Friday, 31 July 2009

National demonstration set for 24 October: bring the troops home

The Stop the War Coalition has decided on a date for the national demonstration - demanding an end to the occupation of Afghanistan - in London this autumn. Saturday 24 October is the date for the first major national demo focussed on Afghanistan since November 2001, shortly after NATO troops invaded the country.

The intensifying of military operations in recent weeks has pushed the occupation up the news agenda. The efforts from politicians and press to whip up support and marginalise criticism have largely failed, as demonstrated by the Independent's recent poll which showed majority support for bringing UK troops home. The warm response Stop the War activists have received on stalls in the last couple of weeks is another indicator - here in Tyneside we're having a public stall in the centre of Newcastle tomorrow, and expect lots of support.

Anyone who's helped with Stop the War stalls will have experience of relatives of military personnel coming up and saying they agree with us, not to mention soldiers and ex-soldiers themselves expressing support. I've already blogged about Joe Glenton, who has refused to return to Afghanistan and is bravely speaking out about why he opposes the occupation. His wife, Clare, has now given her account of why she supports Joe's stand.

On a related point: yesterday's official announcement of the Iraq inquiry suggests there'll be a long campaign by anti-war activists to get justice. The inquiry panel announced that they expect their investigations to last until the end of next year and not report until 2011. It's good to learn that some hearings will probably be televised and that the whole process will be streamed online - whatever conclusions the elite Establishment panel reach, at least all the information will be out there and the key figures will be subject to scrutiny.

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