'I believe marching makes a difference. By being on the streets we get closer to the point of bringing the troops home. Everyone should bring one or two other people – people who have never been on a demonstration before, who aren’t activists. I used to be the person who sat in the chair. I’d watch the protests and think, I want to be part of that. It took my son’s death to push me into doing something. Demonstrate to show the government that we are strong.'
These are the words of Peter Brierly, whose son (Lance Corporal Shaun Brierly, pictured) was killed in Iraq, urging those who have never protested before to join the 24 October demonstration - called by Stop the War - demanding our troops are brought home from Afghanistan. Soldiers, ex-soldiers and the relatives of soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan are expected to have a more significant presence than on most previous marches. For those of us who regularly do Stop the War stalls in high streets and elsewhere, the increase in support for our message from families of serving soldiers has been noticeable.
Not only have over 200 UK soldiers died in Afghanistan, it's estimated around 2000 have been seriously injured. Thousands more will have experienced serious psychological effects. Every British soldier must have known other soldiers who have been killed or wounded. The troops come back home and tell their stories to relatives and friends; the experiences they speak of touch others, influence their thoughts and feelings about the war.
It is powerful and important when those directly affected by the wars and occupations speak of their experiences, especially when they - like Peter Brierly and Military Families Against the War - have the strength and determination to channel it into campaigning for peace. There are more and more like them.
Saturday 24 October - assemble noon at Hyde Park - march to Trafalgar Square