Largest Demo in 10 Years-
NOT IN OUR NAME
London saw one of the UK's biggest demonstrations in over a decade (Sunday 18 November) when over a hundred thousand people from across the country gathered to call for an end to the US-led bombardment of Afghanistan. Pro-peace campaigners from a wide cross-section(pics) of society converged on Speaker's Corner in Hyde Park and marched to the landmark space of Trafalgar Square.
Speakers included members of CND, ex-Labour MP Tony Benn who attacked the Blair government and a key UK muslim cleric who addressed the vast crowd with award-winning Pakistan-born journalist Tariq Ali. Both reminded people that the square itself is named after Cabo de Trafalgar in Spain which owes its title to the muslim Moors from Morocco.
There was widespread criticism of inconsistencies in US and UK foreign policy with many people chanting "Bush, Blair, CIA ... How many kids did you kill today?" An estimated 5,000 people in the Anti Capitalist/Anti Globalisation block danced behind a samba band which entertained the crowd despite a continuous and sometimes aggressive police cordon that surrounded them for the duration of the march.
Reporters at The Guardian and the BBC lost the ability to count and failed to even make estimates but used reports that police claimed that 15,000 people attended the demonstration. Organisers and protesters themselves have put the figure at closer to 80-100,000. It has been confirmed that 20 buses came from Birmingham alone while a further seven came from Bristol and many more came from other cities across the UK.
In Italy a mass day of anti-war action under the banner 'Disobedienti' (Disobedience) saw students occupy schools and universities in Rome, Milan, Trieste, Torino, Ancona, Macerata, Belluno-Feltre, Rimini, Venezia and Jesi. In Taranto - the port from which Italian military personnel are being sent to Afghanistan - the local Education Office was occupied. Check out IndymediaItaly.
Peace campaigners are continuing to criticise the applause surrounding the fall of a majority of Afghanistan to the Northern Alliance who - like the Taliban before them - have an appalling human rights track record. There are further fears that - as winter approaches - the humanitarian crisis confronting millions of Afghani refugees will worsen. The bombing of the Kabul offices of a key independent Arabic news service - Al Jazeera - by US air forces has also been widely condemned.
Meanwhile, in the UK itself, the Home Office has declared a 'state of emergency' permitting the UK Government authorities to 'intern' terrorist suspects without trial.
[ Schnews | Statewatch