I’ve just returned home from the World Against War demo today in London. It was a fantastic event, with an excellent turnout (between 10-40,000, according to the BBC) and a great atmosphere. The march was called to mark five years since the invasion of Iraq, although Israel’s recent crimes in Gaza were definitely on everyone’s mind – which is excellent, of course. The march was convened by the Stop the War Coalition around three basic demands: troops out from Afghanistan and Iraq, no attack on Iran and an end to the siege of Gaza. On all three, as Tony Benn was sure to remind us, the marchers spoke for the majority of British and world public opinion. Here are some pics from the event. Note: I mainly hung around with the "Free, Free Palestine!" crowd, so they’re probably disproportionately represented below.
People slowly filling Trafalgar Square, at around 12 noon.
"Viva, viva Palestina!"
"Occupation is a crime! Israel out of Palestine!"
"If you tremble indignation at every injustice then you are a comrade of mine."
We started with a rally in Trafalgar Square. There were the usual list of speakers – Tony Benn, George Galloway, Azzam Tamimi, Lindsey German (who is running for Mayor of London), Andrew Murray, Caroline Lucas MEP, and so on – as well some new ones, for example a Palestinian lady from Hebron and Nick Broomfield, director of the excellent Battle for Haditha. Da yoof was represented by the head of a student anti-war group – in 2003 children throughout the country walked out of school to protest the invasion.
This one caused a serious shortage in chalk supplies.
Following the U.S.-backed Ethiopian invasion of Somalia in December 2006, the country is now suffering one of the worst refugee crises in the world, paralleled only by that in Iraq.
After the rally we marched across Westminster bridge, along the bank, back across Lambeth bridge and on to Parliament Square.
To give an idea of the scale of the protest, the picture above shows Westminster bridge, taken from Lambeth bridge. It’s not very clear, thanks to my rusty old four megapixel camera, but the bridge is packed with protestors. I stayed around for a while to see when it would end, but people just kept coming.
"End the siege of Gaza! Now, now, now!"
We finished in Parliament Square with a second, smaller rally. At the end, one of the leaders of the Palestinian flag group (a guy from the Palestinian Forum in Britain, who was Palestinian himself) made a very important point. He thanked everyone for coming to show solidarity with the Palestinians because, he said, they need all the help they can get. At the same time, he emphasised that it is not our place to tell Palestinians what they must or must not accept. When it comes to their rights, it is up to the Palestinians to decide for themselves. Our job as citizens of states which support and facilitate the Israeli occupation is to do what we can to force Israel to make the Palestinians a reasonable offer, and to strengthen the position of the Palestinians as much as possible through solidarity and protest.
Update: lenin has some more photos here. This one in particular is a cracker: