Sunday, 28 June 2009

Stop the War: busy times ahead

Student anti-war contingent on Put People First demo, 28 March 2009

I went to London yesterday for a very good Stop the War steering committee. The meeting mapped out a busy few months ahead, including ideas for protesting around the Iraq inquiry. The anti-war movement certainly still has a great deal to be getting on with.

Lindsey German, Stop the War convenor, led a discussion about the current political situation and the challenges we face. Afghanistan and Pakistan constitute a big priority, with AfPak (as the US generals call their 'mission') now the major front in the 'war on terror'. Obama is continuing business as usual in this part of the world - indeed there's an intensification of operations, from both the Americans and our own armed forces.

Iraq is going to be a bigger campaign focus than anticipated, especially as much of the inquiry will be in public. This starts soon and will last a whole year. It was felt we should extend our campaigning around this to encompass Afghanistan and the demand to bring all our troops home.

There'll be protests at the inquiry - many people will no doubt look forward to demonstrating when Blair makes his appearance! It was also agreed that anti-war activists should make written submissions to the inquiry and lobby for our representatives to get a hearing in the inquiry itself.

Islamaphobia was also discussed. There's added urgency in resisting the rising tide of anti-Muslim racism after the election of two MEPs for the BNP, a party that systematically fosters hatred of Muslim communities. The launch meeting for a major new initiative - Kafa/Enough - took place on Friday in London, with over 200 people hearing speeches by Lindsey German, George Galloway, Daud Abdullah of the MCB, rapper Lowkey and others. There should be local launch meetings in the months ahead, up and down the country.

An exciting development for us in the North East is that our near-neighbours in Edinburgh will be hosting big protests this November. The G20 finance ministers meet in Scotland around 7 November, followed by NATO'S defence ministers just a week later. They will be greeted by thousands of anti-war voices calling for an end to war, occupation and racism. We will of course be mobilising in large numbers from Tyneside.

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