I am helping organise this Saturday's 'Naming the Dead' event in the centre of Newcastle, to mark the 200th death of a UK soldier in the long war in Afghanistan. We plan to read out the names of all the British soldiers and 200 Afghans killed since October 2001, when NATO troops invaded. This follows Monday's ceremony at the Cenotaph in Whitehall (press pictured above), and co-incides with similar events elsewhere.
One of the other organisers has produced and circulated a press release, which I think sums it up very well, so I'm publishing the main part of it here:
'Tyneside Stop the War will be holding a Naming of the Dead Ceremony at Grey's Monument, Newcastle, as a further 5 troops have died in Afghanistan this weekend taking the total of military dead in Afghanistan to 204.
According to the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) 1,013 civilians have been killed between January 1st 2009 and June 30th 2009. It is estimated that 13,000 innocent civilians - men, women and children - have been killed since the war began in 2001.
Tyneside Stop the War will name a solider who has died during service followed by a civilian who has been killed.
Tyneside Stop the War and the Stop the War Coalition as a whole supports our brave service personnel. They are doing their jobs under the most extreme of circumstances but we can’t condone or submit to the government's reasons why our armed forces are fighting in Afghanistan, where they are both ill-equipped and dying for no good reason in an un-winnable war.'
Also: read Afghan MP Malalai Joya's powerful words about this week's farcical elections HERE.