Anglo-Americans give for their project of global domination. In this respect, there is a growing consciousness of the need to draw warranted conclusions from the events unfolding before the eyes of the working class and people.

It has also been particularly noticeable, given the coverage of the so-called "cedar revolution", "orange revolution" and other so-called "pro-democracy movements", that there has been an almost total news blackout on this 100,000-strong demonstration, especially a lack of informed news on the content of the rally and what the demonstrators are demanding. Such a demonstration in the countries that the Anglo-Americans are targeting would have been analysed as a powerful movement against the government that has undermined its legitimacy, and demands raised that the government should go. Here it is taken as evidence of a freedom to demonstrate, and then ignored. Meanwhile, legislation is being put in place actually to outlaw such protest on grounds of "security" and the need to ensure that parliamentary processes are not jeopardised.

The demonstration has thus emphasised, as many speakers pointed out, the need of the people to confront the wave of reaction and war in this coming period, and to resist the pressure not to set their own agenda.

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Statement from Stop the War Coalition, CND and the Muslim Association of Britain, Handed into the US Embassy and Downing Street

To:  President George Bush

      Prime Minister Tony Blair

Dear Mr Bush and Mr Blair

On behalf of the thousands of people demonstrating in London today – alongside millions around the world – on this, the second anniversary of the unlawful and unnecessary aggression against Iraq, we urge you to change the dangerous policies being followed under the heading of the "war on terror".

In particular, we demand that you:

Set an early date for the swift withdrawal of your troops from occupied Iraq, as the Italian government has been forced to do, and restore full and unconditional sovereignty to the Iraqi people.

Pledge not to launch attacks against Iran, Syria, or any other sovereign state, to abide in future by international law, abandon the pernicious doctrine of "pre-emptive war" and to seek the peaceful resolution of international disputes.

Cease placing restrictions on the human rights of the citizens of the USA, Britain and other countries of the world, end the torture of detainees and all imprisonment without trial – at Guantanamo Bay above all.

Cease all support for Israel’s illegal and brutal occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, as a pre-requisite for any peace between Israel and the Palestinian people.

Comply with your obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and begin to disarm your own nuclear weapons.

Only such a change of policy can start to ease international tension, in the Middle East in particular, and restore respect for human rights.

Yours

Andrew Murray, Chair Stop the War Coalition

Kate Hudson, Chair, Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament

Anas Altikriti, Muslim Association of Britain

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