A big protest gathering has been in London to highlight huge popular opposition to Britain’s military intervention in Syria.
Protesters chanted slogans against war and urged the government to learn lessons from the experiences of lies and deception circulated to justify the illegal invasion of Iraq in 2003. The overwhelming majority of the population who attended Saturday’s protest voiced strong opposition to an invasion of Syria based on U.S.-led attempts to proclaim the popular government of President Bashar al Assad in Syria of using chemical weapons against its own people in Ghouta. Various speakers from the Stop the War Coalition (STWC) hailed the British parliament’s vote against an invasion of Syria as a “victory”. STWC convenor Lindsey German, lauded the vote saying “it was a victory in parliament. It was a vote that the politicians should have had the guts to hold 10 years ago and they didn’t.” German described STWC’s objective as to remind British imperialism of its national interests. “We’ve said for some years that one of our aims as a movement should be to break Britain from following the US in every step of its foreign policy,” she said. “This week we made that possible”. Protesters also spoke of the motives behind their participation. “I came on today’s protest to show my opposition to yet another war. They are talking about taking military action without a grain of evidence and flushing more weapons into Syria is not going to solve anything. They can’t 100 percent say the missiles won’t injure innocent civilians”, said Shalini, an actress. “There’s a real hypocrisy as they don’t have enough money to feed the poor, but have enough to finance an assault. It’s rubbish! This is not a game! “The UK’s government campaign to ‘help Syrians’ in the Middle East has nothing to do with Syria. It’s insincere. Their intention is to keep their alliance with the US and control the Middle East. Palestine, Egypt and Iran are all in their sights”, Shalini added. Amrit and Zara, students from a sixth form college in Ilford, London, said that they’ve for the first time to protest against the government’s hypocrisy. “It’s ridiculous that we have to endure cuts here and yet they have got money for another war.” Amrit said. “Missiles aren’t the answer, I don’t see the logic. I’m happy for once we are not fighting with America because of what’s happened in Iraq and Afghanistan.” “I’m from Ilford in East London which has seen so many cuts. The effects are devastating to education, leisure and health….”. Zara said, “I hate what’s going on in the Middle East. As long as there’s profit and war there won’t be peace.” Danielle, a therapist, said, “I’m anti-war and pro-peace and not in any of the political parties. If the population took a vote of no confidence we might have a chance of a decent place to live. “The government is heinous and the Labour Party is a war party and has been since Tony Blair”. “I live in Deptford which is stuck in the middle of two rich areas. The level of poverty is devastating. Working people are having to go to food banks. You have a choice: heat your house or eat. “Our whole street is now overrun with bookmakers [betting shops]. It’s frightening. There has to be a change.” Sayed from Bahrain said, “I’m here as a Bahraini citizen in solidarity with the campaign against war in Syria. Our region has had enough of wars in Iraq and Bahrain and the Saudi occupation of Bahrain. “We know what it means to have a military attack on a country that will lead to more problems and more crises. I’m campaigning against all wars in the Middle East. Our calls for freedom and justice in Bahrain have been totally ignored. The US and the UK have always supported these dictators-giving them the political coverage they need and supplying the weapons and training they require. “The crackdown is not only by the Bahraini regime but by their allies”. James, a student, said, “Western military intervention in Syria is just fundamentally wrong. The situation there is very complex and it would be easy to get carried away with speculation about motives regarding the intervention. But there is one concrete fact, and that is what I am here to protest against today; unsanctioned action would be illegal. “I do not believe that there should be any surgical strikes. Cameron and Obama insist that the Assad regime is guilty. But surely the burden of proof lies with the accuser. What jury would convict if a barrister was to say, ‘I’ve seen the evidence and trust me, it's compelling?’” His friend Sasha said, “Syria, for millennia, has been a cultural-religious melting pot and up until recent events a bastion in the Middle East for peaceful coexistence between communities of every creed. What we are witnessing now is the unspeakably tragic decomposition of this mosaic. “Our government has revealed an appalling level of appreciation for the cultural intricacies of this country, and indeed the complexities of the conflict at hand. We cannot simply pick a side, go in with our heavy hand, like bulls in a china shop, and destroy further. Such destruction will be irreparable and I personally want no part in this diabolical action.”